Friday, April 30, 2010

Books, Books and More Books!

I’m addicted to books. Buying, reading, storing, really anything having to do with all of the above! I just love taking a reading break and finding myself in places and situations that I will never have the opportunity to experience in real life. I love the twists and turns that plots take and how the characters have to step up to the plate or the world could end.

Last weekend was the Salt Lake City Public Library book sale. I was up at 5:30 on a Saturday because I was too excited to sleep anymore. So I hit up the book sale and walked away with $20 worth of books. Which isn’t so bad, until you realize the books were $0.50 for paper backs and $1.00 for hardbacks.

We don’t have room for these books. In fact we already have our shelves packed two books deep, with a huge stack of books on the ground in the living room. So why did I insist on buying more and increasing the problem? Because I have a dream of Ikea bookshelves!

Dave and I (mostly the latter) have a dream of having a wall of bookshelves in the Living Room. I want the ones that have cabinet doors on the bottom to keep little hands from one day messing with things. I’ve picked out the color and the handles, even the lighting that will stretch across the top to illuminate these wonders. And so I keep buying books and one day will have a place to put them!

Friday, April 16, 2010

In which we discuss how crunchy I am

Only recently I’ve realized I’m a little crunchy. You know granola? Don’t worry, I still shower and shave my legs, but I do little things to conserve energy and the environment. Here are a few examples:

  • I wash and re-use our ziplock bags until they get a hole,  slice through them, or until they are used on meat
  • Our trashcan is the same size as our recycle-can, and they’re right beside each other in the kitchen
  • We bought an energy star fridge for the basement apartment, and when our upstairs fridge dies, we plan to replace that with an energy efficient fridge
  • When we moved into the house we replaced all our inside bulbs with energy efficient bulbs
  • I bake all our bread so we get the raw nutrients in the natural wheat that I grind myself
  • We use organic brown rice for everything
  • We plan to grow our own tomatoes to make our own salsa
  • I’m excited to make our apricots into Apricot Jelly this fall
  • I want raspberry bushes so we can make raspberry jelly too
  • We shop at Thrift stores and like it
  • I plan to put our kids in cloth diapers
  • I lust after my Grandparent’s water saver washing machine, I think about it at least every time I wash clothes

Which leads me to my next crazy/granola idea: I want to put up a clothesline on our gazebo. Now I know that the best clotheslines are in direct sunlight, but I don’t want one in the middle of our already small yard. I also thought it would be convenient to have it under the gazebo because all we have to do is put in some rings, string it up, and it’s done! No installing poles in cement. Also, when it rains, I don’t have to freak out and quickly pull down all the already wet clothes. It just sounds like a great way to save a little more energy.

I don’t think I’ll put this project into effect until I’m no longer working, but we’ll see. I would love to save power now, but I don’t like the idea of hanging them up after washing on Wednesday nights and leaving them up until I get home from work the next day. But then again, it’s out of the way, it probably won’t be a problem, and I don’t think the bachelor neighbor next door will want to steal our clothes!

Also, eventually I need to decide how many rungs I’ll need to install to have enough space for all our clothes, and how much clothesline to buy. I’m thinking 6 on each side will do. I’ve read all about this on different sites, so I’m feeling pretty confident. It would be great if we could stop using the drier all together, but we’ll see!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Fish Experiment: Fillets and Spinach with Balsamic Vinagrette

I lost a lot of my fishy steam over the past few weeks. I decided Sunday it was time to dive back in again. When I went to the freezer I discovered that we only had 3 pieces of fish left! I thought it was rather fishy (I kill myself) since we should have had 8 pieces left. I think Dave and Cheyenne must have secretly cooked the fish Fridays while I was at work.

This recipe is FABULOUS! The Balsamic Vinegrette dressing hides almost all of the fishy taste, and is fabulous in and of itself. So fish lovers and haters, give it a whirl!

1 lb Fresh or frozen tilapia filets (cut 1 inch thick)
4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves 1/4 medium onion (cut into wedges)
1 medium red or yellow sweet pepper (cut into thin strips)
1/8 t. salt
1/8 t. black pepper
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. honey

In a large skillet cook 1 onion in 1 tablespoon hot olive oil over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes, or until tender and slightly golden. Add sweet peppers; cook and stir for 1 minute more.

Remove from heat, blot with paper towel, and mix with spinach in 4 separate bowls. Meanwhile, sprinkle fish with salt and black pepper.

In the same large skillet cook fish with remaining 2 tablespoons hot oil over medium heat for 4 minutes. Carefully turn fish. Cook fish 3 minutes more or until fish begins to flake when tested with a fork. Place fish on top of spinach mixture.

For vinaigrette, in a small bowl stir together balsamic vinegar and honey. Add to skillet. Cook and stir until heated through, scraping up any browned bits. Spoon vinaigrette over fish and spinach mixture (I cut up the fish before hand, because it sounded more eater-friendly).

So that's the last of the fish experiments. I've decided although I don't like fish in the least, I probably should eat and cook it more often. It is healthy after all... So eventually more will come. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Rain gutters save the day!

