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

A Common Treasure for All, both Rich + Poor

September 15th

The tomatoes go wild

If you live within five zip codes of my home and have crossed my path in the last week, chances are I’ve taken the time to belabor what an amazing book I’ve just read — Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer, by Novella Carpenter.

If you have any inkling whatsoever to grow your own food, becoming more community minded, or just bloom where you are planted — this book is for you. If, however, you happen to be on my regular list of holiday gift recipients, I’d suggest holding off on the purchase. Yes, folks, I’ve found my book of 2010. This book is so, so very good and spoke to me a hundred different ways.

In a nutshell (in this case, a nutshell from a tree grown in your own backyard, harvested seasonally and enjoyed by the sustainable handful): Novella Carpenter and her boyfriend Bill move to a shady neighborhood in Oakland, California and find a way to raise a small farm’s worth of animals and vegetables all from a tiny apartment. Their lives are messy, smelly, wildly fulfilling, beautiful, resourceful, creative and really entertaining.

Five out of five bananas, absoloodle.

One of the many reasons I enjoyed this story is that Novella essentially takes over a bit of land that is technically not hers to grow a garden. I am a wee bit familiar with this act.

The tomatoes go wild

While my renegade garden isn’t acreage, I could relate to her worries of the proper owner coming around any day and putting a halt to hours worth of work and future bounty. Thankfully, my HOA — like many others in the foreclosure era — have bigger fish to fry. Or tomatoes to crush, so to speak. An excerpt that speaks to the history of squatting for the greater good:

“I read about the Diggers, in seventeenth-century England, who squatted in houses and planted vegetables on public land. In 1649, a scroungy group of men gathered at a small town southwest of London to plant corn and wheat on the commons. In the declaration they submitted explaining why they were ‘beginning to plant and manure the waste land of George-Hill,’ they expressed their belief that the earth was ‘a Common Treasure for all, both Rich and Poor, That every one that is born in the Land, may be fed by the Earth his Mother that brought him forth.'” Almost 350 years laer, the idea of planting food crops in common areas still makes a great deal of sense.

” In America, squatting dates back to the very beginning of white settlement. Seeking religious freedom, the Puritans, let’s face it, squatted on Indian Land.”

Also, there are so many pages of this book that gave me greater understanding and appreciation for my love of gardening:

“When seeds germinate, an amazing thing happens. A seed is ripened ovule, like a hen’s egg: it contains an embryo and a stored food supply. I watered the seeds every day because of a process called imbibition. When a seed soaks up water, its cells swell and mitochondria become rehydrated and start to work.”

There are other parts that taught me how honeybees make comb and wax, the way you raise and slaughter rabbit, how to keep chickens, ducks and turkeys happy and healthy in a tiny environment. Also? How to keep a sense of humor when you are hungry, trying to eat and maintain your ideals and doing so in a dangerous place.  I truly loved this book. I’m not conveying how funny and sarcastic Novella can be either, but if you make it through the section where she slaughters her pigs after dumpster diving for months to feed them? You’ll enjoy it yourself.

~K

Posted in
Journal, Media
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Style

September 14th

With the masses, I love Dooce. I appreciate her willingness to share the ugly and the beautiful of life. I cannot imagine the sheer number of hateful email she must receive on an hourly basis for living her life on the Internets so openly and honestly. (And please, whose life doesn’t include a bit of ugly from time to time? Show me that person. Even monks poop.)

Part of the reason I find myself returning again and again to her site is to see her daily style photo. I’m increasingly fascinated by the stuff people think help define them, and the objects they choose to surround themselves with to intentionally celebrate aesthetic and design. She does this so well and her objects are so varied — I’m always curious.

In turn, when I opened a giant box from Urban Outfitters last night to reveal my new jewelry tree, I pulled out the camera to capture its first decoration. I’ve long wanted one of these and when browsing a couple weeks ago, found several on the UO website I’d like to eventually display on a long, vintage bedroom bureau.

