Friday, November 29, 2013

Painting Ceramics

In the frenzy before my guests arrived for our Chanukah party I tried getting a few things done around the house. I really needed more tables in the living room for people to put down a drink or a small plate and I found an old ceramic stool in our basement that was the perfect size.
But, the original brown color just wasn't working in my gray and taupe living room.
It looked just fine when it was used on the sun porch in our last house.

So, what's the solution when you need a quick (and cheap) color change? Paint, of course. Here's something you may not know: you can paint ceramics! I've painted lamp bases, vases and's easy if you use the right paint and primer. This was a quick project which was great since I didn't have much time with all the other holiday preparations.

The first step was primer.  Be sure you use the BIN primer that's shellac based--great for shiny surfaces like this one.
I did clean it very well with some rubbing alcohol remembering to get inside the holes where dust collects.
Spray and let dry for an hour or so.
Spray several light coats of the new color until surface is completely covered.
That's it!
The gold looks great with all the grays in the living room and I feel like I have a new piece of furniture for the cost of two cans of spray paint!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

12 Beautiful Chanukah Table Settings

I'll be hosting a sit down Chanukah dinner this week, complete with the traditional brisket, latkes and donuts. Of course I want the food to taste delicious but here's a little secret: (don't tell my guests) I spend more time on the table setting than I do the food! 

Maybe these beautiful table settings will inspire you to host a Chanukah dinner party if you're not already planning one.
Left: Pottery Barn, Top right: designmegillah, Martha Stewart, HGTV

Top left: Martha Stewart, designmegillah for Houzz, designmegillah on Facebook. Right: William Sonoma

Left: designmegillah for Houzz, Top right: BHG, The Fashionable Hostess, Joy of Kosher

Are you inspired for Chanukah?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Meet Einat Admony!

Einat Admony is a 21st-century balaboosta (Yiddish for “perfect housewife”). She’s a mother and wife, but also a chef busy running three bustling New York City restaurants. Her debut cookbook features 140 of the recipes she cooks for the people she loves—her children, her husband, and the many friends she regularly entertains. Here, Einat’s mixed Israeli heritage (Yemenite, Persian) seamlessly blends with the fresh, sophisticated Mediterranean palate she honed while working in some of New York City’s most beloved kitchens.

Q: What is a balaboosta, and why did you choose that name for your restaurant and your book?

A: A balaboosta is, traditionally, a perfect housewife who runs a happy home, but today it’s trickier. Most women work outside their homes, managing careers and kids, so it’s hard to live up to the traditional definition. People are balaboostas in different ways now. I have a cousin who organizes everyone; she plans kids’ events, karaoke nights, everything—that’s her way of being a balaboosta. For me, it’s about food.

I chose the name because it’s warm and reflects who I am. The people I choose to work with are genuine, kind. I created a restaurant that looks like my home because I want my customers to feel at home, like they’re in their own living rooms, but with much better food. And now they have my recipes so they can make the food, too.

Q: Do you consider yourself a balaboosta?

A: Yes, a different kind of balaboosta than my mom was. A modern balaboosta who figures out how to build a successful career without neglecting my husband and my family. I love what I do—totally apart from money considerations—and of course I love my family, too.

Q: What sets Balaboosta apart from other cookbooks?

A: Usually with cookbooks you don’t want to read them, you want to look at the pictures. With my cookbook, you want to read the stories. I love the introduction and the Fat Like Me chapter, but Just the Two of Us is my favorite part. My hope is that the stories draw you in and make you want to cook the recipes even more. And the recipes are fun and friendly—nothing pretentious.

Q: What recipe in the book do you cook for your family most often?

A: So many. The Chicken Tagine (p. 29) comes to mind first. And I make Chicken Littles (p. 53) a lot for my kids. They’re my version of chicken nuggets—or schnitzel, as they’re called in Israel. I use a combination of cornflakes and panko because the cornflakes give extra crunch and the panko holds better than bread crumbs.

Q: What’s your comfort food?

A: My mom’s Pomegranate Chicken (p. 213). Definitely. And rice.

Q: Do your kids like to cook yet?

A: They love it. We make Challah (p. 24) together every Friday. They do a lot of recipes with me: Zucchini Patties (p. 78) and meatballs (Turkey Balls with Okra, p. 100) are favorites.

Q: What spices can’t you live without?

A: I need all of them! Cumin and paprika, if I really had to choose. 
Q: What flavors remind you of your childhood—and are there any flavors that define New York for you?

A: Persian lime and fenugreek remind me of childhood. For New York, I’d have to say the orecchiette pasta with white beans, sausage, and broccoli rabe at Olea, a restaurant across the street from our apartment in Fort Greene. My kids have been going there forever. When my son, Liam, was a baby, he would fall asleep, and the waiters would hold him, carry him around the restaurant on their shoulders as they were serving.

Q: How are you running three successful restaurants while raising two young children?

A: I have great chefs I can trust, and that allows me to spend time at home. And I have rules to help me keep things in perspective. I will never go to work on a Friday night because I cook for my family and friends on that night. My husband, Stefan, and I go out together every two weeks. Sunday nights, we go out as a family. Stefan and I almost never leave the kids with a babysitter; except for our date nights, we try to make sure at least one of us is home with them. On nights when I am cooking at Balaboosta, my kids come and eat with me at the restaurant. And they are very involved with my business – Liam [who is 7] is always asking questions about what’s happening at Balaboosta and Taim.

Q: What recipe should I rush home and make tonight?

A: The Casablanca Catch (p. 23). It’s full of flavor and not too hard. 
Excerpted from Balaboosta by Einat Admony (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2013. Photographs by Quentin Bacon. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Straw Toppers for Chanukah

These old-fashioned, colorful striped straws are everywhere lately and are super fun for parties, but add a dreidel, candle or star and they are even more festive and perfect for Chanukah!
The shapes are cut from colored paper and taped onto the straw--so simple I didn't bother to do a step-by-step.
The children coming to our Chanukah dinner next week will love plastic cups of course!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Etsy: The Best Chanukah Cards

Since Chanukah is not until next week and it lasts for eight days there's still time to order and send out cards. Here are my picks for the best cards on Etsy...I did not include photo cards since that seems to be in a separate category.
1. Subway Map Menorah Card
2. Lights of Chanukah
3. Letterpress Menorah
4. Happy Chanukah Card
5. Eight are the Days
6. Hanukkah!
7. Celebrate Miracles

Monday, November 18, 2013

It's a Wrap

This year, instead of buying paper for our Chanukah gifts, I made wrapping paper--it was easy using spray paint I already had on hand and solid paper.
Here's how each one was created:

Star Pattern
My inspiration for this paper were quilt patterns with a six pointed star. The stars become the negative space in white.

The first step was to find clip art online. I printed out several sheets of stars and cut each one out with sharp scissors. After dabbing the back with a touch of glue stick, the stars were placed on the white wrapping paper in the pattern.
A light mist of gold was sprayed onto the paper--after it dried I carefully peeled away the stars.

Dreidel Wrap
For this paper I printed out dreidels and placed them on the paper with round dot stickers to form a pattern.
I used blue spray paint and peeled off the stickers after it dried.

Stars + Gold Gelt
 Here I used gold metallic paper and white paint. I used the same technique as the others...stick down the pattern, spray and gently peel off stickers.

I couldn't seem to find any "ready made" Chanukah stickers but if you can, it saves the step of cutting each image out. It's fun to come up with different patterns and play around with different colors--the possibilities are endless!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Take a Stand

Dress up your Chanukah table or dessert buffet with a tiered display of sweets perfect for the holiday, because everything looks better elevated on a stand!
Don't own a tiered cake or cookie stand? No problem--just stack a small plate on a support (candlestick, glass, etc) with a bit of putty and layer over a larger plate or platter. 

Along with Chanukah cookies this one is dressed with boxwood from the garden, chocolate gelt, small gifts and paper stars, just  like the ones I made into a garland only smaller.

Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Chanukah Snowmen

Who says snowmen can't be Jewish? This little guy is all set for Chanukah complete with his kippah and sign.
I made this one myself but I'm bringing the soft fluffy clay up to Massachusetts this week and letting the grandchildren have some fun creating their own snowmen.
After completing your creation, bake it in a 275 degree oven for 15 minutes per 1/4 thickness. Here's what I used to create mine, but feel free to use whatever you find to make your little guy.
The weather here just dipped below 32 degrees so we might be making snowmen with real snow very soon!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Chanukah Terrariums

Sometimes, the Chanukah decorations found in stores can be less than desirable, so making your own can be the solution to beautiful, creative decor.

Last year I found tiny brass menorah place card holders on sale at Pottery Barn. (These are no longer available but I found these mini doll house menorahs). I put one in a small glass urn to create these small terrariums perfect for Chanukah! You can find these kind of glass containers at Marshall's and Michael's.
Each container holds a symbol for Chanukah: a mini menorah, chocolate gelt coins and gold dreydels. 

Here's how it's put together...
From top left:  The place card holder, "snow" from the craft store, battery operated votive, the "candles" are nails turned upside down and glued onto the menorah!

Because it's so early this year Chanukah is more autumn-like than winter-like but these terrariums make it feel like a white Chanukah!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Chanukah Favor Cones

I put these pretty cones together as favors for my guests for our Chanukah party. So simple--patterned paper, a chocolate gelt coin and name tags. They are filled with small gifts appropriate for each guest.
I found my paper in the scrapbook section and cut each sheet into a 10 x 10 inch square.
I used a glue stick and ran it along on edge before rolling the cone. Double stick tape holds the coins and name tags in place. The tags were simply printed on a parchment colored paper and cut into strips.
Our grandchildren will love the stickers, Silly Putty and colorful dreidels.
They'll look so pretty on the Chanukah dinner table!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Monogram Pillow

A few weeks ago I was looking at our Ikea Karlstad sectional in the den and thought it needed a monogram pillow to spice things up a bit. (You may not know this but I was trained as a graphic designer and I still have a love of typography.) True story: a few days later I received an e-mail from Anita over at asking me if I'd like a monogram pillow as a gift to promote her cushion covers and home decor products.  Today it was delivered and it's perfect!

I would never agree to promote any product I didn't love or use myself and this one fits both requirements. It adds the punch I was looking for and the teal color is perfect for the room, picking up the teal tones in the Monty Dash and Albert rug.
All their pillows are made by women from low income households to supplement their income, based on Fair Trade Principles.
 Here are a few other of my favorites...
 The coral design and orange silk pillows would look great in my living room, and the pink name pillow would look so cute on a child's bed. Check out all their products at

Friday, November 1, 2013

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Chanukah

In cyberspace, that is!
With Chanukah only four weeks away, many of my favorite bloggers have been coming up with beautiful solutions for crafts, decor and desserts for the holiday.  Here is a peek of some of my favorites...
1. Tin Can Luminaries
2. Chanukah Dreidel Cookies
3. Chanukah Cupcakes
4. Organic Star of David
5. Chocolate Gelt Name Cards
6. White Star Napkin Ring 
7. Chanukah Gift Wrap
8. Star with Lights
9. Chanukah Donut Pops

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