Saturday, November 9, 2013

Recipe: Roasted Cinnamon-Sugar Pecans

At some point a few weeks ago, I decided it was a brilliant idea to live tweet my recipe for Pumpkin Pie. I had fun doing it and decided that I would do it once more, this time with the Roasted Pecan recipe my coworker gave me. For those that don't follow me on Twitter, or that just want the recipe for use later, here it is in all it's glory.

Roasted Cinnamon-Sugar Pecans

Preheat oven to 275°F; Makes 1lb Pecans.
1lb (16 ounces) Raw Pecan Halves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 C sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg white
1 tbsp water
Step 0 and 1! 
Preheat the oven to 275°F and line a baked sheet with either foil or parchment paper.

Step 2!
Mix the cinnamon, sugar and salt in a small bowl.

Step 3!
Whip the egg white and water together in a large bowl until frothy.

Step 4!
Toss the pecan halves in with the egg white mixture in the large bowl until all the pecans are evenly coated.

Step 5!
Gradually mix the cinnamon sugar mixture into the pecans. The key to getting the powder evenly distributed is by doing it gradually.

Step 6!
Spread the coated pecans out on your lined baking sheet. Try to get them all to one layer.

Step 7!
Bake the pecans at 275°F for one hour, mixing the pecans every 15 minutes to ensure even cooking and that they don't stick to the pan.

Step 8!
Once the pecans are toasted and the sugar is starting to brown, remove them from the oven and transfer the nuts to a clean parchment paper to cool. If you leave them on the baking sheet, they're like to stick to the sugar there.

Step 9!
The pecans will cool quickly to a temperature that you can eat, so if you're serving them then go ahead dish them out! If you're storing them for later, make sure that they've cooled completely before putting into an air-tight container.

That's it! Pretty straight forward, right? Feel free to tweak the recipe as you like, such as using less sugar or adding in some vanilla.

Friday, September 13, 2013

GenCon & Beyond: Vlogs, Interviews and Reviews

I obviously haven't posted here in awhile. I feel I need to explain.

I launched a YouTube channel at GenCon 2013. Like, literally at the con. I recorded footage every day of the con and would go back to my hotel room every night, just to sit and edit until the sun rose again, then posted my videos to YouTube whilst shoving down breakfast before I raced back to the con. It was exhausting and a bit crazy and I definitely came down with ConCrude because of it.. but I would not go back and do it differently for anything.

I met fantastic people while shooting for my channel. I interviewed unlikely game designers and very likely ones. I shadowed an elite group of Adventurers into the unknown perils of True Dungeon. I talked to moms who spent days making their kids the most amazing cosplay outfits ever. I listened and watched musicians perform fantastic music. I was the pilot of a starship and the programmer of a very silly robot. I played games until I was falling asleep at the table – and I was lucky enough to be able to record it all on video. The best part of all of this, though, the thing that really gets me, is that I was just a girl with a video camera. I was a stranger among thousands and everyone I talked to was more than happy to let me record them to put it on the internet. I love that they trusted me with that power and I feel so very honored to be given that trust.

Ahem. Right. So, that's my rant on my tiny little soapbox of an OP. I guess I should link the videos now, huh?

I've organized all of my GenCon videos into a playlist, which you can see here: GenCon 2013 Playlist

There you'll find my 5 daily vlogs, interviews with the designers of Dungeon RollEminent Domain, and In the City: Origins, a behind-the-scenes look at True Dungeon, and some extra footage that I cut together of me just being silly.

If you want to see something here and now, may I recommend the first of three videos of me being, well, me:

I'm still editing all the footage I got at the con, and have even more footage that I took at PAX a couple weeks later. I have video ideas overflowing my brain for table top reviews and interviews and tutorials and just so much that I want to create. So.. you know, if this kinda thing interests you, Subscribe and Like and all those things. And/or follow me on Twitter. Warning: Contains Me.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Recipe: Spaghetti Squash Salad

It's no secret that I love me some veggies, especially veggies that can be used to fill in for other foods.

