For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Moving On, and see what else has been going on.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Christmas day today, filled with family, good friends and good food!

May 2013 be a year of peace, happiness and prosperity for you and your loved ones.

This is one of my favourite Polish Christmas carols.  I hope you enjoy it. :-)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

An overview

It's been ages since I've done a proper blog post!  My bad.  This is supposed to be where we keep track of our homeschool activities, too.

Speaking of which, we had our facilitator visit just a few days ago.  Very late for this, but our facilitator has had some pretty harsh personal issues to take care of that involve traveling out of province, so we've got nothing to complain about.  Our visits with him are always awesome and something we look forward to every time.

So.  Here's a brief overview of what's been going on for the past few months.  A sort of "what I did during my summer holidays" assignment. *L*

The biggest activities have involved Eldest and her blossoming art career.  She took part in a local 3-day art festival for the third year in a row.  Not as successful as last year, partly because the third day got rained out, but also because the spot she ended up in was in the far back corner, and not as many people bothered going that far.  She still did fairly well.  What was even more encouraging was the fact that she actually had people seek her booth out!  One person had seen a painting of hers last year and was hoping it was still there.  She ended up buying more then one.  Eldest actually has several people collecting her art now!

She also took part in another festival in another town just outside our city.  This was an event that took place every Sunday, beginning in June and ending on the last Sunday of September.  Her first day was on Canada Day.  As it didn't make sense for me to drive all the way there, help her set up, then leave for a few hours only to come back and do it again, I joined her for the whole thing, bringing along my project bag and working on some crochet while keeping her company.  This way, there was also someone to watch her booth while she had lunch or went for a bio-break.  After a couple of these, the organizer that helped out (who was awesome, I must say!) invited me to set up as well, so I ended up with a little table of my crochet for sale in the back of Eldest's booth.

This event was, unfortunately, a bit of a disaster.  The primary reason was that no one knew about it.  It was the first time it had been held, so that was to be expected, but they apparently did a lot of advertising.

The physical location was a strange mix of perfect for the venue, and disastrous for the venue.  Perfect, in that there was lots of space for artists to set up, shelter if needed, indoor bathrooms available, lots of parking, and just plain pretty.  It was disastrous, in that no one could find the place.  It was part of a new facility that includes a very popular new library, space for community events, and some government facilities, a bistro, coffee shop, and more.  You'd think everyone would know it was there, but no.  The plaza we were set up in was in the back of the library section, actually in between two wings of the facilities.  In the biggest space where community events are held, they hosted the Canada Day free pancake breakfast.  Thousands of people showed up, yet less then a dozen made it out the back and saw the artist booths.  The area has some new condos across the street from the front entrance of the library, and we ran into people who lived there, yet had no idea this plaza was there.  The library itself was closed on Sundays all summer - normally it's open in the afternoon on Sundays - and we had a few people who found us because they were going to the library, only to find it closed, so they wandered around trying to find information, stumbling on us, instead.

The other problem was one of promotion.  It was promoted as an art event, rather then an art market.  Some of the people that did come out specifically to see the art had come with the expectation of displays, not sales.  This led to a problem.  Since the few people that showed up were not there to buy, there was no incentive for artists to keep coming back every weekend.  With no artists coming back, there would be no incentive for people to come and check it out. We kept coming back, simply because we were willing to be part of the experiment and it was good experience.  A couple of others became regulars as well, but they were also local, so it didn't cost them much to be there.  For some who lived farther out, it was simply not worth driving all the way out, spending all that time to set up and tear down, without any reasonable expectation for sales.  For one artist friend, it cost her about $25 in gas alone to be there.

None of the artists did well at this event.  It was really horrible!  There were simply no people.  Most didn't bother coming back after only 1 or 2 weekends. I sold more crochet items then most of the artists.  It was a shame, because there were some really talented people who'd given it a try.

We did, however, make some new friends and did some networking, which is always good.

On top of this, Eldest was able to set up her work as gallery displays in a local tea house and a local coffee shop.  The tea house accepts 2 or 3 artists a month, each hanging several pieces.  Eldest was able to hang 4 framed paintings, partly because one was small enough to fit in a very small space. When one sold, they let her know so she could bring another to replace it.  By the end of the month, another had sold, so that turned out very well for her. 

The  next month, she had a display in a trendy coffee shop, and for this, she had the entire place to herself.  On two levels, that was about 18 or 19 paintings.  For this one, when someone was interested in buying, the coffee shop contacted Eldest and she finished the transaction herself.  When we came in to take care of that, however, all her paintings were gone and the walls were newly painted!  She found out where the paintings where and her customer walked out happy, but the paintings never made it back up onto the walls.  That sort of worked out for the better, as the day she normally would have had to take them out, she had to set up somewhere else...

There was another event, somewhat related to the 3 day festival.  It was marketed as a "garage sale," and a lot of merchants had sidewalk displays.  There were several competitive events hosted by a fitness company that was a major sponsor, live entertainment, food trucks and quite a few artists.  There were lots of people coming out for it, and everyone seemed to be having lots of fun.

Yet there were almost no sales among the artists!  The businesses that had sidewalk displays seemed to be doing well, but all the artists were set up in one block and, while there was plenty of foot traffic and lots of people stopping to look and talk to the artists, I know of only two that made any sales at all, and one of those was to a family member!

Eldest did have several people stop by who recognised her work from her coffee shop display.  One person came back several times, each time bringing someone else to look at Eldest's work.  Still no sales, however.  Talking about the event with some other artist friends, everyone had the same sense of oddness about the whole thing.  A very strange disappointment.

That was the last event for the season, but there is one last Christmas event coming up this very evening.  Even I have my own space now, as sharing a space with Eldest was not encouraged.  I'm not entirely sure I have enough inventory for my own display, but we'll see how it works out.  My space is right next to Eldest, so we can help each other out as needed.  One of our new artist friends from the summer will be on my other side, an another new artist friend will be just a few spaces away, so it will be a bit of a reunion!  I hope it works out.  Eldest fully expects it to bomb.

It's going to be held in the same complex the summer event was at, in the same room the Canada Day pancake breakfast was held.  Since it's part of an established farmer's market, I do hope it will turn out better, but we shall see.

Aside from that, Eldest and I have both joined up with a new art related company, run by a home school mom, and we'll be teaching.  I'll be teaching crochet, and Eldest will be teaching two classes related to comics.

