Dollar Daze is Back! With Larry the Cable Guy! And Beer!

21 Mar

dollar daze logo

Not only has it been a while since I did a Dollar Daze post, it had been a while before I had even trekked to Dollar Tree in order to find products to test out for Dollar Daze. Subzero and laziness and all that. I’m starting to regret that because *SPOILER ALERTZ* I actually found a product that is pretty awesome.

I will admit I was not expecting much from Larry the Cable Guy. He’s okay, but not generally my style of humor. I was not really that into the whole Blue Collar Tour thing, mostly because I grew up in the sticks and saw plenty of bubba behavior that, frankly, I’ve spent the better part of my adult life trying to get away from. Not that there’s anything wrong with white trash culture. It’s just not my cuppa tea. So it was with some hesitation that I decided to try this:

This will end well

Now I like beer flavored things (beer battered anything, beer cheese soup, etc.) and I love bread, so I’m willing to give a try to a product that combines both these things. And apparently this is not the only product Mr. Cable Guy has in his repertoire (although I’m pretty sure he can’t even spell the word repertoire), because check out the list of products on the side of the box.

So many options for the food enthusiast

I took a picture of the Nutrition Facts, but I’m not exactly sure why. Pretty sure if you’re trying out Beer Bread by Larry the Cable Guy you’re not overly concerned about nutrition. That’s just a broad generalization, though.

Hopefully the directions are pretty simple.

Seems easy enough. Wonder if their legal department made them add the “You must be 21 to drink” disclaimer?

Superfriends, assemble! Oh, wait. Superingredients, assemble!

Bread pan? Check. Bread mix? Check. Butter? Check. Note that I picked a super classy beer to make this gastronomic masterpiece. Who doesn’t love a good Grain Belt Premium? Okay, okay. I’ll admit. We were out of PBR and Natty Light.

Step one, preheat oven. Yeah, you don’t need a pic of me doing that. Let’s move on to step two- preparing the mix. First we have to add the beer to the dry mix. Which means we have to open the bottle of beer.

Took me three tries of opening it with me teeth before I realized the cap just twisted off. Side note: I take the worst selfies ever.

I was going to be good and add the whole bottle to the mix, but then I noticed this:

Hey, he said I could have one tiny sip.

Don’t mind if I do!

So we mixed up the batter.

They said it was supposed to be a little lumpy.

And then pour in the pan and top with melted butter.

Mmmm. Doesn’t this look appetizing? (and yes, you should be reading that with a sarcastic overtone)

While it doesn’t look like much now, we’re still hoping for the best. It wasn’t until I went to put it in the oven that I realized the bread had to bake for almost an hour. Good thing I wasn’t planning on having dinner until 10:00 p.m.

So after waiting what seemed like an eternity, I finally pulled the loaf out of the oven.

Look at that golden beauty! The angels sang and wept.

It looked fantastic and smelled amazing. But the true test- how did it taste?

Om nom nom!

Well, since I did pretty much spoil it at the beginning, it was FANTASTIC! Seriously. Dense, a little sweet but with the mild bitterness from the beer. Absolutely delectable! We’ve decided that it would be great to have with chili. We had it with tortilla soup, which was also a good pairing. Seriously, this would make an amazing bread with just about any soup entry.

Bonus points if you can guess what we’re watching on the tv in the background.

So Dollar Tree wins again. A++ for this one. I will buy this again in a heartbeat. I may even be convinced to try some of Larry’s other products if I find them somewhere. Especially the fish batter. That will come in handy this summer up at the lake, I imagine.

Want a tasty bread to have with your dinner? Give it a try. For only a buck, it’s an awesome deal and makes a delicious, hearty bread that’s scrumptious. Tell ‘em Nagzilla sent ya!

Nagzilla Marie, Where the HELL Have You Been?!?

14 Mar

I know, I know. I should have written. Or called. Or something.

