Gingerbread Houses

We hosted a small gingerbread house party this weekend with a few college friends. I spent the week making the houses from scratch and baking them in a mold we bought from the Pampered Chef. Turns out this mold is quite the novelty item as we discovered it was only made in 1992. I guess we were pretty lucky to find one on good ol' ebay!

From left to right, top to bottom, we have:
Marit & Tim Oberle - very cute house, complete with smoke in the chimney! Tim added fun lawn details, like a patio, a pond with swedish fish, a lamp post and a junk pile!
Mitch and Colleen - most candy-bedecked house of them all with nice patterns on the roof! Unique use of chimney as a walkway, and surprisingly sturdy for all the slanting walls!
Evan & Carolyn Pierson - interesting combination of precision and wild creativity.... C tended to the house while E made room for the dog in the backyard (note the doghouse at the right). Mailbox and gate complete the front of this snow-gabled cottage.
Dub (Andrew) - the first eco-friendly gingerbread house on the block! The solar panels are the highlight of this one, but the slide down to the patio is a great feature too! Note the gingerbread man pegged by a snowball. What a happy gingerbread community!

**You may need to click on the collage to view each house up close**

Christmas Decorations

We got our tree this past Sunday and had fun decking out our place. Last year we walked to get our tree in the snow, and we could have repeated that fun tradition this year since we have our share of snow, but alas, it was freeezing. We ended up driving to get our little tree at a local farmer's market-type establishment. I wanted to go to a tree farm to cut one down, but once again, just a little too cold for that this time. 
The 3 poinsettias were purchased on Black Friday at the Home Depot just up the road... at 6am! That's right, we were the crazies out and about that early morning. But we weren't at Best Buy stocking up on electronics... we were picking out $1 flowers, haha! You can see Evan... er.. Mr. Pierson sitting at his desk grading tests! What a good teacher. After doing the tree we had some leftover lights so I just kept going and decorated the whole living room... perhaps a bit over done? Hahha... but you can only do this once a year! Evan whipped up some banana bread tonight and I baked a gingerbread house so it is smelling oh so festive in Apple Valley tonight : )

Christmas Cookie Bake

Here are some pictures from our Pierson Cookie Bake held Thanksgiving Eve. It was a good thing we all had full bellies before the baking began! We made a total of 11 cookies/treats I think... I may have lost track! I don't think I have ever made so many cookies at once! Now we all have our stash of Christmas treats - I froze half so we can spread out the fun. What a fun tradition to begin! Hopefully we'll do it again next year! I think it would be fun to gather all the recipes and put them in a book somewhere so we can remember all that we did... and keep on adding to the list! YUM YUM! Here is what I remember:
1 - classic sugar cookies w/2 kinds of frosting
2 - krumkaka (Norwegian cookies)
3 - Russian Teacakes/Snowballs
4 - Peanut Butter Cup cookies
5 - Haystacks
6 - caramels
7 - (white) chocolate covered pretzels
8 - chocolate covered ritz peanut butter cracker sandwiches
9 - Pretzel, pecan, caramel clusters (I made up that name as I don't remember)
10 - gingerbread men
I feel like there were a few more! What am I forgetting?

Thanksgiving festivities

We drove down to Evan's grandparents' in Goodhue, MN for Thanksgiving, joined by the rest of the immediate Piersons and some other extended relatives. After a wonderful meal we were tempted by the whipped cream to play this fun (and messy) little game! video video
Did you catch what happened in the second video? Beth (Evan's aunt, Mary's sister) hit her whipped cream to the ceiling, and Mary's landed in Beth's hand! Hahaha, they couldn't have planned it better!

My Lucky Husband!

For Riley's 21st birthday last weekend (Nov 30) we drove to a small town called Flandreau right over the border into South Dakota. The attraction? A "cash tunnel" in the town's casino! If it is your birthday month you can stand in the glass cylinder and try grab as much cash as you can, fighting the wind - but you only have 20 seconds! It just so happened to also be Evan's birthday month so he got to participate as well! There is $700 flying around the machine, and only 2 100-dollar bills, but Evan was lucky to grab one of them! Here is a picture of him concentrating on stuffing that 100-dollar bill into the box. (Sorry it is a bad picture... this is a polaroid the casino took since we weren't allowed to snap photos). Although it was a long drive, it was worth it. Besides spending some quality time with the Piersons, we got to meet up and visit with our good college friend Erin Mercer!

