Saturday, January 29, 2011

I love lamp.

A severe lapse in saving this week. I feel kind of like a drug addict tempted by an evening of drug-taking. You see, for some time I have been looking for a bookcase for the kitchen, to replace this yuck thing:


I have looked everywhere for something wider, taller, less ugly. We have a number of things in the kitchen to go on these shelves - not just cookbooks - that are currently on the microwave, the table and the fridge. No good. There have been times in this hunt when I was willing to pay a lot of money for what I wanted, and I even considered having something specially-made. Yipes. And then I thought cheap. And I went back and forth, and it was never a priority so I never bought one. Until this week, when there was a sale at Target. Target is always kind of cheap, so I don't know what I was so tempted by this sale. And I showed H. what I was thinking about, and he agreed that it would suit the spot, so I ordered this:

No, it isn't the most beautiful thing in the world. It's just a white folding bookcase, but I think it is kitchen-esque and will do the job it needs to do. But, as I was ordering it (Target online only), I also went ahead and bought a couple lamps. Oops. We have been looking for lamps for the guest room for a long time (on my parents' trip here two years ago they complained that there were no bedside lamps). So, H. and I agreed on two lamps for the guest room, one table and one standing. I also showed him a lamp that I thought was funny, but said I wasn't going to buy it. Anyhou, here I am ordering my Target folding bookshelf, and I thought what the hey - buy the lamps. And I did. BUT. I bought the agreed on table lamp:

And the weird lamp that I said I wasn't going to buy:

Yes, I bought an owl lamp. What the hell?? I don't know why I like it. I think its funny. Not sure where I'll put it though. I still plan on buying the other - agreed on - floor lamp, eventually. Lamps are so nice. They make things cozy. Even owl lamps. These things are due to arrive next week, and I'll post an update on how they turn out.

I recently told H. my list of the last pieces of furniture we need to buy for the apartment, since he thinks that I am furniture-obsessed and will never stop. On the list were the kitchen bookcase, the lamps, a full-length mirror, another bookcase for the guest room, and another bookcase for the office. As soon as I told him this list I felt sad. I guess at that point - when the furniture list is completed, we'll have to buy the house so I can buy more furniture.

In other news, it is exactly two weeks until my birthday! Yee-ha! H. and I are throwing a party! And you're all invited! H. and I have a menu in mind, and we decided to test run a couple things first. We thought we'd make either shami kebabs, or sheekh kebabs. So, today we made both.

First, sheekh kebabs. Pre-cooked:

And then, post-cooked:


And then shami kebabs. Being cooked:


And cooked:


I think we'll make the sheekh kebabs for the party, because they were a bit easier. Other items on the nibbles menu: tandoori chicken pieces and zucchini fritters. Maybe some potato chips? We'll see.

ALSO, we decided to order a smaller version of the delicious Brooklyn Blackout cake that we had at our wedding from Ladybird Bakery because it was SO GOOD that we've probably reminisced about that cake weekly since the wedding. Not like "Wasn't out wedding day so lovely and moving?", but "Remember how that cake was the greatest thing ever?" That cake and getting a Wii as a gift truly made it the best day of my life.


So, this party is also sure to be delicious.

Finally, speaking of owls - this is awesome.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

boo-ya

Hi Cuteface.


So, that Nino Ricci book? I liked it. I liked it a lot. I liked it ten million times more than the other Ricci book on my list. Bravo, Mr. Ricci. Bravo.

I'm about to start 29/73 - Mr. Ames Against Time (1949) by Philip Child.

For lunch this week I revisited my variation of the gyro, which, incidentally, was also what I made when I started that last Nino Ricci book. Somewhere in my mind I'm connecting Ricci with tzatziki. Yummy. But this time I tried something different - I marinated my chickens in a yogurt/garlic/feta concoction and grilled them on the griddle pan I had never used before.


And that was a good idea! Because it was delicious! Bravo, me. Bravo.

I also had the pleasure of preparing our dinner, and I made a vegetarian chili that turned out quite well! I worry about vegetarian chili not being satisfying or filling, but the answer to that is to put all kinds of beans in, I think. I also roasted some squash and red peppers, pureed them, and added them to the sauce. It adds a little something. A little pizazz.

I'm also feeling quite pleased because I've added another contender for a place to buy a house - Peekskill! I've never been there - it might be awful - but its closer than Beacon and has lovely and affordable houses, and right now it is my leading potential home town. H. and I are planning to go up there and investigate one of these days.

