I wrote about my first ever experience with the Board Game Geek Convention last year, and it was time to do it all over again! Yay! This year was even better!
Reasons to Go
This isn’t a hard section to write:
- Board gaming is fun
- Hanging with other great geeks for 5 days is fun
- Vacations away from home are fun
- It’s especially awesome to leave when everything around you is breaking and companies are giving you the runaround to get them all fixed. I needed a mental health recovery period.
- The Board Game Geek Con is just extra cool since it’s still in Texas and one of our easier places to visit.
- There’s 2300-2500 gamers, so there is always something to do.
- This year they even offered free Wi-Fi, so I was able to keep up with work pretty well and have an awesome break too.
Crystal Stemberger – Tackling Men Since 2013…
I played quite a few games. My absolute favorite was Reverse Charades. In fact, it was probably my favorite single experience of all 5 days! I literally tackled an unsuspecting teammate during Reverse Charades to successfully get our other teammate to guess “Tackling”. It was the highlight of my con.
To really get what I mean, you have to understand that I’m a 5’2″ average-sized redhead tackling a 6’4″ regular sized guy in the middle of a chair ring in a large hotel hallway. And, I tackled him pretty dang well – shoulder down, head turned left, full arm wrap, take-down into the chairs. I had asked my ref husband what a tackle really entailed a few weeks ago, and I did that step-by-step as I went for it…hehehe.
Our teammate successfully guessed “Tackling”, so woot!!! And when I wrote about the experience on the BGG.com forums, the poor guy I tackled actually replied! Here is that note:
At the moment, I was thinking, “Hmm, how can I get the concept of tackle across to my teammate holycowwhyamIsuddenlyfallingbackwards?” And since it didn’t see it coming, yes, it was a very good tackle. – Bryon
Thank you Bryon for not getting mad at the midget on your legs!
Other Great Games
I also really enjoyed the Johan Sebastian Joust super late Friday night. It’s an interactive game using microphone-shaped (or large snow-cone shaped) controllers. You can only move as fast as the music goes, which changes, while you try to get the other people to screw up or hit their controller for them. Tons of fun.
“Charades Against Humanity” late Saturday was an adult-only riot. Picture charades but with Cards Against Humanity cards like “A Mother-F$#%^& Sorceror”. Try acting that out…I dare you. One card really was something like ”A Fat Man Lost a Lot of Weight and Uses the Excess Skin to Glide Around the Country”. And you have to make sure that you get ALL of the words said, including “a”, “the”, and stuff like that. That particular one took our friend about 7 minutes to get us to place together.
And all 10 of my volunteer library shifts were tons of fun. I got to meet fellow volunteers and figure out what games were the hottest. Plus, it made me feel like a larger part of the convention…I like being needed.
I went to several organized events at the convention. My absolute favorite this year was the Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament. I went out when there were only 20% of more than 250 participants left, so I was super happy. Last year, I was out in the first 10%. This year, I actually used patience and didn’t place a bet unless I had a great hand or was really sure that I could bluff everyone out of the pot. I lost to a river card when I had a very good hand, plus I was just moved to a high chip count table when I came from a very low chip count table (conservative players without a lot of loss), so I have no regrets.
Even though I might not be the most gamiest gamer ever, I still think this is a super fun event! If you are ever around Texas this time of year, you should totally jump in!
Do you go to board game conventions?
It’s that time of year again, we’re heading to the Board Game Geek Conference 2013 this coming Wednesday through Sunday! With a long weekend of board gaming in the air, I finally reminded myself to type up my official review of the copy of Scattergories Categories from Winning Moves Games that I received last month. It was actually a nice twist on classic Scattergories.
Basically, in Scattergories, you have a list of topics, and you roll a letter dice and have to come up with a word that starts with that letter for each category on that list. In Scattergories Categories, it’s nearly the opposite. You are given a list of letters that make up a category name. You have to come up with words that starts with those letters that fall within the given category.
For example, let’s say you have the card “Teamwork” that gives the category as “Sports played in teams”. Everybody writes the letters T-E-A-M-W-O-R-K vertically on their paper. When the 2-minute included timer starts, everyone starts listing out their “best” answer (most unique) starting with each of the listed letters that fits into the category. Like “Tennis” for “T” and “Water polo” for “W”.
When time’s up, each player takes turns reading out their single answer for each letter. If they match with anyone else in the group, those players mark out that answer and it won’t score. Only unique / not-matched-with-anyone-else answers count for points. At the end of your gaming session, the most points win.
