Nightwish

I’m going to go ahead and apologize for this post being late. Try as I might, I will not be getting this post done tonight because there is just too much to say. I’ve gotten part of it done, but this is probably going to turn into our biggest post yet, including plenty of pictures. In the mean time, enjoy this preview picture:

NIGHTWISH

Sequence

Tabletop Tuesday this week has us playing Sequence. We’ve had the game for a while and have played many times with friends and family, including the most hilariously long losing streak Amanda and I have ever been on. We were playing teams once with Amanda and I on one team, Amanda’s college roommate and her fiance on another team, and Amanda’s college roommate’s parents on the third team. We lost three or four games in a row before anyone noticed, then lost a couple more after that. It was getting late into the night, so everyone else felt bad for us losing so much and they let us super cheat. Somehow, we still lost. The whole night got funnier and funnier as our losing streak dragged on, especially when we lost while cheating. Good times.

Starting Sequence

Sequence is part card game and part board game. It is a cross between Poker, Bingo, and Connect 4. We quickly reread the directions, since it had been a while since we haven’t played since Amanda’s family came down last summer. It was very easy to pick back up. You play with a large deck of mostly standard playing cards, with multiple copies of each card To start, you draw an amount of cards depending on how many people are playing. Since it was just us, we each started with 7 cards. The board is a large grid of spaces marked with the different playing cards. The object of the game is to play cards to cover 5 spaces on the board in a row. There are two spaces for each card on the board, so it involves some strategy. Because there were two of us, we had to make two sequences to win. Each turn, you play a card, place the marker, then draw a card.

With three easy steps, you’d think it’d be easy to remember, but last night, we had a really hard time remembering to draw a card. By the middle of the game, we both were down to 4 or 5 cards in our hands, so we just drew back up to 7. (Amanda’s note: Which is why he won. Because he drew the cards I needed. Obviously. Also, spoilers.) The game took about 25 minutes, but through a couple really lucky draws toward the end, I managed to complete two sequences within a couple turns and won.

Finished Sequence board

Sequence is great for two players or two to three teams of two players each. It’s a really versatile game because of all of the different players it can accommodate. We definitely recommend adding it to your library for your next tabletop date night.

Links:
Buy Sequence on Amazon

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

We subscribed to the DVD plan on Netflix back in January to get La Dolce Vita. Most recently in our queue was The Man from U.N.C.L.E. We saw a huge amount of advertisements for the movie last year while we were in Italy, where a substantial amount of the movie takes place, so we added it to our queue to check it out.

This is a classic Cold-War-era spy movie. Napoleon Solo, American spy extraordinaire, takes on a dangerous mission to cross the Berlin Wall, rescue the daughter of a nuclear scientist, and then escape East Germany. He meets Russian spy <whatever the Russian equivalent of extraordinaire is> Illya Kuryakin, who is also after the woman. He narrowly escapes with his life to meet up with his handler in the CIA. The following day, Napoleon finds out (the hard way) that the CIA and the KGB have decided to team up on this mission. Guess which agent the KGB sends to be his partner? Illya Kuryakin, of course. Personalities and world views clash as the iconic American spy is forced to work with the iconic Russian spy.

When we added it to our queue, we had no idea that the movie wasn’t a stand alone piece. The movie is based on an NBC show from the mid 1960s. The series already has 8 movies made during the initial run of the show. It was a fun action movie with some cool twists. It had a very James Bond feel, but with more realistic spy gadgets, like bugs and trackers. Overall, we enjoyed it. Check it out for your next movie date night.

Links:
Buy The Man from U.N.C.L.E on Amazon

Legend of Zelda Anniversary

Happy 30th birthday, Legend of Zelda! Today marks the 30th anniversary of the release of the original Legend of Zelda game in Japan. We are both huge Zelda fans. My first Zelda game was Link’s Awakening on the original Gameboy, both of which my aunt got me for Christmas. Amanda’s first Zelda game was the actual first Zelda game, Legend of Zelda. Today, we’re celebrating with a Zelda marathon, feeding out latest addiction: Hyrule Warriors.

Ever since we played that first multiplayer game of Hyrule Warriors, we’ve been sneaking in a couple hours every few days when we have some time when we’re not doing our other dates. We’ve beaten Legend Mode on normal difficulty to unlock Hard difficulty challenges and Hero difficulty. Oh man, Hero difficulty is hard. To prepare, we’ve been working out way through Adventure Mode, which is a large series of different scenarios that you have to beat in certain ways or with certain warriors or using certain weapons, usually within a small time window. They give different power ups and other materials to advance the characters (plus more experience), which should help us finally take on Hero difficulty.

