Alexander Skarsgard in a kilt!

So Carol from Australia sent me her photoshopped pic of Alexander Skarsgard in a kilt (with her idea of Brianna), and I wanted to share since this is the only pic of him in a kilt that I’ve ever seen. (She has others on YouTube – just search for  “Outlander through the stones.”) Thanks Carol!

I think we need a shirtless version next time ;) Yay for Skarsgard as Jamie Fraser!

I have discovered the delight of a wee dram

A few months ago, I bought a bottle of Glenmorangie Scotch. I generally shy away from anything stronger than beer, but I had to experience this fabled drink that has such a prominent role in the lives of my most beloved characters. In the Outlander series, it seems that everyone is always drinking Scottish whisky, good times or bad. Jamie is an expert at making the stuff and Roger was in awe of Claire’s ability to knock it back.  Basically, I wanted to know if I could hang with Jamie and Claire.

I started out by pouring it over ice and mixing it with some water. I was surprised at how quickly it grew on me. My husband told his co-workers at lunch one day that he couldn’t get used to the sight of me sitting around sipping on a glass of scotch. They all apparently got a huge laugh out of the idea and joked about me wearing a smoking jacket, sitting by a fire with the hounds at my feet and a shotgun propped against the wall, sipping on my whisky. I’m glad I could be such a source of amusement for the boys at work, but that’s definitely not an accurate depiction. Anyhoo, one of the guys loaned me his copy of The Bartender’s Bible (by Gary Regan) to give me some ideas for mixed drinks.

I flipped immediately to the chapter about Scotch and found myself in an Outlander fangirl’s dream! Names like Whiskey Mac, Black Jack (Randall?), Highland Fling, Macbeth, Ma Bonnie Wee Hen, To Hell with Swords and Garters, and Tartan Swizzle (I could go on, my friends) just scream Jamie Fraser! And when I branched out to include other liquors, I found drinks such as Big Red, Dragonfly (in Amber?), Dunbonnet Fizz, and Gale at Sea (Voyager anyone?). I was so excited to try them out, so I decided to have “Scottish Night” at my place.

I wanted to make an authentic Scottish meal to go with our alcoholic explorations, so I settled on “Rumblethumps” (I got the recipe from Scotland for the Senses– you should check it out, it’s a beautiful site all about Scotland) and bannocks (a.k.a. oatcakes). The Rumblethumps – which is basically just a mixture of cabbage, potatoes, and onions – were DELICIOUS! So cheap, so easy, and so good. My husband even asked if we could have it again sometime this week.

Cheesy comfort food. Mmmmm...

The bannocks, however, didn’t turn out so well. The recipe called for bacon fat, but since everyone at my house was a vegetarian, I opted for butter instead and I think that may have been the problem.

Epic fail.

We pooled our resources and worked with what we had without spending a lot of money. We tried a Black Jack (Randall), Mithering Bastard, and Piper at the Gates of Dawn; all of which were actually really good. The Mithering Bastard was the unanimous favorite.

We kicked off the night with a Black Jack (Randall)

I’ll list a few recipes here to get you started…

Highland Fling (We’d all like to have one of these, eh? *wink, wink*)

  • 2 ounces Scotch
  • 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 maraschino cherry

Combine first three ingredients in a mixing glass half-filled with ice cubes, strain into glass and garnish with cherry.

Scotch Mist

  • 2 1/2 ounces Scotch
  • Crushed ice
  • lemon twist

Pour into a shaker half-filled with ice, shake well, garnish with lemon twist.

Whisky Mac

  • 1 1/2 ounces Scotch
  • 1 ounce green ginger wine

Pour both ingredients into a wine goblet with no ice.

Black Jack (Randall– I can’t not say Randall…)

  • 1 1/2 ounces Scotch
  • 1 ounce Kahlua
  • 1/2 ounce Triple Sec or Cointreau
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker half-filled with ice cubes, shake well, pour into cocktail glass.

