I’m a sucker for licensed/themed food and drinks, and the Game of Thrones/Brewery Ommegang partnership is one of my faves. For the past five years, they’ve been making beers inspired by characters and events from Game of Thrones, and your viewing parties have never been the same.
Even though the show isn’t coming back for another year, Ommegang is still at it: they’re releasing the Royal Reserve Collection, a series of four new beers, in 2018. The first one is Hand of the Queen, a barleywine ale inspired by everyone’s favorite character, Tyrion Lannister.
HBO and Ommegang sent me a couple bottles to sample before it comes out, and I highly recommend you pick this up. The barleywine is bold, rich, and much smoother than I would have expected. Ommegang had this to say about the beer:
Brewed with a complex blend of specialty malts and carefully-selected old-world hops, Hand of the Queen is a rich, full-bodied version of a classic barleywine and comes in at 10.7% ABV. Malt forward and multifaceted, the beer balances the intense flavors of brandy-soaked raisins and dark fruit with the lighter notes of apricot. Hints of molasses and toffee are evident before a finish characterized by the classic yet distinctive barleywine alcoholic heat. Hand of the Queen, an old-world example of the style, attempts to balance these strong yet unruly opposing forces, much like the way Tyrion maintains the balance of power among his influential contemporaries in Westeros.
It’s the perfect drink to carry around with you while you make snarky comments about everyone else in your life. If you’d prefer to wait and enjoy the beer with the new season next year, grab a bottle now and cellar it. Barleywine can be aged like normal wine.
Hand of the Queen is available in stores in early April. The other three pieces of the Royal Reserve Collection will be released in July, October, and December. Are you going to collect them all? (I know I will!)
Dave and Busters recently opened up a location in Washington, and this opening allowed me to finally attend something I had heard about for years. While I had heard about the games and fun environment, no one ever told me about their outrageous food and drink menu. Seriously: it’s bonkers. They have adult snow cones, a mac and cheese and pulled pork SANDWICH, and something called the “Caveman Combo” that involves ribs and sliders. I’ve heard they have some salads and other healthy items there as well, but let’s be honest, I didn’t come to Dave and Busters to be healthy.
After sampling the most ridiculous items we could find, I couldn’t resist tasting a bit of dessert. My eyes immediately drifted towards the Brookie Sundae Tower. Chocolate chip cookies combined with brownies. Ice cream in between. Stacked in a tower. Drizzled with caramel AND hot fudge. I’m drooling just thinking about it. This item quickly became the favorite thing we had that night. And I realized I could remake it at home.
So, if you’re feeling adventurous and would prefer the call of your couch over the call of some awesome video games and glowing drinks (who are you?), then check out the recipe below to make your very own Brookie Sundae Tower.
1 box brownie mix (plus ingredients listed on the box)
1 packet of refrigerated break-apart cookie dough
vanilla ice cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray, and then coat with flour and dump out the excess. Set the tin aside.
Mix the brownie mix together as described on the box.
Fill each muffin cup ½ full with brownie mix. Then, flatten a square of cookie dough slightly and place one in each muffin cup.
Bake for around 20 minutes or until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.
Prep the serving plate by drizzling chocolate sauce and caramel sauce in a pretty pattern.
Place a brookie in the center of the plate, and then place a scoop of ice cream on top of that. Drizzle some chocolate sauce on top of the ice cream. Top that ice cream with another brookie and another scoop of ice cream, followed by another drizzle of chocolate sauce. If the tower won't stay upright on its own, Place a wooden skewer all the way through the center.
Top the sundae with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry!
Do you have a Dave and Buster’s near you? If you want to check out the ridiculous menu for yourself, visit my Instagram. I’m giving away $50 in “D&B Dollars”!
Thank you to Dave and Busters for providing me with the sampling opportunity and additional dollars to give away.
Bottles of wine are such an easy, go-to gift, and if you’re like me, you often pick a bottle based off of the label/name. But sometimes, the right wine (and label) just doesn’t exist. For instance, what do you get your friend for Christmas that says “you’re more badass than a fictional character, and I hope you can Netflix and chill this holiday season”? WineGreeting.com to the rescue.
WineGreeting lets you entirely customize a bottle of wine. You can make a custom label or engraved bottle, and you even get to choose the color of the wax seal! You also get to choose between red, white, and sparkling wine, which means you can customize a bottle of bubbly for special occasions.
While the options for customization are fairly standard, I thought I would make one a bit geekier. I took their “Holiday Lights” option and turned it into a Stranger Things reference. The etching was deep and gorgeous on the bottle, and the red wax just made it look even more epic.
