Beautiful Souls

In 2014, photographer Katie Gardner took some photos for me at Blogher for a project that never materialized. Our intent was to put together a book, but the resources to put that book together never showed up no matter how hard we tapped the Universe’s shoulder.

We saved the most beautiful photos of these women for this non-existent book and I think of them often, wishing they were being seen. If you want to think of this as a Mother’s Day thing, fine. Some of them are mothers. Some of them have mothers. But I’d rather think of them as what they are – Beautiful Souls who let us see inside for a moment. Some of them I’m lucky enough to call friends. (Some of them I don’t know. If you know someone that isn’t labeled yet, let me know? Thanks.)

Many thanks to the contributors of words for this project. You can see in the photos that these beautiful souls are listening to the brilliant poet Amy Turn Sharp and the heartwarming and irreverent words from Robin Plemmons.

Kelly Wickham

A’Driane Nieves

Jenifer Monroe

Alexandra Uman

Heather Barmore

Jeannine Harvey

Alexandra Williams

Martina Callum

Margaret Salmond

Crystal Hammond & friend.

Tara Wilson & Tiffany.

Julie Nowell & friend.


Sharelle D. Lowery & friend.



Allison Bailey

Marcella White Campbell


Margot Winters

Lucy Ball

Molley Mills

Angeline Longshore

Beeb Ashcroft

Mrs Elle G

Jamie Gall

Christy Newell


Superwife Jenny

Destiny Paquette

Anjum Choudhry Nayyar & friend.

Jindy Garfias

Colleen Cecil

Carly Morgan & Eden Hensley Silverstein

Claire Waring


Lexie Solorio

Phyllis Kim Myung

Cheryl Stober

Courtney Macavinta


Tara McNamara

Jill Adler

Jessica Cobb

Sarah Honey

Alice Toler


TerriAnn van Gosliga

Danielle D. Washington & friend.


Shannon Rosa

Stacey Nerdin

Kim Rohrer

Helen Laroche


Celeste Lindell

Jennifer P. Williams

Shanah Wisley

Ashley Garrett

Erica Dermer

Jen Myronuk

Raquel Fagan

Me and my daughter, Alex. <3 LeahAlexLaugh

Releasing Grief

WaterFigureI’ve had my fair share of grief over the years and when you have a real conversation with just about anyone, you realize they, too, have had theirs. We live on the surface so much of the time, nodding our heads hello and nice to see you, which is to be expected when we’re all surviving with our heads just above the surface.

I’ve learned that to release grief and move beyond it, you truly have to feel it. That can be scary. It can feel like you’re probably going to die. There are usually a lot of tears involved and sometimes kicking pillows or throwing rocks into the sea followed by deep, cavernous silences that go on forever and never reach the bottom of your soul, occasionally ticking the sides making an other-worldly clanging sound.

For me, now, it involves some kind of conversation with God. A lot of me telling Him why I’m feeling so sad and a lot of Him listening. What I love about my conversations with God is that he doesn’t try to just go and fix things. He listens. A lot. I feel Him there, empathizing with me. And that’s what I need. And after I’m all done going on and on, I listen to what He has to say. About 99% of the time, He just tells me He loves me and that I’m doing great.

I wrote an essay for Blogher this past week. It’s the first time I’ve really spoken about how devastating the end of my first marriage was. When your kids are young, you don’t want to add anything to the pain they themselves are experiencing. I tried never to speak ill of their father to them or around where they could hear. It was hard. There were some really rough years where things were very unfair and it would have felt great to unload on them. But even now I’m so glad I didn’t do that.

If I could add something here to the essay, it would be to caution those going through similar circumstances to consider how your children are feeling when you speak ill of their other parent. Remember, your kids are made of half of them.

Flawed but Authentic Party at Blogher ’14!

Come and find us, won’t you? You can find the details here.

We’d love to see you there!

We’ll have a portrait* studio set up, essential oils, hand-massages, wine, water with oils and herbs and awesomeness (in general). We’re collecting encouraging words for a special project for that night. Call and tell us yours!

