Reset

Sometimes, I do really stupid things because my mind is racing 100 miles per hour and I’m multi-tasking.

Tonight’s faux pas? Rendering my portfolio website, Flying Tiger Designs, unusable for the moment. Oops. Guess I’m truly making it a portfolio site with a “best of” showing from shoots that I do.

So, suffice to say, I’m working on resetting that site now. Look for it to be updated by the end of the month.

Ragnarok Stole Everyone’s Soul

… But the event’s feast gave EVERYONE life.


First, my thanks:
To Abbey May, Adeline, Adella, Astridr, Johara, and Sarafina — You all are amazing. Without you ladies, feast would have been a hot mess. Instead, we had an incredibly filling meal that really did make everyone’s day. Everyone poured a lot of love into making Feast, and, really, that’s what it’s all about. Sarafina, thank you so much for stepping in when Johara needed to get checked out. I truly appreciate it more than I can properly express.

To Nicolaa, Cartooth, Raja, Sierra, Avery, Ragnil, and Gillianne — Thank you for being incredible servers and putting up with my last minute changes to the order of the menu.

To Siobhan — You are an incredible feast herald, and your colorful words are certainly a boon to any meal! Thank you for being flexible and understanding when I needed to adjust the order of things that went out to ensure everything was properly cooked.

To Cella and Epona — Thank you for both trusting me and also encouraging me to do a feast that was anything but period. Ragnarok is, indeed, the event that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and I’m glad that I was able to live up to that.

To Her Majesty, Katherine Vivian — My thanks is two-fold for you. First, for being the inspiration for this year’s Ragnarok feast. Second, for traveling across the kingdom to visit us in the back 40 of the Midrealm. You’re an incredible person with a lot of heart and soul, and I think I speak for many of us that we would be delighted to have both you and Alric back out here again if ever you feel up to the trip.

To those who attended Ragnarok’s feast — Thank you to everyone who came out and sat feast. Without you, there literally would be no feast. Thank you for the standing ovation for the kitchen crew. I know, for me, it spoke volumes and hit me to the core. It reminded me of why I volunteer to organize feasts.


The Feast Book


(Click the image above to download/read the recipe book.)


My Unabashed Event Report

As I’m sitting at work with a large iced coffee in-hand, I still feel delightfully overwhelmed by the event this weekend. There were so many good points to it, even with the challenges we faced in the final hours leading up to service.

I’ve mentioned this before, but the SCA is my extended family. I have lots of people in the Society that I love a great deal, but, more importantly to me as a Feast Steward, is that I love to cook for these people. My attitude is this towards food and hospitality: If you sit at my table, I want you to know and feel the love and care that goes into each dish. The bits of laughter, of the passion I feel for making sure people don’t leave my table hungry and that everyone is happy with what they’ve had. I mention all of this because it’s so crucial to this weekend’s feast. 64 people got to come in and sit at my table, and my crew and I made sure that everyone was fed until they couldn’t eat any further.

We received a standing ovation for feast. Before that happened, I snuck out of the kitchen, jug of cold water in hand, and sat off to the side, watching everyone chat amongst themselves and eat until they were happy and full. I saw lots of happy, smiling faces across the populace and head table. Lots of empty dishes come back to the kitchen. There is literally no better feeling than knowing you’ve made someone’s day with a good meal.

When the feast crew and the servers were called up, Her Majesty gifted me with a small first aid pouch and a paternoster made with her heraldic colors, and the crew and servers were all given pewter spoons for their service to the feast hall. For me, the first aid kit and paternoster were incredibly thoughtful gifts and definitely tongue-in-cheek, given the events of the day (which we’ll get to later), especially because I’m a first responder and 911 Dispatcher in my mundane life (though she knew neither of these things at the time).

Master Alexander de Seton also gifted me with a small token of an owl carved from rose quartz. I believe the owl is one of his personal symbols, but that it is made out of rose quartz is even more symbolic and special to me, for rose quartz is a stone that embodies love. For me, food is love made tangible.

