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helwen: (MacGyver)
I finally had some time to check all the things that [personal profile] jdulac provided me on feasts in the middle ages. The Babees Book of Manners is not in the budget, but I can use it as an internet search reference to pick up useful bits ([personal profile] bunnyjadwiga refers to it in her article on washing the hands at table, for instance. I did order the other book, Fast and Feast: Food in Medieval Society.

And I ordered The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It, by John Seymour. Originally written in 1976, the 2003 reprint is mostly the same, except that many of the pictures are now in full color. It also includes an updated list of suppliers and seed companies.

Ordered both through Barnes and Noble, as I'm a member there. But besides that, they have an online special today. There's a code they provide on the web site that you type in once you're placing your order, that gives $10 off your order of $40 or more.

Currently I'm reading Gardening When It Counts, Growing Food in Hard Times, by Steve Solomon. more )

Well, we have a box of things to take to the party for giveaway, and are as ready as we're ever going to be, so it's time to sign off and go party for a couple of hours.

Like as not we'll sleep through the turning of the year so... See you all next year!
helwen: (Default)
So, I've used my new pewter spoon at a couple of events now, with knife. The forks we've only been using to spear food off the serving platters onto our plates. The one problem I'm having is that if I don't hold the spoon exactly right, I bend the handle while attempting to cut a slice of meat into smaller pieces. It's easy enough to bend it back, but I'm concerned about wearing it out eventually. So, I guess what I need to do is use the fork to cut the meat into small pieces, then I can use my knife or spoon to pick them up. It appears in some pictures that people used their knives to spear things to eat -- not sure I'm coordinated enough to do that safely. But I'd be willing to use my spoon...

It's made me wonder if we're serving meat correctly at feasts though, as I can't imagine nobility wanting to focus on how carefully they hold their pewter or silver spoons while cutting, and forks even as serving utensils weren't around in the early middle ages, as far as I know. Fowl you _could_ ostensibly rip a piece of with your hands, which would probably gross out all your table companions and doesn't seem very gentile. But what about pork or beef? Not very rippable, and I can't visualize someone picking up a slice of meat and eating it in hand, especially if it has a sauce.

helwen: (Default)
Just realized that I hadn't mentioned receiving my orders from Soper Lane and Historic Enterprises.

The tabletweaving booklets are fairly simple, being task-specific. The one on pouches was all right -- I probably know more about some aspects of those than is in the book, but at least the photos are ones I don't have. Another one is on bookmarks, which is good because I don't really have much on that. The others on belts and fringe look pretty good, and I'm looking forward to giving some of them to a couple of folks here in Bergental :)

Then there's the HE stuff. I got the horn spoon for my feast gear class, two pewter acorn spoons, and the griffin tablecloth. All beautiful, and the pewter spoons are especially luscious -- we'll be using those at Bjorn's Ceilidh this coming weekend. The tablecloth I've decided to save for Bergental Yule for its inauguration, and just bring plain white tablecloths for this weekend.
helwen: (Default)
Twice, actually.

First, there was this great sale on Pendleton wools at Denver Fabrics (special purchase), so I got quite a bit of that. Got mostly lovely, subtle stuff, but there was this purple and green plaid... House Oakenhearth's colors are purple and green and I'm sure Roen would have loved it. So I got enough to make myself something told Pagan she can have some too, if she wants.

Second, I finally got to order a tablecloth from Historic Enterprises -- the one with the gryphons. Also a couple of spoons (I need them for my class that I'm developing, you know...), and a Shire book on potteries in England (the how-to, progression of change in manufacturing, not the pots themselves). I asked [personal profile] fitzw if I could order the tablecloth, since it is a bit of money and we have other things we're buying, and after asking how much it was, he said "Sure, what the heck, it's less than fixing the cat!"

'fixing' the cat )

And not a temptation, but my booklets on tabletweaving should be coming from Soper Lane in a week or so. I bought extras of a couple of them, to give to some of the folks here and encourage them in their pursuits.

