Friday, September 30, 2011

Time is money!

In preparation of hosting Thanksgiving for my family this year, I made a list of things to get done around the house. One of those things is washing our grimy windows. We have 15 giant windows at our house so I thought it would be nice to hire a window washer so I'd have time to do other things on that list - you know, like paint my nails. I brought up my idea to Steve, a true DIYer, who would rather die than hire someone to perform handy work, who spends weeks on You Tube and reading library books to learn about a subject just so he can do it himself, who's own to-do list is pages long. So what do you think he said when I asked about getting them done? You're right! He said "we are NOT paying someone to clean our windows. You can do it! It's easy!" So I rolled my eyes and changed the subject.

Well, today I saw a deal online (our local attempt at Groupon) for professional window washing. 10 windows for $70 ($120 value). Great deal, right?! And perfect timing! So I thought maybe if Steve knew about this deal, he'd go for it. He's into deals!

We were on instant messenger at work, so I decided to share the deal link with him right then. His response was pretty perfect.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Renovation Reality

Thought I would give you a tiny glimpse inside the crazy world of a home-owner with little ideas that turn into BIG projects.
Remember when we wanted to replace a few windows that were old and cruddy? And remember how that one idea turned into Steve wanting to handcraft some window sills and molding? And then that required grinding off the current window sills in order to install new ones before the windows were installed? And remember how the grinding of the old window sills covered the entire guest room with an inch of dust? And that meant we quaranteen our entire living room with yards and yards of environmentally unfriendly plastic

Well, here is one minute and forty seven seconds of that process. You DIYers will love this. (Note: I am filming lying down under a plastic tunnel with the camera peeking out. We should get an award for our bubble room masterpiece.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Remember when I went on that awesome date to Castoro Cellars? And remember I promised some video of the guitarist, Peppino D'Agostino? Well, here it is! The percussionist is Jeff Campitelli...and he was incredible! Enjoy!

Not your average banana bread

Like I mentioned before, I am always left with a few overripe bananas and looking for new ways to use them. This time, I wanted to do a simple banana bread again and recently came across a new recipe while following various Bachelorettes on Twitter. (See, I knew there was a good reason for my new twitter obsession. I seriously cannot stop reading about what former Bachelors and Bachelorettes are up's sick really.)

Anyway, you can find the recipe here: Ashley's World Famous Ball-Bustin' Banana Bread. I followed it exactly and this bread turned out SOO good. Best banana bread so far. It is moist but not oily. The most brilliant part of this recipe is how you separate the banana mash into one lumpy banana mix and one banana cream mix. That way, the banana is infused into the bread but you also get yummy lumps of bananas inside the bread. LOVE this!

Try it. Now. Go on! You won't be disappointed!

I even tweeted Ashley about trying her recipe and got this:




Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. ( I recommend doing either 2 small loaves or 4 mini loaves - remember to cut back the baking time if you do this.  I think the smaller the loaves, the more moist your bread will be)
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl but make sure they are still lumpy. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together for a good 3 minutes; you want a light and fluffy banana cream. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla; beat well and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated; no need to overly blend (This is very important!). Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Give the pan a good rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.
Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes (less time if you do smaller loaves), until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Don’t get nervous if the banana bread develops a crack down the center of the loaf; that’s no mistake, it’s typical. Rotate the pan periodically to ensure even browning.
Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes or so, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. Toast the slices of banana bread, dust with confectioners’ sugar, and serve.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cucumber Queen

Our cucumbers have gone mad this year. They took over the poor canteloupe, they outgrew the raised bed, and they are multiplying so quickly we can't keep up! There are bent ones, short and fat ones, long skinny ones, and giant ones...basically cucumbers growing on top of cucumbers on top of cucumbers! It's madness.

We've eaten so many cucumbers I am starting to get sick of them! I had to get real creative coming up with ways to serve up these babies and I thought I would share some ideas with you, in case you have a massive cucumber garden too!

