Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tintypes and Toddlers

For today's Shutterbug Saturday, I wanted to show you one my FAVORITE photos of myself and my favorite little friends. This was taken by Erin, over at For Him and My Family, at the Lamoni, IA reenactment last year. I'm dressed in one of my favorite impressions, a Confederate mounted Vivandiere, and holding her youngest, Fionna.

Now, I don't normally really like kids, but this little one, well...she's something special. A spitfire ball of destruction and curiosity, wrapped up an a whirlwind of attitude. I took the normal photo, and edited it to look like an old Tintype of the era. Which just makes this even more special to me.

Love and Lightning Bugs, 

Summer Vacation Fun Sweepstakes

Ahh... Summer is here and flying by fast, but there's still plenty of time to enjoy the sun and the pool!! So, how about some prizes to make that summer fun just a little funner? With the help of my wonderful sponsors, we have a great selection of prizes to give away!

A 2-Year Membership to Red Week!! For all you Vacation Stay Needs!

A $50 Store Credit to Small Concepts!!

Your choice Zoobie Pet! The winner can choose any available Blanket Pet, Blankie Baby, Duffel Dog, or Book Buddy.

I know it's hot outside but, who doesn't want to Win Chocolate? Especially Asher's Boardwalk Crunch.

Last But Never Least is the yummy Ben and Jerry's Prize pack!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Love and Lightning Bugs,

Friday, June 29, 2012

Juppy Baby Walker Giveaway

Oh My goodies with the Fun & Oh My Goodies are teaming up with a few other bloggers
for a GIVEAWAY! 
What you will receive is your choice of Pink or blue
(as pictured below)
With the choice of 1 word embroidered.

This item was reviewed by Oh My Goodies which you can read the review ~> HERE <~

Oh My Goodies with the fun , Oh My Goodies, Just Another Static Heart, are NOT responsible for the delivery of The Juppy. Item will be mailed out by The Juppy Baby Walker company  once the winner is picked! In order to win you must enter!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blogger Opps

There are some AWESOME blogger opps open right now! Check out these great ones below, and sign up!

The LoveSac CitySac Package Giveaway Event hosted by Mom Powered Media: Iowa-Mom, Powered by Mom and Real Mom Reviews is now open to bloggers!
Cost is $5 or free with announcement post. See bloggers wanted post for more details.
Prize: Cow Phur CitySac Package (retail value $900)
Open to: US only
The event dates: July 3 – July 24
Blogger Note – (Canadian/other bloggers may participate in this event if you have a large number of US readers/traffic)
Link options are: Email, RSS, Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon and Pinterest.

The Walk In Sync Giveaway Event hosted by Schmoozing With Betsy and Book Cover Justice.
Cost is $5 or free with announcement post.
Prize: Walk In Sync training leash and harness for dogs *1 winner*
Open to: US only
The event dates: July 18, 2012  - July 31, 2012

The Kindle Fire & Diamond Candles Giveaway Event hosted by Bay Area Mommy.
Cost is $5 or free with announcement post.
Prize: One Diamond Candle & One Kindle Fire *2 winners*
Open to: Worldwide
The event dates: July 25, 2012  - August 15, 2012

The Dyson DC24 Cleaner Home Giveaway Event hosted by Iowa-Mom, Powered by Mom and Real Mom Reviews is now open to bloggers!
Cost is $5 or free with announcement post.
Prize: Dyson DC24 All Floors Vacuum (retail value $399)
Open to: Worldwide
The event dates: August 3, 2012  - August 24, 2012

Love and Lightning Bugs,

New Product - Media Kits

Well, I've come up with another great product for my blogging friends!

I've been having a blast designing custom Media Kits for bloggers and website owners. So far I have made two for customers, and working on a third for a dear friend. I'm only charging $20 for a kit, which includes two different copies, one editable and one not, and I'm even happy to fill in all the info to save you all the trouble. If you just want a design made for you, I'm only charging $10, but I'll still fill in the Header section, and all the titles if you like. Here's an example of my media page, so you can see what yours could look like!

I'm also more than happy to make it match your current background colors or theme, like you can see mine does. Please feel free to contact me about more information!
Love and Lightning Bugs,

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Weird Hobbies: Steampunk

As some of  the you may have noticed, I’ve been talking a lot about Steampunk lately. I’ve gotten a few questions asking just what ‘Steampunk’ is, and I decided that to properly cover the topic, I needed to write a post about it. This will be a bit 'out there' for people not already used to a sci-fi subculture, but I promise, it's a ton of fun and all good fun!

