string-saving


True, it has been way too long since I last blogged.  My life is changing (for the better), in both large and small ways, and I just haven’t taken the time to post.  But I’m back, because someone dear to me suggested I should blog some of my recipes, and this one is pretty tasty.

Produce often gets forgotten in our house, left to rot in a hanging basket or the bottom of the fridge.  I noticed  some aging bananas, so I decided to make use of them.  Here’s what I did, as adapted from the “I Hate to Cook Book”:

Banana Bread

6 very ripe bananas
1 stick margarine
1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 c. bread flour
4 eggs, well beaten
1 tsp. orange extract
1 Tbsp. cardamom
3 tsp. baking powder
1 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Cream butter, margarine and sugar in a large bowl (I used an immersion blender).  Add bananas, mix, and add beaten eggs.  Add orange extract, cardamom, baking powder, and flour, and mix well (don’t over-beat).  Stir in walnuts.  Pour into greased Bundt pan.

Now here’s where it gets tricky — the original recipe called for baking in a loaf pan.  I felt there was too much batter, so I went with the Bundt pan.  It said bake for 35 min., but I forgot to set the timer, so I just kept checking back until the top was brown and the contents weren’t jiggly anymore.   If you come up with a more precise baking time, feel free to leave it in the comments.

Enjoy!

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Yep, I’m a mess.  I suppose I should be able to just admit it and put it out in the open.  I save things, I have trouble with clutter, and I’m not always organized.  I can make my house look presentable (check out the flicker photos), and there are benefits to being a string-saver.  But I just found this out there on the interwebs, which somehow makes me feel a little better:

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, what are we to think of an empty desk?”  -Attributed to Albert Einstein

I always have felt Einstein was a kindred spirit.  🙂

Josh has been harassing me about how little I update my blog; and I was inspired by the roundup of Early Fall Favorites over at 101 Cookbooks, so I decided to do a roundup of my own of links and things I wish I could purchase/cook/design/create. 

Check out Heidi’s Espresso Caramels — they look like a good idea for Christmas and Chanukah presents.  Guess I’ll have to invest in a candy thermometer. 

 You may recall that recently I splurged on a gorgeous red leather sofa.  I love it, and I’ve been rearranging and decorating the living room ever since.  Currently, I’ve arranged a stack of floor pillows with a throw to fill an awkwardly empty space next to the TV.  One of my housemates and I discussed the possibility of replacing it with little square ottomans with trays and storage, in a pretty brown leather, like these:

 

We would order two of them to sit side by side.They would be functional and fashionable, which is a must in a small apartment.  But then, as I was searching online for them, I found this:

Full Leather Brown Tray Ottoman

 I think I might love it even more.  Same concept — those top cushions flip over into trays — but it’s one unified piece.  The deciding factor will be cost and space. 

I also love this cuckoo-free clock from Wal-Mart:

Retro Cuckoo Clock

But I can’t think of anywhere in the house to hang it at the moment, so I should probably wait to order it (even though it’s only $15!).

 I’ve also recently subscribed to Chester’s Clean House, which you should check out for cleaning tips from the male perspective.  Useful and succinct.

I went shopping at the GAP yesterday, and drooled over this green corduroy blazer: 

They’ve already knocked about $15 off the price; hopefully there will be another discount before they sell out completely.  I love it!

 For those of you who don’t read the New York Times (or aren’t privy to the service where I post many, many of their articles that interest me), they ran an article about people who are re-purposing bits and peices of (mostly) IKEA furniture.  As a reclaimer, recycler, and re-creator, this is highly appealing to me.  The article introduced me to Ikea Hacker, which has inspired me to try and customize a new desk out of the two old ones I have now.  If I make the time to do it.  We’ll see.  I’ll blog about it if I do.

 That should keep you busy and entertained for a while.

 Oh yeah, and check out Alissa Wilkinson‘s photography on Etsy.  She’s really good.  I just bought a print from her Petals & Light series that I LOVE.

In case you didn’t know, I live in a basement.  If that surprises you, you should know that I love it.  Even though I’m dreading the challenge of trying to air-condition it this summer (you can email me at texannewyorker [at] hotmail [dot] com if you’ve got suggestions), it’s a happy space, and I’ve really enjoyed making it my own.  I’ve lived there for almost three years, but until about two months ago, I shared it with a roommate.  She’s since moved on to Williamsburg, and I decided to take over the whole space for myself. 

