If you and your friends are anything like mine, you’ve done all of the Escape Rooms currently in your city, and can’t wait for a new one to open. Well, luckily, we don’t have to wait anymore: you can now host an Escape Room in your own home! There’s no advanced prep needed and you can even participate.
I have to admit, I was skeptical. Would the Escape Room in the box give the same experience as the actual rooms? Would it be challenging enough for me and my friends? Would it be fun? So when I was given the chance to try out the new game, I jumped at the chance. And spoilers: It was even better than we were all expecting. It was fun and challenging, and I truly think Escape Room noobs and veterans alike will have a good time.
For those who haven’t done an Escape Room before, the basic gist is this: You must solve various puzzles as a group to get information that will let you through a (figuratively) locked door. There is a time limit, and it’s a fast-paced, kinda-stressful-but-actually-fun group activity. It’s exhilarating and gets your mind working. I’d highly recommend them.
This game comes with four different escape “rooms”, and each one is a separate 60 minute adventure. The skill levels vary, and if you go in this order, you can work your way up:
- Prison Break (2/5)
- Virus (2/5)
- Nuclear Countdown (3/5)
- Temple of the Aztec (4/5)
I decided to have us start with Virus, since my friends have done escape rooms before. And plus, it was the easiest to plan a party around. (Come on, it’s me.)
I made some laboratory-inspired dishes, like cakes in beakers (don’t use cotton candy thinking it’ll look like smoke. It’ll end up hardening and just looking weird. Lessons learned.) and an awesome “virus punch”.
Put some green sherbet in the container of your choice, and slowly fill with lemon-lime soda. It’ll get all foamy and awesome looking! Easy and delicious.
Anyway, back to the game. We beat the “Virus” Escape Room in about 40 minutes, and we were all so jazzed by it, we wanted to do another right away. So we did Nuclear Countdown. (Luckily, if you end up going through a couple in a night, expansion packs will be coming out starting in 2017. And if you want to share the joy of the room with someone else, you can download anything you may have written on/folded/destroyed during the game from the Escape Room website.)
I unfortunately can’t tell you too much about the adventures themselves without spoiling them, but I can give you some peeks at what comes in the box and some tips for when you play:
The box comes with separate envelopes for each adventure, and a “Chrono Decoder” with a set of plastic keys. The Chrono Decoder acts as your timer, counting down the 60 minutes and letting you know when you can take a “hint” card. (Even if you think you don’t need it, it’s helpful to look at the hint. No one will judge you.) It’s also how you prove that you’ve solved the puzzle! You place plastic keys into the Chrono Decoder in a specific way based on the puzzles you’ve solved, and it will let you know if you can move onto the next level or if you were wrong.
The decoder also has actual decoders on the side if itself, which will come in handy throughout the adventure.
I would suggest having a couple of things on hand before you begin:
- A table or clear space to spread everything out and work.
- Blank paper and a pencil. You’ll need scratch paper and a way to take notes.
- A working phone. You may need to use it in various ways. Plus, you can use the Escape Room app on it, which has themed music for each adventure and a place to take and upload a picture once you’ve solved the adventure!
Basically, the Escape Room game is amazing, and should be on your holiday list. I’ll be bringing my copy to my family’s place and we’ll be trying the other two adventures down there! Pick up your copy from the Spin Master store. Have you done an Escape Room before? And which adventure in the Escape Room box are you most excited to try?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
Get out your favorite cookie cutters and recipes, and stock up on fun sprinkles and natural sugars: Cookie Decorating Season is here!
Are you outside of the US? Visit the Geeky Hostess Etsy shop for international shipping! (The same code works there.)
My lovely friend Kiri Callaghan recently re-released Alys, the first book in the Steampunk Fantasy series the Terra Mirum Chronicles, under a new publisher, Doce Blant. And I wanted to celebrate the best way I know how: by making food.
First of all, a description of Alys from the publisher:
Following her best friend’s suicide, Alyson Carroll descends into the realm of Dreams and Nightmares. In her quest to find home, she discovers that Charlie might not truly be gone after all, but when she meets Oswin, the prince of Terra Mirum, she must face her own fears and raise an army against The Nightmare Queen, or surrender as the world of dreams is consumed by terror and darkness forever
It’s a take on Alice in Wonderland with a hint of Midsummer Night’s Dream. Sounds fantastic, right?
I chatted with Kiri about the perfect meal to eat while reading Alys, and we decided on making a hearty diner meal: something that Susie’s Diner, the place Alys works, would serve up with a big pot of coffee. So I created “the usual” that Sheriff Moss orders on a daily basis (unless he works a double the night before). He has a big appetite, so it’s a LOT of food. (I’d recommend sharing it with a friend.) But on a gray, rainy, Washington day, this breakfast and a copy of Alys is all you need.
