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One of the big projects I did when I was home in Michigan this June was to help Mom revamp the window displays for the cake shop. I had a lot of fun searching on pinterest for style ideas, both for the background of the windows and for the cake dummies that would sit inside them.

One of my main goals for the “fun” window (she has two and the other was wedding/romance themed), was to try to get away from really girly cakes. Cake can be for everyone, obviously, but I think a lot of time people thing of decorated cakes and they think of swirls and flowers and sugar pearls.


The first cake I tackled? Admittedly girly, but I liked the grass feature. As far as decorating and fondant work go, it’s an amateur attempt at best. Mom can do much, much better. But it’s for a window display and not a promotional shot, so we declared it alright.


The hobbit cake was something I designed because I thought the nerdy guys in my life would like it. And I was right! Kyle loved it and wanted me to bring it back to NJ with me. But nope, into the window it went!


This third cake, is my favorite. Again the fondant work is only so-so, but I love the monochromatic colors and its simplicity. The little red crab was supposed to go on top of the cake, hanging over the edge of the waves, but I found the darling whales in Mom’s extra fondant figures box and I couldn’t help but use them. They’re perfect and so charming. Now the crab sits in the sugar sand at the bottom of the cake.

All-in-all, I’m pretty happy with how things turned out. Though I have to say, cake decorating is HARD and not for me. I’m glad to jump in when I can to help out, and it was fun to stretch some new and different creative muscles, but oofta. I’m glad it’s done.

I don’t have any pictures of the finished window displays, but if you’re in Hillsdale you should swing by and check them out. They’re pretty great (if I do say so myself). And if you’re there between 10-3, stop in and get a cupcake!



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Labor Day…and cookies.


Abi is unsure about these cookie things, but is willing to try them if you need a taste tester…

Yesterday around 1p we made it back to NJ after an unplanned and whirlwind trip home to Michigan. We unpacked the car (because apparently it is completely impossible to go home and NOT come back with the car full of stuff).

In case you were wondering the contents of the car, we pulled out:

– 5 starts of raspberry bushes

– 1 apple spice cake

– 3 bushels of apples/pears

– 1 tall fan

– wooden filing cabinet

– lbs of ground beef

– gigantic bag o’ blueberries

– 3 cases of Vernor’s

– a box of canned peaches and pears

Since most of it’s consumable, and all of it was free, it’s not a bad haul.

It was raining when we got home, so we couldn’t plant the raspberry bushes immediately. Instead I decided we should tackle the house, which between the old roommate moving out and the new roommates moving in, into a different room (more on that later in the week!)– the house is a bit of a disaster.

The first step was to paint. So yesterday after a busy weekend at home and a long car drive back, we painted.

And then we went for sushi for dinner.

And then we finished painting.

And then I collapsed and read for a little while and fell asleep around 10p.

Kyle, who had made promises (when the day was young and his wife was upset), baked. For the first time in his whole life (I think). Because he is lovely and wanted to follow through despite the late hour.

So I woke up to cinnamon chocolate chip cookies the size of my head and a house that smells divine. It’s not a bad way to start tech.

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Uncle Orson’s Literary Boot Camp: Day 6. The end.

And…it’s over. I’m home. I’m completely and utterly exhausted, completely useless to Kyle who wants to get things done around the house and do grocery shopping and have actual conversations. I’ve got nothing for him.

Sunrise coming into the landing at JFK.

Sunrise coming into the landing at JFK.

Part of it is that I took the red eye back to NJ and I am a bad sleeper on planes, so I’ve gotten almost no sleep. (Word to the wise: If you’re reading this someday as research, trying to decide if you want to go and/or how it’s all going to go down–fly back the next day if you can. When I left people were still talking, and we didn’t get a lot of time to socialize. I would’ve loved an extra evening with no deadlines to get to know people better.)

Not the most flattering picture of me, but the fact that we took a selfie makes me laugh.

Not the most flattering picture of me, but the fact that we took a selfie makes me laugh.

