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02 Sep 19:13

Homemade Whole Wheat Flatbread

by A Beautiful Mess

Homemade Whole Wheat Flatbread  I've been experimenting with whole wheat flours and alternative flours lately. Why? Well, to tell you the truth, over the past couple of months, I have been changing the way I eat. I'm trying to educate myself and make healthier choices. Which is a lifelong process, but as of late, I've been making some pretty big changes to my diet. It's been overall really, really positive and I'm loving the process.

One change is I've been seeking more whole grains and whole wheat (or unprocessed) flours. Experiments in baking tend to take longer because you can't just adjust as you go like with cooking. I've made some version of this flatbread recipe quite a few times this past month. Some turned out rock hard and completely inedible, while others although edible, were not very tasty. But this version, this one is a keeper. :)

Homemade Whole Wheat FlatbreadIn fact I would go so far as to say that if you served this to someone and didn't tell them it was made with mostly whole wheat, I don't think they'd be able to tell. Which wasn't exactly my goal, but I'm just trying to give you an idea of how the texture of this flatbread is. One thing that totally changed it from my original attempts: white whole wheat flour. What a revelation!

What is white whole wheat flourWhat the heck is white whole wheat flour? I had honestly never used it before. I've mostly been experimenting with whole wheat and then a few alternative flours (like spelt, teff and coconut flour). But then I saw a bag labeled white whole wheat flour at the grocery store (King Arthur brand), and I immediately had to give that a try. You can see a side by side comparison of all-purpose flour on the left and white whole wheat flour on the right in the above photo. Apparently it's just a whole wheat flour that's made from hard white wheat, so it has a more mild flavor and texture. Cool. I love whole wheat but it can be a little testy to work with in baking as it can drastically change the texture and taste of a recipe fast. 

Whole Wheat Flatbread, makes 6-8.

2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

In a bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the warm water and sugar, stir to dissolve. Then sprinkle the yeast over the top and let that foam up for 5-6 minutes.

How to make flatbreadIn a large bowl, combine the flours and salt. Pour the yeasty water mixture in with the flour mixture and stir until a dough ball forms. Knead for 3-4 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise for an hour.

Punch the dough down and divide into 6-7 small balls. On a floured surface, roll the balls until they are flat and about 1/4 inch thick or a little less. You don't have to flatten them into tortillas, but you don't want them too thick or they won't cook all the way through. 

Cook in a hot (medium/high heat) skillet with a little oil for 3-4 minutes on each side. They may puff a little as you cook them and that's OK! That's how those more pronounced brown spots are formed. 

Homemade Whole Wheat Flatbread So what the heck do you use flatbread for? Well, for breakfast you can spread a little peanut butter and sliced fresh fruit over it. For lunch you can make an open face sandwich for tuna, egg salad or whatever you like to eat at lunch. For a snack you can use flatbread for dipping or spreading hummus over (or other dips). And for dinner I highly recommend you add sautéed veggies, add some cheese and then broil for a minute or two for an easy and light pizza. I'm not saying you should eat flatbread at every meal—I'm just giving you options here. :) Any flatbread you don't consume the day you make it I recommend storing in a ziplock bag or wrapping in plastic wrap and keeping them in the refrigerator, as they will last a little longer that way. Just toast them a few minutes on the stove or in the oven when you're ready to eat. Enjoy! xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

02 Sep 09:00

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

by Erica

One thing I remember from my childhood was the fear of burnt bacon. There was nothing my dad hated more. But somehow the bacon inevitably ended up singed. We even tried one of those microwave bacon gadgets, but to no avail.

In my teen years, I was determined to find a way to cook bacon without reducing it to ashes. I found that if I cooked it in a skillet over very low heat and flipped it often, it came out very evenly cooked. But it was so time-consuming and demanded so much attention that I dreaded making it.

Then I discovered that bacon cooks up beautifully in the oven—no turning necessary! I’ve been hooked ever since.

There are several ways to cook bacon in the oven. I’ll show you three methods and let you know which is my favorite!

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

First off, we have The Cooling Rack Method. I lined my baking sheet with aluminum foil, placed the rack on top, and laid out the bacon. It’s okay if the bacon is touching—it will shrink up a lot while it cooks.

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

Bake for about 20–30 minutes, or until it’s as crispy as you like it. I like mine about medium crispiness: not too limp, but not shatteringly crisp either.

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

Remove to a paper-towel-lined plate.

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

Look at that: a completely clean pan underneath!

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

The next way I tried was The Parchment Paper Method. I simply lined the pan with parchment paper and placed the bacon on top.

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

I was surprised that the bacon cooked more quickly than the cooling rack bacon. I was sure that the parchment would block the reflection of the pan and slow the cooking process.

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

Isn’t it gorgeous?

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

I was also very surprised to find that the pan underneath the parchment paper was clean. I thought some grease spots would leak through the parchment paper.

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

The last approach I tried was The Directly-on-the-Pan Method. Pretty much just as it sounds.

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

The bacon cooked up very nicely. This is actually the method that I’ve been using for years. But this way has the most cleanup.

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

Lovely, lovely bacon.

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

Of course, you can strain and save the grease for cooking, storing it in special grease storing containers or glass jars.

I know this is so granny, but I like to save yogurt or sour cream containers from time to time to pour cooled bacon grease into if I intend to get rid of it. Then I can just throw out the whole container. You can also freeze the grease before you put it in the bin on trash day.

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

So, which is my favorite method?

I didn’t really see an advantage to cooking the bacon on a rack, other than that it cooked out more of the fat. The ends seemed to cook faster than the middle. And you have to scrub bacon bits off the rack.

The directly-on-the-pan method is very simple and works well, but there is a lot of cleanup. You have to soak the pan before you can wash it.

I really didn’t think this would be the case, but I liked the parchment method the best. It had the least cleanup, and the bacon cooked really nicely. But it’s important to pour off the grease and throw out the parchment quickly—I made bacon again and left the parchment on the pan for hours, and the grease soaked through.

You can get the same effect by lining your pan with aluminum foil, but I’m kind of a hippie health nut, so I don’t like to cook my food directly on aluminum.


I cooked my bacon in a 400-degree oven, as directed on the package. If you’re cooking bacon ends and pieces or thick-cut bacon, a lower oven temperature works better. I cook uneven bacon at 350 degrees.

I like to check my bacon after 10–15 minutes of baking. When it’s getting close to being done, make sure to peek at it every few minutes. Bacon can go from not-quite-done to burnt very quickly.

I had heard that placing your bacon in the oven BEFORE you preheat it helps it to cook more evenly. I tried it with the first two batches, but I didn’t really see a big difference. It saves on energy, though!

It works best if you pour the grease out of the pan while it’s still warm. If you’re using a plastic container to hold the grease, make sure to wait until it cools a bit, otherwise it will warp or melt the plastic.

I don’t find the need, but if you’re really particular about cooking your bacon evenly, you can flip it halfway through the cooking time and also rotate the pan.

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

Now, go make yourself a BLT with all that awesome bacon!


02 Sep 12:58

make-believe: pencil case.

by erin

I lost my pencil case on a train three years ago. And I haven't really recovered.

It was more of a pencil pouch. A thin tube in soft leather that I'd bought for myself in France where such a thing is called a trousse. Over the years I'd filled it with carefully selected treats from my travels: a German pencil sharpener, an eraser from the Czech Republic, pencils from France, a pen from Italy. But all of it was gone without fanfare when I left the poor thing on my seat on the MetroNorth commuter line.

Risk of loss and subsequent heartbreak aside, if you have a soft spot for souvenirs but aren't sure you need a whole lot of pint glasses or commemorative plates filling your shelves, filling a pencil case is a nice alternative. Picking up a pencil or pen to tote home as a keepsake becomes doubly nice when put to use. (Which is, of course, the point.) There's something nice about sharpening a pencil picked up from a stationery shop in Paris until there's nothing left but a tiny nub and then replacing it with another from a tiny shop in Tokyo.

I may not be headed back to school this fall, but that hasn't stopped me from daydreaming about my ideal pencil case (and travel itinerary). I can practically hear the dull rumble of rifling through the filled pouch. Here's what I'd put inside:

1. This beautiful Missouri-made pouch.
2. This multi-holed sharpener.
3. This Czech eraser.
4. This extra-shiny pencil.
5. This softer version of a classic.
6. This fountain pen, because why not?
7. The accompanying ink, because of course.
8. A chubby set of colored pencils.
9. This brass ruler.
10. These brass clip numbers. Because, fancy.

More make-believe, HERE.
01 Sep 08:31

Ikea, move over: Bertolini Steel Kitchens introduces affordable, ready-to-assemble metal kitchen cabinets to the U.S.

by pam kueber

31″ steel sink base — including a drainboard sink (!), legs and pulls — just $173 [+ shipping]

bertolini kitchensWatch out, Ikea: Bertolini Steel Kitchens, which has been manufacturing metal kitchen cabinets for 45 years in Brazil, is making its move on the U.S. market. Offering affordable, ready-to-assemble steel kitchens with seven door styles, Bertolini has signed six dealers in Florida, with more in the works.

Steel kitchen cabinets were immensely popular in midcentury America following World War II — we’ve identified more than 70 vintage brands. Considering that Americans are now comfortable with the idea of ready-to-assembly [thanks, Ikea!] AND considering the renewed popularity of retro style AND considering that, according our price comparison, Bertolini’s steel cabinets appear to be competitively priced vs. Ikea’s fiber- and particleboard cabinets, the question now is: Can Bertolini win over a new generation of buyers in the U.S., the world’s largest market for cabinets, to the value, benefits and aesthetics of metal kitchen cabinets?

modern steel kitchen cabinetsLuis Garcia, director, Bertolini Steel Kitchens USA, is leading the effort to set up distribution and sales here. In a phone interview, he told me that as Bertolini has become increasingly efficient, it’s been able to grow into new markets. The company today sells $300 million (USD) worth of steel kitchen cabinets globally. Latin America as a region accounts for the majority of sales. Bertolini cabinets are sold in Walmart in Mexico! Sales in South Africa also are strong.

Steel kitchen cabinets
In a news release earlier this month, the company said, “their entry into the U.S. market marks their intentions to extend the availability of their exclusive DIY modular steel kitchen cabinets to the entire North American region.” Stay tuned, Canada!


Allegra in Ivory – a special-order color

Driving the decision to enter the U.S. market, Garcia said, “is that they’re a bigger company, have grown more internationally, with sales in the millions. This growth has allowed them to drive down cost and improve quality, packaging and marketing materials. They continue to make changes to product according to new markets in term of sizes, colors and styles.

