Cozy, Clean and Simple

Another awesome Etsy  blog post. The following text and images are courtesy of Etsy.

Get the Look Decor: Cozy, Clean and Simple

Published on Sept 16, 2012 in Shop

Photo by Nicola Henry

Iheartmoustaches

This weekend’s Get the Look Decor is inspired by Nicola Henry’s modern country home in Hertfordshire, England. She and her husband began renovating the home two years ago, just after getting married. They both love that they can enjoy the fresh country air and still be in London in just 40 minutes.

For more photos of Nikki’s peaceful home, visit her on Flickr or stop by her blog, Life on Orchard Road. Check out her Etsy shop, Orchardroad, for sewn and knit home goods and accessories.

   
   

[Clockwise from top left: Chair Set by Shamrockfinewoodwork; Can We Shall We Screen Print by misterrob; Recycled Douglas Fir Custom Dining Table by MortiseandTenon; Solid Oak Wall Clock by DesignAtelierArticle; Subway Grates Placemats by KayeRachelle; Crochet Amigurumi Owl by WereRabbit2006.]

Describe your home decorating style.
My home decorating style is modern country. I love Victorian houses and features, but I like modern colours in my house, like white and grey.

   
   

[Clockwise from top left: Vintage Roseville Stoneware Utensil Holder by aniandrose; Linen Cotton Dish Towels by Coloredworld; Custom Canister Labels by decalfarm; French Milk Jar by FrenchByDesign; Oak Butcherblock Cutting Board by QuattlebaumWoodworks; Blue Striped Paper Straws by MarigoldandSageParty.]

Did you decide to decorate in this style or was there an evolution to your decorating process?
Before the days of Pinterest, I made a home scrapbook and added photos from magazines. It didn’t take long to discover my decorating style, but my decorating process is still evolving!

   
   

[Clockwise from top left: White Wood Full Bed with Headboard, Footboard, Siderails by TheSouthernMermaid; White Bed Queen Sheet Sets by nurdanceyiz; 2 Wooden Letters and Ampersand by gracegraffiti; Ladder Chair by itisdwell; Vintage White Gathering Basket by JennythingVintage; Pair End Tables by ExeterFields.]

Where are your favorite places to shop for home items?
My favourite home shop is The White Company. The bedding is beautiful. I also love Cox and Cox for unique items, and John Lewis is a great high street store for home shopping.

What inspires you when it comes to decorating?
My mother. She is very house-proud and has always decorated her home beautifully.

   

[Clockwise from top left: Decorative Pillow Cover by nestables; Fairy Moss Wreath by twigstwineandthyme; Atomic Hairpin Leg Floor Lamp by SelectModern.]

What is your favorite part about your home?
It has to be my new kitchen and dining area, with its Belfast sink, oak worktops, and modern grey tiles. We managed to open it up to achieve a space for cooking and socialising. I love to be in that room.

   
   

[Clockwise from top left: La Vie Est Belle Print by Tessyla; Round Wool Rug Mat by divisionstdesigns; Turkish Bath Towel by AllOrganicTextiles; Porcelain Bird Soap Dish by PrinceDesignUK; Victorian Styled Stained Glass Window by pj57; Organic French Green Clay Soap by HerbivoreBotanicals.]

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Burning Man

MiraBella plays host to a wonderful fall party to conclude the summer season and start anew. Running wild with the Burning Man theme, it is a chance to rid yourself of the past, events, negative feelings, or items and allow for new growth. It’s all very symbolic.

VK set a bonfire at the base of a wooden man and we watched as he erupted in smoke and flame. The fire slowly disintegrated him from the feet up. As smoke and sparks rose from the man, guests approached dropping items into the fire.

With a cast of characters in attendance and all the youngins gone home to bed, the party erupted with shot after shot of coconut tequila, heaven sent 1800. The bottle was soon empty.

Lots of rowdy behavior ensued. Then VK had a brilliant idea: Grass tubing! This fun sport consists of tying a snow tube to the back of an F450, hopping on and being dragged through the fields. It was awesome!! We flew across the grass, up and down slopes, over bumps. Somehow only one among us fell off. It was a wonderful night!

Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery

To welcome the first day of fall, two of my friends planned a trip to the Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery for a day of delicious wine and apple picking.

We began the morning with a breakfast of wine. Finding the Black Dirt Red and the Black Dirt Blush to be absolutely phenomenal, I took a bottle of each home. For the dessert option, I tasted the Winston’s Harlequin Port and found it to be deliciously bold and sweet.

