Saturday, December 26, 2015

Outlander Homepage Q&A with Theresa Carle-Sanders of Outlander Kitchen

Outlander Homepage Originals 

By Nancy M Guillory admin......

Q&A with Outlander Kitchen: Perfect Recipe for a Happy Hogmanay

After becoming disenchanted with her nine to five career and graduating from culinary school, foodie, and avid book lover Theresa Carle-Sanders, decided to turn her passions into profit with her "Food from Fiction" concept, inspired by a dish in the third installment of the Outlander saga, Voyager.  Already a food blogger, she turned her talents to creating Outlander Kitchen with the blessings, and encouragement from Diana Gabaldon, who wrote the forward for Theresa's Outlander Kitchen Cookbook, due to hit bookstore shelves Spring 2016.  

Now, just in time to ring in a brand new year, with a brand new cookbook, Outlander HomePage enjoyed a Q&A session with creator, cookbook author, and food blogger, Theresa Carle-Sanders.

When you first started your food from fiction project with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander novels, did you research and experiment to compare the difference between modern cooking techniques and utensils, versus the totally made from scratch, by hand methods used in the 18th century, and what that might have on the final result of a recipe? Does having the conveniences of the 21st century make a difference, or does a dish taste the same either way?
Theresa Carle-Sanders: When I first started, I chopped and kneaded everything by hand, just like Mrs. Fitz, Jenny and Mrs. Bug would have done. After all, the three most important tools in any century’s kitchen are your hands and a sharp knife. But, just as the ladies I mentioned above, all had at least one kitchen maid to help them, I eventually began to incorporate modern machines into my Outlander Kitchen.
A standing mixer makes kneading stiff whole-wheat bread dough a breeze, and allows me to multitask, while the machine does all the work. As well, I think all of the cooks in the Outlander series would have appreciated the convenience of a slow cooker, which carmelizes a batch of onions for Bangers and Marsh with Crockpot Onion Gravy with nary a second glance at the pot.

Bangers and Mash
Outlander Kitchen encourages fans to get back into the kitchen and cook from scratch. Whether we use modern appliances or just the basic tools cooks have used for centuries, the most important thing is for all of us to reconnect with the food we eat. "I believe how we nourish our bodies has a direct impact on our happiness."

Outlander Homepage: Diana’s novels span decades, cultures, not to mention the countless unforgettable characters from the Highlands of Scotland, to the Parisian courts, to the hunter gatherer lifestyle of back country living in colonial North America. Do you have any favorite dishes, characters, or book scenes that inspired a particular recipe?

Theresa Carle-Sanders: I have developed a number of character-inspired recipes over the years, including Mr. Willoughby’s Coral Knob, Black Jack Randall’s Lavender Fudge and Laoghaire’s Whisky Sour. One of my favorites, and one I know Diana particularly enjoys, is Stephen Bonnet’s Salted Chocolate Pretzel Balls, which came about after a particularly funny exchange with some Outlander friends on Facebook.
I love food, history and reading. I could quite happily keep myself occupied with one or the others all day long - the evolution of Outlander Kitchen over the years means that I now spend my working day cooking, researching and reading about food across three centuries and a dozen different countries. After all, Outlander stretches across three centuries, and it’s characters travel from Scotland to France to America and back again, with many stops in between. It really is my perfect job.

Bonnets Balls
Outlander Homepage: It’s the New Year/Hogmanay and if someone wanted to cook an Outlander style dinner or serve traditional 18th century Scottish food, which of your recipes, food & drink, would you recommend?

Theresa Carle-Sanders: One of my favorite celebratory meals from Outlander Kitchen is Roast Beef for a Wedding Feast. It’s a delicious easy-to-prepare main course, that takes fans right back to Claire and Jamie’s first night as man and wife, without scaring off friends and family that may not be so immersed in Diana’s fantastical story. Make some roast potatoes and Ian’s Buttered Leeks to serve alongside for a Scottish-inspired meal everyone will love.

A pan of Colum’s Shortbread, and/or the more modern Millionaire’s Shortbread (with caramel and chocolate) is always welcome around a Christmas sweets table, and a late-night Highland Coffee spiked with your favourite dram washes everything, including the stress of the holidays, clean away.

