Point Me

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Making My New House feel Older

The closing date on our house is getting closer and closer. I'm really really excited to move in, and do all that fun home improvement stuff you get to do when you own your own house. We're going to replace the carpets, pull up the silly fence in the backyard, and re-paint the walls all colorful like. I'm excited to make the place our own.

I found this awesome website called historic house parts dot com, that sells salvaged hardware and woodwork from old houses. One of the things that made house hunting hard for me was that I always fall in love with big colonial farm houses and victorians, which were guaranteed to be way out of our budget and 3 times the size of what we really needed. I'm just a sucker for interesting architecture, so I was a little dismissive of our little ranch at first, 'cuz after all, it is just a box. Obviously, I was won over. But this website has gotten me all hot and bothered about incorporating some interesting and historical pieces into our recently built home.

AMAZING "Neptune" door knocker.

Coat Hooks from Belgium

I wants it!

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Cowboy Needs a Horse - 1956

I had the song from this cartoon stuck in my head lately, and the only remedy was to look it up on youtube. I think this cartoon was in a compilation of Disney cartoons I had on VHS. I remembered the song so vividly, but had totally forgotten about the accompanying story.

1. The dreaming boy's house has awesome 1950's "modern" architecture. The drawing style is so wonderfully retro and interesting. It would probably fit in well here.

2. I also like that there's some sort of god figure that creates the accessories for his dream with a giant magical pencil.

3. The adventures he has once he transforms into a cowboy aren't nearly as awesome as the song is, but has a healthy dose of good old fashioned family racism, Disney style. In the 1950's every little boy went to sleep at night and dreamed of oppressing native peoples! Oh, but it's cool at they end, cuz they smoke 'em peace pipe.

4. It's pretty sweet actually, how the cowboy is depicted as this awesome heroic archetype. Refusing reward money, preventing trains from plummeting to their doom, rescuing pretty girls with no expectation of romance. Cowboys aren't really presented as heroes like this anymore. I would chalk it up to the decline of agrarian society, and the fact that robots and heroes with actual powers are way cooler now.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Welcome to America, Silent Library!

Wow! Mtv is making their own version of the Japanese Game Show "Silent Library"! You can check out the trailer for it HERE! I'm kind of excited about this, and I hope that they do it justice.

In Silent Library, you and your friends flip over cards to decide who has to undertake an unpleasant task. The catch is, you and your friends aren't allowed to talk or make any noise during the game. It's amazing. I like the old Japanese version, because the english subtitles of the task names are so bizzare and awesome.

Since being quiet is such a huge part of the game, I'm a little disappointed that MTV chose to blast power metal over the entirety of their promo. But I guess you gotta do something to get the teenagers' attention!

We actually played Silent Library one night over the winter at Tracy Circle. It was so much fun, It's one of my favorite memories of the house. We all made up a few tasks to inflict upon each other. We even built our own slapping machine (3:52) out of a hand drill. I had to eat something ridicuously spicy, Garrett had to do snow angels outside in a t-shirt, and Tim had to explore the disgusting camping toilet that we found in the basement. It was a lot of fun.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Golden Snitch

Meredith and Matt were awesome enough to let us stay at their apartment after the ACBF. It was a lot of fun! We got to to meet Penny the Pug, who is a total sweetheart. I also got the chance to be reunited with my senior year housemate, Hammurabi of Babylon. He looked really good, and seemed to remember Paul and I. It was nice to see his sweet kitty face again.

For taking us out to awesome chinese, letting us crash on their floor, and giving us a chance to play with their menagerie, I thought I should come bearing a gift.

I made a golden snitch from this pattern via the knitted toy box for Meredith. It was a fun project! I enjoyed making the wings particularly. I hope that the resident Harry Potter fan likes it, and uses it as I did; indulging fantasies off being a world class seeker!

"I caught the snitch! The game is over! Yaaay!"

Though I don't think I'd ever take the fantasy of playing a magical wizard game out in public and join a real team, like these private school kids did.

