Monthly Archives: July 2015

in the library

Women of History: Elizabeth Wydeville

July 15, 2015

Elizabeth Wydeville

WHO SHE WAS:  Elizabeth Wydeville was the first-born child of Sir Richard Wydeville and Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford.  Her social status was reflected by that of her father (so, not royal, even though her mom was), and so her first marriage was to a man of a similar status, Sir John Grey, a Lancastrian knight. Therefore, she and her family were Lancastrian fans.

HER PLACE IN HISTORY: Sir John Grey died in a Yorkist victory at the second battle of St. Albans leaving behind Elizabeth and her their two young sons. Prospects for the Lancastrians and their followers looking particularly bleak, Elizabeth and her family alter their allegiance. In the meantime, her husband’s death caused Elizabeth dower lands to be confiscated. This meant that she no longer had any income, and she literally had to move back in with her parents. In a curious twist of fate, Elizabeth, acting on behalf of her two sons, orchestrated a meeting with Edward IV to petition for the return of her lands and her sons’ inheritance, and in doing so captured the affections of the king. Elizabeth and Edward were married in secret, and the fact that she was a commoner incited quite a few tempers at court once England learned of their secret marriage. Marriages in medieval times were made to forge political alliances with foreign countries and because of her roots, she was never welcome on the throne. Later on, in line with all of the political matchmaking of the time, she would have particular influence in uniting the houses York and Lancaster.

INTERESTING BITS: A few years into her marriage to Edward–with four small girls and another baby on the way–the tides turned in Lancastrian favor, deposing Edward and forcing him to flee. Without her husband and with the country once again in upheaval, Elizabeth and her six children took sanctuary under Westminster Abbey, where Elizabeth gave birth to their first born son. Elizabeth and her family remained under the abbey until Edward came back with an army that forced the Lancastrians back once more.

Years later, during a particularly peaceful time in England, Edward suddenly passed away. At that time their eldest son was poised to take the throne but because he was still a child, he couldn’t actively rule the kingdom. Because of this, Edward made his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester Lord Protector, to rule through his young nephew until he was able.  What actually happened? Well, Elizabeth took sanctuary once more with her children under Westminster Abbey. History books today will tell you that Richard was power-hungry and evil, and seeing his chance, put Elizabeth and Edward’s two sons’ in the Tower of London, declared the children Elizabeth had with the king illegitimate, and seized the throne for himself. Elizabeth’s two boys (the “Princes in the Tower”) where never seen again and while no one can definitively say what happened to them, most people assume that Richard had something to do with it. Whether or not he was truly as cold-hearted as our history books and even Shakespeare has portrayed him, power was a fickle thing and those who possessed it had to fight tooth and nail to keep it; Richard’s solution for keeping the Wydeville family out of power was to sentence Elizabeth’s brother Anthony and her son Richard Grey to death.

Elizabeth made an alliance with Margaret Beaufort, a Lancastrian heiress whose son held a claim to the throne. Both women sought to put their children on the throne, and so Elizabeth gave her daughter Elizabeth’s hand in marriage to Henry Tudor (Henry VII was the father of Henry VIII–that one Henry of Anne Boleyn fame), thus insuring that the houses of York and Lancaster were united, effectively ending the War of the Roses, and paving the way for the Tudor Dynasty.

If you’d like to learn much, much more, I’d recommend the following books I’ve been reading:
The Women of the Cousin’s War by Phillippa Gregory, David Baldwin, and Michael Jones
The White Queen by Phillippa Gregory
Elizabeth Wydeville: The Slandered Queen by Arlene Okerlund
The Woodvilles: The War of the Roses and England’s Most Infamous Family by Susan Higgenbotham
Secrets: Richard III Revealed (This is a documentary that I found on Netflix. Its main focus is Richard, Duke of Gloucester–how he lived, how he died, and how a team of archeologists excavated the remains of who they believe to be Richard III, buried under a city parking lot…it’s very interesting!)

Read on and have a happy Tuesday!

–Becca

I should point out that I am not in anyway an expert on The War of the Roses. I’m just incredibly pre-occupied by it! Also, links are affiliate, but also super good reads if you’re ready to geek out with me!

 

in the wardrobe

Field Guide To: Approaching Your First Capsule Wardrobe

July 8, 2015

Summer Capsule Wardrobe

 

If you’ve had any conversations with me about clothes lately, you know I’m all about the capsule wardrobe. Anytime I get a complement on an outfit I say “THANK YOU, it’s part of my 37 piece capsule wardrobe, you-should-totally-try-it, itchangedmylife!” Then I promptly direct them to this blog that is still my go-to resource for sartorial minimalism, and whose guidelines I followed pretty closely for my first capsule wardrobe. I’m seeing more and more talk about capsule wardrobes these days, so today I’m going to share how I approached my very first.

Quickly–why did I decide to minimize my wardrobe? There are several reasons, from a need to be more conscious about my spending habits to a desire to refine my wardrobe without adopting stuffy office attire. But mostly, I just really wanted to live with less. More on this on another day.

My first capsule wardrobe was Fall 2014. I was a month away from starting an internship and I looked in my closet and thought “I have nothing to wear.” The first truth was I had a closet bursting with clothes and a dresser of drawers that couldn’t close. The second truth was that I had plenty to wear, but my best pieces–and those that spoke to my style the most–were just totally cancelled out by the noise of everything else: cardigans that were missing buttons, jeans that hadn’t fit for five years, and a hoard of vintage dresses I was never going to alter.

