At One Desk, Dreaming of the Other

I’ve been in an exceptionally creative mood lately. If I’ve got 30 minutes, I throw on my apron and some tunes on the stereo, and quickly dash something in the oven to bake before sitting down at my sewing desk. When I’m expected to be at my other desk, the one not being manned by my friend Singer — who’s dutifully watching over several craft piles, stacks of “to try!!” recipes and correspondence waiting for an address or stamp — I’m sitting at this one. The one that actually pays me. The one that has me thinking about not so fun things like scabies controls at orphanages.
Coincidentally, I’ve spent so much time day dreaming at the “paying” desk lately that I get home to the sewing one and freak out a bit that I haven’t done enough work for the day. Then I sit down at my home computer and get back to work. I’m chasing my own tail.

If the universe suddenly decided to give me the rest of the day off, I’d be at home conquering these:
1. Perfect holiday gifts for the men in my life who live by their BBQ skills.
2. Would look lovely in my kitchen.
3. Yum.

Last night I took the first of several sewing lessons from a family friend. She’s much older, an experienced quilter and thankfully blessed with patience. She is helping me get the gist of pattern sewing. It’s like Home Economics 101 — a class I used to strut by with an aire of “as if” feminism. If I had only known in seventh grade what I know now: Being domestic doesn’t make you any less of an equal — if anything, it makes you a better fed, more tailored, more down to earth equal; that boys your age will never grow up (Give up and go older.); that you’ll never regret taking the high road and being the nice girl, not the mean one.

I’ll post photos of the sewing project as the after-dinner course work progresses. I will say this is a very late gift for Petite 6.5, Miss Pia (who is due later this month!) Thankfully, I’m in good company with the tardiness.

Back to the day dreaming…

Recipes, Weekend Excitement, Sewing

The Fall-inspired recipes continue to pour in. Thank you! Today, Miss Katy (who certainly needs a blog already!) sent this yummy dessert idea:

Apple Pear Crumble:
You can make this crumble with almost any fruit, using similar quantities and adjusting for sweetness. Serve it warm, in shallow bowls.
3 medium baking apples (such as Braeburn or Empire), peeled and thinly sliced
3 medium ripe pears (such as Bosc), peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13×9-inch baking pan. In a large bowl, mix apples, pears, maple syrup, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour into the prepared baking pan, spreading evenly.

Topping (I usually make almost double the topping because I like a lot of topping. I also reduce the flour a little bit and up the oats and brown sugar a little.)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 finely chopped walnuts
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
2 Tablespoons light-brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit mixture. Bake until the fruit is tender and the topping is golden, 40-45 minutes. Let cool until just warm, then serve.
Yield: 8 servings.


If you need some additional recipe greatness, I highly recommend checking out the San Francisco Chronicle’s list of their best recipes during the last 20 years. I regularly make recipes from their food section and this list is impressive. I am going to make several of these for a dessert platter I am preparing for this weekend’s festivities.

Weekend Excitement:
I’m not going to play coy — I’m thrilled to be attending this year’s Tequila Stakes Croquet. I’m going to meet a slew of bloggers I know simply via comments and email, and entice them with baked goods while kicking their asses at croquet. If that doesn’t sound like an awesome way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

I’ve been busy with a few Fall aprons. The first is for a friend I cook with. Her sister lived in Africa and is dating a man from Cote d’Ivoire. She a fellow fan of the African animal motif.

Giraffe apron front

It is giraffe fabric and a touch hard to see. Pockets on the front…

Giraffe apron back

and patches on the back.

And I made an apron for my coffee shop buddy AJ. He’s the hedgehog lover. I used that fantastic printable fabric for this one and included the recipe on the pockets.

Hedgehog apron
Recipe pocket

Cute little hedgehog.

Africankelli tag

They say we’ve officially had our last day of 100+ degree heat and to expect cool weather this weekend. Yahoo!


Team Rex


After the first round of chemo. He’d had better days.

