Girl Time

Heard Museum ladies

Heard Museum ladies

Heard Museum ladies

Heard Museum ladies

I was in a fundraising meeting this morning at the Heard Museum and thought I’d share one of their beautiful pieces of art. If you ever swing through Phoenix, the Heard is certainly a must-do. Amazing and ecclectic collection!

I’ve been invited to a private opening there later this week; swanky food and cocktails, lots of social folk and a new pretty pink dress in my closet. I’ve asked my friend Raleigh to be my chaperone, because he lives nearby and the man is stunningly tall so I can wear heels. Then again, I’m working late tonight and tomorrow.  By Thursday afternoon, I nevery well may be curled up with knitting needles and Netflix. We shall see.

Go, go Gadget energy!



Baby Luggage

Baby luggage

How sweet is this little luggage? I found it at my favorite paper store and when Rebecca and Matt decided to go lime green with their nursery and theme for new babe on the way, I knew this would be a part of the loot. It is pretty tiny, but a new liner for her baby pail fit just fine. They are going hippie-baby and cloth diapering.  You can imagine how excited I am to meet this wee one (Rebs and I have been friends since second grade. I cannot believe little Bec is having her own baby!) and to strongly encourage the new parents to stick with their eco-ideals.

I’ve got several essays bouncing around my head that need photos and a bit more attention; this week started with jury duty and suddenly running an office sola. So, I am here. Just furiously trying to keep up with life.  More meaningful content coming soon, including a last CAOK push before Easter!

I hope you are all well!


Garden Spoils

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Goof ball in her element

I took back a return to REI yesterday and instead got this great hat. I’ve wanted a new hat for a while, but have been mindful of spending. Thankfully with the exchange, I got this dandy cap and a new blouse for $6. Woo! After Juliann, a friend and librarian, read the post yesterday — I realized the books I wanted were at the Phoenix Library, saving another $30.  Thank you for your detective work, J! I had a complete stamp card for the book I did purchase, costing exactly nothing. Double woo!


Remind me of pom poms

More flowers

With new accessories, I headed out to the garden. After an $8 splurge on new flowers and seeds, I cleared out the remaining cilantro and onions to make room for a new batch of basil and eggplant. I swung through Starbucks for another giant bag of coffee grounds and fed the garden. My neighbor asked if I was brewing coffee.

Nope. That’s just the way my garden smells.

Future pumpkins

Reaching for the sky

And imagine my delight when I found the pumpkins are coming up nicely! Grow little babies, grow!



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This week:

— I finished reading, “The Bookseller of Kabul” and started “Saving Fish from Drowning.” I picked up both of these at a new used bookstore in downtown Phoenix — Bard’s Books. If you are in the area, swing by. It is a great shop. This week I’ve got to pick up another copy of “The Power of One” — my favorite book of all time. I gift and recommend it often. {Asoloodle!} I am also looking for a copy of “The Blue Bear” and “The Metabolic Typing Diet” — which a Twitter friend highly recommends. I foresee an expensive swing through Changing Hands in my near future. In my financial defense –I did check the Tempe library first and no go.

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— I signed up for Netflix this week and got the first film: Burn After Reading. We should have burned it before. I am so turned off by violence on film these days, especially completely unexpected violence. Brad Pitt’s character is hilarious and adorable. Also, I love Tilda Swinton’s jewelry and clothing. Otherwise, this sucker isn’t worth renting. Next in the queue: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

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— I am cooking homemade pizza again tonight — artichoke and chicken

— I am knitting a scarf for a girlfriend who is sick and in need of serious dose of kindness

— I am stamping homemade cards for CAOK gifts to be sent next week

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— I am sewing four aprons and a diaper wall caddy to go with those cards
— I am working much of this weekend and already trying to plan a few hours here and there to play!

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Hope your week is also going well,



It dawned on me recently that as much as I talk about being healthy and loving to cook and garden, I certainly don’t practice all that I preach.

