Sunday, January 31, 2010

For what we are about to receive ...*

HMS Victory is a first rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. Started in 1759 and launched in 1765, it was Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar. She is the oldest naval ship still in commission, and now sits in dry dock in Portsmouth, England, as a museum ship. Keep in mind this demonstration was done with less than a full charge.

BLAMMO! (Heheheheheh.)
* ... may the Lord make us truly thankful.

Tired of Rainbows and Unicorns

Sweet Daughter received a new pair of pajamas for Christmas. Due to the concentration of rainbows and unicorns, we immediately dubbed them her “obamapajamas”. She LOVED those things, and wore them every night. Then one night she wasn’t feeling well, spilled medicine down the front of herself, and had to put on a different pair. The next night I heard “Momma, I’m tired of those pajamas. Can I wear my flowered ones again?”

Hmmm. Tired of rainbows and unicorns? Looks like she’s not the only one.

Friday, January 29, 2010

And now for a musical interlude

Hayseed Dixie (a play on the name AC/DC) performs a mixture of cover versions and their own stuff in a style that’s somewhere between bluegrass and rock. They’ve performed in 21 different countries since 2001, which might explain why some Europeans sthink “Dukes of Hazzard” is a documentary.

(Four rednecks with better teeth than Eddie Mercury? What are the chances?)

Or, go listen to a few other classics. They made me smile.

H/T to Theo.

Okay, I'll Bite.

The Zombie Bite Calculator

Created by Oatmeal
Go on. All the cool kids are doing it. You know you want to ...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Oat Scones

One of my jobs at living history events is to coordinate the food for our group. It’s not that others can’t do it, it’s just something I started doing when Sweet Daughter was tiny. Since I was busy tending a small child (and explaining that yes, she really was a real baby*), I didn’t do much interpreting (which I’m not particularly good at, anyway), and this way I felt like I was actually contributing something if I planned the menus and shopped for the food. My goal is to use what food was in season and available for wherever we are geographically. Most is prepared during the event, but the early risers (and the kids) are a lot happier if breakfast is ready to eat as soon as they’re up. One of my staples for breakfast is this recipe for scones. It’s not a period recipe, but they’re usually gone before the public shows up and asks any questions about them. I love that they use melted butter instead of cutting the shortening into the dry ingredients so they’re buttery, quick to prepare, and they travel well. This means I can make them a day ahead of time, and they’ll last through the weekend. Did I mention that they’re buttery?? Oh, and Sweet Daughter really, really, loves them.


1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups rolled oats, uncooked
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon or so cinnamon (optional)
½ cup melted butter
¼ cup milk
1 egg
½ cup raisins (or currants, or dried cranberries, or whatever you’ve got)

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Plump your dried fruit by placing in a small microwave safe bowl, add water to the top of the fruit and microwave for one minute. Set aside – don’t drain the water yet.

Stir the dry ingredients together. Add the melted butter, milk and egg, and mix just until dry ingredients are moistened. Add the drained raisins (or whatever you’re using) and stir them in until just combined.

Divide the dough in half, shaping each piece into a circle about 6 1/2” across. Cut each circle into 6 wedges and place on a baking stone, or a greased baking sheet, and bake for 12 -15 minutes until light golden brown.

*No lie. We were at our first event with SD when she was 5 weeks old. At *least* 5 different people asked me if she was a real baby that weekend. This continued until she was ambulatory.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Reworking a Great Coat, Part 1.

I started with an 18th century-style Great Coat purchased from Flying Canoe Traders. This coat was picked up at an event that was a lot colder, wetter and windier than forecast. I had tried making Shorter Half a GC, but the “one size fits most” pattern I had on hand didn’t fit him , and as a result I had a carcass of a half-finished coat sitting in my sewing room, mocking me, and doing him absolutely no good. So now we had a new coat instead of a case of hypothermia, and I started thinking about ways to make it better.

