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Technogeek Turned Renovator??

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And people thought I would just stay home and not do anything but drink my coffee!  *sipping coffee as she types this up with a smirk*

My house is an older house. It’s almost as old as I am, beating me only by a couple of years. And although my husband and I have poured a lot of money into it to update the flooring with hardwood and ceramic tile, repainting everything, adding french doors, etc, there is one room that we had not updated yet. The front bathroom! It wasn’t for a lack of desire to do so. Let’s call it a little husband stubbornness in getting rid of the solid, yet really ugly, wood bathroom vanity. So one day, when he was at one of his business conferences, I got this gleam in my eye. You know that gleam…where you know you’re either going to do a fine job at changing things up or punishing the furniture beyond repair to where it forces a replacement?  Below is the journey of said renovation. I apologize in advance for the quality of pictures. Not only is this a tiny bathroom and difficult to get a good angle picture, but I had to take the pictures with my cell phone. The other disclaimer is that I am NOT handy by nature. I call it a good day when I can hang a bathroom mirror by myself.

So here’s the victim. Yes, it’s filthy. I hated it so much that I hadn’t bothered with scrubbing it down in a long time.

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So queue the wood putty. My first ever attempt at wood putty. It took several coats of the wood putty to fill in those 70’s grooves. The other hilarious part of this story is that the husband’s hand sander died. I couldn’t get it to work. He had a much larger belt sander. After attempts to hand sand the putty did not work, I had to bring out the big sander. I suppose I should state that my entire hallway and living room saw minuscule pieces of wood putty for days and days and days and days! (I’m sure you get that picture!) I am still wiping down my walls as it settles!

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I looked like a redneck Marie Antoinette after that sanding job. I was literally covered in white dust. Thank goodness I had at least had the forethought to wear a mask!

As my most amazing sanding job ever left grooves in the wood panels, and the paint job did not fully cover all of the imperfections of the cabinets, I decided to faux distress the paint job. I was afraid that if I took real sandpaper to my paint job, that I wouldn’t like what I did and have to redo everything! So below is my faux distressing work, using a dark acrylic craft paint. It gave me the freedom to wipe off the marks if I didn’t like it. It was easy, fun and turned out uber cute! I am still debating adding additional “distressing” before I finalize it with a coat of poly.

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The front was still a little plain. So a trip to the local Home Depot produced a stencil. I added that to the front cabinet.

The beauty about distressing things, is that it does not have to be perfect! I do, however, need to readjust the hinge so that the vanity door shuts all the way. 🙂  I was honestly shocked I was able to get the doors off and back on successfully!

And notice the little score I found at the local Peddler’s Mall? The cute little retro trashcan! I have not done anything to it yet, but seriously considering painting it a dark color, then light on top and distressing it for real! And then adding another stencil to the front of it that came in the same package. Not too matchy-matchy but just enough.

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The original plain 70’s glass mirror was cut down and placed into this frame that I had laying in the basement. The frame was originally a bright gold. I took a bronze paint to it to tone it down. I also gathered weeds from my backyard and put them into that vase. Ha! A temporary solution until I find something that hits me.

Now…I will not claim that I am a good decorator. I would love to be, but I really struggle with this! Below is my somewhat final result. While it is TONS better than it was before, I do see room for improvement. For example, I need to raise the mirror another inch or two.

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Now, my readers….your thoughts? What else should I do to make this bathroom better? Should I distress that cute little trashcan? I am trying to keep the vanity pretty clear and simple. That said, should I add anything else? What about some other wall art?  Super cheap options are the best!

Isn’t eating gluten-free REALLY hard?

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“What else is there to eat??” You would be shocked how often I get this question. People have become so accustomed to their main portion as bread or pasta that they truly can’t work out in their head of how to eat without this.

Now, because I am not Celiac, I do not worry about some hidden gluten items, like in soy sauce. As I use up my old supplies, I do replace those items with organic or  homemade versions. How I am able to work things out with my family may not be for everyone. Below is a list of regular, every day foods that we eat as a family. At times, I do take advantage of the special recipes that I see on websites like MyWholeFoodLife.com and WholeFoodSimply.com – which happen to be some of my favorite sites. But working full-time leaves little time to create new recipes during the week when I do well to be home by 6pm!

Also, if you focus on the gluten-free grocery-bought breads and pastas, you can easily spend a small fortune. I see them as a placebo when my cravings are insane; a treat, not a regular occurrence.

Below is a list of common grain-free easy meals that I make. I have intentionally made this list very generic. It’s to show you how easy it is to make simple meals, and to be able to substitute a variety of items into it according to your tastes, budget and availability. Note: Yes, I do try to buy organic items, especially the dirty dozen list in fruit and veggies. I also try to buy local, farmers market, and have connections to local farmers for things like my eggs and meats. I have also been known to forage!

  • Baked chicken (or pork) and roasted veggies (cauliflower/broccoli/Brussels sprouts/peas/potatoes, etc)
  • Baked fish and roasted veggies and brown rice/quinoa
  • Fried rice with leftover veggies and meats or shrimp
  • Italian sausage over roasted potatoes and onions with shredded cheese
  • Bacon, eggs and homemade hash browns
  • Omelets
  • Red Chili
  • White chicken chili
  • Potato soup, regular and cheesy with broccoli
  • Cheesy broccoli soup
  • Butternut squash and pumpkin soup
  • Wild rice, chicken and mushroom soup
  • Beef stew
  • Beef roast with potatoes, carrots, onions
  • Baked GF spaghetti (GF pasta, spaghetti sauce, olives, artichokes, chicken, onions, cheese)
  • Slow cooker BBQ and stews
  • Tacos and enchiladas made with homemade organic corn shells. Or make with Romaine lettuce boats.
  • Salad with sauteed shrimp or rotisserie chicken
  • Baked potato night with various toppings (including leftovers, chili or Sloppy Joe type-mix)
  • Meatloaf with cheese and spinach instead of breadcrumbs. Pair with veggies/salad.

