11–20 of 26 entries from the month of: May 2008

Just Sign the Bill, Mr. President!

May 20th

Duncan Farms, May 2008 47

You may have heard of the Farm Bill; it’s been in the American news a bunch lately. Last week the Senate approved it by a large margin. The House passed it a day earlier. Today it is supposed to reach President Bush’s desk, where it is anticipated he will use his trusty veto. Thankfully, it seems Congress has enough votes to overturn his veto if that occurs.
I won’t get into the specifics of the politics behind keeping or vetoing this bill from the President’s perspective (or reported perspective), but I will say that as a relatively new advocate in the food banking community, I am so relieved this bill has finally made its way through Congress and will be soon funded. It is controversial. There are subsidies for the farming industry that don’t make sense, but there is a silver lining that does.

Duncan Farms, May 2008 33

In a nutshell, this legislation influences every single American’s life. It addresses food prices (expected to jump 5% this year) by increasing nutritional programs by more than $10 billion. This helps get more food in food pantries and more people who qualify for food stamps enrolled. This isn’t socialism by any means; if there is anyone who advocates for the community — not the government — to be responsible for helping the needy, it’s me. However, there are gaps in that philosophy that I’m not solving anytime soon and this funding will help in the meantime.

It also helps make sure that senior citizens — many of whom are homebound — get fresh fruits and vegetables. The majority of those Arizonans (80,000) who go hungry each day are children and the elderly. That makes me a bit sick to my stomach.

Duncan Farms, May 2008 22

This morning I volunteered to take photos of a gleaning project in the far West Valley. Talk about collaboration — prisoners from the nearby facility are used as volunteers to pick crops from fields donated by a local farm. Duncan Farms has certain fields it plants and then sets aside for food banks state-wide. Today these ladies picked cabbage, which will be sent to food banks this afternoon and hopefully placed in food boxes for anyone in need tonight. My favorite part about this gleaning system is that there is little waste. A lot of the produce within this program would otherwise end up in a landfill and there is nothing more disgusting to me than the fattest nation in the world throwing away food. As one of my colleagues said yesterday, “Hunger in America isn’t a supply issue; it is a distribution issue.”

Duncan Farms, May 2008 21

If you want to reduce the food waste in your community, check out this blog. And if you’d like to see what the average American family throws away each month, take a deep breath and then click here.

If you are interested in helping your local food pantry, the best items to donate are: canned meat, canned fruits and veggies, peanut butter and juice in containers that won’t break.

On a side note, if you are ever feeling a bit unfeminine, spend your morning with a bunch of female inmates in a sweaty, dirty, hot, farm field. You’ll skip away feeling like the most delicate, fragile ballerina to ever get her slippers dusty.


Posted in
Arizona, Community, Journal, Politico, Reduce
Comments (17)

30 in Pink

May 19th

make a wish

Yesterday we celebrated Mini’s 30th with an afternoon party at Rebecca and Matt’s house. The food was entirely appetizers — a collection of Mini’s favorites, including bean dip, pesto, sushi, hummus, cake, cupcakes, bean dip and did I mention the bean dip? There was also a margarita machine and about 10,000 types of wine. It was a fun, gluttonous afternoon but the hands down favorite of the buffet table were the red velvet cupcakes from Sugar Blossom. Have you had one of Melati’s creations yet? If not, splurge. You won’t regret it. Everyone raved how good they were and I had to answer roughly 500 times that no, in fact I did not bake them. I bought them. See how smart I am!

Mini reacts to childhood photo
amy butler birdie sling, mini 30th birthday

The party also provided the perfect opportunity for a new pattern review. Amy Butler’s birdie sling is cut and dry. The directions are clear and I like the construction, especially the handle.

birdie bag, pleats
birdie bag, peek at bee pockets

However, the next time I make this I will forgo the double-sided pockets and the interfacing. I get better results with canvas. I’ll also do one less pleat on either side. I would like the opening to be a bit wider. I plan on sewing two more of these this week, including a fun summer bag for moi — to hold my cupcakes, of course.
Happy Monday Peeps,

Posted in
Community, Domestic Art, Journal, June Cleaver
Comments (14)

