Tuesday, September 23, 2014

twenty three: living like locals

Fun fact, my bachelor's degree is in Hospitality and Tourism Management and my nickname is Guidebook Gail. I love touring and visiting different towns and cities so much so that when friends came to visit my area I offered them my house, left for the weekend and wrote out a 2 page list of recommendations. (I'd do the same for you.) 

Today's Blogtember challenge: A guide to your city! Share some of the hot-spots and hidden gems of where you live.

My first tip: Come in the summer! My town is a summer tourist destination and pretty much closes down between October and May. In the off season you can bike, run or drive for miles without ever passing another person.

If you come to visit you must...

Climb the Sand Dunes
Whether by foot, on all fours (it is HARD!), by 4 wheeler, jeep or in a dune buggy, the dunes are incredible and so unique. 

Visit the Lighthouse and Beach 
It's right on Lake Michigan and you can even climb to the top, the views are spectacular! In the winter the lake freezes over and you can climb on the glacier structures, it's such a cool feeling. I've witnessed a proposal and wedding on this beach along with countless of breathtaking sunsets.

Eat Some Local Produce
If it's spring you better believe we're eating some deep-fried asparagus because you'd be in the asparagus capital of Michigan! If you're really lucky we could go to the Asparagus parade. We love stopping by all the road side stands to get fresh peaches, cherries, asparagus, blueberries and other goodies in summer and fall.

I could go on about some hidden local foodie spots with apple turnovers, blueberry crisp, juicy burgers and the best ice cream around but what really makes my town so special is the outdoors. By bike, foot, snowshoe, jeep or cross country skis we would have fun exploring. 

Have you ever visited West Michigan? If not, you should. You will love it.  

Brave Love Blog

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Monday, September 22, 2014

twenty two: my blogroll

About 2 years ago I stumbled upon the blogging world and was fascinated to find so many people sharing their ideas, gifts and lives with the world. And now here I am, one of them! 

Today's Blogtember Prompt: Introduce us to 5 blogs you read on the regular, and tell us why!

My Real Life Friends
Echoes of My Heart
Katie has been a mentor and friend since my early high school days. I am privleged to be on her encouragement team as she follows God's call and pursues her writing and speaking. She inspires me to live genuinely, think deeply and put it all on the line. I've also guest posted for her Psalms and Isaiah 40 series. 

Alyssa Wagner Photo
Alyssa has been a friend since our pre-teen days, back when we called each other by Veggie Tales nicknames! We went to college together, I stood in her wedding and she's one of my very dearest friends. She's an incredibly talented photographer and I never miss one of her posts because of the sheer beauty. She inspires me to laugh, go adventure, capture the little moments and enjoy great things. Lyss was my personal attendant at our wedding and she blogged a few of the images she snagged along the way. She's also responsible for my lovely profile pic to your left. 

One of my favorite wedding photos captured by the talented Alyssa Wagner.

Good Eats
If you're looking for healthy, easy and delicious recipes this website is great! I've made over 30 recipes and they have legitimately all been good. 

A Holy Experience- Ann Voskamp is a unique and beautiful writer, I loved her book, One Thousand Gifts and the daily inspiration she brings. 

Naptime Diaries- This was one of the very first blogs I started reading regularly and I admire Jess Connolly's intentional approach to goal setting, health and life. 

She Reads Truth- In 2012 a tweet sent me to the website of She Reads Truth and I started following the daily blog with devotions and Bible readings. It was instrumental in helping me to form a daily pattern of being in God's word. I'm not currently following their studies but if you're looking for something to get you in God's word I highly recommend this resource, they even have an app, now! 

Are you a blog reader? I'd love to know if you enjoy any of my recommendations! 
Brave Love Blog

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

twenty one: fall loves

About 2 weeks ago I said to one of my interns, today I am ready for fall to start. I'll pack away my shorts and smile rather than cringe when I see pumpkins. The next day the temperature literally dropped 30 degrees and it started raining. I'm glad I was mentally prepared!

