Thursday, July 31, 2014

"More helpful than all wisdom is one draught of simple pity that will not forsake us”

From our humble beginnings in the fall of 2007, to our first east coast event in Pennsylvania earlier this summer, the Widow Black Coffeehouse has been a labor of love. We have grown so much in those 7 years,. It's sometimes hard to believe it hasn't been longer. 

The earliest demonstration table, 2008
The current demonstration table, 2012
We expanded from a single table under a borrowed awning, to a 20' x 30' arrangement with separate coffee space & dedicated kitchen. The simple coffee demonstration has expanded to include all hot beverages from the era and has developed into a dedicated first person interpretive space as well. Long gone are the days of roasting in an open pan or brewing 1 pot of coffee for the entire day. These days we roast & brew constantly just to keep up with demand, offer period documented meals as well as other period entertainments for the enjoyment of other reenactors. We are frequently not only the first camp awake in the morning, but the last hold out of laughter & sociability long after others have turned in for the night.

Before the kitchen expansion, 2012
After the kitchen expansion, 2014

Today the Coffeehouse has reached the point where we can't continue to grow without help from fans like you! 

We would be ENORMOUSLY HONORED by anyone sharing this link & contributing to the fund that will enable us to rent a vehicle & bring the Coffeehouse to Mississinewa 1812 this year. There are even rewards in it for every funding level!

Above all, we want to thank everyone who has supported the coffeehouse over the past 7 years. Whether it was simply by sitting & enjoying a cup of coffee with us, donating your energy by chopping fire wood or hauling water, promoting us on Facebook and other social media or inviting us to set up at events, we owe each of you more than can ever be repaid. It is thanks to fans like you that we have grown so far in such little time, without ever sacrificing our dedication to historical accuracy!

Thank You, from the bottom of our coffee dishes!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Life is a foreign language: all men mispronounce it

or Easy foreign language for first person interpreters.

The contrast : a French prisoner in England ; an English prisoner in France. 
1758. Lewis Walpole Library Digital Collection

As anyone who has been reading this blog, or visiting with me at events over the past several years knows, I am a huge proponent of first person interpretation. During the course of my time presenting & interacting not only with the public but with other reenactors in this manner I have run across several popular excuses that folks like to use for why they don’t join me in the fun of first person interpretation.

Today I’d like to debunk one of those excuses and hopefully offer some alternatives for those struggling with first person interpretation or who are interested in getting started.

Using Foreign Language!

First off, it’s great that I need to talk about this subject. Why? Because it means that we aren’t just portraying the average American or Englishman, but that people are interested in portraying the wide variety of nationalities that populate the historic world. This in itself is a fantastic thing! But portraying someone of a non-English speaking nationality is not without its difficulties. The biggest of these, especially for anyone doing first person, is how to deal with a foreign language.

So what options do you have if your heart is set on portraying a non-English speaking person, but you don't speak a lick of the language? That really depends on how determined you are, both in your first person & your dedication to language learning. Are you planning on making this persona your primary focus or is it just a whim to try at the rare event? Are you obsessed like I am, or more of a first person dabbler? Either way, using foreign language properly adds to both first person portrayals & to events as a whole.

The “Sprinkle” Technique of Foreign Language First Person

How can you quickly give the impression of being a non-English speaker in first person, without spending years learning another language? Key words & phrases of course! A friend coined this the “sprinkle technique” because we are using a few key words, sprinkled in with mostly English. It's just enough of the target language to remind the public that you are portraying a foreign speaker but not so much that anyone who doesn't speak the language is confused. It's like in Star Trek shows, where we know the characters speak different languages, but we suspend our disbelief just long enough & accept everyone speaking English besides a few choice terms in their native language (Qapla anyone?).

What are key words & phrases? They are those simple words usually found at the beginning of language books & audio tapes. They are the first for a few obvious reasons; they are easy to learn & they are the words you need to know now when talking to a native speaker. They are the things you say to the lady behind the counter at the coffeehouse in Paris, to the guy getting off the train in Prague or the kids running down the hall in Munich. Those words that everyone from toddlers to seniors know & use.

Now think about how the public at a historic event will react to those same, simple, but essential words when presented in the right context. A member of the public walks into the kitchen at a 16th century event & is greeted by the woman chopping garlic with a cheerful “hola”, or overhears 2 interpreters chatting in English yet when they part one yells “bis spater” & the other “tschuss”. Does that member of the public know exactly what was said? Maybe, maybe not. What they do know is that those first person interpreters, while they might have been speaking in English for the majority of the time, are not portraying English speakers.

