Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday Link Love

Spreading a little <3 Link Love <3 this Monday!

My so-called brain shares a sneak peak of the Doctor Who Christmas episode.  (video may not be available in all areas)

Chronic Geek shares a little insight and update into her busy IT life.

8 to Infinity Bit brings us up to speed on the latest with his store.

Fantastic Fangirls gives their Tuesday Trades Round Up

Game Like A Girl shares her thoughts and review on the new Playstation Move

GeekGirlDiva wrote a lovely piece about the young girl being bullied for liking Star Wars

Geek With Curves isn't ready for Harry Potter to end

Did you hear?  Sandman to be a TV show?!  Girl Gone Geek did!

Nerd Heroine has no connection to the creation of the Terminator

Smitten Kitchen shares her divine Upside-down Cranberry Cake with us

Last Night's Dinner takes a moment to reflect on comfort food.

Luxury Lane Soap now has a Facebook Fan page!

Cosmetic Candy shares her thoughts on the new Illamasqua Nail Quills

Vampy Varnish swatches E.L.F.'s Day to Night Eye Kit.

Lipglossiping reviews Bare Escentuals new Brush with Genius brush set

Lipstick and Lightsabers did a lovely dark gold smokey eye look

Temptalia's video review of MAC Marcel Wanders

Lacquerized reviews Crystal nail polish from Zoya's Flame Collection

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thanksgiving Recipes Swap/Share - Turkey Tips, Tricks, and another T Word

With Thanksgiving right around the corner and the world over scrambling for recipes, ideas, short cuts, and what not I figured I would post a few recipes of my own.

Ah the fattened fowl that is Turkey.  How we love thee every November.  Course I love you a lot too when I frequent Boston Market every other day of the year. :D  But Thanksgiving is the one day that I get to become a chaotic b!tch in the kitchen, make a giant feast and feed all those that survived the entire day of me being a crazed lunatic in the kitchen.  Sounds like fun doesn't?  Course my family will tell you I'm a crazed lunatic the other 364. :p  Now some people tend to shy away from making a whole turkey during Thanksgiving and I don't know why that is.  Sure it takes some time and some prep but there are no shortage of websites and hot lines out there that can help you with any dilemma that might arise.  I really think you should give it a go this year if you haven't made a turkey.  Go on now.  Get to the store!

Turkey Tips, Tricks, and another T Word
Choose
- When choosing your bird make sure you get enough meat to feed your guests.  It is estimated that you will need about 3/4 of a pound per person for a whole turkey.  Or if you want extra leftovers just do what I do and say one (1) pound per person to make the math easier.

Thaw - Be sure to allow adequate time for your Turkey to thaw in the fridge.  Some people like to thaw their turkey in the sink with cold water but I find this annoying, time consuming, and I have to keep chasing cats away from the bird.  I make sure mine is in a shallow dish on the bottom shelf and I check it a few times a day to dump any liquid that may drain during the thaw process.  No that stuff is not blood but it's not good either.  When I get stuck on thaw times I refer to good old http://www.butterball.com/ even if my turkey isn't a Butterball.  Their site is the simplest to navigate and search, plus they have how to instructions to print out and videos as well.

Uckies - Once your bird is thawed be sure to pull the gizzard bag out of the cavity and reach under the flap of skin in the front of the bird where the head was to remove the neck.  What you do with the gizzard and neck bag is up to you.  When I had a dog I would boil these up for her but now I just chase family members around the house with them.  You can throw them away or make chitterlings.  Just make sure you take them out cause if you don't your bird will smell odd as it cooks.

Utensils - Invest in the following Thanksgiving day kitchen utensils: meat thermometer, large deep roasting pan, sturdy cooking rack that fits inside roasting pan and will support a large turkey, whisk, sharp carving knife, some sort of tongs or mini pitch fork devices to remove turkey from roasting pan, large serving dish or disposable roasting pan so the turkey has a place to sit after cooking, and tin foil.  Some people will say you need one of those large eye dropper things to baste your turkey.  If you have a tablespoon or cooking spoon you can get by with that.

Time - Know what time you are planning to eat and how long your bird will take to prep and cook.  Again I refer you to http://www.butterball.com/ for cook time for your bird based on weight.  The tag that comes on your bird comes in handy too.  As far as prep goes give yourself an hour at least.  I know it sounds like a long time but you'll need it to clean and stuff the bird.

Clean - Wash your bird, inside and out, with cold water.  Get all that weird blood looking stuff off it cause that is not tasty.  Also be careful to not get water under the skin.  You don't want a water logged bird before cooking.  Pat your bird dry with paper towels.

Stuff - Now when it comes to seasoning and stuffing the bird I like to keep things simple.  I stow some pats of butter under the skin of the bird to season the meat.  Sometimes, the night before, I will prep a seasoned butter to use for this process.  Then I take some softened butter and I rub it all over the outside of the bird, don't forget the bottom of the bird and between the wing, thigh, and drumstick.  Liberally season with salt and pepper including the cavity.  Then I will stuff the bird with assorted veggies, citrus, and herbs.  This year I'm thinking blood oranges, lemons, apples, maybe pears, onions, garlic, and fresh herbs.  I normally half or quarter the veggies and fruit leaving the skin on and toss the herbs in whole.  These items are just to season the bird and the drippings. The other reason I do this is I hate filling.  In PA where I'm from we have two kinds of stuffing for Thanksgiving, Filling and Stuffing.  Filling is a stuffing mixture that gets packed into the bird during cooking and comes out looking like an alien missile of carbs projecting from the cavity of the bird.  Filling is also mushy and paste like.  *cringes*  Now Stuffing on the other hand is made in a pot on top of the stove or in the oven, it's moist and crunchy and simply delicious.  I could eat stuffing all day.  If you're going to stuff the bird with veggies, fruits, and the like keep it simple.  Also don't use starchy foods like potatoes.  You want items that are going to really flavor the bird.  You aren't making a roast so avoid carrots and celery too.

Cook - Once your bird is nestled in the roasting pan, legs tucked in, and stuffed you want to put a few cups of stock in the bottom of the pan and have it only come up maybe 1/2 an inch on the side of the pan.  Any more and the bird will drown.  The bird is going to give off juices as it cooks and adding too much liquid is going to result in half cooking half boiling the bird.  Also stock will give some more flavor to the bird while you baste as opposed to water.  Tent some tin foil over the bird and you are ready to cook in the oven.

Baste - I normally don't touch my bird for the first hour or two of it's cook time.  Every time you open the oven door you let heat escape and this will increase the cooking time.  Trust me if you buttered that baby up it's getting plenty of goodness from that and you won't need to baste just yet.  When I do start basting I do it about every 45-60 min depending on the bird and how the cooking process is going.  If you think the bird needs it you can do it every 30 min.  Remember to keep the foil tented away from the skin of the bird when you put the tin foil back on.

Done - During the last 60 to 90 min of cook time you want to take the foil off and let the skin crisp up a bit.  I don't normally follow the popper thing when I cook.  I use my meat thermometer, inserted into the thigh but not touching the bone and look for a reading of about 180 degrees F.  You also want the juices to run clear.

Rest - Remove your turkey from the oven, place it on whatever pan or dish you are using to serve, cover with tin foil, and let it rest for at least 30 min.  Doing so allows the bird to reabsorb the juices.  If you don't wait all that lovely flavorful juice is going to run all over your dish and you'll end up with a dry bird. 

These are just a few tips and tricks I use for my Turkey bird.  I know the Internets have plenty more out there to help.  Feel free to share in the comments some of your own.

FTW! Friday's the Win!! FTW!

FTW or Friday's the Win is a recurring theme every Friday.  Since everyone looks forward to Friday's arrival each week I figured it'd be a good time to share with everyone here at Geek Faerie what made your week filled with extra awesomeness!  Maybe you finally met Neil Gaiman.  (insert OMG fangrrl squee!)  Maybe you finished all of Fable III and saved Albion!  Or maybe you found that elusive and discontinued MAC lipstick on E-bay and it didn't cost you an arm, leg, and your first born child.  Whatever it is that made your week tell us all about it here.

For me it was finally getting my Sigma Make-up brushes  and my Lush haul!

From Sigma I got the Synthetic Face kit, the Complete kit with black brush roll, the Hollywood Glamour Retractable Kabuki in Black, and the Lip brush.  I have been wanting to get these brushes for a long time now.  I've been reading reviews, watching youtube videos, and trolling the site to drool.  I currently have a bunch of E.L.F. brushes that I picked during a 50% brush sale on their site.  Now these brushes aren't terrible for what I paid but they aren't great either.  They were a good starter set for a make-up noob and I'd recommend them to others getting into make-up to give them a go if they need brushes.  Now I have my fabulous new Sigma Brushes and I can't wait to try them out this weekend.

From Lush I picked up Fresh Farmacy face soap, Lovely Jubblies lotion (guess what this is used on), Mint Julip lip scrub, Twilight bath bomb, Dragon's Egg bath bomb, Blackberry bath bomb, Ruby Red Slippers bubble bar, Christmas Eve bubble bar, Bathos bubble bar, and Dream Cream.  I'm a bit addicted to Lush and their items, I just wish a store was closer than having to drive up to Tyson's Corner to smell new products.  The Mint Julip lip scrub, Lovely Jubblie lotion, Bathos bubble bar, and Blackberry bath bomb are items I've been using and need to replace.  The new additions I'm trying out to see if I like or they are Holiday limited editions.  Fresh Farmacy I'm hoping will work well to keep my face under control, I've been using Coalface but it's just a bit too harsh on my skin to use twice a day.  I'm also hoping Dream Cream helps with a few skin problems we've been facing in the house and ones that I know will appear as the temperature drops.  If you've never shopped at Lush I would recommend giving their Bubble Bars and Bath Bombs a go for your first order (Like Blackberry and Bathos, used together are DIVINE!).  Also if you have a shop nearby stop in and give everything a sniff.  All their stuff is all natural and a great deal of it is Vegan Friendly too.

Now it's your turn!  What made your FTW or Friday's the Win even better this week?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving Recipes Swap/Share - Baked Acorn Squash

With Thanksgiving right around the corner and the world over scrambling for recipes, ideas, short cuts, and what not I figured I would post a few recipes of my own.  I know this recipe is ALL over the Internet but how many of us have actually tried it?  Most people walk through the supermarket, see those lovely gourds stacked high in their crates and keep on walking.  They pay them no never mind and why is that, because they are too hard to cut into.  Well if you own a good sharp kitchen or chefs knife and a wooden mallet I can assure you these are not hard to cut into at all.  And what's this?  I have included videos from the Internets to show you how easy a gourd is to cut!

This video is about making butternut squash soup but the tips for how to slice your squash are still the same.  Just follow Alton Brown's easy and super simple steps. :)  There is also a longer Alton Brown video detailing squash and gourds here.  If you don't know who Alton Brown is imagine if you will that Julia Child and Mr. Wizard had a baby and the result was Alton Brown.  Half kid friendly scientific genius, half lovable kitchen maven.

Baked Acorn SquashIngredients
Acorn Squash
Butter
Brown Sugar, light or dark

Pre-heat oven to 350.  Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.  Cut a small sliver off each side of the Acorn Squash to ensure your halves will sit flat on the baking sheet.  Cut your Acorn Squash in half using a good sharp chefs knife and a wooden mallet.  Arrange halves on baking sheet.  Liberally butter each half of the Acorn Squash, you can either use melted butter or just arrange pats of butter on the squash, your choice.  Next liberally sprinkle with brown sugar, again light or dark your choice.  Slide baking sheet into oven and bake for 1 hour.  The edges will brown slightly and the squash will be fork tender. 

Do not under cook or try to speed the process by a higher oven temp. Good squash takes some time and is well worth the wait.  If you prep ahead of time your squash can go in with the Turkey 30 min before the bird is done and can finish cooking while your bird is on the counter resting for 30 min.  Did you know your bird is supposed to rest for 30 min before slicing into?  It's so the juices don't run out and make the meat all dry.

Do you have any cool Thanksgiving recipes that are quick and simple to share?

Fifteen Fictional Characters That Influenced You (From @neverwear)

Reading through my twitter stream today I saw a tweet from @neverwear linking to a Facebook note she made here.  If you don't know who @neverwear, aka Cat Mihos is, she is Neil Gaiman's merch queen (it says so on her Twitter page).  On her Facebook note she did a meme listing the 15 fictional characters that influenced her life.  I was very intrigued by this and so I decided to do one and share.  Read below for my 15, listed in no particular order.

FIFTEEN FICTIONAL CHARACTERS
The Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen fictional characters (television, films, plays, books) who've influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.

1. Jilly Coppercorn
2. Sophie (Jilly's friend)
3. Maleficent
4. Ms Piggy
5. Gonzo
6, Oscar the Grouch
7. Bert and Ernie
8. Death (Endless) and Death (Pratchett)
9. Wolverine
10. David, Paul, Dwayne, and Marko (aka The Lost Boys)
11. Jareth
12. Fizzgig
13. Harry Dresden
14. Pam Ravenscroft
15. Martin the Warrior

So what 15 Fictional characters influenced your life?  Please share with us! :D
BTW 100 points the person who can honestly name all the places these characters come from without using Google.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thanksgiving Recipes Swap/Share - Apple Walnut Stuffing Muffins

With Thanksgiving right around the corner and the world over scrambling for recipes, ideas, short cuts, and what not I figured I would post a few recipes of my own.  If you watch any Food Network you'll notice that these recipes are very much Semi-Homemade in that they have store bought and fresh ingredients.  These recipes aren't from the show they are just creations I've taken from other recipes or happy accidents that I've done and I'm now sharing with you. :)

Apple Walnut Stuffing Muffins
Ingredients
1 box Chicken Stove Top Stuffing
Chicken Broth (enough to make stuffing according to box directions)
1 small Granny Smith apple - diced
1/2 cup walnuts - crushed
Butter (enough to make stuffing according to box directions)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Make stuffing according to directions.  Dice up the apple and take your Thanksgiving aggressions out on the walnuts.  For best results with the walnuts place them inside a sandwich baggie or a sealed up piece of cling wrap, place inside a folded dish towel, and proceed to smash with a mallet, rolling pin, or other sturdy clobbering implement that won't dent your counter tops if you miss.  Add the apple and walnuts to the stuffing and stir to combine.  You may need to add more chicken stock if the mixture looks too thick.  Next butter a muffin tin and portion the stuffing mix into each tin.  You are making individual stuffing muffins for everyone so keep the portions about the same as you portion.  Place inside oven and bake for about 10-15 min depending on your oven.  You want the tops to crisp up slightly and give the apple enough time to soften without turning to mush.

The recipe can be doubled or tripled without issue and you can add more or less apple and walnuts based on your families taste.  Also this recipe can be made vegetarian by using a vegetable stuffing and vegetable stock.  The Stove Top box makes about 6 half cup servings so if you use another brand figure about 3 cups cooked.

50 Greatest Science-Fiction Movies of all time compiled by MSN.com

While surfing the internets at work DragonMonkey found the article linked below on MSN.com.  It's a compiled list of the 50 Greatest Science-Fiction Movies of all time.  So I ran through the list, added a few of my own thoughts and comments for some of the movies, as well as marked a few to add to my Have to See List of movies.  The full article gives a summary for each movie as well as a scene from the movie.

50) 'The Quatermass Xperiment' (1955)
49) 'Things to Come' (1936)
48) 'I Married a Monster From Outer Space' (1958)
47) 'Godzilla' (1954)
46) 'Strange Invaders' (1983)
45) 'They Live' (1988) - adding to my Have to See list cause it stars "Rowdy" Roddy Piper44) 'It Came From Outer Space' (1953)
43) 'The Omega Man' (1971) - I'm torn as to if I should see it.  On the one hand it has Charlton Heston.  On the other it has Charlton Heston.42) 'Invaders From Mars' (1953)
41) 'The Andromeda Strain' (1971)
40) 'War of the Worlds' (1953) - another Have to See list addition39) 'War of the Worlds' (2005) - *rolls eyes* really. this version made the list...38) 'When Worlds Collide' (1951)
37) 'The Incredible Shrinking Man' (1957)
36) 'Robinson Crusoe on Mars' (1964)
35) 'Planet of the Vampires' (1965)
34) 'Quatermass and the Pit' (1967)
33) 'Mars Attacks!' (1996) - I was very eh about this movie when it came out.  I was 18 at the time when Tim Burton was all the rage and I felt he hadn't done a good movie since Beetlejuice.  This movie further fueled that feeling.  It was too campy, too over the top, too making fun of itself and not serious enough.  I've watched it since as well as other Tim Burton movies, some of those opinions have changed, just not for this movie.32) 'Solaris' (2002) - *adds to Have to See list*31) 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' (1956) - I remember watching this movie as a child with my Grandmother and my teenage cousin and feeling filled with sadness.  Every turn this movie took, to my child mind, someone lost another loved one to the "pea pods".  I remember a scene towards the end where one of the characters puts the pod outside the sleeping baby's door to initiate the takeover.  I wept inwardly at the cruelty and callousness.  I wanted to scream it's just a baby you leave it alone!  It still cuts to think of that scene and I should find the time to watch it again as an adult.30) 'Alphaville' (1965)
29) 'Moon' (2009)
28) 'The Man Who Fell to Earth' (1976) - Adding to Have to See list because it has David Bowie in all his androgynous awesomeness!27) 'Total Recall' (1990) - Even if you've never seen it I think everyone has scene this movie.  I'm surprised it's this low on the list.  I had figured somewhere in the top 20 at least.  It's been ages since I've seen this movie and I hate to say that it didn't really leave much of an impression on me.  It was good but not very good or even OMG good.  It had it's moments and some interesting special effects and of course the 3 boobed woman.  I really think she's the reason people remember this movie and not cause it stars the Governator.26) 'These Are the Damned' (1963) - I've never heard of this movie and after reading the synopsis given in the article I am adding it to the Have to See list.25) 'Starman' (1984) - I have always loved this movie and it's so much more than a sci-fi movie.  It's a love story, a drama, an action movie, at times a comedy.  This movie taught me the phrase, "Red light stop, green light go, yellow light go very fast."  I have been known to quote it on occasion when in the car when always obeying traffic laws. *sheepish grin*  If you have never seen this movie, please go watch it.  And by they way it should be in the top 10 at least.24) 'Brazil' (1985)
23) 'Serenity' (2005) - *waits for the applause from all the Serenity/Firefly fans to die down before speaking* I know right?  I couldn't believe it either when it popped up next.  This movie made fans cheer and brought new fans to the series.  5 years later and the signal is still going and will probably continue for many years to come.  I am a huge fan of the series and I saw this movie at least 3 times in theatres.  I would have seen it more but I was in NM the majority of the time it was in theatres and we didn't get enough off time.  I picked it up as soon as the DVD came out and I think I own or have owned 3 copies of it with various new material included.  This movie has it all, witty banter, gun fights, space flight, secret government plots, action sequences, horsies, men in leather pants, women in leather pants, I dare you to find something in this movie that doesn't appeal to you on some level.22) 'Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan' (1982) - Oh my Gods I cried so hard at the end of this movie and I'm now wondering why we don't own it.  *writes that down*  This movie is a gem and a must for any Sci-Fi collection.  It may not be your favourite Star Trek movie but you can't deny it's not a well done film with brilliant acting.  If you haven't seen it you simply must.21) 'Earth vs. The Flying Saucers' (1956)
20) 'Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope' (1977) - You knew a Star Wars movie was coming.  I just didn't expect it to be what I consider the first one to be at slot number 20.  In my opinion you have to see the original 1977 version and not the revamped present version available.  That reminds me I have to find copies of the originals on DVD.  All I ever find are additional footage cause we have the technology now ones. *sighs*  Any way this classic really needs no review.  It speaks for itself, it stands on it's own, and it really should be top 10.19) 'Solaris' (1972) - I will be adding this one to the Have to See list.18) 'Forbidden Planet' (1956)
17) 'The Fly' (1986) - I've seen it.  It was okay.  It just makes me queasy and that's where my dislike of it comes from.  It is a well done story and wonderfully acted but I can't get over the really squeamish and gross parts to truly enjoy it.16) 'Starship Troopers' (1997) - Really guys?  Really?  Starship troops made it to the top 20 and beat out Star Wars... This movie is utter cheese and I don't think it belongs in the top 20 maybe in the bottom 20?  But it does have NPH.15) 'Independence Day' (1996) - I think this was the first time I saw the White House get destroyed in a movie and the first time I was introduced to Adam Baldwin.  But sadly Harry Connick Jr dies in like the first 5 minutes of the movie and Randy Quad saves the day.  I felt this movie was more action and comedy than real sci-fi.  It had it's sci-fi moments but not enough in my feeling.14) 'The Thing' (1982)
13) 'The Terminator' (1984) - Yes I've seen the Terminator and it was good but it was never really my thing.  Don't get me wrong I love Sarah Connor Chronicles but I just never got into the movies.12) 'The Day The Earth Stood Still' (1951)
11) 'Metropolis' (1927)
10) 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' (1977) - Another classic and I'm glad it made it to the top 10.  I've seen this movie a few times over the years and I think it's just amazing.  So much of this movie has become part of pop culture and I can't think of a single person that hears the keyboard music and doesn't recognize it.  Plus with Thanksgiving next week it's a perfect time of year to make your mashed potato mountain. :)9) 'E.T. The Extra Terrestrial' (1982) - I can't think of one person my age that didn't see this movie but I can think of plenty of kids today who haven't that should.  This movie wasn't about special effects and Michael Bay bah-splosions.  This movie was about friendship and the child like wonder and innocence of what would you do if you found a new alien friend.  So many kids movies today are all about bright lights and flashing images.  More kids need movies like this.  In fact go get it and make your kids sit and watch it right now.8) 'Aliens' (1986) - I know the plot but I've never seen the movie.  Mostly cause I know it will give me nightmares even at my age.  I'm glad it's in the top 10 where it should be.7) 'The Thing From Another World' aka 'The Thing' (1951) - I think I'll be adding this to the Have to See list as well.6) 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' (1991) - An entire generation said hasta la vista baby about everything in their life.  It was okay but I don't think it deserves top 10 billing especially not above the original.  Maybe knock this one back to top 20?5) 'Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back' (1980) - Ah Yoda.  How we love thee and your odd sentence structure wisdom.  Top 5 for you is still fabulous but I think top 3 would be better.  But you made the list and in single digits no less.  How proud I am. :)4) 'Alien' (1979) - Like Aliens I know the plot but I've never seen the movie. Course I was a wee babe when it came out.  Again I'm glad it's up this high cause I feel it deserves it but I'm still not going to see it.3) 'The Matrix' (1999) - *face palm* The Matrix...at number 3...really?  Yes it used some cool new camera angle tech stuff and yes it had an interesting take on the whole why are we hear and where are we headed idea...but number 3...fine whatever...my list wouldn't have had it this high.2) '2001: A Space Odyssey' (1968) - Another classic and up top where it should be.  I've heard podlings say to their parents "I'm sorry Dave I'm afraid I can't do that." whether or not they know what it's from or not they know it.  Another movie that has become so ingrained in our culture that you know it without ever having seen it.  Bravo!1) 'Blade Runner' (1982) - I know I know I know I need to see Blade Runner and I will.  I promise it's not only on the Have to See list it's also on the Bucket List.  I'll see it I promise.  And I'm glad it's number 1 :D

So that's the list MSN.com compiled along with my thoughts on a few of these movies. What do you think?  Agree?  Disagree?  What would you have added/deleted?

Friday, November 12, 2010

FTW! Friday's the Win!! FTW!

FTW or Friday's the Win!  Is going to be a recurring theme every Friday.  Basically since everyone looks forward to Friday's arrival each week I figured it'd be a good time to share with everyone here at Geek Faerie what made your week filled with extra awesomeness!  Maybe you finally got your hands on that elusive first run graphic novel.  Or maybe you've completed an epic quest in your RPG.  Or maybe it was something as simple as finding a Wonder Woman Comfy Throw with Sleeves to keep you warm on those long nights catching up with your DVR or playing video games.  Whatever it is that made your week tell us all about it here.

For me my week was made complete by this week's episode of the The Big Bang Theory.  I'm really glad that more female Geek characters are joining the cast.  Don't get me wrong I love Penny cause she tickles my girlie side but it's fun to see an anti social Geek character like Amy coming on board and the return of Bernadette who strikes a lovely balance between both girls.  I can't wait for more plots lines involving all 3 girls to unfold.  And of course this week's episode also had an appearance by Sheldon's nemesis Wil Wheaton!  Who doesn't love that?

So share all, what made your FTW or Friday's the Win even better this week?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kinect Advice and Suggestions

We've been playing around with the Kinect for nearly a week now and I've compiled an advice and suggestions list for play and use.  These are just a few things you and your family might want to know and put into practice with your new friend the Kinect.

