19th century

Happy Thanksgiving! What’s on the Menu?

Puck Thanksgiving cover, 1896.

Puck Thanksgiving cover, 1896.

Happy Tuesday before Thanksgiving! We’re all pressed for time right now, so I’ll just share a brief montage of interesting historical menus as you plan yours…who knows? It may give you ideas.

Another cool thing about the following menus is who is hosting it. We have a hotel, a college, and…a hospital. I guess everyone wants turkey on Thanksgiving, although some of these menus make it seem like turkey is an afterthought. *wink*

 

 

Hotel Vendome Thanksgiving Menu, 1895. Image via wikimedia commons.

Hotel Vendome Thanksgiving Menu, 1895.

The one below is tough to read, my apologies. I can make out Mock Turtle Soup, and Salmon, but I have trouble after that. I’m sure turkey is in there somewhere.

1874 Vassar College Thanksgiving Menu. Image via wikimedia commons.

1874 Vassar College Thanksgiving Menu.

 

Thanksgiving menu, 1864. Jarvis U.S.A. General Hospital, Baltimore.

Thanksgiving menu, 1864. Jarvis U.S.A. General Hospital, Baltimore.

Hmm, looks yummy. And what variety! Who knew hospital food was holiday-worthy? But someone needed spell-check on “turkies.”

Most of us won’t be eating at a fancy hotel or at a college, and I sure hope we won’t be eating at a hospital! So, if you’re cooking at home, be safe. Firefighters see house fires triple on Thanksgiving Day, with some states in the Union more prone than others. For more info on that, check out my 2014 post:

When Turkeys Strike Back

However you spend your holiday, or even if it isn’t a holiday in your part of the world, I wish you much to be grateful for. I know that I’m grateful for all of you!

Until next time,

Kathy

P.S. – If you’re in the vicinity of Manassas, Virginia on Shop Small Saturday (Nov 26th), I’ll be doing a book signing and would love to see you!

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1890s Etiquette for Engaged Couples

1890s Etiquette for Engaged Couples

Today I’m over at Misterio Press, talking about what was considered proper conduct for engaged couples in the late-nineteenth century. Since Concordia Wells is an engaged lady in Beloved and Unseemly (book 5 of the series, and just released), it seemed a fitting topic!

1890s Courtship Etiquette

Hope you can join us!

~Kathy

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Day 6: The Twelve Days of Concordia

Day 6: The Twelve Days of Concordia

Welcome to Day 6 of the quote-a-day countdown giveaway, to celebrate the November 1st release of Beloved and Unseemly. To learn more about the lady professor’s adventures in book #5, along with details of the contest and prizes, click here:

The Twelve Days of Concordia Giveaway!

Here is today’s quote…uh-oh, looks like Concordia’s getting an earful!

day6-beloved-quote

Well,  I suppose she’s heard that sort of thing on occasion….

Thanks so much for participating! By the way, if you’re looking for recipes to stay cozy in the chill weather or to celebrate Halloween, you’ll enjoy today’s post from Misterio Press! Included are two cocktail recipes of mine, one with alcohol and one without. Hope to see you there!

Stick-to-Your Ribs Weather

~Kathy

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Day 5: The Twelve Days of Concordia

Day 5: The Twelve Days of Concordia

Welcome to Day 5 of the quote-a-day countdown giveaway, to celebrate the November 1st release of Beloved and Unseemly. To learn more about the lady professor’s adventures in book #5, along with details of the contest and prizes, click here:

The Twelve Days of Concordia Giveaway!

So here’s today’s quote, where you get a glimpse of Concordia’s…ahem, inquisitive nature:

day5-beloved-quote

Hope your Monday is going well, and thanks for being part of the countdown and giveaway!

~Kathy

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Day 4: The Twelve Days of Concordia

Day 4: The Twelve Days of Concordia

Welcome to Day 4 of the quote-a-day countdown giveaway, to celebrate the November 1st release of Beloved and Unseemly. To learn more about the lady professor’s adventures in book #5, along with details of the contest and prizes, click here:

The Twelve Days of Concordia Giveaway!

 

You mystery fans are going to like today’s quote:

 

day4-beloved-quote

…because it wouldn’t be a mystery without a body, am I right? *wink*

Thanks so much for sharing and responding! I’d say the quote-a-day giveaway is going well so far, and it’s all thanks to you guys!

