Saturday, January 30, 2010


Sometimes I forget how satisfying it is to go thrifting, I drool over expensive antiques like these Thonet chairs here or overpriced junk from big box furniture stores and lament about my lack of furniture. Last weekend I left the house and ended up on the south side of Baltimore rummaging through crockery and broken lamps at the Goodwill. It was a very fruitful endeavor if I do say so myself. I found a silver plated dish that is now cradling my perfumes and a cheeky change dish for M's dresser, if it will catch all that wayward change I would be beside myself. Here is what I am most excited about though, my new bentwood chairs,

They are a bit rickety and need some maintenance but for $6 you can't beat it and upon further inspection they were made in Yugoslavia, which isn't even a country anymore! How cool is that? The home-done upholstery job is a worn dark blue velvet that I actually really like, this could only have been a better find if there were four of them.

I had some pretty good luck in the kitchenwares aisle too. I found this adorable set black with tarnish.

It's a silver plated 3 piece tea service, I polished the outside, I'm just not sure what to use on the inside...

I also picked up this ugly lovely chair,

I love mustard color anything, and tufted mustard velveteen is just over the top for me. I'm not usually a big fan of cane on furniture but it works here. And if you look closely at the paperback it is an old edition of a William Blake collection, with a beautiful mustard and red cover, such a score. Even more impressive is that I fit all of these items into my little Honda Civic.

So what are you waiting for? Get out and hunt.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dining Room Reveal!

Teaser photo shot from the front parlor.....It is already better and brighter even from so far away!

The hated color before the transformation...

I am so excited that we actually accomplished something! Sounds lame I know, but there seem to be so many glaring eyesores in the house that demand attention. This one was my personal nemesis. I enjoy color, and I really like red, however, blood red walls in a dining room with almost no natural light and a dim fixture is a recipe for disaster. Every time we ate in this room I felt like I was in the belly of a beast. So naturally it was the first "not necessary" project that I embarked upon.

Not necessary is definitely not quite the same thing as unnecessary...

With floodlights on the walls, the color doesn't look so awful, but I don't care to dine in the glow of 100 W bulbs...

It took 3 coats of Kilz stain-blocking primer and 3 weekends to finish the job. It really wasn't that time consuming, it was just kind of boring and hard. I was in favor of painting after two coats of primer but M was adamant that we should do another, he was probably right. The new color is a light grey that reminds me of bleached oyster shells, two coats of Benjamin Moore--Lacy Pearl. We also followed my mum's advice and hit up the dingy ceiling with one coat of paint. We used Benjamin Moore ceiling paint, it is white and flat and gives a slight contrast.

Here are some final pictures with natural light. It mights seem bland, but I love the minimalist/clean feel of it, especially in such a dim room. We ended up buying 1.5 cans too much so I think this color may go well in the office too since it gets limited natural light and the walls up there are currently the color of rancid little mind is whirring at 100 mph with projects and fixits right now! Oh how I wish I could just focus on the house for a month straight.

And one final one of the room put back together. I need to find a sideboard, a Shaker bench and some interesting things to put on the walls. I'm hoping to score a few of those old 2 foot high galvanized milk jugs next time we head to Wisconsin, and I'm currently obsessed with mercury glass, odd mixture I know but I think it will turn out well.

I have a hoard of things to post about, namely some delicious thrift finds, come back soon my dears!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Best Roast Chicken Recipe Ever To Battle Your Winter Blues

I know, it is the silent, dark, dreariest part of winter. The holidays are over and there aren't any festivities on the horizon. We are all on diets, or at least watching our plates. We are tired and grumpy and exhausted after work. What's that you say? A quick, thoughtless recipe that will provide me with victuals for at least two days? And it's healthy? Nonsense!
No really, I'm quite serious, and if you're a good little kitchen mouse you can get the added bonus of a great broth by boiling down the leftovers! (and if you are just too tired, throw that carcass in the freezer for up to 6 weeks) Chicken soup to defeat your winter sniffles? Yep it is all here.
We get most of our groceries from the 32nd St. Farmer's Market, and we have a great meat vendor. Once a week I buy a roasting chicken. It seemed daunting at first, but I tried a few different recipes and found one that knocked my socks off. It doesn't require any fancy spices or doodads that normal people don't have in their kitchen's and it is absolutely delicious. This recipe is casual enough for a weeknight and fancy enough for guests. Just remember that you need at least one hour of roasting time. The secret bonus to this recipe is that the enchanting aroma of roast chicken will pervade your entire house, free aromatherapy! This recipe was found on Actually I just double checked and the original recipe is titled, "My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken Recipe" Courtesy of Thomas Keller, ok now I understand. (Thomas Keller is the famous chef/restaurateur of French Laundry fame) But let's get on with it.

