MUSTARD!! An Ancient Condiment

Baroness Grimhildr laeknir, a lovely person in the Society for Creative Anachronism, used volunteers from our shire to test out her new class on making Mustard. This is REAL mustard, from Mustard seeds, the way it could have been done during the medieval period we study and enjoy. The best part is this condiment is period, so fits right into SCA event meals, but it is also so good you will want to use it regularly. Best mustard EVER.

We each got to try our hands at grinding with a mortar and pestle.

        This one belongs to Grimhildr. Worked MUCH better than my own tiny mortar and pestle.

There was a wonderful handout. Jars for each person, mustard seed in brown and white, your choice of vinegars, your choice of sweeteners (sugar or honey), and an assortment of seasonings you could add if you wished.

I used Apple Cider Vinegar, honey, and tarragon in mine. It was EASY, and fun. I had such a good time that I have purchased my very own mortar and pestle in granite so that the kids and I can make more at home.

The whole activity was organized sensibly. When we needed to let the ground mustard sit in a bit of water for awhile, she had more instructions to cover for the next step so there wasn’t any down time. She did a very good job and plans to teach the class at events. WELL worth your time and the small supply fee!

Meanwhile, I have a bunch of mustard seed and my new mortar and pestle waiting for me to do it again!


Recap some Blog Posts on Clothing

Every now and then a favorite blog of mine will make a post linking several other posts into one place for readers. I decided to imitate him and make my own page of links.

Laurel’s Prize Tourney:Garb Display Report

Resource for 11th Century Byzantine Garb


Children’s Clothing for SCA Events

Clothing and Trim

This collection brings to my mind that I need to get the camera out and photograph my collection of fabrics for garb, I need to lay out the pattern I am using for my tunics, and I need to do a series on making the garb.  It is about time I get into it. Wish me good results!

I note that I also need to add a blog post with a nice Bibliography. Best References edition!

Byzantine Dress by Jennifer Ball is my favorite book discussing secular dress from the perspective of the development of fashion.

By The Emperor’s Hand by Timothy Dawson is a good book focusing on military dress and other related clothing topics.

Dress in Anglo-Saxon England by Gale R. Owen-Crocker is a fabulous reference for early period clothing. It is the best starting point as it shows how to take the basic tunic and add to it with bags and shoes and other pieces of clothing that make your kit come alive.

Laurel’s Prize Tourney: FOOD!

The array of foods to try–oh wow! I didn’t even get to try all of it. I missed one because it was too early to eat when I was there, and I never got back to it, which grieves me.

I begin with the youngest to display. Roman Cooking demonstrated from more than one source is always a good beginning. Shannon of Fynnon Gath made a nice presentation and her samples tasted good.  I can see her being lauded for a feast in the future!

p1000167-2p1000169       Photos by Anna Maleine

Sigridr Ranglatr presented a beautiful selection of sweets that could be enjoyed on bread. I could very happily eat any of her delicious concoctions at a meal. She displayed her mortor and pestle which would have been a common kitchen tool in most of the SCA period.

p1000212 p1000213    Photo by Anna Maleine

Gaelan Garrett created samples of preserved foods. He cured meats and made fermented preserved items.  He also displayed samples of puddings and other period means of making certain foods taste good past their prime, and also to make them go further. This was the ONE food booth I intended to return to and sample and ran out of time. I sadly missed my chance to taste what promised to be very interesting dishes!

p1000268p1000269p1000272  Photos by Anna Maleine

Alianorra MacKkye presented deserts and a vinegar drink I could drink all day long. She had various candied fruits, and ginger, which I sampled. I did not try the meat dish, although I was tempted but I didn’t want to mess up her lovely spread before the Laurel’s got to see and taste it first.  I came back and refilled my drink cup from that cold vinegar beverage, shown in the glass container with spicket, several times over the course of the day. Yum!

