August 28, 2012

Tasha Tudor Birthday 2012 Celebration!

Tasha Tudor, A Kindred Spirit!
Tasha Tudor's Rebecca Corgi and Sarah share a quiet moment on Tasha Tudor's back door stoop. Sarah tenderly patted Rebecca on the back and told her that she was most charming.
Amongst the plants along the way to the door are fuchsias, adorable Rebecca looks as if she has a fuchsia delicately hanging from the tip of her little corgi nose! In the doorway, one can see the warm and cozy glow coming from within Tasha Tudor's cottage.

August 28th, 2012, would have been Tasha Tudor's 97th birthday.

We, Diane and my daughter Sarah, 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 that we have in common with her.
The chosen music to accompany this post is from "Little Women":
Click Here for Specially Chosen Music.
Return Here to Read the Corgyncombe Courant.
The music is so delightful whilst reading!

Tasha Tudor illustrated several fuchsias in
"The Springs of Joy".

Adorable Rebecca looks as if she has a fuchsia delicately hanging from the tip of her little corgi nose!

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.

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 and frocks, fireplace and woodstove cookery, canning, sewing, quilting, old books, and the old ways of living.

These daily things remind us of Tasha. We had so many things in common.

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

In celebration, we have for this post, chosen a gathering of our photographs that we think are reflective of what we and Tasha Tudor loved!
We hope you will enjoy them here at the Corgyncombe Courant!

Lemonade in the garden is so refreshing on a hot summer day. It is a delight to see the huge expanse of corn growing in the background. Behind and above the lemonade table are delphiniums and hollyhocks growing in my garden. The flowers in the tablecloth remind us of cosmos.
A reproduction of Tasha Tudor's stoneware water cooler is on the lemonade table. Tasha drew an illustration of her water cooler in "The Tasha Tudor Cookbook" and the actual water cooler can be seen in "Tasha Tudor's Heirloom Crafts" and "Tasha Tudor's Delightful House". It is a piece of old fashioned beauty!

In the summer, elegantly frocked hollyhock ladies come to visit our garden. I can hardly see a hollyhock without thinking....hmmm, that would make a lovely skirt or bonnet! Hollyhock ladies are also delightful to see dancing on water. What fun!! Whilst visiting, the Hollyhock ladies spent a few days in our icebox amongst the cucumbers and squash and felt right at home there. We at Corgyncombe call the hollyhock ladies Blossom Bugbee, Scarlett O'Flaira, Augusta Dewey, Flora Gardner, and Summer Bliss. Miss Melonie Bell also came to visit and she is very fond of stoneware.

At top center is Tillie Tinkham, the seamstress mouse for the dolls at Corgyncombe, in the garden. Tillie is the proprietress of "Tillie Tinkham's Frocks & Fashions", which includes a millinery department and tea room. Tillie loves to fashion fascinators with flowers she gathers from the garden.

I made the ice cubes from borage flowers. Fresh sprigs of lemon verbena and borage are on the tray.

A lovely pink hollyhock.


Above are close-ups of delphiniums and hollyhocks that provide a lovely backdrop for the lemonade table.
In "The Real Pretend", written by Joan Donaldson, Tasha Tudor illustrated Sarah surrounded by many delightful hollyhocks.

A close-up of borage ice cubes.
Borage has a cucumber smell.
How refreshing on a summer's day!

The borage plant in my garden from whence came the borage in the ice cubes.

Lovely hills and dales add such character to the landscape.
Ahhh, how we love the hills!
As the hills were to Beatrix Potter and Tasha Tudor,
the hills are a great inspiration to us.

"Linsey Woolsey" written and illustrated by Tasha Tudor.
On the title page is a bee skep and hollyhocks.
The book tells of Linsey Woolsey's mishaps.
How cute Tasha has illustrated the lambiekin when she escapes into the house and finds the best fluffy bed with its beautiful quilt!

In "Linsey Woolsey", written and illustrated by Tasha Tudor, Sylvie Ann is celebrating her birthday. The little lamb Linsey Woolsey, whose scheduled bottle feeding had been ignored, creates mischief at Sylvie's birthday party by jumping upon the festive birthday table. We could imagine our Corgyncombe Goat Kiddles doing the same thing, as they were quite demanding at bottle feeding time!

Linsey Woolsey ends up escaping again, this time from the shed she was shut in, and then disturbed the beehives that were just outside the shed amongst the hollyhocks. Despite the many stings that she received, the last picture in the book shows that Linsey Woolsey lived to be a grown up sheep with lambs of her own. The illustration of Sylvie hugging Linsey Woolsey's lamb twins reminds us of the photograph of me as a little girl, hugging the sweet little lambie outside the barn in the snow.

