Running With Gratitude

Or, How to Organize Your Own Turkey Trot

Our Turkey Trot, the Mahalo 5k

Over the years, the boys and I have run a few Turkey Trots together... up at the crack of dawn, well over $100 later and sporting ill-fitting, ugly t-shirts we launch ourselves into a crowded sea of strangers for a 3.1 mile run for the homeless/hungry/you-name-the-cause. And we love it. But this year, it just seemed a bit excessive. We can't justify the expense regardless how worthy the cause, and the logistics also seemed less desirable when I factored in Thanksgiving prep and party time.

So we went rogue.

To replace the traditional "Thank You" run, we came up with the Mahalo 5k, a 3.1 mile run loosely organized for our friends and family. It was aptly named by one of my twins, as mahalo means "thank you" in Hawaiian. More than that, it's a sacred word that conveys the essence of gratitude, respect, and esteem. The island spirit has definitely influenced our family-- Kauai is like kin to us and long ago we adopted "mahalo" as our simple mealtime blessing.


1. The Concept: Invite friends and family of all ages to join us for a 5k run/walk. The course would begin and end at our house, and avoid major intersections. Everyone brings their own water to drink, as well as canned goods for the San Diego Food Bank.

2.The Identity: Because I treat every event I host as an opportunity to play with my graphic design hackery, I had to create an identity for the race. Even if we didn't get t-shirts, I wanted to convey the cheerful spirit of our race, our community and our geography. On request though, I gave the local shirt shop our design and invited participants to print shirts on their own.

3. The Course(s): Since a number of my friends rock the road with their kids in tow I created an alternate Stroller Course that sticks to the sidewalks. For the rest of us, I mapped a mixed terrain course with a tough climb near the end. I printed a copy of each course and slipped them into plastic sleeves for day-of viewing.

3. The Invites: I really dislike Evite and think that emails with PDFs don't get opened as quickly, so I caved in and used Facebook events and invited only a smallish number of close friends. I wanted to keep it manageable, and it worked like a charm.


4. The Logistics: The race was free, and we just asked that everyone bring donations for the food bank. An RSVP was requested, but I didn't turn down any last minute joiners. We identified key points along the route that may need signage to keep everyone on track and the night before the race I took the boys on a stealth mission with headlamps, flashlights, tape, signage, a bucket of a chalk and a deadblow hammer. We graffitied the sidewalks with arrows and messages like ""Let's Do This" or "I'm thankful for__________" and "Don't Give Up!". That morning we did a quick tour of the course to make sure the signs were still up and visible. My man had the role of race official and gave us the offical countdown to start, followed by some race recon via mountain bike.

BONUS?  Local runners got to see our handiwork and maybe, just maybe, felt an extra spring in their step that morning.

5. The Refreshments: At the last minute I decided to offer some post race fare, so that morning I cut up a bag of oranges into wedges and bananas into halves, and brewed a couple pots of coffee into thermos carafes. We had one big water jug on hand, and our friends ended up bringing bagels, lox, cream cheese and donuts. There was much debate on Facebook as to whether this would defeat the purpose of the run, but I didn't hear anyone complaining...


6. The Impact: We took a baby step into social activism. I was able to rope my kids into the organizing and planning of the event, and in the process they learned about community, connection, event logistics, and hunger relief. 10 familes with 20 kids and two canines gathered to run/walk 3.1 miles for a healthy, fun start to Thanksgiving weekend. On the run we actually took our own cue and shared a few things we were grateful for--humor, chocolate, stargazing, a sense of smell, ocean views, friends and each other. We gathered bags of groceries for the local food bank and cheered each other on during what turned out to be a scorching, hot day in San Diego. After the race, the boys and I dropped off the donations and discussed all the good things that came from our little 5k.


Into the Wild + Quinoa Johnny Cakes

IMG_5213 We returned yesterday from a sweet weekend getaway to the mountain town of Julian, CA. Lucky to have acres to roam and a Quonset hut to nest, these family escapes are more rare now as we are scheduled to the stars with sports and other commitments. The property is not ours per se, but belongs to my family, and we have been adventuring there for nearly 10 years now.

