December 24, 2013

Warm on a Snowy, Cold Christmas Eve!

"All Through the Night"

Emma kneels down on her knees to tuck her doll "Little Dear One" in snugly under her cozy wool cover. 'Tis cold outside and the snow is softly falling o'er the ground. Emma wears an antique flannel nightgown. Flannel is so cozy and warm! Emma was made by talented dollmaker Margaret Flavin.

Dolls are so special at Christmastide!

"All Through the Night" by Rachel Field
A sweet little story about Mary and Joseph only finding room to spend the night in a stable. When the Baby Jesus is born all the animals sense how special the Child is and the dog in particular spends all night guarding the little family. When Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus leave the stable in the morn the dog watches them leave and then runs to catch up with them to be a part of this family, too.

Silent Night at Corgyncombe

We at the Corgyncombe Courant
wish all of our Dear Readers a 
Merry and Blessed Christmas!

Be sure not to miss our previous post:
copyright © 2013 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson

December 23, 2013

Nanny Nettie-Kin Decorates for Christmas!

A Nanny for "Pumpkin House", What Fun!
Nanny Nettie-Kin making wreaths for
"Pumpkin House".

Click Here for Lovely Music.

"Pumpkin House" is the large golden dollhouse where the Izannah girls play with their dolls.

The Izannah girls' little doll "Little Dear One" was wishing for some friends her own size. Her wish has come true and there will be many little dolls who will make "Pumpkin House" their home.

They decided they would like a Nanny to help them care for their dolls and help them keep things smoothly running, with all the required cooking and cleaning, at "Pumpkin House".

The Izannah girls wrote inquiries in their local paper the "Corgyncombe Courant".

They were seeking a Nanny who is caring, fun, clever, wise, sweet, likes babies, likes to cook and bake, and a teacher who will help them with their lessons. A Nanny who reads Tasha Tudor and Beatrix Potter stories to the children in her care.

This is who they chose:
Nanny Nettie-Kin, the name picked out by the Izannah girls,
the Nanny at "Pumpkin House".


Nanny Nettie-Kin holds up the finished wreath that she made for the front door.

She is ironing a ribbon for a bow to adorn the wreath for the front of "Pumpkin House". She irons with an old fashioned iron she heats on the woodstove, with a potholder to protect her hand from the heat. I myself have used an old fashioned iron and it works quite well!

Nanny Nettie-Kin was made by the talented dollmaker Judy Brown. The wonderful furniture that the Izannah girls collected for "Pumpkin House" was made by talented Roy Bubbenmoyer.

Nanny Nettie-Kin found this little antique stove for only one dollar!

She made a Dundee cake using the receipt from
"The Tasha Tudor Cookbook".
Dundee cake is enjoyed at December teas.

The door of her little stove "Ark".

Nanny Nettie-Kin decorates her Advent wreath with rose hips that she collected from the Corgyncombe Gardens.

St. Nicholas has left treats in Nanny Nettie-Kin's shoe!
The bed is an antique and has a cozy handspun, handwoven cover.

A Corgyncombe Chickadee on St. Nicholas Day.

A Dundee cake from Corgyncombe Bakery, made using the receipt from "The Tasha Tudor Cookbook".

Three Dundee cakes made at the
Corgyncombe Bakery.
Dundee cakes are so delicious and festive at December teas.

Just the right piece of Princess Pine in just the right place.
Our friend Carol helps Nanny Nettie-Kin collect Princess Pine for her Christmas decorating at "Pumpkin House" and mine, too, at Corgyncombe Cottage. Nanny sits on a settle bench, that serves as a table and a bench.

Nanny Nettie-Kin is in awe of the beauty of the lit Advent Wreath.

Nanny Nettie-Kin adjusting the wreath on the front door of "Pumpkin House".

She loves her pretty red Christmassy shawl and wants to make a Tasha Tudor shawl using her handspun yarn.

