For Banda

My friends Bill and Amanda will be married later this year. I adore this couple. Bill is by far the smartest person I’ve ever met; our group has a running joke about the ONE TIME someone was able to show him his encyclopedic memory was wrong. And Amanda has as sweet, gentle kindness that almost seems fake. She’s that nice.


We were recently out for breakfast. The waitress brought Amanda’s quesadilla and she looked at us like a kid at Christmas.

“Guys! How awesome is this?” Smiling ear to ear, we all looked at her tortilla and eggs, wondering if she saw a magical unicorn trotting by we were missing. “It looks so good!”

It was, simply, the best breakfast she’d ever had. She’s that excited about life. Her world view is rather refreshing.

So, when Bill and Amanda got engaged, I threw myself in the middle of their plans saying I’d make the chuppah. Of course I’d make the chuppah. I’ve made so many others before (zero) and totally know what is involved (not at all.) Fast forward six months and my mother’s visit to Denver, when my chuppah inspiration and pile of fabrics magically transformed (my mother travels via Unicorn. And damn, can that horse quilt.)

Bill + Amanda's Chuppah

Bill + Amanda's Chuppah

Bill + Amanda's Chuppah

The entire photo set can be seen here. This baby was created over 3 weeks, with 32 leaves (the bride’s lucky number), and handful of tiny silk and pearl flowers, some embroidery thread, and two pieces of fabric the bride’s mother sent me to incorporate in the project. A chuppah represents the home the couple will build together; my mother had the artistic sense to arrange these two pieces of fabric on the back to represent a home.

Bill + Amanda's Chuppah

See that amazing quilting? The leaves? All my mama.

Bill + Amanda's Chuppah

Bill + Amanda's Chuppah

I’m thrilled to hand it off to Banda (yeah, they created their own contraction) and to attend their lovely ceremony next month.

Also? Thanks Mom!



Fashionistas: September

Dear Kara,

Have you noticed this strange turn in fashion where everything is a little off? A bit wonky? Animal prints with stripes and mixed fabrics all wrapped up in one? Also: are huge stacks of bracelets in, or what?

A few of my favorite looks from Fall lines:




Wait. What’s that you say? It’s pretty much the same outfit three ways? All classical. Nautical. Jackie O-ish? No weird mixes of fabrics?

Well, let me shake it up. How fantastic is this?

RrrNYFW 3 038

I LOVE HER. Her name is Blair. And she mixes and matches the same pieces in varying ways to make her wardrobe look like something both Audrey Hepburn and Lady Gaga would chase after.

Yeah. She’s that good.

I am also loving Dooce’s cousin and regular fashionista, Cami. Some of her outfits are way more my style than others. All the same: I appreciate her courage and creativity.

Our challenge this month: copy a cute outfit we liked. Donezo.

Fashionistas September

Fashionistas September

That is about as fierce as I get without a feather mini skirt.

I am not shopping this season. But if I were to splurge on a few new fabulous items:

Shoes: amazeballs To be worn with tights and skirts and amazing scarves as it starts to get chilly.

Bag: oh, I’d rock this hard

Dress: because, yes.

And you — Miss Young Fashionista, thang? What are you rocking this season?



Recipe: Best Soup Ever

Potato poblano soup

Stop what you are doing right now and figure out how you can make time to create a culinary masterpiece. That’s right. Throw humility out the window, hit the market and buy:


3 large carrots

3 stalks celery

1 large yellow onion

2 vegetable broth boullion cubes

1 large golden yukon potato for each person being served

As many roasted Hatch or poblano chiles as you can find (I’d go with 4-5)

1 small container of cream cheese

Potato poblano soup

Now, if you’ve got all day to smell a lovely pot of magic bubbling on the stove, take this slow. (If not — it will cook in an hour or so too.) Start with a large Dutch oven. Add a dash of olive oil. Dice up your carrots, celery and onion. Let those cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Then add 64 ounces of water, along with your 2 broth cubes. Bring this mixture to a boil while washing and cutting up your potatoes and chiles. The size doesn’t really matter — you are going to blend this soup to perfection. Add the potatoes and chiles, let simmer with the lid on for 30-45 minutes. Again, let it go all day if you have the time. About 20 minutes before serving, add a dash of salt, pepper and cumin. Then throw in your cream cheese and bust out the immersion blender. Carefully as to not send potato soup all over yourself — ahem — blend that pot of gold glory into the yummiest soup you’ve ever eaten.

Potato poblano soup

And oh, it’s vegetarian. And possibly vegan if you leave out the cream cheese, but why would you do that?

The Best Soup Ever is even better the next day, reheated. Get after it, people. You’ll be thankful you did.


