Fruity Fabrics

I found my crafting mojo, tucked between a couple gallons of mint chocolate chip ice cream in the freezer. After a tug or two of sweet Dreyer’s bliss, and a nice glass of shiraz — my new favorite summer beverage — I returned to my studio. My June birthday list isn’t nearly as long as July’s, but nonetheless, it needed some crafty attention.

Covington Bags, #2-3:

Covington 3
Covington 3, with lining
Covington 2
Covington 2, lining

I used ribbon on these instead of the suggested fabric for the ties. I do like the ribbon, but need a thicker grossgrain for the next batch.

For June’s Project Spectrum, I kept to the fruity fabric theme and whipped up my next batch of wristlets:

Fruity wristlets

I just love this fabric. I purchased it last summer in Guadalajara and wish I had taken the entire bolt home with me.

Fruity fabric

Tres blue, non? Check out other blue Project Spectrum entries here.

What are you working on this summer?


Where Does One Get A Crest?


My weekend away was fantastic. I spent it making close friends with a four-year-old named Caitlin who very well may be the most beautiful little girl on earth. She is stunning, sweet and full of life. When she couldn’t remember my name, she’d come screaming through the forest, calling after me, “Friend! Friend! Grandpa, what is her name again? FRIEND!!” Finally, I’d stop, nearly dying of laughter and wondering how far I could push her until we could repeat the scene.

My crafting has been sparse lately. It is terribly hot outside, as to be expected of Arizona in June. So hot that the thought of baking, holding knitting in my lap, or working in my long-since-dead garden seems trite. Why bother? There are popsicles to be enjoyed, books to be read and swimming pools in which to float. There is something about 100-plus degree weather that evaporates nearly every ounce of my motivation and leaves me a hungry, lollygagging heap. Some people lose weight during the summer. Who are these people? They surely need another margarita.

new labels

Even my pretty new labels haven’t provided much inspiration.

In the interim, I’ve been spending time huddled in my dark studio, under the comforts of both an overhead fan and the ice cold air conditioning, reading blogs. I suppose I’m not only reading them, but wishing I could transport myself to them. For example, Ms. Weirdbunny with her Welsh farm makes me hurt to be outside in cool weather. Wisecraft and her Pacific northwest gardening isn’t doing my envy any favors either. I found my very first based-in-Africa craft blog last week and if I could send myself over to LuckyBeans for an extended vacay, oh, how I would. Hello Zambia! I hope to see you one day.
More than anything, I find myself wanting more domesticity. Many of you are collecting summer berries for preserves. Others are tending glorious gardens — ahem, Ms. Finny — and still others are finding the summer months their happiest times to pair quilt fabrics and yarns. I’m trying to pair bikini pieces with Nicaraguan tan lines.

Chicks and hens, cobweb

Speaking of gardening, I’m thinking of an indoor succulents collection. Any suggestions?


Any idiot can keep succulents alive, right? Or so I thought before my aloe vera died. Aloe vera. In the desert. My black thumbs’ prowess surprises even me.

succulent 3

Obviously not from my garden.

The cherry that takes it all — of course — is Ms. Martha with her impeccable summer jams. (Seriously, have you seen the July issue? Go buy it already.) Is it wrong to dream of delivering to neighbors tiny, perfectly jarred homemade jams with my home’s own crest emblazed on top? Lordie. I think I’ve just booked myself a one-way flight to Stepford and there’s no stopping my arrival.
Y’all keep posting. When I come in to reapply sunblock and fill up my Cha-Cha glass, I’ll catch up.


Taking the Good with the Bad

I’m feeling a bit topsy turvy today.

The July issue of Martha Stewart Living is out and it is fabulous. I know you hear me say this often, but this issue is particularly wonderful, with her “best of” entertaining tricks included. I have so many good ideas for parties I want to throw!

I am on the potential blackball list for future crafting swaps because OH MY GOD my Backtack III package still hasn’t arrived to Kerrie and sweet Jesus, I sent the sucker more than a month ago. I am seriously bummed. Worst case scenario — I start over quickly and overnight the sucker to the other side of the pond. I’m hoping this expensive option won’t be needed. Mr. Postman, please deliver already.

