Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas 2008

This year has been really busy and expensive for us. The closer it gets to our wedding date, the more crazy everything feels. It was my first year back in college as well, while working full time, and it's gotten so hectic that Terinati and I actually miss each other, even with living together. But, at the same time, it's been a GREAT year, and I have a lot to be thankful for, and consequently we wanted to give more.

I'm thankful for my friends, which I feel like I've come to understand more this year. It's difficult to understand people, and a lot of the time I think most people allow intrapersonal conflict to ruin otherwise good relationships (you know, the "what ifs" in our heads and the attempts to reason why a person is the way they are without actually talking to them about it), so I don't take my friends opening up to me or spending more time with me for granted. Especially since we're not the only busy ones! So, yay! Friends! Family! Cats are healthy! Life is pretty good. :)

I like creating for others with my hands something that they can enjoy. I'm not great at a whole lot, but over the past few years I've gotten pretty good at baking. :) YAY! I'm even so confident in my own ability now that I have parts of recipes memorized and am getting excited about trying to create my own new things or rediscover lost recipes by combining other items together. This is what I baked this year to send out to my family, friends, and co-workers:

5 days straight baking, between work and school assignments . . .
14 sour cream coffee cake loaves with hazelnuts, cinnamon, and brown sugar in the center.

And approximately 5 - 6 dozen each of snickerdoodles, chocolate chip cookies, and white chocolate-chunk and macadamia nut cookies.

And then later, I baked more. I LOVED IT! It feels good to work that hard for people you care about, imagining their smiling faces, and smelling like cookies isn't a bad thing either. ;) I'm convinced, baked goods could save the world. I will have to learn more vegan recipes, though. But, it was amazing how happy it made so many people. It made days that would have been otherwise busy and grueling considerably brighter for some. If I had the proper equipment, I might just consider dropping everything and going into business baking, I loved the feeling so much, but that's REALLY not practical right now, and especially not out here. Still, it was so totally worth it. YAY!

But, I couldn't have done it alone. Terinati was a HUGE help. If it weren't for him, it might've been a bit more stressful for me. He ran and picked up extra goods (we ran out of flour again this week) whenever I needed them, dropping whatever he was doing, and he gave me his hands since I didn't have enough of my own and worked as my extended me for the hardest parts. He also let me blast my music so that I could sing as I bake (it's a must; that's how I do it. I'm convinced it makes the cookies happier), even though I'm sure it was probably annoying him and breaking the LOTRO mood. Thank you, Sweetie!

I guess I never thought about how creative I like to be around the holidays before, but I've come to consider it a normal, yearly event for me to create some kind of present-creature, too. This year had only one feature creature, even though I made a couple. I didn't do this all of my life, though. With the burst of the Information Age, there came a lot of items that are really obvious when gifted. CDs, console games, etc. You look at it, and you know at least what type of item that is. I, however, prefer to be surprised. My parents always found really cool ways to surprise me, but I'm not good at gift-wrapping, and there's only so many places you can hide gifts in a one-bedroom apartment (though, I think I'm pretty good at hiding them... mwa ha ha!). So, I had to come up with my own way. I guess it's not a surprise that it came out silly and (hopefully) cute. :) So, here is what I came up with this year!

This is one of Terinati's gifts. I take surprising him very seriously, because he's very intelligent, hard to fool, and has this annoying habit of inspecting gifts too closely. So, this year I dug out EVERY single holiday/birthday item we had, and I found this red balloon. I had a brilliant idea to cut off the top, fill it full of fluff and the gift, and reattach the top and put a ribbon on it. There is a weight in the bottom (though, I still didn't master getting it to stand up by itself, so it does have to lean on something else), but it came out great because it looks like a giant ornament! YEAH! I'm pretty proud of it, though it does need some work. A regularly-priced wrapping job that didn't take too much time, but came out well. You can click on the image to see a bigger version of it. :) Hopefully, Terinati has no clue what it is. :o

This is another one for Terinati. I bet you can't even tell what it's hiding. That's the idea. ;) Don't you hate nested gifts... ;) Actually, this one is good because the two, individually wrapped gifts inside it are related.

This gift was for our friend Adam. We saw this math clock on ThinkGeek, and Adam works at his college doing math stuff and loves math, so as soon as we saw it we were like, "OMG! We must get it for him!" But, a box was too boring so I turned it into a mimic. It kind of honors the first holiday creature I made, which was a nested mimic (Guitar Hero for Terinati a couple years back).

This year, I made the featured present-creature for my dear friend, Kyriel. She moved out here this year, lived with us, and Terinati and I really do think of her as family. Since her boyfriend is off traveling with his family for the holidays, I wanted to make the time she spent with us in lieu of him even more special. Plus, her gifts were difficult to disguise. I came up with the idea of a gryphon-sled.

