Monday, December 31, 2012

That time of year, again

It's 4 am and I'm awake due to a food allergy. It seems that I get to start the year, again, with a new food allergy. Honestly, I thought I had something with a hint of dairy in it. Not enough to make me fully sick, but enough to let me know to never, ever eat that again. Whatever "that" is. However, everything I ate yesterday was stuff I made.

I made bread, cake, cookies - all with ingredients I hand picked out. However, the bread I made was with a new recipe.

Honey Oatmeal Bread sounds good and it is! I ended up making two wonderful loaves. I froze one and started to pick at the other before I went to bed. Here's where the food allergy came into play - I didn't use just rolled oats. I used a 7 grain rolled oats plus barley, spelt, wheat, and a few other grains.

I looked up information on my food allergy symptoms to see if a grain allergy could be confused with a dairy allergy and yeap, it totally can. *sigh* Now, of course, this doesn't mean that I can't have bread anymore - just not the rolled stuff I used. Whole wheat and bread flour are still perfectly fine. My guess is that it might have been either the spelt or triticale or maybe the grain itself was exposed to milk and the company just didn't put that on there for some reason. Who knows! All I know is I really hope the allergy pills take effect soon.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

I should be sewing...

First Chocolate Peppermint Martinis!!! I must try this. It's a vegan recipe which means it's great for those of us with diary allergies.

Second, I'm watching extreme couponing and getting ideas. One of the episodes had a vegan lady on the show - who clearly didn't actually follow the vegan diet despite her tattoos (sorry, m'dear, but Ranch dressing? Buttermilk. Not vegan.). However, she did have some really good advice on how to coupon when you are on a specialty diet. I've spent most of the afternoon signing up for coupons from my favorite brands of sugar, flour, and other staples. I probably won't go for $2000 worth of groceries for $25 (I don't have the room!) but saving a few bucks would be nice.

Third, I should be sewing. I know I should. I should be cutting stuff out. I should be working on either one of my friends' outfits, Mom's dress, or my Catherine Parr gown. I have a ton of stuff to sew but no motivation whatsoever. Blah. Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Well, there goes that

I had to end this particular food experiment early. It wasn't that doing the $30 a week wasn't possible - it was- it was that the headache I was literally getting from not having caffeine in my system didn't let up in the 12 days I had been doing this. It would be manageable after the first three or four days but I think that was mostly due to the chocolate brownies I had on hand. Yesterday, it got so bad I realized it was ridiculous to let this go on while being in physical pain like that.

Yes, this means I should lower my caffeine intake - but gradually. Now that I've had a Pepsi in my system I feel 100% better. No headache! And I'm not grumpy! Yay! :-) (For those that know about my millions of allergies, we have Pepsi Throwback at work. It makes me happy.)

Oh well, I did learn a lot in the past 12 days beyond the whole caffeine thing. I do need to think a lot more when going grocery shopping and manage that aspect of the budget better. I need to plan out my meals at least four days ahead of time and keep a list of what I need and what I have in my house already.

Tonight is still beef stroganoff. :-) And I might actually work on Christmas Cards or sewing or both! Yay!!!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Yay! Money!

I went grocery shopping today and got olive oil, a big jar of yeast for all the bread I keep making, eggs, mushrooms, onion salt, and tried to get ground beef.   Unfortunately, even after I figured out that 85% would do (I prefer 93% lean) I saw two blue dots on the meat.  Of the many colors I have seen on meat, the same color as my bedroom walls is not one I have seen before.  I handed it to the cashier who agreed, that ain't right.  :-)

Anyway, the total this week thus far is $24.08.   (I got flour and chocolate chips yesterday)  I have enough to get some ground beef elsewhere for beef stragonoff this week but today, I got a lovely little check from my local grocery store.   My grocery store is a co op so if you have a membership, you get to share in the profit.  yay!  My share is very small (it is just me) but still, I have a check for $22.48.  Now, the question is, should I use it while I'm doing this $30 a week or wait until next week before I go to New York to use for snacks?

Oh, and I'm waiting for the bread to rise now.  :-)   Whole wheat this time. 

Maybe I should end this experiment early...

I tried to make bread with the natural leavening I had been working on and...yeah.  No.  So I don't have bread today.   This could mean no lunch.   However, I do have some stew left and some soup so maybe I should just take that in?  I suppose that will work and I can stay on this $30 a week plan.   I did spend $6 last night on flour and chocolate chips.  I need to make cookies for this week tonight.   :-)

Tonight's plan:

Go grocery shopping
Cut out dress for friend and start sewing it up
Bake bread
Bake cookies!


...Yeah, I doubt the last one will happen either.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I cheated, sort of

So, today is Sunday meaning it is a "feast" day.  And man, I feasted.  Okay, so part of the reason is I went to Harpers Ferry.  This meant eating out which isn't the big feasting part.  The big feasting part is that the Antique Candy Store is still there!  They just moved but they do still exist and, of course, I bought EVERYTHING.  Sugared rose petals, sugared violets (yes, Jenny-Rose, I got some for you!), my bubble gum, maple candy, candy canes, vanilla sticks, peppermint sticks; every single candy I love.

Now, of course, a lot of this is actually for Christmas and I'll probably only bring out pieces on Sundays for Advent and once Christmas gets here.  Or, really, Dec 20th because I'm going to NYC that day and that's when this latest project will end. 

Oh well, going to bake some bread for tomorrow. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mid Week report

I'm technically $1.59 over budget. I'll take it out of next week's total allowance. Darn olives! However, I think I needed the iron (black olives) badly after the lovely caffeine withdrawal headache. I was not a happy camper on Monday.

Living off of $30 a week for food is not easy but it's not impossible either. I've been having fun using up a lot of my kitchen stock to make various things. Today, I'm making bread (ran out this morning after making a sandwich for work) and vegan brownies. I had to use 1 cup of raw sugar and 1 cup of white sugar rather than a full 2 cups of white sugar because I ran out. Oh well. One of the things to add to the list. The batter for the brownies tasted delicious so I'm very hopeful for how they will come out.

I plan on taking a couple with me to work for my lunch. That plus a sandwich should be fine as well as my thermos of water I've been using. I think the hardest part of limiting myself to only $30 a week has been not being able to grab that soda or juice. Right now, I'm limited to water. I plan on making some iced tea which might help. However, not having the caffeine from the soda was painful this week. Literally.

For the bread, I'm basing it off of this recipe but with a slight bit more water and less flour since I don't have a bread machine. We'll see how it works out. The dough is "resting" on top of the fridge until I decide it's big enough to cook. :-) Then, I'll throw it into the bread pan and cook it up for a half hour or so. Hopefully, this will end up being a good recipe to use! Otherwise, I have no idea what I'll use for a sandwich tomorrow...

EDIT: The brownies? fail. I mean, they are edible - being vegan and all- but rather than gooey - they just aren't cooked. The edges are cooked to the point they are almost burnt but the center remained...doughy. I have been eating them and they taste good so I'm tempted to change up the recipe like a lot of other have and use less oil or use applesauce instead.

The bread? PERFECT! I mean beyond delicious as well. I ate the nub the second it came out of the oven and oh my! I think this might become my favorite go to recipe for now on when I need a loaf of sandwich bread. It tastes great with my simple oil and Italian spices dip as well.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

First day of Advent

Yesterday afternoon, I made bread. See?

homemade white  bread

This is something I started right before Thanksgiving because finding good bread when you are allergic to both milk and corn is difficult. It's also expensive. Given how cheap bread flour is, I've given up on buying bread and decided a couple of weeks ago just to make it myself. Glad I already had a glass pan for bread my Mom gave me a while back. ;-)

The bread recipe I used can be found at the simple dollar. I made only a few minor changes due to my allergies. First, I used olive oil rather than butter. Second, I used original, unsweetened, Almond milk rather than milk. Third, I dipped the spoon I used to stir the yeast and water together in honey. Yeast loves sugar. I do too. :-)

The bread itself is basic white bread. It slices really well and tastes like white bread. It's nothing special but it is excellent for sandwiches.

Today, I went grocery shopping after Church. Although I'm not supposed to spend more than $30 in a week, I had to give myself a slightly higher threshold today only because I used cash. So, I couldn't spend more than $20. (I probably could spend more than that but I have to pick up Ginsie's meds tomorrow and I need the rest of the cash I had on hand to pay for those so...)

NOTE: If you are squeamish about seeing raw ground hamburger or hot dogs, speed past the next picture. Don't worry, it's still in the package but I did want to put a warning.


I actually had to think about what I wanted to eat this week when I entered the grocery store. Normally, I go in, grab whatever looks good with the thought that "Hey, I can freeze that!" or I can throw it away if I don't eat it in a certain amount of time. According to one report I recently saw, Americans throw out 40% of the food they buy because it just rots. I know I am one of those that does that, sadly.

