April is the Cruelest Month


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For most of the world, April showers. Rain, everywhere! Especially in England where the great Victorian era stems. England gets an annual rainfall of about 34 inches (885 cm). Heck, London is still known for its rain! In homage (or to commiserate) with those sloshing their way through the day, I bring you a unique shopping post of eight rain related items to handle the weather in 19th century weather. All pictures are linked unless otherwise noted. Some items may no longer be for sale at the time of viewing. Starting with the painting to the left here. Prints are available for purchase at various art sites, but Allposters.com remains my favorite resource of all time for the art used on 19th Century Modern. I am including a painting in the line up, because some people do not like the literally experience of rain, but appreciate its romanticism and evocative mystery. Or in my case, some folks simply do not live in a location where it rains very often, this would be the closest I could get to it about 10 months a year.

Let us start from the top, shall we. When one thinks of rain (or England, for that matter) many citizens picture an umbrella somewhere in the mix. This company, Francesco Maglia, has been making umbrellas since 1854 and was even the provider of the umbrella used in Colin Firth’s movie, The Kingsmen (fabulous movie, with this fantanstic quote: “The clothes make the man.”–The Prince Consort, Albert of Sax-Coberg-Gotha, would surely approve!)



Such simple inventions often spawn, similarly simple accommodating innovations. Hence, the umbrella holder. While, of course, one could use a simple bucket or lean it against the wall of a mudroom–it is no fun. The Victorians, naturally, made ornate creations for such a singular purpose. Below is an example of a highly crafted wrought iron umbrella stand.


Sometimes an umbrella is not enough and a mackintosh or rain coat is in order. Below is a Civilian Great Coat/Over Coat style during the American Civil War. Included on this list for its jaunty sewn in cape feature.


Gosh, it’s galoshes! Or Wellingtons/willies, depending on where you were raised. Rain boots were originally designed like spats; made to go over the shoe. While these are not originally 19th century rain boots, they are inspired by the 19th century riding boot silhouette. And gosh, they sure are pretty!


However, if one really wants to remain dry for the duration of an outing, the best way to go about it is a closed carriage. This handsome one is an American version and has sold, but the website is worth checking out, if anyone is interested in purchasing an authentic 19th carriage from Australia.


While not an accoutrement; gutters/spouts also deal with precipitation. While most folks have very utilitarian spouts on their homes, there is no need to be so plain. Take a cue from these 19th century beauties, which I believe are in Denmark. These spouts are not for sale, but it might be something to pin to your Pintrest board on Home Renovation!


If you are looking for something more cozy, that projects the feeling of rain sans wetness, there are always those beautiful misty photographs from the very early 1900s, that can take you away. This image is not linked; thus not available for purchase, but many similar ones exist.–Now, stay dry, Dear Readers.


Cottage Gardens


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It might not be known, but hopefully, assumed that I am what one would consider an “indoor girl.” I so loathe the sun. It is highly ironic I reside in the hottest, sunniest state in the nation. Do not mistake me, I do not hate the outdoors, just that gleaming fireball in the sky. My work-around is to only venture outside in the cool dark of the night.


My Charming Brother, whom I room with, is quite the opposite. He loves the sun! It is during his high noon meanderings when he first moved in, he concluded the layout of my home and yards did not please him. For weeks he started conversations such as “This wall needs to be knocked down, this one extended, the counter should go here . . .” and so on and so forth. After a month of this, he started drawing plans! Mainly for the backyard, as Arizona is predominantly a “Home Owners Association” state, so changes made to the exterior of the home and the front yard need to be approved by the Development’s Association. In short, Charming Brother basically wants to turn my yard into something of a showpiece. While in theory, I am all for a landscape design that merits the cover of a magazine; in practice . . . well, to be honest I did not really stepped foot in my backyard for the first three years I lived here. Besides, my finances are focused on paying off my mortgage and on accommodating Beaux. I was not willing to sink a lot of money into re-landscaping the yard. To top off my concern, we are not gardeners. The longest a potted plant survived in my care was ten months. Both of us, do not really know what we are doing. If we are to attempt it ourselves; which is precisely what he wants to do, we are in for an adventure. Oy vey!

Cottage20I assessed his plans with a practical and critical eye. I ceded we could at least try building a raised vegetable and herb garden with a picket fence gate. My Charming Brother is a Renaissance Man and has various and varied sources of income; one of which is an organic chef. I figured the garden will not only assist with his business, but also cut down the cost of produce to feed my face; if we can, in fact, successfully cultivate the flora. So we are tearing up my yard! It is glorious, painful, and therapeutic, while dually horrifying to my parents who are dismayed I am allowing him to drag me into one of his fanciful schemes. As my brother and I work (me in the hours before the sun rises and he, during mid-day), my brother constantly revamps his plan. The one shown is 2.0, because he has not actually sketched 3.0 yet. . . Oh dear. *crosses self* Let us hope we can accomplish this.

His plans look nothing like the 19th century landscape I envisioned through research. It was not idealized; no lakes, sweeps of gently rolling lawns set against groves of trees and recreations of classical temples, gothic ruins, bridges and other architecture for the idyllic pastoral setting. Grottoes, temples, tea houses, pavilions, follies, bridges and statues were meticulously planed and executed on the grounds to look effortless. Often piers were built into the ponds and lakes for romantic rowboat rides. Terraces overlooking park grounds became the norm. Natural shrubbery, graveled walks, tree plantations and for the first time in history sweeping skirts of planted flower beds. –Truly. As ridiculous as this sounds, country estates did not employ riots of planned flowerbeds until the Victorian era. Flower gardens were associated with small plots of land, such as a cottager’s yard. In the 1800s, landscape design moved from the ridged geometrical control of the French court to a more idealized version of ‘country.’ Winding paths, gently turning streams, and clusters of natural views and tableaus were the norm; ironically created and forced by Man to mimic the beauties of nature. The pervading thought of the day was “Nature as a restorative measure.” In fact, it was not until the 19th century, that the concept of the public park was created for mental health benefits of those living in urban areas.

And Then It’s Spring Pre-Reads!


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Image result for 19th century readingYes!  The new Pre-Reads are here! March gave me a large selection to sift through. There were three times the amount of Fiction books to select from. Difficult choices were made. The Non-Fiction also had an adequate amount to choose from. So just know these top sixteen are not the only 19th century related tomes coming out this month. They just happen to be some of the most highly reviewed of the lot within their subgenres. I am quite pleased with this month’s list. Must be the luck of the Irish?

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