Gearing up for Christmas!

Hello! Wow, I think this is the longest I have gone between blog entries. 
I am not one to push the Christmas season and usually roll my eyes when I see Christmas paraphernalia in stores before Thanksgiving hits. Although this still holds true and there is no way any Christmas decorations will light our walls and shelves before the turkey is gone, my excuse for lagging in the blogging department is that I have secretly been busy busy busy with Christmas prep projects! I am like the undercover Christmas enthusiast just waiting to burst forth. I just finished with 3 projects/gifts and am so excited to see the designated people open them! I like my projects, but I do have a tendency to overload myself... I feel like I always have 5 or more projects on all burners at once! But I guess that's what I love : )
We will be spending Thanksgiving with the Piersons and their extended family this year. After Turkey dinner with the grandparents Evan will help his dad milk cows and I will whip up some yummy cookies with the women! I hope to take some fun pictures that day... so look for those to come!
Well, I'm off to write our first Christmas card and figure out how to make a real gingerbread house -- I'll try not to turn on the Christmas music... yet!

Evan turns 25!

Evan's Birthday Flowers

The Birthday Boy!

Trying on his new shirt from Mama Sol!

Riley, Evan, Denny, Mary

Evan turned 25 on Monday November 3rd! Sunday evening the Piersons drove up for a celebration - we went out to dinner at Enjoy and then back to our place for gifts ... but we didn't eat the cake because we were all too full (and had received a free dessert at the restaurant)! If we had done the cake we would have realized that E is now into a double pack of bday candles! What a milestone! We'll just save those for my bday in a month!

Girls of Rand 220 Photos

To view all 79 photos of Sarah and her roommates taken earlier this fall, go to:

(just copy and paste it into a new browser page or tab as I can't figure out how to turn it into a direct link - sorry!)

The first link provides a better slideshow (quality of image) but the second is a little more fun. It just happens to distorts the images ever so slightly, turning them pixel-y. I'm pretty sure they'll look fine if you order prints, they just look poor on their website (or maybe my eyes are just too sensitive). If you view the slideshow, I recommend changing the settings to the fastest speed (under Options at the top), and making the background color black - it looks the best this way. Still trying to figure out the best (and cheapest) slideshow method to put directly in my blog... I'm almost there!

ps - whenever I figure out the best way to make a slideshow with music this is going to be accompanied by Free Falling by John Mayer... so if you have it, play it while viewing. It is one of the girls' favorites! Or play any other song you like... pictures are always better with music : )

Thoughts on Fall

Fall in Minnesota is not nearly as spectacular as on the east coast. Although it is still beautiful here, it simply doesn't boast as many oranges and reds as the trees bedecking my memories of New Jersey. However, I learned to appreciate something new this year: the colors AFTER the peak. People look forward to the peak, and once that is over they complain about how short its life and begin buckling down for winter. But they are missing something: afterwards there is a whole new beauty where the bright colors that boasted before settle into each other, a perfect blend... they become one. As I drive around (to work or wherever) I like observing the changing landscape and seeing how each piece of nature has its turn in the limelight and then settles back into the surrounding melding colors.

I love how nature has a secret way of always matching: each season is an outfit that goes together perfectly with its own hues and color pallet. Even when faced with the most change, nature still works together and is beautiful. There is something we can learn in this.

I love how winter (and the colder months, as it is already cold here and only the end of October) allow you to focus on the inside -- both in yourself and in your home. This is your chance to make your inside space come alive. Summer is like spring cleaning or airing out, letting yourself out to roam the world. It is also the time we like to bring the outside IN: open up the windows, put flowers on the table, eat from the garden. People are often depressed in winter because they don't get this easy access to life. But winter is OUR chance to bring light and life inside, it just isn't given to us. It takes work but in the end can almost be more fulfilling than the warm summer months. So next week when daylight savings time hits, don't look at it as a bad or depressing thing. Instead, see it is an excuse to get cozy (i love that word) and focus on the inside world.
(I think it was Karrin who first let me see darkness this way when we were walking across St. Olaf campus a few years ago and my friends and I were bemoaning the fact that it was so dark and cold... but Karrin loved it! So now I'm trying to think like her!)

