Jul 28, 2010

Beef Burgundy.

Mmmm.  Mmmm.  Mmmm.

A few weeks ago I picked up the book "Eat Cheap but Eat Well" at my local library and was impressed by the number of easy, normal recipes inside.  I copied about 20 recipes so hopefully we'll be having a bunch of yummy food in the near future.

Tonight I tried out the first one.... Beef Burgundy.  The author's version of the classic French recipe Boeuf Bourguignonne (which you may remember from the movie Julie & Julia).

It was SUPER easy and may now be one of my favorite meals.  I always love recipes with a bit of gravy I can soak up with bread and this stew-ish dish had a sweet flavor that was unexpected and soooo good.

A few notes...
  • Since this was supposed to be a cheap dish I tried to remember the cost so I could share it.  The only items I had to buy were the beef ($4.29/lb - stew meat), carrots ($.50 - half a bag), and egg noodles ($1.20).  So that's what, about $6?
    That doesn't seem accurate because there are other ingredients but since the other items are things I always keep on hand I'm going to say that this is a pretty inexpensive meal.  Especially since I don't usually pay that much for a pound of stew meat and I think next time I will use 1/2 lb of meat since it seemed a little meaty to me.
  • I didn't use either the celery or the mushrooms.  So I didn't simmer it for the last 30 minutes after adding mushrooms.
  • The recipe calls for red burgundy wine.  We don't usually keep wine around the house so I used a bottle of marsala cooking wine that I had on hand.  Until a few months ago I didn't even know there was such a thing as cooking wine.  It is in the condiment aisle, it's cheap, it keeps longer, and for me (since we rarely have wine) it is a perfectly fine substitute.  
  • The recipe talks about the sauce being thick.  I didn't think it was thick at all but it was delicious anyway.

serves 4

2 tbsp butter
1 lb cubed lean beef (I used stew meat)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 large carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into bite size pieces
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 - 1/2 cups dry red wine
3/4 cups beef broth
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 pound white mushrooms, quartered or halved depending on size
1 bag of egg noodles (I only used 1/2 a bag) prepared per package instructions

Melt butter in a Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium heat.  Coat beef cubes with the flour.  Brown the beef in the pot, turning occasionally so that all sides brown.

Stir in the carrots, onion, celery, and garlic.  Cook for a few minutes.  Pour the wine and broth into the pot, then add the salt, thyme, and bay leaves.  Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 2 hours, adding more broth and/or wine if necessary to maintain a thick sauce.  Add the mushrooms and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.  Serve hot over egg noodles.

Jul 22, 2010

bargain delight.

Do you find curtains as difficult as I do?

It's so hard to find the perfect shade or print and then when you do they inevitably cost $80 a panel or some such nonsense.

Well our living room is a very neutral light khaki color with a green accent wall and I have been searching (and searching) for a patterned curtain with an ivory background and bits of red and green mixed with other colors.

I found this duvet cover from pottery barn that was PERFECT!  I was thinking I could buy the king version and cut it apart into curtains.  The only problem was that the duvet cover was $129, yikes!

So one day I decided to search through all of the Ebay listings for curtain panel pairs (yeah, there were like 39 pages of them).  It literally took me 2 hours but I ended up finding these...

...FOR $6.99!!!  I couldn't believe nobody else was bidding on them?!  I think they are even more perfect than the pottery barn ones would have been.

I am in love.  Can't wait to add some red to the room.  Maybe some pillow covers?  Also I have begun the search for artwork to put above the piano.  Something to incorporate all these colors without being too modern or too traditional.  And it needs to be reasonably priced.  Sounds like that's going to be a tough one.

Jul 20, 2010

the last big project.


This past weekend we decided to finally tackle the living room floors.  For those of you considering putting in wood floors at some point... think hard about that before you do it.  I'll go ahead and be super informative just in case you're wondering.

We have done laminate wood flooring before and found it fairly easy to install.  This go around we went for engineered wood (basically layers of real wood with a factory installed coating - as opposed to real wood which is one solid chunk of wood and sometimes you stain it after it is installed).   Engineered wood flooring can be sanded and refinished but only once or twice.  Also it does not expand/contract with the weather as much as solid hardwood flooring does - a definite plus.  Oh, and depending on the kind you get it is cheaper than wood (ours was definitely the cheaper kind).

Our room was 202 square feet and the wood was $1.49/sq ft at a local salvage place.  $300 +tax was such a deal compared to the prices we were seeing at Home Depot (which included installation).  So even though it cost about $100 to rent the equipment and buy staples we figured it just couldn't be that bad... and we plunged in.

In retrospect I should say that it probably wasn't that bad.  I mean, after all, it did only take 2 days (we weren't paying another day of rental fees!).  But there were definitely a couple of points (which I will describe later) where we both wanted to just give up and cover all the unfinished spots with furniture.

Worth it?  Yes.

Will we do it again?  I would love to say an emphatic "NO!" but given my husband's love of selling/buying houses and our mutual love of home improvements... yeah, we probably will.  But next time we will be experts!  Right?

I thought a little time lapse might be fun.  We'll start out at 2:08pm.  This is actually 6 hours into the project.  AFTER we previously laid these first rows with the groove facing the wrong way, AFTER John had to switch out our stapler for a more powerful one, AFTER John drove downtown to get some splice so that we wouldn't have to rip up the first rows we laid incorrectly, AFTER he came back home and found out those splices were too big and we ripped up the rows anyway, and AFTER we face nailed in the first 2 rows because they were to close to the wall for the stapler to fit.  So here goes...