Like so many others, I love fall. It's my favorite season so answering the blogtember challenge question of, "What do you love most about this season?" is pretty easy. 

Long walks through the color-changing forest.
Flannels and scarves.
Pumpkin all the things. (Except pumpkin pie, don't love that one.) 
Slower days with lingering rays of sunshine. 

And of course... pumpkin spice lattes. 
During the 2 years I was a Starbucks barista, I had a daily PSL. Now that I live 45 minutes from the 'bucks I make them on my home espresso machine and I've nearly perfected the art. The best part is that when all the whipped cream topping disappears I can just add a new layer. 

This fall I'm really excited because we have quite a few trips, traditions and special events planned. I love the anticipation of watching the dates approach on the calendar. 

From top left, clockwise: 
Weekend in Cadillac, Michigan with my sister, her boyfriend and my parents exploring, biking and hot tubing. It was a great way to welcome the fall season!

Annual girl's weekend getaway with my college friends!

Family thanksgiving trip to North Carolina to visit my husband's sister, grandparents and other family. I've never been and heard that the park where they filmed Hunger Games is nearby... Any tips for North Carolina? (image)

3rd anniversary getaway to the Upper Peninsula with my husband to see Pictured Rocks, Tahquahmenon Falls and eat some pasties! We'll be staying right on Lake Superior! (image)

After listing that all out I'm even more excited! In fact, I think it's time for another homemade pumpkin spice latte to cap off this rainy, lazy Sunday afternoon. I hope you're loving autumn!

Brave Love Blog

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

twenty: day in the life

My life as a camp director is quite cyclical. Summer camp is all consuming from 7am to 10pm but filled with lots of activity, laughter and people. Winter is slow with bursts of weekend activity and the fall and spring lie somewhere in between. Here's a somewhat typical fall day to answer the blogtember challenge,

Sept 20th: Share a day in the life. Pictures, timelines, stats, however you like.

My alarm typically goes off between 7-7:30 but my fingers usually find the snooze button 2-3... or more... times. I really like the mornings when it's on my terms but when I have to rush to get ready it's not my favorite. Lately I've been trying to exercise or do my daily Bible reading in the morning, even though it's hard to get out of bed I always feel better if I do something. I shower pretty much every morning, this curly hair kind of requires it if I don't want to look mop-like and I like listening to podcasts while I get ready. After breakfast I head out on my "daily commute" a quick walk or bike ride through the wooded trails from my house to my office, usually with coffee in hand. I'm an expert at simultaneous biking and coffee balancing.

Once I get to my office I flip my daily quote calendar, say good morning to the 4 interns I supervise and turn on my computer and coffee warmer. At this time of year we're preparing for 3 women's retreats weekends so I'm planning activities, schedules, decorations, communicating with speakers and bands, as well as preparing for winter youth retreats, mens retreats and wrapping up summer details. While some days are pretty normal at my desk there are many other "less normal days" where I get to live the camp life doing things like making giant chandeliers, interviewing for a tv spot, driving jeeps on the sand dunes, strutting around in giant underwear, smashing cars, investing in the lives of college students, wearing cow costumes, working the top of the zipline and buying hundreds of dollars worth of chocolate. Those are good days :)

In the busy times of year we eat at the camp dining hall a lot but if there aren't meals we head home around 5-5:30 and make dinner. If it's a Monday we're playing volleyball, Tuesdays I lead Bible study at our house and every other Thursday we have our church small group. We also like to take advantage of the beautiful area we live in and watch the sunset on the sand dunes, bike to Lake Michigan or go canoeing when we get the chance. Right now a lot of our evenings end with an episode of Chuck on Netflix.

Overall, I'd say it's a pretty good life.

Brave Love Blog
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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

nine: I am a D

You know those mock elections they have in high school? They're just for fun and students vote on 'Best Eyes', 'Most Likely To Succeed', 'Cutest Couple', things like that.

Well I was voted, 'Most Enthusiastic'. Does that give you a hint as to my personality type?

