Song To The Siren

It’s been well over two years since I last blogged.

Blogging, especially about Second Life, can become an incredibly time-consuming holiday, and life events conspired to make it impossible to continue. But I always thought I’d be back, perhaps not to publish updates as frequently as before, but still writing about the virtual world that is still my second home.  What’s happened since I was last here?

Well, it’s been, as that often quoted Chinese curse warns, ‘interesting times’ and you would be inclined to think that after living through those interesting times I’d stop being so surprised by how the universe works and just go with the flow, but occasionally something kicks me up the butt and the synchronicity of it is just so plain weird that it’s worth noting. 

The exterior allows for great views of surrounding islands if you have the graphics capability!

A year ago, August 23rd, 2021 in fact, I relinquished the little pied-a-terre that I was enjoying at (the sadly now defunct) Burrow because in real life my Dad had just had a stroke. I had an ominous feeling that I would be taken up with real-life matters, so it seemed only fair to let someone else have the opportunity to rent there.

As it turned out, I didn’t log in for a while because a few weeks later, on September 2nd, my Dad died.

It’s approaching the one-year anniversary of his death and I’m reflecting a lot on events of this time last year, and on what has happened since.  I’d booked a cheeky mid-week day off from RL work today without any plans other than chilling, reading, and perhaps a little Second Life. Little did I know that by when I logged in today I would discover a place that made my heart happy when I visited, that coincidentally has been created by the people behind Burrow, Harlow Heslop, and Harvey Blackwood.

A quick side-step: Burrow has been replaced by ‘Eleventh House’, a similarly welcoming community space for all to enjoy, although it’s currently closed for  Autumn renovations. I’m a group member, so was delighted to receive a group notecard informing me that it has a sister venue,  ‘Salt & Siren’, a coastal café that opened for business on the 17th of August, so of course I immediately decided to pay them a visit, and I am so glad that I did.

It’s a small space, actually the perfect size for hanging out with friends and enjoying all SL has to offer

Reader, it’s an incredibly lovely place. Imagine New England coastal town vibes coupled with relaxed modern, yet ever-so-slightly sophisticated, dining spaces and you’ll have pictured what ‘Salt & Siren’ is all about. It’s not a large venue, certainly not as big as the behemoth that Burrow became, but one compact, islet space where you can hang out with friends, or perhaps make some new ones.

What makes ‘Salt & Siren’ so special, apart from the absolutely exquisite landscaping and the stunning interior design, is that it is located on the Blake Sea. 

Now, I’ve been in Second Life since December 2006 and have dabbled very infrequently with sailing, but when I did give it a go I enjoyed it immensely.  More on that later, but I know that it’s a very popular pastime in our virtual world, and there are a lot of avatars who take it very seriously indeed.

If you’re lucky enough to have the kind of graphics card that allows you to ramp it up all the way to eleven, then ‘Salt & Siren’ is an absolute must-visit. You’ll be gifted with a spectacular view that you can enjoy while drinking a virtual coffee and enjoying a slice of pixel-cake while sitting in one of the comfortable chairs that surround the exterior of the café.  Inside, the space is decorated with a gentle nautical theme with splashes of both the traditional and modern reflected in the choice of fixtures and fittings.  The counter area is resplendent with treats of all kinds and there’s a gorgeous sofa that you can sink into while enjoying a muffin and a conversation with a friend. 

Climb up the stairs from the dock and you’ll find a different kind of treasure.

That’s the key here: ‘Salt & Siren’ is the kind of place you want to enjoy with a friend, and if those are in short supply visit alone and you’ll be made to feel extremely welcome.  It’s a safe, inclusive space where you can feel at home.

This brings me back around to my Dad.

