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September 02, 2010

In search of the perfect travel mug

I love coffee and tea, and I have never, ever found a travel mug that meets all my specifications:

1. Seals completely.
2. Fits in a cupholder - not too wide, and not too narrow/tall that it flops around.
3. Comes COMPLETELY apart to wash - this means that if the top has a slidey bit, the pieces need to detach so each can be washed thoroughly.
4. A handle is nice but not mandatory.
5. Will not break if I drop it.
So. Anyone have one that fits the bill?

Posted by Kat at 03:00 PM | Comments (4)

July 28, 2010

Anti-frizz, anyone?

I probably should have asked this earlier in the summer, but oh well. Do any of you have favorite hair products to help deal with humidity-induced frizz? A few friends had recommended Garnier Fructis products, so I'm trying them this week, but I wondered if anyone else had suggestions. Ideally, I'd like something affordable, easily accessible (bonus points if it's at Target), and not at all labor-intensive. Help!

Posted by Kat at 05:00 PM | Comments (2)

July 21, 2010

Where do you put your scarves?

A question for the knitters (and non-knitters, really): How do you store your winter accessories - scarves, hats, mittens, etc.? You can't possibly all do what I tend to do, which is either not quite finish things, or leave them completed in a Ziplock bag somewhere and then have nothing to wear when I actually need it. So. They need to be out of the way but accessible, reasonably organized, and protected from moths. Now that I type that out, a Rubbermaid bin in or near the coat closet seems like a logical answer, but does anyone have any other ideas?

Posted by Kat at 04:00 PM | Comments (2)

July 15, 2010

Trader Joe's Favorites?

The nearest Trader Joe's is in Massachusetts, and it's right over the border so it's really not that far, but the fact that it's in a different state provides some sort of mental barrier that means I only get there once every few years. (I really should work on that.) Finally, the longing for Cinnamon Cat Cookies for People has become strong enough to prompt me to plan a trip this weekend. What else should I look for? Anything exciting and new in the two years or so since I was last there? Older favorites I may not know about? I may as well stock up while I'm there, although I'm going to try to stop making it quite so long between trips, anyway.

Posted by Kat at 11:00 AM | Comments (3)

July 06, 2010

XM Radio

My new car came with an XM radio free trial, and may I just say that whoever came up with that idea is a marketing genius? There's no way I'll be able to give it up after three months. So! Questions for those of you who have experience with this:

1. What are your favorite stations that I should make sure I check out during my trial period?

2. Any tips or suggestions for things to take into account when I decide what kind of package I want to actually buy?

Posted by Kat at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2010

Podcasts, anyone?

I know I've asked this before, but hey, things change. So. I'm working on a post about my current favorite podcasts, but before I finish, I want to know if you have any favorites I should make sure I try. My current playlist is rather skewed toward the BBC. Which is not actually accidental. But still. I'm sure there's non-BBC stuff out there that's worth a listen. Tell me where!

Posted by Kat at 03:00 PM | Comments (1)

April 19, 2010

Sandal recommendations?

I need some new sandals for work for this summer. The past few years I've gotten whatever Target has that seems reasonable, and that's been okay, but I figured I'd throw this out there for other recommendations. Here are my criteria:

1. Work-appropriate. We're pretty casual, but flip-flops are discouraged.
2. Comfortable. I want to be able to wear them all day, and do a fair amount of walking without blisters or anything. I take walks during breaks at work, and I'm much less likely to actually do that if I have to change my shoes.
3. Versatile. I want to be able to wear them with more or less anything. The ideal color would probably be a "natural" brown that looks neutral enough to wear with black, as well.
4. Cheap and/or durable. Obviously, cheap and durable would be best. But if you swear they'll last me for years, I'm willing to spend a little more. On the other hand, if they'll only last me one season, they'd better be cheap.
So! Suggestions? Your favorites? Brands or styles you would NOT recommend? Thanks!

Posted by Kat at 07:42 AM | Comments (2)

March 04, 2010

What's with yellow ribbons?

When yellow ribbons started appearing everywhere in 2002 or so, I remember discussing with my mother how perplexed we were. I mean, we got that they were intended to support the troops, of course, but WHY? Doesn't yellow mean cowardice? I never really remembered to look it up, but my friend Adam has been tweeting about this story about a town in CT struggling over whether to allow ribbons on the Green. (It looks like they are now allowing them. I don't know the whole story here, but I personally think that citizens should get town permission for ANYTHING they're putting on town property. What it is doesn't really matter.) ANYWAY. I asked Adam if he knew where the yellow ribbon thing came from in the first place, and he found this article. It's an interesting read. It sounds like people THINK this is a Civil War tradition, but it probably isn't, and it actually has a pretty complicated history. There's a reference in a 1959 book on prison reform, but it's a white ribbon and it has to do with an ex-con coming home, so that's far from a clear-cut reference. The song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" was not copyrighted until 1972, but there's a song from the forties called "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" that IS associated with soldiers being away. The symbol was popularized during the Iran hostage crisis, but doesn't seem to be affiliated with the "Support the troops" slogan until 1991. At which point, of course, people started claiming it was an old tradition. Fascinating.