Speaking of comics, Eldest's online comic is now up and running.  It was supposed to start back in March, but there were technical difficulties and she ended up moving it completely.  It was very frustrating for her to try and get it working.  This first comic is her learning experience.  Once it's finished, she's got a short story planned, and then another major story.  The next one is something that's meant to be print-worthy.

So she's got things pretty planned out!

Youngest, meanwhile is doing her own thing.  She's still taking guitar lessons, though not practising as much as she ought.  She says she enjoys them and wants to continue.  Once in a rare while, I even get to hear her play!  She's enjoying these lessons a lot more then her voice lessons from a couple of years back.  That turned out to be rather disappointing.  She learned lots and her singing improved, but by the end of her first year, she wasn't enjoying the classes and didn't really want to sing anymore.  Part of the reason is that, while things started out with things geared towards Youngest's musical interests (which is pretty eclectic to begin with) to her singing what her teacher - who is a local country singer - liked and performed.  Youngest likes country, but not *that* kind of country.

With her guitar instructor, things seem very different.  When she's ready to work on a new song, she comes up with some that she likes and he'll actually go and find them for her, and that's what she learns.  Right now, she's learning Babel from Mumford and Sons. 

Youngest has also picked up soap making, has been crocheting up a storm (she's planning an Iron Man sweater design at the moment) and is teaching herself how to knit right now.  She's at a bit of a loss when it comes to interests, though, and seems to be drifting a bit.  We've found some information for an apprenticeship program our province has, and there are a few trades that catch her eye and we need to learn more about.  The ones she listed as possible choices are Auto Body Technician (which has several sub-categories), Baker, Bricklayer, Cabinetmaker, Carpenter, Landscape Gardener and Motorcycle Mechanic.  We'll see how things develop as we look into those.

In other areas, we've had to work around Dh's health issues.  He's taken another turn for the worse, mostly involving his back injury.  He's now developed a herniated disc, which is protruding into a nerve root.  That explains why his leg's been going numb.  Getting treatment has been troublesome, as our family doctor disappeared - he went on medical leave and never came back - and we've had to find someone new.  Since we didn't have the luxury to wait to see the doctor that had been recommended to us, his primary caregiver is a Nurse Practitioner.  We were going to just go with the same caregiver for all of us, but that didn't quite work out.  I wrote a letter of complaint after my own issues and have since seen the doctor I'd wanted to see originally, but Dh has too many issues to allow him the luxury of bouncing around between practitioners; he takes what he can get.  The NP had been focused a lot on his diabetes and kept adding more prescriptions - including prescriptions to protect his kidneys from all the prescriptions he's on - but I'd mentioned that a bit in my letter of complaint, and the last time we were there (and the first time I'd seen her since I sent in my letter), she focused on treating his pain, while avoiding eye contact with me as much as possible.  Dh is due to see a specialist in February and is considered a good candidate for surgery, but the surgery would fix his problem with his leg, not his back.  Apparently, there's nothing they can fix about his back.  Or his knee.  His knee gave out, quite badly, and he's walking with a cane most of the time.  He has an indoor cane that he uses to go up and down the stairs, and an outdoor cane with the teeth on the bottom to prevent slipping on ice.  He had another scan done on the knee, but apparently there's nothing wrong with it.  Go figure. 

Well, that's most of what's been going on with us.  The big stuff, anyhow.  For now, we're getting ready for Christmas.  As we're running around less frequently, and I've finished NaNoWriMo this year (yes, I did complete the 50,000 words in 1 month), I am hoping to be able to post a bit more often.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Grenade- Bruno Mars (feat. Lindsey Stirling, Alex Boye', & the Salt Lake...

Love Lindsey Stirling, but I've never encountered Alex Boye' before. He's awesome!!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Taking a Break

Due to my inability to balance the needs of my family with keeping up the blog, I will be taking a break from writing for a while.  Hopefully, I'll have a chance to throw the odd post up until I can get back to writing regularly again, but until then, I hope you enjoy what I've got up so for.

Thanks for visiting.

Monday, March 12, 2012

An update

When will things finally get back to normal?

What is normal?

I think I'm going to have to readjust just what that is for us.

So what's been happening in the last while?

For starters, Dh has been home for over 2 weeks now.  He's been able to work from home for most of that, at least, but some days he's had to medicate more then others, and at that level, it affects his ability to think clear enough to do his job.  He's in a bit of a bind.  Either he takes the meds to treat the pain and can't work, or he doesn't medicate so he can think clearly, but the pain leaves him with absolutely no patience at all and he becomes very ... snarky.  *ahem*  Yeah, that's the word. :-/  He's been forcing himself to get outside, even though he's not really improved, just because he recognises that he has to get out and about. 

Unfortunately, even when he isn't working, he's still usually on the computer, since that's where he can sit that is least painful on his back.  A downside of this is that, because of how he has to sit, plus the constant adjusting to relieve pressure on his back, it's breaking our new office chair.  We bought the best we could afford, but we knew it wasn't going to last long.  The type of chair he needs is going to cost many hundreds of dollars.  Yes, he has a prescription for one, but it's the sort of thing he can claim at tax time, not through insurance, so we have to have the money up front.  *sigh*  We'll just add that to the list, along with a new CPAP machine.

It's been extra hard on him lately, since his sister has been going through some tough times and he isn't able to be there for her.  Even if we could scape together the money to send him out, and get the time off work to do it, he wouldn't be physically able to take the trip.   He might be able to handle a flight, but not without crippling himself by the end of it. 

He knows being home has completely disrupted our routine.  Well, mostly my routine.  I haven't been doing much writing at all lately.  This at a time when I'm starting to do writing that will pay.  Not anything that requires major deadlines, but still a priority.  Which means lower priority writing - like blog posts and answering emails - falls farther and farther behind.  I'm starting to think I should have got a second desktop instead of the tablet.  We're getting good use out of the tablet, but for the writing I do, I need my desktop.  And uninterrupted quiet time.  The quiet time is actually harder to come by. You see, the only other seat Dh can sit in for any length of time is the armchair.  So he ends up either watching TV or gaming.  Have I ever mentioned he's deaf in one ear?  Yeah.  Things end up being pretty darn loud.  Especially when the commercials start.  Is there some kind of rule that, the quieter the show, the louder the commercials have to be?  The kids and I don't watch much TV, but when we do, muting the commercials is a big deal with us.  Dh actually likes to watch the commercials sometimes.  Either that or, as soon as a commercial starts, he switches to other channels to see what else he can watch. 

