Monday, October 30, 2006

Create a Uniqua Pumpkin

The tradition in our family is to carve the pumpkin the day before Halloween. The youngest members of the family help scoop out the insides, using big spoons. Mom handles the actual cutting.

The question every year, though, is what face shall we carve into that orange globe? Usually we just use our imaginations, but there are years when we want something that shows a little more artistic ability than exists in our family. That's when the templates get printed out!

This year, Nick Jr. has several templates for carving pumpkins that look like some of the current most popular characters. From the Backyardigans, they have Uniqua. Dora, Blue and Wubbzy are also represented.

Oh, and all that goopy mess you pull out of the inside of a pumpkin? We love to eat the seeds. The way we cook them is a little more complicated than most recipes, but results in absolutely perfect seeds.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe
Separate the seeds from the strings (rinsing them in cold water is a great way to accomplish this.) Then, for every half cup of pumpkin seeds you'll need 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring the water and salt to a boil and add the pumpkin seeds. Simmer for 10 minutes, then drain.

Pat the seeds dry with a paper towel. Spray a thin layer of oil over a cookie sheet and spread the seeds out on the pan in a single layer. Spray lightly with oil again. Roast in your oven at 400°F until they start to turn brown. Some recipes will tell you 20 minutes, but I've found it doesn't take that long. Keep a careful eye on them; you don't want them to burn!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Quote of the Week

"Runaway horses always stop running when they hear a tuba."

Tyrone, Polka Palace Party

Friday, October 20, 2006

Backyardigans Quiz

I ran across this the other day while surfing.

The Backyardigans Quiz

Very fun, and surprisingly tricky in a couple of spots. I only got seven right, can you believe it? If you take it, feel free to come back and gloat in the comments about much better you did than me!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Giant Backyardigans Cards

One of the new items available is a series of giant greeting cards from Cards4Kids. Now, these aren't cards you can buy in your local grocery store. These are 18"x24" cards, what Cards4Kids calls "poster-size", ordered online, throught the Cards4Kids website.

As of this writing, there are six cards you can choose from: Birthday, Get Well, Thank You, Congratulations, All Occasion, and Holiday (that would be winter holidays, judging from the picture displayed.) You type in what you want printed on the card, and they ship them out using 2 day priority mail, getting to you about five days after you order it.

Right now the cost is $14.95 plus shipping and handling.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Homemade Backyardigans Costumes

I sure hope none of you have been holding your breath in anticipation of clear and concise instructions on how to make your own Backyardigans costumes. Because I haven't been able to pull anything together.

I'm sorry!!

I tried, I really did, but I just couldn't put together anything coherent. The best I can suggest is, if you want to make your own costumes, you could trying using sweatsuits, face paint and felt. For instance, Uniqua would be in a pink sweatsuit with pink felt spots attached (maybe stitched or hot glued) and then follow the instructions on the Nick Jr. website for the Uniqua face paint. (Or you can watch the video demonstration.) You could twist some pipe cleaners around a headband for her antennae.

Do the same thing for the other characters:

Tyrone - red and blue striped shirt, orange sweat pants, orange face paint

Austin - Blue sweat pants, blue and yellow striped shirt (or blue shirt with a strip of yellow felt around it), purple shoes, purple face paint

Pablo - Beanie with a propeller, blue top coat, yellow sweatsuit, blue face paint

Tasha - Dark orange dress with light orange flowers cut out of felt and stuck on, red shoes, yellow face paint

I hope you find this helpful! Personally, I'm doing it the easy way and buying my childrens' costumes.

Playing Now

Samurai Pie is on, as I type this. If you've forgotten about it though, don't worry, it will be on again this Friday. There are four new Backyardigans episodes premiering on Nick Jr. Monday through Thursday. Friday will be a Backyardigans marathon, and each of the four will be aired again.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Backyardigans Costumes for Halloween

Soooo ....

Thinking about Halloween yet? Can you believe we have less than three weeks left? Which means, if you're planning on buying a Backyardigan costume online, you need to get your order in pretty quickly.

Right now you can buy three character costumes through Amazon - Uniqua, Pablo, and Tyrone. (Naturally. Although we are starting see Tasha and Austin represented a little more in the new merchandise, so maybe we can look forward to costumes for them next year.) They come in sizes 2T - 4T. You can see examples below:

If you're planning on making costumes, we'll be covering that this week, too, so keep checking back!