To start, I figure I might tell you a bit out my persona in the Steampunk world: Willow Quinn. She was born in 1887 in one of the various tunnels that runs underneath the city of Dublin, Ireland. Her parents were very poor, and these tunnels were the only semblance of safe housing they had. However, as happened often in those days, they were mysteriously found dead one evening, causing the then 9 year old Willow to turn to the only thing she knew: Stealing to survive. Luckily, she was always a very bright child, and excelled in this. During her years in the Catacombs, she honed her skills, and was one of the most sought after ‘Acquirers’ in all of Dublin by the age of 18. She’s secretly a shapeshifter though, as were her parents, and can take the shape of a Silver Fox. This does wonders for her profession. In the 23 years of her life however, she’s been on a constant watch for those who hunt her, the men and women who make it their goal in life to destroy the Beast Kin, as they call her kind. She is easily given away by her voice, as Beast Kin voices are often a mixture and melding of many different accents, and fluctuate often. She is safest when keeping silent.

What is Steampunk?
In three short words, Steampunk is Victorian science fiction. Here “Victorian” is not meant to indicate a specific culture, but rather references a time period and an aesthetic: the industrialized 19th century. Historically, this period saw the development of many key aspects of the modern world : mechanized manufacturing, extensive urbanization, telecommunications, office life and mass-transit. Steampunk uses this existing technology and structure to imagine an even more advanced 19th century, often complete with Victorian-inspired wonders like steam-powered aircraft and mechanical computers.

Where did Steampunk come from?
In some sense, Steampunk has existed since the 19th century. The Victorian period had its own science fiction, perhaps most famously embodied by the works of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, and throughout the 20th century there have been later-day science fiction stories set in the Victorian period. However, the term “Steampunk” was not coined until the late 1980s, when author K. W. Jeter used it humorously to describe a grouping of stories set in the Victorian period written during a time when near-future cyberpunk was the prevailing form of science fiction.

The line between Steampunk and period Victorian is narrow, and sometimes the two are indistinguishable. They are separated only by Steampunk’s status as science fiction, albeit heavily inspired by the historical fact of the Victorian period. This is generally accomplished in one of two ways. The “proto-Steampunk” stories of the 19th century can be seen as a parallel to our own science fiction; that is, a view of the future from the present. For the Victorians, this meant imagining a future that looks dramatically un-modern to modern eyes. Submarines, space travel, aircraft and mechanized life were all imagined by the Victorians, but while some of these came very close to the mark they still differed from where the future actually went. For modern writers, with the benefit of modern science, Steampunk becomes a re-imagining of the 19th century with a view of where science will one day go. In this way, Steampunk often works to translate modern concepts such as the computer revolution, spy thrillers, noir mysteries and even the Internet into a Victorian context using Victorian technology. Steampunk becomes the perfect blending of alternate history and science fiction.

Where does the steam come in?
Steampunk’s steam references more than simply the technology itself, although steam engines are a vital aspect of life in a Steampunk world. Steam more generally signifies a world in which steam technology is both dominant and prolific. During the Victorian era, steam power revolutionized almost every aspect of life. The steam engine made full-scale industrialization possible and produced mechanical power more efficiently and to greater degrees than human and animal labor could manage on their own. Mechanized manufacturing and farming caused an upheaval in the structure of working life, but they dramatically increased society’s productivity and freed up an entire section of society to form the modern class of professionals and office workers. The changes in society brought on by steam-driven industrialization allowed for the unprecedented developments in sciences, society and goods that came to be associated with the Victorian era. Steampunk takes inspiration from these changes and applies them to whatever culture it influences.

What about gears?
The gear is an easily recognized symbol of Steampunk, but it is not unique to the genre. It was invented long before the 19th century and it remains in use today. The gear in Steampunk joins related devices such as flywheels and pistons as the “power lines” of the steam age. Steam power is mechanical power and its transmission demands a network of moving parts in the same way that electrical power transmission demands wires. The gear on its own is not especially “Steampunk” but when put to use in 19th century machinery it becomes a key icon of the genre. I myself don't have any gears in my outfit, as what good would a thief be with loud gear-workings on her?