Then, as if that weren't enough, the pain is messing with his sleep habits.  Lying down for a full night's sleep messes him up, so he sleeps for a few hours in the evening, is up for a few hours, then is down for a few more before he has to get up and either work from home or, even if he can't work, take his time and meal dependant morning medications.  Now, I've happily been a night owl and gone to bed at 2 or 3 in the morning, but that only works if I can sleep in until 9 or 10 in the morning.  That hasn't been happening, so I've been going to bed as early as *gasp* midnight these days. *L*  With my own sleep schedule messed up, that means I've been too tired to do any priority writing.  Certainly not anything that requires any sort of background research and references.

Ah, well.  Such is life.  We'll figure something out.

Meanwhile, we've gone all politically active and stuff.  Our province is rewriting some legislation, and it involves changing the wording that pertains to homeschoolers, including linking the education act to the human rights act.  Since home schoolers don't have that separation between class time and non-class time that is more clearly delineated by going to school, it effectively gives the government control over our daily lives.  There are special interest groups behind these changes, but the usual folks are far more incensed over the special interest groups that are alerting parents to the changes and trying to fight them.  All in the name of "diversity."  The girls and I even went to a protest about it, which is just not something we tend to do.  We've taken part in only one other protest since moving here, and the time before that was a counter protest  I took part in at the start of the Gulf War.

The first one.

On the more ordinarily front, Eldest is preparing for her first art festival of the year coming up.  She's taken inventory of what she has read that she wants to put up, and figure pricing out.  That's really hard to do!  She's got 29 pieces right now, plus she intends to do more in smaller sizes that will have lower prices; stuff that's more affordable for people who happen through the festival, but aren't up to buying large, expensive paintings. She's also registered for the big art festival she's taken part in the last two years.  Next year, we'll have to make a point of being there right when the doors open on the first day of registration.  She snagged the last spot available in the location she wanted, and it's not particularly good.  At least not compared to the one she had last year. 

The weather is turning nice again, so I should be able to get Youngest out and driving again.  I want to get her to a point that when I need to go run some errands, I can just grab her along to drive.  I need to get that girl out more. :-D

Well, it's coming up on 1 am right now, and I am expecting to get up early to drive Dh to work in the morning - I hope!  We shall see how he feels.

Time for bed!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What's going on...

It's been a while since I've written, so it's time to catch up on what's been going on in the last while.

Things are getting pretty exciting for Eldest in the last while.  She has her online comic, Magpies, Killers and Vagabonds, up, currently on her deviantart account.  She'll be uploading 3 new pages every tuesday there, until she can get her dedicated website up and running.  She's also started a new tumblr page for her sketches and whatnot.  Meanwhile, she's signed up for a booth in a street festival in the late spring.  The big art festival she's been in the last couple of years comes up for registration soon, so she'll have that.  In the early fall, she'll have her art up in one of the various coffee shops that double as art galleries featuring local artists.  She's certainly going to have her hands full in the next while to get all she needs for those, while also looking up other venues to see her art. 

Youngest is still enjoying her guitar lessons.  She's also been extressing interest in a variety of things, such as belly dance and martial arts classes - something more organized and interesting then doing weights and basic exercises at home.  Unfortunately, such things are not cheap, though she's been able to start doing some Tai Chi with Dh.  He's slowly adding things like that back into his regimine to try and strengthen and stabalize his back, and he's more then happy to teach her.  It's been a long time since he's been able to teach martial arts of any kind, and he really misses it. 

Youngest hasn't had much chance to practise her driving, unfortunately.  Between the price of gas and the current weather, I just haven't been able to take her out much.  One irritation about living in the city.  It's hard to find someplace safe for her to practise.  When I was learning how to drive, there were plenty of empty country roads to use.

Both girls have been on a movie watching blitz again, borrowing stacks of movies from the library.  Youngest is still working her way through the libraries graphic novel collection, and they are both completely entranced with the Avatar;  The Last Airbender series.  There's some really solid story lines in that series.

Raider King just left from an extended visit.  He was here for a week, and it was a busy one for him!  He applied for a local digital arts college.  He managed to get an interview, take the entrance exam and get accepted all in a few days!  It's an intense 6 month course (another college has a similar course spread out over 2 years) that has a post graduate hiring rate of 85-90%.  Now he has to come up with the money for it. :-/  We've made sure to tell him that he doesn't have to worry about a roof over his head, even if it means he's with us for the entire 6 months.  Obviously, he would prefer his own place, and he's looking, but we want to make sure he knows he can focus on paying for his course and not have to worry about paying for housing on top of it until he's in a better position.  It'll be another month before he's back, and then it's to stay.  He's looking forward to quitting a job he hates, and I'm looking forward to him getting away from a rather negative domestic situation.  *sigh*  Family.  They either build you up or drag you down, don't they?  :-/

Dh, meanwhile, is still struggling with his back.  It's got to the point that I can't remember the last time he has been able to go to the office for a whole 5 days in a row.  I've been driving him to and from work.  He's hoping to be able to start walking to work again once the sidewalks are less of a concern and his back has improved, but we shall see. The alternative is the bus, and the few times he's had to take it has not been good for him at all.  Meanwhile, he finally has an appointment for an MRI to see just what the heck is going on with the soft tissues.  There had been a delay in getting the appointment; his doctor very sheepishly inform him that the ball was dropped in his own clinic, and the request of the MRI had never gone out.  Dh has been going to the doctor often enough to have been able to nag a bit, which is good, since that's why the problem was discovered.  Once the request actually went out, he got a call within a rather short time with an appointment.  Unfortunately, it's not until July.  When I'd been sent for an MRI, it was much quicker, but then I was also sent to a hospital in one of the bedroom communities surrounding our cities, while Dh is being sent to a local hospital and not one of the many clinics. 

