Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

Posts tagged ‘“Real Life”’

Tuesday Art Day: Elaina

worgen_large

Soo, long time no see, huh? This was an avatar I did over the holidays. It was a gift commission for a Secret Santa exchange. I think it’s the first time I’ve done any lady worgen avatars, so it was fun. It’s for @GGElaina on Twitter and was commissioned by @_anea.

As far as Warcraft goes, I’ll admit to you that I’m in a bit of an odd place. I’m still enjoying the game and raiding with my guildies, though I don’t find I have as much to write about in the blog these days (obviously). The time was I could barely get posts out fast enough. Of course I’ve never been a mage theorycrafter of much note but I usually had something to say. Going casual as a guild has meant some mental readjustments that way. It really meant taking a step back in many regards – there were some days I didn’t do dailies. I don’t use the maximum stat food, preferring to use feasts that the guild makes. As far as I know, that hasn’t hurt our raiding progression, but even our raiding progression isn’t a top priority as such.

We made further schedule readjustments, going from one night (three hours) to two nights again but shortening the raid to a mere two hours each night. It allows for a later start and an earlier end, which is honestly a relief. It makes my days feel less punctuated by World of Warcraft and more like “this is a fun hobby.” If I’m being honest with myself, there was a good chunk of time when WoW was less a hobby than a second job.

At this time last year I wasn’t sure I’d still be playing WoW; Voss and I wanted to stop raiding as much as we had and we were fully aware that Business Time might close up shop as a result. I’m really glad that it didn’t, though, and this reduced schedule and more relaxed approach has suited us very well. There’ve been times when WoW felt like the only thing that was going right. The danger in that, though, is that if you put too much stock in a video game you react disproportionately to probably minor things. At other times I would despair if our progression wasn’t “fast enough,” feeling that it was a reflection on me and that I was letting the guild down by not leading them better. So these days I try to have a healthy balance. WoW is a game I love to play and I’ve made great friends through it. I spend time doing From Draenor With Love each week and that’s more “WoW-related” time, and otherwise I have cut way down.

I didn’t exactly make any new year’s resolutions but if I had to choose one word for this year (as Alas described) it would be purpose. I’m trying to recognize my purpose in many areas of life and not to lose sight of it, and also to have some perspective about goals that may take some time to achieve. Having no control over things makes this more a necessity than a choice! Anyway, I spent about three days over the holidays working on this:

studio

This is my studio space, which is where I do non-digital art. As you can see from the first photo, it’s been pretty difficult to get in there and do anything for the past…oh, I don’t want to say exactly how long. But you can see to the right of the photo that portfolios and drawings are piled foot-deep there. Notice how on the right-hand photo those are mostly gone? I filled five garbage bags with old drawings and other detritus. The space is ready and waiting for me and it feels good. I won’t go into too much personal detail except that the past year has been punctuated, it seems, by illness or medical concerns, doctor’s appointments, ultrasounds and bloodwork. It’s tiring and it’s really interfered with my ability to work. The only thing I managed to be consistent about was From Draenor and my raid schedule, which I’m proud of but it’s not really enough. I also can’t remember the last time I did any art just for myself that wasn’t Warcraft related. I love the Warcraft universe but I also don’t want all my creative endeavors to depend on someone else’s intellectual property. It’s something to think about, anyway.

Don’t write me off your feedreaders just yet, I promise to write here as topics strike. I’m just a bit preoccupied at the moment. I’m starting up a personal blog at another url so that I can write about personal stuff without feeling like I am bombarding an audience who really wants to talk about World of Warcraft. That blog’s not up yet, but I will share the url when it’s ready if anyone is interested. It will likely be a catch-all for my other interests: art, food and cooking/baking, games (other than Warcraft), and also health stuff. I’d be happy to see some familiar faces reading there but I won’t be offended if you don’t. I’ve lost touch with some Warcraft folks over the years especially once they leave the game and it’s sad but expected. Sometimes our friendships can survive the loss of a shared universe and sometimes they can’t. I’m always happy when they do, though!

