Author Archives: thepotatohouse

Fall Harvest: Creamy Butternut Squash and Potato Soup

butternut squash soup recipe 6

Remember when I told you all about the great summer squash takeover 2014?  Well, Round 2 is here in the form of butternut squash.  I’ve never planted butternut, so I knew nothing about it’s crazy growing pattern.  I planted a few seeds and two months later, a single plant appeared and took over the entire front yard looking like a giant green spider, vines going off in all directions.  They were wrapped around all the other plants, growing into the neighbors’ yards, and stretching out into the street. Insanity.

butternut squash soup 3

I’ve already harvested about 20, keeping a few for us and offering the rest out to random people walking their dogs and/or kids in front of the house at night.  Most turn up their noses; “No thanks, I don’t really like squash.”  I go on trying to convince them that butternut is kind of sweet, like a sweet potato, and it doesn’t have the texture of zucchini, and you can mix it with potato and make delicious soups, and please don’t be intimated by it’s shape and hard shell, and please, please take at least one because I have then coming out my ears people!!  Aaaah!

butternut squash soup recipe 2

Actually, there were a few takers and they all told me what their plans were for using it.  I heard recipes for risotto, casseroles, curries, and a few who knew that this particular squash can be stored for months, so they planned on saving it for Thanksgiving.

This squash pusher only has one recipe, (the original is from an issue of Cooking Light Magazine), and I’ve been making it for several years now.  It’s the first time I’ve had my very own homegrown squash to use though, and man, does it taste better than ever.

I put my own spin on the CL recipe, subbing onions for leeks, (I never think about buying those things), veggie broth for chicken, I threw in garlic just because every soup needs it, and I added almond milk instead of half-and-half because I’ve been trying to cut out dairy when I can, (I’m such a sucker for cheese though). And finally, the last couple of times I’ve topped it off with coconut bacon.  Have you all had this stuff?  It’s ahhh-mazing and a great substitute for newbie vegetarians like me who miss the crunchy/smokiness of bacon every once in a while.  Take a look at the recipe here.

butternut squash soup recipe 4

I’ve found the best way to cut up a butternut squash is to peel the skin with a vegetable peeler first, and starting from the narrow end, slice off 1″ pieces until you get to the base.  Cut that part in half from stem to base, and remove the seeds with a spoon.

butternut squash soup recipe 5

Creamy Butternut Squash and Potato Soup Recipe (adapted from Cooking Light’s, “Golden Winter Soup”)

Ingredients:

2 tbsp butter

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 cups russet potato, cubed

4 cups butternut squash, cubed

4 cups vegetable broth

1 tsp Kosher salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Optional garnish:

Scallions, chopped

Coconut Bacon (or regular bacon)

Directions:

Melt butter on medium-high heat in a dutch oven (or stockpot) and sauté onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic cloves and sauté for one minute more.  Add the squash and potato, sprinkle with the salt and pepper and stir, cooking for 3 minutes.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Turn down heat and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes and squash are tender.  Remove from heat and take soup out in batches and puree with a food processor, or leave it in the dutch oven and puree with a handheld blender.  Stir in almond milk.   Ladle soup into bowls and top with scallions and bacon.  Enjoy!

Butternut squash soup recipe

Do you have any good butternut squash recipes to share? Anybody planting fall/winter vegetables?  I just planted some radishes and beets for the first time. Crossing my fingers that I get at least one vegetable from this planting.

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Rosie’s Refashioned Ikea Brän Lamp

bran lamp diy after

When I showed you all Rosie’s chandelier project a while back, I told you that I wanted to re-do the lamp on her dresser.  We bought the lamp, with all of her shelving and most of the frames at Ikea, right before we started putting her room together.  I knew right away that I wanted to use it in there because it was the perfect size, had a handy switch on the cord, (perfect for her height and little hands), and it was pretty and modern, fitting in with the style we were going for.

