Frolicking in the Park

Sometimes, it amazes me, the beauty that surrounds us. A few weeks ago, Brian and I took a stroll down the Fox River in Geneva, Illinois with a lovely photographer and her assistant. We had a little picnic, played some games, and frolicked (yes, frolicked) around the playground surrounded by tiny humans. Our photographer captured some of the suburban Chicago beauty of spring, and I’d like to share that with you.

We weren’t planning on having an engagement session, but when I stumbled across a contest (and YOU helped me win 3rd place), we received a complimentary photo shoot with the lovely and talented Joy.

All photos are from Being Joy Photography. If you can’t get enough, you can check out her Chrissy and Brian blog post (and more of our engagement photos).

We began the session with a walk along the river, where we sat on a park bench and told bad jokes while Joy took lovely shots of us in the background.

Engagement photo shoot at a park with cherry blossom trees

Then we got up close and personal with this cherry blossom tree. Because look at it!

beautiful plus size engagement photos

When Joy asked how I felt about laying on the ground, I informed her I’d do whatever she wanted; she was the professional. I was secretly hoping she’d take advantage of this and make me do some crazy incredible feat so that I’d fall down and have some truly epic photos…but she was kind.

beautiful plus size engagement photos in a park

We brought props. All the props. Edible props. Playable props. Toys. Games. You name it. We brought it. Obviously, cheese was the star of the show. But this game, Mice and Mystics, is our game. While it can play up to four players, it’s the game Brian and I play on our at-home date nights. The game plays through an entire campaign, so we’ve been working our way through it slowly. Savoring it, if you will. My favorite part? The currency in the game is CHEESE.

Engagement photo session with cheese and board games

In fact, we had a whole picnic with some of our cough my cough favorite things. Board games. Cheese. Champagne. It was glorious. And fun. I totally ate a ton of cheese that day too.

engagement photo shoot picnic with cheese, champagne, and games in a park

Of course, I won The Game of Life (for the first time ever), and Brian was less than pleased. So he flipped that shit upside down. I tried to explain to him, “BRIAN, I never win this game. Can’t I win just this once?”

engagement photo shoot with the game of life throwing the game in the air

He wasn’t having any of that nonsense. So we walked away. We had a wardrobe change and took some silhouette photos under this super cool archway. My grandpa, the brick layer, would have been proud.

black and white silhouette engagement photo under archway

There’s this really cool looking foot bridge over the Fox River that I really loved photos on, and Joy was happy to oblige. This is one of my favorite photos from the whole shoot.

engagement photo session on a bridge, sitting indian style kissing

Across from the bridge, which is underneath the train bridge, Joy decided she wanted a shot of us in the support dealie (any one have any idea what this is called?). It turned out pretty cool!engagement photo session under a train bridge around the corner from each other

And then we made our way to the playground, where there were dozens of tiny humans running around on the unseasonably warm April day. We had to get creative. Joy seemed to really appreciate our facial expressions. Brian called this my zombie face. He’s not wrong.engagement photo session at a playground on the slide

Maybe one day, I’ll show you all the picture of Brian falling off the swings…but for now, you can see us being all lovey and adorable.

engagement photo session at a playground on the swings

We concluded our photo shoot with a picture of us taking a selfie. Because I’m kind of a selfie queen. It’s a thing.

engagement photo session on a park bench taking a selfie

Did you have an engagement photo session when you got married? If you’re not married yet, do you want an engagement sesh? Can you believe we’re getting married in three and a half months?

No one paid me to write nice things about Joy, but I did win a contest in which the prize was the photo shoot. We paid for all prints and products.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

When it Comes to Brothers, I Sure Lucked Out

Did you know today is National Siblings Day? A mere week after my little brother’s 32nd birthday (it’s currently the very brief two months in which we’re the same age). I may have weird sister drama, but whatever; it doesn’t even matter because I have the best brother on the planet. Seriously. There are SO many reasons I adore my brother. We even have matching tattoos, you guys.

Irish Twin Tattoos

The Irish Claddagh symbolizes friendship, loyalty, and love. Cupla is a Gaelic word used for twins.

My brother, whose name is also Brian (we’ll call him Woj to minimize confusion with my future husband), builds palaces for his pets – his “fur” babies. I use “” because one of them is a hedgehog. Honestly, I don’t know if Biscuit actually qualifies as a fur baby.

Woj and I have shared thousands of tiny and huge moments from wreaking havok on our home turf to tearing it up in New Orleans. He’s been my partner in crime for more than three decades – we even had to sneak INTO our house together in high school. My favorite karaoke buddy, my twin, my friend. And hell if he doesn’t know me better than I know myself, sometimes. I can’t tell you how many times he’s said to me, “Chris, you should watch/try/play/eat/drink/make this.” Ten years ago, I’d have looked at him as if he was insane. In fact, I did. On several occasions. I took the long way around, but as it turns out, he was right the whole time. (Don’t tell him I told you that.)