I hope you all had a great holiday and so far a good new year. I hope I’ll have more to share with you soon.

p.s. Due to the departure of a few good Business Time friends, we’re currently looking to recruit a ranged DPS, preferably a hunter or warlock. Hunter is the highest priority because right now we have ZERO and all that mail agility gear just rots. So if you are a hunter or an exceptional ranged DPS of any kind and you’re interested in a home for “semi-retired hardcore raiders,” check us out. Our thing is we still have minimum play standards to avoid frustrations that can sometimes accompany very casual raiding, but if you’re looking to push much hardmode progression we’re a bit over that. We just like to be casually awesome, kill some internet Mogu and have a few laughs. We raid two nights a week as mentioned, two of either Monday, Wed, or Thursday from 6:30-8:30 PST. Each week we look at signups and determine the days, so some weeks it’s M/Thurs and other weeks M/Wed and on a rare week Wed/Thurs (we try to avoid that).

Meanwhile, Outside Azeroth

I know it’s always frustrating to see a blog slowly begin to flounder as its owner posts reassuring messages, “I promise I will be posting again soon!” And either they just never post again, or they eventually have to post to admit that they are closing or stopping or taking a break.

I’m not necessarily at that point, I’m more dancing along the shore of something and knowing that it is struggling to stay afloat but not knowing how to stop it. I would like to post more often and yet I seem to become paralyzed every time I see this white space for typing (or else I start writing an entry, get frustrated with how its going and leave it saved, never to see the light of day).

The thing is, this isn’t a personal blog. It’s a Warcraft/Gaming/Mage blog, and so I’m not comfortable going on and on about personal life things, but for the sake of this post I’ll give a snippet. I have a chronic illness that I don’t usually talk about (that I in fact, for years, told no one about) because I don’t want to be seen as a “sick person.” I don’t even want to see myself that way. I don’t think my biological father even knows. Anyway, I may have even been pretending for a long time that I don’t have a chronic illness. I’m not writing this now to say “oh poor me,” either. Many friends of mine struggle with worse things and they don’t talk about it much, either. For me, this is coming to the forefront now and it makes it tougher to deal with. I’ve been at the doctor, or the lab, or both, pretty much weekly (or more often) since June. I’ve got lab requisitions galore so it’s not letting up any time soon. I’m tired. I started some new medication that makes me feel nauseous/ill – but I’m confident it will ultimately feel better, just that right now it doesn’t. We’re trying to have a kid and it’s not working (related to illness) so there are more tests/doctors/medications/worry in our future.

Voss and I have both been coping with the grief of losing his father. At the same time, he started a new job which was good and exciting but it meant that we lost his group health insurance and had to acquire private insurance and no preexisting conditions (read: anything I’d ever need covered) are paid for with the new insurance. We can afford it, it’s just one of those worrisome things on top of other things. Also, this morning I found out my credit card had been compromised and a bunch of charges put on it before my bank locked it down. This happened right at the time that Blizzard announced they’d been hacked. Now I’m not saying that for sure this was how my information was obtained, but you might want to keep an eye on your credit cards just the same. The timing was awfully close, and I’ve used a credit card online for a decade without incident – but perhaps it was just a coincidence. Perhaps not. Anyway, better safe than sorry, right?

I’ve been trying not to let any of this stuff affect my professional life or my other endeavors like the blog and From Draenor but they do affect it because my state of mind hasn’t been good. I can’t seem to concentrate on things for very long. Every small thing feels like a struggle. I haven’t missed a From Draenor, but unfortunately the blog was one of the first things to suffer. I’m also working very slowly on my list of commissions. Unfortunately I swamped myself with (much appreciated) new business right after losing my wedding ring, not knowing that we’d be making an emergency trip for a funeral, or that medical stuff would leave me so tired. If you’re on the list or in any other stage of waiting, I appreciate your patience so much. I’m going to try to knock out some of the avatar list, but most of the “new” commissions I got were larger ones and so they aren’t completed as quickly.

Someone on Twitter remarked the other day that they thought I had stopped playing WoW (presumably because I haven’t been blogging, or because before a drop in blogging I talked about how we were “going casual.”) I am still playing WoW along with my guildies and also picked up a bunch of games on Steam I’ve really been enjoying. Most recently, I spent the weekend playing Civ 5 as the Egyptian empire. I’m also playing through Bastion and I’ve played Borderlands once with a friend. I have Mass Effect I and II ready and waiting for me when I get to them. The summer heat has been fairly prohibitive for much computer time (we don’t have air conditioning, something that we’ll be remedying in time for next summer, I can assure you). I’ve spent some nights curled up on the couch in the basement watching Firefly on Netflix. No, I’d never seen Firefly before! Yes, I like it. I know I’m a bit behind the times.

