Friday, December 19, 2008

Nothing attracts the ladies like the smell of fast food

If the McDonald's "I don't know where Paraguay is" ads haven't completely melted your brain have a look at this.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I'm not keen on mass-produced Lattes

The huge ice storm that debilitated most of Massachusetts on Thursday night missed the Pioneer Valley. We got mostly slush and rain and the worst that happened was the little stream that runs behind the house overflowed into the yard. There are apparently people all over the state who still are without power 4 days later, but it was a non-event here.
I took Thursday, Friday and today off work to attempt to get Christmas stuff done. With Traci and Audrey's help I finished almost all of my shopping on Thursday. The majority of my gifts are (or will soon be) handmade and Friday was set aside as 100% knitting day, but I got distracted by other crafty ideas. I found a big bag of buttons cheap and bought some jewel toned pins and a styrofoam tree form at Michael's to make this button tree:

Then I saw this project on Just Like Martha and had to try it. Apparently the idea was first published in Readers Digest many years ago as an idea for old issues. I chose an extra fat womens magazine, so the folding took an hour and a half. I'm pleased with it though. The original instructions call for spray paint and glitter, but I like the look of it bare.

I did get lots of knitting done in the last 3 days, but I can't show you most of it until after the gifts are given. There is one large thing blocking on my living room floor now (the cats in their excitement that I am home for the 4th day in a row keep running across it, so I'm having to smooth it out every 5 minutes).

There's a new original katywhumpus design that will be given to (and named in honor of) my sister. I started off taking careful notes, but started tweaking and changing and forgot to write everything down, so I'm going to have to make a second one after the holidays in order to write up the pattern.

I've got a few other projects done and in the works, but I put them aside on Saturday to make this year's Christmas hat. I made the first of these hats in 2005 on a whim. They're dorky long hats that make people giggle. The original is seen below in one of my favorite photos of my folks.
That Christmas the hat was worn by everyone in the family. When someone was grumpy and anti-holiday spirity, they were made to wear the hat. It popped up in lots of family photos from that winter. The 2006 hat was similiar but had thin green stripes like a candy cane. I have no photos of last year's hat as it was done last minute and I don't have it here because I forgot it at Mom and Dad's house and it got packed up with the decorations last year. It was red and green with simple embroidered snowflakes and a tassel instead of a pom pom. Since the hats seem to be getting more complex every year, I somehow decided it would be a good idea to do fair-isle snow flakes around the edge this year. I don't do fair-isle as a general rule, but I thought it would only be a few rows (and it would be good for me to reach outside my comfort zone). But then, once I started, I couldn't stop....I'm finishing a small kitting project this morning and then getting out the sewing machine to make some eco-gifts. I'm not much of a sewer, but I've had this idea in my head for months. I'll post photos after the big day if it all works out ok.

I've been watching a lot of movies and TV while doing all of this knitting. Because my hands are busy I don't always fast forward through the commercials (I almost never watch live TV...). I'm loving the new Ozzy Ozbourne adverts for Sprint. I've always admired that Ozzy is quite happy to make fun of himself.

On the other hand I'm increasingly offended by the new McDonald's campaign. Apparently McDonald's is now serving coffee drinks and are marketing them by poking fun at traditional coffee shops. The underlying message of this campaign seems to line up with the republican attacks during the presidential campaign on so called Latte Drinking Liberals. The first advert shows two guys in a coffee shop, one guy tells the other that McDonalds now has cappuccinos. They are both psyched because now they can shave their goatees, talk about football and get rid of their fake glasses.

But last night I saw the female version of the ad. I couldn't breathe for a few minutes after seeing it. It's so disgusting I don't even have words....

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Big questions

Last night, watching the Daily Show, I found myself mulling over a very important question. It had nothing to do with cabinet appointments or financial crises or even pirates. It's bigger and more complex than that.... Why is it that I find Dennis Leary so attractive? I mean, he's not... But there's something there. Traci has a theory we've discussed before (to do with New England Girls and Irish Catholic Boys from South Boston), but I'm not convinced that's all of it. I'm mystified. Please if someone could clear this up for me it would put my mind at ease.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A bit of politics, some cake and a little knitting

I cleaned the inside of my car this weekend. I'm a little embarrassed to admit how long it had been. Here's a clue... I found this under one of the seats:

Incidentally, I heard today that Howie is stepping down as DNC Chair. I hope that means there is a job for him in the Obama Administration.

