Monday, December 2, 2013

December 2nd, 1783

No sooner do I express in writing my hopes for my dear husband, than they are answered. The Marquis has been called away to Paris by Msr. Poisson with news of a charge, and so he is busy packing the necessary items for the journey north. At this time of year it will take him at least four or five days, I should think, and if his business is not soon concluded then we may not be together for Christmas; all of which inclines me to wonder if I should not travel with him and visit our friends in Paris and at Versailles.

He leaves within the hour and so I must make a decision quickly; to remain or to leave Saint-Saturnin once again?

Olympe, Marquise et Comtesse

Sunday, December 1, 2013

November 30th, 1783

Such happiness has been ours these last few months that we can scarce believe our good fortune and look for dire news that never comes. Our guests at Saint-Saturnin have been many; with the Marquis' family arriving one after another for several weeks. His parents still have not visited us as of yet, but promise to in the spring. I should have thought them eager to see how well their second son has succeeded, especially as the eldest toils fruitlessly in the army, but evidently that is to be postponed.

My own mother, step-father, and half-brothers have visited as well, only a few weeks ago, which coincided beautifully with the ball that we had promised to host for the surrounding countryside. It was a brilliant success, and cost me many hours of preparation (and not a little sleep), but was so well-received and subsequently talked of that I think we shall soon be pressed to host another.

Christine has settled fretfully into her married life in Sweden, and begs for a visit from me, which I may do if circumstances favor in the new year. I wait with some trepidation for the announcement of the Marquise de Menars' hopes for a child, thinking that young Clementine cannot be too long without one, but at the moment none is expected. Nor, indeed, are our hopes to be fulfilled this year. Thierry, knowing that at my age bearing a child is fraught with dangers, declares that he would rather we remain childless than risk my life; but I cannot help but wish that our good fortune might extend a little longer. He is, alas, not even fond of his own nephews and nieces, and so there is little urgency to the matter for him.

Madame Elizabeth very kindly continues to write to me, and urges my return to Versailles, but at present we are so content that I think only a royal command would compel me to leave Auvergne. Of course, there is word that Thierry may soon be issued a charge, but what that will entail is entirely a mystery to me. A diplomatic posting, perhaps? His travels and use in the last war were enough to earn him a title, it is impossible to say to what other purposes he may soon be put. I selfishly wish that it will not require that we be parted again.

Olympe, Marquise de Mercoeur
et Comtesse d'Auvergne

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Seriously, who doesn't love the charming motifs paired with the simple silhouette of this gown?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August 1st, 1783

We are now safely ensconced at Saint-Saturnin, and the entire neighborhood is clamoring for an invitation to meet my new husband. Many of the servants, of course, recognize him from times past, but are treating him with no less respect despite his recent elevation; of which I am glad. I suppose we shall have to hold a ball sometime soon. In addition to the Marquis and Marquise de Menars visit, we are also shortly to enjoy one from one of my husband's windowed sisters and her two children. We have extended an invitation to his parents, but he thinks it unlikely that they will come.

I have already received a letter from Christine, though she is still traveling north. Her cold now gone, I fear she has less and less to distract her from the approaching realization of her engagement. I am sorry for my friend, that she is not to enjoy the happiness which I now do; but who is to say that it will not turn out for the best. It is so much easier to think hopeful thoughts when one is happy, I notice.

Though it rained this morning the weather has turned fine, and I may go out riding later. The Marquis has appropriated a room for his own study, and I believe sets his hand to writing various acquaintances about the possibility of those charges he might receive. My own income remains mine, as agreed upon in the marriage contract, and has been more than sufficient since the sale and lease of those properties for which I had no use. I myself made changes to the renovation plans and will now read for a while. Reinette rests at my feet, her tail thumping in her sleep, and all is contentment. Long may it last.


Monday, July 29, 2013

July 26th, 1783

Happily the wedding day has come and gone, and today the last of the wedding guests has departed. The music, the laughter, the happiness were all, indeed, complete, and even the sour disposition of Maman's husband could not spoil it utterly.

I am saddened at Christine's journey north to her own impending nuptials in Sweden, as we cannot know when we shall see each other again; but we will not be bereft of company for long as the Marquis de Menars and his new wife, dear Clementine, will be joining us at Saint-Saturnin in a few weeks.

