Hello, favorites. It's Sunday, and everyone in our house is feeling pretty cozy and tired. There's baked oatmeal in the oven (recipe coming soon) it's dark as midnight (except it's only 7:30...and we're only losing daylight from here!) We're settling into fall and getting ready for winter and all is well.
I had big plans for some blogs this week, and they entirely escaped me. The last few weeks at work have been uncharacteristically hectic, and while I think we're finally coming out of that (knock on all of the wood) it's kept me pretty occupied. On Friday afternoon I flew to Chicago for a Saturday work meeting, and got to spend the night with one of my best friends, her husband, and their two dogs and a cat. It was lovely to see her, and lovely to get home to Dan and Chewy last night. And TODAY, I accomplished a task that has been irking me for MONTHS--the backsplash in our kitchen! The rest of our home renovation was finished in about February, but the backsplash has been a thorn in my side ever since then. Originally we planned to do the tiling ourselves, but we never really got around to it, and then we planned to hire someone, but we hadn't gotten that done, and knew it would be expensive...and THEN. Then. My momma sent me a pin of a laundry room wall covered in tiles that look like old tin ceilings, and I realized I should just give that a try. So today, I did. And I love it SO much.
This entire project cost me less than $200 and took about three hours to finish, all by myself. It's really just a matter of measuring the space you need, cutting the tile sheets down to the right size, squeezing some adhesive on the back (I used loctite) and pressing them on to the wall. The tiles are plastic but look like metal, and they can be cut with a regular scissors. Seriously, anyone could do it. And it took our kitchen from this:
I can't even tell you how much better I feel about our kitchen now. I think most people wouldn't have noticed that our backsplash was missing (or assumed the weird faux-wood veneer was intentional and finished) but it always bothered me and made me feel like our house wasn't "done" yet. I wish I would have thought of this solution six months ago, but I'm so glad that I did it today! Thanks, Mom :)
Here's a progress shot:
So now our kitchen is finally, officially finished. I really love the kitchen--the original cabinets and the tall ceilings make the small space feel much bigger and more usable, and I appreciate our new countertops, sink, and appliances every day. I also love this little touch: I mounted plants above the kitchen window on a rod and some enamel pails from Ikea. Because I have a black thumb some of the plants need to be periodically replaced, but I love them nonetheless.
Looking forward to sharing some new recipes from you, from this VERY KITCHEN, very soon. Wishing you all cozy and wonderful Sundays.
I've conducted a very non-scientific survey of my close friends and determined that everyone agrees it takes about two years to really settle into a new house. So I'm working on my patience (not my best virtue, kids) in realizing that we're not going to get all the house things done right away. Right now I'm focusing on the instant-gratification projects where you put in an afternoon's worth of work and come out with an appreciably improved space. Enter, gardens! I planted a bunch this weekend and everything is still in that newly-planted, weed-free, great-looking phase. This phase typically lasts about two weeks for me, so it's important to savor it.
For being a city with such short summers, Minneapolis residents are serious about their gardens. When spring came this year we realized that we're living in between two expert gardeners, and our sad little weed patch stuck out like a sore thumb. I was pulling nettles and prairie grass out of the front garden to clear it out the other weekend, and one of the upstairs tenants (who has lived here for years) was so confused, because he "thought we had some nice flowers in there" (when what we really had were very dense weeds, punctuated by the occasional large spider). Hello, bachelor pad. Nice to meet you. I am NOT a master gardener, but I know a thistle when I see one. So I've got that going for me.
After I got the front pots and garden planted, one of the neighbors came over to compliment our work and say how excited he was about what we've been doing at the house--AND he gave me some great tips on how to take care of our new azaleas. And then he left and I did a little happy dance for Minnesota Nice neighbors. We're only one for two on that front though, the other set of neighbors was none thrilled about our fence. No gardening tips or compliments coming from that direction. But that's ok! Because I don't really like talking to neighbors anyway, and now I know how to take care of the azaleas! And look how pretty they are!!
I've also got some pretty annuals on the front steps (supertunias and gerbera daisies in the pots) and some herbs and veggies in the back garden (tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, mint, parsley, rosemary, and basil) surrounded by some marigolds because Pinterest tells me rabbits don't like those (although I just googled it and there seems to be some disagreement on that point--I think the smart money's on the rabbits eating all my plants no matter what I've got in there, but we'll see).
