Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chalice Feast thingz

So, here is the current up-to-date Chalice Feast menu -

Travelers Dish (Fri night):

Chili (It's gonna be cold most likely, a warm chili will help)


Eggs (scambled, plain or with cheese!)
Glazed Toaste


Cold cut sandwiches - Ham or chicken, served on a small roll with mustard and fresh cut onion rings
Pickle spear


Beverage choices -

. Water
. Tea (sweetened and nonsweetened)
. Lemonade (not period, but popular)

First Course - 

. Bread and butter (honey, spiced, plain)
. Apple slices
. Pasta with Saffron and Mace

Second Course -

. Mushroom Onion Soup
. Meatballs with a honey mustard sauce
. Salat

Third Course -

. Sausage in an Apple and Onion sauce
. Barbequed Carbonadoes (various meat selections BBQ'd and spiced)

Fourth Course -

. Funnelcake
. Bacon-wrapped dates

I am doing a Feast for 60 people, so my budget is 600. I may subtract/change dishes as my finances allow, I'll be going and price checking down at Restaurant Depot next weekend. There's a couple things still up in the air that I'm waiting to hear back on that could change the food items a bit, such as if the lunch is including Feast or a fundraising one.

With 60 people being served, I have to add a few more numbers to get my total for food to prepare. High Table is not counted amongst that number, the largest I've seen is 16 so I'll plan for that. I also need to include kitchen staff and servers, to make sure they have enough noms for their service. I'll give that an additional 10, making the total servings needed to account for as 86. Which means I need to spend roughly 6.98 on each person, to maximize my 600 and feed everyone I need to feed. I'm gonna be spending a lot of my free time this weekend on figuring this math out on my portions for each dish so when I price-check I can see how far over/under I am and where I need to adjust.

Gonna be putting out calls for kitchen-staff help and serving help having some confirmed people on my side in advance will really help me avoid extra stress. I'm hoping to find someone to handle Lunch, I don't mind breakfast but that meal in the middle of the day will throw me ff if I have to handle it myself.

I want matching tabards! I know its gonna be a stretch, and not as likely to follow through, but I would LOVE for all my servers to be wearing a matching tabard because it's a good period display. Also, it would look cool. I'm currently shopping around for donations of fabric, is anyone has any they wouldn't mind parting with I'd love to take it off your hands!

Another idea I really wanna do is a fancy presentation for dessert. You know at the end of the Feast, before dessert is called, when they call out the cooking staff and servers to be recognized? I want all my staff to come out and each holding a covered dish. When the thank you's are given and they ask for the dessert to be brought forth, I want the covers to be removed to show that dessert is ready NOW! So they're served immediately, High Table first then the populous.

I dunno, I think it's pretty cool :). This is gonna be an awesome time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Meditation, relaxation and centering

I'm a person who has a lot of security issues (like every human ever) and as many people have done over the centuries I've found ways to try and center myself and find my zen. The best way for me has always been to find "my place" and to relax and meditate, often I'll sit for an hour in a comfortable position and just reflect on my thoughts and feelings. My place is an area that's always been distinctly me, my smells or sights or just kinda saturated with me-ness in general, and that's always in the past helped me to become comfortable and relaxed.

Over the last year I've had a lot of lifestyle changes, mostly good, and these have changed not just the way I see the world and interact with it but also what helps me to relax and to keep me calm. I've always struggled with over-stimulation, too much of anything and I start to stress and become twitchy, but over the last two months I've come to discover that my old ways of relaxing and finding my zen seem to either be less effective or just make the problem worse. I've come to find that being isolated and alone, absorbed in my own comfort setting, doesn't really help me relieve stress as much or at all anymore these days.My own spiritual turbulence hasn't helped much, so I decided a plan of attack was needed.

So I began my search to try and find more of me and to reconnect with myself. I tried a variety of different meditations and changes to my environment, it took a while but I finally found something that worked. And I learned a little bit more about myself in the process. I found out that really...being alone doesn't work anymore. Maybe it's a result of me growing and breaking out of my tiny shell, or perhaps its because I'm tired of living in fear and distrust and want to open up more with people. In either case, I want to be connected and I want to feel like I'm a part of something. That really helped, coming to understand that. The bustle of city life just made me nervous, I hate traffic and being surrounded by way too much city always makes me frustrated at the urban sprawl. I've found just relaxing with my back against a tree, shoes kicked off and toes wriggling in the open air far more comfortable and useful for my meditations.

