Tuesday, June 16, 2015

School's Out For Summer

Hi all,

I'll be taking the rest of June and July off from my blog and enjoying a Summer Vacation. And I grew up with Rock and Roll so with that title I'm hearing Alice Cooper singing "School's Out For Summer." Enjoy the rest of your summer as I'll be enjoying mine.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Sitting Room

Continuing the details from 19th century sources of various rooms, today we are highlighting the Sitting Room.

The sitting-room of the lower floor is more clearly defined by the term " living-room." It is a room with much more wall space than the reception-hall. It usually contains a grate and mantel; has a large window to the front, and one on the side. It is very nice if one of these windows can be arranged in the form of a bay, with or without a window-seat. In the latter case, it may serve the purpose of a conservatory in the winter and a window-seat in summer. The use of large quantities of stained glass in a sitting-room is objectionable. It is very well to have a certain amount of it in the upper sash of some of the windows. If the colors are mild, the effect upon the atmosphere of the room is pleasant indeed — the light coming through the soft amber or straw tints adds a mellowness and richness to the light of the room, which is opposed to the colder effects of light which comes through white glass. The mantel of the sitting-room may contain a large number of compartments in the form of small shelves, brackets, or cabinets, in which may be placed bric-a-brac of various forms. A little cabinet on each side of a mantel, with a high door, is a very pretty feature. A mirror between these cabinets gives a pleasing effect. This mantel, like the one in the reception-room, should be of wood with tile hearth and facings.

If this room is plastered in a gray finish, the walls may be tinted in fresco colors, and, if desired, certaki parts of it ornamented by stencilling or otherwise. Unless this ornamental work is done by an artist of recognized ability, it should be of the simplest character. One or two simple lines, or a series of short dashes, is much better than scrawling figures drawn by an untrained hand. The ordinary fresco done by the foreign artist is the ugliest, most ungraceful work possible. In the larger cities, there are usually a few artists who do very beautiful work, but the ordinary, cheap, conventional fresco stuff is barbarous. Plain tinted walls are preferable to such glaring monstrosities. There is not much risk, if one is careful in the selection of colors; the part above the picture moulding may be tinted differently from that below. There are very few people but feel themselves competent to select colors for the interior or exterior of a house. The fact is, there are very few who can do it with any assurance of success. It is well for those who have no special training in this line to pursue a safe plan in the selection of tints for the walls and ceilings. This may be done by choosing different shades of the same color for use in the room. Say one begins with a terra-cotta body for the part below the picture mould. That above the moulding may be a lighter terra-cotta with a tendency to a buff. Then the ceiling may be lighter still, or, to be entirely safe under almost any circumstances, a gray with a leaning towards the color of the wall. Other colors may be selected in the same way. Very light, vivid blues have frequently been selected for ceilings, presumably because of the supposed resemblance to the sky. It is certainly an illogical but by no means uncommon thought. Soft, undecided grays are much pleasanter to those of quiet tastes.' There may be variations in it according to the character of the wall decorations and surroundings. If one without special knowledge wishes something more ambitious, he should consult some one of acknowledged ability in this particular line. One cannot afford to try experiments. Extremely beautiful wall decorations are to be had in wall-paperings, and, while rather expensive, are entirely satisfactory if carefully selected.

Very little more may be said about the sitting-room, excepting to call to mind that a great deal depends upon the fittings and furnishings of the room, which, however, should not be glaring or rich. The quality of everything may be of the finest and best, yet this room should essentially be quieter in tone than the reception-hall or parlor, or even dining-room, which are not in constant use. Anything which is rich and in any way approaches the gorgeous is wearisome, and directly opposed to the idea of a sitting-room.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Oysters Part 2

Below are some recipes for Oysters. I have a previous post in 2012 on Oysters which had other recipes from 1880.

