12.28.2011

seasonal eating: winter vegetables

I'm so lucky to live in the Northwest where our mild winter means that you can buy/grow fresh vegetables almost all year round. Next year we're hoping to build planter boxes with cold frames foir the backyard so we can start a year-round garden, so this year I'm really trying to eat vegetables that are in season. Hopefully, eating this way will give us an idea of which winter veggies we like to eat and should therefore try to grow.

Before now, I honestly had never thought to pick up a beet or parsnip at the grocery store. Joe and I love veggies, but we were pretty limited in what we'd eat every week. Tons of spinach and tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and broccoli, but really not much else. When I went online to find a list of seasonal vegetables in the Northwest, I was surprised to find that I had tried so few of them before. For a list of seasonal vegetables grown in the Northwest, look here.


My first experiment was with beets. I tried these beet chips and Joe and I both really loved them. We actually had these with hummus on a football Saturday, which I found a little unusual since game food is usually all cheesy, fatty goodness. But, honestly, these were easy and tasted so good! I think we ate a whole bunch of beets (like 4 or 5) in one sitting.

Next up came kale. Kale is a green and as such I figured it would probably taste about like a leaf (you all tasted them as kids, don't lie). I usually mix a few cups of spinach into our marinara sauce whenever we have spaghetti/lasagna/etc., so this time I substituted kale for the spinach and waited with trepidation. I am very devoted to my marinara and I was having visions of leafy-bitter, inedible sauce. But when our pasta was sauced and served, I was pleasantly surprised. The flavor of the kale wasn't overpowering at all. It paired really nicely with the acidity of the tomatoes and since its one of the sturdier greens, it held its shape in the sauce instead of melting away like spinach usually does.

Two for two. I call this success.

This week, Joe and I have a challenge going to see who can eat two servings of fruits or veggies with every meal. Even breakfast. It's intense, but it's giving me some good motivation to try out some more winter veggie recipes. Here's what we'll be trying this week:




Stuffed Acorn Squash w/ Quinoa & Leeks

Now I have to get to the grocery store and pick me up some delicious winter veg!

12.25.2011

12.14.2011

in progress: living room

I keep thinking that I'm going to get better pictures of the living room...or more at least...but with the gray weather setting in I doubt that's going to happen any time soon. So here goes...

Joe and I built and stained the ledges. I love the look of them up close, a picture for another post.


I watched this buffet on craigslist for weeks - $125, $100, $75 - then came the special phrase:
"One day only, $55!" and that's when I snapped her up right quick.

The wonderful piano that Joe surprised me with for our third anniversary :)

And that's all you're getting for now. I will try to take more pictures soon, especially now that the Christmas decorations and tree are up. Yay for the holidays!

12.07.2011

diy: jute rope wall art

When I took the month of October off, I set a goal for myself that I would finish make livable the public rooms of our house: entry, living, dining, and kitchen. And I did...just barely. It took a ton of work, a ton of diy and by the end I was running low on ideas for super affordable (read almost free) decorating ideas. But as I was scraping the bottom of the idea barrel, this little gem came to me.

I really love nautical and coastal inspired decor. It started in our old guest bedroom and now that we're in the new house it's spread to almost every wall (for example, my paint colors are gray, sand, and various shades of blue and teal). So, I guess what I'm saying is that I should've expected something nautical and beachy to be the answer to the question "what in the world am I going to do with that wall?!"

Without further ado, here she is:

I know it doesn't look like much in the pictures, but this was so simple and affordable (not to mention easily update-able depending on your mood) that I just love it. I used jute rope from the jewelry section of the craft store. I was originally looking for hemp, but the jute was 1/5 the price ringing in at $2.50 with my ever-useful 40% off coupon. All the pictures are old ones I had around the house or pics I cut out of magazines, so in other words free. I also had the clothespins hanging so those were repurposed too.



As far as putting it together, all I did was measure and mark exactly where  I wanted the ropes to hang on the wall. Then I hammered in a nail with a medium-sized head on each side (I wanted the nailheads to show a little bit). Then I cut my cords to equal lengths, tied the knots in the end, and hung them up. The whole thing took maybe 30 minutes.

I think I'd still like to try weathering the wood on the clothespins to give it a more battered driftwood look, but other than that I'm really happy with the outcome. I can't wait to start changing out the pictures for Christmas cards as the season gets into full swing!

12.06.2011

weekend fun: gingerbread houses

 This weekend the hubs and I had a great time building some gingerbread graham cracker houses. Actually, we were in a pretty serious gingerbread house competition. One hour, two packages of graham crackers, mounds of candy, and all the frosting glue you could steal from the other couples. When the final bell rang here's what we had:


This was such a fun holiday activity and so simple and affordable to put on.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a fun party theme or date night for this holiday season.

All you need are:

Graham crackers (we needed about two packages per team, but it depends on how elaborate your house is..and how many you break)
Frosting Glue (recipe is linked)
Lots and lots of candy for decorating (mixed candy from the bulk bin works great)
Hard surface to build on
Foil

Building the houses is completely up to your imagination! If you look below, you can see that Joe and I added a little minivan to our house and even put in some gummi bear versions of ourselves :)


All in all, it was such a great evening and an event I definitely want to add to the holiday rotation in years to come...you know, along with that cookie exchange I want to host, the Advent calendar I want to make, and the annual Christmas letter I'm determined will become tradition. One step at a time, right?