Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Unstuffed Potato Knish

Here is a great recipe for a side dish that can be served at any occasion - whether for a big family get-together or a regular week night dinner. Either way, there won't be much left over!

You may be wondering what a "knish" is and there is no great literal translation that I can give you. Knish is a Yiddish word and according to wikipedia, "a knish consists of a filling covered with dough that is either baked, grilled, or deep fried.... In the most traditional versions, the filling is made entirely of mashed potato, ground meat, sauerkraut, onions, kasha or cheese...." Think of a calzone or empanada to get an idea of what it is.

But this recipe is for an unstuffed knish so you get to save a few calories from not having the dough :-)

8 potatoes
2 large onions
3/4 cup oil
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1/2 stick margarine (can use a little less)
1 T. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 egg yolk, beaten with a fork (optional to use whole egg)
sesame seeds

(Don't mind the burnt mark on the back splash... That will come up in a future post.)

1. Peel and cube potatoes. Cook in a pot of water for 1/2 hour, or until potatoes are soft.
2. While potatoes are cooking, dice onions and saute in a small amount of oil.
3. Mash potatoes until there are little to no clumps and add in onions.
4. Add the oil, eggs, flour, margarine, salt and pepper. Mix well.
5. Transfer mixture to a greased 9x13" pan and smooth out top.
6. Brush egg on top and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
7. Bake at 350 for one hour or until top is golden brown.
8. Enjoy it because once you serve it, it won't last long!

I made this one year (double recipe!) for our family's thanksgiving dinner and ever since then I have gotten requests every year to make it again. I keep telling my relatives that I am open to making something else, but they insist that I bring this!

Let me know how it comes out if you make it.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Trees are Down!

The trees are finally down and boy what a difference it made! You can actually see our house from the street and the street from our house. I have gotten so many compliments from neighbors about how much larger our yard looks now and how great it looks. Yay for curb appeal!

Below are some pictures of the men at work. Look how tiny the guy up in the tree is compared to the size of it. (I took this picture from inside because I didn't want to get too close!)

Here he is lowering a branch onto the ground. Again - look at the size of the branch compared to the house right behind it.

And finally, ginding the stumps. The one in front took about an hour to do!

And this is what is left from some of the side trees.

Now the challenge will be getting rid of all the mulch and filling up the holes that will be left after that. For now I put a post on craigslist offering free mulch, but because of the season I'm not sure if we'll get any takers. Once that is taken care of, I will need to fill the holes with soil and plant grass. From what I've read, spring and fall are the best seasons to plant grass, so I will wait until the end of March to do that, but in the meantime I will work on just leveling out the ground.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Night Table

While I wait for the tree company to return and grind the stumps before I post some "after" pictures of the yard, I'd like to share another fun furniture project I recently completed.  This time I worked on re-finishing a night table for my daughter.

I had been looking all around for one, but was unsuccessful finding something that was the look and size I was going for. Enter in my mom, who happened to have a plain wooden night table (still in the box) that was the perfect victim piece for me to test out some new skills.

This isn't a true "before" picture since I forgot to take one, but this is basically what it looked like.

After assembling it, I sanded it down to remove the glossy-like finish to it and then used some white latex primer and two coats of white paint that we had lying around. I used a brush, but I think in the future I would like to experiment with a small foam roller because that seems to be the latest technique that people have been successful with.

It still needed "something" so I went to Anthropologie and got a pink crystal pull to replace the plain one it came with. It is the same one I used for her desk because even though they aren't in the same room now, it is highly likely that they will end up that way. 

But it still wasn't finished yet...  I went to Michael's and got some scrapbook paper to modge podge onto the sides and drawer front. Now we're talking!

Needless to say, my daughter loved it and has already filled the drawer with her "treasures"!

Linking up here:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Trees Update

Well, the day has come and gone and the trees are still here...

