Magic Storytime in the Book Forest

Sometimes we get guests! And by guests, I mean, people (for some definitions of people) who come into the Book Forest to read lots of lovely stories to whoever happens to be there.

Storytime is an important Book Forest tradition that continues on no matter who’s there to read or be read to, to tell or be told to.

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The Literary Tent

This evening’s special guest chose The Literary Tent, possibly because it just showed up in the Forest a couple of days ago, and possibly because it’s a mite nippy in the Forest this time of year and she felt it was cosier.

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But who was our special guest?

But who was tonight’s special guest? You probably will figure it out if you look at the title of the book she’s talking about with all our Book Forest animals. It’s the one and only Gretel of the fairy tale, all grown up and happy to share her story with the world!

She started by introducing herself and letting the animals ask a few questions.

“But why are you wearing jeans?” asked the chocolate bunny

“Because I can.”

“And how come your hair is blonde?” asked the blue-haired unicorn.

“Because it grew that way.”

“Did you really forgive your mum for all that stuff?” asked the adorable grey kitten.

“After years of therapy, sure.” She sensed the questions were going to get tougher. “But that’s all the Q&A we have time for: I want to tell you my story, and also tell you about this magical book!”

“Ooh, it’s a magical book, just like us!” The baby dragon leaned over to nuzzle the griffin sparrow.

“That’s right!” said Gretel. “This is a magic book, because, while I’m going to tell you my story today, I also want to show you how you can come back here and just touch this book, and it will read you the story and even show you pictures!”

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Wow! The actual gingerbread house!

The hedgehog in the hat piped up, “Wow! The actual gingerbread house!”

“That’s right. All the pictures in this book are of my actual story, all gathered from the events as they occurred. Don’t ask: it’s magic,” she said, only a little sternly.

“But how does the magic book work?” asked the tall hare.

“All you have to do is touch it and tell it you want to see my story in pictures and hear someone read it to you,” Gretel explained.

“So I could touch it with my horn?” asked the blue-haired unicorn.

“Sure,” said Gretel.

“How about noses?” asked the fat white squirrel.

“That will work too.”

“Antlers?” asked the gruff-voiced reindeer.

“Yep. It all works!”

Everybody was amazed—so amazed that Gretel used the book as she told her story, adding in little bits and pieces that she only tells when she’s speaking to groups in person.

The best part is, she left a copy of the book right here in the book forest, so when you visit, you can hear all about Gretel and her story too.

Do you want your own magical copy of Hansel and Gretel? You can get it on the Second Life Marketplace!

Style Card:
Amazing Magical Book: Albion Scriptworks, Hansel and Gretel Story Book Combo (Available on the Second Life Marketplace)

Literary Tent: KraftWork, The Literary Tent (Available at The Liaison Collaborative)

Gretel:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka, Aida Bento Mesh Head
Skin: The Skinnery, Maite Lelutka Mesh Head Applier, in Snow
Hair: Analog Dog (natch!) Guenevere B, Light Blondes (rare!) (Available at GachaLand)
Blouse: !go! Luba Corset (4)
Trousers: Spirit, Sienna Jeans Black
Shoes: Beyond the Mists, Ribbon tie Dance Shoes
Cats on Gretel: Sweet Thing, Cabootie Cat, Head Plop and Shoulder Bud

Location: Awenia, The Book Forest
Alas, Awenia has drifted back into the mists after our open month of December 2018. You can visit again sometime in May of 2019, we think!
Poses: Bang, Ground Sits
Animals: too many to mention, but if you want to know about specific ones, IM me in world and I’ll try to give you the information you need!

Thanks to the geniuses at Albion ScriptWorks for creating such a whimsical and fun product. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

Another Visit to the Rainbow House

It felt good to be back. I mean, I know it’s not my house, but I think if I had a house like this, I would want it to look exactly so.

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A smile and a sigh of relief

I couldn’t keep the smile off my face when I went back to the Rainbow House. Once more insulated from the beautiful but cold landscape outside, I just let myself sink into its comforting atmosphere.