And, he said, “Finally, my belief is that the time was right now, and that consumers are more willing to assemble and use affordable steel kitchen cabinets.”

Single center no Holes bertolini sinkSingle center with holes stainless steel drainboard sink bertolini

stainless steel drainboard sink bertolini

Full-width, integral stainless steel drainboards sinks are included in the price of all the sink bases.

Indeed, Garcia told me that Bertolini had looked at entering the U.S. market ten or 12 years ago, but a research firm advising the company expressed concern that consumers in the U.S. were not yet familiar enough the “knockdown” (KD) concept. That’s industry speak for assemble-it-yourself. Today, though, Ikea kitchen cabinets have taken the mystery out of the idea and in fact, those Ikea cabinets arguably have a cult following — at least at that price point in the market.

Bertolini seems to offer several benefits at similarly competitive prices. Not only does Bertolini make steel cabinets, but its KD sets are ready to rock and roll — they include legs, cabinets pulls, the laminate countertop and — get this — on sink bases, you get a stainless steel drainboard sink. I priced out a basic 30″(ish) sink base + sink + countertop at both. According to my comparison, Bertolini’s current list price [we’ll see if that holds up as the products are rolled out] is less — even so, they are made of steel — like Superman!  Note, there are a few product differences in my price comparison, though: Bertolini’s standard cabinets are about 3.5″ less deep than Ikea’s, and Bertolini’s larger drawers are wire bins. And, there is the issue of shipping. I am not Consumer Reports, though! There may be other pros and cons — on both sides — that we can assess when Bertolini’s cabinets can be placed side-by-side with Ikea’s and when consumer feedback about Bertolini’s entire value proposition — design + quality + price + ease of assembly + purchase experience — starts rolling in. 

Winning back U.S. customers’ affection for steel kitchen cabinets

Garcia acknowledged that a challenge in the U.S. will be reintroducing consumers to the benefits of steel kitchen cabinets. Here, everyone is now accustomed to wood — even though we may have memories of these cabinets. Luis himself remembers steel kitchen cabinets from his childhood — they were avocado green, and he thinks that his mother bought them from Sears.

Why did steel kitchen cabinets — once so popular — “aspirational”, even — fall out of favor in the U.S. I’ve written about this before — see my entire [Epic] history — but will repeat it in short:

  • Introduced in the 1920s or 1930s — very upscale — “hygenic” with the ability to fight spread of germs because mice and other vermin could not chomp through or on them
  • During World War II, massive build-up of steel production for armaments meant that after the war, the U.S. had all kinds of capacity to make steel — which then got poured into products. One of the main products: Steel cabinets
  • Popularity raged for 15 t0 20 years, into the early 1960s. Then, I hypothesize, a few things happened to change preferences:
  • 1) It’s possible steel prices increased, making steel kitchen cabinets less affordable.
  • 2) The one key downside of steel kitchen cabinets — that you cannot repaint them at will, easily — started to bother homeowners. With care, that painted enamel finish never wears off. You will get sick of it before it wears off.
  • 3) Marketeers — especially marketeers in the wood cabinet industry — pushed new doors styles not easily replicated in steel. The new styles had lots of molding on the front, much more decorative. Plus, they were just — new! Wood marketeers also pushed re-paintability as a feature. And yes, there is a “warmth” factor in wood, and it was likely symbiotic with the changing times.
  • The last steel kitchen cabinet company left standing was St. Charles, which was very upmarket, always the creme-de-la-creme. They stopped production in the early 2000s. The Viking Range company bought the brand and reintroduced steel cabinets in Dec. 2007, but they discontinued sales in Aug. 2012.

I love steel kitchen cabinets. Steel kitchen cabinets were the catalyst for my starting this blog. They definitely have benefits.

Bertolini points out: “Apart from the fact that they are Ready-to-Assemble (RTA), the cabinets are affordable and very easy to maintain, largely due to the mere fact that they are made of steel. The inherent properties of steel are passed on to the customer and maintained in the finished end-product line, such as being recyclable, non-toxic and harboring the ability to withstand harsh outdoor elements.”

As another example of a benefit, Garcia told me that they just finished a project outfitting 35 kitchens in St. Croix. St. Croix has a terrible termite problem, so the property owners wanted steel cabinets.

Nitty gritty

Some details about the Bertolini cabinet sets, from my research:

  • Entry level — no one is suggesting these are high-end cabinets.  [I don’t think anyone suggests Ikea are high-end either, hence I felt comfortable using that comp.] That said: Continue reading, and you will see reader Gert’s reaction to the Bertolinis that he just purchased and assembled: He called the doors “rather sturdy.”
  • You will not be able to order them online. You will need to order via a dealer. To find a dealer in your area, contact Bertolini directly.
  • Prices are the same for six of the door styles; Evidence [the flat slab door] is priced higher.
  • Measurements are in millimeters. See the catalog for the dimensions and then go online to translate. I am sure, that as Bertolini gets its distribution network in place, these will be converted to inches in the marketing materials.
  • Standard depth for base cabinets is 520 mm, which is 20.4724 inches; all the main styles offer an optional 600 mm depth, which is 23.622″, closer to the current U.S. standard of 24″ depths.
  • Note: A 20.7″ cabinet depth would be good for a bathroom! Can you say: Welcome backs, Lavanettes and Lavanities!
  • Similarly, standard wall cabinet sizes are a bit more dimunitive than current American standards — but upsizing is possible on a number of units.
  • Sinks are shallower than what we’re accustomed to in the U.S. They are about six or seven inches deep, Garcia said. Note: I looked and Ikea has the same issue with some of their sinks.
  • Cabinet pulls are a plastic with a laminated finish when you order the six standard door styles. With Evidence you get aluminum pulls. You can order the aluminum pulls for other door styles as an upcharge.
  • There are rounded what-not shelves.
  • There are wide little undercabinets with sliding glass doors in the vein of of GE Cabinettes.
  • There are optional chrome legs.
  • Filler pieces are available.

To make them look more retro — ditch the legs:

  • Ditch those legs — too contemporary. Build a plinth to set them on (plinth = kickplate thingy underneath base cabinets), be sure everything is level, install the base cabinets on it, and cover the toe board with molding painted black. Or: Install them on the legs, then put a plinth cover over them. Ikea makes plinth covers, maybe they would work.

Seven Bertolini Steel Kitchens door styles:

Bertolini Steel Kitchens “Allegra” door style:

bertolini-kitchens-allegraThere is something really likeable about Allegra. For a midcentury modest — or modern — kitchen, the curvy pressed metal under the door and drawer pulls soften the contemporary edge imposed by those long cabinet pulls. That is: Modern — but not eschewing all ornamentation. The whole look reminds me of the earliest Genevas, with their plastic recessed handles. A few other early steel cabinet designs also had reminiscent curves. For the dampering effects of these Goldilocks curves on the contemporary pulls, Allegra is my favorite door style.

Coinkadinkally, we had a reader — Gert Berntsson in Sweden — post his Allegras on our Facebook page earlier this month. You can see their shape much better in his photos than in the CAD marketing images:

bertolini-kitchenbertolini-cabinetsGert told me via email, “I always check out the local hardware stores when travelling, and years ago I found the steel cabinets.” I guess he then was able to obtain them locally, although I did not pursue those details.

Anticipating that I would ask about his impression of the quality, Gert said that he hasn’t handled a vintage steel kitchen cabinet, so could not make the comparison. He said that the sides feel “a bit thin/flexible — but I haven’t yet fixed them to the wall and floor. I will have them on plinths. The paint work is good, handles are plastic but acceptable. The doors/fronts are double skin and rather sturdy, some small dents can be found, probably from production rather than transport.”

Gert also told me that this color is not white — it is ivory — and while it is not shown in the catalog, is available on demand.

THANK YOU, Gert!!!!

Yes, I asked Luis Garcia of Bertolini, and he confirmed you can order ivory — and beige, here in the U.S. He sent me these photos:

bertolini-allegra-ivorybertolini kitchens


Discontinued “Personale” door style. But you can still get this color.

I LOVE that ivory! I think that it makes the cabinets even more retro-looking [rather than contemporary]. In general, my eyes can’t take bright white anymore. I would probably not pair it with white appliances, though. I’d go for stainless, or a color if I had the dough-re-mi.

The value-priced “Pratica” package combines pre-selected options from Allegra:

modern steel kitchen cabinets“Pratica” is the name for Bertolini’s value-priced package of pre-selected Allegra cabinets, all boxed up and ready to go. Perfect for a small kitchen where a no-muss, no-fuss, low-priced installation is desired. There are a couple of different options, you can see them in this snip from the Bertolini-Brasil catalog:

pratico-packagesTwo choices of sink base… matched with four choices of the other three cabinets combined… and boom, out it goes. If you want to add pieces later, choose from the Allegra line to do so.

Bertolini Steel Kitchens’ “Classica” door style:

modern steel kitchen cabinets

In this CAD image, we get a sense of how the cabinets would look if they were set on a plinth, rather than on legs.

modern steel kitchen cabinetsmodern steel kitchen cabinets

Bertolini Classica steel kitchen cabinets

Not a CAD image — Classica as photographed in the showroom.

Bertolini Classica

Another photo of Classica in the showroom – [I think the pulls are not the standard aluminum pulls]

Classica has slab doors, which is what we see most on vintage steel kitchen cabinets. It is the only door style that comes with metal pulls — these are aluminum [you may special order them for other cabinets at an upcharge.] And, it also is the only door style that costs more than the others.

With the long, chunky aluminum cabinet pulls, I see these cabinets entering Dwell-contemporary [rather than Retro Renovation retro] mode. For that reason, I would hesitate to put these in a midcentury modest kitchen.

Bertolini Steel Kitchens “Gourmet” door style:

I also like the look of the Gourmet door style for a midcentury kitchen — either modest or modern. Dig that glass!!!
bertolini steel kitchen cabinets gourmet door stylebertolini-gourmet-kitchen-cabinetsbertolini steel kitchen cabinets gourmet door style

Bertolini Gourmet metal kitchen

“Gourmet” kitchen cabinets photographed in the showroom

Bertolini kitchens Gourmet glass

I love the glass in Gourmet!