The breakfast is not fancy or fussy. You make enough food to fill a plate (or two, or three…) and you serve it with coffee. I tried to include all of the diner staples. While this is Sheriff Morris’s usual, it may not be yours. Feel free to change the recipe up.
His order is the Two Egg Meal (2 eggs, 2 pancakes, hashbrowns, bacon, and toast) and an additional side of sausage. I started cooking the hashbrowns (from a frozen package) while cooking the sausage in a different pan and cooking the pancakes (made easily from a mix) on an electric griddle. Once those are complete, plate what you’ve got, pop the toast in a toaster or on the griddle, and cook the bacon and eggs in separate pans. (I chose to fry the eggs in the pan I made sausage in to add a bit of flavor.) Top the toast and pancakes with butter, and serve with jam, syrup, and tons of black coffee. Sit down and enjoy a good book.
You can get a copy of Alys now here. Let me know what you think of it, and tell me in the comments: what’s your “usual” at your local diner?
I’m such a sucker for geeky wine collaborations, so naturally I love this. Dark Horse Comics has teamed up with Portland, OR’s Stoller Family Estate Winery to create the 2011 Hellboy Reserve Pinot Noir.
If you’ve never tried wine from Oregon, you’re missing out. I can guarantee this wine will be fantastic, and the label will make you want to save the bottle after it’s empty. The Hellboy Reserve is the perfect bottle to bring over to a dinner party, or to cozy up with while reading your new pulls.
According to the press release, “The wine label for the 2011 Hellboy Reserve Pinot Noir features an illustration by legendary HELLBOY creator Mike Mignola and Eisner Award-winning colorist Dave Stewart which originally appeared as the cover for the classic comic book HELLBOY: THE SLEEPING AND THE DEAD #2.”
The wine is currently available for pre-order and will be released on October 31st. This is the first in the Hellboy series. I can’t wait to see what they do next!
Purchase your bottle at stollerfamilyestate.com.
The goldfish may have officially won the “Ridiculous Sexy Halloween Costume” contest for the year, but so many of you commented about how much you loved the Alexander Hamilton costume, that I just needed to do a shoot with that as well. (Special thanks to Yandy for sending me the costume! It’s not too late: you too can be a sexy Alexander Hamilton this Halloween!)
The lovely and talented Liz Leo shot these pics of me at King’s Hardware, where we stumbled upon the perfect American Flag table in their back patio. It was meant to be. And for those asking, this costume is very comfortable and well made. It’s the highest quality pre-made costume I’ve seen! So turn on the Hamilton soundtrack and guess which song lyrics served as inspiration for each pic:
Sheesh. Over 41 of you voted for me to become a “Sexy Goldfish” this year, and because I love you, I did it. This costume is a beast. Every single part of it sparkles, even the eyes. It’s a leotard-meets-hoody so it’ll show off a lot of leg, and keep you warm with the foam insulated hood. And it’s not meant for anyone over 5’5″. Seriously. I needed help getting it on and off because the torso was about half the length of mine. If you’re petite, though, this costume will probably look freakin’ adorable. Want to give it a try? You can find the goldfish costume and more Halloween costumes at Yandy.com!
A huge thanks to Liz Leo, who takes these photos of me every year. She’s got a great eye, and can always make me look pretty and serious, even in the silliest costumes! Without further ado, your winner of “Weirdest Sexy Halloween Costumes 2016”:
Psst. I’ve got a secret for you. Another costume got a lot of positive attention, even though it wasn’t the winner, and I did a shoot for that one as well. You’ll see those pics tomorrow morning. Wanna know what it is? You’ll have to wait for it…
You asked for it. Seriously. I’ve been getting messages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, asking when this was coming, and suggestions for costumes for this year. And all of those costumes were from Yandy.com. So I reached out to Yandy, and asked if they’d be down for sponsoring this year’s post. They said yes! So get ready for even weirder, even SEXIER costumes than ever before.
For those of you who are new, here’s the deal: I’m showcasing some of the craziest “sexy” costumes I’ve seen this year. YOU get to vote for the one you want me to do a photo shoot in. And then I have to do it. Because I love you. (You can see the previous years’ collections and shoots here.)
Now, full disclosure. There are some legitimately awesome sexy Halloween costumes on Yandy. (And many other sexy costumes that I may not be able to leave the house in. But hey, you do Halloween however you want.) But picking those for this aren’t as fun. So take a look for yourself, but then come back here and pick something ridiculous for me to wear. You have until the end of Sunday, October 9th. (I’ll pick a winner on Monday.) Without further ado…
You’ll trend on twitter faster than Kim K.
The most terrifying costume of the year. Only complete if I can get some friends to dress up as tacos to represent the taco stands that will be on every corner if he loses.