Leading up to service, we had some things come up that led to some on-the-fly changes that kind of made things a bit more “fun”:
– Over the last year, the site renovated the space, meaning that where there were previously utensils, there were none. Lots of things that needed mixing on Friday night got mixed by hand: sweet potatoes, cornbread mix, chicken marinade, salad.
– The site’s convection oven is dead. As in wouldn’t heat… So, we used a lot of charcoal (8 large bags, to be specific) and 2 bottles of lighter fluid.
– Because we were using the big ass grill next to the hall, we couldn’t entirely control the temperature of it. The bottoms of the cornbread all got charred. Adella had the fantastic idea to ball them (because the cornbread was still moist) and serve them over a bowl of corn.
– Mom’s turkey fryer is woefully small. I could only fry 3-4 pieces of chicken at a time. Johara brought a huge ceramic-lined pot to use, so that got used on top of a portable burner. If this happens again where I need to deep fry things, I’m totally asking Godryck if I can borrow his burner and will be bringing my big 5 gallon stock pot out, too.
– While pulling chicken from the oil pot, Johara got splashed with hot oil on her left hand. We made her go to the ER to get it checked out, so I lost a person. Sarafina happened to be on site as part of Ayreton’s entourage and thankfully stepped in to help us finish the rest of feast before service.
– In the course of “oh shit, we have a lot of chicken to finish”, we ended up finishing the chicken with cooking it off on the grill just to make sure it was fully cooked all the way through. It was. And it was delicious and tender.
– We ran out of white sugar. I seriously underestimated how much sugar we would need for feast, so that was a thing. What ended up happening is that we had some brown sugar left over from making the sweet potatoes, so that went into the sweet tea. It worked.

After service was done and thanks given to the kitchen crew and servers, the kitchen crew went outside to have some of what was left over and, y’know, eat and have fellowship because, in the words of Astridr and Sarafina, this meal took them to church.

I love these people. They made this an amazing experience, even with all of the challenges. And, if that’s not what soul food is about, I don’t know what is.

Building A Better Tiger: Day 1

Starting Weight: 313.2 lbs
Goal Weight: 250 lbs

Starting A1C: 10.1
Goal A1C: 7 or less

So… This is a hard post for me to write. I’m going to start chronicling my journey to become healthier and more fit overall, and that includes some pretty (to me) scathing looks at my lifestyle choices and the like at present.

As much as I’d like to be perfect in how I view my relationship with medicine and food, my lifestyle is anything but. I make poor decisions all the time, often justifying them for this reason or another. I don’t exercise as much as I’d like to, blaming my irregular schedule. I don’t take my medications all the time like I should. My weight keeps ping-ponging between 305 and 315 pounds, and hasn’t dipped below 300 in quite a few years. I hate how my work shirt hangs on my body and hugs every little curve.

For the last 4-6 weeks, I’ve been excitedly awaiting June 1st to switch my diet over to a low carb, high protein diet… And I did nothing tangible to prep for the day. I mean, I did, but there’s no solid plan right now. I’m kind of just flying by the seat of my pants. My sleep schedule was also thrown off yesterday, too, which doesn’t help matters. So it goes. Today is a new day and an opportunity to do better.

I have mixed feelings about gyms and exercise. I do currently have a gym membership with Planet Fitness, mostly because they are one of the cheaper options out there AND they have an incredibly strong culture of not being judgmental. However, they are also 30ish minutes away from home. I’ve been only twice. I keep thinking about discontinuing my membership there because I’m not using the facilities that I’m paying for, but at $20/month, I can justify keeping it. Maybe I’ll get off my tail and go sometime. My main goal, right now, is to keep working on the Zombies, Run! Couch to 5K program that I started. It’s something that I can do in the mornings right after work on either East or West Campus, plus I like listening to Danheim while running/walking with it. So, that’s what I’ll be doing in the months leading up to Pennsic.

Heavy Fighting. This is something else I keep having mixed feelings about. My headspace isn’t where I need it to be when I fight. I know that’s mostly due to not going to practices consistently. I need to figure out a fighting schedule that works for me, whether it’s going to the Grey Gargoyles/Clovenshield Fighter Practice or going to the local Carraig Ban practice. I miss Wednesday night practice, too, but with working Wednesday nights, it’s not really a viable option right now.

Food. For the most part, I try to make good food choices, even when I eat out. It’s hard, though. I’ve got a sweet tooth, and I know it. It’s also difficult to commit the time to doing meal prep each week… But it’s something I need to do to ensure this venture is successful. Portioning, I know, is key. Something else for me to work on. I also REALLY need to start using MyFitnessPal more consistently. I did really well the last time I did… I’m also considering doing the subscription for it so I can track my carbs more easily.

Medications. Generally, I’m pretty good about taking my medications. However, I’m not, also. I often ignore taking my medications on my days off. It’s a bad habit that I need to break. I may need to start using a pill organizer to make sure I’m keeping up on that. I hate taking my insulin, too. Actually, I hate using a needle on myself. It hurts more often than not. I do want to talk to folks and see about getting a Continuous Glucose Monitor so I can keep better track of that.

So, there’s all that. There’s a lot of things I need to work on overcoming to be successful in this venture, but I’m confident I can do it. Hopefully.

There’s also a headspace component to this because I’m basically flying solo in this. Support is distant (literally), so that’s a bit difficult to deal with, but it is what it is. Onward and forward.

31 Fight Challenge – Fight 1

Today, at the Canton of Rokkehealden’s event Day of Playe 2, I had my first fight of 31.

