Friday, May 18, 2018

A Medieval Feast

On May 5th our homeschool co-op held a medieval feast. It was a lot of fun (and a lot of work!) and I thought it would be fun to share some pictures of what we did with you. I wish I would have gotten a lot more pictures and that they were a lot better but this is what I have so here we go...

Preparations for the feast naturally started long before the feast was actually held (as it would have in those days as well). We had been studying the Middle Ages all year long and so we were learning about what would have happened as well as learning some medieval music and dance. We were also working on costumes, decorations and plans for food.

The day before the feast we all got together and worked on some final details. Here are a few pictures from that time:


A medieval feast would not be complete (we are sure) without  serving a peacock. Honestly we didn't pursue the idea of serving an actual peacock but we figured we could replicate the idea. One of the families donated a large turkey (which would not actually have been appropriate for the period) and we called that our peacock. In medieval times they would skin the peacock and cook it and then put the skin and feathers back on the cooked meat for serving at the feast -kind of gross, but whatever! We decided to make a paper mache peacock to go over our turkey for the feast. I made the paper mache part, Megan painted it and Autumn, Gracie and Megan made feathers for it and feathered it.
Chains ready to hold up our chandeliers. Various moms and children worked to get the decorating for the feast done. We decided to use the pew area of our church building for the dining hall so all of the heavy pews had to be moved. It was nice to have a bunch of teenagers for that job.
We had banners leftover from a play a few years ago so they were put into action for the decorating. Trumpets were made (from cardboard tubes) to hang some of the banners from.
It is amazing what some colorful banners will do to change the look of a room.

Stained glass windows were created by covered the windows with saran wrap and then gluing tissue paper onto the saran wrap. It made a very festive look. It was also a very fun job for some of the younger children to work on.
A grandma and a great aunt came to help with the making of Apple tarts/pies. The kids enjoyed using the apple slicers to help make the filling. I can testify that the end result was quite delicious. Elaine pictured with Helen and Martha did a tremendous amount of work to make sure that all the food ended up delicious.
 We were able to find tablecloths or a piece of cloth for every table and candles to go on each one. Emily sent the kids out to the woods to collect greenery and they came in with basically a whole tree. That's boys for you. She had them take it out again to cut into smaller pieces to use on the tables.

  You may notice our bread plates. Trenchers are actually the more authentic name. I don't know that ours turned out super authentic looking but bread trenchers were the common thing to use at feasts. Rebecca and I made 90 + trenchers for the feast. Kandi also brought along a gluten free substitute for those with allergies. You may also notice the knife and spoon but no fork. Forks weren't invented yet so we made all of our feast goers go without as well. There were no major complaints so that was good. :-) Don't bother to notice the cup and napkin. They were not authentic. We simply did not have enough authentic cups for that many people (and we supposed they would not want to share the way the would have in Medieval times) so we just went with cups and bowls that were at the church building. We should have had a basic and towel with a servant for each table instead of a napkin but our servants were also our nobility and so that didn't work so well.
Emily lighting candles - thankfully you can't see the unathentic tool that she is using to do so. :-) I found a way to use some of the olive oil jars that I have been saving. We wanted something to have water in at each table and didn't have pottery or silver pitchers as nice as that would have been. Mara had found in her research that green was the most common sort of glass in medieval times so I thought that would be perfect to use my olive oil jars for water jars.
Costumes are always fun in my opinion. That is not the opinion of everybody but most of the kids seemed to really enjoy them. Quite a few adults got into the costume wearing too. Some people had costumes already or sewed there own but a bunch of them needed help. Heather and I (with grateful help from some who offered up costumes to be used) worked to costume everybody. It was a big job but pretty fun. I really got into the sewing of shepherds hoods especially. They were so easy to make out of scraps, so quick to sew up and really could make you look like you were wearing a costume very quickly.
Elaine had gone to a fabric company near here and told them about what we were doing and they offered a bunch of fabric scraps and trims for free and then gave her larger pieces for a small amount. That made sewing even more fun. The outfits worn were not completely authentic by any means but we all gave the impression of being from medieval times anyway and it was fun.


We tried to get a picture of all who where in costume in front of the banquet all. They didn't all make it into the picture but it was close. There was a cardboard castle wall behind the people and underneath the draping tulle but it is well covered with people. :-)

And then the feast begins!

Here is the schedule and menu:
Parade of the Fancy Foods (so they could then be taken to the kitchen to be put on platters)
1st Entertainment:  “Summer is a Cummin In” performed by the children ages 7 and under.