This is one of the great hazards of struggling with depression (an issue I’ve been pretty straight forward about): the seasonal aspect of the illness. Most of the people I know who have some type of chronic depression have certain times of year when it’s just harder to function. For me, it’s winter. Particularly the period between the holidays and daylight savings time, when the days are short and excessively dark and the weather is cold and you don’t want to venture outside. It’s normally a challenge for me to keep going during the January through March period, but this year was to the nth degree. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Minnesota has been spending the last three months in what was not-so-lovingly known as a Polar Vortex. Which meant it was not only cold, it was bone chilling cold. Dangerously cold. Like, we lost about a week of school due to temperatures and wind chills that were 30-40 degrees below zero.
hurts my face
Normally when my seasonal shit hits, I can turn on my Happy Lite®, pop some additional vitamin D, and things get tolerable. Not this year. Part of the problem is that I am cold all the freaking time anyway. Seriously, what good is an extra 100 pounds of fat if it doesn’t insulate you and keep you warm? If I’m this cold now, I’d hate to think what would happen if I were actually at my ideal weight. But when I’m cold, all I can do to get warm is curl up in blankets. Exercising and moving doesn’t help, because once I start sweating I just get colder. Showers and baths suck because then I’m wet, and wet = cold, so…
travel minnesota
Needless to say, the last couple of months I’ve spent most of my time huddled in a corner, wearing three layers of clothing, blankets wrapped around me and space heaters melting my face, just waiting for the arrival of something even somewhat resembling spring. And unfortunately, when I’m struggling for basic normal human functioning, the first thing to go is my creativity. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to write about. Let me make that clear. I have a little notebook full of stories to share once the warm spring air thaws my frozen mojo. But the gumption, the motivation, the guiding spirits or muses that lead me to gather everything from my head and actually put it in a sharable format? Yeah, that’s pretty well gone. Or at least it had been. 

shit
What’s most interesting to me is that in the past, when my creativity took a vaca, I would absolutely panic. I was convinced that what was lost would never return, and I was stuck forever in a life of dismal day to day normalness. I’ve since learned (through years of good therapy, I will happily confess) that just like the seasons, creativity is also cyclical. While I’m in a dormant phase at the moment, I know that eventually things will thaw out and start to blossom and grow. It’s an insight that I find comforting, especially during seasons like this that feel as though they will never end. But it’s hope that keeps us going. Just as we hope and wait for the warmth of spring to come and trust that it will eventually return, we recognize that it happens on its own time and we need to be patient with the process. Creativity is the same way. But I now understand that it is not gone forever. It just needs time to rest and refuel, and when it’s ready it will bloom and grow along with everything else that waits patiently for the seasons to pass from one to the next.
spring not found

So bear with me. In contrast to the familiar trope, spring is coming. And when it does, Nagzilla will rise from the waters once again, ready to storm the city and destroy everything in her path.
Oversized-Snowman godzilla
Wait. That’s not right. Well, you get the idea anyway. Some analogies just get a little lost in translation.

Metrodome Memories

22 Jan

If you haven’t heard, our bubble has gone away.

It may not be news to anyone outside of Minnesota, but the last home game for the Vikings was the last time anything would take place in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.

The build up to the event was a pretty big deal, and the local sports radio station was taking calls all week from listeners wanting to share their Metrodome memories. I am actually pretty neutral about the whole thing; I didn’t hate the Dome, like some people, but I’m not super sad it’s going away either. It served its function, and we have some great memories of going to football and baseball games there. But I’m not emotionally tied to it one way or the other. That said, I do have three specific memories that stand out.

Rollerdome
It’s probably pretty predictable that one of my memories would involve roller skating. The concourses on both the second and third floors of the dome have a smooth concrete surface. If memory serves, Mike Ditka is the first one that called it the Rollerdome, but they did open it up to skaters to come and get exercise during the winter. Last year we discovered this wonder and were able to go a few times. Andrea enjoyed it so much, she signed up to do the marathon event that they held in the spring.

Roxy getting her gear on before the race.

Technically, she participated in the half marathon since it was her first time out, but that’s still pretty impressive. Hell, I’ve only ever done a 5K, and even then I thought I was going to die! She completed the race in 45 minutes, placed 30th out of about 65 skaters, and received a cool t-shirt to boot! And bragging rights. Because, hello! Half marathon!

After the race was finished- too pooped to pop. Still super proud of her though!

Jason Loses His Wedding Ring
Usually when we went to Twins games, we ended up in the upper deck because that’s where the cheap seats were. One time we were at a game and we were seated in the first row right behind the railing. During a ninth inning rally, we were standing up to cheer. Jason had recently lost some weight and his ring was a little loose. Maybe more than a little, because while he was clapping, it flew off his hand, over the railing, and landed somewhere in the seats below. We tried to see where it landed, and after the game we tried to go down and find it, but it was pretty much a lost cause.

Jason’s Birthday Surprise
One of the cool things you could do at the dome was pay to have a special message posted on the black and white scoreboard. One year we were taking Jason to a game for his birthday, and I thought it would be fun to have the scoreboard lit up for him. I paid the $50 and kept it a surprise.

During said game, one of the pitchers walked one of our batters. In the past when we’d been at games, if the opponent walked a batter, the scoreboard would show a ghost and say “walks will haunt!”

When the batter was walked, Andrea looked around and said, “Where’s the ghost?” Jason replied, “That’s on the black and white scoreboard. That’s up behind us.”

