Life Update!

Exciting times ahead, and I want to keep you updated. First, I’m all into Tai Chi for health! My health, like many out there, needs attention, and I’ve discovered the benefits of this ancient form of marital arts. As a writer, I’ve got to be centered, focused and as stress free as possible;-) Of course, stress is a common companion for any writer, but it doesn’t have to rule you. Plus, stress wrecks havoc on our immune systems, skin, hair, organs, you name it. So, if you haven’t tried Tai Chi, give it a go!

Next, I’m avidly writing the second installment of The Protectorate series. While it’s slow going, it’s coming along nicely. Like fine wine, my books get better with the wait;-) So, stay tuned as I get closer to finishing it and sending it off to my trusted and brilliant Beta Readers!

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In addition to life’s events and writing, I’m thrilled to read any second I get. My current reading list includes: The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki, Defiant Brides by Nancy Rubin Stuart along with lots of books/articles on George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Who says you can’t have fun researching? My love for all things historical runs deep, and I’m up to my shoulders in research for my series.

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Cover via Amazon.com

 

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Cover via Amazon.com

Lastly, I’m gearing up for a new path in writing, and I can’t wait to share it. However, I’ll release information on it in due time. Just know that lots of time, energy and effort have gone into this new project, and I’m thrilled for the opportunity!

So, what books are you reading? I’d love to know! Comment below and read on:-)

Happy writing/reading,

KD

Dinner With The President

My passion for all things historical led me down the path of U.S. Presidential china upon my latest research endeavors in fiction writing. In order to stay true in my writing to events, places and people, I end up doing hours and hours of research pertaining to clothing styles, weather patterns, and, yes, dinnerware too.

A part in The Protectorate initially described Anna’s reaction to the glamorous dinner table setting at her Director’s house, but in the end I decided to take it out for various reasons. However, I spent a large amount of time researching how Rachel Jackson, President Andrew Jackson’s wife, set her table and the pieces she was known to have used. I find it fascinating to this day how something as common as dinnerware can lead to quite the insight into a person’s personality. So, it was with this flicker of interest that led me to peruse the patterns for all the U.S. President’s, starting with George Washington.

 

“Reservation for 320, now seating!”

 

Nowadays, Presidential dinners amass quite the number of guests, which means hundreds of place settings designed by none other than our First Ladies. However, that was not always the case. Presidential China wasn’t officially ordered until 1817 by then President James Madison for diplomatic usage. At the handsome price of $1,167.23, manufactured in by Dagoty and Honor and shipped directly from Paris, the 30 place settings and matching dessert plates were sure to dazzle any diplomatic representative.

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James Monroe China Pattern via whitehousemuseum.org

 

So, what did George Washington eat on for his daily meals? Well, I’m happy you asked! Most fashionable people, and George dressed to impress, ordered the “Canton” blue and white china for everyday usage. It was called “Canton” due to the place of origin being Canton in southern China where traders brought it back to European markets for purchase. As these weren’t readily made in the Continental States at that time, Washington ordered his from across the pond in London to satisfy his noble needs and wants.

However, after 1772 Washington never again ordered china from England, and an expedition to find a new route to access the famed Chinese porcelain had begun post-revolution, and direct trade between China and the U.S. became a reality. Thanks to Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, in 1790 Washington received his long awaited set of china with the emblem of the Society of Cincinnati on it. Click here for more on the background of the Society of Cincinnati and Washington’s role in it.

Bachelor vs. Married Men china

 

Of course, it’s a hoot when you look at Washington’s bachelor day china. Marriage is a compromise, right? I think Martha had a say in future patterns;-)

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(Bachelor China) Photo via mountvernon.org

And look at this beauty, crafted for Martha with her initials by a representative of the Dutch East India Company. A 1930’s replica is all yours for a mere $550!

Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the dining room which inspired all the research.

If you’re ever in the Nashville area, The Hermitage is a wonderful place to stop to delve back into the tumultuous and controversial life of President Andrew Jackson. One can always learn the do’s and don’ts from history!;-)

Thanks to whitehousehistory.org, firstladies.org and mountvernon.org for the wonderful history behind it all!

