New Beginnings

I am celebrating 2010 by transcending from good to great. I will be a great sister, daughter, girlfriend, friend, employee. I will be a great writer, photographer, artist, runner, yogi. I will climb great mountains and bike great distances. I will learn new sports, read great books, spend time giggling and snorting with friends and family. I will put my ego aside to instead be curious and appreciate the adventures ahead.

I will take time this year to cherish those I love, and the gift of this time.

Wishing you a year of radical happiness,



The January issue of Bon Appetit has a section on meatballs that I would have normally skipped, but one recipe in particular caught my eye: poblano albondigas with ancho chile soup.

I had some friends over last night for a taste testing:

Charred chiles


Turkey albondigas

Ancho chile soup



La la chip


Some of my favorite hot sauces

4 out of 5 stars. I think I’d prefer the soup with chicken broth, in lieu of beef. I’d also add more vegetables next time to the broth. Otherwise, everyone seemed to very much enjoy a bowl of steamy soup with salad and guacamole quesadillas.

If stuck with one food for the rest of my life, I could quite happily select corn and white cheese quesadillas with fresh guacamole and salsa. Or mint chocolate chip ice cream. Tough call, that one.

Tonight: cajun red beans and rice and a new set of friends for dinner.


Breathing in the Gap

The in between week:

Cap for Kelsay

With the celebrations of Christmas behind us and the joy of the New Year still ahead, I look forward to spending the next few days focused on renewal.  Bikram set this mindset on the right foot this morning. After nearly a year of practice, I am getting into new poses and am able to focus on form and breath during class (versus simple survival).  If I could, I’d take Bikram every morning. It seems to get my mood in the right place for the day and my body feels stretchy and happy too.

Cap for Kelsay

I heard a rumor a certain Aussie-African golfer is making his return to the Valley and I’m assuming he’ll be my roommate. The renewal goes well with a deadline; I have many things to sort, organize, clean, and send to Goodwill and Freecycle. If I can give 2010 a label, I hope it is a year of simple joys.

Cap for Kelsay

Less of everything, but that which we decide to surround ourselves with being the highest quality in craftmanship and significance.


Adventathon: 25 Final Edition!

Namaste bag tutorial

Namaste bag

Okay, 25 projects and I’m done! I realize this one is a double-post, but you asked for a tutorial. The Namaste Yoga bag:

Namaste bag tutorial

Cut your exterior (above) and interior pieces 15″ wide by 17″ tall.

Namaste bag tutorial

For the exterior yoga mat pocket, cut a piece of fabric 12″ x 10 ” (this piece pictured is too big, as you’ll see. This is a live and learn tutorial.)

Namaste bag tutorial

With the yoga pocket, iron under the 10″ (tall) edges by 1/4″ and top stitch.

Namaste bag tutorial

Then iron under the 12″ top and bottom.  Set aside.

Namaste bag tutorial

Turn your exterior piece right sides together and sew 1/4″ seam along both edges and across the bottom.  Set aside.

Namaste bag tutorial

Random photo of a European candy tin I use for pins. I love these.

Namaste bag tutorial

Cut an interior pocket piece 15″ wide x 5.5″ tall.  Iron under top edge by 1/4″. Top stitch. Place it as desired on one side of your interior fabric.

Namaste bag tutorial

Pin the pocket down.

Namaste bag tutorial

Add a fancy label if you’d like. (I buy my labels here. Yes, they are pricey. They are also fabulous!)

Namaste bag tutorial

Topstitch along both edges and the bottom.

Namaste bag tutorial

I also like to add a stitch up the center of the pocket to create a division. These smaller pockets seem to hold keys, cell phones, etc., better.

Namaste bag tutorial

Now, turn your interior pieces right sides together and stitch down both edges and across the bottom. HOWEVER: leave a 3″ hole in your stitching across the bottom. This is how you’ll eventually turn the bag right-side out. Set aside.

Namaste bag tutorial

Back to that exterior — to create a bag that looks a bit more structured, we are going to sew and trim these corners. I forget what this is officially called in sewing lingo, but I think it is something like a gusset.

Namaste bag tutorial

See that seam running down the center? That is actually the seam from the bottom of the bag. Take your first corner and make a triangle with this seam running down the center. This seems (seams?) difficult, but it is very easy. Just try it.

Namaste bag tutorial

See? Not hard. Now, measure 3 inches in from the point and place a pin to mark where you will sew.

Namaste bag tutorial

Sew along the pinned line being sure to backstitch at each end.

Namaste bag tutorial

Then chop off the ends, leaving a 1/4″ seam.

Namaste bag tutorial

Turn the exterior right-side out and voila — trimmed, structured corners to the bottom of the bag.

Namaste bag tutorial

Now, about that yoga mat pocket. Obviously this pocket is too big, but the dimensions above are a better fit. Place the top edge of the yoga pocket 12″ from the bottom seam of the bag. You want to create a significant flap in the pocket to allow space for the mat or towel when in place.

Namaste bag tutorial

Pin this top edge of the pocket 12″ up from the bottom of the bag and top stitch to the front of the bag. (Be sure not to stitch through both layers.)  Now take the bottom edge of the pocket and pin it 5″ from the bottom. Top stitch. Set aside.

Namaste bag tutorial

On to the handles. There are two options. If you’d like the bag to be cross-body, as pictured, cut two pieces 3″ wide by 45″ long. If you’d like a shoulder bag, follow the same directions but cut your straps 5″ wide by 25″ long.

Iron each strap in half, right-sides together. Then uncrease and fold each half toward the center, as pictured above.

Namaste bag tutorial

The fold the strap in half again, enclosing all raw edges. Pin these and topstitch along each edge, all the way down the straps.

Namaste bag tutorial

Now place the exterior inside the interior bag, right sides together.

Namaste bag tutorial

It seems weird, but I promise this works.

Namaste bag tutorial

Lay your completed straps out and fold them in half. Be careful to make sure the strap isn’t twisted and pin the top edge of each strap between the layers of the bag, on each side. (This step isn’t photographed.)

If you think of this as a sandwich from the cutting mat up,  it would go: interior, strap inside, exterior, exterior, strap inside, interior.  Leave an inch or so of strap poking above the layers and sew around the top of the bag enclosing them. Trim the remaining strap that is poking between layers. Then pull the bag through the opening you left at the bottom edge of the interior. Press flat.

Namaste bag tutorial

Then top stitch that bottom edge of the interior closed.

Namaste bag tutorial

Press the bag and pat yourself on the back. Namaste!

Namaste bag

This bag looks to have a saggy butt. It must need to do more yoga.


Adventathon: 24

Makeup brush kit

adventathon 017

Finny sent me this sweet makeup brush kit several years ago for my birthday and I’ve used it nearly every day since. I love having fancy brushes and like my mama recently said when jewelry shopping, “Isn’t it fun to be a girl?” Yes. I am so very thankful for femininity.

With that in mind, a tutorial to sew something similar. You’ll need:

– a set of makeup brushes

– exterior fabric 7 ” x 10 ”

– interior fabric 7″ x 10″

– interior pocket 5″ x 5.5″

– interior terrycloth 7″ x 4″

– ribbon at least 7″ long for interior

– two pieces of ribbon 5″ long each for closing tie

adventathon 032

Take your interior pocket fabric and after ironing…

adventathon 033

Iron under the left hand and top edges 1/4″.  Top stitch the top edge.

adventathon 034

Iron a center crease in your interior fabric. Place the interior pocket on the lower right hand corner of the interior fabric. Your bottom and right hand edges should be raw (not turned under.) Pin. Top stitch pocket right, bottom and left hand edges to interior fabric, leaving the already seamed top edge open.

adventathon 036

Place your brushes on this pocket to determine their sizes. Draw lines vertically with a blue sewing pen (water soluble) as guides.

adventathon 037

Sew from top to bottom along these guides, backstitching along the top edge.

adventathon 038

Place your brushes to make sure they fit before continuing. (In this case, I slid two large brushes into one sleeve)

adventathon 039

Place your terrycloth on the left-hand side of the interior fabric. No need to turn under edges.

adventathon 040

Now add your 7″ of ribbon to the right-hand edge of the terrycloth piece.  Sew along the top edge of the terrycloth, down the center of the ribbon (also catching the right-hand edge of the terrycloth, which is tucked under the ribbon) and along the bottom edge.

I added terrycloth because it’s nice to have a place to clean off your brushes in between uses. And when your pouch starts looking like Rainbow Brite, just throw it in the washing machine, iron flat and refill.

adventathon 041

Now find your two pieces of 5″ ribbon for your closing tie.

adventathon 042

Place these 5″ up from the bottom edge of your interior fabric with 1/4 ” protruding.  (See that little bit of ribbon poking out on the right-hand side of this?) The ties should mostly remain sandwiched between your interior and your exterior. Place the exterior right-side down on top of the interior fabric. Pin. Sew around the edges leaving a 3″ hole.

