Sunday, August 28, 2011

Home Sweet...Hogwarts

With summer coming to an end and fall creeping up on us, I can’t help but daydream about cozy nights in front of the fireplace, warm spiked cider, and cute coats and scarves. If any place evokes these types of feelings, it’s Hogwarts, the well known magic school from the Harry Potter book series. I’ve created a cozy Hogwarts living room, inspired by rich browns and reds, worn in leather, and fantastical tapestries.

1. Pottery Barn, Alexandra Persian Style rug,  $229
3. Pottery Barn, Veranda Round Chandelier,  $349
4., "My Only Desire" art poster,  $15
5. Pottery Barn, Chesterfield Leather Arm Chair,  $1,599
6. Pottery Barn, Emmett Trunk coffee table, $599

Also check out this recipe for Butterbeer! (for a spiked version, add Butterscotch Schnapps)

Question: What are you most looking forward to in the fall?


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Baltimore Comic Con 2011

We came, we saw, we squealed like giddy nerd girls! This past Saturday, Chris and I drove up to Baltimore with our good friends Marius and TheBellyDancingGamer (from here on out TBDG) to frolic about the Baltimore Inner Harbor Convention Center. 
Phoenix and 3 Wolf Moon

This ain't no joke!

 Too short for the camera.


I am smiling.

My smile looks scary and forced here. But really, I was quite happy!

I wasn’t sure what to expect, this being my first Comic Con and all, but I had a great time! It wasn’t as big as some other cons I’ve been to (e.g.- Otakon and Katsucon) but for $20 I think it was worth it. There were lots of cool costumes (gave me lots of cool ideas for the next stop on the con tour) and a good sized dealer’s room with lots of great artists including Joel Watson (of Hijinks Ensue- As a side note, TBDG's "Buffy sketch" is on the front page!! ), Jo Chen (of Buffy, Serenity, Marvel and video game fame! Also I found out she’s local!), John Linsner (Dawn Creator) and various other famous and up-and coming talent. 

Then, there was the cosplay...for better or for, errr...worse.

Captain AMURR-ICA!

 Back from the future

Why was Scorpion all alone on that weird triangle? The world may never know.

Even Timmy had a costume! (Thanks Thinkgeek!)

Two Wolf Timmy Moon...I think my brain just exploded!!

Mortal Kosplay

Why so serious??

I purchased a really sweet DC Comics poster (for a great price) from Terry Huddleston (be on the lookout for a “Home Sweet” post based around this print!) and a Green Lantern Corps propaganda poster. All of the artists I spoke to or purchased something from were very gracious and down to earth, which made for a great experience. 

The only real down-side to the BCC was the Costume Contest. It was slightly disorganized, and was running VERY late. We got through the kids (all I can say is BABY THOR!) and a handful of the adults before we had to head back downstairs before everything closed. I haven’t looked up the results of the contest yet, but I’m pretty sure the Epic Optimus Prime took something home.

If I could offer some advice to the planners, it would be to have more events other than just the Q&A/Info panels. I would pick a couple of rooms to constantly run some TV/Movie spinoffs (i.e.- Justice League, Batman Beyond, Smallville, Iron Man etc. ). I would also have more art panels, to include costume construction.  They should hire me as their nerd event planner. Be on the lookout for more BCC2011 recaps from TheBellyDancingGamer . (She’s WAY better about taking pictures than I am!)


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Are you Tough Enough?

This October, I will be participating in what will most likely be the most challenging physical experience of my life (up to that point of course.) I mean, it really is billed as the “Toughest Event on the Planet.” The event is TOUGH MUDDER, an obstacle course originally designed by British Special Forces. This year, TOUGH MUDDER will be at Wintergreen Resort on 22 October, a mere 2 -3 hour drive from where I live. 

Here is an interactive course map with all of the obstacles explained in detail.

Early on, a group of my friends and family decided to form a team and run the course together. There are seven of us, each, on some level, making a commitment to finish strong. Now I like working out, and try to exercise regularly, but if I want to be a “tough mudder” then I knew I had to kick up my workouts and healthy eating habits. (From Jabba to Jean Grey, if you will!) I have been doing a combination of outdoor trail runs, interval training, and strength training workouts to boost my overall fitness. I have been keeping track of my workouts and will occasionally post my “weekly re-caps” here on Dungeons and Diamonds. I am not a personal trainer, or a dietician, or any sort of fitness expert, by ANY means, but I will post the workouts, that have given me results and healthy eats that I enjoy.

 There will, of course, be a recap of Tough Mudder afterwards including mud filled photos and video!

Question: Are you currently training for a race or some other sort of physical event?


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Next on the Calendar...

...BALTIMORE COMIC-CON!!! (August 20, 2011)

Although I really want to make it out to San-Diego and NYC for their c-cons, Baltimore is much closer. I won’t have time to construct a sweet super-hero costume, so I’ll have to settle for a cute nerd shirt and jeans.

Leave a comment below if you are also attending. I'll see you Saturday!!