This month's recipe post (because apparently these are monthly) is for a vegetarian salad that's perfect for summer, and using up whatever leftover spaghetti squash you may have from last night's meal.

So honestly this recipe was born less as a conscious effort and more of a "what can I do with what's in my fridge." The answer was of course, "a lot," but I restrained myself. Instead I made a basic cucumber, tomato, feta salad with spaghetti squash as the center of the dish, to make it a full meal as opposed to a simple side. I had cooked and prepped a large squash the day before, so my squash noodles were already chilled. This is a great recipe for using up those leftover noodles and will likely be a quick default in my arsenal of meal ideas.

Spaghetti Squash Salad

3 C Spaghetti Squash (cooked, prepped, and chilled)
1 Medium Cucumber
2 Tomatos (on the vine type)
1 C Feta
1/4 C Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Dice your cucumber and tomato into quarter-inch chunks; mix with your chilled spaghetti squash, feta, vinegar and oil. Bam! Dinner's served.

Note: I used chopsticks to evenly mix my ingredients and it worked out pretty well.

And that, folks, is how I didn't starve last night ;)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Board Stiff with Travel Games

I was still on the road last week and only had a quick train ride to whip up something for Board Stiff. I decided to take a look at a couple of the travel games I had with me and write up some fast reviews.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been traveling along the Northwestern Coast of the US, collecting a varied assortment of travel-friendly games to help pass the time. Now I’m trapped on the 508 Cascades with nothing but a bottle of Eastside Distillery Bourbon, my laptop, and a few hours. Let’s see how many travel games I can review before my train pulls into the station, shall we?
Jump on over to see my quick reviews!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Board Stiff with Escape!

Who are we kidding, the fourth Indiana Jone's movie was a total crock. So how about we just act out our own version with a board game, hm? Enter Escape! a ten-minute co-op about, well, escaping a temple that's collapsing on your head. Sound fun? Let's get to it!
There are no turns or even a sense of order in this game – you just roll and then roll some more. Everyone rolls whenever they want, all the time, doing whatever they want with their dice, within reasons of decency, at any time. The first game you and your friends play will likely resemble a releasing of 100 preteens into Disney World: everyone in every direction, screw you, I’m going to ride Space Mountain. This definitely helps you get the map explored quickly, I’ll give you that, but it doesn’t get everyone to the exit quickly, which you must do.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


Mom sits on the small private deck in one of the two rocking chairs, her feet propped up on the other. A barstool from the in-studio dining set has been employed as a table for her wine, her beads, her yarn. The pattern she's trying to follow lays on her crossed legs. Quiet mumbles of stitch counts and pattern repeats escape from her bubble and leak into my own. I sit at the desk, just inside the sliding door, pecking away at the keys. My position implies I think slouching over my computer might aid the writing process in some way.

It doesn't.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Travel by Starbucks

Anyone that follows me on Twitter knows that I'm no stranger to Starbucks. It's not that I particularly like their coffee (it's okay), it's just that it's so gosh-darn convinent. They're flipping everywhere, and they all have exactly the same things to offer. It's the same thing that the 60's did for McDonald's: a consistent name brand that you can get anywhere and that you trust. Except now instead of mediocre excuses for food, it's mediocre excuses for coffee – and food.

On my lastest jaunt across the country via car, I made a point to pit-stop only at Starbucks (and gas stations) whenever I could. I'm all for supporting local mom-and-pop places for meals, but for just a quick in and out, they're not very convenient. Let's look at what Starbucks gives the wise road-tripper:

Clean bathrooms

Seriously, Starbucks has the nicest restrooms on the highways. Their staff is held to a higher standard than most fast good places, and their clientele seems to be a bit more high-brow as well. Nothing says "Buy Our $4 Cup of Coffee" like clean restrooms.

Free Water (Cold or Hot)

As someone that tends to travel with a water bottle strapped to my belt and packets of tea (or instant coffee) in my pocket, free water is a must. Starbucks will give you as much water as you like – within reason – for free. You can get hot, iced, or tap water as long as you hold the lid for the container yourself (they're trained not to touch customer's used lids). If you don't have your own container, they'll give you the water in the size cup you request. The hot water is extremely convenient if you've got an instant meal to "cook" and don't want to boil your own water in the parking lot.

