Quasi Boho Chic Retreat

A while ago I was asked by a friend to decorate a small guesthouse which he keeps available for one of his friends who tends to occasionally disappear from SL for a while and then pop up again. There wasn’t a particular briefing apart from that this time around I would be creating something for a girl.

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The look that I was going for was not overly girly yet clearly feminine. The first piece I wanted to get into place was the bed. In my mind it needed to radiate warmth and nonchalance, so I went for an unmade bed with a thick duvet. A simple set of frames over the bed is ready to be filled with memories and on the nightstand a diary, a cup of tea and a vase of tulips offer clear evidence that someone is living here.

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As this is a weekend retreat, obviously the girl was going to need a place to hang her clothes, like a little red dress that works for most party occasions and something in luxurious faux fur for when it’s starting to get a bit nippy. Of course there had to be shoes as well. When you feel bad and like to treat yourself, clothes never look any good… food just makes you fatter… shoes always fit. (yes I quoted a “chick flick”, live with it!)

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She also needed a place to do some creative work and play her keyboard. A modern functional worktable was thoughtfully positioned by the window offering inspirational views, which makes it an ideal place to sit and stare while her mind is processing ideas.

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The furniture placement in the living room leaves a clear passage to the double doors leading to the deck. Using the same flooring both inside and out, creates the feeling that the deck is an extension of the living room. The inviting sofa and chair make this a nice place for entertaining, while the casually thrown down pillow and stack of books on the floor make clear that this is also a place to get away from reality and perhaps even people.

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The wallpaper and ceiling textures I created for this place evoke memories of sunsets you only manage to experience when you’re away from daily life. For those days that a warm colour scheme isn’t enough, a fireplace was installed to make this a year round retreat.

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Some credits: Studio Guesthouse {Kinkardine Concepts} ● Stockholm Bed {Bazar} ● TA Majestic Clothing Rack {Tartessos Arts} ● Bright Headed Mannequin {Nomad} ● Velvet Lounge Chair {Soy} ● Dellinger Desk + Stool {Pilot} ● Anna Sofa + Chair {Lisp Bazaar} ● Mid Century Fireplace {Lisp Bazaar} ● Flutterby Deer Fauxidermy {Half Deer} ● Toronto-Living room bookshelf {Bazar} ● Pile of Books {Floorplan}

Total Land Impact of house, interior, outdoor potted plants and deckchairs: 117.

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One Head. Three Faces.

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Personalisation is a funny thing. When something you truly need only comes in white, you will take it. If that same product has a ridiculous number of customisation options, many people will feel inclined to cough up a lot more cash than they initially intended to spend and that is saying nothing about how much longer it will take them to make up their bloody mind. If you stop and think for a minute you will realise that the plain old white one would have worked just fine. When it comes to Second Life however, it is very easy to understand why our avis become a personal thing, as they are a digital representation of ourselves. For some people that means that they want their avi to resemble their true physical form. Others may go down the furry route or become a vampire. Many of us just want our avi to look good, but you will rarely meet anyone in SL who wants to look exactly like everybody else.

Before I switched to mesh heads, I enjoyed the higher level of individuality that could be achieved with the classic head, a.k.a system head, a.k.a. SL head, a.k.a. just call it whatever you want! I quickly started using a mesh body, but combined it with a system head. The neck tattoo solution to blend the mesh body skin with the system skin worked very well to achieve an inconspicuous seam.

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Naturally I soon noticed that mesh heads were blessed with enviably smooth porcelain features whereas my little old system head looked a bit choppy at certain angles and in certain windlights. But the downside of a mesh head was that, while of course different skins could be applied to it, the underlying structure could hardly be altered at all. This finally changed when Linden Labs introduced the new “bento” skeleton, adding many facial bones to the structure. This meant that mesh heads could now be rigged in such a way that they would respond to the sliders in your shape editor. One of the first bento enabled male mesh heads to hit the market, was “Mike” by Akeruka.

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For a long time I struggled to fade out the very recognisable features of Mike and bring something more individual to the front. Wherever I spotted this mesh head in other blogs or Flickr images, it was always with the original skin. Any other skins I tried, somehow made the liner of the eye sockets pop out and often the face looked mildly or severely pissed off at everything… That’s one way of looking at life, I suppose. By regularly coming back to this head to tweak the shape and looking out for skins and other solutions I eventually came up with these three quite different looks.

