Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Little Pony Android Game Review

This is my short (ish) and silly review of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Android version game.  I'd heard about the game from a few websites like Equestria Daily, and when the Android version popped up I downloaded it to my Galaxy Tab 7.0.  I've pretty much been playing it since and have gotten up to level 32 at the time I'm writing this.

The first thing that struck me was the fact that they had gathered some of the original voice actors for some of the ponies, I'm assuming all of the mane six, although I haven't gotten Rarity, Fluttershy or Rainbow Dash yet, they even had Spike, Mrs. Cake, Celestia and Nightmare Moon, so I was impressed by that.  Of course, after the initial voices, the rest of the cast pretty much fall off.  However, all of the favorite ponies are there, Lyra, DJ Pon-3, "Time Turner", and Octavia.  Of course, that's only if you can afford them or happen to run into a glitch here or there when you can get them reasonably.

Playing the game is relatively simple, if you follow the missions you pretty much learn how to do everything that you need to play the game.  The rest is pretty much repetition, and as anyone who's played Farmville or Cityville or Cafeworld or any one of those games, it's all about setting things up and gaining money to buy more stuff and expand Ponyville.

What's different about this game from the others I mentioned is that there's a story line and goal to expanding your Ponyville, and also the fact that each pony levels up by playing Mini-games.

The downside to playing a game so early in development is the same as with others I've played in the past, there are glitches.  Sometimes the game will freeze up after a mini-game, sometimes crashing the program.  Other times the game won't refresh and I'll be grumbling that I'd unlocked Fluttershy but it's not actually unlocked until I turn it off and reset it.  Another glitch, which is a big one, is that the social side of things just doesn't work at all.  I've heard of a lot of others who have had this problem, so I know it's pretty extensive.

Then there are fun glitches.  My favorite glitch right now is that even though I don't have ponies in all of my shops, they're still producing stuff and I'm getting coins from them.  Two days ago they had an accidental "sale" for "two days" which turned out to be an hour or so, where a few of us were able to get ponies like Scootaloo for real cheap, so that turned out to be pretty nice.

I'm also enjoying the fact that you have to find Derpy hiding around Ponyville.  She's usually two eyeballs in a box.  When you click her she'll appear for a little while and do a little fluttering around and dancing.  She also has a very unusual expression where she looks all mad for a second...  Not sure what that's about.  Maybe because you aren't paying her enough attention?  ^_^  What's interesting is they always talk about "that pony".  So even in a game where they've got Time Turner (Dr. Whooves) and DJ Pon-3, they still can't acknowledge my favorite pony.

I also have another gripe, or maybe it's done on purpose, but here's a tip if you play the game.  The Flour Mill, Cherry stand and Lemon stand are your money earners.  The rest are HUGE ripoffs in your town.  For now, avoid putting ponies to work in anything else (except maybe the Bookstore and Apple stand as last resorts).  Pile your ponies into the Flour Mill first, especially at the beginning as you're playing because if you're sitting there for a half hour on the game you'll net about $1,500 or so of coins just by clicking on it once a minute.  The Flour Mill with three ponies will get you about 52 coins a minute.  The cherry stand and lemon stand are around 52 coins, then it drops off drastically to 9 or even 5 coins a minute.  The only time you should have ponies in those other businesses is when you'll be away for awhile and then you can collect one big lump sum after logging on a few hours later.  But if you're going to sit there playing, it'll do you a lot of good to avoid those businesses.

I'm kind of hoping they'll fix this flaw eventually (of course at the moment the buildings I have no ponies in are still producing, so I'm not overly worried about it.)  I'm also hoping they'll fix the social aspect so I can actually get some friends besides Celestia.

And...if you want to friend me I'm under "MillyT" on Gameloft....but don't cross your fingers for chests because I can't get to anyone yet.  >_<;

It's still fun, and I'm kind of looking at this game like I'm in Beta Test mode rather than in a finalized version of the game.  I guess if you look at it that way, even a buggy game like this one can be fun.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Autumn Ends

As Autumn comes to an end, I think of all the fun that I had this year.  Especially when it comes to going up to Michigan to visit St. John's and the pumpkin patch by the cider mill there.

I may have written about this before, but if you've never been to Michigan, or at least the Northeast corner of the country, then you've probably been missing out on apple orchards, cider mills, donuts and pumpkin picking, usually all under the same roof, or at least on the same farm.  Growing up where I did, I was exposed early to going out and getting cider and fresh cider, pumpkin, buttermilk and cinnamon sugar donuts.  And then after scarfing down all of that awesome stuff, going out into the chilly, sometimes muddy fields, and searching for that all elusive pumpkin that I had to take home and carve on Halloween.  (Mind you, at least the day before or on Halloween, because if you do it too early it rots and then it's just not pretty by the time the Trick-or-Treaters come up).

This year I went with a friend of mine to the orchards, and with my Mom, of course, since she lives up there.  But my friend Jon and I took the wagon out to the pumpkin patch and took a sharp right over into the far field where none of the others were treading.  This is the best way to go when you're searching for pumpkins.  Nearly all the patches I've ever been to, they'll have the one that's nearly all picked over by the staff and all of the people who have come to the farm, but there'll be one where no one wants to go because to bring the pumpkins back from there will be quite a hall.  However, what's awesome about John's is that they have wagons if you're lucky enough to get them.  So we headed out into, surprisingly, a very weedy field where you really didn't see the pumpkins right away.

However - if you pulled back the tall, dead grass, deep down in it all there were pumpkins.  And not just pumpkins, but squash and gourds too.  It was still a hunt, mind you, because many of these pumpkins weren't set upright like in the more popular field, and some had a bit of frost bite, or maybe a bug bite or two (and one looked like someone's was sort of gross but pretty fascinating).

These hidden gems are what makes coming to a pumpkin patch worth it.  You dig around until you find something golden orange buried, and then you pull it out, brush it off, and try to see if it'll sit up right or if it's been eaten by worms or something stepped on it.

I tend to spend a long time looking at pumpkins, it's just the way I am.  I think I always annoyed my parents with how picky I was, even as a kid, because I always had to look closely at the pumpkin, turn it around and find just that perfect specimen.

However, this year, I decided that the digging was the adventure.  In those tall grasses I found three pumpkins that I just adored, even though they weren't perfect.  They had smooshed sides and long stems and cuts or warts here and there.  And yet, I took them home with me.  They carved into some really nice Jack'o'lanterns too.

But I'm not here to talk about the carving, I'm just talking about a feeling that I get every time I go and drink a half gallon of cider, eat a half dozen donuts and then wear it all off trudging through a farm looking for that golden orange treasure.

And if you've never done it yourself, then next year, when things get a bit cooler and you start thinking about Autumn and Halloween, do yourself a favor and head up North to experience it for yourself.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Twilight's Corner

I've come to realize lately that the kind of person I am is fairly unique to the new century.  Before the year 2000 rolled around, a person who liked to dress up when it wasn't Halloween was looked at as pretty eccentric.  Anime conventions were pretty small, and most people were college age, geeky, pretty lonely folks who were just looking for someone else who had similar interests.  When you went to the mall, or an ordinary store, you didn't see the geeks.  They were dressed like normal people, maybe a bit obvious with glasses or a bit chunky or maybe a bit too skinny...  But then something happened.  I'm not entirely sure what it was that triggered the whole thing, but maybe it was stores like Hot Topic that popped up suddenly.  Or maybe it was the influx of anime and manga into mainstream, but slowly there was this trickle effect.  There were cosplay coats at shopping malls.  You didn't have to buy a little kid's book bag or toys to show off the fact you liked Pokemon or Sailor Moon.

Maybe it was just that the generation I'm in now finally said "Enough!" and somehow we got into power.  Now you see anime, cartoon, video games, you name it, on t-shirts, belts, purses, toys, hats, jewelry...whatever.  They're like badges of honor.  I see them on tattoos and in people who wear cosplay outside of conventions.

Sure, some parents still think it's pretty weird.  But there are second/third generation geeks now that have no problem showing off their geekiness.  And I really don't think that before the year 2000 you'd have seen that.  Maybe it's also because of the internet.  Yes, I'm pretty positive that the internet played a huge part in it, and that's okay if you ask me.

Would I have imagined myself Cosplaying a unicorn when I first headed into college 15 years ago?  Well...maybe for Halloween.  I remember my first unicorn costume was ridiculed.  I found a horn at a costume shop and made up ears and the costume...  I don't have pictures, thank goodness.  ^_^;  But things have changed quite a bit and with the aid of a few purchased items, and a new wardrobe too...  There you go, Twilight Sparkle.  I think I look younger than I am when I'm wearing it, which is okay since I feel young.  Maybe everyone feels younger than they really are since they don't change too much once you get to a certain age.  Unless you want to.

I don't want to.  I just got promoted at work again (well, I will as of Sunday this weekend.)  And yet, here I'm looking forward to hanging out at conventions, cosplaying, and painting ponies.  Am I interested in a bunch of 'adult' things?  Nope.  I clean house, I cook, I do yard work, but they really don't feel "adult" to me.  Maybe I'm just strange.

Today's new project was painting Pumpkin Butt.  She's the pony that looks a lot like Golden Harvest, but I repainted a Pinkie Pie to make her.  I really probably should have repainted an Apple Jack, but I wanted her to look different.

So there's my handmade collection: Derpy, Mitsuki, Punkin' (for short) and Vinyl Scratch (I like that nickname better).

Recently my pony collection has been updated, I just picked up Lyra Heartstrings.  Also got more of the blind bags to include a few of the glow-in-the-dark versions, and a few of the others in Wave 3.  Have a few more to pick up, but it's not too important to me at the moment.  Right now I'm wishing I could win a limited edition pony from HotTopic...  You know the 'unnamed' derpy pony.  ^_^

Back to what I was saying earlier, just 15 years ago it probably would have been odd to see hundreds of people with huge pony collections.  There'd be a few odd older women, maybe a few girls, and that's about it.  Now these collections are actually owned by guys.  I'm very envious of the dozens of them who own Derpy ponies.  *sob*  I got sad this morning, yes, I'm eccentric, I just thought that maybe I could win one.  Actually, I know better, I don't win things.  The last thing I won?  Two tickets for Matchbox Twenty (in the rafters) and then my brother won tickets at the show to go backstage.  I think we used up our luck then.  ^_^

I may have some of my hand painted ponies with me at Tsubasacon in a few weeks.  I'll be there with my Twilight Sparkle on and planning on having a pretty good time.  ^_^

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Hunt Ends for Now

 If you were to ask my mother whether I was one of those kids that made her stand in line at Toys R Us on the first day of some new toy release, I'm pretty sure she'd give you an unusual look because I was never one on popular toys.  There may have been a few scrambles to get stuff last minute, but I think they were usually for toys for my brother rather than me.  Back in the 1980's when I was growing up, Barbie and other electronic devices were the popular thing - there was even a doll who could tell the temperature in a room, whether it was too hot or too cold (although, I have yet to find a mention of that doll again, I very distinctly remember her, probably late 80's, early 90's).

So, when it comes to these fads lately, I'm sort of surprised at myself, because I've been checking TRU every week since they announced the newest MLP:FIM toys were coming out in August.  Oh, there are the sets that first started showing up at Target too, like the Apple family pictured above, the set with Princess Cadence and Shining Armor, and then the Cloudsdale set.  I did a mad search for those, and now I have seen the sets at Target, TRU, and even Kohl's... I said, kind of surprised at myself that I went so far with searching for the Favorites collection this last month.  Seriously, I'm a 30-something with no kids and I'm searching, calling, and even going through unopened boxes in the back aisle at TRU in order to dig out that elusive pony.

I'm a stinkin' manager at a retail store for cryin' out loud, and here I'm getting flutters in my chest for a set of TOYS!

I digress...  I do so love these little buggers which is so odd because it's become a perfectly acceptable (if sometimes creepy) fandom that just a couple of years ago would have sent me into the 'creepy lady playing with kid's toys' category.

Just a few years back people used to roll their eyes at me when I said that I still had the ponies from the 80's when I was a kid, still have every single one of them, and I was pretty proud of that too.  And then all of a sudden it's cool to collect them again.  I've even considered trying to sell a couple of my old set just because I know some of them are pretty darn rare and I could get a nice amount of money off of them.

But... it's hard to do that, especially when the collection as been growing.

In a nutshell (I'm a nut, afterall) about two weeks ago I started my TRU hunt.  Nothing for a good week, then the very next week I happened into TRU right after they'd received a truck and all of the pallets were sitting in the back aisle.  With heart pounding, I happened to dig out a Zecora and took it home with me.  As you can see, she's still in the package, and a week later the rest of the box still happens to be at that TRU, still, amazingly, unsold.

When I returned, on a whim, just yesterday, I happened to find the Favorites collection (and there were three more left!) and whipped it into my arms and went home with it too.  ^_^

So, for now, except for the fact that I'd like to get my hands on some of the blind bags that are roaming around out there, my hunt has ended.  I still have a few ponies here and there I'd like to get my hands on in order to do some customizations, but otherwise I'm satisfied.  I'm also crazy, but I'm perfectly fine with that.

And it's funny because no one looks at me weird when I know about ponies.  In fact, today at work I was ringing up a customer who was buying some things for a costume for her daughter.  "What are you making?" I asked.  To which she replied, "I My Little Pony costume."  I looked at what she was buying and replied, "Rainbow Dash?"  She looked genuinely surprised and said, "Yes, she said she wanted to be the 'hero pony' and I said, Rainbow Dash you mean?  And she said yes and said I could be Pinkie Pie."  I smiled and told her that I was dressing up as Twilight Sparkle and she just nodded.  Never once did I say I had a kid telling me I had to dress up was just accepted.  ^_^  I don't even think she was a brony, just a mother trying to go along with her young daughter's wishes.  It made me feel happy because I wasn't looked at like I was a crazy.

Speaking of which, this is the dress that I've put together for my Twilight Sparkle costume.  If you're into fashion at all you might wonder why someone would take a perfectly good Alfred Angelo bridesmaid dress and paint it for a costume...well, it's been sitting in the closet since my friend got married and it's a good color, so that's why.  ^_^

I also have a wig, horn and ears to wear, as well as some nice sparkly jewelry to round out the whole thing.  I'll be wearing this particular costume for the Masquerade ball that we're holding at Tsubasacon this year, so I'm looking forward to dressing up all pretty like in an actual dress.

And it's cosplay.

And it's My Little Pony...

And I'm kind of crazy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

King and I

As I kid I grew up in Flint, Michigan.

I know.  Can you believe I totally survived that?

Michigan really wasn't all that bad of a place to grow up in the 80's because at the time the car factories were still pretty much in full swing.  Most people worked there, the rest worked in restaurants and shopping centers to supply the ever-growing demand and supply the pretty darn rich factory workers with whatever their hearts desired.  I remember quite a few of my friends had pretty nice houses if they had a dad who worked in one of the factories.

It was when those car factories started pulling out of Michigan and moving elsewhere that things went downhill quickly.  I've seen the rapid decline from a bustling, happy, growing area into a falling down businesses closing and moving out area.  In fact, only since I've been out of High School which was, gasp, 15 years ago.

But I'm going to talk about the happier times of Flint, because those are the times I remember the best.  Besides, it was just some stupid little salad I was making the other day that reminded me of a buffet near my house called the "King and I" - I'm not sure if there was a "the" in the title of the restaurant or not.  But it was on Miller Rd, pretty much at the edge between Flint Township and Swartz Creek in front of one of those many factories I was talking about just a minute ago.

When I was growing up, it was a pretty special occasion to go to the King and I.  We went only after church usually, and that meant dressing up.  I don't remember seeing anyone there wearing jeans (at least not until it moved over to it's second location later on in life).  Well, there are only three things I remember about the place, and that's probably because I was young then, pre-teen at the latest before the whole thing closed down.  But they had this really great fried chicken.  They also had the best freezer cheesecake and coconut creme pie.  And they also had grapes in whipped creme.

Ah the grapes.  Nothing like a giant purple or black grape, hidden in layers of fluffy whipped creme.  It was on the salad bar, so I always assumed they considered it a 'salad' rather than a dessert.  You'd scoop up this big spoonful of white fluff, and then take it back to your table and commence chasing fluffy grapes around the plate with a fork until you managed to actually stab one and bring it to your mouth.  And then the smooth whipped creme and the tart grape underneath it all...oooh heaven!

You don't see this on salad bars nowadays, although I'm rather surprised at that.  It's actually quite a brilliant fattening thing and so extremely simple to make.  Whipped creme + grapes = heaven.

I was thinking about this while making up a Waldorf salad the other day.  I'm not exactly a purist, so if you ever look up a recipe for Waldorf there'll be walnuts - I don't do that, I'm strictly grapes, apples, iceburg lettuce, miracle whip and a bit of sugar.  You'll probably find a recipe with walnuts, raisins maybe, perhaps mayonnaise or some other sweet dressing.

But the big ol' grapes I used for my salad reminded me of the King and I.

Later in it's life the King and I moved across town, I think closer to Grand Blanc (if not in Grand Blanc) near Dort and Hill Rds.  It stayed open for a handful of years before closing and the restaurant turning into a Damon's sports bar/rib joint place.  The original building turned into a place called O'Toole's which had some terrific homemade pies and my Mom's favorite club sandwich which was actually a Roast Beef Club.  Can't find a club sandwich anywhere else that has roast beef, lettuce, tomato, bacon and American cheese all in one sandwich.  But they had it.  They also had a big ol' 1/2lb. O'Toole burger that my brother and I would get from time to time.

That restaurant closed down a few years ago as well during the "Great Recession" of the 2000's.  Many small businesses took a pretty big hit from that recession. I saw a huge change in Flint after that period of time as well.  There had been some re-growth going on in the Miller Rd. area where even though quite a few chains were pulling out, smaller family run businesses moved into their vacancies.  But heck, when a restaurant like Sonic goes under after just a few years, it's a miracle anything survived there.

However...they were just a block away from the family-run Fuddruckers right up the street.  How could Sonic compare to them?  Fuddruckers is owned and operated by the Andrews family.  Mr. Andrews, his wife and at least one of his sons works there.  When nearly all of the Northern Fuddruckers closed down, his has remained open, still producing the fresh buns, fresh ground beef, the gooey cookies, lovely hand-make milk shakes...yum.  I'm drooling just thinking about it.

Every trip back home brings me back to the restaurants and tastes of my childhood and the simple recipes that kept our bellies filled in times of happiness and times of depression.  Maybe you've only heard rumors of places in Michigan, but if you happen up past I-75 through Flint, take a stop over at Miller Rd. and check out some of the small family restaurants, get a giant burger at Fuddruckers, or get a coney dog at one of the handful of Coney Islands around Flint.  (I'd recommend going to Palace Coney Island inside the Genessee Valley Center, they have the best)  And maybe you'll see a bit of the Flint that I knew growing up too.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Guest Room

I like having guests over.  For short periods of time it's nice to have someone over from out of state, particularly my Mom or my In-Laws since we both moved away from our parents when we were married.  I had a friend who recommended it because it gave us an opportunity to learn what it would be like to depend on each other rather than our families, and for the last five years that we've lived away from our parents, I'd like to think we've become pretty independent.

However, I think as with all parents, they'd like us to be just a bit more dependent upon them.  I know my Mom would like me to call her every day, and my husband's parents would like to stay for longer periods of time at our house than we've allowed them in the past.  There's only one problem with that, of course, which was space.

It was pretty cramped when we had them over at our apartment when we only had two bedrooms and one of them was our bedroom, and the other a computer room.  When we moved into our current home, we picked up a spare room which was to be the spare room as well as a place where we could watch movies and read books.  Instead of becoming a spare guest room, however, it became a craft/hobby/library room where there wasn't a free wall to stick a bed up against.

Fast forward a year and my In-Laws finally broke down willing to pay for a bed for the room, so we suddenly had a quandary: where do we put the spare guest bed?

My husband started thinking it over, because even though my own mother would like a bed, she wasn't pushing for it (she understands how money can be and has a worse time of it than me) but his parents were the ones wanting to be here for a week at a time since they are retired now (unlike my mom, who happens to be older).

One Sunday evening after he visited me at work, my husband packed up his computer desk and moved out of the computer room.  I came home to a big ol' empty spot in the computer room and his desk and chair and computer down in the basement.  Mind you, we don't have a finished basement or we probably would have had it down there in the first place, but we did buy a carpet for down there so we could set up a projection screen and play DDR (that's a story for another time).

By the next week we'd ordered the bed and by that weekend I was scrambling to get my computer desk moved into the library (where I sit now as I type this) and the room cleaned up and trim painted, ready for the bed to be moved in.  We went out and bought new bedding since I had originally intended to use my old bedding that would fit it better...but decided that I didn't like the colors too well.  Found this set on clearance at B,B&Beyond and fell in love with it.  Almost would use it for my own bedroom if it hadn't been white (I will NOT put white on my bed...)  Then we took an afternoon off of work to go to IKEA and picked up curtains (which I still need to hem up, but I've been lazy) and  a small desk that I could put a TV on and possibly hook up a few gaming systems - mainly for my Wii Fit so I could still exercise.

There's my cats enjoying the new set up.  Olivia (the gray) tends to hide under the bed, she likes to sleep there and freak my husband out.  He calls for her time and time again and when she doesn't answer for a long period of time he starts to think she got out and has gotten herself hurt.  She's pretty stubborn about coming to her name.  Mina on the other hand, doesn't spend much time at all in that room by herself, rather she likes to be wherever her humans are.

The photo above is where my husband's computer used to be, and the one to the right up above is where mine used to be.  No, that's not my computer desk, that was a cheap $20 IKEA desk I bought just for the TV, but ended up nearly destroying because - NEVER BUY CHEAP IKEA - it'll just break on you.  The more expensive stuff is the good stuff.  I broke two beams on the thing and if it weren't for extra stabilizing beams on the chair I probably would have thrown that $20 down the drain with the desk itself.

Meanwhile outside...the gardens are doing okay but because of the drought my grass is dead.  My husband and I have gotten to the point where we're allowing our weeds to grow because that's the only thing growing out in the yard.  We have really pretty queen anne's lace and chickory and various asters.  I wonder what our neighbors think when they see all of our wildflowers?  Ah well, it's too ugly to take a picture of, so I'm not going to bother showing you...instead I'm concentrating on inside.  It's cooler in here anyway.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Feelin' a Little Derpy

 Some days I think everyone feels a little "Derpy" - a little weird, a little crazy, a little "I just don't know what went wrong."    I can't say that today necessarily was a day like that, but I had one of those days last week when I was trying to explain something to someone at work.

In reality, what I had said was wrong, but for some reason I couldn't spit it out and said, "No, I'm right and you're wrong, I mean, you're wrong and I'm're wrong...I'm, no, I mean...ARGGGG!  You're right...ah, FINALLY!"  Heh heh heh.  The co-worker I said this to I think got a kick out of it, but I felt rather bad because I just couldn't say what I meant!

So, as I said, everyone has a "Derpy" day.

This morning I got up and it's a beautiful day.  I haven't had a day off in a week, so it's especially nice to open up the house and just enjoy the beautiful weather, the breeze, the birds singing...well, you get the point.  I spent a little time this morning forming "the plan" for today.

Then I thew that out the window and went over to Walmart to pick up a blind bag pony in which to paint as Derpy Hooves.  It used to be quite simple to pick up every single one of the ponies in the set (see one of my previous blogs for more info).  However, today when I went the numbering system had mysteriously disappeared and I had to resort to feeling the packaging until I got a pegasus.  Luckily they are the only really easy ones to feel because they have the extra appendages and somehow I ended up with Fluttershy.

After picking up a Venti mocha with a shot of coconut from Starbucks, I headed on home, did something on my original plan which was remove the rest of the caulk from around the tub in my second bathroom (just a small piece of advice from me to you, if you don't have someone to clean your bathrooms with you or for you and you're looking for a house, get 1 1/2 baths, NOT 2 1/2 baths... two tubs is one too many).

Then after a good clean down of the tub (gotta get all that nasty mold/mildew out from behind the old caulk you know) I started on my Derpy Repaint.  It was hard at first to paint over Fluttershy since she's tied for first as Best Pony...but I already have two Fluttershy minis, so I got over it pretty quick.

As I worked on painting Derpy today, I was thinking about the fact that there are so many people who do custom jobs of ponies.  They make characters from the series (like Derpy) and they also make lots of OCs (original characters).  They make fanfiction characters and self-portrait ponies.  As I was painting Derpy I realized I really don't have a self-portrait pony myself because I think I'd probably be cutie-mark-less.  And, quite frankly, that's kind of boring.

But another reason there are so many custom ponies I think, and I've seen table-top gaming figures turned into ponies (like Warhammer 40K figures) is that many of the fans of the series are gamers, otaku and sci-fi geeks who are all into being creative.  What little I know about painting in miniature, I learned from painting 40K figures back in the day myself.  Of course, I also know that how I've been doing them isn't nearly as high-quality as I used to do with my 40K figures because the paint was much higher quality and I think if I were to start doing custom paint jobs for anyone but myself (and I would consider it) I'd probably go buy model paint instead of craft paint.

Derpy took a couple hours to do, including dry-time.  Basically I covered her in a couple of layers of gray, then colored her mane and tail in quite a few layers of light yellow, then painted her eyes white (which were surprisingly easier to paint than I'd thought they'd be) and did the yellow, black and white outlines, then finished off with her bubble cutie mark.  Put on a clear varnish which, unfortunately, made her look more lumpy than I would have liked...guess I should have just put a spray varnish on her, but I was afraid she'd drip if I'd do that.  Overall though, seeing as though she's only around 2 inches tall, I think I did a pretty good job on this repaint.  I didn't even paint Celestia's eyes when I did her, so this is a step up.

And now...I guess I should go back and work on my list of things to do...which means getting back to caulking.  ^_^;  It's such a nice day though that I might just wait on that for awhile longer...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Small Gardens you Can Grow at Home

I've often thought of my yard as a handful of individual mini-gardens.  Each little ecosystem is living in it's own balance and a carefully planned garden can be beautiful all on its own.  You can make these mini-gardens wherever you are, whether you have a lawn to plant or maybe a patio at an apartment, or perhaps you're into inside gardening.  Wherever you'd like to plant your gardens, there's a size and configuration to suit any need and green thumb talent.

Today I'm going to discuss three different gardens that I have in my lawn (I have more, but these are my features for today).

To the right above is my "Peony Garden".  The peonies, strangely enough, were pre-existing when I moved to this house.  They were the only flowers, besides one sad little dianthus and some flowering bushes.  Whoever owned the house before us either didn't like gardens at all, or took everything they could move with them (or had a lot of perennial stuff that died).

As you can see, my peony garden was pretty darn ugly when I first moved in. I was actually surprised when the first sprouts of the peonies came up because I wasn't sure anything was in the garden.  But spring turned into summer and with the first signs of the peonies I started planting other plants.  The right side is lined with chrysanthemums which are also a purple/pink hue and will probably start blooming in another couple of months.

Small stems around the front are irises I planted this year, not sure what they'll look like, I haven't seen them bloom yet.  Behind them are petunias, behind the peonies are snapdragons and a lilac bush.  You can't see the lilac, it's tiny...but eventually I think I might have a taller bush to tower over the peonies.

This garden actually mostly takes care of itself.  Peonies up and bloom and then I'll cut the dead blooms off and they'll be pretty bushes through most of the summer.  The petunias will fill out and the mums will bloom from summer through fall provided you trim the blooms off as they die.  I could avoid any yearly planting if I put in some other kind of annual, but I like the look and smell of the petunias.

