Snowball Fight

We’re the type of couple who hole up when bad weather hits. Yesterday, we had our first multiple inches of snowfall this year, and instead of staying in, we went outside for a snowball fight.

We have winter gear from this one time we attempted to go skiing (that’s a long story) and it has been in a container under our bed ever since. We grabbed all of our gear from under the bed and got ready to brave the weather. After we were dressed, we were admiring our cold-weather gear and had the Quote of the Day:

Amanda: I look like the captain of a fishing ship.
Adam: Aye aye, Captain.

We walked out into the back yard and laid down the ground rules:
1. There are no rules.
2. Ok, not in the face.

Snow Warrior Adam

The snow was a loose powder, not very optimal for packing snow balls, but it was great for throwing powder and the occasional decent snowball. As a side benefit, a lot of the snow that was grabbed was off the top of our cars, so we cleared the snow from the cars while having a blast.

Snow Warrior Amanda

Before heading outside, Amanda prepped hot chocolate from the leftovers of the Hot Cocoa Bar and put them in the microwave. When we got in, we warmed up the hot chocolate, then piled blankets on top of us on the couch to get cozy and continue our Orphan Black marathon.

delicious, delicious hot chocolate

It was one of the coldest dates we’ve had so far, but it was the most fun we’ve ever had cleaning snow off the cars. With a bunch of snow coming in this weekend, we have more snow activities planned, so stay tuned!

Sentinels of the Multiverse

Tonight’s Tabletop Tuesday activity is Sentinels of the Multiverse. Sentinels is a cooperative card game where the players are super heroes trying to beat a super villain before he completes his diabolical plot. We were backers of this game way back when it was on Kickstarter. We have the Second Edition, plus the Rook City, Infernal Relics, and Shattered Timelines expansions because the game is so much fun and has a great replay value. The Second Edition box came with plenty of storage room for the expansions, but we have gradually completely filled it up. The game is set in a (mostly) fictional comic book universe. The cards are given flavor texts from “issues” of the comics, but those comics, for the most part, don’t exist. They have released a few issues with different characters’ back stories though, and they are fun reads.

((Editor’s note: I have no idea why, but our camera decided that we live on Krypton under the light of a red sun, so these pictures are not the accurate colors.))
Sentinels of the Multiverse Box

Each game starts by choosing a villain to fight, an environment to fight in, and super heroes for the characters to play. You can randomize any of these for a more challenging game. For our game today, I played as The Mighty Ra, God of the Sun and Amanda chose The Inhuman Tempest. We had to foil Baron Blade’s attempt to crash the moon into the Earth from his secret base in Atlantis.

Ra and Tempest player cards

Ra’s theme is the Sun, so he is a pretty straight-forward fire damage nuker. All of his cards and abilities revolve around preventing and dealing fire damage, and more fire damage. Tempest is a hybrid damage and support character. His theme is storms, be they healing rains to help the players, violent floods to wipe away the environment, or brutal lightning to destroy his enemies. Together, they are a pretty strong team.

Baron Blade is attempting to use his mad science to drag the Moon into the Earth. Why, you ask? Does a mad scientist really need a reason? He has a lot of damage prevention mechanics, including force fields and floating defense stations. To simulate a timer for his plot to be complete, once 15 of his cards are in his discard pile, he succeeds. What the players have to do is reduce him to 0 HP before that happens. Because a villain is never really down and out, each boss has two different modes for every game. Once Baron Blade’s first plot is defeated, he hops in a mech suit and attempts to destroy the heroes. The players then have to drop him to zero health again before they all die. And the players have to do all of this while handling whatever the environment throws at them as well.

Since the game is cooperative, the villain plays automatically, as does the environment. It is really good game design. First, the villain takes his turn, simulating the villain doing something the heroes have to react to, in typical comic book fashion. The villains turn is accomplished by playing the top card of the villains deck and doing whatever the card says to do. Next, the players take their turn in order around the table. Each player turn consists of playing one card from the hand, using one of the character’s powers, and drawing one card. There are also cards that can affect what happens at the start and at the end of turns.

