11–20 of 26 entries from the month of: August 2009

They Turn into A Carriage at Midnight

August 19th


The pumpkins are growing at amazing speed, in part because I keep forgetting to turn the water off and they’ve received gobs of liquid love during the last month.


Even those little African seeds have taken off; I swear there are days I come home from work to find a new leaf has grown. Amazing! I can’t wait to see what happens to these in the next two months.



I know this may not look like much, but to me it means the world. I am finding myself in a strange area of transition. Like many, my job security is questionable. Add that to a spreading case of wanderlust and I am once again considering serious change.  Not just the little change, like canceling my gym membership after 15 years at the same place, or dramatically altering my spending habits thanks to a good kick in the pants from my financial advisor.

The life I’d been dreaming of and planning for doesn’t seem to make sense now. Instead, there are suddenly new opportunities to consider and I’m not sure what to do. I know leaving my tight web of friends in Phoenix for the lure of cooler weather won’t make me happier long-term. And yet, I crave a new start. I want to be near my family. I want four seasons. I want to live in a place where I feel like one of the gang and not a fish out of cultural waters.

silver leaves?

matty watering away

matt's babies grow

zucchini leaves

And so, I go out into the garden and daydream, mulling over the choices ahead. These little plants serve as a great daily reminder to thank God for what I do have, right here, right now, within my grasp.


Posted in
Earth Mama, Happy Hippie, Journal
Comments (21)


August 18th



button and ribbon closure



My first custom order completed. Kate Spade, watch out. (ha!)


Posted in
Domestic Art, Handmade goods
Comments (21)

Men in Trees

August 16th

We have this date palm at the community garden that came from two congregants who visited Israel in the 1970s and brought home a date. Needless to say, the palm is now giant and has a bunch of babies (shoots) around its trunk that are ready to be transplanted. I know several local botanists and groups interested in having one of these transplanted babies for varying projects. And so…

looking at the babies

I’ve been bugging permaculture friends for help. They suggested I contact the head tree dude (horticulturalist) at the Phoenix Zoo. He knows his palms, dates and there are a few other crazy puns I could come up with; let’s just say he is a sweet man who took my request to hover over him with my camera while he transplanted a date palm in stride. See? Good dude.

The specifics


a wee bit early


Shoot to be transplanted

Replacing a baby

This is how I found myself first thing in the morning at the Phoenix Zoo with two tree men, a shovel and lots of animal gossip. Did you know people regularly abandon their exotic animals at the zoo? Apparently they think the zoo will take care of the peacocks, pythons and even an alligator with its mouth taped shut! Goodness. Instead, these pets have to be handed over to rescue groups. Thankfully, they didn’t tell me about the roof rat/snake issue they are currently having among the palm groves until we were golf-carting away. Yikes.

Harmony Farms



Pretty pommies

Pretty fruit, itchy leaves

If you ever have a chance to visit the zoo, check out the grounds too. This guy is very, very good at his job. He’s spent more than a decade planting varieties of trees to match animal environments. As you might expect, he’s exceptionally patient and I did in fact learn how to transplant a date palm. I see now why so few people do this. It is a lot of grunty, sweaty work. We’ll see if it actually happens at the community garden.

Also? He looked the other way when I swiped guava, pomegranate and figs to save the seed for my future backyard. I told him he could keep the alligators (heirloom and transplanted) for himself.


Posted in
Community, Happy Hippie, Journal
Comments (9)


August 14th

Nice melons

A television station in Japan contacted me this week to see about an interview for how a typical American is changing her lifestyle since the great economic nonsense of 2008. Raised in a frugal, creative home — I’d say I’m lucky to have learned early not to buy what I cannot afford, to give back whenever possible and to save as much as you can as long as you can still go on vacation. We may have eaten generic cereal, but next to the box in the pantry was a giant glass jar where the family change was collected. Each year, we put those pennies to great use at the fish taco stands in San Diego. My parents did much with little and taught us both how to live a life of spiritual luxury.  Having a fancy swimming suit for the beach wasn’t my mother’s priority. Making sure the waffle maker was packed so she could afford to feed us breakfast in the hotel room before we hit the beach each morning was.

Reasons I’m loving this time of life, recession or not:

Planted: July 25, 2009

– I tore up a bunch of ugly bushes and turned the small plot into a happy, crazy garden. For less than $50, I’ve got more than 3 dozen pumpkins, squash, tomatillos, rosemary, basil and even a hearty watermelon going wild. I didn’t let a tiny space (or lack of funding for a house with a proper yard) deter the desire for a garden. I now firmly believe you can garden with just about any space available. If I can do this, so can a trained monkey. Shoebox on the kitchen counter? Just make sure it gets enough light.  Acre of church property? Find a friend with a tractor. With a little land, a few friends to provide seed and a good bit of patience — you can feed hungry folk in your community for very little.


