Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Extra Photos: Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany

Prince Leopold (age 6) and Prince Arthur (age 8) in a staged performance celebrating Leopold's birthday (1859).

Sometimes I am asked if it takes me a long time to write a blog entry. The answer: No ... not usually. I can write a post fairly fast. But. After it's written, I might refine it: Change a word, or words here and there for clarity. Add a word or sentence to make a paragraph punchy, or flow better, etc.

In editing a post, I frequently shorten the piece. I call the process, "killing your children." Sometimes I must delete phrases/sentences I really like. Initially, they sound brilliant, but after the piece is complete, there is no place for them. They slow down the fluidity, or just make the blog too long. So I go back and kill sentences ... delete ... gone!

When I wrote the last blog (on Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany) not only did I have to cut interesting facts, but pictures I love. I think it might be fun for readers to see a few.
Here is one I adore, but could find no information on when or why it was taken. Prince Leopold looks very Victorian, doesn't he? A Victorian man about town? A part in a play? Perhaps it was taken in his Oxford University days when he worn his hair longer. If anyone knows anything about this picture please comment. Truly, inquiring minds want to know!

I think the very top picture of Prince Leopold and Prince Arthur is adorable! Such cute little boys at such cute ages. Undoubtedly loved, but how could their mother, Queen Victoria, not find little Prince Leopold as darling as his older brother? I can't understand it!

Another photo I love, but didn't use in my post, is of Leopold's wife, Princess Helena of Waldeck and Pyrmont, in her gorgeous Parisian wedding gown (a gift from her older sister). It is made of white satin and decorated with orange blossom, myrtle and trimmed with fleur-de-lis.
Princess Helena wasn't considered a beauty; but I disagree. Certainly, she was a beautiful bride! I can imagine Leopold thinking so as she walked down the aisle of St. George's Chapel. Helena was intelligent and cultured, as well as, an ideal wife and mother, but in last week's blog, I cut much of her description after reminding myself that the blog was supposed to be about Prince Leopold. 

In vain, I spent loads of time trying to find a wedding photo of Leopold and Helena together. Unbelievably, none seems to exist! Can it be!?! So I was thrilled to find the bottom photo of the newly married couple driving in a carriage soon after their wedding (April 27, 1882). Prince Leopold is standing giving a speech to well wishers.
So that's what blogging is. It's as much about what you delete and leave out as about what you write and leave in.

Periodically, my vexed mother would say, "There was a life before you, Mädchen!" and these images from Victorian England prove her right. We don't think about our great, great grandparents as being young once upon a time, do we? Generations depart ... and generations follow.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Remembering Prince Leopold, Duke Of Albany

Photo: Hilton Archives 1880
After reading biographies on Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, I moved onto one of their nine children.

According to historians, Prince Arthur (the 7th child) was Victoria's favorite son, while Prince Alfred ("Affie," the 4th child) was Prince Albert's. Without a doubt, my favorite of the sons is Prince Leopold (their 8th child), who was born on April 7, 1853.


Like her husband, Albert, Victoria loved all her children; and they loved her, but sometimes she was more monarch then mother. Once a private secretary recalled seeing a stampede of royal children fleeing her approach, shouting, "The Queen! The Queen!"

At 4 years old he handwrote a letter to his parents, signing it "From dear Leopold."

She had a strong, domineering nature and a fiery temper, and she often tried to bend her sons and daughters to her will without considering their own temperaments, talents or desires. Such a dynamic was especially hard on her youngest son, Prince Leopold, and it caused periodic friction between mother and son. Furthermore, the stress likely took a toll on Leopold's health.
Prince Leopold with his older brother, Prince Arthur and with his beloved dog 
                 
Although Victoria knew Leopold was a clever child, why she was so critical and overlooked his many fine qualities is puzzling to a reader. She thought him a plain-looking child ... at one time calling him the ugliest of the brood and was annoyed by his posture, which as it turns out, was probably due to stiff joints. 

