Category Archives: Correspondence

What’s Cooking?

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Roasted butternut squash topped with browned turkey, garlic and veggies with a side of quinoa.

cooking 005

Mmm.. say it with me — “keen wa!” I love this food.

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And while I’m trying not to drink much, this decanter is so awesome for impressing a guest. Take a $5 bottle of red wine and decant for 30 minutes before. You wouldn’t believe how much this improves the taste.

Otherwise, I’m not doing much domestic this week. Work is kicking my butt. With hours upon hours at the capitol in a sea of gray cubicles, I am exceptionally happy this is no longer my work environment. I am also over the moon, after spending an hour on the freeway this afternoon, that I don’t have to participate in the concrete jungle regularly either. Both have given me a new dose of perspective and gratitude for my sweet little desk with the pretty window overhead and the fact it is a mile from my home.

Now where did I put the rest of that quinoa…


Handmade Christmas

I’ve been waiting for the last gifts to be gifted and received to post the projects I made for the holidays.

Cigar Box turned Correspondence Kit for Colleen

Cigar Box turned Correspondence Box

Cigar Box turned Correspondence Box

Cigar Box turned Correspondence Box

Cigar Box turned Correspondence Box

With much thanks to Kinchie for nudging me along to get this done and helping with the details!

Tea Towel Headbands, which I put together with help of my mama. (God bless her patience. I hate turning tiny things like this.) I love the idea of having a little towel on your brow when you are working out, gardening or running down the field playing frisbee. You want to look cute, but you don’t want your hair in your eyes. And if it sucks up a little “glisten” along the way, even better.

Tea towel headbands

Tea Towel Headbands

These were paired with my 2008 Christmas music mix. If one doesn’t get you out on your bike, hopefully the other does.

And finally, Amy Butler wide leg jammie pants. I made these in fleece and added a t-shirt to make pajama sets for eight friends.

Amy Butler wide leg pants -- fleece

Amy Butler wide leg pants -- fleece

Amy Butler wide leg pants -- fleece

And to all a good night! The Christmas tree is down, the Valentine’s heart is going on the front door and I’m looking forward to a rockin’ 2009.



Finny & Donk’s Sewing Adventure: Final Project

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Dear Fin,

Hello dahling! How are you? I am so, so happy this morning. I was able to sleep in and woke up to the sound of rain. In Arizona, this is one of the most precious sounds. I was thrilled! My dad arrived last night and even though our plans of taking a lovely desert hike were drenched, we decided to hit the gym for a bit before heading off to breakfast. We’ll see a movie today and maybe go bowling.

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I LOVE Father/Daughter days. It has been forever since we’ve had one. But back to the details: I finished our project! I sewed these up as sample Christmas cards. I know how much you love, ahem, Christmas swag. But you’ll have to admit these are pretty cute thanks to my new Martha Stewart birdie stamps. And your cards came out super cute. I thought maybe you’d rock the Hanukkah cards with the star pattern, but you went an entirely different (and pretty) direction.

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So, what will we do next? I think we need some fantastic new sew-along idea to balance out how much this book has bummed me out. It just didn’t live up to its potential. Am I the only one that feels this way? It doesn’t help that last year’s sew-along book and projects were simply SO rad! Ideas?

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Okay, off to breakfast and movies and bowling. Got to run! Love you mucho and hope you and Bubba have a fabulous, 1980s-themed Thanksgiving!



Red, White and Frida all Over

Working Frida

Yesterday I received another pretty incredible stroke of kindness from the craft world. KatyRenee had a contest a while back on her blog and I won. I was able to select an image and she said she’d whip something up for me. Of course, I looked to my creative idol — Ms. Kahlo.

Gift box from Katy
Frida in a box
So happy with my new Frida fabulousness

Why yes, I am in love. Thank you Katy!