Speaking of doctors and health issues, I've finally made an appointment for myself.  I've been feeling some odd pains that I at first thought were pulled muscles.  They didn't go away or get better.  I normally wouldn't have thought much of it, but after what happened last year, I'm a little more aware of potential problems.  I'm starting to think that there's a George Jr. hanging around, trying to figure out what happened to papa.  *sigh*

Meanwhile, I'm still supposed to be teaching crochet, but class registrations dropped right off after Christmas.  I'm also supposed to be working on my writing; especially finishing off the novel I started during NaNoWriMo.  Instead, I haven't been able to do much writing at all, and it's starting to drive me bonkers.  When I have something I want to write about, it hangs around in my head while I'm doing other stuff, and I tend to write/re-write/debate and argue points until I can finally sit down and put my thoughts onto text.  The problem is, I need uninterrupted time to do that, and I just haven't been getting any.  Meanwhile, I've got more and more stuff that I want to write about, and they're starting to mess me up.  Last night (a night when I was supposed to get up early, of course, so getting sleep was much needed) I found myself completely unable to sleep.  Once I was laying down and no longer thinking about the usual daily activities, all this stuff hovering in the back of my head just burst to the forefront.  I found myself lying there, getting increasingly awake, as my brain started writing, editing, and re-writing three different topics at the same time.  I tried to distract myself by playing some solitaire on my phone, but at soon as I felt I was finally tired enough to sleep and put the phone away, it all just blasted back again.  I finally gave up and got out of bed, but irritatingly, was too tired to actually write!  Not that I could have, since that required heading downstairs and firing up the computer, and Raider King was asleep on the couch.  I don't think he would have minded, but I do want him to have at least *some* privacy!  I need to figure out some way to wrestly that uninterrupted writing time I need, but I'm at how to go about it.  There are just too many things to work around.

I'm starting to think we need to get another desktop.  The tablet and Eldest's laptop are useful, but not for me, and not for what I need to do.  If we get another desktop for the rest of the family, I can take this one and hide it in a corner somewhere upstairs - maybe set something up in the laundry room? - where I can shut away the rest of the world and work.

*sigh*  I don't know.  Will have to figure it out.

Well, I guess that's the catch up for now.  Now to get to all the stuff I have been ignoring so I could at least get this post done!! *L*

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Going back in time

When I was a kid, one of the things we looked forward to was getting the new Eatons and Sears catalogs.  Many hours were spent flipping through the pages, dreaming of being able to buy some of the stuff in there.   For many years, the Eatons catalog was the only way people in rural areas could get a lot of their supplies, and the items listed reflected those diverse needs.  Eatons stopped their catalog service in the 70's, if I remember correctly.

Going through this 1920-21 Eaton's Fall and Winter Catalogue is a fascinating glimpse back in time.  Enjoy!

(You can use your keyboard arrow keys to flip through the pages.)

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I've noticed quite a few new visitors from Blazing Cat Fur coming over for a visit through my other blog.  Welcome!  I hope you enjoy your stay. :-)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Beefy Lentils

Yesterday I caught an old episode of Iron Chef America.  My favourite Iron Chefs have always been Morimoto and Batali.  They are awesome!  As I don't watch tv much, it was a surprise to me to find out Batali isn't an Iron Chef anymore, and they've got these threee new chefs, instead.  New being a relative term, I guess, since I think at least one of them has been there for a few years now. 

Did I mention I don't watch tv much? *L*

So there was this episode with Batali, and the secret ingredient was lentils.  By the time it was over, all I could think of was the bag of lentils I had in my cupboard and, my goodness, wouldn't those be great!!

So the following recipe was inspired by Iron Chef America and whatever I scrounged out of my cupboards and fridge, and it was so good, even my lentil hating Eldest liked it. 

It was all I could do not to finish the pot off last night.  Instead, it made an even better lunch. 

Beefy Lentils

2 cups brown lentils
about 3 1/2 cups liquid (I used some bullion powder to make a beef broth)
seasonings to taste (I used some Emeril's Essence, approx 1/3 tsp)

1 medium onion, chopped fine
2-3 stalks celery, plus the inner heart of the celery bunch, with its leaves, chopped fine
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
about 3 tbsp butter

1 small cooked and seasoned beef roast, cut into cubes

Pick over the lentils for any odd bits and pieces that don't belong.  Get rid of any shrivelled ones, too.  Rinse and set aside.

Prepare your liquid.  I just used some beef bullion powder in water and stirred in the Emeril's Essence, but go ahead and change it up however you like. 

Melt the butter in a pot large enough to hold everything.  Once hot, toss in the onion and lower heat to about medium/medium low.  Slowly cook the onions in butter until they are just starting to get transluscent.  Add the chopped celery (I had intended to use carrots originally, only to discover we were out, so celery it was).  Raise the heat a bit and cook the celery until it's starting to get soft.  Add the garlic and cook a minute or so longer. 

Add the chopped beef and cook until heated through.

(I buy warehouse packs of beef roasts, which usually have 2-3 hunks of meat in them.  I roast all at once, seasoning them with my favourite steak spice mix first.  If your meat isn't already seasoned, you may want to add more seasonings to taste later on.)

Add the liquid, raise the temperature again, stir and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, add the lentils.  Bring back to a boil and cook at a boil for 2-3 minutes, stirring occaisionally.  Reduce temperature to medium low, cover and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

Taste the lentils to check doneness.  I like mine rather toothsome.  Adjust seasonings, if necessary.  If there's more liquid on the bottom then you like, give it a stir and simmer a bit longer without the lid.

When done, cover and let sit for a few minutes before serving, or cool and refrigerate.  Reheat and serve the next day for even better flavour.

Between the beef broth, Emeril's Essence and the seasoning on the beef, I didn't need to add any salt or pepper.  Adjust your own seasonings to taste.

I'll mention right now, this is not the most visually appealing dish! *L*  The whole thing comes out a rather greyish brown colour.  Including some finely chopped carrots instead of (or along with) the celery would have added some colour.  I'll have to make it again the next time I've got carrots and see what a difference it makes.

Oh, and it's AWESOME eaten with buttered rye bread.

Okay, I've gone and made myself hungry.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Confessions of a Filthy Addict

The following post is an exploration of a theme about gaming and its affects on people.  Particularly the evil affects of gaming on boys.

This is the sort of thing that gets discussed in our household a fair bit, and since I, according to Eldest, I am a filthy, filthy addict, I figured it'd be something to explore here.

We are a gaming family.  At the moment, Dh plays hour upon hour of WoW.  Youngest has switched allegiances to the new Star Wars MMO.  Eldest used to play a lot of WoW, but she's stopped playing it altogether.  These days, she mostly plays with doll building games.

I don't usually think of myself as a gamer.  Certainly not these days, as I no longer play PC games or Xbox, and I never got into the online RPGs.  Yet when I stopped and thought about it I realized that, yes indeed, I most definitely fall into the gamer category.  I just don't fit the usual stereotype.

