Author: stargrace (Page 10 of 320)

Diving into Divinity Original Sin 2

I own the original game but I never actually completed it because I ended up getting to a point I just found too frustrating. Plus I almost never (ever) finish a game. Why stop now!

I noticed a few days ago a lot of my friends were picking up the game, and I started hearing trickles of talk about what a good RPG game it was and how the story was fantastic. Then @scopique stumbled into the fact that there’s a GM mode, something I had not heard from ANYONE so far. Well now. That’s something pretty unique and awesome. He has a much better write up about it here, so I won’t go into a lot of details, but I do highly suggest you watch his video and also check out the amazing Matt Mercer video (he has a link of that, too). Fascinating stuff.

I was going to hold off buying it until I had a bit of extra cash in the budget or until it went on sale, whichever came first – but my significant other ended up buying it as a surprise for me (along with STEINS; GATE which I’ll get into later)! It took a bit to download (it’s not a small game) and I debated adding mods right from the start but decided to hold off for now and go with the vanilla experience.

When you start up the game there’s a bunch of different ways to play listed. GM mode is pretty self explanatory but since I had never really played before I had no idea what the difference was between “explore” and “classic”. I ended up going with the classic experience, at least for now.

Without giving any of the story away (which is fantastic, by the way) you create a character and find yourself shackled on a ship headed some place to do something! Your character has a ton of RPG replies for those around them and the voice acting is absolutely superb. I’m not that far in yet because I keep getting distracted by items I can take. Kitchen pot? Sure why not grab that. Laboratory equipment? Sure, I may need that. Rotten stuff from the floor? Why not.

Oh and my character does have the corpse eating trait. Why not. I ended up rolling with one of the pre-created characters until I got a better grasp of things.

Have you picked up the game? Curious but waiting? Love it so much you haven’t stopped playing? Let me know in comments and as always, happy gaming, no matter where you find yourself!

Knitting / Crochet Goals for… 2018?

I like goals, and I like lists. There are lots of crafty projects I wish I could do that I haven’t mastered the skills for yet. In case you’ve forgotten, I’m completely self taught when it comes to both knitting and crochet. I’ve been knitting for two years this September, and crocheting off and on for a number of years. I find crochet very difficult, knitting was much easier to pick up. As such I’ve included a list of ‘goals’ that I’d like to accomplish when it comes to my two crafting passions for 2018. Hopefully I get a few of them done, but we’ll just have to see.

  • Two sided knitting. Oy. How many tries have I given this one now? How many failed attempts? My brain just can’t seem to wrap itself around this form of knitting. It’s a shame too, because it’s absolutely beautiful and I have the yarn for a magnificently geeky blanket if I could ONLY double knit. I want to learn this more than anything else. Practice, practice, practice and then practice some more.
  • Crochet more than single crochet. I can do granny squares (I did make a granny square blanket after all) and I can do simple single crochet, but that is as far as my crochet skills go. I don’t seem to be able to keep track of half double crochet, or triple crochet, or any of that. I get a few rounds in and then my mind goes blank and I end up reverting back to single crochet. Every time. I want to learn the more complicated stitches.
  • Crochet more amigurumi. Pictured above is my small collection (minus my octopus which is on my desk living happily). The “teddy bear from hell” is a very failed experiment when I was first getting started but I still love it. Norbert the unicorn is my pride and joy, and I’d really like to attempt more cute little guys to add to my collection.
  • Fix my first ever knit socks. This is just a matter of finding the socks, and finding the time. I knit them before I knew how to do the kitchener stitch and the toes are completely wonky to the point of being uncomfortable. I’d like to rip back the toes, re-stitch them and close them up properly. If I can remember where they are. Maybe in my yarn bin…
  • Fix my first ever knit shirt. I love the shirt, it fits, and it’s lovely except for one major issue. I used a non-stretchy bind off, which means that there’s no give when you try to wear it around your waist or when you put it on or take it off. Having some give is absolutely essential otherwise you’re just wearing a tight piece of yarn around your hips. I need to first make sure I have some spare yarn, then remove the current bind off (just a regular plain one) and find and learn a stretchy bind off. Once that’s done I’ll have a new shirt I can wear. Again this one comes down to time.

Those are the main goals I’d like to accomplish – and I think it’s a pretty reasonable list. We’ll just have to see how it goes. Do you have any crafty goals you’re working towards? Let me know in comments! Tomorrow we’ll have a regularly schedule gaming post.

Sunday: Meals of the Week Post

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The meals from last week were a huge hit. I didn’t get bored of the meatloaf / stuffing for dinner, and I didn’t get bored of the corn quesadillas. One thing I did add was pickled red onion. I am pretty sure I could eat that stuff on everything, and it’s incredibly easy to make.

This week I’m opting for simple flavours again. Chicken is on sale (two whole chickens for $15, normally you get one for $10-$15) and shrimp is on sale. I still have ground beef frozen since I only used half of it for my meatloaf, but I’m thinking that might get turned into a burger later on, or maybe chili. Anyway. This weeks meals –

Blackened shrimp tacos with a lime slaw

Quinoa fried rice: this recipe was adapted from the myfitnesspal blog.

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken thighs, cooked, shredded
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 large eggs, whisked
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 diced small white onion
  • 1 cup sliced carrots (thin)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fine chopped fresh ginger
  • sriracha to taste

Directions

  • Cook quinoa according to package instructions (I cooked mine in a rice cooker with a cup of water, and I also used ancient grains instead of regular. It has a really nutty flavour).
  • Scramble eggs in a non-stick pan over low heat. Slice into strips and set aside.
  • Add oil to a large pan over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook until soft.
  • Add peas, corn, and cooked chicken. Heat until warm.
  • Add quinoa, and scrambled eggs. Mix it all up.
  • Add soy sauce and sriracha to taste.
  • Can store in the fridge for up to a week. Serve warm.

Easy and delicious meals for the week. I may mix a bit of brown rice in with the quinoa, but it doesn’t need it, I just use it for bulk. I plan on serving some sweet potato crisps along with the tacos just for a bit extra too (a treat my other half sent me while he’s away).

The only instant pot stuff I plan on making is the whole chicken, and the quinoa / rice. It’ll still save dishes / time / hassle of having to cook it so I don’t mind too much.

My breakfast of chai seeds / oats  / homemade yogurt / cubed apple / maple syrup (just a splash) / spices was absolutely delicious. I’m not sure if I want another week of the exact same breakfast or if i want to switch it up. None of the things I enjoy for breakfast are on sale this week, bacon is expensive, eggs get boring. I imagine I’ll figure it out when I do my groceries for the week.

I’m not down any weight this week, still hovering around the 197-198 mark but I’m also not up any weight and some weeks that’s just as good. I know I didn’t eat as well as I could have (my other half sent me a care package with some treats in it) but it’s a marathon not a race, as the saying goes. This week I should be able to stick with things a bit better and hopefully get down another pound (or two).

Making any exciting meals this week? Have a recipe you want to share? A site that you get most of your meal prep from? Let me know in comments!

Adventurous Christmas Present

Because I don’t already have enough hobbies and projects on the go, I decided to start one more. It’s a Christmas gift for my other half, so I am not going to post a picture here (he probably wouldn’t see it any way, but just in case) and I’m thinking I may have bit off more than I can chew. It’s a complicated cross stitch, and there’s only a few months before Christmas (where I’m working on other projects at the same time). I can’t work on it at night because I’m usually in a dark room, and this particular project is being done on navy aida cloth (18 count). I’m not sure I can get it done in time but I wanted to give it a try. If anything it can be a Christmas present for next year.

My mother taught me to cross stitch when I was probably around 12-13 years old. She had been doing it for years and continues to. Her stuff is very intricate, and she has even won some local awards for her (she did a huge afghan one year). Me, I don’t particularly have the patience for larger projects. I have one on the go that I’ve had started for many years now, a European Bistro. It will look amazing when it’s done, but “when it’s done” is probably not for another 20 years and I think I started it 10 years ago.

I do well with smaller projects, or projects that are near and dear to my heart, like the adventure time one above (completed for the husband, it hangs over his desk. I have a fluttershy one that hangs over mine). Cross stitching is a relaxing hobby that you can customize to suit any person in the world because it’s just taking images and using tiny threaded X’s in different colours to transfer that image.

When I was first starting out I used to buy kits from Michaels or online, but now I prefer to make my own designs, and I just buy the floss (typically DMC). I don’t get a chance to cross stitch as much as I’d like since I am typically busy with the 1 year old or a different hobby (gaming, knitting, crochet, spinning yarn, cooking, photography, you get the point..) but it’s one I like to come back to and one that I pick up a few times a year.

I started an afghan a few years ago and each square of the afghan is going to be a blizzard battle pet, but I haven’t gotten very far on it yet. I’ve also been slowly working away on the Hufflepuff crest from Harry Potter (happens to be my house of course) but that’s on the back burner while I work on this new Christmas present. I have more cross stitch projects on the go than I do knitting projects, which is something I have always wanted to change. I want to FINISH projects, and not just have a collection of half completed bits and bobs. It’s always one of my new years resolutions, actually.

So we’ll see how far I get with this new one. Maybe I’ll buckle down and focus enough to finish the others.

Right.

Extra-Life Hype (Contest Hype!)

It’s getting close to that time of year again – extra-life. Now I know a TON of my gamer friends are going to be participating, but I’m hoping that I’m still able to reach my goal raised this year. This will be the 4th year I’ve participated, and every year is a lot of fun. I won’t be doing the full 24h myself, but I’ll be streaming off and on from November 3rd (Friday) and November 4th (the “official” EL day). You’ll be able to see me, my husband, and probably my kiddo make silly faces and fools of ourselves as we try to raise money for one of the best causes out there – all while playing video games. I don’t have a schedule yet but that will be coming soon(tm).

This year I’m raising money for the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation. As most of you know, my son was born premature and it’s because of foundations like these and hospitals like these that we’re able to cope and deal with issues that come along with having a premature baby. As the saying goes, our children are our future, and lets help them get the best care and equipment possible.

I’ll be doing giveaways on the stream – but to help hype things up lets get a contest going here on MmoQuests. It will run until October 31st, so have fun entering!

Want to make an extra-life donation (click here!)
Want to enter to win some cool games (click here!)

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Comfort Games

You might think that ALL video games fall under the category of ‘comfort’ games – but in my case this just isn’t true. Some games are incredibly frustrating, some games cause a lot of anxiety, some games are just not very relaxing at all to play. Some require me to actually (gasp) pay attention and be fairly awake.

Then there are comfort games. Games I play that give me such a warm fuzzy feeling, that require a little bit of concentration but not too much, and are just so quaint I absolutely adore them. The first rendition of Cook, Serve, Delicious is one such game (for me at least). Even though you’re mashing keys as fast as you can to try to serve customers on time, I just find it therapeutic to be memorizing specific orders of keys and remembering what keys go to what foods. It’s like knitting (for me) which is a lot of memory exercises.

I even made a video or two of me playing it (you can find it on my youtube channel here)

You can imagine my surprise (and joy) when I learned that yesterday Cook, Serve, Delicous 2(!) released on steam. I had seen this ages ago listed on twitch as a game with no images at all and it sort of fell off my radar since then. I don’t have the budget to pick it up this month but I’m hoping to be able to get it before too long (I’m on steam as Stargrace if we haven’t joined up as friends yet). The graphics look cute, the game play looks relatively similar to the first game and I can’t wait to dive in and make horrible bits of food for people and upgrade my restaurant.

Do you have a comfort game? Let me know in comments!

Investing in a Handheld?

I currently own two consoles and one handheld. An ancient 3DS (not XL or anything like that, just a 3DS) a PS4 (Destiny 1 bundle edition), and a WiiU. The 3DS gets the most use these days, but they all get a little time here and there. I already made a post about otome last week when I was playing Amnesia, and I lamented over the fact that Nintendo is reluctant to put out any vs / otome type games, and that leaves me with steam / pc versions only (for the most part, I realize there are a few 3DS versions etc).

I wondered about getting a PlayStation Vita, and talked it over with the other half who seemed pretty supportive of my love of visual novels (along with JRPG and other PS only titles). The Vita isn’t too expensive, and I really feel that otome (and other games like that) are best played on a handheld where you can relax as you embrace the story and “play” (or read) it where ever you want.

Arislyn has been regaling me with tales of playing Collar x Malice, and there are quite a few other vn being released / that have been released – it would be nice to get a collection going for myself. So far I just have one non-steam physical copy. I’ve never owned a sony handheld before so I have absolutely zero experience with any of the products to date. I don’t know if it’s alright to buy it used (a-la-ebay) or if I’m better off investing in it new from the box. I’ll have to save up for it slowly, it’s not something I can just run out and buy (well, technically I could but it would be taking my budget away from something else, so I’d rather save up month by month) so I’ve got some time to figure things out first.

Have some advice? Know of a great otome I need to pick up? Selling a vita? Let me know in comments!

As always, happy gaming, no matter where you find yourself.

Lets Talk Gamer Health

There are a lot of really healthy gamers out there. People who exercise, eat well, are slim, and who have never had to deal with weight issues before.

I am not one of these people.

For the longest time I was ashamed of how I looked and I was reluctant to put any pictures of myself out there for the world to see. As time went on my views on this have shifted slightly because honestly, this is me. Not everyone is going to like me and those who judge me by my physical appearance are probably not people I wanted to be friends with anyway.

Now the point of this post. When I got pregnant I was already 235 pounds. During the pregnancy I gained to 247 at my highest. Since giving birth in September of last year, I’ve lost 48 pounds and for the first time in MANY years my scale actually reads below 200 pounds. I never want to see the scale that high again.

I went from class 3 obesity to class 1. If I lose another 19 pounds I’ll be ‘overweight’ and no longer obese. Every time you reduce your weight like this you cut down the percentages of health issues that affect you. It’s really hard. It’s even harder if you’ve dealt with weight issues before – our bodies work against us. We’re hungrier, we have more cravings. If you happen to be one of those lucky women who have PCOS (she says sarcastically) your body works even harder against you.

I have PCOS and with it comes easy weight gain and all the other not-so-fun stuff but I can’t let that be an excuse as to why I am this size.

I haven’t been doing a lot to lose weight, but the small changes I made have been adding up over time. I’m more active now (thank having a toddler for that) and make sure I go for some pretty intense walks during the week. I only drink tea (one a day) and water (lots a day). I don’t eat fast food, I don’t eat anything that I don’t make myself. If I’m hungry, I eat. I loosely calculate my calories, but I find I lose more weight when I don’t pay attention to the intake quite so much. I eat what I feel like eating – so long as I prepare it myself. I use containers for my meals so I have some form of portion control.

I also suffer from mental illness (depression, anxiety) and while it’s not as bad as it used to be, it’s still there because it’s a chemical imbalance in my brain and that means it will ALWAYS be there. It is a chemical imbalance that can be fine for months on end and then for absolutely no reason at all will trigger. The only thing that helps me in this case is medication to get the imbalance under control. I’ve tried therapy and various means of self medication, I’ve done the whole “think happy thoughts!” bit, I’ve tried exercise, “just get out more!” and I have a pretty good life but it doesn’t matter how good my life is, this mental illness doesn’t give a flying turtle about that stuff. So it takes medication and yes for a while that bugged me. I’ve lost friends over it, I’ve had to distance myself from family members, I’ve had to put myself first out of necessity which is something I find really difficult, it always seems so selfish. Turns out being selfish is alright in certain instances.

I want to have a long and healthy life for my son. I want to be around to see all of his important moments. I want so many things – and this is important because for a long time I didn’t want anything. I was convinced that this rendition of myself would be the one I would always be. Turns out that’s not true.

So for other gamers (or anyone, really) out there who want to change things around – you CAN do it. If you fail, that’s OK. I’ve failed a lot. I mean, a LOT, but you need to dust yourself off and just get back up and try something new. Keep trying, over and over and over until you find what works for you and until you’re happy with yourself. I finally feel like I’m getting there.

Slowly.

That ONE Game

Lets face it, we probably all have a special spot (or two) for that game. A game we want to love, that we keep installed or maybe even keep a subscription to, but we don’t actually play it. Every time we work up the courage to log in something stops us from going further. I can’t be the only one, right?

For me that game is of course EverQuest 2 (and the original can probably fall under that umbrella too). Back in December of last year me and my husband found ourselves with a few extra hours while kiddo was asleep (typically on me) in the early morning hours, and we wanted something we could play together so we returned to Norrath. Even picked up the latest expansion. I subscribed for a year. What was I thinking! It has been ages since I played any game for a year straight let alone one that has fallen so far off my radar I shouldn’t even have it installed.

We played for a few months but then a combination of things happened. As kiddo started getting bigger he was awake more hours and wanted more attention. This baby has always been pretty high maintenance and that hasn’t changed. Then we got to a point in the game where we couldn’t get any more upgrades doing content with just the two of us, we would have to group – except finding a group and having time for that when I never knew when I would be called away was next to impossible.

The other half stopped playing first. No real surprise there, we may have met in EQ2 and it will always have a soft spot for us because of that, but the game has changed, the players have changed, WE have changed, and we were looking for things that just don’t exist for us in that game any more. I trudged on, convinced I could do something myself and that I wouldn’t need groups, or that I could invent a magical group that could complete content in the 15 minutes free I had.

Silly Stargrace.

Months go by, I don’t log in. Then EQ2Wire announces they’re shutting down and nostalgia rears its head and suddenly I find myself pushing the play button. I still have a subscription until December, wouldn’t I just like to peak in and see how things are.

It might have been different if channels worked and I saw any sign of life in game – but for some reason my global channels were all missing (I believe it has to do with a bug of copying another character’s UI) and I was once again in game alone. The last time anyone logged on in our small guild of three was almost a year ago. I don’t want to play an MMO alone. I’ve got a whole steam library of single player games for that. So I checked my broker (made 2k platinum, yay!) and logged out. Needless to say I won’t be renewing my subscription this time around.

I keep trying to find a magical MMO that I can play in the few brief moments I have here and there but lets face it that probably won’t happen again for a few more years. For now I’ll continue to flounder about, pretending to play games where I get nothing accomplished in the hopes that something will eventually stick. Guild Wars 2 is a good one since it has no subscription. I have been logging in daily and getting a few things done here and there but honestly I’m waiting for the expansion to go live – mounts sound exciting.

For everyone reading – what’s that one game you keep installed and you have good intentions about but you never actually end up playing it? Let me know in comments, I know it can’t just be me.

As always, happy gaming, no matter where you find yourself.

Sunday: Meals for the Week

When Amazon Prime came around this year I decided to buy an Instant Pot. It was an item that I had seen previous years and those who owned one talked about it almost non-stop. As I looked around my kitchen at the collection of other appliances, I decided I had to have one. It would soon replace my slow cooker, my pressure cooker, my frying pan, and my rice cooker. In fact I’m not even sure I used my oven this summer except once or twice.

The invention of the Instant Pot is Canadian (all the more reason to support it) and it acts as a 7-in-1 appliance that can basically do everything except toast (although I made apple bread in it, so just because it doesn’t toast doesn’t mean you can’t make very moist bread). With the husband gone for another four months and me at home cooking for myself (plus whatever scraps mini-me is eating these days) I decided to also invest in some plastic portion containers and instead of making a new meal (or two, or three) every single day, I would just make one meal for lunch, one meal for dinner, and eat them all week long.

You have to be really comfortable with the meals you decide to make. I’ve learned a few things, like it doesn’t  matter how delicious pasta is, after a week of eating it for dinner I’m tired of it. Some things I don’t get tired of though, like lentils and rice. I’ve also been working on spending less on groceries. In fact if you were to look in my fridge you would wonder if I ate anything at all because the only groceries I have in there are the items I’m using for that week.

Thanks to friends I came across this web site for recipes, which has been an absolute life saver. I typically use it for inspiration and then adapt the recipes to my own tastes and use the IP in some way-shape-form.

This week I’m making roasted corn quesadillas for lunch and for dinner I’m making a variation of mini garden turkey loaves with mixed veggies, stuffing, and gravy (I’m using beef, I’m omitting the carrots, and I’m using my own smokey bbq sauce). For the quesadillas I plan on cooking an entire frozen chicken in the IP, I bought two of them last week and only used one. The meatloaf I plan on making in the IP in silicone containers for individual servings. I was thinking of making mashed potato with it but honestly I prefer stuffing, so I’m going with that instead. I typically check the local grocery flyers on Friday and then plan my menu around that. Groceries are on Sunday and lists are my very best friend. I rarely ever buy something that’s not on my list.

I also made 16+ cups of yogurt this week in my IP. I had no idea it was so easy. Yogurt (especially greek) is very expensive here (we’re talking $7 for 4 cups worth, if that) and for the cost of a carton of whole milk I ended up with creamy delicious yogurt that I strained to the consistency I wanted. I took a portion of that and made it into tzatziki sauce which I served over spicy chicken fried rice (no recipe available for that one, it’s just my own concoction). Delicious. I had that for lunch every day this week and I’m still not tired of it. The same cannot be said however for these lasagna rolls. Delicious? Yes, but I’m tired of them now. There’s just something about pasta.

For breakfast I plan on making some spiced apple compote in the IP and layering it with my homemade yogurt and some oats to create overnight apple oatmeal. It’s another experiment so we’ll see how it turns out.

So those are my meals for the week. I spend an average of $60-80 CAD ($49-65 USD) a week on groceries (this includes things like baby digestible cookies and 3-4 veggie pouches) for me and the little guy and we live in an area where groceries tend to be quite expensive, especially if you want fresh. In the past two months using this new method I’ve saved approx. $50 a week on groceries, and I’ve lost 15lbs. I don’t drink anything except water (and tea, I love tea), and I don’t eat anything I don’t make myself (ie: no fast food or pre-made meals). It’s difficult, but so far I find it rewarding and worth it. Plus I only have to cook meals one day a week instead of stressing about what I’m going to eat every single day.

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