Sunday, November 15, 2009

The most outrageous Mid-Century Modern fantasy I've ever witnessed.

Top O'Rock, that is.

This morning, I was perusing the real estate guide in the Sunday paper. I do this religiously like old folks read the obituaries. And, I saw that Top O'Rock was having an open house today. I read about the historic home a few months ago when the Sunday Gazette Mail did a spread about how it was going on the market.

The home was designed and built by Charleston architect Henry Elden in 1968. Elden clearly drew inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright's use of nature as an extension of a home. The structure is 10,000 square feet of curved glass and steel. Walking through it feels like the outdoors are literally about an arms' reach away.

The property has been vacant for a while and is in need of a bit of TLC. As I walked through, I just couldn't help but hope that whoever buys the property, which is a 4,000 square foot residence connected to a 6,000 square foot office space, restores it to it's all out mid-century modern fabulousness, and really appreciates the character of the property. Many of the furnishings were sold at an estate sale earlier this year by The Purple Moon. And, I could totally furnish that place with wares from the store. (Chuck, you guys should buy it and use it as a showroom. Hmmm.)

So, without further adieu, here's the eye candy:

The living room from the balcony above and the skylight in the shower in one of the several bathrooms.

One of the bedrooms and one of three spiral staircases.

green curved glass with a gold pattern in the master bath and a view of the office space.

View of downtown Charleston from Top O'Rock and view of the office space from the driveway.

All I can say is UNBELIEVABLE. Now, if I only had $695,000.

Here's the listing, in case your curious: Top O'Rock.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Jury's Still Out...

On the headboard I've been wanting for months. I finally bought it. Not sure if I totally like it, even after two weeks. Whadya think?

It's not the one I originally wanted from Target dot com. That one was $150 MORE than this one, which I thought was even overpriced a bit. Maybe I would've been happier with that one regardless of the whopping price tag. On a positive note, reading in bed has been more comfortable, at least...

I also ordered the plates I'd had my eye on for a while for the dining room. The plates I had up each had a different pink and green floral print on them. I wanted something more vintage-y looking, and I found these dessert plates at Dishes DelMar. I shouldn't gotten bigger plates, but I am such a tight-wad! The smaller dessert plates were much cheaper. All of them except the one with the pattern were made in West Virginia. The patterned one is Franciscan Starburst, which was made around the same time as the others. The others are vintage Fiesta, vintage Harlequin, both made by Homer Laughlin China, and vintage Lu-Ray made in the 40's and 50's by Taylor, Smith & Taylor Company, also of Chester, West Virginia.

I'm still looking for a light fixture I like that doesn't cost $800. I need to get rid of the wood-shade. Maybe something made from capiz... Hmm.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

No sense in mixing burdens...

Now, all the food/cooking/eating local stuff will be at Delicious Potager.

More room for home stuff here.

Monday, September 7, 2009

When It's All Good In The 'Hood.

I know, I know. I don't live on the West Side anymore. Thus, it sounds a bit ridiculous to be calling my 'hood, well, a "hood." (On the West Side, this was perfectly normal. Actually, Jeremy and I call our 'hood "Snob Knob", and that pretty much sums it up... I digress.)

But, it's that time of year. Football season gets me a little weepy. I'm not even joking. One time, I teared-up when I heard the opening notes of "Country Roads" in late August, and I wasn't even at a football field.
At the beginning of the season, when the smell of fall is in the air, I am all sorts of excited for all football, not just my beloved Mountaineers. Even, my hometown team, the George Washington High School Patriots. Am I Gee-Dub alumni? No. Do I know a single person who goes to school there? No. But the school is less than a mile from my house, so by-God, they are MY hometown team. Friday, I found myself caught up in an article on the sports page about the showdown on "The Hill" (read: "Snob Knob"). Yes, yes. G.W. was hosting a football game at their true home field instead of playing their usual "home" game at Laidley Field. This was a big deal for 2 reasons. First, because they play about two games a year at their true home field on their campus. Maybe not even that many. Second, because it was a rematch of last years' championship game for the AAA State Title with South Charleston. Trust me, it was a huge deal.

Anyway, I did a drive by of the field about 5:15 p.m. and cars were already lined up along the road down the road from the field. Did I actually go to the game? Well, no. Maybe next year I will pay $6 or whatever a high school game costs these days and go in. That's actually a pretty good value for seeing two quality teams these days. South Charleston won, for the record. The sportscaster said it was a close game. That's about as close to the action as I got, but there's something to be said for the hometown football scene. And, like I said. Sometimes I get weepy over football at the start of the season.
So, anyway, I woke up early Saturday morning. Early enough to be in the kitchen making coffee when I heard the chirp chirp of a police siren. Again, this would be normal on the West Side, but on the "Hill" (read: "Snob Knob"), people run to their windows to see what the commotion is all about. I forgot all about the Charleston Distance Run being this weekend, with no Regatta this year, and all. Well, the chirp chirp was the lead car of the CDR, and it was actually two City policemen on motorcyles and a Sheriff's Deputy in a Durango leading the pack of die-hard runners. They are "die-hards", cause anyone would have to be to run up Bridge Road. Running down Bridge Road would be different. I've even considered that, as long as there's a car at the bottom to drive my fat ass back up the hill. The CDR is also a big deal in this town. Participation was down a bit this year, I believe, since there was no Regatta, but still the running participation was over 3,000. Add to that the people who did the 5K walk, 10K walk and the running relay, and that's a pretty good crowd of people. Participation in the past has been over 10,000. It's nice to see that despite losing it's marquee event, Charleston still keeps the good stuff that was associated with the Regatta. The funeral parade, one of the highlights of the Regatta, that sorta had a cult following, happened this weekend, too. Maybe next year, we'll get the whole thing back, but for now, the Regatta fell victim to the economy. I watched several of the runners from my couch with a cup of coffee, and after a long while, a lone wheelchair racer came by my house. He was really struggling with the steady but gentle grade that goes past my house toward Louden Heights Road. A truck came by with some guys who looked like they were part of a construction crew. They stopped and spoke to the wheelchair racer, and then one got out and pushed him up to the intersection with Louden Heights Road where the race turned and went back down the hill. I thought that was especially nice, like one of those commercials for that insurance company, who's name escapes me (effective marketing, I suppose).

Anyway, I got off track. Today, we planned a cookout. The unofficial guest of honor was Jeremy's uncle Danny, who every time I see him says, "Every time I'm in Charleston, I always wondere where you guys live." Well, now he knows. The cook out was a success, despite the weather. It was really a cook out and eat in. But everyone had fun and we had too much food--marks of a great cookout. We had about 12 people here. Family. Good times.

