Pear Ginger Crisp

October 12, 2017

Recipes

As always, Texas Humor hits it on the nose when it comes to Texas weather:
I GOT EXCITED ABOUT FALL ANYWAY. According to the forecast (which is pretty much useless) it’ll be 90 degrees again by the weekend. So fellow Texans, I suggest you make this crisp real quick-like, or save it for when it’s actually fall. Siiiiiiigh.

Pear Ginger Crisp

Ingredients

For the crisp:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) butter, cubed and slightly softened
  • Optional: 1/2 cup nuts

For the filling:

  • 5-6 pounds firm pears, cored and diced (for me, this was about 8 large whole pears.)
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp. freshly zested/finely grated ginger (if your pears are closer to 6 pounds, add another teaspoon of ginger.)
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. Madagascar vanilla bean paste
  • 2 tsp. ground Vietnamese cinnamon
  • 1-2 tbsp. cornstarch (depending on how juicy your pears are; if they are very juicy, add more cornstarch.)

Instructions

  1. Peel, core, and dice your pears into small chunks and place in a large bowl.
  2. Add sugar, lemon juice, ginger, vanilla bean paste, cinnamon, and cornstarch to the pears and mix well.
  3. Pour the fruit into a 9×13 baking pan and set aside to let the flavors meld while you prepare the crisp topping.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  5. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, and cinnamon. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut in the cubed butter until the mixture is crumbly.
  6. Sprinkle the crisp topping evenly over the fruit. Using your hands, gently press the topping down so it is loosely packed over the fruit.
  7. Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes, or until the crisp is firm and slightly browned.

Nutella Banana Bread

October 13, 2016

Recipes

The minute fall hits, I start to crave banana bread. Nope, not pumpkin bread. That would be too logical. Banana bread.

I usually love banana bread with pecans or walnuts, but I was craving chocolate today. I’ve honestly never tried Nutella banana bread before, even though it seems to be really popular! Most recipes suggest swirling the Nutella through the batter, but I chose to make a loaf with a stripe of Nutella down the middle. If you choose to swirl, be mindful that any Nutella on top tends to get crispy!

nutella-banana-bread

Ingredients

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Jacked-up Banana Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups banana puree (about 3-4 ripe bananas, processed or blended)
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted european butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup (145 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp bourbon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (200 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Nutella

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (325F if you are using a convection oven.)
  2. Blend or food process your bananas until smooth. Transfer puree to a large bowl.
  3. Stir in melted butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla. Mix until smooth.
  4. Add salt and baking soda, stir to incorporate.
  5. Add in the flour by gently folding it into the batter. Stir until batter is evenly mixed and all ingredients are incorporated.
  6. Butter an 8″ x 4″ loaf pan and pour half the batter into the pan.
  7. Microwave the Nutella for about 20-30 seconds, then pour it on top of the batter.
  8. Add the other half of the batter.
  9. Bake for 50 minutes – 1 hour (your cooking time will be shorter if using convection) or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let the bread cool completely before serving.

Painted Concrete Floors

September 25, 2016

DIY / Projects

Painted concrete? Inside the house? I was skeptical at first, but once I saw this post from Vintage Revivals I decided I needed to try it out for myself. It’s been a few months since I painted my floors, and here’s what I love about them:

  • They’re super easy to clean. I use water and a little bit of dish soap.
  • They’re very cost-effective when compared to stained concrete and other industrial/modern flooring options. Stained concrete is goooooorgeous, and if I had the money, I would do it in a heartbeat. I called a local contractor to get a quote, and the absolute minimum is $7/sqft. Our house is 1300 sqft, so 1300 x 7 = $9,100. Ouch.
  • They’re super cool in the summertime, and if you hate the idea of stepping onto cool concrete in the wintertime, it’s easy to cozy them up with rugs.
2016-09-11-08-52-36

Bedroom floors in progress! Two coats of paint, ready for sealant.

