Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Warcraft Updates

It's been a while, but I thought I'd post an update today on what I've been up to in Warcraft. With Cataclysm marching ever closer, I've been focusing on finishing up some Wrath specific goals.

On Blusummers, my big goal was to get the Salty title from fishing. Well, a couple of weeks ago I managed to fish up my last gold coin from the Dalaran fountain and was rewarded with a neat coin to flip as well as a title that showed that I had devoted waaay too much time to fishing. I also received a nice little bonus yesterday when the headless horseman decided to give me his mount. I was playing around with it a bit and I must say, it's very strange flying through the air on a mount that doesn't flap.

Squirrelz only has one real goal by the end of Wrath and that is to finish leveling fishing. I'm not going for "Salty" on him. I have decided that I definitely want to tank with him in Cataclysm. I learned to tank in BC before Swipe was even remotely what it was in Wrath so I look forward to the challenge of multi-mob tanking again. I do have to say though, I already miss swipe as a soloing tool. Rounding up a group of 15 quest mobs and swiping them all down with unlimited rage was a lot of fun, but I agree with Blizzard that it was a needed fix because tanking in Wrath heroics was pretty much a joke as long as you had the gear to stay ahead of the insane output of ICC raid-geared DPSers. The thing I'm still up in the air about on Squirrelz is what I want to do to level him. He's almost always been Feral. Feral DPS and Bear Tank. When Wrath came out, I thought about leveling him balance just to see what it was like...it didn't go well. No offense to all you long time Boomkins out there, but compared to my frost mage, the balance druid just felt "clunky". I really don't know how else to describe it. The rotation just felt awkward to me. Well, ever since patch 4.0.1 hit, I've been dabbling in PvP with most of my characters. I don't have very good gear on Squirrelz, but I love the changes to both Feral and Moonkin for PvP. I started with feral, of course, and even though I wasn't able to kill much with all the resilience I was going up against, I found that I had the ability to very effectively shut down any non-druid healer. Talented Skull Bash + Maim = Win.

Well, I had seen quite a few boomkin rather effectively blowing stuff up in the battlegrounds and since Charleen plays one, I knew about the changes to them with their new eclipse mastery stuff and it seemed interesting. I farmed up some leather for the crafted PvP gear, spent a few champion seals for a weapon, put a spec together, and dove into the battlegrounds headfirst. It was awesome. Again, I'm not destroying anyone in great gear, but it's a lot of fun. Instant roots, Moonfire, insect swarm, sometimes instant Starsurge, and Starfall. I'm now debating if I want to level as boomkin or if I want to level Feral. The new casting system suits me a lot more and with instant roots and typhoon, I feel like I have a lot more control than just blast at it and hope it dies before you do. Both specs are a lot of fun, but I think I'm still leaning towards leveling primarily feral to get a better base of gear to dive into tanking at 85 and just letting Honor and some quest gear fill out a Boomkin set for PvPing.

Speaking of PvP, Charleen and I once started a warrior/priest leveling pair on the horde that we had intended to level up and do some pvp with. I always wanted to level a warrior, but hated the extra down time, and it was a great way for us to play together aside from the occasional group daily quest or guild-run dungeon. We had a lot of fun doing it and it was quite funny to duo some of the older dungeons...especially when the mobs were several levels higher than we were and it took forever to take a group down while dealing with a high miss rate. Anyway, with the "new" heirloom gear, we decided that we were going to give a warrior-healer pair another try. Meet the temporary Steelblu.

I decided that I would probably make a Worgen warrior for our leveling pair, but I wanted to make sure to reserve a name ahead of time. I was feeling a bit obnoxious and creative when saving the name so a pink-haired gnome female it was. I got all the champion's seals that I needed on Blusummers and Squirrelz to buy all the heirloom gear available for her and we started leveling a bit. She's level 17 now and having a blast in PvP. Even though I don't have a speed enchant on my boots, or hamstring yet, I love charging in and beating horde players silly. I can't wait 'till I get hamstring and intercept and get the talent where I can charge in combat. I ran like 4 or 5 WSGs last night while Char was working on some other things. I can't wait to combine that with pairing up with a healer to watch each others backs. Is Deathwing ready to come out and play yet?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I Missed My Kitchen

So some other bloggers that I read have shared some of their favorite dishes. Well, I made a favorite soup of ours today and thought I would share my contribution to the culinary world. To be fair, it's not really my contribution. It originally comes from an awesome cookbook called Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen! But we've tweaked it a little bit to suit our tastes.

