Monday, September 19, 2016

Giveaway! Vagenda of Manocide Pen!

Last week I brought you a review of the Vagenda of Manocide pens, designed for the feminist presidential candidate in all of us.

Well, the pens come in sets of six. After I wrote the review I put one of the pens in my purse, one on my nightstand, and one in my binder full of women, but then I wondered: How many pens does a modern girl really need?

Answer: A lot, really. But I'd also like to spread the love a bit, so I've decided to give my readers a chance to win one of these emasculating writing implements.

There are several ways to enter, and you can use any or all of them! (Some can be done more than once, too!) If you don't win the contest and still want some pens, you can order them from the shop at

Here is the not-so-fine print:
  1. The contest runs from 12:00 a.m. EST September 20, 2016, through 12:00 a.m. EST September 27, 2016. 
  2. There will be one winner, selected at random. The winner will receive one Vagenda of Manocide pen from the set that was sent to me for review.
  3. People who live in my household are ineligible, as are immediate blood relatives (I'm looking at you, Mom and Dad!).
  4. The winner must have a US shipping address and must be 18 or older.
  5. I will contact the winner within 72 hours of the contest closing. The prize will be sent via US mail. I am not responsible for the prize once it has left my possession.
  6. No purchase necessary.
  7. I will display the winner's first name and last initial on my blog and/or Facebook and/or Twitter unless you specify otherwise. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 12, 2016

Hillary's Feminist Pens: A Review

A few years ago a Maine gun store displayed a sign that read, "Beware the Beast Hildabeast Clinton and its Vagenda of Manocide."

The store owner (I'm going out on a limb and assuming it's a man) must be even more fearful for his threatened, fragile manhood now that a woman is this much closer to becoming president. I'm sure her first act as president will be to emasculate everything in sight.

My friend Rachel, a Political Science professor at Pitzer College, alerted me that a website called has come out with a new line of pens for all of the evil feminists hell-bent on world domination. Behold the "Vagenda of Manocide" pens.

If you've ever thought to yourself, "I'm having fun in this meeting, but I wish there were some way I could subtly declare my intention to topple the establishment," these pens might be for you.

The see-through pens have silvery sparkles, with "Vagenda of Manocide" emblazoned in pink (of course), and they contain black ink. That's right: Pink, sparkly exterior and black on the inside, just like the heart of a every feminist seeking the death of the patriarchy.

How did the pens work? Great! Just like a mainstream pen. Did you think the female pen would somehow be inferior? If so, you're part of the problem.

I can't say whether or not these pens fit my dainty lady-hands as well as a Bic for Her (because I haven't tried the latter), but they get the job done.

"Vagenda of Manocide" pens are perfect for all your important feminine tasks, like making shopping lists, writing a manifesto, or tattooing Andrew Jackson.

You can buy a six-pack of pens at GetBullish's shop for $8.95. (Through October, they're donating profits to Clinton's campaign, so keep that in mind if you were looking to donate anyway.)

Thank you to GetBullish for sending me a set of pens to review. I was not otherwise compensated, and all opinions stated are my own.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Ida McKinley's Slippers

Today is the anniversary of William McKinley being fatally shot, so I'm taking this opportunity to talk about his wife's slippers.

Ida McKinley was a troubled woman, and for good reason. She lost her mother and her baby daughter within months of each other. Three years later, her only other child died at the age of 4. Somewhere in that time, she suffered trauma to her head which led to her developing epilepsy.

She never recovered from these emotional and physical wounds. Not a lot was known about epilepsy back then, so it took a lot of trial and error to find solutions. One of the first cures they tried was having her rest in isolation since her problems were likely caused by her inferior lady-brain being too troubled by the man-problems of the big, modern world. Needless to say, that didn't work.

Ida went through phases of being very active (in life and in her husband's career) and other phases where she had less mobility and a decreased ability to socialize. At times she was very dependent on William. During her White House years, she often avoided social situations, sometimes leaving the duties of the First Lady to Jennie Tuttle Hobart, wife of VP Garret Hobart. Seating arrangements at dinner were changed so she could sit next to, rather than across from, her husband. At times Ida would have seizures, and William became adept at holding a handkerchief in front of her face until the seizure ended, then carrying on as though nothing had happened.

