Monkey Meat


A friend at the bagel shop, who is sporting an impressive beard himself, would like to have one of these Billy Gibbons hats. I did a bit of research, and strangely enough this ZZ Top dude retired his Texas cowboy hat for an African Nudu cap. The African Nudu? They are Bamilike from Bamenda — just a 45 minute drive from my Peace Corps post in western Cameroon.
Bamenda is one of the most charming African cities I’ve ever visited. It was a special get away. When I got sick of French and needed the company and comforts of a larger city, I would hike out of my village, take a couple of buses and meet up with the other volunteers in Bamenda. Granted, I was only there for a few months, but in that time I grew rather fond of this city and its amenities.
Bamenda is the the western English (pidgin) speaking region of Cameroon, not terribly far from the Nigerian border. The city sits in a large tropical valley, and the people are kind and welcoming. This is one of Cameroon’s larger cities. In the outlying mountains, which are thick with fog most mornings, there is an excellent restaurant and shop called “Handicraft” just off of the ring road. They cook a mean chicken dish and sell amazing handmade items.
{Although one time I ventured off to the bathroom (latrine) behind the restaurant and found a baboon chained to a tree. That makes you think twice about ordering the chicken.}

Back to the hat — the only way I can think to create something like this is to knit a beanie and then add a bunch of icords off the top. Any ideas? I don’t know how to crochet, but I’m guessing that would be considerably easier to create these little Bamendian dreads.

I feel like I am supposed to make this hat. After all, how bizarre is it a man I know wants a hat worn by one of his favorite singers, a hat that comes from one of the few areas of the world I happen to know? Odd, don’t you think?

Knitters put on your thinking caps (ha!) and please let me know your ideas.

Name that movie

wayne's world

I drive by this crane every day on my way home from work and laugh every single day thinking of one of my favorite movies.

“A gun rack… a gun rack. I don’t even own *a* gun, let alone many guns that would necessitate an entire rack. What am I gonna do… with a gun rack?”



spices, board!

I spent a couple hours in the kitchen last night cooking this soup. While measuring out the spices, chopping the vegetables and sipping a rather nice glass of Shiraz, I spent a bit of time thinking about art, crafting and my creative process.

sweaty eggplant

Have you heard of Zen cooking? Lynne Rosetto Casper, my Saturday cooking buddy, discussed this a bit recently. Essentially it means you get so into the recipe, the ingredients, the flavors, that you enjoy the process more than the food. You cook to cook, not to eat. I felt that way last night.

chopping block

It’s kind of like being the “zone” with exercise. Every now and then, I pull on my running shoes, stretch my hamstrings and find myself smiling while making my way down the dusty canal. The wind whips by, the birds chirp and the stars align to create the sort of run that you won’t soon forget. You are fast and it seems effortless.
I’ve rarely found this in crafting. While the monotony of knitting is meditative, I’m never without worry that I have, or will, drop a stitch. Sewing is a bit stressful too. I’m terrible at patterns. I try and try and then try again, but ultimately, I have to see someone do something to master it myself. My seam ripper is getting dull.
I don’t think I’ll find the zen of art + craft until I slow down and remember what it is I love about being at my sewing machine. Is it the end product, or the process? Why create 15 wristlets with sloppy zippers when one perfect pouch incorporating a new technique would make my heart soar? Less is more.

spicy peanut ginger soup

Like I said, soup and pondering. And maybe a bit too much wine.

Take a Hike

I’m a bit late to the Bill Bryson fan club, but consider me an official member. A Walk in the Woods is my third Bryson book and by far my favorite. I’m nearly done, after having just started it two days ago. It is one of those books I only want to put down so I can sleep to get energy to read some more. It is that funny.

