Nursery Shelf with Closet Rod

As I had mentioned before, Norah’s nursery doesn’t have a closet but, if she is her mother’s daughter, she will need one. I decided to build her a shelf that I found in Ana White’s new book, The Handbuilt Home . In the book this is actually an entryway shelf with coat hooks. Instead of the hooks I decided to install a closet rod. Who knows? Someday I may decide to remove the closet rod and turn it into an entryway shelf after its no longer needed for a “closet”!

Here is the shelf after I finished building it.


We decided to paint it pink to add some color to her room but I felt like it needed something to break up the oppressive amount of pinkness. I decided to paint the ends white …


Then I applied some photo stickers of daisies I got from Michaels .


I used a kitchen scraper on each flower to make sure each edge was pressed tight so there would be no bleeding of the paint.


After two coats I peeled the stickers off before the paint had fully dried and ….it worked pretty well!

All I had left to do was put a coat of polyurethane all over and three coats on the closet rod since it would be getting the most wear and tear. Here we have the finished project!

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Applebutter Pie and Cheesy Biscuit Bombs

I work at Olde Towne Medical Center in Williamsburg, Va. I have been there almost 5 years now. Erica was hired shortly after I started as my patient care representative. We worked together for many years and made it through many fun and challenging situations. Sadly for us at Olde Towne she decided to move to North Carolina. I am hopeful that this move will be a blessing for her and her family though it is hard to say goodbye… Food always eases the pain of goodbyes a little though. I made some cheesy biscuit bombs and an applebutter pie. Hopefully North Carolina will treat her as well.

These biscuits were real easy and a huge hit.


The only problem I had was that most of the cheese melted out onto the pan which fortunately I had covered with aluminum foil. However the inside was still lined with cheese and was empty and airy inside sort of like a popover. With the herbs and Parmesan cheese it had an amazing taste and you’d never know it was a grands roll from a can. Awesome.

Next was the pie. This was interesting. It was Aunt Margaret’s Applebutter Pie from Ken Haedrich’s book “Pie” I have to admit that I did make one mistake with the ingredients….


Therein the picture is a small bowl of the lemon juice I squeezed out of one lemon. I was supposed to only put in one tablespoon of lemon juice .. But I got on a roll….. And I just threw it all in…. Probably not much more than a tablespoon but….

The pie tasted great and it was so different. It did taste like apple butter but it also tasted a lot like lemon meringue pie and I’m not sure that’s what it’s supposed to taste like that. But I love lemon meringue pie anyway so it was great for me!

Taste – 3+/5
Time/difficulty – 3/5 (prebaked crust)
Appearance – 3/5

I may make this one next year when I get my hands on some good apple butter again to see what it’s supposed to taste like!

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Pear Pie with Walnut Crust and Streusel Topping, PIE. p 259

Streusel-Topped Pear Pie with Walnut Crust, Pie p. 253

This is my first pear pie. I already made two apple pies this fall and I decided that I wanted something for Thanksgiving that felt like apple pie and sort of met that warm comfort food qualification without the apples. I think that this pie fits that bill perfectly! To be honest as much as I love pie crust and double crusts, it’s hard to resist anything with a streusel topping. I think that streusel alone qualifies as dessert. Ice cream … topped with some streusel? Streusel topped with ice-cream? I’m in.

This pie also has another element that is a little different than the norm … walnut crust. In the book this is the “Nutty Pie Pastry” on page 42 using only walnuts. Basically the walnuts are ground down to flour using the blender.

The walnuts are ground with the sugar, the flour and salt are blended in, and then the fats are added as usual and then enough water for the dough to come together. This is then formed into discs and refrigerated for about 45 minutes to an hour. The extra disc can be frozen for up to 2 months or you can do what I did and just snarf down 1/4 of it cause it tastes so good raw.

The crust is placed into the pie plate and formed with an upstanding ridge and then placed into the freezer while the rest of the pie is made.


The oven is preheated to 400 degrees F.

To the peeled, cored and sliced pears add a mixture of sugar and cornstarch and stir then stir in the rest of the ingredients. Pour this filling into the chilled pie crust and bake in the center rack of the oven for 35 minutes. While this is baking you can make the streusel topping.

Combine flour, sugar and salt in the food processor. Add butter to the top and pulse until it looks like crumbs. Add milk and pulse again. This should all then be dumped into a large bowl where you can rub the mixture with your hands/fingers to make large crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to use.


When the pie comes out of the oven you reduce the temperature to 375 degrees. If the top of the pie is very soupy Ken Haedrich advises adding some quick-cooking rolled oats in the soggy parts to absorb the extra moisture (takes about 5 minutes) so the streusel can stay crisp and not get soggy. Clever idea! Press the streusel down on top of the pie.


Return the streusel topped pie to the oven the reverse of the way it came out so it cooks evenly. Bake until the edges are bubbly and thick which should take about 30 – 35 minutes. It’s a good idea to put a pan under the pie to catch any juices that bubble over. Move to a wire rack and let cool.


This pie I get to eat! This pie was mind blasting. This is my current favorite pie. My wife said that this was the best pie I’ve ever made and I have to agree. No part of this pie is “filler”. The crust is nutty and full of flavor. The topping is streusel, so crunchy, so buttery… forget about it. The inside was what was most surprising. Reminiscent of apple pie but with its own flavors and even textures. I love this pie. It takes a little longer as you have 3 parts that each take a little while. Spend the extra time. Life’s too short to waste it not making great pies.


Difficulty/Time – 2/5
Appearance – 5/5
Taste – 5/5

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Carmelized Onion and Herb Stuffing

A few thanksgivings ago my Mom made the best stuffing I ever had. (or is it dressing? Are they the same? Isn’t mayonnaise also dressing?…anyway). All she remembers is that it took forever to carmelize the onions….all I remembered was how good it was! This year I volunteered us to make the stuffing for Thanksgiving at her parents house and we made the stuffing to end all stuffings! This recipe was initially in Real Simple magazine.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish and foil
1 large loaf Italian bread (about 1 pound), cut into 3⁄4-inch pieces (about 16 cups)
6 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves


Prepare all your ingredients.



6 onions take a while to chop!


Heat oven to 375° F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Divide the bread between 2 rimmed baking sheets and bake until dry and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until deep golden brown, about 2 hours. The actual recipe says this takes 1 hour! Ha! Preposterous! No wonder this is what Mom remembers about this recipe! It took all of 2 hours if not more…. But it was absolutely worth it. Add the wine and cook until evaporated, 2 to 4 minutes;

20121122-231644.jpg transfer to a large bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.
Add the bread, broth, eggs, chives, thyme, and ½ teaspoon salt to the onions and toss to combine.

20121122-231747.jpg Transfer to the prepared baking dish.

20121122-232616.jpg Cover with buttered foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until browned, 20 to 30 minutes more.


I have decided my favorite smell is butter and onions….. Where is that candle? Stuffing was awesome! Looks, smells and tastes amazing! Hope to make this again next year!

Recipe by Kristen Evans Dittami , November, 2010

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Farmhouse Bed

Ana White King Size Bed Build

At least a year ago I decided that the next woodworking project I wanted to work on was a new bed for Nicki and I. I had no idea how long this would end up taking. I got my plans from a combination of bed plans on the Ana White site but I made some modifications to fit my needs.

The great thing was that it was all made of white pine which is super cheap. I did have to buy some hardware but that was because I wanted to make the bed easy to take apart and this is not necessary. In addition this build became so much more involved because we wanted to stain it instead of paint it….. This led to a LOT of sanding…. A LOT! Then this was followed by a LOT of staining and many coats of polyurethane…. And a LOT of drying time. This was a great project to learn patience.

Here are a few pics from the build…..




Headboard sitting in my “workshop”



Staining Footboard and Headboard


So happy that the sideboards with cleats fit so perfect and flush!


All together now but not yet complete…..


The finished product!

We used a stain from Cabot called Tannery ( 2 coats) and about 2 coats of brushed on polyurethane. The finished project probably cost about 250 dollars which is about 1/3 the price of a similar king size bed of a similar style. Great project and not too hard just space and time-consuming!

Thanks to Grandma Ricks for the awesome quilt on the end of the bed which was a wedding gift.

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