Free Wifi

In theory, all Starbucks offer the same free wifi services. In truth this isn't always the case, as sometimes a store's unit it broken or so laggy it's not worth your time. But it still stands that Starbucks has free wifi. No purchase required and you can sit in their lobby, or just outside the door, for as long as you like to use it. What could be better than that?

(Mostly) Free Coffee

This one isn't as straight forward as the water or wifi, but it is still possible. If you put the time and effort into getting a Starbucks card on your phone and using it until you earn yourself Gold Status, you can earn free refills on drip coffee. What this means for you and your road trip is that you can purchase a grande cup of coffee at pit stop #1 and simply cash in on free refills at all the rest of your stops. The option to give out the free refill is in the hands of the Starbucks you're stopping at, but I've yet to be refused a free refill when I present my rinsed out Starbucks cup and scan my Gold Card.

Decent (If Not Expensive) Food

Starbucks has recently been expanding its food mart to have a wider variety of food and snacks available. This includes the normal unhealthy pastries, but also a variety of fresh fruit, yogurt, salads, and sandwiches. They also have hot sandwiches sold all day (though some people assume they're only for breakfast) and a good selection of vegetarian options (the Spinach Feta Wrap is my fav). Everything is more expensive at Starbucks, though, so don't expect a bargin on the food items. Just appreciate their speed and quality of delivery. If you want cheap food options, head into the grocery store that is very likely nearby for some fresh produce and snacks.

There ya go, there's the break down on why I have adopted my policy of "Travel by Starbucks."  It's not as quick as a dash into the truck stop, which has its time and place on any road trip, but I like to think it leads to a happier Tiffany on arrival.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Board Stiff with Flash Point: Fire Rescue

I'm on fire in this week's Board Stiff with a look at one heated game for  summer, Flash Point: Fire Rescue!
The game starts out easily enough, I’ll grant you that. Assumedly someone’s called 911 about a fire in some residence on some street. You and your crew of skilled firefighters arrive, quickly assess the situation, and get to work saving everyone and everything you can. For the quick-start, “family” version of the game, the fire’s started in the middle of the structure – supposedly in the oven or on the stove: A fun lesson of why you shouldn’t let your six year old cook.

Sunday, June 30, 2013


It seems like getting myself on my feet and out the door becomes a chore every so often. It doesn't matter how many miles I've gone or how many races I've finished, I still end up in these funks.

They're silly funks, pointless.

There's no one saying I can't run. Just me.

There's no one telling me that I'm slow. Just me.

There's no one whispering that I don't belong. Just me.

After I ran the San Francisco Half Marathon, I was gun-ho about my next half in October. I was so pumped, I signed-up for a 3rd half in Denver, two weeks after the San Jose one. And yet.. two months after I hit my SF goal time almost exactly, I'm literally dragging my feet around, mopping about how I'm not a runner. What kind of mental flipflop is that?

I have a lot of excuses, do you want to hear them? They're all very good. Very convincing. They must be, if they've kept me off the streets for this long. (In my defense, one is legit – my tendon issue in my foot is back – but I'm not actively doing all I can to make that better so it is still an excuse.)

Rawr. Frustration. If I would just start, I know I would fall in love again.

Starting is the hard part. It always is. So many what-ifs.




Friday, June 28, 2013

I'm a Broccoli Lover..

Don't call the cops. I swear, it is me writing this post. I haven't been kidnapped and replaced with a malfunctioning clone. At least.. I don't think so...

Oh god, all of my hair's gone! And it's.. it's colored?.. What if I have been replaced?!

How do I figure out if I'm a robot clone? And better yet, do I care?... I seem to be quite happy to be me, clone or not. Hm, this will require more investigations. In the mean time, Broccoli! Yes, Broccoli! That wipes the worries of potentially being a clone away.