I had so much fun with this! Party season is approaching, so why not throw a Scottish party?! I’ve already decided that my next spirits endeavor will be with Jameson’s Irish Whiskey, when I will make a toast to Stephen Bonnett. Plus, Jameson’s has my favorite commercial of all time :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOydQFJdx1k

Happy imbibing, fellow fangirls!!

A Pumpkin Homage to The Exile: page 5

So I thought it might be kind of funny to carve Jamie Fraser’s naked behind (from the infamous page 5 of The Exile) into a pumpkin. Oh boy, was I right. I can’t help but giggle uncontrollably each time I look at it. My hubs even agrees that it’s hysterical.

 Jamie’s bottom glowing like a beacon in the night. What on earth will the neighbors think?! ;)

I’ve got a visual on Lord John Grey…

The entire time I was reading the first 6 books in the Outlander series, I had a very vague mental image of Lord John. And it wasn’t good. For whatever reason, I pictured him as small, weak, blonde-verging-on-gray, and sort of old. Several of my Outlander-obsessed blogging friends cast actors as the characters in the books and it seems a lot of people agree that Jude Law would make a good Lord John. After having read the Lord John series, I now feel wonderfully relieved to have my own mental image…and he’s hot! I’ve decided to play my own hand at the casting game. 

Several months ago, my husband and I rented The Crazies. (I know, it sounds ridiculous, but it actually wasn’t bad.) I found myself being utterly blown away by the gorgeous blue eyes of the actor who played the deputy, so much so that I looked him up. I realized that he was the same actor who played Henry Austen in Becoming Jane (amazing movie, I guess I was too distracted by James McAvoy to notice anyone else in the film). His name is Joe Anderson and while I was becoming reacquainted with Major Grey during the Lord John novels, it hit me that he fits the description perfectly! Shorter stature, lean build, blonde hair, English, slightly feminine yet still a head-turner, and beautiful, big, blue eyes. What do you think? 

This is exactly how I imagine Lord John. Sexy man overload in these pictures!!

 

 

The Lord John Series by Diana Gabaldon

I started reading Echo in the Bone back in late August and decided to stop *gasp* after I continued to have the nagging sensation that I needed to read the Lord John series before I went any further. So that’s what I did. I read Lord John and the Private Matter, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, and Lord John and the Hand of Devils.

Overall, they were okay. Pretty solid, as my brother would say. (I found these books to be much like every Kings of Leon song I’ve ever heard: they start out with a lot of  promise, but never really seem to go anywhere. I hope that wasn’t too snarky? I still love you, Diana G!) On the bright side however, I did develop a definite attachment to Lord John, whom I had always been fairly indifferent towards while reading the Outlander novels, as well as a concrete image of what I think he would look like.

Lord John and the Private Matter begins with LJ accidentally catching a glimpse of what appears to be a pox mark on the manparts of his cousin’s fiance. LJ feels that it’s his duty as an honorable man to do some sleuthing to determine the true character of said fiance in enough time to cancel the wedding. The premise makes me giggle, but I kind of had to force myself to get through this one, and truthfully, I can’t even remember much of what happened. I kept waiting for some juicy Jamie bits, but alas, there wasna any. I did enjoy learning about the mollyhouses and I love Tom Byrd to death, but I don’t really feel that this book is critical to the series.

Lord John and the Hand of Devils is a collection of 3 novellas that each have a supernatural twist, and it turned out to be a great book to kick off the start of October. I actually really enjoyed these short stories, Lord John and the Hellfire Club being my favorite…very, very strange…but strange in a good way. I suppose my overall favorite however is Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade. It’s by far the most substantial of the 3 books (around 500 pages) and I felt that I got the most out of it (a.k.a. it has juicy Jamie bits), and that’s what I’m going to focus on here.

