Autumnal Walk with Nelson

Where ever you may be in this world — may today be one of great company, food and laughter.

And now, I’m off to pour myself a glass of champagne, find a clean apron, and pull out the board games.


Kelli + the gang

Sisters In Spirit: Gratitude

Sisters in Spirit is a series of essays by a group of women who felt a spiritual perspective lacking from the steady stream of daily news.  They each agreed to carve space monthly on their blogs for a spiritual conversation.  The topic this month is … wait for it … gratitude.

Mom + Dad

I know! Gratitude. Before you jump away, your eyes rolled so far back into your “If I read ONE more ‘thankfulness’ post this month I’m going to shave off every Movember mustache and shove them into the turkey” head — this is a little different.

I’m not going to get overly sentimental and gushy; I’m going to give it to you straight, Internets.

The older I get, the more I realize 99% of my success and survival has been thanks to my parents. My folks, who met as teenagers and somehow, by the grace of God, have made it work for nearly 4 decades. I find myself in situations daily where I am using lessons they taught me. And not just, say, washing my hands after using the restroom. More like, speaking up for my views even though I’m the youngest in the room AND being ready to listen to the advice and wisdom of others present.

There wasn’t a day of my childhood when I didn’t hear, “You can do anything you want. You can be whatever you want to be. The sky is the limit.”

Mama y Papa

I thought all kids were so lucky.

So, this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for my parents Rex and Karel. They are two of the kindest and most generous people in the world. Thanks Mom and Dad for not only loving us knuckleheads, but for also loving each other. You’ve set the bar high, and my family is my greatest blessing.

{I’m I’m only a little weepy that we aren’t all together for the holidays.}

P.S. Love you too, Codeman.

Cody + Raj

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:

 Sarah is municipal attorney, mom to two boys, 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 Navy wife from the great state of Texas (where she coincidentally currently resides), and she and her husband welcomed their first child in the fall of 2012. 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 & her son, authentic friendships, traveling, making lists of all kinds, and trying new recipes which she blogs about on

Rhonda is an attorney and native of Missouri.  She is known for being overly-emotionally invested in her three, elderly dogs and dabbling in a ridiculous amount of hobbies, including sewing, music, and writing, while mastering none.  She was baptized in her late twenties and is amazed and grateful that Jesus continues to put up with her.  She blogs

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like — oh, who are we kidding?

Christmas happenings

Christmas happenings

First Christmas gift, delivered super early because friends came through town. This is my first pillow, and my first attempt at an envelope back. Needless to say, the pillow form doesn’t fit precisely (as is the case with so many of my sewing projects: almost, but not quite.) Thankfully, the pillow will settle and squish with time, and the recipients loved it.


I also found this gem at a thrift store this weekend for $7, which will be transformed into my second pillow — as soon as I can figure out how to do that:

Christmas happenings

Peonies are my favorite flowers. And I can’t believe how much work went into this, only to be abandoned. I am excited to add this to our couch, loving the look of a dozen mismatched pillows on a sofa.

If I ever opened a craft store, that is what I would call it: Imperfect + Mismatched Happiness.



Thanksgiving Day Planning


This year, I’m adding the following to our table of friends and family for Thanksgiving day celebrations (friends are bringing the bird, gravy and mashed potatoes):


Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls I like to surprise friends with the delivery first thing Thanksgiving morning. They can be picked at all day, or enjoyed first thing with a big mug of coffee. They are warm and gooey and wonderful and a great kick off to a day of excess.


The feast:

Cheese platter

Parsnip carrot soup — served in tiny glasses, to be sipped before dinner

Brussels sprout hash — because, yes. I just love these and I don’t care if I have to take the remainder of the dish home with me. YUM.

Cranberry and ginger relish from Orangette — I’ve made this in the past and it is making me drooly just thinking about it.

Sweet potato casserole, family recipe

Big, fluffy rolls. I may get adventurous and try this recipe. I may buy them.

{Fluffy roll + turkey + cranberry + sweet potato casserole = heaven. Like, I’m pretty sure that is what is served in heaven any time you want it.}

The recovery:

Ice cream, dark chocolate sampler — pie is for the birds.


This is the first year without my Grandma Max, who loved this holiday. I plan on having a bowl of giant black olives and tiny pickles on the table too, in her honor. (I wish I’d thought to ask for her pilgrim salt and pepper shakers.) Off to make a market list and pulling out dishes.

My favorite large-meal hack: the day before, I line up platters and dishes with post it notes labeling the recipe and the order for cooking, along with non-refrigerated ingredients. It helps me keep everything in order and warm when ready to be served.

