Kitchen Update

With October came the realization that we've been without a fully functional kitchen for SIX MONTHS. Holy cow! 

In early April we discovered mold caused by an eroding old pipe (our house was built in the 50s, and had all the original plumbing in the kitchen), which drove us toward a kitchen remodel a bit sooner than we originally intended. So why are we here, a half a year later, and still not finished? I suppose you can always blame your contractor, right? Just kidding  We are using someone who has worked with our families before, and knows what he's doing, but he's also verrryyy busy, so he wasn't able to start until last month.

Our plywood kitchen

We had been living with our little plywood kitchen since the mold was removed and the sink was reinstalled with the new, non-leaky pipes. We had our electric range, dishwasher, microwave and toaster oven, so we could do pretty much anything, we just didn't have nearly as much counter space or storage space as we did before the mold mitigation. Cooking was hard because not everything was in the kitchen and we had limited resources to work with, but it was doable as a temporary kitchen until we got underway with the new one.

Our temp kitchen

Now we've been living without an actual kitchen for just a few weeks. We moved the old fridge downstairs, where it will continue to live since we're getting new appliances, and who doesn’t need a beer fridge in the basement? 😉 Our temp kitchen, while livable, doesn’t have all the things we’re used to having, like a dishwasher, an oven or a stove. We bought a one-burner induction stove (convenient to have as people who love cooking anyway), which I have successfully warmed food in and boiled pasta, but very much burned a batch of popcorn. We’ve also got a toaster oven, rice cooker, sous vide, crock pot, coffee maker, microwave, and an ok sink (no garbage disposal), plus these are all things we can use in a fully functional kitchen as well.

What have I learned (so far)?

  • I could probably have coordinated a bunch of this myself, without a contractor, but it’s nice not having to stay at home to meet with plumbers, electricians, and the like.
  • You always will spend more than you think. We signed a sort of maximum-cost contract, but there are clauses that basically say things can go up anyway, and they’re always going to find little things here and there (like the fact that our garage to kitchen door wasn’t up to code, so we needed a new door)
  • It’s hard to eat super well with a limited kitchen - I’ve been struggling to get enough veggies in my daily diet.
  • Things feel extremely slow, even though they’re totally going faster than I think. A lot of the headway is invisible, or even looks destructive, at first. Now that things look a little different everyday, I have more of a sense of progress, because I am a visual person. Also, taking down that darn plastic wall made a HUGE difference.

It felt like our kitchen looked like this for FOREVER, even though they were working around the clock everyday.

  • If you’ve got a partner (spouse, SO, boyfriend, hubby, whatever), you’ll find that you may care about completely different things. For example, my hubby helped pick out counter, cabinet and paint colors, but doesn’t care about the sink, faucet or handles. For me, the sink was a BIG deal because I HATED the sink we had, but he couldn’t have cared less. I, on the other hand, don't care about the texture of the walls as long as they're easy to clean.
  • Inspectors care about some things a lot, and others not at all. For example, we ended up needing insulation and a fire door because of code, but we’re not required to have a range hood. The more you know.

We’re a little more than 2 weeks out from being done (minus walk-throughs after everything is installed, making sure we’re happy and everything is perfect. Right now is a lot of waiting because a bulk of the work was able to be done before we could get a template done for our countertops, and of course we have to wait a few weeks between template and installation.

It is coming along, though 

Our floor should be finished tomorrow, and then we get to paint this weekend! Woohoo!

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Drinking Around the World

I love me some Disney. I also enjoy adult beverages. Drinking around the world has been on my bucket list for a while, but I finally got the opportunity to do it a couple weeks ago! 

My sister, who is seven years younger than me, and I finally went to Epcot together for the first time since she’s been of legal drinking age, so we decided to take the opportunity to complete the challenge! Now, it’s not an official Disney thing. In fact, I’d imagine they would rather you not drink nearly a dozen drinks on a hot, humid day…

Two things we did that are probably “cheating”:

  1. We skipped America, because we drink American drinks all the time. We also skipped the “African Outpost” but it’s not an official country, and they didn’t have any special “African” drinks that I could see 😜
  2. We shared each drink - so we totaled 10 between the two of us. (Also RIP half the delish grapefruit beer that spilled on the ground. You are missed, and never forgotten).