Things my brother told me to try that eventually made me a better nerd

  • Harry Potter (I can’t even believe I’m admitting this)
  • Firefly (I waited years to actually try it. And really it was on the insistence of my boyfriend that I watch it. And oh man was I hooked)
  • Gamer games (and now I’m WAY more obsessed than he is)
  • GenCon (yeah, he was going to them long before I became an addict)
  • Netflix (yes, you guys. My beloved one and only Netflix, without which I might not be obsessed with Gilmore Girls, New Girl, or The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
  • X-Men (I remember a time in my life I thought my brother was crazy for loving Wolverine so hard. And then Marvel introduced me to Hugh Jackman)

Recently, Brian asked me, “What else did your brother tell you you’d love and you didn’t listen to him about?”

Me: World of War Craft

Brian: Don’t do that. You’ll get addicted.

Me: YuGiOh

Brian: …

Me: Magic the Gathering. But I know I’d like that.

Brian: Yeah, but those are both collectible card games, you have a problem with collecting things. So, uh…try to stay away from those.

We’ll see, Brian. We’ll see.

What awesome things in your life can you thank a sibling (or a bestie, if you have no sibling — or if you have sibling drama) for? 

This post is brought to you by my favorite media streaming company, Netflix (Thanks for the intro, Woj!). As a member of the Stream Team, I received a complimentary year of streaming and a device on which to binge watch shows like Firefly and Kimmy Schmidt (who returns this week!). As always, these opinions are my own, and I would totally still have Netflix even if they weren’t so darn good to me. 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Quirky, Useful and Fun Gift Options for Everyone on Your List

I love giving gifts. Wrapping gifts in my super messy holiday workshop. Making it completely impossible to detect the contents of a package. The joy and delight when my boyfriend opens up a super special and romantic gift from yours truly. I can’t wait for Christmas to be here already!

While we’re waiting though, I can go ahead and assume that you failed on your resolution to be done shopping before Black Friday, amiright?

Good; me too.

The gift guide for everyone on your list

Some links used in this post are affiliate links and I’ll make a small percentage of dollars from any purchases you make. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve tested and tried all of these items on my own (many thanks to the kindness of generous sponsors) with the exception of the Harry Potter blanket and Alice in Wonderland purse. I hope you enjoy this year’s gift guide!

Luckily for you, I’ve put together the only gift guide for adults that you need this year. From stocking stuffers and toys for the children at heart to small kitchen appliances that girls like me dream about and everything in between, I’ve got you covered. Of course, if you’re not partial to this year’s list, feel free to check out the fantastic items I scavenged for last year’s gift guide or my wish list from a few years ago.

Stocking stuffers I can’t get enough of

X-Cube

The X-Cube is this year's it puzzle for stocking stuffers. Give them the gift of strategy and mind teasers with this tough cookie.

The X-Cube is this year’s it puzzle for stocking stuffers. Give them the gift of strategy and mind teasers with this tough cookie.

I freakin’ love puzzles. When we go to Gen Con, one of my big events is the giant puzzle quest (which is actually how I get to go to Gen Con next year for free!). I love puzzles in all their forms. Words. Tangible. Jigsaw. There’s this amazing puzzle cube extreme called the X-Cube. It’s like Rubik’s Cube on crack. In the best way possible. Want to spend hours trying to solve this thing? Give it to a kid, and you’ll be begging to play too. I am obsessed with this thing. Seriously. Everyone’s getting one in their stockings. Christmas Eve with the kids will be puzzlemania.

Card games

I always like to fill stockings with fun games that are super transportable. There are plenty of awesome card games you can stuff in everyone’s stockings whether you’re going for a traditional and simple game of Uno or looking for something a little more interesting like Cover Your A$$ets or Skull King. For the most adorable card games ever, try these tiny little gum pack games that are so small they fit in a pocket.

Gifts for the Danny Tanner (or you know…like a college student or something) in Your Life

Shark Rocket ® Powerhead

Okay, so Brian is no Danny Tanner, but he’s more than willing to pick up a broom or vacuum and dominate our floors. I named our Shark Rocket ® Powerhead vacuum Jaws. Get it? Shark. Jaws. Har har har. Anyways…

If you’re not afraid the wife/mom/daughter is going to swat you for wrapping an appliance this Christmas or if your boyfriend/hubs/college age son is in need of a practical gift, this one’s it. My mom got me a vacuum for Christmas one year. It was awesome. It was purple. It was her hint that I needed to move out of her house and into my own place. Which I did. 7 years later with Brian. Who HATED my purple vacuum. So my friends at Shark hooked me up with my very own Shark vacuum (in exchange for my honest opinion) so my boyfriend would stop complaining about the girly, useless vacuum we used to own. So yes, Virginia, you can gift a vacuum for Christmas.