Since I need to actually eat whatever I end up buying, I figured my beef stew would be a good, wholesome, and oh so delicious with the bread I made meal for dinner. I typically make enough to last for four nights. Since I have cut up chicken in the freezer and chicken noodle soup in a can (OMG! A soup without corn! I found it!), I can probably figure a way to get by the rest of the week without buying that bacon that was calling to me.

Unfortunately, as the picture does show, I forgot to buy olives. D'oh! Oh well, the grand total came up to $17.36 so I'm sure I can stop by and get olives tomorrow after buying Miss Ginsie's meds. (The reason I'm using cash is it makes me think about how much I'm spending. Unlike with the cards. Of course, during the next couple of weeks, I'll used the cards for Christmas gifts but not for food. It just makes it easier for me to consciously track my spending by watching it leave my wallet.)

The apples are for dessert. I have a ton of honey and this very interesting sunflower almond granola that might make a yummy topping for an apple tart/pie/pasty concoction. The red onion is for when I fry up some potatoes and probably some carrots too. Yummy! I might need to get more mushrooms but those are for the stew.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


During the middle ages and today, Advent is the time leading up to the birthday of Christ. It's meant to be a time of joy but also of reflection. Because of that, in the middle ages, they had "fish days" and "feast days" through out the Advent season. Unlike with Lent, during Advent, fish days simply meant no meat. Milk, cheese, and eggs all seem to still be on the menu.

Although I do plan to try a couple of "fish day" recipes during Advent, what I thought might be more interesting is an attempt to live more simply when it comes to food. I've been spending the equivalent of almost half of my monthly mortgage payment on food. Yes, it's pretty ridiculous. So, going with the "reflection" theme, I thought it might be a good idea to try to live the "food stamp" way as many politicians and activists have been pledging to do.

For me, this is NOT political but just something I see as a personal challenge. In Maryland and VA, the average person can get around $130 per a month in food stamps. That means about $28.88 a week for my area ($130 divided by 4.5 weeks). For simplicities sake, I'm going to try to spend absolutely no more than $30 on food per a week, leading up to Christmas. This is meant only to see if I could actually do this myself given I know many people in my area are living off of food stamps.

Anything I have in the house currently won't count towards the weekly total. Also, this means I'll be a grouch because no more sodas until Christmas (unless I don't buy them. If I'm offered a soda, it's fair game.). I've already decided I'm baking my own bread. I absolutely love the bread I've been baking and figure it's a good way to save money as well. I've already started on my first medieval bread experiment. I started a natural leaven pot three days ago. It's been growing and bubbling like it should. Only a week more to go before I can dry it and use it rather than yeast. (I'll also be doing a medieval bread with modern yeast versus medieval bread with natural leaven test that will be interesting, hopefully!)

This will also force me to take my lunch to work -something I've been trying to do anyway- and bake a lot more. It's far cheaper to cook your own food than to have someone else do it for you.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Baking Experiment! White Cake Recipe

Although I am not vegan, I do have a pretty serious milk allergy so I need to avoid milk at all costs.   Otherwise, it's crying in a corner for three days with intense gastrointestinal distress.   I don't want to do that, again.  It's basically like having food poisoning for three days.  Not fun. 

So, I've been learning about all sorts of milk and dairy substitutes from vegan websites.  It's been immensely helpful.  However, since I also have a corn allergy, sometimes I have to get very creative.   It means I've been baking a lot ever since back in March when I figured out that the reason for most of my problems was butter.  Grr....

Today, I wanted to try to bake a white cake.   Baking one from scratch isn't very hard and it makes sure that you know EXACTLY what is in it.   You wouldn't believe what is in a cake mix box....

I found this recipe on that looked really good:

  • 1 cup white sugar

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 cup milk
The problem is that I can't have butter, I need to make my own baking powder unless I buy the special stuff at the organic market and I can't have milk.  To add to the fun of this experiment, I decided to make it vegan which means no eggs either.

Here's what I used instead:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup of Coconut Spread
  • 4 tablespoons of applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose organic King Arthur's flour (it's much better than the other generic stuff I get at the store)
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons of my baking powder (1/2 baking soda, 1/4 cream of tartar, 1/4 arrowroot powder)
  • 1/2 cup of Vanilla Almond milk

I followed the rest of the directions but with the subsitutes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.

Let me just say I'm baking it now but I tried the batter. YUM!!!  I really hope that the cake is fluffy and not flat.  The batter itself (no eggs so take that FDA!) was absolutely delicious.  I was worried because I've never used the coconut spread before however, based solely upon the taste of the batter, I think I need to buy stock in the stuff.   It didn't taste like coconut at all.  I did taste the apple sauce a bit - it was spiced apple sauce- but really, it's a fall cake.   It's fine.  Spicy cinnamon sorta white looking cake is still perfectly edible. 

I've used the almond milk many times before.  I got addicted to the stuff back in Feb and March when I was doing the Lenten Medieval diet thing to figure.   It's great to make hot chocolate with.  :-)   The baking powder is something I read up on online.   A lot of baking powder is just baking soda with cornstarch.  Since I have a corn intolerance (it's a borderline allergy really but I can have a small amount without my system going out of wack), I can't have the cornstarch.  There are some cornstarch free baking powders available but making my own is a lot cheaper.   It's easy to make; just shift together a mixture that is 1/2 baking soda, 1/4 arrowroot powder, and 1/4 cream of tartar.   I have a nice big plastic cup of the stuff right now that should last me through the New Year. 

I promise a follow up post on how the cake actually tastes.  I'm taking it to work tomorrow so we'll see how everyone at work reacts.  :-)

EDIT: I used this recipe for the vegan chocolate icing because what is white cake without chocolate icing?


  • 2 cups organic powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) dairy-free soy margarine, softened
  • ¼ cup plain unsweetened almond milk or soymilk
  • ¾ cup unsweetened pure cocoa powder
  • ½ t. vanilla


1. In a medium-large mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer, cream the powdered sugar with the soy margarine until mixture is thick but well combined. Add the almond milk, cocoa powder and vanilla, and continue to mix until smooth.

I used the coconut spread rather than soy margarine party because it's what I had on hand but also because the soy margarine has corn in it.   The coconut spread doesn't which is why I decided to try it to begin with.

I've iced the cake now using this recipe for chocolate icing.  Oh my!  If you like dark chocolate fudge, then you will LOVE this.   It's ridiculously yummy.   Seriously, if my dairy allergy disappeared tomorrow, I don't think I could go back to normal icing after this.    It's very thick, creamy, and tastes like fudge.    I hope the guys at work like it too!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Tudors

Not the real Tudors but that horrible, revolting TV show that blatantly uses the name of the dead to advocate modern Hollywood values. Yeah, I really don't like the show. However, I did see a few of the costumes for it on my recent trip to Ireland and think others might enjoy seeing them. At least from a costuming aspect.

Ireland 218

I know, it's blurry. I promise the majority aren't! The pictures for the Tudor TV show costumes start with that one and end with this one:

Ireland 263

Some other good photos include:

Ireland 227


Ireland 222

Take a look!

How to Use the MET site

If you've tried to use the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the past year, you know it is horrible. Last year, they changed their search functionality so it's near impossible for the average costumer to find that specific Elizabethan jacket anymore and, very recently, they deleted everything in my "MyMet" page. Yes, they've now added pinterest for the adoring masses (and not Tumblr or LJ or blogger or...)but it annoys me that I have to go and find all those 16th and 18th C pieces I had saved in MyMet again.

At least, with the search functionality, I have talked to the computer guys behind it. I asked them what the heck they were thinking and wrote a long rant about how I couldn't find anything back in January - never expecting a response. Well, I got one. :-)

Hi Isabella, Cogapp forwarded your message to me. Thanks for sending it in. The ability to sort by date is possibly the most frequently requested feature in the new collections search.

I have a couple responses to your query.

First, you can search by narrower ranges of dates, just not exactly how you expect. Go to the Collections main page ( and click on the When tab under “Search Collections By:.” There, you can enter specific dates or ranges of dates for your search. Then you can narrow down the search later with the Who/What/Where/In the Museum tabs that come up on the results page.

We know that this is not ideal always, but if you really are looking for specific dates, it works most of the time. Give it a try and let me know what you think, or if you have any questions.

Second, we are adding a Collections Advanced Search function to the site. I don’t know when exactly, but in the next few months. It will allow you to do much more specific searches and will allow you to sort results by date.

