Birthday Bait and Switch

Last week, the Small Child thought he’d make himself some Mac ‘n’ Cheese.  You know, the horrid microwave kind, which passes itself off as food and has very doubtful nutritional properties.  It’s stupidly easy to make, full of MSG goodness and the kid loves it, (though god knows why), all you have to do is tip the sachet of macaroni into a bowl, add water, heat for three minutes on high and then stir through the pretend reconstituted cheesy stuff.  Simple right?

Unless of course you miss a vital step, like oh… I don’t know – adding water.

Then what you get, instead of Mac ‘n’ Cheese, is a house full of acrid black smoke, a useless microwave with burnt plastic walls, which now is only suitable for use as a temporary garden ornament until next kerbside pick up day.  I really wasn’t planning on replacing the microwave any time soon… but can not go putting fabric wheat packs in the (vaguely still functioning) machine twice a day, because they’ll end up reeking of charred acrid smoke and shortly after, so too, will the couch.  Yuk.

As luck would have it, it was the Small Child’s birthday in a week or so, and I decided to teach him a lesson about forgetfulness, by telling that he was getting a new microwave for his birthday as a result of the Greatly Offensive and Injurious Mac ‘n’ Cheese Incident of 2014.  I let him do the retail research and he got to put together a purchase proposal, so you know, I kindly allowed him to choose which one we needed (much to his disgust), and then we duly went out and purchased it.  Poor little guy was quiet and resigned throughout, feeling equal parts guilty at destroying the old microwave and despondent at the concept that the new one was to constitute his birthday gift.  We then got a week of telling him that his birthday present was all sorted but that he needed some new slippers, so he might get some of those too.  Little did he know, his actual birthday present had been ordered weeks ago…

As an avid young gamer, his eight year old hand me down laptop was his most prized possession and while it was okay for some things, it wasn’t really wasn’t cutting the mustard.  So we had decided it was a good time to replace and we arranged for the whole family to chip in and help us buy him a new one – one that would hopefully see him through the next four years or so.  Hopefully by that time, when he needs another upgrade – he can damn well get a job and save for it himself!  But it served our purposes at the moment to let him think that a shiny new microwave was all that birthday had in store for him… it significantly reduced the ‘I wants’ in the lead up to said birthday, that’s for sure.

Anyway, birthday morning rolled around and so began the unwrapping of some underwhelming decoy birthday presents that I literally pulled out of the emergency present box (everyone has one of them right?)…

Well, Happy Birthday kiddo… I think that was exactly the reaction we were hoping for…. except for that weird, “I am victorious!”, exclamation, which mostly just tells me he’s been playing way too many video games already, and doesn’t have a suitable vocabulary to express elation!


Tackiest Present Ever Competition

Do you have a friend or family member with whom you have this strange competitive thing going on, whereby you attempt to exchange the most odd/bizarre/tacky or just plain stupid present with?  Or maybe you have a perpetual present that keeps being re-gifted from person to person to person… and at any given point, someone is ‘stuck’ with the stupid thing.

We have a tendency to do both thanks to a slightly off kilter sense of humour that runs in my family, and it is never so apparent as when it comes to gift giving.  There was the time that Surly wrapped up a stuffed cat for the Small Child for his birthday…  And the time that we took a large unwieldy and unattractive pottery ‘pod’ thing, that some well meaning friend had given my mother, and regifted it to my younger sister 250kms away, who then regifted it to BigSal who then regifted it to us, then it was regifted back to my Mum and it was supposed to be regifted to Edouardo up in Atherton, but no one every figured out how to ship the stupidly big thing!  😀   Then there was the time I spend hours search for the perfect black velvet painted Elvis for BigSal for her birthday, and somehow ended up giving her a weirdarse Sadler teapot instead!