I think the first game I became thoroughly obsessed with was Civ II.  The game was already old when I bought it.  I had taken the Greyhound to Edmonton for a weekend seminar.  I checked out of my hotel on the Monday morning and walked over to the Greyhound station, but had over an hour to kill.  Looking around, I saw a Staples nearby, so I headed over.  It was a place to fill time, looking at stuff.  In my wanderings about the store I found a bargain bin.  In it was a Civ II CD pack that I decided looked interesting.  It was cheap, so why not? 

It turns out that this is the sort of game I really, really love.  I like empire building games, and soon I was building roads and cities, farms, mines and so on.  At the end of the game, I would deliberately leave one opposing faction barely alive, just so I could finish building the space ship to Alpha Centauri.  So many hours were spent on that game!

Then I discovered the Age of Empire games and their expansions.  Then Alpha Centauri, which I enjoyed even more.  Why that game never went on into new versions, I don't know, but I wish they had.  Empire Earth came out, then its expansion.  I think at some point, I even picked up Civ III. I spent so many late night playing these various games, it would be easy to label me an addict. 

Dh, meanwhile, had no interest in such games.  He preferred Diablo and Starcraft.  As the girls got older, they preferred the games he played over mine. 

Then we got an Xbox.

I didn't get into the Xbox at first, much preferring my empire building PC games.  I had no interest in shoot-em-ups or snowboarding or car racing.  I left those to Dh and the kids.  Until...



Knights of the Old Republic.

When we first got that game, Dh played it obsessively.  Every spare moment he had, he was in the game, pushing through the levels to the end, with the occasional hunt online to figure out how to accomplish certain goals.  He reached the end, then immediately started over, playing a different character.  Then he did it again.  I'm pretty sure he finished the game 3 times before I finally gave in and gave it a try.

What sucked me in was the storyline.  As Dh played the game (and the girls played while he was at work), different aspects of the characters stories emerged.  The choices made in the game also affected things.  My curiosity piqued, I picked up controller one evening, shortly before everyone else went to bed.  Dh helped me figure out the controller, but I play very differently then he does, so it wasn't long before I had to tell him to stop back seat gaming while I played. *L*

Once I got into the game, I got into the habit of starting it after everyone else had gone to bed, and often played all night.  I play very methodically, not leaving an area until I've explored every inch of it.  I also questioned all the characters I could, and sought out the back stories of the NPCs that made up my character's team.  By the time I finished the game, I had a character developed to a level Dh had no idea was available, simply because he had been more interested in pushing through to the end then exploring and digging.  I discovered nuances to the storyline and game place that hadn't been explored.

The action and fighting in the game were tertiary to me.  I played for the story.  After finishing it, I played it again making different choices, which brought about different responses from the NPCs.  Then I did it again.  And again.  And again.  Eventually, I had figured out just about every possible variant of the game.

But only for half of it.

You see, there was one thing about the game I simply could not do.  I could not be a Dark Side character.

KotOR allows the player to make a number of moral choices.  These choices place the player's character on a scale between Light and Dark Side.  Dh played it as a Dark Side character to get the alternate story lines, and see how it changed the way the NPCs interacted with the player's character, but for some of these choices, he actually felt bad making them.  When I played and was faced with choices that would push the character towards the Dark Side, even when I *wanted* to explore that part of the game, I found I simply couldn't choose them.  It was curious to find myself responding this way, since making such choices affect only the game play and have no real world consequences.  Yet I still couldn't do it.

When KotOR II came out, we bought it immediately.  More obsessive playing. 

It was glorious!

There's only so many times you can play a game, however, and by the time I'd explored all the avenues that interested me, I promptly got bored with it and stopped playing.  Instead, I went back to my empire building PC games.  Eventually, however, we upgraded computers and the old games no longer worked on them, and we weren't willing to spend the money to buy the newest versions. 

I still like playing Civ II, but it's too obsolete to play on our current desktop, though I'm sure there are online versions available I can get.  I miss Alpha Centauri, too.  That was a good game.

I haven't touched the Xbox in ages, and while I can play Empire Earth on our current computer, I can't install the expansion version (lost the registration key), and I now find it very boring.

Instead, I play Facebook games.

When I first got on Facebook, I had no interest in getting any apps or games, but somewhere along the line, I discovered Hatchlings and started playing it. Before long, I was trading game tips and tricks with other people to get as many eggs as possible, feed all the hatchlings with only one egg, and get the rarest of eggs.  When I was playing it the most, I would sometimes have two or three browsers up, each with 20-30 tabs open, using keyboard shortcuts to go through all the tabs as quickly as possible to get the eggs before someone else did. I never reached number one on the local leader boards, but I was able to get into the top 10.  It was not unusual to find me up in the wee hours of the morning, hunting eggs on Facebook.

After a while, though, it got to be just too much.  Too many new eggs, too many levels, too many hatchlings to feed.  My play time dropped to just enough to keep my hatchlings fed, to allowing the hungry hatchlings to run away, to not playing at all anymore and blocking it from my feed.

There were a couple of other games I started playing as well, but only two others really caught my attention.  Frontierville and Farmandia.

I had not intended to get into any of the "ville" games, but I'd accidentally clicked on "accept" on an invite instead of "cancel."  Once I was in, I figured I may as well give it a try.

Before I knew it, I was playing it for hours at a time.  As I increased in levels, new goals required more "neighbours," which required adding people to my friends list.  I ended up adding about a hundred people I didn't know to get enough neighbours (though I vetted them somewhat).  Hour after hour was spent tending my own Frontier, then visiting my neighbours - all of them - to tend their crops and help them reach their quest goals, too. 

As the game play increased, with larger and larger Frontiers, I found myself spending more time waiting for things to load then actual playing.  Ah, well.  That's what tabs are for.  While the game was loading, I'd be catching up on my email or reading the news or something in other tabs.  Then they added the Pioneer Trails.  Never really liked that one as much, and especially didn't like how long the game took to switch from one area to another.  At Halloween, they added a whole other town.

By the time Halloween arrived, I'd stopped playing it altogether, and blocked the game from my feed.  I also unfriended most of the people I'd added to my list because they were there only for gaming.  I kept some of them, though.  I've actually met some really great people through Facebook games!

Now, I'm down to just the one Facebook game, Farmandia.  I like this one because I can set it to do things, then open other tabs and do something productive while the game plays itself in the background.  I have only one "neighbour" that actively plays it.  I've levelled up ridiculously high, but without more neighbours, there are certain areas I can't advance in.  I also limit myself to visiting the game only once or twice a day.

