Happy Valentine’s Day, Sassenach!

Feb 13, 2014 by

I’m sure Sam Heughan is too busy filming the last episodes of Outlander, Season One, to send his legions of fans a Valentine card, so I thought I’d help out.

You are really getting TWO Valentine’s Day gifts with this meme:  a sweet card and yummy Scottish eye candy!



~Want to hear Sam say Sassenach ? Of course you do!



~How does Sam say mo nighean donn (Scots Gaelic for “my brown haired lass”)?




~Ye need not be scairt of me,” he said softly. “Nor of anyone here, so long as I’m with ye.” – chapter 4, Outlander :




Still not sure why so many people are in love with a fictional guy named Jamie?   Read this informative and FUNNY blog post from the ladies at That’s Normal:

The Best of Jamie Fraser: the ultimate book boyfriend


AND see some of my previous posts on Outlander  HERE and  HERE and  HERE.

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Vintage Scottish Valentine Cards

Feb 12, 2014 by

Scottish lads and lasses offering each other love tokens was a common motif among vintage Valentine cards of the 20th century. The braw laddies with bagpipes and pink-cheeked lassies in kilts appeared on postcards and single cards, but were usually the creation of American greeting card companies producing bulk cards to be handed out by schoolchildren. I remember receiving a few kilted Valentines at school and wondering when, if ever, I’d actually SEE a boy wearing Scotland’s national garment–Georgia in the 1970’s wasn’t exactly a hotbed of Scottish cultural pride.

Here are some vintage cards that I think are fun examples of the Scottish ephemera we gave and received back in the day.

Take ma heart, lass  Source

Take ma heart, lass Source

The lass is playing coy, but who could resist that wee lad’s offer of his heart?

1939 Scottish Valentine Source: TPNC

1939 Scottish Valentine
Source: TPNC

Our wee bagpiper has this lass dancing to his tune.


Hey, Lass! Here’s a big love-pop just for you! Source

I know what you’re thinking about this card–naughty, naughty!

The sentiment merely refers to a lollipop long ago devoured by some lucky kiddie.   Cards with sweet treats of any kind were highly prized by children.


A Scottish Valentine token Source

Two thing about this card catch my eye:

the boy’s crook, which he’s using to herd his love along ( Highland lads are great sheep herders!) and the potted thistle at bottom left–wish I could order this from my local florist.

1930's Valentine bagpiper  Source

1930’s Valentine bagpiper Source

A kewpie doll bagpiper and his little Scottie dog make an adorable pair for Valentine’s Day.

Gi Me Yer Heart!

Gi’ Me Yer Heart! Source

Hoot mon!

Vintage Scottish Terrier Valentine  Source

Vintage Scottish Terrier Valentine Source

The sweet brown eyes of this Scottish terrier would certainly win me over as his Valentine. I was given several Scottie cards during my school days because all my friends knew I loved the little dogs.

Here's my Scottish heart  Source

Here’s my Scottish heart Source

Beautiful detail and colors on this card, circa 1907, which some long ago recipient thought was worthy of keeping.

Kilted boy and girl Valentine  Source

Kilted boy and girl Valentine Source

Aye, and just what kind of “show” are ye asking for, laddie?!

1906 Valentine with wee barefoot bagpiper  Source

1906 Valentine with wee barefoot bagpiper Source

This 1906 card features an adorable barefooted piper singing The Birks of Aberfeldy, a song lyric written  in 1787 by Robert Burns.   The Birks is a well known gorge and scenic walk in Aberfeldy, a city in Perth and Kinross, Scotland.    Legend has it that Prince Charlie sheltered near Aberfeldy during his retreat north to Inverness in 1746.

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Here’s Looking At You, Sam

Jan 28, 2014 by

 For many Outlander fans, scanning social media for news and photos from the Scottish production set has become a daily event.    After all, it’s winter here in the western hemisphere, cold weather and snow are keeping many of us housebound, and the debut of Jamie and Clare’s onscreen love affair seems too far away to even contemplate.  At the risk of being labeled a “middle-age housewife” breathily caught up in Outlander’s Harlequin Romance-esque plotby Variety (read the reporter’s snarky review HERE), I must say I look forward to these goodies from Starz.  


Of all the fictional fantasies, in all the books, in all the world...

