Merry and Bright!

Happy Christmas and 2016!

Wishing you and your family the best in 2016! I hope your holidays are full of great food, time with those you love, and peace.

See you in the New Year.




It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chaos…

Nelson and Voo

We are busy making our lists and checking them twice. Literally. There are so many lists this time of year. My current lunch-break list includes “find Christmas jammies, get priority boxes from post office, pick up more rice, buy flowers.”

It is a chaotic, joyful time when I can’t post what I’m making, or I’ll ruin the surprise. So, how about another photo of adorable Nelson?

Nelson and Voo

I never thought a creature whose breath smells like sewage and seems to delight in farting on me, could grab my heart the way this muppet has.

(Thanks to Uncle Sagar for these recent photos. That gorgeous Bernese is his dog, Voo.)

Happy holiday prep, all!



Let Me Count The Ways

Baby Quilt for Nonnie

Some family friends recently opened their home to a foster baby, just a few days old. They have welcomed this child into their family fully — loving her with all their hearts. I made this baby quilt for that child, whose future custody is uncertain but may she always know she was loved. By many. By those who haven’t even met her.

Baby Quilt for Nonnie

Baby Quilt for Nonnie

Nonnie, your future is bright!


Auntie Kelli

Shark Attack!

Hats for the boys

Two littles, climbing out of the hot tub on Thanksgiving afternoon, standing in the living room dripping wet with a shark and soccer cap on their heads. What could be more normal?

Nothing could be cuter. Love these two! And they loved their new caps. (Roscoe is a shark expert. He’ll have to grow into this one!)

Hats for the boys

Hats for the boys

Hats for the boys

I hope your Thanksgiving was spent with ones you love!



The Inconvenience of Kindness

French Apple Cake

What a place we’ve made of this world. In the last week, we’ve seen Paris attacked by terrorists. Beirut, too. There have been countless other tragedies, including a handful in Africa that resulted in similarly unnecessary deaths, but without the same attention.

Don’t you care about the people who don’t look like you? 

You’re racists for using that French profile on Facebook. What about all the others suffering?

Oh, how quick we are to lash out at others — even in how we are grieving. There is no grievance police.

Fast forward a few days, and the debate currently underway in my social sphere is whether or not to ban refugees from coming into our communities.

They’re ISIS. We can’t know who they really are!

We don’t have the resources.

We don’t take good enough care of our own!

I don’t have any answers to the many hard questions we are facing as a specie. I do not understand how a person could be so angered they would want to kill another. What I do know is our community is fractured. Until we figure out how to have civil discourse about the things we disagree upon, we’re no better than cave men throwing stones at each other. Sure, the proverbial stones today may be snide remarks on social media — but the lack of discourse is precisely the same.

I do not agree that more war will produce peace, but I’m willing to listen to those who support further military action. I do not agree that restricting refugees will result in less safe communities, but I’ll hear you out. I do not agree that the world has to be a place of us vs. them.

It’s just us.

This week, let’s live our lives following the old hippie bumper sticker motto: think globally, act locally. Make your community stronger by being inconvenienced with kindness. Meet your neighbors. Donate blood. Pick up trash. Help someone who is not deserving of your help, and do it with a smile.

I cannot solve the issue of international terrorism, but I sure as hell can make sure the old lady who lives next door to me is getting enough to eat. I can make sure the kids in my home hear every day that they are smart and can accomplish whatever they want in life. I can ask more questions and try to hear a person’s story before blindly passing judgment.

It’s just us.

We can take better care of our own, we can provide refuge to those escaping persecution and we can live in a peaceful world, but we have to get there together.




Chapter 15: Happily

Heart o' PB

Our first date was nearly two years ago. He surprises me regularly with his thoughtfulness and ability to make me laugh — especially at myself. (His patience is demonstrated in laughing with me, for example, at the previous 14 chapters.)

Two teenagers, three dogs, one bunny and us: the happy little family I’ve dreamed of.