Season Closer

May 16th

Mexican meatloaf

Last night was the final community dinner of the Spring season. I hope to resume in the Fall when I’m in a new, larger house where half the crowd doesn’t have to sit outside on the patio furniture.

disappearing mexican meatloaf

We had my mom’s Mexican meatloaf. I added a layer of Hatch chiles through the center and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thrilled to have leftovers for this weekend. A cold meatloaf sandwich is pretty close culinary heaven in my book, and no I do not have a mullet.

buttermilk biscuits
steamed veggies

We also had buttermilk biscuits (which I added way too much baking powder to on accident. Woopsie. Baking power does not equal baking soda), steamed veggies, salad, strawberry pie and chocolate chip cookies.

My friend Spence
community dinner crowd, may 15

Spence entertains the crowd. This summer will be his 30th trip to Africa.
There was a steady flow of beer and wine and Spence — my friend from Colorado who is also my Africa travel saint for this summer — brought his iPod with a pretty incredible collection of jazz. It was a lovely night!

a dash of summer


P.S. If you have t-shirts you’d like to mail for the Peace t-shirt project, please do! There is still plenty of room. Thanks again!

Posted in
Community, Journal, Kitchen Talk, Recipes
Comments (13)

Wish I Could Turn Off My Inner Nag

May 14th

stacking up

Just for a second, I wish I could turn of my conscience. I’m not talking about the Holy Spirit or my mother’s voice — which schizophrenically I also hear on occasion. Or even my internal critic who has been piping up way to often lately. (As Annie Lamott would say, it is time stop listening to KFUCKED and turn on something more pleasant, such as KROCKS.)
If I could just temporarily walk away from what is right and wrong for a second, do you know what I’d let myself do? Steal this shirt.

wrong to steal a shirt for charity?

Meegan sent it as part of the Peace T-Shirt project and it is handmade, includes fabric that looks quite African, is soft and I’m pretty sure would fit me perfectly. It is wrong to steal and quadruply wrong to do so when charity is involved. So, I won’t steal, but I will covet. I will hand it out in Nicaragua or Mozambique with a smile and meekly remember I have an entire closet of clothes and I shouldn’t be such a selfish little t-shirt grub.

handmade shirts from Meegan

On a more positive note: my goodness, the t-shirts are rolling in. Stacks of them are arriving at my mailbox and the mailman has joked with me more than once that I certainly receive a suspicious amount of foreign mail. Hopefully he doesn’t have a Bat phone to this crazy administration we are under or you never know — I could be locked up Rovian-style without any rights. Then again, you know what would look pretty appropriate behind bars? This cute stripy t-shirt.

really want this one

Thanks to all who are sending in shirts. I’m going to have more than I can take, more than likely. It is certainly one of those weeks where I pinch myself because I’m blessed beyond belief.

that's the idea
little explorers
cannot wait to use this at the orphanage
message received

Peace. Love. Pink onsies. Theft. Hmm…


Posted in
CAOK, Community, Good to Great, Journal, Travel
Comments (14)

Spicy Squash Dip

May 13th

africankelli apron #4

One butternut squash/acorn squash/root veggie of your choice
2-4 cloves of garlic
dash of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons horseradish
dash of salt, pepper, garlic powder
Olive oil

Cut the squash in half, remove seeds. Fill cavity with garlic and brush squash with olive oil. Carefully flip over on a cookie sheet, flesh down. Roast at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Remove and let cool for 30 minutes.
Scoop out squash and garlic from shell and place in a blender with all other ingredients. Pulse for 20 seconds. Great with pita or veggies. Can be served warm or cold.


Posted in
Domestic Art, Journal, Kitchen Talk
Comments (6)

The Weekend in a Dozen

May 12th

I’m cheating a bit for this month’s 12-of-12 challenge by posting my photos today, on the 12th, rather than tomorrow. I had such a great and busy weekend, I figured I could sum it up in a dozen shots instead of bouncing around with my camera today.


