Humpty Dumpty

450 Eggs

Have you ever wondered what 450 plastic Easter eggs look like? Well, there you go. Why are these heaped on my living room floor? Because I am organizing the egg hunt this Sunday at church for the kids. So, off to Coscto and the dollar store I went and a couple hours of craziness later…

450 Eggs

450 Eggs

450 Eggs

450 Eggs

they were each filled. Eventually I started finding a sick pleasure in color coordinating each candy to the color of the egg. I moved quickly, while listening to NPR, contemplating a few new challenges and wondering if it was wrong to scratch such an unhealthy itch. Like many, when something suddenly spins out of control, I find a sincere pleasure in being hyper-controlling of other things. So, while I can’t do anything to change Arizona’s state budget, I can bleach my floors. I can place watermelon candy in pink eggs. I can pull out the toothbrush and Comet.

Let me explain.

Yesterday I came into work, high from my great trip to San Francisco and excited about the day ahead, when my boss called a quick meeting. State funding cuts in Arizona led to the cancelation of my program and job over the weekend. I’ve got a few more months here, thankfully, to figure out the next move.  Phoenix, the fifth largest city in America, will still be without a strong public health graduate program. Our health will suffer as  result. And the short-sighted Phoenician status quo drags its statistically obese, skin cancer-prone, Type II diabetes-laden self forward to an early death.

But hey, something had to be cut — right?

I’ve got no clue what I’m going to do next, but there is certain to be an adventure around the next corner. In the meantime, I’m making the most of the sudden free time I have by cleaning (see above: bleach, Comet, toothbrush) and making sure my life is otherwise as tidy as possible. This is the only way I know how to cope with sudden change: pick up the pieces where they are and make the best of it for the time being. And Magic Eraser the baseboards, logically.



Two of my favorite peeps

My recent and quick trip to the Bay area was so worthwhile; not only did I get to dust off a jacket and the trusty suitcase, but the conference was fascinating. Say it with me — Praise GOD for the interesting conference! How many have you been to where you itch for your desk because the material is so dry? In contrast, these few days provided folk so knowledgeable and passionate about public health, I wanted to soak up as much as I could get.

The icing on the cake was the time I had to spend with friends between sessions.

Finny and her hubby “Bubba” are two of my favorite people. We have the sweet sort of friendship that we pick up just where we left off, checking up on families, jobs, hobbies and there not being an ounce of guilt that there were missed milestones between. Bubba, Fin and I worked together in college running the school newspaper. We spent more hours together than apart during those few years, and seeing each other in moments of sheer exhaustion and on brief waves of AP Style highs has left us forever bound (punctuated?). There are others in this group, scattered across the United States, running photo companies, working for small town papers and giant city rags. I am so very glad by happenstance I ended up in the newsroom one day, working for Bubba and splitting countless tamale combo platters with Finny.

Our dinner last week was too short. In a blink we were headed opposite directions once again but I felt more fulfilled. It’s a hard feeling to describe — that sense of contentment after spending time so appropriately, knowing you’re richer for having these wonderful people in your life and that your friendship is truly something as rare as a correctly spelled Lumberjack headline.

(Also, the way we are posed, it looks like their new foreign exchange student just arrived and they are posing with her for the family photo to be sent home. Si?)

Golden Gate Bridge

This was as close as I got to the queen of the city, the Golden Gate. Look closely, Waldo, and you’ll find her.

View from Burger Bar

And Union Square, oh, how I dream of you. Not for the shopping — although let’s be honest, being there while Macy’s was having their flower show was a true delight — but for the people, culture and oddity that is San Francisco. So many happy people were draped across the sunlight like house cats enjoying their lunch hours and purring at the enchanting spring weather. The cherry trees were in full bloom too, with bursts of white and the softest of pink.

The fashion in this city is lovely too. I forget how strange Arizona is when it comes to the fashion “norm” until I travel to a larger city. It was fun to see such individuality expressed.

Burger Bar

And one last gratuitous food photo — this bison blue cheese burger from Burger Bar was split with the very sweet Ms. Katy. Yet another charming blogger meet up among girls who’ve chatted online for years. (Katy reminds me a lot of Zarah, who I had the pleasure of meeting last year.) Kind, quiet, triathlete, incredibly creative, seamstress, an eye for color and fashion — I’d be begging her for sewing lessons if we lived in the same city. Again, their friendships are another affirmation there are folks that love X, Y, and Z just like me!

It was a wonderful, while all too brief, getaway and a great reminder of the value of friendship — new and old.


San Francisco

I’m in SF for a few days for a conference and plan on spending every free moment wandering with my camera and appetite. This city is nothing if not full of strange sights and great food.

Will it let you down?


San Francisco


San Francisco

pollo asada

Pancho Villa

The pollo asada super burrito at Pancho Villa was B+. That carrot-based orange salsa? A++. And the agua de jamaica was out of this world. Lovely first meal in the windy city.


