Friday, May 28, 2010


Ever heard of quinoa?  How about keen-wah?  "Keen-wah" is actually how you pronounce quinoa.  Quinoa is an ancient grain, one of the staple foods of the Incas.  It is a whole grain, gluten-free, a good source of fiber, and high in protein.  Not only that, but unlike most plant foods, it is a complete protein.  In short, it's good for you.

I first heard about it a decade or more ago in some healthfood-type publication.  But I didn't get around to trying it until today.  For being such nutrition powerhouse, it seems to be largely unknown except by those of the vegan/vegetarian persuasion, and it isn't widely available in supermarkets.  I got mine in bulk at Whole Foods.  The dry grain is tiny and round, and is cooked in a manner similar to rice.

I cooked up a pot this afternoon (rinse the dry grain first, bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add 1 cup of quinoa, turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes).  I served it with dinner, for the kids with just a little butter and salt, and surprise, surprise!  they liked it! They don't particularly care for rice or couscous, so I was pleased.  It has a mild flavor and a texture similar to couscous.

For myself and Craig, I looked at several recipes on allrecipes and kind of combined a few of them into this:
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 cup peeled, chopped cucumber
2 Tbsp chopped green onion
For dressing, mix together:
1/4 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp lime juice
2-3 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
Pour dressing over quinoa mixture and combine.  Chill. Makes about 3 cups.

I served it over a bed of spinach.  It was light, flavorful and summery.  It would be a good dish to take to a potluck or picnic instead of pasta salad.  I'm glad I gave it a shot, and I will definitely be trying more recipes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

First Harvest

Our square foot garden is doing quite well.  We actually had been kind of ignoring it for a couple of weeks because it was so rainy, but after a few days of hot and sunny this week, we went down to check it out last night.

Early April...I think there are a couple of things planted based on the tongue depressor markers.


Craig started the cauliflower from seed back in February.

I forget what Craig is going to plant in the empty boxes, but he's planning to do some work on it this weekend, including building a trellis for the snap peas.  You can see that the garden is virtually weed free, even though we have done absolutely no weeding.  That was one of the stated advantages of square foot gardening, and it appears to be true.

Last night I harvested a few of the outer swiss chard leaves.

Then I chopped them up and quickly sauteed them in a little olive oil and added a dash of sea salt.  Pinkerbelle and I thought it was delish!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Back at the Farm....

I was going to show you Sarah's mudroom yesterday, but the post got kind of long, so I decided to do it on its own because it's so awesome (or "allsome", as Pinkerbelle would say).

I have always wanted a mudroom, and I finally got one in our current house.  It's a little room just inside the garage door that would have been the laundry room had we not put it (the laundry) on the second floor.  I do indeed love having a mudroom, but mine has no plumbing and no natural's just a box.

Sarah's mudroom is no box.  It's bright, it has character, and it's gorgeous.  I love the painted paneling, the tumbled travertine floors ("the color of dried mud" Sarah says), and the red doors!  They're just perfect.  This is actually the main entrance of the house, so it needed to make a welcoming statement, as well as corral the boots and coats.

Sarah bought the white bench at a flea market (bottom left in first photo).


The light fixture was an old outdoor lantern that once sat on a post; Sarah had it rewired to hang from the ceiling.  The chest between the two closets was another flea market find.

There is a powder room to the left of the entrance door.  I love the antique table she turned into a vanity for the sink, but I'm not crazy about the wallpaper.  I feel like the lavender is a strange color choice connected to the room of reds.  But maybe that's why I'm not the designer.

I love Sarah's style, but we would disagree on what constitutes a good deal.  The white bench?  She "bargained" them down to $175.  And the chest between the closet was $600 (then she found out it's not even really very old).  I'm seriously thinking I could have found comparable pieces either on craigslist or at my thrift stores for under $100.  Then again, her budget for the whole purchase and reno of the house was $1.1 million, so I guess it's all a matter of perspective.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sarah's House is Farm-tabulous!

Several months ago, you may recall, I became enamored with Sarah Richardson.  Her shows about rehabbing and decorating houses in Ontario hit the airwaves on HGTV Canada, and eventually make their way across the border to us.  (BTW, I discovered that HGTV Canada will not allow episodes to be played on non-Canadian computers.  What's up with that?  Or is it just my computer?  Anybody else have any luck?)

