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August 2011
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October 2011

A Flurry of Home Improvements

mad as a hatter's tea party!

When I moved into this apartment, for whatever reason, I never fully settled in. It always seemed as though it would be a temporary landing space, even though I positively loved the neighborhood from the get go. It's possible I was just acting out in response to how seriously ugly the brass with fluted glass chandelier is that dominates our dining room.

15 years later, despite our recent efforts to look for a slightly roomier place to call home, we are still here in our wee rent controlled apartment in the fog belt.

Around my birthday, we made the decision to truly commit to living in this apartment and figuring out how to make the most of its limited space and cramped kitchen quarters. And thus, we have spent about one day per week since my birthday weekend refining the apartment.

The first order of business was going through all my books and CDs, paring things down, and reorganizing them on some new bookcases from IKEA. This prompted me to put some books up on Good Reads' bookswap, and to donate a bag full of books to the Friends of the San Francisco library.

I also took the opportunity to rearrange my pseudo pantry shelves, and take stock of all my excess canned goods (I probably had a dozen cans of enchilada sauce lurking in one cupboard...) With the living room and dining area under control (and sporting a stylish new rug), the last target for sprucing up was our bedroom.

We had an issue with water damage in one corner that we'd been putting off asking the property management to fix. When we did tee it up, one forgotten appointment (by them) and some 3 weeks later, we finally got the water damaged wall (the roof leaks in the corner) repaired and repainted. And while we had them here, we had them rehang the bathroom door so it will properly close (it's been stubborn and unwilling to close as long as I've lived here, thanks to an improper rehang after it was last painted.) And to top it off, we had them install the hardware for a curtain rod we picked up during our mega-IKEA shopping trip.

This afternoon, after a nice local and organic crispy chicken sandwich for lunch at Eats up the street, we came home and hung up the chocolate brown curtains, hung up the nicely framed rock and roll prints that had been sitting in a corner waiting for some attention, and can now say: this place looks like a home. Finally.

And it only took well over a decade to get everything in order...


Following a Weekly Meal Plan

A Farmers Market haul

The past month has been terrible from a "you are what you eat" standpoint. Being incredibly busy at work, vacation, then coming back to even longer hours at work has meant we've been doing a ton of eating out. And not a ton of healthy seasonal cooking at home.

This is why yesterday I pulled out all the items in my pantry cupboard to take stock of what we had on hand, and then made a week's meal plan that made good use of what we had on hand. I should note that I had no idea I had 8 cans of enchilada sauce in that cupboard. This is one of the primary drawbacks to using a deep, tall shelf next to the stove as a pantry, but when you're a renter in a high price city, you make do.

Here's what I came up with to help thin out the cupboard, and stop eating out so much:

  • Sat: mus sa mun curry with beef over rice
  • Sun: bean and beef enchiladas
  • Mon: chicken stir fry
  • Tues: Bean and cheese quesadillas
  • Wed: lasagna (make sauce ahead on Sunday)
  • Thur: pork chops
  • Fri: eat out for dinner

I also made sure we had a ton of yogurt and healthy cereal for breakfast, and plenty of tasty yet healthy snacks to keep me away from the cheese. This reminds me I really need to figure out how to make my ideal spicy trail mix. I love that stuff.

Today, I'm doing some prep work (making pasta sauce and a chicken+bean soup), making some sides (bean salad, potato salad, corn muffins) and mixing up chocolate chocolate chip cookie dough for the freezer. That sounds like a fine way to spend a Sunday don't you think?

Easy Pasta Sauce

  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 a red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 a white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 15 baby carrots, roughly chopped
  • 3 15oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2 TBSP garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add the olive oil to a stockpot and heat on medium. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until they become partially translucent. Add in the carrots and cook for another 5 minutes. Add in tomato sauce, reduce heat, and simmer on low for 1 hour.

I'll be using this for my lasagna this week.

Chicken and Black Bean Soup

  • 1 32 oz container Imagine organic chicken broth
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 a red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 a white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 15 baby carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast fillet (i.e. half a chicken breast)
  • 1 TBSP garlic, minced
  • 1 Tsp poultry seasoning blend of your choice

Pour chicken broth into stockpot and heat on medium high and bring to a boil. Sprinkle chicken breast with your favorite poultry seasoning and salt and pepper then add to the hot broth and poach, removing once meat is white all the way through. Cool chicken until it is at room temperature, then shred into bit size pieces. While your chicken is cooling, reduce heat to low and add in your separately olive oil sauteed onions, garlic and carrots (I did mine at the same time for the pasta sauce then split the total cooked mixture in half). Add back in your shredded chicken and simmer for an hour.

Makes 4 servings. 5 points plus per serving.


Just What *are* those "Period Details"?

425MKT5
I recently saw a listing for an apartment out here in the Fog Belt that has a curious selling point "period details."

Now, if you've never been to San Francisco's Richmond District, perhaps you think of our quaint and often photographed Painted ladies-- the gorgeous Victorian and Edwardian buildings on all our postcards and tourist literature.

But as a long-time neighborhood denizen, living in a 1965 building, I started to think, what exactly would I consider to be a 1965 period detail? Original powder blue and baby pink kitchens? (NOTE: that is what my place had before I signed the lease and they ripped it out.) A lack of windowsills or mouldings? The introduction of the open floor living plan?

I'm not sure that any of those details would entice your average renter, but I could be wrong about that...

TGIF and a Happy Long Weekend to you!