Welcome to Le Beau Paon Victorien! I'm so glad you stopped by!

Here you will find a variety of things that might interest you: food, books, house decor, crafty things, random thoughts, dishes, gardening and more!

Spend some time with us and happy reading!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Vintage Voice: Re-Creating Victorian Decor

I've been busy the last week or so perusing a couple of books I found at the library on Victorian decor. Though they were published in the mid-1980s, I still found them very helpful and some of the pictures inspirational.
I also finally bought a decent printer that can copy, print, scan and fax in black and white and color....and it's wireless! (I haven't had a printer in 4 years!).
I used the opportunity to scan a few pages from the books for this post.

The first book is called "Victorian Splendor, Re-Creating America's 19th-Century Interiors" by Allison Kyle Leopold.

The cover of the book shows this splendid bedroom. There are lots of great color photographs in this book, as well as a nice breakdown of all the different styles of the period. As many people who admire the Victorian Era know,  "Victorian" refers not really to a style, but to a period of time. It was a time with an unprecedented concern for the importance of interior design. As a result, many styles appeared, most of them revivals of one kind or another ( American Empire,Gothic Revival, Rococo Revival, Renaissance Revival are just a few), resulting in a range of Victorian ornament nothing short of overwhelming. The book is laid out in chapters that focus on one particular room of the house in turn and discusses the paint colors, wall papers, floor coverings, window treatments and various types of decor that was popular for each period, what was fashionable, what was not, and how the Victorians decorated their homes to show their status, cultural aspirations, family ties and their level of taste.

This beautiful dining room shows many of the "typical" things associated with Victorian decor; a copper and brass gasolier, crimson lambrequins on the windows, oversized oak sideboard and richly gilded wall frieze and dado.
The book also has some tips and suggestions on how to make your own home look more 'Victorian'. Included also are some examples of bedrooms and bathrooms and how the Victorian bathroom would have looked and been decorated. I was actually surprised to learn that many middle-class homes had a "bathing room" much earlier than I expected.

I was delighted to find this picture of a 'Victorian Revival' bathroom; original tile work and marble sink are paired with a freestanding oak- trimmed tub and a mirror which had once been part of a late-Victorian dresser. The brass hooks came from a hall tree and the old-fashioned heater is c.1880-1890. Other suitable decorative items give this bathroom a wonderful Victorian look.

The second book I looked at was this one; pictured on the front is Mark Twain's library from his home in Hartford, CT.  This book only a has a few color pictures but it is a treasure trove of information about paint, wallpapers, ceilings, woodwork, floors, windows and drapery divided into time periods (1830 to1850, 1850 to 1870 etc.). It details exactly what was "in style" for each time period, how materials were made and where they came from, what was considered 'poor taste' and what was popular. It basically explains what kinds of wall and window treatments the original builder and subsequent owners might have employed, what color schemes were popular, what sort of floor coverings were used and what sort of draperies and shutters covered windows.I also learned a few new terms for window treatments and floor coverings that I had not known before. Let's just say that from 1830 to 1900 Victorian decor was an almost inpenetrable thicket of styles, revivals, reform movements and terms and this book was very helpful.

I also loved the many illustrations taken from period magazines, catalogs and advertisments. This illustration was from The Workwoman's Guide, a popular book published in 1838, showing the variety of bedsteads, bed furniture and bedding available.
 Many other popular books and periodicals of the Victorian Era, like Godey's Lady's Book, An Encyclopedia of Cottage, Farm and Villa Architecture and Furniture, An Encyclopedia of Domestic Economy, The Lady's House Book, and Harriet Beecher Stowe's The Amerian Woman's Home, are quoted in this book also, to give you an idea of what the 'experts' of the day had to say about proper interior decor.

This illustration came from Godey's Lady's Book depicting window treatments that were then popular. One of the reasons that I checked out this book ,and the other, was to get an idea of appropriate window treatment styles for the front parlour. I have a feeling they will have to be custom-made.

These cornices and center blocks were shown in an 1882 catalog for Samuel H. French & Co. in Philadelpha. Above are some examples of painted ceilings from Interior Decoration (1885) by Fred Miller, an English decorator.

One of the things I was most intrigued to learn about were the various kinds of carpets and floor coverings used during the Victorian Era. Contrary to popular belief, hardwood floors covered with large Oriental rugs was not the "standard" or "fashionable" until late in the period. When most people think of a Victorian Era home they don't think of wall to wall carpeting, but up until the 1880s most American households had softwood floors that were covered in carpeting or matting.

