...because home doesn't happen overnight.

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.”

Congrats to Brenda who likes to shred then freeze her zucchini surplus in 2-cup increments. So clever!

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My dad gave me four 5+ lb. zucchini from his garden last week. They were HUGE. (I’ve shown a 12″ ruler for scale.) We like zucchini and all but, seriously, what does one do with >20 lbs. of it?! I did the only logical thing I could think of. I called my grandma. She has a killer recipe for zucchini pie and it tastes just like apple pie, if not better. In fact, the first time she serves it to you, she tells you it’s apple pie. Only after you scarf it down and go on and on about how good it is does she reveal the secret ingredient – zucchini! Keep reading for the recipe.

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I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOT APPLE PIE! (a.k.a. ZUCCHINI PIE …but don’t tell anyone that part)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

4 c. peeled, deseeded, sliced zucchini (sliced smaller than shown above…that’s just a pretty picture ;) ) *For a softer filling, precook the zucchini. We like ours firm so I didn’t cook the zucchini first.*

2 T. lemon juice

dash of salt

In a large bowl, mix zucchini, lemon juice and salt. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the following ingredients:

1½ c. sugar

1½ t. cinnamon

1½ t. cream of tartar

3 T. flour

dash of nutmeg

Mix well then pour the sugar mixture over the zucchini. Toss to coat. Pour zucchini filling into a 9″ pie crust. (My grandma says she “cheats” and uses the refrigerated Pillsbury pie crusts. So I cheated, too, because if it’s good enough for my grandma, it’s good enough for me. Also, I had TWENTY POUNDS of zucchini to peel and slice. No time for pie crust made from scratch. You will need two crusts – one for the bottom and one for the top.) Dot with butter. Cover with top crust then pinch bottom and top crust edges together. Use a fork to vent the top crust. Or knock yourself out and make an intricate lattice top crust or something equally fancy that totally intimidates me.

Bake at 400°F for 40 minutes or until golden brown. (After 15-20 minutes of bake time, cover the edges of the pie crust with foil and continue baking.) The good news is even if it tastes bad, your house is going to smell amazing. But, don’t worry, it’s going to taste so good.

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That, my friends, is the very first pie I have ever made. And it probably doesn’t even qualify because I used pre-made crusts. Whatever. My family and friends loved it.

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I served it with creamy vanilla ice cream. Obviously, this isn’t a healthy recipe. The only “good” thing in the pie is the zucchini but I’m not sure how good it is once you smother it in sugar.

Anyway.

Maybe you have 20 lbs. of zucchini lying around and don’t know what to do with it? Maybe you wanna trick your loved ones with a little apple zucchini pie? You’re welcome.

I ended up getting 3-4 pie fillings out of each zucchini. That’s 12-16 pies! Luckily, my grandma said I could freeze the filling. (Just be sure to blanch the zucchini before freezing.) I baked two then put the rest in the freezer. If you invite me to your house in the near future, chances are good that I will arrive at your doorstep with a zucchini pie in hand.

gowanus boards

In celebration of this monumental event (my first pie!), Gowanus Furniture Co. is graciously offering up a set of cheese boards. Gowanus Furniture Co. was founded in 2011 by an Eagle Scout who believes that “we can have well-designed, locally-made products that are a good value and will last through successive moves to new homes.” Based in Brooklyn, the company is especially focused on small space living and produces sink-top and stovetop cutting boards to take advantage of unused space. The boards can also be hung on the wall with included hardware. But the boards aren’t just useful. There’s a sense of humor behind certain pieces and morse code monograms are always an option. Personally, I have a fondness for things with a hidden sense of humor…my grandma’s I Can’t Believe It’s Not Apple Pie recipe being one of them.

Feeling lucky? See entry details below.

PRIZE: one president long cheese board + one grilled cheese cutting board ($92 retail value)

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a shipping address (no P.O. boxes please) in the U.S. One entry per email address.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this post proclaiming “HUMOR ME!”

