October 29, 2018

Tasha Tudor 103rd Birthday Celebration!

A Celebration of Kindred Spirit Interests Throughout the Year!
Jenny Wren Lindenwood holding handspun skeins of wool yarn dyed with cochineal, goldenrod, and madder root.

Changing oak leaves resemble the colours of the naturally dyed wool skeins!

August 28th, 2018 would have been Tasha Tudor's 103rd birthday.

My daughter Sarah and I were so blessed to have Tasha for a friend.

Tasha Tudor's Birthday Celebration is more than just a one day celebration. It is, to us, every day kindred old  fashioned tasks and the seasonal celebrations all throughout the year.

Tasha Tudor delighted, as we do, in refined, simple elegance, in a country way, and the combining of the every day  old fashioned tasks as our ancestors did, with artistic skill that could be seen by the beauty in their  accomplished results... such as baskets, clothing, gardens, pottery, textiles, furniture, food preparation, architecture, and even their tools.

My daughter Sarah was the model for Tasha Tudor's illustrations of the little girl Kathy in "The Real Pretend".

We had many kindred interests in common with Tasha such as spinning, weaving, knitting, natural dyeing, dolls,  corgyn, goats, birds, gardening (flowers, herbs, and vegetables), old fashioned clothing, boots and frocks,  fireplace and woodstove cookery, canning, sewing, quilting, old books, and the old ways of living.

These daily things remind us of Tasha.

How grateful we are to have been her friend and kindred spirit!

A Lovely Autumnal Country Road
in Vermont where once my ancestors lived!
It is not far from where Tasha Tudor lived.

Jenny Wren Lindenwood


Across the meadow, hills and vales... 'tis breathtaking!

A cozy afternoon tea in the library. Delicious homemade gingerbread baked in the Dutch oven over the fire is served with a dollop of fresh homemade whipped cream. Wonderful things come from the cottage hearth! The flowers in the vase are some of summer's last including echinacea, delphinium , wild asters, and goldenrod. The library is a warm, inviting place to do some autumnal reading. The book atop the pile is "Our Early Wild Flowers", giving pause to ponder the flowers to come again in spring.The wide hand planed boards on the wall in the library are beautiful.

Sarah looking for the best pumpkin in the patch.
Tasha Tudor was delighted by this photograph that I took of my daughter Sarah!

A stunning view of rolling hills, meadows and cornfield in Corgyncombe Country!

Sylvie Ann and Ethlyn Corgi from Corgyncombe celebrated the 70th anniversary of "Pumpkin Moonshine" in 2008. 2018 marked the 80th anniversary. Tasha Tudor's first published book was "Pumpkin Moonshine" in 1938. In Tasha's book, Sylvie Ann went out to the cornfield to find the largest, best pumpkin. In "Pumpkin Moonshine", Sylvie succeeds in getting her pumpkin out of the cornfield but the pumpkin has multiple mishaps as it rolls uncontrollably down the hill!

My photograph of Sarah that was used by Tasha Tudor to illustrate the cover of "The Real Pretend".

My daughter  Sarah of Corgyncombe was Tasha Tudor's model for the illustrations of the little girl Kathy in "The Real Pretend".
In "The Real Pretend", several of Tasha Tudor's illustrations are bordered with colorful autumn leaves.

Tasha Tudor wrote to us:
"Both of you are daily in my thoughts as I work on "The Real Pretend", which is coming nicely. The long table is strewn with beguiling photographs of Sarah. How pleased I am to have her for a model."

Jenny Wren Lindenwood loves to sew for the little dolls at Corgyncombe!

Tasha Tudor's lovely Corgi Cottage.

These are my own personal photographs of Tasha Tudor and her cottage.

On the art stand, "Queen Victoria's Dolls" by Frances H. Low and illustrated by Alan Wright. When she was a girl, Queen Victoria collected small peg wooden dolls and the book has drawings illustrating their many fashions.

The Golden Thimble Society commenced as Tillie Tinkham, the seamstress mouse at Corgyncombe for many years, wanted to assist the Queen Anne English Wooden dolls with their needlework.

The dovecote at Tasha Tudor's Corgi Cottage with the doves posing most delightfully for me!

Jenny Wren Lindenwood tries the bodice that she has made on her doll.

At peony time, one pauses to give thought to Tasha Tudor.
Tasha loved peonies!

Tillie Tinkham, the seamstress mouse, is most pleased with the fit!

A photograph of an old English drawing done by Kenny Meadows. The lady in the drawing reminds us of Jane Bennet in "Pride and Prejudice", though the lady's fashion is bit later in time. The lavender was gathered from my garden of herbs.

Tillie Tinkham and Jenny Wren discuss the making of a skirt to sew to the bodice.

Tillie Tinkham is admiring the miniature chair, that is similar to the chairs referred to as Tinkham chairs, named after chairmaker Ephraim Tinkham II, a relative of ours.

Little Tillie Tinkham, the seamstress mouse for the dolls at Corgyncombe, is a descendant of the Brown mouse family who came on the Mayflower. Mayflower passenger Peter Brown Mouse's daughter Mary Brown Mouse married Ephraim Tinkham Mouse.

I descend from Mayflower passenger Peter Brown's daughter Mary Brown who married Ephraim Tinkham.

Where Tasha Tudor created her artwork.

These are my own personal photographs of Tasha Tudor and her cottage.

Jenny Wren Lindenwood with her little doll who is wearing the sweet frock that she came to Corgyncombe in.

Another lovely Miss Lindenwood.

In the early morn Miss Lindenwood dons her straw hat and goes out along Corgi Creek and gathers Dame's Rocket.

