May 31, 2004

Bag of Plagues

some fun on a slow day, this piece was brought over from the old site. Make plagues fun for your kids! Relive those fun, biblical stories.

I would like to state up front, that I did *not* buy this. Stina bought it for me. That being said, if I had seen it, I probably would have bought it. How could anyone resist the "Passover Bag of Plagues?"


The information starbursts on the package tell me that this package is "fun and educational", and an "Ideal Passover Game!" If you look closer, you see that these plagues are not all fun and games, as they are also a choking hazard and non-food items that should not be ingested (duh). (By the way, if you want to see what the whole, interesting package looks like, click here.)

According to any Bible stolen from any motel, (except motels in Utah) there were ten horrible plagues that befell (heh, I wrote "befell") the Egyptians because they wouldn't let Moses' people leave and get lost in the desert for forty years. Admittedly, I am not a very religious person. When I got this giftie, we decided to make a game out of it. We didn't look at the instruction sheet and instead tried to figure out what plague each item was for. This went horribly wrong. Without further ado, the plague bag.

Plague 1: The plague of Red Disappearing Ink


The explanation in the bag is that the Red Disappearing ink signifies blood. The description of the plague is "All the waters of the land turned to blood." I have absolutely no recollection of this plague.

What I do remember is that wine signified blood at the Last Supper. Perhaps the manufacturer of this product should've included a Zima in the bag instead.

I reject this plague, and its icon.

Plague 2: The plague of Jumping Frog


I remembered this plague, and I accept its icon. When you push on the handley bulb-thing, the frog hops...pretty cool. Fun Fact: this plague was also visited on the film, "Magnolia."

Plague 3: The plague of Small Black Bug


The third plague was that dust turned to lice and covered everyone. Is dust the same thing as sand? If so, that probably woulda sucked for the Egyptians. I watch the Discovery channel and understand that there is a fair amount of sand in Egypt.

Unfortunately, I reject this icon as well. It looks more like a beetle, and as far as I know there was never a plague of Volkswagens visited upon the Egyptians.

Plague 4: The plague of animal mask


This mask is supposed to remind us of the plague of wild beasts that came into Egyptian homes. I reckon, this was kinda like Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom without Marlon Perkins. I reject this toy. The mask was too small (like it was made for a kid!) and didn't remind me at all of Wild Kingdom. It reminded me more of these strange German films that I saw a couple of years ago. But that's another story...

Plague 5: Cow

There is usually, one standout item in any toy set. This is it. (Nancy wanted me to let you know that this toy symbolizes a plague on cattle-kinda like mad-cow disease.) Before I continue, roll your mouse over the picture above to see the fun action that this plague has. I could play with this cow for hours. Of course, you don't have the cow. You can only play with the graphic (insert evil laughter).

I don't really think that there's anything more that I can say about this one. It totally rocks! C'mon man, there are bulging eyes and everything.

Plague 6: Green Sticky Hand


Believe it or not, this toy signifies the plague of boils. To make boils fun for kids would probably stop most religious toy manufacturers in their track. Not so for Judaica Express. They have decided that one of those sticky hands would be fun. For authenticity, there are three white bumps on the palm of the hand. Hrm...I am kind of torn on this one. On one hand (heh), you have to give them credit for coming up with this, but on the other hand (heh again) it's really a stretch (heh yet again... wow, sometimes I can crack myself up!). Okay, done laughing, and I decided that this one is rejected. Thumbs down (heh).

Plague 7: White Styrofoam Balls


I don't remember hail being one of the plagues, but I am a bit of a expert on this topic. You see, a couple of weeks ago God decided that Dallas needed a little plague action and decided that hail would be the best option for this. So we had a pretty nasty hail storm, and my car has more pocks than Edward James Olmos' face. I have to reject this, because styrofoam is not a toy. It wasn't a toy when I got that big styrofoam glider when I was a kid (an aside... the repair kit was a roll of scotch tape... really), and it's not a toy now. Besides, I'm still having bad dreams about the hail... this "toy" version isn't really going to help my therapy bills.

