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Hats and Toast!

September 26, 2008

So yesterday I opened my blog stats only to find that I had a huge spike in readership due to fellow blogger’s link of my table before and after project in her “Before and After Extravaganza” post. That was hugely exciting.

But even MORE exciting – I’ve finished two hats to wear to work.

The pattern is from Stitch n’ Bitch Nation, the yarn is Berrocco Comfort. I absolutely love wearing it to work and bragging that I made it. The only downside, is that I now have promised to knit two more for two of my work buddies.

This is the Koolhaus hat designed by Jared of Brooklyn Tweed. I just finished it about 20 minutes ago, and I was so excited to show it off that it spurred this posting. This is the first yellow anything that I own, and the color is perfect! Its knit in a handspun silk wool blend.

Finally – This was my dinner last night.

Seared tomatoes with PX Sherry Vinegar from work, parmigiana, and olive oil. Yumm.

Peace, Sweatergirl

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Reasons I love my job #684: Homework = Making dinner with my little sister.

September 23, 2008

Working in the food world means that you don’t get weekends off. I’m over it – because it means that while everyone else is working, I get to have a my days off entirely to myself. And on these days off – I inevitably wander back to my place of employment. So yesterday after having getting tea with Ji Hye, I went to Shaman Drum to pick up “The Flavor Bible”, my new encyclopedia for all things food related.

This book alphabetically lists over 600 foods, flavors, cuisines; it serves as a sort of cullinary bibliography of compatible flavors. Its written by the Zagats people, and took 11 years to compile. I am in awe of this book, and I’m not the only one – its been getting a ton of press in the food-nerd-blogosphere.

So after getting my hands on this wonderful book, I had to show it off to my coworkers. It turns out that we were playing a little game which entailed bringing home any half-used mysterious sample jar, under the pretense that you had to cook something awesome with it and share how you used it.

So I found a jar of Crystal peppers from Spain. Ari calls them the “Foie Gras of Peppers”. They can be eaten alone, or with bread. I wanted to make something really fun and unique.

So this was result of my brainstorming – “A Spaniard in Tuscany – Crystal Pepper Fettucine with Serrano Ham and shaved Manchego”.

Here is about 3 T. of crushed Crystal Peppers.

I kneaded the crushed peppers with 2 T. of Spanish olive oil, 1t. salt, and 2 C. flour

Here is the finished lump of dough – which was then wrapped in plastic and left to rest in the fridge for an hour.

I picked up Allie from band practice and she helped me make pasta.  I really don’t think its necessary to use a pasta roller – its pretty easy to roll it out by hand with a rolling pin.

The peppers turned the dough such a beautiful color!

The pasta only had to cook for a couple minutes.  After it was done we tossed it lightly with some olive oil, a couple ounces of shaved Manchego, chopped basil, and a few slices of chopped up Serrano ham.  It was delicious!

Here’s Allie Enjoying hers.

After dinner we used a few chunks of bread to sop up all the leftover bits of Manchego and Serrano.

All in all I give the meal 5 stars: its hard to beat cooking and eating with my little sister, bonus points for getting to count it as “homework”!

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At last! DIY Table – Before and After

September 23, 2008

Last summer upon being gainfully employed, I set out to claim my stake in adulthood.  A key component to becoming an “adult” is to own a dining room table set.  Unfortunately, with limited monetary resources, I was confined to either A) IKEA or B) Craigslist.

I went with option B.  After a couple of weeks of searching I found this –

A table set fixer-upper.  The legs and table-top were solid cherry.  The table would need to be stripped and refinished.  The chairs were unfortunately not cherry, and they needed to be re-glued, reupholstered, and one chair had to be completely rebuilt.  Workload aside, the price was definitely right.  And after talking to the nice owner, I decided to go see the table set first hand.

The table set had nothing but potential, and the owner told me that the set had been in her family since the great depression.  After years of being well loved, the set needed a face lift, and she was just happy to give it to someone who would enjoy it as much as her family had!

I think the most surprising feat was that I was able to fit the whole set into my Ford Taurus.  As soon as I got home I set up shop in my asbestos laden basement, and tucked in for a fun summer of inhaling paint stripper fumes.

Below is the table after being completely stripped of laquer –

And now – after 8 coats of polyurethane matte finish –

After finding out that the table wasn’t solid cherry, I decided that I would paint the chairs black and use black accents on the table to tie them together visually.

Once the table was finished, I was faced with a certain doom of finishing the chairs.  Outside of needing paint and varnish – the table was in practically perfect condition.  The chairs on the other hand, needed a lot of love.  Anybody can paint – furniture repair is another story.  My mom was awesome, and took the one completely broken chair to her boys at DeLeuw lumber, they fixed the chair up good as new.  The other three chairs needed to be completely disassembled, and re-glued with pressure straps so that they would keep their shape they glue dried.

