Similarities Found Between Modern-day Vacations & Regency Vacations ~ by Susan Karsten

In researching what Regency folk did on their trips to vacation towns, I was surprised how well I could relate to what they did. Some of it reminded me of trips to places like Minocqua, Wisconsin.

downtown Minocqua, a popular tourist town in WI

Because when you’re there, staying in a rustic cabin or resort on a nearby lake, you do a lot of the same things that Regency vacationers did. Bored, or having a cloudy day, we go into town and visit: the library, the coffee shop, perhaps a theater’s open somewhere. One might buy clothes (t-shirts nowadays), or hats (caps, visors), or a newspaper.

Sydney Gardens of Bath held a grotto, a falls, a ruined castle, an echo and a labyrinth.

Active people took walks, made rendezvous, picnics, tours, visited waterfalls, paid to enter local attractions, went to dances and concerts, and out to breakfast. I’ve done all those activities on vacation.

It would seem our vacations aren’t as completely different as we may have thought.

What’s your favorite vacation activity? Do you go to resort/vacation communities?

Getting the Most From Regency Reflections

Maybe you’ve been reading Regency Reflections for months and maybe this is your first time. Either way, we’re glad you’re here.

Did you know that Regency Reflections does much more than provide interesting tidbits on life in early 19th century England? It’s true! Just look at the features listed below. Some of them have been around since day one and others are brand new.

MatchCover~ A Free Fiction Fix ~

Did you read our serial story in February? If not, take some time and read the short story created by our fabulous Reflections authors. The contest is long past, but the story is still fabulous. Read it all from the A Suitable Match page. 

~ Inspirational Regency Book Listings ~

Have you see the book list page? If you are looking for your next inspirational Regency, we have several you can pick from! Look through books from Reflections authors as well as other wonderful writers. There’s even a style description to help you choose.

thimbles~ Inspirational Regency Book Recommendations ~

Maybe you have already read some of the books on our book list. We’d love for you to participate in the Thimble poll to tell others what you thought of the book.

~ Author and Reader Connections ~

We’ve always loved interacting with you in the comments, but there is now a brand new option for contacting us at Regency Reflections. You don’t have to wait for a relevant post – you can Come Calling! We’d love to hear from readers about topics they would like us to cover or books they love that are missing from our list.

You’ll notice our book list has is missing a few titles. If you are an author with a new inspirational Regency coming out, we want to hear from you as well. We’ll add your book to our list and possibly work out a guest post or author interview.

Old_Blacksmiths_Shop_Gretna_Green~ Guest Posts ~

Did you see the wonderful guest posts last week from Collette Cameron and Roseanna M. White? If you are an author or lover of Regency history, you might can guest post, too! Use the Come Calling form to tell us a little about what you would like to write and we’ll get in touch with you.

~ Contests ~

There’s no contest running right now, but there are more just around the corner! We’ve been known to give away books, gifts cards, and lots of other wonderful goodies! Just a few weeks ago, one lucky reader won a brand new Nook. So when’s our next contest? We can’t say for sure – the fun of surprise and all – but you might want to make sure you’re keeping up with the blog in August. Wink, wink.

~ History, Trivia, and Fun from the Reflections Authors ~

As always we have our fabulous posts from our regular contributing authors. We love discovering little historical facts and passing them along to you. Want to learn more about your favorite bloggers? Visitor our editors page for bios and links. Many of our authors write in eras other than just Regency England, so your favorite blogger might have more books out there than you realize!

 

We hope you love Regency Reflections as much as we do. Remember to let us know in the comments below or on our new contact page what we can do to make it even better for you!

Portraits of Our Mothers

mother

The Washington Post headline read: “Survey: Half of women say they don’t have enough free time”. I confess that I laughed when I saw it on my Smartphone screen. No kidding? Half of us have enough hours in the day while the other half of us are just trying to make it through with our sanity intact? Whether it be for maintaining a household, rearing children (aka making sure they don’t destroy the house most days), focusing on a career or investing in the relationships in our lives, do women really have much “time to ourselves” to speak of? I wasn’t sure, especially since I was doing some quick reading during the halftime of my son’s soccer game.

Author Mom
Portrait of Madame Emilie Seriziat and son (Jacques-Louis David, 1795. Oil on canvas) Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When thinking about our topic of alfresco activities in the month of May, I just couldn’t let go of this concept of time. What would we do with scads of it to spend as we choose? Did I really have to sneak in a little research time in-between quarters for the soccer game? As Mother’s Day approaches, I had to wonder if time is an activity in and of itself  – and not just for women in the year 2013. We modern woman have entered the workforce with a vengeance, going from working an average 8 hours per week (at a paying job) in 1965 to working an average 21 hours a week in 2011. A whopping 56% of employed mothers with children under eighteen say it is very or somewhat difficult to maintain a balance between work and their home life (USA Today). And in 2011, women reported spending an average of 13.5 hours per week with their children.

