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Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

st nick 2Dickens Christmas on the Strand, held in Galveston Texas, is full of old  fashioned Holiday fun. So lasso up the kids and heard then down to the strand. laso up the kidsTossing knives while ridding a unicycle … fun fun fun. Of course I won’t be trying that anytime soonfunA highlight of Dickens On the Strand is the Victorian Bed Races. The beds have to be Victorian style with head and foot-boards. photo photo 2photo 5photo 4

 

 

The beds must be decorated in a Victorian Christmas theme. photo 7cphoto 3cphoto 2b       photo 4cphoto 6c

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beds may only be pushed, from the back or the sides. No pulling allowed Teams begin at 21st and Mechanic Street and race westward to the intersection of 22nd and Mechanic. In the intersection, teams come to a complete stop and perform a “Chinese Fire Drill”, with every team member circling the bed once. Then one of the pushers dons a night cap and gown, without assistance, and changes places with the previous rider, who becomes a pusher.photo 16 photo 11photo 14 photo 17         Once the new rider photo 18is on the bed, the team races to the finish line. Awards are given for the fastest time and the best decorated.

I want to wish all the Steamed readers a Merry Steampunk Christmas and a lot of Victorian Holiday fun.

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 24 published books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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Victorian Christmas Traditions

The idea of Christmas in the Victorian era immediately evokes imagery of lushly decorated trees, lavish dinners and balls, and Santa. Many of our most beloved Christmas traditions were started or made popular by the Victorians.

Victorian-Christmas-christmas-32723749-1024-768At the beginning of the 19th century, it was barely considered a holiday by many. But my the end of the 19th century was the most popular. Some of this rise in popularity is attributed to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, since he brought many of his own traditions, including a Christmas tree, to Britain, which then became popular in America and other places. Christmas trees and lavish decorations soon became household mainstays.

 

The Christmas Card, Christmas Cracker, and caroling were also made popular as well. Many gave gifts at the new year, but as Christmas became more and more popular, giving moved as well. The first gifts were simple, then, they became more and more lavish, especially as businesses began to see the commercial side of Christmas.  The Christmas feast can be traced back to the Middle Ages but the Victorians shaped it into what it is today. This includes the Christmas turkey. Santa, as we know him, also took shape in the Victorian era.

Here’s a menu for a “Traditional Christmas Dinner” from the 1890 Godey’s Lady’s Book.

So much of what we think of as Christmas was popularized by the Victorian, yet at the same time, the idea of a Victorian Christmas still makes me think of a simpler time. Here are some ideas ranging from easy to difficult to create some of your own Victorian Christmas magic.

 

Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens.  INNOCENT DARKNESS, book one of The Aether Chronicles, book two, CHARMED VENGEANCE, and book three, FRAGILE DESTINY, are now available from Flux. Visit her personal blog for more adventures.

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1883More on activities for cold winter nights! There are two activities detailed in this section of Peterson’s Magazine 1883 – December edition.

The first may look familiar… In my childhood we called it Telephone… but when I think about it now, Telephone wasn’t a good name for the game… after all who whispers to another person on the telephone… strange but true. The Victorian name for the game seems to fit the activity better!

CHRISTMAS GAMES.

CONFIDENCES is a capital game in its way. One lady whispers a remark to her neighbor about someone present. She would say, perhaps: “Young Mr. jones was coming home from a party last night, and lost his way in the fog, and had to leave his carriage, and walk home with two boys carrying lanterns.” And this is whispered hurriedly from person to person round the circle, and the amusing part of it is to discover how the story has become altered by being passed on in this manner.

Many games are played entirely for the amusement of children, and only joined in by the elders with that object. It is not always easy at the moment to hit upon something to please children, other than romping-games, such as “Post,” Blind Man’s Buff,” “Puss in the Corner,” “Hide and Seek,” “Magic Music,” “Oranges and Lemons,” “Throwing the Handkerchief,” etc. But these games, although very well for the nursery or for the play-room on a wet day, or for the garden on a summer’s day, occasion a good deal of noise when played in a drawing-room. Children are apt to become rough and quarrelsome when these boisterous games are indulged in for any length of time, and parents generally prefer to see their children amused and interested in a quieter way. “Shadows is a good game where with to amuse children, but it is best to play it in the school-room or in the dining room. The plan is to fix a linen sheet across the room, and to place a lamp on the floor behind it; the actors dance and perform a sort of pantomime, with much gesticulation and many quaint antics, and the shadows thus formed on the sheet are a source of great delight to the young spectators.

