Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sumatra Stories: Danau Toba

Of all my trips around Indonesia, I think my vacation in Sumatra last week was my very favorite. All of the ETAs had the week off for National Testing of senior high school students. During my vacation time I went to Northern Sumatra to meet up with 14 other Fulbrights--me, tall Sarah, Alexa, John, Jimmie, Ricky, Kelly, Vidhi, Kerry, Kalada, Ab, Anna, Ashley, Aaron, and Dani. We spent 4 days at Danau Toba and 1 day in Medan. John and Vidhi live and teach in Medan so they acted as pseudo-tour guides for the week. It was the biggest gathering of ETAs I've been to since the midyear conference in January. We were loud, rambunctious, and happy to see each other. People say "a picture is worth a thousand words" and I think that must be true for I have very few pictures, but can remember millions of fascinating words being spoken. We spent two days at Toba simply lounging around enjoying the intensely beautiful scenery and each other. Another day we rented motorcycles and a car and toured around the area seeing all of the tourist sights and stopping along the way in villages to take photos.
Danau Toba is the largest lake in Southeast Asia and the largest volcanic lake in the world. It is big and deep! The climate at Toba was a refreshing change from the rest of Indonesia--it was cool! It was nice to spend a few days not dripping sweat constantly. We were able to enjoy being outside in the sun without getting heatstroke. There is an island in the middle of Lake Toba named Samosir. The people that traditionally lived on Samosir and in the area surrounding the lake are the Batak people. Many of their descendants still live there today. The traditional homes of the Batak people look like the little house above with pointed roofs that pitch up at both ends. I think they're quite cute!

A trip is never complete for me until we've watched traditional dances! Luckily, we were able to catch a performance at the Batak Museum. This man was the lead dancer. Later in the performance he used that stick as a sort of spear. He threw it at an egg that had been placed in the center of the dance space, which cracked the egg open and exposed the yolk for the gathering birds to eat. Batak dance seems to consist mostly of swaying from side to side, slowly moving the arms in circles in from of the body, and humming. These women are depicted wearing the traditional dance costumes consisting primarily of woven scarves. Someone has a video of us ETAs joining in the dancing--scarves and all. When I get my hands on it I'll be sure to share it with you.
Lake Toba was so green, so calm, so cool, and so relaxing. Here are some rice paddies, the lake, and the cloud-capped mountains in the distance.
We stopped in a small Batak village on our journey around the island. We were able to watch this woman weaving. Her speed and precision were impressive. I also am curious about how she knew which colored string came next in the pattern...there were so many!
Dani perusing some of the scarves for sale. They come in every color and pattern imaginable from shiny, metallic, and gaudy to more traditional earth tones. I much prefer the muted earth tones and water blues. I guess that makes me a traditionalist!
If only we were all this effortlessly adorable! One of the ETAs commented that if the group ever lost me I would probably be found playing with the local kids. He might have a point.
These stone chairs are the traditional courtroom of the Batak people. According to John, acting as tour guide, if you committed an offense you would be brought to this area to be judged by the king and the other important people in the village. If you committed a minor offense like killing a chicken you would be imprisoned in the jail, which is that lattice-work area under the house in the background. If you committed a major offense, you would be publicly killed by decapitation and your body would be eaten raw by the everyone in the village. The Bataks were cannibals until sometime in the 19th century when a missionary came and converted them to Christianity.
Don't think me morbid, but I love these tombs. They are all over the landscape at Toba, seemingly rising up out of the nothingness of the rice paddies. I think they are pretty and solemn. They make you pause for a moment. Isn't that what graves should do?
Here I am posing with the very tiny door of the Batak traditional house. The ETAs had me climb up because they said the door was "Sarah-sized" and I was the only one who would be able to fit through it.
Although tropical, Danau Toba reminded me a bit of Vermont. Sort of like Lake Dunmore in summer. Clear blue water surrounded by green mountains. If I ignored the palm trees I could almost imagine I was hanging out on the dock after a water ski.
The spectacular view from my porch. We stayed at an adorable little place owned by a Dutch woman and her Indonesian husband. The food and view were spectacular. Every morning I would wake up and sit in the comfy porch chair still curled in my blanket to just watch the morning for a bit before starting my day. It was peaceful and relaxing. A great place for thinking big thoughts.
Early one morning this Batak man set out his fishing nets. Do you see the black circles floating on the water? Those are the floats of the net. After he had set the net up in a circle he put on his mask and snorkel, got out his spear and dove into the contained area. He swam around for about 10 minutes occasionally diving down under the water. I'm not sure if he got any fish, but he definitely entertained me.
FYI for those of you interested: I officially accepted my admission to Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions this week! I will be starting classes on June 7th and will be looking for an apartment in Boston to share with the lovely Katherine Pezzella who will be attending graduate classes at Harvard. Exciting goings-on for me!

