Perfumes for those not into Ye Olde Stench

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Hygiene was that of your typical male teenager: skip the shower and spray on some cologne. As those of us who survived public school can attest, the stronger the scent the “better” the result; thus the popularity of oils amongst those who could afford them. If you cannot tolerate modern chemical concoctions or the thought of topping off your cotehardie with JLo Glo makes you twitch, here are some all-natural recipes that can pass for period. Your housemates with chemical sensitivities might thank you.

They would have added lavender or rose water or orris to the final rinse while doing laundry, but I’m too lazy to do that. Instead, I make potpourri sachets that live in my Rubbermaid tub o’ garb. Being a hedgewitch, I look at what’s on hand that suits my purposes and experiment until satisfied. I believe that the current mixture is a base of rose and lavender petals with cinnamon and jasmine oils with a dash of ginger and cloves in a cotton bag made from scraps. The cinnamon, ginger, and cloves combine to make one spicy note instead of competing with each other. The potpourri staves off mustiness and serves as a mild insect repellant. If you don’t want to invest in various accoutrements, a quick and dirty solution is to fold in some lavender faggots. If your persona is late period, you could make a pomander.
Disclaimer: I have not tried either of the following recipes, but please let me know if you give them a go!

Cream Perfume
2 tablespoons grated beeswax 2 tablespoons sweet almond oil
1-2 teaspoons pure essential oils
Melt beeswax in an enamel or glass pan over boiling water. Add sweet almond oil; combine. Be patient with this step; it's important to blend them completely. Allow the mixture to cool slightly before adding oils of your choice. Fill small clean, dry glass jars with the solid perfume.

Body Spray
1 cup Everclear
1 teaspoon glycerin
1 teaspoon essential oils
Place ingredients into a sealable glass jar. Shake the jar vigorously until all ingredients are well combined. Decant into a glass bottle with a fine mist sprayer attached.

Here are some suggestions for period scents that are widely available today. You may want to do a bit more research as to what existed in your area at your time. Obviously, Middle Eastern personas would have had better access to more exotic oils, whereas lavender and rose would have been readily obtainable throughout most of Europe.




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As I’ve said before, I prefer to cook my meals ahead of time. Since my diet is restricted to organics, joining in on a meal plan with campmates is out of the question. Not to mention I’m not a member of a household yet, although there is a group with which I usually camp. I have a small tripod burner, but no sturdy table to use in the kitchen so it’s unwise to use it in fields of sun-baked grass. People literally have scars, both emotional and physical, from my mundane cooking. (Don’t worry, the doctors say they will heal in time). Besides, who wants to waste perfectly good event time or cook in the heat? Not to mention the lack of fun in cooking for one. If you’re a chef, then I recommend looking elsewhere for advice.
I favour finger foods so I don’t have to do dishes in camp or when I get home. My typical breakfast consists of fruit scones and tea. Even though I’m not in on my camp’s kitchen, I steal a bowl of hot water in the mornings for washing up and the tea in exchange for chores. In addition to set up, tear down, and generally keeping things tidy I’ll get up early to make the hot water and coffee or help with dishes.
There is the ever popular fruit, jerky, and bread and cheese. I bake a loaf of French bread and wrap it in a napkin or towel so I can just tear off hunks as I go, and pre-slicing cheese is always a good idea. I eat largely vegetarian because it’s hard to find organic meats where I live, not to mention they can be fairly expensive. If you can, sausage is a fine accompaniment. Other snacks for the sweet-toothed are cookies, fruit pies, or extra scones.
There are lots of period meat pie recipes out there; however, I haven’t tried them. My pie crusts always suck, not matter the recipe, but I make a batch of the dough. Then I cook up some hamburger and vegetables, fill up bits of the dough so that the finished product is shaped like a calzone that fits comfortably in the hand, and bake it at 350°F until browned, about 20-25 minutes. Cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, and onions are good vegetables to use, basically making a stew without the stew. While spices were expensive and hard to come by, herbs were both grown and wildcrafted for a variety of uses. That being said, I still use black pepper and a dash of salt. Basil, fennel, garlic, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme are good choices with varying degrees of authenticity.
My cooler is a Goodwill find, and therefore is a little battered but perfectly serviceable. The food needs to at least stay cool, even though it’s already been cooked and might not be reheated. I pack meals in either individual hippyware (it’s like Tupperware, but in a previous life was plastic food containers) or tinfoil, which can also be reused at home for scrubbing in lieu of steel wool. I square and hem cloth scraps for napkins and hankies, depending on the size. If I’m busy, I just grab a pie or a snack and use a napkin as both a plate and to protect my garb since tables tend to be rare commodities.
Here are some recipes for sweet baked goods from various sources.

2 cups hot milk 1 ½ cups instant oatmeal 1 egg
½ tsp. baking soda 1 tbsp. grated orange peel 1 tbsp. chopped almonds
In a large bowl, pour the milk over the oatmeal; let it sit for 10 minutes. Beat in the egg, baking soda, orange peel and almonds. Consistency should be like a thick pancake batter. If the batter is too thin, add more oatmeal; if too thick, add a little milk. Heat griddle over a moderate flame, grease. Pour the batter onto the griddle; cook until bubbles form. Flip and cook the other side. Best served with butter and honey. Yields: 12 (2 inch) bannocks

Scones, Lemon-Oat
1/3 cup margarine or butter 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
3 tablespoons sugar 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten ½ cup chopped almonds, toasted
4-6 tbsp. half-and-half 1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Cut margarine into flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, lemon peel and salt with pastry blender in medium bowl until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in 1 egg, the almonds and just enough half-and-half so dough leaves side of bowl.
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; gently roll in flour to coat. Knead lightly 10 times. Roll or pat 1/2 inch thick. Cut with floured 2-inch round cutter or cut into diamond shapes with sharp knife. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Brush 1 egg over dough.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack. Split scones; spread with margarine and serve with strawberry preserves if desired.