Here's some terms and things I learned about carpeting and window treatments:

Brussels: a durable looped-pile carpet developed in Brussels c.1710 which became popular in America by the mid-19th century. Also called 'body Brussels'.
Axminster: A cut-pile carpet that was first woven by hand in the 18th century to imitate Oriental carpets. Machines capable of weaving Axminster carpeting were developed between 1867 and 1877.
Drugget: a durable inexpensive fabric woven in England and popularly used under dining tables to protect better floor covering, or sometimes used in "high traffic" areas.
Floorcloth: similar to drugget; a term used through the first half of the 19th century to identify a linen, cotton or jute cloth painted with oil-based paints (sometimes called oilcloth) and commonly used in entry halls and dining rooms.
Grass matting: a product woven in the Orient of various grasses and used as a summer floor covering or as the base for smaller carpets at other times of the year. Sometimes "carpet matting" was used year round as the only affordable floor covering in a poorer household.
Ingrain: An American term for a flat-pile, reversible carpet resembling a coverlet, in which the colors of the design on one side are reversed on the other. It was the most popular type of carpeting for a large portion of the 19th century. It was also sometimes called 'two ply'.
Kidderminster: another term for ingrain carpeting, denoting the weaving center near Birmingham, England where ingrain was first made in the early 18th century.
Lambrequin: a stiffened, unpleated fabric suspsnded from a cornice ablove a window and often embellished with cords, fringes and tassels.
List carpeting: a woven, flat-pile floor covering using strips of selvage as weft.
Portiere: a curtain hung at a doorway as a substitute for a door or as decoration.
Roller blind: a 19th century term for window shades.
Short blinds: lightweight curtains, often muslin, that covered the bottom sash of a double-hung window; called half-sash or "Morris" curtains by the end of the 19th century. Used often in summer months, it allowed cooling air to pass through the window, but kept out insects and provided some privacy. The majority of 19th century homes did not have window screens.
Valance: sometimes called 'vallens' or 'vallance'; fabric arranged in vertical folds suspended from a pole or cornice above a window; sometimes called a 'piped valance'.
Venetian carpeting: a reversible, flat-pile carpet usually woven of wool and jute and commonly striped.  They were woven in long strips and then seamed together to make large carpets. Loops of strong tape or cases of linen were sewn along the perimeter underneath the carpet. Rods threaded through the loops or cases and fastened to brass rings or hooks in the floor at the corners of the room helped keep the carpet taut.
Bug Bar or Mosquito-Bar: the 19th century term for a canopy of netting over the bed to protect from insects. The use of 'bug bars' was common in all parts of the country, suggesting that window screens were rare.

.Thanks for joining me! Hopefully you learned a few things along the way as well!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Outdoor Wednesday: Roses & More!

Even though today is officially the first day of summer, we have been watching thunderstorms come and go all day here in Wisconsin. Not a very auspicious start to summer!

A few days ago, when we had sunny weather for a change, I looked out one of the parlour windows and through the lace curtains could see some of my climbing roses. It looked so pretty!

These roses grow on a trellis right outside this window. We had to add some more trellis for it and I'm hoping to train them around this window.

Elsewhere in my garden, we have some blooms in my sun garden, which I also sometimes call the 'hot garden' because most of the flowers  in it are bright, "hot", colors.

There's even more of these Red Storm Asiatic lilies blooming now. Soon these will be joined by red bee balm and orange asclepsia.

In the front of the house, a sea of maiden pinks are in bloom............

I did finally decide what to plant in my new big urn planters. Red begonias (called Go-Go Cherry!) and some vinca vine.

Thanks for stopping by! I'll be joining A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday!


A Sweet Treat

My obsession lately with pound cake and berries led to my trying out a new recipe; lemon blueberry pound cake.
It inspired me to make a pretty little table for One for my breakfast treat.

Complete with my vintage muffineer............!

It was quite delicious!
Thanks for stopping by!
I'll be joining Marty at A Stroll Thru Life for Tabletop Tuesday!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Crafty Things: Decorated Eggs (for Easter!)

Wait a minute, did she say Easter???

Yes, actually, I did!
I recently did a little project that I meant to do before Easter, and then promptly forgot about it until last week!

