11–20 of 20 entries from the month of: June 2010

Heart + Pearl

June 13th

Remember that work in progress? After an update of buttons, a bit of interfacing ironed on the back of the embroidery to secure the stitches and a replaced tag (and reattached button bag), this gift is ready for a birthday party I’m attending later this week:

Heart & Pearl Cardi

Heart & Pearl Cardi

Heart & Pearl Cardi

Heart & Pearl Cardi

Voila! An altered embroidered cardigan.

-k

Posted in
Domestic Art, handmade
Comments (3)

Summer Menu

June 12th

The weekend menu has focused on foods at hand — gobs of tomatoes and basil from the garden, a basket of peaches from a friend and a basket of figs from another friend.

The transformation:

June garden harvest

June garden harvest

June garden harvest

June garden harvest

June garden harvest

Bruschetta with feta cheese on toasted whole wheat bread

June garden harvest

June garden harvest

June garden harvest

June garden harvest

Peach cobbler

June garden harvest

June garden harvest

IMG_4297June garden harvest

June garden harvest

June garden harvest

June garden harvest

June garden harvest

June garden harvest

And fig cobbler.

I know I don’t live in Italy or California, but when I eat this way — so satisfyingly seasonal — it makes me feel more alive. The food is bursting with flavor, not to mention how inexpensive and fun it is to go to the garden instead of the market to figure out what to prepare for the next meal. Minimizing the margin of culinary error by using fresh, homegrown produce makes too much sense.

-K

Tagged
Posted in
Arizona, Domestic Art, Kitchen Talk
Comments (10)

Community Scheming

June 11th

Plotting

I didn’t take my camera to dinner…

I had dinner last night at a friend’s house in a older section of Tempe. Imagine walking up to a garden gate to find a treasure on the other side. Peach trees overloaded with fruit, dogs lounging in the shade and yapping underfoot, a container garden, pots of dried and fresh flowers, and chickens. A large deck, with a hole cut in the center to accommodate a huge mulberry tree strung with tiny white lights, holds a few benches and a long table with a tiny chandelier hung above. The table was set with a handful of odd chairs and held hundreds of tiny white peaches, already plucked from another tree. Around the bend of the yard was a pool of fish, pets kept only to keep the mosquitoes away from the irrigated yard.

Entering the home, you push through a large glass door that has been painted by a local artist using native themes. The walls are plastered and the kitchen is painted a bright orange. Letterpress lithographs are framed on the walls — celebrating academics from the nearby university and their accomplishments and speeches. A bunch of handwoven baskets crowds above one kitchen cabinet. A stack of handmade ceramic  bowls teeters on a low kitchen island shelf. The saltillo tile has been cut into flower patterns and the rusty color is beautiful against the bright walls. The living room walls have tiny native plants painted here and there. There is a painted hummingbird in one alcove and a giant phoenix rising from the ashes above the doorway to a library overwhelmed with books.

I couldn’t dream of a more incredible home and I saw all of 1000 square feet of one portion.

It was at the kitchen table where I met three other friends last night. We sat, enjoying hummus and a block of French cheese with bowls of chips and crackers, and plotted how we are going to create meaningful programs for those interested in creating similarly spectacular gardens in the Phoenix area. Before last night, I couldn’t have even imagined a space so incredible within a 2 minute drive of my tiny home. After the dinner meeting, I couldn’t dream of not having a home just like it.

We are planning so many great events for the upcoming year with the Phoenix Permaculture Guild (which now has a new and fancy name — Valley Permaculture Alliance), including a series of gardening classes that will start with a dirt backyard and during a several month process, be transformed by teachers and participants into functioning gardens. Not just gardens that grow gorgeous flowers and pretty herbs. Gardens that provide fresh fruits and vegetables in neighborhoods of our city where these luxuries are as hard to find as savings accounts and college educations. We’ll seek out families who are interested in gardens but don’t have the know-how to make it happen and we’ll create a community around the project. Ideally, we’ll replace bags of fast food with plates of homegrown goodness.

I was so fired up about the work at hand, I had a hard time sleeping. Pair this with a native foods cookbook I’m going to work on in conjunction with mesquite and carob milling, and tree day — where we’ll see thousands of fruit trees planted in the Valley — and you can feel my excitement.

