November home follies

We’re getting a bunch of work done on our home. We talked about that a bit earlier on, specifying that the roof, gutters, and shed need some major work done. Thankfully, we found a roofing company to work with here in Westminster. Between the bevy of estimates from roofing companies and gutter installation companies in the last week, we feel like we’ve had people at our house for the past 3 days! Thankfully, we found both the roofers and gutter installation providers that we want to work with, and we now just have to wait for the work to be done. The snow is not off our roof yet, but the weather is going to be nice for the next week, and we won’t have to worry about that part of the home improvement any longer after they are done.

I cleaned out the inside of the shed, and it actually looks pretty good. Now comes the difficult part, and that’s determining how much I need to add, in terms of hanging all the tools, buying a certain size of tool box to store nuts, bolts, screws, nails, etc. Lastly, where to put everything. As you can see through the picture below, there’s not really much room where I can fit things in there.

Shed project 001 Shed project 002 Shed project 003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m thinking that I will be taking out the piece of plywood that is resting in the third picture, and replace it with some peg board so that I can get some of the smaller tools off the shelf, like you see in the second picture above.

The shed itself is great, apart from the floor, which is bowed, and it’s not insulated, so I won’t be putting anything like paint in there, or anything that needs to sit in regular household temps. The roof would be redone when the rest of the house is done shortly, so that will be perfect. The only other issue is the foundation. The shed was not built on a concrete slab, it was on top of a bunch of poorly laid plywood and other wood, and has since been propped up by pea gravel, and some 2×4’s. That’s not going to be fixed now, and my contractor says that the best thing to do is when we want to add a concrete slab underneath it, the best thing to do would be to just rebuild the shed, and make it into a true shop addition on the side of the house. I would be okay with that.

For now, the shed will do, and it should be fixed up pretty well in the next few weeks. Hopefully I can find a way to make all the tools, shovels, and gardening equipment fit in there without a major re-arranging of anything, or taking out too many shelves.

A winter blast coming

It’s the time of year to be very thankful, and we have a lot to be thankful for. This year has been another incredible one, and we are so very blessed to be living in a great home with a roof over our heads, steady income, and the ability to travel.

The roof over our heads has been fixed, and we are grateful that the elements that are about to hit us head on will be kept outside, and we can stay inside and warm. The weather is going to creep into the single digits later this week, and we will be celebrating Thanksgiving in frigid temps. Accuweather says that on Thanksgiving day, it’s going to be a high of about 20 in Denver, with a low of about 5 degrees. That’s a bit cold for my blood, and I won’t be going outside much that day, save to the garage to open the auxiliary fridge and freezer to get food for the feast.

This is the kind of weather that we talk about when we think about buying a vacation house for the winter in Arizona. We haven’t done it yet, but it’s tempting when we see temps like this coming towards us.

We have quite a few family members coming into town to spend Thanksgiving with us. Most of them are from in state, but have quite a ways to travel, so hopefully the snow doesn’t hit us too badly on Wednesday and Thursday. We always look forward to Thanksgiving with family, and enjoy the laughter, fun, and thankfulness that the holiday brings.

We hope that you all enjoy your Thanksgiving this year, and that you have a lot to be thankful for!

Waiting for Spring

Pat and I eternally wait for spring. Don’t get us wrong, we love the winter. We are skiing enthusiasts, and spend a lot of time up at our cabin in Winter Park. If you have never been to Winter Park, you should go, it’s a fantastic little ski town, and you won’t want to leave once you go.

But we love spring, because it’s the time of year when we can perfectly plan our getaways, get our garden ready for the year, and look forward to our favorite farmers markets opening up. And I love baseball, which starts in the spring. If you’re a baseball fan, then you really understand me completely.

Here’s the things that the spring season brings for us.

