QuakeCon 2010

This weekend, The Nerd and I are attending QuakeCon in Dallas.
This four-day convention is known as the Woodstock of video games: Peace, Love and LAN parties.
April and Eric came up to attend with us.
Things I’ve already seen in this massive gathering of Nerds: a dude dressed up as the Devil, a naked lady (all parts visible) desktop background, and more socially awkward individuals than I was prepared for.
It’s been fun.
The only problem? No wifi.
I mean, seriously. How can Nerds survive with no Internet?
This not-so-nerdy gal (ok, maybe I *am* a little nerdy) is dying over here!
Right now, I’m at Freebirds using their wifi to write a few posts.
So, I’ll do my best to keep you updated, but for now, it’s iPad 3G or bust!
Happy Friday!

The Fellowship of the Ring

The other night, The Nerd woke me up somewhere between 2 and 4 a.m.
“Arena!” he exclaimed, nudging my shoulder.
“Mmm?” I mumbled incoherently.
“I don’t want to forget this,” he said.
“Foget wha?”The dream I just had,” he replied.

“Wha happen?” I said, still half-asleep.

“We were at A&M,” he said, “and someone asked you why you where there.

You told them, ‘I’m a member of the Fellowship.’

‘What fellowship?’ they asked.

‘The Fellowship of the Ring,’ you said.”

At this point, I realized that my extremely nerdy husband had just awakened me in the middle of the night to tell me a Lord of Rings joke.

Of course, A&M has its own version of the One Ring.

You know, when I start to doubt my assertion that I married the biggest Nerd on the planet, he always sets me straight.

I did, in fact, marry the biggest Nerd on the planet.


The Nerd once dreamed I joined a quest with two pairs of hobbits, an elf, a dwarf, a wizard and a Ranger. Yeah, right. This isn’t The Lord of the Rings.

Review: I Am Number Four

When I first heard about this book, I knew I would like it.I mean, aliens hiding among us? A plot to assassinate said aliens? A charm that involves killing the aliens in a specific order?

Count me in!

“Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books—but we are real.Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. we have lived among you without you knowing.

But they know.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.

I am Number Four.

I am next.”

–Description from Good Reads

This story was very cool. I could really empathize with John, or Four, or whatever his name is. I’m still not sure about that.I like that it’s written from a male point of view. The main character’s thoughts seemed very in line with what I would imagine teenage boys think about. He seemed so human, I often found myself forgetting that he was an alien.

The romance added another layer to the story that I truly enjoyed. It reminded me of my high school relationships and the innocence of them. You always think that your high school sweetheart is your one true love. Luckily for me, I was totally wrong about that.

It was nice to see that Four had to deal with “normal” teenage issues — how to woo the girl he liked, a bully at school, etc — and also a few, more complicated alien issues — will his hands suddenly glow during English class?

The whole book, I knew that the Mogadorians were looking for him the whole book, but they kinda snuck up on me at the end. I was concerned with the real issues — like Four’s romance with Sara — and forgot about that whole death and destruction part, hehe.

This is an entertaining read, but it’s not really very complicated. The plot is on the surface — and it doesn’t go any deeper.

So, if you’re looking for a change from the traditional YA reads (normal teen girl falls in love with a monster), this one definitely fits that bill.I enjoyed it and I’m excited to see the movie.

A Very Nerdy Birthday

Today is The Nerd’s birthday.
He’s 26 years old.
Last weekend, we were at my parents’ house, so I decided to pull together a birthday dinner for him.
Of course, it was Star Wars themed.
I got some silly hats and some other fun toys for the kids (and The Nerd) to play with!
Doesn’t The Nerd look like he’s enjoying his party?
My sister and her son, Hyrum, definitely liked the hats!
I made these Red Velvet Cupcakes since they’re The Nerd’s favorite.
I wonder what he wished for…
He got some Transformers toys from my parents.
And not one…
But *two* light sabers from me!
They light up and make swooshing sounds and everything!
His *real* present was the XBox Slim he got a while back.
Once the presents were opened, everyone got down to business: Eating the cupcakes.
River liked the icing.
So did Hyrum!
He’s such a cute boy!
I think it was a good (early) birthday.
Today, we’re heading to QuakeCon to continue the celebration.
I made Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes (since Reese’s are his favorite candy). I’ll post the recipe later.
Hope you all have a great day!
Happy Birthday, honey!

Waiting on Wednesday: Mockingjay

“Waiting on Wednesday” is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming book releases that we’re eagerly anticipating!
 Today, all I have to say is:
Two weeks until Mockingjay!
Seriously, folks.
If you have not read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins you need to go pick it up now!
It is the *best* book (besides the follow-up Catching Fire, which I loved even more) ever!
And on Aug. 24, all our questions will be answered!
(Well, I hope they will!)
And the most pressing one:
Peeta or Gale?
I’m dying over here!
How about you? What are you waiting on this week?

Red Velvet Cupcakes

The Nerd’s birthday is Thursday, so I decided to whip up his favorite cake in honor of his 26th year.
This time, though, I did it in cupcake form.
I like this icing — it’s not too cream-cheesy. Because Lord knows I hate cream cheese. Yuck.
Red Velvet Cupcakes
2 1/2 c sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz. red food coloring
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffin pans with cupcake liners.
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a smaller bowl, combine the cocoa and red food coloring to make a sort of paste.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add in the eggs one at a time and mix after each addition.
Add in the vanilla and mix well.
Mix in the cocoa paste and 1/3 of the flour mixture.
Pour in half the buttermilk and mix well.
Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture…
then the rest of the buttermilk…
and the last of the flour mixture.
In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar and baking soda.
Add it to the batter and mix well, scraping down the sides with a spatula to ensure complete mixing.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans, filling the cupcake liners about half full.
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes come out clean.
Let cool and begin to make icing.
Cream Cheese Icing
1/2 c butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2-3 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cream together the butter and cream cheese.
Add in vanilla.
Mix in sugar to taste.
Pipe the icing on cupcakes as desired.
The Nerd loves these red velvet cupcakes — they’re moist and creamy and delicious!

