In Stitches July

Dear Finny,
I was looking through In Stitches last night and man if we haven’t already done a ton of projects! I am so proud of us. This group has come together to make some pretty incredible things. Bravo ladies!
I can’t wait to tackle the patchwork purse and the wallet. However, the dog-days of summer have arrived and I want a project that is easy and will make my life a bit more relaxing this time of year.

July In Stitches

July’s project is the bathroom caddy. The theme is luxury. Fill it with your favorite beauty products and tell us why they make you smile. And don’t forget to post your photo in the flickr pool by the end of the month so we can pick a winner. Anyone can participate! Fin, who is the winner for June?


Frida Stamps

For those who inquired about the Frida Kahlo rubber stamps I have been using — I bought them in Santa Fe at a small shop near the central square. They are from A Stamp in the Hand Co., in Carson, California.
I have also seen them in Bisbee, Ariz., at a small antique shop. Next time I head down there, I’ll put up a note for anyone who wants one (which seems like many of you! Isn’t Frida the best? Love her!)


Singing With my Singer

dinner anyone

Dear Finny,
How are you, my friend? Guess what? Yesterday, after thoroughly complaining I haven’t had enough time to be creative, I told myself enough was enough. Stop complaining and start doing. So, I cranked up the tunes, sat down at my sewing machine and completed a few wedding gifts. You know how you and Meg took plenty of time and thought into what fabric to select when creating your place mats and napkins for the June In Stitches theme? I, in lazy contrast, grabbed from the top of the pile and dug in. The JoAnn’s by my house recently had a moving sale and thankfully I had purchased several yards of lime cotton at a considerable discount. It nearly took as long to wash and press all the fabric for these as it did to sew these babies — my kind of project.

Limon inspired
June In Stitches

Voila — a summery dinner setting, which is being dropped in the mail today to celebrate a friend’s wedding. I am so glad I used canvas for the middle and back sections of these place mats. The extra weight is nice and they are durable. This couple has a young daughter, so I wanted something they could easily throw in the washing machine and use many times over without worrying about them falling apart. And yes, the trim is the same fabric I used for my May project. (And an Amy Butler Barcelona skirt that I was wearing when I posed with the donkey on Burro Street in Santa Fe. The Donks. Ha!) Are you sick of this fabric yet? Because I have a wee bit left and we’ve got five more months of projects.

martha tea towel apron

While I was being all crafty, I whipped up one last summer wedding gift. You know how Anna Wintour has her signature haircut? Jackie O had her signature sunglasses and style? Bush has his signature strategerie? Well — I now have a signature wedding gift — the basic apron that can be worn for either baking by the misses or grilling by the mister and my very favorite cookbook on earth:

my signature wedding gift

And with that, I wish you a very happy Friday, my friend. I miss you.


Gifting Season

June-July-August seem to be the best time of year for those I love to get married, have babies (or showers), graduate and be born. I’ve got celebrations galore to celebrate and lots and lots of fun crafting ahead of me.
These onesies are one of my new favorites. I watch the sales for onsies at Tarjay and scoop them up in bulk. Add a dash of Sublime Stitching magic and voila — and easy peasy baby gift. {A trick to embroidering on cotton: if you add a bit of iron-on interfacing on the back of your t-shirt before embroidering, your work will be more even. After the fact, cut another piece of interfacing the same size and iron it over the back of your work to sandwich in your work and keep it from fraying/coming out in the wash.}

fingers crossed for girls
patterned monkey

As for birthday presents, I’m giving one of my favorite gifts to receive: a new fun summer mix of music in a homemade card. Because nothing says Feliz Cumpleanos! like a dash of Frida and dia de los muertos skulls.

summer correspondence

I so love summer crafts that don’t make me cranky with their difficulty. Phoenix is cranky enough this time of year!



fabric from africa

I bought this fabric in Mozambique. It is wax-dyed and I’m pretty sure the prints are Nigerian. Nigeria has significant influence on the fabrics in southern Africa. That said? Most of the west African fabric producers now have their materials made in China. So, this American bought Chinese fabric with a Nigerian print in Mozambique. Ah, globalism.