Rrrrring, rrrring... Nanny Nettie-Kin reaches to answer the telephone. Is it her friend Myrtle? She'll have to invite her over for tea and a slice of Dundee cake!

In Tasha Tudor's "Corgiville Fair", there are amusing illustrations of Mother Rabbits talking on old fashioned phones, discussing Edgar Tomcat's "shocking" gambling habit!

Simple elegance, a beautiful wreath upon the front door of
 "Pumpkin House",
 an old New England house.

We at Corgyncombe Cottage and Pumpkin House wish you a 
Merry Christmas!

 Here is a link to our previous post
about the Large Golden Dollhouse:
Tasha Tudor Birthday Celebration 2013!
copyright © 2013 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson

October 3, 2013

Tasha Tudor Birthday Celebration 2013!

Pumpkin House!
Pumpkin House

August 28th, 2013, would have been Tasha Tudor's 98th birthday.

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

Click Here for Delightful Music.
Return Here to Read the Corgyncombe Courant.

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.

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.

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!

Last Autumn we acquired an old dollhouse. We had seen the dollhouse on Susan Branch's blog when she visited Rustology Antiques. Susan was imagining how fun it be to would decorate it!

When we first saw the large golden dollhouse in person there were pumpkins on either side of the door. Thereafter we always called the house, "Pumpkin House"!

Because several of the windows on the front were missing, we drew on just some quick window divisions to get an idea of how the house would look with four panes.

This dollhouse is special! It is large, over five feet tall, almost six feet long, with lots of depth in the rooms, and a place out front to play, too! Up top there are two chimneys. It is old, so the boards are substantial, the golden color of the house and the painted stonework are wonderful. The center door is framed by an elegant portico with columns and there is a beautiful fan above the door. The front of the house is on its own base with rollers, and can be rolled away so you can play inside. There is a fireplace in the parlour, pretty carpets upstairs, and a stairway that goes through all three floors.

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.

 The Tasha Tudor "Around the Year" exhibit last year, 2012.
What a delightful exhibit it was!
   "The Dolls' Christmas" written and illustrated by Tasha Tudor
Tasha Tudor wrote and illustrated books inspired by her own dolls and dollhouses, "A is for Annabelle", "The Doll's Christmas", "Thistly B", "Becky's Christmas", "The Night Before Christmas", and she illustrated "The Dolls' House" written by Rumer Godden.

 In "The Dolls' Christmas", one can see the dollhouse in the illustration was taller than the children, who are having a delightful time playing with their dolls! If you love dollhouses and Christmas festivities, you will love this book! To the left of the smallest girl, on the floor just outside the dollhouse, is a crock, a yellowware bowl, and a copper teakettle. Inside you can see a cupboard full of dishes with a chair along side.

Kitchens were Tasha's favorite room in a dollhouse, they are mine also!

In "The Dolls' Christmas", the dolls made thimble cookies for the Christmas party.

The dollhouse in "The Dolls' Christmas" was called "Pumpkin House". In Tasha's rough draft, that was on display at the "Around the Year" exhibit last year, 2012, Tasha had written about the dollhouse, something like: "It was called Pumpkin House because it had been given to them by their Godmother and you know what Godmother's can do with pumpkins, especially magic ones." This was omitted from the final book but it gives insight into interesting Cinderella-like thoughts about the dollhouse.

We have always loved dollhouses! Last Autumn, we had had dollhouses on our mind, our friends have dollhouses and in researching a story we looked at another old dollhouse display.
Our Izannah girls love dollhouses, too! After visiting the old dollhouse display and hearing about the two little girls who first had the house and loved it, the Izannahs were even more excited about the idea of finding their own dollhouse to play with their little doll in!

 The old dollhouse display looked so much like one they had seen in a old storybook in their home library at Corgyncombe.

 This old dollhouse was given to two little girls for Christmas. The little girls looked forward to decorating it each year at Christmas time.

