Elderberry Syrup

If you’re in Meridies, you’re probably coughing and sneezing with the change in the season finally arriving. My house is no different, from me coughing for the last few months to the baby hacking. It’s just miserable.

I was clearing my counters before dinner last night and found my little herb collection! I had a whole container of Elderberries!

I found a recipe for elderberry (plus… there are some other goodies in here) syrup thanks to my good friend Pinterest! (Here’s the blog with the recipe I used)

I followed the recipe almost exactly (I transferred the concoction to a bowl one step too early).

First, I mixed the elderberries, water, cinnamon, and cloves in a sauce pan and put it on the heat. The recipe says bring it to a boil then reduce the heat to simmer, covered but vented.

Then let it simmer for 45 minutes until the liquid has reduced to about half.

This is where I got ahead of myself. I poured it into a bowl to cool a bit when I should’ve just left it in the pan to cool. I’m not sure it really makes a difference, but I wanted to be totally honest, here.

Once it cooled, I strained out the elderberries, poured the syrup into a jar, and added the honey. I used locally sourced wildflower honey that I bought in Helen, GA this summer. I found Honey on the Hill’s shop right before a downpour, so my family hung out for a bit waiting on it to lighten up. It didn’t. The honey smells and tastes amazing, though! (You can order it online, if you’re not heading through there, btw. Check out this link!)

My impression, having never made this before, is that it’s really thin. The honey mixed well, but the cinnamon and cloves drop out of it and rest on the bottom of the jar. It mixes in again easily enough with a bit of a shake, but I’d like a thicker syrup, personally. Maybe if it were thicker, the other herbs wouldn’t fall out of it.

Either way, the thinner mixture is easier to drink a couple of ounces than a thicker one would be. So, there’s that.

Notes for next time:

*figure out why it’s so thin

*save the dregs for a tincture

Ideas about usage:

*add whiskey or rum for the sugar coating?

Hmm… next time I’ll try…

I don’t know! What should I do next?

Adventures in Pigment Making… part 3

This entry is a documentation entry more than anything else. I’m pretty sure I didn’t do this right.

My gum arabic powder came in yesterday, so I carved out a few minutes after dinner to play with this. I will take a moment to complain about lack of availability of supplies down here in Forth Castle. It’s surprising, considering we’re home to the Savannah College of Art and Design, one of the premier art colleges in the country. Alas, gum arabic is just not something you find easily around here. The chain stores might sell the liquid form, but they don’t stock a lot of it and most places can’t tell you where to find it on the shelf. Blick has it in stock and, honestly, I just didn’t feel like driving all the way downtown to hunt for it in the store. Call me lazy, if you want, but after the almost unanimous feedback to go with powdered gum arabic over liquid, it seemed like a waste of time to work so hard to hunt the liquid. No one had it listed in stock locally, anyway.

Enter my friend, Amazon Prime! For $13 and some change, a pound of powdered gum arabic was at my door less than 24 hours later. (Here’s what I bought)

Alright, now…

I was told to use a 1:1 ratio of powdered marble to powdered gum arabic, then add water. I measured out about a tablespoon and a half of each and spread it a bit in a glass dish.

Then I poured in some water. This is where I messed up. I added way too much water. It spent the next twenty minutes chasing the mixture to try to get it thickened up a little. I didn’t even measure it, honestly. I dumped in the rest of the marble and matched the amount as close as I could with gum arabic, then stirred and ground more and stirred and mixed more.

Here is where I stopped because it’s actually mixed pretty thoroughly and I want some water to evaporate out of it.

I’m still not happy with it, but we’ll see how getting some of the water out of it affects it. White marble is probably not a good place to start, anyway.

Notes for next time:

*get an eye dropper for adding water

*get a different rock/mineral to start with. Something with color would be preferable.

*getting an actual palette knife might be handy, too. The flat knife I am using here was rough on my wrist. I’m sure the dish didn’t help, but I wanted something to contain the liquid while I was mixing.

Next time, I’ll show you what happened when this mixture dried and wrap up pigment experiment 1. This isn’t over, though. No matter what my bruised hand says!