We also developed a Savings Plan - a goal amount to put into our savings every month so that we're prepared to make an offer next year. It is somewhat ambitious. In fact, it is even more ambitious than our Moneymoon Savings Plan that we made last year, but we're pros at saving now, and I get paid a tad more than last year - so, good luck to us! Having a goal helps me focus on saving money, and so far this year I feel like I haven't been focussed on not spending money as much as I was last year. Bring on the coupons!

Friday, January 21, 2011

this, that, t'other

A real G-Chat of late, with one of H's co-workers:

She:you made H. a very nice lunch! well-balanced.
me: you think I would give him unhealthy things?
She: no, it's just funny to watch him eat
me: I have to keep him in tip top shape.
She: :) i suggested that you make me a lunch too - and he can bring that in every day! :)
me: Sure, for money!
She: oh.... how much?!
me: Hm, well, I guess it depends on what I make. $15/wk, don't think I ever go more than that per person.
She: $15 a week for 5 meals?!
me: Yeah! I'm pretty good at being economical with the lunches.
She: wow -
me: the most expensive things are the yogurts. They are a whopping $0.79!
She: turkey meatloaf?
me: That was pretty cheap - turkey was $3.99, had the breadcrumbs, the mushrooms were probably a couple dollars - but essentially ten meals since it will be both of our lunches all week. Let's say all the meatloaf ingredients were $10 - that's just $1/day.
She: crazy
me: cereal bars are essentially $0.28 each (when bought in a pack), almonds $0.50/serving. Apples were pricier, I guess. Cheap stuff!
She: look at you!!
im impressed

And with that I pat myself on the back, and take a bow. Thank you, thank you.

I finished #26, and #27, which was The Luck of Ginger Coffey (1960) by Brian Moore. I'm kind of sick of reading about the Irish - but I guess when you're breezing through the CanLit, you can't really complain about that, can you?


So, now I move on to #28, The Lives of Saints (1990) by Nino Ricci. I also discovered that I totally missed that the 2010 winner was announced back in November. How embarrassing to have missed it! Ah well, I'm sure I was at a conference. So instead of --/72, it will be --/73. Fingers crossed I get through the next 45 or so books before the 2011 winner is announced. Eeps!

So, I mentioned before that H. and I have our sights set on buying a home of our own. And I obsessively check real estate websites, think about mortgages, savings, down-payments and furniture. Oh lordy, lord. We're probably 12-18 months away from seriously buying, but I can't stop looking. But here's our dilemma - where to buy? My mind changes every other day about where we should live. The contenders:

Brooklyn! Why leave? We're city folk, we like being close to work (I mean, 45-minutes-on-the-subway close to work), close to museums, close to the liveliness of NYC, close to international airports. As I probably mentioned before, we're both publishing folk and in the grand scheme of the whole world we don't really have a whole lot of options when it comes to the industry. So, Brooklyn, eh? The cons of Brooklyn are that our budget would allow us to buy an apartment in a neighborhood slightly farther out than where we are now. It would most likely be smaller than what we have now. And, of course, we'd have to say good-bye to dreams like a porch, a yard with accompanying dog, the library that I promised H. to convince him that buying a home was what we wanted to do...

Beacon, NY! I have certain friends who want us to move to Beacon because they want to move to Beacon. Beacon is up the Hudson River about 60 miles. It's quaint and quirky, has hip bars and shops along its long main street. Beacon is filling up with refugees from Brooklyn, and it feels like that. Maybe notsomuch in a good way. But it is lovely, and you can buy big, beautiful, old houses for well within our price range. The cons (besides being too Brooklyn-y) is that its about 75 minutes by train, not counting the subway to Grand Central to catch this train. Do I want to spend that much time to and from work? That's a lot of train.

Bethlehem, PA! Is this really a contender? Yes, maybe. I was born in Bethlehem before moving to Toronto. It is lovely, and charming. The houses are giant and gorgeous and so damn cheap! I mean REALLY cheap. And the appeal to me of Bethlehem is that it is small city itself - it has a big university, a college, industry and business of its own, and if one day I chose not to suffer the insufferable publishing world, I could probably find a job in Bethlehem. The cons are plenty. Bethlehem is 75 miles away, and about 80-90 minutes away in no traffic. Traffic? There isn't a train line between Bethlehem and NYC, just a bus. If there was a train line - something that some people seem to think is in the not-so-distant future - those cheap houses would be more expensive houses. Right now, its a little bit too long of a commute for me.