Of all the fictional fantasies, in all the books, in all the world…

Starz must have heard my middle-aged cries in the wilderness because they just released a new version of the Outlander trailer, with the audio equivalent of a fun-size candy bar at the end.   Even better, there’s a new Scots Gaelic Outlander lesson in pronouncing mo nighean donn , a term of endearment used by Jamie for Claire, meaning “my brown-haired lass.”  Now, THIS is something I can sink my teeth into, like a bar of rich, dark chocolate, the kind that has those little bits of orange zest inside.

Sam Heughan,  this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.


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Gie Her A Haggis!

Jan 19, 2014 by

January 25th,  the birthday of the famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns, is known to Scots and those of Scottish heritage as Rabbie Burns Day or Burns Night.  Rab’s life and poetry is celebrated  with great fanfare at both formal and informal gatherings that have a few things in common: drinking fine Scotch whisky, reciting Burn’s poetry,  and honoring (and eating) that great chieftain o’ the puddin-race, the haggis.



Despite what you may have heard, the haggis is not a small animal that runs wild wild in the Scottish Highlands, with legs shorter on one side that enable it to run faster around the mountains.  Cute idea, but purely mischievous Scottish propaganda.  If you want to learn the “history” of this mythic beastie, however, read this article which discusses haggis scottii in detail.

Don’t be deceived by those old crofters’ tales, silly goose–everyone knows that the real national animal of Scotland is the unicorn.

Aye, am yer national animal, lass.

Aye, am yer national animal, lass.


Weel then, whit is a haggis?! Glad you asked!

Haggis is Scotland’s national dish,  a type of sausage (but called a pudding) made of the heart, liver and lungs of a sheep or lamb, mixed with oats, suet, spices and herbs, encased in the animal’s stomach lining and then simmered in water for several hours.  Yes, really.

I’ve eaten haggis and find it quite tasty, especially when I’m also having a wee dram or two of single malt whisky.  You can get microwaveable haggis, canned haggis, vegetarian haggis, even curried haggis if you so desire, but it is the mark of a true Scot to make yer own pudding.  Here’s a brief video to show you how haggis is made from blackface sheep innards, the creme de la creme of sheep organs:

I understand that the contents and appearance of haggis may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the national pudding is quite versatile.   If you don’t care to eat this savory Scottish treat, how about throwing it for distance?  Easier than tossing a caber, and a bit safer for Scottish Games rookies:


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A New Battle On Culloden Moor

Jan 13, 2014 by

It was a short, bloody battle that irrevocably changed the course of Scotland’s future.  Though it lasted only an hour, the Battle of Culloden (Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Chùil Lodair) on April 16, 1746, ended the Jacobite effort to restore Charles Edward Stuart, Bonnie Prince Charlie, to the throne of Scotland.  Approximately 2000 Scottish Highlanders sacrificed their lives that day, and more died during the brutal repression of Highland and Gaelic culture that followed soon thereafter.  The sorrow and pain of that day is still felt by many contemporary Scots, as well as those whose ancestors fled Scotland to escape the harsh retaliatory actions meted out by the English in the years following the battle.  For those people, Culloden will always be sacred ground,  “ground zero” of the centuries-long Scottish battle for freedom from the English invaders.

New invaders have now come to Culloden,  developers who want to build houses less 400 meters from the battlefield—and surprisingly, the Scottish government is set to approve those plans.



People in Scotland and around the world have voiced outrage that such a project would even be considered, much less approved.   Historic Scotland  has given their stamp of approval for the scheme, even though no representative from the government  authority has visited the site to see how it might be impacted.   The National Trust For Scotland (NTS), which owns and maintains the battlefield and visitor center, has expressed great disappointment in the decision, arguing that the approval creates a ” slippery slope”  for future housing schemes, which could result in the the degradation of the historic site at Culloden.

