Jessica's pumpkin

My neighbors carved pumpkins this weekend and asked me to take photos for them. Isn’t this amazing? I’m a huge weenie when it comes to carving anything. I don’t really like using my rotary cutter when I sew. Apparently I’ve got a sincere fear of slicing off a digit. Exacto knife + pumpkin + Kelli = disasterous finger amputation.
So, instead I admire other’s work.

John's pumpkin

I’m trying to view Halloween as an earthy/spiritual celebration day, rather than a plastic costume, junk candy kind-of-day. Today I’m particularly thankful for cooling weather in Phoenix. I’ve been driving to work with my sunroof open and letting the cool morning air blow dry my hair for me. I’m enjoying the pumpkin peanut butter cookies I brought into work. I’m loving the one tree in my courtyard that is dropping bright yellow leaves all over the walkway. Fall in Phoenix is fabulous. Spooktacular, one might say.


Scrappy. (Now if I only had Scooby!)

Ryan’s birthday is this week and it presented me with the perfect opportunity to be creative and dig through the scrap bag. His nickname is Rhino and the boy loves to BBQ.

my rhino template

I printed a rhino out of clipart and used it as a stencil.

Rhino bbq mit

I created a large hand out of cardstock and used that for the mit pattern. With a bit of thermal lining and some heavy black trim, voila — a bbq mit.

CU of Rhino

Cute little rhino.

Also, I sewed up some scrappy aprons this weekend for a cooking group I participate in. These help explain why I regularly use my JoAnn’s coupons for 5 yards of canvas.

Thankful aprons

Do you get the same sheer joy I do from creating something from scratch with the supplies you have on hand? Whether it is a new outfit, a sewing project or a meal — I love going through what I already own and making it work.


Old McDonald Had a Hamburger…

I’m currently trying to read three books at once — something I do not recommend. On the nightstand is Food Politics. I heard Marion Nestle speak in May and purchased her book on nutrition at the conference. It is good, but dry. We eat too much, especially processed foods. And the big food companies spend billions marketing the latest junk food. She makes some great points about not falling for buzz words like, “No trans fats!” and “Whole Wheat!” The food with these labels can still be total crap.

I picked up The Omnivore’s Dilemma at the suggestion of Jessica, who blogs about following a raw diet. This book I simply cannot recommend highly enough. It has taken this blogger, one who is well known for her love of all things fileted and barbequed, to looking and meat with disgust — not just for what they are doing to the animals but for what the current farming system is doing to the earth in her entirety. I’m not calling myself a vegetarian yet, but I’m on the highway to organic vegetableville and this book just stamped my passport.

I consider myself nutrition savvy. It’s something I’m interested in and is part of my job. And yet, Omnivore’s Dilemma taught me more than a thing or two. For example, did you know before WWII eating meat in the United States was a once-a-week luxury, not a three-times-a-day routine? After the war, the US government had an overstock of chemicals, which were given to farmers. The result was a mass crop of corn and the possibility of an agricultural market that could crash from too much product. The government, in turn, purchased the surplus corn and looked for very creative ways to get rid of it — including giving it to ranchers to feed to cows. Viola, we now have a system where animals that should naturally be grazing are living in pens being fed corn. When you change nature in such a way, you get all kinds of strange effects like the recent Ecoli outbreak in California that contaminated our national spinach supply. The Ecoli was tracked back to runoff from nearby cattle plants (you wouldn’t believe how much waste is produced in meat production thanks to the corn diet change). Another interesting note — you wouldn’t believe the amount of oil required to feed cattle corn. From the oil used to make the chemicals farmers have grown dependent on, to the transportation of corn to the farms to the transportation of the meat to market, there are barrels of oil spent on every stocked deli counter.

And if you are saying to yourself at this moment, “Ah! No worries. I eat chicken!” well, brace yourself. If you are paying for organic or free-range chicken, know that this USDA title means that the animals must have the ability to be outside and not living in pens like the good old standard Tyson chicken. All chicken producers feed chickens grain (corn!) until they can no longer stand on their legs. Then they are slaughtered. This typically takes about 7 weeks. Organic chickens are kept in pens with a tiny door at one end. After week 5, the door is opened. However, their bird brains are accustomed to being inside and so, even though the farmer keeps a teeny tiny lawn perfectly groomed in case a chicken decides to bravely venture where no chicken has gone before, your organic free-range chickens are only roaming in their indoor pens. Granted, organic chickens are not fed grain that was grown or treated with chemicals, but they certainly are not free-range cockadoodle-doing on a cute little farm before being rounded up for the ax.
Old McDonald has long since fled the farm. Instead, four large meat producers have moved in and are handling our nation’s meat in its entirety. You want to talk about national security? Eee, ay, ee, ay OH!
On a lighter note, the third book on the nightstand is Lost Continent by Bill Bryson. I’m participating in Finny’s online book club and have embarrassed myself more than once by guffawing loudly in public while reading this book. Bryson’s dry sarcastic humor is hilarious. Four out of five bananas, absoloodle.


p.s. The even more frequent blogging? I’m trying to do a month of daily blogging along with Mrs. Kennedy.