We ourselves travel south to that happy place in two days where I shall have to ask after little Hercule, the son of my former maid, Pauline. I cannot imagine how he has grown. Perhaps soon I may hope to have a son of my own. For now I fill my time with preparations for travel, the paying of my remaining debts in Paris, and plans for either renovating Portaberaud or building a new home for my dear Mercoeur. We have not settled on a name for this dream chateau, but then it is not certain of what Thierry's income will consist, for he cannot go back to the Ferme now that he is enobled; and yet the title does not carry with it a benefice. Perhaps our friend, Msr. Poisson, can be of some assistance here. We have invited him to visit us as well, but it is unlikely that he will accept the invitation as he rarely leaves Paris.

I must cease daydreaming and attend to the demands of the day. There is much for which I am grateful, and much to which we may look forward.
Olympe, Marquise de Mercoeur et Comtesse d'Auvergne

Monday, July 22, 2013

Completed Mantelet

 As posted previously, the mantelet (or bed gown) is completed and as it just won't stop raining long enough this summer for me to go outside for a photoshoot in my 18th century finery, I settled for some indoor shots.

For information on the quilted petticoat you can visit its own post here. The mantelet was based heavily on research images and diagrams such as these ones.
Kannik's Korner has a pattern very similar to the second image, for anyone who prefers to work by pattern, but this is an extremely simple garment in terms of its shapes and construction.

Of course, having said that, it did give me fits in places, like at the side gores, and getting the pleats/folds at the sleeve ends to be just right. The fabric is an embroidered taffeta, lined in moire taffeta, with linen cuffs, a satin ribbon closure, and fabric covered buttons at the sleeve ends.
Of course, no project is truly complete until the dog approves it...
Now it's onto painting fans and making an outfit to go over that petticoat. For information on the Italian Renaissance project which I also just finished (and which has kept me away from my 18th century projects since completing this one) you can visit my other blog, Amphorae.

Monday, July 8, 2013

July 10th, 1783

Only a few days more until the rest of our party arrives for the wedding, which is becoming less and less the quiet affair we had planned, and which has been increasingly usurped by Maman. One word from her about my broken wedding plans of a few years ago and I am forced to concede to her wishes so that she may be recompensed for all of her disappointments. I am pleased to find her civil- nay, cordial, towards Thierry. I suppose now that he is a Marquis it is of little consequence from whence he came.

Christine has been laid low with a summer cold almost since we arrived in Riom, and if she is not better soon there will be a chorus of sniffling to accompany the droning of the priest. I should also hate to think that her last few weeks of freedom before her own wedding will be spent as an invalid.

Andre and Mattieu are both eager to be of service for the event, and I cannot remember when I last spent so much time in the company of both of my brothers. My stepfather, on the other hand, is as cold and distant as I expected, and we have exchanged few words.

Thierry, dear as ever, is my solace against every aggravation, and as the King has given his consent, at long last we have every hope of enjoying singular happiness.
Olympe, Comtesse

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Blog-anniversaire Giveaway Winner!

Drum roll, please...

the winner of the vintage painted fan is Margaret! Please e-mail me ( with your full name and mailing address, Margaret, and I will send the fan on it's merry way to you. Thank you for reading and commenting!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Blog-anniversaire Giveaway!

It's that time of year again! Can it really have been four years since I first started this little blog? Apparently it can, and to celebrate I am holding a giveaway of a lovely vintage painted fan.

Isn't it sweet?! In order to be entered for the drawing all you need to do is leave a comment by July 3rd telling me what your favorite blog entry has been; I'm curious to know what you've enjoyed the most. I will choose the winner at random; and, yes, I will ship the fan overseas.

Good luck, and I hope to hear from you!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

New mantelet sneak peek

Here's a quick shot of my new mantelet, about which details will be shortly forthcoming. After this I'm going to be taking a hiatus from the 18th century (briefly) to complete a costume from another time period. You can follow along with that project on my other blog here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

May 29th, 1783

Mme de Vergennes is returned to court, being one of those who are loathe to leave Versailles I think she is unhappy that Madame Elizabeth spends much of her day at Montreuil now. That will soon be rectified though as the court goes to Saint Cloud shortly to escape the heat of summer, which will doubtless soon be upon us.

