Thursday, April 14, 2011

Stripey tins!

I have a bit of a reputation for liking things that are striped, like Breton shirts and dish towels. I also like things that are made in England, like Barbour jackets and Hugh Bonneville. 

So how excited was I when I found these stripey tins that were made in England at the thrift store? Very.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Chalkboard paint in the kitchen - complete!

Wow. This was one of my quickest projects from 1) inspired! to 2) complete. All within 4 days. (This is also the moment that I realize it is my father's 78th birthday, and I had completely forgotten.)

As I posted on Monday, there was this really lovely house tour on Design*Sponge which featured the following photo. I really admired their usage of chalkboard paint.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and finally today I finished up the trim on my own version:

I'm supposed to let it cure for 3 days and then we can apply chalk. I can't wait to see what the toddler thinks about that.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Chalkboard paint in the kitchen

More visual inspiration from those curators of beauty over at Design*Sponge.
This is from another great house tour. What specifically caught my eye was the use of chalkboard paint throughout their kitchen, but mostly in the above shot. I'm not sure if they just painted over regular ceramic tile, or what exactly that is above the stove and counter, but we some weird fake tile paneling throughout our kitchen. It looks like it was used sort of like a wainscoting at some point, but it has thankfully been painted over and really blends in.
I'd considered using chalkboard paint over one section, but thought that it would look really weird with the pattern of the faux tile. The picture above is making me reconsider. It might look totally awesome. Hmmm. Tempting.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A light pink room

I've been thinking about redoing my 19-mo-old's room when she is ready to move out of her crib. She is far, far from ready so it may be a while (and I may go ahead and paint first).

Here is her room right now. Of course, it is the same yellowish cream that the entire house was painted before we moved in. It is a nice room with slanted ceilings under the eaves, but plenty of head room in general.

A pink room for a girl seems very trite, but I saw the following photo over at Design*Sponge and I loved how the pink is used. Just a blush of pink:
This photo is from a D*S house tour full of endlessly lovely rooms. Definitely worth a visit.

I might even want to go lighter pink than that photo, but I just love the glow that it gives the space. I need to head to Benjamin Moore and pick up some swatches.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Pendant lighting

For the first time in approximately one hundred years, we got some money back when we did our taxes. To celebrate, I'm considering getting a little something special for our house.

Over our sink there is a really ugly, silly little pendant of which I can not find a good picture. You can see just the edge of the dreadful shade at the tippy-top of this photo (Feel free to use your imagination):

I've been browsing my favorite lighting store, Schoolhouse Electric, and I've come up with a couple worthy candidates.

This was the one that originally caught my eye, the Rhodes 4. I think it is very pretty and elegant (just the fixture). I'm thinking polished nickel:
The shortest it goes is 14 inches (and then the shade would of course be extra) so I'm wondering if it might be a bit too long.
This next one is a bit simpler and can be 12 inches. This is the Union 4 and it is already shown in polished nickel. Shiny.
I think that shade is adorable, but the one I'm leaning towards for my own kitchen is this:

Ah, classic. I'll be doing some measurements and thinking this one over. I spend so much time at that sink that it would be nice to have a decent light fixture over my head.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Two Tarts

Have you ever thought to yourself, You know, what the world really needs is another blog. No? Well, that's too bad, because my friend and I just started a new one. It is called Two Tarts and it will be chronicling all of our adventures in the kitchen with lovely photos. That is the plan, anyway.

Our emphasis will be on creating foods that you might normally just buy off the shelf at the grocery or specialty food store, and hopefully ending up with something more delicious, less expensive, and without all that packaging. Did I mention more delicious? We'll also be sharing menus and entertaining ideas for dinner parties, and whatever else suits our fancy.

I will likely have less food-related stuff here, which means more home stuff. Hurrah!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Expedit

Our white Expedit bookshelf has finally been secured to the wall. Now that there's no longer a threat of small children being crushed by its heft, the shelf now hold all of our books. Well, perhaps not all of them, as we do have a great many books. 

I think that I will save that last row for some baskets. You can see where the toddler has already made a mess of our row of fiction. She was quite interested in the works of both Dante and Salinger. Hmmm.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Newburg Green in the mud room.

Hurrah. My baby napped long enough that I was able to get that last coat of white and final touch-ups taken care of. Our mud room was initially the same creamy color that graces every other room in the house. A nice enough color, but I needed a little variety. Spice of life and all that.

