Tami Parker

Fantasy Author & Other Duties as Assigned

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Finish the Story: Guarding the Door

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Join in for a lighthearted, no-pressure writing prompt. Leave your perfectionist at the door and follow a dangling story thread to see where it leads you.

I always post my story doodle in the comments, and I’d absolutely love to see yours as well if you feel comfortable sharing it!

We took turns guarding the door, neither of us sleeping very much. Ricky looked nervous, and suddenly I felt bad about getting him involved. I shouldn’t have …

HelloFresh Update – Box 1

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Boxy BoxBox

This was my free box — thanks to a friend with a handy coupon.

The box itself was HEAVY and bigger than expected. When I opened it up, I saw that the cardboard was lined with something akin to silver bubble wrap.

Recipe cards and three brown paper bags were on top. Each bag was labeled with the meal it contained.

Below that I found the meat sandwiched neatly between two frozen “pillows”.

(Note: I gave my mom the box, lining, and frozen pillows when she was here this weekend. The pillows remained frozen overnight. Super cool.)

Recipe 1: Crispy Breaded Tilapia

I chose this recipe because cooking fish is still daunting to me, and I’ve not got much experience breading and frying things.

The sides were roasted asparagus and ciabatta toasts (with butter and chives).

I saved one of the two ciabatta rolls they sent me because I (correctly) assumed mom would want to make a sandwich with the other. I will say that I was surprised at how lovely the fresh chives were on a toasted ciabatta. I honestly thought it would have needed garlic or something.

The asparagus was good, but disappointingly slim. I ate ALL of it as part of my first meal and ended up pairing my leftover fish with some veggie bites I had in the freezer.

The fish itself was really good. A co-worker told me that if I would have let the breaded-but-uncooked fish sit for at least 5 minutes, the breading would have stuck to the final product a little better.

Even so, the panko was super tasty and I was pleased with the overall meal. A fun experience that I would never have bought the ingredients for and tried on my own.

Recipe 2: Cherry Drizzled Pork Chops

HUGE win. Super delicious and tasty, and fun to make to boot!

The only downside is that one of the ingredients was missing. There should have been a little packet of soup base to use in the cherry drizzle sauce, but it was nowhere to be found.

The couscous side was very easy to make (though if I make it again, I’ll saute the shallots before adding them to the mix) and turned out zingy and fresh.

The pork chops turned out PERFECT. Delightfully crisp on the outside and the cherry sauce? MAGNIFIQUE.

I added the pork chops and cherry sauce to my recipe cards.

Recipe 3: Winner Winner Chicken Orzo Dinner

The side dish was a big big win, but the chicken itself was uninspiring.

Alas, the downside this time was the chicken itself. One of the breasts was off-color and both of them had … an odor. We rinsed them, sniffed again, and decided not to chance it.

Luckily, I live across the street from a butcher shop, so we got some replacements there.

The chicken was just butterflied and fried with spices. If I do this again, I’m slicing, marinating in italian dressing, and frying THAT up. OM NOM.

However, I bought the recipe because I wanted to try the orzo and I was NOT disappointed.

What a LOVELY texture and shape the orzo has!

Plus, they had me roast zucchini and tomato … then sprinkle panko, mozzarella, and parmesan over top and broil until toasty.

I then added THAT glorious, cheesy, crispy mess back to the orzo and you guys?

*kisses fingertips*

You bet your bottom dollar that recipe got added to my box.

Another Box?

Yup! I want at least one more … plus, I emailed in about the chicken and the missing soup base and they gave me a $30 rebate.

I mean. They addressed the email to “Rick” but I still got the rebate, so I’m not complaining. 😉

The next box isn’t for another couple of weeks (I paused the next few until I found a week with three awesome-looking recipes) so expect another post sometime after Halloween.

StitchFix Update – Box 2

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Box 2 hath arrived!

I lowered the price point on this one to the minimum for all categories.

I got:

1) A navy knit top with a heavy lace hem and a string/tie in the back.

