Fresh Start

Kelli and Roscoe

This sweet boy is one of the many babies born in 2007 who I fell head over heels for. Roscoe William lives in LA and is one of many I hope will one day call me “auntie.” His mother and I have been close since we were girls. His father is a new friend, who I equally adore.
The innocence of a baby symbolizing the new year is simply perfect. You may not believe in resolutions or the hype we’re marketed this time of year, but I certainly believe in the power of a fresh start. It gives me new energy to believe in the many dreams I’m chasing after. I wish for us all, in 2008, that we may grasp those resolutions with both hands, pull them close, and refuse to let go until we’re covered head to toe with the abundant joy we’re seeking.
In other words, 2008 is going to rock.

{In the meantime, I’m headed to Mexico to start get la fiesta started. Hasta luego, amigos!}


Being the Bee

I’ve been reading a bunch during the holiday mini-break. I just finished one of the best books I’ve read in a very long time. If you are interested in globalization, South America, Bolivia, NGOs, environmentalism, indigenous rights or politics, I highly recommend “Whispering in the Giant’s Ear.” Written by William Powers, this is a nonfiction tale of a nonprofit worker’s experience in Bolivia during recent and on-going political turmoil. His perspective is so completely different from mine, and considering I’m a nonprofit worker whose passport has more than one Bolivian stamp, I truly enjoyed his writing.
One scene, where he is out in the middle of the Amazon with a group of indigenous coworkers when their truck gets stuck in the mud. Everyone but the writer knows that bees will find them within a few minutes. Thousands of bees. They need to get the truck unstuck pronto. He writes about this scene with such clarity and humor:
“Gaspar now changes tack. He puts a tiny hand on my shoulder and says, “You are a bee.”
I momentarily forget the pain of my stings and look down at Gaspar’s slight, finely wrought face. He continues “Just relax. If you don’t get nervous, no pasa nada.” By tensing up, he explains, I was going against the “bee energy” and causing them to react against me. I needed to go with the flow.
With fresh resolve, I turn and walk back toward the dreaded pickup. As the buzzing sounds builds, I repeat to myself, “You are a bee. You are a bee.” I slide into the front seat, remarkably calm, repeating my mantra and gently shooing a bee… They perch on my eyelashes and eyebrows, burrow in my hair, explore my leg hairs. You are a bee. I was a bee! Not a single sting and their little legs, which had felt so creepy-crawly, are now just a light tickle. That they are not stinging further builds my confidence. I am fully relaxed, the communal buzz a gigantic om.

At other times his words simply struck a cord and I found myself dog-earing page after page, hoping the library wouldn’t mind.
My parents’ asceticism, including a strict TV protocol, inoculated me from consumerism more than many of my peers, but I am far from immune. There’s the Gap, its doors revolving, consumer in, consumer out, and I hesitate. Harvard Sociologist Daniel Bell warned us in 1976 , our bicentennial year, about “the cultural contradictions of capitalism,” arguing that while capitalism hinges on such virtues as asceticism, thrift and self-denial, it produces social surpluses that lead to luxury, deepened materialism, nurture acquisitiveness, and turn self-indulgence into a birthright. Tocqueville too predicted that self-centeredness and egotism would be “democracy’s temptation.”

Four out of five bananas, absoloodle.

For brain candy, I’m now inhaling “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” which couldn’t be more appropriate to read with this week’s news of Bhutto’s murder. It is about women in Afghanistan and how completely and totally crazy life is under their changing politics in the last 30 years. Khaled Hosseini had me at “Kite Runner,” but he may have just made me a fanatic. So far, four out of five bananas. {And I don’t just through those bananas around mamsy pansy.}

If you are looking for a great movie, see Juno. Loved it. An interesting, exceptionally violent and mildly confusing movie? No Country for Old Men. I’ve got to find the book now, the film bothered me so. This weekend I hope to see Kite Runner and I am Legend.

The television writers may be on strike, but I’m not crying. Instead, I’m curled up with a cup of tea and a new quilt, without a to do list, happily enjoying cleaning up the neglected book shelves in my studio and watching the dust gather on my television.


buttery sunflowers

I’m saddened today by the murder of Benazir Bhutto. I’ll be the first to tell you I know nothing of Pakistani politics or the influence of her presence. I am fairly certain, however, that strong female leadership in Muslim countries is scarce and her death is a true loss. {Who are we kidding? Strong female leadership is ridiculously scarce internationally regardless of the religious majority.}
I’ve looked at the photos of those mourning and I did wonder — would I take to the streets to mourn an American leader? Would I pull my hair out and beat my chest if someone killed my candidate? I know reactions vary geographically to such violence, but I’m not sure an assassination would result in much more from me than a sincere cry and angry blog post.
A friend emailed the following in regard to Bhutto’s murder. The sentiment is beautiful and I’m thankful that I’m still naive enough to hope her death will encourage positive change.

Franciscan Benediction:

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor. Amen.

Christmas Dinner

My first attempt cooking Christmas dinner for my family was a success; delivering it 45 miles away and serving the food warm was a different story. I prepared the food at my house but we ate at my grandparent’s home on the other side of town. We ended up microwaving plates before sitting down.
Someday I’ll have a home large enough to accomodate everyone, including enough silverware and the such to cook and feed everyone in the same locale. In the meantime, delivery service it is.

