Increasing My Expectations

thank you Tempe Library

Book from Tempe Library — while it is a bit out of date, a couple of the ideas jumped out at me.

Yesterday, listened to this podcast last night and it made me smile, full of hope. Last night, I had a long conversation with my lovely roommate about the law of attraction and living abundantly. Then a friend emailed me this quote this morning, and I couldn’t help but laugh and nod in agreement:

“There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, ‘Yes, I’ve got dreams, of course I’ve got dreams.’ Then they put the box away and bring it out once in awhile to look in it, and yep, they’re still there. These are great dreams, but they never even get out of the box. It takes an uncommon amount of guts to put your dreams on the line, to hold them up and say, ‘How good or how bad am I?’ That’s where courage comes in.” — Erma Bombeck

floral table runner

Whig rose table runner. I want to learn to appliqué. What a great opportunity!

I had dinner with a friend this week who listened to me complain for a good five minutes about feeling like I’m in a rut. Afterward, he put down his margarita and said, “Jesus. That’s great. I’m glad to see that you are human.”


I get the feeling those who know me solely through this blog (and apparently a few friends too) think my life is all pink cupcakes with sprinkles and calorie-free icing. This site is my happy journal — it’s a place to share my creativity and cooking and vent about politics. It certainly isn’t an accurate representation of what happens in my daily life. Point being, no kidding I’m human. I have ruts. I just don’t enjoy complaining, especially when a solution isn’t readily apparent.

scrappy bunny

Quilt scrap bunny, anyone?

My expectations for life are increasing. I expect to be more challenged this year professionally. I expect to fall in love, madly. I expect to see a new country. I expect to spend wisely and pay off my remaining school debt. I expect to have time to be creative, and spend less time shopping and more time sewing. I expect to spend part of my summer backpacking through the forest. I expect to be published in many ways this year. I expect to spoil those I love and be spoiled in return. I expect to continuing working on my relationship with God. I expect to buy my very first house this year, including a back yard so I can finally get one of these. Or two. {Frida and Diego.} I expect improved leadership in my country and therefore I have expectations of peace internationally.

I expect to be happy, healthy and loved.


My goal is to read 40 books in 2008. I’m off to a chaotic start. The latest read was “Blue Clay People” by William Powers. I enjoyed his other book earlier this year and was excited to see my library carried this one. Four out of five bananas, absoloodle.
This book is about Liberia in 1999-2001 when President Charles Taylor was fine-tuning his abilities to see that the rain forest was cleared and the diamond mines emptied. (In all fairness, he did this to feed the diamond and timber hungry markets of the world, very much including my own American community.)The expense was a generation of Liberians — and their next door neighbors in Sierra Leone — who fought brutal wars, many of who survived with wicked drug habits and missing limbs.
Powers excerpts the following, which so accurately sums up my experiences as an expatriate:
“Like most people who go overseas to do development work, I did so expected to find out what it’s like to be poor…That ‘s not what happens. Instead you learn what it’s like to be rich, to be fabulously, incomprehensibly, bloated with wealth.”
— Mike Tidwell, “The Ponds of Kalambayi”

And this point from Powers’ book will remain with me for the rest of my life:
“There is a point called ‘enough.’ It is elusive, but it exists and Chief Wah, and many of Liberia’s simplest people know where it is, even if they slip below it during the hungry season, during the warring season. Enough is food, water, clean air and community. Enough is the rhythm of a talking drum under a moon that speaks to you through its light. Enough is listening to nature rather than dominating it. We in the West must relax and ratchet down to the joyful place called enough; many Liberians need to increase their well-being until we meet there, in a sustainable world.”

One last excerpt:
“I go into each new day looking at every person as a unique being capable of miracles; I look with wonder upon the healthy forests that still remain and draw strength from them; I am conscious of what I consume and try to bring my consumption into harmony with my vision of a just world. I attempt to find joy in living simply so that others (including other species) may simply live. I act as if a sustainable world were possible.”

Learning not to fulfill every need, living in the world of enough. It would be a beautiful thing.