Anyway, I guess what I’m getting at is that the blog is still here and I still think about blogging. I have a few possible post topics lined up and I’d like to make writing them more of a priority. Blogging is a hobby I really enjoy and I love interacting with people here. I’ve just been a bit distracted, and far from a bid for sympathy, I just thought I had to get a bit more personal for at least one post to explain myself. I expect I’ll have more to say about Warcraft and mages as Mists creeps closer to release – just over two months away, now! I’m excited for it in a way I wasn’t really excited for Cataclysm. I think Mists is going to be just my speed. I am also still staunchly a mage, so no worries there. Voss interjects randomly to quiz me on a regular basis.

“So, I was reading about this thing on the Globe and Mail the other–“

“Who’s your main?!”

“Millya.”

“Okay.”

I didn’t end up playing much beta because I really like to experience things for the first time when they are “live,” and I realize that now. I’m definitely going to make a pandaren character (class to be determined) and a draenei MONK. I just need to think of a name for her. If you’re looking for mage specific stuff, Christian Belt of Arcane Brilliance has been doing a series covering the basics. The inestimable Lhivera has been handling more of the theorycrafting mage stuff over at Lhivera’s Library. If you have any other great mage links, feel free to leave them in the comments. I may or may not do a gear guide similar to what I did at the start of Cataclysm. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also pretty prosaic and straightforward and that might be a good focus for me as we get closer to the new expansion!

Hoarders

For the past few weekends, I haven’t played very much WoW outside of old time raids and current raids with my guildies. Raiding has still continued as usual but once the weekends arrive Voss and I generally found that we have other things to do. I have an ongoing project that I decided should take precedent over my in-game bank organizing – house organizing! Specifically, several months ago I read a book about minimalism that talked about how to let go of things you don’t need. Possessions themselves come with a responsibility, apart from simply owning them – they need to be stored, kept clean and in working order, in some cases insured, and guarded against theft. The more you own, the more you stand to lose in a disaster. More importantly, the things you own can add up to a mental “weight” you aren’t even aware of.

In our case, that included old furniture cluttering our basement, books I’ll probably never read again, more clothes than I could wear in a month of not washing any (seriously), and a lot of other stuff that is not adding any value to my life. I set out on a mission to pare down and let go of things that I no longer needed or wanted, or found useful. It’s been enlightening and freeing. It’s far from over, naturally, but I pick a small area at a time and focus on it. It helps me to keep from getting overwhelmed to say, “I’m going to weed the books from THIS shelf,” instead of, “I need to get all the junk out of this entire room.” One weekend we pared down our clothes and ended up with eight garbage bags of stuff to donate!

I get rid of MY clothes. Millya's clothes, on the other hand...don't even think about it.

I’ve gotten rid of, to date:

  • my old set of bedroom furniture (bed frame, desk with shelf, dresser, night table)
  • one mattress/box spring
  • a wooden kitchen table
  • a metal kitchen table (it was an art project, don’t ask)
  • one artificial Christmas tree
  • a huge bag of stationery, honestly, I had a problem
  • uncounted amounts of cookware, bakeware, etc (including one entire set of pots and pans)
  • aforementioned eight bags of clothes (out of season, unfitting, unfashionable, whatever)
  • a few bags of extra towels sent to the dog shelter

I’m sure there are more things I’m forgetting, but to me it’s a great list so far! We have much more space. It’s ironic that as this has been going on, I’ve simultaneously been stuffing my WoW character’s banks to the absolute gills – if bank bags had gills, that is. A few months back a firefighter guildie challenged me to write a post about “hoarders,” inspired by the fact that he’s seen many houses in real life that are a fire waiting to happen, and relating to the television show of the same name. I had never seen this show before (we don’t have cable) and I watched a few episodes after he mentioned it. It was absolutely horrifying to me. I don’t ever want to be one of these people, so buried in stuff that it’s consuming them (or damaging their health). I imagine the average person reading this isn’t like that, but still. It’s eye-opening and sordid. Incidentally, for gross-out factor, that same guildie told me he can’t watch the show (while his wife likes it) because the one thing the episodes can’t capture is the smell of a place like that. I guess dealing with that in your professional life doesn’t exactly leave you wanting to think about it in your leisure time, too.

