Friday, May 15, 2015

Hoyden of the Week

In 1907 Annette Kellerman set tongues wagging by wearing this one piece bathing suit.  
She was arrested for indecency. 


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Queen of Magic - Dell O'Dell

Nell Odella Newton
(Dell O'dell)
The World's Leading Lady Magician
(20 October 1897 - 5 February 1962)

Circus performer, Vaudeville actress, magician, and television star, Dell O'Dell was born to perform. After all, what kid can brag that her father owned a circus? She grew up amongst jugglers, circus animals, clowns and acrobats among others. She started off by juggling and magic tricks and became quite good at it, even developing her own cute rhymes and snappy style that endeared many to her act. Of all the acts in her father's circus, however, it was magic that truly fascinated Dell. She studied it ruthlessly.

So it only made sense that she would rise as a star within the big top. As her popularity grew, soon, not even the big top was enough. She entered vaudeville and even did magic tricks at burlesque shows. And she did it at a time when women had to work hard to even be noticed. But noticed she was indeed! Charles Carrer, a famous juggler from Zurich, Switzerland fell in love with her and the couple married in 1931. He not only managed her career, but also assisted in her show and even created and built special props for her. Soon, the beauty was gracing the covers of magazines. 

She became so popular, that in 1951, ABC signed her up for her own show - The Dell O'Dell Show. 

Sadly, Dell died of cancer in 1962 and donated her body to UCLA Medical School for research purposes. She will always be known and remembered for being a pioneer of magic and television!

Author Michael Claxton has done years of meticulous research to immortalize Dell in a biography entitled Don't Fool Yourself: The Magic Life of Dell O'Dell. It is a story filled with love and courage, tenacity and boldness. A tale for historians and anyone who loves magic. A spellbinding story of a fascinating woman. 

Synopsis:  In a field dominated by men, one of the most successful and busiest magicians of a generation was also a woman. Dell O'Dell grew up in Kansas, and learned to love show business amidst the sawdust and spangles of her father's circus. She began to entertain as a teenager, teaching herself to juggle, perform acrobatics, and work with animals. Eventually, she would go on to own her own circus, perform as a comedy magician in vaudeville, and finally find certified stardom as a headlining night club performer and television star. Half a world away, in Switzerland, Charles Carrer was learning many of the same feats of digital dexterity. He developed a polished, dapper, and amazing juggling act that took him on tours throughout the European continent, South America, and eventually landed him in America. It was there, in New York, that the two troupers met, married, and embarked on a partnership - on and off stage - that has to be read to be believed. In the pages of Don't Fool Yourself, author Michael Claxton draws on first-person accounts, revealing research, and rich historical archives to paint humanizing and captivating portraits of Dell O'Dell and Charlie Career - remarkable entertainers whose lives were intertwined - as well as fascinating bygone eras of American show business. A quality 6 x 9" hardcover, 332 pages, illustrated with dozens of unpublished images. As a bonus, each book includes a Dell O'Dell Dancing Doll novelty.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Stranger's Secret and Laurie Alice Eake's traditional Cornish Pasties Recipe!

"The storm left more than missing roof tiles and downed tree branches in its wake. A mast, splintered like a twig in the hands of a giant's child and tossed upon the beach, a handful of spars, and masses of tangled rigging bellowed a tale of desruction. That not a box, barrel, or chest floated on the returning tide amidst the skeleton of the wrecked ship testified to destruction well beyond the ravages of the sea." Opening Paragraph

As a grieving young widow, Morwenna only wants a quiet life for herself and her son. Until a man washes ashore, entangling her in a web of mystery that could threaten all she holds dear.

Lady Morwenna Trelawny Penvenan indulged in her fair share of dalliances in her youth, but now that she's the widowed mother to the heir of the Penvenan title, she's desperate to polish her reputation. When she's accused of deliberately luring ships to crash on the rocks to steal the cargo, Morwenna begins an investigation to uncover the real culprits and stumbles across an unconscious man lying in the sea's foam—a man wearing a medallion with the Trelawny crest around his neck.
The medallion is a mystery to David Chastain, a boat builder from Somerset. All David knows is that his father was found dead in Cornwall with the medallion in his possession after lying and stealing his family's money. And he knows the widow who rescued him is impossibly beautiful—and likely the siren who caused the shipwreck in the first place—as well as the hand behind whoever is trying to murder David.
As Morwenna nurses David back to health and tries to learn how he landed on her beach, suspicion and pride keep their growing attraction at bay. But can they join together to save Morwenna's name and estate and David’s life? Can they acknowledge the love they are both trying to deny?

