party like it’s 1899

victorian-vinaigretteA bit too many pastries this season? Sprung another whalebone in that corset, did you? Not to fear. The empress has a solution. Drinking vinegars! You hipsters might think you invented with your kombucha and so forth, but the truth is, the Victorians were well ahead of you.

Aromatic vinegars were all the rage amongst the fainting couch set. We knocked back pints of the stuff for everything from croup to dropsy. From douche to diarrhea.

The most common use around the Hof was for personal hygiene, but as with everything “society,” a whole jewelry industry cropped up around the delicate nature of the need to carry de-stinking potions around on one’s person. In the 19th-century, vinaigrettes were all the rage! You held these attractive silver cases, or hung them from a chain, and inside was placed a sponge soaked in aromatics. Vinegar, herbs and perfumes.

Let’s say you passed a gutter full of human waste on one of your lady walks. No need to faint! Just hold the vinaigrette to your nose and breathe deeply. Et voilà: carry on as usual rather than needing to be scooped up on a stretcher and taken to hospital for reviving.

As you tiptoe out to the ball this evening, perhaps you, too, might want to soak some aromatic vinegar up into a sponge and carry it in a metal purse. You never know what sort of conundrum or escapade awaits you on the night famous for debauch.

Happy New Year!

Heilige Nacht

Hello dears. Once again, we celebrate the day of my birth- December 24th, 1837. I am quite aware of that I share my birthday with someone a little more, um, spectacular than myself. Contrary to legend, I am NOT a hopeless narcissist, and to prove it, I offer this lovely youtube compilation. You’re welcome. I mean, willkommen. I mean, bitte.


have a moment?

From DiversionBooks, January, 2014

From DiversionBooks, January, 2014

Hello, dears.

It is often customary, when visiting a home where a new baby dwells, to bring a gift for the sibling who is no longer “new.” As an older sibling many times over, I can attest to jealousies and tantrums of displaced toddlers. That is why, I’d like to give away Suzy’s debut, THE MOMENT BEFORE, before the new little empress steals the show entirely.

Henceforth, I’ve embarked upon one of those “Rafflecopter” games in service to domestic harmony and goodwill. Spread the word, would you? I’d be ever so grateful. And so would that little debut who’s about to be pushed into the shadow. (USA only – sorry in advance to my International friends! 🙂

The Giveaway begins Monday, August 11th and runs for a week!

Click here to access the Rafflecopter giveaway

the empress reveals. soon.

Thanks to prudish Queen Victoria, many a complexion at court was saved from early aging – parasols, cover-ups, fans, all contributing to the preservation of the face.


Kees van Dongen’s Fauve

Had it not been for the ushering in of modesty in the Victorian era, we’d all have gone around looking like French tarts, our lips painted green as though sipping on absinthe all afternoon – or as red as cherry jam, which is even worse. Perhaps the smearing of rouge powder ground deep into our pores bringing to mind the antics of a circus clown.

The Bohemian lifestyle and all of its freedom and lack of cover-up might seem fun – until one tallies the cost: wrinkles, leather cheeks, freckles the size of a liverpaste sandwich.

As a girl, I so admired the “fauves” of Montmartre, their gay apparel, their strut. But as the years accrued, with childbirth and the constant demands of Vienna, I began to favor the high necks, rigorous corsets, and ankle boots of a more modest turnout. The mysteries that lie beneath. The tease of the imagination.

Friends, now that I’m long-buried, I’ve discovered that there is a middle-ground. A time and a place to bare all. And so it is with great pleasure, I announce the upcoming cover reveal for THE EMPRESS CHRONICLES. One week from today, the publishers will present the book cover to the masses, and there will be posts, and interviews and giveaways – fanfare that rivals that of a parade through nineteenth-century Montmartre!

Get a front row seat, you don’t want to miss it.

Müller & Messi, two kinds of kings!!

kingmullerThere is nothing quite as exciting as a rousing football match, don’t you agree? Even though as a youngster I was never a happy sideliner (put me in, gaffer!), now I’m a fan of the spectacle.

All of Munich is preparing for tomorrow’s match.  In every square the game will be projected onto a bed sheet or screen.

In Brazil I can almost see Thomas Müller sipping his Frühstück riesling. Devouring his  sausage. And I am certain that Joachim Loew is right now putting extra polish on that hair of his (you know how important hair is to yours truly), so it behaves when he feels the urge to leap in the air.

This past month, there has been plenty to set The Empress’s heart ablaze. Nothing pleases me more than gazing upon well-conditioned young men. I am already dreading the lack of entertainment come Monday morning.

MessiKingThough I’m solidly for my homeland, I must admit to a wee Empress crush on Argentina’s number 10. Sure, sure the fellow is short. Hardly the specimen of those individuals branded Germany’s “golden crop” : conventionally handsome Mats Hummels whose deep brown eyes and strong chin rival any movie star in Hollywood, or that all-around tough competitor Schweinsteiger who wins more balls than God. But it must be acknowledged, even by a fan of the Bayern golden crop, that Lionel Messi is pure heart on the pitch.

All that said, whichever way the ball bounces tomorrow, at the end of the day we’ll have a new Man of the Match football king. Will he be a tall, precise German, or a crafty little acrobat?

Either way, it’ll be a good show.

love your corsets

beautiful corsetFebruary is a good time to review underwear, don’t you agree? Go on now, I’ll wait while you unpack your chests of drawers and itemize your dainties. Out with the old. Buy something new. But what? Thongs? Please. Can you see me shaking my head in dismay? What has happened to substantial under clothes? Why are you ladies talked into substituting scraps for panties? It’s a conspiracy. Bring back the sateen crinolines. The lacy garters. Even the corsets. Oh, but I do envy you ladies of the modern world and your Spanx garments. Had I been able to maintain my 18-inch waist without whale ribs and tight-lacing, it’s quite possible that I would not have suffered universal opprobrium such as these historical write-ups on my hysterical nature:

Her “peak tight-lacing period” seems to coincide with the prolonged and recurrent fits of paranoid depression which she suffered 1859-60, which have been attributed to her husband’s political defeats, her three pregnancies, her sexual withdrawal, and quarrels with her mother-in-law over the rearing of her children.

Paranoid depression? Ha! And, in the modern parlance, gah! Isn’t it just so easy to reduce complex family issues to the hysteria of the wife? In a world where ansteampunkgirl Empress had no control over anything BUT her actual body proper, can you blame me for being a fastidious commandeer of my underwear? My trim waist line? Oh, bring back the pearls and the ribbon that festooned a lady’s glory box! Allow that a woman should enjoy the feel of garments that enhance her natural gifts. Whoa be the naysayer who calls a female “crazy” just because she chooses to be sewn into her riding habit. Are you finished pawing through your briefs? Did you throw out the bikini panties with the worn elastic? Get thee to your favorite lingerie boutique and treat yourself to silk and brocade. The Empress insists!