In the book "The County Fair", written and illustrated by Tasha Tudor, Sylvie Ann and her brother Tom have a grand time visiting the exhibits of calves, poultry, the vegetable and canned goods display, delicious looking baked goods, oxen, and, as many country fairs do, there were bees on display in a glass case, along with a bee skep, and many honey jars.

In Tasha Tudor's "Alexander the Gander" bee skeps amongst the hollyhocks can be seen as Alexander spies Mrs. Fillow's Heliotrope Pansies, which he considers quite tasty!

A bee skep in the Corgyncombe Garden of Herbs with scented geraniums round, at twilight when the lightning bugs started to appear.
Bee skeps and hollyhocks have been subjects of Tasha Tudor's illustrations.
In "Around the Year", written and illustrated by Tasha Tudor, bee skeps can be found on the "In June Comes" page.

In "The House at Pooh Corner", written by A. A. Milne and illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard, Pooh is shown taking some jugs and jars out of the cupboard and filling his basket full of honey! I, too, looked in my cupboard and found some old combs of honey wrapped in wax paper that have probably been there for quite a spell! Keeping bees is a tradition in my father's family as he, his father, his brothers, and uncle all kept bees.

"ABC of Bee Culture" by A. I. Root

Tillie Tinkham, the seamstress mouse, made Teddy's suit that he is wearing for tea and honey.
Tasha Tudor liked to make clothing for her children's dolls and bears.
Honey for the tea is in the blue and white honey pot.
Tea tastes splendid with honey especially when you have a cold.
I never, never use sugar or cream.

Whilst entering a little shop my eyes flew to this little blue and white plaid child's frock with the sweet little collar! Winnie the Pooh immediately came to my mind!
On the book stand is "The House at Pooh Corner", written by A. A. Milne and illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard. Winnie the Pooh books were in Tasha Tudor's children's library.

One of the earliest flowers to appear at Corgyncombe, Cowslip, also called Lady's Keys.
They seem rather whimsical flowers, in the sweetest of ways and these yellow flowers seem the perfect accompaniment with the child's dress and Pooh!
Upon seeing this flower a lady from Britain exclaimed with joy "Oh, it's Lady's Keys!" In Britain Lady's Keys is a favoured flower.

Lady's Keys, also known as Cowslip, is referenced in poetry as a descriptive to express the arrival and loveliness of May and springtime... a season that Tasha Tudor so looked forward to!

In John Milton's poem "Song on May Morning" he wrote the following lines:
"The flowery May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose."

In Beatrix Potter's "The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse", Beatrix wrote the following lines about Mrs. Tittlemouse as she is gathering things for her meal from her storeroom:
"I smell a smell of honey; is it the cowslips outside, in the hedge?"

A close up of the frock with the sweet collar.

We can imagine Melissa as Nurse Nanny, taking care of a little boy and reading him a story of Pooh or a tale by Beatrix Potter or Tasha Tudor. In "A Child's Garden of Verses", written by Robert Louis Stevenson and illustrated by Tasha Tudor, there are several illustrations of little boys being read to and cared for by their Nurse Nanny.

"The Flowers
All the names I know from nurse:
Gardener's garters, Shepherd's purse,
Bachelor's buttons, Lady's smock,
And the Lady Hollyhock."
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Melissa reminds us of Tasha Tudor's doll Melissa... very much so.
For years we have been inspired by Tasha Tudor's doll families. Tasha Tudor made her dolls look so real and we know that they were real to her. Our doll families have many children, cousins, Mums, and Aunties who like to do all the favorite things that we like to do best!
How we love our dolls, and their little critter friends such as mice, ducks, and birds, inspiring imagination, fashion, and stories, the lives they live that are so very real to us, too!

My great great grandmum was also named Melissa. She was my father's Uncle Ford's grandmum. Melissa's grandparents lived at one time a few miles from where Tasha lived in Vermont.

My father's Uncle Ford when he was a little boy.
Does he not look sweet in his fancy clothes and curls?

My father's dear Uncle Ford, with my brother, in front of the one room schoolhouse that he called home.
The tar paper along the bottom of the schoolhouse was to help keep out drafts.

Uncle Ford was very eccentric, as the Shepard's were known to be.
My Mum, when she would become particularly vexed with me as a child, would say "You're ALL Shepard!"
I would say "I know it!"
Uncle Ford lived in a one room schoolhouse, well actually he lived in the small front room of the schoolhouse, the area where the children would have hung their coats. The actual schoolroom part was his storage area.
In the small area that he lived in he had a bed, an old desk, a wood stove, a table covered with oil cloth, and a couple chairs. He always lived with no electric, no plumbing, and no modern conveniences. Instead of a modern bathroom, he had an outhouse. He was a hunter, trapper, fisherman, and he kept bees.

