24 June 2009

Home Sweet...

I love love LOVE the handmade block printed textiles that Home Sweet creates for the home. She makes plain fabrics, pillowcases, table linens and lampshades. And, as is almost always the case with Etsy sellers, if you don't see something exactly matching your tastes, she offers custom work.

22 June 2009

What I'm Cooking: Vegetarian Week

Each week, my meal planning tends to naturally fall into a theme to make the most of the ingredients I'm buying. This week, it's vegetarian week. While I'm nowhere near a full time vegetarian, I like to designate a few days now and again to being one. If there's one thing I sympathize with vegetarianism, it's the added struggle of finding new, exciting, varied recipes to try. Here are two of my favorites, one that I've made for years and one that I just created, well, today.

The first is Spinach and Mushroom Fritters

For one person, you'll need:

-about a half a pound of spinach
-three or four white mushrooms
-a pat of butter
-canola oil
-a half of an onion or shallot
-1/4 c bread crumbs with herbs (or an equivalent amount of fresh chopped herbs like parsley, basil, thyme etc)
-an egg
-1/4 cup of flour
-1 tbsp Parmesan (can be more)

  1. Melt butter in frying pan over low heat. Chop onion and toss in pan, cook until translucent. Then add spinach and chopped mushrooms and cook down.
  2. In a bowl, whisk egg, then whisk in flour, cheese, salt and pepper and breadcrumbs or herbs.
  3. Chop spinach and fold into batter.
  4. Heat oil in same pan and drop spoonfulls of batter into pan (I got three fritters with these amounts). Fry on both sides until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
The next, which I unfortunately don't have a picture for, is Zucchini Stuffed With Couscous

This recipe is perfect for playing around with, I've never made it the same way twice, but here are the basic ingredients for one or two servings (depending on how hungry you are):

-a fairly hefty zucchini with as even of a shape as you can find
-1/3 cup couscous
- 1 tbsp olive oil
-1 clove garlic
-1/4 cup chopped onions
- 3/4 cup chicken stock*

I usually add some chopped mushrooms, if I have some. This week, I'll probably add some chopped spinach that's leftover from the fritters. I also might try to shred some cheese over the boats. You can also add green peppers, cinnamon, breadcrumbs, chickpeas, feta...use your imagination.

*It was brought to my attention that chicken stock is, in fact, not a vegetarian ingredient. I've been pretty out of it lately and when I included that I stopped to think "oh, well, I guess it just won't be a vegan week then." Oops. The easy fix: substitute it with veggie broth and you're good to go.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly oil a baking dish
  2. Half the zucchini lengthwise and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake cut side down for 10-12 minutes, then reduce heat to 350.
  3. Scoop out the centers and chop pulp.
  4. Heat the oil over medium heat in the pan and brown the onion.
  5. Next, add the chopped zucchini, couscous, garlic and any other bigger ingredients you've chosen. Then add the chicken stock and chosen spices. Bring to a boil and cook covered for five minutes.
  6. Uncover, let cool. Spoon the mixture into the zucchini boats. Put them back in the pan, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

17 June 2009

Drumroll Please

After careful consideration, I have finally come up with a theme to base my decorating on for my room. Now it seems so obvious that I don't know why I didn't come up with it sooner: the sky. Yeah, I've been doing the celestial theme for a while now, but it's always been focused on night. I want my room to be much more inspired by the daytime. I want it to feel like I'm summering in my little house in the South of France instead of trudging through another Boston winter. The room is already painted a light blue with white moldings, so I'm going to carry the color theme over to white and blue, and then add a bird motif for the details. If you decide to follow a similar course, never fear, birds seem to be everywhere in home decor these days.

I started with the basics of furniture. This corner desk from Overstock.com opens up the space nicely and isn't too clunky. The dresser from Target is simple, clean and has enough room (maybe) for my clothes. And I love this sophisticated side table from Amazon. Obviously I'm missing a bed at the moment, but I plan on getting just a simple frame, nothing too exciting there.

Next were the accents. This clock from Etsy matches my color scheme and style perfectly. These sheets from Target aren't terribly thrilling, but I love the color and subtle embroidery detailing. If I wanted to go for the more artistic version of a clock, I'd go for this version from Urban Outfitters.

Then, the finishing touches. There were so many pieces of art featuring birds it was hard to choose. I like the idea of these wall decals , but I feel like I might be more comfortable with a lovely painting . This pretty hook is a must-have for keeping my bags and coats in order. I love that vintage birdcage look (I had to stop myself from looking through Ebay for actual vintage birdcages by reminding myself I'd have nowhere to put it).

It feels nice to have a real image and plan, like it's all really happening.

15 June 2009

Decorating for Less... Way Less

Recently, I've been seriously thinking about how I want my new room to look & what I'd like to put in it. I've gone through several floor plans, but I still wasn't sure exactly how to get everything I needed on a tight budget. I considered various options (mostly including Target and IKEA), but I knew that even their prices might push me too far.

I know that there must be others like me, so I thought I'd share my solutions.

1. Do It Yourself.
Instead of buying things already made, take the time to do it yourself. Not only is this usually a cheaper & more satisfying route, but it is also a way to ensure you get exactly what you want. For example, I found an interesting picture frame consisting of four different black frames glued together at Target. It would be perfect for my room, but I thought that it would be a fun (& cheaper) project to do myself. I'm also considering sewing my own duvet cover & curtains as well. Obviously these projects take a bit more time than driving to a store & laying out the cash, but they'll be well worth it.

2. Yard Sales.
They're not always a guarantee, but if you plan ahead & wake up early, you might be able to grab a few deals. I tried for the first time this past Saturday & despite the fact that I didn't have much time, I still managed to find a few things. A large picnic basket for my sewing supplies & a single serve George Foreman grill, each for two dollars. I used Craigslist's Garage & Moving Sales section with Google Maps to help plan my route. You can also check out your local paper's classified sections.

3. Freecycle.
A few days ago, I was encouraged to check out the Freecycle groups on Yahoo! Groups. The groups are created by area and are a way to find things you need or give things you don't need away for free. The Freecycle mission statement:
"Our mission is to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community." I ended up joining three in my area & on the very same day, I found a bedroom set. I only ended up taking a dresser & mirror, but both are real wood & will look incredible after a bit of fixing up. I've also seen offers for things like televisions, DVD players, & other useful items.

4. eBay.
I know that I've mentioned eBay before, but it really is a great way to decorate (or find just about anything). I want to fill my room with red votive candle holders next fall & eBay has plenty of deals. Make sure to check here for things you might need before splurging, especially if you need to buy several of something.

5. Craigslist.
Many people post things that they'd like to sell on Craigslist. Even though they're not free like Freecycle, it's definitely worth a look.

6. RetailMeNot.com.
If you're set on purchasing something from a store, however, make sure to check out this website. It's full of coupons, offers, & promotions that will help your wallet.

Good luck & happy hunting! :)

11 June 2009

Dror For Target

Let's be honest with ourselves. When most of us think about decorating, the immediate thought after that is "Ikea!" Well, Ikea may be good for some things but Target has extended their designer collaborations to home goodies and has immediately shifted my focus. During June and July, they're launching a limited collection of Dror designs in bedding, decorating and stationary with his innovative designs and Target's friendly price tags.

Stackable book cases, $89.99 per set

Collapsable clock, $24.99

Pillow, $19.99

File folders with lid, $11.99 each

Snazzy pencil case, $2.99

Perforated stick note pad (which I think is genius), $1.99