1–10 of 931 entries in the category: Journal

One Community April

April 6th

One Community is a monthly photo project in which participants photograph their homes and communities with a theme in mind. The theme varies by month. The goal is to both showcase similarities and differences in our communities worldwide – and bring us all closer together in understanding through art.

Each month, one of the hosts picks four words for us to interpret through photographs of what we see around us in our daily lives.

The Rules:  Post one or more photos interpreting the words for the month, and add your blog post to the link-up.  Please include a link back to the link-up post on your One Community post, and take a look at some of the other links and comment on them.

This month’s words, selected by Rebekah are: spring, flowers, purple and rise.

These orchids were blooming in a medical office in Dallas. I visited it this week for work and asked the practice manager how in the world she got a grocery store orchid to bloom in huge bows of blossoms.

One Community Her response?

“I read the directions.”

One of my favorite books remains The Orchid Thief. The associated film, Adaptation, is brilliant if you’ve read the book. Also — this glorious bloom embodies spring flower, purple and the rising of the season.

Want to contribute next month? Sue has selected the following four words for May: five, mother, recipe, remember. We post on the 5th of each month. Play on, playa’.

~Kelli

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Community, Journal, Media, Photography
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Frida!

December 16th

Frida Kahlo exihibit

I first heard about this Frida Kahlo exhibit in southern California like we gather so much of our news these days: Facebook. Someone listed the link on my page. “The world’s largest collection of Frida Kahlo’s works – never before seen together.”

Was I going to see it?

WAS I GOING TO SEE IT?

Of course I was. Fast forward several months and the exhibit is coming to a close in a matter of weeks and I still hadn’t made the time or effort to drive 300 miles west to see my favorite artist. Holidays, budgets, blah blah blah add boring adult stuff here. Enter Sue, who made a generous offer: if I was interested, I could stay at her house with her family for a weekend, and she’d buy the ticket.

WAS I INTERESTED?

Frida Kahlo exihibit

I’m a bit of a Frida weirdo. It started years ago, before Salma’s movie but after I lived in Mexico. I have dressed up like my beloved favorite artist more than once, and own most books discussing her life. I have, for as long as I can remember, felt a deep tug when looking at her art. It gives me goosebumps and sometimes a sick stomach.

For Frida, it was a dark, turbulent life. Her love affair with fellow Mexican artist Diego Rivera was rocky at best. (What do you say about a man who sleeps with your sister?) A trolley accident at age 18 would leave her forever in pain, and eventually lead to her death after a series of complicated, miserable surgeries. She had countless miscarriages, and in turn, countless pets who instead received her love. She loved the ancient Mexican culture, and her brute husband, and sometimes other men. And women. She was also rather fond of communism and her German father, a photographer.

Frida Kahlo exihibit

Let’s just say it was complicated. Her art is a great reflection of her messy life – the joy, sorrow, pets, lovers, and physical pain. Many of her paintings are small because they were done while in bed, painted overhead.

As Sue and I entered the exhibit within a converted Navy barrack, boats bobbed within sight in the Pacific, and glasses clinked at an adjoining brewery. I took a deep breath.

For the next two hours, we wound our way through more than 200 pieces of Frida’s art, replicas of her clothing and jewelry, and pieces of furniture constructed like those of the Blue House in Coyoacan.

Frida Kahlo exihibit

There was so much to see, and my senses were at full throddle. With a handful of other people, we walked from painting to painting, taking in the story that led to their creation. My two favorite paintings were in the front room, and I couldn’t hold back tears. To be in the presence of this art that I had studied only in books for more than a decade was magnificent. The colors. The patterns. The history. I stared at Frida’s portraits, one after another, feeling a link to her I cannot explain.

Thank you Sue, for making this happen. I still want to visit Detroit to see Diego’s murals, and Mexico City to visit Frida’s house too. Thanks to my friend Teresa, I am pouring over a new book about Frida’s wardrobe this week as well. And thanks to Sarah, I can even cook Frida’s favorite foods.

Que Viva la Frida!

~K

 

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Journal
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10 Budget Hacks

September 11th

One vivid memory I have of elementary school is not having Guess jeans. Never mind all the things we did have – a great home, a pool, two parents who adored us, bikes, a pantry full of food, vacations to southern California. No. Never mind that stuff. Once the mid-80s Guess jeans, Esprit bags, high top Converse trends hit suburban Phoenix, I felt like a pauper. All the other kids had Guess jeans. Why was I wearing JC Penney? WHY OH WHY?

