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

Fall Book Review

November 16th


The Disappearing Spoon – This was a book club selection (my choice) and I loved it. It honored my inner geek. It’s the nonfiction look at the history of the periodic table and let me just say, the review couldn’t have been more timely. I competed in a scavenger hunt with friends a few weeks ago and one of the clues was listed by elements. And guess who remembered them? Ha! Also, this book reminded me of the many happy days I spent in Mr. Cassidy’s junior year chemistry class. I loved that class. Chemistry feeds my love of order. The book is so very good; it is heavy and at times hard to understand for lovers of the liberal studies, but completely worth the money. Four out of four bananas.

Committed – I just finished this — Elizabeth Gilbert’s answer to her famous memoir, Eat Pray Love. I loved EPL. I loved the book so much I read it twice and cried through the movie like I didn’t know what was happening. (Plus Javier Bardem. Are you kidding me? If Javier Bardem came on the side of Lima bean cans, they’d become my favorite vegetable.)  Committed is simply an excellent read. It is again the nonfiction/memoir/academic view of this history of marriage, with an emphasis on how marriage and childbearing has defined women. It made me want to visit Laung Prabang (to see orchards of monks dressed in orange). It also made me giggle at her description of “freebasing infatuation and passion.” Oh God, how I can relate to that. The surge of emotion that comes with new infatuation, often disguised as love. I also love the fierce independence that shines through. One of my favorite of her quips includes, “I am the winner of my own bread.”

But the icing on the cake was a poem she shred by Kate Light describing perfect domesticity:

“A house in the country to find out what’s true

a few linen shirts, some good art

and you.”

Love it. Five out of five bananas, absoloodle. I recommend it for the single folk, the happily married and everyone in between. It is a great read.


The 19th Wife – This book was on loan from my friend Clare. It is a fictionalized tale of Brigham Young’s 19th wife, Ann Eliza Young. I have read a lot of books in the last few years about polygamy, the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints and Mormon politics in the desert southwest. Many of Arizona’s leaders today are also leaders of the Latter Day Saint church locally. Many of our county supervisors have streets and junior high schools named after them, located in the Temple town of Mesa.  Many of our congress people are members of the LDS church. Some 75% of my high school in Mesa was LDS.

So, my review isn’t without bias. Growing up, I felt like an outsider to not be a part of the faith. This left a sour taste in my mouth. When I worked in Mozambique, I worked closely with an LDS group that completely changed my views. While this still isn’t the spiritual path for me, I think you’d be hard pressed to find another group that so actively lives their ideals on a daily basis. Their views on family and missionary work are obvious to anyone paying attention. There is a lot about the Mormon life that I appreciate and respect.

The book was written with a scholarly view of memoirs left by women married to Brigham Young — one of the founders of the faith. But it is fiction. And while many still say “Mormons are polygamists” — I think their church has taken considerable strides to disassociate themselves with the fundamentalists who show up on the news living in compounds with prairie hair and dresses. Current day Mormons are no more polygamists than any other Christian group; Jacob had two wives. As a United Methodist, that doesn’t mean I’m taking a sister wife.  (Sorry, Scott.)

This story was an interesting look at life in the 1800s, including the hard slogging life of women coming across the United States by pushcart, tending babies and animals along the way. Three out of five bananas.

Her Fearlful Symmetry – This was the follow up to the excellent book, The Time Traveler’s Wife. I loved that story. It was so brilliantly written and had me from the first page. This story, by contrast, had me half-way through until a serious change in the characters left me feeling like I’d been tricked. Her writing style is still great and it is an easy read. But certainly not my favorite of her work. Two out of five bananas.

Racing in the Rain – Reading this today and loving it. It is the story of a family told from the perspective of the family dog. It couldn’t be more up my alley. In one scene, where the dog has discovered the television and is loving learning all day while his owners are away, Garth Stein writes of the Discovery Channel, “They talk a lot about Darwin; pretty much every educational channel has some kind of show about evolution at some point, and it’s usually really well thought out and researched. However, I don’t understand why people insist on pitting the concepts of evolution and creation against each other. Why can’t they see the spiritualism and science are one? The bodies that evolve and souls evolve and the universe is a fluid place that marries them both in a wonderful package called a human being. What’s wrong with that idea?”

Banana review pending.


Next up:

The Road

Cutting for Stone



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How does your garden grow?

November 15th

Precisely, it now grows tomatoes. In November.



For Finny


Say it with me: booyah!