The baked chicken/fish can be made topped with cheese, or different spices, or Franks hot sauce, BBQ or teriyaki, or a million other flavors. They can be breaded with Parmesan cheese for chicken fingers with homemade fries. This is limited only by your imagination and budget.

Oils: I only use Olive Oil when over salad.

Organic Cooking oils: Grass-fed butter. Good ole’ fashion butter! YUM and great for you! Coconut oil is a close second! Followed by grapeseed oil. These are heat stable and do not break down like olive oil when cooking.

I do enjoy cooking, and yes, sometimes I do get into a mood where the entire meal is very gourmet and takes almost all of the dishes in my cabinets to make. However, when it comes to fast meals, the above are my go-to meals that are easily converted to gluten-free without additional expense. These are also the type of meals that I can make large batches of and have leftovers for work lunches. This alone has saved hundreds out of our monthly budget.

Once you get into the habit of not reaching for the pasta/bread as your side of every course, it gets MUCH easier.

I hope this helps to answer questions on gluten-free foods. This is a good list to refer to if you are preparing foods for people who are eating a gluten-free diet. Now, that said, if the audience is Celiac, where all “hidden” gluten can be life threatening, more attention will need to be paid to the ingredients list. Items must be labeled “gluten-free” tested to less than 20ppm (parts-per-million) in order not to flare their disease.

What other quick, easy, home-style meals have you made that we should add to this list? As always, I would love to hear!

Who knew Rosacea would be affected?!?

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Hello, my name is Kim. And underneath the multiple layers of foundation, I have Rosacea.

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You see, I’ve been fighting Rosacea since I turned 32. Rosacea is a horrible skin affliction. I can call it that because that’s what I deal with. I truly hate this physical manifestation on my face. I feel deep sympathy for those who have more progressed cases than mine. Although there are many more skin afflictions out there that are considered much worse, this is my own personal enemy, much more than my cellulite or veins or anything else. I became so self-conscious that I feel like people are staring at it, instead of looking at me for me. Do any of you know what I mean?

It’s a red flush with lots of deep, painful, cyst-like pimples (see above picture). And let’s not forget the ocular Rosacea. I have that too. That would cause a dozen styes across my lash line that were so painful. Most people don’t realize I have Rosacea. I have hid it well. I’m fairly decent at applying make-up, so what they thought was a smooth complexion (and a bit heavy on makeup) was really about 6 layers of foundation. Yes, 6 layers.

What the doctors’ recommended. Daily antibiotics (oral and topical) for the rest of my life. I do well to take any medications period – no less an antibiotic daily! Even at my most uneducated state, I knew that daily antibiotics were not something I was willing to do. So I opted for other treatments.  I would annually have a laser treatment to zap those broken capillaries (side-effect of Rosacea). I would come home with blistered cheeks and black eyes. But it was effective at reducing the redness. I would also get photo-facials, which is known to help kill the viral infection which spreads the Rosacea.

I would have included a picture of my face in this blog, but you know what? Not only am I good at applying makeup, I am apparently stunningly great at deleting horrible pictures of myself! Lol! So how does this post relate to my Road to Crunchy? Now this is the interesting part…As I began to eat less processed foods and use different facial soaps and lotions, my Rosacea began to fade! It took me about 4 months to realize that it was fading, but as it did, I began to cover it over less and less.

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Now…this is a picture of my cheek as of this morning (Don’t mind the cat eye liner, I went glamorous at work today). With one very light layer of foundation. Yes, you can see the redness a tiny bit. I don’t mind that much redness, and so I have reduced the amount of foundation I use by 75+%. The great news is that I no longer have any flare ups with ocular Rosacea at all. And unless it’s TOM or I’ve changed up my facial care routine, I no longer get the breakouts on my chin. Or eat something I shouldn’t. Then I’m smacked with a pimple the size of Texas.

What am I using? I switched from my regular face soap. I can’t tell you exactly what that was, because I tried hundreds, including Proactive and other equally (or more) expensive products. Yes, I’m a bit vain in the fact that I didn’t want pimples!  😀

Now I use MSM Herbal Moisturizing Bar Soap $6. It’s cheap and lasts a long time. What you’ll learn if you follow my blog (please do!) is that I’m a research fiend. Reading that organic sulfur was great for skin, I was like “sure, why not?!” And bought this soap, based purely on the reviews on Amazon. Best. Purchase. Ever. Seriously!

For my face, I use my homemade face lotion/salve. It was my first experiment at making my own lotion. That recipe will be on another post as I perfect it. Right now, the end product is a little thicker than most people would like, so I have to play with the recipe a bit. I warm it up in my hands first and then slather it on.

Another thing that I now do is use mineral only eye makeups. I discovered a great company on Etsy.com and they are called Madison Street Beauty. Pure minerals for a much cheaper price than the other mineral makeup.

Anyway, enough about my beauty routine. Do you fight Rosacea or another skin condition? Has natural/organic treatments worked for you? Post your experiences below, I’d love to hear about them!