Saturday, May 30, 2009

Our GPS Tried To Kill Us!

They say machines don't have intelligence of their own, but after this incident, I wonder.....

We were driving out to Perisher, in the Snowy Mountains. (Yes, Australia gets snow!) We were trying out the GPS system. It had a female voice. My husband kept teasing me by saying how much he liked her.... I didn't because it kept interrupting us all the time. I named it Janet, after our friend's obnoxious ex.

Even though he was quite pleased with the system, a lot of times my husband would ignore her and take an alternate route. She was always trying to get us to retrace our route and go HER way. She sounded quite annoyed when we didn't.

Anyway,when we were almost there it was dusk and it was raining and visibility was quite poor. We started crossing the Jyndabine Dam. Halfway across Janet insisted we turn left! That would have hurtled us 100 meters down into the rushing water of the spillway! Moral of the story- don't tick off a woman, even if she IS a machine!

Dip recipes

Veggie Dip

Bowl of Sour Cream
2 Stock cubes, crumbled into it


Tzadiki Dip

Bowl of Sour Cream
Finely chopped up Small chunk of cucumber without seeds (about the length of a finger)
1 chopped up clove of garlic (or a sprinkle of garlic powder)
1 crumbled up stock cube

Mix together and let sit a while in the fridge.

Bread Soup recipe

This is something I invented when I was ten, hence the strange name. Really this is a fondue.

Can of Campbell's Tomato Soup
Half a can of shredded cheese

Pour the soup into a bowl. Fill the empty can halfway with the cheese, then pour in the milk to fill it up to the top. Dump it into the bowl and heat until the cheese is melted. Done.

To eat, dip french bread (or any bread) into it. Usually half of a bowl is all a grownup can eat.

Taco Soup Recipe

big can of crushed tomatoes
lots of dried dill
two stock cubes
1/3 can of water

Boil together in microwave. Taste. Add V8 if it needs more tomato taste Add lemon if it isn't sour enough. Add more stock cubes if not salty enough.

Prepare separate bowls of the following:

shredded cheese
sour cream
chopped up avocado
chopped up cucumber (with seeds taken out- slice in half legnthwise= scrape out seeds with spoon)
taco chips

To serve, everyone puts some of the above ingredients into a bowl and then covers it with the soup. You can add Tabasco sauce if you want.

My kids like the soup hot, thought really it's supposed to be eaten cold.

Guacamole Recipe

2 ripe avocadoes, mushed up
diced up ripe tomatoes- amount equal to the avocado
1 onion finely chopped up
juice of 1 lemon

Mush together

Add more lemon if not sour enough, if it still tastes wrong, add a bit of salsa dip- it will taste great!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Potato Salad Recipe


Granny Smith apples
Polski Ogorski Pickles
Green Onions
Non-Sweet Mayonaise
Pickle Juice

Take one potato for every two people and microwave them at the "Jacket Potato" setting. No need to peel them. Look out for green bits on potatoes- they are toxic. I know this from experience.

Let them cool. Take equal amounts of green apple, Polski Ogorki Pickles, and celery and chop them up. I usually put in one apple for every two people.

Add in one chopped up green onion per person.

Chop up the cooked potatoes, mix in Hellman's Mayonaise or Best Foods Mayonaise and mix in until it looks right. Wear disposable gloves and mix it with your hands.

Add a tablespoon or so of picklejuice to taste.

That's it!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Swine Flu Party

My boys are teens now so they decide on the party entertainment. My youngest chose to have a Pinata for him and his friends to bash. He picked one that was in the shape of a pig because that was topical. I stuffed it with Fizz Wizz (when hit the sugar powder looks like smoke),candy,poppers(the kind where pulling the string makes streamers shoot out),glowsticks and 1 cm long coloured wooden beads that represent different viruses. The idea was you wanted to let the candy out but you didn't want to be struck by one of the viruses!

Here's him hitting the pig:

Here's the chart that told you which virus you'd been hit with.

