There’s a First Time for Everything

Ethan Allen Old Tavern Pine Dresser

This dresser is a gem. I’m in love. Both my husband and I can’t believe just how beautifully this dresser shines with a little bit of love. I wanted a new dresser, but the styles these days weren’t exciting me so my husband and I decided to check out all the consignment shops in the area. I wasn’t looking for new because I had seen some old dressers that people had brought back to life and decided to give that a try. We found this dresser under a pile of junk in a little shop. It’s an Ethan Allen, from the Old Tavern Pine collection from 1970. It was in bad shape. So bad that I didn’t think there was any hope of anyone ever loving it again. It was pockmarked, burned and dinged. The finish was no longer glossy. I hadn’t planned on staining at all so the cosmetic issues didn’t pose a problem. It appealed to us for its solid wood, all the drawers worked, and it was sturdy. Oh, and did I mention that we got it (along with the mirror) for a bank-busting $40? Who wouldn’t buy it? How could anyone go wrong?

Anyway, my husband decided to sand it down to see if staining was possible. I, not thinking, didn’t take a before picture of the damage. I’m kicking myself. Dare I say it looked really, really defeated. Especially because it was buried under a pile of unwanted junk. But we saw the potential, the brand and the price and took it home.  If you are interested in seeing a picture of the original design, google Ethan Allen Old Tavern Pine Dresser.  I would have posted a facsimile, but I didn’t want to pirate a photo that someone else took.  Chances are that you’ll find one in beautiful shape compared to how this sad block of wood looked.

My husband sanded the dresser down to bare wood.  He had to take a little more off of the drawers due to the hardware ghosting on the surface of the wood.  We were both thrilled that we didn’t have to paint it.  For stains, I shopped around and went with Old Masters stains in Spanish Oak and Red Mahogany. We were really happy with how the stain took to the wood. The contrast was shocking, especially when that first coat of poly went on. I was not a fan of the original hardware, it’s just not my style, but will keep it in the chance that I sell it some day. You never know, someone just might want to restore it back to its original self.

I will update this post with the mirror when we get that finished.  It’s probably going to be a while because we don’t have a ton of time to put into it at the moment.  The glass is in beautiful shape so we will be able to use it if we don’t have a giant oops.  I’m attaching a slideshow and I hope you like what you see.  We really can’t wait to get the mirror finished so we can move on to another project!

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I had a little fun at the Butterfly Place in Westford, MA again. I just can’t help it. Flowers and butterflies and light. Butterflies and moths of all sizes and colors are everywhere as soon as you walk into the atrium. This is one of my daughter’s favorite places to go because butterflies are kind of her thing. And bugs. Anything living, really. The newest addition that we could find were parakeets. Lucky birds! If you get a chance, you really should visit. They do land on you, so if you’re squeemish and think squashing one might be the end result, don’t go. They kind of frown upon killing them. I hope you enjoy these images.

Emergency Vehicle Session

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On a cold day in January, I got in my car and traveled to Haverhill, MA for a commercial shoot of emergency vehicles at sunset. The temps were in the teens, and I had a little bit of anxiety about my batteries holding up. It turns out I really didn’t have to worry about the batteries. What I had to worry most about was my on-board meter. It became useless in the torrent of bright, flashing lights. All of a sudden I had to shoot like I used to shoot film. Bracket, bracket, bracket, guess, guess, guess. The trick was to keep the shutter open long enough to catch the whole light cycle, but keep the exposure looking like it was taken at sunset.

I took all the precautions that I could think of, kept my camera cold and my batteries in my pocket. The difficulty came anyway because just breathing while framing a picture is a hazard for the image when it’s that cold. What fun I had though, and the images came out great, and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. I learned quite a bit about cold weather shooting that day. As most cameras are only rated for functioning normally above 31 degrees (mostly for the LCD operation), there was a small question in my mind of just how hard this was going to be, but I knew that it was possible because people do shoot in even colder temps. If it is possible, I’m totally game for trying it.

