Friday, December 9, 2016

Dorky Dates: Hogswatch Celebration

     You may be wondering what Hogswatch is all about, and I don't blame you. Up until 2006, I had never heard of Sir Terry Pratchett or any of his amazing books. Then a dear friend of mine handed me her copy of Equal Rites, a book about a girl who is bestowed the mantel of wizard in a world where women are witches and only men hold the title of wizard. It was one of Sir Pratchett's shortest books, but it packed a very funny punch from the moment you learn that a town called Bad Ass is named after a very stubborn mule to the very end. And if Unseen University seems a bit like Hogwarts, just keep in mind that Sir Pratchett's book came out in 1987, making him very clever, indeed, for stealing the idea of Hogswarts so many years before Ms. Rowling would write about it. (Please don't get mad at me. I am a fan of both the Discworld and Harry Potter. I just want it understood that Sir Pratchett wrote this many years before Harry Potter was even imagined. I get very sick and upset to know that there was ever a media feud started up between the two because I love them both.)

     Okay, Debra, but Equal Rites doesn't tell us anything about Hogswatch! True, but it's worth mentioning because it is how I got into the writings of Terry Pratchett, and boy was he prolific. After that fateful access to a new world full of rich, diverse, and hysterical characters, I began to devour Sir Pratchett's work.

     If you know anything about Sir Pratchett's work, you know that the character of Death is in every (or almost every, I'm not sure) book. He is a tall, skeletal figure, carrying a scythe and filled with good intentions. He first appears as a more "fleshed" out character in Mort, where he takes on an apprentice and introduces the young man to his adopted daughter. From there, you can follow Death and his family through Reaper Man and Soul Music. His story finally culminates in the fantastic book Hogfather, where Death takes on the role of a Santa Claus-like figure known as the Hogfather to save the Discworld with the help of his granddaughter.

     I cannot begin to tell you how much I love the Death series of books. The four book series is my favorite among all of Sir Pratchett's extensive work. Reaper Man and Hogfather are my two favorites among the Death series. But if you force me to make a choice, I'm going to have to pick Hogfather by a very thin margin, and it all has to do with the BBC movie.

     First of all, Sir Pratchett makes a cameo in the film as the toy maker. Secondly, it is a really great adaptation of the novel. Only minor changes are made, and you'd have to really be a big nerd who's read the book a million times to catch them (ahem). Third, Michelle Dockery (from Downtown Abby) plays Susan Sto Helit, and she truly embodies the inner babysitter. Forth, David Jason (the voice of Count Duckula) plays Albert, the most foul elf to ever help deliver toys. Fifth, the delightful cast of misfits, including Banjo, Bilious the oh god of hangovers, Corporal Knobbs, Ponder Stibbons, Ridcully, the Tooth Fairy, Bogey Men, the and the Verruca Gnome. And last, but certainly not least, Marc Warren as Jonathan Teatime. Who is Marc Warren? He was Elton Pope in one of my favorite episodes of Dr. Who called "Love & Monsters" (2006).

     I'm sorry if I've gone on for a bit, but I really do love this movie, the book, Sir Terry Pratchett, and the whole of the Discoworld. I am forever in gratitude to my friend for introducing me to this world, and if I can share the experience, then I can pay it forward.

This date may run a little more expensive than some of the other dates we've shared. Unless you are me or some huge fan of Sir Pratchett, you may not have a copy of Hogfather, If this is the case, you may be able to catch it on television around the holidays (the first time I saw it was on cable one Christmas Eve) and plan your date accordingly. If not, then you might want to purchase a copy here. Or if you're lucky, you may be able to find it at your local library. The only other expense will be the food, and we went all out for this pseudo-holiday feast. We made hot cocoa with homemade marshmallows and pork pies (made with gluten-free crust) with gluten-free mustard and relish.

Who Would Enjoy It
This is a really fun date for a couple or a whole family, especially if you throw in some holiday decorating while enjoying the movie and the delicious fare.

What You May Need
  • Hot chocolate or other favorite holiday beverage
  • Pork pies with favorite pork pie condiments, be it mustard and relish, mustard and chutney, or mushy peas and mint sauce
  • Napkins
  • Sherry* (optional, but traditional to leave out for the Hogfather)
  • A copy of Hogfather
  • Comfortable places to sit or lay down
  • Favorite device for watching movies
  • Favorite holiday decorations

Getting Comfy
You really need to think comfort when you settle in for a movie, especially if you going to a warm and cozy holiday atmosphere. You need a place to sit or lay for every person who plans to indulge in the activity. It is also important to have a clean house, especially if you plan to decorate, as this will make decorating far more enjoyable.

