Blog Archive for April, 2009

The photos aren’t great. In fact, I spent a good bit of the trip down cursing the camera because it has this really annoying delay between the moment you click the button and the moment it actually gets around to snapping the photo, which definitely doesn’t help when you’re trying to take photos out of the car window at 70 mph. I played with the shutter speed and various other settings, but couldn’t get it to respond very well. I’ve decided our camera is just a bit lazy. But still, the trip down to Paso Robles was beautiful and just what I needed. Sometimes even a really short trip out of town can give you a new perspective and appreciation for life.

Most of the country between here and there is agricultural flats and rolling green hills, but by the time we neared Paso Robles, we started to see vineyards and orchards, and the land got noticeably drier. The trip was a bit spur-of-the-moment, and by the time we got around to booking a hotel, there wasn’t much available (all the rooms were booked due to the balloon festival, apparently a huge draw. Who knew?). We ended up booking a room at a place called The Country House Inn in Templeton, just south of Paso Robles, and it turned out to be one of those perfect gems that you stumble on when you’re not expecting much. Not that we had any good reason for low expectations, but we weren’t looking for anything fancy… just a reasonably comfortable bed. For less than the Holiday Inn, we stayed in this beautiful, historic Victorian house in a room with a window seat and a clawfoot tub, and french doors onto our own little deck overlooking a nicely landscaped yard. Diane, the owner, runs the place herself and cooked up a delicious breakfast for us in the morning. I highly recommend it if you’re going to be near Paso Robles for a night.

On our way out of town on Saturday we stopped by Adelaida Cellers for a little wine tasting and found a new favorite. We’ll definitely be making another trip down soon! In the meantime, here’s a road trip in pictures…

road trip


I’m heading off on a road trip to sunny Paso Robles. I’ll be back on Monday with lots of photos and hopefully some good inspiration. Have a good weekend, everybody!

Happy Earth Day, everybody! It’s been a busy week here, and gorgeous out (for those of us who like it hot), so the blog has been a little neglected. But it’s spring, and you’re probably up to your eyeballs in projects anyway. Today I thought I’d share some fruity prints from a group I just finished … enjoy!



Dave and I are looking for a house. We’ve been “kinda” looking for some time, but have finally gotten a little more serious, as the closets become more and more packed with fabric and art supplies, and the, um, activity in the parking lot across the street gears up for summer. Also, my desire for a yard, a cat and a couple of chickens has become nearly uncontainable. Not too surprisingly, I’m attracted to the houses with more project potential (read: fixers), and my sane and gainfully employed husband just wants a nice, finished house.

A couple of days ago we walked into a house that basically needed to be re-built. From the outside, it was a lovely, two-story craftsman house, but the inside had been monkeyed with almost beyond recognition. It needed: garish plastic tiling removed from the living room floor and fireplace (!!!), cheap, stained carpet removed from the rest of the house and all floors redone, window woodwork replaced, bathroom redone, kitchen redone, walls removed, and a hideous addition on the back re-built. The two-car garage had been converted to a 5-room (again, !!!) mother-in-law, which we could also re-do to make a studio for me. Dave (the sane one) immediately blanched and headed for the door. I started dreaming of what it could look like with a couple hundred thousand dollars of work and two years of labor. If I could go back and choose a different career, I think I’d like to be a contractor.

We stumbled on one recently that’s a nice middle ground. Cute, sunny, livable, but with lots of smallish projects that could be taken on over time. It needs painting, and lots of landscaping (my favorite type of project), but that doesn’t require living with plaster dust or drop-cloths. It’s not huge, but the space is used well, and it’s in a pretty nice neighborhood. Unfortunately, every other house hunter in the bay area has also discovered it, so we have a slim chance, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

We had some friends in town from New York this weekend, and they came over to our place for dinner Friday night. It was just the excuse I needed to make this tablecloth that I’d had in mind, using the monaluna About Town foliage print. And I found some ranunculus that looked great with it!



Once again, Easter is almost here and I don’t have my act together. When I was a kid, my parents introduced my brother and me to the joys of Pysanky, or the art of Ukrainian easter eggs. Every year we’d break out the permanent dyes, beeswax and kistkas, the little tools you use to draw with the beeswax, blow out the egg yolks through little holes in each end and dip the eggs through a series of dye baths, similar to a batik process. Never mind that we’re not Ukrainian. I don’t even know where they learned about this craft, but they seamlessly incorporated it into our Easter tradition.

Sometime around my second year of college, I started to run out of time in the weeks leading up to Easter, and what was a multi-week process became a rushed afternoon of egg dying. More recently, it hasn’t happened at all, even though throughout the rest of the year I look forward to Easter and egg-dying. This year I really thought I might get around to figuring out where to buy the supplies in Oakland, but here it is, the Wednesday before Easter, and I don’t think it’s going to happen.

So imagine my joy when I stumbled on the booth of Lenka Glassner and her husband at the Oakland farmers’ market last weekend! Lenka makes beautiful dyed eggs in the Eastern European tradition, though her style hails from the Moravian region of the Czech Republic and is slightly different from the Ukrainian patterns I learned as a kid. Some look much more modern, with fruit and mushrooms and butterflies, but many have the traditional geometrics and floral patterns of Eastern Europe.