As far as in-game goes, I’ve been trying to get rid of stuff just as much in-game as I have outside of it (except the clothes, never the virtual clothes). I don’t hang onto old enchanting mats anymore – I sell them, reasoning that if I eventually need them, I can just buy them anyhow! I’m curious whether the theory that clutter creates mental distress could be applied to virtual inventories, too. In-game items don’t require insurance or cleaning, but they do create a virtual “mess” and need maintenance. How many of you have guilds for your bank alts? (I know I do!) It’s also nearly impossible to manage the “stuff” accrued across various alts without a system – in the form of add-ons or additional storage space. Larger bags, more alts, more bank slots! I can’t seem to get enough virtual room and it definitely takes up my time to manage it.

Anyway, for me this has been a parallel endeavor. I’m really trying to get rid of junk I don’t need in WoW at the same time that I am slowly but surely de-junkifying my living space. Hint: If you want less junk, you have to put a moratorium on the purchase of new things! Seriously. The rule is, nothing comes in without something going out. So if I buy a new pair of shoes, I have to get rid of a similar pair at the same time. Meantime, I get rid of at least one thing a day (usually to a new home, if I can. Freecycle has been fantastic for this!) At the end of the year, no matter what else happens, at the very least I’ll have 365 fewer things than I did last year!

My WoW efforts are less stringent, but more lucrative. Each thing that I send packing from my bank usually earns me a bit of cash (and if I can’t sell it, at the very least it’s vendor trash). You’d be surprised what people want, both in WoW and out of it. I won $5 betting Voss that someone would want an artificial Christmas tree in September. He insisted that nobody would. It took twelve minutes for someone to contact me through Freecycle.

Long story short: My non-wow time lately has been spent decluttering and it’s starting to pay off. I’m also thinking I need a better inventory addon to manage my space; I’ve been hearing good things about AdiBank so I’m thinking of trying that! How are you handling the gear and outfits you’ve been gathering for Transmogrifying purposes (or, like me, have you always been a packrat?)

p.s. I did a few outfits for Liala at Disciplinary Action along with some lovely company, so you can check that out here if you missed it. See, hoarding pays off; some day you may get to be in a fashion show if your wardrobe is interesting enough!

p.p.s. I don’t actually endorse hoarding. Unless it’s virtual, in which case I’m mostly all for it.

Time Warp

I recognize this strange feeling of vertigo because it’s happened once before. Somehow, patch 4.0 managed to coincide with our last vacation. This time, 4.2 did the same! We don’t take many vacations, so I don’t know why this keeps happening, but there you have it. It’s always strange to come back after changes like these because you’re discovering them after the fact and any exclamations you might have are quite moot. Everyone else is “Been there, done that.” If you’re me, you end up asking confused questions such as, “Where in the heck did my guild tab go, why does some random person think my hard-earned keys are only worth two gold, and who put the giant portraits on the dungeon maps?”

It’s been a hectic few days.

Our vacation, I’m happy to report, was excellent in all ways. We had a chance to walk around Vancouver, eat great food (key to any vacation in my books), as well as mingle with Canada Day crowds on Granville Island, meet a long-time guildie and his fiancee, and even see fireworks. Of course, the highlight of the trip for me was definitely the reason we went in the first place: seeing Rush live for the first time on their Time Machine tour. I had heard they put on a good show, but I was Not Prepared. Here’s one of the videos I took. I’m uploading more (some folks on Twitter asked me to) but for right now this one will do! We had really good seats.

Meeting Awesome WoW Folks

We’ve known our priestly (formerly hunterly) friend Zierlyn for, oh – around two years now! We played with him on our original server. We raided Naxx and later Ulduar (and Naxx again, it’s a long story) together. He was one of the folks I sorely missed when we left, and was quick to snap up when we saw the opportunity for him to come to Business Time. Unfortunately his schedule doesn’t allow raiding but I still love being in a guild with him and it was so awesome to meet him and his fiancee. We went to the library, and to Granville Island, and later to an all-you-can-eat sushi/Korean BBQ place (and much later, to Denny’s, one of the few places that will let you nurse a single drink for hours and not really care about the space you’re taking up). I wish we lived closer so we could hang out more often. Still, I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth and I was very happy to have the opportunity. I’ve never actually met specifically someone I met through WoW before, so this was completely new. At one point we were driving along in the car (I was in the back) and I was just listening to Z talk and it was so weird because I know his voice! But it wasn’t coming through a microphone. But now I know him in person too! This is as articulate as I’m able to be on the subject. I can’t describe how cool it is to meet someone you “know” and get to know them all over again, but I’m sure those of you who’ve had the experience know just what I mean.

