Archive for February, 2009

How The Alphabet Should Be

A while ago I finished reading the amazing book Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis.  It tells the whole story (and I mean the WHOLE story) of how Sesame Street made it to the air (yes, even when I read adult books they tend to be about kids stuff).  I loved reading about the history of all the characters I had grown up with like Big Bird, Grover, and Cookie Monster.  The book is a fantastic dose of nostalgia for anyone who watched Sesame Street as a child.

So now I am busy immersing myself in old episodes of Sesame Street by watching “Sesame Street Old School Volume One.”  It is definitely very very “old school.”  Big Bird in the first ever episode was actually pretty creepy.  But of course, some of my favorites were there from the very beginning like Bert and Ernie.

I’ve picked out a few sketches from the early shows that stand out as my favorites:

Here is a cartoon from the second season that we watched at work a little while ago… warned though, you will never get the song out of your head.

Here is a very funny Grover offering:

And my very very favorite clip of all is really short and sweet.  I remember reading about this exact sketch in Street Gang.  Apparently it was supposed to end with Kermit leaving in a huff, but Joey (the little girl) just spontaneously called out “I love you” and so Kermit came back in and said “I love you too.”  That is why I love the Muppets and Jim Henson.


Allie Finkle

I know we are in full Meg Cabot mode over here at NerdGirlBlogging, so I figured I’d continue it by discussing her new series for young readers — Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls.

movingdayAllie Finkle is a 4th-grader who learns in Book 1, Moving Day, that her parents have bought a new house and she and her two younger brothers will be moving.  She has to deal with all kinds of terrible things:  a creepy new house, leaving old friends who are suddenly mean to her, being forced to abandon her rock collection, trying to be mature about the move so she can get the kitten her parents promised, and having to start a new school.

Allie Finkle #2.inddIn Book 2, The New Girl, Allie has already made a few friends at her new school, which makes it a lot easier…except for the girl who hates her for no good reason.  So now Allie has to learn to handle NEW problems like figuring out what to do about a girl who wants to beat her up for no good reason, the possibility of her future kitten being born too early, competing in a spelling bee, the tension over a stove between her mom and visiting grandmother, and being told by her amazing new teacher not to chit-chat.

Moving Day and The New Girl were both fantastic, and fit into the category of middle-reader books I’ve been reading and loving so much lately!  bestfriends1Book 3, Best Friends and Drama Queens, doesn’t come out until March, but fortunately I won an ARC from a contest Meg had on her website!  I was so excited to get it in the mail.  ARCs are fabulous!  Anyway, Best Friends and Drama Queens is my favorite of the series thus far!  This one is all about a new girl from Canada who comes to Allie’s new school and disrupts her life by chasing boys at recess.  Pretty soon she has declared Allie and her friends immature for not wanting to “go with” boys.  Allie tries her best to handle the mean things Cheyenne says, but my absolute favorite part in the book is when she just can’t take it all anymore and hides in her bedroom closet and cries.  (Who hasn’t been there?)  I don’t want to ruin the scene, so I won’t tell you any more than that, but it’s amazing.

The books are so identifiable, and I don’t know if it’s because internally I’m like a 4th grader or because Meg is so capable of creating believable characters and scenes, but I found everything very relatable.  Allie is a fantastic character.  She’s so full of spunk and independence and throughout all three books, she writes down rules to help her get through everything.  Some of my favorites:  Don’t stick a spatula down your best friend’s throat, Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s good, Treat your friends the way you’d want them to treat you, and It’s impolite not to bump someone’s fist when they are fist-bumping you.

Here’s a small excerpt of another of my favorite parts to get you even more excited:

Yes, I like to say boys don’t have feelings. But of course that isn’t true. They do. It’s just that boys get over their feelings faster than girls. They just feel them, and then they’re done. Whereas girls feel, and then think about their feelings, and then maybe they write about their feelings in their diaries, and then maybe they call their best friend and talk about their feelings, and then maybe they tell their kitten about their feelings, and then maybe […]

Go read it!  …Or wait until it comes out March 10th and THEN go read it!  🙂

— Jill

My (Still) Inchoherent Thoughts On The Weekend

Wow….just wow.

I have had so much fun this past weekend hanging out with all of my fellow nerdgirls.  I think (and I could be wrong) that it was the first time all 4 nerdgirls were together since the midnight showing of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”  Is that right??

