December 29, 2012

Joyful Christmas Memories!

Dolls, Grandmum's House, and A Sweet Story!
Me in my nurse's uniform under the Christmas tree with my brother and the presents that we received.

I have always loved dolls! In the photograph above at Christmas, I received a baby doll from Santa that I named Bonnie, and a bride doll from my Grandmum, who had no name other than "Bride Doll". Along with the bride doll my Grandmum made her a dress, apron, underthings, nightgown, housecoat, and bed jacket. The bride doll had lovely curly hair, which in no time I totally ruined by enthusiastically brushing it. My cousin, who received the same doll, for some reason kept her doll on a high dresser, at least when I visited!

Bonnie didn't have real hair to comb, but she could drink a bottle and then you could change her wet diaper. Bonnie slept in the crib that I got for Christmas that had a mattress and a beautiful blanket and pillow. In the summer time the crib, bathinette, table and chairs and all my little house keeping goods would be put in my playhouse. In the winter time all of these things would be moved up to my bedroom. I still have Bonnie and my daughter Sarah played with her too in my playhouse.

Grandmum's house, a very old red house with maple trees circled round, maple trees that we tapped for maple syrup and sugar sweetness. Grandmum's house looked just like a Tasha Tudor illustration!
Grandmum's parlour was on the front right and her piano room was on the left front. The parlor was only used on special occasions, in the winter just for Christmas. The kitchen was in the back wing. Upstairs in the attic above the wing we found an antique walking wheel and the wheel of a flax wheel, old shoe lasts (old fashioned forms for making shoes) and old photographs.

In the spring we would go upstairs, look out the small windows and watch the baby robins in the nests that were outside on the ledge of the small windows. 'Tis the same at Corgyncombe Cottage. We call them Corgi Windows, because they are just the right height for a Corgi to see out.

The slight dip on the lawn would flood and freeze and we would ice skate in front of Grandmum's house. Down behind Grandmum's house there was a nice hill to slide down using a toboggan or sled.

Me with my sled.

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.

Bellinda merrily ringing as she is blown by the wind and the bakery with all its tasty treats.

I have always loved bells! What a joy as a child for me to find in the newspaper a daily story, written and illustrated by Betty Goetz Knudsen. There were pictures to colour, of Bellinda, a bell who lived in an old church tower and what happens to her as the people in town decide to build a new church. Years later, when Sarah was little, the newspaper sent me copies of the story that had been in the newspaper and how I enjoyed coloring them in again! The border that was always at the top of each day's story reminds me of Tasha Tudor borders. I imagined that Bellinda lived in all of the churches in the same city that Santa Claus (who was also a Shakepearean actor), his wife, and reindeer resided. How my cousin and I looked forward to each day's installment. I put each day's story in a little book that I made with foil covers. When I coloured this in the first time when I was a little girl, Bellinda was pink, so when I coloured her in again this time she could be no colour but pink. When Bellinda was happy she sang "ding-a-dong-a-ling-a-dong in her silvery tinkle-tones". The people in town when they heard Bellinda sing were so happy because "they all knew that Christmas was coming." Bellinda had friends in the story: Bobbin Robin, the mousekins three, Bootlet Johnny Boy, and the brown and white cow. Does this not, dear readers, remind you of Corgyncombe's Tillie Tinkham the mouse, Chirpy Cheerful the bird, and Bessie the cow?

Later, I remembered the Bellinda story when Sarah was little. I wrote to the paper and asked them if they would consider running it again, as I remembered how much joy it brought to me. I described the story and included a drawing that I drew from my memory of Bellinda the Bell with little mice. I was delighted to receive in the mail copies of Bellinda's story and find my drawing was similar to the picture of mice sliding down Bellinda. The lady at the paper said they couldn't run Bellinda's story in the paper again as it just wouldn't fit in with modern times. How sad that such a sweet story wouldn't fit in! Unfortunately, ones feels as if the city, once reminding one of Bedford Falls, now is sadly like the dreaded Potterville, as in the movie "It's A Wonderful Life." Maybe the world could use more sweet, innocent little stories for children.

copyright © 2012 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson

December 22, 2012

Shooting Stars in the December Sky!

Still with the Wonder of a Child!
A basket of old ornaments for the Corgyncombe table top Christmas tree.

The chosen music to accompany this post is "We Three Kings":
Return Here to Read the Corgyncombe Courant.

