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Learning Calligraphy

My interest for calligraphy isn’t new. In my early childhood my fascination with fountain pens and calligraphy was already apparent to my mother who bought me a Parker calligraphy set and a book on popular calligraphy (cursive, not hand lettering).

I still have the book, although I’m not sure where the pens are. I now have a wide range of fountains and dip pens with various widths. I have a few brush pens that I can use for practicing line variation. No flex nibs yet, but that might still be too advanced for me. I need to learn my letters first.

I hope to get better at it so I can make my own cards with inspiring quotes. Even though I have learning calligraphy as a goal for my 101 Goals, 1001 Days challenge, I know that this is a skill that takes years to master. It would be weird if I mastered it fully in three years.

Below are a few pictures of calligraphy and handwriting practice. I’m by no means any good (average at best), but I’m working hard to get better. Follow me on Instagram to see more pictures of calligraphy practice, bookish pictures and fountain pens.

Planning My Tokyo Trip

It’s been a long time wish to go to Japan and my brother gave us the tickets as a wedding gift. His girlfriend is Japanese and she even offered to show us around. I’m really looking forward to the trip, but we still have to save  up for accommodation, transfers and public transport and food. But my shopping list is growing as well.

Right now I’m looking at what I want to do and see. My husband is okay with everything. He will let me guide him to all the awesomeness of Japan. We’ll probably only go to Tokyo for now (we don’t want to leave our dog with my parents for too long).

Places

Karaoke and visiting an arcade are high on my list. I know the guys won’t like the first, but they’ll enjoy the second. Tokyo Tower is a must see, since chances are slim that I’ll ever go to Paris to see the real one. Tokyo has another tower, Skytree. It also has an observation deck, but I’m more interested in the shopping area around it. A Pokemon Center is located there and there’s an aquarium. I always love going to one when I can.

I want to go to Asakusa as well, the more traditional side of Tokyo. The temple there is a huge tourist attraction because it’s big and beautiful. See how crowded it is?

I want to see the traditional and the modern Japan, so a visit to Akihibara is a must. Maybe we’ll go to an arcade hall there.

Food

Most people will say that you just have to have sushi while you’re in Japan. We’re no fish eaters though, so we’ll skip the sushi bars. I’d like to go to an izakaya and have curry rice, I want to taste delicious ramen, and sweet snacks.

I watched Kantaro: The Sweet Tooth Salaryman, a Japanese show about an office worker who loves to check out desserts around Tokyo. All shops in this show are real and I hope to visit some of them. In particular the parfait shop in Shinjuku and maybe the pancake shop.

In one of the episodes Kantaro is craving a melon parfait, and my, does it look delicious! All of the fruits are high quality and are served with whipped cream and/or ice cream. The prices are high, but it’s worth it. There’s almost always a line for these delicious treats.

From fourtrive.com

In another episode Kantaro wants to eat pancakes. We have pancakes here but the Japanese pancakes are very different. Look at how fluffy they are! I’d soak them in maple syrup before I eat. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

Shops

My fountain pen hobby is expensive. One of the pros of going to the Japan will be cheaper prices for the Japanese brands. The Iroshizuku ink is half the price of what I would pay here. There are also limited editions which aren’t sold outside of the Tokyo stores or Japan.

Tokyu Hands is very high one my list. People say it’s the place to get stationery. They have everything from vintage to cute to fancy. There are a ton of Youtube videos with stationery hauls. I could watch them all day, but it won’t be good for my wallet. I’m definitely setting a budget for Tokyu Hands so I can’t spend too much.

Itoya is another store for pen and paper lovers. After the renovation a few years ago, the look of the shop changed to a modern style and dedicated each floor to its own theme. The third floor is probably the place where I’ll spend most of my time, the one with over 2000 fountain pens.

This is just the beginning of what I want to do. I still have to look into things a little more and learn basic Japanese to I can find my way around when we’re just with the two of us. Have you ever been to Tokyo or have tips for travelling there? Please leave them in a comment below!

Makeover versus Makeunder

Netflix has all kinds of shows, but the shows that I enjoy the most are the makeover and makeunder shows. Queer Eye and 100% Hotter are two of such shows. In Queer Eye the Fab Five give men a make over, some straight, some gay, but all turn out fabulous. In 100% hotter a team of a stylist, make up artist and hairdresser give people with extreme looks a makeunder.

The reason why the participants agree to their nomination and selection is different for each one. In Queer Eye the men often want to do something back for their partner (look nice, take them on a date) or someone special (mother, future girlfriend). In 100% Hotter participants often want to look more presentable for the workplace or less embarrassing to their family members.