Off to the orchards, we loaded our sacks with Honeycrisp, Macintosh, Empire and Gala apples. Honeycrisp being my favorite, I stocked up on plenty for snacks and making applesauce and apple butter. The Empire apples are perfect for baking. Those will be baked into a pie with crust from scratch later this week.

After loading up on apples, we headed over to the outdoor grill and had a lunch of hotdogs, brisket, pumpkin soup, and cheeseburgers. We lounged out on blankets and enjoyed the sunshine and cool breeze.

Top 25 Pizza Pies in NYC

NYC is know for having amazing pizza. Yet with every other pizza place claiming to be original, famous, or the best, picking a place to try can be a bit intense. Thank you Time Out New York for yet another amazing foodie article assisting the public in the formidable task of choosing pizza parlors.

The following words and photos are courtesy of Time Out New York.

Best New York pizza: The top 25 pies in the city

Our five-borough tour of the best New York pizza skips from legendary institutions to new-wave joints. Here are the reigning pies in Gotham.

By Mari Uyehara     Mon Sep 17 2012

Di Fara Pizza

Di Fara Pizza Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

In 1905, Lombardi’s opened as New York’s first pizzeria, bringing the simple Italian dish to Gotham. Owner Gennaro Lombardi helped train a generation of pizzaioli, dispatching thin-crust acolytes all over the city: Patsy Lancieri over to East Harlem with Patsy’s, John Sasso to the West Village with John’s of Bleecker Street, and Anthony Pero out to Coney Island with Totonno’s. Since then, a new generation has ushered in traditional Neapolitan-style pies (Kesté Pizza & Vino), wildly creative toppings (Paulie Gee’s) and, of course, the fried-pizza craze (Forcella). The onetime exotic immigrant food is now synonymous with Gotham, and arguing over the city’s best pizza has become a classic New York pastime. With that in mind, we trekked all over town to find out if old favorites still lived up to their reputation and if new pizzerias could rise to the fierce competition. Here are the best New York pizza spots.

25. Diavolo at Zero Otto Nove

Salerno-born upstart Roberto Paciullo made waves on Arthur Avenue when he challenged red-sauce supremacy with his standout trattoria, which opened in 2007 and spun off a Chelsea offshoot in 2011. The wide-ranging menu features baroque combinations like butternut squash, smoked mozzarella and pancetta, but we favor his diavolo, built on a thin crust, slighty puffed at the edges, with a good chew. Singed lengths of spicy sopressata mingle with swatches of oozing mozzarella and a thick, brawny tomato sauce. 2357 Arthur Ave between 184th and 186th Sts, Bronx (718-220-1027) • 15 W 21st St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-242-0899) • $14.95.

24. Totonno’s Pizzeria Napolitano

This Coney Island institution—founded in 1924 by Gennaro Lombardi apprentice Anthony “Totonno” Pero—was once as famous for its rude service as for its peerless pies. But with Pero’s friendly niece Louise Ciminieri now running the no-frills joint, the mood is decidedly more welcoming. Although two generations of pizzaioli have turned over, the honest pies are still a superb showcase of culinary high art: bubbling browned cheese covers a sweet tangy sauce and ultrathin crust, touched with a whiff of smoke from a historic coal oven. 1524 Neptune Ave between 15th and 16th Sts, Coney Island, Brooklyn (718-372-8606). Small $16.50, large $19.50.

23. The Saint Louie at Speedy Romeo

Pie obsessives—from Slice NY blog founder Adam Kuban to Paulie Gee’s owner Paul Gianonne—rank this wood-fired beaut in the upper echelons of the city’s greatest ‘za creations. The stacked pie, cut into squares, is smothered with tangy San Marzano tomato sauce and molten Provel—a pungent, almost-blue-cheese-like mix of provolone, cheddar, Swiss and liquid smoke, born in St. Louis. It’s blanketed with plump nuggets of anisey homemade pork sausage, crisp-edged strips of sopressata and zippy pickled peppers. Although the inspiration comes from chef-owner JustinBazdarich’s father’s hometown, this balls-out pie de resistance will stir nostalgia for anyone who has shared a pizza overloaded with toppings at cozy family-style joints in the burbs. 376 Classon Ave at Greene Ave, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn (718-230-0061). $16.