On December 13th there was a spectacular show of shooting stars! My daughter Sarah says that I act like a little child as I had such excitement over each one that fell from the sky! I'd jump up and down and loudly exclaim as I followed them with my finger "Look at that one!" and "Did you see that one go by?!" and "Ooooh, that one was sure a beauty!" All this exclaiming and jumping, my family thought was reminiscent of what is called around here "the reindeer kid", the little girl in the movie "Prancer". I couldn't help myself, each one was totally wonderful! I was the last one to leave the stars and go inside that night.

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.

Silent Night at Corgyncombe.

The Advent Calendar, "O Holy Night", illustrated by Tasha Tudor. On the 24th the stable doors open to reveal the Baby Jesus sleeping under starlight with mice and birds gathered round. We love the shadows and light and glow from the shining star and the colour in this Advent Calendar! It truly looks like "O Holy Night".

Sarah whilst gathering greens found a bird's nest and showed it to Tasha Corgi.

Me in my little black Christmas party shoes that give an old fashioned look. The Christmas party dress was red with a white collar.

In the photograph above I am at my Grandparents house for Christmas. They always had an old fashioned looking table top tree. My Uncles on both my Father's and Mother's sides always bought me little frocks and then they would take photographs of me in the frocks. On my Father's side the frocks had a more old fashioned look. They were probably bought at charming old country stores that carried older stock. On my Mum's side I received frocks from New York City and all over the world. But then, my Father's side has always been more old fashioned! Grandmum on Father's side has always reminded me of Tasha Tudor!

Dirndls that my Uncle on my Mum's side brought from Switzerland for us girls for Christmas.
I am on the left.

copyright © 2012 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson

December 6, 2012

St. Nicholas Tea Inspired by Tasha Tudor!

A Wreath of Candles to Light December Teas!
Today, December 6th, is St. Nicholas Day.
When lit, the Advent wreath creates such lovely shadows and light on the ceiling.

The chosen music to accompany this post is Carol of the Bells:
Click Here for Specially Chosen Delightful Music.
Return Here to Read the Corgyncombe Courant.

 The Dundee cake is brought out to be served with tea.
With the coming of Christmas, Dundee cakes are delicious at teas throughout December!

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.
I took the photograph of the chickadee several years ago, as St. Nicholas Day morn dawned snowy, sparkly white!

 Mixing the Dundee cake. Corgyncombe uses the receipt for Dundee Cake in "The Tasha Tudor Cookbook". Dundee cakes are made a month ahead of time and put in cold storage until time for St. Nicholas Tea.

The Corgyncombe Bakery makes many Dundee cakes in all different shapes and sizes.
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, add walnuts.
This combination makes the most delicious Dundee cake!

Dundee cakes are festive at St. Nicholas Tea on December 6th!
The design on the cup has St. Nicholas pulling a gift laden sled, with a tree over his shoulder, and a doll in a sack at his waist, whilst adoring children look on.
Inside the cup is fresh milk from Corgyncombe Dairy Goat Carmella Lucille!

copyright © 2012 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson

November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving, The Old Way!

Simple Thanksgiving Gifts!
The Corgyncombe Butt'ry

In the Butt'ry, on the shelf amongst the yellowware, is "The New England Butt'ry Shelf Cookbook" written by Mary Mason Campbell and illustrated by Tasha Tudor. The book goes throughout the year, featuring receipts for different celebrations and contains Tasha's delightful colour illustrations for New Year's, Valentine's Day, Easter, May Day, Afternoon Tea, Weddings, Anniversaries, Picnics, Fourth of July, Birthdays, Quilting Bee Thimble Tea, Hallowe'en, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The Corgyncombe Courant's favorite colour illustration is the corgi in the butt'ry surrounded by delectable Christmas treats and includes many of our favorite things.

The chosen music to accompany this post is "Simple Gifts":
Click Here for Specially Chosen Delightful Music.
Return Here to Read the Corgyncombe Courant.

What a splendid turkey!

The Butt'ry in old houses was oft' times on the north side of the house because it was the coolest side of the building. This is so at Corgyncombe Cottage. The Corgyncombe Butt'ry is on the north side of the cottage. Corgyncombe Cottage acquired the sandstone sink in Connecticut where Diane and Sarah's ancestors, the Stanclift family, dwelt. In the above photograph Diane has a colander full of washed carrots from the Corgyncombe Vegetable Garden.
Gravestone carving was a tradition in the Stanclift family. The stone of the gravestones and the Corgyncombe Butt'ry sink are the same reddish brown sandstone. The sink, which was from a very old house in the area the Stanclifts lived, could well have been made by one of the Stanclifts.
Our Stanclift family came from England in the 1680s.