1st Course

Split Pea Soup
Bread

2nd Entertainment:  “Be Thou My Vision” performed by Zithers Group
2nd Course
Pork                                       Blancmanger                      Carrots
Peacock                               Wortes                                 Beets
Pheasant                             Duck
                           
3rd Entertainment:  “Shiarazula Malazula" and "Greensleeves" performed by Musicians and Dancers

3rd Course
Apple Tart
Ginger Cookies

4th Entertainment:  “Hot Cross Buns” and “Te Deum” performed by Recorder Group
4th Course
Cheese
Nuts
Grapes

5th Entertainment:  “Lo, How a Rose E’re Blooming” performed by Singers

Beverages
Water
Grape juice

Barley water
Megan and Autumn carried the "peacock" around during the parade as it was largely their creation. I didn't get a good picture of them but at least you can see a full picture of the room with our chandeliers, the head table (that was partially empty much of the time as the teens that sat there were either performing or serving at the time) on the raised dais (stage) and the fireplace up in the corner.

Sorry for the blurry picture but this shows the showstopper food - the roasted pig. I had thought it would be really cool to roast a whole animal on a spit over a fire for this feast but as the time drew closer I know that I just couldn't manage to take that on. I had to much going on in my life and not enough experience (the lone experience being a duck when I was a teen - over 20 years ago). So I had given up on the idea but one of the dads in our group did not. He found an Amish family to get the whole pig from for a decent price and then another guy who said he would roast it for free. It was a Russian (I think) man who has roasted pigs many times but was excited to prepare it this time in the medieval style that he had learned from his grandpa 40 years ago. So a big thanks goes to Arnold for transporting the pig around (raw and cooked) and getting all the details figured out and a thanks to Victor for roasting it for us.
 I had always read about "the pig with an apple in it's mouth" before but had never seen it in person until now. I am excited that the kids got to have a real "feast" experience with the roasted pig. A bunch of the boys also tried eating pigs tail - Aaron had of course read about it and thought they should all try it.
The smaller children had bells and puppets to go along with "Summer is a Cummin In".
Angel wore the lovely hat that Megan had made for me for a different month. I was thankful that she was willing to wear it as I figured it would be far to impractical for me and all the work that I needed to do in the kitchen.

Megan and friends played "Be Thou My Vision" on zithers - an instrument that they learned for this feast. I though it was cool to find out that both the words and music to "Be Thou My Vision" were written in Medieval times (the words do sound like that) but they weren't combined until later.
Some of the feasters at our table. Everybody at our table - parents, grandparents and young children dressed in costume which was pretty fun. I loved that some of the grandparents even got into dressing up (even sewing their own costumes).
Our musicians for the Medieval dancing.  Funny story about this picture - when the musicians got up there I saw Aaron sit down on the edge of the stage and I figured he would be hard to see down there so I caught his eye and motioned for him to stand up so that I could get a good picture. He made some motions back at me but didn't move. I looked sternly at him and motioned him up again. He still wouldn't move so I gave up. I am glad I did because I found out later that he was struggling with not losing his pants. I had made pants for him with a drawstring but I guess the drawstring had gotten lost. I guess he decided it would be fine to just pull his pants up, put the tunic over top and then put a belt over the top of that which would hold everything up. Only problem was that it didn't work very well and at this point he was feeling like he could lose his pants at any time so he was generally holding them up when he moved around but he couldn't do that and play the mandolin at the same time. Anyway - thankfully he didn't lose his pants and all went fine.

I am personally not much into dancing (I don't like the sensuality that can go with so much of it) but when I looked into some of the medieval dancing it was actually pretty fun and not sensual and good exercise. We had the kids do a circle dance and a court dance (to Greensleeves) that included some curtsying and bowing.
Just another view of our banquet hall.
The head table. Most of our teenagers sat up here though some ended up not being able to come to the feast. Jonathan sat with them some but mostly he was working at video taping the whole thing so he was up in the sound booth.

Aaron sat at the end of the table where he was able to get up and blow the trumpet whenever anything needed to be announced. Ken kindly agreed to be the herald so whenever Aaron blew the trumpet Ken would get up and announce the next food course or the next performance. Another boy, Zachary, had planned to blow the trumpet but he got sick and was unable to come and so Aaron took his place. Aaron is not good on the trumpet but he can get a fair amount of sound out anyway.

Some lovely ladies at one of our smaller tables.
More lovely ladies (and one young gentleman).
More feast goers.
A bunch of young gentlemen or knights in training perhaps. The one on the left (front) was our jester for the evening.
Several kids had learned to play the recorder over the course of the school year (Mara worked to teach them) and they played a couple of songs.
Mary holding our table's platter of grapes, figs and cheese. There were two types of homemade goat cheese made by a couple of the moms and then some sharp cheddar.
We also enjoyed some nuts.
The final performance of the evening was some plain song singing. It is done accappella and without harmony and was common in that time.
Our family at the banquet. It was fun to have both sets of grandparents there. It would have been lovely to have more family come as well but we limited our guest list so that preparations wouldn't get overwhelming and so that we would have enough space. As it was we did have some extra space but that probably wouldn't have been the case if we could have all invited as many as we wanted to.