Nice, flattering, good fit, LOVED the lace … but the tie tangled in my hair and was a super duper no-go. Alas.

2) A black knit top with a twist in the back.

Boring in the front and the fun twist was totally hidden by my hair. No-go.

3) A heavy white long-sleeved shirt with a HUGE rope/string lace-up the front. 

Huge rope/string was super awkwardly huge. Like … as wide as my thumb huge. Also, the neckline it was lacing went waaaay down, so it would have needed an undershirt. No-go.

4) An ADORABLE silk kimono top in a blue and gold pattern.

Flattering and amazing … but every three steps, it gossammer’d its way off my shoulders. SO SAD. But I had to let it go. Practicality first!

5) A clingy/stretchy black long sleeved cover-up.

Originally I didn’t think I’d like it, but it was SUPER comfy and the hemline does this flattering swoopy curve thing that involves POCKETS so … yeah. I kept it.

Another Box?
Yes, but it may be my last one. It’s been fun, but also expensive and I’m just not a clotheshorse. I’m fine wearing a $15 top I got from J.C. Penney that I might see someone else wearing … or even a $5 top from a resale shop, without cringing or shame.

I did request to get two bottoms in this next box and specified that I like boot cut. We shall see how they do … I’ve been told sometimes they hit the jackpot on pants that fit, and I hate pants shopping.

So! One more box for sure, but perhaps the last one. We shall see!

Finish the Story: Sprinted Away

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Join in for a lighthearted, no-pressure writing prompt. Leave your perfectionist at the door and follow a dangling story thread to see where it leads you.

I always post my story doodle in the comments, and I’d absolutely love to see yours as well if you feel comfortable sharing it!

He sprinted away, not daring to look back, his footsteps echoing down the hallway like distant gunshots. He just had to get to the back stairway and up to his office on the second floor, where …

Genrenauts – A Very Strong Book Recommendation

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So I have been happily listening to the Writing Excuses podcast for a while now.

Periodically, they recommend various authors or books.

One of the books that they’ve been recommending for rather a very long time now (over and over again) is called Genrenauts.

Genrenauts (like “astronauts” of “genre”) is a series of novellas written by Michael Underwood. Here’s the official Amazon blurb for it:

Struggling stand-up comic Leah Tang is offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance to join the Genrenauts, a secret organization of dimensional travelers. Leah learns that our world is just one of many, and every other world is the home of a story genre — Science Fiction or Romance, Fantasy or Western — populated by archetypal characters and constantly playing out familiar stories.

The Genrenauts’ mission: find and fix broken stories. If they fail, the ripples from the story worlds will cause havoc and devastation on their home world. Leah joins the team and dives head-first into the adventure. But the stories are breaking faster and worse than ever before. Will Leah rise to the occasion, or will she end up as just another broken story?

It.

Is.

AMAZING.

It does what Ready Player One tried (and kinda failed) to do for me with its use of popular media in references. I don’t feel alienated by them … instead, I feel the same way I do when my friends talk about the things they love.

It does what Redshirts tried (and mostly succeeded) in doing by bringing tropes out of the background and using them as intentional plot devices wielded by characters.

It has a culturally diverse cast that doesn’t feel forced or awkward.

I get to see these amazing characters in all sorts of settings, which is more thrilling than I expected. I met them in a Western, and now they’re in a Space Opera and goshdangitall, it’s just FUN.

I bought the Complete Season 1 Collection and I’m only halfway through the second of six novellas and I had to stop and tell you guys about it.

Much much love.

Subscription Services – HelloFresh and StitchFix

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Yup. I’ve done it. Dipped my toes in the water and am trying two subscription services. The temperature in the nether realm has dropped dramatically.

But I figured, hey, why not TRY them, eh?

StitchFix

StitchFix* is an online clothing service. Every month (or whatever cycle works for you), you pay them $20 and they send you a box of clothes based on your preferences. You have three days to try on the clothes and decide if you want to buy any. Return any you don’t want in their prepaid shipping bag. If you choose to buy? Your $20 paid is deducted from the price of the item.