 If you’ve been a regular Kittywitchin’ reader over the years, then you’ll know that I actually got my Dad to join Second Life, and he used to meet me in-world in the evenings and we’d go and play ‘Seven Seas Fishing’ when it was all the rage, and funnily enough go sailing on the Blake Sea.  Dad was briefly in the Merchant Navy as a young man and would regale me with tales of his seafaring adventures, so it made sense that we bonded in SL over somewhat soggy sea-faring pursuits.  We had some fun and lots of laughs along the way. As Dad got older he found SL too taxing. Still, I do treasure those memories of him being in-world with me, because joining and experiencing SL was something really outside of my Dad’s skillset. He found it incredibly daunting initially, but once he got the hang of it he wanted to enjoy it with me, and that meant so much.

Grieving is a funny business, and as I’m discovering it changes as the days and months pass. The wound stops being so raw.  It’s like a scab that you have to be careful not to knock off because you’re still healing. Most of the time I’m OK, but occasionally, like at the moment with the anniversary of Dad’s passing looming large, I’m a bit wobbly, so discovering ‘Salt & Siren’ couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’m really looking forward to hanging out there, and perhaps even going sailing again.

But most of all I’m happy to have found it because it’s the kind of place that I would have enjoyed with Dad, and I know he would have loved it too.

SKIN FAIR 2020: NAR MATTARU 'Aela'

Skin Fair 2020 is something that I’ve covered frequently over the years and it’s always a top notch event, and this year looks like a corker. Of course it’s always a nightmare getting into the event for the first few days, so joining the Pale Girl Productions group is an absolute must to get your demos while you wait to get in.

I’ve always loved designers like AMARA BEAUTY, PINK FUEL, BOLD AND BEAUTY but I have a special place in my heart for NAR MATTARU, and when I saw the preview of their exclusive SKIN FAIR 2020 release, ‘Aela’ I knew come hell or high water I had to get it. I didn’t fancy my chances of getting in, but I was surprised that after a few minutes of frenzied attempts at TP’ing in I got, and straight over to the NAR MATTARU booth. Hurrah!

It’s a gorgeous skin, it really is. I hope you can tell that by looking at this photo, and it’s comes with a load of extras for a remarkably reasonable price.

Included in the face package (Incidentally, I’m wearing it on the original GENUS ‘Baby Face’ head) are four brow colors (plus no brows version), an HD nude lip applier and few extra treats including moles, freckles, eyeliner and lashes. (I’m wearing the liner and lashes and brows in this shot, I’m just wearing a bog standard GENUS applier lipstick from the ‘Baby Face’ HUD) There are 8 tones available, I decided to purchase ‘Glow’, and it really does.

Face applier (Genus + BOM) costs L$1099, and body applier costs L$349

Stunning, isn’t she?

Hair by Doux
Outfit by Oubliette
Rings by Yummy
Pose by Kokolores
Attitude? Kitty’s own…

FLF: Let’s go out tonight!

Sometimes Fifty Linden Friday has some absolute belting offers included in the weekly sale, other times not so much, but I’m happy to share with you this cute outfit which is perfect for a Friday night out that I created using items from this weeks sale.

I’m wearing the ‘Andrea’s Set’ from the always outstanding CYNFUL which is available in two colour packs, one featuring four lighter toned items, the other pack featuring darker tones. Naturally I bought both seeing as they were a mere L$50 a pop BUT for this look you’ll be needing the cream shade from the pack first pack. The set is very skimpy, it’s just some sleeves, a tie-top and a very mini skirt, but it does come with optional panties which will prevent any unseemly mishaps on the dance floor. Nobody likes an unexpected view or your virtual growler, especially when you’re in a conga line.

Next up you’ll need to pop on over to TETRA, where you’ll find the ‘Sophia’ heels. Again, there are a couple of colour options available, a cream and a coral ( I got both, because of course I did) and you’ll find the cream shade goes really well with your newly acquired CYNFUL attire. These are really nice shoes as well, with a lovely suede finish and a bow to the rear, so they’re perfect for adventures of the booze variety.

I went home and got ready for my night on the tiles before hitting up one of my absolute favourite places in Second Life, Burrow Coffee Company. It’s the perfect place to meet friends, drink virtual coffee and catch a live gig or DJ set. I grabbed a Macchiato and burned the dance-floor, quite literally.

