Africa Journal

Picture Show

I treated myself to an afternoon movie yesterday at the foreign film house in Phoenix. (Yes, in a city of 3 million, we have just one theater that regularly shows foreign and independent films. Ay.)
I’d been wanting to see Tsosti for some time and was thrilled when it won the best foreign film Oscar this year. You may remember the director accepting the Oscar with a speech in several African languages, peppered with English. All things African intrigue me.
Tsotsi is the story of a young man growing up in what the viewer can only guess is Soweto. The million-plus township sits on the edge of Johannesburg. The cinematography captures the plight of the poor in these communities and their struggle with education, violence, and their roles in society. Tsotsi’s story is contrasted by that of a young baby from an affluent Black family who Tsotsi inadvertently kidnaps. I’m not giving anything away– this happens in the previews and the first five minutes of the film. Tsotsi — Swahili (I think?) for Thug — initially decides to keep the baby and raise him in his tiny metal shack in the township. Through the story, you learn more about a South Afrikaner‚Äôs perspective in surviving a parent who’s died of AIDS, in addition to a slew of other emotional twists that left me hurting for more. I fell in love in particular with the female lead who was so beautiful, caring and nurturing. I wanted to sit on her couch and have a cup of tea with her, learn more about her character, become her friend.
The movie is heartbreaking and excellent.
Five out of five bananas. Absoloodle.

Domestic Art Flora and Fauna

Gracious Gardens

yellow wildflower

I’m inviting you to a garden party at my house. All you have to do is take a couple of photos of what’s growing near your house and drop them off here.
I’d like to see plants from other countries. What’s growing in Australia this time of year, when our Aussie friends are heading into winter?
I’ll post photos in this Flickr pool as I travel this summer too. I’m always fascinated by the similarities and differences in plants around the world.
Do you have a favorite tree? Do you have a favorite bloom? (I know several of you do!) Do you ever take a walk just to notice what is growing this time of year? Take a shot and tell me why. There will be the occasional prize too. And if you want a serious case of garden envy, check out Finny’s pumpkinzilla. This girl’s got such a green thumb, plants are sprouting from her compost! Ay!
And Eva’s blooms too! So pretty.

Here are a couple of my favorite shots from a recent walk.

orange poppy center
orange lantana

From the top: wild daisies, poppies, lantana.

Happy gardening!

Domestic Art

Green + Orange = Happy Nicaragua Bag

I’ve been trying my darndest to participate in this “Use What You Have” project for April, coordinated by Sooz in Melbourne. Essentially this means not purchasing any new craft or art supplies for the month. God knows I have enough yarn and fabric to have me knitting and sewing myself silly for quite some time, but the notions have been a bit tricky. I’ve run out of certain colors of thread, zippers, buttons, etc. I’m making do, but we’re just at the beginning of the month. It should be interesting.

My first scrap knitting project is the market bag from “AlterKnits.” I plan to fill this with goodies for a family I’m visiting this summer in Nicaragua. I like the way the bag begins and ends with orange and the green stripes in the center make me smile. It is a happy, wild color combination.

scrap yarn bag before felting

This was a great way to use up a bunch of small bits of wool I had left over from other projects. I’m going to use some wood handles to finish this baby off once it is done felting.

scrap yarn bag cu

Colors gone mad!



Road Trip

Road trip!

Yesterday I was on the road again (sung to the key of Willie Nelson) for work. I headed north to Flagstaff and then took the scenic route back to Phoenix, winding my way through Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona.
It was a beautiful day.

San Francisco peaks from the road


Typical Flagstaff

Ah yes, Flagstaff. Poverty with a view, as Rolling Stone once described it. I love this little hippie town.

Road, red rocks

The red rocks of Sedona never seem to bore me. I know, I know. I keep going on about the beauty of Arizona. I’ll stop at some point. Promise.

sedona red rocks

Just not today.

Sedona red rocks2

Tell me this doesn’t remind you of an old Western? John Wayne should be galloping by at any moment.

This post brought to you by the AfricanKelli Arizona Tourism Board. “Arizona, where the natives are crazy, but love that dry heat.”