Best of luck, little plant-lings. You do not have a very skilled caregiver watching over you, but we're all pulling for ya.
There's a really lovely Matt Nathanson song that played in my head over and over again in my early college years called Little Victories. I love this song because it's just the reminder I need when I feel like I'm drowning in life: hold on to the little victories. Adulting getting you down? Little victories, my friend. My little victories to start off this week are tiny spots of beauty around my home: I finally got around to hanging a mirror that I really love in our bedroom, and some potted plants in these sweet little enameled buckets above our kitchen window, and the cutest teensy orchid added the perfect touch to our bathroom, which desperately needed something green. And today is a rainy Monday, which is the perfect kind for getting things done, even if the to-do list is a mile long. And Chewy's soft, wet dog nose is perpetually in my face/on my lap/wiggling around my kneecaps as I walk in the door, no matter what else is happening. Little victories.
This time, I'll be sailing
No more bailing boats for me
I'll be out there on the sea
Just my confidence and me
And I'll be awful sometimes
Weakened to my knees
But I'll learn to get by
On little victories
This time, I'll have no fear
I'll be standing strong and tall
Turn my back towards them all
And I'll be awful sometimes
Weakened to my knees
And I'll learn to get by
On the little victories
And if the world decides to catch up with me
Still little victories
Hi. It’s Friday! We’re going to get right into Fueled Up Friday in just a second, but I have to start with some news I’m pretty bummed about. Remember how last week I was raving about Tiger Balm because I hurt my knee on an 11-mile run the previous weekend? Well, I was really hoping that injury was going to get in line and cooperate for the half marathon I am supposed to be running tomorrow, but after diligently icing and Tiger-Balm-ing and using the elliptical and the bike so that my knee could get some rest, I went out for a run on Wednesday and had to cut it short about two miles in. Which means there’s no chance I’m going to be able to run the half on Saturday, and that is very sad. Not like, real problem sad—no one is starving or homeless, and my knee totally will heal, but I’m bummed that I don’t get to run the race after logging all those training miles. There will be other races. But there will not be this race. So, that disappointment aside, here are the things that are keeping me fueled up this week: our new fence, making new fitness goals for the summer, and This American Life.
1. Our magical new fence
Disclaimer: I'm aware that what I'm about to say will sound very privileged. It could be hashtagged with lots of offensive-but-accurate descriptors. But it's true. Here it is: I love being able to pay for services that are completed by other people before I arrive home from work. Case in point: on Tuesday this week I left for work and I had no fence, and when I arrived home from work I had a completed, beautiful fence. My appreciation for the magical fence men is endless (they…probably like that they’re appreciated, but like more that I’ve mailed them a check for their work). Dan and I did not get in a fight about the proper way to build the fence. I did not lose years off my life out of frustration over building the fence. Chewy is SO HAPPY. He’s been running laps around our yard with his tongue just hangin’ out the side of his mouth, having the best time that a dog can have. He’s also really interested in finding out how far he can stick his face into the fence, so I’m curious how long that experiment can go on before he gets stuck. I think the over-under is about four days, so we'll know soon. Also, our next door neighbors have cats that pride themselves on sitting just far enough away that Chewy can see them but not reach them, and slowly flicking their tails back and forth until he loses his damn mind trying to reach them, but he can’t. Now? They live on the solid side of the fence. No one can see you, cats. Take that.
2. Making new fitness goals
So, now that the half marathon training is behind me, I’m thinking about what comes next. I have a lot of ideas about what I want that to be, but mostly I think I want to shift my focus to heavier weight training and continuing to log several shorter runs per week. I really want to work on strength training and high intensity interval training to see how much muscle I can build, but I also really want to keep logging running miles because I want to hit my thousand kilometers in 2016.
know I talked about this once before, but the You vs. Year challenge is something I signed up for after about seven seconds of thought on my Map My Run app—the challenge is to run 1000km in 2016, which is actually kind of a lot. Despite having signed on to this goal with absolutely no forethought, I really want to complete the challenge. Which means I need to run about 13 miles a week for the rest of the year. I think this summer I’m going to focus on logging 2-3 shorter runs per week and really working on my speed, and then maybe late summer/early fall I’ll run another half marathon and try to break two hours. Looking forward to goals for the next few months is definitely cheering me up about missing this half—stay tuned to see where things go from here (hopefully not just to the couch. Really crossing my fingers.) One encouraging development, despite the disappointing knee injury, is that I ran the first mile of my run at 8:11 on Wednesday…even though I had to quit that run a mile later, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to improve my mile splits as the summer goes on.