All thanks to a not-so-lovely snow/ice storm that hit us over the weekend. Most of it has melted already, but with major fog and freezing rain in the forecast today, the tree company asked to reschedule for tomorrow. Stay tuned for some (hopefully) new photos next time!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Trees are Coming Down!

Now on to some exterior work... Our house is located on a corner lot, which is great because we get that little bit of extra land, but it also has some drawbacks. Namely four old, dying trees along one side of the street.
As you can see, they are growing dangerously close the the electrical wires, despite numerous trimmings by the local gas and electric company. The branches are also coming close to the house and this allows animals (squirrels) to jump onto our roof. I'm not really sure if there's any harm to that, but better safe than sorry!

One of the trees also has limbs that are breaking off and leaving huge branches in the street.

Not to mention some funky stuff that is growing up the trunk. It doesn't look so bad now, but in the warmer months, this stuff is green and nasty!

We also have a monstrosity of a tree out in front that is basically 4 trees growing out of one set of roots. Let me tell you, the roots of these tree are so long that they go all the way across our yard and under the fence to our neighbor's yard. We liked this front tree because of all the shade it gives the yard and it's great for the kids to play in the shade in the summer. And you might notice that we've already had some work done on it to try and shape it, but it just wasn't working.

Recently the tree started dropping limbs randomly. And I don't mean little twigs, I mean HUGE limbs that left holes in the ground. Like, if someone had been standing in that spot at the time, they would have ended up in the emergency room! So we knew the tree had to go.

While we were at it, we had the tree companies give us an estimate to remove this bush also. It doesn't really do much, and it's in the perfect spot to create a small vegetable garden. The kids are I are looking forward to doing that in the spring and this little corner (minus the bush) is really the perfect spot. 

We asked three different companies to come out. The first two came out promptly and the third called to say when they'd be coming and never showed up so we nixed them right away. The company we ended up choosing came in almost $1000 less than the other company, and we have used them before so we are confident they will do a good job. We were waiting until this time of year because the tree business is usually quieter at this time so companies will really try to give their best prices to get a job.

Stay tuned for some after pictures!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


So here's what our  looong dining room wall looks like. In a word, blah. Now, our house is not very big, a bit over 1400 square feet, but this wall is over 20 feet long!

Just for reference, this is what the room looked like right before we moved in (with the previous owner's stuff).

I admit, I kind of liked what was going on with the stripes, but they had to be brought into the 21st century. The wallpaper had to go (along with the green carpet, not to mention the chandelier)! We had the wallpaper removed and the walls painted before we moved in and we were fortunate that there was hardwood underneath the carpet that we had re-finished. But we lived with those plain walls for a few years, hadn't even hung up a picture, and I said "enough is enough!" So back to those stripes...

When I had a small vacation from work, the hubby and I measured and taped and measured and taped one night for what seemed like hours (probably because it was). That is not the most fun part, but it's all in the prep! I put little dots of tape in the areas that I was not supposed to paint just so I wouldn't get mixed up at any point.

This is what it looked like after the first coat of paint. The main wall color is "Bleached Almond" by Behr and the wall was painted in an egg-shell finish. The stripes are the same color but in a semi-gloss finish. The stripes are really subtle, which you'll see in a moment, but it really adds a nice layer, without too much contrast that it would be distracting to hang pictures on.


And here it is all complete. As I mentioned, you can see the stripes, but they are very subtle and depending on the lighting or from what angle you look at it, sometimes they disappear.

And my favorite part - ripping down all the tape (don't forget to do it before the paint dries!!). I just want to say that we used frog tape for this project and we had absolutely no painting seeping through. No touch-ups necessary! Amazing! I highly recommend it for any job like this. So what do you think?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pineapple Fruit Arrangement

My cousin recently had a baby boy and was hosting a open-house of sorts for family and friends to see the new cutie. I always hate going empty-handed to these types of events so I decided to make a nice fruit arrangement.