Now, because of said cook out plans, I did what I always do when I have some sort of entertaining deadline looming. I went on a home improvement marathon that would make even the most easy-going person (me) insane. The kind of home improvement marathon that causes me to miss work, loose sleep at night and fight with my husband. But alas, it is done. It looks great. And I arrived at some genius solutions to snags in said marathon in said sleepless nights. This time, it was stripping the wallpaper (yes, again.) in the office. This wallpaper was not painted over. But it was fugly, so it had to go. And it took with it, layers of paper on the sheet rock in places. It was awful. Huge patches of bare sheet rock with frayed paper that I had to spackle over and paint. And, it was one night when I was laying in bed watching the clock tick from 4 am to 4:45 am that the answer came to me... Semi-gloss paint would hide the rough spots better than satin or eggshell finish would. I arrived at this conclusion after I'd done three coats of spackle and sanding, and still had places you could loofah your heels on in the wall. So, because of scheduling snafus, I had to take off work on Friday to finish the room. Here it is, before and after:

And, here's a few other updates from the weekend. The Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday started September 1st. So I made a Home Depot run for a programmable thermostat and picked up a new light fixture for the entry way. I got the art at Ikea this weekend when I volunteered to drive my mom up so she could buy a computer desk. Y'all know I jump at an opportunity to go to Ikea.

Friday, August 21, 2009

MtAoFC Part 4 -- Poulet Saute

Hello, Friday!

Last night, I made Poulet Saute (p. 254) and Tomatoes a la Provencale (p. 507) again. But I love those, so I really do make them all the time. So good. So easy.

Yes, yes. So I cooked this stuff after I got home from picking up my fresh food from the Monroe County Farmers Market. Where Jamie Oliver's camera crew was, but not Jamie Oliver. I was disappointed. I even went home at lunchtime to get my cookbook for him to autograph. (That's two celebrity chefs I've missed out on meeting, but that's another story). But I didn't care about getting interviewed for the show. It was too hot and I was wearing cashmere. Poor wardrobe choice for mid-August, I know.

Anyway, the chicken was wonderful. It tasted like it was made out of butter. Probably because of the gratuitous amounts of butter called for, but whatever. And the recipe says you can throw some "green herbs" in the sauce to finish it. My mom gave me a bunch of herbs she had, and the sage looked like it would go bad the soonest, so that's what I used. Besides, sage is a natural match for poultry.

2 1/2 to 3 lbs. cut up chicken
2 Tb butter and 1 Tb oil

Dry each piece of chicken thoroughly. Place a heavy casserole or skillet in over moderately high heat with the butter and oil. When the butter foam has almost subsided, add the chicken pieces skin-side down, as many as will fit in one layer. In 2 - 3 minutes, when the chicken has browned to a nice golden color on one side, turn it to brown on the other side. Regulate heat so that it is always hot but not burning.

Salt and pepper
Optional: 1 to 2 tsp fresh green herbs
2 - 3 Tb butter, if necessary

Season the dark meat with salt, pepper and optional herbs. (The wings and breasts are done later, as they cook faster.) If the browning fat burns, pour it out and add fresh butter. Place over moderate heat. Add dark meats, cover the casserole and cook slowly for 8 to 9 minutes.

Season the white meat, add it to the dark meat, and baste the chicken with the butter in the skillet. Cover and continue cooking for about 15 minutes, turning and basting the chicken 2 or 3 times. The meat is done when the fattest part of the drumstick is tender if pinched and the juices run clear or yellow when the meat is pricked deeply with a fork. Remove the chicken to a hot serving platter. Cover and keep warm.

1 Tb minced shallot or green onion
Optional: 1/2 cup of dry white wine or 1/3 cup of dry vermouth
3/4 to 1 cup of brown chicken stock, canned beef bouillon or canned chicken broth
1 to 2 Tb softened butter
1 to 2 Tb minced green herbs

Remove all but about 2 or 3 tablesppons of fat from the skillet. Add the shallots and cook slowly for 1 minute. Pour in the optional wine and the stock. Raise heat and boil rapidly, scraping up the coagulated saute juices and reducing the liquid to abotu 1/3 cup. Correct seasonings. Off heat and just before serving, swirl in the enrichment of butter and optional herbs.

On a side note, I thought the reason Jamie Oliver's camera crew was at the pick-up was for an American version of "The Naked Chef." No. He is hosting the reality show about how Huntington is the fattest city in America. That is what the filming was for. How fat we West Virginians are. Nice. As I always am, I'll be curious to see how West Virginia is portrayed. At least when I was there yesterday, they weren't interviewing the stupidest people they could find. The girl they interviewed was cute and seemed smart. Maybe it won't be all bad, after all.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Locavores Rejoice!

Two huge bits of news...

First, I don't know if everyone saw the plug I made for the Monroe County Farmers Market back when I was doing the Penny Pinching Pantry Raid. I've been receiving fresh produce and meat and eggs all summer once a week, and I can't be more pleased with the products. They deliver to Charleston once a week for a $5 fee. The product prices aren't too bad compared to Krogers, where I usually shop. The meat is almost exclusively pasture-raised or free range and hormone/antibiotic free. And the produce is mostly organic. (They tell you what products are not.) I could go on and on about the other reasons to get your stuff at a Farmer's Market, like how eating local is more "green" and how its important to support the local economy.

Anyway, onto the news... Today at the pick-up in Charleston, the crew from the tv show, "The Naked Chef" is going to be there to see how the market's delivery service works and interview the people who utilize it. I don't know if Jamie Oliver is going to be there, but I am giddy with excitement that he possibly could be. AND, the show is wanting to do a US version of "The Naked Chef" and they are going to be buying their produce from the Monroe County Farmers Market for the next two months!!!!

I can't say enough about how good the quality of the food is. Eggs--awesome! Salad greens--fabulous!! (And they stay "good" for longer since they are really fresh. I kept a zip lock bag of them in my fridge for well over 2 weeks.) Pork sausage--exquiste!! Anyway, if you want in and you are in the Charleston area, here's the link:

Now, there's nothing wrong with other farmers markets--I still shop at the Capital Market. And, if you already have a farmers market that you use, by all means, keep it up. You know, you can't beat the taste of an almost-too ripe tomato that was picked this morning with a little salt.

Second bit of news, after several phone calls, I found a breeder of heritage turkeys in West Virginia!

Heritage turkeys are the ones that were here when the pilgrims came. What they sell in the grocery store, well, wasn't. The one's they sell in the grocery store are "broad-breasted whites," which have been genetically engineered to be, um, more profitable. They are fully mature in as little as 18 weeks. They have substantially more breast meat, as with keeping with the demands of the American consumer. Their legs are shorter, and their breasts are so large, that if allowed to mature longer than 18 weeks, they wouldn't be able to stand up or walk. Also, because of their physique, they can't reproduce naturally--they can't "do" it. So, all the turkeys that you buy in the store are here because of artificial insemination and if allowed to live past Thanksgiving, would be immobile.

