Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Busy As A Bride

Holy moly, has it been a week since I last posted?  I have good excuses, I swear!  Just like the post title says, I have been busy- busy as a bride.

No no, I'm not really getting married.  For those who don't already know, I work for a living history museum that portrays life in the 19th Century.  Sometimes I do what is called "First Person Interpretation", which means that instead of just talking about what is was like to live back then, I act as though it really is that era and speak to visitors as such.  It's such a weird, but cool job.

Anyway, this past weekend my character got married. Re-married to be exact, as my first husband was killed at the battle of Gettysburg.  This time I married a man "old enough to be my...uncle", as he likes to say.  He too is a widower, so this was a second marriage for both.  That being said, we came up with the scenario that we were to be married in his parlor at home, I just wore the nicest dress I owned, and the ceremony was attended by just a few close family members and friends.  (One of which was John D. Rockefeller! At this date, he was only 24 years old and not the multi-millionaire we remember him as today.  He is from this area and is a business partner of my now-husband.  Fun huh?)

To follow suit with these plans I decided to make my own wedding cake.  This was not the elaborate affair that the wedding industry has made it into today, so I set my mind to finding an original recipe (or receipt as they were called back then) that I could make at work to demonstrate for the public.  In my research I found that at this time (1860's) a lot of brides still made cakes that were pretty plain by today's standards and quite often contained fruit.  Not exactly what I had in mind.  I kept searching until I found one that at least had a hint of what we think of wedding cake to be today.  Finally, I came up with this:

Snow or Brides Cake (The Young Housekeeper's Friend-1859):
A pound each of flour and sugar, half a pound of butter, and the whites of sixteen eggs, beaten to a stiff froth. Flavor it with rose water.

A pound of the best white sugar, the whites of three fresh eggs, a teaspoon of nice starch, pounded, and sifted through a piece of muslin or a very fine sieve, the juice of half a lemon and a few drops of the essence.
Beat the whites to a stiff froth, then add them to the sugar, and stir it steadily until it will stay where you put it. It will take nearly two hours, maybe more. Dredge a little flour over the cake, and brush it off with a feather. This is to prevent the frosting from being discolored by the butter contained in the cake. Lay it on smoothly
with a knife, and return the cake to the oven for twelve to fifteen minutes.

A little vague on some of the directions huh?  Not to mention heavy on the poultry ovum... (16 egg whites!)  As they did not bother to include cooking time or temp for the cake, I fired up my cast iron stove to a "moderate oven" temperature, aka 350ish for you modern cooks.  I honestly can't say how long it took because I was so busy with visitors I didn't even bother to look at the clock, but just kept checking it until it was golden on the outside and a toothpick came out clean from the center.

The frosting is what really gave me a problem.  After reading the recipe it sounded like it was supposed to be something like a meringue topping, but with a lot more sugar.  But, never having actually made a meringue before, I didn't really know what to expect.  And you can bet your life I wasn't going to spend 2+ hours whipping it by hand!  I'm dedicated to my job, but that is ridiculous!  Instead I took the frosting ingredients home and did it with an electric beater, and even then it took quite a while. The recipe also makes no mention of when to add the starch or lemon flavoring, so I added them after the eggs were "beaten to a stiff froth".  I then took the frosting back to work the next day and demonstrated the icing and re-baking of the cake, which did harden up the frosting in a semi-meringue way.

I didn't get a close up picture of the finished product, but if you look at this scene you can see it on the table all cut up:

And here is a close up of some of the leftovers:

If I had to re-write this recipe for the modern cook, it would go something like this:

Snow or Bride's Cake:
3 3/4 cups flour
2 1/4 cups sugar
2 sticks butter, softened
16 egg whites, beaten to a stiff froth
2-3 tablespoons rosewater
Combine ingredients, bake at 350 F until golden and a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 drops pure lemon extract

Beat egg whites until stiff, add all other ingredients until it has "body".  Dust the cake with flour, ice the cake, and bake at 350 F for 12-15 minutes.

Any comments or suggestions for this recipe are appreciated!