100% Hotter for a makeunder

In 100% Hotter the participants are nominated by a friend or family member because they think they need a little help with their style. A few even nominate themselves. The participants have extreme looks which make it hard to find a job or be part of society. Daniel, Melissa and Grace are the styling team who takes care of them.

The incredible team takes care of them, physically and mentally. The participants are coached to see themselves in a more natural way, without all the makeup and big hair. This helps in the process of becoming more like their true self.

Only a few participants reverted back to their usual ways, while the others learned from their 100% Hotter experience.

Queer Eye for a makeover

If you haven’t heard of Queer Eye, you better watch it now. I’m talking about the Netflix reboot with Tan, Karamo, Jon, Antoni and Bobby. Bring tissues. I binged both seasons as soon as they came on the streaming service and I just can’t get enough.

Each of the men have their own area of expertise, just like in the original show. They’re also all their own character and all of them are pure love. The Fab Five transform not only the participant, but also their house and help out in the kitchen. Karamo is doing coaching in the areas needed. For some it’s dating advice, for others it’s a heart to heart talk about coming out.

Each participant has their own touching story. I remember the talk between Karamo and Cory, a police officer, about police brutality and how he, as a parent, experiences it. It was so real and both parties talked about it in a respectful manner.

The whole series has these little nuggets of wisdom and touching moments. The makeover isn’t just in regards of the participant’s look, but their whole life. Coming out is a big step and not something you can undo. But also getting more in touch with yourself after undergoing surgery to become your real gender, is life changing. Some wives got their man back, the one they fell in love with years ago. Others were proposed to. If you need to watch something feel-good, this is an excellent choice.

I like both series in which it’s not just dressing up or dressing under, but that the teams are influencing the participant’s life in a positive way.  What is your favourite makerover or makeunder series?

I’m a spoiled MMO gamer…

…and Guild Wars 2 is the reason why.

Over the years I’ve played and tried many different MMORPGs. When I saw a list and pointed out each one I tried to my husband, he was stunned. Most of them never stuck though. Except Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2.

I liked Guild Wars because I was able to do most of it alone. The city hubs were the places where players gathered, but all the zones were instanced. I could play with my own party of heroes without being afraid of some numbhead running through my mob of event creatures, killing them all, or just plain messing everything up for me to succeed my quest. I liked that I could play an MMO game on my own.

Guild Wars 2 was something else entirely. It was the first MMORPG where I didn’t have to worry that I needed to do at least 70% of the damage to a creature before the kill counted as mine. That’s probably one of the few reasons I don’t mind other players that much. I can do whatever I want without being limited or feeling cheated by other players (unless you trade or use the action house).

That’s just one of the many mechanics of why Guild Wars 2 spoiled me as an MMORPG player.

Shared Loot – Never again

There is one thing that I really don’t want in an MMO ever again and that’s shared loot. I want my own bag of shinies without having to compete for that rare item that I desperately need for a quest or gear.

I don’t know if Guild Wars 2 was the first, but I know it’s no longer the only one, and I’m glad.

Tagging monsters

What’s worse than having your kill taken away as a low level by that max level player that just waltzed through?

Guild Wars 2 lowered the percentage of damage needed to gain the experience of the kill and loot. Although I do think that your loot has better drop odds when you do more damage, the experience is for low levels more important.

People are more considered of others as well in the dynamic events. High level/high damage players only spam their primary skill so others have a chance to tag the event mob as well.

This is one of the things that I’m sure promote cooperative play instead of competitive play. There are different game modes for that.

Better Quests

Guild Wars 2 uses hearts instead of traditional quests. They are still quests, but they become active when you enter a certain area. You don’t have to go look for that one NPC. If you do want to talk to them, the heart on the mini map is an indicator where to find them. Upon completing the heart, the NPC turns into a vendor and sells items related to the heart. These hearts also count towards world completion.

I like the idea of hearts. I’ve done the world completion for Central Tyria (the core game) two times now and I’m working on a third. By doing the hearts, you’ll get a better sense of the world and what’s going on. Most hearts also have different ways to resolve them and many have dynamic events which can speed up the process of completion.

In other MMOs, I just find the NPC with a question mark above their head, see how many slimes I have to kill and where I can find them. I rarely bother to read why they need the slime goo or why the slimes are even there. Often these things aren’t even explained that well.

