Sweet Friend

Judy and Shadow

A friend passed away yesterday. She’d been sick for quite a while, but the end came quickly. Even though we’d watched her lose her hair, grow it back, lose it again, fight countless infections and battle what seemed like 1,000 hurdles, I woke up yesterday morning fully convinced she’d rally. We’d celebrated her return to great health before. Ever the optimist, I was so painfully wrong.

Many of us had time to get to the hospital to say goodbye. She’d been in and out of the hospital for several years. By the end of the afternoon, I watched half a dozen nurses and doctors come to the ICU to see one of their favorite patients for the last time.
Something about watching a surgeon and nurses cry made the day that much more difficult; I always think of medical professionals as having some sort of super-human capability to deal with this sort of sorrow, but come to find out they are as startled and shaken by death as the rest of us.

A ray of light in all of this was watching my friends and her family gather. Judy worked with international students — many stopped by. She was loved by her church, and the minister was there to hold her husband’s hand. Her mother, sister, cousin and children were around her bedside too. The hallway was full of people she’d touched, including a handful of kids who’d spent many a summer at her house eating crazy dishes (eggs del monico) and listening to her stories of playing on Fire Island as a kid and going to graduate school at Columbia. She introduced me to the theater and regularly made sure their family had an extra ticket to the Broadway shows coming through town. She was an avid reader and loved swapping books, talking about music and taking long walks with her dog. I never heard her raise her voice or say a mean spirited thing about another person. She was truly a graceful woman and I will really miss her. We all will.

Today, I’m honoring Judy by being mindful of the countless blessings that surround my daily routines. From the gorgeous sunrise this morning that I may have otherwise overlooked to the simple breakfast I’ve just enjoyed — life is just too short to let the little things go unnoticed.

Thanks for your kind words yesterday. If you have a second today, please send good thoughts and prayers to Judy’s family.



El Pato -- the secret to a spicy meatloaf
Hatch chiles
Making meatloaf
Ready for the oven
Appetizer platter
Dinner appetizer

My mama’s fabulous meatloaf, with a layer of Hatch chiles through the center, El Pato spicy tomato sauce on top and a side of roast broccoli. Fresh bread, Petite Syrah and an appetizer plate with figs, pears, almonds and Dubliner cheese. A good meal, even better the next day as a cold meatloaf sandwich.

Thanks to the second pan of meatloaf, I am officially looking forward to bringing my lunch to work this week.


Jars of Renewal: Smart Spending and Savings

Jars of Renewal: Savings Plan

I’ve never been terribly good at math. In part, I think it’s because at an early age I was labeled a good reader and that side of my education was nurtured. Also, I’m damn lazy when it comes to numbers. I’m lucky if I get the right amount of air pressure in my bike tires, have any clue what kind of gas mileage my car gets, and have yet to find a time in public health when x/y= anything. Sorry Mrs. Theile, while you were a lovely pre-calculus teacher, I couldn’t care less today than I did in 11th grade about equations — with the lone exception being me + free time = happiness.

Jars of Renewal: Savings Plan

This lack of mathematical prowess does bite me in the ass every so often. Knitting, for example, can take a bit of math patience that I don’t seem to have — especially if you are altering a pattern. Overdraft fees? Yep. They suck and yet I cannot for the life of me seem to keep enough cash in my checking account. I once had a teller explain to me that a debit card isn’t actually a credit card just because it has the Visa symbol on it. I nearly clocked her, but the fine would have cost too much. Do they take debit in jail?

Times, they are a changing. While they may have said there would be no math, they lied. My checkbook is proof pudding. I’m cutting back, making thriftiness tres chic in my house and dreaming of a Clinton economy when we were so flush and happy, no one noticed the Beret floozie gallivanting in and out of the oval office.