When I was a kid, I hated broccoli. Hated, hated, hated. My parents tried everything to get me to eat it – smothering it in cheese and sauces had no effect. I fought the disgusting rubber trees regardless of topping. Now that I'm older though, I think I may have solved the problem. Fresh broccoli, steam or grilled it amazing. None of that frozen and nuked crap. Sautéed with parmesan or baked with spinach, nom nom nom.

My latest experiments with broccoli has wielded delicious results.

This is a lazy dish, where I basically toss a head of broccoli florets in with some garbanzo beans and then top with parmesan. The general recipe that I follow can be found here.

For a more involved meal, I went with the Cauliflower and Broccoli Flan from Epicurious. Amazingly delicious, though quite a bit of work.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Board Stiff with Eminent Domain

I wrap up my month long tirade on deck-building games this week with a look at Eminent Domain, a game with an interesting twist on breaking the sandbox mold.
 There doesn’t seem to be any particular strategy that works consistently better than the rest – the key to a particular role’s strength is completely determined by how many people go with that role as a key part of their gameplay strategy. This is huge! In other deck-builders there are obvious, perfect strategies for certain card sets – combos that once learned will forever be sought because they win you the game. Always. Eminent Domain’s group-think occurrence prevents this from happening. Roles have the potential to be as strong or as weak as the players as a majority chose them to be.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Board Stiff with Thunderstone; Deck-Building Part 3

Three weeks might be one too many for me when it comes to writing about a game type. Either that or I should try writing these things before 11pm on a Sunday.. Regardless, though, this week I push on and write about Thunderstone, a deck-building dungeon crawler that is as heavy as your heart.
This side tangent of fed-up exhausted ranting may lead you to the conclusion that I don’t likeThunderstone. That I don’t like a game where you need a finely executed plan and team to consistently take out the monsters present in the Dungeon over yonder. Instead, you get the team of adventurers that were rejected by DnD Academy and left to drown their sorrows in whatever podunk village you keep finding them in. That’s unfair of me, I know. It’s not their fault that you can’t bloody shuffle right.
Shuffle on over like you do and take a gander.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Crochet Pattern: Baby Owl Hat

I have a new niece!!! Her name is Emma Irene and she's pretty freaking cute, if I may say so. She's got dark brown hair like her mommy and dark (probably) hazel eyes like her mommy and she's also pretty chill, like her mommy. Her big sister isn't too sure of her yet (cause she takes after her daddy), but Miss Natalie is warming up to the idea of having a kid sister.

Over the last couple of years I've knit Natalie a few hats, all of which her parents have kept in preparation for their 2nd little one. Right now Natalie's favorite hat is an owl hat someone bought her for her first birthday. I decided it would be pretty adorable is Emma had a matching one for some cute family pictures, so I whipped up my own version. I introduce the Baby Owl Hat.

As always, I present this pattern to you for free with the understanding that it's mine. Mine, I tell you! Do not copy or sell this pattern, or the hats you make with it, without my permission. This pattern is for personal and charity use only. Kthx.

Techniques You'll Need:
- Magic Circle
- Chain (ch)
- Slip stitch (ss)
- Singe crochet (sc)
- Half-double crochet (hdc)
- Double crochet (dc)

- Crochet in Spirals & Rounds
- Increase
- Decrease
- Stitching

Extra Things You'll Need:
- Stitch marker
- Darning Needle

Baby Owl Hat
Yarn: Bernat Satin Solids in Fern (top color), Flamingo (bottom color), White (eyes); Bit of scrap yarn in black, orange, and another color for the flower
Gauge: Bernat Satin Solids : 15dc x 5 rows = 4 inch x 4 inch
Hook: US G (4.00mm)

My second niece, whom this was made for, has a rather large head, just like her big sister.  She's only a week old and there is a selection of newborn outfits that no longer fit her. I made the hat with a little bit of room for her to grow, so I'd say it's a potential 3-6 month hat... maybe a 2-4 month? Try to keep that in mind. I'll present the pattern the way I made it, feel free to make modifications for the other sizes, just keep in mind gauge.

