An Impromptu Kitchen Remodel

A handful of weeks ago we were going to paint my craft room - I was going to empty it out completely, give it a fresh, clean start, get rid of some stuff, reorganize my closet (so I can have everything in one place)… [I talk about this here, here and here]

The hole between my kitchen and living room

But, alas, life never goes as planned. We found water in the wall behind our kitchen sink, a wall which separates our kitchen and living room. Water inside your wall can never be good, so we got it inspected, found out we needed to rip out a bunch of gross drywall, and now there’s a giant hole in the wall. We’re taking it as a sign that it’s time to remodel the kitchen. We’ve never been in love with it, and we wanted to tear out that whole wall anyway, so we opened a line of home equity, and our summer project is going to be to slowly make the kitchen into a better space for us.

Only the finest plywood counters for us!

Chaotic - this picture also represents my brain right now

But Kathryn - painting your craft room isn’t that big a project, is it? Compared to a new kitchen, you’re right. It’s totally smaller both in magnitude and budget, but currently my house feels chaotic. It’s messy. Things aren’t in the right places. The extra bedroom on the main floor (where I’d temporarily relocate the contents of my craft room) is full of kitchen supplies because we don’t want to reload the temporary kitchen with things we don’t use often, just to have to empty it again when we re-do our cabinet situation. Heck, my fridge isn’t even in the right place. Working on my craft room not only feels impossible right now, but also incredibly irresponsible. So I’m finding small things I can do to keep it feeling more and more like my own space. I can slowly hang a couple more pictures on the wall (which I did this weekend). I can make sure I keep it tidy so I can continue to be creative. I can slowly go through my shelves, drawers, boxes and closet, so that when it does become time to paint, clearing out that room won’t be as difficult.

Baby steps in making my craft room better - hung the three small drawings (Karen Hallion) this weekend.

So this is me learning to put things on hold. I hate waiting. I wish I could wave my magic wand and make both my kitchen and my creative space finished. Even though I know a house is never truly finished. We need to be smart about how we choose to spend our time and money right now, since a kitchen remodel is no small feat. But boy will this all be fun once we’re done!

Turn Flared Jeans into Skinny Jeans

Original flare

If you're anything like me, you've got old stuff in your dresser that you don't wear for one reason or another. Maybe it doesn't fit you but you dream of the day it will, maybe it's not your style anymore, or maybe it's something you've got a nostalgic connection with. I'm guilty of all of the above.

Anyway, I've had this pair of flared jeans for a few years now that I haven't worn much because I prefer skinny jeans these days. But I just couldn't ever bring myself to part with them because they fit me so well! So I decided to try to make them into skinny jeans. If I failed, I wouldn't be losing much because they weren't getting worn anyway!

Materials:

  • Jeans to be altered
  • Jeans that fit you
  • Pencil or pen for marking where you're sewing
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Pins

Steps:

  1. Turn the jeans inside out and lay them on the floor. Line up the jeans that currently fit you the way you like on top of them, right side out.
  2. Mark where you'd like to make your seam, along the outer edges of the skinny jeans. I used a ballpoint pen, because the wash of the jeans was too light to see my white pencil.
  3. Pin along that line, so your jeans don't slide at all, and the seam goes where you want.
  4. Sew along the line you drew, then sew just outside of it for more reinforcement. Denim is a sturdy fabric.
  5. Put the jeans on to make sure you like the way they fit. You can rip out the seam if you've made them too small, or you can make them skinnier if need be.
  6. Once you're satisfied with the skinny-ness, cut off the extra fabric.
  7. If necessary, hem the jeans - mine needed this a lot! I marked where I wanted them on one leg, then added about an inch, marked the same on the other leg, and cut off the excess fabric, then did a double folded hem.
  8. Turn your jeans right side in and there you have it!

Step 5 - I shoulda just stopped here 😂

Step 7 - I marked where I wanted my pants to end with a ballpoint pen

Step 8 - Finished hem! If I had a machine with thicker thread, it would look more professional, but I'm happy with how mine turned out 

Glamping - The Great Outdoors

Camping can mean a lot of things. It can mean using an RV, setting up a tent, or sleeping in your car. It can mean going to an established campsite with some amenities or it can mean going to the middle of nowhere and finding a flat enough place to set up a tent. It can be in the woods, the desert, on the beach, anywhere, really!

Our caravan of cars in the middle of nowhere

For us, we tend to find known campsites that are more of the beaten path. Clearly others have been here before, but they’re fairly far from other sites, and there are no amenities. [Either that, or we go to Disney World 😉]. We recently got a MASSIVE tent, and we like to bring an air mattress so we don’t have rocks digging into our bodies as we sleep. We also recently got a two-person sleeping bag, and it’s great for using body heat to keep warm. We also bring pillows and extra blankets, because you never know how chilly it’ll get!

