Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Flattening the Curve

Every day at 2 p.m. Governor DeWine addresses the state and Dr. Amy Acton gives a medical update. I have come to look forward to these updates each day. They have become the point to which all mornings look forward and to which all evenings look back. There is comfort in having that daily update and to hear the calm, reassuring voices of our leaders; expressing concern but also hope. The last few days especially! WE ARE DOING THIS! Our numbers keep getting better each day. I am not a very politically minded person and before this crisis I didn't particularly like (or dislike) DeWine, but I think that we are incredibly lucky to have him leading our state during this time. Dr. Amy is awesome and beautiful and is like a mother to all of us here. I am so grateful to be an Ohioan and so proud of my adopted state. I feel that we are coming together so much as a family here. We are all connected to each other and depend on each other. As Dr. Amy said yesterday, we are saving each other. (Yes, there are and will always be assholes who don't care, but by and large we are definitely working together to keep each other safe!)

The first week of April has brought the emergence of many flowers - daffodils are in full bloom in front of the house though in the backyard, under the trees, they haven't yet blossomed. My peach trees are covered in white flowers. My lilac  blossoms are forming and there are so many of them this year! The yard is carpeted in violets. In the woods flowers are a sea of pale pink and creamy white on the forest floor. 

Day by day I struggle for balance, emotionally and mentally. I always have an underlying tense feeling but some days it is worse than others. It seems a lot of people have been experiencing similar feelings. Some days I have bursts of strong energy and get so much done. I feel capable and strong and optimistic. Other days I can't do much more than make sure the kids are clean and fed and have done at least *some* schoolwork, and spend time curled up in my chair crying my eyes out. Last week I had a few bad days but more good than bad; I guess that is a positive? 

It helped a lot when someone on our village facebook page posted a request for homemade masks for the dollar store employees to use. I had just watched Sewstine's Mask Video on Youtube and with more and more medical professionals expressing the idea that homemade masks are better than nothing I felt that it was time to start sewing. I made a set for the Dollar Store and some for our family. I've also been making masks for others in the community who may need or want something more than nothing. I posted this on my Facebook page and will post it here too: if anyone reading this doesn't have access to a face mask and would like a homemade cotton one, please let me know and I will make one for you and mail it to you. Email me at romantichistoryblog at gmail dot com if you or anyone you know needs one! 

For my first masks I used the pattern by Crafty Quilter. I then tried the Olson Mask Pattern by UnityPoint Health and liked it better since it fit the face (at least the faces in our family) better than the other. The Olson mask link also has sizes for children, which is super nice for our family. The smallest size fits Rosie perfectly and the bigger size fits Benjamin and Anne very well. It also uses hair ties for the ear loops instead of elastic or fabric ties. The stretchy ear loops make the masks easy to put on and take off, especially for little ones who have a difficult time tying masks on or older folks who have mobility challenges. Elastic is sold out almost everywhere but hair ties are still easy to find and they are very inexpensive!

The weather has been so nice the past few days. We have spent more time outside enjoying nature. Once again I feel so lucky to live where we do with so many nature areas so close by. The long evenings are getting longer and we often will sit on our back deck or front porch and talk or play instruments. With the moon approaching full we have set up our telescope and have a good view of the sky at night. 

We made fry bread tacos the other day and I don't know why I don't make fry bread more often! It's so fast and easy to make and the breads were perfect for tacos and very filling. This was a cheap and quick dinner - ground beef, beans, sour cream, cheese, tomatoes and some spices from the cupboard.  We have been grilling out more, too, as the weather has been so nice. My neighbor Wayne has been dropping off a lot of bananas lately so we have been making a lot of banana things.  Benjamin baked his first ever made-completely-by-him (with me supervising of course!) mini banana loaves and I shared with him the *secret* ingredient - a tablespoon of British Navy Pusser's Rum! He's been very smug about knowing the secret ingredient and flaunting his new found knowledge to his brothers and sisters. 😂 Today we are baking some banana cream pies and dropping one off on Wayne's porch to say thank-you. 

I hope you all are doing well and finding moments of joy each day. It's a hard, strange time but we have each other. Much love!


