Monthly Archives: March 2011

So you think you’re funny, Ryan?

One evening I came home from a busy day at a conference, and logged into the blog, only to find over a dozen blog comments from Ryan.  He must’ve had a slow day at the office or something.

I also discovered some fun comments from others, as well, so here’s a little overview of the nuggets.

In response to “Ironing is Fun Again”  – in which I dish the dirt on my new ironing board cover – he wrote:

I was so surprised that this worked that I wrapped the vacuum and dishes in fabric so that doing them becomes fun again.  See? I’m always looking for ways to make you happy!

I’m going to need a few more yards (of cloth!) for the lawnmower too.

As for “Rental-Friendly Temporary Wallpaper {Let’s Take a Risk}” – aka the day I spent 6 hours reorganizing and decorating a coat closet (yeah, fo’ real).  What did Ryan have to say?  Well, when he read this: “This is by far the biggest decorating risk I’ve taken so far, and I can’t guarantee that it works in the long run. But you don’t know if you don’t try, right?”

I’m glad you’re venturing so far out there in the world of hallway closet decorating. I certainly hope you don’t get blacklisted by the Hallway Closet Home Decor cartel for your edgy space-saving techniques.

Just so you all know, I wanted to start a hallway closet firepit for my National Take A Risk Day link party, but SOMEONE thought it was a little too risky. No sense of adventure! I guess no one gets hallway closet s’mores now.

As for “Vintage Kitchen Additions” – I shared pics of our two new sets of vintage dishes which my brother found in his new house.  In regards to the fact that some were still in their original packaging, reader Rebecca had this interesting point:

I am totally cracking up. Because we ALL have friends who are dy-ing for something new for their home, buy it with no discussion with the other half-owner of the family budget, and then bring it home and stash it until they work up the courage to tell The Hubs (or the wife, in the case of fishing rods and electronic gadgets). I’ve seen friends do this with towels, plates, bedding, throw pillows. I can just picture the 1950’s/1960’s housewife charging this on her store account “way back when” and storing it, unused, never getting the courage to tell what she’d done.

I can totally picture this.  How hilarious is it to think of housewives 50 years ago doing the same thing we do today?  Right on, Rebecca!

In response to “Mistake Turned Great: Kitchen Update” – Ryan registers a complaint about the rug:

Just so you know, you can use these rugs for booby traps too. Apparently you can sprinkle rice, beans, caltrops… all over the thing and the first person to walk barefoot over it won’t notice them until they feel the stabs of pain shoot through their feet.

Oops.  Sorry, Ryan.  I told the dogs to eat the stray grains of rice and beans!  Clearly they didn’t listen to me.

And last but not least, in response to “Stories Rooms Tell” – in which I share a peek at “my” room at my parents’ house,here’s what Ryan had to say when I wrote:  “As a matter of fact, I often sleep better there than in my own home.”

That’s because of our cats. You don’t believe me but they use your head as a trampoline in the middle of the night.

Good point.  Am I the only one whose animals act as though they’re auditioning for a clown act?  Do you even know what Ryan has caught our male cat doing in  the middle of the night?  Maybe you don’t want to.

I think it’s time for Ryan to write What the Hell: Animal Edition.

Gourmet Dinners: Not Home-Made, but Faux-Made

Gourmet flavors on a not-so-gourmet budget. That’s what tickles our tastebuds here at the Borrowed Abode.

Ryan and I both love the pre-made Indian meals that come in cardboard boxes.  But yowza, we don’t love the prices.  At $3.50 a box, it would cost $7 or more to feed us one dinner, especially now that we’re avoiding carbs like rice most of the time.

Tuesday I experimented with using the prepackaged meal as a base, and building upon it with some other ingredients.  Guess what?  It worked!  Ryan and I enjoyed a tasty Indian meal, chock full of fresh veggies and lean proteins, for about $4 per person.  What was on the menu?  Chicken vegetable Biryani and Palak Paneer.

