11–20 of 22 entries from the month of: October 2009

CRAFT October: Pumpkin Pasta

October 17th

Pumpkin Pasta

Dear Finny,

I got around to making the first of our October CRAFT selections and wow, this recipe is so very good. I made a few substitutions, including avoiding the half/half.  Instead I used a bit more sour cream and this was out-of-this-world-good. (I made an ass out of myself by saying so repeatedly until my guest finally agreed with my awesomeness and lack of humility.)  I also splurged for fresh sage, which we added to the chicken, instead of sausage, while cooking and then again as a garnish. Fantastic! A+ recipe.

Pumpkin Pasta

It dawned on me yesterday as a Freecycle stranger arrived to collect my TV that perhaps I am a wee bit ridiculous. Obviously there is a bit of stress happening in areas of my life I really cannot control.  And so, in reaction I decided that greatly cutting down the things I own would be the best idea. I can control this, in contrast. But really? I miss Khloe, Kim and Kourtney already, plus that banana crazed Rachel Zoe.

I can also quell the internal anxieties with really good food. The pasta? Topped by a great dessert:

Kaluha Coffee Chocolate Cupcakes

Dark chocolate kaluha coffee cupcakes — recipe improvised that includes a box of Devil’s Food Cake, lots of booze, dark roast coffee and sour cream.

After a whirlwind couple of weeks of travel, it does feel good to be home, in the kitchen and getting back to the routine. I’ve got a lengthy list of domestic duties keeping me happy today, including swinging through JoAnns to pick up some yarn for that other October project. I think Cody would look great with one of these on his snowboard this winter. Think green, without the cables.

Hope you are having a lovely weekend, my friend. I miss you like it is my job.


Posted in
Domestic Art, Journal, Kitchen Talk
Comments (9)


October 16th

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I am redecorating my home this month; while I have dreams of new furniture delivered in trucks in complete pieces that are gently placed in just the right spot, let’s be honest. I think I’ll be in the damn nordic screwdriver/chest of drawers in a box category for a few  more years.  With Matt gone, I’ve got a bit more space than normal and I go through purging and cleaning cycles seasonally. The off-white couch is taking a tinge of gray, thanks to years of use and its original hand-me-down status. It’s headed for the freecycle curb this afternoon. A few other things are being removed and simplified too. But more than anything, I’m finally quite sick of the mask and African decor. It’s only taken 10 years, but I am tired of looking at the relics I’ve collected from around the world startling me every time I get up in the night to use the bathroom.

You’d think I’d get used to it. Wrong.They are scary every. single. time.

So, with these Ethan Allen dreams and Target budget I am looking to repurpose a few things (pushing together tables to make a bookcase, reorganizing the kitchen and using the good China — a Dutch yard sale find — as regular everyday ware) and purchase a few select items too. I’ve long been in love with these WPA art posters. Have you seen them? They are the creations of artists during the Great Depression. Not surprisingly, two of their greatest influences (and greatest artists at the time) were Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Some of the posters are silly. Some are gorgeous. Some are racially horrific. * All tell a story of where our country was during one of our hardest times. So yes, my splurge includes a few of these beauties that I hope to have framed.

Amazing how a new splash of color here, a lot less junk there and a good cleaning will make my little place seem new again. Of course I’ll chronicle this nonsense with my camera as it all unfolds. Is there anything crafty/thrifty/creative you are doing in your home to make do and feel stylish?


*I’m not buying any of these with racial slurs, but wouldn’t the syphllis poster be funny in the guest bathroom?

Posted in
Good to Great, Happy Hippie
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Captain of the Dino Dorks

October 15th

Windy City

Want to hear a secret? I have a love of dinosaurs. I know. I know. This makes me even dorkier than the knitting/baking/gardening nerd you already knew.

But imagine my delight when I heard there would be time in the Windy City for the Field Museum, home of Sue and Lucy? WEEEE! (Official dork noise of happiness) I like being on a first name basis with fossils.

Love and marriage

So, we rounded up the gang and headed out through Grant Park to visit the museums.  Everyone else was more interested in the Shedd, which I visited last time. Fish smish. I wanted ROAR. (And please, who would win in a battle of T-Rex vs. fish?)

The Field Museum

Sue, the super dino. That’s who!

The Field Museum

Although this photo is blurry, it cracks me up how it looks like there is a little man in green dancing on her head. She’d name him “Snack.”

The Field Museum

The Field Museum

There were elephants and lions too. I really got lost in the plant exhibit that showed the different families of vegetation around the world. My head hurt and I realized I was feverishly trying to remember everything I was learning. I crave opportunities like this.

The Field Museum

The Field Museum

The Field Museum

I also bought a tiny blue dino t-shirt I’ll be rocking this weekend. Thanks Sue! You are swell! Also, thanks to Target who paid for all admissions that day. Weeee!


Posted in
Happy Hippie, Journal, Travel
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Change of Season

October 14th





Turns into a carriage at midnight

I think I may be coming down with a case of Stendhal’s. I could have spent hours spinning around the garden in Chicago, dizzy with cool air, soft, golden tones, and steam rising from the plants in the morning. The simplicities of life once again make me more aware; my senses were heightened, and  I tried to take the musty garden home with me in deep breaths.

I told you — Stendhal’s. Or seasonal appreciativeness. Your choice.

Spending a weekend with close friends was reaffirming. I’ve been struggling with work;  it can been incredibly defeating to try to lead a small, well-intentioned, poorly funded nonprofit at this time. Our mission is very specific and while our programs are flourishing, our finances look more like those decaying leaves. I’m pushing as hard as I can to get us to a fertile spring and fruitful summer. The girls reminded me I have what it takes — namely passion — to even change the seasons.

I’m changing seasons in my perspective too, trying harder than ever to appreciate this very moment. I’m guilty of bemoaning the happiness and saddness of the past and focusing on the future life I have planned without considering the joys of the one I’ve got.  I’m guilty of being a list maker — checking off tasks during the day with a sense of accomplishment but rarely fulfillment. I’m abandoning this outlook. All we have is today. I have so very much to be grateful for, including having a job, and those wonderful friends.

As my momma says, I’m much prettier smiling.


Posted in
Earth Mama, Happy Hippie
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October 13th

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I’ve been in Chicago for the last few days staying with these two. Jen and Kelsay were gracious enough to host several of us who traveled for another girlfriend’s wedding. Some 260-plus photos later, I have more than enough proof we had a lot of fun. So much so, in fact, that I’m still a little sick today — three days later. It has been a very long time since the 7 girls were in the same place. We most certainly made the most of the occasion. If you live in Illinois and wonder why it was hard to breathe this weekend, it could be from us sucking all the oxygen while talking and giggling.

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But, oh, the fun we had. Amanda rocked her new hair and wardrobe.

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We inhaled more food than imaginable, including some Italian meat sandwiches at the rehearsal and pizza (about five times).

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And oh, did we pose.

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And then we started all over again the next day for the wedding. And what a party wedding it was! It was just such a great time. I’ll remember this wedding for the sweetness in the ceremony, for Kacey making everyone blush by her gorgeous dress and happiness on her wedding day, and the laughter.

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Min even rallied and made it to the ceremony about 20 minutes after having the flu. Trooper.

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Jen and Keith came with the Arizona crew too. It was so nice to have so many people we love in one place.

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Did I already mention how beautiful she looked? Stunning. It always makes me cry a little when my girlfriends get married.

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And how gorgeous are her bridesmaids? Loved the dresses!

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Now, all the gushy, sentimental stuff aside — here come some of the silly photos I probably shouldn’t post. But then again, I talked about hemorrhoids on Friday and got a call from my minister — so it won’t be the first time I embarrass myself around here.