Plague 8: Large Green Locust


Apparently when I was playing with the set, and before I took the pictures, there was a mishap with the locust (it went missing). So, I went to google images, searched for "no photo available" and got this gem instead. I know that I can't back this up with photographic proof, but the plastic bug looked nothing like a locust. It looked more like a praying mantis. I will let this one pass though, since I lost it and kinda feel bad.

Plague 9: Black Glasses


The sunglasses are supposed to represent the plague where "the entire land was enveloped in darkness." In California they call that a rolling blackout. The shades are really small and don't work well with my face shape. Also, they are called *sun*-glasses, and light is the opposite of dark, so it really doesn't make all that much sense to me. Rejected.

Plague 10: Puzzle


Finally we have reached the tenth plague. I feel like I have been writing this for a couple of days!

The tenth plague was the deal-breaker (biblically-speaking). The angel of death swooped down and killed the first-born son of the Egyptians. This sounds pretty harsh, but apparently it worked, and the twelve tribes of Israel were allowed to leave. Well, yeah... a party trick like selective mass-genocide would make anybody give in.

This famous plague is represented by a puzzle of a narcoleptic Egyptian. This is the pinnacle of the plagues, and the fine folks at Judaica Express decide to memorialize it with a puzzle? I refuse this one most of all, scarecrow. This was a great plague, and the puzzle doesn't really do it for me.

Maybe they could've included an "Angel of Death" kit, and had the kids do their own dirty work to their older brother. I'm just brainstorming here, and I've got at least three ideas that are way better than a puzzle.

In summary, out of ten plagues, only three made good toys. But don't get me wrong, if you ever see this set in the grocery store (probably on clearance right now!) definitely buy it. I don't think that I would ever let a kid play with it, but I have already received hours of enjoyment and warm, fuzzy feelings from the "Bag of Plagues."

Posted by Matty at 02:53 PM | Comments (8)

May 29, 2004

More PEZ!

What? New PEZ you say? Really.

I'll give you a clue. He used to live in a pineapple under the sea, but now he's mine, all mine. moo-ha-ha

Spongebob Squarepants is the latest character to grace the hallowed stem. I gotta admit, he's pretty cute. I'm not a big fan of the show (probably seen it once or twice), but the dispensers are nice.

The design is pretty good, umm... Spongebob himself comes in a couple of varieties: with a tie, and in his underwear.

Nanc picked up most of these at a Target in San Antonio, but then I bought the rest at a Target store here in Dallas.

I feel like I should have more to write about, but I really don't. The pink character is Patrick and the green character is Sqidward. The End

Posted by Matty at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2004

My ticket to the world

Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection. ~ Lawrence Durrell

I've got my passport and the flights are booked! The Honduras trip is a mere 38 days away. Can you believe it?!

Yeah, I've still got tons to do and Spanish to study. I've completed the first full Pimsleur class (30 lessons) and I've started the next. Hiking boots, mosquito netting, and Deet need to be purchased, and I hope to make some quilts for the villagers.

Click on the passport to see my avatar image. Sweet, huh. Interested in making you're own image? I was led to the site through Tjej's blog, which is always an interesting read.

Posted by Nanc at 04:20 PM | Comments (1)

May 25, 2004

Peep Crispy Treats

Lately, I've been on a Peeps® kick. I'm new to this snack item (nope, never had them before) and am amazed at the cult following these lil' guys have. It's not as straight forward as whether you like them or not; there's a wide range of feelings about them.

Personally, I started simple (just ate one out of the package) and moved on to more complex methods of consumption and snackage. I plan to post a synopsis of my overall trial and tribulations with the Peeps, but for now let me tell you about the marshmallow and rice bars.


I followed the basic recipe for rice crispy treats that I found on the back panel of the marshmallows package. Of course, I wanted a comparison, so I made a full pan of regular treats and a smaller pan of the Peeps treats. (It's after Easter and I can't find Peeps in stores anymore until their next holiday, so I'm rationing the Peeps on hand for all of my planned recipes.)

  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 10 oz. (1 pkg) marshmallows (or 3-3oz pkgs of Peeps)
  • 6 c. rice crispy cereal
  • PeepTreats_2.jpg
  1. Melt the butter in a large pan over low heat. Add marshmallows (Peeps) and stir until completely melted.
  2. Remove from heat, add cereal, and stir until well coated. "Pour" into a 9"x13" baking dish (coated w/ cooking spray for easy removal); and flatten with wax paper.
  3. When cool, cut into squares and gobble them all up - Yum!