3. This American Life
This American Life really deserves its own entire post, but I’ve listened to so many episodes this week that it’s just going to go on this list. You guys. This American Life is THE BOMB. I actually used to deeply hate this podcast and ridicule my friends for being nerdy when they listened to it (<---any time that’s the case you can almost set your clock to my total change in opinion, because I love all things nerdy. I don’t know why I didn’t catch that flaw in my hatred for TAL earlier, but sometimes I’m pretty dense.) So, This American Life. If you’re not already listening, I have great news for you: this podcast is available to you for free, and will periodically deliver one hour of thought-provoking, funny, and smart content that you can listen to while you’re driving, or exercising, or sitting on the couch (…or sitting at your desk….no, of course I don’t do that. Why do you ask?) The podcast covers a different theme every week, and includes 1-3 stories that relate to that theme.
For example, the most recent episode on my phone is called “For Your Reconsideration” and the description is: “The older and wiser we get, the more bewildering our past decisions can seem. This week, people revisit those decisions – and we revisit a story we aired a year ago with new, fascinating updates about a groundbreaking study that turned out to be false.” The story is about a study that looks at how canvassers can change voters’ opinions by simply speaking with them for about twenty minutes, how those changes are effectively made, and what those transformative experiences look like. I listened to This American Life on many of my plane rides last week (six flights in seven days left plenty of time for that) and it really just reignited my passion for Ira Glass and his genius. (Ira Glass is the host of the show, FYI.) If you ARE already listening to This American Life, high five. Let’s talk about it.
Have an excellent weekend, you guys. Love you the most.
Alllllllright, it’s time to talk about Casa de Cocoa & Cotton. House stuff has been dominating my life for the last few months so I’m excited to share some more details and photos of what we’ve been doing—I’ve held off because my plan was to reveal each room one at a time as they were really finished, but as everyone knows a new house doesn’t really get to “finished” in the way you want it to very quickly. So we’re just going to jump right in—more pictures will be shared as we get closer and closer to the true “after” stage.
Before we bought and moved into our new house, we lived in a duplex not far from where we live now—our move was less than a mile altogether. We loved our old house, but didn’t love the block that it was on (mostly apartment buildings, some not very well cared for) and the immediate area was just sort of high shenanigans. We moved from the outskirts of uptown into more of the heart of uptown, and now we’re in a neighborhood we love, very close to Lake Calhoun, and our favorite restaurants, and parks, and general Minneapolis loveliness. Our house is also a duplex, so we rent out the upper apartment and live on the main floor. Eventually, our plan is to convert the house into a single-family home, so this is the house we’re planning to stay in for the foreseeable future. I LOVE living in a home that we don’t plan to move out of, and making it our own has been exhausting and wonderful.
What we immediately loved about our house when we saw it was the 1920s classic Minneapolis feel—it has gorgeous wood built ins and details everywhere, giant original cabinetry in the kitchens, tall ceilings (important, when your husband is 6’9”) and wood floors throughout. Most of the wood is in remarkably good shape, considering it has been a rental for so many years, but some of it does need some love (luckily, that’s a passion of mine—inherited from antique-loving parents—so we’re happy to tackle some TLC for the windowsills and door frames that need it). So, we saw this beautiful, well-preserved 100-year-old house…but we also saw that it was pretty filthy and needed some shining up. We decided to do some immediate renovations, starting with refinishing the wood floors throughout and then basically gutting the bathroom and renovating the kitchen (re-doing basically everything except the cabinets, which we love—new floor, new appliances, new countertops, new backsplash). We hired a contractor to do everything except painting—we re-painted every room in the house before we moved in, except the bathroom and kitchen, which I just painted last weekend after the renovations in those rooms were finished. Dan and I are going to tackle the backsplash ourselves, so that still isn’t done, and we’re replacing light fixtures and outlets/switch plates ourselves. Alright, that’s enough words—ready for some before pictures?
