Names have been changed to protect the innocent...and my husband...and me...but not the dog. His name is Dexter.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Recipe Swap Wednesday-Butterbeer for Harry Potter's Birthday!

This is a fun recipe that I've put together from various different recipes and is family approved!  We even served this at our family Halloween party last year and everyone loved it!  And since tomorrow is Harry Potter's birthday, it's the perfect time to whip up this easy butterbeer recipe.

2 liter cream soda
2 tablespoons butter extract
2 teaspoons rum extract

Add the butter and rum extracts to the bottle of cream soda and gently mix.  Put back in the fridge until ready to serve.

Cream Topping
1 7-oz container of marshmallow cream
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon of rum extract
1 teaspoon of butter extract

Mix in blender or electric mixer until smooth.  Poor over prepared butterbeer and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tip Tuesday--How To Get Chlorine Out of Hair and Swimsuits Naturally!

IT'S SUMMER!!!!  And summer means swimming.  Lots and lots of swimming.  And swimming lessons that seem to take over your life.  At least that's how it feels for me.  

This weeks tip is for dealing the all the chlorine in your life.  Both my girls have really long hair and if I wash it every single day it totally dries it out.  And we all get kind of cranky.  But I can't just leave all the nasty chlorine chemicals hanging out in their hair.  This is what we do and it works like a charm!

After swimming lessons we head home and the girls jump in the shower.  Depending on how tired and/or hungry they are there might be less jumping and more dragging.  Anyway.....I take their swimsuits (usually from off the bathroom floor) and soak them in the bathroom sink with warm water and a splash of vinegar.  Leave them to soak for a few minutes (no rinsing) and then hang them up to dry.  I learned the hard way to never ever wash swimsuits in the washing machine, even on the delicate cycle.  This pretty much gets the vinegar out.  I've found that after a few times, the vinegar alone doesn't seem to cut it so about once a week I add a tiny bit of our laundry detergent to the water, soak, rinse and good as new!  

While the swimsuits are soaking in the sink, I spray vinegar on my girls hair and they rinse it out at the end of their shower.  By the end of the week, their hair needs a regular washing but this works great for the everyday chlorine detox.  Plus it makes their hair soft and shiny.  Bonus!

If you have any awesome summer tips, please leave them in the comments!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ironic Chaos

That's the only term I can come up with to even attempt to accurately describe the last eight weeks at our house.  Before you get all worried (I know you care deeply), you should know that it has all pretty much been First World Problems.  Problems, for sure.  But of the First World variety so I'm able to cope pretty well and still be grateful because in spite of the ironic chaos, we are a happy, healthy family.  Yes, a broken bone is involved but I hear buckle fractures aren't as bad.

Let me begin in late spring of 2014......when our trusty computer refused to turn on.  Ever again.  It was done and would not negotiate.  That's a big reason for my Internet silence.  Well, probably not the biggest reason (we eventually borrowed my mother in law's seldom used laptop) but definitely a contributing factor.  We are no longer using that laptop since my father in law's  computer died.  And then his printer.  Apparently what we have is catching.

Now, on to the bigger, more fascinating things.  We had decided a while back to go back to renting out the basement.  About four years ago we had had enough of renting out our basement and were ready to expand!  And we were thrilled.  See here.  But here was the reality of it all.....we rarely used the space for family time and activities.  It mostly just stored stuff.  And boy does that excess stuff accumulate fast!  Don't know what to do with something?  Just put it in the basement.  We'll deal with it "later".  So we decided that we were going to rent it out again and use that money to do some extras that we wouldn't normally be able to afford, like fun vacations and buying CG the truck he's always wanted.  The key to our reasoning was to "get ahead" financially.  Remember that will be funny later on.

So we commenced with the emptying of our basement.  Phrases like "where did all this @#$% come from" and "are we done yet?" were heard frequently.  The basement required very little work (or so we thought) to get it ready to rent again so it was mostly just sorting through all the stuff that had accumulated for "later".  Later is a nasty, vengeful word.  It holds a grudge.  Big time.

We decided that since we would be putting up (semi) permanent walls in order to make the separate entrance for the basement apartment, we should probably re-do the kitchen floor beforehand so that it would all match, should we ever choose to take the walls back down.  Honestly, the kitchen floor has needed intervention for the last several years and there's no time like the present!  And it seemed so logical and responsible to have that taken care of before renting out again.  Given our time restraints and the accepting of our lack of DIY love, we decided to have the entire thing done by a flooring company.  Again, responsible and mature.

