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Yes, I agreed to provide Bridgit's class with a study of medieval medicines.  The plan is to dress up as my persona and tell the kids' about medieval medicine.  A few years back, when my brother died, I was gifted with his art projector.  Wow is it cool!  I can think of a million uses and now, I have the time!  My banner that I made so many years ago is rotting away.  With this projector, I can make a new one or two.  Can we say art's entries????  I have also embroidered a little sampler as a gift.  It is simple but I had to re-learn how to do it as it has been so many years.  I have also created a crochet pattern for an 11th century gown for Barbie.  No one has that I have found has ever made a pattern for the earlier gowns.  It is looking pretty good.  Mostly double crochet and single crochet.  I will lace up the back.  I know crochet is not period but the design is.  We will see how it goes!
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I had no idea how much I missed horseback riding!  Now granted, I have to use a step stool to get up on the horses but man, oh man, I had a blast!  Ringo, as I thought, rides well with the hackmore.  We did figure eights and spins.  He is not real fast in the spins.  It's like a Volkswagon Bug compared to an SUV but he listens so well and without distraction.  Rode by the other horses and he whinnied once but then got back to business.  He is so tall but I felt so comfortable in the saddle.  Now Bailey we had to work with.  We adjusted the hackmore on her muzzle so it fits better and she pays attention more.  We added a tie down.  We were still having a problem with the control issues then I figured it out!  She also uses leg commands!  Wow what a difference!  She has a beautiful gait!  Still needs some work as she hasn't been ridden in awhile.  I have to laugh at The Bear!  He is such a softy!  I told him he had to kick the horse to get her attention but he is so afraid he will be too rough!  ROFLMAO.  When he first rode Cinnamon, she tried to get away with things.  I got tired of watching him be nice to her I told him to get off so the horse would learn who was the boss.  From that moment on, the old broad became mine.  We spent alot of years together!  I miss riding her but she is far too old for this rotund butt.  She still whinnies at me when I ride another horse.  You have to remember, she is 30+ years old!  I got her when she was seven and I was 28.  Lot of years but the most awesome of horses.  Anyway, that is it for today.  Sorry no teaching today.  Just had to talk!
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Well, my mussels in saffron sauce were mighty tasty!  I steamed my mussels perfectly!  If you overcook mussels or clams for that matter they become rubbery.  I steamed them for 5 min is shallot, white wine, salt and pepper.  You have to remember to shake the pot a couple of times to help all the mussels open.  I only had one mussel that didn't open. NEVER SERVE UNOPENED SHELLFISH! It usually indicates a bad mussel or clam. Now, if I was serving to a group of people, I would have served them on the half shell in a pasta bowl  with about a cup of plain angel hair pasta ,but I was serving family and they appreciated me removing all the shells.  Next I drained the liquid and reserved it.  I placed the liquid in a pan with 1 cup of heavy cream.  I cooked it until it was reduced in half.  I added a pinch of saffron and the juice of one lemon.  I served it with angel hair pasta in herb sauce plus a nice green salad with bay shrimp.  I am stuffed!  I added just enough saffron for a delicate taste.  The problem with saffron is if you add too much it has a medicinal taste.  It's an ART!  Things I would change:  I would use plain angel hair and pour the sauce over that and the mussels.  There were just too many flavors at dinner.

Now, onto more exciting things in my life!  We saddled up the new horses!  With Bailey, we discovered some issues.  The hackmore was set too low on her muzzel so she was not following directions very well.  She has this really cute but delicate head.  We have to do a few adjustments there.  We will also need a shorter chin strap.  You can't listen if you don't feel!  Come Monday, we will make these adjustments and see.  We also need a lunge line with a chain that runs over the muzzel.  Does help to get their attention!

Ahh, the Percheron/Quarter Horse!  Fabulous!  I had The Bear ride him while I watched.  No adjustment needed with Ringo's headstall but then again I am limited by his size.  He has a big ole head!  The hackmore fit him perfectly.  Now, Ringo has only ever been ridden with a snaffle bit but after riding him in Las Vegas, I thought he might take to the hackmore.

Let me explain the difference.  A Snaffle bit is worn in the horse's mouth.  To make the horse move, it pinches the inside of the cheeks.  Not badly but enough to get it's attention.  I am not fond of bits if I can avoid them.   I believe that if you are too heavy  handed with the reins you could hurt your friend.  A hackmore just doesn't do that. Now, the Hackmore lays against the outside of the jaw.  It applies pressure to the side you want your horse to go.  Once a horse is broken to a bit, it can be difficult to switch them into a hackmore but not Ringo!  He did AWESOME!  He responds very well to a hackmore!  The Bear enjoyed it.  His gait is somewhat jarring but that is because he is a big draft horse.  They are not known for comfortable gaits!  What we did notice was he is use to running cattle.  When you kick him into a faster gait, he gets right too it!  The Quarter Horse part of him did show itself.  Stopping is a little difficult.  Like a big car compared to a little car, a big horse does not stop on a dime! LOL!  Can be a little nerve wracking because to fall from Ringo would be dicey!  You could get hurt! LOL!  But Ringo is very well behaved and well trained. 

