Archive for the News Category

November Update

Posted 7 November 2012 by
Tagged As: | Categories: Misc. Business, News | 6 Comments

We don’t usually post about any women other than the ones that we spotlight, but make an exception every once and again. Now seems like a very good time to do that.

After we had posted our Lady Jane Grey episode we were on track to bring you the final episode of Season Three. It’s a doozie, epically complicated with a lot of players covering a very long span of time. It’s a topic you asked for, we researched and were ready to record it.

But we had also promised that we wouldn’t take a break between Season Three and Season Four- and we needed to firm up our schedule for Season Four.

So we decided to meet and do just that: select a list of ten women and get a collection of options for you to vote for in the Guaranteed Content Poll. The plan was to meet one Friday, then record three days later on a Monday. Because of where we live, our day jobs and our preference to record in the same room- we usually only have one day a week where our schedules can work together. Taking that Monday was a choice we made to put everything else aside, and get this podcast recorded.

We had this foolproof, sure-fire plan...

On that Friday, the plan was working. We firmed up the upcoming season, had a lovely- and very rare- lunch together. We had a few minutes before we had to head home to pick up our kids, so we went to locate a nearby Geocache. Because we could. And it was fun. And we don’t ever have time to do goofy stuff like that together.

Then on the way home one of us came down with a pretty nasty stomach virus that wiped out the whole next week for recording.

The following week a Day Job emergency did the same.

Day job commitments, kid health issues, and our  schedules kept stealing our recording days. Finally, several weeks after our Friday meeting, we sat down and recorded what will be a two-part podcast.

Our microphone was getting lonely

Our microphone was getting lonely

You may not realize what we do after we have recorded an episode. Beckett gets to editing. She takes out the parts where a truck may have driven past the House of Wood, or one of us got up to get a fresh cup of coffee, or got off on a tangent (what? It’s a conversation-sometimes that happens). Basically she takes out anything that has no relevance to the topic at hand. She adds and selects the music, and gets our very smooth voiced History Dude to record something for the middle. This takes quite a few days- and an occasional night- worth of any free time she has.

While she is doing that, Susan writes the shownotes. This doesn’t take as long as Beckett’s editing, but we have a pretty sizable portion of our audience that don’t listen to the podcast, but use the shownotes to tell them the story of the women that we spotlight. (Waves to those people) And we have to make sure that all of our recommended reading and links to places we talk about are here for you to click.

At this point we started to wonder if our episode was cursed. Things continued to happen- a death in the family that required out of town travel, a technical issue that had us contemplating re-recording… one thing after another. In the span of time that we kept crashing into obstacles, we typically could have two full episodes out. It was very frustrating.

In the middle of all of that, we were informed that YOU had nominated us for a Podcast Award! Thank you so much for that! But we hesitated to link you to the voting, before we could get the next episode up to you. It felt wrong to us.

So we were silent.

And you noticed! You sent us notes asking if we were ok and when you could expect the next podcast episode… it was really nice and made us reevaluate our communication plans.

Today, we share the tale. Quite frankly we are nervous to tell you when the next episodes will be posted. It’s a two-parter that a curse really does tie into quite well. We HOPE to have that up by the end of this week.

Hope.

Cross everything.

Send good vibes, and energy and prayers and whatever you have to offer. Because after we post those, we need to record the beginning of Season Four…and we both are really excited to do that.

Do we have your vote?

If you don’t hate us for keeping you in the dark, here is a link to The Podcast Awards. We are nominated in the Education category and you can vote once a day until November 15th.

And because it’s fun, here is a link to learn more about geocashing.

Thank you for your patience and understanding!

Beckett and Susan

Special Feature: Susan’s Dinner Adventure with Julia Child

Posted 15 August 2012 by
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I’ll confess: That title is a little misleading. Julia was only with me in spirit one hot day in July. I was mid-researching her life  for the podcast and was inspired to crack open her first book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I love the title- it sounds so romantic, so dreamy. It’s also kind of  ironic since Julia’s approach to cooking was that of a scientist. Her methodology and her recipes- test and re-test,  measurements precise and the directions exact.

(X Eggs+ Y Cream)+(Z Temperature+ A minutes)= souffle. Every time. Science.