Anyway, more fun stuff coming in the mail! Yay! Good way to end the work week, which started out kind of hard, physically -- had some good work done on me at the chiropractors today, thank goodness. Was feeling pretty achey and 'old' before that... now I think I might be ready to walk all over the Rhinebeck sheep and wool show tomorrow.
helwen: (Default)
In the comments in one of my earlier posts, I mentioned handwashing at events (laver bowls, scented waters, etc.). Bunnyjadwiga kindly supplied the URL for an article she had, which I promptly posted to the Bergental list to see what they thought of the idea. There have already been a couple of positive nibbles! We'll see where this goes...
helwen: (Default)
I was checking out CostPlus World Market (got there from a site on Free Trade goods), and found some flatware I thought would be acceptable for SCA use. Not perfect, but the handles are straight, not flared out, and a lot of extant pieces have a knob, curl, or some sort of thing on the end. The spoons don't have the typical pear shape, but overall I think they'll do. Plus they're metal, as opposed to our current wood ones, so more appropriate for nobility. The knives are also decent. What also appealed to me is that while you have to buy them in sets of 4 pieces, it's by the _type_ of piece, not a whole 'set'. So, 4 forks, 4 spoons, etc. I ordered spoons and knives, as we've decided to try not to use forks so much. Yesterday at the event I noticed that I mostly used my fork to get the food from the serving dish onto my plate, so I suppose it won't be too difficult a transition. I ordered two sets of each, in case we might give some out as gifts or prizes.

You can see them here: http://www.worldmarket.com/kitchen-tabletop/flatware/Mercury-Flatware-Collection/lev/4/productId/3866/Ne/1100001/Ns/NEW_ARRIVAL_FLAG%7c1%7c%7cCATEGORY_SEQ_2983%7c0/N/1100140/Nty/1/view/10000/index.pro

Also, I spoke with our seneschal and some others about service and appearance and such, and they've agreed to try out having the servers all wear a long white napkin over the shoulder.

I think laver bowls would be cool too, but right now I can't think about it, with Ashfield Fall Festival less than a week away. So, perhaps not this winter, but in the future? I was reading something somewhere (forgot to note it) about how they washed both before and after the meal, which I don't think I've seen at events yet, just the washing before. Has anyone seen this happen?

More later. Off to watch Inspector Lynley!


Oct. 1st, 2006 08:02 am
helwen: (Default)
Travelled to Coronation with fitzw, ellid, and Conannan. One small detour, but otherwise the trip down was fairly uneventful. Site was packed with people, we had marvelous weather, many awards given out, fealties were sworn, old friends were greeted, and the Bergental travelling dayboard was quite good.

Baronessmartha received her well-deserved Pelican. She spent most of the day in happy tears, I think :) Annaliese made a lovely silk 'braid' for her, with fringe on the end, and someone make a beautiful Persian coat for her with the pelican embroidered on the back of it.

Nazrynn received her also well-deserved Silver Crescent (see her post for more details).

fitzw and I made our fealty to TRM Lucan and Jana, and I managed to remember all of my lines! It was kind of surreal in some ways, as it's the same oath I used with Etienne to the same RM when I was baroness the first time... thankfully I'm getting better with practice.

EDIT: fitzw remembers that Et and I did it slightly differently, and I recall that before I did the entire thing in French and then he did the entire thing in English. We agree it works better doing it line by line, which is how fitzw and I do it now.

This particular court was Russian, I think. I believe the intention this reign is to 'travel' to different eastern European countries - should be fun! It was a lovely setup, with the divans and the furs and pillows and everything, and of course TRM's clothing was beautiful. Sorry, no pics, but I'm sure someone took some.

The flashes all going off during one of the knightings that day were somewhat off-putting (and against EK law). But the rest of both courts were both excellent. There were only a couple of times folks weren't in right in the room, so very few delays in what were full court dockets. Some members of Concentus filled in one of the times with singing and were joined by some others, which happily ended up settling a restless crowd and processing in one of the chivalry candidates -- it's nice to know the same music as folks from other places.

Eleanor leB brought a few things for folks to try out at lunch time. She's experimenting with different things for dayboard at Crossroads at Canterbury. Some people liked the dip, which I thought was okay, but needs a different color bowl and/or some greens to give it more visual appeal - have to write her about that as I ran out of time for chatting. She also brought a savory pie (squash and onion, and probably eggs and stuff) -- that was absolutely scrumptious! Of course, while many people thought so, not everyone felt the same way, but fortunately there will be a variety of food for a variety of personal tastes. Oh, and also a dariole, which was subtle but pleasant. I think she's going to try some other dariole recipes as well.

