Dresses of Tsarina Aleksandra Romanova

Tsarina Alexandra

I have to say, all of the images here are taken shamelessly from a Retronaut article on the same matter, but I’ve decided to share a few of my favourites along with a little history about the Tsarina’s story rather than simply exhibiting her fashionable garb. All information included here can be found on Wikipedia.

The sixth of seven children to Grand Duke Louis IV of Hesse and by Rhine and Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, Alix Viktoria Helena Luise Beatrice of Hesse and by Rhine was a granddaughter of the powerful Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of the United Kingdom. She was baptised into the Lutheran faith, and while she was not destined to inherit her father’s country, she would in fact rule great expanses through marriage. In 1878, six years after her birth, diptheria struck the household and killed both Alexandra’s mother and youngest sister.

Tsarina AlexandraAlexandra was a stubborn, strong-willed girl, who rejected her first promising suitor despite familial pressure from both her immediate household, and Queen Victoria herself. However, she had already fallen in love with Nicholas II of Russia, despite the fact that King Wilhelm II of Prussia was a mutual great-great grandfather, though he was one generation back on the Russian side.

Nicholas II also faced troubles in their potential engagement, as his father, Tsar Alexander III, was strictly anti-German and was hoping for a more fruitful and powerful alliance. He attempted to make his son marry Hélène, a pretender on the throne of France, and then Margaret, sister to Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany. Both women were also unwilling, and refused to give up their respective faiths to join the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Tsarina AlexandraI could include some details of Nicholas II’s reign, their coronation, his shortfalls and successes, and their popularity, but as this is going to be a long article anyway, I think I’ll skip to the bits of their rule that directly pertain to the Tsarina. For example, Rasputin. To discuss Rasputin, however, we need to delve into the Tsarina a bit further.

She gave birth to the young prince, tsarevich Alexei during the height of the Russo-Japanese war. He was born with haemophilia, a blood-clotting disease that Alexandra’s grandmother, Queen Victoria, had passed down to almost all royal families in Europe by marrying off her daughters to the male heirs. It was generally fatal at the time, and, as the heir of the Russian throne, it was pivitol that Alexei survive.

Out of desperation to heal her fragile son, Alexandra turned to religion, and then mystics, such as Grigori Rasputin. Rasputin lived a lifestyle of drunkenness and sexual promiscuity, but even police reports that Rasputin “exposed himself at a popular Moscow restaurant and bragged to the crowd that Nicholas let him top his wife whenever he wanted” would not deter Alexandra’s faith that the man could heal her son.
Tsarina Alexandra

When Alexei suffered a devastating hemorrhage in Poland, his mother and father waited by his bedside, anxiously trying to give him any aid to help his recovery. As the pain continued and their efforts failed, Alexandra asked Rasputin for help. His optimistic prayer-laden response coincided with Alexei’s recovery and cemented Alexandra’s fondness for the mystic. This gave political influence to the unstable Rasputin, and undermined the tsarina’s relationship with both her husband and her country.

After the first World War broke out, Alexandra took control of St. Petersburg as her husband went to lead the military on the fronts. She failed as a politician and increased Rasputin’s role, leading to a failing bureaucracy that was deeply unpopular. As revolution exploded, she was kept in her Palace, and then relocated with her family to Tobolsk, Siberia. There, the Kerensky government meant to keep them out of harm. The Bolsheviks later removed them to Yekaterinaburg. The communist guards called her husband Nicholas the Blood-Drinker, and her, the German bitch.

Being told that they were being led away to escape from the imprisonment, the family was led into the basement on Tuesday, 16 July 1918. There, they were told by Cheka guards that their family had tried to save them, and now they had failed, so they would be shot. Nicholas could only respond with “What?” before he was shot several times in the chest. Alexandra watched as her husband fell next to her with three fatal wounds. Her manservants were then killed, and as the revolver pointed at her, she attempted to turn away and make a cross. However, before she could finish, Peter Ermakov shot her in the head that went in just above her left ear and left just above her right ear. Ermakov then stabbed both of their dead bodies, breaking ribs and chipping Alexandra’s vertebrae. Then, the children were shot. Because of a shirt encrusted with jewels to protect him from his haemophilia, Alexei needed to be shot in the head to be successfully killed. That day, all members of the Romanov family died. The revolution had won.

-A.

Romanovs

Photos Courtesy Of:
http://www.retronaut.co/2011/10/dresses-of-tsarina-alexandra-romanova/

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3 Ways to Die by Chocolate

Ok, let me make this clear: unless you put arsenic into any of these recipes, you shouldn’t actually die. No promises though, because these are 3 recipes from the lovely Martha Stewart Food magazine that will leave you wondering if you’re having an out of body experience. I might be blowing my own horn a bit much, but really. These recipes, try them.