A report in the newspaper about my father's Uncle Ford said that he "recently had a large swarm of bees light in the top of a tall elm tree, out of reach of a ladder. He took his rifle and cut the limb off with three shots. Limb and bees dropped to the ground. He then proceeded to hive them and they proved a fine swarm."

Once, whilst visiting Uncle Ford, my little brother told Ford he was thirsty. Ford gave him a drink of water from a bucket with a dipper. My poor little brother's stomach hurt and his diaper ran green for several days, much to my Mum's dismay, and he was told never to ask for a drink at Uncle Ford's again!

Often my father would take us children to visit Uncle Ford and we would bring him vegetables from our garden.

Nothing is as Tasha Tudor as yellow daffodils!!!
I first discovered Tasha Tudor when I was a child, in the Childcraft book "Poems of Early Childhood".
In the book, two of A. A. Milne's poems are accompanied by Tasha Tudor's delightfully old fashioned illustrations, including two with a stuffed bear who must be Pooh!

I made the cookie with the bee skep from a mold.
Echinacea and clover from the Corgyncombe Gardens are on the edge of the book stand.
The garden smells so sweet of the purple echinacea with the busy bees buzzing about.

The red and white napkin reminds me of a honeycomb pattern.
I just love the white Staffordshire bee skep honey pot.

Violet jelly made from wild violets I gathered in May at Corgyncombe.

Tasha Tudor in her kitchen at Corgi Cottage preparing chickens for our supper.
These are my own personal photographs of Tasha Tudor.


Sarah with Corgyncombe Nubian goat kiddle Lucy.

In "ABC of Bee Culture" there is an apron that was favored for ladies whilst bee-keeping.
Tasha Tudor's apron and
Sarah apron both remind us of the one in the book.

Alongside the bowl of pears are sprigs of fresh cut lemon verbena.
In the Corgyncombe Library we have an old book titled "Downing's Fruits and Fruit Trees of America". The book is over 3 inches thick and it is full of descriptions of berries, grapes, peaches, pears, plums, apricots, and many many apples.

We acquired a marvelous, elegant old writing slope.
It was used as a desk for writing and has a place for inkwells and quills and below the writing surface there is a place for papers.
There are handles on both ends and one end has a drawer that runs the length of the slope.
The drawer can be released by pulling up the brass pin.
This particular writing slope is so nice because it has a brace to hold up the top and a ledge that can be added to hold a book.
On the book stand is an 1840s book open to a colour engraving of pears.

Pears at Tasha Tudor's.

In the Corgyncombe Library is the desk that Uncle Ford had in the small room of the schoolhouse that he lived in. It is an old family desk, handed down in my Jones family who were from Connecticut and Vermont. Whenever we visited Uncle Ford he would always go to his old desk to get peppermint candy for my brother and me. For Christmas Uncle Ford was very kind and always gave us each five dollars and a jar of honey.
The old wooden box below the desk was Uncle Ford's too and held what was referred to in the family as the "honey kit".

Above the desk are Sarah's frock, pinafore, hat, and shoes that she wore in my photograph that Tasha Tudor drew from when she painted the Sarah card.
The distaff is dressed for spinning flax.

Sarah on the garden bench.
Tasha Tudor did a painting of this photograph and it was made into the Sarah card.
You can imagine how thrilled we were with the cards Tasha painted from my photograph!

Lifting of one of the writing surfaces of the writing slope reveals a place for cards, letters, or other memorable pieces. Tucked in the webbing of the writing slope is the Sarah card painted by Tasha Tudor, some very old calling cards and a letter to us from Tasha Tudor.

Inside the drawer are some more letters that Tasha Tudor sent to us.
The envelope on top is addressed to "Diane Johnson & Family including corgi and goats".

Tasha Tudor, Sarah, and Owyn Corgi in the garden at Corgi Cottage.

"The Real Pretend" written by Joan Donaldson and illustrated by Tasha Tudor.
Sarah of Corgyncombe was Tasha's model for the illustrations of the little girl Kathy in "The Real Pretend". It is a true story about a little girl who goes round to her neighbors, taking pretend orders from the Larkins Catalog. Our Kitty was illustrated more than once on the cover, as various ages.

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

Emma posed in the wheelbarrow like Sarah did.
Emma is holding the little doll that she and her cousins call the "Little Dear One".

Emma and her clothing were made by talented dollmaker Margaret Flavin.

Sarah looking for the best pumpkin in the patch.
Tasha was delighted by this photograph that Diane took of her daughter Sarah.


Breakfast in Tasha Tudor's parlour.

