11–20 of 23 entries from the month of: September 2008

Grainy Jam Is Not A Good Thing, Martha

September 13th

Currently making me happy:

Reading and loving

Gardening class. I love this group. It is so fun to get together and learn and be able to ask 30 Phoenicians from all different walks of life about their experiences in working with the earth. My goal is to have a fantastic Fall garden this time next year. I’m envisioning the purchase of a small home in early 2009 and slowly transforming a tiny plot in back where I’ll grow gourds, garlic, corn, beans and melons. This new book from the library used book store is providing fuel to the garden fire.

I like turning heads
Great labels

Correspondence. Not news that I love paper, envelopes, good pens, friends who share their handwriting secrets, labels, stamps, and new Paper-Source catalogs. I am dreaming of pretty new labels for Thanksgiving cards — little notes telling family and friends why I am thankful for them. Abundance of gratitude is a good thing; so is great mail.

The Ya Yas, who are my fierce coven of sisters. They know my dreams and when I’ve made a silly decision or invested too much; they don’t hold back. When someone has “crossed the Kevin FederLine,” they are quick to point it out and help me regain focus. (How awesome is that line? KFed. Oh, man it makes me giggle.) So blessed by these girls and their families.

My folks. I’m thrilled to be headed their way next week for a reboot. Four days in Texas will certainly mean lots of movie and book time with my papa, sewing with Mom, walking with Dharma, the super pooch, and BBQ. Oh, Rudy’s here I come.

Matt, my fun roomie who is adding a new layer of humor to my small home. He is adorable and his observations of American life are not getting old. We went to happy hour last night and after a dozen bourbons, I thought my sides were going to split or we were going to be asked to leave. (I had running bright and early this morning and stuck to my my old sidekick DC. Stone cold sober, it was silly funny.)

how long till happy hour?

Short hair. The weather is finally cooling and it is gorgeous in Phoenix today. However, riding my bike around town without a wet ponytail? Icing on the cake.

Saturday afternoons including bikes, a boy, burgers and beer. Giddyup.

Making me not so happy:

Homemade bread and jam

Six jars of flopped jam. The jam came out incredibly grainy and very sugary. Any ideas on what went wrong? Good thing the bread recipe is tried and true. Hopefully the recipients will just throw on some extra butter to mask the jam craziness. Martie, you failed me on this recipe.


Posted in
Happy Hippie, Journal
Comments (26)

Jars of Renewal: Prickly Pear Syrup

September 12th

How I used the rest of those prickly pear
Ruby red goodness
Marg ingredients waiting
Too sweet for me
Pepto pink margs
this boy loves the prickly pear
Enjoying the margs
Five more recycled jars

I promise this is my last prickly pear post for a bit. I used the remaining prickly pear tunas last night for the latest Jars of Renewal project: syrup! Great in margaritas, other mixed drinks and even on pancakes. Yum.

To local gardeners, a reminder that tomorrow’s veggie class series at the Phoenix Farmer’s Market is worth the drive and $10. I’m thinking a big bowl of oatmeal at Matt’s beforehand is just what the happy hippie ordered.

Happy Friday friends!

Posted in
Arizona, Domestic Art, Happy Hippie, Journal, June Cleaver, Kitchen Talk, Recycle, Uncategorized
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Sun and Moon

September 11th

chihuly 008
chihuly 009
chihuly 010
chihuly 015

When I recently read about this Chihuly exhibit in Glendale, I was overjoyed. Chihuly has been one of my favorite artists for years; I was once able to visit his museum in Tacoma and take a craft class at his workshop. There is something about the colors he uses and how delicate & hard his work is. It’s contrasting in a thousand ways. Plus, like Frida, he is quite the character.

chihuly 019
chihuly 017
chihuly 021

“The Sun and Moon” was commissioned for the Foothills Library in Glendale for $200,000. It includes 1,123 individual pieces and took more than a year to construct. It took three days just to hang.

chihuly 004
chihuly 003
chihuly 001

I can’t do justice describing how stunning this chandelier is. Dee and I stood around photographing it yesterday afternoon with our jaws slack. If you are in Arizona, it is worth the drive to see for yourself.

chihuly 020


Posted in
Arizona, Journal
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A Sweet, Hot, Sticky Mess

September 9th

Pretty new jars
Only 10 cups. Holy hell.
Making do
These smelled delicious
Tunas, cooked and mashed
Work it Jimmy
Love the guests
Straining the tuna
Straining the cacti mess
Prickly Pear Juice
Hot, sticky, sweet
one by one...
Pretty new jars
Big fat watery mess
Six more jars
Final product: prickly pear jelly

Prickly Pear Jelly is a success. That said? Canning is a much smarter hobby to take up during the WINTER.

8 – 10 prickly pears, washed and sliced crosswise
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lime juice
1 package fruit pectin
5 cups sugar
Zest of 1 lime

Place the fruit in a saucepan with the water. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 20 to 30 minutes.

Mash the fruit and pour mixture into a cheesecloth or jelly bag. Allow juice to stand for at least 1 hour until sediment settles to the bottom. Discard the pulp, pour off the clear liquid and reserve, and discard the cloudy sediment.