Oyster Scallops with Mushroom Sauce.
Take two or three oysters to each shell with cracker crumbs top and bottom. A teaspoonful of oyster liquor with pepper, salt and pieces of butter. Bake on the upper grate of a hot oven until plump and hot and serve at once. Add, as they go to the table, a tablespoonful of mushroom sauce made in the following manner:
One can mushrooms, four tablespoonfuls of butter, two tablespoonfuls of flour, one cup of stock (the liquor from the mushrooms), one scant cup of sweet cream, salt and pepper to taste. Put the butter and flour in stewpan and stir till smooth; cook five minutes; add the other ingredients and cook ten minutes longer. Put in double boiler and keep till wanted. Garnish each with parsley. Scalloped chicken or sweet breads are delicious served with this sauce. It may also be used over oyster, chicken or sweetbread patties.
Mrs. George A. R. Simpson.
Scalloped Oysters.
A layer of rolled cracker in a buttered pudding dish, then a layer of oysters with seasoning of butter, pepper and salt, repeat till dish is full, with the crumbs on top; pour on the liquor mixed with a little milk. A beaten egg with milk is nice to put over the top. Cover and bake about half an hour, remove cover and brown before sending to the table.
Oyster Stew.
Three pints of oysters; put liquor in a stewpan, let boil up, skim carefully, put in two and one-half quarts of milk, let come to a boil; add oysters, having looked them over and removed every bit of shell. The moment they begin to curl up remove from the fire and salt to taste; season well with butter. Contributed.
Oyster Chowder.
One slice of salt pork cut in bits, one large Irish potato, peeled and cut in small cubes, a cup of canned tomatoes well chopped and half an onion. Cover with a pint of water and boil till potatoes and pork are tender; add one pint of oysters, salt and pepper to taste. Cream one tablespoonf ul of butter and flour together, and cook all fifteen minutes; add one cup of hot rich milk or cream and serve boiling hot at once. This will serve six people. For clam chowder, substitute clams for the oysters. Mrs. F. G. Winston.
Oyster Pattie Filling.
Scald three dozen oysters and drain. Put into a sauce pan two ounces of butter and whisk it to a cream; add teaspoonful of flour and stir free from lumps; add heaping salt-spoon of salt and a pepper-spoon of white pepper; whisk into it half pint each of hot cream and oyster liquor. Allow it to simmer a few minutes and to thicken, then add oysters and a squeeze of lemon juice; when hot fill shells and serve. This will fill about two dozen shells. Pattie shells can be bought at a bakery or caterers. Mrs. Mary Plum.
Oysters with Mushrooms.
Put in your baking dish, oysters and mushrooms in alternate layers in about equal proportions; on the whole pour a rich white sauce, cover with fine bread crumbs and bake twenty minutes. This is also nice with the addition of chicken cut in dice in about the same proportion. Mrs. C. F. Latimer.
Roast Oysters.
Put shells in a pan in the oven till hot enough to melt butter; quickly dust in some pepper with the butter; lay the oysters in the shell and put back in the oven. By the time the edge of the oyster is curled, they are done. Serve in shells. Mrs. H. F. Broicn.
Little Pigs in Blankets or "Huitres au Lit."
Season large oysters with salt and pepper. Cut very thin slices of fat bacon; wrap each oyster in a slice of bacon and fasten with a wooden skewer; put in a hot omelet pan and cook just long enough to crisp the bacon. Serve on small pieces of delicate toast. Contributed.
Fried Oysters.
One dozen large oysters, two eggs, cracker crumbs seasoned with pepper and salt. Drain oysters on cloth; dip into the beaten eggs, then roll into cracker crumbs; doing so, at least, twice. Place them on a platter, keep in a cool place and let stand several hours. Fry them quickly in very hot lard.
Mrs. Augustus W. Morse.
Relish for Fried Oysters.
One large head of cabbage, one dozen large peppers, red and green, seeds removed one ounce celery seed, two ounces ground mustard, one teacup sugar, one gallon vinegar, salt to taste; mix well and place in jar.
Mrs. E. A. Russell, Russell Coffee House.
Oysters 0n Toast.
Put a quart of oysters in their liquor on to cook. When they come to a boil, add a pint of milk or cream, a tablespoon of butter mixed smoothly with two teaspoons of flour; pepper and salt to suit taste. Let boil up and pour over six slices of nicely browned and buttered toast. This will serve half a dozen persons, and is a nice breakfast, lunch or supper dish.
Source: Cook Book of Tried Recipes ©1897

