Saturday, February 25, 2012

I Like Mine With Lettuce and Tomato

I know. That song’s in your head now. Sorry ;)


Last March, I wrote about a few ways to green your spring. It looks like I’m craving the sunny weather earlier this year, as I’m already thinking about spring in Portland. (Well really, summer. Spring is usually just rain rain rain here.) 

One of the tips I mentioned last spring is to try out a CSA box. (Community Supported Agriculture.) So, I’m basically here to repeat myself :) Well, two things. I think last March I only had about 5 readers, so I want to spread the word about this awesome program to a few more people. And, I just really, really love it.

sample veggie share

What is a CSA exactly, you may ask?

I bet most of you know about them, but just in case: its a subscription-based program to purchase fresh produce from local farms. Subscribers pay for a share of the upcoming harvest from a local farm and pick up fresh fruits and veggies each week. Our CSAs have lasted 18 and 20 weeks, but some go for 28 weeks and I’ve even found one year-round program. And they deliver right to your house!

The cost varies, and some farms have different size shares (for a family of 2 versus a family of 4 or 5). Most are organic but all are local. The bounty depends on the success of the growing season, but even in the past two wet, not-so-sunny seasons in Portland, we’ve received lots of fresh, yummy vegetables.

(Here’s a link to find options in your area:

Here’s an example of one a typical Portland CSA box:


There are so many benefits to subscribing: fresh produce that tastes great and packed full of nutrients, trying new things you’d otherwise never buy at the grocery store, and supporting local farmers. Just gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling all the way around :)

Plus you learn all sorts of new things. Like eating tons of beets will turn your pee red, make you panic, and run to WebMD to make sure you’re not experiencing weird blood loss. TMI?

Of course, there are some cons, like having to pick your box up at the same place and time each week, which isn’t always convenient. But its well worth it.

One concern we had was not eating all the food. For this reason, we share with our in-laws. I also learned how to can food last summer, so I now know what to do with the fresh veggies we won’t eat in time. You can also freeze some things. We got little pie pumpkins last year so I pureed the pumpkin and froze it. Its currently thawing on the counter waiting to be made into delicious muffins.

So that’s enough.  I’m stepping off my farm-fresh, delicious, CSA soap box now :)

Turns out I’m not the only blogger who loves their CSA. Check out these blogs that either solely focus on CSAs and cooking, or at least discuss it a lot:

Cooking 4 the Week
its all happening!
And two different blogs with very similar names:
Cooking Through My CSA Box 
Cooking My Way Through My CSA

peas on the vine

Have you ever tried a CSA subscriptions? What was the best part about it? What would you like to change? Did the side effect of too many beets freak you out too?

Sharing at Serenity Now's Weekend Bloggy Reading.
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Friday, February 10, 2012

On an Island in the Sun (kitchen inspiration)

Hi friends! Matt and I are counting down to a vacation, so stoked :) We’re headed South! We’re going to Alabama, Mississippi, or Louisiana, I’ve never been to any of those states so I’m pretty excited!

Anyway, we’ve been trying to wrap up gathering contractor bids for the kitchen before we go, so we can make a decision and get going once we’re home.

Oh! But before I forget… since we’re going to be gone for a while, I’m looking for guest bloggers! Are you interested? Please send me an email, I’d love to highlight some other blogs. (katiednewcomb at gmail dot com)

The contractors meeting have been going really well. I’ll write up a post about the whole experience once we’ve met everyone but its much less nerve-wracking than I expected :)

Anyway, one contractor asked me about the kitchen island features which got me thinking. There are so many possibilities!

Here are some questions I’ve been contemplating this week (and asking Matt his opinion… sorta :)

Our cooktop will be in the island. But do we have a fancy hood over the island, or an invisible down draft?


found here via Pinterest

found here on Pinterest

Should we have a bar for seating or just tons of storage?


found here via Pinterest


found here via Pinterest

Or both?

found here via Pinterest

If we go with seating, should the island be two levels or just one?


found here via Pinterest

found here via Pinterest

I’d really like a shelf for cookbooks on the end of the island. But there are even several options for that!

found here via Pinterest

found here via Pinterest

The possibilities are endless! Its so overwhelming. And FUN!

And if we can’t decide, the fall back plan is a Lego island.

Lego kitchen island
found here via Pinterest

How seriously cool!


Do you have a kitchen island? What is your favorite feature?

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Imagine the Impossibilities Challenge (New Kitchen Part 2)

So I’m more than fashionably late to the Imagine the Impossibilities Challenge, but I wanted to participate and share an update with you guys.

the space between

Right after my last post about kitchen planning, I got busy searching for price estimates and researching contractors in Portland. Nothing like a little challenge to light a fire under my bum. I’ve also been playing phone tag with someone in the Building Services Dept of our county… I’ve determined that I’m going to be very needy to the kind-sounding woman that called me back, once I get a hold of her :)

So that anti-climatic, underwhelming summary is pretty much where we are in the kitchen addition project :) But here are some fun details for you…

As a little reminder, this is what our current kitchen looks like (on a good, but rare, clean day).

(Now do you see why we need want a new one?)

Here’s me hugging our awesome new fridge that lives in the living room, at least until the remodel is complete.


(Doesn’t Matt make a good Vanna White?)

We have already scored an awesome deal – a GE Profile stainless steel convection microwave and oven.


And I’ve used to draw out our plans.


I called three local contractors that were rated highly on Yelp (one is a husband/wife team, I have high hopes for them). I left two messages and one person is coming by tomorrow to look at the house.

So while there is still a very large question mark in the overall budget, I’m making progress!

Here is what I did find out about some of the materials we’ll need to purchase (sources for cost estimates in parentheses):

Flooring: $1,500 - $2,200 (Lumber Liquidators)
Cabinets: $3,920 (IKEA Kitchen Planner)
Countertops: $3,300 - $5,000 (Home Depot)
Fridge: $1,100 (Home Depot – already purchased)
Oven/Microwave: $565 (ReStore – already purchased)
Cooktop: $500 (estimate from several sources)
Dishwasher: $300 (estimate from several sources)

TOTAL SO FAR: $11,185 - $13,585

The big question marks are still:
Contract to build foundation and exterior walls 
Building materials and windows
Extending a gas line to new cooktop
Hiring an electrician
Cost of permits and inspections (though I think this will be between $500 - $1000)

Based on our goal cost of $25,200, we have between $11,615 and $14,015 to cover all those question marks, plus all the other little (and not so little) things I didn’t list, like a range hood, sink, paint, trim, etc. Eeek, seems like a low estimate to me :) Crossing my fingers!

I’m excited to talk with the contractors and start finalizing our plans.

In the mean time, I’ve been patrolling many blogs for advice from other first-time remodelers. Here are some great articles:

1. Tips on Paying Contractors from Design is… All in the Details

2. Gather Kitchen Inspiration from Houzz

3. Retail Haggling (for appliances) from 5 Days 5 Ways
4. My interview with Anne from Hello Newman’s about her favorite kitchen features, storage ideas, and how to remodel on a budget

So while I didn’t take any giant leaps toward our kitchen remodel, I feel pretty good. I took some necessary baby steps in order to begin the process.

I can’t wait to share our first experience with contractors with you! Looking forward to meeting them (and I’m nervous!). Otherwise, this weekend will be spent fighting a cold, playing soccer, and watching the Super Bowl.

What are your weekend plans? Any advice for us on our initial meet with the contractor?


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