I'm a costume designer, makeup artist, teacher, mom, knitter, baker, want-to-learn-how-to-do-it-all

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I'm a costume designer, makeup artist, teacher, mom, sewer, knitter, baker, want-to-learn-how-to-do-it-all, blogging, Costumed Beagle enthusiast. I am not always pleasant, although through intensive cupcake therapy I have learned not to throw knives at people anymore.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I think this one speaks for itself.
Which is your favorite?

Happy Halloween.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Halloween dilemma

We are in the last throws of Halloween prep at our house.  Huck is having a really hard time trying to figure out what to be...I can't blame him; a chance to become someone else for a day?  The allure is strong.  Here is his first attempt. Stay tuned for the next few days...he'll be trying out a new one everyday.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Whatcha Up to, La?

Ugh.  It has been quite a few busy weeks.  I've been working almost exclusively on Luz de las Naciones at the LDS Conference Center.  Big Show.  I am only working on one of probably twenty different numbers in the show, but there are over 1000 performers total, including the choir.

If you've never been to or seen the LDS conference center, this thing was built for BIG.  I guess we don't like to do small.

Anyway, the production showcases many of the different cultures that exist within Northern Utah (and therefore, the church) that represent descendants of Book of Mormon.  It is a Cultural Celebration, so to speak and the focus is song and dance.  That's one of the reasons it is so big.  The Venezuelans have a big dance group and the Samoans, Native Americans, Mexicans, Bolivians, Argentinians....all perform traditional dances in traditional costume.  It is very colorful and quite fun.  It is pretty much all in Spanish.

I worked on the Mayan Creation; a story of the beginnings of man and earth and animals and life...or something like that--I'm not sure exactly what they say, nor are most of the performers because this one is in the Mayan language which hardly anyone knows.  I was asked to work on the headdresses that most the performers in this number needed to wear.  There were some headdresses that had been built a few years ago for a similar show, but many were in tough shape and nearly unusable as is.  So I refurbished several and built nearly from scratch several more.  26 in all.  Whole heck-of-a-lotta feathers involved.  And hot glue.  And burnt fingers from the hot glue. and bits of shrubbery and leather and fur and shells.  I built it all at home, and let me tell you...I made a big mess.  It was a fun, new kind of project and the show is all worth watching.

And then I also got to paint quite a bit of the body paint on the young Mayan gods....not bad for an honest days work.
If you are up for it, the show runs through Saturday and tickets are FREE.  But I know audiences in  the conference center are expected to be pretty full (despite holding something like 20,000 people).  It is crazy that a show that probably used thousands upon thousands of volunteer hours only hits the stage for two nights.

Anyway, here a few favorites both refurbished and new builds.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

More Oddities and Such

More random and weird stuff I see as I go about my boring day.

First off this lovely painting for sale at Hobby Lobby.

I guess they wanted to make sure their pretty much secular holiday had a tiny itty bitty Jesus in it so they didn't forget the reason for all our grotesque consumerism? And the baby Jesus is reaching out to Santa (or is he flipping him the bird...?)

But look at all that lovely use of light...and they even did that thing where they add a thick coat of goat shellac with the brush marks so it looks like legitimate art.

But really, pragmatically speaking, do you really think Santa has time to stop and ponder all the little nativities?  He's a busy guy and has a LOT of stops and some very expensive flat screen TVs to get out in one night.

Next up, I bought a new curling iron for work and it came with this handy warning:

Good to know.


Fast-food remodels?  This fancy Wendy's in Orem just got a face-lift and I'm wondering if they think this will entice us to eat there--they've even got the little cafe tables outside with umbrellas.  "Hey, we're all hip and RED just like your favorite cafe eatery!"  huh.  Do people even go in these places anymore?  It doesn't seem like destination food...more like desperation.

So in my latest project I needed rather copious amounts of the corn husks--like the kind you use for tamales.  Well, maybe not YOU, or ME, but people do use them for tamales and so I found my way to a seedy little Mexican market/money lender/Western Union/bus depot and this was the sign in front of my car.  I think the poor quality is due to the uncleanliness of my windshield.
Also notice the towing company is called Velocity Towing.
Does that mean that they will be there speedy quick to take you away, or that they go tearing down the road with your car on a chain?

