The Game Cabinet

This is my favorite shelf in our game cabinet. It contains all of my very favorite games–the ones from Days of Wonder, (my favorite game company), including all of the different incarnations of Ticket to Ride and also Mystery of the Abbey, (which I love, even though I’m terrible at it!);The Pillars of the Earth, plus its expansion, as well as its sequel, World Without End; the Thurn and Taxis games, Carcassonne, (which Ryan just introduced me to, causing me to start looking at more game expansions), and even a game called Nuns on the Run. What can I say–I really enjoy the religious genre in games!

(Just don’t judge me for considering getting a game called The Name of the Rose, in which you play a monk with a secret identity, and also Habemus Papam, in which you get to, as the title suggests, elect a new pope.)

The only things missing from this shelf are Settlers of Catan, which is in a box so big and awkward, it has to reside on the top of the game cabinet, and Mystery Express, another Days of Wonder train based game that I hope to purchase at some point before it goes out of print!

Another Christmas Tradition

Every year on Christmas Eve, after the children are in bed and the presents placed under the tree, Ryan and I play my favorite board game–Ticket to Ride: Christmas Edition. OK, it’s actually called Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries, but the game is so pretty and Christmas-y, with holly and snow on the board and cards, and what I’m guessing (based on the geography of the game) is Julinisse on the box cover. This is the only time of year we get out this version of Ticket to Ride, and I look forward to it just as I do everything else that has to do with Christmas!

My Favorite Things–My House

Thought I’d take a departure from my usual lists of things to write about what I like best about my house.

Upstairs Laundry Room–First of all, after living in three different apartments, I’m still just grateful to have my own washer and dryer!  And, ever since my vicarage-induced fear of basements, the idea of having to go down into one almost daily has terrified me.  I love that the machines are upstairs, where most of the stuff I wash is located.  I also love that it’s right next to the playroom, so I don’t have to wonder what my children are up to when I’m doing one of the at least ten loads of laundry that need to be washed every week.

Upstairs Playroom–I suppose if we had a finished playroom in the basement, that could be on the list as well (basement phobia aside).  The point is, I like having a place for our toys that’s not in the main living area of the house.  It helps at least contain the clutter when the bulk of the toys are upstairs.

Open Kitchen/Living Room–It’s so nice to be able to be a part of what’s going on in the main area of the house when I’m cooking, cleaning, or doing something at the table like clipping coupons.

Kitchen Faucet–Silly thing to like, I know, but it pulls out from the fixture to become the dish sprayer. Genius!

Pantry–Big enough to hold everything I want it to, and also keep the trash can and the craft bin out of the way.  I applaud the person who decided that kitchens deserved closets, too!

Kitchen Island–(Can you tell I love my kitchen?!?)  I love the extra work space and cabinet space.  But what I really love about the island is that it allows me to work at the counter without turning my back on the rest of the kitchen/my children/the TV/the door (I’m weird about having my back to the door).  I can see what’s going on, and still prepare my meals–the best of both worlds!

Blankets–We have a stack of blankets in the corner (when the children haven’t draped them all over) of our living room.  They don’t match each other or anything else–we have fleece and chenille, character blankets and quilts, animal and sports themed blankets.  But I love knowing that if someone is chilly when watching a movie, or just wants to snuggle in a blanky because it’s soft, they can just grab a blanket off the pile.

Game Cabinet–I love this for two reasons.  One, I love the armoire itself.  It’s pretty, I like the color of the wood, and it matches the rest of the furniture.  Two, I love that it’s filled with all kinds of games.  Games for kids and games for adults, family games, group games, and, of course, my favorite, our collection of Ticket to Ride games.  The place to go if you’re looking for some fun!

TV–Just in case the fun we’re looking for is a little more passive than games, I’m happy that we have a nice TV (and a nice collections of DVDs to go with it!) where we can veg out together, watch movies, the news, the Olympics (can you tell I can’t wait?)–whatever strikes our fancy.

Living Room Picture–We bought this picture of Jesus as a toddler helping Joseph in his carpentry shop as a wedding gift to each other.  It is one of the few things that has been with us on all our moves, and displayed proudly in all our homes.  My favorite thing about it is the shadow cast behind toddler Jesus, not in the shape of a child, but the shape of a cross.  Very cool.