We also attempted to make some 8-bit heart cupcakes. We have a mold for the 8-bit hearts that we got for Valentine’s Day a few years ago. Amanda mixed up the batter and we poured it in, then tossed the mold in the toaster oven to bake. After a few minutes, we went to check on the progress and saw the mold was melting. We might have forgotten that it was an ice mold, not a baking mold. Woops. Misadventures in dating.

We had a lot of fun hanging out and playing video games all day. We would seriously recommend Hyrule Warriors to any couples looking for a good game to play together.

Links:
Buy Hyrule Warriors on Amazon

Recipe Science

Science! It’s what’s for dinner. Our date night tonight was some kitchen mad science. We have been really enjoying falafels for dinner lately, but we’ve used the same basic recipe every time we’ve made them. We wanted to try other flavor profiles to see if we like any of them better. In addition to our falafels, we have also been craving egg rolls, so to add to our crazy science experiment, we made multiple types of egg rolls.

If we’ve learned nothing else from watching an absurd amount of Food Network, the first step in any culinary challenge is always the mise en place, which is a French phrase meaning “putting in place.” Since we’re making a bunch of different stuff, but with similar ingredients, we can prepare most of the stuff ahead of time to make assembling and cooking the final product faster and easier. We used our Ninja food processor to finely chop all of the vegetables for the egg rolls. Most of the recipes we’ve seen call for julienned or sliced vegetables, but we really like the fine chop. It blends the filling together more evenly, and also makes it easier to actually roll up inside the wrap. We also used the Ninja to chop/blend the chick peas, tahini, and spices for the falafels. Amanda found the Ninja on sale on Black Friday and it has had a permanent place on our counter ever since between making smoothies, and more recently, falafels.

Mise en place for our falafels and egg rolls

We made two different flavor profiles for the falafels. The first was a lemon and garlic falafel inspired by a TaDah brand falafel wrap with that flavor profile that we found in a local grocery store. For the second profile, we mixed and matched some of our favorite spices, such as turmeric, garlic, and cumin, just to play with the proportions in the recipe. In the past, we’ve tried baking and frying falafels, but we’ve always flattened them into a patty instead of traditional spherical shape. Since we were already trying new things, we decided to attempt the round shape and fry them.

Falafels rolled into balls ready to be fried

For our egg rolls, we had a lot of the vegetables for base ingredients left over from other meals this week, so we made three different batches. The first was our normal recipe which consists of broccoli, carrots, garlic, and ginger. We normally really enjoy the way those come out, but we wanted to see if we could improve upon what our process. The second batch, we used a Green Giant broccoli slaw mix containing broccoli, red cabbage, and carrots, then added a couple sections of mandarin orange, and a healthy dose of ginger. For the last batch, we did turmeric and tofu cubes.

Egg roll ingredients prepped and ready

We figured that we could fine tune the individual recipes once we tasted everything and chose a flavor direction that we wanted to go, so we didn’t write down the exact recipes we used. Once we settle in, we’ll make sure to share our finalized recipes. Our original plan was to split one of everything we made at the end, but we were tasting little bits along the way and were full. However, it will be nice to have some food already prepped in our freezer this week to make more time for date night.

Fully cooked egg rolls, tofu, and falafels
Recipe science achieved!

Links:
Buy the Ninja Blender at Target

Indoor Camping

A few years ago, while we were visiting Amanda’s family, we all went to the drive in to watch The Great Outdoors. As part of the festivities, a local car dealership sponsored a raffle for a tent, to go along with the theme of the movie. Everyone who came to the drive in that night got an entry, but as luck would have it, our ticket was called. We went up to claim our prize and the guy announcing the raffle asked where we were from. When we told him West Virginia, he was pretty sure we were pulling his leg, but Amanda’s dad, who helps run the drive in, vouched for us.

So, we won a two-person tent. It has been sitting in our basement collecting dust ever since. Every time Amanda walks by it, she reminds me that we need to go camping. We’ve tried to go a couple different times, but have had schedule conflicts each time. Tonight, we decided to make use of our tent and go camping, but since it is still really cold outside, we set it up in our basement. Indoor camping!

Setting up the tent was pretty easy, even being indoors. The main support poles were long, but we didn’t have a problem maneuvering them even with the ceiling. Being pretty small, it only took us about 20 minutes to get set up. The tent shell is one whole piece, sealed and reinforced at the bottom to prevent water getting in (not that it will indoors). To be more comfortable, we decided to put our queen size air mattress in the tent. We blew it up, then realized that because the tent is so small and the mattress is so large, it completely filled the tent. We barely had room to crawl in, but couldn’t sleep with half our bodies touching the top of the tent. I crawled back out of the tent and opened the air valve and Amanda rode the air mattress until it deflated. She wanted to go again as soon as it was done. Since that didn’t work out, we ran upstairs and grabbed a ton of blankets and comforters, then spread them on the floor of the tent.