Posted by Kat at 05:00 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2010

Texas Bleg

I'm heading to Texas for vacation in a few weeks - mostly to the Dallas area, with a few days in Austin. I'm going primarily to visit friends, but I thought I'd throw this out there in case anyone has an favorite attractions/restaurants/etc. I should check out. Thanks!

Posted by Kat at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)

January 22, 2010

Pampered Chef favorites?

I'm going to my first-ever Pampered Chef party this weekend. Any of you regulars? What do I want to buy? The can opener is being universally recommended, it seems...

Posted by Kat at 01:00 PM | Comments (5)

January 04, 2010

Favorite apps?

I'm feeling like I'm not getting the most out of my gadgets, because it rarely occurs to me to go looking for new apps after the first little flurry of activity. So! Tell me your favorites! I have an iPod Touch and an Android-based phone, so either iTunes store apps or Google market apps would be helpful. Free is preferable, of course, but I'm willing to pay for something good. Thanks!

Posted by Kat at 07:16 AM | Comments (2)

July 30, 2009


I'm preparing for a trip to Ireland in September: my aunt and I will be flying into Shannon and then renting a car and driving around. I'm trying to figure out where I want to go. Any recommendations for places to make sure we see, or popular destinations that you don't think are worth it?

Posted by Kat at 10:23 PM | Comments (2)

August 25, 2008

Clip art?

Does anyone know of good free clip art sites for things like flyers? I was just asked to make a flyer for my parish's upcoming Ice Cream Social. (If anyone local is interested in coming, comment and I'll e-mail you the details.)

Posted by Kat at 11:44 AM | Comments (2)

July 28, 2008

What should I read about Ireland?

My aunt and I are planning a trip to Ireland in fall 2009, and I'm beyond excited. I'll be asking for actual travel suggestions soon enough, but my first question, of course, is about books. Since I have over a year to prepare for this trip, I'd like to do a bunch of reading to steep myself in the history, culture, and atmosphere. Help me compile my reading list! I'm open to pretty much anything - new or old; travel narratives, histories, theology, fiction, memoirs, poetry... whatever, as long as Ireland is somehow involved. What are your favorites?

Posted by Kat at 11:31 AM | Comments (6)

May 04, 2008

Where do I go to buy these things?

Does anyone have tips on where to obtain the following:

1) A tea infuser big enough for a whole pitcher of iced tea

2) Those plastic case things that you use to store nice china

Anyone? Thanks!

Posted by Kat at 09:30 PM | Comments (7)

April 22, 2008

I don't care if she's a governor...

Who lets a woman IN LABOR on a plane? To fly from Texas to Alaska? Seriously??

Posted by Kat at 08:29 PM | Comments (4)

September 05, 2007

Reading Lists?

I want to make myself a master list of books to read. I know this is a huge task, so I'm going to start with nineteenth-ish* century literature and philosophy (and maybe some other subjects, if they go along well), mainly British and American. (Mainly because that's what I'm in the mood to read at the moment.) Does anyone know of a good booklist along these lines? Or any personal favorites you want to be sure I include?

* With maybe a little late eighteenth or early twentieth thrown in, if it makes sense.

Posted by Kat at 01:16 PM | Comments (2)

November 10, 2005

Denim dilemma

So, as I mentioned yesterday, my so-called "skinny jeans" are more or less fitting again. (They're still a bit tight, but wearable, so it counts.) I have four pairs of these jeans and I lovelovelove them. Therefore, of course, L.L. Bean has stopped making them. I need to diversify at some point, especially now that I am getting back toward a size at which I am willing to buy clothes. So I have been looking at pants on the L.L. Bean site, because, why yes, I am slightly obsessed with that particular brand. But hey, they're high quality and they fit.

And most of my other pants, now that I am starting to fit into them again, are things that I no longer actually like. I have determined that the correct fit for me is, as defined by dear L.L., "Fit: Sit below waist; slightly fitted through hips and thighs; boot-cut legs." So I think that, in the relatively near future, I will have to get myself a pair of these or maybe these, and probably one of these. (Yes, those last ones have straight legs, but I think that's a risk I'm willing to take in order to see the look on my brother's face when he sees me wearing cargo pants.)