Who wears a Cubs jacket to a wedding? Really? Not that I care, but the groom is a rabid White Sox fan, so it was the ultimate taboo. Plus, as you can tell, everyone else managed to find an adult jacket.

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But we quickly forgot such fashion faux pas as we entered the reception and began our celebrations…

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The good news? We were in good company.

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And these are the tame shots. We’ll stop here, shall we?

Okay — two more:

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Why are we giggling like this in the back of a car?

Taco Bell anyone?

Because our new boyfriend just gave us free cinnamon twists with our order. Thank you Amanda and your flirting prowess at 1 am. I haven’t seen that in action since college.

To be honest, I don’t think I’d seen a Taco Bell drive-thru at 1 am since then either.

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Congratulations Mrs. Tonelli! I am so glad we were all there to celebrate this wonderful weekend with you.


Posted in
Celebrate!, Journal, Travel
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October 10th


My mom was nicknamed Cynthia by my brother when we were in elementary school. When she did something that annoyed him, he’d put his hands on his hips and say in a June Cleaver tone, “Cynthia!” If you aren’t laughing at the thought of a blond little boy channeling 1950s TV, I guess you had to be there. It is still a silly joke in our family today and I’m pretty sure it still gets my mom’s feathers ruffled.

San Antonio Quilt Fair

When he was in college, Cody started speaking like a rapper — logically. So, Mom became Moms. To his horror, she adopted this and still signs most email and any other correspondence to her children with the bizarre moniker. I suppose she learned in that time that if you can beat them, join them.

Dear Jane

Our matriarch is a quilter, as I’ve mentioned a thousand or so times before. She recently showed at a quilt exhibit in San Antonio and came home with a chest full of ribbons. She sent the photos yesterday and I have to say, I’m pretty darn proud of the Moms.

Dear Jane

These included her “Dear Jane” quilt, which I’ve been promised. I am so very happy to have this quilt one day. It is an heirloom item, along with a book of stories about our family and what was happening in the world when she made each square.

Good work Cynthia MOMS!


Posted in
Domestic Art, handmade, Journal
Comments (18)


October 9th

I am traveling again this week, so imagine my delight when I came home to find this in my mailbox (filled with chocolates, no less):


Why yes, that is the cowgirl bag I admired several weeks ago on Julia’s blog. She made it for me, including that incredible handmade tag. It is loaded and in Chicago with me for the weekend. Love!

Thank you, Julia. What an incredibly thoughtful gift. I had my friend O take the photo yesterday morning after breakfast. I thought the cacti coordinated nicely; he thought I was crazy.

Speaking of Chicago, how about that President of ours?! Wow! Mr. President, Nobel Peace Prize Winner. Put that in your pipe, Darth Vader Karl Rove. (To be honest, I’m a little surprised by the announcement. Not that I don’t believe in our President, but wowza. That’s fast. I can only imagine the hemorrhoids currently boiling on the butt of Glenn Beck.)

I’m spending the weekend in the Midwest with some of my closest friends. We are attending a wedding tomorrow night that has been anticipated for, oh, 18 years or so. And I couldn’t be happier to be here, right now, with these wonderful friends enjoying this great time. Today, I’m off with the husband of one of my friends for an adventure. He’s a botanist and we need to collect seeds for future greenhouse work. A 3-mile hike, smart conversation, dogs and cool weather. Ahhh, this is one hell of a life I’ve been given.

Giddy up, cowgirl — away!


Posted in
CAOK, Journal, Travel
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October 7th


To be baby clothes

For a couple baby girls on the way


I am newly in love with an acoustic group called “Bonobo” — yes, like the monkeys who define aggressively sexual behavior. The group is so very good and I’ve found I’m working at a different pace as they play along each morning. I am also enjoying another new music recommendation — Zoe Keating. Have you heard of her? She plays the cello with a balance of grace and fervor. For Pandora listeners, they’ll come up on the same queue. You can thank me later.

