I Get Around (To Fighter Practice)

Sundays bring with them multiple options for fighter practices: Either head south to Grey Gargoyles, head Northwest to Jaravellir/Northshield, or head Northeast to Ravenslake.

Today, mostly because I knew I was mildly low on spoons after work last night, I chose to go Northeast to Ravenslake. And I’m glad I did. I haven’t been up to Jara’s practice (yet), but every practice I go to offers something different. Today was mainly working on polearm with a bit of endurance tossed in. All told, I was in armor for about 2 hours. I know that doesn’t seem like much, comparatively, but it was decent for me. I tried a new option for fighting garb (my Carraig Ban coat), and I know I’ll have to wear more padding on my shoulders.

It took a bit to let my headspace disengage from its normally wound coil, but when it did, I moved a lot more smoothly. Even though I still have a lot to learn about fighting polearm before I can authorize in it, I felt comfortable and natural holding it, which hasn’t been a “thing” up until recently. I need to make or buy a new shield. Center grip heater shields are not something I work well with despite that being what I have the most experience with. I think, unless I’m fighting melee, I might switch over to sword or axe and buckler. Tzvi also mentioned maces, which would be a fun weapon to fight with in a melee, as well. And I also need to make my dagger. Still.

Got some good feedback on polearm from both Gintaras and Sir Ix, and it definitely helped, getting to practice putting those skills into play.

So, yeah. All told, good practice.

And, then, after practice, I went out to dinner with most of the folks who were at the meeting and practice. Good conversation, good company, decent food. I stayed out WAY too late, but it was totally worth it to spend time with people I don’t get to see often enough.

Let’s Talk About Goals (In the SCA)

I recently shared a post on my Facebook about goals in the SCA and mentioned that I should really write mine down at some point.

So, here we go:
– I strive to be as prow as the Knight. Confident in my abilities as a fighter both on the list and on the field. Striving to be better than the previous day, always looking for new people to learn from and to be challenged by. Recognizing that injuries and illnesses are part of life and that my body needs rest just as it needs to be worked.

– I want to be as giving as the Pelican. Willing to lend a hand where I see it needs being lent AND also knowing when it is better to let someone else help out instead. Knowing when to take a breath and delegate to ensure that the thing gets done and someone else gets the experiences I have had.

– I want to be full of knowledge like the Laurel. Constantly seeking new ways to do things. Always learning something new and dabbling in it enough to know if I want to do it more often. Being willing to teach as readily as I am willing to learn.

– I want to be as graceful as the Master of Defense. Recognizing that one needs to be flexible in our ever-changing Society. Representing the underdog among equals.

Ultimately, I simply strive to be better than I was the previous day. That I can continue to learn from my mistakes, learn new things, and can work towards enriching the SCA and playing the game the ways that I know how.

Dark Chocolate Beer Cupcakes with Whipped Irish Cream Frosting

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Makes 24 filled and frosted cupcakes.

Cupcake:

1.5 C. All-Purpose Flour

6 oz. Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa Powder (4 Pouches of regular, 6 pouches if you use the Simply Dark variant)

1.5 Tsp. Baking Soda

3/4 C. Porter or Stout (I used Revolution Brewery’s Eugene Porter, but Guinness or Dragon’s Milk Stout work just as well!)

1/2 C. Milk

4 Eggs

1 C. Melted Dark Chocolate

3.5 oz. Chocolate Fudge (or plain ol’ Chocolate) Pudding (3 Single Serving Cups)

(Note: You can make the quick and dirty version by purchasing a box of Betty Crocker Super Moist Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix and just substituting the water for your choice of dark beer and following the on-box directions; I heartily suggest using either Guinness or Dragon’s Milk!)

 

Frosting/Filling:

1 Pint (16 oz.) Heavy Cream, Well Chilled

3/4 C. Powdered Sugar, Sifted

1/4 Tsp. Cream of Tartar

2 Tbsp. Irish Cream

 

Cupcake Directions:

1.Preheat oven to 350* F.

2. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.

3. Slowly add your beer to the dry ingredients. It will foam up. Whisk together slowly to incorporate.

4. Add the rest of your wet ingredients and incorporate.

5. Add cupcake liners to your tin and lightly spray (I used olive oil spray. Cake release can also be used.) so the batter doesn’t stick heavily to your liners.

