Monday, August 13, 2018

'Twas a Napoleonic Exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Recently I visited the exhibit, Napoleon: Power and Splendor at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia.

1-Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Museum of Fine Arts-Richmond, Virginia

The layout was quite intriguing, built around Napoleon's various "staff members" that comprised the Imperial Household. Each room introduced a different "staff member," then detailed his responsibilities, while showcasing the items for which he was responsible.

The ladies were not to be forgotten. Each of Napoleon's wives, Josephine and then Marie-Louise, were also featured within the context of the Imperial Household.

The simplicity of Josephine wearing a muslin gown contrasted with the elegance of the bust that was displayed in the center of the room.  (For sewing enthusiasts, yes! I did wear my early 19th century inspired skirt...linen and rufflicious! I was hoping for a gown to be on display, but there were only a few paintings.)

Josephine greatly advised how to promote a positive image for Napoleon. Since he was a Corsican by birth, the goal was to make him appear worthy to be included with the prestigious heads of Europe.

(Napoleon was actually asked to lead France, with great hopes that his leadership would finally end the years of the bloody French Revolution. As Napoleon successfully brought peace and organization to France, the other nations allied against him, for fear that a successful republic in France would foretell an overthrow of the governments in their own countries.)

2-Josephine Bonaparte laying a wreath on the holy myrtle 1796
Josephine Bonaparte laying a wreath on the holy myrtle, 1796

This glass and stone mosaic was incredible...and hearkens to the Republic of Rome.
3-Napoleon in his study wearing the uniform of a grenadier of the guard
Napoleon in his study wearing the uniform of a grenadier of the guard, 1813-1830

Napoleon was no connoiseur. He preferred simpler fare. Yet, state dinners were sometimes necessary...and sometimes was the operative word. In his entire reign, he only had 8 state dinners.
A Napoleonic State Dinner Setting

This is an impressive collection from the mid-19th century, of which there are actually 16,000 pieces!
5-Collection of Imperial Guard Figurines
Collection of Imperial Guard Figurines, 19th century

The piece de reistance of the entire exhibit was the Throne Room.

6-Throne Room
Napoleon's Throne Room

If you can't go to Europe, this is a grand way for Europe to come to you.

7-Throne Room
Napoleon's Throne Room

As a lover of fibers and tapestries, this room peeked my interest in the attention of detail.

8-Throne Room
Napoleon's Throne Room

This definitely took the concept of being "keeper of the keys"  to a whole new level. The one who wore this key about his waist had a most important position. They are still worn by those in Europe with this position in royal households today. Here you can see the eagle, another symbol from the Roman Empire.
9-Key of the Chamberlain of the Imperial Household
Key of the Chamberlain of the Imperial Household

After displays of gorgeous silks from Lyon that decorated the palaces, was this lovely cashmere shawl. Quite a bit different from the type I find available to wear today.
11-Cashmere Shawl
Cashmere Shawl

This lovely workbox full of sewing implements was gifted by Marie-Louise to one of her Ladies-in-Waiting.
12-Workbox given by Marie-Louise to one of her ladies-in-waiting
A Lady's Workbox

And finally, Napoleon's tricorne...made of silk, felt, and beaver pelt.
13-Bicorne from the Emporer's Wardrobe 1812 made of felt silk beaver pelt
Napoleon's Bicorne, 1812

The only thing I can think of to top this experience, is to meet Napoleon himself. Actually my kids and I did meet him a few years ago...and  sometimes he can be seen in and about the Richmond area and the museum during this exhibit.

If you'd like to learn more about Napoleon, I highly recommend Napoleon by Vincent Cronin, which is heavily documented to understand a different view of the man from what we commonly hear.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

New HSLDA Online Academy Discount for the 2018-2019 Academic Year

Are you looking for more out of your high school curriculum? Online courses are a great way for your students to learn how to prepare for deadlines, develop friendships, and improve computer literacy, all without leaving home. HSLDA Online Academy, a division of HSLDA, offers live, interactive courses online as a way to encourage families to continue homeschooling through high school and help them prepare their students for success. The Academy offers 36 different courses in English, Math, Science, Foreign Language, History, Government, and more.