Bertolini Steel Kitchens “Evidence” door style:

Some additional curves go into Evidence, you get different glass, and the white pulls:

bertolini-kitchen-sink-base-evidencebertolini metal kitchen cabinets bertolini evidencesteel kitchen cabinets bertolini evidence

Bertolini Steel Kitchens “Ideal” door style:

These steel doors are pressed to look like cottage beadboard. Knowing what I do about historical steel kitchen cabinets, this style gives me cognitive dissonance, but here you go:bertolini-kitchens-ideal bertolini kitchens ideal door stylebertolini ideal kitchen

steel kitchen cabinets

Ideal as photographed in the showroom (not a CAD image)

Bertolini Steel Kitchens “Luna” door style:

If I were to tie this to any decades, I’d say 1980s and early 1990s. Ditto the cognitive dissonance:


Pantry cabinet kits:


All the door styles can be made up into pantry cabinet kits, too.

Choosing cabinet pulls:

  • Most of the styles come with cabinet pulls that are some sort of plastic laminated with a metal-look finish. Classica comes with aluminum pulls — you can order up to these, if you like.
  • You could also looks for replacements elsewhere. Center-to-center measurements are in millimeters, I don’t know how tough it’s going to be to find these sizes in the U.S.:
    • 40cm door: 192mm/  or  (7-9/16”) inches
    • 60cm door: 256mm/  = (10-5/64) inches

Choosing a countertop:

carrara-laminate-bertoliniAll of the base units include a choice of laminate countertop in the price. To get as close to an historical look, I’d go with the Carrara. The way I understand the modularity of these kitchens is that: If you are screwing several units together, you are going to have the laminate countertop edges butting up one against another. In this case, if you can afford it, order your Bertolinis sans the countertops, then go to Home Depot or Lowe’s or another big box store, and order custom laminate countertops there. Or, check out Heffron’s for special-order retro laminates. See all of our research on kitchen countertops by clicking here.

Links to more information about Bertolini Steel Kitchen cabinets:

The post Ikea, move over: Bertolini Steel Kitchens introduces affordable, ready-to-assemble metal kitchen cabinets to the U.S. appeared first on Retro Renovation.

31 Aug 19:00

BLT Stuffed Avocados

by Joanne

omg. omg.

If there’s one thing I get at the grocery store every time I go, it’s avocados. Avocado is like the bacon (aka ruler) of the plant world, and I must have it in my kitchen at all times (like bacon). You’ll find me eating avocado toast for breakfast most days, and all of my life’s BLTs have turned into BLATs. Avocado makes everything better!

BLT Stuffed Avocados on The Pioneer Woman: Food & Friends. (Recipe and post from Joanne Ozug of Fifteen Spatulas)

I have my father-in-law to thank for my frequent practice of stuffing avocados. A few years ago, he brought over shrimp salad stuffed avocados for Thanksgiving (a little odd, but delicious nevertheless), and since then I’ve been stuffing avocados with all sorts of yummy collections of ingredients. These BLT stuffed avocados are my favorite. Ripe avocados are filled with crispy bacon bits, homemade bacon fat croutons, tomatoes, and romaine. It’s one big happy family of flavor.

BLT Stuffed Avocados on The Pioneer Woman: Food & Friends. (Recipe and post from Joanne Ozug of Fifteen Spatulas)

To get started, cook four slices of thick-cut bacon in a skillet.

BLT Stuffed Avocados on The Pioneer Woman: Food & Friends. (Recipe and post from Joanne Ozug of Fifteen Spatulas)

While that cooks, cut two slices of sourdough bread into small cubes.

BLT Stuffed Avocados on The Pioneer Woman: Food & Friends. (Recipe and post from Joanne Ozug of Fifteen Spatulas)

When the bacon is crisp and finished cooking, remove to a paper towel lined plate and toss the bread cubes into the skillet.

BLT Stuffed Avocados on The Pioneer Woman: Food & Friends. (Recipe and post from Joanne Ozug of Fifteen Spatulas)

Cook for about five minutes, tossing often, until the croutons are golden and crisp.

BLT Stuffed Avocados on The Pioneer Woman: Food & Friends. (Recipe and post from Joanne Ozug of Fifteen Spatulas)

Chop the cooled crispy bacon up into small pieces.

BLT Stuffed Avocados on The Pioneer Woman: Food & Friends. (Recipe and post from Joanne Ozug of Fifteen Spatulas)

Hello, bacon + bacon fat croutons. Best friends forever.

BLT Stuffed Avocados on The Pioneer Woman: Food & Friends. (Recipe and post from Joanne Ozug of Fifteen Spatulas)

To prepare the tomatoes, slice through the middle hemisphere and push out the seeds and juice with your finger or a butter knife.

BLT Stuffed Avocados on The Pioneer Woman: Food & Friends. (Recipe and post from Joanne Ozug of Fifteen Spatulas)

Chop the tomatoes into small pieces, as well as some fresh romaine lettuce.

BLT Stuffed Avocados on The Pioneer Woman: Food & Friends. (Recipe and post from Joanne Ozug of Fifteen Spatulas)

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.

BLT Stuffed Avocados on The Pioneer Woman: Food & Friends. (Recipe and post from Joanne Ozug of Fifteen Spatulas)

Then add a couple tablespoons of mayo, a sprinkle of salt, and some freshly cracked black pepper.

BLT Stuffed Avocados on The Pioneer Woman: Food & Friends. (Recipe and post from Joanne Ozug of Fifteen Spatulas)

Stir it all together to coat. The stuffing is now done!

BLT Stuffed Avocados on The Pioneer Woman: Food & Friends. (Recipe and post from Joanne Ozug of Fifteen Spatulas)

Slice 3 or 4 avocados in half through the middle, around the pit.

BLT Stuffed Avocados on The Pioneer Woman: Food & Friends. (Recipe and post from Joanne Ozug of Fifteen Spatulas)

Sprinkle the tops of the avocados with sea salt.

BLT Stuffed Avocados on The Pioneer Woman: Food & Friends. (Recipe and post from Joanne Ozug of Fifteen Spatulas)

Spoon a couple heaps of BLT filling into all of the avocado halves.

BLT Stuffed Avocados on The Pioneer Woman: Food & Friends. (Recipe and post from Joanne Ozug of Fifteen Spatulas)

It’s ready to eat and enjoy!


30 Aug 21:00

The Ultimate Guide to Hand Washing Your Laundry

by Jennifer Hunter

Add to list of things to do before winter

Stop dropping big bucks at the dry cleaner. You really can clean your delicates at home in your bathroom sink as long as you do it the right way. Here's everything you need to know.


31 Aug 09:00

Lettuce Wraps

by Ree

Lettuce wraaaaaaaps!

Lettuce wraps are everything. Absolutely everything. And I know they’ve been around forever, and I know they’re everywhere, and I know I shouldn’t have worn turquoise mascara when I got my senior pictures taken back in the eighties. I get that. But I’m not sorry.

(For the lettuce wraps or the turquoise mascara.)

Here’s how I like to make them!

Lettuce WrapsFirst, make the marinade for the chicken, which is the cat’s meow, the bomb, and Heaven. It starts with hoisin sauce…

Lettuce WrapsAnd soy sauce

Lettuce WrapsNext, squeeze in a little Sriracha, also known as I Love the Stuff.

Lettuce WrapsA little rice wine vinegar (or heck, any vinegar!) is good…

Lettuce WrapsAnd some minced garlic and minced ginger.

Lettuce WrapsNext, just slice a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts into strips…

Lettuce WrapsAnd add them to the marinade, tossing it around to coat it. Then cover it and pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours. You’ll be soooooo glad you did.

Lettuce WrapsAfter that time, grill them on a grill pan (or you can saute them…)

Lettuce WrapsUntil they’ve got fabulous grill marks and are totally cooked through.

Lettuce WrapsOh, and one more thing! Grab a package of those super thin cellophane noodles and pour boiling water over them in a bowl.

Lettuce WrapsRead the package to see how long they need to sit; it doesn’t take long at all for them to be soft and tender and magical. Then rinse them in cold water so they’ll stop cooking…but also so they’ll be cool!

Lettuce WrapsGracious. Will you look at that chicken for a sec?

Oh, and what the heck, go ahead…take two secs!

Lettuce WrapsPile it on a board with shredded carrots (these are the packaged ones), sliced red cabbage, cilantro leaves, julienne cucumbers, and of course…lettuce leaves.

Lettuce WrapsInvite your friends over!

Or don’t, depending on how hungry you are.

Lettuce WrapsOh! Chopped peanuts! (Cashews are good, too!)

Oh, and another thing: Bean sprouts. Love those in lettuce wraps. I just didn’t have any.

Lettuce WrapsTo build the beautiful babies, grab a lettuce leaf and drizzle in a little sweet chili sauce…

DSC_0760Lay on a couple of pieces of chicken…

Lettuce WrapsThen throw on everything else: noodles, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, cilantro, peanuts, a little more chili sauce (or hoisin or soy or Sriracha.)

(I didn’t take a photo of the lettuce wrap—or me—after I took my first bite. It wasn’t pretty.)

(But it sure tasted pretty.)

Enjoy, friends!


Note: The printable recipe is at the top of this post, over on the right sidebar. You can also access the printable recipe here:

Lettuce Wraps Printable Recipe

I’m still working to get the actual printable put into the post itself, but in the meantime, here’s the straight-up recipe if you’d like to see what’s in it!

Lettuce Wraps


1/3 cup Hoisin Sauce
1/3 cup Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Grated Ginger
1 Tablespoon Sriracha
1 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
3 cloves Garlic, Grated
2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into Strips
1/4 cup Chopped Cilantro
8 whole Butter Lettuce Leaves
1 cup Bean Sprouts
1 cup Thinly Sliced Red Cabbage
1 cup Julienne Carrots
1 cup Cucumber Slices
2 Tablespoons Chopped Peanuts
1 cup Cooked Thin Rice Noodles
Sweet Chili Sauce, For Serving


For the chicken and marinade: Mix the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, grated ginger, Sriracha, rice wine vinegar and grated garlic in a large bowl or resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken strips and marinate, refrigerated, for 2 hours.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.

Remove the chicken strips from the marinade and grill until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with the peanuts and cilantro.

For the lettuce and fillings: Set out the lettuce, bean sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers and rice noodles on the serving platter.

To assemble, use the butter lettuce leaves to contain the chicken and fillings. Add some chili and hoisin sauce, then roll them up and eat!

27 Aug 13:18

Make Your Own Rose Water Face Mist

by A Beautiful Mess

Make your own hydrating face mist! All natural ingredients- super easy DIYI've been a fan of face mists for a couple years now. (I've used this one and this one and love them both.) Recently, when I started looking at the ingredients in the mists, I realized this would be super easy to make at home. I customized the formula to my own preferences and it turned out super well. Today I'm here to share an easy recipe for making your own refreshing, hydrating face mist at home. 

