Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Games we people play

We are a game-playing pair, Marc and I.
We love a good sparring match that involves teeny playing pieces, pages of silly rules and the opportunity to control a make-believe world for just a little while.
As a result, we usually get games for Christmas and spend most of our holidays learning new games.
This year, we got a stack that included a couple that we approached with much caution.
One was from my brother and his wife who are also game addicts.
My sister-in-law dropped it off in the afternoon and by evening we had it open justifying the early open by claiming we needed to know what not to buy them in return.
It's called "Stone Age" and at first, we were overwhelmed at the rules.
New stack of fun
"Why does Darrell always give us hard games?" I asked as Marc read the rules out loud for a long time.
Then we decided to give it a whirl and see what happened.
We loved it!
It went quickly and the little villagers made baby villagers and the whole tribe tromped around gathering wood, clay, gold and stone.
They went a' hunting.
And they got hungry so we had to feed them at the end of every turn.
We've played and played and introduced it to several other households.
Another game is from Marc's oldest daughter and her husband. They like complexity as well so we looked at this one with suspicion.
It's called "Power Grid" and I sat glumly through the reading of rules once more.
But this one proved to be fairly easy to set up and handle.
Basically you buy cities and fuels and power the American nation, pipeline by pipeline.
It's interesting and forces you to rely on the more expensive but less finite fuels...sounds like a lesson in environmental science but it's not. It's more about linking cities and doing a bit of math.
Then we had one biggie left to try, called "Castle Panic!"
This one looked impossible, sort of like a copy of Dungeons and Dragons with a boatload of monsters who try to take over the Castle.
Once again, this game proved to be so much fun...especially when we played with a couple of grandkids.
You have to share the fight and combine efforts to defeat the 49 -- yes, 49 -- monsters.
The last time we barely had a castle tower standing but we won.
It's a keeper as well.
Now my only question is, who can come over next to play? We have choices...

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sew it's Santa

Ho Ho Ho!
The raw materials
I knew I might have bitten off more than I could chew when the lady at the cutting counter asked me what I was making with all the red material.
When I told her I was going to make a Santa suit, she said, "My, you're brave!"
I kind of wondered why she said that.
I mean, how hard could it be? A pair of pants and a coat with fur trim, maybe a hat with a pom-pom?
I soon discovered that making a Santa suit requires a LOT of time and figuring.
First of all, it's more than the outfit. It's the hat and the gloves and the boots and the beard and the belt and the bells on a leather strap.
Secondly, Marc and I had different ideas about how finely turned out we wanted Santa to be.
I'm thinking, soft, red fabric and plush whitish fur.
He's thinking a plush velvet and fine, expensive trimming.
I'm looking at getting away with about $100 for the whole shebang.
Can you tell who it is?
He's looking at $90 boots on the internet and a beard and wig that he can feel good about wearing.
By my calculations, we were heading toward a $500 ensemble.
I also wanted to be able to sew this thing together.
So I got the fabric I wanted even though Marc was dubious.
He surveyed the coat with suspicion until I told him it still needed the shoulder pads.
"That might help," he said.
He looked at the pants with similar reservation and suggested suspenders would be a good idea.
We compromised on the boots. He settled for snow boats he already had and I added cuffs to the pants.
I made a vinyl belt with a shiny diamond buckle after we scoped out what was available and not.
We borrowed some bells.
He bought white gloves from an open Santa suit at the costume shop and cleaned off the scuff marks.
I made a pretty good pom-pom for the hat.
Santa's hat and belt
It's been a journey as I tried to maintain my regular schedule and work full-time in the Santa suit factory.
I cleaned up all kinds of bits of fake fur which sheds like crazy.
I cut, interfaced, sewed on velcro through stubborn layers, made pockets, ironed, turned cuffs around when the fur went the wrong way.
It's finally finished and I'm really rather pleased with the result.
Now I just have to make sure no little untrained kid sits on Santa's lap with sticky hands.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Gingerly now...

Conner's concentration
Focus Fiona

Adell wielding the frosting gun

So pretty Hannah

Needs more frosting here (Mia)

The 2-year-old couldn't believe her good luck...There were bowls full of candy all over the table and free frosting. It was a dream come true.
We were decorating gingerbread houses and this was her first time at it so she practiced well. Frost, decorate, eat the candies off. Repeat.
We had some of the grandkids together for what used to be an annual tradition until some of the kids grew older and others became dedicated to gymnastics.
We made little graham cracker houses and put out trims of all kinds; M&Ms, Smarties, marshmellows, Dots, candy corn and star-shaped pretzels.
We filled a few bags with frosting and squeezed it out in pretty lines (some just got squeezed out but that's all right).
It was an artistic and sugary adventure that said "Merry Christmas" in a sweet, sweet way.
Did anybody get any sleep after?
Kyle meeting the back of the baby what? (Brayden)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Jingled my bells

We were in Hobby Lobby looking for jingle bells.
Marc and I have a holiday project we're working on that requires some bells, big ones that sound like Santa is coming to town.
We've seen some on leather straps for horses but we didn't want those and we didn't want to pay $25 for the ones we could find on the internet.
We buzzed on back to the rear of the store where I thought I had seen some.
We didn't have much time. The store was closing soon and we had things still to do.
So when I didn't find what we wanted right away, I looked around for help.
There were a couple of guys working in the aisle.
I stepped up to one and said, "Do you know where the bells are?"
He looked annoyed and frowned at me.
"What kind of bells? Jingly bells, like Christmas bells?" he asked.
I nodded, expecting he would direct me to the proper aisle or at least, say he didn't know.
"Yeah, jingle bells."
"Well, then, they would be in the Christmas section," he said and not very nicely.
He may have had more to say but I felt dismissed and turned away, waving him off with my hand.
I walked off without further discussion.
Marc was fairly shocked at my behavior.
How could I be so rude?
I couldn't believe and will defend to the death my right to be indignant.
How can a person who works in a craft store not know where the bells are and why it matters?
Is this the most outlandish question someone will ask during the season? Was I out of line to bother this guy who gets paid to work with old ladies like me?
And what makes him think "in the Christmas section" is any kind of definitive answer?
If anybody has seen Hobby Lobby lately, they'll know the whole store is a Christmas section, from front to back and side to side.
And, by the way, the jingle bells were two aisles over.