Each course is taught from a Christian worldview by experienced, Bible-believing instructors and includes a weekly live, interactive session with the instructor. This session allows students to ask questions about concepts that may be difficult for them to understand on their own, while encouraging accountability and self-discipline, and live sessions are recorded, giving your students the flexibility to catch up on any missed work. Classes are filling up quickly, registration ends August 8! HSLDA members save $50-$100 on tuition.
Do any of your students take classes through the HSLDA Online Academy? If so, you can get a discount by typing  PTXVN2G  in the "coupon" field. 

Friday, June 29, 2018

Eleven Year Blogging Anniversary with many thanks to Colonial Williamsburg

Once upon a time, the term blogging was coined into cyber-existence. The year was 1999, which incidentally was about the time I started homeschooling.


But oh, no! I did not succumb to blogging...yet. Instead I rolled my eyes and firmly proclaimed I'd never do that! Why would anyone want to read about my daily life? All I do is cook. Sew. Garden. Travel. I take my kids to the pediatrician and then to various occupational and physical therapists.


However I did realize there was a wealth of ideas on the internet that I might be able to use in my teaching. So I explored and came upon an on-line community of homeschoolers through forums. I created a secret user name so no one would ever identify me. My persona became lahbluebonnet when I was incognito.

Over the course of time, some of the homeschoolers with whom I interacted had blogs which shared about their journey. By June of 2007 I was hooked.

I chose Homeschool Blogger for my blogging platform. I got a digital camera. I learned html code. I designed my own blog page. I got to know many of my readers. Eventually Homeschool Blogger deleted all our blogs, so I had to reinvent the wheel here at Blogger. (Things are still a bit of a mess. When I find time I have plans to finesse my page!)

Once I was firmly established in that, my life took another turn. I moved from Texas to Virginia where my kids implored me for yet another time travel trip to Colonial Williamsburg. We visited so much I think the locals got tired of us. But we had to seize the moment, because years would flash by. With the advent of college, we knew our experiences in the colonial city were limited. My kids asked for proper attire, so I met the tailor and mantua maker, who guided me in my stitching.

All the while, my daughter was quiet. Developmentally delayed, she didn't walk until age 2. Speech came very slowly after that. Even by the time we moved to Virginia, my 16 year old daughter was quiet. However she loved the idea of going to Colonial Williamsburg in period clothing.

She had first visited Colonial Williamsburg in 2004. By the time we left, she wanted a gown. We returned for a visit from Texas in 2008. She wore a gown. Her brother had his breeches and waistcoat.

We moved to Northern Virginia in 2009. We must have made umpteen trips to the colonial city that summer. She'd quietly sit while her brother chatted his way through history with each interpreter.

Guests assumed she was an interpreter, so they'd ask her questions about the town, or they'd ask for directions. She was quite uncomfortable with this at first, reluctantly opening up. In time, it became more natural. Her favorite interaction was a little girl, about age 3, who walked up to her, starstruck.

"Oh, Tinkerbell!"

I looked at the parents and mouthed, "But Tinkerbell wears green." (My daughter was wearing pink.) The parents laughed and mouthed back that their daughter thought otherwise. =)

My daughter was confused at first, but was definitely taken in by the sweet little fan who adored the pink Tinkerbell colonial gown.

Then the interpreters treated my daughter like a friend...every time they saw her.

One day, my parents called on the phone while we were driving down to Colonial Williamsburg. They talked to each of the kids, then to me. When I got on the phone they exclaimed about how happy and chatty my daughter had become. Indeed. That is the charm of Colonial Williamsburg.

But that is not the only charm. I, too, am quite quiet. I would sit on a bench and watch my kids interact. I've lost count of the stories of guests who'd walk up to me, recognizing me and my kids from my blog. They said they had planned their Colonial Williamsburg trip through my blog, even to the point of making sure their children had 18th century clothing to wear to enhance the experience.

As I shared those experiences, and dug into historical sewing, I met historical seamstresses from around the world...through blogs.

I've met blog readers in my neighborhood. My daughter still meets them when she is out and about with her boyfriend. They stop her to say they recognize her as the girl who wears the colonial gowns at Teacups in the Garden.