Millionaire’s Shortbread

Outlander Homepage: You have the Outlander Kitchen Cookbook coming out this Spring 2016, Did you ever imagine that you would actually one day be working with Diana Gabaldon, and publishing your very own cookbook based on the food/meals in her best selling novels? What has that experience been like?

Theresa Carle-Sanders: Yes, Outlander Kitchen: The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook is currently available for pre-order from a number of online retailers. It is currently scheduled for release on June 24, 2016.

It’s the joyful culmination of five years of work on Outlander Kitchen and I’m thrilled with the way it’s come together – just a glance at that beautiful cover is enough to make me smile every time! 
I pursued the idea of a cookbook very early on with Diana, but it took a number of factors, including the production of the TV series, and a bit of luck, for my dream to come true. I am eternally grateful to everyone who supported me along the way. I couldn’t have done this alone.

“The food was either terribly bad or terribly good,” Claire had said, describing her adventures in the past. “That’s because there’s no way of keeping things; anything you eat has either been salted or preserved in lard, if it isn’t half rancid – or else it’s fresh off the hoof or out of the garden, in which case it can be bloody marvelous.” (Diana Gabaldon, DOA)

Outlander Homepage: If you could spend the day cooking in their kitchen with them, which one of Diana's characters would you want to spend that time with? Why?

Theresa Carle-Sanders: Without a doubt, it would have to be Aloysius O’Shaughnessy Murphy, the ship’s cook aboard The Artemis in Voyager. He’s an ornery sort, like most of us cooks, and he reminds me a lot of my first Chef Instructor at culinary school, Chef Patrice. 
They won’t abide a stupid question or a lazy sous chef, but if you’re there to learn, they make the very best teachers – just remember to keep your head down, your mouth closed, and your knife moving.
Ith do leòr! (Eat Plenty)

Theresa Carle-Sanders lives with husband ("her Englishman") Howard, on Pender Island, near Vancouver, British Columbia. Please visit her at, and you can pre-order her upcoming cookbook at the links listed below.

Click these links to pre-order Outlander Kitchen Cookbook -
Barnes & Noble - - -

Outlander Home Page wishes you all a very Happy New Year!
Bliadhna Mhath Ùr!

Hogmanay (Scots: [ˌhoɡməˈneː], Scottish English: [ˌhɔɡməˈneː] HOG-mə-NAY) is the Scots word for the last day of the year and is synonymous with the celebration of the New Year (Gregorian calendar) in the Scottish manner.

Eleven-fifty,” Brianna declared, popping into the surgery after me, her own cloak over her arm. “I just checked Mr. Guthrie’s watch.”
“Plenty of time. Are ye coming with me, then?” Roger grinned at Bree, seeing her cloak.
“Are you kidding? I haven’t been out after midnight in years.” She grinned back at him, swirling the cloak around her shoulders. “Got everything?”
“All but the salt.” Roger nodded toward a canvas bag on the counter. A firstfoot was to bring gifts to the house: an egg, a faggot of wood, a bit of salt — and a bit of whisky, thus insuring that the household would not lack for necessities during the coming year.
Diana Gabaldon, The Fiery Cross (Chapter 35)

"Lang may yer lum reek!" Scottish Hogmanay wish meaning May you live long and stay well.

From Outlander Kitchen for Hogmanay:

Highland Coffees for Hogmanay

4 Coffees

Like Irish Coffees, only better. ‘Cause they’re Scottish.
Sugar – 4 Tble
Whisky – 4 oz
Coffee, hot – 3 Cups
Whipping Cream, warmed – ½ Cup

Stir together 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 oz whisky in the bottom of each of 4 glass coffee cups. Pour ¾ cup coffee into each cup and stir well. Slowly pour 2 tablespoons of cream down over the back of a spoon into each cup, so that the cream floats on top of the coffee. (Watch what I’m talking about here.)

Serve, passing the whisky as required.

