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.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

BEST FHE of 2013

Do you do family time?  In Mormon circles it is often referred to as FHE (Family Home Evening) and traditionally consists of things like a song and a prayer and some sort of lesson-often religion based.  We don't really do it that way.  I love our family time together, but as is my way, is often on-the-go, or game nights or forcing my kids to watch old musicals with me.

Today was a lesson on Choices.

So we went and ate lunch at the Prison.

Yeah, you heard me.

There is a little trailer diner attached to the prison, where, I'm assuming, extremely low risk female inmates cook your food.  More on the food in another post--The Citizens are wanting to become food critics, so we'll start the new year off with that one later...

Anyway, we ate our lunch; the place was full of stocky Prison Correctional Officers; it was good.
And then we took a good long look at the gates just 30 feet or so from our parked car.  Chain link.  Covered in that circular barb-wire that automatically makes you think of prison.  Tall security tower in the distance.  Large guards packing heat and probably a lot of pepper spray.  What I wouldn't have given to have a German Shepherd drag an officer by right then (in my mind this is what happened, no need to get into the truth).

"So...." I ask, "how do you think people end up here?"

Anna : You kill people!

Wm: Um...blank look.

Ensue teaching moment where we discuss how most of these people didn't start out as "bad" people and probably did not plan on a life behind bars.  Most of them probably had people at home who cared about them deeply.  But they made bad choices.  And they didn't start out saying "I'm going to make a bad choice today!"  It starts years earlier with little things and little lies and little crimes or more often than not, being around people who do those things.  And that started them on a path that ended up here.


And then, as most of our discussions do, we talked about the value of education and how good choices put us on a different path.  But the point being, you have to choose a path that takes you in the direction you want to go.  And oddly enough, I am not going to choose that path for them.

Now I'm not proud of a lot of things, but I love The Citizens deeply, and I'm pretty proud of them.  And if either (or both) of them grow up to be good people and contribute to society in any shape or form, I'm going to take credit.  Let it be known.  And then, when they are being interviewed about their success and they point to this moment, when their mom took them to the prison for lunch and then lectured discussed choices with them, and how that was a pivotal moment in their childhood, I'm going to startle awake in my easy chair at the old folks home and then nod solemnly in agreement.  Because it made a difference.

And that, folks, is how you do family time.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Book Report: Before I Go To Sleep

Before I Go To Sleep
S.J. Watson

This one is a weekend reader.  Easy, not too long, total fluff, suspense.

Christine, the main character wakes up and can't remember where she is, how she got there, and who the man in the bed beside her is.  Turns out, everyday is like this.  She has had a traumatic experience that has erased nearly 20 years of her memory.

Her doctor gives her a journal to keep and she begins to track her experiences and what few memories she does have and each day she starts again, reads her journal to find out about herself and then adds to it.  In this process she begins to unravel her memories and that's where the good stuff starts to happen.

Can't tell you anymore without ruining it, although I don't think it is terribly tricky to figure out.

Like I said, a good weekend get-away read.  I could totally see a movie made out of this; I'm surprised it hasn't been yet.

**Just googled it...it will be coming out in 2014 with Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth.  HAH!

Book Report: The Angel Experiment: Maximum Ride #1 & 2

The Angel Experiment: Maximum Ride #1
School's Out Forever: #2
By James Patterson

Yes, you saw that right, it is the James Patterson, of the best selling book fame....this is a YA  book, and my 12 year old was super excited about these books and insisted I read them.  So I did.

I think there are lots of them...I made it through book #2, but went no further.

The story is basically about a group of kids, Max being their leader and the eyes the story is told through.  They have been stolen from their families and genetically experimented on so that they have wings and/or special gifts.  There is another group that is basically their nemesis that are also experimental people and are wolves of sorts who chase them everywhere trying to kill them.

Apparently Max is supposed to save the world, and I'm assuming the series plays this out.