In addition to the kitchen gear I talked about here, we also bring fold up camping chairs and tables to put near the fire for meals and just hanging out. I’d also recommend bringing some sort of emergency gear, like a car kit and first aid, just in case. Hopefully you won’t ever need to use it!

Depending on your activities, you may decide to bring a number of other things. We saw so many cars towing ATVs, motorbikes and/or mountain bikes. If you plan on hiking a bunch, hiking poles can be nice, and a Camelback backpack is convenient for carrying lots of water easily, plus food and sunscreen. There are lots of canyons around which require climbing gear, so rock climbers can have a lot of fun, too. If you’re a photographer, bringing lots of gear can be great - just be careful of dirt and sand! Night photography is great here, because of the lack of ambient light.

"Vader Rock"

This trip we went to the San Rafael Swell. Our first night we spent near Goblin Valley, at a site we call Vader Rock because the shape of the huge rock reminds us of Darth Vader’s helmet. From this site we can walk up to a nice little notch and look over at the canyons on the other side, or climb Vader Rock itself. We also hear a lot of people on ATVs and motorcycles. You can also quickly drive to Goblin Valley, which is worth seeing!

The next two nights, we went a little further and camped near Cistern Canyon, which we could walk to from our campsite. In order to make it all the way through and out Ramp Canyon nearby, though, you need mountaineering gear - it’s a bit more technical, and we didn’t do that. We did make it all the way to the chokestone in Cistern Canyon, though, which makes for some fun photos.

At the chokestone!

Muddy pups in Muddy Creek

The next day we drove to the Muddy Creek hike. This water really lives up to its name! There were some dogs with us and they got FILTHY swimming in this water. It would be good to bring water shoes (like Tevas or Chacos) on this hike, because you will get wet! I think we got about knee deep at one point, but if you go even farther, you might get even wetter! Also, entering this hike you get to pass by an old mining area, with some dilapidated wooden buildings. It’s amazing that this land used to be utilized for mining so much, and now it just sits there. Do NOT go into any mines, though. That could be super dangerous both because they may not be stable, and because they aren’t cleaned up and you could get radiation!

A lot of people go farther south to Moab and Canyonlands, but we really like this area around Green River - I think it’s a little less off the beaten path, and it’s not far from Moab anyway, so it could be fun to mix things up a little bit.

Glamping - Food Edition

Stopped here for lunch during a hike one day because this rock table was too perfect!

From camping with my husband and in-laws, I have learned that the lack of a kitchen is no reason to eat poorly. Of course it’s nice to have easy snacks like granola, fruit and beef jerky, but coolers can help you transport many of the usual ingredients you have in your fridge, and camper stoves and fires work fine for most of the food you eat. Just remember you don't have an electric dishwasher (but if you do, please tell me where to get one!).

We kept breakfasts and lunches pretty simple. I brought bottles of coffee, one for each morning, and we boiled water to make oatmeal, which I sliced bananas into. We also brought bagels and cream cheese. 😋 For lunch we made peanut butter sandwiches and/or cold cut sandwiches, and threw in some apples and protein bars just in case.

Our dinners were a little more extravagant. The first night we just did mac & cheese, where we boiled the water over the fire! We also roasted sausages over the fire to add a bit of protein to the meal. Our second night, my in-laws prepared caesar salad and pork tenderloin grilled over the fire. The third night we had hangar steak and baked potatoes.

In addition to all this, we had chips, hummus, guacamole, veggies, and LOTS of alcohol. We had beer and boxed wine, and Nathaniel even brought ingredients for one of his favorite cocktails.

For dessert, we made s’mores and had Girl Scout cookies.

This menu actually was quite reasonable, and didn’t require too much work or gear. To prepare warm food, you can pretty much do everything over the campfire with a wire rack, or you can bring a small propane stove. We have a metal kettle, a cast iron pan and a metal pot that we use to cook. It’s also useful to bring a cutting board and knife.

We always bring durable, easy to wash plates, cups and flatware (you can get plastic or metal - we have an assortment). We also like to bring paper plates to put on top of the plastic plates to help with clean up. You also can just put the paper plates in the campfire when you’re done! It’s good to have durable cups for your alcohol, because no one wants to worry about glass shards at the campsite! They actually make wine glasses specifically for camping. We also discovered that Yeti makes beer coozies that keep your beer cold ridiculously well. If you’re into making your specialty cocktails on the go, you can find camping martini kits and shakers, and fun things like hand-powered blenders.

While it would have been fine to bring just easy, no-cooking-necessary foods, there’s something fun about enjoying a nice meal by the fire under the stars. You may be away from your kitchen, but that doesn’t mean you have to rough it too much 😉