Saturday, March 28, 2009


You won't hear from me for a few more days. shhhh! I'm on a trip with my sister Jayna and having a very good time and will share much more after I get back and can go through all the photos!


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Baby Tomato Plants

It's fun to see them enjoying our window. Soak it up little dudes! Let's hope they get big and strong and make very very tasty tomatoes!

Our tray of pepper seeds aren't showing anything yet-- but peppers are supposed to take longer-- I just have to keep that in mind.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Paper and Tape

Friday night I participated in the ward talent show. I dusted off my Paper Puppet Piece and I think it turned out well, it was fun. It's hard to believe that I originally made this puppet ten years ago and have been performing this piece periodically ever since. It changes based on the performance environment (interactive vs. traditional staging) but it seems to go over well which of course makes me happy. Funny how this never prevents me from being nervous beforehand.

There were tons of other fun talents on display! Although I must say that the 'synchronized swimming' act alone was worth the drive hands down. I was not previously aware, but this apparently is not entirely uncommon at ward talent shows. Many versions can be seen on youtube. This one is similar to that our fellas did (although I must say it's much better in person). It was hilarious and beautiful!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Congratulations Andrew & Katy!

Yay! They're getting married!!

They've been together for some time and I'm very happy for them both! It's so nice when someone so nice finds someone else so nice! Yay for nice! I'm a big fan of nice! This is Great! Congrats you guys! woo hoo!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Starting the Garden

We've had some delightfully warm weather (Tuesday got up to 65 degrees!) so we're shifting into garden-mode. Yay Garden-Mode! Over the weekend Dennis started the tomato, pepper, and herb seeds as well as marking out the plot in the backyard. During the nice weather I took the opportunity to turn the grass under to start the process of preparing the ground.

The garden is 10x30. The work spanned two days (only about 7 hours total). And yes, I'm still sore. But I'm getting better so we'll see when I get this raked out (weather's getting chilly again).

On the first day I had some company which was nice. This little guy hung out for almost an hour. We were after the same thing-- making the most of the sunny day.

He was probably about 20 inches long... he's the first garter snake I've seen here so now that's one more for the critter count. (the day before was the first time I saw our groundhog out and about since winter started-- ah Spring! it's coming!)


Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Special Dress for Mataya's Special Day

Yesterday my niece, Mataya was baptized. Yay Tay! I wish I could have been there but that was not a viable option logistically/economically-- but I did get to make a dress of her. I had about a week to make it to be sure it got to California on time. It's tricky to make clothes for someone too far away to do a fitting. Here are a few pictures from her baptism and of the dress. (the dress I made is in the lower pictures, the first few photos are right before the baptism while she's wear the fancy-dancy baptism polyester jumper!) You can click on the picture to see a larger image-- hope you like them!

I'm glad to see her smiling-- I heard the water was cold! Mine was cold too way back when... I understand the temptation to fill the font the night before (very efficient) but I wish they wouldn't. But it's still worth it.

This is Mataya with her dad, my brother-in-law, Jeff who performed the baptism. I'm sure the experience was special for both of them.

Afterward Heather took her to the park for her own little photoshoot which I'm sure Mataya thoroughly enjoyed. Heather took these nice pictures and I did a little photoshopy stuffity stuff.

This sash took about a day, it has five layers to it and the iridescent sequins were sewn on with a little bead by hand. Mataya is a real glitter girl and both Heather and I wanted that to be reflected in the dress but in a contained way. The "bow" is a pin that holds the sash closed. It's hard to see in the picture but in the center of the bow is a pink flower with a sequin in the middle.

I think it's just one of those basic rules that the little girl's dress should have the twirl factor!

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Lesson Learned

I was scared at first but I think subbing for middle school agrees with me-- as much as it could. Of course having only done three days (all in the same district) doesn't give me much to base my opinion upon. But of those three days none of them have been bad and mostly manageable. I haven't tried high school yet and my elementary subbing experience is even more limited than my middle school. I like that I get a new group of kids every hour which also helps me learn throughout the day and if a student is being problematic (although these have been really good kids!) I'm confident that for one hour I can maintain order.

Today had an unexpected element: the MSU basketball game. When I was in middle school (or college for that matter) you could very easily live your life completely oblivious to the college basketball team but here I had students politely begging me if they could watch the game. "They have it on in the library" they would say and they would say what other teachers had the game on... at least they had it on mute. One student really lead the way on this, the type that could charm the socks off a snake. The computer lab was next door and he had gotten permission from the computer lab teacher to have a viewing over there. I was on the spot. I call the lab teacher and he confirms that their regular teacher wouldn't have a problem with it so long as the kid were being respectful to me and suggested that I have them quietly on task (reading) for a given amount of time to let them earn watching the game for the last fifteen minutes of class. The game was an event, one that even the folks in the office were talking about (and watching on mute) so I decided to go with the flow on this one-- it helped that the kids were nice about it the whole time, even when it was really looking like I was going to say no.