p1000276p1000278p1000277p1000279  Photos by Anna Maleine

Marie de Girau presented SAUCES. The garlic green sauce was spectacular. The mild garlic sauce really didn’t have much garlic flavor, but was pleasant otherwise.  She made meatballs for the sauces, but I liked it on a cracker just fine. I think it would do fabulously well over any meat.  The mustard sauce was good, but the garlic sauce–wow!  She also does garb.

p1000285p1000287p1000288   Photos by Anna Maliene

Marianna de Salamanca did not cook food. Her display probably should not be in this blog post, but I have no idea where to put it.  She made things for the skin, things to make you smell good, things to freshen clothing, things for cleaning teeth, and other similar items.

p1000290p1000291p1000294p1000295p1000296p1000297p1000298                        Photos by Anna Maleine

This wraps up the Laurel’s Prize Tourney blog posts. I hope you enjoyed them, and I hope I did not make too many mistakes on names.  As of the time of writing this, I found one wrong name and changed what I wrote but that leaves me with another person whose name I did not get.  Not bad for my first time attempting to document this, one of my favorite events.

Laurel’s Prize Tourney: Armor, Weapons, Battles and the Horse

This is a broad category filled with some of my favorite displays. I placed only four artisans in this category. I wish I had been able to spend more time with them as their work is exciting!

Bridget Rede of Dunvegan’s display was located right at the door so there I began my day. A horse crazy gal from infancy, I have read and read and geeked out over horses my entire life so her display of all the things she had found that claimed to be period but she had shown were not period not only caught my eye but proved delightful. She had a nice selection of period literature and other documentation as well. I would love for her to dive in and MAKE a set of period tack so she can display what IS correct.

p1000265p1000264   Photos by Anna Maleine

Aubri de Baudrecourt had a display, complete with maps, of the battle of Lepanto. The degree of detail and his application of the techniques used to rapier showed a great deal of thinking had gone into this. I wish I had been able to talk with him more about his documentation and sources. He also was familiar with Chesterton’s epic poem about this battle and I rarely meet anyone who knows that piece.  Lepanto was one of those historic battles that saved Christian Europe from being conquered and nobody hears about it in history classes.

p1000206-1p1000209p1000208    Photos by Anna Maleine

Galen of Ockham displayed some lovely tools of navigation.

p1000215p1000216p1000217    Photos by Anna Maleine

Karl Thorgeirsson  displayed much of woodcraft, ranging from crossbow and musical instruments to chairs and drinking vessels. I did not get to ask him if he made every thing there. It looked like it. I also didn’t get to talk to him about the instrument. I wanted to pick it up and try it but without permission that wasn’t possible.  I’ll let the photos speak:



Finally, someone researching ancient roman armor. He had GREAT sources, fabulous documentation, eamples done period style and more of the substitute metal in which his project would be done. Only thing, I failed to get a name.  I love what he is doing. So, somebody tell me his name so I can friend him on facebook and pick his mind on books!


Laurel’s Prize Tourney: Heraldic and Scribal Arts

Scrolls galore!  I saw so many gorgeous, colorful, detailed and magnificent scrolls that my head spun and I could not have kept them all from blurring together with out the aid of my magic casket and its ability to store images.

I think I will begin with a single, random, framed, illumination displayed by Osama van der Linden:

p1000381p1000384      Photos by Anna Maleine

Aibhlin inghean Daibhidh is another artisan of the Scribal Arts, among other things:

p1000302p1000303   Photos by Anna Maleine

Biau-dou de la Mere is another artisan whose name uses the one letter my keyboard will not do– so my apologies.  I was fascinated by the many tiny bottles of colored inks, and the beautiful details in each illuminated page. I cannot imagine the patience it must take to create your own colors from what can be known from history.

p1000308p1000305p1000306p1000307              Photos by Anna Maleine

Elena Kirchenknopf does calligraphy, and illumination, but I found the calligraphy particularly handsome on this piece.

