Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April Report Card

Multnomah Falls.


This month was a pretty busy one for me, but very enjoyable.  Not only is the weather getting nicer and nicer, but I got to do a lot of fun stuff this month, including going on a trip to Vancouver with my youth group.  Student Conference was great this year, and though it was the last time I'll be able to attend as a student, it was still a lot of fun.  Now, I'm eagerly anticipating May, but let's first see how I did on this month's resolutions, shall we?

Organize Recipes

I put it off for a while, but I finally got this done.  Now our stack of loose recipes has diminished considerably and our favorites are all typed up, printed out, and added to my ever-growing binder of goodness. 

Grade: A

Read At Least 4 Books

Surprisingly, this was kind of tough for me this month, but I managed.  I read An Uncertain Dream by Judith Miller, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, A Most Peculiar Circumstance by Jen Turano and to offset all the historical romances, Star Wars: Survivor's Quest by Timothy Zahn.  

Grade: A

Keep Writing/Editing



Either I've been incredibly distracted by Icewind Dale 2 this month or this was just way too general of a goal to motivate me.  I've been blogging, but I didn't even want to think about my novel at all this month.  Here's hoping this goes better during May.

Grade: F

Watch What I Eat

I didn't do too badly on this goal.  Granted, I had a lot of fast food during my trip, but I tried to pick the healthiest things I could.  I made sure that I was careful when it came to my sugar intake, and I ate as many fresh fruits and veggies as I could.  By the way, Red Robin is now offering all of their burgers on gluten-free buns.

Grade: B+

Yoga 4 Times A Week

Not bad at all.  There was one week where I only got three nights of yoga in, but I did well the rest of the time.  I even challenged myself twice this month with the Flow routine from Tamal Dodge, probably the most difficult routine that we own.  

Grade: B+

Overall Grade: B-


I did pretty well this month on most of my goals, but completely failed when it came to writing.  I guess now I know what needs to be a priority for May.  How did your resolutions go?

Monday, April 22, 2013


Nothing too special here today, just some pictures of the new additions to the herd.  Hope you enjoy them!

Mystery, 5 months old.

Eminem, 2 months old.

Ray, 3 months old.

Magic (He's a boy, really), 1 week old.

Leia, 1 week old.

Mr. Mott, 1 week old.

Paxton, 1 week old. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mid-April Progress Report

Where has the first half of this month gone?  Let me know if you see it anywhere, because it kind of passed me by.  I haven't even thought much about my resolutions for this month, so let's see how I've been doing on them...

Organize Recipes

I've tried a few new recipes this month so far, which means more loose recipes have been added to the pile.  Unfortunately, the organizing bit hasn't even started yet.  Speaking of new recipes, I've made this one for gluten-free soft sugar cookies twice already, and they're a hit.  Check it out!

Read At Least 4 Books

I'm working through book number two, which is Northanger Abbey, so I'm a bit behind.  Hopefully I can catch up.

Keep Writing/Editing

Oh yeah...  I was going to do this, wasn't I?  I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't even looked at a single word of my writing this month.  I've meant to, but there's always been some other chore or activity that has sounded more interesting.  Any tips for getting myself motivated to do this?

Watch What I Eat

This has been going  pretty well so far.  I've been making sure to get lots of veggies in my diet, and Greek yogurt (Chobani all the way) is my favorite breakfast food.  

Yoga 4 Times A Week

I've been keeping up with this pretty well, I think.  As long as I continue for the rest of the month, this should be a success. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Kaylin's Hints for Infinity Engine Games

Right now, you might be wondering: what in the world am I talking about?  Let me explain.  Infinity Engine was the program used to create a lot of RPGs during the late nineties and early 2000's.  Huge names in the RPG genre, such as Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment are Infinity Engine games.  So is the game I'm currently playing, Icewind Dale.  

While several Infinity Engine games are considered classics by popular gamer opinion, they can be a little bit daunting to play.  Personally, Baldur's Gate was one of the most difficult games I've played, and I was tempted to quit more than once.  Somehow (okay, I ended up cheating near the end), I made it through the game and really enjoyed the story.  After reading the disappointing novelizations of the Baldur's Gate series, I realized that every moment of frustration that the game caused me was worth it to get the real story.  

