Tag Archives: thrifting

Wild Mushroom and Marjoram Chicken

I started my morning off with a trip to the dentist.   It’s not the most pleasant way to begin the day and truthfully I had no idea that I even had an appointment.  There was some sort of a mix up at the office—they thought Piyush had an appointment at 7am, so they called to remind him about it.  He said he didn’t make the appointment, so they thought maybe it was me.  They called me and I had no idea that I made an appointment either (especially at 7!  on my day off!).   Since I was free for the day, they convinced me to go in and get my pearly whites cleaned and checked out.  Unfortunately, Dr. Watkins gave me some bad news…

This princess is getting a new crown!  I’ve never had a crown before—actually I’ve never really had any dental work, aside from some cavities filled.  Sadly it’s because of one of those cavities (mostly the really bad job my prior dentist did filling it) that I now need this crown.  Ok, and it might also be that I drank too much soda as a kid…and too much hard liquor as a college student, but there’s nothing I can do to change that now.  The damage has been done, my friends.

I was out of the dentist’s office in about an hour, and since I was already awake—and functioning—I decided I might as well check out the thrift store and see if I could find anything neat.  Today was a bust.  I didn’t find anything super exciting, but I did get a new book to read, a shirt for Piyush, some canning jars, a terra cotta garlic roaster and a cake platter.  Total spent?  Around 10 bucks.

There was a big dresser that matched the one I bought for my entry way, it was obviously from the same set.  I thought it’d make an awesome buffet for our dining room (with a little elbow grease and repurposing), but the price tag said $50.  That’s about 30 dollars too much, in my opinion.  So I passed.

When I got bored of thifting, I grabbed a few groceries and headed home to a sink full of dirty dishes.  At home, I was quickly reminded that it was winter and I needed to put on boots and stop wearing my totally awesome crocs:

click photo to go to the crocs website

Seriously, I never thought I’d be a croc kind of girl…but I love these shoes!  They’re slide ons—so they’re quick.  They’re durable, comfy and rubber (or something like that…I don’t really know what they’re made from, actually).  I hate wet feet, so these do a good job of keeping them dry.   I wore them everyday in India—even when we were climbing the steep hills of Darjeeling (I have really high arches and walk more on the sides of my feet. Even without my custom insoles these shoes give me no pain.)  Basically, I love this shoe.  But sadly, they have no traction…and are terrible on ice!  Lucky for me, I am a very graceful faller.  Like, really graceful.  You should have seen it.  I slipped on the ice, went into a perfect lunge—didn’t even crack my knee on the ground—and slid back up, all in one motion.  It was like some sort of weird ice ballet.  I bet it looked awesome.

After shimmying my way down to the mailbox, trying to avoid the ice…and back up to the house, I decided to make Piyush a nice dinner.  I had some chicken breasts, so I knew that was going to be the base.

I eventually settled on seasoning the chicken breasts with marjoram, making a simple pan sauce and serving it all with mushrooms and roasted purple potatoes.  I was worried he wouldn’t like it.  But it turned out really delicious and he scarfed it down…no complaints.  He even told me the recipe was a “keeper.”  Yay.

Marjoram Chicken Breast with Mushrooms and Roasted Purple Potatoes

The purple potatoes were amazing!  I’ve never had them before so I had to try them out.  They taste really similar to red potatoes…but they’re such a beautiful color!

I cut them in half (or quarters, if they were big), drizzed them with some olive oil, seasoned with salt/pepper, added some chopped rosemary and smashed garlic and then roasted in the oven at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.  Simple.  Easy. Fast.

While they roasted away, I got to work on the chicken.

Marjoram Chicken with Mushrooms and Marsala Pan Sauce

(recipe inspired by Bon Appetit)

  • 4  skinless boneless chicken breast halves
  • 6 teaspoons dried marjoram (use fresh if you have it!), divided
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 10 ounces assorted wild mushrooms (I bought a frozen bag at the co-op…and they were awesome!)
  • 4 shallots, diced
  • 3/4 cup low-salt chicken broth (make your own!)
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 tsp. flour
  • 3 tablespoons dry Marsala
  • Salt/Pepper


Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then 2 teaspoons marjoram (I didn’t really measure—just sprinkled liberally).

Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1/2 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to skillet and sauté until just cooked through. Transfer chicken to plate; tent with foil to keep warm.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter with1/2 tablespoon oil in same skillet. Add mushrooms, shallots, and 2 teaspoons marjoram. Sauté until mushrooms are brown and tender, about 6 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl.

Combine broth, cream, Marsala, rosemary and remaining 2 teaspoons marjoram in same skillet; boil until thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Divide mushrooms among 4 plates. Top mushrooms with chicken. Spoon sauce over and serve.

This meal came in at around 650 calories for my portion (pictured above).  It’s not something I’d eat all that often, because it’s so rich.  But it’s definitely something I’ll make again!  It had a lot of flavors and they all worked extremely well with one another.  The original recipe didn’t call for rosemary but I thought it’d be a good addition…and I was right!

If you’re looking to impress someone (Valentine’s Day is around the corner….I’m just sayin’), this will do it.  This meal is seriously restaurant quality…and I’m not talking “Olive Garden” or “Applebees” kind of restaurants.  This tasted like something I’d expect from a really fancy place.  It was that good!

Now that I have a full belly, Teen Mom is over, and my face has been cleansed…it’s off to bed!  I have a long day tomorrow!


It’s Clemen-time!

You know what I love about winter?  It’s not the snow or the cold (actually, I hate both of those things).  It’s not even the holidays.  Nope.  What I love most about winter is the clementines!

Look at this guy:

One bite…and I was in love.  It didn’t stand a chance.  The only problem?  (aside from the price $$$) I don’t have nearly enough to last the week!  I love clementines and we try to keep them on hand—they’re the perfect snack.  I bought these guys from the co-op, and they rock my world!  They are a million times more scrumptious than the “cutie” ones we usually buy from the grocery store.

I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to shop at our local co-op, The Good Food Store.  You can find practically anything there!  It kind of reminds me of whole foods, actually—it’s just smaller, filled with local produce, and the people are so much more friendly.  All good things!

I had a few items I wanted to pick up including romaine, herbs, beans, salsa and some cheese.  I’ve got bean taco salads and a pasta dish on the menu for this week, and I’m hoping that a little extra planning will really make dinner preparations seem a lot less tedious.

Since I was out and about, I figured I might as well make a quick stop at Goodwill.  Deals wait for no-one, you know! (haha!)

I want to find a tiny desk for our laptop, but had no luck today.  Instead, I did find an amazing, little serving dish for $3 that will be awesome for chutneys or salsas!

How cute is that?!

After I finished up at Goodwill, I stopped in at Michaels to get some knitting supplies.  I’ve always wanted to learn to knit and never really knew how to make that happen.  I thought about taking classes, but with my work schedule it’s not that easy to commit.  I don’t have a set schedule and it’s hard to get certain days off in during the week.  So, I decided I’d buy some needles and yarn and check out youtube.

It's not much...but it's a start.

Aside from knitting, I’m also doing a little “gardening”…I have green onions growing on top of my refrigerator!

I just threw some old roots in a jar…and wham!  I’ve got onions!

Does anyone know if I can grow other herbs this way?  I don’t think they get the greatest sunlight, but they really seem to be thriving!

Now, it’s Greek for dinner (we got some take out from a local restaurant we haven’t tried before), then some mind numbing television (Teen Mom)  before I shower and head to bed!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!!!

Easy, Inexpensive Holiday Wreath

I like pretty things.

I like pretty things even more if they’re inexpensive!  I mean, really?  Who doesn’t love a deal?  With the holidays upon us, I wanted a wreath for our front door.  I didn’t want just a plain evergreen wreath though, I wanted something with some pizazz!

