October 9, 2017

On Dying

I am sorry that this is so long. This is something I don't like to talk about but I've had enough inquiries that I thought it best to address it as I hate it when a blogger you follow ghosts leaving you to wonder how the story ended. People have been asking where I have been and if I've stopped blogging etc. The truth is, the past few years I've been really sick and I don't like to talk about it.



Getting sick started a few years ago and it was a slow process. My joints would hurt and I'd be tired. My hips always hurt. I was just getting old, it was nothing to worry about. College took up a lot of my time but I still was dancing, painting, writing, reading, reenacting and doing all the things I loved.

But my junior year things started to get weird. I was really tired despite sleep. I was stressed out but not excessively so. I was always a fairly good student but I was having trouble remembering things.

I failed a test and my professor asked me to come see him. He didn't understand how I didn't get any these questions right when I was discussing the topics in depth in class a day prior. He even added that my grade was statistically improbable. I would have gotten a better grade if I didn't even read the questions and just guessed.  I had a hard time explaining it either. My professors decided it was testing anxiety although I never had that before. I was happy to have some kind of explanation. I was functional by my recall of specifics was terrible.



But my memory got worse and worse. I once got stranded at school because I forgot my purse, phone and money and couldn't remember any phone numbers to call to get someone to pick me up. I was afraid to touch my hair because it would fall out in clumps. I went to the doctor. He didn't take me seriously.  He said I was just stressed and should start keeping lists. (If any of you know me, you know I'm an insane list maker. So this suggestion was ludicrous.)

Student teaching was a nightmare. My coop teacher had just had twins and needed some time off so I was more or less on my own. Standing that long started to become an issue. I had to sit or lean. I was excessively tired. It was stressful enough without the memory issues. I would walk from the back of the room to the front to write something on the board and forget what I was going to write on the way up. My spelling was terrible and I dreaded those occasions when I would stop half way through a word on the board because it didn't look right and I would have to turn to that slightly smug AP student to nod that my spelling was correct but I was so thankful they were there. By this point I knew there was something seriously wrong but I didn't have the time, energy or money to try and address it and the doctor before said nothing was wrong.

It's a horrible feeling to be sick and not know what's wrong. Over the next few years, everything got worse. I was too tired to spend much time at reenactments. I went from dancing every night to a couple times a week here and there. My hip joints hurt as much as ever. Reading was a nightmare. I reread every paragraph on a loop over and over again. I reread every paragraph on a loop over and over again. I reread every paragraph on a loop over and over again. I had so little energy, I did what I had to do and went home to sleep. My relationships with people were virtually nonexistent. Even my boyfriend stung me with "All you ever want do when I come over is stay in bed!" I learned a lot about photography at this point. Painting took too much effort but I could learn about photography in bed. 


I didn't just lack energy. I physically spent 18 hours a day lying on the floor, hardly able to drag myself to the kitchen to get something to eat. The bed hurt. Everything hurt. It was hard for me to do easy tasks like opening doors. I couldn't stand very long. I went to work and spent most of my days pretending nothing was wrong. Work was hard because my energy was so limited, I was always on the verge of tears. My friend's mom said I should go get checked for Lyme and I kept putting it off. I finally dragged myself to the doctor and was diagnosed with Post Treatment Lyme Syndrome, and later Hypothyroidism and Cushing's Disease likely brought on by the Lyme.

I'm not going to go through everything it took to get diagnosed and sorted out but it was so many doctors and doctors appointments. And TE$TING. Lots of TE$$$TING. It was hard to work and paying for all of my medical bills was killing me. I needed another job but it was virtually impossible. I thought knowing what the problem was would fix everything but it didn't. I stopped going to my doctors appointments because I didn't have the energy to make the appointments, find the doctors, fight with insurance. The medicine that was supposed to fix everything didn't do anything. I was spending so much money and not feeling any better.  It was around this time that my family found out what was going on. A childhood friend died from complications due to Lyme, she was getting hip surgery. My family was pretty adamant that I continue with everything although I had long lost interest in trying.         

I had to take pills. Lots of them. But this pill has to be taken without food, another with food, one couldn't be taken with calcium, one was calcium, some made me sick but I had to take them anyway, some didn't work and we had to try new things, most of them I couldn't pronounce. Almost all had some sort of negative side affects but that was only if I remembered to take them. Which I didn't. I still hurt and I still had memory issues. I was very depressed, still had no energy, could barely leave the house. It even became hard for me to carry the weight of my camera.

