New handmade items available in the Etsy shop


I’ve been slowly, yet steadily, getting my Etsy shop up-and-running again, which has required a lot of research, new work, and catching up with how everything runs now at Etsy since I last posted work there. Getting back to the business of making books again and tinkering with prints has also been a process — one that swings between happy and bleak, and back again.


Set of small blank notebooks with stab bindings

After so many months away, it felt unnatural the first few weeks to even be making art; like my very limbs were rusty and my mind was unearthing distant knowledge that had been archived in an old junky database and the key — thrown away.

stab binding journal

Suffice to say, I’ve been hard on myself regarding these first few creations. They’re timid steps back to the work that I really love.

Luckily, I’ve had a great crew of folks in my corner encouraging me to just keep going, to keep making things, and the nay-saying voice in my head is becoming (a little) quieter. You know, the one that is far too opinionated, far too critical, and tells me to simply go find my next office job.


Set of pamphlet notebooks with original lino block print


Geometric Codex Journal

But, each stitch I make sends my heart a little closer to home. For the moment, I’m venturing way outside of my comfort zone and daring to believe that a life where I’m happy and engaged about the work I do is possible. (This is possible, right?) I want to experiment; I want to tread new waters.



I knew it would take time, transitioning to freelance work full-time, and patience, and I’m prepared to dig my heels in and wait the same way we’ve been waiting for rain in this state. But in the meantime, this new venture is challenging. I suppose all new endeavors are built to be that way, the same way they told us in grad school that it was designed to kill us. And in the meantime, I’ll be here sewing books, baking pies, and dreaming up what’s next.

The beauty of the new

IMG_20150219_222501IMG_20150212_164549 I’m two weeks away from running a half-marathon, helped pack up my brother and said goodbye as he set sail for Seattle, and am just over a month into living in a new apartment. Change has been everywhere: good, unsettling, stunning, and pushing me to grow, to forge ahead into the unknown (as we all do, hoping the decisions we’re making prove to be good ones, over time).



Keith Haring’s show, The Political Line, at the DeYoung Museum, SF.


I’ve never been very good with change, or, I’m slow to adjust — I’m a nester who enjoys carving out a comfortable space. I enjoy some measure of routine, and knowing just where to reach for the flour, the sugar, the coffee grinder. So the weeks of packing and living out of boxes was stressful. When the kitchen sink clogged four days before we were due to move out of our old apartment, which meant washing dishes in the bathroom sink, we knew it was time to go.

After more than eight years in my former home, I’m glad to at least be practicing the art of change. I’m trying to be patient. To let the new home reveal its small charms to me: the lemon tree outside the craft room bursting with fruit in a patch of sun; the dining room nook perfect for our plethora of cookbooks and baking books. The fact that Nick and I can be in the kitchen at the same time, prepping a meal without stepping all over each other or orchestrating a perfect dance of where each pot and bowl and footstep and glass and elbow goes.



I’m also finding comfort in the familiar: a cranberry-chess pie, prepping a batch of pie dough to keep in the freezer for a rainy day, batter for an apple bundt cake. I’m trying not to look back; it’s easier said than done, but truth-be-told I’m not thinking of our former home that much. When I do, when I see the view out our old bedroom windows in my mind’s eye or think of the breeze billowing in the windows late on a summer night, it’s a genuine ache in my chest and a catch of the breath — saying goodbye to an old friend never stops being goodbye.



So I’m getting back on track, bit by bit. Dusting off some bookmaking tools and tinkering away with pamphlet stitches and prints. More writing about our recent move, and photos from months past, below.


It’s a hard thing dismantling the home that has kept you safe for the last eight years. Where you changed from a young woman to a woman; learned to live alone and love it; came to memorize and intuit every sound of the neighborhood and the building: the wind in the plum trees, the rain on the driveway, trucks making deliveries to the grocery store, and the neighbor’s dog waking you like clockwork almost every morning. Even the unwanted made it home. The paint that peeled, the tired linoleum floor, the hardwood planks that stained and showed wear so easily.

