Friday, May 26, 2017

Bathroom reno Part 3

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Somehow the time for the bathroom renovation is upon us. When we picked Memorial Day weekend it seemed so far away and there was plenty of time to prepare and learn all we needed to know about removing bathroom tile, installing bathroom tile, and generally making the magic of before and after photos happen. (Alas, the house fairies I hoped would show up and do this renovation for us didn't materialize.)

Instead, we found ourselves staring at each other in anxiety wondering how Saturday loomed and we still didn't have a single hammer stroke of demo done or the tile laying supplies. 

Fortunately, there are kind people in the world. Our friend lending us the tile saw and tools mentioned that one does not use mastic in the shower. Wait...what? Good thing we saw her before we went to Home Depot. Then the kind folks at Home Depot helped us extensively in figuring out what exactly we needed in terms of thinset and grout. (Word to the wise, you need to look for what the packaging doesn't say - i.e. if the grout doesn't specifically say that it doesn't need to be sealed, then it's going to need to be sealed. Or if the mastic doesn't specifically say it can be used in showers, then you shouldn't use it in a shower.)

We had hoped we could reuse the cement board - here's one of the videos on how to remove the tile from the bathroom. But, this video ended up being more of the approach we took, since it turned out the existing tile wasn't installed on cement board at all and it certainly wasn't coming off without completely destroying the surface underneath it anyway. 


Taking off entire sections was much faster, but buying cement board will likely destroy our budget, which is already teetering perilously close to the $500 mark. 



Getting the tub area and flooring demo done took Mr. Awesome a few hours. 

The next step is removing the vanity, toilet, and existing floor mastic, which is very thick and should be super fun. Fortunately, we learned one lesson when we retiled the kitchen two years ago and will practice very strict dust control methods when it comes time to remove the mastic. Stayed tuned! 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Lamb Street Tacos

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A leg of lamb can leave a lot of leftovers and eating leftovers can be boring, so we look for ways to spice it up. In this case, we used the Indian Inspired Leg of Lamb, and recreated those leftovers with this Lamb Street Tacos recipe. How do you do this? It's easy. 


Ingredients:

Leftover leg of lamb, shredded (you can also use lamb stew meat) 
1 can enchilada sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 chipotle in Adobo Sauce, minced
1 t. dried oregano
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Corn tortillas
Guacamole or avocado
Cabbage
Onions, minced
Cheddar grated or Cotija


Directions:

In a slow cooker combine lamb with all the ingredients up to the corn tortillas. Cook on low for five hours or until tender. You may be thinking, but this is already cooked, but this will just make it tender and delicious. If you're using uncooked lamb stew meat, I would recommend high for five hours. Once it's as tender as you want, then make your street tacos. Place meat on corn tortillas, then layer on cheese and veg. Consume with rapture. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Beautiful beds

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Layering beds has been a thing for a while, but all of a sudden it needed to happen at my house and it needed to happen RIGHT NOW!

I hit up Pinterest for ideas on how to make this work. I found these blogs to be most helpful, Just Decorate and The Budget Decorator. After scrolling through Pinterest pins on the subject until the wee hours of the morning, I raced out and bought a new bed skirt for the guest bedroom and check out the end result!


I did this with bedding and pillows I already had. The only thing I needed was a bed skirt to hide the wrapping paper underneath the guest bed. I think you can see from the before and after that the bedding needed a little help. I love that simple change can make such an impact. 



I love them - another little way to make life beautiful. Who wants to come spend the night? (Better make it soon, before we begin bathroom reno.)

Do you have layered bedding you'd like to share? Post a photo in the comments!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Leftover Lamb in Simmer Sauce

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If you made our Indian Inspired Leg of Lamb recipe and weren't feeding a large crowd, chances are you had leftovers. One of the things Mrs. Awesome loves to do is transform leftovers into a new meal unto themselves. We lived in England for a while and fell in love with their Indian simmer sauces. If you have a Big Lots or World Market or even a good grocery store near you then you have access to these delightful, flavorful sauces too. One of the great things about these simmer sauces is that it creates a healthy meal in just a few minutes, so head down to the store and grab a bottle - my first try would be Big Lots, because the same sauce will be a lot cheaper there than World Market. You could also try the ethnic aisle at your local grocery store. You could make this with any leftover meat. Maybe you made a rotisserie chicken or a pork tenderloin. This will work with any meat as long as it isn't already swimming in a sauce and even then, Mrs. Awesome has been known to rinse the meat off and use it in a new preparation. 

If you've never really eaten Indian food, then follow their handy spiciness guide on the label and choose a spiciness level you're comfortable with. Indian food isn't always hot, but it does always involved a lot of spices. 


Ingredients:


1 onion, cut in half and sliced
1 bell pepper, cut in half and slices
1 potato, cut into chunks
Olive oil
Leftover meat, chopped
Simmer sauce (we found ours in the international food section at Big Lots!)
Basmati rice and/or naan


Directions:


1. Prepare the rice according to the directions on the package. 
2. Saute the vegetables in some olive oil for a few minutes. 
3. Add the meat and simmer sauce. 
4. Heat until all ingredients are hot and then let it go for a few minutes more. 
5. Serve over rice. 

