Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Wind of Change. Part I

Why hello there, it's been a while I know, but this time I have a great reason for having a rather extended blogging hiatus. I've had some pretty massive life changes since my last post, mainly that I moved from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania to Zwickau in Germany. And then there is the added benefit of a surprise pregnancy during my move! So you see I've been quite busy, with real life, but that doesn't mean I didn't do a lot of costuming and reenactment events  in on the side! So here's a Little recap of what I've been up to since my last post. Broken up month by month and in 4 parts, to catch you up with my crazy goings on.

April 2014
I didn't do much costuming in April of 2014, I did make a bucket poke bonnet for  the HSF 2014
Tops and Toes challenge though.

Green silk lined with pink gingham silk, with paper lilies and a striped taffeta ribbon.

This was made from the pattern I got at the Lydia Fast workshop in 2012

 We spent most of the month getting our old  house  as spiffy as possible and put it on the market right after Easter. Lots of cleaning painting fixing stuff all moth long but it paid off our house looked the way we always intended it to look but never got around to for the 9 years we lived there.

Our vestibule never looked so good!

Neither did our living room.

I kind of miss our house. but it was time to move on.

We flew to Germany to visit the city we would be moving to and go hunt for an apartment. Turns out Zwickau is a nice town with lots and lots of art nouveau architecture, a quaint medieval city center and a picturesque little river slowly meandering through. 

Zwickau's theater is housed in this neat medieval building.

City hall

A cool medieval building.

Zwickau's claim to fame is that the composer Robert Schumann was born in this house.

The cathedral

This abandoned  factory by the river Mulde actually looks quaint.
Lovely art nouveau villa, there are literally hundreds of these in the city.

We struck gold with out apartment hunt which was mostly done online from the States. I decided to take the gamble on seeing an apartment that had no pictures with it's online listing at all, but it was in the downtown area, close to Bryan's work and all the essentials like shopping and schools nearby, and at a really decent price. 
Our apartment building
It turned out to be a gorgeous airy turn of the 19th century apartment with 10foot ceilings huge windows and best of all with the original art nouveau ornamental plasterwork on the ceiling and a massive art nouveau Kachelofen ( a tiled stove popular in Germany to this day and used for primary heating in houses until the 50s) still intact in the living room. I was sold as soon as I say the living room! 

Stained glass windows in the stairwell

Plaster crown molding on our living room ceiling

And a decorative center medallion

Our totally cool Kachelofen.

But the place has some other perks like a really cool loft  in one of the bedrooms that's perfect of Lottie to play in and of course the obligatory big ass German bathtub ( German bathtubs are almost always huge by American standards, big enough to stretch out and submerge your entire body, I could never figure out why Americans have such tiny tiny bathtubs?)!
The eBay picture of my diadem.
Aside from travel and apartment hunting I also got super lucky  in May and scored an original empire diadem comb for a somewhat affordable price. I may or may not write a post about it's restoration sometime in the future.

And after I restored it to it's former glory.

June 2014
We accepted an offer on our house in June, but the whole thing of actually finally getting the house sold is a saga in and of itself, let's just say we finally singed the final paperwork a month after the original closing date! I was sweating bullets about that one until the last second.
In June I had 2 fun costume events to attend. First off I finally got my bustle on thanks to the super awesome Beth Carson who made me the most frothy and delicious white bustle gown so I would have something to wear to go to Kat's Victorian garden party.

I can't express how awesome this dress is!

In exchange I made Beth a regency outfit. A 1790s open robe made from sari silk with a matching big fluffy hat! 
The 1790's open robe and round gown that I made for Beth

It has a nice flowy train.
It turns out that we are almost exactly the same size ( well, pre my pregnancy, who knows how this is going to end waist size wise for me) so it was super easy for us to make outfits for each other in our personal favorite time periods that we are most comfortable and efficient sewing things for. 

Costume twin butt bump!
It was much faster than either of us tackling a new period, since we can both pretty much crank out entire outfits within days in our favorite periods. I see this becoming a very good costume swap partnership!