Review by Mirella Patzer

Young and widowed, Morwenna Penvenan struggles to maintain her estate for her young son. Before she married, Morwenna was a bit of a wild child. Marriage to her husband provided her with security and comfort, but after his death, Morwenna is on the verge of losing everything due to poverty and some criminality occurring on her property. Someone is sending false signals to ships which sends them crashing onto her beach. The thieves then steal the cargo. And suspicion falls on her. On one such occasion, she encounters a nearly drowned man, badly beaten, who has washed up on her shore. His name is David Chastain and he wears a medallion with her family crest. She runs to get help, and when she returns, the man is still there, but the medallion is gone. She takes him to her home and begins nursing him back to health. As he recovers, Morwenna learns he is searching for answers to his father's death. Bit by bit, their destinies become entangled, and soon they become each other's allies. As suspicion threatens Morwenna, it is David who is the only one who believes her. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Its pages are filled with secrets, mystery, betrayal, and blosomming love. Morwenna is a wonderfully strong heroine, courages in the face of adversity, honest among thieves and liars, honorable in her interactions. Written in an easy to read, and pleasing prose, it was a quick, romantic read! A beautiful love story with an unforgettable heroine. Highly recommended!   

I'd like to extend a very warm welcome for historical fiction author, Laurie Alice. She has provided us with a traditional recipe for Cornish Pasties and explains a little about her latest novel I just reviewed above. It truly is one of the best books I read this year. 

Cornish Pastie

Cornwall: The Fascination with a Recipe

Once upon a time, a librarian gave a teenaged bookworm girl a book called Jamaica Inn by Daphne DuMaurier. Dubious because of the title, the girl took the book politely, settled in a chair . . . and barely came up for air until she finished the last word. What fourteen-year-old girl could resist a story about a young woman cast upon the world, a mysterious dark stranger, and smugglers? Not this one, that’s for sure. Thus was born my lifelong fascination with Cornwall.

Cornwall, I learned over the next many years of reading novels, legends, and nonfiction set in that land, is a county at the far southwest corner of England. It’s a peninsula thrusting a finger into the Atlantic Ocean, with the English Channel to the south and the Bristol Channel to the north. Along the eastern border is the Tamar River, which runs nearly from sea, to sea, stopping short of making this land an island. I say “land” rather than county, for many years, Cornwall was separated from Britain by language, dress, and culture. The people thought of themselves as Cornish, not English. After all, this was the land that gave rise to King Arthur. Cornishmen spoke a Celtic language rather than one derived from Saxon, as did those in the counties east of the Tamar. Cornishmen even had their own foods. The Pastie

When I discovered this, I felt a personal connection with Cornwall. To me, a pastie was something I had eaten. We have pastie shops in Michigan where I grew up. Cornishmen settled in my native state, especially the northern area where the copper mines exist. A pastie is essentially a meat pie and something my family still makes. With all this interest in and connection to (however loosely) Cornwall, how could I not write books set in this intriguing county? Smugglers? Wreckers? Ancient mines and natural caves tangling and twisting beneath the rocky soil. My imagination runs wild just thinking about this wild land. Until around 1700, Cornwall possessed it’s own language. Although that language had been considered dead for several decades before the setting of my Cliffs of Cornwall books, I hunted high and low to find a Cornish-English dictionary to get a feel for the people’s background. I bought books on Cornish names and read through them hunting for ones that translated well into English and weren’t too weird in their native incarnation.

When I asked my critique partners about some potential names for my hero in A Lady’s Honor, the names were so foreign-sounding my widely read fellow authors told me those sounded like the names of aliens in a science fiction novel. So I did change the spelling of Ruan, to Rowan for the sake of the reader. By the nineteenth century, Cornwall was fairly civilized. Fairly, not completely. Britain was at war with France only a hundred miles away across the English Channel and Cornwall possessed miles of unguarded coastline with inlets for tucking boats and caves for hiding goods like silk, tea, and brandy, making smuggling a common and lucrative practice.

As for the wrecking—the practice of luring ships to their doom in order to plunder the cargo—so much a part of A Stranger’s Secret, I found conflicting resources on whether or not it took place. Some Cornishmen claim it never did. Others in original sources from the time period, declare it absolutely did. From what I have read of Cornish history, especially with the staggering poverty as mine after mine paid out and closed, I suspect wrecking was what kept many a family supplied with food and clothing in a harsh climate little good for farming.Smuggling and wrecking are lawless and dangerous activities and not in the least romantic. Struggling against these rebellions in a wild land steeped in legend and bombarded by the sea, however, calls to my romantic soul.



2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 cut shortening (I use butter)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 egg
½ c. water

Mix with fork until soft and crumbly.



1 lb ground beef (I prefer chopped steak)
3 smallish potatoes cut into Cubes
3 carrots chopped
Whole onion chopped
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper

Divide dough and roll into 8 inch circles.

Fill with ½ cup filling and fold dough in half

Pinch edges to seal.

Place (I use a spatula to lift them) onto a Greased cookie sheet

Pierce several holes in the top with a fork. Sprinkle with salt if desired.

1 hour at 350

Remove from oven and let stand for a few minutes so they don’t’ fall apart.

Makes about 8 pasties.

Note: Pastie shops in Michigan offer a variety of fillings including vegetarian ones. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

An authentic Medieval Hair style

An Italian medieval hairstyle of 14th Century Siena recreated!

Hairstyles of ancient times are preserved in the era's frescos, paintings, and statues. From these images, the styles can be successfully recreated and recorded. Here is the hairstyle of a woman based on an image in Siena in the year 1328. Fascinating.