The flooring is selected, ordered and the deposit makes it all official.  But there were some issues with the ordering and the delivering.  And then the floor was finally installed two days before the walls were going up.  Mild panic.  But it was fine.  I watched the installer work (occasional glimpses....I didn't want to be weird) and it seemed a little....not like I was expecting.  But I'm not a flooring professional so I didn't bug him.  And it's not like he wasn't working hard, because he was.  I was just told that 3-4 layers of flooring should come off (he removed one) and there was a strong possibility of needing a new underlayment (he used mud) and it just didn't seem right.  But it was done in time and we rejoiced!  Until.....

Our brand new "luxury vinyl tile" was scratched to oblivion within the first week.  We did not rejoice.  We were mad.  And when I say "we", I mean "me".  I was ticked.  We just spent a significant amount of money and it was wearing worse than the cheap vinyl tiles we put in seven years ago!  So I called the flooring company and it seemed there were two separate problems.....the tile itself (which they are thankfully replacing even though they said the warranty says you have to have felt feet on chairs....psh) and the floor preparation which can be fixed once the floor is being replaced.

But what about those walls we put up for the basement entrance?!?  Yes.....exactly.  I'll come back to this later though.  I'm trying to keep it sequential so no one gets confused.

Also during this time, the van decided that the air conditioning no longer wanted to work.  Like at all.  And I have two girls who can't handle intense heat and a van that doesn't have back windows that go down.  It was a non-negotiable fix.  A $1600 non-negotiable fix.  Ahem.

As for the basement apartment, we replaced the disposal the last renters broke, replaced a bath fixture, cleaned things out (thanks to my saintly sister in law) and did some painting.  And it was ready.  Until they tried to plug in their dryer.

Turns out the "dryer plug" actually had a wooden stud in front of it, impeding access.  But it didn't matter anyway since it was the wrong plug AND didn't have any power running to it anyhow.  So we had to have a new dryer plug run to that room.  But in order to do that, we had to have the entire electrical panel replaced. And then replace all the breakers because they didn't fit into the new panel.  All very common and yet very bad timing.

Of course, this was all taking place during the last week of school, which everyone knows is a very calm and not at all crazy time.   But wait!  It gets better!  Or worse, depending on how you look at it.  During all of the electrical hullabaloo in the basement our upstairs oven locked.  As in, locked itself shut (like for a self cleaning cycle) and refused to open.  No matter what we did.  No Open.  We consulted the Google and learned many things.  First of all, NEVER use your self cleaning cycle because it causes problems like this pretty frequently.  Also?  Our warranty expired in April.  This was June.  The most helpful information was that there is a fuse at the back of the oven that may (or may not....didn't read any true success stories) undo this problem if you change it.  Just pull the oven out and take a look.  The thing is, we have a wall oven.  Wall ovens are super heavy and so they make sure that they are securely screwed into the wall so that it doesn't fall out.  All you have to do to get the oven out of the wall, is to open the door and take out the screws on each side.  Unless you can't open the door.  And then you're screwed.

We've heard different tips and purchased/returned tools that are supposed to help us, but 6+ weeks later I am still without an oven.  Yes, you read that right.  I don't have a working oven.  The girl who makes almost everything from scratch and bakes/cooks all the time doesn't have an oven.  Well, an oven that opens and is usable.  Still looks like new though!  I frequently point out to CG how well I'm coping with this and often request that he fully appreciates the lack of crying, yelling, nagging or complete melting down that has resulted in this lack of oven.  He looks at me like I'm crazy.  Six weeks and counting.......

In other news, Dexter has had this weird (kind of gross) growth that has been growing on his leg for a couple years now.  It never seemed to bother him so we didn't worry too much about it.  But then he got a growth by his eye that really seemed to bother him.  We took him to the vet and everyone was shocked at his age because he still acts like a puppy.  Which is both good and bad.  We opted to do the surgery and he's doing much better now.  But I really thought this was going to be what truly pushed me over the edge.

The Cone of Shame
Some dogs hate it, some hide when wearing it, some dogs probably do other things.  I don't really know.  What I do know is that Dexter opted to use it like a bulldozer.  You got in his way?  He would just push you with the big plastic cone until you got out of his way.  He used it in any way he could.  I'm not totally convinced he hated it.  By the way, having a cone of shame rammed into the back of your legs is surprisingly painful.  And he's a pretty strong dog.  He almost pushed CG down the back stairs.  The rest of us didn't have a chance, really.

Then this cute girl got glasses.

And then she broke her arm.  Dodge ball is a mean, mean game when you're half the size of everyone else.

Thankfully we have insurance and even though we have a fun deductible to pay before insurance will pay anything (so we pretty much will pay for it all), we still have it if we needed it.  Perspective.

Other than all that, we've been having a great summer!  Time is flying by way too fast and I have so many posts to catch up on....the end of the school year, dance recitals, swimming, glasses and all the other fun things we've been up to.  Even hiking!  We are the hiking family this year!

Also?  I cut off about a foot of hair.  I should probably post pictures of that.

But for now.....I'm going to bed.
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