Monday, December 10, 2012

A New Kind of Homewrecking

Upon this year's Thanksgiving, the things to be thankful for stood out more starkly than ever. The support of friends, a hot meal, a hot shower, the love of your spouse. These things are so simple, but such contrast to the hell we've been dealing with.

It's been six weeks since the hurricane Sandy storm surge swept through Red Hook. We're one of the lucky ones, you could say. The water filled our basement, but spared our first floor workspace and our second floor apartment. Neighbors only a block or two away took on four, five feet of water on the first floor. Homes and businesses, destroyed.

Still here we are six weeks later with no heat, no hot water. Still going through the depressing chore of sorting through damp storage containers to salvage what's left of soggy wedding albums and old photos. Things you just can't replace. I've done my best to embrace the bright side: less old crap to lug around through life! I'm pretty sure I didn't need to hang on to every love note passed between classes in high school or those fuzzy VHS tapes of my college band. And now that my grandmother's sewing machine is junk, I no longer feel the pressure to learn how to use it.

For ten days following the storm, our block had no power. Everything in our fridge spoiled and a smelly brown ooze trickled across our kitchen floor, reminding me that our deadbeat landlord has yet to replace our leaky fridge. Our home no longer felt like home, but rather a cold, messy storage facility for all the junk we've collected over time. Homewrecker, that Sandy. 

While the power was out, we were refugees, fortunate enough to have friends across town with a comfortable futon to take us in. I guess we were good house guests because they still let us visit for hot showers every few days and even had us over for a vegan Thanksgiving where I impressed us all by whipping up this vegan gluten-free pumpkin pie.

The hurricane forced us to stop dead in our tracks. I didn't go to the office for two weeks. Our food truck business shut down. While we tried to catch our breath, we began to reevaluate.

I've come out on the other side of this realizing how very badly the past two years of non-stop entrepreneurship, working two jobs and completely neglecting pretty much everything else -- neglecting my own well-being for sure -- has made me miss, well, me.

So with that in mind, 2013 is going to be a year where Mr. Homewrecker and I refocus on taking care of ourselves, honing our true talents (maybe flipping burgers and truck maintenance ain't it), and reigniting our love of homemaking.

Sandy was the ultimate homewrecker for us. I can't top the damage she did with my own kitchen mishaps and wilty houseplants. She wins. With that said, I don't see myself writing much more for Home Sweet Homewrecker. I started this blog when I was single, living with roommates, and barely knew how to poach an egg. Ok, I still don't really excel at poaching eggs, but moving into my own apartment, living with a boyfriend for the first time, getting married, moving more times than I'd like, starting a food business, and then seeing my home kicked in the shins by mother nature have taught me so much about how to make a house (or a 3rd floor walk up, or a studio apartment) a home. Now I'm going to focus on finding the next place to call home, and do just that.

If you miss me, I'll still be updating my Tumblr with stupid asides and links from other ongoing projects. Thanks, everyone, for reading.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


It's been a little over two months since we moved into our new headquarters in Red Hook, and (no surprise) we've only barely unpacked considering we've also been trying to get our food truck business on the road. Running a small business, while also holding down a day job, has left zero time for housekeeping. The accumulation of dust and dishes and dirty laundry has reached new heights. Plus we're so busy cooking for customers, we've done hardly any cooking for ourselves lately. However a new charcoal grill in our backyard has been serving us nicely all summer, whenever we do muster up the energy to feed ourselves.

As I mentioned in my last post, things were off to a rough start when our new landlord neglected to renovate our apartment in time for our move in date. If we ever find time to finish installing the backsplash to our lovely Ikea kitchen, I'll post photos here, but for now we are still living in a bit of a construction site.

One project I did manage to tackle was the construction of a big bookcase (Ikea of course) behind our bed. I got the idea when Mr Homewrecker and I were watching Deconstructing Harry recently. Woody Allen's character has this very cozy, bookish New York apartment with a giant bookcase behind his bed, and it struck me as a great solution for not only adding vertical storage to our studio apartment, but for making the bedroom end of our living space more visually striking. The shelves just behind the headboard serve as night stands, meaning less pieces of furniture we need to cram into the studio. I also gave myself a narrow shelf for laptop storage and a cubby below to stash my purse.

