Reading: Polite Society

My friend Colleen published her first book this year, Polite Society. Collen’s book itself is gorgeous. Hardback, with gold script across the front, each chapter starts with a hand-drawn illustration. The physical presence of the book itself makes it worth the $32 price tag.

But of course, you should read it. Polite Society is a look into a family’s life in suburban Oregon. The aging teacher who lost her husband at a young age. The grandmother unexpectedly raising her grandchild. The little girl whose imaginary friend is Bob Barker.

Colleen's visit

I enjoyed the story, and of course I am bias. Colleen is a wonderful person and I understand the nail-biting anxieties that come with self-publishing your first baby, waiting for the reviews to come in. The story is so much of you. Your paper-thin ego wants nothing more than to hear it is great.

Colleen: this is a great story! And I am so proud of you for pushing forward and finishing. I will keep this beauty for ages.




Word Count Wednesday. Kinda.

Southern California

I’ve got a lengthy list of excuses. Can I add those to my word count? How about this: I’m in the thick of writing this novel. I’ve added 3000 words this week, and it feels good. I’m in my groove. Next week will be better, with more words and progress.

In the meantime, how great was time on that beach? So great!


How You Like Them Apples?

Remember how I said the apple trees in the neighborhood were going crazy? Thanks to Roman law, I ended up with about 25 pounds of large crab apples last week.

I love me some free fruit.

Add about 5 hours of cooking, boiling and labeling, and voila: apple butter and curried apple chutney:







Things learned from this canning adventure:

1. The food mill featured above was worthless. I had to return it. So, the apple butter has some seeds in it. I suppose I’ll only hand it out to those who don’t mind a little extra fiber with their breakfast.

2. I could use a good food mill.

3. This curried apple chutney recipe from the traditional Ball canning guide makes a TON of food. I canned some 14 jars of chutney, and it made the house smell wonderful.

4. Apple butter in the Crockpot is a great idea, but be wise that it will burn overnight if you aren’t careful. Better to start it first thing in the morning and keep an eye on it during the day.

5. Cheese and rice, my pantry is now full of apple recipes. Considering one more round to clean up all the apples falling in the yard: apple sauce.

6. Who wants to come over for some apples?



I’m not exactly a sports fan these days. I very vaguely keep my eye on golf, the Broncos and Olympic swimming. So I wasn’t exactly as in the know about touring Butler University.


{where Hoosiers was filmed. who knew?}

Come to find out, the way to sell me on a sports team is to tell me how they have been the underdog (no barky pun intended) for years and yet continue to make it to the final four. Or that they have the “Butler Way”of putting community and education before baskets. Or, just have me walk around the campus for an hour and meet a handful of the most polite students I’ve ever encountered.

I’m starting to think Indiana is the home of good manners. Have I mentioned lately I love Indiana?



Plus — their newest mascot is super cute, with birth announcements hanging around campus:


Awww. Go bulldoggies!





What Had Happened Was…

I’m dedicating the next week’s worth of posts to my new favorite state in the union: Indiana.

That’s right, Indiana. Home of the Hoosers, the Butler Bulldogs and the best book club I know.



Have you ever been? If so, you know Indianapolis is a surprising delight. Clean, with huge monuments, lots of trees and flowers, locally owned shops and great restaurants. And the people? Well. They are the nicest I’ve ever encountered.


How did I find myself in Indianapolis for three days this week? Well. Brit, a girlfriend from Phoenix, read Under the Same Moon and  gave it to her best friend Lisa in Indy. Lisa, in turn, bought the book for the entire club and made it her selection for the month of April. Brit and Lisa sent an email — would I be willing to fly out for the meeting? Brit would come from Arizona too, of course.



This happened in November and I was beyond flattered. A book club was reading my work and wanted me to come to their group. How could I say no? I immediately bought a ticket, threw it on my calendar and tried not to think about it. I mentioned it to a few friends here and there but it wasn’t until Brit sent an email saying she couldn’t attend that I started to get nervous.

This left me flying across the country to stay with folks I’ve never met for, oh, just three days. Lisa, of course, played it cool by email. She explained she’d be there at the airport to pick me up and she and her lovely boyfriend Dan were so happy to host me. Their gorgeous home and four cats awaited my arrival.