If you live in the desert Southwest and are interested in gardening but feel intimidated, let’s talk. I’ll resort to my favorite personal tagline: if I can do it, so can a trained monkey.I’m telling you — there is little else I find as rewarding as taking my tiny (and I mean TINY) piece of land and making it productive. Plus, the fruits of the labor are delicious.

-K

Posted in
Community, Flora and Fauna
Comments (5)

A little more Frida…

June 10th

La Frida!

Did you know there is a group in Arizona called The Phoenix Fridas? They are a group of female artists inspired by Ms. Kahlo. I’m not keen to joining another group, nor have I been invited, but I do love their work. They’ve been displaying Frida-inspired paintings, sculptures and jewelry at the post office on Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe for the last month. The work is truly beautiful.

La Frida!

La Frida!

La Frida!

I came home this week to another delightful gift in the mail from Christy. Nevermind the photos on her blog of her playing with snakes. ACK! She is such a kind woman and regularly sends me things when she’s found them thrifting. This week was a children’s book, in Spanish, about my very favorite Frida. I can’t tell you how much this act of kindness tickled me. I read the book aloud, to myself, and marveled at Frida’s life.

La Frida!

Love!

(Did you know Frida changed the spelling of her name from Frieda to Frida? Tons of interesting little tidbits I’m learning from this book.)

-K

Posted in
Celebrate!
Comments (4)

On Being Remarkable

June 8th

Photo on 2010-06-08 at 09.15

I was watching “Julie & Julia” the other day when it dawned on me that the ever-so-remarkable Julia Child didn’t discover her fierce passion for cooking until she landed in Paris with little other to do than wander markets and make lovely meals for her diplomat husband. She discovered fame, fortune and her sense of purpose considerably later than say, Lance Armstrong, Billy Graham, or Stevie Wonder.

Probably because it is hot and my sleep patterns have once again have me wonky, flip flopping and up at 2 am thinking of essays I’d like to write — I’ve been pondering about what makes life remarkable. Is it a commitment to family? Is it becoming a spouse and parent? Is it seeing your name in lights on Broadway or on the New York Times Best Seller’s List? Is it winning gold at the Olympics, finishing a marathon at tortoise pace or learning how to bake a loaf of bread? Is it growing a garden, learning a new language, or having one of those moments of grace where you finally — after staring at the same verses for years — get it?

I don’t have any answers. But I am certain I want my life and purpose to be remarkable. Above average. The over-achieving end of the bell curve. I don’t think saying so is brash hubris. If you don’t want to be remarkable, something tells me you aren’t paying attention.

For me, remarkable doesn’t mean fame or fortune. It also isn’t defined by a family I create, but more by the family I have and how I nurture them. (The creation part is out of my hands; let’s be honest — if I could wiggle my nose genie style for a dozen little ones, I would. I will not, however, spend any more time feeling like my value is less because this magical wiggling hasn’t occurred. Not my choice. Not my doing. Not my guilt.) Being remarkable isn’t about being on Broadway, best-selling anything or the size of my waist.

Instead, I’m giving myself a new set of challenges as a reminder of what my very version of this word means. It includes continuing to nurture a successful garden in the heat of Phoenix. (Damn remarkable) It also means pushing myself in endurance races — half marathon scheduled for this fall. It means continuing to work on relationships that are so very, very difficult and draining because the remarkable love regardless. It also means finding the supernatural state of patience I am able to tap into when I see a stranger or animal in need, and applying this level of blind kindness and caring to other areas of my life that are simply a regular source of annoyance.

There are other forms of remarkable too — like finding the focus to sit down to write after a long day behind a computer, saving money instead of mindless shopping for a quick high of consumer satisfaction, being more careful with my words and complaints, eating slower, swimming faster, reading more, etc.

I know there is a remarkable version of me in here somewhere. I used to know her well. She’s slipped away for a much more comfortable and apathetic existence that is gross. I keep thinking of my friend Shailesh who told me, “Good is the enemy of great.”

The never-ending quest to be better continues.

-K

Posted in
Good to Great, Journal
Comments (0)

110. Really.

June 7th

Another by the numbers

We’ve reached the point of the year when I become a crying, whiny mess of a Phoenician. This weekend the oven decided to go overachiever on us all, cranking it up to 110.