Books in 2008:
1. Whispering in the Giant’s Ear
2. A Thousand Splendid Suns
3. Lipstick Jihad
4. The Island
5. A Year of Pleasures
6. Blue Clay People
7. Where God Was Born — currently reading


Impressive. And Ouch.

making his italian heritage proud

My neighbor John was coaxed into cooking dinner this weekend by my roommate. I invited another friend along, as did he. The five of us sat down last night to an Italian feast John had spent all day cooking.
{Sweet man. He started before 8 am and was still working furiously when we arrived at 6 pm.}

John's polenta

You know your friends are trying to impress you when they make polenta, ziti in vodka sauce, chocolate-dipped pistachio cranberry biscotti and bring three bottles of Shiraz. There were only five of us.
(Yes, my pants are a little tight and my head hurts this morning. You must have ESPN.)

biscotti, red wine and polenta

For the record, I brought cake. It was yummy. A cup of sour cream added to any chocolate cake mix produces the most divine results. I throw in a dash of cardamom and then sprinkle cinnamon on top when it comes out of the oven.

Caramom on the inside, cinnamon on the outside.

We ate like Italian kings, making John’s heritage proud. Thank God Alma doesn’t make biscotti regularly. I would be 400 pounds.


On Writing: Editing a Novel

new hair

The Case of the Missing Ponytail

It took me three years to complete a rough draft of my first novel, much of which I wrote under duress during a wicked breakup. Hot off the press, I sent the first copy to my father. {My dad has always been my writing inspiration, my biggest literary cheerleader. While I love my mom, to this day she hasn’t read the book. “I read a couple pages and keep falling asleep!” Unless I’m planning on marketing this to insomniacs, let’s hope for better reviews.}
I’ve since sent it to many other friends and it was resoundingly decided that the ending “sucked.” And there was a character no one understood. And what about that one guy in the hospital and where did he end up going?
There were holes in the plot and in this fragile time of life I wasn’t ready for criticism. My skin was thin and I just wanted everyone to tell me how I was a literary genius at the ripe age of 25! No dice.
Like everything else in life, success in writing was going to come from heaps of work and dedication. I re-read the story, made a few minor changes — insisting my ending was realistic and perfect! — and sent it off to agents far and wide. The rejection letters promptly started arriving and I cried. Oh, how I cried.
Then I found an agent who was willing to read it. Better yet, he wanted to talk about it. Bob talked for hours — two hours actually. I listened, taking detailed notes for the first hour. I cleaned the house during the second. He hated the ending too, but he loved the characters. We’d never met, he hadn’t read my blog, he didn’t know my story. Yet, as he spoke, I felt like he truly understood my vision. He knew me because he knew my art and that was a powerful feeling I’d never before experienced. It made me more optimistic and hopeful than I’d been in a long time. With a list of edits, and a much better ending, he said this could be published.
Six months later, I pulled out those notes and began the tedious process of changing significant characters and part of the plot. I am about a quarter of the way finished and I find this work exhausting in the best sense. It pushes me creatively and I look forward to the hour here and there I can grab to write, edit and read. That said, holy moly do I wish this book was ready for print. I really want to start writing the next story. I’m doubly motivated because it dawned on me this week — what if I’ve let so much time pass Bob no longer wants to help? Then what?
Oprah, now is the time to delurk.


Next Week: More Chairs

community dinner, round 3

Community dinner #3 went off last night without a hitch. Actually, I think it was the most fun yet. I set up a create-your-own pizza and salad buffet and everyone made their own plate on their own schedule. It took a couple hours to prep the plates and bake yet another batch of gingersnaps, but it was well worth the effort.

pizza and salad stations, pre-crowd
grilled chicken and turkey pepperoni
mmm... cheese
bbq chicken p

BBQ chicken pizza, made at home with spices Finny brought me from Rome. Add a bit of pineapple and I’m in pizza heaven.

The only hitch is my home is too small to accommodate the growing crowd. I had two offers last night to bring more chairs next week and my friend Carl even suggested we have the dinner at his house. {A sneaky way to get me to make him dinner without him having to drive over, me thinks.} Yet another fun night shared with friends.

you say ginger, i say snap
Ginger! Snap!

I am living a sweet life.


Eggs, Toast and a Cup of Joe

Not Even a Glimpse of Hillary Pie

4 eggs, whisked in a large bowl
1 cup milk
1 cup of cheese — I used a mix of feta and cheddar
veggies of your liking — I used asparagas, broccoli and spinach that I steamed beforehand and a tomato for garnish
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of olive oil
dash of salt, pepper
Pie crust of your liking. For the pie I used frozen phyllo I had in the freezer. For the mini quiche, I used a pie crust I made at Christmas and had lfrozen, left-over.

Heat the oven to 375. Grease your pie plate or cupcake tin. Make sure your pie crust is thawed and place in plate. If you are using a basic pie crust recipe for the mini quiche, take a small ball of pastry and smush it into the bottom of the greased tin.