In other political news, have I told you I live next door an outspoken, compassionate, bi-partisan preschooler? Her parents both had birthdays this weekend.

Me: "Should we make a cake for Momma and Daddy?"
Ragamuffin: "Yes! A Barocket Obama cake..."
Me: "Ok, we can probably do that."
Ragamuffin: "...aaannnd, John McCain Cupcakes"
Me: "?"
Me: "ummm, what do John McCain Cupcakes look like?"
Ragamuffin (in a "Duuuhh Katy" tone of voice): "They're purple."

So, I bought a cake mix (I considered for a minute making a cake from scratch but then remembered I was baking with a FOUR YEAR OLD). I went with the chocolate/vanilla marble cake which seemed fitting for the theme. We cooked half the mix in a round pan and the other half as cupcakes. Ragamuffin did well assisting, but she's "a little scared" to crack eggs.

Purple icing was easy, but I wasn't sure what to do about the Obama cake. Pastry bags being a bit unwieldy for a four year old and all. In the end, I bought red and blue sugar and cut a stencil from paper. I held the stencil and she sprinkled. A few sprinkles went on the floor....
While I cleaned up she climbed up and squatted barefoot on my counter and ate large handfuls of leftover frosting.... Her parents love me...

Then we had cake for lunch!

I have a kajillion knitted things to take photos of (and they're not all gnomes). Melissa took some photos (we did a whole photoshoot thing one afternoon) of my favorite recent project at Rhinebeck last month, but I haven't seen them yet. There are lots of other things, but I've been lazy about the photographing. Traci snapped this one of my election day project (knit in the car on the way to New Hampshire and later at the party) because I happened to be wearing it while cleaning out my car and she had the camera out:

It's the Celtic Hat which I have made 3 or 4 times in the past. Really it was just an excuse to use some of the yummy Cormo/Silk/Alpaca yarn I bought from Foxfire Fiber at Rhinebeck. If I could knit a bed out of this yarn I'd sleep happy for the rest of my days.

Looking at the photo, the hat seems a little short. I may need to actually block it and see if that helps.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

It's a New Day

You go - way to make me cry. Again.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Did that really happen?

Voting early in the morning.
A parking lot full of people from my town on their way to New Hampshire.
Obama signs all over a small NH town.
NH residents thanking us for knocking on their doors.
A bar full of friends. Excited but nervous.
Texting my sister in her class that the first state Obama won was Vermont.
Obama taking Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Ohio!
Red states turning blue.
Obama wins! Screaming. Jumping. Hugging.
Image on the screen of tears streaming down Jesse Jackson's face.
Tears on my own cheeks.
Texts from friends around the country (and one from the UK).
A phone call from people I love partying in Chicago.
Obama's getting his daughters a puppy!
Florida! Virginia!
Tears. More hugs.
Main Street full of people screaming, dancing, cars honking at 1am.
Emails from friends around the world.
Call from mom this morning in which she predicted that Prozac use will go down.
Listening to weary friends celebrating on local radio this morning (Bill says 'food will taste better').

What will I do now?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Say quick that you believe! If you believe, clap your hands!

I'm twitchy and unfocused today. I keep having to remind myself that the election is tomorrow. My little brain somehow cannot fathom that it is almost over. I know that everyone is saying that this election is unlike any they can remember - and I know that it's true. When I think back over all the energy and passion and anger and frustration and hope that I (and the people around me) have expressed over the past year, I can't think of anything that compares.

I thought I might distract myself by trying to make a list of things to obsess about after tomorrow. Something's got to replace all this politicy stuff whirling around in my head right? But I can't think of anything.

I'm crazy nervous. I know the polls look good, but that makes me worried that people will be lazy and assume they don't need to go out and vote.

Please. Vote. The thought that you might not is making me nauseous.

PS. I'll miss you Helen. You've helped keep me sane the past few weeks. Please don't stop.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Dancing a little jig while I type this

I have just done something amazing. I made a phone call that finished something I've been working on for fourteen years. And it is with you, dear internets, that I'm sharing this news first. Because I know you, dear sweet internets, will say, "Hey that's great!" and "Congratulations" and "We should go out for drink to celebrate." And I will say, "Ok, but I'm buying. I can afford it because I just finished paying off my student loans."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pumpkins, Politics and Gnomes... oh my!

A new little guy appeared in my house over the weekend:
The gnome pattern is ready to go and I'm just waiting for the nice folks at Ravelry to add me as a seller to I can upload it.

