April 29, 2004

Tangerine Dreams

Click on the image for a alternative view.

Behold my Chucks!

I have never owned a pair of Converse before. Yes, I am part of the generation that brought Chucks into fashion. But somehow I missed the boat. (That happened a lot growing up.) So my Matty got me these. Aren't they delish!

I [heart] Cons. Especially Tang Cons.

Posted by Nanc at 09:19 AM | Comments (1)

April 23, 2004

Thrift Score! The Worst Gift Ever

On Sunday, I found the worst gift ever to be donated to a thrift store!

Think of the worst gift you've ever received. Now double it, brace yourself and take a look.

Nanc and I did a mini-thrift expedition on Sunday afternoon. There are certain things that you always keep an eye out for, ummm... PEZ, and cool clocks, and atari games.... you know -- good stuff. Then in the books section, there was a shining light, and I spied the book pictured below, titled "Open Marriage: A New Life Style For Couples." Oh, how I needed to pick up this book!

I wasn't sure... I knew that the title could be totally innocuous, and be about sharing your feelings with your spouse (who wants a closed marriage??). Happily the book is exactly what you think it's about. I haven't read enough of it to determine if key parties are discussed, but it's right about the same time period.

This book, by itself, is totally entertaining. Ephemeral topics and fantastic title make this book truly a thrift score. But wait, there's more!

You see, the book was a gift. From a daughter, to her parents.

I am probably a prude, but here's the deal. I have this scene in my head, and I've been trying to convert this sequence to paper (or poorly-written HTML as it may be). Take a look at the inscription below, while I work on this.

Christmas 1972

Dear Mother and Daddy,

I truly hope that you will find at least a little value out of this book. As an observer to your marriage of 24 years, I can see many of the elements of open marriage in your relationship. However, perhaps there is something here which will help you to understand yourselves beter and also help each one of us as we individularry make the step into our own marriages. I love you both and pray that my own marriage (if there is one for me) will be as good as yours is.

God bless you and your relationship.

Love, Dotty

So here's what might've happened...

Scene opens on a lovely Christmas morning. Gifts are being exchanged in brightly-colored papers in an upper-middle class home. MOTHER, FATHER and daughter, DOTTY are sitting on davenport in front of a decorated- Christmas tree. The vibe is tres Connecticut.

DOTTY: (opening gift box excitedly) Oh thank you, I've been eyeing this polyester jumpsuit for months. It matches my fondue set and my moon boots! Polyester truly is the fabric of the future!

FATHER: (removing pipe --tobacco, not crack from mouth) We knew you'd like it. Paisley is going to be very big this year.

DOTTY: Watch the pipe, Dad. Remember, polyester's not only hot, it's highly flammable.

DOTTY, FATHER and MOTHER all laugh.

DOTTY: Actually, I have a gift for both of you too.

Dotty hands over a small wrapped package and mother opens the gift, and stared quizzically at the title.

MOTHER: Hmmm... Open Marriage, A New Life Style for Couples. Well... I guess open marriage is okay, I mean, who wants a closed marriage?

There is an uncomfortable silence, while the author ponders using the same exact joke twice in one article.

DOTTY: Actually Mom, open marriages are all rage now, like Tang. You like Tang don'tcha Mom?

FATHER: (piping in) Now that you mention it, I've had my eye on Janice in the secretarial pool for a while now, and have been trying to rationalize having an affair. Thanks to Dotty and her gift, I now have that option.

MOTHER: Oh, George, it wouldn't be an affair - (pages through book to find chapter) it would be just be getting your groove on with another chick, that's all. You like Tang don't you, dear?

DOTTY, MOTHER and FATHER all laugh.

DOTTY: This is the best Christmas ever.

Fade to black

Okay, so maybe that's not really what happened, but I am sticking by it, because it makes me laugh.
at work.
when I'm actually supposed to be working.
Which makes people think that I'm not working.
So now I have to go back to work.
So this article is done. Take a look at the scans of the book and inscription. Of course, you're missing out if you don't check out this closeup of the wrapping paper piece that was stuck inside the front cover.

P.S. Take a closer look at Nena O'Neill. She seems to have a case of the crazy eyes!

Posted by Matty at 07:44 PM | Comments (2)

April 21, 2004

bow down to my mediocracy!


Version: 1.1

KER+ Exp+ SPM@ Bam+(+) Steel+ Wood Loom+ Syn+@ Nov+ Cot+ Wool Lux- Stash(++) Scale>+ Fin Ent? Tex+ Felt> Int> Flat++ Circ>+ DPN> Swatch- KIP++ Blog+(+) SNB>+ FO>+ WIP(3) GaugeF-(S)W+B ALTQSw>+ Char+(+) Self>


What is all that hubbub about? Well, as stated, it's my knitting geek code and it simply sez that I'm still getting my feet wet. We've all known for a while now that I'm a geek/nerd. No hiding that fact. I've come to accept, even revel in it. So when I can combine my geekiness with a craft of choice - Whoa, Nelly! There's no stopping me!

