Kitchen Living Room

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

To Buy a Car or a Credenza

Hey, look! A piece of furniture that costs about as much as my car.

The Mestizo Blue Credenza, a $24,000 piece handmade in Mexico. It's fabulous! It's hand-beaded!

Ok, I just had to share that.

Friday, October 14, 2011

More Anthropologie Love and Midterms

I have been super busy because my dad is visiting, I have a difficult statistics midterm on Monday (I'm in my first semester of an MBA program), and of course work work work. But I hate to not keep my blog updated with my condo progress, so I thought I would post a super quick update!

Anthropologie has tons of housewares in addition to their beautiful clothing (for women). They also happen to carry a great selection of hardware in their stores and online. I knew I would want to use their selection of knobs for something. I decided against trying to use them in the kitchen because I think their pretty-but-very-detailed knobs would look too kitschy and busy on kitchen cabinets. But I did think that one knob from Anthrpologie would be a great replacement for this closet/laundry room door knob that came with the condo:

I considered painting it, I mean spraypainting it, a pretty color or even trying to hand paint it a pretty design. But it was just too big and ugly. Sorry, knob! So I tried out a few from Anthropologie, planning on returning the ones I wouldn't use:

This is the Finishing Touch knob in dark gray. It popped a bit too much against the white of the closet door.

This knob is the Sussex Rose in ivory. It blended in too much against the white of the closet door.

And this beauty is the Edwardian in aqua. And it was jusssssssssssst right (like Goldilocks!). At $10 it was not exactly a bargain (ok, definitely not even close), but I like it and it looks great.

Ta-da! (And I do realize that the closet door needs some freshening up. Paint or cleaning or something. And that picture is old, our hallway is now purple. Haha. Saying that never gets old.)

By the way, a little trick about Anthropologie: if you want to see all of the knobs they have in stock, you can't just go to their knobs section. If you want to see the knobs that are on sale, you'll have to go to their sale section to see that selection! Their knobs run from about $8-$12 each full price, but they sell for as little as $3 on sale. And I did return the knobs I didn't use with no problem. Anthropologie has great customer service.

Speaking of Anthropologie, I went in this week with my dad and left with these beauties:

The Ihrin Shirtdress in green by Lili's Closet. I've never purchased a dress by that line before, and I like the quality (good buttons, good side zipper, excellent seam work, etc), however the one downfall that is so common in dresses these days is that there is no lining. The material is very substantial and it doesn't technically require a lining, but linings add a sense of luxury that must far outweigh the cost of a cheap layer of lining fabric, in my opinion. It also needs some sort of gathering in the chest because it was made for a woman built a bit differently than me (Ha Ha Ha) but I solved that by pairing it with a wide belt. (And I even wore it last night to test it out and it worked well.) I also love the sleeve length on this dress. I really do not care to show my arms and as a result I do not care for sleeveless dresses and cap sleeve dresses. I just feel much more comfortable with my arms covered, for some reason.

Yes, yes, those are bugs on that shirt. This is the printed boy tee with bug print by Pilcro. I own one other shirt by Pilcro and I like the quality fine, but their designs are really what win me over. However, their shirts are full price at $40 and I would never pay that much, but that's just me. I always buy them on sale.

In other news, there will be a HUGE dining room update coming soon. And it's not paint. And it may have to do with furniture. Hellllo!!!!! I can't wait to share that with you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Brownie in a Mug

So this is a little different, but nevertheless I am posting a recipe! Lately I have been very busy because I have midterms next week in school, and of course work is keeping me busy as usual.

I checked out close to a dozen 'cake in a mug' recipes found via Google today. I took what I learned, and I made my own! I would call it 'brownie in a mug' though because I did not find it to be light and fluffy like cake at all. It was chewy & gooey like a brownie. I love to experiment with baking, and although this does not involve an oven, it was an experiment that turned out quite well.

Brownie in a Mug

2 tablespoons sugar (I used plain white sugar) note: most recipes called for an equal ratio of flour to sugar. I chose to chop that trend in half because I like other flavors besides 'sweet' to shine in baking.
4 tablespoons flour (I used organic all-purpose flour)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil (always use extra virgin olive oil, or evoo. make sure your bottle says those exact words.)
2 tablespoons almond milk (almond milk is my favorite alternative to dairy milk because it is gluten free)

Combine dry ingredients in a normal size mug and mix. Add wet ingredients and mix. Microwave for 1.5 to 2 minutes. I started at one minute and just kept microwaving in about 20 second intervals until the consistency was moist without being overly liquidy.

Yum! I had never tried 'baking' in a mug before, but I am now a fan. It's great for a quick dessert when you are alone. Next time I might try adding a little vanilla. I meant to, but I forgot. This recipe is very forgiving, I think!

