Tag: Ireland

Seven Things I Love (5-24-2021): History Edition

  1. 1. This Patent Drawing – Which finally puts to rest the question over or under. I don’t mean to gloat but I KNEW IT and my Mamma never lead me astray.

From My Modern Met:

Over or under? This is the question that has plagued the Western world since the invention of modern toilet paper. It was in 1857 that New York-based inventor Joseph C. Gayetty developed the first packaged variety to be made widely available in the U.S. However, it wasn’t until 1871 that perforated rolls of toilet paper were invented. Seth Wheeler filed a patent for his innovative design for the first time that year, and he filed another for a refined version of his invention again in 1891.

The illustrated diagram from Wheeler’s 1891 patent sheds some light on how the toilet paper roll was originally intended to be used. According to the image, it appears that the dangling end was designed to hang over—rather than under—the roll. This may be a crippling blow to those who are of the persuasion that under is the way to go. Even so, if hanging your toilet paper roll under is wrong, they probably don’t want to be right.

Original Patent Drawing Puts an End to the Great “Over or Under” Toilet Paper Debate” by Arnesia Young; May 13, 2021; My Modern Met

2. These Videos about Women’s Clothing in History – They are all just too good. The first talks about how women’s clothing may actually have been created to help protect. The second gives the history of how standard sizes came to be and the motivations behind doing so (hint, it’s always money.) The third video is a fascinating history of why men traditionally wear pants and women traditionally wear skirts (or did they….)

And last but not least (and this is a a wee bit of a stretch but I’m including it) a video about the clothing in the show ‘The Nevers‘ – my current favorite television show, which can be seen on HBO Max. They’ve already aired the first half of season one (8 episodes) and will be airing the second half sometime in the fall I believe (another 8 episodes.) As the vlogger mentions, the show is extremely historically accurate with their costumes (and she should know, it is her area of expertise.) She takes the opportunity to bust the myth that clothing from that era was extremely restrictive. There have been anti-corset campaigns for some time. Certainly the extremely boned corsets that reshape the body are not/were not good, but for women of this era most weren’t wearing the tightly drawn or heavily boned corsets (like Scartlett O’Hara). Unless a woman was from a wealthy family she would have been quite active and probably wouldn’t have had the luxury of having a ladies maid.

3. This Article about the New Version of the Game ‘Oregon Trail’ – A fascinating essay where the author, who is a black historian, is in a battle between his longing for childhood nostalgia and truth-telling in history. Is there really any correct way to make a game about colonialization?

John Gast, “American Progress” (1872), oil on canvas, 12 3/4 inch x 16 3/4 inch
(image courtesy Wikimedia Commons, painting in possession of Autry Museum of the American West)

4. This Article on Book Curses – In medieval times, because books were handmade, written by scribes, and took a long time to make, they were rare and had great physical value. Most scribes and book owners did not have the financial means to protect their libraries with armed guards so instead they used words to fend off would-be thieves. Fortunately for them, most people believed in curses so it worked fairly well.

What I want to know is why don’t we use book curses today? They would look so nice on a bookplate. Even if most people don’t believe in curses anymore, at least it would remind them to keep their paws off of things that aren’t theirs.

I looked up some more and found one [here] that I am going to make into stickers so I can put it inside all my books:

Whoever steals this book
Will hang on a gallows in Paris,
And, if he isn’t hung, he’ll drown,
And, if he doesn’t drown, he’ll roast,
And, if he doesn’t roast, a worse end will befall him.

From a 15th century manuscript owned by Count Jean d’Orleans.
12th century Hell. Herrad von Landsberg/Public Domain.

5. These Articles about Coco Chanel and Her Nazi Connections – I’ve always been a huge fan of Coco Chanel so when I first read about this it made me extremely sad. The first article was from nearly a decade ago and appeared on MessyNessyChic. It was written about eight months after the book Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War by Hal Vaughan was released. This was the first book to really include details about her involvement with the Nazis (not just that she was dating one) such as her code name, agent number, that she was included in nazi missions and worst of all, that she had taken advantage of her “Aryan rights” (meaning the seizing of Jewish-owned property and businesses.)

The second article was equally interesting. This one appeared on Forbes last year. The author is trying to determine if we can justify overlooking such a horrifying past in someone like Coco Chanel, whose left such a legacy. It’s an interesting question. I think this might be a good analogy – what if there was a building built by the nazis and after the war, all that remained was the foundation. So the French come and build a ground floor and the English build a 1st floor and the Norwegians build a 2nd floor (I’m doing the european counting of floors) and the Danish build a 3rd floor and so forth. And each floor is filled with beautiful things. But ultimately that base was built by nazis – should the entire thing be torn down and rebuilt? Should it be moved? I don’t think so.