And then I saw these.

Now, there are two main problems that I have with the so-called Boyfriend Jeans:
1. I am generally against the idea of paying someone extra to make my clothing look worn out. It seems a very elitest practice.
2. "Boyfriend Jeans"? What? Who borrows jeans from boyfriends? "Boyfriend sweater," I could see. But jeans? Huh? And besides, why can't these be worn out old jeans of my very own? What's with the implication that I need a boyfriend? (Would you date a man who wore jeans like that?)

These are both very good reasons. But. For some reason, I want them. Really. I have looked at them at least three times today. I am ashamed. So... what to do? Do I hold their name and inherent elitism against them, or do I add them to my Christmas list?

Posted by Kat at 04:18 PM | Comments (3)

November 07, 2005

Dear readers: Need advice.

So. Humor me for a minute and imagine a hypothetical scenario, okay?

You are a manager at one of a big chain of stores. Someone who works at the sister store up the street stops by to see your new paint job, and you end up talking for a while. (You've met her once before, briefly, at the other store.) Somehow the conversation turns to Christmas shopping and she mentions that she's planning to knit most of the gifts she gives this year. (Shut UP. I said this was hypothetical.) You jokingly describe a scarf you'd been wanting.

If said scarf were to actually appear sometime around Christmas, would this be a fun surprise or just creepy? (Erica? Would interstore mail be a possibility, a la the socks? We could start a trend...)

Yes, I know I'm skewing the sample a bit by asking a group primarily composed of knitters. But I asked a group of non-knitters (yes, I do know a few) and, while they concluded that no, it was not creepy, they also all said things like "So are you trying to hit on this guy?" and "Is he cute?" And no, that hadn't even occurred to me. But yes, I guess he is cute, although I wasn't really paying attention to that at the time. He did seem nice and smart and fun to talk to.

So, basically, the non-knitters said to go for it, but be aware that it could come across as flirtatious. I suppose my question for you, dear readers, is threefold.
1. Good idea or bad idea in general?
2. Are random acts of knitting inherently flirtatious?1
3. If it looks like a go... any suggestions on a reasonably priced yarn that comes close to the L.L. Bean color claret red?2

(Yes, I realize Erica, who also works at my store, will now undoubtedly proceed to tell me that she knows this guy and he's married or obnoxious or a psychopath or something. But psychopaths need scarves too, right?)

1 And after reading Juno's post today, I sort of also have to wonder whether that would necessarily have to be a bad thing.
2 It will probably show you a blue coat, but you can click the little "claret red" box to see the color bigger.

Posted by Kat at 01:33 PM | Comments (7)

October 27, 2005

Where babies come from

So I need you all to tell me where babies come from. No, really. Let me explain. As I've mentioned, I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month again this year. And I need a bit of background research help.

Super-condensed plot summary: Shortly after same-sex marriage becomes legal in Massachusetts, Greg (an English professor at a small college) and Sean Patrick decide to get married and have a baby. They ask Greg's best friend Christine to be their gestational surrogate. Christine successfully gets pregnant. Sean Patrick decides he actually doesn't want the marriage and family thing, now that he thinks about it, and leaves. Greg freaks out and isn't sure he really wants the baby at this point either. Then Christine finds out she's carrying twins, and she and Greg have to figure out what to do.

Now. I'm going to have the initial "will you do it?" conversation be in a prologue and then pick up the story once Christine is pregnant, so I won't need any in-depth descriptions of medical procedures. But I want to at least have my facts straight on the basics. So I'm looking for research suggestions: books, Web sites, etc. for facts, as well as blogs for personal stories. Here are some of the questions I need to figure out:

1. What fertility procedure would be most likely here? I was initially thinking IVF, but maybe IUI? But would that decrease the likelihood of twins? The twins are kind of integral to the plot.
2. I think I want the babies to be genetically Christine's. Assuming, for the moment, IVF, would it be likely that they would use her eggs? Assuming no fertility problems, is there a higher success rate for IVF using the eggs of the person who will be carrying the baby rather than donor eggs?
3. I'd also like one twin to be biologically Greg's child and the other to be biologically Sean Patrick's. Is this plausible?
4. What are the major complications they'd be watching for in a twin pregnancy?

Any responses, thoughts, tips, etc. would be most appreciated. Also, I am setting up a list of people who will receive the story via e-mail as I write it. If you are interested, let me know.

Posted by Kat at 09:51 AM | Comments (4)

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