Wednesday, February 23, 2011

mold.

As mentioned earlier here we have DIY'd our aerogarden.  It had semi success.  Success in that the seeds planted next to it grew great!  They're currently transplanted to larger pots and placed outside on our deck during sunny afternoons.  More to come on that later.

Mold.
Originally uploaded by asaingurl

Back to the aerogarden.  As we tried to save money by not buying the official Aerogarden product pre-portioned seed cups; we self sabotaged our project.  I had suspicions when we went with kitchen sponge instead of the official grey foam to mount the seeds in.  But I figured 'hey what's the worst that can happen?'.  Enter mold.  FAIL BLOG.

What happens when you put an organic product inside a synthetic sponge and run it continuously under water for almost a month?  You get mold.  This doesn't take a genius or even a elementary school science fair project to figure out.  I had thought I noticed something a few days after we 'planted' them.  I noticed the sponge had changed colors in some parts but let it continue to try to thrive.  About 3 weeks later upon checking the water level and to see if any roots had grown into the water basin we spotted it.  A tiny but significant growth of it.  Disaster!  Mold. 

We promptly removed all mold, seed pods, sponges and any remains of the DIY disaster.  We dumped the water and bleached the inside of the reservoir.  Sorry no real photos - didn't have a chance.  Panic set in since a. mold is gross and b. it was in our kitchen right next to all our fresh counter top produce. 

We've gotta keep it real here, no pretending that everything we do is magically awesome.  Next up perhaps: a real official aerogarden?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Newlywed finances

Like all newlyweds starting their life together we've had to sort out our finances.  Regardless of whether you've lived together before marriage or not things can get interesting after the I Do's.  I've read up a lot on different people's arrangements/situations/opinions on the money subject.  I'd like to share our methods to our success. 

Unlike couples who have complicated systems with multiple accounts, %'s of income that get split up, each paying for certain things, and those who have 'fun money', we do none of that.  I was very surprised to read about how many newlyweds (& others) who live by this individualistic system.  I guess it's the modern couple thing to do.  I can't imagine owing money to your spouse, or not saving for the future together.  Now to each their own but this would never work for us. 

We live by the 'everything mine is yours' philosophy.  We have 1 joint checking account and a few joint savings accounts.  Both our incomes go into the 1 checking account and from there we pay all our bills and cover all our expenses.  It's that simple.  We transfer money to each of the savings account (set aside for different goals like house, car, kids, emergency etc) that are held at different credit unions.  We keep our credit union accounts active for the high interest rates and membership for the great mortgage rates in the future.  Almost all bills are auto deducted from our checking account so we don't spend money or time on envelopes or stamps.  This means everything is paid on time and we don't have to worry about bills.  We keep track of everything including loans, retirement accounts & investments on mint.com.  It makes it easy for us both to see what's going on and to track our spending.  It automatically puts transactions into categories so sticking to a budget is simple and the graphs are easy for even us to understand.  We both have the iphone app so we can check up on it anywhere - and do.

We also have taken each other's debt as our own.  I know lots of people can't imagine asking their partner to pay down their debt (even after marriage) - but not us.  We're a family now and we think as a team.  No matter how much each of us earns individually.  We are paying off the highest interest rate loans first - starting with my car and then his student loans. 

For us this method is working great!  We spend how we please and typically consult each other for larger purchases - say $100 or more-ish.  We don't have to stress over owing each other money, switching money between personal accounts, keeping purchases secret, feeling guilty or spending all our allotted personal money.  We have very similar views on how money should get spent so we're almost always on the same page on things.  We're pretty frugal but still enjoy dinners out once a month, eating semi organic, and hobbies like coffee experimenting.

For many working out how to combine finances once married can be a struggle, and even discussing it can be taboo.  But for us it's been easy going and smooth sailing so far.

Monday, February 21, 2011

our semi organic vegetarian menu for the week


Can you detect a theme here?  Yep more vegetarian!  No real meat for us.  Our reasons for eating vegetarian are basic: we want to be healthy and good organic-free-range-no antibiotics-no growth hormone meat is expensive!  We're saving cash buy buying {some organic} veggies over the pricey Whole Foods like awesome meat.  So far it's going well - no big deal anyway since we rarely bought meat to start with.  We used to get rotisserie chicken - 100% NOT organic and TJ's sausages as well as fish pretty often.  Ehh... those weren't that good to begin with right?!?

Here's some shots from our Saturday meal - okay we made it this past weekend, my menu is off.  


all photos by Tony
Got any good vegetarian meals/recipes you like?

local food, local brews, local... Gin?

Guest Blog by Tony:

North Carolina as a state, as well as the region where we live known as the Triangle, is home to a plethora of options for foodies off all types. It is a mecca of farm-to-table/sustainable/support local agriculture restaurants. It's home to an ever-increasing number of FoodTruck startups (including Korean, Detroit style pizza, burgers, taquerias and more), and one would be amiss to forget the amazing North Carolina BBQ (our favorite is Hog Heaven, but if I find a loop hole or caveat to our current meat-free state of living, our next stop is "Allen & Son").

