January 31, 2011

Flying My Flower Flag

Say that 10 times fast! Just wanted to share a little sneak peek at something I've been working on...

I was so inspired by the sweet baby blankets that Britt created over at Gus and Lula that I had to try my very own.

This is Britt's:

And here are mine, so far. I think I'm going to make them into pillows for the couch. To spring-ify them. Yeah, it's a word.

What do you think?? I can't wait to find some more time to work on them! Sewing is time consuming!!!!

Menu Plan Monday

Hey All! We're back this week to link up with I'm An Organizing Junkie's fabulous Menu Plan Monday! Check them out by clicking on the banner- there are tons of fabulous menu plans to peruse. Have a great Monday!!!

Monday: Chicken Teriyaki, stir fry veggies, brown rice

Tuesday: Out to dinner- no cooking tonight

Wednesday: Slow cooker pork tenderloin, polenta, glazed carrots

Thursday: Spaghetti bolognese with whole wheat linguini

Friday:  Homemade pizza with BBQ sauce, grilled chicken and veggies

Saturday: Grilled chicken Caesar salad

Sunday: Slow cooker Minestrone with Dinner Rolls

What have you got on the meal plan this week? Do you meal plan for dinner only or all three meals? We're still working on that...

January 26, 2011

Quickie Dinner- Mike's Shepherd's Pie

Ally's note: Oh man, I love it when Mike cooks. He always make something spicy, comforting and quick. It's the perfect dinner, everytime. Hmm...why don't I have him cook more often?

Anyway, this is one of our favorite recipes. Try it and I promise, you'll love it.

Spicy Shepherd's Pie

Preheat the oven to 350f.

Peel, cube and boil 3 potatoes or sweet potatoes. Drain and mash. You can add milk or butter, we like to add low-fat cream cheese. Set aside.

In a frying pan, add one chopped onion, two cloves of chopped garlic and 1 lb. of ground beef or turkey. Cook until it's brown. Drain, if there is any liquid. Season with some cumin, chili powder, garlic powder- whatever spices you like. Or you could add half of a package of taco seasoning in there. Move to a bowl and add 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of flour to the pan. Stir until it's combined and add cup of chicken broth. Make sure you stir this really good or else it will get lumpy. When it's thickened, add meat back in. Now put in some frozen corn, peppers or whatever else you like.

Pour into a baking pan and top with the potatoes and some grated cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is nice and melted.

We top this with salsa or pico de gallo (recipe here) and some sour cream.

January 25, 2011

Visions of Daffodils Dancing in my Head

Oh man. I'm officially over winter. D-o-n-e. I know that I live in New England, and that winter lasts until April here. I know that's it's only mid-January. That doesn't mean I can't start doing a little spring day-dreaming. I decided to brighten up my (and hopefully your) day by putting together a little spring decor inspiration- inspired by this cute spring wardrobe wishlist over at Bower Power!

C'mon spring!

The Living Room

Our main living space is currently rocking a mis-match of greens, yellows and browns. Not even nearly as fun as it sounds. Here's what I would do to brighten it up for spring:

1) Add some bright accents that won't break the budget.

Canary tea light holders from CB2 for only $7.95/each!

2) DIY some new felt flower pillows, inspired by the ones we found at Z-Gallerie which are out of our budget at $49.95.

3) Bring in some nature to give our living room- nests, plants and bird accents are all floating our decorating boat right now!

-Moss balls found at Crate and Barrel- $12.95 for a set of 9.

-We will find some unfinished wooden birdhouses at the craft store and paint 'em ourselves! The ones on our board are from West Elm and are priced between $24 and $34 bucks.

The Kitchen

Our poor, poor multi-tasking kitchen. Oh kitchen. You have so much potential, if only someone would pay attention to you. Your dark wood cabinets and linoleum floors are crying out for a makeover. Since we don't own this place, we're not willing to put money into renovations but that doesn't mean we can't pretty it up a little! I'm dreaming of a bright, girly upgrade...


1) Cute, cheap and sunny- a bowl full of citrus is the cure to a blah day. I'd put them in this gorgeous, mid-century inspired bowl from Crate and Barrel for a mere $14.95.

2) Don't you love these mod place mats from Krista at CraftsbyKJ on Etsy? At $24 for a set of 4 they are such an easy way to de-frost your dinner parties! Oh, and as a bonus- they're reversible!!!

3) A huge bouquet of daffodils is a sure sign that spring is around the corner. This gorgeous arrangement can be found at a local florist here in Boston, Central Square Florist, but you can certainly find them at your grocery store or farmer's market.