Lunch in Magelang

My family is coming to visit next week and my whole school is excited. Today the administrative staff wanted to test out a restaurant to make sure it was adequate for festivities when my family arrives. So away we went for lunch. We had delicious gurame bakar and gurame goreng (grilled fish and fried fish), tofu, kalkung, sambals, and of course white rice.

This is Pak Pur, one of my very favorite people in Indonesia. He is the head of the automotive department and an assistant principal. He always has a smile on his face just like the one in the picture. I like him because he is happy but in a calm and soothing way. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the teachers at school because they can be very "aggressive" [loud voices and close physical proximity] in their attempts to communicate with me. Not Pak Pur. We have "gentle" conversations. He is patient and kind and he always makes me laugh. He is one of the people I will miss most from Magelang.

An offer of free lunch means lots of people will join in. Our group included: head of automotive department, a guidance counselor, a building teacher, a vice principal, a gym teacher, an automotive teacher, a computer teacher, a man who I see all the time and have no idea what he does, Song Young the teacher from Korea, and me.
The best part of lunch was the location. Look at this! We ate in little bungalows suspended above the rice paddy. Between the bungalows you could look down and see the fish that everyone around you was waiting to eat!
After lunch we threw our scraps into the rice paddy and the lele came to eat them! Catfish fight! I've never seen such disturbingly large catfish. If I had dipped my toes in I have no doubt that they could have bitten them off.

The World Within My Window

Never let it be said that I don't rise to the challenge...

A bright spring scene for everyone to enjoy!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Whole Lotta Love

I think I am the best, if not most, loved ETA in the world! If that's a statement that I can't prove, at least it's one that I feel to be true. My whole time here people at home have gone out of their way to remind me that they are thinking of me and wishing me the best of adventures. I've received countless e-mails, phone calls, letters, and packages. I arrived home on Monday morning from an excellent vacation in Sumatra to find not one but two surprise packages!

This cornucopia of absolute deliciousness came from the Tom Vickery family! All of my favorite snacks that are unavailable in Indonesia: Cheez-Its, Crystal Light packets, dark chocolate (fortified with calcium...Aunt Pam is amazing!), and even my favorite kind of girl scout cookies! The best part was the letters from my little cousins. I remember writing letters to my Aunt Kristen when she was doing Peace Corps in Namibia and I'm sure my letters made her smile as widely as I did when I read those from Becca, Kate, and Ryan.

The second package was from the lovely Katherine Pezzella! She sent a beautiful card and chocolate chip cookie dough truffles. Amazing and delicious! I'm so thankful to have such wonderful best friends. I'm so excited to be seeing Miss Pezzella again in only 2 short months when we will both be moving to Boston for graduate school!

To top of the wonderfulness I received three cards today! One from my parents congratulating me on being accepted to graduate school. One from my cousin Angela sending happy thoughts for the tail end of my grant and promises of adventures in Boston this summer. One from the Chouinard family including lots of pictures and an adorable letter written by Will [age 3]. So much happiness to receive all in one week!

I really appreciate everything that everyone has done to remind me that there are people that love me regardless of where they are on the globe! Thanks!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

WORDS 2010

AMINEF hosts an annual English competition for the ETAs' schools named WORDS. Each school will send one student to Jakarta with their ETA for a 3 day event in April. Winners in Jakarta receive scholarships to help pay their tuition next year. This is a big deal. Most of the kids at my school have never been on an airplane. School is expensive and winning a scholarship could have a big impact on a student's life.
The topic of WORDS 2010 was The Changing World Outside My Window: Where am I from? Where am I going? In hindsight, not the best prompt. It wasn't specific enough for our students and really intimidated them. I'm not even sure that I could easily compose a great answer. When the due date for submissions arrived at my school I had 0 participants. Great. I started encouraging, begging, pleading, coercing, cajoling, prodding, stalking...everything short of forcing the students to do it. By the end of the next week I had 10 submissions.
I am incredibly proud of every student that participated. It was difficult and they demonstrated both creativity and determination in their work. With the help of ETAs Lolly and Anna, we selected the top 5 participants. These 5 students gave an oral presentation of their work. From their presentations we were able to select first 3 finalists and ultimately the winner who will accompany me to Jakarta in April.
I have videos of the top 5 participants that I'd like to share with you. I'll upload them one at a time. First, I'll give you some quotes from the other submissions:

