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Itchy hands and creative juices

Posted in Baking, Food, and Home & Decor

One of Houzz Kitchen
One of Houzz’s Kitchens

My Belgian friend Sylvia, a do it yourself whiz, interior decorator and even plumber extraordinaire, turned me on to Houzz about a year ago. “It’s fabuluuus – the only probleme is I keep on bookmarking things” she enthused.

Unbeknownst to me, sofagirl also signed up for Houzz’s weekly updates and, when I mentioned it to her, she was already a veteran.

Houzz can only be described as the decorating/house peeping equivalent of the Daily Mail side bar. Getting lost in it is easy and dangerous to my productivity. The bi-weekly updates that land in my inbox feature houses and apartments from all over the world, house maintenance tips and, occasionally, easy do-it-yourself little projects. Poring over renovations in Amsterdam, converted churches in the UK, mid-centuries in Los Angeles or ranches in New Zealand proves addictive if you, like me, think that going to open houses is a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon. And you are not even looking to move.

Houzz, as it so happens, came to the rescue a few days ago. As usual, I was sitting at my computer, doing some research, writing and wrecking my brains for viable ideas. My Christmas guests had left the day before, the house felt empty and silent and I was having trouble focussing on anything that required my brain to show up for work. It’s what I call “itchy hands syndrome”: my brain won’t cooperate but my hands are ready to work.

My sense of duty prevented me from slouching on the couch or curl up with a book – this was the chunk of time marked in blue in my calendar, i.e. you will be tethered to your desk working on the blog and/or book, or, in extreme cases, doing something else of equal value.

Cork board
My spruced up Houzz-inspired cork board

That something else of equal value proved the transplanting of a moribund chrysanthemum that, despite my inaptitude, had decided to flower again, followed by a simple Houzz inspired little project that seemed easy enough even for resource-less me: I was going to spruce up my bulletin board.

I am blessed with an extremely large pantry/laundry room that tends to be the repository of ugly gifts I can’t quite part with and things my husband bought at a discount somewhere just because they were cheap. While I will favor pretty over functional, he doesn’t  see the need for beauty in something as practical as a cork board that, no doubt, came from the last chance bin at Office Depot. It had been hanging above the laundry sink for eons, covered in recipes, emergency numbers and yoga schedules and it was starting to bother me as much as the ceramic basket I have since thrown away because too ugly even for up-cycling.

Chocolate Babka
My chocolate Babka

The Houzz project called for a chevron pattern which, when I started applying painter’s tape to my board, proved beyond my patience. How was I going to center the whole thing without a ruler? So I veered towards simple stripes. I spray painted the wooden frame and the exposed cork and, in 15 minutes, I had a much prettier board I could live with, at no cost. Thank you Houzz.

Hands still rearing to keep on going, I threw myself in the making of a chocolate babka, an endeavor that took the good part of the next four hours, one that I usually confine to Christmas, Easter or other festive occasion.

That night, I let myself drown in chocolate and butter, able to justify a day not completely squandered after all. The morning after, I packed the remains of the babka and sent them to work with the husband, I padlocked myself to the desk and let my fingers fly on the keyboard. Sometimes there is nothing like manual labor to get the juices flowing.

If you are so inclined, good old Martha has a very reliable Chocolate Babka recipe.

Click on the link for Houzz’ original cork board project

 

 

 

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11 Comments

  1. I love Houzz but like you, I too lose all track of time and have had to discipline myself to ignore opening that email until I’ve taken care of the day’s have tos. The cork board looks great and the chocolate babka irresistible. Don’t know that I could have given the remainder away so easily. 🙂

    January 18, 2014
    |Reply
    • I have come to the same conclusion and now apply the same discipline…an hour can otherwise go by with me just checking assorted crap out…

      January 19, 2014
      |Reply
  2. love that Houzz site, I agree that one can get lost and spend hours looking at those fabulous homes interiors (and gardens) everything looks so gorgeous. Your cork board looks to me like the beginning of an american flag. you can always add the stars later to the top-left… 😉

    January 18, 2014
    |Reply
    • Hadn’t thought of it. I am not that patriotic. I think it looks more like another one of my pathetic attempts at do it yourself, an art that just escapes me…

      January 19, 2014
      |Reply
  3. How fab… you’ve just found me another procrastination station 😉

    Houzz looks like such a glorious time-waster, but one that is justifiable. I’m off to look at kitchens (mine is falling apart and I have virtually no budget)

    January 18, 2014
    |Reply
    • Who knew I could display my collection of vintage kitchen utensils from a tree branch mounted on the wall ? My next project…again, budget-less

      January 19, 2014
      |Reply
      • The less budget the better…now where did I put my cork board?

        January 19, 2014
        |Reply
  4. silvia
    silvia

    There you go girl, excellent job.
    Why is it that men always tend to look at the practical aspect of things and life?
    Now that my partner spends more and more time at home the place is looking more and more a setting for bricolage than a cozy environment

    January 18, 2014
    |Reply
    • Be grateful for all those dinners when you get home!

      January 19, 2014
      |Reply
  5. Harriette Smith
    Harriette Smith

    question? iF A BAG OF COOKED POPCORN IS UNUSED, HOW LONG CAN IT STAY FRESH?

    January 18, 2014
    |Reply
    • If never opened, I would say about a month.

      January 19, 2014
      |Reply

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