First, may I just wish you a belated birthday? How was it? I hope your package of birthday goodies from Arizona have arrived and that you were spoiled rotten with gin + tonics, fancy yarn, new gardening tools, running gear, time with your Bubba and time in nature. Plus pie. Perhaps rhubarb.
I hope it was truly lovely. This time of year always makes me think of you — the years we worked together in college — and how the beginning of a new Fall semester meant a great birthday party for Finny.
It seems only right we honor you by sewing up the Not-Ugly-Trash-Bag for this double-month’s sew-along. I love this project. In fact, [SPOILER!] chances are if I typically sew you a Christmas present, this is exactly what you’ll be receiving. They are practical, keep things clean, are easy to sew and they have the Finny stamp of approval. Check, check, checkity check.
Never mind that I sewed the pocket inside out. I was going for that look. Um, really. Regardless, my car is already cleaner and more stylish because of this great project. Our winner is Sourkraut. Love the cupcake fabric! (Honorable mention and previous winner Sue deserves a high five for her awesome elephant too. SO cute. Those ears!)
Thank you for participating ladies.
So, Finny — what are our next sewing assignments from One Yard Wonders?
Keeping with our theme of a sewing project and a recipe, this month’s kitchen assignment is something I hope will bring in the new season. Cooler temperatures, fall leaves, sleeves, being able to spend time outside without the possibility of death…
Pumpkin Carrot Gingerbread
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 2 carrots, shredded (can use squash instead)
- 3 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Directions Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease loaf pans. Combine sugar, oil and eggs; beat until smooth. Add water, pumpkin, carrots and spices. In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.
Can’t wait to hear what we are sewing up Finny!
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- Domestic Art, Sew Along
I’m working on a wedding quilt for Matt + Mariah. My mom helped get it started when she recently visited. Instead of a traditional wedding registry book, they had guests sign squares we’d cut for the event. Slowly, these squares are transforming into something useful + sentimental.
Doing this kind of work makes me miss my mom — the kind of miss that you carry around in your stomach like a heavy stone. The nature of our relationship has changed in the last few years; I desperately wish we lived in the same city for a period of time to quilt, cook, live together.
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- handmade, Journal
I think tenacious + clever are two of my most favorite adjectives. Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t like to be a little more of each? In complimenting a friend this week, I noted she was both and meant it. Surrounding ourselves with the right people — those who inspire us to have a better attitude, work a little harder, be a bit happier — this is one the greatest tasks we face. Balancing this great social mix with a fair amount of personal downtime is the other side of the coin. I need healthy doses of both to have any spark of tenacity or cleverness.
And so, this weekend I am quite happily spending some much needed quiet time with my running shoes, knitting needles, Netflix and thoughts. I hope to disconnect from all things Internet for a chunk of time and in turn reconnect with my spirit.
Wishing you a peaceful break too!
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I know, I know. Another book post. We’ll get back to the knitting, cooking, traveling and the such soon. I need a couple more days of enjoying the after-glow. Amanda — who edited the novel and took the back cover photo — also took a gorgeous collections of shots Tuesday night. How couldn’t I share these?
Rex! My old running buddy!
Mr. Green — my 8th grade English teacher.
Clare, who I traveled with to Nicaragua and Bolivia. And, Duda, a friend who grew up in Mozambique.
My mama. This photo makes me a little teary.
Ms. Sunshine Cupcakes!
My boss, Joe.
Mark and Susie, parents to this adorable boy.
Alma! My world traveling buddy.
Ms. St. Arnauld, my 6th grade teacher.
Rett + Karen, who have been friends with my parents since high school. My dad tells a funny story of Rett giving him shots of whiskey right before he walked down the aisle to marry my mom.
Diane — a long-time family friend.
JT + Kathleen — Mini’s parents and my good friends.
My minister + friend, Jeff.
The Bennetts! Kacey’s folks + my cheerleaders.
Mariah and Julez, who among other things are my bowling buddies.
Octavio, Ted + JT.
Pretty much the best night of my life so far.