Day 60

yoga #60

I’m terribly shiny, but also very happy (cue REM song) in this photo: taken before my 60th bikram class. Yesterday I completed that challenge and it was worth every sweaty drop of frustration. A note of gratitude:

Thank you to my friends and family who’ve listened to me work yoga into just about every conversation I’ve had for the last two months. For your patience and kindness, I am very grateful. Thank you especially to Lisa, Kim, Juliann and the African for coming out for the final class.

Also, to Bikram Tempe — owned by two of the sweetest people — Elaina and Ben. The married pair have a staff that made showing up for class each day something to look forward to. Depending on the teacher, the class was to be relaxing, screamingly difficult or a happy medium. Thank you to the entire staff. You have my admiration.

I’d love to say I feel enlightened. Or just lightened. I’m a few pounds down and definitely more in touch with my spirit — but I’m far from either zenith. Instead what I feel for the first time in my life is a sense of balance. I’m happy. I’m not ecstatic and I’m not depressed. I’m in this great gray zone that is unprecedented. I’m also far more confident in my body’s prowess. It’s more than likely just a change in perspective, but now I look at my form with a sincere respect for what it is capable of accomplishing. I’m far more flexible and wonder if I’m even a bit taller from all that stretching. I certainly carry myself with more confidence.

I’m stronger in body and mind; that alone is worth continuing Bikram.

I’ve found myself recommending Bikram to friends and anyone who will listen. Can’t sleep? Take yoga. Feeling blue? Yoga. Angry, lack of purpose, unhealthy, antsy? Bikram. Simple as that. It isn’t about 90 minutes, or the heat or wearing Spandex in public (although all are painfully part of the package). It’s about surrendering. You check your ego, body image, social status and importance at the door and enter into a healing atmosphere where everyone and every body is of equal importance. It is more than fulfilling — it is life changing.

Namaste friends,



Remember how I mentioned I wanted tomato teepees, thanks to Organic Gardening?

Tomato Teepees

Voila. Yet another project the African successfully took on. These plants have responded to a little TLC with fury. They have grown so much since this photo, taken just a few days ago.


And there is a bit of landscaping prep happening for the upcoming garden party. I love marigolds — the way they smell and that they keep bugs away. I also admire their bright, unapologetic brashness. (And on a practical note, if I keep these watered, they’ll thrive in the Arizona heat.)

Also, by chance anyone from Organic Gardening happens to catch wind of this post — your magazine is fabulous. I truly enjoy it and cut out pages and pages of idea from the latest and then gave the skeleton to a friend to enjoy. However, poly-bagging your magazine? YOU ARE CALLED ORGANIC GARDENING! Really, a ridiculous disappointment.


Girls Gone Mild*


The girls and I (minus the two Yas in Chicago) hit the scene in Scottsdale this weekend for a bit of debauchery and shenanigans.

Happy girls

Las Amigas

Big Mouth

(What, me? Big mouth? Bossy? You don’t say…)

Jackie Would be Proud


In truth, what 10 years ago would have been a night of dancing, club hopping and drinking was instead a much subdued night of great food, karaoke** and being in bed by 1. And of course homemade baked goods. Ah, how things have and haven’t changed.


*100% stole “girls gone mild.” I overheard it at a baby shower last weekend. Couldn’t be more appropriate, however.

** Come to find out, I HATE karaoke. I’m happy to sit in the crowd and sing along, but please don’t expect me to hold the mic.

He’s Handy

The gate, before

I have a bunch of fixes that need to be done around my small home. Some of them scare me (electric, plumbing) to try myself. Some I’m just clueless where to start (cutting new screening for a window, replacing a bathroom cabinet.) I finally resorted to requesting handyman recommendations from friends on Twitter when Matty caught wind of my plans.

To say his ego was wounded was a bit of an understatement.


Um, my friend? My roommate? Not someone I would expect to use power tools?


Adios, old, saggy gate

Once the all-CAPS screamy voice stopped, I asked if he’d consider building a new garden gate. The current gate is old and sagging. The wood is warped and it no longer opened entirely because the length had sagged lower than the height of the exterior walkway. In other words, it was real damn annoying to use and we’d been doing so for years.

Amazed I own tools

He works

He works

Welcome to the gun show, ladies

Enter Matt, the African educated golfer who swooped into the hardware store and $30 and 2 hours later created an entirely new gate.

The end! New Gate!

There was much personal satisfaction from this little project and much admiration and fawning on my part. I honestly would start this sort of project in a burst of enthusiasm and end up in the ER with 8 fingers. He made it look easy. And in all fairness, from what he says, African prep school is far more practical. They didn’t spend nearly as much time learning useless theorems when they could have been learning how to replace a farm’s water pump, a car engine and apparently — basic carpentry.

Makes my senior year of creative writing look pretty shabby by comparison. Or does it? I did creatively sweet talk him into building the gate with all too effective threat of hiring another man to get the work done.