Heritage turkeys are coming back into fashion a bit, with all the publicity of the local food movement, and all. Problem was, I couldn't find a breeder nearby. A quick search on the internet produced several hits of breeders selling them ... 600 miles away. Some required local pick up, and some would fed ex your turkey to you, for a pretty penny--not an option. Finally, after a call to the WV Department of Agriculture, and being transferred to three different offices, and a voicemail later, I found a breeder in Phillippi, White Oak Ridge Farm. They raise only Bronze breeds, their smallest turkeys are around 12 pounds, and last year, they sold them for $2.59 to 2.69 a pound. All are free-range, hormone and antibiotic free. And, I imagine, whatever birds they don't sell, get to "get it on." Yippee! (By the way, the phone number is 304-457-1085, and they begin taking orders for Thanksgiving in September.)

Based on what I've read, cooking a heritage turkey is a little different than a Butterball. There is more dark meat, and moisture content of the meat is much greater. So you don't need to engage in moisture-preserving tricks like brining, bags or obsessive basting. I'm told that heritage turkeys are much more flavorful than standard turkeys, as well as healthier--they have a more natural diet of grass and bugs, which gives them their flavor and makes them lower in saturated fat. Saturated fat fears aside, I found a recipe for a rub for a heritage turkey made from butter, all natural maple syrup and rosemary. I can't wait to cook this bird. Tasty!

Anyway, hopefully I get to meet Jamie Oliver this evening, but I'm not holding my breath. It's probably best I don't since I'll probably act like and idiot and stutter and stammer around like a crazy groupie. And, stay tuned for the turkey wrap-up after Thanksgiving. My family will be the final judge on taste, but I still feel good about buying it, no matter what.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mastering the Art of French Cooking Part 3

Thon A La Provencale (Tuna Steaks with Wine, Tomatoes and Herbs) p.219

I am someone who likes Tuna Steaks rare. As a matter of fact, I don't really care for them unless they are seared. This recipe just didn't deliver for me... Too bad I dropped $10 on 8 oz. of fresh tuna steaks.

The tomato topping for the fish--now that was a different story. De-licious! If I make this again, I am going to skip the step of finishing the seared fish in the oven. The fish was overcooked, and I didn't even leave it in the oven as long as the recipe said! Just a quick sear and top with the tomato sauce next time.

I made Tomates A La Provencale (p. 507) with the tuna steaks. I love these. I've made them a few times since the tomatoes started coming in. They are so easy, and something different (for when you get tired of sliced fresh tomatoes for dinner. You can only eat those so many evenings in a row).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

On Julie & Julia, cooking and other musings...

Ahh, vacation. Who doesn't love it? And, then you come back to your job. Booo!

Last week while I was wasting away on Myrtle Beach, "West Virginia South", if you will... I made the second installment in my road to Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and saw the movie Julie & Julia.

Monday, I made Coq Au Vin (specifically Coq Au Sauvignon Blanc) on pg. 263, oignons glaces a brun on page 483, and chamignons sautes au beurre on page 513. It. Was. Amazing.

I don't usually cook for other people besides myself and Jeremy. I'd love to, don't get me wrong. But our families don't live within a convenient distance to come over for dinner on a week night, and it always seems like on weekends we are on the go or eating at our families homes. So, it struck me as funny when I was cooking dinner for Jeremy, my mom and my brother. First, I realized very quickly how territorial I am in the kitchen--even when it's not MY kitchen. And, I realized how far I've come as a home cook. I think I am something else now, a bonafide foodie, dare I say.

Here's what I mean. I was shopping for groceries for the week with the fam. I had my list for the Coq Au Vin. I wanted unsalted butter. That is what I cook with 90% of the time when a recipe calls for butter (and ALWAYS bake with). My mom, who's a nurse, God love her, wanted to get the heart-healthy margarine instead. When I put the package of cut-up whole chicken in the cart, she asked why my recipe couldn't be made with boneless skinless chicken instead. Now, I'll be the first one to tell you about eating healthy, but this is different. The recipes are so detailed in their instruction that to venture off that path by signifcantly substituting ingredients would give you something less. Something wrong.

That got me thinking. Julia put such care into the recipes and was so meticulous, this is how the food was intended to be prepared. The cookbook was written over 40 years ago, in a totally different time. Before fast food. Before not having time for dinner. Before transfats. And before people ate because they were lonely, stressed out, bored or whatever. When Julia wrote the cookbook, I think people viewed meals as a time to enjoy what they were eating. Truly enjoy. I once read that Julia never "snacked" or had seconds. That's probably good advice for all of us, let alone those of us who are eating as much butter as the recipes call for...

The Coq au Vin was delicious, and I don't know about Jeremy, my mom or brother, but I truly enjoyed it. As for the onions, we agreed that we could have made a whole meal of those.

As for the movie, I thought it was great. I've read both books, or at least I've read Julie & Julia and part of My Life in France (I read until they had to move to Bonn, and then the book slowed down, but I surmise Julia would agree with that... She hated it when they moved from France). I was really glad some parts of the book made it into the movie, and some parts I wish they would have included... but I realize they had to fit it into 2 hours or so. I would have liked to have seen more of Julie's mom, and her goofy friend. Both had an more influence on Julie than the movie reflects. And the book starts out by Julie finding out she'll have trouble conceiving a child. That was a huge theme in the beginning of the book, and part of what led t to her frustration with her life. And I got the impression from the book that Julie didn't put much thought into cooking before the project, but in the movie, it seems like she already cooks as a hobby when she begins. All of the parts of Julia Child's story in the movie were fantastic. I especially loved the (very limited) part with her sister Dorothy "Dort." Stanley Tucci did a fabulous job--I couldn't think of a person more perfect to play Paul Child when I read he would be filling that role. And Meryl Streep was outstanding as Julia. I read before the movie came out, that when she read for the role, she did the first couple lines in that voice, and they told her the part was hers.

Today, in the paper, I read that MtAoFC is a best seller on both Amazon dot com and Barnes and Noble. As a matter of fact, the publisher ordered an additional 75,000 copies last week, which have already sold out on Amazon. I just wonder what the real Julie Powell thinks of all this, and especially, what Julia would have thought.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Soupe Au Pistou

So, so, so excited to be participating! What fun to make a recipe you've never tried before once a week and write about how delicious and beautiful your results were! Not to mention to celebrate the movie and the books and the work of Julia Child. What a genius she was!

Here's my contribution for Week 1: Soupe Au Pistou (Provencal Vegetable Soup with Garlic, Basil and Herbs, p. 45)

So, you noticed the crock pot.