I seem to be all consumed with politics and the election now that there are just eight days to go. I almost cannot believe that the day is almost here. There are big plans for the big day. I'm going to get up early and go and vote, then Bill and GL and I are headed up to New Hampshire to volunteer to do whatever the Obama people need us to do. We'll head back into town and get over to PCT early to stake out some space for the party. We (Knitting Liberally and Drinking Liberally) are co-hosting with Hampshire County Obama'08,The Northampton Democratic City Committee and the Young Dems. Everyone is welcome! Jaz will be broadcasting live on WRSI from the party. Free buffet with a cash bar. Free WiFi if you need it.

The all consuming, impending election was a driving force at the pumpkin carving party Tom and Tina threw on Saturday night.
Tom and Tina have a cauldron full of pumpkin carving tools.
Tom finished first.
My 'Ooobama' pumpkin in progress.
Tina scraping the last of the guts out.
Lots of guts.
Tom set up for the big reveal.
GL and Abigail waited patiently for the candles to be lit.
Do you think we got our message across?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Meet the Budget Gnomes

Meet Tax and Spend. They are the little magic gnomes that help John McCain with his math.

Tax is a cranky little guy who isn't happy with the way things are going in this country. He's not afraid to say things that will upset people. He's angry. Some might call him a... what's the word again... oh yes... a maverick. When people tell him his ideas don't make sense or that he's got his facts wrong, he rolls his eyes and turns pink. Sometimes he's trying so hard not to curse he has to write his nasty thoughts down with a fat black marker and then throw the paper away. If he gets really frustrated he might accuse you of being a terrorist (or just friends with one), but he knows that's not nice and eventually he'll take it back.

Spend is a helpful gnome, he wants to help you (especially if your name is Joe and you are a Plumber or you're just someone who likes to drink 6 cans of beer). He knows times are tough and you people on Main Street and in small faraway towns in Alaska are worried about your families and your jobs. He'll give you nice sounding vague thoughts on how he wants to help you, but more often he's going to tell you how he thinks somebody else wants to hurt you and take away your money (even when it's not true). He can be a little mischievous and crafty even though he looks nice. He's a maverick too! Isn't he sweet?

Tax thinks the government spends too much money. He wants to freeze all spending except for stuff like defense (he likes guns and he knows a pretty northern girl who likes them too). He wants to lower taxes (be careful though because he never says he's going to lower your taxes, but somebody's taxes will be lowered). He's not going to waste your money on silly things like the environment or education. What do you need with police and firemen and nurses and teachers and childcare and social services anyway - you're tough, you can take care of yourself! Tax thinks you're a maverick too!

Unlike Tax, Spend likes the environment. He supports alternative fuels like Clean Coal Technology and Nuclear Energy (he can even pronounce it correctly). You'll find he's not clear on how he's going to pay for the research, but if somebody in the private sector wants to fund it he's going to be really super supportive! And if that doesn't work out he'll find some money to pay for drilling off our coasts. Because he cares about stuff! In fact, he cares about you so much he's going to give you some money toward your health insurance (so you don't have to worry your little heads about it). It might not be enough, but he thinks it will solve the problems with health care in our country. He's got other plans too, but you'll have to look them up on his website (or you can just watch the nice people on Fox News and learn everything you need to know).

So everyone can stop worrying now, (doggone it!) Tax and Spend are here to save us! They're really good at making math really confusing so you don't have to bother to try to figure it out. They're going to sort our government right out. They know how to make soup from a stone AND a mountain from a molehill. We'll be alright! You all can stop complaining and go back to drinking your lattes (Tax and Spend like lattes too, but shhh don't tell 'kay?).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Budget Gnomes!

John McCain keeps proposing a Spending Freeze and then in the same breath talks about his big health care credits for everyone, how much he's going to support alternative fuel research, major tax cuts and funding for education. I just don't understand how his math works. Is it me? Does he have some secret way to lower taxes and not spend anything, but also pay for all this stuff? It has to be magic!

Friday, October 10, 2008

More hometown pride

My friend Kristina's dad has done it again! From the guy who brought you "Mama's Votin' for Obama" (which I had stuck in my head for days...), comes the fabulous sing-along "Sarah!":

Excuse me Mr. Senator?

John Kerry was in town last night for what was supposed to be a public forum, but ended up being a typical stump speech instead. At the end, as Kerry was handing off the microphone to someone else, a local character (they call him The Motown Man - he wears a sparkly cape every day) piped up with the question I think most of us were there to ask. He asked why the senator voted for the financial bailout bill. Kerry took back the microphone and started by calling the bill despicable (I suppose he meant the situation was despicable), but then went on to defend it and explain why he supported it. I had hoped to hear a bit of dissent from him, but there was none.

