Don’t bug me. I’m baking.

When I’m grouchy — as I am this week, ever so miserably grouchy — it is best to just stay out of my way. I know what sets me off (stress at work, family fighting, cranky adults acting like children) and I know how to get myself out of the funk. Exercise. Go on a date with both Ben and Jerry and don’t feel one lick of remorse. Exercise a bit more. Treat yourself to a cafe Americano. Read. Make time for sleep. Cook. Craft. Run.

To counter recent time spent with Senor Cherry Garcia, I thought a few vegetables were in order.


Happy & Healthy Carrot Muffins
1 boxed carrot cake
3 eggs (use only the whites, if you’d like)
1/3 cup of oil
1/3 cup of reduced sugar apple sauce
1 cup of water
2 grated carrots
1 grated zucchini
1 cup raisins or sultanas
1 pinch of cinnamon
1 pinch of nutmeg

baking bliss august
carrot, zucchini muffins in progress

Mix, plop in a cupcake pan and bake for 20-22 minutes at 350. Viola, a fantastically earthy and yummy cupcake to share with friends and family. As they say, eat, drink and be merry.

Cupcake goodness


A Kick in the Shins and Big Sloppy Kiss

Do you know anyone who can insult you and compliment you at the same time? Like, “Wow! Your hair looks so great, for being so short and choppy.” Or “Have you lost weight? Or do those pants just not fit you?” Nice.
That’s the kind of week I’ve been having. On Sunday, I found out a friend has cancer. He’s 64 and has been my running partner for 3 years. Five weeks ago, we were covering 15-20 miles a week together on the dusty canals of Tempe, sprinting, chatting, arguing about politics. Today, he’s hooked up to machines and has a cantaloupe sized tumor on his hip. (Side note, why do they always compare tumor sizes to fruit?) Words like “chemo” and “radiation” and “mother of all things holy, this sucks” have been rolling off my tongue with ease lately.
So, while I side tracked you with my “ha ha! Look at what a generous friend I have” obnoxious post, in truth, I’ve been having a bit of a hard time. After a good hard cry Sunday, I went to my trusty mail box, where the Goddess of Parcels and Kindness wrapped me in her arms and gave me a big sloppy kiss.

My new favorite bag, from Beki

The first package to take me by complete surprise was a beautiful new tote bag from Beki. I’d seen this on her site last week and even commented on how fabulous I thought it was, never guessing it was headed my way. It’s now happily stuffed with my iPod, knitting, book, etc, and has already gone on its first road trip. I love it Beki. And my favorite colors no less.

Super thoughtful gift from Jessica of Funky Finds

The second package was another surprise gift from Jessica of FunkyFinds. I’ve found such a special friendship with this Texan that I’m not even going to hold her statehood against her. She is sweet, friendly and generous. Love the fabric and the cards! Those little stamps are African animals. It was incredibly thoughtful and made me smile.

Awesome some from Rebecca

And finally, good grief, the mother load of surprises: a package of supplies for my upcoming trip to Bolivia from Bekka. Bekka included two fabulous books, stationery, a little passport of soap that will be perfect for my adventure, more Polaroid film and a kind note.

Just when I thought the universe was going to permanently take up a spot kicking my shins, you lovely ladies took care of me. I needed a big dose of happiness and your gifts couldn’t have arrived at a better time. It’s hard to feel sorry for yourself and cry when you’re dancing with glee in your living room with a super cute new tote full of goodies. So, thank you.

Rex, my running partner, is going to be okay. He’s got a long treatment and recovery in front of him. Soon enough, though, I know we are going to be right back out there running and arguing and debating why Fox News might as well just change its name to the Dubya B.


Sweet on Seattle

space needle, view from their office

Taken from their apartment, those crazy city-dwelling kids.

Summer in Seattle is as close to heaven as I think you can get. Add a fantastic downtown apartment with incredible views and easy access to everything fun to do within a 10 minute walk, and I’m hooked.
Emily, one of my closest friends from college, surprised me with a ticket and trip. I spent the weekend with the Asantes. Emily and John will be married in January in Puerto Vallarta y yo soy la maid of honor. Woo hoo!

Em and John space needle best

Aren’t they cute? And better yet, really nice.

Back to Seattle — the trip was incredible. Em picked me up at the airport and surprised me with a “camping trip.” By camping, she meant we had spa appointments at a resort in the forest the next day. It was such a fantastic get away. She spoiled me rotten.

on our way to the spa

On our way to the massage. Hot rock massage is now my favorite.

The amazing waterfall

Giant Snoqualmie Falls — a state park right behind our hotel. Camping at its best.

