Talking about my love for video games has always been a little challenging for me (probably because means admitting I have a problem). It may sound funny, but when it comes to video games, I completely lack self-control. They’re one of the few things in my life that takes me completely out of the present, transporting me to this magical world where time has no meaning. Sounds wonderful until I snap back to reality and realize that HOURS of my time have slipped by.
“That happens to everyone,” you say, and you’d mostly be right, but I think I’m more of an extreme case. (See examples below.)
In 2001, my dad gifted me with Final Fantasy X for PlayStation 2, my first foray into the Final Fantasy Series and into RPGs in general. That day, I accidentally logged 16 hours. I was elated by the gift, but horrified that I’d managed to lose track of 16 hours! (I still swear to this day that it only felt like three or so at most.)
In 2002, Bank of America had their annual family festival which was hosted that year at Adventure Landing. I’d recently begun playing Dance Dance Revolution at home, and was thrilled at the opportunity to play at an arcade without ponying up $1 per game. A little while later, my dad was physically dragging me off the game and insisting I eat something.
“I just had breakfast, Dad. I’m not hungry.” was my retort.
“That was eight HOURS ago.” his strained reply.
When what he said sunk in, my legs gave out (although I’m sure 8 hours of competitive dancing might’ve played a teeny role as well.)
Hmmm…let’s just call it World of Warcraft and leave it at that, okay? (And mention that all my last minute studying, and paper-writing in college may have had more to do with my growing video game addiction and less with the fact that I was a procrastinator as most people assumed.)
So where am I going with this? Video games are one of my FAVORITE things in the world, but because of how easily my attention is ensnared by their endless characters, quests and challenges, I usually try to keep them at arm’s length. Ratchet and Clank was the first video game I ever finished from beginning to end (Chris and I played this together in fall of last year.)
Thanks a gift from the Easter Bunny (Okami HD), I’ve been staying up even later than usual. According to Chris, I’m pretty late to the Okami fandom, but I guess better late than never. Here’s to adding another game to my “completed” list and renewing the struggle of time management while being pulled into a great story.
My mom-in-law loves Adam Levine of Maroon 5 (as in LOVES), so when she heard they were playing in Jacksonville, she was DYING to go. This gave Chris and I the opportunity to become the heroes of Christmas day by presenting her with two tickets to the show. It ended up being a pretty amazing arrangement because it resulted in a girls’ night out as neither of the guys were really interested in catching the show. (Their loss. Our gain.) The concert was amazing, and I left feeling pretty lucky to have a mom-in-law who enjoys a lot of the same music I do. We some quality mother-daughter bonding time and an incredible evening dancing and singing out hearts out at the top of our lungs.
Not only were the bands amazing (although I will admit I’m biased as I love all three of them), the visual effects from each set were pretty incredible. I’ve posted some of my favorite moments from the show below. Hope you like them!
I’ve been hooked on Owl City since the first time I heard, “Fireflies.” There’s just something about Adam Young‘s ability to pair images and phrases with melodies that leaves me feeling uplifted and inspired, so being able to see them in concert last night was a pretty amazing experience.
One of my favorite moments from their set was Adam asking us all to break out our phones, and light up the arena with the lights from our electronics. With the house lights dimmed, the arena looked like it was filled with thousands of blue fireflies, and the entire arena sang our collective hearts out to “Fireflies.”
Their set list last night included the following:
Speed of Love
“Gold” was a song I hadn’t heard before, but I think it’s a new favorite. (Hooray for new music!) I also thought that it was really cool that the last image they displayed was a number you could text for an Owl City music sampler which is just smart POP marketing to potential new fans, which made the advertising professional in me smile. (Yes, yes – I have work/life balance issues.) ^_^
Ziggy Stardust meets ballet, jazz and Michael Jackson – that pretty much sums up my first experience catching Neon Trees live. I’m not sure what it was about their set (I think it might’ve been an overabundant supply of feedback/distortion) but it was REALLY difficult to interpret the words (even to the songs I knew forwards and backwards).
That being said, I still enjoyed their set if only because Tyler’s energy is catching and Elaine’s vocals are AMAZING (not to mention her mad skills on the drums).