Finally: you asked why we built the search this way. While I think we misjudged a little and as a result we are adding back the “sort by date” function, the truth is that very few of our searches and result sets benefit from sorting. Consider a search for “Claude Monet,” one of the more frequent searches on the site. Today it returns 1278 results. If I were to sort it by date, it would only be helpful for the first 100 objects or so, because clicking through dozens of pages is less preferable than narrowing the search down further. Similarly, if I look at all the works made with “Oil paint” (*&what=Oil+paint) I get 2,025—sorting by artist name at that point would be mostly frustrating, and instead it is better to refine the search.

So basically it’s about two things:

1. The overwhelming size of our collection.

2. Our desire to steer people toward more useful ways of searching such vast numbers of objects.

For example, if I continued to narrow down that list of oil paintings with a “Where” setting of “United Kingdom” and then selected “A.D. 1600-1800” under “When,” I have a manageable list of 58 works. So we do hope people will prefer that narrowing function—it’s more practical more often, but moreso, it offers a way to understand our overwhelming collection as a set of sensible, well-catalogued works of art.

You will still argue that sorting it by date would be useful, and I agree. We’ll add it back to the advanced search when it launches!

:-) I've tried it many times now and it works! You can now use a "between" dates function that is, very, very close to what is needed. Yay! So, if you are searching the the MET, try going to "When" and then "Search Collections By:"

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What I wore to Dress U


This was Firday night and I was very very unhappy about the way the blouse came out. As you can see, the bodice came out well - after two weeks of tweeking it- and the skirt was okay, but the blouse made me cry. :-( The bodice kept giving me issues to the point I really couldn't play with the blouse as well - I just didn't have the time. I'll play with it now that I do have time, once I get around to wearing it again.


Saturday morning, I was much happier. This is my Edwardian Tea Dress that I made a few years ago. I had just bought a pair of wonderful leather gloves in the photo which is why I'm looking very silly. :-) The tea dress is almost all other people's stash fabric. I can't recall exactly whom I received the main white embroidered from, but it works really well for the main body of the dress. The lacy center was from Loren's stash. The orange I think I bought off of ebay for a completely different project and it was too orange - not pink like I wanted. It's a fun, simple, dress.


For the afternoon, I wore my Edwardian Bathing Suit. It had issues but all of them were well hidden beneath the over-swimdress. Basically, I added the corset to the combinations way too low so I couldn't get it to close up or sit properly. I managed to fiddle a way to wear the outfit but I need to fix the combinations so I can wear the bathing outfit properly.

The super secret Titanic Ghost outfit! I knew there would be a lot of lovely outfits at the Titanic Dinner Party so I decided to do something a bit different. I came as a ghost from the Titanic! The dress is from an old sari I distressed and pieces of very old Edwardian sheer fabric I got from someone that was selling all there grandmothers old sewing stash. The fabric was already distressed so it worked really well.

The make up is white face clown make up, old silver eyeshadow for around the eyes, silver eye liner, and a lot of glitter glue and crystals. I also had glitter hairspray. My roommates managed to put up with me and all the glitter I got all over the bathroom floor before I left for the party.


This is my Lolita Regency outfit. I made the dress last year and never got a chance to wear it. It's made out of off white silk with a red poly satin ribbon around the base of the dress. My hair - I used soft curlers after washing my hair of all the glitter the night before.


My Mad Hatter outfit! It's based off of me wanting a cupcake on my head and the movie Dangerous Beauty. The outfit is out of an embroidered silk. The sleeves are out of metallic silk organza. I wore this Sunday afternoon - even through my extant gowns class although I lost the hat by that point. That would just be ridiculous! ;-)


I wasn't happy with the bodice on this one but the skirt came out lovely. The outfit is based off of Anna's ball gown in Van Helsing. It's out of some wonderful Red Silk my Mom and Cousin managed to get for me in LA. I just need to re-do the bodice (I used a simplicity pattern that came out a bit too big) and it should be a pretty decent outfit. My tiara was from ebay. :-)

That's it for my entire wardrobe during Dress U. I had a lot of fun at the event and I really hope to be able to go and teach again next year.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How'd you find that?!? Or how to search for costume related items.

At Dress U, I taught a class regarding using search engines like Bing and Google as well as searching on ebay for costume related items. Basically, it was about learning various formulas that work in the search engines to better refine your searches. I've included examples and hope this is clear. Please, feel free to comment with any questions!

Quotation marks:

         ""s around a word or phrase help to look for that EXACT item.   Capitalization isn't important but spelling is.   Using quotes around a phrase helps immensely when looking for something like examples of a Robe a l'anglaise. In any search box, just use "Robe a l'anglaise" to find the 18th Century fitted back gowns.   On both google and bing, it will come up with appropriate links as well as images.

The beloved minus sign:
       I <3 the - sign in searching.  I use it rather liberally and suggest everyone else to do so as well.   The - is used to get rid of terms you don't want.   So, let's say you are searching for a green dress but you don't want a yellow one.   Your search term would be as follows "green dress" -yellow.  This way, anytime yellow shows up on a webpage with the phrase green dress, that webpage will not be included in your results.   You don't have to use exact phrasing (quotes).
     On eBay, they have an even more sophisticated method.  If you are searching for a green dress but not any other colors, all you need to do is the following green dress -(yellow, blue, red, pink, orange, purple, black, white).  Ebay will allow up to 10 search terms inside the parenthesis. For both Bing and Google you need to add a - before each term.  Also, both Bing and Google seem to have a lower limit for the amount of negative terms you can add.  

It was just here, on this site, I know it!
     We've all been there.  You see something pretty, think "Oh, that's nice", continue on your merry way only to think you might want to bookmark that site later's gone.  The item you just saw - that black 18th C gown or that lovely silk fabric- is no where to be found now and you can't recall exactly how you got to it in the first place.  The site: function is for you.
       In the search box of either Bing or Google (I'm sure it works on Yahoo and Ask as well) type the following blue silk and it will search the entire Met museum for any page that contains the words both blue and silk somewhere on it.   This function is only good, however, if the page itself is public and not private (ie, doesn't work quite as well on blogs.)

I kinda sorta think maybe this or this or that but they all mean the same thing...

   As we all know, in the costuming world, we can very easily have ten terms that mean the exact same thing.  On one page a dress might be called a gown, a robe, formal attire, ect.   You want to be able to find all the terms that refer to that one item.  Rather than doing multiple searches, just use the ~.   By placing the ~ before a term, it means "like".   So ~dress will also search for, at least, gown.   It's basically pulling from a thesaurus and looking at every similar term.  

All I know is it was some PDF that had pretty pictures

   This is something I've done.  You find a pdf that has awesome research and your computer dies on you or you otherwise forget to save it.  You have NO idea where the pdf was hosted, all you know is it had information on your topic and it was a specific type of file that was not a webpage.   Filetype: can be used with any file type.   Let's say you saw a nice Word doc on women's renaissance shoes but you can't find it again - just type into your search bar filetype:doc renaissance shoes and it should find the file for you.   If the file was a pdf, then use filetype:pdf renaissance shoes .  It works very well in both Google and Bing.

I only want to see items from the 1880's!

   Trying to sort through the wedding dresses when all you are looking for is a bustle gown is highly annoying.  You keep getting links of Vera Wang when all you want is House of Worth!  To help narrow your search by a decade, used the following 1881...1890 bustle dress  This will force the search engine to only search for pages that have a number between 1881 and 1890 on the page plus the words Bustle and dress.   Although this helps narrow the search for links, it doesn't work well on images since a wedding gown can still be number 1882 as the price or as the retail number. Of course, this will work with any decade.  :-)  Or, century if you want to see everything from 1701 to 1800, of course.

The almighty wildcard, *

    I probably overuse the asterisk.   It's GREAT when searching for items that have the same root but have multiple endings.  My favorite example is embroidery.  It can be embroidering, embroidered, embroideries, and yet, it all means the exact same thing.  It just depends on what the seller or webpage owner decides to use.   Since embroider is at the heart of each of those terms, just use embroider* as your search term.   You can, sometimes, use the wildcard (*) at the start of a term but it works much better at the end of a search term.

Google Image Search [Insert Drool Here]

   The new Google Image Search is awesome.  Have you ever saved an image to your computer and forgotten where you got it from? Go to Google, click on images on the upper bar, and up should come a search screen where there is a camera in the search bar.   Click on the camera to upload the photo you want to search on.  If it's still on the web, Google will find it.
    Google is also very good at finding where other people got their images from (tumblr /cough).  That pretty dress that has no sourcing with it on a blog post?   Just right click on the image, go to properties and see the address of the image.  Copy the address and paste it in the search bar.  Google will find it.
   On Bing and Google, if you see an image in your searching results that you like but it's not quite right or it's too small, they both have functions to find "similar" or "other sizes" of the image.   Don't give up if it says that's the only size in that image, do a similar search and you'll often see the exact same image right next to the one you just searched.  Click on the second image and do a "more sizes" search.  I've found images that are much bigger than my first results this way - which is great for movie costume recreations.

