Sartorial Saturday–Light and Breezy for Spring

I didn’t think Miss Candyfloss could have a collection that I loved more than the Autumn/Winter 22-23 “Smile with Lucy” offering. How could they possibly top a range dedicated to one of my favorite mid-century actresses? And then I saw the title of the new Spring/Summer 23 collection…”Lilibeth.” I immediately knew that my guess when I heard they were doing a photoshoot in Malta was correct…the collection is a tribute to Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. And it is the most perfect assemblage of pieces I could have imagined.

I had to wait almost a month for an item on my wishlist to be released, but I was lucky when it finally was, because it was my favorite item from the entire collection…the Valancia-Blush polka dot swing dress:

The dress is absolutely perfect for spring and summer…it’s made of a very light, flowy fabric that is breezy and lovely for the warmer months. I love the color (is it pink? is it purple? does it even matter?) and the polka dots. I especially love that it has my favorite square neckline with asymmetrical buttons across the bodice. And it also has a charming peplum that makes it look like a jacket and skirt set even though it’s all one piece!

I accessorized with a black boater hat and gloves, a few Splendette duchess bangles, and an Erstwilder brooch that is a perfect match, and adds just the right amount of sparkle!

It’s such a lovely, elegant look…the perfect tribute to The Queen:

This may be my favorite piece, but the whole collection is outstanding, and I hope to add a few more dresses to my wardrobe this spring!

A “Sad Highlight”

The last 12 days for me have been, as I heard someone on BBC World News (a station that has been playing constantly in the background of almost everything I’ve been doing throughout) describe, a “sad highlight.”

I obviously did not look forward to Her Majesty’s passing, even though realistically I knew it was coming, and sooner rather than later. And yet, once events were set into motion, I found myself anticipating each procession, each service, each walkabout, each moment of pageantry and history that is associated with a royal funeral.

A royal funeral is, by necessity, extremely well planned out and organized. The Queen was involved in making the arrangements for “Operation London Bridge” herself. From the sad moment when the flag was lowered over…Windsor? Buckingham Palace? The day was such a blur, I don’t remember from where the camera was broadcasting…and Huw Edwards read the terrible announcement, the event was well-scripted.

I watched bits of the solemn procession from Balmoral to Edinburgh, where farmers honored The Queen with their tractors, riders mounted horses, and people threw flowers along the route. The moment the cars passed over the Queensferry Crossing, opened by Her Majesty just over five years previously, was unforgettable. So was the deep, respectful curtsey the Princess Royal offered the coffin as it passed into the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The service at St. Giles Cathedral was beautiful, and the Vigil of the Princes, led by a kilted King and including a woman, Princess Anne, for the first time, was deeply moving, as they kept guard over their mother.

The tributes that poured in from all over the world were lovely. The crowned heads of Europe recognized Queen Elizabeth II as a beloved family member, a mentor, and an inspiration. Messages came from around the Commonwealth that The Queen was so instrumental in building. Possibly the most touching moment for me was watching Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pay tribute to “one of his favorite people,” and it hit me that he knew her not just as Prime Minister himself, but possibly dating back to when his farther was also Prime Minister of Canada.

His Majesty the King carried on through it all, visiting the four home countries with graciousness and warmth. There were further services in Northern Ireland and Wales that each had their own unique fingerprint. There were proclamations and speeches. There were walkabouts and memorial viewings by assorted members of the Royal Family, who took the time in spite of their deeply personal grief to offer kind words to the gathered crowds.

The final flight of Her Majesty to London was the most-tracked plane flight in history. The state hearse, which Her Majesty helped design, making its way through the gloomy, darkened streets of London, will live in my memory, the Royal Standard draped over the coffin illuminated against the dark of the hearse and the dark of the evening.

The procession of the coffin, topped with the Imperial State Crown, accompanied by military members, the Queen’s family, and musicians playing funeral marches punctuated by drumbeats and horse hooves, was stately. The service at Westminster Hall was brief, but deeply moving. And the lying-in-state was magnificent to behold…the respectful crowds, the Vigil of the Princes, and then for the first time, the Vigil of the Grandchildren, the silence punctuated only by the tapping that indicated the changing of the guard, who faithfully and constantly stood watch over Her Majesty.

The British people are known for their ability to queue, and they did themselves proud. The line for the lying-in-state was five miles long at one point; the wait upwards of a full day long. There was even a queue to enter the queue, and a dedicated weather forecast for queuing…possibly the most British moment ever. Famous former football player David Beckman waited 12 hours in a suit, even though he could have used his celebrity to skip the line. The crowds were respectful. Their determination to pay their respects, and the way they uncomplainingly “kept calm and carried on” while they waited patiently through cold temperatures and rain was laudable.

