Tuesday, January 31

Love me (Vert) Tendre

used with permission of M.H.D. Designs
Ma chère amie Cécile is one lucky girl! Check out this gorgeous creation by seamstress artisté, Magalie Houle Dawson of M.H.D. Designs:

  • 1850's inspired Dress in a cotton linen blend jacquard and embroidered loose weave organza. The lined bodice has rows of small organza ruffles at the sleeves, peplum, princess line seam, and neck opening. It is decorated with free motion embroidered "greens" and beads on the sleeve tops and bodice. It is also decorated with an organza bow with a beaded center at the waist. Closes in back with a row of fancy buttons and loops.

  • The lined Skirt is made of eight alternating panels. Four have three rows of loose weave embroidered organza ruffles, and four with free motion embroidered greenery decorated with hundreds of seed beads. Closes in back with a button and loop.

  • The lined Bonnet is sewn with the same cotton linen blend jacquard and loose weave embroidered organza. It has rows of organza ruffles on the outside and is decorated with free motion embroidery and bead work. The inside has three rows of pleated jacquard ruffles. closes with a bow on the side. 

  • Matching Hair Ties


used with permission of M.H.D. Designs
However, what I am drooling over are the Unmentionables: 

  • The lined Corset is made with the same cotton linen blend jacquard and has some pleated ruffles at the center front top and along the hem. It is decorated with free motion embroidery and beaded all over. Closes in back with laces and loops.

  • The Under Dress is made to represent the Chemise and the Petticoat. Sewn in embroidered cotton and decorated with yards of Venice Lace. Closes in back with a row of Mother Of Pearl buttons and loops.

  • The Pantaloons are in embroidered cotton. They have five growth tucks and are decorated with Venice Lace at the ruffled cuffs. 

 I wonder how much Unmentionables cost?

 Black, of course.

Monday, January 30

Butterflies are free

Geraldine Farrar in one of her 95 appearances as Madama Butterfly.

Momma went to the opera this weekend (without Me!) to see and hear Li Shu-Ying as Madama Butterfly. Sung in Italian with English surtitles, Li brought joy, heartbreak and passion to one of opera’s most iconic parts.

Madama Butterfly is an opera in two or three acts by Giacomo Puccini. Puccini based his opera in part on the 1898 short story Madame Butterfly by John Luther Long, and the 1887 semi-autobiographical novel Madame Chrysanthème by Pierre Loti.

In the opera, a 15-year-old geisha falls in love with
American sailor B.F. Pinkerton. Three years later, Butterfly faithfully awaits his return, holding onto her dreams and their child she named Sorrow. When he (finally!) arrives, Butterfly discovers he has married someone else. Her heart shattered, she must find a way to restore her honor.

The opera premiered on Feb. 17, 1904
in Milan, Italy. The first U.S. performance was presented in English on Oct. 15, 1906, in Washington, D.C. at the Columbia Theater.

Momma did hasten to tell me that the Arizona Opera's gift shop was selling steampunk necklaces of nuts, wing-nuts and other hardware strung on cord for $50-70! She told me to "get crackin'" to support my "champagne taste" in clothes.

I don't have the slightest idea what she means.

Sunday, January 29

This Week in The Civil War: Sunday, Jan. 29, 1862

Lincoln's Special War Order No. 1

On Jan. 30, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issues Special War Order No. 1 seeking to prod federal forces into waging all-out war against secession-minded states. Impatient for an all-out offensive, Lincoln's order is essentially directed at the Army of the Potomac and its commander, Gen. George McClellan, whose forces are ordered to open offensive operations by Feb. 22, 1862, with the immediate object of "seizing and occupying a point upon the railroad" in nearby Virginia. The order, which backs up General War Order No. 1 issued months earlier, underscores the president's growing insistence that federal forces begin a general advance on the Confederacy. The president's order also underscores growing political pressure on Lincoln for a large-scale offensive. Nevertheless, a reluctant McClellan, who has capably organized his army into a fighting force, seeks more time to further equip and organize troops as he completes his own meticulous plan — for a major thrust from the Virginia coast on Richmond, capital of the Confederacy. McClellan's so-called Peninsula campaign, which ultimately will go down as a failure, is still many weeks off. As January closes, Lincoln's new war secretary, Edwin Stanton, is busy reorganizing the federal War Department. The San Francisco Bulletin reports Stanton "is determined to clear the War Office of all rubbish," has assigned two new assistant secretaries and taken on "much needed reforms." Elsewhere, The Charleston Courier of South Carolina reports the Confederate steamer Calhoun, en route to Havana with cargo, has been chased by a federal cruiser and had to be burned and scuttled — another sign of a tightened federal blockade of Southern seaports.

