Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cleaving Time

Me

Time travel back to the time of wizards, warriors, royalty and scum used to be a lot more fun back before the arrival of Miniwether and Mambowether. For one thing, back then (which is a tricky phrase to use if you're a time traveller) Misseswether would wear a small amount of strategically-positioned chainmaile and not a whole lot else. Woo hoo!

Alas, those days are probably over, especially when Misseswether discovers I announced to the world that she used to go out in public wearing nothing but a small amount of strategically-positioned chainmaile. Woo hoo!

Sorry, I got distracted.

We only made it to the full Texas Renaissance Festival once this year, though as usual "Black Friday" was the perfect day to be there. The original plan was to camp out Thursday/Friday/Saturday but a bitter cold snap changed our plans. Thanksgiving night the temperature dropped into the 40's with rain and Friday night they fell below freezing. Fine for an adventurer like me but not the Wethergirls and Misseswether.

As usual, the day was spent dancing, seeing old Ren-friends, and eating food on sticks. As an added bonus, both Mini and Mambo were given $15 "love money" to add to ththe spending money they'd earned. This money was there to spend any way they saw fit, no matter how much of a waste mommy/daddy thought the purchase was. Mini did very well with her money but Mambo was a bit foolish and I really had to hold my tongue when she paid $12 to open an oyster to get a pearl.

Okay, and now what you've all been wanting, the pictures!!

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Wait a minute, did you want pictures of our family there? okay...

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Dancing with the dancers.

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These dancers, in case you forgot.

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The girls danced a lot. It helped keep them warm especially in the morning.

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Hot chocolate, although anachronistic, helped too.

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As did a turkey leg.

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Rootbeer bought with their very own money!!

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Free candy cane!

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Ye Old Funnel Cake!

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Mambowether's $12 oyster.

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Yeah, I figured you'd want a closer look.

Sidenote: one of the workers at the oyster place recognized me from my classes down at the Houston Arboretum. That was pretty cool!

However, by far the coolest thing of the day was our painting lesson at the Royal Art School! For just $20 the professor of art spends an hour with you teaching you how to paint one of several paintings.

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May not look cool, but it was way, way cool.

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You start with a blank canvas and the professor shows you how to hold the brush, mix the paints, and apply it to the canvas.

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A little bit of hands-on teaching...

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But Mambowether soon mastered it. Later on she said this was the best part of the day.

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Hey, it's starting to look really cool!

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Me doing some leaves.

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Misseswether paints the bridge.

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Once it was finished the professor had the students swear an oath to always feed their inner artists...and any staving artists they find outside.

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The finished painting. Best. Souvenir. Ever.

Being of obvious royal blood, Miniwether and Mambowether were invited by the Queen of France to freely partake in afternoon tea, cakes, dancing, and games.

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You can tell which is the queen as she actually gets a chair!

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Merriwether plays to his audience...why do you think the title of this post was "Cleaving Time"? Cleaving-cleavage...get it? Sometimes I really crack myself up!

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When playing Duck-Duck-Goose one should always tap a person with shorter legs than yours. This girl did not and Miniwether quickly caught her.

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Alas, Mambo has short legs...but a fierce spirit!!

While hanging out with royalty is awesome, sometimes it's good to have friends in low places...
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My ex-captain!

As with all good things, the day back in time came to an end. Weary and tired in spite of all the ye old sugar consumed it was time to go. I love the faire at night though. That's when it looks most magical...
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Probably because that's when the real fairies come out...

Adventure! Excitement! Lots more pictures of belly dancers!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

The turkey is in the oven, mashed potatoes and my special secret sausage stuffing are already done. Misseswether is taking a quick snuggle-nap with Mambowether before starting her 3-bean casserole. Miniwether and her uncle (one of Misseswether's brothers) are reading books. The house smells GREAT!

There are many blessings in the Wetherhold right now. I hope there are even more with you! Happy Thanksgiving everyone, may yours be AWESOME!!

Update: food is ready!!
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*sigh* I know I keep saying this but that really is Mambowether's happy face. The guy is Misseswether's brother, Kidtoy.

Update #2: and now napping.
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Adventure! Excitement! Wolfberry wine!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mambo inside outside.

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I had noticed that when Mambo and Mini play in the backyard they always seem to move the patio furniture out under the trees and have a tea party. Of course, they never put the chairs and table (upside-down bucket) back when they are finished. My grape vines needed a better frame on which to grow so I decided to make a little tea house arbor for the girls. Okay, I bought the arbor, but the gravel and flagstones were my doing.

Mambo LOVES this arbor, it's her new favorite spot. In the past she hasn't been the outside girl that Miniwether is, but now she goes out, sits in the arbor and just watches Mother Nature every chance she gets. Last night after supper she cleared her dishes, then said, "Bye, I'm going outside, See you later!" and sat under the arbor by herself until it got really dark and she became scared.

Adventure! Excitement! A Room With A View!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Step 1: go to liquor store.

“Claret is the liquor for boys; port, for men; but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy”
-Samual Johnson

After much discussion Clark and I felt we had come up with the perfect plan. It would make our kids happy. It would make our wives happy. It would make us happy. Sure, we didn't run the plan past our wives or kids, but it was such a beautiful (albeit somewhat complicated) plan that there seemed no need to share it in advance with the females involved. We figured they would think the plan was as awesome and jump at the chance to be part of it.

The plan, as created by Clark and I, was to go over to Clark's house Sunday afternoon and cook a meal using our Dutch ovens. We'd make whole wheat bread, venison stew, and dump cobbler. Sure, neither of us had much experience with cooking these things in this manner, but people have been cooking bread for thousands of years and deer meat even longer. How hard could it be?