Prince Leopold had Albert's keen intelligence and aspiration to live a useful life. A polymath, he was a talented pianist and tenor singer. He could draw, as well as, tended his own gardens at Buckingham Palace and Osbourne. Leopold liked people (which was returned); had his mother's feisty and sensible personality; and loved to travel to see the world when permitted to do so.

With his sister, Princess Louise, Leopold visited Canada and the United States in 1880. Even as a child he was a sympathetic listener, and as an adult became a "highly praised public speaker."*
With Queen Victoria in 1862 - Leopold was away in Cannes for his health when his father died. The 8 year old returned to a house in morning. The life he knew before going away was gone.
Unfortunately, Prince Leopold inherited the condition of hemophilia B, so his blood was missing the plasma protein(s) that allows it to clot. Throughout his life, he had episodes of severe bleeding from bumps and injuries, sometimes lying him up unable to walk for months. He also had extended periods of good health. It is striking how some of his more serious attacks (that included internal bleeding) followed emotional trauma, which occurred after the Queen blocked his path to jobs that Leopold could have done with aplomb.

Too often Victoria stifled Leopold, using his health as an excuse to keep him tied to her. But by nature, Leopold was perhaps the Queen's most independent child, and he resisted her attempts to keep him at home as an invalid. As author, Charlotte Zeepvat says, "Full of spirit, he resented his illness and wanted to fight against it."* He was smart, curious and needed to take on challenges outside of the castle. The Prince wanted to lead the life of a normal man of his class.

It is touching how his older brothers and sisters rallied for him. At one time or another, Vicky from Prussia, Bertie, Alice, Affie, Helene, Louise and Arthur all wrote letters to the Queen in support of something their younger brother wanted to pursue. Sometimes Victoria's other children and her prime ministers understood Leopold better than she did.

Only when Queen Victoria saw that her son wouldn't be put-off, did she allow him to attend Oxford University and earn an honorary degree in civil law. He thrived in his studies, despite his mother's habit of yanking him out of classes to accompany her to Balmoral.
At Oxford 1873: Photo taken by Carroll Lewis,  author of "Alice In Wonderland"
Attending Oxford University was one of the happiest periods of Prince Leopold's life. Throwing himself into university life, he studied a variety of subjects and joined a number of clubs. He loved going to concerts, operas and plays, liked actresses and met many artistic and literary elites in Victorian England. Some became lifelong friends.

Indeed, Prince Leopold stayed in touch with people from different stages of his life, from former nursery staff and old tutors to his Oxford friends. He also loved children and was a devoted uncle and godfather to his nieces and nephews, as well as, to the offspring of close friends, who named their sons, Leopold, in honor of him.
Sister Alice's daughter, Alix of Hesse, the future and last Express of Russia with her Uncle Leopold in 1879.
Death touched him at an early age. At 8 years old the Prince lost his father and equerry on the same day, December 14, 1861 while the little boy was recuperating from illness in France. Years later, his sister, Alice's 2-year old son, Frittie (also a hemophiliac and Leopold's godson) died of a fall from a window. The child would have lived had he not had hemophilia. That death was followed by Alice's daughter, Marie (another godchild) from diphtheria and during the same period, by Alice, herself, also of diphtheria. At Oxford, a close friend and possibly Leopold's first love, Edith Liddell (the younger sister of Alice Liddle, who was the inspiration for "Alice In Wonderland") died young. Leopold was a pallbearer.

After college, Queen Victoria thought her son should remain unmarried and at home with her. Off and on, Leopold acted as her unofficial private secretary, advising her on domestic and foreign policy. He grew to love foreign affairs, communicating with prime ministers Disraeli and Gladstone.

But Leopold had other hankerings. Not only did The Prince covet foreign appointments and peerages like his brothers, he longed for a wife and family of his own. He was a gentle, sensitive soul with qualities that would make him a loving husband. But due to his hemophilia and a suspicion (possibly false) of mild epilepsy, Leopold had trouble finding a bride. Over a two year search, several German princesses, plus an English heiress rejected him, and it was Queen Victoria (to her credit!) who had the idea of having him meet with Princess Helena of Waldeck and Pyrmont, whose German family made a favorable impression on Victoria a decade earlier.
Prince Leopold with Princess Helena and his first child, daughter Alice, named after his sister. His sister's widower, Louie of Hesse was the Prince's best man and the godfather of Alice.