Key Words to Learn & When to Use Them

General greetings & goodbyes. If you are going to learn absolutely nothing else, at least learn how to say hello & good bye in your persona's native language. Obviously these words are best used when the public enters or exits a room, or when another first person interpreter joins you. Beyond having an obvious use, the fact that hello & goodbye are used at the beginning & end of interactions is also important. By starting with a single word in your persona's language, you are telling the public a vital piece of information: you are portraying a non-English speaker. Imagine that, one word & they know something about you! Doesn't matter if that is the only dang word you know in your target language & it took 6 months to learn to say it properly! The same goes for saying goodbye. By closing in your persona's language you are giving them a solid reminder of who they were interacting with, a reminder that will stick with them long after the door closes.

France Freedom Britain Slavery. James Gillray. 1789. National Portrait Gallery.
Yes, no, I don't know. In addition to greeting others in your persona's language, being able to easily answer simple questions should be high on the list of words to learn. The simplicity of “yes, no, I don't know” is two fold. First, each has it's own pantomime. No matter what language the public or interpreters speak, everyone understands a vigorous head shake, a big smile & a nod or a shrug of the shoulders. Add in the rudimentary “ya” and you've conveyed not only that you are a non-English speaker, but that you agree with what has been said.

Why is “I don't know” included in this list? Because as living historians there are always going to be times when we simply don't know the answer. Saying it while maintaining the language makes it easier to stay in first person rather than slipping. Plus it's useful for those rare times you happen to run into an actual native speaker & need a quick out if they start speaking a mile a minute in a language you only know 5 words in. Believe me, it will happen & you will be thankful for that little out and a good laugh with the person who really thought you understood them.

Trade Terminology. So you've got the bare essentials down but would still like to add more to your first person foreign language vocabulary without going over board. There are a lot of words out there to choose from, where do you start? With things that your persona would actually have reason to say of course! Will a gunsmith ever need to explain turnip stew to the public, probably not, but a cook might. Knowing what that recipes would have been called in your persona's native language, using it when the public asks what is in the pot & then explaining to them (in English) that it is a turnip stew while showing them the roots demonstrates that your persona is a non-English speaker, but doesn't neglect the public's desire to learn & have their questions answered.

The inability to share information with the public while in first person, especially when that first person is a non-English speaker, is a common concern that is eliminated with the sprinkle technique. We often have to explain unfamiliar English words to the public when discussing historic objects, those terms being in a foreign language is no different. In a way the trade specific terminology itself becomes the springboard to educating the public rather than limiting their experience. Plus, given a “funny” name, even turnip stew can be entertaining.

How to Learn Key Words & Phrases (for Free!)

Thanks to the internet you can learn just about every language your heart could desire, for free. All you have to do is know where to look. Since we are only interested in a very simple words & phrases, most of the learning programs that focus on reading, writing & complex grammar are useless. Instead focusing on auditory based programs can make learning the necessary pronunciation fast and easy. Following are my favorite places for learning a variety of languages. In addition, free audio CDs from your local library can be a fantastic, free way to learn a language. Plus they are especially helpful for long car rides, say to far away events where you intend to use said language.

The Contrast. Thomas Rowlandson (printer). 1792. Lewis Walpole Library Online

Omniglot.  A huge, wandering, language loving website that has a section for “Useful Foreign Phrases”. Provides plenty of auditory files in enough languages that even the most obscure reenactor can find one to suit their needs. Great for learning just a few phrases but not much help in how to combine them into a full sentence or more.

Duolingo. My personal favorite for language learning. Very game-like with speech recognition on the phone app, lots of audio, visual & builds gradually over multiple lessons. The main drawback is that you have to actually learn the entire language, not just a few key phrases, so this might not be the best choice if minimalism is your goal.

As you can see, while the idea can be frightening at first, by using the sprinkle technique it is possible to portray a non-english speaking historical persona without also sacrificing your ability to educate the public. Hopefully I will get a chance to see some of you trying out this technique at a historic event in the near future. Until then adios, auf wiedersehen, do widzenia or how ever you choose to say it!

Monday, April 21, 2014

And the Water Was Spent in The Bottle

Or a quick recipt for orange shrub as served at the C. Black Coffeehouse, most suitable for birthday celebrations and other occasions of pleasure.