A few people have suggested/requested that I blog my progress in redecorating the space, but that’s difficult to do without a real camera.  However, I got so excited about last night’s project that I couldn’t resist at least trying to capture some of it with my cameraphone.

The project:  re-vamp an old dresser a neighbor gave me

The obstacles:  refinishing and repainting are both time consuming and require workspace; I didn’t want to live with fumes or risk spilling paint/stripper/thinner/etc. on my basement floor or the concrete out back

Additional self-imposed rules:  adherence to my commitment to frugal living (my love for DIY projects helps that)

Solution:  covering the drawers with paper and replacing the hardware

I wanted the dresser to coordinate with the colors of my room (red, black, and white), but not match, per se.  I had some pretty paper that I’d purchased on sale for another project that I decided would be great for the dresser.

Materials:  gold paper w/white felt swirls
elmer’s spray adhesive
box cutter, screw drivers, scissors
plain white porcelain knobs

The project was actually fairly easy.  The first drawer didn’t go exactly as I’d planned, so I share with you the method for the final three drawers instead, which worked well.  I emptied the drawers and removed the existing hardware.  I then sprayed the drawer fronts with adhesive, and aligned the left side of the paper, a natural straight-edge, with the left side of the drawer and smoothed the paper across the front.  Because I used thick wrapping paper and a fairly “dry” adhesive, the paper stayed stiff and straight on its own and didn’t dip into any of the missing pieces of veneer or detailed veneer work on the front of the drawers.  I then trimmed the excess to the exact edge of the drawers using the box cutter (a razor blade or X-acto knife would have also worked).  I replaced the bottom six nobs with white porcelain knobs.  Actually, that’s only partially true.  Years ago I came across an old bedroom suite being thrown away, and though the furniture wasn’t anything I wanted, I did like the knobs, so I took all of them off and took them home.  There were four white ones and about 18 blue ones, all the same size, so I painted two of the blue ones with stark-white nail enamel so they’d match, then put them on the bottom (read: most inconspicuous) drawers.  For the top drawer, which is smaller, I re-used the original dark metal hardware, but painted over the existing detail with the same white nail enamel.

Halfway through, to give you a before/after idea:

kyleen-dresser.jpg

EDIT:  Thanks, J, for flipping this for me!  Hopefully I’ll also have better pictures of the finished project soon. 

I’ve posted before about being a string-saver and coming up with interesting uses for odd bits of “trash”.  (I may link to the post once I’ve converted my posts from Xanga.) Recently I’ve seen a few products that I think are neat, but that I have made at home with other more frugal resources.  For example, these pen pockets look great, and would have been really handy back in school when I carried lots of different binders and would sometimes show up to class without the “write” tool.  (I couldn’t resist.)  However, last year when our church put together an Easter choir and I was in charge of making sure everyone had matching folders with copies of all the music, I decided that everyone would need pencils, too, and that most people, like me, would probably forget them.  So, after purchasing folders and finding mechanical pencils on sale in bulk, I also bought self-adhesive velcro from the dollar store (less than what one pack of 5 pen pockets would cost) and put a small square of the hook side in the corner of each folder and wrapped the top of each pencil (leaving room for the eraser and to allow for clicking) with a square of the loop side (because if you happen to put your pencil behind your ear, it won’t get stuck in your hair).  Ta-DA!  Everyone had pencils.  As a bonus, if I saw anyone walking away with a velcro-clad pencil, I could say, “Oh, ‘scuse me, I think you’ve got a choir pencil.”

A week or so ago on a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond, I came across some boot hangers that struck my fancy.  However, seeing as how they were over $5 a pair and I have four pairs of cowboy boots alone (not to mention my other boots), I decided to stick with my current system of inserting empty paper towel rolls to keep the tops from falling over and creasing.  I don’t have the closet space to hang ’em anyway.  (Who has that much rod space, really?!)

Organizational accessories are a multi-billion dollar industry, and I love Bed Bath and Beyond and the Container Store more than most people will ever know.  I also, however, have a great fondness for doing things myself and making good use out of things most people discard.  The Frugal Duchess often posts “Tip Tuesdays” entries about uses for things like paper bags that are often helpful.  I think the key is figuring out what you need to accomplish, be it organizing shoes or cleaning out the fridge, and then thinking a bit more creatively about the most cost-effective way to do it.  A little trash goes a long way.  :o)