A White Christmas … Eve!

I live in Texas … land of crazy, bizarre weather.
Take this morning for example. James comes running inside, hollering about how it’s snowing outside. Snowing!?! On Christmas Eve??
You better believe it. Here’s what it looked like out our back door:
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And my Canadian-bred husband? Yeah, he ran into it in a short-sleeved T-shirt:
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He immediately went to the fence, which was collecting a great deal of the white stuff:
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And grabbed some to make a snowball!
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He knows better than to throw that at me, right? Right!?
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This is where I slammed the back door in his face and locked him outside:
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More fun photos from the blizzard (yes, this is a blizzard by North Texas standards…)

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Have a very Merry and (here’s hoping!) Have a very Merry and (here’s hoping!) White Christmas!

A Common Sight

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At least it’s not a headphone helmet.
Happy holidays!

Sugared Cranberries

The Nerd is a *huge* fan of cranberry sauce. At Thanksgiving this year, I took my first crack at making home-made cranberry sauce (my family just always ate the congealed stuff from a can).

It turned out quite well, or so I think because I don’t eat the stuff and he said it tasted great. He could be lying, but I’m not going to force the issue because, hey, at least it’s a lie that makes me look good, right?

So when my co-worker Catherine mentioned that she makes sugared cranberries for the holidays, my attention was immediately grabbed. Sugared cranberries? Aren’t cranberries supposed to be tart? At least, that’s what I’ve always thought.

That’s true, and that is exactly what makes this mixture oh-so-yummy. You have the sugary sweet outside coating of fine sugar and then you bite into the bitter tartness of the cranberry. Yowza.

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Don’t these look scrumptious?

Here’s what you need to get started:

2 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup super-fine sugar (enough to coat the finished product)

First, you’ll need to wash your fresh cranberries and get rid of any bad ones:

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Then, combine the water and granulated sugar in a small saucepan. Stir until the sugar dissolves (this mixture is called “Simple Syrup”) and simmer over medium heat. Do not boil or the cranberries will burst as they are added. This is very important. 

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Remove from heat and add the cranberries. Stir to coat the cranberries in the syrup.

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Now, transfer the cranberries and syrup to a baking dish or other container with an airtight lid. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

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In the morning, pour the cranberry mixture into a colander to remove the excess syrup. You can save the syrup or discard it, your choice.

Then, coat the cranberries with the super-fine sugar. The remaining bits of syrup will help the sugar stick to the cranberries. Let sit for one hour, or until dry.

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Y-U-M. :)

Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend! Only five more days until Christmas!

Thanks for looking!

Click here for a Printer-Friendly Version of this recipe.

I See You

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted. Sorry for that. This last week was crazy in both work and life. Wednesday night was our office meeting (everyone loved the cookie tins that I made!) and Thursday night, James and I took some time to just relax.

Friday night, my parents came up and we went to the movies. Both James and my dad were super-psyched to see Avatar, James Cameron’s latest box-office phenomenon. Luckily, we are close to an Imax theater, so we got to see the movie in 3D Imax.

As the wife of a Nerd, I have come to terms with the fact that we will be at the movie theater at least an hour before any movie starts. James will start to get antsy if he thinks we’re cutting it too close.

After almost three years with him, I just kind of go with it. (Thanks Mom & Dad for being so understanding, and laughing with us as we stood in line for an hour…)

Let me tell you, it was worth it. Avatar has to be *the* coolest movie I’ve ever seen. Not the best, but definitely the coolest.

The story takes place on another planet, Pandora, where humans are trying to mine an ore called “Unobtainium.” The air is toxic for humans, and there is an indigenous population of blue aliens who reside on the planet. In an effort to co-exist with these aliens, scientists have used DNA from a few select humans to clone alien-human hybrids that are controlled by their human creators.

The whole time, I knew I was watching a movie about aliens and spaceships. But it looked *so* *real.* I caught myself believing that the aliens were real and wondering if the government has secretly been working on flying spaceships without our knowledge.

When I’m watching a movie, especially a three-hour epic, there usually comes a point when I think, “Okay, it’s about time to wrap things up.” That never happened during Avatar. I was so mesmerized by the beauty of the world and all the little details that went into the experience (at one point, 3D ash fell from the sky and I thought it was going to hit me in the face) that I was prepared for the ending, but never wished for it.

I guess I should state a disclaimer — I am not one of those people who goes to the movies to think. I don’t enjoy provocative movies. I want to be entertained. I like love stories and explosions and characters who tell a good story.

The plot of Avatar is fairly predictable, but that never bothered me. It was a good story (no matter how many other times it’s been told) and it was set on a beautiful landscape. And that was enough for me.

(I’m sure that the realistic space ships, robotics and lots of explosions didn’t hurt things in The Nerd’s opinion).

I made sure to document the occasion — be sure to laugh at us all in our super-cool 3D glasses:

Dad @ Avatar

That’s my dad, embodying the “Terminator” mindset in honor of James Cameron’s other films.

Mom & Dad @ Avatar

Mom and Dad. Yeah, she’s *so* excited to be here.

James & Arena @ Avatar

Aren’t we a cute Nerdy couple?

James @ Avatar

What a happy Nerd.
Even if you’re not a Nerd, you’ll enjoy the Avatar experience. I highly recommend it.
Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!
Live long and prosper!