Saturday, January 28

122 years at Hull House

Jane Addams sits with immigrant children at Hull House.

Ohh, how I wish I could cry.

After more than a century of providing services for immigrants and the poor, the Jane Addams Hull House Association has closed.

Hull House was a settlement house that was co-founded in 1889 by Jane Addams (who later became the first American woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize) and Ellen Gates Starr. Located in Chicago, Ill., Hull House opened its doors to immigrants and offered innovative social, educational, and artistic programs.

The original building and one additional building survive today. The Hull House building was designated
a U.S. National Historic Landmark on June 23, 1965.

Hull House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on Oct. 15, 1966 -- the same day that the National Historic Preservation Act was enacted.

While the museum with the original buildings is scheduled to remain open, the association providing social services for 122 years closed on Friday, Jan. 27, 2012.

That should be enough to make anyone cry.


Friday, January 27

Let them eat cake


Happy National Chocolate Cake Day!

My favorite mention of cake appears in Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace. Betsy and Tacy became famous for their picnics, and it all started when they were 5 and eating supper on a bench at the end of their street. I don't know if it was chocolate cake, but I like to think it was!

Betsy always liked what she saw on Tacy's plate. In particular she liked the fresh unfrosted cake which Tacy's mother often stirred up for supper for her big family. Tacy knew Betsy liked that cake, and she always divided her piece. And if baked beans or corn bread or something that Tacy liked lay on Betsy's plate, Betsy divided that too.

My next favorite chocolate cake mention is in the same series, but the last book: Betsy's Wedding:

Tacy had left a chocolate cake, with fudge frosting half an inch thick, and it proved a boon.

Do you have any favorite literary chocolate cakes?


Nothing up my sleeve

What actually hides under Edwardian sleeves.
My dear Miss Sparrow and I (being the Perfectly Awful Girls that we are) were discussing a recent news article about literary tattoos.

That lead us to talking about the tattoos adorning her illustrious (illustrated?) ancestor's back.

I, of course, had my tummy signed by Evil Wil Wheaton - which is pretty darned permanent in my case.

But she and I started discussing literary tattoos and what we would get IF we were to get one.

Personally, I would probably get something from the Betsy-Tacy or Little House books. Or Spock's, "Live Long and Prosper." Or maybe my flag.

Or maybe, "My ♥ belongs to Momma."

Miss Sparrow declined to say because she was afraid I'd publish it here (true), but I think she secretly wants an "I Joe Willard" somewhere.

Any suggestions?


Thursday, January 26

Undying glory


 Mine eyes have seen the Glory...

Have you seen the 1989 moving picture Glory? It tells the (fictionalized) story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (MVI). 

On Jan. 26, 1863 Massachusetts Governor John Albion Andrew received permission from Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton to form the 54th MVI, composed of blacks from Massachusetts, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, and others. 

After a slow start he got so many volunteers that they quickly formed the 55th MVI, too.

The regiment was one of the first official black units in the United States during the Civil War. Although many
had fought in the American Revolution and the War of 1812, the 1st South Carolina Volunteers of recruited freed slaves was the first Union Army regiment organized with African American soldiers in the Civil War.

The 54th MVI gained recognition on July 18, 1863, when it spearheaded an assault on Fort Wagner near Charleston, S.C. Colonel Robert Gould Shaw was killed there, along with 29 of his men (another 24 died later of their wounds), 15 were captured, 52 went missing in action, and 149 were wounded. The total regimental casualties of 272 would be the highest total for the 54th in a single engagement during the Civil War. 



Wednesday, January 25

Dancing queen


Being a time traveler, I love this trend of sampling old songs and giving them a modern spin.