It’s fun, quick, and a nice party game. As with almost all party games, the group you play with matters the most for the fun-to-play ratio.
You get 250 plays out of the box since there are 125 double-sided cards of words/category cards. And you could always come up with your own cards in the future too. Oh, and the box says that it plays 2-4 people, but we just got some more paper and pens and played with a group of 9 people with no problem. It just means that it will take a little longer for people to read out their answers (but that’s the fun part anyway), and you’ll have lower overall scores (but who cares?).
Have you ever played Scattergories or Scattergories Categories? Let me know what you thought!
Mr. BFS and I hosted a Halloween Masquerade Ball and Potluck last Saturday. It was a fun success! Here are all of the photos you asked for when I mentioned this last week!
Masquerade Ball Costumes
Our Halloween parties are always costume-requested but not required. We want everyone to have a great time. Here were the costumes this year:
Here were the ladies of the group that were around for a photo earlier in the evening. As you can see, the masquerade ball theme was open for interpretation since only two of us went the ball-gown route. I love my friends.
Here were our early evening men of the group. Again, the masquerade theme was fun but everyone hit it from a different angle. Go geeks! And yes, that is a paper bag princess…
Here were our devil’s advocate and cop for the evening.
Here was the broken doll and sad panda.
I thought Dee did amazing with her broken doll look – face cracks and all!
The new plague-masks make me laugh more than anything else…
A party is only as good as the guests and food, right? Well, we weren’t going hungry:
We once again ordered two skeleton cupcake masterpieces from my mother-in-law – Veranda Delights.
Here were some jack-o-lantern cake balls! Vanilla cake, orange sugar, and chocolate faces.
These were our peanut-butter witches fingers, pumpkin patch cakes, and chocolate-dipped pretzels. Oh, and the Chex Mix Crack is in the top left.
These were as yummy as they looked. It is mini-bundt cakes joined together with homemade cream cheese icing and then decorated to look like mini-pumpkins.
Finally, a glimpse at some of the main food. There was tons – here you see Monster Salad, deviled eggs, and cornbread. We also had chili, jalapeno poppers, Spanish rice, cauliflower, and bunches of other dips, sides, etc.
Overall, people started showing up at 5:30pm and the party wrapped up around 2:30am. I consider that a total success.
What are you up to this Halloween?
In 2012, a couple of male bloggers had an unofficial chin-up competition at the Financial Blogger Conference 2012 (FinCon12). At FinCon13 last week, this became an official FinCon competition, and around 10 male bloggers jumped up in front of the crowd and showed their chin-up stuff. Women were welcome to participate too, but the few of us who could do any chin-ups at all were all sick or recovering, so no women participated.
I was totally fine with this…until one guy decided to get up and say something like, “That wraps up this contest. Don’t worry ladies, the beauty competition is later this afternoon.”
Yeah, he probably didn’t mean anything by it, but for anybody who doesn’t understand why that was a temporarily idiotic thing to say, let’s boil it down really quickly:
Men = Grrrr, manly, physical prowess
Women = Pretty, wussy, boobs
At least, that is what every female in the room heard. Heck, most of the men in relationships heard that too. I swear, there was a group cringe.
Side note, later that day, four of us women had an impromptu push-up competition. I know that at 26-27 push-ups, we were showing some grrr too. I don’t mind admitting that men are built stronger than women overall. I also don’t mind saying that I think women are generally better looking than males. What I minded was some random dude deciding that all women could do was be pretty (or at least saying something that sounded that way to all of us).
Men have more going on for themselves than just muscles. And women have more going on than just their looks. I would have been absolutely fine with the whole situation if that one guy hadn’t said anything. Heck, even his comment didn’t take away from the fun for me, but it did lead to a challenge.
The Gauntlet was Thrown Down and Picked Up
That said, Kathleen from Frugal Portland, immediately Tweeted her outrage and many started Tweeting back with similar reactions. I made the comment that instead of being angry about, we should just get even. The gauntlet was thrown, and Kathleen and I challenged ourselves to our own chin-up competition at FinCon14.
There are two rules:
1. No steroids.
2. We each need to be able to achieve at least 10 chin-ups by this time next year in order to compete. We want to represent properly.
My First Step in Training
So far, my first main step to training is to find a solid place to practice chin-ups. There is no little bar to practice on in my house, and I don’t have a gym membership.
My husband suggested monkey bars, which seemed genius to me. I scoped out the kiddie parks around our house – NO MONKEY BARS!!! Those poor children!!! That seems wrong. Just slides, a playhouse, and swings. What’s a play park without monkey bars and a see-saw?! Anyway, moving on…
For now, I will be using the top bar of the sideways ladder leading into the kids playhouse area. If I pull myself up all of the way, I still have a few inches of clearance before my head hits the bottom of the playhouse floor.