22. Margherita at Sottocasa

Chef-owner Luca Arrigoni learned to punch dough alongside pizza maestro Roberto Caporuscio (Kesté), before opening this rustic Boerum Hill restaurant in 2011. Arrigoni’s Margherita is a superb rendition: Creamy puddles of mozzarella and a simple fresh tomato sauce crown a buoyant round of dough. A wood-fired brick Acunto oven scorches the thin pizzas at the edges and lends them a hint of smoke. The old master would be proud. 298 Atlantic Ave between Hoyt and Smith Sts, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn (718-852-8758). $11.

21. Baked Potato pie at PeteZaaz

The short menu at this urbanist slice joint reads like a list of fantasy stoner snacks dreamed up in a ganja-smoke haze. The thin, crackery crusts may lack pronounced flavor, but they’re vehicles, sturdily built to deliver baroque combos of local produce, artisanal cheeses and meats to your mouth. While other creations rotate in and out, our favorite, the Baked Potato pie, has become a signature. Gooey white cheddar, thick slices of purple potato and crispy bits of bacon are scattered atop a crisp crust. It’s finished with a cooling pool of tangy crème fraîche in the middle and smattering of sharp chopped scallion: hangover grub in its highest form. 766 Classon Ave between Park and Sterling Pls, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (718-230-9229). $17.

20. Vodka pie at Joe & Pat’s Pizzeria and Restaurant

A trio of young men—uniformly wearing backward caps, white tees and stud earrings—pat down rounds of dough in the front of this family-run pie shop, a required stop on the Staten Island pizza junket since it opened in 1960. The must-order pie is the Vodka. The junky favorite achieves an almost restrained elegance here: Cracker-thin crusts with a soft interior are covered with just enough of creamy vodka-spiked tomato sauce and stretchy, salty mozzarella. 1758 Victory Blvd between Manor Rd and Winthrop Pl, Staten Island (718-981-0887). Small $15, large $17.

19. Bacon pie at Best Pizza

The crews behind Roberta’s and Brooklyn Star collaborated on this stellar homage to the classic New York slice joint, here updated with backpacker hip-hop and a Williamsburg clientele arriving by skateboard. The über-thin crust has an alkaline zip, good browning and hearty chew; the tomato sauce is fresh and bright; and the thin web of punchy cheese is in perfect proportion, all earning it best-in-class status for the old-school-style pie. Take yours to the next level and add the sweet pieces of slightly smoked slab bacon, which play nicely against the full rosettes of heady basil. 33 Havemeyer St between North 7th and 8th Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-599-2210). Pie $24.

18. Plain pie at John’s of Bleecker Street

Scratched-wood booths, a bright neon-red sign and tattered floors outfit this charmingly shabby New York icon, which opened in 1929 and still buzzes with both tourists and locals. Cooked at 850 degrees in a coal-fired brick oven, the pizza has stood the test of time. A super-thin crust has just enough flop. Blanketed with sweet tomato and blistered, gooey cheese, the top-notch pie tastes of pure New York. 278 Bleecker St at Jones St (212-243-1680). Small $14.50, large $16.50.

17. Sicilian at Artichoke Basille

Forget the gloopy spinach-artichoke special that’s the namesake of this burgeoning pizza chainlet, from Staten Island natives Francis Garcia and Sal Basile. The superior order here is the Sicilian, which achieves a dexterous balance of tangy sauce, gooey mozzarella punched up with robust Parm, and a buttery, almost shortbreadlike, crust. The heaving slice is the kind of drunk food you would be just as happy to eat in broad daylight. 328 E 14th St between First and Second Aves (212-228-2004) • 111 MacDougal St between Bleecker St and Minetta Ln (646-278-6100) • 457 W 17th St at Tenth Ave (212-792-9200) • Slice $4, pie $26

16. Old-fashioned pie at Adrienne’s Pizza Bar

It’s worth braving the Wall Street clientele and dreadful trance music for the fabulous square pie at this Financial District pizzeria, from Nick Angelis of the famed Nick’s in Queens. A sheet pan of airy crust, glossy with oil and browned with char, drips with a robust tomato sauce and burnished blend of mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Load on the toppings—crisp porky pepperoni, meaty mushrooms, coins of fennel sausage—the substantial crust can handle any amount of gut-busting gluttony. 54 Stone St between Pearl and William Sts (212-248-3838). $18.50.

