Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Simple Woman Daybook 161

FOR TODAY: June 30, 2015
You can find the more daybooks at Simple Woman's Blog.

Outside my window... a group of musicians jamming, I count three guitars at the moment.

I am thinking... campfire songs I use to sing in Girl Guides

I am thankful... meals cooked with friends.

I am wearing... cute strappy sandals, jeans, a girlie

I am creating...a card, I made a graduation card this week.

I am reading...Gossamer, Buried in a Book, and Kid President's Guide to being Awesome.

I am learning... to usher. Well, I will be soon, my friend is organizing the volunteers for the summer theater festival and she asked me if I could usher. I said yes, and the best part it gets me in to see both shows, which I was trying to figure out how to afford.

I am watching... Chef's Table

I want to cosplay (someday) as.... Black Canary

I am geeking out... upcoming Marvel movies

I am playing... Coup, Batman vs Joker, Wasabi, Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Thurn and Taxis and more. Friday I was hosting board games at Game Con (local two day convention) and Saturday was another all day gaming event with a small group of friends.
 

One of my favorite things... the drive in, I re-saw Jurassic World and Furious 7 this weekend.

In my kitchen... I am making a broccoli salad for tomorrow's Canada Day BBQ.

A favorite quote for today... "If things were different they would be different.'" -Patrick

A few plans for the rest of the week:... Canada Day celebrations tomorrow, different visits with friends planned, going to a church-plant Friday night, and a BBQ Saturday

A picture to share...


Daily Writing Warm-Up #30


Describe This
Time: 10 min

Describe the best gift you ever gave.

OR

Describe the worst gift you ever received.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Daily Writing Warm-Up #29


What If?
Time: 5 min

Asking what if is a great way to bring action, twists, and conflict to fiction. In that time, write as many what if that could add excitement, adventure, or storytelling possibilities to the scenario.

Today's situation is shopping.

  • What if the main character is broke?
  • What if she is trying to avoid someone in the store?
  • What if he is accused of shoplifting
  • What if...

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Daily Writing Warm-Up #28


Sentence Starters
Time: 10 min

Today's prompt is an exercise is from Naming the World and other Exercises for the Creative Writer, you can find it in the section of Daily Warm-Ups. Spend ten minutes finishing a paragraph that begins,

"Walking along a path at dawn, I..."

OR

"Coming up against bureaucratic rules, I..."


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Daily Writing Warm-Up #27


A List
Time: 5 min

Today's prompt is an exercise is from Naming the World and other Exercises for the Creative Writer, you can find it in the section of Daily Warm-Ups.

Spend five minutes listing fifty phrase that would make good titles for a novel.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Daily Writing Warm-Up #26


Five Words
Time: 15 min

Today's prompt is an exercise is from Naming the World and other Exercises for the Creative Writer, you can find it in the section of Daily Warm-Ups.

Write a scene that uses all of these words:

  • A flat tire.
  • An artist's easel.
  • A dog leash.
  • A motel key.
  • A broken window.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bowl of Stew(art)'s Movie Review List

Since December movie reviews have become a recurring feature of Bowl of Stew(art). As the number of movies critiqued continues to grow I thought it would be wise to compile list.

Family Movie Reviews
The Hobbit
Into the Woods

Friend Movie Reviews
Avengers: Age of Ultron with Alice, Aurora, and Donna
Cinderella with Donna and my Mom
Furious 7 with Aurora
Jurassic World with Beth, Clare, Clayton, Donna, Duane, Jenn, and Ross
The Martian with Aurora
Spectre with Alice and Aurora
Strange Magic with Aurora
Tomorrowland with Donna

Sister Movie Reviews
Civil War
Finding Dory
TMNT: Out of the Shadows with Liam

Daily Writing Warm-Up #25


A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words 
Time: 15 min

Use the picture below to inspire your warm-up writing. Set a timer for 15 minutes and write. Tell the story of what is happening in the image. Or use it to inspire a new story. For an added challenge try and write it as a short story in 1000 words.

Thank you to Aurora-Lee for permission to use her photo.

Ski Bunnies?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Rate the Fun: Love Letter

Tonight was a games night with my regular gaming group. So I thought it would be a great time for another Rate the Fun board game review. Today's game is Love Letter.

Love Letter is a great 20 minute card game for 2-4 player game created by Seiji Kanai. I find it is best for 3-4. There is text on the cards that explains its action, however it is easy to understand and memorize. The recommended age on Board Game Geek is 8 and up.