The body is crocheted in the round, using the dc stitch.

With the top color yarn:
R1: Using the Magic Circle technique, sc 6 into the ring. Mark your last stitch.
R2: 2dc in each stitch around (12)
R3: *dc, 2dc, repeat around from * (18)
R4: *dc 2, 2dc, repeat around from * (24)
R5: *dc 3, 2dc, repeat around form * (30)
R6: *dc 4, 2dc, repeat around form * (36)
Cut the yarn, but don't bind-off.

Switch to bottom color yarn.

Now for the mindless bit.. dc in a spiral until the hat measures about 5" from the starting point of the hat – 3" from where you changed colors.

To add the ear flaps, lay the hat flat with the round's beginning a bit off center, to the left. The spot where you changed colors is going to be covered up by one of the eyes, so keep that in mind when positioning the hat. For my hat, I folded it so that the end of the round is 9 stitches from the edge.

Work around the hat once more with dc stitches, but don't do the complete round. Stop 3 stitches or so from the end of the round and then make the first earflap.

Ch 2 and turn.
Dc 10 across. Ch 2, turn.
Dc 9 across. Ch 2, turn.
Dc 8 across. Ch 2, turn.
Dc 7 across. Ch 2, turn.
Dc 6 across. Ch 2, turn.
Ch 1, hdc, dc, hdc, hdc, sc

You've made the first ear flap! Now you're going to add some trimming. Single crochet down the side of the earflap, continuing in the direction you're already facing. Once you get to the body of the hat, continue single crocheting across the front for 12 stitches. Now, time to make the second earflap.

Dc 12 across. Ch 2, turn.

Dc 10 across. Ch 2, turn.
Dc 9 across. Ch 2, turn.
Dc 8 across. Ch 2, turn.
Dc 7 across. Ch 2, turn.
Dc 6 across. Ch 2, turn.
Ch 1, hdc, hdc, dc, hdc, sc
Ch 1, turn.
Ss 5 and then start single crocheting down the side of the earflap. Continue around the back of the hat and up the other side of the first earflap. Cut yarn and bind off at the end of the first earflap. Then, attach yarn at the bottom of the un-edged side of the second earflap. Single crochet up the side, cut yarn and bind off at the end. You should now have a earflaped hat with a nice clean single crochet edge.

Owl Eyes
Make 2, with white:
R1: Using the Magic Circle technique, sc 6 into the ring. Mark your last stitch.
R2: 2dc in each stitch around (12)

Cut yarn, leaving a 8" tail and bind off.

Using black yarn, embroider lashes onto the eye. Use the picture for reference.

Once both eyes are made, make sure your starting end of white and the black ends from the lashes are secure and tucked behind them. Whipstitch the eyes into position using the photo for reference. Make sure you cover up the color change!

Owl Nose
Make 1, with orange:

Ch 2, turn and 2 sc in the 2nd chain from hook. Ch 1 and turn.
2sc in each stitch. Ch 1 and turn.
2sc, sc, 2sc.

Cut yarn leaving a 8" tail and bind off. Whipstitch nose on, centered between eyes, using photos as reference.

Owl Ears
Make 2 with top color.

Dc 6 into a magic circle
2dc around (12 stitches)
Dc around
Dc2tog around (6 stitches)
Hdc, sc, ss, tie off with an 8 inch tail.

Use the tail to whip stitch the ear into place, using photos as reference.

Make one, with 2 contrasting, "flowery" colors. (You don't need a lot, scraps should do.

With contrasting color, ch 2, 5 sc in 2nd ch from hook. John with ss to first sc. Cut yarn.
Attach main flower color.
[(ch 2, 3dc, ch2) into the same sc, ss to the next stitch.] Repeat for all 5 stitches. Cut yarn, leaving 8" tail.

Bind and tuck all ends of the flower and then using the long tail, whip stitch it onto the hat.

Cut 2 4" pieces of yarn from each white and your top and bottom colors. Do a simple loop knot at the tip of each ear with one of each color. Pull tight to make sure it's secure. 