15. Pizza Patate at Sullivan St Bakery

It’s all about the bread at Jim Lahey’s celebrated bakery. The impeccable Roman-style square—silky dough pocked with air bubbles and sporting a baguettelike chew—would be good enough on its own. But  wisps of golden potatoes, crunchy brown just at the edges, along with curls of sweet onion and fragrant rosemary, put this virtuous slab of pizza over the top. 533 W 47th St between Tenth and Eleventh Aves (212-265-5580) • 236 Ninth Ave between 24th and 25th Sts (212-929-5900). Slice $3.50, pie $27.

14. Square pie at L&B Spumoni Gardens

Since 1939, this Bensonhurst original—where muscle-bound Brooklynites with deep accents gather in the outdoor patio—has served one of the best Sicilian slices in town. Candy-sweet tomato sauce is generously slathered over tall, doughy rectangles with a crunchy browned bottom. It’s finished with squares of melted mozzarella and zippy strands of Parm. 2725 86th St between 10th and 11th Sts, Gravesend, Brooklyn (718-372-8400). Slice $2.25, half tray $19, full tray $36.

13. Bee Sting at Roberta’s

Among food cognoscenti, the composed plates at indie favorite Roberta’s may have eclipsed its pies of late. The wily pizzaioli here rotate playfully named creations on and off the dinner menu as the seasons change; but our favorite of the signature pies, the Bee Sting, is a brunch mainstay (you can order it off-menu at other meal times). Fitting, since like breakfast sausage drenched in maple syrup, this excellent pie showcases the classic combo of savory pork with sweetness, here punched up with a spicy kick. On a foundation of stretchy mozzarella and velvety tomato sauce, a drizzle of honey melds with paper-thin coins of hot soppressata and chili flakes for a spicy-sweet-tangy mélange. 261 Moore St between Bogart and White Sts, Bushwick, Brooklyn (718-417-1118). $15.

12. Meatball pie at Nick’s Pizza

Nick Angelis’s classy Queens pizzeria—done up nicely with tall arched windows, bronzed tin ceilings and a gleaming copper espresso machine—defies New York’s pizza categories. It’s neither Neapolitan-style (pulled from a wood-burning hearth), nor old-school New York (baked in a coal-fired oven). But the ’za—built on light, thin crusts scorched on the bottom in a regular ol’ gas-assisted oven—is excellent all the same. The meatball pie, topped with flat, brown slices, may not look like much, but those tender full moons are packed with beefy flavor. Spread atop supple rounds of mozzarella and an oregano-fragrant tomato sauce, it’s our favorite version in town. 108-26 Ascan Ave between Austin and Burns Sts, Forest Hills, Queens (718-263-1126). Small $15.50, large $17.50.

11. Sausage pie at Denino’s Pizzeria & Tavern

“In crust we trust” is the pizza-box slogan of this family-style pizzeria—a Staten Island fixture since 1937 that keeps Frank Sinatra on the jukebox and friendly locals at the granite bar. The toppings are fine: The sauce is sparse and sweet, the cheese is mild, and the sweet Italian sausage is properly juicy. But it’s the unique crust, browned to perfection in a roaring brick oven, that endows this pizzeria with a mythmaking legacy: A flat round, crunchy with breadcrumbs, sports a crackling crenulated texture unlike any other in the city. 524 Port Richmond Ave at Hooker Pl, Staten Island (718-442-9401). $14.50.

10. Regular pie at Rubirosa

Born of pizza royalty at Staten Island’s lauded Joe & Pat’s, Angelo Pappalardo did a turn in fine dining (Esca) before planting a flag for the forgotten borough in Nolita. Pappalardo does the family legacy proud with these expertly charred thin-crust pies. As at the original, the Vodka version is unimpeachable, but you shouldn’t miss the outstanding plain pizza, crafted from a 50-year-old recipe: Generous discs of lush mozzarella and a thick swatch of bright tomato sauce hug a pliant crust that crackles at the edges. 235 Mulberry St between Prince and Spring Sts (212-965-0500). Small $16, large $24.

9. Slice at Sal & Carmine Pizza

Upper West Siders poured a little marinara out when legendary pie maker Sal Malanga passed away in 2009. But his brother Carmine and grandsons Luciano and George still carry on the family tradition for this hole-in-the-wall pizzeria, which opened in 1959. From the outside, Sal and Carmine looks like any no-frills slice joint, but step into the back and you’ll see vintage Christian Dior adverts and Walasse Ting prints hanging on the shabby walls—a touch of unexpected refinement in a seemingly generic spot. Likewise, there’s more than meets the eye with the humble slice. The stiff crust, thin layer of concentrated sauce and shredded mozzarella form something greater than the sume of their parts: a flawless harmony, hitting all the right notes of saltiness, tang and chew. 2671 Broadway between 101st and 102nd Sts (212-663-7651). $3.