Anyway, she's back this spring with a century-old farmhouse some 3 hours outside of Toronto.  I loved her other houses, but this one makes me green with envy.

Growing up in Ontario, I saw hundreds of similar farmhouses, and it holds a certain nostalgia for me.  In fact, my original blog header used a photo of an old Ontario farmhouse, though that one wasn't brick.  I do love the brick, and look at the detail here:  the decorative line around the house and arch above the rounded-top windows.  You just don't see that these days.

Sarah gutted the entire house, and also added an addition that doubled the size, which meant that she could then use a huge portion of the original first floor just for the kitchen.  The island itself is 5ftx9ft.

The cabinets are from Ikea, then custom spray-lacquered.

Her use of modern amenities with vintage touches keeps the kitchen looking fresh, but farm-house appropriate.  She refinished the original wood floors, and in this photo, the corbels are architectural salvage, and the pendant light is vintage mercury glass.

At the end of the island is this little seating area.  I don't think I need to tell you how much I love that old lunch sign.

Quite possibly one of my favorite features is the staircase off the kitchen. Love the painted runner and the fun use of address numbers.

My son saw these photos and said "are we doing that to the kitchen?".  I wish, my child.  I wish!
And just wait til you see her mudroom!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Thrifty Thursday Party

So, today's the party!  The purpose is to share money saving tips and ideas with others...a great sale at a major chain store, an economical recipe, a household tip for turning straw into know, stuff like that.

Now that I'm thinking about it, mine may not be all that exciting.  But who knows, we were pretty stoked about it, so maybe we're not the only ones.

Craig and the kids like to use Breathe Right nasal strips when they have a cold.  More recently, though, Craig has discovered that he likes to use one every night; he has a deviated septum, and it helps him breathe more freely during the night.  Walmart sells them for about $5 for a pack of 12, or about $10 for a pack of 30.
Last week I was at Dollar Tree, and they had packs of 12 genuine Breathe Right strips for, yup, $1!  That's a significant savings.  I bought them out of Craig's size (he, um, needs large) and got several of the small to medium for the rest of us to use for colds.  If you use these on a regular basis, or even just for the occasional stuffy nose, it's worth checking your local DT

Time to link up.  I know I didn't give much advance notice, but I hope there's a few of you out there who would like to join.

1. Enter the link to your specific Thrifty Thursday post, not your blog homepage.

2.  Please make sure your post is relevant to the party theme.

3. Please link back to me (I'll try to come up with a button if I decide to make this regular).

4. Please visit the other party participants and leave them a comment.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Get Ready to Party!

Hey, guess what I did today?!

I went to the thrift store!  I've been a few times since Christmas, but only a handful.  When I have been, I've been way more discriminating with my purchases; several times, I walked out with nothing.

Today I found a package of brand new Oneida stainless flatware for children.  There were four fork and spoon sets:  two for toddlers, and two for older children.  The whole package was $2.99!  I like to give silverware for baby gifts; should the mother be so inclined, it makes a nice keepsake.  I still have a couple that were mine when I was a baby, and they're pretty special to me.  One of these will go to Pinkerbelle's teacher, who just returned from maternity leave.

My other find was this old kitchen scale.  It was only $10, which is a pretty good price for one of these. 

Remember a couple of months ago when I broached the idea of a Thrifty Thursday party?  I think I'll give it a go this week.  This will be broader than my Thrift Store Thursdays.  I'd like to keep the focus more on money-saving tips and ideas.

So, for the purposes of this party, my kitchen scale wouldn't really be the best entry, because it doesn't help anybody else.  Now, if you found something at a way low price at Target, that another blogger may be able to find at their local store, that would work.  Low-cost recipes or other economical household tips are fair game.  If it saves you money, and would help someone else do the same, share it!

See you back here Thursday, and feel free to spread the word!

Monday, May 10, 2010

In My Mailbox

I'm sure most of you know about the Ballard Designs catalog.  It's kind of like Pottery Barn, in that it's got lots of drool-worthy photos of stuff we love but most of us can't afford.

Look at the planked walls.  Told you they were popping up everywhere!

