Grandma’s Pierogis

I often think of my nieces and nephews (and there are plenty) when I think of my mom’s pierogis. I don’t know just how many of them remember them or had the chance to even try them. This is another dish that was made to feed a crowd at a low cost.

My mother was Irish but she married my dad who was Polish, and I think I heard that they had lived in a Polish neighborhood in Chicago when they were young. Maybe my brothers could give some input on this. My mom learned to make several Polish meals. They are a big part of my childhood memories.

The ingredients for the pierogis are pretty basic. The only things you may need to go out and buy are cottage cheese and chives.

I have the recipe in her handwriting and I thought I would write it out word for word.


4 cups flour
3 eggs
2 teaspoons salt
2lbs cottage cheese
chopped chives
salt and pepper

To the flour add the eggs and salt and enough water to make dough easy to handle. (Oh, yes, when adding the eggs make a well in the flour, add them and stir into the flour). Roll out onto a floured surface. Use a saucer for pattern. (While you are rolling out the dough have a pan of water heating). Put some cottage cheese, (2T), on half of the circle, moisten edges. Fold over and press edges with a fork. When the water boils put no more than 3 or 4 at a time in the water. Cook gently about 20 minutes. With a slotted spoon take out of the water and put on a large plate or platter. Then fry in butter or margarine.
(I just realized that it doesn’t mention that you mix the cottage cheese and chives together and you can add a little salt and pepper to taste).
Very filling! And not really that difficult.

Have a good day everyone!

Shabby Chic Bud Vases

You may have seen these around, but did you know how easy they are to create? Simple. First of all you need to get yourself to Goodwill. They usually have a good supply and several styles of bud vases and cheap too.

At your favorite art and craft store you can pick out the colors of paint that you want to use. I used white, pastel pink, blue and green. It doesn’t have to be the kind of paint you use on glass, actually it may be better if it isn’t. I used standard craft paint for mine.

The main thing is to make sure the vases are clean before you paint them. If they really need it rub them with alchohol to remove any residual dirt.

I put 2 coats of paint on mine using a small craft brush (a foam brush would work as well). Once they have dried thoroughly, usually overnight, they are ready for the next step which is sanding.
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A medium grit sandpaper works best. When sanding the vases you don’t have to sand too hard to get the raised surfaces clear of paint. They should look a little rough, that’s part of the charm. Once I had them sanded I took a look at them and decided I wanted to tone the color down a little and give them a little more of a distressed look. I did this by mixing a little of the white paint with a little glaze medium and brush it on. I immediately wiped the glaze down leaving it to sit in the crevices. Let dry overnight. (You don’t have to buy a whole quart of glaze for the distressing, the craft stores sell small bottles of it in the craft paint aisle.)
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You can use them as individual bud vases or you can do as I have done by putting them in a grouping with an assortment of flowers. They would make a nice addition to an Easter arrangement too!
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Have fun!

My New Photographer Friend

I acquired a new friend last summer. She does beautiful photography as you will see. It is kind of fun how we met. Through different people we happened to be standing in line next to each other while waiting to be extras in a movie being shot in Naperville. It was hot that day (how nice to remember that!) and we stood in line for a very long time. We started chatting seeing as we were both alone and it was good to have a creative person to talk to during the wait. She was happily snapping pictures of the surroundings and we just got to talking. We have since become Facebook friends and I am glad to be able to call her that….a friend.

I asked her to put a little biography together along with some photos. What an interesting life story! This is Gwyn Dekker:

I was a junior in high school when a classmate handed me a Rolliflex and said “Congratulations, you’re the yearbook photography editor.” Fifty years later, I am still walking around with a camera in my hands.
When I bring out old photographs, they open the door to memories. Movies unreel in my mind of what was happening just before, and after I took that picture. I can also remember the many darkrooms where the pictures were created.
Pic for bio

This one, for example. We lived in the slums of Detroit in an old house with a large covered porch. We were sitting on the steps, blowing bubbles. Inside the flat was a fireplace with a fantastic painting of a face with long flowing hair. This giant room had been painted black by the previous tenant. Across the street was a family that had had their home invaded several times. They brought home a Doberman one day and had no more break ins. Next door to me was a group of young people who talked revolution and tried to raise my consciousness. Living above me was a musician who had the most beautiful long hair I had ever seen. On warm days I could hear him playing his guitar. All these memories and more are stored in this solitary image.
That is the magic of photography. If you are lucky, it captures a time, a place, a mood, a memory.
Gwyn Dekker

I “borrowed” a couple of other photos that Gwyn has taken of her dog Buster. Isn’t he beautiful?

Painting Cabinets Part Deux

Good morning!

It’s going to be a good day ladies and gentlemen!