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For each of these looks I’m wearing a shape I created myself and the TMP deluxe mesh body. On the left I’m wearing the original Akeruka skin in a pale tone with a Deadwool beard. The dark somewhat longer hairstyle and green eyes help to create a pale sexy Irishman. If we’re going to talk about nationalities then I guess the one in the middle would be, a blue-eyed tanned Italian. For this look I found a skin at  The Skinnery. I was amazed at how different it makes the face look and how there’s almost no trace left of Mike. Finally for the third look I was casually browsing through my inventory and came across something with an Asian flair to it from Essences. Once you’ve applied a skin from any creator you can still use features from the Akeruka hud to add eyeliner, pigment spots, freckles and facial hair. I thought I’d try to create a fourth one, but my avi got a bit angry with me and commanded me to unplug myself from virtual life and go get some fresh air. I tried with a “why so serious?” but he was having none of that. These questionable existential multiple personality moments are troublesome!

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RFL Destination Hope Hunt

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The American Cancer Society runs a fundraising organisation named Relay For Life. Each year, more than 5,000 RFL events take place in over twenty countries and as it turns out, in Second Life as well. ‘The Inspired Dreamwalkers’ present the RFL Destination Hope Hunt. The proceeds of this grid-wide hunt will be donated entirely to RFL and the American Cancer Society. This hunt works with a passport hud and the goal is to grab the 10 L$ hunt item and also get your passport stamped at each travel destination by touching the kiosk while wearing the hud. Fill your whole passport with stamps and you win a special Prize. Head over to the starting point, get your hud and start hunting!

This is a mixed hunt and while I did visit every stop to get my stamp, I did not collect every item, cause frankly my dear I haven’t got the bosoms to fill out those frocks. Here’s what I salvaged from this hunt:

This “King” tattoo from Savage. The package also included a “Queen” version. There was no generic Omega applier but individual appliers for Belleza, Maitreya, Signature and Slink. I guess someone will find use for this.

Savage King Tattoo

From Keke I got this sweet  2-piece set of potted aquilegia. Land impact for set: 1. These can’t be separated but I think it looks better as a pair anyway.

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Mulloy injects some silliness into this hunt with this floating flamingo (land impact 2), which was the actual hunt item but a little extra gift nearby.

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I’m very pleased with these gloves by Razor. The leather texture is crisp while the metal embellishments lift the design to a higher level without being overly fussy. Versions for TMP, Aesthetic, Belleza, Maitreya and Slink are included, some of those in both male and female versions. If you are wearing these with the male TMP body, remember that you can change the hand positions via the styling hud. If you hands are in the wrong position, your fingers will cut through the gloves. Also, I’m going to assume that these will not work with bento hands.

Razor Alloy Gloves

The prize for completing the hunt is a set by Mulloy consisting of a side table, a vase with flowers, a passport and a framed picture reflecting the “Destination Hope” theme of the hunt. The image in the frame is not on a separate face, so replacing it isn’t really an option. When the four pieces of this set are linked, the land impact comes down to 3. I noticed that the flowers are separate from the vase, so you can easily reuse these in any old pickle jar you have laying around.

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This was an easy hunt and I appreciated that I didn’t have to purchase each of the 40 hunt items to be able to collect the final prize, because a lot of them were oriented towards female avatars. All I had to do in those cases was click the kiosk to collect my stamp and merrily go on my way.
Happy hunting games to all and may the odds be ever in your favour.

Fabulous Freebies II

Gabriel have recently released their latest gift for members of the L’Homme Magazine readers group. Becoming a member of this group is free and browsing through this digital publication is a visual joy as well as a good way to keep tabs on what’s new in the world of male SL fashion and lifestyle.

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Maroon Asymmetric Jacket: free L’Homme Magazine gift at Gabriel , includes versions for Slink, TMP and Signature mesh bodies
Gray Zips n Pockets Jeans by Jz for men, includes versions for Slink, TMP, Adam, and Aesthetic mesh bodies as well as standard sizing ones.
Mesh body and skin by TMP
Hair by lock&tuft

exPEAdition @ Anduril

Very bright was that sword when it was made whole again; the light of the sun shone redly in it, and the light of the moon shone cold, and its edge was hard and keen. And Aragorn gave it a new name and called it Andúril, Flame of the West.
J.R.R. Tolkien

MadPea likes to keep its group, now counting 15.000 members, busy in between new games by organising exPEAditions. The format is a simple hunt build around a little story with a cute gift at the end, if you manage to find the 10 items you need to gather. This time the exPEAdition was hosted by Anduril.