"Humans is the most perfect living creature that God ever create." -Mukharoron

"Each of us must have private talent and skill, so we can show our differences. It can motivate us to change the world." -Mukharoron

"I just a boy in usual who dreamt to change the world." -Mukharoron

"No one understand you/No one hears you're screaming/You need some help/No matter if you're slow" -Dwi Cahyoko

"Don't be afraid/Just be brave to say 'changing the world'" -Dwi Cahyoko

"Many people have dreams/Me too.../Like rocket that fly in galaxy/Like airs that fill the earth/Like flowers that blooming this morning/Like Bandung Bandawsa made one thousand temple for Roro Jongrang..." -Whitny

"Changing the world with my version of windows." -Yani

"Reforestation can be done in the way we use the system 'died a thousand plants'" -Yani

I think they have some excellent, interesting, and creative ideas, don't you?

Happy Spring!

Happy 1st day of Spring! It is 101 degrees in Magelang today. Is that double or triple the temperature in Vermont?

I've been trying to prepare people here for Neil's size. I keep telling them that my little brother is BIG. I'm trying to cut down on the number of people who will be scared of him. Not only is he tall, but he has some mass to him -- whereas you'd be hard pressed to find an Indonesian teenage male who weighs much more than me regardless of their height. I've seen how people react to ETA Jimmie who is also a good sized American male. In my mind, I try to add that Neil is also pale, blond, and has blue eyes to the response Jimmie gets. People might faint. He's sort of like the uber-bule. As opposed to me -- my Ibu tells people I'm only a half-bule because I have a darker complexion.

Yesterday one of my students said to me, "Miss Sarah, what happened to your window? It used to have such nice pictures. Now it is just a window." Well, just a window no longer! Photos of "It's Spring in Vermont!" coming soon.

Friday, March 19, 2010

But, Miss Sarah, How Did You Get Here?

I love running into teachers and students outside of school. It doesn't happen that often, but occasionally I'll be walking down the aisle at the grocery store and I'll hear a shocked little voice from behind me, "Miss?" [Miss is always pronounced like 'meeeeess' in an impressively high pitch] Or someone will walk by my favorite bakmi waroeng and do an abrupt about-face at the sight of me eating my noodles. Or I'll climb onto an angkot and be greeted by a curious chorus of "Miss, mau ke mana?" by my students. It happens when I'm just taking a walk on the road that the school is on. It doesn't matter where I am, the reaction is always the same -- complete surprise. The general opinion is clearly that I do not exist off of school grounds. They are tentative at first, is this really Miss Sarah or is it a different bule that just looks suspiciously like her...are there any other bule in Magelang? Once the initial shock wears off and they realize that it is indeed their Miss Sarah that they are seeing; they all want to know three things:
1. What am I doing? What I'm doing is usually obvious and boring -- eating lunch, buying groceries, buying pulsa, etc. There isn't anything all that exciting to do in Magelang.
2. How did I get here? My two options for response are always either I took an angkot or I walked. Both seem to shock people. They are impressed that I know how to use the angkots, which actually is quite a feat. They are appalled that I walk anywhere -- don't I realize how hot it is in this country? I know it's hot, but I'd rather walk 5 miles in the heat than try to ride a motorcycle through Indonesian traffic.
3. Am I really alone? Yes, I'm alone. No, I am not scared. Indonesians do not like to do things alone so my independence leads to lots of remarks about how brave I am. I'm not brave really, I just have things to do and when I'm capable of doing them by myself I don't want to bother anyone to accompany me.
After I have satisfactorily answered their questions, they are so happy to see me. First, they are excited that I am enjoying their hometown. Usually this encounter also gives them the opportunity to introduce me to someone, which gives them celebrity status for a few minutes.
I always leave these encounters energized and smiling. Yes, I am brave! Yes, I am smart because I can use the angkots! Yes, my Bahasa Indonesia is good enough to order my lunch! Yes, I do know my way around [kind of]! Yes, I am a resident of this city! Yes, I do know people here! Yes, I can make people happy when I run into them unexpectedly!
I hope you're having a Yes! kind of day too!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Odds and Ends

