Wednesday, July 31, 2013

House Tour Part 3: Take 2

As promised, pictures of the carriage house clean and ready for new tenants.  We spent about five days cleaning, painting, and fixing it up.  Needless to say we are looking forward to some fun this weekend, not chores!

The kitchen (Kevin put in the floors - you can see a glimpse of what they were like in my first post about the carriage house):

The dining room:

Up the stairs:

The living room:

Two good sized bedrooms:

And the private deck:

Monday, July 29, 2013

Our Part Time Job

I've mentioned a few times that our house is a multi-unit.  It has an apartment on the third floor and an apartment over the garage.  The rents pay the mortgage and starting in August a substantial portion of the taxes.  Meaning we pay a pretty miniscule amount to live here and here.  

It also means that we deal with all of the downsides of being a landlord.  Luckily we have had great tenants so far - we "inherited" a doctor living in the carriage house when we bought the place.  We rented out the third floor to a software engineer pretty quickly after moving in.  So far so good, both have been quiet and kept to themselves.  Our philosophy is going to be "no tenant is better than a bad tenant" and be pretty picky about who we rent to. 

The doctor is done his residency and leaving the area so we bid him goodbye.  We were somewhat sad to see him go, but also excited to be able to raise the price - he was paying a few hundred dollars below market.  

So this past weekend we turned to what I've been considering our part time job - keeping up with the house.  We painted the entire place and cleaned it top to bottom.  

It is not my favorite way to spend my free time and someday I hope to be able to hire out.  But for now, beer and music make the task better.  Only one beer split between us though, you don't want to come back the next day and realize you created more work for yourself.

Two new tenants (a lawyer and phd candidate) are moving in this weekend. Hopefully they will love it as much as the doctor did and stay another 5 years.  Just in case we are doing this again in another year, we'll be taking pictures while it is clean and empty.  So we can post an ad that doesn't have a tenant's mess in it like we had to this time.  I'll update the blog with those pictures later this week!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

CSA Weeks 2-5 and a Formula for Salad

Remember how I said I was going to use the blog to document what we got from our CSA and determine whether it was a good value?  Yeah, we're now heading into our sixth week and it isn't going to happen.  I think blogs that post everything the person eats with pictures are boring and it is not what I am striving for.*

BUT an update: we have been enjoying it and both feel like the quality and quantity we get is worth the price.  The amount of food has been perfect - it forces us to eat a bit more vegetables that we usually do but we are not drowning in produce.  The quality has also been really good.  I've even overheard Kevin telling people about it.  Phew, because if this had been a disaster we would have been done with CSAs for good.

If something changes I'll update you, but for now we like it and I'm planning on signing up for the fall share - another 10 weeks at the same price/week.

And a side note: we've gotten lots of lettuce, which has led to some pretty great salads. Week 3 we got four different heads - which we demolished in four days.  We had big salads at every dinner.  I determined that the best formula for an outstanding salad is:

 a leaf + a fruit + a nut + a cheese = deliciousness

Evidence for this theory: lettuce, strawberry, pecan, feta salads; an asian greens, dried cranberry, walnut and cheddar salad; a lettuce, beet and feta salad (beets aren't a fruit but still add the sweetness).  The options are endless.  And yummy.

*I was going to link to an example but then I thought it would be mean since I just called it boring.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A twist on oatmeal

I love oatmeal.  In the winter I will often make a big pot of it on Monday morning and eat it all week long.  I do get a bit bored of it after awhile and one way to mix things up is to make baked oatmeal.  Even the oatmeal hater in our family (hint: also the tofu hater) likes it this way:

Recipe: (adapted from Heidi Swanson and Thy Hand Hath Provided):

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup honey
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 cup milk
4 eggs
2 T butter, melted
1 banana, sliced thin
1 1/2 t cinnamon
Pineapple rounds, core removed 

Preheat oven to 375.   Grease a baking dish.  Mix all the ingredients except the pineapple and cinnamon together and spread into the baking dish.  Layer the pineapple on top of the oat mixture and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes.  