Are painted concrete floors for you?

While I do love my floors, painted concrete definitely isn’t perfect. Here’s what I’ve discovered after going through the process and living with them:

  • They are prone to scratches and scuffs. So are other flooring materials, but in my experience, painted concrete is definitely more delicate than laminate and harder woods. I’d recommend putting down rugs in high-traffic areas immediately after the floors are done drying. Especially if you have dogs that tear through the house, like I do!
  • The process is pretty labor-intensive if your slab is old and/or dirty. We had to rip out the carpet and tack strips, remove carpet glue, fill in the tack strip holes, and sand the floors to make them smooth – and that’s just the prep work. Then comes primer, at least 2-3 coats of paint, and sealer.
  • It takes forever to get them done. I’m sure it takes a while to install hardwood or laminate, but it took us many weekends to get all the prep work done. The actual painting process is a long process too, though it’s not active time, more like waiting for the paint to dry between coats.

The bottom line is that if you need a cheap flooring solution that looks clean and modern, painted concrete is absolutely the best option. You can also pick fun colors or do a stenciled pattern!

Materials

  • Tools to get rid of carpet, tile, linoleum, etc. For the carpet, we simply used a pry bar to get the tack strips out, while wearing gloves and eye protection. For the linoleum, our contractor rented a scraping machine from Home Depot.
  • Paint thinner and trash bags. The leftover carpet glue and linoleum glue were nasty. It was no longer sticky, and I couldn’t scrape it up no matter what. In the end paint thinner covered by a trash bag worked like a charm.
  • Premixed Quikcrete concrete patch. It’s a pain in the ass to mix this stuff yourself. And you don’t have to use it up all at once.
  • Concrete smoothing tools. Grab these in the same section.
  • Detail sander and sandpaper in 80 and 120 grit. For sanding the edges of the floor where you filled in the tack strip holes.
  • A respirator or dust mask, to wear while sanding. Safety first!
  • Commercial degreaser if your floor is dirty. I used Eco Procote’s Soy-It Degreaser, available locally at Treehouse.
  • Concrete primer. Whatever brand you prefer, always use coordinating primer and paint. I used BEHR Concrete and Masonry Bonding Primer.
  • Concrete paint. Anything meant for interior use is great. I used BEHR Porch & Patio Floor Paint in Gloss Enamel, in the Slate Gray color.
  • Paint rollers, paint tray, and a pole extension. So you’re not all hunched over. I wouldn’t recommend pouring paint directly on the ground, I tried that and it was a lot harder to spread the paint around without leaving gobs behind.
  • Acrylic sealant. If you use polyurethane with lighter colored floors, it will yellow, and nobody wants that! Don’t skip sealing your floors, it will make them more durable. I used Eco Procote’s Eco Florz Sealer in High Gloss, and it is incredible. It made the floors so smooth and shiny, and provides a no-VOC protective coating. It’s available locally at Treehouse.
  • Optional: A floor polisher machine if the area is large. Our slab was really damaged, so we had filled-in holes to sand everywhere, and the floor polisher helped with making the whole area smooth and uniform.