The whole walk around the world showcase is only about a mile, and you can either begin with Mexico or with Canada. Or I guess you could go in a weird random order, too. We chose to start in Mexico, but I’d imagine starting with a nice cold margarita is just as good as finishing with one. 😉

Frozen Avocado Margarita (Mexico)

Mango Wine (China)

Italian Sangria (Italy)

Sultan's Colada (Morocco)

Magners Pear Cider (UK)

Linie Aquavit Glacier Shot (Norway)

Schöfferhofer Grapefruit Beer (Germany)

Coconut Pineapple Sake Mist (Japan)

Rosé Côtes de Provence (France)

Ottawa Apple (Canada)

We had a lot of concerned friends making sure we were ok throughout this adventure, because we were both documenting the challenge on social media - and luckily we finished in the upright position, not too much worse for wear. I attribute a lot of it to sharing the drinks, but here are some other tips:

  • Pace yourself. I think we did this over a few hours, and even went on a couple rides in the process, which meant we weren’t just continually drinking.
  • HYDRATE - we brought a Camelback, which, honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t start doing this at Disney World sooner. Best idea ever, and you just wear it!
  • Eat if you need to. I got a pretzel in Germany, and just nibbled a little whenever I felt like it. It was great.
  • Don’t take it too seriously! We just goofed off, and made sure the other person was feeling ok throughout. And if you have to stop, STOP. I’d rather not finish the challenge than be pukey at Disney.

Cheers!

San Jose & WWDC 2017

Several weeks ago I was fortunate enough to attend WWDC! This year it was in San Jose, rather than San Francisco, which I was a bit bummed about, but I decided to do some exploring!

As I was landing I noticed these gorgeous purple trees, called Jacaranda, that are the same as the ones Nathaniel and I discovered in Lisbon last year! I couldn’t believe my eyes. I guess these trees are pretty common in places with climates like Portugal and Southern California, but my Colorado heart was so happy to see them again!

I stayed very close to the convention center, and nearby was a beautiful Catholic church and a couple museums. I didn’t have the time to go inside because of the conference, but walking/running by them was lovely. There’s also a bit of street art (both the walls and ground) nearby.

If you can, walk along the Guadalupe River Walk a bit. I tried running down it and ended up hitting a dead end one way, but it goes pretty far through the town, and has nice street markers on the ground. One of the parks along it even has a giant Monopoly board on the ground!

As far as food, here are a couple good spots I’d recommend:

Get an interesting cocktail (I got the Habanero Matador) and the octopus at Firehouse No. 1.

If you need some Italian comfort food, go to Original Joe’s.

Happy hour at Mosaic is reasonably priced. I got tuna tartare, pot stickers, and a cocktail (Firecracker Sour).

If you need food late, try Cafe Stritch. This is the jambalaya.

If you want a silly-named Mexican drink, look no further than Chacho's. This drink was called "No Panties" 😂

Definitely get an ice cream sandwich at CREAM (Cookies Rule Everything Around Me), where you can choose 2 cookies and your favorite flavor of ice cream, and even get things like sprinkles around the circumference of the sammy.

Don’t forget more dessert at Milk & Wood, where they have interesting popsicle flavors that you can drizzle chocolate and other toppings on 😋

Now, because this isn’t a blog about technology or coding, I won’t go into crazy details about the conference, but here are some of the highlights:

  • The keynote is always fun, because they announce new technology. You can, of course, live stream it, but there’s just something about actually seeing Tim Cook in person and being there in a room full of nerds.
  • Michelle Obama came and spoke! I love that she’s encouraging women to keep working in STEM. Plus I got interviewed for the local news while waiting to see her speak. 😜
  • They have a series of lunchtime talks throughout the week. We got to hear from:
    • Hidden FiguresChristine Darden and how she excelled in a career at NASA.
    • The Quadfather - a man who became a quadriplegic at a young age, and how programming and technology makes his life so much better.
    • iLuminate’s Miral Kotb, who combined her love of coding and dance to create light up costumes for blackout dance performances.
  • On the Thursday evening, there’s always a big party with a concert. This year they got Fall Out Boy, so my inner high-schooler, One Tree Hill loving heart and Disney girl were all happy 😉
  • The swag was fun! Developers got black Levi's denim jackets, and pins! If you went to special events, they had extra pins to hand out, as well.

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 😉