But Mastering the Science of French Cooking probably wouldn’t have appealed to the servantless American housewife  of 1961, and it sure would not have appealed to me, a servantless American housewife of 2012. But Julia Child was part of my upbringing, her books part of my home cooking education. Reading about her life- who she was beyond the recipes and the TV personality- inspired me.

Courtesy Lisa Graves Designs

Let’s get some things straight:

I’m not a foodie. I am a decent home cook, but I am a thirty minute cook. If dinner doesn’t come together in thirty minutes, I usually don’t make it.

If it takes a lot of pans, I usually don’t make it.

If it’s expensive, I really don’t make it.

But Julia helped create Mastering the Art of French Cooking for the average American housewife. Trust me when I say- they don’t get more average than me.

Enter: French Chef Dinner night.

Coq au vin, parsley potatoes, fresh steamed green beans and pear and  almond custard tart for dessert.

The plan was to do it right- not take any shortcuts. From shopping to serving all in one day-, each step savored and enjoyed with a Frenchified American accent.  I was going to have a day of lovingly preparing food for my family. In my head they oooh’d and ahhh’d at the results, they lavished me with adoration…

Like most overly romanticized plans, it didn’t actually work out the way I had imagined. I did shop, prepare and serve my family a dinner straight from Mastering The Art of French Cooking. I also spent the day taxi-ing my three children to camps and activities in 104 degree heat. I don’t have enough romantic in me to make that day dreamy. It was work.

And I took shortcuts. I like coq au vin with dark meat, but two of the people at the table of  six that I serve dinner to each night will only eat white meat. Precut and packaged meat won me over.

The pearl onions that I wanted to use would have cost me close to 10 dollars for the quantity that I needed. I couldn’t shut up my inner cheapie long enough to toss them in my shopping cart.

The grocery store was out of baguettes which Julia would have purchased. I did toy with the idea of making my own bread (I’ve done it before) but frozen dough won me over as a nice compromise.

And I grabbed a package of premade pie dough on the off chance that I didn’t have time to make the sugar pastry crust that Julia recommends for the tart.

Now that it’s all spelled out- I took a lot of shortcuts.

I did get to banter some French phrases around at the check out lane. I told the cashier, “Bonjour” and “Fantastique” when she greeted me and asked how I found everything. When the total came to four times that of a normal dinner for my family, I uttered the one French cuss that I know.

(Note to self: Don’t banter French phrases around in small town grocery stores unless a) you are in France or Canada or b)you want to hear crickets and see dental work.)

At home I set to work. First up: bacon. (Honestly, a day that begins with frying bacon can’t go bad, can it?)

Shopping finished, I began to cook.

I cut fresh herbs from the pots on my porch, sliced onions, cleaned button mushrooms and played scientist with them in pans of butter.

My herb garden, some of it made it into the dinner

While the fifty minutes that the onions were supposed to braise in chicken broth astonished me, the entire preparation of the entree was fun. It was. Wine! Bacon! Beautifully browned chicken! What’s not to love?

Yes, that is a Bota-box. Don't judge.

It was the rest of the meal that reminded me why I am a 30-minute cook.

By the time that the bread had finished cooking, the outside temperature was nearing 104 degrees, and the kitchen temperature wasn’t too far behind. Time was also getting away from me, and the thought of the mix, chill, roll, chill then bake of the sugar pastry crust added more time and more heat. The filling took a lot of both and really, my family never would know what they were missing.

Peeling, coring and slicing the pears that were then poached for far longer than Julia had said they would need to be.

While the pears poached, I beat the custard as it cooked. You thought I would beat by hand? hahahahahno.

Almond custard in crust

Finished.

Upturned noses when I mentioned,”boiled parsley potatoes” altered the dish to mashed red potatoes. Not a big deal, Julia would have rolled with it, right?

Eight hours, and nearly a pound of butter, after I began I was serving dinner.

A food blogger I am not. Dinner, is served

I would love to be able to carry on about the reaction of dinner. That my family enjoyed it all the more because of the time and energy that I spent cooking it…but the truth is far from that. They liked it. They devoured the potatoes and one scraped the sauce off the chicken. My darling husband actually had the nerve to say, “Did you cook this in the crock pot?”

Oh, sigh, yes, he did.

