...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!

zucchini pie 1

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

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.*

Congrats to Jessica who isn’t a jewelry girl, per se, but loves the skylight disc pendant!

Do you display your jewelry at home?

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I have a porcelain egg crate on my nightstand. I use it to corral my favorite pieces.

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It also makes a great dumping zone for my everyday studs, wedding band and hair elastic at the end of the day when I’m crawling into bed.

jewelry tree 1

I recently added a jewelry tree to the top of the dresser. I love the simple, modern design. (It was an etsy find.) I had been stashing the majority of my jewelry in plastic sandwich bags in a drawer and, as a result, it wasn’t getting much wear time. I’m hoping that by displaying everything in plain sight maybe I’ll be more inclined to wear pieces I haven’t worn in years.

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The top tier is perfect for watches, bracelets and dangly earrings. The bottom tier holds necklaces galore. I was a little worried about the display looking too busy (I tend to like things uncluttered) but I think it looks so pretty!

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A trio of wood dot hooks is another fun way to display jewelry. I hung these in Mabrey’s room just this week. At two years old, she’s a little young for jewelry yet, but maybe she’ll use these to display her baubles some day. (For now, I hang her towel, sleep sack and favorite tutu from the hooks.)

circle hooks 3

My jewelry is a mix of high and low. The red triangle choker was a flea market find. It’s very Wilma Flintstone, no? In general, I’m drawn to beaded necklaces and bracelets with a few special pieces thrown in.

 

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Speaking of special pieces…Gemvara sent me this skylight disc gem pendant to share. A small black diamond eclipses the gold disc and it’s just about the cutest thing ever. This is going to sound far-fetched and cliché but the pendant makes me think that no matter how big our problems (the black diamond) might seem, in the grand scheme of things (the gold disc) they’re just a blip. I like that this necklace can be dressed up or down. It’s perfect for day or night.

gemvara skylight disc

For years, I swore off gold jewelry but I’m having a big love affair with it at the moment. If black diamonds and gold metal aren’t your thing, no worries. Gemvara jewelry is customizable in over 20 different natural gemstones and 9 precious metals. (You just click on your preferred gemstone and metal then the site generates an image of your selections so you know exactly what to expect.) There’s no inventory. Each piece is handcrafted in the U.S.A. and shipping is always free. If something doesn’t fit (or she says no – AH!), you have 101 days to return all items – even engraved pieces.

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Does all this talk about jewelry have you itching to get your bling on? Yes? Then keep reading because Gemvara is giving away a $1,000 credit to their site! See more dazzling pieces and find the giveaway entry details below.

 

gemvara

 

gemstones by the yard stud earrings // zoe band // roxanne band // cecelia ring // emerald isle ring // gemstones by the yard solitaire necklace // gem wire earrings

PRIZE: one $1,000 credit to Gemvara

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

TO ENTER: Click here, sign up for email, then link to your favorite Gemvara piece in the comments section below.

DEADLINE: Enter before Thursday, August 7th at 9:00 p.m. EST. One random winner will be announced Saturday, August 9th.

BUT, WAIT!, THERE’S MORE: Score 15% off your Gemvara purchase over the next 72 hours by clicking here. (The discount will automatically apply. No promo code is necessary. Easy!)

Good luck! I hope you win something special.

*This post is sponsored in part by Gemvara. All content and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.*

Congrats to Vicki and Maria! I hope they enjoy the book as much as I do.

remodelista giveaway

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Remodelista. The site is a constant source of inspiration and the book (by the same name) offers pages of eye candy along with healthy doses of useful information. It’s a winning combination of beauty + brains. The book made my good reads list last year and I included it in my gift of favorite things earlier this year. I’ve read it all the way through several times and find myself picking it up and leafing through the pages on a regular basis. If you don’t own a copy already, I would strongly suggest adding it to your design book arsenal.

Luckily, Remodelista is going to hook up two lucky readers with a signed copy of the book! See entry details below.

PRIZE: a signed copy of Remodelista (There will be TWO winners.)

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a shipping address (no P.O. boxes please) within the U.S., UK or Canada (excluding Quebec) to enter. One entry per email address.

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

DEADLINE: Enter before Sunday, August 3rd at 9:00 p.m. EST. Two random winners will be announced Monday, August 4th.

WHILE YOU’RE AT IT: If you have a minute, check out the 2014 Remodelista Considered Design Awards. They feature both professional and amateur projects in various categories. Find inspiration and vote for your favorite!