Yesterday was by far my favorite day of the experience, I think because it was the only day we really had time to chat AND because we were all so exhausted that we were punchy as hell. We laughed together a lot, confirming for me what I had been suspecting: I really, REALLY like my fellow boot campers. Not only are they clever and good writers, but they’re funny. And they all seem to be genuinely good people. I can’t wait to see where their careers go.

Uncle Orson's Literary Boot Camp, class of 2013. Yawning.

Uncle Orson’s Literary Boot Camp, class of 2013. Yawning.

We took pictures at the end of the day. There was some poor schmuck who was sitting in the lobby who took one on something like 8 different devices. Ridiculous. Mine was the last and we wanted something different, so we decided to do one that showed what boot camp was really about: being exhausted. When I first saw it I was disappointed that it’s blurry, but on second examination, I think it’s a pretty accurate representation. Being fuzzy and tired were a HUGE part of boot camp, especially toward the end.

Now…back to real life. Tech for Hamlet starts tomorrow!!

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Uncle Orson’s Literary Boot Camp: Day 5

Yesterday was a long, but lovely, day of critiquing. I don’t have a lot to say about it because there was not really a single part of the day was about me. Since I had already gone, I didn’t have anything at stake. Which was the best part of it.  Since I wasn’t nervous about my own performance, I paid attention better to everyone else’s.

It may have been my favorite day of the entire process. Over and over again I was astounded by what my fellow boot campers came up with, usually things that I completely missed during my own first read through of a story. They’re brilliant and funny. My sincerest hope is that we all stay in touch, because even though I still don’t feel like I know many of them personally (we’ve all been rather too busy to get to know one another), I do think if we continue to sharpen and critique each other we can help each other toward amazing writing careers.

Or at least, they can help me. I hope my critiques have been useful too. I don’t know I guess.

Today is the last day, which is good. Yesterday I wasn’t ready for it to be over. This morning I know that I couldn’t possibly absorb anymore. It’s all been too intense. Too much.

We have 3 more critiques to read and a Q&A (hopefully) afterward. Then it’s off to the airport and eventually home to Kyle. I’m ready to be home, and to focus on costuming again for awhile.

If this week has taught me little else, it’s that I need both of these careers. I need to work with my hands. I need to get out of my own head sometimes and away from reading and writing sometimes. It can just be too much to absorb. I stop being able to think about things.

And, with costuming, you walk away in the end KNOWING that you’ve made something really cool (or not). For me, writing is never that certain. 

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the Homeland

The husband and I were able to go back to Michigan, our native land, this summer for about two weeks. It’s the first time we’ve made the trip since we moved away last August and it was amazing to get away.

Sometimes though, it’s hard to go home. People have busy lives and are trying to fit you in, and while you are loved and wanted, there are times when you just don’t quite belong anymore. You don’t have a place to call your own really. It can be uncomfortable and disorienting. And, for us at least, it involves a lot of driving from family house to other family house, all 45 minutes or more away from the other. Because it’s the rural Midwest and the neighboring towns just aren’t that close.

But then, of course, there’s this:

An early morning at home.

An early morning writing session on a second floor balcony at my parents’. Heaven. 

Michigan is beautiful, even more than on its surface, because it has a special place in both of our hearts.

And it’s lovely to come home. We get to see all the people we love that are so far away, and see what’s changed. we get to see everyone’s new endeavors succeeding. My Mom and Grandma will cook the things they know we like (lemon poppyseed cake! baked macaroni and cheese!), and the husband’s parents will take us out (live celtic music and gourmet food at a local winery!).  We spend time reading and sleeping and listening to the birds sing. Last night I heard an owl hooting through my open window.

And this trip I’ve spent a lot of time dreaming and writing, and sharing my writing with my family, which was a special treat. I wasn’t quite sure how everyone would react. I worried they would brush it off as another dream of their dreamer sister/niece/daughter/granddaughter. Much to my surprise and delight, they love it all.

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