I had dinner with two girlfriends the other day and rattled off the number of reasons I more than likely wouldn’t be able to see them again this summer. Work, freelance writing, church volunteering, traveling, training, etc. I heard myself and laughed. Ridiculous! If I’m too busy to spend time with people I love and if the quality of my work is dwindling, it is time to take a closer look at what’s on my schedule.
I’ve decided to cut myself some slack. So what if I don’t get that June assignment for In Stitches done this week? Finny will understand. It will get done when it gets done. It is supposed to be fun after all. And if I haven’t read your blog in a month, I apologize. That’s the last time I’m going to do so. I am cutting myself some slack, and at last count? I had 250-plus blogs I am trying to keep up with, which very well could be a full-time job in itself.
I decided on my commute home last tonight that I’m quitting one of my freelance gigs. I haven’t taken a look at my novel in months and that is nothing short of stupid. Which is more important? A monthly assignment that nearly always ends up being a pain in my side? Or a potential career that could be a gateway for my creativity and livelihood? It will take a bit of budgeting adjustment to make this work, but it is a good choice.
I haven’t felt caught up in forever and it is my own fault. I am hoping with a bit of prioritizing and focusing, I’ll have more time to do what I love most: write, be creative (as in do something with that fabric!) and spend time with those I love.
Thanks for hanging around during the transition,

Happy Hippies

I haven’t had my sewing machine out in a month. And it is way too hot to knit this time of year. So, more vacation photos it is!

sweetest dog ever

Bruno — one of our canine traveling companions this weekend. I just love this dog. He is so sweet and full of life.

view from the bridge in Grand Lake

It seems my brother has fished just about every stream in this area. Apparently he once caught a “big one” from this bridge.

warning! stickers!!

Warning! Lots of stickers!

close to winter park, colorado

I don’t know that you ever get used to this kind of beauty. Stunning!

Colorado Daisy

Happy hippie life, that Colorado.


Rocky Mountain High

I’m visiting my brother in Denver this weekend and simply put: we are having more fun than I can describe. There is something about being around my brother that makes me the most obnoxious, giggly girl on earth. We harass, tease and make each other laugh like nothing else. My abs hurt, and it isn’t from pilates. (Okay, maybe a little bit from pilates. Good Lord. Pretty sure it isn’t a coincidence that Pontius Pilate and pilates are in the same hellacious family, if you know what I mean.)

Siblings, Grand Lake, Colorado

Pretending like we like each other — Grand Lake, Colorado.

Back to Denver. He surprised me with a manicure and pedicure when I arrived, took me for Mexican food about a dozen times over, and today we met up with my friends Sheila and Charlie for a tour of the Rocky Mountains. We went to Golden, Boulder, Gramby, Grand Lake, etc. It was such a fun day. I love Colorado! Living in Arizona, you forget what the color green looks like this time of year. And my goodness, this state is so incredibly green. And incredibly me. It’s been 10 years since I’ve spent any time in Colorado and I’d forgotten how great this state is. The people are fit (especially in Golden and Boulder.)

Charlie and me

Charlie and I head up to the alpine slide.
Everyone here have great dogs and they take with them everywhere. (Seriously, I walked into a bar in Grand Lake — the Lariat — and there was a dog sitting at a bar stool.) Gardens. Hybrid cars. Women with gorgeous, long hair and no makeup. Men with beards that are sexy scruffy and not uni-bomber scary. Farmer’s markets. Bluegrass bands playing in squares using spoons and washboards and violins. Breweries on every corner. Peace bumper stickers. Random rock climbers escalating every valley. Class five rapids and kayakers tackling them every day. People everywhere outside, loving the earth and enjoying a beautiful summer day. I. LOVE. IT. HERE.

Instructions, minus what to do when stuck behind a

Rules. As if.
Today we went down the alpine slide in Winter Park. For $14, you ride the ski lift up to the mid-point of one of the mountains and use a tiny plastic to sled down a fiberglass slide to the bottom. Stupidly I got in the “advanced” slide line and ended up going last in our group. My brother and Charlie apparently thought I’d fallen off the slide because they were waiting at the bottom so long. I hadn’t. I was just, um, taking in the scenery, apparently way too slowly to be in the advanced slide lane. By the time I got to the bottom, I’d caused a minor traffic jam with seven other sliders behind me. Without realizing I was the one who caused the problem, a teenager walked by our group at the bottom of the slide telling his friend, “That sucked. I got stuck behind some moron going 2 miles per hour.”
Yep. I’m that moron. This was fuel to the fire for my brother and “one of his favorite stories ever.”