What games would your characters play on a snowy evening when kept indoors? Could you play these games in the public rooms on an airship? Hmmm… what do you think?

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The Steampunk 12 Days of Christmas

It’s that time of year again.

" Steampunk Santa"  ©Jennifer Koopman on Etsy

” Steampunk Santa” ©Jennifer Koopman on Etsy

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

12 Air Pirates

11 Painted Ladies

10 Clock Hands

9 Ray Guns

8 Pairs Brass Goggles

7 Aviator Caps

6 Cogs and Gears

5 Mad Scientists

4 Flying Cars

3 Top Hats

2 Pretty Corsets

And an Airship in a Pear Tree!

Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens.  INNOCENT DARKNESS, book one of The Aether Chronicles, book two, CHARMED VENGEANCE, and book three, FRAGILE DESTINY, are now available from Flux. Visit her personal blog for more adventures.

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Valentine’s Day is around the corner.

Unfortunately, Valentine’s Day can get expensive, fast…

Here are a few steampunky gift ideas to get you in the Valentine’s Day spirit that won’t break the bank.

What’s Valentine’s Day without a nice card?

Art Resurrected has a tutorial on how to make a beautiful Steampunk Valentine Card (with lots of bling.)

Or you can channel your inner victorian and make one with whatever you have — ribbon, lace, photos from magazines, and add some Victorian sentiments. Here’s an article to get you started. 

If you’re not into making one yourself, may I recommend this one by Brian Kesinger sold by my favorite steampunk shop Clockwork Couture?

vdaycard2

 

 

Pretty, right?

Some of the best gifts are handmade.

What about this pretty steampunk necklace made of polymer clay? The steampunk heart tutorial is by Aliceazzo on Deviantart.

steampunk clay heart tutorial

 

Or if you’re not a maker, what about this anatomical heart necklace?

14sv_anatomical_heart-2-1160x704

 

For the gents, or someone who just doesn’t like jewelry, you could use this youtube tutorial to make this great steampunk airship.

Or, I happen to like this tophat coffee mug. Perhaps as part of breakfast in bed?

tophattea2

 

What about trying your hand at making Steampunk Valentine’s Day cookies?

I liked these from By Amber’s Hands where she has complete instructions. 

cookies

 

What about some absinthe and champagne cupcakes?

This recipe from In Johanna’s Kitchen is even gluten and dairy free!

cupcakes

 

This is just a smattering of ideas to get you started. The sky’s the limit!

What are your favorite Steampunk-y Valentine’s Day ideas that won’t break the bank?

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I shake John Carney and then Christine Carney’s hands. “Happy New Year and welcome aboard Airship Steamed. Watch your step,” I call as I stretch my short legs in a leap across the wide gap between the dock and the airship. John and Christine, the owners of Thick and Thin Designs, follow me into the parlor.

I gesture towards the crimson settee, which features curvy lion head legs and claw feet. John and Christine take a seat there. I sink into the large armchair across from them. I raise my voice to speak over the clang and grind of the airship as we take off. “Cupcake toppers are wonderful and they take a cupcake to a whole other level. What drew you to the fascinating art and business of creating decorative acrylic cupcake toppers, jewelry and ornaments?”

Christine glances at the blue willow teacups, shaking and rattling on the tea table between us. “John’s an MFA student at the University of Maine and had been working as a tech in the new Innovation, Marketing, Research and Commercialization Center (IMRC) on campus and fell in love with the laser cutter. We knew that machine would allow us to produce what previously only existed in our wildest dreams. One night while I was cooking dinner, we envisioned a massive zombie horde placed upon dozens of cupcakes and the idea to produce unique, quirky cupcake toppers was born. We always knew that we wanted to be in business together and this was our opportunity.”

“How can you not love any business inspired by the vision of a zombie horde on cupcakes.” The dainty china cups cease rattling on the tea table as our airship glides smoothly pass the clouds. “Several of your Thick & Thin creations have a Steampunk appeal:  gears, mustaches, tentacles and hot air balloons. Do you have an interest in Steampunk?” I pick up the teapot and pour my guests a cup of Earl Grey.

John and Chrisitne pick up their teacups. “We love the Steampunk genre! We love the combination of beautiful clothing, dirty industrialization and the whimsical nature that threads through it all. Steampunk and those who love it are always an inspiration for us when we’re creating new designs because we know that there are great number of people out there who love it and not many products to support it.” Tendrils of steam rise from their teacups as they each take a sip.