Luckily they hit it off ... marrying (7 months after meeting) on April 27, 1882. (It didn't hurt that they had two mutual contacts who praised Leopold to the German princess.) 

Helena was highly intelligent, warm, supportive, "full of fun and humor;" and they had a happy although all too brief marriage. Leopold delighted in fatherhood to daughter, Alice, born in February, 1883. They lived in a relaxed and comfortable home, Claremont House, that Leopold took pleasure in decorating. 

Their marriage "showed every sign of lasting and growing;"* and it breaks a reader's heart to learn that Leopold died on March 28, 1884 in Cannes, France after slipping on a tile floor and banging his knee. He went to Cannes (a warm climate) on doctor's orders to ease joint pain (a common malady with hemophiliacs) that was often brought on by the winters in the UK. Helene planned to go too, but pregnant with their second child, required bedrest. She urged Leopold to go, and they wrote each other every day. In his last letter (written before he fell asleep on March 27) he asked her to join him if she could.
Leopold had "cheated death so many times,"yet sadly not this last time. Sources speculate that the Prince died from a combination of morphine (administered to dull his pain) and a glass of wine (he was served with his dinner). Another said by falling, he ruptured small veins in his head causing a cerebral hemorrhage, but the exact cause of death remains unclear. He had hurt his knee at 3:30 pm; been given morphine a couple of times in the evening. At about 3:00 am he had a seizure and died. Just 30 years old ... a promising life cut tragically short.

Robert Hawthorne Collins, a former tutor and close friend, wrote: "May we meet that gentle, loving boy again! I can think of nothing more joyful in the hereafter."

Aware of his mortality, Prince Leopold had a thirst for life. When he befriended individuals he wanted to introduce them to all the people and places he loved. You can't help being charmed by him, rooting for him and having your heart broken by how much he had to overcome. Most of all, he is inspiring. Not always a healthy man, but a positive and kind person, who persevered to live a full life.
Princess Helena with daughter Alice and son, Charles Edward, born posthumously after Leopold's death on July 19, 1884. (Leopold got lucky with her, the right girl!)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Coffee Walnut Cake: High Tea My Way


Photo: Darren McGardy, the royal chef's website
I'm thinking of hosting a High Tea. The afternoon meal consists of finger sandwiches (such as cucumber and egg), scones, muffins or crumpets, and if you really want to get fancy, a glass of Champagne. Well ... as an American, I don't have to be as strict as an upper class Brit. In lieu of muffins and crumpets, I'm serving a walnut cake.

Here is a recipe I tweaked from the New York Times. I like the addition of instant coffee to the walnut cake and frosting, but I use the ingredients in different measurements. (Because. I can't leave well enough alone!) I also prefer buttermilk and the use of an electric mixer. So voilà ... the following is my recipe:

Coffee Walnut Cake

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup sugar
Photo: New York Times
2 sticks butter
4 large eggs
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried cinnamon
1 tablespoon instant coffee
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon rum (or Bourbon)
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cup finely ground walnuts (I grind the walnuts in a food processor. Dilute with a tablespoon of flour to keep it loose.)

Directions

1) In a bowl, mix the sugar and butter together with an electric mixer. 

2) Add the next 10 ingredients in order and beat with the mixer.

3) Fold in the ground walnuts.

4) Pour into 2 buttered and floured 9'' cake pans. 

5) Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes or until a tester produces a crumb.

6) Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pans, then cool completely.

While the cake is baking prepare the frosting, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

Coffee Walnut Frosting

Ingredients:
Photo: Hammons

3 cups powdered sugar
1 stick butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1-2 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup chopped walnuts to sprinkle on  top of the frosting.

Directions:

1) Combine the 1st 4 ingredients into a smooth frosting.