Make room.  Move any furniture, toys, people, pets, and the like out of the way when playing.  Kinect is designed to get you up and moving and you don't want obstacles.  Items and people in the play area can affect the Kinects ability to clearly see you and what you are doing.  We found this out when I tried waving at the Kinect with my laptop right next to my hand and again when we had two people in the play area when there should have only been one.  Remember if you rearrange furniture or relocate the Kinect you will have to run through some setup procedures again so the Kinect can recognize the layout of the room once more.

Wear Shoes.  When playing you are going to be standing for long periods of time.  You might want the extra arch support shoes can provide.  Also some games involve running and jumping in place.  Your feet will thank you.  At least mine did when playing the Track and Field portion of Kinect Sports.

Good Posture.  Again you are going to be standing and moving for a while.  Use proper posture when standing up and good form when moving so you don't need meds to help with those back and body problems later.

Take Breaks.  Whether you have an existing condition or not be sure to keep an eye on how long you've been playing and take breaks.  If you have an existing condition I suggest limiting your play time to no longer than 60 minutes to avoid over doing it.  Some games have a notification built in that recommends taking a break from long periods of play, I noticed this while playing Kinectimals.

Hydrate.  A throw back to my boot camp days but very important none the less.  Some games are involved and will have you working up a sweat, like Kinect Sports and Dance Central.  You want to make sure you have water nearby to keep your body hydrated and cool.  It'd be a shame to pass out in the middle of getting a Flawless score while playing Dance Central.

For Girls.  Ladies wear a bra when you play.  I know this sounds like a no brainer but you will hate yourself if you try to play Kinect Sports without one.

Wear Clothes.  Again a no brainer but the Kinect is snapping photos and videos of you while you play.  You don't want to the world to see you on Facebook, Twitter, or the like in your birthday suit if you accidently don't hide those photos or videos.

Be Courteous.  I mention this for 2 reasons.  One, the Kinect videos and pictures will capture a lot of stuff and I doubt you want photos of you or your teen in the background throwing up the finger plastered all over Facebook.  Two, the Kinect is sensitive as I said before.  Don't wave, step into the play area, or do other disruptions that will cause the Kinect to recognize you while another is playing.  Doing so may cause a sibling fight in the living room or a teen getting grounded.  Not that we experienced either of those things...

Play Area.  Make sure you are within the Kinect's playing area while you play or wave.  We found out that our couch is back just a few inches too far for it to recognize us waving.  Most of this is trial and error as you experiment but take it into account.  You want the Kinect to view you and not miss an action cause you weren't in the play area.

Kinect ID Often.  The Kinect ID recommends you run it in the morning, afternoon, and night to be recognized in all three lighting conditions.  I would go one step further and do this on bright sunny days, cloudy days, and overcast or rainy days in all 3 times of day.  The more you do this the better your chances the Kinect will recognize you all the time.

Scanning Codes.  If you're game has codes that can be scanned by the Kinect for use in the game read the game manual first to see where this can be done.  We purchased the Limited Edition Kinectimals game which came with a stuffed animal and a code to load a virtual animal for play.  After 40 minutes or so of trying various ideas, looking online for answers, and a short Alpha fight later we found the Scan Stone located to the left of the Bonding Circle.  All of this could have been avoided had we read the game manual to begin with (but who really reads those any way?)  Remember you have to be 9 inches away from the Kinect and your fingers cannot cover any part of the code to be scanned.

Use One Hand.  When interacting with the Kinect try to use only one hand to scroll through the dashboard, make selections, and the like.  Some aspects of game play do use two hands or a specific gesture to perform an action however for everything else try to use your dominate hand only.  It keeps the Kinect from getting confused.

Have Fun.  The Kinect was designed to get you and your family up off the couch and moving.  A child oriented game like Kinectimals will have you working out and moving around quite a bit despite the lure of uber cute baby animals.  Plus you never know, your surly Teen might put down the cell phone long enough to play Dance Central (while lip synching along with Lady Gaga) just to try and beat Dad's score.  Get up, get going, get a little competitive, and of course go have a good time with friends and family.


Did you pick up a Kinect too?  Share your thoughts and feelings about it in the Comments Section.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

TangleFrost Etsy Purchase Review

Another Etsy vendor I ordered from was TangleFrost but I don’t know why I let this piece sit in my favorite items for so long.  I was worried someone would finally snag this piece out from under me.  Luckily they did not and this gorgeous clutch is mine.

It’s such a lovely and versatile clutch, don’t you think?  The red makes it a very autumn/holiday friendly accessory.  On the other hand the daisy flowers make it perfect for spring/summer use as well.  I found this clutch to be very roomy.  I was able to fit my Droid phone, small wallet, lipstick, compact, as well as a pack of travel sized tissues and still had room to squeeze more in there.

It was deceptively roomy and that makes it perfect for my needs.  I love small items I can fit a lot of things into.  I’m one those overly prepared types.  You never know what you are going to need no matter where you go.  I also love the embellished leaf on the side of the purse.  Just a cute touch.

This item arrived a few days after ordering in a padded envelope that did suffer some wear in transit.  Thankfully the item inside did not suffer any trauma.  This item was very reasonably priced for the artistry and craftsmanship involved.  The items felt very lush and well put together.  I would certainly recommend this vendor to others.