Combine the prickly pear liquid, lime juice, and pectin in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Add the sugar and lime zest. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly for 2 1/2 minutes. Remove from heat, skim, pour into sterilized jars, and seal.

Source: Martha Stewart, via my friend Diane.


Posted in
Domestic Art, Goals, Happy Hippie, Journal, June Cleaver, Kitchen Talk
Comments (34)

Not Your Typical Tuna Sandwich

September 9th

Heather, the happy helper

My friend Heather mentioned she had some prickly pear tuna in her yard. Would I want to come over to prevent “borrowing” from neighbors?

Heather's yard before...

Indeed. The prickly pear are nearly over-ripe by now. These ruby red gems were easy to pluck. I used my trusty tools and followed the guidelines I learned in class.


Bucket, gloves, tongs, brush to get rid of the glochids (tiny spines). Heather and I went to town.

Heather's yard after

10 minutes later and I had a bucket full of fruit.

Prickly Pear Tunas
bucket o' prickly pear

Tonight I am taking a giant leap into the domestic foray of canning. Oh, the exciting life I lead. I’m going to get the resident Africans to pitch in too. It should be fun! I’m using a trusty prickly pear Martha Stewart jam recipe. Wish me luck. Tomorrow I’ll hopefully post the sticky sweet results!


P.S. Hoping there is some leftover to boil down for a margarita syrup. My Mexican beach vacation is just 4 weeks away and I’m already dreaming of the frozen drinks…

P.P.S. In a true Martha move, I’m planning on putting a couple loaves of No Knead bread out to rise tonight so I can bake them tomorrow to deliver with the jam to friends. I always come up with these crazy plans. I’ll be amused to see if it actually comes together!

Posted in
Arizona, Domestic Art, Flora and Fauna, June Cleaver, Kitchen Talk
Comments (18)

New Eyes on America

September 8th

Easy peasy lasagna

Butternut squash lasagna for the boys — step by step in photos.


My house guests are providing me with hours of thoughtful conversation. They’ve just returned from a quick road trip to Las Vegas. Considering one lives in Malawi (one of the world’s highest birthrates and lowest life expectancies) and the other Australia (by way of Zimbabwe) — I knew a journey to Sin City would create a cultural commotion. I tried gently forewarning them — I think Las Vegas is a ton of fun for about 48 hours and then it becomes the city of everything wrong with humanity. They were shocked by the excess and awed by the lights, architecture and the water show at the Bellagio.

Blob of ricotta
roasted vegies
squash roasting

Jim wanted to know where all the water comes for the pools, resorts and golf courses? I laughed. Um, the Colorado River? I don’t know. I do know that water rights in this area of the US are a big deal and we are not nearly as respectful of our environmental limitations as we should be. His son Matt wanted to know how much the burlesque dancers make a night? I asked calmly, “Well, how much did you pay for the show? How much did you tip her? How many girls were there? Do the division.” They blushed and I realized that you can take the man out of Africa but he’s still a man. Generous cleavage in little dresses apparently have international appeal. Who knew?

garlic squashy goodness
naked squash
squash and garlic layer

It has been fun listening to their questions about this culture, home, nation. After visiting the grocery, Jim quickly determined the source of American obesity: too many choices. He wanted to know why we needed 45 types of sliced bread? Why would it require an entire aisle? Again, I didn’t have any answers. He said you should just go and get a loaf of bread and not have to sit an analyze a thousand options. It’s sensory overload. He might be on to something.

so geometric

They have both decided that golf courses in Arizona are fabulous, the roads are even better and it is obnoxiously hot here this time of year. Indeed. I think we’ve become equally entranced with each other as dinner company. They enjoy what I’ve been cooking and I’m loving the company. I’ll be sad when they go.

last layer pre-oven
Cheesy, crunchy top
Gratuitous side shot
Final shot pre-belly

And yes, other than the roasting of the veggies, this is certainly the easy way out when making lasagna. If I’d wanted to really knock their socks off, I would have made Finny’s Fabulous Sauce.


Posted in
Arizona, Journal
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September 7th

Shiny and corporate

Living in the present can be a challenge for me. I’m always working toward something and need to take more time to enjoy the moment at hand. Being present, enjoying the journey and not just the result, is a new practice. (Ha! A new goal. Oh, I’m hopeless.)

Notebooks ready for some jazz

I have read and re-read your visions for the future; unexpectedly, they’ve given me so much to smile about. Your words are a sweet reward for being honest about my dreams. Thank you again. I love that many of you are wishing for babies, traveling, going to school and being perfectly content with who/where/how you are are right this moment. You have much to teach me about living in the present.

fun to put together

In that thought, a few current observations:

~ An ugly downside to waking up early to workout during the week is that when I should be sound asleep, enjoying a lazy Sunday morning, I’m blogging at 6 am. You know you are up too early when one of your first thoughts is, “Can I nap today?” Why yes, yes I can.