{Want to hear a secret? I’m a bit of a Diet Coke addict. The ingredients on the side of the can scare me to the point I can’t read them. I sip my soda and think, “la la la la la! This sweet brown nectar of the Gods loves me and is NOT going to make me sick one day. La la la la la!”}

I also know after slowly losing weight during the last few months that any drastic changes I make to my workout or eating routines don’t stick. If I back away bit by bit, I see success. And so, I’m cutting out the artificial sweeteners in my home. No more pink packets with the morning oatmeal or over the greek yogurt. Or in the ice tea. Or over popcorn. Instead I’m learning to taste food again. Oatmeal with a bit of cinnamon and milk tastes nutty and is remarkably good. Greek yogurt is sour enough to make me pucker a bit, but delightful in its own way.

I still haven’t cut out the Diet Coke, but I’m thinking about it. I know caffeine will be next and that makes me want to curl up for a nap with a giant bottle of Excedrin just mulling it over. I am not a pleasant person without caffeine (or at least for the first week.) Little by little, I’m cutting out the preservatives and junk. Enjoying spending time in the kitchen greatly helps; I can’t imagine trying to eat this way otherwise. We had meatloaf sandwiches on whole wheat bread last night with baked tofu chips. The only preservative was on the low-sugar BBQ sauce we used on the chips.

My diet is far from perfect and weekends, or gatherings with the girls, are often a complete wreck. But it is getting a bit better. I know I’ll feel better without all the crazy chemicals. Soon enough I’ll be buying all natural shampoo and saving the grey water for the garden. Oh, hippie life, how you encourage me to be better.



Morning in the garden

Lately my morning routine starts by going to the gym, coming home and putting steel cut oats on to cook for breakfast, and then stepping outside to water the garden. I cool off from my workout while watering and talking to the the plants.  By the time they are quenched, I’m ready for a shower and my breakfast is steamy.

The first tomato!

I am trying to be more dedicated about reading the Bible. I sit down with my oats and a copy of  “One Year Bible” and enjoy 15 minutes of meditation before leaving for work. I’d like to think this is making me a more focused and kinder person. If nothing else, it is giving me a peaceful start to the day and a better understanding of my faith.  Undoubtedly, the silence alone is making me more aware of the simple joys in life I may have otherwise overlooked. I skipped this morning when I saw the first tomato growing away on its green vine.

Beautiful organic eggs

The oatmeal today had a colorful companion. Greg gave me a dozen organic eggs from the Urban Farm yesterday. I can’t wait to have chickens at the community garden. The flavor of these eggs  is unlike anything else I’ve tasted; the yolks are luxuriously creamy and thick. The perch like little golden suns.

Organic eggs

I realized this morning when taking the egg shells to the composter what an unexpected life this is. I never imagined I’d find so much happiness in baking bread, knitting gifts, gardening and or spending time with God. For those most part, these elements were in my childhood here and there, but they weren’t ever what I thought would one day would be how I define who I am.

Waiting to rise

Portuguese sweet bread

Teaching my roommate how to bake bread? Such fun. Taking two loaves, warm from the oven, to friends as gifts? Wonderful.

Before roasting

Onions out of the garden

Roasted peppers, cilantro

Salsa for friends

Homemade spicy salsa

Making homemade salsa with ingredients from my garden? Fundamentally satisfying.

Time with friends, good music, great wine, healthy, fresh food, time to be creative and time to reconnect in prayer — these are my joys. I’m happy to be finding happiness in living with less and loving what I have.


Oh baby!


Spring has sprung and the babies are arriving in droves. Last week two girlfriends had babies — one after 42 hours of labor (!) and one after 5.5. Ms. Eloise has graced us with her presence and I can say the kid is as gorgeous as children come. She’ll join her cousin Roscoe in the league of adorable Brennan babies.