Indoor Camping Air Mattress. Nope.
Nope. Nope. Nope-ity Nope.

We had two options for our camping excursion. First, we could trick out the tent with all of the technology we own. Put a TV in one corner, maybe bring the Wii U down, open the laptops, play on our phones, the whole nine yards. Light the tent up like a Christmas tree with glowing rectangles. The second option was completely unplugging from technology for the night. Since the TV was too heavy, we decided on unplugging.

We grabbed the lantern we got for power outages and set it on low to have some light, but turned off all of our other electronics. We were pretty comfortable, so we laid down and chatted for a while. We did a bit of time math (definitely not my strong suit) and realized that we have passed 50 dates. We spent some time talking about all of our favorites so far. That led to us talking about different random memories and telling stories, which led to talking about future plans, and eventually, we drifted off to sleep.

Camping Lantern

Spoilers: we were still lying on concrete. I woke up sometime in the middle of the night, sore from being on the hard ground with very little padding under me. I tried to wake Amanda up , but she was really tired, so I gave up and wandered upstairs to bed. Luckily, I wasn’t too sore when I woke up, but Amanda didn’t fare as well. I would have tried harder to get her to come upstairs, but Tired Adam doesn’t think straight.

We’ve spent a lot of time dating so far this year, but this was definitely the longest and best conversation we’ve had since we started. The break from technology was exactly what we needed to relax and just be together.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Video Game Thursday this week has us back on our Nintendo 3DS’s to play Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Amanda has been a fan of the series for a while and introduced me to it back on the Wii with Animal Crossing: City Folk. She got New Leaf first, then she got me playing it, so I got a copy as well. Tonight, we played co-op.

New Leaf with our 3DS
Also, check our sweet styluses. Amanda uses the Master Sword and I use a glowing green lightsaber.

Our 3DS’s have been neglected for a while. We’ve been busy dating (so you may have noticed), and haven’t had time to play, so our towns were full of weeds and debris that we spent some time cleaning up. We checked the shops, as we usually do, and found out that in Amanda’s town that she named Hyrule, they were paying extra for the perfect cherries that my town, Norrath, produces. We spent a good bit of time bouncing back and forth between towns shaking trees and gathering cherries. When it was all done, we made nearly 5 million Bells, the currency that Animal Crossing uses.

New Leaf Travel
Where do we submit our application for geekiest couple?

New Leaf Avatars

After we deposited our giant haul, we decided to run down to Tortimer’s Island to play some mini games together. We found some cool Hawaiian print “Aloha” clothes for sale on the island, so we ran enough of the mini games to get the shirt and the shorts. To get all of the points we needed, we played the Elite Fossil Hunter game a few times. It is the only time our dinosaur knowledge has ever really come in handy. We ran around the island digging up fossils to make displays in their museums, but we had to identify which kinds of dinosaurs they were from their skeletons. It was pretty challenging, enough that we lost one round of the four we played. We got enough points from the three rounds we did win to get these sweet new threads.

New Leaf Aloha clothes

We lost track of time while hanging out. About 3 AM, we looked up at a clock and realized how late we were up. I had been distracted by the game, but once I realized the time, I was exhausted. We did really enjoy staying up together and losing track of time, but tomorrow Adam had to go to work and was upset that past Adam didn’t go to sleep. Dating is a dangerous, dangerous game.

Links:
Buy Animal Crossing: New Leaf for 3DS on Amazon

February Reading Date

After our reading date last month, we realized how much our reading lists were piling up while we were busy dating, so we decided to set aside a night each month for spending time with each other and good books. Last month, we read in bed, but that made us tired quickly, so this month, we curled up on the couch in front of our fireplace.

Amanda dug in to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. If you need me to tell you about Harry Potter, I’m not sure we can be friends any more. Just kidding, but seriously, where have you been for the past 15 years? We bought the box set of all the books a few years ago and reread it from time to time.


You’re a wizard, Gizmo!