Mission Theme–I didn’t even realize at first that our house had a theme, decor-wise.  Then, one day it hit me–we have a lot of mission furniture, and the other decorations, especially in the living room, also kind of fit the theme.  Maybe I have decorating talent I wasn’t even aware of!

Master Bathroom–Maybe it’s because my parent’s house didn’t have a master bedroom/bathroom, but it’s still a novelty to me that we have a bathroom connected our bedroom.  I also love the garden style tub and separate shower–it’s as close to a spa as I’ll ever get.

Walk-in Closets–The three bedrooms we use as such all have walk-in closets.  It’s so nice to have the extra space for all our stuff–we’ve even put our dressers for two of the bedrooms in the closets!  It’s almost decadent!

Bookshelves–I love our bookshelves, not for themselves, because they’re the cheap, put-it-together-yourself from Target kind, but for the massive number of books we have on them.  I still use the library a lot, but I love knowing that I can find a book from pretty much any genre right here in my own home if I so desire.

Bedding–I love the bedding we have.  I’m specifically referring to our fall/winter bedding, because we just have a light blanket for the summer.  But our heavy comforter is the prettiest shade of indigo, and has matching shams and Euro shams, which I am a total sucker for–just love them.  Makes it seem like a hotel. And the high thread count sheets–I’ll never go back to cheap-o sheets again.  For that matter, I also love the bedding in our guest room–also has high thread count sheets, and I think the plaid comforter is very nice.

Back Door–I like having an actual door in kitchen.  Not a sliding door, but a regular old six panel door.  I am grateful not to have to worry about having blinds or curtains across a sliding door.

Photo Groupings–I spent a lot of time figuring out how I wanted to arrange the special photos I had framed.  I moved them around a bit, but for now, I think I have them way I want them.  Two black and white and three color groupings in the den (including one of our wedding photos, and one of the children’s first birthday portraits), as well as a Christmas-themed grouping in the living room.  I love having pictures of family and happy times to look at!

Christmas Decorations–They’re only out for four to six weeks of the year, but I love the decorations we’ve put together–our house definitely looks prettiest in December!

Americana Wall–My theme wall in the kitchen.  If we ever finish painting (it’s looking doubtful), all the kitchen walls will be red, and the valance and one curtain we have are navy blue.  Right next to the window with the blue curtain is my wall grouping of Americana “stuff.”  Rustic looking flags, stars, Uncle Sam, a “liberty” sign–you get the idea.  I’ve been collecting the stuff in that grouping (and it’s not that huge–less than ten things) since before we got married.  I really like what I’ve accumulated and the way I’ve arranged it, although I am looking for one last piece to balance it out.  I’ll know it if I ever see it–I’m waiting for something of a very specific size and shape!

Den Table–My in-laws gave us this neat table for our first Christmas in this house.  It’s a skinny table (What do you call that?  A cocktail table maybe? A console table?) in our mission style.  What makes it special, though, is that they mod-podged pictures of our house at the various stages of the building process (and a cool picture of the first snow after we moved in!) on to the top.  Such a thoughtful gift, and such special memories.

Rocking Chair–Also a gift from my in-laws, this is something of a family heirloom.  They wrote on the underside of the chair who it belonged to and when they gave it to us.  I enjoyed rocking Ladybug in this chair when she was tiny, and now it’s going to be the “teacher chair” in our schoolroom.

Schoolroom–I have to brag on myself a bit, here.  I love the way our schoolroom (also known as the guest room) has come together.  I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on it, but I really think it looks quite school-y, and is quickly becoming a favorite room in the house for everyone!

My Family–I would be remiss if I left out my family, since they are in the house most of the time.  It wouldn’t be my home without my family in it, and they are the best thing I’ve got going!

All Aboard!

Ryan shared some very exciting news with me this morning! Days of Wonder is going to be releasing Ticket to Ride: Christmas Edition (more commonly known as Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries) on a limited basis worldwide this September. If you were following my blog last week, you know that I was lamenting the fact that I did not own a copy of this game (the only Ticket to Ride board game we don’t have, in fact), and was scheming as to how I might import a copy without giving away an arm and a leg or one of children to get it here. This news has obviously made my day!