DEADLINE: Enter before Sunday, August 17th at 9:00 p.m. EST. One random winner will be announced Monday, August 18th.

BUT, WAIT!, THERE’S MORE: Use the discount code “housetweaking14″ to score 10% off Gowanus Furniture Co. purchases throughout the month of August.

This post is NOT sponsored. I support quality small businesses and encourage you to do the same. Thanks for reading!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

08.09.14 / Made Me Smile

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Last week I didn’t publish a Made Me Smile post. My grandmother passed away and my heart wasn’t up to the task. So this installment includes two weeks’ worth of smile-worthy links. I hope you find something that inspires you in some way!

*Did you listen to NPR’s TED radio hour, Growing Up, last week? I loved it.

*SHE FOUND HIM.

*Terrible real estate agent photos + hilarious captions = a good way to waste time.

*Be still my organizing, laundry-loving heart.

*My favorite hand soap in bulk refills!

*Such a great mix of old + new in a home with a family history. (The home is also featured in the current family issue of Anthology magazine. So good!)

*A smart and stylish galley kitchen. (Don’t let the initial 30-second ad turn you off. You won’t be disappointed!)

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*Architecture lust.

*I’m usually one of the last people to try new apps and tech-y things but the issuu clip is right up my alley. Clipping and pinning directly from the pages of a magazine? Yesssss.

*Patrick Dempsey’s thoughts on being a caretaker of a home (not just an owner) make him even hotter. Trust me, it’s possible.

*Tips for creating a bright kitchen in a basement apartment.

*A house inspired by Tom and Jerry cartoons. Needless to say, it’s a giant indoor playground – for kids and adults!

*It’s National Book Lovers Day! A few on my wish list: Clutterfree with Kids, Tiny House Living, You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap).

What are you up to this weekend? We’re laying low and gearing up for the start of another school year. Here’s to backpacks, jackets, lunch boxes, books and homework overtaking the mudroom once again!

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Ensemble Architecture

Obligatory preamble rambling: When we were renovating our kitchen, I searched high and low for any information I could find on Ikea kitchens. The results were few and far between. We did end up with an Ikea kitchen (which we love) but I’d like to shed more light on Ikea kitchen renovations from the perspective of other real life homeowners. It’s something I wish we would have had access to when we were considering Ikea for our own kitchen remodel. Plus, it’s fun to see how others use Ikea to suit their personal style and needs in the kitchen. I hope you find these posts helpful and inspiring – whether you ultimately end up with an Ikea kitchen or not. Enjoy!

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Isadora has lived in cities all over the world (i.e., New York, Paris, London, Rome, Sydney and LA to name a few) but one of her biggest adventures has been gutting an old house and turning it into her young family’s dream home. When it came to the 1953 kitchen, Isadora and her husband made gutsy structural changes for a big impact. After receiving disappointing results with cabinet refacing and mid-grade custom cabinetry in two previous homes, Isadora chose Ikea cabinetry for her current kitchen. I asked Isadora several questions about the remodel. Find her answers and the “that can’t be Ikea!” kitchen below.

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Which items in your kitchen hail from Ikea?

When designing our kitchen, I decided fairly early on that I wanted as many elements from Ikea so we could maximize the savings during their 20% off sale. We bought our cabinets, doors, drawer fronts, countertops and drawer organizers from Ikea. I considered getting the appliances there as well but they had discontinued their 36” professional style range. So, I bought my appliances elsewhere.

What made you decide to source these items from Ikea?

In our first house we had our cabinets refaced, which was the cheapest option, but was still not as cheap as you might think. In our last house we did a kitchen remodel and had mid-grade custom cabinetry. After a few years, you could really see the wear and tear. I decided then and there that our next kitchen would be an Ikea kitchen. My thought was I could easily freshen it up by just going down to the store, getting new doors and changing them out ourselves since all of the sizes are standard.

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Who designed your kitchen?

I planned out the kitchen using the Ikea kitchen planner software and spent many evenings working out how to best optimize the space. Going against the advice of our realtor and contractor, I removed the window above the original sink. For the way we live, wall storage took precedence over the window.