Amongst this culinary survey of options of course, are the microbreweries who bring joy and happiness to many-a-North Carolinian after a long day at work. While I appreciate wine, and apparently North Carolina has some fine muscadine grape varieties, I just can't develop a sophisticated palate, and scoff at wines that cost over $20 (I personally can't find any correlation between taste and price!). There are literally dozens of microbreweries in the state, and we are within a dart's throw of three of our favorites: Lone Rider, Fullsteam, and Triangle Brewing.
 
A recent trip to Bowling Green KY involved a visit to the local liquor store to see what kind of local beers they might sell. While there, we made two discoveries: The first, was that absinthe is both distilled and sold again in the US (and is available in Kentucky!). We bought a bottle and broke it out at a recent get-together and while it wasn't for everybody, the licorice-flavored beverage was a refreshing departure from your standard liquor varieties.  (Sorry no photo available).  The second discovery was a local micro distillery called Corsair. 

At least in North Carolina, recent changes in state law permitted higher alcohol content in beers, which contributed to the explosion in the number of microbreweries. I'm not sure how exactly they pertain to distilled alcohol, but microdistilleries are an even smaller niche. We bought a gin from Corsair for Robin's dad, which I tried and loved. A newfound awareness for these independent distilleries aided us in our most-recent trip to the ABC store, at which we found a gin made by Southern Artisan Spirits, out of King's Mountain, as well as several North Carolinian "Moonshines" from Piedmont Distillers. We bought a bottle of moonshine for a bachelor party gift, and a bottle of the Cardinal Gin to try for ourselves.
 Stay tuned for the verdicts!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Eco - toothbrush?

We don't claim to be eco - experts.  We just sometimes choose eco products over the traditional ones.  We're as you know - semi organic.  Which in my personal opinion is better than non organic, or even organicisstupidawasteofmoneyallhypebs.  For us it's a balance of choosing the best eco/organic products while still keeping to a budget.  Anyone in America can tell you organic = expensive!  Duh.  Our latest switch has been something less expected - toothbrushes! 

While walking the aisles (and chomping down all the free samples) of our local Earth Fare we found these in the health/beauty section.  Hint: Saturday = free samples galore!  Random fact: I was actually searching for a blood type home testing kit (long story) which they no longer stock.  So we found these 'preserve' toothbrushes.  Their motto is 'Nothing Wasted. Everything Gained'. 
What's the deal with these?  The handles are made from recycled yogurt cups.  They are also free to recycle back - the packaging is itself a prepaid envelope.  When you're done using the brush just slip it back in the package and mail back to the company.  They'll recycling it back into new toothbrushes!  Pretty cool!  They even have a toothbrush subscription program where you mail back your used ones and they send you a new one every 3 months.

And it's my opinion that they're really comfortable - both to hold and on your teeth/gums.  I of course go with the Ultra Soft variety.  They come in a range of softness-es and colors.  Visit here for details. 

And of course cost?  They're $2.99.  Not the cheap .99 cents sale toothbrush with $1 off coupon at CVS, but I feel good about buying them.  The company Preserve makes other recycled products as well.  They make razors, toothpicks, plates, cups, bowls, cutting boards, colanders & tupperware.  Not sure where all of them can be purchased but I'll update if we get any new cool goodies.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Teeccino - the semi organic coffee alternative

In my pursuit to find a great tasting and semi normal (also fairly priced) coffee alternative here & here I have stumbled upon Teeccino.  What is this?  "Teeccino Caffeine-free Herbal Coffee is a delicious blend of herbs, grains, fruits and nuts that are roasted and ground to brew and taste just like coffee."  Since it's caffeine free anyone can drink it - restricted diets, pregnant etc.  It doesn't upset your stomach and claims to have other benefits for a healthy life.  I found it at our local Earth Fare store down the street from us.  It's something like $12.00/bag (umm seriously? whatever.) and I really wanted it to be coffee.  It isn't.  But it's really not that bad. 
 
This product comes pre-ground - since there are no beans.  You brew it just like regular coffee.  You can use any brewing method.  You can drink it hot, cold, iced, as a latte, cappuccino etc.  I've taken to making it on our stove top espresso maker - no clue why.  Only since our coffee maker generally is being used by the non allergic member of our household.  Here's a little photo shoot of my latest brewing endeavour:




At first taste I don't always recognize it.  After a few sips it's becoming normal to me.  I've almost gone through the entire bag - it's actually that good.  (or maybe I'm that coffee deprived). 

Did I mention that the mini coffee station at work got relocated to across from my cube?  It means I get to watch everyone else guzzle up too many cups of coffee every day, while not getting to participate.