Some of the photographs and writings on this post are from previous Corgyncombe Courant posts that can be found here on the Corgyncombe Courant.

 Pumpkins grown in the Corgyncombe Vegetable Garden for making pies.

Sage gathered from Corgyncombe Garden of Herbs.
In the story "An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving" written by Louisa May Alcott, when the children were left alone due to an emergency, the older girls of the family thought they would continue fixing the Thanksgiving meal. In pondering what "yarbs" would be best to put in stuffing for a turkey, sage was considered but sweet marjoram and summer savory were decided upon. Mistakenly catnip and wormwood were the "yarbs" grabbed in the darkness of the storage area. The catnip and wormwood totally ruined the stuffing!
Diane's 5th great grandfather Eliakim May was 1st cousin to Louisa May Alcott's great grandfather Samuel May.

Crushing sage and thyme for stuffing for the turkey.
The sage and thyme were gathered and dried at the Corgyncombe Herbary.
Displayed on the art stand is "The Williamsburg Art of Cookery" by Mrs. Helen Bullock.

 Diane used her Tasha Tudor Reproduction Tin Kitchen for roasting the turkey in front of the fire. Here it is shown with the door open for basting. Isn't that turkey a beauty!

Whilst tending the turkey, Diane's husband kept making toast using the old fashioned wrought iron toaster. The toaster has a swivel so that you can turn it around and toast the other side.

A view of the turkey that faces the fire.
Using the Tasha Tudor Reproduction Tin Kitchen is such a delight!

In Tasha Tudor's "Around the Year", Tasha has illustrated a tin kitchen with traditional Thanksgiving food around it. In "A Time to Keep", Tasha Tudor illustrated a lady basting the turkey in a tin kitchen in front of the fire. Hungry corgyn gather round, hoping for a taste of turkey. "The New England Butt'ry Shelf Cookbook" written by Mary Mason Campbell and illustrated by Tasha Tudor, also features an illustration of a woman using a tin kitchen with a table of Thanksgiving food. In "A Basket of Herbs", illustrated by Tasha Tudor, on the Sage pages there is a lady fixing a turkey to be put in the tin kitchen with hungry corgyn looking on.

 Regularly the spit is turned and put in the next hole to ensure that the turkey is done evenly all round.

At the proper time potatoes from the Corgyncombe Vegetable Garden are peeled and set over the fire to boil. Even though a lid is placed on the kettle, these potatoes cooked over the fire have a mild smoky taste that is just delicious!

 Cranberries cooking over the hot coals.
Cranberries have to be done the day before if you put them in a mold as they need time to chill and set whilst in the cold.

Some of the acorn squash harvested from the Corgyncombe Vegetable Garden. Corgyncombe Cottage always has squash at Thanksgiving Dinner.

Cranberry Sauce after being chilled and set in a yellowware mold.
What a pretty addition to the Thanksgiving table!

In the bowl are Red Pontiac mashed potatoes, made according to the receipt in  "The Tasha Tudor Cookbook". The turkey on the platter, all set for carving! Diane uses her Grandmum's platter for the turkey with bay leaves from Diane's bay tree tucked around the edge.
As Tasha Tudor herself said, a turkey roasted in a tin kitchen is "Simply unsurpassed!"

Diane made pumpkin pies from pumpkins grown in the Corgyncombe Vegetable Garden.

The photographs below show the steps in preparing the pumpkins for pumpkin pie.
Extreme care must be taken whilst cutting the pumpkins.

After the pumpkins are cut in two, the seeds are scraped out and the pumpkin is then put on a baking pan and put into the oven. The seeds were dried and saved.

After cooling, the outer skin is peeled off and the pumpkin is mashed.

The pumpkin is then put into cheesecloth and tied up.

The cheesecloth bag is put into a colander in a bowl and pressed with a weight overnight in the ice box to remove the excess liquid. In the morning the cheesecloth bag with the pumpkin in it is squeezed to get the rest of the liquid out.

 The pumpkin is put into a bowl and the rest of the ingredients are added.

 Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and a little bit of nutmeg make the Corgyncombe Cottage kitchen smell delightfully like Thanksgiving.

The pumpkin pie before baking.

After barn chores pumpkin pie is served with cheese... always with cheese!

The Corgyncombe Butt'ry

The Corgyncombe Butt'ry holds many of our favorite things, yellowware, stoneware, tinware, jams, jellies, canned goods, baked goods, potatoes, squash, and apples!