White wine of a sweet variety
Brandy of moderate quality
The juice of oranges, lemons & other citrus fruits
Peel of the same fruit
Fine sugar
Nutmeg, grated fine

Combine the citrus juice, nutmeg & brandy in a dark colored bottle, keeping it well closed for no less than 3 days. Unlike many common shrub recipes, this variation needs no long infusion period. In fact, the shorter wait makes it particularly suitable to last minute celebrations when no other punch can be properly made. On the day you wish to consume the shrub, combine the wine with the brandy infusion in a large bottle or bowl, keeping in mind the proper proportion of 3 parts wine to 4 parts brandy. Add sugar to taste. Strain through flannel if needed to remove sediment. Serve in small cordial or dedicated shrub glasses. Be prepared to readily refill the glasses as they are quickly emptied of this delicious liquor.

Works Cited

E. Smith, The Compleat Housewife or, Accomplished Gentlewoman's Companion (London, 1739)

John Daview, The Innkeeper and Butler's Guide, or, a Directory in the Making and Managing of British Wines (Leeds, 1810)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"No One Can Be Caught In Places He Does Not Visit"

 Or what to expect when visiting an 18th century coffee house or its 21st century recreation.

Mad Dog in a Coffeehouse, Thomas Rowlandson, 1809.
One cold day in December 1663, Samuel Pepys did what many men before him, and even more after him, would do; he went to the coffeehouse. He was greeted upon entering the central room of the Coffeehouse by a rotund yet energetic coffee man with an exclamation of “What news sir?” and the offer of a steaming dish of coffee, which Pepys took happily, adding just a bit of sugar to sweeten the bitter brew. From here he wound his way through the crowd to a heavy worn table which filled the center of the otherwise open room. Scattered across the wooden surface were various newspapers, a well-worn copy of the French play “Heraclius, Emperor of the East. A tragedy”, three flickering candles despite the daylight hour and, mixed among it all, dishes of coffee in every state of consumption. Surrounding the table Pepys found an assortment of men with whom he would share “very good discourse” some that he was well acquainted with, having shared conversations in the past, others that he had not yet met, a fact that did not limit their discussions in any way.

Among the coffeehouse patrons Pepys found the flamboyantly dressed “Secretary of the Virtuosi of Gresham College” with whom he would enjoy a “very fine discourse” concerning a newly invented instrument to be tried at the college the following day. Next his attention was drawn to a less academic but no less enthusiastic “discourse with an Iron Merchant” where Pepys discovered the difficulties experienced in that trade between the Swedes and English. A thin boy, no more than 12 years old scurried among the crowd, ensuring that the men's dishes of coffee remained well supplied. At the cost of only one penny a dish, the men were unlikely to complain about this constant attention, preferring instead to continually sip at the hot liquor without interrupting their adamant discussions.

The Discomfited Duellists, 1784.
From across the crowded room Pepys saw his good friend, taking his dish of coffee he left the iron merchant and crossed to “[sit] by Mr. Harrington, and some East country merchants” whom he found “talking of the country about Quinsborough” and “the manner of putting their nets into the water” during winter. Soon his attention was distracted by the vociferous argument at another table, as the patrons dispute the suggestion that “all the opinion now is that the Dutch will avoid fighting with us at home. . . ” Finally, Pepys found his acquaintance Mr. Harris, who he “was to meet” at the coffeehouse for business. The two eventually leave the coffeehouse but most certainly returned another time for the latest news, freshest advices and camaraderie of other gentlemen such as had been enjoyed that day.

Widow Black's Coffeehouse, 2012.

I can not promise that if you happen "to stroll into a little coffee-house", perhaps on the edge of a green field, the checkered floors & a lot hanging roof, that you will find such entertaining friends as Mr. Pepy's did, or the excitement that Mr. Rowlandson drew. However, I can promise a constant supply of the finest true English coffee, the freshest advices from around the colonies & indeed, across the seas. But most of all, I can promise an experience as true to that of the original English coffeehouses, an experience that no other reenactor or historian has attempted to duplicate purely for the enjoyment of their fellow reenactors. I look forward to seeing many of you at the Widow Black's Coffeehouse "this year", whether that is 1650, 1760 or 1812.

For more information on visiting the Widow Black's coffeehouse, the Widow's lecture schedule or to bring the coffeehouse to your event; Please Visit the Widow Black Coffeehouse on Facebook.

