5 Tips To Survive Your Home Renovation

Reality is never quite like its depicted in the movies or tv shows, right?

And this couldn’t be any more true than during a home renovation.

It takes much longer and is much more of a pain in the butt than you will ever see in a tv show. Is it worth it in the end? Absolutely. But let’s talk about a few things you can expect during your renovation to better prepare you for what’s coming.

Let’s keep it simple and discuss the renovation most folks would be doing, a kitchen renovation.

A. It’s going to be a mess

This is an absolute guarantee. Not only the mess of having to clear your countertops and move all of your cabinet contents to another room and having to live like that for a few weeks, but the fine dust from any sheetrock or wood work (that seems to get everywhere). You will think that hanging plastic or drop cloths will help contain the mess, but you would be wrong. You will still have to dust and vacuum everything when it’s all done. So just plan on it.
You’re basically going to be living on a construction site, if you’ve never been on one, it ain’t pretty. If you can tell yourself ahead of time and remind yourself often that its going to be a mess, and not fight it or try to control it, you’re going to have a much better renovation experience.
Just embrace it, (yes, I realize how difficult that can be) clean up when you can and remind yourself its part of the process. No, really!

B. It will be inconvenient

You don’t realize how much you use your kitchen sink until you don’t have one. You also don’t realize how difficult to is to cook without a sink. My best advice is to plan your meals way in advance for the days you will be without a sink and countertops, than add a few days so you don’t lose your mind when the schedule gets extended. Also, get paper plates, cups and plasticware and plan for as few meals as possible where you don’t have to use the sink or stove. (You want to be real careful with what you allow to wash down your bathroom drain.)

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I set up a few tables in my dining room (during our reno) with the dishes and cups etc. that we use most often but I ended up using disposable items the majority of the time.

Catrina At Home Kitchen renovation
Also, you will want to set up a table with food and items that you use everyday, like vitamins, cereal, bottled water, snacks, etc..

C. It’s not going to go as planned

This is probably more important than anything else I write here. The reason things will not go as planned is because you’re working with humans. Plain and simple. LOL
Get a schedule laid out with your contractor of what is happening and when, but understand that it will likely just be a guideline.
Let me give you an example, today is Wednesday, I typically write a post every Wednesday night in my downstairs office. But right now I’m in my dining room and the guys that were supposed to install my countertop on Monday (a date we set three weeks ago) are walking back and forth from my front door to the kitchen, installing my counters.
They didn’t work on Monday because it was Labor day, we found out on Monday. Then they called to say they weren’t going to be able to make it on Tuesday either.
So here we are on Wednesday, it’s after 5pm and I’m a little concerned. Why you ask? Because the guy who is coming to spray the exterior of our cabinets is coming at 6pm today and they still have a ways to go, plus I still have to tape off the cabinets in the kitchen. My painter/cabinet maker is coming today because he could’t come yesterday as planned.
These are all great guys, they do good work and we recommend them to others but things come up and other jobs take longer than they should and that means it might take longer to get to your house than planned.
Don’t take it personal, expect that there will be hiccups, plan for possible delays and you will sail through your reno like a pro.

D. If you are a DIYer, know when to hire out

There are no brownie points for killing yourself. I totally understand saving money when you can but know what your limits are and hire out when you can.
Another example, I knew we could handle sanding and painting the inside of the cabinets and shelves but I knew right from the start that I wanted the outsides to be professionally sprayed with lacquer paint.

Catrina At Home Kitchen renovation

I also knew we could handle floating the walls but wanted to leave the cabinet crown molding to our cabinet guy who does it every day. I wouldn’t let anyone but me touch our 100-year-old doors and casings that needed to be restored but we will likely hire out the floor refinishing.
It would be better to save up to have someone else do the jobs you don’t feel 100% qualified to do than to waste a heck of a lot of time and energy and still have to hire someone to come in and do the job properly, after you ‘finish.’