P.S. If you need a little Monday morning pick-me-up, treat yourself to some Andrew Bird. Whistling awesomeness.

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Domestic Art, Earth Mama
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Spicy Acorn Squash

November 14th







Stuffed Acorn Squash



3 acorn squash — halved, seeds removed, placed flesh side down on a cookie sheet

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 cup of black beans

6 tablespoons of goat cheese

1 can of diced tomatoes

1 pinch of garlic salt


Heat oven to 350. Roast squash and garlic for 45-50 minutes, drizzled with olive oil. Using tongs, place flesh side up in a casserole dish. Fill with cheese, beans, tomatoes, and sprinkle of garlic salt. Split roasted garlic among the six halves. Place back in the oven for 5 minutes to warm. Optional — use diced tomatoes with jalapenos, or top with salsa.

Healthy, easy and bright. So many great colors on a plate — and a lovely way to make your home smell like Fall’s roasted vegetables.


“Damn good.”

“What chipmunks would eat on vacation in Mexico. Acorns meets Acapulco.” (Okay, I made that up. But it is my review!)

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Kitchen Talk, Recipes
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Love. It’s Pretty Simple, Really.

November 10th

bells at San Xavier

I spent this morning running with two friends rambling about how angry I became yesterday reading the most recent ” Interpreter.” This is a bimonthly magazine published by the United Methodist Church and sent to members nationally. To be honest, it normally doesn’t reach the top of the reading pile before it reaches the recycling bin, but yesterday I found myself without other reading material and with an unexpected handful of free minutes.

The stories are a great reflection of what’s happening in congregations nationwide. They are exactly what you may expect — super successful bake sales, cookbook ideas, fundraisers for homeless outreach, book reviews, military ministry, etc. There is typically the foreign mission story too — where we pat ourselves on the backs for nets distributed in African malarial zones, clean wells dug in remote South American villages, hospitals built in Asia. These stories fill my spiritual sails. The idea of being a member of an international church that prides itself on works of God — building schools, wells, hospitals — versus going door to door trying to convert people with the Bible, perfectly suits me. Actions speak so much louder than words.

(See any of the recent anti-gay sex scandals involving male evangelical ministers and their lovely boy toys as exhibit A.)

It seems harder than ever to claim Christianity in this American life. As a Christian, I am under a microscope. I know my every word and action are examined for fault — for proof that I’m no better than anyone else and that my beliefs are silly. Let it be said loud and clear that I have many faults, many of my beliefs are silly (love me some Nacho Libre) and no, I am certainly not better than anyone else.

But apparently, I am more compassionate. Because when I got to the back of this copy of “Interpreter,” imagine my shock, anger and disgust at the letters to the editor that came from a handful of communities across the country denouncing: gay marriage, gay members in the church, helping illegal immigrants, and perhaps the most hysterical — how yoga is a pagan ritual Christians should not participate in.

I’m tempted to write letters back but instead I’ll just stand on this little blog pulpit and scream my loudest:

Hey Christians! If we don’t collectively figure out how to stop being such a bunch of judgmental, hypocritical assholes — we are going to end up the with the dinosaurs and dodos. (Yes, Peggy J. Norris of Bolton, North Carolina — I’m looking at you. Really? You don’t think God loves gay people? Pretty sure God said love everyone. Everyone, Peggy. Not just people like you. Everyone. All. Todo. Tout. Get it?)

And Alan Blackford of Shelbina, MO — as  person who lives in Arizona I can tell you that taking water to illegal immigrants in the desert is something I would proudly be arrested for. Again, while you cite a handful of verses on how we as Christians are to obey the law, I’ll repeat what Jesus said was the most important commandment —love God and love your neighbors as yourselves. Next time you decide to escape the snow and fly south for the winter, to say, Tucson — I pray that you have enough water. Because God forbid you get a little too tan on that vacation and be parched. I’d hate for a Christians with your mindset to pass you by, citing federal immigration law as a reason we shouldn’t help our fellow man. I also pray that you take a good look around your own neighborhood and consider why, Mr. Blackford, your people were allowed to immigrate so freely. (I’ll take a huge leap here and say perhaps our people were on the same boat from Europe. The pasty white boat.) In other words, DUDE! Stop the hate. Think a bit bigger. Think how miserable it would be to roam a desert for, say, 40 days and nights without food and water.

