• September 25, 2013

    Blackberry Ribs

    Blackberry Ribs

    I love food prepared on the grill.  It’s quick, delicious, and way less messy than cooking inside.  This recipe can be done on the grill or broiler on a high heat, but grilling is always the best.  There’s just something about cooking with an open flame that makes food so much better.

    Grilling also takes us back to the basics and can make a meal feel very primal…. Very cave[wo]man.

    My husband and I are working towards a Paleo diet.  We haven’t totally figured it out yet, but are making great strides to cut out processed foods, grains, and dairy.  You’ll notice this meal is served with rice as a side, but in my defense, it’s significantly less rice than I used to serve as a side and I… am still adjusting.

    Cutting so much out of our diet hasn’t been easy.  I was already good with doing the gluten free thing, but limiting these other things isn’t easy.  Just like when I had to cut wheat out, there is a big learning curve.  It can be really hard until you get a routine figured out and learn what is ok and what isn’t.

    So, we’ve reached a sort of Paleo compromise:  the only processed foods we eat have natural ingredients (no artificial colors or chemicals) and we’re ok with including things like dairy and grains once in a while.  Cavemen would have occasionally come across stuff like that once in a while too, right?

    Go with me on this one, ok?

    The truth is, it’s not easy to eat real food in America.  Between limited availability, poor/deceitful labeling on foods, and the typical busy American schedule, it is really difficult to eat only real food without spending a fortune and devoting your days to shopping for and preparing your meals.

    Enter Primal Blueprint: Quick & Easy Meals by Mark Sisson and Jenifer Meier.  This cookbook has a ton of great recipes and ideas to help you stay Paleo.  The recipes we’ve tried are all great and not nearly as time consuming as you’d think.  This recipe for Blackberry Ribs is adapted from one found in the book.  Enjoy!

     

    Ingredients:Ingredients

    • ¼ cup sesame oil
    • 1 cup blackberries, frozen (defrosted) or fresh
    • ¼ cup tamari or GF soy sauce
    • Dash of ground ginger
    • 1 garlic clove
    • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
    • 2 pounds flanken-style beef short ribs

     

    Directions:

    1. Blackberry MarinadeCombine sesame oil, blackberries, tamari, ginger, garlic, and rice wine vinegar in a blender and blend until smooth.
    2. MarinadeCoat ribs well in the mixture and while they marinate, heat up your grill or broiler.
    3. GrillCook ribs on each side until caramelized.
    4. PlatedServe with your choice of side and enjoy!

     

    Pro Tips:

    1. Be sure to get the flanken-style ribs!  The first time we made this, I just bought regular short ribs.  I suppose the marinade would be fine on those too, but they take so much longer to cook through… it was really frustrating.
    2. These ribs don’t need lots of marinade time because the mixture sticks pretty well.  Coat the ribs well and throw ‘em on!
    3. The ingredient photo shows ½ cup of sesame oil… don’t do that.  Do ¼ cup like I told you to.  The cookbook also gives directions for a side for the ribs which also calls for a ¼ cup of sesame oil and was combined in the ingredients list.  Read the directions, people.  Learn from my mistake (although, the extra sesame oil wasn’t bad… just more than it really needed).
  • September 18, 2013

    5 Happy Years

    Five Happy Years

    This past weekend, my husband and I shared our 5 Year Anniversary.  Five years has never felt so much like forever and only a few moments at the same time.  The years have has flown by us, but I can’t seem to remember a time before he was my best friend.

    Over the weekend, we spent a lot of time talking about the changes we’ve seen since we were married as well as what is to come for us.  We’ve reached so many of our goals and continue to works towards new things, but more than anything, we have learned to understand, respect, and care for each other.  These are the things many people never think of when they lay out their life plans, but learning to be a team in every aspect of life, to be there as encouragement and support, constantly lifting up and never bringing down… these are things in a life shared with others that matter so much.  These are elements to shaping an enduring love that won’t be torn apart by poor choices or disagreements.

    So, today, I am thinking about the many things I have to be thankful for:

    I got to choose who I wanted to spend my life with, and he’s the best friend I’ve ever had.

    I have a husband, who loves and supports me, and who reminds me what is really important.

    We’ve spent the last five years being together and growing ever more in love.

    I am thankful he understands what I feel and sees what I am capable of, even when I do not.

    He has endured my ups and downs and taught me to endure his.

    We have cultivated so many lovely memories that will always make me smile.

    I am even thankful for our arguments and imperfections because through those moments, we have grown so much.

    It is a beautiful thing to share everything in my life with my best friend.  To encourage him and watch him grow in the same ways he gives me confidence to grow and make my own dreams come true.  He gives me so much to be thankful for and so much to look forward to as we make our way in this world together.  I can’t wait to see where the next five years will lead us!

  • September 11, 2013

    Indie Games from PAX

    Indie Games

    I didn’t get into this too much in my last post, but I am much more a table top/board game player than a video/computer game player.  Because of this, I wasn’t terribly interested in the large game and software booths at PAX and skipped over a lot of that part of the convention.  I did, however, spend a good bit of time in the indie booths looking at the games and art styles and talking with the developers.  The following is a list (in no particular order) of the indie games represented at PAX that I found most interesting and felt I might actually play on my own.

