Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Queen's Dollmaker - Food for Thought & Sat. Blog Showcase

The story of The Queen's Dollmaker rated **** in my book.

I'm joining Food for Thought

the brainchild of the very talented Jain from Once in Blue Moon
I'm also linking to
Lori of All That Splatters who is hosting this week's Saturday Blog Showcase.

The Queen's Dollmaker is a story of a young woman, Claudette Laurent born in Paris, France in the early 1700's. She was struggling to develop her dollmaking trade in London after losing her parents & everything they owned in a devastating fire. Queen Marie Antoinette, an avid doll collector, became one of her best customers after hearing of her famous and beautiful work. Unbeknownst to Claudette, money and jewels were being smuggled in her dolls destined for the Queen and once discovered by the fledgling revolutionary French government, Claudette is accused of treason for assisting the King & Queen, who were under house arrest at the time.

Claudette is imprisoned & sentenced to death but is rescued at the last moment by the love of her life, whom she then marries & *lives happily ever after*. Its a well written rags to riches fairytale.

The author, Christine Trent, has made Claudette a very realistic, talented & hardworking character in this saga. I thought the author did a great job in describing the unstable post-revolutionary Paris, a time about which I knew very little. The cruelty of that era was gut wrenching & almost too vividly portrayed. The execution of some historical figures & the atrocious murder of the Queen's friend, the Princess of Lamballe was enough to give me nightmares!

They had some very unusual food items mentioned in the book. I opted to focus on the elegant gowns made for the dolls as well as the desserts & French pastries rather than eel, stuffed partridges in aspic, goose, pike fillets & roasted larks!

I chose to make tiny little oval shaped jam filled cookies or tarts to serve to my granddaughter Caroline at a tea party with her dolls. Monique, author of the beautiful blog, La Table de Nana, posted some gorgeous photos of pineapple tarts that she made with these darling little cookie cutter molds.
She didn't give an exact recipe so I used an old stand-by but I'm giving Monique all the credit & picking her blog for my link in the Saturday Blog Showcase.

I ordered both the heart & the oval mold cutters from Biodiversitybaking & found them to be the perfect dainty size for a tea party. Since Monique didn't give an exact recipe, I used a sugar cookie recipe that holds its shape & I felt it worked really well. (Recipe at end of post) I used an apricot filling & look forward to trying them with pineapple, strawberry or grape jam the next time.

I set up the glass table in the sewing room, which is Caroline's favorite place to play.

Come meet our guests!

This is Miss Barbie in her custom made (by Nana Rett) white-on-white cotton gown with lace trim on both cuffs & hemline, hand smocked with bullion roses.

This is Miss Hanna, a very delicate porcelain faced doll, dressed in white fur & red velvet with gold ribbons adorning both the waistline and her lovely matching hat.

Meet Miss Elizabeth, who is Caroline's favorite but please don't tell the others...we wouldn't want to hurt their feelings!
She is wearing a white silk gown with a gold flocked organza overlay as well as having gold lace around the collar & cuffs. Very elegant & stylish!

This last lady is Miss Cinna, who is the oldest & tallest of all the dolls. She used to be as tall as Miss Caroline, but has been passed by a recent growth spurt. She is a very graceful ballerina & wears her pale lavender tulle tutu & silk ribboned ballet slippers to every event.

Her hair, piled high on her head & beribboned with various silk ties most approximates the elaborate hairstyles of the French during the period of Queen Marie Antoinette.

Jason Schwartzman and Kirsten Dunst as King Louie and Marie  Antoinette
(Jason Schwartzman and Kirsten Dunst as King Louie and Marie Antoinette)

Our glass table in the sewing room was lit from below to accent the vintage lace tablecloth that once belonged to Miss Caroline's great-grandmother. We also had chocolate dipped strawberries to go with our tiny cookie tarts.

The tea set is Willow Blue by Johnson Brothers. It comes in its own hat box style carrier.

The little plates we used were found in an antique shop & each one depicts a different French couple in a garden scene, much like those written about in the book.

This one reminds me of the Queens favorite little rustic retreat, Hameau de la Reine where she kept sheep & horses.

The Queen’s Dollmaker was an interesting and historically enchanting book that held my attention, even more so toward the end.
Christine Trent's next novel The Wax Apprentice is scheduled for release in 2011.

Thanks to Jain for creating & hosting this wonderful mix of food & books
& thanks to Lori & Ann for doing the Saturday Blog Showcases.

Caroline & I both thank YOU for visiting the Gazebo House &

please help yourself to a cookie before you leave!

Sugar Cookies

Makes about 48 cookies, depending on cutter size
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. Beat butter and sugar until fluffy.
  3. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down bowl each time, then add vanilla.
  4. Add flour mixture and mix at low speed until dough just comes together.
  5. Knead a couple of times just until smooth, then pat into a flat disk, wrap in plastic and chill until firm enough to roll.
  6. Roll and cut as desired and place on parchment-lined sheets.
  7. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes.
* When filling the molds, be sure the jam is touching all the edges of the indentation or they won't look pretty.



