Game of Thrones Feast

I mentioned that we had a big party planned this weekend, and oh man, it was a big one. We’re big Game of Thrones fans. While it is airing, we watch with our friends every week, then spend a ton of time talking about everything. Last year, we got this crazy idea to have a medieval-style feast for the premier. It turned out fantastic, so we knew we had to do it again this year. Unfortunately, Amanda was out of town last week and we weren’t sure she was going to make it back in time for the premier, so we decided to push the feast to this week.

Obviously, for a Game of Thrones feast, we have to watch Game of Thrones, but, we decided to make a whole day of it. Since Saturday was International Tabletop Day, we decided to play some board games to kick off the day. What was supposed to be a few different games turned into a single marathon game of Run, Fight or Die. There was a heated debated over who the Heroic Dog belonged to (if we go by who ended up with him, he belongs to me), the most massive overflow of zombies, a zombie-proof van that kept getting stolen, and possibly the worst conditions that you could have with a zombie apocalypse: a full moon and really alert zombies. Overall, it was a lot of fun.

Afterwards, we spent a while playing Word Gush, the geeky “guess the word” game app made by Loot Crate. We really like Loot Crate. They get us. This app? It gets us. It’s freely available on Android and iOS, with the option to buy additional categories of clues. The free version ha great categories like movies, toys, super heroes, and comic books. There is also a charades mode, which we can guarantee will make you laugh. We took turns going around the room being the guesser while everyone else shouted out clues (or performed ridiculous, ridiculous actions for charades). After a few rounds each, we were hungry, so it was dinner time.

Our friend Cathy is a great cook. She put together a mouth-watering menu of honey-glazed chicken drumsticks topped with raisins, roasted mixed vegetables, rustic bread, and a chilled apple soup. We brought the same dish as last year: our take on the Sansa Salad (recipe below), an herb-infused salad we found on the Game of Thrones food blog Inn at the Crossroads. Also, we bought a few kinds of the official Game of Thrones beers brewed by Brewery Ommegang, so we enjoyed the Iron Throne blonde ale with dinner, saving the other 2 varieties for the coming weeks. For dessert, there was a delicious warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream.

After dinner, we played a few more rounds of Word Gush. For those keeping score at home, today has been about tabletop games, mobile party games, and a giant feast. For any other day, that’d be enough, but there is only one thing we say to Death: not today. How do you get even more epic from here? How about spending some time with the Clone Club? Yeah, we went there: we watched the most recent episode of Orphan Black. And a fantastic episode it was. There were some fun Helena moments, some focused-up Alison moments, and Sarah is always off doing what Sarah does best: getting into trouble. I won’t say anything more to avoid spoilers, but that show is amazing and you should watch it.

Finally, after we finished the episode of Orphan Black, we got to our feast’s namesake: Game of Thrones. Since this is being posted so soon after the episode aired, I’m not going to say much about this episode to avoid spoilers, but after it was over, we discussed all of the amazing scenes and plot points and came to the conclusion that this episode was in the top 5 best GoT episodes ever, and arguably even in the top 3. If anyone from Game of Thrones (either in front of or behind the camera) ever happens to read this, you guys are awesome.

Here is the recipe for our take on the Sansa Salad, which yields 6 servings.

  • 3 cups leaf lettuce, hand shredded
  • 3 cups arugula, hand shredded
  • 3 cups spinach, hand shredded
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 6 ounces blueberries
  • 3-4 ounces walnut pieces
  • raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing

Hand shred all of your salad greens and mix them together thoroughly in a large salad bowl. Sprinkle on the chopped, fresh herbs and mix thoroughly again. Top with blueberries and walnuts. Serve with raspberry vinaigrette on the side so the greens don’t wilt in the salad bowl while you’re eating. (That might have happened to us last year. Oops.)

Today’s date was so long, but so fantastic. It’s always great to spend so much time with each other and with friends, especially feeding all of our geeky habits, and our stomachs.