The party itself was delightful as are all of Kat's parties ( one of the few things I actually miss about America is being able to drive down to Philly to go hang out with my fabulously club girls and go to Kat's  awesome costume parties)

I made a little hat to go with my ensemble

 The day was sunny, the champagne was plentiful and as a surprise Kat and her husband Jason did a vow renewal for of their 10 year wedding anniversary! Now isn't that's super sweet!

And Beth lent me a ruffly pink parasol to match.

Group Photo

Things got pretty wild!
I sold 2 hats to Erin that day!

The aftermath
I wish Bryan would be up for that sort of thing, but alas I doubt I could ever get him to do a regency themed vow renewal.

The happy couple

The last weekend of June was spent at the museum village of of Old Bedford for Brigade Napoleon's Annual Grand Tactique. My friend Erin and I tagged along to cook for the guys and got to stay overnight in one of the old houses.
                                                                                   Tilted Pirate Photography
Unfortunately we somehow ended up with a really crappy and extremely creepy house where only the front room had been restored to resemble a 19th century weavers shop.
The back of the house where we where staying, was left in the state of it's last owner before being moved to the museum village, in horrible dusty 1970s style. It's was so bad we called it the serial killer house. But other than the serial killer house I found, the event really enjoyable. 

                                                                                     Tilted Pirate Photography
We met many wonderful people cooked plenty of yummy food and even got invited to tea with Napoleon himself!
Tea with the emperor
Where I elegantly manged to swat a piece of cake off a platter with my fan while furiously fanning myself to battle the heat, keeping it classy In front of the emperor, that's me!

Apparently Mike is a Royalist
Because I don't have much in the way of lower class work clothes and I did a lot of cooking and dirty stuff I made a quick and easy short gown that I could wear without stays with only my my petticoat underneath in the morning so I dint have to get all dressed up while cooking breakfast.  
I think it turned out a bit small, but it did it's job and I since sold it to Someone that's a bit smaller than myself so it all works out perfectly!

My short gown

back view
I think it tuned out a tad bit to small but it did it's job. So all is well.
I also made a new hat for Erin inspired by the Military style Minerva bonnets of the late 1790.'s
It's pretty spiffy if I may say so myself.

Erin sporting her Minerva bonnet.

I Spent pretty much all of July in a mad dash to get ready for the Jane Austen festival in Louisville Kentucky. I had a bunch of commissions to finish as well as stuff for the shop and of course I needed some new clothes as well.

Kathy wearing one of the gowns I made for her.

Julia wearing a drop front gown I made from her from the new Laughing moon pattern

 I made a 1790s round gown from a cotton sari that I had bought in India. It turned out lovely and it wonderfully light and airy, you just can't beat Indian cotton sarees for their soft sheerness!

My new Sari Gown

                                                                        Bingley's Teas

In front of my set up.

With Reva and Jenny
Jane fest was a huge success business wise I went out with a bang selling out my wares, which is a good thing since I couldn't really take my business with me to Germany. 

                                                                                         Photo by Amy Liebert

Like a box of macaroons
It was also nice to see everyone one last time before the big move.

I walked int the grand promenade, it broke the Guinness world record for most people in regency attire.
My friends and I decided not to go to the ball that night and instead spent Saturday night at the pool eating pizza and playing cards against humanity. Fun times!
I just had to wear my new diadem, never mind that i was selling stuff all day !

August 2014

We started packing up our stuff, and sold or gave away most of our furniture and household items. 

my costumes and fabric stash where packed and shipped to Germany in vacuum bags.

On august 12th Lottie and I took the greyhound bus overnight to New York City to go to the German consulate to get a German passport for her and have mine renewed.
6 AM selfie on times square
I usually love NYC but this was a  miserable trip, our bus back to Pittsburgh was delayed by 6 hours and we where routed through Baltimore where we had to spend the night in the bus  station. 