Okay, I sorta cheated a little bit on the recipe. For the first 5 ingrediets, water, carrots, potatoes, leeks and salt, the recipe said to boil them slowly for about 40 minutes. I knew I didn't have the time yesterday evening to do that, so I put them in the crock pot on low while I was at work. When I got home, I added the rest of the ingredients and followed the recipe, and Volia! -- it turned out wonderful!

I have to admit, I doubted it would turn out so wonderful as I was putting the soup together. I couldn't quite get my tomatoe puree, basil and garlic to blend to a "paste" per se, but that didn't seem to affect the soup's consistency. And, I used velvet-leaf basil instead of sweet basil, because that's what I had on hand. The leaves are a bit more coarse, hence the name, "velvet-leaf basil", and you can kinda tell when you eat it. But it is still yummy, and virtually fat free, which is a plus...

I happend to have all the ingredients on hand (except leeks, which I had to run out a buy), which pretty much dictated what I decided to make this week, as I am still in the Penny Pinching Pantry Raid challenge. This soup was so hearty and filling, it would be great for a winter supper, and since I know now that you can do the most time-consuming part of the recipe in the crockpot, this will likely become part of my usual rotation.

Next week, I'm off to Myrtle Beach for a week with my mom and brother. We always pick a few nights to stay in a cook something at the condo, so I already picked out a recipe from MtAoFC, that only takes a few ingredients and isn't too difficult to make, since I'll be at the mercy of a kitchen and implements I'm not familiar with.

When I first heard a movie was in the works based on the book, Julie & Julia, I was so excited because last fall, I'd read the book. After I read that book, I read My Life in France, which is the other book the movie incorporates. I hate to admit that I didn't finish that one. I stopped reading shortly after Julia and Paul Child moved to Germany. It got sorta slow at that point, but I'm sure Julia herself would admit as much. She was so disappointed to be leaving France after living there for a few years. I enjoyed reading the books so much, I asked for MtAoFC for Christmas and got it. I've only made a handful of recipes out of the book, but the one's I've made have been F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!

So maybe next Friday I'll go see the movie. Seems like we always go to the movies when we are at the beach. A werid thing my family does, evidently. At any rate, I'm already looking forward to leftover soup for lunch today, and next week's recipe. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Penny Pinching Pantry Raid Wrap-Up

It's July 31st. The last day of July. The last day of the Penny Pinching Pantry Raid.
Even though I didn't keep within the $100 budget, I still think I came out ahead. Here's where I stand:
Groceries: $272.70
Eating Out: $225.53
Compared to the previous months, this is marked improvement. Especially considering how much we traveled in July. I'm going to shoot for it again next month, too.
  • 6 oz. queso fresco
  • 1 bag + 1 partial bag chopped broccoli
  • partial bag biscuits
  • 1 Steamfresh Meals for Two
  • 1/2 bag chicken tenders
  • 2 pie crusts
  • 1 partial bag potatoes obrien
  • 2 Lean Cuisines
  • 1 gallon bag vegetable broth
  • 1 gallon bag chicken broth
  • waffles
  • 1 unidentified piece of meat (It's probably deer loin...)
  • 1 chopped green pepper
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 6 cups blackberries
  • 3 sliced yellow squash
  • 2 sliced zucchini
  • 1 8x8 pan stuffed shells
  • 1 8x8 pan lasagna
  • 1 quart-bag deer meatballs
  • coffee
  • 2 balls of pasta dough
  • 1 Kroger bag of new potatoes (thanks to my father-in-law's garden!)
  • saltines
  • partial bag egg noodles
  • 1 partial box spaghetti
  • 1 bag pecans
  • Karo syrup
  • 1 partial jar peanut butter
  • 2 bread mixes
  • 1 cheeseball mix
  • 1 box beginet mix
  • bisquick
  • 1 partial canister oats
  • wheat gluten
  • dried onions
  • 1 pkg onion soup mix
  • cocoa
  • corn starch
  • masa harina
  • sugar, splenda, flour, corn meal, brown sugar and powdered sugar
  • assorted tea and hot chocolate mix
  • 1 box sure-jell
  • partial box of couscous
  • 1 canister bread crumbs and panko bread crumbs
  • baking powder and baking soda
  • 2 boxes jello pudding mix
  • lemonade mix
  • 1/2 bag soy beans
  • assorted spices, vinegar and oils
  • 1 canister whey protein
  • chow mein noodles
  • 3 cans hotdog chili
  • 1 can kraut
  • 1 partial box Kashi Go Lean
  • 1 partial bag Baked Lays

  • partial quart of skim milk
  • 2 Tb stick butter
  • 1 tub of margarine
  • eggs
  • coffee creamer
  • margarita mix
  • 2 partial bottles of pancake syrup
  • 1 partial quart of cottage cheese
  • 1 fruit cup
  • 2 jello puddings
  • pickle spears
  • 1 quart homemade bread and butter pickles
  • 1 jar pickled beets
  • 3 sodas
  • 6 cukes
  • corn tortillas
  • celery
  • partial bag of spinach
  • 5 tomatoes
  • handful of green beans from my garden
  • half a package of American cheese slices
  • goat cheese
  • feta cheese
  • blue cheese crumbles
  • provolone cheese slices
  • 5 pieces string cheese
  • a tiny bit of the jar of minced garlic (I stretched it all month long!!!)
  • partial head of garlic
  • 1/3 wedge of pecorrino cheese
  • 18 pack of Miller Lite (payment to my dad for feeding my cats when I'm at the beach next week...)
  • assorted condiments
  • 8 lbs. deer burger
  • 1 deer loin
  • 1 wild turkey breast
  • 1 box Kashi Go Lean
  • 6 Italian sausages
  • 2 pt. pepper butter
  • 1 jar garlic powder
  • 2 bottles Spicy V8
  • 2 bottles mustard
  • 3 bottles hot sauce
  • 1 canister oats
  • 8 qt. green beans
  • 6 qt. homemade pickles
  • 1 qt. tomato juice
  • 8 qt. weiners and peppers
  • 3 pt. weiners and peppers
  • 1 pt. homemade hot sauce
  • 4 pkg of hotdogs
  • 1 pt. pickles
Last month, I spent $300.03 on groceries; and $482.62 eating out. For two people. That. is. ridiculous. Even if I didn't keep it under $100 for the month, one thing I did learn is to use what I have, stock up when I can, and plan meals a little better. I also didn't make too many trips to the grocery store, which was nice. I froze several yellow squash and zucchinis, berries and made a mess of pickles, which will help out with the grocery bill throughout the year.
All in all, I made progress, and I think I'll try it again next month.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I blew the Penny Pinching Pantry Raid budget!

