Archive for February, 2011



ikea instructions

We didn’t have a huge budget for furnishing our guest room, so it was off to Ikea.  We got really lucky with sales and scored a queen sized Malm bed for $100 (instead of $200).

Malm Bed

The existing closet in the guest room took up about a third of the entire room, and the doors were made from 2 sheets of very heavy plywood hung on a track.  It was almost impossible to slide the doors open and shut and the room was already very small, so the closet had to go.  But our guests would still need somewhere to hang their clothes.  Thus our second trip to a great Ikea sale.  This time we were able to get a wardrobe for $50 instead of $100.

Ikea Wardrobe

We didn’t like the original gray, plastic handles that came with the wardrobe, so we went to the hardware section of Ikea and picked out new brushed silver, metal handles to upgrade the overall look of the piece.

Ikea Wardrobe Pieces

Wardrobe Handles

We wanted to get to bedside tables, but found most options to be really expensive.  We wanted something unique and didn’t want the whole room to look like an Ikea show room.  That was when we returned to one of our favorite websites for unique, old pieces of furniture – Loft3f. He is based in Lynchburg, Virginia and occasionally makes deliveries up to DC.  We were in luck!  He had 2 chairs that would make great bedside tables:

Bedside Table Chairs

So now the guest room is furnished…

Guest Bed and Tables

Next comes the decorating!

Category : Design | House Fixing | Blog

Spicy Sausage and Lentil Stew



  • 1 pound dry lentils
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. each garlic salt, dry mustard, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground ginger, and ground nutmeg, and dried thyme, crushed
  • 8 oz. Polish or German sausage, cut into ½ inch chunks
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 1 15 oz (2 cups) tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons bottled barbecue sauce

In a Dutch oven, combine lentils, 5 cups of water, and seasonings.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat and simmer covered for 35 minutes.  In a skillet cook sausage and onion until meat is lightly browned.  Add to stew with remaining ingredients.  Simmer, covered, 15 minutes.

8-10 servings

Category : Recipes | Blog

What could be better than cookies from grandmothers?

This is a recipe (word-for-word) my grandmother (who we called Nana) made when my sister and I would visit. She passed away this year, but making these cookies brings back wonderful memories. Making these cookies was very nostalgic, but also wonderful because in a way you can visit someone you miss through the comfort of food once made by them.

Molasses Cookies


  • 3/4 cup shortening (Blue Bonnet Margarine)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt


Melt shortening in a 3 or 4 quart pan over low heat. Remove from heat; let cool. Add sugar, molasses and egg; beat well. Sift together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt. Add to first mixture. Mix well. Chill.

Form 1 inch balls, roll in granulated sugar.

molasses cookie ball

Place on greased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake in moderately hot oven (350) about 8-10 minutes.

Molasses cookie sheet

(I often make the batter the day before and leave it in the refrigerator until baking).

These cookies have a wonderful, mild molasses flavor, but the best part is how chewy they are, especially fresh out of the oven!

Category : Recipes | Blog

Peony In Love

It is February – the month of love, so I thought this month’s book should be a love story.

Peony in Love

Peony In Love written by Lisa See is a wonderful story about love in 17th century China.  The love in this story is strong enough to continue into the afterlife. The book starts with a young girl who is about step into an arranged marriage with a man she has never met. Her life parallels that of the main character in her favorite opera, The Peony Pavilion. Both are trapped by their upper class standing and societal expectations, and both struggle to break free and be heard. At the beginning of the story, Peony’s father decides to host a showing of  The Peony Pavilion. During the show, the women sit behind a screen so as not to be seen by the men.  At one point, Peony peaks through a crack in the screen and sees a very handsome man and is overcome with emotion.  By chance, she meets with this man while everyone is watching the opera, and finds herself torn between her feelings for this man and her duty to enter an arranged marriage.  This wonderful story is full of love, hope, sadness, and joy, and really brings a different era and world to life.

Category : Book of the Month | Blog