Hey Arizona friends: want to spend a Saturday together crafting it up? Well, what are you doing Saturday, August 8th?
Craft Camp is happening at TechShop Chandler; the day includes workshops, panels about art and information on how to turn your craft into a business.
I’m on the 11:15 panel with Kitty Carlisle and Stephanie Liebold — both of whom I admire and am so excited to hang out with. We’ll be talking about craft blogging — what’s worked and what hasn’t. I’m excited to take a couple workshops, meet more like-minded lovers of pom poms, ric rac and 40% off JoAnn’s coupons, and spend the day learning.
So grab the mosquito spray, your project bag and let’s go to Craft Camp!
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- Arizona, Domestic Art
I am participating in a local envelope exchange, hosted by my friend Danna. It has been far too long since I’ve played along in any sort of craft-along — and this felt great. It was also the impetus to get the craft stuff unpacked and sorted and while the craft/office/crap room isn’t entirely sorted — I was able to sew and stamp and do what I needed to complete this project. I used an old Arizona Highways photography book of Arizona scenery and an envelope template to make mine. Each pouch included pens, pencils, stamps and a note.
I have no idea what I’ll be receiving in return, but it will be fun to watch for the postman!
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- Arizona, Domestic Art, Swap
Some friends are opening a restaurant in a Phoenix hotel. They were selected in a big contest and it couldn’t have gone to a nicer pair. I see them infrequently, but we follow each other online. When we do get together, we’re fortunate to pick right back up where we left off.
Joel asked me if I’d cross stitch this pattern for his wife Lara. She is a cheese monger. (And yes, that is one of the delightful reasons it is so nice to see them. They seem to always bring great cheese along!)
So, here I am. Squinting at this pattern and trying my hardest to get more than a few rows in before my eyes are exhausted. It is fun to pick this back up, and remarkable how universal most crafting patterns are. If you can read a knitting pattern, you can cross stitch.
Of course now I have a dozen other cross stitch project ideas in mind. And of course I’d find a hobby that is even more time intensive than knitting.
Praise the summer heat and lots of couch time!
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- Domestic Art
The plate wall is up. I appreciate that it is a little wonky and full of trees. The green jadeite platter is my favorite, and I’m happy to showcase it. I used these plate hangers after a good bit of research and they are absolutely worth the expense. They worked like a charm!
The linen closet is sorted and it makes me smile to see this odd collection of vintage sheets in their new home.
I really am loving turning this place into our home! This week: selling a few pieces of extra furniture, putting together the dining room table, setting up the sewing/craft room and hosting some girlfriends for my first happy hour.
Nelson and I have found our new three-mile walking path. It is just long enough for him to need a nap on the cool tile when we return and for me to catch up on just enough world news. Once it cools, we’ll hit the nearby trails for morning adventures. For now, we watch the heavy gray afternoon clouds come over the Superstitions and pray for just enough rain to water the garden and break the heat, but nothing strong enough to damage the giant backyard mesquite.
We soldier on, trying not to complain too much about this heat. (And I’m plotting a quick beach getaway.)
This life is so much better than just enough. My heart is full and very happy!
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- Arizona, Happy Hippie, Heirloom Hacienda
A friend’s daughter mentioned that, “ALL SHE WANTED TO DO IN LIFE WAS TO RIDE A HORSE AND BE AROUND HORSES.” So, being the auntie who loves to spoil the little ones in my life, I started researching taking her for a lesson. Kerivan Farms in Gilbert was recommended and I cannot speak highly enough of the owner, Alison. She is great with kids, fairly priced and has this incredibly perky morning demeanor that I could never muster. Especially in 100 degree heat. With children. And giant animals.
The morning was great. K had fun and I had a blast catching up with her mom and taking photos of all the animals, including Louie — the smiling horse:
When it cools off, I hope to return. I’d love to take a couple lessons. Or go on a desert horseback ride.
We met a 12 year old girl who boards a horse there and was at the stable for a morning ride. I mentioned to her mom that I finally met the one girl who got a pony for Christmas and she smiled. I couldn’t tell who was happier: the girl on her horse, or her mom for having made that dream come to pass.
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I’ve been lax in writing about what I’ve been reading lately. There have been some great books I’d like to discuss:
1. Ahab’s Wife. Let me just get this off my chest right now: I’ve never read Moby Dick. I KNOW. I have ordered a copy and plan on reading it later this summer. In the meantime, I got swept away in the book, Ahab’s Wife — a creative look at what the captain of the Pequod’s wife experienced both when he was briefly in harbor, and mostly far away hunting his nemesis — Moby. It is a long, beautiful story that weaves in real life characters who would have been near Nantucket during the same time. It is not an easy read, and it took me more than three months. I would read 50 pages and then put it down for a week, digesting it like a heavy meal. I was also savoring it, though. Naslund caught and kept my attention for three months — there is something to be said for that. 3.5 bananas, absoloodle.
