Monday, September 19, 2011

Recipes: Cabbage Rolls

As I STILL can't post any decorating tips, I figured I would share a recipe instead. When I was younger, my family would always go to my grandparents for Thanksgiving. My grandma would put out a delicious spread, and one of the things she ALWAYS made was cabbage rolls. One day when I first moved into this apartment, I had an intense urge to make them and try them for the first time. Strangely, I had never tried them as a child, so I had no idea why I was craving them so badly! I wasn't positive on the recipe, but this is what I came up with, and later learned was correct!

You will need:

1 small cabbage
1 pkg ground beef
1 1/2 cups rice (uncooked)
2-3 cans tomato soup (depending how saucy you like things)
salt and pepper

Super simple! Now, remember, I don't go by recipes so I just gave you those measurements as guidelines.

Here is my cabbage:
The water bottle is modeling just so you can see how teeny the cabbage is.
Cut as much of the stalk out of the cabbage as you can. This will help the inside layers cook faster. Just be very careful, I've cut myself many times doing this (I never learn).
Be careful!!
Put the cabbage into a tall pot with a lid, and boil for about an hour. You can tell it's cooked when you can push a skewer almost all the way through, and the leaves are yellowy-green and falling apart.
Uncooked cabbage.
Do NOT try to peel the cabbage apart yet! It will burn you. Remove the pot from the stove, and put it in the sink with cold water to cool down. Once it's cooled, peel it apart and put the leaves in a collander in a bowl to help drain the water out. When you get to the center that will probably be still hard, chop it up! You will be needing that.

Cooked cabbage :)
Now, while that's hanging out draining, cook your rice according to the package instructions. While that's cooking, cook up your ground beef, and halfway through, throw your diced cabbage bits in:
Looks like onions doesn't it? You can add onions if you like!
Once those are done, mix them together, throwing half a can of tomato soup, as well as the salt and pepper into the pot:
Now, it's time to make the rolls. Through trial and error you will figure out what works for you, and what sizes you like. You can wrap a few leaves around if you like, which is what I usually do (it helps keep them from falling apart). Mine always end up looking like this:

Into the casserole dish they go!
 Throw the remaining soup on and:
It's ready for the oven!
Bake them at 350° for about an hour, checking every once in awhile. When they're done, they will be dark on the tops of the uncovered cabbage and the soup will be thickened and bubbling. Now, uh, in my excitement after they were cooked I forgot to take a picture before diving in.. sorry guys!

*Now, you will most likely have cabbage and rice leftover, and what I do is rip up the remaining cabbage and mix it into the rice, then freeze it. You can thaw it, throw some soup on it and make a casserole later :)

Love, Jamie

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Packing - Inside the Mess

I haven't written in about a week, and here's why: as it turns out, 3 years in the life of an aspiring home decorator = a LOT of stuff! I have been packing every day. My boyfriend keeps insisting it will all fit in a 14ft. u-haul, but I'm not so sure. What I am sure about, is everything will be ready to go the morning of moving day. Side story: a couple of years ago, a couple of friends of mine, rented a couple of apartments*. Moving day arrived and we came over to help, and they had packed nothing! Kayla, if you're reading this, the state of your house still has me traumatized! The new renters (and their families of about 6 apiece) were actually waiting in the yard for hours, staring at us as we haphazardly threw things into the u-haul! 

*In the case of the 'couple of apartments', they ended up having to move again a few weeks later, as their new place was infested with roaches and bedbugs. Kayla had major nightmares about those bedbugs. Luckily they are very laid-back, go with the flow type people. I know I wouldn't have handled it as well as my friend! They did take us for a lovely (expensive) meal at Joey's, to thank us for helping them move twice.
Moral of the story - be ready for moving day, make sure you ask about bug situations, and your friends won't complain about a free meal!

Since I have nothing pretty to blog about, I'm going to instead show you what I'm living in.

Not much to say for the floor..
 The top of the island is the packing headquarters; tape, newspaper, cleaning supplies..

That window? There's a shed built up against it. No fresh air in here.. but there is a story. When we first moved in, we didn't have access to this room. It was locked and full of the landlord's old stuff. Our bedroom is on the other side of the wall, and when we lay in bed talking, I would try to freak Tristan out with stories of how the landlord secretly uses it as a torture chamber, and that there were probably freezers full of body parts lining the walls. Gross? Yes. Creeped him out? Nope. We would laugh, Tristan would fall asleep, and I would lay awake. Eyes widening in terror at every creak. My imagination would run wild, picturing a sledgehammer wielding maniac about to burst through the wall. Oh memories. I will miss some things about this place. Tristan keeps saying if I cry on moving day, he will have no sympathy. 'I'm just going to remind you of the million times you said you hated this place!' Well, in my defense, it couldn't have been more than 3000 times.