BUT, WAIT!, THERE’S MORE: Our kitchen is featured in the Remodelista Rehab Diary series today! It’s a synopsis of the renovation so if you’ve followed along here, you might not learn anything new but it’s kinda cool to see three years of work condensed into one article written by someone other than me. If you would have told me three years ago that our Underdog would be featured on Remodelista one day, I would have laughed in your face. This s#!% is BANANAS. I’m honored…in the most self-deprecating way possible.

Good luck!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

california-beach-house-portait

That handsome man is Orlando (pronounced or-LON-doh) Soria and he’s quickly climbing to the top of my favorite designers list. I’ve been a fan of Orlando’s for years and I was super excited when he took on the role of West Coast Creative Director at Homepolish last fall. Orlando and the rest of the Homepolish team are doing revolutionary things in the field of interior design!

So about a month ago when the peeps at Homepolish contacted me about a possible collaboration, I didn’t hesitate in saying yes. YES! I had the pleasure of interviewing Orlando and he’s just about the sweetest thing ever. I still can’t believe he took the time to read my questions – let alone answer them. Find my interview with Orlando below then keep reading for details on a giveaway you won’t want to miss.

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There must be some amazing story or unusual meaning behind your name. Do tell.

My mom was reading the Virginia Woolf novel Orlando when she was pregnant with me so I’m kind of named for that character. I have Spanish / Mexican lineage on my father’s side so my parents wanted us to have Hispanic-sounding names so Orlando kind of went with that, too. My middle name is Dumond which is French so I basically have the most racially ambiguous name in the whole world.

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Where did you grow up? Can you tell us a little about your childhood? Perhaps something that influences your work today?

I grew up in Yosemite Village which is a community of about 800 people inside Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. I didn’t really appreciate it growing up but it was pretty much the most incredible place to grow up. Through the window in my childhood bedroom you can see Yosemite Falls which is the tallest waterfall in the U.S. It used to shake and rattle my windowpanes at night.

Growing up where I did made me fall in love with California. My grandparents (on both sides of the family) lived in Steinbeck country (on the outskirts of Salinas, towards Monterey) so I grew up going to Big Sur and Santa Cruz and the central coast all the time. When I moved East for college, grad school, and New York City I missed California incredibly. After ten years I finally moved back and I think a lot of my design sense comes from the romance I had for California while I lived away. I like interiors to feel natural and casual yet beautiful. Kind of like California.

Your dimples…do you use them for good or evil?

LOL! I use them for good. Mostly.

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As a designer you’re challenged to cater to clients’ needs and wants but what is your signature “Orlando” touch? Is there an element you include in every project?

I like to have at least one piece in every project that is handmade and unique. This can be art, a hand-painted dresser or some kind of wall treatment. My hope for every client is that they have something no one else has, something that is inspired by their personality.

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Is there one rule you like to break when designing a space?

One thing I like to do is break clients from the idea that things need to “match.” My pet peeve is people being like “oh that wood is a different color than the wood over here.” While of course it’s nice to match wood tones, fabrics and other finishes for some projects (i.e. ones that are more streamlined and conceptual) most homes look better with a collection of furnishings that are more real, natural. Thus, it’s fine to mix types of wood, etc. as long as it’s done intentionally.

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You’re the West Coast Creative Director at Homepolish. (YAY!) Can you describe Homepolish’s mission for those folks who haven’t heard of it?

I fell in love with Homepolish the minute I heard about it because it’s striving to change the interior design industry from within. We’ve been around for about two years now and we’ve already revolutionized the markets we’re in. Basically, the goal of Homepolish is to take away the hidden costs and confusion normally associated with interior design and make the whole process more transparent. We don’t up-charge on furniture. We have a program called “swatch” which allows us to share exclusive discounts with clients and all our fees are upfront so there’s no confusion on what things are going to cost. There’s no incentive for designers to recommend super expensive furnishings so they are free to design specifically to the taste of the client. We have a huge range of clients – from small budgets to enormous ones – and they all seem to appreciate that we are most interested in meeting their needs and giving them the space they want, not upselling them on overpriced furniture.

There’s also a huge advantage for the designers who work with Homepolish. We take away the annoying parts of their job (billing, collecting taxes, etc.) and allow them to concentrate fully on designing. Also, we’re helping pair them with great clients and helping them build their portfolios. So not only is our company helping clients attain beautiful homes and enjoy their spaces more, it’s also giving young, well-accomplished designers the tools they need to finally have access to clients and thrive in their design practices.

Homepolish has a presence in more than a dozen major U.S. cities. Are there plans to expand? (Ohio needs you.)

