Blog Archive for July, 2009

Hi everybody. Sorry it’s been quiet over here this week – a bout of the flu has kept me from accomplishing much. Before said flu struck, though, I had a great visit with my brother who was visiting from Wisconsin for his birthday. Every time he comes to visit, there are a few special things he likes to do. One is get up early and go around the corner to Arizmendi for fresh pastries. Another is to visit the Tourist Club in Muir Woods.

Nestled into a ravine in the woods, The Tourist Club is one of those little gems that you could pass by for years and never know about. It is marked only by a tiny sign that indicates a dirt road which leads to a gravel lot where you can park before heading down the 1/2 mile walking path that leads to the club. The first time I went – tipped off by a friend who specializes in hidden gems – I was dubious at best until we neared the end of the trail, and the Swiss chalet-style Inn emerged from the clearing.

The Club was built in 1914 as part of the Nature Friends organization, which was started in Austria in 1895. The Nature Friends wanted to encourage people to enjoy and study nature, and set out to create a network of clubs worldwide where members could stay (very affordably) and enjoy the mountains, keeping them free for all – or “Berg Frei”, their motto. In order to do this, members pay a small yearly due and commit to working in the club a certain number of days and helping with festivals. Pretty cool.

Even if you’re not a member, though, you can visit on the weekends (between 1 and 6pm, except the 2nd weekend of the month), and after a long hike, there’s nothing quite like one of their cold German beers and a perch overlooking the woods.

My nieces tried to appear as “unattended” as possible, in hopes of getting the puppy (not so excited about the espresso, though.)

We also fit in a little hiking near Stinson Beach, and it turned out to be a perfect day. Some of the many reasons I love living here…

Remember back in May when I said I was going to make quilts for all of the new babies that my friends have brought into the world recently? Well. I got one done. Still have three to go. So before these babes enter high school, I’m going to dust off the Singer and get back to quilting. I’m thinking of using these fabrics:

I’ll post ’em when I’m finished.

Also, I’ve been interested in the word “craft” lately and the connotations it has. For years, the idea of crafts was not held in high esteem. There was much derision of seed art, macaroni sculpture and yarn paintings. If you live in the bay area, you probably know that the California College of Arts and Crafts dropped the “Crafts” a few years back. At the time, I assumed it was an attempt to distance itself from the image of nannies bending over their tatting, but in fact the president insisted it was to enfold contemporary craft into the realm of higher Art. Personally, I don’t differentiate much between art and craft – there’s way too much crossover – which may be what the CCA president was getting at. But recently, I’ve noticed people using the words craft, crafty and crafter as a badge of honor. It’s suddenly very cool. Does the word “craft” hold a particular charge for you, and if so, is it positive or negative? Has it changed lately? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

summer food


My friend Kristina threw a summer bbq this weekend, and asked us all to bring a dish that reminded us of summers when we were kids. Dave and I started thinking about it last week, and quickly came up with a long list – peach cobbler, basil pesto, deviled eggs, summer squash, corn on the cob, watermelon, zucchini bread… I couldn’t narrow it down to just one dish.

My mom grew up in Kentucky, and I remember summer trips to visit her family – my great aunts, mostly – and the huge spreads they would lay out. Lunches always involved as little cooking as possible (because it was too hot to cook) and usually consisted of cold cuts and bean salad, deviled eggs, rolls, pie and always iced tea. Dinners were another matter, usually ham or fried chicken and every summer vegetable you could think of. And more rolls. And iced tea. Though we didn’t visit that often, those meals remain some of my clearest memories of summer food. What are your favorite nostalgic summer foods?

We finally decided to bring 3 dishes – classic deviled eggs, peach cobbler and a watermelon salad that is a more adult version than I remember from childhood (it has a little rum and cayenne pepper). For the peach cobbler, I used a recipe from epicurious here, but I added an extra peach, a tablespoon of bourbon to the peach mixture, and a sprinkling of cinnamon on top.

For the deviled eggs, we started with 12 hard boiled eggs (it turns out you don’t want to use absolutely fresh eggs, as they’re harder to peel. They should be 5 days old or more. We got ours at the farmers market the day before, and peeling them was a nightmare). Cut them in half lengthwise, removing the yolks and transferring to a small bowl. Mash the yolks with a fork until smooth, and then add:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2+ tsp. yellow mustard
1 1/2 tsp. champagne vinegar
1+ tsp. horseradish
1 pickle, minced fine
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Fill the eggs with a spoon or with a pastry (or plastic) bag and decorating tip. Sprinkle with paprika (or in our case, chili powder, since we were out of paprika. It’s coarser, but adds a nice zing).