I immediately spun around and looked at him. “It’s WHAT?!?”
“The ghost is only on the white scoreboard, not the Jumbotron. We can’t see it because it’s up behind us in the upper deck.” I must have looked like I was going to cry, because he looked at me and said, “Why? What did you do?” I had to spoil the surprise and tell him we had paid for the birthday greeting. He felt bad that he wouldn’t get to see it, because we would have had to move to the complete other side of the stadium to have it in view, and there wasn’t enough time to make our way over there before the inning when it would appear. Thankfully, they did send us a picture of said scoreboard after the game, but it wasn’t the same.

At least someone got to see it…

We have lots of other memories, like the roof collapse a couple of years ago:

The year we went tailgating when it was -30º and some idiot girl was wandering around with a painted on latex jersey. My friend George actually said, “I’ll bet if I smack her chest right now, those nips would just shatter. Like glass, baby. Pshew!” But these are the ones that stand out. Farewell, you lovely pillow on the Minneapolis skyline. It was fun while it lasted.

That’s Some Kind of Extracurricular!

16 Jan

Jason and I are on a daily email list from Andrea’s school. Usually it announces upcoming events, like plays or conferences or fundraisers, but sometimes they’ll use it to highlight or announce some extracurricular activities that are available to students. Early last fall, one of the announcements encouraged kids to join the Key Club. Immediately after the email arrived in my inbox, a second email from Jason came, highlighting the Key Club entry and asking, “What the hell kind of clubs do they have at the high school?!?”

I did GTS and discovered that Key Club is a student version of one of the well-known service organizations. But where I come from? Key Club meant an entirely different thing.

One of the stories Grandma used to tell was about when she and Pa first moved to Clear Lake shortly after mom was born. They started getting involved with local groups to make friends and socialize. Pa joined VFW and the Fraternal Order of Cooties, while Grandma joined bridge club and Beta Sigma Phi. After one of the sorority meetings, one of the more influential members of the local community asked Grandma if she and Pa would be interested in joining another more exclusive club. Grandma thought it was a great opportunity and asked for additional information. Rita* said the Key Club was a select group of six to eight couples who got together once a month for dinner and socializing. When the couples first arrived at the host’s home, they would put all their car keys into a hat. At the end of the evening, the wife would draw a set of keys from the hat, and she would go home with the owner of said keys.

It took Grandma a minute to fully comprehend what was being offered. Yes, my Zillas. It is exactly what you think. In 1951, my grandparents were invited to join a swingers club. In Clear Lake, Iowa of all places.

It probably goes without saying that Grandma declined the invitation. I don’t know that the story was shared outside of our family, because the Key Club did involve some pretty big name people in our small town. But she enjoyed relaying the story of how things are seldom what they seem, and what happens behind closed doors can often surprise you. Although I read Dan Savage, so truthfully nothing really surprises me anymore.

Despite the innocuous version of Key Club the school was offering, we did not encourage Andrea to join. The version of Key Club that I know about makes it hard for me to take it seriously.

*name changed to protect the guilty kinky. Although she’s probably dead now, but still…

If Glitter is the Herpes of Craft Supplies…

13 Jan

Comedian Demitri Martin is famous for saying that glitter is the herpes of craft supplies. I would like to make the argument that if that is the case, grief is the herpes of emotions.

This realization came to me over the holidays when I found myself really missing Grandma. Not for any particular reason; there were a number of potential triggers. The holidays make me a little homesick, Grandma’s birthday is the day after Christmas, a friend gave me an owl ornament and owls were Grandma’s favorite, all of the above…who knows what set me off. For whatever reason, as I was washing dishes one night (“Holy shit, Nagzilla! You were doing dishes?!?” I know, right?) I was overcome by a wave of grief and loneliness for Grandma.

It made me realize that grief is not something that ever goes away. It gets better and becomes manageable, but much like herpes it’s a constant companion and you will unexpectedly experience flare-ups. I started to wonder if there were other ways to stretch the analogy (which led me to Google herpes, so I can’t wait to see the search term based ads that will pop up in my social media stuff now), and discovered that there are several connections.

Grief is like herpes because it’s a virus you contract from intimate relationships. The more intimate we are with others, and I mean in an emotional way, the more likely we are to be impacted by grief when they leave. Grief is like herpes because you’ll be surprised by how it creeps back into your soul long after you thought you’d recovered. Like herpes, it gets under your skin and lies dormant, waiting for its time to strike and render you incapacitated.

