Puppy Dog Blanket

I have this delightful thrift store by my house; it has to be one of the best little shops I’ve ever found. The other day I needed a pie plate. I also left with a pewter serving dish, a glass butter dish, and a handful of vintage linens. I have long said I don’t collect things. And apparently I’ve long been a liar. Vintage embroidered linens? I don’t care if I already have boxes full. I love them. Setting a table with old handmade tablecloths and cloth napkins makes me dizzy with happiness. Even better if I know I’ve rescued someone’s handiwork (my GOD the time it must take to create some of those embroidered pieces) to display in my home. Recycling at it’s very best.

Puppy Dog Blanket

Or, apparently — to turn into a dog blanket. Some friends in Phoenix recently adopted a new pup. I know one of the issues I continue to deal with after adopting Willie Nelson Mandela is his separation anxiety. I’ve read pound pups in particular suffer from the panic of being left for good again. And again. And oh look, I’m just stepping outside for a second and yet Nelson is again making that weird yippy noise like he’s never going to see me again.

Puppy Dog Blanket

What does this have to do with old rescued linens? I found this cute vintage handtowel at the thrift store this weekend. It was in a stack of other pieces of fabric I picked up. Knowing I wanted to put together a small care package for my friends’ dog, I pulled out this piece for the backing of a puppy blanket. The idea is the dog sleeps with this, or has it on his/her bed when you are home. But if you are preparing for a trip, the owners sleep with it for a couple days. The blanket then stays with the dog when they are away, but their smell stays with the dog — providing a bit of comfort to our otherwise anxious pups.

Puppy Dog Blanket

No idea if it works, but I do know that a bit of handmade blanket love, with a splash of super soft fleece, never hurt anyone.


La La Land

Sometimes when I am preparing for a dinner party, I let myself get lost in a pretend land where I have a reality cooking show. Wearing a frilly apron and pearls, I whip through the fridge, pulling out ingredients and humming along to Miles Davis on the radio. I rattle off the recipes to the audience (Nelson.) I laugh at my mistakes and spills and blush bashful when something comes out of the oven that makes me proud.

January Dinner Party

Yesterday my La-La Land looked a bit like this:

January dinner party

January dinner party

January dinner party

January dinner party

January dinner party

January dinner party

January dinner party

With a dozen friends coming over after work for a meal I marketed as “a casual happy hour,” the menu got a wee bit carried away, as it goes when I receive an issue of Bon Appetit mid-week. My friend David wanted to bring black eyed peas and make his famous cast iron skillet cornbread. Sarah wanted to make kale chips. Everyone else wanted a warm meal and a cold drink. And so, I added roasted Brussels sprouts, baked barbeque chicken, and lots of dessert. Lots and lots of dessert.

January dinner party

January Dinner Party

Baking apple pie reminds me of my Grandmother Maxine — known for her crust prowess. These beauties would make her smile. The coconut cake, made with coconut oil and milk and topped with toasted flakes over a buttercream cream cheese frosting, went over well too. (It was a take on a recipe in this month’s BA, and a nod to the southern theme.)

January dinner partyJanuary dinner party

The sponsors of my pretend cooking show would be Kitchen-Aid, Tory Burch and Bare Minerals. The eggs would be fresh from the chicken coop. The sprouts would have come from my garden. The guest would sit together around a great kitchen table, rather than folding chairs with plates in their laps like last night. We would play cards after dinner and sip French press coffee, relaxed and happy.

That said, I’ve got the bones of this daydream right: an incredibly sweet group of friends, great food and lovely Mr. Davis on the radio. A delightful start to the weekend, indeed.

Watch your back Martha,


The Poetic Theologian In a Car..

Sagrado Corazon Church, Granada

Funny thing, this poetry and theology class is kicking. my. ass. These poets were hard core in their theology and making even the smartest in the room scratch his head for interpretation.

WH Auden, in particular, is a trickster. (Also, some of his poems are 50 pages long, with 60 pages afterword of “notes.” While cryptic, the dude had a LOT to say.) While my favorite poets remain lyricists, I have been getting a lot out of trying to decode this religious poetry and how it means something different to each person in the room.

Kinda like faith.