At the end of the summer I took a week of vacation and vowed that I would finish the chairs.  At this point they had been re-glued, but they still needed to be sanded down, given two coats of paint, and reupholstered.  I picked up the upholstery fabric at IKEA; the paint is a Benjamen Moore matte acrylic for metal and wood.

After a lot of cursing, painting, and stapling, I finished the chairs 🙂

And now – the great reveal!

a closer look at the chair

After all the work – I couldn’t be happier with the finished project!

Cheers, Sweatergirl

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Oh Fiestaware, be still my beating heart.

August 2, 2008

Again in my list of someday in the far off future – Fiestaware.

I remember Christmas shopping with my mom when I was about nine years old at Yonkers. She stopped in front of the gigantic colorful display of fiestaware and said, “someday, I want to have fiestaware, I’ve always loved fiestaware.”

Or something to that nature.

Anyways, we have similar taste, so fiesta ware always stuck in my head as the very thing dream kitchens are made of.

I especially like the chipped and battered/well loved pieces of fiesta ware you can find at thrift shops.

I guess the reason why I’m so enamored with a goofy set of dinnerware, is that they carry a lot of symbolism for me. There’s always the memory of my mom stopping dead in her tracks every time she saw a fiestaware display. More recently, a certain diner I frequent with a certain boy uses fiestaware plates and bowls. So if that’s not adorable I don’t know what is. Finally, I like the history of the company. The company was created after the great depression in the midst of a cultural shift. Our country was finally pulling itself out of an economic maelstrom, and the world was gearing up for the most destructive war in world history (from which the US would emerge relatively unscathed). So with all of that in mind, what would be the draw to go back to matched place settings?

Now far be it from my to draw a parallel between worldwide cultural, economic, political revolutions, and, say, trends in dinnerware… (History and Political Science *cough*). But I can’t help but think that these huge cultural shifts can totally be seen in how Americans chose to make there homes.

I mean, you can’t ignore the shift from this…

to this…

I’m just saying… The 50’s might not have been entirely liberating… But you can’t deny that the aesthetic of the 50’s is naively beautiful. The US had just successfully ended a war, giving us a generation of upward mobility and economic growth. Men could support their family with a factory job and a high school education; and every family could own a cute cookie cutter ranch, with cute cookie cutter appliances.

So back to fiestaware fitting into that equation.

I love 50’s kitchen design. Its iconic and a bit rebellious – while still remaining cute and sweet. Oh sweet, fiestaware, someday you will make my dowry complete.

Ciao, Sweatergirl

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More DIY madness and thrift shop finds!

July 28, 2008

So I have to say, one of my big discovery’s upon entering the “community” of Ann Arbor, is the vast array of thrift shops tucked away in A2’s downtown. My two favorite’s right now, are the Treasure Mart, and the Saturday morning Kiwanis Rummage sale.

On Saturday morning, Heidi and I wandered down to the Kiwanis rummage sale for the first time. The rummage sale gets picked over early on, but if you’re looking for really cheap decent quality anything, you can probably find it there. Heidi found a really cute set of stainless steel mixing bowls, and I managed to score this cute little pot for $2

I absolutely love the look of chrome and enamel. Moreover, I love cute little unique pretty kitchen things that you can’t find at all the major kitchen retailers. Unfortunately the inside of the pot was chipped and wouldn’t be very useful in cooking. So I decided to make it into a potted plant.

I found the plant at Downtown Home & Garden, and they helped me pot it. I was so impressed with their customer service. The store itself is wonderful, and I fear that I can never step foot inside it again. They sell my absolute favorite pretty kitchen things, and this means serious danger for my wallet.

The treasure mart, has become my enabler in the past few weeks. Located only a block away from where I work, it also ranks high on my monetary alert system. Every day they have new pretty things to offer. Milkglass, antique bottles, fiestaware, everything is wonderful.

In my persuit of pretty kitchen things, I’ve managed to snag a few at the treasure mart.

Here is a La Creuset teapot, in perfect condition. Sold for a mere $10.

Next we have fish-jug and Pig-jar. Fish-jug was a graduation present from my aunts and uncles. Since I love to bake, for the past few years I’ve wanted a kitschy, but classy, cookie jar. Something to remind my Grammy’s Buddha cookie jar that pretty much defined my summer’s at Burt Lake when I was little. So of course, at Treasure Mart, I managed to find this kitschy-ish, white pig shaped cookie jar. It sort of matches the fish jug. They are going to be best friends…

Last but not least (mom you are going to kill me) Last Saturday morning after Heidi and I went to the Rummage sale, we hit up the Treasure mart again. And I found this Nambe vase/utensil holder. Now, one of the great things about the treasure mart, is that for every month an item sits on the shelf, it goes down 10%.

