I’d say that was easy, but…

We’re free. We each signed our names a dozen times, then we handed over our keys and got handed a check. We’re no longer homeowners.

That was the only easy part.

We had until 1:45 to be out of the house – the buyer’s final walkthrough began at that time. Guess what time we left?

1:43. The buyers watched us cram the last of the stuff into our cars, which for some reason mortified me. Was it because we were late? Or because we had so much stuff?

Not that it matters. Not now, anyway. The walkthrough went fine and we closed without a hitch. We did have some fun when the buyers asked us where we were moving to, and Michael said “it’s parked outside.”

We spent last night with friends of ours, Dan and Lisa, in their beautiful Lyons home. They fed us, too (thanks, Lisa!). And this morning we got up, had some coffee, some paleo pancakes (thanks Dan!) then drove over to Riverbend to get in line for the camping “tarp run.”

Camping at RockyGrass is interesting. We’ve camped on-site, and while I still think it’s the most fun, getting in there is a bit of a shitshow. A free-for-all where it seems like people might run you over to get to the best camping spot. It’s more stress than it’s worth, in my opinion.

Riverbend, which is across the street from Planet Bluegrass, is a bit more mellow. This site used to be a trailer park – it got wiped out in the big flood of 2013. Now it’s a wedding site with a slew of tiny homes available for rent. And a wonderful campsite for RockyGrass and Folks Fest. It’s shady and the St. Vrain river runs right next to it.

When we got in line at 8:30, said line was so long I was afraid we’d get a lousy spot. Out in the open, full sun all day, something like that. But Riverbend is bigger than it looks. We found a great spot easily and everyone was really friendly. A neighbor even lent us his hammer for our tent stakes. Our nifty little site won’t have shade all day, but we’ll get it in the mornings, which is what I actually care about. We even ended up knowing a couple of our neighbors. RockyGrass is a small world in some ways.

I should have pictures for you in the next post – I was able to set up our super-cool solar lights from Revel Gear. We wrapped the lights around our tent so in addition to lighting up our evening picks, these awesome lights will make our tent easy to spot.

After setting up our tent, we went back to Dan and Lisa’s and picked up the dogs to take them to the Gunbarrel Vet Clinic. While a couple of different friends offered to watch them, Elvis (the older dog) is a bit of an asshole. I guess you could say he’s “dog selective” but I prefer my term as I think it’s closer to the truth. No reason to make any of my friends put up with that. We’ve also boarded them at Gunbarrel before and both dogs came back happy. The piece of mind is worth it for me.

Whew. I think the storm has passed. Everyone’s happy and taken care of. No worries for the next four days, at least. Time for some bluegrass!

 

It’s the last day.

Wow. Tonight is the last night I’ll sleep in that upstairs bedroom with the burgundy walls. The last night in our house.

I couldn’t be happier.

Just in case any of you are thinking about downsizing, here’s a tip for you: start early. If you’re selling your stuff, aim low. Get rid of it.

Michael and I spent a good chunk of our morning driving a rented U-Haul around Longmont, trying to get different thrift stores to take our stuff. (Many thanks to our friend and fellow CrossFitter Dan, who helped us load the U-Haul.) Goodwill took most of it – but not the futon, the computer desk, or the giant entertainment center.

Goodwill recommended the little thrift store up north on Main, the one next to Sonic. That guy took the futon and the computer desk, but not the giant entertainment center.

Planet Ares Thrift Store said no. That left the Habitat for Humanity ReSource Store.

They said yes. But Michael basically had to talk the guy into it, and in the end it was because this entertainment center was actually designed for a flat screen TV.

I need to remember this day the next time I want to buy anything.

We also made a trip out to the dump. Our trash can was full and we wanted to, you know, do the right thing instead of illegally dumping our stuff in some business’s dumpster.

On the bright side, I can now say I’ve visited a landfill. But if there’s a next time I’d try to take a smaller car. A lighter vehicle. Because they charge by weight, and we took the truck. You know, the one with the roof racks, roof top tent, and hitch mount bike rack.

If we accumulate any more trash I’m looking for some business’s dumpster.