But Julia taught me to enjoy the process, serve the results and never apologize. Two out of three ain’t bad.
I really liked the meal, the chicken was wonderful and the dessert was really fantastic. Would I do it again? Probably not. It was a lot of work and only some of it was enjoyable. But I’m glad that I took a day to remember Julia and cook a dinner in celebration of her memory.

Happy birthday, Julia!

If you haven’t listened to the podcast on Julia, click on over here, or listen via iTunes or on Stitcher Radio.

Shownotes Episode 23: Margaret “Molly” Brown

Posted 7 April 2012 by
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Imagine that you followed your heart to live an honest life doing what you felt was right: working hard, marrying for love, aiding others, traveling and always, always learning. You were a wife, a mother, a socialite, an activist, a suffragist, and a citizen of the world. You were adored by many, inspired more and lived life in the fullest, kindest way that you could imagine.  And, when you died, your impressive life story was altered to one that was almost beyond recognition. Often for the worse!

That’s what happened to Margaret Tobin Brown. You might know her as Molly Brown- the Unsinkable Molly Brown. A woman whose real life story was so much more impressive than the one that was assigned to her after her death.

That’s a fan, not a pick ax! Margaret Brown: socialite, activists. mother, strong and educated woman. Not an uneducated gold digger.

Margaret Tobin was born a middle child of John and Johanna Tobin  in Hannibal, MO on July 18, 1867.  Her parents had ridden a wave of  Irish Catholic immigration during a Potato Famine and landed in this western  railroad stop of a town . John worked as a laborer for a variety of businesses while his children attended school and played in the same woods as another Hannibal resident had years before: Samuel Clemens.

The reconstructed Tobin family home in Hannibal, MO

The Tobin children had no more, and no less, than most of their neighbors. It was a frugal childhood, but not the miserable, motherless one of the fables of her life.

And another fable? She wasn’t called Molly, she was called Maggie or Margaret. Molly was just another fabrication to fuel the poor-Irish-upbringing image the media had created for her.

Oh! We could carry on about all the inaccuracies in the story of her life…oh, wait, we do. More details are in the podcast about how she traveled as a teenager to Leadville, CO looking to improve her life.  How she worked hard and loyally first at a cigar factory in Hannibal,  then in a department store in Leadville. How she wanted a better life for herself and her family and how she married for love, not for money.

Margaret and James (J.J.) Brown set up housekeeping in Leadville. They took on a little domestic help and hired tutors to continue their own education. Margaret’s family from Hannibal moved up, and they  all became an integral part of a very tight community. Margaret was very active in civic activities. This wasn’t some dainty, wihte glove wearing woman (although she probably did wear them) she wasn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves to help those less  fortunate than her.  She was well liked, and liked many- the Browns were pillars of Leadville society. Soon they added two children to their family, Lawrence and Helen.

The James Brown family in Leadville, CO

Not overnight, and not by sheer luck,  J.J. hit it rich. Gold.  (This is the only gold digging in Margaret’s story!)
Leadville had been a silver mining town, but politics got in the way and the price of silver had plummeted. J.J’s mine, the Little Johnny Mine, was a boon to the town AND the Browns. They hadn’t been living in squalor, the family was very much middle class. But suddenly, they found themselves in a very different class. They were moving to the big city of Denver.

What was life like for the Browns in Denver? They fit very well into society. Not a tiny elitist portion, but the portion where most of the people of means were hanging. They traveled the world, entertained at home and abroad and educated their children in a variety of very fine schools both in the States and Europe. And Margaret? She was very much a civic minded lady and her former Leadville soup kitchen activites turned grander and more income generating.  She was charming, knew the right people and knew how to separate the rich from their money for a good cause- she knew how to get stuff done.

Doesn’t really sound like  the activities of a woman who didn’t fit into society, does it?  Listen to the podcast for the details of this time in her life, but at some point, Margaret and J.J. separated. They would never divorce, but live together they could not. J.J. was a workaholic, and Margaret, quite busy with her own endeavors as well as the travel (which she adored)-  she had outgrown Denver and housewife duties. We name drop big time when we discuss the circles she traveled in but at this point Margaret was dividing her time between Newport, Europe and Denver living large and in charge where ever she went.

Yadda Yadda…she ends up on the Titanic.