1. Running around with broomsticks between your legs looks uncomfortable and awkward.
2. Is it just me, or does making "the snitch" a big guy draped in metallic gold make it a little too easy to find? These games must be so short!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The American Craft Beer Festival

We went there! I got Paul tickets to the ACBF for his birthday. It was amazing, and so much fun. There were 75 brewing companies there, each with 2 to 5 of their offerings to sample. They give you a 2 ounce glass when you walk in the door, and you get to walk around to all the tables and try everything. It was a fun way to try some new beers and get drunk with thousands of other beer lovers.

It was also really cool to see my old employer, The Gardner Ale House there, rubbing elbows with Smuttynose and Sam Adams. I hope that the weekend was a success for them, and that they won many new fans.

Trying all these different beers, a lot of them blurred together in my memory. Some really stood out though, and I'd like to have a chance to share them. So, without further ado:

Caroline's 5 New Favorite Beers from America

1. Saint Botolph's Town by Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project. Northern English Brown, 5.9% ABV
I was super excited to see Pretty Things had a booth at the fest. Paul and I got to share a big bottle of their saison, Jack D'or, at the Dove once, and it was quite delicious. I was glad to have a chance to see what else they had to offer.
I loved this beer! It had a really nice, toasty, malty flavor. It reminded me a lot of Mayflower Porter, which is a beer I often rave about to people, but even better (sorry mayflower!). This beer is a lot lighter, and with less dusky after taste. It was everything I like in a porter, with the body of an ale.

2. XIV by Weyerbacher. Belgian Wheat Wine, 11.8% ABV

This one is so new it doesn't have a label yet, so I just picked the best one Weyerbacher had from previous brews (obviously, the one with the sassy goat!). This beer is coming out this summer, to celebrate the 14 years this PA brewery has been in business. I had already been won over as a Weyerbacher fan by their outrageously awesome Double Simcoe IPA, and this new offering did not disappoint.
This beer has a rich, fruity flavor and really does register more as characteristically like sparkling wine. It's deliciously tart and crisp though, and seemed like it would be refreshing on a hot summer day. Something about the unfiltered wheat flavor was also quite saison-like. When this guy gets to stores near you, I recommend trying it. It doesn't taste nearly as alcoholic as it is!

3. JuJu Ginger by Left Hand. Spiced Beer, 4% ABV

There are lots of flavored beers out there, chocked full of peaches, apricots and blueberries. Some are tasty, some are not, and some are just taste ridiculously like artificial chemicals. This Ginger flavored beer really stood out to me as what a flavored beer should aspire to. The combination of the beer and ginger was surprisingly refreshing and complimentary. I also really liked the spiciness of it. It was so simple but decidedly unique, I didn't even mind the lower alcohol content. Ooo, I bet this beer would go great with sushi!

4. Hugh Malone by Allagash. Belgian Style IPA, 9.5% ABV

In spite of myself, I have become an IPA fan. I'm not quite sure how it happened, but one day I woke up and realized that really hoppy beers are delicious. This limited edition IPA is really complex and flavorful, with a citrus-y, grapefruity body. It has a great, tingly mouth feel (which isn't something I normally take note of in a beer), and a complimentary bitter after taste that seems to last forever. Even though this beer has a lot going on, it's still very drinkable and downright tasty. Even cooler, Allagash donates $1 to the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association for every bottle of Hugh Malone they sell.

5. Wild Devil by Victory. IPA with Brettanomyces, 6.7% ABV

Victory is my favorite brewery, hands down. I am hugely fond of almost every beer they make. When we came across their booth at the fest, I literally squealed with excitement. I was going to profess my undying love for them and their numerous delights when I got up to the front for my sample, but chickened out, like a middle schooler asking their crush for a dance at a semi formal. So instead of telling them in person, I'm announcing it to the world now. I love you, Victory.

I was also pumped to see that they had Wild Devil on tap, which is the only Victory Beer I had never tried. If I had to describe this beer in one word, it would be "satisfying". Just a really nice, sweet flavor with a refreshing, tart finish. It doesn't really taste like an IPA at all, despite its categorization. It has a nice hoppiness, but isn't harsh or bitter at all. This Beer is made with Brettanomyces, which are the wild yeasts that make Belgian beers so delicious.