There are currently eight releases of the game, with two more on the way. The one I first encountered was the Tempest Edition, set in the fictional European-esque court in the city state of Tempest. This is the game explanation from the publisher, Alderac's website:
In the wake of the queen’s arrest, all the eligible young men of Tempest (and many not so young) seek to woo Princess Annette. Unfortunately, she has locked herself in the palace, and everyone must rely on those within the palace to bring their romantic letters to her. Will yours reach her first?

Love Letter is a game of risk, deduction, and luck for 2–4 players. Your goal is to get your love letter into Princess Annette's hands while deflecting the letters from competing suitors. From a deck with only sixteen cards, each player starts with only one card in hand; one card is removed from play. On a turn, you draw one card, and play one card, trying to expose others and knock them from the game. Powerful cards lead to early gains, but make you a target. Rely on weaker cards for too long, however, and your letter may be tossed in the fire!
I own the Love Letter: Legend of the Five, it is the exact same game with a Japanese Imperial court aesthetic. In it the suitors are samurai clans who hope to control Japan with a politically advantageous marriage. What is neat about but this versions is the back story for card characters, which you can read on the Alderc site.




Good Stuff:
  • Love Letter only has sixteen cards making it simple to carry, set up, and teach.
  • The whole game fits into a drawstring pouch that holds the 16 cards, 4 expiation cards, the rules, and cubes. It is compact and easy to carry. In fact, I keep my copy in a side pocket in my purse so that it is with me everywhere I go. You never know when you'll want to play a game.
  • The size also makes it easy to play just about anywhere. I find it is the perfect game to play while waiting for a meal at a restaurant. I've even used sugar packs instead of the cubes that made clean up even easier.
  • There are so many versions of Love Letter that I think there is a theme that would interest any gamer.
Less Than Good Stuff:
  • It only plays two-four people, I often have five people wanting to play.
  • This is a petty complaint, I dislike the plan cubes in the base games of Love Letter. I am jealous of the bat signals in the Batman Love Letter and the gems in the Hobbit version. I've seen some neat fan-made versions including clay hearts and tiny letters, which I obviously need to do.
  • With so many nest themes, and slight variations, it is tempting to want more types of Love Letter, at least I want more but I don't need to own them all. 
Other Versions:
  • Love Letter: Kanai Factory, using the original art from when it was first published in Japan
  • Love Letter: Wedding edition, only available from the publisher, and is "the perfect gift for guests or wedding party"
  • Letters to Santa, a Christmas themed edition
  • Munchkin Loot Letter, it's Love Letter with out the icky romance
  • Love Letter: Batman Edition
  • Love Letter: the Hobbit Edition
  • Love Letter: Adventure Time, coming soon
  • Archer: once you go blackmail, also coming soon
I've only played the Tempest and Japanese version, so I was curious about the Batman and Hobbit themes. I always thought they would be the exact same game with a new look. After watching this video critique by Crits Happen, I learned that is not true. Both have a twist that makes the game different and fresh. Now I want to play/own both.

 
Final Thoughts:
I like Love Letter a lot. It makes a great filler while waiting for food or on a games day while others wrap up their game. But it is also something I play just because it is fun. I strongly recommend it. If you do buy a copy, consider getting card sleeves to protect the game.
 
Rate the Fun Score: 7.8
You can find the list of rated games and the Rate the Fun score guide here.

Daily Writing Warm-Up #24


Let's Talk
Time: 10 min

Choose one of the following scenarios to write a conversation between neighbors.

1) asking to borrow an item.

2) sharing subdivision gossip.

OR

3) property line dispute.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Daily Writing Warm-Up #23


Describe This
Time: 10 min

Describe a coffee shop you enjoy.

OR

Describe a room you hate.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Simple Woman Daybook 160

FOR TODAY: June 22, 2015
You can find the more daybooks at Simple Woman's Blog.

Outside my window... post rain evening.

I am thinking...about story ideas.

I am thankful... my sister.

I am wearing...a slowly skirt and a black shirt.

I am creating...a new writing challenge for July.

I am reading... U is for Undertoe, Buried in a Book, and Kid President's Guide to being Awesome.

I am learning...patience.

I am watching...Moribito: Guardian of the Spirt

I want to cosplay (someday) as....Sophie from Howl's Moving Castle.

I am geeking out on...new DC Deck-Building expansion.

I am playing...the DC Deck-Building Crisis version and Splendor.

One of my favorite things...is games days.

