Kickstarter! Park Sweet Treats Enamel Pins

DISNEYLAND! DELICIOUS TREATS! ENAMEL PINS! These are a few of my favorite things! 🎵

My good pal (and phenomenal Dungeon Master) Nikki Ward has taken all of these wonderful things and wrapped them into a fun Kickstarter project! Nikki ADORES Disneyland and visits more than most people I know (she and her husband even got married there). While I have yet to visit, I can’t help but me enamored by these adorable characters she’s created based on her favorite Park treats.

Nikki is a professional illustrator located here in Austin, TX and draws some of the most adorable fanart I’ve ever seen. She travels a lot for shows that she exhibits at and her style is all her own. While she’s known for her Disney work, she also does fanart of Overwatch, Critical Role, and much more – you can find prints and other products on her Society6 page. Nikki is also the founder of Geek Fire Labs where she makes bath and body products that SMELL AMAZING. From where I’m currently sitting, I can see three of her products in my bedroom: a kodama forest wax melt, my Droid Please lip balm, and my favorite Cthulhu perfume. Seriously, her stuff is so great.

As you can see, Nikki is a very skilled and experienced artist and maker. She’s made enamel pins before (I have her gorgeous Sailor Moon magical girl pin) but this is the first time she’s using Kickstarter as a platform for them. I’d love to see these Disney treat pins become a reality because they’re not only a personal passion of hers, they’re also just dang cute.

So please head over and pledge to the Park Treat Sweeties Hard Enamel Pins project.

Happy Star Wars Day! May the 4th be with us!

Happy Star Wars Day, my friends! It’s always Star Wars day in our home, but we celebrate today anyway because it’s also our wedding anniversary. Two years ago today, in a galaxy not so far far away, Jake & I got married while our friends held lightsabers and everyone ate an almost life-sized with working flame BB-8 cake. I might lean more towards the Dark Side, but I still love my Jedi husband.

Honestly, I’m never going to be tired of looking at pictures from our wedding. Partly because the day was a blur so I don’t actually remember much of it and pictures help, but mostly because it was just so perfect and so us and I’m just really glad this guy married me and that he loves Star Wars as much as I do. (We probably wouldn’t have gotten married if he wasn’t.) Fun story, when Jake first told his mom that he was dating someone, her first question was “Does she like Star Wars?” It was a match made in pre-explosion Alderaan.

Happy Star Wars Day and May the Fourth be with you!

Raven the Pirate Princess Needs Help!

It’s probably pretty clear by now that I really love comic books. Since I’m often stuck in bed due to my illness, I read a lot of them to keep from going insane. It happens. Currently, one of my all time favorite comic books is Raven the Pirate Princess, a Princeless comic series written by Jeremy Whitley. It’s not just a great comic, it’s also a very important comic.

When it comes to “Representation Matters” Raven has everything. Bisexuals, lesbians, disabilities, gender-identity questions, women of all shapes and colors and beliefs. And this is a comic book that, at least at my LCS, is found in the kids comic section. It’s family-friendly, honest, and sincere in its storytelling. Girls and grown women alike can find themselves in these pages. I’ve never read anything like it.

Unfortunately, Raven is in trouble. While this feminist series has a very loyal following, it’s a small one. And the numbers aren’t looking great. Jeremy wrote up the specifics on tumblr and it absolutely breaks my heart to see one of my favorite comics sinking because not enough people know about it. Which is why I’m writing this blog post. I want everyone to know how incredibly critical this comic is to little girls who need to know it’s okay to be who they are. To know that women can do and be all sorts of things. It’s an important reminder to those of us who are grown that we can still be strong and formidable in the face of adversity.

If the selection of pages I’ve posted hasn’t won you over, check out all the reviews and love being spouted for Raven on Jeremy’s tumblr and twitter. Those of us who have been fans since the beginning recognize the need for this comic to keep going.

So please, if you haven’t, read Raven the Pirate Princess. You can buy digital copies on Comixology and the physical volumes on Amazon. If you’ve already read Raven, buy copies for your friends. Get them hooked. Tell them to share with their friends. Share on social media. Share through word of mouth. Let’s just get the good word of Princeless out in the world. Everyone will be much better off with this comic book in their home.