Because of my limited Peeps, I cut the recipe in third and made a smaller batch. Chick Peeps come in groups of five, which is only 3 oz. PeepTreats_3.jpg I decided to use seven, hence the two additional purple chicks swimming in the pot of melted blue.

Overall? Yummy. The extra sugar coating on Peeps doesn't effect the overall sweetness of rice crispy treats - at least not that I could notice after scarfing big chunks of each and washing them down with Kool-Aid. -ack-

The Peeps gave the treats a nice, pastel hue which might be fun for special occasions and birthdays. PeepCrispyTreats2.jpg I didn't melt the purple chicks all the way down, so there were bits of Peep interspersed which were tasty. On the other hand, my marshmallows were a bit (read: way) stale, so the treats came out tough and a little blah.

Posted by Nanc at 04:34 PM | Comments (2)

May 24, 2004

Pow Pow Pow Pow Pow!

I was watching Little House on the Prairie with Nanc a few weeks ago, and it sparked a technology memory that I have been suppressing for all these years.

Look inside for more on ... TV Pow!

Let me see if I can set the stage for TV Pow...

It's summer vacation, circa 1981. I am circa 7. My siblings and I have the house to ourselves (at least until mom comes home at six).

In the afternoons, it would be too hot to play outside so we'd all come inside and watch TV.

WEYI-TV25 hauled out old reruns in the afternoon, including Little House on the Prairie. The fine folks at Channel 25 knew that they had a dud on their hands with little Laura Ingalls. They needed some spice and action to bring in that crucial seven year old boy demographic. They needed TV Pow!

As a tangent discussion, did anyone actually like Laura Ingalls? Nellie Olsen was my favorite. Tangent #2: Why "half pint"? Why not call your daughter "small glass of booze"? He could've also gone with "half-liter." The metric system was pretty big back then... But I digress...

TV Pow was a contest that would be hosted live during commercial breaks. I remember prizes from board games to trips to Cedar Point (an amusement park) on the deluxe Cedar Point Express bus! Woo!.

You might ask, how do you win these fabulous prizes? Just send in a postcard with your name, age, address and phone number. Heck, for a trip on the Cedar Point Express, they could've asked for my Social Security number, a pap smear and a blood sample.

Wait -- I forgot the most important part. You send in the postcard, they call you on the phone, and you use the phone --your voice, man -- to blow up alien spacecraft. A highly advanced shooting game, similar to Space Invaders is displayed live on TV, and you would shout into the phone, "POW" to activate your laser (the thin white block) and kill the aliens (the thick white blocks). If you kill enough aliens, you win.

Of course, that's not really how it played out. Kids would be taken aback by their sudden fame of being on TV live during little house, and would whisper "pow" too softly to activate the voice technology. Or, things would swing the other way, and you'd have thirty seconds of a kid shouting "POWPOWPOWPOW" at the top of his little lungs. This was frickin' genius in the post-pong/pre-atari world.

This wasn't just a Flint (my hometown) thing. This type of show, called TV Pow or Video Pow was syndicated on tons of other markets.

When I was in my early 20s, I was employed at the same named local TV station (WEYI-TV 25), and I worked with some folks that worked during the heyday of TV Pow and Cedar Point Express. The technology was as such: An Atari knockoff (Sinclair?) was broadcast. There wasn't any special interface to take audio waves and turn them into lasers. It was a dude who pushed a button every time a kid said POW. If a kid was soft-spoken, he didn't hear them. If a kid yelled POWPOWPOW, they just held the fire button down.

By the way, there isn't a Santa Claus, either.

Update: I always thought that this story would be better with a picture. Unfortunately the Internet only has what the Internet has. A couple of weeks ago I got a negative scanner, and was happily scanning in my college years. Then I ran across a sleeve labeled WEYI. I don't really recall how these came into my possession, but I proudly post the first pix of TV POWWWWW!

