Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Crops Have Made It!

Well, after a wet and VERY cold spring, our garden is finally harvest able. We have a lot of peas currently. Little Farmer Smith likes to pick them in her pink boots. If you come to our house for dinner, most likely, we'll serve you peas. Kohlrabi is a delicious new treat (at least for Shalisa). And we ate our first 3 crowns of broccoli recently. Yellow squash is coming along and zucchini close behind. The beets are ready and delicious, but no one but Shalisa will eat them. We planted a second spinach crop as ours bolted a few weeks ago. We should have fresh spinach again soon. We very much want a winter garden. I know we were supposed to have planted at the beginning of this month, but maybe some of the crops we can plant anyway. Anyone have any experience on this?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Our "Make-It" Day.

We had a pretty full day of STUFF. It wasn't very sunny this morning, and was actually chilly to me. So we started our day by making something yummy. I replaced the wheat germ with coconut because I couldn't decide if what I thought was wheat germ actually was wheat germ (bulk bin buying, I should probably label!) Madeleine had a great time with these. She dumped in all 3 ingredients and stirred a bit. She got to help make the balls and of course, the best part...tasting. She's always my taster. But I think it can be tastier when you actually put a little elbow grease into it yourself. Then I figured out how many calories was in our half batch. Doh! I never should do that! I never like the figures. Oh well. I can splurge, I'm breastfeeding...right? But these really are more good supplemental treats for kids.

Then we made up a batch of clay to make a silly sculpture. I was going to put the clay on waxed paper on the table. But when I pulled out the roll there was only about 8 inches left. So then I got to thinking of what else we could do with it and remembered crayon stained glass I did as a kid. Maddie enjoyed this. I even let her help iron. And I gave her a choice of shapes and she chose a butterfly for the cutout.

Then on to make the sculpture. We just used pipe cleaners and some noodle beads. This was perfect as Madeleine can work the "beads" easily onto pipe cleaners. I think an Autumn sculpture will be fun as she loves to gather sticks and leaves. So...looking forward to another one.

We needed to make some more stuff out of our clay. So...first there was a request for Mickey and Minnie. Can you tell what's on the Smith brain?! And then I got the idea to use the princess stamps (which we already used to decorate the sculpture base) to make necklace pendants. These were easy for Madeleine to do as well. Tomorrow we'll paint them. We tried one already, but it hadn't dried thought he center and it crumbled pretty quickly

I have a dress I've been working on for Madeleine. It was to take to Disney World. Ryan thinks she needs to wear a princess dress to the princess breakfast we'll be having. I'm kind of in the middle because I see it as cute, but a hassle cause I know the netting will be a bother to her in the heat. But...I finally put the zipper in, and she loves it.

And lastly, we made a contact paper collage with the flowers Madeleine yearns to pick but I always tell her "No". The clover and dandelions are all hers, but the bedding flowers are still mine for awhile. Give them another couple years and I'm sure it'll all be so filled in I won't mind one bit.

And where was Annora you say...oh, when not napping just hanging around blowing her raspberries of contentment.

Monday, July 14, 2008


So I made a tweet last night about the fact that I had found the greatest website in the history of man, and that I was holding out. Well I decided since I found the greatest website ever, I should probably share it... although I must warn you, this website is so awesome, it could potentially kill you, that is how much awesome it has.

As most everyone is aware, about a month or 2 ago I got addicted to board gaming. This is no small addiction, my board game collection in the last few months has exploded, I have spent an unhealthy amount of time researching, reading and studying both new and old board games, and I have been trying to convince everyone I know to play any game with me at any time. I have become not only a hardcore user, but also a pusher... it's sad really.

Well up until this point I have been limited to being able to play games to when I could find people willing, or when I could talk Shalisa in to it. Well no more.

I have discovered a website - that could possibly be the crown jewel of our civilization. This is possibly the height of what the internet was meant to be!

This website has almost any euro board game that you can imagine on it. Want to play Caylus in 5 minutes? There is probably 2-3 Caylus games forming up right now. Want to play Carcassonne later tonight, not only do they have it, but they have every expansion there is for it that you can mix and match to that you want to play. Interested in that new game Stone Age, but not sure you want to lay out the cash before you buy it, hey guess what, you could start a Stone Age game right now if you wanted. Think Princes of Florence is the greatest thing since sliced bread and you haven't been able to play in a while, start a game up! And all of these games, ALL OF THEM, are played against real people throughout the world. This isn't against some "bot" or AI program, you are playing against other people all over the world.

This all sounds great, but you are thinking to yourself - I am sure this is grand Ryan, but these boardgames run like $50 a piece, and this website literally has HUNDREDS of these games, I am sure their monthly subscription to be able to play is more than I want to spend. And yeah, their monthly fee is a bit expensive, I mean I think a full year subscription to the website is, oh wait, what is that, it's FREE?!?! Well sure, but I bet you have to fill out a bunch of forms, and they send you spam and... wait, you can even sign in as an anonymous guest without even registering and still play every game FOR FREE. This is too good to be true!

But alas you think to yourself - I am running a PC and I am sure this is only available on a Mac. Or you are on a Mac and thinking, alas, this is probably only available on a PC. Or you are running Linux, and you know you are screwed because nothing ever is made for Linux... but wait, whats that... There's MORE? That's right, the whole thing is written in Java, so you could be on a Mac, a PC, Linux, heck even your Wii if it had a Java client (not sure if it does, but it wouldn't be hard to put one on there) and you could visit this website, download the client, and be playing in 5 minutes!

