Posted on September 18, 2016
As we enter the fall, the craziness of the school year is starting to both amp up and settle in all at the same time. We had a wild ride here during this past year’s school experience and even though it was a super rocky beginning and middle, the CoPilot ended up being as happy as he could be, and as he always does, coming through with style. So, please excuse the prolonged break as we dealt with everything moving schools and programs came with! It wasn’t our idea of a good time, but at least it ended well.
If you’ve watched us on Instagram, (we’re Nerdvanakingdom!) you’ve seen what an amazing summer we’ve had here! The CoPilot spent 2 weeks at Apple Camp, working again on iMovie and then working on coding (as well as robot programming!). NERD HEAVEN!
AND…as I wait for photos (the CoPilot isn’t great about offloading things and editing them! BAH!), you’ll just have to imagine what happened when the CoPilot went with the Other Half to visit family and ended up visiting Old Faithful and Mt. Rushmore…and went through Sturgis during the HUGE Bike Rally.
As for me, I spent the summer working…I went back to my old job, which was a blessing. Then, I ended up visiting New Jersey Devils Prospect Camp for the scrimmage, attending a day of Boston ComicCon, and going to a *gulp* BASEBALL GAME (ok, it was hockey night!) with the CoPilot.
As we settle in, here’s what’s on tap for you all to see-
- We’re heading BACK to New York Comic Con for the 2nd year, and we have 2 days of tickets. You never, ever know what will happen!
- HOCKEY SEASON! It’s kicking off with 2 pre season games at the Prudential Center, thanks to the Devils. CoPilot will be on the ice soon…and he’s not a bit excited. No. Not in the slightest…
- We’re starting a weekly podcast about life, the universe and everything as it relates to nerd life! We’ll talk games, Star Wars (oh, will we talk Star Wars), Disney, Avengers and generally everything nerdy. We <3 this stuff!
- Travel! Not only are we heading to NYC, we’re heading to Buffalo and a few other places for various things. We’ll be finding the nerdy along the way…so be ready!
We’re so glad to have you back along with us for the ride! Hang on. It’s going to be wild!
Posted on December 8, 2015
and have some interesting results.
We received product from Wyman’s of Maine to facilitate our baking endeavors. We received no other compensation. Plus, who else would well, you’ll see.
I love to bake, and the Co-Pilot, well, he helps when he feels like it and truly loves eating the results. So, when Wyman’s of Maine asked me to make something with their amazing frozen fruit (which I have to say, I adore…) it was to easy to say yes.
As I stood at the frozen food case, looking at my options, one thing stuck out at me (besides the mangoes-but that’s a normal addiction for me)-the fresh frozen cranberries.
I’ve got a soft spot for cranberry white chocolate ANYTHING. I also have a penchant for easy. It’s tough with the Co-Pilot eating it as fast as I make it…
So, I decided that the cranberries would be best served in a Cranberry White Chocolate chip bread. Easy to slice, easy to grab and go, and satisfies my cranberry-white chocolate stuff.
so, I got started. Broke out my trusty Kitchen Aid and set to work.
2 cups flour
3/4 cup white sugar
2 tbs oil
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup apple juice
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup Wyman’s Fresh Frozen Cranberries (you pick-whole or chopped-we went whole)
1 cup white chocolate chips
Fire up the oven to 350, cook for around an hour. We used the cranberries from frozen, so the hour was what we needed. If you take the cranberries from thawed, 45 minutes is more like it.
wait-no nuts? Nope. We’re nut allergic here in the Nerdvana. Put nuts in if you so choose…
I turned around to fire up the oven to 350, and I heard the unmistakeable sound of cranberries and chocolate chips hitting the bowl.
This is what I turned to find:
The Co-Pilot had dumped an ENTIRE BAG-12 OUNCES of cranberries…
an ENTIRE BAG (16 oz) of white chocolate chips.
There was no batter, there was no stuff..it was just filling. We tried to bake that…but it took (no joke) 2 hours and was a complete disaster. I’m usually of the opinion that more filling is better, but in this case, well. Yeah. No.
So, we fired up for round 2.
The bread was BEAUTIFUL out of the oven, it was…perfect.