2) Frost the top, center and sides. Place in the refrigeration for 10 minutes and frost the cake again like a professional baker if you wish. Double frosting makes a cake look bakery flawless!

3) Garnish with the walnuts on the top and sides of the cake.

The spirit of High Tea lives on across the pond! I plan to serve tea and this delicious cake on pretty china; the finger sandwiches on a tiered stand; and decorate the table with a vase of pretty pink roses. Also I may serve a light soup (like cream of broccoli; or tomato). In America, we so often eat soup with sandwiches.

Hmm ... do you think anyone will miss their muffins or crumpets?😊

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Friday, March 3, 2017

THE SAVVY SHOPPER Turns 8 Years Old Today

Photo: Zazzle.com
Eight years ago today, I began writing THE SAVVY SHOPPER. At the time the magazine where I worked launched its online presence and suddenly, we all had to learn about social media, and this new way of publishing directly on the World Wide Web. "Blogging" was a weird, new word, yet an exciting concept! In 2009, it was more of a concept than a reality. "Blogging" didn't feel real, mainstream or solid like articles in print. How times change!

Moveover, who knew there would be eight years of blogs to write? Certainly not me. Days may drag, but the years fly by!

Thank you, readers, for your ideas, comments, emails and for simply stopping by. Proudly, we are one interconnected, global community of many cultures. Everyone of you is valued ... cherished ... important. YOU make writing the blog an awesome experience. As always, let me know if there is a subject you'd like covered. What should I write about next?

Here's to another enriching year of learning, sharing and entertainment!

Happy Birthday, THE SAVVY SHOPPER!

With much gratitude, Debbie 
                                   oxox
Photo: Bigstock
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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Black Eyed Pea Soup

Photo: Lisa's Kitchen
On New Year's Day I went to the supermarket to buy a can of black eyed peas. But when you first think of it on New Year's Day, you will find a huge empty space where cans of black eyed peas should be. Therefore, I returned home with a 16 ounce bag of dried black eyed peas, one of only four left! It was more servings of black eyed peas than I needed to ensure good luck.

Sooo. I began making a new soup, and I learned something else from my procrastination: Unlike pinto, black, pink or navy beans, there is no need to soak black eyed peas beforehand. (Ignore the directive to do so on the package.) After simmering on a stove top for 1.5 hour, they get tender enough to eat. Here is my quick and dirty recipe for 2 servings of tasty black eyed soup:


Black Eyed Pea Soup


Ingredients:


1/4 cup dried black eyed peas
2 carrots, sliced (I cut the vegetables in big chunks.)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 small plum tomato, chopped (or any tomato you have)
1 medium potato, cubed
a cup of green vegetable: Select one of the following - green beans, kale, spinach, collard greens or peas (i.e., whatever you find in your freezer or refrigerator)
1 large bouillon cube (or 2 small)
2 1/2 cups of water
dried garlic powder to taste
dried onion powder to taste
a sprinkle of nutmeg
a sprinkle of Italian seasoning
a bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
a sprinkle of Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 1/4 cup of quinoa

Directions:


1) Dump all the ingredients into a pot. Two exceptions: 1} Hold the salt until the end, so it won't increase the cooking time of the black eyed peas. 2} If you use spinach or peas, hold them until the soup is nearly done so as not to overcook. Spinach or peas cook in under 5 minutes, so simply lay either on top of the pot of soup near the end of the cooking time.


2) Bring to a boil, lower the heat and let the soup simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.


Certainly, a 16 ounce bag of dried black eyed peas makes lots of soup! Make one big pot and freeze the leftovers, or 8 (2 serving size pots (which is what I'm doing to avoid leftovers). The choice is yours!


I've been making my soup vegetarian on nights I want to prepare a no fuss, quick meal, then pairing it with a protein. Quinoa is a complete protein grain. A ham sandwich is good too.

Feel free to toss grilled sausage into the soup, if you wish. Fresh or frozen vegetables are fine too. Soup is so adaptable ... a mish-mosh pot of deliciousness! Bon appétité!

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