– I learned to can. Again, for less than $50, I took a class at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum and purchased the necessary supplies. Now I know how to make jam from cactus. And yes, I know that sounds ridiculous, but you haven’t tasted the fuchsia deliciousness.  Soon enough, I’ll have that yard and the giant garden and I’ll be canning tomatoes and fruit like Finny to be put away for the winter. Eventually, both the gardening and the preserving will lead to a more sustainable life that allows a wide variety of eating without putting demand on the earth to bring fresh peaches to the desert in January. I’ll just open my own jar, thankyouverymuch.

Knitting Night

– I got over a social fear of “real life” vs. “Internet” friends. This year I’ve met some pretty amazing women through blogging and the local interwebs community. It is fun to share ideas and encouragement from behind the computer screen. It is way more fun when you meet those friendly faces in person and the friendship blossoms into an entirely new bouquet.  Really, the quilt of sincere, kind and thoughtful folks I call friends is precious. I’m keeping myself wrapped tight.

Pizza for knitting dinner

– I learned to feed many with very little. The community dinners of 2007-2008 is turning into a cookbook — a guide for how to invite friends, neighbors and — gasp! — even strangers over to enjoy a good meal. Cooking basic meals that require no stress but much laughter is one of life’s sweetest joys. Recipes for chicken enchiwawas and turkey lasagna are done, and  this veggie pizza recipe has been blogged time and time again.

Squaretop Mountain

– And while I have so many things I am still trying to change about myself and learn, I’m just so incredibly happy with less. Where I once dreamed of flying to Paris, instead I drove to Wyoming. I spent two weeks on the road on a spiritual and healing journey that cost less than $400 for the whole darn thing. I’m shopping at thrift stores and finding gorgeous retro dresses I’m making my own with a few alterations. The librarians in town are some of my newest heroes. Plus, the roommate regularly does house repair, cooks meals and serves as the head trash/recycling King. (Yep, that’s a title around our castle)

My car has dents. My jeans have holes. My dishes are chipped. My hair hasn’t been cut in months. My soul is happier than it is has been in a very long time.

And so, Japan, this is my new American dream — living within my means and doing so joyfully.


Posted in
Community, Domestic Art, Goals, Happy Hippie
Comments (20)

A Little Birdie Told Me

August 13th

A little birdie told me...

Thank you a thousand times over for your responses to the poll earlier this week. Thanks to your suport, the boutique will launch November 1. Also, t-shirts will be sold pre-order. We are working out the details.

Have you ever had one of those chunks of life you know will be pivotal to your Lifetime movie autobiography one day? Or perhaps ESPN or E! True Hollywood Stories? (This new cable thing is haunting me, if you can’t tell.) A couple of times in the last few months I’ve had days when I swear I can hear the soundtrack of my life movie playing the background.*  Oprah would call them “a ha!” moments — those snippets of time when all of a sudden you see your capabilities and strengths in an entirely new light.

Your encouragement for the boutique has been such a great reassurance — and perhaps one of those moments I’ll always look back on as the catalyst for great, creative change in my life. I’m spending  hours working on patterns, selecting fabrics, looking for appropriate areas to photograph projects and researching shipping options. I will say, I was touched by how many of you mentioned you already have one of my bags, t-shirts, creations and use it happily.  Merci!

Now, back to those sketches…


* The bluebird scene from 500 Days of Summer got me thinking too. The spectrum of emotion can be a wicked arc. And as for the soundtrack of mi vida? It would be the new Dave Matthews CD. I finally got my hands on a copy and it is sweet, thoughtful and so very beautiful.

Posted in
Domestic Art, handmade, Happy Hippie
Comments (3)

A Question or Two

August 11th

Baby Elephant Gift

Quick poll:

1. Would you be interested in supporing an Africankelli online boutique carrying a few select handmade items?

2. Would you consider buying an Africankelli t-shirt to benefit a charity of my choice?

Please leave your comments below. To entice you to delurk, I’ll be picking 3 commenters randomly to receive one of those boxy bags filled with goodies. (And if you are a dude, I’ll make you a macho bag full of rocks and sticks and tiny bottles of booze. Deal?)

Thank you!


Posted in
Domestic Art, Goals
Comments (106)

Frugalista Homestead

August 11th

Matty's sprinkler

Recycled sprinkler

Matty took a juice bottle and transformed it into a sprinkler after spending countless hours outside in the heat watering the pumpkins. The boy is smart. If you had to pick a roommate, pick one who grew up in Africa. He is resourceful beyond belief. Plus, it is pretty funny to watch him watching the neighbors walk by staring at the recycled trash in our garden. Pretty soon they’ll be walking by staring at giant pumpkins.


