Category Archives: Adventathon

16: Advent

Advent

Hand towel + fat quarter trim + grommet = golf towels for the boys.

Advent

Yesterday at church, we sang “You are my sunshine.”  It was an unconventional sermon, but one that I’ll likely always remember. Among other noteworthy pieces, included a reminder that saying “I love you” to those we adore should be a daily ritual. The minister stressed that some people have a hard time saying those words. That they don’t come easily, but mean so much.

{This is not my problem, dear little blog. I love. I love openly and I love many. I have no problem telling people, often to their discomfort. Also, I pretty much love forever. Romantic or platonic, if I love you — chances are you’ve heard about it.}

When I was young, I had a tiny yellow lion that was a music box. You’d wind up his back and his head would rotate to the song “You are my sunshine.” I probably listened to that little ditty 10,000 times by the time the lion was passed along to my little brother. The song has always made me smile. It’s sweet, sentimental and simple.

Of my greatest blessings is this church — to be reminded weekly that we are all sunshine, and that really love is the meaning.

~K

13: Advent

13: Advent

Amy Butler birdie bag — sewn as a belated wedding gift for a girlfriend.

Today’s blessing is perfection in practice. I hate it when trite sayings are true — but let’s be honest. Who isn’t better at something after doing it a dozen times? There is some new book about the 10,000 hours of practice it took for the greats — including the Beatles, Lance Armstrong, etc. — to become the very best. The only thing I’d like to spend 10,000 doing is writing.

And my writing practice, like my sewing, is getting better with time. Yet, there are often still holes, and strange patches that don’t make any sense. I have hope that with time, both will strengthen. My first novel is currently being “edited” by a retired English teacher who was willing to give it another proof reading. I am anxious to have this fixed and to learn from my errors.  I’m also so very thankful for Adam’s help in reading the second novel. Basket Baby is coming along at a good clip, in great part to his willingness to point me in a different direction, put other books in my hands to read for inspiration, and sharpen yet another red pencil.

Part of the reason I am so very excited to be soon leaving for 3 weeks in Africa is the time I’ll have to write. I’ve got a date with my Macbook, a breathtaking veranda and a butler named Damson. (Damson is the keeper of the tea and biscuits.)

~K

12: Advent

Wonky kitchen view

I have a new roommate; it seems my tiny guest room always has some geographic orphan curled up under one of my mama’s quilts. During the last eight years, I’ve given the room to: an elementary school teacher, a South African moving to Canada, a Zimbabwean golfer, and now a Midwestern boy waiting to move in with his girlfriend.  There is something so fabulous about having a roommate. I rarely ask for rent; in my head, this makes these friends guests. I treat guests with a level of compassion and understanding my college dormmates could only dream of.  I feed guests. I clean up after guests. (At first with a smile. After six months with fury.)  And in Matty’s case, I create long-lasting friendships that span continents.

Last night I sat with my new roomie (who calles me “homie”) and listened as he described the excitement of moving into his own place, unpacking his boxes and creating his own space. I remember moving into my tiny home eight years ago with a hand-me-down pull-out couch from my grandparents (tweed, no less), a few quilts I hung on walls and threw over my mattress (which was on the floor) and a box of dishes from my college days. I had zero extra money but nearly 1000 square feet to call my own!

As I consider my next move, I have been spending more time admiring the quirky home I’ve created. The turquoise kitchen with Mexican pottery has morphed with time into white walls with framed photography and African masks. While the clutter level is still fairly low, I certainly own more now than I ever thought I would. My favorite possession are still my mama’s quilts, my brother’s pottery, art created by friends and those African masks. I’m happy that my home expresses so many of the little details of a life well enjoyed in Arizona — including a framed print from this weekend’s Tour de Coop now hanging in kitchen — which is quickly becoming filled with chickens.

Yep. I’m becoming that lady. The one with a chicken kitchen.

I’m also happy the years in this place have taught me to always keep a guest room ready; having friends live under the same roof is a true blessing.

~K

11: Advent

11: Advent

My life is so very different today from just one year ago; last December, I was furiously counting pennies for a small non-profit, hoping with all my might we’d meet our fundraising goal to be able to squeak by on our end-of the-year bills. It was my seventh year working in the non-profit sector and I was beyond tired of asking friends, family and anyone who would listen to come to events! give money! care about what I care about!