It’s the heart of the Seven Years War and someone is sending pages from the diary of  Lord John’s deceased father to members of his family. His father, the Duke of Pardloe, is believed to have committed suicide after being accused as a Jacobite agent when LJ was a boy.  John has harbored a secret regarding his father’s death for many years and now wants to clear his good name, as well as recover the missing diary. Meanwhile, his mother is preparing to wed General Stanley and John is introduced to his soon-to-be step-brother (and so much more), Percy Wainwright. John and Percy have a bit of an awkward “introduction” since they have met once before during a mollyhouse one night stand (in the Private Matter). Percy joins the army and they begin a passionate affair that lasts throughout the majority of the book until John (and several other army officers) accidentally catch Percy with another man. LJ is then faced with a moral dilemma: to testify to what he saw and potentially sentence Percy to death, or lie in court and free Percy, but put an end to his own good word. The timeframe of the novel coincides with Voyager, when Jamie is working as a groom at Helwater. Lord John receives notice that his beloved friend Geneva Dunsany has died and leaves at once to help console the family, thus seeing Jamie Fraser in the first of many visits throughout the book.

I found it very interesting to see the other side of the Dunsany/Helwater debacle from John’s perspective. Grey had known the Dunsany’s since the early days of his commission, where he became good friends with their son, Gordon. Gordon was killed during the Jacobite Rising and as a result, the family adopted Grey as a sort of foster son. John had known Geneva from the time she was 4 or 5 and Isobel since birth. There is a touching scene where John comes across a rain-soaked and grief-striken Isobel preparing to jump out of the window. He pulls her down and in an attempt to comfort her, confesses that he took to smashing things while mourning his father. He gathers some objects for her to throw out the window and offers to take her out to shoot clay pigeons. It was a very sweet scene, especially knowing  that they would end up as husband and wife. (I would love to hear Isobel’s thoughts on that marriage.)

On the night before the funeral, John walks to the family chapel to sit with Geneva’s body one last time before she is buried. Upon entering the room, he is shocked to find Jamie lying on the freezing floor, in nothing but his shirt, keeping watch. Jamie sounds like he has been crying and John realizes that he must have been performing an act of penance, which leads him to believe they were lovers. (LJ later pays a visit to the new Earl, expecting to find a head full of tell-tale red hair.) Jamie serves as a pallbearer to the Earl of Ellesmere at the joint funeral (scandalous!) and apparently the other manservanst are fearful of him. He sits completely alone while most of the congregation openly gawk at him. John is keeping a careful watch on him as well, and notices that Jamie is clearly showing signs of distress during the funeral, and he wonders if it’s Geneva that he is mourning, or his dead wife.

Later, while still attempting to clear his father’s name, John offers to release Fraser from the provision of his parole if he can provide names of the prominent Jacobites from England during 1741. Jamie becomes very agitated when LJ mentions that he needs the information in defense of his father’s honor, and goes on to give this chilling speech:

I am not merely defeated, nor only imprisoned by right of conquest. I am exiled, and made slave to an English lord, forced to do the will of my captors. And each day, I rise with the thought of my perished brothers, my men taken from my care and thrown to the mercies of sea and savages – and I lay myself down at night knowing that I am preserved from death only by the accident that my body rouses your unholy lust.

One thing that I found a little confusing was the dynamic of Jamie and John’s relationship. Based on Voyager, I had the impression the two had grown to be good friends as a result of spending so much time dining together at Ardsmuir. In Brotherhood of the Blade, however, I felt like Jamie was consistently hostile and unfriendly towards John; and at times, I got the impression that perhaps John felt more lust than actual love for Jamie.

It was very intriguing, albeit a little strange, to see Jamie through a different set of eyes (other than Claire). For example, check out LJ’s description of Mr. Fraser upon first approaching Helwater…

The lines of neck and spine, the solid curve of buttock and columned thigh, the sun-darkened flesh of his throat, sun-bleached hair of his arms- even the small imperfections, the scars that marred one hand, the pockmark at the corner of his mouth- and the slanted eyes, dark with hostility and wariness. It was perhaps no surprise that he should feel physical arousal; the man was beautiful, and yet dangerous in his beauty.