My attempt at embroidery

And so, the opportunities to create sweet gifts for the mamas and wee ones have sprouted in turn. I adapted the bunny pattern in”Last Minute Knitted Gifts” (what a misnomer!) to use dishcloth cotton. I thought the end result would be more baby-friendly, although I’m not opposed to every child having a bit of baby alpaca. Or cashmere. I am opposed to spending $30 on a skein of yarn for one baby project that more than likely would be put on a shelf and not played with if made from something so luxurious.

Butter Bunny

Back of Butter Bunny

In turn, I introduce Ms. Butter Bunny. Thanks to help from Finny, I was able to get through this pattern this first time. I know the next one will be remarkably better. And would you believe there was another knit bunny at the baby shower yesterday? Grrr…. At least the future mama seemed to love both. I also made her some burp cloths (from leftovers of the Christmas pants project) and a couple embellished onesies. It was a beautiful party and day!

Sweet little onesies


True Community

Laying them out


Planting with Greg

Trees planted

The community garden kicked off yesterday and we were able to plant 25 fruit trees. They took up remarkably little space, leaving plenty for another orchard planting for the Fall. We’ll then add apples, figs and peaches to our citrus grove. The planning for the citrus orchard was much to the thanks of Greg Peterson. If you’ve worked with this local “green” hero, you know how kind and easy-going he is. You’ll also know how knowledgeable he is. Working with dozens of volunteers yesterday, he smiled and taught countless times how to do the very basics of gardening and did so with sincere happiness. I owe him a great debt of thanks!

Jackhammering away

We also used a rented jackhammer to try to remove a concrete slab. What a mess! First, renting a jackhammer and having them load it in your tiny sedan raises a few eyebrows. Then imagine when you ask how to use it! Thankfully there were plenty of men around yesterday who wanted to wrestle with their inner construction worker and happily took on the job. After hours upon hours, we removed one-fifth of the concrete. I am going to plan B: call construction companies and beg for some free help. We need to remove the slab to plant our vegetable plots. The surrounding Bermuda grass make the land unusable without paying for extensive grass removal.


So, two steps forward, one step back. It was truly a wonderful day. I can’t wait to see these lovely Burmese, Burundian and Iraqi families return to the garden in a few years to reap the bounty of our work. There was one point where I had a Burundian baby on my back, my hands in the soil, a crisp blue Spring Arizona sky above and a nice wind blowing across my face. I’m not sure moments of grace come in any prettier or happier of packaging.

Working on the trees

I am incredibly blessed to be attending this church, at this time, with this calling to work with refugees and the ability to bring together like-minded folk to dig in and help. Woo hoo! And it looks like yesterday was a great day to kick off a garden.


Read: The Soul of Money

{Things are exceptionally hectic in my world this week; lots going on at work, preparing for a baby shower this weekend and can’t yet show what I’ve been busy crafting; feeding and spending time with the new roommate; trying to keep the garden alive with 90-degree temperatures already arriving; trying to keep my sanity while running a great nonprofit in this silly economy. More photos, time, love around here soon!}

I’ve been talking about this book for several weeks and recommending it to every friend I can think of, especially those who fundraise for a living. “The Soul of Money” has truly changed my views about finances — both personally and professionally. It has given me new found hope in both areas too. I’ve dogeared so many pages, it is hard to pick a quote that best sums the significance of this book, but this one comes darn close:

“In our relationship with money, we can continue to earn, save, invest, and provide for ourselves and for our families, but we reframe the relationship with a new recognition of and appreciation for what we already have. In that new way of seeing the flow of resources in our lives, rather than being something that is constantly escaping our grasp or diminishing, instead becomes a flood of nourishment and something we have the privilege of being trustees of for the moment. Our relationship with money ceases to be an expression of fear and becomes and expression of exciting possibility. The context of sufficiency can transform our relationship with money, with our resources, and with life itself.”

5 out of 5 stars, absoloodle!

Hope your week is peaceful and productive,