On the writing slope is displayed a portrait of Queen Victoria. 
Beside the writing slope is a tussie mussie that I made using flowers and herbs from my Garden of Herbs, rosemary, Johnny Jump Ups, winter savory, wild marjoram, larkspur, and sage.
I just love Johnny Jump Ups, they forever remind me of spring and I liken their fragrance to apricots!
The tea cup is part of an early hand painted tea set decorated with the Queen's Rose.

The writing slope at Corgyncombe is very similar to the writing slope that Jane Austen used to write on.
Her father it gave to her in December of 1794, near her 19th birthday.
Jane Austen wrote about her writing slope in a letter to her sister Cassandra: "I should have begun my letter soon after our arrival, but for a little adventure which prevented me. After we had been here a quarter of an hour it was discovered that my writing and dressing boxes had been by accident put into a chaise which was just packing off as we came in, and were driven away towards Gravesend in their way to the West Indies. No part of my property could have been such a prize before, for in my writing-box was all my worldly wealth, seven pounds, and my dear Harry's deputation. Mr. Nottley immediately despatched a man and horse after the chaise, and in half an hour's time I had the pleasure of being as rich as ever; they were got about two or three miles off."

In Jane Austen's day they would have written with quills.
I will have to make some more from our Peacock, Reuben III's, feathers.
We gave Tasha Tudor some of our Peacock's eye feathers and quill feathers.

Our Peacock Reuben.

Along with the portrait of Queen Victoria is a Kate Greenaway card.


Diane made the above photograph of Sarah and Tasha Corgi into a Valentine card that Tasha Tudor was delighted to receive. After Tasha received the card she illustrated the scene. The illustration appears in the book "The Art of Tasha Tudor". Tasha Corgi was named after Tasha Tudor, and Tasha Tudor was very honored and declared herself to be Tasha Corgi's Godmother. The Johnsons have had six corgyn: Tasha Corgi, Katrina Corgi, Ethlyn Maria Weaver Corgi, Emily Jane Jones Shepard Corgi, Eliakim May Corgi, and Lydia Rebecca Sly Corgi. The Johnsons are so grateful to Tasha for showing us through her illustrations how delightful corgyn can be!

Corgyncombe Cottage & Corg'ery is a little farm in the valley where the corgyn dwell. Corgyn is plural for corgi. A combe is a valley, dale, vale, or hollow. Diane and her daughter Sarah made up their own exclusive word: "Corg'ery" ....... a corg'ery being a farm where an abundance of delightful corgyn dwell. Some spelling variations of their own word Corg'ery include: Corgiery, Corgi'ery, Corgery, Corg'ry, Corgi'ry..

Tillie Tinkham, the Seamstress Mouse at Corgyncombe

Tasha Tudor spinning on my wheel.
Often I would send her samples of colours that I had achieved using natural materials for dyes.

Below are wool skeins that I naturally dyed.
he skeins were scanned and the colors are really more even than they appear in the images below.

Cochineal (with tin, second dipping), Goldenrod (with chrome), St. John's Wort (with alum), Goldenrod (with chrome), Madder Root (with alum), St. John's Wart (with tin), Indigo (second dipping)

Onion Skins (with chrome), Goldenrod (with alum) overdyed with Indigo, Cochineal (with alum), Onion Skins (with alum), Indigo (first dipping), Madder Root (second dipping), Onion Skins (with copper sulfate)

Cochineal (with alum), St. John's Wort (with alum), Cochineal (with tin), Goldenrod (with chrome), Goldenrod (with alum), Indigo (third dipping), Day Lilies (with copper sulfate)

Me and the spinning wheel that my father had a spinning wheel maker make for me.
The iron tea kettle on the hearth was Uncle Ford's that he used on his wood stove in his old schoolhouse.

Gathering herbs from the Corgyncombe Gardens in a Sussex garden trug.

A bouquet of feverfew, echinacea, sage, dill, lemon verbena, wild marjoram, lovage, borage, and thyme; herbs from the Corgyncombe Garden of Herbs.
Lovage has a celery flavor but should be used sparingly as it is quite strong.

We hope that all of our Dear Readers have a lovely Tasha Tudor Birthday Celebration!

Be sure to look at our other Tasha Tudor Birthday Celebrations from other years, there are links to these posts by clicking on the photographs on the side of the Corgyncombe Courant.

Here is a link to: our Beatrix Potter Birthday Celebration 2012 post.
Tasha Tudor loved Beatrix Potter's books and Beatrix Potter delighted in the country, animals, antiques, imagination, gardens, and the old ways, too!
There are bits of Tasha in our Beatrix Potter Birthday post and if you love Tasha you will love it, too!
copyright © 2012 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson