Kitchen Fetish

Fetish for bowls

Ikea, Martha Stewart, Target. Thoughtful gifts from friends, feeding my cooking frenzy.

If I have a kitchen fetish, it’s bowls. Maybe the word fetish is too strong, since my affection for bowls is not all that comparable to anything you’d be likely to find on a website such as, but there’s definitely something about bowls that just make me keep going back. I have so many bowls in different shapes and sizes. I love to buy the oddly shaped, fire-glazed ceramic bowls at the local art fairs. I bought three giant bowls from a potter when I was in the Philippines and use them regularly. I also love to buy interesting bowls at thrift shops and fill them with goodies to give. I don’t believe your dishes need to be match-matchy, obviously.
{Also, one of the only possessions my grandmother brought when she immigrated to the US was an old yellow ceramic bowl/crock. I’ve had my eye on that sucker for years. It’s now in my mama’s kitchen and she regularly reminds me I’ll have to pry it from her after death. That’s fine. Cody can have the Hummels. I want the bowl.}

Oh Martha
Sweet gift

Imagine my delight last night when I came home to find a giant FedEx box on my doorstep. Inside contained a new red bowl, cookie scoop, cookie sheet and container full of homemade Cowboy Cookies. I kid you not.

Awesome care package on a day I needed it
Cowboy cookies are pretty close to heaven
Cowboy cookies
Cowboy cookie

This week has been nutty, at best. Yesterday was one of those days so laughably horrific that I thought the writers from “How I Met Your Mother” were going to pop out and Barney would say, “Wow, with the awesomeness.” As I was considering brownies or wine for dinner, instead I came home to find homemade cookies on my doorstep (and decided to have all three!) It was like the universe was giving me a much needed hug and I took it with full force and giant glass of milk. So, thank you Kathryn. You have no idea how much I needed chocolate and a kind deed. You, simply put, are awesome.

Brownies in the making
Why my mom hated it when I cooked at her house
Using my new bowl

I wasn’t kidding about the brownies. They were gobbled up at the gym, bagel shop and now the office this morning. My little home smells like dark chocolate and cardamom heaven.

Wishing you lots of sweets awesomeness this Halloween,

Hippie Market Bag — CHECK!

Hippie market bag, felted and lined
Something fun about sewing a knitted bag

This truly is the week of focus. It’s working! Not only did I get that market bag done and wrapped, I started reading a new book for NaNoWriMo and got a fair amount of plotting done for novel #2 this morning. I did not, however, swim. I’ve got to do something to revive my zest for swimming. Getting up in the dark to haul myself to a pool that is regularly left uncovered, and is therefore freezing for this Arizona native, is getting old. I am considering rejoining my previous Masters team. The expense isn’t that big of a deal; I am a teensy bit worried it will take me a couple months to hang with the group. I am not swimming 3000 meters in an hour right now, more like 2000 in 40 minutes and calling it good. I am also worried about abandoning the few masters swimmers I coach at the Y. I don’t have a huge group, but they are dedicated and I get a good bit of feedback on the workouts I post. Oh, the silly things I’m pondering this week…

Ready to be wrapped -- knit/lined/felted market bag

Additionally, I read this article yesterday and wow, does it make sense. Common sense, that is. Hope you are also finding the focus you need this week, even if it is just focusing on good television and a comfy spot on the couch.


Garden on My Plate

Kitchen view
Eating well

Dinner: spaghetti squash with sauteed veggies, tomato sauce and a tiny glass of red wine.

Tomorrow's lunch

With enough left over to fill the new lunch box. I actually like spaghetti squash considerably more than spaghetti. I’ll take my carbs in bagel form, thankyouverymuch.


A Kayaking We Go

Delaney mentioned the other day that she wanted to learn how to kayak. I’ve been spending more time with her sister Madison and not as much with her, so I thought this would be the perfect chance to balance things out. Elaina and Nick have a kayak and huge hearts. We had fabulous weather this weekend and ready access to Tempe Town Lake. I threw all of these together and voila — a fabulous afternoon of me sitting on the bank reading a magazine, taking photos and watching an 8-year-old in kayak heaven.