Some of my favorites (so far) include:
  • Keep Young and Beautiful by Annie Lennox 
  • Blue (Da Ba Dee) by Eiffel 65
  • Why Don't You by Grammaphonedzie
  • Anything by Max Raabe and Palast Orchester
  • Booty Swing by Parov Stelar
  • Seaside Rendezvous by Queen
  • Puttin' on the Ritz by Taco
  • Istanbul by They Might be Giants

And, yes, Momma and I have a Steampunk Playlist on her mine our iPhone that includes these tunes.

Do you have any "old" favorites that I'm missing?

Tuesday, January 24

Happy National Peanut Butter Day!

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore might have discovered the 12 uses of dragon blood, but George Washington Carver discovered more than 300 new uses for peanut products.

But not peanut butter.

Happy National Peanut Butter Day!

Happy endings only happen in the movies

Momma has (understandably) spurned the Oscars since The Color Purple was snubbed in 1985, but I was delighted to see Martin Scorsese's Hugo received 11 nominations today.
Twelve-year-old Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric girl and the owner of a small toy booth in the train station, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy.

Based upon the book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick who said himself, "... this is not exactly a novel, and it's not quite a picture book, and it's not really a graphic novel, or a flip book, or a movie, but a combination of all these things."

Clocks, gears and a really cool automan. What more could a steampunk girl ask for? We shall see what the Academy thinks.


Black and white

I've been thinking about black and white a lot this weekend for many different reasons:

  1. Because I was using my new black and white cups while wearing my snazzy new outfit with the striped petticoat/underskirt.

  2. My Big Sister has become addicted to the musical Hairspray and listens to the catchy soundtrack whenever possible.

  3. Momma and I were looking at the very moving photos of Richard and Mildred Loving last week.
The Lovings were an interracial couple who married in 1958 in Washington, D.C., and were criminally charged under a Virginia statute banning such marriages when they returned home. The Lovings filed suit with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union seeking to overturn the law. The Supreme Court ruled in their favor in 1967, striking down all state anti-miscegenation laws as unconstitutional violations of the 14th Amendment.

He was killed (and she lost an eye) in 1975 by a drunk driver.

On June 12, 2007, Mildred Loving issued a statement on the 40th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision.

Her statement concluded:

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.

Mildred Loving died of pneumonia in 2008 in Virginia.


Monday, January 23

The dragon lady

Momma loves Chinese New Year - especially when it's The Year of the Dragon.

Yu Chia Hui
She got to spend part of a Chinese New Year in Honolulu's Chinatown in 1997. (And while not on Chinese New Year, she was in Taipei, Taiwan on Dec. 31, 1988 which she says was amazing.)

Chinese New Year is the longest and most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. In China it is known as "Spring Festival" or the "Lunar New Year" because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar.

Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations.

Sadly, Chinese New Year is not an official holiday in the United States -- although the U.S. Postal Service does issue New Year's themed stamps.

Did you know that saying "Happy New Year" is considered rude since it is so short? The best greetings consist of four characters such as:
  • Jinyu mangtang: May your wealth come to fill a hall.
  • Dazhan hongtu: May you realize your ambitions.
  • Yingchun jiefu: Greet the New Year and encounter happiness.
  • Wanshi ruyi: May all your wishes be fulfilled.
  • Jiqing youyu: May your happiness be without limit.
  • Zhubao pingan: May you hear that all is well.
  • Yiban wanli: May a small investment bring ten-thousandfold profits.
  • Fushou shuangquan: May your happiness and longevity be complete.
  • Zhaocai jinbao: When wealth is acquired, precious objects follow.


    Sunday, January 22

    This Week in The Civil War: Sunday, Jan. 22, 1862

    Confederate Beauregard Moved. Hatteras Storm.

