Blog Archive for 2010

After a week of learning the ins-and-outs of Paypal, investigating the best shipping options, learning the ropes of customs requirements and making friends with the FedEx driver we’re finally up to speed over here! The organic Monaco collection is officially for sale, and can be purchased HERE. For wholesale orders, please contact me directly at

It’s finally here! 107 boxes of fabric were delivered to our doorstep late last week, and we’ve spent the last few days getting it all organized and ready to ship. Wooo-hooo! Looking back over my emails I realized that this has been almost 15 months in coming – a long time. There have been a lot of bumps and lessons along the way, but now that it’s here I’m just thrilled with it! I hope you are too. You can check the whole line out here, or go to

For the record, I’m rooting for Spain. Also for the record, I think it’s not a great idea to make stencils of official logos, but since this was a last-minute, one-time thing, we thought it would be okay. Dave is a HUGE Netherlands fan, and so I relented and agreed to stencil Anabelle’s plain onesie with the Netherlands lion for the World Cup final today. She looks quite the little fan! Hopefully, she won’t hate us for this when she’s 15…

If you want to try a similar project, contact paper, applied to the front and back of your paper design, works great! I use Versatex water-based screen printing paint, and make sure to follow the directions on the jar for heat-setting. For more on stenciling, click here.

So, I’m starting to realize that having fruit trees in our yard is a big commitment. I just can’t stand to see the fruit go to waste, which means I actually have to do something with it. Last week, just as we were packing up to head out of town, I decided to make jam from the plums and the wild plums that were dropping all over the yard. It turned out to be really good – still a hint of tartness, and really fresh tasting.

Then, when we got back to town, we had a whole new batch of plums to deal with. So I decided to make a plum pie, even though I’ve never tasted, or even heard of one. It just happened that I had also picked a big bunch of basil from our garden and a few early (or late?) tangerines and they were all on the counter while I was preparing the plums. The smells were so delicious, and blended really well, so a new recipe was born: backyard plum pie. It didn’t firm up completely, but had a great, complex flavor and was incredible with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Here’s the recipe:

Jen’s Backyard Plum Pie

for crust:
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
10 2/3 Tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. water w/ 1 ice cube

for filling:
2 1/2 lbs. cut plums
1 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. sugar
1 + 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
6 – 8 leaves basil
grated zest of 1 tangerine
2 tbsp. corn starch
1 tbsp. flour
1/2 vanilla bean
1 Tbsp. cream or milk

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Prepare the crust (following double recipe, above, and skipping the pie-weight step), and divide into two balls. Roll out one ball for the bottom crust and fit into pie plate. Wrap the second ball in wax paper and refrigerate.

3. Mix 2 Tbsp. of sugar and 1/4 tsp. of cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside

4. Mix the plums with 1 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, corn starch and flour.

5. tear the basil into small pieces and add to plums. Grate the tangerine zest into mixture. Split the vanilla bean length-wise and scrape the seeds into the plums.

6. Pour plum mixture into prepared crust and roll out the remaining crust for the top. Drape top crust over filling, pinch edges and decorate with a fork if desired. Brush the top of the pie with the cream and sprinkle with the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Make 6 slits at the center of pie to allow steam to escape.

7. Bake pie for 1/2 hour. Then tent loosely with tinfoil to prevent over-browning, and continue to bake for about 1 hour, or until the filling bubbles thickly through the pie slits. Cool completely on a rack.

I hope you all had a great 4th of July weekend! We took Anabelle on her first camping trip, and she’s turning out to be an excellent camper! I was a little daunted by the challenge of camping out with such a young one, but once I got over my fear of bears nabbing her in the night and giant mosquitoes eating her alive, it turned out to be just fine. She did spend a good portion of the trip swaddled in an enormous mosquito net – wish I’d gotten a photo of that – and made it through without a single bite. We found a great, remote spot in Stanislaus National Forest near a river, and spent a beautiful weekend hiking, reading, lounging and eating.

Oh yeah, did I mention eating? The group we camped with happen to be a special breed of gourmet campers, and the food was unbelievable. There was homemade Korean bbq (pork and beef varieties) with kimchee and Asian cabbage salad, souvlaki, tzaziki and Greek salad, salmon in a soy cilantro sauce with grilled asparagus, a delicious Mexican bean salad and some killer guacomole that one of the group just whipped up on a whim, and apple crisp cooked in a cast iron skillet in the campfire. Not to mention some incredible breakfasts. Yeah, I could get used to that kind of camping.

Dave took this photo last night, and it somehow seems to sum up things in our family. It shows Sadie, our cat, with her new very favorite toy, the pricey, natural rubber pacifier that we bought for Anabelle (but which she soundly rejected). Then, to the right, we see Anabelle with her new favorite, the sparkly cat toy that I hastily tied to her carseat chair for some needed distraction. I guess we do whatever works!

so close…


I got word yesterday that the Monaco collection has landed in California! YAY!! Unfortunately, it’s still in L.A. clearing customs, but I’m hoping it gets here in the next week or so. Stay tuned!

Sunday was hot – like, 102 hot – in the east bay, and Dave and his dad and Anabelle and I decided to take a field trip to the little delta town of Port Costa. Why we thought trundling into our black, 1992 Honda with minimal air conditioning on such a hot day was a good idea is still unclear to me, but I guess we were seized with the spirit of adventure. We weren’t really sure what to expect, but some friends had told us it was a cool spot, so we thought we’d check it out. It turned out to be a very small but definitely cool town – really just a bar, a coffee shop, a post office and a couple of antique stores right on the water. Oh, and a whole bunch of bikers with really impressive bikes. I was a little worried about our 6-week old freaking out at the noise of Harleys zipping up and down the street, but they didn’t phase her at all. Mellow kid that she is.

Turns out one of our mystery fruit trees is a plum! And it’s now covered with the sweetest plums I’ve ever tasted. I wasn’t sure they were ripe until they started dropping all over the ground, so we got out our ladder and picked a bunch yesterday. SO delicious! I only wish they wouldn’t ripen all at once – I’d love to have them for the rest of the summer.

Dinner has been a little harder to pull together lately. Anabelle seems to have an instinct for when we’re trying to cook, and she likes to pick that time to want to eat, or be changed, or just try out her new lungs. So I’ve been trying to find simple options. I made this soup last night, and it was really good – and only took about 20 minutes to make (I know, because I was trying to finish so I could get to the post office before it closed). Plus, there will be leftovers, which means a bonus night of no cooking! I never thought I’d say that, but being a new parent has tempered my enthusiasm for elaborate meal preparation. Hopefully that’s just temporary.
Corn Chowder
1 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 red bell pepper (chopped fine)
2-3 stalks celery
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/8 tsp. (or more to taste) cayenne
4 cups corn (fresh, or 2 small bags frozen)
32 oz. chicken broth
3-4 slices bacon, cooked (optional)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream, or 2 Tbsp. sour cream
1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
Cracked black pepper
Sprigs of cilantro for garnish

In a large soup pot, saute the onion in olive oil or butter until soft. Add the garlic, and then the bell pepper and celery. Add the spices and saute until mixed, then add the corn. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Then add the bacon (if using), broken into small pieces. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the corn is soft. Then add the milk and cream or sour cream and heat until just simmering. Season to taste. Remove the soup from heat, and put about 1/2 of the soup in a blender and chop for a few seconds. This step is also optional, but gives the soup a thicker texture. Serve garnished with sliced red pepper and cilantro.