I'll be honest. We're not exactly roughing it. I packed our SUV to the gills with the following... paint, glue, yarn, scissors, markers, paper, leather Motorola radios ("walkie talkies") pink ski vest + Uggs books + magazines my camera big straw hat scooters + helmuts cooler, dry goods, sparkling water, spices Bose sound dock a bottle of pinot plastic eggs + chocolate + goofy glasses

As I closed the back of the truck, I thought it might be possible that I've simply outgrown camping.


I let go of email and running, and turned instead to hiking, cooking, reading, gathering, making. We crafted swords and slingshots, I collected feathers and daffodils. We ate True Food Kitchen's quinoa Johnny Cakes and I baked Spanish chicken with onion, potatoes and spicy sausage. We dyed eggs with beets, red onions and turmeric, and huddled together on a loveseat in front of the tiniest TV screen for a Friday night movie. I was up at daybreak each morning, and heard the call of the turkeys as I hid eggs on Easter Sunday. Later that day we packed up the truck and gave a heavy sigh, with the promise to return soon.


Quinoa Johnny Cakes

My go-to dessert dish when I brunch at True Food Kitchen with my lady gals. Barely adapted from Dr. Andrew Weil's True Food Cookbook


2 cups cooked quinoa

2 cups whole wheat pasty flour

1/4 cup sugar (evaporated cane or white)

2 tbs plus 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch of sea salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 cups whole milk

4 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

orange zest

1/2 tsp olive oil

pat of butter


ripe banana, apples, or blueberries

Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla)

maple syrup


1. Make quinoa. (HOT TIP: If like me, you normally add some savory "better than bouillon" flavor to your quinoa, skip it if you plan to use leftovers for these Johnny Cakes).

2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Whisk well to combine. In another large bowl, combine the milk, eggs, vanilla, orange zest, and oil and whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and blend until just combined. Fold in the cooked quinoa taking care not to overmix. Let the batter rest for at least 1 hour.

3. Lightly brush the cooking surface of a nonstick pan or griddle with butter. Ladle about 1/3 cup of the batter onto the hot pan. Drop banana slices, thin apple slices, or 8 to 10 blueberries on top of each pancake. When bubbles form in the batter, flip and cook on the other side until

lightly browned. Continue with the remaining batter and choice of fruit.

Serve topped with a dollop of yogurt and maple syrup on the side.


Wish List

One of my favorite keepsakes each year is the completed Wish List from each of my boys. First, they needed to be old enough to write. Now they are of the age where they like to "research" products online.  I especially like such request as "pillow," "shirts" and "pears and apples," as it lends credibility that at times my children appear as Dickensian orphans: shirtless, bedheaded, hungry. Let us take special note of the detail in "Candy Canes (10)" or the vagueness, in a wish for a "surprise."  Either way, such lists represent a time capsule of our lives, their dreams, this moment.

This year, I created a printable PDF for you to download. Click here for your own WishListTemplate.

Mother Magpie's

I am super happy for my mom, she is starting her own business called Mother Magpie's--it's a funky mix of her vintage treasures and DIY handiwork. I got the fabulous job of designing her logo, business cards and signage. We did a large rubber stamp that she can use on manila shipping tags, and the next item up for design is a banner.When searching for the perfect shipping tag image I came across this gorgeous site! It's called Olive Manna - Textiles & Paper Goods. I think I'm in love...go check it out yourself.

Getting Ready for Screenprinting at StudioWorks

I can't believe it's been a year since I was last at my first screenprinting workshop at Visual Asylum. I'm back at it again this Friday night for an open studio. Amy said I could use the 4-color press (AWESOME!) and so I busted out my newest design--inspired by the one and only Tim Gunn. I'm obsessed with school craft supplies and I've sketched the Elmer's glue bottle more than once. Practical, chic, fresh, timeless.

Book Studio

This past weekend when the Mister was in Vegas, the boys and I set up a little book making studio in the dining room, and went to work on storyboarding their mini blank board books. I had them sketch out their story ideas with pencil on butcher paper, then use Sharpies and design markers on the final product. Beck made a book about dots, titled "The . Book" it chronicles all the ways you can use dots to draw pictures.

Max had a very detailed plan about what Monsters do...but by the time he got to implementing his design on the actual book, he was over it.

Hey Mr. Postman!

