Spring is Here…Sort Of

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You may have noticed… my blog has a new look! I worked long hours into the night, but *finally* got it looking how I wanted it to!
I thought the old look was a bit too “wintery” and wanted to change things up a bit. Plus, I read online recently that blogs should always have a white background because it’s easier to read. And I noticed that all of the “professional” blogs I read have a white background. So I thought it would be a good time to change things up a bit.
This weekend has been a lot of fun. My sister and her baby, Hyrum, came to visit my mom. So, James and I packed up and headed to Mansfield for the weekend!
It was so nice and sunny yesterday, we took advantage of the great weather and went to the Dallas Arboretum to take some “spring” pics of the baby!
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Isn’t he a doll?
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He’s such a happy baby.
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Always smiling and laughing.
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And he’s a wiggle worm. Nanna had a hard time holding on to him!
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He’s such a momma’s boy, too.
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The flowers were just blooming and were so bright and colorful!
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Hyrum was curious about everything — including this fountain!
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We had a good time, too!
I wish they lived closer so we could hang out with this happy baby all the time. He has such a sweet spirit and personality!
Happy Sunday everyone!

Nerdy Things Thursday: Vampires

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Since I’ve been MIA the past few Thursdays, I thought I’d come back with a bang and tell you about one of my latest obsessions: Vampires. Yes, this week on Nerdy Things Thursday we’re going to talk about one of MY nerdy obsessions.
I admit it: I am so the cliche young married woman who can’t help but compare her husband to the vampire who started it all (at least for me)…Edward Cullen.
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 Google Images

I first picked up Twilight right before the movie was released in theaters. I couldn’t put it down. Since I’m in my car so much every day for work, I downloaded the audio books and blew right through the entire series.

I still maintain that Illyana Kadushan makes a much better Bella than Kristen Stewart. Without the crazy hair.

Anyway, by now I’ve listened to the entire series at least four times … and I just finished listening to my favorite, Breaking Dawn, for the hundredth time (not really….just guessing).

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Yes – I love Breaking Dawn. I love the happy ending. I love the cheesiness of it all. I don’t, however, love the name Renesmee. Really!?!

Soon after my obsession with Twilight began, I stumbled upon the HBO Series True Blood. Oh my goodness. Talk about your blood thirsty vampires.

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Google Images

My favorite? Eric Northman.

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Y-U-M.

This promptly brought about my desire to read the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris. Thanks to a wonderful Christmas present from my sister-in-law extremely thoughtful brother, my desire has been fulfilled!

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Google Images

I can’t wait for May for the next one!

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And now, I’m anxious to begin two new series: the Anita Blake (no relation) Vampire Hunter series and the Riley Jenson Guardian series.

What vampire books would you recommend? What is it about those lusty, dangerous blood suckers that gets us (or is it just me?) all hot and bothered? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Until next time, live long and prosper!

Apricot Sugar Cookies

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I can’t take credit for the deliciousness that is encompassed in these cookies. I have never really been a big fan of sugar cookies. They were either too crispy or too soft, and most of the time they tasted more like flour than anything else.
But all that changed the day I found “The One.” I’m talking about the perfect sugar cookie recipe, courtesy of Our Best Bites.
I made these sugar cookies for Valentine’s Day. The secret is the almond extract. All the other recipes I’ve found use vanilla. I will never go back to vanilla. Never.
These cookies are just the right texture. And the flour is not overpowering. Add in the Glacé Icing (flavored with almond extract, too) and it’s a delicious experience you just can’t miss. I *love* these cookies.
And now I’ve taken them a step further. My dad mentioned to me how he thought the flavor of these cookies would really be enhanced by adding some dried apricots to the batter. Seriously? Apricots? Oh yes. Apricots.
So, I tried it. They are de-lish. No icing required. No sugar added to the top. The fruity apricots are enough to carry this cookie. So here’s how to make ’em:
Apricot Sugar Cookies
Ingredients:
1 cup real butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 6 oz. package of dried apricots
Directions:
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy – about two minutes. Add in eggs and extract and mix to incorporate.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until completely combined.
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Cut the dried apricots into small cubes and add to the sugar cookie dough. Mix with a slick spatula, spreading the apricots throughout the dough.
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Roll the dough into small balls and place on a greased cookie sheet (or one lined with a Silpat) about two inches apart.
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Press down on the tops of the balls with a glass tumbler with a smooth, round bottom. Flatten them into small discs about the same thickness.
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Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until the bottom edges of the cookies have begun to turn lightly brown. 
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Let stand on the cookie sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
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Y-U-M!
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Don’t these look delicious? It’s so hard not to just gobble them all up!
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*Sigh.*