~Kathy

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1890s Fashions for Women (and an announcement)

1890s Fashions for Women (and an announcement)
Francois Courboin, In the Cabinet des Estampes (Bibliothèque Nationale), 1897. Image via wikimedia commons.

Francois Courboin, In the Cabinet des Estampes (Bibliothèque Nationale), 1897. Image via wikimedia commons.

In writing about the world of Concordia Wells, I have to make sure the lady professor and her colleagues are always suitably attired in the style of the day.

I use a variety of sources for descriptions and sketches of what these ladies wore during the Progressive Era. Two of my favorite books for research are the Sears, Roebuck & Co. Catalog of 1897 and Victorian Fashions & Costumes from Harper’s Bazar, 1867-1898.

1897 Sears Roebuck & Co. Catalogue

Other sources include newspaper advertisements from a search of Chronicling America (a digital archive of 19th century U.S. newspapers from the Library of Congress), and etiquette books of the period, such as Manners and Social Usages by Mrs. John Sherwood, an 1898 self-help book (yes, they had those way back then!), which I quote from extensively in book #5 (more about book #5 in a moment).

I also have to keep reminding myself not to overlook YouTube, which has a surprising collection of old film footage and picture montages. Below is one I think you’ll enjoy. If you want to skim (it’s a bit long), there’s a wedding dress at 5:12 and a series of bicycling outfits similar to what Concordia wears at 10:06.

 

Announcement:

Book 5 of the Concordia Wells Mysteries is complete and we have a cover! Official release day is Tuesday, November 1st. For those of you who have read the series from the beginning, book 5 comes full circle in several ways that I’m hoping you’ll find satisfying. Here’s a portion of the cover and the blurb:

 

belovedandunseemlyheader

 

A stolen blueprint, a dead body, and wedding bells….

Change is in the air at Hartford Women’s College in the fall of 1898. Renowned inventor Peter Sanbourne—working on Project Blue Arrow for the Navy—heads the school’s new engineering program, and literature professor Concordia Wells prepares to leave to marry David Bradley.

The new routine soon goes awry when a bludgeoned body—clutching a torn scrap of the only blueprint for Blue Arrow—is discovered on the property Concordia and David were planning to call home.

To unravel the mystery that stands between them and their new life together, Concordia must navigate deadly pranks, dark secrets, and long-simmering grudges that threaten to tear apart her beloved school and leave behind an unseemly trail of bodies.

 

I’m so excited and can’t wait for you all to read it! I’ll post the full cover reveal in my newsletter and here on the site when the links go live. I know you guys have been so patient(!) waiting for this next Concordia installment, and I really appreciate your loyalty.

If you don’t want to wait for November 1st, you can be one of my advance readers! I’m offering ten free advance review copies (ARCs) of the ebook version of  Beloved and Unseemly.

I love ARCs. Not only does the reader get a freebie ahead of time, but releasing the book “in the wild” may generate early reviews. Reviews then help prospective readers decide if this book is their cup of tea.

Please note: readers receiving ARCs are under no obligation whatsoever to rate the book or post a review. This is per Amazon reviewer policy and I agree wholeheartedly. If something is free, it should not have strings attached. (But if you do decide to rate/review the book, Concordia and I thank you very much!)

So, if you’d like an ARC, send me an email at: contact(at)kbowenmysteries(dot)com. Let me know what format you want: mobi (Kindle) or epub (Nook or iPad/iPhone). I will send them out to the first ten readers who ask. Thank you!

Until next time,

Kathy

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1890s Perceptions of Electricity (shared post)

1890s Perceptions of Electricity (shared post)

One of the joys of researching historical mysteries is discovering new-to-me historical blogs. Icing on the cake is when the blogger generously shares her talents. A special thanks to the author of this piece, Tine Hreno, for permitting me to re-post this fascinating article on 1890s’ perceptions of electricity. I know you’ll enjoy it. As you’ll see from the full article, not only was electricity a source of light and power, it was an opportunity for entrepreneurs to make some quick money on electric “health” products, such as the rheumatism ring below.

Image via Sears Roebuck Catalog, 1897.

Image via Sears Roebuck Catalog, 1897.

