Happy 5th Wedding Anniversary!

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It’s hard to believe Cameron and I have been married now for 5 years! I am incredibly blessed to have such a wonderful man in my life and I look forward to each and every moment we spend together.

Before we were married, and for 4 years into our marriage, I had never heard of the list of traditional anniversary gifts by year and now that I’ve discovered it, I can’t wait to get all kinds of creative!*

Anniversary Gifts

Our year is Wood, visit my Instagram to see what we gifted one another!

*After searching through several sources, I found that some of the gifts on the list varied depending on country and timeframe. I mostly stuck to the traditional list from the United States, but inserted a few of the United Kingdom gifts where appropriate.

Stacking Microreview

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Stacking Microreview – 16/20!

Stacking is a casual adventure puzzle video game developed and published by Double Fine Productions.

The player controls, Charlie Blackmore, the smallest doll in a family of matryoshka dolls who have fallen into misfortune after their father agrees to work for an evil industrialist known as the Baron. Charlie’s size enables him to stack and unstack into larger dolls to use their unique abilities to solve puzzles and allow him to free his older siblings from the Baron’s control. Each puzzle has multiple solutions and some include additional puzzles and challenges that allow the player to explore outside of the main story.

I found this game to be charming with its vintage aesthetic and unique concept of using the stacking matryoshka dolls with different traits and abilities to progress the story. Now I am a gaming optimist and I try to see the good in all games. I understand that each game is someone(s) time and effort, their pride and joy and therefore I take great care when judging them. That being said, I had to mark this game down one point in each category (fun factor, game play, sound and visual style) because it just wasn’t quite there.

Comment below to start a conversation about this game!

Dialing down Caffeine

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Nearly a year ago I wrote this:

Growing up, I remember when fast food was a treat we were bought every other week or so and I remember when I wasn’t allowed to drink any soda with caffeine in it, not to mention energy drinks. If I was allowed soda at all, it had to be something caffeine free.

As I grew up I was given more allowances and I was allowed to start making my own decisions. I was introduced to caffeinated soda and still maintained a healthy distance.

As an adult I’ve started an office job that is relatively stressful, but not painfully so. I started buying caffeinated sodas and eventually graduated to energy drinks to “treat” or “reward” myself during the work day, but it’s become too frequent. I can feel the negative effects of the sugar and caffeine in these drinks on my mind and body, but I still crave them anyway! As we plan on starting a family I think it’s time to find some healthier “treat”  or “reward” options and get back to my healthier habits. As of last Friday, I’ve stopped drinking sodas and energy drinks. It’s definitely rough while my body is figuring out how to cope without all the sugar and caffeine, but it’ll pass!

This didn’t last long, and before I knew it I was up to consuming one sugar filled energy drink or soda every day. I’m not kidding, every day. I knew they were bad for me, I’ve known it for a long time (hence my writing of the post above), but I wouldn’t break the habit; I needed my sweet treat.

The 10 day smoothie cleanse I imposed on myself last month really helped snap me out of those bad habits and carried me through the withdrawal period. I won’t say I will never have an energy drink or soda again, that would be a bald-faced lie, but I feel like I have a better handle on my willpower than I ever did before.

Lesson learned: There is no magic trick to make you stop drinking or eating the things that are bad for you. You need to decide when enough is enough and have the willpower to steer yourself away from that vice. If you need to use a 10 day cleanse to get you started, then use it, but you are the ultimate factor.

The Cave Microreview

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The Cave Microreview – 19/20!

The cognizant Cave, voiced by Stephen Stanton, is a magical labyrinthine of tunnels that lures individuals within to explore their darker personalities. Seven unique strangers, each harboring their own dark secret, have been drawn to the Cave from across time and space to learn the truth about themselves and gain insight of who they may become.

The player initially selects three different characters from a cast of seven stereotypical figures to explore the Cave: The Adventurer, the Hillbilly, the Knight, the Monk, the Scientist, the Time-traveller, and the Twins (acting as one character). Once chosen, these three characters will be your explorers for the remainder of the game; players can restart a new game to select a different trio of characters.

The majority of this game’s puzzles require the three characters to work in coordination to complete, the player switching between them to activate multiple parts of a puzzle; an example of this would be opening a door by maneuvering two characters into holding levers, while the third character passes through the open door to pull another lever, permanently opening the door and allowing the other characters to pass through. Each character also has a unique ability to aid in navigating the cave tunnels; for example, the adventurer is able to swing herself across gaps with a rope, while the time traveller can phase shift a short distance to pass through barriers. Some puzzles are specific to the unique abilities of a character, leaving some areas inaccessible if the appropriate characters aren’t chosen at the start; the Cave can only be fully explored through at least three replays, if not more.