I've started almost all of my days over the last 2 weeks the same way, which I've found rather nice. I wake up, have a glass of water and head outside. Behind my dwelling is a nice plot of land, nice dense trees which I can walk just 5 feet back into before losing sight of the road and civilization. There's a pine tree with a nice nook that I rest against and stretch out. Sometimes I wriggle in to get more comfortable, sometimes I don't need to, but I always kick my shoes and socks off and wriggle my toes in the air satisfied to have the freedom. Sometimes I dig them into the dirt, sometimes I just let the rest on the leaves and see how many I can collect on top of them. I'll then fold my hands over my lap, close my eyes and just relax. I'll meditate on my thoughts, on my day and what my tasks are. I'll reflect on my surroundings, and lose myself in the buzzing of the bugs and the chirping of the birds.I lose myself, till I just can't feel anything except that I'm a part of the woods and its when I can finally feel relaxed and ready to tackle the day. I stay until I'm lost, no more than several minutes sometimes but other times under darker days I can be there for an hour or more. When I finally walk back out, I dunno I just feel more me and not me at the same time.

So yeah, that's been my new thing. It feels really good so far in helping me get ready for the day, and helping me feel more...I dunno, more me.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Village Fair: Now with more WOW

Now that my brain has calmed down and I'm not working anymore...

Wow. Just wow. Still in a small bit of shock from the weekend, but I'll manage just fine. I once again fell for the EXACT same trick they used to get me into Court last time, you'd think I'd learn by now, but was very happy that I was able to attend.

So many people got so many well-deserving awards. My friend Kaoru has been rocking the Darkwater Defender even before he was awarded it, I've rarely seen a more devoted fighter not just for the Barony but for Trimaris itself and totally stoked he was publicly recognized for it. He as been "very busy" defending things in the Barony since, like his bed or this bench :p. Well deserved breaks are needed, he's a phenomenal person and a real inspiration to watch on the field.

Sarah has been STELLAR at her illumination skills, with only having seriously started in January of this year she's been skyrocketing and improving in leaps and bounds with every piece she does and I was very happy to see her noticed for such. We're both interested in picking up calligraphy, but I have a feeling she's gonna soar waaaay beyond me in leaps and bunds before I can spell the word cat.

Jake got some kind of award, I'm sure its nothing important... :p. Seriously though, very glad to see the work he did for Pennsic was so lavishly thanked and richly rewarded. And for him to receive his AoA the same day I did made me feel really great, he's been working so hard (harder than me!) for the simple reason that it brings him joy and happiness to help others and I love seeing that rewarded. Jake helps inspire, helps teach and ot importantly helps us all Dream. I wouldn't want to do this without him, and am glad he is here.

Ari received an honor for his display of chivalry, and its bloody well awarded. That man has been and continues to be a huge inspiration to me in the mannerisms of chivalry and honor, he was my first King and just like his Lady I feel like I will always consider him King in my heart. Way to go on his award, give him proper kudos next time you see him.

I myself got hit with a "double whammy" at Court, apparently they had been trying to give me an Acorn's Glade award since Gathering of the Clans (which I couldn't make due to work) and had trouble pinning me down for Court ever since ;). After receiving a lovely scroll I thought I could escape...alas I was drawn back. I was given the Tridents Keype along with my Award of Arms, I won't lie I was a bit overcome with emotion for a moment. For me...I would have been happy with receiving the honor from anyone and would cherish it all the same. But receiving that award from Julia and Brian meant so much to me, they've been my first Baron/Baroness and have been real friends. The support, love, guidance and sheer respect they've shown to me and my friends has been overwhelming. To receive this award from them, it will always hold a very special place in my heart right next to my green belt.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A post that posts about posts I will be posting about...Postcepion?

So I know things ahve been quite here the last 2 weeks, I've been terribly busy with a whole mess of things. Starting on Sunday, here are several of the posts you can expect to be seeing. Maybe some of these will be grouped, maybe not. I dunno, I kinda write for myself, so here's what I'll be writing on:

. My impressions and review of the new World of Warcraft expansion
. My impressions and review of the new Pokemon game (because I WILL catch them all)
. A talk about my new meditation routine and how I feel it's helping me grow
. Discussion on the Baronial Encampment for Darkwater (an I just love Pointless Capitalization Of Letters)
. Talks about my upcoming Feast(!!!)
. Talks about the upcoming Queens Tea(!!!!)
. A series of pictures as I follow around a caterpillar while it crawls in the woods behind my house (Don't judge me)
. Definitely more SCA period dishes, recording more of my experiments outside of my handy-dandy notebook
. A review of Village fair (what little I can make it to)
. I dunno, maybe some movie reviews or something

Friday, October 5, 2012

Michaelmas was a great event!

