Blog Archive for February, 2010

oh, dear…

02/27

I really only intended to look. I haven’t bought any fabric since we moved here in November, and I thought I should check out the local shops and, you know, just see what they had. Well, I ended up leaving with a heavy bag of fabric and a significantly lighter pocketbook. The thing is, looking at all that lovely fabric I was reminded of a recent Film in the Fridge post, and decided that I needed a citrus-y spotted squares quilt like this one. ASAP. These colors feel so fresh and spring like to me, and they’ll go very nicely Little Bit’s newly painted room. So, I see I have some more quilting in my near future!

At long last, I’ve finally started working on a new website where you’ll be able to buy my new, self-produced organic fabric line, Monaco! I’ve been wanting to update my old site for ages, and now it’ll get a face-lift and a new function all at once. I’m hoping to have it up at www.monaluna.com in about a month, so stay tuned! Also, I got word from the mill yesterday that the printing process should be done in about a week or two, so that’s exciting too. I can’t wait to see the new prints!

I hate to sound like I’m gloating to those of you in still-cold climates, but the weather continues to be absolutely gorgeous here. I’m working on a couple new print collections, but decided I needed an inspiration-break yesterday, and went for a walk up to the ridge near our house. It’s incredible to see how much the landscape here changes here after a couple months of rain. What was a dry, golden hill last fall is this lush, green and blossoming pasture full, as I mentioned before, of cows. I’m not sure exactly how these images will filter themselves into my collections (would you guys buy cow-print fabrics?), but the walk cleared my head and left me feeling very happy to be here.

big dreams

02/17

I always wanted to be a landscape designer. The summer after college I moved home to my mom’s house, and, armed with my anthropology degree, zero knowledge of gardening and a suspicion that I should have studied horticulture, I proceeded to dig up all the grass around her house and transform every possible spot into a garden bed. Then I moved away, leaving her with the task of weeding and maintaining all the new plants. To this day, every time I’m home I have to devote a significant portion of my visit to garden work, unless, of course, it’s December. Then it’s just snow shoveling.

Now, finally, I have my own garden to play around in. The problem is I’m still as over-ambitious as I was after college, only now with way too many other things to do. Spring really sprang last weekend, and Dave and I spent a lot of time in the yard trying to figure out what we want to do with it. It was the first warm and sunny weekend in months (probably 65 or 70! Sorry, midwesterners…) and everybody seemed to have the same idea. We wandered around, took measurements, talked about our long-term goals (yes, new Monaluna studio!!) and dreamed. Finally, we sketched up our ideas and drew out an amateur garden plan. Here’s what we have in mind:

It’s pretty ambitious, especially since we’re hoping to do it all ourselves (of course). And here’s what our garden looks like now:

Yeah. We have a really, really long way to go. Ah, well – it’s the journey, right?

Wow – what a week! I have to admit, this has been one that I’m not sorry to see end. I started out Monday on 3 hours of sleep (thank you, hormones), worked at Pottery Barn Kids on Tuesday and Wednesday, which, while fun, makes for loooonnnng days, fell and sprained my ankle on Wednesday, and got a heart monitor put on on Thursday. But now, it’s Friday afternoon, the heart monitor is off (dang, it was itchy!), the house is miraculously clean and the laundry done, I’ve made some progress on a new group of designs, and my husband just brought me these lovely Valentine’s flowers a little early. Things are definitely looking up! AND we have a long weekend filled with rose pruning, weeding, curtain hanging and tub caulking. I know that doesn’t sound romantic, but right now the idea of crossing some things off the to-do list is putting me in quite a good mood. I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

I was never a huge fan of Valentine’s Day growing up, except that once February rolled around, my mom would usually make a batch (or three) of her fabulous Petite Cherry Cheese Tarts. I have no idea where the recipe came from – it’s very 70′s, in it’s way – but those tarts were always a hightlight of, well – let’s face it – my year. Honestly, I’ve had friends try to bribe my mother for their own batch. In a fit of nostalgia I decided to make some this weekend, and while not quite as good as my moms – I didn’t cook the cherries quite long enough, so they were a little runny – they were still scrumptious. Here’s the recipe. You may want to double it.

