11–20 of 21 entries from the month of: April 2010

Runny, Sneezy, Pretty

April 16th

Tempe Spring in bloom

Tempe Spring in bloom

Tempe Spring in bloom

Tempe Spring in bloom

Tempe Spring in bloom

Tempe Spring in bloom

Tempe Spring in bloom

I wish I had a direct line of Benadryl this time of year, and yet the mild, rainy spring — and wildly gorgeous effect on our parched desert —  almost makes this itchiness worthwhile.



Posted in
Arizona, Flora and Fauna
Comments (7)

Back to Work

April 14th


Sydney is coming to stay with me for the weekend. I can’t wait. He’ll be here tomorrow. Makes me giggle a little that Matty’s middle name is Sydney. So now I’ll have two on the couch.

Well, after two short weeks of being in the crazy la la land of undetermined employment, I’ve found a new job! I’m happily now employed in an entirely new field, which is both exhilarating and terrifying. I’m still working in health, but on the corporate side. Yesterday was my first taste; it feels refreshing to be so challenged by new tasks and information.

Yes, I’ve only done this for one day. And it wasn’t even a full day, but I can tell you that I slept well last night knowing I’m going to be putting my brain to use again. A few other perks:

  • The social aspect is much healthier. Essentially for the last two years I’ve been working alone in an office. This space is entirely different, with new people coming and going everyday and no end of conversation.
  • I’m wearing a dress. With heels. And a piece of jewelry. I know that sounds silly, but it felt good to get up this morning and find something great to wear to work. While I love a good stretchy pant as much as the next girl, there is something so fulfilling about wanting to dress to the nines. I feel much more confident when I also feel pretty. (Making Gloria Steinem proud, I realize.)
  • Perhaps most importantly, I’ve been given a huge new responsibility I don’t yet know how to tackle. I love puzzles and a challenge! The easiest way to get me motivated to greatness is to suggest I am not capable. So, I’m going to prove the few naysayers to shame.

Thank you for your countless emails about my job loss. Your well wishes worked and I am so very grateful! Now, back to work…


Posted in
Good to Great, Journal
Comments (22)


April 13th


Adam and I have been “playing bowling” together with the Pre-Emptive Strikes (which I swear is the best bowling team name ever), for 3 years. Three years. And for three years Rebecca, Matt and I have been bugging Salty to make us bowling shirts for the league. Why? Because he owns a t-shirt/marketing company. If anyone could do this, Adam could.


Come to find out, printing 4 shirts is a logistical nightmare. Embroidering one? Not so bad. Three years and one belated birthday gift later, he now has a bowling shirt. (Thanks Jenny Hart! Your embroidery designs are so sassy and fun!) I threw on that bowling applique I found at a thrift store for extra emphasis.

And no, Juliann, I didn’t knit our shirts. But damn close.


Posted in
Domestic Art, handmade, Journal
Comments (2)


April 12th

First tomato

First tomato

First tomato

The first tomato of the season, thoroughly enjoyed with a bit of salt. The flavor of a homegrown tomato is a balanced mix of earthy sweetness and ethereal hubris.

Remember when I planted 23 tomato plants and everyone thought I was a bit zealous? Right. Well, they are now quickly developing from tiny green innocents to lush, juicy red delights. We are going to have more tomatoes than we know what to do with.

Frankly, I cannot think of a better problem to have.


Posted in
Arizona, Domestic Art, Flora and Fauna
Comments (9)


April 11th


Food and Beverage — a sassy new restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale, has local foodie aficionados gossiping about the fabulous food and service. I was invited to join a group for a late meal there last night and oh, it lived up to every word of praise.

Delicious spring pasta

FnB is owned by Pavle and his wife Emily. They have three children, including 2 little ones. One can only imagine how they run a business with such precision and manage to have a 1 and 3 year old at home. I’d guess they don’t dream, but instead barely remember crawling into bed each night — exhausted by accomplishing their dreams, the loveliest shade of tired.

Fancy chicken

Pavle and Emily are a delight. He is unlike anyone I’ve met; he has a memory like an elephant, greeting everyone at the table by name and with their drink order from the previous visit. His accent is Montenegran-via Colombia-via Queens. Thankfully, you won’t hear a single Scottsdale influenced “totally awesome bro!” in his thoughtful, multilingual vocabulary. He was meant for this business and being in his midst — watching him work the tiny restaurant and make each person there feel like he or she is the one he really wanted to see that night — is powerful.