Preferences

When I say “your preferences” I super duper mean it. They have an exhaustive wizard to walk you through what you do and do not like in clothing (as well as how much you want to pay for pants vs accessories, for example).

In addition to that wizard, there’s also a textbox where you can add custom-worded detail.

In addition to that, they recommend you give them a link to a pinterest board with clothes you like.

In addition to THAT, they ask you if you have any requests specific to the next box — “I have a wedding coming up, send me some dresses to try!” or “I’m running low on tops, send mostly those. But no sweaters.”

Whatever you want, they try to get it.

And they learn as you rate the box you got, so theoretically you go from liking one or two items to liking all of them after a while.

All without “going shopping”.

I’ve got coworkers who use it, and EVERY single time they wear a stitchfix item, they get compliments.

So I took the plunge.

My First Box Contents

The item I kept from the last box is a transparent blue pattern overshirt with a navy undershirt. The sleeves have a neat button-pull-back effect and are about 3/4.

They also sent me an almost identical top in red that I was sorely tempted by because the pattern was more broken up … but blue suits me slightly better, so I chose the other.

I also got a heavy knit cover-up sweater with a wonderful scooping hem that I unfortunately didn’t need.

There was also a top with really cool large buttons up the back and a super soft gray sweater with an asymmetrical hem and a cowl neck.

All excellent choices based on my preferences, just a lot pricier than I was expecting … so I lowered my price point for the upcoming box and we’ll see what the next one looks like. =]

It’s nice to feel like I’ve got this tailored, unique box headed my way with little effort on my part, but I’m still tight-fisted enough with my money that this may or may not stick. We shall see.

HelloFresh

HelloFresh* is a weekly menu service. The lowest option is 3 meals for 2 people at $60, which ain’t cheap.

It IS however, very cheap indeed when a friend has been there long enough to get freebie coupons. *wink*

Preferences

So I signed up. The process to get started here was much easier than StitchFix … but then again, I’m less opinionated about my food than I am my clothing, so that makes sense.

I chose the non-vegetarian option, then selected from a variety of meat options.

After that, I was presented with a menu of possibilities for next week’s box. They had pre-selected three for me, but I can change those and choose my preferred three from their limited menu (including one “premium” option that would have a small upcharge) until Friday.

Meal Selection

I aaaaalmost swapped out a chicken orzo meal for the site-favorite southwestern stuffed bell peppers but decided against it at the last minute. The magic of beef/cheese/bell peppers is already known to me. chicken and creamy orzo, on the other hand, I have never tried.

Next week, I’ll be getting all of the ingredients and the recipes to make “Winner Winner Chicken Orzo Dinner”, cherry-glazed pork chops over couscous, and breaded tilapia.

ALL of the recipes looked really good, and I’m excited to try this one out. It’s spendier than if I just bought the stuff myself … but honestly, my cooking has taken a bit of a nosedive lately and I’m interested in getting shook out of my comfort zone a little.

Footnotes

* The links here are referral links. Just in case you decide to try a system, if you use the specific links I sent, I’ll get a wee boost on my account.

The HelloFresh link includes a discount on your first box.

No pressure and no big deal, just wanted to be up-front about it. =]

 

2 Common Misconceptions About Horse Taming in Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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Zelda: Breath of the Wild Horses

Okay, I can’t be the only person excited to have one of the most fun horse games since Barbie Race & Ride for the Playstation.

Sure. Maybe SOME folks play it for the incredible adventure gameplay but I’m not even going to pretend the horses weren’t the main reason I bought the game.

Misconception The First: White On Horses

“The less white the horse has, the better stats it will have.”

False, and not just because one of the highest statted horses is the Royal WHITE stallion.

(Who I named Daisy, which is irrelevant but ADORABLE)

There is a kernel of truth to this one, but the handy mnemonic bandied about on the internet is precisely incorrect.

Championship Horse Bracketing For Beginners

In truth, there are TWO “buckets” into which normal horses can fall.