Buy Run, Fight, or Die on Amazon
Sansa Salad recipe from Inn at the Crossroads
Iron Throne blonde ale from Brewery Ommegang

Triumphant Return of Puzzle Mania

Our poor, poor puzzle addiction. This whole time that we’ve been too busy to post, we’ve also been too busy to finish puzzles. My friends, the drought is officially over. We started Thomas Kinkade’s Lady and the Tramp puzzle… Hold on. I actually have to go look at that post to find the date… Wow, all the way back at the beginning of February. It has been sitting on our puzzle board (a repurposed shelf that we didn’t use from a prefab cabinet) since then, just mocking us. Tonight, we finally conquered it.

Similarly to last time, we pulled up a high-res image of the finished work on our TV, but this time we focused in to a small section at a time to find the pieces missing from that area. That helped for a little while since we hadn’t placed a few pieces in color transition areas and they were really stumping us. Finally, we got down to the last few (30 or so) pieces and separated them into shapes to start trying to match a few holes we had across the board. We were convinced for a while that we were missing a bunch of pieces because the ones we had weren’t fitting. We even (unfairly) blamed the cat for walking off with a few pieces (though he never did admit it), but by some miracle, even after all this time of the puzzle sitting out, every single piece was there and the puzzle came together at last. It always feels good to complete a puzzle, but this time especially since it has been so long since we started.

Completed Lady and the Tramp puzzle

Our next puzzle is on loan to us from our friends. They either like us or hate us, but we can’t tell which. The Doctor Who fans among us will probably remember the Vincent Van Gogh episode, and the follow-up painting of the TARDIS exploding as part of the Season 5 finale. They loaned us a puzzle of that painting. It’s going to take us a whole weekend (or maybe longer) to put that together. It’s nothing but white, black, dark blue, orange, and yellow. Puzzle Mania marches on…

Buy Thomas Kinkade Disney 4-in-1 puzzle from Amazon

Spring Walk In The Park

Tonight, we revived another of our favorite traditions: evening walks in the park. Even though it’s been Spring for weeks now, the weather has been a weird back and forth of rain and cold, so we haven’t done much outdoors. It was a bit chilly tonight still, but nice enough to spend some time outdoors together.

Greenery in the park

We’ve missed our casual evening walks. They are a nice time for us to get a bit of exercise, get some fresh air, and talk about our days and upcoming events. Tonight, we chatted about our excitement for the vacation that we planned a few days ago. We also planned a bit for a party this weekend (look forward to that post in a few days), and talked about the bachelorette party that Amanda is throwing in a few weeks as part of her matron of honor duties. We also talked about how we really enjoyed seeing some green again. Winter was the last time we were here, so everything was still dull and gray. Spring has breathed life back into the park.

Two Canadian geese

Not only the plants have more life with the season change. The park was buzzing with activity. Lots of kids were out playing and practicing baseball in the various fields around the park. A few joggers and a few families were out on the walking trail. A couple of geese were also enjoying the park. The park has changed a good bit since we were there last. Another T-ball field is in the middle of construction. The old jungle gym equipment is torn out as they are working to replace it. All of the updates are causing a temporary mess, but the changed landscape actually made the walk more interesting, especially as we noticed some of the changes and pointed them out to each other. Now we’re even more excited for walks in the near future to see the progress of the updates.

Pokken Tournament

We’ve picked up a few new games since we posted last. Tonight, picking back up Video Game Thursday, we played Pokken Tournament. This game is half Pokemon, half Tekken and all awesome. It’s a fighting game where you get to battle as a Pokemon. Yes, it’s as fun as it sounds.

Pikachu Libre Battle

One of the best parts of this game is Pikachu Libre. It’s Mexican Wrestler Pikachu. It’s silly and absurd and just all-around fun. For our first battle, we both chose Pikachu Libre, because we had to. Spoilers: we are really bad at this game. Amanda, however, is way better at button mashing than me, so she won the first round.