And considering the neighborhood I was in, how would you know if your car got towed or stolen?

In the theme of Mexican Stuff I can't possibly understand comes this candy sucker.  Anna recently went to a birthday party of one of her classmates and came home with a goody bag full of Mexican candy including candy Cigarettes (I didn't even know they could still make those!!) and after I peeled her off the ceiling and tried to throw away the remainder of her spoils, this was all that was left.
Look closely.  IT IS A WATERMELON FLAVORED CANDY COVERED IN POWDERED CHILI.  No one would try it.  Anna wrinkled up that perfectly freckled little nose and pronounced it disgusting.

Stay tuned.  There is weirdness all around.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Relax a Little

I've a rather tough week.  I won't bore you with the details, because chances are you've had a tough week too.  But yesterday, probably sensing the panic and overwhelmedness and serious lack of quality sleep in my voice my besty gal MSJ brought me this (and some more feathers, which every girl needs).

TWO trashy novels (they probably aren't going to be a trashy as they look; they are by this author...)
ONE bottle of Stress Relief foaming bath
ONE bottle of "FU RED" which is what I'm supposed to say to the world.  And a few others.

It was too late last night for me to put this to good use, but I'm going to tonight.  My house is going to be deserted (if not clean) and after spending a few quality hours with those pesky feathers and a glue gun I'm going to be ready for it.  I think I'll just happen to find myself at the Sweet Tooth Fairy to top it all off...

Thanks MSJ.
I'll prolly be back to myself before I know it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pumpkin Pulp

It's All Things Pumpkin Week, remember!

So Monday, I showed you the crafty side of pumpkining...but I'll bet you looked at that tray full of pumpkin tops and thought "Don't waste it!"  So frugal you are.  Well, I thought the same thing.  I've tried the whole make a pumpkin from a an actual pumpkin thing and I'll tell you, it didn't seem that there was that big a difference in taste, so I don't know that I would go out of my way to make the pumpkin pulp, but if you've got a 1/2 dozen pie pumpkin scalps just sitting around, you might as well use them right?  And it is pretty easy.

I applied cooking spray liberally to a baking sheet and set the lids stem side up on the pan.

Put in the oven at 350 for 75-90 minutes or until tender when you stick it with a fork.

Let cool and then scrape all that lovely gushy pumpkininess off the skin.

Then it is ready to use.  JUST like the canned stuff, only this is all home-makery and stuff.

Look at all that beautiful pumpkin goodness
just waiting to be made into something yummy.

*Note: this works best with pie pumpkins.  Jack-o-Lantern type pumpkins can be used but have a more stringy flesh and are not quite as sweet.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Conversations with a Boy: ACDC vs. Maria

Me: Anything interesting happen at school today?

Wm: It is Red Ribbon week....

Me:  Did they have an assembly?

Wm: Yeah, they had a magician.

Me:  Cool.  Was he any good?

Wm:  yeah.  He wanted to pick a boy to help who had the longest hair.  He ALMOST picked me.

Me:  Oh, then he saw Ethan?

Wm:  Yeah.  And  then Bodie.

Me:  Who's Bodie?

Wm:  New kid.  Has hippy hair.

Me: Ah.  Not like Ethan's which is...

Wm: ACDC hair.

Me: ACDC hair?  Like the 80's metal band?

Wm:  I guess.  He likes them.  He has a T-shirt.

Me:  Oh.  The T-shirt definitely proves he is into it.  Have you ever heard ACDC?

Wm: No, I don't think so.

Me: Well...I think it would be hard to hear that sort of thing growing up if your parents don't listen to it.

Wm:  You don't like ACDC?

Me:  Not really.  I never really got into metal bands much.  The big hair, yes, the music not so much.  Lucky for you, your mom is into musical theatre so you get to grow up listening to Musicals!

Wm:  Lucky me.  (weak jazz hands)

Me: I wonder what kind of hair kids who grow up listening to musicals have?

Wm just turns and walks away.