I found a bunch of ideas online…and planned on making a marshmallow holiday wreath.  I went to both Hobby Lobby and Michaels but had no luck finding a wreath form.  Sure, I did find one at Michaels…but they wanted like 11 bucks for a piece of styrofoam.  Call me cheap.  I don’t care.  I’m not spending 11 bucks for a piece of styrofoam.  No way. If I did that, by the time the wreath was done it would end up costing me a fortune…and it would probably just be cheaper to buy a pre-made one in the first place (can you believe the prices of holiday wreaths? INSANE!).  So, feeling a little defeated, I decided to check Goodwill.  I mean, what can’t you find at Goodwill?!

As soon as I walked in the door I promptly headed towards all the fake, plastic flowers.  Hiding behind a bunch of dusty daisies and a straw garland I found a perfect styrofoam wreath form.  It was covered with junk, LOTS of junk…but I saw potential.  I also spotted a giant bag of “holiday” pine cones with some leaves and small flowers added in for good measure.  Since everything holiday was 50% off, I scored the wreath and the pine cones for 5 bucks. Awesome!

I took my finds home and got to work.  I tore all the junk off the wreath and trashed it, it wasn’t worth saving.  Then, I grabbed the hot glue gun and got to gluing!   I covered the whole wreath as good as I could with the pine cones and then stuck a few random twigs and leaves (notice the bay leaves?!)  in just to add a little depth—or something like that!  Once everything was how I liked it, I sprayed it very, very quickly with some white spray paint…to mimic snow!  Which is sort of ironic, actually.  It’s the end of December in Minnesota, and this is what it looks like out our back window:

Snowless December

We have no snow!!! I kind of think we deserve a nice, mild winter though for having to put up with the hellish one last year!

Beginning of November last year

Anyway, back to the wreath, when the spray paint was still wet and sticky I sprinkled it with some epsom salts so that you’d really get the “snow effect”.  Once it was dried, I used some ribbon that we had leftover from decorating our Christmas tree and tied a bow to hang the it on the door.  I added a Christmas ornament that said “Peace.”  I’ve had the ornament since I was in college…so it didn’t cost me a dime at the present.

I thought it needed a little something else though, so I ran to Hobby Lobby quick.  They didn’t have much to choose from…at all!  So I ended up purchasing a little, red, beaded cardinal and some piece of fake evergreen with red glitter on it.  Total cost?  $1.50.

I hung it on the door using a 3M hanger dealy that I already had lounging around my “junk” drawer.

All in all I spent $6.50 out of pocket.  That’s like 1/2 the cost of a new styrofoam wreath!!!  Crazy!  Plus I feel even better about it because I used something that was someone else’s trash—I’m upcycling, baby!  Apparently, upcycling—turning trash into treasure—is all the rage right now.  So not only do I have a new, totally awesome holiday wreath…I’m also incredibly trendy!  That’s right. Trendy!

(I’ve linked this up @ Addicted to Decorating)

From Drab to Fab! Dresser Re-do

I’ve been looking for a dresser to put in our entry way since we purchased our home a year ago.  I wanted something cute but functional, and most importantly, I did not want to spend a crazy amount of money.  Every time I would find the perfect piece, the price tag would leave me stunned.  Seriously?!  $400 dollars for a small dresser…and it’s not even real wood?!  I don’t think so!  That’s when I decided that my budget for the dresser/table would be $25 dollars.  It was going to be a challenge but I didn’t think it was unreasonable.  I started going to garage sales, scouring Craigslist, and frequenting the thrift shops in the area.  Every once in awhile I’d find exactly what I wanted but either it was already sold or it was priced higher than I thought it should be.  Maybe I’m crazy, but most of the time I think people expect too much money for their stuff they’re trying to sell on Craigslist or at garage sales.  Am I cheap?  I don’t think so.  I’m just practical.

