Thursday, October 20, 2016

Verizon Training Center Pokestop

Earlier this year, I took this photo on a lunchtime walk at work. I found it odd that there would be three old-style phone booths in the middle of a field as if to summon an American version of Doctor Who. It looked like some kind of portal. Except with no telephones inside. Recently, an episode of This American Life chronicled families flocking to a phone booth in Japan in attempt to contact lost loved ones from the 2011 tsunami. Clearly, phone booths carry some kind of magic.

A photo posted by Angela T (@moonfever0) on

This summer, with the advent of Pokemon Go (yes I am that kind of nerd), I learned that these phone booths were part of the Verizon Training Center. According to the Pokestop description, it's where linesmen learn their craft.

Wow, great spin from the Pokestop!

Aha, that's why there are so many telephone poles that seemingly go nowhere!

Around the back of the training building, you can see a dummy house to practice wiring to.

There are short poles to practice on the ground before moving up to the tall ones.

And once I even got to see training on one of the tall poles.

So cool to learn about the Verizon Training Center from a Pokestop and explore it! (Okay, so maybe this is one of those "dangerous" areas that the game warns not to enter, but I hardly ever see workers outside and stayed clear of the cherry picker!).

Friday, September 23, 2016

Be Off to King Richard's Faire!

For years, we've (I've) been trying to go to King Richard's Faire in Carver, MA, without success. From Dova's broken foot last year, compounded by mononucleosis, plus Adam's soccer and marching band schedules, and (gasp!) overall lack of enthusiasm, it's been nearly impossible for our family to get there over the years. This year we finally frolicked in the colorful world of knights, elves, dragons and saucy wenches.

First stop were the SKY Chairs. At $89.95 they seem quite reasonable until you factor in the construction of a shaded porch to your house. If you have a porch or ample indoor swing space, get one, they are super comfy!

Even skeptical Adam enjoyed them (note cute girlfriend behind).

Don't feed the dragon! But he will pet your bun (in your hair).

Next stop was Daniel, Duke of Danger. Yes, Mr. "Inconceivable" is  balanced upside down on his head while playing "Ode to Joy" on two whistles.

Not to mention juggling fire and spinning plates on top of a ladder. I have enough trouble with a step ladder with four legs, let alone two!

Some of the shows were PG-13, so I sent Adam to watch the Torture Show without Dova. Little did I know that it involved fish hooks in the eyes! Adam, like myself, is too squeamish for such acts. I couldn't bear to watch Ryan Stock and AmberLynn on America's Got Talent this year, but Dova was glued to the TV, eyes wide open, while Ryan hung from a hook through his nose. She was sorry she missed seeing a nail hammered into a face live. Eek!

Another fun show we saw was Squire of the Wire. For his finale, he walked a tightrope in high heels! Not to spoil your visit, here's a one second time-lapse sneak peek.


Dova marveled at the "unsafeness" of all the carnival games. Usually throwing darts at balloons are the most dangerous thing at a regular fair. She wanted to throw something dangerous, so I let her choose between axes, knives and ninja stars. She choose axes of course! When do you get a chance to throw axes? This one almost stuck onto the board.

Dova Axes

There were merchants galore, many set up in the permanent buildings just for this fair nestled in the woods of Carver, MA. There were so many colorful and beautiful crafts to choose from!

We bought a double spoon holder from Pottery by Sutter (also see mugs and goblets above). The glazing is gorgeous! Doug chatted with Sutter and learned that he brought his ceramics to this fair from Wisconsin every year. That's a lot of inventory to ship! He said that the first time he came to King Richard's Faire years ago, he and his mom never sold so much in one show before. Clearly well deserved, buy it up, people!

The only other item we purchased was this head band for Dova, which can can be worn as a traditional floral headband or a bun decoration as she preferred.

Adam was fascinated by the swords forged by blacksmiths, but that was clearly out of our budget! The crowds were teeming with Cosplay so you never knew who worked for the Faire or not. There was plenty of people watching to be had, including chain mail and medieval corsets. I learned from Doug that the term cosplay comes from "costume play". I've heard the term before, but never knew where it came from, duh!

Here's the obligatory selfie where I'm shocked to see that Dova is almost as tall as I am. When did that happen?

There were so many shows we couldn't possibly see them all in one day. But I wasn't going to miss the jousting! Alas, there is no real death in "Joust to the Death" but the stage play was still fantastic.

Now, the real question is, how much does all this fun really cost? Before going, I researched it and found lots of complaints that the fair was mostly cash only (especially food), with some merchants accepting Master Card and Lady Visa (love the renaissance take!). I read that food was expensive and all the performers begged for tips. Our budget was tight, but we made the most of it. If you're lucky enough to snag Groupon tickets before season, that will help defray costs. We were grateful to obtain promotional tickets which didn't require writing this glowing review.