So, my running buddy is doing okay. “Not great, not dead,” as he would put it. Many of you have asked about him. Rex has just finished his third of six rounds of chemo. Other than a 30-pound weight loss, which wasn’t necessary, he looks pretty much the same. His color is once again rosy, his attitude is good and his hair — well, I’m being kind when I say he didn’t have much to start with. The only major physical change is the man I once ran 20 miles a week with now uses a walker to hobble around the house. His strength has been zapped. Chemo is getting him as close to death as it can before the doctors will push healthy life back into his ailing system. Cancer will die a miserable death in the process — fingers crossed.
I’ve been contemplating what to do for him. For the first time, I understand that helpless feeling people write about when a loved one is diagnosed with a serious disease. Rex got cancer and I got anxiety. Rex started chemo and I started baking. Rex’s hair started falling out and I thought about shaving my own head.
Thankfully, the last thought passed quickly. I’m a single girl and frankly, me being bald isn’t going to make him better or help my chances in the dating pool. Then again, neither is the massive amounts of baking, but idle hands…
What I did come up with, other than regularly feeding him very fattening baked goods (per the doctor’s recommendations, no less) is to create Team Rex. Rex has run the Tempe YMCA Thanksgiving Turkey Trot for as many years as I’ve known him. It is a simple, easy 2-mile run and it raises money for our gym. Specifically, it raises money for kid’s programs at the facility and for low-income families who want to participate. He’s never won the race, but he isn’t one to mess with. This year, of course, Rex will be on the side lines as an observer.
I’m petitioning our gym to dedicate the race this year to Rex. He’ll be there to observe a steady stream of people wearing yellow shirts, emblazoned with a “Team Rex, Live Strong” logo.
The race is Thanksgiving morning at the Tempe YMCA. Phoenicians, consider this a city-wide invitation. The cost is +/-$15. If they Y management doesn’t want to provide the shirts, I’m going to do so out of my pocket. I can just imagine how tickled Rex will be to sit at the finish line and watch countless friends and others he’s never even met run a tiny community race in his honor. If his spirit doesn’t motivate us all to live a little bit healthier, hug those we love and thank God for each day, I’m not sure what will.
Let’s lace up, shall we?


The Girl Paints Too!

I got home from work recently to find a FedEx box waiting on my doorstep. I tore into it, full well knowing that it was an early birthday gift and I was ruining a surprise intended for later in the month. Patience has never been my strongest quality.
I wish I’d taken time to photograph the lovely wrapping, with the pretty bright green ribbons, but alas, there was a present inside and my hands couldn’t tear away fast enough.
I was stunned by what I found.

Poppy painting

Jessica painted one of my favorite photographs from this spring. She knows how much I love the desert poppies — how their bright red and orange petals wave in the warming wind. She painted these with such incredible accuracy and beauty.

Heart of the poppy

The kindness behind this gift shakes me. I had no idea the girl could paint, although I’ve long admired her creativity and thoughfulness. I simply adore this gift.

Thank you a thousand times over Fin!

A Sprinkle of Fall, a Pinch of Autumn

Pumpkin scone

I made four batches of pumpkin scones this weekend. Claudia’s recipe is fantastic! I added a bit of nutmeg and cinnamon to the dough. The spices filled my home with a sweet earthy aroma that forced me to pour a giant glass of milk and pace until they came out of the oven.

Pumpkin scone

I’m usually pretty good about resisting the desire to binge on sweets I’ve baked, but I inhaled three of these while they were still warm. I quickly packaged the others and gave them away to family and friends during the weekend.

I also tried a new recipe — pineapple upside down cupcakes. Alma said pineapple upside down cake is her favorite and I owed her a thank you gift. I thought the cupcake size would be more convenient. I lined each cup with a scoop of brown sugar and a pineapple ring before filling them with pineapple batter.

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

The golden brown results smelled heavenly.

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

The trick to making these moist is adding a package of instant pudding to the mix. I used french vanilla. They bounced back to the touch after 20 minutes in the oven.

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

At this pace, I’m going to be an orange hue and 300 pounds by Thanksgiving!