If you are following our adventures we left off last with our 4th of July adventures around Lake Minnetonka with Laura's family. We ended up spending another 2 weeks in Minnesota. This time included me playing in a golf tournament with some of my family. Doing some minor RV repairs and one major one, a new fridge. We got to meet our newest nephew, Joseph, right before we left town and spend some time with some amazing friends that we've missed while being on the road.
Going home is always pretty special to me, especially when it involves playing golf. I grew up on that golf course. If it wasn't for Minnesota winters it would probably be fair to say I spent more time out there than at our house. So to be able to bring Eli out here is pretty special. He really like riding on the golf cart with Grandma and Grandpa. He also like chasing around our golf balls and even hit a few!
While I was playing golf Laura was able to sneak away to hang out with her sister and her family at an RV park just 20 minutes from my hometown. Pretty random coincidence that they happened to be in the same area on the same weekend as us. Oh and of course being home in Redwood Falls meant we had to stop by Dari King. Eli really liked his first ice cream cone!
Being home in Redwood also meant we had access to my dad and his handyman skills,tools, and generosity. The project that we needed to tackle was installing a residential refrigerator into our RV. Our old Norcold 1200 RV fridge just couldn't stay cold. The freezer worked but the fridge temp was hanging out around 50 degrees. This meant doing some modifications to the cabinet area where the old fridge was in order to make room for the new one.
We were fortunate to find pretty much exactly what we were looking for after a handful of stops. Given the smaller space we needed a counter depth fridge otherwise our hallway would disappear. The height wasn't as important since even the shortest fridges out there would have still required us to do some modifications. The other thing that played into our decision was finding a fridge that we could fit into RV. The fridge we found had about an inch to spare, and that was bringing it in through a window.
The actual install process was pretty easy. Thankfully we had a plugin that runs through our inverter, which means that our batteries could power our fridge as we were driving down the road instead of running on propane like our old model. If you want more details about what we did, I'm happy to share, just send me a note.
We saw Laura's family. We saw my family. We completed some necessary RV remodels. We saw some good friends. It was now time to say goodbye and make our way to Nashville for our Beachbody Summit. On the road again!
We know these pics are long overdue since we have been on the road for officially 1 month now. We feel like we are pretty well settled and have things the way we like them. We still need to add a pouf or two to put our feet on in the living room, but for the most part, it's done! For now our stability ball is doing the trick. We also have some things we hope to add to our "patio" outside to make that a more homey feel.
The main things that we did were:
The passenger's side slideout with our updated kitchen backsplash and a super fun pillow we got from a friend. Thanks Lacy! We love the white cabinets and how it brightened up the entire coach.
The driver's side slideout with our new desk and our dining area. Oh and Eli's toys!
Dan's kitchen!!! Other than lacking a little counter space we love this area. For those that are curious...the microwave doubles as a convection oven and actually works really well to roast veggies and bake. We were super surprised!! No dishwasher is a bummer, but we've made due.
A shot of our living area with our new TV, rug and desk. We love the way it turned out!
Shower and bathroom area. You can see how the old flooring flowed throughout the coach. The shower also has a tub in it which has been fantastic with Eli and makes bath time so much better.
Another view of our bedroom and the curtain that we hung instead of the glass doors. Oh and our residential washer and dryer that we added. There was an electrical box that stopped us from pushing it back far enough to get the doors back on. Our plan is to move that so we can slide it back a few more inches. We probably won't put the doors back on but might do a curtain or something... we are still deciding on if that's necessary.
Our new headboard and our own bedding. We also brought in our king size mattress that we had in our townhome. It's been nice to have our own bed to sleep on. The throw pillows will get upgraded at some point...they're not exactly what Laura would like but we're just working with what we already had!
A look at the old mirror, ugly valances and light fixtures that didn't work. We used the light fixtures that were in the bedroom and just moved them out into the living room.
And a few more random pictures! Thanks for checking out our house!!