Make your own hydrating face mist! All natural ingredients- super easy DIY In a glass spray bottle, combine—2 teaspoons Pure Aloe Vera, 1 teaspoon Pure Vitamin E Oil, 1 teaspoon Pure Argan Oil, 4 drops Geranium Essential Oil, 2 drops Ylang Ylang Essential Oil, 4 drops Peppermint Essential Oil, 6 tablespoons Pure Moroccan Rose Water. Next, fill half the remaining bottle with Unscented Witch Hazel Toner and then top it off with distilled water. Shake and spray. 

Other things I used—glass spray bottle (I used this one but on second thought a tinted bottle might be cuter since the oil and water do not mix, which my husband called "gross". Here's another good option.), tiny funnel, distilled water. 

If you don't have every single ingredient, it's OK! You can tweak the ingredients list a little. It's really not a big deal. Essential oils are kind of expensive if you only need them once, so I borrowed mine from a friend! 

Make your own hydrating face mist! All natural ingredients- super easy DIY  Make your own hydrating face mist! All natural ingredients- super easy DIY   Since this mist contains both oil and water, just shake it a little before you spritz! 

Oh—I also used letter stickers from the art section at the craft store to label my bottles (I made two. I'll share the second one sometime soon!) 

This face mist smells SO GOOD. I use mine in the morning (makes me feel more awake) and throughout the day I'll do a little spritz if I want to add a little moisture on top of my makeup. 

Make your own hydrating face mist! All natural ingredients- super easy DIY    As an added bonus, I've been using my new aloe and vitamin E oils on their own, just on my skin. So even though you do have to buy a bunch of ingredients to make this mist, it's good to know that it's stuff you can actually use anyway. Also you can use the ingredients to make refills for a long time, or make extras as gifts! 

xoxo- Elsie 

Credits// Author and Photography: Elsie Larson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions

26 Aug 08:30

From sketch to advertisement: Louisa Kostich Cowan’s 1954 bedroom design

by pam kueber

That bed piece! Headboard! Side tables! Dressing tables! Wall divider!

louisa cowan designHere’s a before-and-after of a different stripe: Up top, the original rendering for a 1954 Armstrong Flooring advertisement by Armstrong’s Louisa Kostich Cowan. And just below it: The rendering as it was actually built out and featured in publications. Hey — I spy George Nelson Bubble Lamp Pendants — don’t forget to enter our giveaway for one, contest ends tomorrow [Thursday, Aug. 27.]

louisa-cowanAbove: This photo of Louisa Kostich Cowan’s rendering was taken by Al Reist of Reist Auctioneers, who ran the Cowan estate sale auction this summer. I connected with him, and he gave permission for us to feature it here. I had such a lovely talk with him about these drawings — like all of us, he was mesmerized.

mid century modern bedroomAbove: This photo is taken from a very large image in my personal collection. So interesting, how Armstrong decided to keep the basic design, but changed up the palette. I will guess: Armstrong may have already had the orange lounge chairs, so to economize they reversed some things. Or perhaps, they decided to address other colors they were marketing this year? In any case: Such a beautiful bedroom!

The post From sketch to advertisement: Louisa Kostich Cowan’s 1954 bedroom design appeared first on Retro Renovation.

24 Aug 12:11

one-pot pasta.

by erin
one-pot pasta for camping and tiny apartments | reading my tea leavesWhile we were in Maine we attempted one-pot pasta for the first time. I've been meaning to make it for forever and what better excuse than camping to try something new and easy and that dirtes only one pot to boot?

The result was a delicious, creamy, wholly satisfying meal that required nary a strainer or second pot. A camping dream, but a tiny apartment dream, too.
one-pot pasta for camping and tiny apartments | reading my tea leaves
We opted for the classic approach ingredients-wise: olive oil, fresh tomatoes, sea salt, garlic, onion, and pasta. Because we were working with the cast iron pot that's slightly on the small side, I improvised on the measurements that I found on a few different recipes that I found online. I also decided to add fresh mozzarella while camping. Minus a slight foible in filling the pot with a bit too much cheese in an enthusiastic attempt not to have cheesy leftovers to deal with, the experiement worked and then some. I recreated the same here, with slightly less mozzarella. I'd say you can follow measurements I've provided if you want to, but you can also wing it depending on the size of your pan, and you'll probably end up a-ok.

To make preparation even easier, we used tiny sungold tomatoes and bocconcino mozzarella so that I didn't even need to dice tomatoes or cheese. I've used them here, too, but you can certainly make the same thing with diced tomatoes and cheese.
one-pot pasta for camping and tiny apartments | reading my tea leaves
One-Pot Pasta
adapted mostly from this recipe on Martha Stewart

What you need:
12 ounces of pasta (we used fusilli but you can use what you love)
1 small yellow onion, sliced
3-4 cloves of garlic
12 ounces sungold tomatoes (we didn't slice them, but they all burst beautifully)
a small handful (or so) bocconcino mozzarella (or cubed mozzarella)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3-4 sprigs of basil, stalks removed
3 cups water (or enough to cover the ingredients)
olive oil
one-pot pasta for camping and tiny apartments | reading my tea leaves
What to do:
Add all of the ingredients to the pot, finishing with a generous glug or four of olive oil. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes or so, until the water has evaporated and the pasta is al dente. Serve. Gloat.
one-pot pasta for camping and tiny apartments | reading my tea leaves
If you want a mess-free approach to meal cleanup, forgo the mozzarella. Even with using less of it, it was a little bit of a bear to clean up in round-two, too.

More tomato-y stuff, HERE.
18 Aug 20:30

Here's How Young Kids Can Help in the Kitchen — The Kitchn

by Apartment Therapy

Want to involve your kids in cooking? We've put together a list of all the ways young kids can help out in the kitchen, with activities tailored to their age and ability. So whether they're two or 10, you can train up a little sous chef!

From The Kitchn → How Young Kids Can Help in the Kitchen: A List of Activities by Age


29 Jul 08:30

Emily transforms an old TV entertainment center into an adorable play kitchen

by Kate

vintage play kitchenRemember Emily & Drew’s charming 1940s style kitchen remodel? Well Emily has been at it again, building a second kitchen for their vintage home. This time, though — it was a child’s play kitchen upcycled from an old TV entertainment center — and it is quite possibly the cutest thing ever.

vintage play kitchenEmily mentioned that our first 1940s kitchen design mood board was among her inspirations. She paid close attention the details, including installing a faux marmoleum countertop with metal edging, real stove burners, oven knobs that turn, a tile backsplash, what-not shelves and even a chrome thermometer for the refrigerator. Emily spent four months on this project from start to finish, and predicts this play kitchen will likely become a family heirloom to be passed down throughout the generations.

vintage play kitchenEmily isn’t the first person to transform an old TV stand/cabinet into a play kitchen. This upcyling DIY trend has been gaining momentum on the internet over the last several years — resulting in many different variations of play kitchens created from cast off furniture. Because the old TV cabinets like the one Emily used are falling out of favor due to newer sleeker flat screened televisions that do not require cabinets to hide their bulk, these cast off cabinets are often found very cheaply or even for free on Craigslist and along the side of the road.  If you have the ability to see potentials in these pieces, a little bit of creativity, some carefully chosen materials and time to put it all together, you too could make an adorable vintage style play kitchen for the weebit (or weebit at heart) in your life.

Congrats on a job well done, Emily, and thanks so much for sharing the results with us.

Read more about this transformation project over on Emily’s blog:

  • You can read more about Emily’s project — and see more photos — over on her blog prairie loon.

Can’t get enough of the play kitchen cuteness? Check out the links below to other adorable DIY play kitchens:

vintage play kitchen

The post Emily transforms an old TV entertainment center into an adorable play kitchen appeared first on Retro Renovation.

04 Aug 15:09

takeout-style sesame noodles with cucumber

by deb


takeout-style sesame noodles with cucumber

Is there anything more inspiring than a farmer’s market at the height of the summer, piled high with funky heirloom tomatoes, eggplants from fairytale to freakishly large, crinkly peppers, bi-color corn as far as the eye can see and stone fruits in every color of the rainbow? Wouldn’t this be a great time to cook with all of them? Isn’t it almost a moral imperative to fill our systems with as much of summer as we can before it passes and we spend the rest of the seasons pining for its return? Probably, I mean, yes, of course. But cravings are cravings, and what I’ve really been dreaming about is so-called Chinese food, like, the terrible stuff that comes unceremoniously in white boxes with an embarrassment of chopsticks (because they thought you were ordering for a dozen people, and not just the three of you). I’ve long accepted that if I don’t at least occasionally indulge cravings, they’re never going to pass.

... Read the rest of takeout-style sesame noodles with cucumber on

© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. | permalink to takeout-style sesame noodles with cucumber | 150 comments to date | see more: Chinese, Cucumber, Gluten-Free, Lunch, Photo, Quick, Summer, Vegetarian

22 Jul 18:50

dinner for two: thai summer veggie bowls

by kickpleat

summer thai veggie bowl | everybody likes sandwiches

I whipped this up one night last week when I didn’t feel like cooking. I was this close to ordering in take out, but take out is unhealthy and my fridge had some very healthy items that needed to be used up. Cute, tiny summer squash from the farmer’s market, a few random leaves of kale, some baby bok choy, and a 1/2 a can of coconut milk. It seemed like my fridge was telling me: make a stir fry now! And so I listened.

After my vegetables were prepped and ready, I realized that I was out of soy sauce. Instead of panicking, I decided to go with fish sauce as an instant replacement. It was a good move. I also added in some Indian curry paste (though I’m sure a Thai curry would have been more authentic) and my good ol’ standby, chili garlic sauce. If you want something really hot, a squirt or two of sriracha is the way to go.

summer thai veggie bowl | everybody likes sandwiches

In no time, or so it seemed (really, this is a 30 minute meal), dinner was ready. I served this over Japanese sushi rice, which is probably the quickest rice to use when you’re in a hurry and you don’t want to heat up your kitchen any more than you need to. Lucky for us, it was really delicious and way better than greasy delivery pizza.

summer thai veggie bowl | everybody likes sandwiches

thai summer veggie bowl
This can easily be made vegan if you substitute soy sauce for the fish sauce. And if you’re gluten free, fish sauce fits the bill. If you’re both vegan and gluten free, well, I’m guessing you have your own tricks and say in the matter. This makes 2 servings, but you can scale this up easily. 