Luckily, my LCD didn’t freeze, so I tried the histogram to help me out. That was also confused by the bright lights, and made every image appear as though it was over-exposed when it wasn’t. With the image preview I was able to get a ballpark idea of where my exposure was, and bracket from there, so I wasn’t completely shooting blind. What did keep freezing though, was the viewfinder & the glass over the LCD — when I carried it around my body heat would cause condensation which would instantly freeze. I had to scrape them off a few times, and some shots had a thin fog over the lens. It was one of those sessions that was worth every second to me. I was challenged. It kept me thinking, scheming, adjusting, trying, moving. I really, really loved working this job, and would do it again in a heartbeat.

Feedback is most welcome! Thanks for stopping by.

Pork and Almonds over Field Greens


Pork & Almonds over Field Greens, right before I chowed it

This is really good stuff, and so easy to prepare it’s ridiculous!  Tonight I sat looking at my pork chops blankly.  They really wanted to be in a sauce.  But I am out of wine ***GASP!*** and out of beer ***NOOOOO!***  and out of stock ***THUD*** That never happens in this house.  I guess I’ve been neglecting my shopping duties long enough.  I had better get my act together or else we’ll be down to Macaroni Soup, much to the delight of my daughter. I’ll post Macaroni Soup one of these days.  Kids love it, even though it looks kind of gross.

My mind was totally made up on a sauce of some kind.  So I threw a few things in a pot while I browned the pork (dusted with sea salt and freshly ground pepper) in olive oil.

Here’s what I came up with:


Simmering the pork

4 pork chops

2 large cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 cup vinegar

6 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 bay leaf

12 or so (I didn’t REALLY count) whole peppercorns.

3 tbsp butter

Sliced, honey roasted almonds


Salt and pepper both sides of pork chops. Heat olive oil over high heat.  When the oil is hot add the pork chops and brown both sides quickly.  Remove and cut the chops into cubes.  Add everything except the butter and almonds to a pot and simmer for 45 minutes.  More time would make it more tender.  When pork cubes are tender and cooked through, melt the butter into the sauce, stir to blend and then serve over a bed of field greens (or rice and a veggie if you prefer) with a bit of sauce to dress and sprinkle almonds over the top.

Not too shabby for bare cupboards!  Next time I might add a bit more garlic.  I will now go bask in my awesomeness until tomorrow morning, when I am sure to burn my bagel.

Sage Chicken with Rice

Sage Chicken

Sage Chicken with Rice and Broccoli


This recipe has been kicking around my kitchen for a few years now. It is wonderful with either chicken or pork – this time I happened to use chicken, of course. I had to share it because it is made with simple ingredients that you should always have on hand. To add even more flavor, try adding 1/4 cup of a good dry Chardonnay when you add the butter, letting the alcohol cook off before the chicken is done. This recipe is just a base. Add your favorite heat if you like, or your special chicken seasoning – the ingredients are so versatile. There are so many wonderful dishes that can start like this. I hope you try it & enjoy it. If you do, please comment what you decide to add.

Browning the Chicken

Browning the chicken


3 Chicken Breasts
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 cup of butter
1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves stripped
10 fresh sage leaves, julienne or coarsely chopped
2 medium cloves of garlic, chopped fine
Salt & Freshly ground pepper

4 Cups cooked rice
2 Cups cooked and chopped broccoli florets
Salt and pepper

Rinse chicken & pat dry.  Sprinkle salt and Pepper on both sides.  Heat olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken to brown it.  When the second side is almost browned, add sage, thyme, butter & garlic – keep the heat at medium to medium-high.  Turn chicken a few times while cooking.  When your chicken is done (no longer pink), usually around 7-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken, remove it from the pan and carve to about 1/4 inch slices.

Add the rice to the skillet that you cooked the chicken in to fry for a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Stir in the cooked broccoli to coat.  Serve sliced chicken over rice.

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