No, this is not some S&M related post (although the title may lead you to believe otherwise). Instead, I wanted to share a simple and affordable route we took to update a light fixture. It all started as I fed our darling girl, letting my mind wander and mull over the living/dining rooms’ decor. I wasn’t pleased with the room’s overall feel, but couldn’t my finger on what was bothering me until finally my eye settled on the deviant: the metal chain that suspended the pendant light over the dining room table.
I realize that this may sound insignificant to most folks, but it was a bain on the aesthetic feel. But what I could do other than change out the light fixture? Inspiration struck and I was off to the home improvement store.
My purchase was a 50 ft section of rope, roughly a 1/2 ince in diameter. My plan was to wrap it around the chain, effectively hiding it from view while simultaneously lending the light fixture more interest. With Aaron’s help, it took me 10 minutes to complete and only $8 in expense. Whoo-hoo for little investment with a big return!
I had prepared a well-thought out, long post for today, but the cyber gods laughed at me and erased it right before I posted. Boo! To make a long story short, my topic today was all about my adventures in the kitchen- the latest of which is making homemade pasta. It is definitely better than store bought and was actually fun to make, too. I found my recipe in a 80′s version of Good Housekeeping and found it easy to follow with simple ingredients (mainly all-purpose flour, olive oil, water, salt, eggs). I am too lazy to repost the recipe, however, if you do by chance want it just let me know in the comments section. Sorry to be lazy, but running after a 4 (almost 5) year old and taking care of an infant has drained me of energy today. Just trust me though- making your own pasta is well worth the effort. The best part? You don’t need a fancy machine or hand crank to make simple noodles.
First and foremost, I have been quite the absentee blogger lately, but for what I consider good reasons. I decided to take it easier these last few weeks to get in as much quality time as possible with our little girl before my return to work and I have enjoyed it tremendously. Charley is now smiling, cooing, and melting my heart on a regular basis! As for projects, I have managed to undertake a few- like giving our master bedroom a bit more pizazz.
When we moved in the master bedroom wall color was a nice green, but it had loads of marks and scratches that made it necessary for a new coat of paint. My solution was to paint two of the walls using the same off-white color I used downstairs (Valspar’s Honey Milk) and then paint stripes on the remaining walls using Honeymilk, the original green base color, and the color used in our living room. Sound complicated? I promise it really wasn’t. Here’s what it all looked like before I started.
To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t just the wall imperfections that were annoying me- it was also the lack of function in this room. It’s a rather large room and is quite long. I decided the best way to utilize the space was to cut it in half- visually not physically- using fabric. I screwed my curtain rod directly into the ceiling and- presto!- I immediately had what feels like two spaces in one.
As for the stripes, they turned out okay enough where I can live with them…for now at least.
Last but not least, I hung some personal memorabilia and photos on one of the walls to personalize the space.
Seeing as how I used paint leftover over from other projects and re-used or rearranged items I already possessed, this redo was entirely free. Whoo-hoo for spending zilch! With that said, I will attempt to post more regularly about my projects and our travels. Until then, cheerio mate!
Upon the advice of friends, we took a trek to supermarket on the other side of town a few days ago. But this wasn’t just any ole grocery store- this was the holy grail of international food stores: the Super G Mart. The clientele alone attested to its diversity of products. The place was absolutely packed with folks from all corners of the globe! (This immediately gave the place some major street cred in my not so humble opinion) We grabbed ourselves a cart and perused the awesome product section with varieties and options that I had never even heard or seen before. The aisles were just as exciting and full of ingredients we were anxious to try at home. Our first foray into homemade foreign cuisine was inspired by dried corn husks: homemade tamales!
I’ve seen several tamale recipes in food magazines and it seemed relatively easy. The first step is to soak the corn husks in warm water. I just filled a large bowl, putting roughly 12 husks in (they are very thin) and putting a heavy glass bowl on top to ensure they were submerged. After they soaked for a about an hour I drained the water and shook any excess off of the husks in the sink. The recipe I was using called for Mara Harisa (a corn flour mix), but that happened to be one thing I failed to pick up at Super G. So I substituted using corn tortillas. I simply shredded and pulsed them in the food processor until they were finely ground, adding vegetable oil, white flour, salt, chili powder, and a little cumin until it reached the consistency of peanut butter.
For my filling, I went simple for this first batch. Aaron browned some turkey meat with chopped onions, adding a little salt and pepper to bring out the flavor. When this was cooked it was time to put our tamales together! I went on You Tube to find a tutorial on assembly and then mimiced their directions. It was suprisingly simple to do: spread 1-2 tablespoons of your Mara Harisa on one side of husk (fat side), put your filling on top, and roll!