There are other contenders, too, though they are low down and don't pop up in my daydreams as much. Like Metuchen, NJ (45 minute commute), Cold Spring, NY (houses are kind of expensive there), or maybe Long Island. Sigh. I'm already looking at furniture that I would buy if I had my beautiful house. So sad! And I email H. links to houses I like with lists of renovations I would do (ie pull out carpet, paint walls, brand new kitchen). How do you stop yourself when you obsess about something so far away?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

26/72

It took me two weeks to finish The Champlain Road. Not because it was long, but because - I don't know, it was dense or something. The Champlain Road is a work of historical fiction - it is to Canadian history what The Other Boleyn Girl is to Tudor history. Except without any sexytimes. It is somewhat outlandish, and very romantic.

I rather enjoyed the two women in the story, and the ideas about women, and ladies, and heathen ladies. On one hand there was a Huron woman - hyper-sexualized (predatory, even), violent, a heathen (of course!). Then there is the white woman - raised by the Iroquois - a warrior with them, but once with the Jesuits and the French, instantly a lady! She likes sewing! Immediately! It must be one of those inherent white lady things - the Sewing Instinct. It takes her a little while to get used to the curtsy, and her new clothes, but eventually she learns how to be a good girl - not so Iroquois-y, you know. Anyway, assuming you won't be reading it, the white woman becomes a real lady and a man falls in love with her, and the Huron woman gets killed with an axe to the head. That's what happens to heathen over-sexed girls.

Now I'm reading Running to Paradise by Kildare Dobbs (1962).

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

fritterati

Do you know how to make zucchini *delicious*? Smother it in batter with lots-o-feta and fry it up. Like so:


Yummy. Enjoy with some Greek yogurt, like so:


Recipe for these delicious fritters is here.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

highly caffeinated

Soon after we moved into our apartment two years ago, my parents came to visit us. They were appalled that we didn’t have a coffee maker, and that my father was forced out into the cold streets to go two blocks to Dunkin’ Donuts to get his fix. Being cunning like a fox, I used that opportunity to suggest my parents buy me a coffee maker. Yes, I am an adult. But they did it!

For a few months I was so into making my own coffee. I set it on a timer so it would be ready for me in the morning. I would listen to it brewing away while I was still in bed. Then I kept running out of ground coffee, and kept not buying more. And then I started buying a cup of coffee every morning on the way into work, and watching my monies go again. Bye-eeee!

So, I am re-committing to making my own coffee in the morning, and bringing it to work in my eco-friendly travel mug – in the interest of saving money primarily, the environment secondarily. Possibly thirdarily. Last week I brought my coffee every day, and I didn’t even have to buy my own bag of coffee – since a visiting friend bought it for us when he was forced to go to Dunkin’ Donuts for his coffee fix because we didn’t have any. Oopsie.

You know what I don’t like about bringing my coffee on the subway in the morning? I feel like holding my mug, or gripping it between my thighs if I’m reading my book, makes me too hot. Makes me sweaty. There’s no way around that, though, is there? I could put the mug on the floor and hold it between my feet, but I feel like Subway Germs could climb up the mug and into the coffee. That happens, right?

I went and picked up our newly framed poster yesterday. And it looks good!


Happy with that! So, I'm determined to get that old map - the one that was number one on the framing list - framed soon. Very soon. Very, very soon. I haven't mentioned this to H. yet (he's still in California), but I have half a mind to drop it off this week! We'll see how that goes.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Hi 2011!

January 3 - so far, so good. Well, almost.

I'm on 25/72 now - The Champlain Road (1939) by Franklin D. McDowell. Maybe I can even finish this reading project by this time next year. I just need to read at least one book a week.

Last night I made those much-loved salmon cakes for lunch. They are just SO GOOD. And easy. And cheap. Now I've collected a bunch of recipes to try for our lunches for the next few weeks. I'm happy to be back on the brown-bag wagon, but I seriously had to dissuade myself from going to the Pret a Manger at lunch. Instead, I went to J Crew to use a gift card, and then to Trader Joe's and got some groceries with another gift card. Yay for spending money that isn't money!

So, it seems like I'm on back on track for reading, and making my lunch, and I even bought lots of organic dairy at TJ's for cheap... But then I bought something online. A poster. It happened so fast, I could hardly stop myself! Maybe I was missing home. I don't know. I ordered this Toronto neighborhood poster from Ork Posters!

It doesn't matter, because I don't have to save ALL my pennies, like last year. Just lots and lots of them. Like millions of pennies.

H. and I also brought his Dosters poster to a framing shop yesterday to have it professionally framed. I am so looking forward to getting it back! It won't even be that expensive (if I am to believe the quote). I'm not sure how the poster jumped the queue of all the things we need to get framed, but this at least this gives me an idea of how much some of the other ones will cost, so I can plan accordingly. Yay!
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