     

    Nekro GameNekro

    This game intrigued me first for the art style, then for the story.  You play as an alchemist turned necromancer who is looking for revenge.  Your allies are dark creatures and the forces of evil.  The gameplay I saw at PAX was not as gruesome as the trailer is on their site… so I’m not completely sure I’ll be playing this one.  Look for it in 2014 (but you can pre-order now at a discount).

     

    Hot Tin Roof GameHot Tin Roof

    Developers called this game a noir mystery in which you get to play a private investigator whose partner is a cat.  This game is clever and has a very unique style which makes it all the more fun.  Hot Tin Roof should come out mid-2014 for PC.

     

    Planetoid Pioneers GamePlanetoid Pioneers

    After a disaster in space gets you stuck on an asteroid, you have to figure out how to get back home without getting attacked by the people who caused the disaster.  You get to design robots, vehicles, and think outside the box, but you still have to obey the laws of physics.  The team that designed this game was very focused on making it as realistic as possible while maintaining openness to gamer creativity.

     

    Delvers Drop GameDelvers Drop

    Adventuring though dungeons looking for your escape, this game brings puzzles and RPG together.  You get a choice of class (rogue, sorcerer, etc.) to play and battle various baddies as you try to find your way out of the dungeons.  I really like the art style and the carryover from concept art to the actual game.  The open beta starts in October 2013 and the game will be released in December.  There will be an Android version out sometime next year.

     

    Foul Play GameFoul Play

    This game is a little steampunk, a little monster movie, and totally cute.  You fight baddies in front of an audience, so it’s important to beat the baddies, but also to do it with flair so your audience is pleased.  The game is a 2 player co-op side-scroller.  Its ready for pre-order, but I can’t find the release date anywhere yet.

     

    Don't Starve GameDon’t Starve

    I love, love, love the art and style of this game!  It’s very Tim Burton/Johnny Depp.  You play a scientist lost in the wilderness and you have to figure out how to survive by getting food, shelter, and staying out of the elements.  But, of course, that’s not all there is to it: monsters come to get you in the night and other things will come to steal from you.  This game has already been released on Steam.

     

    Sports Friends GameSports Friends             

    This is a collection of incredibly silly games with weird physics.  At PAX, they were demoing the Super Pole Riders game where you use a pole to move a ball along a string towards your opponents side of the screen.  It reminded me of the scene in Harry Potter when You-Know-Who and Harry’s wands connect and they each try to push the spheres of light away.  Only this was silly.  This is nothing like the night the dark lord returned.  The games will be out this fall.

     

    The Banner Saga GameThe Banner Saga

    A beautifully done multi-player RPG that has actually been out for a while now.  You play as a band of Vikings (all the Vikings… you design, play, and level up the whole team) in battles against enemy clans with strategy and tactical maneuvers.  The art style is so beautiful, some commenters on the game said they just sat and looked at it for a while before they could start playing.

     

    Ironclad Tactics GameIronclad Tactics

    This game looked super cool because it’s actually card based and the story line is communicated through a graphic novel inspired story board.  You also have the option of playing co-op or against people online.  I am SO excited to try this game out because I’ve never seen anything quite like it and adore the concept of cards and deck building, computer games, and graphic novels all being mashed into one game!  It also combines the American Civil War with steam powered Robots!  Robots, people, robots!  Robots make everything better.  *nods*  You can pre-order this game now and start playing September 18th!

     

    Wind Forge GameWind Forge

    Wind Forge is another steampunk inspired game that looks like a lot of fun.  You fly dirigibles, collect resources, build your world, and fight against monsters and enemies.  It’s still in development, but they have a good blog to keep you informed and interested.

     

    Armello GameArmello

    Another beautiful game that I can’t wait to see in action!  This game was also inspired by tabletop games and good story telling which makes it really intriguing to me.  There are 4 heroes, all vying for the throne of a king gone mad.  Not sure when it will be ready to play… but it’s definitely one to watch for!

     

    Tengami GameTengami

    This game looks so much like paper-craft and pop-up books with a distinct Japanese style.  You get to explore, solve puzzles, and enjoy the adventure all within the context of a pop-up book.  It’s out for iOS and will be released for WiiU, Windows, and OS X next year.

     

    Contrast GameContrast

    I am going to let this game speak for itself.  There is a big story here waiting to be told and Compulsion Games is being very careful to only share the bits you need to know so the story isn’t ruined.  I get the feeling that there is a big twist in this story and can’t wait to find out how it plays out!  The design is beautiful, the characters are engaging, and the gameplay looks fantastic!

  • September 8, 2013

    PAX Update

    Pax 2013

    Thank you, dear readers, for your patience with my slow updates.  I was desperately trying to plan, coordinate, launder, and pack for a trip to Seattle for PAX.  The last few weeks have been pretty intense and overwhelming, but I’m back and ready to share my experiences!