We’re on to the second phase of Painting Kitchen Cabinets. At this point the kitchen island has been sanded and has a coat of primer on it. Now we are ready for paint. I applied 2 coats of a cool white (it happens to be their trim color) with a 4″ roller and a brush, drying thoroughly between coats. The paint I choose to use on cabinets and furniture is an interior eggshell finish. I have tried the paint that some companies specify for furniture and have never been happy with the results. I do, on occasion, use milk paint which has come back into popularity.

Let the second coat of paint dry overnight, insuring a smooth application of glaze.

The glaze I choose to use for furniture is Faux Effects AquaCreme. It stays workable longer than other glazes on the market. You may want to test first and see what ratio of paint to glaze that you want to use to get the amount of color that you are looking for. What I did when creating a sample for my client was I went to Home depot and purchased a small piece of moulding. This way they could see how the glaze will look on the hills and in the crevices. I used approximately one part paint to three parts glaze.

When applying the glaze I brush it on and wipe it down with cheesecloth. Menards has the most economical cheesecloth in packages. I, however, if possible, prefer to get it on a bolt from a fine paint store nearby. It has a better feel to me and already comes cut into sections. If you get the packaged kind you will want to spend a few mintues cutting into useable pieces, say 12″-18″ long.

I applied the glaze in an area that got the most natural light so that my clients could get a final look and okay the glaze color before continuing. I then continued around the island covering all the newly painted areas.

This needs to dry at least overnight and even better, 2-3 days before applying the finish coats.

This is a closeup of how the glaze looked.

Next week the final product will be posted. Go out and have a good day everyone!

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Hello there!

Have you considered painting your kitchen cabinets and don’t know where to start? Or maybe a furniture piece? The basics are the same for both really.

I have been working on a project lately that I will be posting on over the next couple of weeks. My client wants her kitchen island changed from a manufactured dark cherry finish to an offwhite with a gray glaze over it. This is a before photo:

The transformation is quite dramatic. They have actually been working on changing their entire kitchen including my redoing the walls from a green faux finish to one with more neutral tones. New drapery treatments are being made as well.

I can’t stress enough that prep work is essential and well worth the time and effort.

For starters, if you are going to paint cabinets make sure that they are clean and free of grease spatters. This will help the paint layers to adhere to the wood (or whatever material they are made out of).

Remove the cabinet doors and drawers if you are able. (If you can’t remove them they can still be painted it’s just a little trickier.) While you are removing them, and this is important, mark or number which piece goes where. From experience I know what a difficulty it can be if they are not labeled.

Once everything is set in place all of the surfaces can be sanded. Now, they don’t need to be sanded to bare wood, they just need to have a little tooth to them so that the primer and paint will adhere.

All set to start? Is it safe for me to assume that you have taped off and laid out dropcloths? If you need help with that then leave a comment here and I will reply.

I applied the primer with synthetic brush and a 4″ roller. It goes on easier and smoother than just brushing the whole thing.This is what it should look like when finished:

And with that you are well on your way to having a new facelift for your kitchen!

Have a good weekend everybody!

My Folk Artist Friend

I plan on spotlighting some friends who are in the arts and crafts movement. The first one is a dear friend that I have had since we were members in the West Chicago Mother’s Club back when our children were young. Our lives have gone through many changes and we lost touch and then we would touch base on occasion. The friendship has remained and we can pick up right where we left off. I think we all have someone like that in our lives.

Karen has always been a talented sewer. Years ago we did craft shows together and her items were always big sellers. Her work has shifted into folk art and it’s beautiful. When I went to her home to talk about posting her work I asked her how and when she took an interest in sewing. She told me of when she was in grade school her mother taught her how to sew. The way that she did so I find to be very interesting. Karen said that when she was in school her mom would give her simple shapes to “sew” without thread in the needle of the sewing machine. Karen started getting into sewing more when she began sewing clothing for her children. It then blossomed into her craftwork.

It was a cold and snowy afternoon when I got to Karen’s. After taking off my coat and scarf, and while waiting for a warm cup of coffee, I noticed a basket on the table with carrots in it. Surprise to me, Karen had made them!

Well, I was expecting rabbits…..and then she pulled out rabbits…

It was so enjoyable to spend the afternoon sharing ideas and techniques. We also shared some tips that we have come across. A great tip from Karen – to age her items instead of using a traditional tea staining, Karen uses instant coffee. 1cup of water to 1/4cup of instant coffee to be exact. She feels it gives a truer aged look.And I agree!

Thinking about how Karen learned to sew…it made me wonder how many young people are learning how to sew these days. Thinking of my grandson Charlie and how maybe it might be something we could work at when he visits. He is still young enough where he might be curious.

For more information on Karen’s folk art creations you can contact her at:

Karen’s work is also featured in a shop in Sandwich, IL, called The Rusty Rooster.

Have a great week everyone!