Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from December, 2010

It's Christmas Eve in the Grand Duchy of Stollen. . .

The ground is white with fresh snow east of the sun and west of the moon in the Grand Duchy of Stollen.Billowing, silvery drifts are piled throughout the country.The rivers and lakes are frozen solid.The woods are still but for the distant jingle of sleigh bells in the bracing air.The sky is slate grey, and heavy coal smoke hangs over the villages and towns.It is almost Christmas here in the far-off Grand Duchy of Stollen, somewhere to the northeast of Frederick’s Prussia.

Citizens bustle to and fro through snow-covered streets in the small capital city of Krankenstadt, running last minute errands before the Christmas festival begins in earnest.The red brick North German Gothic storefronts feature special Christmas items and treats, and the happy faces of children peek in through the frosty windows at the cheerful seasonal displays.Street vendors peddle their wares in the town square, shouting loudly above the din of shoppers, their voices forming puffs of steam in the wintry air.

In t…

Something, or Someone. . .

Like a staid Roman orgy, the Christmas ball at Krankenstadt Palace rages.


At Krankenstadt Palace, the Christmas ball continues into the wee hours of the morning. One guest, the loquacious Princess von Schabbere, has already described it as, "The social event of the year!" And while the the Lady Leonora Christina von Grandin and the dashing Prince von Boffke dance the night away, oblivious to the Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II sweating profusely in his lobster costume and behaving like a coarse bumpkin, something, or someone is hard at work upstairs in the study, painting those first twelve Holger Eriksson dragoons. . .


Here is a close-up photograph on one figure from the batch. Still a bit to do, but mostly finished.


And here is a second photo, this time of the entire first batch. A rather pleasing result. Oh, and the uniform is based on the Voluntaires de Prusse illustration by Bob Marion found in Charles Grant's and Phil Olley's delightful 'Wargaming in Histor…

Meanwhile. . .

The Christmas Ball at Krankenstadt Palace heats up as additional guests arrive and the string quartet finds its stride.


We find ourselves within earshot of two prominent guests. . .

Katrina Bettina von Heffelfinger -- (Holds up her lorgnette to see more clearly) Good heavens! Who is that poor young lady with two left feet, dancing with the Prince von Boffke?

Herr Heinz von dem Salat -- (Gulping down his fourth cup of doctored Christmas punch) I've no idea, though I've heard she some rich Swedish merchant-princling's daughter here to find a husband. Von Grandin's the family name I think. Word is that she and her parents have their sights on our boy ol' Irwin-Ami the eye-eye.

K.B. von H. -- (Snorting) You're joking surely!

H.H. von dem S. -- (Giggles behind his white-gloved hand) That I can assure you I am not. And in any case, the young lady and von Boffke seem smitten enough with one another.

K.B. von H. -- Rather. They have danced the last three dances tog…

Und Eins, Zwei, Drei; Eins, Zwei, Drei; Eins, Zwei, Drei. . .

Prince von Boffke (Wrinkles nose) -- Oh, I say, who is that crass fellow, standing over by the punch bowl in a lobster costume? Duchess von Wenigermaedel (Rolls eyes) -- I know, my dear Prince B., I know. . . It's just dreadful! You wouldn't believe what he did a few moments ago as we were being introduced. (Lowers voice) I hear he's new money!


The Christmas Ball, held to honor to Family von Grandin, is in full swing at Krankenstadt Palace. As per Hives' suggestion, the Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II has appeared in full lobster regalia and is doing his best to alienate and offend those around him through various impolite, nay, even unspeakable actions best left to the imagination. Meanwhile, up in the private study, the first dozen of those miniature Swedish cavalry continue to receive their uniforms and equipment, almost as if by magic. Could the Christmas spirit somehow be at work in the Residenz?

The Calm before the Storm?

A progress photograph, to illustrate where Irwin-Amadeus II stands at present with the first twelve of thirty Holger Eriksson dragoons.


The von Grandin family has arrived at Krankenstadt Palace, to much fanfare and production! Thus far, the Grand Duke has engaged in a variety of quirky and rude behavior, as Hives suggested, in the presence of his guests, to little apparent effect. Inexplicably, the Lady Leonora Christina von Grandin and her parents remain pleasant, even familiar, and enthusiastic about the expected announcement of an engagement. . . much to the chagrin of Irwin-Amadeus II.

