Tuesday, July 26, 2011

More Victorian treats - Ice Cream Sodas and Sundaes

This is a sort of part two to my ealrier post on the history of soda pop. I wanted to include this in my first post, but in doing the research, realized that it really deserved it's own article.

Ice cream sodas, or ice cream floats, as they are also called, were invented in the 1870s. Though there is dispute about the actual year and who invented it, the most famous story is of Robert Green, who had a soda stand for the sesquicentennial celebrations, in Philadelphia PA. It was a hot July day and he ran out of ice to keep his sodas cold. In desperation, he used a scoop of ice cream in his drinks, and the result was a hit! Robert Green was so proud of his idea, he had "Originator of the Ice Cream Soda" engraved on his gravestone. It didn't take long for this new concoction to catch on, and it soon became popular, especially with kids and young people.

There were adults who liked the drink to, but many looked down on ice cream sodas as something for kids. In some parts of the United States, especially more conservative areas, ice cream sodas were seen as decadent and intemperate. There were even some who believed soft drinks, including ice cream sodas, should be regulated like liquor, especially as soda water was seeen as a medicine of sorts. As such, during the 1880s and 90s, many states passed "blue laws" to regulate ice cream sodas and all soft drinks, thus the sale of these drinks were banned from being sold on Sundays and holy days.

Drugstores rellied on the soda fountain for a good portion of their profits, and as ice cream sodas were popular with the younger set, they had to come up with a way to get some of that lucrative business on Sunday. Since soda was not allowed to be served, they came up with a new treat involving ice cream and flavoured syrup, minus the offending soda, just for Sundays. As to not offend religious leaders, they changed the spelling of the traet's name to "sundae".

Some variations of ice cream sodas include
Coke float or Spider(new zealand, australia) - vanilla ice cream and cola
Chocolate soda - vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, and unflavoured soda water
Root beer float - vanilla ice cream and root beer
Brown cow - chocolate ice cream and root beer
Boston cooler - vanilla ice cream and ginger ale
Snow White - vanilla ice cream and 7Up or Sprite
Purple Cow - vanilla ice cream and grape soda
Creamsicle - vanilla ice cream and orange soda

I'm not sure what kind of ice cream soda this is, but I enjoy it's acid green color.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Going to Harry Potter alone

Last Friday I went to the opening day for the final Harry Potter movie. It was a bittersweet experience, as I was super excited to see the new movie, but so sad that it was the last one.
Watch trailer here

I've been to some of the other opening days for the HP movies and to some of the book launches, with a group of friends from work, that also share a passion for all things Potter. This time though they went to the 12:15am show, and having to work the next day, I was unable to go. I decided though that I wasn't going to miss the last opening day! I ended up going by myself after work, on Friday evening. It was the first time I've ever gone to a movie by myself. It was a strange experience, but not entirely bad. I didn't mind sitting by myself and watching the end of my favorite series, but it was strange leaving alone and having no one to talk to about the movie.

So what did I think of the movie? I really enjoyed it. I thought it was well done, the pacing was good, and the battle scenes were well done. I brought tissues with me, because I knew I'd cry during certain scenes, and I was right - I totally did! My favorite parts were the final scene with Snape, and Neville's battle scenes - so good. I know I'll go back to see it again in the theatre with friends.

As for continuing to get my Harry Potter fix now that the movies are done, I submitted my email to sign up for the new Pottermore site. Chek it outhere

What did you think of the movie? Are you planning on signing up for Pottermore?

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Victorian Swimwear

The past couple of weeks have been a wee bit too warm for me, being in the 30s (Celsius). I'm more of a fall/winter girl, and burn easily so tend to avoid roaming outside on summer days to much. I was very happy though this weekend, when the delightful Ms. Chloe invited me and some friends over to enjoy a neighbour's pool. It provided a much needed break from the heat and it was tons of fun!

It got me thinking about bathing in the Victorian era. I have to say I'm very glad I live in the era of the bikini. At the start of the 19th century bathing was popular, but was more difficult for women to indulge in, due to the constraints of modesty. Bathing was usually segregated by gender, and while men were allowed to bathe nude until the 1860s, women were expected to be clothed fully and avoid getting tanned by the sun. To accommodate this, ladies often used bathing machines. Invented in southern Britain in the 1730s, the bathing machine was a sort of hut on wheels that was wheeled into the ocean, usually by horses. It allowed the bather to enter the machine, change in to their bathing attire, then exit the hut into the water.

There were also bathing machines that lowered one into the water, then yanked you back out again (sounds horrid). The bathing machine also served to block the view of the lady bathers from prying male eyes. It was not unusual for beaches to be lined with bathing machines virtually walling off the view of the sea.
In the early 1800s bathing attire for ladies consisted of a simple dress over bloomers, and a bonnet and gloves to block out the sun. Ladies would often sew weights into the hem of or dresses to avoid it floating up and showing their legs (heaven forbid).