Posted by Matty at 04:40 PM | Comments (37)

May 17, 2004


I knitted up these two squares as part of a "comfortghan" for a woman from my charity crafting group. (Click pix for close-ups.)

Even though we've never met, there's a connection with the people that I meet online. We are working together for the same goals and a bond is created at the same time. Sometimes, it's a 'virtual' friendship with a fellow knitter or blogger, but a friendship none-the-less.

This phenomenon of online social communities has recently come up in conversation at a few different places. (Alyshajane and Loobylu to name two.)

Just think about it.

Both squares were knit with an old ball of Tina of California® Ultra Loft in teal blue. (Personally, I think it's darker than what could be called "teal", but I don't really get a say in this.) Both patterns came from the 2nd Knitting Treasury book.

I don't particularly care for the lower square; the twist stitch (Heraldic) pattern doesn't show up very well in this yarn and it's not as exciting as I had hoped. But I really like the first square. This a pattern called Tilting Latter, but reminds me of hard candies. There's a bit of cabling that looks like the twisted ends of the wrappers to me. I'd like to find a project that this would be good for. Any ideas?

Posted by Nanc at 05:41 PM | Comments (1)

May 13, 2004

Happy Birthday Nanc!

Today is Nancy's birthday. It's really not my place to say how old, but I will include the obligatory picture of her as a kid.

Happy Birthday, Nancy!

{If the mood strikes you, you may sing along with me.}

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear Nancy
Happy Birthday to you.

I hope that all of your birthday wishes come true. In addition, I hope that none of your birthday wishes involve me and a large meat grinder.

We've been married for almost four years, but it seems like so much longer (in a good way!). I enjoy every day that we spend together, and I look forward to celebrating all of our other birthdays together (even the scary ones that end in zeros).

You are super, and I'm the luckiest guy. I'm so glad that you put up with me. You're the best. Now stop reading the internet and enjoy your birthday.

Posted by Matty at 05:28 PM | Comments (2)

May 10, 2004

The promise I made to my phone

There is a bond between a man and his cell phone. This bond is sacred and must not be broken.

Earlier this year, after swearing against them for years, Nanc and I finally broke down and purchased cell phones. Our reasons made sense, and I don't lose sleep over it. I mean, sure, the phones are probably satan incarnate, will cause ear cancer, and people who use them while driving should go drive off of embankments (and frequently do!). However, a phone is a gadget and I can surf the web (sorta) with it.

Whoo -- little bit of a sidetrack there --

When I pulled the phone out of the washing machine, water was streaming out of -- well everywhere. I am not a scientist, nor do I play one on TV, but I knew that sending a tiny, cute piece of delicate electronics through a spin cycle was just a bad plan. It was an accident, and I tried to explain that to the phone, but it just sounded like a lame excuse.

Dangit (yeah, I probably said something else, but this is a family site), now I have to get another phone. In the back of my head, I had hopes that if I dried the phone off, it would work again, like a bic lighter. It sounded like a perfectly good explanation at the time.

So, while I waited, I went to the Cingular store to find out how much it would cost to replace the phone. My jaw dropped when they told me the price. I had to laugh at the guy, and then he asked me if I bought some kind of washing machine phone insurance. After that, I surfed eBay and found my phone for a fraction of the price that the Cingular Scam Nazis wanted me to pay.

At this point, I made a solemn promise to my phone. If my phone started working again, I would pimp it out.

About this time, my phone started to heal. At first it would just vibrate all the time, which I mistook for death twitches. I unplugged the battery and came back a few days later, and the lights blinking, and it wasn't vibrating. These were good signs. A few days after that, I could actually use the phone to make honest-to-goodness calls. The display didn't work, and it kinda sounded like I was in a wet tunnel when I tried to talk to somebody, but this was progress. Finally my phone came back to life. The display works. Everything works.

I knew that I couldn't break the promise, so I invested in some bling for my phone. Sure, I might get kidded about it at work, but my phone earned the bling.

So, if you're thinking about a DIY project on your phone, it's pretty easy, and your phone could look as classy as mine. Nothing says professional like blue flames. Is that a 2-inch retractable antenna? oh, yeah...

If you're really bored, click here to see a short video (avi format) of the phone ringing. It also does this anytime you're on the phone. Woo!

