A relaxing Monday evening. Just how every Monday should end.

This weekend is the first open beta weekend for Guild Wars 2. With one day left in the weekend I had to make the most of it. 

So I downloaded the beta client and logged in to create my first character. A Charr. I rolled a ranger, which meant I am able to choose my own awesome sidekick (aka pet).
After a little while running around in the battle-centric Char opening, I created a Norn. More specifically, an engineer, which basically just made me a steampunk-themed giant. 

I'm ok with that. 

I had a lot of fun playing both races, though I'll be honest I enjoyed the more nature-loving Norns a bit more. 

Guild Wars 2 has what they call dynamic events, which is essentially an event that you can join as long as you're in proximity to the event area. Think of it like a quest that you automatically join as long as you're close enough (and the event is happening). So there's no need to join any group or instance and if you don't want to participate you can just ignore the event. Events can be helping a villager or defending an area from attackers. I first saw this system used in Warhammer Online (called public quests), then again in Rift (ex Rift event).

I love these types of events. They're awesome. I'm really happy to see another game using this type of system. 

I look forward to more beta weekends and definitely the retail launch of the game. 
Chris spent a chunk of the day at the apartment boxing up the last of his stuff, plus he did some yard work and other things. Yard work seemed a little ambitious so I decide to bake some things....

I started with lemon poppy seed muffins. I haven't tried one yet but I've been told they're great.

While those were baking in the oven I started prepping some home made samoa bars. The caramel on them is actually cooling as I type this - so they're not done yet.
I also had the bread machine going making a batch of Naan dough. This first batch was pretty tasty, but I already have ideas on how to make it better.

There was also a half batch of chicken cordon blue and some butter chicken (also known murgh makhani). Everything except the butter chicken I made from scratch. I'm still missing at least one ingredient - so I used a mix. Not as tasty as doing it from scratch, but not as terrible as I thought it was going to be either.

Well, I should go finish those samoa bars before it gets too late...

Chris has a pretty awesome coupon for grocery, so we did the most intense grocery shopping I've ever done in my life. We stocked up on every single dry good, canned good, and frozen thing that will last awhile that we could think of.

I'm not huge on shopping (unless it's ducking in an out of something like IKEA super fast - I like mission-based shopping) so I was pretty exhausted by the end of it.
While I recovered from shopping (aka played some Mass Effect 2), Chris did some yard work.

I was so into playing the game I didn't actually realize how long he'd been gone or that he wasn't even in the house. Oops.
Also, Chris is pretty sure I made my Shepard character look like Claudia Christian as Ivanova from Babylon 5. I think he's right. 

I'm sorry, I just can't in good conscious design a character with floppy hair that will get in her eyes. That is just silly. It also drives me nuts when movies and TV shows have women spinning around shooting and ass-kicking but their hair is down to the butt and free flowing.

Yeah, cause in real life that would never cause a problem.....

(I realize that hair is often long because long hair is seen as "feminine" whereas short hair is not - but that's a whole other issue for a whole other blog post.)

After spending an evening with Adam and Comfort on Wednesday, I was itching to play Mass Effect all the more. I'd stopped before we started moving because of my wrists and I'm so close to the end.

I've been doing stretches and physical therapy, so I figured I should test drive the wrists. Right?

Well, that's the excuse I used to spend an evening gaming.

I beat  Mass Effect (note to self - never EVER stop a game in the middle of a climatic point of a game), sat for a moment, then immediately popped in Mass Effect 2.

I hate to say this but game was better than Dragon Age. And I love medieval settings over science fiction/space settings any day.

 The Fontain Street Church hosts a lot of events. I've honestly never been to one, until now.
There was a debate tonight between Susan Jacoby and Dinesh D'Souza on the merits of Christianity in American politics. It was free, so how could I pass that up?

Interesting debate, with both sides pretty well represented in the audience.

ACEN is this weekend, which means Adam and Comfort have another con in Chicago this month, so they swung by again so we could hang out, eat food and...
....take an awesome walk through the park we lovingly call Endor (or, as Adam correctly pointed out, fourth moon of Endor) - which is Palmer Park.

It was an awesome night. I wish we lived closer to each other so we could hang out, talk nerdy things and politics.

Tomorrow Adam and Comfort (the Uniques) will be in town on their way to ACEN (a fun Anime convention in Chicago this weekend). So that means tonight is a perfect night to prepare some tasty treats for their visit tomorrow. 

I made some brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and welsh cookies. I don't actually expect anyone except me to eat the welsh cookies, but that's ok. I really like them for some reason. I think it's the currants and nutmeg (that's a photo of welsh cookies, by the way, not chocolate chip cookies).
While I was busy making treats, Chris was busy hanging some window treatment. We bought some thin drapes for the slider in the dining area over the weekend and tonight is a good night to put them up.
They look alright so far. They kind of cast an odd orange glow in the room when they're pulled shut, but that's ok. They mostly just look weird to me for being there. I was getting used to nothing over the window.

I really want to make murgh makhani (aka butter chicken). There are a few other Indian dishes I'd like to try my hand at as well, but it is best to try to tackle one dish at a time.