Adventures in Pigment Making… Part 2

After my research and discussion with Mistress Peeps, I was kind of excited when I walked past some white rocks away the soccer field during my middle daughter’s soccer games today. I nabbed one of my way to the bathroom and messed with it while I was walking. It was rather soft, but the facility was using it as gravel. Hmmm…

I grabbed a few small ones to try my hand at rock grinding when I got home. I have a marble mortar and pestle at home from my herbal fun, so testing rock grinding is not only feasible it’s free! WIN – win!

Here are the rocks I grabbed. I have no idea what they were and asking Google isn’t helping much. Some white gravel is marble, some is river rock, there’s even a reference to beach pebbles (egg rock?), which is most likely, considering I live on the Coast. They’re not egg shaped, but they’re not new, either.

Once I got Her Little Highness (my 8 month old baby girl) settled in her jumper, I broke out the mortar and pestle and started working!

It was so stinking easy! I worked for about twenty minutes and got through half of the rocks I’d grabbed! I have a nice stash of fine white powder to start playing with, now!

Also, with this particular rock, it was super easy to break them and grind them up! I think my class could do it!

Things I learned:

1- wear glasses (need goggles for school) .

2- use the pestle to break the stones into smaller pieces and grind once they’re already pretty small.

3- I need more storage options for the powder once it’s ground. I had a baby food jar, so I used it for this. Maybe I mrsf to buy more baby food in jars or containers with lids!

Someday when I’ve won the lottery, perhaps I can splurge on air tight containers for this. It’s the same problem I have for my herbal dreams, too, I guess. Storage and space…

Next up… making pigment! Gum Arabic, here I come!

Adventures in pigment making… part I

In my mundane life, I’m a 3rd grade teacher. The school I teach at is converting to a STEAM Academy from an IB Academy and we won a 3 year grant from ArtsNow in Atlanta to help us build the A in our STEAM curriculum. Part of the 3rd grade curriculum in Science is a study of rocks and minerals, which I think could easily be paired with the Social Studies standards on studying American Indian cultures prior to the European Colinization in America.

My class built small-scale Inukshuk inspired by the Inuit people of the Arctic Region and it was so much fun. I won’t go into that, here, since it doesn’t really invade my SCA life, very much. However, when discussing rock-based activities, we hit the subject of foraging for local rocks, grinding them up, and making pigments for paint from them. My brain connected this to the American Indians who painted totem poles and animal hides immediately!

Then afterwards, it connected to period pigment making! WHAT? Yeah, you heard me! My work just crossed over my hobby!

So, since I’m toying with how feasibly I could do this with my American Indian unit with Science tie-ins using rocks, what the heck? Let’s play with period processes, too! Obviously, the connection would be more early period, but I’m alright with that!

So, step one is general exploration. I’ve been collecting blog links from all over Pinterest with DiY notes for home made pigments (you can see my collection of pins here). In reading through them while taking care of a baby (so, not very thoroughly), I’ve learned that:

1- you can use a mortar and pestle to grind up rocks,


2- you need a sticking agent

2a) I’ve seen references to gum arabic (on water color diys), egg whites, and oil (for oil paint pigments)

Knowing the local Laurel who has done this before, I asked the indomitable Mistress Peeps (Penelope de Bourbon) about these. Her answer was that:

*oil gives the richest color, but takes the longest to dry and even longer to cure.

*gum Arabic is safe for paper

*oil and egg have fats that leave halos of oil on paper

*egg yolks are used in tempera paints and are good for painting wood, but the finish is “unusual.”

*there are other ingredients needed for egg yolk paints (my opinion here: some of them make this even more a no to use with 8 year olds)

Therefore, for my purposes at school, gum arabic, it is. For my purposes of starting easy and building up from there in A&S-land… also gum arabic!

It’s great when the two go together so seamlessly!

Next up… getting rocks and seeing how easy the rock grinding will be!

Introduction to Knitting

Hello, everyone!!

I am dropping in to link my new class: Introduction to Knitting for anyone who happens to need it! This link will take you to my Google Drive folder of class files, in particular, the knitting class file. Please let me know if you have any trouble accessing it, since anyone with this link should be able to read the docs!

Introduction to Knitting Google Doc Folder




The Lewis Chessmen…Embroidered Knight Part 7




I’m stuck here until the silk arrives. I’m going to go crazy. Please send silk. My Knight in Shining Walrus Tusk needs some more love.


The spear shaft threads are pulling loose, too. I’m going to have to put a band on them to hold them down. I need more Warmth colored silk to do that, though.

This will be me for a bit…


Until next time,