Well, on Thursday night Amber, Jill, and I went to a Meg Cabot signing at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville.  I zoomed in at the last minute and had to stand in the back because the store was so crowded.  Meg gave a very funny, spontaneous talk about several of her books including Airhead, The Princess Diaries, and the Allie Finkle series.  Anderson’s had the priviledge of selling the third Allie book early even though it doesn’t come out till March.  Meg looked absolutely fabulous in a sparkly dress, fantastic tights, and the best heels ever!  She also had a very adorable way of posing her feet under the desk while she was signing that would have taken me weeks of princess lessons to figure out.

Meg Cabot

She was so sweet and talked with everyone as she signed all of the books.  The crowd was a balanced mix of adult fans, teens, and little girls.  When she signed my book I think I blurted something out about reading all the Princess Diaries books in ten days and she said, “Wow, I don’t think I’ve even read them that fast!”  Then I think I giggled like a little girl and ran away.


Friday night Lindsay arrived and we had a wonderful time putting together Meg’s gift.  It involved a lot of preparation including clothes shopping, hair cutting, and gluing things.  I won’t go into too many details because I think someone might post a video later (maybe…we’ll see……the sound went kind of weird due to a non-competent camera operator…..which of course was me).


On Saturday we all got dressed up and went to the 7th Annual Children’s Literature Breakfast to see Meg again.  We decided to give her the gift right away since she was innocently eating breakfast and would be easy to ambush.  She looked so pleased to receive the present (a Hannah Montana doll transformed into Meg Cabot, complete with snowflake necklace) and we got to take a picture with her and everything.  We were all on cloud nine for the rest of the morning.

The speakers at the breakfast were all very good, including Meg and her very skilled Powerpoint, Steven Kellogg and his stories about the real Pinkerton, Sharon Draper and her Sassy bag, and Peter Yarrow with his guitar.  I was a little teary through all of Peter Yarrow’s presentation, but when he started singing “Puff the Magic Dragon” and invited people on stage to sing with him I totally lost it.  I was literally sitting at one of the front tables sobbing like a 12 year old who just touched Robert Pattinson.  The waiter standing at the front of the room kept staring at me like he thought I was going to pass out or something…..but it totally wasn’t my fault, “Puff the Magic Dragon” is like the saddest song ever!!!!  Poor Puff having to waste away because stupid Jackie Paper grew up……that’s why you have to be like me and never grow up.  (And don’t say the song is about drugs, because I heard it from Peter Yarrow himself that it is NOT.)

So, those are my thoughts so far.  It was an amazing whirlwind of a weekend and it was phenomenal to meet Meg Cabot, but the best part had to be getting to spend time with my girls who live so far away.


**All photos stolen from Amber’s camera since mine can no longer take pictures involving a zoom or indoor lighting.

P.S.  A big thanks to Meg Cabot for mentioning us on her blog!!!!!

MEG CABOT IS OUR BFF! in our heads…

Nerdgirltalking + Meg Cabot forever

Nerdgirltalking + Meg Cabot forever

More details to come once we stop screaming and calm down….

but cha cha check this out: MEG CABOT KNOWS OUR NAMES

love, us.

Project Lincoln Log

Like Amber mentioned in a previous post, a few weeks ago we competed in the Iowa City Public Library’s Project Lincoln Log with our friend Emma, one of our teen podcasters.  It was AWESOME!  Here’s the deal:  We had one hour to construct something using two boxes of Lincoln Logs.  We could do things to prep them ahead of time, paint our base, and practice, but the actual structure had to be re-created in that hour.

We built a replica of the 100 Acre Wood from Winnie the Pooh.  I have to give Amber all the credit for coming up with the idea.  It was a huge hit!  I hadn’t realized how many people would love it.  (Apparently I didn’t read much Winnie the Pooh when I was younger.)  And now, the photos…

p2060387Pre-game (Emma’s friend Emma, team member
Emma, and Amber with her gameface ON)

p2060391Working hard during our one hour

100acrewood3-lgAll done!

p2060392Aerial view of most of the Wood, complete with hand-painted characters!!!
Seriously, the people LOVED them.  Woo, go Amber’s creativity!

p2060393Lower-left corner

p2060394Lower-right corner

p2060395Rabbit’s garden

100acrewood2-lgWe won BEST IN SHOW!!!  (and met Abraham Lincoln!)