Slàinte mhath! (Cheers!)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Production Designer Jon
Gary Steele Designs for Two Different Eras In Outlander

By Michelle Paradis

Outlander A married combat nurse from the year 1945, swept back in time to the year 1743 where she finds herself marrying a Scottish warrior, is the premise of the Starzshow Outlander. Creating the worlds from both time periods was no easy feat and production designerJon Gary Steele, known for About Last Night (2014), Footloose(2011) and Burlesque (2010), passionately embraced the project.

Steele had read the book that the series is based on years ago after hearing about it from costume designer Terry Dresbach, who happened to be one of his best friends. They had both thought at the time that it would be a wonderful project to design for. And years later, the two friends found themselves working on the series they had both been so fond of.

They began by working on an electronic look book filled with visual ideas and references for the look of the show and soon after they were in Scotland, preparing for the show. “Both departments, art department and costumes continued to do tons of research. We looked through tons of books, movies and online research,” Steele said.

Prepping sets, locations, props and costumes for an extensive 18th century series was not without its moments of difficulties. But Steele was ready for the massive task. “The challenge was finding enough 18th century location interiors and exteriors. There are tons of beautiful castles and stately homes in Scotland but lots of places have been modernized or it can be difficult to film in certain locations because we need working fireplaces, chandeliers and sconces. So a lot of our interiors are built on stage, which of course is the most fun part for an art department, because we can control every aspect of the sets, floors, walls, ceilings, fireplaces,” Steele explained.

Working on Outlander was especially fun and interesting, even with the challenges to overcome. It was in many ways, a production designer’s dream project. “We were all very excited to do the look of 18th-century Paris because this is considered one of the most beautiful periods for the design, art, architecture and fashion,” Steele said. There were many sets that were fantastic to build and work on. His favorites include the Paris apartment, which was an expansive set that had a cobbled courtyard with balconies that looked into the living, dining and bedrooms, and boasted of a grand curved staircase. “It was also really fun to build the apothecary, which was filled with period details. And the very upscale brothel was also great to build,” Steele said.

The mood on set was extra collaborative and Steele was especially grateful for the great team of amazing artists he worked together with to envision and realize the worlds that make upOutlander. “I would like to stress that it takes a village to design, build and decorate a show like this… The team always does a beautiful job and always goes far beyond what is expected to create an amazingly beautiful look for Outlander.”

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Terry Dresbach and Starz_Outlander give us Wee gifties....

Lots of continuous treats lately from our favorite book series, OUTLANDER!

An article on Terry Dresbach recounts the work that goes into her talented department and excellence of design.

Dressing the Romance of Outlander – The Genius of Terry Dresbach
by HFPA December 17, 2015 a Golden Globes interview

Also on her '18th Century Life' blog, she treats the fans to a dress up paper doll. Which every woman of a certain age (us) remembers cherishing in their childhood. I know I did...  Thank you Terry.

Click link to download Paperdoll from Terry Dresbach's 18th Century Life website
Pdf paperdoll

Terry calls these tidbits, we call them amazing..

And recently from Starz_Outlander Twitter, Facebook and Instagram:

We wish Happy Holidays to the Cast, Crew and production of Outlander! All the OL fans around the world too!

An Open Letter to Caitriona Balfe

OutlanderHomepage Originals
By Nancy M Guillory

Dear Caitriona,

I don’t know if you heard about or saw my open letter to Sam Heughan regarding the objectification of him by some of the Outlander fandom, as well as the media, but that many more fans appreciate his, (and the entire cast and crews) dedication, craft, and talent that goes into making the Starz Original Series, Outlander.

Well, I also want to let you know just how much I and (millions) more book to show fans, enjoy watching you as our favorite fearless female, Clare Beauchamp Randall Fraser.

The first thing I must applaud you for is your graciousness and warmth towards your fans.
I know some would like you to engage more on social media with fans, but since I began working with the fanbase on, fans I’ve spoken to who have met you say, you are always polite, engaging and down to earth. Which is highly commendable especially after a long day slogging about on set locations in the muck and freezing rain.

I also admire how you've managed to maintain your privacy in spite of all the media attention. I’ve never been comfortable with the media’s penchant for intruding in celebrities personal lives.  Just because a person is in the public eye or media spotlight, it doesn’t give the world carte blanche to the intimate details of a star's life or any right to constantly critique their appearance, but of course you always look amazing and greet the public/media with class and poise.