Thierry and I will not accompany them, fleeing instead home to Auvergne tomorrow where, God willing, we may stay for sometime, and perhaps begin our own family. The problem of the second marriage will be solved when Maman, my brothers, Msr. Poisson, and Christine join us at my home Portaberaud, in Riom, for a small ceremony. The fact that Thierry may now sign as the Marquis de Mercoeur is of great advantage to us.

My poor friend, Christine, will be most unwilling to leave; but though we will host a full gathering of friends in Saint-Saturnin I think, she must return to Sweden to her aunt and uncle who have at last insisted on a match for her. She was ill in Rome when the word reached her that her sister is once again pregnant, and that her family expects her to come home to marry a much older Count. She will be his third wife, so it is to be a marriage of little convenience to her unless he gives her the freedom to travel and experiment as she prefers to do. Having grown children of his own I cannot imagine he will need her home very much, so there is hope.

Christine reminds me as I write this that her Count also has younger children, so it is likely that she is intended to mother them; a prospect about which she is rather grim. Having arrived three days ago, Christine will journey with us to Auvergne, which is in some ways defiance and in other ways a reward for her consent. We must make the next weeks seem long for I do not know after when I shall see my dear friend again. Perhaps we shall have to visit her in Sweden.

My step-father has had much to say of my match. His words, even as read through the lens of my mother's letters, are full of vitriol. We have never much cared for each other, and I suspect that he is disappointed that I have not raised the family's fortunes more. My brothers, though, are very well. Andre, having broken his ill-advised engagement to that actress is now a clerk in Riom, which pleased Maman greatly as now she may see him often. He speaks of reform often, she writes, but sinks into melancholy when no one takes any heed of his ideas. Mattieu is to enter the army, and a commission has been purchased for him at great expense, to which I did contribute, but not as great a sum as was desired.

I will see them all soon, in any case, and must prepare by saying a final farewell to l'Hotel de Sully where I have lived so tumultuously these last few years. It has been a refuge for me and a prison, and I am so glad in my heart to be returning to my beloved Auvergne with my husband.

Olympe, Comtesse

Friday, May 17, 2013

Inspiring Blogger Award

Many thanks to the ever-intriguing Sandra, better known as A Traveller in Time, whose blog (Possessions of a lady) I encourage you to check out. She was kind enough to give me a Very Inspiring Blogger Award, and I must now do the following:-

To accept the award, one must:
1. Display the award and link back to the person who nominated you. 
2. State 7 facts about yourself. 
3. Nominate 15 bloggers for the award. 
4. Notify the winners.

 Goodness, I don't have 15 blogs that I follow that have not already received this award at some point! I, like Sandra, must apologize for being rather lax in my posting and in not posting about this sooner, but I knew it would take some time to track down suitable recipients, given the above criteria; and I, like her, will have to settle for nominating fewer than 15 blogs.

The Facts
1. I am still working on becoming fluent in French, but can generally read most things and make myself understood.
2. I have visited every continent except Africa, Australia, and Antarctica, and would love to visit all of them (except for Antarctica).
3. I am working on a research-based book involving the psychology of clothing under specific circumstances.
4. My husband is descended from french nobility, but as far as I can tell I come from peasants no matter how far back you go.
5. I lived abroad as a child, and would love to do so again.
6. I sing to my dog, all the time, about her,'s weird.
7. I don't have any children of my own, but I sometimes feel like I have 65 because of my students whom I love dearly.

1. Adventures of a Costumer
2. Costume Historian
3. Costumes, Cats, and the 18th Century
4. Diary of a Mantua Maker
5. Idle Hands
6. Idlewild Illustre
7. Isis' Wardrobe
8. Munich Rococo
9. The Costumer's Closet
10. The Fashionable Past

I was surprised to find that the above-mentioned blogs do not already have this award and it gives me great pleasure to recognize them for their beautiful and interesting posts.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Quilted Petticoat Complete

The quilted petticoat is complete! Please forgive the lack of good photos. There has been a lot of rain lately which doesn't make for good lighting and I lack a proper photography set-up at present. The side view is probably my favorite, though it does show off my lack of foresight in not wearing another petticoat over the panniers underneath.