What is your Thanksgiving tradition?





Henry + Winston

Henry and Winston

Henry and Winston

Glass class

We had two little visitors this weekend; Nelson was first excited, and then Winston ran off with his favorite toy. Soon thereafter, my beloved boy became a petulant teenager. He sulked around the house for three days until he could reclaim his space and his family.

I swear to you, he looked around last night realizing they weren’t in the house, jumped on the bed, and smiled wide — once again the sole center of our attention and ridiculous, over-the-top love.

Yep, he’s mine.


Glass Class

Glass class

Glass class

Glass class

Glass class

Glass class

Glass class

Glass class

Glass class

Glass class

My friend Eduarda invited me to a glass class yesterday afternoon. It was a bit like quilting, with a different medium. I loved it!  I am looking forward to seeing the final results after they are out of kiln.

The teacher had this incredible mural in her guest bathroom. I wasn’t able to get a photo, but I honestly stood in their bathroom for 15 minutes looking at it. I will sneak my camera in soon. I want to take another class to make a mezuzah. What? I know I’m not Jewish. But I think the tradition of keeping a prayer by the doorway is lovely.




I dragged myself to the Golf Fore Africa event in north Scottsdale this week. It had been a long week; I’d already taken time off of work to attend a different lunch-time event and was behind. Always behind.

Poor. Poor. Me.


I have been ass dragging for months. I entered the ballroom with 400 other women, drowning in self-doubt. I promised myself I’d find the friend who invited me, make polite conversation, and not let my tires screech upon escape. For someone who has little to no problem with public speaking, wading into a sea of socialites has always made my palms sweat.

These women were former beauty queens, retired professional athletes, local business mavens. One at my table mentioned after a dozen other accomplishments, “Oh, and I’ve been appointed several times by the President to serve on boards.”

To which I asked, with a mouth full of salad, “President president? Like THE President?”

She patted my hand and smiled, too kind to laugh.

Thankfully, in that sea, I did find a few familiar faces. Women who had served on non-profit boards, volunteered at the community garden, and others who I’d met at smaller events. I took a deep breath and tried to shake myself out of this funk.

It wasn’t until Mary Fisher took the stage that my pathetic self-pity fell away. Mary Fisher, who I watched in 1992 bravely stand before the Republican National Convention to tell the world she had HIV, and she wouldn’t be discriminated against.* Mary Fisher who went on to change public health policy on HIV, become a renowned artist and do fantastic work in Africa. Mary Fisher, who I often wondered about. Is she still alive? Is she still making waves?

Continue reading “Metamorphosis”


Thank you to all who agreed to send a care package/hygiene kit for homeless veterans. We will distribute them prior to Christmas. A couple of updates:

CAOK 2013

1. They can include whatever you would like. They can be for either sex. Items recommended include: socks, toothbrush, toothpaste and sunscreen.

2. If you are in a knitting guild, or crochet — yes! Folks would love anything warm. Again, I’ll make sure any hats, gloves, scarves are distributed.

3. Please include a return address so I can send you a thank you. Your kindness means the world!

and finally — your hygiene kit can be sent here: *


c/o Kelli Donley

150 N. 18th Ave. Suite 200

Phoenix, AZ 85007


Thank you!


*No good deed goes unpunished. Apologies to anyone who received a bad address prior via email. Very sorry!

Soup Season

Soup season is back!

Soup season is back!

Soup season is back!

Soup season is back!

Soup season is back!

My grandmother has (had) a freezer full of Schwann’s food she will not eat; cuts of meat, frozen vegetables, chocolate pies. This was Leonard’s food, but he isn’t going to enjoy digest these meats from heaven. So, we have been. Little by little at each weekly visit, I bring home another box of frozen food. Our freezer, by comparison, is much smaller.

This weekend was the last haul and it included a 1.5 pound bag of frozen peas. I had a rotisserie chicken in the fridge that wasn’t going to be eaten in time, and a full, glorious day off yesterday to goof off around the house. The result: lots of homemade chicken stock and a huge pot of chicken and pea soup.

Never mind it is still 90 degrees here, and we literally turned on the air conditioning to eat our soup dinner in comfort last night: I officially declare it soup season!

Also, sadly after a brush with a burner, we will need a new immersion blender. Plastic gets melty so fast! Jeez.

Soup season is back!


The Streets of Phoenix

Murals of Phoenix

Since leaving Phoenix in 2011, there has a been a wave if new central city murals painted. Some of these may just be new to me, but oh — they are glorious. I am hoping to catalog a few of them as I get reacquainted with my hometown.

I enjoyed a similar project two years ago when I was trying to find my way in Denver.