Place on adorable baby and let the "AWwww"s begin.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Board Stiff with Deck Builders (Dominion & DC Deck-Building Game)

Apparently I'm still readjusting to my recent lack of a schedule.

Last week over at GrE I kicked off a series on deck-building games, starting with the new classic: Dominion.
Dominion, designed by Donald X. Vaccarino and published by Rio Grande Games, was the first card game on the market that introduced the concept of players building their decks during the play of a game, rather than separate from it. It is the diversion that coined the phrase “deck-building game” in the first place and can be blamed almost entirely for my addiction to this hobby.

Following that up, this week I took a look at one of my new favorite games, DC Deck-Building Game. What it lacks in good title, it makes up for with clean and simple play.
DC Deck-Building Game, henceforth, shall be named… (drum roll please) Superheros That Aren’t Owned By Marvel Deck-Building Game Because Marvel Already Came Out With One And DC Needed To As Well. Just rolls off the tongue. Game designers, I’m available for freelance title suggests anytime. 
Maybe I should start to talk about the game.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Board Stiff with Kickstarter

If ever a falser statement was made.. I can't ever be bored with Kickstarter. It is the reason I haven't paid off student loans, truth be told, and now I'm going to try and spread that joy to you.
Today’s article is going to come in two parts, both revolving around the world of Kickstarter. The first bit is about how to find and back games on the site, where I’ll give you stuff to look for on the project pages. The second part of the soapbox today will be about putting your own projects on Kickstarter. I haven’t posted anything myself, but I can rant offer suggestions about what is good and bad to have on your project page, as well as any things you might need to be prepared for.
Click over to GrE to read up on how I find the newest and greatest games coming out from Indie Developers and big companies alike.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Board Stiff with Power Grid

I make it all about family in this week's column over at GamesAreEvil. I also keep it real, so, you know, curse words. Lil' bit. Just a few.

Players gonna hate.
Power Grid! It’s a game about building a – wait, you guessed it – power grid! Players take on the role of a power company CEO? Board? I don’t know who runs companies, but that guy. You play as that guy. You try and build the most effective power company on whichever map you decide to play on. To do this, you need to buy power plants, buy resources to fuel those plants, build substations in cities, and then burn your resources to power those cities. 
You know the drill. Click here to read moreeeeee.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Recipe: Eggplant Parmesan Towers & A Semi-Vegetarian Rant

After living in Nor Cal for almost 5 years now, it's not all that surprising that I've become a bit of a vegetarian. I'm not a real vegetarian, thanks to bacon and pork belly, but it's a close call. Since I stopped eating meat every meal and started treating it like, well, a treat, I feel a lot healthier. A lot of people push no-meat days like Meatless Monday and that's fine, but for me I rather eat meat in a less-American fashion, meaning maybe once a week? And, when I do have meat, I like for it to actually be meat. Not mass produced, genetically altered, chemically injected, processed meat-like substances like you get at McDonalds and other fast-food joints.

There are also environmental reasons I don't eat a lot of meat anymore, and I could get out my soap box and write up a huge post about how Americans waste more resources like water and grain to raise livestock than you know, healthy humans, but I don't feel like picking a fight on the internet at the moment. Right now I feel like writing a recipe.

Trader Joe's, the grocery store I frequent the most, has a huge fresh produce section and a lot of delicious pre-made meals. I don't remember the last time I bought meat, or a pre-made meal from TJ's that had meat in it, and that's not due to consciously avoiding it. My favorite dish they sell is their Eggplant Parmesan Towers, which are basically like lasagna with eggplant instead of pasta, and happen to be vegetarian. Anywho, while I'm in Colorado, I don't have access to a Trader Joe's, and thus, no nomalicious eggplant towers.. so I decided I would make my own delicious version of the dish.

Eggplant Parmesan Towers

Preheat oven to 350°F
2 medium sized eggplants (or 1 large)
1 bag of baby Spinach
16ox marinera
1 cup Mozzarella shredded cheese 
1 cup Parmesan shredded cheese
2 eggs
Salt, Pepper, Oregano, Basil

Peel eggplant(s).