Since our space is small, we've decided to keep the walls, curtains and bedspread white and pale gray so the room feels as light and airy as possible. Plus it keeps the busy colors and textures of the bookcase from overwhelming the space.

In addition to having walls that run at strange angles to one another, there's also hardly a right angle or level surface in the whole building. When I get up in the morning and walk across the apartment, I frequently lose my balance half way across the kitchen when the floor pitches to the right. I'm not sure what to do about that, but to deal with the dimensions of the room, we placed the bookcase at an angle to the wall so that the bed can run parallel to the windows. I haven't done it yet, but I'm thinking about cutting a hole into the back of the bookcase to create a secret hiding space behind the shelves, which is something my 8 year old self would have been ALL about.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Farewell Creepy Brownstone, Hello DIY Red Hook

Well, we're moving once again. While we loved our shabby chic old brownstone, we didn't love living above a creepy old landlord who seems to only want tenants who use her building for sleeping and little else. It's not like we threw a single noisy party or blasted music late into the night; all we did was dare to follow the American dream and start our own business. There was nothing on the lease that said we couldn't bring a crate of tomatoes into our apartment, but when we did it apparently conjured up images in our landlord's head of a dozen illegal immigrant workers slaving away in our tiny kitchen, inviting rats and roaches into the building.

As if. We were just trying to make the perfect bowl of chili.

So we're packing up once again, not hiring Intense Movers, and headed down to Red Hook, a magical part of Brooklyn that welcomes industry and quirk and has its own Ikea and the best grocery store in the world, Fairway!

We'll also have our own backyard (complete with feral cat), so expect HSHW to start branching out into gardening.  Which I have thus far been completely terrible at.

Of course things are already not going as planned. Our new landlord conveniently forgot that he needed to finish remodeling our apartment before we moved in, so right now we currently have NO KITCHEN in our new home. But since Mr. Homewrecker has mad carpentry skills, we're just going to go wild at Ikea and build it ourselves. The new apartment is also a studio, which means we're quickly trying to shed a third of our furniture and belongings.

Amazingly that included successfully unloading my entire VHS collection on Craigslist.

In short, you can expect some "Small Spaces" blog posts, some DIY kitchen remodeling updates and inevitably some posts about how I kill a bunch of tomato plants. Madness, but I'm excited about some homemaking challenges!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Strawberry Lemonade Buttercream Cupcakes

My favorite way to spread love on Valentines Day is straight through the mouth, and into the belly. With sweet treats! This year I came across this recipe for Strawberry Lemonade cupcakes, which looked perfectly pink and sweet for the holiday.

It also ended up being another perfect occasion to use the new KitchenAid mixer since the buttercream frosting requires a lot of whipping.

The resulting cupcakes were very moist and lemony, and the frosting was amazing. I was happy to share the cupcakes with the office because Mr. Homewrecker and I got to enjoy the best part -- licking the frosting off the beaters.

Cupcake transportation tip: Red Jacket Orchard fruit containers from Fresh Direct!

Monday, January 16, 2012


The HSHW household recently bought a KitchenAid stand mixer. You know, the classic ones that every good homemaker should own. And now we do! Shoutout to Target for having it on sale for only $199.99.

I hadn't actually used it yet -- Mr. Homewrecker has been using it to make his from-scratch chipotle mayo -- so I browsed the little cookbook that comes with the mixer and came across a recipe for popovers. For those unfamiliar, popovers are similar to Yorkshire Pudding, which like many English "pudding" dishes isn't anything like the Jell-o we're familiar with. It's bread. And it's eggy and delicious.

I love when the food actually looks like the picture in the recipe

And, as it turns out, they're a total breeze to make, especially with the stand mixer. I'll share the recipe with you all since it's a cinch. The hardest part was greasing and flouring the ramekins. A large muffin tin would work as well.

POPOVER RECIPE from KitchenAid recipe book

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbs butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Place eggs, milk, butter, flour and salt in a mixer bowl. Attach bowl and wire whip to mixer. Turn to Speed 4 and beat 15 seconds. Stop and scrape bowl. Turn to Speed 4 and beat 15 seconds more. [Now, if you don't have a KitchenAid mixer, I'm fairly confident this entire step could be done with a hand mixer or a wire whisk and a little elbow grease]

Fill 8 heavily greased and floured custard cups half full with batter. Place cups on cookie sheet. Place cookie sheet in cold oven and set heat at 450 degrees F. Bake for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake 20 to 25 minutes longer. Remove from oven and cut slit into side of each popover. [I guess that's to deflate them? I skipped this step since mine de-poofed on their own after only a moment out of the oven] Serve immediately. Yield: 8 popovers.