Pretty blue Baptisia flowers with leaves that look translucent in the sun, almost as if they have a glow about them. In the background, Dame's Rocket flourishes. When the fireflies appear at twilight and twinkle their little lights about the garden and the lovely scent of the Dame's Rocket fills the air, 'tis simply magic!

Dame's Rocket is such a delight to see along roadsides , hedgerows, and creeks, growing so cheerfully amongst the deep, luscious green!

Miss Lindenwood has a bouquet of Dame's Rocket, chamomile and forget-me-nots.
The sweet woodruff in the background has finished blooming.

Corgi Creek where the Dame's Rocket can be seen as far as the eye can see. The only thing one can hear is the babbling of the creek and birds singing.

Tea in the garden of herbs at Corgyncombe. The cake is decorated with Dame's Rocket.

A visitor to the Rocket reminds us of Beatrix Potter's illustration of a butterfly tasting the sugar in Mrs. Tittlemouse's larder!

Little Willie Higgs and his Auntie with their ram in the early spring garden at Corgyncombe. In the background the violets are blooming and in the inner circle the Fritillaria meleagris are blooming and the forget-me-nots are on the verge of blooming.

Fritillaria meleagris

Auntie Higgs is joyfully spinning in the Corgyncombe Garden of Herbs.  In the background, the sweet woodruff is in bloom as well as the Lady's Keys, also known as Cowslip.

Some original antique English botanicals.

Tillie Tinkham amongst the violets, forget-me-nots, and sweet woodruff, along with a few chives.

Balls, skeins, and bobbins full of my handspun yarn. This yarn was all spun in the grease. When it is washed it will be white.

Tasha Tudor wrote to me:
Dear Diane,
Truly, you spin the finest yarn and take the best photographs of anyone I know! I just love the one of Sarah in your store. What a collection you do have to be sure!

Tasha Tudor's great wheel in front of the fireplace where St. Nicholas came down the chimney in Tasha Tudor's "The Night Before Christmas".

I took a fifty pound feed bag and stuffed it full of goldenrod blossoms in prime bloom. As the goldenrod cooked down in the brass kettle I put in the entire contents of the fifty pound bag.

The goldenrod was cooked over the fire for over an hour and then left to cool. The liquid was then strained and set over the fire again.

I mixed up some ferrous sulfate with water and put it in the dye pot. The pre-wetted white handspun skeins of yarn were placed into the dye pot. The dye pot was put over the fire for another hour. Two pounds of handspun yarn was dyed in the dye pot at once.

Below are some of the colours that I have harvested through the years from the goldenrod plant. The colour from the dye pot pictured above is the last skein below.

My great wheel in the garret. The great wheel is also called the walking wheel or the wool wheel.

I usually spin my wool in the grease and wash it after it has been spun and made into a two-ply yarn. Then I wash the skeins and hang them up with stone weights to set the twist.

Tasha Tudor spinning on my wheel.

Me hugging a sweet little lamb!

How I have always loved little lambs!

I have loved old fashioned things since I was a little girl, even before I discovered Tasha Tudor!
The first Tasha Tudor illustrations I saw was when I was a child after the above photograph was taken and the illustrations were in "Childcraft Poems of Early Childhood". One of the poems was "Mary's Lamb" where Tasha illustrated an old fashioned schoolhouse with the children working on their slates at their desks when Mary's little lamb appears and tries to enter the schoolhouse. Tasha's illustration also shows the old schoolhouse with the lovely rolling hills in the background. I have always and forever loved rolling hills! The last illustration shows Mary tenderly giving her lamb a hug!
The photograph of me hugging the lamb reminds us of Tasha Tudor's Mary hugging her lamb and of other Tasha Tudor illustrations, as well!

What Tasha has drawn in her illustrations are the same old ways that I grew up with. I find them familiar, comforting, and I am drawn to them. [*See note below.]

The dried rhizomes of the Iris Florentina that I dry and grind into a powder.

The orris root smells delightful! I think it has a smell like sweet violets. I love it!

Iris Florentina

At the Corgyncombe Herbary, a Tussie Mussie, clove orange pomanders, and lavender wands.

My garden and sheep at pasture.

The Turret at Castle Corgyncombe. Heirloom sweet peas are on the arbor.

An October snow at Castle Corgyncombe.

High Dumpsie Dearie is an old English receipt for jam made with apples, pears, and plums with some bruised ginger.

Making Dundee cakes for tea is another tradition around Christmas time at Corgyncombe Cottage.

During the days before Christmas, delicious and festive Dundee cakes are enjoyed at tea time.

At the Corgyncombe Bakery I make many Dundee cakes in all different shapes and sizes.

Dundee cakes are made a month ahead of time and put in cold storage until time for St. Nicholas Tea and enjoyed at tea throughout the Christmas season.

The receipt for Dundee Cake is in "The Tasha Tudor Cookbook".

I never add the citron nor the raisins as called for in the receipt, but add more than the called for amount of currants and in addition to the almonds in the receipt, I add walnuts.
This combination makes the most delicious Dundee cake!

In her cookbook Tasha Tudor says to decorate the top of the Dundee cake with cherries and almonds. I have always decorated my Dundee cakes in a different pattern than those that I have seen Tasha illustrate. I use the cherry as the center with almonds or other nuts around the cherries forming flower-like shapes. I also use the currants to decorate the top of the Dundee cake.

* I wrote the sentences below originally in June 2007 in a letter to Julie:
"What Tasha has drawn in her illustrations are the same old ways that I grew up with. I find them familiar, comforting, and I am drawn to them."

Some of the photographs and some of the writings on this post are from previous Corgyncombe Courant posts that can be found here on the Corgyncombe Courant and from our web site and our previous postings elsewhere on the internet.

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Photographs, images, and text copyright © 2000-2018 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson. All rights reserved. Photographs, images, and/or text may not be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson.

copyright © 2018 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson