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!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Landscaping Project: "Before" and "During" Pictures

Hello fellow bloggers!

I am excited to be able to post some pictures of our landscaping project finally!  If you missed my first post regarding this very large (and expensive!!!) project, click HERE. This post also has a few "Before" pictures and a picture of the landscape design.

We had to wait a few weeks for the quarry to cut and prepare the stone and then we had to wait for the landscaping company to make out their schedule for June so they could give us a start date.

They were tentatively going to start last week, on the 21st or 22nd, but we had a number of days early last week where the temperatures were about 96 degrees with very high humidity and so they got behind on their other projects because of the heat. When there is a heat advisory, they don't have their employees work because it can be dangerous.  Here in Wisconsin we do get some hot days and if it was a dry heat, it's much easier to deal with; but we have the worst humidity, so 96 degrees can feel like 120 degrees.

At last the hot weather went away, so they started the demolition of the old wall on Monday. I was at work, so I did not get any pictures of the old wall coming down.

Here's some more "Before" pictures, just so you can get an idea of how hideous the old wall and fence was:

The front walkway and steps were very broken down and terrible.

The side yard
 Side yard steps and gate:

 In many places the wall segments were leaning every which way and falling apart.
 The chain link fence made it look like a prison! Weeds were always growing in all the cracks no matter how many times we pulled them up or sprayed them with weed killer.

When I came home from work Monday, this is what it looked like:
The wall was gone, most of the fence was gone and so were my back steps! A big dumpster with pieces of the old wall was in the street, waiting for the truck to come back and take it away.

This is what my front yard looks like now:

They had already excavated the front and laid down some gravel:
 The side yard ( the long side ) all excavated...........

Some of the saw-cut Lannon stone for the new wall.
 My poor front yard!

They had to store the pallets of new stone in our driveway, so we will have to park on the street for awhile! There is also a huge mountain of gravel at the end of my driveway!

Starting to lay down the new wall.

Everything is super dusty! There's dirt and stone dust everywhere! It doesn't help that we are in the middle of a drought and have not had rain since early May. Our grass is pretty much dead and my flowers are hanging on because I've been watering them like crazy. Soon they will probably but a ban on watering if we don't get rain soon.

The laying of the stone is time-consuming. The stonemasons are laying down 3 and 6 inch slabs at intervals, but also cutting stone with a stone saw to make pieces fit and also give it that "random" look which looks more like an old-fashioned wall. This is a dry stone wall, there is no masonry.
 This is where my back steps used to be:

In some sections where they have most of the wall in, they are starting to back-fill with gravel.

It looks so pretty! The foundation of our house is also Lannon stone, but it's a different style of "cut" that is called "rock-face" and the squares are much larger in size. Almost all of the early homes and Victorian homes in our neighborhood have a Lannon stone foundation and many of them have Lannon stone walls also. Most of the older Lannon stone walls from the 19th century are what is called "snapped" stone. Ours is "saw-cut", so they are smooth on the tops and bottom. It's more expensive than snapped, but the labor cost is cheaper because it's easier to place. Snapped stone is rough edged and jagged on all sides, but it takes more work to place.

My entire house and all my flowers and plants are covered in dust! I hope that after this project is finished we get some rain to wash everything clean. The landscaping company gave us a price to do the planting beds and put in some trees in the front and ,after discussion, we decided it was within our budget to have them do this as well, so after the wall and steps and walkway are done, they are going to fine-grade the front yard and level it (it's very lumpy and hilly) and plant new grass, make new planting beds and put in some trees. It will look very nice and very different after they are done! I can hardly wait!
Thanks for stopping by! I will continue to post pictures as things progress!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Going Back to 19th Century Wisconsin Part 2

As promised, here is the second part of my visit (in May) to Old World Wisconsin.

If you missed the first post, which also explains just exactly what Old World Wisconsin is, I suggest you click HERE.

Sorry for the looooong delay in posting the second half.....I have been incredibly busy!

I had left off showing some pictures from Sanford House and Loomer Barn. Here is a picture of some of the fences that abound in the "village", with a picture of the boarding house/inn, Four Mile Inn, in the background.

Here is the family sitting room in Sanford House. This farmhouse was built in the 1860s and though the Sanfords were farmers, they were actually quite well-to-do. Attractive furnishings and  lovely patterned carpeting are shown here.

Sanford House has quite a large " butler's pantry", with plenty of shelves for the family's dishes, glassware, serveware, prep bowls and crocks, as well as silver pieces, and enough room for storing plenty of dry goods and even a bath tub for bathing!

A pantry could be large or small, elegant or utilitarian. Some wealthy homes would have a locked silver safe in the butler's pantry to keep the good silver in. Those types of homes probably had an actual butler that oversaw the pantry and it's contents. Some pantries just had open shelving, like this, or they might have glass doors. Some would have a dry sink, or perhaps counter space and a pass-through to a dining room, for food to be served from. People who were not wealthy often did not have a butler or stewards, but many 19th century homes, even middle class homes, had one or two domestic servants, often employed as kitchen help. Perhaps a cook and a scullery maid would make up the kitchen staff in an average home.

After we left the Crossroads Village, we arrived in the "German Area". Here we visited the Koepsell Farm, c.1880. Just outside the farmhouse, we could view their vegetable garden (and outhouse!). Typical of most 19th century farms, they also had an herb garden. A kitchen garden or herb garden was popular even for urban homes in the 19th century.

Surrounding the Koepsell farmhouse were some apple orchards, enclosed in these curious fences.

Inside the Koepsell farmhouse we viewed the family sitting room. Note the patterned portieres over the doorway at the right-hand wall, next to the desk. Portieres were commonly used in the 19th century over a doorless entry to a room, but were also sometimes placed in front of actual doors. They were often used merely as decoration, but sometimes they were used as a way to mitigate drafts as well. They also were a useful and attractive way to screen private rooms (such as bedrooms or family sitting rooms) from the view of public rooms ( rooms that were used for entertaining guests).

This bedroom demonstrates some of the typical furnishings that might be found in a 19th century bedroom. A bed with a feather mattress and small table with a chamber pot. A wardrobe, or clothes-press, for storing clothing. In the foreground you can see a basin and pitcher on a washstand.

The Koepsells had a number of boys and this was the bedrooms that the boys slept in. It also appears that laundry was done in this room, as evidenced by the drying rack and washboard in the foreground. Most people, when viewing 19th century beds, note that the beds appear to be very short and often wonder if people were shorter back then. This is not actually the case; beds were shorter because for most of the 19th century, people believed that it was healthier to sleep  in an almost upright position. It was thought this was better for breathing and for the lungs.

Stepping into the kitchen of the farmhouse, once again I am struck by how different kitchens were then, as compared to how they look now.  Most kitchens had no built-in cabinetry or long gleaming countertops like today. Free-standing tables and cabinets and shelves were used to store bowls and utensils used for prepping and cooking food. Clean towels were laid over prepared food or bread dough set out to rise to protect from flies and dirt, and cheesecloth, secured with twine or string, was tied snugly over the tops of large stoneware crocks that contained butter or lard.

Just opposite the big stove is a work table for preparing food. On the day we were visiting, the rhubarb in all the gardens was ready and in all the homes where 19th-century-costumed volunteers were working, they were all preparing rhubarb pie.  Note the bucket underneath the work table with kindling sticks for the stove, and also a large enamelware coffee pot. Even though this is a farmhouse and is probably a little more rustic and plain, even in regular urban homes kitchens weren't much different than this. This farmhouse was built in 1880, only a few years before our house was built. I imagine that our kitchen might have looked similar to these here in Old World Wisconsin.

Just behind the farmhouse were a number of barns and buildings and sheds. Here we found two of the number of draft horses that live and work at Old World Wisconsin. These are Percherons; they are a very large, well-muscled French breed of draft horse, and are known for their intelligence and willingness to work. They are the most populous of draft breeds and were used extensively throughout the 19th century in both America and Europe. Popular with farmers, they were also extensively used in large cities to pull carriages, buses, stagecoaches, used in forestry, in circuses and railways. Originally bred to be war horses, they eventually began to be used in agriculture and hauling heavy loads and began to be imported to the U.S. in the 1850s, with the largest number imported in the 1870s and 1880s. My mother's father, who had a farm for many years, used Percherons on his farm as well, even into the 1960s.

Just down the road from the Koepsell farm, is the Schulz Farm. This farmhouse had a very lovely front garden (literally, a garden) with this fanciful fence made of branches.

The garden was laid out in this grid-like pattern, with square beds, which seems sort of like "square-foot gardening". It was a very warm, dry day, so one of the ladies of the Schulz house was out watering.

Adjacent to the Schulz farmhouse, a pair of oxen came over to the fence to take a look at us.

One of the oxen says hello to Erik. Like all the other farm animals at Old World Wisconsin, these oxen are a working team and are used for farming here.

Today they had a day off, as there was no plowing to do, I guess. It was a nice Sunday in the pasture, grazing on the new grass.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed my little jaunt into Wisconsin in the 19th Century!!!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Going Back to the 19th Century at Old World Wisconsin

Just recently, for Mother's Day, actually, I attended a Mother's Day brunch with my mother and sisters at a very special place.

It's an "outdoor history museum" called Old World Wisconsin (click HERE to learn more.Click on
 the "Explore Old World Wisconsin" and then click on the Interactive Map for more pictures and info about the buildings), which depicts the life of 19th-century rural pioneers and immigrants, and includes 65 historical buildings, most of which are  from areas in Wisconsin that were painstakingly dismantled, moved to the site and carefully rebuilt.

The historic structures include ethnic farmsteads, rural outbuildings, furnished homes and an 1870s crossroads village, complete with traditional, small-town necessities ( a church, blacksmith shop, carriage-maker shop, general store, boarding house/inn, cobbler's shop, town hall and one-room schoolhouse), all set in a beautiful prairie and woodland setting that looks very much like south-eastern Wisconsin would have looked to the early pioneers.

Costumed volunteers and artisans work and farm in the outdoor museum and there are many popular events, including Barn Dances, Vintage Base Ball weekend ( a base ball game played by the rules of 1860), Day Camp for children, interactive work shops and much more. It is also a very popular place for  school Field Trips.

I visited Old World Wisconsin as a fourth-grader for a school field trip, back in 1979, which was three years after it opened in 1976, but that was the last time I had been there. Now, 33 years later, I made my second visit for a Mother's Day Brunch that was being held in the Clausing Barn. (below)

There used to be many large trees that shaded the area around the barn, but about three years ago a tornado came through the area and all of the big trees went down. Miraculously, none of the historic buildings were damaged, although many people's homes were destroyed nearby.

They had the inside beautifully set up with tables and a very delicious brunch buffet. Afterwards, we all bought tickets to tour the "museum".

One of the first areas to visit is the 1870s "Crossroads Village", and the Thomas general store, pictured below.

The Four Mile Inn is also in the village; a boardinghouse and inn.

In St. Peter's Church, some of the church ladies were having a "sale" of hand-crafted items to benefit the poor. One was kind enough to play a few hymns on the pump organ for us.

I had a special interest in taking pictures of the kitchens and pantries of the historic homes. This was the pantry in a house called Hafford House, which was a very small house. I am always trying to envision what kitchens looked like in the 19th century. I often have people ask what the kitchen in our house probably looked like when it was built in 1886. The houses in "Crossroads Village" are rural and from the 1870s period, but the way kitchens looked by the 1880s wasn't probably hugely different. People don't often understand that kitchens of the past were nothing like we know them today.

I also love to see the dishes and cookware! Everything in the village is authentic, or if it was rebuilt (like a woodworking bench that is used for workshops in another building or the fences) it has been built with materials and in the way that it would have been made in that time period....meaning, made by hand with hand tools of the time period.

This is the kitchen in another house that was called the Benson House. The building names are the actual names of the owners who originally built them and they all have a known history to go along with them. 
This type of stove shown was the most common in use during most of the 19th century. They were mostly wood-burning stoves. Every spring they would be "blacked", using "stove blacking", which was a type of polish. Blacking the stove prevented corrosion and rust of the metal. 
The Benson family was a little more well-off than the Haffords. Their house is a little larger and they have nicer things. They also have a parlour, which the Haffords did not (The Haffords used their kitchen as both a kitchen and sitting room/family room).

The Benson House sitting room has wallpapered walls, a desk, comfortable chairs, it's own stove for heat, a table by the window that was handy for serving refreshments for guests ( there is a lovely water tippler on the table) and decorative ingrain carpeting. Ingrain carpeting was the most popular carpeting in 19th century rooms until about the  1880s-1890s. To learn more about the types of carpeting and other decorative elements popular in the 19th century, click HERE to read a post I wrote about Victorian period decorating.

In an adjoining room you can glimpse a small parlor organ (also known as a pump organ or harmonium)
The stove in the center of the room was probably a coal burning stove. Our house once had them in every room that didn't have a fireplace, as evidenced by the flue holes that are still present, albeit covered over.

This is the Sanford House. The Sanford House is actually about c.1860s. The Sanfords were farmers but were quite successful and well-to-do and they had a large family that included six children, I believe.

Mr. Sanford's study and desk were quite impressive. Erik was quite taken with this desk and would love to have one like this in his Victorian gentleman's study!

This elegant piano was placed in a front room of the Sanford house.

Across from Sanford House is a historic barn, Loomer Barn, and many beautifully fenced fields. A rural village in 1870 would have looked very much like this, with great spaces of fields between the few houses and buildings that made up a tiny little village.  There are farm animals at Old World Wisconsin; mostly oxen and horses of the breeds that farmers of the 19th century depended on for farm work.  Just like everything else here, all the farming is done using authentic historic farm equipment and implements and traditional farming methods. You can even take a workshop to try your hand at it yourself if you want to experience, first-hand, how to perform domestic chores, such as clothes-washing, plowing, preparing meals and working in the fields!

I have more to show but I am going to break it up into two posts so that this doesn't get overly long!

Thanks for stopping by! Part 2 will be coming soon!