1 T coconut oil
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 T fresh ginger, finely chopped
1/4 onion, sliced
2 baby summer squash (or a small zucchini), diced
8 heads of baby bok choy, cut in half
4 kale leaves, stems removed, leaves sliced
1/2 can of coconut milk
1 heaping T chili garlic sauce
1 T fish sauce
1 t curry paste or powder
1 t agave syrup or honey
1/2 lime
cooked rice or grain of your choosing, to serve

In a large skillet, heat coconut oil over medium heat and add in garlic, ginger and onion. Let it get fragrant, but not brown. Stir in the summer squash, stirring to make sure it gets a bit of colour on a side or two – 1 minute or so. Add in the kale and bok choy and stir it for a minute before pouring in the coconut milk, chili garlic sauce, fish sauce, honey and curry paste. Let the liquids come to a boil and reduce slightly. Give it a big squeeze of lime and serve it immediately over rice or the grain of your choice. Makes 2 servings.

24 Jul 17:30

How To Clean Electric Stove Burners — Apartment Therapy Tutorials

by Ashley Poskin

Does your pot frequently runneth over? If you're part of the regularly-sets-off-the-smoke-alarm-while-cooking-dinner club, chance are your stove burners are in desperate need of attention. Whether it's your fault, or the previous tenants', the burners aren't going to clean themselves.


21 Jul 16:30

Storage with Style: 15 Bins & Baskets

by Carrie McBride

For most of us, it's just not practical to stash everything away in a drawer or closet. Bins and baskets are a great way to keep things handy, but also contained. Whether you're looking for an attractive way to store some toys in the living room, a place to stash your knitting project or your favorite magazines, here are fifteen stylish options that will look good in any room:


15 Jul 12:12

life in a tiny apartment.

by erin
life in a tiny apartment: tiny storage | reading my tea leaves
Tip #126: Find Tiny Storage Solutions

People ask me an awful lot how I manage to stay organized in a small space. Usually my answer is that I stay organized in a small space in the same way that I would in a much larger space: namely by not having too much stuff to organize. But while that's largely true, I realize that it might seem like an unsatisfactory answer. Even for someone who tries to keep her material goods in check, there's still the question of wrangling and organizing what we do have and the wrangling of tiny things themselves can be particularly challenging. For me, a frequent solution is tiny bags. In packing for a weekend away and in keeping little things from spilling out of my kitchen cabinets, small cloth bags—typically of the variety that come for free with with gifts or clothing purchases—are probably my number one organizing secret. Not so secret anymore.

I keep one in the medicine cabinet with medicine and other things that would otherwise look cluttered and messy out on the shelf. I keep a collection of them in a kitchen cabinet where I use them to store everything from extra mason jar lids to wine bottle stoppers and extra cheese cloth and spice bags. There's another one in my toiletry kit for stashing hair elastics. There's a small zipped pouch with essential oils in a basket in the bathroom. And another one with nail polish. There are even slightly larger bags kept under the sink for housing plastic garbage pags and dishwasher detergent.

For me, organizing without these kinds of catchalls requires too much commitment to keeping things perfectly lined up or beautiful enough to merit display. Little bags make it easier. Because I find that anything that gets tucked out of sight can end up getting lost (or unruly), the key for not having the bags become part of the problem themselves is to keep only like with like. Once I start using a single bag to store mason jar lids and extra spice bags and bottle stoppers, the likelihood that it will also trap other unwanted things seems to grow exponentially. But keeping one small bag filled only with mason jar lids keeps the number of them that accumulate in check and means that I always know where to find them.

In case you don't have a stash of these bags handy, here's a little set you can buy. (Though at 50/pack I'd suggest going in with a friend or five.)

If you're hoping for something larger and lightweight, produce bags might do the trick. And

If you're looking for something that's a little more sturdy, these waxed canvas ones with a zipper would be awesome.

And definitely keep your eyes peeled: there are more of these bags floating around out than you'd think.

Tiny Apartment Survival Tips #1 - 125, RIGHT HERE.
08 Jun 13:12

Spicy Tempeh Taco Salad

by A Beautiful Mess

MMMMM I want this, please!

Tempeh Taco Salad (via  This is probably my favorite homemade salad. I know, right?! I may change my mind someday so don't hold me to it, but this is at least my current favorite and easily in the top five. 

I really can't take all the credit either because this salad is very much inspired by a favorite salad I order at a bar I love (in Springfield) called JOB Public House. Mine is a little different, plus I'm not entirely sure what all they put in theirs. But this is at least quite similar, so I gotta give them the credit and also say thank you because I LOVE that salad. :)

Tempeh Taco Salad (via So what's so great about this taco salad anyway? Well, first off, it's vegetarian-friendly, which is nice for me, because a great vegetarian taco salad is hard to come by. It's super filling because the tempeh provides quite a bit of protein, and I actually like the texture quite a bit better than ground beef. And my favorite feature is the spicy mayo. Yum! Use a good quality mayo with no added sugar and you'll find that this salad is exceptionally healthy for how flavorful it is. Which is a major win-win in my book.  

Tempeh Taco Salad (via    Spicy Tempeh Taco Salad, serves 2.

8 oz. tempeh
1/2 white onion
3 cloves of garlic
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
salt + pepper
small handful of fresh cilantro (maybe a heaping tablespoon once chopped for those who MUST have a measurement)
half a head of lettuce (or more if you want even more veggies)
2-3 tablespoons salsa (make your own, or use a jar like I did)
1/4 cup mayo
1 tablespoon Sriracha
2 flour tortillas

Cube the tempeh. It will crumble more as you cook it, so it's OK if it's larger cubes. Finely chop the white onion. Mince the garlic.

You can go ahead and stir together the mayo and Sriracha. Set aside until you need it.

How to make baked taco salad shellsIf you want to turn the taco shells into plates, then drape your shells over two oven safe bowls that have been lightly coated in oil. Bake at 350°F for 8-12 minutes until the edges begin to brown. In case you're skipping flours/breads right now, just know that this salad is still super delicious without the shells too. I often eat it without...just giving you some options. Plus the tortilla plates are too cute. 

Sauté the onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until the pieces begin to brown (2-3 minutes). Add a little more oil to the pan. Then toss in the tempeh and garlic. Generously season everything with salt and pepper and continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes so everything gets nice and hot. 

Tempeh Taco Salad (via up the lettuce. Assemble the salad: tortillas, lettuce, tempeh mix, salsa, chopped cilantro, and spicy mayo. I like to enjoy this while the tempeh is still warm. Give it a try this week! xx. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman, Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

24 Jun 13:08

At Home With Emory Kurysh

by A Beautiful Mess

I love SO MUCH about this house. 2nd only to booth seating: half a picnic table seating!

Dining areaToday we are welcoming Emory Kurysh to the blog as she shares her beautiful, rustic home with us!

Emory Ann Kurysh"My husband and I built our home from the ground up. We had originally wanted an acreage and had searched for one with an old farmhouse for nearly six months. We weren't having any luck in finding our perfect home. On a whim, I went for a drive to a provincial park that was only 20 minutes from the city in which we currently lived and worked. I immediately fell in love with the area, and had a feeling that this was the type of country life that would best suit us. With very few homes for sale in the park, we ended up purchasing an empty lot, and thus began building our new home. Being influenced by the lake and the surrounding area, and having both lived on an acreage, we decided to build our version of a reclaimed cabin and barn-like home. We designed it from scratch and employed contractors that I have known for seven years. It came together like a dream. We named it The Little Barn, and moved into our new space in January 2015.

The little barnLiving roomAt Home with Emory Ann KuryshKitchen"My favourite space in our home is our kitchen. In five years, this is the fifth home that we have lived in together, and it is also the first one with a kitchen that is big enough to fit a table. Our kitchen is technically 9' x 12'. However, because it is open concept, it is more like 12' x 24'. It seems like such a silly thing, but actually having a large kitchen is the one of the reasons why I love this house so much. To celebrate this achievement, I ordered a custom picnic table with built-in seating on one side. The other side is a 9' church pew that was gifted to us from my mother. I put a childhood blanket of my husband's on the pew, as well as a few animal hides that were my Baba's. Her antique household items are displayed on top of our table, in addition to some from my mother, and a plant from my in-laws on the large kitchen windowsill. I do all of my reading and blogging whilst sitting at the table, and I love when my two dogs curl up at my feet on the shag rug that I placed underneath the table. 

Kitchen storageShelving"In keeping with a rustic home, we specifically decided against countertops and cupboards. Instead, we hung vintage crates from my antique store and use an old armoire that my mother restored when I was a child to hold all of our kitchen wares. We purchased a stainless steel commercial sink, and kept with the industrial theme with a 7' tall fridge and double oven. Our only countertop is a reclaimed wood island with metal sheeting for a workspace. I just love it!

Entertainment areaDecor details"Our entertainment unit is one of my favourite pieces. We designed it to fit the long, narrow space beneath the stairs, and my husband constructed it out of reclaimed barn wood that he collected with my brother-in-law. I adore the items that I collected from my Baba's estate as well as the ones that were given to us by my mother.

BedroomBathroomGuest bedroomBedroom details"I love our IKEA purchases, mainly our stainless steel shelving solutions and all of our lighting that can be found throughout our home.  I could not live without our vintage wool blankets or cast iron antique spare bed, nor could I part with our record, book, and movie collection. I have hand-picked every item to fit into The Little Barn. It's still not much, but all that we own, I can honestly say I cherish."

Thank you so much for sharing your space with us, Emory! You can find more of Emory on her blog and on Instagram. xo.

24 Jun 18:56

Watermelon St-Germain Slush

by A Beautiful Mess

Let's make these this weekend!

Watermelon St-Germain Slush You guys! I don't want to seem dramatic—but I think this is the best cocktail recipe I have ever made! It's a watermelon slush with mint and lime flavors. You're gonna love it. New favorite blended cocktail! And with watermelon season at hand, I'm hoping this will be my new weekend tradition with friends. 

Watermelon St-Germain Slush
Watermelon St-Germain Slush, serves one. 

2 cups frozen watermelon
2 mint leaves
squeeze of lime
1/4 cup cranberry juice
1 ounce Gin
1 ounce St-Germain 

Blend and serve! It's like a fruit-based slushy with the yummy floral flavor of St-Germain. A new favorite for guests for sure. Even people who don't like super sweet drinks will like this because it's so light and fresh! 

