Yeah, that title is all over the place, I know.

Anyway, Chris's friend at work Jeff picked up a box of Green Lantern themed hostess snowballs, which means a whole box of coconut chocolaty goodness in the house.  As I'm a fan of all the ingredients in a snowball, I readily volunteered to scarf down the tasty snacks lest they rot, since Chris is not a fan of coconut.

In the evening we played a little bit of Lord of the Rings Online together.  Here's a shot of Chris hanging out in the fountain in Bree.

All in all a good Thursday!

Tonight was game night! So Dan and Jeff came over after work for some pizza, a movie, and some HeroClix.

I don't play HeroClix with them, but I do enjoy all the crazy animated movies they watch and the conversations they have.  Plus, as a special treat this evening we booted up Skype and talked to Adam and Comfort (authors of The Uniques and Rainbow in the Dark comics).

Today arrived the first item I've ordered with the gift certificate I received for my birthday.  There's a lot of things I want, but the trick is buying something you know you're going to have time for (vs another video game that may get dusty on my shelf).

So I ordered the three seasons of The Guild.  Yes, you can watch all of these for free online.  But as a gamer who has played her fair share of MMOs, I just wanted these DVDs.

I'm really looking forward to re-watching episodes with Chris, whose not really had a chance to check out this great show.

As a side note you can see that the community center at our apartment complex is all set for Halloween. See that lanterny-goodness?

Lunch was pretty good.  I used a coupon I'd had for a free Biggby to get a tasty caramel apple cider drink and I was able to enjoy some reading.  It was pretty busy at Rosa Park circle, and as you can see, bright out.  Lots of classrooms taking trips downtown to see ArtPrize exhibits.

After dinner Chris and I had a nice stroll down Kent Trails.  It's getting cooler and the leaves are starting to turn, though as you can see there's still quite a bit of green left along the trail.

Also, as promised, I've slowly been adding some photos to the renaissance festival set I have on flickr.  There's about 30 of them, and I've got several more to upload yet, but it's something.  Mostly from the joust and birds of prey shows.  Anyway, if you prefer an embedded slideshow theres one on the Michigan Ren Fest post.

Sunday was a pretty quiet day.  I did a lot of organizing on the computer of various files, backing up pictures and documents on the external drives and what not.

In the afternoon we decided to make some doughnuts.  I'd stumbled across a decent looking recipe for some more "cake-like" doughnuts that you typically get at a cider mill vs the glazed doughnut recipe I have.

Truth be told, I didn't think they'd turn out good at all.  I was wrong.  They're delicious!  They fluffed up more than I'd thought they would in the deep fryer.

I'm looking forward to making this recipe more often in the fall months.  I think it really worked out good (and was a very tasty dinner!).

Chris bought some very colorful and fun flowers for my birthday on Tuesday.  Of course, Leki is ever curious of anything new brought into the apartment, so the flowers have spent a good portion of their time here tucked away.

Since they're so colorful I though I'd take some time to mess with my camera while Chris was working on some other things. 

Of course not long after I had the flowers set somewhere and the tripod out, Leki found me and instantly needed to be where those flowers were.  Since the tripod was already set up I snapped a few photos of him before we headed out to do some chores. 

I'll have to try again later while he's sleeping....

For lunch this Friday Lori and I decided we'd try to get some ArtPrize viewing in.  Since there are a lot of venue options, both inside and out, we played it by ear to see what the weather was like.

Come lunch it was pretty windy and had just finished raining, though it looked like it might rain more.  So we bounced from the Grand Rapids Art Museum to the Waters Building to see a few things before heading back to work for the afternoon.

So far I've just seen a few exhibits on lunch and a short stroll with Chris.  Here's a few shots I've taken with my palm pre thus far.

Today is the first official day of ArtPrize.  There were a lot of people out walking around downtown after work, checking out all the indoor and outdoor exhibits.

A friend and old co-worker, Melissa, has an entry this year and she was celebrating the start of ArtPrize by hosting a party at McFaddens, which is where her piece is hanging.  Chris and I popped in for a moment to check out her work and say "hi."

Unfortunately my phone was pretty low on juice by the time we got to McFaddens so I didn't get a picture of her piece.  There is a good shot up on the ArtPrize website with some additional info, however.

If you're in the downtown area you should check out her piece!

My birthday was great.  Lots of notes from people on facebook, a lovely blog post from one of the Wild Ones, Carol, and a nice chat with my family on the phone.  Plus work was relatively quiet and the surprise coming home was great.  Chris had suck home on lunch to decorate the whole apartment and set up the gift.  So everything was very festive.  We even had hats and cake! Singing too...well...just Chris. The cat didn't want to help.

We ate dinner out and snagged tasty lobster.  I blame my grandma for getting me hooked on cheesecake and lobster.

Anyway, there's a slideshow below of the apartment and gifts for your viewing pleasure.  As you can see, the apartment had all kinds of festive balloons!