Scones, Cranberry Cream
2 cups flour 1/3 cup sugar 1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt ½ cup cranberries 1 ¼ cup heavy cream
1 tsp. orange zest
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. With a large spatula, stir in the cranberries, cream, and orange zest. Gather the dough into a ball and knead it against the bottoms and the sides of the bowl 5-10 times. Transfer to a lightly floured surface, and pat the dough into a circle with a thickness of approximately 3/4 inch. Cut the dough into 8-12 inch wedges and place 1/2 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush the tops with 2 to 3 tsp. of cream and sprinkle tops with cinnamon and sugar mixture (optional). Bake on the center oven rack for 12 to 15 minutes.

The Long and Short of It

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I will be helping out at Gold Key at the Long and Short of It. Speaking of garb, I had a nightmare last night that I was roadtripping to Pennsic. While driving through Iowa I realized that I had absolutely nothing non-mundane to wear while I was there.

Lebus and Down to the Roots Magazine

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I met a wonderful woman at Lebus who writes a magazine called Down to the Roots. The issue she gave me had instructions on how to build an inkle loom and a rope bed, she even let me have a go on her loom! Each issue is full of good things such as recipes, natural gardening tips, crafts for kids, and other self-sufficiency bits.
If you check out her blog post from August 15th you can see a couple of pictures of me in garb. The first one is of my usual "Huh?" face when I've been interrupted in the middle of something (in this case, a 9-man Morris game) and the second I'm concentrating really hard. Not to mention it was so hot my brain melted out of my ears.
While Lebus was a small event, it was a lot like a warped summer camp. I showed up not knowing anyone and left having met nearly everyone. There was even a talent show and water balloon fight. It helped that I asked the autocrat if there was any way I could be of use, so I got my first taste of voice heraldry. There was a central permanent gazebo encased in concrete. I simply stepped up on a picnic table, faced one direction, and shouted the schedule. Rinse and repeat on the other side of the pavilion and I was done because the acoustics and my projection (theatrical experience) carried so well over the small encampment. I was even asked to do town cry at Summits Coronet. Muahaha... I mean, *ahem.*
I apologize for the recent lack of photos, however, my camera's batteries keep dying at events because of the heat and one of my memory chips was borrowed and never made its way back to me.

Useful Accessories That Are Often Underestimated

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A notebook for taking notes, sketching ideas, and exchanging contact information with new friends.

A pair of thick socks will keep your feet warm and help protect against blisters.

A belt, which not only completes your garb, but you can also hang other items off of it such as a pouch, knife, a notebook, etc. On hot days or while working you can tuck your skirt up into it.

A headcovering to protect against the sun, dampen to cool down when it’s hot, keep warm in cold weather, and disguise hair that hasn’t been washed in three days. Not to mention it was a ubiquitous item that many today neglect out of a modern sense of fashion.

A chemise. Again, it completes your outfit by making your skirts fuller and hang properly, and can double as a nightgown. If you have very sensitive skin like I do, it can help protect against wool and linen, which can be rough. I have a small dome tent, so I can step out in the morning in just my chemise to finish getting dressed standing up without offending anyone.

How to Stay Cool at an Event

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I went to Lebus this past weekend, and on Saturday it was 102°F. I run quite warm. So much, in fact, that a couple of my friends and I have been talking about organizing a snow camping event in order to get to wear all of our layers and woolen items at once as they would have done in period. Most camping events take place when it’s too warm for us to do so. Here’s what I did in order to make it through.

First of all: hydration. As most people with first aid training know, if you’re hot but have stopped sweating, you are dehydrated. If you have no appetite, you are dehydrated. If you haven’t needed to visit the biffies in a long time, you are dehydrated. You should drink enough water so you don’t get thirsty in the first place. I reuse all my water bottles, filling them from my water filter. Then I freeze them, saving me from having to buy both ice and water. Plus, I have cold water to drink. If you’re camping with a baby, a mostly empty bottle with a chunk of ice still at the bottom helps keep them cool and entertained.

I am quite naughty in that I’ve been known to hike my skirts up to my knees, especially when a breeze comes along. Also, I made a trip to the store and one of the items I brought back was a pint of ice cream. Several people turned green with envy, despite the fact I had offered a ride to nearly everyone before I left. Best lunch ever. I also wore flip flops as my ankle boots were just too warm. So I cheated a little in the name of comfort.

I pre-cook a lot of my food, baking things like meat pies and scones that don’t require reheating. Less cooking and less dishes.

Wear something on your head such as a straw hat or a linen coif to keep the sun off. And with a coif you can get it wet before putting it on, which feels so amazingly wonderful. Not to mention it hides 3-day old camp hair. Simply getting your hair wet can help as well.

Some people claim that thick wool keeps them cool because it blocks the sun. I, on the other hand, run quite warm and would melt rather quickly from just my own body heat. Linen is marvelous stuff, usually being of a looser weave than cotton and therefore very breathable. Obviously lighter colours are your best option as dark ones absorb solar energy, I just don’t recommend wearing white at an outdoor event. Bleach can only do so much, after all.

Many events here in An Tír are near rivers, so bring something to swim in. A thin, white chemise is not recommended unless you want a medieval version of Girls Gone Wild. I bring along a towel to every event because I am a cool frood. And, as Arthur Dent knows, it’s useful if it rains, you’ve gone swimming, there are showers on site, or even to disguise a modern cooler.

Blessed Lughnasadh!

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I plan on baking some bread either this afternoon or tomorrow.