Before I forget, here is a lovely picture taken of me this weekend by Robert Szabo, a  fantastic wet plate photographer.  Although he took a few of me in the period wet plate style, all I have so far is one of the digital photos:

On a final note, the gentleman who plays my husband is moving to Virginia next week, so I bought him a little going away present.  I didn't have any wrapping paper, so I tore out the pages for Virginia from an old road atlas and wrapped it in that, finishing it off with a little scrap blue ribbon to dress it up:

Isn't it a cute (and frugal) way to wrap something?  I hope the long post makes up for my lack of blogging this past week, I'll try to not let it happen again.  Try being the key word.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ending The Lazy Streak

I just wanted you all to know that I finally got off my hiney today and cleaned this place up. Remember yesterday when I guessed it would take me 45 minutes to get it all done? I decided to set my timer on stopwatch mode to see how long it actually took and worked in 15 minute increments.  Not counting the time it took to run 3 loads of laundry in the early afternoon it ended up taking me:

 Looks like I guessed pretty good!

Pics of the results:

Instead of trying to play catch up on the Weekly House Blessing and Zone items I missed, I'm just going to do as FlyLady says as jump back in where I am.  I'm going to end this because I'm having a brief moment of motivation and I still would like to mop the floors tonight.  Hopefully it doesn't pass.


Monday, August 9, 2010

When Laziness Takes Over: A Pictorial

The past few days I've allowed laziness to set in and have totally neglected my routines.  I have even neglected basic things like throwing away the packaging from my Ramen noodles or empty pop cans.  The place is a wreck.

There is no real reason for this, I just don't feel like doing much of anything right now.  Aren't I allowed a couple days of having zero responsibilities? (OK, not zero, I have been feeding the cats.  Only because if I didn't, they would eat me while I slept.)

I don't feel as though I have fallen off the FlyLady bandwagon, I'm simply taking a brief hiatus from anything chore-related.  It's actually kind of nice not constantly thinking about what cleaning task I have to do next, or if I remembered to set my timer for the laundry. What hasn't been nice is the fact that if someone walked into the apartment right now I would be mortified, even though picking up the mess would take maybe 45 minutes tops. Me no likey this feeling.

All is well though, since tomorrow it's back to business and I will be getting the place in order so I can have an easy-go of it come Wednesday when I go back to work.  Photographic evidence of the current state of the place has been taken however so I can share my embarrassing lapse in housekeeping with all of you.  Reader beware...

Un-shiny sink.

Cluttered counter tops.

Clean laundry not being put away on top of the dishwasher full of clean dishes also not being put away.

Un-made bed/couch.

Close-up of my end table.

Binx lying amongst dirty laundry on the bathroom floor.

Emily asleep on the chair.  This one was just for the cuteness factor.

Well, those were the highlights.  Just keeping it real people, just keeping it real.  There was a reason I named this blog FlyLady Flunky- I tend to have little lapses like this, some just longer than others.  In my defense, I warned my roommate before he came home from dog sitting today that the place was a wreck.  When he walked in he looked confused and said "I thought you said the house was a mess!" I guess like beauty, a mess is in the eyes of the beholder.


Friday, August 6, 2010


So, guess what... (Look at the picture to the left if you need a hint.)  Yeah.  I'm moving again.  Just as I got a handle on my routines and really felt like this was a "home" of sorts, things are changing.

My roommate has decided to move to another state where there are more jobs in his career field, where as there are very few where we live.  This means he wants to move out of the apartment at the end of the month, leaving me with 3 weeks to figure out where  I am going to live since I can't afford the rent on my measly salary.

It seems as though I will be moving back in with my parents an hour away from where I work.  There is good and bad to this.  The hardest part will be the gas money required to drive to and from work now- the last time I lived this far away my car had much better mileage.  My new (to me) and cute PT Cruiser aka Norma Jeane only seems to be getting an average of 22 combined MPG.  Granted the area I live in is very hilly, so maybe it will improve when I'm back in the flat-lands.

I am also frustrated that just as I got my routines and Zones established I am going to have to throw most of it out the window and create new ones that pertain to my new living environment and lifestyle.  Oy.  I am so looking forward to that.

But, like I said, there is good to all of this:  I am getting off the couch and back into my very own bed!  I had just been hoping that when I did it would be into my own place, not with my parents- again. Oh well, I guess this will give me the opportunity to try out FlyLady's Moving Tips. Oh lucky me!  ;)