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.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Regency-era Mourning


mourning fashion
Belle Assemble morning gown, 1818
Mourning was a big part of life during the Regency era, not just a stage of grief or a period or adjustment, but a literal season set by society which dictated one's clothing and behavior.

The length of one's mourning period depended upon the relationship to the deceased, and customs could vary by social class.

In addition, there were two types of mourning, Full and Half. In Full mourning, one wore matte black, but after a suitable period (about halfway through the mourning period), one could transition to Half mourning and wear subdued colors like lavender.

The guidelines listed here are by no means comprehensive, but they give us an idea of what mourning was like during the Regency.

Lengths of Mourning Period:

Spouse:  1 year
One's child:  6 months – 1 year  (the older the child, the longer the mourning period)
Parent or In-Law:  6 months–1 year
Grandparent:  6 months
Sibling:  6 months
Aunt or Uncle:  3 months
Cousin: 1 month

What did a woman wear and do during mourning?
Image result for regency mourning
Fashion Plate 1810, Wikipedia commons
Full mourning required a black wardrobe. Fabric choices included crepe (lightweight silk), bombazine (heavier silk), velvet, or sarcenet with no shimmer or sheen--fabrics should be matte or dull. Oftentimes a woman would have her current gowns dyed black, because new wardrobes were so expensive. Her accessories would also be black, from gloves to cap, and she would not wear anything shiny or sparkly, like jewels. She also might wear a veil.
Mourning tiara, worn 1818 and thereafter:
Mourning Tiara 
She should not attend social functions during this time. She could, however, receive calls.

If she mourns the death of her husband, she must not marry again for a year. This way, if it was discovered she was expecting, there would be no doubt of the paternity of the baby.
Ackermann, Mourning Dress,, 1819
Ackermann's, 1819
Halfway through the mourning period, her wardrobe could soften to include "sober" colors like lavender, brown, mauve, and gray. Apparently she could also incorporate patterns into her wardrobe, as in the fashion plate below.
Fashion Plate (Half Mourning Walking Dress), London, England, Early 19th century, Los Angeles County Museum of Art:
Fashion Plate, Half Mourning, 
She could wear modest jewelry, and a popular thing to do at the time was to wear a pendant or brooch incorporating the deceased person's hair.
Mourning pendant in memory of Betsy Robinson who died in 1809. With dual hearts, an eternity knot of hair, initials and the sentiment ‘The  union of hearts constitutes our happiness’.:
1809, From the artofmourning.com
She could begin to attend social activities, but should choose wisely and not appear to be having too good of a time.
Mourning Hats, 1805.:
Mourning hats, 1805
Men had mourning rules a little easier.

 Many gentlemen wore black anyway, so they often wore clothes they already had in their closets, like black coats. They could also wear black neckcloths, an armband of black crepe, black ornamentation on their hats, and black gloves.

A widower was expected to take time to grieve, but business or parliamentary obligations necessitated that he did not hide away for long. He could remarry within the year.

In Half Mourning, a gentleman might resume his regular wardrobe but continue to wear a black armband.

Children mourned, too, and wore black, and/or black bows or sashes were sewn onto their clothes and hats.

Considering how many relations one had, and that the life expectancy was not what it is today, a person could possibly spend years wearing mourning attire!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Back Cover Copy--Something to Squeal About

What an emotional weekend! Back to school here at home, but we also moved our oldest into her dorm to start her freshman year at college.

I'm proud of her, but miss her. Last night was our first family dinner with that empty spot at the table. I held it together, but I would be lying if I didn't say I was sad.

Parenting is a lifelong grieving process, according to one person I spoke to. I think he's got a point. Letting our kids go as they grow is a series of goodbyes (to different stages) and much as it is hellos (to new ones). I'm celebrating my kids' growth and achievements, but I think it's ok to be a little sad at a time like this, too.

So it was a nice treat to look up the link for my upcoming Love Inspired Historical, The Reluctant Guardian, and see that the back-cover copy has been written. WOW! The team did an amazing job capturing the story:

Under the Spy's Protection 

When Gemma Lyfield inadvertently interrupts a dangerous smuggling operation in her English village, she's rescued by a mysterious Scottish spy. Now with criminals after her and her hopes for an expected marriage proposal recently dashed, she will make her society debut in London. But not without the man tasked with protecting her…

Covert government agent Tavin Knox must keep Gemma safe from the criminals who think she can identify them—a mission he never wanted. But as he escorts her and her rascally nephews around London, the lovely English lass proves braver than he ever imagined. Suddenly, the spy who works alone has one Season to become the family man he never dreamed he'd be.

***

No cover to share yet, but when I have it I will pop it up here! I can't wait!

The Reluctant Guardian releases Feb 2017!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Announcing the Of Rags and Riches Collection!

I'm excited to tell you I'm in an upcoming Historical Romance collection from Barbour Publishing!

Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection, coming June, 2017.

Authors to be announced shortly


But I can say I'm so excited to be in this collection with them!

My story is called The Right Pitch, set in Philadelphia PA in 1876. Here's the blurb:

It’s a fair pitch: a guarded, injured rail-works owner will sponsor the local ladies’ baseball team if they let his capricious sister play ball, but when the team’s pretty pitcher insists he manage the team, it’s a curveball that could prevent him from playing it safe, in life and in love.

I'll let you know when it's available for pre-order and when we have a cover!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Summer Garden: Zucchini with Dill Sauce


Summer gardens tend to overflow with zucchini, and I'm always looking for creative ways to use them. Bread, sauteed, steamed, in salads, on the grill...

Here's a new way we've enjoyed it this year: with a sauce of dill and yogurt. It's refreshing and fun.
  • 1 lb. zucchini, washed, cut into spears or rounds, tossed with olive oil, s&p. Either grill, broil or steam until tender (we grill a lot this time of year, and steaming is fine, but the zucchini won't have a nice little brown crispness that the other methods provide). Time varies by cooking method and size of zucchini pieces, but ten minutes is generally enough. Just check with a fork for tenderness.
  • Combine 1/2 c. plain yogurt, 1 t. lemon juice, s&p to taste, and 1 t. dried dillweed. Add a little fresh garlic and/or chopped chives if desired.
Serve zucchini hot or cold with sauce.

Monday, August 1, 2016

August Frenzy! I Need Chamomile!


Chamomile tea may conjure images of cold weather, being tucked under a blanket before you go to sleep, but the first week of August is the perfect time for me to brew a cup.

I have a deadline looming, summer's almost over and it feels like it hasn't really started yet, and my firstborn is heading off to college in a few weeks. Yep, that last one is the real kicker. I'm the emotional equivalent of a pinball.

So here's what I'm going to do: brew a cup of chamomile. It's a good tea to drink when your body is under some stress. There are others, too, but chamomile is easily accessible and popular.
Chamomile, Chamomile Blossoms, Medicinal Herb
Chamomile blossoms are pretty, too!
Chamomile relaxes muscles, including the smooth muscles in our intestines. It also helps release digestive enzymes, so your body has less work to do. Another benefit? It calms the nerves.

You can make your own tea using dried chamomile, or purchase from just about any retailer that sells tea. Here's my favorite, which contains lavender for extra relaxation and it smells wonderful.

Chamomile can be (dare I say?) boring. Go ahead and add a little of your favorite sweetener, like stevia, if you desire. Or just bust out the calories and dunk a cookie in it. (Did I mention I'm stressed out?)

Take a load off, and spend a few minutes with a soothing cup, no matter the weather.