Make an appointment to meet up at another time during the conference and get your portrait taken. (Available time slots can be found here.) All the portraits will be put online. Or go deeper into learning about essential oils. Or just hang out because we’re super fun! (And our room is going to smell amazing!)

*Our favorite portraits will be included in a book along with a short interview. (If you don’t want to be a part of the book project, that’s ok, too. We’d still love to see you and take your portrait.)

Colombia, Day One in Bogota

Day one in Colombia has been long but great. My red eye flight over was only 7 hours and I had a window seat. Unfortunately I was seated next to an elderly gentleman who couldn’t get out of the seat by himself to let me over to my seat. He at first expected me to just climb over his legs. I mean, have you seen how much leg room there is? None. After I said no about 6 times he finally called a flight attendant to help him get up so I could sit down. After a few hours we tried to make polite conversation with one another but his no English and my no Spanish got old after a few minutes. We went back to smiling and nodding.

After being picked up from the airport in Bogota, the first thing I noticed were the cars and how they really follow no rules while on the road. It’s kind of like – if it will fit in there, go ahead and go for it. They ride three or four wide in two lanes, maybe 2 inches away from each other, and honk at each other impatiently. After the first few near misses I kind of got used to it and relaxed. People cross right in front of cars going fast, get honked at and keep moving. There are motor bikes everywhere weaving in and out of all the cars. Cars turning left from the far right lane. It’s pretty exciting.

After lunch we went to the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia headquarters where we had the opportunity to watch some of their processes and how they quality control the coffee that gets exported. The Federation’s mission is to ensure the well-being of Colombian coffee growing families through an effective, not-for-profit, democratic, grassroots organization. The Federation has three main goals: to achieve a sustainable coffee culture, to strengthen community networks in coffee growing regions, and to promote Colombian coffee’s superior quality worldwide. The Federation guarantees growers the purchase of their coffee crop at a fair price and the growers vote directly for their representatives in the Federation.

Ivan Lamilla Munoz, a Quality Assurance Officer, was our tour guide.


He explained how the beans can taste different depending on which region they are grown in. The altitude, soil and humidity all make the bean have a particular taste.


He showed us the green Arabica coffee beans and demonstrated how the husks get removed.


Here he is showing us the filters that the coffee beans go through to separate them into like sizes.


We saw how they hand pick through the beans to remove the ones that are inferior.


And then we had a taste test. First we smelled the coffee grounds.


Then we stirred and smelled the grounds with the hot water releasing the aroma.


And then we tasted the four kinds and compared them to one another. (The way the professional tasters suck in the spoons of coffee with so much force sounds like a machine. My lame sucking in was nothing compared with theirs. And they spit better, too. I always had a little drool.)


No shocker that my favorite was the one that is exported to the United States. It has less acidity and a bolder flavor. I didn’t care for the ones with high acidity but apparently they are hot in China.


Did you know the roasting actually happens after export? I assumed they were roasted prior. And a darker roast is not used on great, flavorful beans because it would cover up the flavor. Usually the dark roasts are covering up some imperfection in the quality. This I did not know.

After the taste test, we watched a video with Santiago Echavarria R. of Public Affairs.


The video was all about Juan Valdez and how that marketing campaign has helped the Federation. Do you remember this commercial? (During the video, a woman in a smart blue skirt with pompadour hair came by the table and poured us a cup of coffee. As she did each pour she pulled the cup away, away, away from the carafe and then brought it back up again. It was quite remarkable.)

But the really great thing that the Federation does is put the money back into the lives of the 512,000 Cafeteros and their families. For more than eight decades the FNC has invested heavily in coffee growers’ life quality, and with the ongoing support of the Colombian government, has brought schools, roads, healthcare centers, aqueducts and electricity to Colombia’s coffee growing regions.