Lots of dates with nice boys lately.

Lots of eating out and a growing midsection.

Kacey’s been in town and I’ve been spending gobs of time with my girlfriends and loving every second of it.

She is going home and we are going to miss her.

I finished Dark Star Safari and it is one of the best books I’ve read in a long, long time. If you want a great travel book about Africa, pick this baby up. You won’t be disappointed. I’m giving it five out of five stars, absoloodle. Truly, I earmarked no fewer than 20 pages where I felt like he was speaking directly to me, to my experiences in Africa, to my understanding of travel and the continent. I simply loved this book. Bravo Mr. Theroux!

Father’s Day is this weekend and my papi lives in Texas. This makes me sad on a gut-aching level. We had a family tradition of swimming together in a local meet each Father’s Day. It was loads of fun because the officials are the same happy crew who were around when I was a kid swimming. They fondly remember our family and we always got taunts and laughter when our father/daughter duo took to the blocks. (Especially the year I entered my father as “The Torpedo.” Imagine them calling out this name when he got up to race. Still it gives me giggles!) So, I’m missing my folks. A lot.

I’m going out of town this weekend to escape the heat, staying with some friends in a cabin. I’ve been encouraged to bring nothing more than my hiking boots, sewing machine and knitting needles. They are going to take care of me. I have such thoughtful friends and am a lucky soul.

Glass half full (can it be a wine glass, with shiraz, c’est vous plait?),

Guilt-Free Icing on My Cake

So, I finished finished my novel. I’ve written my query letter and it’s going out tomorrow. Now, time for a treat.
I’ve long promised myself “the handbag of my choice” upon completion of the novel. This served as serious motivation in a writing drought, or two. (I’m a rare breed — one who works with the poor and still finds time to worship Louis Vuitton. Confused? Um, yeah. I’m obviously still working out that balance of Africankelli and Americankelli.) Me likey purses. And I’d like to purchase a great, classic bag that I’ll have for ages — something that will remind me that it doesn’t matter if Oprah thinks this is a good story. It is one I wanted to tell.
A few friends I’m considering inviting to the party:
Kate Spade
Michael Kors, in either color,
and the king himself — Louie Louie.
Aw, who am I kidding? I talk a big, fashionable, Devil Wears Prada talk, but when it comes right down to it, I’m not spending $800 on a purse until I get my invite to Oprah’s book club. And then I’ll have to buy one of those houses in Nicaragua too, to feel a touch more balanced. Because really, philanthropists who wear Jimmy Choo’s aren’t horrible people. They are just well dressed, generous people. Right?


P.S. If you are looking for a Phoenix gal who actually has written and sold a book, Martha’s got an ISBN number. I can only imagine the awesome Italian food and fountain of booze at her signing party.


Loot from Funky Finds

Jessica of Funky Finds surprised me with a care package this week. I am loving the pretty fabrics and the little photo album made with paper bags. Very sweet!

awesome paper bag memory book

I am so going to steal this idea and make little photo memory books. Love this!

Black Apple Art

This may be my favorite new artist — Black Apple Art. This painting is called, “A Good Egg is Hard to Find.” Jess included this postcard print.
I’ve received many nice things in the mail lately, including a fantastic care package from Aimee. I was pressed for time when leaving for Nic and foolishly didn’t take photos, but she wanted me to take a slew of toothbrushes and toothpaste with me to hand out. The children were very appreciative and I was touched by her kindness. She also sent me one of her fab T-shirts, which are now on sale in her shop. Scoop them up!

Thanks ladies! Coming home after a long day of work and an annoyingly hot commute to a stack of personal mail makes me smile and feel like a spoiled, lucky girl.

12 of 12, June

Yesterday I participated in the “12 of 12” photography challenge — trying to document my daily routine in 12 shots. It wasn’t as easy or as interesting as I thought it would be. It is a bit tricky to look at your daily habits with an artistic eye. That and the fact I didn’t want to take my camera out last night when meeting friends for dinner. So my 12 are from 4:30 am to 4:30 pm.