With those stats, why wouldn’t we think that maintaining careers, taxiing kids to soccer fields and dance class, popping dinner in the microwave and rushing through the occasional load of laundry makes us busier than mothers in the Regency Era? After all, Jane quoted that a mother would have always been present. That must mean a mother had little by way of responsibilities in 1812, right? Wrong. She had more to do than choose fabric for her next ball gown, that’s for sure.

Author Mom 2
The Good Mother (Jean-Honoré Fragonard, 18th century. Oil on canvas.) Photo: Wikimedia Commons

One of the most interesting books I read in college was A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785 – 1812 (by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich). Martha Ballard was a Regency Era woman, mother, and midwife living in eighteenth-century Maine. (If you want a picture of the hard-working Regency Super-Mom, this lady was it.) She ventured out on ice-covered lakes to deliver babies in the middle of winter. She managed to have nine children of her own while performing duties akin to that of a physician on a somewhat regular basis. She maintained her frontier home in rugged New England and fashioned a domestic economy as an herbalist and healer. (Career. Kids. Balancing work and home. Sound familiar?) I recommend this book for a candid look at the Regency from a fresh angle – maybe to see a connection between those mothers of 200 years ago and the portrait of a special mother in our lives today?

When I think about the portrait that my sons have of me as their mother, I’d hope they could say what Jane Austen did in her quote; I was always present. Maybe I was stretched a little and couldn’t give every moment, but I would hope I was always present in the moments I could give. That I was indeed a constant friend and cheerleader. That the influence I had brought them up to fear the Lord, to grow in righteousness, and to always treat gently the women God has gifted into their lives. I would hope that they remembered the time – the honest-to-goodness quality time – their mother spent with them in their youth… That I put the phone away on the soccer field and stayed present in the moment at my son’s game.

I pray the portraits we women paint as mothers in this life (whether in the Regency or in today’s world) showcase an abundance of grace and beauty. I pray that they’re portraits of our mothers, just as they will be of us some day.

Portraits of our mothers on Regency Reflections…

Author Kristi Hunter
Author Kristi Ann Hunter, her mother, and eldest daughter
Author Susan Karsten
Author Susan Karsten (far right), her mother, and youngest daughter
Author Vanessa Riley
Author Vanessa Riley and her mother (left); Author Vanessa Riley and daughter Ellen on Stone Mountain (right)
Author Kristy Cambron
Author Kristy Cambron and her mother

Who is a special mother in your life? How has she invested the gift of time in your life?

 Have a blessed Mother’s Day!

In His Love,

Kristy

 

The Clothing I Couldn’t Do Without…

Ah, spring. Even if snow still blankets your sidewalks, it’s hard to deny that spring with it’s brightly colored fabrics and fun bonnets is right around the corner.

We asked our Regency Reflections authors what item in their closet was their absolute favorite go-to item.

Naomi Rawlings

A ridiculously old sweatshirt that I’ve had since high school. Whenever I’m wearing it while my mom visits, she shakes her head at me and tells me I need to get rid of it.

Ruth Axtell

My most comfortable, best-fitting pair of jeans.

laurie and nick and waterLaurie Alice Eakes

My hats. I love hats – straw, organza, felt; pert bows and flirty streamers; swooping feathers of stiff flowers, hats please me to look at or wear.

Kristi Ann Hunter

My first thought was to say my jeans, but while they are a staple for me there isn’t a particular pair that is just my favorite. I have a pair of shoes, though, that I love. They are enormous, chunky platform type shoes. Something about them makes me feel like I can take on the world when I’m wearing them.

Kristy in her wedding dressKristy Cambron

Every girl has favorites in her closet, from her shoe collection to that favorite handbag. Being in a house full of all boys, I need a place to keep my girly fashion goodies stashed away and my own closet is it! But the shoes and bags are not the top items for me. Instead, the one thing that I will never, ever part with, is my wedding dress. It may not be in fashion after twelve years down the road, but it will always be there, hanging proudly in the back of everything else, keeping my closet warm with fine memories of years gone by. It makes me smile just by being there. I will never part with it.

What about you? What is your favorite item in your closet?