It was such a laudable goal.

One hundred dollars for food for a month. At first, I said "there's no way." Then I decided it wouldn't be too hard, considering all that I had in my freezer and pantry. Problem was, (and maybe if I'd been more open-minded on what is considered a meal...) I didn't have stuff that I could combine and make a meal with.

All in all, I think it was still a success. I cleaned out my pantry and freezer. I made one trip to the grocery store, and I think that'll do me for the month. And most of all, from now on out, I'm going to employ a keen sense of frugality when it comes to planning meals. I'm going to use what I have, stock up when I have the opportunity, and not eat out so much.

I went to the grocery store last night because I desperately needed dishwashing liquid and cat litter. I was trying to avoid going, it had reached critical level. Well, $66.84 later and I'm over my budget in food for the month. But really, is spending $200 a month on food terrible? In May, I spent $387.82 on groceries and $341.67 eating out. For 2 people!!! Despite my failure at the challenge, I'm counting it as a success in every sense.

Last night, I bought mostly stuff I would have been hard-pressed to do without in the next few weeks. Stuff I use everyday. String cheese, yougart, cottage cheese, breakfast and lunch food for Jeremy. Stuff like that. Okay, I also did buy an extra half-gallon of Turkey Hill ice cream, but with my coupon, I got it for $1.29. Not too shabby.

I also bought two filets to grill for me and Jeremy on our actual anniversary on Wednesday. $4.49 ea. And I needed a yellow cake mix to make the Weight Watcher's blackberry cobbler recipie for dessert after the steak. BTW, Jeremy got me a gallon of blackberries this week. In the woods. For free.

I bought some tomato sauce to make sauce to finish off the jumbo shells and lasagna that I have in the pantry. For the life of me, I had in my pantry everything I needed to make either stuffed shells or lasagna but something for the sauce. Now that I think about it, I suppose I should have made a white sauce. Butter, flour, milk. I had all those already... Anyway, there's two more meals done after I spent $1.32 on five cans of tomato sauce.

So here's where I stand: Over budget $34.88.

Occassionally, this guy I work with makes the MOST FABULOUS WAFFLES EVER for the entire staff. That's what I had for breakfast. D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S. And free. Jeremy didn't eat.
Lunch was cold cucumber soup and a turkey sandwich. Jeremy had a turkey sandwich.
I had yougart and a hard-boiled egg for a snack.
For dinner, I'm making swiss chard and linguine with grated peccorino cheese. Okay, so the cheese was one of my splurges at the store. Bad, me!

Yesterday, I had Kashi and cottage cheese (again) for breakfast. Jeremy had waffles.
I had yougart, egg, string cheese and a granola bar for a snack.
It was our monthly employee potluck at lunch time. I contributed zucchini bread. I think Jeremy had lunch at the new Sheetz in Milton. He was excited, a new Sheetz just doesn't open everyday. I don't know what the damage was yet, but I doubt it was more than $7.
For dinner, I made grilled salmon with cucumber yougart topping for dinner and we had a salad.
I bought the salmon (1 lb.) at the Fish Market on Wednesday for $10.87.

On Wednesday, nothing fancy for any meals, but we had Subway for dinner. I had a coupon for a BOGO footlong sub. $7.42 for dinner for both of us isn't too bad, and it was one of those evenings that just wasn't exactly conducive to making dinner at home. I had a hair appointment right after work, then we had a co-ed softball game. This qualified as a time when eating out is okay, in my book.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Only 6 days in and I've realized I'm not gonna make it.

That's right.

Today is July 7th. I have $49.48 left to spend this month. I'm not gonna make it. I need to pick up about 6 items at the grocery store before next week, too. I have my meals all planned for the next couple weeks, and maybe if I was willing to be a little more "creative," I really could do it ... Like having cucumbers, couscous and a can of baked beans count as a dinner.

But, even participating in the challenge has forced me to clean out the cabinets and freezer, which is something I REALLY needed to do. I noticed the "use by" date on the half a bag of dried soybeans I have was January 2008. I didn't throw those out, though. Surely, dried beans won't go bad, right? I did throw out some food that need to be, though. The fruit snacks? I wouldn't think those would go bad either; and they tasted fine. They were just a little too chewy. Three jars of canned goods gone. Green and moldy on top. The only sad thing is that I wasted them. I hate wasting food, especially when someone I know put in the work to grow the food in their garden, on top of that, go to the trouble to can it, and be generous enough to share.

We booked a night in Columbus next week to celebrate our anniversary and Jeremy's birthday. We'll probably blow the rest of the food budget on dinner that night, but it is a special occasion. And then the week after, I have to go to Philly for a conference, and while I've planned meals for Jeremy while I'm gone that consist of frozen pizza and a pan of lasagna in the freezer, I'm sure he'll venture out to Main Kwong or Burger King for lunch at least a couple days while I'm gone.

No biggie, though. I've been on board 6 days and I've already benefitted. I haven't been to the grocery store yet, so I've saved at least an hour and a half of my time and about $80 bucks already. I cleaned out cabinets and the freezer, which needed done, and in planning the meals around what we have stored, it definitely makes me appreciate it a little more.

Here's where we stand:

Breakfast: Me - Kashi and cottage cheese; Jeremy didn't eat breakfast
Lunch: Me - leftover chili and cornbread; Jeremy wanted to eat out, so I'll have to update the total tomorrow
Dinner: Beef kabobs with mushrooms and onions and salad
Snacks: Me - yougart, egg, granola bar, string cheese

Also, I ordered some more food from the Monroe County Farmers Market today: 1 (2 lb.) pkg. free-range chicken thighs $6.50; 8 oz. organic Swiss Chard $4.00; 1 doz. free-range eggs $3.00; and 6 oz. organic baby lettuce $3.50. The stuff I got last week was awesome. And even with the $5 weekly delivery fee, I think it is still cheaper than Krogers.

23 days to go and $49.48 left to spend. YIKES!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Penny Pinching Pantry Raid continues...

I am so glad I'm doing this. I didn't go to the store yesterday, like I do most Sunday afternoons. And I didn't miss it one bit! And I came across another jar of canned goods gone bad. Who knows how long that stuff would've set on the shelf in my garage? I had a fabulous weekend with lots of good food (mostly because we were visiting family), and I didn't spend a dime.

Thursday evening, I picked up my first order from Monroe Farmers Market. 1 lb. sausage, 1 doz. eggs, 6 oz. of salad greens (which was a gallon-size ziplock bag) and 1 oz. each of fresh oregano and basil (which were pint containers! I must not have a good sense of weights, cause I thought it'd be much less than that. At $1.50 an ounce, that's way cheaper than Krogers!!!!)--all for $19.00. I was so impressed with the quality of the food, I can't wait to order more this week.
Thursday for dinner, I made salad with a 6 oz. grilled salmon filet that I marinated in balsalmic vinegar on top. I threw in some sliced Baby Bellas and some feta cheese. Delicious!

