Monday, February 18, 2013

Washington's Birthday

It's time for a cup of tea! Join me, and let's wish George Washington a Happy Birthday!

There seems to be a bit of confusion over this wonderful February holiday beloved by Tasha Tudor, and I admit I was confused myself. Some call it President's Day, some use the inclusive Presidents' Day, some call it Washington Day, or Washington's Birthday, but it isn't even Washington's birthday proper. Since Tasha was so interested in this historically significant day because it held not only a delicious cake, but also because her own family history is entwined, I thought we should sleuth out the truth. Here is what I learned:

~George Washington's actual birthday is February 22nd. (born: 1732; died: December 14, 1799)
~Observance of George Washington's birthday began around 1880. 
~However, back in the early 1970s, when lawmakers decided to create three-day weekends with such holidays, moving them to fall on Mondays, Washington's Birthday was moved to be celebrated on the third Monday of the month, regardless of the actual day's date. 
~The day is legally known by the federal government as "Washington's Birthday" and is not called "Presidents' Day" by the US government. Here is the note on the US Office of Personnel Management page: "This holiday is designated as "Washington’s Birthday" in section 6103(a) of title 5 of the United States Code, which is the law that specifies holidays for Federal employees. Though other institutions such as state and local governments and private businesses may use other names, it is our policy to always refer to holidays by the names designated in the law."
~There is no official day known as "Presidents' Day" although some people prefer to call the third-Monday-of-February holiday by such a name. Lincoln's birthday also falls in February. 
~Tasha Tudor tells the story of her family's connection to George Washington and the family memories of this day on page 80 of The Tasha Tudor Cookbook.

Tasha Tudor's original illustration of Washington Pie at tea, The Tasha Tudor Cookbook, page 80

So now we know a few more details, though I suppose we haven't really settled anything, because you can still choose to celebrate on the third Monday of February or on the 22nd, though Tasha preferred the 22nd. Regardless, we can focus on the delicious treat of the day: Washington Pie! If you haven't already created your cake (even though it is called a pie; much like Boston Cream Pie), you still have a few days to gather ingredients for the actual birthday on the 22nd. And should you feel inspired to decorate your tea time party like Tasha, with "fake cherries that glistened beautifully, thirteen-star flags, and such an array of sweets! Oh my!"

Happy Birthday, George Washington!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sparrow Post Valentines

{Postmarked & Stamped with Sparrow ink footprints}

It is such an exciting day when the mail holds Sparrow Post valentines! Opening the mail requires a special cup of Tasha's Hot Chocolate.

What lovely Valentine news will this missive contain?

There was even mail for the dolls in tiny pink envelopes!

Today I thought I'd share a Tudor Family tradition with you: Making your very own tiny missives to send via Sparrow Post to friends, family, dolls, and critters near and far. The supplies are simple: 

Glue, colored pens, pencil, pen, straight edge & ruler, scissors, cardstock, a catalogue or magazine, Watercolors if you paint, and a good dose of imagination.

To create your envelope template, print the above photo and size appropriately. Either trace over it or create a cardboard template and trace around it onto the paper you've chosen for your envelopes.
*Template for personal use only.

Cut the cardstock into small rectangles, approximately 1 1/4" x 1". Print your envelope template on scrap paper to ensure it will fit the cards. 

Fold flap 1 in, and put a dab of glue on the corner. Fold flap 2 over to meet it, and press down until secure. 

Put a dab of glue on the corner of flap 2, and fold up flap 3 to meet it, pressing down until secure. Let dry while you write your notes and have your dolls do the same. 

Cut small squares of colored/patterned paper from your catalogue, or create small watercolors in the corners of the envelopes to create a stamp. Address the cards. You can create a small watercolor drawing on the back of the letter if you wish. Slip the letter inside the envelope, and seal with a dab of glue. 

When the glue to seal the envelope is dry, create a seal using colored pens (drawing a darker red heart on top to mimic a wax seal), or use a tiny drop of real sealing wax should you wish. 

Set your letters out for the Sparrow Post to pick up!
(If you are actually sending these in the mail, you'll need to put them in a larger envelope)

What a happy pile of mail!

Then it's time to make Tasha's marvelous Hot Chocolate recipe, from page 95 of The Tasha Tudor Cookbook.

Tasha Tudor's Hot Chocolate 
3 cups milk
2 squares Baker's unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup sugar
few grains salt
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream

In a saucepan, scald the milk. Over hot water, melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Stir in the sugar and salt, add the cup of boiling water very gradually, and stir until smooth. Then boil for 5 minutes. Add this mixture to the scalded milk and beat it with a whisk until foamy. Stir in the vanilla and serve in a pretty chocolate pot you have warmed with boiling water. Whip the cream and spoon a bit on top of the chocolate as you serve each cup. 
Makes six 6-ounce servings

Enjoy, and Happy Valentine's Day from myself and everyone at Tasha Tudor and Family, Inc.!