11–20 of 24 entries from the month of: March 2009

CRAFT-Along: Best Pizza Ever

March 16th

Dear Fin,

Guess who returned Friday? The Malawian/Aussie golfer roomie — Matt. He’s back to make another go of the professional golfing world in Arizona and now I have someone to cook for on a regular basis. {His family took care of me on the tea estate in Malawi last summer. They are some of the nicest people I’ve met. It is a pleasure to return the favor by hosting their son.}

Imagine my delight when I made our March CRAFT-Along pizza crust project last night and he said, “This is some of the best pizza ever.” Giddyup!

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

I did modify the recipe a bit by making the dough whole wheat. I’d never made pizza dough before, so we also had to take a quick trip through Target to get a pizza tray. With some rosemary from a friend’s garden, chicken and heaps of veggies — we ate like kings. This recipe is just too easy and I’m certain I’ll be making it again this week. I’m thinking artichokes, mushrooms, black olives and spicy red peppers.

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

Great choice Fin! (Although I still need to learn how to throw a pizza crust. Any suggestions?)

~Donk

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Conquering the Garden of Evil

March 14th

{I am going to uncharacteristically swear like a sailor in this post; consider it thoroughly influenced by dear Finny, the gardener who got me interested in all this mother of sweet holy moses nonsense in the first place. If you don’t like the f-bomb, take cover.}

A friday night that started with the best of intentions

Friday night started so well

Planting calendar

Welcome to the last 18 hours of my life. It started out well: new seeds from the Tucson trip, nice glass of Friday-night pink girly wine, and a lovely bag of succulent and cacti clippings a friend passed along. I am just adventurous enough in the garden that a sack of new plants makes my heart leap with happiness.

Bag of cuttings

The bag of succulents

Pretty variety

Weird cactus

Pretty

The sack did include some gems, but after going through my gardening stuff — I realized I needed potting soil. So, the wine waited and off I went to the nursery, where I also picked up a new hose and more worms for the composter. I came home, loaded up the new “soaker” hose and set it out on the back patio to get the earth drenched while I slept. (Couldn’t drink the wine because by the time I’d gotten home, a dozen bugs had decided to take a swim in my pink Friday treat. ) There were four large oleanders on the back section of my patio that I wanted to remove and knew I wouldn’t be able to touch them without getting the earth muddy beforehand. I turned on the hose, went out for a movie, got up and went for a hike this morning and came back to find the new hose in pieces.

Potting table, after

Soaker hoses? Fragile pieces of shit. Save your $15. Really mad I decided to buy gardening supplies in lieu of the basket at this point. The worms on the other hand? Happy little suckers and currently chomping away, making lovely compost. The soil I put to use and now have a pretty potting table full of gorgeous succulents. So, at this point I’m still in a pretty good mood.

Garden of Evil

Enter the oleanders, or as I will now refer to them — the plants of doom, sent by the devil, to torture me.

Three hours later

Quite some time of heavy shoveling later, I’d removed two of these fuckers and my arms look like I’m a heroin addict. I’ve got red, bumpy scratches all over my upper body and the wee bit of my lower legs that were exposed. Of course because the plants of doom are poisonous, these are puffy, ugly scratches morphing into welts. And really? There are only two things that could have made me grouchier.

1. Finding a snake in my garden.

Same snake, same fear

Check.

Snake size, by comparison

{HOLY MOTHER OF GOD. It is a baby and let me tell you, I killed it and then taunted the mother to come forward and show her evil face. Actually, I got the heebie geebies and screamed like I was losing my mind. And the snake may have been a little small, but a SNAKE nonetheless. Snakes are one of my greatest fears in life. Not happy at this point. And don’t dare think this is a worm and I don’t know better; it had a little head and black flickering tongue.}

Fucking oleanders

2. Having two rather strong neighbors walk by and each say, “Wow. That looks like hard work. Good luck with that.” as I am bending over, pulling and prodding with all of my might. Lend a hand? Nah. Make a stupid comment and walk by? Yes. Say it with me: Douche bags! Really not happy at this point.