I'd been seeing the dramatic color Newburg Green (part of Benjamin Moore's historic collection) in a few places, most notably the recent West Elm catalogs. I always like to use BM's historic palette, so I decided to take a chance with Newburg Green.

The mud room during our walkthrough:

The mud room as of this afternoon:

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The trim is complete-ish.

Okay, so I still have some touching up to do on the door, and a little Gray Cashmere touch up because when I have to paint 5 meeeellion coats of paint and primer, things tend to get a little sloppy. But it looks finished in this photo, so I will share.

Here is the Before shot from our original walk through of the house (i.e., not our stuff).
And here is the After. Benjamin Moore Gray Cashmere on the walls and Chantilly Lace on the trim.
This is feeling very anticlimactic for me because I've been working on this for what feels like an eternity.  Cashmere Gray looks very gray in these photos, but in real life it has definite blue and green undertones. Most people think it leans more blue, but I see the green. I love the way it opens up the space.

Next up, I'm planning on painting the back of the little bar nook. I was thinking about doing it Martha Stewart's Kerry Blue Terrier which seems to relate well to the Gray Cashmere. But now looking at the photo above, I'm not sure. I'm worried it might be too dark. I'd like to replace the glass shelves, with white wooden shelves as well.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

chipotle cornbread

I am a fan of cornbread, so much so that it seemed like a good idea to purchase a cookbook entitled The Cornbread Gospels. Yup, an entire book of recipes devoted to cornbread and cornbread-related food items.(Hush puppies? Spoonbreads? Cornsticks? You got it.) I've made a handful of recipes from this cookbook and they've all turned out well. Most recently, I made a batch of chipotle cornbread for our friends' super bowl party. These parties are supposed to revolve around some ball-throwing sport, but really they are all about the food.

This cornbread is sweetened with sugar and spiced up with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce resulting in a nice sweet and smoky combo. Whole corn kernels are the kicker (no football pun intended) for me.

:: :: :: :: ::
CopperWynd Chipotle Cornbread, from The Cornbread Gospels by Crescent Dragonwagon

vegetable oil cooking spray
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup unbleached white flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup diced canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, sauce included
1/4 cup melted butter
kernels from 1 ear of corn, or 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, measured and thawed

1. Preheat the oven to 425. Spray a 9-in square pan well with oil.
2. Whisk the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, combining well.
3. Beat together the eggs, buttermilk, chipotles, and melted butter in a separate bowl.
4. Combine the wet and dry mixtures, stirring until just combined, then add the corn with a couple of stirs.
5. Into the pan goes the batter, and then into the oven goes the pan. Bake the cornbread until it is pale golden, with its edges pulling away from the side of the pan, about 15 minutes.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

peanut butter-oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Yesterday, my friend Sarah made these really tasty peanut butter-oatmeal chip cookies made with whole wheat flour for this little extra oomph of healthiness. Being less healthy in general and wanting more cooookies in ma mouf, I decided to make my own batch without whole wheat flour today. I found this recipe online and replicated it almost exactly, except I added an extra spoonful of peanut butter just 'cuz.

In the end, they looked like this:
Beautiful, right? Right.

:: :: :: :: ::
Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe from
Makes about 16 cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
½ cup rolled oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
3. On medium speed, cream together the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat to combine. On low speed, gradually add the flour until just combined. Stir in the oats, and then the chocolate chips.
4. Use a large cookie scoop (3 tablespoons) and drop dough onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden. Cool completely on the baking sheet and then store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Friday, January 28, 2011

spice wrangling

I've finally gotten started getting all my spices into their new magnetic canisters. I'm quite pleased thus far, and it certainly beats the sticky, honey-covered cardboard box that they used to call home. I bought some labels and, after what felt like hours cursing at my printer, printed them up last night. Futura makes all the difference.

There they are! Well, a fraction of my spices anyway. I think I might need about 20 more of these canisters to house the full collection. (What the heck do you use marjoram for, anyway?)

Let's take a step back and see what it looks like from afar.

Yup. Looks like a fridge with a whole bunch of spices on its side.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hello, handsome.

I look forward to all of the meals that you will be cooking for me. Welcome home.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Meet Jack Rose

Not the guitarist. Not the gangster. I'm talking booze. 
To celebrate the arrival of my new martini glasses, we decided to have a cocktail night. Until recently, I've had a strange disdain of martini glasses. I think it is because the martini is my parents' drink of choice and I don't think I've ever seen them drink out of a stemmed martini glass. And I have seen them drink a whole hell of a lot of martinis. They always drink out of a lowball glass, or more usually a French Picardie tumbler. That's just how they roll.