I have to pat myself on the back for this one.  In the past, I never really went out horse shopping.  I have the mustangs, which I adopted.  Checking confirmation, behavior, and temperment is really not an option.  All I really knew was that I loved horses and these horses needed me.  When I bought my morgan, I didn't know what I was doing.  I just wanted my own horse.  Purchasing Ringo was my first time to really pay attention.  I was paying a lot of money for a horse and I wanted to have enough knowledge to know what to look for.  You cannot believe all the things that can be wrong.  I was a nervous wreck shopping for Ringo.  I was second guessing myself during the majority of the sale.  Was this guy going to cheat me?  Did I have enough knowledge to know if there was something seriously wrong with this horse?  I checked over his stance, his leg, his teeth, his reaction, and finally his behavior.  I rode him in Vegas but not in a large enough area to really know what he could do.  I rode in a carriage while he pulled but was still second guessing myself until I got him home.  I done good!  Anybody can ride him, he is that great.  The only reason I would not put a beginner rider on him is his size.  If you don't acheive the proper weight distribution you could fall and it is a long way! LOL!  

Anyway, a totally awesome day here in Cedar City.  60 degrees and fun with the horses!  Doesn't get better than that!
Current Mood:
chipper chipper
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Sorry I haven't written in awhile but here goes.

So, I was shopping at Costco in the spice section and behold, I found Saffron at a decent price.  People may wonder why saffron runs about $50.00 per ounce.  Well, let's look at it.  First, you can only get three strands from each plant.  Second, it must be harvested by hand.  Third, it is mostly grown in Spain and Asia.  My ounce of saffron is from La Mancha region of Spain.  Guess what?  For my 25.00 I got the best saffron available!  But why on Earth did I need saffron?

The Macaroni Grill use to make a dish of mussels in saffron sauce.  I loved it!  I never thought I would like mussels as much as I love clams but clams often became contaminated by the pollution.  Mussels do not have that problem because they are filtering machines!  So when The Bear took me out for a romantic dinner so many years ago on the coast of California, I could not get my Steamed Clams in a White Wine sauce.  My option was mussels so I ordered them.  I loved them but for years would not see them offered at seafood resturants.  Mussels are considered a "poor man's" clam.  Then one day, right after the Macaroni Grill opened on Rainbow, I found them.  OMG, they were delicious!  Then, all of a sudden, they no longer offered the dish.  I was depressed!  So what could I do?

As most of you know, I love to cook.  Why could I not make this?  So, I travelled into the frozen section and found frozen mussels. I also had my saffron, but I digress.

Saffron cultivation has been in existence for more than 3000 years.  There is even a fragment of a Minoan fresco showing women harvesting the plant.  In them there days, saffron was used as a yellow dye, a medicine, in cosmetics and as a spice.  Saffron was not only harvested by women but monkeys.  Around 1645 and 1500 BC the two Minoan settlements that grew saffron were destroyed by a powerful earthquake.  The central portion of the island sank underwater but the volcanic ash protected the frescos.

The Greeks had a legend about Crocus and Smilax.  Crocus was in love with Smilax, a nymph.  Well, if you know anything about nymphs, they are fickle.  She got tired of the young man and transformed him into the crocus plant.  Ovid, who wrote Metamorphoses would later write a poem to connect the flowers with the legend.

Anyway, so how the heck did saffron make it to Europe?  Remember when I talked about the Battle of Tours when I wrote about the origins of the Percherons.  You know...when the Moors lost?  Well, the Moors did introduce saffron to the populous throughout the southern provinces of Andalucia, Castile, La Mancha, and Valencia.  There was actually a War that lasted 14 weeks called the "Saffron War in the12th century.  Some noblemen were losing money to the wealthy merchants, so they stole 800 lbs of saffron.  At todays prices, it was worth $500,000 USD!

So for further information about Saffron, go to http://en.wikipedia.org.  The article is 9 pages long but some very interesting information in there.

Tomarrow for diner I am serving Mussels in Saffron sauce, angel hair pasta with herbs and garlic, and a nice green salad with a light balsamic vinegarette.  Sorry...not enough for everyone!


Current Mood:
geeky geeky
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No research today!  Have to do mundane things like shopping at Costco in St. George.  Bridgit's best freind Annie spent the night last night.  I love Annie!  She is smart and has a mind of her own.  What is even better is she is real creative with her drawing.  What makes this most especially interesting is Annie is great at math!  A Left and Right Brainer!  Don't see that very often.  Left brainers are usually not creative.  Who'd a thought?