See you later, plants of doom

Rather exhausted and trying to figure out how to cover my wounds. I should probably wash my mouth out with soap at the same time. Oh, and in 6 months, if all goes well — I’ll have some pumpkins, sunflowers and maybe a tomatillo or two.  In the meantime, really hoping there isn’t a mama snake.

~K

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Backstage

March 13th

Me, Sugar Ray, Nicole

Me*, Sugar Ray and my college-friend Nicole, backstage at That Damn Show in 1998.

My friend Eric recently emailed this photo and I honestly don’t remember meeting Mark McGrath. We were at a big concert in Phoenix under the guise of covering the music for the student newspaper. I remember Gwen Stefani — she was amazing. And that Cake rushed off the stage and were booed. Chances are I was one of the only sober ones in the entire stadium and this brush with fame doesn’t ring a bell. Actually, it just makes me miss Nicole. I have no idea where she is these days.

Backstage in real life, I’ve got a bunch of little things to catch up with this weekend. I’m using a new budgeting tool to stay focused with money and really need to teach myself how to do food budgeting. If there is one area where I simply spend way, way too much — it’s in groceries. When I cook, I like to have the nicest ingredients. I don’t mind going into a fancy grocery store for a certain kind of cheese or fresh herb. This is foolish behavior. I know better and it is time to get back to Crockpot cooking, eating leftovers and learning to cut (and use) coupons.

Otherwise, tomorrow morning I am looking forward to a long walk and breakfast with Clarita. I love this woman. We don’t get to spend enough time together now that we aren’t working in the same office and I really miss her company. I hope to lure her to have breakfast at the Old Town Farmer’s Market so I can splurge on one of those pretty baskets. I’ve intentionally cut my spending in other places this week so I could go visit Abdullah without the guilt trip. And hey, if I am carrying coupons, I might as well go to the market with a stylish basket, right? Ah, the rationale of a frugalista in training…

I’ve also got seeds to plant, a baby gift to finish, sewing projects overflowing on the kitchen table, a refugee prayer service to attend and a turkey to bowl. My bowling team wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if I bowled with any sort of ability. Wouldn’t that be a nice surprise?

Happy weekend friends,

~K

* This photo just about crushes any idea I had of being in shape in college. Yikes.

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Heroine

March 12th

A True Heroine

I’ve had amazing women guide my life, and my grandmother is at the top of the list. She’s a heroine for a dozen reasons, but this week namely for taking such good care of these characters:

And the old men sleep...

Pap sleeps

My great-uncle John and grandfather, respectively.  We came home from a fabulous errand to Native Seeds to find them “rooting” for the Wildcats. Probably not a bad idea they fell asleep — the Devils ate the Wildcats for lunch.

Grandma Max & Pap

My grandparents have always been some of my biggest supporters. They arranged my study-abroad in high school. They’ve attended my graduations and my grandmother is one heck of a pen-pal. You wouldn’t believe how many letters she sent me in Cameroon. They want the best for me and while we don’t always agree on what that looks like, I know fundamentally they want my happiness.

Plus, how sweet is my grannie? I just want to pinch her cheeks in this photo! Love that woman more than I can express.

~K

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Prickly

March 11th

Work is going so well, but I’m finding I don’t have enough time to get everything done I’d like to accomplish. On the home front, the garden is being watered, the laundry folded, the dishes washed. With ultimate frisbee tonight and a fair amount of gym time peppering my week, I’m tired. I’m off tomorrow to Tucson to help my grandma with my ailing grandfather and great uncle.I hope to spend a fair chunk of my time curled up on the couch with knitting and a journal. There are so many questions about their childhood I’d like to have answered. I figure tomorrow is a great time to visit and give Gram a chance to take some time for herself.

So, a bit of desert beauty to keep spirits high in the meantime. I hope your week is going well!