In addition to the eggs (chicken and larger goose eggs), Lenka also sells cards with beautiful photos of her works. In each card, she includes some history of the tradition. Here is what she has to say about it:
“Egg decorating is an ancient, yet surviving, Eastern European folk art. Hollowed, painted eggs are not just a symbol of Easter, they are used as a special gift to help celebrate the birth of a child, to wish a happy life to newlyweds, to send a get well wish to the sick, to exchange a message of love with friends and sweethearts, or to remind us of eternity, for the round shape of an egg has no beginning or end. Depending on the region, decoration techniques vary. Some create geometrical shapes on the eggs using melted bee’s wax, while others knit metal wire around the eggs. I use the etching technique of the Moravian region where my family originated. I am proud to continue this tradition, which allows me to stay connected to my ancestors.” Lenka Glassner.

Every morning I wake up to this gorgeous harmony of color that tops our bed. It was made by my dear friend Kirsten Jaglo, and given to us for our wedding a little over a year ago. I often find myself just staring at the colors and fabrics as I clear the sleep from my brain in the morning, marveling at the way one color flows into the next, punctuated with pops of pink and red.

The quilt itself is so beautiful, but that’s just the beginning. What’s truly amazing about this quilt is how Kirsten put so much of herself, and also our wedding story, into the quilt. Many of the fabrics were collected from her trips to places around the globe, particularly Indonesia and Africa. I’ve heard stories and seen photos of most of these trips, and I love the idea that pieces of our quilt came from there. Some of the pieces she even – get this! – hand-dyed for the quilt!

The quilting pattern itself is actually based on the queen anne’s lace graphic that we used for our wedding stationery, and on the back she attached a special quilt block that incorporates fabric transfer photos (thanks to her tech-savvy husband) – one of the three of us together, and one of our engagement, along with some words about our wedding. Really. You just can’t get a better memento than that. Thanks again, Special K!

The quilt top…

Stitching detail with our wedding graphic…

The quilt back.

The irony of this is not lost on me. I spent my entire adolescence trying to make sure that NO ONE read my diaries, and here I am, posting them on the internet for all to see. But hey, I was 8 years old in most of these entries, so there’s really nothing too earth shattering here, unless you’re particularly interested in what I had for breakfast on October 12, 1978. But the thing is, they are so amazing to read now. At least they are for me (and hopefully somewhat entertaining for you).

My dad gave me my first journal for my 8th birthday. I distinctly remember not totally understanding what it was for, this odd little book with blank pages. But then he showed me his, a much more serious-looking, large black book, and he showed me how he would write in the date and some notes about his thoughts or what was important about the day. Apparently I took to the medium, as I now have pages and pages of crayon, pencil and marker- written notes about the minutiae of my life as a kid in the ’70s.

I know in this age of internet and blogs and video games, a journal is probably not at the top of most kids’ wish lists. It wasn’t at the top of mine, either. But every once in a while when I’m looking for something else I’ll stumble across these little diaries and read a couple of pages, and it’s like having a little time machine that can transport me back to age 8. What a gift!

I’m pretty sure I didn’t know who Hubert Humphrey was at age 8, but apparently I was aware that he was important…

For the record, I now love The Little Prince. Thanks again, Sue (best 3rd grade teacher ever), for making me finish it.

(my poor brother, Josh, was all of 5 at this point.)

I still love Mary Cassatt…

Recently, I’ve noticed a lot of young kids selling fruit on the sidewalks of Oakland streets. Usually, I’m out for a long stroll with no cash, so I just smile and walk by, but the other day I happened to be driving when I passed a kid who looked about 14 sitting next to boxes and boxes of strawberries. I found a spot to stop the car and bounded up the street. When I asked for some strawberries, he smiled sweetly and asked if I’d like a full flat or half a flat. By that time, I was so excited about the strawberries that I didn’t want to walk away empty-handed, but in our household there are two people, and a 1/2 flat of strawberries is a lot! Anyway, I ended up with 6 pints of strawberries, and needed something to make with them. I first made this recipe about 10 years ago, and it makes a really nice – very sweet – strawberry liqueur.

strawberry brandy
3 cups sliced strawberries (about 1 lb.)
1 750 ml bottle brandy
1 1/2 cup fine sugar
1/2 cup water
other supplies: 1 very large or 2 large jars, sterilized (I used 2 1-qt. mason jars for the first step)

Step 1:
1. Sterilize jar/jars. To sterilize jars, set jars and lids in a cold oven and turn temperature to 250ยบ. Leave the jars in for about 1/2 hour.

2. Meanwhile, roughly chop strawberries, removing any bruised or damaged fruit.

3. Mix 1/2 cup water with 1 1/2 cup fine sugar in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.

4. Put the sliced strawberries in the jar (or jars – I divided the recipe evenly between two jars) and muddle slightly with a spoon. Pour in the sugar water mixture and the brandy and seal the jars. Shake well. Store in a cool dark spot (or the refrigerator) For 3 days, shaking at least once a day.

Step 2:
1. Sterilize sealable jars or bottles.

2. Strain the brandy through a fine seive to remove the large strawberry pieces. Then re-strain using cheesecloth or muslin.

3. Pour into the sterilized containers and seal. Store for 1 month before drinking.

Okay, I admit – I sampled a bit.