Queen Elizabeth’s Hats on Parade

Queen Elizabeth II on July 16, 2015 in Barking, England. / Source: Max Mumby, Indigo, Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth, July 16, 2015 in Barking, England. / Source: Max Mumby, Indigo, Getty Images

When I contemplate my fashion inspirations, three things immediately spring to mind: the ever elegant Audrey Hepburn, every Victorian lady who ever donned a House of Worth gown, and Queen Elizabeth II.

Queen Elizabeth’s fashion sense is timeless. Classic and feminine. Individual and iconic. The gloves, the jewels, the perfectly coordinated monochromatic ensembles, all worn with an air of grace and poise—and one, solitary, black patent purse.

While I admire every facet of the Queen’s style, my favorite has to be her seemingly endless hat collection. One that has been honored by the highest millinery authority. That’s right, dears. In 2014, Queen Elizabeth II was inducted into The Headwear Association Hall of Fame, the oldest trade association in the fashion industry, established in 1908. Talk about major #HatGoals!

Since this month marks the Queen’s 91st birthday (April 21), I thought it would be fun to celebrate by highlighting a selection of her many millinery masterpieces. Gather round old-fashioned fashionistas, it’s time for haute couture hats to go on parade!

Queen Elizabeth’s Hats on Parade

Queen Elizabeth attending a Garden Party at Balmoral Castle on August 7, 2012. / Source: Pinterest

The Queen attending a Garden Party at Balmoral Castle on August 7, 2012. / Source: Pinterest

Queen Elizabeth attending the Trooping the Colour on June 15, 2013. / Source: Zimbo.com

Queen Elizabeth attending the Trooping the Colour on June 15, 2013. / Source: Zimbo

The first hat to march in our parade is a Diagonal Crown Hat, a style also affectionately known as the “Ski Slope” hat. This particular example is trimmed in cobalt lace that provides a brilliant contrast against the white base and echoes the color of the ensemble. Simply beautiful! Continue reading

A Blogging Interlude

Good day, dears! I am busily typing away on my third novella, Masquerade Melody, a romance which will release in a collection from Barbour Publishing later this year.

With my deadline fast approaching, I find myself in need of a blogging interlude. A two month respite in which to finish my novella and meet my deadline, sanity intact. (Well, as much as can be expected.) I shall return to my cyber-space parlor in April!

Until then, do make yourself comfortable reading through my blog archives. Then, perhaps you might join me at the public assembly room known as Facebook, where I will continue to post daily-ish. Hope to see you there!

Find me on Facebook: Author Angela Bell and 21st Century Victorian Lady.

21st Century Victorian Lady

10 Paintings of Victorian Bookworms

WARNING: If superfluous giddiness grates on your nerves, cease reading immediately! However, if celebrating small moments with great enthusiasm makes you feel cozily warm inside like a morning cuppa—by all means, read on!

HIP-HIP-HOORAY, ‘tis my book’s birthday!!!!! *tosses confetti glitter in the air*

Lassoed by Marriage

One year ago (on January 1st) my debut novella The Substitute Bride released in The Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection! Since its release, the collection hit the ECPA Bestseller List and has been read by many a dear reader. A surreal and exciting notion!

To those who have bought the collection and written reviews—THANK YOU! To those who have subscribed here, Liked my Facebook, and sent encouraging messages—THANK YOU! I look forward to sharing more books and Victorian fun with you in future!

Now let’s celebrate The Substitute Bride’s book birthday with 10 Paintings of Victorian Bookworms(All Images Located on Pinterest / Original Sources Unknown)

“An Evening at Home” circa 1888, by Edward John Poynter (British, 1836-1919).

“An Evening at Home” circa 1888, by Edward John Poynter (British, 1836-1919).

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12 Victorian Images for Christmas Crafting

Christmas Victorian FamilyMy childhood was painted with Elmer’s glue and sprinkled with glitter. I have fond memories of threading macaroni necklaces, taking a scrap-booking class, and winning 1st place (exactly one time) at a local art fair.

Although I haven’t decoupaged in years, I still enjoy dabbling in arts and crafts from time to time. Especially around the holidays.

I think my old fashioned sensibilities hearken back to the Victorian notion—pre-Industrial Revolution—of finding joy in making something by hand. In creating, slowly and thoughtfully. Reveling in the process of artistry, as much as the end result.

In that spirit, let’s celebrate the holiday season with 12 Victorian Images for Christmas Crafting! (Click on Each Image for Full Size)

Note: For those who prefer technology to paper mache, feel free to Share, Pin, and Tweet away! This is a No Crafting Shame zone.

Christmas Victorian Lady Star / Source TheGraphic'sFairy.com / Click for Full Size Image

Victorian Lady Christmas Star / Source The Graphic’s Fairy.com / Click Image for Full Size

Craft Idea: Print off these images to make custom, Victorian Christmas cards!

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Mackinac Island’s Lovely Victorian Homes

Victorian Home MemeLast month I escorted you on a brief cyber tour of Mackinac Island: A Victorian Oasis. However, my tour of this old-fashioned paradise was a smidgen incomplete due to the fact that it was rather impossible to condense the whole of Mackinac’s beauty into one reasonably sized blog post.

Hence, this secondary post showcasing Mackinac Island’s Lovely Victorian Homes!

Fetch your hat and parasol, dears! We’re off for a quaint stroll.

Victorian Forest GreenVictorian Cottage

One can almost imagine a Victorian Snow White residing in this cottage with a collection of eccentric dwarfs.