Photos here. More to be posted later in the week!


WIP — Friday


I’ve been sewing up a storm lately. (It seems to be working. We’re in the middle of our monsoon season in Phoenix and the weather is cooling off. Yay! AND!! If you haven’t heard the news, they think they caught the serial shooters this morning. Very good news for Phoenicians.)

Back to the works in progress:


Swing bags, for friends, my staff in Bolivia and maybe even a new fall bag for moi. All minus that giant bow.

WIP, 2

And In Town bags.

I love these Amy Butler patterns. They are actually worth the $12, especially when you make as many of these as I have. I cut out 8 bags yesterday while home babysitting for a friend’s five-year-old. She watched DVDs while I pulled an Edward Scissorhands at the dining room table. We were both perfectly content.

I’m off to Seattle for the weekend to play! Happy Friday to all,

Cover Your Mouth

I just finished reading The Great Influenza. By “finished,” I mean quit on page 250. It is dry, dry, dry and it is a hard topic to read 400 pages about. There is only so much death and pestilence a girl can take. Plus, I’m not the biggest fan of nonfiction. I have to push myself through most of these books and am thrilled to be satisfactorily done with this one and on to something new.

Did you know the flu of 1918, commonly referred to as the Spanish Flu, killed 50 million people in 18 months? As the author notes, that is more than HIV/AIDS has killed in 20-plus years. And not just the young and the weak, as the flu is prone to knock off. This is where it gets scary. The bulk of those who died were in their 20s and 30s and otherwise very healthy. Some died within a day. Dropped dead, black from cyanosis and had holes in their lungs. These deaths are considered “double deaths” in epidemiology because they happen during reproductive years.

This book scared the shit out of me. I have friends (okay, one friend in particular) who’s been a bit freaked about global flu and I keep trying to calm her woes. Not now. Freak all you want. It is intensely frightening to think what will happen the next time the flu virus mutates and becomes this infectious. Millions will die within weeks. (Think about how slow transportation was in 1918 in comparison to global travel today.) My best suggestion is to stay home. If any sort of major infectious airborne disease strikes your hometown, stay home. Eat what you have, limit your contact with outsiders, telecommute. Do what you have to do to keep pathogens outside of your home and stay put.

A passage that fueled this new paranoia:
“Families closed off rooms where a body lay, but a closed door could not close out the knowledge and the horror of what lay behind the door. In much of the city, (Philadelphia) a city more short of housing than New York, people had no room that could be closed off. Corpses were wrapped in sheets, pushed into corners, left there sometimes for days, the horror of it sinking in deeper each hour, people too sick to cook for themselves, to sick to clean themselves, to sick to move the corpse off the bed, lying alive on the same bed with the corpse. The dead lay there for days, while the living lived with them, were horrified by them, and, perhaps most horribly, became accustomed to them.”

Ewww. Good Lord this was an awful time to be alive. On the bright side, it gives my line of work some major props:

“Public health was and is where the largest number of lives are saved, usually by understanding the epidemiology of a disease — its patterns, where and how it emerges and spreads — and attacking it at its weak points. This usually means prevention. Science had first contained smallpox, then cholera, then typhoid, then plague, then yellow fever all through large-scale public health measures, everything from filtering water to testing and killing rats to vaccination. Public health measures lack the drama of pulling someone back from the edge of death, but they save lives by the millions.”

My review? 3 out of 5 informative bananas. 5 out of 5 scare me bananas. 1 out of 5 entertain me bananas.


Bolivian Bolsitas

Bolivian mama and her baby

A bolsita is Spanish for small bag. I went through my zipper stash and my fabric to create 18 small bolsitas for my upcoming trip to Bolivia this month. I plan to fill each bag with a few goodies and hand them out to women who participate in our health projects.

Bolivian Bolsas

I went through my fabric and intentionally used pieces given to me by friends. I like the idea of women helping other women through art.

Thank you True Epicure

This fabric came from Eva, of True Epicure. Thank you!

Thank you Funky Finds

The lining fabric — colorful shoes — came from Jessica of Funky Finds. Gracias, amiga!

Thank you FinnyKnits

And Miss Finny, one of my favorite people, left this batik behind when crafting at my house. I love it paired with the bright African yellow lining!

Here’s is where you can help: I need suggestions on what to include in the bags. I need to keep each bag’s goodies at $5 or less. I’m thinking socks, chapstick, postcard of Arizona, bandana, energy bar and Hersey’s kiss.

What do you think these ladies would like? I’d love to hear your thoughts!