(yes, that was an hour in the oven. I was told it was a “perfect loaf” by my friend who is a baker in her former life…
I set it out to cool so I could get some mouthwatering shots…and I went to bed after loosely covering it.
and I came downstairs in the morning to find the following:
Courtesy of the Co-Pilot.
BUT, he redeemed himself later in the day, making this loaf and taking this beautiful photo.
This recipe is so easy and tastes phenomenal when you are in the mood for a sweet/sour combo. It’s got a great hit of tang from the sweet, amazing cranberries and then the smooth sweet of the white chocolate. Great for desert or just pretending you want a healthy morning….
Posted on December 4, 2015
It’s no secret we’re HUGE, HUGE fans of Put Me In The Story!
On top of it, this weekend, they’re having a HUGE Star Wars sale! Their latest book, The Force Inside not only has a light and dark side, but is just amazing.
Shh..Don’t tell Co-Pilot. We’re hiding it for him for Christmas!
For this weekend ONLY…there’s an amazing sale. 50% off of Star Wars books ALL WEEKEND…Seriously. ALL WEEKEND.
Use the code FORCE to get it!
Oh, and if you want to see exactly HOW to do a Put Me in the Story book, here’s how you do it all….
Posted on October 17, 2015
Remember when I said we were heading to #NYCC15? Yeah.That. The Co-Pilot and I were two of 167,000 people who crowded into Javits Center for the event. Yes, you saw that number right. 167,000! It was insane, it was crazy, I almost lost my parenting mind a few times, but man, was it fun.
Let’s just show you the day in photos…
The calm before the storm at the hotel…
Pass on, backpack on (to carry all of the stuff), ready to roll!
The two of us…ready to completely rock #NYCC15
First stop, Hallmark for the Convention Exclusive Itty Bittys. Yes, Co-Pilot got his own set this year after stealing mine last year!
Han Solo in Carbonite Itty Bitty Close up! Pretty cool!
Yes, this was a no brainer to buy. These suckers make me giggle.
Then, we went and found….TENTACLE KITTY!
and we visited with John, the creator! THERE IS A MOVIE COMING! AHHHH!!!!
yes, we adopted a “Little One.” Gotta Have one to hang with Ninja Kitty!
WE FOUND GAMBIT!
and it became an X-Men meet up!
Best line of the day: “HEY! Little Wolverine! Right here!”
We sat in a Mega Bloks version of the Star Trek Captain’s Chair! This sucker moved, it made noise and was insanely cool.
Check the Shell Raiser! More Mega Bloks!
Then, Co-Pilot tried the new Final Fantasy game from Square Enix, one of my favorite game publishers. He had a blast! He can’t wait for the game to come out in January.
Then, we took a break.
Nothing like snacks, watching a Street Fighter tournament and then a frozen strawberry lemonade. It was a good, needed break.
During this break, we met this amazing Cosplayer…
HI LEFT SHARK!!! (I had a good laugh with this one. Co-Pilot did too..)
Correct me if I’m wrong, but this Asassin’s Creed Cosplay was amazing and the duel between the two of them was EPIC.
And that was a lunch duel. We were hungry. Korean food for the win!
We went to the Nickelodeon booth, spun the prize wheel, and the Co Pilot won this Spongebob Squarepants Mega Bloks figure! Too much fun! I won a Ninja Turtle Toothbrush….hehe!
Check out these amazing Cosplays from 5 Nights at Freddy’s. Co-Pilot is all about this game. Maybe I should go play it…
We LOVE We Bare Bears.
Trying out the new YO-Kai Watch game! FUN!
OOH! Snack Time! Star Wars M&Ms!
and then the Slap happy shuttle ride to the train station….
(Hey ReedPop and NYCC! Make it more organized next year! Don’t nearly incite a riot!)
Then , dinner at Penn Station from Chickpea-Hey-we have to have our Schwarma!
and a good time was had by all. Sleeping on the train. The only way to go…
That’s a wrap for the Nerdvana Kingdom team at NYCC! Will we be back next year? We’ll see…
Posted on October 3, 2015
Co-Pilot and I are heading to New York ComicCon in just under 2 weeks. We’re excited…and I’m scared, but that’s a whole other story. BUT the main thing is we had to pick out costumes for our day (we only got single day passes. That was my choice.) at Javits Center.