  1. Better weather. We don’t hate the winter, especially in Colorado because even though it can become brutally cold, many winter days carry temps over 50 degrees. But even we both get sick of the winter around here. We have comtemplated moving to the desert in Arizona, or purchasing a winter vacation home down there, but haven’t pulled the trigger yet because we have so much going on here in Colorado.
  2. Farmers Markets. If you don’t know about our affinity for farmers markets, just read our posts here: www.oaksparent.com.
  3. Baseball season. We go to a handful of Colorado Rockies games every year. Even though the team is not very good, we still make the trip to Coors Field (about 30 minutes from our home in Westminster) for roughly 15-20 games per year. Pat and I love the ballpark atmosphere, and paying attention to the game. We go with a group of friends a couple times yearly, and make it a big outing with a dinner in Lodo before the games. Coors Field is a pretty cool stadium, if you haven’t been there.
  4. Hiking. We’re big outdoors people, and love to get out and hike in the Rocky Mountains every year. Springtime signals that most of the trails are going to be opened up, and we love to go on some spring hikes in Chatuaqua Park in Boulder.

Spring, like I mentioned above, is when we plan our vacations for the year. We talk about where we want to go in the winter, then solidify our plans in the spring. That’s been the way it’s worked for the past 10 years with Pat and I since we started travelling more.

Coors Field is below, and you can see that it’s a pretty ballpark, even at night. I can’t wait to get back there in the spring!

Coors Field Night picture

 

 

 

 

 

DIY or Hire?

When it comes to your home projects, do you typically do them yourself or hire them out. In the previous post, I spoke about our need for three home improvement projects to take place, and how Pat and I are hiring them out.

We have spoken to a bunch of friends who have done entire roof replacements themselves, fixed or replaced their own gutters, and generally perform many more projects on their own. Anything from Basement refinishes to kitchen remodels, we’ve heard so many stories from people that have done it themselves.

We are on the opposite end of the spectrum, generally preferring to do things the easier way, and stay out of the way so everything is done right. We also do this because we have the extra money to spend, and don’t like to take the time that it would take to do a DIY project from start to finish.

When we decided once and for all that we were not going to do DIY projects ourselves, was when we broke down how long it would take us to do a job compared to a contractor. The amount of hours that we would need (because we really didn’t know what we were doing) would be so much higher, and would simply give us headaches. We wouldn’t know if we did everything correctly, or if we had to fix something in the future that we created. With contractors, they are in, out, and done, and if you have any questions about the specific work, they can simply answer it for you.

Take a basement refinish for example. We had our basement finished 4 years ago, and it took the contractor that we hired 3 weeks to completely finish the job. They were here on average about 5 hours per day for 15 days, so that totals out to 75 hours to finish the project. Because both Pat and I work, that would have been more than 2 months to do the same thing, and that’s if we knew what we were doing during the process. Clearly, I’m not a carpenter, and Pat isn’t either. We know how to wield hammers, and how to do little things around the house, but we would have been going back and forth to Home Depot.

So, we figured that we would simply need to do away with trying to do things ourselves.

Take for instance the projects we are about to do. A roofing company can come in and complete the job in a matter of hours, where we would be struggling to tear the roof off ourselves, and would most likely have to call a roofer to finish the work.

I’m very stubborn when it comes to projects, and want to finish them to completion myself, but Pat talked me into letting other people do things, which I’m very grateful for.

I don’t have very many good tools either. I bought this tool set, and as you can see below, that won’t get me very far if I need to fix something.

My tool set

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s another thing – having the right tools for the job. I’m pretty sure that Bob Vila has everything he needs in his shop to do just about any job, but according to friends and past contractors I’ve worked with, it’s a constant investment to keep the right tools around to do big jobs, especially if you use those tools a lot.

I would rather not invest in tools that I would have to reinvest in, if I’m not the best DIY’er anyway!

I digress. We’re looking for our roofer, and they will most definitely have the job done in about a day or two, saving us a ton of time, even if it does cost us a lot more money.