Jars of Renewal: Savings Plan

Money can be scary. Having it, not having it, knowing what to do with it. I had a long series of conversations with my parents this weekend about my desire to buy a house. When it comes right down to it, my dad finally said what no one else was willing to say — I want too much. I work in a field where the profit margin is low and the fulfillment is high. I’ve made that choice and it doesn’t necessarily come with a giant back yard and a garden and doggie door. I’m not giving up on my dream of having a bit more space, but I am taking a new look at my environment and appreciating what I own.

blog fodder 003

I’m also saving as much as I can and stopped by the bank this week to pick up a new check register. I’ve decided I’m going to record every penny spent in October and then take a closer look at my discretionary spending. I imagine this little experiment will provide me with enough shock to be truly horrific come Halloween. Care to join me in this walk toward budgetary accountability? I might just learn how to do some math in the process.

In the meantime, I’m officially celebrating all things creatively cheap — like buying books at the library for $1, hitting the dollar store for produce (bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, sweet peppers, carrots, etc. All fresh. All $1.), recycling magazines and music with my girlfriends, cleaning out my closets and donating all stuff unused to Goodwill (space is luxurious), walking and riding my bike more, using my coffee cup for the refill price, and most importantly — loving what I have. Getting out of the materialistic mindset is long process, but I love how freeing each step seems to be.

I’m going to have that house, dog and garden — even if it takes a few pickle jars worth of coins to change my savings habits.


Autumn Delight

Yarn over details
Eggplant birthday shrug
neck detail

Fall is my favorite season, hands down. For Phoenicians, it’s like a big scoop of ice cream on top of homemade apple pie after suffering through a dry, disgusting pot roast of a summer. I simply cannot wait for the cooler temperatures to arrive. I’m planning my annual Flagstaff road trip for a pumpkin patch shopping spree (and Beaver Street Brew check in) and looking longingly at the stack of long sleeves in my closet currently begging for attention. Soon, my friends. Soon.
In the meantime, I’m surrounding myself with shades of a new season. One of my favorite colors is eggplant. It is flattering to wear, royal and always catches my eye. I turned that Debbie Bliss yarn into a shrug for another Fall birthday baby. I’m not quite done with this project yet. I’m hoping to add one of these fabulous Heather Bailey pins to the lapel too.

Tiny, but stretchy

{Did you know Heather Bailey lives in Phoenix? I think we are supposed to be friends. I could use some advice on the whole domestic business thing and I’m certain she’d love some of my cooking. We could swap. I should email her.}

Crate and Barrel Napkin

Pumpkin. All things in Fall should be pumpkin. Bagels, soup, breads, and even the puree in yogurt. I love the stuff and like Finny and Rachael Ray, burnt orange is another favorite color. This is also a particularly fun Fall because my African-Australian roomie hasn’t ever celebrated Halloween and he’s is aptly like a kid in a candy shop at the thought. He can’t wait to “carve gourds and scare the wees.” I can’t wait to watch.

Embroidered placemat

I picked up these two cloth napkins at the Crate and Barrel outlet store for $3 — soon to be new Fall handbags.

I know the seasons are changing because it is suddenly dark when I leave the house in the morning. I’m enjoying seeing the stars as I ride my bike. Although, to be honest I would like this season much more if it were cold enough to send the mosquitoes away already.

What are you doing to celebrate the change in season?


A Psyche Detour from the Domestic Bliss Route

Do you ever have those moments of clarity when you realize you’re hopelessly flawed? It’s like the blue screen of death for a computer, but it’s your life. And you’ve got to drag yourself through therapy, the self-help section, or a great dive bar to get over the initial shock and reboot into repair mode.

I was that kid who cried at the end of the school year because I was going to miss my teacher over the summer. Same goes for any sort of change in regards to coaches. I loved my swim coaches. When one became pregnant and could no longer cheer my chubby little speedo’ed ass down the lane for two hours each afternoon, I was distraught. How could she leave? When my minister was reassigned to another church my freshman year of high school, I apparently wrote him a note saying I’d be in his congregation again one day. His wife recently found it and we chuckled at the sentimentality. I drive 40 miles each Sunday to be in fellowship with him.

