Friday, November 17, 2017

Trench Cake

I ran across a recipe for Trench Cake a year or so ago, and have been curious to try it. I found it on Pinterest (where else?) but it came from this Article  from the Telegraph. It’s a very simple recipe, and unusual in that it calls for margerine instead of butter, and vinegar in milk instead of eggs. I’m guessing this was for two reasons: first, and primarily, because of rationing. 


It didn’t make a large amount of cake, which also probably helped in sending it off to a soldier in France. 


Like most other things, WWII gets all the attention. Everyone knows about rationing in the Second World War. But I was in my twenties when I first realised that it was employed during the First World War as well! Secondly, a cake without eggs and butter probably keeps longer, if you’re sending it overseas!

So, a couple of days after Armistice Day (as I still like to call it, otherwise known as Vetrans Day in America) I made Trench Cake — with some help from my niece. 

Ready to bake!


The finished product!

I didn’t put in the peel, and I soaked the currants in hot water (with a splash of vanilla) but otherwise I followed the recipe. It didn’t look great, but I really loved the flavour. The hint of coco powder added more taste than I was expecting, so that was a good surprise. I would definitely make this again!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Ronja the Robber’s Daughter

An image from the Studio Ghibli Ronja the Robber’s Daughter, and Jared and Lucy


My brother and niece love the Studio Ghibli version of ‘Ronja the Robber’s Daughter’ which plays on Amazon Prime. Actually, I love it too. The look, the music, and of course the story are all quite enchanting. 

I wasn’t able to find trim that matched exactly, but I tried to get something similar. 



So we all decided that for Halloween, my brother Jared should be Mattis, the father, and my niece Lucy should be Ronja. I volunteered to pick out the fabric and make the costumes. Although the tunics that they wear are quite simple, it was trickier to draft patterns than I was expecting. It was definitely a good exercise for me to do!

Jared, Lucy and me. I (obviously) dressed up as a witch. I love Halloween!

Monday, November 6, 2017

1910s Rilla Corset



Two years ago I made an overbust  corset from the 1910s from Truly Victorian. Since losing weight I’ve been wanting to make another one but just couldn’t get the motivation. When I saw a new pattern from  Scroop Patterns for a 1910s corset, I thought maybe a new pattern might give me the impetus I needed. 

Working on the eyelets! It’s easy, but takes a long time!


I began working on it in July and would have finished it much sooner than I did (late October) if I hadn’t had grommet trouble! I’ve used grommets before, so I’m not sure why they just would  Not Work. Luckily, Leimomi Oakes, the creator of the pattern, told me that hand-sewn eyelets would be period accurate. Whew! So that’s what I did! The sizing, assembly and everything else were great! I really enjoyed working with this pattern. 


All laced up!





There’s supposed to be extra lacing in the middle to tighten or loosen the corset, but I ran out of the lacing I already had. Oops!


I’m so glad that it’s finished. It was a great pattern and easy to make. And now I have a proper 1910s corset again! 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Lady Edith’s Autumn Pallet

Although Downton Abbey as a series has ended, it remains a favourite with those who love historical dramas and gorgeous costumes. 

During the autumn season, I often think about Lady Edith’s lovely wardrobe which is predominantly (though not exclusively) in shades of peach and orange. 

So, in honour of autumn, Halloween and all things orange, here’s a look at some of Lady Edith’s best dresses. (I believe all the photos I found are copyrighted by ITV)


Lovely gold and sunset orange ensemble from one of the earlier 1910s seasons. 

Perfect! I love this simple, quintessentially 1920s boxy dress. 


This is a slight departure from the orange, but the lemon coloured blouse fits perfectly with the tweed of her suit. 



I love this blouse which both Edith and Sybil wear in seasons one and two. 

Again elegant, simple perfection. 

This has a more peachy hue to it and is an amazing ensemble with the blue accents in the coat. 


Brown! I love it! 

The piece de resistance in my opinion is this orange and black (or is it navy?) dress. Gorgeous!