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Months End

Despite the strangeness of this time, nature goes on, as she always has. While us humans are preoccupied with statistics and numbers and projections and flattening the curve and social distancing, the flowers are budding and blooming, grass is growing tall and thick enough to mow, birds are up before sunrise each morning and their songs wake me up in the half-light of dawn. I sleepily pull on my robe and spend a few minutes at the window enjoying a cool breeze and quietness before starting my day with a shower and a pot of coffee.

It's been warm lately; so warm, in fact, that the first morel mushrooms were spotted in southern Ohio this past weekend. My peach trees have buds that are full. The merest touch causes them to fall open in a flutter of soft white blossoms. I felt bad trimming them but the job was done, and I had enough peach trimmings to make a pretty wreathe for the dining room. It reached almost 80 degrees on Saturday and 70 on Sunday. After some yardwork Sunday morning Rosie and I lay on the porch, watching the clouds and enjoying the sun on our faces. 

We went out a few times to local wildlife areas to enjoy the weather. While the ground was still a bit boggy, it was lovely to be out and to hear all the little peepers peeping their hearts out from the pond. Across the pond we saw the only other people there - two fisherman, and we waved and moved along the trail, soon out of sight.

The governor extended schools closing til May 1st, so it is nice to know for sure that this month we will all still be learning at home. It makes it easier to prepare and the kids know what to expect, which has helped them settle down a little more and take learning at home more seriously. David has been able to continue his weekly meetings with his school counselor via video chat and on Thursday he will be able to meet with his teacher and a few friends via video chat - something he is looking forward to! Anne's teacher called her yesterday to check-in, and tell her that she misses her! Benjamin's teacher is putting together a facebook group for parents and students. Malachi has resumed school-as-usual after his online school took their spring break last week. During his break, we painted his bedroom and it looks so nice now! Since moving in, the room has been dark green with black trim and glow in the dark star stickers everywhere; now it's light blue with white trim and white clouds painted on the ceiling, per his request, since that is how I painted the ceiling in his room when he was little and we lived in Illinois). 😊 I used faux grasspaper wall covering on the wall his window is in and made new curtains from blue and white gingham. 

I began some sourdough starter early this year and it took it forever, it seemed, to ripen enough to raise bread on its own. I hated throwing away half of it each day so I began to bake bread with the extra, the "poolish", and a little yeast thrown in for good rise. Little by little I've been able to decrease the yeast and now my starter is very strong and has great rise. My loaves are definitely sour now. The boys like it but the little ones aren't so sure. So far, besides the loaves we bake each day, we've made English muffins, bagels, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls (the boys like these made into breakfast sandwiches with cheese, eggs, and ham) and pizza crust. I made a breakfast pizza on Sunday with sausage and eggs and it was a success! Will do again. It's awesome to feed all the kids with one giant pizza crust, half a lb of sausage, white gravy, and 6 eggs, rounded out with some fruit and milk.

I made a quick little dress inspired by the Dottie Angel Frock dress. I don't have the actual Dottie Angel dress pattern so I used my Maya Top pattern and modified it for the dress. This was made as a wearable muslin and has some fit issues I think I've worked out for the next one - whenever I decide to make another. 

We have been enjoying our backyard a great deal. I am so grateful for the yard we have here! I need to clear out one far corner where honeysuckle are taking over but we got a lot of sticks picked up and burned over the weekend. When the coal bed was nice we took out some hot dog packages and also roasted some marshmallows. Later on we took our drums out and did some drumming with a friend of mine who has been hosting virtual drum circles. It was very nice!

It's hard to believe April begins tomorrow. At the same time, it's hard to believe St. Patricks Day was two weeks ago. March seems like it has been immeasurably long. When we started this month I had my calendar penciled in with so many things - school open house days for music class, dental appointments, doctor visits. The first 14 days were our last "normal" ones. The only things on my calendar for April are Easter and Rosie's 5th birthday. 