And just for fun here's a picture of me at junior prom. That dress made me feel like Belle from Beauty and the Beast because it was yellow and swirled.

I'm an extroverted, task driven, loud, relational person. I haven't done a lot with Meyers Briggs (but the test that Bailey recommended said ESFJ or ESFP) but I do work a lot with the DISC model. The camp I work at uses it with all of our staff and teaches it to groups as part of our leadership training. Understanding yourself leads you to a better awareness of how to flex to work with and understand others.

So on the DISC model I'm a D/I and those are really close but my C/S tendencies are quite low. That means I'm not very analytic, introverted, methodical or people-pleasing.

Ironically my husband and I chart exactly opposite. In our case the whole "opposites attract" is certainly true! Plus, he can reach things on the top shelf, another way we are opposite.

Every time I teach the DISC model I use the analogy of a geode rock, from the outside it's just a rock but on the inside it's colorful, beautiful and surprising. Our personalities are like a geode in that on the inside we're all unique and have thoughts, ideas and feelings that you can't see. Our behavioral styles (the labels like DISC or ESFP) just help us understand each other better, they don't define us. They also don't excuse our actions. Acting like a jerk and bulldozing a team and then saying well I'm just a "D" or a driver doesn't make it ok, constantly interrupting and joking at inappropriate times and then excusing it because you are an "I" doesn't make that acceptable behavior. We're each responsible for our actions, no matter our styles.

In the last 5 years it's been interesting to see how I've balanced a little more, needing introverted alone time, recognizing the hurt in people, slowing down to take time. Maturity all around is just a good thing.

Do you relate to any of my style tendencies? Are there any style excuses you are hiding behind? Today might be a great day to flex a little! Either way, you're perfect because you were created to be uniquely you by a creator who loves you desperately. If that's confusing to you contact me, I'd love to tell you more.

Brave Love Blog
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Monday, September 8, 2014

eight: my jams!

Every few months I identify a few new songs as "my jams" and my interns and summer staff roll their eyes at me. Apparently I'm not cool enough to get away with that kind of language. Or maybe no one gets away with it? Either way, I'mt not stopping.

I love pandora at work (favorite stations are Rend Collective and All Sons and Daughters) but recently got a spotify premium membership so I could listen to it while running so that's pretty awesome. It's pretty difficult to narrow down my favorite anythings so here are some things I enjoy for a myriad of reasons.

To get you pumped... 
Roar by Katy Perry
Brave by Sara Bareilles
(I see a girl power theme in here...)

When you want to pretend you are a lot more tough than you really are...
Joyful Noise by Lecrae (this one gets the most eye rolling) 
Ooh, Ahh by Grits and Toby Mac

For when you just need to dance...
Shake It Off by Taylor Swift
Happy by Pharrell Williams

For worship...
Christ Be All Around Us by All Sons & Daughters
Restless by Audrey Assad
Cornerstone by Hillsong

When things are hard and I need reminders...
Have Your Way by Britt Nicole
Who You Are by JJ Heller
You Are For Me by Kari Jobe

On a rainy day...
The Civil Wars (fun fact, Joy is a camp kid like me!) 

When I'm feeling lovey dovey...
(all used in our wedding coincidentally) 
Inevitable by Anberlin
Dancing In The Minefields by Andrew Peterson
Something In The Water by Brooke Fraser

What are you listening to? I am always in the market for something new! What category did I miss?

Brave Love Blog
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Sunday, September 7, 2014

seven: what I read {blogtember edition}

Remember when I missed day 5 about passion? I get nerdily passionate about books, reading and reading lists. As evidence see this and this and yesterday, I'm pretty sure I talked about books yesterday.

As a middle schooler I remember feeling like I needed to move and go outside but I didn't want to stop reading so I rollerbladed in circles around a basketball court while reading. Impressive, I know.

Here's what my nose has been into lately, the ones that I would recommend at least. For more check out my goodreads list. In 2014 I've read 46 books, I better get serious if I'm going to beat last year's 103!