Our story continues!



Chapter 14: Brunch Weather

Nacho who?

T asked me to have lunch with him the next week. It was a Monday and he was doing that “I might have something better” type of communication via text that makes me bubble with anger. Either make plans, or don’t. But stringing someone along until the last moment to see what your other options are is rude in every case.

I needed to eat regardless and figured if he didn’t show, I’d sit outside, enjoy the weather and read a book. It wouldn’t be the first lunch I’d spent holding a fork with one hand and a paperback with the other. T did show, late, and when he sat down it looked like he’d been in a boxing match. All of the small veins on his cheeks were purple and broken.

“Uh, what happened to you?”

“Oh, why?” He tried smiling.

I got a sick feeling in my stomach, and was thankful it was daylight and we were in public. “Why? Because your face is bruised and you look like you’ve been mugged.”

“Oh, that. I didn’t realize it was so noticeable, I guess.” He shrugged. “I was in Mexico this weekend. It was a rough weekend. You know how Mexico goes…”

Yes, I do remember Mexico, from early college years. Not from my mid-40s. I stared and him, waiting for more of a story. There would eventually be a long tale about mouthing off to the wrong police officer, having to pay a bribe and having his wallet stolen.

Obviously, this was the man of my dreams.

It was also apparent that he could not sit still. He was twitchy and nervous and nothing like the man I remembered dancing with. It was more than a bad weekend; I suspected he had, let’s say, a chemical dependence. An illegal one.

I cut lunch short and went back to my desk chalking the date up to yet another odd story. If nothing else, T made me feel good in a blue moment the first time we met. That was enough. My sails were full and I knew I did not want to see him again. As dating goes, as soon as I made this (wise) decision, he wouldn’t relent. He called asking me to see him again. Finally, I agreed to have him over to a brunch at my house — 100% sure he would not show up. I told him it would be a group of my friends, we were potluck brunching, he could come and to bring something to share.

He didn’t show up, but guess who did?

His head poked over the patio wall about an hour after we’d started eating. We were giggling and enjoying the warm spring sun on our legs when I heard a voice.



And there was the man who’d spent the evening talking to Meghann. Jason and the bright blue eyes.


We greeted awkwardly. I had not invited him, there was no sign of T, and I had zero interest in explaining what was happening to my guests. He smiled, grabbed a plate of food and sat down next to me. For the next three hours, the conversation and laughter continued. Eventually my guests started saying their goodbyes as we were in the kitchen washing dishes. Jason said his goodbyes too and we shook hands.

My friends Mike and Samantha were helping put food away. As soon as Jason was out of the house, Mike turned to me:

“What the hell is going on here? Why did that rando show up for brunch when he obviously doesn’t know you? Are you giving out your address to strangers?”

I sighed. And as I started to explain, Jason walked back into the house.

“I know it was T who was supposed to show and he didn’t, but I would never forgive myself if I didn’t get your number. Can I have your number?”

Mike and Sam both stood with their hands on their hips, staring with open jaws.

I blushed.


This was weird, for sure. But weirder than the previous 13 chapters? I was doubtful.

“Yes.” I smiled.


Chapter 13: The Circle Closes

Southern California

Don’t you hate it when old adages are true? When cliche applies to your life?

I do.

It was annoyingly humorous I’d meet Jason “when I wasn’t looking.” Speaking of cliches, if I had a dollar for every time someone said, “Just stop looking” when I’d complain about dating, I’d be Donald Trump. (Phew.)

It was a Sunday night. My friend Sue had come to visit from California and we’d spent the weekend lounging and catching up. My childhood friend Meghann was also in town. I took Monday off so I could drive out to Meg’s family’s house and have dinner with her, her mother and her sister in law.