I had a few requirements for the costumes. They went as follows:
- They are packable and easy to get on the train. There are new restrictions on baggage on Amtrak and I didn’t want to run afoul of them.
- They’re comfortable. Nothing is worse than bouncing around Javits with uncomfortable clothing or restricted sight.
- It’s wearable for the entire day. There will be no stripping off of parts.
I thought so.
I gave these 3 simple rules to Co-Pilot as he asked what we should dress as. He SEEMED on board…
and then the insanity started. The first costume he asked for was…
Yeah. First, how was I supposed to build this short of paper mache or serious sewing? Good luck finding it pre made. Plus, if it’s Paper Mache, do you know what would happen?
This is how THIS conversation about Doctor Engman went:
Co-Pilot: “I want to be Doctor Engman.”
Co-Pilot: “Yep. Doctor Eggman is really cool. Can you make that for me?”
Me: “Do you have any idea what’s going to happen halfway through the day at Javits center? I’m going to end up carrying it. Seriously. No. Dude! I’m not carrying that through Javits Center!’
(insert him walking away thinking.)
Fast forward to an hour later….
Co-Pilot: “Mom! Can I be Robin from Teen Titans Go?”
Me: “Sounds good. We can do that.”
Co-Pilot “Ok, so I need his staff…”
me: “NO. Dude! I am NOT carrying that around Javits Center when you get tired of it!”
(he walks away again)
Are we starting to see a trend here? Yeah, me too.
At one point, he even extolled the virtues of bag check. Yeah, I’m not paying for bag check to hold a staff or a large ovoid body. He had to stick to the rules of costuming, especially for ComicCon.
Off to the costume store we went, where we spent a good 20 minutes wandering around, with the Co-Pilot deep in thought. Very deep in thought.
I went and messed around with the Star Wars section. I was quite undecided on my costume, but hey-what can you do? I’m an indecisive girl.
As I was debating between a Kylo Ren (I’m intrigued by the guy…) and a Jedi robe, I heard the characteristic, excited clomp of the Co-Pilot.
Co-Pilot: “I HAVE IT!”
Co-Pilot: “MY COSTUME!!”
I sent him off to the dressing room to try it on. He’s a small kid, so I wasn’t sure if we should grab the large or the medium…
in his muscle chested, yellow and blue glory. Claws and all.
I looked at said costume and did my criteria check.
- No parts I have to carry.
- mask with sight lines
- Comfortable and good with sneakers.
We checked out and I promptly stashed said costume so it wouldn’t get worn around the house prior to #NYCC!
Now..the photos of the Co-Pilot in costume and me in costume will come later. BUT, if you see a small boy in a Wolverine outfit and a Mom in something r2-d2 related…come say hi! We’d LOVE to meet you!
Posted on October 2, 2015
One of the best times here is MOVIE NIGHT! So, it was with great delight that I was able to chat with Suzette Vale, the author of the new, INTERACTIVE WORKBOOK (!) geared to kids (and big ones too..) called 101 Movies To See Before You Grow Up ! We love the book here and have been working our way through the movies on the list-and there are a bunch I’ve never seen-which floors me, because my one class in undergrad was almost a film appreciation class!
1.How did you choose the movies for the book?
Admittedly, narrowing the list to 101 movies was rather daunting! Logically, I started by asking my own grown kids to make a list of their favorite films. Of course, I didn’t expect to see some of the films they listed: “Hercules,” “The Emperor’s New Groove,” or “Pocahontas.” All great films, of course, but it made me think that I needed a more formal strategy. After that, I researched lists of children’s films that already exist: the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the American Film Institute, the British Film Institute, and the National Film Registry. Cross-referencing the movies on these lists helped me reduce it from thousands to hundreds of movies. I also consulted websites and books by film critics I respect like the late Roger Ebert, Leonard Maltin and Nell Minow (Movie Mom). This all sounds a lot easier than it was. It took hours and hours of reading! Finally, I contacted Nell Minow and she graciously looked over the list and offered me her valuable opinion about it!
- Why are these movies so important to see before we “grow up?”