Pikachu Libre

They have a selection of around 20 different Pokemon to choose from, so each round we bounced around and chose different contestants. We slowly got better, but it was always a bit of a learning curve to figure out the new move set of each of the new Pokemon. We probably should have stuck with one or two each. Each Pokemon also has a big power-up finishing move which works differently for each Pokemon. Pikachu Libre, our favorite finisher, sticks his opponent into a wrestling ring, climbs to the top rope, and does a lightning-powered flip onto the other player for massive damage. Have I mentioned how ridiculous and fun this game is?

Score of 5 to 5.

At the end of 10 rounds, we finished evenly matched. Overall, the game was really fun playing local multiplayer. The only complaint I have is that the second player doesn’t get an account for local battles, so it’s treated as a random guest battle. It’d be great to save stats over time, or even earn experience by battling against friends locally.

The game also contains a good single player mode that I played a bit when we first got the game. You choose a single Pokemon and battle with it in different classes of opponents to work your way up the ladders and make it to harder opponents, then harder categories. This brings in more of the Pokemon feel because as you battle, you gain experience to be able to customize the stats of your faithful companion. There is also an online mode that we didn’t try out from being really, really inexperienced.

We’ll definitely play more of this game, especially for more Pikachu Libre.

Buy Pokken Tournament for Wii U on Amazon

Hello again

Rise and shine, campers! Wait, we’ve already done that. Hello again, daters and date-ettes. Amanda and I have been ridiculously busy and have fallen behind on our dating-post responsibilities. That ends today. We’ve caught back up with life and now that the weather is nice, we have a full schedule of amazing dates planned again. We’re bringing back the oldies-but-goodies of Monday Movie Madness, Tabletop Tuesday, and Video Game Thursday. In addition, there are a bunch of great movies coming out in the next couple months, so lots of midnight premiers. Our local drive-in is back in full swing. We are finally going to make it to see the symphony (spoilers: the music of Harry Potter). Plus, we have lots more on tap. Sorry about the delay, but we’re back! Expect the first post tomorrow.

Bill Engvall

Before we had issues with buying tickets and then the weather not cooperating, Amanda bought tickets to a few events. We had sworn off buying any more since the weather had been so lousy every time we wanted to go do anything, but the last one we already picked out was a Bill Engvall comedy show. On Sunday, the forecast was calling for snow, but we were lucky and the weather stayed nice while we were traveling. On a related note, oh man, are we excited about Spring coming so we can go out and travel for date night more often.

Bill Engvall Tickets

The show was in Wheeling, WV at the Capitol Theatre. And of course, since we went anywhere, we had a minor parking fiasco. We thought there was a parking garage directly beside the theater, but when we pulled in to the small entrance, it turned out to be closed. We were kind of stuck trying to back out against traffic, but a nice stranger happened to be walking by and held traffic for a few seconds so we could get back out onto the road. Thank you, friend. We circled around and found a parking garage a couple blocks away. Not too bad.

We got inside and picked up our tickets from will call. After waiting in line for some popcorn, we sat down in our balcony seats, and waited for the show. The theater is old and gorgeous. Being up in the balcony gave us a marvelous view of the stage as well as the surrounding ornate decorations, which stretched from stage to ceiling. We didn’t have long to admire the scenery before the show started.

I’ve been a fan of Bill Engvall for a long time. His “Here’s Your Sign” routines, as well as his very down-to-earth style and family-oriented jokes, have given me many laughs over the years. I was really excited to finally get to see him live. His live show was even better than his recorded material because he was laughing a lot right along with us, which made the show even more personal. He talked about getting older (something we don’t relate to yet, but could still laugh along with), married life, family life, his time on Dancing With The Stars, and building his new house. He rounded off the show with a couple of new “Here’s Your Sign” stories, which were great audience pleasers. Our favorite bit was about how he and his wife started having date night again, but we might be a little biased on the subject. The show was hilarious throughout and we both had a fantastic time.