The perfect photo of Grand Lake

Grand Lake is one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been. Cute man? Check. Cute dog? Check. Boat? Check. Beautiful day? Giddyup.

Hope you are having a great weekend,

Working the Summer Bling

New bling

Diane made me this beautiful necklace. It looks so pretty with my favorite summer color to wear — turquoise. The charms read, “dream” and “inspire.” With tiny pearl beads by the clasp, and the certainty no African had his/her arm chopped off in the process, I’ve deemed it absolutely perfect bling. Ah, guilt free jewelry. As Martie would say, “It’s a good thing.”

I saw Jack Johnson in concert a couple of summers ago. He told this story about how growing up in Hawaii, he wasn’t as exposed to American culture as most kids. As an adult, when his also-sheltered parents listened to his music, he had to explain a lyric that included the word, “bling.” Later on, his mom heard some rapper using the same word and scoffed to her son, “He’s stolen your word!”


A Summer of Reds

My favorite summer foods are all red: tomatoes, strawberries and watermelon. Yum.

Recipes from yesterday’s post:
Phyllo Tomato Feta Tart
1 package of frozen phyllo dough, thawed
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
3-4 large tomatoes finely sliced, variety of your choice
1/2 cup of feta cheese
1 tablespoon of bay leaves
1 teaspoon of coarse salt

Line a standard size cookie sheet with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Carefully unroll your phyllo dough, taking care to separate the layers. I took 5 layers (or so) at a time and placed them on the cookie sheet. In between each of these sets of 5 layers, I used a pastry brush to coat the top layer with olive oil. Then I spread a fine layer of bread crumbs. Then I added the next 5 layers until the tart was the size I was looking for. Then I very carefully turned back the edges of each side of the tart, creating a lip like a pie crust. I dabbed these edges with more olive oil to hold them securely. Then I added my sliced tomatoes, feta, bay leaves, salt on top. I baked the tart for 10 minutes, turned the pan and then baked it for another 10 minutes. Remove from parchment paper and place on a cutting board or other serving dish. Yummy served cold or warm.

Spicy Cornbread Muffins
2 boxes of Jiffy Cornbread Mix (or you can use a good standard cornbread recipe)
1/8 cup of cayenne pepper (I like food a touch spicy!)
2 tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Make the cornbread mix as directed, but add cayenne, tomatoes and additional cornmeal. I like my cornbread dense and a bit gritty — hence the extra. If you like it otherwise, omit this. Fill cupcake tins 2/3 full. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake 10-12 minutes. Enjoy!

What is your favorite summer food?

Living In Between

summer cooking

I had a chance to catch up with myself this weekend. I went for a long morning ride through Ahwatukee Saturday morning, managing to return to do the hills a second time through for good measure. Just like running, it always takes me 20 minutes to find my groove. My muscles stretch out a bit, my cadence falls into the right place and my shoulders relax. The first morning light is my favorite time to be swimming, riding or running. There is such potential to a new day that starts with a heart-pounding workout while watching the sun rise.

tomato feta tart

I found some time in the kitchen too, which was also long overdue. A girlfriend decided to throw a tomato-themed dinner party. Her husband’s garden was overflowing with tomatoes and they didn’t know how they’d use all of them. I could have suggested making and freezing the best marinara recipe on earth, but instead I graciously accepted the invite and brought along a few tomato creations of my own:

phyllo dough tart

Phyllo tomato and feta tart

cheese, tomato corn muffins

Spicy cornbread muffins with diced tomatoes and cheddar cheese

Several of you have asked how I am feeling post-trip, and honestly — I’m doing great. There was some initial shock to my system, which is par for the course after two weeks in Africa. I’ll never be able to reconcile that the biggest news in Mozambique is poor families dying of HIV and the biggest news in the United States (in the same week, mind you) is Paris Hilton going to jail, being released from jail, and oh wait! There is the CNN helicopter again. She’s returned to jail.
Rather than throw my hands up and cry over such foolishness, instead I chose to celebrate the good. I took two friends to Mozambique who’d never been to Africa before. I know without a doubt, their friends and families are more connected to the issues of the poor abroad than ever before (as are mine).
As for those “stars” who can’t seem to get their DUI butts out of trouble, I highly recommend mandatory hard labor in an African orphanage (although I’m not sure I’d really want them around the kids.)

So, I’m not living in poverty. And I’m not returning to rehab for the third time before my 20th birthday. Life in this in between world is pretty darned good.