Happy reading and eating,

KD

George Washington Ate What?

portrait_of_george_washington-transparentA well known founding father of the United States of America, George Washington has been dissected, praised, lauded and ridiculed for centuries. His life has been scrutinized on a microscopic level in life as well in death. Multitudes of biographies abound on this man who would willingly give over the power to rule for a simple life on his plantation.

My latest book in The Protectorate series intertwines with the life of Mr. Washington. I’ve devoured historical accounts found in newspapers, word of mouth quotes and books in an attempt to unravel this larger than life person. After all, he was a man.

So, upon my research, I’ve stumbled across some little known tidbits of information that struck me as either funny, sad and even surprise. The journey to learn every last morsel of information on this formidable man has left me in awe and with even more questions.

Today, I wish to pass on some little known morsels of information. Enjoy!

  • In the Fall of 1787, George Washington drew up a contract with a gardener who had an itch for the drink: “if allowed four dollars at Christmas, with which to be drunk four days and four nights two dollars at Easter, to effect the same purpose; two dollars at Whitsuntide, to be drunk for two days, a dram in the morning, and a drink of grog at dinner and at noon.”
  • On the night George Washington passed away, his close friend, Dr. Thornton, rushed to Mount Vernon only to find Washington had already passed away. However, Dr. Thornton wanted to try to resurrect Mr. Washington, “in the following manner. First to thaw him in cold water, then to lay him in blankets, and by degrees and by friction to give him warmth, and to put into activity the minute blood vessels, at the same time to open a passage to the lungs by the trachea, and to inflate them with air, to produce and artificial respiration, and to transfuse blood into him from a lamb.” Now, that’s devotion! Blood transfusions??? Tracheotomy???
  • Obviously, the resurrection didn’t happen as family/friends intervened, and he was peacefully buried in “Washington City” under the Capitol building. Wait! That’s not correct;-)
  • Washington was originally supposed to be buried in Washington D.C. under the capitol building but never got there. He is buried with his beloved Martha at his home on Mount Vernon.
  • George Washington never wore a wig! Even though it was the fashion at the time, he simply powdered his own curly locks. His true color? Reddish brown;-)
  • Washington avoided public speaking as much as possible because it would make his hands shake, not to mention the difficulties of speaking with false teeth. It was reported that he was “painfully awkward when delivering a speech.”
  • Speaking of false teeth, Washington had them, but they were NOT wooden. Instead, they were made of “bone, hippopotamus ivory, human teeth, brass screws, lead, and gold metal wire.” mountvernon.org
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mountvernon.org

  • George Washington was born the first child of a second wife which put him at a disadvantage when his father died. George’s father, Augustine Washington, died when George was eleven. The family estate went to his eldest half-brother Lawrence. Mount Vernon was inherited by Washington in 1761 when Lawrence’s wife, Ann, passed away in 1761 and no heirs were alive. However, he rented Mount Vernon in 1754 from Ann when she remarried.
  • Washington wanted to join the Royal Navy at the young age of 14, but his mother refused. So, he became a surveyor and the rest is history.
  • Washington had a contentious relationship with his mother. “He visited, but out of obligation rather than affection, and the impression emerges that he simply did not like her.” – Washington’s Circle: The Creation of the President by David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler
  • Washington was unanimously elected to be President of the United States which has yet to happen since.
  • George Washington enjoyed mashed sweet potatoes and coconut (Yum!), cherry pies, hoe cakes (pancakes made with corn) and string beans with almonds.
  • George Washington popularized the mule in the United States.
  • Washington grew hemp on his plantation. However, it was used for making ropes and sailing canvas, not to smoke;-)

Well, I could go on and on about George Washington. He’s simply a fascinating person and one that helped to begin a country. If you’d like more information on this enigmatic giant, please visit www.mountvernon.org OR visit Mount Vernon in person (there’s really nothing quite like it), The Surprising George Washington by Richard Norton Smith or google to your heart’s content.

Now, I must get back to writing the second book in The Protectorate series! Stay tuned!

 

Happy reading,

KD