I mean honestly, our fall back position for people who don’t hand over decent gift ideas for Christmas presents, is to frequently threaten them with a footspa!  Because, well, everyone needs a footspa like a hole in the head!  But I digress…

This year I was trying to find MrK a Christmas present and was absolutely 100% out of ideas, let alone decent ideas.  Then I happened upon this while out shopping one day:

And I thought to myself… MrK would LOVE that!  It’s exactly what has been missing in his life  😀  And of course, I would win the Single Use Appliance Christmas Present War this year with a Rollie Vertical Egg Cooker like this!  Sheer brilliance!  So after much deliberation (about 2mins 10 secs), I decided to give him one for Christmas – thinking it would either be awesome or end up gong back to the shop as soon as the stores re-opened.

rollie egg cooker

Well, Mr K opened it and looked at me with the ‘Umm, err thanks’ of beguiled gift recipients who aren’t sure if someone is taking the piss out of them or not, familiar the world over, thanked me for the unusual gift.  But then someone incredible happened… he tried it out and LOVED it.  And it has then been quick and easy and no clean up Rollie Eggs for everyone ever since.

rollie egg master


I was gobsmacked, the ridiculous half joking present had indavertently turned out to be a success .  But wait… there’s more!  He told everyone at work that he had bought his wife a new iPad Air for Christmas and that she had bought him a Rollie Egg Cooker.  Which apparently piqued their interest (either that or he is one helluva salesman!) because suddenly everyone at his work wanted to try it out.  So he was going to take his Rollie Egg cooker to work and I went ‘Meh, I will go get you another one and you can have Rollie Eggs for lunch’.  I managed to pick one up and then Mr K had to spend his monrings for the following week showing everyone how to make Rollie Eggs! He had people from other divisions turning to cook vertical eggs and eventually people from different floors deciding they loved the Rollie Egg Cooker.

Sigh… guess I’ll just have to work harder on my tacky/weird present buying skills…

BoardGame Geek Secret Santa

So, I’ve signed myself up for the Reddit Secret Santa gift swap again this year (even though I was mightily stood up last year by my Secret Santa AND my Re-matched Secret Santa… and because I have found it is so much fun sending presents to strangers, I have signed up for the BoardGame Geek Secret Santa too!

Today, my BoardGame Geek Secret Santa sent me a message… seems I have some hoops to jump through before Christmas.

“Subject: HoHoHo

Thank you for sharing some information about yourself on your profile page. It was most helpful, particularly the bit about Australian retailers. If left up to our own devices, it would take quite a long time to travel across the world to Australia and I do not want you waiting for Christmas cheer.

Before I ship off your gifts, (yes I said gifts!!), I ask that you become a little more involved here in the BGG Community. They truly are a wonderful group of people! If you could create a Geeklist detailing your personal foray/history into the boardgaming hobby and culminating into finding BGG and whatnot, that would make Santa very happy indeed. 

I promise to be in touch shortly!

Ho Ho!

So, first things first… what’s a GeekList?  And second things second… how do I make one?  Time to call in the expert – Big Sal to the rescue.  She came over this afternoon and showed me what they were, where they were on the (incredibly counter-intuitive and convoluted) website and gave me some advice on what to put in the GeekList.  I have just finished writing it and I’m guessing that poor old Secret Santa is probably going regret asking me to write something… it’s a bit long winded – as is my usual habit!  :S

“Not so long ago, my sister, BigSal, convinced me that I should join a community of BoardGame Geeks. It seemed like a grand idea, because once she showed me the site I could see there was lots of fantastic information here. When Secret Santa time came around, she convinced me to sign up too. Because I have participated in Reddit Gift exchanges in the past, it didn’t take much to convince me. Sending presents to strangers is awesome fun! 🙂  So, here we are, Santa has asked me to make a GeekList about how I ended up playing boardgames, someone probably should have warned him that brevity is not one of my more prevalent virtues!  😀

… ahem …

Once upon a time, when I was just a wee little girl, the first games I remember playing were card games that I used to play with my Grandma. Grandma was one helluva card player – she played Euchre and Bridge with a bunch of other wily old ladies at least a couple of times a week. and you’d have thought that she’d go easy on her granddaughters, letting them win one here and there… but not my Grandma! If she was in, she was in it to win it.

She taught us to play Canasta… ‘A quick game’s a good game, girls!’
She taught us to play 500… ‘Every little piggy’s got a heart!’
She taught us to play Cribbage… ‘That’s 15/2. 15/4. 15/6 and one for his hat!’

She used to beat us mercilessly, and I swear the dear old duck could count cards – she always knew when we were reneging, ‘I know one of you girls has the six of diamonds left, you have to follow suit you know. Those are the rules!’ We couldn’t pull the wool over Grandma’s eyes, no matter how hard we tried.