So you'd think I am done with gaming, right?


We picked up a tablet not long ago, and I upgraded my phone to something with a wi-fi hotspot so we can go online with it even when in areas without free wi-fi.  As long as I can get a cell signal, I can go online.  Tablets and phones, of course, come with apps.  I ended up downloading a Solitaire app. 

And discovered Forty Thieves.

How did I never encounter this game before? 

Which means that I now sometimes find myself lying in bed with either my phone or the tablet, playing Forty Thieves in the wee hours of the morning!

Now, for all the gaming that I and my family do, none of us are "addicted" to games.  We are obsessed with them, sure, and spend way too much time playing them.  Time that, arguably, be much better spent elsewhere. 

Game detractors dismiss these not only as time wasters (which I would have a hard time arguing against) but as harmful.  Especially for children.  Video games were being portrayed as being the cause of violence, ADD/ADHD, obesity, laziness, and general dysfunctional behaviour.  "Experts" write books and articles about the evils of gaming (making a pretty penny to do it, too), just as they did for DnD, heavy metal music and TV in years past.

Can gaming become a problem?  Absolutely.  When gaming takes over a person's life completely, it can definitely be a problem.  The mistake being made, however, is blaming the game for this.  If the games themselves were the problem, all people who played them would show these signs.  Of all the misconceptions and myths about gaming, this idea that the games themselves are addictive and causing harm is dishonest and misleading.  They may be part of the problem, but the are not THE problem.

There is no doubt that people, adults and children, develop an unhealthy obsession with gaming.  But who defines what that limit is in any individual?  How much is too much?  Dh, in his WoW gaming, has got to know some other players outside of the game, too.  One has become a pretty good friend.  She's a nurse, with husband and family, who plays the game obsessively.  Is she playing too much?  I have no idea.  Another gamer friend also played obsessively, but he also recognised him himself an addictive personality.  He ended up turning his account, with everything in it, over to Dh and stepped away from game playing  completely and almost all computer activity as well.  They still keep in contact, and this guy is really turning his life around and getting ahead. 

Did WoW cause all the problems he was having?  No.  He had the problems first, and obsessive game playing was simply a symptom that helped reveal the problem to him.

The more we learn about addictions, the more it become clear that there are people who, for some reason (which seems to have a strong hereditary component) become easily addicted.  Where one person can go out and get drunk every weekend and never become an alcoholic, the addictive personality is endangered by a single drink.  Some people can smoke for years, then quit cold turkey without any side effects.  Others are never able to quit, no matter how hard they try.

People don't just get addicted to "bad" things.  Anything can become a source of addiction.  Here's just a list of things, off the top of my head, that people become addicted to.

Video games
musical genres
arts and crafts
eating "healthy" (orthorexia)
keeping up with the Joneses
social causes

That's just a short list.  The point is that people can become addicted to just about anything.  Some of these things, however, are considered "good" and others "bad."  I contend that, whether someone is so addicted with being "healthy" they starve themselves to death, or someone buy so much yarn their houses are jammed and their bills aren't being paid, they are not really any different than someone addicted to alcohol or cigarettes. 

So for parents, what about when it comes to our own children? 

My personal philosophy is that, in the end, even kids who are absolutely obsessed with games and gaming are going to be fine.  They're going to get bored of them and move on eventually.  Or, they might end up becoming game designers and start their own companies.  Who knows?

A concern that had been brought up is that gaming affects developing brains.  Well of course they do!  So does everything else.  But gaming doesn't *cause* the addiction.  It reveals it. 

So when does a parent know it's time to intervene?  At what point does an obsession with an activity cross over to being harmful?  That is up to the individual.  You, as a parent, know your child best. What is a problem for one child may not be for another. 

Our personal philosophy has been to give our kids a lot of autonomy.  We made sure they knew what certain things were expected of them (we expected them to do their chores, eat regular meals, and get out and about for fresh air and sunshine, for some examples).  Beyond that, we left them free to make their own decisions.  We didn't always like the choices they made, but they were theirs to make.  Only rarely did we have to put our foot down and tell the kids it was time to stop, get off the game, put down the book, or whatever, and move on to something else.  I honestly can't remember the last time we had to do that.

This would not have worked for a friend of mine.  She recognised an addictive personality in herself.  Her sister is addicted to TV, and she knew she herself could easily fall into that trap, so she didn't watch it at all.   She had a computer, but it was almost never used.  She recognised the same response in her daughter, so she allowed only rare times of TV watching (movies, actually, as they did not have access to any channels where they lived).  As her daughter got older, she was able to cautiously allow more screen time.

She knew her own limits, and she knew her daughter's limits.  It wasn't TV that caused the problem.  The risk was there, with or without TV or computers. By using controlled exposure, she was able to teach her daughter how to control her addictive tendencies towards anything with a screen, something I never had to do.

That's the call we parents have to make.

Now excuse me.  I have some crops to harvest.

When things turn out better then you think

You know those times then all sorts of things go wrong at once, and it all seems to be falling apart?  You know what's nice?  When all those things turn out to not be anywhere near as bad as you were afraid they were!

Like just about everywhere in Western Canada, we've gone from an incredibly mild winter to a sudden deep freeze.  It's a bit of a shock to go from temperatures as high as +8C during the day, with no wind chill, to -25C with windchills bringing it down to -40C or so.  Nasty stuff!

A few days back, after some delays, I finally got to doing our major shopping.  We usually do a big grocery shopping trip every other Friday, buying things in bulk to last us a while, then only needing to do small trips during the week for things like milk and such.  Now that I teach crochet classes on Fridays, I don't have the time to do the major errands, so it gets pushed aside for a few days.  This time, that meant doing the shopping on Sunday.  The temperatures had already started to drop by then, but not severely, yet.

First, a trip to Costco to get the big stuff.  We took our time about it, and I'm glad we did, as we found a really nice folding chair for Eldest to use the next time she's selling her paintings in her booth.  We'd been using folding camp chairs.  They're a bit low and have seats that are slightly rounded, so getting in and out of them when a potential customer walks in is rather ungainly.  This chair, unfolded, looks like a regular dining room chair, so it'll be perfect.

After getting all the stuff we use Costco for, we had to stop at a different grocery store on the way home to get the stuff we need that Costco either doesn't carry, or aren't worth getting there.  Sometimes, their bulk quantities are just a bit too much! 