I. Am. A. Robot. Wife. I bake cookies.

Amy’s Tie One On is a monthly apron sew-along with a theme. October’s theme is costume aprons. I have no costume-wearing plans this year, so instead I raided my stash to figure out how I could create something from what I already had. (Minor victory: I am doing a pretty good job this month of sorting through the ridiculous amounts of craft supplies in my studio to create projects, rather than rush out to shop with my growing stack of JoAnn’s coupons.)

Holly homemaker, fill up my glass

Viola. The Stepford Wife apron. Pour yourself a glass of wine, bounce a baby on your hip, pull cookies from the oven and put a nutritionally balanced meal on the table, all while wearing a cocktail dress, heels and pearls. This must be a costume because God knows no such woman exists.

Holly Homemaker apron

And yes, Amanda, you are right. I do need a tripod. Otherwise, I have to photograph such items while they are tied to pillows. Apron details: one Isaac Mizrahi cloth napkin from Target paired with about 3/4 a yard of grossgrain pink ribbon. Tres facil!

In other news — a super easy autumn recipe:
Peanut Butter Pumpkin Cookies

1 store mix for peanut butter cookies (I like Betty Crocker)
1 egg
1/3 cup of oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
1 cup of pumpkin puree.

Mix thoroughly and place in large globs on a ungreased cookie sheet. Cook at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes until the tops are browning, but the cookie is still squishy. Give them 15-20 minutes to cool on the cookies sheets before moving them to a serving platter. The pumpkin gives them a moist, muffin-like texture and these are delicious. Anyone who likes a peanut butter cookie will appreciate the seasonal twist. Seriously, the guys at the bagel shop ate 10 of these the other morning before I’d ordered my bagel and sat down to chat. I’m pretty sure they would have inhaled another dozen if I’d obliged. Enjoy!


A Spoiled Quilter’s Kid

My mom sent me a lovely lap quilt for my birthday. She spoils me with these beautiful creations. I have a hope chest full of quilts of all sizes and colors. I can’t wait to have a home one day (full of wee ones) to really show off her artistry.

New quilt from my mama

Yep, not going to lie. I sat down and cried my eyes out when I opened this. It is hard to receive such a sentimental and thoughtful gift and not be able to hug the person who gave it to you. I truly miss my family.

CU of quilt

Have you seen Jan’s quilts? I think if she and my mom ever met, they’d be thick as thieves. Her work is so pretty too. I simply don’t have the patience for this type of art. I think it really takes a special person to piece together fabric with such precision. It makes me respect the Gee’s Bend ladies and women everywhere who’ve taken on this practical art form as a way of expressing their creativity.

Living room with quilt

The yellow in the quilt matches my living room perfectly. Thank you again Mama!


I’m a Big Fat Copycat

I’ll admit I take most of my sewing inspiration from craft blogs. I see others trying new projects and think, “Oooh… I should so do that!” This all started several years ago when I made the fateful discovery of Craftster. The rest is history.
This zakka patchwork mat follows a similar story. I saw it first on LittleBirds and then found another great version made by Autum. I am a scrap saver — mainly because my mom is this incredible quilter and always appreciates when I give her the extras. I pulled out a bag of scraps I’d intended to give her and realized that some of these colors would look so cute in a kitchen mat…

CU, kettle

Slowly but surely I used my Quilting 101 book and my rotary cutter and pieced together these strips. It was easier than I thought it would be, even though it was quite time consuming. I love these color combinations and it isn’t as glaringly bright in person. Pink, orange and lime are another favorite of a certain someone I know. I’m thinking she needs a new Fall kitchen mat, don’t you?

My pink and orange copy

And don’t worry Mama, there are plenty of scraps left!