Margaret’s actions on that fateful voyage were the stuff movies are made out of. She did help people in her lifeboat, she did attempt to get the lifeboat to return to see if there were survivors, she did row (as did other woman in the lifeboat),she did share her clothing, she was level headed…stripping down to almost nothing, cracking jokes and singing bar songs? Prolly not. But Margaret had spent her life helping people, she was smart and knew how to take command of a situation- those skills all would come into play during the hours in Lifeboat #6.

Once rescued by the Carpathia hours after the Titanic sank, Margaret and her caring ways really sprang into action! No resting in First Class for this woman, she was tending to the needs of all the recued passengers and shaking down the one’s that were traveling on the Carpathia. By the time they docked in New York, she had plans in place to keep track of -and get promised funds to- survivors; she had thousands pledged and plans to get more. With a heart bigger than her hat, she made sure that blame was placed properly, and heroism rewarded.

After Titanic, presenting gifts of thanks to the Captain of The Carpathia

In the years following the Titanic portion of her life, Margaret continued to travel, was deep in Newport society, attempted to run for  a state Senate position, continued to be an advocate for those who she felt needed one, and never stopped learning.  She died at the age of 65 in 1932 while in New York studying acting.

Margaret Brown was a multidimensional, big hearted, smart woman with charm and personality. The myths that surround her life, while entertaining, are not nearly as fascinating as the real life of this remarkable woman.

Time Travel With The History Chicks

Books! The first one we loved a lot, had so many,”Wow! She was a rockstar! Who knew!?” moments for us:

Molly Brown: Unraveling the Myth by Kristen Iversen

The second is a kids’ book, but we thought it did a fun job of telling her philanthropic story (and the photos were terrific):

Molly Brown: Sharing Her Good Fortune by Charnan Simon

We love our museums! If you are in Denver, check out the Molly Brown Museum which is in the former Brown home. And a related blog with some really wonderful posts, Between the Lions.

Near Hannibal?  The Molly Brown Birthplace and Museum will show you where she began her adventure and developed the strong character that would propel her through life.

There is a brand new… museum? Theme establishment?  Convention center? Birthplace of The Titanic?Not quite sure what it is exactly, but it’s pretty cool looking and sits where the Titanic was built in Belfast, Ireland. Titanic Belfast

Curious about Leadville? We were and found lots of answers here!

What about mining Ghost Towns of Colorado? This site is very fun to poke around on, Coloradopast.com, they have pictures of how the Little Johnny Mine looks today, as well as other signs of Colorado’s past. Links to some other Ghost Towns in the US, and lots of beautiful regional photography as well.

Ok, we carry on about how painful this was for us to watch, but you don’t have to believe us! You can experience the same pain (now that you know the real story of her life):

The Unwatchable Molly Brown

As always, music comes courtesy of Music Alley. Visit them at Music.mevio.com

Season 3 Introduction

Posted 12 February 2012 by
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Minicast – Annie Chambers

Posted 4 January 2012 by
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Episode 17 Clue:

Posted 14 November 2011 by
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News from The History Chicks

Posted 13 October 2011 by
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We  recently received news that we had been nominated for a 2011 People’s Choice Podcast Award in the Education category! How did we react to this news?

First- we were shocked.

And then we looked at the amazing podcasts that share the Education category, and we were stunned.

Then we were delighted.

Our delight stems from the fact that you, our listeners, voted to put us up for this award. THANK YOU!!!

Now we would like to ask for your vote.

We do not think of "chicks" as derogatory. We think we rock our chick-ness!

Please click this link http://podcastawards.com/ to do just that.  While you are there, vote for your other favorite podcasts just like we will be  doing every day until October 27th when voting ends! The Bowery Boys are facing some Disney competition in the Travel category; and Filmsack is up for best Movie/Film podcast..it’s all very exciting and we are thrilled to be a part of it.

Thank you, again, for listening, offering topic suggestions, dropping us notes of encouragement, and for helping us become nominated for this award.

Now what are we? Busy… researching and preparing for the next time we get to sit down together and chat about some pretty extraordinary women!

Many hearts,

Beckett and Susan

Episode 14 – Clara Barton

Posted 22 September 2011 by
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Episode 12 – Queen Victoria, Part 2

Posted 1 September 2011 by
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Episode 11 – Queen Victoria, Part 1

Posted 21 August 2011 by
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