Unfortunately I can’t remember every song from their setlist last night, but I’m positive about the following:
Moving the Dark
Don’t You Want Me
As much as I love Owl City and Neon Trees, it came as no surprise that Maroon 5 were the ones to bring the house down (they were the ones headlining after all). But wow…I had no idea they could put on such an amazingly fun, energy-ridden, feel good, rock out show. When I think back to all the songs they managed to squeeze in and of how many of my favorites they managed to play, it blows me away. Their energy last night seemed inexhaustible.
After catching Adam on The Voice, I wasn’t really sure what to expect in how he addressed all his adoring fans (myself included). I guess in the back of my mind, I was worried that he’d do something last night that would put him solidly in my “don’t like after all” list like Christina Aguilera did after her ridiculous outbursts on the show. Rest assured though, Maroon 5 fans – Adam loves us. He appreciates us. And he lives to perform for us.
And perform he did. Here’s a run down of all the songs I remember them playing list night. There may have been a couple I missed, so if you were at the show and can fill in any of the gaps, that’d be awesome!
Makes Me Wonder
If I Never See Your Face Again
Wipe Your Eyes
Won’t Go Home Without You
Harder to Breathe
Wake Up Call
One More Night
Stereo Hearts (Encore)
Moves Like Jagger (Encore)
I’ve posted some of my favorite pics that I managed to take last night from the show below, but I have an entire album of 40+ more on Facebook if you just can’t get enough.
This is the first weekend I’ve had in the past six weeks or so that didn’t involve traveling or being away from home for an extended period, so I thought I’d make the most of it and celebrate the return of Spring (and Easter) with some crafts I discovered this week while I was “catching up” on Pinterest.
Project 1: Herb Garden
The return of an herb garden this year is a MUST. I’ve been reading too many recipes and teas that require fresh or freshly dried herbs that it’d simply be a crime not to include them in my weekend to-do. Last year’s challenges to my herb garden were torrential rains that over-soaked my herbs and pesky mites that devoured the leaves. To combat those challenges, I’m starting (and likely keeping) my herbs indoors this year. I’ll start from seeds, thin them as the sprouts appear, add a little plant food and hopefully watch them grow like weeds.
On this year’s grow list:
Anise (for tea)
Catnip (in the hopes that it will keep the cats from devouring my other plants)
Cilantro (Coriander once it goes to seed)
German Chamomile (for tea)
Lavender (for tea and homemade sachets)
Peppermint (for tea)
Rosemary (because I’ve been dying to try a home fragrance stove concoction)
Wild Bergamot (for tea)
I’m also thinking about picking up some chocolate mint (already growing strong) that I saw at Home Depot last night. What herbs do you have (or plan to have) in your garden this Spring?
Project 2: Handmade Stationery Envelopes
With Sean recently returned to Afghanistan for his fourth tour since joining the Marine Corps, I ‘ve been wanting to do something extra special this time to let my brother know just how much he’s missed, especially with the birth of his first child just around the corner. So when I stumbled across this tutorial for how to create your own stationery envelopes using magazine pages, I knew it was just the thing I’d been searching for.
I’ve been scouring the pages of Jacksonville Magazine for uplifting images of Sean’s hometown to help wrap up the letters and photos I plan to send him in the coming weeks and months while he’s away. The focus this weekend will be on creating envelopes that can handle the 4×4 photos I plan to print from Instagram of his beautiful wife Bianca, their little girl Sofia who’s big debut (aka her birth) will hopefully take place next week, and Jackson, Sean’s energetic boxer-mix pup.
Project 3: Scalloped Wall Art
I’m a huge believer in mantle eye candy, so when I saw these strikingly cute scalloped wall art pieces on You Are My Fave, I knew I had to try to make them for our home. I haven’t decided on color palette or paper patterns yet, but Chris and I did make a last-minute trip to Michael’s yesterday so that I could pick up a circle punch. I’ll be sure to post about the finished piece(s) sometime next week!
Image Credit: You Are My Fave, guest post & craft idea from Brooke of Playing Grown-Up
Project 4: Food Passport
If you and your significant other are anything like myself and Chris, one of the most hotly debated topics each week is that dreaded topic, “What’s for [insert your meal of choice here]?” That’s why I love the idea I saw over on The Spotted Fox (a blog now sadly discontinued) about creating a Food Passport with all the restaurants you’ve been meaning to check out, but haven’t made the time to.