On the base is white wrapping paper with snowy flowers on it. I used slits in the base and plastic knives (cut so that the small tips attached to the front of the cardboard gryphon and the longer part to the back; you can see the relative size as compared to my 12-pound friend there, Stardust).

The gryphon itself was the longest part, taking a series of days. First, I printed out a picture I had of a gryphon, then cut it out, used the outline to draw on pieces of cardboard, cut them out, and the pieced together different wrapping paper with glue to form the pretty outside. I wish the inside was prettier and now, having more experience, would have done some things differently. Still, I hope she likes it and keeps it around as a holiday decoration thingy for years to come. :) But, if she doesn't, hopefully she'll at least enjoy it this year! The pictures really don't do it justice; much cooler in person.

Kyriel has been the best friend a girl could ask for. I appreciate her honesty and that we can accept our differences without even flinching. I mean, sometimes we have to take pause because we're both so crazy in different ways, but in the end I feel really comfortable just being myself with her, and I think that's a rare and special gift. I hope she feels the same with us! And, it's so awesome to see her so happy with Miguel. =^--^= Even though I know she's sad he won't be around this holiday, I think the fact that they miss each other so much is so sweet and precious that it's something to be treasured anyhow. :) You two are so cute together!! Kawaii!!

And finally, here's how we celebrated! Terinati had to work on the actual holiday, so we opened some of our gifts early, and then we opened the rest with Kyriel when she came over on Christmas!

I almost didn't do the video this year, but then I was looking through all the pictures (they don't capture all of the love shared with us this year, but give a general idea at least of how lucky and thankful we all are), and I figured, "Alright. Let's try it once more!" I'm really proud of this video. It's the best (I think) I've made so far. Unfortunately, that meant it was 10 mgs larger than the rest of my other videos, so hopefully it'll stream alright. :} I can't guarantee it'll be fun to watch for everyone, but I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December Princess Challenge

So, the Princess Portal gave their December Princess Challenge, and I was pretty excited to participate. The challenge was to give, either by charity or donation, to make the world a better place. For the most part, I feel guilty from time to time that I haven't volunteered for charity. It's not because I think that everyone does it, but because contributing to the world is important to me. I do my best in my own way, but sometimes I think my introversion holds me back from having real world experiences. Don't get me wrong; there's a lot a person can do hidden behind their computer screen. But, for me at least, this is about self-growth.

This meant two things for me. Since Terinati started handling the budget, I'm not really sure how much money we donate anymore, so I wanted to find out just how much we do contribute. Then, I wanted to do some kind of charity work that challenged my introverted nature!

Once I kept my eyes open for it, it seemed like there were opportunities all over the place. After a while, I started wondering if I could find someplace to donate to each day of December, and I did get a little nutty and ended up working on this blog all month:

12/01/08 - $1 donated to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital when making a purchase at CVS. I also posted on our Kitty Island forum to try and get our friends involved in the Princess Challenge.

12/02/08 - Terinati revealed to me that our donations to the Defenders of Wildlife are actually $10 a month (I thought we only donated once in a while), and $25 a year to Leadership Initiatives, a group formerly called X-Core that Terinati worked with in Nigeria for several months to help promising students to accomplish more. I was so proud of him for doing all that he did there with the others.

And, even though our budget was tight this month, we donated $1 to the Princess Portal as well (wish it could have been more!). While Princess Skye's website isn't a charity, per se, I think she definitely inspires good in people, and I want to support that. If it wasn't for her, this blog wouldn't even be here.

I also ended up making myself a pack of Annie Chun's Pad Thai Noodle Bowl since our supply of Thanksgiving turkey ran out, and while I was waiting for it to cook and looking at the packing, I noticed that they had a link listed for donating to buy children a meal. I decided to investigate it... 93 cents of every $1 goes toward the children... Had to check my budget after purchasing baking supplies for the Kitty Island Holiday Workshop (my kitchen ;) ).

12/03/08 - As a holiday gift for my friend and lover of sharks, I adopted a shark on her behalf through Oceana. A secret amount toward her beloved sea creatures in her name, and she receives a certificate and a cute shark-shaped cookie cutter. I can't wait to see her face! :) Meanwhile, on Kitty Island we were organizing an official charity outing with Princess Sue. More on that later.

12/04/08 - So, Desert Bus came to my attention because I was following Felicia Day's Twitter and she mentioned it (and Terinati reads Penny Arcade's comic regularly, and they are the creators of the Child's Play charity to which all donations related to the Desert Bus go). It's a pretty fun concept (well, possibly not if you're the person playing the game from what I've heard about it), but since the length of time the charity goes on depends on donations, I decided I'd put in my $1 quick before the time ran out. I don't know how much these $1 here and there help, but it's what we can afford on a budget so I still feel really good about it! Yay! :)

12/05/08 - So, I finally got back to the Annie Chun's donation for the Pad Thai bowl today and donated my $5. :) (They didn't allow anything lower than that, but meh!)