That's it!   Feel free to ask questions and I do hope this was helpful for both those that took the course and those that weren't able to make it. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Holy Thursday

According to the Roman Catholic tradition, after Holy Thursday mass, Lent is over. Now, normally this is because mass is right before sundown and passover begins. :-) However, we had mass at work at 11 am. :-) It was great since the hall we used was right above the cafeteria. Right after mass, I ran down the stairs and bought tater tots and chicken nuggets. I hadn't had either in a very long time. It wasn't great (cafeteria food) but it was nice not to get a salad for once.

I didn't get a cake because I knew I had this waiting for me at home:

etd 002

Chocolate covered strawberries!!!!! Yummy!

Oh and:

etd 001

Mini cake pops!

A few weeks ago, Amazon had a "local" deal- spend $15, get $30 worth of chocolate covered strawberries. Honestly, I forgot about it until I got an email reminding I had to use it before April 8th. I figured that a good way to celebrate the end of the medieval diet would be with my favorite food, chocolate covered strawberries.

Since then, I've been eating a lot of fun stuff - to the point I made myself sick on Sunday. Easter weekend was a blast - really, one of the best Easters I've ever had. I did have to buy my own Easter candy -which is sad- but it's super yummy. Vegan chocolate covered marshmallow chicks are freakin delicious. To the point even the carnivores in my family loved them. I can't eat normal marshmallows since they are made with corn syrup. Vegan candy tends not to include corn (it's not "natural" unlike cane sugars) so I eat a lot of it. I'm allergic to corn (it's not super serious but it's annoying enough to avoid it).

I really did like the medieval lent diet. I learned a lot and it helped to make me very excited about Easter. It was NOT easy but it was manageable. I'm not sure I'll try it again -although I like the idea of eating seafood all late winter/early spring long - I enjoy potatoes too much. :-) I might try just doing the fish thing next year and not actually go with pre-17th C recipes.

Some things that helped me get through this were my friends and family of course. :-) It was wonderful that they were all very understanding during this season. I know it wasn't easy on any of you either. ;-) But also hot chocolate and salads, believe it or not. I think not having sweets restricted other than the pre-17th Century rules was VERY useful. I could have sugar and I could have apple fritters. If I wanted chocolate, hot chocolate was always available. I think the salad helped so much because it had a)salt and b) was something very familiar in taste and look. It never took long to prepare either.

This was definitely a different take on Lent for me this year and I'm glad I did it and I'm glad it's over. I'm just disappointed that I might have a milk allergy. Grr... Luckily, it's not serious and I'm just going to have to be aware of it for my own cooking. I'm not going to worry when I go out - I'll just take allergy pills.

Last Lenten Dinner

I decided to try trout and saw this recipe:

This is an excerpt from Libre del Coch
(Spain, 1520 - Robin Carroll-Mann, trans.)
The original source can be found at Mark S. Harris' Florilegium

183. Trout in crust or roasted or boiled. The trout must be scaled, and if you wish to make it in crust, cast in pepper and a little ginger. And if you wish to cook it in some other manner, such as roasted or boiled, cause water to boil in a casserole, and cast in the trout. And when it is almost half cooked, cast in a little salt so that it should have good flavor. And then cast a half glass of vinegar into the casserole, because the vinegar will make it firm, so that it shouldn't break; and eat it with pepper, and with a little broth of the pot or of the casserole itself.

And if they want to eat it roasted, it must be eaten with orange juice and water and salt and a little oil, and all the good herbs; and prepare the plate of the roast trout. And cast this juice on top of everything. And know that the best morsel of it is the snout.

I really liked the idea of broiling it in OJ, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and a seeing how it would come out. I did a half and half of OJ and water with a tablespoon of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil. The good herbs were cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. The recipe was good but the fish, itself, wasn't. I think I just had it in the freezer too long. I'd love to try it again some day with fresh trout.

I also had rice and carrots which was great.

By Tuesday evening, I was so excited for Lent be over, I was like a kid before Christmas. Easter really ended up being joyful which, sort of, is the point of the entire Lenten season - to prepare for Easter and realize the joyful occasion it is supposed to be. Plus, I learned that, yes, I have yet another food allergy. Grr...

More posts to come!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Monday and Tuesday

Monday was some minor snacking on my now amazing collection of walnuts, pretzels, raisins, and crystallized ginger at my work desk. I think I'll keep up having all of these as part of a snack collection because they are a)good, b)last a heck of a lot longer than a candy bar, c) good for you, and d)cheap.

I also had a salad I brought from home. It was just green stuffs (spinach and the purple lettuce I like), carrots, and sliced almond. I also brought my own salad dressing which was nothing more than olive oil and red wine vinegar with salt and pepper.

For dinner, I cooked up my rice in almond milk. It took 20 minutes and was exactly what I needed. This means that there was probably something wrong with the rice Mom got on Friday. :-) She threw it out because we weren't sure. I added a bit too much cinnamon but it was still tasty.

Today I was in too a rush to make lunch so I've been snaking on the amazing collection which is fine. I also had a peach tea and a lot of water.

I'm not sure about dinner tonight. I have a LOT of sewing that needs to get done so I'm thinking something simple like toast and jam with a salad. This means stopping by the grocery store since I ran out of salad. Hmmm...

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Past Few Days

Thursday : Pretzels, raisins, and bread with oil and herbs. I wasn't feeling well and just snacked the entire day.

Friday: Had a few walnuts, raisins, a couple of pretzels sticks, some peach tea at some point, adn then went over to Mom and Dad's. I cooked. :-) I made rice with almond milk, sugar, and cinnamon but -for some reason- it didn't work. I also cooked Salmon. Mom made peas and I think she made sweet potato fries. Of course, I couldn't have the fries but everything else was fine.

Saturday: I wasn't hungry this morning. I went over to a friend's house around noon and we went out with her family to a really cool grocery store that you can eat in. I ended up with brown rice and a crab cake - which isn't period but it was good. I'll through an extra dollar in the collection plate tomorrow. :-) I'll probably eat some more bread too.

On the sewing side of life: I've gotten a LOT done. The Titanic evening dress might get done tomorrow. Today, I did the beading on the underbodice piece. I'm not completely satisfied with the sleeves but we'll see. I have some plans and I want to try pinning them into place and choose from there. Pictures to come. :-)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tuesday and Wednesday

Yesterday, I had a salad at lunch with my olive and red win vinegar dressing. I don't like the salad oil at work and they don't give you a cup to mix the vinegar and oil together which is bothersome. I've been drinking water lately since those three or four glasses of tea I've been drinking a day are about 500 extra calories a day -something I do not need. For dinner, I ended up just having bread and oil with herbs. I could have heated up more apple pie but I just wasn't hungry.

Today, I'm not feeling great (not quite to sick yet, but getting there. I'm hoping to hold out until Friday). Even though today is a fast day, I'm snacking on pretzels for the salt. I need some of the ginger but all of it is at home. I might be able to stomach some raisins later but, right now, pretzels. Lots of them.


This is one of the apple pies I made. It looks...horrible in the picture but it really is tasty.

And, of course, Fried mushrooms:


Oh! And my "helper" that evening:


Monday, March 26, 2012

Sunday and Monday

Sunday I had two turkey sandwiches with bacon and a couple of cookies. Oh! And Fried mushrooms. I desperately needed the turkey sandwiches. It was just necessary.

Today, I've had tea, a salad, some bread that didn't taste good so I ended up throwing it out, and some more of my apple pie. I finally figured out what it reminds me of -now that I've sprinkled powdered sugar all over it. It reminds me of cornbread with fried apples. I haven't been able to eat cornbread in a couple of years but I use to love a good cornbread crust with a chicken pot pie. This tastes similar but with a more mild taste and texture. So, if anyone else wants to try the apple pie recipe, keep that in mind. It's not like a modern flaky crust but more like a hard cornbread crust.

Most of this week will probably be apple pie since I have a ton of it. It really does make enough for 12 or more people.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Lunch was a salad and bread with herb dip. Not just any bread either! Homemade wheat bread by Mom. :-) It was really yummy. Yesterday, I know I was bad and had a cupcake (Birthday party) but I couldn't pass up a homemade cupcake even if I did end up having a small reaction to it (I think it was more the icing than the actual cupcake). I also had pretzels and raisins yesterday.

This evening, I'm finally getting around to making apple pie! for dinner. The dough is sticky. Very very sticky. I tried adding flour and that didn't work and I tried adding more water but nothing made it not the pies look a bit interesting. But who cares? It's pie!