My mom would laugh at my requests and she would not be swayed. She could not understand why any parent would purchase $100 jeans for a growing child. It simply didn’t make sense.

Today, I think my mom is a genius. Then, I thought she was trying to forever keep me unpopular. My third grade brain decided wearing the “right” jeans and tennis shoes, made you a better person. Being cool meant complete happiness.

Jars of Renewal: Savings Plan

Eventually I saved enough babysitting money to buy a Guess t-shirt in 7th grade, but by then the brand was fading from popularity. The shirt didn’t fit for long and I’m pretty sure I regretted the expense, even if it did look super cool with my puka shell necklace and double barrel bangs. My mom just shook her head, sure that at some point I too would figure it out: things weren’t going to make me cool. Money wasn’t happiness.

I’d love to tell you there was some huge “a ha!” moment soon after when, say, volunteering at a soup kitchen or wrapping Christmas gifts for orphans, I knew this to be truth. Sadly, there was no clarifying moment of cheap grace. I always loved helping others and I always loved going into a fancy department store, or Gap, or Target – or heck, even Costco – and coming out with a cart full of shiny, bright, stylish items that gave me the rush of NEW.

I am human, and therefore complicated.

Jars of Renewal: Savings Plan

Now, as I’ve combined households and finances with someone, I’m embarrassed I haven’t done a better job of listening to what my wise mother has been trying to say for two decades: save more, spend less. Ashamed, really. Instead, I have a closet full of shoes, more books than I’ll ever be able to read and a passport full of stamps from flights I often put on credit to pay off …  when I could. They were, of course, “once in a lifetime opportunities.” All of them. Really.

I know it is tacky to speak of money; if I’m insulting your Victorian sensibilities, look away.

Jars of Renewal: Savings Plan

My current top 10 budget hacks:

  1. It goes without saying but: the ultimate budget hack is to not spend more than you earn. Track every expense in a free Google doc and Mint. Compare utilities and other expenses monthly to review usage. Change phone/energy plans to best meet your needs and uses. Review receipts and track expenses by category to see where you are going over budget and need to make changes. You can’t change it if you are in denial.
  2. No movies. It is never really just the movies. It’s a $12 ticket and $30 worth of high fructose corn syrup. Instead, we have an $8 a month Netflix account and if we are in the mood for junk food, I’ll bake a pan of sea salt brownies. If we want something else, we go to Red Box for $4.
  3. No shopping. This sounds simple, but I’d gotten in the silly habit of buying a new piece of clothing every time I had a big event. Sometimes it was a full outfit, other times it was just something small. I’d spend my lunch hour at Target with a giant $4 iced coffee from Starbucks. New makeup. New socks. Some new peanut butter I hadn’t tried. The result is too much of everything. I have zero need for more clothes, makeup or for-the-love-of-god — peanut butter. To meet this goal, I’m limiting how much I look at magazines or let myself spend time in stores, which fuel my desired consumerism.
  4. I plan our meals using Stacey’s tracker. This means shopping with coupons for a specific ingredient list, and trying to cook enough for two meals, plus lunches. We eat leftovers and we take our lunch. We also don’t go out to eat on a whim anymore. We plan one night out a week and make it great. It feels like a treat. We are eating healthier as a result, and our food expenses are budgeted to about $120 per week, together for a total of 40 meals. We eat a lot of eggs, Crockpot roasts and fresh fruits and veggies. Sure, this takes focus, but it really does make life so much easier once you get in the groove. No more having to swing by the market on the way home for this or that. You know. It’s planned. It’s printed. It’s on the fridge.
  5. I’ve changed my beauty routines. No more manicures and pedicures. I do them myself, saving more than $100 a month. I also have limited my beauty product use to a dime size. We use everything to the last drop, and it last ridiculously longer.  I’ve also been cutting coupons specifically for beauty products and even joined a coupon group at work that swaps information on what is on sale at what store each week. (When I do want a splurge, SWIHA has a fantastic hour-long massage for $35. And the Aveda school in Tempe does a great haircut for less than $20.)
  6. As for hobbies and gift giving: it is a time to use what we have. I’m making gifts from my current yarn and fabric stashes. I’m using paper stock and stamps to make birthday cards. And when I need a gift, I often turn to half.com for a book I’ve loved and want to pass along. Most books are $.75, with $2-$3 shipping. Along with a handmade card, you can’t go wrong. Is it cheap? Yes. Is it thoughtful? Also, yes.
  7. As for health – it’s time to floss. And exercise daily. And drink a lot of water. And wear sunscreen. These sound simple, but all will help keep long-term health expenses at bay. I’m also planning to ride my bike to work once it cools off. That will save ½ gallon of gas per day, or $1.75. It’s minor, but it will add up as I build awesome quads. Also, I’ll be less tempted to visit Target at lunch if I have to bike there.
  8. It isn’t all austere. With a little research, I’ve found some fun free things to do in downtown Phoenix. The Phoenix Art Museum has free admission on Wednesdays from 3-9 pm. The city’s concerts in the park series start again soon. There are countless trails we will hike, and roads to cycle.
  9. It’s the little things, really. Like that $3.45 cup of espresso I became so accustomed to each morning. Instead, we buy our (fair trade) beans in bulk. With milk and stevia, it comes out to $27 per month for more than 90 cups of coffee. $3.45 per cup just went to less than $.30 per cup. I take a thermos to work and sip my coffee during the morning. If only all changes were so simple to see such change!
  10. Give yourself a cash budget for the extras. I put a $20 bill in my wallet on Sundays. This is my soda money. My mid-week Ben and Jerry’s-after-dinner-run money. It’s the little bit of extra I get to play with, and if I don’t spend it – I get to save. Suddenly, I love that idea far more than the thought of spending.
Jars of Renewal: Savings Plan

