Thursday, June 21, 2012

Untag Me

I've been meaning to post a Lucy update. It's hard to believe we've had her for almost a year - time has just flown by. Gone is the tiny, grey fluffball who snuggled in my lap for hours *sniff*. But now we have a sweet, loving if slightly imperious little cat who is the apple of our eyes.

She still loves her blue bag and I'll often find this little head peering out at me. She's such a pretty little thing - it's so hard to take a bad photo of her. Or so I thought.

Lucy and her bag

The other day, while I was talking to the boy on the phone, he mentioned that Lucy was sunning herself in a sunbeam. "Take a photo", I asked. Alas, I forgot about his secret super power - taking the worst photos ever.

I don't know he does it but somehow a camera in his hands is akin to a deadly weapon. Lest you think I exaggerate, I present to you...

Cat sunning herself in a sunbeam.

Damn Paparazzi

Yup.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Table" For Two

As much as I love living in Oregon, there's only a small window for what you would call sunny, summery days. The rest of the time, it's fairly grey, overcast and wet. Which we really don't mind (usually).

But when we're gifted with one of those perfect weekends - a warm, sunny day with nothing but blue skies - you HAVE to take advantage of them.

So, we went on our favorite hike to Eagle Creek. Found a clearing with a smallish stream and sat down to eat the Best. Sandwich. Ever.

Lunch at Eagle Creek

I wish I had brought some Lego minifigures with me.

Eagle Creek

Then again, there are some things even Lego can't improve on.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Brick Separators

The unlimited playability is perhaps one of the best things about Lego. Build something, take it apart, build something different and so on. Sometimes, though, the disassembling process can be a bit of a pain.

Worst case scenario: two plates stuck together. I used to do one of two things as a kid:

1. Teeth. I know, I cringe just thinking about this. This invariably left teeth marks all over the bricks and probably didn't do wonders for tooth enamel.

2. Just left it.

Later on, I discovered brick separators which saved a lot of wear and tear on my fingers but it wasn't until last year that I figured out their full potential. And when I did, a chorus of Angels sang out.

There are two styles of separators. The green one is an older design and the orange ones were introduced last year. You'll find the orange separators included with most of the larger sets. Right off the bat, we were excited about the new design - see that little post? Awesome inclusion! You'll see why.



Probably one of the hardest things to separate are two same sized plates. I have broken many a nail on these and even resorted to using a razor blade to try to pry the plates apart. But with brick separators, it's stupidly easy.

Just put one separator on the bottom and the other on top. And then gently press down on the top separator.



They come apart with absolutely no resistance. Effortless. And no teeth marks!



And remember that post on the orange separator? A lot Lego sets have technic parts. It was always a pain trying to pry the little pins out. Sometimes I'd use a chopstick.



Not anymore - just push the post through...



And out pops the pin.



If there is anyone who plays with Lego in your house, you need at least 2 of these. Best Lego accessory ever.

Monday, June 11, 2012

"Where Does She Get Those Wonderful Toys?" Part 2

In the first part of this series, I discussed some of my tips for buying Lego at a discount. Due to popular demand, I'm expanding this a bit more to cover non-traditional sources and what to avoid.

6. Craigslist. If you're looking for bulk lego or cheaper, used sets, Craigslist can be a potential goldmine. The average price for a bulk lot is $4/lb (that's on the low end for non-Star Wars sets) to $7/lb (with manuals, Star Wars and minifigures). I absolutely advise you to thoroughly wash anything you buy. If you don't have the time to handwash, try the dishwasher with a garment bag. Just remember to set the machine on a low/no heat dry setting and do not put anything with stickers or prints in the dishwasher.

(p.s. I've noticed a trend where people are using Craigslist as an eBay replacement. Meaning they're trying to get top dollar and will pit you against someone else. I won't play this game.)

7. eBay. Ooh, there's a listing for a newly released set for over 30% off the retail price! Too good to be true? Probably. There's been a significant increase in "drop-ship" scams where sellers buy Lego direct from Lego.com with stolen credit cards and then ship to your address. If the set that you ordered looks like it came directly from Lego, contact the seller and then eBay, PayPal and Lego to make sure it's a legitimate sale. Otherwise, if it is fraud, Lego.com will flag and blacklist your address in the future.

8. Black Friday. A given. But you'll have to brave the crowds, risk stores being out of stock etc. The Lego stores also have their own Black Friday sales with scratch cards giving you anywhere from 10-50% off your total purchase. Definitely follow Toys N Bricks prior to Black Friday - the best sales and deals will be announced there.

9. Garage Sales. A lot of fellow Lego collectors swear by garage sales. Just go early. Which is why I haven't been to one - I like to sleep in on the weekends! :)

10. Bricklink. Just missing a few pieces to complete a set? Picture an eBay (with only Buy it Now prices) that just sells Lego. The user interface is a little archaic but there are a lot of hard to find pieces and sets. Things to watch out for: minimum purchase requirements differ per store and always read the feedback (just like eBay).

Okay, now kick back and enjoy BBQ season with some Beertroopers.

BBQ Season