Do you know what 110 feels like? It includes: prickly skin, a wet nape of the neck, make-up that slides off your face as soon as you put it on, a headache between the eyes, a cringe in the stomach at burnt brown tomato plants, clothing that sticks to you in all the wrong places, groceries that melt before you can get home, cranky and angry drivers on the hot highway, and the ever-so-scream-inducing burn of a metal seat belt.

In a nutshell folks, it is melting-Wicked-Witch-of-the-West-hot here all of a sudden. We’ve been spoiled with a rainy and lengthy spring, only to have summer show up like an unwanted house guest screaming for a home cooked meal and mentioning that you’ve put on a few pounds.

Just. Go. Away. Already.

Another by the numbers

How about yet another weekend by the numbers (or: how I survived my first Phoenix Summer Weekend of 2010):

$450: How much it cost to repair my air conditioner this weekend.

200: Custom-ordered initial letterpress cards purchased

100: Tomatoes picked, again. I’ve sent them home with lots of friends and have plans for gazpacho this week with these.

70: stitches cast on for a new baby hat in bright yellow cotton. So pretty!

90 degrees: How warm it was inside before the AC man showed up to save me.

Another by the numbers

12: Number of squash blooms I have on a new set of plants I thought were peppers. Hello, erroneous seed packet! Glad you are blooming all the same. Are you pumpkins? Acorn squash? Zucchini? I love the surprise!

10: Pages I plan to write this week for Novel Dos.

8: Summer Mix CDs burned and mailed

6: Hours I spent thinking about Julia Child after watching “Julie and Julia.” I fell a bit in love. I need to buy her cookbooks.

4: Miles run, number of children in my Sunday School class.

3: Episodes of “Breaking Bad” I enjoyed, and number of hours I spent early morning outside reading. (I adore early mornings in the summer. The way the light changes the colors in the sky from moment to moment. The odd variety of birds and animals who are out to play while I’m running around the lake. The way the rest of the world is asleep and I’m able to plan my day quietly and peacefully.)

Fabric envelopes

2: Correspondence envelopes sewn, stuffed, mailed and gifted

1: Fun champagne brunch attended — number of glasses of champagne consumed? I didn’t count. But I did get 10 friends there and it took a miracle for us to sit outside for three hours in the afternoon, but we laughed and enjoyed the time together anyway we could take it.

0: Number of family members or friends in the hospital. It was a crazy week in that department and thankfully as of today, everyone is on the mend.

Also 0: The number of times I’m going to complain about the heat again here this summer. Feel free to hold me to this. And thanks for listening to a day of pure, aggravated, prickly whine.

-k

Posted in
Arizona
Comments (19)

Work in Progress

June 5th

The making of a gift — in progress:

The making of a gift

The making of a gift \The making of a gift \The making of a gift

The making of a gift

The making of a gift

The making of a gift

The making of a gift

The making of a gift

The making of a gift

The making of a gift

The making of a gift

Next: rhinestone buttons, label

-k

Posted in
CAOK, Domestic Art, handmade
Comments (9)

Tutorial: Fabric Correspondence Envelope

June 2nd

What to do with those handmade cards you buy at the local coffee shop? Or order from Paper Source? Or buy in bulk from Etsy? (Or perhaps my favorite new local shop: See SawDesigns. Hello, adorable letterpress creations!)

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

How about a fabric correspondence envelope, with space for both your cards, stamps and your favorite pen? You could use this to clean up your stationery drawer, or throw it in your suitcase when you travel to keep postcards and an address book handy.

{Yes, I actually travel like this. And yes, if you are in my address book, you’ve more than likely received your fair dose of correspondence over the years.}

Let’s start with fabric selection. Pick two pieces of fabric that are decor weight to give this some heft.

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

Supplies:

– 2 pieces of decor weight fabric, interior 10 ” x 14 ”

– 2 pieces of decor weight fabric, exterior 10 ” x 7″

– 2 pieces of lightweight fusible interfacing,  one, 10″ x 14″; the other 10″ x 7″

– 1 fabulous button, with needle and thread to attach

– general sewing notions: scissors, machine, ruler, pencil, etc.

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

Directions:

All seams are 1/2 inch.

Cut your exterior and interior pieces, along with your interfacing. Iron the interfacing to the wrong side of your exterior pieces. Place the exteriors (with interfacing now attached) and interior right sides together. You’ll have two stacks. The 10″ side is the bottom. The 14″/7″ side is the height.

