Saturday, July 10, 2010

I'm pulling for you, Basil...

I really am. I have a very difficult time cajoling plants to stay alive. It seems like I over-water or under-water, fry them in the sun or deprive them of enough light, and when I sing to them they immediately wilt.

sigh. Basil was a necessary ingredient for a dinner last week and the actual plant was less pricey than the picked leaves so, against my better judgment, I set myself up for heartache and bought it. I planted it in its terra cotta coffin pot and it's survived several days so far.

Perhaps to encourage my gardening, or support my recent success non-failure I was gifted this awesome Sagaform planter (that I know came from a one of my favorite shopping methods--a Gilt sale)...

...and I can't wait to plant some herbs! Mostly because I'm under the impression that my plants will look exactly like the ones pictured on the box. I'm hoping the watering concept--that the plant absorbs it from the base of the planter--will help curb my deadly watering habits. Now I just have to stay tuned for the next grocery store sale on basil plants. Seriously, what smells better than fresh basil?

I'll share my outdoor gardening successes and failures some other time.

Anyone had success nurturing a basil plant? Suggestions are very welcome.
What other herbs should I plant in my new pot?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Natural Ruggedness

I finally made it to HomeGoods and had fun wandering around checking out the decor and furniture choices. This rug was a purchase from said trip. I'm not sure A) if I should keep it and B) if I do keep it, which side is optimal.

Tonal, peaceful, dirt-hiding gray? Fresh, summery, contrasting white? Or just leave the floor alone?

Care to opine?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wheelin' and dealin'

One of my earlier Craigslist discoveries was a wood bar. I saw an ad for a bar I liked, but by the time I responded it had been sold (cue violins). Then, crazily enough, someone posted the same bar (not the exact same, but the identical make) the following week.

The sellers said it's from CostPlus World Market, so it's understandable that there would be multiple secondhand versions out there.

Like so many other items, this hung out at my parent's (and then my sister's) until I got my place. Coincidentally, the bar's width is perfect for one of the alcoves on the side of the fireplace in the great room.

After maneuvering it into place, I was struck with realization that moving the bar when empty was pretty cumbersome, so moving it when full might as well be impossible.  And since the bar is only open on one side--which is great since folks can't critique my bar paraphernalia organizational skills--mobility was key.  After brainstorming ideas that included having the bar on a giant hinge attached to the wall (hehe), I settled on swivel wheels as an achievable solution.

So, I made my way to Home Depot and got some casters like these:

Then got home and realized that the plate was slightly bigger than the leg, the holes in the screw plate weren't far in enough that there would be enough space between the screw and the edge of the leg for the screw to get a good bite, and that I was likely greatly underestimating the final weight of a fully stocked bar.

Armed with this new (and, eh, probably easily foreseen) information, I returned to Home Depot and got casters similar to these:


The casters had 2 pieces--a slim funnel with teeth on the lip and the wheel on a stem that would fit into the funnel once the funnel/anchor was embedded in the wood. After putting holes in the legs for the stem anchor (making sure that the drill bit was completely vertical so the wheels wouldn't be at that wonky every-shopping-cart-I-ever use angle), and getting a lot of sawdust in my nose and mouth by blowing the wood shavings out of the new hole, the funnel was ready to be dropped in. I hammered them down until the teeth on the lip of the funnel were embedded in the wood and put in the stem of portion with the wheel, which locked into place with a satisfying click. Voila!

When flipped over, the bar rolled relatively easily. When filled, it rolls less freely, but easily enough that I can get access to the back of the bar without calling for backup. Which is great, because if it was still wheel-less and altogether impossible for me to move, I might think I needed to increase my adult beverage intake to make it more mobile.

PS, the empty space above the bar will eventually house a swivel-mounted TV.
Any beverage storage solutions that you find convenient? Does anything last long enough to even be stored?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sweet potato fries

My sister wanted to take advantage of a special on salmon burgers, so we planned a meal centered around them. A slight variation on your typical burger should be accompanied with a slight variation on your typical fry, so we decided to try making sweet potato fries as a side.

How handy that my brother is well-versed in frying, since roughly 50% of all his home-cooked meals involve it. He brought over his fryer and cooked the fries perfectly.

This was news to me, sweet potatoes are not orange before they are cooked. This caused some kitchen confusion--basically I was convinced that my sister picked up the wrong tuber. I'll never doubt you again, sis. On this subject, anyway.

We used canola oil and put each batch of sliced sweet potatoes in the fryer for about 3 minutes, until they were goldeny-orange.

We seasoned half with cinnamon and sugar and the other half with some chili powder. Both were excellent, and good together, too.

Honestly, the leftover fries were even delicious straight out of the refrigerator. And for that very reason I don't think I'll be purchasing my own fryer anytime soon.

Any other fried delights to share? I want to try out fried bananas, any tips?