Slice eggplant(s) into 1/2 inch slices.

Coat bottom of casserole dish with a thin layer of marinera.

In a shallow bowl, scramble your two eggs. In another, mix your parmesan cheese with some salt, pepper, oregano and basil herbs (I don't have measurements for this.. I just sprinkle some in.)
Using your right hand, dip a slice of eggplant into the egg, flip it, then put it into the parmesan once it's nicely coated in egg. Then, using your left hand, coat the slice with the cheese mixture on both sides. Once there's a somewhat-coating layer of cheese and spices, put the slice in the casserole dish.

After you've got one layer of eggplant in the dish, time to add toppings! Spoon some marinera onto each slice of eggplant, then cover with some spinach and mozzarella.
I didn't pre-cook my spinach for this dish, but if I did it again, I'd steam them at least until they started to wilt.

Repeat the eggplant coating and layering process for another layer.

If your dish is high enough and you have enough eggplant, feel free to try for a triple layer tower. I only had another parmesan to make two triple layer towers.

Stick in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes at 350°F, or until the cheese on top starts to brown.

Plate, serve, devour.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Board Stiff with Story Telling, Part 3 – Fiasco

As we all learned in my last post, I spent a good chunk of last week getting to Colorado and then suffering from the snow I had brought with me. Uncertain if I'd be able to write my Board Stiff piece for this week, I enlisted the aid of my friend Mitch to do a guest post for me.
The game does the heavy lifting for you, providing inciting incidents and dizzying twists, while you get to do the fun part; pretending to be someone else and causing as much trouble for your friends as you possibly can. 
Shuffle over to GrE and have a gander at Mitch's artful telling of Fiasco.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Board Stiff with Story Telling (and Backlogs)

First thing's first. This repost is a bit late, as I spent most all of yesterday driving through Wyoming. But I'm in Colorado now, enjoying the beautiful May weather...

Yeah. That's snow. I escaped the freezing cold of my mother's house and found safe harbor at a local Starbucks. That's not what this post is about, though! It's about Board Stiff!
Dear minions, 
It has come to my attention that your performance as of late has been.. concerning. The dungeons look clean, the moat has ducks, and last week I heard a prisoner describe the food as ‘decent.’ This kind of shoddy workmanship in our line of business is appalling, and frankly, rude to our enemies...
You can finish reading all about the Dark Overlord's disappointment over at GamesAreEvil, where I take a look at Aye, Dark Overlord.

Second thing – I realized looking back that I didn't post two of my Board Stiff reviews from March.

Seasons and A Few Acres of Snow are two of my favorite games right now, and they both bring some unique features to the table. Both use selective card drafting, or deck building, and both are games where you're battling against your opponent(s). In Seasons, you're a wizard casting magical items and familiar to best your enemies. In A Few Acres of Snow, you take on the role of the French or the British in the American theater of the Seven Years War. I recommend both completely, so head over and take a look at Seasons and A Few Acres of Snow.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Lake and Ichi, In Tahoe

At 5:30pm on Friday, I abandoned my laptop. I put Ichi into her harness and we piled into Mongo, my name for Eric's larger vehicle. It was a short drive, just a few miles to the right – wait, no – left. Due to construction, the drive was a bit longer than we'd expected. Not bad, per se, but longer still. We pulled off of 89 and onto the shoulder, next to a sign covered by a tarp that read "Closed for the Season." But it's April, late April, and Tahoe is between Seasons now. There are no tourists, only construction and locals. Locals that bring dogs and cameras down to the lake for some fun in the last bits of sun.

I had brought Ichi's favorite Tahoe toy, a funny Z-shaped rubbery thing that is bright orange and throws like a sideways frisbee. It's a bit too tall for her and she has to lift her head high to walk whilst carrying it. That doesn't seem to bother her, though. It's still her favorite toy that I bought for her when we had an address in Tahoe.