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Home is where the hearth is

The kitchen was clearly a kitchen to cook and live in: no faffy china cabinets or drawers full of “good” silver that’s never used. It was dominated by a working hearth with multiple cooking surfaces and a sturdy oven. The touches of beauty and decoration were simple: flowers on the baking counter and farm table, wreaths of leaves on the walls, a couple of printed tapestries with trees. Nearly everything else had an obvious, practical use.

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Beautiful flowers—and cocoa!

I love how attuned to nature and the workings of plants so many of our Fae Folk are. Here it was the middle of a cold winter, yet on two kitchen surfaces there were beautiful flowers that looked as if they’d been plucked from a summer garden and just brought in that morning.

And, yes, as Clutie had already realised, there was a hot cocoa bar set up on the sidebar near the kitchen’s single circular window. I had just a little taste, more so I could taunt her with the fact I hadn’t brought her back with me (she was busy readying the castle for New Year’s) when I returned home.

Then, I noticed that on the kitchen table, there were two cups set out for tea, some toast, and a teapot. A quick check proved one cup of tea was still quite hot and the other hadn’t been poured yet. I suspected I’d interrupted the shy inhabitants at their breakfast.

“I’m so sorry if I’ve interrupted your breakfast,” I said, quietly but clearly. “Your home is so beautiful, and I love exploring new places. Please, if you ever get the chance to visit Awenia Faerie proper, pop round to the castle and I’ll give you a full tour of my house. I’m going to head back there now, and leave you all in peace.”

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A long, last look

And that’s what I did, but not before taking one long, last look at the Rainbow House. There’s no way to know if it’ll still be here next time I come looking: these little Realms have a way of shifting and sometimes even closing in on themselves. But I’m sure I’ll keep a lookout: you never know when (or where!) magical places will appear again.

Style Card:
Items Featured at the Winter’s Hollow Event:
Rainbow House: Dragon Magick Wares, Elemental A Frame
Gwyneth’s tunic: [QE] Designs, Daphne Sweater Dress, Winter Magic
Gwyneth’s boots: [QE] Designs, Silvan Boots, Winter Magic
Homey Hearth: Candle & Cauldron, Kitchen Witch Hearth
Beautiful flowers on the baking counter: Circa Living, Versailles Floral Vase Stand

Other stuff:
Body: Maitreya
Head: LAQ, Noelle Bento Mesh Head
Skin: Lumae, Elvi, T1 (All current skin lines are on sale for 100L at the Lumae Main Store)
Eyebrows: alaskametro, Glitter Eyebrows
Hair: Analog Dog (natch), Ahji (a recent release at the Analog Dog Main Store)
Eyes: Euphoric, Enigma Eyes
Baking Table: O.M.E.N., Messy Baking Table
Wall Tapestries: DRD, Vagabond
Kitchen Table, Chairs, & Clutter: All from Apple Fall
Hot Cocoa Bar: Peaches, A Raven’s Feast
Poses: All from An Lar

Holidays in Awenia

I should not complain. This is the sort of job any faerie should be proud to have. But there are things about it that drive me up the wall.

For example, Her Majesty did not like that I chose a yellowish skin tone when she told me I needed a more exotic skin colour in order to impress the tourists. So I’ve now gone with something darker, of which she approves. “Oh, good: they’ll think you’re a svart alfar, like TAC, only more presentable to the public and nicer.”

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I did at least get to keep the rainbow hair

I did at least get to keep the rainbow hair.

Bran decided that I should help him shoot some holiday shots in the village square. “But it’s after Christmas,” I said.

“Nonsense, Angharad: it’s only the fifth day of Christmas, traditionally speaking, and our potential guests want to see what we do in the Realm at Yule time, and you know that’s not just one day. Even though many of them are mortal and Christian, tourists who come here will likely be a little more knowledgeable about the histories of their holidays than the ones we read about so often on those web papers.”