And Emily is just a treat. With bright lipstick and a wide smile, she is the quiet partner, but not to be discounted. It’s easy to see her hardwork and eye to detail in every meal, drink, reservation. I’d love to have a glass of wine with her sometime and hear about the fine tuned secrets she’s gathered to make this life seem gracefully effortless.


They love this work and are transcending the field. It is a delight to be near such passion.


Oh, and the food was unbelieveably good too. 5 stars, A +, 5 bananas — however you want to rate it. We had fennel salad, roasted carrots, chicken, pasta, bass with beets and black lentils, and of course — dark chocolate cake with a tiny dollop of vanilla ice cream and rhubarb for dessert. I so enjoyed the experience and it was refreshing to have such a personal and sincere meal outside of the home.

After 10

FnB has a set menu, and additional items offered at the chef’s whimzy after 10 pm. Our reservations were for 10:01. I’d highly recommend the same. Go with friends who will order a bunch of different small plates to share. It is a sweet way to spend an evening — being pampered by Pavle.


Posted in
Arizona, Community, Kitchen Talk
Comments (5)

National PH Week

April 8th

I don’t have any new photos or creations to post. I’ve been hiking my butt a ton, so I’ve got a tan, but otherwise I haven’t been doing anything domestic. When not on the trails, I’ve been interviewing and hopefully soon will have some idea of where my career is headed. Yay!

Otherwise, I’ve been completely lax in celebrating national public health week. So, here is my official note: hug your local public health worker today! I donated blood yesterday, World Health Day, to celebrate. The phlebotomist laughed at me when I told him why I was there. (Don’t hug him. He’s grouchy.) Instead, hug your medical professional, the lady who rings up your sunscreen at Target, the mechanic who makes sure there is enough air in your tires and that your seat belts are working, the produce person who makes sure your five servings are ready when you go to the market, the restaurant owner who offers locally grown and healthier alternatives to the cheaper fast food nightmare next door, and any other public health celebrant who deserves a nod. My PH heroes include Alice Waters, Paul Farmer and Jamie Oliver.


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Comments (4)

Tutorial: Garden Party

April 5th


I said in jest a few weeks ago I was going to put together a tutorial for putting together a fun (and thrifty) garden party; I had such a sweet response, I decided to do just that, while a bit tongue-in-cheek.

One month from your selected date:

Find invitations that make you want to throw a party. These did it for me. Then figure out how many folks you can invite. For my small home, 20 is about my capacity. (We did have to do the plate/fork wash and shuffle a couple times with some 23 friends and one little one in attendance.) I made my list, realizing there were far more I’d love to invite and will have to do this again. Then I headed off to the craft store with a coupon in hand to buy supplies. {I’ve blogged about these invites.}


I mailed 20 of these to girlfriends, for a grand total of $28, including the cost of the stamp and new ink.  A garden party with champagne to be served. The only request was they bring a hat. I knew we’d be sitting outside on the “veranda” — as the African puts it so eloquently.

Three weeks from party date:

First tomatoes

Time to prep the earth to make sure you actually have a garden to be celebrating. I capitalized on a $1 sale at the local nursery on marigolds. {Blogged}


Some 60 were planted. I also encouraged the tomatoes to grow in leaps and bounds by deep watering and sweet talking. I’m not kidding about the talking. (Who cares what these guys say?) Plants do better and are more fruitful when you whisper sweet words to them. Call me the tomato whisperer. I’m okay with it. It’s also a good idea to make any necessary home repairs at this time, including a new garden gate. I’ve spent about $100 on the garden this year in supplies. Matty made the gate on his own dime.

Two weeks from party time:


pile of new-to-me linens

Take a bit of time to make sure you’ve got enough of the basics: glasses, napkins, table cloths, plates, chairs. I did not. So, I hit up the local thrift store and scored some vintage finds. And then I went to friends and asked to borrow cake plates, chairs and tables. This worked out nicely. I spent $61 buying household goods for the party, including new silverware and two platters from Ikea.