Arizona Domestic Art

Mother Nature’s Palette

I came out of the grocery store last night to find the sun setting in a brilliant array of firey colors.

sunset, cropped
sunset, orange and purple

I’ve found myself in an artsy rut as of late. I’m sewing the same things over and over again (See my aprons, for an example.) I’ve knit the one skein wonder pattern enough times that nearly all my girlfriends now have a dusty knitted ball at the bottom of their bra drawer that is far too small to wear. I baked four dozen chocolate chip cookies last night. Why? Because it was easy. Because I didn’t have to think about it.
Bah! Time to shake things up and get more creative. This sunset reminds me that my best source of inspiration is mother nature. I would never think to pair pale sky blue with bright pink, soft purple and firey orange — and yet, do these color combinations come in any more beautiful form?
CAOK is coming to an end. I’ve got the last few packages on my kitchen table, waiting to be mailed out on Friday. Then I’m got a few new art projects in mind. Ones to make me think. Ones to keep me learning new techniques and seeing color and texture in a new way. Photo cards, new handbag patterns, finishing that sweater for my grandmother, wedding quilts for girlfriends…


CAOK Domestic Art

Paper and Puns

I found a new paper store last week that I love. It is expensive and the stock is limited, but the owners of PaperJoy are sweet and creative. They’ve made a lot out of their tiny space next to La Grande Orange in Phoenix. If you are a Phoenician, check it out. If you are secretly in love with Paper-Source, the mecca of all paper stores, you can save yourself the shipping expense by stopping in to PaperJoy to pick up most sized envelopes and cards. I covet the day I am able to return to the Beverly Hills Paper-Source for another day of sublime shopping. Silly how pretty paper does it for me, eh?

Paper Source Goodness

The last time I was at the lovely Paper-Source. Look at that smile. Oh, heaven.

Here are a few Easter – Passover – Spring cards I sewed last night with my new stock. I’m going to send these out with the last CAOK gifts during the next week.


eggageratingly cute
arent you eggcited

Eggageratingly cute? Eggactly what I was thinking!



Color in the Hue of Spring

I took an afternoon walk this weekend through my neighborhood, enjoying the lingering breeze, cool weather and warm sun on my back. Spring is certainly fleeting in Arizona, but it seems this year’s season has been particularly plentiful and generous. The flowers are blooming in appreciation of the mid-80 degree weather and Phoenicians city-wide are stretching their legs, sleeping with their windows open and breathing deeply. We all know too well we’ll be living in a kiln again within a matter of weeks.
Now is the time to take that leisurely stroll and enjoy every wonderful second that is spring in the desert. Look how colorful it is!

red poppy with orange in bg

These red poppies grow wild in my neighbor’s yard.

cholla blooms2

In a sea of olive and sage green desert, these bright blooms draw hummingbirds and bees like wildfire.

eye level shot, orange poppies

More pretty poppies.

poppy before bloom, cu

I imagine another giant red beauty is waiting inside of this little green baby.

purple hybiscus, double

These were peeking over a fence. If flowers could speak they were not-so-coyly saying, “Yoo hoo! Don’t forget us! Take our photo! We’re the prettiest on the block!”

mesquite bloom orange

Mesquite trees en fuego.

prickly blooms lined up

Raspberry red blooms will burst from these shells in the next week.

prickly pear blooms2

To a native Arizonan, you can look at this cactus and know that its seen water recently. The bright green color is that of a happy cactus. While a few strong recent storms have brought some of the color back to the desert floor, we have no snow in the high country to refill our water reservoirs. It is going to be a dangerous summer for wild fires.

prickly pear leaf

Love this shade of green and the way the light is bouncing.

nopal, artsy

More green. I suppose a colorful spring in the desert is still mostly greens.

nopal blooms

More photos from my growing collection of desert plants can be found here.


CAOK Domestic Art

CAOK, Week #4

The Brazilian Bunny Family, straight on

My friend’s children will be receiving these bunnies in their Easter baskets. I started with a Wee Wonderful’s bunny pattern, used some scrap fabrics, and a handful of buttons, embroidery thread and pompoms. Once I got going, things got a bit out of control, as they do. When I’m motivated, there is no stopping me. A dozen bunnies later (one in an apron for this month’s Tie One On no less), I thought it would be great to match each one with a story, pinned to a big, floppy, pink, bunny ear. (The inspriation for the stories came from caring about the birth certificates that came with my Cabbage Patch dolls.)
The stories came to life. I present you the Brazilian Bunny Family, along with their accompanying story.


Once upon a time, there was a girl named Isabella. Her life-long wish was to one day have her own garden to tend. It wasn’t until she met Diego that she knew she’d need a big garden too! Isabella and Diego fell madly in love and had 10 children. She spends man a happy day watching her baby bunnies play among her carrot and lettuce gardens.