    Confederate Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard, who forced the Union surrender at Fort Sumter in 1861 that started the war, is reassigned this week and sent west to Tennessee. The general who also helped lead the Confederacy to victory at the First Battle of Manassas, or Bull Run, was one of the Confederacy's first war heroes. But he had begun to quarrel with Confederate President Jefferson Davis and others and was sent west partly because of that. He would now be the second in command under Albert Sidney Johnston in the Confederacy's Army of the Mississippi. Beauregard and Johnston sought to better fortify Confederate defenses along the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers vulnerable to Union attack. But Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant would eventually take key forts along those rivers in the coming year, isolating the Confederacy from the West. Grant's early triumph at the Battle of Fort Henry on the Tennessee River in February 1862 would mark the first significant victory both for the Union and for Grant, who would later rise to the top military command and ultimately win the war. Elsewhere, Union Navy warships off Hatteras Inlet, N.C., weathered a severe storm this week in 1862. The Associated Press reports some boats in the fleet of more than 100 ships and vessels were swamped and three lives were lost as Union forces wait for better weather to attack Confederate outposts nearby. "Heavy wind and a rough sea caused our vessels to labor very heavily, and some were obliged to cut loose from the vessels they were towing," the AP dispatch quoted a Union source as stating, adding two Confederate vessels eyeing the fleet were chased off.

    Saturday, January 21

    Courage has no color

    What do I plan to do this weekend? Go see the long overdue new moving picture, Red Tails, of course.

    The Tuskegee Airmen is the popular name of a group of African American pilots who fought in World War II. (The nickname "Red Tails" was coined when the pilots painted the tails of their P-47s red.)

    The story follows the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American pilots to fly in a combat squadron during World War II. As the war in Europe continues to take its toll on Allied forces, the Pentagon brass has no recourse but to consider unorthodox options including the untried and untested African-American pilots of the experimental Tuskegee training program. Just as the young Tuskegee men are on the brink of being shut down and shipped back home, these intrepid young airmen take to the skies to fight for their country and the fate of the free world.


    Friday, January 20

    Brave

    I was so excited to hear this weekend that Pixar was releasing a moving picture about Me called Brave.

    Then I read the synopsis.
    Since ancient times, stories of epic battles and mystical legends have been passed through the generations across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland. In Brave, a new tale joins the lore when the courageous Merida confronts tradition, destiny and the fiercest of beasts. Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin, surly Lord MacIntosh and cantankerous Lord Dingwall. Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Wise Woman for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late.

    It's not about Me at all! However, Merida is the first female protagonist in a Pixar film. I guess that'll do.

    Thursday, January 19

    Nevermore?

    I forgot!

    For decades, until 2010, someone appeared at Edgar Allan Poe's grave site in Baltimore before dawn on Jan. 19 — his birthday.

    Paying my respects at the original gravesite.
    The mysterious visitor, who was never identified, would leave behind three roses and a half-filled bottle of cognac as a tribute to the man who wrote The Raven, The Fall of the House of Usher and other classic poems and tales.

    Last night, there was no visit.

    So, as the Baltimore Sun tells us, early today:

    "A tired Jeff Jerome, curator of the city's Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, 'officially' pronounced the Poe-toasting tradition over. Having spent the night inside Westminster Hall [on the burial grounds], awaiting the toaster's arrival, Jerome declared that the furtive stranger's poignant tribute would be left nevermore."

    What happened to the toaster? Who was it? That all sounds like a good mystery to explore.


    Story courtesy of National Public Radio.

    Off with their fascinators!

    I guess I shan't be going to the Royal Ascot racecourt anymore (not that I ever did) or, at least, not in the Royal Enclosure. 

    Poe's photo courtesy of seejoansew.
    Ladies and gentlemen are now required to wear hats of a certain type and size in the Royal Enclosure:

    "'Hats should be worn; a headpiece which has a base of 4 inches (10cm) or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat.' This clarifies that fascinators are no longer permitted in the Royal Enclosure."

    I don't think any of my hats are four or more inches in diameter!

    Thankfully, the people in the Grandstand are not under such fashion constraints:
    "'A hat, headpiece or fascinator should be worn at all times.' This replaces advice that many ladies wear hats but this is not compulsory."

    While I don't see myself as common, maybe I could sit there.

    As for the men:
    "'Gentlemen are kindly reminded that it is a requirement to wear either black or grey morning dress which must include a waistcoat and tie (no cravats), a black or grey top hat and black shoes.' This clarifies that cravats are not acceptable and that black shoes should be worn with morning dress."

    Hmm, I don't see any size specified for the male top hats and I do have a black top hat. This scrumptious outfit by Joan Dickhaut could work with a few modifications....


    Wednesday, January 18

    Stop Online Piracy Act

    Let's hear it for piracy!