Review: Enders Game

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is one of The Nerd’s favorite books.
As we started watching all of the nerdy things that he loves — Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, The Big Bang Theory, Stargate (all three of ‘em) — and I start to love them, too, I’m beginning to trust his judgement.
So, I *finally* picked up this novel, expecting to suffer through it.
I mean, I love my man, but his taste in books is not exactly great. He reads all the campy Star Wars novels, for instance. Shudder.
Let me just say — he was *dead on* with this one.
I *loved* it!
We listened to the audio book on our recent trip to Austin, and I didn’t want to get out of the car because it meant I had to stop listening to Ender’s Game.
Ender Wiggin is the kind of character you can relate to. He’s *so* smart — but he’s just a little boy. I had to remind myself constantly that he was just a kid.
This novel is *gritty.* There’s death and violence, and it’s not handled with kid gloves. Heck, Ender isn’t handled with kid gloves. The adults use him and do so intentionally. I can’t imagine the kind of burden this poor kid had to deal with.
The fate of the world is *literally* in his hands. And the adults make no bones about it. If he fails, the world ends. There is no loving, guiding adult that makes everything better, like Harry Potter had in Dumbledore, and even in Sirius. There is only Ender: His witts, his intelligence, his ingenuity.
The story is so complex and the issues it confronts are so unimaginable. I still find myself thinking about it at night.
How could they put that burden on an 11-year-old kid?
How could they sacrifice him — his childhood, his mind, his morals — for the fate of the world?
Was it worth that?
And you see the consequences of this burden in Ender. You can tell he isn’t right in the head. I can only imagine the emotional and intellectual scarring that the situation caused.
The author does an *amazing* job of thinking all that through.
And the ending! Oh my geeze! There has not been a book in a *long* time that surprised me as much as this one. I never saw that coming in a million years.
This is one of the most complex, thought-out stories that I’ve ever read. There isn’t a lot of action, but it’s a purely story-driven read that will have you on the edge of your seat, wondering what happens when the fate of the world is in the hands of an 11-year-old boy.
It’s an amazing story.

Fried Summer Veggies

This dish reminds me of childhood summers. We always planted a vegetable garden, and we’d spend most evenings harvesting okra and squash and tomatoes.
My dad always made this for us in the summer. I remember looking forward to summer just so that I could have this dish.
We always called it “goulash” and growing up, I always thought goulash was deep fried veggies.
Of course, when I went to Prague in college and ordered goulash, I got a very different dish. I bet my face was priceless when they brought out real-life goulash.
So, to avoid any confusion, I’m calling this Fried Summer Veggies. But in my heart (and head!) it will always be goulash.
Fried Summer Veggies
Summer Squash
Corn Meal
Vegetable Oil
Cut up your veggies. Slice the okra and squash.
Cut the tomatoes and potatoes into small chunks.
Mix 1 cup flour with 2 cups corn meal. You may need to mix more if you have a lot of veggies. You’ll want enough to coat the veggies.
Beat the eggs in a small bowl. I used five eggs for the amount of veggies I had.
Put the cut up veggies in a large Ziploc bag.
Add the eggs and squish the bag around to coat the veggies with egg.
Add the corn meal mixture to the Ziploc bag and squish some more to coat the veggies.
Coat the bottom of a skillet with vegetable oil and heat it up.
Fry the coated veggies until golden.
Serve as a side dish to your favorite summer meal.
We served this with steaks hot off the grill.
So yummy!
Our favorite summer vegetables, breaded and deep fried for the perfect side dish. This recipe brings back memories of childhood summers out in the vegetable garden.

Review: Sisters Red

As you can probably tell from my blog, I have a thing for werewolves.
So, when I first heard about Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce, I knew this was a story I’d enjoy.
I mean, who doesn’t want to read about a pair of kick-ass sisters who hunt evil werewolves to save the girls in their city from vicious attacks?
“Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris–the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister, Rosie, from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and a blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She’s determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.
Rosie March once felt that her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls’ bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Scarlett’s only friend, Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax. But does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they’ve worked for?”- From the Jacket Copy

This is a story about love. 
The love between Scarlett and Rosie — a sisterly bond that should be unbreakable but is strained and tested as each sister wants something the other can’t fathom.
The love between Rosie and Silas — a blooming, innocent love that will test the ties between Rosie and Scarlett.
Scarlett’s love of the hunt — it’s what drives her, it’s her purpose in life. She can’t imagine any other way to live, and doesn’t understand why Rosie and Silas aren’t satisfied with that.
I really enjoyed the depth of the character development in this story. I could completely understand Scarlett’s point of view — I mean, the Fenris took her eye! Who *wouldn’t* want revenge? — but I felt so bad for Rosie, pulled into a life she doesn’t want to live, but feels obligated to do so.
The relationships between the characters were really well-developed, too. It was a very different twist on the whole love-triangle, with two girls and one boy. Very interesting dynamic.
And there’s action — boy, is there action. Scarlett is a killing machine and it was fun to see a strong female character with that kind of drive.
As much as I loved the characters, this is a *hard* story. It’s not an everyone goes home happy and rainbows grace the sky kind of story. So, be prepared for that.
But, if you’re looking for an action-packed plot featuring well-developed characters, this one is definitely for you.

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