Watermelon St-Germain Slush  Cheers to the first days of summer, to sitting on the back porch, to long walks at sunset, and to planning fun times with the people you love. xx. Elsie 

Credits// Author and Photography: Elsie Larson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions

12 Jul 22:32

summer mornings: peach cobbler muffins

by kickpleat

I don't know why I'm torturing myself with baking with peaches but I really want to make these

peach cobbler muffins | everybody likes sandwiches

The heatwave that we’ve been suffering through finally broke. Thank goodness. It’s not only been hot and gloriously sunny, but it’s also been smoky. British Columbia’s forests are burning and it’s a dangerous and awful situation. A week ago, Cornelius and I rode our bikes to see the new Mad Max movie and our neighbourhood theatre and the skies were filled with smoke and ash. The air smelled like campfire, which isn’t as pleasant as you might imagine it to be. It was a fitting scene to see such an apocalyptic double bill (with the Road Warrior, natch). So when a week later, we woke up to cloudy and not hazy skies, it was a welcome sight.

peach cobbler muffins | everybody likes sandwiches

We recently started watching The Great British Bake Off and in case you haven’t seen this pastel loveliness of a television show, I suggest you hop onto Netflix and start watching. This show has given me not just the baking bug but also serious oven envy. The downside is that it’s been way too hot and muggy to even think about baking. But when the cooler skies broke this morning, I did just that.

peach cobbler muffins | everybody likes sandwiches

Hello, muffin loveliness! I had some local peaches at the ready and a new cookbook that I borrowed from the library. These tender and light muffins were the result. Not too sweet and perfect for a Sunday (or any) morning snack. They are, as the cookbook promises, bursting with peachy flavour. While mine aren’t as puffy as the ones pictured in the cookbook, they are really delicious.

peach cobbler muffins | everybody likes sandwiches

peach cobbler muffins
Recipe adapted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook

1 c all-purpose flour
1 c whole wheat flour
3/4 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t ground cinnamon
3/4 c granulated sugar (I used 1/2 coconut sugar and a little less sugar than the recipe calls for)
1/2 c yogurt
1/2 c milk
4 T vegetable oil
1 large egg
3/4 t vanilla extract
1/2 t almond extract
1 1/2 c diced peaches (leave skin on)

Preheat oven to 350F and butter muffin cups (the recipe said it makes 12 large muffins, but I got 15 regular sized muffins)

In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar together. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, milk, oil, eggs, vanilla and almond extracts. Add the dry ingredients into the wet and stir slowly, dumping the peaches into the half-mixed batter, until just combined. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups, about two thirds full.

Bake for 23-25 minutes, up to 30 minutes for larger muffins, until the tops are golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let cool in tray for 5 minutes and then turn the muffins out onto a cooling rack. Makes 12-15 muffins.

03 Jul 21:09

cold sesame noodles on repeat

by kickpleat

Let's have this soon!!

cold sesame noodles | everybody likes sandwiches

It’s a bone fide heatwave here in Vancouver and I’m not going to complain. It’s hot, but we can manage. Bike rides add much needed breeze and is a generally pleasant way to get around town. Cold drinks on a shaded patio are always a recipe for summer fun. A good blast from a fan to cool down the bedroom before you go to sleep has been a nightly occurrence around here. And if you’re looking for something to help feed yourself while keeping the kitchen cool, this salad has been my go-to all week long. The recipe is adapted from the New York Times and I’ve made it more vegetable heavy instead of thinking of the vegetables as a garnish.  It’s fresh and full of flavour and it’s eaten cold, so it’s a very refreshing meal on a hot day.

cold sesame noodles | everybody likes sandwiches

The first time I made these noodles, I was prepping for our 10th wedding anniversary getaway to the well-named Sunshine Coast. I prepped the sauce at home and then packed everything I’d need into the travel cooler. At our cabin, I boiled the noodles, prepped the vegetables and then served the salad to go along with our salmon. It was delicious! This would be a great accompaniment with chicken, steak, shrimp, tofu or as we ate last night, corn on the cob. It’s a very versatile meal.

For the noodles, I used something I’ve always spotted in the little markets in my neighbourhood but never picked up. Shame on me, because these fresh Chinese noodles are wonderful. And bonus, they only take 2 minutes to cook once the water boils – perfect for keeping a steamy kitchen at bay.

cold sesame noodles | everybody likes sandwiches

Carrots and cucumbers get julienned with my favorite hand tool. Though, if you’ve got some serious knife skills or a fancy spiralizer, you’re good to go. I added in some thinly sliced & slawed purple cabbage for colour, but some thinly sliced red peppers or baby bok choy wouldn’t be out of place. And later on this summer, when you’ve got zucchini coming out of your ears, think of this salad.

cold sesame noodles | everybody likes sandwiches

It’s the sauce though that is the true magic here! It’s got peanut butter, ginger, honey and rice vinegar and a good hit of spice, but not too much (though if you’ve got a gentle palate you might want to take it easy on the chili-garlic sauce and lay off the sriracha. I ran out of tahini and so I made my own which felt like a pretty cool thing to do (lightly toast some sesame seeds and blend them in a food processor with some olive oil, ta da! Hello new skill!).  I really recommend making a double batch of the sauce as the salad really seems to soak it up and you really want a good strong flavour, don’t hold back here.

cold sesame noodles | everybody likes sandwiches

Like any good noodle salad, the leftovers are wonderful right out of the fridge. Perfect to take along to a picnic or slip into your lunch bag.

cold sesame noodles | everybody likes sandwiches

cold sesame noodles
(adapted from the NYT)

I like a 50-50 mixture of noodles to vegetables. It tastes more like summer and it’s just healthier that way, but play around with what feels right for you. I recommend doubling the dressing ingredients because these noodles can, and should, take a lot of sauce. Plus, it’s nice to have on hand so that you can whip up this meal on a moments notice. You’re welcome to change up the vegetables – adding sliced baby bok choy would add a nice crunch.

2 T sesame oil
3 ½ T soy sauce
2 T unseasoned rice vinegar
2 T tahini
1 T smooth natural peanut butter
1 T honey
1 T finely minced ginger (I use a microplane to get it really fine & juicy)
2 t minced garlic
2 t chili-garlic sauce
a squirt or three of sriracha

Add all ingredients into a lidded mason jar and then shake like the dickens until well blended. Set aside.

1/3 pkg of steamed Chinese noodles (I used fresh steamed Farkay brand noodles, but udon would be good too)
1 large carrot, julienned
1/4 small red cabbage, finely sliced into a thin slaw
1/2 English cucumber, julienned (but toss the inner seedy core)

Cook noodles according to package directions, the steamed Farkay noodles took only 2 minutes to cook in boiling water. Rinse well under cold water to cool down the noodles and drain very well. Add noodles to a large serving bowl along with the vegetables. Toss well to combine and then pour on some of the dressing, mix again and taste. You’ll probably want to add a bit more dressing, trust me. Serve cold or at room temperature. Makes 2 large servings or 4 regular appetites. 

29 Jun 12:19

pack a picnic: summer rolls with spicy peanut sauce.

by erin
pack a picnic: summer rolls | reading my tea leaves
Summer rolls are aptly named because they're the perfect thing for making on a summery day when even looking at the stovetop will make you break out into a sweat. They require nothing in the way of additional heat to make and they're perfectly portable.

Even though the process is simple—and dare I say, therapeutic—summer rolls take a little bit of time to put together, but if you prepare your fillings ahead of time and set up a little mise en place assembly line for production, you can make quick work of the task.

Maybe best of all, you can experiment with different fillings that suit your taste. If you're a meat eater, grilled chicken or shrimp would work nicely, but I prefer fresh tofu in mine. If you want to add a little bulk, you could fold rice vermicelli into the roll, too. For veggies, I like to include a variety of colors and textures. For these rolls I used carrots, cucumber, avocado, mixed greens, and brightly colored radish greens. Basil and mint leaves added on top of the veggies help give the rolls their signature fresh, bright taste.

For dipping, I like to make a creamy, spicy peanut sauce. You can buy a bottle of the stuff, but it's super easy to make at home. Last week I made a full cup and used half for dunking summer rolls and saved the rest in the fridge to mix into cold noodles to enjoy later in the week.
pack a picnic: summer rolls | reading my tea leaves
Cut all of your vegetables into long, thin strips for easiest assembly.
pack a picnic: summer rolls | reading my tea leaves
I used fresh mint and sweet basil but you could also swap in Thai basil and cilantro.
pack a picnic: summer rolls | reading my tea leaves
Perelandra sells brown rice paper wrappings. I dunked each wrapper in a tray of water for just about 10 seconds and let it soften slowly as I build the roll. 
pack a picnic: summer rolls | reading my tea leaves
I generally used the same formula for each roll, but you can decide the order of appearances for ingredients in each roll.
pack a picnic: summer rolls | reading my tea leaves
To roll, start by folding up the bottom edge of the wrapper around the pile of veggies, then fold in each side and continue rolling. The paper is slightly sticky and will stay stuck together in a tight roll. 
pack a picnic: summer rolls | reading my tea leaves
You can get as precious as you want with the rolling, but I think it's nice to face some of the leaves on the bottom layer outward so that they look nice in the finished roll.

Summer Rolls
Makes 6

1 package of rice paper wrappers (I used the brown rice papers that Perelandra keeps in stock.)
1 block of fresh tofu, cut into thin sticks (I typically use about half the block)
1 medium bunch mixed salad greens
1 small bunch rashish shoots or other tasty green for variety and color
2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
1 small bunch fresh basil
1 small bunch fresh mint

Begin by preparing all of your fillings first: slice your carrots, cucumbers, and avocado. Rinse and dry your herbs and salad greens. Slice your tofu into thin fingers. Arrange everything in piles according to type to help you remember to add a little bit of everything into your summer roll.

The rice paper wrappers come hard and you'll need to soak each one in warm water to moisten it. I use a cookie sheet filled with water for this step and I prepare each roll on a round wooden cutting board. Prepare each roll individually by first soaking one rice paper wrapper at a time and filling it with a neat pile of your fillings. I like to keep like with like when adding to my roll but anything goes.

Once you have all your ingredients stacked, lift the bottom of the wrapper up over the fillings. Fold in each side and roll the wrapper, keeping it tight around the ingredients. Chill your finished rolls. Slice in half before serving.