I knew exactly what I wanted and I was willing to wait for it (which is very unlike me.  I’m usually very impulsive!).  A couple weeks ago I decided to take a trip to The Salvation Army.  It’s kind of a dirty thrift store that has a ton of furniture…most of it junk.  I made my usual rounds, checking out the dishes and the cookbooks.  Finally I made my way to the furniture and there, surrounded by giant, damaged (but oh so expensive) buffets and broken tv stands, was my dresser!  There was no sold sign on it but I expected that the price tag would read $40.  That’s about how much they usually sell these things for, and I actually would have paid it; but it must have been my lucky day!  It was only $12.  $12!!!  Sold!

Isn't she a beauty?

I was so excited about this find that as soon as I got home I tore the hardware off and started sanding.  I primed everything but was having a hard time deciding what color to paint it.  The photo doesn’t really show, but the top of the dresser is a really nice cream colored laminate.  I knew I wanted to keep this for now (maybe eventually I’ll ask my dad to make me a new wooden top), so I had to find something that would go well with it.  I thought maybe I would paint it white and do maroon accents.  I tried this, but all the curves on the top drawer really started to annoy me.  I ended up spray painting my entire hand maroon by accident.  It was not pretty.  Nothing I had at home would get it off either…not even fingernail polish remover.  So I walked around looking like a freak for a couple days…oh well.

I decided I’d just hand paint the accents and that would work good enough for me.  So I primed back over the maroon.  Then, I thought that maybe the dresser would look nice in a light almond color with pretty metallic hardware.  So I gave it a try.  It was perfect!  Then I took some sandpaper and roughed up parts of the dresser to make it look a little less perfect and give it some character.  I was happy, and so was the dresser.

Who said dressers don't have feelings?

I love how a small hint of the maroon peeks through

I still want to hand paint that little decal on the bottom and legs too.  Then I’ll paint over them with the cream and distress it a little.  Hopefully this will make it look a little more like the top drawer and make it “pop” a little more.  For now though, I’m incredibly happy with my $12 dollar steal.  I probably only have $20 stuck into this thing.

This is how it looks in my entry way (a work in progress). Everything you see in the photo has been repurposed from Goodwill.

Do any of you hunt for deals or enjoy thrifting?  what are some of your favorite finds?

P.S.  Do you see that giant pot behind the dresser in the above photo?  It’s super heavy and still has the plastic on it (I didn’t get to it this summer).  This $130 dollar pot from the local nursery was mine for only $5 at a garage sale!  Some doctor was selling it and I asked, “how much?”  He told me he just bought it but didn’t think he’d really use it so I could have it for $5.  He also gave me a neat looking side table for free too!  It’s in the garage still waiting for it’s makeover.  Sometimes living in Rochester has it’s perks…

Busy as a Bee…errrr…Hornet.

Finally, I had a day off from work today!  I used it wisely too, if I do say so.  I slept in (this felt nice!), Bought new running shoes, did some thrifting, nearly killed myself at the gym, did some laundry and I made a pretty good dinner (although the broccoli had to be sacrificed).

This morning after I woke up and got ready I took a trip to Dick’s Sporting Goods.  They used to have this really awesome shoe insurance program that I took as much advantage of as I could.  Basically you buy a pair of running shoes.  You pay an extra $10-$20 dollars to put the insurance on the shoes.  Once the shoes are worn out, in about 3 months, you call up the insurance company, they send you a label and you send the shoes back to them.  They then send you a gift check to Dick’s for the full purchase price (including tax if there was any).  You can use this towards your next pair of shoes and just pay the premium again—or you can use it towards whatever you want.  Unfortunately they stopped doing this program Jan. 2011.  I still had a gift check left over and I desperately needed a new pair of shoes.  I wear the Asics Glycerin.  I have high arches and roll outwards if I don’t have the correct shoes along with my orthodics and out of all the shoes I’ve tried these seem best.  It seems that every year the new model is different though.  I wanted last years model…and it was on sale!  Only 80 bucks.  That meant that I had almost 60 bucks left over.  I could have been a good wife and I could have given it to my husband to buy some more golf crap, or I could have saved it to use towards my next pair of shoes…but I do either of those things! Nooo, I bought myself a brand new yoga mat!  I’ve been eying this baby up for the past year but couldn’t really justify spending 75 dollars on a yoga mat when the gym provides top quality ones for free, also I don’t really exercise at home. But now that I only had to spend $25, it didn’t seem so bad.  I don’t even know if I could get one at Target for that much?