Okay, here is the ingredient list:

One 2-3 pound farm raised chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Butter, optional
Dijon Mustard, optional

Here are the directions

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.

Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird.
Now, salt the outside of the chicken— (about 1 tablespoon). Just sprinkle it liberally all over and don't bother to rub it in. Season to taste with pepper and a dash of your favorite spice mix, if you want.

Place the chicken in a roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven and leave it alone— don't baste it, don't add butter. Roast it until it's done, 50 to 60 minutes.
Feel free to use this time to take a long soak, handle some overdue chores, do a jigsaw puzzle or have a glass of wine or two. I mean it, it really is 1 hour of free time, don't feel obligated to linger in the kitchen. After your lengthy break and the ding of the timer, remove the chicken from the oven. Baste the chicken with the juices, let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.

Now here is my favorite part of the directions! Separate the middle wing joint and eat that immediately. Portion up the rest of the bird to fit your dinner needs. Slather the meat with fresh butter and serve with mustard on the side. This recipe is idiot proof, and goes well with many different sides. We have this about once a week, it is especially good in the colder months because the oven toasts up the kitchen quite nicely. Try it out, I promise that you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

To Be Modern or Not To Be...?

I love this fan! It is a MinkaAire F602 modern twin-turbo fan in brushed nickel.
It is industrial and attractive, and it actually performs. After seeing it in action, I know that it packs a powerful breeze and will lay waste to the dog days of a Mid-Atlantic summer. M doesn't really like it and even I'm on the fence about how it would actually look in our house. I'm not sure if it is too modern for an old brick row-home. It definitely works in a loft space, or modern glass dwelling. I just don't know if it would work for our place. What do you think?

Yea or Nay?

p.s. We're finally painting! It wasn't planned at all, but I hope it works out.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Johnnie's Pastrami

Throughout my time in LA, I ate as many enchiladas, tamales, breakfast burritos and tacos as possible, per my usual custom. However my father is obsessed with the West Coast pastrami, also called a hot pastrami, so we ended up at Johnnie's Pastrami in Culver City, CA. First of all the diner is tiny, they only accept cash and they give you a bottomless dish of delicious pickles while you choose your order. Picnic tables are located on both sides of the building for overflow. There are dogs and burgers on the menu but I only have eyes for the hot pastrami. At 10.95 it seems expensive but when it arrives you know why. Almost as large as a loaf of bread, piled high with moist, thinly sliced pastrami, served piping hot. The sandwich is best shared or hoarded for a second meal, but it is nearly impossible to finish alone. I am an avowed pastrami hater and Johnnie's has converted me. If you are ever in the area check it out.

Happy Merry Fun Times

I've been busy, but here is a run-down of the holidays.
I am not much of a decorator to begin with and lack of general furniture prevented me from pulling out piles of ribbon or buying that olive wood nativity I was eyeing in Fell's Point. To put it succinctly, we have a 5 bedroom row home and only enough furniture to fill a 2 bedroom apartment. We have four chairs, 3 of them match and two of them are in the office. If we ever have company I guess we could haul them downstairs to the dining room...So there wasn't much to decorate anyway. We contemplated a tree, but we have a new member of the family who I was loathe to introduce to a Christmas tree with shiny hanging objects...enter Raven. She is an adorable Bombay that we adopted from the Baltimore SPCA a week before Thanksgiving. I didn't realize how much I missed having a pet. She is playful, and affectionate and exactly what we needed. So instead of precarious decorations we put a handmade wreath on the front door (from the 32nd St Farmer's Market that operates YEAR ROUND!) and we hung up the two Christmas cards we received this year, ahem family, and then we started to pack...

Our first holiday journey involved a transcontinental flight to Southern California for Thanksgiving. We took the city in style, meaning in true LA fashion we drove everywhere and ate some amazing food. My favorite experience from the trip was visiting the Queen Mary in Long Beach the retired super-luxe ocean liner from the 1930's, Drinking bloody mary's in the observation bar overlooking a windy Long Beach was amazing, and crawling through the Soviet submarine docked next to the Queen Mary was really interesting, I just don't recommend wearing a dress.
The next day more family arrived and we drove into the maze of Los Angeles, showing M the sights from the ever seedy Venice Beach, and the snotty Beverly Hills.

We returned home for a brief 3 weeks and headed out again but this time to chilly Milwaukee where the beer is good and the bratwurst is better. The coffee is actually damn good as well. We had a great time but our plans for sledding were foiled by sleety rain and standing engagements, but there is always hope for this year!

Hope you had a wonderful holiday season ~ what are your new year's resolutions?