All and all it was a really fun time. It was so hard to narrow down the list of great beers to just 5 though!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wednesday Dinner #8- Welsh Rabbit

This dinner is one of my favorite finds yet from "100 Great Vegetarian Recipes". It's a delicious alternative to a boring old grilled cheese sandwich, and quick enough to make as a lunch or a snack.

There isn't any rabbit in Welsh Rabbit. The name comes from the long standing tradition of British people making fun of the welsh. As does this sketch, pointing out the hilarious welsh accent:

Historically, the welsh were too poor to afford rabbit, so their meat of choice became cheese. This cheese sauce is so freaking delicious though, I bet those welshmen didn't even miss that gamey bunny meat.

Serves 2.

1 Tbsp Butter
2 Green Onions
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp flour
2 Tbsp Milk
1/3 cup (heaping) grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 thick bread slices
2 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Cook the chopped green onions over medium heat for 2 mins.

Add the flour and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring for once minute more. Pour in the milk. Stir constantly to make sure the mixture doesn't get lumpy as it thickens. Reduce he heat to low and add the cheese. stir gently until the cheese is melted.

Add the mustard to the cheese mixture and stir till combined. Spread the sauce over your two slices of bread

Place bread on a broiling pan and cook for 2-5 minutes in preheated oven. This should make the bread toasty, and the cheese melty and golden. Om nom nom so good.

Speaking of Rabbits:

Check out this cute bunny finger puppet I made with the leftover yarn from my brother's hat. The face is a little hard to see, but I promise I gave him cute whiskers! I got the pattern here, it was pretty easy, and a nice time waster. They also have instructions for elephants, tigers, pigs and bears.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Brotherly Hat

I finished up the hat for my brother. I plan to give it to him on his birthday in July. I used the same stitch/pattern that I used to make the cap for Paul.

Even though I was working the same pattern, this hat was still a learning experience. I had issues with gaps at the top of Paul's hat, because I tried to decrease the number of stitches per row too quickly. This time, I over compensated and decreased too slowly, creating this awkward nubby point at the top of the hat. Since this was going to be a gift, I thought I should make it look as nice as possible and cover up the weirdness. I opted for the traditional hat topper - a pom pom.

So I guess you can buy pom pom makers online or at craft stores. They cost about $8 and look pretty hi tech and futuristic.

Or, you could do what I did and find free instructions on how to make them on the interwebz.

To start, you will need 6 strands of your chosen yarn, 2 yards long each. You will also need two cardboard circles, with holes about the size of dimes in the middle. These discs should be the same size you want your pom pom to be. I made these out of an old box I found at work.

Wrap the yarn around the discs like so. It can be a little tricky getting started, be sure to secure the loose ends with the thumb and forefinger you 're using to hold the discs.

Once completely wrapped around, slip sharp scissors in between the discs and cut the threads.

Next, separate the discs slightly. Take another strand of thread, about a foot long, and wrap it around the center. Secure the threads with a few tight knots.

Remove the discs and you should have a pom pom. You can trim away any scraggly or loose threads. Pom poms are really fun to make.

I hope my brother likes it. I feel like pom poms are seen as a little childish. I'm hoping that he'll be able to rock it in a hipster ironic way, like animal sweatshirts or big glasses.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Famous Knits

So. I was poking around some free knitting pattern sites today, looking at stuffed animals. I saw this book at barnes and noble and was really tempted to buy it, but wanted to see if I couldn't find some comparable stuff for free on the web first.

The knitting community is actually really cool about sharing patterns online, and I managed to find a veritable treasure trove of projects I could try. There's actually so much out there that the possibilities are a little overwhelming.

While the possibilities of making cute little agurumi birds and teddy bears excite me, I'm not sure if I'm up for some of these projects. Like making dolls that look like famous people.

Harry Potter : Ok, so Harry's a fictional character, not a real person. I still think there's something a little creepy about stuffing a human body.

