Mother May I

Spring order from PaperSource

Perhaps I’m taking a cue from Mother Nature, with pollen in the air and warming temperatures — I am itchy for change. My wanderlust is thankfully being fed with tickets to Africa in May and South America in August. Yet in the meantime, my daily routine could use a good spring cleaning and an enlivened push.
There’s that quote about how insanity is doing the same thing again and again while expecting different results. If I want change, I’ve got to make it happen.

Currently in focus:

— Transferring ideas for novel #2 from Moleskin to laptop. In chapter form.
{Motivation: yellow couch.}

— Following up with literary agents about novel #1. Creating plan for new query letters.
{Motivation: handing my father my first novel.}

— Learning to bead.
{Motivation: beautiful turquoise purchased in Santa Fe.}

— Joining triathlon club.
{Motivation: a new pool of cute boys. And the chance to ride Ruby with others and practice my transition skills for the upcoming race.}

— Swallowing all desires to shop.
{Motivation: Buying that ticket to Italy with cash.}

— Watching significantly less television.
{Motivation: stack of books on nightstand patiently waiting for attention.}

— Creating something daily.
{Motivation: A new stationery order from Paper Source and a few other beauties that have my eye.}

What are you working on?



I once dated a very conservative republican boy who laughed at my hippie ways. We were oddly matched, indeed, but there is something to that “opposites attract” thing. We spent several months bantering, including a time or two when he would turn beet red in frustration because I wouldn’t sip the party line Kool Aid. At the time I was living with three of my closest friends, and this boy — with the most beautiful blue eyes — embarrassed the tar out of me one evening by announcing in front of everyone that he, in fact, “didn’t like trees.”
Only a moron doesn’t like trees.
To change his mind (and fully mock him), I bought him a membership to the National Arbor Day Foundation for Christmas. By the time his tiny trees and membership packet arrived in the mail, we’d broken up.
I planted those little trees with love, and then slapped an “I love Trees!” bumper sticker on my car to seal the deal. Seriously.
I’ve never said I had good taste in men. But trees? They are easy to love.

Happy Arbor Day!


Small Small Catch Monkey

neck detail

I managed to sit down for a few hours yesterday to complete my April In Stitches assignment: the wide leg lounge pants with an embroidery theme. My inspiration for this month’s theme came directly from Not Quite Vintage’s awesome embroidered tanks. A simple, sweet and affordable way to spice up a $5 Old Navy find? Sign me up!

Small Small Catch Vacation

I have a girlfriend who has been going through a pretty rough patch of life lately. Thankfully, she and her husband are able to get away for a week on a tropical isle to refocus and refresh. Who doesn’t want some fun new jammies to take away on vacation? {I even busted out the lime linen water to iron these babies so they smell sweet and tropical.}

Jammies, complete

So, yes. I did cheat a bit in that my pants are not embroidered. But I did adapt the pattern — I used ribbon instead of the cloth drawstring. And wowza — Finny wasn’t lying — these babies are huge. I could wear the small and last time I checked, no one has ever called me small. Ever.


I’m plotting next month’s assignment — which will be posted May 1. What do you think of the wide leg lounge pants pattern? Your photos are looking mighty awesome.


A Cowgirl At Heart

Wood door 1

I’m back from my New Mexican adventure with Ms. Finny. We hadn’t seen each other since September and yet with the first embrace at the airport, we immediately fell back into place. I quickly got the feeling she’d packed a four leaf clover.
Rental car dude: “Oops. We don’t have your tiny car. Here are the keys to a much nicer one. Have a great trip!”
Hotel manager: “Oops. We gave away your tiny room. Here are the keys to your hacienda. Your butler will take your bags.”

My O'Keefe

Me: “I wonder where the Georgia O’Keeffe museum is? And will it be far for us to walk there?”
Butler: “Walk? We have a free driver. Right this way ladies.”
And so on. I can’t remember how many times Finny and I both looked at each other with goofy grins and said, “Pinch me!”

Santuario de Chimayo, print, horizontal

~The Georgia O’Keefe Museum is worth the trip alone. Her work, her vision, her incredible talent made my heart beat differently. I wanted to climb inside her paintings and spin around to see the color from every angle possible.

~The Loretto Chapel. I could feel God’s presence.

princess leah, santa fe style

~Beautiful Native American art at every turn.

~New Mexican food. It is similar to Arizona’s take on this cuisine, but with more green chile. Thankfully I didn’t have a hard time finding vegetarian options. {Finny, on the other hand, threatened to order a side of beef with her ground beef burritos. She too was in food heaven.}

Tin milagros

~The endless galleries and Hispanic vibe.

tulip opening, print

~Tulips! I couldn’t get over the wild streaks of color popping up from the soil. You can tell I’m a Phoenician.