DVD Review - Mission to Mars

Well, if you just can't wait to see next week's upcoming Backyardigan episodes premieres, you don't have to. You just need to hustle out to get this DVD. Mission to Mars has four new episodes, all of them premiering on Nick Jr. within a couple of weeks of the DVD's release.

  • Mission to Mars - The Backyardigans' first episode with a guest star, Pablo, Austin and Uniqua are astronauts searching Mars for the source of a mysterious "boinga" sound. Features Alicia Keys as Mommy Martian.
  • Samurai Pie - Master pie-making Tyrone, who makes "pie like a samurai" teaches Austin to make pie, while safeguarding Empress Tasha's Great Pie from ninjas Pablo and Uniqua.
  • Scared of You - If you look in the TV listings you'll find this episode title Monster Party, but it's just a title change, not a different episode. Poor Austin is having his worst birthday ever when mad scientist Tasha sends him to go collect a mummy, werewolf, and vampire, but it's all just to get him out of the way while she sets up a surprise birthday party.
  • Whodunit? - Pablo, the World's Greatest Detective, is summoned to Mystery Manor to solve the puzzle of Lady Tasha's missing jewels. The Backyardigans version of the classic English Manor mystery.
The Special Features section has two dance-along songs; "Hold Tight" with Pablo and "A Message, A Message" with Uniqua. Basically, these are mini-lessons in how to do the Twist and the Hop. If you have children who watch much Nick Jr. you might remember seeing these a while back, airing as ads for the Backyardigans. I'm thrilled to see them on this DVD. They make the perfect extras.

There is also a Nick Arcade Game trial, which must be played on a computer with a DVD player.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Lyrics - Almost Everything is Boinga Here

From "Mission to Mars ". Mommy Martian is voiced by Alicia Keys. Baby Boinga is voiced by Shakyra Lipscomb.

Style: Kenyan High Life

Austin: Boinga's a word we don't understand.
Mommy Martian: Well, words are different in Martian Land.
Pablo: Well, we don't know your language yet.
Austin: Maybe you could teach us?
Mommy Martian: Sure, you bet.

Baby Boinga: Boinga!

Mommy Martian: Almost everything is boinga here,
Just in case you hadn't heard.
Almost everything is boinga here,
It's the Martians' favorite word.

Uniqua: Do you call these hands?
Mommy Martian: Nope, we call them boinga!
Austin: Do you use pots and pans?
Mommy Martian: Yup, we call them boinga!

Baby Boinga: Boinga!

Pablo: We wear hats on our heads.
Mommy Martian: Really? We wear boinga!
Uniqua: Do you guys sleep in beds?
Mommy Martian: Nope, we sleep in boinga!

Pablo: Hey!
Austin: That's good.

Mommy Martian: Do your birds say boinga?
Uniqua: No, our birds say tweet!
Mommy Martian: Do your flowers smell boinga?
Pablo: No, they just smell sweet!

Mommy Martian: Do you walk on your boinga?
Austin: No, we walk on our feet!
Mommy Martian: Do you sit on your boinga?
Uniqua: No, we sit on our seat!

Baby Boinga: Boinga! Boinga!

Pablo: You certainly use that word a lot.
Mommy Martian: Well, it means a lot of things, so why not?
Austin: Is there anything boinga doesn't mean?
Mommy Martian: Well maybe there is but not that I've seen.

Pablo, Uniqua, and Austin: Almost everything is boinga here.
Mommy Martian: We boinga all boinga long.
Baby Boinga: Boinga!
Pablo, Uniqua, and Austin: Almost everything is boinga here.
Mommy Martian: So we boinga this boinga song.

Baby Boinga: Boinga!

Pablo, Uniqua, and Austin:Boinga this boinga
Mommy Martian: Boinga!
Pablo, Uniqua, and Austin:Boinga this boinga
Mommy Martian: Boinga!
Pablo, Uniqua, and Austin:This boinga song!
Mommy Martian: Boinga!
Pablo, Uniqua, and Austin:Boinga this boinga
Mommy Martian: Boinga!
Pablo, Uniqua, and Austin: Boinga this boinga

Baby Boinga: Boinga! Boinga! Boinga!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More New Episodes Coming Up Next Week

So we just got to enjoy Mission to Mars (which will play again this Friday, Oct. 13, if you missed it) but are there other new episodes coming up soon? Yes, there are! Nick Jr. has five new episodes airing over the next couple of weeks. Make sure you've got these scheduled on your VCR or Tivo so you don't miss them!