Today, the entire von Grandin contingent has ventured out en masse for some final Christmas shopping and seasonal cheer in the shops of downtown Krankenstadt, leaving the Grand Duke to his own devices for a few hours. Meanwhile, Hives and the rest of the household are busily organizing the scheduled Christmas ball, to be held this evening in honor of the von Grandin family's visit.

Thanks to t…

Engaging Madness. . .

As the Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II awaits the arrival of the von Grandin family later this afternoon, we are privy to another snippet of conversation between him and his manservant Hives. . .


Irwin-Amadeus II: (In a panic) Hives, this is madness, just madness I tell you! The von Grandins will be here later today, having braved the Stollenian snow and ice between Riga and Krankenstadt. They'll expect hospitality and entertainment through Christmas (pauses uncomfortably). . . along with a proposal of marriage from me to the Lady Leonora Christina! And then, there is Aunt Irmgard, of whom I'm even more afraid.

Hives: On the matter of your Aunt Irmgard, Sir, I have already taken the liberty of writing a letter to her, begging her pardon on your behalf. I have also suggested that we might join her in time for the New Year's Eve celebration instead.

IA: (Calms down appreciably) Oh, I see. Hives, thank you! You always manage to come through for me. But what about the von Gra…

Back at the Residenz. . .

The first dozen Holger Eriksson dragoons in question. . .


Following a frustrating visit to the Brummen und Summen, during which the Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II waited for an hour in the busy dining room without being shown to his table, he returned to the palace where Hives served a ham sandwich and milk in the kitchen. The Grand Duke then retired to his study where he continued work on that miniature regiment of cavalry. Meanwhile, the rest of the household was abuzz with preparations for Christmas and the arrival of the von Grandin family.

Lunch at the Brummen und Summen. . .

A few of the Grand Duke's fellow clubmembers deep in conversation at Krankenstadt's Brummen und Summen, a private social organization for gentlemen of independent means.


While the Grand Duke waits for five or ten minutes to be shown to his table in the dining room at the Brummen und Summen, his mind wanders back over the painting of the last few days:

Hmmm. . . . Most of the thirty horses have been undercoated and covered with an oil glaze. Humbrol orange is certainly NOT a good undercoat though the other brown and tan enamels are. No. I've had to redo the undercoats of a few really orange horses that have come out looking like Yahoo Serious.

Yes. Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna seem to be the best oils in my collection of tubes for the glazes. A shame I can't unscrew the blasted cap from the tube of Raw Umber though. Must remember to add a few bay-colored steeds to the mix. I'll use thinned Payne's Grey to stain some lower legs, manes, and tails. Should be …

Christmas Preparations. . .

The Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II paints the first squadron and staff of his Swedish cavalry regiment in 30mm at the desk in his study that overlooks the frozen fountain and snow-covered grounds of the Residenz.


Hives enters the private study of the Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II. . .

Hives: (Peeks around door) Excuse me, Sir?

Irwin-Amadeus II: (Busily applying green paint to trooper figures) Yes, Hives? Have you brought that refill of coffee I asked for an hour ago?

Hives: (Hesitates) Ummm, no, Sir. Frau Goetterfuncken has stepped out for a moment, and none of the remaining kitchen staff seem to have any clue about how to operate one of those French presses.

IA: Blast! Oh, well. Too much coffee makes my painting hand less steady. Hives? Better wait on that coffee until the midday meal with my ministers then.

H: As you wish, Sir (Remains standing just inside doorway).

IA: (Starts to paint once more, but glances in Hives' direction and wrinkles brow) Was there anything else, Hives?

H: Yes,…

That Sinking Feeling. . .

Alone at the large desk in his private study, the love-struck Irwin-Amadeus II daydreams about a possible future with the Lady Leonora Christina von Grandin, his head filled with visions of Christmases yet to come. Outside, the snow flies and arctic cold descends over the city of Krankenstadt.

When the Grand Duke manages to rein in his imagination and come back to earth for a moment, he makes copious notes on the "ideal" cavalry regiment. Swedish. Dragoons. Old school figures. Various Humbrol browns as undercoats. Thin oil glazes applied over top. Dark green coats, breeches, and saddlecloths. Humbrol again. British Rifle Green this time. Red facings and turnbacks. Gold lace for officers and yellow for the troopers. "This is terrific fun," Irwin-Amadeus II thinks to himself, "I should have been a military milliner!"

But his martial thoughts are interrupted once again by visions of the Lady Leonora Christina. Her blue eyes. Her pale, clear …

Meanwhile, at the Residenz. . .