Sentinels of the Multiverse game play

We actually got fairly unlucky this game. Baron Blade is ranked as one of the easiest bosses to defeat, and Atlantis isn’t usually that bad either, but the combination of the boss and the environment proved to be more than our heroes could manage. Since we chose to fight him in Atlantis, we had to deal with toxic seaweed, a kraken, and a few other of the worst hazards Atlantis had to offer in the first couple turns. We also got an environment card that allowed us to do double of everything every turn (play two cards, use two powers, and draw two cards), but the villain got to play at the start of every turn as well. That turned out to be our downfall. Our hands were not very good at the start, which is why we left the card in play to get through our decks a bit to find the cards we needed. However, we didn’t draw the cards we needed, so we didn’t have quite enough damage and cleanup to handle how fast Baron Blade built up from playing each turn. We finally got rid of that effect, but we were already too far behind the curve to recover.

The kraken killed me, and we only had one or two more turns before Baron Blade’s plan succeeded, and we knew we were going to lose. But heroes can’t lose, so, deus ex machina, we completely disregarded the rules and decided to have some fun (aka, cheated really, really hard). Since I was dead, Amanda used a power to heal all players, and due to a “clerical error”, instead of healing 2 HP, I healed 25. Then, we enacted the one-card-for-a-mulligan rule, where you can discard a card and search your deck for any four cards you want and put them into your hand, oh, and play two of those now, again due to “clerical errors”. Did I say two? I meant four. And draw two cards. Then, because the villain has no idea what’s going on, he skips a turn. And the environment skips its turn too, because it also has no idea what’s going on. After that, we declared the “I win” rule, so we automatically won and the Earth was saved!

Yeah, yeah. We lost. Blah, blah, blah. But it was a lot of fun being silly in that loss. It is definitely one of the most memorable games of Sentinels we’ve ever played, and since our goal for the year is making memories, I’m going to count this as a win.

Current record:
Cooperative: 2 wins, 0 losses

Links:
Buy Sentinels of the Multiverse from Amazon

Die Hard

Tonight’s Monday Movie Madness was both sad and awesome. Last week, I found out that Alan Rickman had passed away from checking the news while I was getting ready for work. It was so important that I woke Amanda up to tell her the news. We both hate mornings (a lot), but rather than grumble at me for waking her up, Amanda got up and had to spend a bunch of time watching interviews of Alan Rickman on YouTube. We knew our next movie night needed to be one of his. So tonight, in memory of Alan Rickman, we watched Die Hard.

d

We purchased the 25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition of the Die Hard movies on Blu-Ray before Christmas to marathon them over the break. However, we got busy with the holiday rush and weren’t able to squeeze it in (maybe because we were marathoning Harry Potter, maybe) so it was sitting on our shelf waiting for us.

This movie is almost 30 years old and is still completely fantastic. It also looks great on Blu-Ray. It brings back the classic 80s action movie nostalgia every time we watch it. We both commented how it catches us off guard every time we see Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman from earlier in their careers after we have spent many years enjoying their films and gotten used to seeing their older selves.

Normally in our Monday Movie Madness posts, I like to give a little synopsis teaser of the plot to encourage you to watch it, but I’m not going to do that for Die Hard. Die Hard can speak for itself. Instead, I’ll say that if you haven’t seen Bruce Willis as John McClane and Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber, you should cancel your next date night plan and watch Die Hard instead. You’ll thank us for it later.

Links:
Buy Die Hard 25th Anniversary Collection on Blu Ray from Amazon

Humane Society

Today, our date night was actually a date day. We both love animals, as you have probably guessed from the cat that frequently photo bombs us. One of our favorite local charities, the Humane Society, is always looking for volunteers to help out, so we spent a couple hours volunteering.