Ruby's computer

The SheRox tri was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the race and it was definitely worth the $85. Tempe Town Lake is warm (74) and the course was well marked. I was impressed with the organization and will do this sprint tri again. Alma completed it and it was her first tri. I was beaming, I was so proud of her.

this week's fruit -- not local, i know

Groceries. I love apples. I cringe at the fact that these aren’t local, but they are organic and they are from the US. The Chilean apples looked prettier, but my fruit shouldn’t need a passport.

purcahsed for $3 at the Tempe Library

The Tempe Library is so fabulous. Not only do they sell books on the cheap — this stack cost $3 — but they also have a great cafe and selection of audio books and DVDs.

buying these always makes me feel wt

Supplies for another loaf of no knead bread. There is something about buying one giant can of beer that makes me feel a bit like I should be calling my third cousin for a date this Friday. But then I have some of this warm bread and the whiskey tango feeling disappears around slice three.

apron loop

Africankelli Apron #4 completed; #5 is on my kitchen table ready to be completed this afternoon.


gramma j, 74th birthday

Mama’s day and my British Grannie’s 74th birthday. There was the mandatory visit, along with some beer bread (see above) and brownies. She was tickled.

reversible pintucked table runner with matching cloth napkins, jackie

More sewing — a pintucked, reversible table runner for my psuedo Arizona mom Jackie. Jackie is Rebecca’s mom and their family have me over for dinner every Sunday. They are pretty incredible folk.

table runner for jackie, wrapped and ready

Wrapped and ready to be delivered. I stole Finny’s idea for photo cards a while back. I print my favorite photos at Costco and glue them down to some cardstock. They come in handy for just about any occasion.

squash, garlic roasted

Shelley, Bec’s eldest sister, wanted this butternut squash spicy dip I make. It isn’t my favorite, but the squash looks so pretty all roasted and rested on the cookie sheet.

pretty pita shot

Pita for the dip. I make my own pita chips because they are less expensive and healthier. I buy a package of pitas and cut them up and toast them in the oven. Voila — chips without the frying.

Irish soda bread muffins, bon appetit, june 2008

Irish soda bread muffins for her other sister, Christy. This recipe is from the June issue of Bon Appetit and is excellent.

Cody and Four Peaks

And the random drink with my brother, who happened to be in Phoenix for 24-hours to see some friends. It is always nice to spend time with him. I miss him like it is my job.

There was some bowling, napping, church-going, and a fair amount of NPR listening in there too. A great weekend indeed!

Posted in
Domestic Art, Journal, Kitchen Talk, Photography, Triathlon
Comments (18)

My Own Little Nonprofit

May 11th

D-ring, mastered
Norwegian detail

The apron business is going well. I know that if I had gobs more time to make a dozen of these to distribute to my favorite coffee haunts, I’d sell them like hot cakes. Thankfully, my friend’s orders are keeping me hopping for the time being. One of the bagel boys recently ordered two aprons for Mother’s Day — one for his Norweigan mama.

Dah. The Apron. Dah. Eeets from from Norway. Dah.

I hit the fabric store yesterday for some new supplies. While I’m making a tidy $50 per apron, I spent $65 on new fabric without batting an eyelash, using two coupons. Needless to say, it is a good thing I’m not in charge of the finances at work, or we’d really be a nonprofit. That said, you can’t put a price on finding a bolt of fabric that immediately inspires. I’m going to be sewinging up a storm for the next few weeks before I leave for the great summer of travel. Totes, book covers, travel supplies…

New supplies for the apron buisness
New fabric from JoAnn's

A business woman I’m not,

Posted in
Domestic Art, Journal, June Cleaver
Comments (13)

Cashmere Quiets Crankiness

May 9th

grand canyon 030

I got home this week to a FedEx package on my door full of yarn from my best friend’s husband. Truly. He was out shopping when she was here visiting recently and noticed a yarn store in Seattle the three of us had walked by years prior. Thinking of Emily and me in Phoenix, he went inside and “picked out the softest yarn I could find. I figured you’d like it.”

grand canyon 033

Like it. I nearly sat down in tears. I swear John and Emily’s generosity knows no bounds. These are the same pair that took me to Costa Rica for Thanksgiving. I’m not sure what I did to earn their friendship, but I am blessed beyond belief.

grand canyon 031

I’m not sure what this yarn will be used for, but I can tell you distinctly what it will not be used for: nudu caps. Alas, the last two I made (for the same man who claimed he didn’t receive the first) were never paid for. I actually managed to lose money in the deal thanks to taking his word that he’d pay the remaining fee. Instead, this minister from Joliet, IL refuses to return my email now and it makes me cranky. I hate being taken advantage of more than anything else. I considered posting his email address or the photo he emailed me of himself “to best match my skintone,” but it is just too petty. Instead, no more nudu for anyone who doesn’t pay the entire fee beforehand.

