Blog Archive for August, 2010

When I was in college I waited tables at this great little cafe in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis. The owner, Pam Sherman, created all these amazing soups and salads, in addition to croissants and baguettes and cakes to die for. The cafe ended up closing, and over the years I have mourned the loss of those foods, especially the soups. One of my favorite recipes was a gazpacho that they would always serve when it was really hot – usually around this part of August. The last couple of days, the temperature here has been hovering around 100º (our thermometer read 108º on Tuesday afternoon), and last night I decided to try to recreate the gazpacho recipe. As long as it’s been since I tasted that soup, I think I came pretty close! It was tasty, anyway, if I do say so myself. And most of the ingredients from our garden, as you can see from the photo! Here’s the recipe:
Summer Gazpacho
8 medium tomatoes
3 small bell peppers
2 jalepeño peppers, minced
2 cucumbers
1 orange
1 sweet onion
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 1/2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin (or more to taste)
1/2 c. sour cream

Chop the tomatoes, bell peppers, onion and orange into a 1/2 inch dice and combine in a large bowl. Add the jalepeños, garlic, vinegar, salt and cumin. Peel the cucumbers and cut in half width-wise. Chop in a 1/4 inch dice and add 1 1/2 of the cucumbers to the bowl. Reserve 1/2 cucumber. In batches, blend the soup coarsely on the “chop” setting of your blender, adding the sour cream. Return to the bowl and add the 1/2 remaining cucumber. Adjust seasonings to taste and garnish with parsley or mint if desired.

Hi everybody! I hope you all had a good weekend! My apologies to those of you waiting for the baby dress pattern – I ended up getting a couple extra work projects last week, and the week was over before I knew it. I’m hoping to have some time to work on it in the next couple of days, though. In the meantime, I received some great images of products made with Monaluna fabrics that I thought I’d share. Nathalie from Dolce Dreams actually sent a little clutch blanket that she made from the Monaco organic collection, embroidered with an “A” for Anabelle. It’s absolutely adorable! When we first received it, Bella wasn’t really holding toys or teethers yet. Now, about 1 1/2 weeks later, she’s extremely excited to have discovered both Minky and those little knotted ribbons. If you’d like one like it, Nathalie sells them on her Etsy shop here.

Then, Regina of Regal Cottage shared some images of the fabric baby balls she’s made from Circa 50 fabrics and sells on her Etsy shop. Such a great idea!

Finally, Ashley, the author of one of my favorite blogs Film in the Fridge, created the most beautiful quilt using the teal Monaco collection! I am always awed and inspired by her work – SO cool! For once I won’t go running out to buy fabric to try to emulate one of her quilts… I already have plenty of this stuff.

Dave and Anabelle and I took a little road trip up to Ashland, Oregon last weekend to visit family. I have only been to Oregon once, for a wedding in Portland, and I had visions of a cool, verdant break from the crazy dry heat we’ve had here. If I had looked at a map I would have realized that Ashland is really just across the California border, and not exactly a lush oasis, but it sure is a great town!

On the way up, we drove past orchards and sunflower farms and many miles of golden rolling hills, and I was reminded again of what an otherworldly landscape California is in the summertime. As we neared the northern border, Mt. Shasta loomed up, still snow-peaked, and added to the drama of the drive.

It was a pretty short trip and we didn’t get to see any of the productions of the nearly year-round Shakespeare Festival, but we did get some time to wander around downtown and check out the cute shops, including a great fabric store on the main drag called Fabric of Vision, where I got a textile fix, admired their bolts of the Circa 50 line and bought an adorable Oliver + S pattern that will one day become a really cute outfit for Anabelle.

Finally, we did get to bask in some lush greenery at the beautiful Lithia Park right downtown. The park was developed in 1914 by John McLaren, who also designed Golden Gate Park, and had the same long layout with a chain of distinct spaces like little outdoor rooms: open greens, duck ponds, Japanese gardens, tree groves and a grand fountain, built along a natural stream. I’m really looking forward to our next trip up to Ashland, and to spending a little more time in that park!