We've been  having positive updates from our governor the last few days on how social distancing is indeed helping to flatten the curve. Friends of mine who work in healthcare say that although they have emergency plans in place, so far they have been able to well handle what they've had. I know we are not at peak yet, but the projection now does not seem so dire. It is encouraging! Stay home, social distance, and enjoy your immediate family and the wonderful company nature offers. We are getting through this! I love you my friends,


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Finding our Normal

It's been an interesting last week and now, half-way through the next, the time "before" seems at once long ago and yet just yesterday. Crazy how fast things change. But you know what? I like that things can change quickly. I like that people, as a whole, can come together and make these changes to protect our loved ones and ourselves. I like that we can accept the advice of scientists and doctors and the leadership of our governor without too much fuss and complaint. Yes, there are always those who will rebel but, in general, everyone is doing their part. And I find that to be such a beautiful thing, and a hopeful one.
The girls helped me switch out our St. Patricks Day decorations for a little Easter themed mantle decor.
These are mostly from the dollar section at the Dollar Store but it made them happy! I don't decorate for the seasons much but we do like to decorate our mantle. :D
We've been at home for a while now. I have gone out a few times to get some needed supplies or groceries but thankfully the big boys are old enough to watch the little ones at home, so they need not go out and potentially carry something to others, or bring something home. Most places of business have shut down, except the dollar store and gas station. The village public buildings are closed. The police force here has sent out a notice that they will mostly be responding by phone, visiting in-person only for serious crimes. The post office remains open and remains a very busy place. Here in town there is no house delivery so everyone has a PO box. The local pizza place has drastically reduced their hours for carry-out only. Our village cafe is carry out only, but I think everyone is doing an awesome job making sure to place orders for lunches, to make sure our little restaurant stays open!

The kids decorated a large banner to hang on our front porch. 
Our village facebook page is abuzz with conversation and encouragement. Over the weekend one lady had the fun idea of putting out a bear on the front porch. People still talk walks and she thought that having a "bear hunt" for little ones to do during a walk would be a lot of fun! This idea has really taken off and the lastest update on the facebook page says the count of bears around town is well over 100 so far! 

We put this up on the porch along with a big white teddy bear, a monkey, and as of today a snake and frog and turtle. :D
We have settled into a routine of housework and schoolwork and play time. The kids received work packets from school and besides their few pages of work each day, they are also doing the free lessons Scholastic has put out for the different grades. They are practicing math with Kahn academy, watching the Cincinnati zoo livestream in the afternoon, classes from Think Indigenous on Facebook, spelling and reading with Lexiacore5 and journaling and reading with me each day. We have  been having a lot of fun! I almost feel guilty feeling so happy with  my kids home. I am glad we can enjoy this time together. Today, our legislature votes on whether or not school will resume at all before next school year. I feel that even if we do not have school any more this spring we can get along ok here at home, at least for a little while. I am so overwhelmed and amazed at all the resources so many teachers, museums, educational centers and curriculum sites are sharing - the whole world is coming together to help educate our kids and it is something that has moved me to tears. 

I haven't had much time or heart for sewing lately. This week, the latest thing going about in the sewist community is mask-making. This is a difficult subject since unless we use proper materials, homemade masks are at best ineffective and at worse a health hazard. I'm trying to learn more about this issue so that if I can help, I will be able to. Check out the video on the @burnleyandtrowbridge Instagram for a practical look at homemade masks. 

Last week I made more progress on the girls flower girl dresses. I think they are turning out so sweet! 

Today I finally bought (re bought?) the Sense and Sensibility Regency Gown pattern. This was one of my first historical patterns EVER, back in the early 2000's. I made so many cotton calico regency gowns and wore them to death - dare I say, exclusively? - in my teens. My paper pattern disintegrated long ago so I finally bought the e-pattern version and printed it out today. I already have a paper copy of the Girls Regency Dress pattern. 

I haven't made Easter dresses for years. I think since Anne was a baby? While it is hard to sit down and get really into a sewing mood right now, it is comforting and satisfying to plan a project for me and the girls, using materials I've known since I started sewing and patterns I'm so familiar with I could sew them up in my sleep. I got some calico at Wal-Mart and, well, we will rock the throwback c. 2002 cotton calico regency gown look. 😁 The pink is for Rose, the yellow for Anne and the grey for me. They will be nice for Easter and, in theory, can work for any rendezvous type event that isn't  too history-heavy. 

