Fiesta de Pio Pico

We have been exploring some of the local California history recently and discovered some lovely, small events celebrating Southern California heritage. In May we visited the Workman-Temple Home in Whittier, CA for their afternoon Victorian Fair. While there, we were told about the Fiesta de Pio Pico, taking place on June 13th.

Flier for Fiesta de Pio Pico

The event is FREE and takes place in Whittier, CA. While we have not attended in the past, if it is anything like the Workman-Temple event, it will be a lovely step back in time. Pio Pico was the last governor of Mexican Alta California before California became a Republic in 1846. We joined the United States in 1850.

It looks like this event is set to show off some of California’s great history – adobe brick making, gold panning, dance and music. You can also tour the adobe home – called El Ranchito by Pio Pico, even though it sat on over 8000 acres of land. El Ranchito of course translates as “little ranch”.  I think Pio Pico must have had a sense of humor. :-)

We plan to stop by the event in our 1860s dress and hope you will come find us there!

Further reading:

Official website of the Friends of Pio Pico

California Parks & Recreation page about Pio Pico State Historic Park

Wikipedia page on Pio de Jesus Pico

Los Angeles Almanac Pio Pico bio


Posted in California History, Events, Victorian | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Good friends, great events

The recent Civil War era event at the Orange Empire Railway Museum was a lovely return to a cozy location. The Museum (started by 13 teenagers who wanted to save a streetcar) includes rail cars, engines, locomotives and streetcars from all over California, as well as one of the last remaining train depot stations from the early California railway (circa 1880s). The grassy location with paved pathways and mature trees was welcoming and quaint, while the sound of the trains running throughout the weekend gave us a sample of what it might have been like in a small town during the 1860s.

For the three days prior to our event, we had terrible rain storms with much needed rain falling in heavy downpours. While the military could set up and thrive in such a situation, small civilian camps and suttlers were not amused. Our set up in particular features paper goods. Uh oh. But! the storms cleared out by Friday midday and we were able to set up a modified camp on a nice corner of the park. The weekend dawned with sunshine, scattered clouds and a very short sprinkle on Saturday. It might have impacted attendance a little bit, but the spectators who did attend seemed to be fascinated by us as much as by the trains. We look forward to returning to the Museum in 2016!

Our friends Renee & Don D set up the DD Tavern and spent the weekend educating folks on the Victorian palate. Meals were cooked differently, served differently and eaten differently, and Renee and Don spend hours of their time and many dollars of their own money to bring this to light. Renee was gracious enough to host Melody through nearly the entire weekend, teaching her about cooking over a fire, the smokehouse they use, spices that were popular and common during the era, and general kitchen knowledge. While I always include Melody at home, this was a wonderful opportunity for her to learn from someone else and I am so grateful. Don also gave Melody the task of making popcorn over the fire, which she loved doing!

Thank you, Renee & Don for all that you teach and for your kind adoption of Melody! She was talking about it all week long. :-)


Renee and Melody in the kitchen


Her mentor


Cleaning is as important as cooking


What a great host!


Posted in ACWS, Civil War, Events, Pictures, Victorian | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Orange Empire Railway Museum – May 16/17

An old event we loved and sorely missed has been reestablished! The Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, CA has added a Civil War history event to their calendar, taking place May 16-17, 2015. One of the first times I wore a proper dress and attended a ladies tea was many years ago at OERM. This year, Mrs. Brewer’s Parlour and Marvel & Marshall Bookshop will be set up to demonstrate crafts, as well as have our period booklets available.

Booklets include original versions of popular fairy tales…did you know the Little Mermaid doesn’t get the boy at the end? Our modern day versions have been cleaned up to appeal to children, but these original versions appealed to children too! Is it possible children are able to accept some of the less pretty realities of being a Prince or Princess of history? Find out for yourself. Books also include works for gentlemen, such as baseball rules of 1860, and proper beard grooming techniques; works for women, such as recipes for preserves, a humorous tale of a young lady who just has “nothing to wear” to an upcoming party; and many works for children of all ages.

