Tuesday, October 29, 2013

This Past Week in Pictures

 Hi Interweb friends,

I'm really settling in to New Hampshire life, and I'm at peace.  Naturally with the colder temps, I'm feeling more inspired in the kitchen.  Here are some pics of a breakfast and dinner from this past week.

The first is Banana Steel Cut Oat Casserole  (modified from this recipe found here http://findyourhealthyhaven.com/2013/02/25/blueberry-banana-steel-cut-oatmeal-bake/  )

Boil 2 cups of water and 2 cups of almond milk (I use vanilla UNSWEETENED in most of my recipes) and then cook 1 cup of organic steel cut oats in it (the longer cooking oats, not the quick cook).  I also added several tablespoons of cinnamon, and a teaspoon of organic almond extract to the mixture, as well as a 1/2 tsp of baking powder (aluminum free) and 1 tbsp of chia seed and 1 tbsp of flax seed.  Cook the oats until they are fairly well done and not too full of liquid (for me, that was about 20 minutes since I used the full cooking version of the oats.)   Now came the tricky part.  The original recipe said to add 2 egg whites, but I have no issue with yolks and just wanted to add one whole egg instead, however, even after removing from the heat, the egg pieces cooked immediately.   When I make this again, I will let the oats sit for several minutes off of the heat before I add the egg.   Meanwhile, I had sliced four bananas that I had previously frozen (see that yucky mess of peels on the cutting board in my pic!) and placed them in the oiled bottom (NON Gmo Canola) of a 9x13 pan.  I sprinkled a bunch more cinnamon and nutmeg on the bananas (did not measure, I love spices) and then poured the oat mixture on top of it.   The original recipe called for drizzling agave nectar on the top, but for me it was a no brainer to drizzle organic maple syrup (the real stuff, not some Log Cabin lookalike.)   I baked in an oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees, and it was super yummy.  I froze individual portions to heat later. 

My second concoction this week was pizza.  I adore pizza.  Yes, I want to move to a clean eating lifestyle.  But I have to have pizza, and I personally see nothing wrong with whole wheat.  I don't have a gluten intolerance, and yes, I work in organic foods so I've listened to the debates as to whether we should ALL remove gluten from our diets anyway.  But, I know take out is horrible for me, so this is my compromise.  I used Cucina Antica Sauce (full disclosure, my brokerage represents them) because they are such an authentic, low sugar pasta sauce that might as well be crushed tomatoes with seasonings because they are such a rustic, clean brand.  (Incidentally, they are coming out with Organico Bello, which is a similar pasta sauce concept only certified organic.)   Anyway, I used wheat refrigerated pizza dough from the deli section of the store (short-cut, #semi-homemade) and layered that with the sauce, a ton of organic dried basil (fresh would have been better) and then cut up two sausage links from Al Fresco's chicken sausage line (sweet italian sausage flavor).  Lastly, I dropped pieces of mozzarella I shaved off a chunk.  Fresh mozz is even better though.  I like using this method, because it saves calories to not cover the entire thing in cheese.  And there you go.  I baked it at 450 degrees on my oiled (organic 365 brand EVOO) Pampered Chef pizza stone for 15 minutes.  Yummers.

 The rest of this grouping is just some pictures I have taken on recent bike rides.  Yes, I am finally getting use out of that Specialized Mountain Bike I bought this past summer.  The rails to trails starts right across from my apartment, and I am loving the New England, late Autumn scenery here in New Hampshire.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Apartment Tour: Small Space Decorating

Who is ready for a virtual tour of the new digs?  It only took me twenty days to get this to you.  You know what that really means: it took twenty days for this place to be in any state of picture perfect readiness.

Before I show you the pics, I want to talk about details.  I really think they make a home.  Attention to detail is key IF You are the sort of person who wants their space to reflect who they are.  And I think it can be done cheaply.  While I fully plan to eventually graduate to a home full of decent quality furniture (like a real grownup), I will NEVER be the type of person to spend a ton on decor details when there are so many good finds to be found at local department stores, discount stores, flea markets, and even craft shops.  Truly, honestly, let me tell you: I know we are all supposed to hate Target and Walmart and IKEA, and while I acknowledge that those who dislike them make very valid points, I say we have to be realistic.  As a person who is artisinally (making up words now) oriented, I get it.  If I could afford to buy everything on etsy or by local handiwork artisans and craftsman, I absolutely would.  I support small business.  I still aspire to get there.  In the meantime, I use the cheapo places to express myself.

I also want to talk about making a rental space a home.  It's important.  I was a homeowner.  Pre-divorce, I loved my space.  Losing it was one of the most devastating things that has happened to me: not because I am shallow but because it was my safety zone.  And as most of you know from reading, re-finding that sense of "home" has been a super big challenge for me these past four years.  Not easy.  But I think I'm there now.  I am loving this place.  It's cosy, it has a functional layout, and for the most part it was a neutral canvas.  Making a rental space feel like a well put together home can be especially challenging when dealing with the idiosyncracies and inevitable oddities that are typical of the rental space.  But it can be done!  It can be done.

And, you will notice immediately, that post divorce I unabashedly decorate in an uber feminine way.  It's in part defiance, but also part of the process of getting to know myself.  My style is evolving.  It used to be starkly modern.  My color preferences are always bold, but I like to think I bring them down to earth with my use of black and white to contrast.  I really think that only ONE bold color should be used in a space, and it can be anchored with neutrals.  I do layer patterns, but only in similar colors.  I do focus on the details.  And you might notice that this new space, while still incorporating my previous grouping of modern, contemporary, and geometric pieces, it also has a new, country flair.  The curtains aren't quite toile, but they are definitely French Country inspired.  And a few pieces, such as the frame I used for Micah's picture, the "PEACE" text decoration near the tv, the dining room table runner and the french country red mugs from HomeGoods bring in updated country touches of rustic red (gingham, distressed paint finishes, birds.)  I almost bought a white plaster rooster from HomeGoods.  Almost.  Maybe next time.

bedding from amazon.com

HomeGoods dress form: $49.99: it's perfect for displaying the infinity scarves I crocheted.

Pink frame from Target's "Room Essentials" brand, pillars wrapped in damask duct tape
Lamp from Target "Room Essential" a few years back, pink basket is also Target "Room Essentials"

lampshade, Walmart Better Homes line ($8 and some change) and pink jar candle is IKEA (.99 cents)
Birthday present from Mom (from Michael's crafts, french bin I am storing paints in)

reclaimed bench from Elephant's Trunk Flea Market, New Milford CT
Micah Kevin apple-picking!, photo courtesy of bro in law, David Whitney

letter "M" from Michael's crafts, painted red; candleholder from Partylite a few years ago
"PEACE" text in gingham, from Michael's crafts

baskets of future crochet projects

Curtains are discoed from the Target Threshold brand, pattern "Farrah" (so glad I bought them up)

Pinterest tip: use a small cake pedestal for dish soap and sponge
Wine Rack from Pier1, red office chair from IKEA, tea towel from Target
Table runner via Target Threshold brand, Candelabra is a church sale find spray painted black
Mugs via Christmas Tree Shops, and HomeGoods and IKEA
Cookie Jar via Pier1, canisters via IKEA, utensil can via HomeGoods, red pitcher is an antiques shop find

Target "Dwell Studio" shower curtain
Bath accessories from Target's now defunct "Dwell Studio" line

towels via Kohls (white one) and IKEA (pink)