St. Francis of Assisi church

This week a friend sent me a message on Facebook asking why I’d chosen to be a member of the United Methodist Church. This time the answers came easily:

So, I have a random question for you…I noticed a bit ago that you said in a status update that you found a church you love and I think you said it was United Methodist. I was just wondering why you love the United Methodist church? Since we also have moved I’ve been trying to find a place where I feel good about going – a place that theology I am not always battling – and a few people have told me that I probably would like the United Methodist church. Anyway, I was thinking about going, but just wanted to ask your thoughts. Thanks so much!!

I fired back:

I have attended the UMC since baptism, so it wasn’t hard for me to buy into finding a church in this denomination when I came to Denver. For me, it is critical that my faith is all-loving. I believe in a God who loves homosexuals equally to heterosexuals, Republicans and Democrats alike, women and men exactly the same. With this in mind, it is also critical to me that God and my faith follow the teachings of Jesus and the Gospel. A reconciling UMC does all of these things. Right now the official slogan of the UMC is “Open hearts. Open minds. Open Doors.” In other words, our church is calling us to reach out to everyone and make every single soul feel welcome and loved in our worship. 

This is who I want to be. So, this church jives for me.

The Cathedral of Jinotega from the view of the cemetery

With next week being the final poetry class, I’ve decided to give the instructor a tongue-in-cheek card to thank him for his leadership and time. It will go a bit like this:

Dear Mr. Poetry Dean,

I really should call you Mr. Mean.

Auden, Stevens and more.

Difficult to the core!

All that said, I thank you for your patience and time.

You listened to me ramble without measure or rhyme.

I learned much from your love of words, faith and art.

I always hated poetry, but now have a fresh start.

Dylan and Seuss remain my favorite poets,

(I am not one, if you didn’t know it.)






Cooking with Sarah

Cooking with Sarah

A new friend, who has been staying with me for a few months, is a professional runner. Yes, I realize I’m setting myself up for a very odd pattern of having professional athletes live with me. But, then again, it is nice to have company and someone else to take Nelson for walks.

Fine. Sarah takes him for distance runs. I take him for easy walks.

Having someone in my home who monitors every single bite that goes in her mouth as part of her job has been, well…. let’s say interesting. It’s made me take a much closer look at my fridge, plate, and scale.

I once dreamed of swimming collegiately after spending the majority of my childhood in a Speedo, but it didn’t pan out. Come to find out I am not fast. I’m not a quick swimmer, runner, cyclist, tooth brusher, etc. I can, however, go the distance. The mile was always my event swimming. The half marathon became my event as an adult runner. I loved the one half Ironman I completed. These events take as much mental discipline as they do strength; I love the dual challenge.

Thankfully, I’ve got exercise-loving genes. My parents were both incredibly active when I was growing up and continue to exercise today. My brother was on the  path to being a world class swimmer once upon a time, and today can climb mountains like a monkey. Our family vacations were planned around beach time, where we’d swim and run and goof off with the paddle ball set until we’d barely be able to lift fish tacos to our tired mouths.

Living with a professional female runner has stirred up emotion I didn’t anticipate, nor considered once when hosting Matty for three years. Come to find out, I deeply wish I’d made strides athletically then, and could run more than 3 miles today without my body failing today. This buried emotion emerged recently at the end of yoga classes, bubbling up unexpectedly. It’s strange to recognize a disappointment that lay dormant for 15 years, waiting for just the inopportune time to be mined into daylight.

What can you do? I wish I’d been fast. I’m not. Boo-freaking-hoo. That doesn’t mean I can’t be a great athlete (yogi, hiker, cyclist, bowler, driving range golf ball destroyer) today.

Cooking with Sarah

Cooking with Sarah has been an education in dietary diversity and odd supplements. I now regularly eat brewer’s yeast. There is fish oil in my fridge. There are hemp hearts in a canister on the counter. I’m eating a ridiculous, Costco-amount of spinach each week and have started carrying a water bottle wherever I go. Sometimes an old dog can learn new tricks.

Frankly, it is more fun to be challenged to those things I can change — headstands in yoga, a healthy diet, cycling up Lookout Mountain — than spending any more time pouting about the history I cannot. I thank a regular yoga practice for both digging up what I didn’t want to address, and for learning to let it go.