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Popular Perceptions of Electricity in the 1890s

by Tine Hreno

If you lived in a major city, like London, electricity had become part of your everyday life by the 1890s. You might not have it in your home, but even if you did, you might not understand what it was.

Even electrical engineers, like Nikola Tesla, used words like “energy” to describe that which was generated by electricity and that which he felt after sleeping. It’s not clear that many people distinguished between the two. Tesla actually got the idea for tuning radio frequencies through his belief that he and his mother were tuned into the same frequency when she died. Still, Tesla understood more about electricity than most people do today, but the electrical revolution was spreading rapidly.

A town called Godalming, Surrey, built the first central station to provide electricity to the public in the fall of 1881. They did so because the disagreed with the rate the gas company was charging them. I understand the feeling from dealing with my internet provider. Godalming’s system was first used for their street lamps, but within the year more than 80% of its homes were connected. Overall, the town wasn’t happy with their new electrical system and reverted to gas (also a familiar feeling in dealing with new internet providers). However, by 1882, London had a large-scale power station at Holburn Viaduct.

Read the rest here (and check out the cool lithographs and product advertisements): Writers in London in the 1890s: Popular Perceptions of Electricity in the 1890s

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Thanks so much for stopping by!

Psst…by my next post, I should have some book news.

Until next time,

Kathy

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August 30, National Toasted Marshmallow Day

August 30, National Toasted Marshmallow Day
Image courtesy of Nina Hale, creative commons license.

Image courtesy of Nina Hale, creative commons license.

Okay, so it’s a made-up holiday (sponsored by the National Confectioners Association), but what’s not to love about celebrating that iconic summer treat, toasted marshmallows? The history of the marshmallow is pretty cool, too.

Althaea officinalis, illustrated by Leonhard Fuchs. Citation link: http://catalogue.wellcomelibrary.org/record=b1000513

Althaea officinalis, illustrated by Leonhard Fuchs. Citation link: http://catalogue.wellcomelibrary.org/record=b1000513

Marshmallows were originally made from the root of the Marshmallow herb, also known as Althaea officinalis. The Egyptians made candy/cakes from it, mixing the sap with honey and grains. One source says the Egyptians reserved such a treat for the gods and that everyone else was forbidden to eat it, but I have not been able to confirm that with other sources.

The sap of the Marshmallow root was long known to soothe sore throats, and the Greeks and Romans used it medicinally as both a liquid and lozenge. It was the French who finally turned it into a candy in the early 19th century, whipping it to an airy consistency. However, extracting the necessary sap from the Marshmallow plant was time-consuming. Only small, local sweet shops prepared it, mixing small batches by hand.

Our commercially-produced marshmallows bear little resemblance to these earlier confections. Once it was discovered (late 19th century) that gelatin and egg whites could substitute for the consistency provided by the Marshmallow root sap, the marshmallow no longer had Marshmallow in it.

Nonetheless, many people enjoy our modern-day marshmallows, and it’s nice to see that vegan and kosher varieties are now more widely available. An occasional fluffernutter sandwich, rice krispy square, MallowCup, or smores beside a campfire can be a fun treat, right?

Speaking of treats, here’s a recipe for our family’s favorite marshmallow dessert, cookie pizza. Enjoy!

Cookie Pizza

Ingredients:

  • Your favorite sugar cookie dough (we use Betty Crocker’s Sugar Cookie Mix, but you can use the already-prepared 18oz pkg of refrigerated dough)
  • 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups M&Ms
  • 2 cups mini-marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup peanuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 deg F, or per sugar cookie baking instructions.  Divide dough, and press into 2 ungreased pie pans.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden.  Cool.

 

2. In either a saucepan on the stove or in the microwave, melt chips and sweetened condensed milk until smooth and blended.  Spread over crusts.  Sprinkle with remaining ingredients.

Bake 4 minutes, or until marshmallows are lightly toasted.  Cool and cut into wedges.

 

Want to read more about marshmallows?

NATIONAL TOASTED MARSHMALLOW DAY – August 30 | National Day Calendar

Wikipedia: Marshmallow (includes a video link as to how marshmallow was made from the root)

The History of Marshmallows

Boyer Candies (makers of MalloCups)

 

Do you enjoy toasting marshmallows, or using them in a recipe? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Kathy

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