I typically like a lot of YA literature.  But man...I'll leave this set to 12 year old boys.  I'm not really all that hard to please, but these books feel like they were slammed out in a weekend and underestimate the ability of YA's to be able to understand complex characters and plot points.  But then, maybe this hits a very specific demographic...and who am I to knock a book that will get a tween boy to read?


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Book Report: The Secret History

The Secret History
by Donna Tartt

I recently heard a book review of a new book, The Goldfinch, by Ms. Tartt on NPR and tried to get it from the library, but it wasn't available right away.  The review had mentioned a previous book of acclaim, so I decided to get that one instead.

The Secret History came out in 2004 and revolves around Richard, a poor California kid who flees his shabby life to go to school at an expensive Eastern liberal arts college in Vermont.  He is immediately fascinated by a small group of unapproachable elite students studying Greek, something Richard studied at his community college back in CA.  He finds himself admitted to this group of five  and unexpectedly into their private "research" of ancient ritual.

It should be noted, that the book starts with a death.  Richard then recounts the strange path that took this group there.  The story is fascinating, particularly for the haunting way everyone in the group gets to and then justifies murdering one of their own.

Not quite a mystery, since you know what happened, and even who did it from the very beginning, but discovering how they got there is fascinating.

A bit long for a weekend read; may not be the best companion just before bed.

Book Report: The Lowland

The Lowland
by Jhumpa Lahiri

The most recent novel by Ms. Lahiri and a favorite of mine.  She also has a very poetic writing style.  I love when the words seems to form images so effortlessly.  I'm a visual reader-meaning, I form images of the story I'm reading in my head as I read-kind of like a movie.  I was surprised to learn a few years back that not everyone reads like this.  I actually do this with everything.  If you tell me an event that happened to you...I will picture it.  It makes for some very uncomfortable images sometimes that I can't erase.

Anyway, I've loved previous books by this author: The Namesake, Interpreter of Maladies (a Pulitzer Prize winner) and Unaccustomed Earth.  So I was excited when this book came out and requested it from the library before they even had a copy (I love to be the first one to christen a library book...I don't know why, but I do).

This one is a full novel (some of her books are collections of short stories) and follows her traditional view of a native born Indian who moves to the U.S. and then unfolds their life from there.

The main character in this book, Subhash grows up very close with his brother in Calcutta, but as his brother becomes more involved with political groups Subhash goes away to graduate school in the U.S.  The story then takes a turn when Subhash returns to India upon the death of his brother and meets his sister-in-law, also a student in Calcutta.  We then follow their lives and the complications that follow duty and regret and personal sorrow.

While not a light book, it is not terribly long, and not a difficult book to read.  Perfect to curl up with over a long weekend by the fire.

**You can follow me on Goodreads by following the link on the left side of the blog.  Happy Reading!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Book Report: Harry Potter (s)

Ok.  I'm not actually going to Review Harry Potter.  I started reading this series with Anna last year at her request.  We finished #5 a couple of months ago, and are gearing up to start #6 in January.
Like many many people, I love these books.


I recently met someone who bragged that they had never read them and didn't care to.  Whatever.
 That's like saying "I've never eaten chocolate, but because so many people like it, I'm never going to try it, because it would taste like the masses."  Seriously, you are the only one losing out there.

I started reading these before I had kids (just before Citizen #1 hit the scene) and waited eagerly for each one to come out.  Because the span between each one was 2-3 years, my poor memory just couldn't hold it all in, so I would start over with #1 each time a new one came out.  But this time, I'm reading them with Anna, and reading your favorite books with a child is wonderful.  I love that we both get into it and lose track of time, and that she can't wait to get into her jammies so we can read together.

I don't have a lot of loose time on my hands, so snuggling down in my bed and reading is precious.  I'm not sure how much more I'll get, so I'd better make these last 2 books count.