“Web pages, Bran,” I corrected gently.

He scowled. “You and the Queen, always ready with the corrections. Can I help it if I’m ignorant of these things? I do quite like video games, you know.”

Yes, you could help it, I said to myself. “Fine; let’s take some photographs of the Square all decorated for Yule,” I said, this time out loud.

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The Carousel

“Wait,” I asked, after about five minutes of Bran snapping photos of me all over the square. “Why do I have to be in all these photos?”

“It’s for the brochure,” Bran replied, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to say.

“The brochure? Nobody told me about a brochure.”

“Well, we do have to have promotional materials, and you are our hospitality co-ordinator,” Bran explained.

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This is fun, remember?

“This is fun, remember?” Bran wanted me to smile. He wanted me to smile a lot.

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Not that much fun.

“Not that much fun,” I retorted. “Do you want me to glamour some fangs or something?”

“Wrong time of the year for that, missy,” said Bran.

Missy? Seriously?

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Do faeries even need postboxes?

“Let’s get you by the postbox with all the presents,” he said.

“Faeries don’t even need postboxes, you know.”

“I know that,” said Bran, “and you know that, but this is a London postbox, and Her Majesty feels nostalgic about her home city, so we try to bring bits of it here for her from time to time.”

“You stole this postbox.”

Bran coughed. “Davey acquired the postbox. I didn’t ask questions.”

“Is that real post sticking out of it?”

“Of course: wouldn’t be authentic any other way.”

“But what about people’s letters?”

“Davey assured me he’d waited until after the last pickup for that day,” replied Bran. “If the postman was late on the pickup, the post can’t have been that important.”

I had no idea what to say to that, so I just let him move me along.

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Big finish!

“Now it’s time for the big finish! Lean back a little so I can get most of the tree in the shot, and, yes, big, big smile! Oh, that’s lovely!”

I rolled my eyes, but then I had an idea. “Can you take a close-up shot of me like this?” I asked.

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Getting in to the spirit?

“Are you finally getting into the spirit, when we’re almost finished, Angharad?” he asked.

“Nope. I’m going to send this to my parents back in Cymru. They will hate this hairstyle.”

Style Card
Lovely Town Dress: The Annex, Ingrid Dress (Available until the 18th of January at The Trunk Show)
Body: Maitreya
Head: LAQ, Gaia Bento Mesh Head
Skin: The Plastik, Elvenne in tone Chennus
Hair: Raven Bell, Chronos hair and Chronos Bento Braid
Ears: Swallow, Pixie Ears
Shoes: Breathe, Vivien Heels

Environment:
Carousel: IrrISIStible, Carousel (At SWANK until 31 December)
Christmas Trees: Half-Deer, Bottlebrush Christmas Trees
Deer: Love, Fantasy deer, winter prince of the forest
Adorable Weeble Gnomes: Balderdash, Gnome (At SWANK until 31 December)
London Postbox: Love, Christmas Post Box
Festive Lamps: CJ Creations, Winter Street Lamp
Holly Garland and Sparkly Bits: The Looking Glass, Our Festive Joy
Village Square Buildings: SOF Designs, Tudor Building Set
Poses: An Lar

 

My first video tutorial

Believe it or not, my silence over the last few days hasn’t been the usual hermiting. I’ve been putting together a shaping tutorial for Bento mesh heads. It all started when I got obsessed with the Belle Époque and started creating avatars to represent famous women from that time period in history.

Here’s what I came up with. It’s long, and there’s no sound. But you might find some interesting tips and tricks here.

Style Card:
Bento Head: Catwa, Blueberry Bento Mesh Head
Skin: Lumae, Catwa Cinnamon applier in Tone 1 (All Lumae skins are on sale for 100L right now at the Lumae Main Store)
Ears: Swallow, Shiny Elf Ears
Eyes: Euphoric, Enigma Eyes
Hair (last photo) Exile, Haven

The Rainbow House in the Stained Glass Grove

I’m beginning to think this little Realm is really one of those list songs. You know, like, “There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea,” or “The Rattlin’ Bog.” Because I swear there was no rainbow house in the Stained Glass Grove when I found myself there before.

