[Calling Normandy] My Mass Effect Playlist

femshep3I am an emotional gamer. I feel deeply and I connect with characters on a pretty intense basis, especially when they’re written well. I love playing through a game franchise and continuing that experience when I’m not in front of the Xbox. When I’m really into a game series, I make a playlist to keep my emotional state in the right place – prolonging that joy I get from taking in a truly epic story.

While I was playing through the Mass Effect series, most of that emotional state involved how my Shepard’s relationship with Kaidan developed over the course of the three games, but it also deals with her fragility and how the constant war starts to affect her. This playlist represents my spacer, sole survivor, Paragon, Kaidan-shipping FemShepard. The game soundtracks are also stellar and I highly recommend listening to all of them, as well. So if you’d like to renew your feelings of post-Mass Effect torture, download this playlist and hit repeat. They’re categorized in the timeline of the game but work just as well on shuffle.

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[Spoilers] Bioware’s Massive Effect on Me

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Take all the feels, mix 3 parts feeling & 1 part feel, explode, and top with a feel. Serve cold and you have the Mass Effect. Guaranteed to feel awful the next morning, and day, and weeks …

This post contains spoilers on the overall storyline. You have been warned.

Almost two months ago, I embarked on the journey that is Bioware’s Mass Effect franchise. My husband played Mass Effect 3 when it first came out, so I had heard of it. I even remember reading the ending just out of curiosity and not feeling particularly intrigued one way or the other. (Thank goodness my memory had mind-dumped that part!)

Despite loving Star Wars, I have always preferred fantasy based games over sci-fi ones so I didn’t think I would enjoy this at all. Aliens? BoringBut then Black Milk came out with their Mass Effect clothing line and I had to justify owning a pair of N7 leggings because #reasons.

[Editor’s Note: I had no idea about any spoilers for the three games and I am completely appreciative of my social networks for keeping everything secret until I experienced it.]

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My Secret Life with Depression

I don’t know why, but I am ashamed to admit that I’m depressed. In fact, I’m dreading posting this; all I can think of is the judgment from others, possible damage to future job opportunities (hey, this employee has issues; stay clear!), and a lesser opinion of me from my friends. If I admit to not being a fully confident and happy member of society, will society continue to accept me?

My mind can be a beautiful and magical place capable of so much good,  but when it isn’t, it’s a master at manufacturing misery.

Today I received a “sanity check” after reading an unexpected blog entry from Wil Wheaton. I have followed Wil for a year or two on Twitter.  I have had the extreme pleasure of talking to him, even sharing drinks and arguing in a cats vs. dogs discussion (duh, dogs). I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the people he knows – they are all amazing – and learning about his personality, the things important to him, his gorgeous dog Marlowe, his amazing wife, and their perfect Twitter banter. (Jesus, I sound like an obsessed fangirl – I swear to God, I just love good people.)

From my little place in the world, he looks happy. He gets to do things and go places I have only dreamed of, like watching the hero in a film – a far-off reality of what could be, but won’t come to happen in my simple life. But today when I clicked the familiar link to his blog, I began reading and tears started falling down my face. It was his writing but those were my words on the page. The familiar disappointment; the tone; the despair – all of it. I couldn’t breathe because here was the written manifestation of everything I have been dealing with over the last few weeks and it was coming from someone I consider to be on an entirely unreachable level.

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Game of Thrones Season 4 Trailer!

Forget the Golden Globes, guys. The full-length trailer for the brand new season of Game of Thrones just hit YouTube – a bold move by the HBO team considering it’s right in the middle of an awards show.

Look forward to great music, Jaime Lannister looking F-I-N-E, and continued badassery from the Mother of Dragons. The season premieres April 6 so start knitting your house sigil banners and prepare for war.

My Love of Disney and “Saving Mr. Banks”

Disney Vacation, 1992
Disney Vacation, 1992

I have always loved the world of Disney. I remember fondly when my mother went above and beyond decorating my new bedroom (we had just moved across the country and I was recovering from childhood asthma and a few months living in a hotel while we searched for a house) with Minnie Mouse bedding and wall stickers. It brought me such delight to be greeted by Minnie Mouse – something I still cherish in my late 20’s. I still have my Lion King personal diary where I scrawled my super-secret thoughts of the early 90s and I spent entirely too much time trying to beat the game on my Sega Genesis.

My first visit to Disney World was at the age of 6, a seemingly common time for Midwestern families to make the pilgrimage to Orlando, Florida for the theme park vacation. I remember being blown away by both Disney World and Universal Studios (so literally that I peed my pants on the King Kong ride; I’m not entirely upset by its disappearance.) I remember walking around Toontown and seeing Minnie Mouse’s house and mailbox – I was in heaven.

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DIY – Doggie Beer Biscuits


I decided to use the spent grains from Tuesday’s brewing session for dog biscuits, especially since our two pooches really enjoyed sniffing the grains when they were in the pot. I followed directions from this recipe.


  • 4 cups spent grain (NO HOPS)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
Be patient - it's a bit of a workout.
Be patient – it’s a bit of a workout.