I wonder if the passing of this bill and the support or non-support of it is the new Iraq War vote. In 4 years time, when we are in the throes of our next election, will our candidates have to justify their votes on this bill in the same way that we ask why they voted for the war and then came out against it?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Something random I learned this morning.

Reading this article in the NYT about making full meals in a Rice Cooker I learned this:

"Japanese cooks, however, consider toasted rice overcooked and highly undesirable. The unwanted crust left stuck to the bottom of the rice cooker is called okoge — the same word used as slang for a single woman who spends a lot of time with gay men."

Saturday, September 27, 2008


"You know, when I was a kid, I always thought I'd grow up to be a hero."
- Butch Cassedy

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Things I am doing this weekend....

1. Watching the presidential debate (or maybe just Obama talking if that other guy doesn't show...) at Lord Malsbury's Plen Aire Moving Pictures (sadly indoors due to the rain).

2. Going to the League of Women Voters Annual Booksale.

3. Brunch at the Bean

4. Doing something with those apples I bought last weekend.

5. Making Chocolate Cake in 5 minutes.

6. Working on the perfect fall sweater.

7. Watching this over and over again.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hometown pride

I've got a bone to pick with my old friend Kristina. We've known each other since the first day of first grade and you don't even think to send me an email about this? I have to hear about it from my aunt who read about it in her local paper in Maine?


Your dad is the bee's knees. But how come your mom didn't get a cameo?

Mama's Votin' for Obama:

Monday, September 22, 2008

Lush and Lacy

I was supposed to go away with my mother this week, but decided I'd been away too much lately and stayed home. I still took today off work though. I spent the morning cleaning out the fridge and the pantry (sorry about that Kevin...). And the afternoon finishing a sweater.I started this sweater back in late May/early June and it knit up super fast. This is my third Sweaterbabe project and I adore them - easy to follow and a good range of sizes. Katherine is a tiny woman, but she knows how to design for the more curvy among us... The yarn is a scrumptious blend of silk and wool that had been burning a hole in my stash for a while. It's Reynold's Rapture that I scooped up at Webs when it was (sadly) discontinued.
The Pattern is the Lush and Lacy Cardigan. I was not convinced until the knitting was done that this was even going to work on me - a short cropped cardigan in bulky wool is not exactly the best choice if you don't weigh under 115 pounds.The sweater was knit and blocked weeks before I found the perfect vintage glass buttons on Etsy. But the buttons proved to be too heavy for the fabric and pulled the whole front out of shape. So the sweater sat for another month.
Finally this week, craving a sense of completion (and the weather has turned fallish and I want to wear the thing....), I brought it into town on a quest for the perfect ribbon. I fortuitously ran into Rue on my way. Rue has a way with this sort of thing. We went straight to Essentials (where they have all sorts of tempting things) and, after some searching (if only that eiffel tower ribbon had been wide enough...), found the perfect ribbon. It goes with the buttons and reflects the diamond pattern from the sweater.
It took most of the afternoon today to sew on the ribbon. Sewing is not my strongest suit, and I was afraid to do it on the sewing machine, so I hand sewed it on. I'm really pleased with the results.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Nobody does.

The other day I was at a craft fair with neighbor Pete after work. As we strolled past a table selling scratch-'n-sniff clothing, Pete suggested that I should buy myself a pair of the underwear. 'There's a muffin scented thong,' he said. (In my defense, I had not eaten much all day and was in the process of quickly sucking down a beer which was going straight to my head...) I replied, very loudly in a small crowded space, 'NOBODY WANTS TO SMELL MY MUFFIN!'

Thinking this over later, I wonder about the saleability of scratch-'n-sniff underwear. Is that really an area you want to associate with scratching? Scratch, scratch, scratch... 'Mmmm, smell this!' 'No really! It smells good! I promise!'

Friday, September 5, 2008

Promise vs. Fight

HuffPo has an article today comparing words used at the DNC and RNC conventions. They've got a pretty good visual, but I thought I'd wordle some of the speeches to see what words the individuals used most. In wordles the words are sized based on how often they are used in the selected text. Looking through the galleries on wordle, I realize I'm not the first person to do this, but whatever...