For the purposes of this discussion, we shall say that the special Giant Horse and Royal White Stallion are excluded, if it pleases the court.

The First Bucket: Variations on Spots

The first and “lesser” bucket contains paints, piebalds, and appaloosas. (These are the spotty ponies, for the equine-challenged among us.) It doesn’t matter if the horse is blue, pink, black, or one of several types of brown, if the BUTT of the horse contains white, it is in this bucket.

(Oddly enough, apparently ALL dun horses are also included in this bucket. Which is surprising, but didn’t affect me personally because although I love dun horses in real life, in the game I am AAAAALL about that gorgeous black.)

Oh. My. Gosh. Becky.

So. If you’re wandering one of the many available grasslands in Breath of the Wild and you come upon a field of magnificent ponies, look first to the hindquarters. If there is any white on the rump, that horse is guaranteed of two things.

1) It will be easier to soothe and tame.

2) It will have lower stats — for example, the stamina is capped out at 3 for these spotted horses.

Exactly which stats a horse has are unknown until you attempt to register them at a stable, but you can always check the stamina by urging your newfound pony into a fast gallop. The number of spurs you see on the bottom of the page tells you how much stamina the horse has. Strength and speed remain a mystery until registration.

The Second Bucket: Variations on Solid

The second and “better” bucket contains all other horses. Black, blue, pink, brown, that odd purple-y color that looks black when it’s raining at night and then you register it only to find that it WASN’T your Dream Horse … you know. All the colors. (Except the one specific brown called “dun”.)

Ahem.

If the butt is a solid color, then it doesn’t matter how much white the horse has … there is a good chance you may have landed one of the higher-statted horses in the game. Face, feet, mane/tail … doesn’t matter if it’s dark or white.

You’re looking for FOUR spurs on your test gallop (the best you can get on a regular horse) and when you register, you’re also looking for FOUR in the strength column … there are a lot of four-spur horses with only a single strength, so be ready for potential disappointment.

As far as I know, Four/Three/Four is the highest stat combo a regular horse can have.

Stats! What is it good for?

Stamina’s meaning is nice and obvious — it controls the number of spurs you can expend goading your mount to greater speeds.

Speed is … well. Speed. How fast can your friend run.

Strength is a fun one. It dictates how much damage you do when you run down enemies and wildlife while on horseback. As someone who prefers to do as much gameplay from the back of a horse as possible, this matters to me.

Wrapping Up This Misconception

The presence or absence of white on the butt of the horse is all that matters when it comes to stats.

Not everyone cares about having the highest statted horse in the game though. If it makes your heart sing, go forth and find that glorious beast of your dreams and say boo to any elitist who says you’re doing it wrong. If you’re having fun, you’re doing it right.

Misconception The Second: Stamina For Taming

“You will need stamina-boosting food or upgraded stamina wheel in order to tame solid horses.”

False, although it’s really easy to tell why folks think this is true.

Every instant you are on the back of a bucking mustang, you are draining your stamina wheel at an alarming rate. (Hey, if it was easy, it wouldn’t be an event at a rodeo, now would it?)

So it is VERY true to say that the more stamina you have, the longer you can stay on the horse’s back.

The misconception part of the equation comes in when you realize you have complete control over how long it takes to tame the horse.

Soothe like the WIND

The SOOTHE button is the key.

If you’re lacksadaisically tapping the soothe button, you will definitely need more time on the back of the horses in order to tame them.

If, however, you turn the controller sideways to get a better grip and HAMMER DOWN ON THAT SUCKER LIKE YOU’RE GETTING HUNDRED DOLLAR BILLS EVERY TIME YOU CLICK IT … well, let’s just say horse taming just got a whooooole lot faster.

My niece was able to tame solid horses with only about a quarter of the stamina wheel spent on them using this method.

If I wasn’t so paranoid, I might even have gotten the Giant or White this way … but I’m not a gambler. I brought food backup. *wink*

Parting Pony Wisdom – Stable Slots

Remember, you only get five stable slots. If two of them go to the “special” horses, that leaves you with THREE you can keep for whenever you change your armor color and need something in a stately gray, perhaps.