One week from party time:


Menu time! This is by far my favorite planning piece of the puzzle. I put together a menu mainly from the current issue of Cooking Light Magazine. This included:

Blackberry lime punch
White wine
Diet coke

Roasted fingerling potatoes and artichokes
Green chile egg casserole
Smoked salmon deviled eggs
Parmesan rolls

Ginger chocolate banana bread
Coconut cake
Chocolate chip cookies
Fruit salad
Let them eat cake

Double check with friends who’ve offered to bring items to the party. Meg brought the green chile egg casseroles, which were nothing short of amazing. Amanda and Juliann brought mimosa supplies. Tina brought cake plates and gifted me that amazing Easter centerpiece. (LOVE!) Shanlee and Rebecca brought tables and chairs. Also, send a reminder email to friends who you haven’t heard from.

Go to the market with a detailed list. Consider asking a friend to call that morning to see what else you need. (I did a 6 am run to the store, still in my jammies, for ice, fruit and a few other spices I needed and had forgotten.)

Day before:

Prep as much as possible, including getting the veranda, bathrooms and floors cleaned. Water the garden. Get the cake, cookies and bread in the oven. Bring out all the linens and dishes. Make sure everything is clean and as ironed as you fancy. Freeze fruit and water in a bundt pan to make a pretty ice cube for your punch bowl.

Fruit to freeze for bundt ice cube

Frozen fruit for punch

Have a glass of wine before calling it a night and remind yourself it doesn’t really matter if everything falls apart overnight. Your friends like pizza. They are awesome that way.

Day of:


Deviled Eggs




Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

Parm herb bread

Parm herb bread

Banana ginger choco bread

Choco/oatmeal cookies

Choco/oatmeal cookies

The table is nearly set

Don’t do as I did and sleep in. Yes, I was at the grocery by 6, but I could have been up by 5 and not gotten everything done. I raced like a maniac to get the final cooking done and then juggled when two friends called that morning to say they were bringing guests. I’ve always operated with a “the more the merrier” attitude, but I did need to find more seats, plates, etc. Coincidentally, two friends who’d RSVP’d didn’t show. So everything jived.




Set an alarm for 1 hour before you expect your first guest. Make a commitment to get out of the kitchen at this point and go take care of yourself. I often give myself too little time to curl, prep and primp and then feel miserable even though everything else looks great. I was relieved I’d had the time to put on jewelry and a dress by the time the first guests arrived.

A few things I was very happy about:

  • I was able to cut fresh flowers from the garden for the party.
  • Matt helped cook the bacon and cut the pineapple for the fruit salad. He was such great help!
  • There was enough food, with cookies and cake going home to husbands and boyfriends.
  • New friends and old friends mixed and mingled and having this many people I love in my home made me giddy with delight.



Posted in
Arizona, Celebrate!, Domestic Art, Hostess, Kitchen Talk
Comments (19)


April 4th

Happy Easter!

Wishing you a blessed Easter!


Posted in
Celebrate!, Faith
Comments (6)

Let Them Eat Cake

April 3rd

Coconut cake, in process

Coconut cake, in process

Coconut cake, in process

Cake in process

Coconut cake

Coconut cake

Let them eat cake

Coconut cake, to be precise. And oh, was it eaten. Thankfully, I’ve made another for tomorrow.


Posted in
Celebrate!, Domestic Art, Kitchen Talk
Comments (9)

April OYW

April 1st


I know! April! And do you know how many of these projects I’ve sewn? 1.

It’s awful. I’m the worst sew-along organizing partner ever. I don’t know what problem has been, but I haven’t had any sewing mojo lately. The good news is, this afternoon it came back in a wave of creativity.

New zip

I’d purchased this super cute Columbia skirt at the REI garage sale that had a faulty zipper. It had been sitting on my sewing table for months. Voila. Now fixed. I even got some embroidery done too.

J is for

Ooo! Ooo!

More importantly, I promise you I’m sewing this month’s One Yard Wonders project — the Pampered Pooch. How great are these? I have many friends with furry children to spoil. I am looking forward to it.

Pampered Pooch

Also, I can’t wait to try your citrus fennel salad. I love both flavors and it is getting warm again in Phoenix; time to think of lighter meal ideas.

Now, off to the sewing machine. She’s finally calling my name!

With love,


Posted in
handmade, Sew Along
Comments (7)