Foodie Pen Pal for June!

Oh man, do I ever love my Foodie Pen Pals!

The Lean Green Bean
First, some details. Click on over if you want to sign up, but you have to be sure and get your info in by July 4th!
-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
I’m going to preface this by saying that everything in this picture, with the exception of a little bit of the Mini Pop on the right, is already in my stomach. No sooner had I snapped this picture than I tore into the box of cookies and started scarfing them. They were that delicious.
Once again, I was seriously spoiled by my Foodie Pen Pal, Dianna from Kansas City. She sent me cookies, popped apple chips, mini popped sorghum grains and popped rice cakes. Every one of them were wonderful, low-sodium, healthy snacks that I couldn’t wait to tear into!
The Home Free mini cookies were gone within three days between me and Mister E, the YogaVive strawberry apple chips got nommed in a sitting while we were watching videos, the Magic Pop cake/chips are my go-to gaming snack, and the teeny tiny adorable Mini Pop has been a huge hit with both me AND our birds. Popcorn is way too big for them but these little bitty grains are just perfect for a treat. Plus, it was adorable to watch my cockatiel nibbling a piece of “popcorn.”
The only problem with my delicious snacks is that now that they’re gone I have no idea where to get more. I’m making it my personal mission to either find those Yogavive chips at Whole Foods or make them order me a case. Seriously, those are the best freaking dried apples I have ever had.
Huge thanks to Dianna, I loved EVERYTHING! You should totally become pen pals, too, it’s super-fantastic!
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Week 33: Score

The Trifecta Challenge is to write anything, in whichever form, that is between 33 and 333 words based upon a word and definition given. This week’s word is “score.” My personal challenge is to weave the entries into an actual story. Word count verified by Written? Kitten!

***

As the flight wore on, Sahara checked her phone every few minutes. She wasn’t sure why; she hadn’t had more than a handful of texts since she had been cut off from her friends in California. Now that she was moving again, she fully expected that number to return to zero for at least another few months.

There were a lot of things Sahara had put up with in their attempt to keep her alive. After she’d witnessed a triple murder in the office building where she’d worked, everything had gone to pieces. She thought she’d done the right thing by going to the police but now she wasn’t so sure.

As it turned out, the murders had been a hit by one of the largest organized crime families on the West Coast. Dean had been the junior of the three agents on the case and every one of them knew it wouldn’t be long before someone showed up to take Sahara out of the picture and even the score. It didn’t matter that the man she’d testified against was serving life in prison without parole for the murders, he had friends everywhere that would be happy to help him extend his reach.

I don’t know why they even moved me to Chicago in the first place, she thought as the plane dipped down into the clouds. If I wasn’t safe in Los Angeles, I can’t imagine I was any safer in one of the biggest cities in the country. She shot another look of annoyance at Dean, who was now eating the peanuts she had inadvertently thrown at him. He tried again to give her an encouraging smile and this time she narrowed her eyes at him instead of looking out the window.

“Look,” he said with a sigh, “I know you’re pissed at me. But it’s not going to do either of us any good for you to keep ignoring me.”

“Speak for yourself.”

“I will, if you’ll let me.”

“Nope.”

Week 32: Blue

The Trifecta Challenge is to write anything, in whichever form, that is between 33 and 333 words based upon a word and definition given. This week’s word is “blue.” My personal challenge is to weave the entries into an actual story. Word count verified by Written? Kitten!

***

“Thanks,” Sahara said, taking a packet of peanuts and a cup of soda from the flight attendant. She could hardly stand to look at the smiling young woman in her red and blue uniform and after a moment she found herself relieved to be alone again, staring out the window.

“Everything okay?” Dean sat down in the aisle seat and eyed Sahara’s bag sitting on the empty chair between them. He’d paid for the three seats on their row so they could talk without worrying about people listening to them, but as soon as they had been informed they could leave their seats she had dumped everything possible onto the seat to keep him from sitting beside her. When she didn’t answer him, he tried again. “I know how you feel,” he said. “I liked Chicago too. Having to leave it suddenly like this, it’s only natural to feel a little blue.”

“A little blue? Who are you, my mother?” Sahara tore open the foil pack so hard that it ripped in half, sending a hail of honey roasted peanuts at Dean across the empty seat. “What’s next? Asking me if I want some milk with my snack?”
“I’m sure the stewardess can get you some if you really want it,” Dean said, attempting a smile. Sahara shot him a dirty look and he looked away from her, picking the peanuts out of his lap.

Sahara supposed she should feel bad about snapping at him, but she was finding it hard to work up anything remotely like sympathy. After his lecturing her at the train station about losing her temper with her ex-boss, he had been the one to pull out his gun on a homeless person in the middle of the street. She glanced over at him irritably. It wasn’t her fault they were sitting on a plane to the middle of nowhere, and it was going to be a long time before she let Dean forget that it was his.

An Interesting Sequence of Events

Well, we didn’t get a hold of the PSX yet so my Chrono Cross jones is getting worse. I didn’t feel like starting Cthulhu Saves the World yet so I was looking through XBLM to see what they had that was a little different. That’s how I ended up with Sequence by Iridium Games.