You may not even realize you have it until you experience symptoms. And when they do flare up, it leaves you with raw, open sores on your psyche that are painful to deal with. They’ll eventually scab over, but while they’re open it’s embarrassing and obvious that you’re afflicted. When you have an outbreak, you may avoid your other intimate relationships because you don’t want other to know you’re dealing with it and you want to limit their exposure. (Thanks WebMD for the info).

There’s no cure for grief. You can treat the symptoms and work to prevent outbreaks, but like herpes it is always there, just under the surface. After an initial outbreak they’ll become less frequent because you’re building an immunity, but it never completely goes away. Stress and illness can trigger attacks of grief. The more stress you’re going through, particularly of the person you’re grieving was your go-to person, the more likely you are to miss them. And that’s when our grief outbreak flares up.

So how to we prevent getting infected with the herpes of emotions? Good question, one for which I have no good answers. Unfortunately, they haven’t yet invented a condom for your brain, although that’s definitely something science should get to work on. Chop chop, people! And the only other way to prevent it is abstinence, and that’s totally unrealistic. Despite what Simon and Garfunkle suggest, no person is an island. We can’t survive without human relationships. But just like herpes, grief isn’t deadly, even though it may seem like it at times. Unfortunately, it’s a risk we take when we engage with people who are important to us.

I now know more than I ever wanted to know about herpes, but the more I learn, the more I realize that grief is a social disease. And one for which there is no cure. But when we have a supportive community to help us manage the symptoms of our disease, we will survive. May your flare-ups be few and far between.

Just Not Feelin’ It

10 Jan

I’m not even going to apologize, because it feels like I’ve been doing that a lot lately. For whatever reason, I seem to have lost my mojo. If you happen to see a random mojo running around loose, will you send it back my direction?

I had been on a regular posting roll for a while, and then NaNo hit and I’ve been a mess ever since. Truthfully, this fall/winter has been a struggle. So far I’ve had to deal with:

  • One case of sinusitis
  • One bout of bronchitis
  • Ever darkening days (always an issue this time of year)
  • Insanely cold weather (yes, I know I live in Minnesota and should expect it. However, the past couple of years have been unseasonably warm, and this year has been one of the coldest in twenty years, so I have a reason to bitch.)
  • The holidays
  • A round of stomach flu over said holidays
  • Just general winter blahs
  • weird obsession with trying to clean/organize my home (that then makes me feel guilty for wanting to write when there are other things to be done)
  • overwhelmed with all the negativity on the interwebs
  • and computers that don’t want to work.

On top of all that, I’ll admit to being a bit inconsistent with taking my meds. And let me just say that the holidays and darkest nights of the year? A really bad time to be inconsistent with taking your meds. Public Service. The More You Know.

I’m working on getting my groove back. Until then, bear with me. I’ll be honest, I’m kind of following the lead of Jen from Epbot. A few months ago she took a sabbatical of sorts because she was just overwhelmed with blogs and trolls and everything that comes with being on the web. Usually I can deal with people who are just mean and trolling to troll but it just seems like we, as a society, are getting uglier. I’m sure the inconsistent meds are part of this equation, but all the negativity over everything was just starting to bum me out. And it’s hard to want to participate in the discussion when everyone is being so ugly to each other, because you know sooner or later it’s going to happen to you. Can’t we all have different opinions without all the name calling? Can’t we all just get along?

Probably not.

In the meantime, I’ll give you a little sometin’ somtin’ to tide you over, my faithful Zillas. I was fully expecting my stats to go down to zero during my absence, but you keep coming back. So thanks for that. :) I <3 you guys!

In case you hadn’t heard (and good heavens, if you’re on Facebook at all, I don’t know how you could have missed this) we’ve had a cold snap. And not just a “brrrrrrr…it’s cold” snap, a “yeah, I’m not leaving the house today” snap. Up here in the northern reaches of the universe, the temps on Monday and Tuesday dipped down to -22º F. Add to that wind chills and we were around the -54ºF. For those unfamiliar with the concept of wind chill, first- I hate you. Second- no matter how cold it gets, when the wind blows it gets colder. And actually more dangerous. Like your skin will freeze in seconds dangerous. Our governor actually forced all the public schools in the state to close on Monday so kids wouldn’t have to walk to school in it. There were some reports that on Tuesday, Minnesota was the coldest place on Earth, and parts of Minnesota and Canada were actually colder than Mars.

Normally, when it is painfully cold like this, I don’t venture outside. At all. But I have a dog. A big dog at that. And unless I’m willing to clean crap up off my carpet, I had to go outside.

Since Ru is getting older, we’ve noticed that she has a hard time going out to pee when it’s bitter cold like this. She does that thing where she’ll try to balance on three (or two) legs so that at least one isn’t in the snow or touching the ice, until she can’t take it anymore and she just lays down on the ground and raises her paws. It’s both sad and adorable at the same time. Because it’s been so cold and it’s hard on her old body, we bought her booties.