I didn't turn the apples into apple sauce. I just used apple slices. Hopefully, it won't matter much. One pie has almonds on it, the other doesn't. The dough is enough to make two pies. We'll see how they taste!

EDIT: Oh my! It's very different from modern apple pie. Imagine having something like a sugar cookie (but without sugar) for a pie crust and apples with saffron inside. That's what it tastes like. You can leave out saffron and still be perfectly period -which I might do next time. The pie is still quite good, but I don't think the saffron is really necessary. Since it's perfectly period to leave it out, I might make another couple pies next week like this.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wednesday and Thursday

I didn't eat much on Wednesday, being a fasting day. I think I had a cough drop, some tea, and bread. I also took a nap and was freaking out over my pup having one of her seizures which contributed to me not eating.

Today, I've eaten. I've had pretzel sticks, raisins, and most of a salad. Note to self: keep dressing separate until Lunch time. I have no idea what I'll have tonight other than the typical snacking on crystallized ginger. I did get disposable pie plates which is one step closer to making the apple pie! :-)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The weekend, Monday, and so far on Tuesday

I don't recall what I ate Saturday night. I think it was just more bread.

Sunday, I was bad. I had cookies (COOKIES!!!!). Okay, so they were vegan chocolate chip cookies but there were something very much not period. And they are delicious. I then had KFC for dinner. I learned my mistake the hard way and will not do that again. Not only was there butter but there was probably some small amount of corn. Add that to the seasonal allergies and I think that's why I ended up having to go home early Monday.

Monday, I had OJ in the morning and didn't bother with lunch. I crashed around 11 am and didn't wake up until 5 pm. However, once I woke up, I started to feel a lot better. I ended up cooking some mushrooms, rice in almond milk with sugar and cinnamon, and have a bit of bread. I also ate a few pieces of crystallized ginger.

Today, I've had a lot of iced tea. I finished off the rice for lunch from last night and I brought in my salad dressing for a salad today. They have a decent salad bar at work but they don't get that you need to mix the oil and vinegar some how before you pour it on the salad.

For the sewing side of life, I did try to make a pair of Edwardian combinations and I didn't like them. They look fine but they don't fit me correctly. I'll make a princess slip and all the other undergarments tonight. I have a nice slip for my steampunk stuff but I need one to fit with my Edwardian evening gown. Pictures tomorrow, hopefully.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Friday and Most of Saturday

Friday was...a disaster. I didn't eat until I got home -had a couple of pieces of crystallized ginger- and then made up my bread and oil. Normal herb bread I get at the amish store that I've eaten a ton of time before tummy was not happy. Actually my tummy stayed not happy until about 10 am this morning. It was so unhappy, I didn't get to bed until 3 am. So much for getting to make that apple pie!

Today has been a lot better. I've had toast and jam for breakfast, a salad and bread at lunch, and -since today is a feast day in honor of Saint Patrick- I did have something with butter. :-) It was just a pretzel freshly baked at the mall but it did have butter.

I have no idea what I'll make tonight.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Link Parking!

For either tonight or tomorrow:

Recipe by Daniel Myers

Fish dishes that will please the general public can be hard to find, and medieval ones are even more elusive. The following recipe makes a wonderfully light dish that is excellent served over rice. The combination of the wine and spices completely eliminates any possible trace of fishiness, so it's perfect for even the most fussy eaters (both of my kids liked it).

4 perch fillets

1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup water
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. Powder Fine
1/2 slice bread, ground

olive oil

Rinse perch fillets, place in a baking dish, and bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes.

Put wine, water, bread crumbs, and fine spice powder into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Remove the fish from the baking dish and pan-fry it in olive oil for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, cloves, and mace to taste. Serve hot topped with the wine sauce.

Source [Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books, T. Austin (ed.)]: Salomene. Take gode Wyne, an gode pouder, & Brede y-ground, an sugre, an boyle it y-fere; than take Trowtys, Rochys, Perchys, other Carpys, other alle these y-fere, an make hem clene, & aftere roste hem on a Grydelle; than hewe hem in gobettys: whan they ben y-sothe, fry hem in oyle a lytil, then caste in the brwet; and whan thou dressist it, take Maces, Clowes, Quybibes, Gelofrys; an cast a-boue, & serue forth.

The original recipe calls for trout, which I have in the freezer, so I think this might work for dinner. The only spice I don't have is mace but I'm not sure how vital that really is....

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thursday's Dinner

Scallops sounded like an interesting recipe to try, it was delicious. Too bad I overcooked it a bit. Still, it was yummy.

Recipe by Daniel Myers

This has to be one of the lightest and most "modern" of the medieval recipes I've come across so far. The white garlic sauce is a bit too tart on its own, but when paired with the scallops it's perfect. The sweetness of the onions and the fine spice powder adds to the flavor of the scallops without overpowering it. On the whole, this dish would be great for a fancy dinner.

If you can't find verjuice, use 1/2 cup white wine and 1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/2 pound sea scallops (large)
2 Tbsp. green onions, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
pinch powder fine
pinch salt

2 slices bread
1/2 cup verjuice
1 clove garlic

Tear bread into pieces and place in a small bowl. Add garlic and verjuice, and stir until mixed. Allow to sit until the bread turns to mush, then strain the liquid into a small saucepan and discard the solids. Bring to a low boil and simmer until thick, stirring constantly.

Sautee onions and scallops in olive oil. Place onto serving plate and cover with sauce. Serve hot.

Source [Le Viandier de Taillevent, J. Prescott (trans.)]: Scallops. Pick them over well, scald and wash them, brown them in oil with chopped onions and Spice Powder, and eat them with good White Garlic [Sauce].

Source [Le Viandier de Taillevent, J. Prescott (trans.)]: White Garlic [Sauce]. Crush garlic and bread, and steep in verjuice.


France, 14th c.

No matter what I did, the sauce never really thickened. Originally, I poured the wine/lemon mixture on to bread with a garlic clove and then strained it but it ended up never thickening and reducing too much. I then added white cooking wine, garlic powder, a small amount of bread crumbs, and lemon still didn't really thicken. The sauce was good though and tasted yummy with the sweetness of the scallops.

The scallops were fresh (I got them at the amish market an hour before I cooked them so that's fresh, right? ;-) ) but I just wasn't paying attention and overcooked them.

For a side, I went with fried mushrooms, of course. :-)

Edit:'m allergic to scallops it turns out. Not badly but enough to avoid them. I do not like hives. I do not like my tummy acting up. It was only slightly worse than my corn allergy which is enough to avoid scallops all together. Oh well...

Trout tomorrow!

Wednesday Dinner and Thursday Food thus far

Dinner was...not good. I had my typical bread and herbs but I decided to try that salmon recipe I talked about a few weeks ago. It wasn't bad - cooked in almond milk like the original recipe calls for- but it needed the crab meat like the original recipe calls for. It just didn't blend right without it. The tastes were just too all over the place without the crab meat. I ended up throwing it out. :-(

Today, I plan on stopping by the Amish Market and seeing what they have for seafood. Maybe frying up some mussels? I'm not sure yet.

Surprisingly, I haven't lost much weight on this diet. Yes, I'm posting EVERYTHING I'm eating but I've only lost maybe 6 pounds. What I have noticed is that the ever present dark circles beneath my eyes have waned a lot. Being 1/4 Italian, I'm going to have dark circles beneath my eyes. There is no way to get away from that without surgery. However, mine were horrible and I had no idea why. It look like it might have been either milk or soy. I'm not sure yet. We'll find out after Easter which I have to give up. Either way, it's going to be painful. I love soy sauce and I love cheese. However, not looking like Night of the Living Dead every day and pictures of me looking far better than they normally do? So worth it.

Today, I've been munching on the Rosemary Flatbread (I need to buy more) and had two iced teas as well as a regular old salad. Nothing too exciting. I might have some almonds later on but I really just want to go home and have some Hot Chocolate and maybe make an apple pie for dinner.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday Food!

The sink got cleared! Yay! I can wash dishes again! The problem of a very small house is that I do not have room for a dishwasher; I wish I did. This means I need to hand wash every single dish and I loathe washing dishes. Truly loathe it. It's my least favorite chore. So, cooking all my own meals is a true penance to me. ;-)

However, now that I can wash dishes, I managed to wash the frying pan which means FRIED MUSHROOMS! I cooked up the steak mushrooms with onion and a bit of garlic. It was delicious. Having not been able to cook for umm...a few days thanks to the sink being clogged (can't wash the pots and pans so they can't be used until they are clean...), I loved being able to eat food again. Not that I hadn't eaten - the Steak on Sunday was great at Mom and Dads - just that I couldn't cook at home.