To go from someone who was used to being able to remember lectures word for word and the page numbers where I read a particularly interesting passage a few years prior who would make art, write, go hiking, camping, sailing. I was devastated. Who are you even after you can't do anything that makes up your very being? Looking at the shell of my life and watching everyone living theirs was SO hard. I watched friends dance and going out at night and I knew I couldn't do those things I took for granted. I let so many people down. I couldn't stay out long with friends. I couldn't volunteer like I used to. I'd forget to show up. And even if I went, what good was I? I wasn't much good physically and I wasn't much good in the way of conversation. I was good for nothing. It was so dark and I wanted to be dead. I felt like a burden on everyone. My only real connection to the outside world was through social media.

 I spent a lot of time dying and about a year dead.


I'm feeling so much better now. Whatever odd cocktail of pills I'm on seems to be working good enough and I'm getting better at knowing and working within my limitations. I still have my bad days and weeks, but I'm out of the house. Sometimes, I'm overly excited that I went out (please bear with me, it's like everything is new.) Even things I did for years are new. I'm relearning so much. The pain is manageable. I'm so thankful to everyone who has stuck through this with me! I hope to be blogging again soon!

September 17, 2017

WWII Era Tomato Soup Cake (You Read that Right) Recipe

Soup to Nuts Cake WWII Tomato Soup Cake


This was one of those recipes I came across that sounded so weird I just had to try it for myself. The recipe is called "Soup to Nuts Cake" but has gone by many names including "Tomato Soup Cake" and "Mystery Cake." The recipe first made an appearance during the depression but made a resurgence during WWII as a way to make cake without eggs and only using a little butter.

Similar recipes were advertised as holiday fare likely because they used a lot of sugar. During WWII sugar could be substituted with maple flavored syrup, corn syrup, molasses, honey or sorghum and all of these substitutions would be complimentary to the flavor of this cake.  

Tomato Soup Cake


Ingredients:

-1 Cup Sugar
-2 Tbs Butter
-1 can Tomato Soup
-1 tsp. Baking Soda (dissolved in the soup)
-1 tsp. Baking Powder

-1 Cup Raisins
-1 Cup Walnuts, chopped
-1 tsp Cloves, ground
-1-2 tsp Cinnamon
-1/4 tsp Nutmeg
-1 3/4 Cups Flour

Icing

-3 oz of Cream Cheese
-1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cream butter and sugar together and add soup. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Pour batter into a greased cake pan and bake for 45-60 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test. Let cool completely. For icing, mix powdered sugar and cream cheese together.  

I ended up only making half of the icing and drizzling it rather than icing the whole cake-there's a war on, after all. I realized after I made my batter that the bundt style might not have been the best for such a chunky batter but it ended up keeping its shape quite nicely.


Soup to Nuts Cake WWII Tomato Soup Cake

I was hoping to bring this little mystery cake to the Eisenhower Farm event for our home front display and as a little adventurous eating for our company but a tragic, completely unforeseen event befell us. I forgot the cake in the freezer and didn't realize until we were halfway there! So this little hunk of mystery is going to have to hang out in the freezer until next event and I will publish a part 2 to this post "Fear Factor: WWII ration cooking edition."  


I thought I would include some of my favorite pictures from the event for those of you who couldn't make it out. Enjoy!













June 23, 2017

Easy 1940s Dress: Butterick B5209

WWII Dress Sewing Pattern B5209

I made this dress what feels like forever ago and am only now getting to review the pattern. A few months ago I had the chance to see some old friends that would be coming out my way for the WWII Weekend at Valley Forge (formerly Graeme Park.) I thought it would be fun to hang out with them for more than a day trip since I hadn't seen them in awhile and one of my local friends wanted to meet them so about 2 weeks before, we were convinced to stay for the dance. Now, I know what you're thinking: 2 weeks is not enough time for two girls to prepare for a dance. It wasn't.