Double Chocolate Pudding
Double Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, plus shavings

Directions

  1. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually whisk in milk, taking care to dissolve cornstarch. Whisk in egg yolks.
  2. Whisking constantly, heat over medium until the first large bubble sputters, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cook, whisking, 1 minute. Remove from heat; immediately pour through sieve into bowl. Add butter, vanilla, and chocolate; stir until smooth.
  3. Place plastic wrap on surface of pudding (to prevent a skin from forming); chill at least 3 hours (or up to 3 days). To serve, whisk until smooth; divide among serving cups, and garnish with shavings.
Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies
Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 4 ounces melted and 4 ounces coarsely chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; mix in vanilla. Combine espresso powder and melted chocolate; beat into butter mixture. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; mix just until combined. Fold in chopped chocolate.
  3. Drop dough by two heaping tablespoons, 3 inches apart, onto two baking sheets. Bake until edges are dry, 14 to 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries with Pistachios

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 pound large strawberries (about 20), washed and dried well
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pistachios (optional)

Directions

  1. Place chocolate in a bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally, until melted, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. One at a time, dip each strawberry in chocolate, twirling to coat; then sprinkle chocolate-covered portion with pistachios, if using, and place on waxed paper.
  3. Chill chocolate-dipped strawberries at least 15 minutes to set chocolate. (Strawberries should not be stored in refrigerator longer than 1 hour as condensation drops may collect on the chocolate.)
Chocolate Strawberries
And yes, that will be all.
-A
Recipes from:
Pictures from:

The Scottish Make Money Through Murder

Well, perhaps not any more. But at some point, it appears that somebody did. Since I’m most likely going to live in the lovely Edinburgh next year, I find it deeply fitting that I should grace you all with a Scots-themed post.

Burke and Hare  Last night, I watched a brilliantly hilarious film called Burke and Hare, which, while not being at the pinnacle of the film industry, is a dark comedy about two men who murder — yes, murder — seventeen individuals for the sake of selling the bodies to a very competitive market in the anatomy schools of the University of Edinburgh. Two delightful laymen characters horrify themselves by attempting to murder people by throwing them down staircases, losing bodies rolling away in barrels, and make a small fortune in the business.

It stars the delightful Andy Serkis and Simon Pegg, two charming comedians who will be sure to give you the best of British comedy. But I’m not just here to blow whistles for Scottish cinema, because there’s a dark underside to this story.

It actually happened.

No, really! It actually happened. William Burke and William Hare actually murdered seventeen people in order to sell their bodies to the anatomy schools, and, here’s the twist: they had no criminal record of any sort before that. Their wives were both possibly into the act, helping them smother, knock out, and throw their victims off of cliffs. William Burke was actually Irish, in fact, who came over to Scotland in 1817, and could read and write. Unusual, really.

Burke and Hare

These are the real Burke and Hare (I’ll admit that I don’t know which one is which), and the way the story ends is a little different than in the film, but the same number of people die in the end. I can certainly say that this is a film you’ll want to watch if you’re with a gaggle of friends, wanting an early 19th Century basket of laughs with a little bit of squeamish squealing but no real gory horror. Pity the world isn’t like how it used to be, what with the possibility of being nabbed and murdered for the name of science at every dark streetcorner — or that four pounds sterling could get you into an exclusive nightclub. I’ll risk the former for the latter, if I can bring a ten quid note back with me!

Burke's Skeleton  This is Burke’s skeleton, now on display in the University of Edinburgh School of Anatomy Museum. The last shot of the film shows the “what happened to William Burke,” though I won’t give you the short end, since that’d be a spoiler, but we all know he dies eventually, and this is what happens to him. Propped in a fluorescent room, sticks all up in his exposed spine, sitting in a glass canister — in the name of anatomical science. Wonder if it’s what he would have wanted. Probably not.

For the second part of my Sunday post, however, I’d like to introduce to you a recipe for a bakery item that will murder. (Well, perhaps not as much as my Espresso Double Chocolate Cookies, but I’ll save those for another day when I give you Death by Chocolate.) More in line with the Scottish way, I’m going to give you my all-secret, never before shared, fluffy, luscious, scrumptious, Scottish Berry Scones.

I warn you. These are scones that contain sunlight in them, goldeny toasty with dripping blueberries if you get them in season. I’ve done them with chocolate chips and edited them for pumpkin when it’s in season, and when I spent time in Scandinavia, I put lindonberries in them. They work well with any juicy berry that you can find in season, but blueberries always steal the show.

Serve them with jam, butter, and tea, freeze them on a flat sheet and then in a Ziplock, and they’ll last months for your enjoyment. They’ve been doubled for hungry families and they’re in American measurements because most of our readers are American. If you’d like the European measurements, please leave a comment. Also, since they’re a family recipe… it’s more colloquial cooking language.
Blueberry Scones
A’s Murderous Berry Scones

  • 3.5 cup flour
  • 2 tbls & 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup salted or unsalted room temperature butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 and 1/3 cup milk (whole for creamier texture, but even skim works fine)
  • 2 cups berries
  • 2 egg yolk
  1. Preheat oven at 400 Farenheit (200 C)
  2. Mix baking powder and flour in a rather large bowl
  3. Rub butter and sugar together (literally, take it in your hands, it will be very sticky, and sort of cream it together) until crumbly.
  4. Add flour mixture.
  5. Add milk and berries and knead gently (still using my hands), as briefly as possible. Will be very sticky.
  6. On a thickly floured surface, roll until 1 inch thick.
  7. Cut out with a standard mug or biscuit cutter and put on a ban with baking parchment, smearing egg yolks on top (I use a basting brush). Sprinkle with Muscovado sugar (Sugar in the Raw, or other very unrefined sugar).
  8. Bake 15 minutes until golden and irresistable.

These are the moistest, fluffiest, most delectable scones you will ever eat. Use wisely.

-A

Information from:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1320239/

http://burkeandhare.com/bhperps.htm

Pictures from:

http://thepenningtonedition.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/burkes-skeleton.jpeg?w=240&h=320