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
The Daily Chronological Bible (just finished Ezekiel and Daniel, Job is up next!)

Christian Living --- The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst
I read this in one day on my personal retreat and filled about 10 pages of notes and journaling. I highly recommend it, I had a "lightbulb" moment about living with a fixed vs. growth mindset and have made some really healthy changes as a result.

Fiction --- The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin 
For a book lover this was so fun. It's about a bookseller of a small independent bookstore on an island. Doesn't that sound dreamy?

Fiction --- A Week In Winter by Maeve Binchy 
A perfect vacation read, a story you can get wrapped up in but not too fluffy. Pretty sure I need a trip to Ireland after reading this one!

Non Fiction --- Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg 
While I didn't agree with everything in here I found this a really fascinating non-fiction read about women in the workforce. I'm the only female on my immediate team and while I work with a great group of respectful and caring men there were definitely some tips that I picked up from her. If you read on the Kindle the last 30% is references and notes so it's a lot shorter than you think!

Restless by Jennie Allen 
The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith 
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

Cold Tangerines, Bittersweet, Bread & Wine all by Shauna Niequist (she's my favorite)
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
 Harry Potter, Nancy Drew, Babysitters Club, Chronicles of Narnia (all childhood favorites I'd happily read again)

I'm excited to see what everyone else in the #blogtemberchallenge is reading! Have you read any of my books? What else should I add to my list?
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Brave Love Blog

Saturday, September 6, 2014

six: currently

Happy Saturday! I'm sitting on my front porch with my feet up sipping a diet coke through a straw from my mason jar cup and soaking up these last few summer rays. Here are a few other things I'm up to currently...

not... apologizing for missing yesterday. I figure if I hit 2/3 of the #blogtember challenge I'm doing well!

celebrating...  I ran my first ever 5k today! For a girl who couldn't even run 1 minute a year ago I'm feeling pretty proud and impressed with what this body can do. It was a color run and my sweet husband 'jogged' along with my short, slow legs and we had a ton of fun. I still can't get the color out of my bellybutton!

watching... Netflix! My current shows are Parks and Rec, Chuck and 19 Kids and Counting.

listening... to podcasts galore! The Relevant Magazine podcast is my very favorite and I'm also currently checking out Around the Table, Catalyst, and Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me. Are you a podcaster?

reading... Ezekiel & Daniel in my chronological Bible. I may not have blogged it but the Word In, Word Out project is still going. This afternoon as a part of my race recovery I treated myself to hours of uninterrupted hammock time and read, "The Violets of March" by Sarah Jio in one afternoon.

cooking... for the first time in months! Since my husband and I both work full-time at a camp we've been eating in the dining hall since May. I went to the grocery store yesterday and whoa, overwhelming! I barely remember what to make so grilled chicken tonight it'll be. I'm using this recipe.

starting... to lead my first official Bible study! I've invited all the camp ladies and our new interns to a weekly study at my house. We're going to do, "Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed". Has anyone ever done it? I'm a little nervous but praying that God will use this to speak into our lives and build our community.

creating... cards to send off in the mail and a lace and burlap table runner just in time for fall. I also picked up 4 cans of spray paint to put a little life back into some of our old yard furniture just in time for a bonfire we're hosting tonight. Aren't they cheery looking?

What are you up to currently? 
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Brave Love Blog

Thursday, September 4, 2014

four: fashion

Fashion, you say? Well just let me provide a link leading you to all my perfectly styled outfits... not! Ok, so I'm not a fashionista and I wear more chacos than high heels but isn't part of fashion having your own style and just rocking it?

That being said, for day four of the #blogtemberchallenge the question is...

Sept 4th: Pick a fashion trend you love and a fashion trend you hate. Win us over!

I am currently loving all the plaid I'm seeing in so many different pieces than just shirts. I don't own a lot of plaid but on my first date with my husband we went to a Fleet Farm looking for the perfect plaid shirt. That's northern Minnesota for you! 