p1000378p1000377        Photos by Anna Maleine

This young lady, Deanna della Penna, has done a very nice job writing her icons. I do object to Our Lady of Guadalupe with lighter brown hair, icons are conservative and would be properly done with a very dark brown or black, but she had to use what her instructor gave her. I particularly like her tryptic in progress with the accompanying angel panel and the central panel of the Virgin Mary with Christ Child, already completed. She shows a talent for the work.  I hope very much to see where she takes it.

p1000343p1000346 p1000349p1000347p1000350p1000348                        Photos by Anna Maleine

Elena Wyth is another calligrapher whose work in color is lovely:

p1000198p1000197   Photos by Anna Meleine

Francisca Sastre de Arellano had a lovely abundance of beautiful scrolls to display. I particularly liked her documentation. I hope I did her work justice with my images:

p1000170p1000172p1000173    Photos by Anna Maleine

Hillary Rose Greenslade is the last of the scribal to share here. She showed many beautiful pieces:

p1000185p1000187p1000188    Photos by Anna Maleine

I am not certain where to categorize this beautiful work in glass. It glows with light, as does an Illumination. It is a story written in glass which in the West did a similar job of catechizing that the Icon did in the East. So I am including the work of…. uh-oh, I seem to have failed to get his name card! Please let me know who he is if you know! The work is lovely.

p1000274p1000275-1p1000273      Photos by Anna Maleine


Laurel’s Prize Tourney: Fiber Arts Part II

There were so many beautiful displays of fiber arts that it took more than one post to cover them all. Even so, I may have managed to miss someone. Stellar Event!

This artisan was absent from her table when I arrived to take photographs, but Jean Marie Laverriere’s delicately beaded linen caught my eye. I didn’t get to ask about the pretty pieces but it was easy to get a photo or two without anyone blocking my path.

p1000253p1000256p1000255   Photos by Anna Maleine

HL Miriam Armstrong attended with her mother. I liked the drum in the midst of the lovely stitching.

p1000237p1000240p1000241p1000239  Photos by Anna Maleine

Bertina Battista had a basket of colorful yarn that I so badly wanted to sink my hands into!! Lovely colors and they looked so soft.

p1000245p1000242p1000243p1000244   Photos by Anna Maleine

Emelisse de Loupey had displays about dyes and their effects. I failed to do a close-up of the framed portion of the display. I humbly apologize for that failure.

p1000246p1000247p1000248   Photo

This is the last of the artisans I collected as Fiber Arts. Short post, but the other was as long as I ever make them. So here, is the last, the work of: Ealasaid Mac al Bhaired (al Aeryn)

p1000386p1000385p1000388p1000387  Photos by Anna Maleine

This wraps up the Fiber Arts– unless I find pictures that I haven’t already put into one of the posts.  My eyes a blurry from staring at so many images, trying to guess which fit together and which artisan goes with which name.  As I said before, if you see an error, please let me know.


Laurel’s Prize Tourney: Fiber Arts Part I

Fiber Arts: such a vast array of arts are encompased by this name. There are those who begin with the wool, but a few begin with the sheep! Still others begin with the yarns, dying them to produce colors typical for the period.  Whether you grow the fibers or begin with a thread all ready to weave, the artists in this category make so much of the atmosphere of an event. Let us begin!

Here is Czina Angielcyzka whose rows of lovely woven trims stood out for me. Having tried my hand at making trim, my respect for those who have done multiple projects with a loom have my highest respect!

p1000159p1000160     Photos by Anna Maleine

This fiber arts table had a lot to offer. Sadly, I only managed a couple of close-ups before moving on. From lovely stiching to dyed wools, this colorful delight is the display of Aislynn ni Cahill:

p1000174p1000175   Photos by Anna Maleine

I caught this very colorful display by Eireann Hviturhrafn without the presence of the artisan. This is sad because it is both a fiber display and it seems some sort of food display.

p1000177p1000178   Photos by Anna Maliene

Judith de Saint Clare had another bright display. I especially liked that the table-cloth made all the items on it stand out, including her name tag.