But what do you need to make such a dish? Spices I don't typically stock. Namely, tandoori masala and garam masala.

So after receiving some awesome direction from awesome twitter people, I headed out today after work to India Town. The guy there was very helpful, pointed me in the right direction, and had a super tasty smelling store (it is probably the restaurant next door).

I picked up a few spices and off I went. My intent was to get something started tonight for a tasty dinner tomorrow, but as soon as I got home I couldn't find the original recipe I'd found and there are a ton of variations with all kinds of other requirements.

I think I need another trip to the grocery store.

Anyway, in the rush of the day I only took a kind of crappy photo of India House. Its more awesome than those white bottles let on, I promise.

This afternoon (or as it is know, crafternoon), I'm headed over to Amy's house for a coaster crafting party (inspired by pinterest).

I have a lot of random coasters, but I'm always misplacing them. So this is a good opportunity to hang out and make some weird coasters.
Originally I thought about some Doctor Who themed coasters (Tardis, Dalek, c'mon people!). Then I thought that dragons might be a good idea. I mean, I love dragons enough that I have dragon tattoos.

But no. These would not do.
Instead I decided to go with some old paintings I really like - The Lady of Shalott and Ophelia.

I followed a helpful DIY tile coaster tutorial that involved tissue paper.

So I pulled out a gazillion sheets of tissue paper. Chris pointed me to and helped me with Inkscape to get two 4x4 tiles set up on a sheet of paper.

We tried to feed the tissue paper (taped to card stock) through his color printer but no luck. So I ended using my printer and doing the whole thing in black and white. I tweaked the photos a bit to give them more contrast, but even still Ophelia is still as easy to make out as The Lady of Shalott.

Amy lives very close to me. Like, within walking distance. So on such a beautiful day I walked over to her place. I met the very funny and amusing Regina and had a good time with everyone while gluing paper to tile.
After the coaster crafting party I came home and decided that I should do another coat. So I slathered on another layer of some weird glue called Mod Podge.
They don't look bad, although part of me wishes they'd been in color. 

Now all that's left is to spray on some clear coat, attach some felt, and we can start using these coasters.

I woke up early today. Early enough to hit Marge's Doughnut Den before 7am for some tasty confections.

I was ready to start the day but after I got home and ate a few doughnuts, I passed out on the couch until around 11am. The cat, kindle, and blanket are a pretty terrible combination for me if I want to do anything other than nap.
"We" put together the patio table. I say "we" because mostly I helped bring things out to the patio then ducked back in to read my book. I'm so close to being finished with it!
Some awesome woot shirts arrived today. Hurray!

In the evening we headed over to the apartment and boxed up some more stuff. Yes. We still have more stuff to move. More stuff than I care to admit.
Then we ran a few errands and came home to set up the futon. As you can see, Leki is very excited that he has another room he can now explore.

Rainy days like today just make me want to curl up with tea and a book.

Then promptly fall asleep.

I love Leki. He's an adorable, cuddly cat. He mostly loves people, food, and being inactive. He was a terribly inactive kitten and as a four year old he's not any better. Honestly, the only time I've seen him move really fast is to beat up my parents dog, who out-weights him by quite a bit. As a result of his inactive lifestyle he has some padding he shouldn't have and, quite honestly, he's slowly turning into a fat house cat.

That's not what I want.

I call him sausage-meow-meow, or sausagey. It's a good thing he doesn't understand what I'm saying because his ego would be crushed.

I'm hoping that with the new house, which has several half flights of stairs, that he'll start to slim down. We're not feeding him any more than usual and he's certainly more active than he was in the apartment. I mean, he has to go down two levels to use the litter pan. That's bound to do something, right?

Here's hoping he gets less sausagey in the new house.

So after reading an article on The Atlantic about a game developer, Jonathan Blow I thought I'd look up Braid. I'd heard things about it years ago and I am a fan of puzzles and side-scrollers, so why not?

So I was super excited to discover I'd actually already purchased it in a Humble Indie Bundle. That sounds weird, right? Shouldn't I already know I own it?

See, Humble Indie Bundle takes a bunch of indie games, bundles them together, and lets you pay what you want for the set. They're DRM free and usually available across multiple platforms. What's not to love? So I've bought several bundles. The only problem I have is I have a lot of little indie games now and I don't always remember which ones I have and which ones I don't. I haven't played through them all either. I remember most of their names but Braid is one I can never remember. Do I own Braid or was I just confusing it with Kraid (Metroid villian)?

Anyway, I've been playing it a little bit on an off the past few days (wrists be damned!), enjoying the music, backgrounds, and time-traveling bit. I love Metroid and other quiet, solo games so this is right up my alley (though I guess you could argue that the latter Metroid games are getting less and less solo). Anyway, fun game, glad I already owned it.

Also, I now feel super guilty at not playing the rest of the indie games I have. And then have another Humble Indie Bundle up right now! Although I own two of the 5 they currently have up. Still....

Oh blue skies and sunshine, how I have missed you.

Today was round 2 of physical therapy. Today involved giant, battery operated, medicated patches.