Feel free to sub out any fruit/nuts you have on hand.  This keeps well in the fridge, just reheat in the microwave and add some milk for a substantial, yet healthy, start to your day.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Weekend in Review

This past weekend was our neighborhood's art fest so the front of our house looked like this:

And down our street looked like this:

It went for blocks:

When we rented we hated this festival and made a point to be out of town.  Our apartment was in the center of the festival, meaning we had to go blocks before getting to a clear street.  We didn't have a yard so it was difficult with the dogs.  We are now at the edge of the festival, so we just have to go half a block before getting out.  We fell into a good routine of walking the dogs early in the morning before it got started and then later in the evening after it ended and just letting them out to pee in the back in between.  We also had a party Saturday which was fun.  I forgot to take pictures but we had a good time.  We were expecting more people than showed though so we ended up with a fridge that looks like this:

You all know how unusual this is and it makes me really uncomfortable.  I keep going in and triaging, moving things that look like they will go bad up to the top or front.  So far we haven't had to throw anything away but we'll see if we can make it through.  I used the pineapple in baked oatmeal (recipe to follow):

Oh and for those of you who are worried that I'm going full hog on the vegetarian bandwagon (pun intended), let my latest cookbook put your mind at ease:

We are splitting a pig from a local farmer this fall with our friends Michelle and Dave.  Michelle gave me this cookbook and I burst out laughing!  The pig that will be in our freezer this fall is currently hanging out on a small farm: eating whey, rooting, and playing with goats.  He'll have a bad day and we'll pick him up in pieces from the butcher.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer Reading

I love to read, and is in fact what I do most of the day.  I will admit that the stuff I read for fun does not (often) make me smarter, but it definitely entertains me.  When I'm in the middle of a good book, reading is all I want to do.  I get grumpy when I have to go to work, walk the dogs, eat, talk to Kevin or do anything else.  I just want to finish the book!

Here is what I've been reading this summer that I will recommend:


The last Sookie Stackhouse novel! If you haven't read this series, you have lots of good reading time ahead of you.  Even if you watch True Blood on HBO, you should read this.  HBO doesn't follow the books' story lines at all.  Some overall themes might be the same, but there are different characters and different stories.  HBO did this really well and the fact they are different, but both good, has made me excited to both watch the show and read the books.


The beautiful creatures trilogy.  I will admit I heard of this book when I saw a preview for the movie.  This is how I often find books to read.  I haven't watched the movie yet, but the first two books were good.  I am looking forward to the last one.

And one book that might make me a bit smarter (or just annoying):


Cooked, by Michael Pollan.  The book is broken into four parts: fire, water, air, earth.  The fire (all about bbq) and water (all about cooking) were not that interesting to me.  Air (about bread baking) was okay.  The earth part - about all good bacteria and how we are just discovering what it does for us - blew my mind.  Michael Pollan, once again changing my life.  I was totally entranced and kept reading aloud parts to Kevin (he was thrilled, let me tell you).  Do you know that breast milk contains oligosaccharides, which infants can't digest? For years researchers could not figure out why.  Breast milk is the perfect human food, and we have naturally selected out anything not necessary because of the toll it takes on women to produce (why waste energy producing something unnecessary).  So the oligosaccharides was a stumper.  Researchers now think we produce this to feed the good bacteria! So that bacteria has the ability to set up shop in our guts before the more unsavory ones do.  I'm totally fascinated by this and the theory that we have made ourselves too clean.  That we should not be eradicating all bacteria - some of them we need to be healthy. Here is an article he wrote for the NYT if you are interested but don't want to get the book.