I hope some of these may be helpful if you too are trying to live la vida frugalista.

~K

 

P.S. Mom, I finally heard you.

Posted in
Domestic Art, Journal
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Kermit Z Frog Hat

September 9th

Stafford Hat

I have never knit lace before, or followed a knitting chart. This pattern provided just the right amount of challenge. We spent a good bit of time this weekend on the couch, listening to the rain fall and watching a BBC miniseries on Netflix.

Stafford Hat

I’ll be making several of these this fall for friends in cooler locales.

Stafford Hat

Love these colors, and the rhythm of knitting. Perhaps I’ll even finish that sweater I started two years ago, or the tri-cabled scarf that I’ve carried in my purse for 8 months? It is a lot more enjoyable to knit in cooler weather — that I know for certain.

For now, more hats. These are too fun and are a great way to use up my current yarn stash.

~K

 

Posted in
Domestic Art, Journal, June Cleaver
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The Magic of Travel

September 4th

Missoula, MT

Ever visit a place and have it remind you of something you value, but have neglected? Like blowing dust off an old, rare book — travel often reminds me of places within that have been hidden by the cobwebs of life.

Wrapped in self doubt, laziness — bright and shiny distractions.

Spending time in Missoula with Finny and Digs reminded me of why these dusty books are worth unpacking, revisiting, cleaning off. There is a way of life I observed that is beautiful in its simplicity. Digs’ family eats out of the garden. They raise chickens for eggs. This is a life of happy, barefoot children, scruffy dogs, a pantry full of Ball jars in shimmering jewel tones, a local museum full of great art, a downtown full of local shops supported even at the higher costs, and cars that are dirty and will remain dirty because, really, why bother?

Finny spends her days in California in a greenhouse or at home in the garden, talking to her bees, the dog and the kumquat tree. Her arms are strong, her shoulders brown. She’s never looked happier.

Missoula, MT

I am struggling trying to figure out how to incorporate this way of life in my new reality — city living and a full time desk job. (I job I love, but nonetheless, not not one I can do from home while watering the basil and waiting for the bread to rise.) We will make this place a homestead yet. With no land to garden, we’ll have a couple terraces of pots full of herbs and peppers and tomatoes. We’ll juice the local winter harvest of citrus and send boxes of the whole fruit to loved ones far away — including to that happy family in Missoula. I’ll grow bushes of basil in the temperate fall and winter, freezing pesto in ice cube trays for year-round dinner parties.

And I will continue to walk Nelson through our new neighborhood, eyeing properties with irrigation and big backyards perfect for bean poles, fruit trees, forests of tomatoes, a poultry run, and porch for a swing and cobalt blue pots full of ruby red geraniums.