E. ‘Install day’ is going to be crazy

Install day is when your cabinets and counters are installed. If you want to help the process go smoothly, try to stay out of the way. lol
Don’t hover and watch their every move, let them do their work so they can get out of your way. Stay close by if they have any questions but this ain’t their first rodeo, trust them to get the job done.

Catrina At Home Kitchen renovation

Having said that, don’t settle if you don’t like the way something is going. Find out who is in charge and politely ask questions if something is different than what you agreed to. You don’t have to live with poor craftsmanship, communicate your concerns before they leave for the day.
Install day is also going to be when you want to go back and read A. again.

Remember, things often will look worse before they look better.

It’s going to be noisy, dusty and crazy pants. Your cabinet guys and your granite/countertop guys are all going to be coming and going and tracking dust everywhere. Try not to focus on it, it’s part of the process, let them finish and then you can clean to your heart’s content.

As with everything, keep your eyes on the prize! Don’t get distracted by the dust and inconvenience, much like it is, I’m sure with having a child, once the child is born the pain of childbirth is long forgotten.

I hope these tips have been helpful!
Have you been through a kitchen renovation? What would you add to my list?

Blessings,
Catrina

 

 

The Declutter Project

I’ve got no photos for this post (I know, unheard of these days) .. because who wants to see photos of clutter?

Not me.

Since January 2016, I’ve been on a major decluttering spree. Like MAJOR. Giving stuff away, throwing stuff away and selling stuff on eBay and craigslist.

I have no idea how I can be a year and a half into this and still so far to go, but its true.

When the heck did I become such an accumulator? I grew up with nothing! Seriously!       I know early on in my marriage, holding on to stuff was likely a residual effect of my childhood but that was a long time ago! I have no excuse anymore. None.

My husband and I just recently wrapped up an Estate Sale that we did for a friend who had lived in her house for 30+years. That’s a long time to accumulate stuff. Being around all that STUFF for over two weeks as we prepped for the sale has really made us get even more serious about decluttering our home.

We’ve been posting things on Craigslist and eBay like crazy this past week! Making a little cash and clearing stuff out!

Here are my tips for starting the simplifying and decluttering process:

  1. If you’re overwhelmed, start small. with a drawer, a closet or a single cupboard. Don’t move on till you complete that small project. Celebrate that success and keep going.
  2. Start with just fifteen minutes a day. Set a timer if you want but don’t stop till the timer goes off.
  3. Ask yourself these questions when you’re finding it tough to get rid of something: Do I love it? Am I using it? Have I used it in the past 6 months? Do I have multiples of this? Is it broken? Am I keeping this out of obligation or guilt?
  4. Don’t forget to declutter your furniture, too! That stray bookcase or hand me down end table… or the dreaded treadmill (that you know you’re not using) need to go. All of that can go on Craigslist, in a garage sale or to the Goodwill.

When we simplify our lives and declutter our homes we will literally feel lighter. Stuff has a way of weighing down not only our physical space but our mental and emotional space.

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try it!

You just may make a few bucks selling stuff you don’t need and find new peace of mind you didn’t know was possible just by simplifying.

 

xo,

Catrina

 

3 Tips For a Brighter Christmas Tree

Have you ever noticed that some Christmas trees seem so much brighter than others? Well, if you’re wanting to know how to brighten your  tree, you’re in luck. I have three simple ways to brighten your Christmas tree.

1. Add more lights

This one may seem obvious, but have you tried it?

Even if you have a pre-lit tree, running a string of lights up the center of the tree will add dimension and back light your ornaments for a brighter tree. But unless you’re interested in removing all your ornaments and running another strings of lights on your tree, this tip would be best used as you’re setting your tree up. Have no fear, though, these next two tips can still save the day.

2. Remove light blockers

Too many solid ornaments, pinecones or thick ribbon on a tree will block the light and cause your tree to look dark. Either greatly minimize the solid ornaments etc. or play with the lights a little bit to intentionally bring light in front of these light blockers.      Take a look at your tree? If it’s too dark, is your tree heavy on the light blockers?