{This is where I'm compelled to say, "A martini is gin and vermouth. Not vodka."} 

So I've just ignored martini glasses over the years. I don't know what brought about the switchover, but here I am with my sparkly new set of CB2 stemware and a desire to create some cocktails. 

The inaugural cocktail was the lovely Jack Rose, a drink popular in the 1920s (adapted from the recipe featured on

Makes one cocktail

1 1/2 ounces Calvados
1 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce grenadine syrup
Shake it all up in a shaker with ice. Pour into lovely CB2 cocktail glasses.

Here's the crazy part of this otherwise very straightforward recipe. I got a bee in my bonnet to make the grenadine from scratch. Seems silly when you can just buy the stuff at the liquor store (and even sillier when you realize that I had I bottle in my possession)... but here's the thing: that crap that you buy in the store is composed almost exclusively of high fructose corn syrup and artificial food coloring. Sick. I just hate HFCS, and grenadine is traditionally a pomegranate syrup. I wanted actual pomegranate juice in my grenadine! So here's what I did (also adapted from a recipe featured on

Homemade Grenadine
1 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice (I used Pom... just make sure it is 100% pomegranate juice)
1/2 cup sugar

Simmer and stir for about 15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. That should make enough for about 8 drinks. So easy, and so much better then the alternative!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Flea market friend

I've been on the lookout for a cheap and interesting cabinet for our downstairs bathroom. I love this bathroom but it is sadly lacking storage. I've been haunting the local flea markets in search of just the right thing but so far I've come up empty-handed.

But I did find this fellow. I'm not sure that Tyler approves.

He is a doorstop!

I think he's cute. But I want to paint him, because the weird splotchy black & white look he's got going isn't doing it for me. What would be a fun color? I could just do white or black, but I was thinking he might look nice in something a little more bold? Like yellow? Red? Thoughts?

Monday, January 10, 2011

As it turns out

Santa does read blogs. Well, at least my sister-in-law does. And she got me these fabulous Push Me Pull You mugs for Christmas. Thank you, Heather!

Fresh whipped cream + coffee = yum

The reason for the fresh whipped cream is my tarte Tatin which I made for our belated New Year's Eve dinner party with friends last night. It turned out delicious and this is another big win from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food.

Spring goods

It is only about two weeks into winter, and I am already wishing it were spring. The endless stream of spring preview catalogs aren't helping matters much.

Some things from West Elm that I love:
This is actually a set of 4 plates with different patterns, but I just love the bee:


Sunday, January 9, 2011


Yesterday I picked up some pretty root vegetables to roast up for a belated New Year's Eve celebration tonight. Aren't they lovely?
I also need to get on the ball with the dessert that I'm preparing: a tarte tatin. I have not ever made one before, but I've wanted to for quite some time. I'm using the recipe from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food.

Around the house I have been shamelessly ignoring my to-do list, and working on other less intimidating projects. I've cleaned out my closet, for instance. My closet now looks great, but our bedroom is full of several large items that I removed from my closet. What the heck do I do with my wedding dress? It seems sad to put it in the basement. Anyway, most of my tasks have been like this: tidying up one area really messes up another.

My other task that I've been working on is dealing with my spices. For the past three months they have been sitting on my kitchen floor in a cardboard box. Not ideal, although they've actual kept my toddler and her friends entertained for short periods of time (and you just can't put a price on that.) But seeing as how some honey or agave or some other very sticky substance seeped onto the bottom of the box, something needed to be done. I got a few of these magnetic spice canisters in my stocking:
courtesy of

I'm going to stock up on quite a few more of these and they will soon reside on the side of our fridge. I'll post pics in the (hopefully) near future.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I snoozed and I lost.


The most fabulous Stendig calendar has been gracing our kitchen for several years now. Generally garnering comments along the lines of "nice calendar" and "you must like to know what the date is." (Har, har, people. Yup, it is a big calendar.)
So yeah, it is pretty much a staple, and we can not be without it. I procrastinated purchasing our 2011 calendar until 2011 rolled around and instead of getting to pay less money, I get to pay more. Dammit! I mean, aren't most calendars on sale by now?

I normally buy it from Unica Home which I realize now is the most reasonably price retailer. They sold out, I guess, so we get to pay almost 20 bucks in shipping. Ouch! Well, at least we will know, in no uncertain terms, what the date is.
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