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Sunday, December 12, 2010


I spent yesterday at my mom and grandmother's house making our traditional Ukrainian Christmas meal: Vereniky (better known in the U.S. by their Polish name, pierogi.)

Every year, the women in my family get together a couple weeks before Christmas and crank out hundreds of these simple yet satisfying dumplings, as well as ushka (much like mushroom tortellini), which are served with borscht on Christmas Eve.

We make two varieties of vereniky...one with potato and cheese filling, and one with sauerkraut filling. They are the main dish on Christmas Eve, and are served boiled, with fried onions and a dollop of sour cream.

Last year I graduated from the vereniky assembly line to making the dough, which was my job this year as well. I had long been intimidated by it (no one wants to be responsible for making a crummy dough and having the vereniky fall apart when boiled), but now that I've got it mastered, I've got the know-how to carry on with the tradition for decades to come.

Because honestly, it just wouldn't be Christmas without home made vereniky.

P.S.-Although I haven't had them in years, vereniky can also be sweet...filled with cherries or blueberries, and served with melted butter and a sprinkle of sugar. Definitely going to have to try and make some this summer!

P.P.S.-If you ever want to give it a shot, Martha (whose mother was Polish) has a whole bunch of recipes and tutorials on her website.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The New Living Room

Here is our newly finished living room. It's not exactly done in the "decorated" sense, but certainly in the "renovated" sense. As I mentioned in the previous post, we stripped the wallpaper, had the walls skim coated with plaster, had the floors redone, and painted everything. Ahhh, feels SO good to have a living room again, especially a freshly revamped one!

We chose a low gloss polyurethane for the floors, and it's just the right amount of gleaming for us.

Steven did a great job scraping and painting the old steam radiators. (He used a high heat engine enamel spray paint.) We also had the valves replaced because there had obviously been some long term leaks going on. I love the scroll detail on these old beauties.
Not gonna lie, we have been rather vegetative since the entertainment center was reinstated...it won't last forever, but right now we're giving ourselves a free pass on being couch potatoes!

This heirloom wall clock that belonged to Steven's grandfather is the only item we've hung on the wall so far. It looks really nice against the cool green wall, adds a touch of vintage character, and has this soothing tick tock which makes Steven sleepy, lol.
We'll slowly be adding the final touches to this room...wall decor, CURTAINS, something for the coffee table...but for now this is it. It's so nice to curl up on the couch and relax in our new living room!

P.S.-Yes, I know there are some angles missing in this room reveal...namely, those that show the view into the girl room and foyer. They'll be coming soon enough!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Living Room BEFORE

We're finally ready to share some "After" shots of the downstairs renovation, starting with the living room. But just for perspective, and to set the mood, here is a montage of "Before" pics.

*A shot from the original MLS listing*
*From our first weekend as homeowners*
*After tearing out the dingy gray wall-to-wall carpet, revealing oak floors*
*As in the dining room, we found murals under the wallpaper in the LR...*
*...decidedly less charming murals.*
*And here it is after the new plaster skim coat*
Stay tuned for the next post...the AFTER pics!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Recently on My Radar

While this blog's adoring fans (all 3 of you ;) await the unveiling of the downstairs renovation, I'd thought I'd share some good things that have grabbed my attention lately.

I was peripherally aware of the hype surrounding the release of the final book of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy this summer, but as I knew nothing about the first 2 books, it didn't really register. Then a coworker lent me her copy of book 1. Halfway in and I was hooked, and the fever only increased with the next two installments. It's been quite a while since I've felt so emotionally invested in a character in a book! Great reads.


Because this tomboy-turned-scientist could always use a few pointers.

The October issue of Martha Stewart Living featured an article entitled "Grown-up Grilled Cheese" and it's definitely worth a look. I'm aiming to make all ten.

Challenge accepted, Martha. Challenge accepted.

This seasonal treat somehow keeps getting mixed in with our weekly milk delivery. Hmmm, how did that get there? ;)

Yay yay yay! I just won this book in a giveaway from The Non-Consumer Advocate.