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To compensate for the loss of the window, we removed a wall which brought in lots of natural light from adjacent rooms.

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I reviewed the design in-store and made a few changes based on the employees’ knowledge of the cabinets. The one frustration I had was the corner next to the glass front cabinets. There were no good options for an upper corner cabinet. I didn’t want an angled corner; I wanted a square corner. Ultimately, I had to override Ikea’s recommendations and go with a blind corner to get the glass front cabinets and square corner that I wanted.

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Did you assemble and install all Ikea kitchen components yourself? If not, what did you seek help with?

We had a crew of workers at the house already working on every room of the house since the house had been taken down to the studs. We had the crew assemble the cabinets. That being said, if we had only been working on the kitchen, we would have put the cabinets together ourselves. Over the years, we have built countless Ikea units and assembling kitchen cabinets is manageable. I’ve found that the key is to take your time with the instructions the first time around, then subsequent cabinets are a breeze. Installing countertops is another matter and under no circumstance would we have attempted something like that on our own.

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How did you customize your Ikea kitchen to suit your needs and preferred aesthetic?

The profile of the door we chose is a little more traditional than I would have normally chosen for a mid-century house. But I really wanted an all wood door and this door was the only one that came in all wood at the time of purchase. Having had experiences with foil finishes buckling and veneers peeling, I knew this was something I wanted to avoid in such a high traffic area. An all wood door resolved those issues for me.

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To personalize the design, I chose the bridge faucet from the Hansgrohe Axor Montreux collection and paired it with Hickory Hardware’s Cottage Collection knobs and pulls. The countertop was the nougat quartz from Ikea so I wanted the backsplash to be special. If I could have afforded a Calcutta marble mosaic I would have done that but that material is so expensive! In the end, I went with an Arabescato marble which is warmer than your standard Carrara marble and, in my opinion, the extra warmth works better with the nougat quartz.

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Customizing the glass front cabinets with mirrored backs has also made a huge difference since we closed up a window in that spot. Everyone who comes to the house always tells me how much they love the mirrors in the cabinets. It’s a simple customization that made a big impact.

How long was it from design to the final product?

I don’t really have a good answer to this question since the kitchen was just one aspect of the overall remodel. I ordered the cabinets during the sale but they sat in storage until we were ready to install. I wanted to take full advantage of the sale!

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How long have you lived with your Ikea kitchen? Have you encountered any problems?

We’ve had our kitchen for a year and love it. So far, the only problem we’ve encountered is the amount (lack) of storage. Though our kitchen is not small, it is actually not that big – roughly 11’ x 13’. Finding places to fit everything has been a challenge. But that probably means we should have less stuff.

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What is your favorite thing about your kitchen? Least favorite?

I love how much counter space we have. It’s perfect for having the kids next to me, helping to prepare their favorite cookies. As for my least favorite thing…I wasn’t able to incorporate a good place for spices so the spice arrangement could definitely be better. I’m still looking for a good solution.

Would you recommend Ikea as a source for a kitchen remodel? If so, which items?

Absolutely! This was our first Ikea kitchen and we have not been disappointed. However, I can’t speak for Ikea appliances since we don’t own any.

Would you consider Ikea for a future kitchen remodel?

Definitely! In fact, we used Ikea kitchen cabinets in our laundry room and it turned out great.

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Resources of note:

backsplash – 1” x 3” arabescato stacked honed mosaic
faucet – HansGrohe Axor Montreux
pendants – industrial globe light from Shades of Light
range – Verona 5 burner
fridge – LG counter depth French door fridge
dishwasher – LG (all appliances were bought during a Thanksgiving sale to save money)

ReLocated ikea kitchen b&a

Thank you, Isadora, for sharing your kitchen remodel!

