Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Around the House: Powder Room Update

Although it's the smallest room in our house, the powder room was the hardest to decorate. For some reason i just couldn't decide on a paint color. After going through a bazillion paint samples I finally decided on Sherwin Williams Icelandic, which is a bit ridiculous because I have two other rooms painted this color. Why it didn't dawn on me to try this color first, is beyond me. Anywho, I'm pretty happy with how things turned out and will list some resources for anyone who might be interested. Starting with the Astor faucet pictured above by Newport Brass that I bought through Ebay at a very steep discount.

The little crab print is a 200 year old antique I found on Etsy for a few bucks (Maryland represent!) I had it framed up the street at McMillan Custom Framing. (Sidenote: Though pricier custom framing makes a huge difference in the appearance of your prints. Sometimes I like to shop for custom frames at flea markets and thrift shops and swap out the art they come with, with my own.)

The vintage schoolhouse light was a great find from Housewerks. If you like old fixtures or want to have period appropriate lighting, they are a must stop shop. I personally feel keeping or adding historical elements adds soul and character to your home, not to mention boosts your property value.

The ship pic is by a local photographer whose work can be found at Avenue Antiques in Hampden.

I hope you enjoyed! Now to tackle the rest of the house.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Around Town: The Lily Pad

We just found out our friend Robert is expecting a baby boy this spring. Unfortunately, he and his wife live all the way in Seattle so we probably won't be seeing them soon. Since we can't see them in person I thought it'd be nice to send them a special baby present. Just up the street from the house on York Road in Towson is a lovely kids consignment store called The Lily Pad. I've driven by a gazillion times but never dropped in. I figured now would be a good opportunity to see what they offer. When I went in the store was filled with a well curated collection of moderately priced goodies, including clothing, strollers, toys, shoes, teething name it.

 If used clothing isn't your thing (though I personally highly recommend it especially for baby clothes) they also have a few new clothing items with the original tags still one them. Like this little number I ended up getting for Robert and his wife. The outfit was a whopping $8!

Which left room in the budget for these gorgeous pink overalls, that I think I'll give to one of my little cousins when she turns one. I plan to take them back to The Lily Pad in a few months and have them monogrammed for her. 

"I believe that thrift is essential to well ordered living." ~John D. Rockefeller

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Around Town: Swallow at the Hollow

One of the great things about living in Lake Walker is that the city's BEST burger joint is just down the street (this place is actually tied with another burger place for the top spot, I'll tell you about the other place later). It's called Swallow at the Hollow, located at York and Northern Parkway. Though it's in a very unassuming modest building, the food is delicious. I highly recommend the burgers and cheesesteak. The staff are always so nice, and the place is filled with regulars. It's like our own little Cheers. A great place to visit if you want to watch a game, grab a beer, or have a hearty meal. Please stop by when you have a chance, you won't regret it. They have daily food specials, so call ahead to find out what's half off.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Frugal Living: Time to shop Clearance

For those of you with tight budgets and who are deal hunters like myself, this time of year is prime shopping time. During the first few weeks after Christmas stores are trying hard to push out their winter merchandise, so they can begin stocking spring items. For costumers this means deals, BIG DEALS. It's a great time to get a winter coat, sweaters, heavy pants, winter boots, and Christmas decorations. In anticipation of this time of year, I prepare by taking stock of what everyone in the house needs and any gift giving occasions that may arise. Then I head to the store to get stuff dirt cheap.

My all-time favorite store is TJ Maxx/Marshalls/Homegoods (they are all owned by the same company and carry the same merchandise so I think of them as one), and right now they're offering super savings. The hubs' wardrobe was in need of a little revamping, he's very hard on his clothes and ruins things fairly easy. For this reason I'm a stickler on getting a good deal, since his stuff may not make it through more than one season. My latest trip to TJ Maxx did not disappoint. I found several nice items ALL for $10 or less, one shirt was even $5!

When hunting be sure to stick to a predetermined list of things you need. It's easy to impulse shop when things are cheap. But if you buy a bunch of junk you don't need,  it cancels out all your discounts.