Happy Halloween Weekend!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes and a Check In

Though the downstairs renovation is by far the dominating factor in our lives right now, we do get a few minutes here and there to celebrate the season in simple ways, such as enjoying these pumpkin spice pancakes for Sunday breakfast before we start the day's projects. To make them, simply add pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract to your usual pancake batter. Serve with real maple syrup ONLY, or risk incurring the wrath of the food gods.
As for the renovation status report: the living room, parlor/"girl room", and dining room are all ready for the floor guys to come in and do their thing. We are now working on the foyer, and we're looking at another 2 weeks for sure. Should be interesting, considering the radiators are disconnected and it's getting mighty chilly. (Looks like we are unintentionally participating in the No Heat Challenge, lol.)

I know it will all be worth it, though, and I can't wait 'til it's finished. Especially since I just ordered something new and fabulous for the dining room...

You'll have to wait and see!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Blog on Hiatus

We are in ALL OUT BLITZKRIEG MODE with the downstairs renovation right now (seriously, I have a day-by-day plan of attack calendar that is currently filled through the first weekend in October), so I'm going to put the blog on the back back back back waaaaaay back backburner for a bit.

I'll be sure to resurface when the reno is complete (we're shooting for Columbus Day weekend) and post a bazillion pics, but for now here's a little teaser...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Inspiration: Kitchen

Isn't this a lovely light & bright kitchen? Specifically loving the farm sink, subway tile, drawer pulls, and especially especially especially that deep window sill. The image is from Life in the Fun Lane, my latest blog obsession, full of design inspiration and fantastic, creative, budget-friendly used furniture refinishing projects. Definitely will be trying to copy her in the future (sincerest form of flattery, right?).

Friday, September 3, 2010

Adiós, Verano.

Well, the unofficial end of summer is upon us, so I guess it's time to start saying goodbye to some of my favorite summer treats...

*Tomato sandwiches and my Babi's refrigerator pickles*
*Rainbow cherry tomatoes, so fresh and sweet they taste like berries*
*Quick, light dinners with the freshest ingredients*
As lovely as summer is, though...no tears here. Bring on Autumn, arguably New England's best season. I can't wait for the mulled cider, glorious colors, cozy sweaters, apple picking (going with my girls next Saturday!), pumpkin pie, cheerful gourds, crisp autumn air, etc etc etc.

And, now that we're living next to cranberry country, I'm dying to get over and see my first cranberry harvest. I've seen lots of pics, and it looks like a spectacular event!

Bonus: Lookie, lookie at this tote bag my MIL just gave me. Adorable!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Grape Harvest

Last year, Steven discovered a grapevine hidden in all the weeds of the then neglected veggie garden and just threw it up and over a nearby bridal wreath spirea to get it out of the way. This spring, we were delighted to see that it had set fruit! (Apparently this will never happen if the vine is lying on the ground, regardless of how healthy it is.) All summer I've been checking, checking, checking the progress...and yesterday, when I approached the vine and inhaled that sweet ripe grape scent, I knew it was time to grab a bowl, some clippers, and Steven.
I figured we wouldn't actually get enough grapes to make anything significant, maybe just a grape syrup to use in spritzers or something, but we ended up with a total of ~4 lbs! Most grape jelly recipes I've seen call for 5 lbs, so it would be totally feasible to make jelly out of our own backyard grapes! How adorable is that?

BTW, not sure what kind they are. Any guesses? Of course Concord is the go-to answer, but I think they seem a bit sweeter...

Anyways, we were downright charmed by this harvesting process, and kept the momentum going in the veggie garden, where things are winding down...just as they got going. (Note to self: start earlier next year!)

We ended up picking most of the acorn squash (6), even though they could have hung out for a bit. Powdery mildew had become an issue about 1 month ago, and although it supposedly only damages leaves, I was paranoid about losing the fruits that I had lovingly nestled in straw, and creepily stalked for months, LOL!
So hopefully I'll get a chance to play in the kitchen this weekend, in between coats of paint. I'm shooting for just one of the following: grape jelly, tomato sauce, eggplant bruschetta, or acorn squash risotto...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Garden Center Super Buy!