I’m accepting restaurant nominations in the comment section, if anyone has a few they think we should try out. :)
Project 5: Dyed Deviled Eggs for Easter Lunch & Dinner
Last but not least, the only truly Easter-themed project for the weekend, brightly dyed deviled eggs for Easter Lunch with my mom and her parents, and Easter Dinner with my dad and his mom. This tutorial from MomDot.com makes it easy to get vibrant hues for this traditional dish. While she used vinegar with her Easter egg dye to get the strong colors you see below, I’m planning to use water, so my eggs come out more pastel-y. Can’t wait to show you guys the results!
Chris and I decided to enjoy the wonderful weather this afternoon by taking the puppies on a hike. We normally trek out to the beach or hit a regional park, but today’s we decided to head out toward Fort Caroline to find an old favorite of mine that I used to hike during my childhood – the Willie Browne trail.
It took a little bit of patience, as the Fort Caroline area looks a little different after fifteen years – but we eventually found the entrance to Theodore Roosevelt area of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, and from there, finding the Willie Browne trail head was easy. Once Jackie and Aries realized we weren’t going to the vet, it’s was pretty difficult to contain their excitement as we unloaded them from the car.
The views we had on the trail today didn’t disappoint – the sun was shining, the wind was gentle and the pups were appreciative of the chance to romp and stretch their legs.
Aries couldn’t decide what excited her most about the trail – the smells, the people or all the creatures that kept out of sight, but made soft rustlings through the underbrush.
When we hit a break in the tree line, Jackie ran out with me onto the salt marshes, not realizing in her exuberance that low tide meant that the “ground” was really soft mud. She was halfway across one of the flats, when she sunk in deeper than she wanted to and made a mad scramble to get back to packed earth. It was ridiculously awkward and adorable.
One of the coolest parts of the Willie Browne trail (in addition to the diversity of the landscape and the historic foundations of Willie Browne’s cabin and his family cemetery) is the observation deck the looks out over the salt marshes. It ended up being a great place to take a break, grab some water and just take in the natural beauty that north Florida has to offer.
All said and done, we wandered about 2.5 miles (or roughly an hour) through the trails – and the puppies were pooped by the time we made it back to the car. Chris and I are planning another trip soon, just the two of us, so we can make it through the connecting trail that crosses over the Spanish Pond and Fort Caroline. Definitely couldn’t have asked for a better day.
Have any hiking spots in North Florida you’d recommend us checking out for our next outdoor adventure? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!
It’s human nature to challenge change, so I’m not surprised by the vocal horde of fans and non-fans alike who have weighed in against the new Jacksonville Jaguars logo and found that it doesn’t suit their tastes.
“The ears are too pointy.”
“It looks too cartoonish.”
“I don’t like typeface…”
“Looks like Cheetara from Thundercats.”
“Looks too Disney.”
Some of the comments are tame and humorous, such as the ones posted above, but unfortunately a lot are too inappropriate, ignorant or racist to repeat. Then I recall my own reaction, and am even less surprised by the resistance. I believe my first comment to coworkers was a critique about the pattern of the spots looking too cheetah-y and not jaguar-y. Especially when looking at the “old” and “new” logos side-by-side. But with that critique voiced, I took a step back and reexamined the logo and realized that it corrected a lot of issues I’d had with our “old” logo.
The old logo always struck me as unproportional when not offset by the paw with claw marks (which wasn’t often) or the full body shot to offset its heavy head. The movement and expression of the old logo is also very two-dimensonal, especially when viewed next to the new design.
There’s a dimensionality and a fierceness to the new logo that resonates with me – especially as I think on what it means to be a Jaguars fan. Our team is in its teens, and mirrors that angst of adolescence, that frustration of being caught between what we want and know we can become and who we are perceived to be. I look at the new logo, and feel as though I hear the jaguar’s growl of impatience to prove he is ready to vanquish any foe.