I make it up to Ikea only once or twice a year because it’s a 2 hour drive from Louisville. I usually have a list going for months and spend hours there, making sure I buy every single part I need, because we all know, you can’t order off of their website with those shipping rates.  Why does shipping cost so much with them?  I just learned this though: there’s a lot of Ikea stuff on Amazon for just a little more than buying it from the store.  This lamp is not available, but check there first before you go and pay $50 to ship a couple of shelf brackets.

bran-table-lamp-base__0247211_PE361820_S4

I started off putting the lamp on Rosie’s dresser as is, but it disappeared against the grey wall and white frames. I thought covering the lampshade in fabric, (like I did with the chandelier shades here), would help it stand out more, which it did, but then I wasn’t loving the minty green color I chose.  The fabric didn’t look the same in her room as it did in the store, and it was putting way too much emphasis on the shade and taking away from exposed cord.  It doesn’t look terrible in this picture, but in real life, the shade was a darker green, and I don’t know, it just seemed “off” to me.  This is how it was in Rosie’s Room Reveal:

Rosie's big girl room 13

The coolest part about this lamp and the reason I bought it, is the exposed cord.  So I thought, why not paint the cord a bright color like hot pink (Rosie’s favorite hue) to accentuate it?  I’ve seen similar lamps with a bright color cord like this  and various DIY lamps on the web.

So, I pulled the shade off to see what I was dealing with, and let me tell you, this ended up being the project from HE-double-hockey-sticks.  For those that are interested, I’m going to tell you all about it, but if you want to skip to the end where I’ve laid out the steps, I totally understand.

So here goes.  I unplugged the lamp, removed the shade, and figured I could just unscrew the socket part to get to the cord, but to my chagrin, the damn thing was glued on there.  I did a Google search for dismantling the Ikea Brän lamp, and came across this blogger’s post.  She heated the metal piece with a hairdryer to melt the glue, and fortunately for her, was able to pull it right off.  (Check out her post for a different take on redoing the Brän lamp. It is so pretty.)

The cord is painted and pulled out of the lamp in the following photos, which doesn’t make sense now, but I’ll explain that in a minute.

Bran lamp hairdryer

I made several attempts, keeping the hairdryer on it a little longer every time, and the top still would not budge; each time a nervous wreck that the lamp was going to bust in my hands and send me right to the emergency room.  (A few minutes into it, I did put on some oven mitts, so I wouldn’t burn or cut myself.)  I referred back to the comment section of her post and someone mentioned pouring boiling water over the piece to melt the glue.  I tried that too, and nothing.  I felt a little better when I read more recent comments from other people who were having trouble, and how they thought Ikea “caught on”  and was using stronger glue now.  “Caught on” to what exactly?  They don’t want people making a much more awesome version of their lamp? Come on now.

I decided to try a different route, and dismantled from the other end at the base of the lamp. I was able to pull the switch mechanism apart and pull the cord through enough to paint it, (score!), but the next day when I attempted to put the lamp back together, the section of cord where the switch was (it’s split in two on one side), got trapped inside the lamp, and the acrylic paint was scraping right off of the cord.  Ugh!  It was even worse now than when I started!   Instead of throwing the lamp across the room like I wanted, I walked away like a sane person and didn’t look at it for 2 weeks.

I hadn’t totally given up, but you know when you just have to forget about something for awhile and regroup?  Well a few weekends ago, Rosie was at my Dad’s overnight and Jeff at the lake, so I did what I normally do when I’m alone and had myself an all day Craft-A-Thon.  Just me, my craft room and the Lorde + Bjork + St. Vincent Pandora channel.  Pure. Bliss.  And it put me in the mood to tackle this thing once and for all.  I got my hairdryer back out and this time, hit up the tool drawer, grabbing a couple of different kinds of pliers and screwdrivers to aide in prying off the stubborn top.  First, I twisted the socket part a little and pulled it through the top and away from the metal cap, aimed the hairdryer on the metal cap again for a minute, and then put a large flat screwdriver in the small opening and gently pulled.