This simple life is in my heart. I am so thankful for travel for reminding me.

~K

 

 

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Journal, Travel
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Often, All That Remains

September 2nd

Missoula, MT

On our recent trip to Montana, we toured the Missoula Art Museum. Jane Waggoner Deschner’s exhibit, called, “Often, All That Remains,” was the rare experience that left me weak in the knees — powerful, transformative art.

Quietly, we walked the small room, examining “found” photos Deschner embroidered with famous quotes. Sometimes the quotes were ironic, others funny. Some made me want to cry.

Missoula, MT

Missoula, MT

Missoula, MT

Her exhibit takes two forms of art I love — photography and embroidery — and throws them together in a provocative way. I could have spent all my museum time with just this show.

Missoula, MT

Missoula, MT

Missoula, MT

Missoula, MT

Deschner writes, “The idea for stitching into photographs came from remembering the sewing cards from my childhood. I discovered only a few other artists (mostly European) who embroider into photos, so I have developed my technique through trail and error. What I have come to love are the connections I create with needle and thread, typography and design, and generations of unknown people, both ordinary and famous.”

Missoula, MT

Missoula, MT

Deschner is from Billings, MT. If you get a chance to see her work, do so!

 

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Journal, Travel
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On the Road Again…

April 30th

I wish I could quote more Willie Nelson songs, but this one is most appropriate. Nelson and I hit the road tomorrow for Nebraska, then Chicago, and finally on to the East Coast. I have cried buckets this week,  (saying goodbye to my brother? You have to be kidding me.) but I am also so very excited to be moving on to the next part of life.

So, while we are out exploring the Midwest, a few more photos from crazy days in Texas last weekend:

Fiesta!

Pristine gardens in the King William section of San Antonio

Fiesta!

The dude abides. Even in street fair art.

Fiesta!

Nacho Libre as a dog. BEEEEG KISS. (and cheeeeps for the orphans.)

Fiesta!

Confetti dog. Adorbs.

Fiesta!

This woman is a self described “hostess with the mostess.”

Fiesta!

And these are her Twinkies.

Fiesta!

How pretty is this little boy?

Fiesta!

Almost as pretty as this horse.

Fiesta!

And a random parade participant dressed as butter. Who did not explain, but kinda didn’t have to in San Antonio. Folks are big, and happy and love good food in this town.

More to come. Happy trails, friends!

~K

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Journal, Travel
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Leap

April 23rd

D

We dated for a handful of months, keeping things quiet because we worked together. The first week of February, he was transferred to the East Coast and we broke up. I was distraught. I didn’t eat or sleep for the better part of seven weeks. Easter weekend in NYC brought us back together, at a crossroad: we could move to Arizona, where I had an excellent job opportunity. He could move to Denver, where I also had a couple job opportunities. Or I could move to the East Coast and find something new – knowing he already had a great job. While it took a while to agree on a zip code, we were certain we wanted to be together.

If there was ever a man meant to live in a big city, he’s the one. He grew up in Europe and still travels there frequently, is more at ease in a three-piece suit than shorts and a T-shirt. He LOVES New York, a quick train ride away. If I was willing to come east, he’d care for us. (Nelson included, of course.)

To the shock of many, I started packing. Here’s why:

  1. I love this man. And I am a complete and total sucker for love. He makes me better. My life is happier when we are together. We make sense.
  2. A fresh start. Although I’d just done this with a move to Colorado two years prior, it all sounded so very nice. I didn’t need all of this stuff. I didn’t need to stay in a job I hadn’t enjoyed for a long time — even if my clients were fantastic. I was being given a chance to free myself of both.
  3. I’ve never lived on the East Coast. And while I am a western girl at heart, it will be fun to discover a new place. I’m looking forward to upstate New York this summer, and road trips to states I’ve only ever seen on maps. Ben and Jerry’s in Vermont! Screaming, “live free or die!” in New Hampshire. Lobster in Maine, etc. {I am writing this from a Starbucks in New Jersey, wearing chunky turquoise, a jean jacket, and dirty white chucks. I’m surrounded by folks wearing black, puffy Burberry coats with plaid at the cuffs, or pressed Brooks Brothers with flashy links. Toto, we aren’t in Golden anymore.}
  4. A new career. I’ve got time and a bit of savings. I can plan this next job without that sense of, “holy Moses, I just got laid off twice in four months” urgency that led to the last. I have time to think about how I want to spend my time, in addition to finishing my novel.
  5. Maybe I’m just dreaming, but being closer to the capital of publishing gives me more hope for finding the right agent and editor for future novels.
  6. It isn’t permanent. We have dreams of living abroad and raising a family in the West. I want my closest friends and family nearby. My life is richer with community.
  7. Did I mention I love him? He is a good man. Plus, it is kinda fun to be spontaneous for the first time in my otherwise very planned life.