How do you make Hillary Clinton sexy? You take the “pant” out of “pantsuit.”
Contest over. This is legitimately the sexiest. It wins. History has its eyes on me wearing this costume.
You’ll be labeled “Fast Food” in these costumes.
You want a pizza me?
You want fries with that shake? (Add a beret to make these French.)
It puts the “spice” in Pumpkin Spice.
Sexy Saturday Mornings
All your nostalgic favorites, not at all how you remembered them.
Let’s be honest. This is on the list because Yandy calls it the “Sexy Trash Monster Costume.” And who DOESN’T want to be a sexy trash monster?
Go business casual with this work-appropriate ensemble. Patrick Star more your speed? They’ve got that too.
Oops! All Sexy. This captain wants to know what you’d like for breakfast.
Brings another meaning to the term “Petting Zoo.”
This wins for most absolutely random.
I just…I can’t.
When someone says they’re dressing up like a sexy bunny, “Bugs” isn’t usually the one I have in mind.
Recreate your favorite fanfic in these costumes.
A sneek peek at Elon Musk’s space suits for Mars travel.
Yeah, ok. I’d kiss someone upside down in this.
A drink buy me you will.
Oh? You want to be punished?
I don’t think this is what Walt had in mind…
All your fantasias will come true.
BAMBI OH DEAR GOD WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU
You’ll confuse a lot of children.
“Hey, my smile’s up here.”
So…what’s it going to be? Vote for the costume you want me to wear in a photo shoot in the comment below. I’ll order the one with the most votes on Monday, October 10th!
I have a confession. I’ve been eyeing these lollipops for forever. Have you had something like that? A small item that makes you want to drop everything and plan a party around it? They’re so pretty and nerdy and they’re CANDY. The best. Anyway. I was looking through one of my fave sites TheApolloBox.com recently, and saw that they had a few different options. They obliged my wishes to try some out and share some pics (and promo codes!) with you all.
I wanted to incorporate the lollipops into some napkin holders/place settings. I love the idea of adding a gift or a treat into the setting. It’s a great way to get the party started right, show off the theme, and thank your attendees for coming. So take a look below at two different options with the two lollipop types I tried from Apollo Box!
First of all, the presentation of these lollipops is gorgeous. They came in a beautiful box, and each lollipop is individually packaged in its own box, perfect for gift giving. These are going to be go-to stocking stuffers for me this Christmas!
I wanted to keep the lollipops in their cool boxes, so I put them in large silver napkin rings with alternating black and gray napkins. This adds a slight color variation, but lets the focus be on the colors of the lollipops. You can accent with blues, purples, or even a splash of red or yellow if you’d like. These would be beautiful centered on a plate at each place setting.
Although the initial packaging for the solar system pops isn’t as grand as the starry night version, the pops themselves are great. They’re slightly larger than the starry ones, and the images have a slight shimmer to them.
Since the lollipops don’t come in their own boxes, you have a bit more freedom with the place setting design. I could even fit some silverware with these pops in these napkin holders! If you’re using the planets, I recommend using numbers and making each place setting a different planet. Your attendees will learn a little something (in this case, the distance of the planet from the sun) while at the party! If you decide to put placards at the settings, you can include a little fact about the specific planet at each.
These lollipops are also gorgeous bunched together like a bouquet or placed around the table. And they’re delicious to boot!
You can find the Starry Night Lollipops and Solar System Lollipops, among other fun types, at The Apollo Box. And as a Geeky Hostess reader, you get 25% off AND free shipping off of these lollipops! Just use code “GEEKYHOSTESS” at checkout. (Valid until 9/30/16, so grab them fast!). The lollipops are normally $29.99 for a pack of 10. The discount will let you get them for $22.50.
Do you decorate with candy? How would you use these lollipops in your party decorating? Let me know in the comments!
This past weekend, I put together a Tavern-style menu for some back-to-back Dungeons and Dragons campaigns we were running. And while I’ve put together Tavern-style feasts or medieval-themed snacks before, this time I wanted to go all out. I prepared a full Tavern’s menu, with food and drink choices for the players, and acted as the “wench” throughout the run of their campaigns, filling orders whenever there was a good break in the gameplay. (It takes a special person to enjoy making and delivering food instead of playing DnD, but I swear, I had a great time!)
I made the menu using Canva, my ultimate favorite graphic design tool. It allows you to make great images very quickly, even if you have no graphic design skills. I would highly recommend it! See the full menu and descriptions of each item below.
Foraged Salad: I got a large box of spring mix and combined spring greens with items that look like it could be foraged from a forest. I added a variety of mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, and rainbow carrots. It’s a great way to offer a simple green salad and “pretty” it up a bit! I couldn’t find them in time, but I’d also recommend topping the salad with an edible flower or two.