Mix all of the ingredients together into a large bowl. Since I had just worked out, my arms were a little unhappy about this process. It was hard work as it develops into a thick paste. It eventually looks like the picture in Stage 4 – at least for the grains I’m using.

Next, press the batter down onto a large, ungreased but rimmed baking sheet – sort of like making rice krispie treats. Take a knife and cut down the treats to size or else you will want to strangle someone trying to free the treats from the tray!

My scoring was a bit messy and caused the treats to fall apart after they were completely baked.
My scoring was a little messy and caused the treats to fall apart after they were completely baked.

Then, bake at 350° F for about 30-45 minutes or until solid. Mine took 35 minutes.

Loosen the treats from the sheet and break them apart. Return the treats to the baking sheet, spreading them evenly. I couldn’t Tetris them back onto the sheet so I used two and stuck them back into the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 250° F and put them in for 1-2 hours or until they are completely dried out. Mine took an hour.

Remove from the oven and allow them to cool before storing in an airtight container.

And that’s it! My dogs are going INSANE for these treats. It’s basically like having a giant tub of bacon in my hand so I think these have passed their approval test. And just in case you’re wondering, despite looking like brownies, they do not actually taste that great.

The Canterbury Ales: Chapter One (Brewing)

Husband and dog, master brewers
Husband and dog, master brewers

Over the last year, I have watched from the sidelines as my husband slowly ventured into home brewing. He began like most people with a Mr. Beer kit. His first beer was a pretty decent stout for St. Patrick’s Day. I helped him with about 15% of the process but it was completely his thing in my mind.

You see, I have never been a beer person. I didn’t really start drinking alcohol until I turned 21 and at the time, it was mixed liquor concoctions with billions of calories and equal amounts of sugar. I loved wine and I’ve been bridging the gap through many different ciders. I didn’t really warm up to beer until four years ago. I remember having to force myself to enjoy it because A) it’s cheaper, and B) my boyfriend liked it so I wanted to give it a go. Since then, we have visited several breweries and I’ve witnessed the beautifully artistic process that goes into making this stuff. I relished smelling the grains and sampling the recipes – even learning to properly wiggle my fingers at Sam Adams. It grew on me really fast, despite a very finicky and particular hops allergy that I still can’t figure out. (Beer drinking is like Russian Roulette for me, which I guess makes it a bit more thrilling.)

So when Markus asked for a proper brew kettle and equipment, I was interested. Fortunately for me, he bought his own brew kettle and I was called in to assist on an Autumn Red ale kit from Midwest Brewing. I helped him steep, boil, agitate, bottle; I helped through the process and I loved every minute of it. So when he asked for even better equipment for Christmas, it was a no-brainer and I bought out the list – it was a mutually beneficial gift!

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Attack of the Con Crud

It’s like some sort of super phlegm.

I really pride myself on my ability to stay healthy when I’m on my regular schedule at home. I exercise every morning; I eat healthy 5-6 days out of the week, and I get plenty of sleep every night. But at a convention, all of that changes. I’m thrown onto an airplane, which is basically a giant test tube festering with germs and viruses from all over. You sit there while the germy air circulates for an hour or two – more than enough time for it to fight its way past your immune defenses.

On top of initially flying to the convention, there’s the PEOPLE. GenCon had a record-setting attendance of 49,000 people. That’s a CRAP TON of people for me (I don’t go to SDCC) and at least 10%, if not more, come to the con already sick. Add to that the handshakes, the handling of merchandise, doors, handles – it’s just a giant germ fest. God, I’m creeping myself out here.

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DIY – Bringing Fereldan to My Backyard

If you’ve been following any of my social networks since February, then you know just how I feel about the game Dragon Age. Since starting Dragon Age: Origins, my love for the franchise and everything related has grown exponentially, resulting in a new spot at the top of my favorite all-time game list. That’s right, Carth Onasi, there’s a new guy in town and his name is Alistair!

Do a Google search and there’s an abundance of Alistair (the most popular character/romance option for ladies) love poems, drawings and lengthy discussions about favorite quotes, etc, etc. It’s really quite amazing just how well the female gaming community has embraced this shy, sarcastic and chivalrous stud in plate armor. But moving away from the Alistair love posts, I decided I wanted to incorporate some sort of Dragon Age decor into our geeky little house. I searched the bowels of the internet for days and came up with nothing as far as projects relating to DA decor.

So naturally, I created my own!

My finished Fereldan Herb Garden!
My finished Fereldan Herb Garden!

Since starting to cook more at home, and doing a LOT of it, I have needed fresh herbs on almost a daily basis. Let me tell you something: fresh herbs are expensive!! Even at the local farmer’s market, I was buying them often and usually having them go bad before I could make use of it all. It really wasn’t a financially savvy option for somebody carefully monitoring their bottom line. So with a little creativity, and about $80, I made a great-looking herb garden that ups the geek factor on my backyard and adds delicious (and cheaper) flavor to our meals!

Here’s how I made the magic happen …

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