Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fool or Wit?

"A fine quotation is a diamond on the finger of a man of wit, and a pebble in the hand of an idiot."
- French proverb

Monday, March 29, 2010

March 28, 1780

The weather has turned cold again. I do wish it would pick a temperature and stick to it, but I suppose the seasons are interesting. At times like these I miss Auvergne where I have only to look out of my window to see the buds on the trees, and need not seek out a public garden or the orangerie at Sully to find them. I have, nonetheless, grown quite fond of this, my town home.

A letter from T- is full of love and longing. It has been some months since we last saw each other, and the distance does wear on the heart. We strain towards May when at last we may be together again, and I'm sure it is part of the reason why I so ferverently desire the advent of spring. I'm also glad that it's the end of Lent, as the last thing one wants when one has been ill is to eat fish.

Reinette is doing quite well, and insists on sitting on my lap as I write. Someone from the kitchen has given her a bone and she chews it with singular attention. I am happy to report that she seems to be getting over her tendency to defile the carpets, and has learned to use a small bell-pull to alert whoever is nearby that she must go out. Maman, hearing that I had been ill, came up to Paris two days ago and remains at Sully. She delights in the puppy to the extent that it is almost unseemly, and I fear Reinette will be quite spoiled before long. If Maman does not acquire a pet of her own soon I will be very much surprised.

Today I go to pick fabrics for a new gown, and I think something for T-. Tonight there is a dinner party at Comtesse de R's to celebrate my recovery. Fortunately I have a new yellow gown to wear. If I had not ruined my yellow silk slippers in the mud that one time outside of Paris they would have been the perfect compliment to the dress.

Olympe, Comtesse

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Some French Inspirations

What could be more french than a fleur-de-lis? This one on pearlescent compact is chic and simple, and the white color means that it goes with just about everything. This is makeup you put on in public, where everyone can admire your style.

"Fleur-de-lis" is of course a lily, and what could be more lovely than fresh lilies? These are Casablanca lilies, to be exact, and I love them perhaps best of all because I will be carrying them in my wedding next year.

It is said that pearls are the foundation of a woman's jewelry box, and when have pearls ever been out of fashion? Where diamonds can be hard and cold, pearls are somehow personal, yet decadent.

Even more comforting than jewelry there is food. Who could resist such delicacies as these? I know I didn't, and despite the strictures of my corset ate more than one serving. These were made by my caterer for a party I had two springs ago. The colors of the pastries matched my dress, and be sure to check out the Cygnes; little swans filled with cream.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dream a Little Dream

I think all my dreams would be sweet in this draped beauty called The De Medici Bed from Circa!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

March 20, 1780

We have had unseasonably fine weather for the last few days, but I fear that it is coming to an end as the clouds are coming in and the wind has picked up making everything cooler than I would wish. A tease of spring is something at least.

Thierry sends word that the Ferme will indeed recall him back to Paris in a month or so, a fact which raises my spirits considerably. The question then becomes, will they send him off again? Will they promote him? Will they have no further use for him after he is recalled? So much is uncertain. If he is not retained I look to travel with him back to Auvergne, as originally planned, come May.

Pauline is showing her condition, but is ill much less frequently now than she was. The baby is expected in June, but while I think she is looking forward to the child's arrival, she and the footman Robert do not seem on pleasant terms. I have heard rumors, but have yet to see any bruises. If I do he will not long remain in my employ though they are married.

I owe Christine a letter and am much overdue in writing it, so I will attend to that.

Olympe, Comtesse

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pasta and Fops

Most of us are familiar with the song Yankee Doodle and it's enigmatic reference to macaroni. As a child I took in stride the idea that a man could stick a feather in his hat and consider it a piece of pasta. Children are accepting like that. Of course when I got older I found out about a different kind of Macaroni, the fashionable male of late 18th century England.

Even understanding now that the song references a ridiculed trend, it begs the question; is there an etymological link between the pasta and the fashion? The Italian word Maccherone means "a boorish fool", and was brought back to England by young men who had completed their traditional tour of the continent. Applied to things found ridiculous it came to refer to a specific kind of person. Though it is not known for sure what the etymological root is for the type of pasta, it could have evolved from one of several latin roots; macerare, to soak, soften, torture, or ammaccare, to bruise. Perhaps it is only that the shape of the food is a funny one.

What do you think?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Save or Slurge- How to Smell Like a Queen

I know I said that the next in this series would be on shoes, and it's a capital crime to dangle shoes in front of someone and not deliver, but today I am guilty. I thought to myself that after our discussion on soap there is something that goes on the body, unfailingly, before any garment: Perfume!

If you're like me you get lovely images of crystal bottles and delicate gold liquids swirling in your head at the mere mention of the word. Perfumes in the 18th century were, of course, all made from natural ingredients, such as flowers and animal secretions; things like roses, jasmine, orange blossum, and sandalwood. They would come in bottles like the Wedgewood one pictured above.

For true oppulence you can own a perfume created from the personal preferences of Marie-Antoinette. The Palace of Versailles sells it (or at least was in 2007, and going under the name of Sillage de la Reine, it sells for $10,500 per crystal bottle, or $450 per small phial in the giftshop. Hard to compare to a splurge like that, n'est-ce pas?

Need something a little less expensive? You could try L'Occitane's Rose 4 Reines eu de toilette spray, which retails for about $40.00 instead.

Of course rose water is not all that hard to make, and can be done at home if you would prefer.

Friday, March 12, 2010

New Blog

Dear readers,

This is just a quick note to let you know that I have started a new blog to encompass my interest in ancient Rome, which can be found at

Never fear, this does not mean that I will be abandoning this blog, I only wanted to explore other areas of fascination and to share the things I discover with mutually curious parties. Why not combine the interests into one blog? This one already has a distinctly 18th century flavor, and I love that, plus this gives me a way to customize the looks of each blog and to keep them separate for those who are more era-specific.

As always, thanks for reading, and maybe I'll see you over at Amphorae!

March 11, 1780

I have been forbidden by the doctor from leaving my bed still, but was allowed my desk upon my lap with which to write. Purged, bled, and fed the most noxious broths I begin at last to recover from the illness which overcame me shortly after my last entry.

A letter from Christine rallied my spirits, as it always does. She has a new lover in Italy, and does not look to return to Paris anytime soon, for which I am sorry as I would dearly like to see her. My mother also writes that she wishes to visit and see Reinette, but I have not had an opportunity to respond. Reinette herself remains sweet, and grows quickly. She is unfortunately still relieving herself indoors, but I will address that when I am well.

Of Thierry there is some news in that he writes that he continues to impress his superiors in Lille, and they may send him back to Paris in the spring. Marianne tells me that the weather has warmed considerably, but it is very rainy of late so I have not been able to have the windows open.

I must rest some more.
Olympe, Comtesse

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

If I were an Austen idea...

I am Marianne Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

The obligatory apology post

Forgive me, dear friends, for my absence. I have been remiss in posting, it is true, but I have a good excuse. Much as Olympe searched for a home in Paris while preparing her reacquisition case, I have been trying to find an apartment in the DC area while working on my Masters thesis in southwest Virginia. The past week has been a whirlwind of visits to various properties, with and without my sweetie. Now I am back and focusing solely on the thesis. And my classes. And my mainstage show that opens in April. And packing.

Actually, I love packing; it's a chance to declutter while looking forward to positive change.

To make it up to all of you I have posted one of my favorite paintings; Elegante a sa Toilette by Michel-Garnier. He was a french painter (as you might have guessed) who lived from 1753-1819. Unfortunately there is very little information available on this artist, though all of his works are lovely.