I have been reading a series called Magic 2.0 by Scott Meyer. A friend recommended the first book, Off to Be the Wizard, to me a few weeks ago and I’ve devoured the series. The basic premise is that a hacker finds a file that defines reality, then starts altering it. He is quickly discovered because he gives himself unlimited money, which causes the feds to hunt him down. Because he can alter reality, he decides to go where the feds can’t find him: medieval England. And what’s the best profession for a modern-day hacker in medieval England? Wizard. Duh. The main character is a bit awkward, which causes all sorts of funny issues in the past. The series hits all of my geek buttons: time travel, magic, medieval setting, shell scripting, and general geeky humor. I’m actually on the third (and latest) book in the series, An Unwelcome Quest, which is what I read tonight. In writing up this post, I actually learned that the author is working on book four, which I’m now super excited about.

We love reading date nights. They are a great way to just relax and unwind for the evening. I’m already looking forward to the one in March.

Links:
Buy Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on Amazon
Buy Off to Be the Wizard on Amazon

We Didn’t Playtest This at All

Tonight’s Tabletop Tuesday game was We Didn’t Playtest This at All. It is the game of winning and losing, but mostly losing. It is extremely fast paced, because each round only lasts 1-5 minutes. The entire objective is to win, but you don’t win if you lose. There are points, but the points only matter if you haven’t lost, which you probably already have, but don’t know it yet.

We Didn't Playtest This at All Setup

The game is chaos. Utter chaos. And trolling. Who goes first? Pick at random. Spin a coin. Whoever’s coin spins the longest goes first. Smack all of your opponents coins. You go first. Pick a number from one to five. Did you pick an odd number? You lose. But, out of spite, because you just lost, another player also loses. But you still lose. I win, but only if every player is wearing blue. If I don’t win, I gain points. Any time I gain points, I point to a player. That player loses, unless they are singing. Strict regulations.

We Didn't Playtest This at All cards

That’s roughly how this game goes. Are you confused? Yeah, you’re among friends. The game is designed for 2-10 players. We played with two, but it’d be a great party game with more people. It encourages you to be ridiculous and funny, and even gives you blank cards to make up your own silly rules for the game. The version we got comes with the Chaos Pack expansion, which adds even more insane rules to the game. Overall, it was a lot of fun.

We didn’t keep track of wins and losses, because at the end of the day, you just lost The Game.

Banana Sold Separately

Links:
Buy We Didn’t Playtest This at All plus the Chaos Pack on Amazon. Includes a banana.*

*Banana sold separately

Pride & Prejudice

To cap off our Valentine’s Day weekend, we wanted to watch a love story for Monday Movie Madness. There is currently a movie out called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, fairly obviously based on the book Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. We enjoy quirky zombie films, but neither of us read Pride and Prejudice. We certainly don’t have time to read the book, so we’re cheating and watching the movie to get the gist of the plot. Tonight we watched the movie Pride & Prejudice from 2005 because it is a love story, and to see what to expect from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

First, we wanted to have a snack for the movie because it was over two hours long. We are big fans of Alton Brown’s show Good Eats, and really, everything Alton Brown does. He had an entire popcorn episode where he taught the secret to fresh, home-cooked popcorn on the stove. It is actually extremely simple. All you need is a medium metal bowl or a sauté pan. Add a little bit of oil to the bottom, add kernels, cover loosely with foil, then heat over medium heat, constantly tossing the kernels to avoid burning. We weren’t sure it was working at first, but once the kernels started popping, the entire batch was quickly done. Voila! Low calorie popcorn.

The movie itself is a classic love story: girl meets boy, girl thinks boy is stuck up, boy pursues girl, girl doesn’t like boy, drama ensues, but eventually, love prevails. That’s a classic love story, right? Or something like that. The movie follows Elizabeth Bennett, the second oldest daughter of an English gentleman, as her relationship progresses with the socially awkward Mr. Darcy. Her first impression of him is of being an aloof noble because he doesn’t handle social situations well, and she holds on to that original encounter, at one point swearing to hate him for all eternity. He, then, is the “Pride” title character, and she the “Prejudice” title character. They keep meeting through both chance and some meddling on the part of Elizabeth’s mother, forcing them to see that first impressions aren’t everything.

The scenery in this movie is gorgeous. There are lots of shots both inside and outside of large manors, plus a good bit of countryside that Elizabeth has a penchant for wandering through. The costuming was also very well done, with lots of contrast between the everyday wear and the more formal dance/ball attire, as well as the stark difference between the servants and the nobles.

While long, the movie was pretty good. It took us a bit of time to get into it, but we enjoyed it overall, so we’re more excited for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. After watching, we decided that when we grow up, we need to have enough butlers to push in the chairs for a room full of dinner party guests. Now that’d be a fun date.

Links:
Alton Brown’s Perfect Popcorn Recipe
Pride & Prejudice on IMDB