An old book at the Corgyncombe Library, about a little girl receiving a dollhouse for her Birthday. How delightful!  The dollhouse in the book reminds us of the old dollhouse display above. Both dollhouses have dormers, chimney, and drawers along the bottom.

So we and the Izannah girls were excited when we saw two dollhouses for sale! We saw the large golden dollhouse and another, smaller, old dollhouse on Susan Branch's blog when she visited Rustology Antiques. (Both dollhouses were at the same antique store.) We loved them both, but the large one was so expensive! So we went to get the smaller dollhouse because I loved that one so much! Later we found out the smaller dollhouse was a miniature 863 Park Avenue.

As I was anticipating going to get the Park Avenue dollhouse, I was also thinking about the big golden dollhouse. I said enthusiastically to my daughter Sarah, "What will we do if they offer to sell it for half price?" My daughter told me "It won't happen!" I thought, well it could! (Sarah says that I still think like I'm six years old.) The Izannahs overheard and thought dreams can come true, it could happen!

We arrived at Rustology Antiques to pick up the smaller dollhouse 863 Park Avenue.  How we love it! We knew we couldn't get the big dollhouse, the price was so high, but of course we had to look at it! It was impressive! Before having it at their shop, the large golden dollhouse had been at shows and admired by many. Everyone loved it and could imagine how fun it would be to have it, fix it up, and decorate it.
 Without us even having to ask for a lower price, the shop owner offered it to us for less than half price! Perhaps he saw how much we loved and appreciated the first dollhouse. The incredible had happened, now what do we do?! We took some measurements, I told them I would think about it and let them know. When we got home the Izannah girls were pleading and trying to persuade me. After a couple of days, I decided whilst milking, where I do some of my best thinking, what was I waiting for?... the house had a wonderful look, it was made of good material, the color was perfect! We could use it with our dolls for our stories!
The Izannahs were thrilled!

Eliza, one of our Izannah Walker inspired dolls made by Margaret Flavin. Adventurous Eliza was the first one to climb up with their doll "Little Dear One" and Tillie Tinkham the seamstress mouse at Corgyncombe, to see Pumpkin House close up when it arrived.

  The Izannahs call their little doll "Little Dear One".  They placed Little Dear One on the front porch and she ran in, running as fast as her little feet could go from room to room up and down the stairs, through the doors and looking out the windows!

 Eliza and her sister Bridget looking up at the front.
It is sooo big!
 The dollhouse looks like a big ship!
 The ropes are for keeping it in place whilst traveling in the moving vehicle!

Izannah Walker inspired dolls Eliza, Bridget, and Emma, and their lovely clothing were made by Margaret Flavin.
 Tillie the mouse is excited, too!
 She can set up house under the floor boards in the cellar.

 Eliza talking to her cousin Emma about all the fun they will have! Tillie has climbed up into Emma's lap, whilst Little Dear One is looking down out the window.
This dollhouse was found in eastern Massachusetts and its portico resembles the portico of an old house in Salem.

  Eliza standing in front of the beautiful house.

  I found the little table that reminded me of Jane Austen's writing table exhibited at her house in Chawton, England. Atop my table is a writing slope, which is a portable desk that folds up into a box. Jane also had a very similar writing slope of her own. Jane's writing slope is now at the British Library.
How nice and cozy and inspiring, writing next to the

863 Park Avenue dollhouse!

 The dollhouse floors of Pumpkin House were covered with dust and you couldn't see what the wood looked like underneath.

 The dolls and I understand each other, when I was a little girl I had a playhouse to play in, too! A place to sweep and make tea and play dollies!

Emma and "Little Dear One" dusted and mopped and cleaned Pumpkin House. They put some furniture in the dollhouse that we already had. This is just the beginning!
 The dollhouse is in good shape, but some of the wallpaper will need to be replaced. What fun it will be to decide on wallpaper!

The playhouse that my Daddy made for me when I was a little girl. My playhouse had rose curtains, a line for my wash, a brick chimney that I insisted it needed, and a porch that eventually had window boxes for flowers, with picket fences up hill and down.