Other than cards, most of the games we played as a kid were fairly solid late 70s and early 80s staples…

games uno againUNO:
 My family used to camp a LOT when I was a kid and I don’t just mean a week away here, or a week away there. When we went camping, my parents would pull us out of school and we would pack up the 4WD, the tent and head Outback to some unheard of destination on a well planned three month holiday where we spent our days exploring National Parks and climbing mountains and our nights around the campfire. On days when it rained, my Mum would pull out the Uno which was easy enough for even my 6 year old sister to play, and we’d play for hours, laughing and ganging up on my Dad. To this very day, playing Uno reminds me of the smell of wet canvas.  🙂

game scrabble 1SCRABBLE:  My other favourite board game as a kid was Scrabble. I’ve always been in love with words and language – oddly for an Aussie, I actually used my dictionaries for something other than squashing spiders, and would frequently read them… for fun! I loved learning big words and clever, high scoring little words. But I remember getting frustrated when I pulled crap letters out of the Scrabble bag and so I used to roll the bag around until I thought I glimpsed better letters to pull out. I always wanted the x, J, Q, Z and harder letters for higher scores. Sometimes when I was bored, I would cheat by taking letters off the board and swapping them with letters from my tray when my sisters were busy studying their trays. Strangely no one ever noticed when a word changed from ‘wander’ to ‘wanter’! Nowadays, I’d never cheat at Scrabble, but I still can’t get people to play with me because people have been calling me a walking dictionary since I was a teenager. (I love Words With Friends if anyone wants to play – search for me: borysSNORC)

game trivial pursuitTRIVIAL PURSUIT:  The next main board game that had a significant impact on my formative years would have to be Trivial Pursuit – the original version, of course. I used to love that game! We played it a lot when I was a teenager. I always used to pick the Green (Science) and Blue (Geography) questions… and I always struggled to win the Orange (Sports) slice of pie. Unless I got a random question about darts, snooker or horse racing, I could never win the Orange piece of pie. It would frustrate me to no end. Actually, we pulled out the original Trivial Pursuit game not so long ago and tried to play it… I did much better with the History and Literature questions than I used to do but it was weird how many of the questions were no longer relevant any more – and none of us could answer them. Equally weird was how fast I could still move the pieces around the board in rapid 3s and 5s to keep the players landing on the ‘Roll Again’ spots.  😛

game pictionaryPICTIONARY:  Another favourite game we used to play a great deal was Pictionary. I don’t know who invented Pictionary but I’d be very interested to find out just how many relationship spats they are responsible for! We had (still have!) a rule around here – no playing Pictionary with your spouse/partner. For some reason, the menfolk of our acquaintance simply can’t draw to save themselves (perhaps because many of them are fantastic IT geeks rather than artists!) and this has led to many occasions where a couple find themselves getting so frustrated with one another that a huge row will ensue about the state of each others drawings. We also have another rule around here – I am not allow to team up with my sister Salaberge… she and I draw too well and always wipe the floor with our opponents! So to keep things fair, we don’t play together anymore.  😀

game articulateARTICULATE:  Now that ‘no pairing up with Salaberge’ rule, goes double for Articulate! We are similar in age and have had sooo many shared experiences that once we start playing Articulate, the clues are often so obscure, and so full of in jokes, that no one else can understand how we can possibly convey the answers! For example, I remember one time we were playing and I had to describe to her the people: ‘Rogers and Hammerstein’. Some people might have launched into a list of their musicals. I didn’t. These were the clues she got: ‘First name, “Slow down I’m frightened!”. Second name, ‘You hit a nail with it and you drink beer in Germany from this!”.’ My sister Salaberge was on it in a heartbeat and yelled out ‘Rogers and Hammerstein!’ so quickly it left our opponents literally throwing in the cards and refusing to play any further… and left me explaining a story about our mutual friend BluddyMary had a driving instructor that told her to say that to speeding boyfriends some twenty years earlier! Yeah… I wouldn’t play against us either. 😛