As I mentioned in a previous post, we were without a shower for a couple of weeks while our bathroom was torn apart (luckily there’s a weird bathroom in the basement with a toilet and no sink. Super cool.) And we had a lot of takeout nights between missing kitchen counters and not having new appliances installed—and, of course, when our new appliances were installed they kept tripping the kitchen fuse just by being plugged in. So some electrical work needed to be done to remedy that. Here are some “work in progress” photos (you can also see that our house was just a mess during this time--hard to keep things organized when you keep losing cabinets and counters):
We did have the contractors raise the cabinets over the refrigerator and the stove by a few inches so that we could fit a full-size refrigerator in that space. I’m really glad we ended up doing that—it makes our kitchen much more functional, and makes it much more likely that we won’t need to touch the kitchen again in the future. We ran into typical problems while the renovation was happening—turns out the sub floor in the bathroom was completely rotten, so we had to pull out the entire subfloor and ended up replacing a bathtub that we were going to leave (which is for the best, because now our tub is nice and deep and great for soaking…but the subfloor was an added expense). Aforementioned electrical issues were what you would expect for a 1920s house, and also needed some (expensive) love. Things took much longer than expected. Our house was a disaster area for quite a while. By the end, I was really sick of the contractors showing up at our house at 7am (thanks for being so prompt and eager to get started…give me a sec to put a bra on…) but I really love the choices we made in the bathroom and kitchen (and for the color of the wood floor) and I’m so happy with how everything is coming together. The never-ending “to do” list is down to basically the backsplash, hanging some shutters in Kelly’s room, hanging a mirror in our bedroom, and finding a cool chandelier to replace our bedroom light fixture (at some point). Oh, and we need to figure out what we’re doing with our bedroom closet…it needs rods, and organization systems, and….stuff. It needs some stuff. But that’s basically nothing, compared to what we’ve done!! Here are the “almost after” pictures.
I love how our furniture and décor from our last house have transitioned to the new space—our dining room table is a refurbished farmhouse table that I bought at the Junk Bonanza last year (and added those tall wheels so Dan’s long legs can fit underneath) and I swore I would never move to a house where that table wouldn’t fit, because I LOVE it. I also love the radiator covers with the punched-metal grates, and how they fit in with our artwork and lamps. Overall, I’m so happy to be in the house and to for things to be settling down so we can relax and enjoy it. Stay tuned for more detailed room reveals as we finish things up!
You guys…if today is Fueled Up Friday that means we survived the week! And now the weekend is coming! Hallelujah, puh-raise the lawd. At the beginning of this week I was all rested and optimistic and thinking that this would be the week that I would really get my act together and finish some nagging items on my to-do list around the house (wallpaper the kitchen…finally replace some outlet covers that have been missing since we painted two months ago…hang the light fixture in our kitchen that has been sitting in a box for weeks…) but then, I didn’t really do that. I did try the wallpaper thing. We all know how that turned out (hint: NOT WELL). But this weekend, with Chewy as my witness, I truly am going to finish up some painting and house detail stuff and then I am going to show you all some photos! I can’t wait to share our new space with you. But, in the meantime, you came here for fueled up Friday and that is what you shall receive. Up this week: peppermint essential oil, Bloglovin’, and the Hot Dash 10 mile race. Let us begin.
Peppermint Essential Oil
I ordered a big starter set of essential oils at the end of last year because that just seems like something that would be right up my alley. Do I know anything about them? Heavens to Betsy, no. But I want to learn. I think my best self uses essential oils, but I can’t keep track of her long enough to ask. She’s tricky. So, I have this cute set of essential oils that I’ve used a few times and big plans to unlock their secrets at a later, undisclosed date. But this week I discovered that peppermint oil is amazing. Mostly because it can be used to treat my two mortal enemies: headaches, and upset stomachs. I have been getting terrible migraines since I was a kid, and this week I had a few nagging headaches that threatened to become full-on “I can’t stop crying it hurts so much” migraines. So, I put a drop of peppermint oil on my fingers and rubbed the oil on both temples and in between my eyebrows, on the area where my nose meets my forehead, and it really helped! I don’t think it would stop a full-blown headache in its tracks, but it makes enough of a difference that I could finally fall asleep, or take the edge off the pain enough to make dinner. This is a small miracle, and small miracles will be celebrated.
I also learned that peppermint oil can help relieve a bloated, upset stomach. I was feeling a little queasy because I ate too much cheese this week (yes, I know better, but there’s brie in my fridge and I’m only human) so I put a few drops of peppermint oil on my tummy before bed and rubbed the oil in to my skin. It’s harder to say how much of a difference this made, but it seemed like it helped (and definitely didn’t hurt) so I’ll take it. If you have tips on your favorite uses for essential oils, I’d love to hear them!