One fun thing I have to show you:

As there will be two bathrooms, these are the TWO boxes of decor!! I am beyond thrilled to decorate my own bathroom. Here are a few treats I bought last week:

Washcloth stand; 14.99, Shower curtain hooks; 9.99, Orange Blossom 'Dream of Paris' soap; 5.99, Crown picture; 12.99, all Homesense. The real deal of the day was the fabric shower curtain (damask print that you can't see in this photo). From Home Outfitters, originally 29.99, marked down to 19.99, then an extra 20% off as it was the floor model. 14.99? I say YES.

Moving day is about 2 1/2 weeks away. I will be ready for it.

Love, Jamie

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Polished Future Plans

Yaaay! Polished and boyfriend got a new apartment! We're moving up in the world! We're relocating from Vancouver to Kelowna, where my family lives and where we used to live (well, Winfield but close enough!). Been planning this for so long, but I wasn't expecting us to find such a great place! 2 bedrooms, and, get this - 2 bathrooms! MY OWN BATHROOM! From someone who grew up in a trailer park, this is a dream come true! Pictures will definitely be coming in October, of our old apartment and our new one, so you can see the transition we're making!! But for now, here's a little tip:

I like keeping glass items together for more impact.
So lovely on the coffee table!
White on white is a favorite of mine.

I bought all of these flowers for  about 17 dollars at Safeway. They lasted a little over a week. To add a little more interest when you buy flowers, instead of sticking them all in one vase or jug on your coffee table, take a few and fill a couple of smaller vases or (like I did), mugs and jars, and spread them out around the room. I also like to choose bouquets made of one type of flower, or, if you choose different kinds, keep them all one hue. It's much more 'everyday' than formal. I think you'll like the effect! As much as I like silk/artificial flowers, I love fresh flowers. They change the entire feeling of a room, and you enjoy them much more because their time is limited! Treat yourself next time you head to the grocery store!

Love, Jamie

Thursday, September 01, 2011

When you hate the walls in your apartment..

Last night I was talking to my friend Kayla about this new blog, and asked what kind of problems she's run into with her new apartment (she's recently moved to Korea). She said she can't stand the wallpaper, and I realized that's probably a common problem with renters. I know when we first moved into our apartment (my landlord has since painted), our walls were terrible. So, I decided to do a little brainstorming/research. Here are some ideas:

1. If your landlord won't paint, offer to do the work for free if they buy the supplies. A lot of landlords are open to that these days, so long as they don't have to hire a painter or do it themselves. Landlords are supposed to repaint every few years so you might even be doing them a favor!

2. Go to a fabric store and check their discount shelves for inexpensive fabric in a neutral color or pattern. Make sure it's thick enough that any dark wallpaper or paint won't show through. Simply tack the fabric to the walls, and when you move you can take it with you. Just remember that when you hang pictures over the fabric, those holes aren't spackle-friendly!!

3. And last, the coolest option I found: removable wallpaper. It can run a bit expensive, but if you're not planning on buying a home anytime soon, this may be a good investment as you can take it (without damaging the walls) when you move. Do a quick google search and there are plenty of companies making this stuff now. Here is one site I liked:

I may try these sometime!

Love, Jamie

Recipes: Bruschetta

To me, one of the most exciting things about having my own home is grocery shopping. When I first moved out of the nest, I was buying the exact same things my family bought, but after awhile you discover your own 'staple' foods. One of mine is the ingredients for bruschetta. Awhile ago my aunt and cousin came to Vancouver for a girls getaway weekend, and to thank us for letting them stay here, they cooked us a fabulous dinner with ingredients they bought on Granville Island. Bruschetta was on the menu, and ever since it's been a favorite of mine. It's really easy to make, and this is how I make it:

(You'll find that I don't like using measurements. I only measure things when baking. I prefer to trust my instincts when cooking)

You will need:
2 tomatoes (I use plum)
1 baguette (multigrain)
grated cheese (I use asiago or romano)
fresh basil (I use atleast 4-5 large leaves)
garlic (fresh or the kind minced in a jar)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Slice the bread however thick or thin as you like, on an angle. Arrange on ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for a few minutes, until cheese is melted. Don't bake too long or the bread will get too crispy (the tomatoes will go everywhere when you try to eat it!


 While the oven is heating/bread is toasting, slice the tomatoes lengthwise and remove the seeds. I like to rinse them to get any residue off. Dice the tomatoes and chop the basil, mixing together in a small bowl. Add your chopped/minced garlic (however much you want, I like using alot of garlic!), and slowly drizzle the mixture with oil, stirring until evenly coated.

(bowl made for my 20th birthday by Sue <3)

Once the bread is done, I either arrange it on a plate and add the tomatoes myself, or I serve them like so:

(serving plate, $2, salad bowl, $3.99, both Ikea)

I find bruschetta to be really filling on its own (probably the bread!), but I like to serve it with a salad sometimes. Put out small plates so people can take a few at a time as well as the salad. Enjoy!

Love, Jamie