Spanish rice


In turn, I’ve been busy in the kitchen cooking chicken enchiladas, Spanish rice and turkey lasagna for the week’s meals. Along with many of my girlfriends lately — but this one in particular — I’ve been cutting coupons, planning meals and saving a boatload. It seems so luxurious and silly now to spend $14 on a glass of wine at happy hour when I know I can get a good (enough) bottle for $10.  For $50 in groceries this week, I made 32 portions of food. The majority were frozen for future lunches.  Granted, these will be supplemented with fruit, salad, etc. Now, if I could just figure out how to cut out my Zappos habit, I’d be in the money!


Posted in
Domestic Art, Happy Hippie, Kitchen Talk
Comments (8)

Scrappy, Patchy and DONE

August 10th

CRAFT August


I completed the first 6 patchwork placemats this weekend. Good thing because the bridal shower was Saturday afternoon.

CRAFT August

CRAFT August

CRAFT August

They almost weren’t completed. Why, you ask? Because I sewed them wrong sides together at 5 am on Saturday after working late on Friday night. Bleery-eyed sewing does no one any good. The only reason these babies made it photographed, wrapped and delivered by 2 pm was thanks to the roomie. He took them out of my hands with the seam ripper and gave them back to me in ready-to-be-sewn-correcly stacks. I was in a bit of a fury when I realized that I’d sewn the completed patchy tops, the batting and the backing together incorrectly.  I was also running on very little sleep and a lot of Diet Coke. Thankfully, his patience saved the day.

scrappy placemats

CRAFT August

So pretty! And really the part that makes me the happiest is all of the fabric for these (and 4 more still waiting to be completed for chez moi) was out of the scrap box. Love it!

The bride was pretty happy too. Thankfully most of my friends are keen to my crazy sewing and hippie ways these days.

Hope your weekend was lovely, sweet friend.



Posted in
Domestic Art, Happy Hippie, Sew Along
Comments (11)

SOF: Fishing with Mystery

August 9th

This week’s Speaking of Faith is a re-run, an episode I actually remembered well. It aired last summer for the first time, when I was busy in the kitchen baking and dreaming of learning to fly fish. This year, I listened again with rapt attention — amazing considering fly fishing by radio initially sounds as fascinating as watching paint dry. But in truth, the way Krista Tippett and James Prosek discuss the art is nothing short of captivating.

Prosek is the author of  “Trout : An Illustrated History” and “The Complete Angler.” Both of these have been added to my wish list; I anticipate purchasing them for my brother and Adam, and recommending them to several other friends who adore being outside in the water. Finny is a fly fisherwoman. Listening to her describe the “zen rhythm” of casting, daydreaming and imagining the world underfoot got me thinking. I should try this.

In truth, I did try this summer for all of 30 seconds. Adam tried teaching me on the Green River in Wyoming; I hooked the back of my hand and had enough all too quickly. I connected with Prosek’s description of fly fishing being so similar to faith in that both require patience beyond belief. Neither are about immediate gratification.

The irony is I was punished with fishing as a child. My parents would take away my books and make me go with them to fish when I was grounded. How I hated it!

I particularly enjoyed two points:

1. Creativity is a gift from God because He is the creator.


2. This quote from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden:

Sometimes, after staying in a village parlor till the family had all retired, I have returned to the woods, and, partly with a view to the next day’s dinner, spent the hours of midnight fishing from a boat by moonlight … communicating by a long flaxen line with mysterious nocturnal fishes which had their dwelling forty feet below… It was very queer, especially in dark nights, when your thoughts had wandered to vast and cosmogonal themes in other spheres, to feel this faint jerk, which came to interrupt your dreams and link you to Nature again. It seemed as if I might next cast my line upward into the air, as well as downward into this element, which was scarcely more dense. Thus I caught two fishes as it were with one hook.

I can’t wait to give this sport another try.


Posted in
Faith, Media
Comments (5)

Cookies are a Sometime Food

August 7th

August CRAFT

August CRAFT

August CRAFT

Got those Ginger Spa cookies baked last night. In a trifecta of efficiency, these will feed guests at a fundraiser tonight, go to a bridal shower tomorrow and if there are any leftover, potentially end up in a care package delivery for my grandparents too. They are cake-y, but really quite good. The recipe is super simple and if you are  a Phoenician — cake mixes at Basha’s are on sale this week. I’m trying to shift my shopping to Basha’s to help until they right their financial ship. They are very generous in the Arizona community and I hate to see local businesses suffering. And so, the cookie brigade to the rescue!

Hey, it’s what I can do.


And then there is this beast. I’ve been staying at a friend’s house for the last couple of nights and spending gobs of time with sweet Esther. She’s an adorable terror.

Cookies and puppies — apparently I’m still a little kid — but how can these not make anyone happy?


Posted in
Happy Hippie, Kitchen Talk, Sew Along
Comments (9)