Snow boots for dogs. Who knew?

Now, let me just say that although she doesn’t like getting her paws cold, she’s not real wild about having them wrapped up in cloth either. The first couple of times we put them on, she would try and run away. Or she’d let us put them on, but she’d shake the entire time. Drama queen.

This is not the face of a happy camper. Course the pic is so blurry, you really can’t see her face at all. But check out those smexy boots!

The first few times she wore them, the entire outdoor experience consisted of her trying to shake them off and me picking them up as they were shed. Once the temp started dropping and I let her experience the cold without them, well, it wasn’t a miraculous change of heart. It’s not like she would willingly put them on, but she didn’t fight so hard to get them off, either. In fact, when it was at its coldest, she discovered that having the booties on actually made her want to stay out longer! Yay? Yeah, no. Not yay.

At least I was bundled for the ten minute excursion. Which is how long I lasted before the cold went through my gloves and I started losing feeling in my fingers.

She’s still not loving the boots, but she doesn’t fight quite as hard about putting them on. She’s like a little kid in some ways, because she doesn’t like having them put on, but it’s hard to get her to stay still to get them off as well.

Come here, you little scamp!

I don’t know why she has such a problem with them. After all, they’re both functional AND stylish. The package told me so.

See? Now, why dog booties need to be stylish is beyond me. But it must be important to someone, because it’s the second bullet on the list.

We survived the arctic blast (as we always do) and are reveling in the glorious 30º heat wave. I enjoyed watching all the Hoth/Minnesota memes on Facebook. Actually, there were a lot of awesome cold pics running around.

told you so

Nice play on the Winter is Coming meme

One of my personal favorites.

One of my personal favorites.

subzero

This one usually posted with the comment “Finish us!”

bring them inside

There were lots of animal ones saying “if you’re cold…bring them inside” but this one made me laugh.

come to mn

Most of the time, I really love my adopted state. But times like this, I wonder to myself “why exactly did I move here?”

stay for the car

This one was the most fitting- I did have to replace my battery because the cold killed it. Spent three hours Tuesday morning with my car hooked up to a battery charger to get enough juice to get to Mills Fleet Farm to buy a new one.

I’m glad things are at least a little warmer, but in the end, I think Hazel had the best strategy for dealing with the nasty weather.

Remind me in my next life to come back as a house cat, mmkay? Thanks.

Dollar Daze – MOAR CHRISTMAS!!!

18 Dec

dollar daze logo

Last week I featured my new favorite Christmas Tree ornament. Because who doesn’t love a bird that chirps when you clap, laugh, or cuss loudly? Makes the Vikings games soooooo much more interesting!

I figured I’d continue the trend and show you my latest Dollar Tree find, the electronic candle!

I forgot to take a picture of it before I ripped the label off. Sorry.

I can see a definite function to this electronic candle thing. First off, no pesky flames to start a fiery blaze in your living room. Course the pyro in me is more than a little disappointed by my inability to watch things burn, but if done well, I can still get that nice flickering look. Added bonus, this particular candle had color changing properties for the base, so outside of just the flickering wick, it had the potential to be pretty cool.

View of the “flame” from above. And yes, that is a velociraptor in the background by baby Jesus’ manger. Why do you ask?

Pretty easy to turn on- just flip the switch. Looks like it’ll be fairly easy to change the batteries as well. So that’s nice. Usually those things are a bear.

Pretty colors!

For whatever reason I decided to feature this object in my nativity set, probably because it was a nice easy surface to add it to and still has the Christmas theme going on. It kind of overwhelms Mary and the wise men just based on its size, so it won’t stay there. Unlike Si and the velociraptor, who I think make fantastic visitors to the stable scene. As one of my friends on facebook noted, it’s appropriate to have the Si doll with the nativity set because, after all, he was there at the birth of Jesus. And since Jesus riding a velociraptor is a thing, maybe it was his childhood pet. So fitting that the velociraptor is there as well.

But to really do this justice, I figured it should be shown in action. So I attempted to take video with my crappy phone. It didn’t turn out too bad. The first video was while the lights were still on.

But I decided to get the full effect, you should see it with the lights off. Although I tried to highlight Si and the velociraptor with the dimmed lights, and you can barely see the dino.

And since I was working on video anyway, I figured I’d try again to make one of Chirpy, and this time it worked pretty well. The video shows both the motion detecting and sound activated aspects of Chirpy’s skillz.