Seriously tho, there are a few things to be aware of. I can honestly say that this website is freaking amazing and everything has gone super easy and great, but like anything there are a few minor things to be aware of.

When I tried to load it up on my Mac in Firefox 3, I couldn't get the web client to play the games to load. It would load the java applet, but just sit with a black screen. I am not sure if this had to do with the Java runtime on my Mac, Firefox 3, or just the fact that my Macbook sometimes has issues.. But honestly, you probably don't want to use the web client to play the games anyway, just go to their website and find the link to download the client for you OS type (Mac, PC, Linux, etc) and install that. The first time you run the client it will take about 5 minutes downloading some updates and stuff, but after that you can either sign in (if you have bothered to register your username) or you can just type in a username (as long as it isn't a registered one) and no password and click join to join up as a "guest" under that username (so potentially someone later could use that name and then it wouldn't be unique to you, the ONLY thing registering does is reserve your username... so if you get really in to it you may want to register so you can find people and people can find you).

Also note, the site is in the .de domain. That means it's German, and yes, the whole site is in German. The link I posted above is for the English version of their site, and for the most part it is completely useable. There are a few items (especially once you get the client loaded and running) where you will see German words here or there, but honestly the whole user interface is so easy to use and intuitive that it really isn't a huge issue. The only time the language barrier has been an issue is when I am playing a game, and everyone in the game is free to chat with one another in the chat window below, and I realize it is me and 3 other Germans... and I have no clue what they are saying! But honestly, most everyone on the site not only speaks German, but also English (and there are plenty of Russians, Chinese, Japanese... it's global baby!) as well, and while the site's default language is German, most everyone uses English as a common language in the games anyway.

Finally, the user interface in the games is SPECTACULAR - with one caveat being that some (but far from all) of the game names are in German... so it can be confusing as to what game is what (Although really, who can't figure out Die Siedler von Catan). I have been playing a bit of Carcassonne lately (I am pretty comfortable with how the game works, so playing it there is simplistic enough that I can worry about figuring out how the client and software works instead of figuring out how the "game" works). I have heard complaints from people on line that a few of the games have "quirky" (not bad, just different) interfaces, but honestly the few games I have tried to play the client interface has been great. Also note, this isn't some cheesy "text and a hand drawn in paint graphic" type interface, most of the games I have played so far are like top notch reproductions of game boards and game pieces. In fact I would argue the detail on the Carcossonne tiles on BSW is BETTER than the tiles in real life. The picture on the right is from a game of Pillars of the Earth, the picture on the left is a game of Caylus.

And even then, with the German language on some of the commands and the German game names and stuff, if you have ANY questions, ANY at all... or are nervous about playing everything you could ever want to know about BSW is covered in the EXCELLENT BrettspielWelt English Guide. It will probably take you 10 minutes to read the guide, another 10 to get everything downloaded and setup, and from there you are good to go.

Finally, if you really don't "get it" and are having troubles, you can always ask me and I would be happy to help you, I am by no means an expert, but I have managed to play a few games over the last few days and am pretty comfortable with it. So enjoy! (Also note, sadly Memoir '44 is one of the few games that doesn't have a presence on BSW).

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hat Making, Pig Tails, Tie Dye and My Kids Are So Cute!

Ok. There seems to be a lot of "Shalisa" posts lately. I just have so much fun during the day that I want to share! So, first of all. I made Annora a cute hat. Sewing today probably wasn't what I should have done. At least not sewing a make it yourself no pattern item, as brains are necessary, and mine seem to be slightly lacking given this weeks sleep deprivation. No biggy, I'll catch up this weekend...right!?! Anyway, back to the hat. I cut out the brim and then realized it wasn't exactly the right shape and instead of cutting out new pieces I decided I'd try and save the pieces I had...5 seam rips later and a couple pleats and voila! And because my kid is so dang cute I had to take about a gazillion pictures and because I know you'll smile when you see them, I'm sharing.

On to the pig tails. I can put them in Annora's hair! I've given her one little horn on the top before but hadn't tried the 2 version until today. I realized that her hair falls over her ears, so up it all went into those teeny weeny minuscule elastic hair bands. She's so cute. More sharing.

A few days ago I tried Sharpie tie dye with Maddie. It was a big success. We both had fun. Until I wanted to try out design technique and took over, which made Maddie sad...way to go Mom! Way to model sharing! So...we made more and more. Annora now has a pair of paints with about 12 little tie dye circles on them. And Maddie loves the shirts and wanted to wear this one today. She has it on inside out. But as you can see...they are fun to make. We made our designs larger using a bowl instead of plastic cup and extended the design using more sharpie at the edge of the first design. Pretty sure we'll be doing more of this.

And...My kids are soooo cute!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Butterfly Friends

I saw an idea on coffee filter painting, so that's what Madeleine did this morning. It was a lot of fun, and I recommend it even for the youngest of toddlers. I read to use liquid watercolors, which we did not have. But I used my artist watercolors that I watered down. Worked like a charm. I would say that you could probably use crayola watercolors too, especially if you dampen the filters first.