 

I have the feeling that if I drank this for long enough it I might actually forget what coffee tastes like and just be familiar with teeccino.  The question everyone wants to know is WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE?  Answer is: It's sort of earthy, chocolaty, rich & nutty.  (I'm a budding food interpreter huh?)  I like it with milk.  This was obviously vanilla flavored as well but it comes in many other flavors and combinations.  As it says on the package it is creamy accented by almonds, dates & figs.  It's pretty good and I keep making it so that must mean it's a keeper. 

Next up:

There are many more 'coffee alternatives' out there.  Wait and see what craziness I find next!

ps. is it weird that this product doesn't have a wikipedia page?  I thought everything on the planet had one!


Saturday, February 12, 2011

It's in the bag

Although I was too late to participate in the 'It's in the Bag' blog crawl it doesn't necessarily mean I can't play along!  Check out A Hasty Life for full info!

The contents of my bag:

  1. My purse - an amazing gift from a great friend.  It has owls - I love!  I constantly get compliments on it from strangers.
  2. make up/meds bag - the usual
  3. wallet - its pink and not too big, not too small
  4. work ID badge
  5. mace & rape whistle 
  6. pocket knife multi tool - yes I own one and carry it around.  I occasionally use it and while I don't it collects dust and dirt between its' crevices in the bottom of my bag
  7. iphone headphones - never go anywhere without them
  8. pen collection
  9. Lanshinoh breastfeeding nipple cream.  NO not pregnant!  It just works great as a lip balm.  I have terrible chapped lips and am on the constant search for the best chap-stick.  This works amazing! 
  10. pen light - my husbands' probably
  11. lip glosses & more chap-stick
  12. coupon envelope
  13. gum 
  14. the weirdest of all (maybe) - our marriage certificate.  A crumpled, water stained copied version of it at least.  I used to carry it around last year paranoid that someone wouldn't accept my name change and would require a marriage document to prove it.  At first I did when going to the SSO, bank, cable company etc but now I just carry a copy 'just because'. 
{not shown - keys & iphone - they were absent photo day}

Anyone else carry anything weird around with them in their bag?

Friday, February 11, 2011

If I won a free makeover for one room in my house, I would...

Thanks to Liz at It's Great to be home for throwing an awesome blog party.  To start the party (first month) off the topic is If I won a free makeover for one room in my house, I would . . .

For starters we live in an apartment.  Thus If I won a free makeover for one room in my house apartment, I would ... re do our bedroom.  These are my our ideas:


This is a mock up of what I'd like have for our bedroom.  Our style is definitely dark woods and natural colors.  Our wedding was green and yellow.  The green Crate & Barrel sheets - we have those!  They are the inspiration for the room!  I'd love some dark wood furniture and some cool art work that pops.

To set the current landscape mental picture for you - we each had semi decent furniture before getting married.  I had a nice new queen sized mattress w/cheap metal frame as well as an old dresser.  He had a double sized bed with fancy sleep-by-numbers air mattress as well as a nice dresser.  When we combined forces (aka got married) we just moved everything into our new apartment together and distributed the furniture around it.  It's worked well but someday we'd like to upgrade.  We're not in a hurry though - lots of fun things to save for!


Join the blog party too!  Visit here for more info.  


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Meals for the Week - February 7th



I'm a little late with this week's menu but here it is!  As you can see it's mostly all vegetarian.  We just haven't been buying meat since it's cheaper, easier and healthier not to.  Some things on the list are an adventure!  We've never cooked with tofu or tempeh.  What is tempeh you ask?  Just check out trusty wikipedia for info on the fermented soybeans in cake form.  No not cake (what a cruel comparison) - block form. 

We scooped up some veggies on the discount rack this week at the store - cracked (but good) green peppers, decent chopped brocolli & still good celery.  It made menu creation easy with many options in our fridge just waiting to be eaten!  The discount rack saves you like 80% off regular priced produce - just be careful about cleaning and eating them right away to prevent spoilage.

Also not mentioned are chocolate pudding cookies w/nutella and maybe a jam tart or applesauce cake!

Monday, February 7, 2011

YouTube Monday



Wow I need this! Why was this not available on our Bed Bath and Beyond registry when we got married last year?  Can be bought here for a low low price of $20.  Also seen here on trendy girl.

I'm also thinking I could just make this.  I mean really how hard would it be?  I'd just need a thin strip of metal about 4" x 12".  I'd need something to file it smooth around the edges and then a cleaning product so it can touch food.  Also I'd need a cake, but I'm sure that's obvious.

Anyone with me? 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

We have Life!

photo credit: Tony

These babies love the light and are growing so fast!  They'll be big enough to transplant into larger pots before Spring arrives at this rate!  The tomatoes, lettuces, onions & love puff plants have all started to sprout. 

No word yet on the aerogarden plants.  They're giving me a 'No Comment' so far.  Apparently basil can take weeks to germinate (right?) so I haven't lost hope yet.

Check back soon for more progress!

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