game carcassonneCARCASSONNE: In more recent years we have taken to playing more strategy type games… I have Carcassonne and love to play it with my brother in law who has actually been to Carcassonne and loves the region. Carcassonne is one of those games that we *have* to play with plenty of red wine in stock. We like to sit in comfy chairs, drink some nice shiraz from the Hunter Valley paired with an elaborately made up cheese board and settle in for a night of games with good friends.   We also love games like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, and a whole host of other games that my friends have.  One game I have to say, I absolutely abhor is Ankh Morpork. ‘Tis quite the worst* game I have ever endeavoured to play in my entire life (*perhaps a slight exaggeration, but nothing else comes to mind!). You have to have the conditions to win met at the BEGINNING of your turn, so the one and only time I played it I had won and lost it four times over dragging out the inevitable victory until I had no satisfaction in winning it at all. It is very tedious indeed! Never again!

game cards against humanityCARDS AGAINST HUMANITY:   OMG… Have played this a few times, and with the right friends and the right amount of alcohol and you find yourself in a card game version of American Pie – it is so absurd and so absolutely lacking in decorum, good taste or sensibility and yet you find yourself laughing so hard that your sides ache and your cheeks are sore.  Your quiet and respectable friends are suddenly surprising you with the levels of depravity that are coming out of their imaginations.  Your louder and more gregarious friends are absolutely excelling themselves at providing the most groan-worthy and appalling juxtapositions of concepts that you’re not sure you can survive another hand.  Your best friend who you have known for a lifetime comes out with some of the most rude, and deliberately insensitive combinations that you find yourself thinking, ‘Who are these people!?’  And before you know it, you’re working hard to try and top them in the depravity stakes… it’s like you suddenly found yourself on the bad side of the internet – and for some reason, instead of running screaming from the room, you find it hilarious.  You’ll laugh until you cry, and then you’ll feel guilty at having found amusement in such abhorrent phenomena!
Today I came home from holidays and found a present under the tree (well, in a DHL shipping box, but you get the idea) from BoardGame Geek’s Secret Santa… and I received these!
boardgame geek secret santa galaxy trucker love letter

BigSal assures me this is an awesome fun game and no doubt we will get to give it a go over the holidays at some point.  I had a lot of fun sending stuff to my secret santa who was in the US.  As well, as stuff I sent to my Reddit secret santa who was in Germany.  So much fun sending presents to people all over the world.  Get amongst it.  🙂


Saving my pennies.

Now, I am aware that not all houses suffer from the strange and unusual phenomenon that I’m about to describe, but our house definitely does.  The curiosity to which I am alluding is the frequently acquisition of random piles of coin… and lots of them.

I am one of those people you see holding up supermarket queues, usually rifling through her purse to try and give the cashier some coins so I can get back notes, and not end up walking around with a purse that is heavy enough to cause spinal curvature.  In my experience, many men do not engage in this fleeting two second exercise to minimize the amount of coin they are carrying around, and as such generally whip notes out of their wallet for every new purchase.  The numerous coins they then accrue from every transaction go from pockets to floating around the house, dumped in neat little piles here and there. Which means that doing the laundry, emptying the car console, turning the sofa cushions, or even just wiping down benches can often prove very lucrative.

And having spare coin in the house can be really handy too.  Every vendor at the farmer’s market looks on in delight as you ‘apologize’ for your $20 purchase all being paid in gold coins.  The Small Child once received a pretty bag full of gold coins to blow at a video arcade on his birthday which he thought was the best thing ever.  And of course, there’s that ‘I really don’t want to pay you for X,Y or Z, but I have to, so I’m going to pay you entirely in schrappers’ thing.  They can come in handy for that too!

Anyway, lately I’ve been collecting all the coins from around the house, raiding Mr K’s coffee fund even, and throwing them in my piggy bank – in this case the largest spare Tupperware container I have in the house that isn’t in use – because a few weeks ago, I said I’m going to have to start ‘saving my pennies’ for my big Alaskan adventure… and I meant it, literally!  What better way to save up some spare spending money than to pool the loose change that ends up floating around the house!  At the time, Yale laughed at me and said “I’ve got a handful of coins you can have.”  *Sigh*  Will they never learn!  Never hang shit on a girl on a mission!  When my money box gets full, I’ll cash it in for US currency to add to all the USD$1 notes I got on my birthday, and all will be well with the world.  🙂

schrappers piggy bank money box cash in

About a week or so later I was out and about, and Yale told to me “Close my eyes and open my hands.”  Now, we all know this either ends really pleasantly or extremely unpleasantly, so I looked at him skeptically and the facial expression he was wearing wasn’t telling me much about which end of the spectrum to expect, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt and put my hands out… from the bottom of his bag, he pulled out a ziplock plastic bag full of coins and unceremoniously dumped them into my hands!  I nearly dropped them at the unexpected weight and said, “What’s this for?”