We signed up to volunteer on their website and they gave us a window of time to come help. When we arrived in the early afternoon, we were greeted by the staff, who asked us how we would like to help. We told them that we would do whatever they needed most, and as luck would have it, what they needed most was for someone to spend some time playing with the kittens.

kittens on the cat tree

Today we hung out with two cute kittens that are only a couple months old. Oh man, kittens have so much energy. We had forgotten about kitten energy since it has been a few years since Gizmo was one. They loved playing with the toys on strings, so we ran them all over the room chasing after the toys.

omnomnom string tastes good

They also spent a lot of time climbing up us, using us as giant kitten jungle gyms. The black kitten at one time had climbed all the way from the ground to Amanda’s shoulders.

Adam being used as a kitten jungle gym

Once they finally ran out of energy, they became extremely cuddly. The gray kitten ran out first and meowed until Amanda picked her up and held her. The black kitten wasn’t far behind. He sat on my shoe and meowed until I picked him up and held him. Then, they wanted to climb all over us again, and ended up on our shoulders multiple times before settling down in our arms. I was standing near a window in the room and the kittens both climbed over onto me and decided to curl up and just watch out the window as everything went by.

Kittens looking out the window

It was a great way to spend a a couple hours with each other, and also making the day brighter for some pets in need. The only problem was that we were really tempted to bring home two new friends for Gizmo. If you have a few hours to spare, your local no-kill animal shelter would love to have you!

Arcade

Quarters and tickets and blinking lights. Oh my. Our date destination tonight was a local arcade. We’ve played arcade games on cruise ships and amusement parks, but this is the first time we’ve been to a stand-alone arcade together. The great part of arcade dates is that you can set a spending limit up front when you get quarters.

Arcade

The first game we played was the Change Machine game, which we lost. We brought a $10 bill as our spending limit for the date, but the change machine only accepted $1 and $5 bills, so back out to the car we went to raid our wallets for smaller bills. We came up with a $5 and 5 $1s, and back to the change machine we went. We tried putting a few different bills in the machine, but it didn’t work. I’ve never lost a Change Machine game before, let alone twice in a row. We wandered around the arcade and found another change machine that actually worked, so we got a big handful of quarters, finally getting the best of the Change Machine game.

handful of quarters

Our first game was skee ball. In classic arcade fashion, I dropped my first quarter in and the machine ate it. I went over to the attendant and he got my quarter back, then told me that machine was finicky. I tried another machine and was on my way. Amanda won this game with 80 points compared to my 50 points. Combined, we got 9 tickets from this game.

Next, we tried our luck at the Cyclone. This game has a light spinning around a giant circle. You have a button to press when the light gets near you and you get tickets based on how close to a mark that the light stops. Neither of us got very close and only managed to get about 10 tickets.

Beside that machine was a Wheel of Fortune game that was similar to the Cyclone, but instead of getting a specific number of tickets for hitting the right spot, there was a giant wheel of numbers in the middle that would spin and give however many tickets were on where the wheel landed. We both played this game twice because we got so close. On my second spin, I hit the “spin” mark and the wheel started spinning. It almost landed on 300, but clicked over to 50 at the last second…

SpinZone

and out came 50 tickets.

50 tickets.  All the tickets.

After that, we tried our hand at basketball. We definitely shouldn’t give up our day jobs to join the NBA. Next, we played a variety of classic arcade fighting games, including Tekken 5, SVC Chaos, and Marvel vs Capcom. In Tekken 5, I played as Law and Amanda played as Xiaoyu. She fought the Law, and she won. Amanda played a few rounds against the computer before losing and moving on to the next game, which she also won. I won the third game and went on to get 16th place against the computer.

Amanda fought the Law and won.

We wandered around and dropped quarters into a few more random games, but didn’t win anything from them. We got down to our final quarter and decided to play the Wheel of Fortune game again to see if we could get lucky and get another spin. Unfortunately, we did not.

Handful of tickets

We turned our handful of quarters into a handful of tickets, and had a lot of fun in the process.