[poll id=”3″]

How Else to Entertain a Houseguest

Laurie Alice here: While working on my next Regency, (Zondervan Books, 2014), I ran into a problem—I needed to entertain a houseguest who is in mourning and who is also. . . We’ll be kind and call her distraught rather than whiny. Since I didn’t want them to play card games commonly associated with gambling, such as silver loo or whist, and this lady is not bright enough to play chess, I went to the well of information that is The Beau Monde ladies, the Regency special interest chapter of Romance Writers of America. As usual, they gave me enough information to keep my guest entertained for weeks; therefore, I thought I would share a few of them with you all.

Let’s start with Spillikins.

From Wikipedia (Jeu de mikado photo)

This is a game that is still played today. Sticks of varying shapes and sizes are held upright, then allowed to fall into a random pile. The object of the game is to collect as many sticks as you can without disturbing any of the other sticks. I remember playing something similar to this as a child called “Ker plunk”—or something like that.

Another game that reminds me a little of a favorite childhood game was, A Journey Through Europe, or The Play of Geography. The idea was a race through Europe, reaching the goal first. Players moved their game pieces along a map of Europe according to the toss of a dice. Sound a little like The Game of Life?

Other games included first having to put together what we would now call a jigsaw puzzle which resulted in a board game of some kind. These games—and others—were stored in slip cases for easy storage or taking on long road trips.

So now I need to figure out how I can get the heroine and hero playing one of these games. Or maybe that will wait for another book in this series. All I know is that knowing more about the games of the time makes for far more interesting evenings in the country houses in which I like to place my characters, than the standards of playing cards, chess, or music.

Top 12 Posts of 2012

Here at Regency Reflections, we have a dynamic team that works hard to provide our followers great insight and heart about all things regency.

Below are our top 12 posts for 2012. Take a moment and enjoy. We look forward to bringing you more great content in 2013.

Real Life Romance–And How to Keep it Alive 1
My Carriage Awaits… Maybe 2
A Review of “Jane Austen Knits” 3
A Flight of Fancy: a Regency Novel by Laurie Alice Eakes 4
Mr. Darcy, An Alpha Male in Love 5
Mourning in the Regency Period 6
What Happened to the Traditional Regency? 7
Interview and a Give-A-Way with Author Jamie Carie 8
Get to Know Our Own Laurie Alice Eakes (And win that gift basket!) 9
How to Have an American Duke 10
“Passion for Regency Fashion – The Pelisse” Susan Karsten 11
Wedding Hotspots in Regency England 12

Christmas Bells (December Bells) Are Ringing

When I think of Christmas Time, the lilt of bells and the memories I associate with them flood my mind. A warmth grips me, hugging me tighter than my best spencer. To me, bells always sound happy, giving an ethereal lightness and glow to the heart of the hearer. I prefer the sounds of cast bells. Their song is richer and more full-bodied than their thin sheet-metal cousins.

England is steeped in both, and bell-ringing is a part of the culture and history. The tradition of casting English bells predates the Middle Ages. Today, two of her best bellfounders survive, Taylors of Loughborough (1400) and Mears and Stainbank of Croydon (1570).

Moreover, bells and bell-ringing played a role in Regency life.  Bells rang to announce a church service. This service would be on Christmas Day as oppose to the Christmas Eve masses we are accustomed to.

I can imagine hearing the peal (the loud prolonged ringing) of St. George’s eight hemispherical bells tolling on the morn of December 25. Maybe the bell ringers would perform a change ringing where they would display a festive pattern of bell tolls.  It wouldn’t be a familiar holiday tune but an exquisite series of tones set to a rhythm indicative of the ringers’ skills. Change ringing is still popular today, in England and around the world.

Church bells would also ring for weddings. Although, it would probably be unusual (in my opinion), I couldn’t find any prohibitions to having a Christmas Day wedding. If Christmas fell on a Sunday after the banns have been successfully read, what cleric would stop the couple and delay the ringing of another successful match?

Amidst the joy, bells of London could also possess a seamy side. They are said to have been rung at Bethlehem Hospital (Bedlam) announcing to gawkers to come stare at the mentally unstable patients. I would hope that Christmas Day would be spared, but not the whole of December.

Perhaps after leaving St. George’s, if I were walking toward a coffee shop, a Morris dancer (or a troupe of Morris dancers) would perform in front of me. The bells strapped below their knees would tinkle with each of their merry steps. The Morris dancer tradition dates back to 15th Century in England. Its earliest notations suggests it was a dance that both men and women could partake in, but at the time of the Regency, it was mostly a male endeavor.