Peanut Sauce
Adapted from this recipe from Food52.
Makes about 1 cup
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon hot sauce (Sriracha or otherwise—red pepper flakes would work here, too!)
1⁄2 cup peanut butter (I get mine from Perelandra's bulk section and refill my own glass jar)
1⁄8 cup soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
scallions, for garnish

You can make any style of dipping sauce that suits your fancy, but I prefer a creamy peanut sauce because it makes a light meal feel a little bit more substantial.

To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. If the sauce is too thick, thin with a bit of warm water until it reaches your desired consistency. When we take summer rolls on picnics, I pack a container or two of the sauce separately for dipping.
pack a picnic: summer rolls | reading my tea leaves
This summer picnic series is sponsored by Perelandra Natural Foods Center, our favorite neighborhood grocery store. Since their opening in 1976, Perelandra has been committed to supplying the Brooklyn Heights community with nutritious, sustainable, and delicious food. Perelandra prides itself on stocking 100% certified organic produce and all of their grocery products are hand-selected by their on-staff nutritionist. 

Perelandra is currently offering Brooklyn-based Reading My Tea Leaves readers a free delivery when you place your grocery order online with the code FREEDELIVERY. Visit them at to place an order.

Thanks so much for supporting the thoughtful, sustainable brands that help support original editorial content on this site.
15 Jun 12:00

pack a picnic: smashed chickpea salad sandwiches.

by erin
pack a picnic: smashed chick pea sandwiches | reading my tea leaves
A salad you can pack into a sandwich and tuck in a basket or bag for easy toting is maybe the best kind of picnic fare that there is. Perelandra—the neighborhood grocery store that's sponsoring this series—serves a really great mashed chickpea salad sandwich at their juice bar & kitchen. When I was pregnant and running between my home office and my office in Times Square, I would often stop into Perelandra and grab a chickpea sandwich to go.
pack a picnic: smashed chick pea sandwiches | reading my tea leaves
This summer, I've been experimenting with different variations of chickpea salads to tote on weekend day trips. Last week I made this one with black olives and fennel (an idea I borrowed from this vegetarian pan bagnat recipe that I made recently for a family picnic). The fennel provides a nice little crunch and an unmistakable flavor and the olives are just briney enough to keep things interesting.
pack a picnic: smashed chick pea sandwiches | reading my tea leaves
pack a picnic: smashed chick pea sandwiches | reading my tea leaves
I used a pastry blender to chop everything together into like-sized pieces. If you have a food processor, a pulse or two would be all you needed to blend everything together.
pack a picnic: smashed chick pea sandwiches | reading my tea leaves
The finished salad should be about the consistency of a chunky tuna salad.pack a picnic: smashed chick pea sandwiches | reading my tea leaves
When it comes to sandwiches I'm something of a mayo fiend, so I coated toasted pieces of wheat bread in mayo before piling on butter lettuce and the chickpea salad.
pack a picnic: smashed chick pea sandwiches | reading my tea leaves
Smashed Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

What you need:

For the salad:
2 cups or so of cooked chickpeas (a 15 ounce can of already cooked chickpeas will also do)
10 cured black olives, depitted and finely chopped
1 small fennel bulb, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small tomato, diced
3-4 basil leaves, chopped
5 stems parsley, leaves removed and chopped
3 stems oregano, leaves removed and chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste

For the sandwich:
Whole wheat sandwich bread, toasted

What to do:

1. In a large bowl, mix together chickpeas, olives, fennel, red onion, garlic, and tomato. Using a pastry cutter or fork, smash the ingredients together until the chickpeas are all broken into small bits (the aim is for all of the ingredients to be more or less the same size.
2. Add olive oil, the juice of one lemon, and fresh herbs and stir to combine. (I thoroughly eyeballed the calculations here, but a good glug of olive oil will help everything stay together a bit.) Season with salt and pepper.
3. Layer the salad between toasted sandwich bread along with tender lettuce leaves and a hearty swipe of mayonnaise.
pack a picnic: smashed chick pea sandwiches | reading my tea leaves
I used sheets of Beeswrap (also sold at Perelandra!) to wrap our sandwiches.

This summer picnic series is sponsored by Perelandra Natural Foods Center, our favorite neighborhood grocery store. Since their opening in 1976, Perelandra has been committed to supplying the Brooklyn Heights community with nutritious, sustainable, and delicious food. Perelandra prides itself on stocking 100% certified organic produce and all of their grocery products are hand-selected by their on-staff nutritionist. 

Perelandra is currently offering Brooklyn-based Reading My Tea Leaves readers a free delivery when you place your grocery order online with the code FREEDELIVERY. Visit them at to place an order.

Thanks so much for supporting the thoughtful, sustainable brands that help support original editorial content on this site.
22 Jun 16:03

herbed summer squash pasta bake

by deb


summer squash pasta bake

One of the things I’ve first-world struggled with since the beginning of this incubation period is a lack of appetite. Of course, there’s the glib side of me — great for managing weight gain! why “eat for two” if you can eat for half?! — but mostly, it’s a bummer. I thought that after the first trimester nausea passed, I’d be good to go and yes, I’m back to eating regular meals, but my enthusiasm has only returned in short bursts. Sure, I’ve shamelessly consumed all matter of crispy eggs with soy sauce, sesame oil and chile flakes (flipped only long enough to keep the food police at bay, or so I tell you). I will eat almost any green vegetable roasted to a blistering crisp with olive oil and salt and finished with lemon juice. Speaking of lemons, we go through homemade, barely sweet lemonade by the half-carafe. And some cravings are even fun; for example, “the baby wants ribs” was a text I sent out to friends a few weeks ago while led to a great deck party. But do you know when I sat down with my plate after an afternoon of carefully preparing three glorious racks of ribs, I could only eat one? It’s rather grim for a so-called food writer to go through life unmotivated by hunger and cravings, to have become a person who shrugs and says “Meh, whatever you want to eat is fine.” I don’t even know me.

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© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. | permalink to herbed summer squash pasta bake | 143 comments to date | see more: Freezer Friendly, Italian, Pasta, Photo, Summer, Summer Squash, Vegetarian, Zucchini

10 Jun 19:04

Beet-Dyed Deviled Eggs

by A Beautiful Mess

Juniper's birthday party treat!!!

Beet-Dyed Deviled Eggs (so good!)I've been wanting to try dying deviled eggs with beet juice for a long time. One of my favorite local lunch spots, Aviary, serves them and I order them pretty much 100% of the time—SO good. 

To hard boil eggs I use this simple method—place eggs in a large pot filled with water (so eggs are completely covered). Let the water with eggs come to a boil on medium-high heat. As soon as the water is boiling, turn off the burner and remove the pot from the heat. Let the water cool to the side (at least 15 minutes). When you remove the eggs, they will be hard boiled. Easy peasy! 

Beet Dyed Deviled Eggs To dye the eggs, immerse the whole egg (with shell peeled off) in beet juice for one hour. I got a 16 ounce glass of fresh beet (straight) juice at the health food store to use. You could also use juice from a can of cooked or pickled beets. Beware, this juice will dye anything and everything including your clothing, anything wood and anything that isn't stain-resistant (another day I loved my quartz counter tops because it wiped right off). 

Beet juice is BEAUTIFUL. The color is absolutely incredible. 

When you cut the egg in half, it will be all white with a thin rim of pink around the edge. If you like that look, cut them right before you serve. After even just one hour, the color bleeds through most of the egg so it looks more like my photos look. I cut these, made the yolk mixture, and refrigerated them overnight before assembling. 

Beet Dyed Deviled Eggs  I started with about 22 eggs (I wanted to have some extras in case I messed up, which I did, peeling the eggs perfectly is tricky!). To make the yolk mixture combine the following in a food processor—egg yolks, 3/4 cup mayo and four tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard (I always buy spicy mustard!). Blend all ingredients. Use a piping bag to fill the eggs or just a spoon if you don't have one. 

Garnish with a sprinkle of smoked paprika, fresh thyme, fresh chives and fresh dill (the chives are the yummiest). Enjoy! 

Beet Dyed Deviled Eggs   I already can't wait to make these again for my next party. They do take a little more prep than typical deviled eggs, but I think it's well worth it for the beautiful presentation. By the way, if you're curious—you can't really taste the beet flavor once they are complete. It's mostly just for the look! 

Hope you enjoy trying these out! xx. Elsie 

Credits// Author and Photography: Elsie Larson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions

14 May 15:59

toasted marshmallow milkshake

by deb

toasted marshmallow milkshake

Almost exactly 5 years ago, in celebration us both signing contracts to write cookbooks, I met a friend* for lunch at a burger joint called The Stand on East 12th Street, and we finished the meal with something the menu declared a toasted marshmallow milkshake. I don’t remember a thing about the burger, but I do know that pretty much every conversation I had in the weeks that followed went like this: “The weather is so nice today!” “It would be perfect for a toasted marshmallow milkshake, don’t you think?” “How is your son sleeping these days?” “Did I tell you about this toasted marshmallow milkshake I had? Let me tell you about this toasted marshmallow milkshake I had.” “Can you believe this Deepwater Horizon mess?” “Toasted marshmallow milkshake, toasted marshmallow milkshake toasted marshmallow milkshake.” You could argue it had some impact on me.

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© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. | permalink to toasted marshmallow milkshake | 145 comments to date | see more: Drinks, Ice Cream/Sorbet, Photo, Summer

09 May 13:00

Installing Picture Rail Moulding

by A Beautiful Mess

Decorative picture rail moulding adds a touch of character to any space. Click through for tips & a detailed how-to post.Decorating a cookie cutter house is full of creative challenges, mostly where character is concerned. We live in a 1959 ranch that would be pretty run of the mill if it wasn't for the brick wall in our kitchen and living room. But the bedrooms? Uninspired blank boxes with zero interesting elements.

I was considering how to add some character to my daughter's new bedroom without just throwing more stuff into the small space. Clutter does not equal character. I felt a little envious of the wide moulding and beamed ceilings of spaces I was pinning to my Pinterest boards, when the thought occurred to me—I could add my own touch of architectural interest to the room with a functional picture rail!

I love the interest that breaking up wall color adds to a space, and finishing off the transition between colors with moulding adds an elevated look to the room. Throw in the picture rail functionality to the deal, and the bland room now has a generous dose of character! Not to mention my drywall has been saved from many future nail holes as artwork gets rearranged on the walls. Check out how I did it below.