A Night in the Woods & A Whole Lot of Feels

“At the end of everything, hold on to anything.”

Have you ever started playing a game that you don’t know much about but all your friends keep telling you to play? So you just do without actually looking up what it’s about? That’s what happened to me with Night in the Woods. And that’s also why I ended up crying my eyes out over a really well developed, well written, relatively short and incredibly deep video game.

Night in the Woods was primarily created by three people: Alec Holowka, Scott Benson, and Bethany Hockenberry. In 2013, it launched as a Kickstarter project and reached its goal of $50,000 in just 26 hours. In total, the game received $200,000 in funding and was released on PC, PS4, and Xbox in 2017 and for the Nintendo Switch in 2018. It was when it came to the Switch that I decided to jump on the bandwagon and play this game. I’m so glad I did.

I don’t want to give away anything about this game but here’s a short description. You play Mae, a college-dropout who has just returned home for the first time in a few years and discovers that in many ways, it’s just as she left it. But in other ways… well let’s just say the game takes a pretty surprising turn that leaves you wondering, “Just exactly what kind of game am I playing again?” Paste describes the themes covered as “mental illness, depression, the stagnancy of the middle and lower classes, and the slow death of small town America.” And that’s just a small part of what makes this game so real (despite the fact you’re playing anthropomorphic animals). For a short (I finished it in three days) side-scroller, this game really packs a punch emotionally.

If you follow me on twitter, you probably saw the distressed tweets I made after I finished this game. I was not at all prepared for how much this game impacted me. As someone who deals a lot with many of the same issues Mae has, I found myself uncomfortably familiar with the feelings she struggles with coming to terms with. At times it was like looking into the mirror of a younger me and I can’t say I liked it. But at the same time, the ending brought me comfort and the very real sense that I’m not the only one out there. And I’m incredibly grateful for my friends.

I know it’s only March, but so far Night in the Woods is my favorite game of 2018 and I’m really glad that I was able to knock it off of my To-Play games that I listed in my Fave Games of 2017 post. My initial prediction was correct: this game IS heartbreaking. If you haven’t played it yet, I highly highly recommend you add it to your list. Oh and if you enjoy the game, make sure you play the two mini-games located in the Extras section of the main menu. They add a little more to the main story and they’re just fun to play.

“The beginning is moments ago, the end is moments away. There is no time to forget before all is forgotten.”

Find Night in the Woods on the following sites:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
NitW Shop

Ostara: Springing Forward with New Life

Today is the day to make your offerings to the earth. Here in Texas, the signs of Spring have been growing rapidly the last month or so. Bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes are everywhere along the sides of the roads. Butterflies are all over our backyard. Flowers are blooming, the trees are filled with leaves, and the nights are warm. It’s my favorite time of year down here in the south. Our Spring is short – it all too quickly gives way to Summer here – so I’m grateful for this brief time where our windows can be open to let in the fresh air thick with the smell of fragrant gardens.

“The Lord and Lady of Spring have arrived
as the soil begins to change and new life awakens.
The sun draws close and warms the earth,
bringing light to the growing path at our feet.

Life is in Spring,
In the sunlit showers of a storm,
in the budding of a new flower,
in the fertile fields awaiting their seeds.
From the cool mornings to the warm afternoons
to the chill nights beneath the stars.
Spring has come and we are thankful.”

For me, today marks a personal resolution towards better and more forgiving self care, to be outside at least once a day to just sit and look and listen and feel the world moving around me. Today Medeina guides me forward to the earth, to find parts of myself I feel I’ve lost, and to protect the forests in my mind that I’ve neglected. I need to reconnect with the natural world somehow even if it just means sitting in the backyard. I’m thankful for our yard – it’s always filled with birds and squirrels and plants and life. And at night there are stars. I will honor my Goddess with renewed strength.

May Ostara bring joy and easiness into your lives, friends. 🌸🌱

My Third Annual PAX South Trip!

I went to PAX South both in 2016 and in 2017. And this year was no different from those past experiences: it was wonderful!