The two dishes cost about $19 to create, but provided two dinners for us each, as well as lunch for me.  That’s a total of $3. 80 per person, per meal. The best part?  It took me less than 30 minutes to prepare this fabulosity.

Here’s how I did it:

Jane’s Home Faux-Made Palak Paneer


  • 2 boxes Palak Paneer
  • 1 pound fresh spinach
  • 1 cup re-hydrated chick peas


1.  Chop 1 pound fresh spinach into smaller pieces.

2.  Dump pre-made Palak Paneer into a large pot.

3.  Add the chick peas and fresh chopped spinach.

4.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the fresh spinach has wilted.

Jane’s Semi-HomeMade Chicken Veggie Biryani


  • 1/2 jar Patak’s Biryani Curry Paste
  • 1 pound chicken, chopped into small chunks (I buy free-range, pastured, local chicken.  You could substitute Tofu.)
  • 1 small can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 cup re-hydrated chick peas
  • Fresh string beans, chopped


1.  Dice the onion.

2.  Sautee the onion in olive oil over medium heat.

3.  Add the chicken and sear on med-high heat for 1-2 minutes.

4.  Add the can of tomatoes, including juice.

5.  When mixture is simmering, add 1/2 can of Patak’s Biryani Curry Paste.  Stir until dissolved in the mixture.

6.  Add fresh string beans and chick peas. Stir to mix.

7.  Simmer for 15 or so minutes.  You can’t really simmer it too long.

Random tips:

I don’t follow recipes when I make these sorts of things.  Me and recipes, well we just don’t seem to get along.  With the above Indian pastes, you can pretty much mix them with anything, in my opinion.  Take whatever leftover veggies and proteins you have in your fridge.

We like chick peas because they absorb so many flavors well, and because they’re cheaper than meat.

Speaking of chick peas, we buy them (and other beans) dried at Whole Foods, and then rehydrate them by leaving them in water in a slow cooker on low for about 12-14 hours. Then we  drain them and portion them into jars or ziploc bags and freeze them until they’re needed. It’s much cheaper and healthier than buying canned beans.   Have you seen the sodium count in canned beans??? Ick.

Well that’s it for me.  Have you made any good kitchen experiments lately?  What’s your fave way to get gourmet flavor on a not-so-gourmet budget?

**Psst:  I’m linking this up to the What I Ate Wednesday party hosted by the Ab-Fab Jenn of Peas and Crayons.

***UPDATE:  I totally forgot that Jenn did this a few weeks ago with Chana Masala – check it out!!!

{Re}Fashion: 4 Awesome Projects

Reason #123,202  that I love blogging: You ladies sure are a crafty, stylish bunch, and always provide such great inspiration!

Several of my fave bloggers shared beautiful refashion / sewn-from-scratch fashion posts today and I wanted to share them with you:

  • Mikalah turned a questionable, vintage wedding dress into a gorgeous, swanky, cocktail dress.
  • Katie sewed a fun top that’s perfect for layering in spring, summer, and fall – and she made it from scratch!
  • Dana shared the most ingenious refashioned vintage wedding dress idea ever.  It’s a two-in-one convertible dress.  Awesome.
  • Also, Sunny is preparing to host her first What the !@#!@# Are You Wearing Wednesday link party.  I love her sense of humor and can’t wait to join in!

That’s all I have to say for now, because Sunday I was hit with a sinus thingy/cold that has zapped my energy.  Fortunately now I think I’m on the upswing.

Oh, and on another note – if you’ve got any interest in social media / marketing, be sure to check out this talk by Scott Stratten of Unmarketing.  It’s similar to the speech he gave at Blissdom, but it’s so much more fun to watch him than to read my notes on the talk.

Clean and Steamy.

Wahoo!  Look what we got!  This should foil Merlin’s attempts to muddy our carpets from here on out.

Am I the only one whose dog feels the need to kick the ground, driving the mud deep between his toes, after peeing and prior to re-entering a carpeted home?  It sure does a number – not only on the carpets – but on the grass we attempt to grow in our yard. Le sigh.