Monday, August 31, 2015

Super-Easy Veggie "Chili"

Okay, I was going to write about more home-improvement DIY type projects, but I thought I'd take a little break and talk about food instead, because you know, everybody's got to eat.
So today, rather than regal you with tales of my DIY prowess, I'm going to share a quick, easy and absolutely delicious recipe with you. Because I like food, and I think you probably like food too, and I especially like food that is quick and easy to make.

So, without further ado:

Super-Easy Vegetarian "Chili"

First of all, I'm putting chili in quotes because this is not going to be the type of chili you cook and simmer for hours, so therefore, some people might say it's not "real" chili. I don't care. It's yummy, and I enjoy eating it. So there. Second, YES! this is vegetarian! You could easily add meat though, if you are so inclined. My husband and I are not vegetarians, but we do like to have a lot of meat-free dishes. Why? 1, because meat is expensive, and we can't really afford to be eating it every single night. 2. because we keep kosher, and can't mix milk and meat. So if we want our food to be cheesy, we go vegetarian.
Alright, enough chat, on with the recipe! You will need...
  • 1 package (~16oz) Morningstar Farms Crumbles (you could substitute any veggie-meat you like, or real meat!)
  • 1/2 can cooked kidney beans
  • 1/2 can cooked cannellini beans
  • 1/2 can diced tomatoes (if you can get the kind with chilies in them, good!)
  • 1/8 or 1/4 tsp chili powder: depending on how spicy you want it
  • 2-3 tbsp. tomato paste: to thicken it up
Now this recipe is really complicated, so pay attention:
Step 1: Put everything in a pot, and stir over med-high heat until cooked and delicious.
Got it? I know, I know, so much work. But trust me, it's worth it. ;op Seriously though, this is such a quick and easy meal, I can't even tell you how much I love it. Now, if you are using real meat, you might need to cook things a bit longer, to ensure that your meat is cooked through. Since I use veggie-meat, I don't worry as much about this, and really just heat & stir until things are nice and hot.
If you want to make your meal extra yum, you can serve it with cornbread. I'm not going to give you my recipe, since I just use the one that comes on the can of corn-meal, and besides, I'm sure Pinterest has one or two recipes you could try.
Okay, so that's it! My super-easy vegetarian "chili". Feel free to substitute anything you want. More beans, less tomato, more spices, whatever! If you make changes, and it comes out good, let me know here in the comments! I'd love to see what you guys can do with such a basic simple recipe, and I'll try your substitutions if they sound yummy to me!
Stay tuned next time for more DIY, and maybe some cooking. We'll see.

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Little Paint (and Blinds) Go a Long Way...

It's amazing what a difference a little paint will make on a house. When we first looked at our new house, we tried to see its potential, but it was hard to get past the drab and boring walls. We knew that if we bought it, we were going to have to paint, like, right away.

And we did! And it made a huge difference!

Not only did it transform our walls from drab to fab (sorry, couldn't resist), but it was the first real step towards making this space feel like it actually belongs to us. Our apartment took a very long time to feel like "home" to me; bu despite the fact that we've only lived in the house for 3 weeks (and we were out of town for 10 days of that), and its still full of mess and boxes, it already feels like we've always lived here; and I think a lot of that is because we put our "stamp" on this property right away. That way, by the time we started actually like, moving our furniture in, the place already felt homey and familiar.

So, this won't be a long post, but I just wanted to share a few of the color choice we made, and show you how just a little bit of paint made our house feel so much more like a home.

Living room

Bedroom (converted attic)

I've got two other rooms to show you guys, but I think I'm going to save them for the next post because, well... you'll see!

We also put up blinds before we moved in, so that we could work on the house without passers-by wandering up to our windows and pressing their faces up against the glass for a better look (I'm just kidding, no one did that). And as my husband pointed out "it makes the house look less like a... uh... fishbowl." Always a good thing.
We installed the blinds ourselves, and after a bit of back and forth to Home Depot (3 trips in 1 day!), it was actually fairly cheap, and really easy to do. I'm not going to go over the steps, because blind kits come with instructions, and the whole process was actually super easy. I will show you some pictures though:

And that's about it for today. Stay tuned for more DIY home-improvement projects, and some Pennsic blogging, and general nonsense. You know, the usual.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Front Flower-Bed Fix-Up Finished!

Hey there loyal readers! I know I haven't blogged in a long time, and I'm sorry for that, I really am. I love blogging, and sharing all of our projects with you, I've just been a bit too busy.
We had a lot of projects that needed to get done at the house, and most of them (like painting and cleaning) needed to get done before we could move in, and since we were under a bit of a time crunch... well... things didn't get blogged about.

But don't worry, I took pictures, and will be blogging about all of the projects that I need to catch you guys up on over the next month or so. And I want to start (finally) with the raised flower-bed/retaining wall fix-up, which is finished!

So, just to refresh your memory, this is what we started out with:

So, we dug out the ugly black plastic that wasn't doing anyone any good, and tossed it. Then we moved all of the pavers to the side so that we could start trenching out the spot where they would get put back.
After trenching, we tamped down the earth, and attempted to get the ground to be nice and level for putting our first course of bricks on. I already blogged about this here, so I'm not going to go into too many details.

Next it was time to lay out the first course of bricks, and make sure that they were nice and level. This didn't take too much time, but we ended up getting stuck here for a bit. We laid out the first course, and then... didn't have time to get back to it for a few weeks. See, we had to have the house painted and cleaned so that we could move in before the lease was up on our apartment (we didn't want to have to pay and fees, or another month's rent), so the outdoor projects kind of took a back seat to that.

We finally did get around to laying out the next course though. We put down some landscaping cloth to prevent weeds from growing up in between the layers of bricks (though looking back, I might skip this step next time, as it was kind of a pain in the ass, and doesn't seem to be working all that well), and then we glued on the next course of bricks, offsetting them by one brick. To do this we used construction adhesive, specifically branded for concrete (you can pick it up at your local hardware store for ~$5-$8, and it fits into a standard caulking gun).

We set them down, and left them alone for a bit to dry (it helps to do it on a nice sunny, dry day), and when everything was ready, we glued down the third course. I sadly do not have any pictures of us gluing down the second or third courses of bricks, but it's pretty simple to do, and if you guys have any questions, drop a comment and I'd be happy to help!

I do however have a lovely picture of the finished product! Doesn't that look so much better? It took a lot longer than we had originally thought (mostly because we ended up having to take time to work on other projects), and it didn't go as smoothly as planned, but it got done! And I'm pretty damned proud of how it turned out, especially when you look at it next to our "before" picture. As I said, yikes.

Now, we're not quite done, you see, we have two flower beds in the front, and while we've pulled all of the pavers out of the right-side flower bed, that's about all we've done so far. So, as soon as we have a chance (and maybe we'll have to wait for the weather to get just a little bit cooler), we can start on the right-side flower-bed, and then we'll really be done. For now. With this project. Ah, the never-ending joys of home ownership.

A little preview, all of the brick pavers we have to use to make the right-side flower-bed:

wish us luck...