Funny story on my dress. I had been working on a dress for me out of a tan colored linen look material. I was embroidering flowers around the hem and it had been one of my last projects as I wanted to make sure that all the kids had clothes first. I took it with me to co-op the day before the feast in case I had time to work on the embroidering. No matter how much embroidering I got done I intended to wear it the next evening. But I couldn't find it. I made a special trip back to the church building to look for it and then I looked for it at home (just in case) and I looked all over the van. No dress. Thank-fully my sister Martha had sent down some dresses that we could use if we wanted to. I had parceled most of them out to other mothers but there were a couple left. So I tried them on and Ken thought I should wear the one above. It wasn't as authentic as the one I was making but it was made in generally a medieval style and I was thankful to have it. Of course as soon as the feast was over I found my dress - right in plain sight in the church office. I don't know how I missed it. I wondered if God somehow worked things out so that I did - telling me that I didn't have time for that anyway.
My dad as a knight. Emily had made this fun addition to our castle (with possibly some held from her mom (Mary).
Kate wearing another dress that my sister sent down - one that they had made for my niece Heidi.
I wished I would have gotten more pictures of the kids in their clothes - it felt like the evening passed in a flash. The dress above was one I remodeled from an adult sized formal dress with spaghetti straps. It was fun to rework it.
Mara was the most authentic person there. She made this wool dress by hand carefully studying medieval styles. Then she is wearing a linen underdress as well. All of it was sewn and embroidered by hand. She made all of her own buttons too. It has been a fun project for her. I made a little crown for her to wear and another Mom gave her a piece of cloth to wear for a "veil".
 Jackie, one of the moms made all of the yummy bread that we ate. There was a leftover loaf that I ended up getting to take home. I wanted to show my lovely tray that I had for some of the bread. Before the feast I had been keeping my eye out for any serving things that might work for our feast. I wanted to make things look as authentic as possible but I didn't want to spend much. My brother Luke had sent over a box of stuff after doing some garage cleaning. In it were 3 wooden things like this - the were cabinet door samples (I am sure something he got from his work at the lumber yard). I thought - those will work for bread plates! And so I washed them up and they worked just fine.

   So that was our feast. It was a lot of work but in my opinion totally worth it because of all the fun we had, the things we could experience and all the learning that went on.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Grill Master's Spatula Review


   Do any of you like eating hamburgers and such from off of the grill? We do! That is always a fun addition to warmer weather. It is especially nice for me because that is the time that Ken does a little of the cooking. 😊

  Cave Tools sent us a spatula to try out not long ago. Ken was happy to put it to work the last time we had hamburgers.  This is a very durable spatula made with stainless steel. Ken liked the way it felt and worked. Besides being able to flip burgers it also has a serrated edge on one side so you can cut meat with it if needed as well. It is 17 1/2 inches long. The flipper part is nearly 4 inches wide. It has a nice place at the end so you can easily hang it up on a hook.

   You can find it on Amazon or directly at Cave Tools. At Cave Tools you can get 15% off by using this coupon code: SPATULA15 .

  Do any of you have fathers in your life that enjoy grilling? This could make a nice Father's Day gift for them.

  What do you all like to make on your grill? We are pretty basic around here mainly doing hamburgers, brats and steak but I know many get very creative with their grilling. I would love to hear what you all make on your grill.


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Spring Always Comes

 Winter has enjoyed hanging on for quite a while this year. I know that it hasn't been just at our place either, I have heard reports of that over much of the country. Unfortunately a long Winter seemed to bring about a lot of complaining. I do get the fact that we are running low on Vitamin D and are truly craving a little warmth and sunshine but I guess I feel pretty strongly that we should be thank-ful in every circumstance and weather just happens to be some of those circumstances. :-)
 And while we are being thankful amidst the winter it doesn't hurt to truly see the beauty in it too! It is gorgeous! These snow pictures were taken a little over a week ago and though we knew Spring was coming in didn't look so much like it.
 We just need to have a little faith. Genesis 8:22 says: “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

 We can trust God that it will come. We can patiently wait for His timing knowing full well that He knows what is best for us.
 And Springtime does come. We celebrate it with some birthday fun.
 By enjoying the bright blue sky.
 Delighting in the buds on the poplar tree.
 Watching things melt away.
 Glorious sunshine! Thank you God!
 Aaron loves the snow when it it here. He loves mountian biking pretty much all the time (snow or mud or) and he loves to kayak. Since he can't ski and skate anymore as the ice was too thin and the snow to spotty he figured it was time to start kayaking.
The river is opening up in the middle and a tiny bit on the edge but there was a huge section of ice in between. He thought maybe he would ram it. No success. That just broke of little chunks but didn't begin to get it all. Next idea - push across the ice to the open water beyond. Back he went to the garage for ski poles and sure enough he was able to sit in his kayak and push himself across and get to the open water. What fun. What a boy!

  Today it was in the 60s. There is still snow but there is more areas of no snow. Spring is here! We knew it would come. God is always faithful!

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