    T' Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as House Bill 3261 or H.R. 3261, be a bill that was introduced in t' United States House o' Representatives on Oct. 26, 2011, by House Judiciary Committee Chair Representative Lamar S. Smith (R-TX) and a bipartisan group o' 12 initial co-sponsors. T' bill, if made law, would expand t' ability o' U.S. law enforcement and copystarboard holders t' fight online traffickin' in copystarboarded intellectual booty and counterfeit booty. Presented t' t' House Judiciary Committee, it builds on t' similar PRO-IP Act o' 2008 and t' correspondin' Senate bill, t' PROTECT IP Act.

    Proponents o' t' bill say it protects t' intellectual booty market and correspondin' industry, jobs and revenue, and be necessary t' bolster enforcement o' copystarboard laws, especially against foreign websites. They cite examples such as Google's $500 million settlement with the Department of Justice for its role in a scheme to target U.S. consumers with ads to illegally import prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies.

    Opponents say that it violates t' First Amendment, be Internet censorship, will cripple t' Internet, and will threaten whistle-blowin' and other free speech actions. Opponents have initiated a number of protest actions, including petition drives, boycotts of companies that support the legislation, and planned service blackouts by English Wikipedia and major Internet companies scheduled to coincide with the next Congressional hearing on the matter.

    I'm guessin' that you don't want t' see me, Steampunk Addie, crippled by whistle-blowin' and other free speech actions.


    Argh! 


    Tuesday, January 17

    Squee, squee, squee all the way home

    This little Addie went to market,
    This little Addie stayed home.

    This little Addie had a sweet tooth,
    This little Addie had none.

    And THIS little Addie went squee, squee, squee all the way home!

    (At least Momma did when she saw my newest outfit had been delivered.)

    Seeing red

    Don't ask me why, but I got to thinking about redshirts today.

    As all Star Trek fans know, a "redshirt" is a character who dies shortly after being introduced. The term originates from the red shirts worn by Starfleet security officers who frequently die during episodes.

    In many episodes of Star Trek, red-uniformed security officers and engineers accompanying the main characters on landing parties quickly die. In the Star Trek novel Killing Time, a crew member says, "you don't want to wear a red shirt on landing-party duty."

    Well, I don't have a red shirt but I do have my red corset unmentionable. I'd like to see anyone try to kill me.

    My aether pistol might be set on stun but I never miss.

    Monday, January 16

    King for a day

    The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Ga., where he was raised. (I was surprised to discover that King sang with his church choir at the 1939 Atlanta premiere of the movie Gone with the Wind.)

    King is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using the nonviolent methods of Mahatma Gandhi. King has become a national icon in the history of modern American liberalism.

    King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.


    Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a U.S. federal holiday in 1986 which is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around the time of King's birthday, Jan. 15.

    The campaign for a federal holiday in King's honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed on Jan. 20, 1986. At first, some states (including Arizona) resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays.

    It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.

    Almighty God, by the hand of Moses your servant you led your people out of slavery, and made them free at last: Grant that your Church, following the example of your prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of your love, and may secure for all your children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

    Sunday, January 15

    This Week in the Civil War: Sunday, Jan. 15, 1862

    USS Hatteras Pounds Cedar Key, Fla.

    The Union Navy, intent on further tightening the blockade on the South and seizing Confederate outposts all along its coast, dispatches the USS Hatteras to Cedar Key, Fla., this week 150 years ago in the Civil War. The warship destroys seven small ships suspected of blockade running that are loaded with cotton and other goods at this key supply point along Florida's Gulf coast. Dispatches of the era report heavy firing is heard for miles all around as the raid opens. Troops go ashore and destroy the railroad depot, which is at the western terminus of the Florida Railroad. They also damage the telegraph office and other buildings. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports afterward that Union forces rejoiced in the latest U.S. Naval victory. "It is gratifying to learn through a rebel source that we have captured Cedar Keys," the newspaper says in an extensive report on the ramifications. The newspaper account notes the Gulf Coast produces excellent cedar and other hardwoods for shipbuilding and that the raid has shut off a key supply source for Confederate shipbuilders. It notes Union Navy forces that also went to Key West and earlier seized Fort Pickens on the Florida Gulf Coast have had a string of startling successes in blocking Confederate supply routes to Florida through the Gulf of Mexico. With those areas under Union control, the paper boasts, "there is not much left of the state of Florida worth having." The USS Hatteras would go on to sink several suspected blockade runners in the Gulf before being sunk itself by a Confederate attack off the Texas coast later in the war.

