Dorothy -- aka my funny mama

My mom dressed as Dorothy last year and I’ve been saving this priceless photo since. She spent days working on this costume, including painting and glittering ruby red slippers. The stuffed Toto — which is white because our family dog is white — came from her collection of stuffed animals. Don’t ask.
A couple of things:
1. Obviously my mom is a pretty good sport, and;
2. The tendency to go overboard with any opportunity to dress to a theme is apparently genetic.

Happy Halloween!

Back in the Swing of Things

I took yesterday off and spent most of the day on the couch. I went through my unwieldy Domestic Bliss folder and got myself organized in the recipe and pattern departments. It was a task I’d been meaning to do for a long time. Yesterday all I wanted to do was sit — so it worked out perfectly.
I also found a couple of patterns I’d been wanting to try. First, this triangulated zipper pouch tutorial from Craftster.

triangle zipper pouch, front

In theory, it is perfect. It gives depth to your pouch and the tutorial is well written. However, it is tiny. Next time I’ll double the dimensions to make this a more useful size.

bottom of triangle zipper pouch

I also tried that plastic fusing tutorial that’s been receiving rave reviews. It takes a bit of practice figuring out the right heat and timing, but the result is pretty cool. I’ve had a bag idea floating around my head for about a month and I plan on using this for the lining. I need to sit down with my journal and put my ideas into workable sketches.

On a completely different note, saw Lars and the Real Girl last night. I am torn on whether to recommend this movie; Ryan Gosling is so, so good. However, it is one of those movies that makes you incredibly uncomfortable to watch. I felt the same way watching Robin Williams in One Hour Photo. If you are a Ryan fan, I say go for it. If you are looking for an odd, off beat film that is sweet, it is worth the money. If peculiar films aren’t your thing — steer clear. Three out of five bananas, absoloodle.


Race in Photos

My friend Amanda was out at the race from 6 am to 4 pm, rooting me on at every turn and taking some fantastic photos. She really captured the day:

pre-race prayer
No wetsuit -- no problem
Off for the bike
my neck and back hurt after 56 miles
1800 bikes and gear
half-way through the run
finish line in sight
woo hoo
saving this medal forever

And the celebratory margarita:

Celebratory post-race margarita

And that is the last tri post for a while, I promise. Thank you again for all your kind words. Soon we will return to our previously scheduled crafting/cooking/political ranting.


Tall Ironwoman, hold the half

I finished! In 7 hours flat, I finished the 1/2 ironman this afternoon. It was — gasp — actually much easier than I thought it was going to be. Don’t get me wrong, there was a considerable amount of walking toward the end, but my brother jumped in (wearing flip flops no less) and kept me company for the last 3 miles. It was incredible. And when I saw the finish line, I let out a little shout of joy that couldn’t have been more sincere.
The number of people I had out there cheering for me was impressive. Several other competitors mentioned my cheer squad. I really am one of the luckiest people; I am surrounded by great friends.
I can’t wait to do a full Ironman. 2009, Tempe. That’s the plan. Tomorrow may be another story.
I’ll post photos soon. Thank you again!!


On Your Marks

decorated office

I came in this morning to a decorated office and an email box full of good luck wishes for this weekend’s race. To say the least, I am excited. I’m a bit nervous because this is such a new experience, but also confident that I am well prepared for the challenge.
It has been a year of crazy, clutzy training. A year during which friends lent me their husbands for long weekend bike rides so I wouldn’t be out there talking to myself. A year of understanding coworkers who smiled as I hobbled around a flexed schedule and came in late after a 10-mile morning run. A year with a friend who patiently taught me how to maintain a bike, even a bike as temperamental as that sassy Ruby. A year when friends nodded and waved me away at 7 pm from countless happy hours and dinners. Needless to say, I haven’t gotten here alone.
Tri-training routines are certainly counter-cultural. I haven’t been the life of the party, but I have often been the first one to the gym. My priorities shifted sometime in the last year, making a great night sleep, a post-workout massage and a box of Clif Shot Blocks exceptionally valuable.
When the going gets tough out there, I’ve already got my visualization tools in mind. I’ll think of Lance Armstrong, when he returned for his opponent who’d fallen — a fantastic sign of sportsmanship. I’ll think of the triathlete father who accomplishes these races with his autistic son in tow. He doesn’t want his son to miss out on the opportunity. I’ll think of Rex, my running buddy. He survived cancer and is now out on the canals running again.
Come Sunday when I cross that finish line, I know I’ll be able to say regardless of my time that I gave every bit of me to this race. Hopefully I’ll also be smiling and plotting the next competition.