I love the magic of Christmas, no question. But what do I love even more? Valentine's Day! When I was on the school paper in junior high, one of the first articles assigned to me was the history of this heartfelt holiday. There are highly debated and dramatic stories about this holyday's origin which include Christian martyrs, Greco-Roman fertility rites, and the Pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Somewhere around the time of Chaucer, Valentine's Day became the courtly tradition we have come to know as a Hallmark holiday. Sigh. Let's go back to the early 1900's when lovers sent each other handwritten poems on lace adorned notes. Too much to ask? Let's just go back to the days when we put pen to paper and signed our names with flair. Remember, sending a "heart" via Facebook does not count, and  texting is forbidden. Let Cupid's arrow fly....

Printmaking with Kids

While I am not inclined to take on such projects everyday, today was a holiday for us all as the boys were out of school and I was playing hooky. I absolutely love all things related to printmaking and had been waiting to dig into this EyeCanArt kit given to the boys on their 5th birthday. Yes, I waited until age 6, but it was worth it.

The monster designs were independently crafted by each of the boys, with some assistance on the cutting and overall strategy. We rocked this out in two stages (design-cut and glue, then print), and based on some of my project edits, we executed it a little bit different than the kit recommends. Mainly, this is due to the fact that I misplaced the proper papers included in the kit. {I stored them flat between books, and am baffled as to where they are.} It still worked with a tweak or two and was marvy for an inaugural attempt. {The main issue is that I used very thick tag board to build the design on, and more thick pieces for the design-including the soft foam sheets}.

I dug up some of the tools I had on hand for linocuts, including some super old orange speedball ink and a large brayer. This helped because we kept one brayer mainly for the ink, the other to burnish the image. I loved using the kraft paper for the boys images, as they were somewhat tribal in design and it made a nice contrast. Mine are ancient, from PaperSource, though I couldn't find them on their website just now.

Breakfast Nook

I guess I was on holiday most of August. Miss me? After popular demand (from my mom) I decided to share the images of my mini remodel. Unfortunately, I must have archived my photos of the kitchen as it was when we bought it. Grrr. It's so nice to have Before and Afters. I've held off long enough though and am sharing now. The paint is Decorator White, Premium by Behr and the table is from IKEA. This will have to do until I inherit a small fortune and can afford a real Saarinen. Sigh.

Our kitchen still sports a rockin' 80's tract home decor--complete with oak cabinets and (now) crumbling brown grout and oatmeal colored tile--but this little upgrade will inspire the rest of the re-do at a later date. In the meantime, I'm pleased as punch. I love this happy place and the boys eat breakfast there everyday while I make their lunches. Yay!

Special thanks to my dad for spending many a weekend building this out....

Art Kit by Truly Fine Design

I think some of the best gifts for kids include art supplies and books. The boys were recently invited to a birthday party for which I created an Art Kit as the bday prize. Kids have the most fun and allow their imaginations to wander when they are given access to random materials. So I included the following items:

  • Glue
  • Crayons
  • Construction Paper
  • White Paper
  • Blank Cards & Envelopes
  • Rainbow Selection of Pom Poms
  • Googly Eyes
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Neon Office Labels
  • Foam Sheets in 5 Colors

Interested? E-mail me. The combinations and price points are infinite!

I Heart You: The Art of the Screenprint

This is a little chronicle of my first attempt at silk screening. Last month I attended a workshop at Visual Asylum to create a two-color fine art print. I submitted my design in advance ("I Heart You" won over "Be Kind" on my Facebook Challenge) and the kind peeps at VA burned my screens in advance. I chose a bright, true red and a soft, dreamy blue. There was only one other student in the workshop--he chose brown and the same dreamy blue. His design went swimmingly with mine-"We all have a song" with a bird and a branch.

My very first print was PERFECT, then the blue ink got a little sticky...and, oh well, I created about 20 prints and they are full of charming little (and big flaws). It was SO great. I really loved it and can't wait to try it again. Near the end, we started to merge some of our designs and created some real gems.

Office Supply Stationery

I've mentioned before how much I love office supplies. The projects outlined in a Martha Stewart craft section also remind me of some found object/repurposed stationery by Stephanie from Phantom Limb and also ReduxPaper on Etsy. These are great projects for kids and are fun to personalize with souvenirs from trips (maps, menus, etc.). I'm also especially fond of this Measuring Tape Tape from the Museum of Useful Things. So fun on packages, lunch bags, notecards, book marks. I cut a strip for my work surface so that I can measure things in an instant. Finally, manila packaging tags are infinitely useful. Stock up at ULINE.