I slept here — thousands of nights my body was allowed to breathe far from harm’s way. Thousands of nights I was warm and well, and carving a future out of the stubbornness of days passing. The grief was palpable, the joy was everywhere, I was nourished and drunk and bone-tired. I watched the seasons change. I can name exactly which trees bear fruit and flower in the spring; I know the pale white blossoms outside the bedroom window come February or March as well as any thumbprint. And the sunsets: the deep blue-green silhouette of Mt. Tamalpais, the etching of pink and salmon and gray in the summertime never failed to cripple the heart with awe. I woke to diffused light pouring in windows to the west and bed down by the illumination of a church, the blinking red pilot signals on the hills, the trains and trucks and steeples of a city that I hold dear.

I want to bawl and beat the floor with fists and not let go. I want to pay proper gratitude to the walls and floorboards that sheltered me, so that when I go, and I’ve gone, I will pace from empty room to empty room — and it smells differently, already. Ancient dust untethered or walls lacking warmth. It sounds bigger. It echoes, it’s no longer mine. I get down on my knees. I recite small prayers of thanks in every room. I kiss the walls and the hardwood floor; put a palm to the front door, and say goodbye.

Hello there, honey apple cake



I’m taking baby steps back: to blogging, making more time for myself, I dunno . . . a lot of things. Do you ever feel life going, three steps forward, two steps back? I’m in the thick of that mode. Change comes in waves only to be followed by the challenges coming with it. I sent out writing to contests and journals four months in a row and felt like I was on a roll getting back in a creative groove, and received news of all rejections back — almost at once . . . which was depressing (so it goes). I decided to give up writing entirely one day, and then sat down and wrote a page or so the following day. Perhaps I’m overdue for a 1/3-life crisis; I seem to be up and down — kind of unsteady this fall and trying to take heart and burrow down and wait for it to pass.

With busy days lately, it has been difficult to even take real note of the months passing. Like, summer. Where did that go? But I’m no stranger to fall and it’s often my favorite season. So I swept away a small acorn of time for baking cake last weekend, for Deb’s sunken apple honey cake.
This cake is an absolute delight to pull from the oven as golden-hued apples peek out from their tender-crumb caverns; it would make a simple yet lovely addition to any dinner party or potluck, as it appears like a trick at first. Folks will be thinking, how did they insert whole apples into that cake…Which is exactly what I thought the first time I saw it.
So, luckily, when all else fails, there is comfort to be found in simple things; small acts of pleasure like baking a cake (And then a pumpkin pie, two days later — let’s not even talk about that, okay). For full instructions and details on the magic of this cake, visit our always lovely smitten kitchen.

Fireworks and Pie



July has been a magical time: filled with fireworks, barbecuing, friends, and a sort of insane amount of pie…


                                                   Dimond Park, Oakland

My friend Christina recently asked if I could teach her how to make a pie, which is very exciting since I’ve been deep into pie practice and the concept of “Pie Sunday,” (or, Pie Saturday) which involves some baked creation and asking neighbors or friends to come over and enjoy. It’s an easy way to get feedback on my latest baked goods, and a great way to keep practicing various dough recipes and fruit combinations.
I’ve also been researching what is involved in becoming a registered and licensed cottage foods operator. So far, it sounds like various applications, several permits, and a yearly fee. But not too many hurdles between making pie at home for friends, and being able to sell pie to friendly folks on Sunday. I’m feeling excited about this opportunity and am working on a new website and brand for this venture, currently.
But before I go too far down the road of planning, dreaming, and supposing, recent weeks have included…
Nectarine-peach-apricot pie for father’s day:
 Blackberry-plum pie, just because:
 Fireworks_and_Pie_3   Fireworks_and_Pie_5IMG_20140629_170159
Two galettes for the Fourth of July:
And a genuine mixed stone fruit/mixed berry pie in honor of Nick’s mom visiting from Nebraska:
This last, I think, was the tastiest of all pies of-late. I’ve ventured very timidly into the world of cherries in pastry or pie, because I always read that on their own they are not very flavorful; that the sour cherries, only to be found once a year for a brief window of time, are what make a cherry pie special. But I beg to differ! I think the texture of sweet cherry, along with its perfectly bite-sized package, is what makes it special. And tasty. And my new favorite stone fruit in pie.