A lazy December Saturday morning in Krankenstadt Palace. . .


In his private drawing room, Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II sits at the harpsichord, still in his dressing gown, with another cup of coffee on the bench to his left. His manservant Hives sits on the settee a short distance away, engrossed in the morning edition of Die Krankenstadt Tageblat.

Irwin-Amadeus: (Ruminating) I think I'll have a bath.

Hives: (Absent-mindedly) I alert the press, Sir.

IA: What? Oh, dash it all, Hives! I'll thank you not to make light of me in my current state of ennui!

H: (Turning a page of his newspaper) Very good, Sir.

IA: (Striking a few chords softly on his harpsichord) I mean, how am I going to contrive a way to see the Lady Leonora Christina again? She's all I've been able to think about this last week.

H: (Warming up his own cup of coffee and returning his attention to the paper) Love will find a way, Sir.

IA: We could invite her and her ladies in waiting here for the Christmas holida…

The Journey Home. . .

A typical winter scene in the Grand Duchy of Stollen.


The long weekend at Aunt Agatha's turned into almost a week of pre-Christmas hunting, feasting, dancing (no one can dance the Minuet quite like Irwin-Amadeus II after a few doctored eggnogs), and making the acquaintance of the Lady Leonora Christina von Grandin. It turned out that Hives' fabricated call back to the grand ducal Residenz in Krankenstadt was not needed after all. . . particularly once the Grand Duke discovered that his cousin from Sweden was of a rather smaller stature and more dainty demeanor as an adult than he expected based on his childhood memories.

Thoroughly charmed by Lady Leonora Christina's sparkling wit, informed political and cultural perspectives, and mastery of several languages, Irwin-Amadeus II spent as much time as possible in her company during his five-day stay with Aunt Agatha and even entertained his comely cousin with a sing-along of several popular tunes at the harpsichord. Today…

And here's the recipe for making a Dresdner Stollen. . . lederhosen and alpine hats optional!

Here's how your stollen should appear after baking and cooling. Make some fresh, strong coffee to enjoy with it!


Here's a recipe from FoodGeeks.com:1 recipescale / convertCLOSE [X] quantity recipe measurements U.S. metric and fraction decimal Update RecipeSee Original INGREDIENTS1/2 cup rum or brandy
1 cup chopped citron
1 cup chopped candied orange peel
3/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup currants
2 env. dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 cup 1 plus tbsp. sugar
2 cups milk
2 tsp. salt
1-1/3 cups unsalted butter
1 1/2 lemons
1 tsp. almond extract
7 to 8 cups flour, as needed
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/2 cups chopped blanched almonds
1/2 cup melted butter, approximately
1/3 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar, for sprinkling
Vanilla Sugar, (confectioners') for sprinkling
INSTRUCTIONS Combine rum with citron, orange peel, raisins and currants and let stand for 1 hour. Drain, RESERVING rum and fruit.

Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water,…

It's almost time for stollen here in the Grand Duchy!!!

A genuine Dresdner Stollen, much like the ones the Grand Duchess bakes every December. Indescribably delicious with a cup of fresh coffee, and I look forward to it all year.

In honor of Advent and the Christmas season, it seems like a good idea to give a brief nod to the origins of the Grand Duchy of Stollen, which had its genesis during early December 2005. At that time, I was looking around for something different to do on the wargaming front -- my 15mm Waterloo-era Napoleonics had worn out their welcome -- when it occurred to me that I might finally address a long held desire to start and complete my own big battalion project, inspired by Charge! Or How to Play War Games, first read in June of 1994.
At the same time, I stumbled onto Greg Horne's Duchy of Alzheim blog as well as the Yahoo Old School Wargaming group. The former was detailing the build-up of two Seven Years War forces using, primarily, the wonderful RSM95 castings produced by the Dayton Painting Consortium in Oh…

It's Sankt Nikolaustag in the Grand Duchy of Stollen!

An Italian version of St. Nikolaus, visiting an unidentified town during the night.


Sometime during the night, Sankt Nikolaus visited Stollen Central quietly, leaving behind in our shoes assorted chocolate treats, gingerbread cookies, and age-appropriate treats for Young Master Paul, plus a new commemorative, Christmas-themed jigsaw puzzle for the Grand Duchess, who enjoys such things at this time of year. And, of course, there is an authentic Dresdner Stollen to anticipate in the next ten days or so. It is a magical time of year!

While the Grand Duke Avoids the Attentions of Lady Leonora Christina von Grandin. . .

