The Ladies' Tea Guild

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tips for a Retro-Industrial Steampunk party.

Astronomical clock, Prague. 
Photo: Ian Britton,
When planning your steampunk festivities, you should let your imagination play while planning the menu, entertainment and decorations.  If you have a Victorian or retro-industrial space in your home, then you are more than halfway to your goal of creating a steampunk-appropriate venue for your party.  The addition of a few more accessories, like vintage international travel posters, railroad, airplane, steamship or hot-air balloon memorabilia, or interesting Victorian bric-a-brac will finish your space nicely.  If your home is more modern than steampunk, you can work with your living room, back or front yard, or even your garage, to create the right ambiance.  Outdoor spaces, especially, can often be made to look like the "wilderness" or a "crash landing site" fairly easily.  Another venue idea -- especially if you're planning a big bash -- is to rent an empty airplane hangar, warehouse, or other old industrial space.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Giving a Steampunk Tea.

"A Lady at Her Dressing Table in the Year 2000"
from postcard ca. 1900.  Photo: Denise Tortorici.

Jules Verne, the 19th century science fiction writer and author of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, was born in February of 1828.  He wrote of space and time travel in an era when that was impossible, and used his novels to describe strange lands and technology in a Victorian aesthetic, but with an eye to the possibilities of future scientific and mechanical inventions.  His works were considered strange in their day, but his novels have received an upsurge of attention in the past 30 years, with the development of the “Steampunk” fantasy literary genre.  Steampunk style is created when a person imagines what life would be like in the 1880s and 1890s if Jules Verne’s ideas and contraptions were successfully translated into real technology, using only the energy sources of the 19th century, like steam, fire, gravity, wind, sun, and water.  This is the “steam” part of “Steampunk;” the “punk” part is what happens when a person builds something that brings these Victorian science fiction ideas to life, especially by taking apart real objects of the era and re-fashioning them into the new/old creation.  There is an element of the "mad scientist" in Steampunk! 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Having dim sum for Asian New Year?

Dim sum in Hong Kong.  Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Many people in the South Bay are celebrating Asian New Year this week, entertaining friends and family with lots of food and tea.  While the local Filipino and Vietnamese communities are also celebrating, the Asian New Year is primarily associated with the Chinese and Taiwanese communities in the Santa Clara Valley.  The San Jose area has many independent Chinese and Taiwanese food shops and restaurants where locals go, and dim sum is especially popular for the New Year holiday, washed down with lots of tea.  Here are only a few of the favorite local places to buy dim sum to-go; only a few of them offer eat-in amenities:

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)