I Was A Wrangler At Blogher '07

Last year at Blogher, I commented on a distinct oogy feeling that permeated parts of the conference. This year, despite however much I was quietly alert for it, The Oogy did not appear. Blogher ’07 was fabulous and there was not one moment that the feeling wasn’t just loving, creative and supportive for everyone.* I spoke with Elisa on Sunday morning right before I left for my flight and asked her what she thought the difference was. She mentioned better internet access, better support through the hotel and services, better hotel in general (I don’t think anyone there last year has forgotten those charming rooms – yuck.), and a smaller jump in growth as opposed to last year when the growth rate was about double. I don’t think I had put all those components together, but I agreed with her instantly after she listed them. Congrats to Elisa, Lisa and Jory – the Co-founders of Blogher.

I got to meet Ree and have dinner with her the first night. I also met her mom and her daughters for a quick second. Wow, talk about adorable. Later, as Ree and I took a cab with Heather and Jessica to one of the cocktail parties, Ree looked mischievously at the cabbie and let out a burp like you have never smelled heard before. In fact, I think she might even win Heather and GEORGE! in one of their burping contests. It was THAT amazing. In the next cab on the way to the next cocktail party (I’m sure typing cock a lot today) Ree sang out one of her Ethel Merman specials (did you know she once did a Leahpeah Burp special just for lil’ol me?) and I swear that cabbie wanted to just dump us at the closest corner to get us out of the car. I think but I’m not sure because we were all laughing so hard. We demoed the new Wii game called Boogie at the Imperfect Parent Soiree. You can see what a great dancer Jessica is here.

BlogHer is like Disneyland (I don’t really like Disneyland, but you know what I mean, right?) for people like me that like to actually meet and interact with other virtual people. So many of the panels were wonderful and informative. I enjoyed meeting or re-meeting everyone there. Which brings us to my panel on Saturday, (did you enjoy that sweeping fast-forward through an entire day and a night and a morning?), The Art of Crafts. This panel would not have happened if Grace hadn’t suggested it to me. And if Natalie hadn’t asked Fred for Amy’s email. And Fred hadn’t decided he could trust me. And if certain unnamed people hadn’t vouched for me. And if Amy hadn’t said yes. Thanks, Universe.

The panel went great. I think I enjoyed it so much because of the great mix of women, all with their own strengths. Kristin Roach is fantastic. I wanted her for the panel so bad because she has this innate sense of sustainability in her work that is so important to me. As someone mentioned, waste is everywhere and it’s heartbreaking to see all the waste we generated at the conference when Chicago doesn’t even have a recycling program to help minimize the impact. Kristin reuses some of her grandma’s craft bits and reclaimed items from the thrift shop to make new items and it’s just inspiring. She hand-dyes yarn and sells kits to support her other projects so if you are in to that kind of thing, check it out. It’s beautiful, yummy stuff.

Natalie Zee Drieu was wonderful on the panel. She has this great over-arching perspective on the crafting community because of her position with Craft. She’s privy to the cool peeps and the hot links. (now I sound like a rapper.) She started an entry here at the Craftzine blog for anyone wanting to continue the conversation or people looking for great links or wanting to link to their own crafts. It was a little tricky for me to find the free registration, so in case you have any issues, sign up here to create a free account so you can comment. Nat has a huge Flickr set here, some images which have a story I’m sure I don’t remember. Thanks, free Oops! wine and Helenjane!

It was a real pleasure to talk with Natalie. She invited me to come along to have cocktails (see? again!) with herself, Kristen and Chloe Dao, winner of Project Runway Season 2. Chloe and Natalie were talking high fashion during which I got lost a few times because high fashion? I think I don’t own any. (although Kristin made her awesome dress, which I think is pretty high fashion.) But I still loved listening and learning new things. Chloe was very sweet and told me the behind secrets including things about my beloved Tim Gunn. I still do the best impression of him you’ve ever seen. Seriously.

