Category Archives: Homebody

Cavegirl

Sheila treated me to a homemade meal this week that was too colorful and delicious not to photograph:

For poaching fish

Citrus!

Dill

Fishy

Yum

Salmon, poached with dill and lemon; roasted acorn squash; plantains with cinnamon

This paleo/primal way of eating is tricky. Whole milk in my morning coffee, grilling sausage for dinner, eating cheese or greek yogurt when I want an afternoon snack? All fantastic. I am satisfied eating much less, with much more fat in my diet. My skin is clearer. My cravings are changing. I’m enjoying eating foods I’d previously banned on some ridiculous fatty prohibited list.

If I never eat a no/low-fat cookie, yogurt, ice cream sandwich again — it will be too soon. Bring on the fat. Hold the sugar.

That said — this way of eating is not convenient. Just like any significant behavior change, it takes a commitment and preparation. Working from home, I spend a lot of time now in coffee shops with wifi. Empty carbs are cheap and prolific. I can’t just have a bagel for breakfast. If there aren’t eggs on the menu, I’m either going hungry, or I’d better hope I remembered to grab something before I left the house. A wrap for lunch won’t work. Pizza for dinner isn’t happening.

Yet the benefits are worthwhile. When I move into my own little homestead (with wifi and a coffee pot) that produces vegetables and eggs from the yard? Well. It will make this all that much more convenient.

Who knew eating like a knuckle dragger would be so satisfying?

~K

 

Pantry Dreams

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I am an organization freak. I always have been. I can’t get out of a bed without making it (sometimes even at hotels). I wipe down the bathroom counter every single time. I have a google doc that tracks car repair and maintenance. (I once got two transmission flushes in a six month period because I didn’t have such a system.) My spices might be alphabetized.

Yeah. I’m nuts. For a long time I hid this, or attempted to, as to not have my OCD nature yet another point of critique. But recently I’ve come to the conclusion that we are all nuts. And life is just so much more interesting and fun when you let your freak flag fly. So, guess what? I love to clean. I love to organize. The Container Store? Better than a trip to Tiffany’s. Seriously. (No mining guilt!)

I have pipe dreams of having a side business organizing other’s spaces. There are some very specific tools and habits to keeping an organized home or workplace. And once these become routine, you are set. Plus, I look at these small daily changes in behavior as prevention.

  • Put in two minutes today to sort through mail, recycling every single bit of paper you don’t need, canceling catalogs, paying bills — you don’t end up with a pile the size of Everest on a Saturday afternoon with late fees and precious, sunny weekend hours wasted inside sorting.
  • Keep a “Goodwill” bag in your closet. Every time you add a new piece of clothing, you agree to donate. No one was infinite closet space. This limits shopping too; you only have so many hangers.
  • Make those hangers the same brand and color. Face your clothing all the same direction. You’ll be shocked how many new combinations you are able to create with the same materials.
  • Google docs and calendars are ideal for tracking birthdays and other important events. Make a plan on the 25th of each month to write out cards for the next month — with stamps and addresses handy. Then mail in two batches. Send thank you cards at this time too. I keep a running list. People don’t care when the card arrives; they want to know you thought of them. And a handwritten note might was well come licked by T-Rex, they are so rare.
  • Burn your CDs. Buy a backup hard drive. Buy another one. Get rid of your CDs.
  • Use the library. Clear your shelves of books you don’t plan on ever using again. Donate generously.
  • Clean out your wallet at least once a week. Face bills. Sort receipts. Keep a supply of stamps.
  • Minimize your cleaning supplies. Bleach, vinegar, coarse salt, lemon juice, a couple good rags and Magic Erasers. You don’t need much more.
  • Keep a trash bag in your car; empty it regularly. Keep a towel in the trunk. Wipe down your dash when things get hairy. This towel is also particularly great for the occasional $2 car wash. I run through these quarter car washes about once a month.

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When a friend recently asked me for some tips on how to be more organized, I started with an especially tricky space. Organizing a small space is even more of a fun challenge. A pantry under the stairs? One with deep shelves? Bring it.

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I started by pulling everything out and grouping like items. I spent $15 on two shelves (one long, to hold baby food and formula) and the other for canned goods, and one basket — for granola bars. Because in Colorado, one cannot have too many granola bars.

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Some 20 minutes later — voila. Because the shelves are long, I organized like items deep. In other words, they are stacked behind each other to the very back of the shelf. Use one, pull the next one forward. But here is the trick about organizing: this will only work if the behavior changes too. You have to learn to work with a new system to make it a system.