We had our rain gutters installed yesterday (horary for tax returns to finance them)! I feel so old and responsible when I get excited for something like rain gutters, but I really am ecstatic. Several problems were occurring because of our lack of gutters that this magically cured. First, when the rain falls off the roof it has been digging a trench in our flower beds on both sides of the house. This means I haven’t been able to plant our bulbs that we purchased yet, because every time it rained a trench would mess everything up. Second, at the far right side of the car port the run off rain was flowing down our only section of wooden fence causing it to grow mold. Gross, and not very good for the fence. I’m sure eventually we’ll have to take this wood out and replace it, but why not wait until later if possible? I called three places to come out and give us bids, Dave walked through the bid process with the contractors and selected one.My Grandparents just had their rain gutters installed in Hurricane, so we asked them around what price they had paid to get a feel for what we were getting ourselves into (their house is larger, so we were hoping to pay less than the $1,000 they paid for theirs). I was surprised with the different approach to this process. The first bidder gave us the best price ($530 for the whole house and car port), but he failed to plan for the electrical wires coming out of the back of the house, thus the need for a spout off each side of the back of the house. I mentioned this need when I called in, so he clearly should have been aware of it, even if he happened to not see the monstrosity of electric wiring. His lack of judgment kicked him out of the war for our money The second man’s bid was about $100 more than the first, but he not only mentioned the need for two rain gutters on the back, but also pointed out a need on the car port that we didn’t recognize ourselves. The final bid was $200 more than the second man, seemed equally competent, but couldn’t install for two weeks. Needless to say we chose man #2. What interests me the most, is that the economy is doing bad right now, each company has acknowledged that not only is this a slow time of year for them, but they’re doing especially bad for the season. You would think we would get competitive bids, and that they would be chomping at the bid to give the best assessment and do the best job possible! Oh well, we got our gutters and that’s what matters

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Easter Husky has come!

A week ago Cheyenne became our foster-dog! My Uncle James and Aunt Rebeccah Brown were re-stationed from Colorado to Washington, and won’t be able to start renting a home with a yard for the dog until their house in Colorado sells. So Dave and I agreed to take care of Cheyenne for a while. It took a little time for her to adjust, but now that she’s gotten used to Dave and I she seems a lot happier.

Dave and I are at work or school for the majority of the day, so Cheyenne spends the most of her time in the back yard. I’ve opened up the kids play house for her to seek shelter from the rain and snow. She has a queen size feather blanket in one corner that I found for free on Craigslist, food, water, and toys. But her favorite part about the back yard are the neighborhood cats!

We have two that live across the street along with two other dogs. Since they’ve been around dogs they are curious enough to keep coming back. When I come home and Cheyenne won’t come when I call chances are she’s watching one of the cats up our tree, on top of our shed, or perched on the play house staring down at her.  They like to watch each other (Cheyenne doesn’t bark, so I’m sure that helps the situation).

We’ve taken her over to Dave’s parent’s house to play with their black lab, Bailey. They seemed to enjoy tearing around the house and yard together. Every once in a while Bailey would bark because Cheyenne wasn’t paying enough attention to him. Oh dogs! What a mess they can be.

We purchased and installed some baby gates to keep her out of places she shouldn’t be in, and keep her out of trouble at night time. Here’s a picture of Cheyenne in our front entry way converted into Cheyenne’s bedroom. She likes her bed and will just go lay down if it gets too late at night and we haven’t gone to bed yet. She’s really good about laying down and not being too loud when the time comes to go to sleep.

Here comes the challenge... She periodically likes to dig in the yard! Any suggestions on what we can do to get her to stop?!? We've trained her to stay off the couches, keep out of the bedroom, even stay with me in the front yard when I'm weeding or head to the car or back yard by herself... but where to start training her not to dig... I think she's bored because we leave her home alone Monday through Thursday from 7am to 6pm. Any recommendations would be very helpful!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

One Man's Trash is Amy's Treasure!

Two weekends ago I went Antiquing with my Mom, Aunt Rebeccah, sister Sheila, Dave, and two of our friends that got stranded at the airport (DeLenna and Brandon). DeLenna and Brandon didn’t really have a choice but to come, because the shop was on the way, and Dave wanted to help me pick out a stained glass window. So I had much help in our search for the perfect window hanging!

My Mom and Aunt arrived first and scouted out the place. Sheila and I arrived second and really got to work! I was climbing behind dressers and wardrobes and sifting through broken glass and other items just to find the perfect piece for our kitchen. I was completely covered in dust and dirt, but in my insane pursuit I was able to find about 15 smaller stained glass windows that I liked. By that time Dave, De and Brandon arrived to help make the final decision.

Because the prices were so low (and I had unknown money from, we ended up getting one for the kitchen and one for the bedroom.

After we brought them home we decided if we were going to put up curtains (which we’ve been wanting to do for privacy since we moved in), now would be the time. So last weekend we went out and bought curtain rods for the kitchen and bedroom (thanks Ross for selling $7 a piece curtain rods, even if they’re not the cutest!), and curtains for the kitchen (we had the bedroom curtains from our apartment, we just hadn’t hung them up). Yesterday we got the one in the kitchen up! Here are the killer results:

For the kitchen I wanted it to match the green paint which the green, yellow, and blue glass does exactly!

I’m completely in love with both of these windows! Don’t they just complete the room? And to think, in England they're tearing these windows out because they want a more modern look! What are the British thinking?!?