12/06/08 - Looking more at Child's Play, I noticed that they have t-shirts available and 100% of the proceeds go toward their cause. I know we need to save money, and I really don't need more shirts, but . . . I guess I'm really into the giving spirit now, and it would be nice to have some kind of souvenir to remind myself of the many discoveries I'm making with being proactive about this. After checking with Terinati, he said yes! (and, btw, these t-shirts are AWESOME; they were made sturdy and thick, and it is now one of my favorite shirts to wear)

12/07/08 - Princess Sue, who I met through Princess Kyriel, was running a charity with Teens Opposing Poverty (TOPs), and she offered that we could come join her! On December 7th, I went down to her castle with Terinati and went through some training. It wasn't mandatory, but I thought, "Hey, can't hurt." The training was actually pretty exciting and included good advice, like not sitting at the base of trees (=^><^=), and I uploaded the information I had to the Kitty Island forum to share with my friends. I brought a prettier variation of the petticoat tails to share as a contribution to the event.

One with butterflies...

And, one with hearts and flowers. Feel my magical girl power!

12/11/08- Princess RainShine participated in the challenge over the forum (yay! Everything is better when it's shared!). She lives far away from me, but she and her hubby donated 28 cans of food to a food drive, and also donates to the Salvation Army.

Meanwhile, Terinati donated $15 to help replace the Luke Hoffman's memorial statue that was stolen from his grave. And, what the heck? Who would STEAL that? * shames them *

The donations continued throughout the month, but I got busy and couldn't keep track of them all! It made me realize that I have nothing to feel guilty about. I even have done projects on my own when I was little, but I guess I never thought much of it because it was just tiny me! * eyeroll * One thing I've learned from this: don't underestimate your self-worth or the power of your contribution.

Continuing on!

12/29/08 - I baked 6 sour cream coffee cakes (without the usual filling of nuts, because they're hard and some people are allergic) to bring to the TOPs event. I had wanted to go out shopping for underwear for the homeless folks, but time ran out and to be fair, there are a lot of personal missions I haven't gotten to either that I really should get to, so it's not like I just dropped the ball on them. :} I also gathered together my collection of mispurchased shampoos and soaps (you know, the ones that are just off-colored enough from the other ones that you swear you read the right label but get home and are like, "Crap! That's not that one I meant to get!") and a scarf and mittens that I only wore once for a picture a few years ago and hoped that I would do a good job.

12/30/08 - Princess Challenge day! :D One of the folks I went with admitted to me that they were scared to go because we didn't know what types of people we would be helping. Honestly, I had that concern at first, too. But, I don't want to avoid experiences because I'm scared. Take necessary precautions, absolutely! But, what's the point of living in a body that's destined to die anyway if I'm going to shelter myself from everything? I think being scared is a reasonable reaction. I just want to become one of the people in the world who doesn't let fear stop them. It's not easy, but for me this was a step in the right direction.

I didn't really know what to expect when I went. In my previous experiences, I have been lunged at, had things thrown at me, screamed at, and otherwise been chased away. However, I realize that the location of those events had a great impact on them, and I'd never really tried this since I've moved here. One important thing TOPs does is find locations that are safe, and we also walked around with William, a man who really knows the streets from personal experience, and he pretty much knew who the trouble-people were and where good locations to go and help would be.

At first, I wasn't sure what to do when we arrived and met up with Princess Sue. Princess Kyriel, Prince Terinati and I had all brought items to contribute, and we went straight to work in the first park. It was pretty empty, and I was starting to worry that I wouldn't get a whole lot to do.

Not only that, but I immediately observed that homeless folks around here dress almost exactly like anyone else, so I couldn't really tell who was homeless to approach from the average person walking down the street. Talk about uncomfortable! I didn't want to walk up to someone and insult them. :p This has not been the case in other places I've lived. For one thing, the homeless were clearly homeless, usually sick, clothes in absolute tatters, filthy, etc. There was never any question who was in a bad spot. Even the street musicians who often got more donations (especially in Seattle, WA) weren't generally dressed this well. It's no wonder that people don't contribute to the homeless more here, where they can't tell many of them from anyone else on the street (that, and only one person today asked us for money out of probably 50+ people).

That brings me to a main striking point for me in this challenge. There are definitely regular homeless folks who are just like anybody else. They could be your family, a friend, an old co-worker, etc. They're just people. And then there are bad bums, the jerks who are just lazy, rude, suffering from some vice they don't even desire to quit, or fakers who pretend to be in a bad situation when they constantly have new gadgets and new fun toys like the spoiled gamer up the block. I hate bad bums. I'm not going to sugar-coat it. To the people who think you need to donate to everyone who asks, you don't. These people lie, hurt people, and worst of all, they ruin charitable contributions for those who really need it by making those who provide it defensive and unable to trust them.