— jill

The Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich

grilled-cheese-invitatational-oa-1I consider myself somewhat of a grilled cheese connoisseur since whenever I go to a restaurant, it is the only thing I ever get.  Literally, I ALWAYS get grilled cheese.  It might have something to do with the fact that I am a vegetarian who doesn’t like vegetables so grilled cheese is the only thing on the menu that I can ever eat.  I sometimes ask for it even when it isn’t on the menu just because usually they are willing to make one for me.

So I can tell you where all of the fantastic places to get grilled cheese are….the best place in Iowa City by far is Mickey’s downtown…..ahhh, it makes me salivate just thinking about it.  So when I was home for Christmas and my mom said she was going to make me the “Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich” I scoffed because I have eaten so many great sandwiches that it would be hard to top them all…..

Well, I was totally wrong.  This was the best sandwich I have ever had.  Period.  Now this is not for the faint of heart or the casual grilled cheese lover… have to be a hardcore fan in order to be able to handle it.  I am going to give the recipe in full, and then a few pointers down below.

The Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich:

1 pkg (3 oz) cream cheese (softened)

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup (4 oz) shredded mozzerella cheese

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp seasoned salt

10 slices Italian bread

2 Tbs butter or margarine (softened)

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, and mayonnaise until smooth.  Stir in cheeses, garlic powder and seasoned salt.  Spread 5 slices of bread with the cheese mixture (about 1/3 cup each).  Top with reamining bread.  Butter the outsides of sandwiches and cook in a large skillet over medium heat until golden brown on both sides.  Yields 5 servings.

Okay, so the recipe is kind of hard to cut in half, so the first time I would just suggest making all of it.  Whatever is left over can go in the fridge (it is surprisingly good cold in a sandwich or on crackers).  When you have made it once and you kind of know what consistensy it needs to be you can probably make one serving next time just by guessing.  I made a quick and dirty one last night just by throwing the four main ingredients together (cheese, mayo, and cream cheese) and had a cold cheese salad sandwich.

This is a wonderful, fantastic, amazing sandwich that everyone who truly loves cheese needs to try.  I never in a million years would have thought to put cream cheese or mayo on a grilled cheese sandwich, but it is truly heavenly.  So thanks to my mom for sharing it with me and the lady from her church that gave her the recipe.  I hope that at least one of you tries this and loves it as much as I do.


Our new Anthem and our new Musical God

So Steve and I were driving downtown to the Iowa City Public Library this weekend in order to gawk at my and Jill’s (and our girl Emma’s) Project Lincoln Log Best in Show (that’s right BEST IN SHOW–we are the LINCOLN LOG CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD–Jill, you should put some pics up so we can show off our awesomeness) wait forgot what I was talking about because I was tooting my own horn (hee hee what a fabulous saying) Oh, so Steve and I were riding in his car and he decides to show me some music he just downloaded by MC Chris aka MC Pee Pants from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. so first this song came on:

and I knew I was hearing the words of an artiste–a genius–a gift from God in the form of music that spoke directly to my heart.

and then THIS song came on:


finally our sexiness is appreciated.


OMG, Miss Piggy is from IOWA


Maybe you already knew this, but I certainly did not.  According to an article I read on CNN (which apparently originated on Mental Floss), “Frank Oz once said that Miss Piggy grew up in Iowa; her dad died when she was young and her mother was mean. She had to enter beauty contests to make money.”  Wow, I had no idea.

A few other interesting things about some Muppets:

  • Count von Count once dated Countess von Backward, who loved to count backwardcount-von-count
  • Oscar the Grouch’s voice is based on a NYC cab driver and was originally orange
  • Waldorf (of Statler and Waldorf, the old hecklers) has a wife named Astoria
  • Beaker does a Little Richard impression and has mad beatbox skills
    (Unfortunately I cannot find a clip of the impression or his beatbox skills, but here’s his rendition of “Ode to Joy.”  Enjoy!)

Mine might be Beaker…who is YOUR favorite Muppet?


I’m A Sucker For A Good Series

In my everyday life, I am quite hypocritical, but no more so, than when it comes to series books.  One of my main complaints while reading is getting to the end of a great book and realizing that it has all been a setup for a sequel.  But… the same time, I also get really excited when I realize that some of my favorite books have sequels coming out……I know that it makes absolutely no sense, but I think it might have to do with the fact that I sometimes feel obligated to continue reading about characters I have already been introduced to.  I know that I will most likely enjoy it, but it just adds to my huge list of books to be read.