Sneak Peak: Girls of Rand 220

Karrin's Simple Pumpkin Soup

In a medium saucepan, first add:
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 Tbs butter

Once onions are clear, add the rest:
2 cups mashed cooked pumpkin (a little more than 1 can. I usually just do 1 can)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground pepper
3 cups chicken broth (I only did 2 cups because that was 1 can)
1/2 cup half & half (I used milk because that's all I had and it turned out pretty runny. Still tasted good but not the same as if I'd used half & half).

GREAT and easy soup, but turns out it didn't quite fill me up so I'm eating leftover applesauce pancakes I toasted and drizzled with honey -- SO GOOD : )

Prior Lake

I am trying to figure out this whole slideshow thing. This isn't exactly what I want, but it will do for now...

We spent Friday night at Marit's family lake cabin eating grilled chicken and sweet potatoes (we take advantage of grilled food whenever we can since we can't have a grill at our apartment), relaxing in adirondack chairs by a bonfire, and playing intense games of Sequence into the night. Saturday was a beautiful morning so we took a spin out on the boat. The lake was only half an hour from our house, but we were so relaxed when we came home we felt like we'd been up north!

Applesauce Pancakes

Evan and I just enjoyed what has become our standard Sunday night dinner: applesauce pancakes. These are hands down, the best pancakes ever and perfect for fall! I'll share the recipe here, even though most of you reading this are family, and are no stranger to their perfect tasty goodness : )

1.5 cups all-purpose flour (sometimes I substitute in 1/2 cup whole wheat flour for some extra fiber)
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup applesauce
2 Tablespoons butter, melted (sometimes I only use 1 T)

Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg
Combine eggs, milk, applesauce, and butter (I use a whisk)
Add wet to dry ingredients, beating until blended.
Cook as per usual (using a good griddle is key to perfecting these, but they'll taste good any way.)
I like to eat mine with yogurt and berries, but sometimes i'll have bananas and walnuts, just plain ol' syrup, or whatever else I can think of. Great as leftovers - just pop them in the toaster! Or even eat them cold!

(Makes 18 pancakes)

I am actually making applesauce right now (first time ever!) since we still have a ton of apples from last weekend. Evan is also whipping up his version of apple crisp. I feel like we've been just stuffing ourselves with apples! Well, back to the apples, and then hopefully I will have time to post some pictures from our weekend at the lake.

Prose Poem: Hope and Alligator Lessons

Hope and Alligator Lessons

When the man tells the story about withstanding the hurricane, he speaks of alligators living in his garage. The woman speaks in muted gestures and points to the walls where the water line etches the ceiling. "We were lucky it only came up this far," she says pointing to her knees, ignoring the evidence above.

Possessions dot the lawn down to the water in garbage-bag bundles like a checkers game too askew to finish, or a gum-ball machine gone haywire, spewing little cannons that pin the ground. Unfolded in the mud lie magazine pages, the stories of A Baby's First Year, and National Geographic discoveries can again be found. Stories in ink survive the storm, nestled in the safe and solid ground.

Finally, after months of pacing and painting their story in the air with their washed-up words, a small corner of the porch is cleared. The buckled floorboards are ready to begin again. And the man cannot stop telling his story of the alligators eating birthday cake from the refrigerator in his garage.


Artist Statement

I used Matthew Dickman's poem "Apology and Winter Things" for a general model while writing this poem: I created a similar balanced title structure and made sure to repeat my opening thought again at the end, with a slight alteration.