This point was punctuated to me as I walked through a park with William and the others, and he stopped to point out a building. He told us how the gated doorways used to be a place where the homeless could sleep at night, and the guards would come early in the morning to clean up before workers came in. In fact, he told us, the area used to be full of charity toward the homeless and ways to help them get on their feet (some of which still exist), but most of them were gone because of a few guys who would let their vices take over their lives and trash the area, or make a mess in the public restrooms so that no one wanted them around anymore. It's the regular case of it taking only one person to ruin it for everyone.

Thankfully, though, while there isn't much for shelter or aid now, there are great things like apartments that are available to the homeless for a year with food stamps to help them get back on their feet. It was really cool to learn about all of that. It's important to not just give temporary solutions, but permanent ones. What good does it do to bring food today if they can't survive on their own tomorrow? Many of the homeless people who appreciate the aid realize this and do what they can to protect it by shunning the bad guys. I actually witnessed that firsthand today, too.

But, other than having the opportunity to hear stories directly from the homeless, William, and the TOPs folks, it was really cool to see people like this guy who are basically homeless by choice for a cause. I think that's really gutsy. You have to really believe in your cause to do that. Even if I don't agree with all of the causes that are out there, I think it's really amazing to have that kind of integrity. This is one person we met like that today (I got his permission to take these photos, of course).

Once we got into it, it was a really awesome experience. At first, only a few people were interested in my baked goods, but after we stopped in the shelter of an entrance to a station, the word "cake" spread like wildfire and we quickly ran out of the remaining loaves, so barely able to keep up that I got my right hand covered in cake. :} I learned for the next time (and, there will be a next time) that I need to pre-baggie these cakes . . . And make more of them. OMG. It all started with a guy who was laying on the ground who was looking at the hot dogs and potatoes everyone brought with disinterest, and then when he saw the bag he clearly said to Sue, "I want some of that CAKE!" heehee. :) I imagine food on the street isn't somethinig you can be really picky or choosy about, so it was cool that I had something different to offer because I made it all myself.

Terinati managed to find new homes for two bins full of clothes he no longer wore, and all of the shampoo and such that I brought also got taken. We left with nothing but our clothes, metro passes, camera, and a box of snack ziplock bags. It was really cool. So many people were passing out the cake that it wasn't really like it was from me either. It was really sharing the experience with everyone all at once. I can't wait until the next time we all head out together.

Friday, November 21, 2008

November Princess Adventure

A quick note before I get started: I have the picture from the end results of the Fitness Challenge now, so I wanted to post that real quick since I couldn't in the last blog! :)

And, the card that Terinati drew was to feed the kitties for a week! Not the hardest thing in my stack of cards, but I nice reprieve for me since the kitties demand to be fed on time at 5am and 5:30pm respectively.

And, now for being on topic! ;)

So, I ran into the Princess Portal last month. It's funny, but it seems like whenever I'm trying to search for something, and I'm not sure really what it is, I find it. That website brought out a part of me I had sort of lost, but was nagging to get out. It was actually life-changing, which may seem shocking to some people. Sometimes we really do just need someone else to highlight something in ourselves in order to take steps in the right direction.

Anyway, excited in the discovery of Princess Skye's very cool website and happy about the changes I was making in my life (it's constantly changing, but this has been very good!), I decided to pursue my dream for a "club." I've had it since I was a little girl, and I think it all melded nicely with the whole bringing the MUSH back (still in the works... my poor computers...) and it having a purpose! So, I thought, "Princess Club! Neat idea!" And, it'd be easy to start out with something simple such as doing the princess challenges together. :)

So! The November Challenge was to go on an adventure somewhere in our Kingdom. Here's how it went! * sprinkles you with fairy dust and takes you to another time and place . . . *


Three princesses, who also happen to be in my wedding party, were invited to join me on an adventure to explore our Kingdom! But, what was near didn't really interest us. We've explored here a lot already! It's time to find something new! So, to the outskirts of the Kingdom it would be.

Princess Anna wanted to see an apple orchard. It's winter, but I thought that could be interesting. I investigated and found some places that would still be open and even selling items for Thanksgiving. I also found one that was near a zoo and a hiking trail. Princess Kyriel and Illuminique were both game, so we made plans! Princess Anna would drive her carriage and make sandwiches, I would make cookies and get drinks, and we would all pitch in for the feed for her horses. ;)

The night before, however, Princess Anna came down with an illness, so Princess Kyriel took up the reigns instead! I made petticoat tail shortbread cookies the night before and brought sweet, grape drinks. Meanwhile, Princess Illuminique, who is closer to the outskirts of our Kingdom, was oblivious to the problems Princess Anna was facing. :} That's okay, because it was probably past her bed time anyway.

