Monthly Archives: March 2011

If squirrels ate vegetables…

They’d eat acorn squash! OK, I know, cue the shepherd’s hood, lol.

I give you, acorn squash!

Today, thanks to an recipe from $5 Dinners, I decided to try a new veggie. You can visit her page the full, original recipe for Honey Roasted Chicken and Acorn Squash (and some other yummy ones). Here’s my acorn squash experience.

The first step was to cut it in half (lengthwise). That was the hardest part! My tip is to use a very big knife and don’t try to cut through the stem. Once you get it open, scoop out the seeds (which you can keep and roast if you want).

Guts 🙂

Then cut it into sections along its seams and put in a baking dish. I used a Pyrex glass pie dish since the round shape worked with the wedges. Here they are baking alongside the chicken.

While they are baking for 20 minutes, I whisked 1/4 c. butter, 1/4 c. honey and a couple dashes of ground ginger and cinnamon. My tip on this is when the recipe says softened, make sure it’s softened! Otherwise when you try to whisk, you get this fun globule inside your whisk instead. Live and learn…

Take out the squash and pour the honey butter mix on the wedges then bake for 20 more minutes. When that timer goes off, you’ll know they are ready because they will slightly browned and glistening and your house will smell delicious.

Jeremy wasn’t home yet so I asked Alaska if she wanted to try acorn squash.

She's intrigued

She sniffed at it and then gently took some courtesy bites before inhaling the whole piece!

Yum! One happy taste tester

It was defintely a success. The flavor was wonderful but sadly, a texture issue prevailed and so we each only had one piece. It’s quite thick and mushy…Jeremy compared it to yams or sweet potato mash. :/ Maybe I’ll peel the rinds off and actually mash them? Oh well, I served it with the chicken (marinated overnight in the honey, ginger, cinnamon combo) and Uncle Ben’s 90 second whole grain brown rice (it’s the jam and ridiculously easy).

Overall, I’m glad I tried it. And I’m sure there are lots of ways to try it–anyone have stories to share? Have you tried any new foods lately?

Feeling preppy

It was time to prep our two recently acquired dining room bookcases. I will admit, I’ve never done a project this big, so it’s defintely a greenhorn opportunity. Thankfully research on Google and some of my favorite blogs offered a ton of info.

Although the drawers are real wood and dovetail jointed, the outside was wood veneer so the refinishing was much easier. If would’ve been real wood throughout the piece, (according to the results of said research) I would’ve had to strip then sand it within an inch of its life and then decided between staining and painting. I skipped all of that! 🙂  Here are our steps so far…

1) Take everything apart. Drawers were pulled out, hinges were unscrewed and removed, the fold-down table parts were detached and the backs were removed to access every angle possible. Side note, I also labeled things like each screw, drawer pull and hinge to make sure they went back to the right place since it’s an older piece and may have wear that matters.

I used painter's tape to make sure nothing rolled away

2) Use an electric sander with 220 sand paper to “rough it up.” I wore glasses and a mask since in addition to the veneer dust, I was sanding 30 years at someone else’s house off the shelves. I found paper clips, crayon pieces, one sewing needle and a couple dust bunnies the size of real bunnies!

3) Dampen some washcloths and wipe down the surfaces. I went through six!

4) Find and repair all damage. We had some bubbled veneer around the top, a few banged up corners and several gouges/scratches down the outsides. I’m sure there are other ways (probably better ways) to address these problems but we went with some good ol’ DAP spackle. We chose the kind that’s pink and dries white, which we thought was important enough to be sure of to spend the extra 50 cents (plus it was pretty and fun to watch). For the bubbled warped parts, we used a razor blade to cut the veneer cleanly and filled it in with spackle.

5) Use a sanding block to hand-sand the repaired spots gently (see all the white DAP-repaired spots? Yep there were a lot). I got really good at remodeling and sanding.

I'm a sanding fool!

6) By now, I had a pretty good amount of sanding dust layered throughout every surface in the garage, including myself, lol. So, the answer? Have Jeremy fire up the leaf blower and clear out all that dust!

7) My final prep step was to use a damp sponge and a bucket of water to rinse in and carefully wipe down every piece to make sure paint will stick.

So, that’s my prep story. Next, painting! Has anyone else refinished veneer? What did you try today?