I might go try my hand at an applesauce-cinnamon-coconut milk-almond milk ice cream recipe now. Ice cream recipes are much more difficult to invent, however!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thermostat Upgrade

One of the first projects completed at the new condo was the installation of a new thermostat. As I mentioned here, the thermostat that came with the condo was ollllllllld. Here's a picture of the original thermostat:

It still had a slidy-bar thingy! And on the inside there was a glass container full of mercury. So here's what we upgraded to:


I picked this thermostat because it is programmable up to seven days and because the screen does not stay back-lit all of the time. The last house (a rental) that I lived in had a blue back-lit screen that never turned off. It used to keep me up when I was trying to sleep. This is also the model of choice because my boyfriend wanted a touch screen instead of buttons because it is more awesome that way. It cost about $68 dollars from Amazon, and the electric company offers a $50 rebate on digital thermostats so it ended up costing less than $20. Be sure to check with your electric company if you are making any energy saving upgrades because they may offer some form of reimbursement!

I was a little (very) nervous that installation would be troublesome. However, literally the most difficult part was separating the back installation plate from the front bulk of the thermostat so that we could affix it to the wall with screws (the new thermostat). It took FOREVER to figure out how. Basically you have to pull really hard in the right direction. I wish I knew more than that. Here's a breakdown of the installation process:

The FIRST STEP is to turn off the power to the breaker switch that the thermostat is powered by. Or you can turn off the power in your entire residence to be on the safe side. Just be careful and know that your fridge or freezer might defrost.

The old thermostat had three main parts, the back plate that connected to the wall, a second plate that connected to that first plate and held the mercury, and the front cover. We removed the front cover and the second plate.

This is what was left over when the first two plates were removed. At this point you'll want to label each wire so you can remember where to attach it to on the new thermostat. The wires should have little letters next to them like 'w' or 'x'.

Making sure the power was off, we used a flat head screwdriver to remove the final back plate from the wall. (Notice that this is before we painted the walls in the living room/hallway purple, I mean gray?)

Here's the back plate now removed from the wall and being held next to what was left sticking out of the wall (wires in various colors). At this step you can clearly see the little pieces of tape that labeled the wires so we could remember which wire belonged to which function.

 Just admiring how good the new thermostat will look!

Use a level to make sure the thermostat will be even on the wall.

The next step is to drill new holes for your new thermostat's back plate and install. You can also see where I spackled a bit in the old thermostat's holes so I could paint over it well later (the pinkish-purple circle). Now you can attach the wires!

Now all that's left is to snap that puppy on...

And turn on the power! (Whew, it was 83 degrees in there.)

It glows in the dark! (And it's still 83 degrees.) And yes, I keep my thermostat at 78 degrees. But that was for September - not August!

Overall it was not that bad. I would say that most people could complete this home improvement project without too much trouble. In case you're curious, we installed the new thermostat probably five days into our first electric bill, so we don't have any idea as to how much money it saved. But the electric bill for September was only $13.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Drip, Drip! Kitchen Upgrades Under $25 Part 2

See part 1 here.

When I first started getting really serious about purchasing this condo, I immediately began researching new appliances. The current appliances are quite dated and consist of a mid size (apartment size) fridge in white, SMALL TEENSY TINY dishwasher in black, and a miniature stove in white. Through my thorough research I can tell you that replacing old apartment size appliances with nice, new apartment size appliances is expensive. Maybe because only the truly insane want them? Or maybe because they're designed and marketed toward extremely wealthy inhabitants of New York and Europe? I can't say for sure. This is the most affordable apartment-size range I could find ($900):

Summit Apartment Size Range $900

So my main problems with my current appliances is their small size and the fact that they don't match. And they aren't stainless steel. Although we did have a white gas stove in our old house, where I think stainless appliances would have just looked silly.

I've also consulted some neighbors about what they think the chances of fitting full size appliances in with a full redesign might be. They seem to think that is definitely not an option, and I would agree. Mostly because I already like the cabinets and cabinets are expensive. And a redesign would require new cabinets (I think).

So without further ado, here is my sad, yucky little stove:

So as a quick upgrade to the little white stove, I replaced the gross silver drip pans with brand new black drip pans from Home Depot (about $6 each for a total of $24). I figured the black color would help hide stains in the future. Of course I will clean them. Maybe.

8 in. Porcelain Drip Bowl for Non-GE and Non-Hotpoint Electric Ranges

If you look very carefully you might notice that the package reads, "Fits most brands EXCEPT GE and Hotpoint." And my stove just happens to be a Hotpoint stove. Ha ha. I think what it should read, "Fits most brands EXCEPT GE and Hotpoint and UNLESS you have a tiny, weird stove." This mis-labeling on the package required an extra trip to Home Depot.

Here's another picture of the stove before I put the new drip pans in:

In the picture above you can see that at this point I had already added a small kitchen timer from Anthropologie (sold out, but you can get it at Amazon), since my stove does not have any fancy schmancy digital clocks or thermometers.

And finally, after the new drip pans went in:

A huge improvement! I also super glued a little piece of the black plastic trim that had broken off of the top of the stove and added a thermometer to the inside of the stove. And... I didn't bother taking any before and after pictures of those additions.