8. Montanara Starita at Don Antonio by Starita

Pizza dream team Roberto Caporuscio (Kesté) and his mentor Antonio Starita—who opened their midtown gem in February 2012—weren’t the first to unveil the montanara. But theirs takes top honors in this fried-pizza-crazy town. Here, a round of dough is plunged in roiling oil to develop a fluffy, moist crumb and a darkly tanned exterior—the Italian-stallion kissing cousin to that sweet country-fair favorite, funnel cake. With melted pellets of smoked buffalo mozzarella and rich tomato sauce, the flavors of smoke, fruit and cream mingle together in a wood-burning oven. 309 W 50th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves (646-719-1043). $12.

7. Regular pie at Di Fara Pizza

No pizza is worth a two-hour wait. But pizza pilgrims don’t trek to this far-out Brooklyn neighborhood for the ‘’za alone. Sure, the pie here is wonderful, one of the best in the city as it has been since 1965: The chewy, charred crust is topped with swirls of bright tomato sauce, a lacing of superior mozzarella and grated Parm, snips of basil and a golden sheen of olive oil. But the pizza obsessives—a motley cross-section of camera-toting tourists, rotund goodfellas and young Brooklynites—are here to watch Dom De Marco. He’s the last of a generation of dough-pushing titans—including Gennaro Lombardi, Patsy Grimaldi and Anthony “Totonno” Pero—who were devoted not to building pizzeria empires, but to making pies, day in and day out. Moving at a glacial pace, DeMarco hunches over each pie, ladling sauce and sprinkling cheese, seemingly oblivious to the hungry hordes: Make time to witness the twilight of an era before it’s gone. 1424 Ave J at 15th St, Midwood, Brooklyn (718-258-1367). Slice $5, pie $28.

6. Brussels-sprouts-and-pancetta pie at Motorino

Given his background, the ascent of Mathieu Palombino—a Belgium-born, French-trained toque—to become one of the city’s most heralded pizzaioli wasn’t a predictable one, but his stature since opening his Williamsburg pie shop in 2008 is now undeniable. His East Village pizzeria—the lone location since the flagship shuttered in 2011—showcases a first-rate crust: stretchy, fluffy at the edges and splotched with char on the bottom. Faithful renditions of Neapolitan forms are first-rate, but it’s the brussels-sprouts-and-pancetta pie that deserves entry into the pizza pantheon. Thick with fior di latte, the creative round gets a fresh hit of bitterness from sleek brussels sprouts leaves, slight heat from thin garlic slices and smoky pork from tender pancetta cubes. 349 E 12th St between First and Second Aves (212-777-2644). $16.

5. Margherita at Kesté Pizza & Vino

In a city lousy with Neapolitan-style pizzerias, Kesté broke through the noise when it started slinging its own superb rounds in 2009. Chef-owner Roberto Caporuscio is the president of the U.S. branch of the highly regarded Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani—the certifying organization for aspiring Neapolitan-style pizzaioli—making him a veritableprofessor of pie. His ingredient list is a lesson in proper sourcing: a slow-mixed dough made Caputo 00 flour, a simple, sweet San Marzano tomato sauce and pools of homemade mozzarella. And his puffy crust—speckled with tiny, burnished bubbles—is a winning testament to years spent mastering technique. No matter what you top it with, this world-class pie sings. 271 Bleecker St between Cornelia and Jones Sts, New York, NY (212-243-1500). $13.

4. Anise and Anephew at Paulie Gee’s

Chef-owner Paul Giannone may be Brooklyn’s only pizzaiolo to make appearances in the pages of both gourmet glossies and the AARP’s magazine. While his peers looked toward retirement on the horizon, the then-56-year-old left a career in IT consulting to follow a lifelong passion, opening a rustic pizza tavern in 2010. Creative wood-fired pies—like the Hellboy and Greenpointer—on artfully scorched crusts won over legions of fans, and beat out young bucks for TONY’s 2011 Food & Drink Award for Best Pizza. His homage to anise is a masterwork. Fennel four ways might sound like overkill, but Giannone’s gentle melding is a symphony. Milky fior di latte plays off sweet anisette-spiked cream and tender braised fennel, while superlative Berkshire guanciale and fennel fronds punch it up with pork and fresh herb flavors. 60 Greenpoint Ave between Franklin and West Sts, Greenpoint, Brooklyn (347-987-3747). $17.