I want to kayak!
Let me get in this thing!
Push and pull with the paddle
That thing is heavier than you'd think
To the water!
She's a natural
Off they go
Nick and Delaney kayak
matching hats

And then, of course, there was the requisite ice cream before she was returned to her family.

She's getting dental work done this week
Thumbs up for ice cream

Can’t wait to do it again. Next time, I’m getting a kayak for me and am going to stroll around the lake. I haven’t been kayaking since Costa Rica last year and man, do I love it. If I thought I could fit a single person kayak in my tiny car, I’d put it on my list for Santa. Do you think they make kayak trailers for bikes?


This Week’s Life Skill: Focus

Super secret project supplies

Tea towels for upcoming sewing projects.

I drive/bike by an elementary school each morning near my office. The marquis message changes each Monday, featuring a new life skill they are teaching for that week. This week: “effort.” In the past, the lessons have been: sense of humor, honesty, integrity, etc. I find myself looking for the new theme each week and wondering how they manage to work these into the lesson plans.

New materials for secret projects

This week, I’ve got to get focused. Saturday starts my annual creative Everest — NaNoWriMo and NaNoBlogMo. I’m tackling both and didn’t even have to hit REI for shiny new supplies. Instead, I’m putting aside several other hobbies in November to focus on my writing skills. Specifically, I want to develop a better writing work ethic, improve my character development and research writing workshops I can attend in 2009 to refine my craft.

So, I’ve got a week to get a bunch of other things completed. This week! Including:

Pre-felting. The giant bag that could

— Finish the giant felted market bag. Line with fabric, wrap, post.

— Use these pretty new tea towels to sew up some secret projects.

— Plan my holiday gifts and what I can realistically sew/knit/bake in the next eight weeks. Emphasis on realistic. My vision of being a best selling novelist is far more important than having my holiday wrapping paper match the handwritten Christmas cards. (My Type A insanity/desire to be Martha Stewart needs to be wrangled, or this holiday season is going to make me as completely exhausted and unsatisfied as the last.)

— Plan winter garden. Buy seeds.

— Get back to eating healthy, exercising hard and respecting my body. I’ve gotten off course with the Mexico trip (Chorizo! Tequila! Fresh Tortillas!) and the birthday celebrations (Pita Jungle, Four Peaks, Pita Jungle and way too much wine). My pants are snug and I am not happy about it.

My awesome new lunch box

The new lunch box certainly controls portion sizes.

Focus. Must focus.


Jars of Renewal: Halloween

Jars of Renewal: Halloween
Jars of Renewal: Halloween
Jars of Renewal: Halloween
Jars of Renewal: Halloween
Jars of Renewal: Halloween
Jars of Renewal: Halloween

I have two friends who are new moms and have been saving their baby food jars for me. I have a vision of making a path of tea light luminaries through my garden this winter. In the meantime, we are all about celebrating autumn, pumpkins and cooler weather for the time being. $4 later, I have treats for today’s staff meeting. Jars of Renewal recycled jar count: 40+.


P.S. If you are thinking about the holidays, buying small, supporting artisans and local business — check out Funky Finds. Jess does such a fantastic job with finding the coolest handmade stuff online. If you have a second, check out the site and drop her a line. She is a great girl in need of some much deserved support.


october 21 004

“Time plays like an accordion in the way it can stretch out and compress itself in a thousand melodic ways. Months on end may pass blindingly in a quick series of chords, open-shut, together-apart; and then in a single melancholy week may seem like a year’s pining, one long unfolding note.”

october 21 003

“I’m reminded of how Mum’s collies used to greet me on the lawn when I’d come home from a term away at school. They’d never jump up; they were too well trained. They’d yip and circle me, not the predatory way they circled the sheep, but with an inquisitive enthusiasm, waiting for me to roll down in the grass and invite them to lunge, wrestle, and lick me. My parents might have had money, loved each other, loved me and my brothers, but it was the loyalty of those smart beautiful dogs, when I was young, that made my home feel like the safest place in the world.”