Removing top bran lamp

Voila! It popped right off of there.  I was so happy, I laughed out loud and did a little dance.  I’m not kidding.

So, back to the reason why my photos don’t match up.  I didn’t take pictures until the second time around, after the original top debacle and when I had already tried painting the cord.

 

bran lamp diy top removed

Since painting the cord didn’t work out, I needed to explore other options to get the cord a bright color, my whole reason for getting myself into this mess.  My new repurposed craft carousel   was sitting there, and I had the idea to wrap the cord in embroidery floss, just like my stepsister used to do with her boyfriends’ giant class rings to get them to fit.  You can buy these at any craft store, and they’re only about 80 cents a piece and come in a million different colors.

bran lamp embroidery floss wrap

I pulled the cord out through the top as far as it would go, and began wrapping, starting an inch away from the socket thingy.  (I don’t know if it makes any difference, but I have a crazy fear of catching the house on fire, and I wasn’t sure if it was safe to put string so close to something that may get hot.)  I continued wrapping it around and then used fabric glue to secure it down.  After the glue dried, I carefully pulled the cord back through and reassembled the lamp, glueing the cap back on with Gorilla Glue.

bran lamp glue embroidery floss

Finally, I removed the green fabric from the shade and replaced it with this fun, crosshatch fabric from Stash Fabrics.

Bran lamp diy shade closeup

Oh my gosh, it’s so much better.  And although it took hours, (from bringing it home – to green shade – to the whole metal cap fiasco), I’m really happy with how it turned out.

bran lamp diy after 2

 

Have you had a project that took way longer than expected? Any other Bran lamp re-dos out there?  I’ve seen some that are filled with little toys, like Legos or plastic animals.  So cute.

IKEA BRÄN LAMP Redo 

What you’ll need for this project: 

IKEA BRÄN Lamp 

Hairdryer

Protective Gloves (I used oven mitts)

Flat Head Screwdriver

Embroidery floss

Fabric Glue

Strong Glue to Attach the Cap  (I used Gorilla Glue)

Directions (photos above)

1.  Unplug the lamp and remove light bulb and shade.  Gently twist the socket to pull it away from the glued on cap. Put on your protective gloves and turn on the hairdryer (hot setting), and heat the metal cap at the base of the socket, turning the lamp, for about a minute.

2.  Insert a flat head screwdriver and gently tug until the cap pops off.

3.  Pull the cord through.  Starting an inch from the socket, wrap embroidery floss around the cord until you reach the switch mechanism.  Glue down the end with fabric glue.

4.  After the glue dries, carefully pull the cord back through and reattach the metal cap and socket with glue.

Optional:  Fabric covered shade directions can be found here.

 

Tuesday Etsy Roundup: Song Lyric Art

Ok, you asked for it.  Well, that’s partly true.  No one actually asked for it, but I’ve missed doing the Etsy Roundup and past ones have been getting a lot of “clicks” lately, so I’m bringing them back.  I seriously doubt I can make it happen every Tuesday, but I am going to try really hard to shoot for every other week.

This week I’m bringing you song lyric art.  This collection has something for everyone I think, or if you’re like me and your musical tastes are all over the place, you might like to have any or all of these in your home.  Several years ago when we were remodeling our kitchen, I turned on some music for our cabinet installer, and came back a few minutes later to see if he needed anything. “Everything’s fine, except I think there might be something wrong with your iPod.  Seriously, in the last ten minutes, I’ve heard Snoop Dogg, Loretta Lynn, and the White Stripes.”

Yep, that about sums it up. I love music from just about every genre and my love of music carries over into a lot of our home decor.  We have several pieces of wall art that are influenced by our musical tastes.  In fact, this roundup is a precursor to a post and DIY project I’ll be sharing later this week involving music-influenced wall art, so be sure to check back.