Cucumber-Tomato Salad
This has been one of our faves lately. All you do is combine peeled and sliced cucumbers, slices of tomatoes (any kind, but the sweeter the better), a pinch of ground pepper and kosher salt, and your dressing of choice. I've used olive oil with balsamic vinegar, but my favorite is a local dressing/marinade called Carmen's Gorgonzola Thyme. I also crumble feta cheese on top. Steve prefers blue cheese but I say blech to that!

Tuna Salad with Cucumbers
This super simple recipe I found in my trusty cooking magazing, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. Technically the recipe calls for celery, but I left that out and added carrots and radishes.
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds
  • 3 tbls rice vinegar
  • 1 tbls sugar
  • 2 tbls olive oil
  • 2 cucumbers, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4 inch half moons (6 cups)
  • 3 celery stalks (if you want them)
  • 2 cans of solid white tune in water, drained and flaked
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
In a medium bowl, stir together poppy seeds, vinegar, sugar, and oil. Add cucumbers, celery, and tuna. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or refrigerate covered up to 1 day.

Cucumber and Radish Crostini
The perfect snack or appetizer. Also from Everyday Food.

In a medium bowl, toss together 1 cucumber, peeled and very thinly sliced (I used a the horizontal blade on my cheese grater), 5 radishes, also very thinly sliced, 1 tbls fresh lemon juice, and 2 tbls of olive oil. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Spoon onto 18 toasted baguette slices and top with shaved parmesan cheese. 


For more cucumber recipes, try Martha Stewart's Seasonal Produce Guide.

We also tried pickling cucumbers. We tried three different methods - only one of which worked. Let's just say we have 8 jars of pickles that are not edible. Long story, and deserves a whole separate post on pickling.

Stay tuned!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Lacking, but with Luster

Sorry I've been lacking in the posting department! As you can see, I've revamped my page and have been working on the individual tabs up top. I like being able to keep links and other info organized neatly so that its easy to revisit (that and I am OCD). Now that I have this space how I want it (mostly), I can resume posting! I owe you a lot!

-Helya's wedding festivities!
-Peppino music
-Lake Tahoe vacation
-our garden before and after
-and on Dwight Delight, our pickling successes and failures!

In the meantime, look around and enjoy!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Frollicking Fox

The foxes are still living alongside our property and becoming more and more used to us. A couple of weeks ago there were three brothers out at once, and we named them Timmy, Kit, and Pickles. Pickles gets left behind, Timmy is timid, and Kit is more daring. They played for about a half an hour right at dusk, jumping onto the wood stack, frollicking in the grass, and playing hide-and-seek in the trees. One time I looked out onto the back patio and saw one of the foxes lounging in one of our chairs, looking at me innocently like, "what's the big deal??"  Then, the other night, I think it was Pickles, came out well before dark to play, which is rare. I was able to take some video of his evening in our yard. Now that we've gotten a better look at them, we are pretty sure they are Gray Foxes. 

Monday, September 05, 2011


When we flew to Japan for our honeymoon on Korean Air, we were served a wonderful Korean dish called Bibimbap. Bibimbap means "mixed meal" which is my favorite kind because it means I can avoid using every pan in the kitchen making cleanup a breeze.

So when I came across a recipe for bibimbap in my favorite Everyday Food mag, I squealed with delight! Not only is this recipe simple, it uses common ingredients and is super quick to make! I hate when I find a new recipe where I have to go to the store and buy a million new spices or sauces, don't you?

If you like Asian cuisine, you will love this dish. It's similar to stir-fry, with a twist!  Don't be scared and just try it!