Two if you share the game with your horse-crazy niece and she wants to keep her favorite. /wink

If you catch a sixth, you can simply register the new one at a stable as usual … but you’ll be asked to un-register someone else before you can do so. If you read a guide that tells you you’ll have to kill one of your other horses first, they are big lying liars who lie through their lie-holes and you shouldn’t believe them.

Horse Death

Speaking of horse death, they CAN die. I’m not sure what sort of crazy situation I’d have to put them in for it to happen, since enemies seem to ignore them when I’m not mounted and I’ve seen them take a guardian blast to the face with little more than some (well-deserved) bucking and scorching. IF your horse dies, do not despair. There is a special Great Fairy shrine that will let you resurrect your dearly departed friend. I won’t tell you where she is, but it’s comforting to know she’s there if you need her.

Mane Styling Is Literally The Best

Also, I adore the mane styling options. I’m partial to the sticky-uppy crew cut, myself. Makes everyone look like fjord cross. <3

I’m also partial to the floral mane on most horses.

And the purple mane and tail matches the royal tack you get when you register the Royal Stallion … and looks slightly better than the weak butter yellow the base mane and tail are for that horse (I’m sorry, but it’s just … not working for me on an aesthetic level)

Fluffy Feets

Also, there are two types of “feathering” on the hooves. (This is basically whether or not they have furry go-go boots, to my beloved equine-challenged friends). Most horses you’ll encounter have gorgeous fluffy feet.

Some of them … don’t. They’re smooth leg fur all the way down to the hooves.

It doesn’t seem to affect their stats at all, but if you’re looking for a particular visual combination, you might bear that in mind. My niece’s favorite pony, Sassy, is a pink piebald and she has the smooth legs, so I know they exist even though they’re awfully hard to spot in tall grass.

Unique But-Otherwise-Not-Special Black

Additionally, there’s a unique black. Instead of the normal vanilla-tinted white mane and tail, this horse has a blue-tinted white mane and tail. It also has ZERO other options for white — you’ll never find this guy with white face or feet.

Stats don’t seem to be anything special, so it’s just a neat little factoid.

All the Colors of the Wind

Here is a handy art reference to show you the color combinations possible. I, personally, haven’t verified that this is all of the color combos. I feel like I’ve seen more browns than that, and maybe even some solid blues with black mane and tail. But I’m not sure, and this is a superb starting place regardless.

Not-Horses

You can also ride deer, bears, and the weird skeleton-horses you’ll whack gobbos off of … but the stable won’t register them for you.

You can’t really blame them, they’re not set up for long-term care of non-equines or dead things.

I recommend giving the deer a go — it’s really neat to see the difference in gait they have.

In Which I Find Myself At Odds

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Befuzzlement

I’m honestly not entirely sure what to blog about.

When I wrote Egotistical Priest, I had a clear theme.

When I worked on Choose, that also had a very clear focus … and being so very entrenched in writing also gave my personal blog a focus.

Now, though? Now, I feel singularly ill equipped for posting writing advice. Not the least of which is because the internet fairly bristles with resources willing to tell you exactly how to solve your creative woes.

YOU

The thing is, those of you who follow me here? You’re not here because of a particular video game. You’re not waiting for the writing advice that will change your life. You’re not even here for cute cat pictures.

You’re here to hang out with me and each other, and I am an amalgam of all those hobbies and more.

I have several friends with personal blogs who I follow because I like hearing them talk, not necessarily because I feel what they have to say will shake me to my foundations. I love when they post about things that I personally care more about, but I also enjoy their random life posts.

I have no expectations on what they do, I am just happy they are doing it.

Hodge-Podge Permission

So I’m giving myself permission to have a random, hodge-podge sort of blog here. I am unhitching myself from my own skewed vision of Other’s Expectations.