To see why Frida inspires me, check out some of these images. I have tentative plans to spend some time in San Miguel de Allende with mi amigita Alma next Fall visiting Frida’s studio. Holy guacamole, that would be the trip of a lifetime. Frida’s story, and many others, do make me believe that many great artists often find inspiration from tragedy. Thankfully, I admire their work in my sphere of happiness (while wearing awesome accessories.)


{NaNoBlogMo is officially kicking my butt. Who knew blogging everyday for a month would be tricky for a girl who never shuts up? Yeah. I’m surprised too.}

Gossip Gumbo

I’ve got about a dozen posts running around upstairs. To wrap up a few loose ends from the last couple of weeks:

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Timely and fantastic health care-package from Ms. Colleen.

~My meeting with the nutritionist was fantastic. She is accepting new clients and if you want her contact info, shoot me an email. Basically we just spent an hour talking about food and my eating habits. She recommended a series of books, including: Intuitive Eating, Appetites, Mindless Eating, Moving Away from Diets and What is Normal Eating. Again, I did not meet with her because I think I need to lose dramatic amounts of weight or have an eating disorder. I have a few silly habits I’m trying to change. I plan on reading a couple of these, meeting with her again, and going forward a healthier woman.

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Shwag bag of Vancouver Olympic goodies from Rachael. LOVE these. I am such an Olympaholic. I miss the summer games already.

~ TDH is NOT the African house guest I am expecting this weekend. Holy moly, no. He is actually starting Stanford medical school this week and while I think he does look a bit like a bald Michael Phelps, he is not on the romance radar. I am rooting for him in this latest amazing academic adventure. The guests are coming from Malawi. I stayed with them on the tea estate; they have some business in Phoenix. I hope to return the hospitality favor, although I’m certain it can’t compare.

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Wine cork trivet from Diane — love the reduce, reuse, repour factor.

~ I finished editing my novel this week, again. I’m sending it off after one final read to the man I hope will be my literary agent. If he doesn’t want to represent me, it is back to the drawing board. I am very excited to move on to a new cast of characters for novel dos. If you have any contacts in publishing, or know of an author who has successfully navigated these waters, I’d love the help. A mentor in publishing would be a wish come true. In the meantime, I think I am going to celebrate with a great bottle of Malbec this weekend.

~ My new job involves refugees. I am planning a series of posts discussing refugees in America. What is a refugee? What is an evacuee? Immigrant? Illegal immigrant? Where do refugees come from? Many public health + refugee living posts to come.

~ Podcasts I am currently loving:
The Splendid Table, This American Life, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Joel Osteen, Speaking of Faith

~ Do you have your jars for the next Jars for Renewal project yet? I’m telling you — this one is finger licking good. Another cherished family recipe I can’t wait to share.

~Did you know Finny is having a big, milestone birthday this week? Go send her some love.


Correspondence Chaos

Hi there! I don't close. I am gross.

I can’t handle clutter. I don’t like knickknacks or collections or piles of anything — with new-to-me books being the sole exception. (Okay, and maybe piles of cash.) I’m in tidying-mode this week — trying to clear out my studio of craft supplies that could find a better home, my closet of clothing that doesn’t fit, my bookshelves of items that will be better suited at the Tempe Library. Even Esme is off to a new home; my friend Sam will hopefully be putting her to use soon with Phoenix Copper Bikes.

Hello cards!

With this in mind, I tackled my paper supplies last night and reorganized my stationery. I jokingly refer to myself as the Correspondence Queen because chances are, if you get a new job, celebrate a birth, buy a new house or do something that just knocks my socks off, you will find a letter in your mailbox saying so within a few days. I love to write letters because I remain steadfast that going to the post and finding a handwritten note among the junk is joyous.

Feed me!

This file accordion provided the perfect way to clean up my rubber stamp box and give ready access to cards, envelopes, gift tags, stationery, scrapbooking paper, envelope templates, etc. I found some order in the previous correspondence chaos. I am thinking another accordion would work perfectly for sewing patterns.

Lookie! I'm full of pretty paper.