I pour myself a cup of tea. “How do you get your inspiration for your creations?” Lifting and tilting my teacup to my lips, I take a long sip.

John reaches for the sugar bowl, picks up a white cube and plunks it into his tea. “We’ve always been fans of the obscure, geeky and cute so we often find inspiration in our hobbies. When we’re deciding what to put on our shop we think of things that we would want and can’t find anywhere else. We have a very diverse group of friends, sometimes thinking about what they might want can lead to innovative designs that we wouldn’t necessarily think of for ourselves. The tentacles for instance were created specifically for one of our Cthulhu loving friends who had just moved to the US from Spain. Obviously they had to be shared with the world, and now they are one of our top sellers.” He dips a silver teaspoon into his cup and swishes it gently from side to side.

Reaching for the dish on the table, I pinch a slice of lemon and inhale the invigorating citrus fragrance as I squeeze a few drops into my teacup. “Since this is Steamed, I have to ask do you like Steampunk fiction?  If so, what are some of your favorite Steampunk books or authors?”

iChrisitne leans back in the setee and takes another sip of tea. “I’m a big fan of H.P. Lovecraft and have loved the His Dark Materials trilogy by Pullman since it was first published. I love science and enjoy Steampunk fiction especially because of its, often positive, view of mechanics and its favorable portrayal of women in the field. It’s inspiring to women young and old to not let anything stop you from doing what you love, especially public opinion.”

I bring my teacup to my lips. As the steam from the cup blows warm on my face I finish the last of my tea and set the cup down. “As a husband and wife team, do you both design the cupcake toppers? If so, are some of the designs collaborations?”

Christine sets her teacup on its saucer on the table as John  does the same. “All of our pieces are collaborations. We will bounce ideas back and forth off of one another during the initial phases of a design. I will often check for scientific accuracy while my husband checks to make sure the piece will be interpreted visually. After the first rendition is finished in Illustrator, we’ll print a few test prints off and discuss how we feel about the piece and whether it’s successful before putting it up on the store. When looking at our shop line-up any design that is animal related or cute can be attributed to me and anything mechanical or figurative can be attributed to John.”

Hearing rattling and clinking, I glance at the tea table, the cups and saucers are shaking.”I know what that means, the airship is landing. I have time for one final question. What is your favorite cake or cupcake topper?”

Christine grasps hold of the arm of the settee, bracing for the landing “My favorite toppers are the tentacles! They were a blast to design and always go over well at a party! John’s partial to the ninja toppers, it was one of his first designs. He’s always thought that they perfectly represent our style and aesthetic, while showcasing the fine detail we are capable of in our pieces.”

The airship steamed has  landed and John and Christine Carney must get started on making cupcake toppers for all the parties in 2014, but they left their left calling cards for us.

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~      ~      ~

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 published books. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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It’s that time of year again…

A Steampunk Night Before Christmas
© 2009 Suzanne Lazear

‘Twas the night before Christmas and the whole ship was quiet,
Too quiet for the likes of this seasoned air pirate.

The airship was festooned with frippery and green,
With nary a brass polished surface to be seen.

Their stocking were hung by the crow’s nest with pride,
Along with homemade cookies and rum for Santa to imbibe.

I didn’t have the heart to tell the crew.
That Santa wouldn’t approve of what we do.

Sure, we stole from the rich, and gave to the needy.
But he’d probably think taking a cut was too greedy.

It didn’t matter that they had hearts of gold,
Only that it was stolen goods we bought and sold.

Suddenly portside there arose such a clatter,
That I grabbed my spyglass to see what was the matter.

The deck became filled with curious crew,
As I climbed the rigging for a better view.

The sky that had moments before been silent,
Had erupted with a commotion both grievous and violent.

The black ship portside was one that even we dread,
And it looked as if it were attacking a small red sled,

Driven by a fat guy and flying brown deer,
I polished the spyglass to ensure my vision was clear.

“Dread Pirate Fred’s attacking Santa, let’s help him, quick,”
Shouted my trusty first mate old Salty Nick.

What could I do but help out the sled,
“Come on, crew, let’s teach a lesson to Fred.”

I climbed down the rigging.
“There are cannons to load,
Christmas to save,
And pirates to goad.
Let’s kick up our speed,
And give up a fight.
Even we know
Robbing Santa just isn’t right.”