As a southern gal who grew up learning to shoot, ride horses, and being taught all the things that my dad would have taught the son he never had, I have to say, “Dang girl! You are badass!”
When stopping to consider what your role as Claire requires of you. While wearing a corset, tons of heavy fabric and with the beauty requirements of an actress. Usually in extreme weather, to have to run around doing what the male cast mates do and given the fact that you are in almost every scene, well color me beyond impressed.
Just wearing Spanx and a push-up bra feels like I’m wearing a very angry Boa Constrictor, I can’t imagine being cold, and wet, laced into a corset, underneath layers of clothing while riding, running, and rescuing Jamie.

I also greatly admire your bravery as an actress to take on the more daunting aspects of Claire’s character. Surely being so exposed physically and emotionally, in various scenarios, as Claire has experienced, can’t be easy to portray. Yet you do so, with the same grace and dignity the character draws upon in the books to handle the circumstances at hand.  

As a strong woman who has experienced rejection and criticism from men who are intimidated by my independent nature, I relate to Claire, as does so many of the book and show fans. We identify with Claire because she is no shrinking violet. It is not only refreshing but empowering to see a major female character assert herself, using her wits instead of wiles, to survive in such a male dominated, harsh environment.

Outlander fans are grateful to Diana Gabaldon for creating our favorite fiction characters, and we sincerely appreciate you Caitriona, for personifying Claire Fraser so perfectly.

I told Sam in his letter if he’s ever in Louisiana, I know the best whiskey bar in Baton Rouge, first dram is on me, and that same open invitation applies to you too.  Unless you bring Sam with you, then we’ll make him buy the first round, and be our designated driver!  Slàinte!

Peace, love & whisky wishes from Bayou Country!
Nancy McGehee Guillory (Blog queen of

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

From Diana Gabaldon on Facebook for the Winter Solstice. The prologue for Novella Master Raymond.

Blessed be! It's the winter solstice, there's a misty winter moon abroad, and everything has a Shadow--even at night.

‪#‎DailyLines‬ ‪#‎Prologue‬ ‪#‎MasterRaymondsBook‬ ‪#‎NOitisntwrittenyet‬ ‪#‎YESImworkingonBookNine‬ ‪#‎HappySolstice‬

In the chilly season, when the air grows cold and the spiders die, comes a thin time. The days are short, so all the light of them is concentrated, squeezed between the dawn and dark. This is why the light is different, and each thing has a Shadow. This is when the other worlds draw close, and the barriers between grow thin. In a thin time, they say, you must be careful, because you might walk through a cobweb unthinking, and find yourself Elsewhere.
There is more than one other world; no one knows how many. Some beasts can see one; the dogs will sometimes stare at a blank space on the wall of a cave, and their hackles rise at what they see.
Sometimes, I think I see it, too.

Outlander Holiday Traditions

Happy Holidays from OUTLANDER HOMEPAGE Originals 

Celtic Christmas and Yule tide Origins....
According to the longstanding theory, the origins of Christmas stems from pagan winter festivals. One main reason early Christians were able to spread their religion across Europe so quickly came from their willingness to embrace celebrations prevalent among regional populations.

One such example is the Celtic 'Alban Arthuan' a Druidic festival that took place around December 21st, the Winter Solstice. This traditional fire festival celebrated the re-birth of the Sun.
Although a celebration of the Son's birth replaced that of the Sun's, still a number of Christmas - tide traditions - including those the ancient Celts practiced - remain today.

As we look at the Celtic nations, it is interesting to note some similarities among Christmas traditions that cross geographic boundaries. They include, for example: Holly (a symbol of rebirth among pagan Celts, but also of hospitality - it was believed fairies sought shelter inside the evergreen leaves to escape the cold); Mistletoe (believed to have healing powers so strong that it warded off evil spirits, cured illness and even facilitated a truce between enemies); Fire and Light (most notably the Yule log or candle placed in windows to light the way for strangers and symbolically welcoming Mary and Joseph); and door - to - door processions, from wassailing (A Medieval southern English drinking ritual intended to ensure a good cider apple harvest the following year. Traditionally done on New Years Eve) to Wren Hunts. (Irish: La an Dreoilin, December 26th, St Stephens Day.)