Of course, the tragedies that would strike Ida's life weren't yet complete. In September of 1901 the McKinleys were in Buffalo so William could make an appearance at the Pan-American Exposition. Ida wasn't at the Expo with her husband, which is probably a good thing because she was able to avoid witnessing Leon Czolgosz shoot her husband. After William was shot, he ordered people to go easy on his assassin, and also instructed his aide to be careful in breaking the news to Ida. He would die a week later.

Ida lived only a few more years after her husband was killed. But through her troubles, she kept busy crocheting thousands of pairs of slippers. She wasn't often able to attend charity events, so she would send slippers to war veterans and orphans. She would send slippers to charities to sell or raffle off to raise money.

I, too, crochet, so a while back I decided to see if I could find the pattern she used. Sure enough, someone had recreated the pattern, so I bought it immediately and set out making pairs for myself and a few loved ones. They're not the most stylish slippers by today's standards, but they're historic and that's what's important. I found that jazzing them up with fun colors helped.

Last summer I visited a couple important sites in Canton, Ohio: The McKinley Monument and tomb, and the National First Ladies' Library. The Monument is right next to a science and history museum that has a room dedicated to the McKinleys. Among the items on display is a pair of slippers that Ida had crocheted.

The First Ladies' Library is located less than a block away from a house Ida's family had owned, and a visit to the library includes a tour of the house as well. On the top floor is a very small museum, and I was pleased to find another pair of slippers there. In addition, there was a newspaper column (possibly an advertorial) about an Ohio company that provided leather soles that Ida would sew onto the slippers. My slippers don't have leather soles, but I loved stumbling upon that extra tidbit of information about how Ida made hers.

I told the docent about how I had found the pattern for Ida's slippers and had made several pairs. She seemed surprisingly underwhelmed to hear that. Oh well. I guess that's why I have a blog.

A couple other Ida McKinley slipper-fun-facts:
  • She kept a photo of William in her yarn basket. For inspiration while I made my slippers, I stuck a William McKinley Pez Dispenser in my yarn bag. 
  • When Ida learned that former president Rutherford B. Hayes was ill, she sent him a pair of slippers that he wore until he died. Because of that, I have started referring to these slippers as "The Rutherford B. Hayes Slippers of Death."

Now...don't get too excited...but if there's enough interest, I might consider doing a giveaway for a pair of custom slippers. I'd probably run this in time for the holidays, so if you win you could avoid scouring stores for the perfect gift for the person in your life who loves history and wears women's slippers. If this is something you'd like to see, be sure to leave a comment here or on my Facebook page.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Give Andrew Jackson a Tattoo!

Now and then an article pops up about surprising people in history who have had tattoos. Always included on those lists are Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Teddy Roosevelt.

Supposedly Roosevelt had his family crest tattooed on his chest, Polk had a Chinese symbol meaning "eager," and Jackson had---I kid you not---a tomahawk inked on his upper thigh.

Now, I don't want to call bullshit on all of these, because they're...possible? I guess? Especially Roosevelt because I could totally see him having a tattoo. The problem is that I haven't actually been able to find any proof other than the same articles repeating the same "general knowledge" without actually giving any sources. I'm inclined to believe that TR did not, in fact, have a family crest on his chest, but I'm open to the possibility that he did. Except I really doubt it.

I am perfectly willing to go out on a limb and call BS on Polk having a Chinese symbol tattooed on him. What, did he have a small butterfly on his lower back, too? I'm trying to figure out a scenario in which this supposed tattoo would have happened. Oriental art has found some popularity here and there ever since America started trading with China, but not to the level that some mid-19th-century white dude would get a tattoo of a Chinese character. Polk's predecessor John Tyler was president during the ratification of the Treaty of Wanghia after the first Opium War, but I'm not aware of any significant dealings Polk had with China that might have inspired this "eager" tattoo in some way. (To be fair, I know very little about Polk's foreign affairs outside of the Mexican-American War and the annexation of various territories, so maybe he was really into China? But again, I doubt it. If any Polk scholars want to weigh in, please do.)

That brings us to Jackson. I love the idea of Jackson having a tattoo, but on his upper thigh? For real? And a tomahawk? That would be a pretty dickish move considering his track record, although I suppose in a way that's fitting for him.

I decided to go to the best source I could to get some answers about Andrew Jackson's tattoo: I emailed the people at The Hermitage. I asked if Jackson really (or likely) had a tattoo, or if this was all an urban legend.

Less than 24 hours later I received a response: "Unfortunately, there is no definitive proof that Jackson had a tattoo on his thigh. This story more than likely an urban legend that has grown in popularity over time."