ArtPrize is just around the corner!  Slowly I'm seeing new exhibits outdoors on my daily walks downtown on lunch.

I'm looking forward to checking out all of the exhibits once they're open!

Sunday we headed out to Holly, MI for the Michigan Renaissance Festival.  It was still a little muddy from the rain on Saturday but the weather was cool and refreshing.  A welcome change from that of years past.

I've been going to the festival since I was little with my family every year.  Much of the acts are the same, but the atmosphere is great and the whole thing is right up my alley.

As you can see, there are always plenty of interesting outfits and people at the ren fest - all of them friendly.

I even managed to snag another piece to the outfit I've slowly been putting together the last several years. So here's a shot (complete with my toes) because I'm too lazy to wrestle with the cat who likes the laces so late in the day.

I spent a lot of the time behind my digital SLR snapping random photos for a weekly photo comparison posts I do for Lord of the Rings Online.  As a result, I have a lot of photos and a lot to wade through to upload. So this post has just a few and I'll be sure to embed a slideshow to this post once they're all up on flickr.

Edit: 9/27: as promised, embedded slideshow (though not all photos are up at the moment)

So we were all set to head out to Holly, MI for the annual Michigan Renaissance Festival and after looking at the weather, seeing the rain, and talking to my dad, we all decided to hold off until tomorrow.

Even the cat got wet! Well...that might be due to his curiosity while the shower water was running...

Friday's are usually great.  They're a little slower work-wise, it's the beginning of the weekend, and it's means lunch trying another restaurant in downtown Grand Rapids with Lori.

This time we ate at The Dog Pit.  I typically bring my lunch, so even though I eat around a lot of the restaurants I haven't had a chance to check them all out. I'm not huge into hot dogs but The Dog Pit offered edible food and I had delightful company.

If you like hot dogs I'd recommended checking it out sometime.

Most of the day it rained. And rained. And rained.  It let up a little around lunch time, so I was able to sneak out to Rosa Park Circle and read a little more of The Long Run by Daniel Keys Moran.  I've been neglecting my Kindle a bit as of late so it was good to get back to some reading.

So today is the 15th, which means the Hot Carmel Apple Cider is available and discounted with the coupon I have.  On lunch I headed over to the Biggby downtown to snag a tasty drink before heading back to work for the afternoon.  I figured a hot drink was a good idea considering I now sit under some vents and spend most of the time freezing.

Unfortunately it turns out I had a hot chocolate instead of a tasty cider drink.  Still, the hot chocolate drinks at Biggby are fantastic, so it was all good.

After work we took a nice stroll around the apartment and down Kent Trails.  I spent most of the time distracted hunting for suitable birch trees to photograph.  I'm looking for something that resembles the birches in Lord of the Rings Online.  I post weekly photo comparison posts for a fan site called A Casual Stroll to Mordor.  Anyway, most of the trees were too tall and clustered to get a good picture of.

But the walk was good and this is a relatively decent shot of a lantern I might end up using.

Monday evening was kind of a lazy day.  Neither of us were keen on cooking anything too complicated so we decided to use up some bagels we had and make pizza bagels.

As you can see, even the cat was kind of lazy.

Sunday morning had mostly been filled with working on blogposts for a LOTRO fansite I contribute to and lazing about.

So when the afternoon rolled Chris suggested going for a bike ride, or at the very least, a stroll.  So out we went.

We walked about five miles, down to Palmer Park and back, which is where I stumbled across this little guy.

Now that exercising is out of the way I'm looking forward to hanging out and finishing up Torchwood and playing some more Lord of the Rings Online with Chris.

Most of the day it rained, which meant no real venturing out at the park and enjoying the weather.

Instead we headed out to the mall to do a little bit of shopping, though when all was said and done we didn't end up getting anything.  Still, it was good to at least get out of the apartment and walk around a bit.

After work we headed over to Palmer park for some tasty cheap pizza and a quick stroll in the area.  The weather has been relatively cool, which is a welcome change from the several weeks of scorching days in the weeks prior.

After that we settled in to enjoy a little bit of Lord of the Rings Online since today is the official day it went free-to-play.

On another note - I'd like to take a moment to wish my mom a very happy birthday.  I can't be there to see her in person so this is the next best thing (besides harassing phone calls).  Love you mom!

On lunch today I noticed tents and port-a-potties were being set up in preparation for Celebration on the Grand which will be going on the next several days.

The day to day was mostly crap.  Work was busy and frustrating.  The only saving grace was a delightful lunch with Lori that recharged me enough to take on the afternoon.

The evening shaped up to be much better.  The noise cancelling headphones I'd ordered off of arrived today, so I played around with those a bit. Very nice.  I like them a lot.  I played some Lord of the Rings Online a bit and heard all kinds of things I never really noticed before, like walking through grass.  Mostly that's because I keep my computer sound down.  So these will be fun to use.

