10 entries from the month of: January 2014

Red Rocks

January 27th

January 2014

January 2014

January 2014

January 2014

January 2014

January 2014

January 2014

 

January 2014

January 2014

January 2014

 

A view from a quick road trip to Sedona this weekend. Oh, Arizona. You are so beautiful this time of year!

~K

Posted in
Arizona, Photography, Travel
Comments (4)

Homeless Vet Outreach: THANK YOU

January 22nd

Homeless Vet Project

A few months ago, I asked for your help in organizing supplies for homeless veterans in northern Arizona. Last week, I traveled with coworkers to Cottonwood. We toured The Loft and handed off dozens of hygiene kits, hand knit beanies, tubes of chap-stick and bottles of sunscreen.

Homeless Vet Project

Homeless Vet Project

Homeless Vet Project

The volunteers who run The Loft — the only homeless outreach center in the Verde Valley — were exceptionally thankful. This handful of folks see that 20 homeless people per day can come in for a shower, to wash laundry or some new gently-used clothing, for something warm to drink, or a used book. They can also use the phone, and have a chance to get online.

Homeless Vet Project

Volunteers work with those who are interested in securing Social Security cards, birth certificates, proof of veteran status. From there, access to programs helping them move from hidden tent cities in the middle of the forest to safe, permanent supportive housing, is easier.

They have found housing for more than 50 people. And they had 3400 visits just last year with an operating budget of less than $30,000. This is as grass root community work as you are going to come by: neighbors helping those in their community in need to get a warm meal, find something new and clean to wear, and complete the necessary red tape to secure benefits.

Homeless Vet Project

Thank you for your kindness and donations. Special thanks to Adam, who worked with his business contacts to see that boxes of sunscreen and other hygiene items were given.

Homeless Vet Project

If, by off chance, you live in northern Arizona and are interested in helping The Loft, they have an on-going need for Thursday volunteers. On Thursdays, the site is closed to visitors. Volunteers are needed to sort, wash and fold donated clothing and to help keep the small facility organized and efficient. Also, they really need size 30-32 men’s pants.

Thank you again, blog friends. You are a wildly generous bunch!

With love,

Kelli

Posted in
Arizona, Community
Comments (1)

Growing Strong

January 22nd

Gardening

Gardening

Gardening

Gardening

Gardening

Gardening

 

The succulent garden continues to thrive. I am looking forward to getting tomatoes and basil in when we land in Tempe. Depending on the space, a few fruit trees may find their way to our home too.

One of the best parts of living in Phoenix: the gardening. Sure, August is tough and moss doesn’t grow in your shoes like it did in Jersey. But late winter and early spring? Plants thrive. And if you plan it well, you can preserve much of this bounty until fall crops. Now is the time to juice and zest the citrus that is bountiful in the city. Lemon zest can be frozen in olive oil in ice cube trays for later use cooking. So can any fresh herbs you’d like to keep, but don’t want to dry or make into pesto.

~K

 

 

Posted in
Arizona, Flora and Fauna, Happy Hippie
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Let’s Just Leave It Packed, Shall We?

January 21st

Oh, I’m moving again. Back to Tempe, hi ho, hi ho. As such, I am once again condensing, organizing, packing and coordinating moving stuff. For the fourth time in less than 18 months.

Organizing spices, again...

Nope. I don’t want to talk about it. Yep. I am glad I didn’t buy another address return label rubber stamp for the current joint.

And while I should be going through the boxes of art supplies stuffing the third floor closet, instead I am taking a closer look at things that really don’t make any major difference, like my spice shelves.

Organizing spices, again...

There has to be a better way. Right? Why don’t spice makers make all of their containers stackable? They know most of us store spices in this tiny shelf above the stove. Or perhaps, those of us who are 5’10 and taller do. There has to be a better way than this current nonsense.

Organizing spices, again...

Enter one of my very favorite kitchen items: the Mason jar.

(Okay, technically these are Kerr jars. They were also $8 for 12, making this new system completely practical.)

Organizing spices, again...

Organizing spices, again...

Organizing spices, again...

Organizing spices, again...

Organizing spices, again...

 

Goodbye, old containers. You will not be missed.

 

 

Organizing spices, again...

 

Although I did save a couple of the nicer glass jars, sterilized them and filled them with other items I keep with spices.

Organizing spices, again...

Organizing spices, again...

Ta-da! I know. I know. It still doesn’t look like something from the Container Store, but it did scratch my “must organize something” itch. What you can’t see is within those two boxes are alphabetized spices, with the ones we use most often in the top. And let’s be frank: the more we keep in boxes at this point, the better.

If you too find comfort in cleaning and organizing when life otherwise seems a bit topsy turvy, may I recommend my very favorite OCD blog. Yeah. Those ladies make organization an art.

~K

Posted in
Domestic Art, June Cleaver, Kitchen Talk
Comments (14)

Prayer

January 14th

Praying for peace

 

Africa is hurting. The people of Central African Republic are under siege. The folks of South Sudan are involved in a brutal, new civil war. For Zimbabwe, falling again into man-made, infuriating famine. The Second Congo war rages on, killing more people than any other conflict since WWII.

