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Signing Away the Rental.

September 14, 2010

Five years ago, when my husband was 24,  he had the unfortunate experience of losing his last living grandparent.  Armando, his maternal grandfather, had immigrated here from Spain with his wife and three daughters.  He passed his home down to his children and the family was left to figure out what to do with it.

My husband and his brother decided to purchase the house from their aunts.  Their mom, my mother-in-law, would keep her share of the house invested, which essentially acted as a down payment for the home.  With their mother as a cosigner, they purchased the home and kept it in the family.

His brother moved in and rented out the spare bedrooms to friends.  My husband made a $450 payment each month and essentially, the house became a rental to him.  It’s not an arrangement that would work for all families, but for this close-knit group it went off without a hitch.

Fast forward five years and much has changed.  My husband and I bought a home, got married, had a baby [in that exact order].  He became the sole wage earner for our family.  When we started our financial turnaround, we ruthlessly cut expenses.  But the rental, we treated with care.

We knew we needed that $450 each month.  We knew we needed a good relationship with his brother even more. We couldn’t ask him to sell.  That house was his home, after all.  One night I asked my husband… What if we just gave it to him?

The relief we felt at this prospect let us know we had found the perfect solution.  My husband would sign over his interest in the house to his brother.  We would gain that money in our budget each month.  His brother would take over the full payment, but get to keep what had been contributed to the house thus far.  Everybody wins.

This month, my husband signs the papers and his brother takes over ownership of the home.  I like to think that it would make Armando happy, to see his eldest grandson settling down in his home.

As for us, we couldn’t be more thrilled.  We came away with both family and budget intact.  It’s that much more we can sock away each month to try and get our own mortgage out from underwater.

Homemade Mint Vinegar

September 13, 2010

A few weeks ago, I had some extra mint lying around and I didn’t want to let it spoil.  I decided to give herb infused vinegar a shot.  I submerged my mint in white vinegar, put it in a mason jar, sealed it and put it in a cool, dark place for almost three weeks.

Truth be told, it only needed to sit for two weeks.  I stuck it in the very back of my bottom corner cabinet and forgot about it.  But hey, that just means that it’s now extra minty, right?

I strained the mint leaves out and poured my lovely pale green vinegar into these little bottles I had in my cabinet.  Last year, I made a big batch of homemade kahlua, bottled it up and gave them out as Christmas presents.  I had ordered these bottles to package them and ended up ordering two too many.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.  When I bottled up my vinegar, I was pleased to find that it actually smelled of mint!  I served this vinegar with olive oil and a splash of balsamic over a salad of butter lettuce.  It tasted really light & fresh.  I’m excited to try making a vinaigrette with it.

This tasty treat was super cheap to make.  A gallon of vinegar costs $1.50, so the two cups I used cost a mere nineteen cents.  The cup of mint was leftover from fixing cucumber raita for dinner last night and otherwise would’ve ended up in the compost.

The nifty thing is that you can try this with all sorts of herbs, whatever you have lying around.  I look forward to trying this herbal infusion again next time I have some extra basil lying around.

Food Waste Friday: Back to Nothin’

September 10, 2010

I have no picture to show you because nothing went to waste this week.  I threw some stale bread in the freezer this week and I think I finally have enough to make bread pudding, so I’m going to give that a try soon.

I need to start working through my freezer stash as I’ve got lots of goodies and no room in there.   Next week, I need to make sure to work in some fish recipes and a french bread pizza.  And maybe use up a bag of my frozen raspberries making some sort of baked treat.  We’ll see.

Anyway, I know I’ve been rather absent this week, but I’ll be back next week with lots of good news and victories to share.  Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

CSA, Now with Meal Plan!

September 9, 2010

Yesterday, I received my first box of 11 farm fresh deliveries from Two Small Farms.  For anyone new, I had been gifted a four week membership to a CSA and liked it so much, I decided to continue on my own.

Starting clockwise from the back left, we have two kinds of lettuce, mei quin choy, swiss chard, italian parsley, potatoes, strawberries, honeydew and tomatoes.

