Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rescheduled Regency

The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers  were supposed to host a Regency ball the week of the snowstorm, so it was rescheduled to this past Saturday. Honestly, after a flurry to finish my dress before the original date, my motivation was lacking to get anything done for the replacement.

Luckily, I really wanted to be clothed...and to be a princess. So I ended up with a very late night on Friday and some hectic pre-ball sewing all day on Saturday (thanks, Quinn!). The dress is totally untrimmed and has some issues, but I actually feel much better about it than I did on Saturday. It's on the docket to really finish for the Regency weekend in April, but in the meantime--the ball was so much fun! I took a lot of pictures, so even if this isn't a dress post, I can still share Pride and Prejudice with you.

Antonia calling a dance--it was a good sized ball. Full, but not excessively crowded

This picture reminds me of a shot from a period drama

Ladies chatting before the ball. Quinn had a fabulous new dress too--check it out on her blog!

taking a dancing break

As we only used the upstairs room of the hall, at intermission the doors were thrown open and the table of food was carried in. Very dramatic! (as usual, I am making a judgey face...)

Taking refreshments

I like food pictures...sorry.

During intermission members of CVD performed "The Cottage Bonnet," a super fun Regency dance that was more complicated than what we did at the ball...and something everyone can learn at the Regency Weekend in April!

Julia kindly took my camera for a bit, so I could be in dancing pictures

After the ball we took lots of pictures, as always. Julia had fabulous hair!

being Greek Muses...sort of. 

CVD group shot! It was fun to be in color for once, as our Regency performance dresses are white

My post-ball portrait. The curls were an experiment...they looked better at the beginning of the evening, but they held up rather well.

and really, my post- post- ball portrait in which I wear my Batman sweater, have crazy hair, and look judgey. Yep, that's me.
I am so looking forward to Returning Heroes and the Regency Weekend! The ball gave me a lot of new (and much needed) motivation to sew, and I'm rolling with it...which also means a return to tartan posts. Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Snow Cowboys

I am hard-wired to bake when it snows. Last weekend, during our record-breaking storm, I wanted to do something new and fun. One flavor combination kept popping into my head: butterscotch and Bailey's. When I lived in Scotland we used to do shots called "cowboys," which were butterscotch liquor with Bailey's floated on top. They were delicious, and somehow in my head that turned into cupcakes.

cake batter, yum!
So off I went! By the end of the day I had also baked Texas Sheet Cake cupcakes by request, so it was overall a day full of very cold cowboys.

Left: Texas cupcakes, Right: cowboys
Finding a good butterscotch recipe was actually harder than I expected, so I ended up adapting several recipes to get what I wanted.  The result: Butterscotch cupcakes with Bailey's buttercream frosting and butterscotch sauce drizzle. My drizzling technique needs work, but even so--these little guys were delicious. Everyone in my family liked them, and they had a sweet nostalgia of Edinburgh in winter that was an extra treat.

Here are the recipes as I used them--follow the links for the originals. As I noted, none of these were purely created by me!

Butterscotch Cupcakes, from Martha Stewart's Butterscotch-Pecan Cake

(preheat oven to 325 degrees)

  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons rum (preferably dark)
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, and rum. Alternate dry ingredients with buttermilk. Batter should be a fairly dense consistency (don't over-mix!). I like to scoop mine into cups with an ice cream scoop. Bake at 325 for about 20 minutes.

Bailey's Frosting, adapted from this fabulous frosting recipe from Cooking Classy

3 sticks butter
4 (with more if needed) cups powdered sugar
3 Tbs Bailey's Irish Cream
a splash of light cream

Butter until light and fluffy before adding other ingredients. Beat until preferred consistency--I go about 8 minutes.

Drizzle cupcakes with butterscotch sauce--I used this one from Smitten Kitchen


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Staying Warm

If you haven't caught the news recently, New England has been hit with a classic Nor'Easter, and the Regency ball this evening has been rescheduled. Instead of furiously finishing my new ballgown and zipping off for adventures, I'll be adventuring in the kitchen with a new cupcake recipe.

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has started a Pinterest page of snow-related art in the collection, and I was feeling particularly inspired by a couple of their posts.

Park Street, Boston, about 1908. Arthur Clifton Goodwin

Snow Scene, about 1889. Theodore M. Wendel

Aren't those fabulous?

The MFA's new American Wing has a room devoted to Boston impressionists, and there's a snow scene from that collection that is one of my favorite paintings on display. It's a beautiful image, it's Boston, and look at all the fabulous winter clothes!

Boston Common at Twilight, 1885-6. Childe Hassam
 While I won't be wearing anything this fantastic today, here are some fabulous winter pieces for the next storm.

Ermine accessories, 1890s (MET)

silk velvet and ermine embroidered ladies' shoes, 1840s (MFA)

fur-trimmed jacket by Pingat, 1885 (V&A)
Overboots, 1870s (MET)
fur and silk bonnet, 1870 (MET)
Striped Spencer, 1805
Evening coat by Worth, 1894 (MET)
Evening coat by Worth, 1912 (Charleston Museum)
Winter boots belonging to Empress Eugenie, 1862 (Bowes Museum)

Skating vest, 1870s (Manchester Gallery)--see Antonia's post on swan's down for more

red silk quilted skating ensemble, 1860s
Off to play in the snow!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Packing Up

Today is all about preparation. I'm working on my basic Regency dress pattern, as I'll need several dresses for April, and my "test" garment will be a new ballgown for the Pride and Prejudice Ball next weekend.

Unfortunately, I have a terrible procrastination habit, and the dress is still currently a pile of fabric...and I'm away on a business trip all of next week. The solution? I will be hand sewing my dress in the hotel! Hooray! Which makes today the day to finalize my pattern changes, cut the thing out, baste down the lining for each piece, and whack the big long seams into the skirt.

Wish me luck! In the meantime, here are some reference images I'm pulling for (loosely) for this dress. I was mainly inspired by this portrait of Hortense Bonaparte, Queen of Holland, from 1808:

she has beautiful clothes
As it happens I also have pink and white fabric for this project.  So I am going for it, and making a ridiculous princess dress. The dress will be pink with a white inset on the front and white worked into the sleeves somehow. I haven't totally figured it out, but these dresses both had sleeves that appealed to me.

from Ackerman's, 1818

April 1816