Amiibo Festival

Tonight’s date is the next in our line-up of repeating dates: Video Game Thursday (clever name TBD). We got a Wii U on Black Friday along with a few games that we’ve been wanting to play more, so we decided on Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival to kick off video game night.

Both of us have played and enjoyed various Animal Crossing games in the past, so we decided to check out Amiibo Festival and it didn’t disappoint. The main part of the game is a virtual board game somewhat in the style of Mario Party (a future Video Game Thursday date), but without the frequent mini games. However, after you beat the board game for the first time, you unlock a mini-game area, which we will get to later.

Isabelle and KK Amiibos

Amanda played as Isabelle, the helpful town secretary/assistant, and I played as K.K. Slider, the traveling guitar player. The players take turns rolling a die to move around the board, collecting happy points and Bells. You roll the die by placing your Amiibo on the Wii U game pad, then pulling it back off. There are frequent special events based on the day of the week that change the board. On Sundays, Sow Joan comes to town (as she’s been doing for 60 years. What would Sunday be without ol’ Sow Joan?) to sell you turnips. Where you land on the board the rest of the week affects how much you are able to sell your turnips for. Some weeks the turnip market is up, some weeks it is down, and some weeks it fluctuates wildly. This adds a fun extra incentive to try to land on certain spaces. On the 11th and 22nd of each month is Double Dice Day, where you get to roll two dice instead of one to move around the board faster.

Amiibo Festival board

As you play the board game and various mini-games, you earn points toward tickets. The tickets unlock more mini-games and different placeable decorations for the main board game. We have played a few rounds of Amiibo Festival and unlocked all of the mini-games so we can play them whenever we like. Last time we played, we bought an outdoor theater with our tickets and placed it near the beach. Today, we landed on a space near it and got a fun random event based on the theater.

Amiibo Oudoor Theater

(Side note: you can see our new polar bear decoration in the curio above the TV. If you’ve been following along, you’ll remember that from our home decor date yesterday.)

The board game involves a lot of luck and some planning with various ways to manipulate how you move around the board. In the end, you want to have the most happy points, with your each 1000 of your final amount of Bells being converted to 1 happy point. Who said money doesn’t buy happiness?

Final Score, Amanda wins.

After a fun 31 turns, and some frustratingly bad luck on my part, Amanda won.

After the board game, we played a couple rounds of the mini-games. Balloon Drop is our favorite. You use the Amiibo cards to select different characters to drop over a set of balloons, trying to land them on a moving, tiered platform while popping as many balloons as possible on the way. The closer to the center of the platform you get, the higher your score multiplier. Each different character has a different way that they bounce through the balloons, so it requires some character strategy and a lot of good timing. After a few rounds of that (which we didn’t keep score during), we played Fruit Path, another mini-game we hadn’t played yet. You pick Amiibo characters to walk along a path and help you collect fruit while trying to avoid pitfalls. We didn’t quite understand how it worked the first couple rounds, so we kept falling in pitfalls and losing our fruit.

Overall, it was a great date night for hanging out on the couch together and enjoying some friendly competition.

What’s your favorite video game to play together? Let us know in the comments below. We’re also always taking suggestions for new games to play!

Home Decor 101

Tonight’s date was a long-overdue crafting project. We have curios in two corners of our living room that are decorated with simple, white geometric figures. We have a number of other decorations in the living room, so we wanted a more muted theme for the curios. The curio we will be updating tonight sits behind our TV, so we don’t want the decorations to draw focus from it, but rather, they should be pleasant in the periphery.

Curio before a ofdding new decorations

Amanda bought a couple star ornaments before Christmas that we’ve been meaning to paint white and hang in the cabinets to complement the other stars that are already part of the decor. She also found a geometric polar bear that we will be adding to the curio, but it is already white so it doesn’t need painted.

Christmas ornament stars before painting

We poured some white acrylic paint on a disposable paint palette, which is a piece of paper with a glossy finish to prevent paint from soaking through the page. We painted them in a few layers to ensure that none of the original brown color showed through. In between brush strokes and while each layer dried, we chatted about our day.

Christmas ornament stars after painting

Once they were dry, we hung the stars from the top of the curio and placed the polar bear in its new home on the middle shelf. It was a simple crafting evening, the first of many date night crafting projects, and accomplished a task we had been meaning to do for a while. Date night can be fun and practical!

Curio with new decorations

Do you have any crafting projects that you’ve been meaning to get to? Tell us about it in the comments.