    Saturday, January 14

    The Wild Wild West

    I am so excited about my newest five-piece outfit by Vintique Designs on Etsy. For some reason it reminds me of the old TV show, The Wild Wild West.

    The Wild Wild West told the story of two Secret Service agents:
    the charming gunslinger James T. West (played by Robert Conrad), and the brilliant gadgeteer and master of disguise Artemus Gordon (played by Ross Martin). Their mission was to protect President Ulysses S. Grant and the United States from all manner of dangerous threats. The agents traveled in luxury aboard their own train, the Wanderer, equipped with everything from a stable car to a laboratory.

    The show incorporated classic Western elements with an espionage thriller, science fiction/alternate history ideas (in a similar vein to steampunk), horror (once) and lots of comedy. There were always beautiful women (moi), clever gadgets, and delusional arch-enemies with half-insane plots to take over the country or the world.

    Dr. Loveless' steam-powered wheelchair.
    Wild Wild West was a 1999 American steampunk action-comedy film starring Will Smith as West, Kevin Kline (who appears as both Gordon and Grant), Kenneth Branagh and Salma Hayek.

    Similar to the original TV series, the film featured a large amount of highly advanced
    gadgetry, implausible steampunk technology and bizarre mechanical inventions, including innumerable inventions such as nitroglycerine-powered penny-farthing bicycles, spring-loaded notebooks, bulletproof chainmail, flying machines, steam tanks, and evil Dr. Loveless' giant mechanical spider.

    While the film was popular at the box office, it did not live up to its creators' blockbuster expectations.

    I bet this outfit will live up to my expectations.

    Stay tuned for further developments....


    Friday, January 13

    Steaming up the kitchen

    Winner: http://www.thecakemamas.com
    Momma and I got to see an exciting episode of the Food Network's Cupcake Wars this week where four cupcake bakers battled for a place at the Los Angeles opening of the hit Broadway musical "Wicked."

    I, of course, loved this episode with its use of green, absinthe, and even some gears! 

    So that started me on a search for steampunk-related food items and I found two winners.

    First of all, these Copper Steampunk Cookie Cutters from Frenzy Universe.They're so cute it makes me wish they were either in my scale or I was large enough to eat the cookies made from these.

    (Hmm, I wonder if Momma could make me a cake from them?)

    Secondly, these gear-shaped organic chocolates from Andie 's Specialty Sweets on Etsy.

    Gosh. These goodies make me wish I could open my vinyl mouth and eat. 

    I guess I'll have to remain satisfied with Pippaloo's award-winning creations for dolls.

    For now....

    Thursday, January 12

    The HO-Scale Theory

    I was delighted to see Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory shares my newly discovered enthusiasm for trains, so I had to investigate his recent purchase of a Bachmann Rail King.

    You'll rule the rails with the impressive Bachmann Rail King Electric Train Set. This 130-piece, HO-scale set takes your railroading empire to new heights, with miniature people and structures bringing the entire scene to life. Featuring Bachmann's exclusive E-Z Track snap-fit track and roadbed system, this set includes an EMD GP40 Sante Fe locomotive, three cars, and caboose, and it rides on a 47" x 38" oval track (13 pieces) with an included speed controller and power adapter. To complete the scene, the set also includes a signal bridge, 36 figures, 24 utility poles, and 48 signs. Engine dimensions: 7"L x 1.75"W x 2"H.

    I'd heard of Lionel model trains before but not Bachmann, so I dug a little deeper: 

    Originally founded in 1833 by Henry Carlisle, the company originally specialized in vanity products such as parasol handles and Spanish combs made of ivory horns. Its target market was the Southern aristocracy and after the Civil War it continued to make other types of hair ornaments and handles for walking canes out of tortoise shell and ivory.

    Carlisle's and Bachmann's firms merged in
    1899. By 1902 Bachmann's started to use celluloid for its products and began experimenting in plastic around 1912. Bachmann entered the trains market with its N scale trains products in June 1968.