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3. Add reflectors

Adding reflectors is a great way to maximize the light you already have on your tree. I find my old fashioned tin reflectors at estate sales, garage sales and thrift stores. They fit right over the lights and instantly brighten the tree.  They can also be found on eBay.

A great cheat for this is to use plenty of light colored, shiny, reflective ornaments. If you’re not up for a potentially brassy look that can sometimes come with reflective ornaments, just intersperse them with your preferred ornaments, variety adds dimension and dimension creates interest. If you want solid, non-reflective ornaments on your tree, make sure to add in light colored solids to help keep the tree bright.

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Remember- Dark absorbs, light reflects.                                                                                   Dark objects absorb the light on your tree and light objects reflect the light. If your tree is too dark, add some more lights, remove the light blocking objects and add in reflectors or light ornaments.

Bonus tip: layer your ornaments one, two and three deep on your tree (depending on the size, of course). Put those inner branches to work for you. This is a great way to use up extra ornaments while giving your tree depth and dimension. 

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I hope these tips were helpful to you, let me know how your tree brightening efforts pan out!

Merry Christmas,

Catrina

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Dairy-Free Whipped Cream

Can we just have a moment of silence for how my life has forever been changed?
I’m serious. Can you just read that title again?
A healthy, non-dairy alternative to whipped cream? Really?

I had completely given up all hope of ever having another parfait with fruit and whipped cream and so many other amazing concoctions since going grain and dairy-free in February of 2011. Not that I am complaining or anything, I happen to love being healthy (no tummy pains and 10 lbs. lighter) since giving up dairy, but still! You know I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it from time to time.

Enter the amazing awesomeness of Coconut Milk.

Ah, this deserves another moment of silence.
Shhhh, I’m silencing! :-)

Found in the Asian foods section of your grocery story, us Paleo/Primal/Lactose intolerant folks who have no desire to eat highly processed, sugary cool whip have found our pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Isn’t it a pretty rainbow? (Yup, I’m in that kind of mood.)
So, I made a quick video to show you just how easy this is.
And it really is easy..
You know I don’t do hard.. because life is hard enough, it shouldn’t be hard to get awesome food, right?
CLICK HERE TO WATCH- HOW TO MAKE WHIPPED CREAM WITH COCONUT MILK

I have just begun to dig in and play around with all the different possibilities this ingredient, in it’s many forms can offer, and I’m looking forward to coming up with some awesome foodstuffs! In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying it with a bowl of berries, or cherries.. yum! Or fresh pineapple, double yum! Or.. or.. yumness awaits at every turn, I can feel it. :-)

If you have Paleo/Primal/Lactose intolerant friends and family in your life, share this video with them, they will love you for it. (I know I would!!)

Happy cooking!
~Cat

Staying on track at a party

Even if you didn’t know what the date was, you would know the year-end holidays were right around the corner by all the articles that pop up about surviving holiday parties when you’re dieting. They’re everywhere. But as I’m writing this, we’re heading into Summer, which for my family means lots of back yard birthday bar-b-ques, etc.
So what do you do when you’re heading to an event where you know there’s going to be lots of forbidden foods? Do you just say, “oh, well.” and plan on getting back on track the next day? Do you try and tough it out? How much is too much?
So here are some standard tips:
1. Don’t go hungry.
2. Don’t drink your calories.
3. Don’t hang out by the food/snack table.
4. Allow yourself one small treat so you don’t feel deprived.
5. Offer to bring food to the event so you’ll at least know you have something to eat.
These are all good tips, but lets break these down a little bit..

1. Don’t go hungry.
I happen to think this is a really great tip (this also could be applied when going to the grocery store, by the way), because when we’re hungry, our defenses our down, we pretty much want to eat everything in site because, dang-it we’re hungry! Something happens when we get to that level of hunger, we don’t think as clearly, we stop thinking about our goals and all our hard work because all that’s on our mind is eating. This seems like such a simple tip, one that would be so easy to do, just grab 2-3 ounces of protein or a handful of nuts before you walk out the door so you’re not starving when you get there. But I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard people (who are trying to lose fat) say, “oh well, I can start over on Monday.” Or a hundred other ways to say- “I have no self control.”
You already know this but do you mind if I say it again?

