Bountiful Baskets

Anyone who tries to eat healthy knows the frustration of having to pay more for fresh, good-for-you food. Therefore, I'm always super excited when I find ways to cut costs and still eat healthy. Enter Bountiful Baskets. Phil and I joined the co-op last fall and have been loving it ever since. Here's how it works:

1. Go to BountifulBaskets.org between noon on Tuesday and 10PM on Wednesday.

2. Create and account, return to the homepage, and select your state (currently serving Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Washington and Wyoming).

3. Select your pick-up location. These are usually in public parks.

4. Add a basket to your cart for $15.00. Each basket contains about 50% fruit and 50% vegetables. You won't know what you're getting till you pick it up, so you have to be pretty open. But all produce is high quality, fresh, in-season, and typically from local farmers.

5. Select any additional items you would like to add to your basket. These vary every week, but can include case fruit, bread, Italian pack, Mexican pack, tortillas, olive oil, granola, cookies, etc. All fresh with no preservatives. Prices vary, typically between $6 and $10.

6. Check out and pay for your basket by credit or debit card. $1.50 service charge will be added to each order. $3.00 will be added to your first order to join the co-op.

7. Pick up your basket at your selected location on Saturday morning. Be sure to check your specific pick-up time and arrive within 20 minutes of that time. All produce not picked up within the 20 minute window is donated to a local firehouse. Bring a laundry basket or bags to carry your produce home, as no containers are provided.

Here is sample of what we received in our basket the first week:


My friend Steph priced out all items at the grocery store last week and determined our $15 basket contained $35 of produce! Depending on each weeks offerings, I would estimate the baskets to be worth anywhere from $30 to $50. Now that's some real savings for eating healthy!

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Sneek Peak

Sorry for the lack of blog posts this week. We've been busy with our latest project. Here's a little sneak peek...


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Brew Shopping

After discussing with Greg, we have our three man team ready to start the hobby of home brewing! We had done some preliminary homework, reviewing various blogs and instructional website, but it was no had substitute for someone showing us what we needed, and more importantly, what amount of investment were where looking at having to spend.

Fortunately, Evan stated that he obtained this exact education from a vibrant gentleman, Norm, who was a retired Methodist Pastor. It was safe to say that we felt Norm would be our guy too! We contacted Evan, who happened to have the business card for What Ale’s Ya, one of the few home brewing supply shops in the Valley. This is where he obtained his own starter kit.


Before we spent a good amount of time going to hear a detailed presentation form Norm, we did enough research to find an estimation of what our new hobby might cost. Evan had explained that each “batch” of beer made about 50 beers. He stated that outside of the costs to buy the equipment, each “batch” costs about $40. Simple math told us that each beer was under a buck!

So what about the materials needed to make even one batch?  We discovered that a simple starter kit, one that contains all needed materials for brew making, retails for about $150. Not too bad when split between three guys! And that included enough for a first batch of brewing.

We determined that a batch is usually about 5 gallons. Mathematically worked out, that is 128 oz per gallon, so about 640 total ounces. Divided by 12 ounces per beer, that’s 53 beers.

We set out to meet with Norm on a Saturday morning. Upon arrival, we met a passionate silver haired man who had a personality larger than his smile. Norm’s love for people no doubt comes from years of pastoral service. He was immediate in qualifying how and what we needed, and jumped into a detailed description of home brewing, lacking no humor in delivering his information. His passion for home brewing was absolutely fantastic.

Following Norm’s details, ranging from the equipment involved all the way to the difference between Ale’s and Lager’s (which, by the way, ALL beers fall into ONLY one of these two categories), we were finally led to the beer starter kit with a deeper understanding of the steps involved in the process of brewing beer at home.


We have made an appointment to attempt our first batch this Friday. As a group, we choose “English Brown Ale”, which is simply a knock of Newcastle. You’ll see the kit was about $35 dollars. The label marks an “O.G.” rating of 1.045 – 1.049. “O.G.” is actually Original Gravity. To better understand O.G. and it’s importance, go here: http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/question532.htm 

Basically, the O.G. relates to the overall alcohol content when the beer is brewed. The English Brown Ale will be about 4% alcohol when brewed. The kits that we were able to choose from were all made by www.brewersbestkits.com, and they seem to be the popular option for home brewing, each averaging between $30 – 40 dollars and producing 5 gallons of beer each.

So, I will leave you until my next post, where we will review our attempts at completing the first steps of the brewing process! CHEERS!

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Sky High Energy

Another website I designed went live last week. This time for Sky High Energy, specializing in solar electric power systems for residential, commercial and community applications, with offices in Arizona and New Jersey. Check it out here.

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Stuffed Peppers

A few weeks ago, Phil and I cooked dinner with some of our good friends. We decided to make stuffed peppers. If you've ever been to our house for dinner, you know that we put peppers in pretty much EVERY dish we make, but I surprisingly had never had a stuffed pepper. Luckily, our friend Karen had a great recipe she shared with us. We have made them a few times since then and have altered the original recipe a bit to our liking.  I have a feeling this is going to become a popular dish at the Ellerbroek household!

 

First, a little pepper education: All peppers grow on the same vine. The longer they're on the vine, the sweeter they are, which is also what gives them their different colors.  The green ones are most bitter, yellow is mild in flavor, orange is in the middle and red is very sweet.

4 Peppers
1 lb. Ground Turkey (or Ground Beef or Bison)
Breakfast Sausage (optional)
Onion
Garlic
Carrots
Mushrooms
Additional Pepper of Different Color
Seasoning - Salt, Pepper, Oregano, Garlic Salt, etc.
1 cup Brown Rice
8 oz. Tomato Sauce
1 Egg
1 cup Ricotta Cheese
1/2 cup Cottage Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese
 
Preheat oven to 350.
 