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If this were my pantry — I’d paint the inside of the door with chalkboard paint and keep a running grocery list.

And yes, I know. It’s nuts I took so much pleasure from this project. And yet? Better. Much, much better. Organization, cleanliness and frugality are the trinity of a smart home.

(Freak flag at full mast. )

~K

 

Organizing

I have a lot of jewelry. I’d guess the sum total value of all of it is less than $200, but the sentimental value of the beads I traded for on the streets of Bamenda, the earrings I brought back from the Philippines, my grandmother’s turquoise bracelet — you get the idea.

You say toolbox, I say jewelry wrangler!

How to move these small items without causing a kinky, knotty nightmare?

You say toolbox, I say jewelry wrangler!

You say toolbox, I say jewelry wrangler!

It is far from glamourous, but a couple of these tool drill bit boxes from the local hardware store worked beautifully. Plus, they stack nicely and can slide under a bed if necessary.

This move is feeding the very type A, over-organized happy side of me. If I was a superhero, my scream for forward march would not be “Onward Ho!,” but “To the Container Store!”

~K

 

Dinner + Doggies

I hosted a couple friends and their owners last night for dinner on the patio. We enjoyed a new recipe — cochinita tacos — from a recipe I got out of a waiter at Gallo Blanco. (Pork shoulder, can of Coke, can of Negro Modelo, onion, garlic, any other veggies you want — Dutch oven for 3 hours at 300.) I also did my best impression of a radish and honey appetizer I had at FNB the other day that was a delightful mix of flavors. And greens from the farmer’s market.

There is something rather awesome about coming home to a pot of wonder bubbling on the stove (I prepped, Matt put it in the oven), a fridge full of locally grown vegetables and a patio begging for some attention. Throw in a handful of people I consider family, a sky full of stars and two of the sweetest dogs on earth at our feet? Simply perfect.

Always the start to something good

So colorful

Greens and pinks

Greens

Cooked for 3 hours

Pork Shoulder

Radishes + honey

I’m making the same pot of pork for Adam’s birthday tomorrow. I’ll modify the recipe with a can of diced pineapple too. Shredded on tortillas with a bit of avocado? Divine.

~K

Leeks Are Just Giant Fancy Green Onions, Right?

BBQ Chicken Pizza w/ leeks

BBQ Chicken Pizza w/ leeks

BBQ Chicken Pizza w/ leeks

BBQ Chicken Pizza w/ leeks

BBQ Chicken Pizza w/ leeks

And that is how with one quick run to Costco, you “cook” BBQ chicken pizza at home. I probably could have ordered one from the local pizza shop and it would have been healthier, but wowza — this was good. Without green onions, I browned leeks, onions and garlic. With shredded rotisserie chicken and a bit of bbq sauce — heaven.

The crowd was pleased.

I’m looking forward to spending time in the sun this afternoon with the leftovers and a good book.

Winner, winner, BBQ chicken dinner.

~K

Baby Steps + Focus = Superwoman

I promised a friend recently that I would do a month-long “cleanse.” This included eliminating caffeine, alcohol, dairy and wheat from my diet for a month. Why I even bother to say I will try to do these sorts of things is beyond me. Is it that am so delusional, I think I’m going to wake up with Superwoman discipline and will power?

I made it a day. And then “one splurge” turned into “one bad day” turned into “aw, hell. Forget it. ” One day. As in 27 days short of the challenge. (She even picked a short month.)

I’m a creature of habit and as much as I’d like to have the body of an Athleta model, it isn’t happening this week. Although I continue to kill myself at the gym and with my running group, and make small changes here and there.  Typically, when craving Mexican food — I round up a few willing bodies and head to Gallo Blanco or Macayo’s for a $40 sodium feast. Guacamole, margaritas, chips, salsa, huevos rancheros. Zero guilt. I had a hard day. I earned that meal. I deserved it.

Never mind I’d wake up the next morning sick to my stomach, bloated and grumpy for my run. Like clockwork. If this were food math: night of splurging on Mexican food + margaritas = discomfort/bloating/misery. If this were my reasoning math: just because it happened the last 50 times  ≠ tomorrow I’ll feel gross.

Not surprisingly, math was never my strong subject. But fueled by a broken promise and a bit of shame,  I’m making compromises. Such as veggie tostadas on toasted flatbread with a glass of wine. Portion control, fresh veggies in lieu of chips, no salted rims. Still zero guilt. I still deserved it. And no stomach ache or regret the next day. (Who knew?)