This item was purchased from TangleFrost's Etsy Vendor Page.
Follow her on Twitter @TangelFrost

 
Sparkles
This item definitely was reasonably priced for the craftsmanship and would fit any budget.
I was surprised by the capacity this purse had inside it.  Like a clutch sized bag of holding.
This item arrived quickly despite coming from the UK.
This piece is versatile for all seasons and all uses.  From formal to casual and winter to spring.

Sputters
I’m worried the ribbon holding the leaf in place may fail.

Overall: 4 out of 5 Faerie Wings

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thanksgiving Recipes Share/Swap/Something Bright Idea

I was thinking, since it's getting close to Thanksgiving if you all would like me to share some of my Thanksgiving recipes, ideas, tips, tricks, whatevers with you all?  The posts woudn't have pictures till after Thanksgiving when I can link back or something.  What do you all think?  Would you like me to do a few dozen or so posts on Thanksgiving type things?  Nothing indepth and crazy just what I do to prepare, cook and the like.  Let me know what you think about this?

FindingCharm Etsy Purchase Review

You may recall me babbling incoherently on Twitter about some Etsy purchases I made just before Halloween.  Well a few of those wonderful items arrived and I want to share them with you all.

The first Etsy Vendor I want to talk about is FindingCharm’s lovely beaded lanyards and fun bauble rings.

I first found her shop from a retweet for one of her lanyards.  I wasn’t in the market for a new lanyard for work but when I spied this one I could not pass it up.

It looks more like a beautiful piece of jewelry than a lanyard.  It’s well constructed and very chic.   I was a little concerned that it would be flimsy or too heavy at the connections but I was surprised it was neither.  I’ve gotten a number of compliments on this piece.  My only issue, and this one I expected, was that the connectors do get snagged on my hair at times.  But I have this issue with necklaces as well so I don’t consider it a huge problem nor does it detract from the piece overall.  Just a hazard of having long hair.

My eyes next fell on this ring.  Isn’t this sweet little prince waiting for a kiss just to die for!?  I was sold on the fact that the ring was adjustable.  I have larger knuckles from years of cracking them so finding rings that fit can be a treasure hunt.  Well this little guy is adjustable and that was music to my ears.  I was really surprised that the ring itself did not pinch or feel tight when I adjusted it to fit.  He’s just too cute and my coworkers thought he was lovely as well.

After finding my Frog Prince ring I then flipped through FindingCharm’s wares for a Turtle ring and was overjoyed to find one.  I have a weakness for turtles, they are just too AWESOME!  So I snagged this guy up.  Just like the Frog Prince ring he’s adjustable too and I also did not experience pinching nor issues getting this ring to fit a larger finger.  The ring itself did not stain or tarnish my hand either.

I was very pleased with my purchase from FindingCharm’s Etsy page.  I felt her items were very reasonably priced based on level of artistry.  My items arrived a few days after ordering them in padded envelope.  All items were tucked neatly into green jewelry bags along with a hand penned thank you card and business cards to share with friends.

I like it when a vendor takes the time to pen a thank you card and take those extra steps to make your purchase feel personal.  I would certainly recommend this vendor to others.

Items purchased at FindingCharm Etsy Vendor Page.
Follow her on Twitter @FindingCharm

Sparkles
Punctual.  Package arrived a few days after ordering.
Charming.  All items are handmade and beautiful
Secure.  My items arrived secure and well padded.
Personal Touch.  Vendor sent a personal hand written thank you card.
Budget.  Items were reasonably priced for craftsmanship.

Sputters
Snagged.  The lanyard did snag on my hair but I expected this.

Overall: 4 out of 5 Faerie Wings

Friday, November 5, 2010

Kinect and Games Intial Thoughts

A quick trip to Game Stop and we’re home with our AWESOME new family member!!


What?  Did you think I meant this?


*giggles* Yes we picked it all up today and we are testing it out right now.  Set up was super simple and took maybe 15 minutes total to include unpacking.  We started off with Kinect Sports…


And played a lovely round of bowling.  We did notice that the Kinect is very sensitive to the slightest motion, it took a few turns to get the placement of the arms when bowling.  Nothing contortionist like or bizarre, you just had to be aware of your arm placement when playing otherwise you might get a gutter ball.  Next we played table tennis and soccer, again a few learning curves but this was resolved quickly.  I have to say playing this was so much simpler than the Wii.  It instantly recognized if you wanted to be a righty or a lefty.  No setting up the controller a certain way, cause you are the controller!  It also instantly recognized which player was playing when we swapped out.  When the KinectID is set up no need to log out and log back in, just step in front of the Kinect and it logs you in with facial recognition.

At this point we wanted a challenge and broke out the wicked groove thang!


My DragonMonkey has mad skills yo!  Okay that was uncalled for.  *blush* I loved the step by step Break It Down section that covered each dance move in small chunks.  It gave you a chance to watch the dancer and mirror their motions.  Those of us with any dancing skills or who do aerobics will have no problem what so ever with this game.  Those of us that are challenged in this department (my teenager) will still do well.  All the songs have a heavy beat, if you can count you can play this game.  No additional skills required, just follow along as you mirror your character, and rack up the dance points.  And of course laugh hysterically during Freestyle mode as you cut a serious rug.