Done! 

For another idea of something to do with leftover lamb, check out our Lamb Street Tacos

Nouveau Niçoise Salad

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After roasting the Indian Lamb, Mrs. Awesome found a fantastic way to use the leftover asparagus and roasted potatoes- choosing them as perfect additions to a Nouveau Niçoise Salad for dinner! If you're looking for a quick and easy dinner that's packed full of flavors, you can't go wrong with this southern French favorite. There are many variations of this classic salad which Gordon Ramsey declared "the finest summer salad of all" and it can be served either tossed or, more often, composed. Generally the salad is arranged on a bed of greens with tomato wedges, tuna, either fresh or canned, blanched green beans, Niçoise olives, boiled new potatoes, and a light dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, cracked black pepper, and a little salt. It is an incredibly fresh and vibrant salad and our take is no different. Have a look in your fridge and build your own from what you have on hand!

If you want to build ours, here's what you're going to need- oh, and with the exception of the bacon, all of the ingredients should be cold... it's a salad after all!


Ingredients:

Fresh Spinach
1 Tomato, cut into wedges
Sauteed Asparagus Spears in Balsamic Reduction
Roasted New Potatoes
1 Avocado, halved and sliced
1 Hard Boiled Egg per salad, sliced
1 package pre-cooked fresh beets, sliced
1 can Black Olives
5 slices of bacon, crumbled

Directions:

Arrange a handful of spinach in the center of the plate, then compose the remainder of the salad components on and around the spinach. Top with crumbled bacon and using a spoon, dress the salad lightly with the lemon vinaigrette below. That's it! Awesome AND EASY! 

Lemon Vinaigrette- Serves 4


Ingredients:

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Mustard
Zest of 1/2  Lemon
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste


Directions:

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined. Adjust seasoning as desired. If too tart, add olive oil by the tablespoon (I added a couple more Tablespoons when I made it...)

Bon Apetit!


Ramsay, Gordon. "Salad Nicoise," BBC Good Food

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Indian Inspired Leg of Lamb

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Springtime is lamb time! Mr. Awesome loves lamb, especially around Easter, and Mrs. Awesome especially loves lamb in Indian food. This recipes combines both those loves to create an Indian inspired Leg of Lamb that you could serve for Easter or Sunday dinner, but won't scare your non-Indian cuisine loving friends away. scoring the thin layer of fat with a knife and massaging the rub into the meat really helps the spice mix to penetrate and deliver flavor all the way through the roast. If you aren't comfortable boning the joint, it's an optional step and will save you the time to tie the roast once finished. As an interesting note, lamb will cook faster bone-in, so watch your internal temperature and adjust accordingly. To make this delicious Indian inspired roast leg of lamb, here's what you need:

For the Spice and Herb paste

Ingredients

3 Cloves of garlic
3 Tbsp. Olive oil
2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Ground Coriander
1 tsp. Ground Cardamom
1 Tsp. Orange Peel
3/4 tsp. Ground Ginger
1/2 tsp. Paprika
1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1 5-7 lb. Leg of Lamb


Directions: 

1. Place all of the ingredients for the spice and herb paste into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. 

2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. 

3. Using a boning knife, remove the aitch bone and thigh bone leaving only the leg bone in the roast. Trim fat to 1/4" and then score the fat cap to expose the meat below. Lastly, using butcher's twine or silicone bands, truss the leg. This step is optional, but tying the leg will ensure more even cooking. Rub the leg with the spice and herb paste and allow it to sit at room temperature for a minimum of 30 minutes, or up to an hour. Alternatively, it can be applied the night before and allowed to marinate in the refrigerator. 

4. Place leg of lamb in roasting pan either on a rack, or for an even more delicious option, on a bed of new or halved red potatoes. (These cook in the fat and spices of the lamb and are amazing. They are also featured in our Nouveau Niçoise Salad recipe.)

5. Roast the leg approximately 20-25 minutes per pound, until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees for medium rare, 160 degrees for medium and 170 degrees for well done. 

When roast comes to temperature, remove from oven and allow to rest on cutting board, tented with foil for 10-20 minutes to allow the internal temperature to stabilize. Carving straight from the oven will cause all of the juices to run out and you'll be left with a very dry roast. 


Now doesn't that just make your mouth water?
The cute hedgehog rolls were inspired by this blog's bunny rolls and our friends at Misfit Gardening. For an idea of what to do with leftovers from this meal consider our Nouveau Niçoise Salad recipe or our Lamb in Simmer Sauce or our Lamb Street Tacos

Learn All Your Life

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I was at a friend's baby shower a while back and she had all the attendees fill out messages for her coming darling. One of the prompts was, "I hope you learn..." and for me the answer was "all your life".

I feel like there is so much in this world to know and experience that we couldn't possibly learn it all. Learning all your life is part of creating a loved, lived life for me and Mr. Awesome. So, I thought I would share some ideas on places you can continue your lifelong learning...