Then you have the call-to-arms to “StandUnited” - a simple statement that serves as poignant reminder of the ridicule and ignorance we’ve endured at the hands of reporters and self-claimed “experts” alike who talk of black-outs and ticket sales and Tebow, as though our team can be reduced to nothing more than those three ideas.
And so though it’s taken a little time, I’ve found that I’ve grown rather fond already of the new face of the Jaguars, and it is with renewed hope (and fierceness) that I face the new season.
I’m lucky to have several friends who appreciate my love for wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff, echo my fear of weeping angels, know why it’s important to count the shadows, understand the appeal of fish fingers and custard, and get that “Bad Wolf” isn’t a reference to Little Red Riding Hood or the Three Little Pigs.
If the above paragraph sounds like gibberish and you feel lost, chances are you’ve never watched the delightful show, Doctor Who. If I’ve just described you, please stop reading this post IMMEDIATELY, and sign on to Netflix to remedy the situation. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
For those few brave and glorious souls who hung on to every phrase, read on…I’m about to share something with you that you may never forgot. I’ve stumbled upon a Gallifreyan Translator (and circular, no less). This discovery is thanks to one of my Facebook friends, and now I share it with you. Cherish it.
You should follow that link up there right now to download the program for yourself. It has endless possibilities – I’ve already thought about including the image below on a Valentines card for that special guy in my life (yes Chris, I mean YOU).
There’s also been discussion about Chris and I putting a Gallifreyan version of our surname on display somewhere in our home. If that happens, I’ll post an update. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what my fellow Whovians plan to do with this wonderful gift! (I’d also jump at the chance to talk with you guys about your favorite Doctor Who moments.) Share your ideas in the comments below!
Now that our floors are complete (yes, I know I still owe everyone our “After” pictures), I’ve been ITCHING to get back into my crafting. Unfortunately, my craft room is still in disarray and many of my supplies are living in boxes scattered throughout the garage and attic. Despite that obstacle, however, I still managed to compile a pretty extensive list of Valentines-themed projects I’d like to tackle before February 14th. Not sure if I’ll get to all of them, but if I can at complete three or four, I’ll feel pretty accomplished.
The first (and consequently the most time-consuming), is this adorable “Be My Valentine” pattern from Red Heart. When I stumbled across the pattern on Pinterest earlier this week, I immediately created a V-Day themed board, printed off a .pdf of the pattern, and went out that night to pick up the appropriate yarn. I’m currently about four rows into the project (out of 82), and hoping that I can cross it off my craft to-do list by next Sunday, February 3. While that may seem like a pretty quick turn-around, I find that I’m always more successful with my crochet projects when I give myself a deadline.
I haven’t crocheted in awhile, and I’m definitely feeling a little rusty, but this project couldn’t have come at a better time, as one of my coworkers commissioned me for a smaller project earlier this week!
I think one of the reasons I’m so determined to jump into the deep-end with Valentines-themed crafting is that I was very disappointed by not being able to decorate much for Christmas this year. Because of the state our home was in due to the flooring project, and our trip to Seattle over the holidays, I wasn’t really able to get into the Christmas spirit other than hanging my stockings over the fireplace and putting a wreath on our door. I’m also getting ready to roll into an array of baby showers, bridal showers, bachelorette parties and weddings, so if I don’t craft now, I’m not likely to get the chance again until June!
Other crafts that I’d like to attempt are as follows:
Picture Me Valentine:
Because we missed out on even sending Christmas cards this year, I’ve been toying with the idea of sending out personalized Valentines greetings instead. I really love these valentine photo cards from delia creates, and am hoping I can talk Chris into posing with me to create something similarly cute (perhaps mimicking some of the poses from my “Cutesy Couple Photos” board on Pinterest).
Photo & craft idea credit: Delia Creates
DIY String Heart: So, I saw this originally on More Design Please (which is a great compilation of art, design, crafting and more), but eventually traced the original tutorial back to Green Wedding Shoes. They put together a great post that walks you through each step of creating the string heart accompanied by stunning photos (courtesy of Katherine Elizabeth Photography) such as the one below.
What I love about this project is that it’s simple, but dynamic, and it’s also reminiscent of a project I did for geometry back in the fifth or sixth grade. While purchasing yarn for project number one, I went ahead and purchased pins and embroidery floss to ensure that this project made the final cut. Updates as soon as I have them!
