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

Weekly Meal Prep

As if a date night every night wasn’t enough to do for the year, we are also trying to eat healthier. What good is spending all this time dating and making memories if we don’t live a long time to enjoy them? As Bender from Futurama would say, “Anything less than immortality is a complete waste of time.”

To help us along the way, we decided to try one of the crazes sweeping the Internet: prepping a week of meals in an evening. This date is somewhat time intensive since there are so many steps, but it will give us more time for dates during the week since we don’t have to worry about cooking as much after work.

Ingredients for Meal Prep

Part of the fun of this date is seeing all the raw ingredients on your counter. It’s pretty crazy to see a substantial amount of the food you will eat for a week all at the same time.

First, you need to plan out what you’re making. We decided on smoothies for breakfasts and salads for dinners. The smoothie mixes will consist of bananas, strawberries and a frozen berry mix we found at our local grocery store. Those will be prepped and frozen in individual servings, then blended with almond milk each morning. The salads will have iceberg and leaf lettuce, spinach, olives, walnuts, cucumbers, carrots and broccoli. Those will be stored in quart-sized Mason jars and tossed with dressing each evening.

The smoothies were really easy to prep. Cut the bananas up into small slices and toss them into a zipped sandwich bag with a handful of strawberries and mixed berries. Flatten out the bags as best you can and stack them in the freezer.

On to the salads. Usually, the salad dressing goes in the jar first, but we made our own dressing tonight and put in in another container (more on that later). Whatever you put in the jar first will come out last, on top of the salad. It’s a good idea to start with your stiffer vegetables as these won’t get soggy in the dressing. For us, that means carrots on the bottom.

Carrots chopped and divided

We chopped up about 8 ounces of baby carrots and separated them into 9 approximately equal piles (since we have 9 jars) then dropped a pile in each jar. Next, we chopped up our head of broccoli and again divided it into 9 piles, then dropped those into the jars.

Broccoli chopped and divided

We repeated this process with the cucumbers. For my salads, I sprinkled walnuts on top of the cucumbers. Next, we layered on spinach. For my salads, I added in a few olives on top of the spinach. Lastly, we filled the jars with iceberg and leaf lettuce.

While I finished up the salads, Amanda made olive oil and garlic croutons for us to top our salads. She also made an olive oil and red wine vinegar Italian dressing with garlic, rosemary, oregano, basil, and thyme.

Finished meals

Overall, it took us about 2 hours of prep to make a week of breakfasts, and salads for dinners. It was a lot of fun because we got to spend a few hours in the kitchen together, frequently dancing around the cat who always wanted to be under our feet.

Have you made smoothies or Mason jar salads? Do you have good recipes that we should try next week? Let us know in the comments.

Winter Stroll Through the Park

One of our favorite evening activities is taking a walk through our local park. It has a nice 3/4 mile walking path beside a small creek. Normally, we don’t go to the park during winter because of the cold, but since the temperature was in the high 50s and we’re expecting snow next week, we wanted to take advantage of the weather.

Walking path in Winter

This is a great date because we get a bit of exercise and a chance to talk about the day while enjoying some nice scenery. It only takes about an hour, so it is a good quick date if you have other plans for the night, which we did.

Creek beside the path in winter

Another view of the creek

We will be taking many more walks here this year once the weather gets nice again.

Bowling

As of yesterday, we have officially completed a week of dates. You could say that we are on a roll. I mean, I wouldn’t say that, because it’d be a horrible joke related to our bowling date tonight, but you could say it if you wanted.

There is a bowling alley about half a mile from our house that we have passed by numerous times, so tonight we decided to check it out. When we got there, the parking lot was almost full. Inside, the place was busy with bustling bowlers. Apparently, it was date night for everyone, just what we like to see. We rented shoes, picked up our bowling balls, and went to our lane.

BowlingAlley

Normally when we bowl, we pick random silly names for ourselves to enter into the score keeping system, but tonight, we just went with our actual names for the sake of pictures. Unfortunately, the score keeping system decided to abbreviate both of our names to the first letter, so it was A vs A.

BowlingFirstGame

It didn’t take us many frames to remember why we haven’t bowled (other than Wii bowling, which doesn’t count) for a while: even though it is fun, we are so bad at bowling. Our first game, we ended up with a combined score of under 200. Determined that we could do better than that, and at least break 200, we played another round. Ten frames later, we had succeeded in our goal.

BowlingSecondGame

As we played our games, we chatted with the people on our neighboring lanes. Bowling is a great social date. The games went by pretty fast, about an hour total for both games, since it was just the two of us bowling. Next time, we’ll have to make it a double date for a longer evening.

When is the last time you went bowling?