Here are the petticoat tails, which turned out very yummy! I think, because of their ease of make and opportunity for pretty detail (the Princesses recommended to me to use colored sprinkles in the future, which is a great idea!), it will be my regular cookie for Princess activities. * smile *

First, you make a shortbread dough, then you put it into a pan like so. I used a fork to make the fringe around the outside . . .

Then, you cut it into 12 equal pieces before baking. I'm really proud of this because I'm horrible with straight lines. :} And then, you bake!

Once it's done, you reinforce the lines and sprinkle it with some sugar, if you like. Powdered sugar may have been more pretty... (oo, especially with little heart-shaped bits!!), but it would have been more messy too. I was worried it would be too tough, but it actually came out soooo good!

In the morning, I sparkled up (I have no pictures, but there are still sparkles in my hair and on my face today. I love sparkles, when done subtly, and it was the least I could do since I don't really have princess wear for winter yet), put on eyeshadow, and headed out! :D

The first stop on our fantastic adventure! An apple orchard! I haven't been to an apple orchard since I lived in Washington state, which is famous for its apples. The apple orchard I went to there specialized in only apples, so I didn't really know what to expect from this one. It turned out to be an awesome find that I hope to return to many times in the future!

The Apple Orchard!! :)

Despite it being winter, it was beautiful out, as you can see. The wind was chilly on our faces, but the orchard still had apples on the trees, fun decorations, and this interesting pyramid of pumpkins that I thought was pretty cute.

The main feature of the orchard was its shop. Once inside all three of us were overwhelmed with the great assortment of goods there was to find, not to mention the store's fantastic aroma! All three of us picked up some of their delicious apple cider (they had samples; it was like drinking fresh apples! YUM!), and I also purchased some things I thought would make the holiday brighter at home: Strawberry Rhubarb Fruit Spread (something I've missed since we moved away from Wisconsin), Pickled Beet Balls (I LOVE pickled beets!!), a Banana Nut Bread scented candle, and a box of spices for making your own hot mulled cider or spiced wine! Since my castle is very small, I was really happy because I felt these things would make it feel more homey for the holidays and release some of the tension I've been having.

After shopping, we explored the orchard some more and found a pretty gazebo, some kids toys, and then an Apple Castle!! :D heehee! I climbed to the top, even though it was small and hard to get up there.

Here is Princess Kyriel in the doorway of the Apple Castle . . .

And the fair, Princess Illuminique looking out one of the Apple Castle's many windows with a regal expression. heehee. It was so fun there!

After taking one last look at the lovely apples on the trees (were those the Pink Ladies?), we headed on our way to the next destination on our Princess Adventure!

Not too far away was a zoo. We rode down to it, and there were a few cars parked there. But, when we came up to the building, the store sign said they were closed! :( Princess Illuminique tried the door, even though it was dark, and it opened!! :O Curiously, I boldly went inside and said, "Hello? Hello??" But, no one was there. We looked around the gift shop and were glad that we were all honest people, because no one WAS there and someone could easily steal the things in their shop! :( So, no safari ride, and no souvenirs to bring from that trip since there was no one to sell us anything, but we got to be in a store when it was closed, and that was exciting for the few minutes we were in there, at least. :} We called and confirmed that the zoo was indeed closed, even though staff was obviously around somewhere. Apparently, while it was not too cold out for humans, it was too cold out for the animals, so we continued our merry way to the next destination . . .

The State Park!

There was supposed to be a waterfall and some other sites to see, but the park was mostly closed for the winter. I wasn't expecting a whole lot, actually. I thought we would have lunch there, in the carriage (because it was so cold outside of it!) and then probably leave. However, we made another great find! The most amazing adventure!!

As we traveled through the woods on the paths, we came across this strange . . . thing? I bounced on it several times, challenging the fear of falling, and discovered that my many exercises to improve my balance have been working well for me! heehee.

Kyriel discovered this zip line . . . But, where does it lead? One by one, we traveled down the zip line, bravely, to discover what lay at the end . . .

AHHHHH!!! DRAGON!!!! Kyriel bravely checks to see if it's sleeping . . .

