First Time Gardener

So about  month ago I decided that I wanted to fix up the little area in the alley behind our apartment into a patio area. I already had my old pretty painted kitchen table out there, and some Ikea shelving that I used to have in my kitchen that was replaced with something better for the space at hand.

A few months ago, I had gotten a promotion at work, which included a new project, and of course our home budget being what it is, going away on an actual vacation does not seem feasible. So I decided that I needed to create a back yard. Something that I could look at through my kitchen back door and admire as well as enjoy outside with dinner or just a cup of tea.

The shelves got a new coat of paint. I decided that I wanted to plant a container garden with because bright colors. Because I work in cosmetics, I am always dressed in black. So everything else in my life has to have happy, bright colors to counteract that dark colors in my 40 hours of my life, weekly work garments.

I have cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, strawberries, a lemon tree, lettuce, succulents, a variety of flowers, and now I am painting some chairs!

I can not tell you how much pleasure I derive from creating both art and life. I look forward to posting some pictures for all of you to see of this new project that is my new love!

Painted DIY Cell Phone Case

  I recently purchased an iPhone 5C, with a package deal from Verizon which included a cellphone case. I had chosen a simple clear one, figuring that at some point I would do something creative with it. Well last night, … Continue reading

Mustard & Maple Glazed Salmon with Power Green Citrus Salad

salmon + salad


Picked up some wild caught salmon from Whole Foods today and whipped this delicious dish together. We loved it so much that it was both lunch and dinner. We ate it twice!

Ingredients for Mustard & Maple Glazed Salmon

1 1/4 lb salmon

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp maple syrup

freshly cracked pepper to taste

1/4 tsp pimenton (or paprika)

Ingredients for Power Green Citrus Salad

Power Greens Salad mix from Trader Joe’s (baby swiss chard, baby spinach, baby kale)

2 oranges (I had 1 sanguine, and 1 navel) cut into segments

1/4 cup pistachios

juice of 1 orange

drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

drizzle of cooked grape must vinegar

Directions for Salmon:

Preheat oven 400 F.  Place salmon in a baking pan that has been lightly drizzled with oil. Mix the ingredients for the glaze (mustard, maple syrup, pepper, pimenton) and brush them onto the salmon.  Bake in oven for 30 minutes.

Directions for Power Green Citrus Salad:

I love the Power Greens salad blend from Trader Joes’s. Earth Bound make the same type. You can use it in so many ways.  I have used it in smoothies, salads, steamed with olive oil & lemon, in omelets. It is very hearty and versatile. It has a blend of baby swiss chard, baby spinach, and baby kale, so it is jam packed with goodness!

Empty salad bag into a bowl. Segment the two oranges. I learned to do this from watching tutorials on YouTube.

Add the pistachios.

In a separate bowl, blend the orange juice, olive oil and cooked grape must vinegar.

What is cooked grape must? It is a syrup further cooked down than balsamic vinegar, slightly sweet and tart at the same time.  Sort of a cross between a balsamic vinegar and a wine jelly. I found a bottle of the Lambrusco  grape variety on a Williams-Sonoma clearance table (a place where I often find the most interesting food products).


Serves 4 people.

*You will notice that I have omitted the salt. If you wish to add salt, then please do so. We did not miss it however in this dish.


Dutch Oven No Knead Bread

I grew up in Corona, New York in Queens where I had access to some of the best Italian bread available! So my tastebuds were spoiled! I wanted to recreate it, but with my schedule, I don’t have the time to dedicate to it.

… And then I was given a dutch oven as a gift last Christmas by one of my wonderful friends who knows how much I love to cook! The first recipe that I found was for no knead dutch oven bread, and it looked so very much like what both my eyes and tastebuds were used to!

The dutch oven simulates the moisture and steam that is used to make stone oven breads like the ones we ate from the Italian markets. In those ovens, there is usually a pan of water placed with the dough so that it is creates this gorgeous, bubbly crust. This is achieved in a dutch oven because it is baked enclosed, and the moisture drops from the lid onto the the bread being baked, forming the most amazing crust! Now one of my favorite sounds in the world is the sound of crackling that my bread makes as it cools. 🙂

Here is the recipe.

3 cups of break flour (or all purpose flour)

1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups of warm water

In a large bowl, blend the dry ingredients with a whisk so that they are more evenly distributed. (You can even add any other dry ingredients to spice it up and make it all fancy! I love to add fragrant Greek oregano & Kalamata Olives or walnuts, raisins, cinnamon for a sweet bread). Then add the warm water and mix together with a wooden spoon. I cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and leave out on the counter for 12-18 hours. The dough will be wet and bubbly. Place your dutch oven (with lid on) into a cool oven and set the oven for 425F. (You will find that most recipes say 450F, however the handle of my dutch is heatproof up to 428F, so I have had to adjust to a lower heat, but longer cook time)

While it is heating up, I take out a wooden cutting board and flour it and using a plastic spatula or wooden spoon, scrape it out onto the floured board.  Sprinkle flour onto the dough and with floured hands, you can shape it. I like to shape it long because it is easier for my to slice it for sandwiches.  Cover it and allow it to rise some more while the oven is warming up for about 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes at 425F, take dutch oven out of the hot oven, uncover, and place the dough in it. Cover and place in oven for 45 minutes. At 45 minutes, it should be a pretty golden color and when you tap on it, it should sound hollow. At this point, allow it to cook longer and achieve a darker crust for 20 minutes or so.

Remove form oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy it any which way you like!!!

DIY Cellphone Case


A woman’s cell phone case should offer beauty, protection, and a peak into her personal style. Those things are easy to find if you have an iPhone! I have a Droid, and while I love my phone and all of it’s functions, however there are no fabulous cases on the market for it!

So, what’s a girl to do??? Find a basic one and make it fabulous!

You can do anything from gluing rhinestones and broken jewelry with E6000 glue (best for this type of job) to using ModPodge and layering fabric or paper on it to create a backdrop for the rest of your design. And if it is made by you, then it will surely be beautiful and unique!


Mod Podge (apply this with a a foam paint brush)

E6000 glue (apply this with a popsicle stick, or a wooden skewer)

craft tweezers ( so that you can easily pick up small objects)

broken jewelry, rhinestones, a pendant, paper, fabric (or anything else under the sun that you want to use)

your creativity!



A few years back, I had stumbled upon a new discovery to me called gravlax. Having been a fan of lox my whole life, particularly as a New Yorker, where bagels and lox are a breakfast staple, I was intrigued to know more!

Gravlax is a Scandinavian dish that was made by fishermen during the Middle Ages who salted and fermented salmon by burying it in the sand. Just the fact that the basic recipe for this salmon dish goes back centuries is intriguing on its own! Gravlax actually means buried salmon.  Since I do not have a sand pit, I buried it deep in my refrigerator!

I picked up a large piece of wild salmon from the market. At the time I had not realized that it was not deboned, so I had to figure out how to do that. The whole time all that I could think of was the fact that every summer when my father went fishing on Long Island Sound, and would come home with fresh fish, I would turn my nose up at it and very rarely, unless in the mood, or unless I was not given much of a choice as a kid, I would eat it. Now, what I would not give for that freshly caught fish on my table today!

So I sliced my salmon in half and deboned it.  I prepared my mixture of sea salt, sugar, and pepper, and patted it onto both flesh exposed sides of the salmon. I grated some lemon peel so that the essential oils of the peel would flavor my fish. I placed the fresh dill and chives on one salmon fillet, and sandwiched it with the other fillet. At this point you must tightly wrap it is plastic wrap many times over, place it in a container and place a second heavy container with a weight on it, like cans or something. (I used two heavy baking dishes and weighted them down with cans of beans.)  I placed it in the back of the refrigerator for five day, flipping it over once a day.

When it is ready to be unwrapped, you must rinse it well from the brine and slice it.

Serve it on small pieces of toast with cream cheese, or over boiled greens. Anyway you desire!

Today, I served it over wild arugula, simply drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice. It was divine!


1 cup sea salt

1 cup sugar

2 tbsp fresh pepper

grated lemon zest of a whole lemon

bunch of dill

bunch of chives

Kitchen Table Redo – DIY

I have always love color! When we moved into our current apartment, I had decided that I wanted to accent it with beautiful, bold bright colors, so that it would inspire creativity, and of course lots of smiles. I wanted something unique that no one else would have, or would even be selling.

Now, my kitchen is small, so there really isn’t enough room for a large table.  I found a 30 inch Ikea kitchen table for $20 that was all banged up and full of stains. Truly, without a table cloth, it was definitely sore to look at. Since I was on a tight budget, and needed new kitchen furniture, I splurged on the chairs that i fell in love with at Pier 1 Imports, and saved money on the table by repainting this one!

I love to upcycle what someone else might recycle.

I sanded down the unfinished, stained wood, and wiped it clean. Painted a coat of white primer.  Then three coats of Carribean Blue by Behr, acrylic wall paint. (For small projects, it is cheaper to use the 2 oz. paint samples that they sell at Home Depot). I had ordered a Damask stencil from Amazon, and using a roller, imprinted the design, and when it had dried for 24 hours, I sprayed on a sealant. I used 5 coats, lightly sanding between each dry coat, so that the new coat would stick.  The sealant protects it from water marks, and chipping, and allows you to clean the table.

We love eating here every day!

Painted Garlic Keeper

I wanted to find a colorful, beautifully painted garlic keeper, but was on a tight budget. My taste is apparently pretty pricey! I found that Sur La Table sells $10 clay garlic keepers with a cork top. So I purchased one of those and painted it myself!

I love Martha Stewart’s craft paints because they can be used on any surface. I usually use them for my crafts.

DIY Lipstick Palette


I am the kind of girl who switches lipstick shades when they wear off. However, I am not the kind of girl who wants to carry around her lipstick collection. Unfortunately, not all premade lipstick palettes have colors that you love, so why not make your own. The great thing is that you can even mix two lipsticks while melting and make a color unique to you!

All you need:




empty palette

palette tins