Root Beer and Fluffy Dresses

It’s bleh out today. Cold, rainy, gray. Everyone and their mother seems to be out at the store or just driving aimlessly out on the roads and people are bananas!

The day started early with a call from my sister, who happened to be at work. The original plan for today – as long as the weather stayed at the “light mist” level and not “healthy rain” or “torrential downpour” – was to bundle everyone’s kids in layers of ren-festy clothing, throw them in the car and head out to Celtic Weekend at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. My sis had already been at work for a while and was a much better judge of what the weather was likely to do for the rest of the day. She decided she was going to bail on the festival for this weekend and I let her know we’d probably do the same. I’d already spent the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival in an increasingly cold and soggy costume and had no desire for a repeat. The day was rearranged to allow for making root beer.

That’s right…making root beer.

Maggie used to make it growing up. When I went to Alaska with her on a vacation I got to try some of their homemade root beer. The taste comes as a bit of a shock after growing up with stuff like A&W and Barq’s. Of course, that’s probably just the yeast.

We had purchased a whole bunch of bottles from Ikea before – the kind with the snap on cap with a little plastic gasket – but hadn’t quite gotten enough. Maggie had scrounged a few more from her grandparents but we still needed about 8 more. That naturally meant another trip to Ikea.

We made it there and back in about three hours. It’s not all that far but, as I mentioned before, people around here are bananas in inclement weather. We needed to swing by the grocery store to pick up the makings for the root beer: 5 lbs of sugar, one small envelope of yeast, and a bottle of root beer extract/flavoring. You tend add all this to 5 gallons of water, stir, bottle, cure and store (the bottles have to lay on their side in a warm place for the first two days, then you put them upright for ten days).

The sugar and yeast were no problem. It was the root beer flavoring that was the big problem. No one seems to carry it. I’m surprised, really, as I used to be able to find it everywhere. I made root beer cookies for Christmas two years ago and had no problem tracking some down then. Now, however…we checked several Safeways, a Giant, Harris Teeter, and Shopper’s Food Warehouse. None of them had it. We finally managed to find some out at Fran’s Cake and Candy Supply – but it wasn’t really what we were looking for.

Luckily I still had half a bottle of the other stuff left over from my cookiepalooza that time. We added the new bottle to the remains of the old and used that. The bottling went pretty quickly, between Maggie and I ladling and funneling it into bottles and Maggie’s little brother ferrying the empty ones in to us and the full ones out to the table. We sealed all the bottles, loaded them back into Maggie’s car (good luck finding a warm, out of the way place to cure them in my house!) and we parted ways.

A part of me knows that I should be downstairs, either working on my thesis or sewing the mock-up of my Halloween costume (I don’t want to cut the pattern out of the good stuff until I know the pattern I’ve chosen will work). The only problem is…even with the heat on it’s freezing downstairs. I’m wearing none-to-stylish jammies at the moment: long hot pepper pants, a shirt with weird sleeves – I’m not even sure how they’re supposed to be classified – and thick, multi-color-striped knitted socks. Not something I’d answer the door in but they’re doing their best to keep me warm.

Enchanted is playing in the other room. It’s not necessarily my favorite movie ever but it’s a fun rainy evening watch. And for a costumer it’s tons of fun. I was able to catch the movie right at the beginning, where Giselle is wearing the huge fluffy wedding dress. I remember seeing the movie for the first time and thinking “ooooooooo….I want that!”

Giselle's Wedding Dress

Giselle’s Wedding Dress

That’s actually a pretty interesting response from me, too. I don’t wear too many dresses in my daily life. When I do it’s mainly for church or the occasional outing with friends, a la Girls Night Out or Non-Romantic Relationships Day (aka Valentine’s Day). Most of the film dresses I fall in love with tend to be on the 1950s/60s end of the spectrum – just a little bit of fluff – or the ones from costume dramas like Elizabeth. I’m not usually the one to desire something big and fluffy. The only thing on my list at the moment that fits that is the Kaylee dress from the Shindig episode of Firefly. Other than that, most of the stuff skews more to the cute (Toad and Po), utilitarian (Night Watch and Hogwarts cloaks) or characters who are closer to my body type and personal style (Velma and Molly Weasley).

The fluffy wedding dress category is usually something covered by Maggie or Angelica’s costume choices and abilities. In fact, Angelica’s done a Belle dress and Maggie’s gone through a Halloween dressed as a Southern Belle. Granted I made that last costume but I wasn’t the one dressing in it.

I decided to hop online and do a couple of searches for the wedding dress from the movie. Of course, when I typed in “Enchanted wedding dress” to Google I mainly came up with screencaps or links to places where people mentioned the other dresses in the movie.

One of the links wasn’t even about said wedding dress. Instead, it was about a pattern the woman had recently created for a 50s inspired dress with lots of tulle underneath. She simply refers to it as “The Enchanted Dress” for want of an actual name.

Although it wasn’t what I was originally looking for I found myself delving deeper into the blog. I’ve gone ahead and volunteered to be a pattern tester but I don’t know that she’s going to take me up on it. From what I can gather she’s based in Brisbane, Australia and I’m sure she’d much rather have people test the patterns who live closer to her. We’ll see. Regardless of how that endeavor turns out, here’s the link to her blog:

Bettsy Kingston: The Enchanted Dress

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