Thank you again, Amanda, for taking these. See the complete set at: www.nemecphotos.com
- Posted in
- Arizona, Celebrate!, Journal
Did you notice last night was a full moon? Couldn’t have been coincidence. The “Under the Same Moon” signing brought more than a 100 of my friends and family under one roof, too. I honestly couldn’t believe how many people were there — my grandparents and uncle from Tucson, my mama from Texas, three of my favorite teachers, many family friends who’ve taken me in as an additional child since my parents moved, my girlfriends, coworkers, fellow church attendants, bloggers and I think, just maybe, even a few strangers.
It was a night I’ll never forget. Today I am so full of hope, happiness and gratitude.
Thank you, dear blog readers. You too are included on the acknowledgment page.
(And there are many more photos and video clips to come, but I couldn’t help but post a few to start off the day!)
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- Arizona, Celebrate!, Goals
For the longest time, Adam and I’ve said “later, Tyrone” instead of “later, gator.” I don’t know why it started, but it makes me giggle every time.
So, when my mama gave me a little African-inspired bling this afternoon to rock at tonight’s signing, the lucky guy was quickly coined Tyrone. I’ll be sporting T with a belly full of butterflies, a giddy smile, my lucky heels and some baubles.
Tyrone was gifted over lunch at one of my favorite local spots. I immediately recognized the server; we’d gone to high school together. His arms were covered in colorful tattoos, but his smile was identical as the day we’d graduated. We chatted for a minute and he said he was serving tables during the day to fund his dream: being a rock star. He “screams” as the lead in a band in the evenings. He rambled for a bit about how it was important to him to chase a dream, be working for something he could believe in, etc. His eyes glittered as he described being on stage with his bandmates.
I nodded, enthusiastically. I know in my gut I am supposed to write. This first book is full of typos and errors and passion and love. It’s a fun first step toward a career. Speaking with Emily today she asked when the second book, “Basket Baby,” will be complete. October. I’ll have draft one done within the next few months. The writing, character development, voice, story arch — they are all substantially easier and clearer the second time. Plus, now I know how to publish. I feel like I’ve climbed a giant mountain and the next peak looks like a hill by comparison.
October. I can work with a deadline, especially when it doesn’t feel like work.
In the meantime, I’ll just let this novel hang out next to my buddy and fellow author Barack. This is where Adam placed the book on his shelf. (How am I supposed to remain humble with this kind of ridiculous treatment?)
- Posted in
- Celebrate!, Goals, Good to Great
My most favorite way to unwind after a busy week — close friends, homemade meal, big dinner table, generous glasses of wine, plenty of laughter.
I’m fairly certain life doesn’t get any better.
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Last weekend I hosted a few friends for dinner — a swim & grill get together. Such gatherings are a reason I love Arizona. Managing the heat is much easier when you are up to your neck in cool water. Plus, I’ve got this circle of friends who are crazy, funny, committed, honest, caring and crazy. Did I mention the crazy?
The best part is — they totally call me on my crazy.
For example, about a month ago I posted on Facebook that I was buying yarn for my Christmas knitting projects. I was honestly making an order. It never even crossed my mind that posting about Christmas knitting projects in July in Phoenix was silly. Really. Sometimes I’m swimming so far deep in the crazy pool, it seems like an ocean. Adam, however, almost immediately called me out.
It was July.
I needed a cool drink and a date, not another order of yarn.
I also feel a little crazy at the moment because let’s be honest – I can think, talk and dream about only one event. There are so many exciting and happy things happening this month, I feel like skipping. As if having this team of amazing friends wasn’t enough, my family is rallying and will be here Tuesday for the signing. My sixth grade teacher + my favorite teacher from high school are both attending. (Feel free to cry a bit over that. I did.) My elementary school arch nemesis is attending. (Booyah!) And I have a feeling an ex-boyfriend or two may even show, just to add to the stomach churning nervousness of the night. Hey! Maybe they could all sit together and compare notes?
It’s bound to be a night to remember. And I can’t help but hope this is just the beginning.