The United Nations building
Believe me spending a night In a dirty creepy bus station with an exhausted 6 year old while having been awake for close to 30 hours is not fun. The only good thing about the trip was that after we went to the consulate  I took Charlotte to the huge American girl store and she was beyond excited!

Charlotte took her Felicity doll along to get her ears pierced at the store

The lucky girl got a ballet outfit for her doll and a old timey nightgown for herself.
But she deserved it, she was a trooper at 3am in the bust station.
 I also got a treat I hit up Mood fabrics and bought some amazing silk taffeta, for a gown to wear at court the next month!  3 days after our NYC trip we finally singed on our house and moved out that day. We then Took the rest of our stuff  including 2 cats, down to Georgia. But first we had to catch our escaped cat Fina. seems she didn't want to move to Germany and decided to make a run for it as we where trying to get out of the house.

The poor cats
We had our car Bryan's truck and a Bryan's dad's van packed to the roof with our belongings. So we took what was left of our worldly possessions down to Georgia most of it we took to my mother, who was in the process of selling her house and moving to Germany herself, and had ordered a shipping container that she generously shared with us so we could take some things to Germany with us.  

Lottie got a suitcase almost as big as herself!
The rest we stored in my in laws basement for when we come back ( if we come back ). We spent about a week in Georgia with Bryan's parents before we packed up our kid, our cats, and what ever we could fit in our suitcases and flew to Germany.

On the way to the airport we let Amadeus out of his cage one last time before the long flight.
 I actually had a suitcase mostly dedicated to costumes and took my 2 best bonnets on the plane with me as a carry on in a hat box cause I'm crazy like that, but I had 2 events in Europe already lined up that where taking place before the shipping container would get my costume stuff to me, so priorities people!!!

my carry on's where a huge hat box....

.....and a cat, doesn't that tell you a lot about me ?
We flew into Frankfurt. Where my brother picked us up at the airport with a massive rental van to hold all our crap, I packed within an inch of the luggage allowance and my mother said we looked like Gypsies at the airport with everything we owned including our kid and pets in tow.

We needed 3 luggage carts for all our stuff!

And a huge van!
 And in a way she was right, who other than Gypsies would do such crazy things as voluntarily move countries with only what they can carry with them ,oh wait that would be us!
Then my brother drove us the 4  hours from Frankfurt to Zwickau. Where we deposited our stuff and the cats in our empty apartment and while we still had the big van to transport things we went to a local furniture store to buy some life essentials like mattresses, bedding, towels and a kitchen table and chairs.

Bryan and my brother Patrick putting together our dining set.
We also had to get a littler box and litter and food for the poor cats who had been dragged half across the world with us. So that's how we started our new life in Germany, sleeping on mattresses on the floor, eating food that doesn't need refrigeration because German apartments don't usually come with kitchen appliances, or cabinets for that matter. We had to buy all that and find a way to transport it without a car. Let me tell you that furnishing our place without a car has been an adventure, and did I mention we live on the 3rd floor, it's been a lot of heavy lifting around here!
Just a week after moving Charlotte started first grade in Germany. The beginning of school is a huge deal in Germany, even more so in eastern Germany where we now live, than in the west where I grew up.

Charlotte and her Schultüte
The kids get a Schultüte, a cone shaped decorated cardboard contraption kind of like a cornucopia, that's filled with sweets presents and school supplies. I had to organize one of those very fast as well so she would have one at the beginning of school festivities. Most families not only give their children a Schultüte but also have a family gathering, they usually have a party in honor of the new student with friends and family in attendance, we didn't however, because for one thing we don't have any family or friends in Zwickau and for another we where headed to an even bigger party, my cousin got married that same day so as soon as the official school ceremony was over we headed to Bavaria to attend my cousins wedding. No rest for the weary! But it was a very lovely wedding indeed, and Charlotte got much bigger selection of cake than she would have gotten at a traditional beginning of school party so it worked out for all of us.

That's it for part one I promise it won't take another year and half to post the remaining parts of this story. I will post again soon, it's all written and just needs the pictures added and some editing done, so bear with me!

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