What about goggles?
Goggles are often encountered in Steampunk clothing and imagery, and this can create the misleading impression that they are somehow fundamental to the “Steampunk look.” Certainly, goggles are associated with both science and mechanized travel, both of which are common themes in Steampunk. However, this does not mean that everyone in a Steampunk setting wears goggles; in fact, only people who have a reason to wear them do so, and then only while it is useful. As with scarves, driving coats, aprons and overalls, goggles are a piece of fashion that can help give life to a Steampunk world when used properly and in moderation, but can rapidly border upon the ludicrous when turned into an end rather than a means. I myself have no use for goggles in my persona, therefore, I don’t have a pair. I decided to focus more on what my Persona would actually need, instead of giving in to this certain craze of the Steampunk universe.

What is the appeal of Steampunk?
A genre as large as Steampunk has a wide-ranging appeal. Some people are drawn to it from a love of the Victorian period, like myself. Others enjoy Steampunk’s unique approach to technology: re-imagining modern capabilities with 19th century machines.  Many people are drawn to it in light of its fashion aspects, which allow them to sample and even combine a range of clothing styles and accessories from across the 19th century world. One critical aspect of Steampunk is the tremendous diversity of appeal it presents, which allows it to offer something for just about everyone. The genre possesses a life of its own that draws in fans from countless directions and backgrounds into a world where fashion is tailored to the individual, goods are made to last, and machinery is still regarded as a thing of visual majesty.

Steampunk sounds great! Where’s an easy place to start?
The basic rule of thumb for Steampunk is “start period and then add.” One of Steampunk’s great advantages is that the period it is inspired by, the Victorian era, saw the invention of photography and cinematic film. These in turn allowed for a visual record of people from all different classes, cultures and backgrounds, providing an unprecedented amount of reference material. People looking for fashion ideas, character inspirations or scenes to describe can find a wealth of starting points in the countless vintage photographs and film reels left over from the 19th century. All that remains is to add to or modify the depictions to taste. I myself have used various components from my Civil War Reenacting and reincorporated them into my Willow persona. For instance, my utility belt is made up of cap pouches and a cartridge box on a Georgia frame belt. My corset will now be worn on the outside of my clothing, all my boots are interchangeable, etc.

I hope this clears a few things up for those of you who asked, and I plan to have more posts about my Steampunk adventures in the future.

Love and Lightning Bugs,


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer Vacation Fun Sweepstakes Flash Giveaway

Starting on 6/30 we will be having a BIG Summer Vacation Fun Sweepstakes!! So as a teaser we are going to kick off a Flash Giveaway! Python Printable Games is offering one Coupons and Friends Reader a 4th of July Printable Games Pack complete with 20 different games that you can print however many times you like!

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Love and Lightning Bugs,

Monday, June 25, 2012

Rabbits; Not For Everyone

People who haven't lived with rabbits often ask me if rabbits make "good pets". I almost never have the time to properly explain why this question shouldn't really apply to rabbits, nor why I think rabbits are NOT for most people. Hence, since I have found time, I shall do just that.

It seems that for most people, an animal is perceived as a "good pet" if she shows affection in ways human beings can understand without much effort (e.g., lapsitting or coming when called), if she participates in games humans easily comprehend ("catch," "fetch," or "chase the string"), or if she makes an obvious effort to communicate vocally (barking to be let in or out, mewing for supper). People usually seem fairly sure these qualities cannot be expected in a rabbit, and hence, that rabbits would not make "good pets." Alternatively, some people expect such traits in all rabbits and may be disappointed in one who is unwilling or unable to comply with their expectations. For example, one of my rabbits, Claudia (a Lionhead/Flemish Giant cross), hates to be picked up, but it more than happy to lay down next to you and be petted.

The second question I get, "Are rabbits more like cats or dogs?" is a natural to follow the first. My usual response is, "Are people more like fish or cockatoos?" After all, rabbits are like rabbits, and the only way to find out what they are like is to live with one or more. You'll find that rabbits share a few characteristics with dogs, a few with cats, and a few with humans. They probably even share a few with fish and cockatoos. But mostly they're like rabbits, and learning what rabbits are like is part of the joy of living with them. The fact that this question, like the "good pets" one, is asked at all makes clear the human position that in order to be considered of value in our world, other species must conform to our notions of what is "good."

