Sunday, August 26, 2012

Slender Game Review

My boyfriend's college friend introduced us to the game Slender last night. Slender is a FREE online first person horror game. The goal of the game is to wander through the foggy woods searching for 8 pieces of paper before the Slender Man gets you. The Slender Man is a paranormal entity that drains your sanity the closer you are to him. The website explains the legend of the Slender Man. He reminds me of the Midnight Man, which is another urban legend.

The Midnight Man is said to be part of a Pagan ritual to punish people. I don't believe it's Pagan because I've read a lot of books on Paganism and know a few Pagans. It sounds like a Bloody Mary game to scare people. Basically, you do a simple ritual to summon the Midnight Man and have to keep moving around in the dark  from 12:01am to 3:33am with only a candle as your light source. If the Midnight Man is near you, your candle will go out, you'll feel chills, hear whispers, or see him. If the Midnight Man catches you, you'll get hallucinations of your worst fears. See how these are similar?

Anyways, before you start the game, make sure it's night time and that your sound is on. I encountered the Slender Man 5x before I was caught. 3x I saw him. One of the times I found an abandoned car, and when I was looking through one side he was on the other, which was very cool/creepy. 2x he was just near me and my screen would get static. It is really hard to find the notes in the game, and he is definitely tailing you the whole time.

Here's some reactions to the game!



Anyways, I thought Slender was a good suspenseful game and I would definitely play again. The concept is really simple and effective. I hope you get as much fun out of the game as I did.

Happy Gaming :)
~Steff~

Monday, August 20, 2012

Let's Play with Rosé

A rosé (rosado in Spanish or rosato in French) is a red wine that had the grape skins removed early on in the fermentation process. So, it's a red wine with a white wine's personality. This gives the wine a light pinkish hue. It is not to be confused with a blush wine, which is sweetened with sugar.

The colors vary from pink to salmon to orange to brown, depending on age. Refer back to this blog on how to walk through a wine.

It can be made from a variety of grapes from various regions. I am going to walk through a couple rosés in this post.

The first rosé is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Carignan grapes from the Rhone region in France. It has an orange hue signifying it is older. Upon swirling, the legs/drips, I can determine that the alcohol content is 13.5% (average speed of drip). On the nose, it has an earthy berry smell which confirms it is an Old World wine. On the palate, it is dry with an acidic effect. This wine is best served at room temperature, especially with the acidity.

The next rosé  is also a blend from the Rhone region. This wine has a salmon color, so it is younger than the previous. On the nose, it smells of strawberries and rain. Again this wine has an acidic effect. The reason some wines have a high acidity is because they are meant to be paired with food. The acidity will enhance the flavors of the dish.

The final rosé is a blend of Merlot, Zinfandel, and Syrah from Sonoma Valley California. This 2009 wine is salmon in color. The legs suggest 14% alcohol content. This wine has a fruity characteristic indigenous to New World wines. More specifically this wine smells and tastes of strawberries.

As you probably noticed, I describe wines without disclosing brand names. This is because brands are unimportant. What's important is to learn the vintage, grape, and region because the characteristics are going to be similar.

Happy drinking :)
~Steff~

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Wine 101

"Here's to the corkscrew- a useful key to unlock the store house of wit, the treasury of laughter, the front door of fellowship, and the gate of pleasant folly"- W.E.P. French

I am a member of the Wine Century Club and I love wine. My love of wine started when I stumbled into a wine store (FLOW) and met 2 sommeliers/musicians (Allan and K). The store offered 2-3 wine classes a week for $5 each. At wine class, Allan and K introduced me to the Wine Century Club application (where you have to try at least 100 grape varietals, to become a member). Each class offered tastings of 10-15wines (which you walked through each wine), a discount on wine, occasional cheese/bread/chocolate pairings, and of course laughter. Needless to say I was in their store a lot.
A few months later, I filled out my application, and became a member.

Veni Vino Vici!