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tidbits on Fruit

These tidbits are from 1831. I found them interesting and some will make it into one of my next historical novels.

are a wholesome vegetable aliment, and in many cases medicinal, particularly in diseases of the breast and complaints arising from phlegm. But, in general, they agree best wiih the stomach when eaten either roasted or boiled. The more aromatic kinds of applea are the fittest for eating raw.

resemble much in their effects the sweet kind of apples, but have more of a laxative quality, and a greater tendency to flatulence.

are in general a wholesome fruit, when they agree with the stomach, and they are beneficial in many diseases, especially those of the putrid kind.

are nourishing, and have besides an attenuating, as well as a laxative, quality, but are apt to produce flatulence. If eaten fresh, and before they are ripe, especially in large quantities, they occasion colics, and other complaints of the bowels.

are not of a very nourishing quality, but they abound in juice, and are serviceable in bilious complaints.

are more pulpy than peaches, but are apt to ferment, and produce acidities in weak stomachs. Where they do not disagree they are cooling, and lend likewise to correct a disposition to putrescency.

and currant; when ripe, arc similar in their qualities to cherries, and when used in a green state, they are agreeably cooling.

are an agreeable, cooling aliment, aud are accounted good in cases of gravel.
Source: Mackenzie's Five Thousand Receipts ©1831

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Recommended School Books

I know it isn't the time of year for purchasing school books. However, this list might just help you if you have a teacher in your novel, or perhaps, a child going to school, or perhaps, a parent trying to learn what his or her child is learning...or whatever you are writing in a scene. Hopefully you will find these useful.

THE LITTLE SONGSTER: An Elementary Sinking Book, for Scholars of 6 to 9 years ofa?e; by Georsre J, Webb. Professor in the Boston Academy ofMusic.
THE COMMON SCHOOL SONGSTER, intended as a Sequel to the above, for scholars from 9 to 15 years of age. By the same. Just published, under the sanction of the Boston Academy of Music.
THE VOCAL CLASS BOOK, designed for Young Ladies' Schools and Music Classes. By do. Just published, under the sanction yf the Boston Acad. ofMusic.
Th« above form a progressive series for the usfi of Schools and Families.
THE CHILD'S BOTANY; with Engravings.
HOLBROOK'S GEOMETRY; Ewv lessons in Geometry. By J. Holbkook.
WALSH'S ARITHMETIC. The Mercantile Arithmetic. By M. Walsh, A. M.
THE MASSACHUSETTS COLLECTION Of PSALMODY; by the Boston Handel and Hayden Society : consisting of the most approved Psalm and Hymn Tunes, Anthems. Sentences, Chants, etc; together with many Original Pieces, and others selected from the works of distinguished Composers, never before published in this country. Intended for Public Worship and Private Devotion. Edited by George James Webb, President of the Society. Second Edition. Price reduced to 36 per doz.
This work comprises three classes of Pealm and Hymn Tunes—the old standard tunes, tunes selected from modern composers, and thoae composed expressly for this book, embracing all the metres, and much variety of style and rhythmical structure.
The elementary principles are full and copious, on the basis of the Pestalozzian ay.stem, practically arranged, with full instructions on Chanting.
THE AMERICAN GLEE BOOK: consisting of a selection of Glees, Madrigals and Rounds, from the most distinguished English and German authors, together with original pieces composed expressly for this work. By George J. Webb, President of Boston Handel and Haydn Society, Sec. Second Edition.
Source: The Farmer's Almanack ©1841

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Parlor

This week instead of detailed house plans I thought I'd share a detail description of the Parlor. I'll be taking a room over the next few weeks and filling in some of the details that floor plans leave out.