OMG! It's not! Quickly! We must save her!! :O :O

After escaping the dragon and heading down a trecherous trail of traps that tested our physical skills, I climbed to the top of this tower of another castle we found, overlooking the site. Indeed, the dragon seemed to have lost interest in us. ;)
At the very top of the tower, I found this marking. I always wonder when I see things written like this . . . Does whoever wrote it still love that person? How in love were they? Did this writing have a significant meaning in their life and relationship? Was it an expression of unreturned love? So many stories behind the writing left behind that I discovered. In fact, one tree that we found in the park had writing on it dated from 1974, and from the looks of the tree and how the writing had widened like a tattoo on an aged woman, it probably really was that old! Wow . . . Did they know Princesses would come to read their tales over 40 years hence? ;)

And here is where we sat, by a creek (it's almost impossible to see in the photo), to eat the sandwiches Princess Kyriel made with cookies and sweet grape drink from Japan. Yum. It was a great way to end the adventure before returning home, sitting, talking, and relaxing as we looked out into the trees. It was something quite beautiful. All of the leaves were the same, pretty pale color as far as the eye could see. As Kyriel pointed out, you could see so many trees because of the leaves being mostly on the ground, and then in the distance where the trees get thicker it looks like a wall of trees. It was enchanting, and I hope we get to go back there someday when it's warmer. Perhaps we will encounter the fierce dragon again! Dun dun DUN!

Well, I need to run now and get ready for some regularly scheduled maintenance. I'm still happy and daydreaming about yesterday and all of the great stuff we found, and I'm REALLY looking forward to whatever challenge comes up next month that we'll hopefully all be able to share. Blog again soon, unless the time beast comes after me once more. Sayonara!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Halloween, Birthday, and... Fitness Challenge Results! Oh my!

So, I have a lot of catching up to do, and there won't be time next weekend either, so... I'm cramming it in RIGHT NOW. :} lol.

So, yes, the Halloween Party. I definitely couldn't have done it alone. Kyriel and I did it together, though I think she was definitely more in charge than I was, even though it was at my apartment. I just wanted it to be fun, but she was the mastermind behind the activities, including goodies to eat and movies to watch (like a Garfield Halloween special and "Hocus Pocus," a definite Halloween classic). Anna also contributed goodies, and we all had a good time. Somehow, Saudi managed to not get in our pictures, but he was there, I assure you.
First, pretty much everyone pitched in with decorating . . . and had way too much fun doing it.

While I don't think the food I made turned out as good as at the Overnight Ninja Party (I should have listed to Kyriel when she told me the Thai Fish Sauce smelt bad; it normally smells bad, but it was REALLY funky, methinks... or maybe I was just expecting something different from my rats on a stick... ah well), but the other contributions, like Anna's cupcakes, were fantastic! So, go everyone else! Just goes to show that when I don't have time, I'm not such a great hostess. :} Lesson learned. But, look how delicious it was anyhow! :)

The punch in the last shot was a recipe we found online, with a hand made of ice. It came out pretty cool and SOOO tasty, despite how gross it sounds. We had to substitute one of the Koolaid packet flavors, but I think it ended up better than it would have been. The original recipe was to make the punch look black, but ours came out blood red! Definitely a keeper, that one! We still have an extra frozen hand in the freezer, though... :}

Oh! Oh! And, you musn't forget the costumes!!

As you can see, Adam was a ghostbuster, as was Saudi.

Sadly, the snakes in her hair didn't show up in this picture, but Anna was Medusa!

And here is the Sultan Miguel and his lovely... cave woman, er, Kyriel. :} heehee. It looks cheesy, but they really are that ridiculously happy when I see them together. Isn't it cute? :)

Oh yeah! And here's me in the outfit I put together at the Ren Faire and at the local mall (the skirt part) with Kyriel's help!

So, that was Halloween! Wish I could say more about it, but... I am pressed for time, curse it!

That being said, moving on!

On November 2nd, I celebrated one of my work-friends, Temple, at a surprise masquerade birthday with an under the water theme (she loves sharks!). So, here are some tidbits from that! It was really sweet. She was so loved, and I just always feel so many warm fuzzies when I see something like that, with people coming together for someone they care deeply about.


Here is the lady of honor as she arrived, sparkling like a jem of the sea! :)Here she is with family . . . :)

And then here she is being surprised with her best friend having been flown in!! :D

I also did take several videos of her opening presents, but it was too dark so they didn't come out well. So, instead, I'll share with you this cute picture of her holding up one of her gifts! ;)

And now, I am only remiss in e-mailing folks pictures, which will just have to wait until tomorrow.

QUICKLY! Technical updates! So, troubles with both of the computer towers I tried to install stuff on today to run the MUSH separately from my own personal computer. GAHH! We have the monitor, and things are SOOO close to being done. In fact, I had everything installed and when I tried to log in remotely is when the server computer crashed and said that the hard drive is borked. It hasn't been used in well over five years, so I'm not entirely surprised. I'm not giving up, though! Perhaps I can fix the other, more reliable computer that was having issues. * PUFF * It's very frustrating to be so close and yet so far. I'll keep you posted.