Each of the seven nations possesses it's own variations of Celtic Christmas customs. Surrounding cultures and local identity shape these practices as well.

Yule Log:
Among the Pagan traditions that have become part of Christmas is burning the yule log. This custom springs from many different cultures, but in all of them its significance seems to lie in the iul or "wheel" of the year. The Druids would bless a log and keep it burning for 12 days during the winter solstice; part of the log was kept for the following year, when it would be used to light the new yule log.

The ever-present threat of hunger was triumphantly overcome with a feast, and in addition to the significant fare mentioned above, all manner of food would be served at Christmas. The most popular main course was goose, but many other meats were also served. Turkey was first brought to Europe from the Americas around 1520 (its earliest known consumption in England is 1541), and because it was inexpensive and quick to fatten, it rose in popularity as a Christmas feast food.

Humble (or 'umble) pie was made from the "humbles" of a deer -- the heart, liver, brains and so forth. While the lords and ladies ate the choice cuts, the servants baked the humbles into a pie (which of course made them go further as a source of food).

This appears to be the origin of the phrase, "to eat humble pie." By the seventeenth century Humble Pie had become a trademark Christmas food, as evidenced when it was outlawed along with other Christmas traditions by Oliver Cromwell and the Puritan government.

The Christmas pudding of Victorian and modern times evolved from the medieval dish of frumenty -- a spicy, wheat-based dessert. Many other desserts were made as welcome treats for children and adults alike.

Christmas may owe its popularity in medieval times to liturgical dramas and mysteries presented in the church. The most popular subject for such dramas and tropes was the Holy Family, particularly the Nativity. As interest in the Nativity grew, so did Christmas as a holiday.

Carols, though very popular in the later middle ages, were at first frowned on by the Church. But, as with most popular entertainment, they eventually evolved to a suitable format, and the Church relented.

The Twelve Days of Christmas may have been a game set to music. One person would sing a stanza, and another would add his own lines to the song, repeating the first person's verse. Another version states it was a Catholic "catechism memory song" that helped oppressed Catholics in England during the Reformation remember facts about God and Jesus at a time when practicing their faith could get them killed.

New Years and Why is Hogmanay so important to the Scots:
Although some of these traditions are are ancient, Hogmanay celebrations were elevated in importance after the banning of Christmas in the 16th and 17th centuries. Under Oliver Cromwell, Parliament banned Christmas celebrations in 1647. The ban was lifted after Cromwell's downfall in 1660. But in Scotland, the stricter Scottish Presbyterian Church had been discouraging Christmas celebrations - as having no basis in the Bible, from as early as 1583. After the Cromwellian ban was lifted elsewhere, Christmas festivities continued to be discouraged in Scotland. In fact, Christmas remained a normal working day in Scotland until 1958 and Boxing Day did not become a National Holiday until much later.

But the impulse to party, and to put the products of Scotland's famous distilleries to good use, could not be repressed. In effect, Hogmanay became Scotland's main outlet for the mid-winter impulse to chase away the darkness with light, warmth and festivities.

Cast Traditions :
Every family has traditions that they enjoy sharing around the Holidays, some passed down for generations.

We asked a few of The OUTLANDER CAST and CREW follows, what their Holidays are like, during Christmas and New Years. We received responses that range from, when they were young from their childhood homes, to what they do now while they are out with friends or with families of their own.

Richard Kahan - Season two writer: "We have a refillable Advent calendar that we load up with vegan chocolates from Sjaaks in Northern California. One of my favorite family traditions!"

Gillebride MacMillan - Gwyllyn the Bard: "Christmas was a time for family gatherings. New Years time was also always a big event when I was growing up. We would go 'First footing' the neighbours to wish them a Happy New Year or as we would say in South Uist where I am from, "Bliadhn' Ùr Mhath". Traditionally you would take a peat for the fire and whisky with you to bring in the New Year. The youngsters of the area would go from house reciting a New Year poem in Gaelic and they would get treats on their journey. Happy days!"