When you don't feel like proofing a blog post, you just talk! So you get to deal with my "umm's" and "and's", hope you don't mind. I also want to start doing some more video messaging so hopefully these will get better.
Let us know your thoughts? Do you cook? How has it changed your life?
One of the benefits that I never really thought of when I first got into this home fitness thing was accumulating workout equipment. As you can see in the picture above we've got a pretty good start on our home gym. We didn't have all of this equipment on Day 1 but over the years we've been doing this it's added up. We really have just about everything we need, minus maybe an adjustable bench, but we've passed on that just due to space issues.
I come from a fairly frugal family and it is ingrained in my DNA to justify costs of things we buy. For example, I was just chatting with some friends about the cost of the Vitamix we bought and value of it. They couldn't get over the $400ish price tag. I explained that the ease of use and cleanup will save you time each time you use it. Since we use it 2-3 times per day and have had it for at least 3 years now, that's a lot of time saved. We all know time is one of the most valuable assets we have so BAM... Justified!!!
With workout equipment and programs I also see the value in owning the stuff I'm using rather than paying a membership fee to use someone else's equipment. I can justify spending money on that equipment based on what we save by buying home workout programs versus paying gym dues. I'll explain just how much we are able to save below.
When Laura and I first got married we were members at Lifetime Fitness which is an extremely nice gym in the Minneapolis area. We were paying around $130 per month I believe for both of us. After a year or so we couldn't justify paying that much so we joined our city community center and I think we were paying around $60-70 for the two of us per month. We then tried a another local gym after moving which cost us about $70-80 per month. The point being we did the gym thing for a while and we never really used it to the point that we saw results and also couldn't justify the cost with the frequency that we went.
I'm a bit of a numbers guy so I just wanted to breakout the costs of what we were doing versus what we pay now. We usually buy 2-3 new workout programs every year and those programs cost anywhere from $30-90. We will just say yearly between the two of us we spend $175 on our workout programs or $14.50 per month for both of us. We also both have access to Beachbody On Demand which costs us roughly $13/month. All in, we spend about $41 per month or $492 per year. Compare that to the lower end gym memberships that we once had at $70 per month or $840 yearly. We are saving $348 per year for the two of us!!! That is compared to the lower cost gyms too. I looked up the cost of some others like OrangeTheory and CorePower Yoga and you are looking at $139+ per month for unlimited use of those facilities. (EDIT: As of January 1, 2017 we now only pay $99 each per year for our All-Access Beachbody On Demand membership. This gives us access to every Beachbody program ever created and all new programs that come out in 2017.)
I will be the first to admit that you shouldn't put a price on your health. The best workout that you can do is the one that you WILL do. So if you don't get excited about working out at home but you can get to the gym regularly great. I wanted to share this for those of you that maybe haven't thought about the numbers before. Who knows, maybe knowing the numbers will get you more excited to workout at once you know how much money you could be potentially saving.
What could you do with an extra $348? Buy more organic groceries! We always here how people struggle justifying the cost of organic food! Food is the real driver behind health so that would be a good use of those funds. You could also buy some workout equipment! All the workout equipment pictured above probably cost us a little over $400. In one years time, with the money you save by working out at home, you could have nearly all the equipment you need.
I didn't even mention the value of working out alongside some of the best trainers in the country. Nothing beats a personalized plan. The next best thing would be to follow a generic plan/program that someone who knows what they are talking about created. I was guilty of thinking I knew what I was doing when I was at the gym. I knew what lifts worked certain muscle groups but there was no big picture plan. The value of a working with a trainer is huge and if you are gym goer, I highly recommend you use them so you know what you are doing is helping you get closer to your goals.
Also with all of the programs that we have purchased you get a nutrition plan! That's usually extra at a gym if it is even available. Oh and if you are one to purchase a program through Laura or I you get me as your personal nutrition coach, which I normally charge a minimum of $200 per month for with private clients.