BUT what I do think is that Chanel should stop avoiding Coco Chanel’s horrific history. I know that they think it can’t be good for PR but what they need to do is use it to help and get ahead of it. Just admit – we realize that our founder was a nazi sympathizer, possibly a nazi collaborator and our response is that we are appalled by the information as much as you are. Our founder was a talented woman and we cannot deny that Chanel wouldn’t exist without her genius but the nazi atrocities were unforgivable and that she was involved is a huge black stain on the origin of our company. They could put their money where their mouth is and contribute to a Holocaust organization.

My believe is that we should not be completely erasing bad history but instead we should be making it accurate and using it as a teaching opportunity.

6. This Article about How Women in the UK/Ireland Were Duped into Believing it was Bad to Drink Tea – Though it’s me who is saying that the women were actually duped. The article implies it but doesn’t come right out and say it. Neither does this one.

Here’s the situation – first and foremost, tea was considered expensive back then. So was sugar if you wanted to sweeten it (because milk and honey in tea just doesn’t work.) Right away men (husbands and fathers) were going to say that women shouldn’t be drinking something as expensive as tea.

Then there were the wealthy, who liked to feel that drinking tea was something the gentrified did, certainly not the poor.

And of course, there was concern that women who sat around drinking tea would have time to talk to one another and that could lead to anarchy.

Even without social media, the “powers that be” managed to get messages out that women shouldn’t be drinking tea – said it was “unhealthy”, it made you lazy, etc. And the worse part is that the poor, uneducated women were the ones that bought into the lies and helped spread it. Hmmmm, that sounds vaguely familiar.

c. 1900 The Glencar Tea House in County Leitrim

7. This ‘Self Portrait’ by Photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston – I was thrilled when I finally found out who this photo was of and what it was about. I’ve loved it for years! Taken around 1896 by the photographer herself, it is supposed to represent the “new woman.”

Here’s a great article about the photo and the photographer from Smithsonian.

Frances Benjamin Johnston could be both ladylike and bohemian, which abetted her career as a photographer. (Library of Congress)

Word of the Day


Quote of the Day

Seven Things I Love (12-7-2020)

How is it already DECEMBER????

1. This Tea Party – Truly amazing. I belong to the Facebook group called ‘The Gilded Age Society.’ The Edwardian Era has always been my favorite time period, even before ‘Downton Abbey’ was a thing. Recently a young person name Paul Ryan T. Co, who is also a member of the group, posted these photos. He recreated a most magnificent Edwardian Era tea. I wrote to him immediately and asked if I could share the photos and he said yes so here they are.

An Edwardian Tea created by Paul Ryan T. Co

Here are some of the details included in Paul’s description:

The menu includes fresh fruits, dried fruit with nuts, chicken truffle quiche, scones with clotted cream and jam, and the pièce de résistance is a Lady Baltimore cake, which is a white cake filled with nuts and figs and then frosted with a fluffy marshmallow meringue icing. THAT sounds divine!

Paul used the original 1906 recipe which was copied in several newspapers, including Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s Daily Gazette and BulletinThe Columbus Journal, and The Washington Times.

There is a fascinating history of the cake on this site.

I myself might try a more modern recipe and am thinking of giving Martha’s version a try.

Additionally, the service is traditional to the period. It’s made up of an American sterling tea set by Gorham from the 1880s, a set of monogrammed sterling cutlery by Watson from 1902, a silver cake server by Whiting (from their King Edward pattern introduced in 1900 to commemorate Edward’s accession to the throne, which makes it rare), a Ridgeway dessert service, a Minton cake pedestal, a double-handled, molded Prussian cake plate, and a trio of Coalport tea cups (all produced from the late 1800s to early 1900s.) This guy needs to be hired by a production company, STAT! He’s a true artist.

Tell me you wouldn’t pay beaucoup bucks to attend a tea at this place!

2. This Governmental Body – The Irish Parliament discussed the “Santa Claus Issue” and formally announced that Santa is exempt from their national quarantine, that he will indeed still be visiting homes in Ireland, but social distancing should still be practiced and people should remain 2 meters away from him. Gotta LOVE THIS!

3. This Xfinity Short Film – It’s not really an advertisement. I saw a brief clip of this on television and it was so intriguing I wanted to watch the entire thing. Steve Carrell is a fine Santa Claus!

4. This Video on Mourning a Relationship You Never Had – I love Anna Akana so much and I really wish that she could time travel back to the early 80s and tell me exactly what she says in the video. Course I’m not sure if I would have been smart enough back then to listen to her.

5. This IG of Chris Evans Playing the Piano! – just when you think he can’t get any more adorable/perfect/wonderful….

and then watch Jimmy Fallon’s response to Chris’s piano playing viral video, it’s HILARIOUS.