This poem is inspired by my trip to Mississippi a couple summers ago when I helped with relief work after Hurricane Katrina. I wanted to portray how stories and the act of telling their stories is really what helped these families recover, or what helps anyone recover from a disaster or tragedy. Our group did a lot of physical labor to get their town back on their feet (roofing houses, cleaning up debris, etc.), but what we provided that they needed the most, was just our ears to hear their stories.

I was struck by the items we found in the mud that had survived the storm: magazine articles were completely in tact! I even found myself reading some right there in the middle of the swamp as if they were sacred pieces of evidence carrying heavy secrets. It was eerie thinking the people who owned these things may not have survived, but their stuff did -- completely unharmed. I used the survival of these print items and stories as a metaphor in my poem, showing how the stories the survivors have to share are also like artifacts and documents that survived the storm -- and are central to the recovery process.

I structured the poem in 3 separate stanzas to illustrate the stages of recovery. At first there is disbelief and denial (the woman we helped was insistent that her house only had a few feet of water), then they begin telling you their stories (I really did hear about alligators raiding a house), and finally there is a sense of hope.

Hamline Update

Good morning! Last night I finalized something I'd been thinking about for a while and officially withdrew from my Hamline MFA Creative Writing class. There's a long list of reasons that I don't really feel like typing out here.. but what matters is that I am significantly happier now that I ended what was becoming a big stress in my life. In fact, I venture to say, I am even happier than before I started the class because I learned things about myself in the whole process. I am looking forward to spending my free time working on photography projects, writing (for myself and the blog!), perhaps taking a low-key writing class at the Loft (in downtown Minneapolis), running (hopefully train for a few races), spending my weekends with Evan and friends, and of course updating my new Blog! Perhaps I'll post one of my recent poems later today... until then, aufwiedersehen!


Evan and I spent a glorious Saturday on St. Olaf campus cheering on the Oles and checking out the new science center. We also went apple picking with Marit and Tim and ended up with 27 apples AFTER baking 2 batches of apple crisp (2 different recipes because E and I both like what we grew up with). Checked out sister Sarah's HUGE quad suite dorm room (Rand) and hung out for a bit. We miss being students on campus, but I guess it is nice being adults too ; )

Wedding Album flipbook!

Our wedding album is almost done at Photo Book Press - I think it is at the printer right now! After that we have to fold and collate the pages, select a cover and some last minute things, and send it to the binder! I'm so excited to finally be done with this, and even more excited about how wonderful it looks! Ok, enough with the exclamation points already!
We now have a "flipbook" version of our book available online. You actually turn the pages by clicking and pulling at the upper right hand corner, pretty cool. Check it out! (Sorry the link doesn't work, you'll have to copy and paste it into a new browser... not sure why I can't paste the active link here...still figuring this out).

Question: I need your opinion. What should we do on the cover of our actual hard copy album? I want simple black leather as shown in the flipbook, and I like the font, but here is what we have yet to decide:
1- gold or silver text
2- if the date should appear as the modern looking "08.04.07" or as the traditional "August 4th, 2007"
3- if there should be anything on the binding (the side of the book) like the date again in either form or our names? As is there is just a small PhotobookPress logo there. Let me know what you think because I have a hard time making these types of small decisions, haha!

Hello, we have arrived!

I decided it was about time we get a little blog going documenting the activities and happenings of E & C Pierson, also known as the Piearsons, Evalyn, Carevan.. the list goes on. Right now Evan is cooking up an Egg C-Muffin as he likes to call it (since I don't like referring to a homemade snack with the word Mc in it!) and we are about to settle down for a relaxing evening - much needed. Evan is a busy high school chemistry and forensics teacher at Lakeville North, and spends his after-school hours coaching adaptive soccer. I am a copy editor contractor with Thomson Reuters  spending my days editing the ads, catalogs and websites in their creative department. I am also a student in Hamline's MFA program for creative writing so stay busy with that all weekend long (a little busier than I'd like to be actually). I've been missing my photography/website creativity outlet, and after visiting a few friends' blogs I decided to jump on board. So here we are! We are off to St. Olaf for all of the homecoming festivities tomorrow and to see sister Sarah of course. Hope to take some fun pictures I can post up here. Well, looks like my eggy is done, so I better run!

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