Pennsic XLVII

Hey There!

My favorite vacation has come and gone, and I thought I’d share a few highlights with you.

To be honest, I was a bit nervous about this year considering I was 31 weeks pregnant, and it promised to be a hot week. There were a few “cooler” days, but with Little Bit making me warmer than usual, I’m not going to lie – it still wasn’t the most pleasant of temperatures.

Thankfully, I have wonderful friends and campmates who took extremely good care of me.

The Fellow and I took two 0 gravity chairs and left one in our camp and the other in the camp we often hang out in, so that I had my comfy chair both places where I could relax and keep my feet up. Basically, I either sat in our camp or theirs and  drank copious amounts of Gatorade and water and kept a cool, wet cloth around my neck and for the most part I was pretty comfy.

This was the first year for us to camp in our new-to-us vardo and THAT was a total game changer. It’s pretty easy to set up/tear down and has a lot of room. Next year we want to build some type of storage shelving over the one bench, especially as we may have Little Bit with us and will need floor space for a Pack n’ Play. It also has a full-size memory foam bed and that was every bit as fantastic as I was hoping it would be. The other nice thing about it is that it has a back window and a front door that swings open which allowed for a nice cross draft. It was the perfect temperature at night and even in the mornings it wasn’t too bad because of the canvas top. The Fellow bought me a Ryobi fan that runs off drill batteries and that was such an awesome addition.

My Pennsic mornings typically look like this:

Wake up, coffee, breakfast, shower, get dressed for the day. In between the shower and getting dressed for the day, if I can I like to lie back and take my time getting my hair done and figuring out laces or accessories on the day’s outfit. The Ryobi fan made that portion of the day SO much better as it kept me quite cool, and I was able to just chill in bed for probably half an hour before emerging for my day which is pretty high up on my list of favorite parts of Pennsic.

I knew that garb would be a bit of a challenge this year as all of my apron dresses are quite form fitting, but I had at least one pleated apron dress and counted on my laced front kirtles fitting. They did not. So I was doing a bit of a last-minute scramble when I decided I’d wear what I had and if I had to do a mid-week laundry run I would. Thankfully, a friend loaned me a flowy tunic (that was sooo light it felt wonderful in the heat), and I managed to get through the week only having to wash some bloomers.

I think my goal for next year is to make some more single layer tunics. That way I can go sans-apron dress on hot years, and they’re pretty roomy so they should fit no matter what my weight. (And I weigh as much as a baby elephant right now . . . )

While I spent a lot of time just relaxing in camp (and napping, probably my most favorite thing to do at Pennsic), I was actually surprised at how much other stuff I was able to do. The second camp we hang out with is about halfway between our home base and the market place, so I would stop there, rest, rehydrate, then continue on into “town.”

I picked out about 4 classes on blacksmithing and Viking metal working that I wanted to attend and made it out to two of them. Unfortunately, only one of the teachers showed. The one that I was able to take was on blacksmithing and was entitled “Forging in Clay.” I had assumed that this would be something to do with using clay to make molds or crucibles as I know that’s how Viking Age metal casting was done and figured it probably had other applications. Instead it was a hands-on class where we used a firm clay in place of molten metal. They provided a wooden hammer and anvil, and we learned and practiced hammering techniques. It was a neat introduction, and I really enjoyed it!

The Fellow fought again this war, and I even managed to make it down to the battlefield to watch a battle! I didn’t stay long though because it was truly HOT out there. I don’t know how the fighters stand it with all of their armor and how long they’re out there! Someone posted a video online and you can see him if you watch closely around 3:00 He’s in the yellow tabard with the white legs using the pole arm. He takes an arrow to the throat. (Reason why I don’t prefer to watch the battles. I know they’re all armored up and the weapons are foam and blunted, but it still makes me nervous!)

The camp behind us throws a party on Sunday night so we wandered over there that evening to say hello and enjoy the drums and the dancing. I paused on a bench under a tree for a bit, and while I was sitting I swear Little Bit was kicking perfectly in time with the beat of the drums. I’d be surprised if she wasn’t a dancer. She’s already got better rhythm than her mother and hopefully she’s more graceful too!

There was a torrential downpour in the middle of the week and camp flooded which was something I’ve never seen before. Now I know what people mean when they talk about muddy wars. I think next year we will tuck some rain boots in the car juuuuuuust in case.

We ate good food and hung out with good people and spent nights surrounded by drums in the distance watching shooting stars and had an absolutely marvelous time.

I’d finish this post here, but I thought you’d all enjoy a laugh.

As you know, I can be just a taaaaad bit clumsy.