Regardless, I thought it would be fun to give people the chance to ink a few tattoos on Old Hickory, so I present to you an Andrew Jackson template. I've provided the tomahawk; you provide the rest! You can download the PDF here or you can click on the jpeg up above.

Some tattoo ideas to get you started: a dreamcatcher, the Bank of the United States, a heart with "mom" written inside. The possibilities are endless! (And, yeah, I've covered up his ankles and wrists, which are prime tattoo locations. Sorry. I just thought the boots would be funny and I can't draw hands.)

If you tattoo Andrew Jackson, please snap a photo to share on my Facebook page or tag me on Twitter @MsPresidentress

Happy inking!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Musical Monday: Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

I'm just going to say it: No one will ever have a catchier campaign song than William Henry Harrison.

I had known of the phrase forever, but I first heard the song Tippecanoe and Tyler Too years ago at a They Might Be Giants concert. For the longest time I thought they had written the song. (It wouldn't have been their first foray into presidential songs, as they had previously released a song about James K. Polk.) But at some point I discovered that the band merely covered what had really been Harrison's campaign song in the 1840 election. (The song was really titled Tip and Ty but came to be known by its popular refrain of "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too.")

Here is TMBG's version, available on the album Future Soundtrack for America:

And here is a more traditional version:

I like They Might Be Giants' version more, but it's pretty true to the original.

"Tippecanoe" was William Henry Harrison's nickname, and Tyler, of course, refers to his running mate (and successor) John Tyler. The song is amazing not just because it will be stuck in your head for the rest of the week, but because it bolsters Harrison and Tyler while also denigrating Martin Van Buren, and what could be more fun than denigrating Martin Van Buren?

In addition to the addictive song, Harrison's campaign also incorporated the unique tactic of rolling giant balls from town to town. That's referenced in Tip and Ty's first verse: 

What's the cause of this commotion, motion, motion,
Our country through?
It is the ball a-rolling on

For Tippecanoe and Tyler too.
For Tippecanoe and Tyler too.
And with them we'll beat little Van, Van, Van,
Van is a used up man.
And with them we'll beat little Van.

Thus Harrison's campaign served as the origin of the phrase "Keep the ball rolling."

(If you watched Parks & Recreation, you might have seen the episode that featured one of those giant balls. In the episode, the ball actually represented one used in grandson Benjamin Harrison's campaign, but it was William Henry's run that started the practice.)

It's probably important to note that Harrison got the nickname "Tippecanoe" after a battle near the Tippecanoe river in which he defeated the Native American leader Tecumseh, who was trying to protect his land from white encroachment. That's not the greatest legacy by today's standards, but it sure worked for him at the time.

It's also important to note that while Harrison won the election, probably due in large part to his catchy tune and big balls, he died after a month in office, so all in all, it didn't do him much good.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Cooking with the Presidents: Washington/Lafayette Gingerbread

A few weeks ago I brought you a recipe for Dolley Madison's gingerbread. That bread was moist and aromatic, but not very gingery and kind of bland. I mentioned that I had two other presidential gingerbread recipes to try, so today I present the second one: a Washington/Lafayette delicacy. (Also, I'm realizing that I forgot what the third recipe is, so I'll need to look into that.)

My copy of The Presidents' Cookbook calls this "Martha Washington Gingerbread," which doesn't make sense because the accompanying story describes how George Washington's mom, Mary, made this for the Marquis de Lafayette when he visited her in 1784. I'm going to assume the title is a typo because it doesn't seem that Martha had anything to do with this one. (To confirm that this really is Mary's recipe we're dealing with, I found that Mount Vernon has a recipe for "Lafayette Gingerbread" that includes the orange zest Mary Washington used for Lafayette's treat.)

Anyway, the story in my cookbook says, "Legend has it that [Lafayette] was so impressed with the gingerbread and with Washington's mother in general that he explained, 'I have seen the only Roman matron of my day.' Some historians assume this was a compliment. From the rest of his comments we rather doubt it."

Then that's it. What!? What were the rest of his comments? What did he say about George Washington's mom? "I have seen the only Roman matron of my day. I came, I saw, I threw up in my mouth a little, am I right, guys?" I'll have to look it up.

The "recipe" included in my book says to take a gingerbread mix, but to add a teaspoon of instant coffee, a teaspoon of grated orange rind, and to use 1/2 c of orange juice in place of 1/2 c of water the mix will inevitably call for.