Quest difficulty

I’m a casual player. I don’t need to be the best, have the highest rated gear nor do I need to know that specific combo that makes me unbeatable. I like to stroll around, kill the mobs that get in my way, salvage my loot and move on.

I haven’t tried to do raids and I doubt I ever will. That’s why I’m glad that everything in the zones is doable for players like me.

The one exception to this might be the jumping puzzles. There are a few that are notoriously difficult and I suck at them. Especially the ones that require timing.

I’m glad there are players willing to portal others to the end of the puzzle and I always drop a donation when I make use of their portals. That’s the polite thing to do.

I don’t know there will be another MMO that will change me as a player as much as the Guild Wars franchise did. I’m hoping that one will come a long soon, and Riot teased me with that question if they should make an MMORPG (HELL YES!), but I’m not getting my hopes up.

Reintroducing 101 Goals, 1001 Days

It’s almost a year ago that I made the decision to do the 101 Goals, 1001 Days. It’s pretty much what it says: finish 101 goals in 1001 days. Why that many in that long a period? Because that allows you to take on longer projects. Adding smaller goals are boosts to keep you motivated. Some can even be rewards. One of my goals was to go to the Efteling, a popular theme park in the Netherlands. No one says goals can’t be fun.

I made a list of all my goals, but there are still a few that need updating. I’ll be posting about how I’m progressing the coming month. For one of the goals I need your help, but I’ll blog about that soon. I hope you can help me out. I think you’ll get to know me a little better from reading the 101 Goals, 1001 Days. There are already a few online, so don’t hesitate to check those out if you’re new here.

I’ll talk about game related topics as well. I’ve been playing Stardew Valley Multiplayer, Dragon Age Inquisition, Bayonetta 2, Journey, and a few smaller games.

Let’s make this Blaugust Reborn a great revival!

Participating in Blaugust

Years ago I took part in the Newbie Blogger Initiative where I made many blogging friends. This year I’m taking part in an event that sprang from the community event so long ago. Belghast, our gracious host for the coming month, combined Blaugust (an event to motivate bloggers to post every day) and the NBI in one: Blaugust Reborn. Mentors advise (newbie) bloggers about keeping your own blog, coming up with ideas and staying motivated. It’s a great way to expand your readership, meet other bloggers in a wide variety of topics and work on your blogging skills. I loved the community then and many are still present today. I can’t wait to read and get to know the new bloggers.

I signed up as a participant, since I’d feel wrong to be a mentor even though I’ve been blogging for years. Princess in a Castle hasn’t been active for the past years since I’ve been working on other projects, but that’s going to change. On my other site (Narratess) a post goes up every Friday, but blogging every day is something I haven’t done for a while. I want to blog more and getting back into that rhythm of writing a lot of posts is a great way to get started.

The topics for next month will be mostly focused on the 101 goals since I haven’t updated those since the beginning of the year and I have made progress. There are more inspiring TED Talks that I want to share and played more games. I’ll definitely write about those. I might talk about the interesting things I watched on Netflix. My brainstorm is nearly done, but some topics might be exchanged for topics the Blaugust community will tackle.

I hope to see you next month!

On A New Journey: Taking On 101 Goals In 1001 Days

I’ve decided to take on a new challenge, and not an easy one either. I’ve set 101 goals to complete in 1001 days, starting today. My deadline is May 9th 2020, which seems like for away, but I’m sure it’ll come faster than I want it to.

The goals are separated into five categories: activities, personal, professional, reading, and education. The goals are a variety of long and short term goals. Some of which can be done in a day, some that need more dedication. I’ve also picked some goals that I’ve previously done before, like ‘write a short story’, and some that I can combine, like ‘read 100 books’ and ‘read a biography’.

For some of my goals I need some input from you, my friends. Please give me your recommendations for books and movies. I need at least twenty of each. Riina has already been kind enough to recommend It by Stephen King, so that’s already on my list. You can leave the recommendations in the comments below or @ me on Twitter. Thank you!

This journey will also breathe some life into this site again. As you can see, I’ve updated it with a new theme and I will continue to update it with little things to make it look even better.

Check out the full list over here.

Two Games That I Wouldn’t Delete

…Or wouldn’t reinstall after I’ve formated my pc.

There are probably more games that I would reinstall after a full cleaning job, but these games are special. You’ll think I’m nuts for picking these games. And I know there’s a ton of you out there that wouldn’t pick these games if you could only pick two to have, always.