To which he replied, “I said I had a handful of coin to help you save your pennies for your trip.”  I had completely forgotten his throw away comment and I stared at this amazing and crazy and silly, yet extremely thoughtful and generous gift.  I had no idea of his having been serious when he said he had a handful of coin for me… and I had no idea that his ‘handful’ of coin would equal about three of mine!  I have no idea how much was in that ziplock bag, as I just tipped it straight into the Tupperware coin bank, smiling and shaking my head as I did so.

A bag full of random coins.  Who would have thought that a plastic bag full of change could be such a wonderful and unexpected gift that would it make a lasting impression as one of the best presents ever!  I am still incredulous at the thoughtfulness of such a simple gesture… or maybe I’m just amazed when people actually listen to me and decide to come along for my strange flights of fancy!

I had to take my TupperPiggyBox to the bank today – it was either that or find a bigger container, and then I probably wouldn’t be able to lift it. Today’s schrappers netted $275 to add to my holiday fund.  It’s not a huge amount, but it’s better than them being left scattered down the back of the sofa!


Tickle Me Elmo; Colour Me Happy!

In an attempt to try and reduce the vitriole and angst that regularly spews forth in these pages, I am going to endeavour to dig up!  And by dig up, I mean find some fun and funny memories of some of the good stuff that we sometimes don’t really pay enough attention to… I’m thinking stuff even from ‘way back when’, shouldn’t be forgotten.

So… once upon a time, back in May of 1997, I met a young man at a house warming party in Annerley.  We hit if off straight away (but that’s another story) and met up at an SCA event the following weekend.  One day, shortly after he came to visit me at my work.  Which at the time, was The Disney Store at Garden City.  Yep, I spent a few years when I was at Uni doing my fine arts degree, working part-time as a ‘Cast Member’ for the Disney Store; flogging all things Pooh, trading in Disney trivia, being hammered with cartoon sing-a-long videos and basically drowning in stuffed Mickey Mouses!

Anyway, my gentleman caller joined me on my lunch break one day.  He turned up in a nice new suit and looking very dapper and we made polite ‘getting to know you’ chit chat along with enquiries as to how my day was going.  I vaguely remember telling him that one of our Disney Store ‘guests’ had accidentally left a Tickle Me Elmo in the store and I had been playing with it all morning and I laughingly told him that I hoped they didn’t come back for it because, well, let’s face it… Elmo rocks and I wanted to keep it!  We had a lovely lunch, he told me about a job interview he had coming up shortly, and made plans to see each other the following weekend.

A very distraught little girl turned up just after I returned from lunch and claimed her Tickle Me Elmo and the whole thing was forgotten.  I continued to go to Uni, continued to work at the Disney Store, the handsome young gentleman caller got the job he applied for, and within a few weeks we were inseparable.   A week or so later, he got his first pay check from his new job and called to say we should do dinner!  Sounded like an excellent plan.  What I wasn’t expecting, was the large box he handed me when  I walked in the door.  He gave me three guesses and I flailed around clueless through each one… only to open it up and discover a brand new Tickle Me Elmo of my very own!

tickle me elmo best present ever

I remember feeling extremely touched.  Not just because he bought me a gift.  Not just because he got me the second coolest toy of the season (behind Buzz Lightyear, of course).  Not just because it was an unexpected, non special occasion gift… I mean I was touched about all those things but, mostly, I was touched because he had been obviously been actually listening to me that day at lunch when I was talking about how much fun I was having with the Tickle Me Elmo.  Do you know how rare that is?  Someone who actually listens to the little stuff?  I knew right then he was a keeper.

Thank you Mr K.  I still have Tickle Me Elmo and he still reminds me how wonderful it feels to be really heard and understood by people who are special to us.  🙂

size comparison with a tickle me elmo