What a transformation, right?! I love that Isadora went with her gut on the window removal to create a space that works best for her family. By taking down a wall, hanging glass front cabinets and using reflective mirrors, Isadora managed to amplify the natural light in the room. (Fun fact: the mirrors came from the home’s lower level which once housed a dance studio. How resourceful!) High end appliances and special features – like the marble backsplash, bridge faucet and mirrored cabinets – give this Ikea kitchen an elegant and timeless look. You can read more about Isadora’s kitchen right here and see all of the family’s remodeling adventures over on her blog.

If you’re in the mood for more Ikea kitchens, check out the rest of this series:

An Ikea Kitchen in Northfield, Minnesota

An Ikea Kitchen in Brooklyn

An Ikea Kitchen in Orange County

An Ikea Kitchen in Texas Hill Country

An Ikea Kitchen in Chesapeake

An Ikea Kitchen in a Barn (in France!)

An Ikea Kitchen in Cape Cod

And if you have an Ikea kitchen (it doesn’t have to be 100% Ikea) that you would be willing to share on House*Tweaking, please email me at housetweaking@gmail.com for consideration.

P.S. – Thanks to everyone who has already submitted an Ikea kitchen. I really, really, REALLY appreciate the time and effort you’ve put into bringing these posts to fruition. I have a slew of Ikea kitchens sitting in my inbox waiting to be featured. I apologize for the lapse in time between submission and the post going live. I’m buried in Ikea kitchens – in a good way! Keep ‘em comin’!

images: Re:Located Living

My boys start school next week so we’re squeezing in a few more fun things before summer break is officially over. As a result, things might be quieter on the blog over the next week. I hope you understand. The good news is that once school starts, my afternoons are freed up for more projects. My goal is to finish tweaking the boys’ room by the end of the month. The last time I shared my sluggish progress in the room, I got a ton of questions regarding the hanging plant(er). I thought I would give it a quick mention today since there was so much interest.

burro's tail 1

The boys requested a “cool plant” for their room. I decided a hanging plant would work best to keep floor space open for play. I stumbled across a sprawling burro’s tail at a local nursery. (Berns nursery in Beavercreek for any locals.) It came in a plastic hanging planter from the nursery but I wanted to dress it up a little.

I found the modern macrame planter on etsy. (I’ll take one of everything in that shop, btw.) Then I returned to my local nursery and found the cracked, glazed pot. To allow for proper drainage, I kept the burro’s tail in its original plastic pot and dropped it into the glazed one. (The glazed pot doesn’t have drainage holes.)

To hang the planter, I installed a toggle ceiling hook. After eyeballing where I wanted the planter to hang, I drilled a pilot hole in the ceiling then inserted and screwed in the hook. I don’t remember the weight capacity but it’s well above that of the planter. My one suggestion for ceiling hooks is to match them to your ceiling so they aren’t an eyesore. The one I used is white and it blends into the ceiling.

I carefully slipped the pot into the macrame planter and arranged the stems then suspended the entire thing from the ceiling hook. The length of the macrame hanger is perfect for standard 8′ ceilings. One thing to be aware of: the plant is delicate and if you manhandle it, it will drop its fleshy leaves. It drops a few leaves each week but they’re super small and non-toxic. I just pick them up when I see them or vacuum them during weekly cleanings.

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Burro’s tail (a.k.a. donkey’s tail or lamb’s tail) is a succulent and it likes sun, rocky soil and infrequent watering. I hung it in front of an east-facing window and water it every 2-3 weeks. It’s been going strong for over two months. I think I can keep it alive! I love all the different textures going on in this planter and I adore the simple macrame hanger with its natural wood beads. It’s got me scheming for more hanging planters in the house. In the living room? My bedroom?

engineer print frame and mat

And while I’m thinking of it, I added a mat to the framed engineer print. You might remember my conundrum with the $3 engineer print being a few inches too short to fill the entire poster frame. Since this piece will be a mainstay in the room for years to come (I’m going switch out the engineer print each year for a current candid of the boys), I felt like it was worthy investment. It definitely gives the inexpensive, black and white print a polished look. I’m really happy with it!

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I have a few more fun ideas to bring to life in this room. In fact, today the boys and I picked up samples for the next big project. Can’t wait to share!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking