Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book review: "The Year of Living Biblically."

I'll start off by saying that I am neither Christian nor Jewish, but I think those faiths are important.  I also respect those who follow them.  The author of this book, A. J. Jacobs, did not initially feel much respect, but was open minded about religion as he pursued the goal of following the bible to the letter for a whole year.

He met with people from many different traditions (The Amish, Jehovah's Witnesses, various Orthodox rabbis, and a bunch of other people.) and also traveled to places like Jerusalem.  It is both a fascinating and a fun read, especially for those who have ever wanted to know what all those proscriptions are that the bible really has for people's lives.

It also reminds me of a ritual that I did for several months.  Every night I would light candles and pour a small glass of wine.  The wine was $13.00 a bottle, and with the size of my glass, two bottles were needed each month.  I complained to myself as I poured at first.  I tried to skimp out, pouring only half a glass.  I came up with various excuses as to why I couldn't pour a glass that evening ("I am too tired" was much used.)  I griped about how much it cost, and how the glasses of wine weren't being put to any good purpose.

Eventually, though, I came to terms with it.  I accepted the cost of the wine as part of my monthly budget.  Complaining about the wasted money came back to haunt me when I wanted to buy things that weren't necessary and which I wouldn't care about after a short while.  Why should I care about wasting money on wine when I would waste it on other useless things?

Anyway, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible is an excellent exploration of faith and the effects of ritual upon our lives.  I might use this as inspiration for adding a few rituals to my life.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Willow bark jar

I love herbs.  One of my personal goals is to know what any local plant is that I spot, whether in a store or in the wild.  My progress is slow because few people have that sort of knowledge these days.  Once upon a time, though, when we did not go to the store for pills for every sort of ailment, people knew what to gather in order to fix what.

I started on this little quest not just because I love history and pagan practices.  There is a more basic reason:  I wanted to stop paying for stuff.  Thus I have been learning to make my own tools, and slowly gaining herbal knowledge.  So far I know how to cure a headache (willow bark) and how to cure nausea (blackberry leaves).  The best part is that I never get headaches, and the people I know wouldn't ever take willow bark tea if I offered it to them.  Ah well.  On to the fruit of my efforts.

I want to save at least a jar full of every herb I know about. This is a jar of willow bark, the first one I learned of.  Dried raspberry leaves will come next.

I make my window into a display, because our apartment is small and shared by three people.  This is my only space to show the world that I am awesome. (This is just a temporary picture.  I'll take another tonight after I get my lights all set up.  The willow bark jar is to the right of the lantern, though, if you can see it.)

My herb books don't have instructions for doses, but this website (http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/willow-bark-000281.htm) suggests the following: Boil 1 - 2 tsp of dried bark in 8 oz of water and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes; let steep for ½ hour; drink 3 - 4 cups daily.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sword recovering

This is a scabbard that I have been meaning to recover for two years.  I forgot to take a picture of it when I finally got the coverings off, which I have been trying to do on and off for those same two years.  I was so excited I had to start working on it immediately.

I don't know what the wood is, but I am covering it with purple velvet.  There will also be some green trim, and more pictures will come when it is done.

I took this when it occurred to me to record this for posterity.  There is a brass covering for the bottom which is round.  This, however, is not round.  Pointy!  :D

Incidentally I tried to recover a chair with this same method.  The chair is sad looking, but the frame is falling apart anyway so my failed upholstery fixings don't matter.  Sometime I'll take a picture to show you what I mean.  (I even used the same fabric.)

More pictures will be forthcoming when this project is more complete.  There is a spot I seriously need to fix before showing off.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Accidental ice sculpture

Crafts are fun, and sometimes we accidentally make them.  This is the result of my leaving a plastic cup full of water in the freezer to get cold.  I have since decided to just get an ice cube tray and add ice.

It looks nifty, I think.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cookie update

I had decided to make cookies for people at work.  I used the "Country Save" sugar cookie mix that I had used previously.  Unfortunately, I decided to use some vegan butter that someone gave me rather than regular butter.  Somehow the cookies got that potatoes-ish flavor many of my vegan/gluten free cookies get.  :/  Sad.

So let this be a lesson:  Don't experiment with different types of butter (Or other ingredients) when you are planning on serving what you are making to other people.