The wine itself was a very drinkable and delicious red blend, and I now have a bottle I want to display long after the wine has gone.
If you’re looking for an awesome custom gift, I highly recommend WineGreeting. And if you use promo code “GEEKYHOSTESS” you’ll save $15 off your first order!
Let me know what custom bottle you’d make in the comments!
Thank you to WineGreeting for providing a bottle of wine for me to review.
So you’ve been given a name for a Secret Santa, and your recipient is a bit of a geek. You want to get them something fun, but don’t know much about their interests and don’t know where to start. Never fear, The Geeky Hostess is here! Whether you’re not-so-geeky or are just into different fandoms than this person, you should be able to find something easy and inexpensive that they’ll actually like right here. And bonus: All of these gifts are available through Amazon Prime, so they’ll be here in time for your holiday party.
For the Tabletop Gamer
Does this person have miniature figurines or dice on their desk? Do they mention the phrases Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, or RPG? Then the safest thing to get them is a set of dice. Dice is like jewelry to us: there are so many gorgeous options out there, we can never have enough, and they make great gifts. Get them this set of metal dice for a gift they’ll treasure. (Bonus points if you claim they’re “lucky dice” and will always roll high!)
For the Doodler
Adult coloring books have become a thing. And it’s the perfect gift. It’s something that I’ve personally never purchased for myself, but always secretly wish someone gave to me. A silly luxury that someone can enjoy during holiday travel or boring conference calls. Plus, it’s genuinely supposed to be calming and relaxing. This particular coloring book is one of the most popular. The images are beautiful, and there are bonus activities/puzzles to solve. Gift this with some really nice colored pencils and you’ll be set.
For the Book Nerd
If your co-worker’s nose is always in a book, or you see them updating Goodreads often, then help them prepare for hygge. Hygge is a Scandinavian term for staying in, being cozy, and curling up with a good book. It’s basically an acceptable form of hibernation that happens around the holidays. Encourage some hygge-ing with this delicious smelling candle. The Paddywax Library candles have scents based on different authors. Charles Dickens’ scent is perfect for the holidays, but a variety of authors are available. Pair this with a gift certificate to a local book store, some cozy socks, or some nice tea or cocoa.
For the STEMinist
Is your recipient a developer, scientist, or another STEM profession? Did they encourage the whole office to go see “Hidden Figures” last year? They need this Women of NASA LEGO set. The set is selling out everywhere, so you’re paying a tiny bit of a premium on Amazon, but it’ll be worth it for the look on their face. Between LEGOs, NASA, and recognizing important women in the field, it’s got everything they could hope for.
For the Animation Aficionado
Is this person the type who would love to relive childhood with a big bowl of cereal and a full day of Saturday morning cartoons? are they always watching Cartoon Network and talking about Rick and Morty? Get them some cartoons from their childhood (or possibly before their time, if they’re a young whipper-snapper.). This Nicktoon collection includes 40 episodes of all the classic Nickelodeon cartoons: CatDog, Hey Arnold, Rocko’s Modern Life, Ahh! Real Monsters, and Angry Beavers.
For the Escape Room Champ
If your recipient is always trying to get the team to do an escape room together, this is the gift for them. The Werewolf Experiment is an escape room in a box that will let them recreate the experience at home. I played the first version of this game and it was terrific. So terrific, that Mattel took it and made a version that will be on toy store shelves everywhere. the puzzles are challenging, the writing is great, and it makes an excellent “escape room” experience for a group.
For the Fantasy Fiend
Would your recipient rather live in a world of dragons, unicorns, and mermaids? Turn them into a mermaid/man while keeping them cozy with this adorable mermaid tail blanket. Perfect for the co-worker that’s always a bit too chilly in the office as well!
For the Theatre Lover
This person probably already has all of the swag for their favorite show, and they listen to the soundtracks on Spotify non-stop. So get them something they may not have: Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway. This book tells them the history of Broadway in a super interesting read. Tell them it’s like The Producers meets Smash. They’ll know what that means.
For the Mouseketeer
Bring some of the Disneyland magic home with this Mickey Waffle Maker. They look just like the ones they’d eat in the Happiest Place on Earth! (Plus, you’re practically inviting them to make waffles for you in the future…) If they’re more of a Disney princess fan than a Mickey fan, then they NEED this Chip Mug in their life. I’ve seriously just stared at it while squealing for the past few minutes. Who hasn’t wished they had Chip?