From the screenshot, you might think it’s your standard RPG fare. You’ve got your character’s stats to the left, equipment menus in the center (crafting ingredients and “recipes,” weapons, armor, etc) and your twenty-ish protagonist to the right. Then you come across this:

Whoa. Wait. WHAT?

Yup. Those are the sort of directional arrows one finds in rhythm games like Stepmania and, of course, DDR. But what the hell are they doing inside what looks like a combat screen? Well, that’s where it gets interesting.

The plot is pretty straightforward. Ky, the hero, wakes up in a place crawling with monsters. A female voice over the intercom tells him he has to make it through the seven floors of the Tower before he’ll be released, but isn’t at liberty to tell him anything else. After giving him a tutorial about how the battles work, she directs him to a safe room where the monsters won’t attack him.

In order to move up the Tower, keys have to be crafted along with equipment. Monsters drop items that are used for crafting the weapons, armor, accessories and other key items. They’re also used for crafting scrolls that teach you new spells to use in battle. Crafting is more difficult than most games because it uses your XP instead of money, and there is always a possibility that your attempt will fail. If you do, you don’t lose your items but you do lose the XP. You can increase the percentage that you will succeed, but it also increases the amount of XP you lose so you have to balance the potential loss of a level with the benefit you’re getting from the item.

Combat is a cross between an RPG magic system and Stepmania, with music at different speeds and beats per minute. It ranges from a light piano theme to electronica, and that’s just the first couple of stages. There are three grids you have to keep an eye on; mana, defense, and spells. You switch back and forth between them with the trigger buttons, hit the face buttons (or D pad) in time with the beat, and initiate spells with the left and right bumper buttons. Sound confusing? It is at first, but I got used to it pretty quickly, even though sometimes I’m looking at the wrong grid. It’s fast paced and a little stressful, even at the easiest/slowest level but crazy addictive.

I really like the interface and graphics in this game despite the fact that the words are really hard to read on the screen of our crappy old TV. The characters are pretty much static, but they look good and the voice acting is actually good. Some people have complained about it but I’m going to be they’ve never been forced to watch dubbed anime, a.k.a. the crown prince of really bad voice acting. The fact that an indie game even has voice acting amazed me but with the horrible way the text shows up on our screen, I’m glad they have it. Of course, if you don’t like it there’s a handy option to turn it off.

It’s a shame I can barely read what’s on the screen because there are plenty of clever descriptions for items, a bit like they have in Disgaea, and some pretty great references to internet memes. The first boss is their version of Joseph Ducreux, to which Ky replies “is this a rap battle?”

For me this game has a high replay value because I am determined to get the rhythm right and the items to drop. It doesn’t feel like grinding to me because of that and I’ve gone back to play previous levels just for fun. I’m playing on Easy right now but there are three other levels: Medium, Hard and Spasmodic. I’m kind of afraid of the last one but I have a feeling it – like the entire game – is right up RM^2’s alley. He was ridiculously proficient at DDR.

Like Breath of Death VII, this game is ridiculously inexpensive for what you’re getting. It’s 240 Microsoft Points, which comes out to about $3, and is also available on Steam.

So if you’re looking for a game that is going to gleefully eat up every second of your life because you can’t stop playing it, Sequence just might be the game for you. I’m looking forward to seeing how it ends at some point, if I can ever kill this stupid Fire Ent and make the damn door key for Floor Three. Unless it takes a sharp, terrible turn later, I’m quite comfortable recommending this game. Thumbs up!

Getting Crafty – Guest Post

Today we have another guest post! No, it’s not by my cat this time – though I really should let her do another one – it’s by my friend BecominNeurotic from Band Back Together. She’s an amazing person and a wonderful friend, and has gotten me through some really rough patches. We have a lot in common, but one of the big ones is crafting and that’s what she’s written about for me today. It’s originally from her blog – which you should totally go read – and is a great introduction to her and her writing. Give her some love!

Ever since I started working with The Band, I’ve been working on trying to view life and the hands I’m dealt a bit more positively.

Part of that is finding alternative therapy or ways to distract myself from focusing on my illness.

I’ve had many suggestions, not any without some merit. But I had to find something that spoke to me (and fit into the budget) (shopping sprees were out). And that, my friends, is where Natalie came to my rescue and we really bonded.

She started tweeting about her crafting. And Lordy did that speak to my soul. I was inspired. So I dug out my supplies box from the closet and started dreaming up ideas.

Now, I’ve always been the girl that enjoys giving to people. Whether it’s baked goods or the shirt off my back, I want to make people smile, I NEED to help. And so I made a few crafty things for friends. And the response was huge.

Especially within me.

See, what I didn’t immediately realize was that the crafting wasn’t just helping others. It became my therapy. It’s a way for me to shut out the noise in my head and let my imagination fly. And? I’m helping people. Honestly, I can’t tell you the last time I was so excited about something.

So that’s my alternative therapy. For you it may be yoga or meditation or even exercise. Some respond to shopping or gardening or cleaning. I craft.

And it’s all Natalie’s fault 😉