This winter I'm running 6 youth retreat weekends and the theme is based on lumberjacks so you better believe I'm scouring the stores, I'm going to need at least 3 plaid outfits! All in a days work. 

If this scarf wasn't sold out I'd definitely be ordering it today. Hello, plaid and a scarf? This just screams give me a pair of boots and a pumpkin spice latte. 
As for trends I'm not so excited about I'll just say printed leggings as pants, crop tops and overalls. 

Are you on the plaid bandwagon? Plaid hater? Could care less?

Brave Love Blog
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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

three: grown up dreams

Alternatively you could title this, "My Ode To The Library." 

Today's #blogtemberchallenge is... 

Sept 3rd: "When I grow up I want to be...." Feel free to answer as your 5-year-old self or as of now.

When it came time for pre-school I went to the library. Once a week we gathered around our small wooden tables while our parents browsed through the stacks and played with other kids, made crafts, and drew pictures in shaving cream. (In hindsight that one doesn't really fit, I'm not sure what those crazy library people were thinking.) Every week we ended with the librarian reading stories out loud. And that's when 5-year old Abby knew, someday she wanted to be a librarian.

I love the library. I really do. I always have. I have no problem being silent and I love the hush and solemness  found within the tall and dusty shelves. The idea of helping someone find their next great read gets me excited as does cracking open the pages of a book I've never read.

Funny library story, (who has funny library stories? #booknerd) when I moved to my current home as an adult I went to the library right away to get a card and was told that until I would need to be on "library probation" for a month until I could prove I was responsible to return books. The only bad part was that as a part of my probation I could only check out 3 books at a time. For a 5 book regular I could barely stand the restrictiveness. Thankfully I was found worthy and the library and I have reconciled.

I don't work at the library now and maybe I never will but maybe someday that'll be my retirement job and you'll find me leading story time, but probably not letting 4 year-olds play in shaving cream.

The love of reading probably won't ever leave me. In 2013 I read 103 books! In this post I listed some of my favorites. Want to see what I'm currently reading? Check out my GoodReads profile.

Brave Love Blog
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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

two: happy

Let's pretend that my last post was yesterday and today is today which means, woohoo, I'm all caught up on the #blogtemberchallenge! Ok, you caught me but here goes with day two! 

Sept 2nd: Write about what makes you happy, from the little joys to the huge game-changers.  

Today was my first day back to work after 9 days of vacation, that my friend is a reason to be happy! (And we're all hearing the song Happy in our heads, right? Clap yo' hands!) 

slow mornings with a cup of coffee and morning tv ~ brie cheese and french bread ~ surprise phone call ~ sunset ~ swimming ~ library ~ multicolored pens ~ small town events and festivals ~hammock ~ books ~ babies in Halloween costumes ~ lilacs ~ mason jars ~ drinking through a straw

waterfalls ~ theme parties ~ 4 grandparents in one day ~ adventures in new cities ~ restaurants that are just a little too expensive but way, way worth it ~ books you can't get out of your head ~ friends meeting each other from different parts of life ~ real, deep heart to hearts ~ feeling loved for being loud ~ vacation

What makes your heart leap with joy?

Brave Love Blog
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one: about the author

When I started this blog I decided I wouldn't apologize when I didn't post for days, weeks, months, or eons because I was pretty sure it'd happen. So it has and here I am, not apologizing. Let's move on, together.

Now that summer camp is over and my life has begun again, I find myself with all these hours in the evening and it's very strange. Couple that with this whole dark at 8:30 thing and I'm at a loss for how to spend my new free time! I stumbled on a challenge with blogging prompts every day in September (#blogtemberchallenge) so I'm going to jump in with Bailey and the other lovelies over at Brave Love. Check it out, hi and welcome!

Playing a little catch up so here's day one...

Sept 1st: Imagine the front sleeve of a hard cover novel. Give us your "About the Author" so we can get to know one another, and for fun tell us what your imaginary novel would be about.