I start belting songs from The Sound of Music until I hear his bedroom door slam.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pumpkins! Fall Bird Feeder

As you probably know, I am Activity Days leader for our neighborhood, and coming up with fun things to do and places to go is fun but also a bit challenging.  We have a budget, but being naturally economically frugal, I try to stagger free stuff with things that cost a little more.  The girls LOVE crafts, and although I've tried to steer us into other waters to explore, I do indulge every couple of months.  This month usually involves some sort of pumpkin theme, but I really didn't want to do the pumpkin painting activity the kids seem to get everywhere.....so I found this cool thing on Pinterest from Martha Stewart.  (You can follow me on Pinterest...see my sidebar for the cool little button thingy)
It went down pretty well.  Here is you guide to doing it too...with Activity Days girls, or scouts or kids parties.  We were having awesome fall weather, so I could do it outside, which is a real plus.

Things you will need:

  • smallish pumpkin for each girl (Martha says 3-5 lbs.  mine were more like 2 1/2 lb. pie pumpkins)
  • sturdy twine
  • carpentry staple gun
  • drill with large drill bit
  • large knife
  • cutting board
  • stuff to scoop out pumpkin guts
  • something to put guts in
  • small sticks
  • birdseed
  • newspapers, etc for covering workspace

  • I cut off the top part of the pumpkin-about 1/3 down with this size pumpkind and the set the girls to digging out the guts

  • We then drilled four holes; one on each side just opposite each other about an inch down from the top of the pumpkin.  I then had the girls scour my yard for the perfect bird perch sticks to put through the holes (they have to be pretty skinny), which kept them busy AND cleaned up my yard.

  • Cut 2 long pieces of twine (about a yard each) for each pumpkin.  Turn pumpkin over and lay the twine criss-cross over the bottom and staple in place; gently turn pumpkin over (or you'll pull the staples right out)

  • Fill with birdseed (or give girls pre-made bags to take home) and tie around a tree branch or send them home to let their mom's figure it out. (We didn't do the little pumpkin seed edging--trickier than it looks like it should be--they just kept popping right back out of the edge)

  • With 5 girls it took about 45 minutes with clean up including little breaks to jump on the trampoline.

Stay tuned for all things pumpkin this week, including what I did with those pumpkin tops and seeds

Anna's creation hanging from our Cherry tree

Friday, October 12, 2012

Dear Huck: career advice

Happy Friday Everyone!  Today we are graced by a new Huck's Advice!

Dear Huck,

I am an eight year old boy and I don't know what to be when I grow up.  I already feel "different" from my peers and I don't want to get left with digging ditches, just because I was an indecisive kid.
Please advise.
Career hunting in Kansas

Dear Hunting,

I too have felt the need to pursue a career.  Thus far, most of my ambitions have been to get the treat, so I've been willing to do things I'm not proud of.  But I too feel different (more like "elevated" but different works too) from those who surround me.  I am also interested in pursuing a creative field--you know, something to focus my angst and oppressed feelings into.  So, for me, I've decided to give musical theatre a go.  Broadway isn't your only option though.  I understand there are lots of jobs that aren't necessarily picky about who they let in.  If education isn't your thing, I heard that there is a shortage of chicken pluckers in North Carolina.  Or if something more daring is your thing, you might try base-jumping--based on the news reports, they seem to run through those fairly quickly, so my guess is that there are openings.  I do not, however, endorse musicians.  Particularly if you have canine friends at your house, and under no circumstances should you learn to play the accordion, violin or piccolo.
As for me, I have an audition later this week for a local production of The Lion King.  I've been rehearsing for weeks.

Best of Luck,

*It should be noted I think Huck is a little nervous about his audition...at least he looks this way every time he tries on his costume....

To submit a question or concern to Huck please email him at Hucksadvice@gmail.com

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Book Review: Faith

Faith by Jennifer Haigh

This book tackles, from a fiction standpoint anyway, the deep issues surrounding the deeply disturbing accusations of priests and the sex abuse scandal of the Catholic church.  I think by now, pretty everyone has at least heard something of the abuse, cover-up and reticence of the church to even admit there was a problem among its priests and the children of its congregations.