I don’t remember Claire mentioning any pockmarks, but I can definitely appreciate a fresh take such as that. Basically, Jamie is the center of John’s world.  Oddly enough, instead of this making me angry (like it did in Voyager– I suppose it was the idea that John was potentially competition, or maybe just a major complication, for Claire?) it actually just strengthened my notion of the love between Jamie and Claire. I realized that Jamie always had eyes for only Claire, and that Lord John was fully aware of this.

There is one scene in the book that does sort of bother me though. It’s towards the end, when John is desperately torn about what to do during Percy’s impending court date. John travels back to Helwater specifically to consult with Jamie to get the counsel of a truly honest man (Grey also says that Jamie is the only person in the world to whom he can speak frankly). Grey admits that he cannot see Percy hanged for a crime whose guilt he shares. At this, Jamie refers to Percy as Grey’s “catamite” and implies that John is preying on young boys. Tempers flare rapidly and a heated argument ensues about whether or not men can love one another (Jamie saying the thought of it “curdles my wame”), the climax of which occurs when the following exchange takes place:

Jamie: “Draw on me and be damned, armed or no, ye canna master me.”

John: “You think not? I tell you, sir – were I to take you to my bed – I could make you scream. And by God, I would do it.”

(Yowza!! My jaw totally dropped at that one!) Anyhoo, what happens next is very vague, but basically Jamie throws a punch, John is disoriented and stumbles out of the barn (they were in the barn because Jamie always seems to be pitching hay in this book), ripping at his flies…next thing you know, “desperate fisting” ensues and a “drained” John sinks to his knees. I realize there are a multitude of reasons why this scene should be vague, but I have a lot of questions, the most significant being whether or not Jamie witnessed what was taking place?! It only seems logical to me that if he was in the midst of a fight, and his opponent walked away, he would at least watch to see what his next move would be, right? I would like to think that Jamie wouldn’t have stayed to watch the public indecency take place, but he had to have known what was going on? It was crazy, to be sure.

So, in summary, I am glad that I took the time to read this series and I definitely have a new-found appreciation for Lord John Grey. I officially like him now. While I pretty much just covered all the parts involving Jamie, I would recommend that any Outlander fans should at least read Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade. I heard that Diana G is writing a new story involving Lord John and zombies and I’m actually most excited to get my hands on that!

North Carolina beach trip with the fam…and Jamie Fraser?!

Fort Johnston Garrison House, Southport, NC

I just returned from a relaxing week of vacation with my family on the beautiful coast of North Carolina. My grandparents own a house just outside of Southport and we’ve been going each summer for as long as I’ve been alive. This year we did the usual stuff: daily walks on the beach, lounging around in the sun, reading, and eating lots of delicious food. (Thai Peppers = Greatest. Food. Ever.) We broke from the norm this year, however, when my Mom suggested renting bicycles and cruising around historic Southport for a day. We had also seen signs for a Farmer’s Market by the water and wanted to check it out as well.

The Market was held in front of the Fort Johnston Garrison House, which was built in the early 1800’s on top of what remained of Fort Johnston. Fort Johnston was burned down during the Revolutionary War in 1775. As I was strolling around, sort of mindlessly admiring the food and crafts for sale, I noticed this historic marker. I read it and snapped a picture and paused for a moment. I felt this nagging feeling in the back of my mind, like I was familiar with the names on that plaque…Josiah Martinthe Cruizerwhere do I know that from?…and then it hits me – A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES!