Etsy Song lyric collage

1.  “Home is wherever I’m with You” printable– $3

2.  “Gangster” plate – $48

3.  “Wonderful World”  pillow – $38

4.  “Hella Dope” embroidery hoop – $28.36

5.  “Here Comes the Sun” art print – $20

6.  Willie Nelson record art – $25

Do you love to have music-inspired art around as much as I do?  What lyrics would you like to see on your wall?

 

 

Louisville Loves: Block Party Handmade Boutique

block party handmade buildingTucked in between the funky wig shops on 4th street in downtown Louisville, is an awesome, artist co-op/store called Block Party Handmade Boutique. They sell a hip and unique variety of wares; everything from jewelry to baby clothes, pottery and art prints, all handmade by “local and regional artists.”

I went in just to browse, and ended up buying this canvas and leather trimmed handbag.  I could tell immediately that a lot of time and craftsmanship went into creating this purse.  The artist who was working the shop said the person who made it actually screen printed the fabric herself.  Added bonus: all handbags were 20% off that day.

block party triangle purse

 

I had a reeeally difficult time trying to decide between two bags, so I carried both around the store on each arm for about 20 minutes like a total weirdo.  I finally broke down and texted pics to my stylist friend Ashley, who told me to go with the triangle bag.  That’s what I thought too,  but it was still nice to get expert confirmation.

smartphone custom case purse

I asked the artist/salesperson if she could put the other one on hold for about 6 months since it was more suited for my winter attire, and I couldn’t possibly buy two bags in one day or in one season for that matter.  She kind of laughed…  soooo I’m guessing that’s a “no”.

I also picked up this necklace on the clearance table for five bucks.  I want to wear it everyday, so I never have to, you know, explain my situation.  “Ohhh… that’s why that girl looks and/or acts all crazy.  She’s a Hot Mess.  It says so right there on her necklace.”

Block party hot mess necklace

They recently started an online store too, so if you’re not from around these parts, you can still get your Block Party fix.  I’m thinking about getting this “Pugs not Drugs” bag because it looks like my little Izzy on there.  I guess in her case, I should get one that reads, “Puggles not Druggles,” but I don’t think it’s available yet.

block party handmade pugs bag

And I need this to hang next to my bed.

Block party handmade print

Yes, I know.  Thank you.

If you do live in the Louisville area, you must stop in this month because my incredibly talented step-brother-in-law is the featured artist for September. Go there and check out his exhibit and buy something for your crib.  Here’s one of his pieces:

nick karl art

 

They have tons of “Louisville” inspired art work for sale there too.  I’m planning on going back soon to pick up something for a gallery wall  I’ve started in the basement with a “ville” theme.

What’s your favorite “locally owned” shop?  Where do you like to shop for artwork for your home?

“Too-much-fun-in-the-sun-atosis”

This morning I finally came to the realization that summer is over.  Labor Day weekend marks the end for most people, but apparently for me it takes the slight chill in the air, seeing that my tomato plants are done-zo, and driving Rosie to her final year of pre-K, (sniff-sniff), for it to really set in.  As usual, it came and went in a flash, and I spent part of the morning crying reminiscing, looking at our photos, and gathering up some of our memories to share with you guys.  If family vacation slideshows aren’t your thing, hang out anyway because there are still a few design/color inspiration shots in here you may enjoy.

We started off the summer by taking a road trip to Charleston, South Carolina for a wedding.  A few years back, we had spent an afternoon there on our way to the beach, but had Rosie-the-Rambunctious toddler with us and really didn’t get to see all that much.  She didn’t come along this time, and although we missed her, it was great to spend time, just the two of us, exploring this great city further.  We stayed at an awesome, historic house right off King St., that I found on VRBO totally last minute.  We had a ball just sitting on the porch, with the slight breeze and smell of jasmine in the air, cocktails in hand, watching those crazy kids on King.  People watching is one of my all time favorite things to do, so I was really loving it.

