I knew that C.S. Lewis and I had more in common than our Christianity when he said, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." Welcome to a celebration of faith, tea, and the written word. I'm always engaged in a book, and whether it's one I'm reading or one of the inspirational historical romances I write, there's always a cup of tea close by. Join me in a cup as we chat about faith, our favorite books and the exciting places our reading and writing adventures take us.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Here Comes The (Stupendously-Dressed Royal) Bride!

Are you ready, Royal Watchers?

I can't wait to see it--The gown! The hats! The Archbishop of Cantebury!

The wedding—yes, the wedding—takes place this Friday, April 29, uniting Prince William of Wales to Miss Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey.

Unfortunately for Americans, the ceremony does not air at a decent time (6 AM Eastern time, 3 AM Pacific, and that doesn’t include all of the juicy pre-wedding coverage).  The time difference brings back memories of the 1981 wedding of Prince William’s parents, HRH Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. Few of us owned VCRs back then, so my mom and I set our alarms for 2 AM so we could watch the wedding live.

I’m lucky enough to own a DVR now, so my daughter doesn’t have to worry about getting up at 2 AM on a school day to watch Kate and Will tie the knot. As soon as the engagement was announced, she and I made plans to watch the wedding after school, with plenty of snacks on hand.

If you lack a DVR or just can’t get enough coverage, don’t worry about missing a single minute: several networks will offer coverage, recaps, movies, and specials surrounding the royal wedding. I’ve listed a few below (all times are Eastern Daylight unless noted, and subject to change, so check your local listings).

Still can’t get enough? Join us over on Inkwell Inspirations this week for a tribute to weddings, royal and otherwise! My post is up on The Big Day itself, Friday the 29th, and I’m having a blast researching tidbits to share throughout the post. I'm also adding a few thoughts about how the royal wedding relates to our own marriages. Hope to see you there!

All Week:
TLC offers various wedding-related programs
The Disney Channel is showing princess-themed movies during prime time, including "Enchanted" and "Aladdin."

April 25:
20/20, Special Wedding Edition, ABC, 10-11PM

April 27:
Extreme Royal Collections, TLC, 10-11PM
How to Be a Prince, BBC America, 11AM-1PM

April 28:
Inside the Royal Wedding, NBC, 8-9PM
20/20, Special Wedding Edition, ABC, 8-9PM
Watch What Happens Live: Royal Wedding Spectacular, Bravo, 11PM

April 29:
BBC America Coverage, starting at midnight, Eastern
Today, NBC, 1 AM Pacific
Fox News Channel, 1 AM
The Early Show, CBS, 2 AM Pacific
Good Morning America, ABC, 2 AM
The Wedding! All Major Networks, live (3 AM Pacific, 6 AM Eastern)
The Royal Wedding: Modern Majesty, CBS, 8PM
Dateline, NBC, 9-11PM
20/20, ABC, 9-11 PM
Fashion Police Royal Wedding, E!, 10PM
Say Yes to the Dress: Princess Brides Edition, TLC, time undetermined

Come back after the wedding and let’s dish! And don't forget to stop by Inkwell Inspirations on Friday.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Blessings!

Alleluia! He is Risen!

He Is Risen 2Image by haleysuzanne via Flickr

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25

Easter Blessings to you and yours.
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Monday, April 18, 2011

Itty Bitty Feathers, Big Blessing

Most of us occasionally endure periods of depression, self-doubt, or frustration. Can you relate?

Sometimes I get stuck in a writing rut, where I think a math textbook is more emotive than my scenes. Then I get frustrated with myself and enter a cycle of guilt, avoidance, prayer, renewed determination, and eventually, a decent turn of phrase which keeps me coming back to the computer.

Then there are times where something else irritates me, or saddens me, or worries me. And prayer is always the key to keeping things going. Not magically, of course. But by keeping Jesus as the focus of my activities and emotions, I'm better equipped to get through life's little obstacles.

Another thing I've learned to help me stay focused on God is to keep my eyes open to His gifts. God often provides glimpses of beauty and grace, just when I need them (and sometimes, even when I don't!). These little treasures are things to rejoice over, reminders that God is active and wonderful, no matter how I feel or what's going on in my life.

The latest drop of sunshine in my life happened this week. I wouldn't have noticed the nest at all if the hummingbird hadn't zipped through the leaves as I walked by the front window. I stood perfectly still, hoping to watch the tiny bird zoom around my yard for a few seconds, but when it settled into a small "Y" of branches, I gasped in delight.

The nest is fairly hidden by leaves and the same umber color as the branches. If the hummingbird hadn't moved at just the right time, with me at just the right angle, I'd be naive to the little gift.
"Mama Hummie" is not easy to see in her secluded spot.

I feel so blessed by "Mama Hummie," as we call her. I love watching her feather her nest with dandelion fluff; I can't wait to see the babies hatch from their marble-sized eggs. The hummingbird reminded me of God's creation, His busy hand, the delight He takes in His creatures and the delight He feels at my joy, too.

God's mercies are new every morning. Sometimes we just have to open our eyes to them.