Design*Sponge rocks. I just discovered two totally cool concepts that I can actually implement without major $$$ outlay, tools or time.

#1. I'm going to use the myriad jars I've been hoarding to set up a little glass photo ensemble. Many thanks to Design*Sponge for this cool post.

#2. A perfect fit with my need for entryway overhauling and foyer fluff up. This little felt cutie is just right for the last minute miscellanea that always seems to be sitting on the floor in front of the door. Love the wallpaper...


Okay, I must get tuned into handmadeNATION, and buy the book I have been eye-ing and believe is available at the Museum Store for my employee discount price of less 30%. Rockin. This poster, available on Etsy, is illustrated by this fascinating artist/designer I found by perusing the 20x200 site. Her name is Kate Bingaman-Burt and she has a kick ass blog called What Did You Buy Today?. More about THIS content on See Sarah Spin. In the meantime, her illustrations complete this rad book by Faythe Levine which explores the DIY explosion and the "new wave of art, craft and design."

el baño

Hurrah! Short of some new accessories (that I hope to scrounge up from my own thrift collection) and some art, this little loo is complete. I did end up getting a Marimekko curtain, fresh off the truck from Crate & Barrel. It has a funky wood block inspired print in a really golden yellow hue. What a Happy Finnish Design! The towel hooks are from Cost Plus, a nice folk art woodsy piece made in India. The towels are cushy Egyptian cotton in a natural unbleached color, a steal of a set from Marshalls. I just cannot spend big bucks on things I know I can find cheap. High-Low. A lovely combo...


Looky Loo

This is our main bath, the loo, on 80's track home fever. On New Year's Day I finally had it with the cheap towel rack, old woodwork, and dirty off white paint job. I went to the garage and discovered some amazing unopened Behr exterior semi-gloss in Bitter Chocolate. Excellent choice! Why do I have this? Hmmm. The other color I had waiting in the wings was a beautiful bubble yum pink, originally intended for my office. Ummm. No. Best wait on this one. So I trucked on over to Home Depot and found Creek Bend. Nice....the bathroom is looking so ritzy now! To complete the look I must incorporate an element of whimsy and grapic fun. I found this fabulous Marimekko shower curtain at Crate & Barrel, towels at Target (in "sunshine"), and I'm still debating on the towel hooks--while I appreciate the homage to the Amish, the birds might be nice if I spray painted them dark brown...

North Park Craft Mafia-Holiday Hit List

While I was busy being cold in Minneapolis, Truly Fine Design made a guest appearance as swag in the goody bags for the North Park Craft Mafia Holiday Hit List event in Point Loma. This group of gals really rock the glue stick and I encourage you to check them out. I hope to join in the Valentine festivities in 2009, and maybe even get some prezzies finished up on the 16th.

Crafty Conspiracy Craft Night @ Filter - Dec. 16th!

Do you like to craft? Come craft with us on Tuesday, December 16th at Filter Coffee House in North Park! Get those last minute holiday gifts completed, or join in the group project. We'll be making some fun ornaments for the tree! Be there!

Tuesday, Dec. 16th
7 - 9 p.m.
Filter Coffee House
4096 30th St., San Diego - 92104

She's Crafty

I just returned from snow town--Minneapolis--where I spent a glorious 2.5 days in the company of friends, family, art and good food. I had the distinct pleasure of showing my Truly Fine wares at The Gale Mansion with other artists whose work I've grown up admiring. I also spent some quality BFF time shopping at Patina and Paper Source, and dining at Lucia's. The surprise hit of my weekend followed the Gale show, at the VFW in Uptown. "The Handmaiden's Present: Craftsmas" featured rockin' indie crafters with quirky humor and perky presentations. I'm so thrilled to have met Detroit's Queen Craftin' Bee, Stephanie of Phantom Limb and the Handmade Detroit collective. She introduced me to another cool chick, Angela, a co-founder of I Like You, a Minneapolis brick & morter featuring local artists. Our weekend culminated with great conversation and burgers at Bryant Lake Bowl, an MSP institution.