Sitting on porch in charleston

Jeff and I are both design and architecture nerds buffs, so anytime we are childless, we like to walk or rent bikes and check out the local buildings.  We had a couple of hours to kill before the wedding, so we did an outside self-guided tour of the single houses, and the many incredible examples of Federal, Georgian, and Victorian architectural styles.

architecture in charleston 2

architecture charleston

Touring these homes made me want to come back to our house and build a small, natural-looking swimming pool surrounded by hundreds of native plants and flowers, all enclosed with a giant, brick wall with iron gates.  Apparently though, this is really expensive and not exactly “in our budget, or priorities for that matter”, according to my husband.  I said a small pool Jeff.

The wedding took place at a beautiful old plantation/park, right outside of the city.  The weather was perfect and ceremony absolutely beautiful.  Check out these gorgeous flower arrangements.

wedding flowers charleston 2 wedding flowers charleston reception table charleston

Speaking of gorgeous…

jeff and me wedding charleston

Ha! Lucky for you, I cropped the bottom half of the shot.  I’m positive I was blinding everyone within a one mile radius with my pre-pool, white-pantyhose-looking legs.

We went back home for a week and to swoop up Rosie, and then headed to St. Joe’s Beach Florida with some friends of ours.  They have a daughter around the same age as Rosie, which if you have an only child you’ll agree, makes the whole thing a little bit easier. Unfortunately, we had to deal with a bed bug fiasco for the first couple of days, (so annoying), but we were lucky to move to a new place, and we ended up having an excellent time.

port st joe shrimp sign sunset at port st joe Rosie and me on the beachheron on the beach rosie at the beach port st joe

We visited some state parks in the area, cooked some awesome seafood dinners at the house, and pretty much played at the beach most of the time.  Jeff even caught a huge shark.

jeff caught baby shark

Okay, not that huge.  And he threw it back so it could grow up with it’s little shark family and terrorize us next year.

Later in the summer, on Fourth of July weekend, we packed up the Hyundai and headed to the Red River Gorge to stay in a cabin with seven of our closest married couple friends and 15 other kids.  Yes, you read that right.  16 kids.  All in the same cabin.  Apparently we are insane.

jeff and rosie hike gorge

rosie on bridge gorge rosie and me at the gorge

It was actually a blast.  Everyone, (including the kids), got along great, and we spent the weekend hiking, climbing, cooking fabulous meals together, and hanging out by the campfire.

The rest of our summer has been spent doing fun, local activities, like hanging at the pool, going to the zoo and science museum, and enjoying play dates with friends.

Rosie at the zoo summer 14

I know I’ve said it before, but I feel so fortunate and cherish every second of my time together with Rosie.  I can already feel the time speeding by, so I try to spend as much of it as I can with her, before she turns into a teenager and locks herself in her bedroom for hours.

Here’s a shot of Rosie I took while we were taking a break from walking around downtown Louisville one afternoon.  I had just caught her sneaking sips of my coffee while I was checking a text message.

rosie at coffee shop

She definitely needs to work on that poker face.

Did you go anywhere fun this summer? I can’t believe it’s almost over and will be getting cold again soon, can you?

Super Easy, Spicy Hummus Wrap

I told you all a while back that I stopped eating meat, (except fish), and at first, had major trouble coming up with what to eat for lunch.  Remember when I shared my recipe for the portabella melt?  Well, over the nearly two years (two years!) that I’ve been on this meatless journey, I’ve come up with a few more sandwiches and wraps to add some variety to my mid-day meal.

hummus veggie wrap recipe

There’s a locally owned gourmet food shop by my house with breads, pastas, and cheeses, as well as a refrigerated section with quick lunches, pizzas, dips (aaaah dips), and a variety of wraps.  One day I was in there and discovered a vegetarian wrap called the “Spicy Hummus Roller.”  It’s spicy hummus, walnuts, cucumber, carrots and lettuce wrapped in a flour tortilla.  A perfect blend of mushy, (for lack of a better word) and crunchy, and pretty healthy to boot.  It is delicious, but it’s like $100 a pound or something.  I left half of it in the refrigerator and Jeff, politely holding back his fury said, “Did you really just pay $10.50 for a tortilla with hummus in it?”  Why yes I did, and it was good too.  He was right though, that is one expensive lunch.  And it doesn’t even come with a side of chips.  So, the next time I was craving one, I decided to have a go at making my own version.