Stuffed Eggs: Stuffed eggs are period appropriate, but they often stuffed them with cinnamon, raisins, and other sweeter spices, and then fried them to make them a bit crispier. I decided to cheat a bit and use a typical “Deviled Eggs” recipe.
Roast Goose: I created a couple of fake options on the menu to fill it out a bit. If anyone asked for the roast goose, I told them it ran away.
Stew: (Pictured below.) Go figure, I had to make stew on the hottest day of the year. Luckily, my slow cooker did all of the work and I didn’t have to turn on the stove. I used a recipe for Garlic Rosemary Beef Stew, and put it inside of sourdough bread boules, found at Trader Joe’s. (Potatoes are not accurate to the time period, but I kept them in because they’re delicious and an inexpensive way to fill out the stew.)
Sandwich: I hope you don’t have any vegetarians attending. This is a meaty menu. The sandwich was a French Dip: I heated up slices of deli roast beef, topped it with some slices of Provolone, and served with a side of Aus Jus. (I used a seasoning packet to make it nice and easy.)
The Fancyman’s/Commoner’s Feast: (Pictured above.) The Fancyman and Commoner Feasts were other joke items, the overall dish would be similar no matter which one the players ordered, but I may have simulated some additional “bites” and crumbs on the plate for the Commoner’s Feast. I picked up an assortment of inexpensive but delicious meats and cheeses, and paired it with some fruit and mixed nuts. I tore chunks of the bread instead of cutting it which added to the authenticity. This item got a huge reaction from the tables both times I served it.
Scones: I made scones a day in advance, so they were all ready to go. When ordered, I reheated one in the microwave for about 20 seconds, split it open, and added some butter and jam.
Ale: It’s historically accurate that they drank ale instead of water, so it’s the top of the menu. (Although if people asked for water, I did give it.) I just picked up a large variety pack of Ale from Costco.
Wine: The wine doesn’t have to be pricey, unless your friends are snobby about that sort of thing. I picked up $3 Chuck and decided to make a joke of it. You could also pick up an inexpensive wine and create your own label to put over the bottle.
Cider: I picked up some bottles of Hard Ginger Cider from Trader Joe’s. It’s extremely gingery, but that made it feel a bit more unique and old-timey.
Mountain Water: Something watery, from a mountain, and it’s a local favorite? That would be Rainier beer. (Although some players pointed out that this could also be Mountain Dew!)
Tea: Pretty self explanatory. I made up a batch of iced tea in advance and had hot tea on standby. This was great for anyone who didn’t want an alcoholic beverage or needed a bit of extra caffeine as the game went on.
Fireball: It’s just Fireball. (Mixes well with the Cider or Elixir of Life, or great on its own.)
Elixir of Life: I wanted a caffeinated beverage on the list, and my friends love Coke Zero, so that’s what this was.
What items would you add to your Tavern menu? (Also, holy cow, read the comments. So much great insight and suggestions for other historically accurate menu items!)
When I go camping with my friends, I often want to bring some sort of treat, but cupcakes and foofy desserts just don’t seem to be appropriate. So I put together this cookie for the next occasion! This trail mix cookie is yummy, hearty, and easier than carrying a bag of loose trail mix. It’s great for hiking, camping, or anytime you need a quick snack while out and about. The cute little tree sprinkles are a fun bonus, and made me think of Dipper from Gravity Falls! I’m pretty sure he’d approve of these cookies. Plus, they would totally keep you nourished while you’re looking for supernatural activity in your Great Uncle’s town.
The cookies themselves have all of your typical trail mix ingredients: peanuts, raisins, and chocolate chips. But you can play around with those and substitute your favorites! (Next time, I think I’d try walnuts, dried cherries, and chocolate chips.) They’re also full of oats and wheat germ, which provides extra protein and vitamins. That means they’re practically a health food. Right?
Give them a try, and then let me know in the comments what trail mix ingredients you’d put in them!
Dipper’s Trail Mix Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup wheat germ
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3 cups quick oats
- 1 cup peanuts
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup natural tree sprinkles
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring until well mixed. Add the vanilla and mix.
- Combine the flour, wheat germ, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda together, and then add to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix until just blended.
- Mix in the quick oats, peanuts, raisins, chocolate chips, and sprinkles.
- Using a cookie scoop, place the cookies on a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet. Place additional tree sprinkles on top.
- Bake for approximately 14 minutes, or until the bottoms begin to brown.
- Remove and let sit for 5 minutes, then move to a cooling rack.
This recipe makes approximately 42 cookies, so make it when you’ve got a crowd to feed! (Or when you want to eat a bunch of cookies for dinner. I don’t judge.)