Just wanted to gloat about share our super score at Weston Nurseries last weekend...

Not only did we have 2 Groupons to redeem ($20 for $50 worth of merchandise), but when we got there we discovered that they were running a "cart promotion", where everything you could fit on 1 cart was 30% off.

We picked up 2 "sixteen candles" summersweet shrubs to plant on the side of the house, right under the living room window. It's a native, deer resistant bush with wonderfully fragrant white flowers in the summer, so it's perfect under an open window.
We also picked up an ornamental maiden grass (Steven loves these) to hide the gas meter on the side of the house. They are super hardy, full, and will grow to about 5'.
And, my favorite part of the purchase: 2 David Austin "Abraham Darby" rose bushes.
I have major performance anxiety when it comes to keeping these healthy and alive...but I just couldn't resist. They are gorgeous, with apricot pink super full blooms that smell amazing.

Not sure where they're going yet, but I would love to add a bench seat to our wedding arbor (which Steven built for our wedding day!) , then plant these around it. Wouldn't that make for a lovely little garden refuge?

In the end, we got $150 worth of plants for...$49. That's...carry the two...~67% off.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Downstairs Reno UPDATE

The plasterers started on Saturday! They've finished repairing & skim coating the foyer and the stairway, and it looks SO different already. So smooth! And I really like the way the wet plaster smells...weird, I know, but to me it smells like...progress.

They should be completely finished on Tuesday, so hopefully we'll be painting all Labor Day weekend. (Appropriate, no?)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Greek Night

One of our favorite meals on our 2008 trip to Greece was the ubiquitous, fast, cheap and delicious gyros pita. I attempted to recreate the glory by loading some grilled pitas with green peppers, tomatoes, feta, and spicy beef souvlaki (the spice rub was a variation on the recipe here). I topped it off with a generous dollop of homemade tzatziki and even made a little foil jacket to give it some street cred.
I think I made Steven want to marry me all over again with this one.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Vintage Love: Blue Mason Jars with Zinc Lids

I love these beautiful vintage mason jars and think they'd be lovely for the pantry, or as vases, or even as drink glasses at a picnic....

They're all over Etsy, and I'm forever adding them to my favorites list just for the heck of it. Of course they'll all sell before I'm anywhere near decorating the kitchen...but I do it anyway.

Have a great weekend! ~LT

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Frugal Fix: A New Used Fridge

For almost a year, we used the refrigerator that came with our house. It was pretty nasty, but it was free and it worked...so I figured we wouldn't replace it until we renovate the kitchen (in which case, a crummy drippy old fridge would be completely unacceptable).

A great frugal mentality in some ways, yet maybe a little extreme if you're secretly praying that nobody ever rest their eyes on your fridge, lest you be mortified.

Steven and his Craigslist obsession to the rescue! :)

He found a 4 year old used Maytag refrigerator in great condition...for $125.

We scrubbed it down, bought new storage racks for the freezer, and gleefully hauled the old fridge off to the dump.

Now, I'm no neat nick, but I do love to sort/organize/purge things. Give me a box of junk, a pile of papers to be sorted, or a closet to be cleared out, and I'm as happy as a clam. No idea why this is, but obviously cleaning out the old fridge, tossing out any nasties, and organizing the new fridge was a veritable TREAT for me. I even forbade Steven from helping, just so that I could have the job to myself, LOL. (freak)

Ah, a great deal (a steal!) and a freshly organized fridge? Isn't that everyone's idea of fun? ;)

On a related note, I wanted to share this great frugality post from Get Rich Slowly. Considering how much time, money, and brainpower is spent in this world trying to get us to buy buy buy because we neeeeeeed it...it's always nice to review the counter argument: that frugality is all about identifying what IS and what ISN'T important to us and spending our hard earned $$$ accordingly.

For example, we recently went on a little trip to a local garden center, Attleboro Farms, which was running a promotion on perennials ($8 per plant if you buy 10 or more), so we loaded up.

When we got home, I said to Steven: "Do you realize that we spent more on these plants than we did on our refrigerator?"

We got a good chuckle out of that. :)