Ok. Are you ready? First game:

Diablo II: Lord of destruction

It’s one of the best action RPGs of the century. I love that game. I’ve played it so much that my grades went down. I met several great people via Diablo (also some not so great people, but yeah). This is pure nostalgia. I won’t play this all the time, just once in a half year or something.

It was the first game that I played online. I believe I was twelve years old and I was a girl on the internet. You know what happened. The same things that happen now, only then I didn’t knew how to handle it. Hell, I didn’t even know how to handle boys in general. I joined a Dutch clan, Voices of Chaos. They helped me get to max level, kill all the bosses and provided me with some awesome gear.

I found a Buriza (Buriza-do Kyanon) in a chest in Act 3 on Normal. Of course it wasn’t the greatest of Burizas, but it was good enough for my first bowazon. I’ve played my burizon so much. I really wish I still had her. I used her often to boost other people. Baal-runs were one of the things that I often did on my own. Just like Meph-runs (didn’t give me good loot often), or Diablo-runs (I just liked to kill the dog). I could keep going all night.

It was the first game that introduced me to lan parties. I found a bunch of nerds at my school who also played and we played together. We didn’t use voice chat, since I didn’t want to use a mic when my parents were reading the paper behind me. It was still a lot of fun. Playing together. Talking over chat. I really enjoyed playing together with friends.

What I didn’t like was people (often newbies) that didn’t listen to my advice. When I say, stay behind me, in a Baal-run I expect you to stay behind me. Don’t run in like an idiot, get killed, and then blame me for not saving your ass. That’s what pushed me away from playing with people I didn’t know.

Back then I still had to share the pc with my brother. The pc was in the kitchen and we both had to negotiate time. That also made the time you had more valuable. I ran like a crazy person to get what I wanted. It was often that as soon as I had my time on the pc that I only hunted for loot. No, this wasn’t good. The policy my parents gave me was. I learned to negotiate, I learned how to share, I learned to value something of limited resource. My sister, six years younger, didn’t have to share the pc with anyone besides my parents. My brother and I already pcs in our rooms when she was old enough to care enough about the pc. She didn’t learn these things.

Diablo II will always be my number one nostalgia game. My comfort game. The game I know by heart.

Game number two. This one will raise some hairs, I’m sure. Don’t judge until you’ve read my arguments about why I wouldn’t want to delete this game. I’m sure you’ll find you have the same reasons for not wanting to uninstall a game you like. Think about that. Not the game I picked. Read it. See my side of the story. Not just what the internet tells you.

League of Legends

Yes. There it is. It’s no secret that I play this game. It’s also not a secret that I don’t play it often. I won’t hide the fact that I, definitely, aren’t very good at this game. So why is it a game that I wouldn’t delete?

I started playing League of Legends a few years after it came it out. I think Irelia was one of the newest champions. Yes, that long ago. Sivir was the first champion I bought. She fitted with my playstyle in every way. I played mostly ranged classes in other games and my internet connection was fairly unreliable so, ranged was good. Melee champions would get me killed if I was standing in a team fight and lagged out. It didn’t help me, it didn’t help my team, it annoyed the hell out of me.

League of Legends - Sivir

I leveled my way up to thirty by playing against AI. Most people immediately jumped into normal games as soon as possible. I was still suffering from the annoyance that people didn’t cooperated with me. Vs AI was easy enough to win, even when there was no team play at all. As Sivir I was the AD Carry and was supposed to do the most damage. Sivir is a great pusher. Back then the meta was that the AD carry was alone on top. She could far easily and if you had enough range and/or skill, it was easy to win of the bot. These bots only laned, no roaming. You were sure there wasn’t going to be a gank, ever.

So when my friends invited me to play normals with them, I felt weak. I knew my champion and I knew the items. But people play very differently from bots. One of my friends said that people are more predictable than bots. Mostly because they follow a meta, they follow the play of someone else. Anticipation is one of the skills that you need for League of Legends, and that was something I severely lacked.

I didn’t like normals as AD Carry. There was too much responsibility on my shoulders and I thought I was one of the weakest people on the team. So I switched roles to support, with Sona as main. She was perfect. Face roll Sona. She did damage, she healed, she had utility. What’s not to like about her. I was still mic-less, while the others were on TeamSpeak. I was the silent one. Just like Sona.

Sona was a reflection of me, while Sivir was the image of who I wanted to be. Bad ass, confident, deadly and beautiful. These two are still the characters that I can relate to the best. In most rpgs you get to pick your own character. You can customize them and your choices will affect their development. League of Legends isn’t an RPG, but its characters were more relatable for me than most of the characters I created in RPGs.