My prayers are for these people. The women who huddle under plastic tarps as the humid equatorial rain pours at night, unable to comfort their children. There is no comfort when hiding from violence. For the health care workers who may be able to stop wounds from bleeding, but cannot keep the malarial mosquitoes or dirty water away from the thousands and thousands who huddle in makeshift refugee camps. For those coordinating food and medical supply drops — may there be fewer hungry bellies on the great continent.

For the leaders — to be strong, courageous, peaceful and just.

My prayers and heart are with you, great Africa.

 

~K

Posted in
Africa, Faith
Comments (5)

Desert Living

January 13th

January 2014

 

 

This is the best smelling plant in the world. I wish they had this mesquite (I think?) as a perfume. I’d wear it every day.

This weekend on a hike, watching an early morning  dawn spread across the Valley, I was full of comfort. The light shifted, bouncing off of sky scrapers on Central Avenue, through the few remaining orchards in Arcadia, over the rolling hills of South Mountain and up the steep face of the Superstitions, through the tangles of tall palm trees on 44th street, and glimmering off the Chihuly exhibit at the Desert Botanical Gardens.

Home.

It brought me back to the many, many childhood afternoons spent swimming with my brother in our backyard, watching the clock until my dad would return from work and cannon ball into the deep end to join us. My mom would sit outside, dangling her toes in the water as my dad cooked on a charcoal grill. The smell alone of charcoal or chlorine brings me back here. We would eat in swimming suits on a plastic patio set that would leave funny horizontal lines across the backs of our legs. Depending on the time of year, because of course in Phoenix swimming isn’t just a summer sport, my mom would then either pull out Rummikub or cards for gin rummy, meaning it was summer and we could just play games, or a set of homemade index cards. The flash cards signaled September and a return to school. We’d battle through them until we’d made her happy enough, far too young to realize how smart she was for constantly pushing us to be better.

A friend said to me last week, “Doesn’t it feel good to be back in your city?” Yes. This is my city. And yes, it does, finally.

Basically what I am saying is: Arizona, you are so easy to love in January. Keep it up.

xo,

Kelli

 

Posted in
Arizona
Comments (5)

Insomnia in the Garden of Good and Evil

January 10th

Birthday girl

I’ve struggled finding sleep lately. Wide awake from midnight to 3 am is becoming the new routine. I listen as Nelson chases bunnies in his sleep from the foot of the bed. As the landscaping company meticulously blows every leaf from the Sprouts’ parking lot across the street, into the street at 1 am. As our neighbor, who is a bouncer at some Scottsdale club, returns on his Harley Davidson around 2:30 am, grinding the throttle as he parks in his garage.

With plenty of time to think, I’ve wrestled with the idea of staying on the right path in life, and how temptation is constantly present. Imagine walking down a path in the rainforest. The brush has been hacked away and bare feet of those who have traveled before you created a winding line of worn earth that leads deeper and deeper into the unknown. Light trickles down from the canopy overhead, where birds and monkeys fight to sing the loudest chorus.

If you stay on the path, you know there will eventually be an end. It is impossible to turn around, as much as you may try. The path disappears behind you. Your memories are the only trace. There are highs and lows. Vistas that take your breath away, moments of intense pleasure. And also bogs you must wade through, quicksand that suffocates with grief and hardship. Times that are hard to shake off.

But if you can just get back on the path, you know these highs and lows become easier to navigate. You’ve found and developed tools along the way. Yet the biggest challenge you face are the vines. These try to pull you off course toward bright and shiny objects of desire that seem so worth stopping to admire in the moment. But if you linger just a moment too long, the kudzu starts at your feet and slowly works upward until the shiny object is all you have. The forest has enclosed around you. The path is gone. You are forever lost. Your beloved item is no longer so shiny.

I feel the pull.

I had dinner recently with a married couple who are friends. The woman is my age and does not have a wrinkle or freckle on her truly beautiful face. I stared at her wondering if it was more than genetics. Regardless, I came home to examine the ever increasing map of an Arizona childhood playing out across my brow and began to consider what I could do to stop time. The vanity vine wound itself around my feet as I pulled here and thought about injecting that there. A patch of gray hairs continue to sprout from my crown. Gravity is doing my figure no favors.

How does she do it? So beautiful and thin and put together? Why can’t I look like that?

We stayed in another friends’ home during the holidays in Denver. They are newly married and purchased a home that is just my style. I wandered it, admiring the furniture and linens and thinking about my life — which is a bit chipped and stained and worn after so many moves in the last few years. I watched as Nelson ran outside in the beautiful yard, chasing squirrels and sticking his nose happily in mounds of snow. The vine of envy took root.

Why don’t I live in a home like this? Why haven’t I been smarter with money?

Again commuting, although mercifully a short distance, I find my patience wanes the moment I get behind the wheel. I tell others jokingly, “I’m a pacifist outside of my car.” And in that flash of stupid anger when my temper flares, I feel the vine of wrath wrapped around shaking fists.