Since you could be hit by more than one bead, you could turn into a Westboro Baptist Sarah Palin pirate, which you had to act out. All in all they had a lot of fun!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Magic tricks I taught in a workshop for kids

Magic Tricks Workshop

Card Tricks

1. Sevens

Secretly make two piles of cards. One pile has all the sevens (Seven of Hearts, Seven of Spades, Seven of Diamonds, Seven of Clubs) The other pile has seven cards in it. Put them face down.
Write a note saying “the pile of seven”. Put it in an envelope.

To start the trick, give the envelope to someone, telling them not to open it yet.

Then get someone else to pick one of the piles in front of you.

Tell the person with the envelope to open it and read out what it says.

Now take the pile the person chose and prove it's what the envelope says.
If it's the pile with the sevens, show them the sevens.
If it's the pile with the seven cards, count them out.
Then pick all the cards up and put them in the deck so no one knows how you did the trick!

2. Spell Cards

Put cards face up in this order:

any 4
a Joker
any 2
any Ace
any 3
any 5

Hold them in your hand face up.
To start the trick, spell out “Ace”. With each letter take a card off the top of the deck and put it in a pile. Put it face up.
Then say “Ace” and put it on top of the pile.
Drop what's in your hand on top of the pile.

This is what it should look like after you did this.




Now take the pile in your hand.
Do the same thing for Two, Three, Four and Five. Then spell out Joker. That's all the cards in your hand!

3. Forced Choice
Secretly take all the spades and jokers out of the deck.
Take a piece of paper and write down “clubs”.
Hide it under a cup.
Write down “Hearts” on another piece of paper. Hide it under something hard.
Write down “Diamonds” on a piece of paper and hide it under something with diamond shapes on it.
To start the trick, tell someone that you can tell the future.
Ask them to pick a card.
Say you knew they were going to pick that suit.
Take the piece of paper that has that suit written on it from its hiding place.

4. Nines and Fives

Secretly find the black fives and the black nines in a deck.
Put the rest of the deck face down.
Put the 9 of Clubs at the bottom of the deck.
Put the rest on top of the deck so it looks like this:

5 Clubs
9 Spades
5 Spades
9 Clubs

To start the trick, ask someone to pick up the top two cards and remember them in their head.
Then tell them to put the cards anywhere into the deck so you can't find them.
Say the magic words.
Grab hold of the bottom card and the top card. Shake the others out of your hand. Show the audience these two cards.
They'll think the cards are the same as the ones that the person put in the middle of the deck. (They aren't but very few people will notice this).

5. Lie detector
Take any seven cards.
Get someone to choose one of them and remember it.
Put the remaining cards face down in a pile.
Put the chosen card 3rd down from the top.
Ask the person who chose the card these questions:
They can lie or tell the truth.

The questions are:

1.Is the card red or black?
Spell out the answer while taking a card off the top of the deck and putting it onto a new pile for each letter.
This is what it would look like after spelling out red:

New pile (face down)


chosen card “D”
card “E”
card “R”


You'll have 4 cards left in your hand. Just drop them on top of the new pile.

2.What is the suit of the card? Diamond, Clubs, Spades or Hearts?

Spell out the suit, making a new pile like before, and dropping any leftover cards onto the new pile. Start again.

3.What is the number of the card?
If it's a king, spell out k-i-n-g. If it's a number, spell it out. For instance, ten would be t-e-n. Then drop the rest of the cards on top.
1 one 2 two 3 three 4 four 5 five 6 six 7 seven 8 eight 9 nine
10 ten Jack Queen King Joker

4.Were your answers true, false or both?
Repeat the steps again.
If you spell out “true” or “both”, the next card is the one that the person chose.
If you spell out “false” the card that is “e” is the one the person chose.


True: chosen card Both: chosen card False: e chosen card
e card h card s card
u card t card l card
r card o card a card
t card b card f card


6. Three by Three

Lay out 9 cards face up. Put them in three rows of three.

Row 1 X X X

Row 2 X X X

Row 3 X X X

Ask someone to secretly pick one of the cards.

