Summer Staples

These two salads are staples at my house during the summer months or any other time that I get on a ‘meat is disgusting’ kick and break out my vegetarian cookbooks. Both salads are, hands down, the easiest salad to prepare and both versions are packed with flavor!

Can I also mention that they are also really visually appealing? Look at how vibrant the colors are. I’m a sucker for visual appeal and have been known to arrange every one’s food so that it looks pretty before serving. Frankly, it doesn’t matter what it is… chicken nuggets and broccoli aren’t even immune to an artful arrangement in my kitchen. I’m kind of freaky like that and, besides, the kids like broccoli trees standing tall in mashed potato mountain.

I’ve gone off subject again haven’t I? Shiny things…

Shredded Carrot Salad with Cilantro Dressing
Using a food processor or hand-held grater, shred 2 1/2 cups of peeled carrots and set aside.
Cilantro Dressing
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small clove of garlic, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
pinch of cayenne (optional)
With a whisk, combine the ingredients for the dressing, pour over the carrots and toss well. Serve lightly chilled or at room temperature.
 Pretty Beets & Carrots
The bright colors of this salad, combined with its crisp texture and tangy flavor makes it a fantastic summer side-dish.
1 large raw beet, peeled
1 large carrot, peeled
1 walnut-sized piece of fresh ginger root
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
salt and ground pepper to taste
1/4 minced scallions (I’ve also used 1 minced shallot)
lettuce leaves, watercress, arugula or frisee (optional)
  • Using a food processor shredded/grate the carrot then the beet, place in separate bowls and set aside.
  • Grate the ginger finely with a micro-plane and combine it with the oil, vinegar and garlic. Toss the beets with half the dressing and add salt and pepper to taste. Mix together the scallions, carrots and remaining dressing, add salt and pepper if you’d like.
  • Arrange the lettuce on a platter, mound the carrot mixture in the center and spoon the beets around it.
  • Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Both recipes were adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics by The Moosewood Collective.

Head over to My3LittleBirds and link up to one of my favorite blogs. While you’re there, take some time to read her work. She is, by far, one of my favorite writers. xoxoxoxo

Where Did My Weekend Go?

Why do the weekends insist of flying by so quickly?

Saturday morning was a mad rush to feed the kids and get everyone to the Pinewood Derby for the 9:30 weigh-in. Joe had a terrific time and although he didn’t win, he was very proud of his car…even though he barely helped! It was clear from the get-go that he didn’t understand that the derby was done in heats, so when his car came in second place in two of the heats, he was thrilled. At the end, he really had no clue that his car placed 9th out of 13. Maybe you will do better next year, kid. Now that we know what the whole thing entails, we’ll get on the ball a little faster.

With the derby done, I needed to get the out of the house before I went utterly psychotic, so on Saturday I went to check out a new vintage/antique store in Windham, Maine called My Sister’s Garage. Technically, it isn’t new, but simply relocated from further north and they have taken over an entire house. Each room is decorated with vintage and repurposed finds, as well as some antiques. I was too busy shopping to take photos and it was a complete mad house since it was their grand opening.

Let me clarify that I’m not planning on changing my blog to focus on “design,” but one of my first posts last summer was all about the kitchen before we started re-decorating. For months, friends and readers have been asking for my ‘After’ pictures. So, I’m finally posting some updated pictures of exactly one half of the kitchen. Why only half, you ask? Well, because the other half was filled with all of the crap from the half that looks neat and tidy in my pictures.

I have been looking for some inexpensive replacements for two of our kitchen chairs and stumbled upon a decent enough find at My Sister’s Garage.

$85 for both chairs and I’m not going to worry about them getting some wear and tear. They work pretty well with the rest of the kitchen decor too, right down to the burlap on the seats that match the drapes I finally finished. Well, I finished them with the help of my mother who doesn’t have the attention span of a flea…thanks, Mom!

A few years ago, I was obsessed with crewel work and bought a few vintage bed covers on EBay. I re-purposed two of them into drapery panels in our downstairs bathroom. For the kitchen, I bought some inexpensive burlap and used my favorite vintage crewel bedspread to make drapery panels.

Here are a few before and after photos of the dining area in the kitchen…

Before/Prior Owners


Last summer, while I was agonizing over exactly which color to paint the mantle and the island, we were busy priming and painting all of the wainscoting and woodwork in the room. The wainscoting and walls were both painted Marble White (Benjamin Moore) and I ended up using Farrow and Ball Green Blue for the mantle and island.


The next thing we need to tackle is the track lighting over the table and the stove and the countertops. I’m still holding out for carrera marble or soapstone on the countertops and butcher block on the island.

 While I was at My Sister’s Garage, I also spotted this vintage grain sack pillow that I couldn’t resist. What can I say, I’m a sucker for terriers. Can you tell? It can hang out with Stella on the window seat.

Please take a moment to vote for No. 7…then I’ll be inspired to write something a little less boring and slightly more funny.

Reality Bites

For the past week, the obsessive-compulsive amateur interior designer in me has been clawing her way out. This is the kitchen at our new house. Its nice, right? It has a nice island, a window seat, butler’s pantry and that fantastic fireplace! Here’s the rub… The colors just aren’t mine. We’ve been here for seven months now and the colors are now SCREAMING at me. The walls were rag painted gold, the wainscotting is Sherwin William’s Thyme Green, the cabinets and all trim is Sherwin Williams Cottage Cream, the island is barn red and the fireplace is black. Now, maybe its just me, but that is a whole lot of color for one kitchen. Besides, I’m more of a “neutral” kind of lady.
My eyes glaze over and I drool just a little bit as I think about my kitchen’s future. What I want to do is paint the cabinets a nice antique white, put some soapstone on the counters, subway tile backsplash, carrera marble on the island with the base glazed a French Gray (a la Farrow and Ball)….insert the sound of a scratching record here as reality sinks in. With three small children and having just finished a kitchen re-do last year in our 150 year old house, my brain can’t handle another foray into plaster dust and painting cabinets. I think I have been able to reign myself in enough to deal with painting the walls, island and wainscotting until I have the drive (and funds) to jump into the carrera marble and soapstone pool. There’s just one small problem… that darn SW Cottage Cream on the cabinets and trim! Its so yellow. Yellow is really killing my vision. This is my ideal kitchen done by Nicola Manganello of Nicola’s Homes.

Off to find (obsess over) a nice creamy neutral for the walls that will pair well with my Cottage Cream (yellow) cabinets and wainscoting. The good news is that I’ve determined that either French Gray or Blue Gray will still work on the island. Whew. It’s just paint, right?