Simon Meacock - Hugh Munro: I guess I don't really have any traditions for Xmas, as such as it's changed for me over recent years with the birth of my daughter. The thing I enjoy most now is getting up with my her VERY early and watching the joy with which she opens her presents. That is priceless to me.

Nell Rose Hudson- Leery MacKenzie: Holiday tradition of mine?? hmmm....I discovered white russians in New York the christmas just after I turned 21 (so was only just allowed to drink there). Now I have to have one (and by one I mean several) every year!

Thank you to all who responded from the cast as busy as they are. We broke up our original Holiday post, into 2 separate blog posts due to its length.. We have a guest Q&A and a complete interview with Outlander Kitchen, coming soon.

From Outlander Kitchen:
No Holiday would be complete without a cocktail recipe from OUTLANDER KITCHEN, for a delicious traditional Scottish drink to try while celebrating with your families.... Outlander Kitchen link for website

To purchase The official Outlander Companion CookBook from Outlander Kitchen

A story with that recipe from Outlander Kitchen: inspired by episode 103

We last left Claire deposited in Davie Beaton’s old closet, quietly shedding a few tears while her erstwhile saviour, the tinkerer, bounced back to Inverness in his little wagon without her.

It’s that last scene of Claire, left alone in the dungeon of despair, that convinced me we need ALCOHOL for Episode 3 of Outlander on STARZ: The Way Out.

Put in the same position, I’m sure most of us would welcome a liquid escape – although I think we’ll put a two glass limit on the Atholl Brose – did you see the way Claire destroyed that Rhenish last Saturday?!

Be careful, lass. Lips loosened by drink generally result in some sort of mishap.

We’re headed back into the Great Hall this week, to enjoy the sounds and story stylings of Gwyllyn the Bard, storyteller extraordinaire.

I like to picture myself in each scene while I’m watching — not in the middle of the action, mind — but maybe perched next to one of those huge hearths, with the fire warming my back? Give me Gwyllyn, his harp, and a wee dram of the Atholl Brose and I’d be happy as a bannock soaked in butter and honey.

Given that Atholl Brose is boozy, sweet and creamy, the most obvious comparison is Bailey’s Irish Cream. I don’t suggest you make that comparison with a Scot in the room, though. Atholl Brose has a long, colourful history – including the quelling of a rebellion – stretching back to 1475; Irish Cream was first available for purchase in 1974.

With a five hundred year head start, I think it’s safe to give the Scots bragging rights here.

Older recipes call for raw egg whites, but I’ve left those out due to food-safety concerns. Mrs. Fitz, Jenny and other 18th C keepers of chickens didn’t have the salmonella and other problems that plague our modern food distribution system.

Even after three years of Outlander Kitchen, I’m still occasionally surprised by how delicious a hundreds-year old combination of basic ingredients can be, even to my modern taste buds. This recipe is one of those surprises.

If you drink – even if you’re not overly fond of whisky – you want to make this. Not one hundred percent convinced? Make a half recipe. Sip it chilled, mix it into Coke on ice. Heck, I bet it makes a damn fine Highland Coffee.

Atholl Brose is at its best when given a few days to mature in the fridge, but it’s still delicious on the day it’s made. If you want to be sipping on Saturday evening, leave the oats to soak overnight Friday, then mix everything together on Saturday morning and leave it in the fridge until just before the show starts.

Atholl Brose

Sweet, creamy and delicious, Atholl Brose is a wonderful after-dinner digestif, and makes the perfect accompaniment to tales told by Gwyllyn the Bard in the Great Hall.

Yield: about 2 Cups
Steel-cut or Rolled Oats – 1 Cup
Whisky – 1 Cup (see notes)
Honey – 2 Tble
Coffee, Table, Light or Single Cream (18% fat) – ½ Cup

Soak oats in 2 cups of lukewarm water overnight.

Drain oats in a strainer lined with cheesecloth or muslin. Squeeze the oats in the cloth to extract all liquid. Discard oats.

Mix 1 cup of strained oat milk with whisky in a large bowl. Gently whisk in honey, until dissolved. Add cream and stir.

Store, covered, in a pitcher in the fridge for up to 1 week. It gets even better on the 2nd or 3rd day, once flavours have had a chance to meld.

Serve chilled or over ice.

Slàinte Mhath! (Good Health)

A high-priced single malt is not necessary for this recipe. A mid-priced blend is the perfect choice for a smooth end result.
If you decide to go the single malt route, I suggest staying away from peat/smoke, as it overpowers the sweetness of the honey and the richness of the cream. Stick to a milder whisky, such as Glen Morangie, Old Pulteney, or The Macallan.
Dairy free? Skip the cream! I tasted my mixture before I added the cream, and it was delicious, even without that 18% fat. To get a slightly “creamier” oat milk, run the oats and their soaking water through a blender before straining.
Atholl Brose is also the less common name for the Scottish dessert, Cranachan…just to confuse things a wee bit.

Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath Ur.... 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Pipes of Christmas” Concerts Return for 17th Joyous Season

From the bold sounds of the bagpipes and the harmonious blending of brass, strings and percussion, to the poetic and lyrical words that complement them, the Pipes of Christmas is a festival for the soul.

Outlander Homepage Originals and Liz Mercado

There is nothing in the world like New York City around the Holidays.

We walked into the Presbyterian Church on Madison Avenue in NYC on Saturday night, which holds about 750 people and were blown away by the sheer size and grandeur of the Church.

The concert is produced by the Clan Currie Society, a non-profit, tax-exempt educational and cultural institution to raise funds for the Society’s music scholarship program.

Debuting in 1999, The Pipes of Christmas has consistently played to standing room only audiences.

Audience-goers return year after year to experience the program, many reporting that the Pipes of Christmas has become part of their family’s annual Christmas tradition.

Performances paid tribute to late film composer Sir James Horner.
The evening also included Scottish, Irish and Welch stories told and sung in English, Gaelic and old Scots dialects. 

We arrived to a full house, and the pipes were amazing to hear in the Cathedral. 

Kevin R Blandford Memorial Pipe band, Solid Brass Doug Haislip Director, James Robinson, William Peek, Sarah Hewitt-Roth, Steve Gibb, Jennifer Port, Calum Pasqua, Susie Petrov, Paul Woodiel, Christopher Layer, Susan Porterfield Currie.

Liz knew everyone, from the Clan Currie organizers, the Caledonian society, to the Bards who read poetry. Who by the way were 3 Braveheart cast members, Mhairi Calvey, James Robinson and Andrew Weir.

Most of the men were dressed in fomal Kilts. Breathtaking. 

This was icing on the cake. Bear McCreary was an Honorary Chairman. 

Of course Liz, my husband Jaime and I, could not resist going out after the concert, Christmas in New York is just magical. Lovely meeting NY Caledonian Society members, and other bloggers.

The following book except from Diana Gabaldon’s (prequal to) Outlander series is called Virgins, and is the Novella about Jamie and Ian as young men, before Claire, before the terrible meeting of BJR, when Jamie's life could have gone in any direction. This is a great piece of Diana's story, not to be missed.

From Diana's twitter page.
Fourth Sunday of Advent

Christmas is almost here! Today we light the fourth candle in our wreath, and think of the cleansing nature of meditation and repentance; not a wallowing in guilt or shame, but a conscious yielding to grace.

[Excerpt from “Virgins”—this is a novella, telling the story of Jamie, aged 19, and his best friend Ian, aged 20, as Very Young Mercenaries in France.]

Ian had made Jamie come with him to the cathedral of St. Andre, and insisted he go to confession. Jamie had balked—no great surprise.

“No. I can’t.”

“We’ll go together.” Ian had taken him firmly by the arm and very literally dragged him over the threshold. Once inside, he was counting on the atmosphere of the place to keep Jamie there.

His friend stopped dead, the whites of his eyes showing as he glanced warily around.

The stone vault of the ceiling soared into shadow overhead, but pools of colored light from the stained-glass windows lay soft on the worn slates of the aisle.

“I shouldna be here,” Jamie muttered under his breath.

“Where better, eejit? Come on,” Ian muttered back, and pulled Jamie down the side aisle to the chapel of Saint Estephe. Most of the side-chapels were lavishly furnished, monuments to the importance of wealthy families. This one was a tiny, undecorated stone alcove, containing little more than an altar, a faded tapestry of a faceless saint, and a small stand where candles could be placed.