In my kitchen...I baked cupcakes for Operation Cupcake


A favorite quote for today... "And as we say in my home town, 'Don't forget to be awesome.'" -John Green

A few plans for the rest of the week:... I'm seeing a school play of Wizard of OZ tomorrow and games Wednesday. There is a Game-Con happening this weekend that I am going to check out Friday followed by more games Saturday.

A picture to share...
 

July Daily Writing Warm-Up Challenge

The first month of the Daily Writing Warm-Up Challenge is almost over. I have really enjoyed hosting my first challenge, It seems to have been well received; thank you to everyone whose left comments, liked on Facebook, or said something at the coffee shop.

I am hoping to keep the momentum going by hosting through the Daily Writing Warm-Up Challenge through the summer. There are a few tweaks from the June version (and there may be more in August.)

How The Challenge Works:
Starting July 1st, a new daily writing warm-up exercise will be available week mornings at 6am. These prompts are intended to be a start to a writing session, similar to a musician practicing scales.

I personally haven't developed a daily writing habit, so there are some days where the writing warm-up isn't my starting place. It is my only writing. That is okay too.

The Changes:
Last month there was a warm-up prompt everyday. For July, I will only be posting exercises Monday to Friday. The weekends are days to rest or to catch up on a missed warm-up or two. The other change is to the participation levels.

How To Participate:
1. Choose a Goal
The overall purpose of this challenge is to improve daily writing habits. The levels are there to challenge you to write more often then you currently are.
Tin: Write 1 day a week -5 completed writing warm-ups
Bronze: Write 2 days a week -10 completed writing warm-ups
Silver: Write 3 days a week -15 completed writing warm-ups
Gold: Write 4 days a week -19 completed writing warm-ups
Platinum: Write 5 days a week -23 completed writing warm-ups
2. Sign Up
Signing up isn't necessary but it is helpful. Having others know you are participating in the challenge, even if it is strangers, helps keep you motived to keep your commitment. To sign-up leave a comment below along with your challenge level. You can sign up from now till July 10th.

3. Write
There will be a new prompt every day in June. Use them as your warm-up writing exercise to meet your goal.

4. Share
On days you use the prompt, leave a comment sharing your success. It can be as simple as "I did it." Or you can share your track record 5 out of 20 accomplished. If you have a blog where you share writing leave a link to the corresponding results.

My Goal:
I am trying for the gold level, but (not so) secretly am I wanting to achieve the full 23 days of writing.

Daily Writing Warm-Up #22


What If?
Time: 5 min

Asking what if is a great way to bring action, twists, and conflict to fiction. In that time, write as many what if that could add excitement, adventure, or storytelling possibilities to the scenario.

Today's situation is going on a road trip.

  • What if the car breaks down?
  • What if the wrong address was put in the GPS?
  • What if the people on the trip are fighting?
  • What if they aren't traveling by car?
  • What if...

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Daily Writing Warm-Up #21


Sentence Starters
Time: 10 min

Today's prompt is an exercise is from Naming the World and other Exercises for the Creative Writer, you can find it in the section of Daily Warm-Ups. Spend ten minutes finishing a paragraph that begins,

"This morning I couldn't find..."

OR

"What I saw in the sky was..."


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Daily Writing Warm-Up #20


A List
Time: 5 min

Today's prompt is an exercise is from Naming the World and other Exercises for the Creative Writer, you can find it in the section of Daily Warm-Ups.

Spend five minutes listing verbs and nouns that have to do with the ocean.


Friday, June 19, 2015

Daily Writing Warm-Up #19


Five Things
Time: 15 min

Today's prompt is an exercise is from Naming the World and other Exercises for the Creative Writer, you can find it in the section of Daily Warm-Ups.

Write a scene that uses all of these words:
  • A stained rug.
  • A missing photograph.
  • A Tiffany lamp.
  • A walking cane.
  • A cassette tape. (or CD)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Operation Cupcake

Today is my not-so-baby baby sister's 15th birthday. I wanted to do something special to celebrate with her even though we are separated by three provinces. My plan "Operation Cupcake" inspired by Kid President.

A week ago I started reading Kid President's Guide to Being Awesome. Step #25 is "celebrate somebody's birthday by celebrating other people." One year Brad's (the adult part of Kid President and brother-in-law) hadn't gotten him anything for his birthday. Instead he had given people cupcakes. Then took pictures of the people with their cupcakes and a birthday sign. Through out the day Brad received these birthday photos.