There were, naturally, other issues which I'll have to remember for next time; I didn't adjust the placement of the ruffle to account for the amount of fullness of the skirt over the supports, so it seems like it curves up at the sides a bit. I also think that next time, rather than a drawstring waist (for which I did find documentation), I will use a waistband and ties closure.

The whole thing is worn with my linen, handsewn chemise with the drawstring neckline, stays designed by me and built by the talented American Duchess, stockings and shoes (also by American Duchess), pocket hoops, and a rump pad. The pink fabric at the top is silk, and used, as in extant versions, to keep the quilted fabric from creating undesirable bulk at the waist. I liked the look of the ruffle at the bottom in this example...

so I used the same light buttery yellow fabric as the stays to make it, and hand-tacked the top part of the ruffle to maintain placement.Over all, I'm pleased; now onto finishing the mantelet!
Petticoat fabric on the bottom with supplies for the mantelet in-progress

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Quilted Mystery

These seem, for all the world, to be a pair of quilted breeches made from an old petticoat. The questions surrounding it abound for me, and if you have answers to any of them, please, do chime in.

The very small fall-front would seem to indicate that they were for a woman, rather than a man, and if so were they made for the sake of warmth? Decency? Comfort? Or, going completely crazy with the imagination, so that a woman might pass as a man? We know that at least one man did spend a long time passing as a woman, and gender-bending adventure has a long history in literature. What about in real life?

In more mundane questions; what dimensions does it take? Why was it made from an old petticoat? Was the staining the reason it was re-cut, and does that provide any clues as to it's use (surely something pre-stained would be worn under petticoats)?

I just love all of the questions this one item provides.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Hint Of Things to Come

As a professor I find that during the regular school year my time is consumed far beyond the 9-5 quota with grading, designing, stitching, planning, meetings and the like. As a costume professional my summers tend to be equally chock-full of sewing, wardrobe work, designing, traveling, and prepping for the year to come.

This year I'm taking a break. I get 15 weeks of prepping for the coming year, organizing my stock, researching and writing...and not too much else! This, of course, means that there will be more time for sewing things that I WANT to sew, rather than those things I NEED to sew.

So, as a sneak peek at things to come, I give you the first photo (from an odd angle, admittedly) of my new quilted petticoat. Details to come shortly.

Friday, May 3, 2013


No answers to last week's trivia, again. The clue was:-

"The scientist, Emilie du Chatelet, is known as much for her relationship with Voltaire as she is for her work in the field of physics; but the famous couple once found themselves in a spot of trouble when in the middle of a card game he told Emilie that he suspected some of the other players of cheating. They didn't think anyone else would understand their conversation, as they were speaking what language, not much in use at the court of France?"

The answer was:- English! Unfortunately for the couple they weren't the only ones who spoke it, someone else did as well, and they were forced to flee court rather than suffer the violence offered by those who were offended by Voltaire's comment.

I've got a good one for you today!

This father and grandfather of two famous authors rose from a slave to a revered General in Revolutionary-era France, only to find himself betrayed and forgotten; yet lives on in the guise of at least one well-known character.

Bon chance!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April 30th, 1783

One would think it were possible to cease being surprised by the events of life, and yet they never do cease in amazement. Finally I am at liberty to write of the events of the last few days, and indeed of the many months since last my husband and I were together.

When two years ago we fled Paris, and my ill-advised nuptials with the Marquis de Franconville-aux-Bois, the letter that came to us in Lille saying that Thierry had been denounced as a spy for the English was written by a man with whom he worked. I had thought it all a wild chase, the choice to go to Marseille and then on to Venice following our secret wedding, merely a necessity to escape the Lettre de Cachet which would have imprisoned him indefinitely. I have been much deceived.

Believing the accusation to be the work of F- I have plotted tirelessly against him, imagining him the greatest of monsters and author of my misfortunes, but it seems that in his role as agent for the Ferme Generale Thierry became very useful for his English connections. In short, though a spy indeed, it was the English upon whom he was gathering information. The accusation, a way of making our enemies trust him. The flight to Venice, a means to meet with important people from the English court who were abroad. When he disappeared and I did not know where he had gone, he had slipped into England. The war in the colonies finally finished, he was invited to return home, and his reward? It seems that his family has suddenly been made aware of a long-standing claim to an old title through his mother. So now he is a landless Marquis.