Give the Danny Tanner in your life a Shark Rocket Powerhead for Christmas

We have carpet, tile and hardwood floors to clean. And this vacuum knocks it all out of the park with a sweet design that’s made to adjust for your height and preferences. We can peel right through the fancy dining room floor, kitchen floor, and carpet in one full swoop. It also has fancy engineering that combines the motor and dust cup in the head of the vacuum, reducing airflow path and maximizing efficiency and power. The thing about this awesome vacuum, is that if I need to bust out and get down and dirty with the cleaning, this puppy is only 9 lbs. One of my biggest reasons for not being a huge fan of vacuuming is the weight of a vacuum when I have to move it around. That feeling is just not awesome. But the Shark is that awesome. Brian is convinced this machine will help me get over my fear of vacuuming.  Until then, he’s been enjoying Jaws, and I think anyone on your list who needs a vacuum will too.

Gifts for Foodies

Nutri Ninja® Auto-IQ™ Pro Compact System

Never in a million years did I expect to say that I drink and like a good kale smoothie, and yet, here we are. I drink and like a good kale smoothie. From my Nutri Ninja with the extra smooth boost. A little pineapple, a little kale, a little apple or pear…delicious. No joke. The Nutri Ninja is magical. Brian loves using it to make homemade salsa. I used it to chop veggies for my Halloween chili (and NO ONE knew that there were 10x more vegetables than meat in the chili).

I made a Kale Smoothie with my Nutri Ninja using kale, pineapple slices, and pears.

You can also mix cookie dough and other batters in this beautiful blender of multitasking joy. I even made funky pumpkin spice banana pancake batter (like all-banana-and-egg, no-flour pancakes) in it once (and let’s be honest, probably never again. Banana pancakes are not good, you guys, no matter what Sarah Michelle Gellar says).

I make green smoothies in my Nutri Ninja and love them!

My friends at Ninja thought I would appreciate one of these little machines, and boy oh boy were there right! I bought a Cosco-size bag of kale for crying out loud! It blends nuts, seeds, and all sorts of other goodies that go in my smoothies. I’m going to be healthy if it kills me. But it won’t. Obviously.

Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker

You guys, I am in absolute heaven.  I won one of these puppies at BlogHerFood a few weeks ago, and have been making nonstop sandwich experiments to really work this thing to the core. I haven’t cooked myself breakfast this frequently since I was unemployed…oh…wait…I spent two weeks without a job…making breakfast sandwiches in my breakfast sandwich maker. You can make other stuff too! I rocked out some afternoon sammies as well. Grilled cheese anyone?

Make your own Egg McMuffins with the Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker

I was originally skeptical. Really? My raw egg and cheese and bread and stuff just go in there like no big deal? Yeah. Right. But they do. They actually do. The egg cooks as much as you want it to. The well is deep enough that the cheese doesn’t touch or stick to the slidey part. It works so so so well. Aaaaaaaaaaaanyways, this magical little beasty is inexpensive, easy to clean and (wait for it) easy to store. For someone with as many small kitchen appliances as I have, counter space can seem daunting. This little sammy maker stores easily in my cabinets. This little guy is sure to be the bright light on Christmas morning for everyone (and every morning after that too!). If you want a double whammy, you can even get a two-sammy maker.

Tech accessories that make my life easier

iMagnetMount

Brian has been begging to find something to hold his phone in the Jolly Roger (our new vehicle). He likes to watch the GPS map when he’s driving so he knows where he’s going. Especially since I’m not very helpful when I’m all “Drive on, Jeeves” or worse, when I’m backseat driving from shotgun. He really hates that. I’m really good at it. Anyways…iMagnetMount offered to send me one to try and I was all, oh sure! Brian could use something like that. And guess who also loves it? Right. Me. The Jolly Roger is super fancy and has bluetooth connections and so I just keep my phone up there, and I’m all like, “OK Google, call Brian” And then Google is like, “Call Ryan?” And I’m like oh dear god no! Google. Pay attention. CALL BRIAN [LAST NAME REDACTED UNTIL BRIAN MARRIES ME]. And it works. All you have to do is put the phone-safe magnet between your phone and its case, and attach the mount to the car, and boom! Magnety sticky goodness. Just make sure you stick the mount on a CLEAN spot of your car. Dust and mount are not friends.

Winter Ice Welcome Box

Mighty Lifesaving Gifts for Clumsy Klutzes

Mighty Mug

The Mighty Mug is a serious lifesaver when you spill a lot like I do.

Okay, so it took me a hot minute to figure out how to make this work. Then I watched some YouTube videos of other people doing it and everything made sense. This magic mug (designed to NOT tip over when it’s full of liquid) protects me from myself. As you may well know, I spill things on myself, the floor, and other people with some frequency, and when I use my Mighty Mug, I’m spill free as I was meant to be. Mighty Mug sent me a mug to share with you because they knew I was a total klutz, and they thought I could use one of these. They were completely right. Skeptical as I may have been…they nailed it.

Speck Mightyshell + Faceplate

My Speck case helps keep my phone safe even in the bathroom when I'm taking Skinny Mirror Selfies and drop the phone twice because I'm so distracted...not that I did that or anything...