I've been talking about it basically nonstop (hence the annoying part).  Our social calendar has been pretty bare lately, hopefully this is just correlation and not caused by our friends being sick of me talking about bacteria :)

Anyway, I'm always on the lookout for good books. If you've read something good lately, let me know!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Adventures in Vegetarian Cooking: Roasted Portabellos with Sweets and Beets

I love beets and sweet potatoes.  Anything that tastes like candy but counts as a vegetable gets a gold star from me.  One of my favorite ways to eat them is to roast them together.  I call it sweets and beets (after the Terra chips).  I love them so much that I will brave 90 degree weather to cook them.  I was pretty hot and grumpy by the end of it - so probably not the best recipe for a hot summer day.  Fall would be a better time for this recipe.

First I sauteed some scapes and scallions (about three of each) in olive oil.
 Then I added the sweets potatoes and beets.  If you roast beets by themselves you don't have to peel them, just throw them in the pot.  By the time they are cooked the peels will slip right off.  I always peel them because I roast them with the sweet potatoes. 
 I basted the mushrooms in olive oil, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar

 The sweets and beets took about 40 minutes, the mushrooms took about 25 at 425 degrees.  To get some protein/grains we tried Trader Joe's Harvest Grains.  It was a mix of orzo, couscous, garbanzo beans, and quinoa. 

I initially made it with just salt, pepper, and butter.  It was a bit bland so I went to my go to spice, which (as always) made it great:

We both loved it and come fall, it will be on regular rotation in our house:

I generally don't write out recipes here b/c of copyright.  If I'm following other people's recipes to the T, I don't want to run the risk of infringing their copyright.  So I prefer just to link back to them if the recipe is online or mention where I got the recipe from, if you are inspired to try it.  But this recipe is mine, so I'll give writing an actual recipe a try.

For the sweets and beets:
1/4 cup scapes cut into 1/2 inch strips (or two-three garlic cloves, minced)
1/4 cup scallions cut into 1/2 inch strips (or 1/2 a large onion, diced)
8-12 medium beets, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
Salt and pepper to taste

For the mushrooms:
2 large portabello mushrom caps, stems removed
1/2 T rosemary
1/2 T thyme
1 T olive oil
1/2 T balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

For the grains
1/2 package Trader Joe's Harvest Grains blend
Chicken broth or Vegetable broth or water
1 T butter**
1 T garam marsala Indian spice blend
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425.  In a large, oven safe pan* sautee the scapes and scallions in olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Add the beets, sweet potatoes and salt and pepper.  Mix to coat evenly with oil and place pan in oven.  Stir and check every 20 minutes.  It should be done in 40-60 minutes.  You are looking for the vegetables to be soft to the touch and some of the sweet potatoes should be slightly brown (carmelized).

Season both sides of the mushrooms with the rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vingear.  Place the mushrooms top side down on a cookie sheet (you might want to line with tin foil to avoid having to scrub your cookie sheet later).  Place in oven for 20-25 minutes, flip once.

Follow the package directions of the Harvest Grains.  Add salt pepper and garam marsala once cooked. 

*I used a cast iron dutch oven but if you don't have something that can go from stovetop to oven you can sautee in separate pan and then transfer to an oven save dish
**If you use vegetable broth or water and coconut oil (or other butter substitute) this recipe would be VEGAN!

Monday, July 8, 2013

So this happened

I told you she was promoted to first class citizen.  This kitty has also been eating salmon, tuna, pork and chicken on the regular.  Her last few months of life are going to be good ones.

Kinsey and Roxy did not know what to think.  They are not used to being left behind.

Friday, July 5, 2013

House Tour Part 2.5

Some of the details I love (and hate) about the upstairs:

Accordion shutters and stain glass windows (love!).

Knickknack critters in the bathroom (hate!).  One thing I learned about Kevin upon moving into this house is that he has a lot of figurines, including these critters that live in our bathroom.  I am not crazy about them but Kevin tells me that marriage is about compromise and I can't get my way all the time (hate!).

Kinsey and Pippa following me around and playing while I take pictures (love!).