"A bargain ain't a bargain unless it's something you need." ~Sidney Carroll

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Around Town: The House Downtown

Today I made a stop into The House Downtown. It's a snazzy design store located down the street from Lake Walker in Belvedere Square. They sell beautiful sofas, light fixtures, beds, bedding, and accesories. They also have great smelling candles. Their merchandise is high-end and therefore a little pricey, but right now they're having a BIG SAMPLE SALE! So if you're in the market for any big ticket items, you may want to stop by. You can snag a good deal as they are trying to empty out their current stock to make way for new items.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

In the Kitchen: Sweet Potato Fries

Today I'm sharing a quick and easy recipe a friend shared with me for baked sweet potatoes fries. If you haven't had these before you must try em'. They are healthy and chocked full of flavor. Here's how you make them (serves 1-2):

-Cut one sweet potato into thin fries
-Sprinkle fries with salt, paprika, and a small amount of cayenne (more if you like a lot of spice)
-Place fires inside of plastic bag (I reuse grocery bags that are used to weigh produce) and add 1tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Then shake contents inside of bag.

Place fries on baking sheet and cook at 450 degrees. Flip fries after 5-7 mins, then cook an additional 5-7 mins or until fries taste done.

I like to dip these in a side of sour cream sometimes, but they taste great alone. Enjoy!

CALORIES:  232 (without sour cream), 264 (with 1 tbsp sour cream)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Ways to Save Money This Year

This time of year brings about all sorts of resolutions and promises to improve our lives. Often times these resolutions involve finances, so I thought I'd do a post about how to save money. Here are a few of my suggested tips:

1) Pay your mortgage bi-weekly. One easy way to save thousands of dollars is to pay your mortgage bi-weekly instead of once a month. For each payment simply divide your monthly payment by two. This will save you a TON on interest charges throughout the life of your loan. Use this calculator to find out just how much you will save.

2) Stop borrowing money. My motto is "Own not loan". In other words if you can't afford to pay for it in cash, you can't afford it. This includes a car. The only exception to this rule is a house (sidenote: your home should never cost more than two times your annual after tax household income) and certain educational expenses (i.e. those that result in increased pay equal to or greater than the cost of your education). Say goodbye to credit cards, cut them up right now, they are useless, unless of course you are a bank.

3) Cook more. Eating out a lot can seriously suck up your dough.

4) Buy used.  Buying used is the ish. It saves me hella money. I buy all sorts of used, purses, furniture, cooking gear, books, household equipment. Ebay, Craigslist (especially the free section), Etsy, garage sales, thrift and consignment stores are all your friends. They will save you BIG time.

5) Stop being lazy (I am sooo guilty of this). People spend tons of money on  gym memberships because they think it is necessary to stay fit. This is simply not true. How do you think people stayed skinny 100 years ago? I'll give you a clue it wasn't because of the gym. There all sorts of free ways to stay in your own yard work (and your neighbors if they can't do their own), walk your dog (or someone else's if you don't have one), play with your kids more, go for a jog, have more nookie, do yoga at home (there are free videos on youtube), run up and down your stairs, use free weights.

6) Reduce your entertainment expenses. The library, parks,  Baltimore Museum of Art, Walters Museum, and The Book Thing are all FREE. You can also save money by hosting dinner parties or potlucks instead going out for fancy dinners and drinks.

"Whatever your income, always live below your means. Good health, longevity, happiness, a loving family, self-reliance, fine friends....if you have five you're a rich man." ~Thomas J. Stanley, Millionaire Next Door

Saturday, January 4, 2014

In the Kitchen: Blackened Chicken Caesar Burrito

Tonight I cooked blackened chicken caesar burritos. I've never made these before, but love the ones from California Tortilla. A trip downtown to pick one up was out of the question so I decided to try to replicate it on my own. 

Here's what I used:

-cut grape tomatoes
-romaine lettuce
-motzerella cheese
-whole foods brand caesar dressing
-a can of black beans seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chopped onions
-warmed tortillas
-one chicken breast brushed with olive oil and sprinkled heavily with blackening seasoning ( make your own batch with 1tbsp each of paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder plus 1 tsp each of black and cayenne pepper) baked at 300 degrees

The hubs and I both liked it. I only wish I had thought to make some chips and queso :-( 


Friday, January 3, 2014

Winter in Lake Walker

We were hit with a ton of snow last night. This morning I decided to go out and snap a few pics of the aftermath, before things got all gross and dirty. Fresh snow is so pretty to me. Hope everyone is staying warm. Maybe there will be some snowmen up tomorrow :-)

Go GREEEEEN! If by chance the person who lives here reads this blog, I'd like to say hello. I'm a spartan too. Can you believe that Rose Bowl win!