This was our also our first time ever using Groupon. We were nervous about getting random seats, but the price of $15 each was so great that we couldn’t pass it up. (That price wasn’t printed on the tickets, so it was not $0, like the image above shows.) Our seats ended up being the best in the section that we chose, so we’ve overcome our initial trepidations, and we’re looking forward to using future Groupons. We’ve been to a number of comedy shows, since going to the comedy club is a staple evening activity when we cruise, but this is our first one not at sea. Comedy clubs and shows make for excellent dates and we highly recommend them. Laughter isn’t just the best medicine, it is also a great way to build relationships and lasting memories together.

Bill Engvall’s website
Capitol Theatre’s website

Roller Derby

While looking around for things to do this last weekend, Amanda found that there was a roller derby match nearby. Neither of us had seen roller derby before, so of course we both said “Date night!” The match we went to was the Morgantown Roller Vixens vs. the Ohio Valley Roller Girls at a roller rink near us.

Since the date was a kinda last minute idea, we didn’t look up the rules of the sport, so when we went, we had no idea how a roller derby was played. As luck would have it, we ran into a friend of mine from high school whose wife, another friend of mine from high school, happens to be on the Roller Vixens team, so he described the action for us as it was happening.

The game is played in two 30 minute halves with a 15 minute half time break. Each team has 5 players on the rink at a time, 1 jammer and 4 blockers. The jammer scores one point for each person on the other team she skates past. The blockers try to prevent the other team’s jammer from getting past. The game is played in short bouts called jams.

It is a really cool sport with super interesting players, all of whom had pseudonymous personalities, with names like Abby Castabby, Madea K Jefa, Bohemian Blasphemy, and Rita Repulsa (which is my personal favorite for the Power Rangers reference). They all skated out onto the rink to personality intros read by an announcer, which got the crowd pumped up.

Since my friend was on the Roller Vixens, we were cheering for them. Unfortunately, they had a pretty rough game and lost. It was still a great time, especially getting to see old friends.

Being at the roller derby got us excited for going skating ourselves. We’ve talked about skating before, and have also chatted about the derby a bit with friends who are also now excited for skating. I expect us to be hitting the rink as a big group date pretty soon.

Morgantown Roller Vixens
Roller Derby on Wikipedia. This does a much better job of explaining the sport than I can.

Catching up

We’ve both had a busy week with life and work, which has left us little time to blog. Still, each night we put away some time to have date night. Things have calmed down again, so we are back in blogging business, but you, our faithful readers, have been left out in the date night cold. Here is a short (Amanda’s note: short? lol.) recap for the past week of what we got up to.

Saturday was my company’s Christmas party. Yeah, yeah, Christmas in February. The party is usually scheduled for mid to late January to avoid scheduling conflicts with all of the other festivities going on in December. This year, it happened to be scheduled for that weekend that we got two feet of snow, so it was rescheduled to now. We carpooled with a few friends who also work for the company. The party started at 6 with some casual conversation and greetings from everyone. We caught up with a few other people who work for the company that we don’t see very often. Dinner was served around 7:30. We enjoyed chicken marsala, crab cakes, broiled veggies, salad, and hot rolls, all served buffet style. Dessert was an assortment of cakes, pies, and fruits. The CEO gave a short speech, some funny awards were given out, and a short game of Left Center Right rounded out the night with the overall winner taking home a Fitbit Charge HR. Sadly, we did not win, but it was a quick, fun dice game. The party gave us an excuse to dress up and go out on the town, which we really enjoyed. It was also a lot of fun to take another (albeit short) road trip with friends.