I knew I had little Michiganders and that keeping them away from the game would be like taking away air-- it's that big a deal!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Blog Housekeeping and Thinking Out Loud (sorry)

So I've tidied up the place a little over here so metaphorically speaking it feels less like a dorm room and more like a home. I hope to continue improvements as I think of them and learn more.

Feedback is welcome! please, I'm learning here.

Speaking of learning I found that the blog's name does not have to be the same as the blog's web address. I know this is really basic but I somehow was operating under that false assumption. Now that I know this I am heavily considering a new name for this blog and am currently brainstorming.

Here's the deal: I was planning on opening up an etsy shop and starting a blog (it does seem that every etsyshop owner has a blog doesn't it?) to make it all more fun and to keep far away friends and family updated. I open an etsy account (no shop as of yet) with the name puppetpie, which I thought was cute but not too cute-sie (and I do love pie-- and making pie-- and eating pie) and combined the feeling of the items I would sell-- puppets of course but also some homey decorative things-- but probably not enough homey decorative things to warrent having two shops (but maybe that's the way to go). So I liked 'puppetpie' I still like 'puppetpie' but when I went to set up the blog account 'puppetpie' was taken (by a nice Arizona puppeteer who sells cute felt finger puppets on etsy) so at the time I hastily picked something similar to what I wanted so I could start the blog. But now I'm needing something more original... I hate feeling like a hack.


kdot puppets? ... google tells me kdot more commonly stands for Kansas Department of Transporation. hmm...

I'm wanting to avoid the formulaic "your name" 's + "what you make" although there is a reason why so many people do this. And with the billions of times I've had to verbally spell out 'puppalooza' to people I know that would be a bad choice even though I like the sound of it. And with this puppetpie episode I'm shying away from any puppet"tastey food item" ... it just wouldn't be very satisfying anymore.

Back to the drawing board... and maybe getting some real housekeeping done.

Oh, and if you have a blog and would like it added to my sidebar, please let me know :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


You see I recently joined a cooking group and this month's theme was 'guilty pleasures' and after much deliberation (with myself) I decided to make the Gray family favorite Meringue Crust Chocolate Pie for which I needed to whip cream.

The KitchenAide is a cream whippin' beast! After letting it work it's magic for a short while I started to divide the product (as needed for the recipe) when I decided that there was not the volume that there should be so, "I'll whip it some more" I thought and set the whisk to whirlin'. I stop it again and it's lumpy and look like a sad ugly cousin to cottage cheese. "Well I can't use it in the pie now" I said to myself, a tiny bit worried because that was my only cream and the cooking group was the next day and the morning was already booked "guess it can't hurt to keep going now." So I cranked it up again and when I finally stopped the whuring whisk a poured off the thin milky liquid it donned on me:

I had accidentally made butter
I had wondered about that possibility

Now if you've never accidentally made butter I can tell you... it feels odd and a little bewildering with some undertones of exciting.

When I went downstairs to where Dennis was working and relayed the story. I could tell he had a similar feeling. He gave me a hug and with my head under his chin he said something to the effect of 'well, if you're going to 'oops' in the kitchen, making butter isn't that bad."

Here are the other parts of the pie that will have to wait for more whipping cream.

But I was not too worried about cooking group because that day I was trying a recipe I had found online for the Great Harvest Bread Company's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread. I fell in love with this bread while we lived in Logan (when you walk into the shop they give you a fat slice of bread to sample with plenty of butter). Any one reading who knows-- yeah, you know! So I had a back up to bring that turned out really well and just so happened to compliment my accidental sweet butter!

Here's the recipe if you want to give it a try. It's very moist and dense. This recipe makes two loaves so it great for sharing.


2 1/2 cups white flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

3 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

16 oz cooked or canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling) (15 oz can will work too)

1 cup oil

4 eggs, beaten lightly

2/3 cup water

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two (9x5 inch) loaf pans or three (8x4 inch) loaf pans. Mix flours, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together in a large bowl; set aside. Mix pumpkin, oil, eggs, and 2/3 cup water together and stir into dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips. Place batter in prepared pans. Bake 60 or 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Lately with my quick breads (mostly banana bread) I've been liberally dusting the tops with a cinnamon/sugar mix and have been happy with the result. :)

[and I would like to thank my cousin Melissa for showing me how to accomplish an effective use of depth of field-- I honestly didn't know my camera could do that!]