Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Raise The Roof!

Just the opposite, actually.  We started taking off the roof tonight.  Saturday is our day to get this building moved to our yard, so before that can happen we need to completely remove the roof.  The shingles are going in the garbage but our plan is to salvage the planks underneath.

Brent used a pitchfork to peel back a layer of asphalt shingles and then a layer of cedar shingles underneath of that.

While we pull shingles, Brad is hard at work emptying the shed for us.

The kids even pitched in a little bit.  Owen thought every cedar shingle was a sword though so his time spent picking up wood was counter active to the amount of time he spent swinging it around.

Yep, those are their winter mittens.  I don't think they make toddler sized work gloves, it may encourage child labor.

Watch out for those rusty nails kids!  

Monday, July 15, 2013

Thanks A Latte!

Every morning for the past 5 years, Brent and I have been making our own iced lattes at home.  From our detailed calculations, it costs about $.75 cents per 16 oz latte, by the time you use coffee, milk and sweetener.  Lots of people have asked us over the years how we make them.  It's actually super simple and only takes a few minutes of prep time every week or two.

Here are the supplies you will need.

A toddy system, which we bought here, about a pound of course ground dark roast coffee and 8 cups of water.  You can also use the concentrate from the toddy to make hot coffee by warming it up in the microwave.

We buy the 2.5 lb bag of Caribou French Roast from Sam's Club and use their grinder on the coarsest setting to grind the entire bag.  This 2.5 lb bag will last us about a month.  We have also had good luck with World Market coffee but we used it for a long time and were ready for a little different flavor.

So first you put the plug in the bottom of the toddy.

Then put the white filter inside the bottom of the toddy.

Place the toddy up on top of the glass carafe.

Pour 4 cups of cold fresh water into the empty toddy.

Then begin pouring coffee grounds in on top of the water until the grounds are about 2 inches from the top rim.  Do not press down on the grounds and do not stir!  Stirring will cause the smallest grounds to go to the bottom and it will plug the filter.  The coffee cannot drain properly with the filter plugged.

Now pour the remaining 4 cups of water on top, going in circles to soak as many of the grounds as possible.  There will still be a lot of dry patches and that is ok.

Time to let it set overnight.  Let it steep at least 12 hours and do not move it unless you have to.  Be very gentle if you move it.

After 12 hours, lift the white tub by the handle and remove the black plug.  

Set it back on the glass carafe and let it drain for a few minutes.

Now we transfer the concentrate into a different container so we can use the glass carafe for the next step.  Here is the container that we put our first batch in.

Replace the plug and pour another 8 cups of cold water on top of the wet grounds.  You can make a second batch out of the same grounds.  The second batch will be a little bit weaker but is still delicious!

Time to make up a coffee!  

Ice and coffee concentrate.

Add flavor syrup.  We buy ours from here or you can also find it at the grocery store, World Market or Sam's Club.

Then top off with milk.  

Stir and she is all ready to go!  You may have to mess around with the ratios of coffee, syrup and milk until you find a combination that appeals to you.  Brent only uses a small amount of coffee while I use 2/3 a glass of concentrate.  Just depends on your taste.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Erasing The Memories

A few months ago we had a terrible ice storm that caused a ton of damage.  

A branch from our neighbors yard fell and brought down the power line to our house and ripped the electrical box off the side of the house.  This is where it used to be.

We hired an electrician to repair it to the tune of around $1,000.  Yikes!!  To bring it up to code, he had to relocate it around the corner, near that blue trash can in the photo.  The day after he had completed his work, the power company turned our power back on.  There must have been a short somewhere in the wires inside the conduit and it began popping and smoking.  Luckily, our neighbors could hear and smell something so they called the fire department and then me, because I was at work.

I came home to a basement, front yard and backyard full of fire fighters and police men.  The siding just ended up with some smoke damage and the electrician came right over to tear out the wiring and do it all over again.  But we were left with this little mess to clean up.

I first tried some soapy water and a scrub pad but that was getting me nowhere, so I turned to the 'ol standby...A Magic Eraser.   The results were incredible.  It only took about 15 minutes of scrubbing and we were left with this.

I still have to repaint this side of the house and the backside where the original electrical box was, but at least this isn't a constant reminder of that terrible day anymore!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Flower Boxes - A Before and After

This is an intriguing post about the growth of plants.  Boring to many, exciting to a few.  I've found, when you plant and water your own plants, you are much more amazed by their growth.  Probably a lot like children.  Before you have kids, people always tell you, "it will be different when it's your own."  When you have to work that hard to nourish something, you want to see "growth".