Desert Beauties

Desert Beauties

Desert Beauties

Desert Beauties

Desert Beauties

Desert Beauties

Desert Beauties

~K

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Agriculture Abounds

March 10th

Sarah, soaking up the sun

When Sarah arrived Friday night, we were both secretly a bit worried about our bloggy-friend adventure. Have you ever gone to the airport to pick someone up and had to look for an avatar? Yes, well, Friday was a first for me. But I knew somehow that having a friend from the blogosphere come for a weekend of knitting, eating, laying the park, going to church and speaking of faith, talking about books, watching documentaries and maybe a sangria margarita or two would be nothing short of fabulous. Sarah was up for it all, including a Ya Ya dinner party where she fell right into the cackle of our gaggle of girls.  We’ve chatted over the years after finding each other’s blogs and knew many of our interests were mutual. She’s a knitting triathlete. How bad could this be?

Two bloggers on a tractor

When I told her Saturday morning our plans for the day included driving to Superstition Farms to visit state “Ag” day, she didn’t wince. Perhaps its her Midwestern manners, as she was a trouper. As a food bank advocate, I wanted to attend the event to show support. The farm hosted anyone who wanted to come learn more about sustainable agriculture, have a cheap $1 lunch, see a petting zoo, ride a horse, etc.  It cost $2 a person to attend, or 3 cans of food. The food went to a local food bank and in turn, provided great exposure to hunger issues in the Valley. We were scooped up in the parking lot by a tractor-pull and I knew then the fun was just beginning. While this Missourian girl has way more experience than I do with country life, we were both squealing a bit at the fun of being driven around by a tractor. City girls, meet dairy farm.

Arizona Ag Day

After wandering around a bit, eating too much kettle corn, getting some good information on an upcoming Master Gardener’s course I’m going to take, and running into a group of Burundian refugees (no joke), we headed home. We watched the documentary, “Farmer John and the Real Dirt” which is exceptionally strange and entertaining. If you are interested in community supported agriculture, I’d highly recommend it. Sarah did indeed teach me to knit socks. I’d show you a photo, but my progress is so miniscule at this point you’d need a microscope to see what I’d accomplished. Regardless, she taught me the magic loop technique and I’m certain to have a pair done in the next five years or so. Tedious, tiny stitches, but they will be pretty.

MMMOOOOOOO!

We also raided my garden (for the first time!) to gather goodies to take to the aforementioned dinner party. Cilantro for some cilantro jalapeno hummus and greens for a salad. I am fully aware how silly it is that I’m this happy to be growing a few vegetables, but having a productive garden has been a life goal. So Saturday’s “harvest” was a  celebrated event.

harvest!

A dork grows onions

Out in the garden

Greens from the garden

march 8 2009 041

Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus

It was a very content moment when I washed dirt off of these vegetables to prepare them for friends — organic small-scale gardening at its best.

I look forward to Sarah’s return!

~K

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African-dar

March 9th

Abdullah shows his baskets for sale

Abdullah shows his baskets for sale

Abdullah shows his baskets for sale

My father jokes that if there is an African in the room, I can find and befriend him in no time flat. It seems whereever I go, I can find a friendly African face. This weekend, for example, I met Abdullah at the Scottsdale Farmer’s Market. If you are guessing that he was the only African in sight — you’d be right. The market is a hubub of pricey (while lovely) organic eats, crafts, cupcakes and Sweet Republic ice cream.

Ghanian baskets for sale at the Scottsdale Farmer's Market

Abdullah imports these baskets from his friends in Ghana and sells them for $30. I’m thinking they’d make pretty stellar Easter baskets. I’ve got to get back there to buy a few before the holiday arrives. It would be sweet to fill one of these with baked goods for my grandparents or books for a sick friend. I’m on a basket kick of late. I’d love a couple of these to use for shopping at the market too!

Ghanian baskets for sale at the Scottsdale Farmer's Market

Ghanian baskets for sale at the Scottsdale Farmer's Market

Or, you know, to carry Toto on my bike.

~K

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Hostess Basket

March 8th

Hostess basket

Le basket, complete

Craft-along challenge complete

Hostess basket filled

Hostess Basket

Phew. Finished just in time for Sarah’s visit. I enjoyed the basket project for our CRAFT along, but want to try it with thicker rope next time.