Thank you for all of the well wishes. Change of address cards hitting the post next week — as Nelson and I hit the open road, bound for New Jersey.

~K

P.S. Yeah, I moved to Africa when I was 20. But Jersey? THIS IS SCARY.

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Journal, NJ + NYC
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This Week

April 17th

Baby hat

Knitting: cotton newborn hats for girlfriends

Sewing: Nothing — everything is packed

Listening: Imagine Dragons and Florence and the Machines, acoustic on repeat

Watching: I just finished Season 5 of Mad Men and am hoping to find a television to catch up with the current season soon. Some of the twists and turns of season five made me sick to my stomach. In particular, Joan’s storyline. I really wish the plot hadn’t gone that direction.

Reading: Just finished Shantaram. Review to come. Currently enjoying Paris Wife. Next up: Peace Like a River.

Planning: a move across the country, a new home and a new career. I am dreaming of this hutch, and this dining room table and chairs. The wall of creative storage is pretty fantastic. And we will need some creative clothing storage options in lieu of the fantastic walk-in closets in Arizona, but New Yorkers call a nice apartment.

Traveling: East. Avoiding a bit of this crazy weather in Denver. Looking forward to spending some time with my honey.

Hope your week is going well!

~K

 

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Journal
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The Ottoman Empire

April 8th

My house is a complete catastrophe; I’m moving again. The sweet house I’ve been renting must be returned to her owner. As such, I’ve been sorting through piles and piles and more piles of stuff.

How did this happen?

Moving, again

Once upon a time, I prided my ability to move everything I ever wanted within my trusty Civic. And for many years, that was easy enough to adhere to. I made very little, spent most of it on travel, and was happy to get hand-me-down furniture from family.

Ah, my 20s. Such an adventurous, frugal, high-and-mighty decade.

Oh, how the idealistic fall. Specifically, I fell into a house full of things I’ve come to love. A comfy bed. A couch. An ottoman. Slowly, I’ve built a tiny shabby chic home. African masks, handmade quilts, pottery my brother threw, photography from travels, a closet full of board games and a kitchen bursting with every gadget Williams and Sonoma could think of. My bookshelves are full, and my dining room table is often crammed with hungry friends. Most of the furniture still is either hand-me-down, or came in a box with 1,000 pieces and directions in “Ikea,” but it was all paid for with my work.

Moving, again

I’m moving in part to create a new home with a man I love. A man who loves me despite my hippie, thrifty tendencies. A man who dreams of living in one of those Architectural Digest houses made of glass and steel. You know this feature spread. There is but one couch in the middle of the living room, and no art on the walls. It includes the stick thin couple standing on a patio holding Manhattans, grinning with perfect teeth and shiny hair, while a best-in-show dog rests at their feet, patiently waiting their next command.

Moving, again

I have Nelson. Have you met Nelson? He is a $50 pound puppy who barks at every car that goes down his street and is the sweetest, cuddliest, most unruly dog on the planet. His favorite food is pizza, when he can’t find/reach the tortilla chips. He often sneaks upstairs early to stake out his spot on the end of my bed, meaning most mornings I have to shake dirt and muddy squeaker toys off the sheets. I don’t like Manhattans (although the city itself is growing on me) and the idea of living in a glass and steel house gives me nightmares of being stuck in a dentist’s chair.

Moving, again

I’m sorting through all of this stuff — platters, frames, old linens, dusty copies of books I was supposed to read in college and have now moved (still unread) five times, bikes, shoes, shoes, handbags, tennis racquets and more shoes. It is liberating to get rid of all of this nonsense. I will not be owned my by things. I can walk away from it all, especially if it means walking toward the right person. A fresh start.

Nelson’s coming with. So are those quilts, and the pottery. And even some of the shoes.

This is an exciting, happy and very good place to be.

~K

 

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Journal
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