Friday, we were off work, and I was feeling inspired by having fresh sausage, so I made sausage, eggs, HOMEMADE biscuits (the frozen ones are always better than my homemade biscuits, but I was on a roll!) and sausage gravy. I did not fail as a Clay County wife... It was yummy. The sausage was surprisingly lean, too. Friday evening, we went to my mom's to celebrate her birthday (July 2nd) and cooked out. Had some awesome BBQ ribs (thanks, J.R.!). I made cannellini bean, tomato, and basil salad (so easy and perfect for cookouts cause it doesn't need to be refrigerated) and mom made potato salad. We drank our two growlers of beer we bought at Smokey Mountain Brewery when we were in Gatlinburg a couple weeks ago.

Saturday, I "yard sale'd" at my mom's house all day and didn't do too bad. I got rid of a bunch of stuff, which is always good. For lunch, I made homemade pizza with the rest of the sausage, baby bellas, oregano, goat cheese and carmelized onions. I also made an apple pie cause it was the 4th of July, with all ingredients from my mom's pantry. Saturday night, we ate hamburgers and hotdogs at Jeremy's parents house.

Yesterday, I didn't eat breakfast but Jeremy had two waffles. For lunch, we each had a leftover hamburger and pasta salad. And for dinner, I grilled some chicken tenders basted with pepper butter (kinda like hot mustard). Made mexican cornbread and had a fresh cucumber from my brother-in-law's garden. He gave us another Kroger bag full on Saturday, too, so we'll be having cukes every evening for a while.

Today, breakfast: oats (me) waffles (Jeremy)
Lunch: Lean Cuisine and a pudding cup (me) and leftover hotdogs and a pudding cup (Jeremy)
Dinner: Chili w/ leftover cornbread
Snacks: yougart, egg, string cheese and granola bar (me) fruit cup and Milky Way (Jeremy)

So far, $71.48 left to spend and 24 days to go.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Okay... I'm in for the Penny Pinching Pantry Raid

Well, I thought "there's no way," when I first read about Susan's (She's becoming doughmesstic) Penny Pinching Pantry Raid Challenge. But after I came home from a week-long trip to Boston, and didn't feel like grocery shopping, and I thought I had "no food in the house!!!", I looked in the freezer, and realized I could put that trip to the grocery store off until tomorrow evening. I have a lot more stocked up than I thought, and I need to get rid of some of this stuff, anyway. And I realized, vegetable gardens will be coming in the next month, so it's time to clean out the freezer and pantry to make room for the new stuff I'll put up.

The more I thought about it, the more excited I got. I would have an extra hour or hour and half per week. I would hopefully have an extra $250+ dollars at the end of the month. What could I do with the time and money I'd save?!? So I did an inventory, and I'm glad I did. I found two jars of canned goods that had gone bad, and I threw away some stuff in the freezer that had been there a while ... Gross. After looking at the inventory, I already see about 10 meals without even going to the store. And I can rely on the generosity of family who's gardens are already producing. We got a bag of squash and cukes just the other day from my brother-in-law. That, plus, I conveniently went to the store on June 30th and bought enough for a couple weeks worth of meals. The only drawback is that I am going to Philly for a conference for a week (but I get a per diem, so I'm only going to count any money I spend above that.) And, Jeremy are thinking about going away for a night for our anniversary on the 15th. So, eating out will have to count toward the $100. Jeremy said he was "in" as long as beer didn't count toward the $100.
Here's where I stand:

1 pkg turkey lunchmeat
2 c. shredded zucchini
6 oz. queso fresco
1/2 a gallon bag of veg scraps (for making broth)
1/2 bag biscuits chopped broccoli
1 Steamfresh Meals for Two
1 frozen pizza
2 c. squash
1 ea. partial bag of broccoli and peas
1/2 bag of chicken tenders
2 pie crusts
1 bag potatoes obrien
2 Lean Cuisines
3 lbs. deer burger
1 bag frozen corn
2 c. shredded mozzarella
1/2 gallon bag of cubes of chicken broth
1 unidentified piece of meat

1 lb. new potatoes
partial boxes of pasta (lasagna, linguine, shells and egg noodles)
bags of cornmeal, flour, sugar, brown sugar, splenda, powdered sugar and coconut
1 bag pecans
karo syrup
2 partial jars of PB
4 bags assorted bread mixes
beignet mix
1 partial canister oats
wheat gluten (no clue why I bought this. It's unopened.)
dried onions
1 pkg ea. onion soup mix and taco seasoning
corn starch
masa harina
13 bags of fruit snacks
assorted tea
1 box of sure-jell
2 partial boxes of rice and a partial box of couscous
1 canister bread crumbs and panko bread crumbs
baking powder
1 box granola bars
2 boxes jello pudding
hot chocolate mix
lemonade mix
1 jar honey
1 jar apricot preserves
2 cans diced tomatoes
1/2 bag soy beans
assorted spices, vinegars and oils
2 canisters whey protein
1 pkg fish fry batter
1 can tuna
chow mein noodles
4 cans assorted beans
3 cans hotdog chili
1 can kraut
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 can almonds
1 partial box Kashi Go Lean

1 loaf of bread
1 stick of butter
tub of margarine
3 hot peppers
1 bell pepper
1 pint grape tomatoes
6 oz. filet of salmon
1 qt. + 1 c. fresh blueberries
2 pkg hotdogs
1 pkg hotdog buns
1 pkg hamb. buns
1/2 carton of egg beaters
1 egg
1/2 gallon of milk
2 growlers of beer
coffee creamer
margarita mix
1 qt. cottage cheese
1 qt. plain FF yougart
3 fruit cups
14 jello puddings
pickle spears
2 5lb bags flour
2 jars of pickled beets
8 oz. FF cream cheese
5 sodas
5 small squash
3 cukes
corn tortillas
flour tortillas
1/2 pkg lunch meat
1 whole pkg + 3 cheese slices
goat cheese
feta cheese
blue cheese
3 slices pepper jack cheese
2 containers of mushrooms
1 lemon
1 pkg basil
1 garlic clove
6 stalks celery
8 carrots
2 partial jars weiners & peppers
1/8 jar minced garlic (YIKES!)
16 oz. deer kilbasa
4 1/2 onions
2 candy bars
1 small partial can crisco
15 yougarts
1.3 lb. pkg of turkey burger
about 1/3 a head of iceberg lettuce
6 sticks of string cheese

