New Year's Resolutions - March Update

Three months down, nine to go! I'm back again with another New Year's Resolutions update. February went much better than March did, I'm hoping that it's not a sign of things to come. Some scheduling conflicts and just being generally busy hampered my progress a bit for a couple of these but one fell off the radar entirely. I don't know if that one just isn't that important to me or if it's me be lazy, well I'll get into it more in a moment. First up, bagels!

1) Bake more bread from scratch
I mentioned at the end of this section last month that maybe I would make bagels. So I made bagels. I tried a new technique of rolling really tight balls of dough before shaping them in the hopes that they would come out smoother. I'm happy to report that doing that did help quite a bit. Some of them came out a little wrinkled still but I had a few that were getting closer to what you'd find at a bagel shop.

Christine is a big fan of salt bagels so I decided to do half of the batch salt and the other poppy seed. Have I ever told you how bad at math I am? After I pulled them from the oven, I realized that I made 9 salt and 7 poppy seed...that's not half and half for those of you keeping score at home. They came out really well I think. My shaping is getting a lot better both in getting the size holes I want and in consistency. After we had some for breakfast for a couple days, I froze the rest and we ate the rest for breakfast over a couple weekends.

We were running low on sauce in the deep freeze so a couple weekends ago I decided it was time to make another batch. Just an aside, it came out the best it has yet. To go with the pasta we'd have that night, I thought some rustic loaves, sliced with bread and butter would be a nice accompaniment. I wanted to take another shot at using my french loaf pan so I cut the dough into two, two pound pieces and then shaped them before their final rise.
The key to not having the bread blow out the sides was stretching the dough out longer, so that it was almost from one end of the pan to the other. The last time I used that pan the dough didn't have enough room to expand out to the sides so it went vertical and split. It still came out fine taste wise, but not nearly as pretty as the loaves above. After the last couple of loaves not turning out as good as I had hoped, these two were almost perfect. They were a tad dense but still tasted really good. I made a few little breakfast sandwiches using this bread and the crustiness added some great texture to elevate them quite a bit. We also ate toast for part of our breakfasts each day for nearly a week.

I was hoping to do one more bread item in March but again, we were busy and with our trip to NY that we're on right now, I just ran out of time. I did make pizza and now that I think of it, I don't know why I haven't included that when posting about this resolution each month. (Note to self: take pictures of pizza) I'm still happy with the progress so far with this resolution, I get a lot of pleasure from working with dough to make various things. This is one of those things that I'm so passionate about that I see it sticking for a very long time. For this month I think I want to try to do some braiding for the first time. Maybe a Challah or garlic loaf would be nice.

2) Have no unplayed games when 2018 ends
 A quick update on the numbers:
  • I came into March with just 10 games that haven't been played
  • Right off the bat, I bought Kingdom Builder as an early birthday present for myself. I've been trying to trade for it but I got a killer deal on BGG that came with two promos and three expansions for less than the price of the base game new. That price included shipping so I couldn't pass it up. That purchase put me up to 11. But then I was able to play 3 games.
  • So this was a net -2 month bringing me down to just 8 unplayed games. Of course I do have a few Kickstarters coming later this year so I have to be diligent in knocking the rest out as quick as possible.
Some notes on what I played this month:

World's Fair 1893
I got this not this past Christmas but the one before that after returning some duplicate items we'd received to Barnes and Noble. It's a light area control game where players score points for having the most and second most number of supporters at a given exhibit. When a player places a supporter at an exhibit, they take the cards from that space and then more cards are added to some of the other exhibits. What ends up happening is more and more cards get added to the exhibits that will either grant you extra actions or ways to score points. After three scoring rounds, the player with the most points wins.
I played this with Christine and Shawn early on in the month and I really liked it. It's almost too light but because it plays so quickly it doesn't leave you wanting more. Area control has quickly become my favorite mechanic, but card drafting and set collection are still right there and this game has all three. I squeaked by with a close victory after forcing the game end on my turn. This is one of those games that'll stay on my shelves a while and might not leave unless I do a big purge where I cut some games that have the same mechanics.

Rise of Augustus
This is one of the newest games that I've added to my collection. I traded for it after seeing a few pictures on Twitter of people playing it and watching Rahdo's run through. It's one of the lightest games I own because it's essentially Bingo with a Roman theme. Okay, so it's a little more complicated than Bingo because you have to make meaningful decisions but the game is built around a Bingo like system. Players have cards with icons on them that they will try to cover up. When they do so, they get points and sometimes abilities to help you cover your cards easier or hurt other players. Turn after turn a token is pulled from the bag and players choose whether or not to cover a space matching that token's symbol, if possible. There are more tokens of certain symbols so probability plays a big roll.
The goal is to have the most points when the game ends, which happens when one player has completed 7 cards. Christine and I played this and some crafty combos led to a win for me. I'd like to play this at higher player counts because then there would be a lot more to pay attention to when deciding what cards to try and complete when and what new cards one should add once they complete another. This seems like a great game to pull out when you want to play something light or when you have some casual/non-gamers around. I taught the rules in like three minutes and the rulebook has a page explaining what all the cards' abilities do so it's easy to reference.

Solstice: Fall of Empire
I backed this game on Kickstarter because Grant Rodiek has become one of my favorite designers. Of his published games, I've played and own Solstice, Farmageddon, Hocus, and Five Ravens. He has two other designs, Druids and Cry Havoc which I haven't played but are on my wishlist. I got this to the table the other night because the successor to this game, Imperius, is on Kickstarter right now. I was going to go back it no matter what after reading about it and see the gameplay videos but I want to be able to see the evolution from one to the other.
The art is really something else, especially since Grant self published it and didn't have infinite funds to spend on it. Solstice is a drafting and secret unit deployment game where players are trying to score points by resolving card abilities. The kicker to the whole game is that when you're drafting, you're taking your opponent's cards as well and then playing them. During resolution, the cards you played aren't yours unless they match your faction. It's a really clever spin and still the core to Imperius. What I love about Grant's designs is that he designs games he wants to play and doubles down on finding a spin on popular mechanics. 

3) Meditate on a regular basis
I didn't meditate in March at all. I don't know what exactly is going on with this resolution. I still believe that it's in my best interest to work harder to make this happen. But maybe that's why this has been the hardest one for me to keep up with, because it feels like work. Mediation is like exercise, something I only want to do if it's not inconvenient or hard. With the other two, they're things I get a lot of enjoyment from, and while I do enjoy the benefits that mediation brings for me, they're not as immediate or tangible like board games and bread.
With me turning 33 in less than a week, I think about getting older a lot these days. I want to live as long as possible, so I really need to take my health seriously. I've already got back to tracking what I'm eating so I NEED to make time for meditation as well. It's not only important for my physical health but also my mental health. Finding some quiet time for me in a place I'm comfortable doing this has been the biggest obstacle. It was easy to find a quiet space at work but hard to find a physically comfortable position. At home it's hard to find a quiet space when I'm there, other than late at night and by then I'm too tired. I've read mediating before going to bed helps with sleep but I don't feel like I'm able to focus as well that late. Hopefully I can figure this one out sometime this year but overall between the three, I think i'm doing really well.


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