We're big fan of continuing education classes offered through area universities and public school districts. In the past we've taken classes on watercolor, wheel thrown pottery, glass fusing, line dancing, and tai chi.  This year, through Weber Universities Continuing Ed, we are taking a course on the Syrian Conflict. We often make class night our date night and go to dinner before or after class, depending on the timing. 

Beyond continuing ed class through schools near you, there are also online courses you can take. Check out the free classes through Harvard for example (wouldn't it be cool to say you've taken a Harvard course?). Many other top tier universities have online courses available, though they're not always free.  

You can also look for classes taught at area craft storesAround here there are scrapbooking stores, quilting stores, and yarn stores that teach you mad skills. I learned tatting through Michaels. If you are an expert crafter, you could also teach some classes to earn some extra money (to supplement your lifelong learning habit). We've each taught classes in our areas of expertise; I've taught classes on knitting and Mr. Awesome has taught cooking classes and beer making classes. 

Kitchen stores, such as Sur La Table or local kitchen outlets, around here that would be For Your Kitchen, have cooking classes you can take. 

I know that some of our local nurseries teach various gardening classes, plus we have the Weber Conservation Learning Center, which offer gardening classes.

If there's a national or state park near you, they often have ranger walks, which are fun ways to learn things and get out into nature. 

There are meetups that focus on learning. And if there aren't any meetups in your area, you can always start one to bring together people like yourself who want to build community and learn new things. 

Check out area museums too. And don't forget the library! Most libraries have various community activities and classes. 

And finally use your network for one-on-one learning opportunities. Maybe your neighbor is an expert fly fisherwoman or your friend knows all there is to know about building models. Most people are happy to share their knowledge. Pick their brains and learn from them if their hobby at all interests you, or even if it doesn't necessarily. You never know when you might need some of that knowledge to win at trivial pursuit or Jeopardy. 

What are you interested in learning?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Budget Bathroom Reno Update

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A few weeks ago, we shared our low-cost upcoming bathroom renovation that we're trying to bring in for a budget of $500. 

This $500 needs to buy:
  • Bathroom vanity
  • Sink faucet
  • Floor tile
  • Light fixture
  • New mirror or wood to frame existing mirror
  • Paint
  • Supplies for install i.e. mastic, grout, spacers, etc. (this will likely be the part that kills the budget)
Of course, I suddenly realized last night that if we are installing a new nickel sink fixture and retiling the bath, that means we'll need nickel shower/tub fixtures too. (Insert forehead slap.) So add that to the list, we like a challenge right?

  • Tub and shower faucet
We already had the wall tile, so that isn't included in the budget (thank goodness or we'd be sunk). 

So, how are we doing so far? 
  • Bathroom vanity - $100
  • Sink faucet - $20 (And it's a Moen!!!!)
  • Floor tile - $45
  • Light fixture - $25
  • New mirror - $20 
  • Paint
  • Towel hooks
  • Supplies for install i.e. mastic, grout, spacers, etc. (this will likely be the part that kills the budget)
  • Tub and shower faucet
So we're sitting at $210 right now. I am worried about the cost of the tub/shower faucets. At home improvement stores they're over $100 to start. Yikes. I am hoping to sell some of the things we're taking out of the bathroom to help offset costs. 

Here's our $100 vanity. You can see the $45 floor tile below.
The strip tile is what we'll be using in the shower stall. 

So, how are we doing this? Resell sites and patience. Here in Utah, KSL Classifieds rule supreme. I generally don't even bother looking elsewhere. And living along the Wasatch front, where 80% of the state's populations habitats, means there are plenty of options to choose from as long as you're willing to drive a bit. (Any of our readers who live in a big city will have this benefit as well).

Patience is also important. We've been accruing the pieces for this bathroom renovation over the past month or so. This isn't a problem for us as we balance getting what we need with working and living, but if you impulsively decide to renovate your bathroom this weekend, you're not going to be able to do it on the cheap. We also spend a good deal of time looking through listings. Mrs. Awesome scrolls through listings instead of facebook surfing, so again, this isn't a problem for us. It can be fun to see what people are selling, such as these crazy chairs, which can lead to hilarious text exchanges with friends. 

You never know what amazingness you might come across
when looking through online classifieds. 
If you don't live in Utah here are some other ideas of places to find deals for your next renovation project: 
  • Facebook Marketplace - an easy way to find listings in your area
  • Ebay - an oldy, but goody. This is where we found our copper sink for our outdoor kitchen. 
  • Letgo - find bargains in your zip code
  • 5miles - more area specific deals
  • And there is always Craig's List
  • And don't forget to check out your local newspaper's websites. Most newspapers have classifieds, though many cost for people to post, so it can be hit or miss. 
There are, of course, many, many resell sites. Buzzfeed has an article about great places to find used furniture online, but you won't get a bargain for most of these, because many require sellers to set up shops, which you're only going to do if you sell furniture to make a profit, which means less savings for bargain hunters. 

Stay tuned as we continue to gather the pieces we need for the bathroom reno! We are talking timeline next. We think we're ready for demo!