6. These Recipes and Tips for Roasting Chestnuts – unless you live in a pretty large city (with lots of pedestrian traffic) you probably don’t run across many places selling roasted chestnuts during the Christmas season (despite what Hallmark movies makes Christmas look like). Myself, I’d actually never had them until well into my 50s.

I don’t have a gas stove so I have two options – one is two use my gas grill and the other is to roast them in the oven. I prefer them on the grill because they’re on an open flame but when it’s too cold (doesn’t happen much anymore with climate change) or when I’m visiting family and it’s too much of a hassle, the oven method works just fine. Especially when I use them in recipes, with, oh, for example, Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts and Bacon.

In fact, last Christmas I tried to make the above recipe at my sister-in-law/brother’s house. In the notes it says, “If you prefer to roast fresh chestnuts instead of using vacuum-packed ones, cut a slit in the shell of each chestnut with a serrated knife.” I’m going to tell you something – a freaking serrated knife will not slit the shell of a chestnut. I mean, it will, but it’s like trying to saw wood with a butter knife.

Recently I ran across this nifty gadget and now I know that next year I will be completely prepared! It will score the chestnut so that it doesn’t explode while roasting (after all, that’s the primary reason why you’re cutting it.) Once you roast it, it should be easy to peel.

Bring it on Christmas 2021! I’m ready for you…

Chestnut Nutcracker

7. This Search Result When You Google Alex Trebek – SO sweet!

Before I get to the Word and Quote of the Week I strongly recommend that you watch these two movies before the end of the month. They are very different films but there’s one major similarity – you will figure it out quickly.

What I couldn’t help but think while watching both of them is how much better the world would be if people weren’t so judgmental and how so much bad behavior – masculine toxicity, repressed emotions, abusive tendencies, the list is endless – are passed on from generation to generation.

The first movie is Uncle Frank – amazing cast.

The second is The Happiest Season and it’s on Hulu (Dan Levy not surprisingly steals every scene he’s in.)


Word of the Week


Quote of the Week

Never Forget…

Seven Things I Love (10-5-2020): Gastronomical Edition

Okay guys, so I was collecting thing for my upcoming blog post and not only did I have WAY too many but a lot of them seemed to be food related so this week I’m posting two blogs simultaneously. Don’t worry, I don’t think this will be a regular thing.

1. This video showing How they make croissants at the Le Marais Bakery in San Francisco. Mesmerizing. And man, they look so good. Dammit, how much longer until we can freaking travel. Or at least leave our homes? My state unfortunately is becoming a new hotspot. Some hospitals not too far north of where I live have had to start wait-listing or transferring patients. I’m going to go watch this video again….

2. This Black Forest Piecaken – my friend Kathy made this! You’ve probably heard of a turducken, which is a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, further stuffed into a deboned turkey. Well a piecaken is a pie baked inside a cake. You can make it with pretty much any kind of pie and any kind of cake but this is a cherry pie baked into a fudgy chocolate cake. Only in America!

I’m not sure if this is the same recipe my friend used but the photo is mighty close to the end result so it could be. OR if you don’t want to put as much work into it, you can use this boxed cake recipe but that’s not going to be as good.

3. This pizzeria – Vinnie’s Pizzeria, that has added “Comforting Words” to its menu at the low cost of $1! 2020 has a silver linings here and there.

4. This Australian tradition – “Democracy Sausage” or another reason why the rest of the world is superior to America. Oh em gee, why aren’t we doing this???? Because most countries don’t try to discourage voting/making it difficult to vote and actually try to lure people to the polls, in Australia at many elections they grill these sausages, called “snags” and offer them either for free or to raise money for local causes. I realize during a global pandemic this may not be a good time to start this (and I’m sure they won’t be doing it in Australia for the next year or so either) but we really need to try harder.

5. This Snow Globe Gin from Harvey Nichols – two of my favorite things in one package. Pinch me. They’ve used edible gold flakes for the snow. It’s times like this that I ask myself yet again, why the hell am I not living in the UK? (You can’t see it on their website until November, not that they can ship it to the U.S. Trust me, I’ve tried to have gin shipped here.)

6. These Tips for tidying up your kitchen — I’m obsessed with Food52 and this article had some amazing tips on how to clean up your kitchen quickly and easily. I particularly liked the part for keeping an “orderly fridge.” Genius.

(bonus – before and after (mostly after) photos of junk drawer makeovers…)

7. This article about how the Irish Supreme Court ruled that Subway Bread is too sweet to be bread. Yes, it’s official, Subway bread is not bread. FINALLY!

After all, we all know that we should all be eating bread like this on a daily basis. Mmmmmm, Irish Brown Bread. There’s nothing better. This photo is from the website Hungry Enough to Eat Six and they have a dandy recipe for Irish Brown Bread here.


Have a WONDERFUl week!