Get to know Debra Brown

Please join me in welcoming Debra Brown, author and  founder of the English Historical Fiction Author’s Blog to visit with me this morning.

When did you first start writing?Cover of Compaion of Lady Holmeshire

I wrote during high school. It was more or less a diary, but I spent some time with it daily.

What did you do with your earliest efforts? Did anyone read them? Did you still have them?

This is something I had actually forgotten for a long time, but someone read it, ridiculed it and shared my information with others. I destroyed it. Perhaps that is why I did not write again for so long.

What made you choose to write in the genres/time periods you write in?

I love Jane Austen, the Brontes and Dickens. I also love the poetry that came from the same era. I love the era. Continue reading

History A'la Carte 12-27-12

How about some barley soup done up Regency style to enjoy with your History a’la Carte.

And now, a  new installment of History a’la Carte for your Thursday enjoyment. I am always amazed to find out how much I didn’t know that I didn’t know.


Christmas Traditions: Mine and Jane Austen's

Christmas decorationsI love Christmas traditions. When my husband and I married, back in the Dark Ages I think, we got to decide what holiday traditions we wanted to establish for our family. One of our favorites is that he always makes Christmas breakfast. He does something different each year and usually keeps it a secret from our boys until that morning. Now, he doesn’t cook much so some years the results have been interesting, but that’s part of the fun of it all.

Neither of our families did Christmas stocking, but we decided to.  We open the stockings before breakfast. The boys never know what will appear in their stockings. It is my job to come up with fun and creative little gifts for them.  This is one of those places where having boys makes things much more interesting.  Girls are so much easier in this regard, nail polish, lipstick, hair accessories, fun jewelry, all things which easily fit in a Christmas stocking.  Boy stuff however, especially teen-aged boy stuff is entirely a different matter! So I have to get pretty creative. They tell me they look forward to seeing what I come up with each year. No pressure on mom at all!

Every year we make something together, ornaments when the boys were smaller, Christmas candies and other goodies, now that they boys are bigger. One of our favorite quick candy recipes is for

Rocky road candyRocky Road Candy

  • 1 bag chocolate chips
  • 1 bag mini mashmallows
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup peanuts
  • 1 cup ‘button’ candy like M&M’s or Reeses Pieces

Melt the chocolate chips. I like to use the microwave, just a minute or a minute and a half usually. Mix the remaining ingredients. Pour melted chocolate over the mixture and stir until evenly covered.  Turn out on to waxed paper and allow to set. Cut in serving sized pieces.

Our Christmas dinner is often very unique. Our favorite thing to do is make a variety of finger foods and have a game night with favorite family games or a movie night with new movie gifts. So while everyone else at the grocery is looking for turkeys, I’m heading for Little Smokies for pigs in blankets. Unusual, yes, but its one of those things the guys look forward to and will always remember.

Merry ChristmasChristmas traditions have been around a long time and Jane Austen and her family would have likely have enjoyed a number of them like Christmas pudding, sugar plums, mince pies, and playing parlour games during the twelve nights of Christmas festivities.

Although these videos are titled, ‘Victorian’ these are traditions that were present in Jane Austen’s day as well and are a great way to share some of our favorite author’s Christmas traditions.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

How to make a Christmas pudding

How to make a sugar plums

How to make mince pies

Parlour games to play

How to make Wassail

How to make a mistletoe ball

History A'la Carte 12-20-12

How about a picnic to enjoy with your History a’la Carte.

And now, a  new installment of History a’la Carte for your Thursday enjoyment. I am always amazed to find out how much I didn’t know that I didn’t know.

Get to know Kim Rendfeld

Please join me in welcoming Kim Rendfeld this morning. I hope you enjoy getting ot know her as much as I have.

Kim RendfeldWhen did you first start writing?

I probably started storytelling by playing with my dolls. In middle school, I switched to drawing. Yet I’ve always enjoyed reading and fell in love with the Lord of the Rings series as an adolescent. I got the writing bug when I was in high school. I sketched stories for four fantasy novels and even typed up a fantasy on a typewriter I named Cecil.

What did you do with your earliest efforts? Did anyone read them? Did you still have them?

I remember telling my best friend about two of my stories and showed her some of my sketches and maybe some of what I typed, but my earliest efforts wound up in a desk drawer. Then I went off to college and thought of them only sometimes, intending to get back to them someday. I was distracted by college studies, then a career in journalism.

I don’t know what happened to those stories. They might be in a box in my barn or my mother’s basement. Continue reading

Happy Birthday Jane Austen!

Post is closed for comments now, thank you.

Join in the birthday fun and share some of our favorite Jane Austen passages and some giveaway goodies. Leave me a comment on this post for a chance to win a lighthearted Darcy themed mousepad. Make sure you include a contact email so I can notify the winner. Comments will be closed 12/18/12 at midnight.

Austen SoireeOne of my favorite Jane Austen moments from Persuasion:

The revolution which one instant had made in Anne, was almost beyond expression. The letter, with a direction hardly legible, to “Miss A.

