March 31, 2011

Easter Table Inspiration

I'm planning an Easter brunch for both sides of our family. This, in addition to the wonderful church service and food, needs to include super cute (and springy!) decor. On a $10 budget.

We're planning to use the pale and springy color pallette from our spring mantel, but I've been combing through all of the Easter posts around the interweb for even more ideas. Here's what's inspiring me:

We've already picked up a few delicate, floral teacups and saucers that we plan to integrate into the table setting, perhaps holding some flowers or as place cards. 

Adding in some natural elements like nests and branches will add some texture and not break the bank. I'm planning to snip a few large bunches of lilacs that bloom at my folk's house (where we're holding the brunch), so I think we'll easily come in under budget. I'm going to mock it up at our place, so expect some photos over the weekend! 

We're so excited to be linking up with: 


this blessed nest
Go hop on over and check out all of the awesomely inspiring projects! Tell 'em TinyWalletStyle sent ya!

March 30, 2011

Quickie Dinner- Red Pepper Pasta

This dinner was so good. Quick and delicious. Versatile, adaptable and chock full of springy goodness. And it took 15 minutes to make! 

Red Pepper Pasta

1/2- 1 lb. pasta (we used oricchette)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1- 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1- 8 oz. jar roasted peppers, drained (or 2 fresh peppers-roasted, peeled and seeded)
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 oz. goat cheese (optional) or 1/4 c. cream or half and half (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt (to taste)
fresh cracked pepper (to taste)
1 cup cooked veggies (we used peas and asparagus)

Cook pasta according to package. Drain and set aside.
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, add oil and heat over medium. Saute onion and garlic for a few minutes, until they begin to soften.
Add in tomatoes and turn down heat to simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until tomatoes are hot. 
Add in drained peppers and red pepper flakes. Stir to break up peppers. 
When the sauce is hot and well-combined, stir in goat cheese until it melts (or add in cream). Season to taste. 
Stir in veggies and pasta and serve hot.
Mmmm. This was awesome as leftovers, too! Oh, and it ran us about $3 to make! Score. 

Extreme Personal Measures

March 29, 2011

Quickie Dinner- Chicken Meatballs

This is a super-quick but satisfying dinner that is perfect for nights when you're tempted to call for take-out. Mixing up the meatballs is done in less than five minutes and you can roll 'em and have them baking in another 5 or so.

The best part is, they're super versatile. You could make a batch of sweet and sour sauce and serve with some quick stir-fried veggies. Or, whip up some simple tomato sauce. Even on their own, with a grain salad would be awesome.

These babies are great in the freezer and thaw out quickly!

Baked Chicken Meatballs

1 lb. ground chicken
1 egg, beaten
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. breadcrumbs (we're using Ian's Whole Wheat Panko)
2 tbsp. tomato paste (or ketchup)
1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp. fresh cracked pepper (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 400f.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.

Mix thoroughly and form into small balls (I use about a tablespoon per meatball). Arrange on a baking sheet (we use a 9x13 Pyrex).

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.

*If freezing, cool on baking sheet and cover with aluminium foil. Freeze overnight and remove meatballs to a plastic freezer bag or container. Thaw in refrigerator overnight and warm in microwave or in a hot oven.

March 26, 2011

Tiny Improvements

*This is one part in a series of posts about what I’m doing to improve our lives this year. Not New Year’s Resolutions, just a few Tiny Improvements!

3) Cutting Down Our Carbon Footprint (and Grocery Bill!)

Check out when we made bagels!

This year, we really want to focus on the idea of homesteading- reclaiming our self-sufficiency at home. Gardening (and actually eating what we grow), kicking the boxed food habit and focusing on sustainability. A few easy ways were doing this:
  • making at home what we usually buy: whole wheat bread, stocks and broths, laundry detergent and whatever else we possibly can.
  • eliminating processed foods completely from our diet (with a few exceptions- mainly Girl Scout cookies)
  • buying in bulk at our local food co-op: this will save on both cost and packaging, since we’ll bring our own containers!
  • growing a large vegetable garden and canning/freezing the excess produce
  • making an earnest effort to buy most of our other produce at the farmer’s market. We’ve found that by buying locally and seasonally, we’re able to save money AND eat more nutritiously.
  • composting: we’re planning to set up a small compost bin this spring!
What are you doing to live more sustainably? Got any tips for us? Leave us a comment!! 

