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(pictured: alex de leon, with a sumptuous bite of grated carrots and beet salad)

As a proponent of DIY down to the last hair(unless electricity or pipes are involved), I've been cutting my own hair again.


karma payment plan and other goodies

Par for the course, I scored over 30 free oval picture frames in many sizes and colors from Craig's free stuff section. I think I'll paint them many colors pleasing to mine eye, pile these new Penguin clothbound editions underneath them and call it a day.

(8 limited titles available here and here)


if you are so inclined

. . . if you are so inclined to pin all your hopes and dreams on a fabulous new living space but disinclined to think of all the work and organization required for that transfer to shangri-la, please keep in mind this friendly tip:

utilize Craig's free stuff section; do the furniture-and-other-craps deprived people of the world some good.

Mr. Dave and I put out an ugly fake-leather padded computer chair(you know the ones) and it was gone in 40 minutes, y'all.

Credenza Craving

While I wish I could afford this

(Florence Knoll Credenza)

. . the wonders of Chicago Craiglist have yielded these treasures:

Imagine this solid wood lovely without the tv and other objects piled on top of it.

This midcentury marvelous is out of my sad little price range, but someone should adopt it!

This one looks like a Heywood Wakefield and a nice one at that.


Urbanly Growing Things

One of my biggest excitements in moving to my new apartment is the abundance of natural light and a big deck. Previously I have bemoaned my inability to grow ANYTHING inside, given the scant 4 windows(all North facing) in our courtyard apartment. In a week and a half (ee!) this will be history and I can get to growing.

My first victim will be a gorgeous fig tree spotted at Gethsemane Garden Center the other day. She was sitting pretty, begging me to take her fruits and eat them with cheese and chocolate through the Fall. I said 'sure". For those similarly inclined, the internet recommends the Ficus carica, or 'Chicago Hardy' fig tree, thus named for its ability to withstand our zone 6 winters after having been brought here via the mediterranean. They can be found here.

Herb-wise, my research has turned up 9 hardy herbs that will grow(and flourish)inside despite the Artic clime of a forthcoming Chicago winter:

Bay: A perennial that grows well in containers all year long. Place the pot in an east, or west, facing window, but be sure it does not get crowded—bay needs air circulation to remain healthy.Bay A slow grower. Use the Laurus nobilis strain; it's best for cooking with. Bay tree can become infested with scale if it gets too dry—use dishwashing detergent to wash off the leaves, then rinse them thoroughly.

Chervil: Start chervil seeds in late summer. It grows well in low light but needs 65 to 70 degrees F temperatures to thrive.

Chives: The Grolau variety was bred for growing indoors. It needs a lot of sun, so place it in your brightest window.

Parsley: You can start this herb from seeds or dig up a clump from your garden at the end of the season. Parsley likes full sun, but will grow slowly in an east, or west, facing window.

Tarragon: A dormant period in late fall or early winter is essential for tarragon to grow indoors. Pot up a mature plant from your outdoor garden and leave it outside until the leaves die back. Bring it to your coolest indoor spot for a few days, then place it in a south-facing window for as much sun as possible. Feed well with an organic liquid fertilizer.

Kaffir Lime Tree: Kaffir lime leaves are often used in Thai cooking. Be sure you give this plant special citrus food.

Lemongrass: A good way to cheat, because it requires no soil; you can just use a stalk you get at the market. Make sure it has a good amount of stem and the bottom is intact; trim the top and put it in a container with a couple of inches of water. Connie Campbell, a New Hampshire–based master gardener, says, “It will send out roots and new sprouts and many, many new stalks from the bottom, and you can just cut those off and use them.”

Mint: Very invasive, so it needs its own pot. Peppermint is great for teas, and you’ll only need a little of it. You usually need a lot of spearmint for recipes, so it may not be worth growing in a container.

Vietnamese Coriander: Almost identical in taste to cilantro.

And 5 More, For Advanced Indoor Cultivators:

Oregano: Your best bet is to start with a tip cutting from an outdoor plant. Place the pot in a south-facing window.

Sage: Take a tip cutting from an outdoor plant to start an indoor sage. It tolerates dry, indoor air well, but it needs the strong sun it will get in a south-facing window.

Rosemary: Start with a cutting of rosemary, and keep it in moist soil-less mix until it roots. It grows best in a south-facing window.

Thyme: You can start thyme indoors either by rooting a soft tip cutting or by digging up and potting an outdoor plant. Thyme likes full sun but will grow in an east, or west, facing window.

Basil: It’s a favorite to cook with, but it’s a tough one to grow. Your best shot is to grow it during the warm, bright summer months. Try the Spicy Globe or African Blue variety, the latter of which is more like Thai basil and does well indoors.

(via chow and organic gardening.)

I have a track record as a serial plant-killer, so I plan to start small with parsley, mint, vietnamese coriander, and maybe some rosemary if I'm feeling extra-bold.

But what to plant them in?

I like the idea of using large tea and sundry old tins(drilling a hole in the bottom of course), via Allison's Australian cottage via A TH.

I love the idea of these little pots from Three Potato Four

but the price outstrips their functionality (they're so tiny, I would have to re-pot them in 2 months!). Nor would I drill holes in my Le Creuset mini-cocottes--sacrilege!
I think I'll settle on taking the drill to an old, chipped, thrift store enameled fondue pot I already have.
( via cocotte-planter madness right here.)

What do you use for planters? And what do you grow?


& for the VEGANS

. . Feltidermy!

via girl savage



Perfect for pretending to be in summer camp in the modern convenience afforded by our living room! Who wants more S'mores?

Fufill your fantasies at daytrip society.



(Donna Wilson's pouf chair, available here.)

A beanbag chair for grownups, hand knitted out of wool. Afternoon morrocan teatime approved.


Going West . . .

I'm in Montana, readers. I don't know if it's the elevation or WHAT, but I'm a woman possessed by all things pine-paneled and festooned with dead animal remnants.

via anna moller

an antler lighting solution, from West Elm, now extinct. but worry not.

Bought at the Museum of the Rockies gift shop along with faux obsidian arrowheads. For all your soap-disguised-as-geodes needs look no further.

Pendleton wool blankets and rugs like these.

. . . Methinks I'm a few bison hides and dream catchers short of a New Age store?


COLOR Chalkboard Paint

I've never considered chalkboard paint for use in homes where solely adults live, but this . . . this could change everything.

(via raina kattelson)

Because it looks like a matte paint, I can see this in my new apartment's kitchen, perhaps a vertical panel above the stove to liven things up.
The line has 24 colors with amazing names like "mystic wisdom" and "almost fluo" which can be bought straight from the Hudson Paint website here.

It comes in my favorite color, a sunny marigold! So cheery.

What do we think?


Bread of Wonders, Bread of Delight

For my inaugural post on Dazzling Dear ::at home::, it seemed appropriate to focus on an item so basic that it is all but called the O.G. of human food-stuffs: bread!
Bread is the humblest of foods but one that most people don't seem to make on their own; instead, our bread comes mushy and pre-sliced, loaded with preservatives and weird sugars in plastic bags from the supermarket. Crusty, sculptural baguettes and brioches cost more money and spoil faster, making them unsuitable for most people as a daily bread, instead something to be enjoyed on a special occasion. The luxuriousness of this 'artisan' bread is immediately perceptible; it has an unclassifiably wonderful scent, a contrast in textures that delights the eye and mouth and even the ears when the bread is broken apart. Maybe the beauty and the specialized nature of this bread are reasons no one attempts to bake it at home; it seems an intimidating thing to master, like water-skiing.

Enter Mark Bittman, the baking hero of the proletariat home cooks. In 2006, for a NY Times column, he rather casually revealed in a brief youtube video the magic baking juju that we'd all been missing, adapted from the undoubtedly charitable Jim Lahey of Sullivan St. Bakery . He called it 'No-Knead Bread' and the internet community wept a million tears in passionate gratitude and baked that many and more loafs of the wonder-bread.

The bread he revealed yielded the maximum of beauty and deliciousness with the minimum amount of effort invested; this is my favorite combination in life. I bake this bread once a week for about $1.50 a pop. Unlike most baked goods, it is extremely forgiving, making it easy to customize and embellish to one's heart's content.

The recipe calls for only one 'special' tool, a dutch oven, but even this can be substituted for any sort of pot with a heat-resistant lid(if all else fails, foil works).

Note: confusion reigns re. what type of yeast to use. I use regular "active dry" because it is easier to find and works fine. If you want to use instant-rise (otherwise known as bread machine yeast), it will change the volume to a quarter (1/4) teaspoon. Simply a question of maths; instant yeast is more 'active' (I know, confusing, since 'Active Dry' yeast is less active), so use less of it.

(modified from the original Mark Bittman recipe for more-near-instant gratification)

makes 1 loaf

3 cups bread flour (All-purpose may be substituted.Bread flour is better.)
1 3/4 cup water
3/4 teaspoon regular yeast(not instant)
3 teaspoons vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. This can be done in the morning to have bread ready by dinnertime. Or, you know, do it in the middle of the night, my favorite time for bread making, fresh bread in the morning! The dough will be very wet and sticky, Mark Bittman calls it "shaggy." Cover with a towel or some plastic wrap and leave it in the warmest spot in your kitchen. I put it in the (turned off) oven with the oven light on where it gets nice and warm and there is no chance of knocking it over. It should get a 6 to 8-hour rise.

After the initial 6-8 hour rise, uncover your bowl and marvel at the proportions of your dough, which should resemble that gooey aerrated fungus creeper that trails across wet mulch in the summer. Don't know what I mean? Nevermind! It should be doubled in size, in other words, and a bit hole-y(that's your bread's crumb developing). Flour up your hands and shape the dough roughly into a ball, sprinkling with flour ever so often so it doesn't adhere to your hands. Fold the dough twice, like an envelope, and put the folds face down back into your bowl; cover with towel or plastic wrap again. Let proof (ie, sit) for about an hour.

Heat the oven to 450°F. Put a dutch oven in the oven to heat. After your dough's proofed for an hour and gotten another rise, dump your dough into the heated dutch oven. Before I dump, I brush it lightly with olive oil and re-flour lightly, but it's not necessary. You may have some sticking and unwillingness to exit the bowl from your dough, this is normal because it is still quite wet and sticky; pry, roll, or flour your hands and scoop it out. Don't worry if it looks a mess once it's in the dutch oven. Cover the pot with a lid and bake for 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake for another 15 minutes to let it brown. Let cool, and notice how the bread "sings" as it cools and the crust crackles and shatters.

More links:

Original Mark Bittman Column

The Kitchn Adapted Recipe



whatever forever.