First, the recipe. I'll reserve my comments (and they are plentiful) for after.


Cheddar Potato Soup
Serves 4-6
~ 45 min

1 onion
3 potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups cold water
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Peel, quarter, and thinly slice the onion. Peel the potatoes, and cut them into 1/2-inch cubes.

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook a few minutes to soften. Add the flour and stir constantly until absorbed. Add the water and bouillon cubes, and turn heat to high.

Once the soup has reached a boil, add the potato pieces to the pot. Wait for the soup to return to a boil, then turn down the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Turn the heat off and, using the back of the spoon, mash the potatoes into the broth. Add the cheddar cheese and stir for 1 to 2 minutes, until melted. Season with pepper and garlic salt, and serve.


Okay. First of all, I say it serves 4-6. More accurately, it's enough for 4-6 bowls, depending on how big. But when we're eating it as a meal by itself, it's pretty much enough for the two of us to each have two good-sized portions. It's also good leftover. However, if I know that I'm going to be making the soup for primarily leftover use, I use half as much flour. The reason is that the soup thickens up a lot sitting in the refrigerator, and making it this way it's almost too thick for my liking leftover. If I cut the flour in half, it's not quite as creamy the first time around, but comes out a lot better when I reheat it later.

Notes on the other ingredients. As far as potatoes, I use regular baking potatoes, not the small red kind or any other variety. Also, we're talking good-sized potatoes. I actually used 4 today because the bag we bought was full of rather smaller potatoes than I'm used to. Also, while I've never seen vegetarian bouillon cubes in the store, I've been told they exist. So, if you happen to be vegetarian, you don't have to miss out on this cheddary-potatoey goodness.

The seasonings are of course negotiable. I settled on this amount after a little bit of experimenting, but your tastes may vary. The original recipe doesn't even call for anything other than pepper, but we decided we wanted a little something extra.

When it comes time to mash the potatoes into the broth, I cheat and use a potato masher instead of the spoon. Personally I like it that way, making a creamier soup but with fewer actual chunks in it. Feel free to experiment with varying levels of chunky.

Also, I use a block of cheese, and shred it myself while the soup is bubbling away. The couple times I've used the pre-shredded kind, the soup seemed to have a kind of film to it once I melted the cheese in, from all that extra processing, I guess. Which is unfortunate, because pre-shredded is of course more convenient. But we actually just bought an awesome cheese grater (our old one was cheap and plastic and cracked pretty quickly) that fits on top of a little measuring container, making this step super easy.

So, anyway, this is one of the recipes that I used to make fairly often in our old apartment, and plan to make fairly often again in this one. I really have missed cooking, much as I never thought I'd say that. Perhaps I'll share more recipes in the future. I always enjoy reading about other people's favorite recipes, and though I've never actually attempted any, I've been meaning for a while to try TJ's Deeleeshoos Noodles. (And maybe next time I'll even have pretty pictures to illustrate my recipe like TJ . . . but I wouldn't count on it.)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Books and More Books

Pat and I finally got over to the public library today to get our library cards here in Dubuque (much more of a big deal for me than for him). I've been busy with other things so I haven't had much time to read anyway, but it's been kind of frustrating being stuck with only the books I own. Because really, as much as I love reading, I don't have a very extensive library myself. It's grown a bit since I started working at Borders, but not by much.

Speaking of Borders, I had an interview at the Dubuque store yesterday. It went pretty well. She didn't say, "You're hired," but I'll be very surprised if it doesn't work out, especially with the holidays fast approaching. I should hear back by the end of next week, after she has a chance to talk to my manager from the Oak Brook store.

Back to the library, though. I got my card, and checked out my allotted three books. Yes, three. I used to check books out 10 at a time back in Westmont. But here, until my 90-day probationary period is up, I'm limited to three at a time. Which shouldn't really be a huge problem -- after all, I'm only reading one at a time -- it's just going to be a lot more back and forth than I had to do before.

I'm just glad to get back to reading new things again, rather than books I've already read and re-read several times. Not that there's anything wrong with those books, it's just a little tiring when that's my only option.

Final note: the library is 3.6 miles from my apartment. Any walking trips there in my future? I guess we'll see. With the weather getting cooler, I may try it at least once.