Category: Real Life

Why I’m Doing Inktober

This month was the first time I had heard about “Inktober” an event that runs for all of October and was apparently started by a Jake Parker to help develop good drawing habits and then just sort of went viral from there. Back when I was much younger (17 years ago at least) I used to do quite a bit of drawing, but since then I’ve fallen out of the habit and it’s something I’ve always regretted. You can see some of my older stuff on an inactive DeviantART account I have.

Even though I haven’t done any drawing for many years I decided why not take part, especially after I saw friends showing off their awesome pieces. There is a drawing prompt for the month but you don’t have to use it. I’ve been following it because it makes things easier for me, especially after being so rusty. I just ordered myself a set of micron pens which should get here on Tuesday, and I’m excited to try them out because my current pen is.. well, it’s drying out and just not good.

Speaking of not good – I know my stuff isn’t good. It’s pretty horrible, actually. That’s not me being harsh on myself, that’s 17 years of not using my skills. My hope is that after Inktober is done I’ll continue drawing, and then over the next year I’ll be able to see some improvement. I love drawing (well, I love many artistic endevours, but drawing in specific) and I want to be able to get better at it. It’s one of those skills you have to practice every day though and lets face it 17 years is a long time.

The point of this post is to say it doesn’t matter how good you are or how long it has been. If you enjoy doing something or have regrets about not doing something – change it. Within reason and logic of course, but don’t let time passing be one of the things that holds you back.


The Weekends Are Hardest

The weekends are hardest for me. I see everyone with their families, and mine is incomplete for another 128 days. We tend to fight on weekends. We don’t get much time to talk and what time we do have gets misunderstood because text is really no way to have a relationship. He’s bogged down with the difficulties of depot, and I’m trying to raise our (almost) one year old son alone. We normally lean on each other, and we can’t do that right now, although we both try. I’m exhausted from day to day activities, and so is he, even though we’re doing completely different activities. We talk less than an hour a week.

It’s temporary, I know. I remind myself like a mantra. One more day. One more day. One more day. Some days are harder than others. Like immunization day that’s coming up. That’s going to be a rough one. They’re all hard on some level because it’s never easy to be away from your partner, but you develop a routine and things become a bit ‘normal’ for that situation. I don’t cry quite as much but I certainly still cry. Silly things still set me off. Like Friday nights. Normally we’d be gaming together, getting ready to relax. He’d give our son a bath and then read him Dr. Seuss books while I took a break. I’d take over and nurse and then put our son to bed while my husband relaxed at his desk and decompressed after a long 12-14 hour day at work. We’d each talk about our day. Laugh at stupid stuff that no one else would find funny or understand.

I miss the simple things. You never expect to miss farts, but I miss those. He says he misses changing diapers and I believe him. I miss cooking for more than just one person. I miss having someone to split the chores with. I love our son but I miss having a break. I miss just talking. I miss listening to him breath at night. He missed our son learning to sit up, learning to crawl, eating a billion different types of new food. He feels guilty about it but timing has never smiled upon us in life so we just have to make due and keep going forward. One more day. One more day. One more day.

 


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

 


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.


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.


Changes at MmoQuests

In the 11 years that I’ve been writing on this blog I would say about 99% of the posts have been about video games in some way shape or form. I love games, I love the friends I’ve made through gaming and games are large part of my life. That’s not going to change.

The thing is they’re not the only part of my life. I have two other blogs, one for knitting and one for book reviews. Neither site gets very much attention (lets face it, these days I rarely post here as it is) and having multiple blogs for all of my little hobbies is getting… annoying.

I don’t want to change the site name from MmoQuests because I’ve had it for so long now and it would just feel awkward – but I do want to change things up and include more posts that talk about whatever happens to be holding my attention. I’d also like to change up the look of the blog, but that will take some time because I’m pretty particular about what I want (and what I don’t want).

For those who enjoy only reading about the gaming – don’t fear. I’ll add a gaming category along with the individual game categories, and you can subscribe to an RSS of just that. I’ll also be adding a few new categories like knitting, cross stitch, and cooking. I understand that readers may go down because you’re pretty used to me writing about specific things here, but I really feel that my blog should be able to incorporate ALL of me, and not just the side that enjoys video games.

These changes should be seen as good things. It gives me a bigger incentive to write and not feel lost that I don’t have a video game to write about. It expands the audience (hopefully), and broadens topic searches. I’ll be keeping my book review site because I pay for that one, but my knitting site I’ll be taking down and merging into MmoQuests. I haven’t written there since August 2016 and I doubt it will be missed.

If you’re absolutely against me merging non game related topics into MmoQuests let me know, either in comments or by email, and be sure to include why you think it’s a bad idea. I can’t promise I’ll act on your advice, but I will listen to it.


Bootstrap Buttons (and other Coding Adventures)

I know it has been a little while since I wrote, but I was having some issues with my web host and had to take care of a few things. Hopefully it’s all in hand now and I can get back to blogging! It has also been a little while since I wrote about my adventures with Freecodecamp and learning to code – but I’m still doing that, too. Just at a much slower pace than I had anticipated. The program is fantastic and you go at your own pace, it’s just that my pace has been interrupted by life (a few times).

I’ve completed 67 challenges so far which basically means I’ve touched on almost nothing. I’ve done a little HTML, some CSS, some HTML5, and I’ve just started Bootstrap. Most of the time (so far at least) I’m able to figure out what I need to do on my own. I like the way code is written, it’s easy for me to read and see what pieces need to go where, or what I’m missing. The way these challenges are framed it’s a lot of just inserting a new variable into something that’s already in the code some place, or a version that you’ve already done. Learning where it goes and how it affects everything in real time is neat. I’m eager to get a bit deeper into things but for now I’m content with the (incredibly slow) pace I’m working at. I’m restricted to learning during naps and after kiddo is in bed which doesn’t leave me with a lot of time (it seems like there’s always something more to do) but I’m determined to stick with it so I can develop some skills.

Right now I’m just making buttons that do stuff, that stretch across a certain space, that have colour (or don’t). For a lot of my friends I know this comes easily, but I’m still proud to be picking it up now. I’ll get there.

HTML5 and CSS was 5 hours (approx) of work. Now that I’m on Bootstrap it should be another 5 hours, and then I move on to JQuery (3 hours). From there, I move to Basic Front End Development Projects, 50 hours where I’ll be building a few things. Exciting, no? Yes! If you’ve never heard of Freecodecamp before I highly suggest you check it out, and if you have any other suggestions for me to check out please don’t hesitate to post them to comments!

Now lets get back to gaming!


Mine vs. Theirs (Chefs Plate #3)

Today I made the third and final meal from Chefs Plate – garlic noodles with squash and spinach, and some toast with ricotta cheese and cherry tomatoes. It was incredibly delicious and unlike the other two meals the portion felt huge (I had enough for 3-4 plates like the one you see above). The noodles were fresh, and now that I’ve had fresh pasta I’m not sure I can ever go back to the boxed stuff. It was light and fluffy and full of flavour.

It was one of the easier meals to cook and prepare, and as far as value goes it came closest to what I would actually consider paying $10.95 per plate for. It was also their vegetarian option, but you could always add a little chicken or something to stretch the meal out if you wanted.

Final thoughts? Well, Chefs Plate is just not aimed at people like myself. Solo parent of an infant, with no time to cook. It would be great for someone just learning, who wanted to impress themselves (or friends) with delicious meals. Someone who has a bit of time to cook, but no ideas of what to make, and of course, who has the cash. I do like that we can keep the recipes, I’ll make them again in the future using my own purchased ingredients and customizing them the way I prefer. It also gave me some good ideas, like using lime to flavour a slaw (the carrot & cabbage slaw was delicious) and how you don’t need complicated meals to have big flavour. I think the instant pot is geared at me in a much better way – less time in the kitchen, less time watching my food cook and preparing it. So I’ll look for more instant pot meals instead and maybe I’ll post one here weekly (or maybe not, I have no idea if people care that I post food things on my gaming blog).

In the end, I’m very glad I spent the $32 to try Chefs Plate out – but there’s no way I’d pay full price ($65) for three meals (6 servings total). That’s almost my entire weekly budget for groceries, and doesn’t cover lunch or breakfast (or even 7 days of dinners) or anything for my kid. That being said, if you want to give it a try you can get a discount on your first order by clicking here.

Lets get back to some gaming posts!