Pumpkin chestnut soup

Round two of the pumpkin chestnut soup. I enjoyed it just as much the second time I prepared it in the same week, and keeping it warm in a Crockpot was genius. My girlfriends are so smart.

Squash poppy seed rolls

Squash poppy seed rolls. I know? Can you believe it? I get all gutsy after one good loaf of baked bread and starting going wild and crazy with seeds and rolls and guess what? They weren’t bakery quality, but they were still good.

Garlic green beans with pine nuts

Garlic green beans with pine nuts. Easy peasy.

Garlic and horseradish mashed taters

Garlic mashed taters with a side of horseradish. Also pretty darn easy, although I need a masher. I had to use a pastry cutter and they were lumpy.

Jalapeno orange cranberry relish

Orange jalapeno cranberry relish. There was just enough kick to make it spicy and sweet.

Cauliflower thyme gratin

Cauliflower gratin with thyme and ham. Took less than 20 minute to prepare and was a big hit.

My first bird

My mom bought me a roasting pan for Christmas and it came in handy! My first bird, and she was a beauty. Again, the folks at Cooks Illustrated know what they are talking about. Their November/December 2007 issue had a great article on roasting turkey breast and I followed it to the t. It worked well.

My grandfather's coconut cream pie

Coconut cream pie, my grandpa’s fave. This pie is a huge pain in the ass to bake — taking 2+ hours just for the filling. Thankfully, I only do this once a year and he was tickled pink to see and eat it.

Peppermint brownies

Peppermint brownies, to get rid of my growing stash of candy canes.

And to all, a good night!

Twelfth Day of Christmas

I wish you love.

Crazy, unconventional, Pretty Woman, short dude/tall lady, short dude/short dude, roller coaster, sweet and sour like Lemonheads, soft and cuddly like a down comforter on a cold morning, jarring, challenging, intense, 50 years later and still my best friend forever love. Or however you’d like to order it up.

May you be surrounded by those you love, and for those on the hunt, may you find everything you are looking for an then some.

Merry Christmas!

Eleventh Day of Christmas

I wish for patience.
I’ve got my family’s quick Irish temper and I see red regularly, especially commuting on the US 60. {I swear if I go to Hell, I’ll be on that freeway, stuck behind a minivan with Minnesota license plates. It is officially Snow Bird season in Phoenix and wowie. As a city we are collectively driving 25 miles. On the freeway.}
So, to celebrate the holidays today with my family and with friends this week, I wish for a giant dose of patience. May we all have the opportunity to catch up on sleep, eat without guilt, read for pleasure and take long, glorious runs.


Tenth Day of Christmas

trophies from a well played childhood: Tenth Day of Christmas

I wish for more time outside to play. The kid in me is shining through in this wish, but next year, I’d love the chance to hike, bike, camp, climb, kayak, swim, run, jump and skip my way through new trails and old dusty roads I’ve traveled before. Maybe I’ll join the Sierra Club for regular outings. I’m getting on board with a new tri group in January and am going to make a bid at this too.

blurry swimmer: Ninth Day of Christmas

Friends comment to me regularly that they “HATE!! running” and “don’t you get bored?” Running seems to be one of those black or white sports that you either love or hate and for many, many years I fell in the rare gray area. No longer. It is a spiritual practice for me. Just me, my favorite shoes in my closet and the open road gives plenty of time for prayer — even if it is the occasional, “Sweet Jesus, when is this run going to be done?” Hey, not all days are good ones. I love running for many reasons, and yes I do get bored at times. You learn to incorporate new routes, new music, new running buddies and you do what you have to to keep it fresh.
Anyway, for those I love, I wish for you to find a form of play you love — may it be aerobics, water polo, walking, mountain climbing, whatever suits your fancy.


Ninth Day of Christmas

Cooks illustrated, my bff

I wish for new challenges.
For example, baking bread. One cheap Dutch oven + one pretty awesome recipe + one January/February 2008 issue of Cooks Illustrated for a bit of cajoling = my first edible loaf of bread.
I paired it with pumpkin apple chestnut soup and salad. The Ya Yas brought fudge, lemon bars and wine. Spending time eating good food with my girlfriends has never been a challenge. Eating in moderation, on the other hand…

gooey dough
no knead, kneaded
the dutch pot bread recipe works
Can you believe I baked that bread?
Christmas dinner for the Ya Yas


Eighth Day of Christmas

In Stitches, December Entry: Eighth Day of Christmas

I wish for another great sew-along. Finny and I have been amigas since our Lumberjack days. But I think our friendship has gotten even stronger this year through the In Stitches project. It has been so fun to see what others create, to watch photos added the the flickr pool from creative folk living all over the world and to have Amy Butler’s nod of approval. Rock on!

{Fully accepting my domestic dorkiness and loving it.}

In Stitches, December Entry: Eighth Day of Christmas

This is my November/December project. I used the basics of the patchwork handbag to make a dopp kit for my friend John. With some manly Ikea fabric, grosgrain ribbon for the zipper tabs and some heavy plastic webbing for the handle, I whipped this baby up.

In Stitches, December Entry: Eighth Day of Christmas

Next time? I will cut the length in half. It is ginormous.

If you haven’t voted for the 2008 sew-along, get on over to Finny’s and let us know what you want to do. I’m dreaming of tunics, skirts and new techniques!