Works Cited

Chole White, Camaraderie of the Cup: The 18th century English coffeehouse & the development of an enlightened public sphere (2011). 

Thomas Rowlandson, Mad Dog in a Coffeehouse, 1809 (Museum of Fine Arts Boston).

Samuel Pepys, Mynors Bright, and Henry B. Wheatley, The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Transcribed by the Rev. Mynors Bright from the Shorthand Manuscript in the Pepysian Library at Magdalene College Cambridge Vol. 1 (New York: Heritage Press, 1942), 8 March, 1663/4.

Joseph Addison & Richard Steele, The Spectator, Volume 5 (Philadelphia: Robert Desilver, 1819).

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

You'll Get A Pie In The Sky When You Die

or making the ubiquitous Cheshire Pork Pie.

It seems everyone & their mother has made an 18th Century Cheshire Pork pie at some point. The origin of this pie's popularity likely comes from it being featured on Colonial Williamsburgs "History is Served" website. Popular among reenactors, would-be historic foodies & the occasional Anglophile, History is Served offers modern redactions of historic recipes from the 18th century. In this way it is useful for folks wanting to try something historic, while still using readily found ingredients, tools & standard measurements.

Although the original isn't particularly difficult, the Williamsburg's Cheshire pork pie is one of the most popular recipes from the site. Don't just take my word for it, check out Revolutionary Pie's version, 19th Century Cookery's take and The Regiment Cooksite's review. Those don't even take into account the folks, like me, who worked from the various historic versions as well, like Bite from the PastThe Historic Cookbook Trials.

I have an unnatural love for making pie in camp, as I'm sure those of you who have been following Slightly Obsessed over the last 7 years may have noticed. My first camp pie experience came on a whim. I simply had nothing special to do in camp that day, the coffeehouse was still in its infancy & there were no school children to educate. Instead I decided that I simply had to make a pie, despite not having a single ingredient or even a formal recipe beyond what I remembered from a very brief reading. The result was amazingly tasty & I'm afraid the success spoiled me for ever baking a pie any other way!

When it came time to make this most recent pie, I can at least say I was a bit more prepared. I have started hosting friends for dinners in the coffeehouse on Friday evenings. It's a nice way to begin the weekend; those of us who have been demonstrating at the school days are ready to sit back & relax after the hectic day & those that are just getting into camp are always happy to have dinner plans already taken care of by someone else while they tend to their own chores. So I knew that Mr. McF--- & his lovely wife would be joining me on this particularly cold & damp October evening. What better than a warm pie & a glass of shrub to warm up the evening with friends?

The Widow's Rogue Version of a Cheshire Pork Pie

  • Pork shoulder roast left over from a previous dinner.
  • A couple of potatoes from the coffeehouse larder.
  • Some apples, because you always have a few rolling around in camp.
  • A Splash of white wine & an extensive conversation with the new servant Jane on what constitutes a proper splash. 
  • A pinch of Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Mace, Salt, Pepper & what ever other spices sound good at the time.
  • 1 batch of "The Only Pie Crust I Know By Heart".

A Cheshire pork pie waiting for baking.


Get a good solid fire & base of coals going.

Dice & fry the pork in a bit of butter if it needs it. Cook only until it is no longer pink but not so long that it becomes dry. Historic recipes tend to put the pork directly into the pie but we can't completely forget modern food safety.

While the pork is cooking, slice the potatoes & apples. Make sure to feed a few of those apple slices to the 3 year old who is now starving after a day of playing in camp & can't wait for formal dinner time.

Make a double pie crust. I have a standard pie crust memorized & can duplicate it in camp, whenever the whim strikes. Use what ever is your favorite.

Get to assembling your pie, finally!

Lay 1 crust in the bottom of your pie plate. Pile in as much of the pork, apples & potatoes as you can comfortably fit into the plate. This will cook down, but not by much so keep that in mind when filling.

Sprinkle your seasonings over the filling. We used salt, pepper, cinnamon & nutmeg but sage might have been a nice choice.

Add a splash of white wine, just enough to add a little moisture to the filling mix but not so much that it leaves the pie crust soggy. My servant insists this amount is "2-3 tablespoons" but I refuse to be that scientific about my cooking. While you are at it, add the remaining white wine to the very large bottle of shrub waiting for the evenings revelry.

Cover your pie with the second pie crust & decorate according to your personal preference & the quality of the expected dinner guests. I went with a very simple fork pressed edge & a few venting slits on the top, pretty but practical for a meal with the local distiller & his wife.