Doing the at home workout thing is a lot like buying versus leasing car. There are certainly some people in the situation where leasing a car or workout equipment is the right way to go. There value in owning your stuff though. That's why I've become a big fan of slowly growing our home gym. My dream is to have a mini crossfit style gym at some point. I know with the money I save it will happen over time, one piece of equipment at a time!
It's been about a year since we started our blog. When we first started our focus wanted to be on sharing recipes with all of you. Personally when I search for recipes, food pictures are usually what draws me in to read more and see if sounds like something I want to try making. I would like to think that I am pretty normal on this one, so if I like pictures other people probably do too...right? We made every effort to take quality consistent photos early on. Living in Minnesota where the sun goes down at 4:30 in the winter time this made lighting an issue 6 months out of the year.
Laura's sister, Sara, a fellow blogger and photographer, mentioned to us that we should consider using a light box to create some consistent lighting for photos. Oh by the way if you don't follow her blog you should, check out The Nesting Gypsy. So I did some research on light boxes but then never did anything with it until this past weekend.
I stumbled upon this image on Flickr and thought it sounded pretty easy to make. I made a few modifications to my box for the space that I had and also added an extra bar that I put a roll of heavy duty paper on. I added this since a majority of our pictures would be food pictures I knew that we would stain the paper and rather than have to run to the store to get new cardstock, I just bought a roll. I don't have the exact cost on everything but I would guess it came out to be around $50 and that includes a tool that I bought to cut the PVC pipe.
So here is the finished product, and I'll be honest...I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.
I've provided links to the items just in case you might not know what they look like.
This should be pretty self explanatory based on the PVC cuts and the pictures. If you do have any questions feel free to reach out. I would say the only tricky part for me was getting the fabric to the right dimensions and sewing sleeves to slide the PVC into. If you have any sewing equipment this will be a piece of cake. For the sleeves, I folded over a 2 1/2" piece of fabric and sewed the length. You could also tape the cloth to the PVC if you don't want to go to the trouble of sewing.
Good luck making yours and we would love to see what your final product ends up looking like. Shoot us an email with a pic of your final product!
We are one week away from everyone's favorite holiday, St. Patrick's Day!! Ok, that might be a stretch. After green beer the thing that screams, "Let's Celebrate!" is corned beef...am I right?? It's funny that corned beef and more specifically corned beef and cabbage is synonymous with St. Patrick's Day even though in Ireland it really isn't a staple dish. They actually serve bacon and cabbage, which is definitely not a bad alternative. Corned beef was substituted by Irish immigrants when they came to the United States. You can thank me for your food history lesson later. .
Last year was the first year where I decided to make corned beef from scratch. I thought we would have people over for St. Patrick's Day, eat some beef and drink some beer. I hadn't done a lot of research into how to actually make it, so a couple days prior to wanting to serve it, I went out and bought some brisket, thinking you just need to add some pickling spices to it as you cook it. I was a little shocked when I found out that the curing process actually takes 7-10 days depending on the size of your brisket. Oops...
Well that didn't stop me from making it. I just had to procure (no pun intended) some unique ingredients that I wasn't able to just walk into a regular grocery store and pick up. The two ingredients that I had to order online were juniper berries and saltpeter. Saltpeter is another name for potassium nitrate. Yeah, I added potassium nitrate knowingly to food that I was going to eat.
Before you go and call the nitrate police, I would suggest you read this article from Chris Kresser, The Nitrate and Nitrite Myth: Another Reason Not To Fear Bacon. The following stat is from his article which he gives reference to and I thought it was a pretty big eye opener.
It may shock you to learn that one serving of arugula, two servings of butter lettuce, and four servings of celery or beets all have more nitrite than 467 hot dogs. (2) And your own saliva has more nitrites than all of them!