Overjoyed at this news, and not in small part confused, I laid before him all of my doings since he left. The destruction of all of F-s interests, the ruin of his home in Saint Martin-du-Tertre, the disgrace of my own cousins, and the return of cousin Godfrey to the post of Grand Chamberlain, as well as everything surrounding Clementine de Rodez; whose wedding is to take place in only a few short days.

Thierry was most upset by these revelations, as much as I was befuddled by his own, and I must admit there was something of an argument. He is greatly unsettled by what he sees as "the incessant intriguing of courtiers and wits." For several days we did not see each other or speak and I wondered very much what our lives would become. Fortunately, knowing that there was still the question of whether or not F- was behind my poisoning and R-s death, Thierry forgave me my mistaken machinations on his behalf.

Now there is only the question of whether two people who are, in fact, already married may be married again by the church, as I may finally, lawfully, be joined with him as my peer.

Olympe, Comtesse

Thursday, April 25, 2013

April 25th, 1783

Though Mme Elizabeth will not be permitted to spend her nights at Montreuil there is much activity surrounding the transfer of her household goods to the estate, where she will likely spend most of her days. It was due to these activities that I was unable to attend the court presentations, which I had been pressed to do by my friends. Little did I realize that a surprise had been planned for me.

Undeterred by my failure to attend, Msrs. Menars and Poisson received permission to approach and speak with my mistress in her salon, and their conversation, held with her in low voices and glances in my direction, soon gave me to know that something was amiss. My mistress, appearing very sly and merry, gave a nod of assent and the two gentlemen left the room.

They were reintroduced but a few moments later and with them was announced a Marquis de Mercoeur, the title of which gave me some confusion. Mercoeur is a title long associated with certain lands in Auvergne, but which was rendered quite extinct until several years ago. Revived for the King's brother, Artois, as a duchy it was then exchanged for the richer Duchy of Poiteau. As various sovereigns and persons of consequence have assumed new identities when visiting Versailles, to escape the confines of ettiquette, I thought it might be something of a similar nature. This did not explain the curious connection with myself, however.

Immediately when the Marquis appeared all was explained and I could not do aught but stare frozen, though what I very much wished to do was to fly to him, for it was my own, dear, Thierry! The formal introductions were made, and somehow my mistress seemed to understand much because not only did she say to him "I think you know our Comtesse d'Auvergne," but she then suggested a turn in the gardens and left Thierry to accompany me.

The story he told me then will have to wait until another day, as I am summoned to dress Mme Elizabeth and cannot delay.

Olympe, Comtesse

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Shopping the Museums

Every once in a while I like to do this; just "shop" around to all of the museums websites and put together an outfit that I know my historical counterpart would love. We'll start with the simple but lovely Gaulle, this one from Denmark has the light, ethereal feel I know I always associate with the style.

I think a colored sash is just the perfect accompaniment to the white of these gowns. How about one in the same bluish-green color as the sash worn by Mme Lavoisier in David's portrait of she and her husband?

Then maybe we could add a fichu, which would necessitate a fichu buckle, would it not? I just love this English one from LACMA, with it's rhinestones and pink swirl detail.

Of course no outfit is complete without a pair of stunning heels. These embroidered silk satin ones, again English and from the LACMA, will match perfectly down to the pink ribbon ties, and being c.1785 makes them appropriate for our current time period as well.

It would be inappropriate to go out without a hat, so I shall don this little old thing, maybe with a few flowers, but only after having my hair meticulously tended to. I need volume to offset the size of the hat and the narrowing silhouette of my gown.

Then there's just one more thing to grab before heading out; my bag! So what if it has someone else's name embroidered on it, this will be just the explosion of color that my subdued outfit needs.

Monday, April 22, 2013

April 22nd, 1783

It is for certain now that I will leave Sully, though I have grown so fond of it; and it seems that my mistress will have a new home as well! The King, having taken possession of my cousins' estate, Montreuil, upon their misfortune has gifted it to his sister in a most charming fashion. The Queen, walking in the gardens there with Mme Elizabeth, informed her that it was to be her home, whereupon Mme was delighted and grateful to all. She even took pains lest her joy should cause me discomfort, being related as I am to its' previous owners, but I soon put her at ease on that account.