March 25, 2011

Planning a Vegetable Garden

It's a super sunny, gorgeously blue-sky kind of day here in Boston. Although the thermometer still says "winter", we're feeling pretty springy. We have the seed catalogues out, and are in the middle of reading two awesome books: 

We're getting excited about expanding our vegetable garden. As we mentioned, we're planning to nix the flowers this year (sniffle, sniffle), opting instead to just spend our pennies growing things we can actually eat! We're doing lots of reading to figure out how to grow a thriving garden on a tiny budget!

Here's a preview of what we've got up our sleeve! Next week, we'll show you our garden plan and talk specifics.
Photos via Territorial Seed (they are awesome- check 'em out!)

Tiny Improvements

*This is one part in a series of posts about what I’m doing to improve our lives this year. Not New Year’s Resolutions, just a few Tiny Improvements!

2) Get Realistic

Oh, the schedule. The bane of my existence. We are learning, slowly and surely to stick to a schedule. The older and busier I get, the more I realize that I NEED a schedule in black and white in order to get through my week.

FebPics 272

In my “Command Center”, I have each week of the month printed out. On Sunday, I sit down with our calendar and map out the week: 
This helps me see if we’re overscheduled, too, so I can add in some “us” time if we need it.


I’ve also devised a morning to-do list. This is a chronological checklist that helps me budget my time before and after work. I’ve distilled it down to the “must-do” (in my mind, of course) things that I want to get done:
  • Brew a pot of coffee, pack lunches
  • Eat breakfast and do my quiet time
  • Make the bed
  • Get dressed, pack work bag
  • Throw in a load of laundry, if necessary
  • Wash breakfast dishes
  • Sweep kitchen floor, straighten up
  • Take vitamins, drink water (8+ glasses)
  • Feed cats, refill cat’s water
tinywalletfeb-8-11 063
This makes it much easier to figure out what to do when I wake up at 6:30am and am a little groggy!

March 24, 2011

Tiny Improvements

*This is one part in a series of posts about what I’m doing to improve our lives this year. Not New Year’s Resolutions, just a few Tiny Improvements!

Hey there! Hope this finds you well- I can't believe it's already Thursday! We had a dusting of SNOW last night here in New England. Guess Mama Nature missed the memo that it's spring time. I'm cool with it, for another week or so. Still time to sneak in some hearty, winter stews and such.

It is, however, already three (nearly four!) months into this lovely year. I realized that I didn't really share with you some of the things I decided to try and accomplish this year. So, in the interest of keeping myself accountable, here goes!

1) Take care of my body
I've never been super concerned with how I look in the mirror. Of course, I like to look nice but I've never been obsessed. This all changed for me this year at a recent doctor's appointment. She mentioned that my weight has been nudging up and that losing a few pounds would do wonders for regulating my PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome). 

So, dear and darling friends and readers, it is ON. It’s time that I took control of my body and not the other way around. I’m doing lots of reading, and if any of you have suggestions on how to go about doing this let me know!

  • I’m starting out with a high-protein/low-carb/tons of fresh veggies approach and seeing how my body responds.
  • Mike and I are scheduling in cardio workouts 3x a week and yoga twice a week. We’re going to add in bike rides, walks and hiking once the weather gets nice.
  • I’m challenging myself to drink 8+glasses of water a day. I’ll do this by bringing my 24 oz. water bottle to work- I’ll be more likely to guzzle it if I have it with me!
  • I’ll start taking a multi-vitamin and a probiotic regularly. I’m hoping this will also help boost my immune system (thanks to the kids I work with, I get tons of colds).
  • Switch my eating style to mini-meals- a good breakfast followed by little, protein-packed meals throughout the day (5 total meals).
What do you do to stay healthy? Comment and let us know!!!

March 23, 2011

Quickie Dinner- Spiced Chickpeas with Quinoa

In our house, spring cleaning kind of happens whenever we find ourselves with some free time. Sweeping under the fridge or dusting the (horrific) vinyl wallpaper in our living room just kind of get done when they get done. This year, we decided to extend the spirit of spring renewal into our cabinets, as well. 