After our trip was over, we made a point of staying a night in Rade’s city so that we could meet him, too. Rades is one of my closest online cohorts and I was equal parts nervous and excited to meet him. What if we didn’t get along in person! What if it was weird? I needn’t have worried, because it was totally natural. He even had a really nerdy sign made for us so we wouldn’t miss him. “Welcome Vid and Voss!” Again, I only wish he lived closer so we could all hang out more often.

I have also had questions about the status of Rades’ tusks and green skin. Well, folks, I have an inside scoop for you. Rades is not, as is popularly believed, an orc. No, I have uncovered his true identity. He’s a robot.

Proof.

Specifically, it seems he’s an Autobot. I found several indicators. I’m surprised, I always thought he’d be a Decepticon. I did make a point of drawing everyone I met, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing the images of folks without their consent so hopefully other pictures of random things will be able to suffice. We did also do this:

Unfortunately, our raid on ICC didn't go exactly as planned...

This, for clarification, is a special edition of the WoW TCG that Voss and I picked up in a comic store on our trip. ICC Raid edition! It has pre-made decks intended for use by four players. One person plays the Big Bad himself, the Lich King – and the other folks play Jaina, Tirion, and Sylvanas respectively. We only had the three of us so Rades and I shared responsibility for Tirion. All did not go according to plan. The LK deck, as it happens, needs to be ridiculously powerful in order to counteract the efforts of three other players. Which is great! Except none of us had ever played before and Rades and I made some key tactical errors, resulting in Fordring’s death. We managed to get LK only down to about 20 HP (from 60) before we were overwhelmed. I think if we played again we’d stand a much better chance because now we know how stuff works. I’ve only recently been dabbling in the WoW TCG anyway; I’d like to play it some more. It was pretty fun! I think that building a deck around your own hero would be rewarding.

If only we could get geography to comply, then I think we could clear ICC properly! We DID manage to kill Sindragosa, though, and that was a victory we both relished. Hey, I’ll take what we can get! Sadly, our time with Rades was all too short, culminating in many hours spent at Denny’s (yes, Denny’s again) talking about anything and everything and eating a very late-night breakfast. I think the biggest revelation of the evening was just how truly evil the man I married really is. Folks, I am married to the Lich King. The man enjoyed killing our heroes so much. He has no soul.

Playing Catch-Up

I neglected the blog woefully while we were gone, but I think you all were so busy seeing Firelands that you probably didn’t notice! We got back on Sunday and were able to squeeze in dailies before the day rolled over, so I’ve been trying to get up to speed on those. I really enjoyed the lead-in quests (no spoilers!) Then yesterday, in typical “all-or-nothing” fashion, I ran seven heroics so I could cap my valor points for the week. Success! I also happened to score the bracers from Zul’Aman, finally. It took about 16-18 runs all-told, so I suppose that’s not too bad. And I was able to cap my points, which was the important thing. Tonight is our first raid of the new content, and I am excited! I’m sure I’ll have more to say about Firelands (again, long after everyone else has already said it) once I’ve seen it.

I did pay for and enjoy mobile guild chat and the mobile AH while we were on our trip. I managed to make a bit of money with gems I’d pre-cut before I left, but again I missed out on the ridiculous AH rush of a new patch. Regardless, it was nice to be able to pop in and chat for a bit during downtimes of the vacation and it made me feel less disconnected now that we’re finally home.

Let’s not talk about all the blog posts I missed while I was away, though. I may just have to call those a loss and mark everything as read. I’ve missed commenting on my favourites, but trust me, it’s not you, it’s me!

A Very Bossy Pally Tuesday Art Day

Sometimes, real life and the virtual worlds we inhabit intersect in a delightful way. If you follow Ophelie (the Bossy Pally) over at her blog, The Bossy Pally and the Giant Spoon – then you already know some parts of this story.