october 21 002

“I was in the shop well before opening time, browsing self by shelf through new fiction, to see which not-so-new fiction I must relegate to the less prominent novels & stories shelves. Because of that dreary human predilection for the shiny and new, I always feel when I make this shift as if I’m sending so many bright, hopeful creatures out to pasture before their youth is spent. Though I would never condemn them, as other shops do, to a section entitled literature, a word which to my admittedly over-schooled mind is ossified and clubby. I picture a mausoleum, filled with sagging armchairs and lamps that cast inadequate, jaundiced light.”

october 21 001

I’ve been curled up on the couch with the door and windows open, cool Fall weather keeping me company as I knit my latest market bag and savor “Three Junes.” These quotes don’t do the story justice; I am weary of giving any clues. This is one of the most well-written books I’ve ever read, and these quips are just a few that spoke to me for one reason or another. Julia Glass’ words flow so poetically from the page, I found myself telling a stranger in a coffee shop this week, “This is art on paper!” (Ever the poet, I’m not.)
I am allowing myself short bursts of reading so I don’t finish it too quickly. Her words blend together beautifully. I hope these yarns, when felted, will do the same.


Mr. Frida Kahlo

october 21 007

A Twitterer I follow (okay, the language for that site is just nuts. Twitterer makes just as much sense as Tweet or Twit.) mentioned the other day that she prefers beer and a game of pool to wine and art. It made me stop and think. Where do I fall on that scale? I’m not opposed to pool or hanging out with those drinking beer, but I certainly would prefer a nice glass of wine and a tour through a gallery. Is one low-key and the other snotty, as implied? This sort of categorical stuff drives me nuts. I don’t want to fit neatly into either box. I’d prefer to be able to bounce between social situations and have fun wherever I’m at.
Do you ever find yourself being shoved into a label that just doesn’t fit?

october 21 008

When we were in Mexico a couple weeks ago, I fell in love with a bottle. Specifically, a bottle of Mexican tequila that I swear is a rubenesque version of a Diego Rivera painting. I thought it was so fitting that the national booze would be linked with one of their cultural heroes. Perhaps after a bit too long at the Tequila Center, I made this apparently very clear to my friends. This included clutching the bottle and giving an art lesson to a slightly amused bartender who made a fortune pouring for our group. It was no surprise last night I was gifted with this very bottle. Isn’t it interesting? (Yep, kinda like Nacho Libre, everyone else thinks I’m a little nuts.)

So, the birthday was a raging success and there is no way I’m going to get to everyone’s sweet comments this week. Thank you! A thousand times over, thank you. I have a lot of great things planned for this year, including sprucing up the blog, traveling, and writing the next novel. I also see margaritas in my immediate future. Thanks Diego! Thanks for coming along for the ride!


Thanks Mom!


In honor of my brave mama being stronger than I can imagine 29 years ago today, (at the ripe age of 24) — a list of adventures, joys and lessons that have so far made this wild ride incredibly enjoyable:

1. My family. From my Aunt Karen in Pennsylvania to my Grandma Max in Tucson, I am one of the lucky ones who has a family I not only like to spend time with, but truly love.

2. Watching the sunrise over Machu Picchu. I’ll never forget the majesty of this mountainous climb.

3. Swimming. I often feel part-fish. Rivers, lakes, oceans — I love to be in the water.

4. My girlfriends. I’ve got some of those amazing friendships that make me shake my head with disbelief, they are just that good. The give and take of friendship can often be complicated, but thankfully I’ve got some patient, loving and gifted girls who regularly remind me they love me and encourage me to be better.

5. Dogs. Even though those silly dog rescue people didn’t show up last week, I’m getting a dog. That’s my birthday gift to myself. Before the year’s end I’m going to have a four-legged friend sharing the bed.

6. My church. I’ve finally found a place where I feel at home, but still challenged to keep learning. I simply love this congregation.