A friend recently ordered some of the Monaco fabric, and when I asked her what she was making she sent me a photo of the most adorable simple sack dress. I decided to try a version myself, and after fiddling around making a pattern, this is what I ended up with. The ribbons are a little aggressive, but overall it looks pretty cute, and was really easy to make! I’m going to tweak the pattern a bit (a little too much fabric at the neckline, and it needs a softer arm opening) and I’ll post a pattern and how-to next week.

I just got an email from Colleen of BCharmer Designs with images of the receiving blanket that she sewed for her friend’s baby boy. So cute! It’s the first project I’ve seen using the new Monaco fabrics, so I thought I’d share. I haven’t even had time to do any sewing with them myself, other than the simple pillows that I made for Anabelle’s nursery. Must get going on that! Check out Colleen’s darling blanket below, and you can see more of her work and read her insights on her lovely blog here.

I was in garden nirvana this morning as I watered the plants and reveled in the colors of the ripening fruits and veggies. Much of the garden is finally maturing, and I was able to pick tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, squash, eggplant, strawberries and grapes. Check out this palette:

And then there was this, one giant zucchini, lurking under the lowest leaves:

I swear it was just bitty yesterday… or maybe it was the day before…

So today I’m sharing with you my mother’s neighborhood-famous zucchini bread recipe, the perfect use for giant, overgrown zucchini.

Emily’s Zuper Zucchini Bread

3 eggs, well beaten
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups zucchini, peeled and grated
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup nuts or dates (optional)

Mix ingredients in the order given. Pour into greased loaf pans and bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. This will make 2 loaves.

Have you seen Mila’s Daydreams? The blog was started as the maternity leave hobby of copywriter Adele Enersen, and apparently has taken the blog world by storm. A friend sent it to me, and I absolutely fell in love with Adele’s simple, whimsical baby art. I mean, honestly, how cute are these photos?? And what a beautiful idea! But I have to say I’m a little jealous that her baby sleeps so much…

You can see more of Adele’s baby art photos here.

Okay, it has been way too quiet on the blog front lately! The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of cutting and packaging and shipping and baby-tending, and somehow the few projects I’ve fit in haven’t made their way onto the blog. Things are starting to settle down here, though – I’m finally getting the hang of this fabric store business, and Anabelle has warmed up to her role of shop girl, happily cooing and kicking and weighing in on decisions from her mattress on the studio floor. She’s gotten really used to our trips to the post office, too.

In the midst of the fabric hoopla, I received a copy of the new edition of Ottobre Design, a Finnish magazine that features kids’ clothing and sewing patterns. They were kind enough to send me a complimentary copy because they used a print from the Mingle collection in one of their designs, and so I got my first peek at their magazine. Oh, my! I am in love! The designs are wonderful, and the whole magazine so inspiring! I haven’t started doing any sewing for Bella yet – she’s really just now filling out a a onesie – but after looking through Ottobre I’m totally excited to get started.

I really appreciate the whole message of the magazine, too. They have taken a very modern approach to a traditional past time, and have grown their audience by tapping into the internet and on-line creative communities. In her editorial letter, editor-in-chief Tuula Hepola states that “Part of our success is based on the general trend toward reviving manual skills in all spheres of life. The philosophy of slow life-style respects traditional values and conceptions of beauty but filters them through a contemporary lens. Whether for needle-work or homemade apple marmalade, the resources and ideas offered by virtual communities are readily made use of.” Well exactly. Here are some of the images I love:

Such a cute boys’ shirt, featuring my Mingle box print
I absolutely love this fabric, which is by Hilco
I want to make this one, using the Monaco pink scooters and starbursts
One day, anabelle will have this dress made with the
Monaco teal birds and double dots