I’m not going to say it was love at first sight with Lisa because I was just too nervous walking out of an airport TO GO HOME WITH SOMEONE I’D NEVER MET. (This trip violated every stranger danger rule I’ve ever learned.) But it was darn close to love at first sight. She was so friendly and made me immediately feel at home. And I did. By the end of the three days I was truly sad to be leaving.

Lisa and Dan are unbelievably kind, warm and generous. They didn’t just welcome me into their home, host a party in my honor and let me take a tour of their wine cellar (Hello, Cellar. We are going to be great friends…), but they also arranged a Segway tour of Indianapolis, took me to Butler University and a walk through the natural history museum, and bent over backward every moment of my visit.


They’ve redefined hospitality. And I can’t wait for them to come stay in Colorado so I can return some of the love.

What did it feel like to have 16 people over for dinner to talk about my book? SHEER TERROR AND COMPLETE EGOTISTICAL DELIGHT. But I’ll leave that to the next post.


*the title of this post is a shout out to Joe, one of the attendees of the book club. He regularly starts stories with this colloquialism, “What had happened was…” By the end of the trip, I was saying it too.

Dirty Dog

Apparently the only thing consistent with the weather in Colorado this time of year is the inconsistency. This week has included snow, frigid evening temperatures, and the balmy 60+ degree day.

Dirty Dog

This swing in temperatures, however, can make an otherwise lovely hike through El Dorado Canyon become a rather monstruous battle between ice, snow, and Nelson’s love of chasing “the deers.” An otherwise lovely afternoon was interrupted by my foolish decision to let Mr. Willie Nelson Mandela off leash. He’s done fine before, normally running ahead and immediatley treking back at the first whistle. Rarely does he get out of my sight.

Dirty Dog

This week, however, he spotted some giant white tailed snacks and took off like a maniac for the hills. I spent no fewer than 15 minutes hyperventalating, calling his name, and cursing my stupid decision to let him roam free. Eventually, thankfully, he came back — but not after I’d gone 1/4 a mile off trail, through knee high snow in some spots, slippery mud in others, and up a steep mountain covered in tiny cactus.

Dirty Dog

I know. Snow. Cactus. Mud. Boulder County. What can I say? It’s a gloriously beautiful and weird place — those Flat Iron Mountains.

Dirty Dog

Dirty Dog

Thankfully, the little muddy beast came back fine, if not a bit shaken by the rare scolding. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he needed a bath afterward. (He’s currently sulking on the couch, curly and smelling of strawberry shampoo.)


Lessons learned: don’t let WNM off leash, bring a second pair of shoes this time of year, take more hikes. Even with the cleaning required after, it was so luxurious to be out in the sunshine, listening to the wind pour through the pines and watching that sweet little creature of mine adventure like he’d never before been let outside.



Bag for Tina

A former coworker turned 40 last week; the celebration gave me a much needed nudge to try Amy Butler’s charm clutch pattern.

Bag for Tina

I anticipate making many, many more of these with what I learned after the first go-round — including one for me, with vintage trim I tucked away for the perfect project.



A Repurposed Wedding Craft

Kara emailed me a couple of months ago. In preparation for her fall wedding, she’d altered her mom’s wedding gown and had some fabric leftover. Could I do something with the fabric? Say, whip up a few flower clips for the wedding party’s hair? Oh, and a small pin for her male bridesdude.

For Kara's Wedding

It took a bit of research, but I finally found and used this great tutorial. Deciding what to use for the center button was the biggest challenge. I finally picked mother of pearl buttons and silver starfish. I thought they complimented the cream color of the fabric and looked polished together.

For Kara's Wedding

Using Goody hair clips, a bit of heavy pink felt and hot glue, voila — project completed.

For Kara's Wedding

For Kara's Wedding

Nothing makes me happier than repurposing materials, especially for a friend’s big day! Plus, how sweet is it that Kara’s wearing her mama’s gown? Love that.

Good luck Kara and Ryan! Wishing you a life of happiness!



8: Advent

8: Advent

A knit cap for a certain Steelers fan I am friends with. My recent knitting binge has been fueled by my discovery of Damages. Have you heard of this show? Glenn Close has never been better. I absolutely loved season one and two. It is so smart, sneaky and well done. It is also great background noise when you are busting through a spreadsheet of handmade gifts you intend to create.

Blessing for day 8: Netflix. I’ve learned so much this year from the variety of shows I’ve been able to see. I truly love this service.