Special Considerations
  • While we had hot chocolate and pork pies (pork pies are traditional on Hogswatch), you may want to consider different food that reminds you of your favorite holiday. We tend to do this date in late November/early December, so we can decorate our house for Christmas, so having traditional Hogswatch food does not take away from our normal Christmas foods. We may also want to consider whether you want to pig out and eat all types of bad food, or do you want to make healthier versions of your favorite treats? We tried to strike a balance, keeping to gluten free crust and mustard and making everything from scratch, but we did ingest a lot of sugar with the hot chocolate and the marshmallows. You may also want to decide if you're going to make the food before or during the movie. We made it during, simply because of time constraints, but I would have loved to have sat down and watched the whole thing.
  • The second consideration is if you do decide to make pork pies, you may want to make your pork ahead of time. We cooked out pork in the slow cooker the night before and shredded it the day of. You may also want to make the marshmallow ahead of time, so that it sets properly. We made it for the video, so it did not have time to set properly. Normally we would have made them the night before.
  • The third consideration is etiquette and rules. Will you pause movies for bathroom breaks? Will you pause for discussions, or will people be encouraged to keep their mouths shut during the movies? If you want people to stay quiet, will their be a time for discussion after the movie or during the credits?
  • The fourth consideration is to think about taking a slight break between the first and second part up and move around. This movie was made for British television and is a little over three hours long, so taking a break is advised.
  • The fifth consideration is to decide if you will decorate during the movie. If so, make sure to have your decorations ready to go out. Make sure you have a clean house, or at least, a clean room for decorating. Even if you enjoy watching movies in the dark, you may want to have some light source while decorating, so that no one gets hurt.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Geek Family Kitchen: Nerdy Christmas Shirts

     Have you ever looked at Christmas shirts and thought, "These aren't for me. These are too cute/too ugly/too normal. Where are the Christmas shirts that depict my fandom? Where are my nerdy Christmas shirts?!"

     Well, I have some good news and some bad news. You may not be able to find your fandom represented in a fun and Christmas-y way, but with a plain shirt, a bit of fabric paint, and some fun fan art, you can make your own.

What You'll Need:
T-shirts or sweat shirt (preferably plain)
Shirt board or cardboard to place inside shirt
Washable fabric pencil to mark design on shirt
Fan art (preferably Christmas-y) Paint brushes Acrylic paint or fabric paint Fabric medium* (*optional: use only if you are using acrylic paint to turn it into fabric paint) Parchment paper

1. Wash shirt and dry without using fabric softener.

2. Place shirt board or cardboard into shirt, so back of shirt does not absorb paint and layers don't get stuck together.

3. Transfer fan art onto shirt using washable fabric pencil.

4. Paint design on shirt. If you use fabric paint, you will not need to alter the paint, but if you use acrylic paint, you will need to mix it with fabric medium according to the directions stated on the bottle.

5. Allow shirt to dry before removing from shirt board. You may want to occasionally lift the drying front off the board slights to ensure the fabric does NOT stick to the board.

6. Enjoy your Christmas shirt.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Dorky Date: Tron Marathon & Arcade Food

     Ah, the '80's. We had so much fun back then, going to arcades, spending all of our quarters to play video games. The big arcade where I grew up was in a shopping mall near the food court, so you could get any food you wanted, but there were smaller arcades around that were in bowling alleys, and we even had a diner that had a few arcade cases. I don't remember ever going to an arcade that was a dedicated arcade building, but I know there were some. I loved arcade games, even though I wasn't very good at them. I especially loved watching other people play, so when Tron came out, it seemed perfect for me. I remember watching it with my dad and really loving the whole feel of the movie, even if I didn't necessarily understand the plot at the time. This date mixes the nostalgia of the original Tron, the excitement of the newer Tron Legacy, and the deliciousness of arcade/bowling alley food for a fun date night in.

This date can be relatively cheap if you already own both Tron movies. An alternative is to check them out at your local library or rent them from your favorite service. If you buy them, it will be a bit more expensive, but then you can replicate this date whenever you please. The other expense will of course be the food which can range from cheap hot dogs and fries to more expensive organic, grass-fed all-beef hot dogs (which I strongly recommend). We made our own curly fries using a spiralizing attachment on our Kitchen Aid and a couple of sweet potatoes.

Who Would Enjoy It
While Ray and I were the only ones on this date, it could also be interesting for a family movie marathon night or a group. Just make sure you have plenty of comfortable seating for all invited and a variety of condiments, so people can customize their own hot dogs.

What You May Need
  • Your favorite hot dogs
  • French fries, potatoes, or sweet potatoes
  • Condiments
  • Napkins
  • Your favorite beverage, sodas would be customary
Movie Marathon:
  • A copy of Tron and Tron Legacy
  • Comfortable places to sit or lay down
  • Favorite device for watching movies

Getting Comfy
You really need to think comfort when you settle in for a movie marathon. You need a place to sit or lay for every person who plans to indulge in the activity. We put mattresses, pillows, and blankets on the floor near the couches, so we could sit or lay down, according to our desire at the time. This also afforded us plenty of room to wallow and change positions. If you include children in the marathon, make sure they have something to do if they get bored of watching the movies.

Special Considerations
  • While we had hot dogs and curly fries, you may want to consider different foods that remind you of the fare you would indulge in at an arcade. Would you rather have hamburgers, chilly dogs, nachos, onion rings, pizza slices? Are you going to take this time to pig out and eat all types of bad food, or do you want to make healthier versions of your favorite treats? Will you interrupt your marathon to make food, or do you want to prepare meals ahead of time?
  • The second consideration is movie marathon etiquette and rules. Will you pause movies for bathroom breaks? Will you pause for discussions, or will people be encouraged to keep their mouths shut during the movies? If you want people to stay quiet, will their be a time for discussion after the movie or during the credits? Will you watch the special features or wait until a different time when you're just watching one movie? Will you watch the movie with the commentary?
  • The third consideration is to think about taking a slight break between the two movies to get up and move around. Remember that a movie marathon is about the journey, not the destination.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Geek Family Kitchen: Gluten-Free Cupcakes

It's so hard for my kids to be invited to a birthday party and pass on the cupcakes, but when they give in and eat them, they end up feeling terrible. These cupcakes are not only fun and tasty, but they are inspired by the cupcake from Five Nights at Freddy's. Sadly, I forgot how best to make icing that is not full of junky ingredients, so the icing did not turn out too pretty, but it was still delicious! These cupcakes are gluten and refined sugar free, but they are still moist and chocolaty. Enjoy!

Makes about 5 large cupcakes or 10 regular sized cupcakes.


1/2 cup coconut flour

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

4 eggs

3 1/2 oz. dark chocolate, melted (to keep it paleo, get the best dark chocolate you can afford)

1/2 cup honey

1 cup strawberry puree

1 Tbs. vanilla extract

2 Tbs. coconut milk

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. baking soda


1/3 cup coconut milk, cold

1 Tbs. beet juice

1/4 cup honey

6 Tbs. coconut oil

1/4 cup ghee


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Use silicon cupcakes wrappers, or grease a muffin tin.

2. To Make Cupcake: Thoroughly combine coconut flour, sea salt, and baking soda.

3. Add in coconut oil, eggs, dark chocolate, honey, strawberry puree, vanilla, and coconut milk. Mix well.

4. Fill cupcake cups about 2/3's of the way full.

5. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes (this will largely depend on what size cupcake you make) or until a toothpick can be inserted into the center of the cupcake and come out clean.

6. To Make Icing: Add coconut oil and ghee to microwave safe bowl. Heat on low for about 30 seconds. Check. Continue to microwave on low at 10 second intervals until melted. Do not boil.

7. Add beet juice, coconut milk, and honey while whisking. Once it is smooth, place in the refrigerator while cupcakes cool (about 15 minutes).

8. Mix icing once more. Ice cupcakes. This is more of a glaze than a frosting, so the icing will melt into the cupcakes, making them even more moist and delicious.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Halloween Costume Reveal 2016: Five Nights at Freddy's

We worked so hard on these costumes, and I think they turned out to be awesome! We had so much fun, and they took months to make. We really had a great day of costumes and fun. This was during our Whole 30 (day 29, to be exact), but we still had a blast! And we scared a few kids and got recognized as Five Nights at Freddy's characters. I can't wait until Fanatacon when we get to wear these again!

If you want to see our Whole 30, I've created a playlist here.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Geek Family Kitchen: Minecraft Dragon Eggs

This craft was a lot of fun. Victor always has some fun ideas concerning how he would make video games, and when it comes to Minecraft, he has many, including this one: to make a dragon's egg from a chicken egg and an Eye of Ender.

What You'll Need:
Chicken eggs (we used 4)
Knife (if you want to cut one egg in half for a hatched egg)
Baby nasal aspirator (optional, if you don't want to put your mouth on the egg)
Slick black paint
Metallic purple paint
Paint brushes

1. To cut an egg in half for a hatched egg, place an egg on its side in a pan with a paper towel. Saw steadily with a knife until it splits in two. (This actually works!)

2. To blow out eggs, tap a small hole into the top of the egg and a larger hole into the bottom. Scramble the contents of the egg, then blow the contents out.

3. Wash eggs gently to remove residual egg contents and allow to dry.

4. Once dry, paint to eggs to look like Minecraft dragon eggs. Use as decorations or as cascarones.

For the instructions to the Eye of Ender, become a Patron and receive that and many more patterns and fun things!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Geek Family Kitchen: FNAF Pumpkin Carving

     I love Halloween. I love all things Halloween. I also love Five Nights at Freddy's, especially the Marionette. That's why Lydia and I decided to carve the Marionette into a pumpkin.

     There is nothing better than spending time with people you love in ways that don't always involve food. And crafting is one our absolute favorites.

What You'll Need:

Newspaper or towels to protect your surface and for easy cleanup



Masking tape


Carving tools


Craft glue

Purple glitter

Red glitter

Black paint



1. Cut an access hole in your pumpkin.

2. Scoop "guts" out and clean pumpkin up.

3. Tape pattern down.

4. Poke holes around pattern lines to make a guide for your carving.

5. Cut out parts you want hollow.

6. Peel off parts you want semi-opaque.

7. Leave other parts solid.

8. Paint glue on the parts you want to be purple, and sprinkle purple glitter.

9. Paint glue on the parts you want to be red, and sprinkle red glitter.

10. Paint parts you want black with black paint.

11. Place candle in pumpkin and light for good, clean Halloween fun!