The implication that some animals (usually dogs and cats) are simply "better pets" than others rests on the assumption that in order to fit into our lives, all animals should resemble those to whom we are already accustomed. Such an assumption removes the responsibility for the relationship from the human being and places it solely on the animal. Although the rabbit is expected to comply with human expectations, all too often the human being never even considers complying with hers. But in almost every case, a wonderful new relationship is forged when you begin complying with the expectations of a rabbit. My other rabbit, Maylene (A mutt of sorts) has the tendency to throw objects about whenever she’s outside of her cage. This can be anything from a hairbrush or newspaper, to a full sized cowboy boot. But watching her toss around something, then run and binky with glee…there is nothing quite like it.

Do we expect too much or not enough? I hesitate to tell people not to expect their rabbits to jump up on their legs, leap into their laps, or lick their hands, because some rabbits do these things. But too many people expect such behaviors and express disappointment when their rabbits do not comply. None of the rabbits I live with currently do any of these dog-like things, but over the years I have discovered a range of interesting activities they engage in that the dogs and cats in my family never even thought about. Claudia may not jump into my lap, and she's more likely to bite my hand than lick it, but she manages to growl in annoyance while simultaneously cavorting with joy across the floor, and makes demands more effectively than any of my noisier critters. For instance, every time I walk by her cage, she places her paws on the bars and presents her head to be petted. If I refuse, or forget, to pet her, the cage door is soon rattling, shaking, and the floor being scratched in her anger. Maylene on the other hand, trails behind me like a puppy when she's loose in the house, and will even pull on my pant leg  to let me know she's there. She'll also hop around my feet, in a circle, and expects me to circle her after. She's my follower, and Claudia is my runner.

No small part of the problem lies in our use of the term "pet." After all, a pet is "one who is petted," implying passivity and ownership. We seldom call other human beings "pets," and most people would consider it an insult if we did. By using the term to describe animals we are diminishing their importance in our lives. We are denying their right to individuality and a lifestyle that may or may not include allowing us to fawn over them. On the other hand, a rabbit who is a companion is one who’s like our human friends, and is encouraged to develop the personality nature gave her and is appreciated for who she is.

So what should I say when people ask if rabbits are "good pets"? I don't want to assure folks that they are, because I know the implications of the phrase. On the other hand, if I hesitate and explain, they'll think I'm making excuses. They may be unable to see what is special about rabbits. Perhaps those of us who know, through experience, what rabbits are like should decline to answer these questions at all. Instead explain that rabbits make wonderful, exciting, intelligent companions for wonderful, exciting, intelligent people. After all, living up to the expectations of a rabbit takes a lot of work! Their type of person is adventurous, charmed by evidence of spunk and vigor, and willing to learn a new language, a new lifestyle, and a new code of behavior.

This brings me to another point, which is that rabbits are quite a lot of work. If you’re still interested in getting a rabbit after reading the above information, please seriously consider the following information before making a decision that will affect the life of a rabbit or two and every member in your household.

The best place for pets to live is indoors with their human families, and this applies to rabbits, too. Many bunnies today live as house rabbits, roaming freely throughout the home just like dogs and cats do. There are several reasons rabbits shouldn't live outdoors:
·    Domestic rabbits are different from their wild relatives—they don't do well in extreme temperatures, especially summer heat.
·    Even in a safe enclosure, rabbits are at risk from predators. Just the sight or smell of a predator can cause rabbits so much stress that they can suffer a heart attack and literally die of fear.
Whether your rabbit has free rein in your house or is confined to a "rabbitat," she needs a private space where she can feel safe and comfortable. There are several different housing systems for rabbits. Whatever kind you choose, make sure to keep it clean and well-stocked with hay, water, and the other necessities that make her house a home.

Most rabbit cages sold in pet stores are too small. Your bunny needs more than just a few square feet for her home. If your rabbit is free to roam through the whole house or an entire room, a small cage like this may be ok as a base of operations. But if your rabbit is in her cage for extended periods of time, she'll need a much larger place to live. A rabbit's cage should be a minimum of five times the size of the rabbit. She should be able to completely stretch out in her cage and stand up on her hind legs without bumping her head on the top of the cage. Look for larger, multi-level rabbit homes offered by some pet supply stores and specialty online retailers. These cages give your bunny a lot of room to move around. Whatever type of cage you get, make sure that the floors and resting platforms are solid, not wire, which can hurt your rabbits feet.