I’ve been struggling a bit lately with loyalty and commitments. Not to those I love — those rules are simple  — but to community responsibility and work. I’ve over-committed in a few areas and decided to end projects that simply weren’t working. The community gardening with the high school kids? Not happening any longer. There was a disagreement with other leadership at the school and I just didn’t have the energy to fight for a project I hadn’t asked to do. Secondly, the SOF group is no longer. I tried stoking the fires at my church and with my friends to talk about faith; ultimately I need to realize that while this is important to me, it isn’t to 90% of my social circle. They are smiling through my requests, but truly not interested. We have different passions and I should appreciate everyone isn’t excited about the same cup of tea, so to speak.

It is hard for me to cut ties. While I say I’m black and white, really most of my priorities remain in a silvery gray mess that keeps me wondering whether I should really give it my all, or walk away. Saying goodbye to both of these projects felt freeing. With people, those lines are a bit more difficult. I’m subject to staying in bad friendships and relationships because I pride loyalty over self-contentment. I think being true to your commitments is far more important than being on a quest for what’s right. For the most part, this dedication to fidelity has worked in my favor.

{And if nothing else, it gives me a great soapbox from which to yell at douchebaggy friends who cheat. There is nothing like a side of moral superiority and a dash of cynicism with your morning coffee.}*

Have you ever felt like you need to stick with a relationship, friendship, job or a commitment even though it wasn’t in your best interest? How did you handle it? Did you ever move on too hastily and then wonder what fueled your burst of impertinence?

Lots of heavy pondering for a Wednesday morning — one that started with a line up of sweet new sewing supplies and a great run with Salty. He has a way of getting me thinking.


*I stuck up for David Letterman this week in complete contrast to what I’ve written. I guess I’d hoped this affairs had happened before he was married or in a relationship with his wife.I also hope not to know the intimate details of the lives of others.

Posted in
Domestic Art, Faith, Happy Hippie
Comments (18)


October 6th


old fashioned


If that sound you hear faintly in the background reminds you of 3 million people skipping, holding hands and singing, “At last!” — that’s because autumn has graced Phoenix with her presence.

Ah, happiness with a chance of new boots. My very favorite forecast! Statewide, we’ve officially transitioned from “surly” to “smug.” And now I get to rub in how amazing my weather is for the next six months and feel vaguely superior to those dealing with ice scrapers, frost bite and gardens that freeze. While others stoke up fires, I’m going to pull out the winter wardrobe — shirts with sleeves.


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October 5th


I learned to ride a horse in preschool thanks to Rawhide. Once upon a time, this cowboy touristy town was located in north, north Scottsdale . My dad loved to go to Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse and then take his two little ones to enjoy a piece of the wild wild west. I have a photo, wearing a turquoise blue polo shirt and plaid shorts, on the back of a donkey at Rawhide. I am in kindergarten and am already a prissy girl wanting a pony.

Laura Ingalls Wilder-inspired

So when a friend gave me tickets to visit the new Rawhide (relocated to the Chandler area) — I jumped. Little did I know how much I was actually going to jump…

Giddyup, pardner

Giddyup partners, this is a scary tale of how my childhood memories of a cowboy town were turned upside down, inside out and into a tale of adult horror.


The wild west has been taken over by zombies.


And death.


And while the marshal no longer wanted to find me a pony, he did want to shoot me, chase me and scare the living bejesus out of me.


Alma agreed. Death did not suit her either.

Alma and a zombie

Especially when the zombies snuck up behind her…

Scared the crap out of her

Although it does make for a pretty funny photo!

The Asylum Haunted House at Rawhide is now open and may I just say, it is very, very scary. I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone younger than 18. While the shoot-out western show is campy and fun, the haunted house is nothing short of terrifying. At one point, I was being chased by man carrying a chainsaw.

So, if this sort of thing is up your holiday alley, give it a whirl.  It was a spooky, fun time, but I did miss the peaceful pony ride.


Posted in
Arizona, Celebrate!
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