In a saucepan, heat your oil and add your minced garlic and onion. Cook 7-10 minutes, until translucent. Add other vegetables and 1/2 of cheese, until thoroughly mixed. Add your milk to the whisked eggs. Add a dash of salt and pepper to the egg/milk mixture. Then pour veggies into this bowl and mix thoroughly. Pour into pie crust. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and add a tomato for garnish, if so desired. Bake 40-50 minutes — until eggs are golden and your kitchen smells like breakfast nirvana.


Holy hell. I saw “There Will Be Blood” last night and it is really good. The acting is superb. Daniel Day Lewis is so creepy and enchanting. Paul Dano, the icky brother from “Little Miss Sunshine,” is absurdly believeable. It is a violent, but great flick. I liked the storyline of “No Country for Old Men” better; it was more intriguing. However, the acting in “There Will Be Blood” is unreal. Five out of five bananas, absoloodle.

Cup of Joe:

Need a great book? Pick up, A Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg. If I could jump into this book and live with the characters, I would in a heartbeat. Sweet, charming, great read. Four out of five bananas.


Not Even A Glimpse of Hillary Pie*


Last night I decided to drive to Ceasar Chavez High School to hear Hillary speak.The high school is only a 12 mile straight shot west from my house, but with the rally traffic it took more than an hour to get there. Finally fed up with yet another hour of my life wasted behind the wheel, I pulled over and decided to walk the rest of the way. I could see the high school football stadium lights; I guessed I was within a mile.
This high school sits in an odd area of Phoenix. Plopped at the northern base of South Mountain, nearby flower fields and farms were recently razed and giant stucco monstrosities were planted in their place. This new suburbia crashes into the pre-existing rough neighborhood once you cross Central Ave. Then, oddly enough, the high school is surrounded by large dairy farms that have fought back developers and keep on a planting in the midst of a sprawling city.
As I got out of my car to walk toward the rally, a man parked his car at the same time and got my attention.
“You going to hear Hillary speak?”
“Yes,” I replied, noticing the full moon was the only light on an otherwise dark side street. The dairies’ thick earthy perfume clung to the night air and I tried not to look at the graffiti surrounding me. “Do you want to walk together?” I asked a bit more meekly, thinking even walking with a total stranger would be safer. “It would probably be a better move.”
By now “Charlie” was out of his car. Dressed in a red, white and blue tracksuit, he looked me up one side and down the other and said, “Honey, I’d be fine out here. But someone’d want a piece of you.”
As we walked, Charlie told me about how he didn’t care for Obama, even though as a black man he thought he should. He also told me how he was a Bush supporter and he was just attending the rally for the historical context. I started to argue with him, but caught my breath when we walked under a street light and I realized Charlie was wearing lipstick. Bright pink lipstick. I hadn’t seen his face clearly until now and I had to stifle a laugh.
I walked into a Hillary rally with the only known transvestite Bush supporter on earth. The fact I didn’t even get to see Hillary because — as the traffic predicted — I was way too late to get a seat, didn’t matter. Meeting a republican tranny was worth all the driving. When we walked back to our cars, he shook my hand and said, “See you around Kelli!” I thought, “Where? The Lancome counter?”

Deep dish pie -- it's what's for breakfast

In other news, today is National Pie Day. Why do I know this? Because I subscribe to Country Living and hunt out opportunities to have any reason to bake. I took the opportunity to make veggie quiche in phyllo dough for my staff and mini quiche for friends.

eggie goodness
hot from the oven
pie crust on the bottom

Here’s hoping you get a slice of something sweet today too!


*Inspired by Waitress.

Modern Dreaming

Yesterday, we celebrated the life of Martin Luther King Jr., one of our country’s greatest leaders. I’m in no way a civil right scholar, but I would say if Dr. King were alive today, his dreams would probably include the following:

~ A dream of looking past gender and race when discussing candidates in any election, especially the presidency.

~ A dream that Americans wake up to the world’s needs — we need to take a good look around the globe to see how our insatiable hunger for oil and consumable goods is putting millions of lives in peril.

~ A dream that we extend a hand in peace and try to be gracious and kind always.

~ A dream that we rekindle our relationship with faith and in turn, treat our bodies, our land and our communities with greater respect.

~A dream that we work together to prevent these sorts of tragedies from continuing.

Call me naive, stupid to the world’s ways, silly or whatever you’d like — but I believe I will help see some of these issues through. Happily, I’m a dreamer.