Genius packing skills

~Snow! We took a quick trip to Taos and threw the Boy Scout motto out the window. Be prepared. Who wants to be prepared when you can flaunt pedicures in shades of spring tulips?

on the gorge

Three cheers for being able to get away for a few days and catch up with a girlfriend. I’ve returned with an enlivened spirit and the feeling I can do anything I set my mind to. I’m also rather encouraged to get back to my studio and be creative. I could easily see myself living in Santa Fe one day. I’d have long hair pulled back in a loose braid, a great pair of detailed cowboy boots on my feet, a big dog by my side and a warm cup of tea in my hands. And a giant mortgage, but that’s another story.


I Feel Like Walking the World

frenchie bag

The new Amy Butler Frenchy pattern. It is fantastic! Love the shape, the directions are clear and the size is just right.

I am officially calling a close to NEW REQUESTS to help with the Mozambique Goodwill Goody Bag request. If my calculations are right, I’ve had more than 1,000 offers for goody bags and more than 2,000 people read about this little project. Simply amazing! If you have received my mailing address by email — I can’t wait to see what you send. If I haven’t sent you an email, I will be traveling to South America in August. If you are interested in sending a goody bag to a child in Bolivia, let me know. And thank you!

{Updated: To be clear — if you have contacted me this week and offered to help, I hope you will! If you are just reading about all of this for the first time, I think I’ve got this round covered.}

The FedEx man delivered two huge boxes of goody bags yesterday. Already! Thankfully I am traveling with two friends who have volunteered generous space in their luggage for this project too. And by “volunteered,” I mean I called them and said, “Um, you know how you get a carry on and two pieces of luggage? You just get the carry on.” Thankfully they are interested in shopping and are happy at the thought of two empty suitcases to fill and bring home. This solves my problem of paying up the wazoo to get all of these supplies abroad. Mozambique doesn’t have a postal system in Beira. Shipping isn’t an option.

To answer one more popular question: I am going to Mozambique because I work in international health. I work for a small nonprofit. My role is establishing and managing public health projects in four countries. Mozambique is our only African project site at the moment. {The average life span in Mozambique is just 37 years, meaning entire generations are missing. HIV, poverty, cholera and malaria are the top culprits. Our projects attempt to bring families out of the miasma of disease and give them a shot at a healthier life.}

Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for my job. I am blessed! Thank you again for your kindness.


Traveling Like a Socialite*

Kelli with Moz kids

Have you heard the new John Mayer song on radio repeat?

me and all my friends
we’re all misunderstood
they say we stand for nothing and
there’s no way we ever could
now we see everything that’s going wrong
with the world and those who lead it
we just feel like we don’t have the means
to rise above and beat it

so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change

Ha! I’m not waiting, and apparently neither are you. Thank you again for your out pouring of support for the Mozambique goody bag project. I have returned nearly 1,000 email during the last three days. If I haven’t gotten back to you, please feel free to email me again. As for now, I think my luggage has been filled and filled again with goody bags promised from all ends of the earth. It is especially touching to hear from mothers who’ve adopted children from orphanages and are working on these as a family — a cycle of goodwill.

A couple additional details:
~ A quart-sized bag is 7 inches by 8 inches
~ I now have a very generous volunteer who will shop and stuff goody bags for those who want to send $10 instead.
~ I am requesting return addresses so I can send you a thank you note. I’ll include a photograph from the distribution so you can see your kindness in action.
~ Have I said thank you? Thinking of these kids going through their goody bags, seeing the photos of faces from far away, smiling with joy at their new, simple possessions — I can’t wait. I didn’t think I could be more excited for my return to Mozambique.


*I’ve never been one to travel with an ounce more of stuff than I need. Imagine my staff’s response when they see me get off the teeny tiny plane with a dozen bags? Like JLo at LAX with trunks of Louis Vuitton, but instead me in Mozambique with overflowing Jansports. Ha!


pray before lunch

Internets, I love you. Thank you so much to the droves who responded to my call for goodwill goody bags yesterday!

The details:
1. Size/weight is important. I’ll be taking these bags with me in my one, giant duffel. Please make sure your goody bag isn’t larger than a quart sized Ziplock bag. I mention the Ziplock because even if you decide to package these in something the same size (which is great!) please consider still sealing everything in a Ziplock to minimize any spills.

2. Please do not include money. Thank you anyway! I have a long list of charities I work with, if you are interested in that regard. If you can’t participate this time around, no worries! I make trips like this about three times a year and am always bugging my friends and family for help.

3. Please don’t forget the card/photo and note. These must be in Portuguese because Moz is a Portuguese speaking country. You can translate your letter here.

4. Things to consider including: pencils, soap (they really need soap), a washcloth, a small t-shirt, bandannas, band aids, chapstick, hair ties, stickers, gum, art supplies, etc. Hotel-sized toiletries are perfect too. This will take some creativity considering the size of the goody bag. Such a great challenge!