So this is another Dollar Tree win. While I am disappointed that I can’t destroy things with fire, this is definitely a safe alternative. And since I have a tendency to walk away from things and forget they’re on/lit, it’s a good solution. In fact, when I took the original videos on Monday I left the candle on. It must have pretty good batteries because it was still on when I went to take the rest of the video on Tuesday. So if you accidentally leave your electronic candle on overnight, no big deal. If you accidentally leave your real candle on overnight, you’re going to have a date with a firefighter, and not in a good way.

Yay for safety, Dollar Tree! Another A for the day.

Dollar Daze – Holiday Decorating

12 Dec

dollar daze logo

It’s that time of year! For us folks who celebrate the Christian-holiday-with-pagan-roots, it means putting up the tree and making it all pretty and festive. Yay! Our family tradition is that it doesn’t go up until the day after Thanksgiving. I REFUSE to start with all that stuff before Thanksgiving is done. But before we can put up the tree, there is some cleaning involved.

I actually dusted, yo. Cleanest this corner has been in MONTHS. But then, I’m a slob. So….

I won’t show you the before Before. Because truly? Yeah. I wouldn’t want you to think less of me than you already do. So there’s that.

Now, the After

It’s been so freaking cold, we have to keep the blinds closed or our heat bill will be outrageous. Please note the sweaty derby pads airing out under the tree.

While Grandma was a traditional balls and tinsel tree person (and can I please say that “balls and tinsel” totally sounds like a euphemism?), I like to go for the eclectic look with my decorating. Just like everything else in life, really. So what’s on my tree?

Duh!

Well of course there are Star Wars ornaments. I don’t buy EVERY ornament that comes out, but I have a fair amount.

This poster one is one of my favorites. I also have the Falcon that you can plug into the light string and it lights up. I know you’re jealous.

We also use ornaments to mark special occasions and travel.

Andrea’s baby picture ornament and one that Jason made in Sunday School when he was in like second or third grade. I’m amazed at how much the photo ornament has faded.

The ornament from our original trip to Kalahari Water Park oh so many years ago.

The ornament from when we lived in Texas.

From our trip to Washington, D.C.

I also have some historical ornaments. One of my favorites is from when I lived in D.C. as an intern. It was in ’89, and there were a lot of bicentennial celebrations going on for things like first session of Congress, first presidential inauguration, first Supreme Court session, Bill of Rights, etc. The bicentennial commission issued some special ornaments for those occasions, and I managed to snag the Supreme Court, Congress, and Inauguration ornaments while I was out there. I keep trying to find any of the other ornaments, but for once GTSing* hasn’t been successful.

The Congressional ornament. I think they’re very lovely and delicate. Remind me of a time when I was so idealist and naive and not so jaded about politics.

And some handmade ornaments from my childhood.

Mom made this Star Wars ornament for me long before Star Wars ornaments were a thing. Lifelong obsession, I’ve had.

And now, we add to the tree this fab-o ornament from ANOTHER Tree. Dollar Tree!

Motion sensing singing ornament? How could this possibly be a bad idea?

I will admit that initially, we had some problems. It had one of those things where you had to pull the little paper out of the bird’s ass so the batteries would connect and start working. They didn’t work right away. I had to basically violate the bird by shoving the paper in and out of the little hole until it started working.

After several attempts, it finally started singing. I feel bad about having to keep shoving the thing back in there.

And it’s really easy to put on the tree. Just clip on. May have to buy another one to use as a hair ornament.

Once it started working, it REALLY worked. Now, we really don’t walk by the tree that often because it’s away in a corner (Nobody puts Christmas Tree in a corner!) but the motion sensor does go off when we turn off the lights, so that’s cool. But what we didn’t realize until Jason was watching the Vikings game was that it’s not only motion sensored, it’s SOUND SENSORED! Whenever he would clap, or laugh hard, or cuss at the defense, Chirpy here would start singing. It’s kind of awesome. Added bonus: it drives the dog bonkers. She keeps trying to go over by the tree and figure out where the noise is coming from. And if she barks? Chirpy replies. And the cycle continues.

Oh Chirpy, you have definitely earned a spot on our tree!

So after the epic fail that was the swimming goggles, we now have a clear win in the Dollar Tree column. Totally give this product an A+ for the bonus features. Who would ever have guessed that a motion sensor would be so sensitive that loud noises could make it work? I would give it an A++, but the chirping isn’t really consistent with the sounds a cardinal actually makes, so I subtract the + for lack of authenticity. I tried to get a video to post of the chirping, but it didn’t turn out well. Primarily because my phone sucks. We’re hoping to rectify that sooner rather than later, but in the meantime you just have to deal with less than stellar photos and complete lack of decent video. Keep on dreaming, my Zillas. One day, I will post quality pics and videos.