Just like last year, the Enforcers were incredibly wonderful and helpful and went out of their way to look out for me and get me where I needed to be at any given time. Even if we were late to something (because sometimes it’s a struggle to get through crowds when you’re in a wheelchair), we were taken care of and I’m so so very thankful to every single person who helped us. This year I even got to meet and give a big hug to Kristin Lindsay, head of the Enforcers and now a good friend. She’s wonderful and her Enforcers are wonderful – they make PAX what it is.

Unlike last year, we were only able to go one day instead of the usual three day weekend. My health has gotten a little worst than what it was a year ago so one day is all I can do now for an event like this. Thankfully, our good friends Claire and Pete let us crash in their hotel room the night before so we drove down Friday night and then got to spend all of Saturday at the con. We have very good friends.

Onto some pictures of our fun time!

Furry Husband and I in our usual selfie pose.

Click here to continue reading this article.

Imbolc Blessings, Friends! Winter is Half Over!

Photo by Thorp Perrow

Happy Imbolc, friends.

We are midway through Winter and Spring is around the corner (much closer here in Texas). Now is the best time to cuddle close to family and to connect with the things that make you feel at home. Now is the time to learn patience (for those of us without it) and take your energy to heal and be healthy (as much as one can). The Wheel of Life continues to turn regardless of our wants and wishes so take a moment to visualize the goals ahead of you and plant each step firmly into the ground moving forward (metaphorically and literally for those able). Stay warm and keep light in your heart as the sun shines longer in the sky each day.

“May Brighid the Shining One bless this day.
May the Light of the Gatherer of Hope,
the Bringer of Springtime,
the Brightener of Seasons
be upon you as you set forth today.
Laughter of the running hours be yours,
and with the leave of lightness, may you come home in joy.”

If you’re looking for an answer to something, maybe you’ll find it in the flames of a fire tonight. Tonight is Brighid’s night, Keeper of the Flames and Goddess of the Hearth. She’s guide to home and heart. She may have what you’re looking for. Think of her as the night fades and the sun rises to warm the world around you.

Blessed be.

Last year I did a review of my favorites games of 2016, so I figured that would be another good way to kick off 2018: by looking back at my favorite games that came out in 2017. In my previous post, I wrote about how my health had started going down hill and I was using gaming as a means of escapism from the stress of my life. Unfortunately that hasn’t changed and my health has continued its downward spiral. I’m now in a wheelchair most of the time and have started having seizures at least once a month, which, tragically, are sometimes brought on by the beloved games I play. Thankfully, I’ve gotten familiar with the pre-seizure aura and sometimes I’m able to stop it from happening. And I can feel when I’ve sat upright and played too much. Gaming isn’t as easy as it used to be, but it’s still the number one thing I use to escape from reality.

2017 was a year of amazing games. I honestly had a hard time narrowing this list down because so many good ones came out but I think I have my favorites in order as well as the ones I wish I had had time to play. So without further ado, here are my favorite games of 2017.

Horizon Zero Dawn

What is it: THE BEST GAME OF THE YEAR! Horizon Zero Dawn is a brand new game from Guerrilla Games, the folks behind the Killzone games. It’s a game that completely steps out of the box for them, and man did they do an EPIC job on this one. HZD is a single player, third person action-adventure game with a few RPG elements rolled in. Some folks market it as an RPG game but it’s really not the best description since there aren’t a lot of choices you can make that impact story elements, but the story that’s already there is an incredibly deep and complex one that seeps into every aspect of the game. It takes place in a post-post apocalyptic United States and you play Aloy, an outcast of her village, who must leave the home she’s always known to save the world and find out who she really is – literally. No one knows who she is and slowly throughout the game, you start putting the puzzle together. The world is huge and filled with machine-monsters that look like robot dinosaurs and the ruins of places that you might recognize from the real world.