Click through to the OERM page for address and directions. Admission is reasonable, AND this will also be the weekend the steam trains will be running, so there will be plenty of really fun stuff for everyone. Click here for the Facebook event information if you are a living historian or enthusiast – you could attend in your period finery too!

Posted in ACWS, Civil War, Events | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

To N. M. of CSU Dominguez Hills

To N. M., a student at CSU Dominguez Hills,

You emailed us tonight, but your email address bounced upon reply. Please contact us again and be sure your email address is correct. We would be happy to help with your research.

Sincere regards,

Mrs Marvel & Past Periods Press

Posted in Events | Leave a comment

Finally, a definitive explanation for drawers, pantaloons, pantalettes, and knickers!

I asked the question in a historical costuming group about drawers, specifically what is the difference between drawers, pantaloons, bloomers, pantalettes, and knickers as relates to the mid 19th century. The amazing Liz Clark, an historical researcher, reproduction clothing expert and textiles genius referred me to a post on Buns and Baskets, aka How To Dress Like A Pioneer.

I won’t copy and paste the information because it’s someone else’s blog (please click through to read), but suffice it to say that drawers is the correct terminology for underwear in 1860. Pantaloons were men’s pants, pantalettes were underwear from the 1820s, bloomers were outerwear, and knickers were a lesser used name.

So there you have it! No excuses to call those long pants-like things under your period dresses anything but what they are, which is drawers.

See you in a couple weeks at Prado Park!

Posted in Events | Leave a comment

Prado Park – 12th Annual Civil War Event

We are excitedly readying ourselves for the 12th Annual Civil War Reenactment at Prado Regional Park, sponsored by the SCCWA. This wonderful event kicks off the season for our group every year and really is a lot of fun! This is a Boy Scout and Girl Scout event, so please be sure to click through to SCCWA for Scout information, registration forms and more.

This year, for Girl Scouts who come and visit us in Mrs. Brewer’s Parlour, we will have a special swap for girls to create. It is based on a lost 19th century sentimental craft called a Victorian Charm String. The history tells us that during the 1860s, girls began trading and collecting unique buttons and stringing them together. Each button should be different, and carry some special meaning. In some traditions, a girl would collect 999 buttons, and when she added the 1000th one, she would meet her Prince Charming. In other traditions, they were a bit of a competition between girls, trying to out-do one another in finding the most brilliant, most unique and most beautiful buttons.

These unique and wonderful strings of buttons are rare these days, but museums and private collections reveal amazing collections of wonderful buttons spanning 100 years in some cases. Some have buttons representing memories, much like a charm bracelet, others carry the buttons from wedding dresses, ball gowns, and other important milestones. For the Girl Scout swap, we will be offering a mini charm string for girls to wear, trade, and maybe even be inspired. You could easily adapt this for modern girls who want to collect fun buttons and trade them with their friends. We hope we will see you there!

Further reading on charm strings

Victorian Charm Strings reprinted from Bead and Button, 1995, via

Charm Strings by Jay Bailey, via the Oklahoma Historical Society

Victorian Charm Strings via Wellington County Museum, Ontairo Canada – with great photos and descriptions

Further information on Prado Park 12th Annual Civil War Event

Southern California Civil War Association website

Posted in Civil War, Events, Other, Projects, SCCWA | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Battle of the Old Woman’s Gun


We will be at this event on October 11/12. Come out to this California history event and learn about our early history, before statehood and before the Civil War.

Posted in Events | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Come play with us!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Just a quick update to let you know we will be setting up at the Vista, CA event this weekend – March 8/9. The event takes place at the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum, 2040 N. Santa Fe Ave, Vista, CA. Call for directions 760/941-1791, or go to Gold Coast Festivals for more information! That link will take you directly to the Vista page. We are very excited to visit our friends, immerse ourselves in history, and teach doll making and home making to all visitors who stop by. Hopefully we will see you, too!

Posted in Civil War, Events, Pictures, Victorian | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment