Welcome back Autumn!

Okami Fall Wallpaper

Welcome back Autumn! Every year I look forward to the Fall and the warmth it generates inside my home and soul. Where I live, September and October are still rather warm on some days, and turn wet and cold as the months progress toward Winter.  I cannot get enough of the rain this time of year. The cold, wet weather begins to take over outside, driving us all inside to be together and warm. There’s nothing like cuddling up with people you love, reading a good book, watching a movie or playing a video game while the weather misbehaves outside.

I intend to fully enjoy myself this season and invite you to join me. I will be doing a lot of cooking, crafting, book reading and game playing; among other things. Follow along and try some of these activities for yourself, this is a time we should all enjoy!

I intend on:

  • Decorating for Halloween.
  • Watching Halloween mood movies.
  • Assembling a Halloween costume.
  • Hosting a Halloween dinner party.
  • Carving pumpkins.
  • Roasting pumpkin seeds.
  • Making candy/caramel apples.
  • Cooking a dish for Thanksgiving.
  • Creating and sending Christmas cards.
  • Creating and hanging Christmas ornaments.
  • Decorating for Christmas.
  • Baking Christmas cookies/cake.
  • Watching Christmas mood movies/specials.
  • Visiting local Christmas festivals.
  • Visiting Christmas Disneyland.
  • Hosting a Christmas dinner party.
  • Baking Christmas Cookies.

There will be other activities I do, but these are the core basics I try to do every year.

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Dear Esther Microreview

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Dear Esther Microreview – 15/20!

Dear Esther is a first-person artistic video game, developed and published by The Chinese Room.

The player explores an uninhabited Hebridean island, listening to a series of narratives addressed to a woman named Esther. These monologue fragments trigger at certain points around the island, and are chosen by the game semi-randomly. Of course this may present a problem as different playthroughs reveal slight differences in the story, with certain readings are played while others get omitted, and I personally have had no interested in replaying.

Although the narrator’s identity is not specified, evidence suggests he may be the late Esther’s husband. In his letters, the narrator refers to several other unseen characters. One is a cartographer named Donnelly, who charted the island in the past. Another character, Jakobson, was a shepherd who lived on the island in the eighteenth century. The narrator also refers to Paul, the drunk driver who caused the car accident that killed Esther. The identities of the narrator, Esther, Donnelly, Jakobson and Paul become more and more blurred as the game progresses, as the narration moves between topics and relates the characters in different ways. The random selection of voice-overs inspires ambiguity and forces the player to draw their own conclusions to the story.

The status of Dear Esther as a video game has been contested and indeed the game does not follow traditional video game conventions. The experience focuses on a story told through fragmented narrative as the player walks around an unnamed island with minimal to no interaction with the game’s environment; no choices need to be made, nor tasks to be completed.

I belive this is a video game. It’s unconventional, true, but it is a digital experience played by electronically manipulating images produced by a computer program. Mildly bizarre, but beautiful, Dear Esther is worth experiencing at least once for it’s artistic value. Therein lies the problem, because although the game has something to say, you would have to play it multiple times to catch the whole commentary and with such limited interaction with the game’s surroundings one could get bored and uninspired to play it again.

Comment below to start a conversation about this game!

Apple Cider Vinegar for Health

AppleCiderVinegar copyThe more I use apple cider vinegar, the more i’m convinced it is one of those rare tinctures that can be used for all kinds of good in your life. I have known people who are able to drink or gargle with straight apple cider vinegar and I tip my hat to them, it is strong! I personally tried gargling with it undiluted for a sore throat and it stings! After the stinging went away my sore throat was gone, but I highly recommend diluting it with water and in some cases honey.

  • Acne – Wash your face morning and night with one part apple cider vinegar to two or three parts water to clear acne.
  • Bad Breath – Gargling or drinking one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in water will kill the odor-causing bacteria found within your mouth.
  • Dandruff – Mix ¼ cup apple cider vinegar with ¼ cup water in a spray bottle, and spritz on your scalp. Wrap your head in a towel and let the mixture sit for fifteen minutes to an hour, then wash your hair as usual. Do this twice a week for best results.
  • Diarrhea – Mix one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into water and drink to soothe intestinal spasm.
  • Cholesterol – Drink half an ounce of apple cider vinegar (diluted in water if you prefer) on daily basis to lower cholesterol.
  • Headache – Mix ten grams of apple cider vinegar, ten grams of honey and dash of chamomile extract to create soothing balm for tension headaches.
  • Hiccups – Take a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and it’s sour taste will stop hiccups immediately.
  • High Blood Pressure – Drink two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar diluted into one average glass of water 1 to 3 times a day to lower blood pressure.
  • Indigestion – Mix one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and one teaspoon of honey into warm water and drink it 30 minutes before eating to relieve indigestion.
  • Leg cramps – Mix two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and one teaspoon of honey into a glass of warm water and drink to boost your potassium levels and relieve leg cramps.
  • Sinus Congestion/Pain – Mix one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar into a glass of water and drink to help sinus drainage.
  • Sore Throat – Gargle ¼ teaspoon of apple cider vinegar diluted with ¼ cup of warm water once every hour or so to remove germs.
  • Weight Loss – Start your day with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar diluted into two glasses of water to suppress your appetite, reduce water retention and increase your metabolism.
  • Whiten Teeth – Gargling with diluted apple cider vinegar once a day can help remove stains, whiten teeth and kill harmful bacteria in your mouth and gums. Brush afterwards.