And The Winner Is…

A big THANK YOU to all who entered my first giveaway!
There were 39 comments, lots of tweets and some new followers! I’m so glad you all stopped by and took a look around.
And I enjoyed reading your reasons for loving your geek — from his mad computer skillz, to his gracious acceptance of your gaming prowess, to the way he shakes his bon-bon, we all love our Geeks.
I’m so glad I’m not alone!
And now, for the winning comment, chosen by Random.org‘s Random Number Generator:
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Congratulations, Aimee! An e-mail will be sent to you shortly to find out where I should send your prize!
And to answer your questions — YES! Kaylee is a beagle! She’s a red beagle, so she’s all shades of brown and white. I just love the freckles on her legs and belly! Aren’t beagles the best? Until they jump up on the table and eat your foot, but that’s another story for another time!
Thank you all again, and I hope you continue to follow my adventures here in Nerd Land.
Have a great weekend!

Don’t Forget!

Go to this post right now and leave a comment — tell me why you love your Geek (or Nerd, or whatever) — to enter my first giveaway!
The contest closes at noon Central on Saturday, Feb. 19!
Winner will receive a copy of I (love) Geeks and a $25 gift card to Amazon.com.
Happy Friday!

Not Me Monday

 

Mondays are quickly becoming one of my favorite days of the week. I know what you’re thinking: Is this gal nuts?!? Nope, not me, I’m as sane as can be.
I just enjoy the chance to commiserate with my fellow bloggers over at Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.
For starters, I did *not* ignore my Inbox this afternoon when I got home. Not Me. I take care of work first, even if it will be 8 or 9 p.m. before I’m done. I would *never* put off answering my e-mails so that I could write in my blog. Nope, not me.
This weekend, I did *not* spend boo-coups of money on ingredients for some great recipes just because I felt like baking. Nope, not me.
I did *not* bake these goodies with zest, knowing that there was no way The Nerd and I could eat the three dozen chocolate marshmallow cookies and two dozen sugar cookie pops, so they’ll probably have to be trashed. Nope, not me.
And after spending hours rolling dough and dirtying dishes, I did *not* just pile them on the counter, deciding to wash them another time. Nope, not me.
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But hey, at least The Nerd bought me flowers for Valentine’s Day!
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And finally, I am totally *not* going to plug my super-awesome giveaway at the end of my post! Nope, not me.
To enter the giveaway, just go to this post and leave a comment telling me what you love most about your significant other. Tweet, share on facebook and become a follower to earn extra entries. Please leave a comment for each entry.
Winner receives a copy of “I (love) Geeks” and a $25 gift card to Amazon.com!
Giveaway closes at noon Central on Saturday, Feb. 20. 
 
Happy Monday everyone!

Geek Love

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A while back, I stumbled upon this book and it made my heart flutter.
“The Official Handbook” to understanding geeks? Yes, please!
As I’m sure you can tell from this blog, dating (and marrying!) a socially-awkward individual can be trying at times. Geeks (and Nerds) have a different mind set than most people.
Carrie Tucker, the author, is a self-professed nerd whose boyfriend works for a video game company.
Now, this book is not entirely serious. It explores the stereotypical geek. And it can seem condescending at times. But in good fun, this book rocks.
It opens with a quiz to determine “What Type of Geek is Your Guy?”
James is a hybrid: Video Game Geek meets Film and Television Geek meets Science Fiction and Fantasy Geek. Yikes.
Then, the book details six different types of geeks, how to date that type, common relationship problems you may encounter and a brief glossary and history to help you better understand the things your geek loves.
  • Video Game Geeks – “In many relationships, the game controller is known as the mistress.”
  • Comic Book and Graphic Novel Geeks – “Ah, the comic book store. That dark, cavernous place your geek disappears into every weekend.”
  • Manga and Anime Geeks – “An Acquired Taste. Like Sushi.”
  • Film and Television Geeks – “We’re talking about the film and television geek who is obsessed with nerdy shows!”
  • Sports Geeks – “Geeks loving sports may seem like quite the shocker…but they do love them.”
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy Geeks – “Science fiction and fantasy geeks are truly birds of different feathers — or Klingons of different planets…”
All in all, it’s a fun read. And appropriate for Valentine’s Day … how better to bond your love with your Nerd than join him for a LOTR marathon or quest in Star Trek: Online.
And just for you *awesome* readers with Nerds of your own, I’m hosting my very first giveaway! 
 
The winner will receive a copy of Carrie Tucker’s “I (love) Geeks” book and a $25 gift card to Amazon.com.
 
