Blog Archive for October, 2009

Well, the move happened this last weekend, and though my life is a chaos of boxes, our house is beginning to feel like home. It feels really good. There are a million little details to take care of, including getting our internet set up (thank you, Starbucks wi-fi, for this update), but it feels like it’s coming together. It’s been really sad to move out of our old place – so much good stuff happened there, so much life – but as we dismantled the familiar spaces and boxed our belongings, I started to feel like I could let go. I’ll miss our spot right in the middle of things, I’ll miss our neighbors and our lemon tree and the Arizmendi pizza and bakery around the corner. I’ll miss the political statements posted regularly on the marquis of the Grand Lake Theater down the street, and the farmer’s market on Saturday. But I’m sure we’ll find a lot of new things to love in our new neighborhood. I’m looking forward to getting everything settled so we can start exploring our new city.
No photos today – I think the camera is still in a box somewhere – but I’ll post photos of the new place as soon as we get a little more settled in. I hope you’re all having a good week!

new home


I know it’s been reeeaaal quiet here at the monaluna blog lately. Here’s why: after much looking, Dave and I finally bought our first house! I’ve been complaining bitterly for months about how much time it takes to look for houses and go to open houses, but that was nothing compared to actually buying one. I’ve signed so many papers I developed a whole new signature, my usual semi-precise letters now a bumpy line with some loops and a squiggle. It’s going to be a huge change for us, and we’re both excited and a little freaked out. I’ve already been to 3 pet adoption events, even though I know we can’t really take any of them home until we actually move in this weekend.

Anyway, not much should change here at Monaluna, though it may be quieter for a bit while we get moved and situated, and then I’ll have a lot more room for photography and projects. There will also probably be a slightly more varied offering of DIY projects – I see lots of house and garden jobs in my near future… Speaking of, here’s a photo of what we were up to last weekend. I also learned to use a ginormous miter saw. Does anyone need a tutorial on putting up chair rail? That’s next up on my schedule.

I finally got samples of my new fabric collection for Robert Kaufman – Urban Blooms! It’s always exciting to get boxes in the mail with the new prints, and to see what they end up looking like – especially the color, which generally changes from the original colorways. This group was printed on cotton flannel… I think I’m going to make myself some pjs! If some of the prints look familiar, I blogged about a stationery group I was working on using some of the prints here. Here is a sampling of the new collection:

I’ve been lazy about making my bath scrubs lately, but I ran out of moisturizer this morning and I desperately needed something to counter the effects of all that Mexican sunshine. I mixed up what I think might be the yummiest yet: an orange brown sugar scrub. You can get all the ingredients at the grocery store (except maybe the orange essential oil, but that’s easy to find at coops, Whole Foods or natural food stores). It smells divine, and leaves your skin SO soft. Here’s the recipe:

Orange Brown Sugar Scrub
1 cup coarse brown sugar (I used a combination of brown and turbinado cane sugar from Trader Joes)
2 Tbsp. cocoa butter (warmed to liquid in a saucepan of water)
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1-2 Tbsp. apricot oil
2 tsp. honey
10 drops orange essential oil

fresh baked


all this chilly weather is making me want to bake bread… I only wish I had more time! I took this photo at our local farmer’s market – aren’t they pretty?

It’s definitely fall. October is usually pretty warm in Oakland, but the air has gotten really crisp, and the light is all golden. I love this time of year. One of the things I miss about the Midwest is that distinct change of season, but we do get it here – it’s just a bit quieter.

One of my favorite things about fall is the canning and preparing of the harvest. Since our garden is miniscule, we don’t really have much of a harvest, but some years we’ll end up with bags of pears or the last of the plums from the farmers’ market and make jam. Not this year. This October there’s way too much going on to take on extra canning projects, but we DID have a huge tomato harvest (as I’ve documented here), and all those lovely tomatoes have been hanging out on the counter, taunting me as I try to keep up with all the other things I’m supposed to be doing. Dave finally took matters into his own hands last night and made Nonni’s Sauce, the tomato sauce recipe that I learned from my mom, and she learned from my adopted Italian grandmother (actually a neighbor, but a very special person in our family), Nonni DiFlorentis. It was so nice to work into the night with the smell of cooking tomatoes and garlic and olive oil wafting in from the kitchen. The result is simple – it’s just three ingredients – but it is the most pure, sweet sauce I’ve had. We usually end up eating most of it spread on crusty bread with a sprinkling of sea salt. Here are the instructions, in case any of you have an abundance of tomatoes to use. I didn’t catch Dave in the act of making it this year, but I’ll include some photos of us making the sauce with my mom last year.

Nonni’s Sauce

tomatoes (at least a colander-full, as they will cook down a lot)
olive oil

To prepare tomatoes: boil a pot of water and drop tomatoes in carefully, leaving for a couple of seconds and removing with a slotted spoon. This part is a bit tricky, because you want to leave the tomatoes in just long enough for the skin to become easy to peel, but not so long as to make them mushy. The timing depends on the type and ripeness of the fruit, so start one at a time and test to see what your timing should be. Once all tomatoes have been dunked, peel and split in half, squeezing out any excess water and seeds into the sink.

Arrange the tomatoes in a frying or saucepan in one layer. Add fresh, peeled garlic. The specific quantity of garlic, as told to my mom by Nonni, is “one piece the size of your leetle finger tip” every inch. This is a bit loose, but I’d say adjust according to your taste. Then pour a healthy drizzling of olive oil over the tomatoes.

Cook, uncovered, over high heat until boiling, then lower heat and cook until all water evaporates and the tomatoes glisten with the olive oil. This can take a couple of hours (it took about 5 last night, but that was over low heat the whole time). Be very careful towards the end not to scorch the sauce.

Once the tomatoes have been cooked down, transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. At this point, you can add salt and pepper if you like, or just leave it as a sweet paste.

I just realized that I haven’t yet posted my new Circa 50 collection for Birch Fabrics! It’s high time. My friend Cynthia recently started her own fabric company, producing 100% organic cotton fabric printed with GOTS-approved dyes (yay, Cynthia!), and I was lucky enough to design her debut collection. It was a fun collection to work on, and I’m so excited to see the fabric, due out in March!