Audrey Hepburn : This one is pretty impressive. The embroidered face is perfect. It's not just movie stars who get the knit treatment though...

Barack Obama : You can make yourself your own little president. I'm not sure why you'd want this, unless you were a card carrying member of the GOP with a penchant for voodoo. Though I can picture some crazy Amherst lady sitting down for a tea party with her stuffed Barry-O and her cats mumbling about feminism and eating vegan canapes. Obama isn't the only famous politician to be immortalized in doll form though. I've saved the best for last!

Are you ready?

Hillary Clinton: There are no words.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wednesday Dinner #7 - Birthday Spaghetti

This is what I cooked last week for Paul's birthday. This is the second time I'd ever made a homemade Bolognese sauce. The previous time was when I lived with the girls at 480. I had gone home for the weekend and came across the recipe in Oprah magazine, my mom's favorite publication. It was part of an article about seducing your man with food. The author insisted that this bolognese could give you the leverage to make your man do anything. I didn't really need anything to be done, but thought I'd give this magic meal a try.

It was one of my first ever ventures into making food from scratch. I was so clueless, I thought you needed to use oil to cook bacon. This resulted in the sauce being greasier than I'm sure it was meant to be, but still pretty tasty.

This time around I used this recipe from allrecipes.com. It was faster than the Oprah recipe, requiring only 1.5 hours of simmering instead of 4. Also, it uses pre-made tomato sauce, instead of the diced tomatoes called for by O. The result? This birthday sauce was more tomatoey, and had a more liquid consistency than the Oprah one. I asked the Birthday boy which one he liked better, and he preferred Oprah's. Good to know!

I poked around the Internet and found the O-riginal recipe, next time I'll stick with what the queen of the world says is best. I think it must be the 4 hours of simmering that make the big difference.

Even though we took home that whole fondant cake my mom made, I still wanted to bake something for Paul to blow candles out off of. Since we had raspberries in the house, I went with this guy I had seen recently on the blog smitten kitchen. It's fast, easy and delicious. The reason mine looks so much darker than the one in the original recipe is I cuz used whole wheat flour instead of white. I actually would recommend making this as a breakfast treat. With the wheat flour especially, it came out tasting like a fruit and grain breakfast bar. Yum!

Yesterday, I went to the home inspection for the house. It was actually pretty fun and super informative. I really enjoyed it! I know where my emergency water shut off valve is now. Paul and Ialso signed the purchase and Sale for 152 Pearl street. If everything continues to go smoothly, we will soon be homeowners!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

oh. my. gah.

"How Clean is your House" is a British TV show about disgusting people and their squalid homes. Aggie and Kim are cleanliness experts who travel around England uncovering the unbelievable ways people can tolerate living. Kim gets the fun of teaching these animals how to clean up after them selves, while Aggie analyzes sample swabs to uncover what horrible diseases these people should have caught ages ago.

This episode features Corrine "the bird lady." Corrine allows her 11 pet parrots to fly freely around her home, because she loves them like children and can't cage them. I don't really think describing this will do it justice, I can only say you have to see it to believe it.

The whole thing actually seems like a Monty Python sketch. The woman is even creepily like those nasty mother characters that Terry Jones used to play in drag.

My favorite moments:

*Video 1. 1:19- When she rattles off the birds names. The best name award is a first place tie between "Robbie W." (no doubt an homage to the prolific Robbie Williams) and "Charlie Bubbles Bum Bum Bird".

*Video 1, 2:35- Aggie and Kim enter the home for the first time and are dive bombed by the birds. I'm pretty sure one of them is crying.

*Video 2, 2:35- Kim attempts to teach Corrine how to make a natural air freshener for her fridge. When realizing that scooping out a lemon and filling it with salt would be a tad harder than, say, sitting on your butt and allowing a bird to shit on you, she grimaces at the thought of laboring over it.

*Video 2, 3:12- SLUGS????

*Video 2, 6:03 - Corrine gets really into saying "worcester sauce".