Serves 4
total time: 45 minutes
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
  • 5 oz baby spinach (5 cups)
  • 2 1/4 tsp vegetable oil
  • 3 carrots, cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1 garlic glove, thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions (same as green onions if you aren't sure..I wasn't!), white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 pound of shiitake mushrooms, trimmed, thinly sliced (I guessed that "trimmed" means trimming off the stems??)
  • 1 english cucumber, cut into thin matchsticks (I used 1 dwight ranch cucumber because we have a gajillion of them in our garden)
  • 2 tbls soy sauce
  • 4 large eggs (1 egg per person)
  • 4 tsp toasted sesame oil 
  • Sriracha sauce, for serving (I skipped this part because I didn't have any, but it's probably good!)
In a medium pot, cook rice according to package instructions. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, bring 2 cups water to a boil over high. Add spinach and cook, stirring constantly until wilted, about 30 seconds. Drain. When cool enough to handle, squeeze spinach dry with a paper towel. 

Wipe out skillet and heat 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil over medium-high. Add carrots and cook until crisp-tender, 3 minutes. Add garlic and scallion whites and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook 4 minutes. Add cucumber and cook until softened, 3 minutes. Add spinach and soy sauce and stir to combine. Transfer vegetables to a bowl and wipe out skillet.  (See, so quick!!)

Heat 3/4 teaspoon vegetable oil in skillet over medium-high. Add eggs, reduce heat to medium and cook until whites are set and yolks are still runny, about 5 minutes. (I cooked my eggs a bit longer because I don't really like runny eggs..)

Divide rice among four bowls and top with vegetable mix. Top with fried egg. Drizzle each with sesame oil and sprinkle with scallion greens. Serve with Sriracha.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Hotel de Dwight

We have been working on the guest room ever since we moved in, trying to make it the perfect retreat for our loved ones. We care about your comfort!!! There were a few major changes to the room including a grassclothed wall, a new window with home-made molding, new window treatments, and some added recessed lighting wired by my hubs. The only thing left are new closet doors and crown molding but I wanted to share with you our pride and joy to-date!

November 2009

February 2010

May 2010

First we painted that wall a khaki color but it just didn't look right. So we stole the grasscloth idea from my grandma and it really makes the room pop! 

March 2011

Getting prepped for a new window

April 2011

New window and new West Elm bedding!

Window molding and blinds!

Some advice: if you are going to order window treatments online, make sure you enter the right dimensions!! I mixed up the height and width dimensions on the order form and we received some F'd up blinds! Home Depot doesn't allow returns or exchanges on custom items so we had to bite the bullet and re-order a new set. The originals are still sitting in our closet - what do you do with wooden blinds that fit NO windows?? 

September 2011

I collected all different sizes and shades of brown picture frames until I had enough for the wall. Since this is our guest room, we framed pictures of family and friends! 

Steve wired our paper lantern light into the ceiling so there's no more obnoxious wire hanging down the side of the wall. And we picked out a lovely little ceiling mount that adds a nice touch to the light. The table is from Ikea. We wanted some narrow but dresser-like and this is the perfect fit! I plan on getting some baskets to put in the lower cubbies.

The dahlias in the vase are from bulbs we planted in our backyard!
The wall hangings are from our honeymoon in Japan. We sent them to Steve's mom to sew a loop in the top so we could put a dowel through and hang them with a piece of cord. We added some knobs  to the ends to complete the look.

LOVE this chair! (Got it today from World Market!)

Two years later and this room is (nearly) done! It is my favorite room in the house. 

Next room wrap-up is the office! 

Friday, September 02, 2011

Friday Favorites - Botanical Fanical

Steve and I recently spent a weekend afternoon at the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden, one of our favorite places in SLO and had a picnic using our picnic basket that Helya and Jon got us for our wedding..finally! Yay! We've been to the garden before (we love Botanical gardens!) but this time they had two flowers that blew my mind. The first flower, the puya alpestris, a native of Chile, had the most stunning color. It was a shade of blue that you don't normally find in those flowers you see around St. Patrick's day that are dyed green. But, oh no, there is no dye in these babies. Just pure blue beauty!

My other favorite flower was the leopard flower. This flower is just plain cool.

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