And a few weeks after the Fourth of July, we finally got around to using the last of the sparklers and fireworks (thanks Dan and Andrea!). Last night was especially warm, and even just before midnight there were plenty of people out in the neighborhood. It was one of those sultry, content summer nights, and a good opportunity for some photos.



For more photos from the month, see the gallery below.

May Short List




May: that glorious month in the Bay Area — the first burst of summer bringing sunshine, blossoms, stone fruit, and a thousand ideas of what to bake, preserve, and just plain gobble with peaches, and cherries, and strawberries at every turn. California is pressing forth in the wake of a drought and very little rain the last two years, so we’ll feel the scarcity of summer fruits later this season, I’d wager, and are already witnessing the price increases per pound of these beauties.

In the meantime, your May Short List (in June), posthaste.


1. The season’s first cherries.

And a quiet Saturday evening sitting on the stoop with my partner, sharing ginger beer and lager and spitting cherry pits across the driveway into a garden bed. The simplicity of it and our easy happiness all spelled L-O-V-E.


2. Homemade churros!

Nick’s sister had the ingenious idea to bring these to a work party, and it was the first time I’ve ever deep fried anything in my kitchen. Amazingly, it was simple! Dan used a pastry bag to pipe dough into the pan of oil, and before long we had piles of fresh churros which Andrea sifted in a mix of cinnamon-sugar.







3. Fresh strawberry ice cream.

And, um, overflowing the ice cream maker and being forced to eat the overfill right away…which, really wasn’t the problem I thought it would be. I added both lemon and lime to my blend of heavy cream and milk and sugar before adding it to the ice cream maker, and it created a very bright flavor.


4. Several rounds of Adventure Bread.

A delicious, dense, gluten-free loaf from Josey Baker Bread, it’s packed with seeds and nuts, all toasted to lend a beautiful earthy flavor. This bread is reminiscent of the European-style loaf from Trader Joe’s, except it’s 1000x yummier. So far, we’ve used almonds, sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds, and I expect each incarnation of this loaf to become even more experimental.





5. Boston!

A quick yet jam-packed trip over Memorial Day weekend was stunning; the weather was perfect, and we hit an amazing amount of tourist sights, tempered with downtime spent candlepin bowling, eating cannoli and ice cream,  running the esplanade next to the Charles River, and visiting with friends. More on that visit to come.


Life is Short, Love Your Body



This idea formulated many moons ago, though, it wasn’t even my idea — the phrase just struck so soundly within me that it deserved, and deserves, repeating. I want women all over town to take this message to heart; I want girls to feel love and wonder for their limbs, not resentment or a belief that they don’t measure up.


This problem is bigger than the media; we’ve got to personally strip over-saturated and self-critical language from our mouths. Turn the tide back to our bodies being sacred, or, more simply, the shell we are given to experience this life. Good or bad, it’s all we’ve got.

Several years ago I embarked on a conscious effort to change my perceptions of my own figure, to stop evaluating it. And I can’t say in a brief way what an impact that effort had on my life — I can say it changed everything. It’s work I still tend to, but what has carried over is a greater sense of joy. Quiet in the mind, a small but sure river of confidence. And relief.



When I read about a stencil project over at Oh Happy Day, I felt inspired to make my own stencil with this phrase, and, something like seven months later, I’ve actually done it. It’s clear I’m at the bottom of a major learning curve regarding the use of spray chalk, and I’m aiming to find a more rigid paper for the stencil. For this piece, I used tyvek, a fairly indestructible waxy paper used in my bookbinding projects, which worked fine but did not lend itself to distinct edges on each letter. Alternately, I do want a material that’s fairly lightweight, so I can keep the stencil in a trunk, bag, or back pocket, if need be.




Here’s hoping you east bay folks happen to see this piece of street art in your neighborhood soon, and that it inspires some conversation.