Namaste, y’all.



A scarf for a new Denver friend who has made my transition here easier. She and her husband are truly lovely people — friends I hope to have forever:

Christine Scarf

Christine Scarf

{click on the photo for pattern details.}

I picked this yarn up in Tempe because it reminded me of the ocean. Thankfully, I bought two skeins, which worked out perfectly. There was enough for the long fringe, and to wrap the gift and attach washing instructions.

Fellow knitters — call me crazy, but I’m putting a new rule on this craft. I am no longer letting myself “buy a skein because it so pretty!” I have so many odd ball gorgeous single skeins of yarn, and few projects I actually want to knit with 1 ball. No more. I’m going to work through my current stash and then be disciplined to buy what a project calls for.

Does anyone stick to this? Or have a better plan?


Dirty Dog

Apparently the only thing consistent with the weather in Colorado this time of year is the inconsistency. This week has included snow, frigid evening temperatures, and the balmy 60+ degree day.

Dirty Dog

This swing in temperatures, however, can make an otherwise lovely hike through El Dorado Canyon become a rather monstruous battle between ice, snow, and Nelson’s love of chasing “the deers.” An otherwise lovely afternoon was interrupted by my foolish decision to let Mr. Willie Nelson Mandela off leash. He’s done fine before, normally running ahead and immediatley treking back at the first whistle. Rarely does he get out of my sight.

Dirty Dog

This week, however, he spotted some giant white tailed snacks and took off like a maniac for the hills. I spent no fewer than 15 minutes hyperventalating, calling his name, and cursing my stupid decision to let him roam free. Eventually, thankfully, he came back — but not after I’d gone 1/4 a mile off trail, through knee high snow in some spots, slippery mud in others, and up a steep mountain covered in tiny cactus.

Dirty Dog

I know. Snow. Cactus. Mud. Boulder County. What can I say? It’s a gloriously beautiful and weird place — those Flat Iron Mountains.

Dirty Dog

Dirty Dog

Thankfully, the little muddy beast came back fine, if not a bit shaken by the rare scolding. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he needed a bath afterward. (He’s currently sulking on the couch, curly and smelling of strawberry shampoo.)


Lessons learned: don’t let WNM off leash, bring a second pair of shoes this time of year, take more hikes. Even with the cleaning required after, it was so luxurious to be out in the sunshine, listening to the wind pour through the pines and watching that sweet little creature of mine adventure like he’d never before been let outside.




King Mountain

I flew to Phoenix this week for work. It was a turn-around trip in one day – some 19 hours door-to-door.

This is the new bar for exhaustion. The standard used to be post-marathon. Or at least post-time zone/hemisphere/continent jump. Alas, with a plantar still fasciating and a passport gathering dust – the occasional back and forth commuting adventure drains me dry.

I plopped into my airplane seat home, already 15 hours after I’d left Nelson, ready to catch up with podcasts and review notes for the next day. Instead, I quickly found myself in a lengthy conversation with the man in the middle seat, who’d arrived in a cloud equal parts nicotine and sorrow. His eyes prematurely creased, teeth stained, hands and face spotted by his age-old habit.

And then, just as I was about to roll my tired eyes back in my head, turn up the iPod and try to ignore the smell of stale cigarettes permeating our area, I noticed he was crying. Gentle tears flowed down his cheeks as he studied the ticket in his lap.

“Where are you from, sir?” I said quietly, reaching out for the calloused hand of a laborer.


“Ay, si? Cuba? Cubano! Que parte?”

We continued for an hour while, coincidentally, stalled at the gate — the plane’s fuel cells were being repaired. He left Cuba 30 years ago after serving as a merchant marine. He’d sailed around the world. But today, his journey was from Tucson, via Phoenix, Denver, Charlotte and Miami to attend the funeral of his mother.

She’d lived a good life. A long life. She’d escaped Cuba too. He’d see his siblings and several of his adult children when he finally arrived. He was certain she would be proud of him for making the trip. But…

I waited. He reddened with embarrassment, coughing up so much of his life to a stranger. Yet, he rattled on like a boiling pot.

