Sunday, October 23, 2011

Revamping Your Family Game Night

The days are getting shorter and the air is getting cooler.  Now is the perfect time to start thinking about revamping your family game night!

Why have a family game night?
Game nights are the perfect opportunity to reconnect as a family and create fun memories.  In the whirlwind of life, sports, play dates, school, and work can make families feel like strangers.  Many families strive to have dinner together in an effort to stay connected, but why not extend that time to include a game?  When you play games, you are creating experiences.  There's nothing better than spending quality face-to-face time together and games provide the perfect atmosphere to get better acquainted with one another.

Games provide a great platform for adults to illustrate some great life skills, too.  Team work, sharing, and winning/losing with grace are just a few of those skills.  Not only are your children learning from you, but they are also practicing math and reading without even knowing it.  Games provide a great way to reinforce all those new skills they are learning at school.

Each game offers its own unique FUN.  Some games offer opportunities to giggle and share humorous stories, while others provide nail biting adventures where everyone must cooperate to succeed.  With a creative plan, you too can start a family game night tradition that can last for generations. Whatever mood your family is in, there are great choices to fill them all!  The following is a list of some of our families favorite games to help you start building your own game library. 

Games, Short and Sweet! (great for those evenings when time is, well, Short!)

  • Blink by Mattel
  • Eleminis by Smiley Pop
  • Dweebies by Gamewright
  • Super Circles by Out of the Box
  • Feed the Kitty by Gamewright
  • Zombie Dice by Steve Jackson Games
  • Bears! by Fireside Games
  • Martian Dice by Tasty Minstrel Games

Team Work Challenges (these are great for families with multiple ages since everyone is working together and information is shared - Cooperation anyone?)

  • Forbidden Island by Gamewright Games
  • Castle Panic by Fireside Games
  • Cranium by Hasbro

Games to Get the Wiggles Out: (especially effective during those weekends when the sun is not shining and it is too wet to play...)

  • Ring-o Flamingo by Gamewright Games
  • Boochie by Gamewright Games
  • Reverse Charades by Gryphon Games
  • Step to it by Gamewright Games
  • Space Race by Gamewright Games

Brain Busting Games (for those who like puzzles and strategy)
  • Got 'Em by Calliope Games
  • Pirate vs Pirate (or Ninja vs Ninja) by Out of the Box
  • Word on the Street by Out of the Box
  • Gobblet by Blue Orange Games
  • Qwirkle by Mindware
  • Tsuro by Calliope Games
  • Carcassonne by Rio Grande Games
  • Hey That's My Fish! by Fantasy Flight Games
  • Survive: Escape from Atlantis by 
  • Stronghold Games

Games On the Silly Side (when everyone just needs a laugh)

  • Befuzzled by Fun Q Games
  • Shake n Take by Out of the Box
  • Faux-Cabulary by Out of the Box
  • Who Would Win by Gamewright Games
  • Joe Name It by Gamewright  Games
  • Anomia by Anomia Press
  • Crappy Birthday by North Star Games
  • Say Anything Family by North Star Games

Just Plain Fun! (Pirates, Monsters, the Wild West and more...great themes for the whole family)

  • Abandon Ship by AEG
  • King of Tokyo by Iello
  • Jamaica by Asmodee
  • Dice Town by Asmodee

These are only a small sampling of the wide variety of games you can find today.  Pick one up, try it out, and see all the great laughs and memories you can build with your family!

Oh and one more thing...
There's no denying that great games pair well with tasty treats.  The following are some great "Game Friendly" recipes to make your family game night even more special.

Pizza is always a big hit at our house.  In an effort to try to contain the mess I make pizza rolls. Even though they take a little bit of time, they are delicious, self contained, and freeze very well.

Pizza Rolls
  • cups shredded pizza cheese blend or mozzarella

  • 8  ounces mini pepperoni

  • medium green bell pepper, finely chopped

  • medium onion, finely chopped

  • Two 14-ounce jars pizza sauce

  • 32  egg roll wrappers

  • Vegetable oil for frying  

1. Combine cheese, pepperoni, bell pepper, onion, and pizza sauce in a large bowl; mix well. 
2. Arrange the egg roll wrappers on a work surface 
3. Spoon 1/4 cup of the mixture in the center of each egg roll wrapper. Fold the bottom edge toward the center over the filling. Moisten the top edge with a small amount of water and fold over, sealing tightly.
4. Heat 1 inch of oil to 375 degrees F in an electric skillet. Fry the rolls in batches until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

Another easy to grab favorite of ours is pigs in a blanket.  They are super simple and can be made with mini dogs, sausage or regular hotdogs for variety.

Pigs in a Blanket
  • 1 package pre-cooked  breakfast sausage, hotdogs, or mini hotdogs
  • 1 package refrigerated crescent rolls
  • Honey mustard, Ketchup, or Maple Syrup for dipping
1. unwrap crescent rolls and preheat oven to package directions
2. cut each crescent dough section  in half.  (cut in quarters if making the minis)
3. place a link on the wide side of the crescent dough and roll
4. bake until golden brown (about 6 minutes)

If you are looking for a quick and healthier option, try making fruit kabobs.  The kids will have a blast helping you put them together and you can whip up a little yogurt or chocolate dip to make it extra special! 

Simple Yogurt Fruit Dip
  • 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 (8 ounce) container of your favorite flavored yogurt 
 1. In a medium bowl, blend the whipped topping and yogurt. Chill in the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.  

So decide on a night, put it on the calendar, and have fun playing!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Gamers Raise Over 1 Million Dollars for Children's Miracle Network!

Today I am so proud to be a gamer.  Around 3 AM this morning, gamers all over the world reached an amazing milestone.  In only its fourth year, the Extra-Life 24 Hour Game Marathon climbed to an amazing total of over 1 MILLION Dollars raised for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. 

Doc (of Sarcastic Gamer) had this to say about the momentous occasion:

"This is one of the most memorable moments of my life, and if you’re an Extra Lifer, it ought to be yours.  Because I sure as hell didn’t raise a million dollars.  We all did.
For the history buffs here were the Extra Life totals in the past:
2008 – $121,000 – 1165 gamers
2009 – $170,000 – 1654 gamers
2010 – $465,000 – 3299 gamers
2011 – $1,000,000 AND CLIMBING – 13,596 gamers
More than 13,000 gamers from 97 countries, and every continent except Antarctica (penguin scientists suck) came together to make this happen..."

If you are one of those gamers, Thank You!  If you are one of those donors, Thank You!  If you had to skip yesterday and are making it up this weekend, Thank You!  Children around the world thank you for giving them a chance at extra life.  A million dollars is a lot of dough, and a lot of hope for families. 


Now get some sleep.  You deserve it!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Photo Tour: The New Puzzle Stike Upgrade Pack!

Calling all Puzzle Strike Fans!

Sirlin Games is upgrading your experience.  The new upgrade pack includes 4 striking playmats and 4 retro player screens.

Both are sure to make your games run smoothly, without worry of showing your chips or confusing your gem pile with other zones.

Each Player Screen features a different game rule. I love the 8-Bit style.

The pack also includes a second set of character chips, allowing players to engage in exciting mirror matches!

The chips have also been re-balanced to improve game play.

And if you long for more customized play, the set also comes with 3 new puzzle chips and 15 blank chips to allow for new strategies and exciting combos!

Stay tuned for my full review of this exciting upgrade!

**Important**The upgrade pack does require the original Puzzle Strike game.