Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cheap vs. Thrifty: doing your own (dog's) hair

We don't have a professional groom Kinsey, we do it ourselves.  We save quite a bit and see it as money well saved.

Here he is in need of a hair cut:

Sometimes I take off a lot, and other times I just trim around his eyes and beard.  Here he is after a home trim.

Still pretty scruffy but not as bad. 

Here he is after a major chop:

I will admit someone at the dog park laughed at him once and I also had a conversation that went like this:

Lady on the street with two perfectly groomed poodles:  "What kind of dog is he?"
Me: "A Brussels Griffon"
LOTSWTPGP: "Oh... I've never seen one... look quite that way before..."
Me: (shuffles uncomfortably).

But seriously, Kinsey doesn't care what he looks like.  If he doesn't care and I don't care, I would much rather spend that money on something else.  So home haircuts and looking scruffy it is for Kinsey.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Recent acquisition

When we went to Philadelphia recently my sister took us to Material Culture.  It might be my new favorite store.  Kevin wants to plan our trips to see my sister around when they will be having a sale.  They were having a 40% off sale as well as paying the state tax and we already had a u-haul (to bring back the couches) so we splurged on a console table.  Unfortunately the woman helping us didn't know that much about it other than it is from China and "is really old."  We love it even without knowing the history: 

It fits perfectly.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Adventures in Vegetarian Cooking: Quinoa Salad

Eating meat has been a subject that I have long sought to reconcile with myself.  I've gone through periods of not eating meat, eating no animal products whatsoever (that was short lived), only eating pastured animals.  I will admit for the majority of the time I've eaten the most convenient/cheapest: factory farmed meat.   I won't go into the ethics of factory farmed meat, everyone knows it and everyone makes their own choices.  I'll just say for me, it is a choice that creates conflict within myself: for cruelty reasons, for health reasons, and for environmental reasons.

I'm also married to someone who thinks a meal isn't complete without meat.  So in an ideal world Kevin and I would only eat pastured animals -- the ones who spend their lives on actual farms living the way they did 150 years ago.  Animals that have had a good life and a quick death (which is my personal goal as well).  However, eating pastured animals is a lot more expensive and we're thrifty.  I want to invest in a big freezer so we can buy pastured meat in bulk.  I just got off the phone with a farmer who has pastured pigs and he charges $2/pd hanging weight if you buy half a pig.  $2/pd seems cheap to me!  You have to buy 100-150 pds at a time and pay the butcher separately which I guess is the rub.  I also plan to make a lot more vegetarian meals and see if we can cut down significantly.  It is better for our health and our budget.

I've been reading this blog by a vegan/vegetarian chef who is very inspiring.  We've cooked with quinoa a couple of times before so I knew that we liked it.  Seemed like a safe place to start.

Quinoa is a complete protein by itself (the only grain that is I believe) but I decided to add black beans and corn too (corn or rice makes black beans a complete protein).

I buy black beans dry in bulk. It is cheaper and we don't have to worry about BPA.  It cuts down a bit on the convenience factor, since I have to remember to slow cook them in our superpot for 8 hours.  But if I plan ahead, it adds about 5 minutes.

I always make extra and freeze them too, so next time I'll have the convenience of canned beans.

So for the salad I used black beans,

and quinoa (at this point I realized I needed a bigger bowl).

For the dressing I initially did lime, salt, pepper and olive oil but it was a bit boring.  I added some garam marsala spice that I got for Indian food which spiced it up really nicely.

I put avocado and cheddar cheese on top and served it alongside a baked sweet potato.

Between the quinoa, the beans and corn, and the cheese, this was packed with protein.  As well as lots of other good stuff.  It was really filling too.  And since we got dinner and several lunches each out of it, pretty cost effective.  What did the meat lover in our family think?

Thumbs up!  I am looking forward to making this again when the tomatoes and corn are in season and local.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Summer House To Do List

Here is what we hope to accomplish on the house this summer:

1. Paint the billard room and the dining room.  We've picked out the colors.

I like the wallpaper in the billiard room but it is a really dark room.  My mom or sister (not sure who to credit) suggested we pick up one of the lighter colors in the paper for the rest of the walls.  We decided to go with tan.  So the bottom half of the walls will be tan.

 And this whole wall will be tan. 

 I think it will make such a difference.

We also want to paint the dining room.  This is my inspiration:

The lightest two colors on this paint strip might work.

2. Finish the downstairs bathroom.

3. Make the courtyard a nice space for entertaining.

4. Buy a pool table and set up the downstairs.

That seems like a manageable list for the summer.  We can plan more for the fall.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

House Tour Part 1: Take Two

I know I haven't showed you guys the upstairs yet but  I wanted to show you how we've rearranged the downstairs.  As we get closer to "done" (if that is an achievable state) we'll start to focus on the upstairs.  

You can see what we did initially in house tour part 1.  After getting the rest of our furniture we had stored all over the east coast, we rearranged the downstairs rooms.

The new living room (former library):

The official dining room:

The entry way:

The future billiard room:

The kitchen has stayed the same:

We've also added some outdoor living space:

Roxy wanted to play while I was cleaning/making yogurt (pictured in one of the kitchen shots)/taking pictures for this post.

"Chase me!"

I chased her and then convinced her to hang out on the porch with me.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Homemade Pantry: Granola

This post is a bit of a misnomer.  Granola was on my list of things to start making at home and then I read the ingredient list of the Wegman's brand granola we get:

It is really pretty good.  I don't think I'd add soy lecithin if I were making it at home but otherwise I'm happy with what is in there.  So I will cross this off the list of things to make from scratch.

But as an update, I have continued to make yogurt at home.  So much that a couple of weeks ago when I knew I wouldn't get a chance, I picked some up at the grocery store and Kevin raised his eyebrows at me.

My favorite way to eat it is with some defrosted frozen berries, a bit of maple syrup, and granola.  It makes a good breakfast or snack.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Cleaning Strategy: Baskets

Having a clean house is different from having a neat house.  You can have a neat house and get away with it being dirty for longer than if it is cluttered.  Likewise, your house can be clean but it doesn't seem like it if there is stuff everywhere.  We're attempting to keep our house a bit neater, so it doesn't feel quite so messy.  Here is my new tactic: baskets.

Baskets for dog toys, baskets for blankets.

 Baskets for mail.

My mom made that basket, isn't it pretty?  I asked for a few more and she said no.  She made two baskets in her life (one for me and one for my sister) and she is done.

Baskets for dog gear and baskets for winter gear.  It is easy to pick stuff up and throw them in the basket, and once it is in there the house feels clean.  Let's see if we stick with it.