The story revolves around Father McGann, a beloved priest in the Boston area.  It follows his early life and paints what seems to be a pretty believable picture of an Irish kid growing up in the 50's and 60's who then goes on to become a priest.  (I say believable, because I am completely removed from both the Catholic church and Boston--I know almost nothing about both...but it sounded good to me).  In his later career he is accused by a parishioner.  The story then narrates the feelings and actions of his two siblings as they try to cope with this accusation and what it means for their faith and their relationship with both their brother and their church.  It navigates some pretty tough waters (child abuse and all) but is not gratuitous, which I appreciated, because in the end it is not really about the child abuse, but about how people deal with it and how those relationships are affected.  I loved that so many sides of the story were told.  I often feel like we are unable to make good judgements because we lack the insight that comes from one another, and our life experiences. The book allows you to realize how often we just do not know the whole story.
I won't spoil the story and tell you the ending, but suffice to say this is not a cheery book, a light read, or any other type of brain fluff reading (which you know I also appreciate), but was a worthwhile read.
I haven't read any other books by this author, but she also wrote Mrs. Kimble, The Condition and Baker Towers. Here is her website (notice her sassy author photo--it is in B&W but then someone painted her eyes blue....it is a bit Twilighty to me...like she is vampiress or something.  You don't think so?  No?  Just me then....)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Book Review: A Little Princess

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Anna and I have been working on this book for awhile.  She mainly reads with her dad and this was a book for just us.  The book was actually given to me as a shower gift when I was pregnant with Anna, so it seemed fitting that we should read it together.  The version I have also has lovely little illustrations from Tasha Tudor....who is just delightful.

You may be familiar with this author if you've read or have seen the staged and musical version of The Secret Garden.  Or you may have seen one of the several movie versions of this book.  I don't like most of them except for possibly the Shirley Temple version and that is just because she is so darn cute.

One thing I did not realize, because of the ambiguity of the name was that Frances was a woman.  I have both great aunts and a great uncle with that name--for many a time it was both (like Alma or Jamie).  I also assumed the author was British, which she was, but I did not realize that she had emigrated to the United States with her family in the 1860's.  She also suffered from depression and married and divorced two men (rather rare, I think for a 19th century woman).

The book, as you probably know revolves around little Sarah Crewe who is raised in India by her father.  He takes her to a school in England and then promptly dies after discovering that his diamond mines are no good and that he has lost all his fortune.

It was a fun book to read with a seven year old girl.  She felt deeply for Sarah's suffering and loved the fantasy world Sarah builds herself to keep from going crazy at the school.  The book does not talk down to children and the vocabulary building is great.  Being more than 100 years old, the language uses all sorts of "old" words and we constantly stopped mid sentence for Anna to ask me the meaning.

I've read the book before, but the thing that struck me the most this time through was how, despite her indigent circumstances, people could tell that Sarah wasn't of the "lower" classes and sought ways to make her life easier and more pleasant, while Becky, the poor scullery maid who is the same age as Becky, is clearly fulfilling the life that is due someone of her birth.  No one brings becky a soft bed and warm covers; true Sarah shares, but even after "they" notice that Sara is sharing, the food and warmth is still only extended to Sarah, but she is just given a little more, so she can continue to share with the wretched little maid.  I really felt for poor little Becky.  I guess that is what happens when a story lasts so long; we end up putting our own time and sentiments into it and wind up with an entirely different take.  But it is still a lovely story.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Book Review: The Alchemyst

I was given a series for the summer.  The Alchemyst by Michael Scott (I know...but not of The Office fame) is a young adult fantasy series.  It is a slightly older version of the Fable Haven type.  I pre-read it for my 11 year old, and as he just finished the first book and liked it, I think I can recommend it for as young a reader as that.  I enjoyed it and went straight on to each successive book; the last of 6 came out in May.

The story revolves around a brother/sister team who find themselves thrust into a world full of magic and crazy creatures by their association with the infamous Nicholas Flamel. You may recognize the name from Harry Potter--turns out he was a real guy from 15th century France--and he was an alchemist.

While the magic and the creatures and the worlds are all quite fun, and is probably what appealed to William, what I like the best were the ways that historical figures, legends and mythology are woven through the story.  Without giving too much away, we get to see how Machiavelli, Joan of Arc, Billy the Kid, Mars, Prometheus, Virginia Dare, Isis and Will Shakespeare among many others play into the "history" of this world.  The history nerd in me loved that.

The most irritating thing about the books is that each one only covers 2 days and they are fairly action packed.  If you are one who likes to know what happens next I'd have them all lined up and ready to go before you start.
And while I can't quite put this in the same camp with Harry Potter, if you like the fantasy-this is fun series and a good read for the tween reader in your life.