My favorite excerpt so far:

“I was especially riveted by an amateur photograph in Herrero’s book, taken late at night by a camper with a flash at a campground out West. The photograph caught four black bears as they puzzled over a suspended food bag. The bears were clearly startled but not remotely alarmed by the flash. It was not the size or demeanor of the bears that troubled me — they looked almost comically unaggressive, like four guys who had gotten a Frisbee caught up a tree — but their numbers. Up to that moment it had not occurred to me that bears might prowl in parties. What on earth would I do if four bears came into my camp? Why, I would die, of course. Literally shit myself lifeless. I would blow my sphincter out my backside like one of those unrolling paper streamers you get at children’s parties — I daresay it would even give a merry toot — and bleed to a messy death in my sleeping bag.”

I am going to be sad when I finish this gem.

Just Call Me Grace

The weather forecast in Phoenix today is like something out of Mary Poppins — practically perfect in every way. I decided to seize the opportunity and went for a 2-hour ride through the giant suburban stucco cul-de-sac, also known as Ahwatukee. Sufjan Stevens and Jay Z alternated on my iPod — pushing me with contrasting styles, the sun was keeping me warm but not hot, my legs felt strong and I was really enjoying the ride. Before I knew it, I was 20 miles or so from home without much other than a good attitude and water bottle. By the time I made my way back, I was beyond hungry, rather shaky and desperate for a warm shower.
I trekked over to Rubio’s — one of my favorite weekend haunts — for a fish burrito and some much needed ice tea, but before I could sit down to eat, I managed to spill two ambitiously full containers of green salsa on my table, book, wallet and keys. Just as I finished cleaning up the mess and laughing at myself, I shook my Nalgene full of ice tea a bit too much and the ice came clattering down, sending freezing cold refreshment down my shirt and pants. Nice.
A family sitting a few tables away didn’t bother to stifle their laughter. Their kids had laughed after my jalapeno jolting salsa mess. Now dripping in ice tea, I’m pretty sure their parents wondered if I was on drugs or just possibly the least coordinated human being they’d ever seen.
As my friend Homer J. Simpson would say, “I’m so smart. S-M-R-T.”


La Domestique

I’ve been rather blessed with awesome mail this week.
This came from Diane. I am pretty sure she designed this gorgeous little pouch. {Go take a look. I cannot get the photo to load and it is worthy of a peek!} Such great artistry! And the colors are some of my favorites.

pouch from Joanna

Speaking of, how awesome is this pouch? A gift from Joanna. She included a few fab tags and earrings too!

goodies from Joanna

Muchas gracias amigas!

I haven’t been sewing much this week. My tri training is eating up just about every ounce of my free time and energy. I did manage to finish this scrap bag however. It is a market bag to be used in lieu of those horrible plastic grocery sacks. It is similar to this one I made a year ago, although I’ve chosen not to felt this time around.

Use what you have scrap bag

I thought the handles were clever. I simply slipped grosgrain ribbon between a couple stitches and sewed them. Voila — a project completed entirely with what I already owned.

grossgrain detail for scrap bag handles

I have a good feeling the recipient will appreciate it!

This weekend: long swim, long run, long bike ride, lots of eating, lots of sleeping. And did I mention the eating?


Livin’ La Vida Vegan

I’m not vegan. But the yummy spring rolls I made last night are.

blurry spring roll platter

I got the recipe here and doctored it up a bit to include some other veggies I had in the fridge.

spring roll filling

Getting the hang of using rice paper is a bit tricky, but gratifying. I enjoyed wrapping these and thinking of all the other foods that could be included: sprouts, salmon, shrimp, grilled pineapple, etc. I made a spicy dip too. Thank God for Lee Lee’s. I swear that store is the rare cultural gem in Phoenix.

spring rolls, yum

And in the not-so-vegan arena — I baked. These gingersnaps are simply fantastic! (My favorite cookie by far) The recipe is from my friend Jess.

cookie of the week -- gingersnaps

Big Soft Ginger Cookies
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp ground ginger (I used fresh grated ginger. It’s spicier.)
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup margarine, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg (not so vegan)
1 tbsp water
1/4 cup molasses
2 tbsp white sugar