The second garden is my geranium potted garden on my porch.  These geraniums (which seen here and merely getting really poofy green with leaves and will start blooming in another week or two, some blossoms are already forming) are mostly 2-5 years old.  (The one on the far right is a trimming from older plants).  I take geraniums inside in the winter and they go into something of a really ugly stasis for the few months of cold, but really perk up with warm weather and sunshine, a bit of Miracle Grow and water.  I actually had more luck when I had a Southern facing window when I lived in an apartment and I could get them to bloom during Christmas indoors.

I'd recommend geraniums to anyone who is a bit leery of gardens in general.  Buy a red geranium.  I say this because the fancy ones tend to die quicker or if you aren't using the same fertilizer that the greenhouse used they tend to change color toward a red anyway (I had a bi-color that's now solid pink and deep magenta also turned red).  Buy a slightly bigger pot than it originally came in, and have fun with colors, especially if you're going to bring it in you'll want something pretty to look at when the plant goes into its winter 'ugly' stage.  Buy a small box of Miracle Grow - it's not that expensive if you buy a "sample" box and with geraniums you'll only need to use the small scoop side once a month while you're watering it.

And DON'T over-water a geranium.  It'll start getting ugly after not being watered for a month, but normally they won't die, they just kind of go into stasis. (Above is an example of the ugly phase, but this is a five year old geranium I haven't trimmed up yet).  Make sure the dirt is dry before you water it again.  If it's wet, it's still happy.  If you can remember to water it once a week, you're doing good.  The blooms will come out and the leaves will fill out with enough regular sun, water, and fertilizer ready for the next summer.  As leaves die off and flowers wilt, pull off dead and trim off extra long branches and root them in a glass of water (like a potato) and you can make a new plant too.

Lastly is my Cat Garden.  This garden is actually about 3 by 2 foot (smaller than a poster).  If you've got just a tiny footprint by an apartment, or maybe a tiny box, you can plant a garden like this one.  It's just a mix of a few different perennials and annuals.  Putting a focal point in like a garden sculpture is often a fun way to add something special to your garden.

I'm usually pretty careful about putting too much 'junk' in a garden.  I have some neighbors who have every spinning thing they can think of, or another that uses white pots that completely cover their lawn!  (I need to get a photo of it this year, it's pretty crazy).  Others use a ton of garden gnomes, or other decorations they leave out all year.  Don't!  If you've going to decorate your gardens with accessories, don't go overboard.  I tend to think you should make sure your item isn't too big, usually a neutral color of some sort, and make sure you take it inside during the winter or it'll look like you're just being lazy (unless you live in a warm climate and can have a garden all year long, then do whatever you want!)

My cat garden consists of the evergreen bush (it stands maybe 2 1/2 foot tall) which apparently needs a trim now that I'm looking at it.  Also three corabells, hens and chicks and a couple petunias (yes, again with the petunias).  I lucked out actually, none of the petunias were blooming when I planted them and the pinks match the corabells nicely.  Make sure you make a nice balance - taller objects in the back (the corabells will get bigger with age and they spike up nicely) and the hens and chicks will stay small and grow across the ground.  The petunias are the only annual and I've considered replacing them with a primrose which would also provide bright colors at least in the spring.

I hope you'll give small gardens a try!  I hope these little pictures inspired you to do some gardening of your own!  Enjoy!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Planting Trees (Things to Keep in Mind)

The world is a better places with trees in it.  Or, rather, on it.  We've all heard the speeches, celebrated Arbor Day and Earth Day by planting a new tree, and it's not a surprise to us because we know plants keep the soil in check, make the oxygen we breathe, supply the pulp to make the paper we use every day, provide shade for our yards, homes for animals...well, you get the idea!

This blog is NOT about that.  This blog, rather, is about how flippin' ugly my yard looked before I planted trees.  Mind you, there were two trees planted between the sidewalk and street since this is one of those 'HOA' neighborhoods, but they really don't produce much shade and I have yet to see a bird nesting in either the white maple or the ginkgo along the side.

Sure, as you can see from the picture, there were a few bushes out front, (and if you look really closely you'll see the tiny little red Japanese maple I planted in front of the porch, but that was only a week or so difference from when I planted the pine.) but overall the yard was one big sparse lot of ugly patchy grass (as you can also see from the photo).

Almost the very first week after we moved in my mother bought us a little Redbud tree.  It's out in the backyard, looked pretty darn sketchy for the first whole summer, lost nearly all of it's leaves and we were worried it would die over the winter.  It looked like this when it bloomed, and now has a bunch of pretty little heart shaped leaves.  I think it spent most of last summer laying in roots.  It even produced seed pods, which my mother's tree I planted over 10 years ago didn't want to do until at least it was 5 years in the ground.

The second tree to go in was the Colorado Spruce that you see in the photo above.  My mother bought this one for us also, picked it out at Lowe's and immediately planted it.  A few weeks later I went to a nearby garden center (Strader's) where I bought the Japanese Maple.  It's been off and on sketchy last year (the leaves went from red to green) and this year it's sort of droopy, we're thinking because of the early spring and various frosts which I'll probably need to watch it in the next years to make sure I cover it during frosts later on.  You can see a picture of it in my post about landscaping.

And finally, the newest arrivals to my household are two beautiful little Blue Spruces.  You can see them to the right of the Colorado.

Now I get to the real reason for this blog.  You need to know your pine trees.  I haven't had one problem around the Colorado since I bought it, that includes trimming the grass around it and mulching around it.  I really didn't think I'd have a problem with two little blue trees either.

In fact, when I went to the store to buy them, I picked them up, put them in my shopping cart, and got so many complements as I finished doing the rest of my shopping that I was starting to worry someone might stalk me out to my car and take them (a lady at the register threatened!)

That afternoon I bought planting soil, mulch, and went out in the chilly air that day and dug my holes and planted the trees, looking at how much better the yard will be when we have nice tall trees.  Well, I actually had another reason for planting them where I did...we had neighborhood kids playing football up and down our side lawn and they were killing our grass.  Not only that but the side of our house is pretty butt-ugly.  You'd think they'd put at least one extra window on the side, but NO!

Later that evening a rash started to break out along my hands and up my arms.  Come to find out, certain people are actually allergic to pine tree sap, and maybe also to their needles.  I found this out the hard way of course, and had to suffer with nasty little water-blister bumps along my arms for a few days until they finally settled down after enough medicine was applied.

So.... the reason for this blog is to really keep in mind what trees you're planting, and are you allergic to them?  If so...don't plant them!  Plant what you know - did you have maples in your yard growing up?  Then go with that.  Go with what you know.  I was never around pine trees more than for a little while here and there at my aunt's house, (none of my other relatives had pines) so I never got to find out the hard way.

But DO plant trees.  These new subdivision things that are popping up everywhere take out every single mature and beautiful tree, plow them down, plant boring trees out by the curb and leave everything else so barren that I'm afraid one day the neighborhood will be taken out by a tornado just because there's nothing to block the wind!  And don't get me started on noise...nothing is blocked without a nice wall of trees!

So there's my tree-hugger speech for the day.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 30, 2012

After Anime Central 2012

I'm glad that my husband and I got to go to Anime Central.  I say this because at this convention there are so many people there that we aren't the oldest in the bunch.  In fact, there's some who are quite a bit older and have been attending quite a bit longer than we'll ever hope to dream about.  However, on the flip side, it made me remember old times when I used to have quite a few more friends and acquaintances to meet up with.

It's weird, if you think about the scenario, because back in 2003, which I think was the first year I went to Anime Central, I had quite a few friends to meet up with.  I didn't have many internet friends, I didn't have MySpace or Facebook at the time, so there was no asking a friend on their wall and asking 'you going to the convention'?  You either saw them there, or you didn't, or maybe you dropped them an email if you had one, or you talked to them either in person or on the phone.

I used to hang out with friends at conventions, I used to have three-day weekend crushes on guys there, I used to flirt with other cosplayers, I used to get glomped, stopped, hugged, photographed and over-all just had a good time and met new people.

This year, with Facebook, I thought, 'oh, there shouldn't be a problem with me finding some of my old buddies.'  So I messaged them.  Nothing.  Completely ignored.  I can see my posting on their wall and see absolutely NO responses from them.  Thanks for all the fish....NOT.

Well, I was still hopeful, so I went in search of all of those friends, took time out of my schedule to search panels, vendors, alleys and wherever else I thought I might find some of my old hook ups.  Some I found, and I did find the majority of them, were polite and talked to me briefly, but I knew they were thinking about something else, not talking to an old friend they hadn't seen in awhile.  Others gave me the complete brush off.  Talk about disappointing!

This time around I didn't make any new contacts.  I was just too bummed by the ones who had gone on with their lives.  I understand that life happens, but this was the weekend of seeing old friends, making new ones and in general talking to people who have similar interests as yourself.

And basically, I'm too afraid any more to make new friends.  Which of course, leaves me in the awkward position of complaining about not having friends, but also unwilling to make new friends who will in turn lead me down this grump about feeling abandoned and betrayed.

All of this begs the question, why do I like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic so much if I am having such a hard time finding friends?  I like Twilight Sparkle.  I'm basically her, growing up over the years, having one friend (not my BBBF - big brother best friend, but my LBBF - little brother best friend) with a few others here and there, but suddenly I've found myself with only a small handful of friends and too busy, and quite frankly, more than a little scared, to make new ones.  And I don't have a Pinkie Pie, or Apple Jack, or any of those others who pop over and say, "hey, want to be my friend?"

I did have that from time to time... a few friends helped me out along the way, and as I think back, I'm not sure I've ever made a friend all by myself....  Which, is really kind of pathetic.

Ah well, enough, I'm just writing this for myself anyway.  I just wanted to get it down while I was in the mood and felt like writing something.


We ate some really, truly, righteous food this weekend.  Sweet Baby Rays BBQ on Thursday night.  On Friday some really strange vegetarian sandwich I'm actually thinking of eating more veggie stuff from now on (but then also had an AWESOME BLT that day too).  Then on Saturday we had Giodorno's (sp) stuffed pizza which is like a Chicago deep dish only with TWO crusts.  Then on Sunday we had the best Ramen I've ever had at this Japanese market...the best bread there too...oh my gosh do they make anpan there like pros, it's like being in Japan without ever setting foot there.  And then Triple XXX Family Diner: rootbeer and burgers in the very first drive-in in Indiana near Purdue University (my first DDD Guy Fieri restaurant).  Never lets you down, always fills you up!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Landscaping Practice

So, here is my house.  It's one of those cookie-cutter houses that you see just about everywhere nowadays because the companies that build them have a handful of designs to choose from, and even though there are subtle differences between them, overall they just look the same.  I was attracted to our house...why?  I can't even quite remember why because when we were first looking at the place it was pretty pathetic, as you can see from the photo.  Besides a few online photos, this is what I saw the very first day we were looking at houses.  Bare bones, pretty ugly.

But even when I lived in an apartment, thankfully we had a ground-floor patio and there was just a tiny patch of land to plant stuff.  I was pretty happy with it really, because I could put a few veggies out there, a couple flowers, and it was my garden.

So, you can be rest-assured that when we moved into our new house I was pretty stoked about having a huge yard to do stuff in.  The first plants that went in were a few bulbs from the apartment that I had pulled up, as well as a six-pack of mums that I had bought just that previous fall.  All of the geraniums that I keep indoors during the winter, they all were packed up and came with me as well.  Then, I did all of the inside stuff for a good month until I was pleased and we had moved in and it warmed up enough to actually start the process of getting the outside looking at good as the inside.

First step, getting some stones in order to raise up the garden around the porch. There was one plant left in that poor little garden, which I later found out was a dianthus when it finally started blooming after a lot of water and Miracle Grow.  The only other plants left in the yard were a large lilac bush (of the miniature variety), three spirea, two peonies (which magically popped up in a bare patch to the side of the house) and one huge viburnum which has become something of a bane to me because it never stops growing and I have to constantly trim it during the summer.  But during the spring it has the prettiest smelling flowers.  (Oh, and some golden evergreen-shrubs that you can't see very well, they're just a hint of color).

Later that summer I added the stones to the garden, a second level closer to the fall, the mums love that front garden.  Planted a few other bushes, pansies and later petunias.  Put in a red Japanese maple, and the house started to look a wee bit better than it's winter counterpart (but of course they always do).  However, we're still having grass problems as you can see in the picture above, and in subsequent pictures too.

 Fast forward to this spring.  As I mentioned about the grass...we've got a lot of bad patches still (enough that a Scott's guy knocked one day after walking by and gave us some info...heh heh...urg).  Anyway, in the fall I trimmed out the lilac up front for a more square shape, added that second row of stones up front as I mentioned, and planted tulip and daffodil bulbs.  The tulips can be seen in the right garden.  They turned out to be a really pretty mix of fancy bulbs, some multiple rowed, some variegated, some frilly, and all either purple, white or maroon.

I digress.  So, at the time when I planted the Japanese maple I'd been thinking about continuing the garden out around the front of the sidewalk leading up to the front porch.  After a couple of co-workers first brought me a bunch of plants, and then another loaning me a tiller to work on my garden out back, I thought it was time to finally start work on a little more landscaping.

The result after about 5 hours of tilling, weeding, digging, planting, stone-laying, etc... is what you see here.  I came home after an eight-hour shift at work and started going at it before dinner, took a dinner break, ran to Home Depot to buy some edging stones (at the awesome price of like 36 cents a piece) and finished up at dusk.

The idea was to have a pretty cohesive garden that wraps around the front of the house.  The new plants that went in this year were two yellow/red spirea (which are supposed to bloom red, so I'm looking forward to seeing bloom alongside the larger pink spirea).  A couple of corabells that my friend gave me, and a dozen snapdragons of various colors because I've been in the mood for snapdragons this year for some reason.

 Here's a bit of a closeup of the garden itself.  I still have to mulch it, which probably won't happen for a few more days since it's threatening to rain now (although I took these photos first thing this morning it's gotten pretty windy and dark out as I write this blog).  I think the reds from the tree, the tips of the spirea and the corabells give a nice accent to the otherwise green flowerbeds.