Tree!

Blingy tree

Bling

Bling

Funny how when you display something in a new way, it can remind you of the meaning. While I pride myself on not having collections, my jumbles of bead necklaces and bangle bracelets are like stamps in my passport. Many of them come with a great adventure, while others were given with love.

I’ve been dreaming quite a bit lately about my next home — where it will be, what it will include, what I’ll plant in the garden, where the pups will sleep. (You know, the Great Dane and Bernese Mountain pup.) It’s fun to be in this wildly creative space, plotting and planning. I hope to include more photos of my style and aesthetic as life transitions to the next beautiful zip code and planting zone.

~K

Posted in
Domestic Art, Style
Comments (11)

Book Love, Continued

September 13th

So, Mini was exceptionally kind to film the book signing for me. I’m just getting through email and remembered I hadn’t posted these links. If you are interested in hearing any of this, here is the first part. The others are available via her Youtube account. (Her undying friendship? Available with 20-plus years of dedication. Plus, she’s one of the funniest bloggers out there.)

Also, the reviews are coming in and I couldn’t be more flattered. Kirsten wrote this glowing note about my book that brought me to tears. Friends have spoken with their local libraries to purchase copies. My minister took me to lunch last week to discuss the characters at length. I can’t tell you how fun it is to hear the parts of the stories my friends and family like and the glaring errors they want fixed for the next edition.

Noted. With a smile.

Forever thankful,

K

Posted in
Journal, Novel
Comments (9)

Thanksgiving

September 12th

Saturday night started season 4 of the Pre-Emptive Strikes reign of glory. Or reign of too-much dinner followed by rented shoes and three games of hilarity. Your choice.

Homer

Kim + Adam Mack

Rebs

score!

Kim

Matt

Julez

Rebs

A pretty fun cast of characters to spend a Saturday night with, I must admit. Next time I’ll sneak a photo of Beverly,  the bowling alley maven. We’re entirely sure she uses a full can of Aqua Net on that beehive before coming to work each morning. Beverly is the type of lady who takes her job so seriously, I can’t help but want to hug her. She loves her alley and she loves her hair and there is really no need for shenanigans. She’d also more than likely swat me if I actually did try to hug her. Or touch the hair.

Also, I bowled a turkey. Second time in my life. You’d have thought I’d won the Lotto. I could feel Beverly’s eyes rolling back in her head from her tiny office behind the rented shoe rack as I jumped up and down and made a complete fool of myself. One, two, three strikes and this bowler was about to do cartwheels down the walkway.

Hey, it’s called a turkey for a reason.

~K

Posted in
Arizona, Community, Journal
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African Baby

September 11th

Amy Butler Nappy Bag pattern for Meg, who is expecting baby boy #2 any day.

Zebra Nappy Bag

Zebra Nappy Bag

Zebra Nappy Bag

Can’t wait to meet the little one! I’m already mad for #1.

~K

Posted in
Domestic Art, handmade
Comments (10)

Splashy

September 10th

There is a quilting store next to my favorite sushi joint. I’ve stared through the window drooling at their beautiful bolts for years and never once made it in time to shop. The sushi restaurant opens late and it isn’t in an area of town I’m regularly running other errands. But Wednesday! Well, Wednesday 3 Dudes Quilting was open and I broke every single “I-will-use-what-I-already-have” promise I’ve made to myself and went a little wild.

Fabric!

Fabric!

Fabric!

One of the dudes was cutting fabric and showed us his latest quilt. It was very sweet and it makes me happy to think there are small businesses still thriving in these crazy times.

Three cheers for the indies!

~K

Posted in
Community, Domestic Art
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Funambulist

September 8th

The No Vampire Book Club is reading Let the Great World Spin for September. I’ve never read anything by Colum McCann and I haven’t been this delighted to find an author since being introduced to Brady Udall’s work. McCann’s storytelling is so delicate and poignant — I’ve found myself shaking my head in agreement, re-reading sections out loud to hear the words flow together with precision, and ultimately, with just 50 pages left last night — putting the book away so I could savor it for one more day.