“Stay here.” Ian planted Jamie dead in front of the altar and ducked out, going to buy a candle from the old woman who sold them near the main door. He’d changed his mind about trying to make Jamie go to confession; he knew fine when ye could get a Fraser to do something, and when ye couldn’t.

He worried a bit that Jamie would leave, and hurried back to the chapel, but Jamie was still there, standing in the middle of the tiny space, head down, staring at the floor.

“Here, then,” Ian said, pulling him toward the altar. He plunked the candle—an expensive one, beeswax and large—on the stand, and pulled the paper spill the old lady had given him out of his sleeve, offering it to Jamie. “Light it. We’ll say a prayer for your Da. And…and for her.”

He could see tears trembling on Jamie’s lashes, glittering in the red glow of the sanctuary lamp that hung above the altar, but Jamie blinked them back and firmed his jaw.

“All right,” he said, low-voiced, but he hesitated. Ian sighed, took the spill out of his hand, and standing on tip-toe, lit it from the sanctuary lamp.

“Do it,” he whispered, handing it to Jamie, “or I’ll gie ye a good one in the kidney, right here.”

Jamie made a sound that might have been the breath of a laugh, and lowered the lit spill to the candle’s wick. The fire rose up, a pure high flame with blue at its heart, then settled as Jamie pulled the spill away and shook it out in a plume of smoke.

They stood for some time, hands clasped loosely in front of them, watching the candle burn. Ian prayed for his mam and da, his sister and her bairns…with some hesitation (was it proper to pray for a Jew?), for Rebekah bat-Leah, and with a sidelong glance at Jamie, to be sure he wasn’t looking, for Jenny Fraser. Then the soul of Brian Fraser…and then, eyes tight shut, for the friend beside him.

The sounds of the church faded, the whispering stones and echoes of wood, the shuffle of feet and the rolling gabble of the pigeons on the roof. Ian stopped saying words, but was still praying. And then that stopped too, and there was only peace, and the soft beating of his heart.

He heard Jamie sigh, from somewhere deep inside, and opened his eyes. Without speaking, they went out, leaving the candle to keep watch.

“Did ye not mean to go to confession yourself?” Jamie asked, stopping near the church’s main door. There was a priest in the confessional; two or three people stood a discreet distance away from the carved wooden stall, out of earshot, waiting.

“It’ll bide,” Ian said, with a shrug. “If ye’re goin’ to Hell, I might as well go, too. God knows, ye’ll never manage alone.”

Jamie smiled--a wee bit of a smile, but still—and pushed the door open into sunlight.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Starz Outlander had a live stream on Facebook with Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan. ..

Live Stream video, Caitriona Balfe Sam Heughan

Some of the questions were hard to figure out, due to sound, but Maril Davis was asking the questions from the Facebook feed. Matt Roberts gave the christmas hats to Sam and Cait on screen.. The hats were dancing, (on their heads) they both said well, that's enough of that and threw them off screen, laughing...

A few of the worth mentioning questions were:

Asked if the two would see each other over the Holiday break, Caitriona said she would face time with Sam, maybe, for Christmas and New Years day, They both said they would be relaxing.

Asked what the two were doing for Christmas, Sam said the New Year was more important to his family tradition then Christmas, Caitriona stayed silent, but both said they would spend time with their families..

Caitriona also said she wanted with Christmas dinner, a 30 year aged Bushmil? Sam said something funny, they both cracked up, so I'm assuming that it isn't going to happen.. ??

Asked what their New Years resolutions were going to be, Sam said he would try a vegetarian diet,  and then said Jamie would start a meat eating diet right after, hinting that the diet Sam would try, may not work out so well. Caitriona said she wanted to start working out more, Sam suggested MyPeakChallenge since Caitriona is inspired by Sam's workout regime and Cait said yes, maybe... they both laughed.

Asked if some of the more intimate scenes embarrassed them to film, they both agreed YES automatically. Sam said something about the extras, Caitriona said it depended on the circumstances. .. but both said of course...

As you can see, it was sweet, they laugh alot with each other....

They both wished everyone  Happy Holidays.....