Eventually I'll probably straighten out the line of the flowerbed so it doesn't do the funny little curve out around the tree, but since I have a bunch of curves around the yard like this already it softens up the very squared off appearance of the house itself.

As you follow the curve around the spirea and lilac, you can see the golden evergreen bushes, the tulips, and the viburnum.  (You can't see it but to the left there's a purple azalea hiding by the porch) and a recent addition is also the purple creeping phlox that I was given by a friend (and added to a bit with the help of a gift card from Home Depot).

It all needs to still be mulched, mowed, trimmed, etc.  But I think the overall appearance is appealing.  And what I think is the coolest thing is it cost less than a $100 for the majority of it all.  Can't ask a landscaper to do it that inexpensively!

Ah...I guess I need to wrap this up and close up everything...the storm is rolling in faster than anticipated.  Please look forward to seeing more photos of the garden as it progresses and fills out this summer!

Monday, April 9, 2012

On Baking Challah Bread

This is what came of my first attempt at challah bread.

A few months back I heard about the Jewish bread while watching Unwrapped and thought, "that stuff looks pretty tasty" and I came to find it pre-made at one of the local bakeries in my favorite grocery store.  It was soooo yummy!  I think you could easily compare the taste to Hawaiin sweet bread since it had that really light, fluffy consistency, you could just pull chunks off of it and eat it without any butter or anything (although cinnamon butter tasted pretty good too).

A month or so later I found a magazine that had the recipe for it.  It's the Fine Living Breads issue, and after a bunch of hoopla to get my hands on it (a coworker offered to buy it for me as she bought hers with a coupon and it took an extra week to get payment and my magazine in my hands) and another week or so before I tried a recipe out of it.  The delay was caused mostly by the chocolate issue that followed after it and I tried two recipes out of that one as well as Alton Brown's homemade gourmet ice cream (which, by the way, the chocolate is every bit as good as anything you've ever tasted...unless you've had Jeni's and then maybe it's a bit weak on the chocolate side, but her ice cream is crazy rich).

Anyway, after dithering over the bread making thing my mother-in-law took me into the kitchen the last time I visited and taught me how to make cinnamon rolls using the Kitchen Aid mixer.  Thank goodness because even though I had made a recipe of bread with it since I got it for Christmas, I hadn't tried anything that turned out to taste really good.  Those cinnamon rolls however, were pretty darn tasty.  Good enough in fact, that a week or so later I made a large batch of dinner rolls which we're still eating on out of the freezer.

So, with cinnamon rolls, bread rolls, and a kind-of-okay loaf bread out of the way I thought "It's time to try something a bit more difficult".  And with Easter Sunday off, it was the perfect time to try this Jewish treat.

But... the house was too cold, and I forgot to rise the dough in a warmed oven, so it rose too slowly.  Then I warmed up the oven too much and ended up killing some of the yeast (I'm pretty sure).  But the dough stretched good and it braided just fine, as you can see from the picture.  It browned a bit fast, but the recipe warned me so I did as told and covered it with foil and then waited to see how pretty it was.

It looked beautiful and the house smelled terrific.  It had to be good, something that looked this good, right?


I over-baked it.  The recipe warned about under-baking so I never once thought that maybe the timer would be too long.  It was also dense, dry, not nearly as sweet as the store-bought loaf and didn't pull apart...nope.  Had to use a knife.

Thought to myself, "Maybe it'll be better the next day."


Still dry, maybe more so, even after being placed in a Ziplock bag overnight.


Bread pudding.  First attempt.

This is the first time I've ever tried to make homemade bread pudding, and usually it tastes better when you make it with cinnamon rolls (the best I've ever had was made from a cinnamon sticky bun that was bought from a restaurant called Gracie's Country Inn up in Michigan - they would have it on their buffet from time to time).  But this turned out to be a close second, but for the fact I must not have beat the eggs and milk completely because there were a few chewy portions of egg.

The problem I found, soon afterwards, was that I didn't have a good vanilla sauce recipe.  I wanted something that tasted like those sauces I had as a kid at Gracie's and heck, even like my mom made, but most of the sauces that looked right online had ingredients I didn't have at home.  I ran out of eggs doing this and don't keep whipping cream or whole milk on hand.

The solution?  A mix of different recipes I found online, which basically came down to a cup of 1% milk (which I do have), 2 tablespoons of margarine (again, no real butter) a tablespoon (plus some) of cornstarch, 4 tablespoons of white sugar, another 2-3 of brown sugar, and then stirred and stirred and stirred on low, then let boil and it thickened up and I added a teaspoon of vanilla extract.  Voila!  So yummy!  Oh, and for the record, I was dumping by this point so most of the ingredients are estimates at best....heh, kind of lucky it worked out really.

So..... what have I learned about bread making?

Challah bread should have plenty of time to rise and become really fluffy - and sweeter, I think there should be more honey in it than my recipe called for.  And in the future I'll probably just buy it...  And as for bread pudding...ah heck, it tastes GREAT with enough sauce on it so who can complain?  Oh, some people I'm sure, I don't put in raisins as you may have noticed, but that's a personal choice since I'm not a big fan.

I hope you like my little bread story.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Flower Photography

Ever since I received my very first camera, I have found myself drawn to taking photos of flowers.  Of course, back in the day with my little Polaroid in hand, I didn't really have clear photos of them, nor did they look very photogenic when the picture developed after minutes of redundant shaking of said Polaroids.

I was in my early teens when I started a garden of my own in the old sandbox that neither my brother nor I used any more.  My mom allowed me to start my own pansies in a starter set and I watched those little seedlings take sprout and watched all summer as eventually they blossomed and I was able to see all of those beautiful little faces 'look' up at me.  I was hooked on pansies after that and also forget-me-nots because I grew those too...although they didn't bloom nearly as prolific, and they were too small to take good photos of at the time.

At my mom's house there still exists a scrapbook of the first photos of that garden and even a few pressed flowers from that first crop of pansies.  Ever since I've either grown pansies or planted them (they're a lot easier to buy pre-grown of course, though more expensive) and I've had a penchant for taking pictures throughout the season.  Pansies are an unusual flower as they tend to only thrive during the early spring and late fall.  I kept my fall planting through January and probably would have managed to keep more than the handful I still have alive had the aphids not killed them after I brought the pots indoors.  (Apparently bugs are dormant in the winter and they woke right up and started munching once they got inside.  I blame myself, those pansies were doing good in the very mild winter we were having except for a few frosts that provoked me to bring them inside again.)

Later in life I found myself drawn to all sorts of flowers, including the beautiful Redbud tree which my mom agreed to buy after she cut down the apple tree that was in her backyard when she refused to rake apples anymore and decided that my brother and I wouldn't either.  She resorted to cutting it down the moment someone knocked at her door asking if she had any trees she wanted taken care of, even though it had been the center of my childhood summers, climbing, adventuring, swinging beneath on the swing set... well, you get the idea.