For the Cocktail Connoisseur
If they’re always talking about their bourbon collection or visiting the nicest cocktail bars, get them something to elevate their drinks at home. This bitters bar set has something for any type of cocktail, and Hella Bitters is a delicious brand.
For the Foodie
Fondue is so old-fashioned. Even though it’s been around for hundreds of years, Raclette, or the act of scraping copious amonts of hot cheese directly onto your food, has become a food trend in the US in the past couple years. You’ve probably seen videos of places scraping melted cheese directly off the wheel. Well, this Raclette Grill is a way to do the trend at home. It’s a “cheesy” gift that will be very much appreciated!
For the Social Media “Guru”
If this person has tons of followers and spends more time taking pics of their food than eating it, then they need this. It’s a Selfie Ring Light that doubles as a phone charger. It’ll go over their normal phone/phone case and make all of their photos even better. It even has three different light levels, so it’ll be perfect in any situation! Just make sure they tag you in those flawless pics.
For the Sci-Fi Fan
The new Star Wars movies is coming out, and they’ve already got their tickets. All they need is a lightsaber. And while they’re fun, they’re not super practical in our everyday use. But this Lightsaber water bottle is! It’s perfect for their desk, the gym or carried around in their bag, and it will help them show off their fan status everywhere.
For the Video Gamer
If they have an Xbox One or a PC, get them a copy of Cuphead. The game is a run and gun platformer with art stylings inspired by 1930’s cartoons. Everything is hand-drawn and SO cool looking. The game is snatching up tons of awards for best indie game/art direction in 2017, so you’ll look super in-the-know if you give them this.
For the Wizard in Waiting
Does your recipient often claim their letter to Hogwarts got lost in the mail? Help them live that wizard life with this beautiful Pensieve memory set. It includes a journal, a wand pen, and two memory vials, all in a keepsake box.
For the Political Activist
Your recipient can exercise their rights and their body with this RBG Workout book. Do the same workout Ruth Bader Ginsberg does twice a week. Spoilers: It’s not easy!
Give the film buff their very own cinema light box. It’s perfect for their desk or home–they can let you know their mood, what movie they’re about to watch next, or let the office know their short review of the latest blockbuster.
For the Horror Fanatic
This graphic novel is full of haunting stories in a fairy tale setting. Seriously, these tales will stick with you. I like horror and had to put the book down. Late some nights, some of the stories still pop into my head… The book is beautiful and scary, a great gift for a horror lover or anyone who prefers the Grimm tales to the Disney ones.
For the Comic Con Attendee
This Bag of Holding: Con Edition was made by geeks for geeks, and includes pockets and places for everything you need at a con. It’s a bit pricier than the other gifts in this list, but for the right recipient, it’s totally worth it.
Fellow geeks, help out these Secret Santas: what gifts are you wishing for this year?
(Items featured above may contain affiliate links.)
I had an amazing Thanksgiving with my family, but as soon as the day was over, it was time to break out the holiday decorations, make lists of presents, and put on my amazing new Wonder Woman sweater from Fun.com. While taking a break from eating leftovers, I made my Dad take some pics of me so I can show it off in all its glory.
This sweater is amazing. I was concerned that it would be cheap or flimsy, since “ugly holiday sweaters” are normally just a novelty, but it’s extremely thick, warm, and well-made. It’s my go-to sweater for chilly nights and lounging around. Plus, while it’s definitely a Wonder Woman sweater, the design itself is so nice, it can be worn around non-geeks as well.
And it’s also a great sweater for…sneaking pie. I had to test it. You know how it is.
Fun.com has a HUGE amount of holiday sweaters available, including plenty of DC-licensed ones (and three different Wonder Woman sweaters!). If superheroes aren’t your thing, they’ve got sweaters for Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, Alf, Star Wars, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, Disney, Elf, Bob’s Burgers, Rick and Morty, dinosaurs, and a ton of ridiculous Christmas and Hanukkah designs. Seriously. They have over 150 different sweaters.
Will you be picking up a holiday sweater this year? Which one is your fave?
(Thanks to Fun.com for letting me review this sweater! Check out all of their holiday sweaters here. )
Ok, listen. Retail therapy is real and scoring a ridiculous deal gives me the most amazing natural high. So I’m going to share with you some of the best deals I’ve found for the upcoming Tofurkey Day weekend. Whether you celebrate Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday, you’ll find some sweet, sweet deals below. And best of all? The list is mostly independent, geeky businesses. That way you can feel good for scoring a deal AND helping out a small business during the holidays! Enjoy, and let me know in the comments what deals you get this weekend!