To have a taste of what I’ve always wanted has made me delirious. I’ve been thinking about how great it will be when I can rent a summer home in the Puget Sound to write. (I’ve got one picked out.) It will be nice to fly into New York for meetings with editors. Heck, I’ve found myself saying:
“Well, with the next book there will certainly be an agent and a publishing house involved.”
“You know your favorite bookstore in Albuquerque, Denver, Portland? Yes. I’m sending copies.”
“I don’t know about a book tour this time, but certainly with the next.”
“Julia should buy the rights. This would be a great movie.”
And perhaps the most egotastic-crazy yet — “Do you want that signed?”
Julia. As in Julia Roberts. What has happened to me? It’s easy to get carried away. It is also easy to under achieve in this life and to shoot for an average existence. I guess I’d rather be crazy excited about life than apathetic.
Thankfully, I’ve got a lot of good people to keep me grounded. Including those who take photos when I leave my camera unattended.
To crazy dreams coming delightfully true,
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- Goals, Good to Great, Journal
Did you know 1 in 3 children in Arizona is considered “hungry?” This is simply unacceptable to me.
Remember when I tried to get that community garden off the ground, so to speak, in central Phoenix? Well, a few lessons were learned in the toil. Namely, taking earth that’s been happily growing Bermuda grass for decades and trying to transform it into fertile soil for vegetables requires a lot more than a bunch of volunteers and hand tools. Perhaps a commercial grade construction crew could have done it, but we couldn’t. We, meaning me and probably more than a hundred volunteers in the last two years, spent countless hours digging, weeding, pulling, pushing and aching as a result. The bumper crop of okra was a mild success but the true gem of the garden is the orchard. The 75 fruit trees don’t mind a bit of Bermuda at their heels. With regular irrigation, they are thriving.
In the next year we should see a crop of citrus, apples, cherries, plums and figs. The trees cost about $20 a piece to get into the earth. They require little care and will soon be mighty producers of fresh fruit — a luxury in this community.
This got me thinking.
My little church isn’t the only one on irrigation in central Phoenix. Nor are we the only faith community with grandfathered water rights, lots of space, a desire to be more social aware, and home to community-minded folk. What if we paired the Valley Permaculture Alliance (I’m a board member) with the Association of Arizona Food Banks and the local faith community? What if we asked each church, synagogue, mosque and faith center on irrigation to plant 5 fruit trees at an expense of $100? We could partner the churches with a permaculture volunteer who knew something about planting trees and a food bank willing to get the produce to hungry families in the Valley?
Even better, what if we grew enough produce that there was a glut and we were able to send fresh fruit created from earth and water that was otherwise going to feed Bermuda grass to hungry bellies nationally?
Oh, we can. And we will. The national gleaning system, which the Association of Arizona Food Banks is a part of, will likely see truck-loads of grapefruit, oranges and lemons sent to northern states in return for trucks of potatoes and grain for desert bellies. The best part of this community project is that no extra water or space is needed. Fewer than 10 volunteer hours a year are required and a simple investment of $100. I don’t think we could make large-scale community changing work any simpler.
Here is where you come into play. Do you attend a church or other faith center in the Phoenix area? Do you have irrigation? Are you interested in helping see this project come to light? I’ve got the permaculture guild and the food banks on board. My church will be participating. I’ll be volunteering. I’d love it if you would too.
- Posted in
- Arizona, Community, Earth Mama, Flora and Fauna
So, I’ve been waiting a bit to post some fun photos of Shelley and her three young ones: Vincenzo, Paola and Olivia. (My God, how gorgeous are those names? Perfectly matched, as you’ll see.)
Look at this mama go! Feeding the twins at the same time. She’s a great mama, and once again it is such a delight to watch my friends become parents. But then again, how easy is it to love these baby birds?
Right? Squishy little adorable Italian bambinas!
Their big brother is just as sweet, but far more mobile and therefore harder to get good photos of. I adore them all.
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- Journal, Photography, Travel