Not all rabbits need a traditional cage. Another option is to use a puppy pen or x-pen to contain your rabbit. As long as the pen contains the appropriate amenities, that will work just fine.

If you're more of a do-it-yourselfer, you can easily build a home for your rabbit. Homemade cages are easy to make with a minimum number of tools. If you're willing to put in the time, you can build a very large, very nice cage for a fraction of the cost of purchasing one.

If you have a large home with many rooms, you can even devote an entire room to your rabbits. For starters, avoid flooring that's too slick for rabbit feet, like linoleum. Textured tiles usually work well and are easy to clean. Carpeting is fine too, if your rabbits have good litterbox habits and you can trust them not to chew the carpet. Replacing a regular door with a transparent door or Dutch door can allow you to keep an extra eye on your bunnies.

In any home, it's important for a rabbit have a secluded place to hide. A cardboard box with a hole cut in it will be fine (staples and tape removed for safety). Rabbits usually sleep during the day and night, becoming playful at dawn and dusk, so they may use this box as a bedroom.
Also, don't forget the necessities, like one or more litterboxes with litter, hay, and water, and plenty of great chew toys to keep your bunny stimulated.

Your home also needs to be prepared. Rabbits have a tendency to chew on furniture, nibble on or through cords, eat houseplants (poisonous or not) and may have potty accidents. It is up to you to protect any rabbit coming into your home as well as your belongings. We call this rabbit-proofing your home. 

Parents should always be the primary care taker of any animal family member. Small children and rabbits do not make a good combination. Young children do not have the dexterity to handle a rabbit safely and securely. Often, when small children attempt to lift and/or carry a rabbit, one or both end up hurt. I do not recommend children under the age of nine to be allowed to handle rabbits. All too often, parents purchase a rabbit for a child family member; Easter is one of the heaviest times of the year for this. The child is excited, the rabbit is terrified, the child looses interest, the rabbit is ignored and unwanted and the parents end up disappointed and resentful. It is the parent's responsibility, regardless of the situation, to ensure that ALL family members are safe, happy, healthy, cared for and loved.

Additional Animal Family Members
Any introductions should be done slowly and with strict supervision. Some animals should not ever be considered for introductions. One such animal is a ferret. They are precise, accurate, and avid hunters of rabbits. Dogs should never be left alone with a rabbit. The most friendly, calm canine's instincts to hunt or herd could be awakened. Even in play, the rabbit could end up seriously injured or worse. Introducing a new rabbit with a current rabbit family member needs special consideration beyond a slow introduction.  Guinea Pigs, cats and birds are some possible animal family members, but consideration must be given to their personalities and behaviors. A bird imitating a hawk or being excessively noisy can cause stress to a rabbit , which will affect the rabbit's health and personality. Rabbits, like people, have very distinctive personalities along with likes and dislikes.

Veterinary Care
You should locate and have onboard a rabbit knowledgeable vet in your area before welcoming a rabbit into your family. Emergencies are always unexpected and the best way to handle them are to be prepared as much as possible ahead of time! You could check the National House Rabbit Society's list of recommended vets on their web site at or check your local Yellow Pages. Regardless of your choice, you will need to interview any potential vet. Locate at least a couple of perspective vets and schedule a time to actually go in and meet them. Ask a lot of questions and don't hesitate to ask detailed, personal ones. Once you have made a decision. It is also a good idea, once adopting a rabbit into your family, to schedule an appointment with your vet so everyone can get familiar with one another and to set up a spay or neuter if your rabbit isn't already altered.

If anyone in the household has fur or hay allergies, rabbits will not be an acceptable addition to your family. If you are unsure, it would be in everyone's best interest to visit a local shelter to see whether or not any allergies are triggered.

If after considering the previous information you feel a rabbit would be an appropriate and wonderful addition to your family, please consider adopting from a local shelter or rescue organization. There are many wonderful rabbits waiting in shelters hoping for a loving, adoptive family of their own.

Why adopt a bunny? For every pet you buy from a pet store or breeder, a pet in a shelter is euthanized. Unfortunately, that is the simple math. There are only so many homes for bunnies. Shelters are overflowing with unwanted and discarded pets. There is only so much they can do without your help. Supporting pet stores and breeders only contributes to the problem. Sadly, even rescuing from a pet store simply encourages them to order more from a breeder.
If you're not yet ready to adopt, please consider fostering a bunny or perhaps a bonded pair - that also gives us the ability to rescue another bunny (or two) that desperately need our help!!

Adopting an adult animal means many things:
·    They have already gone through their hormonal changes
·    Their behavior is already known and more consistent than when they are growing babies
·    They have already been through a hard time and will likely be very appreciative of a second chance
·    There is a special reward you get from saving a bunny as opposed to just getting a cute novelty on a whim
·    Rabbits in shelters and rescues have usually been socialized by volunteers as part of the rehabilitative process
·    Adoptable bunnies are already spayed or neutered and so are far less inclined to certain health and behavioral problems

If you are a first-time bunny parent, you will be far happier adopting a socialized adult rabbit who already knows how to deal with humans and is much easier to make friends with. Shelter and rescue personnel know and care deeply about the animals - breeders and petstore employees typically don't and the animals you get from them may be more inclined to health problems. In some cases they may also have been subjected to mistreatment; rescue/shelter volunteers will work with you to help you pick the best pet for you and your lifestyle, with the rabbit's best interests in mind. When you adopt an animal from a shelter, you are saving a life, giving a previously unhappy soul a chance at happiness, and are creating the space for the shelter to rescue yet another animal that desperately needs proper care and shelter

There is no greater joy than ending a life of suffering...without ending a life.

Love and Lightning Bugs,

Sunday, June 24, 2012

How A Lady Should Dress

As many of you know by now, I'm a Civil War Reenactress. I've been recently asked a few questions concerning how a lady dresses in this hobby, and I thought now might be a good time to cover that. This particular question will depend on the impression you portray, but for the most part, everything is still the same, just the colors and material change. Let’s start with the basics.

These will be according to closeness to skin, so we’ll begin with your ‘unmentionables’, and work our way out!

Layer 1

* Drawers made of cotton or linen.
-       That’s right ladies, as horrifying as it sounds, there was no underwear like we know it today. Drawers, not bloomers, were like linen or cotton pants, which could be as short as the knee, or as long as the ankles, depending on wearer preference. The fancier ones were trimmed with lace. They were tucked beneath the chemise and corset. So what happened when a lady had to relieve herself? There were these amazing inventions called split bloomers, and they are amazing! There is a split that runs from the front to the back, allowing the wearer to use the facilities without becoming completely undressed to do so. Have you ever struggled at a reenactment, trying to use one of those tiny port-a-john’s? It’s hard enough with all the layers and the hoop…trust me, the split bloomers are a God send. I hated them until I tried them, and there is no going back. Plus, they help keep you cooler in the hot summer months.

* Chemise (long undershirt) usually made of linen.
-     Depending on what material this is made from, and the length, it can either be wonderfully cool or insufferably hot. My chemise is made from white cotton, and falls to about mid-calf. It is an off the shoulder chemise, allowing me to use it with everything I wear, not just my everyday bodice, but my ball gowns as well. I sewed in some sheer cotton panels along the side, allowing for some extra breathability in the summer. In the winter, I use a heavier chemise. You can either tuck the chemise into your drawers, or allow it to fall freely, and act as an extra privacy petticoat. I prefer the latter.

* Stockings
 -    In all honesty, I have always just used knee high thin wool or cotton socks. But this is because I find those thick striped stocking from Sutlers kind of ugly. I prefer a white or black stocking, not orange, red, green, yellow, or any of the other colors that I have managed to glimpse other reenactresses wearing.

Layer 2

* Corset or stays stiffened with whale bone
-       Don’t worry too much, as most corsets made today have no whale products in them, and instead use steel boning. A good corset should NOT be constraining. The fashion of making yourself thin with the corset was really started between 1870-1880. During the War years, it was simply used to lift, support, and help manage. And yes ladies, ALL women wore a corset. Working, wealthy, and even pregnant women wore a corset. It was like wearing a bra today; you wore it, or were considered vulgar and loose. A good quality corset will not pinch or bind, but will actually help straiten the back and ease some of the weight off your chest. I would suggest one made from canvas, or a heavier duty material.