5. Please do not include: any medication, money, razors, anything you wouldn’t hand your own 7-year-old child.

6. I appreciate those who want to send more than $10 worth of stuff in one bag. To keep things simple (and equal), I would appreciate it if you’d use this as a general guide.

7. I must receive these by May 18th. Email me and I’ll send you my address. Please include a return address!

8. If, for whatever reason, I receive too many of these, I can assure you they will go to good use. I return to South America to do very similar work in August. I’ll take any extras there.

9. Of course you can participate if you aren’t American. That was a foolish note in my previous post. I didn’t realize how many international folk stop by here; the more the merrier!


I think that covers it. I am so thankful for your generosity!


Sending Goodwill to Mozambique

When I was a kid, there was a television program in Phoenix called “The Wallace and Ladmo Show.” Wallace and Ladmo did all kinds of silly skits in front of a live audience of school children. At the end of each show, each kid received a brown paper Ladmo Bag that was overflowing with goodies. They would zoom in on the lucky ones as they tore through their treasure trove of junk food and toys, and rolled the credits.
How I wanted one of those bags. Ask any native Phoenician age 20 or older about Ladmo bags and watch him or her foam at the mouth. It’s a city-wide phenomena.

Sweet girl

What child doesn’t love to receive gifts and feel special? When I return to Mozambique next month, I will work in an orphanage. There are two large orphanages in town — one for babies to age seven, and the second from age seven to 18. Most of the mothers died during childbirth, or afterward from HIV. The orphanage population fluctuates; there are typically more than 100 children in each facility.
The children at the older facility are in school. Like many in this country, they live in a type of poverty (and general hunger) that is unfathomable. Yet I haven’t lost hope that we can nourish these children into becoming the future leaders of a healthy, productive and happy country. They are wonderful kids and like children in any country — they want to be loved. They don’t want their children to be raised in an orphanage. It is easy for them to dream of a better life.

Can't wait to play!

Next month, I would like to hand each of the kids at the older orphanage a small bag of goodies. I envision a quart-sized Ziplock bag including a bar of soap, a toothbrush, dental floss, a pack of gum, Chapstick and perhaps some stickers. Most importantly, I see a small card with a photo of their new American friend. The card is written in English and Portuguese and says why this American wanted to extend her/his friendship and wish this child well. {If I had kids, I’d include a family photo.} The entire bag shouldn’t cost more than $10 to put together and mail.
If you are interested in sending one (or more) of these bags, please contact me. In return, I promise to take many photos of the children at the orphanage and send you a print when I return. This is a simple way you can easily make a difference in the life of a child in need; imagine their joy when they find out there are people they’ve never met who love them.

Love these babies

Will you help? Raesha has offered to help coordinate this. Please email either of us with questions!


Journal from the Playboy Mansion*

Have you seen the show, “The Girls Next Door?” I am oddly in love with this program. Odd because Hugh Hefner + sexy women = me gagging. In love because Holly (queen Bunny of the moment) is just so fun, sweet and remarkably smart by comparison to the other bunnies in the hatch. Holly is also strangely domestic. There is something so funny about the way she bounces between two worlds — wearing smart skirts and pearls in one scene and absolutely nothing in the next.
I only catch this show every now and then, but it came to mind yesterday when I photographed two fabulous CAOK gifts I received this week:

all wrapped up

I’m naming my African wee bunny Holly, even though she’s got a super sweet embroidered K on her tummy. The K is for keeper. She came tucked in a fab washcloth too! (So like Holly to accessorize in every situation.) She came from Karen.

Boy bunny from Erin

A crocheted bunny I’ve lovingly named Hef. He’s already surrounded himself with the ladies. A truly lovely gift from Erin.

Girl's Next Door

Do you think he lured them with carrots? Or karats? Either way, thank you ladies. These are so great!

And a recipe review:
Several people requested that mango salsa recipe from my African dinner party. I couldn’t find it on Smitten’s site, but it was in my domestic bliss folder. {Update: The reason I couldn’t find it on Smitten is because it is MamaLip’s Recipe! My bad.}

Smitten Mango Salsa
2 mangoes, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
4-5 green onions, cut into tiny bits
1-2 fresh chili peppers, cut into tiny bits
a handful of fresh cilantro
juice from 1/2 of a fresh lime
salt and pepper to taste

Chop, mix and let sit for about an hour. This would be great on fish!

And as for the banana bread/chocolate chip cookie hybrid? I doubled a batch of chocolate chip cookies and added more flour, whole wheat flour and two mashed bananas. The result was 50 small cookies that were distributed and inhaled by the masses yesterday. They were good — but not yet perfect. I’m looking more for a scone/bread consistency. I am considering doubling the flour and adding a package of white pudding to the next batch. Back to the cutting board!


*How many searchers are going to be disappointed when they find a blog entry about sewn and crocheted bunnies when they were looking for a different breed of mansion residents entirely? Ha!