Monday, February 25, 2013

Copper Tones

When trend-setting fashion designer Coco Chanel was pictured in the press with tanned skin, black (at least for whites) became beautiful. 

This was the first time in history that being tan was associated with leisure, sports, and the upper class, and not with laborers who had to work in the field.

 -- Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger --
Friday, February 22, 2013

My Friday Love (3)

Happy Friday!

A Girls' Only Weekend. 
All fun.  No stress.  What's not to love?  My BFF and I spent the last four days on an amazing all-gal getaway to the Rosario Resort & Spa on Orcas Island.  

We slept in every day.  We dined out.  We worked out in the resort gym.  We soaked in the hot tub.  We watched movies.  We chatted.  We read a little.  I even managed to write 500 words on my Highlander WIP while my friend enjoyed a spa treatment. 

Orcas Island.  Orcas Island, as any who have visited can tell you, is a beautiful place.  The "Emerald Island" -- the largest of the San Juan Islands in Washington State -- has breathtaking sunsets, rolling hills, dense forest, cute little shops, and a gorgeous shoreline.  My BFF has been vacationing on Orcas for years, and I've often joined her on the island.  However, this was my first time staying at the Moran Mansion at the Rosario Resort & Spa.  I hope it wont' be the last.  It's a wonderful resort.

Home.  Even though I've had tons-o-fun on my girlfriend vacation, I've missed my hubby and our Doxies very much.  Loath as I am to leave island life behind, I'm anxious to get home quickly because today my sweet girl Doxie is having dental surgery to remove two cracked teeth.  She's freakishly attached to me, so it's hard not to be there when she arrives and leaves the vet's office.  The only good thing is that she'll likely be too drugged up on meds to notice I'm not home yet.  I can guarantee I'll be snuggling a Doxie tonight.  =)

What are you loving this week? 
Saturday, February 16, 2013

Bedroom Thighs

As women's skirts began to slim down, men, thrilled at the chance to get close to their dates, started trimming back their breeches, too. 

 Henry Cavill as Charles Brandon, The Tudors (2007-2010)

Indeed, even by the early decades, most breeches gained their girth from stiff interfacing, rather than from sawdust and bran.  Very soon, the pumpkin breeches craze was completely squashed.

Breeches, circa 1611
Matthew Mcfayden as Athos, Ray Stevenson as Porthos, Luke Evans as Aramis
The Three Musketeers (2011)
Now men opted for full, longer cloak-bag breeches, narrowing at the knee, where they were tied with a fringed sash or edged with lace.  By the 1630's, breeches grew longer still and ended in loops of ribbons, often with the bottoms left open to flap gamely about the legs.

circa 1630
Robert Rich, Earl of Warwick, Painted in 1633 by Daniel Mytens

Portrait of Lord John Stuart and his brother Lord Bernard Stuart, circa 1638. 
Painted by Sir Anthony van Dyck
Then, in the 1650's, pants gained a new boudoir allure as rhinegraves or petticoat breeches

Their legs were so wide -- each might have been more than five feet around -- that they looked like divided skirts.  Ruffles, lace, and embroidery trimmings on these bloomers enhanced their lingerie appeal.  Sorry, ladies; men only.

Emperor Leopold I of Austria, circa 1660 by Jan Thomas.

But toward the end of the 1600's, possibly out of embarrassment for all these excesses, breeches all but disappeared from view.  Streamlined to become the knee breeches of the 18th century, they barely peeped out from beneath men's long slim coats and waistcoats to cover the tops of knee-high hose.

  James Purefoy as Beau Brummel in Beau Brummel: This Charming Man (2006)

Russell Crowe as Capt. Jack Aubrey in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

-- Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger --

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day in Tudor England

Happy Valentine's Day!

I adore Valentine's Day.  I like everything about it: The red velvet heart-shaped boxes of candy, the sappy greeting cards, the bouquets of pink and red roses, the grand romantic gestures.  It's a special day to me.  It's the day my V-Day sweetheart (a.k.a. my hubby) asked me to be his girlfriend.  And it is the day, years later, when he asked me to marry him.  =)

In her book, Pleasures & Pastimes in Tudor England, Alison Sim writes of how the Tudors celebrated St. Valentine's Day.  It is mentioned three times in the Paston Letters in the 1470's.

