Dec 28, 2009

What A Party!!

Memories of Santas & Shotguns

A Wicked Fun Time at Hotspur O'Toole's 3rd Rez Day party!! Many thanks to DJ Freq! for the fantastical playlist and to the Boys in the Backroom (Murakami and Huszar) for the Reindeer skeet shooting game. And thanks to everyone who join us for the silliness - you made the party what it was. :-D

Dec 24, 2009

Blessings to All

and a very Merry Christmas to all my Christian friends!!

Dec 22, 2009

From the Duchess' Holiday Kitchen: Kahlua Brownies

***Countess Rosebud and I thoroughly enjoyed making these together last night. ***

Kahlua Brownies with Buttercream Frosting and Chocolate Glaze
Yields 36 brownies

1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
5-1/3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup Kahlua
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tablespoon Kahlua
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream

2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
2 teaspoons solid vegetable shortening

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch square baking pan. Cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Slowly add flour and continue to mix until blended. Add pecans. When completely combined, press crust into bottom of prepared pan. Set aside.

Combine chocolate, shortening, and butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Cool. Combine eggs, sugars, and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix until blended. Stir into cooled chocolate mixture. Add Kahlua. Slowly add flour and salt, mixing until batter is smooth. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into prepared crust. Bake 25 minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake. Let cool.

Buttercream Frosting: Cream butter, sugar, Kahlua, and cream in a small bowl until smooth and creamy. Spread over cooled filling mixture and refrigerate 30 minutes. More Kahlua may be added to make spreading easier (yes, that's the reason.....easier spreading...yes) . For a less sweet brownie, use half of Buttercream Frosting.

Glaze: Melt chocolates and shortening over low heat, stirring constantly. Cool and drizzle over Buttercream Frosting.

Dec 21, 2009

The Living Light Concert a Success!

Miss Ariesse Heart

Miss Heart, Mr. Ghost, and Lady Eva

Miss Ariesse Heart charmed the crowd as she led the group of music lovers through an overview of how she is inspired and creates such beautiful works of music. A relatively unknown avatar in Second Life, she is one of the best known composers/arrangers of sacred choral music in the (real) world. She has published over 1700 individual works.

In real life she is the wife of Mr. Icarus Ghost's human. They have been married a number of years, and as all learned last night, they are on occasion a creative team on lyric and music composition.

Miss Heart and Mr. Ghost

The crowd were rapt in attention to the music; however, the open chat format of our conversation with Miss Heart proved to be comfortable and a great use of the platform that is Second Life. Questions were freely asked as the music progressed. Comments were made by many in attendance, and Miss Heart described her thoughts and inspiration for specific words or musical techniques.

An Enthusiastic Crowd

Her word- and dynamics-painting is rich in depth of color and quite poignant throughout the pieces. Many in the crowd discussed how individual pieces moved them emotionally.

Miss Reghan and Miss Tehanu

Miss Hypatia

It has been my pleasure to sing and direct a few of Miss Heart's typist's work in my own RL choir(s) and I look forward to even more opportunities to do so.

Merry Christmas and blessings for a healthy new year.


Dec 20, 2009

Holiday Events Enjoyed

A little "postcard" featuring some of the Holiday events I attended in Caledon and Winterfell this weekend.

Dec 19, 2009

What Does Eva's Human Make For Dinner on A Cold, Snowy Day?

Well sometimes she makes this:

~Meat Loaf Rustica~
~Skin-on Mashed Potatoes~
~Salad Greens with feta, almonds, and Monti Iblei extra virgin olive oil, grey sea salt~

Meat Loaf Rustica
6 oz garlic-flavored croutons
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and broken
6 whole cloves of garlic
1/2 red bell pepper
18 oz. ground chuck
18 oz. ground lamb
1.5 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg

For the glaze:
1/2 cup catsup
1 tablespoon ground cumin (sometimes I substitute with garam masala)
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Dash hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon honey

Heat oven to 325 degrees F

Combine first 6 ingredients in food processor. Pulse until a fine texture. Place this mixture in a large bowl. Combine the vegetables in the food processor and pulse untila rough chopped texture. Combine this mixture with the ground meats, then the bread crumbs. Season with the kosher salt. Add the egg and combine thoroughly, but do not squeeze the meat.

Pack this mixture into 10-inch loaf pan to mold the shape of the meatloaf. Turn the meatloaf out of the pan onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Insert a temperature probe at a 45 degree angle into the top of the meatloaf. Avoid touching the bottom of the tray with the probe. Set the probe for 155 degrees.