The Books are, in order:

The Alchemyst
The Magician
The Sorceress
The Necromancer
The Warlock
The Enchantress

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Set the Date

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Most of you know this because you've seen the pink ribbons go up everywhere, and yet most of us will not do anything about it, but the stats surrounding breast cancer are a little scary.
Here's a sample I took off of cancer.org

The American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates for breast cancer in the United States are for 2012:
  • About 226,870 new cases of invasive breast cancer in women
  • About 63,300 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be found (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
  • About 39,510 deaths from breast cancer (women)
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, other than skin cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer.
The chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer some time during her life is about 1 in 8. The chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 36. Breast cancer death rates have been going down. This is probably the result of finding the cancer earlier and better treatment. Right now there are more than 2.9 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

Did you read that?  YOUR chances of having breast cancer at some point are 1 in 8.   YOUR chance of dying from breast cancer is 1 in 36.  I'm not a statistician, but I've bet on a few horses in my day and those odds don't look too good to me.
So I've sorta got a big birthday coming up... and I'm also just about to lose my health care coverage (which if the republicans get their way, social degenerates like me don't deserve anyway) so I'm going to lose the luxury of preventative care.  My doc, who is awesome, sent me in for the mammogram.  I'm a good girl, so I went this morning.  The ladies at the clinic were so nice and it really isn't that big a deal and they're having a drawing for this cool basket for everyone that comes in.

I also had an experience where one my many "mothers " was diagnosed with breast cancer this year.  It was pretty serious.  She's gone through surgery and Chemo and radiation and the indignity of losing her hair.  But she was lucky.  We can all be lucky.

The fancy "cape" you get you wear...I'd have taken
more photos, but there really isn't much to see except for my
exceptionally perky breasts.
I'm too young to want to deal with breast cancer.  I have two young kids and busy life.  Quite frankly, I don't have time for breast cancer.  And so I got checked.  It took maybe 30 minutes.  Set the date.  Go in.  Don't risk it.  There are going to be free or low cost clinics everywhere this month if you don't have health insurance.  That is actually one of the biggest services many Planned Parenthood Clinics offer (with their devious feminist ways).

The bonus of the day is that I let myself have a much deserved treat and the tech who took the mammogram told me I have very perky breasts for woman who nursed two babies.  Why thank you.  I'm going to put that on my "All About Me" page.
The second bonus is that they give you these little packages of deoderant. I kind of wanted to steal them all and stick them in my desk at work.  Brilliant.

Set the Date.  Do it now.

**Update:  I just this posted on facebook.  If you live along the Wasatch Front, here is a mobil mammo coming to a location near you

Monday, October 1, 2012

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

It is finally fall!  I know that technically it was last week, but October 1 seems like the day it should really be.  I can see colors up on the mountains and I've started making the soup, much to the chagrin of The Citizens, but who cares what they think, because it also means it is PUMPKIN SEASON.  (I had to put that all in caps so you would know, without a doubt, that this is a big deal and can adjust your own thoughts and feelings on the subject accordingly)

I started experimenting with some good ole' fashioned pumpkin cookies a month or so...you know, for the kids, and this is what I've settled on.  I like em'.  It is a pretty easy recipe, and although you could probably do either the chocolate chips OR the cream cheese frosting, there is no need to deny yourself real pleasure, especially, if you are like me, you convince  yourself you are really making these because you need to give some of them to someone and you just happen to benefit from your own generosity.  I am kind and good like that...always thinking of others....

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Cookies:
1 Cup Shortening
3 Cups Sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 large (30 oz) can pumpkin  (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 tsp. vanilla
5 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 cups chocolate chips

Mix the shortening and Sugar together until light & fluffy; add eggs, pumpkin & vanilla. Mix up all your dry ingredients together, then add them to the butter batter.  Mix just until everything is combined.  Add chocolate chips, again just barely mixing them in completely.
I use a cookie scoop because the uniformity of the cookies makes me happy, but you could also just drop them onto your baking sheets.
Bake @ 350 for about 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely & then frost them with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces, slightly softened (I like mine still a little cold so it doesn’t get too soft)
½ teaspoons vanilla extract

I dump it all into the food processor and give it a good whirl.  Delicious.

*Cookies here were sprinkled with a titch of cinnamon, but mostly that is to make them extra pretty.