The parlor maybe merely a reception-room, — a room where a lady may receive her callers in the afternoon, or the more formal calls of ladies and gentlemen in the evening, or it may be one room in addition to the others in the lower part of the house. It may be the room which adds capacity to the lower floor during times of general entertaining. In some cases, particularly where the parlor is merely used as a reception-room, it need not be large. In such a case it is merely a place separated from the sitting-room, and in which to go for the purpose of receiving friends in a room somewhat removed from the slight confusion which may legitimately belong to a sitting-room. The parlor is made distinctive in its appearance from the sitting-room by its furnishings. It is not usual to have any great difference in the design of the woodwork in the different rooms of the lower floor. Generally speaking, the doors are of the same design, and likewise the casings, base, etc. The parlor belongs particularly to the society life of the occupants of the house. It is not generally a family room. It is removed from the ordinary home life except in so far as the general social conditions draw all together. The parlor, in its connection with the living-rooms of the house, and the house itself, is entirely legitimate. There is a good deal of sneering at the old parlor idea. This feeling has its origin in the memory of the parlors of a few years ago, — those which contained the one Brussels carpet, covered with red and green flowers, furnished with black hair-cloth furniture, chairs arranged around the wall in military style, a sofa — stiff of back and commanding an attitude — in a most conspicuous position; walls covered with coarse-figured, gilt paper, and rendered more offensive by cheap, family portraits in oil, and elaborately framed chromos.

The parlor of to-day is still a formal room; it does not greatly differ from the older one in idea; it is the execution of tjhe idea which has changed. There is a greater refinement in all the details; there is an artistic spirit which pervades everything. There is harmony of color, quietness in tone. The pictures are of a different character. The furniture is graceful and comfortable. It is rarely separated from the other part of the house. The doors leading into it are nearly always open. Oftentimes there are only portieres of tapestry or lace to separate this room from the others which lead to it. It is a room which is made necessary by the social life of the time.

The ideal parlor is a long room. — a large room. It is long in proportion to its width. Sometimes there is an archway near the middle, which suggests the division of the room into two parts. There is a mirror at the end, and, lending dignity to the room, there is the hall or library at one side. By its size, its arrangement, its dignity, it is inspiring to a congenial company. This is the ideal parlor, and the one of which the vulgarly furnished parlor of a few years ago was a corruption. The ideal parlor is shown in its completest original form in seme of the old mansions of the East and South. Some of the old Virginia and Maryland houses carry out this idea in the completest way. In Natchez, Miss., are houses built long before the war, and designed by the French architects, which contain parlors of splendid proportions and most artistic details. These were designed in the purest classic architecture. The ceilings were high, the paintings rich. All this is somewhat removed from the common idea of a parlor as carried out at this time. However, it is a pleasant thing to look back upon, or, when the opportunity and means are at hand, a proper thing to enjoy in the reality. The library, as now understood, is, in the ordinary house, a room for books, papers, and magazines, in which the members of the family may gather, who have use for that which it contains. It should be a room which may be isolated from the other parts of the house; a room in which one may study or read or write, and have the quiet which belongs to such occupations. A room which may be used as a passage from one part of the house to another cannot be dignified by the name of library. In such a room there must be quiet. There are very few homes to which such a room would not be a material and practical addition. There are times when nearly every one desires the quiet and freedom from interruption which a room of this kind affords.