Spirit Sisters: that Booming Voice

Sisters in Spirit is a series of blog posts by a group of women who felt that a spiritual perspective was lacking from the steady stream of news and information that flowed through their daily lives.  They each agreed to carve out a space on their blogs on a monthly basis for a spiritual conversation.  The topic this month is: why is the Holy Spirit important?

Spirit Sisters

 Sometimes when I tell people I am a Christian, an active “religious, spiritual girl,” they wince as if I’ve insulted my own intelligence with the admission. A few have brazenly asked, “Do you hear voices?”


“You know. Like ‘burning bush’ stuff.”

“Uh, no. Do you?”

It is my immature Biblical understanding that prior to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a veil – metaphorical and perhaps literal – stood between the average people of the world and those allowed within the sacred space of the temple. When the stones were removed from Jesus’ grave to reveal He had indeed risen on the third day as promised, that veil was lifted allowing everyone direct access to God. You no longer had to be a smart Jewish old dude to get to speak to God directly.

This is when the game changed for Christians. Behind that veil wasn’t the Wizard of Oz but the power of three: the holy trinity. Father, Son and Holy Ghost. God was fairly done communicating directly to His people. No more burning bushes, booming voices from the heavens, stone tablets with directives. Instead, he sent Paul forward to introduce the Holy Spirit to believers. In Acts, Luke writes how Paul explained again and again about the Holy Spirit. If you took time to listen to intuition, your gut, the wind – whatever you want to call it – God would guide you.

This verse has always said it best for me.

Psalm 46:10

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.”

I have a very difficult time being still until the moment I fall asleep. I wiggle. I multitask. (Right now I am cooking soup, listening to opera, watching the dogs run in and out, watering the garden and oh – writing.) I make to do lists to cross things off, enjoying every second of productivity. That “be still” thing is a challenge – where I am pushed to be a better person.

I can find calm in nature and through exercise. After a hard hike, I sit on a rock and stare mindlessly simply listening to my heart pound. Sometimes it is after a hilly run when I stick my head between my legs to recover. Or perhaps in the swimming pool after the last exhausting lap. In these moments when I’m forced to remain still, I discover clarity. Solutions appear. I find guidance.

I cannot explain the delight or honor of that moment. It simply feels like the Holy Spirit is wandering near, providing love and a way.  And I’m not alone. This book and Pew Research found some 26% of Americans have heard God speak.

Have you experienced the Holy Spirit? How so? Were you comfortable sharing the experience with others?

It is in the silence I am able hear. It is with grace, He is exalted.


Love for all,



I hope you continue this conversation by reading and commenting other perspectives on Christianity with my other Sisters in Spirit. Become part of the conversation:


Rebekah is a blogger, amateur photographer, and missions volunteer with Adventures in Missions. A lifetime of being a pastor’s kid, attending church regularly, and a private Christian school education gave her a lot of knowledge about the nuances of theology without a lot of faith. Now she’s trying to figure out how faith and theology applies to her relationships and daily life. You can find her online at  (on leave at the moment)


Sarah is municipal attorney, mom to a toddler boy, and United Methodist’s pastor’s wife.  (She does not play the organ.)  She is a life-long Missouri girl with a heart for hospitality and social justice.  Sarah enjoys cooking, running, knitting and embroidery, reading, and playing in the sprinkler.  Sarah blogs at 


Bianca is a newlywed Navy wife from the great state of Texas (where she coincidentally currently resides), and she and her husband are expecting their first child in late summer. She has a passion for serving others, asking hard questions and sharing The Gospel with both her words and actions. Bianca loves Jesus, her hubs, authentic friendships, traveling, making lists of all kinds, and trying new recipes which she blogs about on  (on leave at the moment)


Fabric by Fabric Sew Along: September

September: Camera Case Sewing Project

Guess what? A pattern I LOVE from this book. And not just because my friend Sue is the genius behind the design. This fleece SLR camera case? Easy to sew, great results and customizable. If you haven’t yet joined the sew along for this month, get going. It’s worth the $8 for a yard of fleece and you’ll love the results.

September: Camera Case Sewing Project

September: Camera Case Sewing Project


Flickr pool:

Deadline to win: September 30th

September: Camera Case Sewing Project

Perfect timing for someone’s birthday today, who also LOVES to take photos:

USA Pro Cycling Challenge



*Neighbor Update*

I never expected to receive so many email from my last post. Many of you are either currently in domestic violence situations, or have barely escaped — with an fragile tale to tell. Others shared their shame of listening to folks go at it through paper thin walls, unsure of what to do.

Let’s be clear: I’m not sure of what to do either. It’s easy to be a big mouth behind a blog, but actually walking up to my neighbor’s door is terrifying.

And yet there is progress. Thanks to neighborly help, we’ve determined his address. I spent a good chunk of the weekend outside listening, waiting to hear him get started.

He didn’t.