With a cheer, I manned the helm, going full speed ahead,
Nick loading our cannons to aim at the Dread Pirate Fred.

“Don’t worry Santa, help will arrive,
Salty Nick, man the cannons, prepare to take a dive.”

We flew through the air quickly, with all our might,
Fred’s crew had the sleigh on board, a terrible sight

Santa looked frightened, a gun to his head,
“Give me those presents,” growled the Dread Pirate Fred.

Even the reindeer had been rendered immobile,
By a few of Fred’s men in a black dirigible.

Santa shook his head, “If you take them, they will be missed.
Certainly, you all shall make my permanent naughty list.”

“I don’t care,” the pirate growled,
“We just want those gifts,” his crew avowed.

“Unhand those presents,” I called, dashing through the air
The cannons fired, aimed only to scare.

The reindeer bucked, trying to get free,
Fred sneered, “Captain Sno, you don’t scare me.”

Quickly, we secured Fred’s ship and dastardly crew,
But Fred still had Santa—there was only one thing to do.

Fred and I grappled across the deck, precariously,
Nick making sure Santa and the reindeer went free,

“You can’t rob Santa, it’s just not right,”
I yelled as I punched Fred when he put up a fight.

“Now, now, cease that,” Santa said,
Causing me to stop punching Dread Fred.

“Now Dread Pirate Fred, trying to steal presents in wrong,
but Captain Sno, punching him won’t stop him for long.

Christmas is about sharing and caring, not fighting and stealing,
and doing what’s right, not wheeling and dealing.”

Fred and I looked at each other, hanging our heads in shame.
The jolly old man had a good handle on our game.

Both crews made sure the gifts all went back
Into Santa’s giant red velvet sack.

Cook fed the reindeer carrots, and Santa cherry pie
I looked at the Dread Pirate Fred and gave a sigh.

“Why did you do that? That’s low even for you,
to attack Santa and take his presents on Christmas Eve, too.”

“Those presents would fetch prices that are sky high.”
But the look on Fred’s face told me that was a lie.

“There are better ways of getting a present from Santa’s sack,
then trapping the reindeer and staging an attack.”

“You’re one to talk,” Fred replied.
Nodding slowing, I looked at my crew, and again I sighed.

“I’m afraid, Santa, neither Fred nor I have been good this year,
but please, don’t forget our crew, they could use some cheer.

They don’t meant to be bad; they’re just following orders
They’re good men at heart, not drunkards and cavorters.”

Santa said, “Thank you captain, for rescuing me,
I think I my sleigh might hold an extra present or three.

You too,” he added to Dread Pirate Fred.
I shook my head. Was that what he actually said?

“Fred and his crew tried to steal your gifts to sell,
now you’re giving them presents as if all were well?”

Santa winked. “Now, Sno, remember what Christmas is all about.”
Getting in his sleigh, he gave his reindeer a shout.

“Just try to stay off the naughty list, the both of you, from now on.
Now, I have to be off, to get these delivered before dawn.”

Both crews looked up, as Santa took off.
“Merry Christmas, Santa,” my voice went soft.

With a wink of his eye, and a flick of his hand,
Presents flew out of his sleigh; onto the deck they did land.

“Thank you, Santa,” the crews did shout.
“There’s not one for me,” Dread Fred did pout.

“All I’ve ever wanted is a present from Santa, just one.”
I scoffed. “But not enough to stop having all your plundering fun.”

“Stop it you two,” Santa added with a call.
“But I didn’t forget you either, no, not at all.”

Two more presents floated down from the sky.
Turning mine over in my hands I looked up. “But why?”

Santa just smiled. “Just remember what I said.
And for once, Sno, can you stop plaguing Fred?”

With a hearty laugh, the sled flew through the sky,
Both crews waving, tears in their eyes.

“A present for me?” Fred’s eyes gleamed.
I knew deep down, he wasn’t as dreadful as he seemed.

Taking a box from my pocket, I said, “And there’s another.”
Giving it to him, I smiled. “Merry Christmas, brother.

I’m sorry I plague you, but it’s so much fun.
Let’s make next year a much better one.”

Nodding, Fred said, “For once, Sno, you’re right.
I think this should be the last time we fight.”

Santa sped by, doing one last turn.
“I hope there’s a lesson tonight you all learned.

Merry Christmas to you, and remember my lads,
no one says air pirates have to be bad.”

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