Preheat oven to 350f
Sift together flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream margarine and 1 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, then stir in water and molasses. Gradually add in sifted ingredients. Shape into walnut-sized balls and roll into remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.
Place these two inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet and flatten slightly.
Bake 8-10 minutes. Cool for five minutes. Inhale.

cookie of the week -- yummy gingersnaps


Los Soles de Phoenix

Did you know I studied broadcast journalism because I wanted to be the Spanish announcer for the Phoenix Suns? Yeah. That didn’t really work out. Regardless, I’m still a Suns fan, although one with fair weather tendencies. Truly I don’t pay a lot of attention to professional sports these days. But you’d have to have your head in the sand in Phoenix to not be wildly in love with the Suns this year.
Plus Steve Nash looks much cuter with short hair, not that he asked me.

Cody, cute

My brother Cody is a huge Suns fan. (Seriously? Look at the lame orange bracelet. This is a boy who is rather metro and yet he wears an orange Suns plastic bracelet.) We went to a game together a few years ago and I bought him one of those giant orange foam Phoenix Suns Gorilla fingers — which is now hanging in his bedroom in Denver. Oy, he loves the Suns.

amare, head turn

So much so that this is his dog, Amare. Cody and one of his college roommates adopted Amare from the Tucson pound 4 years ago. When Cody came home for Thanksgiving, we drove to Tucson in part so he could see his pooch — who still lives with the former roommate.


This dog went ape-shit when he saw Cody. Or gorilla-shit, one might say in this case. Regardless, go Suns!


Snipping Out Good Ideas

heart envelope how-to

Martha Stewart February 2007 issue? One out of five bananas, absoloodle. While she’s got a great shortbread recipe and a few cute valentine ideas, there is only one thing spectacular in this issue and it is this crafting table.

dream craft station, MSL Feb 2007

Yeow! Awesome. I’d love to have a space like this one day.

Real Simple February 2007 issue — three out of five bananas, absoloodle. I liked their jeans review and their feature of couples offering their marriage advice.

jeans review

Otherwise, I didn’t fall over backward for this one either. (Maybe I’m too harsh a critic.) I did cut out a bunch of new vegetarian recipes that look pretty good.

roasted root veggies
warm lentil salad

I did enjoy both the November/December and January issues of Country Living. I even pulled out a few ideas for my domestic bliss folder. This magazine makes me dream of restoring an old home in Tempe — in a county island — where I can have a huge front and back yard and a teeny tiny chicken coop with a few birds, a couple huge dogs and a giant vegetable garden.

How cute these would look on my kitchen windowsill

And these on my kitchen windowsill.

In the meantime, back to my bookshelf…


Splish Splash

I swam with my new team this morning and it is going to be worth every penny. While I loved my YMCA team, it hasn’t been the same since my parents moved to Texas more than a year ago. Swimming used to be something my dad and I would do together a couple mornings a week. Since they moved, the team has fallen apart, the coach quit and I’ve been swimming by myself most mornings, plodding along and cursing Texas. (I kid.)
In contrast, the new pool and facilities are superior. There were 40+ people in the water and two coaches. Motivation and energy were splashing into the gutters with each flip turn. Swimmers were overly friendly and complimented my workout after I pulled my exhausted heap out of the pool. I haven’t felt this excited about swimming in many years. The workout was brutal and I should be back to my high school swimming shape in no time. Sweet.


life is good hat

In other news, how cute is this hat? Mini has inspired me to learn how to cable. I watched a video yesterday on the technique and I think I get it. She’s going to help too. I’m adding this to a few other knitting projects I’ve got up my sleeve. (Never mind the hat is on clearance for $6 and the yarn I just ordered cost quite a bit more.)


Tonight I’m playing Ultimate. Woo hoo! Spring season registration is open for anyone interested. Even if you are clumsy, not so fast and don’t know the first thing about frisbee (ahem), it’s a great group of people who love to run around and drink a good bit of beer — sometimes during the game, which only adds to the entertainment. I’ve found they enjoy the occasional baked good as well.