Sorry, but the same cookbook that expects me to butcher my own turtle wants me to use a boxed gingerbread mix? I don't think Mary Washington walked down to her local Ye Olde Grocery Store for a box of gingerbread mix, and she probably wasn't using Nescafé, either.

But the idea of using orange in gingerbread isn't new to me. For my daughter's second birthday she insisted on a "jujubed" cake (that's "gingerbread" for those of you not fluent in toddler) and at the time I had just gotten a fantastic book of bread machine recipes that included one for orange gingerbread. I made that recipe (in the oven, not the bread machine) and it was very good.

I decided to adapt that recipe rather than insult the memory of Lafayette and the Washingtons with a box of Betty Crocker. (In case anyone wants to know why I didn't just make the Mount Vernon recipe, it's because I didn't find it until my gingerbread was already in the oven. Also because their recipe is just an adaptation of someone else's anyway, since Mary's actual recipe seems to not exist.)

Without further ado, here is my recipe for
Washington/Lafayette Gingerbread

dry ingredients:
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp instant coffee
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
3/4 tsp salt

wet ingredients:
4 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 c molasses
2 large eggs
1/2 c light brown sugar
1/2 c buttermilk
1/4 c orange juice
2 tsp baking soda dissolved in 1/4 c hot water
1 1/2 tsp orange zest

A couple notes here. The "recipe" from my Presidents' Cookbook said to use 1 tsp each of coffee and orange zest. I wound up with about 1 1/2 tsp of zest, so I used all of it, and I decided to increase the coffee by the same amount. Frankly, it seemed like a really small amount of coffee, even when
Waiting to be baked
increased, but I went with it. I should note that the Mount Vernon recipe doesn't say anything about coffee, so go figure.

To make the bread:

Preheat your oven to 350 and grease your pan. (I used a 9 x 9 glass baking dish.)

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Mix the wet ingredients in another bowl, then fold in the dry mixture. When combined, pour it into your cooking vessel and bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

My copy of The Presidents' Cookbook says to serve the bread with applesauce or whipped cream. I opted for whipped cream because when given the choice between whipped cream and applesauce, who's going to pick applesauce? Mount Vernon's recipe suggests serving it with "fairy butter," which sounded delightful until I read that recipe: Basically you mix butter with sugar and orange-flower water (okay) and four hard-boiled egg yolks. I'll stick with the whipped cream.

So how did the Washington/Lafayette gingerbread taste? Amazing! My husband, kids, and I all gave it two thumbs up, and it's rare that we're all in agreement about a dessert. I gave some to our neighbors, and they texted me "Nailed it." (They had remained mum about the Dolley Madison gingerbread.) The bread is gingery and orangey...although I couldn't discern any coffee flavor at all, which wasn't a surprise. I think it would make more sense to either add more coffee or eliminate it all together. Since the Mount Vernon recipe doesn't include coffee, I'm inclined to simply remove it. I might play with it more in the future.
If you try it for yourself, let me know what you think in the comments here or on my Facebook page.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Donald Trump Refrigerator "Poetry"

Earlier today on Twitter, I commented that someone should use Donald Trump's favorite words to make one of those refrigerator poetry sets. Then I realized: Why not I?

Thus, the Donald Trump Magnetic "Poetry" was born, and you can download it for free! The set includes more than 100 words, including all of his favorite ones, like "huge," "tremendous," and "me."

To make your own set for hours of terrifying fun, download this PDF.

You'll need to print it out, of course. If you have magnetic printer sheets, that's best because they're... you know... magnetic. Otherwise you can print it on regular paper for constructing phrases on your desk or whatever.

Then you need to cut out the words, which seems daunting but really takes only a few minutes. I used an Xacto knife and my very favorite ruler (it has a non-slip back and there's a groove to protect your fingers) but you could use scissors, a paper slicer, whatever. There are grid lines to cut on, but you might want to trim a little closer on the single letters that are included: I, a, and s (for use at the end of most verbs or nouns.)

Then it's time to create your own xenophobic, misogynistic phrases!

Even though Trump seems to have a rather limited vocabulary, I'm already thinking of other words I could have included. If there are some you'd like to see, let me know and maybe I'll make a second version.

Update: I've made an expansion pack! I realized I forgot some very important words like "Obama," "bimbo," and "rapist." I also included some more prepositions and suffixes to give you more flexibility in constructing your masterpieces. Download the expansion pack here.

Feel free to share photos of your sentences (or fragments) on the Presidentress Facebook page.