Wednesday, June 29, 2011


So, I've been feeling rather 'blah' about blogging these last few weeks.

I know I promised a post about our pigs.  I swear, I really did start writing a draft, and even took a fresh set of photos of the ever-growing swine, but the desire to actually follow through and complete the post is missing in action.

And honestly, I can't think of much to write about anyway that is particularly interesting and isn't complete and total navel-gazing. (This post will be a perfect example of what I've been trying to avoid writing.)

Most of my energy these last few weeks has been directed toward working on furniture projects.  I jumped on the chalk paint bandwagon and bought a few quarts after being most impressed with the way it covered some disgusting 1980s French Provincial bedroom furniture I'm upcycling for my sister. I've also completed a very cool armoire re-do, using chalk paint, inspired by this photo from Period Living magazine.

Period Living

But with my son out of preschool a month now, I greatly miss those mornings to myself where I could work for a couple hours completely uninterrupted.  So, I paint in fits and spurts, and my endurance is starting to wane as I eye the multiple chairs on my porch awaiting paint and new coverings, the sofa table, the hutch, etc. that all need fresh coats of paint.

If the idea of actually doing a project is somewhat daunting, the notion of taking photos and editing them to show off the finished projects, then writing posts about them, is totally unappealing right now.

On top of this, the crafting I'd hoped to do is naturally coming along much more slowly than I'd like.  And don't even get me started on sewing, because I haven't done a thing with my sewing machine and all the wonderful fabrics sitting in my office/crafting room armoire!

Call the waaahhhmbulance, Erin.
I know, poor lil' ol' me. Wah, wah, wah. <rolls eyes>

Can you tell I bite off more than I can chew?  It's an on-going problem in my life.

However, not all is a pity party in my little corner of the world.  I'm just making it sound that way.

Part of my time the last few months has also been spent making more candles.  I've only mentioned the candle-making in passing, but I'm very proud to say that my hand-poured soy candles are now being carried in two local shops:

Nest in Burlington


Vintage Revival in Hillsborough

These are two of my favorite shops in the area, and it's quite thrilling to see something I've made displayed in these oh-so-lovely spaces.  And now I'm considering an Etsy shop, but not til the fall when preschool is back in session!  I'm not *that* crazy to take on yet another project right now...

We're also getting ready to build a workshop/storage building behind our house. That will give me a proper painting studio, as well as a place to keep furniture projects (!!!) and my husband can finally organize and store his tools.  Plus we'll have covered parking for our cars, shelter for our wood splitter and extra storage for firewood.

Plus, I need want to repaint the beadboard in the kitchen, sew whimsical curtains for several bare windows in the house, get caught up on my favorite blogs, continue reading the Outlander series (my latest reading addiction...OMG love it!) and a host of other things.

With all this on my plate, I'm toying with the idea of taking a summer vacation from blogging, just so I can catch up on projects, other around-the-house stuff and life in general, and not feel the completely self-imposed pressure to document everything. 

Would you stick around if I take a brief hiatus?

Please say yes, please say yes.

I'm curious to hear how you've handled--if you've had one--a blogging slump...any and all advice is appreciated!

Your tuckered-out blogging friend,

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Union Oyster House Corn Bread

Happy weekend, everyone!

Just wanted to pop in and say hello since it's going on two weeks since I last posted here...

The reason for that is that my husband and I snuck out of town--sans child--and went to Boston last Friday for six days.

Well, we didn't really sneak out because this had been planned months ago...but to have an adults-only trip felt a bit too good to be true until we were on our way!

My husband attended the National Fire Protection Association Conference and Expo for work (and picked up an award), and I got to come along to enjoy a little vacation.

I left the computer and camera at home, and it was six unplugged days of no rambunctious four-year-olds relaxation, sight-seeing, lots of reading and good eating.

The last full day of our stay, we walked a good part of the Freedom Trail and passed by the Union Oyster House on our way to the North End, a.k.a Little Italy.  We noticed the restaurant boasted itself to be the oldest continuously operated dining establishment the United States.


That piqued our interest, and the fact their specialty was seafood didn't hurt either, so we returned after completing the walk to have dinner.

Upon sitting down at our booth, the waitress arrived with four-inch thick slabs of cornbread.  I kid you not. It was amazingness on a plate!

I was absolutely starving after all the walking in the unseasonably cool weather, so the cornbread could've been made from a box of Jiffy and I wouldn't have cared. But it was worlds better than that!

It was warm, sweet, actually rather cake-like, and smoothed with a layer of Cabot Creamery butter, it was scrumptious and comforting.

The rest of the meal was immensely delicious as we shared an appetizer of Oysters Rockefeller, an entree of Lobster Newberg and sides of clam chowder and Boston baked beans.