    Bachmann's is now the largest seller of model trains in the world specializing in inexpensive, high-quality, entry-level train sets. By 1992 all cars were manufactured in China.

     

    Wednesday, January 11

    Loco for the Grand Canyon

    The first passenger train from Williams to the Grand Canyon on Sept. 17, 1901.

    It seems surprising now, but it took more than 30 years for the Grand Canyon to become a national park. The first bills to create Grand Canyon National Park were introduced in 1882, 1883 and 1886 by then-senator Benjamin Harrison. As President, Harrison established the Grand Canyon Forest Reserve in 1893.

    President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Grand Canyon rim in 1903 and exclaimed:
    "The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison—beyond description; absolutely unparalleled throughout the wide world. ... Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see."
    Roosevelt created the Grand Canyon Game Preserve in 1906 and Grand Canyon National Monument on Jan. 11, 1908. Senate bills to establish a national park were introduced and defeated (again) in 1910 and 1911. The Grand Canyon National Park Act was finally signed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919. 

    Part of what protected it for so long was its remoteness. A railroad to Flagstaff was completed in 1882 and stage coaches started to take tourists from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon in 1883—a 70-mile, 11-hour journey at $20 per person.

    The first train with paying passengers (the 64-mile trip cost $3.95) arrived on Sept. 17, 1901 from Williams.

    Trains ran from Williams to the Grand Canyon until 1968. They returned 88 years after its maiden run to the day on Sept. 17, 1989.

    For years the Grand Canyon Railway operated steam engines from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but they discontinued regular runs in 2008 because of environmental considerations. Operating a diesel fleet saves a lot of fuel and reduces greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants associated with steam locomotives.

    However, the Grand Canyon Railway commemorates its anniversary every September with a special round-trip run to the Grand Canyon using steam locomotive No. 4960 fueled by recycled vegetable oil! The steam locomotive also makes special trips throughout the year.

    In honor of Arizona's centennial on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012, Grand Canyon Railway is offering round-trip coach class tickets for $7.50 per person - the same cost as in 1912! The Arizona Centennial Train will depart the Williams Depot at 9:30 a.m. for the Grand Canyon pulled by vintage steam locomotive 4960 with coach seating. 

    You can be a part of this historic event by calling 1-800-THE-TRAIN or clicking here to order online.

    Shall I see you there? All aboard!


     

    Tuesday, January 10

    Metropolis Ga Ga

    If you have never seen a silent film, I beg you to start with Fritz Lang's Metropolis which was released Jan. 10, 1927 in Germany.

    In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences. 

    Considered by some to be an early precursor of steampunk, it is visually stunning - especially for the times. (While theoretically set in "the future" you can see 1920s cars in it - oops.)

    The sci-fi epic ran an estimated 153 minutes
    when it was first screened in Berlin but by the time it debuted in the United States later that year the film ran approximately 90 minutes. (Exact running times are difficult to determine because silent films were not always projected at a standardized speed).

    Metropolis went on to become one of the cornerstones of science fiction cinema foreshadowing Blade Runner and The Matrix.

    Most of what was cut was thought to be permanently lost or destroyed although small segments were found over the years. However, a copy was discovered in 2008 in Argentina that included 25 minutes of "lost" footage, about a fifth of the film, that had not been seen since its Berlin debut. That 145-minute restored version is now available on DVD.


    Monday, January 9

    My cup of tea

    Look at what Momma got for Me from American Girl® on clearance!

    She first saw this set of four cups and saucers several years when she, my Big Sister and Grandmomma had lunch at the Los Angeles American Girl Cafe. She tried to get me a set last year when we went but all they had was pink - blech!

    So she was ecstatic to spot these for me at a bargain price.