Kathy Cano Murillo was adorable. I had no idea I would like her so much because due to an unfortunate hot knife accident, she missed our conference call a few weeks ago. So, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I guess if I had to summarize her, I’d say she’s Glitterific. She’s one busy lady, what with her new product line with Duncan, her writing and crafting and her TV appearances. I’m so glad she found the time to come. (side note, I found out she’s friends with Laurie Notaro. Hi, Laurie!) Kathy’s heart is as pure as gold and she deserves all the success she’s reaping.

And then there is Amy. Amy Sedaris. I don’t even know what to tell you guys about her. I knew she would be funny as hell because I think she can’t help it. She has too much organic Jerry Blank in her blood not to be completely inappropriate and hysterical. But, I really didn’t know before hand just how smart, charming, kind, warm and authentic she is. At one point at the cocktail (16 times now, is it?) party, as the 8th person asked her to call a loved one and say something insane to their cousin Bill, I marveled at her ability to just keep being amenable and gracious. I asked her at dinner how she keeps her composure and if it wears on her and she said, quite genuinely, that it’s fine and she enjoys it. She said her fans are nice, not usually scary, and that she appreciates them appreciating her. She said it so much better than I just did, but you get the point. And smart. She knows what she wants and figures out how to make it happen. I guess you have to be super smart to get where she is and I should have figured, but something about her disarming public persona makes it hard to see sometimes. And authentic. She really and truly loves crafting and crafters and wants to support them. Yes, some of her crafts are on the silly side and she does some fun re-packaging of other products and puts her label on them, but she puts her love in to each and every thing she does, silly or not. I’m so happy to have met her. I can honestly say I enjoyed every second with her and that is kind of a rarity. Even as we were straight-faced lying as we waited for the shuttle to some really nice gentleman about how we grew up together in a small town cul-de-sac and how we’d been best friends forever and even when she dumped about a gallon of perfume on halfway through the book signing and blamed it on me and even when she yelled out CHING-CHONG to a Japanese lady and even when she made me take $40 for helping to sell all her awesome crap at the table – it was great. When I took this photo, (one of only about 6 I took the entire conference), Amy had just finished making a Bean Burrito (which she describes making in the podcast linked below and which she gave me as a gift when we left.) and she took the extra hose piece and slipped it on her hand. For the next few minutes she was just talking and gesturing with her hand to people as they came to the table as if it wasn’t even there and it was SO funny. She turned to me and said, ‘About that web stuff!’

The very nice Jennifer of Craftsanity made a podcast of our panel. You can listen here. And thanks to Suebob for being our great mic runner. Man, I was so glad to see her when I walked in the room. I knew I wouldn’t have to stress or do a lot of making sure she knew what I wanted before hand. It’s like she can read my mind.

There is lots more. I have no idea if I’ll write about it or not. I might be bloghered out. But thanks to everyone who came up and said hi to me. Leave a comment and say hi again so I’ll have your URLs. It might be days before I unpack and find all the business cards.

ps. links mentioned in the podcast:
– my craft trading site at
– Andrea’s jewelry from
creative commons

pps – the latest issue of Craft, Issue 4 shown here at the top, has my candle making article in it.

*Updated to add – I guess I missed the oogy and I misspoke. I should have said “there was not one moment that the feeling wasn’t just loving, creative and supportive for me.”

Updated again to add – Ariel from Electrolicious liveblogged our panel.

Me, in 10 Second. Oh, and Bye.

Big Reunion! Parent’s 50th! 12 Hour Drive! Getting Up at 6am! Hot, Hot, Dry, Dry Utah! Not Really Packed Yet!

See you next week. In the meantime, if you get bored, here’s some of my favorite entries.

Also, because I love MochaMomma, here I am in 10 seconds, since that is really all the time I have. And, if you think it sounds like something I would have written for a bio or book jacket, it’s because I have. (recycle, reuse!)

Leah Peterson is a freelance writer, photographer, artist and crafter. Leah is lactose intolerant, allergic to soymilk, afraid of non-dairy creamers and hoping to find something to add to her coffee besides rice milk, which she finds too sweet.