Well, enough rambling….I really wanted to talk about some of my favorite series that have new books coming out this spring, because there are some really good ones on the horizon.

9780061345722First off, there is the newest Luxe book by Anna Godberson called Envy.  I loooooved the first book, but wasn’t really a big fan of the second.  But I will continue to read them simply because I literally cannot stop myself from picking them up because they have the most beautiful covers I have ever seen.  These books are historical fiction set around 1900 in New York.  They’re filled with sex, lies, gossip, betrayal, jealousy…..all the best stuff.

Another series that I adore is the Enola Holmes mysteries by Nancy Springer.  They follow the life of Sherlock 51cugiszafl_sl500_aa240_Holmes’ younger sister and her crime solving ways.  She has run away from her brothers because they want her to marry and be a respectable lady, but she just wants to be independent and help people who have been victims of crime.  There are four out in the series right now and the next one, The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline is due out on May 14.  These books are really excellent to read, but you should also listen to them on CD.  Katherine Kellgren reads them and she is the rock star of the audiobook world.  I listened to The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets and it is my favorite of the series (probably because she made it so fun to listen to).

51ov05hozal_sl500_aa240_Lots of people know of my love for the Cat Royal Adventures by Julia Golding, and it pains me to know that there are so many available in the UK and they are being released sooooooo slowly here in the US.  The next book, Den of Thieves, comes out on April 28 and I literally cannot wait.  Cat Royal is an orphan who lives at the Drury Lane Theater and gets into all kinds of trouble in eighteenth century London.  My favorite part about this book so far is how accurate the cover is.  In the last book, she chopped off all her hair and lo and behold, the cover represents that.  I don’t know why, but that makes me reall51ovzhovhol_sl500_aa240_y happy.

I also just finished reading the newest entry in the Suddenly Supernatural series by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel.  Scaredy Kat is totally awesome and I loved it even more than the first one.  Kat is learning more about becoming a medium and notices that the house next door to hers seems to have a lot spiritual activity going on.  My favorite part about this book was all of the new characters that were introduced (well okay, only two) and I hope they stick around for future books.

21950922Also, randomly I just read Unwind by Neal Shusterman…….and wow!  This book is unbelievably awesome……I hesitate to do this, but I am going to compare it to The Hunger Games in its intense readability.  It’s about a time in the future where abortions have been outlawed, but children between the ages of 13 and 18 can be “unwound” which basically means they are taken apart and all of their body parts are given to people who need them.  I loved the concept and the characters and the way the book explained the events that led up to the idea of “unwinding” people.  I cannot say enough times how AMAZING this book was, and I don’t want to give anything else away because it is much better if you go in not knowing too much.

Anyway, whew, I am tired……happy reading everybody!


Bowls of Puppies!

So the Superbowl was last weekend, yadda yadda yadda, big deal (actually it was a crazy game! I actually watched the whole thing, which I’m not sure I have ever done before.)–I think we all know that nobody was paying attention to NBC on Sunday. Hellllloooo IT WAS PUPPY BOWL DAY!!!! I WAS GLUED TO ANIMAL PLANET!!! I have watched Puppy Bowl every year since I was lucky enough to stumble upon it back in 2005 when Lindsay and I were sharing a dorm room in the Nerd Castle, also known as Stanley Hall (hmmm, I don’t think anyone has ever called it Nerd Castle, but they should). This year I even did my prep work and looked up all my favorite dogs last week. I instantly fell in love with Candy Corn via his profile on the Puppy Bowl website. Unfortunately, Candy Corn turned out to be a bit of a scaredy-cat and mostly hung out behind the goal posts==not much camera time. Here is one clip where you do get to see a bit of him:

OMIGOSH I cannot get enough of this! It is seriously the most entertaining thing in the world! I am enjoying watching this so much there has to be something wrong with me! Not going to lie, I watched Puppy Bowl V almost three times in a row on Sunday…

Haha, I actually do recognize him from past Puppy Bowls. I love when he calls fouls on the puppies. He always picks them up and they look so forlorn and sorry and puppyish!

You can just tell how much those puppies love their countries.

But puppies are more than just proud Patriot-Athletes, they are our future:

:::teeny tiny squeak voice::: i really want a puppy.


P.S. for those of you who are feline-ish–check out the kitty halftime show!

***no clue why the funnyordie video won’t embed, it keeps changing the code while saving…***