We got rid of a ton of expired food when we reorganized our cabinets, but there is a way to go until we have used all of the good stuff that is stuffed in our pantry. Lots of canned and dry goods, lots of half-full bags of pasta. Here is our meal plan for the week which will (hopefully) use up quite a bit of our stash. 

Cumin Spiced Chickpeas
Inspired by The Minimalist

1 onion, chopped (we used red)
1 1-inch piece of peeled ginger, grated
1 tbsp. toasted, whole cumin seeds, ground
1 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp. olive or safflower oil
3 c. chopped veggies (use what you have around- we had carrots, peppers, snow peas, broccoli)
salt and pepper to taste
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed 

In a dry pan, toast the cumin seed for a few seconds (until fragrant). 

Grind with a mortar and pestle or coffee/spice grinder. 

Combine cumin, oil, lemon juice, ginger, salt and pepper.

 Add chickpeas, onion and veggies to a large bowl and combine with dressing.

 Refrigerate overnight for best flavor. Serve with quinoa or whole wheat cous-cous.

Linking up with: 

March 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday!

Happy Monday, everyone! We're back atcha with another Menu Plan Monday- this time, a little different. We're going to skip the grocery shopping this week and focus on a major pantry cleanout in preparation for the spring! And, as always, we're linking up with the fabulous Orgjunkie's MPM! Go check out the zillions of awesomely inspiring menus!
Monday: Cumin spiced chickpea salad with quinoa

Tuesday: Vegetable lasagna from February's dinner co-op and a salad

Wednesday: Chana masala, basmati rice and slow cooker lentils

Thursday: Slow cooker minestrone soup (half for the freezer)

Friday: Black bean tacos with feta and slaw

What's cookin' in your kitchen this week? Do tell! 

March 20, 2011

On Being Thankful

This was a rough weekend. Our week, while busy, was great and filled with friends, food and happiness. 
Then came Friday, the start of a weekend of memorial services for Mike's Nana. The services were filled with beauty and joy- tributes to the grace and peace of her long and happy life. The people that we met and re-met, the stories that we heard were all wonderfully uplifting and joyful. We are so grateful for the stories and the memories. It was a very emotional day for all. 

Sitting at the kitchen table, I meditated over the many things I have to be thankful for. The warm breeze that signals the end of a long and cold winter. The fridge full of food and the warmth of our little apartment. A family full of joy, support, love and good conversation. A husband who always has a strong shoulder for me to lean on. A steaming hot cup of coffee. 

It's easy to forget all of the little things that you have to celebrate. Life is about moving forward, getting better, improvement- but what if we just take a minute to press pause? If we actually try to count our blessings? Would our "To Do" lists become a little less important? Would an impromptu game of Scrabble become a little more memorable? Would that warm spring breeze earn your full attention for just a minute, instead of passing by unnoticed?

I'm choosing to focus on the long list of things that I have to celebrate instead of those that bring me down. To smile instead of complain. To work hard instead of wish that I had it easier.To be the best version of myself that I can possibly be. In honor of Nana, I'm choosing joy. 

March 17, 2011

Follow Us! Pretty Please?

Just wanted to mention that we've added Google Friend Connect! If you're a Blogger blogger or use Google Reader, follow us to keep up with all of the tiny, stylish and thrifty projects we have cooking! 
Did you say treat or tweet?

We're on Twitter @tinywalletstyle, too! If you want to check out what we're tweetin', follow us! You will be treated to a miscellany of random thoughts that generally appear when we're waiting for the bus or in line at the craft store.

Oh, and we'll totally follow you back! We just love meeting new friends!

St. Pattie's Day Style

As we mentioned in this post, we whipped up a thrifty little feast for St. Patrick's Eve for under $20! While getting groceries, I found a few great little potted plants-shamrock and daffodils, to spruce up our table. They will last a while on our windowsill after the dinner, so it was $5 well spent.

Check out our Irish style table! We already had the tablecloth, runner and place mats. 

We plunked a few flowers left from my Valentine's Day (!!!) bouquet into some green glass bottles (I think they were beer bottles?). I tossed in a little shamrock garland that I grabbed at Dollar Tree to make it a little sparkly.  
We had a wonderful dinner with our neighbors (who brought lots of Murphy's Stout to share!) Here's Mike embracing his inner Irish and enjoying a pint!


Linking up with: 

somewhat simple button

Transformation Thursday

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