My Speck case helps keep my phone safe even in the bathroom when I’m taking Skinny Mirror Selfies and drop the phone twice because I’m so easily distracted…not that I did that or anything…

Okay, I know I mentioned Speck in last year’s holiday gift guide, but you guys, SERIOUSLY, I can’t tell you how many times my Mightyshell Speck case has saved me from having to buy a new phone. When I birthday gifted myself with a new Galaxy S6, my friends over at Speck hooked me up with a pretty pink industrial case and faceplate designed to withstand every test I could put it through. And believe me, I have tested its limits. I’ve dropped it, thrown it, stepped on it, sat on it…and the phone’s still kickin’ as if I had just purchased it. Everyone in your life needs one of these cases. I’ve been tempted to drop my phone from our indoor Juliet window as a test because I have so much faith in this thing, but Brian keeps telling me it’s a bad idea.

Gifts for kids from aunties (and uncles) who love them

I don’t have my own tiny humans, but my godson has said, “Auntie Chrissy gives the BEST presents.”

I chalk it up to the DINK phenomenon (double income no kids) and the fact that the toys live at their parents’ house and not my house…The louder the better, amiright? I realize that this will result in payback a few years down the road, but until the then… the louder the better.

Of course, not everything has to be loud. Sometimes, it’s just plain fun.

Versa Bricks (and Legos and K’Nex and Hot Wheels)

My godson is a die-hard Legoian. If that’s not a word, I just made it up and it’s totally a thing. But like, the kid seriously has so many freakin’ Legos, I don’t know what to get him anymore. Last year, I got him Brickstuff –  these amazing lights that go inside his Legos to light them up. This year, it’s Versa Bricks (thanks to my friends at Versa Bricks who offered  a set for my godson to try out and play with!) and some new add-ons that I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have. Hot Wheels and K’nex. The Versa Bricks make it possible to connect all three of these beloved kids’ toys and create and combine whole new worlds. He’s going to freakin’ love it. And I’m the aunt that wins all the love.

Board games

If you’re like me and training your nieces and nephews to be the ultimate gamer nerds, get them sweet gamer games for kids, like this one I got for my godson a few years ago, Catan Junior. If you’ve played Settlers of Catan, this game is the “junior” version, but it’s no Monopoly Junior. It’s a pretty solid beginner gamer game (and one that parents will actually enjoy too. See, I’m not all bad, parents!).

Barbie

This may set all the feminists out there ablaze, but I’m not going to lie, I’m still down with Barbie. When my cousin told me her daughter was finally getting into Barbie, I went out and bought a bazillion dolls like this windsurfing Barbie. Christmas done. I loved Barbie when I was a kid, and I still have my dolls for my future tiny humans. I remember playing with my friend’s mom’s dolls as a kid and it was awesome. So yes, Barbie for everyone!

And finally, gifts for the children at heart

I’m like a perptual 9-year-old girl. I want toys and games and nerdy book things. My assumption is that most adults do too. So this is what I’m proposing we give each other for Christmas.

Harry Potter blankies

This is the COOLEST blanket I’ve ever seen. Seriously. It’s the freakin’ Maurauder’s Map in blanket form. If you’re a Potterphile, you need this in your life. And then you need to watch and read all the movies and books again while wrapped up in your cozy blanky.

Alice in Wonderland purse

A BOOK purse, you guys. A purse that looks like a book! This Alice in Wonderland bag is seriously magical. You are welcome for this sweet find, people.

WHEW! That was exhausting! I hope you enjoyed my little blurbs and that maybe you found something unique or useful for someone special in your life. In honor of the holidays, I’m giving away another Swag Bag of goodies for you this holiday season! While I haven’t pieced it together yet, the value will likely be well over $50. To enter, just fill out the giveaway form below!
 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Things I Did Last Night Instead of Writing

Last night, we arrived home late from our adventures in Indiana, where we played games late into the night, ran into the people we knew with more regularity than one would expect at a convention of more than 60,000 people, and did not run into Wil Wheaton. Again.

I can’t tell you quite how many times I bumped walked into people, displays, or walls because the tally was relatively high this year, but I did get hit on by the early twenties-ish guy that sells nerd robes and dresses (girls are in short supply at these things). I  also had the pleasure of lunching with the lovely Chris Dean yesterday, who made the trek to hang with us!

I was able to have lunch with Chris Dean of pixiecd while we were in Indy!

I had planned to get home, go to a party, and then come home and write. There’s something to be said about the best laid plans…

We got home a bit later than expected as I managed to win a badge for next year’s GenCon (my lucky streak has lasted most of the summer…I’m thinking I should buy a lottery ticket or head to the race track or something) and had to buy just one last game before we left…I’m  not going to lie, seeing people with huge stacks of games made me jealous as fuck, even though our stack was no small potatoes…

We picked up a few new games to add to our collection from GenCon this weekend.

This year’s spoils. Some free stuff, some cheap stuff, some AWESOME stuff.