However, that corn bread stuck in my mind even after returning home. Fortunately, this is such a popular item at the restaurant, it spawned a copy-cat recipe available at Score!

This evening, we hosted dinner to celebrate Father's Day with my father-in-law, and with the meal served a batch of the Union Oyster House's corn bread.

Num num!

The copy-cat recipe is spot-on, folks.  Couldn't have been better unless we were actually dining at the restaurant itself!

And now this is my go-to cornbread recipe, forever and always.

I'll be back later this week with photos of the pigs.  We've now had them two months and they're growing like weeds. Not surprising because they eat like, well, pigs! :)


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Stroke of Luck

Last month, Jennifer at The Old Painted Cottage hosted a giveaway for a signed copy of Fifi O'Neill's Romantic Prairie Style.

Jennifer's home, a.k.a. Cottage8, is among the featured homes in this book about "...simple pleasures, comfort and the long-cherished ideals of natural beauty, simplicity and harmony with the earth..." and "...a style that says 'home' wherever you may be because, more than anything else, it's a mindset: gentle but strong, welcoming and lasting, durable yet sophisticated and, above all, real."

Sneak peeks of the book appeared on several different blogs during the spring and I was smitten by what I saw.


And I wasn't the only one.

The response to Romantic Prairie Style has been so overwhelming, the first edition is sold out and the second edition is on back order.  Of the 20 reviews currently on Amazon, all are 5-star reviews. And the book made The Wall Street Journal's top 10 best-seller list for home and garden books two weeks running after its release in April.

Naturally, when a few Romantic Prairie Style giveaways were held on blogs I read, I entered, hoping I'd win even though the giveaways had lots and lots of entries. Like the-odds-are-completely-against-you numbers of entries. The giveaway at The Old Painted Cottage was no different, but I entered anyway because I'm an eternal optimist.

Fast forward to a  few weeks later. We're on our way home from our anniversary trip to the mountains--sans laptop--and we stop at Nest's Sunday Vintage Market on our way home.  My friend Heather is a reader of The Old Painted Cottage and when she sees me, she congratulates me on winning Jennifer's giveaway.

Say what?!

You see, I don't ever win anything.

(Except for one time when I won a basket of Merle Norman skin care products from a salon that my sister worked at. She later told me that she rigged the drawing in my favor--probably because I looked like hell from the months and months of sleep deprivation courtesy of my infant son!)

But I completely lucked out this time and legitimately won my very own copy of Romantic Prairie Style!

If I never win anything again, I will be completely happy having won this giveaway.

The book arrived from Fifi on Friday. Oh. My. What a book it is.  I was very nearly hyperventilating as my eyes met page after page of gasp-inducing, beautiful homes and properties.

Now, I don't want to get in trouble with Fifi, photographer Mark Lohman or the publisher, but here are a few peeks of the book:

Amazing, is it not?

Romantic Prairie Style has now supplanted Comfortable Country by Enrica Stabile as my favorite book on country homes and decorating.

If you appreciate the contrast of vintage patinas against soft furnishings, glimpses into farm and country life, and miss Country Home magazine something fierce, you will love this book.  Fifi has created a sublime treasure in Romantic Prairie Style and it's one I will cherish.

Thank you, Jennifer and Fifi, for giving away a copy of this book!  Your generosity is most appreciated!


Friday, June 3, 2011

Beet Salad

I've been enjoying this beet salad several times a week now for the last month or so.

I hadn't fully appreciated fresh beets before, but they are far superior to the canned variety. (So if all you've ever had is canned beets and you hate them, give fresh beets a try!) And beets are a very-good-for-you vegetable that many of us don't eat enough of, if at all.

With the delicious additions of candied walnuts, feta cheese (for saltiness), and a honey balsamic vinaigrette dressing, I'm happy to eat my greens and beets on a regular basis!

This is an easy salad to make and I generally keep the various components on hand in the fridge, then assemble the salad when I'm ready to eat.

To make this salad you'll need:
  • Salad greens of your choice
  • Fork-tender boiled beets, sliced or cubed
  • Grated feta cheese (I use cow's milk feta)
  • Candied walnuts (recipe below)
  • Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing (recipe below)
Fill your bowl with salad greens, then top with the beets.  Grate desired amount of feta then sprinkle on the candied nuts.  Drizzle with vinaigrette and prepare to fill your mouth with a mouth-watering combination of sweet, salty, earthy and tangy flavors!

Candied Walnuts
Coarsely chop walnuts then put in skillet over medium heat. Toast for a few minutes, then pour enough maple syrup over nuts to coat them. Toss with a spatula and remove coated nuts to a plate to cool and harden.

Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
In a half-pint mason jar, pour a 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar, a 1/4 cup of honey and a 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Put on lid and shake contents thoroughly to combine.