Set-up your bake kettle with a trivet in the bottom to prevent the pie bottom from coming in direct contact with the hot kettle. Place the prepared pie into the kettle & cover, topping with a few hot coals.

Rotate the kettle & lid in opposite directions in roughly 15 minute increments to ensure even baking. Check the pie after 30-45 minutes, depending on the strength of the fire. Our pie was finished, in fact a little burned on one corner, after only 45 minutes. However, it could take as much as an hour & a half, so be patient.

Remove from the fire, serve & enjoy.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Since Evolution Became Fashionable

Or, the 5 year evolution of my 1550-1610 Flemish Market Woman's Impression.

There is a common feeling among new reenactors that you must do everything Right Now, must have all the clothes, the accessories, the weapons. All of it & in no short order. While part of that feeling is understandable when falling in love with a new hobby like reenacting, it is often times not the best approach.

Flemish Market Woman v1.0 circa 2008
Reenacting is a time consuming, money devouring, all encompassing hobby. Really the only ways to go about fully developing a complete, historically accurate impression is either to be some kind of independently wealthy play-boy who really likes old stuff, or to take your time & allow the kit to grow & evolve with you.

5 years ago, I set about making a Flemish Market Woman's outfit, not because I had any special plans for it to become a long term part of my reenacting hobby, but because my friend Kass, the force behind Reconstructing History, had some ideas about the cut of the clothes that I couldn't believe without seeing for myself. In the week before a local Renaissance Faire, I managed to put together a fairly accurate, comfortable outfit. But, because of the time constraint & the fact that I didn't intend to wear the outfit more than once or twice, I didn't really worry too much about making every accessory. My kit was bare bones, filled in with a few choice pieces (petticoat, shift, stockings & shoes) borrowed from my 18th century wardrobe. I even went so far as to borrow my 18th century straw hat & scrounged all the baskets, pottery & containers I could find in all my other reenacting periods just to fill out the impression without having to do any new purchases.

Flemish Market Woman v1.0 circa 2008
That is where my Flemish Market Woman sat until 2012. Sure I would wear it every year to the local Renaissance Faire or winter trade show, but I never needed to move beyond that very simple, half borrowed kit. That was until some friends invited me to the Bristol Renaissance Faire for a day of drinking & debauchery (mostly drinking).

Suddenly, I was seeing all the flaws in my quick costume! The pinned on sleeves were just a tad to short. I really needed the black partlet to help hold my bust at the right height. My old 17th century men's shoes were no where near what would have actually been worn at the time. Worse, some of the short-cuts I had taken to get the clothes wearable, were starting to actually damage that same wear-ability. Most notable was the constant poking of the lace through the front of the kirtle. Sure it meant that I didn't have to sew lacing rings or eyelets at first, but the more I wore it, the more those holes tore the fabric. Clearly it was time to consider up grading my Flemish Market Woman kit.

Flemish Market Woman v2.0 circa 2012
First up were the shoes, I had a pair of wooden shoes I had purchased on a whim in Holland, MI several years earlier. While I can't definitively say that Flemish Women wore these shoes, their feet don't appear in images all that often or clearly, there was a pair much like mine in Pieter Aertsen's "The Egg Dance" painting from 1557. Since they were already in my wardrobe, & frankly not getting used for anything more than a door stop, I decided to use them. As it turns out, the public is awed by wooden shoes. I would get stopped no matter where I was going by multiple people with the usual question "Are those comfortable and/or hard to walk in".

Next up was a quick replacement pair of pin on sleeves. This time from some nice burgundy wool that was floating around in my fabric stash. I added a bit to the length to solve the too short problem of the previous pair & called them done.

The black partlet had been made during the first incarnation of the Flemish Market Woman's outfit, but for some reason, I hardly ever wore it. This time around I did, layering it over the plain white partlet. This gave me both just enough extra support in the bust but also brought the look even closer to that seen in many genre paintings from the era.

Flemish Market Woman v2.0 circa 2012
Now that all the old pieces were starting to look better, I decided to add a few more dedicated accessories & details to enhance the impression. Rather than wearing the bright yellow apron, I began tucking the front of the kirtle into my waist tie. This creates the very distinctive double layer look seen in paintings & quite frankly, is a lot cooler on hot summer days at Bristol than wearing the wool portion down all the time.