YES! We want to be in EVERY CITY as soon as possible. Since we are getting so much press and doing so well in all the cities we’re already in, we are balancing the need to be responsible with the desire to help as many clients as we can. Eventually we will be a truly nationwide service but for now we are expanding as quickly as we can. Starting up in a new city takes some time because we have an intense (and ridiculously competitive) selection process for our designers to make sure we only have the best talent. So, in short, yes we will be to Ohio as soon as we can!

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What has been your favorite Homepolish project to date? Why?

Well, the answer to this question changes every day. Right now my favorite project is The Beach House because it’s so different than anything I’ve ever done. (Fact: designers actually like designing for clients that have a style totally different than their own.) I’m sure if you ask me this in a month I will have a different answer. I am working on Kelly Oxford‘s new house right now and when that’s done it’s going to be disgusting(ly amazing).

In design, we’re told everything is better in 3′s. Please respond to the following:

3 things on your bucket list

1. Learn a language other than English. Preferably Spanish because it would be super useful to me in southern California.

2. Buy and renovate a house in California before the whole state falls into the ocean.

3. Own a brownstone in Chelsea before New York falls into the ocean.

3 things every room needs

1. Art. By real people not Urban Outfitters.

2. Rugs. Ever notice that if there’s a rug in a room everyone is hanging out where the rug is and no one wants to be where there is no rug? There’s a reason for that.

3. Lamps. Even if you don’t have anywhere to sit, you need light. Or you’ll get depressed and sad.

3 things you can’t live without

1. Avocados. If a day goes by where I don’t have at least a little serving of avocado I feel like life is not worth living.

2. Knowing where the coast is. It’s true, if I don’t know which direction the ocean is I get disoriented. For this reason, I have never not lived in a coastal state.

3. Light. I have window treatments in my bedroom but they’re just for looks. I never close them because I love having light shining in my windows at all times. When it gets dark and gloomy in the winter, I want to stab myself with a sword.

3 things you like to do outside of interior design

1. California road trips. Ojai, Joshua Tree, Palm Springs, Yosemite, San Francisco, Sonoma County. I love just getting in the car and driving somewhere, just to stare at it and be in love. Living in a car city has its disadvantages but the advantage to having a car is that you can just wake up on Saturday and be like “I’m going to Santa Barbara!” and it’s super easy. We live in a beautiful country, so much to explore. I think our wild areas, our beautiful cities and our amazing parks are our greatest national treasure. Oh my god that’s so cheesy but I totally believe it. Sorry.

2. Art. I paint and make drawings. It’s what I studied in school and I still love it. I also love ogling other people’s art. My favorite place to do this is LACMA, which in my opinion is the most beautiful, relaxing art museum in America.

3. Outdoor movies / concerts / picnics / events. I am down for anything if it’s outside, whether it’s Coachella, Tchaikovsky at the Hollywood Bowl or The Addams Family screening at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. If there’s food, friends, and some kind of entertainment, sign me up!

3 places you’re dying to visit

1. Soria, Spain, where my last name comes from and from where, apparently, our Jewish ancestors fled during the Inquisition.

2. Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Mexico City (I’ve been a huge fan of hers since childhood.)

3. Berlin. Just because it sounds cheap, gross and kind of scary.

3 jobs you’ve held

1. Indie music publicist (first year out of school in New York).

2. Graphic designer (for a great stationery company in Los Angles, Jonathan Wright and Company)

3. Production designer (I worked on a lot of small / indie movies and music videos and photo shoots)

3 traits of a perfect client

1. Decisive. (Because slow decision making is what always leads to lagging projects.)

2. Realistic. (I’m a designer, not a magician. As much as I like to make my clients happy, there are limits to what a certain budget / space can do.)

3. Humble. (I’m down to earth and pretty self-deprecating so I don’t do well with pompous, entitled people).

3 adjectives to describe your personal style

Colorful, artistic, handmade.

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Thank you so much Orlando and Homepolish!

Orlando’s answers only make me adore him that much more. I love his reply to three things every room needs. How cool is it that he grew up with a waterfall right outside his bedroom window?! And who knew a SAHM in Ohio could have anything in common with a legit designer in LA? I, too, am a lover of avocados, living in a fish bowl and outdoor shenanigans.

Now about that awesome giveaway…head over to Homepolish to enter to win a pair of brass swing lamps from One Forty Three! Coincidentally, they’re the same lamps flanking Orlando’s bed above. I’ve long admired OFT’s workmanship. Good stuff and good luck, friends!

images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7) Tessa Neustadt 5, 8) Zeke Ruelas 6) Bethany Nauert