Gone Home Microreview

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Gone Home Microreview – 19/20!

Gone Home is a first-person interactive story adventure video game developed and published by Fullbright.

On the night of June 7th 1995, Kaitlin Greenbriar returns home to her parent’s mansion in Oregon after a year abroad. She’s greeted by a note on the front door from her sister Samantha asking her not to look for answers to where she is. As she enters the house, Kaitlin soon realizes no one is home, and she begins to investigate the house and it’s belongings to find where her family has gone.

The player assumes the role of Kaitlin in the first-person, guiding her through exploration of objects around the house, piecing together the story and gaining insight into her family and their experiences during the time she’s been away. Nostalgic memorabilia and themes from the nineties are prevalent, with some of my favorites like Super Nintendo cartridges and the X-Files, bringing back fond memories to those who, like myself, grew up during that time period. Additional clues can be found which explain the background of Kaitlin’s great uncle Oscar Masan, the previous owner of the house and target of social stigma within the community.

Though this game is based solely on exploration and discovery, with no threat to the player’s safety, I couldn’t help but feel the atmosphere was subtly ominous. Alone in a large old house in the middle of the night with a storm raging all around, I couldn’t help but feel a little anxious as I tiptoed around investigating. Some discoveries played with my imagination, leading me to believe sinister things may have happened or that there is or may be a presence in the house.

On the contrary, once I realized there was no real threat to Kaitlin’s safety, I was able to relax and enjoy this game for all it represents thematically and structurally. I was pleasantly surprised by the realism and family dynamics. Fullbright, a modest company of four persons, tastefully created one of the most ingenious storytelling games of our time through exploration, examination of objects and literary story elements. Interactive story adventures such as Gone Home are a quintessential genre for any gamer looking to relax and explore the elements and environment within a game without the menace of combat.

Comment below to start a conversation about this game!

Beauty and Hygiene Quick Tips

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BODY

  • Use an unscented pH balanced bar soap (ie. Dove or Aveeno) to prevent any harsh chemicals from damaging your skin or causing dryness or acne. This is especially important when washing your underarms, pubic region and any other sensitive areas.
  • Liquid body wash can clog pores more than a bar of soap, so if you have body acne, try cleansing with bar soap instead.
  • The best way to get rid of body acne is to use a spray with salicylic acid after drying your skin post-shower. If you have long hair, try to keep it off your back/shoulders, especially when wet and after applying product.
  • If you have Keratosis Pilaris, also known as KP (google for images), the best way to get rid of it is to exfoliate with either a sugar scrub or a gentle exfoliator in the shower, then moisturize immediately after you dry off. It’s generally a result of dry skin, so if you maintain cleanliness and moisturize you could get rid of it.
  • If you shave, buy men’s razors. You get a much closer and smoother shave since they’re made for faces instead of legs. i know they’re not cute or colorful, but you can get more razors as well as more/better blades for less money.
  • Moisturize when you get out of the shower after drying off to retain moisture and soften skin, since water and soap dry it out. It is not recommended to use baby oil or any moisturizer with artificial fragrances or dyes.
  • Please shower after you work out or sweat a lot. This will prevent body acne, bacteria buildup, yeast infections, smelling horrendous, and even staph infection (particularly if you go to the gym). You don’t have to wash your hair every time unless you’re drenched in sweat but please shower.
  • Underarms are sensitive. Try to find deodorant without aluminum or any weird preservatives to prevent rashes.
  • If you have really dry, cracking feet, try putting vaseline or a thick lotion (i use burt’s bees coconut foot creme) on your feet, put on socks, and keep them on overnight. it will feel a little weird and squishy at first, but after a few days you will definitely find it worth it!

Resources & Tutorials:

Check back soon!