My internet has been atrocious for the last week or so, which is why I haven't posted anything new.
23 days and 19 hours until the MacKenzie clan invades Indonesia! That's right Donna, Chet, and Neil are all coming to visit for 2 weeks in April. It will be great to see them and show them my world here. Planning and preparing for their arrival is daunting and semi-stressful, but I know that it will be worth it when they get here.
Soon I will have some English competition entries to share with you. My students did a great job [once I practically forced them to participate] and I was very proud of them. A winner has been selected and he is excited to go to Jakarta with me for the competition in April.
On a body part test last week, one of my students wrote down "eye grasses" for eyelashes. I thought that was very cute.
When making nasi goreng for dinner tonight, I cracked open an egg into a pan on hot oil to fry and inside was the beginnings of a chicken. I am not joking. There were organs and blood. Really put me off the idea of eating dinner. I buy my eggs at the grocery store so I am not sure how this happened.
I watched two of my classes play soccer against each other (1 MB vs 1 MA) this afternoon in a complete downpour. About a quarter of the way through the game my Cabela's gortex raincoat decided the rain was just too much for it to handle. By the end of the game I was absolutely drenched and splattered with mud and other debris. The field was completely flooded. Whenever they had to stop the play for a corner kick or goal kick the ball would float away from the player on the 4-6 inches of water covering the field. I now know what Noah must have felt like at the start of the flood. Half time will go down as one of my favorite moments in Indonesia. Last week I showed 1 MB The Mighty Ducks in class and they loved it. At half time today, in the pouring rain, they gathered in the middle of the field and danced around yelling "quack, quack, quack, quack!" It was priceless. In the second half of the game there was a fight. It was quick and not that impressive or even that physical really, but it was the most exciting thing I've seen in awhile. Spectators poured onto the field to join in! I was torn between my "teacher" duty to break it up [or at least keep the spectators out of it] and blood lust [I miss hockey]. It ended before I even made up my mind what to do. The game was a blowout 4-0. Both teams were impressed that I showed up to watch and stayed for the whole thing. They thought it was crazy that I was willing to stand in the rain. I think it was a great way to spend the afternoon.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Sending all my thoughts and prayers to Gram MacKenzie and the whole MacKenzie clan. I wish that I could be there in Florida with all of you. I love you Gram!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Guesswork, Practice Makes Perfect, Trying Not to Laugh, and Self-Satisfaction

