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New Orleans Creole

You may not know this but my husband is a New Orleans Creole, with his family going back more than two hundred years in Louisiana. One of his ancestors is Bernard de Marigny, who lived in New Orleans during our beloved Regency period in England. A wealthy Creole landowner, Bernard had so many offspring by his mistresses that he named a street “Good children” (Rue Des Bon Enfants, later changed to St. Claude). He also invented craps, the dice game, which is based largely on hazard, the British dice game, which he learned while spending time in England. But my husband has the only blue blood in our family, I’m afraid. I’m a mutt with Cajun, Irish, and English (or possibly Welsh) blood, and who knows what else!


This has nothing to do with lipedema, but What Happens in the Ballroom (presently available on Kindle Unlimited, among other retail spots) has a scene where widow Eliza Harper Pierce sings several songs to entertain an audience. One of those, “The Suffolk Miracle,” is a ballad that Eliza uses to torment her papa (also in the audience) about a father who disapproves of his daughter marrying a man of a lower station. You can read the lyrics here, but I chose it by accident while looking for the ballad, “The Holland Handkerchief,” which I have on my folk albums. The two tell a nearly identical story, but “The Suffolk Miracle” is the title Eliza is likely to have heard for it. I happen to love ballads, and I learned long ago that most period ballads have multiple renditions, with variations in wording, title, and even ending. I only wish there was a version for this one with a happy ending!

Foods of England

Accidentally His is my foodie book, if there ever was one. After all, food is Verity’s life. In the process of researching, I’ve discovered this wonderful site called The Foods of England Project, which contains 60 out-of-print historical cookbooks, and thousands of recipes and dishes, with their histories. One of the dishes I used for the book is Mussel and Onion Stew, which is Rafe’s favorite. It comes from the West Country, which is where Rafe grew up and Verity’s father still lives. I’m not fond of mussels myself (which is odd, because I like just about every other shellfish), but I stumbled across the recipe and thought it might be fun to include. And there’s Duke’s Custard at the end of the book! (Literally—it shows up in the epilogue, but I call it trifle because that’s really what it is.) Now, that’s one I’d love to try.

May Day: Jack-in-the-Green

You may have scratched your head at the part of Eliza’s book about the Jack in the Green. It’s not as commonly known a May Day custom as the maypole, for example, but it does play a part in the festivities. Primarily for chimney sweeps, it was part of the usual May Day processions: The sweeps dressed up like bushes or trees (!!) and danced (or staggered, depending on their degree of drunkenness) down the street. Apparently, May Day was sometimes called Chimney Sweepers’ Day. I have no idea why. But here’s a fun picture of a Jack-in-the-Green and his drunken companions (colorized by the print owner).

Jack in the Green certainly does seem appropriate for celebrations of the coming of spring. You can read more about the custom here.


If you haven’t heard of a harp-lute, that’s because it was invented by Edward Light in 1795 and was briefly a sort of fad among young ladies in the Regency. Regency ladies liked it because they could accompany their singing with it. Once the piano replaced it as the instrument of choice for that, the harp-lute fell out of favor. There is still interest in it as part of the development of the guitar, though, and you can find a host of images here. Here’s an image of one in the Metropolitan Museum.

Apple Games

When I think of autumn and the Regency, I think of harvest fairs and harvest balls, brisk October winds, and lots of apples. But did you know that bobbing for apples was another of those romantic games where future romance was predicted? I didn’t, until I read this entertaining and thorough article about the origins of Halloween. Apparently, one variation was played the same way as it is now, except that names were carved into the apples so that whichever name was on the apple you seized was that of your future true love. Fortunately, the variation called “Snap-apple,” where a player had to seize the apple while it swung around on a pole with a burning candle at the other end of the pole, died out, or we’d not be enjoying trying to grab those apples quite so much!