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Blue and Gray Roots: Digging into the Civil War

April 12, 1861, half past four in the morning. A single shot fires on Ft. Sumter, and the war between the Union and the Confederate States of America begins.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. The events of 1861-1865 have always held America's interest, fed through books, re-enactments, articles, television shows, and movies, from "Gone With the Wind" to "Glory." (One of my personal favorites: "North and South." Patrick Swayze. Nuff said.)

I was delighted to learn that from now until April 14, popular website Ancestry.com is offering free access to its vast collection of Civil War records. Ancestry.com does require an email address and user name to view the records, but there is no charge until April 15 to view and save the documents.

With only the name and state of my great-great-grandfather, I quickly learned paragraphs of information about his experience. Not just the date and place of his muster, but which battles he fought in (a lot), how long they stopped for smallpox epidemics, who served alongside him, and what he did--Drum! I learned that another man with the same surname, Jacob, also fought in my ancestor's regiment, and while I can't view census records without paying for the privilege, I am guessing Jacob was my drummer's brother or cousin. But I could learn that Jacob played fife, a cool factoid for the flautist in my family.

I have more digging to do. Another ancestor of mine (on another branch) was too young to fight, but four of his brothers did. Family legend tells me that two brothers fought for the Union, and two for the Confederacy. This heartbreaking story must be explored. This summer, when I have a bit more time, I plan to subscribe to the site to learn as much as I can about this family.

If you have even a teeny bit of information about a relative who may have fought in the Civil War, even if it's only his name, it might be worth checking outAncestry.com. The research opportunity--for writing, if you're so inclined, and for personal use--is greater than I imagined.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dressing Mr. Darcy -- Regency Fashion, Live and In Person!

Recently, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) closed their their temporary exhibit, "Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915," but not before I was blessed to visit it with my family in tow.

Actually, when I heard about the exhibit, I told my husband, "We are going to this exhibit!" And he loves me, so he said, "Pick a day."

Fashion from the previous three centuries intrigues me. True, I write (and read) historical fiction, and having at least a tiny grasp of period fashion is an important part of research. But the truth is, I've got an affection for historical costume, and my love affair with all things relating to the Regency period in England (roughly 1810-1820) includes an appreciation for its signature clothing style -- cravats for the gentlemen, and empire waists, Greco-Roman columns, light muslins for the ladies.

Non-flash photos were allowed, so I took a few pics, and I wanted to share a few Regency-specific ensembles with you.

The photo below shows gowns from two different eras: the stunner on the left is early-Victorian, and IMHO quite lovely. But naturally I was a bit more interested in the Regency-era ensemble on the right. (My daughter proudly pegged it from a distance as Regency and even called the brown jacket by name -- a spencer! Some kids pick up sports trivia from their parents...mine absorb Regency clothing names. I'm so sorry, kids.)

Doesn't it look like the Regency-clad mannequin is looking wistfully at the Victorian gal's gorgeous gown? A bit like Cinderella before the Fairy Godmother arrives...Sigh. I've been there, honey.

Around the corner, I discovered some court (read: fancy) ensembles. The craftsmanship that went into these pieces was amazing. Two Regency-esque gentlemen's costumes were on display; alas, my photo of the more famous of the two court suits (the one featured on many promotional materials for the exhibit) did not turn out, so I can't share it and its astonishing embroidery with you. My photo of the second suit, however, came out fairly well. Despite its militaristic look from the red wool coat, it's dashing enough for someone of Pride and Prejudice's Mr. Darcy's vast wealth to have worn (although he didn't flaunt his money, and I always picture him in a bottle green coat. But I digress.)

The red wool coat and cloth-of-silver waistcoat are both heavily embroidered with silver thread, and they weigh in at more than six pounds!

And what would Mr. Darcy's lady, Elizabeth Bennet, be wearing, perchance? Well, the ladies' formal gowns on display were all a good twenty or so years younger than the gentlemen's ensembles, so we'll have to use our imaginations. But here's a lovely late-Regency gown that Elizabeth Darcy could have worn years after Pride and Prejudice concluded. This stunner from 1818 is deceptively simple. It's fashioned of lace, as you can best see by examining the hem. It was worn one year after Jane Austen's death.

The next two photos show a silk court gown from 1825. It's from Portugal, and embroidered with golden palm fronds and exotic flowers. Indian muslins, turbans, and exotic plants were popular during this period.

Here's a close-up of the train:

Wowee. I wonder how long it took a team to do that. It's gorgeous.

Last but not least, here's a photo of a beaded Regency-era reticule -- the one item on display which surprisingly raised my curiosity and has set me on a new wave of research. In my own stories, I've always had my heroines carry things like handkerchiefs and coins, and perhaps even a letter, in their reticules. Big mistake? I wonder. The reticules on display at the LACMA grew larger as the decades progressed, and this Regency-era purse is very small, more like a coin purse (and half the size of the tobacco pouch to its left).

But is this tiny-sized purse a fair representative of all Regency-era purses? As with everything on display at the museum, from stockings to gowns, I would have loved to have had some context to go with it (who owned it? Where did they wear it?), but not knowing the answers has given me some work to do.

For more information about LACMA, visit www.lacma.org.

Do you enjoy historical fashions? And more pressing, are you an expert on reticules? HELP! :-)