Not all the movies in this book are “important” per se, some are a significant part of our pop-culture, while other movies in the book are mainstream films that have a special place in our culture – merchandise, attractions, Halloween costumes, and some of the movies are even shown in classrooms. However, a movie like “Toy Story” is very important because it introduced us to the first full-length feature film entirely in CGI, and this film changed the animation industry forever!
- Define “grow up”
Becoming an adult at 18 is commonly held as the moment a child grows up. Then there are those, like Peter Pan, who refuse to grow up! Joking aside, watching these films through the eyes of a child allows the magic of these movies to take place. It’s this aspect that we’re trying to address with the term “grow up.”
I hope the following anecdote will help illustrate my point.
I won’t soon forget feeling awful after telling a 9-year-old boy that I had done a voice over for a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” cartoon. I showed him the short video of the cartoon first, and then I asked him if he knew that it was real people speaking in the cartoons. He looked at me with the biggest eyes and blank stare which told me he didn’t know what I was talking about. So I showed him the video taken of me at the Nickelodeon Booth at Comic-Con this year. I stood with headphones and a microphone (talking as Michelangelo) with Rob Paulsen (who voices Donatello)standing next to me. Of course, after seeing both the humans and the cartoons saying and sounding the same, he got it. “How cool!” he said. And that made me feel better about spoiling his magic.
- When you were thinking about including documentaries, Why Super Size Me versus Bowling for Columbine? (Publisher is mentioned here)
It was simply due to the “R” rating of “Bowling for Columbine” that kept this and many other worthy films off the list; the publisher excluded all “R” rated films from the book. I also selected “Super Size Me” because the rate of obesity of children in this country is alarming, and I couldn’t find a better way for kids to get the message about making better food choices than this film. I recall the day my daughter came home after watching this documentary in middle school and declared, “I’m never eating junk food again!” That was music to my home-cooking mom ears!
- We love that you included foreign films, such as Life is Beautiful and My Neighbor, Totoro. Was there any extra criteria to get a foreign language film on the list?
There are so many fantastic foreign films that I thought would be great for kids to see, but most of them are a little obscure in our culture. The foreign films I selected are, for the most part, award-wining foreign films that crossed over into American cinema. Limiting myself to these types of films also made the selection process more manageable. Imagine the bounty of films each country in the world has to offer! In reality, there are only a few films that are able to transcend borders and reach people in other parts of globe including the USA.
- You included some historically questionable movies on the list-like Pearl Harbor. Why? What was the reasoning behind a movie that was so widely critically panned for its historical inaccuracy being included in the book next to amazing Oscar winners?
101 Movies is not simply a list of award-winning films, though “Pearl Harbor” did win an Oscar. This book attempts to have a broad variety of movies which not only entertain, but also have some value in watching them. “Pearl Harbor” has inaccuracies, as many historical films tend to do, because filmmaker’s are allowed some artistic liberties. Furthermore, this particular film was not billed as factual or as a historical account of this moment in time. But it does, however, offer a look into what it might have been like to be alive on that infamous day in history!
- The workbook format was really exciting! What was the thought behind making it more of a workbook style book versus a compendium/guide?
I wish I had come up with the idea for the interactive workbook, but I didn’t. The publisher came up with the idea of making this an interactive book – which I thought was brilliant! I simply executed this aspect of the book according to the publisher’s guidelines.
- The Co-Pilot was excited to see movies that I watched at his age. Was there an effort to have movies that parents may have loved at different ages pop up on the list? (I’m an 80’s kid, so seeing The Karate Kid on the list-and the ORIGINAL version made me all giggly.)
I’m so glad that the Co-Pilot noticed that! Yes, of course I made an effort to give parents a chance to be cool for their kids. “The Karate Kid” is an iconic film, and for us 80s kids it taught us a thing or two. Speaking of learning, I was impressed to find out that Elisabeth Shue took time off her studies at Harvard to film this. She was LaRusso’s girlfriend, Ali Mills, and it was her film debut!
Also, what’s more 80s than John Hughes, right? “Ferris Beuller’s Day Off” and “Pretty in Pink” also made the list! There are plenty of movies in this book you can introduce to your kids, and add your personal experience while watching with them. Oh, and please tell the Co-Pilot that like in “The Karate Kid,” doing chores is a good thing. *wink*
- Which one of the 101 movies is your favorite, and why?
