I know. It’s gross. You should see my leg; it isn’t any prettier. In an energetic burst of long-weekend-joy, I hit the trails for a mountain run Saturday morning and managed to trip on pretty much the very last rock before reaching the parking lot. I slid. On my hands. And one leg.
As you can imagine, this did not make me feel very good. Or very graceful.
It did elicit a rather Sarah Silverman-inspired tirade of tears and curses.
But of course, what can you do? Sit in a cloud of desert dirt and cry the long weekend away? No. That would be silly. So, I showered, hit the bagel shop and regrouped with carbs. My previously planned day of sewing and gardening had to be scrapped. My hand wasn’t going to participate.
So, I hit the mailbox instead, picked up the latest Netflix correspondence and plopped on the couch ready to spend a Saturday entirely wrapped up in a sullen, woe-is-me, mood.
This didn’t last through the previews. I simply don’t do pathetic. Instead, I remembered that giant tin of tangled yarn and half-completed knitting projects in my bedroom. A few minutes later, I had things sorted.
I also went through a stack of books to find a new project. I needed something simple, easy, mindless and fun.
With gobs of kitchen cotton, and a true gaggle of babies due to girlfriends this Fall, I figured the time was right to dig into some baby shower gifts.
Viola — a knit baby cap. I’ve got enough kitchen cotton to whip up a half dozen of these. I plan on pairing them with an adorable hooded baby towel. How cute is this tutorial? (Thanks Zarah for the lead!)
My hand is quickly getting better. My grace? Well, that’s a far different story. Thankfully, my mule-like stubbornness keeps me going. I’ll be back on the trails tomorrow.
For those in the US, and soldiers everywhere, thank you. You work is not without incredible sacrifice. Thank you for protecting goof balls like me. And to the many military families, I am so very grateful for your incredible patriotism. May God keep all of your loved ones safe. (And may peace abound!)
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- Arizona, handmade
The saguaros are in full bloom this week — an annual event in the Valley. The crown of silky white flowers make me smile; even these desert warriors like to feel pretty once in a while.
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- Arizona, Earth Mama, Flora and Fauna
I followed the instructions from this NYT article on making better homemade pizza. The results? I liked the toppings, but the crust still isn’t right. It is a tricky thing to master — pizza crust. Also, I wanted a healthier pizza and in truth? I missed all that gooey cheese. I am going to keep playing with different flours this summer to try to get it just right.
I also turned a handful of peaches from a friend’s tree into a fun dessert — a modification of this great Pioneer Woman recipe.
I’ve noticed when eating farmer’s market or garden produce, I eat less. The flavors are such much more intense — you need less. Someone should write a silly new trendy diet book on this and get more people gardening and eating locally.
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- Domestic Art, Happy Hippie, Kitchen Talk
I know. I know. Another post with tomato photos. Trust me, even I’m getting sick of these. Humor me with one more week of celebrating the joy that is having a mighty little garden. (How fun is that banana leaf platter my mama bought me when we were in Mexico for Christmas? Matty took it upon himself to fill it with the garden’s pick of the day.)
You mean you don’t display tomatoes in your living room like art?
Trust me, the hilarity of this nonsense has kept me going during a week of few other indulgences. I’m trying to get back into running and swimming shape. Without changes to my diet too, this will take exponentially longer than it should. So, we are eating a lot of steamed fish and veggies. And I’m taking walks in the evening to keep my hands out of the freezer and away from the ice cream.
Thankfully tonight is book club. I’m hosting and very much looking forward to turning this ball of dough and a bucket of those tomatoes into some fantastic margherita pizza, with basil from the garden. Considering I didn’t come close to finishing the book, I’m going to woo the members with food, wine and peach cobbler instead.
Today’s motto: “I smell like chlorine. I deserve a little pizza.”
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- Arizona, Domestic Art, Happy Hippie, Kitchen Talk
I’m reading a book that refers to the Greek concept of kairos — the state of in between when something special happens. Not the quantitative chronos, but the spiritual, mystical kairos. The athletic “zone.” The Christian moment of grace. The moment before a roller coaster plummets, a newborn gasps a first breath, a champagne cork flies through the air.
This weekend I found kairos in the grace of a ballerina’s arms. I watched, rapt, as a dance troupe leapt across an auditorium stage. Folded into my tiny chair with a furrowed brow, I felt my fingers tingle and my anxiety fall away when the ballerinas came on stage in a flutter of beauty. One ballerina in particular was so tall, so elegant. Her arms and legs moved like water rushing through a canyon — strong, fierce and yet simply perfectly flowing.
I felt kairos in the rush of ice cold water when I dove into a swimming pool, joining a clump of other Speedo-clad adults. The familiarity of the navy square tiles on the bottom of the pool, the red plastic lane lines, the sharp sting of chlorine flooding your sinuses after the first flip turn. The snap of a latex cap and the pinch of my goggles, I felt like I’d returned home when I felt the first splash.
Cooking, especially, is a state of kairos — the in between. The chopping, grinding, measuring and waiting for the final result. The carob brownies three days late for a friend’s birthday. She didn’t remember the delay (chronos) when I handed her these.
Gardening, too. The planting, tending, watering, weeding. The baby tomatoes, squash and peppers that sprout with youthful determination. It takes mature patience to wait for the ripening. The sweet, juicy lure of homegrown warm produce from the garden — worth both forms of time.
Finding happiness without measuring life by the chronological isn’t easy. And yet, moments of kairos dance by unappreciated if my heart is paced by the tick of the clock.
Time to take off the watch.