    Sunday, January 8

    This Week in The Civil War: Sunday, Jan. 8, 1862

    Lincoln's war secretary resigns

    President Abraham Lincoln's outspoken war secretary, Simon Cameron, a canny old-time political boss from Pennsylvania, resigns the all-important Cabinet post on Jan. 14, 1862. Known for bold and even aggressive views on war measures, Cameron had drawn the ire of others in the Cabinet and departs amid angry complaints about his guidance of the federal War Department. Three days after being eased out by the Lincoln administration, Cameron will be appointed to a diplomatic post in distant Russia. In Cameron's place, Lincoln appoints Edwin Stanton, a capable administrator, as his new war secretary. The Cleveland Plain Dealer of Ohio hails Stanton's appointment as "The Right Man in the Right Place." It adds the appointment has given "great pleasure" to many in Washington. "They have confidence in his energy and pluck, and believe he will push on the war," the newspaper reports. Also this week, A Union expedition is clearing gale-force storms off Hatteras Inlet, intent on clearing Confederate forces from Roanoke Island close to North Carolina's Outer Banks — part of a Navy strategy to take command of the sounds and inland waterways behind the islands that blockade runners have been using to supply the Confederate forces based in Richmond, Va. This week in 1862 also sees a reported attempt to blow up a Union military hospital just across the Potomac River from Washington in Alexandria, Va. The Associated Press, in a Jan. 9, 1861, dispatch, reports "a barrel had been secreted in the cellar filled with powder and projectiles and a fuse was found extending from there to the stable .. But this fact was fortunatley discovered by the guard" and a slow-burning fuse was put out before the explosives could detonate.


    Saturday, January 7

    Mad as a hatter

    As you might have noticed, if there's anything I love as much as my boots, it's my hats. 

    Momma does her best, but thankfully she has found a wonderful milliner who has created some wonderful chapeaus for both me and my BTT friends.

    So far I have a black taffeta, brown silk and gold silk top hats. I am Eagerly Awaiting the arrival of this black velvet confection with silver spiderwebs and a spider.

    (Doesn't she look deliciously Ghastly in this?) 

    So if your doll is looking for a special hat, I highly recommend Peggy Feltrope at Feltrope Studios. I have even bestowed upon her my honorary Approval Gear.

    Now if I can just get her to make me one of these brass hats....

    Disclaimer: No beavers were harmed in the making of these hats.

    Friday, January 6

    I've had an Epiphany

    Epiphany is a Christian feast day on January 6 that celebrates the visitation of the Magi to the baby Jesus. In some cultures, the greenery and nativity scenes put up at Christmas are taken down at Epiphany.

    In countries historically shaped by Roman Catholicism or Protestants these customs often involve gift giving, "king cakes" and a celebration similar to Christmas.

    In England, Twelfth Night is a popular day for plays - Shakespeare's Twelfth Night was first performed in 1601. A traditional dish for Epiphany is Twelfth Cake, a rich, dense, typically English fruitcake.

    If you're in Manitou Springs, Colo., Epiphany is marked by the Great Fruitcake Toss! Fruitcakes are thrown, participants dress as kings, fools, etc., and competitions are held for the farthest throw, the most creative projectile device, etc. The Great Fruitcake Toss is a sort of festive symbolic leave-taking of the Christmas holidays until next year, but with humorous twist, since fruitcake is considered to be the source of many jokes in the United States.

    But there will be no Fruitcake Tossing around me! We revere the venerable fruitcake. 


    Thursday, January 5

    On the twelfth day of Christmas

    On the twelfth day of Christmas
    My true love gave to me
    Twelve drummers drumming
    Eleven pipers piping, ten lords-a-leaping
    Nine ladies dancing, eight maids-a-milking
    Seven swans-a-swimming, six geese-a-laying
    Five golden rings, four calling birds
    Three French hens, two turtle doves
    And a partridge in a pear tree

    While neither Momma nor I are particularly interested in social Greek organizations, I do feel obligated to offer my congratulations to Kappa Alpha Psi, the world's second oldest and largest black fraternity, which was founded at Indiana University on this date on Jan. 5, 1911. Since the fraternity's founding it has never limited membership based on color, creed or national origin.  

    Personally, Momma and I tend to echo our heroine Betsy's thoughts after both she and her sister are soured on the idea during Betsy's junior year of high school:

    That, thought Betsy, was the bunk. You couldn't make sisterhoods with rules and elections. If they meant anything, they had to grow naturally.... "I don't believe sororities would appeal very long to anyone with much sense of adventure."
    Betsy was a Junior
    Maud Hart Lovelace

    I'm ALL for adventure!