Combine the ingredients for the glaze. Brush onto the meatloaf after it has been cooking for about 10 minutes.

Almost ready......

Meatloaf is complete when the temperature of 155 degrees is reached.


Dec 14, 2009

A Cherished Diary Entry

One of my most treasured possessions is the small leather-bound journal my mother kept. Her tiny, meticulous handwriting fills the entire book. This particular journal was kept during the period of my childhood, which is likely why I enjoy it so well.

Opening it, the scent of leather, old paper, and a faint scent of vanilla fill the air around me. The red ribbon bookmark is in entry dated Christmas Morning the year I turned 11.

Laying there in the warmth of the fire, I listened to his slow, steady breathing. I smiled to myself as the breathing turned a bit gravel-like. Soon the hearty snoring would start. Over the years the sleep-filled noises of that oft-broken nose have become dear to me. How many years has it been anyway? Three? Twelve? Twenty? In my drowsy, dreamlike state, it was difficult to remember exactly.

I looked over at him laying beside me on the blanket he had laid in front of the fire in the parlor of Caisteal Teanacadh. This has been our tradition for many years . has been many. Each Christmas Eve that we have the good fortune to be in our own home that is. Once Eva has been snugly tucked into her bed with many quilts and one of Jamie's plaids draped over her (She has to have his plaid each night, she says because "it smells like Da - full of sunshine, earth, and hard work." From the mouth of babes...) we settle ourselves in the parlor. Jamie builds the fire up with wood and peat as I pour the whisky and serve him a Christmas cookie or two.

Each year, we dream together on this special night. We will have gone to Christmas Eve Mass with the family earlier in the evening, which inevitably fills us both with such joy and hope that we can't but help thinking about what the future may bring even as we list the things that we are most thankful for from the waning year. What will we be doing? Where might we travel together? Will Eva continue to grow as strong in both body and mind as she seems to be doing? When will we start her training in whisky making? or sword play?

"Sword play!?!" I teased Jamie earlier.

"Aye, Sassenach, sword play. She is mine. Nay doubt canna be when one looks at her - red hair flying in the wind, a few freckles speckling her dear face, the blue and gold of her eyes. Even the way she carries herself when she walks or rides. But the shape of her eyes and her lovely mouth, those are yours, mo chride."

At this he caressed my lips and began whispering in Gælic to me. Words of love and endearment. Words that I rarely, if ever, heard from other men regardless of language - and spoken in such a manner that my skin warmed and flushed without any physical effort on his part or mine.

The discussion of her education in the finer points of swordplay would wait.

And now I sit here at my little writing table in the first light of dawn watching him again as he sleeps the deep sleep of someone safe and loved. Honestly, I think the man could sleep anywhere/anytime. But he never sleeps very deeply save when he is in his own home by his own fire feeling the love of his family.

He is my gift. A gift given to me completely unexpectedly years ago on a winter's night . A gift I shall treasure all my days - and beyond.

And now the bells of the kirk are ringing - announcing Christmas morning. Merry Christmas, indeed!

Dec 12, 2009

Ironclad Battles in The Blakes Sea

Dec 5, 2009

Concert & Chat With the Composer on December 20th at 7pm SLT

I'm am so pleased invite you to the ballroom of my home, Caisteal Teanacadh, on December 20th to listen to a concert* of sacred choral Christmas music by Miss Ariesse Heart - or rather, her human.

Miss Heart's guiding spirit began piano and theory lessons at the age of five, and wrote her first song at the age of twelve. Her first octavo was published twenty years later. In 1992, she became a full-time composer and arranger and now has over 1,500 published works. Over twelve million copies of her songs have been purchased in their various venues, and she has been a recipient of the ASCAP Special Award for the last 19 years.

In addition to her choral music for church and school choirs, her songs appear on thirty albums (four of which have been Dove Award Finalists) and numerous children's videos, including sixteen songs on four gold videos, and four songs on one multi-platinum video.

Her songs have also appeared on such diverse television shows as "The 700 Club" and HBO's acclaimed series "The Sopranos."

I feel so fortunate that Miss Heart has agreed to spend time with us here in the Isle of Skye, Winterfell Anodyne, Second Life, sharing her music. We will all have a chance to chat with Miss Heart during the concert as well as after the music has ended. Unlike RL composer/conductor educational moments, which must take place either before or after the music, the platform of a virtual world gives us all the opportunity to use text to ask and answer questions while the music plays all around us.

Please join me for this special holiday time together. I look forward to the opportunity to introduce you to Miss Heart, and for you to learn more about the brilliant and lovely woman behind the avatar.