So please, if you're interested in the story of one of these gaming classics, don't read a summary on Wikipedia and please, please don't read the novelization.  Get the full experience, the full frustration and the full sense of accomplishment and play the game yourself.  Here's a few tips to get you started.

Save Your Game... A Lot

Baldur's Gate was the game that made me realize that this really is a good idea.  If you win a fight, save your game.  If you're able to rest without being attacked by wolves, save your game.  If you make it a few steps without triggering a trap, save your game.  If anything beneficial happens whatsoever, save your game.   It may seem paranoid, but it's better to save "too often" than too little.  You never know when something bad might happen, so it's best to always have a restore point and save yourself the frustration of doing something over again.  

Talk To Everyone

Life might be easier if this happened in the real world as well.


Unlike, say, World of Warcraft, there are no characters in an Infinity game with floating exclamation marks over their heads announcing that they want you to do something.  There are occasions when it's obvious who the quest givers are, but most of the time you have to seek them out.  Don't worry, it's still not too hard to find them.  Is there a large group of sprites that all kind of look the same?  In that case, chances are that the one or two characters that look different are the quest givers.  Also, be on the lookout for characters with specific names, as that's a giveaway that they're probably important somehow.  

Finally, be careful in conversations.  Infinity games are notorious for their walls of text, but dialogue can be incredibly important, especially in Planescape: Torment.  Take time to read everything, choose your responses carefully, and don't be afraid to reload your game if the encounter doesn't go the way you want.  

Dying Is Expensive

In games, death is rarely permanent.  In Icewind Dale, for instance, you can revive fallen companions unless they were critically hit upon their death or turned to stone.  This can be helpful, but in my experience, it's best to not go through the trouble of reviving your fallen buddies.  Instead, reload your game and try the battle again until everyone makes it through.  There are some cases where this can be really difficult, but keep at it.  

Know How to Build Your Party

Strategic, party-based combat is what Infinity Engine is basically all about.  I can say from experience that if your party of adventurers is not balanced, then just about any Infinity game is going to be extremely difficult for you.  Take some extra time to look online and see what has worked for other gamers.  Here's what my usual Infinity game party looks like: 

From top to bottom, the character roles are: Melee fighter, ranged fighter (Ranger class), Thief (to find traps and unlock things), Spellcaster, Healer, and Paladin (another melee fighter with some handy abilities).  Obviously, you can play the game just fine with a different party, otherwise it wouldn't be interesting, but this is what works best for me.        
These are just a few basic hints, but I hope they help if you decide to play one of these classic RPGs.  Until next time, keep calm and game on.  

P.S. If you're more of an adventure gamer, check out my tips for adventuring.

Monday, April 1, 2013

April Resolutions

The weather here today is incredibly nice for this time of year.  It makes me so excited for spring.  I don't plan on making any super ambitious resolutions for this month, however, as life has been pretty busy lately.  Here's hoping that I can be lenient with myself and still get some things done. 

Funny enough, this picture was taken last September.


Organize Recipes

We have a corner of our kitchen where those loose printed recipes just get tossed.  Some of them are great and we're saving the sheet so that we can make them again, others we have yet to make, but it's quite the mess.  I'd like to sort through these and find a better place for them to be or a better way to store them.  

Pinterest might not help this problem much, but there are so many great recipes!

Read At Least 4 Books

I plan to read 50 books during the course of this year, so I'd like to stay on track for that.  Knowing me, four books shouldn't be too tough.  Plus, the weather's nice enough that I can sit outside and read!

Keep Writing/Editing

I'm not going to make myself crazy and carry over my goal of finishing my first draft, but I'd like to at least keep going, no matter how slow the pace.  If I stop and put my novel down for a month, I know that I may never get my momentum back.  

Watch What I Eat

I know this is a very general goal, but I'd just like to remind myself to be aware of what I'm eating.  I'm not going to be too hard on myself, just smart. 

Yoga 4 Times a Week

This worked out pretty well last month, so I think I'll try it again.  I like the freedom to skip a day or two if I want to get to bed earlier, but I want to keep myself accountable and at do it at least some of the time.  

All in all, it looks like April will be a busy and (hopefully) productive month.  What are your resoultions?