Diego grew up playing soccer with his many brothers and dreaming of the World Cup. He knew one day he’d be able to visit Brazil – where his favorite uncle learned the sport. What he didn’t know is he would meet his future wife on the trip. Today, Diego and his wife Isabella have 10 baby bunnies. They are the Brazilian Bunny family.


Terese is the oldest of 10 children – all part of the Brazilian Bunny family. She loves finding a quiet hiding place in the family garden to hide and read. She loves reading anything she can find – particularly about science. One day Terese dreams of being the first Brazilian Bunny to go to the moon. She’d be sure to bring back cheese for her brothers and sisters.


Neto is the second oldest bunny in his family. (His sister Terese regularly reminds him that she is older.) Neto likes to work with his dad, Diego. They work on the garden and the burrow. Neto knows one day he’ll have his own family and they too will live in the Brazilian Bunny family patch. He loves living right here, among the bright green grassy hills of Brazil. He doesn’t want to ever move.


Soccorro was named after her mom’s favorite aunt. Everyone calls her “Rocky” for short. Rocky likes to take photos. Sometimes her mom – Isabella – lets her take the family camera to school. Rocky likes to take photos of anything purple, her favorite color. One day her photographs will hang in the fanciest museums in the world. Rocky is a quadruplet and a happy member of the Brazilian Bunny family.


Pilar is one of the 7 daughters in the Brazilian Bunny family. She is the only one who speaks three languages. (Her dad, Diego, speaks English and Portuguese.) Pilar has always loved studying about different cultures. Learning Spanish came naturally. Now, Pilar dreams of learning Italian and French. One day she’ll work as a translator for the United Nations. Magnifico!


Phoebe dreams of being a rock star. She is the best of all the 10 Brazilian Bunny kids at eating her fruits and vegetables. Phoebe knows she’s going to have to be as tall and strong as she can be to rock out. She plays the piano, harp and trumpet. One day she’ll learn to play the violin too. She’s considering dyeing her fur – maybe then the rest of the garden will take her music more seriously. For Phoebe, music is hope.


Naomi is an excellent babysitter. All the mothers in the garden patch trust Naomi with their little ones. She wants to be a teacher one day and work with the garden patch’s children on geography, math and literature. She loves school – the classes, the desks, and even the homework! She can’t think of any place better to work one day. Naomi is one of the Brazilian Bunny family quadruplets.


Daisy’s real name is Margarite, but she prefers to English version. Daisy’s passion is cooking. She likes to help her mom – Isabella – to prepare dinner for their family, the Brazilian Bunnies. She works in the garden to gather vegetables for her meals. Her favorite thing to cook is veggie coup and corn bread. Her 9 brothers and sisters love it too. Her mom is just happy to have help in the kitchen. Carrots are a staple of life!


Laurel is her happiness when she is among the flowers. She takes twice as long as her 9 brothers and sisters to walk to school. She takes her time – noticing each plant and weed in the garden patch. She is the only Brazilian Bunny girl who likes to dig in the dirt. She wants to learn more about the bugs in the earth. Laurel is convinced they are connected to the birds, bees and flowers. She loves to take hikes.


Nigel is a born leader. He is the first awake every morning and the last one to sleep. He wants to enjoy every moment of life. He is honest and kind. His 9 brothers and sisters, all members of the Brazilian Bunny family, listen to him when he speaks. He knows that the key to getting people to listen is being confident and strong. One day, Nigel will lead all of Brazil.


Noah is the youngest of the Brazilian Bunny family. He has 2 brothers and 7 sisters. When everyone else is busy studying or working in the garden, Noah likes to swim. He loves to blow bubbles under the water and to float on his back. One day Noah will travel to California to compete in an international surf competition. Hang six dude!

The Calculated Acts of Kindness Campaign was designed to show an extra bit of love and attention to friends and family, and to celebrate Spring. To see more photos from this campaign, click here.

Daisy, behind, outside




I’ve made the jump from Thanks to Jason Newlin , a friend and amazing web designer, I’ve got this lovely new site to call home.
It’s called AfricanKelli because I’ve lived and worked in Africa and am intrigued by the continent. I am an Arizona native and love living in the desert, but truly enjoy traveling — especially to Africa.
I’ll use this space to write a bit about my favorite continent, travel, international health, domestic arts and politics. I’m hoping to have a new photo posted each day too.
Blogging keeps me thinking about new ways to be creative. I appreciate each comment and look forward to sharing more about my adventures!