On Sunday, we visited my parents. We’ve mostly been trapped indoors all Winter, as evidenced by our long, long string of indoor date nights. We hadn’t been over to visit my parents since around Christmas, which is way too long. The weather was gorgeous for the drive over to their house, making us super ready for Spring. We arrived early in the afternoon and stayed until about dark chatting and catching up on life. We had a really nice visit, and now that the weather is finally getting better, we’ll be spending more time visiting family. Hi, Mom!

Monday Movie Madness for this week is Idiocracy. A few days ago, Amanda saw this movie mentioned in an article about the presidential primaries, but she had not seen the movie, so she didn’t get the reference. I couldn’t let that stand, so I went over to the DVD shelf to grab it, then realized I didn’t own it. I really couldn’t let that stand, so we bought it on Amazon. The movie describes an average Joe, played by Luke Wilson, who is frozen in an experiment and wakes up hundreds of years in the future. After all of that time, everyone had become increasingly dumb through stupid people having dozens of kids and smart people having very few. When Joe wakes up, he finds his average present-day knowledge makes him the smartest man in the world. After a series of misadventures, he meets President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, played by Terry Crews, who puts him in charge of making food grow. Everyone is about to starve to death because all of the crops are dead and no one can figure out why they won’t grow. This all leads to more comedic misadventures in dealing with the incredibly stupid people of the future. The movie is one of my all-time favorites, so I’d highly recommend watching it if you haven’t. Buy Idiocracy on Amazon. This is a link to the digital copy. For some reason, the DVDs are wildly expensive, so either rent or buy the digital version.

Tabletop Tuesday this week is a classic: Go Fish. We didn’t bother to look up the rules because everyone knows how to play Go Fish, right? We played one round and ended up with a tie. I made a corny fishing pun, which, this many days removed, I can no longer remember. You’ll have to believe me that it was very clever. However, after the round, we sat down and thought about the game we just played and realized nearly every game would end in a tie. It turns out we didn’t remember how to play this game as well as we thought. A quick internet search later, and we had the actual rules. For our first game, we were only matching up pairs of cards. The rules we found online said that you had to have all four of the same card to count it for points. We redealt the cards and started guessing, then started fishing. Knowing the actual rules made the game turn out much differently. Instead of a tie, Amanda ended up thoroughly stomping me, 10 sets to my 3.

On Wednesday, we made 550 paracord survival bracelets using a tutorial we found on Youtube. Amanda bought the supplies for this back in August or September of last year. We had intended to make them before we went on the cruise last year, but, as with most of our projects, we got distracted and didn’t do it. We came across the supplies the other day in our crafting storage area and decided that we should finally make them. This was a really easy and fun project. It took us about an hour total to make both. I made a standard bracelet and Amanda made an anklet, both of us using the standard cobra weave. Amanda showed off her teenage-girl friendship bracelet skills by telling me to tape down one side to prevent it from moving around while I was weaving the cords. The tutorial said to really tighten each loop, so I took that to heart and used as much force as I could to tighten each loop. My finished bracelet is extremely stiff and will hold whatever shape I put it in. Amanda didn’t use nearly as much force on the loops, so her anklet came out much more flexible. We really enjoyed this simple crafting project. I looked around YouTube for some more patterns after we finished. There are a huge number of different weaves and patterns that you can do, so I’ll be making a few more of these in the future just to try out different styles. For the cobra weave, we used about a foot of cord for each inch on our wrists. Being a D&D and Pathfinder geek, I’d love to find a weave that is more dense so I could have 50 feet of rope. None of the weaves I found would give me anything close to that, other than one tutorial I saw for a belt. Oh well. Guess I’ll have to look more into that later.