Also, you'll notice on the right-hand side that I've started using Twitter. It's easier than blogging, for the most part, and just kind of fun. :) Even if no one watches it, it at least allows me to acknowledge that I'm living all of the freaking time. :} heh.

FINALLY, the results of the Fitness Challenge. That's right, it's been TWO MONTHS! I got down to 128 pounds in this time, too, which is pretty happy for me. I still have a ways to go (us short girls have to work harder!), but I'm very happy with my progress and that it was gradual, how I planned it.

Without further ado, here is the score board!

Dream Senshi: 40
Terinati: 24

I was going to be cool and post the picture here, but the card wouldn't read for a second time for some odd reason... I guess it felt left out with everything else that wasn't functioning properly today. :} Anyway, I'm pretty shocked by that! I mean, Terinati works very hard. We both got sick for a while too, so that hit us hard. I think if we hadn't gotten sick, we would have both had more points. Ultimately, I squeezed in more time by getting up earlier, which really wasn't an option for Terinati because of his crazy work schedule. But, I win! And, just to be nice, rather than give him the entire packet like they suggest in the game, I'm going to have him draw just one card. What it will be? I don't know yet. I'll post that later, 'cause, speaking of sleep... I need to get some! :o

Anyway, wish me luck! This week promises to be another crazy ride. * sighs * I hope I can get the server working, but I imagine for now I'll be running it the usual way off my own computer. Bleh.

Take care, Everyone!

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Legend of Dream Senshi

Most people aren't curious where my most used screen name comes from. I get a lot of reactions like, "Er, why aren't you using English?" heh. Well, it's a long story which is relevant to something I've been feeling lately, so I'm going to write about it anyway.

About five years ago, I loved MUSHes. Most of the ones I enjoyed were no longer populated with my friends. Heck, most of my friends were busy with their own lives, as was I, and we had become fairly disconnected (... darn puns...). And then, I met this girl online. I never thought I'd make a friend like her. She's gone now, but I still think back fondly on the memories shared from time to time, even if they were sad in their own right. Being able to be truly yourself is a valuable, precious, and fragile thing.

I only bring her up because while I knew her, we talked about Sailor Moon. Mostly, this anime is unpopular these days it seems. Little girls still like it, I personally love it, but the population who were crazed fans when I first discovered it have mostly moved on to new things to love and there are a lot of people out there who argue about what's canon, and a lot of people who want to mix Sailor Moon with just about any anime ever made... or Star Trek (seriously? why?). I've even had someone tell me that Sailor Moon is too "old" to bother watching. Whatever the case, at the time I knew the girl, I loved it. And, I loved it more in the original Japanese manga, where they were senshi, warriors, not scouts. To be honest, I still hold it precious and own every DVD and manga in Japanese.

I wanted to create a world. I wanted desperately to create a safe haven for myself and my friend where dreams would stream endlessly on. Just a creative world of art to share and find peace with. So, why not a MUSH? A simple, text-based server would do, I thought. I started working on it.

But, the world needs a name. Every world has a name. It was a place for dreams to be held sacred and loved and cherished, where hopes never die. So, I called it Dream Senshi, like "Dream Warrior." I know that Yume no Senshi would be technically more correct, however I wanted to mix English and Japanese. It symbolized, to me, a place where dreams are protected. It made me happy. So, it was named!

Problems: No one would connect to said world, which is understandable. It was my dream, not theirs. And, the world really served no practical purpose except to stay connected and to dream. Also, those who were interested were put off by problems with getting them connected and the fact that I couldn't run the server all of the time.

Eventually, Dream Senshi became just a place for playing role-playing games to log. Not really what I had in mind, but it's useful all the same. The friend was gone, the dreams had changed, and so I made Dream Senshi my own screen name, to symbolize that I wouldn't give up and that my hopes and dreams would stay with me forever. I guess that's kind of cheesy, but... it's a constant reminder of who I am. It symbolizes my feelings very well.

I don't really know if that's particularly interesting or not, but I can't go into too much detail about it, really. And, there isn't too much to say. But, in the last week, I suddenly got this undeniable, creative urge. I still want to create my dream world.

I tried to talk myself out of it. I said, "But, no one will come. Those who will want to come I may not want to share this with." But, I need to do it, and I don't know why. So, I started looking at what I had. The world still works, but it needs some fixes. I'm probably going to destroy a huge chunk of it that I made that no longer serves a purpose for me. The weather system needs to be fixed; I may have installed the wrong version, which would explain a whole lot, but I really like having weather. So, I started with searching for code. Making backups isn't too big of a deal. I should get a USB for it, so I don't have to worry about CDs. Maybe 2 USBs, to use interchangeably. It's just one, small server after all. How to run full time? Well, since I've got my new computer, the old computer which is still good (though, I worry about her running all of the time... :( We'll see... ) could serve the game, so Sora, my current computer, would be safe.