The grapes I've tried so far are:
Aglianico (my 100th grape), Airen, Albarino, Alicante Bouchet, Bacchus, Barbera, Blaufrankisch, Bombino Bianco, Bonarda, Brachetto, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cargnan, Carmenere, Castelao, Catwba, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Cinsaut, Concord, Cortese, Trincadreia, Duras, Braucol, Montepulciano, Mourvedre, Muller Thurgau, Muscadelle, Muscat Blanc, Muscat de Alexandria, Nebbiolo, Negroamaro, Nero D'Avola, Niagara, Parellada, Petit Manseng, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Prosecco, Reisling, Rondinella, Corvina, Dolcetto, Falanghina, Fer, Frappato, Freisa, Friulano, Gaglioppo, Gamay, Garganega, Gewurztraminer, Godello, Graciano, Grechetto, Grenache/Garnacha, Gros Manseng, Gruner Veltliner, Harslevelu, Kadarka, Lambrusco, Macabeo, Malbec, Malvasia, Marsanne, Mauzac, Melon de Bourgogne, Merlot, BlaurZweigelt, Jacquere, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Seyval Blanc, St. Laurent, Syrah/Shiraz, Tannat, Tempranillo, Tinta Barroca, Torrontes, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Trebbiano/Ugni Blanc, Verdejo, Verdelho, Verdicchio, Vermaccia, Vignoles, Viognier, Xarel-Lo, Zinfandel/Primitivo, Zweigelt, Nosiola, Pecorino, Passerina, Abouriou, Viura, Carinena, Zibibbo, Tinta Roriz, Huxelrebe, Mario Muskat, Cayuga

Other fruit wines I've tried are:
Blueberry, Elderberry, Pear, Apple

Special wines I've tried are:
Ice Wine, Beaujouleis Nouveau

Wine 101
When trying wines, you should go in this order
Rose to Red to White to Dessert
Order affects the taste of the wines (bear with me on the no accent marks)

Order of walking through a wine
Appearance to Smell to Taste

1. Appearance
Color can determine the age/varietal of the wine. I ordered the colors from youngest to oldest. There will be varieties between each color. I look at the color on the rim.
Rose: light pink to salmon to orange to brown
White: colorless to lemon to green to gold to amber to brown
Red: purple to fuchsia to ruby to garnet to tawny to brown

Looking at the core can determine the amount of tannins (bitterness) in the wine. The darker the core, the more tannic the wine is. 

Is there sediment in the wine? This can either mean that the wine was unfiltered during the fermentation process or the tannins are breaking down.

Upon swirling the wine, the legs on the sides can determine the amount of alcohol in the wine. The more viscous (slower moving) the legs are, the higher the alcohol content. 

2. Smell
Smelling the wine can help identify the varietal, fermentation process, region of origin, and maturity of the wine. 
Old World (Europe) vs New World (Everywhere else)
If the wine has an earthy smell, it is from the old world. If it has a fruity smell, it is a new world wine. 

Smells include: fruit, floral, spice, vegetal, oak, nut, and other

For example, a Spanish Tempranillo has a floral character, smelling of violets and roses, whereas an Australian Shiraz smells of mushroom and eucalyptus, and an Italian Negroamaro smells of butterscotch. 

Aroma kits are very helpful in picking out scents.

3.Taste
Tasting the wine can determine other things besides whether you like it or not. 
The acidity can determine whether it came from a warm or cool climate. If you drink it and your mouth is watering from a high acidity it means it came from a warmer region. 

The levels of sweetness can determine its fermentation level. If it's really sweet, it wasn't fermented long, like and ice wine. However, some grapes are naturally sweet, like the moscato d'asti grape. 

The amount of bitterness can determine the age. A very tannic wine can signify it's an older wine. 

Flavor can determine the varietal or the region of origin. Flavors include fruit, floral, spice, vegetal, oak, and other. 

For example, an Italian gaglioppo has a dark chocolate flavor, whereas a California merlot is like a fruit bomb.

You can also determine the alcohol content by taste. 

If you want to have some more fun with walking through wines, play Winerd. It's a board game for wine tasting. 

Wine and Food Pairing

Rule of thumb: If you are not sure, just pair region to region. If you are having an Italian meal, serve an Italian wine. 

Otherwise try this site. Or look at this nifty wheel.


If you have the chance, purchase Chakala (South African Red) and try it with a dark chocolate. The experience is intense. This wine is made from Rhone grapes (Shiraz, Carignan, Grenache, and Mourvedre) plus Petit Sirah and Tannat. It has a dark core with a fuchsia rim. On the nose, it smells like tar, but on the palate it has a smooth taste. When tasted with chocolate it becomes intensified and spicy. Plus, the wine is only $14.

I hope you find this blog helpful. Happy Tasting :)

~Steff~

Friday, August 17, 2012

PS3 Journey Review

This week I played the Journey Demo on PS3.  Gamer Cat does a great job summarizing the game.

The Journey

The purpose of this game can be explained in a single quote...

"Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity, but in doing it."- Greg Anderson 

I enjoyed this game a lot, maybe it's because I'm a crafter. I like crafting just as much as finishing a project. Anyways, the game is really simple. You start in the desert of an unknown world. There is no map, just a high peak ahead and your own intuition. You basically use your directional and jump buttons. Upon your journey you find magical symbols that provide you with a glowing scarf. The more symbols you find, the longer your scarf gets. The longer your scarf is, the better your jumping ability is.