Monday, Oct. 16
Samurai Pie - Samurai pie-maker Tyrone is making a great pie for the empress, but he must protect it from ninjas Uniqua and Pablo.

Tuesday, Oct. 17
Whodunit? - Tasha's jewels have been stolen! Can Detective Pablo sort out which suspect - Tyrone, Austin, or Uniqua - is the guilty party?

Wednesday, Oct. 18
The Legend of the Volcano Sisters - The Luau Brothers Austin, Pablo, and Tyrone must present a gift to the Volcano Sisters Uniqua and Tasha, in order to prevent the volcano from erupting.

Thursday, Oct. 19
The Swamp Creature - Austin and Tasha are tourists looking for the Swamp Creature that guides Uniqua and Pablo have promised to show them.

Monday, Oct. 23
Monster Party - Mad Scientist Tasha sends her humble assistant, Austin, on a journey to bring three monsters back to her laboratory: Mummy Tyrone, Werewolf Uniqua and Vampire Pablo. What Austin doesn't know is that a big surprise birthday party awaits him when he gets back.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Mission to Mars - Today!

In case you've forgotten, or just didn't realize, the newest Backyardigans episode, Mission to Mars, is airing today. It features Alicia Keys as a Mommy Martian, and Keys' niece, Shakyra Lipscomb, as a baby martian. Judging from the music clips we've been hearing on the ads, we should be looking at another half hour of great music today.

You might also be interested in an interview by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette with Janice Burgess, the creator of the Backyardigans. It turns out that she loves action films, and uses the sense of adventure found in them as inspiration for the Backyardigans. She sees the show as fun and creative for the kids watching it, not just another educational/instructive show, but one that goes back to simple imaginative play.

Go check out the whole article to find out Burgess' reaction to being called "the artist" on her contract, her childhood in Pittsburgh, and what she thinks about Alicia Keys being on The Backyardigans.

Friday, October 06, 2006

EW Interviews Backyardigans Choreographer

Fellow Fan Martha, in the comments the other day, shared that Entertainment Weekly has recently done an article about the dancing in The Backyardigans.

(Now, if you didn't already know this, let me fill you in a little. Each of the Backyardigans has two people for their voices - one actor/actress does all the speaking, another does all the singing. They also, however, each have their own dancer. Each musical number is choreographed, then the five dancers are filmed as they perform. The animators then take that film and use it as the basis to get each kid's moves just right in the final product. No wonder we love this show! You can get the details - as far as I know them - on who does what for each character on this page. Just follow the links for each character.)

Beth Bogush, former director of the First Steps Program at New York's Alvin Ailey School, is the show's choreographer. In the interview she gave EW, she shares some remarkably interesting tidbits about how The Backyardigans is created. (And a hint of yet another episode, as Martha pointed out. "The Lady in Pink" is the title, and jazz will be the featured music. Doesn't that sound fun?)

EW has another article about The Backyardigans, a review that you might want to check out just for the sheer pleasure of seeing all the nice things they say about the show. For instance, "... discovering The Backyardigans can feel like wandering into an oasis full of ice-cold fruit pops in the Gobi Desert."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Mission to Mars extras from Nick Jr.

Nick Jr. is providing a lot of extras as part of the upcoming premiere of the new Backyardigans season. (Incidentally, just in case you've forgotten, Mission to Mars will be airing for the first time on Nick Jr. next Monday at 10:30 a.m.)

In addition to a a coloring pack, there are also name badges that you can print out on adhesive ink jet paper, a "Make Your Own Martian" printable, and Mission to Mars song sheets.

If your printer isn't working, you can still send an e-card to a friend. There is also an online Mission to Mars game your child can play. It's a very simple game, well-suited to the Backyardigans preschool audience, with lots of guidance as they play and plenty of tolerance for mistakes. Your child might still need a little help from you, however, on how to use the keyboard and mouse according to the game's requirements. You'll find a link to the game at the Mission to Mars index page.