This is a tough question, and it’s often asked. It’s impossible for me to name a single favorite movie out of the 101 in this book. I can tell you that there’s only a few I’ve watched several times because they’re special or nostalgic for me: “Mary Poppins,” “The Lion King,” “Star Wars,” “Aladdin,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “Harry Potter,” and “Iron Man” have top-shelf billing in my home!
- Were there any movies you wanted to include, but didn’t make the 101 cut?
There were many movies that had to be left for another possible book. “Hairspray” and “Grease” are good examples of films everyone loves, but didn’t earn a page in the book. I’m sure you can name a few films that you think should be in this book, too, and you have your reasons for thinking they have merit. Movies do this to us. Some touch us deeply, while others may make us disagree over the point or the plot. But one thing is consistent about films: they let us escape from our reality for a couple of hours and introduce us to places, people and things we couldn’t have imagined before watching them!
Thank you, Suzette for answering our questions and even making my 80’s heart squee with gladness!
So. are you intrigued? This book is a lot of fun and the real deal! Want your own copy? Win one right here!
Here’s what you do:
Leave a comment telling me the one movie you’d put on your 101 Movies list and why…and we’ll pick a winner to receive their own copy on 10/9, just before the Co-Pilot and I leave for New York ComicCon!
Posted on September 11, 2015
Add those two things together and you get one mind blown Laura!
So, this morning, I was up before my roomies at Blogalicious, and since I didn’t want to wake them, I wandered down to the Inner Harbor East Starbucks.
Yes, I found a Green Beacon.
It was here, I had my mind completely blown.
First, the store is a Black Apron store-you can choose your espresso shots and they not only have a Clover (if you have the means..get a clover brewed coffee. Nothing like it.), but they have a….
This little beauty is one of 2 or 3 (My fearless Barista, Julian, wasn’t sure.) in the United States. And it seriously sciences your coffee.
The siphon makes a more mild bodied coffee, so you taste more of the top notes. It’s a lighter cup of coffee and takes a lot of the bitter out. This means when someone says “Oh, the coffee has vanilla and toffee notes…” using the siphon, you tend to taste more of those flavors.
So, since I was lucky…I was able to see it in action since a fellow customer ordered a Siphon Brewed Coffee-and Julian was all about letting me take photos!
So, without further ado, here is how you SCIENCE your coffee.
First, you fill your bottom pot with water and put it on a halogen light.
The positive pressure as the water boils sends it upward into the top “cup.”
When the top “cup” is full, you stir in the coffee. This one happens to be a Tanzania Mondull from the Reserve menu.
Once the coffee is stirred in, remove coffee from the heat of the halogen bulb burner. The negative pressure of the cooling pulls the coffee downward into the pot.
Note the dome of grounds in the top cup. According to Julian:
“You know you’re doing it right when you get that dome!”
And that, my friends, is how you SCIENCE your coffee.
a special thanks to Julian and the Partners at Inner Harbor East for allowing me to take photos of the siphon brewer and process and not think I was too weird all at the same time. What a great store! Go visit if you’re in town!
Posted on September 10, 2015
Anyone who’s been around with me knows that I attract some of the wackiest experiences. When you travel (or even go to the movies) with me, nothing is ever boring.
So, I’m on the way to Blogalicious 2015 and since it was close enough, I decided to take the train and save myself the experience of dealing with TSA. Yes, TSA and I have a long and sordid relationship. It’s either 100% smart people or 100% please hand me a spoon to take my eyeballs out with.
I took the train from home to NYC and from NYC to Baltimore. Not bad. Not bad. Better than driving. Especially since I wouldn’t have to deal with DC traffic.
As always the train to Penn Station in New York was uneventful (except for the time they had to reboot the train. Still confused on how that’s a thing, but that’s a whole other story for a whole other day..), and changing trains in the circus that is Penn Station was…a new experience for me.
But the train to Baltimore was where the real fun began.
