Friday, June 20, 2008

More fun projects to work on

Oh Boy! OH BOY! What is cooking in the cauldron today? Some Eye of Newt? A little bit of Frog Hair? Let's throw some honey in there, some oranges, some cinnamon and call it mead! This stuff brewing on the stove is my first official batch of mead. We were at an SCA Collegium a couple of weeks ago and they had a Beginner's Mead Making class. This is the recipe that they handed out so I thought I would try it... I got it all loaded up into the 3 gallon carboy then I found a really great website for mead makers called GotMead and found out I didn't have to cook it. This batch will hopefully be ready for the holidays when the entire family comes down to Arizona. Attention family, this should be some pretty yummy stuff...

They have a bunch of really good recipes on the site so I thought I would try mead batch number 2, also known as Joe's Ancient Orange Mead. This is a VERY simple mead that anyone can make with common household ingredients. We made 3 gallons of it with Desert Blossom honey and 2 gallons of it with Orange Blossom honey. I am hoping that this batch will be cleared and ready to drink in August! Yummy! Chris came down from San Diego last weekend so he helped me make this batch! This stuff is fermenting like gangbusters! I am looking forward to trying some of it when it clears and is ready to bottle.

In the shower in the guest bathroom, we have batch #1 (the small bottle) and last night's newest batch. It is a cherry cyser (mead) that I am also hoping will be ready in time for the family coming down for Yule. We learned some valuable lessons from batch number 3. We used cherries, apple juice, yeasties and Orange Blossom and Mesquite honey. We mixed it all up in our sanitized food grade bucket then transferred it to the carboy. We did not leave nearly enough head space in the carboy. When we got up this morning, we discovered what happens when you don't leave nearly enough head space in the carboy...

Holy Crap! It's Engineers Gone Wild!!! This is the ceiling of the shower in the guest bathroom. What is that weird red stuff on the ceiling? Cherry puree from the latest batch of mead. I did not take a picture of the whole shower since it was pretty gross. I was able to get it cleaned up in about an hour. So, when anyone asks me "Why do you ferment mead in your guest bathroom shower?" this is the reason. When your mead turns into a "Mead Volcano", clean-up is a breeze! If this would have been in our mud room or the laundry room, I would still be cleaning this mess up 4 hours later! Yes, the picture above is the shower AFTER I got done cleaning cherry puree off of the walls, carboys and tub. The big bottle is the new batch. I am working with the fruit cap every couple of hours at this point until fermentation settles down a bit. I just found out the limit on fermentation for personal use is 100 gallons per year... Hmmm, what to make with the other 86 gallons???

Yes, there were other great classes offered at the collegium. The first one I took during the weekend was Beginner's Tablet Weaving. OK, I already spin wool, knit and crochet. Did I REALLY need another string hobby? It looked like a fun class so I thought I would sign up for it. It was SO GREAT! I have already made a few belts and I am currently working on something that will become trim on my tunic.

Which was another great class that they offered, Newcomer's Garb Basics! They went through patterns for tunics and basic undergarments for SCA garb. I have some nice, lightweight cotton that I want to try to use and make a couple of tunics for myself and my hubby so we have something to wear under the "nice" clothes. There was also an awesome herbology class I was able to take that taught me a lot about using herbs for more than just incense! Way too cool! We learned so much over that weekend that we are still working on processing all of it.

We got our plane tickets for my High School Class Reunion up in Minnesota in August. I almost died when we got the prices for the trip. We paid $300 round trip per person flying from Phoenix to Minneapolis. I thought we would have to pay at least twice that amount with the cost of fuel going nuts like it is... I just started driving my car again last week (stick shift) and in the 8 weeks that I did not drive it, gas went from $35 to fill the tank up to $50 to fill the tank. WTF??? I have also discovered that I can drive a stick shift without having to bend my knee. It is all in the ankle and keeping the seat back as far as I can put it back. By using my foot and ankle to work the clutch rather than the whole leg, I am keeping the pressure off of my knee and it doesn't hurt to drive. It is SOOOOO nice to be able to drive again! I feel like I got my independence back!

The knee is still healing. I have been doing PT 3x weekly. It is slow, but it is getting better. Can I stand on my feet for a 12 hour shift yet? Not even close. I can do about an hour before I am in some serious pain. It may be a few more weeks until I am back at work. So, until then, I will be making some mead, weaving some trim and belts, sewing up some tunics, getting into some new meditation techniques and celebrating Litha! More adventures as they happen!