The Style Studio on the website is fun:  you can email in decorating dilemmas, read how-to articles, or see photos submitted by Ballard customers.  The catalog itself is a great place to get ideas.  If you're not on their mailing list and would like to be, request a catalog.

I have to admit, though, that when the most recent catalog arrived last week, I was most excited by the little subscription card that fell out.  Two years of Southern Living for $10!  That's a smokin' hot deal that only crops up once in a while.  Southern Living has great recipes and decorating ideas.  Reading it always makes me kind of wish that my grandparents (one on each side) had stayed in the south instead of becoming yankees.  (Okay, I understand that had that happened I wouldn't exist, but you catch my drift.)

I wish I could figure out how to share that deal with you, but it's not currently listed at that price anywhere online.  Amazon has a two-year sub for $19.97, which is still pretty good.  At the very least, be sure to sign up for your free Ballard catalog!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Smooth Operator

Have you tried Smooth Away?  I'm a pretty skeptical person, particularly of As Seen on TV type stuff, so even though it looked interesting, I wasn't going to waste my money on it.  I checked the reviews, too, and they weren't great, which only reinforced my position.

Then a couple of weeks ago at Target, I noticed that the price had gone down from $9.99 to $4.99, and I decided to give it a try.  (Incidentally, shortly after I purchased it, I saw a coupon for either $2 or $3 off.  I can't remember if it was in the Sunday fliers or a magazine, or how long it was valid for, but I though I'd just let you know it's out there in case you're interested.)

I was a little bit surprised to find that it actually a manner of speaking.  I need to throw out some disclaimers here.  I only used it on my legs, and only from the knee down.  It had probably been 2-3 days since I shaved, and the hair on my legs is light and fine.  I cannot vouch for dark or coarse leg hair, or for any other area of the body.  (I recently discovered that my dad reads my blog from time to time, and I feel weird mentioning any of those other areas by name.)

I thought the pink things, which according to the website are actually just called the large or small Smooth Away, would be flexible to sort of mold to the shape of the leg or other body part.  But they're quite rigid; it seemed like you'd get more contact area if they were flexible.  The gray pads stick to the pink things, and are kind of like very, very fine sandpaper.  ETA:  I'm going to amend this because 'sandpaper' isn't quite accurate, and may be off-putting.  There is an extremely fine texture to the gray pads, but it's not going cause abrasions or anything like that.

Just buff in a circular motion, both directions.  My legs were indeed smooth, and it exfoliated at the same time.  I used lotion afterward.  The first time I used it, I did have a slight razor burn feeling, but haven't had it since.  It's not going to replace a razor for me, but it'll be handy for in between touch-ups.

Just thought you might be interested, in case you're a skeptic like me.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Featured Blog: Snapshots from my Heart & Home

I haven't done a Monday feature in a while, but I decided to dust it off this week when I met Mary Joy.  She was a new reader who left a comment, and when I visited her blog, she just seemed so encouraging and welcoming that I thought I'd "share" her with you!

Mary Joy has just recently begun her blog, Snapshots from my Heart & Home.  (However, she also has another site that she shares with her husband, called Life Interrupted.)  She's had some big events in her life in the past month, like eloping (how romantic!), and moving with her blended family into a new home.

 The Bride and Groom

The happy new family

.The new abode

She shares her "before" pictures and promises to show the "afters" as they become available.  Her new hubby has given her free rein in the decorating department.  I know we all love a good transformation, so it should be fun to see how Mary Joy makes her new house a home for her new family!

Mary Joy's faith really shines I said, I found her very encouraging.  I particularly liked her post about being a Proverbs 31 woman, and not allowing perfectionism or comparing ourselves to others to keep us from being the woman God wants us to be with His help.

From that same post, I just had to share with you the words of her then soon-to-be husband: 
“Mary Joy…you have done a great job of finding a home for our family and dealing with the negotiating of the details.  I completely trusted you to do it.  I knew you were the best one to take care of it because you are a true Proverbs 31 woman.”
What beautiful and loving words of praise!  He's a keeper, Mary Joy!

Please go visit Mary Joy, leave her a comment, maybe even sign up as a follower.  I know you will want to encourage her in her journey!