p1000190p1000191    Photos by Anna Maleine

Safiya Spizega’s display of trims was delightful. She has some nice details in her work:

p1000200p1000202   Photos by Anna Maleine

Elsa von Schmmach displayed some lovely socks! I always love the period clothing that is difficult because it so rarely gets a mention in the records!

p1000210p1000211     Photos by Anna Maleine

This artisan must be known by her tag on her table for I fear there is a single key on my computer which refuses to work, and it is in her name!  Hetilda Corbett I do apologize for the error in your name.  Your wire work and weaving were lovely!

p1000225p1000223p1000226p1000224   Photos by Anna Maleine

This gentleman had a nice array of wool. I love wool. I took pictures of his wool. I took pictures of him with his wool. However, I failed to take a picture of the green tag with his name!!

p1000227p1000229p1000230    Photos by Anna Maleinep1000231p1000228

Eleanora Elizabeth Caley presented both clay pots and woven pieces. I did not know where to look! I took several pictures and I hope you enjoy them.

p1000233p1000236p1000235p1000232p1000234     Photos by Anna Maliene



Laurel’s Prize Tourney: Garb Display Report

OK, it is late, but here is my report on the Laurel’s Prize Tourney.  I took lots of pictures. I tried to get the name tag and the artisan together in my images. PLEASE, if I have erred, DO comment and set me straight! After all, there were nearly 60 artisans with displays.

I shall start with a lovely dress, hats and the artisan Murienne Corbeau: murienne-corbeaudiscussing-headgear-at-laurel-prize-tourney-murienne-corbeau-and-mistress-kaitlyn    hat-with-furwig-dressed-murienne-corbeauPhotos by Anna Maleine

This is the display of Isabelle de Calais.  She was very kind and sewed my bun into place as was done in my period. It stayed so well that I had quite a time getting it taken out again!  Just shows that the ancients knew a thing or two about how to do hair. As you can see, she has some lovely pieces of clothing included in her wider display.

p1000261p1000260     Photos by Anna Maleine

Staying with the theme of clothing: Here is Masina da Ferrara. She had researched and recreated a dress. She had run into difficulties which she discussed with a Laurel who specializes in garb. The Laurel was impressed with her attention to detail and believes she is going to be someone to watch.  I thought her hair decoration was particularly lovely so I include a photo that shows it better.

p1000324p1000327p1000333         photos by Anna Maleine

That doublet was quite something! Wish I had gotten a close up.  Here is the display of Simona della Luna. Sadly, I did not get to study her display over-much, and all I can say is that her period is much later than my own. 🙂  She even had her own card!

p1000180p1000179p1000182    photos by Anna Maleine

SHOES!!  The artisan Daire de Haya, and a display of shoes. He included his mistakes as well as his successes to demonstrate the learning process. I was able to sit down with this fine gentleman and talk about his work.  I found him courteous and patient with my questions. I was able to handle some of the display and see how the pattens, those wooden things they slipped over their shoes to protect them from the mud, were hinged. My main thought was that when we get rain here, the mud is too deep for those to be of much good– so maybe that is why the Dutch had wooden shoes to completely cover their shoes?

p1000257p1000316p1000258 p1000317p1000318   Photos by Anna Maleine

I recall one or two other instances of garb which for reasons of busy crowds, I seem not to have gotten any images of them. Here is a gown by Lady Marie de Girau, whose display was mostly food, and so in another blog post. Following the gown, I have several pictures of a display, and a close up of a book, and the artisan–but missed her name. Beautiful work, and probably not in the right blog post.


Here I end my first report. Pray tell me if I have erred on names!

Creating a Persona: Chunks of Time

History is chunked up into periods of time. Usually, when doing an over-view, it is broken down into centuries (like the 13th) or into large scale movements (Renaissance) or into governments (Reign of Basil II) or into cultures (Roman, Eastern Roman).  Last week I discussed several possible starting points for persona development.  This week, let us talk about Centuries as a means of measuring history.