It need not be a large room, but should contain all of the paraphernalia of work: a desk, conveniently arranged, bookshelves which are readily accessible, possibly portfolios arranged along the walls, drawers with proper compartments, cases for circulars and catalogues, and other " places for things." The nicest thing about book-cases is the books. Ornamental glass doors and rich trappings add nothing to the beauty of the library. People who make large use of books do not care to have them protected by glass cases. The other furnishings and fittings of a library should be quiet in tone, the chairs easy but not rich, the carpet of a neutral color, the wall decorations preferably without figured outlines, the pictures small and quiet. Sliding doors between the library and any other room of the house are not to be considered. Close-fitting doors on hinges are proper. They exclude the sound. Sliding doors permit the ready passage of sound, for the reason that they are more or less open at top, bottom, middle, and sides. A low ceiling in a library adds to the quiet and restful effect. One may have a low ceiling in a library, even if they are higher in other rooms, by studding down from above, — that is, putting in a false ceiling. The expense is light indeed, and by such means additional protection from the sounds above may be afforded.
Source: Convenient Houses ©1889

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

1889 Fashions

With these few images I'm including their descriptions.
No. 1—Is a French traveling-cloak, in two I which is tied in front. The front is plaited and is tied at the waist by a cord and tassel. The turned-down collar and cuffs are of the same material. The full skirt is attached to the centre of the back with a girdle or cord, which is tied in front. The ends of the girdle are knotted. Hat of felt, faced with velvet of the darker shade of the cloak. Standing loops of gros-grain ribbon, with flowers or ostrich-tips, for the trimming.

No. 2—Is a walking-dress, with jacket. The the most fashionable colors in plain material. The skirt of this dress in box-plaited all around. The front has a pointed tunic and the back is slightly draped, rather short, to display the underskirt. The waits of the dress may be round and belted or short basque. The jacket may be of cloth to match or of black. It is simply trimmed with black fox-fur. Hat of felt to match, trimmed with ostrich-tips. Eight to ten yards of double-folded material for dress, two and a half yards for jacket.

No. 3 Is a house-dress of black Henrietta-coth and moire. The under petticoat is of the moire, also the full vest. The over-dress is a straight polonaise, with revers on the bodice, under which, on the left side, the full vest fastens. At the waist, it is tied with moire ribbons. Cuffs and collars of the moire. Pocket on the right side–this is optional. Six yards of Henrietta-cloth and seven yards of moire will be required for this dress.

No. 4 Is a morning-robe, of plain and striped French flannels. The plastron and tableau, of the striped material, are button down the front. The trimming at each side consists of fan-shaped killings of the plain material. The sleeves correspond. One and three-quarters years of the stripe and from six to eight of the plain material will be required.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Weather Observations

1. The nearer the time of the moon's change, first quarter, full and last quarter, are to midnight, the fairer will the weather be during the seven days following.
2. The space for this calculation occupies from ten at night till two next morning.
3. The nearer to midday, or noon, the phases of the moon happen, the more foul or wet weather may be expected during the next seven days.
4. The space for this calculation occupies from ten in the forenoon to two in the afternoon. These observations refer principally to the summer, though they affect spring and autumn nearly in the same ratio.
6. The moon's change, first quarter, full and last quarter, happening during six of the afternoon hours, i. e. from four to ten, may be followed by fair weather; but this is mostly dependent on the wind, as is noted in the table.
6. Though the weather, from a variety of irregular causes, is more uncertain in the latter part of autumn, the whole of Ht s the beginning of spring, yet, in the main, the above observations will apply to those periods also.
7. To prognosticate correctly, especially in those cases where the wind in concerned, the observer should tw within sight of a good vane, where the four cardinal points of the heavens are correctly placed.
Source: The Farmer's Almanack ©1841

Monday, June 1, 2015

1884 Cottage House Plans

Below is a picture of an 1884 basic cottage. The estimated cost of this build was $200.00.

This plan was designed for a simple cottage, with sufficient accommodations for beginners in housekeeping with limited means. It is arranged as the Wing of a larger house to be erected in the future, as indicated in the dotted sketch adjoining the ground-plan.

Here's a link to another blog post I did that has plans for another 1884 house. Heroes, Heroines & History