3. Regular pie at Patsy’s Pizzeria

History hasn’t dulled the shine of this legendary pie shop. Opened in 1933 by one of New York’s pizza OGs, Pasquale “Patsy” Lancieri, the spot served as training ground for Patsy Grimaldi, and a haunt for Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Behind the iconic neon-red sign, the joint still turns out excellent thin-crust pies. Each pizza—pulled from a coal-fired oven with old-school bona fides—has the perfect ratio of scorch-spotted crust, tangy sauce, creamy mozzarella and salty Parm. Head straight to the East Harlem original: The leaden versions at the spin-off locations just don’t compare. 287-91 First Ave between 117th and 118th Sts (212-534-9783). $12.

2. Clam pie at Franny’s

Before there was Roberta’s or Paulie Gee’s or any of the locavore Italian joints that have proliferated recently in Kings County, there was Franny’s. The trailblazing Prospect Heights spot, run by husband-and-wife team Andrew Feinberg and Francine Stephens, opened it in 2004. It practically pioneered the nouveau-Brooklyn-pizza genre: ambitious pies made with righteous ingredients and time-honored techniques. Among its superlative options, we adore the stunning clam pie. The chewy crust—blistered with a hearth-scented char—is cloaked in lush cream and studded with fresh, meaty clams and pristine parsley leaves. Chili flakes lend a balancing spice. 295 Flatbush Ave between Prospect Pl and St. Marks Ave, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (718-230-0221). $17.

1. Pie with basil at Lucali

In the annals of New York’s pizza history, the pie maker has been better known as a humble flour-dusted artisan, not a swoonworthy celebrity toque. Credit Mark Iacono, a veritable pizzaiolo lothario, for figuring out how to embody both. The mythology of the Carroll Gardens native combines acts of small-town heroism (he turned to the pizza biz to save the space that was once his childhood candy shop) and classic bad-boy romance (who could forget his headline-making knife fight over a mafiosa wife in 2011?). And his transportive pizzeria—romantically staged with tobacco-stained walls, dangling boxing mitts and strumming guitar music—demands waits up to three hours. Locals vie with the likes of Beyoncé and Jay-Z (who skipped the Grammys for a slice) for one of the weathered-wood tables in view of Iacono, brawny in a white tee and punching out dough by candlelight. But its wild popularity is more than hype: Iacono’s pizza is flawless—a thin and crispy crust boasts a char-speckled bottom and pleasant chew. He blankets it with two types of mozzarella (buffalo and low-moisture), plus long gratings of Parmigiano-Reggiano, all boosted by a bright, long-simmered sauce. Then he showers the round with a bouquet of basil rosettes, giving each transcendent bite an anisey perfume. 575 Henry St between Carroll St and 1st Pl, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (718-858-4086). $24.

Tack Trunk Restoration

A few weeks ago I purchased a used wooden tack trunk from a friend that had been sitting in the attic of this beautiful old wood barn for an unknown amount of years. Covered in dust and cobwebs, she helped me drag it from the barn home for my first restoration project.

Before

The trunk was in pretty great shape when I bought it. I could have easily gotten away with a simple clean up. However, I wanted to improve on it as much as possible. The first step was to sand down the exterior wood surfaces to prepare for some fresh paint. I used an electric sander with course sandpaper. After the first sanding, I applied wood filler to the cracks and chips in the wood and allowed it to dry before sanding over it with a course paper and then a fine paper.

This wood filler was highly recommended but I did find it difficult to use. The product needed to be mixed with a hardener before application. I found it to harden very fast making it difficult to spread. Regardless of this difficulty, it did work very well.

Ready for paint!

I purchased Behr Premium paint with built in primer at Home Depot and had them match it to a Benjamin Moore color, Classic Burgundy. This was the first time I used a paint with primer built in. Truly I was not impressed. It required two coats with about 8-12 hours in between to fully dry. I was careful to do thin coats of paint and allowed amply time to dry, yet even a few days after both coats were applied, the paint felt tacky. I did do the painting outdoors, but during these days there was little to no humidity. However, the color did come out wonderful!