2. Etta and Otto and Russell and James. This book was like an ice cream cone on a hot summer day. I picked it up and didn’t want to put it down, it was so delightfully entertaining. It’s what I call a “stop light book.” I would drive with the book across my lap, catching another paragraph when at a red light during my commute. A delightful and fun read about a Canadian senior who decides she wants to see the sea before she dies. She leaves her house on foot and walks the thousands of miles to the ocean. Otto and Russell’s stories come to light as they miss her. James — well, I’ll let you read it to see who James is. The story is told creatively in flashbacks to childhood, paired with the aging and perhaps demented memories of current day. I loved this story. 4 bananas, absoloodle.
3. The Orchardist. I also heard of this book from NPR’s favorite librarian — Nancy Pearl. Both this novel and Etta were on her summer reading picks. I found them when we were visiting Bainbridge Island earlier this summer and am so glad I listened to that segment. The Orchardist is a tricky read — with very little dialogue. However, I am not sure I’ve read better character development, other than that of Harry Potter. Two pregnant young women wander into an orchardist’s field while he is tending to his apricots and apples. He decides to help them, which sets their lives on a perilous and twisting path. This is also a great story, and a debut novel by a 31-year-old writing phenom: Amanda Coplin. 3.5 bananas, absoloodle.
I’m currently reading Anne Patchett’s State of Wonder; Patchett can do little wrong in my book. I hold her close to Kingsolver and Garcia Marquez in my heart. Her book Truth and Beauty remains one of my favorites of all time, and who didn’t cry while reading Bel Canto? This woman knows how to tell a story. Next up: All the Light We Cannot See.
On the writing front, I’m happy to have found a new writing group. I’ve been newly encouraged to get back to the third novel, a murder mystery set in Colorado. I’m reading books differently these days. From the font to the story arc, I’m enjoying reading to see how others craft their art. I’d like to write a mystery as gripping as Gone Girl and as enchanting as Ahab’s Wife.
Shoot for the stars, they say!
Happy reading, friends.
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- Media, Writing
The trip started so peacefully. We’d traveled from Phoenix to Seligman, Arizona — maybe you’ve seen Cars — and stayed in a clean, simple motor lodge for the night. We rose early (2:30) and drove the 90 miles to this view. We parked, unloaded the bags we’d send down by mule train, and hoisted on our packs. We had 10 miles ahead of us, mostly in a slot canyon, to reach Supai Falls.
The hike down went as planned. It was hot by the time we’d reached the campground next to the falls at 10 am. We had hours to wait for the mules, carrying our tents. So, we changed to bathing suits and jumped in the ice cold pools. I swam with the kids for a couple hours, only exiting to nap in the hammock with a good book.
Soon, our tents were up and dinner was warm. Even though I’d planned ahead and frozen meals for the trip, I didn’t plan well for spoilage. Ice leaked into the food container ruining ten meals. We scrambled to our packs, gathering the trail mix and granola bars we had to plan out the next few days. Others in our group shared with us too; we ate two meals during the next 56 hours, supplementing with handfuls of cashews and peanut M+Ms.
The temperature was around 100. If you were at the campground, you wanted to stay in the shade. Sleeping was a sweaty endeavor; thankfully we were all so tired from the hike, we collapsed the first night, rousing only to hold our breath during a spectacular monsoon thunderstorm crashing down around us.
The next day, we hiked on further to Mooney Falls. I didn’t climb down to the falls this time; the height and lack of ladder made my anxiety jump into my throat. I was fine climbing through the caves on the descent, but once I got a bit down the first section of chain link hand holds, I gulped and climbed back up to the edge. It was too much for me, and I’m sorry I couldn’t summon more courage.
See that path there? Straight down, holding those chains? About 70 feet. Gulp.
Instead, we returned to the previous set of falls and continued to swim the day away. We played cards, napped, read and had a blast. There were a few scrapes and bruises from going over small falls too quickly — but otherwise everyone was in good spirits. We’d just finished preparing dinner when a Havasupai park ranger on a horse came through camp, going tent to tent:
“Pack up. There are flash floods. Everyone must evacuate to the village.”
We were all still in bathing suits, enjoying the cool while it lasted. We scrambled into hiking clothes and boots, packing up tents and gear as quickly as possible. The mess kits were stowed away dirty, no time to wash. We left our bags in a pack in the mule corral and once again slung our hiking packs over our shoulders, headed the two miles to the village. When we arrived, there was space on a tile floor in a community center where they wanted everyone from the campsite to spend the night. We thought we’d try our luck and instead continue on.
We should have listened. We got a mile or so further down the path only to see rushing water and had to quickly turn around and head back to the community center. We slept a couple hours (again, the perk of exhaustion) on the floor, rousing a bit after midnight to try the hike again. Mercifully, the water had receded and we were able to carefully pick our way across what remained of the water and mud to get back to the slot canyon.
Under a full moon, we hiked all night back to the car, arriving at 4:30 am. We slept until the car became too hot. An Indian woman sold cold sodas and watermelon in the parking lot. I ate like I’d never seen food before. By noon, the mules did miraculously arrive and we were on our way home.
The swimming made the trip worthwhile, but I’m still catching up on sleep and calories. And I’ve said more than once, loudly, that our next vacation will include: a cabana, a view, massage, tequila and guacamole on everything.
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