Blog Archive for 2012

Good things come in priority mail packages! I’ve been working with the talented Melissa Lunden, of Lunden Designs, to develop a chevron quilt pattern for Havana, and I just received the sample quilt in the mail. So pretty! She worked two prints into each chevron stripe, and the back is a really nice patchwork using four different prints. I love it, and I hope you do too! The pattern will be available soon.

Every couple of months, my husband and I get together with a group of friends for an “iron-chef” style dinner party. Mostly, it’s just a pot-luck dinner party, but to make things interesting, a key, seasonal ingredient is chosen, and we all make a dish incorporating it. Last week, the ingredient was pears, and Dave and I were supposed to bring dessert. I’ve been on a bit of a goat cheese kick lately, and I decided to make a tart pairing the two. We didn’t win – that honor went to the ridiculously delicious pear and prosciutto pizza – but it was pretty good, if I do say so myself! Here’s the recipe:

 

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a pie or tart pan. Make sure goat cheese is at room temp.

 

Shortbread Crust

1/2 c + 2 Tbsp butter

1/4 c powdered sugar

1/8 tsp salt

1 1/4 c. flour

 

Cream the butter and powdered sugar together using a hand mixer until fluffy. Then add in the salt and flour and mix until it just holds together. Press into the bottom and sides of a greased pie or tart pan. Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees. While the crust is cooling, warm the honey glaze, prepare the filling and then slice the pears.

goat cheese filling

1 1/2 packages (12 oz) mild goat cheese at room temp (I used the 365 goat cheese from Whole Foods)

21/2 Tbsp sugar

Mix the cheese and sugar together until soft and pliable

 

honey glaze

1/4 c. honey

dash of vanilla

few shakes of cinnamon

couple of drops water if necessary

Warm ingredients together in a saucepan.

 

3-4 ripe pears, sliced thin

 

With a spatula, press the goat cheese filling into the cooled crust. Cut the pears in half and slice very thin, then arrange the pears on the filling.

When pears are arranged, brush liberally with the honey glaze.

Bake the tart at 375 for about 30 minutes or until pears are soft and crust is slightly browned. Check regularly. Remove from the oven, and brush again with the honey glaze. Enjoy!

It was a gorgeous Northern California fall day here yesterday, and we took advantage of the golden light to do a little photoshoot of our new Modern Home collection. We got two of our favorite models and headed down to the open space near our house for some beautiful backdrops. Here are a few of the photos, plus a sneak peek of the full collection. I hope you like them! I will be introducing the collection at Quilt Market this month, and it’s expected to arrive in December. Anabelle’s dress is made from the Charlie Dress Pattern by Made by Rae.


I grew up in a family and community that was very aware of environmental issues, and pretty active in the environmental movement. My mom started the first recycling truck in our neighborhood, we were members of the local health food co-op, and I learned how to make solar panels in my third grade class. So I knew about the benefits of organic products, and I would buy organic cotton when I could, but it always seemed hard to find, and with limited options. I was interested in supporting organic cotton, but it didn’t seem easy.

 

In 2009 I had just started licensing my designs for fabric when I heard a piece on NPR’s All Things Considered that profiled the health effects of pesticide use by cotton farmers in India. It really personalized the issue for me, and prompted me to learn more about conventional cotton farming and the alternatives that organic cotton could offer. What I learned surprised and impressed me. Here are some facts:

 

-Conventionally farmed cotton is one of the most chemically dependent crops, using up to 25 different pesticides and fertilizers, several of which are toxic to humans or are known carcinogens

 

-Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic synthetic pesticides and herbicides, and without synthetic, nitrogen-based fertilizers. Instead, organic production uses farming techniques that focus on soil and plant health, including crop rotation, companion planning, local plant varietals and beneficial insects to produce a better crop.

 

-The synthetic, nitrogen-based fertilizers used in conventional cotton farming dramatically increase the carbon footprint of the cotton crop. Excess nitrogen can escape into the atmosphere, streams and groundwater, contaminating the water supply and contributing to the proliferation of greenhouse gasses.

 

-Alternately, organic cotton farming represents a significantly smaller environmental footprint. It releases less greenhouse gas, does not contaminate groundwater, uses less energy and, due to the improved quality of the soil, uses significantly less water. There is an interesting blog post on this issue here.

 

-Conventional cotton farming can pose serious health risks to the farmers and farming communities, particularly in areas where proper use guidelines may not be followed. In addition, the finishing process for conventional cottons can involve numerous toxic chemicals, exposing mill workers to health risks as well.

 

-Conventional cotton can contain residues of pesticides and finishing agents, particularly formaldehyde, that can cause skin irritations and health affects to the end user.

 

-In contrast, GOTS-certified organic cotton is produced using no toxic chemicals throughout the entire production process, ensuring a healthier working environment for the farmers and mill workers, and a healthier, higher-quality product for the end user. Additionally, the GOTS certification signifies that the product is fair-trade, ensuring that it was produced under safe, healthy and equitable conditions. Read more about the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and what it covers here.