** Now with captions. I didn’t read the rules of play. My bad. **

first morning glance

The first thing I see each morning. I sleep curled up on one side, facing my alarm clock like a tightly wound Type A robot.

too early

The second thing I see each morning, after I’ve slammed down on the snooze button, after rearranging my entire day to accommodate just nine more minutes of sweet sleeping pleasure.

gym bag

Nine minutes never went by so fast. Make bed. Brush teeth. Put on workout clothing. Drive to gym with at least one eye open.

morning car

Swear at the “Maintenance Required” light that has been on for the last 1,000 miles. Wonder if you are going to break down at any second. Make yourself a promise to get car serviced this week.

Morning palm

Notice pretty palm tree on way to gym. Damn sun is already coming up. It is going to be a hot run outside.


The carrot at the end of my five miles. A sundried tomato bagel with egg. No cheese. English breakfast tea, straight — preferably tapped directly into my jugular.

Pile o work

Good morning pile of work. Now go away. Read the morning news, wait for caffeine to hit system, go through pile like a crystal meth fiend until caffeine wave crashes, sending you to the dreaded Diet Coke fridge for your second hit of the morning.

work board

Smile at family and friends wishing you a good day.

8 glasses a day

Drink water. They say it helps with the post-Monday-night-shots bloat. Oy, what was I thinking?

Phoenix skyline

Look at the skyline and wonder if it is ever going to be cool again, or if we officially live in hell? The pavement on the freeway will melt your tires if you sit too long. Come on four cyliders. Chug out that air conditioning or I’m trading in this jalopy.

Flying past the papagos

Pretty Papagos. Love you. You are some of my favorite mountains. Make mental note to go to the zoo and botanical gardens by the Papagos.

Favorite necklace

You might be my lucky star… continue singing Madonna songs until all of your friends completely stop talking to you.


Good Thing They Take Nine Months To Hatch

Knitting for wee ones takes a long time. If you are so inclined, I highly recommend splurging on your favorite yarn, in a color you truly love. You’ll be feeling this run through your fingers and staring at the hue for a bit — you might as well make it enjoyable.
Yellow is one of my faves. I also love the ribbon I used for the tie — a gift from Lyn. This little beauty is headed off to a new babe scheduled for delivery next month.

Ribbon tie, thanks to Lyn
Finished baby sweater

So my edges aren’t perfect, but at least I got rid of that third arm. (Thank you Sarah!)
I have some pretty cotton ribbon I am considering using to make another one of these. I’m going to up the needle size too and play with the gage. Knitting is a lot like baking — once you get the basics, you can fiddle with the ingredients until they meet your tastes.


Lucky Star Indeed

Madonna sucked every bit of energy out of me and I cannot think today. I just want to run around in a super tight leotard with a whip and set of roller skates and sing at the top of my lungs. She was a shock to watch — walking a fine balance between sexual and perverse. I’d gladly take her as my substitute for love.

Until I recover and am able to string together my thoughts, more shots from the trip to Nica:

The water project, en sum:
1. Haul pvc pipes up a hill, 1.5 kilometers from the well at the base to the sistern at the top. Lay the pipes in a trench, already dug by community volunteers.

jack and jill went up the hill

2. Work with these same volunteers to carefully hook the pipes together and fill in the trenches.

It takes a village, water project

3. Ask the community members what they will do with their extra time each day now that they’ll have water just feet from their homes? Notice the lake in the background. Villagers were spending two hours a day walking to the lake to get water. Now, they just turn on the faucet.

man at the water post

Housing project, en sum:
1. Find female-led households with children under the age of five who are living on subsistence farming. Ask these families if they are interested in an improved house. (We have 6000 such families now waiting on the list.) Get the families to agree to pay for 40% of the housing material costs — about $400 during a 4-year loan. Get the families to agree to participate in the building of their new home and the other new homes in their community. Transform and old home, made out of eucalyptus slats and plastic sheeting into a cement block wonder:

house, before, housing project
Esperanca House, after, water project

All for the grand total of $900, including what the family pays for with their microfinance loan. We are building a dozen of these homes this year and hope to have more funding for even more next year. An extra benefit is the fact the house is in the name of the woman. We’d been having a problem with the men trying to sell these babies off as soon as they were complete. No more!