Instructions

  1. Remove or tape off baseboards. We also had to fill and sand tack strip holes, and it was so much easier to do this without worrying about damaging the baseboards. Plus, we wanted to replace them.
  2. If you had carpet, fill in the holes left by the tack strips with concrete patch. When you pull the nails out of concrete, it takes a chunk of the surrounding concrete with it.
  3. Prep the rest of the surface. After you’ve filled in the holes and are waiting for them to cure, scrape off any remaining carpet glue. First, scrape off as much glue as you can without using any products. Then pour on a bit of paint thinner over the offending spot and cover it with a trash bag. Let it sit for 15-30 minutes, then uncover and scrape again. Paint thinner is magical, but it stinks. Don’t forget to open a window and wear a mask while you’re doing this. Whew!
  4. Blend in the filled holes. When your concrete is fully cured (my can of Quickcrete said to wait 30 days) you’re ready to sand the floors to blend in the filled spots with the rest of the floor. Use the detail sander to sand the filled holes smooth, first with 80 grit sandpaper, then 120. Be sure to wear a dust mask!
  5. Clean the floors thoroughly. Sweep like your life depends on it. It will be dusty. SO DUSTY. We used a shopvac with a HEPA filter. Then mop with a commercial degreaser.
  6. Allow the floors to dry for 24-48 hours. Some say 24 hours is sufficient, but I waited 48 because the weather was humid.
  7. Apply concrete primer. Concrete primer, much like regular primer, helps with proper adhesion. First use a paintbrush to apply primer to corners and edges. Then coat the floors using a roller and paint tray, starting the furthest away from where you eventually want to stop and working backwards. Allow the primer to dry according to the product instructions. If the weather is humid, allow extra time!
  8. Apply concrete paint. Once your primer is dry, it’s time for paint! First go around the edges and corners with a paintbrush. If you are coating a large area and need multiple cans, mix them all together in a large bucket for color uniformity. Don’t worry if your first coat doesn’t look very good and like it’s being absorbed by the concrete. It’s totally normal. As for technique, use a paint roller the same way as you would painting a wall. It’s pretty fun.
  9. Recoat, recoat, recoat! I applied three coats of paint to make extra sure the coverage was good. My paint recommended that I wait 4-6 hours between coats, but I waited at least eight. Wait until the paint feels dry to the touch.
  10. Apply sealant. After your floors are completely dry, I highly recommend sealing your floors with an acrylic sealer for durability. If you use a polyurethane sealer, your floors may yellow if they’re a lighter color.

Cost Breakdown

The saga of concrete floors has been a long one for me, and I wish I had been diligent about keeping receipts. But here’s a close estimate on what my floors cost.

  • Paint thinner – $3.00
  • Concrete patch – $7.00
  • Concrete smoothing tool – $5.00
  • SKIL detail sander – $30.00
  • Sandpaper – $30.00 (we used a TON)
  • Dust masks – $7.00
  • Eco Procote degreaser – $30.00
  • Painting supplies (rollers, etc) – $35.00
  • BEHR concrete primer – $20.00
  • BEHR concrete paint – $30.00*
  • Eco Procote sealant – $50.00

*We got 8 cans for $30.00 on super sale because the store was transitioning this paint to be sold online only.

Total: $247

Cost per square foot: 19 cents

DIY Floral Skull Art

February 6, 2016

DIY / Projects

I stumbled across this photo while looking through Apartment Therapy one day, and ever since then I’ve been dying to put my own Georgia O’Keeffe-inspired spin on it. I chose Texas wildflowers because I love them, but you could just as easily do peonies, roses, dahlias, and more traditional flowers. I love the results and I already want to make another!

FullSizeRender(1)

Materials

  • Frame. Try the art section at Goodwill, I found mine for 5 bucks!
  • Skull. My dear friend Esther was nice enough to bring me a lil’ deer skull from her parents’ magical property near Enchanted Rock. I honestly have no idea where to buy a skull because this is Texas and they’re just laying around everywhere. Perhaps a taxidermy or antiques shop? Or, you can paper mache one!
  • Faux flowers. Grab a good amount of small flowers in one color to use as a background, then throw in some different colors, sizes, and textures. Or go for the one-color approach. I can definitely see a white skull/all red roses working really well.
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks. Yep. Don’t burn yourself!
  • Sturdy (but not too thick) posterboard or foamboard, if your frame didn’t come with a backing.
  • Mounting hardware, if your frame didn’t come with any.
  • Scissors, for cutting the stems and leaves off your flowers.