Abby Banfield is a true "camp kid" and grew up with the sound of campers laughing and smell of campfire in a small town where the claim to fame is “more pigs than people.” . These days she still lives at camp, programming and planning events for people to experience God in a real way.

After high school, Abby attended Grand Valley State University where she was involved in Campus Crusade for Christ and put her love of talking loudly and passion for puns together in an emcee and small group leader role. She worked at Starbucks developing a deep passion (and slight addiction) for coffee. Abby graduated with a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management, focusing on event planning.

Abby then moved to Minnesota to do a programming internship at a large camp where she learned how to survive negative degree winters and met her husband, Jonathan. They were married in 2011 and Jonathan also works full time at the camp. Abby will always laugh at a pun and in her spare time she enjoys biking to Lake Michigan (and getting ice cream on the way), cooking, reading and traveling.

Wanna know more? See the ABOUT page!

What novel would I write? I have no idea but when I was in kindergarten I wrote a great little book about a dog that fell in a mud puddle and then went to jail. It was complete with construction paper pictures and I'm sure would've been a best seller if it didn't have kindergarten food smears on it.

Brave Love Blog

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Word In, Word Out Project {Psalm 117}

For today's Word In, Word Out I'm guest posting over with my friend Katie at Echoes of my Heart. 

I'd love for you to join us over there reflecting on the shortest chapter of the Bible, Psalm 117!

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Word In, Word Out {Bitterness of Soul}

In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord. 

I've been bitter in my soul and I've met bitter people. Sure, I may have hid it well. I may have hidden it so well that even I didn't recognize the bitterness sitting within me, holding me back.

I've choked back words that have threatened to bubble over full of contempt, spite and anger. I've cried angry tears and ranted and raved in the solitude of my home.

In the darkest moment of great despair, Hannah wept much. She had real, raw emotions and she expressed them. She may have stomped her feet, clenched her fists and shuddered an ugly cry.

Then she prayed to the Lord. 

What about me? When my soul is bitter, what do I do? Do I sit in the bitterness letting it fester? Take it to other people looking for sympathy and commiseration?

Hannah teaches me to feel deeply but then to take my feelings and turn them to the Lord. To be able to say like she does later in the passage, "I was pouring my soul out to the Lord.... I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief."

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Pool Table Date

One of the best things about being married with no kids is being able to go and do fun things at the drop of a hat. Bike ride to the lake? Hop on and ride! Dinner at a restaurant? Get in the car and let's go. Late night tv session with friends? No problem. Weekend trips and vacations? Yes, please!

With any good thing it's easy to take it for granted. While we spend a lot of time together, my husband and I aren't always great as being intentional with that time or having fun and dating each other. Most of the time we end up running errands, grocery shopping and it's just another day.

That's why in April I made it a goal to have an intentional date night. Since it was a goal obviously I waited until almost the last day of the month to make it happen but happen it did!

The only preparation I really had to do was stop at the grocery store and pick up a few special treats- red vines and pop. I was going to go for Fanta which reminds us of our Mexico vacation then I saw these crush glass bottles and what's a great date without a cheesy, 'I've got a crush on you' pun?

With scissors, construction paper and a sharpie I made a pool ball card inviting my hubby to a game of pool that night. Since we live at camp we have a game room with a pool table in it so it was pretty easy. I know a lot of churches, youth centers and people's basements with pool tables. If you get creative I'm sure you can find one! If not, you can come use mine!

Neither of us are great (or even very good) but we played 2 games and laughed a lot. It was fun, quick, low-maintenance and just a little competitive. An hour and a half later we walked home holding hands, laughing and feeling just a little more connected than earlier that evening.

If you really wanted to make this date even more special you could add a dinner of "pool hall" food and watch tutorials or read articles on pool table tricks and skills. It'd also be fun to play pool variations or make it a whole arcade evening. How fun would it be to keep a running tally of who won the most games? For $3 this was a great evening.

What have you tried for date nights? Would you give a pool table date a try?

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