Naturally, I was extremely excited about this realization and I immediately started blabbering about Jamie Fraser. It went something like this:

me: “OH MY GOD!!! THIS IS WHERE GOVERNOR MARTIN BROUGHT CLAIRE??? THIS IS THE FORT THAT JAMIE FRASER HELPED BURN DOWN BEFORE RESCUING HER!!!!!”

my husband: “OH MY GOD. Jamie Fraser IS NOT REAL.”

my mom: “Oh! Is that the man from that book you like so well?”

me: “Yes Mom *rolls eyes* the one that you still haven’t even started reading even though you’ve had it for 3 months now! HOLY CRAP, I HAD NO IDEA THAT THIS IS WHERE IT HAPPENED!!! I LOVE SOUTHPORT EVEN MORE NOW!!! ”

my husband: *shaking his head in disgust* “This is where the fort was burned down and where the Governor fled, but since Jamie and Claire Fraser are NOT REAL PEOPLE, they were not here.”

me: “This is where Jamie rowed out to rescue Claire from the ship! Can you imagine looking out across the water RIGHT HERE to see him rowing out of the smoke?!! *clutching bosom* Then he boards the ship and rips her cap off, tosses it into the water and fluffs her hair before giving her a deep, romantic kiss! *swoon* It was one of my favorite parts of the book!!!” *squeeeeeel*

my husband: *turns around and walks away*

Well, the hubs clearly didn’t see the significance of this unexpected, yet AMAZING surprise. And just for the record, I do realize that Jamie and Claire are fictional people, but the prospect of getting to see or experience actual locations discussed in my favorite books (or any book that I’m reading, and not just the Outlander series) gives me the sense of knowing the characters that much better. It enhances the intimacy of the relationships by giving me another perspective from which to view the story, as well as adding to my precious cache of mental imagery. Of course, everything is magnified when it comes to Diana Gabaldon’s characters since they are already so incredibly vivid and realistic to me.

I took lots of photos and made a panoramic of the view from Fort Johnston, looking out into the waterway where the mouth of the Cape Fear River meets the Atlantic Ocean (please ignore my lackluster photo-stiching skills). This is where Jamie would have gotten into a boat after helping set fire to the fort and rowed out to rescue Claire from the Cruizer, which was anchored just offshore (if they were real people, of course). Very exciting for us Jamie fans!

Waterfront view from Fort Johnston Garrison House

Actually, I shouldn’t act like that was the first time that the Fraser’s were mentioned during this trip. En route to the beach, we drove through Asheville, NC and I couldn’t help but declare “Just think, Jamie and Claire made this trip across the state many times to Jocasta’s house, but they had to do it on horseback! Can you imagine?” (This statement was met with a car-full of chirping crickets.) I also joined Twitter so that I could follow Diana G and I cheerfully kept my eager family (note the extreme sarcasm) up to date on her postings.

In addition to the aforementioned exciting events, September 22 was the anniversary of our wedding in 2007. We didn’t do anything extravagant since being at the beach and getting to eat at my favorite restaurant of all time was celebration enough. I had time, however, to pause and remember that fateful proposal on the top of Roan Mountain. The hubs gets mad props for his chosen location for said event, he put a lot of thought into it to make sure that it would be a place that was near and dear to my heart. We had just found out that my Dad had sold his house on top of Roan Mountain and that he would only be in possession of the house for one more weekend (I think Pops had “forgotten” to mention that he sold the house because he knew I would be upset about it, thus we found out at the last-minute.). We hastily made plans to travel to East Tennessee and spend the last weekend there. Before we left though, he told a minor fib about going to help a friend move a washing machine while he was really rushing out to buy a ring (since he was wasn’t expecting the Roan Mtn house to be going anywhere anytime soon). We hiked to the top of the mountain, he proposed and we watched the sunset. It was very romantic.  

Husband, if you are reading this…look away now! (Trust me…don’t go any further!) As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I can connect my wedding proposal (and so much more) to Jamie and Claire Fraser (mad skills, I tell you). Claire mentions in Drums of Autumn that she can see Roan Mountain from Fraser’s Ridge, so when I think back to the gorgeous view from atop the mountain, I can’t help but think of how Jamie and Claire were looking at the same beautiful scenery :)

Actual view from proposal spot on Roan Mountain...Breathtaking!