River & The Gingerbread House

I have the most *adorable* niece on the planet. There. I said it. You can’t dispute it.
A few days before Christmas, I got to watch (and take photos!) as her parents showed her how to decorate a Gingerbread House. I just loved seeing her excitement as she placed the little bits of candy on the icing, and then discovered that she could eat the little bits of candy!
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First things, first. Daddy shows her how it’s done.
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Oh that’s what I’m supposed to do?
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She’s a quick study.
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Now everyone joins in.
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Still decorating.
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Oops! She caught me!
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This is where things got interesting.
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More decorating…
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Or tasting I guess we should say!
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Yummy!
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That icing is so good with the sprinkles on it!
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So, so good!
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Red fingers!
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Who, me?
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Yes, me!
I love that little angel! :)
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and that it was filled with the joy of family.
Thanks for looking!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all! What a wonderful morning it has been. We woke up to snow on the ground (left over from yesterday’s blizzard) and stockings full of goodies!

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The puppies even got to share in the fun! They had stockings with toys and rawhide bones…yum!

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As I write, I’m cuddled up on the couch in my PJs with my two puppies (Georgie is keeping my feet nice and toasty, while Kaylee is nestled into my lap under the blanket) and James is in the Nerd Cave enjoying one of his presents.

I have to say, the first Christmas as a married couple has been quite nice.

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As far as presents, I think we both walked away with a pretty good haul. I got my *big* present a few weeks ago — a brand new Canon Digital Rebel XS with the kit lens. It is lovely, and I’ve been putting it to good use taking photos lately.

Tomorrow, you’ll get to see my latest project photographing River as she decorated a gingerbread house. She’s absolutely darling!

Today, I got several accessories for my camera — a new lens (Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8), a tripod and a camera bag! Woot!

I also got some awesome things from “Santa” in my stocking — Super Mario Bros Wii and some beautiful earrings.

James didn’t do so badly, either.

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What could it be?

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I think he likes what he sees.

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The complete Battlestar Galactica series (with a collectible Cylon!)

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Ok, what’s next?

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A remote-control Cobra AH-1! I think the Helicopter Engineer is a bit excited.

Oh, wait. Someone forgot to get batteries. I suck.

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And last, but not least? Assassins Creed 2.

Guess where he is right now…

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That’s ok, though. I got to try out some new tricks with my new lens.

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No photos of Kaylee. She was hiding under the couch because it’s so cold outside!

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If you look closely at the last one, the Christmas tree lights are shaped like stars. No, we do not have star-shaped Christmas lights. Isn’t that cool?

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, and that Santa brought all the goodies you were hoping for.

Tomorrow morning, we leave for Port Aransas to visit James’ family. Christmas on the beach. Can you say YAY?

Until next time, live long and prosper!

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!


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