And just because I love being random, I share with you my best idea ever. Target has a woodland themed ornament set this year, and guess what animal fits in with a woodland theme?

Go ahead. Sing it. You know you want to.

Swear to god, I really really want to buy a bunch of these and just have my own little What Does the Fox Say? tree. My only concern is in a year, will anyone still get it? Do I really care? I may have to do it anyway.

*GTS= Google That Shit. It’s an official term I use with my students. I think I should trademark it.

Best. Con. Ever.

9 Dec

I don’t have a good excuse for being late with the posting. Other than the holidays and illness. Not an excuse, per se, so much as a reason. I hate to admit it, but I can’t write when I’m sick. Well, I can write, just not well. I do love those NyQuil dreams though. MMMMmmmmmmmmmm….NyQuil Dreams. The best part of being sick.

Andrea as Ciel with an Undertaker and a Grell

The other bad part about being late is that it makes the con seem like it was so. Long. Ago. And really, it has only been two weeks. But it feels like the most wonderful distant memory at this point. Allow me to relive the amazingness that was DaishoCon, because I’m not kidding when I say it was the best con we’ve been to.*

As always, a bevy of Homestuck cosplayers

Where to begin? Let’s start with the obvious:

GUESTS
The highlight of this con going in was getting the opportunity to meet J. Michael Tatum, who is Andrea’s favorite voice actor. He did not disappoint. His panels were hysterical, as he shared great stories. In a lot of ways, he reminded me of one of my dear friends from college. I don’t know if Steve would be flattered that Tatum reminded me of him, but Tatum should totally be flattered that he reminded me of Steve, because Steve is made of awesome. They both had that same sense of snarky humor and way of telling stories that is beyond the pale.

Andrea with her idol. She said her heart was just pounding.

Added bonus, Tatum was sincerely a super nice guy. Andrea’s thing for these cons is that she will draw a picture of her favorite character that the actor voices and have them sign her drawing. When she presented her drawing for him to sign, he was super supportive and gushing about her talent. Which was really nice, because we are always encouraging her to keep drawing, but when one of your idols tells you you have talent? And should keep at it? Yeah, pretty sure that sticks a lot better than when mom and dad say it.

Her artwork after he signed it. She likes the little hearts he added.

I did go ahead with the gift bag idea (thanks for the affirmation, my zillas!) and they were a huge hit! I wish I had the forethought to take a picture of said baskets, but I didn’t. I filled the baskets full of random Dollar Tree items, like socks, and dinosaur toys, and candies and snacks, and Hello Kitty word find puzzle books, and whatever else I found that struck my fancy. I included a note that explained why they were receiving such a random assortment of crap, and they were super happy to receive them. When I handed the bag to Tatum, he started looking through it and grabbed the socks and with an evil snicker said, “Oh my god, you are such a stalker!” He said it in a good and funny way, but now I’m wondering if he has some propensity for fuzzy socks that I was not aware of before.

Cheramie loved her basket so much, SHE asked ME for a hug! That’s kind of unheard of; usually it’s the other way around at these things, so I was thrilled that she enjoyed her gift. Turns out she’s also a fan of dinosaurs, so she immediately put on the Zilla hat and posed for me.

Cheramie Leigh gives me her best RAWR!

I asked all three of the celebrities to give me their best Godzilla pose. Here’s Tatum’s.

He’s a good sport.

And here’s Nathan Barnatt. I felt kinda bad, because I didn’t have a gift bag for him. He was cool about it. I honestly didn’t know who he was before the con, but after seeing a panel where he and the other celebrity guests did improve, I’m definitely following his YouTube channel.

Super funny guy! And a good sport to boot. He said he wasn’t good at dino faces, but he did a lizard for me instead.

GAMES
The gaming options at this con were particularly epic. The video gaming room took up half of a ballroom! They had just about every device imaginable, and an entire library of games to choose from. Most cons have the gaming space confined to one or two suite rooms. We literally gasped when we first walked in, we were so amazed at the sheer size of it.

I tried to include a pic of the epic game room, but my shitty phone ate it. Instead, I give you a cosplaying Belle and Gaston.

The other fun part was the tabletop room, which we always love and have a fun time with, but we learned a new game this time around. It’s called Werewolf, and if you haven’t played it, it is an amazing party game! Each person in the group gets a card, and you are basically a town with villagers.

One group of villagers, hearing which cards are in play for this particular round.