Fire tree blooms, Cemetary, Jinotega

My very favorite tree in bloom. I’m not sure what these are called, but I call them Fire Trees. Their orange blooms are amazing. These grow in Cameroon too.

colorful crosses, Cemetary, Jinotega

Morbidly enchanting color.

Communists love coffee, mural, jinotega

A community mural from the communist Sandinista days.

Can't see the tops of the trees, Datanli Diablo Reserve

A thousand shades of green in the rainforest.

Aging construction, Granada

Decaying construction.

Aztec mural,  Jinotega

An awesome Aztec/Mayan mural on a hospital wall. I love how the baby is still connected by an umbilical cord.


Don’t Cry for Me Phoenicians

I left work this morning after two hours of slogging through email, convinced I had malaria. I returned from Nic with more than 100 bites on my lower extremities and some doubt whether they are actually mosquito bites or something more exotic and frightening. (I also got my first tick bite on this adventure. Did I mention that? Mother sucker. I couldn’t figure out what that pebble-sized purple thing on my hip was that wouldn’t flick off, until I pulled it off and it moved. AH!)
Regardless, I’m now feeling better after a good six hour mid-day nap. I’m either exceptionally fatigued from travel, suffering from a mild case of back-to-work-itis, or having a bad reaction to the Benadryl I’ve been worshipping in a lame attempt to keep myself from scratching with sweet abandon. (Remember that episode of Friends when Phoebe and Charlie Sheen both have chicken pox and spend the night scratching each other with oven mits taped to their hands? Um, yeah.)
So how does one recooperate, other than taking obnoxiously long naps and rubbing it into your friends from home? You go to the Madonna concert, that’s how.
WOOT! Can’t chat. On my way to catch up with my new best friend forever Esther/Madge/Golden Goddess of Pop Music — Madonna! I love being young and having men who want to impress me with fancy dates. Ooh, he just got here. Got to run!

A Taste of Nicaraguan Life

I took more than 500 photos on this trip to Nicaragua. A few of my favorites:

Sagrado Corazon Church, Granada

Sagrado Corazon Cathedral, Granada, Nicaragua

pretty curls,  Jinotega

A beautiful girl named Danya.

Nicaraguan kitchen

A typical Nicaraguan kitchen.

Granada life

A vendor in Granada.

Gasiosas, Granada

Sweet treats.

Corn hung for drying, Datanli Diablo Reserve

Drying corn.

Grinding corn, Datanli Diablo Reserve

Grinding corn for tortillas.

Typical Nicaraguan House, with girl grinding fresh coffee beans, Datanli Diablo Reserve

A typical Nica house, with one of the daughters grinding coffee.

Grinding fresh coffee beans, Datanli Diablo Reserve

Roasted beans being ground.

Playing on the ground2, Datanli Diablo Reserve

Her younger sisters, playing in front of the house.

Gravetop flowers, Cemetary, Jinotega

Fresh flowers on a grave in Jinotega’s cemetery.

view from Water project

The view of Lake Apanas from our water project work site.

mural,  Jinotega

A mural at the women’s health center in Jinotega.

new baby girl, Jinotega Hospital

A healthy baby girl, just born at the Jinotega Hospital.

Hotel doorway, Granada

Doorway, Granada, Nicaragua.

leaves, datanli diablo reserve

Leaves under the dark rainforest canopy in the Datanli Diablo Reserve.

Children of the water post

Children of the water project community. They’ll hopefully go to school now, rather than be responsible for hauling water from the river — thanks to a new water well system we helped install.

Cathedral2, Granada

Another beautiful cathedral in Granada.

Cappucino, Granada

Cappucino in the humid heat.

Candy vendor3,  Jinotega

A sweet smile from a candy vendor.

Kelli and Roberto,  Jinotega

Roberto, one of the many beautiful children I fell in love with on this trip.

Thank you for all of your well wishes on this journey. It was good for my soul to get away for a bit and be reminded of why I love my job.