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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Welcome In Our Circle Stay

Song and prayer have always been interwoven for me. I was raised Jewish, and I still love to sing the beautiful hebrew prayers which I learned as a child. When my path turned towards paganism, I lost that for a while, but I was lucky enough to find a pagan choir after moving to Vancouver. Now, none of my personal rituals are without a song or two. I’ve even started writing my own. This is an original song which I wrote as an invocation of the four elements.

Blessed Be.

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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.

Creating a Westerosi Duet: The Rains of Castemere

When I made “The Dragonborn Comes” music video, I recorded the video after the audio since the scene took place outside next to a busy road. One problem which I encountered was that the cold Canadian weather made accurately playing the ocarina impossible. I had to carefully cut the video to hide the mistakes. Even so, some of the finger movements that did make it into the final video don’t quite align with their audio counterparts. This time around I was determined to learn from my mistake, so I filmed myself recording the two tracks I wanted to use for the video in real time. I filmed against a wooden wall which helped hide the seam between the two videos, and actually allowed me to reposition the two since they overlapped.

Since “The Rains of Castemere” is best known for its ominous role during Red Wedding, I drew my inspiration for the look of the video from the scene itself. I added the balcony railing and Lannister tourney banners on the wall in post using images from the internet. I chose an aggressive colour grade to give a flickering firelight effect and a harsh vignette to darken the footage.

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The Rains of Castemere – Game of Thrones | Ocarina Cover

In anticipation of Season 6, here is my rendition of “The Rains of Castemere.” This foreboding ballad, immortalizing the fall of House Reyne of Castemere at the hands of Tywin Lannister, is most infamously remembered as being played during the Red Wedding. Sung and performed on the ocarina by Callum Pengelly.

I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan, so of course I had to do this one. BTW, I’m available for any and all wedding events 😉 After I heard Bronn sing this song in season two of Game of Thrones, I replayed the episode and learned the lyrics. I’ve been singing the Lannister Song ever since, just “with no one there to hear.” But now their is someone there and I hope you enjoyed it. If not, remember: “The Lannisters send their regards.”

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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!

Foam Board Dragonbone Dagger

Recently I came across Will from stormthecastle.com‘s youtube channel epicfantasy. He has many, many video tutorials on making props, usually swords and other weapons, with foam board. I was fascinated by the level of quality he was able to achieve with such a cheap material. I wanted to try using foam board as a material for myself and I knew that I wanted make another Skyrim prop to go along with my Windhelm guard’s shield. Because I had never worked with foam board before, I chose a small project, the dragonbone dagger. I didn’t take the same number of progress photos as I usually do for my props because Will’s tutorial is excellent and shows in detail all the various steps.

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Smoothed and sealed foam board.

I knew going in that foam board is a flimsy material which cuts easily, but cannot be refined (smoothed out or sanded) to any great degree. One thing which I disliked about Will’s prop was that the seams between the layers of foam were raw. In order to blend the layers of foam board and to fill in the gaps, I used extra hot glue which I smoothed out with my finger, ouchie ouchie! This didn’t quite give me the effect which I wanted so I used silicon to get a more accurate effect. Silicon isn’t really a good choice, but it was what I had available. I would have preferred to use some sort of putty or clay for this. To stop the silicon from peeling and to even out the seams even more, I coated the entire dagger in 5 coats of modge podge. I followed Will’s tutorial for the paint job, then sealed the project with 2 more layers of modge podge.

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