Next up: fabric scraps. I want to make a scrap quilt for some friends who are getting married this Fall. I need to go through the stack and decide what will and won’t work. I am going to put together some kits of left over supplies for my friends who are elementary school teachers.
I must say, taking inventory makes it much easier to use what you have. I don’t need to buy patterns, craft books, yarn or fabric for a long time. Now if my friend JoAnn would just stop sending me coupons to tempt me otherwise.
Do you have a great organizational technique that makes your life easier? I’ll randomly select a commenter to receive a collection of homemade cards. How’s that for a theme?


Ouch. Yay! Ouch.

side of ipod case
veclro earbud pocket on the front

It seems the professional stars have aligned to collide this week; so many of my friends are having hard work-weeks. Yesterday I got home unexpectedly hours early from an afternoon meeting and by 4 pm I was in my pajamas, under the covers with a glass of Cabernet so big, I think it might be illegal. About 6:30, the fuzziness started wearing off and I decided it just might be a good idea to not become the crazy 20-something who comes home from work early to lounge around in jammies and drinks the afternoon away while talking to Rachael Ray on the tube.
I pulled myself together, washed out the glass and made some dinner. I also decided the evening wouldn’t be wasted; there isn’t enough time in my day to stress about my job. The only thing it does is make my hair fall out and make me eat my weight in frozen yogurt. Neither leave me feeling terribly attractive or too great about myself. A sense of accomplishment, however, is a sure fire self-esteem boost, and considering I’d had all that wine, it was impossible to drive to the Golden Spoon.

ipod case
inside of amy butler ipod case

Instead, I wooed my Singer and a new Amy Butler pattern. Voila — a pink iPod case. I bought this Amy Butler fabric on eBay years ago and have been nursing the one yard through several projects. I think I’m going to make a couple more of these as gifts. And yes, the seams in those photos would be much straighter without the trip down Cabernet street. Stop judging.

palm card with envelope

With the same sense of using what I have in the craft studio, I pulled out some paper and ribbon to make some new cards. I am a bit of a correspondence junkie and it was so fun to use ribbon scraps to make these.

blue and orange ribbon card
Asian purple card

I’ve got a stack of June birthday cards ready for the mail and am working on July. Mozambique doesn’t have postal service in Beira, so it is wise to get these done now. (Ah, junk mail. I never thought I’d consider you a luxury.)
Also, I decorated some notebooks with leftover fabric scraps and stamps for friends who are also traveling this summer.

cd travel journal
ja travel journal
travel patch, cu
in which to keep my secrets
summer travel journal, front
giraffes on the back of my journal

And maybe a fabulous giraffe journal for moi aussi.
For waking up with a mild hangover, I was pleasantly surprised to see my studio table covered with completed projects. Now, about that packing…


Domestic Disasters

Dear Fin,
Oy vey, oy vey, oy! What a ridiculous week of disasters it has been. First off, remember that nudu hat? The gray one that the minister in Chicago ordered and I finished lickity split? Well, I didn’t sent it with delivery confirmation because I’ve never had anything get lost in the mail. Before. Yep, I had to start over after the hat never arrived. I’m sure whomever received the hat found themselves tickled pink by their new gray dreaded accessory. Alas, this left me scrambling to fill the order again and I’ve thankfully just dropped this baby off in the mail. I kinda like it better in black anyway. Hopefully so does the customer. Fingers crossed this baby arrives in no time and the remaining fee comes my way pronto.

adios nudu

And the tunic. Thankfully my love for Amy Butler is well known around here because you’d never know by hearing the obscenities I’ve screamed her direction in the last week. Pattern sewing is just not my strong suit. I am not dramatizing this scene: me last weekend, sewing four hours on the tunic, trying desperately to finish it in time to meet a you’ll-be-able-to-wear-this-for-Easter promise I made Rebekah when I realized I’d sewn the yoke on incorrectly for the third time.