I’ve decided to start sharing my meal plan for the week as well.  Keeping the picture of everything I have to use right in front of me is tremendously helpful in this new method of meal planning.  It used to be that I would plan the weekly menu around whatever protein was on sale at the supermarket.

Nowadays, I’m buying most of my meat in bulk, either from the rancher or a warehouse store.  It keeps in my deep freeze, so the real challenge is to use up all my produce!

Thursday: Overnight Waffles w/ fresh whipped cream and strawberries

Friday: [night off, mom’s house]

Saturday:

  • lunch: Potato-Chard Skillet
  • dinner: Tomato & Arugula Pasta w/ Spicy Cornbread

Sunday: [day off, mother-in-law’s house]

Monday: Chicken Cacciatore w/ green salad

Tuesday: leftover Chicken Cacciatore w/ buttered choy

Wednesday: Parsley Pesto on linguini

Since Monday-Wednesday will feature lots of saucy dishes, I’ll probably bake some bread to go with it.  Breakfasts are usually smoothies, yogurt & granola or quick breads – this week we have zucchini bread hanging around.  Weekday lunches are either almond butter & jam sandwiches (my little one is over the moon for these) or soup from the freezer.  I have lamb & orzo, minestrone and chicken noodle all frozen and ready to be defrosted and eaten.

There’s a number of recipes I’ve never tried before on the menu this week, so this should be interesting.  I’m sure my husband will consider the parsley pesto to be blasphemy, but I’m going to give it a shot.  I don’t want my parsley to end up part of Food Waste Friday again.

Place Holder.

September 8, 2010

I received some very exciting news this weekend that set my schedule all a blur.  I’ll be back tomorrow with a regularly scheduled post, I promise.

In the meantime, I offer you a picture of my little one being a rascal after his bath.

See you tomorrow!

Super Mario Cross Stitch

September 7, 2010

When I was pregnant with my little one, I knew that I wanted a Super Mario themed nursery.  I was in love with the Super Mario Blik and it seemed just perfect to adorn the walls of our nursery.  It was a little pricey, so I knew that any additional decorating would best be handmade.


Eight bit Super Mario brothers and counted cross stitch are a match made in heaven.  I started this almost a year ago and have dutifully worked on it at night, after the baby goes to sleep.  It took quite awhile, both because I worked on it sporadically and because it is nearly a foot and a half long!

Cross stitch is a great hobby for crafty people on a budget.  The supplies are super cheap and when you’re done, you have a one of a kind decoration to adorn your walls.

I downloaded the pattern for free from Sprite Stitch which is full of amazing ideas for the inner geek in everyone.  The materials ran me no more than ten dollars.  All that’s left to do is press it, frame it and hang it in the nursery.

Finally finishing up such a huge project has left me excited to take on something new.  I think I will put down the embroidery needle and pick up my knitting needles.  It’s been over a year and I have a collection of yarn stashed under my bed that’s just waiting to be used up.

Food Waste Friday: Back Again

September 3, 2010

In an attempt to become less wasteful, each Friday I am tracking and posting what ends up in the garbage instead of our tummies.

For a good many reasons, I broke my streak of zero food waste.  Between my husband being out of town for two days and three nights, then being sick with a migraine another day… the food waste forces were conspiring against me.

Before I dive in, I want to mention something I learned from Kristen at The Frugal Girl.  I’ve been refrigerating my herbs in a glass jar with some water in bottom, kind of like how florists store their flowers.

But like flowers, you have to make sure herbs have enough water to nourish them.  And this is where I failed this week.  It seems that parsley needs much more water than my chives did.  I didn’t realize it until it was too late and my poor little parsley wilted to the point of no return.

The salsa was brought over by a friend, but since I started making my own my husband and I haven’t been interested in the jarred stuff.  It’s only a couple of bites, but into the garbage it went.

Finally, there’s a lil’ Walla Walla onion that was a little too soft for my liking.  I had a dozen of these little guys, so just one going to waste isn’t as bad as it could have been.

All things told, it could have been way worse.  At least now I know to keep a better eye on my herbs in the fridge.  Hope to see you for a pictureless Friday next week.