I also received a Taverncraft mug I'd ordered.  I'm a huge fan of dragons (if you can't tell from the above photo with two stuffed dragons in it) so when I heard they were making a Green Dragon Inn Stein AND that I could get a discount on it - I snagged one.  I've already been using it and have managed to chug down a lot of water. I can't even imagine what things would be like if I ever filled it with alcohol.

So the day ended on a good note.  And that's always a good thing.

This Tuesday back to work was a beautiful, windy day.  Lovely to sit in the sun, do some reading, and relax on lunch!

Today is a much less action-packed day than yesterday. But that's ok.  That's how Sundays (or in this case Monday) are supposed to be.

So I made some strawberry pancakes for breakfast and then set about to homework and blog post work.  Chris spent a few hours helping me create a flash file for a screenshot tips post that I'm working on.  I guess I should say he all but did the entire thing. He was very patient - which is great because I'm a horribly impatient student.

I made some chocolate chip cookies and hung out a bit enjoying the weather. It has been cooler this weekend - which means no air conditioning running and Leki is able to enjoy his cat tower.  He's also been able to enjoy lurking in all of the various open windows.  I have to make a periodic circuit through the apartment to make sure he's not damaging any of the screens after his escape last year (which apparently I never blogged about).

Now I'm just looking forward to finishing up the night playing some of the open beta of Final Fantasy XIV. It's still a little nuts in terms of lag, but stumbled across an "enable hardware mouse" patch someone wrote that fixes the mouse lag and makes it more playable.

The weather was warmer and the sun was shining so we headed out in the morning to PJ Hoffmaster State Park.

We made a few stops before we hit the park, checking out a comic store and the Lakes Mall.

PJ Hoffmaster was great.  Not too hot, not too cold.  The only real complaint I had was the sand.  I'm not a huge fan of climbing sand dunes or hiking on sand, but that's to be expected when you go to a beach.  Luckily the sandy portion of the Walk-A-Mile trail was short and we did minimal dune climbing.

Since it's the last day of the week for it, Chris and I decided to head down to the Fulton Street Farmers Market to see if there was anything tasty around.

There were plenty of tasty foods, from fruits and vegetables to baked goods.  There were also lots of flowers and a few stalls that sold hand-crafted jewelry as well.

It was fairly busy, which is to be expected on a holiday weekend.  Lots of tasty piles of fruit but I couldn't think of what I would do with a pint of blueberries or 8 peaches.  Still, if I need to make a pie or anything anytime soon I know where to go.

<-- This is a very beefy mouse.  It's not your average mouse. It's a Razer Naga mouse.  It has 17 customizable buttons.  Why? It's designed for computer gaming, but you can also program the buttons for anything.  So if you do a lot of work in photoshop or something else you can map those items to the individual buttons. Yeah, I know. It's excessive. But it's cool (and it glows blue, so extra brownie points).

Today has been a relatively windy and overcast kind of day.  I'd hoped to get out to the PJ Hoffmaster park and take some photos for the Lord of the Rings Online photo comparison blog, but the rain made me think better of it.

Of course in the afternoon there was a long dry period. So Chris and I took a long walk (just under 6 miles) and enjoyed the cooler weather.  We hit the overpriced used computer store on 28th while we were out and about.

I also decided to make a mithra-reskin on Gyshal.  I tried to maker her as orange as possible and named her after Leki.  She's way cooler and more graceful though. Well..and female...

Yeah, I could talk about the nap I took, the errands we ran, the laundry we did, or the 4th SATA drive I installed in my main desktop.  I could have even snapped photos of all of that.  But no - I completely forgot.  I spent most of the day waiting patiently until other things were finished up (since the weather was so lackluster for the first day of vacation) to play the open beta of Final Fantasy XIV.

It's a beautiful game.  I love Lord of the Rings Online. I love it to death and I think it's stellar but this game is newer and at first glance has a bit more detail going on - graphics-wise.

So yeah, it's pretty.  And if you're a fan of Final Fantasy XI then you'll probably feel at home and love the feel of this game.  As for me - I spent most of the time annoyed at how menu-intense the game is, just like Final Fantasy XI.

Still, there are plenty more days left in the open beta so I'm going to keep trying and get over the annoyance with the controls to try to enjoy the game. And maybe tomorrow I'll figure out how to turn off the UI for better screenshots...

Right now it's a game that both Chris and I are new to which means I don't have an advantage over him like I do in Lord of the Rings in terms of mechanics and quest familiarity.  So that's awesome.

The day was a crazy whirlwind of activity.  I spent all day Monday and Tuesday in training so that left me with Wednesday to get everything in order before I leave for vacation until after Labor Day.

That also means I didn't take a moment to think about a photo for this blog until about 11pm.

So what are you looking at? The "this page cannot be displayed" screen I kept getting trying to register for the Final Fantasy XIV open beta that launched at 10pm today.

I finally received the beta key in my email a little after 11pm, which meant I could go to sleep.  I'd have tried it in the morning but I wouldn't be surprised if Square-Enix closed the beta key giveaway because of the number of people already signed up.