The Tunic that Nearly Killed Me

I didn’t even attempt to rip it out. I am just thankful I didn’t pull out my shears and make confetti of the entire project. I’m going to attempt to decipher the pattern and sew this top again this weekend. Poor Rebekkah had to find something else to wear to services tomorrow. {And if you have any gentle tips on what you think I may be doing wrong with the yoke, I’d be happy to hear them. That said, if you are going to forward me blogs where the seamstresses write, “Anna Tunic? So easy! One afternoon of skipping through the sewing and I wore it to dinner!” you might as well send me a barf bag too.}

As for that table runner? Haven’t even thought about it. I am guessing I’ll jump on that baby this weekend. I have to say, you paved your own way quite successfully on this project, didn’t you? Bravo!

Hope the Easter bunny brings you gobs of Reese’s eggs, my friend. Miss you, and oh how I could use your pattern-sewing and margarita-making skills right. about. now.


Hippity Hop for the Peeps

Bunny cards
That time of year again
Cut out bunnies

Flowers are blooming, bunnies are prepping for a busy weekend of egg-hiding, and I’m sending out lots of CAOK correspondence to celebrate all things Spring. If you were to receive an Easter basket, what would you want included? (I may be considering party treats for community dinner participants this week, so think small and economic.)

Hope your week is going well Peeps,

P.S. Peeps (the candy) gross me out. So do Cadbury Eggs. Ew. What is that sticky center all about anyway? Anyone else totally repulsed by the idea of eating fake egg yolks? My favorite Easter sweet, hands down, is malt balls. Whenever I have anything with malt (which is best in small quantities, such as one plastic egg-full), it reminds me of Easter egg hunts with my brother around our childhood home’s backyard. We ate way too much candy in the yard before racing back inside to have sick stomachs at the brunch table, because nothing says resurrection of the Savior like a giant bunny leaving mystery candies in the yard. Right Santa?

P.P.S. Thanks again Barbara for the new stamps!

A Season of Good Deeds

Have you heard the old adage that kindness is a boomerang? You give it away and it keeps flying back your direction. For example, when a friend had a shipment of baskets at work that were leftover from a project, he called. Could I use them at work for my upcoming charity auction? Could I use them at all?

towering baskets

Could I.

new basket, filled with january treats

Again, this progression from an anti-PTA, never-going-to-be-domestic, raging femmebot to my current Country Living-subscribing, bread-baking, nesting-self surprises me daily. My tastes and interests are so radically different than they were 10 years ago when I was hell-bent on being a corporate executive who lived in the glitz and glam of a huge international city. I would laugh and roll my eyes at my mom when she talked about what she was cooking, sewing, doing at church. My edges are definitely softening. I love these baskets, and not just because they came as a thoughtful gift. They are sweet shabby chic and oh my God a bit of the radical feminist in me just died by saying I wish I had more.

may or may not have stolen from a neighbor

There is so much potential with a stack of baskets and a sunny, warm Saturday afternoon, especially when your cute neighbor is at the gym and his backyard gate is left unlocked. He won’t notice if I pick a few dozen lemons off that burdened tree, will he? I didn’t think so.

the glisten of brownie fat
ready for delivery

Especially when you wave a new shiny (read: chocolate) object to redirect his attention.

CAOK is off to a great start. I created that photo pool over at flickr so everyone could share ideas on how to harvest and distribute great acts of kindness during Lent. Then I read this verse and felt like a braggart. Yuck. I hope my intention is clear: I love CAOK because it gives me a chance to spoil others and do so abundantly. This isn’t a praise-seeking mission.

This week’s CAOK idea: correspondence. It’s Valentine’s week and what better chance to sit down and write a quick note to those you love? I’ve got a stack going out today and am writing a couple rough draft letters to my grandparents. They are getting up there in age and I’d like to let them know how they’ve influenced my life, made me better, shown me kindness and created happiness. They’ve taught me so much. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of letter, but I hope to mail it off to each set of lovely abuelitos this week. Yep, I’m a sentimental femmebot.

Here is wishing you receive a bounty of love this week too!