2 2-c. pkg shredded cheddar cheese
1 homemade 8x8 pan lasagna
1 container cool whip
11 lbs. deer burger
1 deer loin
1 wild turkey breast
2 boxes of Kashi Go Lean
6 italian sausages
3 pt. pepper butter
1 jar mayo
1 jar garlic powder
3 bottles of V8
2 bottles mustard
3 bottles hot sauce
1 canister oats
8 qt. green beans
1 qt. pickles
2 qt. tomato juice
9 qt. weiners and peppers
4 pt. weiners & peppers
1 pt. homemade hot sauce
4 pkg hot dogs

Unfortunately, yesterday I ate lunch out with co-workers for $9.52. (But it was sooo good.) Today, actually, fortunately, I will be receiving my order from the Monroe County Farmers' Market. I've never ordered before, but some friends of mine swear by it. They deliver to Charleston every week, and the selection is awesome. I ordered 1 lb. free-range pork sausge for $4, 1 dozen free-range eggs for $3, a 6 oz. pkg organic salad greens for $4, and a bunch of fresh oregano and basil for $1.50 each, plus a $5 delivery fee for $19 total. Check it out at

Last night, I made "Buffalo" turkey burgers: 1.3 lbs. ground turkey @ $3.00; 5 buns @ $0.87; 3 slices of pepper jack cheese; a couple tsp. of hot sauce mixed in the meat; 2/3 container of blue cheese crumbles @ $1.32; 4 oz. cream cheese @ $0.35; lettuce; and a cucumber (FREE!) Dinner for two for around $5.54!!! I ate lunch out and had 1 c. Kashi for breakfast; 1/4 c. milk and 1/2 c. of cottage cheese.
French toast for breakfast for me. Jeremy didn't eat breakfast
For lunch, I had a lean cuisine and a jello pudding cup. Jeremy ate a leftover turkey burger and a soda.
For snacks, I had a hard boiled egg, yougart, 1 stick of string cheese, a granola bar and 1 bag of fruit snacks.
For dinner, we'll have salad w/ grilled salmon, mushrooms and feta cheese.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

We're just doing our patriotic duty.

That's right... Obama said go forth and refinance, so that's what we're doing.

Granted we've only been in the house two years this July, but the low rates were too much to resist. Two years ago we got in right before the no money down party ended, and we're finding that is really limiting our options now, but no worries. Our mortgage broker from before found us something that will work.

Now, I have to tout City National Bank for a minute. They had a great loan product for first-time homebuyers called a "Champion Mortgage." 100% financing and $695 closing costs. That's right, $695. Period. That includes your appraisal. Yes, it was an ARM, and we all know how much bad press ARMs got as the housing bubble burst. But our mortgage broker helped us to not fear the ARM. They can work if you are responsible and know what you're getting into. It's funny when I tell people I have an ARM loan. Do you remember the Sex and the City episode with Heather Graham? The one where Carrie ran into the chic who dated Aiden right after she broke up with him? I get that face when I tell people I have an ARM.

Any ho, our ARM was a 10 year arm. Just refinance it within 10 years. No biggie. As interest rates fell, I started calling around to see how good of a deal I could get. At least the lady at Chase was honest when she said to check with City National because she couldn't give us that great of a deal.

I called City National on April 27th about 2 pm and spoke to our original mortgage officer. She quoted me a pretty good rate for refinancing into another Champion Mortgage ARM, but said no bank could refinance a mortgage into a 30-year fixed with less than 5% equity given the current state of the banking industry. No one is going to do it. I told her I'd talk to Jeremy about it and get back with her the next day. Well, at 3 pm, she got an email from the corporate HQ saying that beginning the next day they were discountinuing the Champion Mortgage program because of the "high loan to value ratio of the loans." Evidently, they are getting some heat from regulators. Anyhow, I talked to Jeremy and he thought it sounded like a good deal, so I call her back that day... It's a good thing I did, or we would have been out of luck. She did our application over the phone that afternoon, so she could get it in before it was too late.

So, I ran the numbers on moneychimp dot com (awesome site for figuring stuff out like car payments, amortizing loans, etc, BTW). We should hit 5% equity by the fall of 2011, so then we'll be eligible for a 30-year fixed mortgage. And with the new lower rate, we'll save almost $200/month on the payment. Is it wrong to have already spent that money? Probably. We haven't closed yet.

But I'm pricing hardwood floors and a new front door.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The first time we entertained in our new dining room.

This past Tuesday, J.R. and Tracy came over for a yummy Cinco de Mayo dinner in our new dining room. Mishap after mishap occurred with the food, but the company was fabulous. The food was delicious, just not that "pretty" and about an hour and a half late...

I got tied up at work Tuesday (The state bar's computer database got hacked. I got an email at 4:30 saying I should put a fraud alert on my credit report. Awesome!) So, I didn't even start cooking until 5:30ish.

I made chicken enchiladas, homemade guacamole and tortilla chips, chili rellenos, and I tried to make margaritas. The guacamole was DELICIOUS, as were the chips. Both are super easy to make, and I got the recipie from Tyler Florence's cookbook, Eat This Book. For the chips, you basically buy the 4" corn tortillas, cut them into forths and fry them in canola oil. Nothing is better than hot, salty, GREASY tortilla chips, freshly made.

The chicken enchiladas were great, too. And since I try to only eat like that 1 day a week, my co-workers enjoyed almost a whole pan of them for lunch yesterday. The four of us ate so many chips while waiting on the enchiladas to get done, we couldn't hardly eat any of the main course. The chili rellenos were tasty, but fell apart when I tried to stuff and fry them, so they were a pile of pepper, chorizo and cheese with some batter by the time I got them on the plates. I have a new respect for the cooks in the back of Mexican restaurants that make the perfect crispy fried peppers.

And, finally, before we ate, I got around to making the margaritas. I had a bottle of Patron, which I'm ashamed to say, I've had since last July, that I was going to use. Well, I put the ice in the blender, poured in the mix (I was gonna make my own, but ran out of time), and low and behold the base to the blender wasn't screwed on tight enough, so a whole bottle of mixer ran all over my countertop. Thank God I didn't pour the tequilla in. I would have been wringing it out of a kitchen towel back into the bottle...

J.R. was quick to offer up some of the Dos Equis he brought. Disaster averted!

We spread all the food out on the table and listened to Santana while picking at our food--we were stuffed from tortilla chips by the time I got dinner on the table at 8pm. But nonetheless, it was fabulous to have company over and dinner in the dining room.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The unveiling of the dining room suite!

Okay, here it is. In all it's glass-topped table and white-laquered glory. A glass-top table is a little 80's, I know, but here I am going for Palm Springs circa 1966.

Now, as I mentioned, I was planning on getting a wooden table and sideboard, but they looked kinda cheap. I guess you can't expect much from Ikea, but this one was so shiny and bright beside the brown one. Now, I need to get another light fixture, replace the curtains (that took me like 6 months to find a pair I liked) and take the plates down.