Oh, and how much do you LOVE these happy little laundry hampers? At $20 bucks, it's an affordable way to take the drudgery out of my most hated chore. Crunch Can by Umbra at the Container Store.


1) We already talked a little about wanting a headboard. I think upholstering it in a gorgeous, saturated color would be awesome.

2) I plan on making a bunch of these bad boys from some t-shirts that I'll pick up at Goodwill. I'm thinking that some pinks and greens would help us get our spring on. Check out the AWESOME tutorial from Floral Showers!!

3) I'd add some romantic candles to brighten up our otherwise dark bedroom- these guys from CB2 are only $1.95-$3.95/each!

4) We were gifted with a gift card to Blik, so we're thinking of adding one of these cute (and springy) decals over our otherwise boring bed. This "Insomnia" decal is $35 and completely removable/re-stickable!


So that's how we're planning on beating the winter blues. How about you?? Leave us a comment and let us know how you're thawing out!

January 24, 2011

Meal Planning Monday

We're excited to be linked up with I'm An Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Mondays! Click on the banner and check out all of the AWESOME meal plan menus! Lots of really great ideas and recipes for you to feast your eyes on!

We're back after a hectic week to show you how we're trying to make our weeks less hectic. Does that make sense? No? Okay, anyway. With Mike's first full week of work, my twice a week yoga classes at night and various other social engagements, this past week just got away from us. I have about 15 half-written blog posts to put up, so don't fret. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled blogging in no time.

(our paperwhites finally bloomed!)

Mike and I totally realized this week that we needed to get back to scheduling ourselves a little better. This means getting back on a breakfast/lunch/dinner meal plan.

(Not concerned about meal planning. More concerned about upside down pats.)

I talked a little bit about meal planning before, but I think it would be helpful to share exactly what we're making each week to give you some ideas (and to hold US accountable). We'll also share our cleaning schedule later on this week- if you're looking for other cleaning ideas in the meantime, check out this post!

Onto the plan for this week. Mind you, we're trying to stay way under our grocery budget and to start eating from the pantry more, so many of these meals aren't going to be mind-blowing. But they'll be tasty, nutritious and fill your belly, for sure.

Monday- Turkey burgers, green salad with veggies

Tuesday- Lemon-garlic Slow Cooker Chicken, mashed sweet potatoes, green salad with veggies

Wednesday- Veggie chili, quesadillas

Thursday- Asian pork tenderloin, stir fry veggies, brown rice

Friday- Whole wheat pizza (homemade dough found here ), chicken (leftover from Tuesday), veggies and hot sauce. Mmm.

Saturday- Grilled cheese, minestrone soup (we make a full batch and freeze two servings for lunches)

Sunday- Carrot curry soup (we make a full batch and freeze two servings for lunches, Chicken Caesar salad with leftover roasted chicken from Tuesday


Now here's how you pull it off:

Saturday or Sunday before-

  • Take a pound of ground turkey, use whatever seasonings you like, form into 4 burgers and freeze (lay a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet, lay burgers flat, wrap tray tightly with Saran. Freeze overnight and then transfer into a freezer bag.

  • Make carrot-curry soup (we use this recipe), cool and freeze. Make minestrone, cool and freeze. Each recipe should make at least 4 servings, we ladle two servings into freezer bags and freeze.

  • Make Asian marinade (we use this recipe), place pork tenderloin into a bag and freeze. Take out the day before you plan to serve to defrost. Then you can just drop it into the slow cooker in the morning with no effort!

  • I like to cut up all of the veggies for the salad ahead of time. We eat salads for lunch, so we end up eating all of the veggies by the end of the week.

  • I wash and dry the chicken ahead of time and put the cut up lemon and garlic into a plastic bag. That way I can plop it into the slow cooker in the morning without any fuss. I also peel and cube the sweet potatoes so that I can just put a pot of water on to boil when I get home and drop 'em on in. Easy peasy!

January 14, 2011

Spicy Chicken "Lasagna"

Sometimes the best laid-plans just don't work out. I had been dreaming about a steaming hot bowl of the Pioneer Woman's Chicken Tortilla Soup (you may have noticed that I mention PW every 1 in 3 posts- obsessed much?) all of yesterday. When I got home and began preparing to make it, however, I neglected to read the cook/simmer times (rookie mistake!). The problem? We were hungry like...10 minutes ago. Since I had already roasted off the chicken breasts, I needed a plan B. I still wanted that spicy, tomato-ey taste that I'd get from the tortilla soup, just quicker.