  1. What a sweet post..beginning to end:) You have a real life doll:)

  2. What a charming post! I enjoyed reading all about the book but I especially enjoyed reading about the latest tea party with Miss C. You are making the most wonderful memories for this sweet little girl! You must be her most favorite person in the world (next to her mama, of course)!

  3. I LOVE this post! The cookies are beautiful - I've never seen those molds before. Your table, the dolls (both the playthings and your little angel!) - everything is just gorgeous!

  4. Oh Rett, this is such a lovely teaparty. The dolls are gorgeous and your GD is just beautiful. Love that smile. The tea set and dishes are so pretty. What a fun thing to do and you are creating such memories for her.
    I also read that book. Good story. Hope you have a great day. Hugs, Marty

  5. The book looks wonderful and obviously very inspiring. I love your tea and Caroline looks like she had a ball with all of her pretty dolls.

    I have to try the tart recipe. They look like they could melt in your mouth.

    Have a lovely weekend! :-)


  6. What special moments you are creating with your lovely little granddaughter. Great post.


  7. What a perfectly lovely post! I love everything from tying the dolls to the cookies to the book and your tea part table looks beautiful!

  8. Hi Rett!

    First of all I have to say that you put everything together so well for ths beautiful post. The book, the story, the dolls, the tarts and the plate. You did an amazing job! and your GD is absolutely adorable.

    She or he(i 4get) must be such a good writer to be able to make up such an interesting tale n make it so real.

    I do enjoy stories with a historical background weaved in. I learn a lot which I wouldnt otherwise. History wasnt my fave subject in school but I realize tt to live in the present you need to know why and how we got here. so I make myself love history n now I do.

    and where on earth did you order those tart presses from Rett? I have never seen any on the web. Its so funny that a Malaysian product reaches US with the packaging in our national language! amazing. and Im so happy you n so many others like them. They are quite unique to Malaysia n singapore only.

    I thank blogging for bringing people closer in so many ways. im on a break right now but i just dropped in for the giveaway. an opportunity I did nt want to miss.

    n tq for taking part in the giveaway and for following.Im honoured. I do hope you win.:)

  9. I've seen that book and now will look again and pick it up.
    What a pretty table!

  10. oh so happy to see you again! what an interesting sounding book, but the food passage scared me with eel and aspic... aspic scares me on a good day!

    oh i LOVE those cookies, i think i need to go shopping too... its not nice to be jealous is it? thank heavens you gave directions for my credit card!

    the tea party is adorable! caroline is so cute, hard to tell which is the living doll! can you hear my gasping... this post is BEYOND ADORABLE!!! and you both made those darling dresses? lucky miss C to have you both, lucky us that you share such cute things! i SO love food for thought, it lets the inner child in all of us come out and play with adult toys like cameras, books and computers to share a bit of fun and whimsy and all peeking our curiosity around books. To me this is as good as it gets, just enjoying everything fun and good with gusto.

    I love the uplighting, great idea. such cute blue dishes, my idea of girlie and sweet. and your little french plates, oolala they are having fun in the sun!

    oh that last pic of C, precious... she looks sooooooooo happy, which means you are over the moon!

    OH I LOVED LOVED LOVED EVERY INCH OF YOUR POST! how fun, thank you so much for playing, i loves seeing your book come to life!

    shh, now tell me, have you cut open any dolls looking for jewels?

  11. You have such interesting posts full of attention to detail- but what sticks with me is the obvious love you have for Ms. C!!! Love to see the interaction between the two of you!!!

  12. Rett, totally adorable and charming from start to finish. Miss C is one lucky little girl! I envy the fun the two of you must have together in the kitchen and at those tea parties. And you even smock for her dolls! You are one special Nana! Thanks for sharing this review. You know this is my kind of book. And those cookies are look both delicious and beautiful.

  13. I enjoyed every single word & picture. Loved all the dolls & the real one, too.
    Beckie in Brentwood, TN

  14. Thanks for stopping by and as always leaving such kind comments. The glue that I used on the glass is called Welder. I just added a picture of it to the post. Thanks for asking. Hugs, Marty

  15. Awww, so sweet, Rett! What a wonderful day of memories for both of you. I love to hear the special things you do for Caroline.

  16. Hi Rett,
    Miss C's favorite doll is mine too! My little Lily wasn't into dolls..:( and after her came 3 little boys..who are into mischief..:)
    I love the cookies..such pretty molds. Monique and I both sent for some cookie cutters a few years ago. She was so patient with hers, and I threw mine ..they were so annoying!
    Lovely post..the tea party and dolls and cookies and Miss C were the best!

  17. Somehow I missed this one, it is just adorable! I love dolls, and I love tea parties, so this is right down my ally! She is soooo cute!

    The reason I'm browsing your blog is because I went to Tuesday Morning (in St. Augustine) today and they have the cute bunnies similar to what you are looking for, but I couldn't remember if you needed the sugar bowl or creamer.


  18. Rett, I loved your post and want to be invited to your next tea party with Caroline. I have two granddaughters but they're still too young for a tea party.


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