Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fruit Salad, Yummy Yummy

I promised more recipe posts, and more recipe posts I shall deliver. 

This light and fresh salad comes from Cooking Light. It was originally included as part of a series of recipes focused on increasing your water intake outside of drinking 8 glasses a day. This is perfect for a girl like me who has to force herself to drink one glass a day (read more about how I tricked myself into drinking more by creating spa water here)

Cucumber, Pear and Watermelon with Ricotta Salata
8 servings
2 cups cubed seedless cucumber
2 cups cubed seedless watermelon
1 pear, peeled and diced
2 cups halved red grapes
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbs honey
1 1/2 tsp grated lime rind
2 Tbs lime juice
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
3 oz crumbled ricotta salata cheese for top

The fruit was mixed together and set aside, and then it was as easy as lightly tossing it with the sour cream through red pepper mixture. The little bit of pepper gave the recipe a surprising kick.
This also gave me the excuse to try a new cheese. The recipe said feta could be used as a substitute, but I found the ricotta to be a fresher taste than a typical feta.
All in all, a tasty treat for a summer weekend lunch!

PS. This post title comes from a Wiggles song that my niece used to listen to (or maybe we just kept playing it over and over and she couldn't have cared less? I can't recall).  I enjoy the intensity of the phrase "Fruit Salad!" at the end of the chorus.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tools of the Trade

Having never worked on a home remodel before, Bob and I were severely lacking in tools to get the job done. We manage to fit quite a bit in the plastic tote and toolbox that sits on the bottom of our closet floor, but mainly things for the odd job around the house: hammers, cordless drill, pliers set, no less than 4 tape measures. . .

We knew that this bathroom remodel was going to gain us some tools, but even I am surprised at how many we've managed to pick up over the last 2 months. While I'll still count them towards our overall expenses for the bathroom (I'm estimating $400 of our budget will be tools that can be re-used), the nice thing is that we can anticipate using all of these again over the years for future renovations and DIY projects.

So what sorts of things have we found a need for that we didn't already have on hand? Here's a breakdown, and I know we'll have a few more items added to this list before the end of this project!
Lantern/Flashlight ($20) - We had a great lantern that could be used as a flashlight or stood up on end to act as a light source. Originally bought for camping trips, we found it handy as we gazed into the crevices of the wall we were ripping out and the bathtub drain to find obstructions. And then we tripped and it went flying. Our broken lantern was replaced with an even better one that has a handle for hanging.

Sledgehammer ($35) - I wanted to avoid this purchase, as it seemed like our demo was going smoothly with just a hammer and mighty swing, but then we discovered we were dealing with a cast iron tub. Time to bust out the big guns.
Chalkline Kit ($6) - We used itas a plumb bob to ensure our pocket door kit install was perfectly spaced, but I am sure we'll find another task or two for this one.

A Longer Level ($15) - We sprung for a five footer once we realized our mini-level wasn't cutting it.

Chisels ($15) - We probably only needed one, but we picked up two so that we could both tackle the wall tile at the same time. The flat edges made lifting up floor tile like this a snap.
Cutting Tools ($35) - we've been slicing and dicing through wood, drywall and metal, so had to pick up the right saw for each job. We look forward to the day of having power tools - and the space for them - in our lives.

Tarp ($15) - My usual dropcloth of an old sheet got the heave-ho for the time being, replaced with something heavier duty to protect our floors. We also used it to block the cats from entering the bathroom once we removed the door and outer wall, before we were able to clean up all of the sharp debris from the tub removal.
Tin Snips ($10) - Our studs are metal, which meant a few of them had to get cut down for us to properly install the pocket door kit and create a new header.

Protection ($25) - Respirators for when we're tearing into the drywall, disposable gloves for when we're touching gross stuff (like the waxy ring holding the toilet in place), safety goggles for when tile shards are flying and work gloves to protect my hands (Bob already had a pair). I am all about the precautions so that our budget doesn't take an "emergency room visit" type hit.
2 Buckets ($5) - Not pictured, but already very useful for hauling debris downstairs and soon-to-come grout mixin'.

Frog Tape ($10) - Thinking further ahead with this one, but we'll be doing a lot of re-painting soon enough. I have heard good things about Frog Tape vs. the usual blue that I buy, so we'll give it a whirl.

Tub Drain Wrench ($15) - Designed to reach into the small space of the tub drain to remove it, we used this tool for exactly 5 seconds, but it did the trick. 
Tile Tools ($90) - grout float, tile cutter, tile nippers, mallet and trowel. We'll still need a wet saw rental at some point to take care of our 24" long floor tiles that need a beveled edge, but the 12" one we picked up for $45 should be all we need for the wall tile and shorter side of the floor tile.

Drywall Installation Tools ($20) - Since we haven't gotten to this part of the remodel yet, I have a feeling we'll still add a few more pieces to this list, but so far we've picked up a mud pan and 12 inch taping knife. 

In the meantime, we've given our hallway a bit of a break from looking like a war zone. With weddings taking up our next couple weekends, and lots of other "life stuff" going on, we're going to revisit our remodel come September!
Ahh, so much cleaner. Plus,  you get a sneak peek of our pocket door kit and tub frame! 

Wait, no! Don't go in there! Don't go in the second bedroom!!
And that's why we keep the door shut.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Salmon Jammin'

All this bathroom remodelin' has really taken a toll on our time in the kitchen. At least, that's my explanation for why we haven't been to the grocery store for a month and have been living one meal at a time for the last few weeks. Exhibit A: a dinner consisting of Kraft Mac & Cheese for Bob and Spaghetti-O's for me. Oh dear.
I finally broke out some old Cooking Lights (my 12-issue 2007 subscription still gives me new recipes each time I flip through them!) and created a grocery list fit for adults - no Spaghetti-O's allowed. First up, we made Grilled Salmon Tacos with Chipotle Sauce.

I didn't pick up any actual Chipotle Chiles, instead settled for a teaspoon or so of Chipotle seasoning. This was combined with 1/2 cup mayo, 2 Tbs minced cilantro and 2 Tbs buttermilk to create the sauce.
We also decided to mix up the call for green cabbage and stick with radicchio that was sliced up and added to 3 Tbs lime juice and 1/3 cup green onions.
The salmon called for a BBQ spice rub that was easy to make with things we had on hand already: Hungarian paprika, salt, pepper, thyme, cumin, cinnamon, chili powder and brown sugar. We didn't feel like lighting up the grill (or spending the evening sitting in our alley, which is our unfortunate necessity when it comes to grilling), so we settled for a cedar plank on our stovetop grill pan.
After 20 minutes or so, the fish was perfectly done and we flaked it into pieces for the tacos.
A layer of sauce, the radicchio mixture, salmon, diced tomatoes and a little extra sauce on a flour tortilla. Yum.
Expect a few more upcoming recipe posts thanks to our long overdue grocery trip!