Wish us both luck! Have you ever had a similar reaction to sexism/racism/etc.? Just want to prove them sooooo wrong?
I’ve mentioned this before a million times, but I LOVE HALLOWEEN! Love it! It actually slightly edges out Christmas for me, and that says a lot!
For this Halloween, my hubby and I are going to host a Halloween masquerade ball potluck. Yep, an actual ball where we’re requesting everyone to dress up and wear an awesome mask of their choice. There will be eating, music, board gaming, and a Paranormal Activity marathon going on in the media room. Based on everyone scrambling around to find their outfit, I think it is going to be a huge success.
BUT, to host a great Halloween party, you need great decorations. I have these creepy plastic posters that I hang in the windows every year. At night with the lights on inside, they glow and show spooky things like cat eyes, a green face, and spiders. And one on the door looks like a skeleton head on fire. I also bought some indoor decorations like crime scene police tape that I put up everywhere and a few funny posters and signs. Oh, and the zombie gnomes below make me smile.
I like specific garden gnomes, and these are now my favorites of them all. I just have to appreciate undead gnomes…
BUT, I didn’t have an amazing “piece” yet. Like the star of the show. Now I do.
Getting More Than Expected
My friend, Bill, is an artist. And he has blown me away. Consider my mind blown.
I asked for his help to create some silhouettes for the garage door. Here was what I was expecting:
Yep, I was expecting a few easy bats and maybe something a tiny bit more advanced like tombstone shapes with RIP cut outs…
But Bill didn’t know I expected cartoony pictures and he just started going all out! First he quickly cut out a very cool bat. Then he followed it up with the coolest RIP tombstone with a hand coming out of it. He was starting on another tombstone with a Firefly theme when he asked “Hey, you want a Weeping Angel?” Uhhh, YES PLEASE!
Within two evenings of watching Doctor Who together for less than 10 hours, LOOK at what Bill came up with!!! Is this not the coolest thing ever done with black poster board and a utility knife?!
These are the coolest Halloween decorations ever!!! You are seeing a Weeping Angel, 4 amazing tombstones, and a pretty great bat flying around too, lol.
Yep, those first two tombstones say “Don’t Blink”. That’s followed by a creepy hand with RIP. Then the last one says “I’m a Leaf on the Wind” and has a little T-Rex cut out for all of the Firefly fans out there! I’m in love.
This is my absolute favorite. Please try to really understand the detail work involved with this. I watched Bill make the cuts and I still have no idea how it turned into something so amazing!
Here is the overall effect of our Halloween decorations from the sidewalk. I’m pretty dang happy and plan to add a few things every year like I have been so far….
If you don’t understand exactly what you are looking at – Google or YouTube “Weeping Angel” from Doctor Who. I found this satisfyingly creepy montage there:
Now, if you think these are as awesome as I think they are, just email me to get Bill’s contact info. I told him there was money to be made with talent like this! I just can’t emphasize enough how cool I think these are…definitely my favorite Halloween decorations ever!!!
And here’s a shout out to my friend, Dee from Losing Stuff Gaining Freedom, for getting these laminated so quickly so that I could hang them up ASAP!
Do you love Halloween too? What’s been your favorite decoration?
Today’s guest post is by Emily, who blogs at Evolving Personal Finance. EPF focuses on living well on a low income and navigating the transitions common in young adulthood.
When my husband, Kyle, and I started graduate school six years ago, we were at different places in terms of our sports consumption. I was not inclined to watch sports at all, except perhaps Wimbledon or the US Open. Kyle, on the other hand, was a die-hard fan excited to finally have a team to root for (we had attended a DIII college). Here in Tobacco Road the only sport we care about is basketball, and between Kyle’s enthusiasm and the general aura of weightiness and fun surrounding the men’s games, I quickly found myself quite the fanatic as well.
Recently I have been reflecting about how far we’ve come financially in the last six years, and basketball has influenced decisions we’ve made about our personal finances on more than one occasion. In fact, I think becoming big fans of our university’s team has indirectly improved our finances!
Emily and Kyle in Cameron Indoor Stadium
1) Implementing Targeted Savings Accounts
The prospect of having to write two $200 checks for basketball season tickets was one of the reasons why we implemented our targeted savings accounts. We had been dealing with the irregular expenses of traveling to weddings for some time, but having a “Entertainment” irregular expenses (the season tickets) alongside some others like paying for six months of car insurance at a time and buying our CSA share pushed us to this new savings system.