Let’s be honest — most people have a cause. Most people also find it completely obnoxious when you assume your cause should be their cause. I came fairly close to exhausting a friendship or four asking for favors, coaxing volunteers hours and begging for last minute donations.

Prior to January 2009, I’d had all of 3 professional jobs: journalist, international health worker, non-profit executive. In 2010, I’ve been laid off twice and bounced from the world of non-profit to academia to full force ahead for-profit. Among other things, I’ve become quick to keep a box under my desk and not get too attached to email addresses or business cards. I miss working with the refugee population, I miss being on a university campus and the mentorship my dean/boss provided, and I miss the camaraderie of both non-profit and academic work.

But oh, sweet baby Jesus, there is so very much I don’t miss — including fundraising for my paycheck. I cannot believe how much favor God has given me; in the worst economy since the Great Depression, I’ve had three jobs in one year. This job is challenge in entirely new ways, including learning once again how to play nice with adults.  (I’d spent most of my working hours alone for the previous two years.)  Plus, while the first few months I floundered worrying that I’d sold out (a man at church had the balls to say, “Well, everyone has a price, don’t they?), the truth is — I’m still in health care and it isn’t a stretch to say this job also meets a great community need.

I was having lunch this weekend with a girlfriend discussing how important it is to bloom where you are planted. I have a great opportunity to interact with new people. Rather than trying to fit in to a corporate (and physically altered) environment, I’m suddenly okay in my own skin in this little office. I remember reaching this same point of self-acceptance in high school and how freeing it felt to realize I wasn’t anything less because I was a touch odd.

So, my blessing for today is being employed and not letting any work environment change my fundamentally tree-hugging, smiling, hand-me-down wearing, casserole baking, bike-riding, all-loving self.

~K

10: Advent

Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right? This photo has been in my flickr favorites queue for a while. I love the contrast of colors, the warm design and the simplicity.

10: Advent

So, with a couple skeins of an alpaca + wool blend, I did my best to recreate the cowl. It is super duper soft and I’m pretty sure the very girly girl I’m gifting this too will adore it.

I’m additionally in the process of creating something similar to this. And dreaming of making one of these. And one of these. Oh flickr, you are a buffet for my crafty soul.

Blessing for today: the joy of creation.

~K

9: Advent

Advent

The sprouts of Brussels are misunderstood. I know as a kid, these were one of two vegetables my mother never prepared, much to the heavy suggestion of my father. (The other banned veggie was (is) lima beans.) It wasn’t until I spent time with a friend in the Philippines that I had Brussels Sprouts and realized how very, very good they could be.

Plus, according to the news, they are all the culinary rage at the moment.

Advent

For Phoenicians, brussels sprouts are in bounty at the local farmer’s markets this time of year. How cool do you feel buying a stalk of sprouts? I’d rather have these than flowers any day. The tiny cabbages are best steamed, then stir fried quickly with other vegetables you’ve already either been carmelizing or have marinated.

This recipe is fairly simple: two pounds of sprouts (steamed for 10 minutes, after you trim off any outer leaves that look funky); 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 onions cut in rings, 2 cloves of garlic diced. While the sprouts are steaming, carmelize the onion and garlic on a low heat for up to an hour. When ready, add the sprouts to the pan for 5 minutes. Serve immediately with a generous dash of pepper and kosher salt.

Delish and an easy way to bring something to the holiday potluck that doesn’t require Crisco or stretchy pants.

~K

6: Advent

6: Advent

I made this knit stripped beanie as a birthday gift for my friend Mike.

Tuck and I have been friends for years; I truly adore him and his wife. English has so many gaps. There should be a word to describe the type of friendship that requires no maintenance other than the ocassional check up when possible. A guilt-free friendship that thrives on its own accord, unconditional love understood.

Considering there isn’t a word for this, I’ll call it an aloe vera friendship. Aloe grows in the desert with little fuss. Thankfully our actually friendship is far less prickly.

Blessing for day 6: friendships that span decades, nations, marriages and so many other hurdles to show their strength.

~K