Sunday, June 25, 2017

When the Walls Come Tumbling Down!

If you are my Facebook friend then you no doubt know that I moved back to the city…an adorable brick row home in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia.  

I am so happy.

But, I’ve had my share of move-related hiccups with this house, including unknown knob and tube wiring in the entire front half of the house.  Regardless, I am working through the issues to make the house my own.

That could go on for years.

The one thing I absolutely, positively could not live with was the cattle-chute of a stair case, shrouded in seriously awful, 20-year old rugs.  In fact, the entire upstairs was covered in those rugs, so my girls, their beaus and I spent a weekend ripping them up.  

That was fun. 

Underneath was sub-flooring in pretty rough shape and refinishing was not an option so I installed a budget-friendly, engineered hardwood flooring in a beautiful, wide plank oak. It looks so much better! 

Back to the is a before photo.  

Not very inviting, right?  And, unfortunately, it was the first thing you saw as you walked in the front door.

Opening it up was not as easy as simply demolishing the wall and installing a newel post, railing and some spindles.  First, there was the knob and tube that had to be replaced along with relocating the thermostat and various switches.  Then, we had to install a header to reinforce some of the load even though most of the load spans from fire wall to fire wall.  Oh, and let’s not forget the glued-down flooring at the base of the stairs.  Thankfully, there was only a 12” square section to rip up and replace.

Once my contractor identified and planned for the foibles, the wall came tumbling down! Even in the state you see, the difference was immediately, 100% better, entirely transforming the first floor….more light, open and airy.  

I chose simple staircase accouterments because the 100 year-old post and railing at the top of the stairs are a bit fancy and not easily or affordably replicated.   I decided to paint the newel cap, railing and the runs, black and the post, spindles and risers white, totally pilfering an idea from Pinterest!

In retrospect, and another idea I saw on Pinterest, I could have installed a bunch of mismatched posts, but that’s the quirky me talking.  The sensible me knows that others would think that was crazy.

The old thermostat was not worthy of my fancy-schmancy new wiring so the electrician installed a Nest system.  This system is awesome and allows the homeowner to control heating and cooling from their cell phone…how cool!  Also, the devil is in the details so I installed a custom switch plate purchased from and lovely yellow and gray wallpaper from Cary Lind Designs on the stair wall gives the room a subtle but charming pop of color.  

I am so happy with the results. It's all coming together, slowly but surely! 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Pumpkin Oat Dog Biscuits

So, my little Faye was pretty sick recently.  As uncomfortable as it must have been for her to wait for me to get up each morning so she could "go" outside, she did, sitting patiently by the door. She is such a good dog.

The problem is basically her ultra sensitive system - common in Bostons - acting up whenever something slightly unusual is introduced.  The vet suggested an all natural food regime so we can finally try to hone in on what triggers her discomfort and itchiness.  

Wanting to help her as much as possible, I decided to make all-natural dog biscuits. Researching the subject, I found that pumpkin is good for for diarrhea.  

Natural pumpkin (not filling) is loaded with fiber and beta-carotene, which her little body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A, in doggie appropriate amounts, promotes healthy skin and coat and supports liver, lung, and kidney health for dogs.  Wonderful!  Maybe she will get some relief from the itching too!

I searched "pumpkin dog biscuits" and found this little jewel of a recipe and after two days of not eating, Faye gobbled her first homemade treat right up!  And who could blame her... just look at the cross section of oat and pumpkin goodness!  Hell, I wanted one with a cup of tea!
I'm relieved and happy to say Faye is feeling better!  She is back to good digestive health and the itching seems to have subsided.

Now time to break the table-begging habit.  

Pumpkin Oat Dog Biscuits
Modified recipe found at


3 cups whole wheat flour (or whole-grain flour of choice)
1 cup whole oats (not quick oats!)
1½ cups pumpkin puree 
A nice squeeze of honey (I didn't measure)
1/4 cup of natural, unsweetened apple sauce
2-4 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 1 or 2 baking sheets (depends on size of biscuit cut) with parchment paper. Mix all ingredients, except water. Add only enough water to make a workable and rollable dough. Roll out to ⅛-1/4-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes - I made traditional biscuits!  Bake for 30-35 minutes. Turn off oven and let biscuits sit in oven until oven is completely cool. This is an important step because it helps to dehydrate the biscuits for better storage.  Also, your dog will have that oh-so-satisfying chomp...kind of like a hard cookie vs. a soft cookie. 

This recipe makes about 3 dozen “medium” (about 3-inch long) dog biscuits.