The trip was such a luxury. He felt guilty for the money he’d had to borrow to get the flights. And here he was without any money for food or any way to buy flowers for her service. But his heart truly ached because the one person he wanted sitting next to him was instead in Sonora, Mexico. Deported. His mujer had been swooped up in an immigration raid. She’d left behind her 16 year old American-born daughter, who he was now caring for.

“I drive her to school every day. She’s not mine, but she is mine.”

Now somewhere over northern Arizona at 30,000 feet, I simply nodded. I gave him what I could – my full attention.

And in a moment of grace, the woman sitting next to him on the aisle spoke up – hours after the confessional began.

“Señor,” she began with an accent I recognized as Mexican. “Señor.” I wondered if she was calling him, or God? She took his hand, looked him in the eye, and began to pray for his family and comfort him. A business owner in Denver, her grandparents were from Chihuahua. She knew the sorrow of having family spread across the world and not always being able to put the pieces of life together the way one wished.

The next hour involved the three of us discussing life, love, sorrow and faith. By the time the landing gear dropped, she’d opened her wallet and given him money for those meals and flowers. I passed off a bit of food I’d been given for the flight. His tears dried and slowly, a smile revealing missing teeth emerged.

Looking at a sea of amber lights shining from the city floor below, I found comfort. Refueled. Full of grace.



La Fashionista: Jewelry Edition

You know those women you have in your life who are always put together? Not in a sense of perfect makeup or blown out hair, or even looking like a catalog. Truly stylish. Women who carry themselves with a sense of personal flare that is different from anyone else you know, but who pull it off?



Not the best photo to showcase Min’s fashion side, but I couldn’t find a good one. Trust me.

I’ve two women like this who I’ve regularly admired: Mini and Kara. Mini is a childhood friend who can wear a sequin mini-skirt, sky high boots and a tunic and somehow make it look like she’s ahead of both Gaga and Vogue. Kara is just the same. The girl has the most interesting collection of handbags, jewelry and shoes. She mixes and matches with a sense of fashion I truly envy.

Lovely Kara


Yep. Kara’s gorgeous. 

So, I nudged Kara last year into sharing her sense of style with me. She regularly blogs about her fashion choices and I thought it would be fun if we each shared something out of our wardrobes, monthly, that make us smile. (With, you know, the inherent selfish motive of hoping she helps me look at what I already own with new, fashionista eyes.) This month, she’s rocking turquoise. (My love of the stone is long documented. Several of my most cherished pieces of jewelry are chunky turquoise gifted by my grandmother Maxine.)

I also love chunky jewelry. I have a rule – I only ever wear two pieces of jewelry at one time. Earrings and a ring. Necklace and bracelets. Never all four at once. As a result, I often lean on big pieces of bright color that make me happy. Like this necklace I picked up in Johannesburg.


Or this one I bought in Cameroon from a street vendor.


I also love this ring my parents gave me for my 31st birthday.


My sense of style is much simpler. I wear mostly solid colors. I love the Gap – as boring and mundane as it may be. And I fully believe a great handbag can tie together an entire outfit. I often wear thrift store finds paired with brightly colored clogs and a handbag that cost half a paycheck. Thrifty-chic? I wouldn’t go so far. But I would say I’ve got a lot to learn from Mini and Kara about putting together an outfit and rocking it with a sense of confidence.

Now, the challenge is to do so without the shopping. Anyone else working on this?






I like having journals around — to collect prayers, notes, and odd observations. Sometimes they are filled with grocery lists. Pretty much all of them end up unfinished because I get distracted with the bright and shiny of a new journal!

New year, new paper, new start. A few I created this week as gifts for friends:

Journal for Bruce

For Bruce, who is traveling regularly to Africa, doing amazing work. I used an old almanac to include geography text on the back:

Bruce journal, back

Journal for Julene

A birthday gift with a bit of Heather Bailey flare.

Journal for Dana

For Dana, a PhD student in Forestry and birthday girl. I finally had a chance to use this patch, which I’d been holding on to for years in my sewing box:

Badge for Dana

Journal for Tina

It scratched a creative spot in my brain to use different materials — sewing cardstock, vintage trim, fabric, paint, stamps, hot glue. I’m trying to make more time to for this type of play; doing so simply makes me happier and more patient.