Artillery crew from the tiny, though fractious, Principality of Zeller-Schwarzekatz in the Grand Duchy of Stollen Campaign awaits the issue of its bronze cannon.


. . . Thought I'd post a couple of photographs, showing the finished Garrison artillery crew and the regiment of Holger Eriksson dragoons that I've begun recently. I'm pretty well pleased with the results on the former. Suitably old school figures and block painting combined to give a nice toy soldier-like appearance. And how many SYW-era troops do you ever see painted in Schaumburg-Lippe-Beukeburg uniforms (more or less)?


The much talked about Holger Eriksson dragoons and two cannon for the artillery crews shown above, in various stages of basecoating and bare metal here. The horses will each have a white basecoat, followed by an undercoat of various Humbrol browns, orange, or white. One or another thin alkyd oil washes (Burnt Sienna and Payne's Grey) will be applied over that before the horse furniture i…

A Snippet of Conversation in the Coach. . .

Somewhere on the long, snowy road to Aunt Agatha's manor house. . .


Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II: (Aggrieved look on face as he searches through portmanteau on seat next to him) I say, Hives? It's frigid! Have you packed my warm wig?

Hives (Nose buried in copy of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason): Do you mean the particularly tall, curly one with the marked blue-ish tint?

IA: (Looking relieved) Yes! That's the one. Where is it?

H: (Casually turns a page and speaks without looking up) I'm afraid, Sir, that it is with your alpine hat in the top of your armoire. I must have neglected to pack both items.

IA: Blast! Now, I'll need to have my real hair dressed in time for supper this evening.

H: It would appear so, Sir. I'll speak to the head butler or housekeeper about the matter once we arrive at your aunt's and the carriage is unloaded. May I offer you a brandy, Sir?

IA: (Resigned and staring at winter landscape through coach window) Yes, Hives, please. …

Snow Comes to the Grand Duchy of Stollen!!!

"A quarter past seven, and all is well!" comes the cry from a city watchman, making his rounds and passing beneath the palace windows. It has been snowing outside for about 90 minutes in capital city of Krankenstadt! The street and sidewalks outside the palace are covered with about 1"+, making it a quietly beautiful evening, and the Greater Zwischen River, which flows through the center of town, is almost frozen over. Winter has arrived in the Grand Duchy of Stollen.

In honor of the first appreciable snowfall of the season, the Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II has decided at the last minute to accept an invitation from to his Aunt Agatha for a lengthy pre-Christmas weekend in the country, a day's journey north of the city. What brand of madness, confusion, or case of mistaken connubial intentions might ensue during the weekend? Watch this space in coming days to find out! In the meantime, the Grand Duke has asked his man-servant Hives to pack a case and order a…

Toy Soldiers. . .

A suitably seasonal picture of some shiny British Guards marching in formation that I found on the web somewhere. Kind of makes you hanker for some of those whimsical Shiny Toy Soldiers by Aly Morrison, doesn't it?


For some strange reason, this is the time of year that I most associate with toy soldiers. Of course, that has something to do with The Nutcracker and its March of the Tin Soldiers. But that feeling also comes from my very early activity in the hobby, now almost more years ago than I care to remember! In December 1983, I was firmly into the Napoleonic period and reading everything on it that my high school library had or could get. That Christmas, my mother and sister presented me with a book on uniforms and a small set of hobby paints for some Jacobite 15mm Napoleonics that I was awaiting. Sadly, the figures did not arrive in the mail until January, but all of that eager anticipation, joy, and surprise always comes back during the Advent period and Christmas sea…

It's that time of year again. . .

A photograph of the pre-Christmas Weihnachtsmarkt in Muenster, Germany where the Grand Duchess spent a year as an undergraduate many moons ago. Difficult to see the actual market and associated festivities, yes, but the shot of all the great old townhouses was awfully difficult to resist.


A windy, cold, and snowy first day of Advent here at Stollen Central, but Young Master Paul and I bundled up anyway and made a trip out to run a few errands. None, sadly, that had anything to do with the Christmas season or preparations for it, but it still felt good to get out in the cold air, and Young Master Paul was as good as gold. Indeed, he seemed to enjoy himself as much as I did. And only two days of the university semester left! Then we are FREE (more or less) until after January 1st. And so, as Tiny Tim rightly observed, "Hurrah for Christmas! The best time of the year!"

Not too much to report on the soldier front other than that I have almost finished applying two coats of …