Photo & craft idea credit: Green Wedding Shoes
Friendship Bracelet with Hearts:
My little sister LOVES making friendship bracelets, so I thought it would be neat to gift her one on Valentines using the pattern I found below. Because I know she’ll be wowed by the little hearts, I’ll be including the pattern when I give it to her, so she can in turn, impress her friends!
I found the pattern over on La Manufacture, and she includes a great video tutorial in addition to the graphic below.
Photo & craft idea credit: La Manufacture
The last time Chris and I were at Ikea, I scooped up a couple of frames that would work for a project like this quite nicely. Of all the Valentines crafts I’ve been collecting, this is probably the easiest, which strangely enough means that for some reason I’m likely to put it off to the point that it will never end up getting done (although I certainly hope that’s not the case.)
For some variations on the theme below, I definitely recommend checking out Pearls, Handcuffs and Happy Hour to see how she incorporated a variety of frames/layouts into her project. She was also brilliant – using sheet music scrapbook paper (when I first saw the image, I despaired because I didn’t have any sheet music handy, and was afraid I was in for a long search).
Photo & craft idea credit: Pearls, Handcuffs & Happy Hour
Heart-shaped Corner Bookmarks:
For all my book-lover friends, these little heart-shaped corner bookmarks are a MUST! I found the tutorial over on Craft and Creativity.
Photo & craft idea credit: Craft & Creativity
Fluttering Heart Wreath:
I still haven’t decided where I’ll hang this wreath if I decide to make it. Because it’s made out of paper, I’m not sure it would hold up very well outside on our front door. (Guess I’m kind of putting the cart before the horse here by worrying about where to hang something that hasn’t yet been created. Typical me.) ^_^
In addition to the crafts I’ve listed above, I also have a secret craft I stumbled upon that I’m DEFINITELY going to be making, and since several of the people who occasionally trip across these pages may perhaps be a recipient of said-craft, I’m going to hold off on sharing what it is until Valentines Day.
What crafts have made their way onto your to-do list?
As I’ve probably mentioned more times than it matters, I’m a pretty avid reader and always on the lookout for new authors and series (otherwise I just end up reading the same hundred books or so). This past Friday morning, I reached out to Scholastic on Twitter and asked if they had any new YA fiction authors or series they’d recommend. Instead of just responding with a couple of quick recommendations, they did me one better by retweeting my question to their followers and asking them to help me out. The response was overwhelming in a good way, and reaffirmed not only my love for Scholastic, but also my love for Twitter.
Because it was such an awesome list, I figured I’d share it with you as well. Stay tuned for my reactions and reviews as I work through the list this Spring!
If you’re interested in learning more about the authors listed above, I’ve added hyperlinks to their various Twitter accounts, or to make it easy on yourself, you can just follow my YA Author list here. I’m always looking for more authors and series to add to the list, so if you have any recommendations of your own, please feel free to add them in the comments below!
I’m pretty late to the e-book party, but now that I’m here, I have to say it’s a pretty awesome party. My first foray into the world of digital books was Prince of Wolves, book one of The Grey Wolves series by Quinn Loftis. I was breaking in my brand-spanking-new iPad over the Christmas break, and was searching for some free books to read while on my way to Seattle.
Now I know you have to take “free” anything with a grain of salt, but even with keeping that in mind I wasn’t very impressed with the quality of free titles available. I wasn’t really interested in recipe books, I’ve read most of the “classics” more times than I can count, and wasn’t really chomping at the bit to delve into any of the 50 Shades of Gray spin-offs either.
I was getting desperate to find something that spoke to my love of the fantasy and paranormal genres, when I stumbled across the description for Prince of Wolves, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it actually sounded like a worthwhile read. Also surprisingly, the entire book (not just selected chapters) was available through the iTunes store as a free download, so I thought, “What the hell. Let’s try it out.”
