Last Saturday I planned on spending a comfortable day writing. Comfortable meaning, I had no intentions of getting out of my favorite loose fitting ‘pajama’ pants and extra large t-shirt. The day progressed and about 5PM I pulled out the ingredients to make pot of wild rice soup, that’s when the inevitable kink in the chain happened. I didn’t have any heavy whipping cream, which is what truly makes the soup delicious. I slipped on a pair of crocs and drove to the local convenience store a few miles from the house—all the while hoping I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew. As I park, a car pulls up next to me—my neighbor lady. We climb out at the same time, look at each other, and start laughing. Our outfits were identical. Oh, her cotton pants and t-shirt had different prints than mine, and her crocs were red, mine are blue, but overall we, were twins (including the baseball hats on our heads).
“Didn’t plan on leaving the house?” I asked.
“Nope,” she answered.
We each purchased our items and left, agreeing to call each other next weekend if we found ourselves short on something. I drove home, finished the soup, and returned to writing. I’m typing away, and realize while I’m sitting in my comfy weekend clothes, my heroine just gained a good twenty-five pounds. Not from scrumptious meals cooked over a wood stove, but from the mere fact of dressing.
It started with the tight corset which, by the way, was claimed to ‘provide even the stoutest of women a healthy option to control the shape of her body’. (Yeah, right!). Along with the corset, add at least two petticoats, drawers, a chemise, crinoline, and bustle with cover, a corset cover, the ever fashionable hoop skirt, which was made with thick, heavy wire so it wouldn’t lose it’s shape, and then over all of this came the dress, (these were often made of heavy cottons, brocades, and wools). A women’s ensemble of 1800’s easily weighed over twenty-five pounds—without shoes, overcoat/cape, hat, gloves, etc. etc.
In the 1860’s the popular, huge hoop skirts limited movement and sitting to the point at some social events, woman stood for the entire evening. No wonder the ‘vapors’ set in!
With the popularity of the home sewing machine, patented in the U.S. in 1848, and then the invention of paper patterns in the 1860’s, came infinite changes in apparel, both for men and women. The ability to mass produce clothing provided accessibility to a much larger array. Synthetic dyes were also becoming more popular, which provided bold, vibrant colors. The Civil War and the western land runs also changed fashion. During this time the simpler clothing worn by the ‘working’ class became more popular, especially in the south and west. Laboring in the plantation fields and/or walking for up to forty miles a day beside a covered wagon, women quickly discarded layers and the more constricting garments. Until then most of the fashions came from overseas, and filtered through the U.S. by way of New York, but the gold rush in California quickly increased the population of the western U.S. shore and the women there, being outnumbered by men two to one, had the power to instill new fashion trends.
We often think of split skirts for horseback riding, but it wasn’t until the bicycle increased in popularity that split skirts and bloomers became popular. The trend started in San Francisco where women started to ‘shorten’ their skirts to ride bike. This is also where the ‘General Association for the Simplification of Women's Clothing’ was founded in 1896. I’m assuming it’s this association we have to thank for the much simpler bras and underwear of today.
I love researching and writing historicals and often have said I’d like to time travel into one of the settings of my stories, but wearing a corset everyday would be about as convenient as the outhouse, so I’m glad I live in the twenty-first century.
The next time you plan on staying home all day, relaxing in your p.j.’s and writing or reading about heroines wearing the ‘latest styles’, here’s a wonderful soup recipe to try…just make sure you have all the ingredients on hand!
Chicken Wild Rice Soup
6 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped onions
½ cup chopped carrots
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup flour
2 cups cooked wild rice
2-3 tablespoons chicken flavored stock granules in 2-3 cups water
½ teaspoon salt
2-3 cups heavy whipping cream
2-3 cups cooked and cubed chicken breasts seasoned with Cavender’s Greek seasoning
Pepper, salt, and Thyme to taste
Cook wild rice per instructions on package, drain. Cook (either fry or microwave chicken sprinkled with Greek seasoning), cube. Heat the 2-3 cups water and add granules as directed on the package. In large soup pot, melt butter and, sauté onion, celery and carrots until tender. Blend flour with butter and veggies until thick and lumpy. Pour in hot chicken broth, stirring constantly until creamy. Boil for one minute, while stirring turn down heat and add chicken, pepper, salt and Thyme. Simmer for 5-10 min, and then stir in rice and cream. Let simmer for 5-10 min or transfer to a crock pot.
Disclaimer: I’m a ‘pinch’ and ‘dump’ type of cook, so I’ve estimated the measurements.
I’ll leave you with a reminder that I am giving away an E-Book of Shotgun Bride-The Quinter Brides Book One on its release date, November 14th, to someone who leaves a comment on this blog before November 13th. Here’s an excerpt from the book—where Jessie discovers she was taken captive at gun point to marry one of the Quinter boys, namely, Kid:
Jessie glanced to the loft, wondering how a child could sleep through the ruckus of the house. A tinge of sorrow softened her fear, imagining how the kid they spoke of was probably hiding beneath the covers, frightened to death.
“He’ll like it just fine once he finds out we got her for him.” Stephanie scooped ground coffee into the pot then set it on the stove.
“For Kid? What does Kid want with her? Does he know about Miss Molly?” The skinny frame rising from the chair was that of a teenager, not quite a kid, not quite a man. Lamp light bounced off dark eyes wide with shock, or was it fear?
“Get off your arse and go get Kid!” Stephanie twisted, grabbed a broom, and whacked the boy with the straw end. He covered the back of his head with both hands as another wallop hit, and scrambled toward the door.
“Ma, we can’t go get Kid. It’s really raining out there,” Skeeter said as the boy skidded to a halt behind him.
“Yeah, and it’s only gonna get worse. Now go get Kid ‘afore the lightning and wind hits.”
“But Ma, Kid ain’t gonna come with us. You know that.” Skeeter reached behind his back and pulled the boy to stand in front of him. Quicker than a fly, the younger boy shot back behind Skeeter, the two of them continued to try and use the other for a shield as their mother stomped across the room.
“Well, if’n you know what’s good for ya, you’ll figure out a way to get him here. And be quick about it!” She went after both of her sons with the broom.
“I still don’t think it’s fair. You said I could have her.” Skeeter scrambled out the door as the whisk of the broom hit the younger one again.
Stephanie Quinter shouted into the rain, “And what would you do with a woman this fine? You ain’t got no idea how she needs to be treated.” She turned to Jessie, a smile softening her haggard face. “But Kid does. You’ll make him a good wife.”
“Wife?” Jessie choked on the word as the door slammed shut.