I am persuaded by Messieurs Poisson and Menars to attend the court presentations, though I'm sure they will be insufferably tedious. Now that most of the treaty negotiations are complete there is far less amusement at Versailles, and yet there seem to be as many people as ever. There is hope, however, that when Mme goes to Saint Cloud for the summer months that I will be released to return to Auvergne. I have seldom hoped more fervently for anything, except the pleasure of my husband's company, of which I have been so long deprived.

Olympe, Comtesse

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Was the question perhaps too easy? No one answered last week's trivia question, though the clue was in the picture.

"Which famous victim of the guillotine was described as the 'Ste Genvieve' of the royalists, and considered for sainthood herself?"

The answer is; Madame Elizabeth, sister of Louis XVI. Refusing to go into exile she saw it as her duty to remain by her brother's side through all of his misfortunes, and eventually followed him to the guillotine. Her insistence on keeping faith with her Catholic principles, and her desire to to encourage others even to the point of praying for them at the foot of the execution site, led to her consideration for sainthood. The people in charge of her execution group decided to enact one final cruelty by having her go last and watch all of the previous beheadings, but one by one those who preceded her stopped to ask her blessing before mounting the scaffold, and she herself walked to her death with immense poise; that is, until her fichu fell away. Madame Elizabeth said to the executioner, "For the love of your mother, cover me!"  Those became her final words.

For this week I ask:- The scientist, Emilie du Chatelet, is known as much for her relationship with Voltaire as she is for her work in the field of physics; but the famous couple once found themselves in a spot of trouble when in the middle of a card game he told Emilie that he suspected some of the other players of cheating. They didn't think anyone else would understand their conversation, as they were speaking what language, not much in use at the court of France?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


It's been too long since we've done this. Last time I asked "What was the "fowl" name given to the pinkish hue of eighteenth-century champagne?"

A Traveller In Time correctly responded "Oeil de perdrix or partridge eye." Sounds yummy.

 This week's question is an easy one:- Which famous victim of the guillotine was described as the "Ste Genvieve" of the royalists, and considered for sainthood herself?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Celebrate Pi Day, 18th Century-Style

Did you know that today is Pi Day? That's right, it's 3/14 for those of us who write our dates month/day/year (which I realize not all of you do), and in honor of this fact let us eat pie!

This pie recipe is shared from Colonial Williamsburg, just down the road from me, and can be found along with many other tantalizing treats on their website.

"Contrary to popular belief, apple pie isn’t American, it’s British. There were no apple trees or pies in America before the British settled. The spice most often called for was cloves, as it is in this recipe."

18th Century

Put a crust in the bottom of a dish, put on it a layer of ripe apples pared and sliced thin, then a layer of powdered sugar; do this alternately till the dish is full; put in a few tea-spoonsful of rose-water and some cloves; put on a crust and bake it.
Randolph, Mary, “The Virginia Housewife” p. 152

21st Century

  • Pastry (homemade or store bought)
  • 8 Granny Smith applies
  • ¼ – 1 cup granulated sugar or castor sugar
  • 1 tsp. rose flower water (optional)
  • 2 tsp. whole cloves
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°.
  2. Remove one piece of dough from refrigerator and let stand until soft.
  3. Lightly flour your work surface and roll out dough into a 12-inch circle. Then, wrap the dough around the rolling pin to transfer into a 9-inch pie pan. Unwrap the dough from the rolling pin into the pie pan, making sure the dough is form-fitted to the pan. Allow the dough to overhang the lip of the pan. Return pie pan with dough to the refrigerator until it is needed.
  4. Peel, core and quarter the apples. Cut the quarters into slices that are ¼ inch thick.
  5. Retrieve the pie pan from the refrigerator. Fill the pie by alternating layers of apples, sugar, rose water and whole cloves until pie is filled.
  6. Roll the second piece of pastry dough into a 12-inch circle. Then, wet the bottom lip of the dough and place the top piece over the filling. Trim the dough so it is flush with the edge of the pie pan. Flute the edge or press with a fork to seal. With a knife, cut 4 slits on the top of the pie.
  7. Place a rimmed baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven. Place the pie in the middle of the sheet. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes, then at 350° for 35-45 minutes.
  8. Allow pie to rest 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Recommended Link- Prison Pets in the French Revolution

I cannot resist sharing this fascinating article with you. We know of so many pets of the aristocracy, but I had long thought that their fates were lost after their owners' fall. Apparently they were frequently the focus of Revolutionary displeasure, and also of incredible kindness. You can read more here.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

February 20th, 1783

Perhaps it is not only the Americans who lack the ettiquette needed to navigate the halls of Versailles. I have found myself embarassed by small mistakes several times of late, though Madame Elizabeth is kind enough to take no notice of them. I had heard that she was a pious and gentle lady, but had not thought to find her so informal.