Through the windows, one can see a lovely view overlooking the Autumnal hills of Corgyncombe Country.

One can see the stairway through the doorway. See how nicely the floors cleaned up? The floors shine and there was even a design underneath all the dust!

On my desk at the Corgyncombe Library, "A is for Annabelle", illustrated and written by Tasha Tudor. It is about an old fashioned doll and some of her belongings from A to Z, such as her quilt, her hat with a feather, and her nosegay. "A is for Annabelle" is one of our favorite Tasha Tudor books! I placed real rose geraniums and forget-me-nots, some of the illustrated flowers in the border, on Tasha Tudor's illustration of Annabelle's skirt.

The inscription that Tasha wrote to me in the "A is for Annabelle" book:
 "To clever Diane, how I envy your spinning abilities!
 Tasha Tudor"

 A pretty scented geranium in bloom at Corgyncombe.

Emma gathering lemon verbena from the garden.

In her wheelbarrow Emma has gathered chamomile, sage, basil, calendula, borage, thyme, and feverfew.

The daisy-like flowers are chamomile.
In Beatrix Potter's "The Tale of Peter Rabbit", chamomile tea is what Mother Rabbit gave to the ailing Peter.

 Emma hanging some herbs on her drying rack.

Tasha Tudor in her kitchen at Corgi Cottage.
 Tasha took her little basket out and collected herbs from her garden to season the chickens that she was preparing for our supper.

In "A Basket of Herbs", edited by Mary Mason Campbell and illustrated by Tasha Tudor, the chapter about Sage includes  Tasha's drawing of a lady preparing a turkey using herbs that she had collected. Several corgis are nearby anticipating turkey dinner.

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

 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.

 A ribbon commemorating Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.

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.

Sweet Izzibeth, an Izannah Walker
inspired doll made by Paula Walton.
September 25th marked 196 years since Izannah Walker's birth.

High Dumpsie Dearie is an old English receipt for jam made with apples, pears, and plums with some bruised ginger. There is an abundance of apples this year at Corgyncombe. I made one batch of seven pints this year, now I am going to make another seven pints. High Dumpsie Dearie on toast is delicious!

Our Lydia Corgi in last winter's snow.

Eliakim May Corgi at tea time, sniffing muffins made from a receipt that Tasha gave me. Eliakim is named after my 5th great grandfather Eliakim May who was 1st cousin to Louisa May Alcott's great grandfather Samuel May.

I 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. We 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. We are so grateful to Tasha for showing us through her illustrations how delightful corgyn can be!

Emily Corgi amongst the leaves.

Ethlyn Corgi playing in the leaves.

Katrina Corgi
 Wool blankets that Diane wove are warming on the rack by the stove.

My photograph of Sarah and her friends setting just outside the sheep pasture, having cupcakes and May Day punch, in between going round the Maypole at one of our May Day celebrations.

Tasha Tudor drew "Afternoon Tea" from my photograph of Sarah and her friends having refreshments at our May Day celebration. Tasha illustrated a basket with a doll and flowers by Sarah's chair, how well she knew our Sarah!

Tasha and I often discussed spinning. We especially liked the old wheels. In the photograph is a spinning wheel like the one in the spinning book that I first acquired when I was learning to spin. I loved this wheel and oft' times dreamt of getting one like it. I called it my dream wheel! I finally found one just like the one in the book!

Tasha Tudor spinning on one of my wheels.

Pumpkin House

Little Dear One sitting on the steps thinking "What fun it would be to have little friends my own size to play with in Pumpkin House..." Maybe her dream will come true!

863 Park Avenue
Here is a link to our post about the other, smaller dollhouse that we acquired, 863 Park Avenue, and some delightful discoveries:
 A Dollhouse, Beatrix Potter and Susan Branch!
863 Park Avenue Meets England!

Here is a link to:
Tasha Tudor and Family
copyright © 2013 Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson