Living In Demo – The Blood, Sweat and Dust

Our moving truck pulled into our new Colorado address on January 2nd, 2014. The next day it all began: Demo. The house we purchased was built in 1955 and below are the features (or lack there of) of our new address:

  • No air conditioning
  • No cable/internet hook up
  • A 30 year old furnace
  • An electric panel in the shower
  • Not one grounded outlet in the house
  • No insulation in the walls
  • A retro kitchen, complete with double ovens
  • Two bathrooms with 7 different kinds of tile
  • Asbestos tile
  • Single-paned windows that leak
  • A room with floor to ceiling paneling
  • Old plumbing
  • A huge backyard with a dilapidated fence and zero landscaping

 

Paneled Room

The Panel Room

 

Dust

Downstairs bathroom

 

And those were just the major issues. This was what we had signed up for though – what we had planned on getting into out here. Buy a house with good bones, in a good location, fix it up and sell it. Then begin again.  We would do the work (Mike mostly, but I can do the grunt work when needed) and live in it to save money. What an adventure!

Kitchen

The Kitchen

 

So, for the past three months, that’s what we have done.  Ripped out  bathrooms, kitchens, sinks, toilets, walls, ripped out plaster, wire, load baring walls,  raised the ceiling over a foot,  torn out windows, doors, electric, put in insulation, new plumbing,  dry wall, a new kitchen, new bathroom, new paint…..and we’re not done yet! There’s been blood spilled (mostly Mikes, but I have my war wounds as well), sweat poured and dust….oh, good God is there dust!

Lightswpid-img_20140117_190247.jpg

 

The dirty, dusty, can’t seem to get anything clean has been the hardest part. That and no kitchen. But more than sans kitchen, the dust. It clings to everything and I can’t get it off anything. The dogs track it into their beds, our beds, leaving dusty paw prints on our already dust-filled pants when they jump up to greet us. There is no escaping the dust that comes with living in a construction zone.

 

Demo Selfie

And through all of it, despite the dust and not having a kitchen (or kitchen sink), we’ve been unbelievably happy. Ok, there’s been some cursing too, but  how many people are living their dream? Something they set out to do, even though at first it seemed pretty scary, but still are doing it? Together. Hopefully a ton of people are living like this. Because, you’ll always have to deal with the dust of a situation, the doubt, the ‘can we, should we, do we have enough money, time, patience, courage?

Chasing the happy is better than relaxing in the complaisant though. Dust and all.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, painting all through the house
No furniture to speak of, except the one yellow couch.
Our stockings had been packed in the truck with such care,
We just hoped things didn’t get broken in there.

Winnie and Haley, all stressed,wouldn’t sleep in their beds
Hoped they had visions of the Rockies in their heads.
And Mike in his heady hat and I in my vols cap,
Had been prepping for the move, we just wanted to nap!

Our skis were awaiting, season passes were ready,
Just needed to make the 25 hour drive nice and steady.
Away to Denver we were driving, bought a house in a flash,
The mile-high city was calling & we were making a dash.

The townhouse had rented and I told my work,
I’ll continue remotely as an added perk!
Our friends and family we’ll miss so much so,
We’ll try not to cry as we ski in the snow.

Our Denver adventure is finally here,
We can’t wait for what awaits in the new year!
So while this holidays weird, we’re like nomads alright
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

My First Time

I recently went to a nutritionist, just to see if my newly pescatarian diet was providing me with the correct stuff. It was my first time visiting one and I was extremely excited! Our new diet had opened up so many doors, it was hard to sort all the information, so figured I’d treat myself to a session.

Prior to my appointment, the nutritionist, Jeff, asked me to complete an evaluation form, asking several questions pertaining to my dietary habits. Do I have any allergies, any medications I was taking, how serious was I about my goals. Many of the questions were geared towards fitness goals, even diet goals. I’ve never been a calorie counter, have always loved food and don’t believe in depriving myself of something due to the caloric count. That being said, I’ve always been mindful of the goodness of my food. Yes, that’s a very official term. What I mean by goodness is, the nutritional value of it; how much salt, fat, sugar it contains and how fresh it is. Having gone without land-animal meat for the past 7 months (can’t believe it!), plus having cut way back on dairy (omitting cow’s milk, sour cream, cream cheese and cutting way back on yogurt) and eggs (try to substitute in baking) along with moving more towards natural sugars (agave, dates, pure maple syrup) and limiting processed foods, I was extremely curious to put my diet under the microscope.

I had a great experience, although I found that much of what I had already read/researched had answered them. This information is out there, tons of it, and often there are different schools of thought. Soy milk vs. almond milk vs. organic cows milk. There are a number of factors that play into it, so I realized it boiled down to my personal choice. I don’t believe cows milk is good for you or the environment and the mass production of it, well, basically tortures these animals. But, that’s my personal opinion. So, again, you need to find out your goals before heading to a nutritionist. Do some research before and arrive armed with questions. My goal was to make sure Mike and I were consuming the right mix of stuff to fuel our bodies. With his job being so physical, and my working out/running on a regular basis, I thought, Why Not!? Let the experts take a peek into our nutritional journey to see if we were on the right path. So, I did my homework and went to my appointment with an open mind and two pages of questions.

Here are some of the more interesting ones I had in my 1 hour consultation, along with the gist of Jeff’s answers (Jeff has his nutritional certification and degree from a school in Rhode Island, so is legit- I’d recommend asking where your nutritionist got certified/studied before making the appointment. It’s not cheap and you want to be sure you’re talking to a trained expert.) Hope you find some useful info!

Me: When is the best time to eat vitamins? Should you eat certain ones with food?
Jeff: No, the time of day doesn’t matter, although you should consume them without food if possible, so they’re absorbed better. Eating a small amount of food is ok.

Me: Are supplements the only way to get certain vitamins or are there plant based alternatives to load up on vitamins, such as b-12, D, glucosamine (I have knee problems, but love to run).
Jeff: as a pescitarian, b-12 is essential, so taking a supplement is great. And the best way to get vitamin D is to spend time outside. Chia seeds have also been said to help with joints, although the best resolution for that is to build up the muscles around the knee – stretching after a workout, doing lunges helps too.

Me: What is the best thing to eat post an intense workout?
Jeff: Your body has just used up its reserves of carbs, so replenishing directly after with a piece of fruit is good. An hour or so after, it’s good to replenish your protein with a supplement or smoothie.

Me: How much protein should we actually be consuming?
Jeff: The recommended amount of protein is directly related to your body weight. (Here, he did a calculation, that honestly I forget, but the outcome was a bit shocking: he said I should be getting 75 grams of protein a day & Mike should be getting 135 grams. I have mixed feelings about this, as I don’t believe I need quite that much, based on my desk job…but, I’ve definitely made a conscious effort to consume more.) animal protein, a single serving of fish, has 23 grams of protein (these numbers may be a bit off, as I don’t recall his exact sentiment. My takeaway was to eat a serving of fish a day!)

Fun Facts I learned (or got reinforced)

You should keep all seed & nut based oil in the fridge. Once oxygen hits them, their molecular/chemical composition changes.

Sesame oil has a high burn rate, so you should only use it for sauces or finishing, never for sautéing.

Soy milk has a lot more protein than almond milk, so if you are conscious of that, opt for soy.

Complete amino acids are important, so eating whole grains with plant-based proteins complete a meal. Think rice and beans.

Eat a rainbow everyday and your vitamin and mineral consumption should be juuuust right.

I enjoyed my hour session with Jeff and definitely thought it was worth the time. If anything, it made me examine what we were eating, the food we were buying, and my mindset around food and nutrition. Before the appointment, I had done research on several websites (a few to note: nomeatathlete.com, onegreenplanet.com, thekindlife.com) and will continue to do so in the quest for happy food! Everyone’s journey is different and there are many ways to peel a carrot. I’ve come to the conclusion that knowing what I put in my mouth and how it will affect my body is just as important as how it tastes.

Happy cooking!

Kale & Sweet Potato Crepes!

Sunday’s are usually a favorite day of mine, the last hurrah of the weekend wrapped up into a day that usually lays wide open. This past weekend was full of close-to-home activities – Mike working in the shop and me cooking up a storm. We also had the usual grocery shopping, tidying of the house, wash – all the stuff you don’t really have time for during the week. All the really, really fun things. But, we did find a few hours to go hiking in the Wissahicken with the dogs, which always makes the day better. The trails wrap for miles, and for the majority of the trek, it’s just us. It’s gorgeous!

So, with August in full force, Mike is incredibly busy. It’s his ‘crazy time’, a time known to the carpenter as get while the gettin’s good. So, with him glued to the shop all weekend, it left me to get creative in the kitchen. An easy, yet hearty fancy-lookin’ meal I thought of for Sunday night didn’t take much prep, was different than what we normally go for, and hearty enough to fill Mike’s belly. Win-Win-WIn!

 

Kale and Sweet Potato crepes

 

Kale & Sweet Potato Crepes

3 tablespoon of olive oil
3 gloves garlic
1/4 cup feta cheese (more or less to taste)

4 hearty handfuls of kale leafs
1 cup string beans
1 big sweet potato (diced into cubes)

Crepes
1 cup wheat flour
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup almond milk (or regular)
2 eggs

1. Mix all crepe ingredients together with a whisk, the butter being last. Put in fridge for 20 minutes to let bubbles die down.

2. Mix sweet potato with 1/2 the oil and roast at 375 for 15-20 mins

2. Sauté garlic with oil, then add kale & green beans. Sauté 10 min.

3. Add 1/4 of the crepe batter to a very hot frying pan (sprayed with olive oil) – flip after 3-5 minutes.

4. Once crepes are done, fill with sautéed kale & green beans, some sweet potato and a bit of feta and roll up.

Remember to work hard & cook hard!

Happy Sunday!

 

Roasted Red Peppers & Homemade Pesto

In Mike’s line of work, there are ups and downs – busy seasons and slow seasons – and the summer months are definitely busy. He’s in the peak of his busy season, meaning working almost 7 days a week, giving me a lot of down time. In other words, it’s busy season in the kitchen!

This past weekend, knowing Mike would have to work Saturday, I planned a me day. This typically involves Yoga or running, some sort of girly-thing (pedicure, eye brow waxing, haircut) paired with an hour or so flipping through Cooking Light, Pinterest or cookbooks to see what fun things I can cook.

I chose to make a roasted red pepper & tomato sauce that I could pour over grilled portobellos paired with a side of orzzo with homemade pesto. YUMMM!

First, to roast the red peppers and tomatoes. Suuuuuper easy. You slice them in half, rub them with a tad of olive oil, and put them in the over/toaster oven for about 20-35 minutes.

Roasted Red

Recipe

2-3 handfuls of fresh basil
2-6 small garlic cloves (more or less depending on your taste)
2 tablespoons of pine nuts
2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
2 red peppers (home grown if you have them!)
3 small-medium tomatoes (homegrown if you have them!)
6 tablespoons of olive oil
4 portobello mushrooms, stems cut off
3-4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
Orzzo pasta

Homemade pesto is an easy make too, especially if you have an abundance of basil. It’s such an amazing flavor, the fresh basil picked right from your windowsill or garden.

1. Pick about 2-3 handful of basil leaves, wash, set out to dry.

2. Put 2-4 garlic cloves into the food processor, along with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and chop. Add pine nuts, chop. Add 1 more tablespoon of olive oil, parmesan, then the basil leaves. Chop until pesto is creamy. Scrape out of food processor and set aside for cooked orzzo.

3.. Wash portobello caps, marinate in olive oil & balsamic and put in fridge for about 10 minutes – until goodness soaks in. Meanwhile, boil water for orzzo.

4. Put sliced peppers and tomatoes (rubbed in a pinch of olive oil) in oven at 400 for about 20 minutes. Peel off skin of peppers and put in food processor, along with 2 cloves of garlic and salt & pepper to taste. Blend.

5. Heat grill or grill pan to piping hot. Pull mushrooms out and grill on both sides for about 5 minutes.

6. Mix pesto with cooked orzzo. Top grilled mushrooms with the roasted red peppers. Enjoy!

Homemade Pesto

Here’s another meal, similar to the ingredients in the above, just instead of blending the roasted red tomatoes into a sauce, I stacked them on the marinated mushroom/grilled mushrooms, then topped with homemade basil. I paired this meal with a lemon, garlic and olive oil orzzo. So many variations, so little time! That’s why, I like to work hard and cook hard.

Happy Cooking!