E.–,” was evidently the one which he had been folding so hastily. While supposed to be writing only to Captain Benwick, he had been also

addressing her! On the contents of that letter depended all which this world could do for her. Anything was possible, anything might be

defied rather than suspense. Mrs Musgrove had little arrangements of her own at her own table; to their protection she must trust, and

sinking into the chair which he had occupied, succeeding to the very spot where he had leaned and written, her eyes devoured the following


“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half

hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your

own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an

earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been,  weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have

brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not

waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant

hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others.

Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do elieve that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe

it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W. “I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.”

Visit the other Soiree sites!

1. My Jane Austen Book Club 2. aobiblioclassique™
3. Jane Odiwe Jane Austen Sequels 4. Miss Jane
5. Random Bits of Fascination 6. Dark Jane Austen Book Club
7. Indie Author Meets Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice 8. El Salon de Te de Jane
9. Susan Kaye at Jane Started It! 10. Austenprose: A Jane Austen Blog
11. Library Mosaic 12. Sharon Lathan, Novelist
13. 14. Kinx’s Book Nook
15. A country dreaming mum 16. Sally Smith O’Rourke
17. inflammation of… 18. The writings and ramblings of Colette Saucier

Plum Pudding and a little History A'la Carte 12-13-12

Today’s offering, a little plum pudding with a side of History a’la carte

800 years of Plum PuddingChristmas PUdding

Few foods can trace their history back through multiple centuries. Plum pudding stands out as one of those few. It began in Roman times as a pottage, a meat and vegetable concoction prepared in a large cauldron. Dried fruits, sugar and spices might be added to the mix as well.

Another ancestor to the plum pudding, porridge or frumenty appeared in the fourteenth century. A soup-like fasting dish containing meats, raisins, currants, prunes, wine and spices, it was eaten before the Christmas celebrations began. By the fifteenth century, plum pottage a soupy mix of meat, vegetables and fruit was served to start a meal.

As the seventeenth century opened, frumenty evolved into a plum pudding. Thickened with eggs, breadcrumbs, and dried fruit, the addition of beer and spirits gave it more flavor and increased its shelf life. Variants were made with white meat, though gradually the meat was omitted and replaced by suet. The root vegetables also disappeared. By 1650, the plum pudding had transformed from a main dish to a dessert, the customary one served at Christmas. Not long afterward though, plum pudding was banned by Oliver Cromwell because he believed the ritual of flaming the pudding harked back to pagan celebrations of the winter solstice.

George I, sometime called the Pudding King revived the dish in 1714 when he requested that plum pudding be served as part of his royal feast to celebrate his first Christmas in England. Subsequently it became entrenched as part of traditional holiday celebrations, taking its final form of cannon-ball of flour, fruits, suet, sugar and spices, all topped with holly in the 1830’s. In 1858 it was first dubbed the Christmas Pudding, recorded as such in Anthony Trollope‘s Doctore Thorne…

Plum pudding traditions

With a food so many centuries in the making, it is not surprising to find many traditions have evolved around the making and eating of plum pudding.

The last Sunday before Advent is considered the last day on which one can make Christmas puddings since they require aging before they are served. It is sometimes known as ‘Stir-up Sunday‘. This is because opening words of the main prayer in the Book of Common Prayer of 1549 for that day are:

“Stir-up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Choir boys parodied the prayer.

 “Stir up, we beseech thee, the pudding in the pot. And when we do get home tonight, we’ll eat it up hot.”

Christmas pudding is prepared with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and the 12 apostles then it is “stirred up” all family members who must take a hand in the stirring, using a special wooden spoon (in honor of Christ’s crib). The stirring must be done clockwise, from east to west to honor the journey of the Magi, with eyes shut, while making a secret wish.

After the family stirred the pudding, tiny charms might be added to the pudding to reveal their finders’ fortune. The trinkets often included a thimble (for spinsterhood or thrift), a ring (for marriage), a coin (for wealth), a miniature horseshoe or a tiny wishbone for good luck, and an anchor for safe harbor.

When the pudding was served, a sprig of holly was placed on the top of the pudding as a reminder of Jesus’ Crown of Thorns that he wore when he was killed. Flaming the pudding, as described by Dickens was believed to represent the passion of Christ and represent Jesus’ love and power. It is also a key part of the theatrical aspect of the holiday celebration…

Read the entire article here:  800 years of Plum Pudding at English  Historical Fiction Authors

And now, a  new selection of History a’la Carte for your Thursday enjoyment.


History A'la Carte 12-6-12

How about a dinner to enjoy with your History a’la Carte.

And now, a  new installment of History a’la Carte for your Thursday enjoyment. I am always amazed to find out how much I didn’t know that I didn’t know.

Get to know Elizabeth Marshall

This morning I am hosting Elizabeth Marshall.  I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.

Thank you so much, Maria, for hosting me on your site and taking the time to do this interview. It is a great honour to be here.

  • When did you first start writing?

I’ve used the written word to create ‘fantasy worlds’ ever since I can remember, but it wasn’t until very recently that I decided to turn those creations into books.

  • What did you do with your earliest efforts? Did anyone read them? Did you still have them?

*Smiling*, those early efforts made their way into the bin well before anyone had the chance to read them.

  • What made you choose to write in the genres/time periods you write in?

A book my mother gave me when I was about fourteen called ‘Forever Amber’, by Kathleen Winsor, was responsible for my obsession with History and the telling of Historically based stories. An over-active imagination is responsible for the fantasy elements of my stories. Continue reading