Anyway, I got the Manduka Prolite in navy blue.  I love these mats.  We have Manduka Pros at the gym—the only difference is mine is just a tiny bit thinner.  I hope it inspires me to attend yoga more often.  I feel so good when I practice, so I don’t know why I don’t do it more often.  I think its because I’m lazy.  Actually, I’m pretty sure its because I’m lazy.  I’ll have to work on that…

Wow, its getting late and I work at 5:45 tomorrow morning, so I’m going to make the rest of this short and sweet.


$12 This is perfect for my entry way!!! Now, What color to paint it?!

I was so excited about this dresser that I promptly tore off the handles and started sanding her down before I realized I should take a photo.  I have high hopes for this makeover!  I also got a neat shaped wilton bundt pan ($4).  I didn’t have a bundt pan and thought maybe I should.  I also got a baguette pan ($2) and some giant blue mason jars ($2 ea.).  No photos of that stuff though—they’re in the dishwasher!

While I was sanding down the dresser I spotted something weird going on inside of our outside light.  Ha! That sounds weird.  Anyway, I got a little closer to see what it was and this is what I saw:

It freaked me out!  I know it shouldn’t because its just doing its normal thing for survival, but my husband swells up so big from hornet/bee bites that we just can’t have something like that around such a high traffic area.  I feel really terrible, but I went to Menards and got some spray to take care of it.  Is that normal to feel so bad?  I don’t know, but I do.

Then I went to the gym for a cable class…it was HARD!  I haven’t been getting to the gym much this summer and this work out really proved it!  I can’t believe how out of shape I’ve gotten in such a short time.  Paula, the instructor, told me that I’ll get back in the groove really quick because of muscle memory.  I hope so!

After Piyush and I got home from the gym he put the chicken that I had been marinating on the grill while I took a shower.  When we’re really busy and know we won’t have a lot of time, we love to grill out.  I get it prepared in the morning and then it’s ready to cook by the time our day has settled down.  I bought an Amish raised chicken (these are amazing! Not too fatty and they have amazing flavor) and I sprayed it with olive oil.  I shoved an onion and some garlic in the cavity and then salted with pink Himalayan sea salt.  I ground pepper all over it and then sprinkled Herbes de Provence all over it too.  There’s something about lavender.  I’m obsessed.

Anyway, we stood it up on a can of 7up and roasted it in the grill at 35o degrees.  I think my husband takes it out when the temp of the bird is around 165 degrees. Its the tastiest, juiciest bird you’ll ever eat!

Just off the grill! I tied the legs to make it look a little more modest for the photo.

While Piyush was tending to the poultry, I was making some mushroom and thyme couscous.  This stuff turned out awesome!  I didn’t really write down the recipe, but I used something like:

  • 2c. homemade chicken stock
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • pinch saffron
  • 1.5 c. couscous
  • a big package of mushrooms that were on their last life
  • fresh garlic
  • a little olive oil for cooking the mushrooms

I threw the mushrooms in a pan and sauted them in a little olive oil.  Once they cooked down a little I threw in the garlic and salted/peppered everything.  I added the thyme and let it mingle a little while.  I turned the heat off and set them aside.  Then I boiled the chicken stock and added the saffron to let it steep.  Meanwhile I put the couscous and the mushrooms in a big plastic bowl and mixed them together.   Once the broth got hot enough, I dumped it on the couscous and covered everything with plastic wrap.  It was done perfectly in less than 5 minutes!

I was going to steam broccoli too, but the stuff that we got from the farmers market had little green wormy things and I couldn’t rinse them all off.  It grossed me out, so it went into compost.

Believe me, It tasted better than it looked!!!

Goodnight now!!!