Book Report: Peter and The Starcatchers

Peter and The Starcatchers (#1)
Peter and The Shadow Thieves (#2)
Peter and The Secret of Rundoon (#3)
Peter and The Sword of Mercy (#4)

by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson




We love these books.  To be fair, we haven't read any of them.  But over the past two years, we've got one of these on tape (disc really) every time we hit the road.  They are read by Jim Dale (of Harry Potter book-on-tape fame) and are wonderful.  Wonderful in their own right, but Jim Dale is a fantastic story teller, so doubly so for him.  We actually have one of those DVD thingies in our car, and my kids often prefer stories like this over movies.  Truth.






This is the story of Peter Pan.  And is a delightfully woven tale about where he came from and how he got to be who is he is.  Why he can fly, why Captain hook hates him...in fact all the characters and how they came to be.   It is hard to say more without giving it away, but each of the books build on one another, revealing more details about the characters you already know.



Last year, a play hit Off-Broadway in New York and is out now to theater companies.  I think the Utah Shakespeare festival had it on the season this year.  It is also delightful, so if a production pops up near you, take your kids.







The 5th book, The Bridge to Neverland, came out this year, but our library is having a hard time getting the book-on-tape version...I may have to order it myself.

I think this series would be appropriate for kids 5ish and up to listen to, and 7-8 on up for reading-on occasion, we get the tape and the book and Anna reads along.  As I said, we LOVE it.  Even the tween.

Book Report: Gilead

Guys...I am so far behind on book reports.  Forgive me.  I'm sure you've been waiting, unable to choose a book to read without my input.  Well, I feel that I MUST get reports in before the year's end, so I'll try to get y'all caught up.

Gilead:
by Marilynne Robinson

If ever there was a book that I could describe as gentle, this would be it.  Ms. Robinson has a gift with the words.  Every night that I picked up this book, I was put into a calmness of mind that is both rare for books and for me personally.  That isn't to say it was boring, because I felt completely engaged with the characters.  Well, mainly one character.

The book is set in Gilead, Iowa and is told from the perspective of an aging Congregationalist minister.  It is a journal, one he is writing to his very young son, aware that he may not live to see him grow up.  It is full of stories-stories of family and generations and lessons learned along the way. He tells of his father and grandfather; of their passions and missteps.  Both were ministers during times of war and upheaval.

Though it is set in Iowa, I was reminded of my own grandfather in Kansas (based on dates given, I'm assuming this is set sometime in the 50's?  Maybe early 60's...when my own mother would have been a child.)  There is something rather nostalgic about the Midwest to a western gal, although every time I picture it there is wind, and I'm not a great lover of wind.

There is no real plot, and the lives lived are ordinary, but the writing is poetic and beautiful.  And while there is much talk of religion within the book, it is not dogmatic and seems to transcend religion straight to the spiritual.

It really is a lovely book.  From what I gather, it took 24 years for Ms. Robinson to go from her first novel Housekeeping to this one...I'm going to add that one to my Goodreads list.

Oh, and also it won the Pulitzer Prize.


*If you'd like to follow me on Goodreads and see what I'm really reading, follow the link on the left.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Huck-Elf on a Shelf

So an odd childhood acquaintance of mine has been doing "Self on a Shelf" this season with his family (don't ask, it is creepy...), and is the inspiration for today's photo-op.

We do not understand the whole "Elf on a Shelf" thing and do not do such a thing at  our house.  WHO invented something to make moms more crazy during the holiday season?  Had to be another mom.  One on crack.  But the things the elves do, is be all naughty.  Which Huck is pro at.

Clearly, he is enjoying himself immensely.

As am I.



Merry Christmas Eve all!

Enjoy your day however you spend it, wherever and with whomever you choose.
It comes but once a year.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

UnHoly Family

Lest you think Huck has forgotten the true meaning of Christmas or that I am not procrastinating away the day (or that I am some how wasting all that graduate school), we have a delightful rendition of the Holy Family for you.

Tis the season.