Let's start with the wives. Here is Michelle Obama's speech. The words that stand out are 'Barack', 'work', 'world' and 'people'.In Cindy McCain's speech you see 'John', but 'Country' instead of world. Interesting...
The VP Candidates starting with Biden... 'Barack Obama Change' clearly stand out here. And he mentioned John McCain more often using his first name than his last. Sarah Palin used McCain's surname more often (she is his junior after all and has not claimed - like Joe Biden to be his 'friend'). She also used the word 'Man' quite a bit. I feel like if this was Hilary Clinton or anyother female politician making a VP acceptance speech that would not have been the case.

Then we come to John McCain's speech inwhich his most used word was 'fight' (is anyone surprised by this?)....

In comparison Obama's most used word was 'promise'. And I believe he does.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Week in the Life of....

I've had a pretty good week. I started by taking last Thursday and Friday off work (and Monday too!). On Friday afternoon, I suddenly realized I felt more relaxed than I had in a long time. I definitely needed several days of unstructured chill time.

Friday night Bill, Tom and Tina and I went to the Demolition Derby at the Cummington Fair. I filled my belly with hand cut french fries and pulled pork before we made our way up the hill to watch the derby. It was awesome.After the first big crash, I was totally desensitized to automobile violence and loved every minute of it. Tina and I ran reconnaissance missions for mini-donuts, fried dough and cotton candy between heats. And a tiny little slip of a girl won the whole thing! I'm not sure why that felt so inspiring, but we celebrated with her as she danced a victory dance on the roof of her tattered car. Tina has more photos here.We wandered around the late night fair grounds a bit before going home.

And Bill ate Jack's Buns....The whole time we were at the fair we were all a bit twitchy because of the lack of cell phone reception. We waited with baited breath on the way home for signals to come back, expecting important text messages. We needn't have worried though. Early the next morning - 3:13am to be exact - I got the text message from the Obama campaign telling me he had wisely chosen Joe Biden as his running mate.

On Saturday, after a trip to the Northampton Farmer's Market for corn and lots of tomatoes, my parents arrived form Vermont to celebrate my birthday. There was champagne and Mom brought Red Cake. This is a family tradition. We always have Red Cake on our birthdays. It's an old recipe also known as Red Velvet Cake (anyone remember the armadillo groom's cake in Steel Magnolia's?). It's a big pain in the ass to make and my mother threatens that each one she makes will be her last. But we continue to demand them and she continues to make them. I have even demanded them on my brother's birthday on years when he couldn't make it home (I always call and tell him I have done so and that it tasted delicious....).

Sunday was beautiful. Several months ago, when the Tanglewood schedule was released, I mentioned to friends that the BSO was performing Beethovan's 9th symphony on my birthday. Darling GL offered to make the arrangements and planned a perfect picnic. It was great! Lots of friends and my folks. Pimm's cups, more champagne, cupcakes, tomatoes from Tom and Tina's garden and lots of other yummy stuff. My camera batteries died after I took one photo. But Traci has more.
From left to right, that's Pete, my dad in his vacation hat, Tom (who isn't really glaring I don't think), my mother and Andre's laptop (isn't that paper done yet Andre?).

Monday was another relaxing day of doing not much of anything. I made lots of tomato sauce from the case of bruised tomatoes I picked up cheap at the Farmer's Market. I make my Uncle Andy's recipe which is easy and yummy. In the midst of winter it tastes like summer. I froze some, but it didn't make as much as I would have hoped. Not enough to get me through the winter. So if anyone (and you know who you are) has excess tomatoes, I'm happy to take them off your hands.

GL came over for pasta Monday night. We interacted on the internets with Bill (who was streaming video of himself live from Denver) until it was time for him to head into the convention floor. (In fact, we all interacted lots with BillTV this week, but he wouldn't do the chicken dance for me.... I guess I can understand that he didn't want to embarrass himself in front of the rest of the important people in the media tent...) After a few glasses of left-over box wine from Tanglewood, Traci, GL and I all got misty-eyed during Michelle Obama's speech.

My evenings this week have been consumed by the Democratic Convention. The Clintons, the Bidens (Beau and Joe) and even John Kerry gave terrific speeches. The highlight, of course, was last night. Northampton Dems held a party at Paradise City Tavern. (Traci and I were delighted to find that they now have Blue Bird Bitter on tap. I adore this beer - I could drink it all day.)

Traci and Eleanor waiting for the show to start.

First there was Al:
And then Barack gave the amazing, inspiring speech we all needed.
There was happiness....
There were also photographers and reporters everywhere. See that guy behind Andre?