Common though it is to keep to a regimented schedule at Court, she keeps one even in private, preferring to dedicate certain hours to riding or walking, study, prayers, and even to music. I regret that I have not practiced with my harp in some time as I have been called upon to play twice now, and encouraged to play Madame's harp anytime I may wish.

This does not serve to illustrate the informality of her character, but though the hours and activities may be somewhat strictly observed, there is some frivolity to be had, and on occasion, especially when joined by the Queen, there has been such sport as would make our elders blush. Such chasing, such laughter, such light-hearted merriment, that it is more like a company of friends; which is what my mistress seems to wish.

Versailles is, as ever, crowded with onlookers and intriguers and gossips, and my cramped quarters are not to be envied. It makes me miss l'Hotel de Sully and Saint Saturnin very much, especially now that I feel spring is not so far. I can hardly complain that my charge is heavy, though, and as Mme de Vergenne's delivery of her son was not an easy one, I may well be asked to stay a while longer. I can hardly refuse if asked, but I do long to return to Auvergne, and have sent word that Sully is to be given up. I will not continue to lease it if I am to remain at Versailles and never live there, or if I return to Auvergne.

Olympe, Comtesse

Friday, March 8, 2013


Trivia returns with this festive question:- What was the "fowl" name given to the pinkish hue of eighteenth-century champagne?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

February 1st, 1783

I barely have time to miss Thierry lately, as I have been convinced to accept a position at Court as a lady to Madame Elizabeth, the King's sister. Fortunately, I am only serving until the Comtesse de Vergennes is delivered of her child, and sufficiently recovered.

Versailles is busier than usual as well, since Peace between England and the Americans has been negotiated. Peace between France and England is still to be determined and may take some time yet. The American representatives are quite interesting in both appearance and deportment, and it must be said that they are not well-prepared for the expectations of France and frequently a cause for embarassment.

I find myself constantly fatigued, and not merely from my charge at Court, but from the demands of intrigue surrounding my now very well-known fight with the Marquis de F-, as well as the seemingly unending trials of Thierry's banishment. I feel that of late both Monsieur Poisson and Menars have been avoiding my requests for information, which is a frustration deeply felt. After championing Menars engagement to Clementine de Rodez, I am still waiting for him to deliver his end of the bargain and find the doctor who treated R- before his sudden death.

Every year I long for spring and Auvergne, but never so much as I do this year. Spring, Auvergne, and Thierry are the thoughts which sustain me. And perhaps the dual purposes of truth and vengeance.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Recommended Post

Sometimes you come across a great idea by someone else that you just have to share. Today's inspiration is brought to you courtesy of Katherine at The Fashionable Past, and her fabulous idea for adding a miniature to a muff. Never fear, if you are not an artist this is the method for you!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

January 9th, 1783

Well, here it is another year, and I am fighting against the urge to declare that it is another year gone without having Thierry with me. My friend Elizabeth, Countess of Rochechouart, arranged a lovely birthday party for me, which was quite the surprise. I had intended to stay at home quietly, but she could not allow that, and I am grateful for her kindness.

Clementine visited me yesterday and chattered away happily for over an hour about all of the plans for her wedding to the Marquis de Menars. He himself has been absent on business, she maintains, and I wonder if it is on my account. I should hope that it is, as there has been little progress on that front of late.

I do enjoy a new year, though. It is a time of new beginnings, of new chances, and we may always hope that it will be better than the last, and bring with it the realization of all of our desires. Of course, nothing aids in the fulfillment of our wishes as careful planning, and in that regard I flatter myself that I am an expert. I have a few ideas which I hope to shortly put into effect.

Olympe, Comtesse