Thrifty vision: storage hunt

I need storage. Our limited kitchen storage means oddball items like extra paper towel rolls, the rarely used punch bowl and stemware sets are shoved about in any half-usable cranny.

Cramped space between upper cabinets and kitchen ceiling holds everything from ice buckets to stemware.

This is our first house so I think we suffered from eyes bigger than our stomach square footage syndrome. So, we decided we needed to look towards the dining room.

Unfortunately, it is pretty tiny so the typical long and deep sideboard or buffet wasn’t an option but surely that room could do more than hold a table that holds the mail. I went through countless options and although I didn’t have an exact idea, I did have a list of criteria:

  • No more than 15 inches deep
  • No more than 40 inches long
  • Must have closed storage at least on the bottom (no nephew hands or dog tails should have access to open shelving)

I finally found a bar cabinet that were perfect from cb2! It was so adorable and modern, and actually a little small so I’d need two.

Minus the price tag…$800!!! Yikes. I called it quits–I figured I would just keep the stuff in their happy crannies.

Then, I came across a piece at a thrift store I occasionally stop in for inspiration. I can describe them as bookshelves but they really aren’t. They were so unique but I wasn’t sure I wanted crappy, old, huge, odd “bookshelves,” so I left without them. Also, there was no way I could’ve lifted them or fit them in my car!

Are they bookcases? An entertainment center? A desk unit?

But, I couldn’t get them out of my head…I went back the next day. Turns out they were two pieces put together. I took a few measurements, sketched my ideas down (my doodling where things would go on one of them is below. That’s my Type A coming out, lol). And as for criteria met?

  • No more than 15 inches deep. CHECK!
  • No more than 40 inches long. CHECK!
  • Must have closed storage at least on the bottom CHECK!

It wasn’t what I had thought of, but this might work. I finally Googled refinishing projects and presented it all to Jeremy.

What it looked like in my head...sorta...

He said he would go look at them. He ended up going with a truck, and without me, and they all greeted me when I go home. So now I actually have to make something out of them! Here they are in their original (secondhand) glory.

Storage unit #1 closed

Storage unit #1 open

Storage unit #2 closed

Storage unit #2 open

I’ll keep you posted 🙂 So, what did you try today? Any furniture projects? Has anyone seen this kind of piece before?

Takin’ a ride

Today was an adventure. As I mentioned last Friday, I was invited to try out my local public transportation while being filmed and then give a testimonial. I was finally graduating from anxious to excited yesterday…then I checked the weather forecast. Thunderstorms! Gaaahh! If there’s one thing you can count on in the Sunshine State, it’s random and inopportune rain. Seriously.

So, I did what I needed:

  • Got my manager’s approval to wear casual clothes to work in honor of my special trip. Hooray for jeans!
  • Bought a proper umbrella (I decided walking half a mile in clothes I needed to work in the rest of the day would require more protection than the 12″ decorative umbrella that fits in my purse).
  • Bought rain boots. I’m a little in love with them!

Other things you can count on in the Sunshine State? Humidity, mosquitoes and luckily, fickle weather predictions. That’s right, it held off so it was a gray but dry morning. I was quite thankful (even though I felt like a nerd posing next to a bus sign).

In addition to the rain, the other party that didn’t show up was the film crew–I got stood up! So, it truly was my first solo ride. When I got to work I had an e-mail waiting that apologized for some unforeseen circumstances that prohibited filming. We got back on track and will hopefully get back together for a second attempt 🙂 But, my ride experience was good. So we’ll get to the main lesson. Here are my pros, cons and tips for taking public transportation.

-Pros:

  • A reliable schedule
  • Each fare is $1 but week and month passes allow unlimited rides for much cheaper if you take advantage
  • Save money on gas
  • Save wear and tear on your car

-Cons:

  • Depending on your situation, the bus can cost more than gas, cost more time and can inhibit your flexibility during the day. Me, for example. Unfortunately, I guess I live just close yet far enough that the bus route isn’t best for my daily commute. The bus costs me $1.50 more per day and quadruples my commute time 😦

-Tips:

  • Research, read and THEN ride. Your local transit website should be most helpful. Mine, jtafla.com, provides a trip planner and FAQs that I thought were especially helpful as a first-time rider. Things like fares, maps, how to signal the driver to stop at your stop, etc. are key and easy to overlook.
  • Always give your direct contact information to someone you are supposed to meet in case anything changes.
  • Ask if you don’t know. Most people I ran into were super nice and willing to help. Make it the driver if you are uncomfortable with a stranger.