Subtitle: English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Teacher Reading Glasses and Hearing Aids
I love my job. I didn't think that I would, but I find that I honestly enjoy teaching kids English. Sometimes it is painful and sometimes I feel ridiculous [especially when pantomiming everything from 'swimming' to 'goat'], but more often than not at the end of the day it's the teaching that keeps me happy here.
Quick: Think of the hardest parts of EFL teaching. What did you think of?
Most of us probably thought of trying to get the students to understand what we're saying. I'm sure lots of ETAs also thought of getting students to participate and to pay attention/be quiet. Both of these things are obviously true, but there is another lesser-known common challenge.
Quick: Think of the skills or characteristics needed to be a good EFL teacher. What did you think of?
Common answers are patience, enthusiasm, creativity, understanding, self-assurance, confidence, etc. There is another very important skill that I have learned to cultivate during my time here: putting on my EFL teacher reading glasses and hearing aids.
I was reading When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris yesterday when I came to a passage in his essay "The Smoking Section" and nearly fell off the bed in laughter. The scene takes place when he is visiting Tokyo and meets a young college student who wants to practice speaking English with him.
"What wild animals do you have in Tokyo?" I asked.
"Wild animal?"
"Do you have squirrels?"
No response.
I pretended to fill my cheeks with nuts, and the young man said, "Ah, 'sukaworra'!"
I then moved on to snakes and asked if he was afraid of them.
"No. I think they are very cute."
Surely, I thought, he's misunderstood me. "Snake," I repeated, and I turned my arm into a striking cobra. "Horrible. Dangerous. Snake."
"No," he said. "The only thing I am afraid of is moutha."
"The snake's mouth?"
"No," he said, "moutha. I maybe saying it wrong, but moutha. Moutha."
I was on the verge of faking it when he pulled out an electronic dictionary and typed in the word he was looking for, "ga", which translates, strangely enough, to "moth."
"You're afraid of moths?"
He nodded yes and winced a little.
"But nobody's afraid of moths."
"I am," he whispered, and he looked behind us, as if afraid one might be listening..
"Are you afraid of butterflies too?" I asked.
The young man cocked his head.
"Butterfly," I said, "colorful cousin of the moth. Are you afraid that he too will attack?"
David Sedaris, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, "The Smoking Section", 278-279
Sedaris describes my life as an EFL teacher so much more eloquently and humorously than I can. He describes the twin tasks of interpreting what someone who is learning English says and making predictions about the meaning of what they are saying based on cultural norms. Believe me, it is a skill and it takes practice. It's a skill that I use several times in every class. I call it my "EFL teacher reading glasses and hearing aids." It is tricky because any time your students find the courage to speak in English you want to congratulate and reward them, but when you have no idea what they said it's difficult to find out what they said without embarrassing them and thus discouraging further acts of courage.
One of my classroom goals is to have every student talk during each class period. With that in mind one of my daily warm-up exercises is Name and A..., an activity where each student stands up and says their name and then a word or phrase that fits into the category of the day. Categories we've used have been: animal, sport, fruit or vegetable, thing you would find at school, words starting with the letter 'S', verb, etc. There's a lot of wiggle room here and you can't predict the word they're going to say. A student stands up and says, "Wahyu, choh." Now my work begins. What does choh mean? You have to be able to think quickly. If you pause too long they start to get embarrassed. First things first, "can you repeat that please?" "Wahyu, choh." Hmmm. You need to be on your toes, if the speaker doesn't have your full attention it's a lost cause. The whole situation isn't helped by the fact that most Indonesians speak at a volume some distance below a whisper. Not only do I not understand, but I can't hear either. It becomes a a timed brainteaser. I think, okay, 'choh'... the letter 'c' in Bahasa Indonesia makes the sound 'ch' so, how about...'koh.' hmmm. What's our topic today? Animals. Ah-ha! Cow! Then you have to repeat what they said in the correct pronunciation so that they learn it, while at the same time making sure they knew they did a great job. "Yes, cow. Excellent!" Every time I guess correctly, I can't help but be ridiculously proud of myself. It's like a little test that I've passed. It's difficult not to laugh. It's not that I want to laugh at the students, rather I want to laugh in delight that I solved the mystery. But laughing makes them feel bad and for that reason I often have little teeth marks in my bottom lip at the end of a class.
You want to try one? This was one of my favorites. Same topic: animals. A boy stands up and says, "Rizki, chalk." What did he mean? Good luck!
The same thing happens when they write. Sometimes it is all about strange word orders. Store the I to go. What? Ah! I go to the store. Sometimes it has to do with strange spellings. We were doing a rhyming lesson and students were writing new verses to Raffi's Down By the Bay. I was checking how people were doing and came to a boy who had the word syem written on his paper. At first I was completely stumped. Syem? And then the guesswork began: 'Syem.' Hmmm. No idea. Um, 'siem'? No... Ah! 'Sy' in Bahasa Indonesia makes a 'sh' sound. 'Shem.' That is still not a word. 'Shem?' Ok. 'E' in Bahasa Indonesia is long 'a'. 'Sham'...Shame! Shame! Got it! Then the explanation begins. "In Bahasa Indonesia 'sy' sounds like 'shhh' but in English you write 'shhh' as 'sh'. So this word is spelled 'shame'. Great job!"
