My Nepenthe, a Story, a Riddle and a Giveaway

I want to start with a riddle. Think of this as you read on, and at the end, I will give you an opportunity to answer the riddle for a giveaway!

What do a cook, a quilter and an ocean view have in common?

I feel like I have opened the door to a whole new world this past few weeks.
My husband gave me a beautiful book for Christmas, My Nepenthe, by Romney Steele.

My Nepenthe by Romney Steele

If you live on the West Coast, you may know of the restaurant, Nepenthe. I think of Nepenthe as more of a destination than just a restaurant. For years, my family has been making the drive down the coast to spend a magical day in Big Sur, California. We visit some of the most beautiful coastline available, stroll through majestic redwoods and explore the bohemic lifestyle in this mystical place that inspired artists, writers and creative souls over the years.NepentheView

But at the end of the day, we always, and I do mean always, stop to visit Nepenthe.


It is the perfect way to end a day in Big Sur.We relax and enjoy the spectacular views, have something to eat, and then search for a special treasure  in the gift shop, The Phoenix.The Phoenix

It was on one of my first visits, I looked up at the vaulted ceilings in The Phoenix and noticed quilts hanging from the rafters in all their glorious colors. That is the day I found out Kaffe Fasset‘s family owned Nepenthe.

You would think that being given a beautiful book called My Nepenthe would be a very meaningful gift for me. But it even gets better.


Author Romney Steele is also co-owner of a very special cafe, oyster and wine bar in historic Old Oakland appropriately named The Cook and Her Farmer2015-01-30 14.18.37My husband eats many of his lunches there, noshing on an extraordinary grilled cheese sandwich or a bowl of savory mussels.

2015-01-30 14.17.16

As much as I love the food, I also love simply taking in the atmosphere. Colorful jars of canned goods and bowls of fresh produce line the counters.They convey the spirit of her farm to table principles.

2015-01-30 14.22.48

You can pull up a cheery, red stool to the warm, wooden tables for a casual and communal meal.
2015-01-30 13.58.57

I am in awe of those able to convey their vision so clearly for others to enjoy. Romney’s bio describes herself as a writer, cook and visual artist. I would agree. Whether I am reading her book, sitting in her establishment or peeking at her blog, there is a vision that she is sharing. It is warm, and colorful, and I enjoy being a part of it.

2015-01-30 14.16.57


So all of this leads up to my gift, the book My Nepenthe. A book of stories and tales of Big Sur.  It is a story about food, family, how it all unfolds around the table and why that matters. It celebrates the magic and history of the family who started Nepenthe, Romney Steele’s family and yes, the Fassett family.

Ahhh, it’s all coming together, now isn’t it??? Kaffe Fassett is Romney Steele’s uncle!


I am sure many of you have read and loved the autobiography by Kaffe Fassett’s, Dreaming in Colour, which shares his stories of life in Big Sur.

KaffeConsider My Nepenthe as part of a series of books. The book is lovely. The stories are wonderful, the visuals are inspiring and the recipes are fresh and unique.


Even the design elements are delightful. Romney used Kaffe Fassett’s ever popular Millefiore design for the spine of the book, along with remnants of her grandmother’s smocks which were scanned and shared throughout the pages. It is so amazing to know a family such as the Fassett family could completely embrace the spirit of creativity.

Aren’t we fortunate that they did?2015-02-02 09.43.53

Romney Steele.
Romney Steele




To end my story, I want to share a excerpt from Romney Steele’s blog,

Romney Steele (words + food + visual).

She writes about her love of cooking in words that resonate with the way I feel about quilting:


Plum Gorgeous: Recipes and Memories from the Orchard – Romney Steele’s latest book

“I often turn to cooking when I feel out of sorts, when I feel less than grounded, less than knowing my way. Cooking, like gardening, feels tangible. Whether slicing lemons for a bright marmalade, or turning over the soil to plant spring greens, both feel grounded in my history and in my present–in so much that is healing and gives me joy. Preparing and sharing food creates a feeling of well being, of time well spent and good work done. It’s also deeply meditative, restorative by way of making.” Romney Steele


Thank you Romney. Your words inspire me to be true to myself. To do what I do because it is who I am. But for now, I am yearning for the Big Sur Life and I just want to curl up in some quilts and read all about it!

2015-02-02 09.39.01

So, dear readers,

What do a a cook, a quilter and an ocean view have in common?

MakingWavesPatterns-Cover1What do you think they have in common?  Leave your answer and share what inspires you as a comment. One of you will win a copy of our newest pattern, Making Waves.

I hope you enjoyed my story.

Have a great week!


27 thoughts on “My Nepenthe, a Story, a Riddle and a Giveaway

  1. The sharing of who and what inspires them to do what they must. to express themselves and quiet their minds while caring for those entrusted to their care.


  2. Interesting stories! The views remind me of restaurants you can find in the rocks of Crete. Spontaneously I think that the cook, the quilter and the ocean view have history and renewal in common. Each day/quilt/recipe/meal/wave/sky builds on what has come before.


  3. What they have in common is a sharing of their different talents and their time …whether it’s to prepare a memorable meal to celebrate the Holidays with friends, or to gift a hand-made quilt to a new born or to entrance each viewer with an ever-changing vista.