We didn’t get to Adventures yet (sorry no picture) but it’s my turn to play.  And that means…


Excuse me while I go turn into my 6 year old self and SQUEEE!!

More Kinect thoughts and reviews to come…

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wonder Woman Comfy Throw with Sleeves from Hot Topic Initial Thoughts

At the mall I had to do my usual Hot Topic walk around, who doesn't?  While browsing the shelves towards the back I stumbled up on this...

I know I know it's a Snug...erm...Comfy Throw with Sleeves and I know I know we all cringe whenever we see one in stores.  But this!  This is a Wonder Woman one!!  Nothing wrong can come from a Wonder Woman Comfy Throw with Sleeves!!


Isn't it Wondrous!!  Oh I can't wait to test it out this Winter and provide you all with a full review!


I have to say it kept me very warm just during the few pictures we snapped off.  I know this is going to be a big help when it gets colder here.  For now though it's stashed away from the cats.  I'm trying to keep hair off of it as long as I can.

Initial Thoughts
The fabric wasn't heavy but it wasn't thin either.  It was a nice fleece fabric that shouldn't produce any fabric balls and was large enough to wrap around even my buxom frame with plenty to spare. 
It is also nice and long but then again I'm only 5'1" and a quarter (yes putting the quarter in is important when you are this short).  So everything is long on me.  But long is good, that means my feet will be covered and I won't have to worry about contorting under it to stay all toasty.
The material is machine washable.  Since its fleece I will probably wash and recommend washing it with other fleece type items or alone in a small load.  I don't expect any bleeding but I will report if I find any in the full review.

If you're a Wonder Woman fan like me or know someone that is stop by Hot Topic and check this out.  It just might make someone's day or Holiday. *wink wink*

Wonder Woman Comfy Throw with Sleeves retails for $24.99 and is available at Hot Topic both in stores and online at HotTopic.com   Also available in Batman and Harry Potter styles.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Star Wars Sandwich Cutters and Lunchbox by Williams-Sonoma Review


I picked up these sandwich cutters at Williams-Sonoma more for the lunchbox than anything else.  I have a weak spot for lunchboxes so I couldn’t pass up a Star Wars one, especially a replica one with bas-relief lid.  You should have heard the noise of girlish glee that escaped my lips when I found it.

Detailed photo of the lid

I decided to make grilled cheese and tomato basil soup for dinner and figured I would test these cutters out.  Now before I go on I’m not one to buy sandwich cutters.  As I said I was more into the lunchbox.  I find sandwich cutters to be a waste of food and difficult to clean but I digress.

I began by positioning the cutter on the center of the sandwich

I then pressed the cutter all the way through.  Then placed my hand flat on top and wiggled the cutter to ensure it cut all the way through the bottom slice of bread.

Then I carefully removed the bread from around the cutter and carefully pressed the sandwich down as I pulled the cutter up.  The results were nice, but some of the tiny detail parts didn’t seem to cut all the way through.   I had to go back and carefully pull the excess off without ripping the whole sandwich.   I was unsuccessful a few times with this.

Unfortunately making 6 nice neat sandwiches did have its draw backs.

And that was a plate full of leftover bread crusts and cheese.  (I did salvage as many of these as I could and grilled them up in the pan in a sort of grilled cheese fingers configuration.)

Then it was time to cook.  I put some butter into the pan rather than buttering the tops and bottoms.  I found if I buttered before it made the cutter too slick and messy.  If I waited to butter after being cut it made it hard to line up the edges again.  I opted to butter up the pan and commence grilled cheese awesomeness that way.  The sandwiches were nice and small which made flipping them much easier.  As expected there was significant cheese overflow during the cooking process.

The final result was pure grilled cheese heaven in Millennium Falcon and TIE Fighter shaped fabulousness!  Despite some cheesy overflow crunchy goodness the overall shape of the sandwiches was still noticeable, you just had to look closely to find it. 

Would I use these again?  Probably just to get my money out of them but not for grilled cheese.  They are more for a standard bologna and cheese sandwich.  Though I would take care with peanut butter and jelly due to dealing with a mess when you go to remove the cutter from the sandwich.

The lunchbox with 2 sandwich cutters (Millennium Falcon and TIE Fighter shapes) retails at Williams-Sonoma for $19.95.  It’s available both in stores and online at http://www.williams-sonoma.com

Sparkles
Cuts but not sharp.  Cuts all the way through without issue and the edge wasn’t sharp so you can have the kids help you.
Different.  A cute change of pace to Star Wars up your child’s lunch or even your own lunch.
Versatile.  Could also be used as cookie cutters or cut out pizza dough for mini pizzas.
Bonus.  The lunchbox is a really cute collectible item.  I really like the 80s throw back about it.

Sputters
Very wasteful.  I could have constructed 2 more sandwiches out of the waste from the cutouts.
Small in size.  Great for little kid appetites who only eat a half sandwich but not for adult hunger.
Hand wash only.  You are going to have to get meticulous with a rag to get this clean.
Nooks and crannies.  It made pulling the bread out difficult after being cut and will also make cleaning difficult.

Overall: 3 out of 5 Faerie Wings