Pandemic

To have 366 nights of dates (Woo! Leap year!), we have scheduled a few repeating dates, so we are going to play a different tabletop game every Tuesday. Tonight, we are beginning Tabletop Tuesdays with Pandemic.

Pandemic is a great date game because it is cooperative, so you can spend time strategizing together. However, Pandemic is hard. Old-school Nintendo hard. You play as a team from the Center for Disease Control that is trying to cure four diseases (color coded blue, yellow, black and red for your convenience) before they wipe out humanity. The different diseases start out affecting different parts of the world, but will spill over to neighboring territories if the infection gets bad enough, and it probably will. Each player has a special set of abilities. Amanda played as the Scientist, who can cure diseases with less resources. I played as the Operations Specialist, who makes the board more easily traversable. With only two players, you need to get around the board quickly to prevent major outbreaks.

Pandemic character cards

This game requires a lot of cooperation and planning moves two or three turns in advance, then scrapping those plans because an Epidemic happened somewhere and that region is now in horrible shape.  You lose if a disease gets too widespread (running out of disease markers), too many outbreaks occur, or if you run out of time (represented by cards in the player deck). You win only if you cure all four diseases before you lose any of those ways. It’s challenging, but that’s a lot of the fun.  We played on “easy” mode with only four possible Epidemics, which is still pretty difficult. The Epidemic cards reset the disease deck, which quickly makes areas with infection much, much worse. An Epidemic in the first few turns can mean an instant loss.

Pandemic Starting position

That being said, we got extremely lucky. We cured the Black and Red diseases thanks to Amanda’s Scientist and eradicated Black entirely before the first Epidemic hit. We quickly eradicated Red after the Epidemic, then moved on to curing the third disease, Yellow. After a couple more lucky turns, we had gathered enough cards to cure Yellow, but the disease was really widespread, so we couldn’t eradicate it. That left only Blue.  Thanks to my Operations Specialist, we both got back to Blue’s territory quickly, did a short tour to hand off a few cards, then cured Blue to win the game.

Pandemic Pieces

We had a lot of fun playing and we’ll probably play again later in the year after we’ve played through more of our other games. We also had a third wheel on our date tonight, but he just stayed off in another chair most of the night.

Pandemic Third Wheel

Current record:
Cooperative – 1 win, 0 loss

Do you have any Pandemic glory or horror stories? Have a recommendation for future Tabletop Tuesdays? Let us know in the comments.

Links:
Buy Pandemic from Amazon

Taste of Italy

We have a lot of date nights planned this year, but I think my favorite idea so far is the “Taste of” dates. These dates are going to have us eat a country-themed dinner and watch a classic movie from that culture. For today’s date, we’re having a Taste of Italy.

ladolcevitacover

Italian food is a staple in our household, but we wanted something special to go with our movie, La Dolce Vita. Some quick research named the movie a great cinamatic experience. This kind of movie is something that we wouldn’t usually watch, but we’re trying new things this year.

italiangroceries

Amanda made us a fantastic Italian dinner. The menu for the evening included food from all over the country of Italy. We started with bread dipped in olive oil and spiced salt, the way we learned when we visited Italy this past Fall. This was followed by a caprese salad made with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, sprinkled with basil and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. For our main course, we had fettuccine done two ways, one with Alfredo sauce, and one with a butternut squash sauce. To complement dinner, Amanda made a cocktail of sparkling Moscato and San Pellegrino Pomegranate-Orange with a just a dash of limoncello and garnished with a lemon. Dessert was some store-bought Margherite cookies.

Italiandinner

La Dolce Vita is a classic movie from 1960 following the character Marcello as he lives his life in Rome. The film making was astonishing, even today. There were so many scenes that stuck out, from the beginning with the statue of Christ the Labourer flying over Rome, to the giant dance party, to the iconic Trevi Fountain scene, to the crowd crushing in to get a piece of the tree where the Madonna “appeared”, and so many more. The movie was two and a half hours long and beautiful throughout.

One of the major things that caught our attention was the secondary character Paparazzo. He was a photographer that worked with Marcello as Marcello wrote about the celebrities around him. We heard Marcello say his name a few times before we realized it was actually his name. This movie brought the term “paparazzi” into our vernacular.

Have you seen a great Italian movie or had any good Italian good lately? Share your recommendations and recipes with us in the comments.

Sideling Hill

Some days, it seems like date night might be hard to fit into a schedule. Today, we had to drive over five hundred miles to get home from visiting friends and family over the holidays. The scenery in early January isn’t anything special and with the warm weather we’ve had recently, there wasn’t even snow to make up for the lack of greenery. Outside the car was really dull, but inside, we were talking about our recent visit and listening to music as the miles passed by.