Monday's lunch was a large salad again at work. Just spinach, carrots, mushrooms, croutons and oil and vinegar. I also had a couple of bottles of iced tea. Dinner was primarily the fried mushrooms along with bread and oil with herbs. I just haven't been hungry lately.

Tomorrow I'll see about cooking up the last of the salmon finally. Since tomorrow is a fasting day, I'll just take in some medieval trail mix -almonds and crystallized ginger. Maybe some raisins. Or an apple. I need to use the apples before they go rotten. pie sounds good for tomorrow night as well. :-)

Titanic Gown Part 1

I'm going to make multiple Edwardian dinner gowns this year since there are so many events to wear them too. My first one is a black and red number.

titanic 001

I just have the fabric pinned to the dress dummy. The bodice is an extant one I got years ago as a lot of discarded sewing items. The cut of the bodice is very similar to a House of Worth gown from the very late 1900's:

My sleeve style will be different than the gown above - more in keeping with the styles of 1912, of course- but I liked the idea of the sash around the raised waistline area. Although I didn't pin it in the pictures, I will have a black lace sash around the dress waist.

The underlayer is a red silk for the gown. It doesn't show in the pictures but you can just see it beneath the pallu front of the gown. The pallu - or decorated part of the sari- is being used as a skirt front panel over the red silk. It's a semi-sheer black silk pallu with black embroidery and copper beading. Detail picture:

titanic 002

Detail picture of the bodice:

titanic 003

I plan on adding lots of red details to the dress - red beads possible around the neckline, sheer red organza for the sleeves, ect. I also want to play up the copper beads. I'll be adding beading to the black silk overskirt that goes around the back but I'm not sure whether to cut up the sari more and use the copper beads on that as trim or to use the lovely extant black beaded trim I have. Or both. We'll see. I will be using some more of the sari for sleeves and things.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sunday and Monday Morning

Sunday I hosted a Regency themed tea party at Reynold's Tavern in Annapolis. Of course, this meant I needed a new dress! Keeping with the Regency Rainbow plans, I figured I'd use the blue fabric I've had in my stash for a couple of years. I now have a red gown, and orange gown, a green gown, and a blue gown. I just need yellow and purple! Yay!

For the blue, I really wanted something earlier, so, I went with a 1790's open robe.

I love the nice bright colors of the open robes in this Fashion plate from 1795 I found thanks to The blue fabric I used is sort of a dark teal blue. One thing I noticed about this style, in almost every single fashion plate from the 1790's, the open robe is shown over a white gown with a printed but white background skirt. The skirt or petticoat looked to be optional but the white gown was not. The handkerchief around the neck also looked optional based on the portraits and fashion plates of the era. So, I had to make a plain, boring, white muslin gown. Grr. I made a drawstring one since that seemed to be the most common type seen without an handkerchief.

I used the same pattern I created a couple of years go for the orange gown and used for the red gown as well. It works very well and is simple to adapt. For the drawstring muslin dress, I just added about three inches on either side to a front closure. For the open robe, I just curved the front of the gown to dip down and show of the bodice of the drawstring.

The fabrics I used:


I started the dress Saturday afternoon. For the top and bottom drawstrings of the muslin gown, I just used regular cream colored cheap ribbon. It actually closes up very nicely and you can't see the gap in the front of the gown.
For the open robe, I just pinned it closed once it was sewn up. Over the open robe, I wore a nice wide red sash with gold "dots". It's actually a duppatta that is sheer but I folded into a nice looking sash.


This was the dress with the handkerchief. I saw it on me like that Just no. It looked completely wrong on me.

With the dress done, my hair became a priority. Saturday night, I put my hair in curlers. Lots of curlers. To the point it really looked like pink marshmallows attacked my hair and my hair attacked back. See?


My hair was wet and, after combing it, putting the curlers in, I added the first few sprays of hair spray to help it set. Getting dressed on Sunday, I kept the curlers in until the last possible minute. I put on my dress, the open robe, and even draped the red ribbon I wanted to wear in my hair, around my neck so I wouldn't ruin the curls. I then sprayed enough hair spray before taking the curlers out on my hair to make New Jersey jealous. I sprayed each curl after it was taken out of the curler as well. I wanted the curls to stay, darn it!

Once all the curlers were out of my hair, I piled my hair on the top of my head using bobby pins and used the red ribbon to help secure my hair back. It looks to have worked out well!

So, a new Regency dress with Regency hair! Yay!

And post tea hair:

tea party 038

The tea, itself, was lovely. Tons of good food and yummy bright pink tea. :-) I love Sundays since I can eat anything those days.

Today, Monday, I've had apple cider, tea with lemon, and a salad with carrots, mushrooms, croutons, and oil&vinegar with salt and pepper. :-) Tonight, probably bread, oil with herbs, and rice with raisins and carrots if I can get the sink to work again. I need to call up maintenance. *sigh*

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Friday and Saturday

I went to Red Lobster Friday and ordered garlic shrimp with Lobster tails. I also got their version of fried calamari. It was mostly fired broccoli and fried red peppers with fried calamari. I didn't eat the veggies, just the squid and it made me so sick later on. At least, I think it was the calamari. My guess is the fried part had corn in it because I was just not a happy person afterwards.

That was all I had yesterday - it really made me that ill. Saturday was basically two cups of hot chocolate (the really good stuff by Twinings) and a few pieces of Sourdough bread -toasted- with oil and herbs. I was just still not hungry after the Red Lobster incident. Tomorrow, Sunday, is Tea! Yay! This will mean a lot of very not period sweets and other yummy stuffs - Since it's Sunday, it doesn't matter that it's not 16th Century.

Monday, I might attempt those Salmon fish balls if my sink works again. I need to call the plumber because it got completely stopped up and my pliers and wrench won't work on the sink pipes. Grr... If it doesn't, then maybe just a salad and lots of bread with jam.

Friday, March 9, 2012

So many things!

Yesterday consisted of way too much going on at work. Because we are breaking up the current team, as a last hurrah, we are all going to Red Lobster today. Yes, this means I'll have to cheat a bit.

Yesterday, I had bread and herbs with oil for lunch along with pretzels and a few apple slices. I also had ice tea. It was all quite good. I needed the apples because I could feel my blood sugar levels go all twitchy. I've been eating a spoonful of sugar the last couple of days because I did need that extra sugar in my diet. What I need to do this weekend is make an apple pie which should have enough sugar. Today will be fine - hot chocolate for all!

Dinner was mostly the rice from the previous day, some bread, and that was about it. After the day's events, I wasn't that hungry.

I'm only eating lunch today-rather than just dinner and a snack for lunch- due to the festivities. I'll probably actually have butter because that will be impossible to get away from while eating out but cheating on stuff like that is perfectly period. ;-) Right now, I'm thinking Fried Calamari and shrimp of some sort. Yum!

I'm currently working on a 1790's Open Robe dress.

I have a few yards of this lovely dark dark teal that I have yet to use. I'm normally not one to wear a dark teal (despite it being my favorite color) simply because my complexion does not like the color at all. However, given the style of the open robe, I'll have more white than teal and I'll be wearing a gold polka dotted red sash as well. Add a red necklace, red ribbon in my hair, and I should look something NOT like night of the living dead.


The blue is more rich than it looks in the picture but those are the fabrics I'll be using. I already have a pattern that I know fits so it's just a matter of cutting it all out and sewing it up. If I get time, I might add a sheer overskirt to the outfit.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wednesday Food

Yesterday was interesting on many levels. I had to go to work at 6 am so I knew food would be an issue come lunch time. Being a fast day, I couldn't just grab some bread and jam at the cafeteria. Instead, I had a small salad that was just spinach, carrots, a few mushrooms, croutons, and poured oil and vinegar over it. I also got ice tea to drink. The ice tea was $1.99 before tax and the entire "meal" was $4.31. It was enough to keep me going through out the day.

Last night, I cooked up some rice in almond milk with sugar and cinnamon. I added chopped carrots to the mix too. And raisins before it was completely done. I also had a salad and a piece of bread with oil and herbs.

Overall, not bad for a fasting day!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Orange Fritters!

The baked oranges I posted earlier called for a paste. All it says is to dip the oranges in the paste, to do something with sugar, Cinnamon, and ginger if you want it, and then to bake 'em leisurely. Well, figuring I made a decent paste with the apple fritters, I'd use that as a paste and fry the oranges up rather than bake them. I added sugar, cinnamon, and ginger to the paste. Oh my goodness, it's good. If I had burnt some sugar in the olive oil (don't ask), they would have been perfect. I added some powdered sugar on top of the fried oranges. I'm not normally a big fan of oranges not in juice form, but this is a pretty yummy snack!

