Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Mission: Free & Cheap Projects

All of the new home owners/new renters out there, can you relate to our current predicament?

You just shelled out a good chunk of your life savings on your down payment/rental deposit. You move into your beautiful new place and want to outfit it to look like - face it - everything you've been pinning since you knew the place would be yours! You don't notice at first, but after a good four months it hits. You're balancing your budget and you start to wonder "what have we done?" Your poor credit card has gotten a work out.

In the spirit of blogging about real stuff, ugly or pretty, let's all get ourselves in check, know that those homes on Pinterest weren't built in a day, and get on the free/cheap project band wagon.

This Dream Home = Years of Hard Work

Here is the plan: make a list of every free/cheap project you can get done in your home. Projects you've purchased materials for that have sat unfinished are allowed as long as your either not spending anything, or only your predetermined "cheap budget" to finish it. Our predetermined "cheap budget" is about $40 for the month. After you've made said list, Git-er-done!

18 Preston's Free & Cheap Projects
  • Update Dining Room Gallery Art - DONE
  • Paint guest bedroom (paint left over from old apartment)
  • Install front door bell (parts purchased in January)
  • Install new house numbers and update mailbox (purchased new numbers in January, $6 for spray paint) - DONE
  • Paint canoe in porch (spent $4 on paint pot sample to use)
  • Make craft room curtains (fabric purchased in February)
  • Finish mud room (have wood and paint) - DONE
  • Use old Groupon to order a gallery frame!
  • Select photos for wedding album (yes, still not done, 3 year anniversary is in August)
I'm sure we'll be adding to this list while we get our new home spending problem under control and maybe even start building up that nest egg again. Saving money takes time and perseverance. Will you join our free/cheap project mission?

18 Preston Free & Cheap Projects

You're welcome to link up your lists or completed projects below. Grab a button and follow along.

Monday, June 25, 2012

June Garden Progress

We have the New England weather to thank for the success in the garden so far this summer. Don't want to speak too soon, but the abundance of sunshine along with just above average rain fall, and we really haven't had to do much to keep it going. We weed about once a week and water on days without rain.

We've harvested arugula, radishes, and scallions so far. We have summer squash and zucchini growing well, and the tomatoes are just staring to turn red. I found some great tomato pruning tips here:

Meg's already thinking about what to plant for fall crops, but lets eat the fruits of our labor first. We added our first ripe radish to this grilled Caesar salad.

Doesn't that just make you want to come over for dinner? Photo by Meg.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

What we've been Grilling!

Meg got a webber for her birthday last year and continues to work on becoming "queen of the grill." Yes, I'm writing in the third person and made that up for myself. Has anyone seen a grilling apron that says that? I think I need that, and a smoke mask.


Currently my new favorite technique is the grilled Caesar salad. Check out this food network recipe. The only thing I changed was leaving the romain whole so just the outside is charred. I like the mix of some charred and some fresh from the inside. And we will be making lots of kabobs thanks to my new birthday present.


Cashier at Sur La Table "these are for your wife?"

Matt "yeah, last year I got her a blue webber for her birthday"

Cashier "she does the grilling?"

Matt "yeah, it's pretty awesome"

Matt grils too though!



Just Four Ingrediants

Fact about Meg & Matt at 18 Preston: we like our beer.

We enjoy brewery tours, beer centered vacations, beer events, local brew pubs, beer tastings, and making our own. Yes, we're home brewers and proud of it. Our hobby of beer brewing has evolved over time from bottles exploding in the bathtub to kegging our own. We like to think we've come full circle. We're still not brewing often though, only one batch so far at the new house.

Back to the title of this post. Beer has four ingredients and were growing one of them. If you used to follow along at Miss Meghan Elizabeth you may remember the very tragic end to our hops growing last year. We did so well until we transplanted outside and then it was a hop funeral. This year we tried a different approach and so far so good. We started the rhizomes right outside in a mini planting bed. They aren't situated to get full sun which is preferred, But the look healthy. The only effect we notice is that they aren't growing as fast as they could. You can almost watch hopes grow at 1 to 4 inches day.

A hop rhizome

We'll keep you updated on the progress and plans for a hop harvesting party in the fall. These flowers probably won't be mature enough to actually use them in a batch of beer this year but they will be prepped and ready to be bigger and better when they come back up next year.

We're not expert hop growers yet, but so far we can recommend starting outside! After last frost in New England. And be patient.

And beer trivia, do you know the other three ingredients in beer?