Your success will be equal to your work

Little work will always equal little success and lots of hard work will always equal great success. This doesn’t just apply in the gym where we tend to think of the ‘work’ it also pertains to what we don’t do and what we don’t eat.  For me, that’s just as tough. But I approach an event or party the same way I approach a workout, with determination and grit. It’s no different to me. I want to succeed in my workout just as bad as I want to succeed in not getting off track at a party.

I’m sure you’ve probably heard that once you’ve tried something that’s forbidden (and this can apply to anything) it gets easier and easier to give in to it, till your defense is completely gone. Well, the opposite is also true, when you resist something that’s forbidden you get stronger and every time you resist it,
it gets easier and easier to do so, till it’s no longer a temptation.

Off the top of my head I have successfully stayed on track through 7 events in the last 2 months. What, am I counting? Uh… yeah! I love being able to say that. While so many around me are making excuses and already regretting, I’m holding the line. I’m just as proud of that number as I am for new personal records I set in my workouts.
So, that got a little long winded, bottom line: eat something healthy before you go (no really.. do it!) and approach your eating with the same determination that you do your workouts.

2. Don’t drink the kool-aid, i.e. stick to drinking water.
You’ve heard it a thousand times- don’t drink your calories, don’t drink your calories, don’t drink your calories. Right? You know that, right? :-) They’re more concentrated and you can easily go overboard with one sugary beverage (and who drinks just one soda?). So… what are you doing… drinking your calories? Try sticking to ice cold water (Yum!) or unsweetened ice tea with lemon to get you through, you’ll be glad you did.

3. Don’t hang out by the food/snack table.
This  is pretty obvious, but in case it’s not, let me explain. You’ve heard the expression- out of site out of mind, right? Well, that makes the opposite, also true. If its right there within eyesight and you can see the food and smell the food, etc. it’s almost impossible to resist getting seconds or thirds, or grazing when it’s so close by. It’s also, nearly impossible to stop thinking about the food and focusing on it and telling yourself- one more wont hurt. Just try getting your food, walking away from the table, sitting down with some friends and making the event about relationships and good times without the food being the focus. After all, it’s usually the conversations that make a get-together memorable, not the food.

4. Allow yourself one small treat so you don’t feel deprived.. well, maybe.
If you’re someone who can eat just one cookie or one small handful of chips, this tip is for you. If you’re not, it’s not. Some people can eat a very good meal even in the face of great temptation if they know they will get to have a small treat afterwords. Small being the key word. While others, cannot have that treat without it sending them into a downward spiral. So basically you need to be honest with yourself. You know you best. For me, it just depends on the day and I have to be honest on that day about which category I fall into. Typically though, I steer clear of all goodies and bad foods and go with an extra portion of fruit salad. While fruit is allowed on a Paleo/Primal diet, I don’t eat very much, so this would be a treat for me. This decision can really make or break your success, so decide before the event what you’re going to do and ask someone to hold you accountable for it.

5. Offer to bring food to the event so you’ll at least know you have something to eat.
This is a fantastic way to prepare a delicious dish that everyone will love AND make sure you have a side to enjoy with the meat that’s served. When you tell everyone it’s healthy and that YOU made it, they just might stop looking at you funny for eating your hamburger without the bun. Well, maybe.
Here are some great sites  that I use for delicious, healthy recipes:
http://www.yourlighterside.com/

http://fastpaleo.com/
http://www.civilizedcavemancooking.com/
Don’t be put off by the fact that these are low-carb or Paleo/Primal recipes, that just means that they use real, whole ingredients instead of processed ones, i.e. they’re healthy for you. :-)
So there you go, have a great time at your next event and approach it with confidence that you can not only survive but thrive with these tried and true tips. I would love to hear your strategies, and don’t forget to tell me in the comments below or on facebook how it went!