Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bourbon Maple Pumpkin Butter... oh, oh yes

The few days before a holiday like Thanksgiving are the worst. That's of course an exaggeration, but follow along with me. The weekend is over, the lingering work week before the break are upon us. Somehow, the anticipation of having a free pass on vacation days makes the last few days to get there seem even longer. It's like the opening scene of every other teen romcom (romantic comedy) where the kids anxiously stare down the clock until the final bell rings and suddenly horny, clueless, angst-filled teenagers burst out of the high school's double doors to greet summer vacation with cheers and papers flying. Yes, that is how I feel about the last few days before we all get to take some time off for the holidays.

It may be filled with more planning and responsibility than when we were kids - booking the flights home, taking the 2nd trip to the grocery store for a forgotten ingredient and wondering when the little red button in the Jenny-O turkey will pop up and let us know the bird is done - but the added ownership in piecing the day together brings a greater sense of reward and appreciation for the day.

Thanksgiving is still four days away and the last minute planning panic and countdown to T-Time has begun. I'll be spending the day with my family on Camano Island in Puget Sound, thus forcing me to chillax with homemade Manhattans, beach combing and crackling fires. As a take-ahead snack starter, I made Pumpkin Butter with a maple bourbon twist. Pumpkin butter is really a misleading name because it tastes more like a pumpkin candy spread and has no butter whatsoever. It's also delicious on anything from a cracker to a stack of pancakes. Make some for yourself or a Thanksgiving hostess gift.

Maple Bourbon Pumpkin Butter
29 oz. can Pumpkin Puree
3/4 C Maple Syrup
1/4 C Sugar
1/2 C Apple Cider
1/4 C Bourbon
4 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir constantly to incorporate ingredients and avoid bubbles from splattering. Reduce to low heat and cover with a lid. Simmer for 30 minutes and then pour into an air tight jar.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Can You Draw the Internet?

I grew up with dial-up. In 1998 at 12-years old I really only used the Internet to chat with friends on AIM. I may have researched a book report or two on, but the Internet wasn't totally clear to me beyond being a communication tool. The Internet connection regularly failed, mom would pick up the phone or it would just flat out crash, resulting in exaggerated pre-teen meltdowns because I'd be mid-instant message to the hottest boy in the 7th grade and get logged off. So I would sit, staring at the little yellow AOL man as he attempted to log me back on with the digital screeches of modems reconnecting. It was the dark ages. And nowadays the Internet is somewhat of an inconceivable abstraction. Creative agency Saint took this notion and wanted to expand upon it by posing a simple question - can you draw the Inernet? In a culture of grown ups who have seen the the role of the Internet rapidly evolve and creep into every cranny of our lives, business and socialization, we are overrun with the necessity and capacity of the Internet. Yet we can still recall times when the Internet played only a small role, if any at all - smart phones, for example, were first introduced in the mid 90's, and we didn't see our beloved iPhone appear until 2007.

But now, we've reached a place in time where there are young generations who have never experienced life without the Internet at their immediate disposal. Kids have an astonishing innate agility and affinity with technology. While I am still teaching my mother the concept of right-clicking, my boss tells a story of how his 4-year old daughter picked up an iPad during a trip to Best Buy and began to easily navigate the applications using a natural technology common sense.

Saint directed their creative challenge to members of the advertising and design community, and then, to a group of kids in primary school. The results were posted on November 12, 2010 and viewers can vote for their favorite representations. Not only is it interesting to compare the artistic thoughts of professional creative talents and those of some awesome kids, I also find it interesting to examine trends and interpret what makes the highest-ranking drawings "the best" in the minds of the public.

It appears that the front running designs all convey a simple, pointed emotion through analogies and visual representations that pertain to the role the Internet plays in human life. Even in the adult entries, the drawings that communicate a single-minded thought with emotional resonance, rather than convoluted social commentary or complex subtexts to wade through, were chosen as favorites. At the end of the day, there is no real winner because there is no single answer to what the Internet is and what significance it has. What we can tell, is that the saturation and reach of the Internet is becoming more of a second nature rather than an application we control.