In the mid 19th century, bathing suits were being made out of wool, and consisted of bloomers with a knee length dress. Being made of wool they were quite heavy and didn't allow for much mobility. All you could really do is splash around by your little hut, smelling like a soggy sheep.

In the late 1800s the dresses and the bloomers for bathing got shorter. Segregation of men and women declined, and by 1901 it was no longer enforced. This led to the demise of the bathing machine, as it was no longer necessary to retain modesty.

In Edwardian times, the bathing attire became lighter, a little more revealing and definitely more flattering to the female figure. I actually rather like the two outfits below, especially the one on the right (I'd wear that).

Another friend (thanks Jaz!) sent me a link a while ago to Captain Robert's Victorian swimwear - see Here I would totally wear this to the beach coupled with a parasol!

Right now I have a black bikini and a leopard print bikini. Not very gothy, but it'll have to do. What do usually wear to the beach?

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

July theme - Beads

For those of you who follow the most excellent fashion blog Sophistique Noir, you know that she has posted a fashion theme for this month - beads. (if you are unaware of her blog, check it out Here

I know I haven't posted lately, due to dealing with some personal issues, so today will just post my contribution to the July bead theme.
I'm not a huge fan of beads, but I do like the odd piece. I have a couple of beaded necklaces that I enjoy. The first feels very 1920s I think, it's black beads with black chains hanging down. I found it at Ardene's, an accessory store, on sale and bought it on a whim.

The other one was given to me by my pal Ms. Chloe. I like the Welsh dragon on it.

Close up

I'll be back shortly with more Victorian goodness next week.

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Friday, July 1, 2011


This past Sunday was Ms.Chloe's birthday, which she decided to celebrate by going to the zoo. I love that her Facebook invite said she would like to "eat over priced ice cream while watching animals sleep". It's a pretty accurate description of a trip to the zoo I'd say.

Our trip to the zoo, got me wondering about Victorian zoos.
The first zoo, or zoological garden, opened in 1765 in Vienna Austria when the royal menagerie was opened to the general public for viewing.
Royal collections of exotic animals, or menageries, have existed since ancient times. Roman emperors, and medieval kings were often gifted these animals, and kept them on palace grounds for their amusement.
Parts of the Tower of London housed the royal menagerie from 1204 until the London Zoo opened in 1828. During the 1700s the menagerie was open to the public with the price of admission being either three pence, or a cat or dog to feed to the lions with (the horror).
While a menagerie existed for amusement primarily, zoos born during the age of Enlightenment, emphasized scientific study and education.

The camel house, London Zoo

One of the most famous Victorian zoos, the London Zoo opened to the general public, as a way to raise funds for the zoological society, in 1847. It housed animals such as Arabian oryx, orangutans, and the now extinct quagga (a breed of zebra) and Tasmanian tigers.

Quagga at the London Zoo

Tasmanian tigers

It was believed during the Victorian era, that tropical animals would not be able to survive English weather, so animals were kept indoors. It wasn't until 1902 when it was decided to give the animals outdoor enclosures. Strangely they seemed to fare better when given outdoor areas.

Some other notable Victorian zoos are the Paris zoo founded in 1795 from the menagerie at Versailles, Dublin zoo founded in 1831 (so Irish zoologists could study both live and dead specimens), Melbourne zoo founded in 1860 as Australia's first zoo, and Central Park zoo, the US' first zoo established
also in1860.

Painters at the Paris zoo

The zoo I enjoyed on Sunday, the Assiniboine Park zoo, in Winnipeg, was founded in 1904. So I guess it's technically Edwardian, rather than Victorian. It started with just a few animals like bison, deer and elk, and in 1908 bears were added. To this day bears have been important to the zoo's history. "Winnie" the bear who inspired AA Milne's Winnie the Pooh, was named after Winnipeg and was taken from Canada as a WW1 mascot for the troops. She then ended up in the London zoo after the war. She was originally intended to be sent back to the Assiniboine Park zoo, but became a much loved fixture in London, so remained there.

Statue of Winnie at the Assiniboine Park zoo

Photo of Winnie

Bears have been a major attraction throughout the zoo's history, and today the bear enclosure area is undergoing major renovations to expand and modernize this area.
In 1909 the zoo had 116 animals of 19 different species. As of 1998 there were 1193 animals of 271 different species.

Here's a few photos of our zoo day.

Ms. Chloe and Laura

Lions (oh my)

A free book we found by the camels

Me at the zoo

Zoos can be controversial. What are your thoughts?

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