The very first thing that struck me about this coat was the cuffs and pocket flaps. The pieces had been cut out, stitched around the cut edges, turned right-side out, and attached per usual. They looked – puffy. 18th century wool of this weight held a cut edge and so the raw edges didn’t need to be folded in. The wool on this coat held a cut edge, too, so I ripped out the top-stitching and seam on a pocket flap. I opened up and flattened the seam, marked where the folded edge had been, hand-stitched next to it, and trimmed off the old seam allowance. What a difference! Then I did the cuffs, too.

 Concurrent with this, I worked on the buttons. The buttons that came on this coat were “antiqued”. The size and shape (profile) were okay, but the color -- not so much. Not a problem. Covered buttons are underrepresented in the hobby, anyway, AND I found a wool remnant in my heap o’ scraps that was a good match. I covered all thirty-eight buttons.

Pocket Flap and buttons before and after.

Cuffs, before and after.

Reducing the “puffiness” of the coat made a huge difference, so I top-stitched around the collar and down the front edges making for a crisper, flatter edge.

Top-stitched edges on the left, puffy edges, machine stitching on the right.

Then I stared at that collar. I’d never seen a banded one like that on a great coat, not that that meant anything. From the buttons that went all the way down the front to the large cuffs, I could tell that this coat was a mid-century design, so maybe the banded collar was mid-century, too. Now, at this period in time, a collar that stood up (like the one currently on the coat) was called a collar. If it folded over at all, it was called a cape. I thought adding a cape would change the lines of this coat enough that it wouldn’t look like Every. Single. Flying Canoe great coat out there. It would also update the coat to a more 1780’s silhouette.

Part 2 later if anyone is still reading ...

Obligatory disclaimer: No, Flying Canoe Traders doesn't know who I am and didn't give me the coat. The coat is entirely fine for may impressions, I just wanted to see if I could make it better.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Farb (reenactment)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Farb is a derogatory term used in the hobby of historical reenacting in reference to participants who exhibit indifference to historical authenticity, either from a material-cultural standpoint or in action. It can also refer to the inauthentic materials used by those reenactors.

So, who is farby? The joke is that anyone less accurate than you is a farb, and anyone more accurate is a stitch-counting, hyper-focused whacko who needs to get a life. I've probably been accused of both. At the same event, even. For me, it’s my goal to try to improve upon something each time I attend an event. The important thing is that I do the best I reasonably can at any given time, and try to improve each time I start a new project.

Why am I boring you with this? Why, so I can bore you with a project tomorrow.

Edited to add photo:

These guys look pretty good. Except for the coffee ...
(To be fair, it was before the event began, and they *did* pour it into appropriate containers ...)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

An Impromptu Birthday Celebration

Sweet Daughter wanted to bake cupcakes today. Not just any cupcakes, but “twist” cupcakes, based on her favorite ice cream. A perusal of the Usual Suspects alerted me to the fact that today was an important day in history. Coincidence? Does it matter? Sounds like an excuse for a party to me! A quick Google search found a recipe for marble cupcakes that didn’t require cake flour, and made a reasonable amount. Three people do not need 24 cupcakes. “Need” being a subjective term, here.

First to the party was what we call “The Warmth” because it’s a bit of a stretch to consider carry this packing heat. Problem: Should you really eat a dessert that’s bigger than you’re carry piece? Solution: Carry a bigger gun.

The rest of the guests arrive, including the Browning descendants that live here: Baby Browning, Colt Commander and High Power. Also invited were the marble cupcakes and a nice little Pinot Noir. It was a lovely reunion.

The Browning Family

From left to right: Baby Browning .25 ACP; Colt Commander .45 ACP; GP35 Browning High Power, 9mm Parabellum.

Recipe adapted from Baking Bites.

Marble Cupcakes

1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons cocoa

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a dozen muffins tins with paper cups liners.

In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Add in dry ingredients (except for the cocoa) and whisk until combined. Fill paper cups about half full with the batter (it will be thin – much thinner than a box mix). This should leave you with about one cup of batter. Add the cocoa to the remaining batter and mix thoroughly. Put a large spoonful in each cup and swirl the two flavors together with a knife.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes on a wire rack before frosting.