And for you, Lafe Tolliver of Toledo, Ohio — I can only say namaste. May the Lord be with you and may Saint Peter meet you at the pearly gates in a full downward dog to show what an ass you’ve made of yourself to suggest yoga is an “occult novelty.” Really? You mean to tell me there isn’t some social justice issue a bit more important in Toledo you couldn’t get behind? Is this really the best use of your energy? I think not Lafe. In fact, I think you sound a little tense. Could I suggest some Bikram? It would do wonders for your energy and for your attitude. Stretching, learning to meditate and being at peace is not in opposition to our faith! In fact, I’m pretty sure Jesus was a fan of all three.

But most importantly, I am certain that this bickering of how to behave and who to love is pointless. It is a waste of our effort as United Methodists and as Christians. If you feel so strongly that someone is living in opposition to your faith — then lead your life the way you see fit. Show them through actions!

And again, the point of our faith, of our walk with Christ is clear: We are here to comfort each other. We are here to be the light. We are here to love and be love!

That’s right. Peggy, Alan, Lafe — I love you. You are numbskulls, but I love you.

Be well, amigos.


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Naked and Free

November 9th

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Horrible photos of a lovely gift; I was given this gorgeous wrap/scarf by my friend Tina this weekend. It is so, so beautiful. I love the rust and fall colors and the leaf edge.

So yes, I am rocking a skirt, short sleeve shirt and a scarf today. While it wouldn’t make sense for my neck to be cold enough to require handknits while my legs and arms roam naked and free, it does in Phoenix. In my neighborhood, we all get excited about weather in the 70s —  for the collective return to sanity (politics excluded) and a fabulous change in wardrobe.

Next up: jackets!


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Arizona, Favorites, handmade
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November 7th





Juliann and I ran the Women’s Half Marathon together this morning. The course was hilly by Arizona standards, but also quite lovely. We started in south Scottsdale, wound around the Papago Mountains, over the Mill Avenue Bridge and around Tempe Town Lake to finish at the park. While my time was far from a personal best, it was a great dive back into the pool of running.



I’m now looking for a couple more halves this winter. Even though today was slow, it felt great. In so many ways, it filled my sails. I can’t wait to get back out there and race again!


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Arizona, Get Fit, Good to Great
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Lego my Lego

November 5th

An October birthday boy wanted a Lego themed birthday party last month.  {Tell me his mother isn’t a creative genius. Look at these details!} I’ve met few children as sweet as Tau and knew I had to come up with something creative to help celebrate his special day.






A Lego man flashlight and embellished hoodie sweatshirt it is.


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Celebrate!, Domestic Art
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For the Monkeys

November 4th

Cooking light nana bread

Cooking light nana bread \Cooking light nana bread \Cooking light nana bread

167 calories per slice with this Cooking Light recipe. And oh man, is it good. Having time to bake like this is such an indulgent luxury. I love the weighing and measuring and I want to dance around the house as it fills with the warm smell of baking spices.

Happiness, at times, comes in a loaf.

Tonight, this is to be shared with friends after dinner. I’m bringing together friends new and old for a small dinner party on the patio. Another joy — November weather in Arizona.


Posted in
Celebrate!, June Cleaver, Kitchen Talk
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OYW: 2010 Crafters Unite!

November 3rd


Dear Finny,

One Yard Wonders has proven a challenging sew along. Not that the book isn’t chalked full of great ideas, but that it seems our loyal readers and joiners from the previous sew alongs haven’t been as inspired. And to be honest, with the craziness that has been my 2010 — I simply haven’t been sewing as much.

That said, my fine friend, you are the WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER. Because, alas, you were the only entry in the September/October sew along. But never fear, you did make yourself a sweet little hipster bag. So it wasn’t all for nothing, right?

Dorks, hiking

Fancy bubbly

The Finny

(Yep, these are just gratuitous shots of the Finnberg. Because I love her.)

That said, Fin — we have to spice things up pronto. Crafters unite! For the November/December Fin + Donk OYW sew along, the project is: ANY PROJECT IN THE BOOK. That’s right. We are taking off the parameters, asking you to pick a project at will, and get to sewing. Show us what you are making, explain why you are making it and throw that photo into the craft pool.

And when you work up a hunger? Here is the fabulous recipe for the month too. Nothing like a great bowl of soup when it cools down. (Never mind in Phoenix that means it is still 90 today.)

Fire up those Singers, ladies. It’s time to get to business.


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Domestic Art, Sew Along
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November 2nd

A new bag for a friend who was recently married — an unconventional way to celebrate, and a stylish way to pack for a honeymoon.





Amy Butler pattern; moda fina fabrics


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Celebrate!, Domestic Art
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