That done, we head home with a very full van.  Rather then park in our spot and make numerous trips carrying ungainly things across the street, I usually pull in near our front steps, which has me facing the wrong way on the side of the street, so we have to be fast about it..  I unload the van to the first landing of the stairs, Eldest takes stuff up the stairs to inside the door and Youngest takes the stuff from her to the kitchen.  I then quickly park the van in our spot and, if there's still stuff left outside, help Eldest haul the last of it in.  Usually, it's all in by the time I'm parked.

Now, we did have a cold spell before this winter.  Just a few days of extremely cold temperatures that had us bringing the stray cat and her kitten on our balcony indoors, even though we're not allowed to have more then 2 pets.  They wouldn't have survived those temperatures.  This means that we also set up the extension cord for our block heater and battery warmer.  We plugged the van in for all of two nights, I think, but left the cord out, wrapped around the driver's side mirror.   So it's not like plugging in would have been inconvenient.  I just wasn't in the habit of doing it yet.

Perhaps you already see where this is going.

Sure enough, I didn't think to plug the van in after parking it.

That night, temperatures plummeted.

Dh has been having a lot of troubles with his back since before Christmas.  Totally laid him out with massive amounts of pain.  Things have improved, but I have been driving him to work in the mornings.  He used to usually walk in, which he can't do right now, and even taking the bus would be very unpleasant.  More so in the mornings then the afternoon, so he's good to take the bus home now and again, but it's still not a good thing.

Monday morning, I go to start the van to drive him to work.  I chastised myself for forgetting to plug in the van, but we've had it unplugged last winter in similarly cold weather, so I wasn't too worried.  In I go and turn the key.  The engine started to turn over and


I immediately turn the ignition off again.  What the heck was that?  I try again.  The engine starts to turn over and...


I stop trying to start the van, concerned that my attempts to start it were causing more damage.  Back in I go (after plugging the van in, belatedly) and tell Dh what's happened.  This leaves him in a rush to get to the bus stop to get to work.

After looking at the forecast and seeing that temperatures were only going to drop further, I ended up cancelling Youngest's guitar lesson.  I had originally thought to drive her to her lesson and just drop her off, but that was obviously not an option anymore.  We usually walk it, but with the temperatures as low as they were, even a 15 minute walk is rather dangerous.

Some time later, after giving the block heater and battery warmer some time to do their thing, I did try the van again, and the same thing happened.  It was thoroughly dead.

But what happened?

We've had some very bad experiences when it comes to vehicles and breakdowns.  The most severe was when we rented a car in Victoria, BC, to drive to Manitoba and surprise our family for Christmas.  We stopped in Saskatoon, SK for the night, on a night when temperatures hit -61C with the wind chill.  Long story short, the engine block cracked.  Other adventures include dropping a valve and damage caused by what turned out to be unethical garage mechanics who "repaired" our vehicle, but drained it of fluids.

As you can imagine, I was expecting the worst.  From the noise, my thoughts were that the starter was blown.  Unfortunately, we didn't have the money in budget to take the vehicle into the garage.  Sure, damage would most likely be covered by the insurance we'd bought, but even then the insurance doesn't cover everything, and I wasn't going to send the van in if we didn't have the funds to cover anything unexpected like that.

The next day, the van was still quite dead.  Unfortunately, busing to and from work in the cold on the Monday wrecked Dh's back again, so he worked from home.  Wednesday, he was better so he bused in again. 

Talking to the folks at work, someone suggested that it might just be the battery, and that all we needed was a boost.  That hadn't occurred to me.  The noise had me thinking starter, but there was also power to the dashboard lights and such.  We've had batteries die on us before, and when they did, nothing worked at all.  I decided to call our roadside assistance to have a tow truck come and give us a boost.  This roadside assistance was one of the selling features when we got the van, so I didn't think there would be an issue.  As far as I knew, we were covered for the length of our contract, which is 5 years.

Of course, things are never so simple.

It turns out that our van's roadside assistance was still under the name of the previous owners - a company - and it expired in June.  So I talked to the dealership and had it changed to our name.  I called the roadside assistance back and...

It's still considered expired.  It seems we didn't actually get the roadside assistance we thought we did, because someone else had already bought it and it was still good for another 2 1/2 years, which no one told us about, so we had no idea about any sort of expiry.  Nothing in our paperwork said anything about it, other than listing the toll free number we were supposed to call if we needed roadside assistance.

Back to talking to the dealership.

After much time on the phone, I finally got to someone who could help me figure out it.  After explaining to me that we had only been covered by the previous owners buying a 5 year roadside assistance plan, which was now expired, and me being quite unhappy, I hear an exclamation from the woman I was speaking to.  Looking through our file, she found that yes, we were covered, but not through the roadside assistance program.  You know, the one with the toll free number on our paperwork, telling us to call it if we needed assistance.  Also the number on the free keychain they gave us, while touting roadside assistance as a selling feature.  No, that's not where we were covered.  You see, when we bought the van, we paid a bit extra for "new vehicle" coverage, as well as the highest version of repair insurance they had available. It turns out that this insurance company is also the company that provides us with roadside assistance.  The only place that toll free number was available was inside a pamphlet that I had to hunt for.  She also gave me the certificate number I would need when I called them - a number that was no where in our paperwork.


By the time all this was figured out, several hours had passed.  Meanwhile, I was on the computer, so I could check my news or whatever while on hold.

Part way through one of my calls, I lost my internet connection.

So while I was on the phone, I was also trying to repair my internet connection, which included restarting the modem, restarting the computer, and all the standard stuff to run through when such things happen.

No go.

My cell phone was still working, though (our cell phones are with the same company that provides our home internet), so I texted Dh and asked him if he could call our provider and find out if there were problems at their end, since I was still on the phone and couldn't call myself.

Eventually, he found out that our provider was having an area outage, so it wasn't just us, and likely due to the temperatures.  It was a hardware problem, too, so someone would have to physically go to the box for the area and do a repair.  They had no way of knowing how long it would take.

Frozen van, frozen internet.

By the time I finished up on the phone with the dealership, it was getting late enough in the day that I didn't want to call the insurance company's roadside assistance number.  We could wait until the next day.  As for our internet, it stayed down.  At this point, I was really glad I upgraded my phone to one with a wi-fi hotspot, because that became our way to go online.  I could use my phone or the tablet, but there's only so much you can do with those.  Touch screens just can't compare to using a keyboard for things.

