Babies for Brazil


Sorrow’s amazing addition to the sew-along. Love the Brazilian babe!

A while back I emailed a handful of crafty friends and asked if they’d be interested in a very special project. And then, after a deluge of positive email responses, I completely forgot about this little crafty event.


And so, I am now inviting the Internets to join along too. My friend Jessica, who has done amazing work in Brazil for years, recently brought toys to the children living in impoverished communities. The photos struck me; there were many gorgeous little Brazilian girls and boys carrying around very anglo baby dolls. They were tickled to have their own toy. But it got me thinking.

My favorite doll when I was a child was an African American Cabbage Patch doll named Elizabeth. (Second only to Aggie, the red-headed Irish version.) These two dolls were with me everywhere as a young girl. I adored them. Like little girls in countries around the world, my dolls were special. They had a tiny suitcase full of clothes and regularly were seat-belted into the car next to me. Thinking about it now, Elizabeth was a precursor to a life in love with Africa.

May 17 2010 035

I want to provide the children Jessica is working with in Brazil with dolls that look like they do. Specifically, these Brazilian babies would provide a bit of handmade love to little girls living in poverty. Call me sentimental, but it makes me smile to think of a handful of girls growing up with a handmade item, knowing a woman they’ve never met thought of them, saw their potential, wanted to know they were special and wanted to encourage them to be amazing.

This is what a doll — a tiny piece of folk art — can do. Do not underestimate the power of focused women, especially when they are artists.

June 30 2010 026

Duda wrapped her sweet doll in a homemade quilt.

Care to join this sew along? The rules are simple:

Make a handmade doll — knit, sew, whittle — in the spirit of Brazil. Include details in the doll that encourage your village girl. Photograph your creation and place it in the Flickr pool. Then, mail the doll, with a note if you’d like, to Jessica in New York by September 1.

It should also be said that I don’t know a thing about sewing dolls. I am going into this blind and simply hoping good fortune and patience will see this idea through.

Please leave a comment if you want to play along. I’ll email details to those who participate. This is an easy way for women internationally to provide a bit of handmade love to girls in a Brazilian village. It is simple, sincere and sweet. I hope you’ll join us!


Sweaty Bangs

We are all our own worst critics, right? Because when I see these photos from my recent adventures on the East Coast, all I can see are end-of-the-day sweaty bangs:


Bunny + Kelli

Mama mia, do I need a haircut. Then again, perhaps I should be focused on the lovely friends I had a chance to spend time with instead of my own vanity?

Such luck I have! I emailed my three sets of friends in the DC area with less than 24 hours of notice to say I was coming to town unexpectedly and could they meet for dinner? Thanks to the metro and the ease of getting around a bunch of states near the Capitol, I was able to see all three. I mentioned my lovely time with Emily and John. The next night I was able to meet Mike (without his wife Sam, sadly) for sushi near Fairfax. I adore Mike, who I call Tuck. Tuck and I have been close friends for a decade, after going to church and church camps together for a decade prior and not paying any attention to each other. Once upon a time, we dated best friends and ended up on many double dates. The dates ended. Our friendship continued. I am so thankful he is in my life.

Sunday night I got to see my friend Bunny. Bunny and I worked together years ago in publishing; she just had her first child two months ago. I had a chance to meet Lucia and spend a bit of time with her husband too. Over Vietnamese, we talked fancy handbags, Filipino politics and family. It is funny how each friendship fills such a distinct and different need. When Bun moved from Phoenix 7 years ago, I knew our special friendship would never be replaced.

Again, a sign of true friendship is simply picking up where you left off. No remorse or guilt about missed birthdays or major events. Hugs, laughter, jokes about the past and promises of when you’ll meet again — I am so fortunate to have this with these lovely people. And you know they love me back. Not a single one said, “What’s with the sweaty bangs?”


Em + John + the East Coast

Remember these two? My college roomie and her lovely husband?


I hadn’t seen them since we were in Costa Rica for Thanksgiving a few years ago. Thankfully and quite unexpectedly, I am in Washington DC this weekend for work. Em + John and a handful of other friends live close by. I grabbed these two for dinner and a lot of chatter last night.

(The food was delicious. Blacks of Bethesda? Bravo. A+! So very, very good.)

Em + Kell

Friendships that withstand decades? The best.


Sweet Season

I’m making the most of summer by enjoying quite a few of these:


and maybe a few of these, by the handful.


Board room breakfast

Blueberry coffee cake in the board room for breakfast meetings. A sign of a June well lived.


Happenstance + Blessings

Sue + Tau

This weekend, on my way home from the San Diego wedding, I was able to yet again meet another fabulous blog friend — Sue. She and her very sweet son Tau kept me company over poached eggs and cafe au lait. It was a delightful morning — cool Pacific weather, waves of interesting people waking up with caffeine and great baked goods, and a friendship falling into place like two girls who grew up together.