So we’re in the home stretch, like I said. We’d been working (hard) all day and now it was dinnertime. I wanted CHUBurger. Michael also thought this was a stellar idea, so off we went.

I didn’t know this, but on the last Tuesday of the month, CHUBurger features a balloon artist for the kids. We watched him make an airplane hat for one kid, make a flower and then sing – amazingly – for another couple. Seriously, this guy has opera training.

At some point, he wandered by our table and explained that since there weren’t any kids in the restaurant, he could make balloon things for the big kids, too. Anything we wanted. He even said it: “I can make anything.” Then he gave us a few suggestions. One of them was a kitty cat holding sticks of dynamite. Sounds like a strange suggestion, right?

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We thought it was a fabulous idea, and Balloon Man went to work.

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I have to tell you, the end result made my day. I never learned Balloon Man’s real name, but if any of my fellow Longmonsters know him, please let him know that the 10 minutes he spent at our table was the highlight of my otherwise stressful day. Even looking at these pictures now is cracking me up.

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And yes, it really was a hat.

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Counting down

Yeah, we’re down to the wire here. Despite all the planning and early start, it seems like we’ll be down to the wire.

So let’s talk about our going-away bluegrass and BBQ party!

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We borrowed a smoker from our friend and fellow CrossFitter Sheri, and Michael went to town with ribs and pork shoulder (also known as Boston Butt) for pulled pork. The whole neighborhood smelled delicious. At some point, though, Michael was worried that the ribs, pulled pork, and brats would not be enough food. So we thawed out an elk carpaccio and he turned it into elk and green chile stew.

 

 

Guests began showing up on Sunday around 4:30, and pretty soon it began to look like a good old bluegrass pick.

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And everyone brought a side dish!

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Yeah. There was plenty of food.

 

Once everyone had a full belly, it was time to pick. Norma was the first one to get out her guitar and it didn’t take long for everyone else to follow.

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For a few of our friends, this was their first bluegrass pick. I think they liked it!

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And then, at some point, Michelle from Cholaca arrived. We’re official Cholaca ambassadors now – we’ve got T-shirts and everything! Michelle brought a ton of Cholaca for all our guests to sample.

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If you haven’t heard of it, Cholaca is pure liquid cacao, or chocolate. Dairy free, gluten free. There are only three ingredients: cacao, water and coconut sugar.

There are three different varieties: Unsweetened, Original, and Sweet. Michelle said that the unsweetened would go wonderfully in coffee. I put some in a peanut butter-banana shake this morning, and let me tell you, it was delicious.

I try to avoid excess sugar these days, so at the party I tried the Original (yeah, I’m a real party animal). It was amazing. Delicious. Dark chocolate with just the right amount of sweetness. I think I’m going to like being a Cholaca ambassador!

Michael tried the Sweet and said it was wonderful, by the way. So if you haven’t tried Cholaca yet, hit me up! Before we pack up everything and take the show on the road. Personally, I would love to introduce Cholaca to everyone at the Sturgis Bike Rally.

I’m so glad so many people came to the party! It was a big weekend with a lot going on. It makes me sad we’re leaving! Longmont really is a wonderful community.

Party weekend – sort of

Friday night I was kind of freaking out. OK, it was closer to a meltdown, but whatever. I just couldn’t believe how much crap we’ve managed to amass in only five years in our house.

We have a 10×10 storage unit and it’s getting pretty full. But we still have to pack up the entire kitchen. And put our bedframe and headboard in there. How are we supposed to make it fit?!?!?!?

?!?!?!?!?

That’s pretty much what was going through my head when I couldn’t sleep on Friday night.

I had to put most of that aside yesterday (Saturday), for two reasons. First, we had a “going away” workout at our CrossFit gym. It was a hero WOD and those are always brutal. That’s on purpose: hero WODs are intended to be performed with intense effort, in honor of our fallen Heroes.

Yesterday’s Hero WOD: “Whitten.”