6. Pour batter into liners (approx. 3 Tbsp/cup) and bake for 15-20 minutes (check after 15 — every oven’s different!).

7. Set aside to cool.

 

Frosting/Filling Directions

If you can, chill your whisk attachment and mixing bowl prior to making the frosting. It’ll make things move more quickly.

1. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl (this one does not need to be chilled) and combine.

2. In your chilled bowl, combine wet ingredients. Start your mixer (hand-held or stand mixer) on slow and gradually increase speed until hard peaks form.

3. Once hard peaks form, lower the speed of your mixer and gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing until combined. The frosting will be stiff and will not run once it’s ready.

4. Using a pastry bag and a Wilton #230 tip, fill the bag with frosting. Insert the tip 2/3 of the way into the cupcake, and slowly pull out to fill. Repeat for the other cupcakes.

5. Once cupcakes are filled, take a second pastry bag with coupler and attach your choice of decorating tip (I like using a #32 tip). Decorate the top of the cupcakes.

6. Garnish with mini chocolate chips, if you’d like, and serve!

Stone Dog XII: Russian Into Fun

Hey, you! Yes, YOU!

Do you like games of chance, Darn Good Food, or the chance to earn fame and renown?

Well, you should mark your calendar for April 23rd for Stone Dog Inn XII: Russian Into Fun!

Why? Because we’re bringing a little piece of Mother Russia to the Midrealm, and it promises to be an event NOT to be missed!

(Shameless plug because I’m cooking Feast and I REALLY want y’all to come and enjoy some not-so-strange Russian food (you remember that amazing-looking chicken I made a couple months ago, right?), plus this is one of the SCA events I’m always at because it’s just plain fun.)

Here’s the deets:

When: Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 @ 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM

Where: St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 14700 Kildare Ave, Midlothian, IL 60445

Cost:
Site Fee: $5 for 13 years and older
$2 for ages 4-12
Ages 3 and under free
($5 nonmember surcharge will apply)
Lunch Tavern: $5 suggested donation
Feast: $10 suggested donation
And, because I’m the Head Cook, here’s a sneak peek of the tentative menu for the Feast:

On the Table

Bread

  • Chernyy khleb (Black Bread) – A dark rye bread that was a staple of Russian cuisine.
  • Drachona – A light, toasty egg-based bread often served in Russia.

Butter

  • Plain Butter
  • Honey Butter

 Cheese

  • Cream Cheese spread with herbs

 Drink

  • Kompot – Drink made by steeping dried fruit in water and sweetening slightly. Ours is made with dried apples and cranberries.
  • Water

 

Salad (1st) Course

Mixed Green Salad

  • Mixed salad with crumbled Goat’s Milk Cheese, Candied Walnuts (on table), Chopped Gala Apples, and Honey Apple Cider Vinaigrette

 

Main (2nd) Course

Russian Roasted Chicken

  • Succulent chicken thighs brined in a base of Russian Lager and period herbs.

Herbed Pork Loin

Kasha

  • Traditional Russian buckwheat side dish flavored with garlic and mushrooms.

Cranberry Sauce

Fried Cabbage

 

Dessert (3rd) Course

Medianyky

  • Russian Honey Cookies

Trudonoshi

  • Mini Russian-style cheesecakes served with your choice of Berry or Spiced Cherry Sauce

Snowglobe

Because I do live in Illinois and it’s supposed to be snowy out (it’s not, sadly) for the holidays, I have snow falling on my site through January 4th.

….It kinda makes the site look like a snowglobe, don’t ya think?

 

P.S.

Look for updated information after the new year. I’m finally fleshing out the “Who is Samii Tiger?” section!

Leather, Leather Everywhere

Well… Not at the moment, anyways!

But, yeah. I have leather on the brain currently despite being a week out from IFC (the furry convention I sit on the Board of Directors for currently) and two weeks out from school starting. Thanks to my friend Riley, I have the thought of leather suspenders on the brain. I also want to do more leatherwork for my personal fighter kit. Love the red accents I currently have going.

Anyways, the point of the post is that, in theory, I’m ready to kick off things. Sort of. I’ve decided to forego Kickstarter and just run things through here. Expect to see a page up soon for leatherwork. For right now, the financial aspect of things will be run through this site, but the showcase aspect will be run through Flying Tiger Designs since it’s more the portfolio.

New Ventures?

So, something that has recently been brought up to me again (and that I’d been contemplating for the past few years) is getting off my duff and investing in leatherworking tools. I’m slowly acquiring my own gear to complete (mostly) personal projects, but I also realize that I could do things like making accessories for SCA/Ren Faire events, making harnesses for fashion and practical use, and making collars and leashes for pets.

The thing is, for me to be able to do any of this, I need money for tools and supplies… And it’s kinda tempting to form a Kickstarter to pick up the things I need to form my basic workshop. Thankfully, I have access to a family-owned leather supply store (Yay, I Sachs and Sons!), so my options for leather supplies are more than just Tandy. Speaking of Tandy, I also have access to not one, but TWO stores within a couple hours’ drive of my living space, so I can certainly pick up things when I need to.

The idea is that, in my spare time aside from work and homework (I’m still in school), I’m trying to raise a bit of extra cash to: a) pay off old debts, b) pay down current bills, c) create a savings account, and d) just become a bit more financially solvent. Also, I like working with my hands, so it keeps me happy when I can’t do much outside during the winter.

On Same-Sex Marriage and the Constitution

I rarely get involved in politics; it’s a nasty business that turns even the most mild-mannered individual into a ranting lunatic at best. However, this time, I’m okay beating the hornet’s nest with my very big stick.

When Justice Roberts penned the majority opinion for the recent landmark case Obergefell v. Hodges, he stated that

The right to marry is fundamental as a matter of history and tradition, but rights come
not from ancient sources alone. They rise, too, from a better informed understanding of how constitutional imperatives define a liberty that remains urgent in our own era. Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here. But when that sincere, personal opposition becomes enacted law and public policy, the necessary consequence is to put the imprimatur of the State itself on an exclusion that soon demeans or stigmatizes those whose own liberty is then denied. Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right.
 
The right of same-sex couples to marry that is part of the liberty promised by the Fourteenth Amendment is derived, too, from that Amendment’s guarantee of the
equal protection of the laws. The Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause are connected in a profound way, though they set forth independent principles. Rights
implicit in liberty and rights secured by equal protection may rest on different precepts and are not always coextensive, yet in some instances each may be instructive
as to the meaning and reach of the other. In any particular case one Clause may be thought to capture the essence of the right in a more accurate and comprehensive way,
even as the two Clauses may converge in the identification and definition of the right. See
M. L. B. , 519 U. S., at 120–121;id. , at 128–129 (KENNEDY, J., concurring in judgment);
Bearden v.Georgia, 461 U. S. 660, 665 (1983). This interrelation of the two principles furthers our understanding of what freedom is and must become.

Now, I’m just beginning my career in criminal justice and Constitutional studies, and I do understand that there are nuances to our laws because of case-law examples that have been provided through the ages, but the literal text of Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment states that

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (Source: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_amendments_11-27.html)

As so many more eloquent writers and speakers than myself have highlighted, civil marriage, which is what has ultimately been contested, is a civil privilege granted by the United States government.

You know what that means? For all of those who serve their local governments as Clerks of the Roster or other equivalent positions, the moment that you swore an Oath of Office to accept your government position, you gave up your right to your religious liberties on the job. Your job, as an agent of the United States government, is to uphold the laws and policies from the top down. Which includes the issuing of civil marriage licenses to those parties who request them.  At your job, as a representative of the State, you uphold the United States Constitution’s directives, whether they come directly from the text or from the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), which serves as the de facto authority on Constitutional Law.

To that note, it is NOT an infringement on your religious liberties to do your job and issue a marriage certificate to a couple, be they same or opposite sex. It IS, however, a dereliction of duty if you fail to do so because you claim that your “religious beliefs tell you not to”.

What this ultimately boils down to is that your religious beliefs should not infringe upon your ability to complete a civil process. You do not get to “morally argue” a couple’s civil marriage; if you want to do that, quit your job as a government employee and join the clergy. I am not here to argue whether or not your religious beliefs are valid or not; I will always err on the side of Justice and Equality, however, as they are two of the core tenets that our country was founded on. . . And that does include your right to express your religious beliefs — Outside of a civil service/government position and in your home and community.