One of the tools the Weebly blog platform offers is the ability to see how people are getting to your blog if they came from somewhere else (like a Facebook link, or Pinterest, or whatever). I noticed that Bloglovin’ was showing up on this referral list, so I clicked on that link out of curiosity…and accidentally discovered my new favorite productivity-killer. Bloglovin’ is a platform that allows you to select blogs you want to follow and add them to a feed that looks a lot like Pinterest (my previous favorite productivity-killer). Once you collect blogs that you like, it recommends similar bloggers that you might be interested in, and also offers the ability to browse by category or just scroll through popular posts. The feed shows you a snippet of the post so you can decide if you want to read more, and then if you click through it will take you over to the blog. The blogs that you choose to follow will show up in your personalized feed so that you never miss a blog post (and can do all your reading or skimming in one place). I’ve added my favorite bloggers, along with some new awesome-looking blogs that I just discovered today, and I can’t wait to use this tool more. I’ve also added a Bloglovin’ button on the right-hand side of this page (all the way at the bottom, if you’re reading on your phone) so you can easily add Cocoa & Cotton if you’re already a Bloglovin’ fan! And if you’re not already, I suspect you may become one in the future. Check it out.
Looking around Bloglovin' also got me inspired to up my game in the social media world, so I signed in to my never-used Twitter account and wrote my first-ever tweet. I…don’t understand the Twitter. I’m lost over there. I need assistance. If you’re on Twitter and you love it, I also added a Twitter button next to my Instagram and Pinterest links (again, on the right-side of your screen if you’re on a computer, or all the way at the bottom on your phone). Please send help. Or be my friend, or whatever. Help me follow you. I can’t find anyone.
Thus concludes my foray into twenty-first century technology...we will now resume your regularly-scheduled programming.
The Hot Dash Ten Mile Race
The Hot Dash is happening tomorrow!! I’m so excited I could pee a little. So, this ten-mile race is one that Dan and I also ran last year, but we didn’t train for it at all and I walked off the course at the seven-mile mark. NOT SO this year, amigos! I have totally been running and I am ready to kill it.
I’ve gotta pause here and give a shout out to Dan, before I tell you that I’m definitely going to kick his butt at the race. Dan was a professional basketball player for many years (and a D1 college basketball player before that) so he’s always been in great shape. But basketball is a totally different kind of running, and he was never a distance runner. Last year, when I decided to sign up for this ten-mile race, I let him know that I was doing it just as a heads-up. “Hey sweetie, I’m going to sign up for this ten mile race in March so that I do some running this winter.” Without missing a beat, Dan was like, “Sign me up, too.” This, coming from a guy who had never run more than four miles at a time, was a surprising reaction. But hey, you wanna run the race? You get to run the race. (YOU get a race, YOU get a race, EVERYBODY gets a race!) And he totally killed it! Neither of us trained, but Dan’s competitive spirit flared up pretty early and he made it through to the end (fighting tooth and nail with a couple of grannies for the last few miles, but he crossed that finish line). I don't know any other person who is so willing to commit to physical challenges outside their comfort zone, so kudos to you, husband.
Fast forward to this year, I asked Dan if he wanted to run the race again and he immediately said yes. I assured him that we would actually train this year. The first few weeks we did some short runs together, but Dan likes to run first thing in the morning and I…don’t. So we started each doing our own thing. And my thing involved a training schedule that I followed pretty closely, and Dan’s thing mostly involved a handful of four-mile runs here and there. As the race got closer I started to bug him more about training ("Hey…you…ya gonna go for a run today? Gonna maybe do a longer run this week?") And Dan always said, “Of course!” And then mostly didn’t. But last week Dan insisted that he would not be outdone at the Hot Dash. Despite my clearly superior training, he was adamant that he would be finishing the race at my side. Which I obviously found incredibly offensive. So, the stakes have been raised in our house, and tomorrow is the day of judgment. Always fueled by competition, Dan did go for a six-mile run this week and came out at 9:30 a mile, so maybe he’s going to be more competitive than I thought. Then again, I'm pretty competitive myself. Stay tuned for the recap next week.