I wish I could say that I jumped into the book right then and there, but forces on the plane (namely a VERY talkative seat mate) kept me from reading or doing anything enjoyable for the remainder of my journey. It wasn’t until much later (two weeks later in fact) that I was finally able to find thirty minutes or so of quiet time to give Prince of Wolves a go. At least, that was the plan. What happened instead is that I began reading Prince of Wolves and became so engrossed in the characters that I couldn’t put it down until I’d read the entire book, in one sitting. I was so intrigued by the first book, that I downloaded the second the next day, and the third through fifth books the day after that, all-in-all devouring all five books currently available in the series in less than a week.
So what was it about the book that so drew me in…?
SPOILER WARNING: The following descriptions may contain some spoilers, although I’ll try to keep them to a minimum. That being said, nobody’s perfect so read on at your own peril.
Prince of Wolves Summary: The story begins in the home of 17-year-old Jacque Pierce as she gets ready to stake out the arrival of a new foreign exchange student who is moving in across the street. Armed with binoculars (a requirement for every good stakeout) she peers out her window to get the scoop for her BFFs, and is startled to find that not only is the new guy breathtakingly hot, and maybe just maybe something more than human.
Little does Jacque realize how many changes are in store for her and her friends, as the mysterious exchange student’s arrival serves as the catalyst for drastic changes in her sleepy little Texas town. Haunted by a strange voice in her mind, and struggling against the intense connection she feels to Fane (the new guy), Jacque find herself in an unsolicited love triangle as a complete stranger from her hometown challenges Fane to a battle to the death to win Jacque as a mate?!
As a pack of paranormals descend on the town in preparation for the duel, Jacque struggles to make sense of the sudden knowledge that beings she believed only existed in myth are not only real, but ready to fight to the death for the honor of marking her as their own. Can Jacque escape her fate? And when all is said and done, will she want to?
To find out, you’ll have to read Prince of Wolves for yourself!
My Reactions: It’s not often that I say what I’m about to say, but one of the things I loved most about this book was the dialogue, not only between Jacque, Sally and Jen (three best friends who’ve known each other since childhood and obviously have an easy rapport), but also the dialogue between Jacque and Fane (especially when Fane peppered in Romanian endearments – it sent shivers down my spine). The sarcastic comments, slang (most of it anyway) and quippy side conversations felt very real to me, even though they might seem a little overdone to others. Perhaps it’s because I still have vivid memories of being pretty dramatic (okay, especially melodramatic) in my teen years, but I couldn’t help but be drawn to Jen’s outlandish statements and Sally’s (mostly) patient silencing of Jen’s constant stream inappropriate, innuendo-laden comments.
There was also a real sense of that awkward teen attraction I think nearly everyone has experienced for themselves, and I found Fane and Jacque’s emotion/attraction-charged interest in one another to be pretty spot-on, especially when you add the usual teen hormonal complex to a super-intense, supernatural mate bond. ::insert sexy growl here::
One tiny drawback of this e-published book was the fact that it had a couple of instances that set off my grammar siren, and some descriptions/word play that were repetitive, but to be honest, the story held me so transfixed and was so enjoyable that any critique on the book just feels nit-picky.
As I read through other books in the series, I realized I’d felt these feelings before – when I went back and reread J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter, The Sorceror’s Stone. Once you had the other books to compare against, you realized that she was making huge strides as a writer as her story developed. Quinn Loftis’s books have a similar feel to me now that I’ve finished off all the books in the series (to-date, that is).
Another aspect of the story that I REALLY dig is the mental bond between Fane and Jacque. I’ve been a sucker for romance via telepathy since my dad handed me Rowan by Anne McCaffrey but strangely enough, I haven’t seen many writers use that type of connection between their characters. And while the thought of mental dialogue seems like it could get overly cheesy pretty quickly, Quinn does a great job of keeping those conversations believable – especially the awkward thoughts that Jacque doesn’t realize she’s transmitting until too late (so adorable!).
So I guess I’ve said all this, to really say this – if you’re looking for an enjoyable read for your Saturday or Sunday afternoon, featuring a pack of sexy wolf boys, teen angst, telepathy, and an impending duel that will have you biting your nails in suspense, I definitely recommend checking out Prince of Wolves.
And while you’re checking out those links so you can download your own copy, be sure to stay tuned for my review of Blood Rites, Book 2 of The Grey Wolves series. I’ll have it up on the blog over the weekend!