Apparently, "valentines were chosen by lot from among a group of friends, who then had to buy their valentine a gift".  Sim goes on to describe how the steward's accounts of the household of William Petre show lengths of cloth and gold trinkets being given to valentines who were chosen by lot and that one year "one of the maids was even fortunate enough to draw Sir William himself one year, and was given a whole quarter's extra wages as her valentine" -- lucky girl!

Of course, there is no way of knowing whether drawing of lots was a general countrywide custom, but Valentine's Day would have been another opportunity to inject a bit of fun into the dreary English winter.

Whatever Tudor people did to celebrate Valentine's Day, you can bet they wrote "passionate scribbles".  Henry VIII wrote Anne Boleyn a collection of love letters, which still survive today and are housed in the Vatican Library.  How they ended up there, I don't know, but the most likely explanation according to Claire Ridgway, the writer and creator of The Anne Boleyn Files, is that they were stolen from Anne Boleyn to provide evidence of her relationship with the King.  Unfortunately, we don't have Anne's replies but the letters are evidence of Henry VIII's romantic side and his strong feelings for Anne.

Let's honor this holiday of love by taking a look at the first love letter Henry VIII gave to Anne Boleyn, written sometime after she retired to Hever after May 1527.

In turning over in my mind the contents of your last letters, I have put myself into great agony, not knowing how to interpret them, whether to my disadvantage, as you show in some places, or to my advantage, as I understand them in some others, beseeching you earnestly to let me know expressly your whole mind as to the love between us two.

It is absolutely necessary for me to obtain this answer, having been for above a whole year stricken with the dart of love, and not yet sure whether I shall fail of finding a place in your heart and affection, which last point has prevented me for some time past from calling you my mistress; because, if you only love me with an ordinary love, that name is not suitable for you, because it denotes a singular love, which is far from common.  But if you please to do the office of a true loyal mistress and friend, and to give up yourself body and heart to me, who will be, and have been your most loyal servant, (if your rigour does not forbid me) I promise you that not only the name shall be given you, but also that I will take you for my only mistress, casting off all others besides you out of my thoughts and affections, and serve you only.  I beseech you to give an entire answer to this my rude letter, that I may know on what and how far I may depend.  And if it does not please you to answer me in writing, appoint some place where I may have it by word of mouth, and I will go thither with all my heart.  No more, for fear of tiring you.  Written by the hand of him who would willingly remain yours, H.R.

Want more?  Click here to read the 17 love letters Henry VIII wrote to Anne Boleyn.

-- Copy and photo courtesy of The Anne Boleyn Files --
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday: Belladonna

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and is a way to show off the books you can't wait to be released.  This week I choose...

Secrets of the Eternal Rose, Book 2
Author - Fiona Paul
Genre - Young Adult Historical
Publisher - Philomel
Release Date - July 16, 2013

In the second in the stunning Secrets of the Eternal Rose series, Cassandra Caravello is trying to forget Falco, the wild artist who ran off with her heart, as she grows closer to her strong, steady fiancé, Luca.  But Luca seems to have his own secrets.  When he's arrested by soldiers in the middle of the night, Cass's life is once again thrown into chaos.  She must save Luca, and that means finding the Book of the Eternal Rose -- the only evidence that will prove he's innocent.

So begins her journey to Florence, a city haunted by whispers of vampirism, secret soirees, and clandestine meetings of the Order of the Eternal Rose.  And home to Falco, who is working for the Order's eerily stunning leader, the Belladonna herself.

Can Cass trust her heart to lead her to the truth this time?

Nothing is as it seems in this seductive thriller, where the truth may be the deadliest poison of all.