About the food. I read that no outside food or beverages were allowed. At Six Flags where you cannot bring outside food or beverages, they still allow water bottles, so I decided to try it here. At the entrance we were told that we couldn't bring in water bottles, so I brought them back to the car. So cha-ching the food bill went up. Food must be purchased with $1 food tickets in $5 dollar increments. So whatever you think you will eat, you will have to round up to the nearest $5 and then get something that you probably didn't need to use the tickets up. I asked the food ticket attendant what she would recommend for a party of five and she suggested $80. Wow! We went for $60 in food tickets to start. Granted, we shared drinks and meals and tried to get the cheapest food in the realm, but I think we could've managed with less. Here's how the $60 was spent (luckily spreadsheeted as soon as I got home):
  1. $6 for bacon mac 'n cheese (small pie tin, but tasty)
  2. $8 for shepherd's pie (another small pie tin, pretty good)
  3. $8 for pizza (not recommended - too doughy)
  4. $12 for chicken fingers and fries (Adam shared with his girlfriend, I didn't actually see it)
  5. $5 for soda (just a big paper cup - rip off!)
  6. $4 for water (20 oz, Dasani - another pricey drink)
  7. $4 for kettle corn (humongous bag that you will end up taking home)
  8. $4 for slushie (small, probably around 12 oz)
  9. $5 for root beer float (Dova loved this, made with soft serve ice cream)
  10. $4 for elephant ear pastry (using up tickets, but tasty)
Next time, I would start with less tickets to spare the extra stuff after the drinks and maybe go for the pricier $12 turkey legs which smelled delicious. I also wanted to try the $6 loaded baked potato (pud-da-doe or something like that), but it was "5 more minutes" for about 15 minutes and I gave up. Also, anything alcoholic started at $10, so out of the question for us.

Here's what we spent on other games and goods at the Faire:
  1. $15 for Dova's head band
  2. $34 (incl tax) for the pottery (needed Lady Visa for this one)
  3. $4 for performer tips (they didn't beg that badly)
  4. $4 for throwing axes
  5. $3 for sledgehammer strength test (Dova didn't ring the bell on top)
  6. $1 for the mug slide (I threw it too hard, but it stayed on the slide at least)
Keep in mind that King Richard's Faire is only around for two months on weekends in September and October. It is permanently located in a enchanted forest with buildings and landscape to maintain. Considering the overhead, all the prices need to be inflated, it doesn't happen by magic!

Next time, I would definitely try the SKY chair swing ride, powered solely by burly renaissance men. It was $4 per person ($20 for all of us) and we were running out of cash. Now where can you find a human powered ride like this!? (video by nimbus nico)

Disclaimer: I received admission tickets courtesy of Dennehy PR, but no blog post was required. We really did have a blast!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

American Girl Dolls Need to Eat Too!

Dova pours tea

A few years ago, when Dova was still in her American Girl Doll phase (or craze), I purchased these holidays gifts for her to encourage "creative play".

4M Paint Your Own Mini Tea Set

American Girl Crafts Doll Size Plates Cups And Placemats

Of course, I was completely remiss because how can you use a tea set and party plates without proper play food? You can't just "imagine" food like we did as kids. We had already given away our beloved set of wooden sandwiches from when the kids were little.

Melissa & Doug Wooden Sandwich-Making Set

Even if we still had it, Dova said it would be too big anyway. What did I know? You must only use correctly scaled (1:3 for AG dolls, which would make the girls 4'6" in real life), age-appropriate play food. Creative play is not about creatively using the resources you already have, it's about buying more and more stuff! Geesh!

At first, Dova was obsessed with this set of doll food from Target that one of her friends had:

At the time, you couldn't order it online, and I searched in the store to no avail. She was very unhappy!

Have I mentioned that Dova is extremely demanding and difficult? This was back when she only had an iPod Touch which I thought would provide a "convenient" way to communicate. It mostly provides a convenient way for her to YELL AT ME IN ALL CAPS.

Since we couldn't purchase the cheap plastic food, I went to Etsy and eventually to Katie's Craftations for beautifully hand crafted food! We spent a bit more money, but ended up with delicious-looking, long-lasting one of a kind items.

How can you resist this hot dog which fits perfectly in Ivy's hand?

Ivy and hot dog
Hot dog

Or these incredible drinks? I bet you want a pink lemonade or a slushie now!

Pink lemonade and slushie

Here's a proper brunch for dolls.

Brunch for dolls

Don't try to eat the donut yourself!

Chocolate sprinkle donut
Dova donut

Dova did paint the tea set. Here it is with some healthier fruit snacks.

Tea set

Of course all this "proper" play is no fun. This photo sessions soon devolved into an eye cup for Ivy, or "I CUP", which when spelling out the letters is, "I see you pee".

Ivy eye cup

This soon turned into real ROFL, rolling on the floor laughing!

Dova and dolls on the floor

The days of doll tea parties have gone by the wayside, but the food still shows up in unexpected places. Here's a recent Video Star video, "I Heart Hand Signs" where the banana makes an entrance.

If you want fantastic doll food, head over to Katie's Craftations! This post was not sponsored in any way, but feel free to purchase the other items through the Amazon affiliate links :).

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