Internets, I know I’ve applauded you before for your magical powers of bringing like-minded folk together, but again, bravo! Sue and I asked each other a dozen questions about lives we’ve learned about via our blogs. We “know” family members, about recent trips and we share many passions — including creativity and Africa.

Plus, my God. How adorable is that child? He is a doll! He sat quietly and methodically putting together a Lego creation that he couldn’t wait to show once completed. Such a sweet little man.


I very much look forward to spending time with them again soon. And internets? Keep up the awesome work. You’ve blessed me with amazing girlfriends in a handful of cities around the world who I truly adore. Thank you, again.



Lunch of champions

In jest, a coworker said I was “everyone’s favorite grandma” last week as I walked in the door with yet another plate of cake. If you know anything about me, my thin skin is one of my most prominent features. So is my tendency for a fiesty over-reaction. And an insecure knee-jerk questioning of those closest to me.

“Am I a grandma? Is that how you view me?”

“How about you?”

“And YOU!”

Accepting your quirks is part of life. Please raise your hand if you aren’t getting weirder as you are getting older.

Thank you. I thought so.

Lunch of champions

And frankly, if you’ve met my grandmas, you’d know they’ve lived through some serious business. They are fierce and while the connotation was meant as a dig at my tendency to go to bed early, delight in knitting and feed my obsessive habit of stuffing those around me baked goods, etc. Anyway, being this nutty, crazed, and at times overly-sensitive girl, I headed out to the bar to meet some friends after teaching VBS one night last week. Let’s just say it was Matty’s last night in town for a bit — he’s home in Africa for a while — and fueled with a desire to prove I in fact am not a rocking-chair owning, cat adoring, needlepointing matriarch — I had a good time. Although I was encouraged to share every last detail of the night’s adventure, I won’t. Add chicken to the list of faults. I will say Matty has new enthusiasm for coming home to Tempe; I’d never had quite so much fun with him and the boys in the two years that he’s been here as we did the night last week.

As for the jerks at the office? Say it with me: NO CAKE FOR YOU. I’ll just take myself out for a plate of enchiladas and margaritas for lunch with that baking money instead.


Super Heroes for Faith

Vacation Bible School

I’m leading Vacation Bible School at my church this week, in the evenings after work. The theme, which my friend Tina brainstormed, is “Super Heroes for Faith.” Last night was the first night and to be honest, I didn’t know that I’d have many kids show up. We are a central-city church with very few children in our congregation. I was hired in February as the youth ministry leader to help bring new families with children to the church, and to make those with kids who do attend feel at home with more comprehensive youth programs.

Needless to say, I’m at the bottom of a very big hill. I thought a fun week of evening activities at the church would help get kids familiar with each other and with me. I figured this way they’d be more interested in coming on Sundays to play at Sunday school, etc. If you’ve worked with children in this capacity, you know the resources available are lackluster. There are thousands of websites dedicated to specific educational products but nothing that I’ve been able to find to: get kids to trust you, get parents to trust you, get both parties interested, explain complex issues of faith in simple, clear terms, make children comfortable with the super scary stuff that happens in the Bible ( Let’s not sugar coat this. Our leader was hung from a cross with nails and eventually cut open to bleed to death. When Old Testament God (cranky God, as I like to call him) got angry, He killed in swaths without mercy. We love to talk about Noah, but how about everyone else who drowned in that flood? Pestilence, wrath, pilars of salt … Lovely imagery when you are ultimately trying to teach, “Love everyone!”)

This week, and my youth leadership generally, is geared toward the happy side of faith. I’m always willing to discuss the heavy stuff, but summer vacation to me means fun. It’s pizza, movies, super hero capes, reading great books and swimming with hot dogs barbecuing nearby. It doesn’t mean memorization, castigation or guilt.

When I asked the kids last night what their super power would be — after discussing Noah’s means of getting all the animals in the ark in twos, Jonah’s ability to survive in the giant fish, Jesus’ talent for walking on water and feeding the masses with a few loaves of bread and a couple fish — their answers varied. One little boy in particular had the adults giggling with his immediate response — “telekinesis!” I had to later ask him what that meant. The 7-year-old impressed me wildly with his eye roll and quick, disgusted response, “Mind reading. Duh.”


Rather than following a set curriculum for purchase for this week, I’ve thrown together four nights of activities that I hope will both engage the kids and meet some of the goals listed above. Last night was decorating our own capes. Tonight we are watching a movie. Tomorrow we are learning the art of storytelling. Thursday we are swimming.

I may just ask them to try to walk on that water on their way in the pool.


Good morning!

Banana Maple Breakfast Bread

Banana Maple Breakfast Bread

Banana Maple Breakfast Bread

Banana Maple Breakfast Bread

Banana maple breakfast bread for the office. Yes. Some may call this banana maple cake. But when in the shape of muffins, us ‘Mericans can pretend it is just a normal breakfast item.