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Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Few Recent Additions To My Kitchen, Plus-- A Tea Kettle Dilemma

The print I ordered from Etsy arrived recently, which I framed and hung on that empty wall above the kitchen table.

I love it even more than I thought I would! Check out the print I ordered, and the etsy shop I bought it from here.

I took the above picture the night it arrived. I had been stashing a frame I picked up from goodwill in anticipation of its arrival, so as soon as I saw that cardboard poster tube on my doorstep I framed it and hung it right away. I waited to post this until I had a chance to rephotograph it in proper sunlight. Sadly our kitchen doesn't get that much sun even on bright days, since it is in the back of the apartment, facing another part of the building. I always hope for bright sunny pictures in the kitchen, like I get in my bedroom. Another room that does get that kind of beautiful streaming bright sunshine, however, is the pantry.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sweet Potato Chips with Rosemary Salt

Today I had a little craving for sweet potato chips. They are one of my favorite snack foods, salty and sweet, fried, and yet made with a vegetable that has so many nutrients one can almost pretend they are healthful. As I geared myself up to face the long lines at Trader Joe's on a Saturday, just to buy a bag of chips, a thought occurred to me. I had sweet potatoes on hand, sitting innocently in a basket in my pantry, waiting for their use, or the moment at which they begin to sprout and have to be discarded- whichever happened first. I also had a few sprigs of fresh rosemary.

Friday, February 25, 2011

It's a fiesta!

After admiring the iconic Fiestaware disc pitchers online for quite sometime, I finally am a proud owner of one. I went with a new one from Kohls, instead of ebaying a vintage piece, and thanks to a 30% of sale, and a 15% off coupon, it was a great deal.

I can't wait to see this in my kitchen- I am thinking I may use it to hold a few cooking utensils next to the stove.

Isn't it cheery?

***Pssst, thanks to my mother and her best friend Patti who helped me stake out this deal!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Before & After

I finally did the next step in my make-over of the drawer-less yellow dresser I found on the sidewalk last month. I may still decide to add doors and/or a middle shelf, but for now it is very functional for my needs, and more attractive than before, too!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lemon Buttermilk Pudding Cake

Lemon. Buttermilk. Pudding. Cake. Yes, really. To me every single word of that is so right. It sort of makes me drool. Of course I love lemon. And buttermilk makes me think of perfectly sour sweet pancakes and waffles drizzled in syrup. And if I don't have to decide between pudding and cake, well, perfect, I don't want to.

A texture halfway between mousse and lemon pie filling, served chilled and topped with blackberry sauce, this dessert was bright, fresh tasting and a perfect spot of sunshine in the seemingly eternal darkness that is the month of February. I sat, I lifted each bite slowly. I didn't multitask with my computer or a text book at my side, I had no pressing thoughts on my mind. I sat and let myself be entranced by sweet and tart lemon and blackberry.

DIY CRAFTS PROJECT: paper bunting for the kitchen

Good news: I'm still loving my cheerful blue kitchen. It has been feeling pretty devoid of art work and decoration though, since changing the general color palate in the room led me to start from scratch with wall art. I picked out a print from Etsy that I think will look great, framed, under the pendant light on the wall above the kitchen table. Now I am waiting for the print to arrive, which may take a while, for 2 reasons: 1. I ordered a custom size, so the artist first has to MAKE the print, and 2. The artist I ordered it from lives in the Czech Republic (isn't the internet an amazing thing?) so who knows how long shipping will take.

The other empty wall in the kitchen, the one above the stove, has always been confusing for me as I try and decorate. Since there are no upper cabinets, the space is kind of awkwardly broken into two parts horizontally by a rail where traditional upper cabinets would sit. In the center is the stove, and the hood above the range visually splits the space into 3 parts vertically.  When I consider what to do with this space, I am baffled. Do I try to work with the look of the top 3 vertical sections by placing a large piece of art in each? Do I put something large in the middle only? Should I work against those visual divisions and put something off center, or two pieces? It may not seem like such a big problem, but somehow I couldn't get my head around it. Everything I tried looked either too symmetrical too off balance.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Look What I Found

A while ago this caught my eye (and the eyes of quite a few bloggers and decor magazines I read):

I have seen it for sale at urban outfitters and around the internet including Amazon.com from $120-$140. The first time I saw it I swooned a bit, I admit I have a thing for birds and owls in decor (just like everyone else it seems, put a bird on it!), They are sort of all over my room.Especially in white ceramic forms.

Well, look what I found today at TJmax on clearance for $16.99?

quite a resemblance, right?