Now, back to the crafting table with my new baggie of supplies…
Happy Friday indeed!

Posted in
CAOK, Journal
Comments (31)

Northern Exposure

May 8th

Alma sees the Grand Canyon for the first time

Even though Alma grew up in Arizona, she’d never been to Flagstaff or the Grand Canyon until today. I know. Seriously! Flagstaff is one of my favorite places on earth. I would love to live there again one day. And it wasn’t until I was living in Flag and studying at NAU that Amanda took me to the Grand Canyon for the first time. (My mom always told us as children it was “just a big hole in the ground.” With all due respect, mama couldn’t be more wrong on this one.)

Breakfast at Bellavia
She is more excited to overhear the French group out of sight
An average of 12 people die each year

We started the morning with a 5 am departure from Tempe, a 8 am appointment with some killer blueberry Swedish pancakes at La Bellavia in Flagstaff and some strong coffee during the 150-mile route in between. By 10 am we were at the South Rim, walking, gaping and people watching. After hitting the IMAX show, Flagstaff for some afternoon shopping and lunch at Crystal Creek, we were back in the Valley by 6 pm. A full, happy day indeed.

Alma and I rock the GC
My hat is off, Mama Nature
The Orpheum Theater
Best lunch in Flagstaff

The big hole in the ground is in fact a giant, breath taking sight to see. After arriving and watching Alma’s reaction to this wonder of the world, I sat down on rock to give thanks and be mindful of the experience. Large black hawks enjoying the cool, breezy currents above, circled and swooped. Pine trees rustled in the same temperate wind. Squirrels appeared occasionally, schizophrenic with desire. Beg for a treat? Run away, startled by the constant foot traffic and occasional dog? Noisy tourist buses arrived with their gray diesel disturbing an otherwise pristine view. Visitors from dozens of countries gawked in their native tongues, but their awe was universal. And the grand dame herself, with colors ranging from the palest yellow to the darkest indigo and every shade in between. She was spectacular, worthy of the bravado, and even the $3.60 a gallon gas for the 400-mile road trip.

Pretty in a gazillion ways

I love this Grand Canyon State.

Posted in
Arizona, Journal, Photography, Travel
Comments (26)

A Tree Grows in Phoenix

May 7th

red summer geraniums, Casa Luna

I’m swimming in work this week and not spending much time behind the Singer or skillet, so I thought I’d instead share a few new environmental resources for Arizonans who may be interested.

– For those on SRP time of use plan, May 1 was the kickoff for the new “on peak” energy hours. I’ve used this plan for quite a while and it saves me boatloads of money, especially in the summer with air conditioning bills. For example, my May bill is less than $35. Granted, my home is tiny, but incorporating a few of their energy saving tips has saved me green.

– SRP is also offering a new tree planting program. For $3 a month you can plant 72 Ponderosa pines in Arizona. Your donation is matched by SRP and the trees will be planted to offset our carbon use. The 72 trees are equivalent to the offsetting of 26 typical households. Giddyup.

– Urban gardeners, there is a fantastic new resource I’m just learning about. Have you heard of this guy? How about his classes? This week’s include raising city chickens (on my agenda soon enough) and using minimal water for vegetable gardening.

Rad! Soon enough I’m going to have my own raised beds full of veggies. Until then, I’ll just keep taking these community lessons and creating the best plan.

FYI — no community dinner this week, peeps. I’m in Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon tomorrow. I’ve got a feast planned for next Thursday. Save the date.


Posted in
Arizona, Community, Journal, Reduce
Comments (11)