Now, we are going to cut the larger set of pieces  to make the point of the envelope. Pin the 10″ x 14″ exterior and interior piece together.  Use a ruler and a dull pencil and measure 7″ from the bottom of the sandwiched pieces. The wrong side of the either the exterior or the interior should be facing up. Draw a line across the 10″ width at the 7″ (from the bottom up) mark. Now, draw a line from top to bottom at the 5″ mark. You should have two lightly drawn lines across one piece of your fabric.

Starting at the left corner of the 7″ mark and the left-side of the fabric, gently draw a line to the top 5″ mark, creating one side of the envelope point. Repeat on the other side of the fabric, creating the other side. You’ve now drawn a perfect triangle. Trim your envelope pieces accordingly:

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

You started with rectangles.

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

Now you have four pieces, two with a triangle top.

Let’s sew these pieces together. As per most sewing patterns, the key is to always sew things right sides together and leave a hole so you can turn it right-side out when you are done. Starting with the smaller 10″ x & 7″ pieces, place right sides together and sew only the top edge closed. (see the above photo) Press with your iron, turn right-side out, repeat seam with a top stitch.

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

Now, leaving a 3″ hole along the bottom 10″ piece — we are going sew the envelope portion together. Place the 10″ x 14″ (pointy envelope) exterior piece and interior pieces right-sides together. Sew along the outer edge, leaving the 3″ hole along the bottom. Place the other two pieces (10″ x 7″) right-sides together and repeat, leaving the same hole. Clip the corners. Turn both sets right sides out. Using your iron, push out your seams as far as you can. Match up both sets of fabric along the bottom edge (both with 3″ holes). Carefully turn these in and pin. Pin around the entire outer edge of the envelope and top stitch, enclosing your 3″ turning holes. You should now have one giant envelope.

To create pockets for the pen and cards, measure in 2″ from the left-hand edge of your fabric. Run a seam from the bottom to the top of the pocket section (only 7″ tall, not the entire 14″ triangle point!). You’ve now got one large pocket — on the right — for cards and stamps, and one little pocket — on the left, for your pen.

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

Now, pick a coordinating button to sew on the front of the flap. This is simply for decoration, and to provide a bit of weight to keep the flap down. You won’t create a button hole, so your button doesn’t need to be practical. Go wild!

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

Add a personal label if you’d like, fill with stationery and a pen and enjoy!

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

Finished correspondence envelope tutorial

Yay! Letters! Who doesn’t love letters (especially love letters)!

-k

Posted in
Correspondence, Domestic Art, Handmade goods, Tutorial
Comments (14)

Sticky

June 2nd

Red Velvet

Red Velvet

Red Velvet

Red velvet + cream cheese frosting for a birthday bowling party tonight

-k

Tagged
Posted in
Domestic Art, Kitchen Talk
Comments (7)

By the numbers

June 1st

MMay 2010

I celebrated the end of another lovely month with a fantastic Memorial weekend. By the numbers:

2500: yards swam

300: miles driven around town

200: pages read to finish “The Elegance of the Hedgehog,” which finished strong. The first 100 pages of this book are simple torture. The last 200 pick up speed and are quite lovely. I’m glad I finished it. 3 out of 5 bananas.

100: pages deliciously inhaled of “The Lonely Polygamist.” Oh, if you need a summer read — pick this up TODAY. Such a fun book. I think I have a book crush on Brady Udall.

24: Cookies baked — chocolate chip, carob, coconut

20: Tomatoes diced for bruschetta, salsa, pasta sauce

6: Slices of pizza enjoyed over the long weekend, pages written of novel #2, songs purchased on iTunes for my summer music mix

4: times I texted my brother asking him to return! my! calls!, hours spent napping on the couch with a book on my chest

3: new children in my Sunday School class, hand-me-down coats given to me by a girlfriend, movies watched

2: Mountains climbed, friends fed, blueberry cobblers baked, shoes purchased

1: Baby hat knit, bikini worn, bbq attended, birthday gift sewn, bottle of bourbon purchased, pedicure thoroughly enjoyed, dress rocked for a night out with the girls, and for the grand finale — 1 ex-boyfriend spotted through a restaurant window having dinner with his wife in Scottsdale. A rather Hollywood moment, really.

0: Moments of regret (Okay, maybe a tinge. He’s still gorgeous.)

Hope your weekend was sweet and relaxing as well!

~K

Posted in
Journal
Comments (7)