    PAX was my first big convention and I have to admit that even though much of the event was great, it was also a little overwhelming and exhausting.  I’ve been told that PAX has the best attendees in terms of respectfulness and just being friendly overall.  Having never been to another big convention, I can’t really weigh in on this, but I will tell you that I didn’t have any trouble with rude or uncomfortable situations and everyone I talked to was polite at the least and incredibly friendly at the best.

    Being such a big event, there was always something going on and somewhere to be.  There were several big rooms dedicated to various video and computer games, smaller rooms for board games and other tabletop events, and tons of panels to attend in 4 different buildings.  There is no way I could share everything we saw and did (and we only had 3 of the 4 days!), so I’m going to go ahead and highlight my favorite things for you.

    *grin*

    Game Testing and Merch Booths

    By far, my favorite part of PAX was meeting the StripSearch crew and attending the panels they were in.  I enjoyed the show a lot and have a great deal of respect for the artists, so it was pretty amazing to hear what they had to say and chat with them about art, dreams, and upcoming projects.  Abby Howard tweeted before PAX that she would give a StripSearch pin to anyone who gave her dinosaur things and would hug anyone who brought her dinosaur food.  I’m kicking myself now for not getting a picture of this, but I made a dinosaur bento box for her and totally got a big hug!  Erika Moen and Monica Ray were full of great advice and talked a lot about updating on time.  *ahem*  To top it all off, Katie Rice and I had a great moment talking about her comics and she gave me a fantastic Skadi sketch!  Before all of this, while working up the courage to visit the StripSearch table, I turned around too quickly, almost ran into Jerry Holkins, realized who he was, and literally ran away.  I’m fairly certain he didn’t see me… but… yeah.

    StripSearch Line

    Working up the courage to go say Hello.

     

    Abby Howard

    Confidence!

    There were so many great panels; it was super difficult to choose what to go to and how to fit as many in as possible.  A lot of what I attended had to do with taking your projects (art, games, writing, etc.) and making it better and sharing with others.  I also went to a lot of panels that focused on D&D and board games, groups, and making your current group better.  I have a big list of agencies, programs, comics, and websites that look interesting and I will be sure to share them with you as I learn more.

    Mike & Jerry Q&A Line

    Waiting in line for panels…

    My husband and I also had time to try out D&D Next which was super fun.  We played with some guys we didn’t know which was a little tough for me because I’m really shy, but they were decent guys and we had a good time.  I really enjoyed the gameplay because it was less complicated than Pathfinder and other versions of D&D that I’ve played.  Next also allows for more imaginative play and freedom to move around in the game.  We played without miniatures which confused me a great deal, but that’s player preference not a rule of the game, so it’s easily remedied.  We got some fun ideas for future campaigns as well as some cool new dice (that will hopefully roll a little higher for me in the future… ha!).

    Table Top Game Booths

    Now for the useful part of this post!  A few tips for first time PAX-goers:

    • Bring a bag, but don’t haul around too much stuff (it gets heavy faster than you’d think!).
    • Unless it’s raining, don’t bother to bring a jacket or sweater.  The buildings and panel rooms are generally plenty warm and there isn’t nearly enough outside walking to warrant hauling a jacket with you all day.
    • Show up early; learn the area as well as you can.  This includes locations of panels you want to see, nearby restaurants (especially if you have special dietary needs or allergies), how buses and taxis work, and so on.  It’s unnecessarily stressful having a time limit to get somewhere and no idea how to get there or what it might cost!
    • Be prepared to wait in line and be squished, touched, and jostled by a million people.
    • Be nice to the enforcers!  They are there for a reason, so listen to them and do what they tell you!  One really great thing about PAX is that they value security and try to keep the convention center as safe and bully-free as possible.
    • Bring your own lunch.  This saves money, time, and you can eat when and where you want.
    • Bring two pairs of the most comfortable shoes you own.  There is a lot of walking and standing at PAX, so good shoes are a must if you want to go back for a second day!  I suggest two pairs because your feet will sweat and even your most comfy shoes will rub in weird places.  Also, you never know when you might step in a puddle.
    • Carve out time to play some games!  PAX is about games… so play some!
    • If you’re going with a big group of people, don’t expect to see them a lot – there’s too much to see and do and everyone in your group will want to see something different. Be ok with that.
    • Follow PAX and everyone from Penny Arcade on Twitter.  Sometimes things change last minute or you can get special deals (like the dino lunch I traded for a pin and hug from Abby).
    • Don’t be afraid to talk to people!  Mike & Jerry, StripSearch artists, panelists, cosplayers, & other attendees are all really friendly and you could really miss out if you never talk to anyone new!

     

    There you have it: that is the best of PAX from my experience.  Overall, a great experience… but 4 days is a bit more than I want to handle again.  The crowds, non-stop running, and so on made for an exhausting trip both physically and mentally.

    TARDIS

    If I could get my hands on the real thing… it would totally make PAX easier!