Friday, December 20, 2013

Utah Pride

So earlier today, in case you were one of the two people in the state who hadn't heard, a Utah Supreme Court judge over turned a law that voters put in place in 2004 banning gay marriage in the state.  It is a big deal.  Honestly, I don't think anyone saw this coming.

Before I knew it my Facebook feed was full of images of couples getting marriage licenses and the Mayor of SLC performing ceremonies.  Seriously.  There at least a million old Mormons in the state that think the second coming of Jesus is here and we are about to purge the earth with fire.

Huck wanted to know what I was clearly so excited about and in the true spirit of the day allowed me to post this picture of him.

Merry Christmas Gay Utah.


The Ghost of Christmas Present

"This boy is Ignorance.  This girl is Want.  Beware them both, and all of their decree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.  Deny it!  ...Slander those who tell it ye!  Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse.  And abide the end!"

"Have they no refuge or resource?" cried Scrooge.

"Are there no prison?" said the spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words.  "Are there no work houses?"

The bell struck twelve.



This is perhaps my favorite section in A Christmas Carol, and the passages we read last night,

Huck was deeply affected.

As should we all be.




Merry Christmas!  Winter Break is finally here!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Mr. Scrooooooge

We've been reading A Christmas Carol at our house this year.  We have quite the collection of Christmas books, but this was the first year I thought the Citizens would be able to sit through the full rendition of Dickens.  They love it....but unbeknownst to me, someone else was listening too...and joined our little group last night bedecked in his finest Scrooge outfit-a fitting character, no doubt-You be the judge.



Marry Christmas!  Only 2 more days til Winter Break!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Good King Wenceslas

So...it turns out Huck really likes his little photos shoots.  He thinks it is an indication that I like him.  Whatever.  The world is full of unrealistic expectations this time of year; my hound is no exception.

This did, however, lead to some unexpected Christmas cheer...HUCK STARTED SINGING CHRISTMAS SONGS.  No, really.

And then I said, "I have a costume for that."




Happy Wednesday Every One!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

Feliz Navidad!

So we are on day 2 of our new family Christmas tradition of Huck Shaming.  Don't feel sorry for him.  He deserves it...plus he'll never see this because I don't let him have internet access and also he doesn't have fingers.

Happy Monday Y'all!



Don't you feel better now?

Feliz Navidad.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Santa's Little Helper

Yesterday our darling hound ate 2 full boxes of wrapped and be-ribboned cakebites from the Sweet Tooth Fairy intended as gifts....I would have killed him on the spot, but had just mopped the floor.

And then I thought of a different sort of revenge....my blog.  (insert evil laugh here...)

My intention is to abuse and shame Huck as much as possible for the next ten days in the true spirit of Christmas.  Stay tuned.


First up:  SANTA'S WORKSHOP!


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Bonnets and Bees

Utah-well, rather the Entire Western United States was hit by a big snowstorm this weekend (watch out Midwest & East Coast--its a comin' your way).  We got A LOT of snow.

I knew it was coming, and since we really didn't have anything on the docket for this weekend, I decided to hunker down...and then I realized I would have a WHOLE DAY where nothing had been scheduled.  So, I did what any sane person in the middle of Christmas projects and knee deep in a list of things that needed to be cleaned would do.  I decided to paint.  And once I got that bee in my bonnet, there was no letting go.

Isn't that what you would do???

My bedroom/bathroom has been bugging me every since I moved into this house six years ago...but has never been a priority.  Then when I had the whole bathroom debacle in September and had to redo it, the bedroom has really been standing out.  It was this sad beige color...but it had real strong pink undertones.  Most of the house was painted in this color, but the basement and my room still persists.

So I did.

I shoulda got a before picture.  But I carried the yellow/gray theme over from the bathroom and rearranged stuff and a whole new bed look.

I'm very happy.  My house is not clean, so you cannot come over and look at it, but I'm snuggled down deep in all those pillows reading a book.


**I thought I'd posted about the bathroom...but maybe I didn't.  Here is a picture of that project too.  However, that one was thrust upon me by fate and a water leak.