Ban.do: 25% off everything from November 23-26 with code ITSBFBABY.
Breaking Games: 20% off everything from November 24-27 with code BFCM2017.
Cakeworthy: 40% off regular priced items on November 24 with code BLACKFRIDAY17.
It’s September 29th, and that means it’s CUPHEAD DAY! Cuphead is a highly anticipated game that is HAND. DRAWN. in the style of 1930’s cartoons. It’s weird, it’s a little creepy, and it’s supposed to be super hard. I can’t wait to try it out. (Check out the trailer below!)
I recently found out that one of the levels would be dessert-themed, and I thought it would be the perfect excuse to practice my cake skills. The cake incorporates elements found in the level, including the cake-castle, gum drops, jellybeans, pretzels, lollipops, and sprinkles, as well as the various things you have to fight, including a waffle, a cupcake, jawbreakers, and Baronness Von Bon Bon and her sugar cone hat. Take a look at the level and the cake toppings:
(I don’t know how I feel about those eyeball sprinkles. They’re always looking at me funny, no matter what angle I’m at!)
The cake itself is a combination of Funfetti and Strawberry cake mixes, which makes an incredibly sweet and almost Bubblegum-ish flavor. I then added pink gel coloring to a classic buttercream frosting recipe to make the pink frosting. The cake/frosting layers are reminiscent of the layers on the castle!
I love these types of cakes: You don’t need tons of skill to put it together, just a bunch of fun candies and sweet items. I’m still perfecting it all, but loved this opportunity to practice. What fandom should inspire my next cake design? And will you be grabbing a copy of Cuphead? (You can grab it today for Xbox One and Windows 10!)
PUBG is one of the hottest games out there right now, and it’s making the phrase “Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner” a serious term that all esports players are vying for. But whether you play or not, a delicious chicken dinner is easily within your reach.
For those not in the know, PUBG, or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, is a “battle royale” survival shooter game. 100 players are (literally) dropped into a map of an abandoned Russian island and must fight to the death until only one remains. The playable area continues to shrink, forcing you to face the other players. Before it shrinks down you equip yourself with loot and pray you can stay alive while getting a couple kills yourself. The final person remaining gets the elusive “Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner” title.
Inspired by this, I put together a “Russian Chicken” recipe. While I don’t believe anyone in Russia actually eats this, the chicken is made with Russian dressing. The recipe is extremely simple and makes super moist and delicious chicken. (While there are a few different versions of this recipe online, I must thank my friend Makenzie for giving me some tips straight from her family’s “secret” recipe for this. Their version is definitely the best and I feel honored to be able to pass down some of it to you!)
But seriously. You’re going to mix a couple of ingredients together to make a sauce, pour it over the chicken, and let the oven do it’s job while you play a few rounds of PUBG. (You’ve gotta earn that chicken dinner, after all!) I recommend pairing the chicken with some rice (to soak up additional sauce), salad, and a nice energy drink to boost your health. See the recipe below!
When you think of Vegas, visions may pop up of gambling, flashy lights, nightclubs, and impromptu marriage. But there is much more to Sin City, and you can have a great time without blowing tons of money or doing anything you’d regret, in my case, I’m content with just playing games at www.slotsbaby.com. I recently organized a trip for a group of 11 friends, and wanted to share some of the best activities we did. Adding any of these into your trip plans will guarantee an epically geeky time.
If you’ve ever wanted to take part in a heist, this is the show for you. Part scavenger hunt, part interactive show, you make your way around Downtown Vegas finding and interacting with characters as you try to help “The Mastermind” with his heist. It’s a goofy good time, and a great bonding event for everyone in your group. You will solve puzzles, do goofy things, and laugh a lot.
The 2.5 hour “show” also includes a meal and two alcoholic (or non-alcoholic) drinks throughout the run, making it a great deal and a fun mid-day activity. We chose to do it in the afternoon, and then stayed in Downtown Vegas after to keep exploring the area.
As soon as we walked into The Nerd, we knew we were home. The bar has props and costumes from famous films, signed posters and comics on the wall, cosplay for sale, a bowling alley, and a huge board game and video game library. You can play games and bowl for free while you hang out. Plus, their bartender makes amazing drinks and the prices won’t break the bank. The Nerd often has themed nights and viewing parties for popular shows, and cosplayers get a discount on drinks. You HAVE to check it out. (And while you’re in Neonopolis, make sure you check out the epic vintage toy shop on the first floor. It’ll make you super nostalgic and you’ll want to re-start your TMNT action figure collection.)