After a gazillion recommendations online to catch Cabin in the Woods, we went to the cheap showing this morning at the one and only Star Theatre in Grand Rapids. Awesome flick. Seriously. I was avoiding it because I assumed it was going to be like Saw.

If I had to pick anything I'd say it was more akin to Scream, although it was not Scream.

Ok, that's all I have to say. Just go see it.
Yesterday I lamented that my weird taste in welcome mats was vetoed. Today, on our way back from the movie, we swung by the store to pick one up. WE HAVE RIDICULOUS OWLS NOW! I'm more excited than I should be for a crazy looking welcome mat.
After the movie I spent a chunk of the afternoon setting up my portion of the office. We had to make a trip to the apartment to snag one thing (which turned in to several things since we were there) and BAM! I had a desktop setup again.

The cat was mostly helpful in his "let me explore everything" kind of way. I tried to set up a small area for him to lay on next to me (as he often insists on having) but he's snubbed it in favor or walking on the wainscot (at least I think that's what that stuff is called).

With a new house comes new shopping requirements, such as lawn gear. Combine that with an awesome coupon and that sent Chris and I on a far too long (for my taste) shopping extravaganza.

We picked up a crazy amount of stuff for in and out of the house, including weed killer. So Chris mowed the lawn and then blanketed the yard in week killer (which our front yard is mostly comprised of).

We also bought a new vacuum cleaner. The one we have now is one my parents bought me about 7 years ago. It works ok, but it really hasn't cleaned as well as it used to in the last several years. I've tried replacing filters, belt, and other things but nothing has really helped.

So this time we decided (with the aid of a sale and coupon) to try a Dyson. Wow that thing is light. Amazingly light. We took turns messing around with it. In fact the only one who didn't appreciate was the cat, who promptly buried himself on a shelf in the basement.

Once the vacuum was off the cat relaxed and came out to do what he does best - snuggling.

We headed over to the apartment after work to pack a few more things and finally move over Chris's computer. Up until this point he has just been accessing his desktop remotely, but it was finally time to move things over.

In the move I snagged a box of photo albums my parents gave me when my grandparents died. So while Chris was setting up his desktop I was flipping crusty pages of old albums mostly stuffed full of baby photos of Jeff and I.

For the record, birthday cakes from the 80s still look good by today's standards. Childhood fashions? Not so much.

Today was day one of physical therapy for my tendinitis and tennis elbow. It was weird. First I hung out in some heated corn husk thing that's supposed to loosen muscles.

Then they used electrodes to run a current in my arm across where the pain is. It was supposed to give a few hours of relief. I didn't notice anything.

I'm skeptical of these doing anything....

In other news, I used redbox for the first time. What an adorable machine that spits out tiny cartridges of DVDs. So cheap too!

Chris and I both got off a little early from work to hang out with the awesome Adam and Comfort!
I'm happy I prepped the main course yesterday because I spent more time than I thought making the breadsticks and brownies. I fail at planning, apparently.
We took a walk down a few different trails. Adam and Comfort love to walk trails so it was great to be able to hang out and walk them with them.

We hung out all night, watching random internet videos, talking about all types of random things, and just hanging out.

Totally awesome day.

Tomorrow Adam and Comfort (The Uniques) will be in town, hanging out on their way to C2E2. Because they're vegetarians, I decided to prep dinner the night before so we could hang out longer and easily warm things up when we were ready to eat.
I made Lasagna Rolls (tofu ones and meat ones). I spent quite a bit more time than the recipe suggests to make these, or than I thought. Partially because this is the first meal I've ever made with tofu (and I was paranoid I'd do something wrong) and partially because I was making some extra meat-only rolls for Chris.
 While I was busy prepping the main course for tomorrow Chris was downstairs hanging the last of the drapes in the bathroom. Hooray for privacy!

It's Monday, so it's a low key day. I spent a chunk of it reading a book on my kindle (I checked out my first ebook yesterday from the Kent District Library - less painful than I'd anticipated).

Chris was awesome enough to hang the drapes we picked up Saturday. He did a much better job than I would have. For one - things are level. I totally would have made a mistake, said who cares, and moved on.

I am not a patient person.

We headed out in the morning for the east side of the state to spend Easter with my parents. We got to spend some time with my little brother.
I watched my parents fuss in the kitchen making the final meal preparations. Swedish meatballs!
Plus, while we waited, there was a delicious basket of treats to nibble from. Peeps, chocolate things, and all sorts of tastiness!
I took a photo of this butter-holding cow because it amuses me. I dont know why.

Anyway, we spent a few hours hanging out with my family, talking about various things like the new house, bad rating systems, just a whole bunch of things.
As it started to get later in the afternoon Chris and I left my parents so we could swing by IKEA and pick up a few things.

We got there around 4:45pm. They closed at 6pm.
We raced through the various sections, ignoring whole areas that we knew we didn't need anything for.
About 45 minutes later we were walking through the final warehouse setup before the checkout.  15 minutes after that we were checked out and headed to the car.

IKEA in an hour? That's my kind of shopping!
We ended the day driving into the sun. It was like this almost the entire way until we hit about Lowell. Then it was just a wall of clouds.