I’d say I won this little round…


Bright and Green and Pollen Everywhere


I’m sneezing today, more than likely because I bragged to a friend yesterday, “I don’t get allergies. I grew up here.” Muh huh. The puffy face, runny nose and itchiness says one thing loud and clear: Spring has sprung. Spring training games are underway. Lots of pasty white folk from Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan are wandering around in shorts and saguaro-embroidered visors. There are thousands of tiny saffron-hued globes of mesquite pollen fluttering to the ground from aching limbs above.





My garden is in the groove too. Everything is coming up green and shiny.

First tomatoes

Tomato hedge to be teepeed

And wowza, the tomato hedge is running rampant. I read an article in one of my gardening magazines this month about creating bamboo teepees for your plants to climb. This just sounds like more fun that buying another stack of tomato cages. I bought enough for three teepees yesterday, plus a gazillion marigolds to keep the bugs away. I expect to be covered in mud, pollen and allergy fueled tears soon enough.


Top of the Mornin’!

Irish soda bread


Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! In high school, part of my student council responsibilities included fundraising. My junior and senior years, I led the March of Dimes walk-a-thon team and coordinated coin drive contests between the classes. This provided a great chance to be on the morning announcements daily, and of course, because I was far too secure and far too silly, I did these announcements in an Irish brogue, pretending to be the Lucky Charms leprechaun. By the end, I usually had the principal laughing so hard at me (and with me) that she had to stop for a moment before she could finish with the lunch menu. Some 3,000 kids at my high school and I’m doing an Irish comedy act on the morning announcements; my mother wondered why finding a prom date from a different school was really the only option.

Irish Soda Bread


Of course, still overly secure and equally silly, I am wearing a green dress today and passing out the loaves of Irish Soda Bread I baked for our One Yard Wonder + Recipe Challenge. Even with matching correspondence, this seems like a lurch toward normalcy by comparison. I added cranberries, cinnamon and pepitas to the recipe. I’m not a huge fan of the messy, knotty loaves, but they smelled amazing coming out of the oven. Next time, I’ll bake them in a bread pan.

Irish Soda Bread, packaged

It’s a good thing you love your friends a green shade of ridiculous, lassie.

Wishing you luck and rainbows (in marshmallow form),


She’s Thrifty!


I feel like that should be an extra verse in the Beastie Boy’s “She’s Crafty!” No surprise I love that being “thrifty” is once again a prized virtue. In an odd way, I feel like I’m honoring my grandmothers and their struggles through the Great Depression by honing my own frugalista style today. Not to mention my mother is the creator of the coupon. Kinda like Al Gore is the creator of the Internets. One of my most distinct memories as a child was playing secretary and writing down each item she’d buy at each grocery store to save pennies with coupons. The thrift of that woman is unbelievable. I’ve got a couple girlfriends who are fine tuning their couponing skills as well and the pennies are stacking up. Mini spends 1/3 of what she used to feeding her family by sticking with coupons. One third!

pile of new-to-me linens

With this spirit in mind, I took an hour after church Sunday to comb a couple new-to-me thrift stores to see if I could find some champagne glasses and cake stands for the upcoming Spring Party. I don’t have the room or the patience to buy stuff just to buy. If it isn’t pretty and useful, I’m not going to make room for it in my already otherwise full kitchen. Also, until recently, I’ve been anti-collection. Collections of tea cups, beanie babies, blue glass, quilts and a dozen other nicknacks grace my parent’s home. To me, they seem like yet another shelf to dust. To my mother, they are a life of decorating a home with things that she finds beautiful.

In contrast, I own little. I dust rarely. I like to think I could flee in the night in my car and get 95% of what I love materially in the trunk.

pillow cases

That said, I’ve decided a collection of cake stands — think depression era glass and other prized antiques — would be perfect to display on top of the fridge. Alas, I didn’t find a single one. I did find champagne glasses and racks and racks of vintage linens, many of which are hand embroidered. I had a hard time deciding which to purchase and had to be mindful of how I would use them. (Also, it made a sad to think of the linen closet cleaned out after an older woman’s death and dropped off at this store. There was so much fine needlework discarded and I couldn’t help but think of the many happy events where these linens had graced the table.) I wanted to take home all three racks. But where would I store them? And really, how many embroidered napkins does one girl need?


Apparently the answer is 11, including two from Vera’s line and several that happen to be embroidered with my last initial. Any guesses on the grand total for: 1 vintage Pucci-inspired apron, 2 embroidered pillow cases, 11 napkins, 2 table cloths, 2 embroidered bread cloths and 11 champagne glasses? (And a partridge in a pear tree…)

With the $4 I spent on Oxiclean to get these babies back in bright white shape: $40. Giddyup.



Everything for the Spring Party is coming up roses, and I hope there is a sweet little old lady looking down from above and smiling wildly that her artful hard work is being celebrated.