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Mackinac Island: A Victorian Oasis

Mackinac IslandAt the end of August, I had the pleasure of visiting the Victorian Era. No, not by means of time machine. I simply took a ferry across Lake Huron to Mackinac Island, near Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Mackinac Island gained renown in the late Victorian Era as a summer vacation resort for the wealthy. (Apparently having servants at your beck and call to perform all menial labor and change your fashionable ensembles multiple times a day was most exhausting.)

Thanks to an island-wide ban on automobiles, very little has changed on Mackinac. (The dangerous and raucous machines frightened the horses, you see. Rather impractical.)

This resulted in Mackinac Island turning into a time capsule. Horse and carriage is still the dominant form of transportation. Victorian architecture remains intact on store fronts and homes, preserved with reverence rather than modernized. And cell reception is…sparse. While time on Mackinac may not actually move backward, it certainly slows to a rhythm unfamiliar to us 21st century dwellers. Yet it’s a peaceful pace that is utterly refreshing. I highly recommend it as a MUST vacation spot for every amateur historian and 21st Century Victorian!

Since we can’t venture there today, let’s enjoy a brief cyber-tour of Mackinac Island: A Victorian Oasis!

Mackinac Island

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6 Delightfully Delicious Teas

Tea MemeHello, my name is Angela, and I am a tea-oholic. 

On second thought, that term is rather extreme as it implies addiction. I shall try another. I am a tea drinker? Tea enthusiast? Tea snob? All of the above? Let’s just go with tea connoisseur as it sounds fancy and official and marvelously superfluous.

Rewind. Press play.

Hello, my name is Angela, and I am a tea connoisseur. I’ve enjoyed tea parties from a young age, starting with Disney Princess tea sets and later transitioning to Fine Bone China. This is all thanks to my elegant mother—the original 21st Century Victorian Lady—who instilled a love of tea in our family. Each May we put on an annual Kentucky Derby Tea, and the rest of the year, we manage to transform pretty much any occasion into tea time.

Now that you better understand my endearing obsession with a good cuppa, please allow me to gush about some of the best blends I’ve discovered over the years.

6 Delightfully Delicious Teas!

1. Irish Breakfast / Harney & Sons Fine Teas 

Black Tea / Served with or without Milk and Sugar

Irish Breakfast is my perfect top o’the mornin’ cuppa. 100% Assam it’s suitable for drinking alongside any breakfast dish, sweet or savory. Have one cup or three, as the lucky clover grows, to set your day off with a sprightly jig! *cue the Riverdance soundtrack*

Shop for Irish Breakfast.

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A Roundabout History of the Victorian Carousel

Antique CarouselMy fascination with carousels began when I was a little girl. Growing up in Florida, there was a carousel at the mall where my parents would take me to ride a very special horse. A white carousel horse named Abigail. I have faint, precious memories of riding Abigail, round and around, to a magical combination of music and lights while my daddy’s hand rested at my back holding me safely in place upon a colorfully painted saddle.

I suppose this lingering memory is to thank for subconsciously inspiring my latest novella, The Best Man in Brookside. In this Victorian era tale, my characters Donovan and Sophia are thrown together on an English village’s fair committee and tasked to revive an old, very special, carousel into a steam-driven marvel.

This concept of a steam-powered carousel was incredibly fun for me to research because I am both a history geek and a whimsical Steampunk at heart. Since there were so many interesting facts that failed to make the cut of my tiny novella, I’d like to share some of my harvested knowledge with you now in A Roundabout History of the Victorian Carousel!

Antique Carousel

The First Carousels: Early carousels were rather small and unimpressive contraptions—simple platforms built with mounted wooden horses turned about by a man or a real horse pulling a rope. Despite their simple construction, the popularity of carousels increased with the passing years and by the mid-19th century, the carousel was a staple at fairs delighting children across England. Continue reading

EVENT: California Gold Rush Collection Release Party

A brief jaunt away from my regular blogging schedule to issue a special invitation!

California FB Event-Small Size

I will be making an appearance at the Facebook Release Party to chat about my Victorian novella, THE BEST MAN IN BROOKSIDE. I’m so excited to share Donovan and Sophia’s story with you! Hope to see you there!

1-Brookside Town Meme

Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Love of Horses

Horse InspirationKeeping up with the British Royal Family is rather a hobby of mine. I follow them on Facebook, read biographies and history books, and watch every PBS special I can find about their thoroughly interesting family tree.

Over the years, I’ve accumulated quite the mental store of important and random trivia facts. For example: Did you know that Queen Elizabeth loves horses? Furthermore, did you know that her horses are trained using the art of horse whispering?

Indeed, in the 1980’s the Queen was one of the first to employ renowned American “horse whisperer” Monty Roberts, famous for his gentle Join-Up method for training racehorses. In fact, it was at the Queen’s suggestion that Roberts penned a book about his unique ideas, The Man Who Listens to Horses, which went on to sell over five million copies worldwide.

In addition to employing horse whisperers, Queen Elizabeth herself is also quite skilled in the art. Back in 1981, while riding her favorite mare Burmese in the Trooping of the Colour–a ceremony that marks the reigning monarch’s official birthday–someone fired six blank shots at the Queen, spooking poor Burmese who then attempted to bolt. Despite sitting side-saddle, the Queen was able to calm Burmese, regaining control of her mount in a few strides of canter. A most impressive feat!

Below are 16 photographs documenting Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Love of Horses!

Little Elizabeth, age four, astride her first Shetland pony. Image Source: The Royal Collection via Telegraph.co.uk.

Little Elizabeth, age four, astride her first Shetland pony. Image Source: The Royal Collection via Telegraph.co.uk.

Queen Elizabeth had her first riding lesson at age three and was given her first horse, a Shetland pony named Peggy, by her grandfather King George V on her fourth birthday. Isn’t she just darling?! Continue reading