Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Friends and Farms

Hi hi. I promised an update on our new Friends and Farms service. We’ve gotten three baskets of food, and I can happily report that I love it!  Our first week’s basket included:

  • milk,
  • cheddar cheese (from NY… I was actually a little disappointed by that fact, but the cheese was tasty anyway),
  • corn,
  • tomatoes,
  • onions,
  • plums,
  • green beans,
  • green peppers,
  • a cubanelle pepper (?? I think that’s what it was),
  • “sandwich steaks” (thin cuts… we cooked them in a pan and had cheesesteaks),
  • chicken breasts
  • a loaf of bread
  • a watermelon
  • two humongous carrots

It all comes in two reusable shopping bags and one insulated bag packed into a big, plastic crate. Here’s the bounty, out of the bags and about to go in the fridge:

As mentioned, we used the beef for cheesesteaks, followed up by cold sandwiches for lunch the next day. We chopped up some of the tomatoes and onions for bruschetta (whipped up by Paula while she was here), and used the chicken for piccata (I like this simple recipe) and a quick stir-fry using more onion and the green peppers (served with a side of rice). I cooked the green beans in butter and olive oil with a shallot, two cloves of garlic and some chicken broth (similar to the recipe found here) – DELICIOUS.

I muddled some fresh mint and watermelon with a packet of Splenda and added ice and Leblon Cachaca (a liquor similar to rum) and called it a watermelon mojito. Totally amazing. I ripped off the idea from Ina Garten. If you wanted a less hardcore version, you could add some soda water. Or maybe lemon-lime soda? That might be good too.

Here’s the second basket:

There’s a whole chicken in there. With giblets – ew! I was intimidated, but I’ve cooked a whole turkey before, so it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. Plus, a great feature of the F&F website is that they provide recipes using some of the ingredients each week. I followed their “garlic chicken in a pot” recipe, and it turned out really well. And garlicky. It calls for four heads of garlic. Heads! Not cloves! I smelled like garlic for days.

In addition to the chicken, the basket included:

  • milk,
  • a loaf of bread,
  • beef short ribs (I braised them, recipe here but I didn’t use any pancetta),
  • grape tomatoes,
  • jalapenos (tomatoes plus jalapenos equals fresh salsa in this house),
  • peaches,
  • lettuce,
  • cucumbers,
  • zucchini,
  • yellow squash,
  • potatoes,
  • a honeydew melon,
  • a dozen eggs
  • breakfast sausage.

By this Friday’s basket, I figured out that we can see the items better if I put them on the counter. Duh.

This week’s haul is:

  • milk,
  • a loaf of bread,
  • chicken pieces,
  • pepper & onion sausage (I plan to use it in F&F’s risotto recipe),
  • grape tomatoes,
  • apples,
  • mustard greens,
  • corn,
  • green beans,
  • whole milk yogurt (REALLY good – like melty ice cream),
  • cantaloupe,
  • the biggest eggplant I’ve ever seen.

I’d be interested to price out a similar list of groceries at our Safeway to see how it compares; I’m thinking it would probably be cheaper than the $51/week we’re spending, but shopping at the Safeway would take away two of the main benefits. For one, we’re eating way more fresh produce now, even though we always had access to it. And secondly, we have a jumping-off point for meals. So instead of wandering aimlessly through the grocery store, we have to come up with ways to use the ingredients in the baskets (it makes us eat more varied meals, too).

Oh, also, the tomatoes are SO GOOD. Those food people are absolutely right when they complain about the tomatoes from the grocery store tasting like “nothing.” Our F&F tomatoes have been notably sweet and tomato-y.

I would whole-heartedly recommend F&F to others, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. It’s best for people who eat most of their meals at home, enjoy cooking and are willing to experiment with new foods. I, for one, have never cooked with mustard greens. I don’t know what they taste like. I never would have put them in my shopping cart at Safeway. I’m guessing they taste like mustard? Guess we’re about to find out.


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Gearing Up for Spring Projects

I guess I should attempt to defend myself for not posting since December 7.

As you saw in some previous posts, we had a great Christmas and New Year with family and friends, and as it usually happens with me, I become consumed in January with the NFL playoffs and watch way too much football on the weekends without doing much else.

But, I will say that we have been working here and there since the New Year, and a lot of my work has involved a brush and glossy white paint. If I can remember correctly, in the last two months, I painted the fireplace mantle, the trim for three windows, and the floor trim in the living room, and the window trim in the dinning room. I also helped Katie paint the fireplace wall in the living room. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re doing multiple coats and letting things dry, it takes time, and as Katie said, it just seems like this trim-painting project is never-ending.

And, we’re obviously ramping up for the big bathroom project, which is now just 6 1/2 weeks away. Katie is off to pick up our bath and floor tile this weekend, and I’ve made calls and had discussions with our neighborhood plumber on the professional work we’ll need done after we do 2-3 days of demo work. The hope is that Katie, my father and I can clear the bathroom out the weekend of May 19-20, so that during the following Monday and Tuesday, the plumber can come in and help us install the bathtub, bathtub drain and water controls.