And then the day of the funeral. More processions, with countless members of the military, including sailors who pulled the gun carriage bearing the coffin. Bagpipe bands. The tolling of the church bells, the sounds of drumbeats and hoofbeats and more funeral marches. The lovely flowers from the King, including myrtle from a plant grown from a cutting from Her Majesty’s wedding bouquet. Beautiful music and hymns. The presence of so many crowned heads, who were also the Queen’s family. Meaningful Bible readings and prayers. A Gospel-filled sermon preached by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Last Post. The bagpiper’s lament. The Princess Royal saluting her brother the King before accompanying her mother one last time to Windsor…she stands tall among men. The Queen’s pony and corgis on the route to St. George’s Chapel. The removal of the Instruments of State to the high altar and the Lord Chamberlain breaking his staff of office. The Committal and final reading of the Styles and Titles of Queen Elizabeth II. It was a highly emotional day reminiscent of something from a bygone era; old traditions, ancient words, and pomp and ceremony associated only with royal weddings, funerals, and coronations. There was a beautiful timelessness to it all.

It was something I never wanted to see, but it is also something I never, ever want to forget.

Elizabeth the Steadfast

It is a day we knew was inevitable, and yet one we somehow thought, against all odds, would never come.

Queen Elizabeth II has passed away.

Inexplicably, with each milestone she surpassed, each new record of age and reign she set, despite her advancing years and emerging mobility problems, it seemed more and more like she would be queen forever.

She has been on the throne for my entire lifetime; for my mother’s entire lifetime. Sometimes described as the the “most photographed woman in the world,” she was there for her country, her commonwealth, and even the whole world, through dark times and celebrations. The woman who dedicated her “whole life whether it be long or short” to the service of her people was, in the words she used to describe her own husband, the “strength and stay” of so many, from her family and friends to her subjects to her admirers from afar.

She was never meant to sit on the throne. Born the eldest daughter of the younger son of a king, she never should have been queen. But, as we know, her uncle abdicated his throne after less than a year, forcing her father to take his place. Even then, she was never known as “heiress apparent,” due to the male-preference primogeniture that was law at that time in the United Kingdom; instead, she was “heiress presumptive” until the day she took the throne herself.

It is hard to imagine a world without her. She was always there, with her bright smile and bright wardrobe, setting people at ease, leading with grace and dignity. She brought a continuity to her government and the world around her that is almost unheard of…in her time, she had 15 prime ministers, dating back to Winston Churchill himself! She saw other world leaders come and go, but she was always a constant. It is hard to remember that the words to “God Save the Queen” have another variation; hard to comprehend the idea of a king on the throne of the United Kingdom.

She was a most remarkable woman in every way. The second Elizabethan Age has come to an end. She now rests with the Lord she served so faithfully for so long.

Requiescat in pace.

The Queen is dead. Long live the King.

A Look Back at the Platinum Jubilee

We’ve been celebrating Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee for about four months now (and we’ve yet to do the one last thing on our list…plant a tree for the Jubilee!)…let’s take a look back at the fun we’ve had, starting with a special tea party on the date of her accession to the throne in February:

I found a fun craft that we did then, too:

The big events were just this past weekend. We went to a street party at The London Tea Room in St. Louis:

And I made a special, historic dinner to celebrate the historic event…coronation chicken:

For dessert, I made the lemon Swiss roll and amaretti trifle that was the winning entry in the Platinum Pudding Competition:

In some ways, although this event was more historic than 2012’s Diamond Jubilee, it felt more low-key. This was, of course, in part due to Her Majesty’s mobility issues causing her to miss many of the events…they just weren’t the same without her. And the absence of the Duke of Edinburgh was also keenly felt. But it was still a special celebration, with many touching and memorable moments (my favorites were the Paddington sketch, Prince Charles’ touching speech, the well-planned service at St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Cambridge children’s antics at the events, Mike Tindall wearing wife Zara’s hats, and Her Majesty’s balcony appearance following the pageant), and something I will always remember!

Tasty Tuesday–Platinum Pudding

I was intrigued when I head about the Platinum Pudding Competition in honor of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. And when I learned that the recipe for the lemon Swiss roll and amaretti trifle, created by a copywriter named Jemma from Southport, was available for anybody to try to replicate, I knew I was going to have to give it a try!

This was probably the most labor-intensive dessert I’ve ever made. First I baked a Swiss roll, which was filled with homemade lemon curd. That was sliced and placed on the bottom of a trifle bowl, and covered with homemade St. Clement’s jelly (the scariest part of the whole process for me!). That was topped with a homemade custard, followed by the one part of the recipe I took a shortcut on. The custard was supposed to have a layer of amaretti biscuits on top, but I had to make a nut-free version, so I used store-bought gingersnaps instead. A chunky mandarin coulis was next (I don’t think I made that quite right, but it still tasted good!), followed by whipped cream, more crushed gingersnaps, and a jewelled white chocolate bark, which I also made.