Well, when we were tearing down the vardo, we had packed up all of the clothes and the chairs and emptied it completely out and were just waiting to fold town the top front/back pieces and secure her for travel. The Fellow had removed the support jacks and then had to excuse himself for a moment. I was waiting for him to return and chatting with a camp mate while sitting on the bed. Everything was fine for the first five minutes until I decided to lie back. I forgot that the jacks were removed, and we were parked essentially in a ditch on a hill. The vardo tipped backwards (Thank goodness the chocks were still under the tires), and next thing I know I’m pointed downhill with my feet up in the air – stuck!

Of course, everyone in camp panics that the pregnant lady is in a runaway vardo with her feet up over her head and rushed over to help. It took two of the stronger men in camp to balance out the weight on the front of the trailer and get me leveled out enough so I could scramble onto safer ground.

Both I and the vardo were completely fine, and my campmates were much more shaken up than I was. (I just laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation.) So lesson learned; jacks stay on until the very end.

Anyone else have any camping mishaps to share?

Pennsic Recap

Hey There!

I know you guys haven’t missed a post, but I’ve been checked out on vacation for a week!

It was SOOOO good to step back from technology and just relax and enjoy our week. You know how you always forget something when you pack? Well, I really try my hardest not to, and I’m usually pretty good about checking and rechecking my lists. (You go to 4-H camp just one year without a towel, and you learn.)

Even though I had my lists made, and I had the camp table stacked in the room with the rest of the camping gear, we somehow left without it. Fortunately, it really wasn’t that big of a deal. I just couldn’t lay things out and keep some of our totes covered like I usually do.

I was excited to actually make it to a class this year, not all of the classes I wanted to, but at least one. I think next year I’m going to try to get the schedule in advance, so that I can plan my week. The class I did make it to was on Anglo Saxon cooking. The instructor made the most amazing salmon and an air-dried beef we all were able to sample.

I’m not a fish person, but that salmon was amazing.  I’m hoping to be able to get the recipe from the instructor and duplicate it!

I surprisingly hardly spent any time in the market. I went down to my two or three favorite shops, grabbed my purchases, and then didn’t spend much more time browsing. I know that I’m not going to pay for garb there as I can make it cheaper at home, and the tribal/leather work things don’t really entice me any longer. So I didn’t spend much time there.

We brought a friend with us for his first Pennsic experience and I think he had fun. I, at least, had a blast introducing him to new things. We made sure he hit the top Pennsic must-dos, like standing in the lantern yurt after dark, watching a battle (We even got him to try on a helmet!), partying in the bog, walking around the lake, napping in camp, working on crafty projects at an arts and science event, and going to court. I think he had fun, but time will tell if he comes back to other events. I hope he does!

I was, more or less, in charge of the kitchen this year, but two of the five meals came frozen and only needed sides. Since I had two evening events, the camp jumped in and helped cook and made sure I was where I needed to be for which I am so grateful. It was such a fun week. Camp mates would pull up their chairs into the kitchen and sit and chat and help. I love it!

I particularly loved making breakfast. We had eggs, sausage, bacon, pancakes, French toast, and one day we made sausage gravy and skillet biscuits which I was surprised turned out really well.

I think next year I may try some hearth cooking just on the side for fun. I’ve never done it before, and I’m really curious about that process.

As always we spend our evening rambling, and I think I was only back in camp before 2:30 one night. Most nights it was actually around 3:00 a.m., and then I was up at 7:30 a.m. to make breakfast. Thankfully, camp coffee is just about my favorite thing ever, and napping in camp in the afternoon/evening is a close second.

I had promised myself that I would do 3 things at Pennsic:

  1. Go to classes
  2. Get a chai latte from the Turkish coffee bar
  3. Get a chocolate milkshake.

I only managed to get one of those things actually done. But that’s ok.

On the way home, we stopped at this old-school, drive-in type ice cream joint  to hit my ice cream craving.  I didn’t get a milkshake though; I got a chocolate bowl with chocolate sprinkles. The Fellow did get a milkshake, but a black raspberry one. It was delectable. Next year some of the friends we camp with are going to caravan home with us, and we will all stop there for some yummy frozen treats.

This year we and two friends stopped at The Fellow’s grandparents’ home as a midpoint on our drive. We swam and had dinner there and sat on the porch talking until our friends headed home. We were so tired we opted to stay the night instead. It was a wonderful evening, and the perfect close to a great vacation!

SCA: Pennsic Dreaming

Hey There!