I've yet to read Venom, the first book in this series, but I hope to very soon.  I like a good YA historical, and this sequel sounds just as good as the first book.
 -- Book blurb courtesy of Fiona Paul blogspot -- 
Saturday, February 9, 2013

National Read in the Bathtub Day

Rub a dub dub, it's a day to read in the tub!  Really.  I'm not making this up.  Today is National Read in the Bathtub Day

I have no idea of the origins of this day, just that it's some obscure holiday for book lovers.  And the perfect excuse to read a book in the bathtub, which just so happens to be my favorite place to read a book. 

So come on my fellow read in the bathtub loving friends.  Take a break from your computer and go pick out a good book.  Lock the bathroom door, pour your favorite bubble bath in the tub and fill it to the brim with hot water, then relax and enjoy yourself.   

Are you a bathtub reader?  If not, where is your favorite place to read? 
Friday, February 8, 2013

My Friday Love (2)

Happy Friday!

My Friday Love is a weekly meme, which spotlights the things you loved during the past week. 

The Dark Lady
.  It's dark.  It's angsty.  It's set in Victorian London.  I eagerly anticipated the release of this debut historical novel by Márie Claremont.  I'm nearly halfway through the book, and I'm utterly enthralled. The asylum setting is gritty and creepy.  The action is intense.  The flashbacks are heartbreaking.  The tale of lost love is haunting and beautifully written. I'm anxious to reach the end.

Quaker Rice Cakes.  I'd rather eat a sugary piece of birthday cake than a rice cake.  However, in an effort to eat healthier and maintain my weight, I've given Quaker Rice Cakes a try. 

Rice cakes don't taste as good as actual cake, of course, but they have WAY fewer calories.  Smeared with sugar-free Smuckers jelly, they aren't that bad.  In fact, I'm starting to like them quite a lot.  I may get creative and start topping them with Greek yogurt and berries or a light cheese spread.

Starbucks Coupons
.  I ♥ Starbucks.  They have tasty drinks and a nice atmosphere.  And good promotional deals.  I just received a buy one get one free coupon in my inbox.  Yay!  Guess where I'll be later. ;)

What I'm not loving this week
: The cancellation of the CW network's Emily Owens, M.D.  After only thirteen episodes!  Cue the screaming.

I adored this medical drama starring Mamie Gummer.  It was a charming show.  It was entertaining and cute.  It was funny and serious.  The characters were relatable, and the stories were real.  I loved the show from the beginning.  Why, CW, did you have to cancel this one?  And with a cliffhanger ending?!  Acckk! 

That's My Friday Love.  What are you loving (or not loving) this week?
Monday, February 4, 2013

Stepping Out

In 25,000 B.C., the caveman wrapped strips of hide around his feet and invented the first shoe.

From there it was only a short step to moccasins and, in the chill of the Ice Age, the first boots.

1,400-year-old moccasins found in an ice patch in the Ruby Range, Canada.

-- Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger --
Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cover Swoon Sunday: Those Nights In Montreal

The second book in The Language of Love Series by Beverley Kendall is due to be released next month.  The title is Those Nights in Montreal.  The cover art, created by uber-talented Kim Killion of The Killion Group Inc., is positively swoon-worthy.

That's one hawt kiss!!!
Friday, February 1, 2013

February Releases

February is the month of love, cold weather, and a Super Bowl.  It's time to celebrate African-American history and pay  heed to a groundhog named Punsuatawney Phil.  And, in case you need an excuse, this month is also a good time to buy books. 

Here are the novels on my must-buy list:


 The Chieftain by Margaret Mallory -- February 26
  X Marks the Scot by Victoria Roberts -- February 5

 Highlanders, kilts, and sexy Alphas! Oh my!

The Earl is Mine by Kieran Kramer -- February 26
Winterblaze by Kristen Callihan -- February 26

I haven't read a Kieran Kramer romance...yet.  But I want to read her House of Brady series, primairly because it's based an iconic TV show that I watched religiously as a kid.  The Earl of Mine is the second book in this series.

Winterblaze is the third installment in the Darkest London series.  I liked the first book a lot.  I really must read the second book soon so I can buy Kristen Callihan's latest release.  


Edge of Dawn by Lara Adrian -- February 26

The Midnight Breed series continues!  Yay 

Which books do you want to read this month?