After painting, I cleaned up the inside of the trunk using a wood soap before applying wax.

As the bottom of the tack trunk is wood and it will be residing in a damp barn, I decided to lift it off the ground on wheels to protect the bottom from water damage as well as making it easier to move about. After a discussion with my Grandfather, a man who built his own home and can fix/make anything, I went with his method for attaching the wheels. The wheels would be attached to wood blocks. These wood blocks would attach to the bottom of the trunk by screwing through a metal plate on the inside of the trunk. Little confusing. Check out the pics!

Metal plate on the inside of the trunk

Someone had cut the lock on the trunk, but my mother managed to find an identical piece of hardware on a trunk restoration website. The lock is solid brass covered in chrome.

I cleaned the vinyl with Armor All and wiped down the chrome with Brasso. Armor All is wonderful. It cleaned the vinyl perfectly and left a layer of protection. I found the Brasso to be relatively ineffective. I was hoping it would remove some of the discoloration and paint splatters left from the previous owner. Sadly it did not, but it did provide a decent sheen to the chrome.

The finished product:

Ten Dramatic Landscapes

I LOVE to travel. New cities, new countries, new anything excites me to the core. I am a bit of a sucker for top ten lists as well. TripAdvisor sent out an email today of 10 dramatic landscapes. These places are definitely going on my Bucket List. For those nature lover’s out there, get an eyeful of these stunning sights!

See the article here. I highly recommend using TripAdvisor when traveling to new places. 

10 dramatic landscapes

1. Badlands National Park

     South Dakota, US

2. Cano Cristales

     Villavicencio, Colombia

3. The Pinnacle

     Cervantes, Australia

4. Salar de Uyun..

     Bolivia, South America
     Bohol Island, Philippines
     Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, US
     Pamukkale, Turkey
      Arizona, US
     Namib-Naukluft Park, Namibia, Africa
       Northern Ireland, UK

9 Essential Cookbooks for the Plant-Based Athlete

Thank you No Meat Athlete for this collection of essential cookbooks for the vegetarian athlete. You can find the full article here. If you have any favorites you’d like to add to the list, please do so in the comments. I’d love to hear some recommendations.

9 Essential Cookbooks for the Plant-Based Athlete

Written by Matt Frazier

wine and books image 1024x768

My cookbook (and wine) shelf

When it comes to cookbooks, my wife and I are big fans of the library.

You can leaf through a normal book and get an idea of whether it’s any good, but you can’t really decide about a cookbook until you try it. So we like to borrow first, then buy if it’s great.

And so we’ve tried a bunch (well over 50, I bet) in our short three and a half years of being vegetarian. I’m always surprised at the selection of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks in most libraries, even if a lot of them are those 1980′s-style designed ones, with tons of fake meat recipes that are probably a lot worse for you than the even real thing.

(Case in point: I recently saw a recipe in this book, which my sister checked out from the library, for vegan chili cheese dogs. The recipe: get a vegan hot dog, vegan cheese, a bun, and vegan chili, and microwave them. Then assemble as you would an ordinary hot dog. This book also has a “Vegan Chopped Liver” recipe …)

Anyway, my point is that we’ve tried a ton of cookbooks, and we usually end up buying our favorites. And from this handful of favorites, we cook probably 90% of the meals we make.

Before I get to my list, let me explain the criteria.

What makes a great vegan or vegetarian cookbook for athletes?

I called this list 9 Essential Cookbooks for the Plant-Based Athlete, and here’s what I mean by that. To make my list, a vegetarian or vegan cookbook’s recipes had to be:

  • Whole-food based — more than any particular nutrient mix, this is my main criterion for healthy (see this post).
  • Not rabbit-foodish — it’s gotta be substantial, filling, satisfying food.
  • Quick — most meals shouldn’t take more than 30-40 minutes to prepare, since athletes are generally pretty busy.
  • Tasty — maybe the best athletes don’t care so much about this, but the rest of us do.
  • Varied — I wanted each book to have a lot of different types of food in it, so that you could buy just one and still have a nice mix of meals (as opposed to just vegan Indian or Italian food, for example).

So with that, here’s my list. Please note that amazon.com links are affiliate links, so No Meat Athlete will earn a small commission when you buy anything through them!