Walking a little farther, I might hear bells strapped to a horse team or the ringing of bells on residences which have not installed a doorknocker.   Those households wouldn’t have the advance warning of the importance of their visitor, as a footman’s successive knocks would detail, just the egalitarian jingle for all who darken their thresholds. Well, hopefully these homes are prepared for all coming to sup for Christmas dinner.

Trudging a little farther, I hear a dull peal, one laced with sorrow. Bells were also used to announce deaths. Continuing a tradition started in the Middle Ages, church bells were rung to drive away evil spirits from the departed souls. My heart breaks for anyone losing a loved one, particularly during a season meant for love of family and friends. My continued prayer is for the families of Newtown, Connecticut. Here at Regency Reflections/ChristianRegency.com our hearts are broken, too.  The ringing of twenty-six bells are too many.

References:

RWA’s Beau Monde Chapter

Oxford’s City Branch of Church Bell Ringers

Central Council of Church Bell Ringers

Forrest, John. The History of Morris Dancing, 1483–1750. Cambridge: James Clarke & Co Ltd, 1999.

 

The Art of the Silhouette

This silhouette of Jane Austen is attributed to a silhouette-maker, Mrs. Collins, who worked in Bath around 1800.

It’s hard to imagine not having photography to capture the moments of our everyday lives. Weddings, important events, vacations – these are all moments that we capture digitally or on film to enjoy for years to come.

Even though photography had not yet been invented, it was common practice during the Regency to have a likeness or portrait made of a loved one.  But oil paintings were expensive and took many sittings to complete.  Even watercolor paintings and high quality sketches took skill, time, and money.  For those who did not have the extra funds to spend on such luxuries, a silhouette was a viable alternative to capture a person’s likeness.

 

In simplest terms, a silhouette is the art of casting a shadow of one’s profile onto a sheet of paper and either cutting out or blackening the image.  Originally, this art form was known as creating a profile miniature or shade. The term “silhouette” is credited to the Frenchman Eteinne de Silhouette (1709-1797).   Silhouette, a finance minister to Louis XV, did not invent the art form, but his skill for cutting profiles earned him notoriety.  Additionally, his frugal tendencies made the term “silhouette” synonymous with this inexpensive hobby.

Many people are most familiar with silhouettes that have been cut from black paper, but there were actually several different techniques one could use to create a silhouette.  The most popular technique was to place a candle near a person’s profile and cast a shadow on paper. Then the shadow was traced and then either cut out with sharp, tiny scissors or and darkened with charcoal or lampblack.  Yet another technique was the “hollow cut silhouette”, in which the profiled image was cut from the paper and black material (silk, paper, etc.) was placed behind the empty space to reveal the image. Another more detailed technique was the painted silhouette, in which the artist would either trace or create the profile with oil paint or watercolours.

This silhouette of Robert Burns was created by John Wiers in 1787.

Because it was an inexpensive, easy, and relatively quick process, creating silhouettes became a popular party activity.   In fact, George III was fond of making silhouettes and threw elaborate “shade” parties.  Most cities – especially larger resort towns – had silhouette artists for hire.  One of the most-well known silhouette artists during the Regency was John Miers (1756-1821).  The majority of his career took place in London where, in his early years, he charged a guinea per silhouette. He was noted for his incredible speed and his infamous “three-minute sittings.” He, along with other professional silhouette artists, expanded the art form and created silhouettes on plaster, ivory, wax and glass. The most desirable silhouettes were drawn by hand (not traced) and often found their way onto jewelry and other valuable items.

If you would like to read more on this topic, be sure to check out this article by Linore Burkhard, a Regency Reflections blog contributor:  Rise of the Silhouette

Too Full for God

Vanessa here,

Do you have room in your heart for anything else?  A new job to help with the bills, a fundraiser to feed the starving children, a sale at your favorite crowded shoe store.

Have you stacked your life with carpooling, lil’ Ellen’s ballet classes, and you’re-the-only-one-who-can ministry work, making a buck, oh and quality hubby time between 7:00 and 10:00 on Saturdays, that you’ve lost the meaning of having quality devotion?

I have.

This year seemed to be one in which many things had finally come to fruition: My novel, Madeline’s Protector is being published. My hubby stopped being deployed, at least for a little while. My firm just signed its biggest client.

Then reality came a knocking.

Revisions and more revisions to my master piece. (All the edits, including cuts were for the best.) So, now hubby wants me to go to bed at a decent hour. Doesn’t he know inspiration hits at 1:00 A.M. My client believes that they should be my only obligation. It get’s better. Their offices are an hour from my home, and they want this homeschooling principle partner to be onsite early in the morning, three days each week. I won’t mention their lack of understanding of how long something takes to develop and deploy software.