It was so much fun to be able to participate in the Platinum Jubilee this way, and the recipe was as delicious as it was beautiful!

A Street Party for the Platinum Jubilee

How lucky am I that there was a place in St. Louis celebrating the Platinum Jubilee this weekend?!?

The party started with “God Save the Queen” (of course), and I was more than happy to sing along! After that, a piper played “Diu Regnare,” which was written by Stuart Liddell for the occasion of the Platinum Jubilee.

In addition to enjoying a cup of “Jubilee Tea” (an Earl Grey with extra citrus created by the London Tea Merchant for the Diamond Jubilee in 2012), we also sampled a scone with clotted cream and strawberry preserves:

We had the opportunity to watch some Scottish dancers:

There was a great festive atmosphere!

I spent a long time choosing just the right outfit (and hat!) for the event:

I’m so glad we had an opportunity to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee right here in St. Louis!

Vivat Regina Elizabetha!

Today is an historic occasion…the 70th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Accession. And in honor of this monumental event, we of course had a tea party, which has been in the back of mind for ten years, ever since Turkey asked me during the Diamond Jubilee what the next one would be called and if we would celebrate it!

I made a lot of our old favorites, including an orange poppyseed cake and cucumber sandwiches. I also tried a few new things, including a ham and spinach quiche and white chocolate mousse. The tea of choice was as classic as The Queen herself…Earl Grey.

This rivaled the Christmas “pick out dinner” in its deliciousness!

Vivat Regina Elizabetha…Long Live Queen Elizabeth!!!

A Platinum Tea

For several years, I have been planning this Very Special Tea Party…one to celebrate the Platinum Wedding Anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. We had the tea party on November 10th, because even I’m not crazy enough to try to pull off an event like this Thanksgiving Week, but I wanted to wait until today, their actual anniversary, to share it. I think this may be the prettiest tea party we have ever had!

I wanted to go with a platinum (silver) and white theme for the table. Our china fit the bill perfectly, and I was able to find an inexpensive silver tablecloth (which I’ve wanted for a long time, anyway), to use as a runner on top of our white tablecloth. I added seven candles, (including a pretty grey-colored Yankee Candle) one for each decade of their marriage, as our centerpiece. The addition of my wedding tiara and a double strand of “pearls” completed the look.

The tea of choice was about as classic as it gets: Earl Grey.

We had four kinds of finger sandwiches: roast beef with horseradish and arugula on white bread, coronation chicken on wheat, cucumber and cream cheese on cocktail rye, and heart-shaped lobster salad on wheat:

I added in a few other savory choices: deviled eggs and Red Leicester cheese.

And the sweets. Grape Jell-O, lemon cake slices, chocolate chip scones (in the shape of a double heart!), and the pièce de résistance, a biscuit cake made with McVitie’s Digestives.

Everything was so beautiful!

It was also a delicious meal!

I don’t know if this was our “best” tea party ever (although I do think it was the loveliest), but it may have been the one that was the most meaningful to me. I am so thankful for the beautiful example of Christian marriage and faithfulness The Queen and Prince Philip have modeled and made look so effortless through all of the changes of the last 70 years.

I will leave you with two quotes: One from Prince Philip in a letter he wrote shortly after the wedding, and the second from The Queen on the occasion of their Golden Wedding Anniversary:

“Lilibet is the only ‘thing’ in the world which is absolutely real to me and my ambition is to weld the two of us into a new combined existence that will not only be able to withstand the shocks directed at us but will also have a positive existence for the good.” Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh

“He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know.” Queen Elizabeth II

What We’re Watching–Documentaries and Other Educational Films

I have shared a lot of different reading lists over the years, so I thought it was about time I shared a different kind of list…this time of the documentaries and educational and fine arts films we’ve watched, either to coordinate with our school work, or to learn something entirely new! (I didn’t include Doctor Who, even though it was originally created as an educational program to teach history, but it is also something we regularly watch!)


The British Monarchy

Other British Documentaries

The Space Program



Miscellaneous (Including travel, fine arts, and American history.)

Animated Shows

Over the years, I have found it really helpful to have some trusted films covering various topics and suitable for different grade levels that we can watch to supplement what we’re learning in school, or to give me a break from teaching school on the rare occasion that I’m sick. A lot of the time, we even end up watching something from this list just for the fun of it in the evening or during the weekend! What educational films do you like to watch?