Saturday, August 31, 2019

World of Warcraft Classic

When I was in college, my best friend's boyfriend started playing this video game. He played it constantly and, eventually, she did too. While hanging around their place one night, I caught sight of this beautifully rendered game and, almost immediately, knew I'd be playing too. I went out and bought it that very night. That was 2005. 14 years later, I am still playing World of Warcraft... off and on.

There've been several expansions, including one that destroyed "Vanilla" as we knew it. The game has evolved quite a lot over the years--it's their 15th anniversary this year--and has sadly become quite a lot easier. The in-game world has been rearranged and so many features of convenience have been introduced that the game literally babies you all the way to level, what is it now, 120? That's twice what it was in vanilla.

It shows you where to do quests, gives you heirloom gear that makes leveling extremely fast, quest items and materials (flowers, mines, etc) sparkle, there is a mount available at level one if you've earned it (which is also extremely easy). The game has a feature that puts you into groups for dungeons, quests, and raids. There's cute things to do like achievements and pet battles. You can dress your character up like a barbie doll. Earning money is ridiculously easy and everything is extremely expensive as a result. It's obscenely easy and thanks to daily quests, you literally never run out of things to do if you don't mind repetition. It's become a bit of a bore, actually.

Then, a few days ago, they managed to fix all of that when Blizzard released World of Warcraft Classic. I've been playing it when I have time and, honestly, wow (no pun intended)... it is a serious blast from the past. There're no mechanics to baby you along, no special gear to make leveling easy, no easy ways to earn a fortune like there are in the regular game. Mobs tap when you hit them, so jerks constantly steal your kills, just like the old days. There's no raid finder or easy way to get into dungeon groups. There are no auction houses in every city, no salons to change your character's look, and no in game storage system that saves your pets.You have to pay for training at every level and nothing automatically updates.

The game is in tact, the way it should be, as it was before the Cataclysm expansion killed it. I absolutely love it and the nostalgia I'm feeling playing it is unreal. And, Blizzard did a good deed by making the game free if you subscribe to the regular, overly simplified, monster World of Warcraft has become. I love it, because while I have very little interest in playing the game as it is now, I'm extremely interested in playing the game as it was when I started in 2005. They've given us back something they sort of killed and, honestly, it's perfect.

Thank you, Blizzard, for not fucking this up. Thank you for giving us our game back, you have my undying gratitude... okay, that might be a little dramatic. But seriously, World of Warcraft Classic is surprisingly well done. Now, I'm off to play some more because it's almost 11pm and I've had two Venti coffees in the last couple of hours. Thanks to Blizzard, I have something quite fun to do while not blinking for the new little bit. 😄

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Peach Tree

In the front corner of my back yard, beside the house, there's a dying tree. It's a peach tree, but thanks to fungus, it's never made good peaches in the four years we've been here. It barely grows leaves anymore, just a few bushy bunches here and there. Mostly, it's branches are are bare all year. I've been thinking I'd cut it down, but haven't ever gotten around to getting someone to do it because it's not really a priority.

I can see this peach tree from my office window. That, a power pole, the juniper bush beside it, and the neighbors rusty barn roof are pretty much all I can see from that window. Since I work at 6:30am, I watch the sky grow light each morning from that window. While working the other morning, my house quiet, I began to notice the sounds of birds chirping and singing. The house is very solid and the windows are double pane, so I don't hear much outside noise and I've really never noticed this noise before. But, there it was, about a dozen little birds perching on the bare branches of the naked peach tree, hopping from branch to branch, chirping and singing to one another.

In the still of the morning, I took a moment to watch them and listen to their singing, and I felt so much inner quiet. I don't know what the little birds are, and I can't seem to capture a picture of them on the branches because my windows are dirty and when I open the office window they fly away. But whatever they are, out there, minding their own business, they gave me something I can't ever seem to find on my own... calm.

There was this thing, the tree, that I had planned to destroy without much thought about it, being of use to these cute little critters. And, to me, too. The tree of was of use to me, because seeing the little birds fluttering around it's branches made me happy. Such a simple thing and maybe it was the moment or the quiet, but I began to realize how much I take for granted and how many things I let pass me by without stopping to really see them. So many little things that could bring me a little bit of calm or peace of mind.

I won't be cutting down the tree. I'm starting to like it, even though it's not serving the purpose it was grown for. I think I may hang some bird feeders, instead.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Coffee and a Classic: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

I've been getting this subscription box since last December and so far, I've read most of the books at some point before getting the box and have been happy to get the lovely collectors editions. July's box, Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is a story I haven't ever read yet. I'm pretty excited about this one because I feel like this is a book that most people have read. It's an American classic, so I'm a little bit embarrassed to say I've never read it... and honestly, Matt looked at me like I'd lost my mind when I told him I'd never read this one, so I feel even worse. 😆

So here's the lovely box in all it's glory. It probably wasn't my wisest move to take a pic of the box against a teal blanket when the book is sort of teal. Lesson learned. 

The book is the Papermill Press edition. Several other books from previous boxes have been from this company. I cannot say enough about the quality of the book. The cover is a sort of papery texture and the embossing is absolutely beautiful. The rest of the box is Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa, a lovely mug, Hay Straws, a cute puzzle, a denim bookmark, and huckleberry starlights in a little metal pail. 

See, the book is gorgeous! My one pet peeve with these books is that reading them is a little bit of a challenge. I don't want to mess up the spine because the book is so pretty, so holding it open without bending the spine back starts to be tricky after 50 or so pages. Otherwise, no complains. The inside of the book is just as nice as the outside, very high quality pages with print that's just the right size.

This bookmark is just too much. I love the denim and really like how durable it is. It doesn't look fragile and will look super cute sticking up out of the book. Hopefully the metal bookmark-style clip won't damage the book pages. As long as it doesn't hurt the book, it will be getting a lot of use because I think it's awfully cute!

I love the vintage cover look of this mug, it's perfect. Of all the mugs, this one might be among my favorites... do I say that every time? I really like the colors and the fact that even though it's not the same pic from the front of the book, the water and scenery on the mug is close to the same color as the book cover which really helps pull the whole theme together. Same with the label on the cocoa, the teal really pulls it together. 

I haven't tried the hot cocoa yet because, well, it's July/August so it's pretty warm. But, I'm going to try it in the morning. I'm sure that it'll be great as they have all been. While I've liked some more than others, I love all things chocolate. So no review about the cocoa just now, but I do love the packaging!

Cute, right? I don't have a single surface anywhere that's clear of clutter, but I may have to make space (cleaning, yuck!) so that I can put this little puzzle together. I love the soft watercolor-like image.

So far, the treats have been fairly spot on. The only one so far that I've flat out disliked was last month's savory trail mix, which I passed on to Matt. This month's treat has been a lovely surprise. They're huckleberry starlights. Though they look like mints, they absolutely aren't. I was a little bit concerned about putting it into my mouth because I am allergic to mint, it gives me migraines. But. it didn't smell like mints and I was so thoroughly delighted at the flavor. They are so good and look at that gorgeous purple color. This one's a win. 

I saved the best and, perhaps, most confusing thing, for last. These are long and short Hay Straws. They obviously fit the box's theme perfectly. What I love about them, once I figured out what they are, is that they are eco-friendly and biodegradable straws. They're not plastic (which is destroying the world, just sayin'). They're natural, compostable, and can be used in either hot or cold drinks. Very cool. A nice touch that's environmentally friendly. 

Overall impression of this month's box: Wonderful!! Just like all of the other boxes, it's beautifully curated and came in a lovely, deep blue photo box. From the treat to the bookish goodies, this box is a winner. I cannot wait to jump in to the book and mark it off my reading list. I will soon no longer be the only English major in the world who hasn't read Huck Finn.

**Absolutely not a paid endorsement, I pay for this subscription every month. I just love the product. 

Friday, August 2, 2019

Birthday Recap : 41 Years Old

I turned 41 last week and I feel pretty okay about it. I expected when I turned 30, then 35, and 40, that at some point I would start to feel horrible about getting older. My mom was absolutely inconsolable on her 30th birthday and struggled with 40 years old, too. There's a picture from her 30th of her sobbing while everyone sang her happy birthday. But this hasn't happened to me. I don't feel bad about getting older yet. I still feel young most of the time, aside from the occasional ache.

As mentioned in my last post, I drove out to Arizona to see my family for my birthday. That was an adventure. It was nice to see them for more than a few hours. I hadn't seen them for more than two hours at a time here and there for 3 years. I also got to see my Aunt Sandy who, except for Facetime, I haven't seen in more than 15 years and my Aunt Pam. My cousin also happened to be there.

On my birthday, my folks took me to Torrid so I could buy some clothes, which I badly needed, and to got me my free birthday shake from Del Taco. We spent most of the day after that hanging around and enjoying the afternoon. My little sister baked me an amazing pink lemonade unicorn cake.

Believe it or not, she wasn't happy with how it came out. She's a perfectionist, even when it's crazy obvious that the cake was amazing. She said it was "too short." The cake was very dense and had a very strong lemon flavor (my favorite!). She made it from a recipe I sent her from Pintrest, which I would imagine she won't be making again. The frosting was homemade buttercream. Girl has some mad baking skills. I brought about a quarter of the cake home with me, which involved freezing it solid and putting it in my Igloo in hopes it didn't thaw out on the 15 hour drive (it didn't). Matt enjoyed it.

For my birthday, my folks got me a 25 pound weighted blanket. This is a pretty big deal, because I've been wanting one for a long time. My mom has heard me talking about it and remembered. She's great at picking gifts. I've been using it for the last week since coming home and it's made me feel so much better. I have less anxiety in the mornings and I've been sleeping quite a lot better. I absolutely love it. I also got a stack of vintage records, the A&E Romance Collection DVD set, the crown jewel of which is the A&E Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Elhe, and a Red Copper Pot for my collection... that stuff is the best!

On Friday morning after I got back and had had a whole night of sleep, Matt hugged me for a long time. Then, he forsook sleep and took me to Salt Lake for my birthday. He'd been awake all night, but "wasn't tired" so we went. He got tired about mid-day, so we pumped some coffee and conversation into him and he made it. We went to City Creek Center, which is a gorgeous mall, where I got Rocky Mountain Chocolate. We had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory (our new favorite) and then went to Game Night Games and got ourselves some dice. The road construction and traffic were a struggle after the long drive the day before, so my nerves were a little bit shot. But, we had a great day and really enjoyed ourselves. He's been an absolute prince to me since I got back. It's true what they say about absence making the heart grow fonder. 😂

The last thing to cap off my birthday celebration was my birthday Kickstarter. I think I've mentioned this before, but for the past few years, I've backed a Kickstarter for my birthday. This year, my birthday Kickstarter is Time Traveling with your Octopus by Brian Kesinger. I adore his work. I also backed one of his Kickstarters for my birthday during a previous year. He's a former Disney animator and his work is absolutely brilliant.

All in all, my 41st birthday was pretty damn good. Here's to being another year older gracefully and a picture of my cute little car during my birthday road trip--on the way home--just because I love her. I was in Searchlight, AZ right before I hit a monsoon. I survived to enjoy my 41st year, even though the weather had other ideas!