Friday, July 16, 2010

what's your money's worth?

Ever since I was introduced to the term in high school economics class, I have been fond of measuring things in terms of opportunity cost.  Although I will admit it doesn't always make sense or apply to a situation, it does make other decisions easier.

For example - right before we went to Arizona, my car just plumb stopped working.  It didn't run at all and had to be towed to be fixed - that fix took two weeks, an engine, a rental car, and a few thousand dollars.  When Mister and I were trying to decide whether it was worthwhile to invest that much money into an 8-year-old car with over 150,000 miles on it, we finally decided to fix it because we knew what kind of 'used car' we were 'buying,' as opposed to starting from scratch and paying far more than we would to fix a car that hasn't given me any trouble until that very moment.

That same thinking is what has kept us stifled and cramped in our teeny, tiny, frequently malfunctioning apartment for over five years.  We both think it's just plain stupid (for us; everyone else can make their own decisions) to pay the same amount or more in rent than we would pay on a mortgage for a house.  Unfortunately, spacious apartments in this part of town are hard to find for under a thousand bucks.

In any case, when the bathtub is clogged and the kitchen light blew out for at least the fifth time in 2010 (no joke), I take solace in things like this: How do you know when you've gotten your "money's worth" from something?  Feel free to comment with the answer to that :)

While I was definitely having an "I hate my apartment" moment after the light blew, I was able to find happiness in the small blessing of a beautiful dining table.  Mind you, the table itself is nothing breath-taking to behold in all its IKEA glory...

But it is functional, space-saving (both sides can fold down, leaving only a 10-inch "obstruction"), and most important, it moved our dinner eating to a more civilized adult setting.  For the first couple of years, Mister and I ate dinner on the couch, using the coffee table (which was usually covered with any variety of magazines, school work, books, and or mail) to hold our drinks while we balanced out plates on our laps.  There is always a small part of me that gets great joy every time I set out a beautiful tableau on our little table:

Dinner was just so pretty tonight and it made Mister and I happy to have such a nice table to sit at.  Back to the money thing - this is not an expensive table and it does not look like one.  Sometimes I think I will want to replace it with something prettier/more regal when we move and sometimes I think I will just buy/make a couple of tablecloths instead.  In any case, though I would feel wasteful just getting rid of something perfectly functional just to have something prettier, my little table has served well through over a thousand dinners and months of poring through magazines planning my wedding, as well as providing a sturdy surface for the addressing of invitations (DIY, baby). 

You may notice in the picture above that there is not only a beautiful pair of dinners and a charming fruit bowl, but also a black and white photo of Mister and I.  It was a gift from my sister and I love it, so I brought it home from work (we're moving from one building to a new one this week, so it seemed like a good time) and it's keeping my pretty roses company (until Angst eats them).

We had our two salad dinners the last two days.  Last night we had Soba Noodle Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing from the Sept. 2009 issue of VT magazine.  For a pretty picture, click the link - the one I put on the table last night was not even remotely photogenic so I didn't even bother.  It was very good and provided us with excellent garlic breath for hours (I do consider that a happy thing - no, I'm not kidding).  The dressing had a bit of bite, which was probably the raw garlic, although I think the quarter-cup of rice vinegar might have helped.  It's not pretty at all, but I would definitely recommend it, although I would use all 8oz of the soba noodles in the pack to disperse the dressing a little more - it was bordering on too intense.

Tonight, on the other hand, we had Rice Salad Primavera from the July 2009 issue of VT magazine.

The picture might have been prettier if both bulbs in the overhead light in the kitchen were on, but alas... let's not go back there.  The flavors in this salad were much subtler than last night's adventure.  For fun, I served the salad on top of... salad.  I figured some mixed greens would add color and crunch (since cucumber and raw pepper aren't crunchy) and I was just in the mood for a good fruit salad - Superfresh did not disappoint!  That store has so much potential...

Anyway, off to plot my new menu with a little help from Yellow Tail and Symphony X!

One last thing before I go - Mama Pea is hosting a cookbook giveaway - see her blog for details!

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