So I adjusted, code for reducing my devotion time and being less present with my family.  Surely, they won’t mind. I began dropping off/out of my net circles. There was no time to twitter or follow cherished loop threads. Thus, when I needed spiritual refreshment, I pushed away from God and those needed friends offering words of encouragement.

Yet, as I seek to get handle on this new normal, tragedy strikes. My younger brother is prepped for open heart surgery in Florida. He lives in Georgia near the rest of the immediate kin. He just visited a client when he started experiencing chest pains. With a torn Aorta, the odds of his survival were less than 25%. The doctor told him without the surgery, he’d die in less than two days.

All the cards of my life fell off the table. My hands trembled, and I choked backed tears as I tried to convince our mother that everything was going to be fine. I don’t remember what I said or did next, except speeding away from my ‘not-understanding’ client. I have flashes of begging Delta to let me an oversold flight to be at his side when he comes out of the five hour surgery.

While I waited for positive signs of recovery, him waking up, etc., I slept on a hospital couch. My 16th anniversary passed with just phone calls. My child’s upcoming birthday party went unplanned. Nonetheless, my client learned to survive. My book galley edits… Well, I’m thankful for the editing team.

The only positive, other than seeing Marc open his eyes and squeeze my hand, was finding time to increase my prayer time. After crying out to God  for days on end, I regained that sense of connection. I never felt His arms about me more.

Why must it take near tragedy to begin to re-prioritize? I know that others have even more on their plates. I can’t imagine the depths of the burdens each of you have weighing on your lives, the important demands nipping at your heels.  All I know, is that you must run and fall at His feet, collapse your weight into God’s warm embrace.

Sleeping in the meat-locker cold air in the hospital, sniffing the wonderful bleach-laced alcohol scents in the air, gave me the opportunity to see my life, how much I’d isolated myself from friends and family with the myriad of pursuits I’d packed into my life.

First, I must apologize to my friends and family. I’ve been on the edges of your lives, only dipping my head and nodding to appear as if I’m present and involved. Every second that we breathe is precious. Every moment has worth, not just the accolades or project deliverables.

I repent for all “my busy time.”  God made us to enjoy a Sabbath, every seven days.  I’ve made it into a seven-day work week. How can I give my best to my clients or to hubby and my lil’ girl, if my batteries are never recharged?

I need to say no. You can’t serve two masters or promise to deliver something that is not humanly possible.We all want to be the good guy, the go-to girl. I am going to have to find joy in slacking. Miss Eager Beaver is now going to be, Mrs. let-me-check-my calendar. It won’t be easy. Maybe there’s a 12 step program for saying no.

Lastly, no matter how “important” some deadlines or tasks seem, it will never be more important than finding time to commune with the Lord. He is the lifter of my head when all seems lost. He is the city on hill giving guidance to those stuck in the valley. I don’t ever want to have my heart so full, that I push God and dependence upon him out of the ventricles.

My brother is now recovering at home in Georgia. He’s a walking miracle. God has used this circumstance for all our good.

Be blessed and say no to all but God.

 

 

Regency Sabbath, the Anglican Labor Day

Vanessa here,

As we settle in to enjoy Labor Day, I began to think of what the Regency times would think of such a holiday, a day off to celebrate the working man.  In fact, they did have a day to celebrate not working. In fact, they did so every week, on the Sabbath.

Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day (Deuteronomy 5:12-15).

For Anglican Regency England, the Sabbath was Sunday. Typically, the only work allowed in keeping with the Sabbath would be the preparation of the food and dressing. If one considered writing letters, “creating.”  The correspondence would have to wait. Cultivating your land (if you were lucky enough to inherit or purchase) would have to be delayed. Housework? Well, hopefully your home was clean the day before and would be sustained until Monday.   Remember, you should only minimally use your servants (if you could afford the help) and servants needed time for church and Sabbath observation too.

Outings other than to the parish? If one could walk to a neighbors as opposed to engaging a coachman and carriage, it could be permitted, but don’t get too merry socializing.  The Bow Street Runners or local magistrates might apprehend you, like they did many drinkers and gamblers placing them in stocks on the public ‘green’. Nothing like a little public humiliation to get you to uphold the Sabbath.

So on this day, like I did Sunday, I’ll take a moment to reflect then sneak back to my quill.

Happy Labor to All the hard workers out there.

Be blessed.

References:

Holidays are Holy Days by Jessica Snell

The Dangerous World of Regency England By Audrey Moorhouse

R. E. Swift. ‘Crime, Law and Order in Two English Towns during the Early Nineteenth Century: the experience of Exeter and Wolverhampton, 1815-56’