The watermelon salad is a combination of a more classic salad with mint and feta, and a Mexican watermelon salad that a friend used to make. We started with a small watermelon cut into 1″ cubes and added this:

6 oz. feta cheese
1 bunch mint
2 Tbsp.+ rum
cayenne pepper to taste
salt and sugar to taste

Kristina’s bit of nostalgia – along with all the other fabulous dishes she made – were German kuchen that her dad used to make when we were kids. She and I grew up just a few houses apart in Minneapolis, and her dad would regularly make these little German cakes – sort of pastry pizzas with vanilla custard and fruits (apricots, prunes and green grapes were the usual varieties) – and deliver them to the neighbors. I hadn’t had one since I was about 14, and it was definitely a treat to taste them again.

It turned out to be a perfect summer Sunday, and a great party!

I’m heading out to the Renegade Craft Fair at Fort Mason this weekend. If you’re in the Bay Area, check it out! Lot’s of indie designers, d.i.y. projects, Chronicle book authors and stuff to do, plus it’s free! And aren’t these graphics awesome?

Happy Monday, everybody! Cynthia over at Fabricworm is celebrating her first year of business by having a great fabric giveaway. She’ll be doing a random drawing, and you have until Sunday July 19th to get your entries in. Prizes include a 1/2 yard set of Patty Young’s Mezzanine collection, a holiday fat quarter set and Heather Ross Mendocino scraps. Check it out here.

Also, you may have noticed that things have been a bit quiet on the monaluna blog lately. I’ve been busy! And one of the projects I’m working on is a new line of prints for Fabricworm’s new manufacturing division, Birch Fabrics. The prints were just sent off, so I can’t show anything yet, but we’re hoping to see strike-offs soon. They’re going to be printed on 100% organic cotton, too!



I was flipping through magazines at the bookstore the other day, and I came across an article on Denyse Schmidt in Art Quilting Studio. As always, I was totally inspired by her work, and had to spring for the magazine. Now I’m drooling over it, thinking I may need to trade in the baby quilts for a full-sized arty one.
I first came across one of Denyse Schmidt’s quilts in a Soho shop in the late 90’s. I was very familiar with traditional quilting, but her work made me look at quilting in a whole new light. Her quilts were like modern art rendered in the tactile mediums of cloth and thread, somehow homey and incredibly chic at the same time. A couple weeks later, I sewed my first quilt, a tame and fairly traditional blue and white patchwork for friends who were getting married in Greece. Then I started experimenting a bit with my own shapes and patterns, and I started using shantung silk instead of cotton (goregeous and colorful, but totally impractical).
It’s been years now since I’ve made the time to work on a real quilt, but after reading this article, I think I’m going to have to break out the scrap box and start one.

Oh – and on another note, one of the other magazines I picked up – Mark Lipinski’s Quilter’s Home – featured a spread on my Metro Market fabrics! I bought that one, too.

Remember back in March when we planted those cute little tomato plants? They were so small and unassuming, and fit so nicely in our little garden.

Well. Now they are the tomatoes-about-to-eat-the-house. They’re huge! And growing. And they have dozens of little green tomatoes hiding under the leaves. I’m waiting with bated breath for a couple more weeks of sunny days and fresh tomato salad. I had to tie up the wayward branches this morning so they wouldn’t droop to the ground under the weight of all those capreses-to-be. We have 3 kinds: June Pink (which was supposed to be the earliest, but which hasn’t done much yet), Cherokee purple (my favorite from last year) and Mr. Stripey, which I’ve never grown before but which literally has about 50 baby tomatoes on it right now. Plus a volunteer Sun Gold that must have re-seeded itself from last year’s plant. Yum!

And speaking of gardens, here are a couple garden-related prints I’m working on…

happy 4th!


Have a safe and happy 4th of July weekend! I was just listening to a very cool program on making your own fireworks on Science Friday… they had some fun – if not entirely safe – ideas. And lots of chemistry lessons, too. Here are a couple related videos:

Our friends Jon and Dana just sent us photos of their beautiful baby Ellison on her new monaluna quilt. Thought I’d share… isn’t she cute??

photos by Dana Charette

This past weekend I was in Denver for the first time for a wedding. The first day we were there, my sister-in-law, who was putting us up, took us up to Boulder for a hike. The drive was gorgeous, but by the time we got to the mountains, it started to pour. Defeated, we went in search of a sandwich shop, and found instead Purl Knit Cafe. A combination yarn shop and cafe, this place serves as a spot for locals to get together and knit and chat. What a great idea!

Although I’m just a beginning knitter, I fell in love with the yarns and ended up buying some highly textured bamboo/cotton yarn that looks almost like strings of beads. It’s gorgeous, but I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. Any suggestions?

The wedding itself was in downtown Denver, and the rehearsal dinner was at a modern Mexican restaurant called Tamayo, which served some of the best margaritas I’ve ever had. Dinner was served on the rooftop patio, where we could enjoy the view of the mountains and the sunset.

Finally, being at a wedding so shortly after the death of Michael Jackson really underscored for me how important his music was. The moment that the dj played the first few notes of “Billy Jean” the dance floor went crazy. However strange he became in recent(er) years, his contribution was enormous. Thanks, Mr. Jackson.