I Like Ike(a)

It's been a while since I took a trip to Ikea. I don't go there for the furniture, since a lot of their furniture look cool but are rather flimsy (such as the cool glass-top oval conference/dinner table that got marked down to $19 from $129). I go for the little accents and accessories. When things go on sale, there are really good deals.

This time I went there for some fabric goods. My roommate scored a futon for our apartment (my hat's off to her diligence and amazing bargain-hunting skills), so we each went off to find a good cover for it. In the end, she took care of it, but it was still fun for me to look around.

Right now Ikea is clearing out the last of their inventory from the last catalog year, which is why some furniture is being sold at largely marked down prices. I went about closing time yesterday, not knowing that it closes early on Sundays, and the good stuff were all gone. This morning, whatever was left (including the aforementioned glass table) was piled in the as-is section. I was pretty disappointed at the left overs, but I was quite happy when I went to the fabric section. There were some great fabrics for a dollar a yard. I picked up 2 yards of some canvas-like fabric--one in burnt orange and one in navy blue--thinking that they'd be great for a particular project.

Now I'm thinking I should go back and get a few more yards to make some cushion covers. It'll be another interesting project, and of course, you'll get to see it if I go through with it.

On a final note--my brain appears to be misplaced. For the last couple of days, I seem to get confused easily. Today I couldn't remember where I parked in the Ikea parking lot. Clearly, I'm not quite recovered from the bar yet.


Cooking up some modern decor

I'm baaaaack! When I haven't been blogging for two weeks straight, you know things were bad. Heck, I even blogged during final exams when I said I was "on hiatus." This break was for real. I think I have good shot at passing, but there are no guarantees in life, so I'll keep my fingers crossed until November 16.

I've been in the process of revamping the look and feel of my online store. If you've peeked at it once in a while, you'll notice that my erstwhile plain white background has turned into black. I love the black leather look, but some things just look better on a white surface. Unfortunately, such a stark contrast makes the shop look like it has a split personality. I've been looking for a good surface that bridges the gap. Now that I have a little bit of free time, I have to look for it.

I want to maintain an ultra-modern/minimalist look, which is why I went straight for the kitchenware section of Big Lots yesterday.


The bar exam did leave my brain confused and frizzled, but I haven't gone off the deep end because of it. Believe it or not, the houseware section of stores such as Big Lots or Ikea is the perfect place to find modern decor, especially if you're into the stainless steel look. Things you find in that section can be used on various parts of the house, not just the kitchen. I've seen a cool breadbox in Ikea that looks like a roll-top desk. The breadbox could have been used as storage on the desk to hide away random clutter. Metal tumblers can be used as pencil holders. I even found a cool perforated breadstick tray that looks like it can go onto a wall. I didn't buy it yesterday, but maybe I should go back for it. It looks really cool.

The reason why I didn't buy the breadstick tray was this:

This is a cookie sheet and cooling rack set--the original Big Lots price was $12. When I found it, it was marked down to $6. Score! Even the cashier found it remarkable and told her co-worker that it's a good price. I was trying to decide between this and the breadstick tray, and since I get a little extra for just $2 more, I decided to give it a shot. If the cookie sheet doesn't work well as a backdrop, I'll just use it for its original intended purpose. Plus I've always wanted a cooling rack, and now I have one.

The large cookie sheet actually costs less than the price of an aluminum sheet from the hardware store, and the hardware store variety is smaller. That's why I turn to the kitenware section for bright and shiny things.

Moral of the story? Thank outside of the breadbox. Like waaay outside.


Budget Gourmet: Pesto

Yes, I'm still alive, but barely. The bell for the last 2 laps have rung, and I'm running at a furious pace toward the finish line. In other words, the bar exam is in 2 weeks, and I have serious doubts about passing. Well, basically everyone does.

I want to thank you all for your kind words of support. I am definitely trying the hardest I can to hang on and beat this. To all my friends who are reading this, thanks for looking out for me and taking care of me. I wouldn't be able to survive all these crazy mishaps which, of course, have to occur at an inopportune time if not for your help.

Without further interruptions, here's my last post before I'll post again in a few weeks.

Two weeks ago I really, really craved pesto. I had a pesto pasta at a family dinner several weeks ago, and that led me to seriously carry out something I've been wanting to do for a long, long time--make my own. I figured it's better to do that than to spend money and buy some.