The scenery is surreal and the music is emotional. These together are what gives the game its intensity. As you continue, your journey is recorded on a giant wall similar to Egyptian hieroglyphs. The game can be played live, where you can run into strangers and experience the journey together. However, communication with others is minimal, but it makes the experience that much more of a mystery.


If you want more challenges, you can go online and look up achievements. I like the achievement where you run into a stranger, and somehow with the minimal communication you are both able to sit down for 30s before you continue your journey.

Journey Trophies List

Happy Gaming :)
~Steff~

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Recycling101

As I had mentioned before I am a treehugger. I decided to organize my recycling habits. I went out and bought some colored containers and then labeled them with card stock. Voila, new recycling bins! If you're wondering where my aluminum cans go, I have a separate larger bin supplied by my landlord (I drink way too much soda, thanks video games).


Today, I was organizing all my technical stuff, and found  I had a lot of things to get rid of (old cell phones, cords, CDs). I decided it's better to recycle the stuff than have it sit in a landfill.

The first option was to see if I can make a profit online (Amazon, Ebay, Half.com), and of course my stuff isn't of value.

I ended up doing some online research to see where I can recycle these items. I learned that some people craft with CD/DVDs, VHS tapes, Floppy Disks, etc. However, I was leaning more towards recycling than crafting.

Here are some useful recycling links.

Tree Hugger and Earth911
These sites are good to ask questions or look for ways to help with the environment

The CD Recycling Center of America
This organization will collect your old CDs and DVDs. You just pay for shipping.

Cell Phones for Soldiers
This non-profit organization will recycle your old cell phones and turn the profit over to pre-paid calling cards for soldiers. It supports all branches of the US Military.

GreenDisk
This for-profit organization will recycle all technical items (computers, cords, CDs, cell phones, etc) for a fee, depending on the weight of your items.

I've decided to send my old cell phones to Cell Phones for Soldiers, and my old CDs to the CD Recycling Center of America. I eventually want to set up my apartment as a drop off center for these organizations. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Fun with Fabric Pens

When I was in Grad School, I was really tight on money. So, one year I decided to make all of my Christmas presents. One of my gifts involved making my boyfriend a nerdy Star Craft II themed T-Shirt (he's a pretty big gamer). I went to my favorite craft store and bought a plain black t-shirt and some fabric pens. I wanted a distressed look, so instead of the bright yellow Protoss (one of the races in SC) symbol, I decided to make it white.

 


The other day, while I was in the crafting mood, I decided to re-vamp a boring white tank top. I took out what was left of the fabric pens and just started drawing on my shirt. I was surprised with how well the shirt came out. In fact, the next day at work people were asking me where I got my shirt.



Using fabric pens are really easy. The directions are on the box, but just in case, this is what I did. 

First, I washed the shirts.
Then, I placed a piece of cardboard inside the shirt.
Then, I drew on the shirt, and let it dry.
Finally, I threw it in the dryer for 10 min to let the ink set.

The fabric pens that I used are machine washable, so no need to wash the garments separately. Score!

~Steff~

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sentimental Cookbook

I started this project years ago because sometimes you just need an ongoing project. This can be a pricey hobby, but it's well worth it in the end. I decided to contact many family members and have them hand-write a recipe (on one side of a recipe card) and send me a photograph of themselves. Then, I hit the craft store and went straight to the scrapbook aisle (now you know why it's so pricey). I searched for the cheapest album, scrapbook paper, and cooking stickers. Over the years I've been slowly piecing this together ( I am still waiting on some family participants). This is the perfect gift for a sentimental person because not only can they horde family memorabilia they can use it as well. Here's my progress thus far. Enjoy :)
Cover

Cousin

Sister

Aunt

Myself in case I hand this off someday

Uncle

Aunt/Uncle

Great Grandma

Cousin

Earring Holder

Hey readers!
I have a great and cheap idea to organize your earrings! I own over 40 pairs of earrings and had them all shoved into a jewelry box. Needless to say they got tangled and finding their pairs took FOREVER!

Sorry, had a nerd moment. Gotta love The Sandlot. Anyways, I always wanted an earring holder but did not have the money to splurge. I mean check out these prices!

So, one of my favorite things to do is go to a garage sale or church attic sale. This particular time I was at a church attic sale. I'd like to say I was being altruistic and helping out the church, but really I was helping out my bank account. The first thing I came across was a box of old picture frames, and the gears started turning!

I was thinking if I could find old screen somewhere I can attach it with a staple gun and voila, earring older. So, I picked out a thick, sturdy frame for 50 cents. Score! Then, I wandered around some more and lo and behold, there was an old screen left from a door, that a woman was selling for 25 cents because her cat tore it up. I measured it to the frame and there was just enough to fit that didn't have a claw mark. Sold!