Leah Peterson is a freelance and sometimes professional writer, photographer, artist and crafter. She is a compulsive starter-upper and now hosts two reading series, a craft-trading site and a blogger network. Leah also believes in sustainability, conserving resources and is herself made from 100% recycled material.

Read about Me in 10 Seconds! here.

Lastly, keep checking the Alpha Mom site for new interviews! There should be a new one every day. Countdown to Blogher ’07!

Alphamom Interviews

Last year at Blogher I did a number of video interviews for Alpha Mom TV. Prior to now, the one with Arianna Huffington was the only one available. But now that the new and improved Alpha Mom website has launched (complete with product ratings and baby names and Isabel’s own column!) they are being launched one per day until Blogher ’07 in Chicago.

The one released today is the adorable and smart Amy Storch from Amy talks about infertility, getting close to losing it with Noah one day and asks a question of you.

Let Me Tell You

Let me tell you a little story: The last post I did? I actually posted it a week ago but it was somehow set to PRIVATE and I didn’t know it and then I realized it and then I marked it PUBLIC and now you can see it. Cool story, huh? There is no moral or arc. You’ll just have to get over it and accept it for what it is, whatever that is.

Let me tell you a big secret: I’ve gained 15 pounds in the past 2 years. Add that to the 20 pounds I gained when my thyroid started going out 4 years ago and the gazillion pounds I gained on medications for 6 years and you’re talking about a-LOT-o weight. And now I look like this. I look at that person and can’t believe it’s me. I don’t feel like that on the inside but I sure do feel like that when I get on the treadmill. I can’t exercise more than about 20 minutes without getting so sleepy, achy and wiped out that I don’t move for the next 12 hours. The doctor said that within 7-8 weeks on the higher thyroid dose I will start to feel an improvement and be able to workout longer. ‘What a relief’ said my knees. She also said my appetite should improve once my body starts functioning again like a real person and that I would actually GET HUNGRY and then WANT TO EAT and that in so doing I would LOSE WEIGHT because I would have energy to MOVE MY BODY. She also told me that I will have a harder time because I used to have eating disorders. And also not to get pregnant for the next two years. (SADFACE)

Let me tell you a little something about time management: I have three large boxes with approximately 447 photos to scan and crop and resize and put on disks for my entire family before the reunion later this month. I have had these images since last July and have not cracked them open or done a little scanning each day to cut down on the overall effort. After the reunion is Blogher and I’m supposed to have some really funny and entertaining things to say. Who thinks I can do it?

Let me tell you a very short sentence about moving boxes: STILL THERE.

Let me tell you about my kids: They stayed here for 9 days. Now they are at their dad’s for 10. And then they’ll be back for 5 and then at his for etc. etc. and on through August. You ask, Do they like it? Are they sad they have to do 50/50 time? And I answer you with the only measuring sticks I have available –

  • Alex said she hopes we stay in this house until she graduates in 2 years and also that she likes being able to be here whenever she wants. I think my curfew for her is 30 minutes later than her dad’s. Is that bribery? I wasn’t aware of it before hand so I must vote no. But it doesn’t hurt.
  • Ty trusts me to get him to his daily practices and games on time and prepared with the necessary sport accessories. His face no longer looks strained or worried an hour before we leave. He called this house his Home at least 3 times in phone conversations that I overheard.
  • Tony’s room is as messy over here as at his dad’s. He does not put clothes in the hamper or away in his drawers. He also makes snacks at midnight and doesn’t clean up after himself. I’m taking all these things as signs that he is as comfortable here as there.

Let me tell you a tiny nerd anecdote:
Tony’s friend came over and asked if we had the Pink Floyd movie, The Wall. I told him he could check the shelves. He asked where it might be and I told him they were in alphabetical order. He breathed out, ‘Coooool!’

Let me tell you a post script: LA Angst is coming up on July 11th! Reader spaces are filling up quick this time if I believe the 17 people that told me they want to read. Get off the fence, duckies! I only have room for seven six more of you.