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Stupid, stupid adventurer(s).

I decided late last night to fill Misseswether in on her part of the plan: simply making some bread in a Dutch oven. Okay, whole wheat bread. Um, needing six cups of whole wheat flour. You'd make the flour using the manual-powered grain mill we bought...why are you looking at me like that?

The discussion went downhill from there. Apparently making bread is a very complicated activity and failure of a loaf could quite possibly end all life on Earth...at least according to Misseswether. Sometimes she overreacts to stuff.

Okay, so I put Clark in charge of making the bread. They also have a grain mill so the whole wheat goodness would remain. I'd take care of the rest. By then Misseswether had calmed down (some) and asked for a task so as not to feel bored and useless.

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Misseswether breaking sticks for kindling. After that she cut up the onions and pepper for the stew.

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Clark building the fire for the coals on which we planned to cook.

I suppose you are wondering where the brandy comes in. I should give you the actual name of the venison stew I planned on making. It was called "40 Proof Dutch Oven Deer". Done correctly, one uses an entire bottle of brandy during the cooking of the stew. One cup goes into the stew, the rest goes into the cooks, friends of cooks, families of cook and friends, and eventually anyone who wanders into hailing range of the cook...

It's a very good recipe. Perfect for this plan.

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Browning the venison.

Of course, the one thing I needed from the store for this recipe were two cans of condensed onion soup. And of course the were out so I had to improvise onion soup, How hard could that be, just some onion and some soup...

Turns out there is such a thing as "too much onion" in a meal. Also here's an important tip: drain as much liquid as you can off the meat, otherwise you be boiling the meat rather than browning it. It's very hard to pour out excess liquid from a big, heavy, hot Dutch oven.

Eventually I moved the Dutch oven off the coals and onto Clark's grill to really blast it with heat.

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Success...and more brandy!

Meanwhile Clark was having difficulties with the bread recipe. Actually, he and the rest of us didn't know that at the time. He had decided to warm up the yeast/milk/sugar solution some before adding it to the flour. Unfortunately it go to hot and the yeast died. This meant the bread would not rise.

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Whole wheat bread dough in a Dutch oven.

When it failed to rise we began discussing what we could do. Fear of the failed loaf killing all life on Earth weighed heavily on Clark and I, but we decided to press on into unknown country and cook the bread anyway.

We were quickly running out of time, daylight, and family patience with our cooking adventure. Clark went back inside and cooked up chicken nuggets for the kids and then quickly whipped up a chocolate pudding pie to replace the cobbler.

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Pieman.

The stew had bubbled down to an actual stewy-looking dish, so I declared it was time to eat. The bread ended up looking like cornbread rather than an airy loaf of wheat bread. Cutting the loaf required a much larger knife than normal. It was...dense. Very dense. One might even say "bricklike". The Clarks liked it though because it reminded them of the heavy Polish breads of their native home. I ate one wedge of the "bread". Yeah, thank God I'm an American. Hooray for Wonder bread!

Mealtime
That thing under the big knife? That's the "bread".

Of course in spite of assorted food issues, it was a wonderful evening. The kids played, the adults chatted and laughed. It ended late, but also way too soon.

My clothes still smell of woodsmoke. :-)

Adventure! Excitement! $12 Bottle Of Brandy!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A fiendish thingy!!

Grab your partner, pop some popcorn, and snuggle down in front of your computer. You are about to be very entertained!
The Beatles -- Help! (1965)

Adventure! Excitement! Ringo!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

When Catholics Party...

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...a lot of minivans are involved.

Sorry for the long delay in posting, it's been a hectic couple of weeks. As you know, Halloween season is my busy time (NO! Not because I look like something Dr. Frankenstein built while drunk!!) Between RenFest, Halloween, and assort other bloody activities I haven't had time to write. I'm going to try and make up for that tonight.

So, the Saturday before Halloween was out Catholic homeschooling group's All Saints' Day party. Imagine forty-some families, each with multiple kids dressed as saints getting together on a East-Texas ranch.

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Oh-uh, that kid is dressed like St. Adrian!

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Left to Right: Merriwether, Mambowether (St. Therese of Lisieux), Miniwether (St. Elizabeth of Hungry), Misseswether (maker of Mini & Mambo's costumes). Seriously, that IS Mambo's happy face. She's a very deep and complex child.

Miniwether quickly shook free of parental hands and disappeared into the saintly throngs with her friends. Luckily Mambo still prefers daddy to people her own age. This means you have to sit through some pictures of her now.

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St. Therese and St. George fishing.

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St. Therese showing off her deadly accuracy. Throwing things at stuff, for the win!!

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At the end of the day Mambowether told me this was her favorite part of the party, just running free through the fields.

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Misseswether "St. Paul's Epistles" booth.

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Eventually we had a parade of saints. To truly grasp the number of kids involved duplicate this picture five times. After about ten minutes of trying to get all the kids lined up single file the lady in charge gave up and told the kids to just start walking. She was trying so hard to do the impossible...which was pretty funny for the rest of us adults to watch.

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As with all good days, night eventually began to fall.

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...which meant it was time for hayrides!! Catholic parties don't end early. Sidenote: how do you know which kid has never been on a farm? The one who asks where are the seatbelts on the hay bales. Methinks some parents are a wee bit too protective of their kids!

It was a long day. I had spent the morning teaching a wild edibles class for Urban Harvest, then raced home to take the family to this party. We returned home late but discovered our neighbor's baby shower was still going strong, so we all ended up there until way, way too late.

Adventure! Excitement! Party!