Archive for April, 2014


This is another not-quite-medieval post. Today I planted madder and woad in my front garden, plus peas and lettuce in my back garden. So far, so good. I also transplanted some pumpkin seedlings and covered them with my greenhouse. I also planted more tomatoes and bok choy in my seedling pots (not medieval or very late period to Europe), and spread the last of my clover seeds (possibly acceptable, though I know nothing about planting clover except on modern golf courses and shady spots). The basil in pots, and the sorrel outside were probably okay though. I emptied several containers of seeds, and getting rid of unfinished projects is an important component of my A&S 50 challenge, so I am counting this as a successful day. I noticed some of last year’s woad is already sprouting, as is the garlic. I’m looking forward to doing more dyeing this year.


Also, though it’s not quite a gardening project, I added some water to black walnut husks that have been sitting on my workbench forever. I carefully hulled them several years ago, but then let them dry out. Though the black dye is supposed to happen with fresh husks, I notice the water started turning black almost immediately. I think I’ll see whether this works.


Read Full Post »

Something modern

This has absolutely nothing directly to do with my A&S 50 challenge. I took a jewelry-making course today, and got to see how an artist I know sets up her home studio and works to make beautiful things with relatively simple materials. I also found out where to buy certain supplies that I didn’t even know were sold in Ottawa. Today’s projects allowed me to practice cutting metal, hammer, work with wire, and solder. The pendant is actually all silver, with a hammered pattern running diagonally across it – I just couldn’t get it to photograph clearly.


I’m now feeling sufficiently inspired that I think I’ll clean off my work bench and set up my old equipment.  I may even go back to trying some more medieval-inspired pieces, though part of the reason I gave it up in the past was that my ambitions far outran my talent and workspace. We’ll see.

Read Full Post »

Elderberry Mead

Back on April 5, I finally got around to making up some elderberry mead that I have been planning for two years. A friend had given me lots of elderberries that I had cleaned and frozen, so I cooked them up with some water and orange peel:
I was worried that my yeast had been sitting around too long, but it was fine:
Finally, it was time to do up the rest of the honey and water. That’s when I discovered that my carefully hoarded 3 kg of basswood and clover honey would not be sufficient for the recipe. I threw in a kg of goldenrod and clover, and then whipped down to the store for 2 kg of whatever was on the shelves, and boiled it up:

Finally, when everything was appropriately cooled and mixed, it all went into two gallon jugs. That’s when I discovered I had misplaced one of my two airlocks, after every wine supply store in town was closed. Luckily, one was open the next day (Sunday), so I was able to get it airlocked before I had an explosion. The guys at the store said that next time, I could do a temporary fix with plastic wrap and an elastic band. Good to know!

After it was all done, I discovered another kg of basswood and clover honey in my cupboard. Oh well.

Now I must remember to rack it at the proper times, for once. Many thanks to my friend Jane who helped with the process and didn’t laugh too hard.

Read Full Post »