Those raw edges will be enclosed in this process. It’s sewing magic!

adventathon 043

With that hole, turn your makeup brush pouch right-side out. Press flat. Top stitch with a pretty thread.

adventathon 048

See? Pretty.

adventathon 049

Add your brushes.

adventathon 051

Tie tight and wrap for the holidays. Voila — Christmas beauty!


Adventathon: 23


cancun 151

A bit of a confession: I’ve spent the last week on the beach with my family celebrating an early Christmas. I scheduled the previous adventathon posts, packed a bag full of swimming suits and managed to come home with some serious tan lines. I also came home with puffy eyes after saying goodbye to the clan yesterday morning at the Cancun airport.

Internets, I hate goodbyes. I hate them so much I’m known for staying in relationships and jobs long past their expiration date because sweet Moses, goodbye is just so miserable. More than anything else, I absolutely detest telling people I love that “We’ll see each other again soon!” when I’m just trying not to let running mascara and snot collide. I have had enough embarrassing tearful goodbyes in airports to last a lifetime.  It also doesn’t help that my brother was mortified and kept saying, “What the hell is wrong with you?” Well, obviously a lot because in that moment I wanted to punch him for leaving. Ah, the bitter sweet love of family. If this image doesn’t say “Merry Christmas,” you aren’t a Donley.

I really, really want to keep this advent celebration chain going, but I don’t have it in me today. So, instead I’m going to share one of my favorite recipes and some vacation photos that make me want to book it back to the border.

cancun 116

I’d even take him.

cancun 094

And I’d certainly take him.


And we’d drink a lot more of these. And play more volleyball. And snorkel more and see thousands more fish and play on a warm beach, where our family is quite honestly at our best.

Fruity Drink

So, if you decide to buck the current cold weather trend near you and enjoy some Christmas cheer a la tropics, may I suggest a Beergarita?

{This recipe is completely stolen from an ex-boyfriend.}

Kelli’s Best Margaritas Ever


1 Corona beer (or other Mexican beer)

1 can of frozen limeade

1 large bottle of tequila

1 large bottle of triple sec

Grand Marnier is optional


In a blender, add the beer, and the can of frozen limeade. Add as much ice as desired. Take the limeade can and fill half way with tequila. Add to blender. Fill again half way with triple sec. Blend. Pour. Float a bit of Grand Marnier on top if you really plan on doing nothing else for the day. Also, you don’t really need the large bottles of booze, but I find them handy to have around. No one has ever turned down a pitcher of these margaritas.

cancun 161


Adventathon: 22

Naughty Apron

on the gorge
My love affair with Finny is long since documented. We’ve been great friends for 12+ years, which makes me feel old because we met in college. Gulp. Regardless, Finny is one of those friends who completely and totally gets me. I don’t have to quiet a single side of my crazy when I spend time with her. She loves that I’m crafty (muse), loves that I’m athletic and loves when I drink and swear. Actually, now that I think of it, when we are together we drink and swear a lot. See: Santa Fe, Portland or Yellowstone.

Donk and Fin

The funny thing is, Fin and I are very different people. While our hobbies are in tune, she is way more stylish. She also just gets things. She teaches herself incredibly difficult tasks out of books and then has the patience to teach me (and all of us via her blog). See: her garden, her extensive knitting, her ability to run a half marathon and then have a bacon co-op the same day with neighbors who also give her cherry trees.) She is also very anti-holiday and doesn’t hold back the punches in telling people when they are decorating like idiots.

Good morning Fin!

And considering this is day 22 of my little holiday fest, I suppose I should just be happy she hasn’t reached her hand through the computer and slapped me silly for being so totally, crazy in love with Christmas. I do. I love it. I pretty much love everything about it, even singing carols. (And especially the Clark Griswold-inspired houses!)

Thankfully, she loves me anyway. Our sew-alongs for the last couple of years have provided the needed distraction when things weren’t going right and the needed boost of creativity when I was just being lazy. She is one of my select friends who always, always, always make me want to be a better person. I love me some Finny.

And so — her naughty apron. A tutorial that is funny and quintessentially Fin.


Adventathon: 21

Ice Skating Ornament


Another one of my many blessed friendships via the lovely internets is with Colleen. Colleen is one of these sweet, thoughtful and very quiet types. Or so I’d guess. We’ve never met, but most of my email over the last 4 years have included a lot of CAPS AND SCREETCHY and she’s always pretty calm, cool and collected. You know the type. She’s incredibly artistic and is designing the cover of my novel. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate her and her reaffirming daily email.

So, enough rambling — one of her fabulous tutorials is for this sweet ornament. You totally have enough time to whip one of these up before Christmas and anyone/everyone can do it. Check out her tut and her blog. I’m telling you, she’s a gem.