‘Tis the Season

You know what I love about the Christmas season? Decorating. Cooking. Baking. Wrapping presents. Everything.

And (as you know) I’ve been on this blog kick, browsing recipes and dying to try them. I’ve already shared the Double Chocolate Chews recipe. I’ve also tried the Sugar Cookies recipe from Kate and Sara at Our Best Bites (so yummy!).

Well, what do I do with all of these yummy goodies that I’ve baked? It’s just me and The Nerd, and I’m not too keen on gaining 50 pounds this holiday season. So I’ve decided to give them away!

Tomorrow night is my office dinner, and I’m going to be loaded down with boxes of cookies for everyone. I thought I’d share some photos of the finished products:

Look at those cookies! I got lazy and used pre-packaged cookie icing.

Y-U-M. And I just love that polka dot wax tissue paper. Yes, you read right – *wax* tissue paper.

Side-by-side. I used decorator’s sugar on some of the sugar cookies and iced some of them.

The tins I’m packaging them in. I bought them at Wal-Mart. I love that they match the tissue paper!

A look at the top. The bow is made from the *most* awesome ribbon ever. It’s from the Container Store and is white. It’s perfect for packaging like this because it’s not easily smashed and will bounce right back up!
Well, that was my adventure today! Looking forward to handing them out tomorrow night!
Thanks for looking!

Video Game Nerds

Being the wife of a Nerd, video games are just part of my life.

I’ve never really partaken in the video game playing (except to play a few rounds of Mario Kart or Super Mario Bros. on the Super Nintendo back in the day), and to be honest, the whole first-person shooter thing makes me motion sick.

But alas, I’ve come to accept the role that video games play in my marriage. I like to call them “The Other Woman.” After we moved into our first house, I convinced James that we “needed” to buy another HDTV for The Nerd Cave (his room in the house for all of his “toys”) so that he could move all of the video game paraphernalia in there.

We have a lot of video game paraphernalia. I can’t count the number of games we own. We have an XBox 360 Elite, PlayStation 3 and a Wii. James also has a Dell XPS gaming laptop and a gaming PC in the Nerd Cave. He even has the HDTV set up to use as a monitor so he can play PC games on the TV.

James and his friends like to make fun of me because I never play the games. I watch. Or, if they’re playing first-person shooters (remember, motion sickness) I nap. Yeah, that’s right, I sleep and they play.

Last week, Ryan (James’ college roommate) was in town for work. He came over one night and the boys played Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. I remember James waking me up at midnight (this was a weeknight, mind you) because Ryan had just left and it was time to move into the bedroom. Conveniently, there is a futon in the Nerd Cave that facilitates my napping.

Tonight, Ryan’s back. The boys are plaing CODMW2 again, and I took a few snapshots.

So, for your viewing pleasure, here are my Video Game Nerds:

Yup, that’s them. Concentrating *really* hard.
  
Hi, Ryan. Welcome to the Nerd Cave.
<3 That’s MY Nerd.
 Red is bad. Or so I’m told.
Love that face. He gets really into the games sometimes.
Yeah, that’s a Dr Pepper on the table. We <3 Dr Pepper.
Ah, the sounds of machine guns firing bullets into the air. I think feel a nap coming on…

Double Chocolate Chews

Oowey, gooey chocolate cookies. That’s what I’m talking about! ‘Tis the season for holiday goodies, and I spent the day trying out some holiday recipes that look oh, so good! The first was for these scrumptious chocolate cookies.

The recipe is from Southern Living’s Christmas at Home magazine.

Did I mention that my favorite part of the holiday season is decorating and baking? Oh yeah.

The Nerd was kind enough to spend the afternoon in the kitchen with me, helping me bake (and sampling!) these goodies.

The thing about these cookies is not their chocolatey exterior. Oh, no. The yummy goodness is on the inside when you find one of the many chocolate chips scattered throughout the batter. Y-U-M.

Ok, I know you’re dying to try these! So, here’s what you need to get started:

1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 Tbsp. light corn syrup
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook 3/4 cup chocolate morsels and oil in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. The magazine says this will take about 2 minutes, but it really took me like 10 minutes for all of the chocolate to melt. That’s what you want, melted chocolate chips. Sigh. Pour chocolate mixture into a large bowl, and cool 5 minutes.

2. Stir together flour, powdered sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt. I used a whisk to do this, and it worked really well.

3. Stir brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, egg and 2 Tbsp. water into melted chocolate mixture. Then, stir that into the flour mixture. Now, add the remaining chocolate morsels for those sporadic, but oh-so-worth-it chocolate chips throughout the dough. The dough is going to be really stiff, and it takes a *lot* of effort to stir this all together. Your arm will get tired. Trust me.

4. Drop dough by level tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto lightly greased baking sheets. We molded them into little oval-shaped cookies. You’ll get about 3 dozen cookies out of the dough.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Cook on baking sheets 2 minutes. Then, transfer to wire racks to cool completely (about 20 minutes).

When the cookies are cool, you’ll see cracks starting to appear throughout the surface. Yay! That will give you a little peek at the yummy goodness inside.

Just look at these:


So excited to give these out in my holiday goody boxes! What do you think?

What are your favorite holiday recipes to give away?

Thanks for looking! :)



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