7. Pumpkins, may they be in bagels, lotions or candles — they remind me of Fall. Fall in Phoenix is sweet dessert after the brutal summer.

8. Cooks Illustrated magazine. It is my favorite thing to read each month, hands down.

9. The New York Times magazine. It is my favorite thing to read each Sunday morning, preferably over a hot cup of tea from a patio perch.

10. Writing. Novels, articles and this blog — it doesn’t matter what form, I feel creatively challenged putting pen to paper.

11. New Fall clothing.

12. Sew-alongs.

13. Amy Butler.

14. Snarkiness.

15. Riding my bike to work.

16. Mixed CDs. This is still my very favorite gift to receive, perhaps second only to a flight somewhere new.

17. Bolivia. I love the people, culture, music, food and way of life.

18. My friendship with my brother. It’s something relatively new and I am so glad as adults we are this close. I look forward to the day we live closer to each other and can raise our families together.

19. Griffin House. I feel like he writes music with me in mind. Seeing him in concert was incredible. Salty Senor has good taste.

20. Africa. The people, the simplicity of life, the wildness and the complete and total insanity of day-to-day existence. I feel my most useful and spiritual when I’m working on the dark continent.

21. Visiting the Cape of Good Hope.

22. Going to Prince concerts with my mom. She is an avid Prince fan and while this embarrassed the tar out of me during my adolescence, it just cracks me up as an adult.

23. Domesticity! Learning to sew, craft, knit, cook, garden and the true joy I receive from the craft blog world.

24. Public health. I love my field. I feel like this (and writing) are what I am meant to do and having that sense of purpose is an incredible stroke of luck.

25. Reading. My new current love is “Three Junes.” It is art on paper. I am reading it slowly to savor every word.

26. Flying through the Costa Rican jungle with Emily and John.

27. Mexico. I feel at home in this beautiful, culturally-rich country.

28. Giving gifts. This is one of the simple joys of life that makes me silly happy, including cooking for others.

29. Javier Bardem. Yum.

Life is good.


The Poetic Possibilities

{In my last post on faith, I received several very thoughtful comments — including one from Crumpet. She mentioned being an atheist and feeling like she regularly had to defend her choices. I am a United Methodist and sharing my faith is very new and pretty frightening. I think a person’s relationship with their faith is as unique and intimate as life develops. My faith is right for me, but certainly not for others. In writing about spirituality, I’d like to emphasize one essential point that has kept me from ministry — I don’t believe in evangelizing. I don’t think of Christianity as being superior to other faiths; it is, however, just right for me. I’d like to encourage readers to discuss their beliefs, how they’ve developed and how they’ve been influenced. I love learning from others.}

At church yesterday, the sermon focused on dreams and how being in tune with our desires for the future can providing “poetic possibilities.” Ever the list-maker, goal-setter and dreamer, I pulled out a pen and took a couple of notes. I believe that my dreams for the future (family, close relationship with friends, garden, animals, etc) have been placed in my heart by God. The direction of my professional life has certainly be guided by my faith and, finally, I’ve reached a point of maturity where my faith is also providing guidance to my personal relationships.
Pastor Jeff, who is also my friend and confidant, said the prerequisites for vision include a need to be open, vulnerability and discernment. Ultimately, we need to be willing to listen, put ourselves in situations that force us to learn and determine our priorities in life. Love, moral excellence and generosity were listed as examples.
“Everyone can be great because everyone can serve. Faith is found in forgiving, empowering and gracious love.”

I consider myself pretty forgiving, although I have a tipping point that makes me absolutely furious and unwilling to continue relationships. I am rarely pushed to this ugly place, but it certainly occurs and did his weekend. Moral excellence is a tricky one because who sets the bar? Is there a specific moral memo that didn’t cross my desk? I try to follow the golden rule and be kind, but I’ve been known to honk in traffic and drop the F bomb when provoked.

The beauty of my faith is that while I am regularly reminded of the ways I can grow and improve, I am equally reminded that I am forgiven. It is a beautiful balance.

What do you believe? Why?