For those of you already familiar with the knitter's geek code, you may have noticed different items. Personally, I didn't feel that the posted list of qualifiers covered it. (Yeah, you can't satisfy everyone all the time, right?) Well, instead of calling it a day, I added my additional qualifiers to my code. And you're more than welcome to include them in yours.

  • Loom = knitting looms, boards, or knitting w/out needles
  • Char = knitting for charity or others (selfless knitting)
  • Self = knitting for yourself (selfish knitting) and no, there's nothing wrong with this

In other knit-news, I've had a major stash reorg. Gone are my 70's acrylic yarns (thnx anywho, g'ma & ma). I've donated a load of yarn that I would never be able to work my way through (and didn't particularly want to) to the fine ladies of Yarn and Stitches. They will take this to a local women's prison hospital, where the inmates/patients crochet and donate the finished items. A little good karma for me; a lil' good karma for them. Heck, we all win!

Best of all... this makes my current stash "manageable" (ha!) and the thought of buying new yarn is less guilt-inducing and more probable after a.. few... more... projects [phew].

Posted by Nanc at 09:06 AM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2004

Agua, cerveza y cosas - Oh My!

So, I've been (re)learning Spanish in preparation of my trip to Honduras. I took four years of it in H.S., but fell out of it almost immediately after graduation. Besides, it probably doesn't hurt to know it living in Tejas.

I'm more than half way through the Pimsleur® Spanish I class; and from what I'm learning so far, this trip will either be a hoot or a crash-n-burn failure.


I've learned to ask all of the questions, like What [Qué], Where [Donde], Who [Quien], Why [Por Qué], How [Cómo], and How Much [Cuánto]. But [pero] I don't necessarily have any answers.

I'll be able to want [quiero] and have [tengo] things [cosas]. I will buy [compro] and have friends [amigos] pay [paga]. I'll be drinking beer [cerveza] and cold water [agua fría]; heck, possibly two [dos] or 37 [treintaysiete]. By then, I'm sure I'll need the bathroom [baño] or possibly the toilet [inodoro]. (Okay, that last one I learned at the local Sears.)

I'll be able to tell time [tiempo]; and if it's late [tarde] or early [temprano] and offer the appropriate greetings [buenos días, buenas tarde/noche]. Most of all, I will have been glad to meet you [encantada].

Some may think that this article is too much [demasiado] or that I'll never understand [no entiendo]. To them I offer this simple phrase:

¡Yo Puedo!

As an aside, I applied for my passport today at the local USPS. Yay!

Posted by Nanc at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2004

Update and the low down

A while back, I blogged about knitting baby blankets for my friend K's twins. The one binky started out fine. I like the pattern and the yarn is great to work with. But... [y'all knew that was coming] It was going to take quite a bit more yarn that I had purchased (and it's not cheap yarn).

So instead of making two $70 blankets [eep!], I decided to pare down and knit up some sweater sets.

So what used to be this,

is now this.

Now you may ask, what in-the-sam-hell is that second, albeit more angular item? Well, if all goes right it'll be a match to this other sweater to the right. It's the baby Einstein sweater from Sally Melville's The Knit Stitch book.

I've got little baseball buttons to go on the light blue sweater, which compliment the football buttons on the denim blue sweater. And I plan on making some booties, hats and what-not for the boyz.

And what's the status on those lil' men?... They were born on the Ides of March; healthy, happy, and hungry.

And a quick shout-out of thanks to the StitchNBitch group yesterday, who made me feel great for ooh'ing and ahh'ing over my handiwork. Y'all rock!

Posted by Nanc at 09:37 AM | Comments (2)

Vegetarian (Felt) Peeps

It seems that the only people I know who love Marshmallow Peeps® are those that can't have them. My heart goes out to my vegetarian friends that are betrayed by that most evil of all compounds, gelatin.

So it's in their honor that I make felt Peeps.

I'll be up front and honest about this; I can't figure out how to make the chicks, only the bunnies. deal, okay? And enjoy my efforts.

