Monday, October 27, 2014

Recipe: Pomegranate Molasses - Glazed Carrots

I love this recipe.  It's practically effortless, and the carrots come out so delicious!  It reminds me of a recipe my mother used to make when I was a kid, with carrots cooked in maple syrup and butter, but this is more suited to an adult taste palette and isn't so sweet, or fatty.

Pomegranate Molasses - Glazed Carrots
5 large carrots
Olive oil
Kosher Salt and Pepper
Bottle of Pomegranate Molasses (sold at Middle Eastern food stores)

1. Preheat oven to 425-degrees-F.
2. Cut the carrots into strips, 3-4" long and about 1/2" wide
3. Place on baking sheet.
4. Drizzle with olive oil.
5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  I like to salt just a little generously on this dish.
6. Toss to coat.  Don't crowd on baking dish, give each carrot stick a little space.
7. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring about halfway through.
8. When browned, drizzle with pomegranate molasses to taste.

A Sunny, Productive Weekend

It was a lovely weekend!  Unseasonably warm for late October, and we went out Friday night to our favorite local restaurant, Peckish Pig.  They've just finished their patio, and we sat outside under the heatlamps, and it was the perfect temperature.  It was nice to eat outside again, perhaps for the last time before the winter.

Friday night we put up this marvelous beadboard.  It was already primered, so as Ben put it up, I painted a sheet, and by the time it was all on the wall, I had it mostly painted already!  Teamwork!  We filled in the gaps between panels with wood filler putty (which is really cool, it goes on bright purple and dries white), and then we painted it.  Painting it made it look really finished.  One cannot judge beadboard until it's painted.  Oh, and the carrots were ones I had just picked in the garden.  I was feeling proud of them- look how big they are!  Also, I put up a recipe for my favorite way to prepare carrots: click here.

Saturday was a day of dull chores: Ben did drywall and I did laundry.  Boring, boring, boring.  Ben was drywalling the first floor bathroom, which is in pretty horrible shape.  Holes in the wall from the rewiring and re-plumbing, dust everywhere, brown vinyl tile, lightbulb hanging from the ceiling....  It's been a closed off room, and we've just been keeping the door shut!  

We've got a beautiful sink to go in there and new flooring and paint, so it will come together, but always the boring, dirty, hard stuff first.  But, in the middle of the day, we ordered some Afghan food from Kabul House: little dumplings with cilantro chutney, Kadu steamed pumpkin with onions and yogurt, bread stuffed with leeks and potato, and lamb with caramelized carrots and minted yogurt.  I'd never had Afghan food before -- the pumpkin was my favorite thing we ate. 

Sunday morning, we woke with tons and tons of energy.  I made iced coffee, and also hot chocolate from milk and cocoa powder, and we ate cheese on toasts.  It was another brilliantly sunny day, and before 11:00 am, I had bought outlet covers for all switches and outlets on the first floor, planted daffodil bulbs, given a neighbor a tour of our place, bought supplies for tiling, and dug up and washed a bunch of carrots.

We couldn't help ourselves, and had to start tiling that day.  Neither of us had ever tiled before, but if the people on HGTV could handle it, we were pretty sure we had it covered.

You don't need that much to tile: a pliers-style tile cutter, mortar, and a mortar spreader.  That's it! 

Ben spread the mortar on the wall.

It looked pretty.

Press the tiles into place.  It was easy to make sure they were straight, since they were on a mesh.  I would highly recommend this tile, very easy to work with and the tiles are uniform in texture and just shiny enough.

All done!  There will be molding that matches the molding above the beadboard, and then I will be painting the rest of the wall above the tile, grey I think or maybe a French blue...

Another view, with the stove back in place.  I really need to level that stove - it's so simple, the legs just screw up and down, but I can't seem to get around to it.

And, another view.

Meanwhile, Plum sat in a beam of sunshine all weekend, and napped.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Benjamin Moore "Edgecomb Gray" Living Room

The living room is coming along!  I realized I never posted any pictures of how the Edgecomb Gray paint turned out.  I really like it; it's a very warm grey, and it looks spectacular against white.  We moved down all our living room furniture, because I'm sick of storing it, and all that is left to do is install the fireplace mantel, which is not a messy project. 

Benjamin Moore "Edgecomb Gray"
I don't know if I'm quite happy with this furniture arrangement yet, I'm still thinking about it.  I'm thinking maybe I will move the chairs to the far side of the fireplace once the mantel is in.  The room definitely needs something on the walls, which is another reason I'm not sure about it.  Cream colored curtains are going on the window, the mantel is white marble, a big mirror over the fireplace -- so it seems dark now, but maybe it won't be.  And, as usual, I have no idea what to put in a sunroom.  

Benjamin Moore "Edgecomb Gray"

Friday, October 17, 2014

New Countertops!

We are very excited to have countertops in our kitchen now.  Ben has been making cappuccinos at home every morning now, drawing little latte art hearts in them...we are really excited.  I've lost track of how many months we went without a kitchen - however long it was, it was too long.  (I can always look back at this later on the blog, but I think the answer is depressing).

The countertop installers came, and complimented Ben on his dishwasher installation, "Seriously, man, I want to give you a high five and you should make a youtube video, because even the pros don't fit dishwashers as well as yours, man."  Well, did we mention it took a whole evening to install that dishwasher?  It was overly complicated because Home Depot ordered us the wrong cabinet panel for the side of the dishwasher, so we had to devise a way for it to work, because I don't know how well their return policy works for custom cabinetry.

