Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Buffalo Tempeh Chili

Finally, we're back at it in the kitchen, working on some delicious recipes! Moving into our new home has of course been busy, but to be honest, we've been settled for a little while and there is only so much take out one can eat (as in I can eat SO much take-out.) But seriously, it feels good to work a bit in the kitchen on some delicious and hearty recipes. This one was a bit of a cheat though. The very first recipe we ever shared back in 2013 was Buffalo Turkey Chili. A lot has changed since then (like we don't eat meat anymore, and we don't use my iPhone 4 to photograph food for the blog, thank goodness) so it was high time to give it another go.

This recipe is pretty straight forward, but it is oh so delicious! I'm a huge fan of anything buffalo flavored, and the tempeh really steps up as a fantastic meat sub for this dish.

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Buffalo Tempeh Chili
This hearty Buffalo Tempeh Chili is perfectly spicy, full of flavor, and all vegan.
  • 1/2 lb. (1 package) Original Flavor Tempeh
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion
  • 1 Cup Diced Baby Carrots
  • 15 oz. Petite Diced Tomatoes
  • 15 oz. Tomato Sauce
  • 1.5 cups Buffalo Sauce
  • 15 oz. Red Kidney Beans
  • 2-3 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tbsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tbsp. Paprika
  • 1.5 tsp. Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt and Pepper
1. Cut your tempeh into small cubes (about 1/2-1 inch).2. In a medium skillet, heat a few tablespoons olive oil and add the tempeh. Fry until golden brown on all sides, adding salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.3. In a large pot, heat olive oil and add your peppers, onions, and carrots. Saute until the onions are translucent and the veggies begin to soften.4. Add the tempeh and kidney beans (drained.) Saute together for 5 minutes.5. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (do not drain), buffalo sauce, and seasonings.6. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.Serve this with some corn tortilla chips for a perfectly crunchy spoonful, or top it with some delicious blue or cheddar cheese!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 servings

I love this chili. There is just something about the buffalo flavors and eating a bowl of something warm that make me long for fall weather. It's soon, and I cannot wait!

Sarah & Nick

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Orange Chair Makeovers

If you've been following the blog or my Instagram for a couple of years, you may remember these orange chairs we took from the abandoned house next door, that just so happened to be owned by our former landlord (yes, you read all of that correctly.)

In a nutshell, our landlord was cleaning out the house next door to sell it. I saw these chairs that had been sitting in a dusty, dirty, abandoned house for 20+ years and said "MINE, ALL MINE!" We loved the midcentury design and were willing to look past the bad shape they were in, in hopes that we could revitalize them someday.

There was no label on the chairs, except a small metal plate on the bottom of the seats that said "Directional," which didn't really yield us any Google results. Then Brynne from The Gathered Home featured them on her blog and did a little research herself. Turns out they are in the style of Norman Cherner Side/Pretzel Chairs. We're thinking Directional may be the brand/designer? Either way, chairs of this style are worth a pretty penny. It was a good score.

Fast forward two years. We've worked on the chairs intermittently over the past couple years but it was never a project we sunk our teeth into. Ultimately we knew we wanted to showcase the pretty wood as best as possible (no painting) and we wanted to reupholster the seats, but keep them orange. Basically we wanted the chairs to look similar, but just nicer and in better shape.

So finally, when we bought our house and decided to create a music room for Nick, I knew that these chairs would look beautiful against navy blue walls. With a purpose in mind, we set out to get the chairs completed, and here they are!

We started by completely disassembling the chairs and giving them a good cleaning. We used aluminum foil to remove the rust from the legs and then spray painted them with silver/metallic spray paint. Nick sanded down the wooden bases and patched up all of the wood that was broken off or peeling. We stained the wood in our go-to Minwax Early American (which we also used on the legs of our record shelf.) Finally, we reupholstered the seats with this fun orange fabric from Jo-Ann. It feels like we brought these babies into our apartment forever ago, but they're finally, finally done!