I’m sure the colour choices for Edith’s clothes were partly due to the actresses colouring, and partly due to her character, but I think they are all lovely! 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Truly Victorian 1910s Skirt, and Autumn Glory



Last year I made a 1910s skirt using the pattern from Truly Victorian. As it was from 1911,mit was quite similar to another teens skirt I’d made the previous year, though it did turn out to be a little trickier. At first I wasn’t pleased with the results, though I know myself well, and am pretty sure it has more to do with my hasty methods than with the pattern itself. The thing which is the most troublesome to me is the front-side closure, which bulges a bit (but hopefully won’t when worn work a corset — which will be finished soon!).



The other day, however, my sister and I went to a park near her house to revel in the glorious autumn weather, and it turned into an impromptu photo shoot. I realise that I have never written a post about this skirt, though I do wear it often (its wonderfully comfortable). So here you are!

Autumn colours are my favourite to wear — could you tell?

Wearing a lovely knitted hat made by my friend Stacy. 


Climbing trees in a narrow 1910s skirt is so easy! ;)


I wore my lovely American Duchess Oxfords as well!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Wearing History 1910s Skirt

This is a follow-up of my summer post. I’ve finally finished one of my unfinished sewing projects! The skirt from the excellent Wearing History 1910s suit pattern.

I bought some rayon crepe awhile back, originally to use for a 1920s dress. The crepe was thicker, and the grey lighter than I was expecting and I didn’t think it would be suitable for a dress. It seemed a perfect option for a skirt.

It took me ages to figure out the front closure. I tried buttonholes, but that didn’t work with the fabric at all, so they're fake buttons with snaps underneath. It works beautifully!

Here are a few pictures of the finished product. My 1910s corset isn’t finished yet, so no authentic underthings yet. But that’s coming!





Yesterday I went up in the mountains with my mum and niece, so we were able to take some lovely photos up there too!


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Mystery and Paradox: Madeleine L'Engle

A few months back, I wrote a post about Dorothy L Sayers and a personal friend of mine, Amy Marsland. I would like to continue the theme of women who inspire me by featuring a post about Madeleine L'Engle.



Years ago my mother discovered 'Walking on Water', and which I've been meaning to read for a long time. I finally managed to do so this spring. I was absolutely inspired! There was something on nearly every page which I ended up underlining to remember later. Her views on artists and Christianity were very freeing to me. L'Engle has a frank and inquiring approach to faith. Above all, I love her acknowledgement that we don't know everything, and mystery and uncertainty is just a part of life (I loaned my copy to my sister, so can't pull out any quotes).

I then moved on to the 'Crosswicks Journals'. I've read 'A Circle of Quiet' and have started the next in the series. I look forward to learning and being enlightened more by this wonderful woman.

Recently, whilst trawling google for a nice photo of L’Engle, I happened upon an article by a woman who came to the conclusion that since Madeleine L’Engle didn’t live the perfect life she portrayed in her ‘journals’, her views and truths were flawed and no longer pertinent for this particular author. Ever since reading that Article, I’ve been thinking about it, and wondering if knowing more about the flaws in L’Engle’s life has altered my assessment of her, or lessened the impact she’s had on my life so far this year.

It hasn’t.

What has Madeleine L’Engle done for me this past year? She’s helped me feel more comfortable in my own skin as an author. Sure, I haven’t published a book *yet*. My blog and my instagram accounts aren’t followed by thousands of people. But I write every day. I want to be a published author. I want that to be my job. But I know I’ll write anyway, whether that ever happens or not.

I am happier in my religion. I can now acknowledge that there will always be doubts. There will always be mystery. Yet that strengthens my belief, instead of weakening it.

I feel that I understand my mother (a published author, biographer and poetess Susan Evans McCloud) much better. All creative people fabricate their own world around them, and in recognising that in Madeleine and in myself, I feel I understand my mother a lot better than I did before.

Life is full of paradox, pain, joy and pleasure. Accept it all. It will help you become a better person, and, more importantly, a better creator.

Thank you, Madeleine.