League of Legends - DJ Sona

When I started to play Sona for my team, I became known as a deadly Sona. I wasn’t the one who let the low HP enemy escape. I was the Sona who sought out the kills. I built ability power next to the normal utility items for support. Once I played AD Sona and kicked more ass than the AD Carry. We had fun. That’s the kind of thing you can do in Normals, not in ranked.

I refused to play ranked. I don’t have a competitive bone in my body. I’m the one that avoids conflict rather than look for it. I didn’t care much if we won or lost. I still don’t. I was playing for fun. What’s the most fun game mode in LoL? ARAM. All random, all mid. You have no idea what you’re going to play. You just have to make the best of it. To this date, it’s still the only game mode that I play, especially when I’m playing solo. It’s quick, it’s fun, it’s unpredictable. It’s still capable of raising my adrenaline level.

Over the years the game has changed a lot. Not only does it have a lot more champions, items changed, the map changed, the meta changed. There was something else that changed as well. Something that you don’t see in-game. Not immediately at least. The universe of the game changed. Riot Games has spend a lot of time, money and manpower in creating a believable universe. This includes lore stories, short animation videos, subdomains for certain events, music videos, mobile games, merchandise.

The foundation for this universe is getting stronger every month with new releases of non-game content. I applaud Riot Games for this. Thank you so much for making League of Legends so much more than a battle arena. I’m writing this blog while listening to the songs they have created. The Warsongs, Pentakill’s album and the first volume of League of Legends music. I’ve watched the documentary Frequency a few times and I often sing along with them.

Once I dreamed about a game. It had five points, all over the map, with one in the middle. There was a windmill, and I was chasing my enemies with Tristana through the bushes. Now, this wasn’t not the map of Summoner’s Rift. I had to kill the enemy team and try to capture the points. Purple auras lit up around the giant circles in the ground. Jarvan then jumped me and killed me. This was something I dreamed before the game mode of Dominion was announced, which was the next day. Is it a sign? Probably not. But it’s awesome. I was so invested with League of Legends that I regularly dreamed about it.

The reasons why I can’t delete the game is this. I can relate to the character in deeper way than I can with other characters. Why? I can’t really say. It’s a gut feeling. I have a connection with this game that I can’t explain. It’s in my mind and I can’t forget it. It’s a game that I love and which doesn’t betray me. I know what I can expect when I play LoL. I love the universe of League of Legends. I love how Riot Games is expanding it. I want to support them. I’m loyal to them. They may not know me and that’s ok. I know my support will reach them (monetary or otherwise).

Ok, so hate me now. I won’t burn down a game based on its community. Of course there are moments when I curse my teammates for playing a sucky game. Then again, I don’t always play the best games myself. Especially when I haven’t been playing for awhile. There will always be people on the internet who aren’t nice, who are mean, who are angry, who blame others for their mistakes, who blame you for the mistakes you make, even when you make up for it later. Those people will always be there. Even in real life. I just choose not to let them get to me. They don’t define the game which I’m playing. I choose to see the positive side.

Guild Wars 2 - The Clock Tower

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Yes, I know I’m a day early, but I know people usually have plans on the 31st and it’s a saturday. I wrote a small Halloween story with some of my characters appearing. Half of them you’ve already met in other stories, a few you haven’t, yet. I do have stories about them, but I really want to finish young Miira’s story line right now.

Another note on writing. Some of you have already seen me mentioning it on Twitter. I’ll be taking part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year. It’s a global event for anyone who wants to sit down and write a novel. The goal is to write 50.000 words in the 30 days of November. And that’s what I hope to do. Starting this sunday I’ll be writing 1667 words a day. Since I still work full time and have to spend two hours a day commuting, I probably won’t have much time to work on my fanfics.

Miira and her warband will be back the 4th of December, ready to kick butt. Get ready to meet Tarakona Kohimuhimu and Kaibush Treewood (yes, my names are crazy) and enjoy the story!

 Read more

Character Creation Bahmi Female – Rift

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Guild Wars 2 Fiction

Miira Lightbringer:
Fried Moa Steak
Quiet Before the Storm

Young Miira:
Tail Tugging Part 1
A Promise Made Part 2
Night Falls Part 3
Grawling Preparations Part 4
Badazar Incarnated Part 5
Graduation Part 6 - Final

Savyrius Belain:
We Meet Again...

Naella Ysangwan:
Dogs and Ogres

The Scarred King by Rose Foreman & Josh Foreman

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