We have been living through a kitchen remodel.  We are not complaining about the overall remodel…we feel super fortunate to be able to do it, despite the home equity loan, and will love having a kitchen that is perfect for us once we are done. But for people who are used to cooking from scratch at least twice a day, and frequently 3 times, plus baking treats and desserts, not having a kitchen has been trying.

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Morning of demolition

The primary reason why we undertook the remodel of the kitchen is that Martha has undergone a number of spine surgeries and is now living with a need for physical accommodation and accessibility in order to be able to work alone in the kitchen. She cannot bend, cannot reach up high and cannot lift more than a few pounds. This means she can no longer reach low cabinets, can only reach somewhat higher shelves with a reacher or a stool, cannot lift up things like a mixer or a pot full of water and in what we hope is the unlikely event of Martha being in a wheelchair for any length of time, the kitchen would not be easily navigable for her.   Anyway, the kitchen looked lovely, but was no longer safe or effective for solitary Martha utilization.

Before
Before!

As a general rule, we eat pretty healthy.  We eat tons of vegetables, cook things from scratch, do not eat processed foods usually and enjoy foods that are varied.  In addition, Kevin has to eat gluten free and primarily lactose free. Both of us feel a lot better when we are avoiding refined sugar, wheat, and most dairy and eating legumes only occasionally.  This way of eating is pretty close to a Paleo diet but closer to “Primal” (which is Paleo plus high quality dairy) and we are not zealots about it but have honestly found that we feel better.  So long story shorter, both of us enjoy cooking, both of us feel better when we eat lots of veggies and a variety of other fresh foods, and both of are better off avoiding certain foods.

So, we hoped to be able to stick to a pretty health diet without an actual kitchen. Our initial plan was to set up an outdoor kitchen on our deck and use the grill, a steel table, and our instant pot or slow cooker out there.  The first thing we learned is that the outlets on the deck were turned off when the electricity to the kitchen was turned off. So much for that plan.  What ended up happening is we used a mixture of rooms and spaces.  Microwave in the living room (yup. On the marble topped table from Kevin’s late mother), above the white carpet. Dishes in the laundry room sink, which was okay except the counter in the laundry room is virtually non-existent and there are not enough outlets in there to plug in the appliances we wanted to use, which were the electric kettle, the coffee maker and the blender. Refrigerator in the garage. The grill, which is propane, did work still on the deck but it turned out grilling every day was not as fun as we thought and was not as effective for breakfast.  The Instant Pot idea was still reasonable but to Martha’s distress, the best counter space and outlet turned out to be in the guest bathroom. With contractors in and out of the house every day, shutting down that bathroom was not an option and cooking IN the bathroom made Martha squeamish.

Bacon.
Bacon cooking in the great outdoors. You’re welcome neighbors.
camp kitchen
Camp stove on a piece of plywood on top of a saw horses.

So…how did healthy eating go? Not that well to be honest.  We did a steel cut oatmeal in the instant pot, an Instant Pot chili, and Instant Pot stew, quite a few grilled meats, many smoothies…and a bunch of “rip apart a rotisserie chicken and add some baby carrots” type of meals, and a bunch of take out.  Kevin created a “camp kitchen” in the garage and made a few yummy dinners and some breakfast eggs there but the “counter space” arrangement involved here was not ideal, it was not close to a sink, could not be really left unattended for long for safety reasons, and of course still no oven. We did some healthy takeout, but honestly it got old and expensive very quickly.  Even healthy takeout gets cold, and old quickly.  We had much more food that we would usually avoid as the kitchen renovation timeline went on. And we really missed our oven, and our counter space, and our sink with disposal.  These are “first world problems” to be sure and we totally understand that we are lucky to have these problems to complain about.  But boy, we are looking forward to “after!”

Guest bathroom Instant Pot
Guest bathroom Instant Pot…the only time Martha could stand doing this.
Kitchen demolished
Kitchen interrupted

 

   Camping, Finally…Fall in the Colorado Mountains

We finally have gotten around to camping this year. While we would have liked to go much more, Martha’s surgeries this year made that impossible. We do try to get out and camp at least every Columbus Day weekend, and we were happy that we were able to do that. . We stayed at Spruce Grove Campground in western Sedalia, Colorado, near Tarryall  Resevoir. This campground is part of the Pike National Forest and it is really just stunning.

Our camper is a 2016 Lance  model 1995 /w 4seasons package. This package includes better insulation and heated tanks. Last year we ran out of propane and woke up very cold…multiple times, actually. This year we made sure the tanks were both full. As the camper has spent the last year sitting, Kevin double-checked all the systems were working properly. He would do this anyway, even with regular use.

              

The trip to the campground takes, generally, 2 – 21/2 hours, depending on traffic. We left early Friday afternoon. The entrance is easy to drive by. Spruce grove is small but scenic. The sites are mostly level. Setting up our camper takes about 20 – 30 minutes. We were set up by 4.

After we set up we went for a short ride to see the foliage. We stopped at the out flow of the dam the creates the Tarryall Reservoir. We let the dogs wander a bit and took a few photos.

The aspen were quite something. On the way back to camp, Kevin took mental note of the dirt roads, off the main road, for future exploration. Back at the camp site, Kevin took the dogs for a walk and to see who was there. There were not many people that night. We had a nice meal of sausage, onions and peppers with Shiratake noodles. It was very tasty and the noodles  added good texture to the meal. It also rained and was in the 30’s in the morning.

There next day we slept in a bit, because there was no reason not to. Kevin did take the pups out during the night and at first light. After  a hearty breakfast of hash, eggs and bacon and some chatting, we headed out to Buena Vista, to the Brown Dog for snacks and beverages. There is a dog walk area near the regional airport nearby and it was uncrowned, which was nice for the dogs.

After a walk with the dogs we headed back up 24 to 285 towards FairPlay, where we filled up with gas.  We  drove up to Jefferson and turned onto 77 to head back to camp. Back at camp we made a fire and sat by it for a bit, before we added some things to the prior night’s supper, made a salad and settled in for the night. . 

We rented a Honda generator for this trip. The generator was quite quiet and welcome as the heater was run in the evening, and to charge the batteries.

Sunday morning we lazily packed up, hitched up and went home, smelling like the campfire. We can think of a lot worse things.