Author Archive: Lydia Claire

Surprising Uses for Saffron

SaffronSaffron is not just a spice that can used to flavor and  add rich color to food.  It also has a rich history of medicinal uses.  These days it is not particularly known for it medicinal properties, but in the ancient world it was highly prized for those qualities.

It is derived from a flower- the crocus sativus– or Saffron Crocus.  When purchased it is almost always found in dried, thin thread-like pieces.  These threads are actually the stigmas of the Saffron Crocus flower.  The flower is a lovely lavender color with the vibrant red stigmas in the center.  Because the threads are hand picked, and each flower only produces four, Saffron is the worlds most expensive spice.

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Legoland

Lego tourist- he even snores!

Lego tourist- he even snores!

We took the boys to Legoland yesterday.  They had an absolute blast!  It takes a lot to wear our boys out; and they were worn out!  All was not lost for my history side though- Legoland surprisingly has a few (maybe overgrown and slightly neglected) historical treasures.

Quick background on Legoland- it replaced the original theme park on the site- Cypress Gardens, in 2011.  Cypress Gardens was Florida’s original theme park.  Founded in the 1930’s it was famous for it’s botanical gardens, water skiing, and pretty Southern Belles walking throughout the gardens.

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Willow, Bone and The Spodes

Blue Willow by Spode

Blue Willow by Spode

A beautiful, young girl from a rich Chinese family falls in love with a handsome young man.  However he is not from her social class, and so her father forbids their marriage.  Faced with the choice of life without each other, they run away and tragically drown.  After death they turn into love birds and fly into forever together.  Tragic romance- depicted in the design of the Blue Willow pattern.  Is it based on a Chinese legend?  Well, the answer is no.  The only elements that are Chinese in the pattern are the Willow trees and the border design.  The center of the design featuring the bridge, temple, and love birds are the creation of an English porcelain company, Caughley.  They also created a story to go with their beautiful design.  It’s an 18th century marketing campaign; called The Legend of the Willow Pattern.

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Blue and white: From China to the tables of Europe

Beautiful decorative dog figure by Herend Porcelain Photo Credit: Herend Porcelain herendusa.com

Beautiful decorative dog figure by Herend Porcelain
Photo Credit:
Herend Porcelain
herendusa.com

China, or porcelain, was invented by the Chinese sometime between 600 and 900 A.D..   Not just for eating off of, it is also used in decorating  and is collected.  It can extremely valuable.  Christie’s (the famous auction house) currently has a blue and white jar Chinese porcelain jar priced at $27,657,944.  It’s very old; form the Yuan Dynasty- mid 14th century.  New and smaller pieces are still valuable as well.  As in the case of the collectible dog above.  This little dog is made of fine porcelain and hand painted, by the famous Hungarian porcelain company Herend.  This little friend will set you back $480, which is a mid-range price for a Herend figurine.  Other small figurines can range up to above $1000.   While certainly not a rare Chinese jar; these little figurines are expensive by any standard.   Princess Diana collected Herend figurines.  A dinner set of Herend was given to William and Kate as their wedding present from Hungary.  There is even a pattern named Queen Victoria, which was named after her following her purchase of china from the company.  For those of us that aren’t royalty fine China becomes something that adds a sense of finery to life.  It’s handed down from generation to generation.  I myself have my great-grandmother’s dinner set of Spode’s Buttercup.  For me it brings a sense of tradition and history to our family gatherings and holiday meals.

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The Great Wall of Blue China

I love decorating with blue and white china.  I don’t limit myself to just the china either; I love blue and white fabrics- especially oriental toiles- as well.  Blue and white is classic, aesthetically pleasing and incorporates well into practically any color scheme.

My first introduction to blue and white china came from my grandmother.  Mama (pronounced ma-maaw) gave me a little Chinese tea pot made in the shape of a turtle.  She picked it up in an antique shop, telling me that it made her think of me.  It is patterned in a lovely blue and white design, on the bottom is a made in china sticker.  I don’t believe it’s very valuable.  It probably dates to the 1950’s.  That doesn’t matter though, it inspired my love for blue and white and is a daily reminder of my grandmother.

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Why The Orange Tree?

rhett in the shade

There is a lovely, old Orange Tree in my backyard.  It’s not particularly beautiful, it’s a little scraggly and gnarled, signs of age and character written on its trunk.  The tree is a Parson Brown, about 40 feet in height.  Every fall the tree begins to blossom and the sweet smell of Orange Blossom’s fills our yard.  In early winter it begins to bear fruit; pale, medium sized oranges that make excellent freshly squeezed juice.  Our home was built in 1954, by a couple named Waldo and Ethel.  They lived here for 31 years, it’s possible they planted the tree in the back yard.  I always picture them, a young married couple planting the tree as a symbol of their growing family.  Perhaps over the years the tree grew with their children.  I’ve imagined Ethel hanging her clothes on the line with her children running around in the yard.  Perhaps they had a dog that liked to sleep in its shade just like ours does.  Orange trees can have very long lives, even up to 100 years.  Maybe our tree was here even before the house, or our neighborhood.  Maybe its the last remnant of an orange grove that was planted here in the 1800’s.

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About

meHello! My name is Lydia Claire. I’m a native Florida girl and live in sunny Fla (Florida). My little family is my husband Chris, our two little boys and our bouncy black lab Rhett.
I’m a huge history buff and I love cooking, style, wellness, decorating, and raising my family. I look at life from a historical perspective, wanting to know the why, when, where and how of pretty much everything. Here I write about lifestyle from a historical perspective. Everything has a story waiting to be told, something in the past which makes it unique and can change your perspective. Even mundane day to day tasks can become profound when their past is brought to light.

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