Guys, I can’t wait until Pennsic. I’m still in crunch-mode – frantically sewing. There are still 7 (Yikes!) garments undone in my sewing room, 3 of which are projects I have only made twice before, and one of those attempts is a mess that I hate to wear, but I can do this. (Right? Right!)

When we start getting this close, I can almost smell the air and hear the drums. My friends on Facebook have started talking about the classes they want to take, parties they want to go to, and the things for which they’re most excited. I thought I would share with you my daydreams of Pennsic that I’m looking forward to!

I want to wake up in a tent to the smell of campfire smoke, stumble out into the dewy grass, and try not to trip into the ditch as I make my way out to the kitchen. No matter how early I get up, I’m never the first one up. Usually, there’s coffee already started (Bless you!).

I usually hang out in the kitchen and chat with the cook and try to be helpful. This year I’ll be the cook, and I love the camp mates who will keep me company and help.


We’ll cook and laugh and recount the events of the night before. One by one camp mates will groggily roll out of their tents with hand-thrown pottery bowls, mugs, or wooden trenchers. More often than not, they’ll just stand in the kitchen or shade fly and eat their breakfast by hand instead of from the bowls.

We’ll sit and talk until breakfast is over, and then I’ll be shuffled out of the kitchen as I’m not allowed to wash any dishes, which makes me uncomfortable and I’ll try to sneak back in to help.

In the adjacent common area tent, the rest of camp will be relaxing, discussing their plans for the day – who is getting ice, who is going to market, what classes people are taking, and who is going to just chill in camp.

After breakfast, I’ll get a shower. There’s something amazing about an enclosed shower that looks up at the open sky and trees. The hot water against the cool morning air creates steam, and washing the dirt from the previous night’s wanderings off of your feet is just about the most glorious feeling.

After we get dressed for the day, we usually make our way to market either for an errand, food, or a class. Then we’ll walk to the lower portion of the campground to a friend’s camp where we’ll hang out for a while. I usually nap in one of their chairs while The Fellow plays a board or card game, and then it’s time to meander back up the hill for dinner.

Pennsic food is amazing – hearty meats with rice or potatoes and veggies, and everything tastes better out of feast ware.

We’ll get the water going again for dishes again and hang around camp until it’s time to go out for the night.

Pennsic has bars and parties of all types. You can go to a fancy kingdom party, a pirate party, Mardi Gras, Hafla, or to a quiet corner bar to just sit and chat. We’ll walk paths in the warm summer air guided by nothing but the moon and torchlight with the sounds of drums, laughter, or the trilling of singers surrounding us.

Finally, we’ll make it home exhausted but exhilarated and fade off to sleep to the sound of drums – ready to wake up and do it again the next day.

moonshine in a teacup night camp

Summer Update: SCA

Hey There,

If you’ve been hanging out with me for a while, you know about my super-nerdy hobby: the SCA.

It’s July, and that means we’re gearing up for the biggest SCA event of the year, Pennsic.

Since I started playing, I’ve really just made any garb (clothing) that I wanted to try out regardless of country of origin or year just so long as it fell within the acceptable timeline of the SCA.

Well, I’ve finally settled on a name and persona at last and while I don’t know that I’ll stick with it forever, for right now I’m portraying a Viking woman. This is exciting for me because now I can begin to pinpoint my garb to a time, location, and style of dress.


While I’m not quite to that point yet, I do want to get my clothing situation more in order. I only have two Viking dress/underdress sets right now, and I’d like to have at least five full sets of  Viking garb so I can wear a different one each day of the week while at Pennsic. If need be, these outfits can be washed and re-worn in different color combinations for greater versatility. (Pennsic tends to be hot, and it would be nice to be able to change out of sweaty clothes.)

As August quickly approaches, I’m realizing that I may have bitten off more than I can chew when I was planning this year’s sewing projects.  I had intended to make three underdresses for me and three tunics for The Fellow.

I always seem to get into a mad, frantic sewing fest the month leading up to Pennsic, and that’s mainly because I haven’t had a functioning sewing machine. Each year I would drive the hour up to my mother-in-law’s and use her machine or borrow it to take home and then frantically sew while I had it.

This year, The Fellow encouraged me to buy both a new Brother’s sewing machine and a serger so we’re all set. I’m going to try to get all that I can sewn up on the machine in the next week or so, and then spend the rest of the time before hand-hemming the more visible pieces.

Moonshine in a Teacup| Viking Woman

I’m hoping the new machines will mean this is my last stressed sewing year. I should be able to work on new projects in the winter months.

I’m excited about this event as I plan to go to a ton of classes. I’ve been working on researching a few areas of interest and not getting very far. I’ve come to realize that I don’t learn well by reading alone, and I think it will be beneficial to be able to listen to someone explain and answer questions.