Start with a century, say the 13th. Much happened during that century. And, because the division of time into centuries is random in relation to events and movements, there may be elements that begin in the century before, or begin in the 13th and end in the following century.

A person living in a particular place and time is shaped by the culture, government, religion, and even by the food supply. All of these can be studied by themselves, and when hunting books on these topics, most will cover a lot more time than your one century. In fact, you may find only a paragraph or two that directly addresses the 13th century!

This is when we learn to look to earlier periods, knowing that if we can document, say, a particular food, as having been grown locally or imported, and eaten 100 years before, there is a good chance that our persona may know of it and eat it.  But if the food, say Brussels Sprouts, did not develop until the 15th century, you can safely say your persona did not eat it in the 13th century.

Or, considering Byzantine garb, looking at fabrics that might work, we can document roundels that line up in neat rows both vertically and horizontally, to the 10th century, but offset rows of roundels do not show up until late 11th or 12th century.  Our 13th century Byzantine could be found wearing either.  Museums are fabulous for researching this.

Books will not usually focus on your century alone. Most books on a narrow topic will cover a wider time period. However, getting the bibliographic information and a photocopy of the sections useful to you, stapling them and hole punching for a notebook, is a fast way to start your documentation.

Many people have chosen a century and had a wonderful time developing a persona based on that narrow bit of time.  Perhaps you are one of them who will.

Creating a Persona: Starting Points

Persona Development– where to begin? The answer to this question is amazingly diverse.  It begins with, “what do you like?” and “what do you want?” and everything else will follow.

Case: a lovely member of the SCA is into spinning and weaving. She finds a particular period in which the methods and materials are well documented and dives into a new aspect of her passion for spinning. She learns to card weave to produce her own trim, which she is careful to match fiber to fiber so that everything shrinks at the same rate. She studies period methods of dyeing the fiber. She gets a small period correct loom. She makes some garb to go with this persona.

Case: a gentleman takes up the practices of Chivalry. He goes to fighter practice, loves it, and makes his own armor.  He stays with it, wearing the same simple t-tunic he sewed first. However, he discovers a book by Dr. Timothy Dawson titled, ARMOUR NEVER WEARIES SCALE AND LAMELLAR ARMOUR IN THE WEST FROM THE BRONZE AGE TO THE 19TH CENTURY.  He is hooked on lamellar armour.  He creates his own armor and that requires some new garb. He discovers Sartor, a fabric company that recreates period fabrics and gets a piece of brocade from his period and culture and uses it to trim his “court garb”. Suddenly his persona has begun to develop!

Case: a young college student comes to a garb session and sits down with some books that trace clothing styles through various time periods and cultures.  She spots a dress. THE dress, that dress that she wants bad enough to buy linen instead of cheaper cotton, and spend hours sewing.  The DRESS sets her time period and culture. From there she learns about the foods available and how they were preserved and joins the cooking guild. She even hunts down some herbs that were commonly used by her persona and grows them in pots on the window sill of her apartment.


The photos are by Anna Maleine and were taken at the Laurel’s Prize Tourney in Ansteorra. This is the artisan Murienne Corbeau discussing her work with Mistress Kaitlyn.

My last case is me. I am fascinated by the writings of Early Christians.  In grad school the course was Patristics. The Cappadocian Fathers were incredible to read and fascinating to learn about. I wanted my persona to read, and to live where she could read early Christian writers like these.  So, Eastern Roman, 10th century during the reign of an emperor powerful enough to secure the borders and create peace enough for a reflowering of learning and art.

Geography, Culture, Art, Clothing, Armor, Method of fighting (rapier is later period), Equestrian, Fiber Arts, Ethnicity, Gardening, Cooking, Metal Working, Wood Working, Chivalry, Knights, Education, Books, Authors, Artists….the starting points are as varied as the amazing people who enter the SCA.

Have fun!