The chairs have been such a great addition to the music room and we love the complementary blue/orange & dark wood vibes going on in there. That's one more thing checked off the music room to-do list - almost done!

Sarah & Nick

Friday, August 5, 2016

Fun Frames with Warby Parker

This product was sent to us for free from Warby Parker in exchange for our review. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that support The Surznick Common Room!

Every August feels like such a transitional time for me. Even though my day-to-day life generally stays the same, I think the back-to-school vibes going on around me make me want to take a deep breath and go into the next season (my FAVORITE season) with a fresh start. And what better way to start fresh than with fancy new frames?

Our friends at Warby Parker recently let us pick out fun new frames to switch things up a bit this fall. If you're not familiar with Warby Parker, here's the CliffsNotes version of their story: Glasses used to be crazy expensive and they wanted to provide consumers with cheaper alternatives, that are still well-designed with great quality. Their glasses start at $95 (including prescription), which is way cheaper than you'll find at most eyeglass retailers. They also donate a pair of glasses for every pair sold, so working with them is truly a win-win.

To determine which frames we would want, we ordered a Home Try-On Box. With the home try-on process, you get to select your five favorite frames to try out for free, snap a few pictures, and style them with your wardrobe before making your choice. Nick and I split a box and had some fun testing out each pair! Nick tested out the Percel in Crystal, the Anders in River Stone Fade, and the Stockton in Striped Beach. I tried the Chelsea in Grapefruit Soda and the Anders in Crystal. After your trial is done, just send them back for free in the box they came in!

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Ultimately I decided to order the Chelsea frames in Pink Grapefruit and Nick ordered the Anders in River Stone Fade. Ordering the frames is super simple. No typing in your prescription details and (the best part) no fussing with a ruler to measure your pupillary distance. With Warby Parker you just upload a photo of your prescription, or if you don't have it handy, they'll call your doctor FOR YOU. Pro tip: If ordering multiple pairs with different prescriptions, place the orders separately because it's one script per order!

We've been wearing our new glasses for about a week now and we love them! I'm not sure what drew me to transparent frames, but I think they're so fun and I've gotten quite a few compliments on them. The tinge of pink in the frames is subtle, but adds a softness that I really love. Nick loves the two-tone color in his frames and the slight horn-rim has kind of a 50's vibe.

Overall, we're both super happy with our new glasses! So tell us what you think! Do you like them too? Are you also a happy Warby Parker customer? Share with us in the comments below! And a big thank you to Warby Parker for collaborating with us on this post. At the time we ordered, we didn't know we could only provide one prescription per order and their customer service team was so helpful in getting our separate prescriptions for each pair of frames. Big thumbs up from these four-eyed kids.

Sarah & Nick

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Meet Poppy & Weasley!

We've got some meownificant and clawsome news to share with you today - we're kitten parents! This past Saturday we welcomed two tiny, cute, furry babies into our home. We're so excited to introduce our newest blog interns, Poppy and Weasley!

For as long as we've lived together, Nick and I have wanted cats. Unfortunately, every apartment we lived in had a no-pet policy, but once we became homeowners, it was time. We joked that we were going to stop and pick up kittens in the Uhaul on the way to the new house, but in reality we decided to wait a little bit until life settled down. We actually anticipated waiting until fall, but those plans changed when we recently saw a news article saying that a local shelter was inundated with kittens that needed homes.

We immediately submitted an adoption application, got approved, and were on our way to pick out our kitties! Well.... almost. Our first attempt was met with a dead car battery. Then a few days later, our second attempt was met with a (different) broken down car, on the highway, in torrential downpours. Was this for real? WHY DIDN'T THE WORLD WANT US TO GET KITTENS?

Who knows, but it doesn't matter because the third time's the charm! We switched cars, drove through the crazy, scary rain and made it to the Greene County Humane Society to meet our new BFFs. Poppy and Weasley are happily settling into their new home and we couldn't be happier to have them join our family. Welcome to your fur-ever home, cuties!

Sarah & Nick