This project was very simple (even if it was a little messy). It involved some styrofoam eggs, plain white tissue paper, one of my background stamps, ribbon and Modge Podge.

A few years ago at Stamp Club, we used some colored tissue paper and glued it on foam eggs with glue and then decorated the eggs with ribbon and little flowers from a punch. (see photo below)

                                         Some glitter glue provided a little sparkle as well.
 I tried a similar thing this time, but used Modge Podge and instead of colored tissue paper, I used plain white and stamped on it with a large background stamp that I had that is called 'Bella Toile'. 
The ink color I actually used was black, but the glue made it turn sort of purple. It was a little tricky and a little messy, but it actually turned out pretty cute. After the glue was dry, I tied a ribbon around the eggs and hot glued a little sparkly doodad on them for some 'bling'.

For the photos, I piled them in my milk glass nesting hen dish. Next year I'm going to try and find a cute little bowl or a basket to display them in for Easter.

Now I'm all set for next Easter!

Thanks for stopping by!
I'll be joining these parties:
Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage


Friday, June 10, 2011

Food: Delicious & Buttery Pound Cake

If I could eat desserts, and desserts only, and never gain a pound, that would probably be all I would eat!
I don't have just one sweet tooth.....I think all of my teeth are sweet!  I consider myself a pretty decent cook, but cooking is not really my passion. I love to bake more than anything else.

In the summer months, when berries are in season, I love to have desserts using fresh berries. Another favorite dessert of mine is pound cake, which goes well with so many things,including berries!

A thin slice of moist, buttery and delicious pound cake goes well with a cup of coffee for a morning treat.

A couple of thin slices of pound cake layered with berry fool is also delicious!

Pound cake is also a component for a lovely holiday fruit trifle that I often make (above picture, foreground)

Here's my pound cake recipe that I always use:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cups unsalted butter, room temp. plus xtra for greasing
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 large eggs, room temp
1/2 cup sour cream, room temp

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a loaf pan with butter and dust with flour.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt until blended. In another bowl, using a mixer on medium to medium-high speed, beat together butter, sugar, vanilla and almond extract until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, until just blended. Sprinkle half the flour mixture over the egg mixture and stir until both are just incorporated. Stir in the sour cream, then sprinkle with the remaining flour mixture and stir until evenly distributed.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and tap gently on the counter to even out and settle ingredients. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean; about 70 minutes. Let cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the inside of the pan, invert cake onto a wire rack and lift off the pan. Place the cake on one of it's sides and continue cooling. Serve warm or at room temperature.

As I mentioned above, berry fool is a great accompaniment to pound cake, angel food cake or even on it's own. Fool is an old-fashioned English treat whose name derives from the French word fouler, to crush.

Here I layered the fool with whole berries into a sundae glass, with a pink malt spoon to eat it with. This can be done in a wine glass also, for a more showy presentation.


Here's the Berry Fool recipe I used for this dessert:

1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt
3/4 cup heavy (double) cream, well chilled
about 7 strawberries, plus extra for garnish, if desired
3/4 cup raspberries, blueberries or blackberries or a mixture. ( I used a mix of all three)
optional: fresh mint leaves for garnish

Stem and hull the 7 strawberries, then quarter them lengthwise (you should have about 3/4 cup). In a small bowl, toss together the quartered strawberries and thr 1/3 cup sugar. Then, using a fork, smash the berries until they are jamlike and mostly pureed. Add the other berries and crush lightly with the fork. Stir in lemon juice and salt. Taste and add 1 or 1 more TBL of sugar, if desired. Place in the freezer and chill, stirring frequently, until very cold; about 15-20 minutes.

In the meantime, chill a mixing bowl in the freezer for a few minutes, then, using a mixer on medium to medium-high speed, whip the cream until firm peaks form. Scoop the chilled fruit on the cream and using a rubber spatula, fold the fruit into the cream. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate overnight. Spoon into dessert bowls or glasses alone, or layer with whole berries, or serve layered with slices of pound cake. Use mint leaves and extra strawberries for garnish if desired.  Makes 4 servings.

Thanks for stopping by! Mangia!


2nd Annual 'To Have and to Hold Wedding Blog Party'

I was cordially invited by Stephanie at Angelic Accents to join her 2nd Annual Wedding Blog Party today. She has such a lovely collection of wedding things and some great inspiration pictures, so go ahead and make a visit to her and all the other participants for the blog party and have some fun!