Hot Cocoa Bar

Tonight’s date was one we’ve been looking forward to for a while: we made a hot chocolate bar. We have been waiting for the weather to get colder to do this date, which has become one of our winter traditions. The forecast currently claims the temperature is barely going to be above freezing all week, so to stay warm, we’re going to be drinking lots of hot chocolate.

hot cocoa bar ingredients

We got a set of ice cream dishes as a wedding gift that are the perfect size for holding toppings for our hot chocolate. For our bar, we broke up chunks of dark chocolate in one dish, added marshmallows to another, and crushed up a few candy canes we had left over from Christmas for our third bowl. After we are done tonight, we’ll cover these with some foil and have them available for hot cocoa for the next few days. We also have some chocolate syrup, caramel syrup, and whipped cream to top our hot chocolate, and some salted caramel Bailey’s Irish Cream to mix in, but those will all stay in the refrigerator.

Hot cocoa bar display

I took the easy way out and used pre-packaged hot chocolate mix for mine. I added some of the dark chocolate and crushed candy cane to my mug with the water, then microwaved it to heat it up. I added the hot chocolate mix and stirred until it was fully dissolved. I added a splash of the salted caramel Bailey’s, then topped mine with a little whipped cream, marshmallows, and drizzled on caramel syrup. Amanda made her hot chocolate mix from scratch. She added cocoa powder, sugar, and a dash of vanilla to a mix of almond milk and water, which she then heated up in the microwave. She topped hers with marshmallows and dark chocolate shavings.

Hot cocoa bar mugs

This date is easy to set up, and provides multiple evenings of enjoyment. Curling up on the couch together with nice, warm cups of hot chocolate is a great way to beat the cold. We spent a while talking about our days, then started watching season one of Orphan Black again to get ready for the new season.

Mario Kart 8

Our Video Game Thursday game du jour is Mario Kart 8. We really enjoy this game and have spent hours playing together, even though we got it completely by accident.

On Black Friday, we saw that Target had a Wii U bundle that included the console, Super Smash Brothers, and Splatoon. We didn’t have a Wii U, but had been wanting to play those games for a while. The two games being included with the system made the whole package enough of a bargain that we finally decided to get one. While looking around online, Amanda found that Target had a reservation system for certain items, including the bundle, during their Black Friday sale. To avoid some of the chaos of Black Friday, we ordered it online so we could just walk in and pick it up.

When Amanda went to the store to get it, the employees looked all over, but couldn’t find our Wii U. Eventually, they figured out that someone had accidentally put the units set aside from the reservations out in the store. Oops. To our good fortune, they did still have Wii U consoles, but they only came bundled with Mario Kart 8 instead of the other two games. The manager swapped out our preorder bundle for the Mario Kart 8 bundle and gave us a copy of Splatoon. We later bought Super Smash Brothers with a gift card given to Amanda for her trouble. Long story short, we ended up with a Wii U, both games we originally wanted, and Mario Kart 8 with both DLC packs as a bonus. Thanks, Target!

Mario Kart 8 loading screen

Since we’ve gotten it, we’ve unlocked all the characters. So for our date tonight, Amanda played Isabelle and the Villager from Animal Crossing and I played Link from Legend of Zelda. This game is great for multiplayer because it has a variety of game modes to play. We started with a 100 cc Grand Prix, a race between us and computer players to win four races. We each won a cup, and since Amanda won all four of the first cup’s races, we got a 3 star trophy.

MushroomCup
FlowerCup

After a few rounds of that, we raced just against each other in a VS race. You’re able to set the number of computers in this race mode, so we chose just us and smack talk was thrown down. Our cat, Gizmo, hung out with us while we raced.

GizmoWiiU

Then we tried the Battle mode. Each player is given three balloons at the start. The goal is to pop your rival’s balloons within a certain time limit. Running off the course costs you balloons, as does getting hit by shells and other power ups. These mini-races devolved into laughing fits (as every great date night should) as we stated trying to track each other down across the course once we acquired the triple shell power up that we wanted, which resulted in so much more smack talk.