A shout out to everyone who has read these posts and cheered me along this year. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for your kind words!

Now, off to conquer 70.3 miles…


Being Green for Less Brown

bus survival pouch

One of my closest girlfriends is now living back in Seattle and is taking public transport to work. To applaud her green behavior and to celebrate her recent birthday, I put together a bus survival kit.

Bus survival kit supplies

Now that the weather is cooling off, and I’ll soon have more time on my hands, I’m hoping to start riding my bike to work at least one day a week. It is 19 miles (mostly through questionable areas of town) from my house to work. I’m thinking I’ll go on a test ride one weekend before making the commitment. Between working from home one day a week and riding in one day a week, I hope to help ease the brown cloud that blankets the Valley come winter. If the weather is dreary, or if it is just too dark to get on the roadbike, I am going to start taking the bus.
Changing this behavior initially is going to be hard; it is just so comfortable to drive in to work in my own car, with the stereo blasting and the sunroof open. (Not to mention, as far as I know, the express bus doesn’t swing through the bagel shop before hitting the highway.)
But it is selfish and I’ve got to support current public transport to encourage improvements. Plus, I am not a nice person behind the wheel. I suffer from more than a touch of road rage and removing this stress from my life will benefit all East Valley commuters. Then there is the commuting time to knit, read, journal…


Beauty in Madness

amy butler scraps

Jenn emailed me a while back and asked if I’d be interested in helping with a rag rug project she was starting to benefit families working with Heifer International.
Heifer is one of those non-profits I would drop just about everything for to help. Their mission is incredible; I worked with them when I was in the Peace Corps and saw first hand how sustainable, effective agricultural projects can work wonders to improve the health and well-being of the poor. Crafting for an organization I believe in? Sign me up.

green scraps

I spent months thinking about this rug and what I wanted it to say. Ultimately, I decided after going through my scraps to sew a Zakka-inspired kitchen rug instead of braiding a rag rug. A friend sent me a large package of Amy Butler fabric scraps a while back, some of which were already patchwork. I couldn’t resist the urge to make this project bright, colorful and green by using what I had.

pink scraps
amy butler patchwork kitchen rug
patchwork rug
patchwork rug, cropped
back of patchwork rug

I like that the rug is imperfect. There is a zig zag stitch here and there, it isn’t square or rectangular and the colors are wild. Aren’t families and homes the same? We build them slowly and rarely do they fit a Pottery Barn catalog image. Regardless, there is beauty in the madness of patchwork homes and I hope the family who receives this knows it was made with love.


Good Times Ahead

birthday flowers

Birthday flowers from Finny. Did she know sunflowers are one of my favorites? She knew these would make my day and they did.

I know I ramble quite a bit about how lucky I am, but it truly caught up with me this weekend. First, thank you very much to everyone who left a sweet note about my birthday. To be honest, birthdays make me squirm. I’m great at giving gifts, but needed two glasses of wine (Hello, wagon: time to fall off.) to be comfortable enough to open gifts in front of my closest friends at dinner. I’m not sure what that is all about, but apparently I’ve got some social awkwardness issues.

giant pumpkin cake

This week’s pumpkin cake in a pumpkin pan! Isn’t it awesome? Seriously, Finn knows me. And the bagel shop boys love her too. They wolfed this down this morning.
Then my parents called first thing Sunday morning from Texas and just hearing my dad’s voice sent me into an adolescent crying fit. I sobbed. I cried harder than I have in a long time and my parents were pretty convinced something had gone horribly wrong in Tempe. I’d simply misplaced my coping skills. And then I started crying harder when I realized how upset I had made them. I really miss my family — another topic I’ve beaten to death around here — but holidays make that all come bubbling to the surface. I heard his voice saying, “Happy Birthday, Pumpkin” and was transported to our small kitchen table, sitting in front of my mom’s amazing chocolate birthday bundt cake with a pink candle on top, with birthday presents wrapped in the funny pages surrounding me. In reality, I was standing in my bedroom on my cell phone trying to catch my breath between wails.

new stamps

New fun stamps for a Fall card project I’ve got in mind.
Sometimes emotion catches me completely by surprise; I’ve definitely got a bit of delayed emotion disorder too. I’m one of those ever-so-fun friends who realizes a couple days later that ‘Hey! You totally made me mad when you said XYZ last week.’ I often recognize that I’m not feeling great, but can’t put my finger immediately on the cause. Yet another thing to work on, but I am getting better.

elephant tile, perfect

A little elephant luck added to my bedroom Africa wall.
Back to the luck — my girlfriends who I’ve grown up with, the Ya Yas — are pretty much the most amazing group you can imagine. They know me better than I know myself most days. I have a feeling they knew I’d be especially family sick this weekend and they over-scheduled my every second with parties, lunches, movies, and shopping to keep my mind off of things. They surrounded me and made me feel loved, as did many, many others.
If that isn’t luck, I’m not sure what is. I am so blessed!
Here is to another great week!


P.S Darjeeling Limited? Fabulous movie. I’m convinced Wes Anderson and I would be great friends. And Adrien Brody is the epitome of the goofball hottie. The guy that gets the hot girl for his quirkiness, not his biceps.

Another Candle

Self Portrait

In the next 28 years, I will:

1. Climb Kilimanjaro
2. Compete in an Ironman
3. Visit Paris
4. Learn to scuba
5. Adopt a giant dog at the pound
6. Name that dog Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis D.
7. Adopt an African baby
8. Plant a successful vegetable garden
9. Have chickens
10. Sit on Oprah’s couch
11. Publish lots of novels
12. Publish photos
13. Run for office
14. Get married, have a couple wee ones
15. Run my own non-profit
16. Give money to my high school and college
17. Learn to bake a great loaf of bread
18. See Rio de Janeiro
19. Understand the opposite sex, or at least keep trying
20. Grow my hair hippie-long
21. Smile more, look at mirrors less
22. Try to understand poetry
23. Walk more than I drive
24. Learn to mountain bike
25. Learn to taste the differences in wine
26. Kayak
27. Knit a sweater someone wants to wear
28. Be kinder to myself and the earth

Home on the Range


I visited a guest ranch yesterday for a new freelance article I’m writing. Being outside in the cooling fall weather, being around animals, being in the desert — it was a perfect day. I love to ride. I’ll have to ditch my Birks for some boots next time I head out so I can actually giddyup.

hanging out at the corral

A few things I am particularly thankful for today:
~ Health insurance. I know I’m lucky to have it and I’ve had a pricey medical week (*updated because I made this sound way too dramatic* — for regular check up visits) that would have been outrageous without coverage.
~ Yoga. I’ve been taking more classes to figure out which style is my favorite and in truth, I like them all. Kinda like bagels. And tequila.
~ Trouser jeans. Dressy enough for time at the office Friday, but comfy.
~ Taper weeks. Taking this bit of time to stretch, relax and sleep a bit more is doing my body worlds of good.
~ Annie Lennox. I watched her on Charlie Rose this week and she is stunning, creative and I can’t wait to get her new album.

western saddle

Happy Friday y’all.
~Cowgirl in Training