The photo above is actually my second Redbud, this one I planted the first week we moved into our new house (you can see our rickety back porch in the photo).  At the time this photo was taken, it was just about to bloom early again (last year it had bloomed early when I bought it, nearly three weeks before other planted ones) but this year because of the ridiculously warm winter.

The pansy you see to the right here is actually one of the winter survivors.  I'm very proud of my pansies, you see.  I strive to keep them alive as long as possible throughout the year and many summers I can keep them alive until they start a second growth in the fall.  This fellow might actually have been part of the previous spring planting, but I can't be sure because it was buried by the chrysanthemum I brought from my apartment when I moved.  (Those are the leaves you see around the pansy.)  I may have planted them both nearly around the same time and because of the protection of the leaves the pansy may have survived both summer and winter, but I know for certain it survived winter and decided to bloom again this spring.  The flower was quite small, only the size of a quarter.

I've been fascinated by pansies and violas since a kid as I've mentioned.  Back then you didn't really smell pansies at all, they had a very light (if any) fragrance.  Since then they've created breeds with much bigger flowers and a much stronger smell to them.  I remember the first time I ever smelled a pansy and thought that was the prettiest smelling flower I'd ever smelled (outside of lilacs and hyacinths.)  My interest in these flowers also came from a childhood friend of mine who managed to keep a viola alive for a good year or so and it was blooming in the winter after she thought it had died.  It's amazing how strong these little flowers are.  I think I read somewhere that they stand for 'remembrance' but I can't be entirely sure.

 Most recently I've been growing azaleas.  When I lived in Michigan they weren't nearly as prevalent at garden centers as they are today or as they are in Ohio.  I think the weather is a bit milder and they're a bit happier.  This particular fellow is super pretty with a very beautiful purple flower - the color is pretty accurate in this photo - with dark green leaves.  The bush has gotten a bit bigger than when I planted it, so I'm pretty happy with the result.

I have two other azaleas in the yard, one is more of a pink color, the other was supposed to be white, but the rabbits got hungry this winter and ate all the leaves.  It's still hanging in there, if barely, and I've considered potting it again until it gets big enough to survive scary bunnies.

Well, that's all the time I have for now.  I hope you enjoy my little flower photo gallery.  I'm thinking of posting more of them on my DeviantART account if you'd like to see them.  Haven't yet but might.  I do enjoy taking pictures so if you like them too, leave me a comment!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Derpy Hooves

I'm actually glad that there are plenty of copies out there of the 'original' Derpy voice and name on the episode of MLP:FIM.  In fact, I'm glad I still have a copy of the episode on my TiVo so I can watch it again myself.  It's kind of sad really that they changed the voice and completely dropped her name from the episode.  Actually, the voice matches more what I had in my mind anyway, so I'm not entirely sad about that.  In fact, if the voice actor hadn't been so rushed to fix it (IMO) she probably could have gotten more character into it yet than the quick rush job that it felt like.  But the fact that Rainbow Dash no longer said her name was Derpy more sad to me.

I haven't said anything really about this whole thing because, well, I know that no one reading this blog really cares since I'm not a huge Brony blogger or anything.  I have been blogging about ponies, but that's only because I enjoy the show and enjoy ponies that have more in common with anime characters than whatever it was they had become over the past few years.  I enjoyed the very first ponies but when they tried to go too overboard... ah well, I'm enjoying this new series for what it is because I enjoy the kind of humor and mostly the cartoon style of it over anything else.  It's very pretty, especially on HUB HD.  ^_^

Anyway, I too am one of the bronies created by watching the Derpy episode.  That's all it took, one episode waiting for Derpy to arrive for the first time and then ever after catching up on all of the episodes until they finally gave her a name and a voice.  And then there was something of a split.  True Bronies loved it.  People who liked ponies, but I wouldn't consider a Brony, hated it and parents were up in arms and they actually took the cartoon episode down to re-do it!  I don't think I've heard of anything quite like that but maybe when they stopped playing that Pokemon episode that caused seizures.  (Actually, it's not uncommon to take down episodes of anime because of content and parents not liking this kid showing a bit too much skin or some word they weren't happy with being muted)   I'm just surprised they did it with a character that was so loved, and I really doubt even one kid out there said to their mom, "Hey Mom, is that pony mentally disabled?"  Doubt it.

Apparently in the minds of the cartoonists, Derpy will always be Derpy and do 'derpy' things and maybe she won't have a name and her eyes won't roll around as much (which, actually, is kind of fine by me too) but in the back of our heads, all Bronies will probably mourn the loss of the original we all saw go way over the top and how much we cheered and smiled the first time we saw her in all her derpy glory.  It's fun to 'derp'.  In fact, probably half the photos my husband has of me on his cell phone are derped up photos.  ^_^

 I guess that's all I'll say about this subject for now.  It's just a shame they had to do such a drastic change because of a few people not knowing how to 'love and tolerate' as the show teaches us.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Favorite Somepony

Surprisingly, after I wrote what I did about Valentine's Day, I got a fire lit under me and sent out some valentines cards to various people in hopes they'd get them before the holiday.  As for my husband...he'll have to wait and see!

I ended up discovering that indeed, I DO have to work on the holiday so most likely we'll be doing our celebrating the day or so before, hopefully I'll get my Olive Garden gift cards in the mail so we can go there since I'm pretty much a crazy pasta lover at heart.  I know there are better Italian places around town than the OG, but you know what?  I've had their food since I was 12...maybe before, I don't know for sure when the first one opened in my town, but I do recall very clearly ordering off of the kid's menu when it did.  Part of that fat blog I did I believe mentioned how often I went out to eat as a kid.  We went to the OG at least once a week and quite a few of the waitstaff knew who we were, how we liked our salad, and that sort of thing.  Ah...I still like it even though I tend to get the runs after I eat there...

Anywho, today was catch up on life day.  What I mean by that is that during the winter I'm incredibly sluggish.  I'll spend the majority of my time watching TV and zoning out (when I'm not at work) and many days I'll look back on what I did and not even really recall what I was thinking about during that day.  I suppose most of the time I'm just looking forward to some other day.  So when I get out of this slump (I think perhaps it's a type of depression, although I've never been diagnosed since I'm usually so lazy I can't get myself to a doctor) I usually do a bunch of stuff I've been holding off on doing for months.

Today was go to the dentist day, which turns out to be almost exactly a year since the last time I went since I couldn't get myself to make an appointment until last week.  Then I also went to get an oil change for my car, which kind of needed it even though I hadn't gone 3,000 miles yet but it has been over 4 months...I don't drive much but my car's on it's 10th birthday this year.

Also thought I'd do that Valentine card thing as well as a bit of shopping where I scored all of the school pals for the new MLP:FIM set that just came out with Cheerilee - although I already had her, she's got her leg raised unlike my previous toy.  I'm quite excited to get them and here two days before Hearts & Hooves Day which will be airing on Saturday...I'll be working, I'm glad I have TiVo...

Anyway, I guess I'd better go make dinner for my 'special somepony' since he's on his way home from work. Oh, hey, I also made homemade brownies that rivaled Ghiradelli...buahaha...and tonight is also homemade ice cream night!

So much for my diet...  >_<;