End of Season in Colorado

Unfortunately, we won’t be seeing any Farmers markets back here in Colorado anytime soon. The first big snow fell late Tuesday night through Wednesday morning, and winter is officially here. The weather is still pretty nice, in the mid 60’s, but all the markets are wrapped up for the year. They ostensibly shut down in Mid-October when the weather dips below 45 degrees at night. Although there is still plenty of produce to go around, most farmers like to keep some for themselves through the winter months, and avoid getting rid of all their fruit and veggies.

Below you will see a couple pics of the snowfall in our backyard, so you can see that it wasn’t that much, but it will definitely be more in the high country.

First 2015 Snowfall in Colorado 001First 2015 Snowfall in Colorado 002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our outside freezer is stocked sufficiently with kale, about 10 pounds of tomato sauce, and frozen veggies and fruit that will last us until about March. We love having a ton of frozen stuff to simply pick out of the freezer to thaw and make our meals with. Plus we love making smoothies with all of the frozen fruit and kale in the morning. There’s really nothing better than a fresh kale and fruit smoothie at 6am before we get the day going.

The only travelling that we will be doing for the rest of 2015 is to Arizona to visit some friends and family, and then to Seattle for a growers conference at the end of November after Thanksgiving.

Thankfully most of our travel is done for the year, because we have a few home improvement projects to tackle coming up. When the snow melts off the roof, that’s going to be replaced. We’re still looking for a roofing company to contract out and help us with our roof replacement. We think it’s going to be a complete roof replacement since it hasn’t been maintained or cared well for since we bought the house about 10 years ago. The gutters also have to go, as they are rusted, and have a few holes in them. We already have a gutter replacement company that is one of my wife Pat’s friends sons companies, so that’s going to be easy to get done, but we want to wait until the roof is completely done to do the gutters.

Other than that, our shed is in dire need of a major overhaul, but that’s mostly interior. I will be rebuilding the shelves, and making it a bit more manageable with hanging shovels and gardening equipment. Right now, things are stacked on top of each other, and there’s really no system to anything. I’ve found over the last year that i’ve become a major system person, needing a system for everything to be most efficient at something. Pat thinks that’s a bit funny, and I laugh at myself too because I was never like that up until this year.

Now that we’re back from NYC, it’s time to map out all the home improvement stuff, including the roof, gutters, and shed detail. Pat likes to be involved with it, which is very helpful, unless she gets in the way of my systems:)

 

What to look for at a Farmers market

When you go to the local farmers market, what do you look for? Here at Oaks-P, we buy all of our produce at Farmers markets when they are available and in season wherever we are. When we are travelling, depending on where we are going and the weather in that location, it’s pretty easy to find either an indoor or outdoor farmers market. We like to take our time when walking through the markets and look at every vendor and their produce or goods at least once before buying anything. That way, we can ask questions, and get a feel for the people who are selling us their goods before purchasing anything.

We were recently in Sunnyside, New York visiting a few friends, and they had a cute little Farmers market across Queens Boulevard. One of the vendors had some homemade hot sauce that they had not begun selling in any grocery stores, but had their eyes on trying to do so. I’m a huge fan of hot sauce, so I had to buy a couple bottles to bring home to Colorado. My fridge is stocked with hot sauce all year round, and I never run out of it.

We took a nice little walk through Sunnyside Gardens historic district, where one of our friends lives. The picture below really doesn’t do this place justice, and you can see that the streets are so beautiful. This is one of the most desirable places to live in New York City, because of the lack of big buildings, and the pretty tree lined streets that go for about 4 blocks.

Sunnyside Gardens in Queens, NY

After we were done in Sunnyside, took the 7 train back over to Manhattan, and went to the Lower Broadway farmers market. The farmers markets in Manhattan are a bit bigger, more congested with people, but you see a bit more there than just food. Right outside of this market, which was located at Broadway and 7th street, you could find quite a few artists showcasing either their photography, paintings, or any other work that you can imagine. Some of these artists are very engaging, and some are not, but the best part is that you get to see all of their very inexpensive artwork, and for tourists like us, it was nice to be able to pay for some cheap art depicting one of the best cities in the world.