Assuming you are eating fairly healthy, there is a chance you are consuming a decent amount of nitrate rich vegetables. Numerous brands, like Applegate, have cashed in on the fear of nitrates by providing meat products that are branded "No Added Nitrates." I wonder if we should start demanding nitrate free celery. Sounds kind of silly right? The funny thing about companies that claim to have "nitrate free" or "uncured" products is that a majority of them use celery powder to "naturally cure" their products. If you look at Applegate's bacon there are asterics after the saying "No Added Nitrites or Nitrates." Those asterics direct you to a statement that says "Except for those naturally occurring in sea salt and celery powder." It doesn't say how much of those ingredients are added but it doesn't take a genius to figure out that they are adding those things to essentially give you the same product as the rest of the bacon on the shelf. I will give Applegate credit for using pork that hasn't been treated with hormones or antibiotics.
There is one problem that has been linked to nitrates is if they turn into nitrosamines. I learned about this by reading an article at Authority Nutrition, which links to some research study abstracts. If you want to read it, click here. If nitrates are exposed to high heat (350 degrees and up) during the cook process than some of those nitrates will turn into nitrosamines. This goes for all nitrates but when was the last time you grilled some celery?? The way to safeguard your bacon, ham, and hot dogs is to cook them at lower temperatures. If you are grilling hot dogs in the summer time don't cook them until they are charred. With your bacon, cook it at a medium to low heat. With your corned beef, cook it slow in a slow cooker or dutch oven.
I hope this has made you think twice about the fear of nitrates in your food. If you want to make your own corned beef, I say go for it. You might be a little late for St Patrick's Day this year, but in my opinion any day of the year is a good day for corned beef. The recipe I used comes from Alton Brown and the Food Network website. The only thing that I changed was that I followed the curing instructions that were on the saltpeter container that I got rather than using the 2 tablespoons that he recommends.
Who doesn't love the combo of peanut butter and chocolate. Reese's has made a fortune selling their delicious packaged goodness. How do they make them so good, SUGAR!!! Go figure a candy company puts a ton of sugar in their products, I guess I can't blame them. So we were asked to find a healthier version of this irresistible treat. This was a pretty simple task, we simple used a natural peanut butter and what better way to add some healthy chocolate flavor than use Chocolate Shakeology. As you can see by the nutrition facts, I think we did ok, less sugar and more protein, that's a win in my book.
This salad and salad dressing is a staple in our house. Both are super delicious, full of good fats and so satisfying. We make this salad dressing in batches and just keep it in the fridge to use whenever. I highly recommend you get into making your salad dressings so you can control what goes in it. If you read the ingredient lists on a lot of the store bought salad dressings you are going to find a lot of added sugar and preservatives. You won't need preservatives with this dressing because you are going to want to eat all right away.
With this particular salad, I dressed the greens, topped it with the tuna salad, added some chopped yellow bell peppers, and then finished with a sprinkle of paprika. Feel free to add any of your favorite veggies to it.
Avocado Tuna Salad
Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette
It's been a while since we have done a Weird Veg Wednesday. My inspiration kicked in tonight with some portabello mushrooms that we had in the fridge along with some other ingredients that we had in the house. I've done stuffed portabellos before, I've done portabello fries, but this was a new adventure for me. The attempt was to turn a portabello mushroom into a taco shell. I'm happy to say IT WORKED!!!
The rest of the dish was pretty simple beef taco meat using the homemade taco seasoning mix that we made a few months ago. The salsa was a roasted corn, black bean salsa. We topped it with a little guacamole and some cilantro and it made for a delicious taco. On side we made some Spanish rice with a little sauteed red onion and chili powder.
Do you like to know what goes into your food? Here is a super simple way you can take control of another dish that is a staple in most homes, TACOS!!! This is super easy to mix together and I just through it into an old spice jar. You’ll have more than enough seasoning to get your through a few batches of tacos.
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp oregano
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp tumeric
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp tapioca starch (optional but it will give your sauce a little thicker feel)
The Cook & The Coach
Healthy is a LIFESTYLE.