Mario Kart 8 is a great date night and offers so many choices for different ways to play. On another date night, we will have to try the team race mode, which we didn’t get to tonight.

Links:
Buy Mario Kart 8 on Amazon

Powerball and Puzzle

We don’t gamble much, but today, we had a billion and a half reasons to. We bought a couple tickets and let the computer pick the five main numbers, but we picked the Powerball numbers.

powerballticket

The fun part of this date was imagining all the things we would do with the money. Here are our top 5:

1. Pay off all of our debts.
2. Pay off all the debts for family and friends.
3. Build our dream house in a dream location. That spawned an interesting conversation about house features and location features, which we intend to revisit for a future, longer date.
4. Buy new cars. I want a Tesla Model S and Amanda wants a Pontiac Sunfire.
5. Travel the world for a year. The house will take time to build anyway.

powerball

While we were waiting for the drawing and chatting about how we were going to spend our winnings when we definitely hit the jackpot, we finished the puzzle from last night.

As the numbers were called, we knew we didn’t win the jackpot, but we did get the Powerball correct. So in all, we came out $1 ahead, and I’ll forever claim that we won the Powerball.

Legend of Zelda Puzzle

For tonight’s Tabletop Tuesday, we did a 550 piece Legend of Zelda puzzle. Puzzles make a great date because they allow you to work together toward a common goal, and when you’re finished, you have a nice display to remind you of your hard work together.

zeldapuzzlebox

The puzzle we chose is the Collector’s Puzzle of a Legend of Zelda Map.  We both really enjoy the look of cartographic wall art and the Legend of Zelda franchise. The puzzle featured the fictional language of Hylian among the familiar details of the map. We took the time honored approach of trying to do the border before moving onto the inside pieces.

gizmopuzzle
It was surprisingly a challenging puzzle due to the edges being the same color and pattern, as well as the monochrome design. We should have started earlier in the evening, because we didn’t complete it even after almost 5 hours of work.  It is highly detailed and has many pieces. We’re looking forward to finishing it on a future date night and getting a frame to place it in our house.

puzzle

Galaxy Quest

Today starts another line in our series of dates: Monday Movie Madness. We both really enjoy movies and have gathered a nice collection of movies we enjoy. Unfortunately, for too long, they have sat on the shelves as decoration without being watched. Won’t someone think of the poor movies? So this year, every Monday but the first each month (that one being reserved for our Taste Of dates), we’re going to rewatch one of the movies from our collection.

Galaxy Quest

We recently heard that Amazon Studios is working on a pilot for a Galaxy Quest TV series, which made us want to watch the Galaxy Quest movie again. Luckily, it’s in our collection. We made a quick dinner including salads we made last night, then settled on the couch for a movie night.

Salad from our Meal Prep date

Galaxy Quest was released just over 16 ago in December of 1999, but it is still fantastic today. Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, and Daryl Mitchell play the cast of a fictional sci-fi show called Galaxy Quest, exploring space on their ship, the NSEA Protector. A race of naive aliens led by Enrico Colantoni see the broadcast of the show and pattern their society off the fictional society of the show. When they get in trouble with an aggressive alien warlord, they turn to the crew of the NSEA Protector to help. They take the cast to space, not knowing they are just actors and not actually the characters they played on TV. Hilarity ensues.

The movie is good, clean fun for anyone, especially fans of Star Trek or similar shows. It showcases a lot of the stereotypes of fandom and the genre in general, such as Tim Allen’s shirt getting ripped during a fight, something that happened to Captain Kirk frequently in Star Trek. It’s definitely worth watching a few times, which is why it is in our collection.

This was a fun date and made us even more excited for the show. Do you have a collection of movies that are as neglected as ours? Let us know about them in the comments.

Links:
Announcement of Galaxy Quest on Amazon Studios
Buy Galaxy Quest from Amazon