Items needed:

  • Peep-colored felt (lavender, pink, light blue, and yellow)
  • coordinating-colored thread
  • scissors
  • black embroidery floss
  • sewing needles; large eye for floss, regular eye for thread
  • stuffing, like Polyfil
  • paper and pencil to make pattern, or print mine out
  • sewing machine is nice, but not necessary
  1. Make your pattern/cutout 1/4" larger than the desired size of the finished Peep. (You'll use this up when sewing.)
  2. Cut 2 Peep-shapes from the felt.
  3. With the embroidery floss, make the eyes and nose; going through the wrong-side of one of the Peep pieces. Make simple French knots for these features.
  4. With wrong-sides facing, sew the two pieces together; leaving a section open big enough to turn and stuff the Peep.
  5. Turn Peep inside out. Felt is tough to turn, so use a pen (with cap on or tip disengaged) to help push the ears out.
  6. Stuff; again using a tool like the pen to push the stuffing up into the ears.
  7. Sew the hole closed.

Yeah! You've got a Peep.

Other ideas that have been suggested are to put a magnet in the back of the Peep while stuffing, or add catnip in the stuffing for a cat toy.

Update to this Peeps project: If you want/need to make them closer to the real size of bunny Peeps, you can stitch them together right-sides facing and not worry about trying to turn stiff felt (very difficult). Sure, you'll see the stitches, but that'll give it that great homemade look. Whatever you do, have fun with it.

Posted by Nanc at 08:00 AM | Comments (2)

April 14, 2004

Matzah Man

Matzah Man - A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man...who does not exist.

In the spirit of Easter, I cleaned up this article about the crackerman. Not a new story, just brought it over from the old site.


Before I start, I want you to look at the picture on the right for at least 10 seconds. It's true, I'm not secretly timing you or anything, but why cheat yourself??

If you are reading this sentence, I am going to assume that you didn't actually look at the picture above for the full 10 seconds. Otherwise, your head would've exploded from confusion.

I bought "matzi" (as he likes to be called) at my local Albertson's grocery store. He was in the seasonal aisle. I don't remember how much he was, because he was a total impulse buy. He probably was in the range of 2-3 bonez.

There's a fair amount of mystery surrounding Matzah Man...
Why was he with the Easter stuff at the store?
Why does he look like Sponge Bob Square Pants?
Why...? There are just so many more questions...

First off, I looked at the package. From this, I discovered a couple of interesting facts that I needed to write down.

Fact #1: He was bendable. That piece of information didn't take long for me to discover.

Facts #2-5: All in all, a dangerous guy. He was a choking hazard. He was completely off-limits for children under three. He was linked to an outfit named Shulsinger judaica ltd.

So far, I really had nothing on this guy. I needed to get him out of his safe cardboard and plastic home and find some answers.

Right off, I noticed that he was not very well crafted. I resisted the urge to choke on the arm. I was able to slide the hand right back on, and he was good as new.


Then, there were the tennis shoes... many people would simply accept the shoes, but I do not. Why is there a red dot? Would I be out of line to call them "stigmata sneakers?" Is this an attempt to align themselves with the 7-up Spot? I don't really know.


After all this work, I had only had more questions, and not answers. I turned to the only source of information that had never let me down. google.

There is a book about Matzah Man here.

You can buy your own Matzah Man here. It is just like mine. Maybe you can ask for one without stigmata shoes.

Finally I got the entire scoop from a guy that I work with. Matzah is an unleavened bread (similar to a cracker) that was eaten by the Hebrews during Passover. It still has religious significance today. He was unable to explain the similarity to Sponge Bob Square Pants. Perhaps some things should remain a mystery.


Posted by Matty at 01:32 PM

April 13, 2004

donation information

I am one of a mission team going to Nueva Victoria, Honduras in Central America and to work with the locals to rebuild their village. Nueva Victoria and it's people are still recovering from landslides during Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Land that has only been theirs to own and farm a short time (since 1973).

Our projects will include pouring cement floors, gardening, medical care, and more. The mission team was specifically invited to Nueva Victoria by Toribio Dubon, a leader of the community.

One of the biggest challenges for this trip is raising the necessary funds. The approximate cost of this 11 day mission is $1200 per person, which covers airfare and transportation, food and bottled water, and materials. There are 17 people expected on this mission, including myself and my parents. That's why I'm asking for your support in this effort.

I am providing links to PayPal for people who would be willing to donate $1 to $20 a day to assist with this program. To ensure online privacy and security, PayPal automatically encrypts your confidential information in transit from your computer using the Secure Sockets Layer protocol (SSL), the same security levels used for the financial industry.

If you would like to help, but don't feel comfortable dontating online, click here to send me an email, and I will provide mailing information.

Thanks, Nancy

Note:I have removed the links. Thanks to everyone for their donations!

Posted by Nanc at 09:34 AM

April 11, 2004

Hoppy Easter!

Wishing you a happy and sunny Easter, and may you find all the hidden eggs before they start to smell.

Posted by Nanc at 09:22 AM

April 09, 2004

I 'hablo' Spanish.

A little bit. But I'm getting there, day by day.