So this awesome vase, was originally between $150 and $250. It was a little scratched up so they sold it at TM for $30, and then after sitting on the shelf for 6 months… heheh, I got it for a steal.

So that’s it – I can never set foot in any of these fine establishments ever again. But I think its safe to say that my pretty kitchen is pretty much on its way to realization. Khee!

Love, Sweatergirl

Don’t judge me…

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DIY Madness + Table Progress

July 28, 2008

In an earlier post I mentioned that I had picked up a “Fixer-Upper” cherry table set from a nice lady who had run out of storage space for her pre-depression era, family antique.

So I spent many hours in my unventilated basement, huffing fumes, and stripping the former shellac off the wood. Only to find that what was a “solid cherry table” was actually a cherry veneer on the top, solid cherry on the table legs, and then a “fruit wood” on the remainder of the table and the chairs. Not really a big deal, I got the set for dirt cheap, and it is a beautiful design. With this in mind, I decided that it would be impossible to get the non-cherry wood to match the cherry top. So I threw all caution to the wind and decided to paint the chairs black, with black accents on the non-cherry parts of the table. Tres chic.

Above is my table after 6 coats of a rub-on matte polyurethane finish on the top, and two coats on the legs.

These are the very awesome chairs that match the table. They still have to be re-glued and fixed up a bit (one of my mom’s builder friends is reconstructing the support beams on one of the chairs for me!) but once they are in tip-top shape I’ll paint them black. The design-ey fabric is from IKEA. Who knew that their apholstry fabric was so affordable and sexy?

And finally, here is my table in all of its splendor, with 7 coats of polyurethane on the top, 4 on the legs, and the first coat of matte-black.

Once this is finished, I’m going to send it to Design Sponge’s before and after. I think I have a good sporting chance.

Hooray!

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Silliness.

July 27, 2008

Want to know my deep dark secret?

Well, probably fairly obvious by now…

I love kitchens.

I love everything about them, and I’m silently biding my time, wishing, and waiting, until next month when I get to move into my first post-college house with the beautiful kitchen that comes with it. I have so many ideas running through my head. The perfect vision of what I want it to look and feel like. All of the sudden I’ve found myself plunging into the depths of interior design magazines, garnering wonderful happy ideas.

But I don’t want a mitch-matchy-cutesy kitchen. Nothing you’d find in Martha Stewart, or god forbid, Sandra Lee’s kitchens. I want an eclectic, fun, retro, unique, livable kitchen. I want bright colors, unmatched coffee mugs, vintage bottles, herbs growing in scavenged pots in pans, shelves for all sorts of first edition used cookbooks. And its taking every power of restraint in my body to not move in this second. Is this what I’ve been reduced to? Some sort of maniac who cares more about finding the perfect cast iron skillet, than, say, all the other much more important problems in the world.

Well, my materialistic snobbery aside… In less than a month, I will have a beautiful kitchen.

Holy crap I’m excited.

So now I’ll share with you my reeking obsession.  Three cheers to all the beautiful happy kitchens that I adore.
chalkboard
wishin’
prettykitchen1
and hopin’
gasl_kitchen_quirky_17
and thinkin’
gasl02_suprisekitchen
and prayin’
kitchen1
and plannin’
bare brick
and dreamin’

sigh. I wasn’t kidding when I said that my chief motivation through my senior year was that one day… one sweet wonderful day, I would have a beautiful kitchen.

How lame is that?

But this last one (pictured above) is possibly my favorite, and most easily obtainable. And in all my free time, I’ve been getting closer to obtaining that goal.

Lofty, I know 😉

So there’s been the table project, which, although far from completion, is getting there, and will be lovely when its finished. Then there is the DIY spice rack idea I stole from Allison (www.myaimistrue.com)

spice rack

When mom came to visit I got the magnetic knife racks from IKEA. I was inspired by Vaughn Austin not to use the cheap watchmaker tins from Lee Valley Tools, but to go with nice Kamenstein alternatives from Pfaltzgraff which are not only less expensive, but are also obviously made for holding spices (and area a great DIY hack of the much more expensive designer set that runs upwards of $100.

So instead of spending that obscene amount, I spent a total of around $30 – for a sweet spice/knife rack.

Alas, its late.  More on my DIYing/Pretty kitchen things later.

Ciao, G