What does a rainbow house look like?

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The Rainbow House

Obviously this is what a rainbow house looks like! There it was, right across what seemed like a decorative bridge over a snowbank. The first thing I noticed (after its rainbow-ness, of course) was the beautiful carving on the front doors. Someone must have put a lot of work into that. Even though our Fae artisans can put up a house in a matter of minutes, it still takes some skill, whether magical or physical, to create such a wonder. And look at that beautiful solstice star above the door. It felt homey already.

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Whimsical trees!

And here we go with the song again: There are trees on the porch of the rainbow house in the stained glass grove (it’s really hard not to add ‘at the bottom of the sea’, there; it would just scan better). Also, peeking in the windows was fun.

Now, I’d brought Clutie along this time, because you never know when you’re going to have to send her back with some kind of message or reply, and also because Bran told me off royally (pun intended!) when I got home after my first visit to the stained glass grove, both for not telling him where I was going and for not bringing an assistant with me. I told him he wasn’t my real dad and I didn’t have to listen to him, then flounced, but really I did listen to him, at least enough to know I didn’t want another lecture of that magnitude.

Clutie is one of those demifae who can move into a larger, more human-sized form when she wants to, so I assigned her to camera duty and told her to take a photograph of me by those lovely doors.

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I claim this house for Faerie!

I raised my arms and shouted, “I claim this house for En— I mean, Faerie!” Sometimes I still drop back into old habits, you know. Clutie rolled her eyes at me, but she did figure out how to focus my iPhone camera on the third try. I suspect there will be lots of shots of her little shoes in my camera roll.

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Should we go inside?

“Should we go inside?” I asked. It was a rhetorical question, but Clutie answered it anyway.

“Your Majesty, of course we all know that everything in Faerie is under your command and by your leave, but perhaps entering folks’ private homes is a little disrespectful,” she said. Mother of the Moon, she is a proper little thing, isn’t she?

I informed her that it was a rhetorical question and let myself in.

She followed me, swearing under her breath (OK, years serving me has made her a little less proper), but I think she was just as interested in looking inside as I was.

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Altar and shelf

“Oh, will you look at that alter,” I said. “such a well-placed little stone labyrinth. I approve.” Clutie, meanwhile, was fascinated by the shiny crystal on the shelf next to the altar. I thought she was going to be absorbed by it somehow, she was staring so hard.

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Purple Tree, Purple Me!

“This tree matches my dress!” I squealed.

“That tree is a fire hazard in a wooden house,” Clutie retorted.

“It’s Faerie, Clutie,” I said. “I don’t think the house is going to burn, not from plain fire, anyway.”

She sniffed.

“The Author has one very much like it in her little retreat, you know.”

“Well, aren’t you the hoity-toity one, hanging out with The Author and being all special and precious.”

My eyes narrowed. “And you need to watch your tongue, Miss demithang,” I replied.

“Why? Is it burning?”

I always forget what little literalists demifae are. “Come on; let’s get back to the castle,” I said. “We can come back and explore some more later.”

Clutie tossed my phone at me and shrank to her normal size. “Make sure you bring me,” she said. “I’m sure I saw marshmallows over there.”

Style Card:
Items featured at the Winter’s Hollow event:
Rainbow House: Dragon Magick Wares, Elemental A Frame
Whimsical Trees: Raindale, Whimsical Topiary Tree
Solstice Star: Raindale, Yule Star
Lovely Purple Dress: Senzafine, Eirwyn Gown
Crown and Choker: SynCo, Ice Witch Choker, Ice Witch Tiara
Antlers: Spyralle, WinterGem Antlers, “Snow” Special Edition
Altar: The Roawenwood, Winter Solstice Altar
Shelf with mesmerising crystal: Velika Rituals, Winter Solstice Shelf
Purple Tree: [QE Home] Handcrafted Christmas Tree