I spilled coffee and had to go and have a sit down. You can’t take me anywhere, but hey, at least I looked good, right?

Demo Day at Kittys! Collabor88 Feb 2020

Calloo Callay! It’s ‘Demo Day’ at Kittys! What better way to spend a very blustery Saturday afternoon (we’re supposed to be getting a storm later, it’s called ‘Storm Ciara’ and frankly she can just ruddy well bugger off) than trying on all the things currently on sale at Collabor88?! I bloody LOVE C88, it’s one of my favourite regular in-world events and I’m always excited each month to see what treats lie in store…

I had a look at the catalogue on Seraphim, and then zoomed on over to the cam-shopping platform and had a quick cam around, noting a few items that I really liked the look of and thought that might be worth a try-on session at home. Laden with virtual bags I TP’d home (in the first few days of an event it’s always better to try on at home or at a sandbox because loitering keeps other people from the event, and frankly that’s just not on) and threw them all over the floor as I set about my demo session. I ALWAYS demo before I purchase; it’s just not worth the disappointment of investing in a purchase only to get home to find that it doesn’t work well on your body at all. I’ve learned my lesson on this the hard way. If something’s been rigged badly and you’ve just bought a fat-pack of something divine, you’re going to be in for one helluva unpleasant shock when you realise it’s borked.

All of the pictures I’m sharing with you here have been taken with my graphic settings ramped up high, using bright lighting to enable me to see details properly. The windlight setting that I tend to use for such purposes is ‘Bree’s Apple blossom’, should you wish to give it a try. I haven’t post-processed or enhanced them in any way, they’re just as they appeared on screen. Click on a picture to see a larger version.

First of all I’m trying on this beautiful ‘Marie’ hairstyle from DOUX.  I own a lot of this particular brand’s hairstyles and it’s a nightmare because I ALWAYS say to myself that I’ll get the  basic pack, and end up getting the ruddy deluxe one, but no matter. I definitely think DOUX hair is worth your attention and investment; I’ve always found their styles to be consistently high-quality featuring beautiful textures, colours and styles along with well designed hair-bases, which makes the styles infinitely wearable. Plus how did we ever manage before stylist HUDS, huh?

‘Marie’ is a side-swept, layered and waved style that evokes a classic feel. It’s more or a medium length and sits just past your shoulders at the back. It’s also a bit nice, I fell for it as soon as I put it on! I mean, just LOOK:

I generally don’t go for brighter colours like the ones above but I felt really drawn to them while I was trying the style. Of course, they’re colours that are in the Deluxe pack because of course they are, and they’re each individually worthy of high praise. This is just three photographs mind you, be aware that there are ….. in the HUD for the Deluxe pack. Which is nice. Ugh, I have no self-control where virtual hairstyles are concerned and this one is just so pretty that it would DEFINITELY make ‘fetch’ happen…(Think about it.. you’ll get the reference!) I love it. Damn you, DOUX!

Moving swiftly on then and next is the latest skin from INSOL. I couldn’t try the LELUTKA one as I don’t have the latest head but no matter, I’m more than happy with my GENUS ‘Baby face’, and even more so after I tested ‘Lena’ upon it. I don’t wear many INSOL skins, and more fool me because this one is very pleasant indeed. What attracted me to this particular skin was the brow shape built into it; I’m a total virtual brow whore. I love them, and I’m a huge fan of wearing a no-brow skin and adding brows from other content creators to create a totally unique look. However, this is a skin that I would be more than happy to wear with the built-in brow, which has a lovely strong arch and frames the face perfectly. The detail on the face itself is great too, especially the central highlighting and shading, which renders a subtle look to the face making for a great base to layer virtual make-up on. (With a trowel, obviously!) The big thing for me when I’m buying a new skin tends to be will I have to buy the facial skin AND a new body applier HUD? This generally then leads me to scrabbling around in my absolute nightmare of an inventory and either feeling defeated or elated.  I’m delighted to say that today was the latter; I did indeed have an applier for my body colour of choice, ‘Peach’, and when I added this to my Maitreya 5.1 Lara Body it just made me fall completely in love with the skin. The INSOL skins are L$888 each (L$2588 for the fat-pack), but VERY worthy of your time and investment. ‘Lena’ is available in 7 skin tones at the event.