Decorative picture rail moulding adds a touch of character to any space. Click through for tips & a detailed how-to post.Materials:
-moulding with curved top that fits your picture hook
-picture hook (I used these)
-strap hangers (for mounting on the back of picture frames to attach the wire)
-wire (I used this wire)

Optional Materials:
-duct tape (helpful during a dry fit when working with less hands)
-wood glue (if you are joining together different pieces of moulding)

-nail gun or hammer with a nail set
-miter saw

Decorative picture rail moulding adds a touch of character to any space. Click through for tips & a detailed how-to post.MG_2599Selecting the Moulding

I purchased my picture rail hooks before selecting my moulding because I envisioned myself ordering hook after hook, only to find that they didn't fit the moulding I had purchased. I brought the hook with me to the lumber yard and asked the millwork men if they had any picture rails. They look confused. Not good. When I explained what a picture rail was, they understood, and said, "No, I'm sorry, we don't have that."

So I looked around the lumber yard at the seemingly endless selection of pre-cut moulding and finally found one little strip that perfectly fit my picture rail hook. I brought it to the same guy and said "Found one!" He said, "No, that's pencil moulding." I said, "Not anymore! Now it's a picture rail."

The problem with the pencil moulding was that it was just really skinny. Not exactly the dramatic detail I had envisioned for the room. So I looked around at the other moulding before I found another profile that looks great when resting below the pencil moulding. I had them cut the pieces to the measurements I had made of our room (with a little extra just in case), and brought them home in my parents' mini van.

Because I'm not a master craftsman, I didn't use any fancy installation techniques, such as fashioning coping joints, but I did get the job done with professional looking results. Check out my tips to get the same look in your own home.

Tip #1: Glue together your strips of moulding before trimming and installing. To get started, I glued together the lengths of moulding (before trimming them) so they could be installed in one piece. To do this, I simply ran a bead of wood glue along the pencil moulding and used duct tape as a clamp to attach it to the other strip of moulding. Make sure to wipe down any seeping glue right away or it will harden and become almost impossible to remove.

Decorative picture rail moulding adds a touch of character to any space. Click through for tips & a detailed how-to post.After the glued moulding had dried for over an hour, we measured each section of wall and began cutting the pieces of moulding to fit. I used a miter saw to cut 45 degree angles where the moulding would meet in the corner. Against door frames, I just cut the moulding straight across. As you can see above, the angle of miter saw can be adjusted to the specific angle you cant to cut. My saw locks into place at common angles, such as 45 degree angles, taking away any guess work as I cut.

Tip #2: Always cut the moulding a bit longer than you think you need it. It might mean lots of trips back to the miter saw, but it's better to take your time than to trim a board too short. You may end up needing to recut your angles because...

Tip #3: Your walls may not be square, 90-degree angles, so don't assume they are! As you can see below, my walls were not square, so my angles were too obtuse to fit together. I had to shift the angle of my miter saw to make the angled ends of my moulding more acute. After recutting each piece of moulding to something closer to a 43 degree angle, the corners fit together perfectly.

Decorative picture rail moulding adds a touch of character to any space. Click through for tips & a detailed how-to post.Tip #4: When tweaking the angle of your cuts to ensure a good fit in the corners, both pieces of moulding must be cut to the same angle. If you cut one piece to a 50 degree angle, but leave the other angle at a 45, they will not match up when fit together. They must be cut to the same angle, such as 48 and 48 degrees.

Decorative picture rail moulding adds a touch of character to any space. Click through for tips & a detailed how-to post.Once our corner angles matched up perfectly, I trimmed the end of that piece (shown above) to fit snugly against the door frame. When we were checking the corner miters, we held the boards above the door frame so the untrimmed board could rest flat against the wall to accurately check the corner fit without cutting the board to fit inside of the door frame. I wanted to save some length in case I needed to make more cuts at the corner to get a good fit.

Tip #5: Do a dry fit before painting and installing the trim. We used duct tape to hold the moulding up to check out the joints as we trimmed each length of moulding. We didn't leave the duct tape up for very long, so it didn't leave any marks on our walls.

Tip #6: Use a level when installing the moulding— don't rely on paint lines or chalk lines.

Decorative picture rail moulding adds a touch of character to any space. Click through for tips & a detailed how-to post.Tip #7: Nail the moulding into studs. These rails should be capable of bearing heavy weight on the hooks, so make sure they are secure by fastening them into the studs on the wall. Use a stud finder to locate the studs and mark them with masking tape to make installation quick and easy.

Decorative picture rail moulding adds a touch of character to any space. Click through for tips & a detailed how-to post.Tip #8: Hide imperfect joints on painted moulding (not stained wood) by caulking the joints and painting over the caulk. I cut one of my pieces too short and actually had to piece a sliver of moulding into the corner to fix my mistake. The joint still wasn't perfect, but I was so over it by this point, and the gap ended up not even being visible in the end, thanks to a little caulk and paint!

Decorative picture rail moulding adds a touch of character to any space. Click through for tips & a detailed how-to post.Tip #9: Cover nail holes for a nice finish. I painted my boards before installation, so I used a synthetic filler to cover the tiny nail holes, then dabbed primer and paint over each spot so that they're now unnoticeable.

Decorative picture rail moulding adds a touch of character to any space. Click through for tips & a detailed how-to post.For the best paint job:

I chose to paint the moulding before installation because I didn't want to be 7 months pregnant priming moulding in an enclosed area on a ladder. Very bad ideas, all of them. Also, when priming raw wood, there's lots of sanding between coats involved to get a professional finish, and it's just a lot easier and less messy to do that outside on saw horses. Here are the steps you should follow to get silky, smooth painted moulding:

1. Lightly sand down the unfinished wood to remove any splintered cuts or rough surfaces. Then thoroughly wipe away any residual dust.

2. Spray with one moderately heavy coat of primer. Don't spray it on so thick that it drips, though. My favorite primer to use is 123 primer. It works really well to fill in any wood grain that might be visible, too.

3. Wet sand the first coat of primer with 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper (just keep dunking the sandpaper into a bucket of water as you sand to keep things wet) or buff it with grade 0000 steel wool (which is what I did, since that's what I had on hand). Wet sanding works to really smooth out any unevenness in the finish caused by pronounced wood grain, but if you're using a wood like poplar without pronounced grain, buffing with steel wool is probably good enough. Do not skip this step, though, because it will make the finish sleek and smooth, removing the little hairs of the wood that pop up when the primer initially soaks into it.

4. Spray with one more coat of primer.

5. Finish with two or three light coats of your semi-gloss paint. Semi gloss is a great finish for moulding because it is sleek, easily wiped down, and the paint finish isn't easily damaged by cleaning products like eggshell or even satin finish paint is. Spraying the paint will ensure a smooth finish without brush marks, but brush marks aren't the end of the world!

Decorative picture rail moulding adds a touch of character to any space. Click through for tips & a detailed how-to post.Once your touch-ups are dried and cured, go ahead and hang some pictures! I mounted strap hangers on the back of the side rails of my picture frames so I could easily attach wires on each side. I cut each side's wires to be the same length, then looped the top and twisted the wire around to secure it in place, as shown above. While holding a level on top of the picture, I pulled on one side or the other of the frame to tighten the wire as needed in order to make the picture level.

Decorative picture rail moulding adds a touch of character to any space. Click through for tips & a detailed how-to post.The wires are practically invisible from a distance, but I think visible wires would look really great. I might look around at alternative ideas to use for cords.

Decorative picture rail moulding adds a touch of character to any space. Click through for tips & a detailed how-to post.Decorative picture rail moulding adds a touch of character to any space. Click through for tips & a detailed how-to post.Things look much more polished in Lucy's big girl room with the addition of the picture rail moulding. When she got home and saw it, she squealed with delight. I said, I know! So fun, right? -Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Valentine and Stella from the Signature Collection.

12 May 16:04

mushrooms and greens with toast

by deb

mushrooms and greens with toast

Regarding the ever-present stacks of cookbooks around the apartment, my mother joked to me on Sunday that I should open a library. She’s probably right. I don’t think that a week goes by that I don’t* receive at least one new cookbook and I hardly know where to dive in. And don’t get me wrong, I too swoon over the currently in-demand aesthetic of vertically oriented, dimly lit photos of reclaimed weathered barnwood tables boasting sauce splatters and variations on kale on matte pages bound in jacketless books. It’s just that they’re all starting to jumble together.

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© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. | permalink to mushrooms and greens with toast | 121 comments to date | see more: Casserole, Greens, Kale, Mushrooms, Photo, Vegetarian, Weeknight Favorite

11 May 16:27

atakilt wat: turmeric-spiced potatoes, carrots & cabbage

by kickpleat

turmeric-spiced potato, carrots, & cabbage | everybody likes sandwiches

Sunday was Mother’s Day. And because my mom isn’t around anymore, I couldn’t make her a meal or call her on the phone. But I pulled out a tablecloth that I had picked up when I was visiting with my dad in April. It’s an object that is full of memories as it was on our table every Sunday or special occasion when I was little. It’s definitely retro with it’s vintage flower vase print and it felt right to put it on our table yesterday for dinner.

turmeric-spiced potato, carrots, & cabbage | everybody likes sandwiches

This isn’t fancy food at all. It’s an incredibly simple dish made with inexpensive ingredients. Potatoes. Onion. Cabbage. Carrots. Turmeric and cumin lend colour and flavour and I threw in some cooked French lentils to make this a good main dish meal. It’s a top-of-the-stove braised dish with no liquids needed. Just cover and let it do its thing. The vegetables will break down and get tender and in about an hour you’ll have something fragrant and hearty to eat alongside brown rice or your favourite grain.

turmeric-spiced potato, carrots, & cabbage | everybody likes sandwiches

turmeric-spiced potatoes, carrots & cabbage
2-3 T olive oil
1/2 red onion, large dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2″ ginger, peeled & minced
1 t ground cumin
1 t turmeric
1/2 t aleppo pepper (or 1/4 t cayenne pepper)
1/4 t kosher salt
1 large carrot, large dice
1/2 small head of cabbage, large diced
3-4 red potatoes, diced
1 c cooked french lentils or chickpeas (optional)

In a large pan, heat up oil over medium heat. Add in red onion and sauté for a minute before adding in the garlic and ginger. Stir everything around until fragrant and stir in the cumin, turmeric, aleppo pepper and salt. Let the spices get toasty for a minute and then add in the cabbage, carrots, and potatoes. Give everything a good stir, cover and leave on medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. It’s important to keep this dish covered, so that the vegetables braise without the help of any extra liquid. Stir in the cooked lentils or chickpeas if using, lower the heat, and cook for another 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Serve with brown rice. Makes 4 servings.