To enter, please leave a comment below answering the following question:
“What do you love most about your geek?” 
 
Or, if you aren’t lucky enough to have a geek of your own, just tell me what you love most about your significant other. :)
 
For extra entries, become a follower of my blog, tweet about this giveaway, or post it on Facebook! And leave me a comment telling me that you’ve done so.
 
If you’re already a follower, don’t fret! Just leave a comment saying that you’re already a follower. :)
 
The winner will be chosen by Random.org’s number generator. Contest closes at noon Central on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010.
 
Good luck!Edit: Thank you to all who entered! This contest is now closed. Click here to see the results!

Taco Soup

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It’s been quite cold here in Texas lately.
The other night, as snow was falling and the temperature was dropping, I decided to make a pot of Taco Soup to warm us up.
This soup is so easy to make — you just throw a bunch of ingredients into a pot!
Well, let’s get to it:
The Cast of Characters
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Ingredients:
1 pound of ground beef
1 pkg of Taco Seasoning
1 pkg Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix
1 can Rotel Tomatoes and Green Chilies
1 can black beans
2 cans whole kernel corn
1 can Ranch-Style beans
1/2 can tomato sauce
2 cups water
Shredded Cheese and Tortilla Chips to garnish
Directions:
In a stock pot or dutch oven, brown the ground beef and drain. Stir in taco seasoning and Ranch Dressing mix.
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Drain the juice from the Rotel and add the tomatoes to the pot. Don’t add the juice — if you make this mistake, your mouth will be on fire. Trust me.
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Now, pour in both cans of corn, juice and all.
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Same thing with the Ranch-Style beans — pour ’em in, juice and all.
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Pour in half the can of tomato sauce.
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Add the black beans, juice and all.
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Add the water.
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Now, simmer for about 30 minutes.
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Doesn’t that look yummy?
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Garnish with tortilla chips and shredded cheese.
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Download a 4×6 recipe card here.

Happy Saturday! Enjoy Valentine’s Day!

Sugar Cookie Pops

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Since Valentine’s Day fast approaches (and snow days freed up my work schedule!), I decided to try my hand at these super cute sugar cookie pops from Our Best Bites.
I love, love, love the sugar cookie recipe from their site — especially with the Almond Extract flavoring. I’ve always had sugar cookies with Vanilla Extract, but the Almond was to die for. I love the smell of it!
Here’s the Cast of Characters:
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1 C real butter
1 C sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp Almond extract
3 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Directions:
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Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
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Add in eggs and extract and mix well.
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In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine.
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Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix well.
Separate the dough into halves and roll between two sheets of wax paper. Chill for at least an hour in the fridge.
Once the dough is nice and chilly, use cookie cutters to cut shapes (I did hearts for Valentine’s Day!).If you’re making cookie pops, take a lolly pop stick and press in into the back side of the cookie, about halfway up.
If not, just move on. :)
Lay the cookies out on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on how crispy you want the cookies.
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You’ll know they’re done when the edges are just barely turning golden brown.
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Now for the fun part — Frosting the Cookies! :)
This was the first time I worked with Glacé Icing.
The second Cast of Characters:
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1 pound powdered sugar
1/4 cup and 2 Tbs whole milk
1/4 cup and 2 Tbs light corn syrup
2 tsp extract (Almond, if you used that in the sugar cookies)
Directions:
Mix the sugar and milk.
Add the corn syrup and extract.
Divide and add color — I did pink and white. :)
Here’s the white:
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And the pink:
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I used Wilton’s Sparkle Gel to pipe a line of icing around the edge of the cookies.
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Then, I filled in the cookie with the Glacé Icing.
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I’m sure it gets easier as you work with it more and more, but I learned after the first few cookies to pipe a line of frosting around the outside of the cookie to keep the glaze from running off the edges.
I had to salvage a few where the icing ran off the edge, so I just added a bunch more icing and piped a fun design on the top:
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Aren’t they so fun?
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Now, if only I had someone (other than the Nerd and myself) to share them with!

Snow!

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It’s snowing outside, and it has been all morning!
We awoke this morning to a blanket of white on the ground, and it hasn’t stopped sprinkling white stuff all day.
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Since we live in North Texas, this is not something we are used to. In fact, the Minions had a great time frolicking in the snow.
I thought I’d share some of their escapades:
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Kaylee had a lot of fun. There is nothing cuter than beagle ears flopping around.
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Isn’t she a doll?
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And Georgie was trying to eat the snowflakes as they fell around him!
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Since I don’t have to work for the rest of the day, I plan on baking some cookies and making Taco Soup for dinner tonight. I’ll take photos and post the recipes eventually.
Hope everyone stays warm and dry!