Matty picked me up some Pimsleur® Spanish lessons. There are two "classes", Spanish 1 and 2, each with 30 30-minutes lessons. The plan is to listen to one lesson every day and before I know it (or head off to Honduras), I'll be speakin' like a classroom Spaniard.

Even though I've had them for a few weeks, I haven't listened every day so I'm only up to lesson 11. But I'm crackin' the whip, y'all! By my schedule, I should be fluent to speak and understand 'Castillano' no later than early June. (That's with few days off for bueno behavior.)

Posted by Nanc at 05:41 PM

Where does your pet sleep?

I've sewn another handful of pet beds for Feral Friends from donated fabric. They're all real cute. Check out 'read more' and have a look.

Click on a picture for a larger image.

Wanna buy one? Check out Feral Friend's eBay listing for a variety of colors and patterns!

Posted by Nanc at 05:09 PM

April 07, 2004

Mission Trip

What: a mission trip with my parents and members from local (OH) Lutheran churches.

Where: Nueva Victoria, Honduras, Central America - in the Santa Barbara region of Central Honduras

When: July 4-14, 2004 (although these dates may change by a day or so)

Why: a good question. Because 'I can and want to' is my best answer so far.

As I get ready for this trip and have more information, I'll be sharing these details with whomever reads this. (This means YOU.) You'll get the low down on my vaccinations, Spanish lessons, and fund raising prospects. (Speaking of which, if I haven't hit you up for some dinero yet, consider this it. Please help me get there to help others.)

Okay, so I promise not to be so much of a money-needing chump in future posts. But getting the money to get there will be a major part of this. I'll try to make my posts amusing and entertaining, so you can laugh at my follies.

Honduras, here I come!

Posted by Nanc at 04:54 PM

Chicken Piccata

Last night, I learned that it's easy to get restaurant-quality chicken at home. And I'm not talkin' about some MickyDee's or KFC. I'm referring to some tasty, skillet-sautéd chicken breasts. In particular, an Italian dish called Chicken Piccata. Yum.

There's not a lot of fancy ingredients, 'cept capers (and they won't break your budget). Preparing the chicken itself is easy and will work for a variety of dishes.

First, let me give a 'shout out' to America's Test Kitchen on PBS/KERA. They made it look so easy (and it is) and quick; and provided me with the basis of my recipe.

Secondly, although I used a non-stick skillet to prepare this dish (that's all I have), a "regular" skillet/sauté pan works best for this recipe. It allows the chicken to stick a bit while cooking so that you have some tasty tidbits to work with when deglazing.

Okay, on with the cooking!

  • 2 large lemons
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into cutlets *
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 4 Tbl. vegetable oil
  • 1 small shallot, minced OR 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 c. low-sodium, low-fat chicken broth
  • 1 Tbl. small capers, drained and rinsed
  • 3 Tbl. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Tbl. minced parsley (fresh is best)

* To slice chicken breasts into cutlets, place the breast flat on a cutting board and place your hand firmly on top (thickest section near thumb). With a sharp knife, carefully slice the breast in two through the width of the chicken. The best I can do to describe it is to make the chicken breast like a book, but then cut it in half. (Sorry, it's hard to describe sans visuals.)

  1. Place a heat-safe plate in the oven and heat to 200°. You'll use this to keep the chicken warm while you make the sauce.
  2. Halve one lemon "pole-to-pole"; trim ends from one half and cut crosswise into 1/8" thick slices. Set aside. Juice remaining half and whole lemon to obtain 3 Tbl. juice; reserve. (A beater from a hand-held mixer works wonderfully to ream the lemon.)
  3. Sprinkle both sides of the cutlets with salt and pepper. Measure flour onto a plate or pie tin; coat each cutlet with flour, and shake to remove excess.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot, about 2 minutes. Add 2 Tbl. oil and coat pan. Lay half of the chicken pieces in the skillet; sauté without moving them until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Turn cutlets and cook another 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove pan from heat and transfer cutlets to warming plate in oven.
  5. Add remaining 2 Tbl. oil to skillet and heat until shimmering. Add remaining chicken pieces and repeat steps above.
  6. Once all the chicken is cooked and keeping warm in the oven, add shallot (or garlic) to the skillet and lower to medium heat. Sauté until fragrant. Add stock and lemon slices, increase heat to high, and scrape skillet bottom with wooden spoon or spatula to loosen browned bits. Simmer until liquid reduces to 1/3 cup (about 4 minutes).
  7. Add lemon juice and capers; simmer until sauce reduces again to 1/3 c. (about 1 minute). Remove pan from heat; swirl in butter until melted and sauce is thickened. Stir in parsley.
  8. Spoon over chicken. Serve with cooked pasta with a little butter and parmesan cheese and a salad.
Posted by Nanc at 10:21 AM