I hope you all are doing ok, wherever you are in the world. While we shelter, may we nurture. While we wait, may we cultivate hope and emerge from this a better person, a gentler person, with a greater love for everyone everywhere in the world. 


Sunday, March 15, 2020

When Things are Uncertain

A week ago it was a glorious, warm and sunny day. I spent the afternoon making an early dinner, which we then wrapped up and brought to a local park to eat at the picnic tables there. The parking lot was packed and the playground was full of laughing, screaming children, while parents sat beneath the picnic shelter and talked and watched their kids. Other people were playing frisbee golf or emerging from the nature trails that thread through the woods, or feeding the ducks at the pond.

We drove to Kroger for a potty break since the park restrooms were still locked til spring. Inside, the store had the normal amount of customers. The shelves were full; produce piled high, and enormous amounts of Easter candy filled two aisles. While waiting for the girls to use the bathroom, I talked with a older gentleman. I bought some candy and gum and we went back to the park and finished up the evening with a nice nature walk and a last minute swing on the playground before piling into the van and heading home for baths and laying out clothes for school the next day.

It's amazing how fast things can change. While we've known about coronavirus for a while now, it didn't seem so much a cause for concern when it was far away. I feel humbled at my own rather cavalier attitude about it when I first heard of the mysterious virus sweeping China. I felt badly for the people being affected by it, but hoped it would not spread here. I was preoccupied with my little life here; school, groceries, my kids activities, baseball sign ups. And now the virus is here, and is affecting all of those things.

On Thursday our governor became one of the first in the nation to close all K-12 schools for 3 weeks. Our school district is always very reluctant to cancel school for any reason so we held our breath til Friday when the school called to confirm that yes, school is closed til April 3rd. My oldest son, who attends a special education school, went to school on Friday. His principal called mid morning, breathless and in a hurry, because suddenly they had to call and go over IEP's for each student with their guardians/parents. David was sent home with a work packet to do over this "extended break", with fingers crossed that school will resume in April.

Malachi, who began homeschooling with OHVA last fall, still has school as usual, although state testing, which is done in person, may be affected. In fact, there may be no testing at all.

I went out Friday since I felt like I needed to stock up on some staples and meat. We live in a small, rural community and the Super Wal-Mart was full when I arrived. It was difficult to find a parking space. Inside, though, there was still plenty of food on the shelves. The only aisles completely cleared included, of course, the toilet paper aisle; also bottled water was gone, ramen noodles, cereal, bread and the eggs were nearly gone. I thankfully was able to get everything I needed to feed the kids for at least two weeks. We have plenty of frozen meat, potatoes, spaghetti noodles, rice, dry beans, canned veggies and fruits, flour, sugar, butter, vegetable oil, milk and cheese. I think we will be ok.

I was talking to a friend today and it was mentioned how much life feels differently than it did a week ago. Besides the kids being home from school life for us right now will go on much as it always has. I am not really worried about the kids getting the virus; by all accounts, even if they do get it, they will very likely completely recover. I do worry about our older folks here in town and those with health difficulties that make them more likely to be at-risk. There are many of them and many cannot get out to the stores to get toilet paper or groceries. Many people in this town don't drive and rely on our little Dollar Store for almost everything and with all the supplies disappearing from the shelves, what will they do? I worry what will happen if they get this virus and cannot get medical treatment.

I worry that in a few weeks, when I need to get more groceries, the stores will be out of everything I need.

I worry my kids will fall far behind in school work. I worry about our economy and jobs; about the parents who still need to go to work each day but who now have their kids unexpectedly home. Everything is so uncertain now.

While my gut feeling tells me that we will get through this and emerge ok, I wonder what kind of journey it will be til we reach that point. Who among us now may be missing when we arrive? The thought shatters my heart. I feel anxious, tense, protective, breathless. All I can do is keep my babies home (already they are restless, being confined to our (rather large) back yard and walking to either church or grandma's house) and check on my neighbors. A freezer meal, a roll of tp. . .I wish there was more I could do.