- Right at the start, Considering the outcome of eating dinner in a room with 11 loose birds, Aggie comes to the logical conclusion.

- 0:33- After discussing the fact that this woman spends her whole day touching surface teeming with bird poo, Corrine admits to not washing her hands for 8 YEARS. She even gets defensive about the soap in the soap dish, and denies that the grimy soap remains are hers. "They were here when I moved in!" WHAT?

- 0:55 - Kim looses her patience.

-5:10 - Following up a year later. Annnnnnd The inevitable!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Sunday was a gorgeous day that felt particularly like summer. Paul and I agreed that it was a day that called for ice cream. We went to Flayvors of Cook Farm, the best place for ice cream in the valley (Sorry Barts, but it's true!).

I always thought that the misspelling was a joke, like the cows made the sign or something. But it turns out the people who own the farm are the Fayvor family. Not the Cook family after all.

Paul got chocolate peanut butter, and I got strawberry. Flayvors is awesome because they're a working dairy farm, and make all their own ice cream.

They also let you hang out with the cows who make the milk. They keep the babies in these big dog house things.(cow houses?)

I thought this one was particularly beautiful, with that lovely dark eye liner. She's a jersey cow.

This guy was very mouthy, and kept trying to taste me.

I'm looking forward to visiting again. I love eating delicious ice cream, and I love baby cows. When I was about 10 I took care of two baby bulls at 4H camp. It was a really cool experience, cows have strangely unique personalities.

Maybe I'll get a little moo cow for the yard in South Hadley. Cook farm has some embryos for sale!

Animal Husbandry is so weird.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The one where Pluto gets wasted...

I was thinking the other day about the movies I used to watch as a little kid. As a child, I had a very limited media diet, and was only really allowed to watch VHS tapes of disney cartoons and Sesame Street. As a result, I have very vivid memories of these shows, and in some cases feel an especially meaningful emotional attachment to them.

I was thinking about this cartoon the other day, and was really psyched to see there was a copy on youtube.

At some point, Mickey Mouse's dog managed to get a girl pregnant. Pluto does his best John Gosselin impression, attempting to wrangle his "quin-puplets" after a severe brow beating from his baby mama. After succeeding in hopelessly losing all of them, Pluto chugs some malt liquor in the basement. After all, there's nothing funnier than a drunk dad.

I remember thinking this one was pretty amusing as a kid, particularly when Pluto climbed the stairs to "The Bear went over the Mountain". Watching it now though, it's a little crazy that Disney, with their over-the-top child friendly rep, made a cartoon where a dog gets trashed.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

2 Big Things

1. Today is Paul Barba's 23rd Birthday! And it's the first year I can wish him happy birthday as my husband, which is really special and cool. I'm planning on cooking a very special Wednesday birthday dinner. I'll update with recipes and pics later.

On Sunday, we celebrated a little early with my parents and brother back in Hubbtown. My mom made a delicious dinner with all the fixin's (Soup, salad, AND potato!), as well as a chocolate strawberry birthday cake for the guest of honor.

She covered it with a homemade marshmallow fondant. The recipe is here. It was actually pretty tasty, and most of the comments on the site claim that it tastes way better than regular fondant. It was kind of heavy though, and got hardened by the air. It's not buttercream, but man, was it fun to play with.

We used food coloring to dye the pieces. One or two drops was plenty to color a sizeable gob of it. We made the skull because we had a huge ball of extra fondant.

Here are three tips for playing with fondant. 1. Buttering your hands keeps it from getting crumbly as you play with it 2. Dusting of powdered sugar reduces stickiness. 3. To attach your decorations firmly, wet them slightly with water.

The elephant is my favorite part. Paul made him :).
My parents got the birthday boy a gift certificate to a homebrew supply store. Paul is really excited to get down to business, and start making beer in our basement. Which brings me to...


We bought a house! We're going to have our very own basement to brew beer in. We will be residing at 152 Pearl St. (near Bach Lane, of all places!) in South Hadley by the end of the Summer. House warming invitations to come! Now all we;ve got to do is secure a mortgage. :) I feel a little old.