And I’m going to do it for my writing as well as my blogging. It’s no surprise that one of the things halting my progress is worry (no, not even that. Absolute Certainty) that I will not produce writing up to my old standards.

How could I? I’m a different person than I was back then.

But the looming spectre of disappointing you refuses to budge, even though I know it’s ridiculous.

It’s ridiculous and it’s keeping me from blogging because I don’t want to bore you with totally random topics.

It’s ridiculous and it’s keeping me from writing because I worry that I’ll be letting you down.

In both cases, I’m letting not just you but also MYSELF down. Which is just silly.

*Cue the Disney Music*

So here’s my equally silly announcement to my readers — be prepared for … anything, really.

Both in blogging and in writing. <3

Finish the Story: Soldiers

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Join in for a lighthearted, no-pressure writing prompt. Leave your perfectionist at the door and follow a dangling story thread to see where it leads you.

I always post my story doodle in the comments, and I’d absolutely love to see yours as well if you feel comfortable sharing it!

The soldiers were tense, waiting for something to happen-like it was a matter of when, not if. For our part, we did our best to steer clear of them, avoiding the main square where a group of protestors …

Show Me Your Vampire

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Lazy Vampires

I think one of the things that really bugs me about popular media portrayal of vampires is how often they seem to waste their time.

They’re immortal, right? Many of the popular ones are hundreds of years old. Yet when we meet them, they seem like teenagers or normal people, with no sign of having taken that most precious gift — unlimited time — and using it to better themselves.

And then I think to myself, “Heh, so they’re doing what most people do. Procrastinating. Not starting. Not finishing. Swinging from one day to the next watching Netflix or playing video games.”

Ouch, I says to myself. But I’m not wrong.

Apples

Perry and I have a shorthand communication tool that we used, based on an ancient Cracked article he sent me many moons ago.

“Making apples”

There’s nothing wrong with eating apples. With consuming media and entertainment. Heck, those who produce content would be nothing without fans.

But if you feel called or compelled to create. If you define yourself as a creator — a writer, an artist, a musician — there IS something wrong with never actually producing apples.

If I am not writing, I am not a writer.

There’s wiggle room in there, of course. But I’m sure as hell not fooling myself when I say I’m “thinking about writing” and weeks fly by without any actual wordcount happening. I know what I’m doing. I know that fear is what is keeping me from making apples. Hell, I even know how to conquer that fear — by giving it the swift kick in the teeth of sitting down and actually writing.

And yet.

Daydream Time

So I found myself judging vampires for their laziness and I want to ask yourself some questions.

If you knew you could live forever (and let’s be generous here and say that you won’t be murdered by monster hunters or turn into a bloodthirsty beast with no self control. Let’s assume this forever looks an awful lot like your today …. but maybe you’ve got ten million dollars starting capital to work with.

And why not, let’s go ahead and give you a hearty dollop of motivation. Your mental health issues? Gone. You have the energy and the stick-tuitiveness to enable you to actually take advantage of this opportunity.

You’re rich, healthy, and young forever as long as you don’t like … fall chest-first on a silver-tipped stake or something.

What do you do?

What do your days look like? Do you have a job? Start a company? Invent something? Learn to play the accordion? Finally take those yodeling lessons you’ve always yearned for?

Go ahead and daydream your perfect you. Mine can play multiple musical instruments. She writes novels and short stories and rides a horse like she was born on it. She speaks a dozen languages fluently enough to travel the world. She cooks and bakes and has a square-foot garden the size of a football field, filled with flowers and vegetables and trees and wild birds.

That’s what my vampire would be like.

Bringing it Back To Earth

Now that you know that. Now that you have painted this obviously impossible picture, because you don’t have enough years in your life to do all those things …

… are there any small steps you could make in your life now that would get you closer to those goals? Any portions of that picture that are more precious than others? Any piece of it worth being brave enough to take those steps?

Show Me Your Vampire

I’d love to know what your vampire looks like.

What big risks would you take if your success was guaranteed?

Are there any small risks you can take today?

Tami Parker Fantasy Author & Other Duties as Assigned

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