Monday, August 15, 2011

Container Gardening for Noobs

I am definitely a “noob” when it comes to gardening of any sort. But I told myself I was up for the challenge of putting together a small but fruitful container garden. The idea of having fresh, organic veggies and herbs to cook with was very appealing. I live in a small apartment with a decent sized balcony that receives the perfect amount of sunlight for such an undertaking. 


Space- You don’t need a lot of space, just a spot where your plants will be able to get a healthy amount of sun.

Containers- I purchased plastic containers with removable trays from both Target and Home Depot. They were pretty inexpensive with the small ones being around $4 and the larger ones being around $6. They can be as fancy or as plain as you want, but if you live in an apartment like I do, I definitely recommend getting ones with trays (or purchasing them separately). You don’t want the people below you to get dripped on. Also, make sure you get containers big enough for the plants that will be living in them. I made the mistake of cramming 5 (!!!) bean seeds into one small container, and they didn’t grow as big as they should have and didn’t produce very much. (Whomp whomp! Lesson learned!)

And just for fun- Solar Powered Plant Pot!

Seeds- I try to buy organic fruits and veg as much as possible (though they can be expensive) so I knew I wanted to go with organic seeds. I was also able to buy these at Target and Home Depot. With most veg seeds, you’ll want to start them indoors, until you get seedlings, and then transplant them into a bigger pot. I used something similar to these biodegradable pots to start my seeds.

Potting Mix- As you can see in the picture above, I went with Miracle Grow "Organic Choice" potting mix. It's a little more expensive than the regular stuff, so if you want to be frugal, you can get a BIG bag of non-organic potting soil (or dirt, as I did) and mix this stuff in.

Stakes and ties- If you’re growing tomatoes, cucumbers, or any other “veg on a vine” you might want to consider staking and tying them (as you’ll see in the pictures below). I’ve read that certain vegetables have the tendency to rot if they are sitting on the ground. We used a simple, tall plastic stake and biodegradable ties, also purchased at Home Depot. (An alternative is to make or buy plant cages that work similarly to a trellis.)

Internets and/or Library- It’s a good idea to brush up on the care of certain fruits, veggies and flowers. For example, until I started doing a little research, I didn’t know that rosemary doesn’t require as much watering as most other herbs.

And now, without further ado, our modest container garden:

Sad bean plants

 Mint, oregano, rosemary 
(sadly not as lyrical as "parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme...")

Organic Puppy

First cherry and heirloom tomato harvest! 
There has since been a TON more.

For container gardening advice from an expert, I highly suggest you visit Life on the Balcony- Container Gardening Tips for Apartment and Condo Dwellers

And to keep it nerdy, how ADORABLE are these Piranha Plant Earrings from etsy seller lizglizz ???!

Question: Do you attempted a container garden (or a regular one)? What were the results? Share any tips or tricks you have!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Jim Butcher: IRL

This past Monday, I attended my first ever book signing for none other than Jim Butcher, author of the Dresden Files series. Butcher is on a signing tour to promote his newest book in the Dresden series, Ghost Story. [I’m actually only on book 6, so no spoilers please!] Joining me in this adventure were two other members of the NEC gaming crew, Sitara and Marius. The three of us suffered through our workdays in anticipation of the nerd fest that awaited us. 
Beginning of the line

Around 5 PM, Barnes and Noble employees started handing out wristbands which noted a specific signing group. As Sitara said “We’re number two! We’re number two!” After our brief wait to get through the line, we decided a beer and some food were in order, and walked 10 feet away to the Gordon Biersch for some much needed fuel.

At 6:30 we headed to the second floor of B&N to mill about (in the SciFi/Fantasy section, which was TOTALLY unplanned) and wait for Jim to appear. The event consisted of an hour long Q&A session (Did you know Jim Butcher recently bought a LARP farm??) and a very well organized book signing. Butcher was very pleasant, down to earth, and definitely appreciative of his fans.

Storm Front Graphic Novel + Dresden-ettes + NEC Security

Through some strategic iPhone placement, I was able to capture the whole Q&A section. I've posted part one of the entire video and the other 4 parts are available to watch here on my YouTube Channel.

Jim Butcher 1 from Alexis B. on Vimeo.
Jim Butcher Q&A @ B&N Tysons Corner, Pt. 1

I had Jim sign the first volume of the Storm Front graphic novel, since Chris had already purchased a copy of Ghost Story on a business trip. Since the signing was pretty packed we kind of had to photo-bomb the pictures with Jim, but between the 3 of us, I think we made out pretty well.


 Afterwards, we did a little happy nerd dance over to the B&N cafĂ© for a drink and to geek out over our signed pieces of Dresden history. As a side note, I'd like to give a kudos to the Barnes and Noble staff at Tyson's Corner. They were pleasant, well organized, and from a participants point of view, the event went off without a hitch.
You can purchase your own copy of Ghost Story here and here.

Also, head over to The Belly Dancing Gamer to check out Sitara’s photos and write up of the event.

Question: Have you ever been to a book signing? What was your favourite?


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