Converting a Step Van into a TINY HOUSE!

I began this process a few weeks ago when I purchased a pre-converted 1990 Grumman Olson. The interior was not at all to my liking. Over the past week, I have torn out the interior, kept the appliances, and begun design on a new layout. The van came with a cosy wood stove which I will be keeping. That and the immoveable wheel wells have informed the design process. I’ve used Google Sketchup to create a few layouts. These two are the current winners.

Any advice is of course appreciated. I’ll be making more frequent video updates here: https://www.youtube.com/callumscornucopia

Title – No, Literally

Last August, I rebound the covers of several books. Unfortunately, I rather slacked off forgot to add titles. I’m home sick today so I decided to kill some time by inking in a title or two. I still can’t think of a way to do titles for the cloth bound books, but my copy of Animals as Teachers and Healers by Susan Chernak McElroy was done in thick paper.

To do the actual title, I first penciled in the font, then traced that over with a fountain pen. When the ink was dry, I erased the pencil, et voilà!

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Brewing Mead – The Beginning

File 2016-03-27, 5 09 00 PMAfter my minor success at making mulsum, I was left with more honey than knew what to do with, and a taste for honeyed wine. Well, the next logical step was to use that honey to brew myself some proper, honest-to-goodness mead. I found another of Will’s tutorials on stormthecastle.com for making mead cheaply, without specialized equipment. Instead of a glass carboy and a bubbler, it uses a milk jug and a balloon. I had just enough honey left to make the recipe work so a went for it. I made sure to carefully sanitize everything before mixing my ingredients together. The balloon over the mouth of the jug has a small pin hole in the top. This allows the gasses created by fermentation to escape without allowing air back in. The next morning, the balloon was inflated and small bubbles were making their way up the sides of the jug. This was a very simple process, the hardest part will, I suspect, be waiting patiently for my mead to mature.

Because I used oranges for flavour, this mead will technically be a melomel. Melomel is just the name for a mead which contains fruit. Hopefully, the orange flavour will stand out in the final product, only time will tell.

Ingriedients:

4L of Spring Water 2 cups of Natural Alfalfa & Clover Honey
Lalvin EC-1118 Yeast 25 Raisins
2 Mandarin Oranges 2 Cloves

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Tasting Pseudo Mead (White Wine Mulsum/Conditum)

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Mulsum prior to dilution.

In anticipation of Ostara I brewed myself a bottle of mulsum/conditum as a quick alternative to a fully brewed mead. The recipe told me to let the mixture sit for a week or two, but since I wanted to use the mead for my Ostara ritual, I only let it be for five days. When I tasted the drink for the first time before the ritual, the sweetness of it was at first overpowering. I had created a drinking syrup! With a little distilled water, however, the drink took on the sweetness of Manischewitz. It took me a few sips to get used to the heavy sweetness, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed it. Yes, watering down the wine lowered the alcohol content, but my stomach is easily upset by alcohol so I didn’t mind. Next time, I will start by adding much less honey to the wine since I can always add more to taste.

Making Pseudo Mead (White Wine Mulsum/Conditum)

In anticipation of Ostara (aka the Spring Equinox), I wanted to brew myself a batch of mead. While is something I have always wanted to do, it takes quite a long time, six months or more, to do properly. Luckily, there is a bit of a cheat which I found on the ever helpful website Storm The Castle: “Instant Mead Recipe”.

“The ancient romans called mixing honey with wine ‘Mulsum’ and if you mix it with spices then let it age you get something the ancient romans called ‘Conditum’ which is something similar to what we make here.” Will Kalif’s video tutorial.

A quick search on Wikipedia gave me a little more information on conditum. “The Latin name translates roughly as ‘spiced’. Recipes for conditum viatorium (traveler’s spiced wine) and conditum paradoxum (surprise spiced wine) are found in De re coquinaria. This conditum paradoxum includes wine, honey, pepper,mastic, laurel, saffron, date seeds and dates soaked in wine.”

The recipe itself is really simple, calling for one bottle of cheap white wine (I spent $12.75), one pound of honey, one clove, and a pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg. Since I was going to be mixing it with sweet natural clover and alfalfa honey, I bought a bottle of moscato which advertised it’s subtle sweetness with “hints of green grapes, pineapple and passionfruit.” Sounds good enough to me!

After the ingredients were mixed together, I let the brew simmer for an hour or so. A preliminary taste-test tells me that that was too long. It really is a little too sweet. Then I strained and re-bottled the ‘mead’. The recipe calls for a waiting period of two weeks. I only have one until Ostara when I look forward to drinking my concoction. The shortened wait time will give me an excellent opportunity to compare the taste on the equinox and again a week later. That is if their is any left!