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Anduril is a fascinating mix of nature and urban jungle. Part forlorn and lost in time, part seemingly inhabited, as if some people stumbled upon a lost city and started living there, slowly building a new existence around the remnants of what could have been a thriving society once.

Anduril - Testing The Water - blogThere are plenty of spots perfect for quiet contemplation or meditation. Some areas feel quite ordinary others seem to be from a page in a fairy tale book, till you turn a corner and end up in a place with a past so dark it is plagued by eternal rains, chilling you to the bone. The darkness makes you want to run away, yet the secrets pull you in deeper.

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In this crazy varied landscape with a million and one little things to discover, MadPea had me looking for the parts of a little robot that sadly had fallen, scattering its pieces all over the place. Once I had found all the pieces and a handy screwdriver as well as a book with the self-explanatory title “Robots for Dummies”, I was finally able to put him back together again and we became the best of friends.

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Now go become friends with MadPea by joining the group (it’s free!) and keep yourself in the loop of what’s happening.

Atypical A-frame

About a month ago I published a post about my Meadowbrook Linden Home. This is a type of home you can chose, if you open a Second Life Premium account and use the 512 sqm of mainland you are entitled to within this scheme by taking a Linden Home. There are three more types of homes and several particular styles within these types to chose from.  If you are more into fairies, elves and wizards, you could go for an Elderglen dwelling. For those that like the look and feel of colourful Japanese gardens, there is Sahreta Osumai. And finally, the type of home we will be looking at now, can be found in the Tahoe district.

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It took some serious real estate hunting to find this rustic cabin retreat with open space on two sides. This A-frame house is right on the corner of a Tahoe lot and in the distance I can see some Elderglen and Meadowbrook houses, which makes this one of the more interesting Linden Home areas to explore. All the A-frame houses come as one big open space and just as with my Meadowbrook house, I was greeted by an underwhelming fireplace and texture choices that left much to be desired.

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After browsing through the various standard textures that can be applied to this house via the access panel located at the front door, I eventually settled on a neutral cream stucco with wooden beams, which seemed a natural choice for a mountain cabin. I immediately started covering the flat beams with wood-textured prims to create a more realistic 3D effect and threw down another prim to cover the shabby floor with a nice high quality parquet. With those basics out off the way, I could start focusing on the living room, which I created on the side of the house offering the nicest views. As I was going to cover up the fireplace on the other side, I installed a new one to add both a focal point and a bit of  warmth to the living room.

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I was in a somewhat ambitious mood when I started decorating this house and decided that this time around I would install a kitchen. Blocking up the fireplace with a rustic polished concrete wall and creating a second and third floor, left me with a nice corner for the “Plantation” kitchen by Apple Fall, with space for a cute little wood burning stove by Lisp Bazaar and a vintage fridge by Dutchie. To be honest, I added a few more details which I usually haven’t out on display, just to make the picture look more interesting. I was down to my last prim after that! Oy vey, my nerves!

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What you see in these pictures is by no means the result of a first attempt to create levels in this house. I have tried putting the staircase in the middle with a cute niche underneath it for a desk, but then I still had to come up with something else to cover that dismal fireplace.

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The solution I went for in the end, gave me two extra levels instead of just one, with a corner big enough for a bathroom with a shower, washing basin and toilet, effectively pushing the realistic functionality of the house even further.

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Go up a second flight of stairs and you enter the bedroom via a spacious dressing area, with a wardrobe system provided by Bazar and an oversized beanbag by Dysfunctionality, ideal for sitting down an putting on my socks with a bit of dignity or for just sitting there and staring at my wardrobe full of “nothing to wear”.

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Last but not least there’s the one thing that most people manage to rez in their Second Life home: the bed. This is where the magic happens… Unless you’re too busy decorating homes, shopping, playing games, styling your avatar, chatting and discovering sims to leave much time for that kind of magic. But as you can see, some beds can help you create the illusion of working on your blog inworld as well as in real life, so either way it’s not entirely useless.

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I hope this has given you some ideas of what you can do with your Linden Home, or even any kind of home you occupy in Second Life. Just try something, what’s the worst that can happen? It’s not like real life where, if you don’t like the paint you’ve just put on the wall, you have to learn to live with it for a while because paint is bloody expensive. Just have fun!