1. Veganomicon, by Isa Chandra Moscowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

To me, this is a classic, even if it’s only five years old. Though some of the recipes are slightly more involved than I have time for on a weeknight, most every meal in this book turns out wonderfully, and makes you feel like you did something. There’s also tons of supporting material to introduce the reader to different ingredients and techniques used in vegan cooking, making this a perfect first “serious” vegan cookbook.

See my review, along with the recipe for BBQ Black Eyed Pea Collard Rolls, here.

2. Thrive Foods, by Brendan Brazier.

Probably my favorite of all, and the one that I’d rescue from a fire if some weirdo came and lit only my cookbook shelf on fire. The reason I love Thrive Foods is because it’s the perfect balance between extremely healthy (Brendan was a pro triathlete and developed many of these recipes to fuel his career) and normal. I wouldn’t call most of this food gourmet — you can tell that health comes first in most of these recipes — but even my two-year old will eat it, and that’s saying something. And the first one-third of the book makes for interesting reading about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.

See my review of Thrive Foods for more, including the delicious Shanghai Rice Bowl recipe.

3. Clean Food, by Terry Walters.

Simple, seasonal, whole ingredients are what I think of when I think of Clean Food. Though it doesn’t say so anywhere on the cover, the book is entirely vegan and mostly gluten-free, too. This is my favorite cookbook for finding what’s fresh at the farmer’s market and making it for dinner that night. (Terry is also a marathoner and triathlete, so it’s no coincidence that the food here is so perfect for athletes.)

Here’s where you can find my review of Clean Food, along with a recipe for Millet Black Bean Patties with Corn.

4. Jai Seed, by Rich Roll.

Jai Seed is a little different — partly because it’s an ebook, but not just that. There’s something else about the food that distinguishes it from that of the other cookbooks on my list. The recipes are unique and interesting, and in general, the ingredients Rich uses are fresh, often raw, superfoods that he combines in simple smoothies, salads, sauces, meals and desserts — and some they turn out to be delicious. And it never hurts to know you’re eating the same food a vegan Ultraman triathlete eats!

See my review of Jai Seed here.

5. Appetite for Reduction, by Isa Chandra Moscowitz.

Isa is the only author to appear twice on my list, but Appetite for Reduction is somewhat different from Veganomicon, so I won’t lose sleep over including both. The focus is on simplifying, so that these meals are quicker, healthier, and cheaper than those in V’con. And my friend Matt Ruscigno, a vegan Registered Dietitian and ultra-distance cyclist, contributed a nutrition primer and lots of nutrition notes throughout the book (see the protein and iron posts Matt wrote for No Meat Athlete).

PS — We made the black bean zucchini tacos a few nights ago, and they were mind-blowing.

6. 1000 Vegan Recipes, by Robin Robertson.

1000 Vegan Recipes was the first vegan cookbook I ever bought, and my gateway from vegetarianism to veganism. To be honest, I haven’t found a ton of standout recipes in this book (Mac ‘n’ Chard is one delicious exception), but the sheer number (you’ll never guess how many!) and variety of quick and simple recipes in the book makes it a go-to for so many nights when I’ve got nothing planned but need to get something on the table fast. The salads section is long and excellent, too.

7. World Vegetarian, by Madhur Jaffrey.

This is the only non-vegan cookbook on my list (many of the recipes call for yogurt or other dairy products, for which you could often substitute vegan versions). But if you don’t own an ethnic cookbook, this is the one to start with. I’m always impressed by the authenticity of these meals and the depths of unfamiliar flavors in them; this is the book that helped me fall in love with vegan cooking back when I was still stuck on the idea that cooking wasn’t as much fun when you were restricted in your choice of ingredients.

8. Supermarket Vegan, by Donna Klein.

Great book, great title, kinda dumb tagline: “225 Meat-free, Egg-free, Dairy-free Recipes for Real People in the Real World.” Okay, I got the first part from “vegan,” and exactly who counts as not a real person in the real world? Still, like I said, it’s a really great book — it selectively uses prepared ingredients from the grocery store to save a lot of time when you’re in a pinch, and most of the recipes turn out well. And for the most part, these meals are cheap, even when you’re paying for the prepared ingredients. If you find yourself time-crunched or otherwise intimidated about cooking, Supermarket Vegan is a place to start.

9. __________, by ___________. Ah, trickery. I said there were nine, and I could only think of eight that truly deserved to be on *my* list. But I’m only one guy, with one set of taste buds, so I want to hear what your favorite is! Leave it in a comment and we’ll have massive list of new books to try!

Happy cooking!