Makes about one dozen. These have a very distinct buttermilk flavor. I bet they’d be great with orange icing.

(H/T to Tam for the birthday notification.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Garanimals for Engineers

Shorter Half was on his way to a meeting.

Me: “Did you know that you’re wearing a black and gold tie and a blue and white shirt?”

SH: It’s not black, it’s blue. I carefully checked! (We have this conversation every time he wears that tie.)

Me: “Did you notice that the tie has dots and this shirt has stripes?”

SH: ???

Me: (Sigh.) “Are you wearing a jacket with this?”

SH: “Yes, My gray one.”

Me: “Gray? I didn’t know you had a gray jacket.”

SH: “It’s got black threads and white threads. That makes gray.”

Me: “So you’re wearing a herringbone tweed jacket with a striped shirt and a dotted tie. What’s wrong, couldn’t you find any plaid pants to finish the ensemble?”

I swear, I wanted to put a sticker on him that said “I dressed myself today!” I’ve always said I could make a mint making “Garanimals for Engineers”.

To give credit where it is due, when he arrived at his meeting, SH told the entire assembly “My wife wanted everyone to know that I dressed myself today!”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How to Pimp your Pellet Gun

Well, a paint job, anyway. I suppose you could Bedazzle it if you wanted, but that is so not my thing.

You need:

• A pellet gun
Krylon Fusion spray paint in your color choice (I chose a cranberry red.)
• A green scrubbie
• Ammonia
• Blue painters tape
• Newspaper
• A week to let it cure

I picked up a Crosman 760 Pumpmaster -- for around $25. This will be my “go shooting with Sweet Daughter” gun.

I can't get this to rotate. Sorry.

The next step was to take it apart for easier painting. All I needed to do was to remove the bolt that is located under the stock. The black screws on the butt plate are just pretend. Trying to remove them will gouge the plastic and make you feel stupid.

Next, scrub the brown plastic bits with a green scrubbie and ammonia. The directions on the paint can said something about using paint thinner, but I didn’t have any. The scrubbie roughed up the surface a bit, and the ammonia removed the grease.

Then I taped my edges being careful to rub the edges around the brown bits for a good seal, and covered the large bits with newspaper.

Next, you wait for a day when you are home where the temperature is above 50 degrees and it’s not raining so you can use the spray paint. I followed the directions on the can using overlapping strokes, and many thin layers. I did not wait for the paint to dry between coats – I just kept spraying on thin coats until everything was evenly covered. Then I left it to dry for a couple of hours.

Next, remove the tape and paper. Let the paint cure for a week, replace the bolt/screw thing that holds the stock on and you’re good to go.

I suppose you could even paint it black and make it tactical. Adding rails is up to you. Heck, I 'm still working on using sites.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Never too Young to Learn

So. I was wearing my pistol around the house on Saturday while trying out a different holster. (And holster choice is a post for another day …) I said to Sweet Daughter, “Did you notice I’m wearing a gun today?”

Somewhat surprised, she replied “No, mommy.”

“Did you know that sometimes Daddy wears a gun when we go shopping?”

“No ….”

“Why do you think Daddy wears a gun sometimes?”

“In case the Big Bad Wolf shows up.”

“Right. Why else?”

“In case a bad guy shows up WITH the Big Bad Wolf.” (Close enough for a four-year-old. The Big Bad Wolf is the epitome of evil in her world.)

Not only do you not know he’s wearing a gun, nobody else knows, either. When we’re wearing guns, we’re happy to answer any questions you have, but only when there aren’t any strangers around. Did you know that some people don’t like guns?”

“Why not?” she asked, with a look of disbelief. (I swear I am not making this up.) “Don’t they know guns save lives?” (She must really, really like the bumper sticker.)

“Some people are scared of guns.” (Still getting the puzzled look.) “Can a gun hurt you if it’s sitting on the table?”

(She laughs like I’ve lost my mind …) “No!”