Step-by-step

0. Crafting is less stressful when you do a little prep work beforehand. Depending on the condition of your frame and skull, you’ll need to do all or some of the following:

  • Paint the frame a different color.
  • Attach mounting hardware.
  • Clean and bleach the skull.
  • Attach a backing to the frame using hot glue or strong adhesive.

1. Start by cutting the stems off all your flowers. Try to get as close as you can to the flower without breaking the part of the plastic that holds the flower together, like so:

2016-02-06 08.46.20

2. Heat up your hot glue gun and glue your skull in the middle of the frame. Give it a few minutes to dry before you start putting flowers around it.

3. Start gluing flowers under the skull where your backing is showing (including eye holes!) and tightly around the skull.

2016-02-06 09.39.07

4. Then just keep working your way out until you’re done! Don’t be afraid of asymmetry. Play a little. Lay stuff out before you glue. If you mess up, you can carefully rip off what you don’t like and cover up any ugly spots with more flowers.

2016-02-06 10.14.25

5. When your frame is all filled up with lovely floral goodness, give the flowers a wiggle to be sure they’re nice and secure and add some more glue if needed. Then leave it to dry for a few hours before you hang it up!

Total cost of this DIY: Frame ($5) + Flowers ($24) + Skull ($0) = $29!

Open Closet Inspiration

January 30, 2016

Home / Inspiration

Lately I’ve been toying with the idea of an open closet in our master. When we renovated our master bathroom, the existing closet was way too small, so we ended up getting rid of it to make more space in the bathroom. Right now I have two very basic IKEA PAX wardrobes that I planned to add doors and drawers to, but all the lovely open closets I’ve been seeing lately are making me want to ditch the idea of a traditional closet altogether. I’m definitely leaning more towards the simple open closets with a rack and a top shelf, rather than the more industrial-looking ones with pipe and metal elements.




The idea of showing off my clothes instead of hiding them away definitely appeals to my bohemian side, but I’m worried it will just look too messy. Maybe I could put in some curtains or buy a partition in case I want to hide things away. SO TORN.

Clothing swaps are awesome.

January 9, 2016

Thrifting

A clothing swap is hands-down my favorite kind of thrifty event. The basic rule of a swap is this: bring at least one item and take as much as you want, because everything is FREE. I can’t even begin to list all the amazing things I’ve found at clothing swaps, and it’s so great to be able to clean out my closet frequently and skip the experience of dealing with buyers at consignment stores altogether.

If you are lucky enough to get invited to a clothing swap, here are some tips for maximizing your experience:

Make a list of what you actually need. Making a list before you go shopping is a good a way to stick to your budget, but since clothing swaps are completely free, it can be tempting to shovel a bunch of items into your bag without considering how they fit into your closet. Think about what events you might wear a piece of clothing to, how you would pair it with something you already own, or if the item is different than anything you already have.

Don’t bring things that you would pass on for quality reasons. If it’s ripped or has stains, just throw it away.

Sort your clothes into categories before arriving. Generally, clothes at clothing swaps are loosely organized with areas for pants, shirts, dresses, etc. To avoid complete chaos, hosts often ask that you put down all your clothing before you start looking for new things. If you pre-sort your clothing beforehand, you’ll be able to start swapping within minutes of your arrival.

Practice good swap etiquette. When you arrive, put down what you’ve brought before looking for new things. Treat the items you don’t want with care, because someone else might want them. Refrain from making negative remarks about a piece of clothing – the person that brought it might be right beside you! Help keep things organized; if you see a piece of miscategorized clothing or something lying on the ground, pick it up and put it back in its place. Before you leave, find the host and thank them.

Strike up a conversation with other swappers. This is a surefire way to get invited to more swaps, or at the very least, meet someone new who shares your thrifty sensibilities

If you want to host a clothing swap, first of all, please invite me! Hosting a swap is actually hard work, and the people that are kind enough do it are basically my personal heroes. A few tips for hosting:

Gather some basic materials. At the very least, you’ll need some paper and markers to create signage for different categories, some blankets to pile clothes on if you’re hosting outside, and large trash bags to pack up leftover clothing. If you have some trees, hanging a clothesline and using clothespins to hang clothes up is even better. Mirrors and a changing area are both nice bonuses, but not essential.