A number of us didn't stay for dinner, needing to get home sooner for much-needed rest. We stopped at a place in Attleboro, MA at the corner of 1 and 1A called the Hearth and Kettle. Everyone had something different and we all found our food excellent, whether fish, poultry, or beef. Pagan's lobster stew had rather large pieces of lobster in it -- there could be no doubt that it was real lobster! My nut-crumbed salmon was excellent, and I have a bit of it left over for today, as they were generous with their portions. The nuts were almonds and macadamia, and overall was a ginger-orange sauce. I had butternut squash and mashed potatoes for sides. I don't usually have potatoes, but I had a feeling these might be worth having, and they were - real mashed potatoes, not pureed or instant ickiness. They also had their own brand of root beer, which compares favorably to IBC and stands up well to ice. We were all too full for dessert. Everyone hit the restrooms before leaving; fitzw was singing quietly outside them by the kitchen, waiting for the rest of us to come out, and we happily joined in for a song before leaving the restaurant. We leave a proper tip of course, but a song is something they can carry with them for a while longer. Even the manager was happy :)

The ride home was even more uneventful than the ride out, and everyone got to go home at a reasonable hour. A perfect end to a perfect day!
helwen: (Default)
Last Saturday we went to the farm, and picked up balls of rag strips for the rug loom, a clock winder, shuttles, spool rack, and sundry other weaving-related items, plus a butternut squash, and some yellow squash and cucumbers.

Went to the fleamarket on Sunday and managed to find a few interesting things, including a very nice cobalt blue glass, which I think will be a prize at Crestfallen. Also found a pair of candlesticks that think might make decent bases for a couple of saltcellars I'm going to assemble (one for personal use and one for someone else), and an open silver salt cellar, which will probably be another of the prizes for Crestfallen.

Monday we primed the scraped wall. Sometime during the week the renoferret started putting up the siding. Looks good - will post pics when the siding's done. Still waiting for the electrical inspector...

ellid asked why we didn't make it to Barleycorn yesterday:
We got stuck on the highway, with no useful (needed E-W, not N-S) exits anywhere nearby. Took 1-1/2 hours to go about 5 miles. Turns out there was a double accident, first a single vehicle, then a tractor trailer driver ran into the parked police vehicle of the officer who'd responded to the first accident and was directing traffic and stuff. Fortunately nobody died, and the officer wasn't injured, although that was it for his car -- the trucker's vehicle pushed the car off the road and landed on top of it.

Anyway, by the time we got past that, it was late enough in the day that we would have arrived too late for the baronial and royal courts, and since we weren't staying for dinner that meant we'd be there for 2-3 hours to visit with friends. I like my friends, but that's a very long day on the road for a short visit.

So we went home and did useful things around the house, finished watching the Farscape Peacekeeper Wars movie that we recorded sometime last spring, washed the cats, made A&S tokens, did some test spinning, etc.

Yes, we had to wash Roselynde this time as well. Fortunately she's a short-hair, so one time should do it for her -- third time for poor Peredur Mawr. Roz looked incredibly Siamese when she was wet...
It looked to be mostly flea dirt and dead fleas in the rinse off, and some of them were quite small/immature, so we're hopeful that we're near the end of this business. Still don't know how he got them in the first place, since neither of them go outdoors. Our theories are that since Peredur likes to lie on the inside doormat, that a flea could have jumped in from the porch, as the cat from next door was an outside cat with no collar, or that he might have picked one up at the vet's when he was there for overnight observation when he was sick. The vets try to keep a clean environment, but you never know when an animal might come in that has fleas...

Today we're off to a site walk-through for the Crossroads at Canterbury event site. Should be fun!
helwen: (Default)
I've of course been looking for pictures of salt cellars along with everything else... I have one of my own somewhere -- time to dig it out and use it!

The funny thing was finding a pic of a low cellar (little/no foot, for lower status folks), and realizing that all the cellars that Octavia and I made for a Bergental-hosted RP event years ago were actually not too far off... not the prettiest things, but neither is the extant one. I don't do fancy 3-D work in anything besides ceramics for the most part, so I also made a dragon and a swan for the new king and queen out of clay, who seemed to like them :) The padded pouches I made for them were pretty loud -- I'd gotten this shiny but durable fabric because that way I could have each person's heraldic colors.

I tried different words, including "nef". "Nef" is not a useful word when doing a search, either in an internet search engine or on eBay. Lots of organizations have the initials "N E F", and apparently it means something to people who use rifles too.

Some cellars are simple, some complex, some open, some closed. The ones in illuminations tend to be somewhat simpler in appearance, compared to say, the one made by Benvenuto Cellini -- which was stolen a few years ago & recovered just this past Jan. There were some really cool ones from Africa, sold to people in Europe. I plan on looking at the flea market for cellars and things that could be used as such.