So, here's some pictures.  I suppose this is just a preview, because they are terrible pictures.  The lighting in this room is CFLs hanging from wires, so terrible lighting, no paint, no backsplash.  Also, this kitchen usually has so much sun, but we've had nothing but rain for the past week!  So these are terribly lit pictures.  Just awful.  I try to edit, but I'm no good.  The first picture is probably the truest- although the sink is brass!!  I don't know, I'll take better ones with a real light fixture later.

Plans for this room include a backsplash, some paint, an actual light fixture, switchplate covers, baseboard panel for under the cabinets. another shelf above the first one.  And eventually some upper cabinets, but not right now.  We have a free weekend and we're going to be working hard!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Victorian Houses in the Twin Cities

I visited my friend Beth this weekend in her new home in the Twin Cities.  She is my absolute favorite person to shop with, because she loves antiques, lace, embroidery, muted colors... I don't know anyone else that will join me in enthusiastically digging through a rack of underpinnings of long-dead women, hoping to find something nice to wear.  When I came to visit her, I had no qualms about letting her pick the entire itinerary, and I was very pleased to be welcomed at the airport with: "So, I've planned a weekend of touring Victorian houses and conservatories and going to antique shops. Is that OK?"

Umm... YES!

I didn't know this about MSP, but there are some very fine Victorian houses in that city.  Whole streets of them, that are quite intact.  I didn't take many pictures: sometimes they weren't allowed, and I was busy catching up with my friend, but I took some where I was allowed and I'll supplement them with some Flickr and Instagram photos from people more talented than myself.

American Swedish Institute
Out of all the houses, I think I liked this one the best aesthetically.  It was done in lighter colors, and had a lot of pretty details, including a gorgeous 10-foot tall gilded mirror that I cannot find a picture of.  I also really liked the museum restaurant, FIKA, which served me salmon and rye bread with an excellent iced coffee.
Exterior of American Swedish Institute

The ballroom

Ballroom detail

The best living room ever, with a full gallery all around the second floor

Dining room

Dining room detail

The kitchen
Obviously, these are very ornate houses.  There's not much to draw from here, other than to stare in awe.  I think in houses like this, I am most drawn to the workspaces.  I love the marble-walled kitchen complete with marble window surrounds, with its cast iron shelf brackets and porcelain sinks.  I also think the kitchen light is lovely.  I want one!

 James J. Hill House
 This is the largest house in the Twin Cities.  It was built by a railroad baron, and it's huge and ornate.   There's lots of light though, because of the unbelievable amount of windows and some huge skylights which you can see over the porte cochere and over the roof on the righthand side of the picture below.  This house was unbelievable and ostentatious, with a pipe organ in the art gallery, a two-story pantry, and a palatial staircase.

The Grand Staircase with stained glass windows

Mr. Hill decided, rather than building a separate ballroom, that he would host large parties in the grand center hall

The dining room

Music room ceiling detail
Lace cutwork curtains

The Hill family

The gorgeous laundry room

Another shot of the laundry room.  Love the table and the marble walls, and the light aqua paint!

The Hill family also had a marble-walled kitchen

The best-ever pantry. Two stories!

Embossed paper wallpaper

The huge porch

Alexander Ramsey House
This house was extremely unique, because it was held in the same family for years until it was donated to the state to be used as a museum.  Because of that, ALL of the original furnishings as chosen by the family are still in place.  It's really a fantastic time capsule.  Absolutely no photos were allowed, so I've had to google everything for this house.  Fascinatingly enough, these old photos show almost exactly the same furnishings and arrangements that we saw on the tour.  Besides learning about the house, we also learned about the Victorian Gothic Novel in a fun, Halloween-themed tour.
The Alexander Ramsey House

The curved staircase in the front hall

Look at that beautiful marble fireplace!

The upper hallway with a gorgeous collection of landscape paintings

This room is so lovely.

This house had the most ornate, carved marble fireplaces.  They were absolutely gorgeous!  It makes me so excited to have our marble fireplace mantel installed in the living room.  I can't wait to see it!

All of these houses are so glamorous and evocative of the High Victorian era.  I'm posting them to remind myself of how pretty they were.  When looking at the Victorian era, I always think its best to not directly interpret. I tend to let the dark colors, tiny-print wallpaper, and oversized mahogany carvings lie in the past century.  However, I can think of some decor ideas that would evoke Victorian elegance in a timeless way.

Room 1:
Oil paintings of landscapes
White marble fireplace topped with a large mirror
Large oriental rug
Elaborate white plaster crown moldings on tall walls painted a pale neutral
Dark wood furniture with carved, thin legs

Room 2:
A huge French crystal chandelier 
A plaster ceiling medallion
Floor-sweeping ivory velvet curtains
Floor to ceiling wainscoting
Ceiling molding
An arrangement of bleached peacock feathers

Room 3:
Marble tiled floors and paneling
Grey painted walls
White porcelain
Ivory furnishings
Black cast iron handles and brackets
One large wooden piece for contrast and patina

Room 4:
Delicate lace cutwork curtains
Floor to ceiling glass-fronted cabinetry, filled with white linens and china
Black and white marble tile floors
Ornate, white-enameled radiators

Room 5:
Lush floral wallpaper
Glittering metal accessories (console sink, brass headboard, etc)
Linen skirted tables

Until Next Time!

P.S. As for what's going on in our actual house, we took a little break to spend time relaxing with each other.  Which, for us, usually means cooking nice dinners.  We made mushroom ravioli with homemade cream sauce, sweet potato gratin with a chiffonade of fresh sage, and crab legs and artichokes.  Tomorrow, our countertops come in, which I think will re-inspire us to finish up the kitchen!!