So I had an amazing time at Michaelmas, as the last weeks worth of updates can attest to. This was my first time attending this event, and my friends up in Gainesville can really throw a great party! Next year, if you have the time off I highly recommend making the trek out here.

The campsite is rather nice, big enough to let people have a sense of privacy but small enough that its a quick walk to anyplace you wanted to be. The cabins were clean and well air conditioned (most of the time) and the hot water in the showers was a welcome treat at 6am. Sarah and I arrived on site Friday and were greeted by both fire ants and a cheerful Madhavi and Guan. Cabin set-up was relatively simple, I remembered enough sheets this time to give my bun privacy, and before long I was garbed up and ready to go! I had a nice chat with the gate staff which inspired me to write a short story which can be found here, and then I was up to the Feast Hall for prep with the next days meals.

After food prep was completed, I packed up my gear and headed down to the vigil site to spend some time with Signy. She had chosen to have a vigil prior to her elevation, and as such it was a great party and a wonderful time. I spent a good long time talking with her and Mistress Anne, picking their brains for why they chose what they did (Anne elevated on the spot while Signy asked for the vigil). It was fun to get the insight into why they chose what they did, I learned a lot about both of their persona's as well! It was nice to sit and chat with the people there as well, one of my favorite pastime's for the SCA is just to listen and learn.

Saturday came nice and early, and before I knew it I was up and awake in my new roman garb and cooking in the kitchen! Funny thing about roman attire, no pants. It was a bit uncomfortable at first, I was a touch nervous about cooking and being around dangerous things without pants on. But soon enough I was having a great time, I didn't even notice the lack of pants! The Regional Art/Sci went really well as it always does, I learn a lot from my mistakes and successes and my judges have for the most part been incredibly helpful and kind. During Art/Sci I had my fundraising lunch and judges lunch, a more complete write up for how that went can be found here, and it was a huge success! We sold out of lunch and raised 85 dollars for the Kingdom Warchest, and everyone really liked the noms to boot :). It was fun doing a period lunch, roman in design and style with the chicken recipe actually coming from a 4th century roman cookbook.

Feast prep went into the afternoon, so I sadly missed court, and before long the meal was served and consumed! The food did fairly well, everyone seemed to enjoy their meal and I thought it all tasted great. I think the mushroom and leek soup was my favorite dish, just because I love the hell out of leeks and mushrooms and the fresh broth just tasted so yummy with the two. I'll be doing another blog post on my impressions on the meal and feast on Sunday and it will link back to this post as well later on.

After Feast it was time for relaxing, for friendship and for ceremony. I was made the apprentice to Mistress Madhavi, a wonderful Laurel and great inspiration to me here on what I do. I can't do it justice here again, so I'll once again cop out and link to my original entry on that here, and hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

What a great event, one I hope to make for many years to come!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cooking wishlist

One of the things that always frustrate me is my lack of knowledge, the things I wish I knew how to do but haven't had the time/money/teacher show me how. One of the perks of having a Laurel in the SCA is of course having that great relationship with a teacher, and having someone to help point me towards other teachers of great skills! I need lists however, and I spent some of my downtime on Saturday at Michaelmass writing down a list of skills and arts I would love to learn! This is in no way shape or form in order, nor is this everything I'd like to learn, this is just me writing down as I thought "Man, wouldn't that be cool?!"

  • Eastern cooking (Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, etc)
  • Soap-making
  • Cheese-making
  • Herbal skills (identification, growing, drying for spices and teas, etc)
  • Calligraphy
  • Mead and Beer brewing
  • 14th century fishing
  • Book binding
  • Leatherworking
  • 14th Century Medicines
  • Herb Gardening

Like I said, not a complete list but a good start to begin my learnings in! I know several people I can poke for some of this, others I think I'll need to start asking around for.

I totally promise tomorrow to have a right-and-proper update with how Michaelmass went, but as you can see from all these various posts it was a lot!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Post-foodem: Michaelmas Lunch

So Wolfmom and I coined a term after Michaelmas, post-foodem. It's where the cook breakdowns what went right and what went wrong, and talks about what he or she learned from the process. I usually do this myself in my nifty brown book, but as this blog is for similar purpose (and sharing with my readers) I decided I'll be updating this here as well.