We had already decided that we’re going to have a low key Christmas this year, gift-wise, what with gas prices and the unexpected property tax bill, and the equally unexpected decision to homeschool. Ryan mentioned this a.m. that perhaps we will pick this up as our gift to each other this year. That doesn’t entirely seem fair, as, even though he beats me almost every time, I like the game way more than he does. On the other hand, who am I to turn down a gift? All I know is, it is going to be mighty hard to buy it in September (which I know we will–I’m not willing to push the envelope on just how “limited” this release is!) and then wait until Christmas to play. It will be very seasonal, though, which will make it even more fun. Maybe we should even make a rule that we only play this one in the winter-time, to preserve it’s specialness!

The funny thing is, I just told Ryan this weekend that I was thinking of e-mailing Days of Wonder and begging them to either release the game here, or smuggle me a copy. I didn’t follow through with it because *someone* told me there was no point–now I wish I had! I could have had a very happy e-mail from them announcing the game, and a little fodder for an “I told you so!”

My Favorite Things–Games

Board Games

Ticket to Ride–Any and all varieties of this game rock! This family of games is my all time favorite of anything I’ve ever played. The board games, (Europe, Switzerland, Märklin, USA 1910) the card game–I’m even assuming the Xbox version is good. Each game has unique characteristics, so while the basis of the game remains the same, there are differences from version to version that make them all fun. Whether it’s the addition of stations, passengers, or ferries and tunnels, there’s a lot going on in this series. And the new card game has a whole other type of play that is confusing, intriguing and fun. It’s weird, because I don’t win too often, but I can’t help but love it. Now if I could just import a copy of the Nordic Countries board…it’s like Ticket to Ride, Christmas edition!

Mystery of the Abbey–Like Clue, but harder, and much more liturgical. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not very good at this one, but the game itself is so enjoyable, I don’t even mind losing! You even get to ring the bell when it’s time for Mass.

Yahtzee–Poker with dice. How can you go wrong?

Trivial Pursuit–I admit that my husband is the one in the family who is really good at this game, but as a child, I looked forward to the day when I would be allowed to participate (the adults always paired up men vs. women when the family got together), so it still feels special to me to get to play.

Card Games

Uno–I grew up on this one, and it will always be my favorite card game.

Phase 10–It can take a long time to play, but it’s a fun family game, good for having a conversation over.

Rage–I haven’t played this one too many times yet, but it’s easy to understand, moves quickly, and is quite fun, and that’s high praise from me as far as card games go!

Computer Games

Adventure–Remember the old text adventure game? My dad introduced me to it when I was quite young, and his work had finally given him a computer to use at home. I inevitably ended up in a “maze of twisty little passages, all different,” or, for kicks, a “maze of twisty little passages, all alike.” Good times, good times.

Tetris–I don’t care if it’s played on an old computer, a Gameboy or a more advanced game system. It can have extra features (cubes, anyone?) or be the plain old game. No matter what format it comes in, I love it, and it will make me crazy!

SolitaireFreecell, Spider, 40 Thieves–I love ’em all.

Age of Empires–Given my love of history, this was always an intriguing game to play. I especially liked building cathedrals.

Zoo Tycoon–If you ever wondered what it would be like to manage a zoo, this game fulfills the fantasy. Be careful–if you don’t have proper upkeep on your exhibits, the animals will escape!

Roller Coaster Tycoon–I haven’t really played since college, but man, was that a fun game!

Video Games

Bejeweled–You can play this game in so many formats–on your phone, the Xbox, the computer. I can’t believe I couldn’t get any achievements on the Xbox version!

Zuma–For a while last year, my children referred to the Xbox as the “Zuma machine” because that’s all I played on it.

Mario Kart–I have loved every incarnation of this game I have played, but my favorite is still the Nintendo 64 version (but the Wii version is a close second!). I love driving around with Yoshi.

Zelda: Ocarina of Time–I think this is the best Zelda ever, and maybe the best video game I’ve ever played. The story was good, the setting was pretty, I liked the characters. Of course, Ryan had to beat a lot of the bosses for me, but I still had a good time!

Mario 64–True to form, (the first version of any game I play tends to be my favorite–see Mario Kart and Zelda above), this is my favorite of the Mario games. I was introduced to video games late in life (thank you Ryan!), so while I had some peripheral experiences with Mario at friends’ houses, I never really played until college. I still love sitting down with this game, if only to run around the castle. At this point, I could do most levels in my sleep, but it’s entertaining and cute.