Ask them what row it's in.

Pick up the cards one row at a time, making sure the row they picked is in the middle.
Keep them face up.

Lay out the cards again but lay them down in columns like this:

First- X Then- X Then X



Ask them what row it's in this time. (See, it's the same question you asked them before).
Pick up the cards like you did before, one row at a time, keeping the row they picked in the middle.

The card they picked is now in the exact middle of the deck.
Turn the deck over.
Now lay out the cards face down in groups of three:

\ | / \ ! /

\ | /

Their card is in the middle of the second pile you put down.

Now ask them to pick a pile.

If they pick the one with their card in it, take the other two away.
If they picked a different one, take that one away.
You want to leave the pile with their card on the table.

Then ask them to pick a card.
If they choose their card, take the others away.
If they pick a different card, take it away. Ask them to pick another.

Once you only have one card left, flip it over to show them it's the card they picked.

7. Math Genius
Here's how to prove to your parents what geniuses you are!

Ask them to write down a 4 digit number. For example, 3,745 is a four digit number.

Ask them to write down another 4 digit number.

Write down a number underneath this so that the digits add up to 9 all the way across.

Now tell them the answer.

To get it, take the first number they wrote,
put a 1 in front of it, and take away 1 and that's your answer.


Their first number: 2783
Their second number: 3785 3785
Your number: 6214 + 6214
------- = 9999

Answer: Take their first number: 2783
Put a 1 in front of it: 12783
Take away 1 from the answer 12782
12782 is the right answer.
8. Good Guess
Take slips of paper, asking people to give you the first names of people they know. Write the first name down carefully, and then put it in a hat. Then ask another person for a name and pretend to write it down. What you are really writing down is the first name again.
Ask for another name from someone else. Pretend to write that down. Ask how to spell it. But really write down the first name again.
Once you've written down some names, hold the hat over someone's head.
Tell them to pick out a name without showing you.
Then think hard, and tell them the name you wrote down on all the pieces of paper.
Take the hat back and throw the rest of the paper slips away!

9. Hot coins
Take a handful of different coins. Ask someone to look at them and remember what kind of coin it is. Ask them to look at the date and remember it. Ask them to pass it on to the others and let them see it and remember the date on it too. Make sure everyone holds the coin. Then tell them to drop the coin into the hat.
Magically you can tell which it is just by feel- it will be the one that's warm.

10. Magic Words
Find three things.
One has red on it, but no black.
One has black on it but no red.
One has both black and red.
Pick a secret helper.
Tell the group to pick one of these three things while you are away.
When you come back you'll tell them what they chose.
Go out of the room.
Wait for them to call you.
If the helper says
“Come back now!” That means they chose the thing with black on it.
If the helper says
“We're ready!”
Then it's the thing with red on it.
If the helper says “We're ready. Come back!”
Then you'll know it's the one with red and black.

11. Which is it?
Take another bunch of objects. Have the audience pick one of them while you are out of the room. When you come back your secret helper will point to the objects one by one and say “Is it this one?” “Is it that one?” When he says “This one?” You'll know that's what the people chose.

12. Secret Number
Another way to do the trick is that the fourth thing your helper points to is the one people chose.

13. Easy Knot
Fold your arms.
Keep them folded while taking one end of a rope in each hand.
Slowly unfold your arms.
The rope will have a knot in it!

14. Hole in the hand trick
Take a cardboard tube.
Look through it with one eye.
Put your hand next to the tube.
Keep both eyes open.
Look at something through the tube.
It will look like there's a hole in your hand!

15. Mobius Strip
Cut out a wide, long strip of paper.
Join it together so you make a loop.
Cut out another wide long piece of paper.
This time give it a twist so you join the back of one end of the strip to the front of the other. Tape it together.
Cut out another strip of long wide paper and give it two twists.
Tape it together.
Now cut each loop lengthwise and see what happens!

The second loop is funny because it only has one side. If you take a pencil and draw a line lengthwise down the strip you will find that when you get back to where you started from you've written on both sides of the paper.