That's all for today, ducklings. Have a wonderful weekend!
P.S. As a reward for making it all the way to the end of this post, you get a sneak preview of the house reveal. This is a before/after of one of the areas that fell victim to the wallpaper fiasco, but from this distance you can't even see the bubbles. Good thing the "before" set the bar so low, eh?
Hi friends! I've realized as I've started posting more recipes that there are a lot of ingredients I've incorporated into my cooking in the last year that I wasn't familiar with before the Whole 30, and I've gotten some questions about where we buy our food and how I stock my pantry. I hope this post will be helpful to anyone considering incorporating more paleo foods into their diet, or just re-examining how you shop for yourselves and your family.
I do all the grocery shopping for our family, mostly because I enjoy it and because I do almost all of the cooking, so it makes sense for me to also buy the ingredients. I shop in three main ways: from Amazon.com, from Thrive Market (also online) and in-person at Costco or our local grocery stores. Our menus do vary seasonally because we eat a lot of produce, but there are definitely staples that are always in my kitchen, and things I've learned to keep on hand because they make for a quick dinner when I don't have anything planned and am trying to throw a meal together at the last minute. This post is going to focus on what I buy from Amazon and Thrive Market, and a follow-up post will talk about what we buy from Costco and our local grocery stores (just to keep it from getting too long). In general, I buy a lot of snacks and staple foods from Amazon and Thrive, and then obviously buy all of our fresh foods (meat, produce, etc.) from our local stores.
The big benefits to Amazon are that they stock basically any ingredient you can think of, they ship to wherever you are (so if it's hard for you to get to specialty grocery stores, you can still access interesting ingredients from Amazon) and they don't require a subscription, so it's very low-commitment. We do have Amazon Prime because I order from Amazon a lot and the free shipping is worth it for us, but you could just as easily use Amazon without the Prime membership. I use Subscribe and Save to get a box shipment every month with some of our staple items, including:
Epic Mountain Medley Trail Mix: The obvious downside to this product is that it's expensive, but buying grass-fed beef whenever we can is important to me, and these pouches are big enough to stand in for a meal if I'm running around, or to be split into several snacks. They are re-sealable and easy to throw in a bag or keep a few in your desk drawer. Plus, with subscribe and save, I save 15-20% on my orders.
Barney Butter Almond Butter Packs: This almond butter isn't perfectly paleo because it does have some added sugar, but I love the convenience of the to-go packet and I like that these packets are smaller than the single-serve almond butter packs I've found elsewhere. It's also delicious, and makes a great snack paired with an apple or a banana. Or by itself, straight out of the pack. I also Subscribe and Save these.
Go Raw Choco Sprouted Cookies: I'll be honest, these really aren't cookies. But they're delicious, crunchy, and an easy and filling snack to keep in my desk. You get six bags of them with this order, so I subscribe and save them but only have them delivered every few months.
Wild Planet Wild Sardines: Sardines are an awesome source of protein and calcium, they're super affordable, and they're sustainable and easy to find wild-caught. They're basically an ideal food, unless you're grossed out by fish. I can't help you there. But I love them, and feel great about buying them and eating them. I like the kind with lemon, and I also subscribe and save these.
Mauna Loa Macademia Nuts: I LOVE macademia nuts, and this is the best price I've been able to find on them (especially with the subscribe and save discount).
Garden of Life Raw Chocolate Protein: I stay away from whey protein because dairy upsets my stomach, and I suspect that it's the protein in dairy that I can't deal with. This protein is raw, vegan, gluten free, and organic, and tastes good. I don't take protein every day (and i go through phases where I don't take any) but I like this one and I always have it around.
Gluten free pastas, like this one: my family loves pasta, and while I often sub spaghetti squash or spiralized zucchini for myself, sometimes I want to eat pasta, too. I tend to like Amazon's offerings better than what I find in the store, especially for shapes like lasagna that I can never find, and their prices are usually better, too.
Outside of subscribe and save, I've used amazon to order lots of ingredients that I think will be hard to find in the store, from coconut aminos (the soy-free, gluten-free, paleo version of soy sauce) to nutritional yeast to golden flaxseed meal. I'm sure that I'm not always getting the best price on these items, but sometimes it's worth it to avoid the extra half hour in the grocery store (and end up walking out empty-handed).