Why I love it: There are so many reasons why I adore this game. Aloy herself is a very likable and relatable character, and the world she lives in never ceases to surprise me and keep me on my toes. The gameplay itself is fantastic and easy to understand with clear UI and a very cute tutorial at the beginning that blends right into the story. I adore the almost open world concept and the fact that the game has an ongoing day-night cycle that includes changing weather elements that reflect the real world. Even the tiniest detail brings me joy – the trail of footprints you leave in the snow, the way your feet shuffle realistically through the snow, the small gestures Aloy make when she’s standing still, and the way people look at you depending on where you are. Guerrilla Games did an amazing job making this game feel REAL in a sense that I’ve never felt from other games. And the research that must have gone into making this post-post apocalyptic world as real of a reflection of what could be is insane. To the point that it’s almost scary because man, some of this stuff you learn on your journey sounds way too familiar. Anyway, if you have a playstation, buy this game. It’s unfortunately a Sony exclusive title but to be honest, I love this so much I’d buy a playstation just to play it. (I was already to so in love with this game before it came out, I splurged and bought the limited collector’s edition with the giant Aloy statue and I’m so glad I did.)

Mass Effect Andromeda

What is it: Mass Effect Andromeda is the latest game in the Mass Effect series by Bioware. It takes place roughly 630 years after Mass Effect 3 and strays away from the characters that we had grown and loved from the original trilogy. You’re no longer playing Commander Shepard, instead you play Sara or Scott Ryder, who eventually becomes the Human Pathfinder for the space station Nexus. The other big difference is that we’ve left our own galaxy behind in search of a new place to call home: the Andromeda Galaxy. And leaving our galaxy means meeting all new alien species, some nice and others not so nice, and finding new flora and fauna to study and planets to settle. This is a true RPG like the original series – all your actions and choices impact the story going forward. And once again, many of your companions are romanceable (and important objective for any Bioware game).

Why I love it: I’ll be real with you, when this game first came out it was filled with bugs and glitches and because of that, did not review well with a lot of Mass Effect fans. Despite this, I actually found the game very enjoyable – I love the new companions (especially Vetra and Jaal) and I really adored Sara Ryder (and her VA Fryda Wolff). The story was good to – the idea of going to another galaxy and trying to settle there has all sorts of implications, good and bad, for the original species that make their home there. It brings about a lot of complex questions while staying true to the sort of game Mass Effect is – you answer those questions yourself. Once the last patch for the game went through, Bioware had fixed most of the issues with the first release and I’ve had even more fun playing it a second time. It’s not as emotional as the original trilogy, but I’m also coming from a place where the first games are very much ingrained in who I am so it had some pretty high standards to live up to. It can’t really compete with nostalgia of the original trilogy or with the complete world that Dragon Age Inquisition had created. But it’s still a good game and one I will keep going back to play.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins

What is it: Assassin’s Creed Origins is the latest edition to the AC series by Ubisoft. It’s a third person action-adventure game that takes place before all the other AC games – hence the name Origins. You go back in time to learn how the Brotherhood of Assassins came to be and why they are in conflict with the Templar Order. It’s a very immersive game right from the beginning and you find yourself playing a Medjay named Bayek, and his wife Aya as they navigate the Egyptian world of 49 BC. The history of that time is real but the story told is fictional, making for a very interesting and in depth narrative. The gameplay is different from past AC games – it’s more fluid and realistic, and, in my opinion, easier to fight with. Like all AC games, it does have the necessary two worlds – the past and the present. In the present, you’ll find Layla Hassan, a researcher who discovers ancient Egyptian tombs and decides to relive the memories of the past.

Why I love it: I’ll start this by saying I haven’t finished this game yet! But oh my gosh, do I love it. I’ve only ever played one AC game before (Black Flag) so this was a game that was only on my “Want to Play” list because of what I had seen during E3. My husband bought it and I was instantly floored with how different the style felt from previous AC games. I immediately started playing on my own and fell in love with the Bayek, the setting, and the heartbreaking story of these characters. Every interaction you have in this game is very dynamic, from guards to benign NPCs to the animals (OMG THE CATS). Oh and having your eagle companion Senu for “eagle vision” is such a small but significant change from the other games – it makes all the difference to the narrative and to the realistic portrayal of Bayek. It’s so good. Many of the reasons I love ACO are the same reasons why I love Horizon Zero Dawn – the research that went into crafting a fiction narrative in a real world setting is so incredibly impressive. I’m blown away by this game.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