One thing that I hope comes of this is an increased sense of unity and community as we care for each other and look out for each other. May we all extend both hands to our brothers and sisters and together weather this storm. I love you all.

<3 p=""> Much love,

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Two 1890's Petticoats

Mid-week has hit already, though it feels like the weekend was just yesterday. Dang. It's always this way, though, every year - life starts to get going faster and faster and then boom, it's summer. The first few months of the  year tend to feel like free months for me, sewing-wise. I can make what I want without *really* needing to make anything super important. I'm getting down to the very end of that time so I am kinda wanting to get this 1890's dress DONE this month.

I do have things I need to get done first, though. I'm nearly done with an 18th c. shirt for a friend of mine and am in-progress on two sweet little lace flower girl dresses for Rose and Anne to wear for my sisters wedding this summer! 😍 After that I am definitely getting back to the 1890's although my current feeling of urgency has to do with a hat, rather than a dress. I just want to make this hat so bad! Soon. 😀

Anyway, I have the petticoats done and I am pretty happy with how they turned out! First I have the finished 

~ Foundation Petticoat ~

can I just say here how much I DO NOT LIKE this hairstyle.
Oh the things we do for historical accuracy. . .
This is the one I was working on a few posts back, made of lightweight corduroy. I drafted my pattern and sewed it mostly on machine, with hand work at the waistband. The petticoat is made as a full length, plain skirt with a corded flounce mounted on top of the skirt, set about 10" above the skirt hem. This is according to the petticoat featured in Costume in Detail. 

Facings of scrap fabric finish the skirt hem and the flounce hem. 
I covered the raw edges of the flounce, where it attaches to the main skirt, with a band cut from a different brown and white fabric. This is sewed down on the machine. This honestly was a really fast petticoat to make - probably because I sewed the cording in as I went, instead of making channels and then threading the cording through. 

I really like the graceful way the skirt falls. This would even make a pretty awesome everyday wear skirt, if shortened up a bit. But this one is specifically for an 1890's impression and I probably won't be wearing this for everyday use. 

So the foundation petticoat makes a good foundation but it needs more floofyness before a dress skirt is worn over top. Therefore, I have my

~ Upper Petticoat ~

This petticoat is made from the same pattern as my foundation petticoat, except it ends about knee length and has a very full flounce gathered and attached to the bottom. I made this petticoat from an old sheet I've been saving for this purpose and I had to work with the sheet dimensions. The flounce is slightly bigger than the flounce on my foundation petticoat,  both in width and in circumference. This flounce finishes out at about 168" at the bottom. 

I finished the seam between the flounce and skirt by folding over the seam allowance and slip stitching it down.
This white petticoat has two decorative tucks to break up the plainness of the solid color fabric and I had juuuuuust enough of this pretty white lace to go around the skirt above the tucks. I  got this length of trim from an antique store that has all kinds of pretty, wonderful sewing notions and I was glad I could use it on this petticoat! It would be ideal to have had enough to trim the edge of the flounce, instead, but this way the trim will be protected from wear and tear at the hem and since I sewed it on by hand, I can take it off if later on I want to use it on something else. 

This petticoat also closes at the back with a hook and eye. 

I tried both petticoats on over my Victorian corset and my 1883 chemise and I think the shape is looking ok. The skirt is actually a lot more flared in silhouette than I expected, so I think this shape is probably best for mid-late 90's impressions? Earlier 90's silhouettes look narrower in the front. I suppose I could always add ties to bring the fullness to the back more, if I want to go for a specifically early-90's look. 

After trying these on and taking some pictures I realized I really needed a bum pad, so I made one after this. I'll have a post soon about making it. It was a really fast but satisfying project and adds just the right amount of bum-curve. 😂 I still haven't made a corset cover and probably won't unless I make a very lightweight dress or shirtwaist. I do need to take in the front abdomen of my Victorian corset. It has always been a bit big there, even when I first made it, but in the 1860's, of course, anything below the waist is covered by full gathered skirts. Not so the 1890's! A few topstitched darts should do the trick. 

Much love,