Other stuff:
Body: Maitreya
Head: LAQ, Noelle Bento Mesh Head
Skin: Lumae, Elvi, T1 (All current skin lines are available at the Lumae Main Store)
Eyeshadow: alaskametro, Astral Eyeshadow
Eyebrows: alaskametro, Glitter Eyebrows
Hair: Truth, Teila
Eyes: Euphoric, Enigma Eyes
Environment:
Skybox Environment: IrrISIStible, Never-ending Winter Mesh Skybox
Poses: SD, Ice Queen

 

 

My Well-Kept Secret

Yes, I have one. I know I frequently wax rhapsodic about ballgowns and the like, talk about beautiful venues, and explore exotic pocket universes.

But….

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Sometimes there’s nowhere I’d rather be than here

Sometimes there’s nowhere I’d rather be than here, Haven. Even though it’s my private home, and it’s not all that special, blah, blah, blah….

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Oh, who am I kidding? 

Oh, who am I kidding? This place is spectacular: that’s why I created it this way. I could sit on my outdoor tree daybed and just stare at the water for days. And then the stars. But seriously, sometimes all a girl needs is a comfy pair of pyjamas and a good book. This book is special, by the way: I’ll be telling you more about it in a couple of days.

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For now, I’ll just relax.

But for now, I’ll just relax, savour the feeling of flannel on skin, and not worry that I’m in a ponytail, have no idea which crown I’m wearing this evening, and indeed kind of want to ditch the whole runup-to-Yule craziness, stay in my PJs, drink a gallon of hot cocoa, and enjoy my beautiful interactive copy of Hansel and Gretl.

Style Card:
featured—
Comfy PJs: The Annex, Winter Jammies (This is new at The Annex Main Store)
Hair: Analog Dog (natch!), Swoon (New at the Analog Dog Main Store)
everything else—
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka, Greer Bento Mesh Head
Skin: Lumae, Lelutka Deia (All current skin lines are available at the Lumae Main Store)
Ears: Swallow, Shiny Elf Ears
Eyebrows: Alaskametro, Glimmer Eyebrows
Eyes: Euphoric, Enigma Eyes
Environment—
Location: Awenia, Haven
Special Book: Albion ScriptWorks, Twice Upon a Time, Hansel and Gretl
Tree Bed: Trompe Loeil, Lysa Branch Bed

Finally, Awenia is open to the general public! You can arrive in Faerie itself, or you can start at our official landing point, The Great Awenia Forest. For at least the month of December, the region is open for exploration and photography. When you land at either of the two landing points noted above, please read the rules about rezzing stuff and being respectful and all that, and we’ll give you a few extra landmarks as well just to get your explorations started. Over the past couple of years. Dyisi and I have worked really hard on making bits of Awenia, and I hope you enjoy what we’ve put together. In January, Awenia will close to visitors, and we will re-open sometime in mid-May to take you through the Light Half of the Year and into the Darkness again. Please visit, take your time exploring, and if you’re so inclined, help us out a bit with the tier by dropping some coins into the tip jars scattered round the Realm. 

The Stained Glass Grove

I love winter time. I know as a (mostly) Seelie Queen I may not be meant to say that. But it’s true. Being Queen in winter used to scare me: I spent my first winter as Queen asleep (I kid you not). Now that I’ve settled in to my role, or, I suppose, created it, I am more used to the changes that happen to me in the autumn and winter, particularly as the Wheel winds down after Samhain. In years past, the changes have mostly been to mood and attitude: this year my appearance and most notably my hair colour has changed with the seasons. I have been a dark brunette since sometime in November, and just today when I awoke, I noticed a few strands of grey. Who knows what will happen to me over the next few weeks?

Faerie, as you may already know, is made of magic. You may turn a corner one day and find yourself in a massive library; the same turned corner just hours later might bring you into a grove of dancing demifae who … may not have your best interests in mind. Particularly as the year grows old, it is wise to be cautious.