Here are some pages with pictures of fancy cellars:

(Cellini. Cellar bowl is visible just past their knees)

http://www.untoldlondon.org.uk/news/ART28104.html (3rd image down on the page)


http://artandarchitecture.org.uk/images/gallery/19176990.html (ceramic but fancy - has heraldry on it)
helwen: (Default)
Went back to XMasTS and got a few more pitchers, and a couple of little glasses. Got a couple of nice tumblers at Pier1. Then got a couple of ceramic plates and some small nested ceramic bowls at Dollar Tree. The smallest bowl can be a simple salt cellar... in addition to the other stuff, I have this crazy idea to try to assemble a suitable dining set for 2 for $10 or less. I don't think I'm going to make it, as they didn't have proper utensils or napkins, although I suppose I could have gone with the wood spoons and cotton kitchen towels. I'm taking a few days off from hunting, until Sunday. We have a local flea market I've never been to, and I'm hoping they'll have old linens, small spoons, etc. I'm also going to talk to my apprentice Una's mom, Judith, who still does some business in antiques and often ends up with unwanted stuff (estate sales). So far I've spent $5 on the dining set for two...
helwen: (Default)
I've been paying attention this year to the sorts of gifts and prizes that other groups have been giving out and decided that now that we're a little more settled, Bergental needs to get with the program and upgrade a bit. Lyle is starting to plan out a six-board box and wants to make a prototype, then make another one for our feastgear. I was thinking that maybe the prototype, which would still be pretty nice, would make a good prize. Which it would, but the cost of materials is pretty high, thanks to increases in housing construction costs and Katrina. But we might be able to pull off making a few small trestle benches.

I'd like our prizes for the next year to mostly be things that help promote a medieval appearance, things that people would actually use regardless of their level of enthusiasm for genuinely medieval stuff. There's a lot of really cool stuff out there that isn't that far a reach for modern people to like or understand. So one of the things I'll be shopping for is cups, because the basic beaker form still exists and is still very popular -- it's just more commonly called a tumbler nowadays. I already have some good prospects at some of the local stores, and will be at them in both the usual area and also in bath accessories. Bath accessories often has things in metal right now, so getting an affordable silver/pewter-looking beaker is pretty easy. Some people don't like metal because they want to use the same cup for everything, including hot stuff. But most drinks at events aren't hot, and my friend Eli, who has interesting vision issues, has a problem with breakable things like ceramics and glass. Besides, if that many drinks were hot historically, why are there so many examples of metal cups? So I'm planning on hitting Target (metal), Christmas Tree Shops (?), and Pier 1 Imports (for glass ones) for sure. Might even hit the dollar stores, just for thoroughness.

I've also been looking at napkins, and doing research to try to get decent-looking linen ones (search on linen kitchen towels or guest towels). Not a lot of luck there, but one or two possibilities. I may end up making some for Yule. Been trying to find some kitchen towels like the ones my friend Cialia gave me years ago -- linen/cotton, white with blue woven stripes of design. I took 4 of them and sewed them in pairs so that the stripes would be horizontal instead of verticle and they are a fair cop on Perugia linens.

Interesting thing though -- yesterday when I was looking at lots of pictures online, I noticed that most of the people with visible napkins were servers, not people being served. So should I be looking for smaller napkins for people who are dining? That would be a lot easier, and more affordable.

I also have to start looking for metal or ceramic plates for me and Lyle. I love my wood ones, but sadly they appear to be used mostly be 'ordinary' people, and therefore not suitable for a baron and baroness. Ceramic is prettier, but metal travels better, in general. Although I'm going to be making padded containers for our various ceramic cups, so that we can take them to other groups' events, so I could probably make something for ceramic plates too...

I'm only making the containers out of fabric, as I have any number of scraps that would do for that, which I'd otherwise would be throwing away. And I've seen some evidence of padded fabric containers, like that one for a royal seal. Not that I _need_ to document it, but heck, people travelled in medieval times, went hunting, etc., so why not use the same solutions they did? For those interested in this sort of thing, they also made leather containers, not only for books and dishes but for things like treasured ceramic flower pots as well.

I have managed to clean some of my old table linens successfully, and they are all nice and white and new-looking again. We have three, so I'm thinking of making one of them a prize.

I've also been thinking about other medieval accessories, like salt cellars and candlestick holders. The latter are a problem as many sites require enclosed flame, but the former I think I can work with -- they still make them, and some candle holders and candy dishes might work as well. I'd love to get the repro stuff, but most of it's out of Bergental's budget at this point. Still, these prizes might inspire some people to go for the repros, and overall they'll add to any event's medieval atmosphere, so I think it's all good.

If anyone has examples of medieval/renaissance enclosed flame, please let me know.

If anyone has ideas on other things I can look for, please let me know about those too!


helwen: (Default)

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