Before I got started, I did some homework. There are a lot of different recipes, but the common ingredients are basil, garlic, pinenuts, and olive oil. I also talked to a classmate who made it before, and I was told that it's rather time consuming. That got me a little bit scared, since I didn't want to lose too much studying time over this. But gluttony got the better of me, and I went ahead and did it.

The biggest hurdle is the technology. I don't have a blender or food processor. I didn't even have a mortar and pestle. That meant I had to do some creative, laborious manual work. I started by washing the basil and plucking off a lot of leaves, then finely chopped them. That was by far the most time-consuming step, but I try to maximize the efficiency with the knifework. Each time I push the knife forward, it makes a cut, and each time I pull it back, it makes a cut. It did more work than if I cut and then lift the knife up. Then I chopped up garlic, which was easy to do.

The fun part was crushing the pinenuts. It was by far the most expensive ingredient (I got a small 9 oz. reseable container's worth for $8), so I didn't want to screw up. As it turns out, I didn't need a whole lot. I put some into a ziploc bag, push out all the air before sealing it, then wrap aluminum foil around it. After that, I wrapped aluminum foil around a hammer so that it doesn't "contaminate" the pinenuts should it go all the way through. Fortunately, the pinenuts were quickly and finely crushed without incident. [Ed.: I forgot to mention that someone suggested a brilliant idea--use a rolling pin instead of a hammer.]

I mixed the basil and garlic in a bowl with enough olive oil to cover the surface, then I added in the pinenuts and a little more oil. I then mixed and crushed at the same time. It smelled fresh and tasted grrrrreat. For about $3 and an hour of my time, I made enough pesto to last for several meals. For the first night, I served it over pesto, then I saved the rest in a jar. On the next day, I made a sandwich out of it. After a few days, it started to lose the freshness, so I decided to put the pesto in a saucepan to saute the garlic and mixed in some spaghetti sauce from a bottle. That was really, really good. On the same vein, someone recommended freezing cubes of it in an ice cube tray, which preserves the freshness; it's easier to pop out a cube for a meal as necessary.

Here are some pictures of the creative process, including my stained fingers. Basil does leave a dark green mess. Unfortunately, no hammer pictures--I forgot to document the process until I was done:

Well, it's back to memorizing easements and equitable servitudes, and then switch gears to my Achilles' Heel--the distinction between federal and California evidence rules. I'll post again when all this madness is over.

See you on the other side!


The more sensible purchase

Here's the Nolita top I bought along with the red tee from yesterday. This one is definitely cute. Not bad for $5, right? Somehow I see it as part of a tennis outfit, even though it's not something I play regularly--not even close. I love the contrast stitching and the color combination--blue, yellow, and white.

Until I have time to work out again, I'll make a casual outfit out of it. It's funny--cute clothes actually make me want to take up a friend's invitation to play tennis. Or just to work out. What shallow motivations. ;-)

Have a happy and safe 4th of July!


The occasional impulse shopper

Hello again, folks! I'm still here, still alive, though barely. It is now July, which means it's nervous time for me. The big bar extravaganza is just 3 weeks away.

I usually don't buy on impulse, but last Friday the inner impulse shopper reared its head.

It's been a while since I've hit sample sales. On Friday I actually needed a very particular set of items, and I knew where to find them. That particular showroom was usually open for just about every sample sale I went to, so I figured my odds are pretty good. But of course, it was not to be on this trip.

Now what do I do? I was already there, so I may as well look around.

That's a dangerous train of thought, which is why I left most my cash at home. Sure, I can indulge in a few cheapies, but it's easy to go overboard. Limiting the amount of cash I carry is the best line of defense.

I ended up getting 2 things--this t-shirt and a workout top. The t-shirt is totally an impulse buy. I thought it was really cute on sight, and it was $5, so why not? I had a change of heart when I got home, but I like it again when I wore it today:

It's a quirky little t-shirt, not something I can find very easily. Wearing it today reminds me that one of my favorite tees (in the same kind of red) has gone MIA. I have to track it down.

It's been really hot around here. I think I'll wear my workout top tomorrow--I doubt that anyone will be around at school, so I can wear whatever I want. That one is actually a sensible buy--I don't have very many workout tops, just some ratty old t-shirts. Also $5. Can't beat that.

I also came across some really cute leather shoes for $20, which is a really good price. Good thing my wallet was just a few dollars shy--do I really need another pair of shoes? The answer is no. I ended up putting that money to good use by buying some jewelry findings. Now that's a good investment.