12:05pm (next day)



Okay, I will interject here.  Notice the time difference between the last two photos?  If 4 1/2 hours seems like a long time for ONE row... it is.  Wanna know why?  (sure you do!)  Each row has to be fitted snugly to the previous row before it can be stapled in.  To do this we used a scrap board and hammer.  So when we got to the last row... right next to the wall... where we couldn't fit a hammer to get the rows snugly together... we were stuck.  We tried several different lever and crow bar scenarios.  None worked.  So I took a trip to Home Depot (and Lowes) to try to get some help.  No help (although I did find a rug and a curtain rod, go me!).  We finally ended up cutting off part of the groove and just kind of setting the board in - instead of using the tongue/groove system.  I realize none of that may have made any sense but it really makes me feel like I've accomplished something to write it all out.

6:55 pm (DONE!!)

And now, because no home improvement project is as enjoyable with out a little before and after, I give you... the transformation...

Before (previous owners)

During (painted)

After (ta-da!!)

Coming soon to my living room...

  • pictures on the walls
  • the curtains I found on Ebay for $6.99 and hopefully will love
  • the piano that has been living at my parents house for almost 2 years!
  • quarter round and other finishing touches for the floor
  • decorative pillows for the couch
  • accent chairs if I can ever find some I like for cheap on Craigslist

Wow.  This certainly was a thorough post.  If you are still here you should win a prize!

Jul 19, 2010

the bucket.

This is "the bucket."  The cleaning bucket.

Basically it contains ALL of the cleaning products (including gloves and sponges) needed to clean my house.  All I have to do is tote it from room to room as I clean.  Maybe this idea was obvious to some of you but it hit me like a ton of bricks one morning while I was watching Martha Stewart.  It has been my lifesaver and has forever changed how I feel about cleaning.

I had a fun chat with my college roomie this week about cleaning supplies (no really, I love to talk about cleaning) and thought I would post about my bucket.

It contains:

  • Pledge
  • Toilet cleaner
  • Sponges
  • A toothbrush
  • Gloves
  • Paper Towels
  • Comet
  • Windex
  • All purpose cleaner with bleach
  • A rag
  • Soft scrub
  • Room spray
  • Resolve carpet cleaner
So just in case you haven't heard of this (and especially if your home has stairs) you need to give the bucket a try!

Oh, and I also think the bucket is great when you have little kids because all of my cleaning supplies (except the specialty stuff) are in this on a higher up shelf in the hall closet or linen closet.  No chemicals under sinks where little hands can reach them.  My under sink area is for towels only and I never have to worry about Carson getting into it!  

Jul 9, 2010


We have a number of flowers in our yard that are beautiful, but I only know what one of them is officially called. Any help naming these flowers would be appreciated.

I know this one - Tiger Lilly.  Which I believe may have some pretty strong orange pollen.  When touched to a little boys hair - it makes him appear to have highlights. (a little cool looking)

This almost has a lilly type of stem, currently growing in what i hope to be my fire pit come winter.

This is a tree next to the covered porch. Just started blooming.

This is a vine in the front yard growing and weaving it's way through my hedges.

This looks like a tree right now. That's because someone planted it next to a 4x4 post and it now has a thick trunk and grows up like a tree and out like a vine.

And last, this great smelling purple flower.  Getting pretty big in size now.

If I could authorize a giveaway like Becky did for the first person to successfully name all of these flowers, I would.  But I can't.  So sorry.

Finished Tile!!!

I was a little disappointed to see that my finished tiling project was not posted on our (Becky's) blog.  So that none of you are upset about the lack of postings on the blog, since Becky is in Kentucky with her college girls, I will keep you updated as best I can.

This also carries into the entry way, no pictures, and I'm not getting out of the bed to take one.
Here is a before for comparison.

Beautiful isn't it. Toot-Toot.  That's me tooting my own horn.  I love tiling even though it's painful on my knees.

Jul 3, 2010

Tiling & Tote Bags

Boy have we been busy!

Tiling is ALMOST done.  We have a few more pieces to cut and then the grouting.  It already looks much better and cleaner!

A little before and (almost) after:

Tile is my absolute favorite flooring.  I love how cold it feels on your feet and how smooth it is.  I would tile my entire house but I am coming to realize that in Tennessee (as compared to Florida) tile isn't quite so popular.

So we are trying a new adventure... wood!  We did some laminate wood in our last house and liked the look and thanks to a good deal at a local salvage place we have picked up some hardwoods for the living room.  I'm a little nervous about whether we can handle it but I laid out a couple of pieces this morning and I'm super excited about the color.

Uck, look how ugly our current flooring is!  Can't wait for the new stuff!

As far as the tote bags go... that is the other part of the busyness around here.  I have been sewing tote bags like crazy!  Rbtbags got a couple of large orders for large unlined tote bags (190 to be exact!).  My mom has actually been doing some sewing too and it's nice to have the extra money but we only have 50 done - 140 more to make in the next 3 weeks (before I stop sewing to prepare for my sister's wedding).

In addition to that order we have been selling extra large tote bags like crazy in our Ebay store (the one that I manage).  Who would have thought so many people want enormous tote/beach bags!  Really, they are a nice size.  I'm thinking about upgrading to the extra large one for our next beach trip so I only have to carry one bag.  Anyway, I have been sewing those bags too which has left me pretty worn out.

I may be headed to Louisville on Friday for a much needed girls weekend.  Hoping everything works out for that!