Video Game Thursday this week is Stardew Valley. This game is taking the internet by storm, and for good reason: it’s a lot of fun. It’s an RPG farming and adventure simulator in the style of Harvest Moon. However, tonight was only part 1 for this date. I use a Linux laptop for most of my day to day computing, and with Steam and video game developers always increasing their Linux support, I’ve even been able to play a few games. Unfortunately, Stardew Valley is not currently supported on Linux. Fortunately though, Steam has the in-house streaming option and I have a Windows machine. Why not just use that machine and skip the laptop? Because it should do what I tell it to, that’s why. So, Amanda played Stardew Valley and I played Make Linux play Stardew Valley. One of us had way more fun than the other. You can guess which one. In between Googling for answers, rebooting, recompiling, and generally cursing my misfortune, I was watching Amanda play. The big advantage of me being behind Amanda is that she learned all of the lessons the hard way and has been able to pass them along to me. She is the Ghost of Stardew Valley Future. Your crops die when the seasons change (except for a few types that we didn’t have) so Amanda lost a few thousand gold worth of crops really early on. She also found a lot of the cool features before me, but I’m not going to mention those because spoilers. It took me until pretty late in the evening to figure out that I had a problem with my wifi driver which was causing the streaming to crash, so I fixed that and went to bed. It seems we have been having more and more frequent issues with setting up games the day of the dates. We’re going to start loading everything and getting it ready before the day we play in the future.

Friday was Stardew Valley: Part 2. Now that my laptop is set up, playing is a breeze. As a pleasant side effect, the fix also got rid of an annoying crash that my wireless card would suffer after being online for a random number of hours, and usually right in the middle of me uploading pictures for a post. I’m mid way into Summer after the date tonight, so here are a couple pointers we’ve learned along the way:

  • Start clear-cutting your trees early. With 50 wood, you can make a chest in your house that gives you 36 slots of storage. Crafting a couple of those will greatly help you at the beginning since your inventory space is so limited.
  • Items will stack to a maximum of 999.
  • Go explore the community center as soon as it is available.
  • Save at least one of everything you get for the first year, especially gold star items, but even trash. Just keep making chests if you run out of space.
  • Start working your way down through the mines as soon as you can. Valuable copper, iron, and gold can be found in the mines, all of which will make your tools better and your farm easier to manage.

There are so many more things to do and see in the game, but we don’t want to spoil too much. You can pick up Stardew Valley for $14.99 on Steam or Good Old Games. Warning: it’s extremely addicting. You’ll wonder where time has gone when you look up and realize it’s 3 AM. But there’s time for just one more day before bed. Crops are coming up, your fishing skill is really close to the next level, you’re almost at another level in the mines, and oh, the festival is coming up. Just one more day…

Well, folks, that mostly catches us up. We’ve had a busy, but great, week. I’m still a tiny bit behind on posts, but expect those, along with your regularly scheduled updates, starting again tomorrow.

Super Smash Bros.

Tonight, we found out how truly terrible we are at Super Smash Bros. We loaded up the game on our Wii U and started playing. We’ve played all of the other games in the series, all the way back to the original for N64. For those, we weren’t very good either, but man we are awful without playing in so long.

Super Smash Bros. is the latest installment of a popular Nintendo series of fighting games that was first released in 1999. You and your date choose a character from many Nintendo franchises (this version has 58 playable characters) and you can customize your battleground, time limit, and additional rules of the game, such as items and AI difficulty.

For our first few games, we selected a character that we enjoyed from the previous versions and then chose a random location to fight. That didn’t go so well. Most of the points we got was from the other person falling off the moving platforms while trying to attack. A lot. Have I mentioned how bad we are at this?

After that, we decided to play a few Pokemon-themed rounds, where we played as different Pokemon on the Pokemon stage. And no Pokemon battle is complete without turning on only Pokeballs items and setting them to high frequency. With those, at least we were doing damage to each other with the Pokemon from the items.

Did I mention we are really bad? We need so much practice. It’s a great date because there are so many characters and so many stages and so many different game modes and so many items. No two rounds are ever the same and the rounds are very fast paced, so you’re always engaged. Super Smash Bros. is one of my all-time favorite games, so we’ll definitely get better as we spend more time playing.

Buy Super Smash Bros. for Wii U on Amazon