I’m also looking forward to working in the kitchen, warm summer nights walking by torchlight, naps in the midafternoon under the common tent, trying out random crafts, seeing friends, and slipping off to sleep to the sounds of drums in the distance.

I’m so ready to be there!

What are your vacation plans for this summer?

Pennsic War 2017

It was Pennsic War week last week, my favorite time of  year. You can never expect a week at War to be any particular way. It’s always changing, and there’s always new adventures.

I was kept very busy this year, so there aren’t a ton of pictures for me to share, so this is a text-based post.

This year I was in charge of the kitchen which was certainly a new adventure. We made lots of yummy food on the cast iron and our 3-burner propane camp stove. I have some fun plans for next year, if I help again, now that I know the lay of the land.

One of  the best parts of my War was serving pancakes. At the bottom of the hill from our camp is a gypsy camp that serves food late at night throughout the week. They are perhaps most famous for serving grilled cheese sandwiches. I love to feed people, and when I roam about, I think the people serving always look like they are having the most fun, so I asked my group if they would mind me serving pancakes out of the front of our camp (since we’re right on a main route) to the wanderers who rambled by. It. Was. A. Blast.

We’re already planning on this for next year and fancy table banners are in the works!

Tournament of Love and Beauty

Saturday I went to the SCA event I had been looking forward to – the Tournament of Love and Beauty.

I’m truly enjoying these smaller events. It’s easier to focus on what is happening, to pay attention to the fine work as these events are on a much smaller scale and less overwhelming than Pennsic.

A dear friend was honored in a small ceremony where she became apprenticed (this may not be the correct term) to a Pelican. I’d try to explain what a Pelican is, but I fear it would be confusing, so I’ll let the website here explain.

It was so nice to see some friends, both from my household and a group we neighbor with at Pennsic. I watched a little of the fighting, sang in a bardic competition, and entered the arts and science competition.

There has been some conversation on a friend’s Facebook page about arts and science competitions and their merits. I’ve thought a lot about this, but with my being a novice, I hesitated to chime in. I’ll leave my thoughts here though. I like the chance and excuse to dig into something specifically with a goal to recreate it. I enjoy  researching and designing a project for a specific purpose and then sharing the knowledge I learn along the way. My things are crude at this stage, but I like to put them out there as a “Hey, I learned about a neat thing and tried my best to make a version of it and holy cow! How did they do this in medieval times?!” It may introduce something new to another person. By looking at others’ displays and entries, I learn as well.

My projects for this event were a comb and mirror, both items which were commonly given as love tokens in the 1300s.

My Display


To War!

I don’t believe I’ve mentioned our yearly vacation yet on this blog, which is surprising since I’m usually working on something for it.

When my fellow first asked me if I wanted to go on a two-week long camping trip, my answer was an absolute NO.

He then explained to me about the SCA and his Household (camping group).

For those who aren’t familiar with the SCA, I’ll borrow a description from Wikipedia: “The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is an international living history group with the aim of studying and recreating mainly Medieval European cultures and their histories before the 17th century.”

His group camps more on a “glamping” level. We have a full shower with on-demand hot water and a pretty intense kitchen set-up. Period tents are suggested but not required. We just upgraded from a dome mundane (not period) tent to a still mundane but more acceptable and convenient canvas Kodiak tent.

The event we attend is the Pennsic War. It is usually just called Pennsic and is held at Cooper’s Lake Campground near Pittsburgh. Pennsic is two weeks long; the first week is Peace Week, and the second week is War Week. I only go for the second week.

Throughout the entire event there are classes, shopping, and parties. During War Week, fighters get to participate in several battles or tournaments. There are also arts and science displays. There is truly something for everyone!

One of the requirements for this event is that you make a “reasonable attempt” at garb (clothing). I have been building up my basic garb wardrobe and updating the Fellow’s. Most of our household focuses on Viking or Middle Eastern cultures. I’m leaning more towards German or English, so I’m still researching and finding inspiration.


I want to start playing in the SCA more. I’m excited to try to make it out to some other events throughout the year. I would like to do an arts and science exhibit at War next year, so I’m pondering things for that, and I’m looking for a bow to pick up for archery.

It’s magical to step away from civilization and live in the past for a week or two. You can meander dirt paths lit by torches or stroll around the lake by moonlight to the sound of distant drum circles. There is amazing food and music. There is dancing and wandering performers. You hear “MiLord” or “Milady” and see royals being bowed to in the market place. It’s an absolutely captivating, exhausting, amazing week, and I’m so ready for next year.