Next up we have the first clothing item that I tried. This is the TETRA ‘Velvet Mini Dress’, and I was attracted, but slightly wary of the shape of the mesh. It’s been a recent trend in Second Life fashion to have dresses that fall off the shoulders BUT occasionally the mesh shapes just don’t work with your AO (Animation Over-rider) or dancing animations. This is a really important point to make so listen closely gang; when you’re trying on frocks, tops and what-nots that are off shoulder or super baggy switch your AO on and go for a walk around.  Then stick your favourite dancing animations on and try again.  If the mesh seems to fit and flow with your body well, then you know you’re onto a winner.  You may find that for super safety you have to alpha-out areas on your body (quite often I have difficulties with the fit around my armpits/boobs where I have to deploy the alpha layers) Also, if it’s a dress, does it come with pants? Some do, dome don’t. Can you wear mesh pants underneath (should you want to?) or apply layer lingerie to hide your virtual lady garden from up-skirters? (Yes, there are people like that in Second Life, you literally cannot be free of the chuffers in either life. HEX THE LOT OF THEM I SAY!) Ahem.  Anyway, I stuck my arms up in the air and swung them around like I just didn’t care, which I didn’t. I zoomed in, I zoomed out and I had a proper look. Unfortunately, there is a wee glitch under the right armpit that I cannot resolve with alpha-layers alone, so I need to have a think about whether or not I invest. That’s a shame, because it’s certainly a pretty frock and I really like the overall shape. It’s textured well and the HUD features excellent details such as changing the metal upon the belt eyelets and the fabric on the belt buckle and buttons. I really like that, it means you have styling options to play about with to make your perfect dress. I think it will work well with heels (can I just say I literally CANNOT WAIT until someone starts releasing kitten heel styles for the new foot shape that’s been added to MAITREYA. I’m desperate to get my kitten heels on, I’ve always loved them. Come on shoe-makers of Second Life, crack on! Cough *Gospel Voom are you there?* Splutter…

JUST BECAUSE is a brand that has been on fire with quality releases recently, and this month is no exception. The ‘Alicia’ gown is old Hollywood styling with voluminous sleeves leading to tight cuffs at the wrist, a cinched in waist and beautiful draped skirt.  You can use the included HUD to change the colours of your dress and the flower adornment, changing the colour of the petals, the pearls in the centre and the leaves. I love having fun with elements like this; you can create a myriad of looks and this dress would be great for virtual occasions of any kind but honestly, to me it screams “WEDDING DRESS!!!” especially when worn in the ivory or white colour choices. To be fair though it’s lovely in any colour and works beautifully with the DOUX hairstyle. It’s as if they were made for each other; simple earrings and a pearl necklace would be perfect for a wedding look, with perhaps a flower decoration in the hair (or an up-do with tiara, veil, the whole works) but this isn’t a dress that you need to overpower with embellishment.  It’s stunning as is. Problem is, it’s not the kind of dress I would invest in because, well, I’m not a classy bird that goes to lots of grand occasions where I could wear such a show-stopper. I’ve not even got wed in Second Life, but if I did want to I’d give this dress serious consideration, and with Valentine’s Day fast approaching it would be a sensational choice for a romantic dinner date with your beloved. That said, I might treat myself to one so I can swoosh around at home and pretend to be all glam…

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my trying-on session, and there are still lots more lovely things at this month’s round of C88 that I haven’t had the chance to test out yet, but I’m thinking I might do a video featuring a few things..what do you think?

Is there anything you think I should demo and share here?

Let me know in the comments!