Thrive is an online market with an annual membership fee of $59.95 that allows you to buy healthy, high-quality foods at wholesale prices. For every paying member, Thrive gives away a membership to a family in need for free (LOVE that). This membership may only make sense if Thrive offers a lot of foods that your family likes, but luckily you can find out by trying Thrive for 30 days for free before you commit to a membership. I find that tons of foods we enjoy are on Thrive, and it's also introduced me to new foods when I search by diet (you can search by "Paleo" or "gluten free" or "vegan" or "raw," "moms," or "staples"). I just started using Thrive a few months ago, but I can tell that it's going to be a good deal for us. Here's what I like to buy from them:
Lara Bars: we love lemon bar and coconut cream pie, and we rotate boxes so we don't get sick of the flavors. This is a go-to snack for both Dan and me, and Thrive offers them for $18.95 for a 12-pack. If you're not familiar with Lara Bars, they're made with dates and nuts (and a few other ingredients, depending on the flavor, but often less than five things and they're all recognizable, good ingredients).
Thrive tomato sauces: these are high-quality, organic, and delicious tomato sauces without any sugar or junk added, and the price on them is pretty good. Spaghetti is a go-to easy meal in my house--Kelly loves it, I can easily make pasta for Dan and Kelly and spaghetti squash or zoodles for me (or gluten free pasta for all of us) so having some frozen grass-fed ground beef in the freezer and this pasta sauce in the pantry is a must, at all times.
Paleonola: this is a paleo-friendly, grain free granola made with nuts, coconut, and other dried fruit (along with some coconut oil, spices, and honey/maple syrup). I almost don't have the words to describe how much I love it. It's delicious, satisfying, great straight out of the bag, or with almond milk, or with fruit. It's $7.45 for a bag, but the bag is decently-sized and a little goes a long way. I've tried the maple pancake, original, and chocolate flavors and loved them all, and I have the apple crisp flavor in my pantry to try next. I think this is going to be a regular in my pantry from now on.
Primal Kitchen Salad Dressings: these are paleo-friendly and delicious salad dressings, at a decent price-point. Sometimes I'm feeling fancy enough that I want to try to make my own salad dressing, but more often than not dressings and sauces are things I'd much rather purchase. These totally fit the bill.
Coconut butter: Thrive's price beats Amazon's. I hadn't used coconut butter until the last few months, but I'm really coming to love it.
Matcha powder: as featured in my matcha smoothie bowl. Superfood, super yummy.
Tiger Nuts: these actually aren't nuts at all, they're little tubers. They taste sweet when you chew them, but the texture is similar to eating a peanut shell. I just ordered these and still haven't made up my mind about them, but I'll follow up.
Snip Chips: These are an item I never would have discovered if I hadn't been a Thrive member (same to the tiger nuts) and they're delicious. They're little crunchy clusters made from parsnips and coconut with different spices/flavorings. They're also just flat out overpriced. This bag realistically has one, maybe two servings in it. But they're yummy, and I'll order them occasionally.
Nut-Thins: these are not paleo, but I absolutely love them and they are way cheaper on Thrive than at my local grocery store. They're gluten free and will be enjoyed here much more regularly at $2.55 a box.
Angie's Boom Chicka Pop: This is my family's favorite kettle corn, and one of my favorite (non-paleo, but gluten free) treats. Again, cheaper than at the store.
Thrive also has all sorts of other products that I haven't explored fully yet, from bath and cleaning products to essential oils, to makeup products, to baby and pet supplies.
And that's it! Are you exhausted? That was a haul. Next time I'll post about what things I buy from Costco and our local grocery stores. Promise that post will have more photos.
Man alive, friends, it has been a crazy week. Sometimes I think long weekends just make the short week more hectic, because everyone comes back rested and ready to go on Monday and things get NUTS. No? Just me? Ok then.
If you don't live in a house that was built in 1920, it's possible this post will be of limited value to you. BUT, what I learned through doing this project is that it's surprisingly easy to paint metal in a way that is (allegedly) durable, even for a surface that's going to get hot, so this post could have all sorts of applications for other metal things that you might want to paint. There are lots of spray paints that are specifically designed for metal, but we didn't have the option to take this radiator outside (both because it was too cold for spray paint and because these radiators are HEAVY and we weren't going to be moving it more than a few feet).