What went right:

  • Pre-planning was a huge key. Testing out the recipes and seeing what tasted good/what tasted off helped me with the final chicken product. Lots of communication with the Feastcrat and my mentor Wolfmom meant that I had a good idea on timetables/kitchen use and equipment to bring or would be provided.
  • Working with the Feastcrat for ingredients once again payed off. I was able to get a good chunk of chicken for cheap because she was purchasing chicken herself, which allowed me to purchase extra fruit to be consumed and keep the price low at 3 dollars.
  • The price point again seemed to be my big seller. At 3 dollars I wasn't asking for a terribly large amount of cash, so people seemed more eager and willing to pay it than had I offered upwards of 5 dollars. This was a strong factor in me selling out of lunch I feel.
  • Largess for all my volunteers was a great idea Not only did it make them feel good and appreciated, that I would given them some jewelry pieces for their hard work meant I had the same people volunteering to help ALL day and night, but it made me feel good to see them happy and ejoying the items I gave them. Heck, one young boy went ahead and made a necklace that day with the beads and pendant I gave him!
  • As far as the Luncheon goes, the table display was fantastic and really helped to set the mood. I had a couple judges come up to me and thank me for the spread, it looked just as visually appealing as it tasted, and I could not have pulled that off without the help of Thalassia who was able to come up with the roman-themed decor at the last minute to help.

What went wrong:

  • Assumptions were the biggest issue, overall. A few people who volunteered to help got pulled away at the last minute, which meant my timetables were in threat of going eyry. Thankfully I had started early and had extra volunteers on had to cover what I needed, but had neither of hose things happened I could have been in a pickle.
  • My math measurements were off, which was frustrating. I ran out of grapes before I did melons, which I shouldn't have had I done my math a bit better on my portioning. I know exactly what went wrong there, grapes don't fill a ladle because their solids and I'm a doofus for thinking otherwise, so that's an easy fix. I also ran out of wax paper wrap 8 sandwiches early, but that's because the bread was a bit wider that I had thought and took an extra inch of paper to cover properly.
  • Not having eyes on the Royals and Baron/Baroness was a pain. My contact with where they should have been had lost track of them, to make matters worse they had split up from where they were supposed to be so I had to send runners to locate them to bring them lunch.

Lessons learned:

  • Prepare enough largess to give to folks, its a great way to make them feel good about thier service for you and to earn you repeat volunteers when you sddeny find yourself needing to send runners across camp to locate royals.
  • Did I mention pre-palnning enough yet? Every time I've done it (all of 3, I know) it's paid off in spades, just mentioning again so I don't forget it.
  • Don't assume people will be there. Plan for them being distracted, taken away on another more important job or even just not on site yet. 
  • Stay hydrated! I got a little dizzy around 10am that day from lack of water, I made sure to sit and drink and felt right as rain shortly.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help, because people are always willing to do so if they're able!
  • People may not have the same tastes as you, do keep your fruits separated because people don't want their grapes and melons touching (Thanks Madhavi for that one!).
  • 5 days in advance is a slightly stressful time to try and throw together decor and setting for a judges luncheon to match your period-style lunch.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Storytime: Gate Duty

This story is dedicated to all of those hard working SCA members who spend countless hours manning our gates at events. Yours is an incredibly hard and often boring job, but necessary and I felt the best way to honor that work would be in this little bit of fiction.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

David Archer woke before the cocks call, sitting awake and alert as he did every morning. He slowly slipped from his bed, giving his lady a gentle kiss on the forehead to calm her as she stirred, before striding to his chest. He withdrew his simple clothes, making a mental note to have his lady repair a few threadbare patches, and dressed himself silently.

The glow of the Sun had just begun to creep over the treetops as David left the encampment. The only other person awake at this hour was Christoff, his shuffling stride towards the Feast Hall to continue the work of cooking the only visible track in the dew-soaked grass of the early morning. Allowing himself a yawn and a stretch, he likewise shuffled his way to the war wagon, withdrawing his arms and armor with ease. Dressing himself for battle, he slung his shield and sword over his back and marched the rest of the way to the massive gate that provided entrance to the greater Kingdom encampment as a whole.

Giving a grunt and a nod to the other gate guards, David relieved them of their posts and kept a wary eye as they shuffled off to sleep. Today was the day of a grand tournament, the King had lost his heir in the great War many years ago and many pretenders to the role clamored to be named heir to Trimaris. The King, wise and honorable, knew only his true heir could be victorious in the eyes of God and King so he established a tournament of arms to find his long lost heir. From all around Trimaris the populous would flow in, this was a grand spectacle that rarely occurred many times in a lifetime.

James and Adriano had both scoffed at David's insistence on taking so many shifts of gate duty, but allowed their brother to have his fun while they had theirs. As he settled in for a long morning, he heard the familiar sounds of Christoff's wagon being pulled along the dirt road and the wafting smell of fresh cooked meat. Smiling, he relaxed and laid his arms against the great gate. "Good morning Christoff, one day I think I shall wake before you do."