Amongst your village are werewolves and at night they hunt and kill off members of your village. The goal of the game is for the villagers to figure out who the werewolves are before they kill everyone. Some villagers have special abilities. The Seer can point to a villager each evening and the moderator will then tell them if they are a human or a werewolf. The Priest can heal someone who’s been targeted for death. The Leprechan can change the death target to someone on the right or left of the person the werewolves picked. Lots of options to help the villagers figure it out. And each night before nightfall, the village has to decide on one person to lynch. If they’re lucky (or smart at deduction) they’ll lynch a werewolf. If they’re not lucky (or succumb to mob mentality), they’ll kill one of their own and the werewolves are one villager closer to winning. It’s super fun, and really makes you work at both your deduction and deception skills.

My sneaky little Rainbow Dash here almost devoured an entire village.

During one game, Andrea was the last surviving werewolf and would have won if I hadn’t been the Seer and asked if she was one of them.

HOTEL
As previously mentioned, the con was at the Kalahari Hotel and Water Park at the Wisconsin Dells. We’ve actually been to the Kalahari before because we went for Christmas vacation many moons ago when Andrea was in kindergarten.

Long ago- our first visit to Kalahari in 2004. Hard to believe it’s been almost ten years!

Just for comparison. Sometimes it freaks me out how fast she’s grown up.

Since we were staying at the hotel, the water park passes were included. I worried that as busy as the con gets, we wouldn’t have any time to enjoy the water park. We made time. And it was awesome. Although let me be clear- we did NOT go down the Screaming Hyena slide.

That’s one of those ones where you climb in and they have an almost 90 degree drop, so the floor goes out from under you. Eff. That. Noise. I’ll just stick with the wave pool and the water roller coaster and call it a day. Although the indoor/outdoor hot tub was pretty sweet. That weekend was one of the first really cold weekends we’ve had this winter, so there was all this crazy steam rising from the tub. Like you could barely see to find a spot, it was so foggy. But it was nice to go back and forth between freezing and then sliding down into the super hot water. Soothing!

There’s more stories to tell, but this is getting a little long so I’ll save the rest for another post. Sorry again for the delays. The only bad thing about this party was I ended up with what appears to be a severe case of Con Crud. Over two weeks and a full ten days of antibiotics later, and I’m still sounding like I’ve spent the last three years gulping whiskey in a smoke-filled bar. At least I still have the NyQuil dreams to keep me warm.

*Disclaimer: the best con Andrea and I have been to. I’m still going to default to Celebration as my personal best con, because truthfully it still ranks up there with one of the best weekends of my whole freaking life. It’ll be pretty hard to top that one. But as far as anime/fan cons go? Daisho was heads and shoulders above the others.

I Know I Should Be Freaked Out, But Holy Shit is This COOL!!!

4 Dec

I promise tomorrow will be the start of the long-awaited posts about our last con. Which, SPOILER ALERT!, was the best con ever! Seriously, amazeballs. But in the meantime, I wanted to share this.

I know that there are people who get completely freaked by how much the internet knows about us. I personally know that I should care, but I don’t. Some of the stuff that clearly points to invasion of privacy and/or giving up our private information is actually pretty cool and fascinating to me. Case in point, today’s Google Doodle:

What I saw when I opened Google this morning.

Now when I first saw it, I thought, “OMG, that’s cool! Someone else has a birthday today. I wonder whose birthday it is…” so I hovered over with my mouse

HOLY SHIT! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!

I know it’s just an algorithm based on the fact that I am logged in to Google/Gmail. I know this. But I still think it’s pretty awesome. How have I not heard about this before now?! I mean, I would have assumed that someone else would have posted about this long ago, but I had no idea that Google did this. Very cool, Google. You totally made Nagzilla’s morning.

Jason also made my morning by giving me part of my birthday present:

In some ways, gift giving for me is so easy. If it says Star Wars, pretty much guaranteed I’m gonna like it.

Goblets, man. Star Wars goblets! How cool is that?

Apparently I also share a birthday with Jay-Z. We’re twins, yo.

Happy birthday, twin brother!

Today I’m 44 on the 4th. So sort of a double golden birthday, if you will. Since I was too young to appreciate the golden birthday thing when I actually had my golden birthday (because c’mon, I was 4!) I’m totally taking advantage of this one. I already had my traditional dinner at B-Dubs (Buffalo Wild Wings, for the uninitiated) on Sunday evening, so we’ll see where the celebrations go from here.

So now you have something to look forward to on YOUR birthday! Watch for your own personalized Google Doodle.

As J. Michael Tatum said during a couple of his panels, “It’s a magical time to be alive!”

Imma go eat my cake now…

OMG MY ZILLAS!!! While Googling “Godzilla birthday” I found this blog about the most epic Godzilla birthday party ever! Holy cow, I want to do this!

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