I think he fits right in, though I am contemplating if the branches look too much like weird spiky hair coming out of his head, what do you think?

Brie Pastry Squares

I made these brie pastry squares to bring to a friend's the night of the Superbowl. Then I felt too tired to go (you know you can't be well when your body tells you 5pm is bedtime...) so I ended up eating most of these myself, while not watching the superbowl. It was weird. But, they are yummy and buttery and crisp and don't require silverware or proper manners, and are also super easy to make. Maybe you want to make them as an appetizer at your next dinner party? I imagine they are great for snacking on while milling around and socializing with a glass or two of wine. I can say from experience that they also are great for eating in your pajamas at 6pm alone in the house, in  place of a real dinner.

The process was easy as pie (er, easy as baked brie):

4 ingredients:
frozen (defrosted) phyllo dough or puff pastry (I used Trader joe's All-butter artisan puff pastry)
brie cheese
1 egg, beaten and applied as a wash

Spread out your sheet of phyllo dough and paint on the egg wash with a pastry brush. Slice the brie (which I bought in a roll instead of a wedge or wheel) into even slices.

Arrange the slices of brie on the dough, and top with jam of your choice. I used apricot jam which I infused with brandy for extra interest. I think fig jam, or spicy/sweet pepper jelly would also be great options.

I originally imagined these not as square but as purses of  phyllo dough filled with melty brie and sticky fruit jam. Kind of like that yummy baked brie at holiday parties, but with no need for crackers or bread to scoop it up with. I folded my adorable little purses, washed the top with egg, and put them in the oven.

sadly when they came out they had un-pursed themselves, and were more like brie-pastry boats... I tried to seal the edges with egg wash and squeeze together, but somehow it just didn't work out. I think I probably just cut the dough too small to seal tightly on top.

While I thought these weren't as cute as purses I actually still thought they looked kind of nice. I ate one though while pondering how to fix the design and discovered that the pastry-brie ratio was off, and mostly you just tasted pastry. I decided to make the next ones with less dough, cutting it only a bit larger than the brie circles

Back into the oven (on a parchment lined baking pan, oven preheated to 400, for 6-12 minutes, or as directed by the instructions that came with your specific dough packaging.) When they come out the pastry is flaky and golden, and the cheese and jam are bubbly.

Sure wish I had a better picture of the finished product! It had gotten dark by the time I finished up, refer to the earlier "boats" to see how delicious and melty these would look in better light. :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A small change

In my last post about my kitchen I mentioned this little problem area:
Somehow clear glass does not do a good job of hiding the microwave/cord disaster ugliness. Who knew?

I have been planning a pretty clever hack to cover up the cord area entirely, but since I probably won't get to that project until things warm up a bit (can't use my claimed workshop space - the alley behind our building- when it is holding several feet of snow) I thought I would try and use things I had on hand to better distract from the things I dislike in that corner. I used a placemat from a set a friend gave me at Christmas, a book end I had in my bedroom, and a few of my favorite thrift store collected cookbooks.

Now the area looks like this:
 You can still see the cords, but only if you are looking straight on, which involves standing right in front of the pantry door. Otherwise, it looks like this:
I think it's an improvement. And I actually love how the red book covers pop against that blue. Unfortunately I can't really make the microwave stop looking...microwave-y. Oh well. Now it has pretty vintage cookbooks on it, what's wrong with that?

Oh, and if you are wondering what happened to our growing wine cork collection, I simply moved it across the room to sit on top of the wire cart near the window. I'll post a pic soon once a few other little things come together.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My (blue!) kitchen

So the kitchen paint job is done, and I really like it. It makes the kitchen feel really different, and I am happy to finally *like* my kitchen (especially after the orange chevron disaster of 2010). I have even been happily cleaning up everyone else's dishes and etc just to keep it looking shiny and clean and cheerful. Here a few pics, still a bit of work to do, including getting some art work up (*check out some updates on the kitchen artwork situation here and here!), and dealing with the icky microwave area (more on that in a bit).

 I took this picture standing on the counter so that I could get in both the blue wall/kitchen table corner, and the cabinets/sink area. If only I had a wide-angle lens, or a bigger kitchen, might not have to resort to such antics.  I am in love with the curtains still, they were a cotton shower curtain from target, which I simply cut and hemmed into two panels, then hung using cute little curtain clips instead of shower curtain rings. I also reorganized the wire cart that holds our toaster oven next to the window, which I feel made a big difference, now the wood top is empty, and everything else that used to live scattered in there is stored in baskets below. I love how clean things are right now. It can be hard to keep things orderly when you live with 4 roommates.


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