  4. Great thought provoking blog. I think of water (oceans, lakes) as bringing me peace and joy. My quilting gives me peace and a “cozy” joy. Cooking and eating bring another joy. And all 3 are better with sharing


  5. Inspiration! What a timely post to stumble upon today! Thank you! I just got back from Big Sur on Sunday and I’m already missing it so much! We go every year for my birthday (and Carmel, too). Of course, I can’t wait to get in my sewing room after feeling so inspired after spending a few days there. I just adore Nepenthe as well as the Phoenix (and so many other wonderful places in Big Sur). And because of your post, I just had to walk over at lunchtime today to the “The Cook and Her Farmer” for one of Romney’s grilled cheese sandwiches! I had the “Big Sur” and it was delicious! Can’t wait to play with some Kaffe fabrics this weekend. It’s interesting I heard Kaffe speak one time and he said Big Sur didn’t inspire him with the colors…he thought they were very monochromatic….but I think it inspires on a deep spiritual level because it’s so unharnessed and a bit wild! Your imagination is free to experiment and that to me is the essence of Big Sur.


  6. All three have dual purposes — cooking feeds your soul and the tummies of yourself and others; quilting soothes the ruffled feathers of life and provides comfort on a cold night; the ocean view delights the eyes and ears, but it also can give you a lovely swim.


  7. While reading Kaffe’s autobiography, I realized how the stars and planets were aligned to create the man he became. Nepenthe played an enormous part in his life, not just the building, but the ocean, the food, the people who visited and lived there, but those in his family who came after. I’m thrilled to learn of his niece’s journey, and look forward to reading her book.


  8. In this case, as I see it, more specifically it relates to the desireable California lifestyle, but in general I think it has to do with appreciation for those things that God has given us. Respect all three and loving all three, one pays homage to them through creativity. While all these things God has created for us to enjoy, being a “city girl” I also appreciate the “landscape” of the city and am planning a quilt, with the help of a friend, that displays the skyline of the city, as I am graphically challenged. I would love to create a quilt that depicts the skyline at dusk as you come down 880 from Richmond of the hills/mountains to the North and West in Marin. Or the view of Mt. Diablo as seen from the top of the Trousdale Avenue in Burlingame with the Bay in the foreground and the East Bay in the distance. I love the geography that the Bay Area provides and I’m sure others enjoy the geography of the areas in which they live. Inspiration is all around us, be it the land, the buildings, or the food. All these things God has given us in one way or another to appreciate and use as inspiration.


  9. I think a cook, a quilter and ocean view have inspiration in common. Each of them are inspired by the other. I remember when my parents took 25th anniversary trip down the coast of California. When they came home they told me their favorite spot was Big Sur. I’ve always wanted to visit but never have. I think the book would satisfy a bit of my desire to experience the Big Sur life. Thanks for a chance to win.


  10. Inspiration is the word that came to me which seems to be the common thread for a cook, a quilter, and an ocean view.
    Both a cook and a quilter finds inspiration to create and the ocean can be the source of this inspiration. Romney Steele seems to be an extraordinary person. Thanks for having this giveaway.


  11. The thing they have in common is waves. We don’t cook all the time or quilt all the time. My hitting the kitchen or the sewing machine rolls in and out.


  12. I grew up in Eastern Canada and do love the ocean. Now in Alberta I miss it dearly. I believe that a cook, a quilter and an ocean view have peace and a calmness about them.


  13. My husband took over the cooking duties about eight years ago. He loves to try new recipes, and bakes during every storm. That means I am in my studio quilting. Four years ago we left the Canadian prairies and moved to Nova Scotia. So there you have it, cooking, quilting and the ocean from my point of view. Kaffe was in Halifax this summer and I got to listen to him speak. I enjoyed reading his autobiography about growing up at Nepenthe.


  14. What a fabulous post Pati. Thank you for sharing this story with me, for it includes some of my favorite things in life…, family, color and the creative spirit that lives inside all of us, if we’re open to it and are willing to follow our instinct. Now I have more books to buy on Amazon! Love it!


  15. As an East Coast resident my waters are the Hudson River and Adirondack lakes. I travel to our Atlantic Ocean but your Pacific Ocean views are wonderful.
    Foods, art and reefs are just a start in the creation they share.


  16. Wow where to begin!
    I loved your story and how one person and place led to another. A few words come to mind: connected and color! The Big Sur ( have never been but would love to go!), Nepenthe,Phoenix ….you and your hubs, Romney and Kaffe. All drawn together by amazing color and beauty of their surroundings! Their passionate response to their environment has clearly had a ripple effect, like the waves(!), allowing others to enjoy gorgeous fabrics, foods and vistas! How lucky are we all!!


  17. They all give an inner peace when really involved in each one – and they all give a visual and tangible joy as an outward expression. Wow – your blog filled me up this morning – Thanks for the chance for the book – and thanks for sharing such rich info. You are blessed to have taken in so much!! I think I will take down all of my Kaffe Fassett
    quilt books today – and actually “make” something.


  18. The ocean has always been magical and religious to me. I am looking at it this moment, waiting for the sunrise. I am so lucky to be able to quilt and cook while looking at the ocean.


  19. From my little plot, and I do mean little. I, too have blessed with a view of waves, mountain and bounty in my garden. What I have learned to “see” in common is this: movement, colour, ever changing patterns of light and surprises. As I lose my 30 year view to second story additions filling with new young families. I now see have a different view and have to journey to see the waves, but I enjoy the journey. My garden is still bountiful and many more children enjoy my harvest of plums, peaches, lemons, apples and veg. Late afternoon I still have glorious sunsets and a peek a boo view of the bay and the houses now form a quilt of new families and family sounds in the foreground.

    Thank you for posting. I have not been to Nepenthe. Has been on my bucket list. Now I will go


  20. I think they could all be soothing or even healing when the soul needs some regeneration. In addition, a cook and a quilter both often rely on inspiration, something that an ocean view provides. I don’t live near the ocean, so can’t count on that view for regular inspiration, but emotions and colors often give me the jumping-off point in creating my quilts.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s