I found myself repainting this radiator because we're in the middle of a bathroom remodel and the radiator was removed from the bathroom so a tile floor could be put down. Since it was out of the way and not going to be getting hot any time soon, it was the perfect time to clean it up. Plus, I liked the gold color but the beat-up finish was going to look especially dingy next to brand new, shiny tile. So! Off to the Home Depot!
What we learned from our friendly Home Depot experts is that you do need to buy a special undercoat to ensure that the paint you're using will stick to the metal and hold fast when the radiator heats and cools--but the undercoat goes on just like regular paint and is super easy to use. Here's what it looks like (we had them tint ours yellow since we were using gold paint).
So, start by cleaning off your radiator really well, and chipping off the loose pieces of paint. Here are some before pictures of ours:
One thing about radiators is they're secretly designed for hiding families of dust bunnies on their inner coils. Do the best you can with cleaning that sucker out, but mine was not perfect (I know I have a radiator brush somewhere, but I did not find it for this project). Once the radiator is clean and dry, slap a layer of that Glidden Gripper over the entire thing (I used a regular old paint brush and it worked great).
Let that layer dry for an hour, and then follow it with two coats of your paint color of choice (letting the second coat dry according to the directions on your paint can before you paint the third layer). I started with a Ralph Lauren gold from Home Depot, but it turned out to be a very bright yellow (think "follow the yellow brick road" gold, or "pimp gold," if you will) and I was going for something more muted. This is the gold paint I used in the end, which is available at Target:
And that's all there is to it! Admire your beautiful new-old radiator.
I'm definitely going to repaint some of the other radiators in our house now that I know how easy this is, but I'll wait until summer so they're not hot while I'm painting (I'm not an expert here, but I don't think that's a great idea). I supposed you could also just close the radiator and let it cool down, but we have plenty of other house projects to attend to in the meantime. Hoping to start revealing some rooms soon!
In December we bought our dream home, and four weeks ago we moved in. It's funny, because when we first walked through the house we were so thrilled with the beautifully-preserved 1920s woodwork that when people asked me if the new house needed a lot of work, I heard myself say, "No! It's in great shape!" And then later I thought about the fact that we're going to refinish the wood floors...and gut the bathroom...and replace the kitchen appliances, countertops, flooring, and backsplash...and paint all the walls...and replace the light fixtures...all right away. So, basically, we're keeping the kitchen cabinets. And not knocking down any walls. Yet.
The house is a duplex in Uptown, close to the restaurants and lakes that we love but on a fairly quiet, family-friendly street. Our plan is to live in it as a duplex for a while, and eventually convert it to a single-family home when we need more space. It has the classic, old-Minneapolis charm that we love, and with the updates to the kitchen and the bathroom it's becoming the perfect home for us.
But, it will surprise no one to know, home renovations can be a pain. Our kitchen has been in various states of disarray over the last few weeks, and we've been without a shower for close to two weeks now (we should be through that phase in a few days, but in the meantime I've been taking advantage of the showers in the gym at work, which are...not great). My plan is to reveal rooms on the blog as they're finished, but between the drop cloths to protect the floors from the contractors' trips to the dumpster and the rooms that are halfway finished, I can't really call anything an "after" photo yet. So, here are some before and during pics--can't wait to share more as we get further along!
Mostly, I can't wait to get our kitchen up and running again so I can share some good recipes! Without a working oven, the options are pretty limited. I thought about taking a picture of the pathetic-excuse-for-a-lunch I made in the microwave today (pro tip: you can cook eggs in the microwave, but it's not what I would call the "recommended method") just to let you see what I'm dealing with, but I thought better of it.
I hope you all had a lovely weekend! Chewy and I went for a run on Saturday, but he was too distracted by the snow and the other dogs (and squirrels! and rabbits! and people!) enjoying Lake Calhoun to be a good running partner, so I mostly spent the four miles being pulled in various directions and breathlessly apologizing to people that he jumped on. To make up for that sorry showing, Dan and I left the pup at home today and went for another run, this time with beautiful sunny weather. We also went to see The Revenant yesterday, which I just cannot recommend. I guess if you're really into the idea of wilderness survival, give it a shot? Or if you're really into the idea of watching Leonardo DiCaprio grunt/scream for two hours and forty-five minutes? I spent most of the movie hoping it would end soon, and/or thinking about how Leo's hair should really be nominated for an Oscar, because his dirty bangs were definitely doing the lion's share of the acting. Dan loved it.