FACE

  • I cannot stress enough how amazing coconut oil is. Use it as a makeup remover (especially wonderful for eye makeup!!), a moisturizer, or even as an acne treatment.
  • If you have one of those god-awful huge, painful blemishes, mix coconut oil with a dash 100% tea tree oil (dilute the tea tree oil like this or you WILL get a rash) and use it as a spot treatment. The coconut oil balances the oil on your skin, while the tea tree oil kills bacteria.
  • Be gentle when dealing with your skin, especially with pulling and tugging around your eyes.
  • Incorporate sun protection into your daily routine. Get a moisturizer with spf in it to protect your skin and use it in the mornings. This will prevent wrinkles and, more importantly, skin cancer.
  • Wash your face first thing in the morning to get rid of all the nasty excess oil you produce in your sleep.
  • Wash your face before you go to bed (after removing makeup) too.
  • After washing your face, apply a toner a treatment containing salicylic acid (if you have acne).
  • Moisturize. When you apply acidic products or wash your face without moisturizing it, your skin gets stripped of natural oils/moisture and then panics by creating an excess of oil, meaning you get greasy skin and acne. Get a moisturizer that works with your skin type.
  • If you wear makeup and want to go for a quick/easy/natural/no-makeup look, just cover up any acne with concealer, put on some blush and mascara, and then leave everything else alone. Blush is magical and will instantly make you look fresh and young and alive and pretty.
  • Don’t touch your acne. The more you touch it, the worse it gets. If you have to pop it, wash your hands first and disinfect/put acne treatment on it directly afterward. STOP trying to do anything if you see blood or if it gets too painful.
  • Clean your phone screen and glasses frames with an alcohol swab every few days to keep your face clean.
  • Please do not put lemon juice or baking soda on your face. It is extremely corrosive.
  • Please do not use sugar scrubs or exfoliators meant for your body on your face as it’s way more delicate than your body’s skin.
  • Wash/change your sheets and pillowcase(s) every two weeks MAXIMUM. Imagine how much nastiness gets on your pillowcase from hair products, oil, dead skin.
  • Drink lots of water every day. your skin needs it.
  • Above all, love your skin. be gentle to it. treat it well. it will love you back if you do.

Resources & Tutorials:

Check back soon!

HAIR

  • Try to keep shampoo to your roots and away from the ends. Shampoo pulls the natural oils and moisture out of your hair and when exposed to your tips, can cause your hair to dry out and look frizzy even after conditioner.
  • Do not condition your scalp. Conditioner on your scalp will create product/oil build up, making your hair greasy and flat. Do use conditioner on your ends; start at the nape of your neck and work toward the tips. Let the conditioner sit for a minute or two after applying, then rinse.
  • Reduce frizz by wrapping your delicate wet hair in t-shirt material instead of your towel.
  • When brushing wet hair, start at the ends and work your way up. If you put product on before you brush it, use a different brush at the scalp to reduce any product buildup/greasiness/flatness.
  • Do not go to bed with wet hair. Not only can you develop mold/bacteria in your hair if it stays wet too long, but wet hair is a lot more prone to breakage (meaning the more you toss and turn, the frizzier your hair will be).
  • Brush your hair out at the end of the day to distribute the natural oils in your scalp. This is good for creating shine, decreasing oiliness in second- or third-day roots, and growing out your hair.
  • Use heat protectants before drying/heat styling your hair!
  • Evenly distribute any products you put in by brushing them through.
  • If you have dandruff, try apple cider vinegar.
  • Do not use scalding hot water when showering, ESPECIALLY if you have colored hair. It strips color from your hair and it’s bad for your hair texture and health. Try to use warm to cool water.
  • If your hair lacks body, especially near the scalp, it could be the result of product buildup. Try using a clarifying shampoo or apple cider vinegar once every week or two depending on your hair’s thickness.
  • if your hair is still flat, try changing your part! it instantly changes your look and can immediately add volume.
  • Try to get your hair trimmed every 6 months, at the least.
  • Sea salt spray creates instant body and texture on most hair types, but is especially great if you have wavy to curly hair or short hair.
  • Coconut oil is a amazing! Use it as a hair mask, an after-shower detangler or a product in place of smoothing creme. Make sure it’s organic or else you’re not helping your hair much.

Resources & Tutorials:

Check back soon!

Hector: Badge of Carnage Microreview

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Hector: Badge of Carnage Microreview – 17/20!

Hector: Badge of Carnage is an episodic graphic adventure game developed by Straandlooper and published by Telltale Games.

Hector is a drunken, violent and vulgar detective inspector with the Clappers Wreake Police Department. “Everyone is guilty” is his credo and although he has a personal penchant for certain criminal activities, he struggles to eliminate the truly warped and perverse criminals infesting Clappers Wreake; the crime capital of England and the town that took the ‘Great’ out of Britain.

This game is funky good! Picture a crime drama, with a large injection of vulgarity and offbeat humor and you’re in the plot of Hector: Badge of Carnage. The animation style is quirky and unique, but shouldn’t be mistaken for crude (unless we’re discussing subject matter). The sound quality (not to be confused with the voice acting) of the first episode was a little rough and hollow, but improved with each episode.

Comment below to start a conversation about this game!

Happy Independence Day!

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It’s Independence Day here in the United States of America, and while I’ve never really been a person who is interested in politics, this year has really made me think about what being an American is and what independence means to me.

No worries, I am not going to shovel my deep thoughts on you, let’s keep it light! What I will say that I am thankful I have been given the right to live my life the way I want to live it due to others before me standing for what they believe in. I am also thankful for those who are doing what they can now to ensure that we still have that freedom. I hope you have the freedom celebrate this holiday in your own way.

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