My brother-in-law was raving about this new gadget he got that "works like a corkscrew, helps you to core, peel, slice and cut a pineapple easily and quickly" and decided to give him a run for his money! Sure enough, this cool contraption worked its magic! I used the now-empty pineapple as a "container" and filled it with fresh blueberries and strawberries. I also saved the top of the pineapple and used toothpicks to stand it up on an angle.

The actual rings of pineapple slices were placed surrounding the pineapple, covered with more berries.

Here you can get a better view of inside the pineapple and the toothpicks holding up the top. You can also see a cup of freshly-squeezed pineapple juice that you could drink if you like.

Overall, I was quite pleased with how it came out. And it tasted good, too!

Monday, January 16, 2012

My First DIY Project

My first DIY furniture makeover was a desk for my daughter. I knew that she would need a desk to do her homework on and we really didn't have a good spot for her to do that. I had been reading blogs for a while and seeing all these amazing transformations of ugly, dingy furniture that had a Cinderella-like transformation and I thought to myself, "Hey, I can do that, too!"

So here's what I started with:

These are the photos from the Craigslist posting, so excuse the size/quality. It was $15 and the woman who was selling it included the chair also. It didn't match the desk, but I knew that with a little paint, I could make that less obvious.

After a deep sanding job - check out the scratches on the surface! - and a coat of primer, it was starting the look a little better. I admit that the curvy detailings of the desk legs were a bit of a challenge for a first timer (I think I would use spray paint in the future) but it was all a learning process! Two coats of white paint later, the desk and chair looked as good as new!

I got a pull from Anthropologie to replace the plain wooden one and that really glammed it up. For the chair, I had to be a little more creative. There was no cushion or fabric that I could just recover and I didn't want my princess to have to sit on a hard chair. So I went to JoAnn and got a piece of foam, batting, and some cute polka-dot fabric.

Sorry I don't have any in-progress shots, but I did this before I even considered having my own blog. I unscrewed the seat from the chair and put it upside down over the foam. I then traced around it and cut off the excess foam. If the seat would have been flat, I could have laid them both over the batting, but as you can see, there is quite a bit of a curve so I had to glue the foam to the seat so it wouldn't keep popping off. Once that was dry, I laid the batting on the floor and put the upside-down seat on top. I kept about a 1 1/2" border and cut off the extra batting. Then I stapled the batting to the underside of the seat, pulling fairly tight, but not too tight that the curve of the seat would disappear.

I did that some process with the fabric - laying it upside down, cutting off excess around seat, leaving a small border and then stapling it on the under side of the chair. I did the corners like you would do the corners of a present, and then cut off any bulky sections where the screws needed to go. The final step of the chair was screwing it back on to the frame and voila!

The inside of the drawer was pretty nasty so I wanted to do something about that. I couldn't believe it when I walked into Target and found polka-dotted wrapping paper that matched the chair fabric perfectly! It was a bit difficult to work with because it is thinner than scrapbook paper so I had to use very thin layers of modge podge, but I (and my daughter) think it came out great!

My husband and I decided that we should invest in a glass top to protect the surface and it was a great idea. The rounded corners added a bit to the price, but it was definitely worth it. My husband's friend works in the glass business, so he came out to the house and made a template so the size was perfect. Now my daughter is able to slip her favorite drawings underneath the glass and switch them out when she wants to. We also picked out some storage boxes for some of her "treasures."

First DIY project = success! What do you think?

Linking up here:

Our Fifth House

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hello World!

Well, hello world! I've decided to finally join the wonderful world of blogging. Not sure where this will lead, but I've been thinking about blogging for a while and absolutely love reading shelter blogs so I figured I'd give it a go myself. This will probably be a crazy mix of life, home decor, crafts, and maybe a little photography thrown in as well.

A little about me: I am a wife to an amazing man and mom to two beautiful, precious children. I am graphic designer at a non-profit institution but have always been interested in interior design and architecture as well. And I guess my love for arts and crafts as a child has grown into a love for crafting on a more sophisticated level.

Please join me as I experiment and see where this blog goes!