Nerdy Things Thursday: MTG

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Welcome to Nerdy Things Thursday, where I try to shed a little light on some of the Nerdy Things I come across in my life with The Nerd.
Earlier this week, I shared some photos from our weekend trip to Houston to celebrate a new set release for Magic: The Gathering. So I thought I’d explain a little about this super-awesome trading card game.
The basic premise of MTG is that you are a planeswalker, or magician, who is dueling another planeswalker. You cast spells and summon creatures or artifacts to assist you in the duel and defend you.
Each player uses a 60-card deck of spells, creatures, artifacts and mana cards. Mana is the “fuel” for your spells — a force that you draw from different forms of land. There are five colors of mana, and each color has a general strategy or “feel” of a spell associated with it:
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I like to play blue, white and (occasionally) black. The Nerd is more partial black and red.
So, you need mana to cast a spell. Each card has a certain mana cost. You are allowed to play one land card (which produces one mana) each turn, unless you have a spell that allows you to cast more than one land card.
Now, let’s take a look at a card:
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This is a white card. If you look at the top left corner, you’ll see the casting cost. It’s 2 white mana, and 4 mana of any color.
The card type is a “Creature — Human Soldier.” So, this card can attack your opponent, or defend against an attack from your opponent’s creatures.
In the bottom right, is the Power/Toughness of this creature. It’s a 3/3, so it had 3 hit points, and can absorb 3 hit points.
You need the right combination of creatures, spells, artifacts and land (mana) in your deck to win. It’s all about strategy. And making super-cool combos.
See this website for more basic rules.
The cards are released in sets. A block consists of three sets of cards, all with a similar theme. Currently, the Shards of Alara block and Zendikar block are the standard sets. So, you can use cards from these sets when playing in a Standard tournament.
Of course, there are really cool cards from all sets, and I really like to collect the cool cards.
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If you know me, you know that I am a (semi)organized person. I love Post-It notes and labels and file folders. Yep, it’s possible to love those things. But I digress. I like to keep my Magic cards in pretty boxes — one for each deck.
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Ah, blue, green and purple. My favs.
And I thought I’d give you a look at some of my favorite cards:
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This is Elspeth. She’s beautiful.
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Master Transmuter lets me play any artifact for a low cost. I love this card in my Esper Artifact deck.
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And Ethersworn Adjudicator is just a cool card. Yes, it’s autographed by the artist!
Hopefully, we can eventually delve into some of the strategy in this game, and talk about some of the popular types of decks that people create. Not that I’m an expert. I lose a lot.
Hope everyone has a safe, warm day! We’re expecting snow in Dallas, so this should be interesting…
Until next time, live long and prosper!

A Magic-al Weekend

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This weekend, The Nerd and I drove south to Houston to visit some friends. About a year ago, these friends had introduced us to a wonderful (and addicting!!) trading card game called Magic: The Gathering.
We’ll talk about the specifics of the games later in the week during Nerdy Things Thursday. For now, let’s just say that it’s FUN!
Oh, and the cards are pretty. That’s all that really matters.
A new set of cards was released this weekend, and we all got together for a booster draft!
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We purchased a booster box to split between us — that’s 36 booster packs, each containing 15 cards.
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That’s a lot of cards.
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There’s nothing better than opening a fresh pack of Magic cards:
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The Nerd likes to tease me by not letting me see the cards he got…
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He’s a mean, mean man.
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And then, he let me see the rare from the pack:
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April is a much better model.
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She likes pretty cards, too.
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She’s my compadre in many of our Nerdy activities.
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Once all the cards were open, the draft ensued! Eric won. 
Then everybody else. 
I was last. 
I suck.
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Eric is the thinker of the group.
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April always has a cool combo up her sleeve.
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And then there’s me. Blinded by pretty cards. 
(And wearing my Pioneer Woman shirt!)

Not Me Monday

It’s that time again…
Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.
As for me, things have been pretty hectic the last week or so.
Things have been so busy, in fact, that I totally did *not* forget to post another Nerdy Things Thursday post last week. Not me.
Two weeks in a row that I’ve missed.
So much for my schedule.
The Nerd and I headed out of town for the weekend, which you’ll get to read all about in tomorrow’s post. I totally did *not* persuade my husband to purchase 8 additional Magic booster packs, just so I could get a pretty box. Not me. 
And I totally did *not* drink a Dr Pepper on our way home yesterday, cheating on my resolution to only drink water. I have *not* cheated several times. Not me.
And finally, I am totally *not* about to leave you hanging with a photo preview of tomorrow’s post. Not me.
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Happy Monday!


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