Despite the trip, date night must prevail! For our date today, we scheduled a detour to a place that we have passed by dozens of times without visiting: Sideling Hill. There is a giant man-made cut through the mountain to allow Interstate 68 to pass through. The rock strata are clearly visible and tower over both sides of the interstate.

Sideling Hill

We arrived at the location right before the sun set, luckily. Because it was so cold, there was ice formed on the rocks that glistened in the near-sunset. The view was gorgeous and we lingered to scan the horizon.

View of the horizon from Sideling Hill

Another view of the horizon from Sideling Hill

As we climbed the seventy or so stairs, we were able to see our breath because of the height and cold. At the top of the area open to the public, we were able to use a view finder for a quarter to see some of the details in the landscape. There was also an interesting sign at the top about the ice formations on the rocks, which is caused by the layers of sandstone.

Sign at the top of the area open to the public

It was a quick and convenient date, a beautiful view, and we finally visited the location that we had pointed out for years.

Have you visited any cool attractions on a road trip recently? Let us know in the comments.

Links:
Sideling Hill history on Wikipedia

Yale University Art Gallery

After the high-flying adventure yesterday, today we decided to relax and enjoy a calm walk through the Yale University Art Gallery, the #1 rated thing to do in Connecticut on Trip Advisor. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures of the exhibits, so this post will be light on the images.

Yale University Art Gallery

Admission is free and the museum is open to the public. This was a cheap date night idea, as we only had to pay for parking.

Our first exhibit was the Arthur Ross Collection of European Prints and Drawings, a temporary exhibition. This collection featured a number of lithographs and sketches from artists such as Francisco Goya and Edgar Degas. It was astonishing to see the depths and dimensions that these artists created with just a pen. We saw a collection of sketches of bull fighting, including a few done by Pablo Picasso. We also saw one piece drawn by Rembrandt.

We toured the African art gallery and saw a number of sculptures, drums, and traditional headdresses. Then we toured the Asian exhibits and saw a number of ancient Chinese and ancient Indian sculptures, pottery, and paintings. The amount of details in the works are astonishing.

Next, we went to the European exhibit. There was a vast array of different works of art, including two Van Gogh paintings. We enjoyed looking at all the pieces we could, while pointing out the features that we enjoyed. Also in this exhibit is a two-volume set of the original Gutenburg Bible, one of only 23 remaining complete copies in the world. This was my favorite piece we saw, because it is like seeing part of the technology that enabled the modern age.

Lastly, we went to their ancient coin exhibit. They had a nice collection of coins throughout the ages, from some of the first coins that were merely scored metal ingots to what we think of as coins today, depicting ancient rulers and royal crests.

If you’d like to learn more about the pieces, visit during a museum tour or visit their website.

The one thing that we would have done differently was arrive earlier. The museum was huge and we didn’t get to see everything with the amount of time we had. This, however, is a good problem to have.

What is your favorite museum or collection? Let us know in the comments.

Links:
Yale University Art Gallery
Trip Advisor – Best of Connecticut

Aerial Adventure Park

This year, we want to get outside our comfort zone. That’s a major driving force for us embarking on this year-of-dating adventure. Normally, you’d expect a bit of a gradual build up to more exotic and extreme dates, but not us. For our second date, we went to an aerial adventure park. We spent the night doing an obstacle course suspended 15 to 20 feet off the ground in between trees. This was also our first double date. Amanda’s brother and his girlfriend came along with us.

Fields of Fire is located in Mystic, CT right off the highway. As we drove near it, we could see the whole place lit up and oh man, did it look cool. They had long strands of lights strung through the different courses for their Friday Night Lights event. The car was buzzing with excitement as we drove by.

Fields of Fire course

The atmosphere of the event was full of chatter and laughter. We signed in when we arrived and soon we were getting harnessed in to do the tutorial. We went over some safety tips and went through a mini course a few feet off the ground. After that, we were ready to take on a course.

There were different levels of difficulty depending on your skill level, yellow being easiest, then green, blue, and finally black as the hardest, each culminating in a zip line finish. We started off on one of the yellow (easiest) courses. It was so cool doing each element (an individual part of the course) while suspended above the ground. We went through about a dozen elements all lit by the lights.