I might try actually baking them next time, just to see the difference but it tastes fine the way it is.

Sounds Yummy

From a Book of Cookrye
How to bake Orenges.
Faire peele your Orenges, and pick away all the white that is under the peele, and so lay them in fine paste, and put into them Sugar, very little Sinamon or none at all, but a little Ginger and bake them very leisurely.

I also found the sweet potato recipe but it calls for butter. Grr! If I can find one without butter, that would be good. I'm sure that they were eaten during Lent (sweet potatoes were first introduced into Europe in the 1510's) so there *must* be a random recipe regarding them out there somewhere. I want my sweet potatoes! *grumpy face*

Tuesday will be boring when it comes to food

Today, I had Orange Juice for breakfast. Lunch is nothing more than pretzel sticks and Lemon Tea. (Yes, pretzel's are a Lenten food, thank goodness!) I do have almonds and I could sneak home again and get a salad but I'm just not that hungry. Tonight, I'm probably going to reheat the salmon I still have from last night, a salad, and maybe mushrooms. What I'd like to do for tomorrow is re-find that sweet potato recipe from the late 16th c and try that. It sounded good but I can't remember where I saw it.

In other news; I'm going to start my Regency dress for Sunday tonight. I know! So early! ;-) I'm planing on using this lovely blue twill I have in the stash, adding either silver or pink trim, and making a white skirt to go with the entire ensemble. I'm going with the 1790's look. Now, this may change because I do have a few days because I had this rather amusing dream a few days ago that I made this fabulous romper style early 1800's Regency dress out of orange linen that was completely embroidered in silver. Now, why orange linen rather than silk? Probably because I have a lot of orange linen and not a lot of orange silk in my stash - or my brain was trying to confuse me again. That happens. I sort of want to see if I have any saris that I could make into something but most of the saris I have are silk net (Edwardian stuffs). ...Or I could make a nice simple spencer out of some of the silk I have.....

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday's Dinner

I went back to the nice Elizabethan Salmon recipe for dinner but cooked it correctly this time. It's really, really good. I played with the ingredients a bit. I used the entire bottle of beer, the same amount of water, and added about a fourth of the bottle of white wine vinegar. I then played with the herbs until it looked right. I boiled the ingredients together. The second I poured the beer/water/herbs over the salmon? It turned white. I covered it and threw it in the oven for 20 minutes.

I also had the mushrooms and bread with oil and herbs. It was yummy.

For lunch today, I had the bread and herbs plus a nice yummy salad. Oh! And for dinner, I had the sparkling wine. It's called cold duck by Andre and it's actually rather good. It's a bit watery but not bad. I really like it.

1840's Dress in a Day

I decided I needed a new dress for the Poe event on Saturday despite my less than good attempts at the 1840's in the past. Barring that in mind, I wanted to use a fabric that would look good if it magically got turned into a wearable dress but that I wouldn't cry over if it, once again, ended up destined for the trash bin. This lead me to a plaid 20%wool/80% acetate (I think?) I had in my stash for the past few months.

The plaid was meant to be an 1860's dress; however, the seller that sold it to me informed me it was 100% wool. My fingers told a different story and the burn test confirmed it - I wasn't even sure it had wool, let alone being 100% wool. It wasn't until I pulled the fabric across the grain (rather than cutting through 3 yards of fabric to get a decent hem on the skirt) that I could smell the wool. So, it has wool, but it's no where near 100%.

Before cutting, I place the fabric out on the floor. I turned around to get the pattern I drafted a couple of years ago plus the pins. When I turned back, this is what I saw:


The same thing happened later when only the skirt part the fabric was on the floor:

So, the fabric may not be period but it is animal approved! Yay!

My inspirations for the dress included:

The pink 1840's I posted a few weeks ago in my other blog

This 1840's bodice

And this dress I have yet to post that is up at Augusta Auctions

I loved the idea of a gathered top rather than a pleated top but with the pleated waist still, as in the last dress. I thought that might be a bit easier since you don't need to make the top quite as smooth looking. I added about 3" to the center front, placing the pattern piece for the front about an 1 1/2" from the fold, and cut it that way. I then cut the lining on the fold exactly as the pattern piece looked. Using the lining as a guide, I gathered and pinned the bodice fronts together. Once that was gathered to the same width as the lining, I sewed them together, flipped the fabric over and pinned the pleats in place while having the sided pinned. To keep the bodice looking neat, I used gray thread to keep the pleats in place, along the gray or white lines of the plaid. I stitched through the sides, attaching the side fronts at the same time - thus keeping the front puff in place and looking neat.


This is the bodice, once I finished it, over my corset. I really was shocked at how well it came together. Later on, I added the sleeves and added a bit of self tape along the bottom edge of the bodice. The skirt was attached to the inside of the bodice - which was actually easier than trying to measure it and pin it to just the fashion fabric and then encase all the unsightly seams in the lining.


The finished dress! Not bad for only three hours on a Saturday, if I do say so myself. ;-) For once, I have an 1840's I don't want to immediately throw away! Yay! I'd like to put some sort of busk or something in the front and sew down the very front waist point but that's about all the dress really needs. A very minor edit compared to some of the stuff in the past.

Weekend and Wines

I was bad over the weekend. I had butter on Saturday (hard not to when you are eating out in the modern world!) and I had Turkey with mustard sauce and Banana Nut Bread on Sunday. Given that, even in the Renaissance, Sunday is a feast day, I'm not too worried. The turkey was so good! You can't beat the food at the American Indian Museum in DC for downtown food. It's pricy, but if you are walking around the museums and get hungry while in DC, go there. It's worth it.

On Saturday, I had crab cakes, rice, carrots, and peas at a Irish Pub in Baltimore. The vegetables were cooked in butter but the rest of the dish at least seemed like something similar to what was eaten in the late 16th C. So, not too horrible, really. ;-)

The wines I bought that I've never gotten around to writing about. The first is just a Sparkling Wine I like that is supposed to be sweet. The label is Andre and I've had the blush before but I want to try the sweet. The other wine is Gabbiano but I can't find it on the site. According to the label on the bottle, the vineyard was established in the 12th Century...

Today, I plan on going home for lunch so I can have a nice fresh salad. I'd also like to take the salmon out of the freezer and that way, it will be defrosted by the time I get home.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Wow, that was difficult.

I went to the farmer's market today. I didn't need much - mostly bread. However, this meant going past the donuts, the cheese, the milk, all the meat - everything I'd normally eat. I had to read the bread this time, not only for my typically buckwheat and corn allergies but also for milk, eggs, and butter! Luckily, pumpernickel was fine. My favorite bread, herbs and garlic, didn't have an ingredients list but, since I know I'm not allergic to it (or, at least, I haven't had a reaction yet!) and it looks like wheat bread with herbs in it, I'm going with it's safe for Lent.

Anyway, I think it was more difficult this time to go to the Farmer's Market than it was last week for two reasons - I didn't need as much and I was hungry. Being Friday, all I had up to that point was hot chocolate and water plus a few almonds. Since I was just there last week, all I needed was more almonds, more crystallized ginger, and some vegetables plus the bread. Not buying a doughnut was horrible!

Once I got home, I dug into the bread and had a salad. After that, my appetite disappeared.

One thing I have noticed over the past week, my complexion is changing a lot. The dark circles that I've always blamed on being Italian are almost gone! Mom had a theory I was allergic to Milk as well as everything else on my long long list...sadly, she might be right. Luckily, I like almond milk and I'd like to try coconut milk once Easter gets here.

Link Parking on Lenten Traditions

A bit on Italian Lenten Cooking in the Middle Ages

I love this post This is what I'm doing but much better said. :-)

Just a really yummy looking recipe

More recipes

So, despite loving eating like 16th Century European during Lent, I'm really REALLY looking forward to this second Sunday during Lent. I get to take the oldest nephew to the museums! This means, Aunt Sissy is going to treat him to a nice time at the American Indian Museum cafeteria. If you are ever in DC, don't bother with the museum. Seriously. If you know anything about American Indian history, it will make you mad. However, the lectures tend to be good, the festivals are fun, and the cafeteria? Pricy but oh so yummy. It's all "traditional" foods from the various regions represented in the museum. I love the turkey with mustard sauce and the green beans if they have them. They do have chicken nuggets for the less adventurous but really, you need to go there just once for the food. I just hope my 4 year old nephew is will to try something different. ;-) He'll, of course, get Astronaut Ice Cream right before I hand him back to my brother and sister in law.

I might put a few bucks in the poor box tomorrow and eat out on Saturday as well given the Poe anniversary.