Host the swap outside. If you’ve ever hosted a house party, you know that lots of people coming and going means a lot of cleanup in the aftermath. By hosting outside, you’re limiting cleanup to that area only. There’s also no guarantee you’ll personally know everyone attending, and while swappers are generally respectful, limiting access to your home will ensure nothing gets broken or stolen.

Set up a Facebook event page for the swap. An event page helps spread the word about the swap to your friends, but more importantly, friends of friends. When it comes to a swap, the more the merrier.

Communicate basic swap rules and etiquette to your guests. You can do this while greeting guests at the door and on the swap’s event page. If someone is being a jerk by violating these rules, you have the right to ask them to leave.

Ask for volunteers to help with setup and cleanup. Hosting a swap is hard work, and you don’t have to do it alone! Post on the events page or make an announcement right before the swap ends. Volunteers can help with hanging clothesline, making signs, packing up leftover clothing, transporting clothing to a donation center, or picking up trash.

Donate leftover clothing to a reputable organization. Rather than dumping leftover clothing at your local Goodwill, look for some local organizations or nonprofits who might benefit from a clothing donation. If you’re in Austin, please consider Treasure City, Dress for Success, or Safeplace.

Happy swapping, y’all!

Dad’s Apple Pie

July 3, 2015

pie / Recipes

It’s been pretty quiet around this little blog lately, hasn’t it? I’ve been eating well (my very un-thrifty birthday dinner at Uchiko was amazing!) but not baking much at all. Most of my thrifting cash was relegated to important house things, like more plumbing emergencies and fencing materials. If anyone knows how to keep a mischievous border collie inside a yard, please do let me know, because our attempts to make the fence taller only worked for a few days!

In between house repairs, work, and life, I did manage to cobble together an apple pie for Father’s Day a few weeks ago. I’m calling it Dad’s Apple Pie, even though my dad apparently isn’t a huge fan of apple pie (what?!)

This is by far my favorite pie, ever. Rather than use allspice like most apple pie filling recipes, I use a blend of Vietnamese cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom.

Ingredients

Crust

I swear by Smitten Kitchen’s all-butter crust, but use your go-to recipe if you have one.

Filling

  • 2.5 lbs apples, sliced and peeled. My favorite blend is about half and half granny smith and pink lady apples. (Note: this is the weight after they’re cored and peeled. So buy about 3 lbs. at the store!)
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Vietnamese cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Instructions

  1. Peel and slice your apples into chunks. I personally like my apple pie chunky, so I cut my apple chunks about the size of a nickel.
  2. Sift together your flour, spices, and salt.
  3. Pour the lemon juice and sugar over the apples and toss, than add your spice/salt/flour blend and toss again. Let it sit for a while while you roll out your crust that’s been chilling in the fridge so the flavors meld together.
  4. Pour filling into the pie crust of your choice and bake at 375F for about 50 minutes to an hour, until the pie crust is golden and you can see the pie filling getting bubbly.
  5. Cool for at least a few hours before eating.

First post: disaster strikes!

May 20, 2015

disasters

Currently, I am:

  • Washing all my dishes in the bathroom sink because the plumbing in the kitchen started leaking yesterday. Boyfriend took the whole thing apart and snaked it to no avail. Plumber is coming tomorrow and I’m crossing my fingers it won’t be too much money!
  • Eating black bean tacos, because that’s the dinner in my weekly meal plan that takes the least amount of dishes and general fuss.
  • Dying to bake a pie.
  • Feeling very dusty after organizing and sweeping out the garage.
  • Playing on my new iPhone (which I got this morning after dropping my phone in the pool.)

Surely, things can only go up from here, right?