Serving suggestion: I think these would go great with apricot jam. Today I had them with Anarchy in a Jar's Hot Fireman's Pear Jam with Chipotle and Cinnamon -- also a great pairing (pear-ing?)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

These Cookies are My Jam

This is just a quick post to brag that I have made THE BEST COOKIES EVER. I know I made this claim once before, but this tops it.

Following Thanksgiving I had a stash of leftover hazelnuts -- which, by the way, are really expensive -- and in an effort to put them to use, I checked out this new site It's not the first site to offer recipe search based on available ingredients, but it is certainly the prettiest I've seen. All the photos are huge and beautiful and made me instantly very hungry.

My search led me swiftly to this recipe for Hazelnut Rosemary Jam Cookies. And, since I had leftover rosemary in the house too, I didn't even have to get out of my pajamas to go to the store for ingredients. For the jam I used two of my mom's homemade preserves, which I always have stockpiled -- raspberry rhubarb and pear. The cookies were super easy to make and turned out perfectly. Seriously, just look at my snapshot above and compare it to Gojee. Pretty good, right? The rosemary gave them a really unique and dare I say fancy flavor. I may even whip up another batch of these to impress my in-laws at Christmas this year.

While I'm bragging, I might as well show off my pumpkin pie that I made for Thanksgiving. Joy of Cooking pie + Bobby Flay's graham cracker crust and some homemade maple whipped cream. So good!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Seagull Living: Week 4

My coupon-clipping, Groupon-buying, leftovers-scarfing journey through November continued. While the Thanksgiving feast ultimately blew our tight budget, we still picked up a lot of deals and freebies along the way. Here's the final round up:

Nov. 22: I took the rest of this holiday week off and spent much of it sleeping in and catching up on projects at home. By staying in my pajamas all day and not leaving the house, I managed to not spend much money.

Nov. 23: We recently started renting a storage unit for our business and received a coupon for a free pizza at Il Porto with the new rental. Cashed that in tonight. Il Porto is a hidden gem on the far north end of Washington Ave across from the Navy Yards. Try the "Navy Yard" pizza with pesto, sopresatta and mozzarella, or the veal scaloppine.

Nov. 24: Thanksgiving! Mr Homewrecker made a beautiful turkey and all the requisite sides. I made a cauliflower, pear and hazelnut dish I saw in New York Magazine, plus clementine cranberry sauce and my first ever pumpkin pie. Yeah, the fixins cost a bit, but it's freaking Thanksgiving, and besides, we're going to live off the leftovers for the next week.

Nov. 25: Saw the delightful new Muppets Movie with a Groupon for $9 admission for two + free popcorn at Alpine Cinema in Bay Ridge. We have rarely gone down to Bay Ridge, and it seemed like "real" Brooklyn to me. Not Cosby show, hipster, stuff-white-people-like Brooklyn where we live. Also instead of Black Friday, we effectively did "buy nothing day" by using this deal and living off turkey leftovers.

Nov. 26: Small Business Saturday. American Express was offering this awesome deal where you register your card with their website and spend $25 or more at any small business that accepts AmEx, and BOOM you get $25 credit on your account. We had a wonderful brunch at Bogato Latin Bistro in Park Slope. Plus, Bogata has deals on Facebook and Foursquare where you get a free side of papas criollas on your first check-in. Scored that too. After brunch we went to Staples and got a Black Friday deal on a paper shredder. Originally $80 -- $20 after the mail-in rebate.

Nov. 27: I'm way into Scoutmob deals now. Tried a cute little Mexican place in Park Slope called El Jalapeno and got 50% off our meal.

Nov. 28-30: Coasted into December eating nothing but those Thanksgiving leftovers.

How did we do? Well, we blew our ambitious $600 food budget big time, but that included a Thanksgiving feast, and still we only spent our usual $800 a month and scored lots of little extras like free coffees and treats. Hardly enough to save our budget, but enough to make each day a little more enjoyable.