If you're wondering, the phone is an LG G4010. Your resurrection experiences may vary.

Posted by Matty at 12:50 PM | Comments (1)

May 09, 2004


Would you believe that I've gotten some new PEZ? What a suprise!

I wrote this a few minutes ago, and then the internet ate it. I hope to capture the wit and sparkle of the first version. arrgh.

The Lion King II PEZ set was released in Europe earlier this year. I finally got around to getting a set of them from SJGlew. The set is very well-designed. I think that these dispensers are faithful to the Disney cartoons. For some reason, these PEZ also seem to have a glossier sheen than other dispensers.

Another purchase from Glew is the Pingu set (middle shelf). Pingu is a (supposedly) popular cartoon about penguins from Japan. These are a new type of PEZ. Dubbed "mini dispensers" by collectors, this series was created in conjuction with Japanese toy company Bandai. Although dimunitive, the inner workings of this PEZ are full working copies of the normal versions.

Also on the middle shelf is a new American release, SpongeBob SqarePants. He came from Toysrus. I did have the full set (including Patrick and Squidward) but people were paying crazy money for them on eBay when they first came out. I did what I had to do *grin*

The bottom shelf PEZ for today are the new set of party favor dispensers. This time around, the party favors are the Simpsons clan. They are about the same size as the Pingu dispensers, but the construction is totally different. Take a look at a side by side comparison and you will see the differences.(The Simpsons party dispensers came from Target.)

Posted by Matty at 02:49 PM | Comments (1)

May 06, 2004

Dishcloths Galore

I can now, if desired, do copious amounts of washing (dishes) with a variety of dishcloths. Um, ... yay?

I can't say that I'm thrilled with the prospect of hand-washing my dishes, but I am tickled with my selection of hand-knit cloths. I can finally throw out the kitchen sponge and all it's icky bacteria-ness, and enjoy a new dishcloth every day for a while.

There is a sum total of 11 dishrags and 2 scrubbies. Yup - these were knitted, too, with nylon netting (tulle). They were a little more difficult to knit, but since they only need to be a fraction of the size, I managed.

Come on, I know you wanna see 'em.

All of the dishcloths were knit up on either US#7 or #8 needles using some version of kitchen cotton. The brands I used varied from what I had on hand, was given by a friend, and found at stores. If I can remember the brand and/or color used, I'll note it in my descriptions below; otherwise, oh well.

One of the biggest motivations I had for making these was a book I picked up at the Half Priced Book store called A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker. There are over 2,000 patterns in this book, each with an accompanying photo (b&w, of course). It was printed in 1970 and from reading the intro, you can see how excited Ms. Walker is to have these new and wondrous manmade fibers available; the colors are so bright and gay! (Remember, in 1970 "gay" still had it's original meaning.)

So I'm slowly working my way through this book, knitting up dishcloths and such, and learning as I go. Sounds fun, huh?

On to the dishcloths! From left to right:

The black&white cloth was knit with Peaches & Creme® Dalmatian; Twin Rib pattern from the book. The cream w/ specs of color was knit using Lion Brand® Kitchen Cotton and the Ripple Stripe Pattern from the book. The blue is knit up in the Square Lattice pattern (book, again) using L.B. Kitchen Cotton. The two scrubbies were knit as a bit of ribbing (2x2 and Seeded Rib Check) with some purple nylon tulle.

The L.B. Kitchen Cotton in Sunflower (yellow) was knit up with the Moss Diamond and Lozenge pattern from the 2nd Treasury book. I really like this pattern. The blue&green variegated yarn is Lily® Sugar'n Cream and has a subtle pattern that is Fluted Rib. The variegated blues is another Sugar'n Cream yarn and knitted in Twin Rib. I had previously posted about the blue&yellow variegated cloth when I first started knitting these in January.

Both the pink and yellow variegated dishcloths were mentioned in prior posts, using patterns from the Dishcloth Boutique. The bright red dishrag was knit up in Steep Diagonal Rib pattern from the book. I realize that the dark green cloth can barely be discerned in this foto, and since I had to wash some dishes anywho I've taken another pix for y'all. It's another L.B. Kitchen Cotton knit in Four Winds Check, which is a nice pattern.