We save a set amount each month into a variety of savings accounts with named purposes to prepare for irregular but anticipated expenses. This system has truly transformed our mindset toward these irregular expenses and taken most of the stress out of our finances!
2) Watch Parties at Home
When we first started graduate school, we were very social with all of the people we were meeting, frequently going to bars and restaurants and house parties. But when basketball season started, we settled into a routine of watching games with the same group of student-fans. That group of people has become some of our closest local friends.
During basketball season, we alternate who hosts the watch parties. Everyone brings a snack or drinks to share and it’s a very low-key, fun social time. These get-togethers, and the similar ones we have in the off-season, have replaced much of the time that we use to spend going out to restaurants, naturally at much lower cost – and to me they are much more fun!
3) Creativity after Canceling Cable
Kyle and I decided to cancel our cable so we could better afford to travel to weddings. However, we still wanted to view all of our team’s games. Our fan-dom spurred us to find creative solutions so that we never missed a game we wanted to watch. The main component of our solution for watching sports was buying a digital over-the-air antenna so that we could still host watch parties for the games aired on the big three networks.
4) Learning to Share
After canceling our cable, we learned a bit of humility. We had to depend on our friends with cable to host watch parties for some ESPN games, so we were forced to admit that we couldn’t afford to be completely self-sufficient! But actually that led to sharing (I hope it isn’t mooching) in other areas of our life, like borrowing equipment instead of buying it.
Just last week, Kyle attended a golfing bachelor party and was considering buying a set of used golf clubs. Since he doesn’t golf often, I encouraged him to ask around for a set to borrow. It ended up that he borrowed a set from a friend, and in return the friend asked for our old tennis balls to combat squeaky chairs, which we were able to provide.
This is a mindset shift that has truly helped our finances by preventing us from buying random tools and equipment that we will rarely use. In fact, we are also able to give back through basketball. To be entered into a lottery for season tickets we camp out for 36 hours, which requires tents, sleeping bags, tents, etc. We have amassed enough camping equipment over the years to be able to lend some to others, sparing them the expense of buying their own!
Of course you may be thinking that we have spent far more money on being basketball fans than we have not spent by implementing these strategies. In fact, with the season tickets games work out to be only about $10 each, so it’s not a very expensive activity! We have only traveled to a tournament on one occasion and we did it pretty frugally. I think the lessons we’re learning (and the friends we’ve made!) are far more valuable than what we’ve spent on attending games.
Are you a sports fan and if so how has it impacted your finances? Have you adopted any hobbies that help you spend less?
Okay, so you know that I am waiting to hear back officially from the Big Brother Big Sister program. I’ve also been returning to super inexpensive fun on my own since we are being cheap for the next few months. So today’s post is pretty simple. Here is the list of activities with kids that I’ve come up with that can be done even with a tiny budget:
Activities with Kids on the Cheap
- Take photos to make annual scrap book.
- Make/paint/go on shopping trip to find a piggy bank/bank for budget. I was thinking of making a budget of less than $20 a week and we can save the extra for more expensive outings.
- Pottery painting.
- Kids Eat Free days at different restaurants around the city.
- Zoo – Free first Tuesdays after 2pm from Sept through May at the Houston Zoo.
- Feed the ducks.
- Petsmart/pet store events. We can play with cute dogs for free and even volunteer our time.
- Volunteer. The Big Brother Big Sister program will even let us know when there are openings at things they hear about.
- Children’s Museum – Free Thursdays from 5-8pm at the Houston one.
- Dollar Movie Theater – there is a $1.50 one about 10 minutes away from my house.
- Build-a-Bear – Can save up for a really nice one.
- Board games
- Miller Outdoor Theater (any city’s outdoor theater)
- Menil Collection (art museums)
- Garage sales
- Thrift stores
- Errands (they actually say that other people’s kids like this…)
- Bingo (you can get 9 cards for multiple games for a total of $4-$6 per person)
- Pajama party
- Movie night
- Disc golf
- Fly a kite
- Go to the beach/lake/etc.
- Sports events. Highschool football games are cheap and sometimes free for kids.
- Brazos Bend State Park (any state park)
- Drive-In Movie Theater
- Ghost stories
- Make our own art.
- Look at crafts available at Hobby Lobby.
- Sea Monkeys
- Farmer’s market
- Fruit picking
- Weenie and s’more roast – yummy
- Home Depot Learn to Build classes – look up their schedule online.