While, wandering some more I found a small can of old wall paint for 50 cents, and now I have all that I need to make my earring holder. Yay!

I brought all my stuff home and got straight to work. 

I took out my plastic work space tray, and started to sand down the frame. Then, I dusted it off, and painted it. Once it dried, I stapled the screen to the back, and started to assemble my earrings onto it. This holder has become a huge hit among friends and family. 



I also use it to hold my hair clips :)
Since then I have experimented with this design and turned it into fabulous gifts for friends and family. I started going to the craft store and for under $12 I can find all that I need. 
1. I used cheap thick frames (sturdy enough to not break from the pressure of a staple gun)
2. I bought needlepoint screens (those plastic ones that come in all colors)
This kind, without the awesome superhero logos
3. I got cheap scrapbook paper, a foam brush, and mod podge instead of paint 
4. Then, I went home and decoupaged the frame with cut scrapbook paper, stapled on the screen, and bought a cute pair of earring to top off the gift :) Unfortunately, I already gave these gifts away and don't have any pictures but they came out fabulous. In my opinion, I prefer my first technique as it is a great way to recycle old materials. I am a treehugger!



Happy Crafting!
~Steff~

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Cheap, simple mug idea

So, I am a huge science geek, and I really liked the idea of having a coffee mug with a caffeine molecule. However, when I go online to find one, they are all overpriced!


So, I did some research...


I discovered ceramic pens, but found that they were also pricey :(

I decided to improvise and use a sharpie instead. So I got a mug from the grocery store for 75 cents and found a sharpie in my house. Then, I drew a molecule on it, and microwaved it for 1min. I heard that the heat sets it. Now I have an inexpensive caffeine mug. I've also hand washed it since then and the molecule is still there.

mmm coffee
~Steff~

Friday, August 3, 2012

Up-cycled cork board

I found an old worn cork board in my dad's basement. I decided to take one of those free maps that come with National Geographic magazines and staple it to the front. I picked a map of Ireland, England, and Wales because of my ancestral background (I am a huge mutt).  Now I have a temporary fix until I find some map fabric instead. How do you up-cycle your cork boards?

I love the blue of the ocean against the black frame. 
~Steff~

Garden Rock Marker

I live in an apartment and I would really love to have a garden. Unfortunately, my garden has been downsized to a basil plant on my balcony. Funny side story. So, I bought the basil plant from a local farmers market. I was hungry and decided to walk into a Chipotle for lunch. These workers were staring and commenting on my plant (in Spanish) and I figured they were just wondering why I was walking around with a plant. On my walk home I looked down and there was a big toad in my plant! Good thing he didn't hop out while I was in the restaurant.

Anyways, I grew up with a garden and I remember the pain of marking your plants with seed packets on sticks. As soon as you watered the garden those packets got all torn and ragged. So I decided to paint rocks, or rather one rock for my one plant. Some day I will set up my balcony to have a better garden, but again I am a poor post-grad with an entry level job.

So what you need is a rock (which I found outside for free), paint brush, and paint. I am a painter so I always have acrylic paints and brushes. You can find them for pretty cheap at craft stores and dollar stores.
All you need to do is tap into your creative side and paint your vegetable and its name on the rock. The end.



Basil Plant, toad-free

Simple Wall Picture

I recently started a job as a Next Generation Technologist, which is just a fancy way of saying biologist. I work in a lab that does molecular diagnosis of rare genetic diseases. I am fresh out of Graduate School and owe a ton in student loans. I spend a lot of time budgeting my money and making ends meet. My way to de-stress and relax is to craft. Crafting can be expensive so I take pride in recycling, up-cycling, and finding ways to craft on a budget.

Here is a simple and cheap wall decorating idea.

First, I bought a black frame from the dollar store.

Next, I found one of my favorite poems online. You can also do quotes, excerpts from books, prayers, speeches, etc.
NEVER GIVE UP
Tenzin Gyatso, XIV Dalai Lama
Never give up
No matter what is going on
Develop the heart
Too much energy in your country
Is spent on developing the mind
Instead of the heart
Develop the heart
Be compassionate
Not just to your friends
But to everyone
Be compassionate
Work for peace
In your heart and in the world
And I say again
Never give up
No matter what is happening
No matter what is going on around you
Never give up

I opened up Microsoft Word and typed up the poem. Then, I chose the font (informal roman) and font sizes I wanted to fit the page.

I found a photo online (jasmine, my favorite flowers), and saved it.



I watermarked the picture to fit the page (500%) on the Word document.


I printed the word document on card stock (regular paper crinkles), framed it, and hung it up.


 ~Steff~