So I put on some tunes and got to work. I sorted into three piles:

…the “why did I buy this” pile

…the “why am I shoving my body in this, it’s uncomfortable” pile

…and the “not appropriate for that season in Missouri in which it’s supposed to be cold” pile

The out-of-season clothes were stored, but the other items found a temporary home in a laundry basket in the corner of my room. Whatever was left became my first capsule wardrobe. It wasn’t exactly 37 pieces, but it was around there. It wasn’t perfectly coordinated, but most of it worked. And I didn’t 100% love everything that was left, but I had to strike a balance between want to keep/need to keep to make sure I actually had clothes to wear.

Throughout the next three months, I focused on wearing only those clothes from my “capsule” wardrobe, but I also allowed one thing to happen. Anytime I needed or wanted to, I “shopped” from that laundry basket. Sometimes I swapped items out of my capsule, sometimes I just added something outright.

I approached my first capsule wardrobe this way for two reasons. First, I was unable to actually spend money to build a capsule wardrobe at that time. So, I focused solely on paring down and then reworking what was left with the freedom of adding back in anything that piqued my interest again. This is a totally risk-free approach to building a capsule wardrobe. At the end of three months, I learned that I could mix and match a minimal wardrobe with success, but more important to me, my totally true, natural style started to emerge. A lot of black, a lot of skinny jeans, and a lot of ballet flats. And I totally loved it.

Three more capsule wardrobes later, I’ve started to figure out exactly how to make this concept work for me. I now commit fully to a capsule–no laundry basket of “maybes” lurking in the corner. Some capsules have been larger, some smaller. And this fall, I’ll be approaching the timeline very differently by exploring the idea of shopping for seasons that better reflect Missouri weather–like creating a macrocapsule wardrobe for “true winter” and a microcapsule wardrobe for that week or so between winter and spring that makes for a blizzard on a Tuesday with birds chirping you awake on a Wednesday.

So…are you up for trying a capsule wardrobe? If you need further convincing, read Becca’s post on how reducing the amount you own can make you feel awesome!

–Cat

in the field

First Year Teacher Prep: Document Sorter

July 7, 2015

Paint Swatches

Good morning! Today I am sharing with you another tool I will be using to organize and manage my classroom that I DIY’d using paint swatches.

While shadowing my soon-to-be co-workers during the last few weeks of student teaching, this lady introduced me to the organizational tool that is going to change my life. It’s a document sorter!

One thing that all teachers deal with is PAPER. From Kindergarten teachers to college professors–paper, paper, paper. Even in classrooms that take care to reduce, reuse, and recycle–and even those that utilize 1:1 technology–you’ll still find paper turned into a tray somewhere.

Having students turn papers into a tray automatically creates a jumbled mess of papers. But what if those papers could be alphabetized (and thus, coordinated with the structure of your grade book) as they’re turned in? The document sorter is the tool just for that. And here is my DIY version made with paint swatches, brads, and labels.

DIY Document Organizer

You’ll also need a hole punch, and I added masking tape to the back to keep the swatches from pivoting around the brads. It’s really just a matter of hole punching each swatch in two spots (except for the first one) and attaching it to the swatch that comes before and after.

Adding the labels extended the length of the swatch so that an 8.5×11 piece of paper could fit in between swatches without covering up the next label.  I used a Sharpie to label my swatches 1 through 24. If I gain a few students, I just have to snag a few more swatches and attach them to the back!

Find a piece of scrap cardboard (like from a tissue box) to attach behind the last swatch so there’s a landing place for the last piece of paper.

Can you think of other ways to use this document sorter to fulfill a professional/creative organizational need?

–Cat

in the kitchen

Red, White, and Blue Madeleines

July 3, 2015

Madeleine Trio for the 4th of July

Just a few days ago, my sister crossed madeleines off of her 26 Before 27 list of French recipes. Long story short, they were delicious. Today we bring you the same French dessert with a 4th of July twist. Of course, you could use this particular trio to celebrate holidays in any of the many countries that also have red, white, and blue flags. Take your pick!

The possibilities were endless when it came to creating red, white and blue colors, but we wanted a subtle celebratory factor with a focus on flavor. We settled on cherry almond, chocolate coconut, and lemon blueberry. All three are delicious, but the cherry almond is by far my favorite! If you only have enough time to tackle one flavor, do the cherry almond. Seriously.

Cherry and AlmondCoconut and Chocolate ChipsBlueberries and Lemon

Red, White, and Blue Madeleines
makes 12

For the batter:
7 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons milk

You’ll also need a special shell shaped pan, or you can use a mini muffin tin.

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Slowly melt the butter and set aside to cool. In a small bowl, sift together the flour and the baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until pale and frothy. Add the milk and honey to the cooled butter and then add mixture to egg, giving it a whisk to incorporate. Add half of the flour into the buttery egg mixture, stirring to eliminate lumps; incorporate remaining flour. At this point add any extract or citrus zest to flavor your madeleines (see below). Fill a pastry bag with your batter (or, like us, you can use a plastic Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off) and pipe enough batter to fill each shell 3/4 of the way full.

For cherry almond madeleines, add 1 teaspoon of pure almond extract to the batter. After piping the batter into the pan, add a dollop of cherry jam and a few slivers of almond into the center.

For lemon blueberry madeleines, fold the zest of 1 lemon into the batter. After piping the batter into the pan, add a few blueberry halves into the middle.

Bake for five minutes, rotate your pan and then bake for an additional seven minutes or until the edges have a golden brown hue. Remove from oven and transfer to a drying rack (wax paper will work as well).

For chocolate coconut madeleines, melt 1/2 cup of high quality dark chocolate in a double boiler. Dip baked and cooled madeleines into the chocolate and immediately sprinkle with coconut.

 

Fourth of July Madeleines

 

Happy 4th of July!

–Becca