I’m woefully remiss in taking my time to write about this, but I wanted to do it just right. When I heard that Ophelie intended to swing through Calgary on her cross-Canada trip, I knew I wanted to meet her! I’ve met folks who had been “only” internet friends before but never another blogger. I met Ophelie downtown and we walked over to Kensington – first for some pho, and second for a mini-cupcake from Crave. They have really big ones, too, but they’re a bit too much for me so I like to get the little ones.

I’m struggling to keep this from being too prosaic – we went here, we did this – but it’s tough. I can tell you about how we went over to the Glenbow Museum and stayed there so long that a lady came to tell us they were closing. And that’s true. I can tell you how we met up with Vosskah later that evening and went for sushi and then a sort of whirlwind driving tour of Calgary. All of those things are true! But they don’t actually describe how fun it is to meet someone you already kind of “know” and connect while sightseeing, commiserating about guild challenges, and chatting about common acquaintances and WoW stuff. It was a total nerdfest and a mini-taste of what it must be like to meet up with people at Blizzcon.

I loved meeting Ophelie, I wish she lived closer and I hope we can meet up again, hopefully along with Fannon and other semi-local WoW-folks. I’m actually in Vancouver writing this right now and we’re going to be meeting two guildies and Rades this week! Both of the guildies are retired raiders but folks I’ve known for over a year in each case and I’m very excited. I’m sure I’ll have more things to say about that after it happens. I have another post lined up for later this week but nobody is going to be reading anyhow, you’ll all be too busy exploring Firelands! (I’m not bitter that yet another content patch lined up with my very seldom vacations, not at all! It’s as if Blizz knows.)

Meantime, I like to doodle when I’m going around – on the train, or whatever. Here are some sketches I did of Ophelie when we went for coffee after sushi with Vince. To echo her words, “I just like food.” We have this in common, and we made sure to have a constant stream of it all day!

Ms. Bossy, Herself

She didn’t actually know I was drawing her talking to Voss, although maybe she suspected, I don’t know.

She is a very mobile person to draw. This is a good thing!

Anyway, so that’s my story. Meet bloggers if you can, they are awesome folks! At least meet Ophelie if you can; you can buy her coffee and ask her about the giant spoon. Have a great patch week and fun ripping up the Firelands. Save some for me!

Housekeeping for Cataclysm

I’m not the neatest person in the world. It’s true, I’ll admit it. You’ll just have to take my word for it. I consider myself mostly in the category of “messy.” When I clean things, they will be spotless (this is a legacy of my mother’s neat freak tendencies) but sometimes it’s…finding the things underneath other things in order to clean them that is my issue.

There’ve been plenty of great posts about getting your finances, guild bank, and gear list in order for the launch of Cataclysm. What about your real-life environment and your food list? Most WoW players like to have some time to focus on the game to the exclusion of all else, at least initially. No, you don’t need a catheter at your desk – but if you take care of your environment beforehand, you can focus on the game in comfort and (relative) cleanliness! Here’s my plan.

I do wield a broom like this.

 

The White Glove Test

  • Set a time-frame. Last week I made sure the main floor of the house was spotless. This week I’m setting my sights on the upstairs – office and bedrooms, which are really the hardest parts. I am going to declutter these over the weekend before Monday and get them pretty clean.
  • Clean a little beyond your usual standards. If you’re pretty sure you’ll be occupied with Cataclysm for awhile, clean a bit more than you usually do. It doesn’t have to be spotless (unless your Mom is my Mom and let’s be honest, what are the odds of that?) but the cleaner it is, the less you’ll have to worry about for the next week or so.
  • Keep your goals reasonable. If your apartment or house looks like ground zero right now – it’s probably not going to be spotless in a week. Don’t sweat it. But put some time into it if you want – you’d be surprised what a difference even an hour of decluttering and cleaning can do!
  • Think how awesome this will be when you’re leveling and you’ve got everything to hand – No, “Aggh where is my authenticator?” or scribbling on the backs of receipts and things to jot down a note (not that I’ve done that…)

Sustenance

If, like me, you’d like to not weigh twenty pounds more by January, it behooves you to think about this. That’s why this list is going to focus on ideas for healthy meals and snacks to prepare. It’s both Cataclysm AND the holiday season. If you plan or at least think about this in advance, you’ll be thankful you did later.