What is it: I had to include a mobile game in this list since I’m on my phone a lot. Pocket Camp is the new mobile Nintendo game for Animal Crossing. It’s cute, adorable, and very easy to play (and it’s addictive). I’ve never played Animal Crossing games but I got sucked into this one because all of my friends were playing. Basically you create your human character (the only human in this world apparently) and set up a community campsite where you can decorate and build lots of things. You then invite the different animal campers you meet into your campsite by raising their friendship levels through bribery (I mean, really, that’s what it is). You give animals things they want, they give you awards, their friendship goes up, and eventually they agree to visit your campsite (as long as their demands for specific “glamping” items are met). Honestly the whole premise is kind of weird, but it works. Somehow.

Why I love it: There are days that I’m not able to play console games or even watch TV because I get sick or my epilepsy is triggered. It’s on these days that I’m on my phone the most (it’s literally the only way I socialize most days) and having a fun and cute mobile game to play keeps my game cravings to a minimum. When I say it’s addictive I’m not kidding. When I first started playing it, I was checking it every two hours because that’s when the campers rotate. I’m not as addicted now but I still play it once a day because Nintendo is constantly adding new characters, items, and events. It makes me actually want to play Animal Crossing on a console for the first time – I never realized what this game was about but it seems pretty cool. And it helps that it’s adorable. I even love the sound effects in the game and I usually always have the sound off on my phone. But the way the characters talk reminds me a lot of Banjo-Kazooie noises and I love it.

Star Wars Battlefront II

What is it: Star Wars Battlefront II is the sequel to Star Wars Battlefront (duh) and it’s even better than the original in almost every way. It has both a short campaign solo story and also it’s more popular multi-player game mode. The single-player story mode has you play Iden Versio, the leader of an Imperial Special Task Force called Inferno Squad. You play the game through her eyes and watch as her perception of the war changes – first with the Rebels and then the Empire. It’s a really strong narrative, and even better if you read the prequel novel Inferno Squad by Christie Golden. The gameplay itself is very straight-forward and very linear – it’s a stark contrast from the open-world concept that is so prevalent in video games now. The multi-player mode consists of eleven planets and features battles from all three eras of the Star Wars movies. It’s a much bigger and robust game than the original Battlefront.

Why I love it: When the first Battlefront came out, my husband and I got to try it out at SDCC and loved it – we’ve played together in Battlefront II and the maps are even better. I first got excited about Battlefront II when Janina Gavankar introduced Iden Versio at E3 last year. A female Imperial Officer as the main character of a full campaign? YES PLEASE. I was hooked. Unfortunately I couldn’t play the entire campaign myself. I got as far as the first dogfight battle in space and ended up having a seizure (this sometimes happens with FPS views). So instead, I watched (and listened) to my husband play the rest of it for me and made me so happy that the Inferno Squad story continued in the way it did after the book. The book left me wanting more, and the video game gave me the conclusion I wanted. I’m a big fan of books supplementing content for movies and games although I know others feel differently. Outside the story mode, the maps of the multi-player games are fantastic – the graphics are unbelievably detailed and beautiful. My favorite is the fight against the droids on Naboo. What a gorgeous setting. This game got off to a rocky start with fans, but I really love where it’s ended up.

Games I Wish I had Played

There’s never enough time in the year to play all the games I want to play. Here’s a few of the games I missed out on (even though some of them I actually own already).

  • Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: I mostly haven’t played this game because Jake has hogged the Switch since we got it and has been playing this game constantly. From what I’ve seen, it looks amazing and I can’t wait to get a turn to try it out.
  • Super Mario Odyssey: Another game I actually own already but I just haven’t had a chance to play yet. It looks really good and I’ve been excited for it since E3. Jake has played a little and from what I’ve seen, it holds up to the hype.
  • Night in the Woods: Oh my gosh I want to play this game so much. I just found out it’s coming to the Switch so I’m looking forward to buying another game for our latest family console. The whole story looks so good and possibly heartbreaking.
  • Pyre: I love everything that comes out of Supergiant Games. Transistor is one of my favorite games and I loved Bastion so when I heard they were coming out with another game, I was stoked. I only just recently bought it and I can’t wait to dive in.
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice: This game has gotten such strong reviews and I’ve almost bought it a few times. I recently had a friend play through it and tell me I HAD to play it so it’s on my list for this next year.