 

 

Men Only Monthly – May / June 2017

Arguably there is no shortage of commercial events in Second Life. I say arguably, because I suspect there are some avid SL shopaholics out there suffering from a constant craving for new pixels. They’re the ones trying to get into an event the moment it opens, wearing a full body alpha in an attempt to minimise lag and running around like a deranged ghost repeatedly muttering “must-find-new-outfit”. Or perhaps they’re more like zombies. That makes me think that people that have one of those mesh heads with a brain in it better watch out! But I’m getting sidetracked here. I meant to write about a monthly event I regularly visit.

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Men Only Monthly is, as the name indicates, a monthly event that allows designers to showcase their latest pieces dedicated to male avatars. This stimulates the SL economy and gives the designers a deadline to work to. I could go into a lengthy dissertation about how deadlines push productivity but hamper creativity and how this means that you will not necessarily always see the best work at these events. Being one of those weirdos who usually see both sides of the coin, I could equally passionately argue that plenty of people perform at their best under a certain amount of pressure. In any case it means that between the 20th of the current month and the 15th of the next month, the somewhat lazier convenience shopper has a place to go to where around 45 new items can be purchased and they can come out of the experience totally swankified and ready for a brand new SL experience… Till the next round comes along.

This month I was charmed by a rugged looking pair of overalls by Gild, with a Jack Daniels whiskey flask as a very well executed detail. It proofs that men can wear something “off the shoulder” too and be sexy and it’s just a little bit cheeky, if you know what I mean.

Gild overalls

Something else that managed to catch my eye, was the hairstyle “Haunting” by Stealthic. I hadn’t heard of this brand before and that’s probably because they only have two male hairstyles at their shop. I really appreciate the realistic looking hair roots and the fact that this hairstyle comes with its own little styling hud containing four alternatives.

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After trying on numerous items of clothing and discarding them for one reason or another or mentally classifying them in the “maybe for later” folder, I  Eventually  was able to break free from the shopping daze and sprinted out of the MOM hall wearing a pare of scandalously skimpy running shorts by Noche and I kept on running like the wind blows all the way to the beach… Oy vey, that salty air always gives me such frizz.

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Farnsworth House

Apart from having oodles of fun in Second Life I occasionally also find it to be quite educational. Various organisations offer courses in subjects I haven’t even begun to contemplate. One of the more obvious subjects, which you are constantly surrounded by, is architecture. There are many Second Life creators taking inspiration from real life by recreating historically significant buildings. A nice example is the virtual version of the Farnsworth House, which I was introduced to by a friend and have been renting for a while now.

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Farnsworth House was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as a one-room weekend retreat in a rural setting, commissioned by prominent Chicago nephrologist, Dr. Edith Farnsworth, as a place where she could engage in her hobbies — playing the violin, translating poetry, and enjoying nature.
Mies constructed this glass box residence, which he described as trying to create “almost nothing”, along the Fox River in Plano, Illinois and today it has become an iconic example of mid-century modernism and thankfully is protected by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

My SL version of this house certainly mimics the rural surroundings of the original. It is placed right on the edge of a parcel, landscaped by a self-confessed tree hugger. That is to say, he really likes his trees in Second Life and as luck has it, this kind of building looks at its best surrounded by trees.

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Part of the house juts out over water, supported by the vertical beams which have been driven deep into the bedrock. From the inside this almost creates the feeling of being on a cruise liner, while on the outside it means I have a focal point to return to when I go for a swim.

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For the interior I found inspiration in the treasure trove of images of the house’s original decor, or at least the architect’s vision of it. I have my suspicions that Dr. Farnsworth didn’t entirely share this vision.  However, Mies van der Rohe designed some of the most memorable pieces of furniture of the mid-century era, so much so that they are still in demand today. The Barcelona chair was originally designed for the German Pavilion at the International Exposition of 1929 and about 90 years later it still feels almost futuristic. Trompe Loeil have done a very nice job replicating this chair for Second Life, both with and without a blanket and an extensive texture change hud so you have an excuse to change the colour scheme of your entire living room whenever you’re feeling a bit restless.

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I did some more research on mid-century modern furniture and gathered a nice collection of pieces to partly recreate the Farnsworth house interior I saw in reference material, but as I do not entirely share van der Rohe’s somewhat austere design aesthetic, my approach has been more colourful with just a very slight hint of chaos and a better sense of humour.