Mel tried to teach her that it's name was "sex toy." She succeeded on some level. Ichi knows that her beloved object has "toy" in the name. Preceding it with "your", "the", or any other words seems to work just as well as "sex". Really it's okay if my dog thinks her toy is named something a bit inappropriate – it's not like she'll be saying it's name.


I brought the toy to the "Closed for the Season" trip to the water's rocky edge and with it in hand, let Ichi off her leash. Keeping my poor dog on a leash is a bit silly whenever that toy is in my possession  If that toy is near the presence of her and I at the same time, she will not leave my side for fear that I will not throw it, or worse, I will throw it and she will not know where it went. She will carry it up a mountain in 4 feet of snow in the hopes that I will pause and throw it for her. I have also now learned that she will walk and then swim into Lake Tahoe for that toy. Again, and again, and again.

She will swim out into the lake, going in circles until she can barely keep her head above the water, desperate to try and find it once more after I've thrown it too far. She will swim and then wade and then crawl onto shore to rest for a moment. Here she will stare off into the lake, look back at me with imploring eyes and then walk back into the blue in the direction the stone I throw lands. In circles she will paddle, heading towards the splashes from rocks Howard, Eric and I try to aim around the floating Z. And when she finds it? Her head will dive into the water, jaws open and eyes wide, snatching it up before it can get away again. 

She will swim back to shore and then wade and then crawl onto the rocks, barreling and sliding over boulders as big as her like they will move out of her way. When she finally gets to dry land, she will walk a bit away from me, drop her prize, shake herself off, pause, then turn and bring her triumph over to my feet. Even as she pants, snot running down her chin, right leg shivering from the arthritis and thighs shivering from the wind, she will wait for me to throw it again.

So that is what happened when I shut my laptop on Friday, and that is what I learned about my dog's love for that damn toy. Eventually, the only way to get her to stop trying to get her toy into the water was to put her back on her leash and place a large rock on the other end of it. She still played with the toy, though, trying to bury it in the mud and pine needles.

That is, until I let her off again..

Because, you see, I had had the toy in my hand.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tutorial: Enlarging a Pattern

Over a year ago, I promised a friend of mine I'd make him a rather large Totoro. Me being me, it took me quite a while to actually sit down and fulfill that promise, and when I did, I decided to make my own pattern for these adorable toy. Unwilling to screw up on such a large project, I made a smaller Totoro toy first, and then enlarged the pattern for the final product. This post will show you how I scaled up that little doll.

First thing's first, I traced the smaller pattern's pieces onto parchment paper. I enlarged them one at a time, making sure there was enough room around the tracing for the larger version.

After I traced the smaller pattern, I decided how much bigger I wanted the doll to be. I wanted my larger Totoro to be about 6 inches taller, and proportionally wider, so I traced a new line 3 inches larger from the smaller one in every direction.

After the initial size increase, I went back and corrected the curves and shape based on what issues I saw with the little guy. For example, on the bottom of the doll I only increased his base about 2.5 inches, as I felt that was a better shape, and made him a little bit taller.

I did this for each piece, increasing the size of the original pattern a bit differently for each body part. The arms I widened a bit, but focused on increasing their length instead. The ears I only increased about an inch and the tail got a whole new shape.

When I could, I just focused on getting half of the shape right, as symmetrical pieces could be cut on a fold. Once I was happy with the general size and shape of all the pieces, I cut out my paper patterns.

With my paper patterns all ready, I went to work cutting out the fabric pieces. I laid them out before sewing to double check size...

... then went to town! Jumbo here isn't finished in this picture, and the angle is weird, but I'm pretty happy with my pattern and modifications. Definitely an improvement over lil' Totoro.

I promise, I'm working on a tutorial on how to make your own Totoro, which will come with a free pattern! For both sizes! The assemble instructions for both the lil' guy and big guy are the same, the problem is I did such a poor job of taking pictures of my process. I'll be making a new and improved little Totoro for the tutorial, as soon as I find the time >.<;

Also, enjoy this completely telling picture of my kitchen table. Not seen: giant stack of mail hiding behind the big Totoro.