I was really glad we got our grocery shopping done when we did, though.  If we hadn't, we would have been in a bit of a pickle.

Busing in had done a number of Dh's back again, so he was home from work on Thursday, but with no internet, he couldn't work from home.  He called again in the morning and found out they were having multiple failures, and they didn't know why they were happening.  I found out later that other providers were having troubles, too.  Not good.

Meanwhile, I called the insurance company and arranged to have a tow truck come out and give us a boost, hoping it was just the battery but fearing it was much worse.  It took over 2 hours for the truck to come, but I was sure glad to see him.  I told him that when he greeted me and asked how I was doing, too.  He laughed and told me he was getting a lot of people saying how happy they were to see him lately!  And no wonder.  This sort of weather means a lot of people are needing to call for assistance, and at times like that, there's nothing more beautiful then the site of a tow truck!

Anyhow, he hooks up the van, we give it a try and...

It starts immediately!!


Talking to the driver, he told me to leave it running for at least 20 minutes.  I did.  I headed back inside for a bit, but wasn't going to leave the van running and unattended, so I spent most of that time sitting in the van playing solitaire on my phone. *L*  I lost track of time and it ended up being more like 30 minutes.  I got back inside and went to plug my phone into it's USB cable to charge when I happened to look at the modem and discovered all the right lights were on.  Yay!! again!  We had internet! 

I knew I'd need to take the van for a run, but things needed to be done, so it was a couple of hours before we could head out.  Eldest asked to come along, so off we went to the van and...


Oh, no.

Sure enough, I'd waited too long and the van was once again dead.  Calling for roadside assistance again wasn't an option, as it's limited to one such call every 24 hours.  I went into our co-op's office and asked our administrator if she knew anyone we could get a boost from.  I found out that our maintenance guy will do that for members, which I really wish I'd known about the day before.  He only works for us 3 days a week, so he wasn't there.  She couldn't think of anyone else.

Someone I know on facebook happened to mention that cab drivers will boost cars for a fee, so I ended up calling a cab company and asking about it.  Sure enough, for a set fee you pay whether the vehicle starts or not, they will send a cab out to boost vehicles.  We arranged for it and off I went to the van to wait.  It took less then 10 mintues for the cab to arrive, which is shockingly quick.  It started without any problems.  This time, I was set up and ready to take it for a drive right away, just waiting long enough for Eldest to join me.  While doing my errands, I left the engine on, with Eldest in the van to make sure no one would drive off with it.  Then we went on a route march, taking a freeway across the city and back again, just to give the altinator more time to charge the battery.

The van has been working just fine ever since.

And I have been diligently remembering to plug it in, every time! LOL

It sure has been a relief to find the fix was so simple, and I am once again able to drive Dh to and from work.  It did make me think about how much we appreciate having it.  We went without a car for a couple of years, so it's not like we don't know how to make do without it.  It's just that things are so much better with it!

I like my van.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Starting Anew

Here we are, coming to a close of the first day of 2012 (at least in my time zone).  In my efforts to update this blog more often, here's what today has been like.

The main goal of the day was to get Youngest out for a driving lesson.  It had been my intention to take her to a nearby mall to practise in the empty parking lot.  Alas, the mall was open today, and quite busy, too!  So we went on a route march to find someplace else.  We ended up at the park we used to go to weekly park days with a local home school group.  It was actually busy, too, though there was a section of parking lot that was largely empty. So we went there and I got her do to some parking.  Just backing in and out in different directions and moving the van to different spots to park in.  I'd thought to let her drive on the road through the park, which has a 20kph speed limit and is one way, but there was a remarkable amount of traffic.  After she practised in the parking lot a few times, we were going to go somewhere else where she could do some straight driving.

As we went around the loop to the exit, however, I noticed that all that traffic we'd been seeing disappeared about half way around, and people pulled into various parking spaces.  The second half of the loop was pretty much empty.  So we went around again, then I pulled over and we switched places.

She was nervous driving, of course.  She was also following the speed limit. Which meant that we soon had vehicles coming up behind us, which made her more nervous.  Most people take the drive at 30-40kph rather than 20kph.  I have to admit, I usually do, too.  It's surprising hard to drive that slow.  Anyhow, she pulled into an empty parking area for a while to let cars go by, then we continued on.  Near the end of the drive there are three little parking areas in a row, and I got her to pull into the first one.  That wasn't done particularly well, so I got her to do it again and go into the second parking section.  That was a bit better.  We switched off and I demonstrated to clarify for her by pulling into the third section.  She'll need to get used to the feel of the van and where the tires are, and the more she drives, the more confident she will be.  For now, she just wants to do short little drives like we did today.  Will have to make a point of taking her out often.  She's got a minimum of 1 year on her beginners license to practise before she can take the test for the next level, so it's no hurry, but I still want to give her plenty of opportunities.

Besides that, it was a quiet day.  We were all up quite late with our New Year's activities.  The BBQing mostly worked.  Despite soaking the skewers for the kabobs, the first batch started to burn, so Eldest took them in and did the second batch under the broiler.  Then, just to be safe, she put the first batch in for a bit, too, as the shrimps were still looking a little blue.  They turned out great.  They were a real group project, too.  Youngest pre-cooked bacon half-strips.  Eldest cut up the veggies.  I wrapped scallops in bacon while Eldest put them together - each kabob had a piece of bell pepper, a prawn, a section of onion or shallot, a bacon wrapped scallop, and a chunk of mushroom.  Because the food tends to spin on the kabobs once they start cooking, we used two skewers per kabob.  When a few were ready, I started brushing them with olive oil; a job Youngest eventually took over.  That was all we did with them - not even salt or pepper was needed.  My goodness, they were tasty.

Though the kabobs on the bbq didn't quite work out, the steaks sure did.  Unfortunately, by the end of the day, only Dh was hungry enough for steak!  We'd had a cheese fondue earlier, as well as other small appetizer type snacks throughout the evening, and he'd had less of those than we did, so he was the only one not stuffed by the time the kabobs were eaten.  Then, before we could go to bed, the leftover scallops, shrimp and veggies needed to be cooked.  Eldest broiled the seafood, and the veggies were pan fried in the leftover bacon grease.  Soooo tasty!

Which meant that today, there were stacks of dirty dishes waiting to be done! *L*  Ah, well.  It was worth it!

With so much steak left over, however, I didn't bother cooking the turkey I was intending to do today.  Will have to do that tomorrow.

Looking forward to it! :-D