And so, I’ll wait. And promise to do what I can to help the woman in that home. Thank you for your encouragement, and know my prayers and love are with those of you perhaps also wishing a nosey neighbor would get involved.



Before the Windows Close

Dear Mr. Screamy,

You live on my street. My office window must face one of yours. My early evenings are often ruined by your booming, violent voice.

I’m not sure exactly where you live, or I would have called the police by now. You’re somewhere just over there, through that cluster of trees, in one of the duplexes — I think.

I walk by the house I think you live in during the day when I’m sure you’re not there, and I do so very slowly. Who is she? What in the world have you done to her so that she’ll stay through your nightly tirades of abuse? Who was she? What could she possibly have done to warrant the words that so easily flow off your wicked tongue?

It’s worse on Sundays when the Broncos play. We can all hear you cheering and jeering your television. You do so with the bravado of a kindergarten student in the talent show who just can’t get enough attention from his mommy.

Look here! Look at me! Look how great I am!

I am looking at you, you petty, insecure thug.  If you continue to speak to your girlfriend/wife/sister that way — I will find you. I will rally the other neighbors and we will see at a minimum the police get in your house, write you a ticket for being a dickhead and make sure whomever you’ve decided to use as your verbal punching bag knows there are other options.

I promise to do this before the windows close to the cold in a few weeks. We’re listening.





Big Mama was in town last week. And because I am the spoiled only daughter, she brought me a beautiful new quilt:

New quilt

One of the many talents I wish my mother had passed along is her patience. She has patience for her patience. Her quilts take so much precision and time, and yet she’s like a machine. You wouldn’t believe how many of these she makes each year.

New quilt

Spring colors and I don’t care — it’s on my bed. And it looks gorgeous with the other shabby chic elements of my bedroom. Look at that quilting! Those swirlies are just so perfect!

New quilt

Pretty, right? I am so lucky.

New quilt

Of course it came with a Nelson tag. Thanks Big Mama!*



*Yeah. I’m not terribly fond of that nickname either, but she’s certain she’ll never be called “grandma.” So she’s trying this one out, hoping we’ll get used to it by the time little ones show up. I think my brother and I are playing along for the time being because it is simply so ridiculous. It’s also pretty funny to be at the market and call out, “Hey Big Mama, you want some coffee?”

On Writing: Persistence

What's at the end of your rainbow?

I have had several inquiries from friends and family in the last month.

“So, is this next book ever going to be done?”

Yes, but not quickly. Or easily. Novel #2 was 60% completed when I realized the perspective was wonky. This is one of several growth points taken from “Under the Same Moon.”  I am rewriting, chapter by chapter.

You know — when you practice, you get better. Novel #2 will be stronger than novel #1 — but this requires buckets of humbling work. I’m taking classes, reading books and editing. (Nothing is so painful as cutting away pages you think are clever, but recognize as unnecessary.)

One of the classes I’m taking includes reading short stories of well-known authors. This week we read Amy Bloom’s, “A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You.”

She writes, “Sophisticated readers understand that writers work out their anger, their conflicts, their endless grief and rolling list of loss, through their stories. That however mean-spirited or diabolical, it’s only a story. That the darkness in the soul is shaped into type and lies there, brooding and inert, black on the page, and active, dangerous, only in the reader’s mind. Actually harmless. I am not harmless.”

I started writing Novel #2 in 2008 when I was newly running a non-profit for the first time and dating difficult man. Several of the themes from the story come from that period of my life — which was severely lacking in grace. The last four years have provided space from that painful time; I have to dig deep to get to the emotions that were once written across my face. This is fantastic for today’s happiness, my current relationship, etc. — and difficult for writing. You’ve got to relive the anger, conflict and grief that inspired the story. Similarly, the disappointments of working in Mozambique inspired novel #1.

I’d guess most writers use their art as therapy; God knows many of the writers in my varied writing groups are rehashing previous life experiences under the guise of fiction.

To be clear: that is not what I’m doing with Novel #2. But, life is the best source of material. Any author who tells you otherwise is a liar. Real life folks inspire characters. Horrible news clips give creative plot points. Trying emotional times provide the necessary drama to get a story moving.

What's at the end of your rainbow?

One quote in particular rang true at the end of the piece:

“I have made the best and happiest ending that I can in this world, made it out of the flax and netting and leftover trim of someone else’s life, I know, but made it to keep the innocent safe and the guilty punished, and I have made it as the world should be and not as I have found it.”

That’s the joy of writing — making the world as it should be, not as I found it.

The goal is to have Novel #2 ready for final edits by December 31st. To make that happen, I’ve got quite a bit of re-writing to do. Thank you for all of your kind words and encouragement.

That pot of gold? The very best novel I could have written. Not grimacing when someone says they purchased my book. A series of signings where I hand a copy of this story to those same friends and family knowing this time they won’t be returned with editing remarks.

Back to work,