Who was Whitten? Army Captain Dan Whitten, 28, of Grimes, Iowa, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, died February 2, 2010, when enemy forces in Zabul, Afghanistan, attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device. Whitten is survived by his wife, Starr Whitten, his mother, Jill Whitten, his father, Dan Whitten, and his sister, U.S. Army Captain Sarah Whitten.

Here’s the workout:

Five rounds for time of:
22 Kettlebell swings (I used a 26# KB)
22 Box jump             (20″ box)
Run 400 meters
22 Burpees
22 Wall ball shots     (8# medicine ball)

I went lighter than prescribed with the weights… but I did all the reps. My time? 57:20. And it was brutal. Somewhere around round 3 I was ready to cry. Wondering what I’d done to myself. By round 4 I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. And by round 5, I was the last to finish. The rest of the gym was counting down my reps for me.

After a brief recovery(that involved me lying on the floor) we had to get home super-quick. Because our Estate Sale began at 11am. I was happy to see a bunch of people waiting on our doorstep at 10:55, since all I’d done to advertise was make a Craigslist ad and put up a cardboard sign at the end of the block.

I’m happy to say we sold a lot of stuff. Not all of it, but a lot. i’ll try to give away stuff at the party tonight. And – a friend from CrossFit offered to help us move the big leftover stuff on Monday, complete with his big truck. So. Stress level reduced.

Tonight is our Going Away BBQ and Bluegrass Party. The smoker has been running since yesterday afternoon and the whole neighborhood smells like smoked pork. Chef parties are the best parties IMO…

I think it’s kind of funny that we’re asking all our guests to bring lawn chairs along with a side dish. Since the Estate Sale, seating options are limited at Casa Draz.

I’ll take pictures (I finally downloaded Lightroom/Photoshop onto my laptop!) and post them on Monday. Wow…Only a few more days until we’re homeless!

Spice World

You might not know this, but at our house we love spices.

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Now, we get our spices from a variety of sources, but we do love to visit Savory Spice Shop in Boulder. It’s on Broadway, just a few steps off the Pearl Street Mall. I love the smells that hit me as soon as I walk in the door. I love that they have recipes places throughout the store, with amazing ways to use their spice mixes. I’m pretty sure I never would have made Marrakesh Chicken or any form of Vindaloo without a recipe.

As luck would have it, Michael is friends with the owner, Dan Hayward. And on a recent trip to Boulder (I dropped off my new dobro at Woodsongs Lutherie for a setup), we decided to swing by. As luck would further have it, Dan was in that day… and picked out a set of fabulous spices for us to use in our travels:

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Meet the newest members of our spice world! It’s been fun to try these guys out.

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Cuban Island Spice. We used this as a dry rub on chicken legs and offered some to our CrossFit coaches, Doug and Kristi. Kristi said they’d already eaten dinner, but Doug scarfed down a chicken leg. With good reason – they were delicious! Cuban Island Spice is kinda citrus-y, kinda earthy. Extremely awesome. The chef tells me that garlic, lime, and cumin are the biggest notes, all well balanced. Can’t wait to use this one again.

 

 

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Jamaican Jerk Seasoning: we put this on eggs and it was awesome. There’s just a bit of heat from Scotch bonnet peppers in there. We’ll be using the crap out of this jar at our going-away bash and pickin’ party this weekend.

 

 

 

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Cook County Charcoal seasoning: The name caught my eye – I grew up in Cook County. Made from coconut husks (what this has to do with Cook County is beyond me… I never knew we grew coconuts there). It has no smell. But the taste! Salty and smoky. It’s like a barbecue rub but without the added sugar. We haven’t used this one yet and I am eager to try it out.

 

 

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Mapuche Style Merken Seasoning: (‘Murica!) Haha, it’s not a ‘Murican spice or anything, that’s just how you pronounce it. It’s a bit like a standard chili powder, but with citrus-y burst from coriander and this trippy addition of oregano. We made turkey/vegetable/black bean chili with this spice instead of standard chili powder. My friend Justin joined us for dinner that night and the results spoke for themselves: no leftovers.

 

 

This week is the first in years that Michael and I get to have dinner together – get to make dinner together – every night. We might have to make another stop at Savory before we hit the road!