I decided to sit in the Quiet Car. This is a car dedicated to SILENCE. The lights are low, the rules state that you must keep conversations at a whisper level as well as take any calls in another car. You also may not use anything with sound without headphones. It is a joy to ride in this car. Honestly. A JOY.
At the beginning of the trip, they make an announcement as to the rules of quiet car. There’s no question about WHICH car it is, what the rules are or what the deal is. It’s simple.
Things were going silently until everyone in the car heard a very loud phone go off. The owner of said phone picked up and started having a very loud conversation about what he had for breakfast, what a meeting was about and other details that the entire car could hear.
We gave him the HUGE stare down until he got up and started to exit the car. He then asked the following question:
“So, is this the quiet car? The entire car is quiet?”
The entire car gave him the side eye.
A few people reminded him that it, in fact, was the quiet car.
He than came out with this gem:
“Oh, I thought it was just under that sign over there.”
He pointed to the sign at the end of the car.
I had had it by this point. I looked at him and said: “No. The entire car is quiet. Not just those 4 seats.”
Eye roll and huff out of the car with his phone to take his loud, pancake eating for breakfast self somewhere else.
Then, with a flourish, he promised his seat mate “I’m not leaving. I’ll be back.”
Hopefully the trip back will be less eventful.
Posted on August 26, 2015
It is truly well known that we are a huge hockey family. From about September/October to May-ish (sometimes June) we’re in a hockey rink.
What’s a little bit less known is that we’re also a CHEER family.
I see the confusion. Co-Pilot is a boy…and wait. I said Cheer.
So, here’s how it all started:
It was summer. We were desperate to find something for the Co-Pilot to do. Hockey had just ended and he had a huge amount of energy. We were going out of our brains with the kid bouncing off the walls and camp not starting for another week.
It was then he made what we’ve dubbed one of his “life changing announcements.”
“I want to do a back flip.”
Ok. sure. A BACK FLIP?! that means gymnastics.
oh Lord, Oh, help, oh god. GYMNASTICS.
It was then the stroke of luck hit us. A friend of mine’s two daughters were tagged as “Tumbling at the Hub!” and I see video of them and all of these kids of all ages and abilities tumbling. I messaged her and found out that it was part of an All-Star Cheerleading gym-Triple Threat!
I took a huge, deep, angst-filled breath and called the number on the website and told the head of the gym everything about Co-Pilot. I gave him a list of his quirks-and as I am with everyone, I was very, bluntly honest about what he was and wasn’t.
It was a blessing to hear the following:
“Bring him on! We can’t wait to have him as a part of our family!!”
So, out he came and started tumbling. It was then that we were asked if we’d ever considered putting him on a team…
I had my standard, but true, excuse.
“We really can’t. We have hockey.”
That was countered with: “We have mid season teams! We have lots of kids who do other sports…Plus, Boys are free for their first season.”
The next week I was at the hockey rink after the decision and the agreement that Co-Pilot really wanted to do this, and I had a parent hear that we were putting him in cheer and she said the following:
“What are you doing to him?! Are you trying to make him the laughing stock? Don’t put any of that on Facebook. He won’t ever forgive you. It’s a sport for girls, if you can call it a sport.”
My son is strong, competitive, and is thriving with the other guys in the Hub. He is well loved by his coaches and ALMOST has that coveted back flip.
Even when his uniform is SLIGHTLY too big because, as newbies, we didn’t know we had to alter it! (you bet it got altered the next day…)
has placed in a few competitions
as well as has some strong, fearless guys as mentors.
And we’ve learned this:
Cheer is more than pom poms and rah-rahs. It’s teamwork, competition and life skills.
We have a boy who cheers. We’re proud of it. What of it?
Posted on August 25, 2015
Today I got an email from one of the amazing coaches from Co-Pilot’s team about a tournament that the team usually attends.
Sadly, I had to tell him that Co-Pilot wouldn’t be attending…because we’re heading to NYC for COMICCON 2015!!
Hey-I went through heck to get those tickets! We’re NOT giving those suckers up!!
BUT, you know what this means?!
NERD SEASON IS ALMOST UPON US!
and getting ready for more super hero movies than I can shake a stick at!
Mid year cheer!
and the inevitable GEAR FASHON SHOW.
Hold on…I’m excited!