Earthy greens

~ I rode Ruby 30 miles yesterday and am walking like a cowboy today. It was worth it. Being on my tri bike reminded me how much I love to ride distance. Scooting around town on Olive is much more comfortable, but nothing in comparison to clipping in, pushing through heart-racing mile after mile and being truly disappointed when hitting a yellow light and having to break the ride. I think my city rides are making me a more comfortable cyclist in general. I wasn’t nearly as nervous yesterday. While I can still hear the thud of hitting that damn sign — my body hasn’t entirely recovered still a year later — it feels good to just get back on the bike.


~That veggie class I took yesterday made me wish I’d studied horticulture. It also made me realize there is only so much I can do with my limited space and tiny condo. I’m going to plant a few container veggies this Fall with the hopes of planting their offspring in a lovely garden in a nice Tempe backyard next Spring. Have you heard of sunken beds in lieu of raised beds? Apparently the way to go when trying to grow veggies in an oven. Phoenicians, if you are looking for a sweet gardening blog, check this out. Also, the local Urban Gardening movement is rad. (If anyone is interested, I’ll share the details of what I learned yesterday. It was the first in four classes I’m taking this month in designing a successful veggie garden in Phoenix.)


~The documentary Axe in the Attic? Really bad. Watching it in a tiny art studio in downtown Phoenix with 50 other local movie folk? Really hip. Being eaten by bugs in a hot, stuffy art studio while watching a movie about Louisiana? Interactive.

cheetah buttons

~Other downtown Phoenix loves from the weekend: Blue cheese and malbec at Cheuvront, vintage Ts at Conspire, Kim’s margaritas at Mi Patio.

Baby journals

Loving the present,


Posted in
Arizona, CAOK, Domestic Art, Journal
Comments (16)


September 5th

Reminds me of  a starfish

There are people who walk into your life, make you drop everything your doing and take notice. They make you stand up a little straighter, tuck in your gut, chew with your mouth closed and just want to be better. Junie Moon is one of those peeps for me. She is an incredible friend, talented, creative, generous and a woman I admire a thousand ways. Today is her last day of blogging and she is going out with a splash of grace that only a Tucson Mermaid could. If you get a chance, drop by today and wish her well!


There has been a considerable lack of crafting and cooking going on at my house the last week or so. (For example, I didn’t make the journal in yesterday’s entry. It was a thoughtful gift from Tuesday. I will, however, be selecting the 10 lucky winners this weekend and getting on those vision journals. Thanks for your sweet and thoughtful comments!) Instead I’ve been riding my bike, fighting allergies and entertaining house guests who are currently living in my art studio. So, next week — more creativity. This week, more time with Ms. Olive and my new best friend Zyrtek.

This weekend’s dance card is full. I’m taking a veggie gardening class at the farmer’s market, going on a long bike ride downtown, seeing movies with friends, hitting the Weston show and hopefully finding time to do a wee bit of sneaky prickly pear harvesting in the neighborhood. I can just imagine myself getting caught with a bucket of prickly pear tunas and trying to talk myself out of trouble. Ha!

I’ll be back with photos soon. Hope your weekend is peaceful, relaxing and just what you need.


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Comments (11)


September 4th

beautiful travel journal

The vision journal idea created so many encouraging comments I’ve decided to share the idea. Tell me what inspires you, what you envision in the next year, in a comment. I’m going to make 10 journals this weekend and will select comments at random to win.

I envision returning to Africa to work and live, getting married and having a little flock of happy hippie babies, growing a fabulous garden and growing in faith.

travel journal from Tuesday


Posted in
CAOK, Domestic Art, Goals, Journal
Comments (51)

Intention on Film

September 3rd

Voila -- dinner for the boys

I am loving having my African house guests. It is so fun to come home and have hungry men to cook for. I know that sounds nuts, but it is a treat for anyone who loves to cook and is normally alone. There is only so much joy I get from feeding myself. But these two guys? Last night I introduced them to chicken fajitas and black beans. They were thrilled and I couldn’t stop smiling.

Quinoa love

We also ate quinoa for the first time and I can’t rant and rave enough about how amazing this grain is. (Even better than that barley kick I was on a while back.) I followed the directions on the bag and first toasted 1 cup of quinoa in a dry skillet. Then I added it to my rice steamer with 1 cup of water and 1 chicken bouillon cube for 30 minutes. The result was nutty, savory and delicious. I immediately started over and made another cup to eat in my lunches for the rest of the week.


I’ve never liked something so much that I was willing to immediately start over to cook more, but the process was so simple and results so divine, I couldn’t help it. So — my recommendation for the week — swing through your local hippie market and pick up a bag of quinoa. It should cost about $2. Go wild. You’ll thank me later. It’s high in protein and fabulous.

While things were cooking and I had the house to myself, I worked on that vision journal and a few of my other goals for the week:

Vision journal
Sneak peek
Aaron Brown is now teaching at ASU
Future crafting
This week's book
Frogged and ready to be knit

And to wrap things up a bit from the Palin comments yesterday — to be clear: my point was the national discussion should not be about her daughter but about the candidate. Regardless of what you think of her nomination, it is certainly an exciting time in American politics and I am incredibly blessed to be able to vote and be a part of it!


Posted in
Goals, Happy Hippie
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