I secured my tamales with torn strips of husk to ensure they stayed together during the steaming process.
After 90 minutes of steaming, they were done and ready to enjoy. The verdict? Quite tasty, particularly when served with a fresh tomatilla and cactus salsa.
Getting settled in our house has meant a lot of figuring out where to put what and how to put spaces to best use. For the most part we have most of the rooms down, but still have work to do on the nooks, closets, and basement areas. We managed to knock one area off the list this past week when we tackled the spot at the bottom of the stairs that lead from the kitchen/back porch to the back patio.
Lovely isn’t it? We decided that this would be the perfect spot to make a bar area- useful when we grilled outside and had folks over. Instead of making everyone tromp up and down the steps to the kitchen to grab a cold brew or other beverage, they could just take a few steps and quench their thirst. All that had to be done was to paint the back wall, scuff up the dry sink for a rustic look, and put everything in please. The result isn’t too shabby for only an hour’s worth of work.
Super pleased that we were able to turn an unused space into something that will be useful and facilitate easy entertaining. Whoo-hoo for 1) using what we already had and 2) employing our creativity!
It seems my topics this week are thus far focused on Southern culture- yesterday was all about the porch and today is about collards. How much more Southern can a gal get? But let’s focus on collard greens. They aren’t just a veggie to enjoy on New Year’s, they are delectable all year round (at least when cooked properly). Yes it’s true that you can smell collards cooking from a good six miles away if the wind is right, but they are entirely worth if only because of the loads of vitamins and nutrients they pack. We scarf them down more frequently than most folks because our neighborhood restaurant The Iron Hen serves them up in a most amazing way: collard green egg rolls.
That may sound absurd initially, but one little bite of these apps and you are sure to be a convert. Given that it’s not feasible or advisable for me to order these every day I knew I had to try my hand at making them myself. My first step was sending Aaron out to the local Asian supermarket for the egg roll wrappers. Unfortunately, they were all out of those (I still am perplexed how an Asian food mart can be out of egg roll wrappers, but whatevs) and picked up spring roll wrappers as an alternative.
I opted to use a bag of frozen collards instead of cooking fresh due to time restraints. I threw my collards (dethawed), cider vinegar, red pepper flakes, and a touch of sugar into my sauce pan and let it cook for about 30 minutes on simmer after first bringing it to a boil. After I drained and cooled the mix, I began to make my spring rolls. First step was to brush the edges of the wrap with a beaten egg so it sticks to itself when rolled. I then put about 2 tbsp of collards at the front of my wrap and began to roll, folding in the sides as I went.
I made about a dozen of these bad boys and Aaron dropped them in small batches into the fry daddy to crisp up.
The result? Awesomeness.
Next time I make these rolls I plan to add diced chorizo for a little more flavor depth. I will also cut the vinegar with more water next time since it was very powerful compared to the light and flaky wrap. Nevertheless, it was a satisfying first attempt and made an awesome, albeit not the healthiest, dinner. Bon apetit!
Perhaps it’s because I am a Southerner through and true, but I love a good porch. Not the kind you see on most houses nowadays, but the kind where you have enough room to prop your feet up, enjoy the view and breeze, and simply relax for a while. We are fortunate enough to have two porches at present: one on the front of the house and one on the back. The one on the back has admittedly seen better days. Whoever built the thing had a good concept, but not great execution. This means that some point in the future we will have to rebuild/renovate the porch although for now we are content enjoying it as is.
It has taken me a while to actually make the porch functional and inviting- not that I haven’t been busy with other projects (namely the new baby, painting, etc.)! Here’s how it looked up until this past weekend.
As you can see for yourself, this space wasn’t exactly beckoning one to stop and sit for a while. My first step to transforming it into a lazy oasis was to put up window shades/curtains since the sun pours into/heats up this space for the good part of the day. My solution for this was two part: hang wood blinds we already had on hand and make some super cheap curtains for the main window drag. The curtains were made using cheapo white sheets for Walmart I picked up for $12/per and plastic grommet kits from Joanne’s Fabric I found on clearance for $3/per. Curtains for only $36?! My kind of deal.
Next it was time to reassess the seating situation. I pulled our wooden couch frame, lovingly known as “Uncle Cliff”, up from the basement and picked up some outdoor cushions from the Christmas Tree Shop for $57 total.
I made and hung a few paper stars (click here for the how-to) for some added interest, threw in a few decorative items, and, wah-lah!, we had an inviting and comfy porch to enjoy.
We have already used the area more in the last few days than we had had in the last few months. For less than $100, I’d say my porch revamp was a bit of a success. If you need me, I’ll just be relaxing with a mason jar full of homemade sweet tea and a good magazine in this now comfy little spot!