Many thanks to Siobhan, as MiC, for providing me space to hold the field, and to my friend Zygarr for the first fight of the challenge.

When I arrived on site, I wasn’t sure if I was going to armor up or not. My right shoulder has been bugging me a bit since Tuesday afternoon and I didn’t want to reaggravate it, especially with Swine and Roses coming up next weekend. After a bit of chatting with folks and being prod a bit by both Siobhan and Zygarr, I armored up to fight.

Zygarr just built a new greatsword a couple of weeks prior and wanted to try it out, so I grabbed Nameless (the smaller and lighter of my two greatswords) and we danced. We did 4 rounds of pickups, with each of us taking 2 of the rounds as wins and then having a discussion about greatsword form and headspace following it. Mostly, though, that 20 minutes of fighting did more to restore my confidence in my abilities with my weapons and armor than the last few months of practices have, and that is invaluable to me, especially as I’d faced several bouts of imposter syndrome recently.

1 down, 30 to go.

Be The Knight

There are a lot of things that are swirling about in my head regarding the SCA as of late. It’s where I hang my metaphorical hat when I’m beyond done being a responsible adult and 911 Dispatcher.

The pervasive thought in my head currently has come up because of a parade I’m walking in tomorrow for the 4th of July with some of the Barony of Ayreton members. I asked a question a few days ago: garb or armor? I received responses mostly leaning towards armor, and I agree with them, but for my own reason that representation matters.

To some kid, tomorrow, I’m going to be their knight. And so is my friend, Saraswati.

To some of these kids that will be along the parade path tomorrow, we will represent to them that they can be anything they want to be, even a knight. And that’s huge. That’s what The Dream is about, to me. Being the inspiration to someone when they need it, even if they don’t realize it.

That is why, despite the fact that I am at work tonight and will get zero sleep before the parade, I will armor up tomorrow morning and walk in 80+ degree weather with my Baron and Baroness and members of the Ayreton populace.

Because I’m going to make some kid’s day when they see me in my red tunic, black pants and boots, and silver armor. Because representation matters so very much in this day and age. Because the simple act of me playing the part will give someone hope and make them smile, even if it’s just for a little bit.

So, I’m going to gear up and act like a knight despite being so very far from that goal within the Society.

My Thoughts on Peers

I find it fascinating that many of my SCA friends have been discussing what makes a Peer, or what are Peer-like qualities, at the same time that I am reviewing my own journey thus far and where I want to go from here.

The Peers that I generally tend to affiliate with, I didn’t know were Peers when I met them. They are humble, kind people who don’t need to flaunt their prestige. They’re folks I can share a beer or a glass of wine with over a conversation, and have in many instances.

They’re decent folks themselves and try to encourage others to follow their moral compass for the good of the individual, the Society, and humanity as a whole. They understand that many hands make a task easy (most times).

They’re teachers and students all at once. They seek to expand their knowledge of people, themselves, their craft, and other crafts where they may not show mastery in. They understand that not all lessons come from our elders, and that younger folks have as much to give in their own ways.

They understand that they’re human — they forget, they get angry at times, they hurt, they share joy, they make mistakes, they forgive. And they do not hold the human condition against their fellow person.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As for myself, I personally think I have a while to go before I’m able to competently teach anyone else about my craft (leatherwork), but it’s also fun for me to experiment (see last night’s failed circlet attempt and my first run of my vambraces) and try to figure out what makes things work well. Okay, so that applies to cooking, as well. ;-P

I try to remain humble. While I’m fiercely proud of being recognized by my Barony and Kingdom for the things I’ve done, titles mean jack and squat to me. I’m Samii. Nothing more, nothing less. I know I’ve got a lot to work on and I’ve got miles and years to go on my journey.

I try to remain open to learning and improving. It’s the only way I’ll get better at anything. And, well, though I may be relatively proficient at a few things, I can always find new ways to do them that produce better results or just simply make my life easier.

I try to take experiences with a healthy dose of salt. Even negative experiences offer the silver lining of an opportunity to learn and grow. Crow is often best seasoned with salt and a little beer to wash it down.

I try to remain positive. Always forward. Forward always.

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!

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.

Happy New Year, folks! Well, those of you in the Western world, anyways!

As we start 2015 off, my goal is to make my little corner of the web a bit more active. Recipes, posts, project documentation. You name it, I’m probably going to be doing it. While I’ve had this domain for a while, it’s never really had any direction.  My online portfolio does, of course, but not my personal website, and I want to change that.

That said, the site will likely see some changes over the next few months as my interests and focus shifts towards the SCA and the development of a local group at College of DuPage.

Perhaps I’ll also get off my butt and finally post more information on my primary personas, Samii Tiger and Samson Muskovich, as well!