“That’s right.* What if it’s in a holster?”


“When can a gun hurt you?”

“If a bad guy picks it up and points it at you and shoots!”

“Some guns can go off if you drop them, but not this one. Do you want to see it?” (Thanks, Cornered Cat!!)

So I show her how I check the weapon to make sure it’s empty, and I show her the grip and trigger safeties. (“Mommy, is that a trigger shoe?”) She asked if she could hold it. I handed it to her, and she IMMEDIATELY turned so that it was pointing towards the wall I use when practicing magazine drills.

“Mommy – we practice shoot this way where it’s safe!”

We don’t discuss firearms much in general conversation at our house. We don’t go to the range nearly as often as we should, or would like to. Sweet Daughter isn’t drilled on the four rules, or made to genuflect towards Ogden, UT, before bedtime. She just picks this stuff up. Don’t ever underestimate your kids. They do listen to what you say, and your actions speak just as loud. Making sure I’m setting a good example for Sweet Daughter makes me a better gun owner, and that makes me a better citizen.

* Not unless your cat has it out for you.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Sweet Daughter asked “What’s ‘unconscious’ mean?” (We were watching The Incredibles. If you haven’t seen it, remedy the situation tout de suite.) I gave her my version, and Shorter Half gave his. I liked her four-year-old summary better.

“So, it's like being killed, but not to death.”

In other non-news, here' are a couple of a pictures to go with this post.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How it started.

I’m not a gun crank. I don’t have to be; I’m married to one. However, when Sweet Daughter had a special request for her fourth birthday, I ventured over to Jay G’s blog to see if he, as another gun crank and a dad, had another perspective to add. I’d been lurking for a while and he and his legions of followers seemed really newbie-friendly. Not only did I get some wonderful advice, I got amazing positive feedback. I’m still gobsmacked.

Go here to see where it all began, and here for the follow-up.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Cast of Characters

Well, there’s me, Nancy. Middle-aged mother to 4 year-old Sweet Daughter, and married to my Shorter Half. (Yes, I'm 6' tall, Rick's not.) I work full time due to necessity as I happen to like living in a house with heat and having food on the table. Hobbies include 18th century living history and the detritus that goes with it, and things that go boom.

Shorter Half, a.k.a. Rick R. Gun/Military/History Geek with ADD. I have never, not once, asked him a question in any of these areas that he couldn’t answer. Once or twice he’s felt the need to fact check an answer, but the Geek button is always on. Always. Oh, and he likes bacon. A lot. This is the man, who while we were in line at a Wendy's, mused out loud as he gazed at the menu, "I don't know if I want chicken or if I want meat." I replied, "Honey, in some cultures chicken IS meat."

Sweet daughter, Susan. Brilliant, kind, silly sense of humor and an absolute joy. Mother’s are supposed to be biased. Get over it.

Monday, January 11, 2010


I’ve got a big box of projects sitting next to my chair. The deal is that if I’m going to be sitting in front of the TV, I have to be doing something useful. Last year, in the space of about 9 months, I accomplished a lot. Since July … not so much. Those 9 months yielded 8 pairs of 18th century knit mittens, a wool bedgown, a black silk bonnet, a cambric shirt, two gowns for Sweet Daughter, a matalesse petticoat, aprons, assorted bags and hemmed linens, refitting the bodice on two of my gowns, a new chintz round gown, a linen waistcoat drafting patterns, assembling garments for others to finish, and a pair of stays (sans binding), among other things. Since then, I’ve been trying to get motivated. Somebody kidnapped my sewing muse and I want her back. With my luck, Ms. Muse has Stockholm Syndrome and I’ll never see her again.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

So it begins.

I've had three people tell me I should start a blog -- not that that's an overwhelming large sample of my acquaintance from which to draw. One was a family member that I don't have as much contact with as I'd like, one is a close friend that I don't see often enough, and one couldn't pick me out of a police line-up. He did use a letter of mine in his blog though, and that's when I starting to consider sipping the Kool-Aid.