Let the Great World Spin is excellent. It is a story about fictional characters of New York City on August 7, 1974 who were touched by the true story of Philippe Petit — the World Trade Center tightrope walker. The story spins in a dozen different directions, from the vantage of characters as different as an Irish Catholic Priest to a Jewish judge to a Ohio-born, Bronx-living mother-daughter prostitute team. And, in a true work of genius, each character’s story is more interesting than the one before.

McCann’s writing reminds me in a way of Jhumpa Lahiri’s. Lyrical but without pretense and truly entertaining. I cannot wait to read more of his writing. This was a delightful escape from the summer heat of Phoenix into the humid, big-city life of New York in the mid-1970s. Five out of five bananas, absoloodle.

A few of my favorite excerpts:

“What Corrigan wanted was a fully believable God, one you could find in the grime of the everyday. The comfort he got from the hard, cold truth — the filth, the war the poverty — was that life could be capable of small beauties. He wasn’t interested in the glorious tales of the afterlife or the notions of a honey-soaked heaven. To him that was  dressing room for hell. Rather he consoled himself with the fact that, in the real world, when he looked closely into the darkness he might find the presence of a light, damaged and bruised, but a little light all the same. He wanted, quite simply, for the world ot be a better place, and he was in the habit of hoping for it. Out of that came some sort of triumph that went beyond theological proof, ca cause for optimism against all the evidence.”

~

“Family is like water — it has a memory of what it once filled, always trying to get back to the original stream.”

~

“I was the first n—- absolute regular on that stroll. They called me Rosa Parks. They used to say I was a chewing-gum spot. Black. And on the pavement.”

~

“That was the sort of everyday love I had to learn to contend with: if you grow up with it, it’s hard to think you’ll ever match it. I use dot think it was difficult for children of folks who really loved each other, hard to get out from under that skin because sometimes it’s just so comfortable you don’t want to have to develop your own.”

There is such joy in finding a new writer to admire. I wish there was a word that captured this exact feeling of delicious happiness — hungry to learn, consume, admire,  and roll around in the art of a new mentor. It’s like climbing a mountain only to see a series of peaks just beyond that are also calling your name.

~K

Posted in
Journal, Media
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Pinch Dash Splash Chomp

September 7th

Rosemary from the garden

baking

Lemon Rosemary Cookies

Lemon Rosemary Cookies

Banana Walnut Bread

Walnut pesto

Spent Labor day doing anything but. Instead, we feasted. Lemon rosemary cookies, banana walnut bread, walnut pesto.

Not to be greedy, but I’d like to order up another three-day weekend please. Now.

~K

Posted in
Domestic Art, Kitchen Talk
Comments (4)

Rolling in Dough

September 5th

Juliann, Jennie and I got together yesterday to try out Juliann’s new pasta attachment on le KitchenAid. Several hours, many laughs and a couple of bottles of wine later…

Pasta Making! Pasta Making!

Pasta Making! Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

IMG_5291

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Delicioso!

This was actually so much fun, it almost made me reconsider my superstitious notions of owning a KitchenAid pre-marriage. Almost.

~K

Posted in
Domestic Art, Homebody, June Cleaver, Kitchen Talk
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Wee Greenies

September 4th

Baby project supplies

Baby project supplies

Onesie

Onesie

Onesie

Onesie

Onesie Onesies

I spent time this week recharging my creative batteries in the aisle of a giant corporate bookstore, surrounded by newly published guides to knitting, paper craft and sewing. I took many notes, including how to stamp with fabric paint + use iron on decals. These are far from perfect, but I am pleased. The next batch is sure to be better.

~K

Posted in
Domestic Art, handmade
Comments (6)