I thought the idea was perfect so at 5am, Lee-Ann got the first of 25 text photos:


Then till 10-ishpm she received pictures of people celebrating her birthday. Most were people Lee-Ann didn't know, some were even people I didn't know (until I offered them a cupcake). But no one turned down the chance to wish my sister a happy birthday (a few returned the cupcake for dietary reasons.) Thank you to everyone who was involved! Here are a few of the people that took part in Operation Cupcake:

  
 
 This was the last photo sent at 10:20 pm.

The Operation Cupcake Strategy:
Phase 1: Bake Cupcakes
I enlisted my friend Colette's help. I have no memory of ever making cupcakes (Mom you can correct me if I am wrong.) I remember making cookies, and I remember baking cakes but no cupcakes. So this was a first.
 
Phase 2: Decorate the Cupcakes 
Colette was the prefect icing instructor. This was my first attempt:
I got better:

 
Phase 3: Involve the Parental-Units
Lee-Ann doesn't have a cell phone so I called home yesterday and arranged for Mom to let Lee-Ann have her phone for the day.
 
Phase 4: Recruitment

With the cupcakes ready, I made the birthday sign and began asking people to participate in Operation Cupcake.
 
Phase 5: Celebration
These last to stages overlapped a bit. I sent the photos to sister through out the day while I was still sharing cupcakes and taking pictures.
 
The whole project was a lot of fun. If you were one of the people who joined in on Operation Cupcake, I want to say thank you again. And Lee-Ann....
 Happy Birthday Sister!

We Need To Talk

Yesterday's writing warm-up prompt was to carry a dialog between a couple. The subject could be a pregnancy announcement, a confrontation about a secret, or a break up. This was my results:

We need to talk.

That’s never a good sign.

No, it’s a good talk, I promise.

You don’t really have a great track record with promises.

What do you mean?

Last week you promised to return the movies and didn’t.

I apologized and covered the late fees.

Fine, but then you didn’t do the dishes, that’s another broken promise.

You’re still upset about that. I told you I forgot because of the doctor’s appointment, that you knew I was stressed about. And I have washed them every night this week. It was a one time mistake.

Convenient how many wrongs get covered by that one phrase “a one time mistake.” You know, I saw you yesterday at the cafe. I was going to stop in and say hi till I saw you meeting another man. I saw your embrace and then you were holding hands. I am sure that was just another one time mistake. But mistakes have consequences and they hurt other people. I have never felt so betrayed. I have never felt so cold.

It’s not what you think.

Of course you’re going to say that. Face it, you were caught and we are over. I can’t trust you anymore. I’ve already packed my things. I’ll be by later for the rest of my things.

I…

Don’t even try. There is nothing you can say that will change my mind or repair the damage you’ve caused.

How about the truth? That guy was my brother. I was telling him the news I was trying to tell when I first walked in.

Yeah, right, what did you have to say?

We’re pregnant.

Daily Writing Warm-Up #18


A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words 
Time: 15 min

Use the picture below to inspire your warm-up writing. Set a timer for 15 minutes and write. Tell the story of what is happening in the image. Or use it to inspire a new story. For an added challenge try and write it as a short story in 1000 words.

Thank you to Aurora-Lee for permission to use her photo.

Splish Splash

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Jane Austen, Me, and My Addiction

I was up past 3 am last night. Sounds like I have a very active party life. The reality is, I was watching the BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries, the one with Colin Firth. Not so bad until I admit that I did something similar Firday night. I was still watching episodes of a Jane Austen inspired webseries (it's fantastic) when dawn arrived.

There is something magical about the stories Austen told. I even enjoy the spin off stories, adaptations, and modernizations. I just picked up Lost in Austen and All Roads Lead to Austen from the library. And last week I watched Austenland and Bride and Prejudice with a friend. I think I have a problem.

I don't really have a solution, especially since the fictitious Austenland immersion experience isn't an option. This post is just me confessing that I am on an all-thinks-Austen-spree and share the two webseries I am enjoying the most.

My current Austen binge started when YouTube suggested I watch The Lizzie Bennet Diaries again. I first watched the whole web-series over a two years ago. It's so much fun, if you like Pride and Prejudice I highly recommend it:
Through that series I discovered Emma Approved, which is equally wonderful and I think my favourite adaptation of Emma. It took me a few episodes to like Emma. Mr. Knightly is perfect from the start. By the end of the third episode I was hook. This is what lead to Friday's all night binge.
So much fun!

So that's what's going on in my world. Do you have any re-occurring obsessions? What is your favourite Jane Austen novel? Do you have a book or movie adaptation I should try? Please leave a comment below. Any recommendations on managing this current novel addiction are also welcome.