Sometimes you think you understand what they said, but you are really very wrong. I was teaching verbs yesterday and we were playing charades. The word was "take." After the students guessed it a kid in the back said, "Take me outta Indonesia!" At least, that's what I thought he said. I laughed and repeated it and said, "Sometimes I think that too." I didn't know why the students were laughing. Turns out, he said "Take means apa in Indonesia?" or "What does 'take' mean in Indonesian?" Not the same thing at all.
Same lesson, different class. We're talking about 'catch' and I ask what you can catch besides a ball. We come up with cat, dog, butterfly, etc. Then I ask a boy who doesn't look like he's paying attention. He says, "raccoon." I am floored! Do they even have raccoons in Indonesia? Where did he learn that word? "Wow! Raccoon! Excellent!" Everyone laughs. Turns out 'raccoon' sounds remarkably like a word in Bahasa Java that means approximately "I was not paying attention because I was sleeping." Nice.
Sometimes what they say sounds like something bad or at least something we would not say in the classroom. Back to that lesson on verbs. I decide to try out Simon Says in the last 5 minutes of class. So I write 'Simon Says' on the board. "Do you know how to play this game?", I ask. "Oh yes, semen!" yells one of the students. I'm still not mature enough to not blush when someone yells 'semen'. What on earth was he yelling about bodily fluids for? Oh yeah, just like 'e' is 'a' in Bahasa Indonesia, 'i' is 'e'. So, he thought he was saying 'Simon'. Oh pronunciation how you trap us all. And that is how I came to say, with a very purple face, the following to 36 boys, "um, actually, it is 'Simon'. Simon is a boy's name. You pronounce it 'Simon' because remember in English 'i' sounds like 'i' not 'e'. 'Semen' is not a boy's name. It is another word. It is not a good word to say in school. Okay? 'Simon!' Please do not say 'semen'."
Then we come to the cultural differences that Sedaris' story also illustrates. There is a game that we play fairly often called Sorts and Categories. It is simple and the kids love it. One of the topics that always arises is favorite animals. We're playing one day and a kid says his favorite animal is "dragon." "Dragon? Dragons are mythical creatures. They are not real. Your favorite animal isn't a dragon." "No," he says. "Dragon, why?" and he starts to flap his arms. "Do you mean a bird? Or a lizard?" "No. Dragon why? Like an ant." What? Okay, turns out he was saying 'dragonfly' as in, his favorite animal is a dragonfly. Which did not occur to me because most Americans would consider a dragonfly an insect and not an animal, but whatever floats his boat. Same game, different class, almost the same situation. Three boys tell me that their favorite animal is in fact a butterfly. What 18 year old American male would admit to anyone that their favorite animal was a butterfly? I'm going to go with none. "Why do you like butterflies?" "Because they are so cute!" Admittedly, all of my students use the word cute and pronounce it 'kuuuuuuuute!' because I said it like that one day in class, but seriously? Not at all what I expected. Similarly, my students informed me at Halloween that they are terrified of 'ghost birds.' Well, if I believed that dead birds became ghosts I guess I would be scared too. Turns out 'ghost birds' are owls ['burung hantu' in Bahasa Indonesia which directly translates to 'ghost bird'], but the students are afraid of them because they are like ghosts. My response was, "but what about Harry Potter? What about Hedwig?" "Still scared," they said.
Sometimes you just have no idea what they are talking about. Then, like Sedaris, I just want to fake it. "Oh, right. Good job!" But the kids sometimes know when you fake it and if you fake it then they don't learn the correct way to say things. This is where my knight in shining armour usually arrives. In almost every class there is that one kid who can serve as translator. For some reason or another he knows what his classmate is trying to say and he also knows how to say it so that I will understand. They are the students who help me keep the class afloat. They're the kids I turn to when I need help and about 75% of the time they pull through for me. They often become my favorites and I owe them a lot.
The answer:
Chalk was "cock" by which he meant a rooster.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Lolly, the ETA in Yogyakarta, recently moved into a new living situation. Last weekend was the first time that I had visited her at her new residence. Before, she was living in a dark, musty, little room in her school. Now she lives in a beautiful cluster of small apartments and rooms around communal kitchens and living spaces that are shared by the Indonesian and foreign residents of the compound. It is truly gorgeous and Lolly is much happier living there. My favorite part of her new home is the ... OVEN! There is a real oven there. So, the first thing on my agenda for the weekend was, of course, baking!
And bake we did! I wanted to make cupcakes. Inside-out cupcakes to be exact. A trip to the local grocery store proved that we were going to have to adjust the recipe and make due with what we could find. Instead of cupcake or muffin tins we found mini pie tins. Some of the ingredients were non-existent, but we found suitable substitutes. I was a little nervous that changing the recipe so much and using such a strange oven might have some ill effects...
We were so proud of our creations! I always love baking, but it is also a stress reliever for me. It felt great to be back at it again.

A "C" of cupcakes for Colgate and the Colgate Men's Ice Hockey team who love my baking [Inside-out cupcakes are #12's favorite] and who secured a by for the first round of playoffs! Congrats boys! Go 'Gate!!!
Lolly approved and the "cupcakes" were a success! Here she is wincing that I've caught her on film turning her cup inside out to get the last lingering bits of chocolate. What more could a baker want?