Basically, I've found all of the solutions I think I need to make it happen. I wasn't going to write about it. I guess it's kind of private, but I felt like I needed to for whatever reason. And, I know I'll eventually want to share it, when I'm closer to fixing the ucky problems. Once we get another surge protector strip, I'll pretty much be ready to start... other than that I'm working full time, going to school, and preparing for a wedding. HA HA HA. So, the process will be slow, as always, but the first thing that will happen is that it will be up. It will be a good way to test the effectiveness of the serving before I have other people on it again. I guess I'll let you know how it goes. I'm really hoping to have it up and running starting this week. I'm not really cut out to be admin, but that's alright. This isn't a big project for other people, just for me. It's important, somehow. I really can't explain my sense of urgency with wanting to do it, but it's been on my mind constantly. I guess we'll see what comes of it. I must pursue this dream!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ren Faire and other Updates

I have been remiss in my posting! But, to be fair, a lot has been going on. As you can see from the above shot, we finally got to the Ren Faire for the last weekend, Chivalry Weekend, to celebrate my birthday. Yes, a bit late, but it was the first day Terinati had off. The group included Kyriel, myself, Terinati, Anna, and Adam, and we actually stayed the entire day! :o But, that should tell you how fun it was! Huzzah!

I was relieved that the boys had as much fun as they did. There are many games at the Ren Faire, but usually they're the last thing I think about when I've gone in the past. In fact, I may not have even noticed them, really. :} I was always more interested in the shows and the shopping. But, watching Adam and Terinati play was really enjoyable. I really think they had a great time together. :)

And yes, jesting is pretty normal at the ren faire. It's all very good-natured, and very contangeous. ;)

We visited many shops, had WAY too much to eat (turkey legs, funnel cake, pretzels, ice cream, cream puffs, nuts, etc.). Terinati and I met with a gypsy who was very nice, too! It was pretty cool.

Also, Terinati found a Ren Faire costume! They sure aren't cheap, but he looks awfully good in it, no? :)

I got a new costume too, but I didn't wear it because it was COLD there and I didn't have a complete outfit with me, so I'll probably have pictures later after Halloween! ;) But, Kyriel did get a tail added to HER costume . . .

And, while I didn't wear a costume, I did have my face painted. Isn't it awesome?! I'm thinking of modifying it for the wedding! It's just sooooo pretty (and I'm not big on traditional makeup and I had this sort of vision in mind anyway).

I was really sad to wash off such an intense design. Kudos to the artist!

We ended the day with the joust, where no one fell off their horses, although one guy got a javelin stuck in his shirt, and it looked like it really hurt. :o I hope he was okay! You can barely make it out in the second video right before it slides down.

That was such a fun day. It was one of those where you know it's good because you're sad you have to end it, but at the same time ending it sooner rather than later is really for the best.

The Fitness Challenge continues! I currently have 14 points to Terinati's 12, although I think I'll be gaining a bigger lead after this week. Thanks to joining Spark, it occurred to me that I could safely break up my workouts throughout the day, and that has been REALLY going well for me. Also, thanks to Professor Pinel (I LOVE YOUR BOOK!!! I AM YOUR NERDY FAN!!) , I've taken lunches out of my life. That's right! I only eat breakfast and dinner now, and drink water the rest of the day. Increasing the fasting period is easier on my body, and it makes it so much easier to resist evil temptations at work, like candy by the desk or pastries that get brought in. I'm eating healthier and feeling SOOO much better and am more energetic. And, I still eat the same sized dinners and breakfasts, so I'm not overeating as much as I used to either. It was a gradual process, but so far it's had success. I think the hardest part has been that everyone else I know still eats lunches, and I think some people worry that I have some kind of eating disorder (trust me, if you saw what I had for dinner most nights, you would NOT worry :} ) or feel awkward. * shrug * It's healthier for me and it's working, so I'm not changing it, though. :)

On Monday, I had an endoscopy. It was really a strange experience. Nothing shows you just how tense you are the rest of the time like being on anesthesia. Also, IVs hurt. I wasn't expecting that at all! I thought it'd be like getting a shot, but I still have a bruise from it and it was sore for two days after. Pulling my rollling backpack down the street on the first day after was really tough! On the other hand, the pictures are really cool and I'm saving them for any other biopsychology studies that I do.

So, yeah. That's part of why I've been so busy. I received another 4.0 in my Biopsychology class (it's really cool when your grades add up to be 99.xx%!), so huzzah! And now I'm learning Industrial/Organizational Psychology. I've already learned some interesting stuff about that, but wish me luck! But, for today, I need to focus on preparing for our Halloween party tomorrow evening! :o Wish me luck!