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I found this blue glass cookie jar at the Gold Mine thrift store in Ketchum, Idaho on my recent trip with Finny. I also bought a handful of used paperbacks and spent a whopping total of $16.
I would like to think this jar has seen many happy days full of baked loved for others. I’m happily accepting the good kitchen karma.
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- Kitchen Talk
I do my best with a firm plan in place, which is why once upon a time, I created a similar chart for my 1/2 Ironman. That chart got me through thousands of miles of training (okay, maybe 1 thousand miles) on my own and saw me through the best race of my life. I’m hoping this chart sees me through a summer of running and yoga and to a couple personal best times in the 10K and 1/2 marathon. I’m also participating in the 100 Pushup Challenge.
The truth is, I’m not a natural athlete*. I’m not particularly good at any single sport I’ve ever tried to master. But I am stubborn, which comes in handy when trying to finish a novel, a 60-day-yoga challenge, manage three jobs, or any of the other crazy challenges I’ve pushed myself through. So, I may not be running any races at an Ethiopian pace, but I can promise you I’ll finish and give it all I’ve got.
I’m looking forward to a summer of long and short runs through the desert, around Tempe Town Lake, with friends, alone, with dogs, with music and with my two legs that I know will see me to success.
What are your goals this summer?
* And yet? This doesn’t stop me from making bold statements at dinner parties, challenging friends and friends’ husbands to tennis matches, golf, bowling, etc. I wish my athletic ability could actually keep up with my cocky confident blabber mouth for once.
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- Get Fit, Goals, Good to Great
Yesterday was my Grandma Max’s 80th birthday. My dad flew in from Texas, I drove down from Phoenix and my aunt and uncle drove my grandparents in Tucson to McClintock’s for dinner. She was very surprised to see the two of us and thrilled with the attention.
My dad and I met a few minutes early to catch up. We sat on the restaurant’s patio, sipping a glass of wine and enjoying the amazing desert view. I didn’t capture it well from this vantage, but the restaurant sits about 2500 feet above Tucson. As the sun set, the city began to glow. It was spectacular.
And the restaurant was simply fantastic. It’s in a fancy private development. You drive through a giant tunnel in a mountain and then 2.5 miles up a winding road (past a dozen homes designed to melt into the desert backdrop) to reach the restaurant. Of course on a Monday night, we had little competition for the staff’s attention. I cannot wait to go back. It was so luxurious and beautiful. The developers truly captured the spirit of the desert by planning buildings that blended with nature’s best.
And of course there was the added bonus of time with my Papi. Can’t quite describe how much I adore this man — but more than the world might suffice.
There were many others who should have been at the table, including my Mom. Logistics kept the party small, but my grandma was tickled.
I know. I’m damn lucky.
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- Arizona, Celebrate!
Come to find out, I didn’t have nearly as many tomatoes for a canning day as I had planned. Also? I didn’t have any more canning jars or the energy to start an extensive project. I was sidelined late last week with an inner ear infection that was by far the most painful experience I’ve had in a very long time. So, instead of laboring in a hot kitchen this weekend, I used my tomatoes for a much quicker project and used my time curled up on the couch with Netflix and a certain furry friend.
Kili (Kilimanjaro) is just about the sweetest dog you can imagine. We spent most of the weekend together while her parents were away. She did not like the sound of the blender, but did enjoy the copious amounts of cuddle and snuggle time afterward.
As for the salsa? It was fresh, easy and I threw in whatever I could find, including those tomatoes and some cilantro from the garden. I’ve decided life is just better with copious amounts of home grown condiments and boisterous puppies. And antibiotics. And Advil. And Diet Coke.
I’d better stop there.
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- Domestic Art, Flora and Fauna, Handmade goods
One of the most fulfilling aspects of gardening is the progress. Remember these 23 baby tomato plants that went in the earth in January? And then here we were in March where I was shouting, “Oh! A tomato hedge! I have a tomato HEDGE!” Little did I know.
Then I convinced Matt to build a teepee for the tomatoes, thinking this would help keep things in order. How naive! I really should have read a book for four about tomatoes before spending so much time playing in the garden. I didn’t know about trimming back the bushes to keep the tomatoes off the ground. Or anything about suckers. Instead, after our attempt at wrangling chaos with the teepee, we’ve let things go a bit wild.
A month ago, we had our first tomato. She was a big one. An early bloomer. A leader in her field. But little did we know that her delicious flavor would pale in comparison soon enough. The swarms to follow have been earthy, sweet, lush and the scent of freshly picked tomatoes cannot be beat. Just being near the tomato plants this time of year makes me want to dance in circles. I feel like a cross between Julie Andrews and a wild hippie when doing so.
Wild, I tell you. Today, the hedge has grown up to the front door and I’ve got tomatoes — homegrown, organic, lovely sweet delicious OH MY GOD THIS IS WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO TASTE LIKE tomatoes — coming out of my ears. Now, remind me again why I didn’t start gardening 10 years ago? The best part of this tiny little garden is that I know without a doubt that if I can reap this bounty of a harvest from “borrowed’ HOA land in a condo complex in Phoenix, Arizona — you can grow a farm’s worth by comparison. (I’m making two assumptions there: 1. you have more than 3×4 feet of land to your name. And 2. You don’t live in an oven. With caliche soil.)
This mighty progress is translating to canned tomatoes this weekend. I’m also having friends over for homemade pizza too. My thanks, again, to Finny for inspiring me to take on new hobbies that seem so Herculean, but end up so deliciously fun. (See: knitting, sewing, canning, swearing.)
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- Arizona, Celebrate!, Domestic Art, Earth Mama, Flora and Fauna