I did buy a treadmill yesterday.  Sitting on my expanding nether regions is not helping me.  It is cold outside and the road is a bit uneven.  A little tough of my knees to say the least.  So, I bought the treadmill.  I have to start very slowly because let's face it, I am a lazy bum!  This week, I will be using it 10 minutes per day. Next week and the following weeks, I will increase by 5 minutes until up to 30 minutes per day. My weight has plateaued which means I have to exercise and it would be nice to build up my stamina.  I am on Weight Watchers and I tend to cook low fat and portion control.  I reserve the right to my Cheese Fix Munchies at night when I am reading.  I eat about 2 servings which is about 4 points.  I am limited to 28 points per day with a 35 point allowable extra.  I really hate it when I go into the 35! LOL!  My own personal quest!  I have lost about 21 pounds since I started.  Both the diet and the exercise will make my doctor happy!  I find some weeks, I don't resist temptation but the beauty of Weight Watchers is you just get back to it.  It is a lifestyle, not a diet.  You just have to stop giving yourself permission to blow it on a regular basis!

Otto bought me the new cd from Harry Connick, Jr.  He is one of my favorites.  Most of you wont remember the early years of Sinatra but Harry sounds just like him.  His music is mostly early jazz like in the French Quarter.  Excellent to listen too. "Oh My Nola" is his most recent cd.  He was on Ellen last week and he is a hoot!  You younger folk will remember him from "Independence Day" with Will Smith.  He was Smith's best friend in the movie.

Anyway, off to shopping!  BTW, on the What kind of hero are you, I am Ando, Hiro's freind.  What do you think of George Takei being the "big Boss"?  Shocked me!  Of course, I remember him as Lt. Sulu in the original Star Trek when he was just a skinny baby!  But then again, I remember Will Shatner with REAL hair!  Receding though it was.  I wrote a script many years ago at the age of 13.  My freind at the time also wrote a script.  She got the Captain and I was stuck with Chechov.  I changed my script so she died and I really ended up with the Captain.  I was an evil kid, what can I say?  I was able to share this info with Will Shatner many years later at a convention he spoke at.  He wasn't sure if he appreciated my love for him! ROFLMAO!  Hey, I was only 13 when I wrote it and I did go on to saving lives after that!
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Well, the new horses are adjusting quite well to their new home.  Right now I have them in my arena BUT...the arena is vinyl so easy to get out of!  Not to worry!  The rest of the property is fenced.  It is so muddy right now so it is hard to work with them.  I have been able to adjust my saddle using Bailey, the smaller sorrel horse.  Ringo is very tall!  Otto got up on him by the barn and thank the GODS that Ringo is so laid back because there was only a few inches between Otto's head and the eave!  A bit scary and I will have to get a mounting block to get up on him.  You may ask why I chose him?  He is a Percheron/Quarter Horse mix.  Now, Quarter Horses are an american breed, direct decendants from the Spanish Barbs.  Spanish Barbs originated from the Conquistadors of old.  Here is where it gets interesting.  Percherons were the original Knight's Horse.  The history of the Percheron is not exactly clear but they do know they originated in the provence of Le Perche, near Normandy.  It is thought that the Arabian bloodline was introduced into the Flemish Draft Horse line. Apparently, in 732 A.D., horses were abandoned by the Moors after their defeat in the Battle of Tours. Flemish Drafts are large and strong but also had grace and agility.  Combine this with an Arabian and viola, a great horse!  During the Crusades, further infusion of Arab blood was made.  Arab sires were procured in the Holy Land and were bred to the Percheron.  Most of us look at draft horses and see Belgium or more popular, Clydesdales.  Percherons look more like a horse than a massive display of muscle and their movements are far more graceful than the Clydes.  Besides, if a horse steps on me by accident, I would prefer a Percheron to a Clyde! LOL!  

Anyway, by the 17th Century, the Percheron had attained widespread notoriety and was used for many different jobs.  This included riding and pulling a cart.  Nothing heavy but coaches and the like.  Thousands of Percherons were imported to America in the last half of the 19th century for farmwork and the like but following WWII, the modern farm tractor made the breed nearly extinct.  However, a handful of farmers, including many Amish, preserved the breed.

So, there ya have it and the reasons I wanted a Percheron.  I prefer a cross-breed to full-breeds in all the animals I have.  For some reason, you have less problems.  It has to do with genetics.  Purebreeds get all sorts of genetic problems due to the shallowness of the gene pool.  Ringo is very docile and loves attention.  He can handle my weight and will do anything to please.  Ringo can pull a wagon or be ridden.  They had used him in Wyoming for cattle drives.  He doesn't do as well as a quarter horse but I didn't want that anyway.  Eventually, I hope to get a wagonette and a harness.  OttoderBear was thinking to use him up and down Main Street for the tourist! LOL!  I think not!  Otto der Bear also wanted to name him Blackie in remembrance of a old calvary horse he rode many years ago but once he saw Ringo, he knew that wouldn't work.  Ringo is very tall, about 16.5 to 17 hands.  That is 66 to 68 inches from the ground to the withers(shoulders). whereas Blackie was maybe 13 to 14 hands.  A hand equals 4 inches.  So Blackie just wasn't applicable.