Brown the ground turkey. If you choose to, brown two breakfast sausage rounds and mix in with the meat.  

Chop the tops off of the peppers and gut them. Rinse out so the seeds and membrane are gone. Replace tops. Wrap peppers in aluminum foil and place in a baking pan. Place in oven for 15 minutes. Set aside.
 
In a skillet saute onions, garlic, diced carrots, mushrooms, and pepper in butter. Add meat mixture. Season with salt/pepper/oregeno/garlic salt.  

Cook brown rice.

Once the rice is done, mix in a bowl with tomato sauce, egg, ricotta cheese and cottage cheese. Add cooked meat to this mixture and stir up.
 
Stuff peppers with your meat mixture and replace tops. Wrap in aluminum foil and place in baking pan standing up. Bake for 15 minutes.
 
Remove from oven. If you desire, remove pepper top, add a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese on top of the meat mixture. Place in oven with pepper tops and broil for 5 minutes.
 
Remove from oven and top the peppers with the pepper tops to make them look pretty :)

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What’s Brewing?

In attempts to contribute to my wonderful wife Laura’s blog, I wanted to find something to write about that nearly every guy would be interested in reading. And so, you can understand why I chose beer.

But not just writing about beer, but rather the process of home brewing beer. The concept came about during a dinner party we were attending. Midway through the party, with the wine wearing thin, our host Evan invited a few of the guys to try his home brewed creamy dark Stout beer. As has passed around the brown bottles, we all commented on how cool the custom bottle labels and caps looked.

We were almost hooked…..

“How does it taste?” I asked. That question was quickly answered as Evan popped the top of a 22 oz bottle. The smooth pour of the beer was an invitation in and of itself. Lifting the glass for a drink, I inhaled the smell of the natural, homemade beer. I made a mental note of how distinguished the aroma was, which surprised me. The taste did not disappoint.

Evan smiled and offered to show us his inexpensive home brewing starter kit which has was sharing with his friend. He shared with us that the average cost of each beer was less than a dollar. Ok, so maybe now we were hooked.

My tasting wingman, Alan, was more excited than when he talks about sports, so I knew he was digging this relatively unknown concept of home brewing. He had a large grin on his face, and kept saying “This is REALLY good!!!!”. When he ended then night suggesting that we try our own hand at making beer, I thought to myself that it would be a fun thing to do. Alan suggested that a mutual friend, Greg, would also be interested, and that we might be able to share the costs between the three of us.

And here I write today! I will be looking to make additional posts as we step into this new hobby. I hope you will read!

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Pieces

After reading this article about Lee's new condo in Atlanta, I checked out her home d├ęcor bo­­utique, Pieces Inc. I am in LOVE! She has some absolutely gorgeous vintage furniture and chic accessories. Here are some of my favorites:


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Permanent Makeup

Last week, the website I designed for Sally Hayes Permanent Makeup went live! Check out the new site here:

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Bridal Showers

Since I really haven't posted at all in the past year, I've decided to go back and recap some of the big events that have happened in our lives. Prior to our wedding, I had two amazing bridal showers thrown for me. The first was in Arizona, hosted by my good friend Stephanie and my aunt Shelly. The theme was "Something Blue" and included Tiffany boxes, giant diamond rings, and lots of blue - check out those blue martinis! The whole evening was absolutely beautiful...


The second shower was in South Dakota and was hosted by my sister Kelli and my sister-in-law Beth. We played lots of fun games, including dividing into three teams, each decorating a wedding cake! Each team got a two round cakes, four cupcakes, frosting, and a bunch of decorations. They could also use anything they could find in the room. I was so impressed with their creations and had a tough time choosing a winner!

 

Thanks to all these ladies for throwing me two amazing bridal showers. I had so much fun and felt so loved by all my family and friends. Thank you all for celebrating with me!
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Curb Appeal

When Philip first toured our current house, which was listed as a foreclosure, he emailed me this photo of it, and I was head over heals in love! It was the yellow stucco, clay-tile roofed house I had always dreamed of living in!


The problem was, when I went to see the house, it looked more like this. Not the curb appeal I had been expecting.


These photos don't fully show just how overgrown it was, as these were taken for the previous house listing before the house sat empty and unmaintained for nine months. It was so overgrown, you couldn't see the gorgeous detail of the house that I first fell in love with. As much as I love huge old trees, because they remind me of the green, tree-lined streets I grew up on in the mid-west, we decided this olive tree had to go. So our first project was to cut down the olive tree. We also moved the lemon tree that was blocking the front window to the side of the house, and replaced it with a palm. We cut down the oleanders on the sides of the front window and replaced with them with airier Mexican bird of paradise shrubs (which unfortunately aren't in bloom right now). We planted a few more flowering shrubs around the palm, filled the bowl in front of the window with an assortment of cactus (Phil's favorite!), and planted some flowering vines on the right side of the house. And we had about 10 tons of granite poured in the front yard, took down the driveway gates and added accent lighting. So, after a few days of hard labor, and the help of my amazing inlaws, we can now see the beautiful house we fell in love with:

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Cake Pedestals

After my post about the mobile cupcakery, my friend Steph offered to pick up some cake pedestals from Costco for me. Here they are...





How adorable are those!?! And the best part... They're only $20 for the pair! Now I just need to find a fantastic cake recipe so I have something to put on them!

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About This Blog

Two newlywed's adventures in home renovations, traveling and experiencing life together.

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