Why am I sitting in this damn traffic?

The extra glass of wine I shouldn’t drink. The married man who winks and smirks. The snarky judgments I hurl at women. And the swears. Oh, the swears.

The vines never cease.

My strongest tool is faith. I have faith that the life I am leading is perfectly imperfect. I have faith that I will be a better person today than I was yesterday. I have faith that my Grandmother Maxine, gone one year today, is helping guide my steps through her experience.

I have faith in an all-loving, compassionate, wonderful God.

And, worst case scenario, Botox is fairly cheap in these here parts…

~K

 

Posted in
Faith
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Attention Seeking Behavior. Obviously, he’s my son.

January 9th

January 2014

Mr. Willie Nelson Mandela learned a new, terrifying trick last week. Ten minutes into an otherwise routine hike, he urinated blood. Ten minutes later, I am carrying him, hyperventilating and screaming into my cell phone with the vet’s office. Four hours, one x-ray, one ultrasound and several other tests later… it was determined he is fine. No need for alarm. He’ll be fine. Here, take home this expensive GI dog food and give him some pro-biotics.

I wanted to kiss the vet on the lips, and shake her at the same time. Dogs don’t just occasionally pee blood, right? Here is to hoping Mr. WNM has found the latest way of getting my full attention, and it is nothing more. He is acting otherwise perfectly normal, and went on an 8 mile hike yesterday with no problems.

So, paws crossed.

In other news, we have officially reached Smug Season in Phoenix:

January 2014

The weather couldn’t be more perfect for morning, mid-day or evening hiking. It is simply beautiful to live here right now, and I feel very lucky. For those still suffering from polar vortex snow and ice madness, I’m envious of your fireplace reading and cuddle time. It’s just like the movies, right?

{Feel free to taunt me come, oh, July when this same view comes with heat stroke and premature aging.}

And yes, I did select a cactus photo that looks like it is flipping the bird. Because: funny.

~K

Posted in
Arizona, Nelson
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One Community: January

January 5th

One Community is a monthly photo project in which participants photograph their homes and communities with a theme in mind. The theme varies by month. The goal is to both showcase similarities and differences in our communities worldwide – and bring us all closer together in understanding through art.

This is the link code, if you care to join us. All are welcome.

Each month, one of the hosts picks four words for us to interpret through photographs of what we see around us in our daily lives.

The Rules:  Post one or more photos interpreting the words for the month, and add your blog post to the link-up.  Please include a link back to the link-up post on your One Community post, and take a look at some of the other links and comment on them.

This month’s words, selected by Sheila are: treasure, silver, resolution and winter.

Treasure: Time with friends and family from far and wide who I had a chance to see during the last few weeks. Love these folks and wish I could keep all of them happily in the same neighborhood forever.

One community: January

Silver: A Christmas star and two people who I love most. I hope to return to Colorado sooner than later to be near my brother and his girlfriend, Jess.

One community: January

Resolution: This year, I will read more. Never mind the new Downtown Abbey season starts tonight — I want to spend more time with books and writing. These are a few books I received for Christmas.

One community: January

Winter: Oh, Golden. Clear Creek had some ice dam issue and was frozen beyond belief in December. Imagine an entire street of Golden with cars frozen to the street. This has been a winter to remember, for my friends in Colorado.

I don’t miss slipping and sliding and driving in snow. I do miss those snow days when you curled up with a heavy blanket and a crackling fireplace. Winter in Phoenix means you can go outside without a water bottle.

One community: January

~K

Posted in
Community, Photography
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Hear ye! Hear ye!

January 2nd

Beginning of the New Year public proclamation!

drinking up the sunlight

I am giving up artificial sweeteners. No more diet soda, or sugar-free anything. There is plenty of research backing up this decision, and a good bit of personal motivation too. A good friend was recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She has changed her diet and way of life dramatically since the diagnosis, and recently said she was cutting out the diet sodas too.

In solidarity, I am joining her.

And while this may seem like a simple thing, I am a Thirst Buster kinda girl. 64 ounces of pure Diet Coke love. No kidding:  I buy my sugar-free gum at Costco. (That’s a lot of gum.)

This is one of the simplest and healthiest changes I can make this year. If you see me chomping on gum or gulping down saccharine bubbly, feel free to remind me of this proclamation and my hypocrisy.

Pretty tulips

The upsides: better bones and teeth, in the long run. Not looking like a unpolished galoot when I show up to meetings with gum in my mouth. One less product to have to buy in bulk. (Bye bye, Truvia.) Throwing away those refill Circle K plastic cups in the back seat of my car.

Showing some support and love for someone when I feel helpless to do anything else. And oh – showing myself I can do it. It has been a long time since I have put my mind to something and actually completed the task to the finish line. With someone to support in the process, it will be easier.*

What are your changes for the New Year?

~K

*There is also more than a little bit of me hoping that if I can master this step, I can move on to other aspects of living a clean paleo diet that have thwarted previous attempts. One step at a time.

 

Posted in
Goals, Good to Great
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