Enter the "lasagna". It's obviously not a real lasagna, but a layered casserole made with spicy chicken, creamy beans and tomatoes and layers of corn tortilla. And let me tell you- it was super delicious. Here's how you can make it in your very own kitchen!

Spicy Chicken "Lasagna"

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (we made a whole pound because they're yummy!)

2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 can Ro-tel (or tomatoes and chili)

1- 28 oz. can black beans, drained

3 tbsp. cream cheese

12 6-inch corn tortillas

1 c. sharp cheddar

cilantro for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°f. Rinse and dry chicken breasts. Arrange on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil.

Combine the cumin, chili powder, salt and garlic powder.

Coat each breast with the spice mixture.

Roast for 20 minutes or until done.

While the breasts are cooling, add the onion and garlic to a pan with a little oil. Saute until translucent, about 5 minutes over medium heat.

Add Ro-tel, drained black beans and cream cheese and mix. Continue to stir until the cream cheese has melted.

At this point, shred the chicken with two forks or chop roughly.

Begin assembling your "lasagna" by layering corn tortilla halves on the bottom of a casserole dish or dutch oven.

Next, add a layer of the bean mixture and a layer of chicken.

Top with another layer of tortillas, bean mixture and chicken. Finish it off with a top layer of tortillas and some cheese, if desired. I added some jalapeƱos and tomatoes to the top of mine. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the inside is hot.

Garnish with cilantro, more cheese, pico de gallo or just eat as it is!

Not too shabby for plan B!

January 13, 2011

Thrifty Tips- Cleaning House

Oh housecleaning. While we wish we could just call a cleaning service or have a robot-maid ala The Jetsons, it's just not in the cards at Tiny Wallet Headquarters. So, we're doing the dirty work all by our lonesome.

The problem is, I'm slightly addicted to cleaning products (I blame my mom- hi Mom!). I buy anything with a brightly colored label that promises to make my job as easy as possible. Now, I know it's all marketing, but I'm a sucker. So, one of my new year's resolutions last year was to green our clean. Cut out the chemically heavy (and expensive!!!) cleaning products and figure out how to do it ourselves to save some bucks and live more green! Here's how our little experiment went down in 2010.

January 12, 2011

Closet Organization

Oh hello there. Almost didn't see you beneath the various piles of snow and clutter that are surrounding us today here at TWS Headquarters. Remember a few weeks back when we got really ambitious and promised a closet makeover? Well, that didn't happen right away. We got busy, etc. etc. and pushed it back. But...the boxes...they taunted us night and day. We waited for a window of free time to manifest itself, and today it did!

We're snowed in here in Boston. The perfect excuse to spend hours and hours on a project! But first, some snow photos!

Here is our porch railing. Snowy wonderland.

This is the view from our stoop! Walking in a...well you get the picture. All of our neighbors did a great job shoveling their walks!



So back to the organizing. Remember this?

Oh my gosh. Terrifying.

After a TON of this:

Our formerly horrible closet became less horrible:

And our bookshelf/tv holder got a little organizing, too!

Snow day= success!

January 10, 2011

Tiny Wallet Style's Thrifty Kitchen Essentials

It's no secret that we love to be in the kitchen, preferably with the stove full of bubbling pots and something delicious in the oven. If you're NOT cooking crazy like us, you may be resolving to figure it out this year and we're here to help!!

One major hurdle to getting your dinner on is the lack of proper cooking equipment. Fear not, frugal friends, because you can hook up your kitchen for mere pennies (well, not really, but still...).  Here's what we consider to be the bare essentials of cooking a great meal. If you're curious about specs/prices, follow the "Found Here" link to the website. We aren't endorsing any of these products nor are we being paid to advertise for them. We just think they would work well in a beginner's kitchen! Do you have any favorite thrifty kitchen items?? Comment and let us know!

1) 2-quart Saucepan

Get one big enough for making pasta or rice. This doesn't have to be super fancy since you're mostly using it for boiling and simmering.

(Found here)

2) Saute Pan with lid

Heavy bottom, skip the non-stick and make sure it has a tight-fitting lid. This will be your biggest investment, but you'll definitely use it the most. Oh, and we like one with a handle that can go into the oven!

(Found Here)

3) Pyrex Bowls Set

This isn't an absolute necessity, but we have found that a good set of serveware/storage bowls can save you a ton of cash otherwise spent on disposable plastic containers.