16. Walk through Paper
Take an ordinary piece of paper. Do you think you could walk through it?
Just cut along the lines and find out!
(The pattern's in the take home bag).

17. Stamp Trick
Fill a jar with water.
Put on the lid.
Put a stamp underneath it.
You won't be able to see the stamp .

18. Upside down
Fill a jar with water, right to the top.
Cover it with a square of cardboard.
Take the jar to a sink and hold the cardboard onto the jar.
Turn the jar upside down.
Let go of the cardboard.
The water won't fall out.

19. Jumping Elastic
Put the elastic over your first two fingers.
Fold your fingers over.
Put all your finger tips under the band.
Keep your hand closed.
To start the trick, show people the outside of your hand so they think it's only around two fingers.
Then open up your hand.
It will look like the elastic jumped to your other two fingers.

20. Cheesecloth trick
Fill a jar half full of water.
Cover it with cheesecloth.
Put a rubber band around it to keep it on.
Take the cup to the sink.
Turn it over quickly.
The water doesn't fall out!
Push up on the cloth.
Bubbles go up into the glass!

21. Soap trick
Float the matchsticks in a pan of water.
Dip a toothpick in soap.
Put the soapy tip in the water.
See what happens.

22. Red Cabbage Trick
Have an adult boil some red cabbage.
Let the juice cool.
Pour it into a cup.
Drop some baking soda in.
The juice will change from purple to blue.
Pour in some vinegar and it will turn red.

Bases turn cabbage juice blue.
Acids turn it red.
Neutrals don't change it at all.

23. Rising wand
Take the button from the bottom of your wand and hold it between your thumb and first finger.
Grab the wand in the middle with that hand.
To start the trick, slowly let the wand slide through your fingers. It will jump up!

24. The Twisted Matchbox
Take a matchbox, cut it in half, then stick the two pieces together so one side is face up and the other is face down. Put a small dot on one end.
To start the trick, take the box and another plain box and ask someone to copy what you do.
Put the dot towards you.
Open the boxes a little so you both start the same.
Then slowly turn, twist and move the box.
Tell the other person to copy you as you do it.
Then open up the side with the dot on it.
Get them to do the same.
Their box will be different every time!

25. The Magic Ring
Fold a string in half. Take the folded end and put it through the ring. Put the other ends over the edges of the ring and thread it between the ring and the loop.
Pull it tight.
Ask someone to hold on to each end of the string.
Cover the string with a cloth.
Pull the loop over the ring.
It will be free!

26. Cereal box trick
Open the trick box.
Pour cereal into the small hole.
Put one piece of cereal in the rest of the box.
Put the flap over the small hole. This is to stop the cereal from falling out.
To start the trick, tip the box over a bowl.
Say, “I must be out of cereal”.
Open the bottom flaps and let the others see right through the pack to show it's empty.
Then close them again.
Let go of the flap you were holding before.
Pour out the cereal.

27. Banana Trick
Poke a toothpick into the banana and move it side to side.
Poke it in another place and do the same thing.
Poke it two more times.
Then get someone to peel it over a plate.
The banana will fall out in slices.

28. Missing Matchboxes
Hold a piece of cloth in your open hand. Stick the rectangle on top. Put the two matchboxes on top.
Close your hand to grab them.
Hold them face down.
Drop the boxes but keep holding on to the flat cardboard.
Lift it up and move it away.
Say the magic words and flick the cardboard sideways.
It will look like the boxes disappeared into thin air!

Joke tricks

29. What's on the paper?
Give someone a pencil and paper.
Tell them “Here's some paper. Write anything you like and I bet I can tell what's on it.”
When they've finished, tell them to fold it and put it on the floor.
Now tell them to stand on it.
Then say “I know what's on that paper. You are!”

30.Drink through table trick
Put a glass of water on the table.
Cover it with a hat.
Say that you bet you can drink it without touching the hat.
Go under the table and make drinking noises.
Stand up and say, “see- I did it”
When someone picks up the hat to check, grab the glass and drink the water!