I grew up in Georgia, a Southern state that was the site of many battles during the American Civil War and the American Revolutionary War.  My father was a Civil War historian and ardent battlefield preservationist, who taught me from an early age that historic sites are tremendous visual symbols of what was and, more importantly, what should never be again–specifically, being ruled by a monarchy ( the Revolutionary War) or allowing the enslavement of our fellow men and women (the Civil War).  When you lose those places where people fought and died for their beliefs,  places that are the final resting places of so many souls, you betray their memory.  Moreover, you also lose a valuable teaching tool for future generations who will have no tangible connection to their past.  Textbooks, photos and videos can only go so far—to truly know your history, you must walk the same ground your predecessors walked, feel that sense of connection and emotion that comes from standing where they stood.  Once those historic places are sacrificed for commercial development, they are gone forever.



Do the souls of those long-dead Highlanders still walk the moor at Culloden?   Celtic mythology holds that there are “thin places” in the world where different planes of existence touch, and the past can sometimes be felt in the present.  If any such place exists in Scotland, it surely must be at Culloden,  where sadness seems to hover over the fields like Highland mist.  I have walked that moorland where Gaelic war cries of fierce, proud Highlanders once rang through the air, and I believe the spirits of those long-dead men are there still.   For me, any encroachment on the battlefield is a defilement of the war graves of brave  men—Scots, Irish and even English who fought with the Highlanders—who died for their country, their families and their way of life.

We will always have competing interests in the name of progress, when developers confront preservationists in the modern world.   Finding a balance between these two interests is difficult and one side (sometimes both)  often believes its arguments have been completely ignored or misunderstood.    In the case of important historical sites such as battlefields, however,  the bigger picture needs to be carefully considered.   Houses can always be built in other places—there will only ever be ONE Culloden.


Read more about the proposed housing development, and the arguments on both sides, here:






To sign an online petition to stop the proposed development at Culloden, click HERE.

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Keeping Up With The Frasers

Dec 30, 2013 by

If you didn’t get Jamie Fraser in a kilt for Christmas, despite your heartfelt appeals to Santa,  Starz has just released new Jamie tidbits to make your New Year brighter.

First up is the latest photo of Jamie and Claire together, contemplating a plant, perhaps a medicinal one Claire will use in her new occupation as official healer to Clan MacKenzie.  Starz did not indicate where this scene falls in the overall plot, but it’s ever so much fun to speculate.  Ron Moore tweeted that four episodes “are in the can” (7:22 PM – 29 Dec 2013), so perhaps this scene is before Jamie and Claire get married.  In any event, I love Claire’s dress–I expect we’ll be seeing copies of it on the Highland Games and Ren Faire runways soon.

Next is a new lesson in the How To Speak Outlander series, in which we learn how to pronounce Craigh na Dun, the portal through which Claire travels to 18th century Scotland:


If you’d like to see what a Scottish standing stone portal might look like in Outlander, take a gander at the background image for my blog. Those stones are the famous Ring of Brodgar,  a Neolithic henge and stone circle on the isle of Orkney in Scotland.


In case you missed the first How to Speak Outlander lesson–the ALL IMPORTANT one in which Sam says the word “Sassenach” in his lovely Scottish accent (hold on to your panties before you listen)–my review of it is HERE.


Starz also sent us holiday greetings from the cast of Outlander, including Sam with a wee doggie:



There has been no release date set for the Outlander series;  it was originally slated for the Fall 2014 season, and I am hopeful that Starz will meet that target date.

Ye ken, my heart can nae stand much more waiting for that Hielan laddie, Jamie Fraser.


Another of my posts about Outlander and Jamie Fraser is HERE.

Want to know more about Diana Gabaldon’s books?  Click HERE for her website and HERE for Amazon links to the entire book series.

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Christmas Trees and Santa’s Kilted Helper

Dec 12, 2013 by

THE KILTED HOTTIE OF THE DAY–Christmas tree shopping is always more fun when Santa’s helper dons a kilt…

Santa honey, one little thing I really need…
The deed… to a platinum mine, Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa cutie, and fill my stocking with the duplex and checks;
Sign your ‘X’ on the line, Santa cutie,
and hurry down the chimney tonight.

Come and trim my Christmas tree with some decorations bought at Tiffany;
I really do believe in you;
Let’s see if you believe in me…

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing… A ring…
I don’t mean on the phone; Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight

Hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry, tonight!


SANTA BABY,  originally recorded in 1953 by the divine Eartha Kitt


Here’s a lovely cover of  Santa Baby, by Celtic Aussie songbird, Kylie Minogue–her dad has Irish roots, and her mom is Welsh:

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