The Monarch

Nov. 9th, 2016 07:38 pm
jamesq: (Drunk)
While I was in Vancouver, [livejournal.com profile] othelianna showed me this awesome thrift store frequented by assorted props people. That being the case, it had some great finds. Hell, I could have bought a stuffed Cheetah.

One of the things I walked out with was a little ceramic booze bottle I've decided to add my collection:
Not a stuffed cheetah, because cheetahs never prosper

Naturally, the whisky is long gone (in the hands of props folk, this is to be expected). But I don't like having empty bottles in my collection, so I figured I'd just go to the liquor store and pick up a full-sized bottle of The Monarch and decant a bit of it into the little bottle. Turns out, that's a lot easier said than done, and discovering that lead me down a fascinating rabbit hole.

First, the Lambert Brothers were whisky merchants in Edinburgh from 1849 to 1993, actually incorporating in 1958. I'm not sure if they just had a liquor store, or if they were some kind of middlemen for the whisky trade. Given they had several varieties of blended whisky, I lean to the latter.

Despite not being around for over twenty years, you can still get full bottles of The Monarch. I saw two recent auctions where a full bottle went for £65, and $49 USD. If I really wanted one, I could get it, though this would mean sticking my toe into the world of liquor auctions.

I'm not really into devoting that much time to this. I might, if I were a whisky drinker, but I really lack the palette for that. I'll stick to rum.

So I figured I'd just buy a bottle of blended whisky. Only constraint: It had to be Scotch, and it had to be blended. I opted for a Dewar's White Label. Later, when doing more research, I found out that Dewar's (actually, Bacardi, who own the Dewar's brand), had a blended scotch called... The Monarch. The difference appears to be 3% and twice the money. So I have a whisky for the bottle. Not the whisky, or a namesake whisky, just a whisky.

About that bottle. It's a gorgeous single serving (or maybe two, it's in the neighbourhood of 50ml) stonewear bottle. And I found out that if you have one in perfect condition, you can sell it for £45! Taking a close look at mine, it's not perfect, but it is very nice. There's a fine lattice of tiny cracks in the enamel. Not that I plan on selling mine
- really, I just want to display it, and I feel that it should be displayed with booze in it.

Having acquired the bottle and the booze, I just need to decant some whisky - and maybe taste test it. ;) Last obstacle is the cork, which has dried up over the years (though it has a nice caramel scent to it). It's soaking in some hot water, and I'll see if it makes a seal tomorrow morning. Once it can, I'll be done.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
One of my duties as Champing of Arrows is running archery tournaments at Kingdom-level events. That means I have to come up with targets for them. For this event I thought of this playing card theme for the timed end:

Playing cards? What a great theme!

And then I went completely overboard on a playing card theme. This was both good and bad. Good in the sense that I pushed my boundaries somewhat in pursuit of really good targets. Bad in that one of the targets was rather expensive.

What do I mean by pushing my boundaries? I'm not someone who's good at art - I can kinda do things if it involves straight lines, but things I make are never pretty. I recognize that I lack talent (and will often lampshade that when people ask me to do things. Instead, when I make art that's not straight lines I'll do things like compose on a computer first and then trace, or work from a static model of some kind, and pencil it over and over again until such time as it's at some intersection of recognizable and something-I-can-do. So much of what I want to make I see in my minds eye, perfectly done, and my hands simply cannot do it. I want to art, but it's supremely frustrating so I give up.

If I was just doing these targets for the hell of it, I'd have given up. Since I had to do the shoot, I forced myself to keep working on it until I actually got something I wanted. Surprisingly, I'm happy with the results - a rare occurrence when I'm trying to art.

Aside: I have more ways of being creative than "traditional" arts (drawing/painting/sculpture) that are less personally frustrating. Mostly, I write. I'm practiced enough at it that, when I'm in the zone, the words just leap from my fingers to the screen. Why can't I draw like that?

Anyway, I came up with some targets, made them on the computer, then went to Michael's for art supplies. Damn near paid full price for everything, but had the following exchange while waiting on a price check:

"I see you've got a stack of coupons here - I don't suppose I could snag one for this order?"
"No, because those are for next week. But if you have a cell phone, I can look up this week's coupons."
In the end I got everything for about a third off. Score. Though I suspect she wasn't going to volunteer that information if I hadn't been chatty.

Next I took everything to work (it was late Saturday night, so no one was there). Went into the room we use for demoing our software for clients that's set up to project everything on the wall. Then I proceeded to trace the pictures. Next day I inked them in, which took several hours while I watched the last few episodes of my cheesy 70's cop drama.

On to the targets, plus the gorgeous target I *didn't* make... )

And now I have to start thinking about my championship tournament at June Crown (assuming Kingdom law doesn't change in the meantime, in which case it will be at August Coronation)
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
For Christmas last year (that is to say, 2014), I decided that all of my friends who drink, were getting liquor. This worked out fairly well. One of the problems with being a grown-up is that if we need something, we get it, and things we want are often out of the range for mere Christmas presents. This leaves consumables - food, drink, show tickets, dinners out, that sort of thing.

This year I decided to do that again, but I wanted to put a little more effort into it than simply a trip to the liquor store. I also thought about getting bottles of those liquors that people always look at, but don't end up buying because they might not have a use for 750 ml of something. At least not in the time frame that you should drink it.

Aside: I went to a Nerd Nite talk where the speaker was from a distillery. The "good stuff" should be consumed within 1-2 years of opening the bottle. Oh, it won't go bad per se, but it will deteriorate. If you're saving that bottle for a special occasion, make it a special occasion in the next two years.

I settled on buying bottles from a craft store and dividing assorted bottles between them. Then I'd put custom labels on them and make little gift bags. People would get three or four bottles of oddball liquor and they could then try them at their leisure in case they wanted a whole bottle of something.

The first problem was the bottles - the ones Michaels sells were crap. Also, wine-making stores didn't appear to have an ideal size (i.e. in the neighbourhood of 187 ml - 1/4 of a standard bottle). Looking online I found these bottles. The only problem being that shipping them to Canada would triple their cost.

Then we planned a road trip to Leavenworth Washington for Octoberfest. Now I could ship them to a US address and simply stick them in the back of the car. Duty wouldn't be bad, assuming I even went over my duty limit (I didn't). Incidentally, General Delivery in the States is ridiculously easy. My shipment was waiting at the post office, and it took the USPS clerk about two minutes to give me my package and get me on my way.

So now I had the bottles. 200ml is a little bigger than the 187ml I needed, but not by much - a tablespoon basically. Since the capacity was to the cap, this worked out perfectly.

Photos beyond the cut, and more details... )
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
I'm largely talentless at anything crafty, thus making my time among the SCA or movie/theatre folk an exercise in low self-esteem. However, I can still get purely functional things done if I don't mind them not being pretty. And sometimes I get lucky and it doesn't look too bad. Here's an example.

About a month ago, after a lot of research, I bought a Tortuga Travel Backpack. It was kind of expensive (just shy of $300 given the current exchange rate and shipping to Canada), but I'd just emptied my penny jar, so this felt like "found money". It also looked like the closest thing to a perfect backpack that I was going to find.

Lots of pictures ahead... )

I now have a Tortuga Travel Backpack with detachable pockets. It doesn't look worse for wear. I'm quite happy with it.

Now to do a test pack for my trip to the UK.

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