In the market itself, the food was great. We were treated to a green smoothie from one of the vendors, who used fresh kale, strawberries, blueberries, and all natural juices with almond milk to give us a very energetic and refreshing smoothie. That was our main find from this farmers market, and we stopped and spoke with the couple who ran the booth. They were originally from Buffalo, NY, but were located in the Brewster area, which is about an hour and a half north of New York City. They make the trip down to the market every weekend that the weather is good, and it’s one of the best things that they have done for their business. They have had a very good year up to this point, and have been relying on farmers markets in NYC for about 4 years now. They did say that the cost of participating in any of the markets has gone up considerably over the last two years, and they primarily use the vehicle to raise awareness of their farm and their products.

Unfortunately, we are leaving the city tomorrow to travel back home to Colorado, but we have had a great trip, met some great people, and got to see some great friends. Pic below of the market on lower Broadway.

NYC Farmers market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Local Market of Your Choice

4-local+marketIf you consider going shopping, no matter what you want to buy, it’s better to use your local market. There are some reasons for this, and the economical reason is usually at the end of the list. It is true that you will help the local economy, but it is also true that you will find better and cheaper products that you can find in the international brands of hypermarkets.

The local market is not represented only by a place, but it’s the sum of all your local manufacturers who are offering you everything that you might need from honey to bread, from cheese to milk, from clothes to furniture and carpets.

Here are some reasons why you could always choose the local markets instead of the rest of the producers.

It Helps the Economy

Yes, this is indeed one of the reasons why choosing your local markets is good. Many of the local producers get lost in the economy because people consider that their products are of a lower quality if they are cheaper.

However, you have to consider this next example – if you buy a wooden chair from a branded hypermarket, you may pay up to $1000 for it, but if you buy it from a local producer, you can get the same chair for about $100. There is a big difference in price, and the quality is even bigger FarmersMarketsometimes for the $100 chair.

If you choose to buy the chair from your local producer, you will pay his work and the material, but if you choose to buy the $1000 chair, you will be paying for a lot of more people, transport, storing and other services that are implied when it’s about a worldly know hypermarket.

Apply the same principle for every item, and you will see the difference in thinking.

There Are Bio Products

With this increase of demand of bio products, the best place to find them is on your local market. Let’s take the honey. That golden sweet that you can find in your local market is natural and it doesn’t have any added substances to make it stay fresh.

However, this is not the case with the honey that you find in the hypermarkets, because that one is treated not to alter during transportation and storage. This is the same for every product, and the honey that you get from the store will rarely alter in two or three years.

The natural honey will get the aspect of sugar, and it’s actually called candied honey – this is the test that proves you that the honey is natural. When this happens, all you have to do is place it in a pot of warm water and keep it over the stove for a few minutes, not quite boiling it but just keeping it warm. In less than half of hour the honey will be back to its original aspect.

Local Materials

farmers-marketsMany of the local manufacturers will offer you products made from local materials. We’re talking here about milk products – they will use the milk from their own animals (cows, sheep or goats), the meat will be from grass eating animals – they don’t feed the animals with processed substances to help them grow and so on.

The local producers and manufacturers can’t compete with international producers, so this also allows them to use natural materials to produce their merchandise.

It’s Good for Your Health

Many of the products that you find in the local markets are natural and they don’t contain processed ingredients. In many cases, the producers have kept old natural recipes to produce food 5-busy+marketor other things. You will find special cheese, made out of just milk, without adding anything else, bread that is fresh from the wooden oven, clothes that are made according to the local culture and so on.
Each of these markets should be cherished and kept going, because these are the future of the industry. People should learn to turn back to their roots, when everything was natural and not altered by chemicals and other substances that are now used to enhance the quality of some products.