Even in the modern Lenten tradition, Lent is still a fish day. So, tonight, I'm thinking about taking the salmon I have out and making this:

Take gode þikke mylke of Almaundys, & do it on a potte; & nyme þe Fleysshe of gode Crabbys, & gode Samoun, & bray it smal, & tempere yt vppe with þe forsayd mylke; boyle it, an lye it with floure of Rys or Amyndoun, an make it chargeaunt; when it ys y-boylid, do þer-to whyte Sugre, a gode quantyte of whyte Vernage Pime3 with þe wyne, Pome-garnade. Whan it is y-dressyd, straw a-boue þe grayne of Pome-garnade.

It's called Vyaunde de cyprys in Lente. Luckily, this time, there is a modern version here:

200g ground almonds
200g salmon steaks
2 tbsp rice flour
1 tbsp powder fort
2 tbsp sugar salt, to taste
a few drops of yellow food colouring

Vyannd Cypre of Samon Preparation:

Method: Preparation Combine the fish with 1l water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook gently for about 15 minutes, or until the salmon is tender. Remove the fish from the pan and strain the liquid. Set the fish aside and when cool remove the bones then pound the flesh to a paste in a mortar. Heat together the ground almond and 600ml of the salmon cooking liquid in a pan. Simmer for 10 minutes then cool slightly and blitz in a blender until smooth. Return to the pan and stir in the pounded salmon meat. Cook for 5 minutes then work in the rice flour, whisking constantly. Cook for 5 minutes then stir in the powder fort, sugar and season with salt to taste. Continue cooking, again whisking constantly, until the mixture is stiff. Serve hot.

I'm going to make a few minor changes but at least this is something I can follow! Yay! I also need to go get more mushrooms. I'm all out! Ack!

Being that today is a fasting day in the medieval/renaissance world, I only had a cup of hot chocolate this morning. So far, so good!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Last night, I had some of the whirled peas, the almond rice and cinnamon, a salad, fried mushrooms, and a piece of bread with plum jam. It was very very good. Tonight, it's more of the same because there are still a lot of leftovers from Tuesday.

I didn't eat breakfast today but had an early lunch. Lunch today was a salad with the oil and vinegar dressing, carrots, and chopped almonds. I also ate a piece of plain rye bread and had a glass of orange juice.

At my desk, I've been snacking on roasted almonds and crystallized ginger. I'm just drinking water which isn't very exciting but wine isn't allowed at work. ;-)

I'll post about the wines I got yesterday tonight. I can't recall the names off the top of my head. One is just a sparkling sweet wine and the other is from a vineyard that claims to go back to the 12th C! Although the recipe has, undoubtedly, changed, at least the grapes are probably similar to the ones I would have had back in the 16th c.

In non Lent related news, I cleaned up my sewing room!

sewing room 068

Isn't it much nicer than what it was?

sewing room 001

I know most of you have already seen the before and after over on LJ but, just in case, I wanted to post them here too. I am working on sewing projects; the gray coat in the nice cleaned up sewing room picture is one of them. It's going to be a Spanish Surcote. I got it as a surcote shaped pieces of gray velvet sewn at the sides and shoulders but no lining, not trimming of the hem, nothing else. So I added a lining and I'm going to add shoulder rolls. Then I'll have another nice velvet Spanish Surcote. Yay!

I'm also working on an 1840's bodice. I'm not too optimistic on it since all the 1840's stuff I've done in the past I've ended up trashing after one event. It's all looked...ugh. We'll see, though.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tuesday's Dinner and Fasting Day

I made the Perry of Pesoun which, despite what it looked like, was incredibly good. I used a bit too much sugar in the recipe but it was fine other than that. I used split dried green peas, dried chopped onions, and brought them to a boil. When I did that, I added a 1tbl of olive oil, probably about the same in sugar (I just shook the box of sugar until it looked like I had enough), and salt. It doesn't take long to boil but it does take a while for the peas to soften. By the time they do, they explode and you get green mush. Which is why you add the safforn - it makes everything a nice bright colored yellow mush. And yes, exploded peas porridge is perfectly period. (I think it's an Italian cookbook that says to make it into the shape of a worm and serve it.)

I also made brown rice in almond milk with cinnamon and sugar. I think I'll add some raisins to it tonight for extra yumminess.

The only other thing I had was bread with oil. I didn't have any salad because I forgot to stop by the grocery store and I was too tired to make the mushrooms. :-(

I'll eat a lot of the same tonight. For lunch today, I have sort of a trail mix. It's roasted almonds and crystallized ginger - which are really surprisingly delicious together. Breakfast today was a nice yummy mug of hot chocolate. Also known as vanilla flavored almond milk with nesquik heated up in the microwave. :-)

For tomorrow, I'm thinking salmon fish fry! And mushrooms. Must have mushrooms. Tonight, if possible.

So, by now you've probably noticed not all the recipes are from the 16th c. Some are from the 15th and some are from the 14th. Just like today, they used the older cookbooks and just added on to them. How many still have Joy of Cooking in their cookbook collections? It was first published nearly 80 years ago now. I have Martha Washington's Cookbook (which actually contains a lot of late 16th/early 17th c recipes in it because it was a family cookbook handed down) that I've used in the past. I think the cookbook regarding Southern cooking my Mom always uses is from the late 19th C. Tastes change slightly from generation to generation but how to cook various things doesn't. Just like today, back in the 16th Century, they used the older cookbooks for various reasons.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I'm thinking of keeping it simple tonight. A salad with oil and vinegar, rice boiled in almond milk with sugar and cinnamon, bread with oil (which is what I had for breakfast again), and maybe try my hand at peas. Oh, and mushrooms. Can you tell I like the mushrooms yet? ;-)

New Peas on a Fish Day sounds good. However, I have a supply of dried peas I'd like to try. Maybe this recipe for Perry of Pesoun?

In related news, I just found Antiquitates culinariae or Curious tracts relating to the culinary affairs of the Olde English. It's a book regarding medieval and Tudor English food customs written in the 18th C. It's fabulous. I'm pouring over it now for information.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Epic Fail

So, the Salmon pie? Yeah...that wasn't a good idea. I tried to make my own dough recipe and I know that's where I went wrong. Don't put the fish in the dough until the dough itself has been mostly cooked. The dough was super sticky and looked like instant mashed potatoes. Yes, I tried to make my own and not follow the recipe like I should have. That was another mistake. The salmon still turned out okay but the dough ruined it.

So, I did have a salad and fried mushrooms. I also ate some plain rye bread. I'm going to have some hot chocolate and I already ate some ginger. Tomorrow, I'm going to drown my sorrows in apple pie. ;-)

Possibility for Monday's Dinner

181. Salmon Pie (SALMON EMPANADO)

You must take the salmon, well-cleaned and washed, and take your spices, which are long pepper, galingale, and ginger, and all this well-ground with salt, but in such a manner that there is not too much spice, but moderate; then make the empanadas, and put the salmon inside. And cast the spices on top and beneath, and all over. And then cover the empanada and let it go to the oven to cook; and when it is cooked, if you wish to eat the salmon cold, make a hole in the empanada under the bottom crust so that the broth comes out, because with it, it cannot be kept well.

And you must know that the salmon ought to be eaten in the month of October when it starts to get cold.

This comes from Libre del Coch which is a book filled with recipes from both Naples and Spain. Since my persona is from Naples, this will be a great recipe to try! I don't think I can get galingale (I'll check out a couple of stores on my way home) but I have everything else at home.

What I love is the book does tell you how to make a fish pastry or pie in general earlier in the book (so you aren't left guessing unlike in some). A general recipe is here:


You must take meat or fish, and give it a boil. But if it is meat, boil it more than the fish. And when it is well-boiled, take it from the fire and put it in cold water. And then make the empanada. And put in the meat or fish which is cut into small pieces, as big as two fingers, or even smaller. And put them in the empanada, and then go to the oven and make a vent hole on top of the lid of the empanada so that it can breathe, or else it will burst in the oven. And when you put the meat in the empanada, also put fine spice with it. And if it is fish, use a good deal of pepper. And if it is meat, use a good deal of spice; and a little before it is time to remove the empanada from the oven, put into the vent hole some eggs beaten in a dish with verjuice or orange juice or rose-scented white vinegar. And then return it to the oven for the space of a Paternoster and an Ave Maria. And take it out and put it on the table.

:-) I love the whole "poke a hole or else it will pop in the oven!" thing since I remember well the exploding hot dogs in the microwave of my childhood. It sounds like a very similar issue. However, making the crust is still an issue. How do you do it without eggs or butter?

It sounds like, based on two sources (Flans in Lent) almond milk and rice flour were used to make some sort of crust. This Lady has a recipe that I'll probably use. So, salmon pie tonight!