Posted by Nanc at 08:25 PM | Comments (3)

May 05, 2004

Simple Pleasures

... and Hershey® Caramel Kisses! oh, sweet heaven - life is good!

I finally made it to the Woolie Ewe and what glorious site that was! Yarn, yarn and more yarn - all fibers, colors and textures. Yum!

While I was there, I picked up Rowan® Big Wool and Lind 60® Tondo to make a felted purse. Some Crystal Palace® Cotton Chenille wanted to come home with me to become the Bloom Flower Washcloth from Weekend Knitting. And I couldn't resist a ball each of Gedifra® Shakira and GGH® Boboli in similar fern colors. What they'll become is a surprise.

Also in my basket was a Clover® Bamboo Circs US#15 and Chibi finishing needles. Plus later today, my Bonez got me the Spring/Summer issue of Vogue Knitting International. (Such a sweetie.)

In celebration of Cinco de Mayo AND my birthday month, Bonez and I went out to eat at El Fenix (we hit the geriatric "rush") and saw 'Mean Girls'. Yay - mean girls! Yay - the Tina Fey!

Posted by Nanc at 09:16 PM | Comments (2)

May 03, 2004

A-camping we will go

Smurfs like hiking. They like the outdoors. They love camping... a chance to get out of their 'shroom and into the great, wide open.

I like camping, as does Bonez. But you won't find pix of Matty or I blazing a trail or setting up camp. No siree. That's why there's Smurfs. Not only do they like adventures, but they love to pose for the camera.

Here's another foto of the backpacking Smurf.

Can't find our Smurfy friend in the pix to the left? Click on the foto for a revelation.

Posted by Nanc at 06:25 PM

May 02, 2004

Burn! Baby, burn!

We're going camping [yay!] this weekend.

In preparation, I decided to be a good little camper and make fire starters. An added bonus is that I'm being good to ma earth; recycle, reuse, rehabilitate. (Okay, I just threw in the last one for s&g.)

Making fire starters is real easy to do. But just in case you don't have a camping or Boy/Girl Scouts guidebook to explain, I've laid it out for you.

Tools needed:

  • paper egg carton (empty of eggs) bonus points for free roaming, cage-free eggs
  • dryer lint
  • utility candles (unscented, no dyes)
  • lighter or matches
  • bucket of water nearby for safety's sake

I'll admit, I really liked the hues of the lint lined up. I thought it was kind of pretty, like fiber ready to be carded and spun.

  1. Cut/tear the top off the egg carton, leaving the bottom "cups."
  2. Stuff these with the lint.
  3. Light a candle and carefully drip wax over the lint. For a more child-friendly, less time consuming method, you can melt the candles/candle wax in a double boiler and simply pour this over the lint cups.
  4. Let dry. To use, break off a cup, place in the center of expected campfire (I prefer the tepee method), and light the paper carton portion.

A funny aside: as I was patiently dripping the candle wax onto the lint on my deck outside, I noticed that a couple of neighbors saw me. I can just imagine what they thought was going on. Oh, and I was blaring Dido. (It's no Ozzy or Smiths, but still emotionally distraught at times.) [he he he]

Update to article:

The latest polls show... these fire starters work wonderfully! They smoked, caught fire, and burned long enough to catch our wood on fire. Even in these wet conditions. Take a look at our site's fire pit - the pit itself drained well (wet sand & ash), but it was mucky-mud all around it for the rest of our stay.

How did these dryer-lint-and-cat-hair (couldn't be helped) fire starters compare to their commercial counterparts? Well, we had two kinds of purchased fire starters left from a previous trip; Coleman® stick variety and a flat, cardboard and wax version that I can't seem to find online. The latter took a while to catch fire and lasted the least amount of time. The stick starters didn't go through the smoking phase, but moved directly into fire mode and burned well. But I'd still rate the homemade ones for price and efficiency. (But only the Coleman® sticks would've lasted if they had gotten soaked in the rains - thank goodness for zipper bags!)

And as it turns out, I'm not the only one who's been curious about the range of fire starters; or found the article title fitting.

Posted by Nanc at 06:03 PM | Comments (1)