hummus wrap vegetablesJPG

It is really quick and easy, and you could use any veggies that you love.   The vegetables in my recipe are just the ones I had in the fridge that day.  I still frequent and love that store for a fresh baguette or handmade noodles, but I’ve gotta tell ya, my version of the “roller” is pretty close to theirs, and probably cost $2 to make.   They do have one-up on me in their wrap rolling technique though.  How do they roll all that stuff in there and get it so tight?  If you have the inside scoop, please share.  I would love to know.

Ingredients – (For one wrap)  

3-4 Tbsp hummus (store bought, or make your own.  It’s really easy.  I use this recipe here.)

1 Tbsp walnuts

Sriracha, or your favorite hot sauce

1/2 Carrot, cut into sticks

1/2 Cucumber, sliced lengthwise

1/2 Bell pepper, cut into thin slices

Tomato, (I used sun dried on this one)

Salad greens

Flour tortilla

Directions

You don’t have to do this, but I heat my tortilla in skillet for a couple of minutes to make it more pliable and easier to roll up the fillings.   Remove from skillet and spoon on the hummus.  Then sprinkle the walnuts and a few dots, (or more if you like it really spicy), of the hot sauce.  Add the rest of your sliced vegetables, fold in the ends of the tortillas and roll it up.

Repurposed Spice Carousel

I was doing some pretty intense cleaning the other day.  You know, the kind where you start giving away everything you own and cleaning out the refrigerator with a toothbrush?  No?  You don’t do that?  Well, I was trying to get rid of some unnecessary stuff, and one thing that immediately caught my eye was a spice carousel that has been taking up prime counter space next to our cooktop for the past 7 years.  We never use it because we have one of those awesome pull-out spice racks in our cabinet, plus I don’t know what half of the spices are in that thing anyway. When do you use celery seed or caraway?  What the heck is caraway?

repurposed spice carousel before

I didn’t want to just toss it, because the carousel works fine and I think the rack cost us around 50 bucks.  Suddenly, I had an “Aha! moment.”  Ugh, I can’t believe I just said that.  Did anyone else hate when Oprah said that?  I love her, but it drove me bat shit crazy when she would cut people off mid- sentence, look out into the audience with her finger to her temple and say, “yessss!  You had that Aha! moment.”  Oprah, please.

Anyway, spice carousel.  It hit me that this spinning house of old, useless spices would be perfect for some of my small art supplies, like needles, beads, buttons and so on.  So I emptied all the spices in the trash can, and I’m telling you, they were so old, they didn’t smell like anything.  Not even that funky, licorice-tasting fennel.

Next, I put them in the dishwasher and then set them out on the counter for a day to completely dry out.  Jeff came home from work and goes, “what’s going on here? Are you moving the spice carousel downstairs for your craft supplies or something?”  I mean, seriously, how did he know that?  Cause my man is smart, I’m tellin’ you.  The total package.

repurposed spice carousel dishwasher

I took it to my basement craft area and starting transferring stuff from inside the Dave Matthews-sticker-decorated college art box, into these handy, clear containers.  Buttons, embroidery floss, sticks of chalk, and sewing needles are now neatly organized and easily accessible.  Aaaah, I heart organization.

repurposed spice carousel craft 3

repurposed spice carousel craft 2

 

Have you recently repurposed something in your house?  Do you have a craft room/area/closet?  Soon I’ll post pictures of Jeff building mine.  Yes, not only is he cute and smart, he builds craft rooms.  Paws off ladies.