This characteristic is mostly a good one. I’m a committed friend; I don’t just want to know how you are feeling, I want to know why you are feeling this way. I get invested easily. Ask Salty Senor — his family sweetly jokes that I’m his life coach. This is great for those who want an over-the-top friend or girlfriend, and horrific when they just want someone with a normal interest level. When I decide to give, I give everything I’ve got.

On the flip side, this leaves me raw when someone overnight decides to walk away — whether it is a best friend, a boyfriend, a family member. There are times when this has happened and I felt wronged. Anger let me easily walk the other direction too; there is simply nothing left to say.

That list is short and not so sweet.

The other — of those who I still care for but am not in communication — is much larger. These names make my head hurt and I find myself bummed out at the strangest of times.

I love to love. It stinks when it doesn’t jive. This is especially a bad combo for a self-described Type A girl who likes things just so. Then again, maybe it is better to miss those who were once in our life than to not feel anything at all.


Polly Greenthumbs


Remember that begonia my grandma gave me? The one her father gave her mother when they were dating that some how still exists today? My clipping last six months or so before I managed to nuke it. My mom’s? Now a bush on their patio.

My mom can make just about anything thrive and grow. She’s the type to find a $.75 plant on the clearance rack at the grocery store and turn it into a state fair winning hybrid. Seriously. Her garden is so pretty, especially this time of year. She’s got a dozen different plants blooming, not to mention the variety of houseplants I found her watering and coddling.

She is very nurturing, including the love she shows for The Favorite Child.
Exhibit A:

Dharma quilt

Dharma, the family pooch, has her own wall quilt/hanging. I have to say, it is pretty cute. I love the batiks and the fact my mom added little “D” dog tags.

Dharma, howling

Dharma does a LOT of howling, so this is pretty appropriate.

Mama and her favorite child

And if I haven’t mentioned, my mom is a quilting machine.

A few more quilts just hanging out on a shelf

These are a few of the hundred-plus quilts she just has hanging around their house. She is always working on at least two quilts and now seems to find time to help her girlfriends with their projects too.

One of my favorite quilts

I am not sure what it is about applique, but I love how delicate this quilt is. I’ve admired it for years and have a feeling it is soon coming my way. Yahoo! I had plans of hijacking her serger and canning supplies, but alas — they would not fit in my luggage. Instead I just dropped lots of hints about how nice it would be to have some canning supplies. And a serger.

Subtle, I know.


Transcend, Manifest, Celebrate

“If you do a good job for others, you heal yourself at the same time,
because a dose of joy is a spiritual cure. It transcends all barriers.”
— Ed Sullivan

$1.50 transformed
Madison, super tri girl journal
Tri Girl
South America travel journal
Dreaming of Frida
There are many good times ahead, Frida

Three new vision journals for Madison, Katie and Maria — girlfriends who are working toward big goals in life. (Junior high! High school cheer!! Citizenship!) Making these last night felt as good as a long, hard run after a week of no exercise. I’ve got to make more time to be creative, even when busy. I’m not honoring myself otherwise. Sharing the vision journal idea has been so satisfying. I’m so glad so many of you have received yours in the mail or created one on your own! Luke 11:9-12 gives me extra skip in my step when doing this kind of internal housekeeping.


Local Rock Stars

Live in Phoenix and love ice cream? Me too. If you are in the neighborhood, consider a new shop that my friends just opened: Sweet Republic. They are an incredible duo with an even sweeter love story. You can read the details, or just swing through for a scoop and ask them about it. They specialize in odd flavors, including bacon. Adam, did you read that? Ice cream AND bacon. It might be your version of heaven.

Phoenicians itching for something cultural and fabulous to do this weekend should consider the Eye Lounge downtown on Friday. Sam — you writing this down? As our resident weekend activity coordinator for sweet things to do in central Phoenix, this certainly needs to be added to the agenda. My friend Eliza is opening her new exhibit of photographs and they are stunning. You won’t regret stopping in to see her great work. And when in the neighborhood, Conspire Coffee Shop has a rad collection of vintage T-shirts.

Have a scoop and get the scoop for me. I’m off to the Lone Star state for some family time.