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Fanatik has done a great job recreating Farnsworth House for Second Life, though some corners have been cut. What functions as a short partition wall in this virtual house, in real life was a wardrobe. This was something Dr. Farnsworth had to fight for, as her approach was a more practical one (“I need a place to hang my clothes!”) than Mies’ vision of “almost nothing”. What’s also missing from this SL version, is the bathroom which you will find cleverly hidden in the central wood block of the real house.

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But lets not bitch too much about what is missing because it is always possible to simply “imagine” that there are things hidden in the central wood block. Overall I like spending time at this weekend retreat, just pottering about, changing little things, lying on the bed and enjoying the open view over the water as the Northern Lights elegantly dance across the sky. I have my espresso machine and toaster oven, so I don’t have to suffer from caffeine withdrawal symptoms or go hungry and I have my laptop, books and art to keep my mind creatively engaged. Quite simply, I think I’ve fallen a little bit in love with this place.

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Quizzical Quest

While its creators keep referring to Second Life as a game, many of its residents refuse to see it like that. I have heard it described as a virtual social arena where everybody is free to express their creativity through their avatar, the way they decorate their pixel homes and anything else they can think of which is both technically and financially within their means. However, I believe that when push comes to shove, most people turn to Second Life for a bit of fun and there certainly are some games available on the grid to meet that need.

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In their eight years of activity in Second Life, MadPea have created over 80 gaming experiences. One of their more recent games is called The Tower. You wake up in a strange room, with no memory of who you are or how you ended up there. It soon becomes apparent that you are on the 8th floor of an unfamiliar building and the only way to work yourself down to the ground level is by solving a series of challenging puzzles.

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At a library, especially a MadPea library, you are surrounded by so much knowledge it is easy to feel overwhelmed and wonder what it all means. Don’t worry about it too much though. You can always reach out to your fellow Peas for a nudge into the right direction via MadPea’s jovial group chat. Often you will discover that the answer was right in front of you all the time, but you were overanalysing… Or perhap I’m just projecting now.

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Maybe something sweet and a hot cup of joe is exactly what you need to kick-start your memory. I’m willing to bet that many Peas have resorted to a sugar rush and a heavy dose of caffeine to help them solve the puzzle at this cafe.

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Oh no! A chemistry pop quiz! I wasn’t prepared for that!

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When you eventually have managed to pull yourself away from The Tower and have had time to let it all sink in a bit, and perhaps have taken a nap, you can give The Tower Quiz a go.

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This is a clever little trick from MadPea to keep people talking about The Tower and if you answer all the questions correctly, you stand a chance of winning a free HUD to their upcoming game. I wonder which part of my personality makes me enjoy filling in this kind of questionnaire a little bit too much. Is it the nerd, the detective or the competitive hunter? I’ll leave you all to ponder that piece of pop psychology and hope to be back soon with more games, freebies, decorating inspiration, events and adventures.

Fabulous Freebies I

When I first became a Second Life resident, I was all about the freebies. This is very common behaviour for noobs and probably the smartest way to upgrade your avatar while you are still trying to figure out if SL is going to be something for you. We should keep in mind though that everything we see and use has been created by fellow residents and some of them are actually trying to make a living that way. I soon became bored with looking a bit rough around the edges and cracked open the wallet after a couple of weeks or so. Having said that, I still enjoy a nice freebie. My standards have raised a bit and many items will go straight to trash after unpacking, but there are still plenty of quality gifts to be found, if you know where to look for them.

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L’Homme Magazine isn’t only a beautifully created digital magazine focusing on male fashion in SL, it also has a readers group you can join free of charge which entitles you to various gifts from creators listed in the magazine. If you care even just a little bit about looking good in SL, you definitely need to check it out. The images have been highly processed outside of Second Life and you shouldn’t expect that things will always look just as nice inworld, but every page carefully lists which items have been used, making it easy to replicate some of the looks, though of course with a twist that makes it “you”.

Hunting for freebies can be fun and a good example of this is MadPea’s Ghost Town. You can enter this MadPea game free of charge and upon completion you will gain access to a prize room.

One of my favourite items from that particular haul is a nicely detailed, well-fitting pair of jeans by  Lapointe & Bastchild as shown in the picture below. If you’re not familiar with this brand yet, you may want to visit the L&B main store. The bracelets I’m wearing are a nice example of the kind of free items you can collect by checking out the current L’Homme Magazine. You will find them at Swallow.

fabulous freebies 001Evidently this outfit is rather anaemic, but it wouldn’t need much more to finish it off. A nice tank top and pair of boots and you’re good to go.

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