Although my blogging has slowed down, our journey has not. Many thanks to all those who turned my blogging into the most incredible experience I could ever imagine.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Me Made May 2018-The Stashbusting Edition

I had meant to participate in Me Made May 2018, then I realized I had few clothes that I had sewn for myself in my daily wardrobe. I've gained a bit of weight, so the few I had no longer fit. (sadness)

Thus, I've been exercising. 

And I've been stashbusting!

I dug through my fabric stash. Some of my fabric has been waiting since the day of purchase to become fashionable. Other pieces are remnants of prior projects. And yet other bits of fabric are old garments that I thought I might be able to re-imagine.

I dug through my patterns. Since my sewing skills are scattered, I'm beginning to see that some of these patterns are actually duplicates. Which ones do I like best? Which ones can I toss because they are duplicates? Which ones are not the best look on me?

I have been exceedingly busy going out and about that I plan accordingly. I have been power crunching my time at the sewing machine, saving hand sewing of the final steps for when I watch movies in the evening.

The other day I started sharing sneak peaks at my works-in-progress.

However, I did get to wear one brand new garment when my kids and I were out and about Memorial Day weekend. So, that counts as wearing a Me Made May item!


From the research I've done, this dress is based on a pattern from 1960. Stay tuned for details.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Regarding a Blogging Award, Sewing, and Historical Travels

I know I've been uncharacteristically least far more quiet than I was say, 4 years ago. My life has taken a different path. Yet, I see more blogging opportunity on the horizon.


Nevertheless, I have been...sewing!!! I have about 10 new projects in process. I'm furiously taking opportunity for that to happen. And I've had one grand photo shoot that had wonderful reviews on facebook!

I've also been...visiting history, both in person and through books. That, too, has been well received on facebook!

Also, I've been...exercising. My body has become weaker and weaker for various reasons the last 7 years, and I'm determined to turn that around. I'm a bit worn out from the exercise, however I can tell that I'm definitely stronger!

I've simply been antsy to share on the blog, but my days get so busy of everything else, that I forget.


Oh, btw, the video, below, was for a project I did last autumn for my volunteer work. I was thrilled for the opportunity to don one of my historical gowns. There was only me to run the cameras. My audience was the general public, and I was speaking in 3rd person interpretation, and I had severely injured my back, so I opted for a simple hairstyle as opposed to historical. Then there was another project I was recently working on for my volunteer work, so I just made a blog post of the video for us to compare platforms. Thus, no details. I'll have to finesse that post with details at a later time.

Meanwhile, in all my business, I sit down with my blogger reading list during lunch and peruse all the seamstresses and tailors. I've been quite saddened to see so many of  my favorites drop off of blogging. I see that they have new adventures in life.

As for me, I do have every intent to return to blogging. It was as much fun to write about a potpourri of my experiences as it was to meet many wonderful people from near and far.

One of those wonderful persons has a lovely blog that I frequent often...and the other day I noticed she awarded me a blogger award. Awwwe, that was so sweet. She hasn't forgotten me. I've been assigned questions to answer, which I've been pleasantly tossing about my head for fun answers.

So, this morning I thought I'd take a snippet of time from my hectic life to re-introduce myself. I hope to get the details about the award out soon in a fresh blog post. And I do plan to return to regular blogging soon. But do know that I am sewing. And visiting historical sites.


I should invite everyone to my public facebook page, Teacups Among the Fabric...and I should start posting teasers of my sewing and historical adventures. I'll try to get some teasers up today! Perhaps this is the boost I need to make it happen!

So, many thanks to one of my favorite bloggers who nudged me back into communications.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Fownes Opera Gloves for Me!

Once upon a time, the house of Fownes Brothers and Company opened in Worcester, England, in the year 1777. Their business was in glove manufacturing.


By 1887 Fownes opened an office in New York City.


Here is a great ad from 1914: Fownes Gloves at Peace Prices


I especially love this ad: You can wear better gloves than those we made for George IV "Gloves worn then by by princes of the blood would not equal the standard we set now for even the most expensive gloves in our line."



Now that history includes me! Being gifted opera gloves (by Fownes) was a boon to my attempts to look historically accurate! They were, in act, gifted to me 170 miles from the old New York City office.




Obviously these gloves do not date to 1812. However I was told that they actually date to the 1930's. I've researched for evidence of that, but I cannot tell one way or the other. Does anyone know?