~K

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Community Garden: Phase I

March 6th

Asbury UMC Community Garden

Phase I of the community garden at Asbury UMC is a citrus orchard. Last week I convinced 18 folk to adopt a tree for the grove. Our goal is another 7 sold this week so we have 25 to plant on Arbor Day– March 20th. Our congregation is excited about the project and the local refugee population is stepping up to help do a lot of the planting. I am thrilled to be a part of this work. I can see this otherwise unused slot of land bloom into a lovely garden where we’ll all come together to learn.

Asbury UMC Community Garden

For example, did you know these date shoots can be transplanted? The things I’m learning this week are nothing short of nutty. (Or in this case, date-y.) We are hopefully going to  very gently harvest these and plant them along the front border of the church to provide a live fence. (Go, go gadget Peace Corps farming knowledge! I’ve used you so little. Welcome back!)

I am wrangling volunteers, begging friends with trucks to pick up loads of mulch and gathering shovels so the citrus grove can be planted. Within three years, we should have a bounty of fruit to keep hungry congregants, neighbors and refugees well fed. In the meantime, we’ll progress to Phase II — vegetable gardening plots and eventually Phase III. This is the one with which I’m most intrigued. I’ve long wanted chickens, much to my family and friend’s utter curiosity. I know they are filthy and noisey. I also know how incredible organic eggs are and the financial possibilities we can provide to a couple refugee families willing to take on animal husbandry. Did you know a chick will begin laying eggs after 14-15 weeks of development and the lay an egg every 27 hours for 52 weeks? With 10 chickens, we are going to make a boatload of money charging $4 a dozen for organic eggs at the Phoenix Farmer’s Market and to congregants. Money for refugee families who need work. Citrus, veggies and eggs for my belly. Really, what isn’ t there to celebrate?

Asbury UMC Community Garden

If you live in Arizona and want to get involved, all are welcome. Shoot me an email for the details.  (Shoot! Shoot me an email about shoots! Oh, the puns.)

I’d love to meet you and have you join in the fun!

Cheers,

K

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In Being Resolute

March 5th

Remember those 2009 resolutions I set two months ago? In an accountability measure, I’m checking in to see how things are progressing.

Olive Oil -- the greenest, sweetest ride in town

  • The novel published.   Nope. Haven’t done a darn thing. Not sure what my road block is with this. I want it more than anything and yet the rejection stings with a wicked vengeance.
  • A new sew-along with Finny.   Check!
  • More than a dozen meals cooked from those new cookbooks. Check!
  • 60 books read.   Not so much. I’ve read 10 or so this year, most of which I haven’t finished. I get 100 pages in and if I’m not loving it, I move along.
  • 1500 miles on the bike. Chris rides 500 a month. My friend JT rode 2400 last year. I can do this! Ha! Haven’t been on my bike in two months. Must pump up tires pronto!
  • Less TV watching. (This is actually a pretty easy one since my TVs soon won’t work.) Yes! Haven’t watched TV in weeks, actually.
  • More time being social. Indeed.
  • Giving Ultimate another shot. Yes. On a team, having a great time so far.
  • Giving dating another shot. Yep. Doing this too.
  • Taking yoga and pilates regularly. No. There is a new studio near my house but the extra $30 a month isn’t happening at the moment.
  • Resisting buying new and instead rocking what I already have. Yes. I am trying. Although this dress is calling my name.
  • Learning to sew a dress. This is my dream dress to sew. Thankfully Colleen found me a great pattern to work from. I may just try this.
  • Learning to hand quilt. Not yet, but I have a planned project for this and it involves a wedding and a quilt.
  • Learning to knit a pair of socks. With Zarah coming to town this weekend, I think I’ll get this checked off sooner than later. My own personal lessons!
  • Scheduling and running a couple more 1/2 marathons. Hmmm… haven’t scheduled anything, but would like to run the YMCA 1/2 in November and the Tucson 1/2 in December.
  • Giving my trainer and his new eating plan a fair shot. Doing it. And it is absolutely incredible. Loving my new-found physical strength and my clothing fitting much nicer.
  • Having my blog redesigned and expanded. To be announced soon!

How are your resolutions progressing?

~K

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