Speaking of curtains, you know, this is the first room we painted after we moved in. I matched the paint to some Amy Butler fabric I found online at this fabulous site reprodepot dot com. It was brown, green and pink, and sorta looked bohemian. Anyway, when I got around to ordering the fabric, it was sold out. So I looked and looked for something similar. I found these chocolate brown curtains with a dot pattern at Target. They do make it pretty dark in the room, so I'm thinking some white sheers. I have some plain ones, but I think if they were patterned, that would be pretty awesome. Target has some with dots just like th brown ones, but they are white sheers.

Chrissy Evans, our fabulous realtor, gave us a bottle of Lambrusco and a $50 Lowe's gift card as a gift at our closing. She loves Lambrusco--which is a whole other story. Anyway, so we go to Lowe's a day or two after we move in to get a big garbage can, paint and some supplies. I pick out this color, but of course, I pick out the expensive stuff--it's a Martha Stewart signature color called Wild Artichoke. But we figure since we have a gift card, what the hell. Well, we get to the check out, and the woman doesn't even charge us for the paint. She totally missed it. Score.

I also found another light fixture, but its $800. I don't care how much I like it, I'm not paying $800 for a light fixture. It's a drum pendant, just like this one, but chrome instead of wood grain. We'll see if I can find something similar for cheaper. The problem was it was a pain in the ass to get this one up. I just feel sorry for Jeremy when I do find the one I want, cause I'm sure it will sit in the box for a week or two before my nagging gets to him, and then it'll be a lot of cussin and swearin as we're hanging it. Although, I might try to do it myself this time. That chick on "Get It Sold" on HGTV makes changing light fixtures look pretty easy. Yes, I'll remember to cut the breaker first.

Here's some before and after of the dining room with furniture. I still need to get a china cabinet. Baby steps, though.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Swedish furniture makes me happy.

After finishing the legislative session, I was in much need of a little get-away. Last Friday, Jeremy and I took off for Pittsburgh, and most importantly, IKEA!

I have been saving since last fall for a dining room suite and I had been waiting for a chance to go get the one I picked out at Ikea. This whole saving up thing is sorta novel--Ikea's in-store credit is only 90 days. I asked myself what kind of furniture store has only 90 days same-as-cash? But then again, the economy being what it is, maybe that's not such a bad idea. I only had to dip into my dining room fund once to supplement my Vegas trip in January, but it was totally worth it.

At any rate, we had an awesome weekend. We met two of our friends who live in Pittsburgh now for dinner at Ditka's. I couldn't figure out why Mike Ditka had a restaurant in Pittsburgh, but he's from there and played college ball at Pitt. Boo. The company and the meal were excellent, though.

Next morning, we headed to Ikea to pick up the dining room suite I wanted. But when we got there, neither me nor Jeremy really liked the one I had picked out. It didn't look that great in "real life." There was a table on sale, that I kinda liked, but I was really surprised when Jeremy said he liked it, too. We ended up getting that table, 6 chairs (the same ones I picked out for the other set, but in a different color) and a side board for cheaper than the other set since this table was on sale.

Now, I have been saving up for this particular dining room suite for months, and I have been planning on a "yellow brown" wood table, chairs and sideboard. So, my dining room is green, curtains are chocolate brown, and the light fixture is brown. The dining room suite we got might not match quite right with that. I haven't decided yet, since we are still assembling. That's the only drawback to Ikea... Once I get it all up and together, I promise I'll post pictures and hopefully get some feedback as to what I should do about the curtains and such. Advice is always helpful. Stay tuned...

While at Ikea, I saw LOTS of things I want to get for the rest of the house. Like new furniture for downstairs. I'm not sure what to call it. The "family room", I guess. Although, we mostly call it the "red room." Though, I think the next thing I buy will be a head board I've had my eye on at Target dot com for some time. Then hardwood floors upstairs. New front door. Hardwood floors and drywall downstairs. New master bath. New kitchen. The list goes on and on.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I'm finally done stripping wallpaper!!! (until I move onto the next room)

Over the weekend, I (sorta) finished the entry way. A couple weeks ago, I took advantage of having no heat at work, took the afternoon off and finished scrapping the last few bits of wallpaper 15 feet up the wall. Then the painting began, which wasn't too bad of a job, except for climbing up the ladder with a paint roller and perfoming balancing acts that would rival an acrobat. This weekend, I touched up a few thin spots in the paint and put the wall art and coat rack back up. I know beige is boring, but it is so much better than peach, and since I want to get new furniture eventually, beige is good and neutral. Jeremy is also glad to have his coat rack back, too. All I have left to do is touch up the white base board that goes down the sides of the steps, but that shouldn't take me 7 months...

Last week, I got the mirrored night stands I ordered from Target dot com, and they are quite fabulous. Although, J.R.'s description was that they look like something out of the movie Blow. I just picture someone like Jean Harlow lounging on my satin bedspread with a gimlet sitting on the nightstand or something. Very Hollywood Regency. BTW, I have to keep the spray bottle beside my bed for when the cats start meowing at 5 am. If you have cats, you understand.

Now, onto the backyard--my next project.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Christmas Target gift cards = blackout curtains

Jeremy's mom always gets me a Target gift card for Christmas because she knows I love to buy up their marked down Christmas stuff. And this year was no exception--I did my patriotic duty to personally pull our country out of a recession and boost slumping retail sales. In addition to Christmas stuff for next year, I bought some heavy velvet curtains that matched my bedroom. Jeremy has been complaining that the white sheers (which I loved) just weren't conducive to sleeping late for quite some time. The day after I bought them, he slept well past 1 pm.

Some other goodies, I picked up were some gold chargers and a wine carafe (marked down 75%)!!! I'm still saving up for the dining room suite I want from Ikea, and I'm about half way there. I can't wait to have a sideboard to store all the stuff like chargers and wine carafes in, and a table and chairs so I can have dinner in my dining room. My dad came over for a traditional "Feast of the THREE Fishes" on December 23rd--I didn't think we needed a whole 7 course meal! We put the leaf in the table that I have, which is the table my parents had when I was growing up. Only problem with the Christmas dinner was that we had to sit on these rickety little chairs that go with a third-hand Big Lots dinette (Jodie, do you remember the one you gave me like 7 years ago?) But it was still nice to host a dinner and entertain. The food was awesome and I force-bloomed some paperwhites in a big clear vase for the center of the table. Once I get the dining room done (soon, hopefully) I'll post some pics.

Also, I AM STILL working on stripping the wallpaper in the entryway but I only have a little bit left. I just need to get around to finishing the stripping and get on with the painting.