Friday, January 27, 2017

A Little House Weekend: Day Two

We started out on the Saturday of our Little House themed costume weekend with ice skating at the Landmark Center rink in downtown St. Paul. Sabrina, Rebecca, and I were joined by my local friend Erin. My daughter joined us as well. She loves to dress up and to skate!

I didn't bring my camera to the rink, so many thanks to Sabrina and Rebecca for these (and many other) photos!

I wore my old brown and blue wool again, plus my faux-fur trimmed muff and capelet and some new yellow gloves. 

I cannot tell if the yellow gloves are fun and bright or just look like I bought them at the Fleet Farm for doing my yard work

I like this one because it looks like we are going very fast!

Lots and lots of people took our picture.

After skating, we had lunch at the St. Paul Grill, part of the historic Saint Paul Hotel. Then I frantically drove home, then went to the grocery store, and started cooking. 

Our Main Event of the weekend was the Saturday night house party. Many other friends joined us! I hosted in my home, a 1918 bungalow, which I tried to make look less modern. Mostly this means hiding the toys.

I had never hosted a costumed event at home before, though I have always wanted to! I really enjoyed the experience and I think I learned a lot for next time.

My vision for the evening was lifted directly from the Dance at Grandpa's chapter of Little House in the Big Woods: a small house bursting with people, full of voices and laughter, the glow of oil lamps, simple wholesome food, and everyone dressed in their rustic country best. 

I re-oriented my dining table to make it go the long way, added an extra table from the basement, and covered them both with one long cloth (which Sabrina helpfully ironed for me!)

I felt the need to put doilies everywhere. The lamps came from Ace Hardware.

I brought up my homemade hard cider and we all had a toast to friends!

In advance (a few days before) I cooked boiled potatoes, cabbage with onions, vegetable pasties, and whole wheat bread. On the day, I roasted a chicken, baked two pounds of Lake Superior trout, and steamed some butternut squash. There was also apple butter, cheese, and butter, which I did a somewhat crappy job of molding in a measuring cup, so it wouldn't be stick-shaped.

Dinner was served at the table, very informally! My husband Marc carved our roast chicken for us.

Part of where I cheated: I do realize that the Ingalls did not have Pyrex. In the planning phase, I had hoped to get some prettier/more historic dishes and more decor, but in the end, the pans I already owned plus my plain white IKEA plates did the job. I had a few thrift store pieces for serving that helped round out the table. 

I had never tried to light my house with just candle and lamplight before. I had 12 candles and two oil lamps total, and it worked surprisingly well. The atmosphere was magical.

I loved the oil lamps and I can see why the were so popular. Compared to candles, they were so neat and clean - no spilled wax! - and gave a very bright light.

I did have some concern with all the open flames, especially with kids! That is why the bright red fire extinguisher makes a cameo in nearly every single photo here. I also had two windows fully open so I didn't give us all carbon monoxide poisoning, and of course I had the detector plugged in. The weather was unseasonably warm, probably about 40 F, so even with the windows open it didn't feel chilly.

At the end of the table you can just barely see my daughter and her best friend enjoying dinner with us!

I spent a lot of the evening running around getting things ready, but here I am sitting down and eating! I wore my 1883 green print dress, because it's Little House-y, comfy, and easy to wear for work and dancing!

After dinner, we moved the tables and got to dancing. I don't have any pictures of the actual dancing, because I was doing all of them! We had 8 dancers at the most (counting the 2 kids) so we couldn't do too many. I didn't have a program and made it up as I went along. My awesome dancer friend Amy was there to help guide people. 

Our amazing musician friends, Tom and Kathleen, brought the entire evening alive. I cannot thank them enough for being there!

My dance background is Irish ceili, which isn't exactly what Laura Ingalls would have done, but it's what I know and it's close enough! We started with an open waltz just warm up, then did a Haymaker's Jig and a Siege of Ennis. I can't remember the exact order, but we danced a Rustic Reel and a Bonfire Reel also.

Halfway through there was a dessert break. In advance I baked two pies, apple and pumpkin, and a big jar of sugar cookies with nutmeg and cinnamon. More drinks and treats!

Amy and I pieced together a modified polka set from a couple of our usual dances. It was amazing! I love a polka. We finished the evening with another waltz. Well, actually two, because as our musicians were playing the first one, we were all just talking. Oops. So we asked for one more!

Altogether I think we had 12 for dinner. In my over-a-year-ago plan I had expected a much bigger crowd, but many people were unable to make the trip and some local folks couldn't make it. However, I almost ran out of chairs for the group we did have, and I am not sure I could have fit more! We might not have been able to make it a sit-down dinner. My little house was full to bursting.

I hated to see the evening end. Nothing is ever perfect, but this was pretty damn close.

There was one more day of costumed adventures coming up, though!

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