Patchwork close up

{Funny tangent, my mom finds it all too strange that I took up quilting, sewing and a love of crafts about two seconds after their moving van pulled away from their house in Arizona, headed to the new casa in Texas. My mom has been sewing as long as I can remember. There are some clothes she sewed me in elementary school I’d actually rather not remember. Regardless, the woman is darn crafty. I don’t find my new hobbies strange in the least. I’m missing my family + crafty mama = me sewing to feel like a piece of her is still here. Easy math.}


We return to our previously scheduled sewing…

[Thank you for your kind response to yesterday’s post. I am thrilled that so many of you also sent the letter to your congressperson. Hopefully we will give them motivation to act!]

Pincushion pumpkins

I came home yesterday to a tiny parcel on the doorstep from a girlfriend in California. I do not know this friend very well, so I was particularly touched by her thoughtfulness. Laura is a quilter and is also a bridesmaid in Emily’s upcoming wedding. I’d sent her a wristlet several weeks back and she in turn sent me the cutest little pumpkins!

sweet little punkins

Aren’t they sweet? I think these could be used for decoration or for pin cushions. Even sweeter, she sent the directions to make them. I hope she doesn’t mind that I’m sharing these:

Mini sewn pumpkins:
Cut your fabric into different size rectangles
8″ x 17″ – 9″ x 18″ – 9″ x 22″ – 7″x 17″ – 11″ x 22″
3″ x 7″ – 4″ x 9″ – 5″ x 10″
Sew down the short side of the rectangle with the right sides together. Thread a needle and double the thread. Run a basting stitch along one edge and pull tight. Turn right side out and run a basting stitch along the other edge. Don’t pull this side tight until you stuff your pumpkin. Stuff your pumpkin, but not too full. Pull your basting stitch and put your finger in the opening, pull tight and knit. That leaves an opening for the stem. Put glue in the hole and push your stem in the top. Twist your pipe cleaner and wrap it around the stem. Glue 2 leaves and add raffia.

cu of details

Voila — sweet little pumpkins.


Call me an optimist, but I’m hoping you’ll each take a second to send this letter to your congressperson about ending the genocide in Darfur. The truth is, together we can make a difference. Does it sound corny? Absolutely. Is it possible? Yes. Without a doubt, history has changed by small groups of dedicated people. We can be that group. As a woman, an American, a Christian, a public health worker — I do not accept what is happening in Darfur. Will you please join me in sending this to your senator?

Dear Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain,
As you know, there are more than 2.5 million people living in refugee camps in the Darfur region of Sudan. These people have been forced into refugee camps after fleeing for their lives during ethnic cleansing. The latest statistics show 65% of Sudanese men have died in this conflict — a conflict our own President has called genocide. The women and children who have survived are often victim of rape and have witnessed the worst of humanity.
I do not accept this situation and I want the United States to act. As my representative, as my voice in Congress, I hope you will today take my concerns (and those of my community) to the floor of the Senate and ask for action.
There is absolutely no excuse for us allowing 2.5 million people to die in refugee camps. And they will die. Infectious disease, attacks from the Janjaweed militias and exposure are frequent causes of death in these camps. To put this in perspective, there are an estimated 2.5 million people who live in Phoenix. Something must be done today.
You are my voice within the most powerful government in the world. There is simply no excuse for our inaction. Let’s right this wrong as quickly as possible and help those most in need — our brothers and sisters in Sudan.
I look forward to hearing from you.



I’ve been spending a fair bit of time lately thinking about Darfur and how I feel hopeless. Rarely do I feel hopeless. I’ve written my congressmen. I’ve talked about this with anyone who will listen and a fair number of kind friends who don’t want to listen. I’ve watched the news reports, I’ve read the books, I’ve sat on my hands and done nothing more than pray for the last three years. Now, there are 2 million people living in refugee camps and the Janjaweed are firing on neutral forces — including the medics. I watched a 60 Minutes special on Darfur yesterday and cried for an hour, shaking in anger. Hitler similarly closed the borders and killed in destructive swaths. Where is the international force when we need it? They need it. Please, may someone hear my little voice and do something about this tragedy. I don’t know what else to do, and yet, I know I cannot live with myself if we don’t work to do something.
Do you have any ideas?

Te Extrano Mexico!

We are home from Mexico and darn it if I wish we weren’t lounging on the beach again this morning. Seven of us rented a condo in Rocky Point for the weekend; we spent the better part of four days reveling in gluttony. We ate, we drank, we baked in the sun, we danced, we played Taboo until we were in tears and we even managed to ride a mechanical bull or two. It was a weekend to remember and one of little moderation — making Monday all that more sobering. Ay.

The gang
yummy corn chips
star fish
strawberry daquiri
sun dollars
tub of clams
smiley me, rocky point beach

So far, 27 is treating me nicely.