Welp, that’s it. That’s my 2017 Gaming Year in Review. I highly recommend all the games I’ve mentioned here, even the ones I haven’t been able to play yet because I have full faith in all of them. Especially Horizon Zero Dawn. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2018 has in store for us. Monster Hunter World, anyone? (The beta was pretty fun.) Bioware’s Anthem is also supposed to be out in 2018 and it’ll be interesting to see what they’ve come up with. But the game that’s got my eye right now and I’m hoping beyond hope that it ACTUALLY comes out? Kingdom Hearts III. Perhaps 2018 is the year they finally give us this game. They say it’s coming, but do I dare believe them? We’ll see.

Happy 2018, everyone!

Spoiler-free Feelings on the 13th Doctor

When the new Doctor Who started in 2005 I was an old Who elitist who swore never to watch the new stuff. I’d grown up on the old. It was everything. I couldn’t imagine how they could make the old Doctors better than they already were. Turns out I was just being a stubborn snob. Thankfully people change and I’m glad I did. My dad is the one who ultimately got me to embrace the new Doctors by introducing me to a few Matt Smith episodes. I gave in and I’m so glad I did. Because it all led to this perfect moment. Something I’ve wanted to see since I was a wee teenager stuck in her ways.

I dressed up for tonight’s special occasion.

Having someone you’ve loved and admired, someone you’ve idolized, someone you’ve considered a hero for most of your life, suddenly become a reflection of YOU is life-changing. It’s heartwarming. It fills you with joy and love. And most of all, it gives you hope.

Seeing the Doctor become me, even for a moment, was everything. I can’t stop crying. I cried when they first announced her and released the video of Jodie Whittaker taking her first steps towards the Tardis. I cried when they gave us photos of her new outfit. Everything about her speaks to me and who I am. I can’t help but cry.

Representation matters. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. I hope that every single person gets to feel this feeling. It needs to happen more. For all people. It needs to happen now. This is why diversity matters. This is why being inclusive and welcoming MATTERS.

It’s sad that after SO MANY YEARS we finally got a female Doctor. A WHITE female Doctor. Now imagine the impact a Doctor who is black or brown or any race other than white would have on young children searching for themselves on TV. Imagine a trans Doctor or a disabled Doctor or ANYTHING OTHER THAN WHAT WE’VE ALWAYS HAD.

This small step, making the Doctor a woman, has reduced me to a blubbering baby because my heart has wanted this since I was introduced to Doctor Who when I was a kid (it became more of an obsession when I was around 14). MORE THAN HALF MY LIFE I HAVE BEEN WANTING THIS MOMENT. I can’t adequately describe to you all of the feelings I am having right now.

I want everyone to have this feeling. I want future kids to grow up not having to know this feeling because diversity is so common they don’t have to wait for these moments. I want them to grow up seeing themselves in media everywhere, no matter their walk of life. That is the hope.

This is a small step but it matters. Representation matters.
I am so excited for our new Doctor. I love her already.

Blessed Yule & Happy Solstice

yule

“Cold and dark this time of year,
the earth lies dormant,
awaiting the return of the sun,
and with it life.
Far beneath the frozen surface a heartbeat waits,
until the moment is right to spring.

As the earth grows colder,
the winds blow faster,
the fire dwindles smaller,
and the rains fall harder,
let the light of the sun
find its way home.”

Blessed Yule, my friends. Tonight is the longest and darkest night of the year, but when the sun rises in the early hours, a new year begins again with light and with hope. It has been a hard year for hope, but that doesn’t stop it from burning its way into my heart. I have a lot of wishes for the coming year but I will keep them close for now (most of them being health-related).

I hope the sun brings brighter days for the world and peaceful blessings to you and yours. May the new sun warm the hearts and souls of all.

🌑🌞❄️✨