The last new addition to the second incarnation of the Flemish Market Woman was the "Rams Horns", or wired coif, worn on the head. This had seemed like such a daunting piece of clothing when I first made the outfit that I hadn't even considered making one. Boy was I wrong! It is nothing more than a rectangle of nice linen, with a wire sewn to the front edge. Of course, all that rolled hemming around the sides of the rectangle was enough to make me need a stiff drink, but once finished, ironed & starched, it was well worth the effort. The biggest obstacle was learning how to fold it up & over my head, pin it in place & get it to stay there. Nothing adding a few more straight pins doesn't fix!

Flemish Market Woman v2.5 circa 2013
It was about this time that I realized that for all the years I had worn this outfit, I still hadn't made the distinctive red jacket. It was that jacket that I really liked & seemed to gravitate towards in paintings. Yet it was the one piece missing from my own wardrobe. Of course, up until this year, every event that I wore the Flemish Market Woman outfit to had been during a hot, usually close to 90*, summer day. There was no real need for another layer of clothing. The Early Modern Muster of Arms in April was about to change that!

The Early Modern Muster of Arms (EMMA) would be my first over night camping experience with the Flemish Market Woman impression. Add to that the events focus on first person immersion, the potential for temperamental Midwestern spring weather & my growing interest in the slightly later 1580's era and you naturally get a reason to make that missing red jacket.

It was during a group sewing day that I finally pulled out the vivid red wool broadcloth I had purchased from Wm. Booth Draper just for this project. The jacket itself is more of an origami project than a sewing one, much like the matching kirtle. However, it was also extremely easy to make. I decided that this would be a good project to try out a new seam finishing technique that I had recently read about, the Elizabethan Seam. After all, I would be hand sewing the jacket anyway & there weren't any places where this seam treatment would interfere with pieces or shaping. The jacket is, after all, mostly a big folded rectangle with big rectangle sleeves.

Flemish Market Woman v2.9 circa 2013
Along with finally making the red jacket, I added a proper pair of leather shoes for the impression which were much safer while working in the kitchen than my usual wooden shoes. I also became determined that I had to have a new white partlet with a ruffled neck for EMMA. Little did I recall how much "fun" rolled hems are. Nor did I consider the sheer length of fabric that is needed to create a properly ruffled neck! As the event came & went, I was still hemming on that darned ruffle.

By the opening of Bristol in June of this year I had finally, after much swearing & a few very long movie marathons, finished the hemming, gathering, sewing, starching & shaping needed to finish the ruffled partlet. All that work for something that can barely be seen in a photograph! Oh well. It looks fantastic when worn & is spot on for what we see in paintings from the later portion of the 16th & early 17th centuries. The best part is now that I have made one, I don't have to consider making another for long, long time. Hopefully by then I will have forgotten just how much work it really takes to make one.

As you can see, over the years my Flemish Market Woman impression has grown & developed. It started out highly authentic, hand sewn from linen & wool & based on solid research into art of the time. But for as good as it was, there were still improvements to be made and pieces that could be added as time, interest & need allowed. This just goes to show that while it might be exciting to start reenacting a new time period (or at all), not everything has to happen at once. Heck, sometimes it takes years!

What's next for the Flemish Market Woman's impression you ask? Cloth hose, a nicer cap to wear under the coif, maybe another new pair of sleeves since I accidentally threw the burgundy pair in the dryer. Who knows. Just like with the evolution of life, sometimes the evolution of an impression just has to happen the way it happens.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Gone, but Not Forgotten

Rest assured dear readers, I am still here. Life has taken a few surprising turns in the last year. My love of reenacting had to take a back seat for several months and I am only now getting back to the place that I once was. Never once during all that transition did I ever consider giving up my reenacting.

Quite the opposite in fact! The longer I was forced to be away, the more I plotted & planned for a grand return. This new year and new outlook on my reenacting hopes, dreams & goals has resulted in a lot of growth. I now can officially add 1580s Flemish & WW2 German to my permanent reenacting portrayals. I have successfully enlarged my 18th century coffeehouse, have had the pleasure of presenting to museum visitors & come the end of the 2013 season, will have completed my busiest year ever with more than 20 events in various time periods. This year also marks the 3rd year of first person interpretation at the C. Black Coffeehouse.

But the year isn't over yet! I hereby promise that along with all the revamping of my reenacting, I will also make an effort to revitalize this long standing blog.  I have some juicy research on historic salads, a lovely 19th C gentleman's waistcoat project & several other tidbits that I'm sure you all will enjoy. So stay tuned!


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