On Being Lost

Yesterday's writing warm-up was to describe what it is like to be lost or on finding something that was lost. I was happy with the results enough to share them. I am realising I need to get over my fears of sharing my fiction:
There is a certain insecurity driving in a strange city. Anxiety builds with each passing car, each turn, and each kilometer. Doubts and second-guessing are my copilots.

Is this the right way? Did I miss my turn? What street am I on? What street am I looking for? Was that my turn?

The questions breed more fear as the impatient cars are forced to follow me. Morning commuters do not lend ease to driving unknown roads. The traffic speeds by with confidence while I creep along attempting to find poorly marked street signs.

It isn’t until I am in the middle of the intersection, past the point of turning, that I realize the road I need to be on was this right turn. My printed directions are now useless as the street I need fades in the rear view mirror.

The panic tears can not be stopped. Breathing has become difficult as the realization of doom floods over me. There is no map or helpful recalculating GPS. There is nowhere to turn around and no way I will make my meeting. I am lost and only able to continue forward the wrong way.

Daily Writing Warm-Up #17


Let's Talk
Time: 10 min

Choose one of the following scenarios to write a conversation between a couple.

1) on discovering they are going to have baby.

2) on a lie one has been caught in.

OR

3) on their break-up.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tuesday Tutorial: Pool Noodle Horses

A few weeks ago I helped a friend make pool noodle horses for a western themed party. I first saw the idea on Pinterest in 2013 while preparing for Kingdom Rock (medieval themed VBS). The original inspiration and tutorial can be found at Mrs. King's Music Room: Making Swimming Noodle Ponies

Tip:
Storing pool noodle horses can be a challenge. We had 12 horses for Kingdom Rock and found storing them in a new (clean) garbage was best. To add to the theme I printed a "royal stable" sign that the kids thought was hilarious.

Supplies: 
  • larger (thicker) pool noodles. It was harder to find the large pool noodles this year. We tried four stores before success at Canadian Tire.
  • rope or cord. This is to keep the head folded in place and act visually at a bridal. The first time we used a green plastic type yarn meant for macro-may. We used hemp on the most recent horses.  
  • googly eyes. We found the largest googly eyes at Michael's. 
  • felt (9x12). This is for the ears and hair. I liked the felt to match but any colour will do. 
  • adhesive. This is preference, in 2013 we used low-heat hot glue guns. The recent horses were made with extra strength glue dots.
  • an extra set of hands. It is probably possible to make the horses by yourself but I found step one went smoother with someone holding and the other person tying. 

 

Step 1: Fold and Tie the Head
One person needs to bend the top of the noodle down to the desired horse head size. The second person will wrap the cord around and tie it tight. I used Mrs. King's suggestion and left some cord to act like reigns.
  
In 2013 it bothered me that there was a gap between the the head and body. I tired to fix the space with hot glue. It was a bad idea. The glue wasn't strong enough to keep the sides together and it looked like the horse deformed. This time we just let the space be and the horses turned out much better.

Step 2: Prepare the Felt
One sheet of felt makes the ears and mane for one horse. I cut a 2 inch strip for the ears and the remaining felt for the hair.
Step 3: Cut the Ears and Manes
To make the ears I folded the "ear strips" in half so that the short ends lined up and cut triangles.
 
The "mane felt" was folded so that the long ends lined up before cutting the design. In 2013 all the horses had the same style mane. This year I gave each on an original look.

 
I think I liked how the orange and pink turned out the best. I forgot to take pictures of the blue pony.


Step 4: Attach the Eyes, Ears, and Manes
Eyes: add your adhesive to the back of the eyes and place them where they look the best. I find the hot glue worked best. Two year's later most of the horses still have their eyes while the glue dot eyes fell off  before the end of the party.
Ears: I slide the ears between the body-head gap then wiggled the felt into place. To have the ears stay up I added glue along to the sides of the ears to stick to the noodle. With the felt the hot glue and the glue dots worked about the same.

Mane: I added a row of adhesive down the centre of the mane and then attached it to the top of the noodle.

Step 5: Let the Kids Have Fun.

Ideas, Tips, and Final Thoughts:


  • If I made another set I will use a combination of adhesives. Defensively hot glue for the eyes.
  • If you are going to be using your noodle horses in a pool I would suggest trying a fabric other then felt. Water and felt do not get along.
  • I already gave my storage suggestion (garbage can) at the top of the page. Do you have a different method for storing your pool noodle horses? Please share in the comments.
  • If you want to see more Tuesday Tutorials you can find them all here