So, what did you try today? Anyone regularly take public transportation (bus or otherwise)?

 

 

 

 

Large hats, small foods

I had one very proper Saturday afternoon! I have three girlfriends who are all quite different and all quite amazing; we have been friends for sixteen years. Yep, that means that we have seen each other through braces, acne, new loves, heartbreaks, family trials, bad hair, schooling, and more (some that I’m bound to silence about). We make a point to get together as a group once a month. For March, we decided a tea party! Why? Why not?! There’s a cute boutique basket store in our town who hosts afternoon teas. Naturally, we prepared by wearing adorable dresses and the biggest hats we could find.

My hat seriously needed its own zip code! We had the whole room to ourselves and spent three hours nibbling, sipping and sharing.How perfect is their “Cherish the Moment” sign?

We were served cucumber water, blueberry soup, pickled carrots, lots of sandwiches (egg salad, pimento salad, tuna salad and even ham salad sandwiches shaped like Easter bunnies!)

It was a blast. So, in case you’re a tea party greenhorn, here are my pros, cons and tips…

Pros:

  • Fabulous attire opportunity
  • Adorable set-up and details
  • Delicious tea
  • Miniature foods
  • Lots of courses
  • Sweet desserts
  • Great company 😉

Cons:

  • If you aren’t a girl, or wouldn’t enjoy a frilly luncheon event, this won’t be your cuppa tea (pun intended)
  • Miniature foods (yes, this made both lists)

Tips:

  • Hats are a must!
  • Bring an appetite because all that tiny food adds up
  • Stretch your pinky finger beforehand as to avoid cramping
  • Try to get the tea room to yourself if you are loud and occasionally inappropriately humored
  • Go all out to really enjoy the experience

So, what did you try today? Have you ever been to an English tea party/low tea?

Wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round

My company has been working with our local public transit people to research how they can help employees. In a planning meeting, I mentioned I should probably try out the system for myself before I go promoting it to others, and the immediate reaction was, “Yes!” Followed very quickly by, “Please let us know when you do so we can have our film crew go with you!” You know that sudden record stopping noise? That’s exactly what happened in my head. Sccrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrraaatch! Wait, what now?

A) I’m the most self-conscious extrovert you’ll ever meet.

+

B) I know nothing about their system like times, routes, fares, etc. so I’ll have to be the glaringly obvious rookie with route papers and sweating.

+

C) It’s going to be filmed and then shown not only on the buses, but at the transfer station, on a local news segment on two stations and at my work!

A+B+C=D, for DECLINE.

However, in good greenhorn spirit, I told myself to suck it up and take one for the team (and a few other sports clichés) to keep myself committed. They asked me to try it and to be honest. And, I was very flattered that they would want my opinion.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve been on plenty of public transportation systems—New York subways, Atlanta buses, Chicago cabs and my entire first year of college at UCF was spent carless so I relied solely on the buses (and friends with cars on rainy days). But I’ve lived in north Florida for, we’ll just say many, years now and using anything other than your own car is rare. My friends and I will all drive separate to meet up at a restaurant, then all drive separate to the movie, then all drive home…it isn’t eco-friendly, but it also isn’t unusual. Maybe it’s because our city is so sprawling, but it’s just not a way of life here. So friends, the time has finally come for me to ride the bus to and from work for the first time.

Today, the transit representative I’ve been working with (who’s lovely, by the way) wrote me a confirmation e-mail:

Adriane,

“We are a go. [We] will have [our] film crew follow you and they cannot help you with any questions about the trip. You can ask the operator or someone at the station for help if you feel nervous. There will be one person (not me) dressed in plain clothes to take this trip with you. He will not sit next to you or anything, but he keep an eye on you to make sure you do not run. 🙂 ”

Ha! She’s a funny lady. I guess that means I’m officially in. Update coming next week about the greenhorn bus excursion!

What have your public transportation experiences been? Any funny first rides?

Hello world!