Something worth noting about Meg’s family: the matriarch, Shanlee, is a force. She is a heart transplant recipient and is a generous, caring, passionate woman who loves me like I am actually her kid. As such, she does not spare in the advice department. Before we left for dinner, over our first glass of wine, she was giving me “the honest truth” about my previous relationship and how I needed to recognize my self worth or I’d never find happiness. I cried — because she was right, and I didn’t want to hear it.

She cuts to the chase. A heart transplant will do that to you. I love her for it.

We went to dinner at a local restaurant and staked out a table on the patio. I hadn’t seen Meg in months and we could talk the paint off walls. Before long, we’d been there for hours and were ordering another entree for us all to share because we still had more to say, and perhaps a bit of sobering up to do before we went back to the family house for a giant slumber party on the living room floor.  The sky had grown dark while a lone guitarist set up at one end of the patio, playing covers of songs everyone knew but no one wanted to sing along to. There were maybe a dozen people on the patio when we ordered a batch of sober fish and chips.

I’d just taken the first greasy bite of cod when Meg elbowed me with the grace and subtly of a drunk elephant.

“That dude is waving at you.” She hissed.

“What dude?” I wiped the grease from the corners of my mouth.

“THAT ONE.” She said it loud enough that he also heard her from the next table over. I looked over her shoulder to see three men, each sitting with a glass of wine. A good looking graying blond man named T waved a wave that said, “Yep. Hi. Your friend is drunk, right?”

I ducked back and looked at her hard. “There is no, no way that man is looking at me.” I laughed. I had no make up on. My hair was in a dirty pile on top of my head and I was wearing jeans and a tank. It was perfect for a night out with girlfriends but far from having any man approach me unless it was a dare. I also could not have been less interested in dating. I’d been in a horrible relationship for the year prior and really just wanted a break.


(In fairness, I was equally inebriated. We’d been there a long time and we were having a fun night out when I would not be driving.)

And then there he was, standing next to me, asking me to dance.

“Dance? But there is no one dancing…” I was awkwardly shaking his hand while saying this and hoping there wasn’t any ketchup on my face.

“That’s okay. We can start the trend.”

By the time we got back to the table, having slow danced in front of five retirees on a patio in east Mesa to a single guitarist who could not believe her groupie luck, the other two men had joined the table.

Meg was talking to good looking man with bright blue eyes. His name was Jason, and he thought she was single.





Chapter 12: Chocolate Cake


Mexican Cake

D and I met online. On our first date, we sat at a Starbucks in Scottsdale over a busy lunch hour chatting like gossipy high school girls about Rhianna. Her photos of being beaten by Chris Brown had just been released that morning and we had both seen them. I was sick to my stomach for her.

It was weird first date chit chat, but it is what I remember us discussing. He was blond, my height, handsome and built like an Irish boxer — albeit a retired one. He was many things: an attorney, a Yankees fan, a frat boy who went to school in Texas, a man who’d lived and worked internationally, a brother, and a lover of my chocolate cake. (That may or may not be a metaphor.)

We’d spend time together off and on during the next couple of years — more off than on. He was the one I couldn’t wash out of my hair. Even though I knew I loved him more, or maybe because I loved him more, we circled each other for far too long. (I was Alan.)

Let’s talk about that sickening feeling of loving someone more than they love you. It is the worst. THE WORST. There is no righting the ship. Once you realize you want more from the person than they want from you, you’re stuck. In my case, this always headed to heartache. And in my case, I always had some ridiculous fairy tale belief that it was going to turn around this time. It didn’t. Yet, that’s what makes finding the right balance of love that much more magical. When you can both be equally vulnerable, open and excited about the possibility of love, it blossoms.

At one point, D was seeing a woman in another state, but still keeping tabs on me. I finally wrote an extensive (and certainly embarrassing in hindsight) love letter telling him it was now or never. Pick me.

He picked her.

I moved on. Specifically, I moved to Colorado. The geographic distance helped my heart heal, and today — D has a family and a dog and is doing well, which makes me very happy.


About that chocolate cake, a recipe:

Hot Damn Chocolate Cake


  • One chocolate cake mix (I like Betty Crocker triple fudge)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 dash of nutmeg
  • 1 dash of cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup water


Mix thoroughly. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes in a well greased bundt pan. Cut yourself a slice, and be thankful for the way the crumbs have fallen.




Chapter 11: Bogie

Nice Up keep

I recently listened to Amy Poehler’s audio book, Yes, Please! As a huge fan, this didn’t disappoint. There was one section that keeps bouncing around my brain, months later: a director once asked her to confess her vulnerabilities, regrets, sorrows. The director wanted to know her biggest mistakes so they could be likely taken advantage of. Or maybe the director just wanted to flex the muscle of power and see how much information he could get.

While it may have been a temporary career setback, she told the director no. Absolutely not, no. She counseled listeners that anytime someone wants to exploit what makes your heart hurt, even for a quick laugh — or perhaps for a quick laugh — say no.

I’ve gone back and forth on whether to talk about the golfer in this memoir, namely because our story isn’t funny. It doesn’t softly poke at me and my clumsiness. Instead it smacks of heartache and disappointment. But to write about dating and to not include him would be like trying making a cake without the flour. Our relationship was pivotal. (Divotal?)

Here is what you need to know: we dated for about three years. He was a professional golfer on the small stage when we met, and on a much larger one when we broke up. During that time, we got to travel to some beautiful places — Ireland, the Bahamas, Hawaii, etc. We shared life milestones — weddings, births and deaths in our families. We walked through three fundamental years of our 20s together, holding hands and trying to do our best to manage conflicting schedules.

Life had him in Europe most of one year, and on the road most of the next. We’d go up to six weeks without seeing each other, but checking in as much as possible. While he was working furiously to create a career as a professional athlete, I was finishing my graduate degree and managing international health projects in a handful of countries. There were times we were on the same time zone on different continents.

It is likely if we had spent all of those three years in the same location, our relationship would have ended far sooner. I have nothing bad to say about this man. He was kind and generous and he loved me the best he could. He also was honest that his career was his first priority.

When someone says you will never be the priority — listen.

I didn’t want to listen. I was convinced this he was the one. So, I dug in and traveled as much as I could to be by his side. My insecurities flared. The little bit of time I spent with golfer wives and girlfriends was much like that ridiculous reality show, WAGS. Wives were at the top of the heap. Girlfriends were barely noticed. Mistresses and groupies abhorred. At thew few PGA events I attended, there were swarms of women who sadly decided their best chance at a good life was having a baby with a golfer.

Even in the best circumstance, being married to a top golfer is a tough life. Yes, financially you are set. But there is no off season for golf. Those 140 men are constantly fighting to keep their cards. So, you raise a family by yourself, watching your husband travel the world on television. And you never stop worrying about those swarms of (younger, perkier, more carefree) women who want any piece of your husband they can get.

One Christmas I came home from Mozambique to immediately fly to the Pacific Northwest to celebrate the holidays. It happened to be the same time of year he’d made it to the big leagues, and everyone wanted to celebrate. I couldn’t get my head on straight. There I was standing at dinner party after dinner party holding glasses of champagne toasting a man I loved, when a week prior I’d been holding abandoned toddlers at an orphanage. The juxtaposition left me a mess.

All that considered, when he called things off a few weeks before Christmas the following year, when the presents were already wrapped and under the tree, I was shocked. I thought we were headed toward marriage. It was a dark time that eventually led to a much healthier, happier place.

Somewhere on the back nine, crammed into designer jeans and halter tops, I’d forgotten who I was and what was important to me. Soon, Sundays meant time for church and family. I learned to cook and bake. I pulled out my dusty sewing machine and knitting needles. With less travel, I planted a garden I could tend. I finished my first novel and started the second.

It took a few more years of making questionable dating choices to return to a place of love, but I’m finally there — thankful he could see what I could not.