Amanda on an element

Adam on an element

There was a fire pit set up for s’mores and we got some hot chocolate to warm up with. It was coooold out that night. We hardly noticed while doing the course, but once we were finished, the cold got to us. We watched the other couple we were with complete another course while attempting to stay warm. We also got to see some people completing the harder courses, which looked super intense. We also saw a couple people fall on the harder elements, which prompted the staff to go out on the course and rescue them, which was also really interesting. They were hanging from the guide wire that the harness was attached to.

FoFus

The whole night was so much fun. We’d love to go back. As we returned our harnesses, they told us they would be doing more night climbs in the future, and in different seasons as well. We’ll definitely go again once the weather gets warmer.

FoFgroup

A big thanks to Eric for being our photographer for the evening.

Links:
Fields of Fire Aerial Adventure Park

First Night

Have you ever heard of First Night?  We hadn’t either, but it was a great first night of dating. The closest First Night to us was Hartford, CT. We ordered our wrist bands last week, but you can also buy them at the event. We found parking (which caused an interesting end to our evening, more on that later) then strolled through downtown Hartford toward the event. Along the way, we passed by an art gallery displaying the “Myths and Idols” collection by Travis Durden, which features Star Wars characters edited in to classic statues. What a great, geeky way to start the evening. A couple blocks later, we arrived in Bushnell Park.

The first thing we saw was the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch.

Soldiers And Sailors Memorial Arch

Unfortunately, we got there right before they were closing the arch for the evening to prepare for the fireworks. One hundred and sixteen feet of hurried stair climbing later, we stood on the arch and took in the view. Five minutes later, after catching our breath for far too little time, back down the tower we went.

Next, we walked around the park looking at the lights and decorations. We found a park bench near the pond and spent a few minutes enjoying the statue in the middle.

The Pond

As we continued strolling through the lit-up park, we passed the carousel. The line to ride was wrapped all around the inside of the building and back out again, so we decided not to ride (yet). Continuing on, we found the Pump House. Inside, they had a roaring fire in the fire place that filled the whole room with warmth and the aroma of crackling logs. In front of the fire place, a couple musicians were playing a variety of Irish and folk songs on acoustic instruments. We got some hot chocolate and spent a while listening and enjoying the ambiance.

Beside the Pump House was a temporary ice skating rink. Frosty the Snowman and Sonar, the mascot for the Hartford Wolf Pack, were skating around with all of the families. Our legs still felt like Jello from climbing the Arch, so we decided to just watch instead of skating. A few minutes later, we heard an announcement that the fireworks were starting soon, so we made our way back over to the Arch to watch the first fireworks display of the evening.

Fireworks over the Arch

The firework display was fantastic. As the different fireworks went off, we talked about the characteristics of each that we liked. At the end, we decided that ones we both like best are the fireworks that leave sparkling trails in the sky like streamers. On the firework test of compatibility, that’s a 100%.

After the fireworks, we saw the line for the carousel was much shorter, so we got in line. It should be noted that “much shorter” is extremely relative. We spent the next hour chatting about the fireworks and the park and cruising, because the horses reminded us of a cruise we took a few months ago that featured carousel horses as decorations. We finally got to ride the horses and it was totally worth the wait. Totally. We enjoyed a short ride, where I pretended to take off my cowboy hat and quietly yelled “Hi-Yo, Silver!” as the carousel made its way around.

We walked around the park a little more, then because it was getting too cold, we decided to head home. We walked back to the exit of the parking garage that we came out of when parked, but it was locked. This set off the great “How do we get to our car?” game of 2015. We first tried all the doors around us, then went around the block to the side of the building, where we tried more doors there. We walked further down the block and found an entrance toward an underground lot, so we walked in thinking that we could get to the car from there. Guess what all the doors were. Did you guess locked? You’re right. Looking around a bit more, we discovered that this was a service entrance for the building, not the parking garage. So, we walked back out and around to the next side of the building. There were a couple more doors, but they didn’t look like they lead to where we wanted to be, so we didn’t even try them. Finally, we rounded the block again and found the entrance to the parking garage we had been looking for. We got to the car, breathed a sigh of relief that we weren’t lost/stranded in downtown Hartford (again… which is a story for another time), then headed home.

We spent the rest of the evening watching a Futurama marathon of all the episodes where Fry gets frozen on New Year’s Eve (Pilot episode, Season 5 episode 8, and Bender’s Big Score), then watched the ball drop.

It was a fantastic date night and a great way to kick off the year. Our New Year’s resolution is to do a new date night every night this year.

What’s your resolution? Have you ever gone to a First Night? Let us know in the comments!

Links:
First Night Hartford, CT
Myths and Idols article in the Hartford Courant