In addition, some areas of the Cave are accessible only if one a specific characters is in your party; such as the knight finding a castle or the adventurer discovering a tomb, these areas represent the deep desires and dark aspects of a character that lured him or her to the Cave in the first place. Throughout the game there there are iconographs emblazoned on the walls of the cave for each of the three characters, which the player will need to get near to activate; these provide one of several still art images that reveal the character’s (usually morbid) back-story.

The Cave is witty and quite fun to play through at least once, if not more. The first time I played, I selected the Adventurer, the Knight and the Time-traveller and I couldn’t have asked for a greater combination. Their storylines were morbid, yet entertaining and between their unique abilities, I was able to explore a great deal of the Cave’s tunnels. I did start over with three new characters, but I soon realized a great deal of the cave was redundant and I had no true desire to replay the whole game again just to discover other characters’ backstories.

Comment below to start a conversation about this game!

What I learned from a 10 Day Smoothie Cleanse

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I am not going to sugarcoat this, smoothie cleanses are rough. I do not say this to discourage you, I believe you’ll need to be prepared and fortify your willpower.

I decided to do this cleanse because I began to feel my appetite and overindulgence spin out of control. I was having a sugar-filled energy drink every day, fast food two to four days a week and a whole box of macaroni and cheese to myself on Sundays for lunch. I needed to do something to pry me away from my bad habits and realign my good habits again; to allow my body to catch up to the fat from the bad choices I’d made and begin chipping it away.

This cleanse will work whether you choose to juice or blend, but I chose a smoothie cleanse because I felt wasteful when I saw all the pulp left in the machine after the juice had been worked out. You also only get a small helping of juice per fruit or vegetable so you’re looking at a much more expensive experience if you choose to juice. These reasons aside, you will get more nutrients faster and probably lose more weight on a juice fast.

My strategy:

I found a list of simplistic green smoothies with water as the only liquid.

Breakfasts: 1 cup water, 2 bananas, 1 cup kale,

Lunches: 1 cup water, 1 orange, 1 cup pineapple, 1 cup spinach

Dinners: 1 cup water, 2 apples, 1 banana, 1/2 cucumber

Of course you are welcome to choose whichever smoothie recipes work best for you and mix them up more than I did. I chose to keep it simple; for simple shopping and simple preparation.

After a few days it became apparent that this was not going to cut it for me. I added green tea to drink in the morning between breakfast and lunch. I also added a hardboiled egg and a small helping of sharp cheddar cheese with my dinner smoothie as I was usually hangry by the time I got home from work.

Don’t deny yourself a small snack if you’re dying of hunger, but moderation is key. Eggs and cheese are a good source of protein, but keep the portions small. Even better, if it’s a fruit or vegetable you would have blended up in a smoothie anyway, then have at it (with NO dipping sauce of any kind).

The results of this fast:

I lost about 10 lbs. on this smoothie fast, but more importantly I gained my willpower back and decided to set  some rules for myself. For 20 days (and more) past the day my fast ended, I decided to limit any energy drinks / sodas to one per week and only specific menu items from “fast food” places I deemed acceptable (Salads from Panera Bread, Veggie burritos Baja Fresh or Chipotle and Gyros from a local Greek cafe, etc.); no Taco Bell, burgers and fries, fish and chips or pizza.

Broken Age Microreview

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Broken Age Microreview – 20/20!

Beautiful aesthetics and a very fun point-and-click adventure! I could only imagine the frustration players must have felt if the played Act 1 and waited in agony for over a year for Act II!

Comment below to start a conversation about this game!

Introduction to my Photography

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It took me far too long to realize that I have been sitting on all of my Horticultural photography without organizing or showcasing it! You may have seen some of my older work posted on an old Flickr account that I no longer have access to, but since I no longer have access to that account I’ve decided to start a new Flickr account with that old work and my new work.

Once upon a time, I attended Brooks Institute of Photography and received my Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Journalism. After graduating, I toiled away a year in a pet shop doing absolutely nothing I had gone to college to learn. I just felt….uninspired. There’s only so much you can teach an artist about technique and form, then you need to let their unique sense of creativity bring something new to the table. Brooks was very good at teaching technique and form, however when a student tried to bring something new to the table, often times the own personal taste of a professor would give them a less than admirable grade. I saw many students, frustrated in their own loss of unique style, quit Brooks without that sought after degree. I adapted and graduated but I didn’t feel passionate about art anymore for years.

For almost ten years now I’ve worked as an Office Assistant/Photographer for an Author/Professor/Nursery Owner who is a self taught photographer himself and I feel extremely lucky to have a job relating to my degree. Along with my office duties, I photograph plants for the nursery and clients’ purposes. My work consists mostly of close ups of the flora we grow and landscapes, but I branch out into other fields as they present themselves.

I’m excited to get back out there again and stop by my Flickr and show some love!

Abutilon palmeri
Aloe polyphylla
Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition'
Dudleya pulverenta
Fremontodendron 'California Glory'