I have had several posts over the last couple years with a few pictures here and there of my 2007 wedding, which I have mentioned also in other posts. Just yesterday, I did a 'bridal themed' lucheon tablescape for Tablescape Thursday, click HERE if you'd like to visit that post.

Weddings are times for celebration, excitement, happiness and the joining of two lives. I was 36 years old at my wedding, but I was as giddy as a school girl. I called our wedding theme "Vintage Modern" because I wanted it to have vintage elements, yet be sophisticated and trendy.

Here's a picture from my own wedding. (I also have one on my sidebar). My dress was not white, nor was it exactly cream colored. It was called ' Diamond White', kind of like an 'antique' white. It was an A-line dress, strapless, but completely covered in lace, so it had a kind of vintage look, despite it's modern silhouette.

It also had lots of sparklies on the lace. In person it was quite stunning. I always wish that wedding dresses looked as beautiful in photos as in person; it's hard to capture the details sometimes in photos. I had two veils, which I bought on eBay. One was a shorter elbow-length and the other a detachable cathedral length, which I took off after the cermony.

I did take close-up views of my dress after I picked it up from my last fitting. This is the top bodice.

And detail of the lace with all the tiny pearls and iridescent beads. The color looks more exact in this picture too.

I had some pictures from one of my fittings too, so here I am wearing it (with one of my veils). This was after work, so my hair was a mess!

And this was how the chapel-length train was to be "bustled".

As a crafty DIY kind of person who loves to make things, of course I had to do my own flowers. I didn't mind using faux flowers; today's faux flowers are so pretty and look so real. Many of my guests didn't realize that my flowers weren't real.

This was my bouquet. I had found a pretty enamel brooch at an antique store to decorate the ribbon-wrapped stems.

The brooch

Each of the bouquets had a jeweled pin with the person's first name initial.

My bridesmaids' bouquets were very similar to mine.

Here's a picture of us with our flowers before the ceremony:

I also made several flower arrangements for the reception; the name card table, our sweetheart table, the table centerpieces............

Place card table bouquet........

Small bouquets in silver mint julep cups for the centerpieces on half of our reception tables.

And for the sweetheart table:

I also made the cake topper for our wedding cake:

I used two sweet green birds instead of a wedding couple on the cake topper. The great thing about faux flwowers is that they don't die! I have them now as keepsakes, displayed in my home.

Can you see my cake topper on the second shelf? It's next to our peacock toasting glasses and the cake knife and server engraved with our wedding date.

I made a lot of other things too; the invitations...........

They were pocket fold invites. This was how they looked on the outside....

 and unfolded;

The actual pocket fold envelopes I ordered from a wonderful print shop, but the rest of it I made and assembled myself. I printed the invites on my own printer at home. The mailing envelopes were all addressed by hand (in Spencerian writing, which I did myself) and had a monogram wax seal for a fun, Victorian touch!

I also made the name place cards.........

I did the Spencerian writing myself here also. It's sort of a hobby.

I also made the wedding programs and I made them to look like fans.........

We had someone we knew who does cookies and cakes for events make cookies for our wedding favors;

But, of course, the little tags I made myself..........

To make table signs with the assigned table numbers, I used my collection of vintage cabinet cards that show wedding couples. I have a lot of them with wedding couples. They are one of my favorite subject matters in old photos.

I used a temporary adhesive to mount them on card stock so they wouldn't get damaged. I wasn't able to find a good photo of them on the tables at the reception. I don't think my photographer knew that I wanted photos of the centerpieces.

I have many of them, but here are just a few.............

Knowing my fondness for these, my mom even found one for me when she was in Budapest in some tiny little antique shop..........

Fittingly, we chose a very beautiful historic hotel for our reception. This is a picture of the grand ballroom where we had our reception:

And this is actually a post card that shows the magnificent main entrance of the hotel and the vaulted, painted ceiling.

You can see a little bit of the hotel in some of our photos taken after the ceremony.

And last but not least.....I do have a couple of bride dolls to share........

My Gibson Girl bride doll, which I bought way back in the early 90s. (In this picture she is a little rumpled from being in storage)

And the bride doll my mother made me. She used a Barbie doll with brunette hair and then made the exquisite thread-crochet dress and bouquet. She even styled the doll's hair into an up-do and made the veil herself.

Thanks for joining me! I hope you don't mind the loooonnng post!