We also have made contact with a window replacement professional, who will also come in at this time to replace the window hiding behind the current shower stall.

After the professional work is done, it’s up to us to finish the deal, which means cement board, bath tile and floor tile (there has been some talk of installing a heating mat under the floor tile, which would be tremendous to have), installing the new vanity, etc. etc. etc. This is going to be a beastly project and I can’t wait to document it–and have a new bathroom.

So, there’s that to look forward to, I think. But until then, I’m doing what I can in the yard now that spring is officially here and everyone in the neighborhood is mowing, cutting, planting, and mulching non-stop on the weekends.

I made a big move this past weekend: I bought a riding lawnmower. Check it out, a John Deere:

John Deere RX75

Not my photo, but this is our new riding mower.

Found a guy in Harford County who rehabs lawnmowers and sells them online for his “beer and crab money,” as he told me when my neighbor and I picked the mower up on Sunday. Got what I think is a very good deal when you consider new riding mowers are usually four-digit expensive. Took it for the first cut of the year on Sunday (about 90 minutes) and the lawn looks great; also my back is already thanking me for a summer free from pushing a mower across the lawn for 3-4 hours every 10 days.

Happy spring.

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Christmas 2011

Happy 2012, all! My sister, Stephanie, sent me some pictures from Christmas at the Dill household, so I’m sharing a couple.

What’d we get for Christmas? It was surprisingly Apple-y. Susiemommy is tricky.

Widget is still getting over his jealousy.

Speaking of Widge, we also tried to get a picture of the three fur kids together. Here’s my favorite:

Hope everyone had a healthy and joyous holiday season! We’re back to the grind here, but I’m not complaining because my grind now includes playing Words with Friends and Bejeweled on the iPad.

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Where it All Began…

Andrew and I spent the weekend in New England. When we arrived Friday afternoon, our friends Bailey and Sean were still at work, so we took the opportunity to hop a cab from Logan Airport over to Brookline, where we could revisit our old stompin’ grounds. While we’ve been back to Boston numerous times since graduating in 2005, we’ve never really returned to campus (other than a quick drive-by). Our brief trip down Comm Ave, aka Memory Lane, brought back so many good times, and we just let the nostalgia wash over us – and, embarrassingly, took some pictures with “landmarks.”

I’ll spare you most of them, but my favorite is us in front of our freshman dorm, where the seeds of this epic romance were planted:

I guess technically the seeds were planted back in Mrs. Wilson’s fourth-grade class, but really, Warren was where it all took root.


I think it’s about time Howard Stern and/or Bill O’Reilly send some major coin their way. COM is really an eyesore.

Warren Towers at dusk:

So much romance. Also, Comm Ave was just as windy as ever. Seriously, what’s up with that? Sorry Chicago, but Boston is way more windy. (I read somewhere that Chicago is known as the windy city not for literally having strong winds, but for “windy” politics. Isn’t this blog educational?)

Anyhoo, after spending the night at Bailey & Sean’s, the four of us drove up to Portsmouth, NH on Saturday to spend the night. We slept at the Ale House Inn. It was awesome, and VERY stylish. I liked our bedding so much, I took a picture of it:

Actually, I took more than one picture:

The duvet and pillow shams are from Dwell, and Bailey liked them so much, she’s going to ask for the set for her birthday. I’m going to be jealous, but also proud to have a friend with such chic bedding.

I’d never been to Portsmouth, but I was charmed – lots of restaurants, cute shops, and well-dressed New Englanders. Oh! And everyone there drives a Subaru. That part was kind of weird, but even WE were driving a Subaru, so it worked out.


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Christmas is Coming

Christmas Tree

We placed the tree at the front of the living room this year.

Outdoor Lights

Our neighbor supplied us with some of his extra lights.

Widget is ready!

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It’s Friday, so I wanted to share a couple of photos from our jaunt to Cali.

Venice at dusk:

Last weekend involved no travel; not for me, anyway. Andrew went to Philly for a while on Saturday while I bought some more spray paint at Home Depot, then worked on some curtain hardware. I may actually be getting the hang of it! It went better than my last attempt (here). While at the Deepe, I also picked up some paint chips. I’m working on the living room, y’all. …guess I just gave away the plans for this weekend.

Who’s doing something more glamorous than hanging curtains and buying paint? Anyone? Happy Friday!

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“You will win this.”

Those Target commercials have me thinking. I’ve never done the “real” Black Friday: camping out, throwing ‘bows, etc., but maybe we should do some research.  We might be able to find a steal for an extra-tall ladder so we can keep our gutters cleaned out (thrilling!). I smell a Christmas present for Andrew!

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