Things are getting real…

Ah! I am so sorry to not have posted since July 1st. It’s a little embarrassing.

But since July 1st I’ve had band rehearsals, gigs (including one of my favorite festivals, High Mountain Hay Fever), plus getting the house ready – one more time! – for the appraisal.

Michael is in his last week of work. They are short a dishwasher, and like a crazy person I volunteered.

Well, “volunteered” isn’t quite the right word. I’m getting paid. But until this past Sunday, I’d never set foot in a restaurant kitchen in my life. I was a little scared. I know this is a hard job. I kinda figured that if I screwed up, nobody would actually say anything to me because they all know I’m the chef’s wife.

Anyway – every single person in that kitchen was super nice to me. Even the ones who didn’t know who I am. (One of the line cooks, Matt, said to me, “So you know Michael?” and I said back, “yeah, you could say that. He’s my husband.” I thought Matt’s eyes were going to pop out of his head.)

Being in the professional kitchen wasn’t anything like I expected. Granted, it was kind of a slow night (from what I was told), but I was expecting something resembling chaos. Like what you see on “Kitchen Nightmares” or something. Except it was very orderly. No shouting, not even any swearing, I don’t think. I wasn’t paying that close attention. I was trying to stay ahead of everything.

The “moment” for me was the dump at the end of service. When the kitchen cleans up, they send all their dirty stuff to the disher. Matt kept everything at his station – so it wouldn’t pile up at my work area, which was sweet – except that when I turned around to begin I was hit with an absolute wall of items: Pots. Skillets. Trays. Baskets. Utensils. And the seemingly endless variety of hotel pans. (When I finally finished those, the stacks went all the way to the ceiling.) I think everyone got a little kick out of the look on my face…

I had some help but I did (eventually) get the job done. And the staff told me I was awesome, that I kicked ass, etc. I asked Michael if they actually said that to him. Or if they were just being nice to me because, you know, chef’s wife and all.

Michael assured me I really did do a good job.

So.

To the two former bosses who accused me of being lazy, not a hard worker, and not a team player: SUCK IT.

 

Wedding rings

This August 6th Michael and I will celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary. It’s kind of crazy to think about. (Even crazier that we started dating in 2000… so we’ve been together for 16 years. Time flies, I tell ya!)

Since 2005, Michael and I have both gone through a few wedding rings.

  • He lost his first titanium band in Boulder Creek.
  • When Michael ordered a new titanium band, I got one too (previously I just wore my diamond ring)
  • I had my diamond ring reset in palladium for our 5th anniversary

I think Michael first heard about Qalo rings through CrossFit. Billed as “the functional wedding ring for an active lifestyle,” Qalo rings are made from medical-grade silicone.

Now, don’t get me wrong – we both love our titanium bands. They’re so light you think they might actually fly away, and not terribly expensive, either. But we’re both active people, and even I would wonder sometimes what might happen if I hurt my left hand while mountain biking or trail running.

If you have to ask how I could hurt myself trail running, you’ve clearly never seen me run. Or do something simple like walk… into a doorframe. Or trip… over a non-existent crack in a sidewalk.

Anyway.

Michael and I got our Qalo rings about a year ago. I used to wear mine only for working out. Michael made it his only ring almost immediately. In addition to being so active, he also has a physical job (executive chef) and loved his Qalo so much that he stopped wearing his titanium band.

There are a few styles to choose from. I went with the “outdoor” theme:

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It’s a little hard to see, but there is a small compass on embossed into the silicone. These rings come in many colors, including black, orange, and camouflage. Mine is dark green, for the record.

Here’s what the men’s rings look like:

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They’re pretty basic, but I have to admit they do the job well. They’re stretchy, so when I’m hiking and my hands swell up, my ring is no longer uncomfortable. They’re also non-porous, so everything just washes off them.

It doesn’t hurt that these rings cost around $20. So if I do manage to destroy mine, it won’t cost me much to replace it.

I’ve taken to wearing my Qalo ring all the time now, too. Call it preparing for the big trip, but in reality these rings are amazingly comfortable.