And so we were too late to get to the party on time. I thought, Okay…I’ll pop the games, and then do a little writing. And Brian thought, okay…I’ll just do a little napping, and then eat some food. But before his nap he went to the basement to turn the water heater off vacation mode. And this is when our evening plans changed.

Uhh…Chrissy? We have a problem.

I’d heard this tone before…

And I started thinking of house emergencies we’ve had since purchasing the house, like the time the humidifier flooded our basement just a couple of weeks after moving into the house. Or the time our roof leaked into our master bathroom. Or the time water seeped into the basement. Homeownership. Ain’t it grand?

Like deja vu, we discovered that our air conditioner was leaking around the furnace area, which was exactly what happened when the humidifier flooded. Something was clogged and the water in the PVC pipe was producing a stead stream on the floor…where all my seashells, sand dollars, starfish, and urchin were collecting dust.

Now, I realize that I should have boxed that shit up months ago…but they were out of the way enough that they weren’t really bothering us…and so they ere soaked. All the time I had spent cleaning them and alcoholing them and drying them was wasted, as a light odor of dead seastuff wafted through the basement.

How to Temporarily Fix a Leaking Air Conditioner

After arriving at the house from a long weekend out of town, we came home to a leaking air conditioner and a flooded basement. This was our quick fix so we could turn the a/c back on and sleep at night.

 

 

Please note, I am NOT a professional. I’m an impatient humorist and an improvisor who believes that first world problems require immediate solutions…and this is just what we did so we could sleep without the humidity and allergens from the outside world suffocating us. We plan on actually fixing the problem this week.

Step 1. Turn off A/C.

Step 2. Let your boyfriend mop the floor because you really hate cleaning.

Step 3. Lay seashells in the large aluminium pans typically reserved for cooking gigantic feasts and spilling turkey grease all over new shirts.

Step 4. Decide on a quick fix so we don’t end up sleeping in the basement for the cool air.

Step 5. Head to Home Depot before they close(we had about a half hour window) and pick up a plumber’s snake(my question to Brian:
“Will this also pull my hair our of the shower drain?”
“Yep.”
“Get the long one.”), tubing, and duct tape (this is not to say that we didn’t alread have duct tape in our house…I just didn’t want to waste my mac and cheese Duck Tape on boring plumbing stuff).

Step 6. Decide cooking and eating in an unair-conditioned house would be a bad idea, and sit down in Qdoba instead.

Step 7. Return home and replace tiny plastic tube leading from air conditioner to PVC pipe with long tubes duct taped together that deposits trickles of water directly into drain and tape that shut to the wall.

Step 8. Turn A/C back on.
Step 9. Let your boyfriend finish mopping the floor.

Step 10. Use plumber’s snake to discover clogging PVC pipe.

Step 11. Check tubing before bed and upon waking up.

I finished the night by popping all 20 games and promos that we acquired this weekend, because nothing is more exciting than the smell of a freshly popped and organized game.

What house emergencies have you dealt with? How would you handle a major problem when your brain is fried from four days of intense usage(on our case, gaming)?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

3 Backstabbing Games You Need to Play

Today is a glorious day my friends!

It’s International Tabletop Day! Brian and I shall celebrate by gathering with some of our board gaming buddies and playing copious amounts of games while snacking and boozing. Life is good today. In honor of this beautiful nerdy-as-fuck holiday started by one of our favorites, Wil Wheaton, and crew (Geek & Sundry, y’all), I thought I would share with you some games that you may not know exist. But should. Because holy hell are they fucking awesome. Also, these games are not for the weak at heart. These games are specifically chosen because they involve a lot of yelling. Screaming. Fuck-your-mother-ing. But I’ve played all these games with my mother. So there’s that.

Basically?

You’re welcome.

We're having a super sale in this shop!

Trailer Park Wars

When introducing non-gamers into the world of serious gaming, I used to use The Settlers of Catan as a gateway game. I like to think of it as Monopoly meets serious gamer. But then I discovered Trailer Park Wars. And oh shit you guys. This game is fucking hilarious. And ridiculous. And SUPER easy. The concept is simple, build a trailer park with trailer cards, amenities, and residents. Each amenity and resident offers benefits and (most importantly victory points). While you’re building your own park, your opponents are doing the same…but you’re also trying to destroy one another’s parks. With cards that send tornadoes through your neighboring park’s trailers, infestations and romances, you can kill, steal or move trailers, people and amenities. Flamingos flank your playing area as the victory points. Hillbilly accents and names are highly recommended. (One day, I’ll introduce you to my alter-ego Gina May). My PARENTS think it’s hysterical. My friends love playing. If you’re into horror flicks, you can also add the expansion, Trailer Park Wars: Terror in the Trailer which gives you more cards and more ways to screw your neighbor.

Trailer Park Wars

This was after I spilled that poor bottle of wine…

 

 One Night Ultimate Werewolf

Did you ever play MAFIA or WEREWOLF at Denny’s on school nights? No? Just me? Okay,  well, this is the ultimate lying and deduction game. There’s a werewolf (or a few werewolves) in the town, and the villagers are ready to hunt this shit down. Except that no one knows who’s a villager and who’s a werewolf. Each person receives a card revealing their identity, but no one knows what anyone else’s card says. The first phase of the game allows some people (werewolves and villagers) to do things in secret while everyone’s eyes are closed (there’s an app that tells you when you can do your thing!). Some people can look at other cards. Some people can look at each other. Some people can even move cards around. Then you open your eyes and the clock starts. You have to decide who the werewolf is and kill them. If you’re a werewolf, you want people to kill a villager by mistake. There’s a lot of yelling. And lying. And “YOU’RE THE WEREWOLF!!!!!” It’s pretty much amazing. This one’s a favorite in our gaming group, but I also got my parents and aunt & uncle to play on Saint Patrick’s Day. My mom was laughing so hard it hurt (probably because she’s a TERRIBLE liar). She’s still on the fence on this one. Oh yeah, this one ALSO has an expansion, which they Kickstarted last year: Daybreak. The expansion adds MORE characters. Additional features. Overall more stuff. Perfect for completionists like me (at least that’s what Brian says, anyways).

Ca$h N Guns

This one is equally as fantastic. You’re a band of thieves. You work together to rob a bank, but now what? Oh, right. You take out the competition. Each person has 3 bullets (Bang! cards) and 5 blanks (Click cards). You choose your weapon card, and on three, everyone points their foam gun (did I mention there are foam guns?) at someone else. At this point, depending on how many guns are pointed at you, you can choose to go forward for the loot (BONZAI!) or chicken out (put your gun down, homie). Those who chickened out and those who are shot, are out of the running for the loot. Everyone else divides the pot between themselves. At the end of 8 turns, the most money wins the game. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend playing with people you don’t mind stabbing in the back. I felt REALLY bad for my friend Beth’s boyfriend (and Brian), because of five of us, they were the two that I felt comfortable destroying. I made the mistake of going for Cletus once, and he wrecked me right back. So the other two guys it was.

What are some of your favorite board games? How will you celebrate International Tabletop Day? What’s the best lying, cheating, backstabbing, screw your neighbor game you’ve ever played?

No one paid me to talk about these games, but links in this post will direct you to Amazon. If you make a purchase, I may receive a teeny tiny commission. Which is awesome. So thank you.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

I’m Not Going to Lie…I Throw a Killer Party

So I know I promised months ago that I’d tell you about our housewarming party, but then LIFE happened…and the housewarming party came and went…and definitely got put on the back burner. But here it is in all it’s gaming glory.

I wanted to throw a game-themed party. And actually I wanted to get crazy into it with a different game theme in every room and people playing games everywhere. I had HUGE plans. I was going to set up a whole CLUE scenario. I was going to have little Jenga pieces for everyone to put house tips on. I was going to make cute little favors for everyone. But, as many of you already know…shit doesn’t happen the way we plan it. We closed on our house on October 15. We moved on October 25. And we threw the housewarming party on November 15. We’re lucky the house was clean and there was food to eat.

Throw an awesome housewarming party

Part of the quick turnaround was because I NEEDED to have an organized, put-together house in order to survive. I would have gone bonkers if we were living amidst boxes and bags that hadn’t been opened and organized. (There are still a few of those, but not many…and none of mine). Part of the quick turnaround was the timing. If it was around Christmastime, I would have had to have Christmas up and running perfectly…and then we were hosting Christmas dinner and it would have been a disaster of too many parties in quick succession. If it were after Christmastime…well let’s just say we’re still recovering and Christmas is still lingering in unseen areas of our home.

ANYWAYS. So we threw a party. Pretty quickly. And had about 65 people show up throughout the day (while expecting about 35-40!). We opened our house up to guests from noon until whenever (which ended up being around midnight), and ran ourselves ragged with tours and food replenishing and beverage duty. We had some wins and we had some fails, but all in all it was a total success.

While no one really played games, the theme was pretty evident throughout the house.

How to throw a game-themed housewarming party (without killing yourself or your partner)

Decor

Set up an AWESOME food display in an open area, where people can grab food, mill around and start one of the bazillion tours you’re about to give.If you don’t have a lot of decorations elsewhere, that’s okay (YOUR NEW HOUSE is the decoration that everyone’s dying to see). I was a caterer in another life, so the buffet set up can be super baller if you know how to use levels and fluff the hell out of tablecloths or fabric. (I use milk crates and similar containers to create my levels). Because I have so many Scrabble boards and pieces from my wanna-be-a-crafter box (and that one time I made Scrabble Christmas ornaments for everyone), I thought that using them on my buffet would be a hit! I labeled all the food with tiles (and even used the board to get all the ingredients for my Blue Cheese and Date Spread on Endive. I also pulled a few more game boards and pieces for good measure, adding just the right amount of nerdy gameyness.

Setting up buffet tables is one of my special skills. I used to be a catering manager so this sort of thing really tickles my jollies.

Setting up buffet tables is one of my special skills. I used to be a catering manager so this sort of thing really tickles my jollies.

dice and trvial pursuit

Food

Choose food that is SUPER easy to make and replenish. I’m a big fan of Crock Pot apps and snacks, so I went with BBQ weenies and buffalo chicken dip. I actually had another Crock Pot in the kitchen with more buffalo chicken dip for easy replenishment. My mom made several deli platters for sandwiches and it was cold enough that we could keep the reserves outside.Obviously there was a cheese platter. I like to to a lot of fan faves and choose one crazy concoction that I hope works out (that would be the blue cheese and date spread – which worked out). I made ALL of the food the night before, so the day of I could focus on the insanity of hiding all our crap in boxes and corners and shit.

BBQ weenies

Note the chess pieces, trivial pursuit cards and scrabble tiles for a mix of beloved classics

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Gratuitous cheese photo

Gratuitous cheese photo. Please note. I spelled cheese wring and am completely ashamed of myself. But don’t you love the risk board below?

Dessert

I REALLY wanted to make domino brownies. And I REALLY didn’t want to do a lot of baking. So I baked chocolate chip cookie bars and gluten-free brownies (both from mixes, homies) and picked up a giant brownie cake thing from Sam’s Club. I sliced the brownie in Domino-size pieces and dotted them with frosting. And it fucking worked.

Domino Brownies

I seriously thought these were going to be a huge Pinterest fail. And then they turned out alright.

mint chocolate chip cookie barsDrinks

We had wine galore. We had beer. We had the soda stream. We had two Keurigs. And we had some epic fails in forgetting to get bottled water and cans of pop. Not realizing just how many people would come, we thought that we’d be fine with soda stream and filtered water from the fridge… Go buy cans of pop and bottled water. Save yourself. Seriously.

Oh. And get these shots – which were a HUGE hit.

Twisted Shots Twisted ShotsPlaying HostessI discovered Twisted Shots while at BlogHer in San Jose last summer. They actually sent me a lovely little box of these delicious treats for my housewarming party! After 7, I figured it was time to get the party going (and most of the touring had ended), so I brought out the shots. I played server and convinced almost everyone to try a shot or two. With flavors like Sex on the Beach, Buttery Nipple and Porn Star, you know you’ve got a good thing going. Almost everyone was down with these sugary sweet twisted shots full of colorful booze that tasted mostly like candy. Even my whiskey-loving friends found a few shots that were right up their alleys.

Tours

Plan on basically spending the majority of the time touring and put someone else in charge of food and beverages once the party starts. Even if there are two of you, you’ll be switching off with the tours on a pretty serious cadence…and I think there were a few moments when we ran out of food. But I don’t know for sure because I was racing all over and mingling and busy and reveling and all of the things! (Yes, that sentence is supposed to give you anxiety.)

In the end, though, all you really want is for the people you love to come over and eat your food, drink your booze, and tell you that your house is pretty. And that’s what happened. I heard all sorts of positive things in regards to our first event in the new place (and then we hosted Second Thanksgiving…and then we hosted Christmas. So there was that.)

Blog friends, tell me about your party throwing experiences? What have you learned? What have you done well? What would you have done for a game-themed party?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Weird Habits I Can’t Break

I’m a little crazy, ya know? I mean, it’s not like I’m Glenn Close crazy (anymore) or Scarecrow crazy (yet)…just my own personal brand of crazy. And I have these habits, right? And if you noticed them or had to understand/deal with them, you might think I’m just a little on the crazy side. Or if you’re Brian, you think I’m adorable. One of those. These are just a few of my little OCD tendencies/habits.

- Top Ten Tuesday -

  • I have to bag my own groceries. In my own way. Because it makes sense to me. And baggers/clerks be damned if they won’t let me do their job for them.
  • I have to sit facing the direction that the train is heading AND facing the center vestibule.

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  • Quite frankly, I prefer to sit in the exact seat that I’m sitting in above (the outer side of the front-facing seat in the four-seater) in the 3rd car from the back inbound and first car outbound. I’m all about efficiency.
  • I count stairs. When I walk up or down (but especially down) a flight of stairs, I need to count them. In sets of 8 or 16, preferably. Partially because I’m afraid I’ll fall down (which I have) & partially because I’m afraid I’ll miss the last step (which I have).
  • Once I’ve learned how to do something, it has to be done exactly that way forever. Unless I come up with a more efficient system. Or someone else teaches me a new way that’s more efficient or fun. Efficiency, y’all.
  • I dry myself off in the exact same pattern after a shower or bath, and a bathtub without one of those sliding glass doors makes it so much easier. First I dry my face, then arms (right first), hair, front, back…then I put my left leg on the side of the tub, dry that off. Step out with left leg, right leg on the tub and dry that off, then step out. And I’ve been following this pattern as long as I can remember.

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  • I have a thing with presentation and displays. I stacked my fancy game shelf (the less-fancy games are on shelves in the basement) like a fucking game store. As all game shelves should be stacked.
Game shelf

A thing of beauty…

I had to crowd source the rest because I’m writing this on the train. LUCKILY, Brian was pretty quick on the draw… these are the crazies according to him:

Screenshot_2015-02-17-08-19-53

  • Replying to every blog comment. He sees me glued to my phone, or saying from my computer, “I’ll be there in ONE minute…I just need to reply to this comment.” What he doesn’t see is that I’m sometimes days late or I miss a comment completely.
  • I put all the game pieces back in the same spot according to my system. I don’t think he  understands that this doesn’t make me crazy…it’s the only way the boxes close properly.
Lords of Waterdeep organized box

There are no game boxes that make me happier than the ones that have a place for everything so everything goes in it’s place

  • Collecting all the shells…okay…maybe I do go a smidge overboard. I pack an empty suitcase to bring shells home from Florida…and I have boxes and boxes of shells. Organized by type…
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Some of the shells from this year’s Floridadventure.

What crazy/weird habits do you have? What crazy habits would your partner/best friend say you have?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

PlayCHIC A Night of Play and Fashion That Took Over Chicago

The stunningly beautiful Alhambra Palace in Chicago set the scene for an exotic night of play and fashion, as the third annual PlayCHIC commenced last Thursday night. The sponsors, ever-present Mayfair Games, Rainbow Loom, Women in Toys and Celebrity Name Game set in motion one of the most entertaining fashion shows I’ve ever been to…okay fine. All the fashion shows I’ve been to have been PlayCHIC. One of my favorite annual events.

PlayCHIC 2014

 

 

Michelle Tan – Mayfair Games Villainy

Michelle Tan has been designing the Mayfair styles since PlayCHIC’s inception three years ago, and with Villainy, she really made a splash. Her creations are whimsical, wicked and wonderful and looked great on both the lady and dude models.

Mayfair Games Michelle Tan

On another Mayfair Games note, I got to take a selfie with Mayfair president, Larry Roznai, who was a really cool dude to chat with.

 

Elda Delarosa – Celebrity Name Game

The elegant designs by Elda Delarosa were the start of this celeb-adorned gown. I’m not going to lie, this was probably my least favorite of the designs. It felt uninspired, as if the game was merely sewn onto the dress. I’m no designer, but I like to think that there are other ways to incorporate themes into clothing than sewing photographs to a dress. Sorry guys, you lost me on this one.

Elda Delarosa Celebrity Name Game

Peach Carr – Rainbow Loom

Made with the actual toy, this  Peach Carr original represents Rainbow Loom with a fun two-piece set. The creator of Rainbow Loom was even there wearing the jacket that Jimmy Kimmel wore! Brian would have been impressed. Probably.  My favorite part? The Rainbow Loom poodle. Who wants to make me one of those?

Rainbow Loom - Peach Carr Rainbow Loom

Gibeon Tolbert – Women in Toys

Representing a fantastic group in the toy and game industry, Gibeon Tolbert’s power suit represents everything I want to be in this world. Pink, powerful, stylish and fun. I seriously LOVED this design. Which shouldn’t be a surprise. If we all remember from PlayCHIC 2012, he created my favorite design, the Word Winder tie.

Gibeon Tolbert Women in Toys

 Which design is your favorite? What games or toys would you like to see mashed with fashion?

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

A Conversation About Fairies

Brian: If I were to create a D&D character for you, what would you want to be?
Me: Do you just want to create more characters?
Brian: No, we’re going to play.
Me: Umm…what are my options?
Brian lists a bunch of general things like controllers, defenders, strikers…and explains them
Me: Can I be a fairy?
Brian: Umm, you could be a gnome.
Me: That’s not a fairy.
Brian: They’re fae.
Me: But gnomes live in trees and fairies have wings.
Brian: You could be x,y, or z.
Me: Can I see pictures?
Brian pulls up pictures.
Brian: These are gnomes.
Me: Where are their hats?
Brian: They’re not garden gnomes.
Me: But David the Gnome wears a pointy hat.
Brian: Not. That. Kind. Of. Gnome.
Brian runs through a few of the pictures, explaining the characters.
Me: Okay, I’ll be a fancy elf.
Brian: Eladrin.
Me: Yeah, that.

Did you ever play D&D? (Dungeons and Dragons in case you didn’t know). Would you?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Chicago Toy and Game Week 2013 in Pictures – What a Whirlwind!

Here’s a little bit of the joy I’ve experienced this week.

Play is Magic

PlayCHIC

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TAGIE Awards

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ChiTAG Fair

wpid-IMG_20131124_124234.jpg wpid-IMG_20131123_101231.jpg wpid-IMG_20131123_093156.jpg wpid-IMG_20131123_085825.jpgWere you there? Do you wish you were there? I had an amazing but CRAZY week.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!