 

After learning all this, I realized that I wanted to help promote organic cotton farming in whatever way I could, and I decided to launch my own organic cotton company, Monaluna. Although the first few collections were too small to use the GOTS-certified dyes, we – my husband Dave and I – are now producing GOTS-certified collections exclusively, and we are committed to supporting organic and sustainable farming practices.

 

These days, organic fabric is much easier to find, and the choices are wonderful and varied. They are still more expensive, but in light of the above points, the benefits are vast. Next time you’re in the market for fabric, do yourself and the environment a favor and try an organic alternative.

 

When I got back from our family vacation I had a great surprise waiting: two big boxes of the Havana sample bolts! Like Christmas in August. I’ve been happily playing around with them, sewing a few samples, planning quilts and trying to figure out how to show them best at Quilt Market. I have to say, I’m loving this collection! There is a warm red/pink/green colorway, and a teal/blue/green colorway, and they’re both vibrant and bright and fun. Here are some images to get your imaginations going. The full collection should be here in October!

Since the Fox Hollow shipment still hasn’t arrived (fingers crossed for Monday!), I’ve been keeping myself very busy here designing two new collections and making a lot of things with plums. I’ve been stuck in that part of my creative process where things are starting to come together, but not quite working yet, and I always find it frustrating and a bit nerve-wracking, so its been nice to have a completely different creative outlet to turn my attention to here and there. I find myself feeling a little guilty for not putting every bit of time into the collections (I’m actually really late at this point), but sometimes it helps to take a break, and I’ve really enjoyed celebrating the bounty of our garden. Here are some photos from the last week in plum-land:

plum clafouti
plum infused vodkas
plum pie
plum sorbet
spiced plums

Both the plum sorbet and the spiced plums were made from recipes in the absolutely beautiful book Plum Gorgeous by Romney Steele. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants some inspiration for backyard produce!

We have a LOT of plums! These all came from one little tree, and there are tons more on the ground. Seriously, what am I going to do with all of these plums? Ideas? Suggestions? Recipes?? I may need to gather plum ideas for next year, seeing as how we have an extremely productive plum tree.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

I’m feeling grateful today for my own father, who just headed back to North Carolina a few days ago after a wonderful visit here, and also Bella’s daddy, who is patiently waiting for me to write this post so he can stream the basketball game on this computer. Hurrying is the least I can do, since he just played dream dad all day at the SF zoo. Thank you, Dad, Dave, and all you wonderful fathers out there!

By the way, I snapped the bottom photo a few days ago, while Anabelle and Dave were playing on the lawn. Looking at it, I got the uncanny feeling that I’d seen it before, and rummaged through an album to find the top photo, taken of me and my dad. I love the fact that the two family pets, our dog Ralph, top, and our cat Sadie, bottom are both hanging out too.

And just like that, it’s summer! Our lovely trip to Mexico was followed up by two (extremely) busy weeks getting ready for Quilt Market, and finally an adventure-filled trip to Kansas City! I had every intention of regularly posting the activities on the blog, but clearly that didn’t happen. Must get better about that!

This was our third time at Quilt Market, and in some ways we’re starting to get the hang of it. Still, it’s always an incredible hubub of inspiration and eye candy, meeting new people and seeing friends, socializing and selling and visiting. I had much less time to walk the show that I did the last two times, which is ultimately a good thing (we were busy!), but sadly didn’t get photos of all the inspiring booths and quilts. There was so much great stuff! I will say that Melody Miller’s booth knocked my socks off, though. I did get a few photos of our booth:

Before…
and after!

All our little gnomes and creatures now have homes scattered around our garden, and I crack up every time I see them. I never figured myself for the lawn ornament type, but I have to say that I LOVE them!

One really sad thing about the show is that the adorable dresses that were made for the booth by the amazing Kirsty of Wild Things Dresess disappeared from the hotel before I even got to see them! Kirsty had sent them from the UK, and I was beyond excited to see them, but alas, it was not to be. Luckily, Kirsty sent photos, so here’s a little peek at what could have been:

SO cute, right? *sigh*. Hopefully some little girl somewhere has ended up with some darned cute dresses. And luckily for us, Ann from Olive Ann Designs had whipped up a few samples for the booth as well, and you can see their Foxy and Stripey nighties in the photos above.

This was my first time to Kansas City, and I have to say that I really liked it! Anabelle turned two on the first day of the show, and we made our way into the Power and Light district to have dinner. There happened to be a blues band playing on the street, and Anabelle went nuts for the music! We ended up dancing for about an hour before finally finding a spot for a little birthday dinner. Such a nice night!

Anabelle turns 2

Teresa over at Green Bag Lady has had this wonderful idea of making fabric shopping bags and giving them away to people who agree to refuse paper bags and use fabric instead. Since 2008 they’ve given away 19,984 bags! Right now she’s having a giveaway of some great shopping totes she made from Monaluna fabrics, as well as some fat quarter stacks. Hop over for a chance at the giveaway!