Emily’s Petite Cherry Cheese Tarts

1 cup vanilla wafer crumbs
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3-4 Tablespoons melted butter
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 lb. can red tart pitted cherries
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch
red food coloring
paper baking cups

Preheat the oven to 375. Line 12 muffin cups with paper baking cups. Crush the vanilla wafers (I put them in a plastic ziplock bag and smash with a rolling pin) and mix well with the melted butter in a small bowl.

Spoon about 1 Tablespoon of the crumb mixture into the bottom of each bake cup and press gently.
Beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add 1/3 cup sugar, egg, lemon juice and vanilla and beat until smooth.

Spoon the cheese mixture evenly into the crumb-lined paper cups. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until set. Cool.

In a small saucepan, combine the cherries, 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch and mix well. Cook and stir until thickened. Add red food coloring as desired. Cool. Spoon the cherry mixture evenly over cheese cakes. Chill well before serving. Makes 12.

This is one of those projects that I started thinking up as I was trying to fall asleep, and then spent way too much of my precious rest time just lying there turning it over in my head. Now that it’s all done, I think there is a much better way to make the box… but it’s going to take some more mulling for me to figure it out (unless anyone wants to weigh-in with a suggestion?) The finished coasters are about 4 1/4″ square, and I think I’d make them a little smaller next time, too.

First, I cut the outside of the box from natural linen and pressed double 1/4″ seam allowances on all edges.
Next, I cut the box lining and pressed a 1/4″ seam allowance to the back side.
I fit the lining right-side out inside the outer box and sewed down the pressed edges.
Then I whip-stitched the corners.
The coasters were pieced together at 5 1/4″, for a finished size of 4 1/4″. The backing is wool felt.
I sewed the top to the backing with right sides facing, leaving a small hole for turning. Before turning, I layered a 4 1/4″ square of batting – I used the heat-proof batting that you can buy for making oven mitts – to the backing, so once turned it was easy to lay flat inside. Then I pressed and whip-stitched the opening closed.
Once sewn and pressed, I top-stitched each coaster about 1/4″ from the edge.

I have a little bit of a problem when it comes to craft and design books. I don’t seem to be able to resist them. Every time I come home from the bookstore with another crafty book, I get the dubious look from Dave which says “when are you going to use it?” “what about all the others?” and “where, oh where, are we going to put it?” He does have a point with that last one. We have tons of books and limited book storage, and I do have a towering pile on the coffee table. I don’t think that pile is what’s intended when one refers to a coffee table book. But still. I love them. I was at the bookstore the other day (looking for Alicia Paulson’s Stitched in Time, actually) when I came across Sew Liberated by Meg McElwee and published by Interweave Press. Now, I have plenty of projects in my head just waiting to be sewn into reality, but her projects were just so darned cute and fresh that I couldn’t resist it. The cut of her Teacup Corset Apron is adorable, she includes instructions for a camera bag (which I desperately need), and there’s even an applique clock! A clock!! Too cute. I also happened to see an interview with Meg on Rashida Coleman-Hale’s “I heart Linen” blog here.

wee news

02/02
Some friends have recently accused me of not being “out” on my blog because I have failed to report some fairly momentous (for us, anyway) news. It’s not that I’m keeping secrets, but I’m just a bit shy about it, and it’s hard to know just how to suddenly announce “hey everybody – I’m pregnant!” But, well, I am, and if all goes according to plan, we’ll have a Littleluna around here in May! As you can probably guess from the above photo, she’s a girl. Another note about the photo: it’s one of a number of my baby dresses that my mom dragged up from the basement when we were visiting her at Christmas. I take back all of the eye-rolls I cast in her direction (yes, I know, I’ll be getting mine soon enough) for hoarding all that old stuff, because I’m now thrilled to have some cute, vintage duds for the little one. There are even bitty little hand-knit sweaters, and some mod-looking retro get-ups. Pretty fun. So that’s today’s news! I’ll try not to let my DIY projects get too baby-oriented, but something tells me there’ll be a few geared towards the younger set coming up…