If your group enjoys puzzles and is relatively sober, an escape room is a great mid-day activity (and a fun way to beat the heat!). Countdown Las Vegas offers a variety of rooms, and we tried a classic: their Sherlock Holmes room. This escape room is extremely difficult with a 10% success rate. #HumbleBrag, this group defeated it, but with only 41 seconds left on the clock. If you go, let us know if you beat our time!
If you prefer your escape rooms to be more about the ambiance, I’d suggest their “Atelophobia” room. It’s a horror room, described as “part escape room, part haunted house” and uses an actor for a part of the experience. When we were there, a few members of that room left early and refused to go back in, because they were too scared. (This clearly just intrigued me further!) I would definitely try this room next time I was in Vegas!
What if I told you there was a place where you could eat a medieval-style meal with your hands while watching knights joust on horses and maidens dance and also there’s pyrotechnics? You would buy a ticket immediately, that’s what. I refuse to go to Vegas and not go to Tournament of Kings. This was my third time, and it was just as much fun as the first. Between the meal and the entertainment, it’s one of the best values for a show on the Strip, and it’s legitimately great for all ages. If you’ve never been to Tournament of Kings (or Medieval Times, a similar experience), I would make it a “must” for your next trip.
What are your favorite geeky activities in Vegas? Sound off in the comments!
Some of these locations provided free or discounted tickets in exchange for a review. All opinions and words are my own!
Thank you Deer Lord! for sponsoring this post. Grab your new edition of Deer Lord! social party game, available through Target retail stores starting July 30.
You know that feeling when you find the perfect party game, and it just makes you exclaim “Dear Lord!”? Well, meet Deer Lord.
Deer Lord is a social party game that encourages you to challenge your friends to “duels” (or silly dares) and “dupe” your friends by behaving bizarrely, but hopefully discreetly enough that they won’t notice. It just recently came to the US, and is now available in Target! (Have you noticed that Target has been rocking their game section lately?) The Target set will include the base game, as well as “Broadway” and “Gangsta” sets that include themed duels and dupes. Although the game is fun on its own, there is also a version that incorporates gambling available on the best online casino US at EasyMobileCasino.com.
While you can easily play this game on its own, I wanted to throw a themed party around the idea of dueling your friends. And where else would you do that than the fanciest dinner party? (Exclaiming “Dear Lord!” whenever you catch your friends doing something out-of-the-ordinary was a ridiculously fancy bonus.) I emailed the following invitation to some of my most charismatic and daring friends:
And I began prepping the dinner party. I decided to go with a white and slate theme to tie into the board game box, and as an excuse to give everyone their own mini cheese plate.
I made name tags with toothpicks and stuck them into the individual cheeses. (I may have also embellished my friends’ names a bit. Because FANCY.) And a simple white table cloth and some candles added to the elegance of the table.
As they arrived, I greeted them at the door with prosciutto wrapped melon (literally the easiest thing to prepare and it looks SO fancy) and an Old Fashioned. They then found their place setting and were able to share their various cheeses with each other, and pair them with the cracker assortment in the middle of the table. At this point, we went over the rules of the game, looked at our cards, and began the challenges. We got so into the game, that it wasn’t until we were nearly finished that I remembered to serve the rest of dinner! (This is really why every great dinner party needs a butler or three.)
For dinner, we had salad in Parmesan cups, steak and broccolini, and some small cakes from Trader Joe’s gussied up with some caramel and chocolate syrups. My goal was to do the least amount of work and still have a wonderful meal. The item I was most proud of was the Parmesan cup salad. All of my guests were impressed with the cups, and they were so easy to make. You just put 2 TBS of shredded Parmesan in a circle on top of a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, and place it in an oven heated to 350 degrees for 5 minutes. As soon as you remove it, carefully place the melted circle into the cavity of a muffin pan, forming a circular bowl. Let it cool, and voila! I was able to make these a couple hours in advance and put the salads together in minutes once we were ready.
But back to the game. Duels included things like “Who can do the most amount of push-ups,” “who can gargle the longest,” “who can come up with the best one-liner,” and “who can tell the most exciting story.” Dupes included “take a phone call,” “touch another player,” “ask another player about their family,” and “give a standing ovation.” My friend Liz took a phone call from her dad, and I “duped” her by asking how he was doing. Little did I know that she was also “duping” me by faking the phone call! This game gets into Inception-level layers of deceit.
If you’re interested in seeing more of the game in action, check out this video from Lark and Clam below:
What are your thoughts on party games? Will you be picking up Deer Lord? And do you think you’d be able to dupe all of your friends?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.