If you want to know more about the Percheron Breed,  you can go to www.imh.org, www.percheron.org.uk., www.percheronhorse.org., or http://transpotationhistory.suite101.com.

Again, I so enjoy finding this info out and I hope it is helpful to folk.

The rest of my life is going well.  The stock market did not really affect us that much, thank the GODS!  Bridgit is halfway to her play.  She is playing Jacob's wife in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Coat".  When I ask her what she has to do, she tells me she has to hug a lot.  She has a lot of experience with this.  She says it only bothers her when she has to hug the boys!  YEAH!  Just kidding!  She continues to love school up here and is constantly on the A-B Honor Roll.  She is happy here.

Otto is contemplating the coming of spring.  He will be building a chicken coop and a goat yard.  He is also contemplating building a wagonette.  A Wagonette is like a Surrey.  It has four wheels and can seat about 6 people.  They offer kits that he can use but we will see.

Last weekend, we received about 9 inches of snow but it is melting quickly.  I am awaiting the blooms of my Tulips, Crocuses, and Hyacinths.  They should start to bloom when we warm up.  I will take pictures not to mention how much I love the smell!  I am also excited about my lilacs.  Last frost should be in May.  As soon as I can I will get my fruit trees and bushes.  I hope to plant apples, cherries, peaches, and plums.  I also want to plant grapes, strawberries, raspberries, elderberries, and blueberries.  Gonna try but we will see.  The fruit trees are a definate.  Anyway, that is it for today!  I hope this missive finds you well!
Current Mood:
cheerful cheerful
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Father Christmas gave me a brewing kit and I have brewed my first wine, Otto's Birthday Port.  As a few of you know, Lord Sir Otto der Bear learned to love port after being given some from Sir Pavel in Galandor.  We haven't heard from Sir Pavel in quite sometime, so my first endeavor would be the Port.

Wine has been around since pre-Egyptian times, but the Egyptian's were the first to document the process.  From there, the Greeks and Roman's continued the practice.  I am not sure I would have appreciated some of the additives they used such as fermented fish sauce or garlic but at least we know they used wine.  In medieval Europe, there were not reliable sources of water, so the Monestaries continued the practice.  The Monks did add water to make it "safe".

Most wines came from France in the early days but the English were constantly fighting with them and trying to keep up with supply and demand was a challenge.  The English eventually started obtaining wines from other areas, such as Portugal.  These wines were very robust but there was no way to stop the fermentation process.  When the wines arrived, they were vinegar.  Low and behold though, one Dutch cargo Captain came up with the idea to preserve cargo space.  Cook the wine to remove the water!  This became known as "brandwijn" or "burnt wine".  This was in the 16th century.

You are probably asking what this has to do with Port Wine?  Well, the reason the wines tasted so bad when they arrived was because they continued to ferment!  Yuck!  So another Captain came up with the idea to mix the portugal wine with Brandwijn or Brandy as we now call it.  Viola!  Port Wine was born!  It is also known as a fortified wine.  Sherry also falls into this catagory.  Mmmm, Mmmm, GOOD!

To start the brewing process, you must use a good quality grape juice.  I used Cru Select.  Eventually, I hope to grow my own grapes.   If you use your own grapes, please remember to sterilize with a little sulphite.  I don't like to use much of this because so many people are allergic, but please know that home grown grapes do have wild yeast on them.  Nothing worse then a ruined brew because of mother nature! Today, we use pre-mixed additives to help clarify, age, and flavor the wine.  I used Oak chips.  The total process for making this can be found on my documentation for the Port as I am entering it at Crown War.

I learned a great deal about wines in my journey.  In the past, I have brewed Mead and my intent is to brew more a little later this year.  I chose Port for my first endeavor so I would have an entry for Crown War.  Mead takes a great deal longer.  Don't even think about drinking Mead until about two years!  When I brew mead, I use as many natural ingredients as possible.  As far as resources go, and you must reseach, the Internet is your best freind!  Especially for those of us who have limited access to resources.

I hope many of you start your journey in arts.  Remember, all arts entries must be documented if you want decent points.  Our purpose is to "teach, study, and learn about medieval history!"  Teaching starts with learning and you learn by researching.  Don't forget to give credit where credit is due!  I have learned so much since I have been in this club and it is a great deal more fun to learn through this club then taking a history class.  Call it OJT if you will!  On the Job Training!
Current Mood:
artistic artistic
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