The Corgyncombe Bakery.
Dundee cakes are made in November and put in cold storage and then used at St. Nicholas Tea and many Christmas teas throughout December .
Diane made a fresh wreath of princess pine for the hanging Advent Wreath.

In "First Poems of Childhood", for the poem "Over the River and Through the Wood" by Lydia Maria Child, Tasha Tudor illustrated Thanksgiving food and a family going over the covered bridge with horse and sleigh to a lovely old house and barn where they will enjoy Thanksgiving dinner. The old house and barn remind The Corgyncombe Courant of Corgyncombe Cottage and barn.

An old fashioned Thanksgiving for those at Corgyncombe Cottage, a delicious feast to be most thankful for!

Diane brings out some of her Tasha Tudor Christmas card collection to enjoy at tea with pumpkin pie, cheese, and Tasha Tudor's Welsh Breakfast Tea. Birds have always been a favorite subject for Tasha Tudor at Christmas and throughout the year.

In "Take Joy! The Tasha Tudor Christmas Book" there is a chickadee illustrated on the title page surrounded by nuts, berries, and winter greenery. There are some lovely birds illustrated on the cover and inside "Wings from the Wind, An Anthology of Poems" Selected and Illustrated by Tasha Tudor.

Chickadee and Sparrow

Diane has always loved watching birds, too. In grade school one of Diane's teachers loved birds and always fed them in a tree outside the window. Diane always liked to watch the birds instead of concentrating on school work. Diane received an award for perfect attendance which was a certificate to be redeemed at the bookstore. The second Diane walked in the bookstore she knew which book she wanted... a big wonderful book about birds. The book included a recording of all the lovely bird songs.

The Corgyncombe Courant encourages their dear readers to feed the birds throughout the winter and never forget to feed them daily as our little winged friends depend on us! The birds are always such a joy to watch and to hear! They can also be amusing to watch, like the nuthatch who likes to perch upside down.

Here is a link to a YouTube video where they prepared pumpkin for pumpkin pie using a similar method with the cheesecloth:

Pumpkin Pie from Scratch on YouTube

It has more instructions on cooking times and preparation.

The Corgyncombe Courant hopes that all of our Dear Readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
copyright © 2012 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson

November 10, 2012

High Dumpsie Dearie and Autumnal Splendor!

Mellow Autumnal Days and Jam at Tea!
Mellow days of autumnal perfection are rare when the colours are full and peak, the sun is shining and the weather is warm.

The chosen music to accompany this post is Ashokan Farewell:
Click Here for Specially Chosen Mellow Autumnal Music.
Return Here to Read the Corgyncombe Courant.
We have featured this music many times before as it is so lovely and one of our favorites!

High Dumpsie Dearie is an old English receipt for jam made with apples, pears, and plums with some bruised ginger.
High Dumpsie Dearie makes your autumnal kitchen smell delightful!
I peeled, cut up, and weighed out two pounds of each of the fruit. I weighed the plate first and set the scale accordingly.

Also nice are the days of autumnal chill when a slight breeze is blowing and the golden leaves start falling from the tress like golden snow. You can hear the leaves falling intermingled with the honking of the geese overhead and in the cornfields.

Corgyncombe Cottage and Corg'ery in Autumnal Splendor!

The blustery remnants of a hurricane or a sudden autumnal shower can bring all the leaves down and deposit the lovely colours on the ground leaving an orange hue for awhile, 'til turning a dull brown.
Hurricane Sandy blew a portion of the roof off of the Turret at Castle Corgyncombe.

Our thoughts and prayers are with those folks who were affected and are suffering due to Hurricane Sandy.

Golden above and below!

High Dumpsie Dearie on biscuits at tea along with a Beatrix Potter tea set and Mrs. Rabbit figurine.

Can you imagine packing your basket with High Dumpsie Dearie and some biscuits and, oh yes, you best take along an umbrella and a cozy shawl to wrap round, as autumnal showers can come up suddenly. Walking o'er meadow, hills and vales, 'til reaching Mrs. Rabbit's burrow and then Miss Elsie Pricklish the Hedgehog's residence. They will enjoy their High Dumpsie Dearie and biscuits with tea!

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

The old shawl above has the loveliest colours. There are shades of Dumpsie Dearie salmon-orange, teal, and blue-gray on a cream background.
When we found this shawl, it reminded us of Mrs. Bennet's shawl in the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice (this is our favorite version of P. and P.). 'Tis the shawl she is wearing when they received the shocking news that her youngest daughter Lydia had willingly run away with the malicious Mr. Wickham!

copyright © 2012 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson