Category: Real Life (Page 6 of 29)

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!)


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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.


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.

Knitting for Me

I’ve always wanted to be the type of person who wears scarves like Rory in Gilmore girls. Not just because it’s winter, but also a stylish accessory. Despite this desire, I don’t actually own a single scarf and I decided that should change. Knitting a scarf may seem like a simple thing, but I actually find them to be some of the biggest projects to take on, second only to a blanket. They take FOREVER, they’re often boring so it’s easy to get side tracked, but I can’t deny that once they’re completed they’re beautiful. I made a cable scarf for my MIL a few years ago out of bulky yarn (a faster knit) so why I decided that my second scarf should be done in fingering, I’m not sure.

Pictured above is the scarf I have been working on for myself. It’s knit with Knitpicks chroma yarn which slowly changes colours as you go along. The end effect is beautiful, and it is keeping me interested because I love seeing the colours change. The pattern itself is incredibly simple:

  • Row 1: [knit, purl], repeat [] to end
  • Row 2: Slip first stitch purl wise with yarn in front, [knit, purl], repeat [] to end

That’s it. The end result is a beautiful ribbed pattern that makes a SUPER stretchy soft reversible scarf. No, mine isn’t perfect. When I was first starting the pattern I wasn’t convinced I was doing it properly and instead of frogging it back to the start I just carried on, and there’s a dropped stitch that I ignored for 9 rows that I had to pick up and carry through and fix – but the scarf is still beautiful (to me at least), and I can’t wait to finish it. I’m about 40% done knitting it so far. I heard some where that scarves should be as long as you are tall, so I’m aiming for this scarf to be at least five feet long. I imagine I’ll finish it some time in October which will give me plenty of time to get some good use out of it this winter.

That gives me time before Christmas to get some smaller projects done as gifts (more about that another time). I spend a lot of time knitting for other people, and it feels nice to be making something just for me.

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!

Theirs vs. Mine (Chefs Plate #2)

My second Chefs Plate meal was fish taquitos with a cabbage & carrot slaw. None of the ingredients were rotten this time which was nice. I was worried about the avocado because those have such a short “not ripe not ripe BAM RIPE rotten” stage, but it turned out excellent.

The food itself was fantastic and very filling – but I had a few issues. I had to grate the giant carrot and the chunk of cabbage by hand which was a pain. When it comes to value, I didn’t think that the supplies were worth $10.95 (the cost of a single plate) even if the overall meal was delicious. They sent me 2 fish fillets (very good), a small pouch of spices, a small container of sour cream, an avocado, a lime, 2 cloves of garlic, 6 flour tortilla wraps (very small), a carrot, and a chunk of purple cabbage. Now sure if you buy this stuff in the store it comes to more than $10.95 because the portions are a lot larger – but I felt like they sent me very little and I had to do all the work on top of it. I’m a busy mother of a 10 month old baby doing the solo parent thing for 6 months, cost is only a portion of what I was trying this for, time it takes to prepare the meal is another one. If the cabbage and carrots had come pre-shredded that would have made a world of difference.

For this meal I put the little guy in his bouncy chair and tried to keep him entertained long enough to make everything. I got right up to the stage where they go into the oven for 10 minutes which was pretty good. The meals all advertise to take between 25-30 minutes to make from start to finish and I find this to be pretty accurate – but I am rushing around doing things the entire time, so if you happen to work slower the meals would probably take around 45 minutes.

I’ve got one more meal to go, a fettuccini meal that I’m pretty excited about. That’ll be tomorrow (or when I can find the time to make it). I’ll do a final blog post with overall thoughts and if anyone has a question don’t hesitate to let me know.

Chefs Plate (Canada edition)

Gasp, I know, a non-gaming post, but a few folks were interested in details so I figured I’d put it here. Chefs Plate is another one of those meal delivery type things like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh where you choose from a selection of weekly recipes and they send you the ingredients and you cook it. There are tons of different plans and prices, but for Chefs Plate it’s $10.95 (CAD) per meal. I happened to have a 50% off coupon. They don’t offer meals for one person, but they did have a 2 person meal combo, so I went for that. They have 2-3-4 meal options. I went with 3. This put my order at $32 (CAD) for 3 different meals, 2 of each meal.

The box is 100% recyclable, as is everything in it (yay). My stuff arrived and it was nice and cold, even the meat. The recipes are printed on GIANT pieces of stiff paper, I wish they were more index card sized. Even if you decide not to go with further shipments (there’s no commitment here) you get to keep some (hopefully) amazing recipes.

My fist meal was grilled beef & pesto burgers with grilled mushrooms, peppers, and a nectarine salad. The facebook page claimed meals “could feed 3-4” but that’s not true, especially not for these burgers where you only get 2 buns. Ingredients are supposed to be local to Canada, but my red pepper has a big “U.S.A” sticker on it. The meat is Canadian, and I do like supporting our local farmers. Cutting into the red pepper showed me it was completely rotten inside, black mold everywhere. Gross.

The beef was *amazing* whoever they’re getting it from in Canada is doing a fantastic job. It was probably one of the best tasting burgers I’ve ever made. With the grilled red pepper and mushroom on top, it didn’t need anything else. Making the pesto by hand was a pain, you have to dice up arugula and sunflower seeds. The pesto wasn’t that great, but when you added the red wine vinegar to it, the flavours were incredible. No complaints about the burger at all.

The salad.. was nothing to write home about. The red wine vinegar was used there too and it overpowered the nectarine and the radish. Was this plate worth $10.95? I don’t personally think so.  I do have two more dishes to go, plus the second portion of this one (which I will have tomorrow) and if the steady price was $32 I’d be MUCH more inclined to purchase from them. In the meantime, at least I got some neat recipes to try out on my own.

You’re NEVER Too Old to Learn

Growing up I was never very interested in computers or coding or even video games. I didn’t own a computer until I moved out on my own, back in 2000. As years went by I would lament over the fact that I couldn’t code like a lot of my friends (and my family, my Dad is an Oracle programmer) and I started resigning myself to the fact that it was something that I’d never be able to do. Sure, I learned some basic HTML like everyone else who used forums and wanted to format some stuff, but nothing further.

I think it’s really important to keep learning things as you grow up, it keeps us from being stagnant. With a new kid I don’t have a lot of spare time but I wanted to make good use of the small amount of time that I did have. I still wanted to learn how to code, but I had absolutely no idea where to start or what language to learn – there are so many! I asked on twitter for some help from friends and they came through in a big way offering all sorts of advice.

One of the best pieces of advice was to take a look at It’s a learning tool that teaches you how to code in a bunch of different languages and they offer you certificates for passing their courses. Each certificate they offer takes 200+ hours, depending on your speed. Not only that, but their ‘camp’ helps non-profit organizations. You take the stuff you’ve learned and apply it to real life situations; in this case that means creating apps for non-profits to use. So not only are you learning how to code (for free) you’re helping out some fine folks who need it, and your stuff is actually being used. I signed up, got a GitHub account attached, and started on the first lesson (which you can see part of above in my screenshot, the left hand side is my instructions, the center is my code, and the right hand side is the result).

They start you out with very basic HTML and then move to CSS. I’ve done 19 of the challenges so far, and as you progress they hold your hand less and less. You can “ask for a hint” which takes you to their forums where you can interact with other students and help each other along with your code. They encourage community and local study groups which I think is fantastic. No, I’m not doing very complicated things (yet) but I’ll get there. I can learn at my own pace, on my own time. I feel like I’m doing something constructive with the limited spare time I have. Eventually, I may even be able to get a job with my new skill set, even if it takes a few years.

This is something that’s really important to me, and near and dear to my heart. As such, I’ve decided to do a weekly coding blog post, where I talk about what I’m working on and where I am in the program. I’m hoping it’ll be a motivational tool for those who think that they’re too old to learn or don’t have the time. A sort of “hell if I can do it, anyone can do it” example. I’m also INCREDIBLY excited and proud of myself. This is something I never thought I’d be able to do and here I am. I know it’ll take some time, but I’ll get there.


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