Monday, August 4, 2014

Christmas in July

Last weekend we had big Christmas in July lunch.  I've wanted to cook a Christmas lunch forever, but we always seem to be travelling at Christmas time.
I made a maple-glazed ham, vegetarian stuffing, Moroccan spiced vegetable pie and a very boozy trifle.  Friends turned up with lasagna, lemon tart, custard and pudding.  We did mulled wine for the grown ups and spiced warm apple juice for the kids, and the weather turned on a beautiful, sunny still day for us all.
To keep the kids occupied in the morning, I got out my cheap plastic Christmas tree and all the unbreakable ornaments.
It wasn't the most beautiful tree ever, but they were so proud of it!  
The whole day was like that - lots that didn't quite go to plan, but everybody helped and I think everybody had fun.  We live so far away from our family of birth - our friends have really become our family of choice.  And that's what Christmas is about for us - sharing good food and good times with the people we love.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Doom that Came to Atlantic City

I love a good unboxing. The smell of newly created anything is awesome, particularly when it was as long a time coming as this (but more on that later). And having it all go easily back into the box at the end was AWESOME!

On this occasion I had the ever pleasant company of +Kristin Milton and her brother on my (our) first play of "The Doom that Came to Atlantic City"
The game is kind of not really like Monopoly, but in reverse (destroying houses instead of building). the board layout is much the same, except railways are actual portals you can travel through, and as the game goes on more portals are added as a victory condition, very effectively lowering the reliance on rent as a revenue stream.
Currency exists though and is a blend of your followers (know as cultists if you are a fan of all things H.P. Lovecraft) and the houses you have destroyed. These currencies are used to enhance the 2 of the 3 basic actions, namely Combat results and Destruction of houses. Movement is basically as you would expect from a monopoly style game with the exception of Portal travel.
To introduce even more variability in play the Elder God you choose to begin with has a special skill that can be replaced during play, and there are two victory conditions available at all times, one is a race to build portals and the other from a randomised deck.
I had a great time, as did the other players, though like most first time playthroughs done immediately post unboxing, I think the second playthrough will be enhanced by a greater understanding of the rules which seemed a little clumsy in the order in which they were presented and dependant on a few assumptions that I am sure an online errata would fix. For now I have gone with the "we don't know lets make a house rule" method as it seems in keeping with the Chaos theme :D
Also, and importantly for a game with such lofty ideals.... Paul Komoda's pieces are, if you'll pardon the pun, Divine!

The rules were not particularly clearly written, game setup particularly talked about what to deal out, but wasn't helpful in describing the objective of the game. (took us about halfway through to realise that "this ends the game" actually meant "this is how you win".
One of the tentacle pieces was DOA, only half of it arrived, but it didn't hinder gameplay.
Also this was quite possibly the worst Kickstarter I could have picked for my first (and last) because... well... this:

#tentacthulhu  #lovecraft   #Cthulhu   #Nyarlathotep   #Hastur    #Ithaqua   #ShubNiggurath  #Azathoth   #YogSothoth   #Tsathoggua  

The all important Gallery can be found here, use the link if the flash based slideshow doesn't work for you: 

See this post on Google Plus where it was originally posted

Thursday, April 10, 2014

On coping

I just read the latest Andie Fox column and I think you should, too.  Go on, I'll wait.
It's a beautiful, thoughtful article on things we don't discuss much in public:  fear, resilience and coping.

Becoming a single parent made me confront a lot of fears.  In very early parenthood, I often wondered how on earth people did it alone, and then all of a sudden, I had to, too.

Somehow I managed.  I called my mother a lot.  I leaned on my friends in ways I would never have dreamed of before, and somehow they didn't mind.  Things got done, or didn't, and either way I muddled through.

There were a lot of firsts.  The first time I drove to Sydney alone with my son.  The first time I backed a trailer.  A first night with my son at his father's house.  Most terrifyingly, a first date.

All through my university years, I had a note on my desk that said 'I just have to cope, I don't have to cope well.'  

Now I look back on that time and wonder.  I was so scared and yet I did so much.  It was so very hard, but every fear faced made the next easier, and the next.

These days life is good.  Sharing the parenting is something I will never again take for granted. It is such a relief to have a second pair of grown-up hands to read a story or run to the shops.  But more than that, it is truly wonderful to have somebody nearby to share those tiny moments that make parenting such a joy.

Underneath all that goodness is a new truth.    However much I value having Tren here as a co-parent, I will never again be scared of going it alone.  I know I am strong.
I know I can cope.
I know I can cope well.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lazy autumn Sunday

Every autumn, I think Canberrans start panicking about the impending winter and rush to enjoy the outdoors while they can.  Today felt like one of those days.
With no kids in tow, we barely made it to the farmer's market at Woden, then finished up the shopping at Fyshwick Markets.  Deli Planet makes good coffee and great pizza - today we shared a 'Green eggs and ham' calzone.
Even though it was overcast and threatening, I thought I'd risk a walk around the lake.  I couldn't believe how packed the parking was - until I saw the Italian car festival on the lawns in front of Old Parliament House.  Just around the corner the 100 Swords had a big gathering in front of the National Library.
I nearly got taken out by a cyclist or two.  Then I realised how many self-propelled people were making their way around the lake.  Joggers, runners, segway-riders, kids on scooters and roller blades.  Even a unicycler.
Canberra, more than any place I've ever lived, is full of weird and wonderful groups, practising every pastime you've ever heard of.  It doesn't matter if you're into medieval sword play, mountain biking, poetry slams or raising bees, there is a group here, ready to support your efforts and get you started.  My secret theory is that Canberra is full of passionate people from somewhere else.  When they move to this supposedly quiet little town they look for people with the same interests or similar backgrounds.
It's just a theory.  But I'm happy to enjoy all the diversity I find here.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Eating out with kids: Pancake Parlour

We arrived a little early for my book club meeting so I had a little time to settle in the wriggler.  The staff were very friendly and understanding of a preschooler who couldn't sit still - crayons and colouring in sheets arrived at the table shortly after we did.
As my friends turned up, more crayons appeared for the older kids and plenty of water and glasses.  There was a slight hiccup manoeuvring a pram down the stairs and through the crowded space, but once we were settled there was plenty of room for everyone.
The menu at the Pancake Parlour hasn't changed in years.  We ordered an assortment of coffees, hot chocolates and sweet treats.  I suppose the pancakes are a little expensive for what they are, but the children's serve comes with ice cream and syrup and the wriggler finished his before I could even ask for a bite.  I'd flag that as success.
The coffee is fine.  It isn't Braddon Street Roasters or your very favourite coffee specialist, but my flat white was strong, not bitter or watery and came in a very large mug.  The colouring-in sheets even gave me time to finish it in peace.
The verdict:
While Civic isn't my first destination for coffee with kids in tow, The Pancake Parlour isn't bad.  There's plenty of afternoon tea options for kids and grown-ups alike.