You aren’t going to want to cook. No, really, you aren’t. You may still want to stop and cook, or you may not, or you may order pizza. Make it so that you don’t have to – pre-cook and freeze some meals! I’ve used this trick to help with exam times when I was still in school, or other busy life periods (not pregnancy, but I did help fill a friend’s freezer for when she was pregnant). Things that freeze well include:

  • Hearty meals like chili, spaghetti sauce, and stew (only if the stew doesn’t contain potatoes, as their texture is drastically altered by freezing)
  • Homemade soups
  • Pasta dishes, most rice dishes, most meat dishes
  • Things that don’t freeze well include: potatoes, eggs, anything that includes milk – they will tend to separate – Not very tasty.
  • If you’re not big into cooking, you could still secure some frozen meals from the grocery store. It’s more expensive to do it that way but definitely a viable option. I’ve had some “pasta dishes in a bag” that were reasonably low-fat and basically just get tossed into a frying pan and heated. They tasted fine! Also frozen fish and instant rice packages with frozen vegetables makes an easy and fast meal – it’s actually my meal of choice for raid nights when I don’t have much time. I tell Voss, “Well, there’s always Emergency Fish.”

In-between actual meals, you are still going to want to snack on things. I plan on having many easy things on hand – and when I say “easy things” I’m not talking bags of chips. Here are some of my snack ideas (I use these for raiding, too, but you bet they’ll apply to Cataclysm). I’ll be stocking my fridge and pantry with these!

  • Cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, snap peas, mushrooms, cucumber, sliced sweet peppers, broccoli florets
  • Low-sugar cereals
  • Small containers of yogurt
  • Cheese sticks or individually wrapped low-fat cheeses, with or without crackers
  • Small cans of flavoured tuna (preferably not packed in oil), these are awesome on crackers!
  • Low-fat pepperoni sticks, lunch meat
  • Apples, many apples – I usually eat one with a bit of peanut butter on it, they are also good sliced with cheese and eaten on toast
  • Nuts, nut mixes – I like roasted soy nuts and also these nuts I’ve been eating recently- Almonds with a bit of cayenne? Note, nuts are higher in fat, but it’s unsaturated (“good” fat) so long as you don’t overdo it
  • If you must have sweets, consider baking your own cookies or other treat. Homemade is usually much better for you than store bought.
  • Pitas/tortillas
  • Low-fat herbed cream cheese spread, hummus
  • The two items above are great with vegetables – you can toss some veg into a pita with hummus and you have a snack, or spread cream cheese on a tortilla, cover with lettuce and add low-fat meat and you have a wrap!
  • Low-sodium canned soups and other easy-to-prepare meals
  • Bread for sandwiches – you can even freeze a loaf or too if you’d like.
  • Canned beans – tomato based, I don’t like the really sweet kinds. I eat them on toast.
  • Baked tortillas and salsa make for another easy snack.

Of course this depends on your tastes and things you like to eat generally – you’ll notice I didn’t put “three bags of chips” on my list, or any pop/soda. I might have a few fruit juices, but generally I drink water and milk and that’s it. Even if you like to have these other drinks consider that you’re probably playing more than you usually do – things that are just “sometimes” might become more like “all the time” right after Cataclysm hits. Not loading your body with sugar and caffeine will help you play longer because you won’t crash after they wear off! You probably won’t feel like you’ve gone on a bender, either.

Emergency fish are for before. Not after.

All Good Things

Although I fully intend to play the heck out of Cataclysm when it hits (see: food and house preparation plans) I also know that it’s important to have a break from it. Rest your eyes, take your dog for a walk and peel yourself away from the screen for a minute. It’ll be there when you get back, I promise. In a few years it will be old news and we’ll be hoping for the next expansion, so why not savour it a bit? Moreover, if it starts to feel like a job and you aren’t having fun – turn it off. I know some folks have big plans to get server firsts, fair enough – planning these things will help and not hinder you! But once you’ve achieved a milestone, make sure to get some sleep. You’ll have fun and be rested for any holiday celebrations you’ve got planned later in the month.

Do you have any ideas for snacks or things I didn’t mention? How are you preparing yourself for Cataclysm?

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