We originally thought that this dress would be simple enough for us both to make one in time but it took a long time to find any fabric I remotely liked. Then the pattern wouldn't work for both of us and we didn't have time to do mock ups. My friend amazingly fit into the WWII Dress that I made a few years ago and looked fantastic so I only had to make the one dress. I've been working a lot and it was tough to find sewing time while everyone in the house was awake so I sewed all the way up to the minute I left, as per usual. :D


This patterns on the 40s to 50s cusp. It's easy in terms of historical clothing but 1940s stuff is always deceptively a bit difficult due to high end finishing techniques, small details or odd seams. The pattern itself is a little late for WWII but not excessively so. Similar patterns were popular in the 30s as well as after the war.

I was originally hoping to make the dress out of a light linen from my stash but I was a little short and after a voracious search I settled on this cotton fabric. I was hoping for something with a Hawaiian feel as I wanted to wear it as a sundress this summer.



If I was to make it again, I would probably insist on a lightweight linen or satin and I would definitely take the time to make sure it was properly fitted. It ended up being a little big but there wasn't much I could do about it during the time crunch. We never actually got a picture of me wearing the finished dress but I hope this picture of us having fun in the car on the way will suffice.



We had a great night and have both been having fun learning to dance to Swing since.  I later made this headband out of the fabric scraps. Haven't worn them together yet but I think it will be cute.

Forgive the frizzy hair the humidity here is crazy!
WWII Dress Sewing Pattern B5209

Hope everyone is having an awesome summer and I hope to be posting more soon!

April 8, 2017

Civil War Era Game: The Little Fortune Teller

I came across this fun little amusement in search for some Civil War Era games. This game is very familiar to those of us that played with those folded paper fortune tellers  in the 80s and 90s. It was published in Fireside Games (1859) among other publications.

The premise is very simple. You close your eyes, point to a number on the page and that number will correspond to your fortune. I'm going to have "A speedy proposal of marriage," and "See an absent lover." Uh oh! 

I thought I'd make a condensed version in case anyone wants to print it for use at reenactments. Right click and "Open image in new tab" to save the original size. The game will print properly on an 8.5" x 11"  piece of paper. 




via GIPHY

March 3, 2017

Civil War Era Bubble and Squeak


Bubble and Squeak was a popular, economic meal using up leftovers. The name comes from the sound the cabbage makes while cooking.  It was often served with a side of sausages or other meat or mashed potatoes. It was sometimes referenced as an Irish dish although there are recipes for it, and references to it, in British, Scottish and American books. It's origin is British although the dish is similar to Irish Colcannon.

There were many recipes for it in the early 1800s but by the 1860s it was ubiquitous enough of a dish that publications refer to it as if it was commonplace. Godey's Lady's Book published a recipe in 1862 for Buttered Cabbage "Boil the cabage with a quantity of onions, then chop them together, season with pepper and salt, and fry them in butter. It is rather a homely, but savory dish, and frequently used either with fried sausages laid over it or as an accompaniment to roast beef, and forms part of bubble and squeak."

James M. Sanderson listed a recipe for Bubble and Squeak in his Camp Fires and Camp Cooking, or; Culinary Hints for the Soldier, a book intended for Union soldiers

This is an old and favorite mode of getting rid of bits of corned beef among good housewives at home and can be advantageously introduced into camp. Any pieces of cold corned or salt beef that may be on hand should be cut into slices and sprinkled with pepper; then put them in a pan, with a little grease or fat, and fry them slightly. Boil some cabbage, and squeeze it quite dry; then cut it up very fine, and serve a piece of beef with a spoonful of cabbage, first seasoning it with pepper, salt, and vinegar.

Ingredients:

- 1/2 head of Cabbage (endive, or savoy recommended)
- Leftover Beef, sliced (steak or salt beef)
- 1 Onion
- 1 Carrot
- 1 Tablespoon Butter
- Salt and Pepper

Instructions:

Wash and chop the cabbage, onion and carrot. In a medium pot, boil the vegetable mixture until soft. Drain. Put a pat of butter in a skillet on medium heat and fry the cabbage, onion, carrot and meat until the edges are slightly browned. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with mashed potatoes and sausages.

Civil War Recipes Bubble and Squeak 1860s


Civil War Recipes Bubble and Squeak 1860s


Civil War Recipes Bubble and Squeak 1860s

Civil War Recipes Bubble and Squeak 1860s
Civil War Recipes Bubble and Squeak 1860s