Christoff gave a chuckle, shaking his head at the Englishman. "I think not friend, this many of our countrymen here requires little sleep and much vork. I have brought ye breakfast though."

David grinned and eyes closed at the smell of the baked pork and strips of egg. He sat down along the road and began to eagerly dive in, happy that Christoff had brought him that Middle Eastern bean drink his Laurel had taught him of. Having his fill, he saluted the cook off and watched as Christoff wheeled his way to the next set of deliveries.

Before he could adjust to the full stomach and the hot beans could awaken him fully, David was startled as he felt a large brutish hand grasp the base of his neck and throw him into a tower. It seems a Troll had taken to moving into this valley, and the beast began to rage as it walked near as the smell of so many Christians sent it into a hunger frenzy. Unable to grasp his blade of helm, David scrambled to his feet as he pulled up his tower shield and promptly slammed it into the nose of the troll. The beast fell back and snarled, moving to grasp and squeeze the life out of David but he was too nimble and once again slid out of the way to slam the heavy shield into the shins of the beast. This game of cat and mouse carried on for several minutes before the first rays of sunlight poked through the trees. The sun had the affect David desired, instantly turning the beast to stone as it was in mid stride and ending its rampage.

Panting, David dropped the shield and caught his breath. Looking up at the fierce some creature now nothing but a stone statue, an idea sprung to mind. He sent a message via courier down to the children's hall to ask them to come paint the new statue as a gift for Their Majesties and then with a incredible show of strength drug the statue off the road and away from traffic.

Requiring his arms and helm, David Archer finally began his long day of action. As the sun rose high above the trees, peaking with rays of warmth that melted the fog, the first travelers began to pour in for the grand tournament. Much of the morning was spent simply waving and greeting, with the occasional check of a wagon or wildlife changed up the monotony of it all. The day seemed to be going smoothly, with reports that the Kings caravan was within a 2 hours walk David was hopeful that the trouble had already passed and the rest would be an easy day. If only.

Just before lunch and his relief was to arrive, a cry of fear arose from the caravan traveling in. A runner approached, eyes wide and said a wide wyvern had barreled out of the sky and was eating the oxen of some of the travelers. With the King just beyond the hill, David knew he did not have time to waste to protect not just the tournament but his King and Queen as well. David shelled off his armor and weapons, knowing the smell of iron angered the beasts, and ran as fast as his long legs could carry him.

The wyvern was beautiful, scales gleaming and wings wide and strong as it feasted happily on the oxen beneath its deadly claws. David kept a careful eye on the creature as he approached, knowing he would only have one chance. Running had caused him to sweat, and the smell of iron was rinsed from his body thus so sneaking up was thankfully an option. As he got close the wyvern suddenly snaked its head around to gaze at David, and without hesitating he knew he had to make his move. He leaps, the animals eyes blinking in surprise at the man who would dare to attack it. Before the beast could react David had his tree branch arms around its throat, grasping and squeezing tightly to try and knock the beast out. The wyvern struggled, throwing its neck back and forth and even slamming poor David onto the ground, but it dare not use its own claws for fear of killing itself. Minutes felt like hours, but finally the great beast ran out of air and with one last struggle collapsed unconscious on the ground.

Standing shakingly, David dusted himself off and winced at the bruise on his back. He turned to the owner of the now dead oxen and bowed. "My apologies on the loss of your oxen Milord, I will send a runner with a fresh team to pull you inside. If you wish, strap this beast down and take it with you inside. It will sleep for hours, and the Baron of Wyvernwood pays well for these captured and brought to him, enough to get a new team."

The man bowed and David limped back to the gate, grunting as he collapsed on his bench with his armor piled at his feet. Within minutes the sound of the Kings trumpets blared and he quickly redressed himself so he could salute and greet the King to assure him all was well with the tournament and the populous. The King smiled and thanked David, pulling a ring from his hand and personally placing it in the thankful mans hand.

As the King and his caravan road in, from behind him the soft footprints of his lady greeted him. He turned and gave her a chaste kiss, taking the plate of lunch from her and setting it on the nearby wooden table. David then allowed his relief guards come, taking over the gate duty so he could sit and enjoy a meal.

"I don't know how you can do this all the time, gate duty is so boring. Anything exciting happen yet, husband?" Adelyn asked as she nibbled on a section of cheese.

David gave a shrug and took a large bite of the beef. "Nothing unusual, just the same job as always."