This recipe is so yummy, simple and easy — you just need to the photos to follow along:

Healthy Veggie Tostadas

Healthy Veggie Tostadas

Healthy Veggie Tostadas

Healthy Veggie Tostadas

Healthy Veggie Tostadas

Healthy Veggie Tostadas

Healthy Veggie Tostadas

Healthy Veggie Tostadas

Healthy Veggie Tostadas

Healthy Veggie Tostadas

Ole!

~K

Rolling in Dough

Juliann, Jennie and I got together yesterday to try out Juliann’s new pasta attachment on le KitchenAid. Several hours, many laughs and a couple of bottles of wine later…

Pasta Making! Pasta Making!

Pasta Making! Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

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Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Pasta Making!

Delicioso!

This was actually so much fun, it almost made me reconsider my superstitious notions of owning a KitchenAid pre-marriage. Almost.

~K

He’s Handy

The gate, before

I have a bunch of fixes that need to be done around my small home. Some of them scare me (electric, plumbing) to try myself. Some I’m just clueless where to start (cutting new screening for a window, replacing a bathroom cabinet.) I finally resorted to requesting handyman recommendations from friends on Twitter when Matty caught wind of my plans.

To say his ego was wounded was a bit of an understatement.

A HANDYMAN?!  WHAT WAS HE?

Um, my friend? My roommate? Not someone I would expect to use power tools?

YOU ARE GOING TO PAY SOMEONE FOR THIS?

Adios, old, saggy gate

Once the all-CAPS screamy voice stopped, I asked if he’d consider building a new garden gate. The current gate is old and sagging. The wood is warped and it no longer opened entirely because the length had sagged lower than the height of the exterior walkway. In other words, it was real damn annoying to use and we’d been doing so for years.

Amazed I own tools

He works

He works

Welcome to the gun show, ladies

Enter Matt, the African educated golfer who swooped into the hardware store and $30 and 2 hours later created an entirely new gate.

The end! New Gate!

There was much personal satisfaction from this little project and much admiration and fawning on my part. I honestly would start this sort of project in a burst of enthusiasm and end up in the ER with 8 fingers. He made it look easy. And in all fairness, from what he says, African prep school is far more practical. They didn’t spend nearly as much time learning useless theorems when they could have been learning how to replace a farm’s water pump, a car engine and apparently — basic carpentry.

Makes my senior year of creative writing look pretty shabby by comparison. Or does it? I did creatively sweet talk him into building the gate with all too effective threat of hiring another man to get the work done.

I’d say I won this little round…

~K

Kelli’s Law

Cooking

You are familiar with Murphy’s law. And perhaps even my friend Adam’s law. (“Some people say, ‘You make your own luck.’ Most of those people are pretentious assbags.”) This weekend I finally figured out my very own.

Cooking

Kelli’s law goes a bit something like this: over-think the task at hand, create lists and schedules and completely stress yourself out when these don’t fall into place as planned, reject all compliments given concerning the final project because in your mind it wasn’t 100%, and call the entire thing a failure. Regardless, the majority of those around you have no clue you are so upset — otherwise, you’d be adding that guilt to your plate too.  Instead, be the whiny martyr and smile through your aggravation only to blog about it later.

Homemade pesto

Appetizers

My parents are in town. I’ve been excited about their visit for weeks and invited some of our closest family friends over for dinner Friday night. Of course, my parents wanted to go out and I wouldn’t hear of it. So I took Friday off from work and spent the morning shopping, chopping, cooking, cleaning and planning. These are not chores in my mind; I am my happiest in the domestic habitat.

Chicken parm

The meal included pesto and olives on baguettes with wine for an appetizer, chicken parmigiana and creamy pumpkin pasta and spinach salad for the main course, and spicy mexican brownies for dessert.

Creamy Pumpkin pasta

We sat on the patio under the stars and ate by candlelight. Decanters of wine flowed and the conversation was plentiful. And while I wish I could relax a bit and admit I pulled this off, I can’t. I wish the food had been warmer, the linens on the table had matched and a few other things had gone the way I’d planned. I fully recognize I’m letting my perfectionist tendencies ruin what was otherwise considered a great night, but alas, that is why this is Kelli’s law.

Family

Happy customers: my papi, Martha, my mami, Martha Jr., and Alberto.

Every drive yourself crazy with your own kooky behavior? I’d love to hear them. Leave a comment and I’ll pick one for a Thanksgiving apron later this week.

~K