Yesterday I turned one of those corners and found a portal almost identical to the one that stood in the White Owl Island city park and served as a quick coming and going tool for those who could use it. I glanced around to make sure nobody was watching, and I simply stepped through.

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I stepped through the portal

Now, I know I’ve just got done telling you to be cautious in Faerie in the wintertime, but there’s a certain lack of fear that comes with being Queen. Now that I am no longer pursued by him who was once the Unseelie King of the Wylds, I feel more confident about almost everything, and if I’m honest, not much surprises me any more.

The little pocket Realm I found myself in was completely bare of Fae, Mortals, magical creatures of any kind. I saw a horse and a couple of deer, but the moment I entered the Realm, I felt that unwavering sense of quiet that comes after a heavy snowfall. Have you ever been in a forest after a snowfall? It’s as if the whole world is covered with a blanket. Sound is muffled. What you do pick up on are details: your breath, water dripping, leaves shifting. Oh, it was wonderful to feel utterly and completely alone: I am rarely alone, particularly now that Awenia is coming alive with holiday tourists, Fae and mortal alike. Angharad does a good job, but she’s young and needs guidance. Luckily, I don’t have much to worry about, security-wise: Tac, Wulfrich, and Davey need no supervision, even if Tac still kind of hates reporting to me. But there are always questions and plans and events at which I must put in an appearance.

You see? I can’t even describe a quiet haven without thinking about all the things I have left behind in Awenia. But looking out into this simple and beautiful Realm made me want to forget it all, and it was all about the trees. I was glad that I’d worn a suitable winter gown: its high neck and fitted sleeves kept me comfortable even though it must have been cold. Even though I could warm myself with magic, I am reluctant to use too much energy changing the environment.

I love trees: we know that. Trees of all descriptions and sizes. But the copse of trees I saw when I came through that portal made me catch my breath.

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Stained Glass Trees

There were other trees in the tiny Realm, of course, but nothing I’ve ever seen compared to these. Their plain, straight trunks weave into twisted branches reminiscent of wrought iron. And the leaves. They were like perfect, translucent stained glass cutouts of leaves, even when some of them fell from the branches.

One wonderful thing about living in a Realm that’s not deathly afraid of technology is I always have my iPhone with me, and it’s got a great camera on it. (Bran would disagree, but he’s so far down the DSLR rabbit hole I have to pull him out forcibly to get my tea sometimes.) I did get some photographs of the trees, but I’m sure I did not do them justice.

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Look at those perfect leaves

Look at those perfect leaves: I’d never seen anything like it. Perhaps next time I come to this Realm (I marked it so I can make it back), I will ask the trees if they mind me taking just a little cutting from each of the different colour varieties, because I would love to have these in Awenia for the springtime—and all the other seasons as well.

And of course, you know by now that I can’t ever just stand back and watch anything: I have to go into it, experience it. So that’s exactly what I did.

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Magical Grove

This place brought new meaning to the term, “Magical Grove”, where we of the druidic persuasion worship the old gods and make new magic.

As I walked into the silver grass that filled the tree meadow, it began to snow softly. All I wanted to do was look up at those leaves against the nearly-white overcast sky, and even though I got a little snow on my eyelashes, it was all right. It was more than all right; it was bliss.

Next time I come here I’ll bring along a nice thermos of tea, and maybe one of our Fae horses so she can enjoy the meadow as well.

Style Card:
Beautiful Winter Gown: Antaya, The Lamia Gown (Now at the Winter’s Hollow event.)
Crazy Gorgeous Stained Glass Trees: Rivendale, Stained Glass Trees (in three colourways, also at Winter’s Hollow.)
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Keme Bento Mesh Head
Crown and Antlers: Purple Moon, Ice Queen Crown and Antlers
Hair: Stealthic, Summer Haze
Skybox Environment: IrrISIStible, Never-ending Winter Mesh Skybox
Portal: Spell, Portals to other dimensions
Poses: An Lar