(Found here)

A Good Spoon and Spatula

You need a good (non-metal) spoon!! A study bamboo one will take you from scraping the bottom of a sauce pan to stirring up a thick batter with no problem. For a spatula, we recommend something non-metal (silicon or heat-proof plastic). Make sure it's relatively thin and strong.

(Found Here)

Measuring Spoon/Cup Set

We recommend both a measuring cup set (for dry ingredients) and a measuring cup (like the one Pyrex makes) for liquid measures.

(Found Here)

Cutting Board Set

It's a good idea to have one cutting board set aside specifically for meat/fish so you don't have to worry about cross-contamination. With this color-coded set, it's easy!

(Found Here)

Mixing/Serving Bowls

Get a few sizes of mixing bowls- you won't regret it. I love these glass ones because they're sturdy and durable. They also are great to go into the fridge with leftovers.

(Found Here)

Chef Knife and Paring Knife

A good knife will change your life in the kitchen. You can spend $15 or $150 on a chef's knife, but regardless you're looking for it to be comfortable in your hand. I like a knife with some weight to it, as well as a firm connection between handle and blade. You should also invest in a paring knife for peeling, de-seeding and other small tasks.

(Found Here)

Headboard Dilemma

Good morning, Tiny people! So, I'd like to start off with a little confession/celebration. When we started this blog, part of the reason was that Mike was laid off, so we had tons of time on our hands. BUT we didn't want to bring down the tone of our posts, so we decided not to tell you. Well..that part is over, because he started a new (and AWESOME) job this morning. For the sake of privacy, I won't tell you what company he's working for, but suffice it to say that it's in an eco-friendly field (which delights us to no end) and should be really interesting and useful for our future home.

Yay! Party party! Mike and Grayfeet are both very excited.

Anyway. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

We want to make a headboard. Our bed is anchored on the longest uniterrupted wall of our bedroom and we haven't found the art/wall sculpture/decoration to make it pop. It's so blahhh and white and boring. (We thought about painting, but since we're not planning to stay here we don't want to invest in it and then have to re-paint)

So...we're thinking headboard! An easy way to inject a little personality into the place, right? We're going to make it, using Young House Love's awesome tutorial. Not sure on a fabric yet, but I'm loving the blue-green in option #2.

This is where you come in. We've narrowed down the shape to these three. Let us know which is your favorite in the comments!!!!

1) (From Amazon.com)


(The Draper's Bed From L.A. Times)


(From West Elm)

January 8, 2011

Conquering Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Mike and I have offered to host a casual brunch tomorrow at our house. Pot-luck, bring what you want, etc. How nice, you might say. Yes, nice indeed, until you get to the part about me offering to make homemade cinnamon rolls for said brunch. After reading the Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls 101, I've been slighty obsessed with making them. Reality time: I'm an unabashed carbohydrate addict. Give me bread, fresh from the oven and slather it in a creamy sugar frosting for good measure. It's my Kryptonite.  But, having had many previous yeast bread disasters, I assumed that cinnamon rolls from scratch was out of my culinary repertoire.

Well, lovely and loyal readers, Tiny Wallet Style is about to blow your mind.

January 6, 2011

Little Closet of Horrors

This blog is causing us to do things we've never done before. Like...show you the horrifying insides of our disorganized closets and drawers. You've already seen our spice drawer, which was an easy fix.

This next thing we're going to show you- not so much. In our apartment, we have TWO closets. One in the bedroom and one for the entire rest of the place. This entryway closet has to serve approximately 33,000 purposes- storage for craft, tool, photo, office, decoration, gift wrapping, sewing machine/supply, tech component, etc. etc. etc. Might I add that this cave of wonders measures in at just 30 inches wide by 21 inches deep? Oh yeah. Roomy.

Deep breath. Here goes:


It's not that we haven't made attempts at organizing.

Not good enough. We still have tons of this to deal with:

This is our "to be filed" file. Which is constantly overflowing because...we don't have anywhere to file it! Go figure.

Our solution???

Be scared, closet. Be very, very scared.

We scored a bunch of these nifty Kassett boxes at IKEA for...wait for it...$.75/each!!!! Bargain!!!

Our plan is to use these babies to stash our design magazines, receipts for taxes and various other things to be filed. We also picked up a few other boxes with lids in hopes of corralling all of the things that don't have homes, yet.

We're feeling super daunted by this project, but excited at the same time. Of course, we'll keep you posted with the progress! We're hoping to tackle it over the weekend, so keep your eyes peeled on Monday.

What about you? Are there any organizing nightmares that you're hoping to tackle this year?? Comment and let us know!

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