* Corded petticoat, hoop skirt, or 1 or 2 petticoats
-     Now, there is a very strict layering system in place for these garments, and it goes as follows, one or two under, or privacy, petticoats, then the hoop, or corded petticoat, and a couple of other petticoats to put over the hoop, or corded petticoat. So something like this: petticoat, petticoat, hoop, petticoat, petticoat. Now there are many differences between the three support garments. The corded petticoat was fashionable before the 1850’s, when the hoop skirt or cage was invented. It was a skirt, with many rows of thick cord sewn on. For a working class impression, this is a popular option, along with two or three petticoats. The hoop skirt, or sometimes called a cage, has more support, and allows for a bigger bell shape. This is more common among the upper class or wealthy impressions.

Layer 3

* Corset cover, or camisole and over petticoat
-       It was common place among wealth ladies who could afford a sheer dress or garibaldi blouse to wear a corset cover or camisole. This garment was designed to allow a lady her modesty, but completely covering the corset from view. I made my corset cover out of a thrifted blouse. I removed the sleeves, altered the neckline a bit, and voila, a cheap corset cover. These are best made out of cotton, and can be as ornate or as simple as you like.

Layer 4

* Bodice
-       The outer clothing, the clothing seen, will depend hugely on your impression. Younger ladies of wealth were the only ones who could wear the much too often seen garibaldi blouse. It was simply not common for a lady over 30 to wear such a garment. The blouse in question was made from silk, not cotton, and therefore was a sheer and light blouse.

* Skirt, sometimes held up with "braces" (suspenders)
-       Younger ladies of wealth could afford many different colored fabrics, and often times wore a skirt and bodice of different vivid colors. Younger working class ladies wore a simple dress and bodice of the same fabric, and may even have a one piece dress instead of a two piece one. They could wear brighter colors and calicos as well though. Older ladies, 30+, in general wore more muted colors.

* Belt
-     The belt was a very common item to be worn, and could be any kind of fabric or leather. Ladies of any age could wear belts, and it was often times used to hang a fan, chatelaine, purse, etc off of. The belt could have a buckle, be tired like a sash, or have a rosette clasp.

* Shoes
-     Depending on what you’re going to be doing will alter your footwear. I have a few different pairs of boots and slippers just for the differing occasions. Normal footwear for a lady in camp would be a simple leather traveling boot, which is ankle high, and laces all the way up. I have these in white, black, and brown. For a riding shoe, these same boots can be worn, but I prefer my knee high leather riding boots. For dances, slippers were more common. Slippers were made of satin, velvet, done in knit, or crochet on the top, and had a hard soled bottom. Some were high heeled, others were flat.

Layer 5 

* Shawl, jacket, or mantle
-       No matter what, you need to have some kind of wrap on. Be it a simple crochet shawl, a lace shawl, or a full on jacket. If you were outside, you had a wrap on. I use a peletot jacket I made for all my impressions, since it was useful in almost all situations.

* Gloves or mitts
-     No polite lady showed her bare flesh in public, and that included the hands. If you’re outside, you should be wearing wrist length gloves. The hands were covered when outdoors, and only taken off when eating or when prompted by the lady of the house whom you were visiting. The gloves should be in muted colors of white, black, or brown. This applies mostly to upper class ladies, as they would not need their hands for the task of cooking or cleaning. At home though, all ladies went without gloves. I prefer my leather riding gloves, but I use cotton and wool as well. Crochet mitts were popular among older ladies, and crochet gloves were used as well.

* Parasol
-     This is again something for ladies of some wealth. Fair skin was a sign of money, since you could afford to be inside and not work out of the home. A good parasol is made of silk, but there are so many different styles that you really need to do your research in order to find one that is right for you.

* Bonnet or hat
-     Again, a must for ALL ladies. A hat or bonnet helps keep the sun off your face, works to shade your eyes, and covers the hair. There are many many different styles, but upper class ladies were more likely to have a bonnet that didn’t cover the face, such as a spoon, settler, or fashion bonnet.  Hats were also a very popular accessory, but were more commonly worn by younger ladies.

* Bag or purse
* Handkerchief
* Hand Fan

Whew! And that isn’t even all of the things that you can have, but those that are at least required. I hope that helps some of you ladies out there, and especially those just starting! If you have any questions, feel free to comment!

Love and Lightning Bugs,