This spring, we had a terrible ice storm that took down trees and branches all along our street.  At the time it seemed devastating, but now, because there aren't as many leaves to shade our yard, the flowers are doing better than ever.  I used to have to choose plants that were meant for full shade because the trees blocked all of the sunlight.  Now one of our flower boxes is in full sun for over half of the day!

As a side note, impatiens and begonias do wonderfully in shady flower boxes.

Without further ado:



Sunday, July 7, 2013

Barn Wood Flower Boxes

My parents have an adorable little shed in their yard to store swimming pool equipment in.  Mom asked us to build her a few flower boxes for it.  Since we are always looking for ways to create things out of materials we already own, we figured this would be a perfect project to build from our barnwood pile.  The flower boxes would be essentially free and they would add a ton of character to the shed.
We chose a few pieces that were the same width and thickness, pulled old rusty nails out and cut the ends off to start with a square piece.  Brent informed me that every good carpenter knows to square up the ends before starting anything.  News to me!
We began by measuring the sides, which for our 18" flower box liner, that meant our sides were 7 3/8 wide.  
The front and back were measured and cut next at 20" inches each.
Safety first.  Brent is a stickler for protective gear...
This is why my dad told me woodworking and flip flops don't mix.
We use a Kreg jig to build things that we don't want screws to show, so we drilled the holes we needed.
After our holes were drilled, we use special Kreg screws to attach everything together.
For the bottom, we centered a piece to allow for drainage on the sides.
We purchased a few 18" flower box liners that just drop in.  Here is what my parents shed looked like before.
Brent added blocking on the interior to support the boxes without having to use brackets.
And here is the finished product...
We thought the barnwood tied in great with the cedar shingles.  Actually, Brent didn't really care :)
Total cost of these flower boxes:  $14.00

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Show Me The Money...What A Vacation Really Costs.

Wow!  What a week!  The resort was amazing.  We don't have one negative thing to say about Great Wolf Lodge.

Brent and I had just as much fun in the water parks as the kids did!  Everything there was geared towards kids and families.  Nightly story time, balloon animals, face painting and character appearances made the evenings fly by.
The restaurant in the hotel had sub par kid's food, but Emma and Owen didn't seem to notice.  The only meal they had there was a little pizza and some fries.  Brent and I shared a Thai salad and some cheese curds, which were all really good.
As a parent, I was most impressed with the lifeguard staff.  There are multiple lifeguards at every pool and they do not take their eyes off the water.
One day was overcast and chilly, so we were the only ones in the outdoor pool for awhile.  Even without anyone in the pool, the lifeguards were constantly scanning their heads side to side across the pool.  And they were all so nice!!  I felt so comfortable by day three, that Emma and Owen were allowed to venture to whichever water park they wanted.  So long as they stuck together and they needed to come tell us which park they were moving to if they wanted to change it up.  Brent and I got to lounge at the outdoor pool while they were busy playing at the inside parks.
Did it feel weird not knowing where they were every second?  A little bit, but we knew with Emma in charge they were fine and it was important door them to do some exploring on their own without us hovering over them.
The best part of our stay, in my opinion, was the Starbucks in the lobby!  I can't sleep later than 6:30am, so each morning I would go down and get coffee for myself while everyone else was asleep.  Sipping a dark roast on our 4th floor deck with the sun coming up and a book in my hands was pure bliss.  Usually after an hour, Owen would come find me and snuggle for a bit until asking for a nutritious breakfast of pop tarts and yogurt.
By now, you are probably pulling your hair out wondering if we came in over or under budget!  

Here is our original budget with our actual $ spent next to it.

Hotel:  Budget $541.83
           Actual $541.83

Gas:  Budget $200.00
         Actual $148.61

Food:  Budget $400
           Actual $300

Emma Fun:  Budget $40
                    Actual $27

Owen Fun:  Budget.$40
                    Actual $0

Family Fun:  Budget $220
                     Actual $175


Not bad, considering we were gone from home for 8 days/7 nights.  Luckily, we got to stay with my very generous sister and brother-in-law for 4 nights, which only cost us a few hugs and lots of laughs.  
We also feel good about only eating out at restaurants 4 times the entire trip.  The rest of our meals were either prepared at sis's house or made up of snacks from our hotel room.
Will we be doing this again a year from now?  Absolutely!  We just have to decide if we are going back to Great Wolf or checking out a different resort!