Well, fancy meeting you here…I’d like to welcome you to my blog, Greenhorn Living. I feel like the latecomer to the party but after two years of stalking everyone else, I’m joining the fun. And who the heck am I, you ask? Well, maybe you didn’t ask, but I’ll answer it anyways to avoid any awkward questions later. My name is Adriane. I’m a perpetual planner who’s married to my favorite man, working on my career, loving my family and newly obsessed with blogging. Back to the blog beginning: I affectionately call YoungHouseLove my gateway drug blog. Surely you know them! I discovered them two years ago while Googling house projects (right after we bought our first one) and was hooked. Over the past two years my bookmarked blogs list grew substantially. Now I’m ready to join the party! Can we refer to it as party? I’m still new…thanks for humoring new my excitement. OK, let’s get to the basics:

1)     Why start a blog? I fought it for a long time since there are so many great people already successfully discussing anything I could think of. However, I finally decided I needed an outlet for all the inspiration they’ve given me and the new situations I get myself into. Also, everyone around me is having babies, so I’m having a blog.

2)     What does “Greenhorn Living” even mean? After weeks of debate and more than 30 names tossed out, Greenhorn Living struck me at 2 a.m. A ‘greenhorn’ being someone who’s new or inexperienced and ‘living’ being approaching life with that novel attitude. I have a lot to learn and I’m excited to share those experiences with you (wins and fails).

3)     I love learning about a blogger’s personality. Peanut Butter Fingers posted an “ABCs of PBF” a few weeks ago and I thought it would be the perfect intro, so here goes…

A.  Age: 27

B.  Bed size: King—and I still end up pushing my husband to the edge, lol.

C. Chore you hate: Washing the dishes! I think it takes me back to my waitressing days—ugh.

D.  Dogs: Yes please! I LOVE dogs, especially big ones, although I already have the best one possible =)

E.  Essential start to your day: Snoozing. I’ll hit that button for an hour.

F.  Favorite color: Aqua, hands down. I love the light/bright robin’s egg kind the best but I’ll take it any form.

G. Gold or silver: Silver overall but I’m finding gold has its place.

H. Height: 5’2”

I.   Instruments you play: I used to play the piano. Now I just sing in the car with the best of ‘em!

J.  Job title: Communications Specialist.

K.  Kids: None now, but eventually.

L.  Live: Jacksonville, Florida.

M. Mom’s name: Deborah (hi Mom!).

N.  Nicknames: None by design. My Mom didn’t want a name with nicknames. Although she calls me sweetie and the hubs calls me baby, pretty lady and sugarbottom, which reads dirtier than it sounds, I swear. So, that should be an embarrassing enough blog start.

O. Overnight hospital stays: None, knock on wood.

P.  Pet peeve: There’s no “s” so I’ll assume the intent is to pick one, which is much harder. I guess #1 is when people have perfectly logical/common sense/calm options and they seem to skip straight to crazy.

Q. Quote from a movie: “Maybe you should start being the right guy. That’s why you got punched out. You got the wrong attitude straight outta the gate!” (Yes Man)

R. Righty or Lefty: Righty.

S.  Siblings: One younger brother, Derek. I also have an even younger half sister and many new in-laws.

T.  Time you wake up: My alarm goes off at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays and at 9 a.m. on weekends. What time I actually drag myself out of bed on any given day is an entirely different story.

U.  Underwear: That came right out of left field, didn’t it? We’ll just say yes.

V.  Vegetables you dislike: I can’t think of a veggie I don’t like. I’m totally the weird kid who loves brussel sprouts (thanks, Mom, for making me try them for myself rather than listening to the bad rap!) I can be picky though—I won’t eat canned corn but will only eat canned peas.

W. What makes you run late: Choices and distractions! I put off things I don’t want to decide on, like which outfit to wear, especially if there’s 38 seconds of sleep I could get away with or a show I want to see the end of.

X.  X-rays you’ve had: A couple but nothing fun unless the bi-annual dentist ones count as fun.

Y.  Yummy food you make: Cupcakes, corned beef and cabbage, sweet and spicy Asian pork shoulder, tuna noodle casserole…there’s a bunch but since I’m a recipe follower, I don’t think I can take credit.

Z.  Zoo animal favorite: This one made me laugh because there’s not much with “Z.” I love all the animals…except maybe the invertebrates, sorry millipedes, ick. I guess I’m especially partial to moose, bears, giraffes, marine animals and anything funny looking, like anteaters.