Saturday, October 10, 2015

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Dark Chocolate Milk

I like making my own coffee creamer. I get most of the recipes from Mrs Happy Homemaker and so far the only one I've been disappointed in is the chocolate one. It's just not chocolatey enough for me. The one thing all these recipes call for is a can of sweetened condensed milk. That I don't usually keep on hand. So when the mood strikes me to make say Almond Joy creamer I can't. Because if I run to the store for sweetened condensed milk, I'm just going to pick up the Almond Joy creamer. You know what I'm saying here?

So making sweetened condensed milk seemed like a good idea - time intensive, but mostly down time. Just stirring and watching. So I searched for a recipe that uses almond milk. We've recently switched to almond milk, we like it better. Of course there's one out there and I found it here.

But I like chocolate. And hello...remember - not chocolatey enough? So why can't I make chocolate sweetened condensed milk? Why not? Hey, I'm willing to try anything once (or twice if I think it's just a minor tweak). So using these ingredients:


I tried my hand at making some dark chocolate sweetened condensed milk. I changed the sugar quantity from the original recipe to 1/2 cup and subbed 1/4 cup of the dark chocolate chips for rest.

After I got it all heated up it looked like this:


And, by the way, smelled really good. Even the Z_man said it smelled good and he doesn't like chocolate. Or milk. How this child is mine, I'll never know. But I digress.

I was ├╝ber cautious with the whole cooking thing. Maybe too cautious, but I have an electric stove and those things don't reduce heat very quickly. But I did cook it down to about half. But it never thickened up like I thought it would.


So, working on the premise of "sauce will thicken as it stands" I left it in the measuring cup for a while. I mean, I had to get to room temperature anyway - might as well see if it helps the cause. I had to whisk it about every 10 minutes or so because the chocolate wanted to separate.

It never did thicken but I plunged ahead anyway. I added 3 tbsp of dark chocolate syrup and some vanilla and started shaking away trying to get everything mixed together.

It did go together fine and the next morning I tried it out. Gross. It had a weird aftertaste, which could have come from using the almond milk, or reducing the amount of sugar. Who knows? Maybe there was too much chocolate (I'm pretty sure this isn't a thing though!). Ahh well, live and learn.

I have used recipes on the site before and they were winners. They also used canned sweetened condensed milk, so honestly, this is where I'm pretty sure I went wrong. I'm willing to give it another shot though. I think I will just buy a small amount of regular milk and forgo the almond milk the next go round though.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Shampoo Bars

I think we all know about my love of making soap. So I figured why not try my hand at shampoo bars? If it didn't work out, I can always use them as regular soap so I'm not losing anything by trying.

I followed recipe #2 found at Skin + Soul. I picked this one simply because I already had all the necessary ingredients. That's some deep research there. =) Once the bars were cured (almost) long enough to use I embarked on my experiment.

Week One:
I started out following 'standard' hair detox rules. Don't wash every day, use a mixture of ACV (apple cider vinegar) and (distilled) water to rinse. This mixture started off as a 50/50. But people, I live in the south - and it's humid here. Yes, even in September. And I sweat. A lot. So, whenever I'd start to sweat all I could smell was vinegar. Not pleasant. So I added more water to this and diluted it down to about a ratio of 1 to 4.

And I continued. My hair looked crappy every other day. Folks, I'm growing out a Ginnifer Goodwin pixie cut. I can't cover up my bad hair days. By the end of week one my hair felt weird - a little gummy? Not sure how to explain it - but not right. Determined to give it a fair shot I moved into week two.

Week Two:
I decided to try something new. No ACV rinse after I shampoo. But, when I reached mid week my hair felt like straw. So on a no wash day, I did the rinse. Honestly, I still can't stand the smell. There has got to be another solution for that.

My hair looks and feels dry as the Mojave. So I've begun to investigate other natural shampoos. I've seen a beer recipe and a honey recipe. I'm willing to give either of those a shot at this point. I also still have some regular shampoo and conditioner and honestly, they are looking mighty fine right about now!

I will keep plugging away though. One more week and I might cave or I might see if there's something else I can try.

Week Three:
Stick a fork in me. I caved and used my regular shampoo and conditioner. To be able to actually run a comb through my hair again was divine! But now, my hair is falling out again. This didn't happen with the bar. So, I'm thinking I might find a more conditioning recipe and give it another shot. With a rose water rinse though. I definitely cannot handle the ACV rinse!!

What I learned:
I love trying new and different things. I had a blast making the shampoo bars and even seeing how my hair reacted. I'm pretty sure there is a solution for me out there. I'm probably going to wait until my hair is long enough to put up before I try again though. I really need a way to cover the bad days and transition period.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Southern 500

I attended my first NASCAR race this past weekend. The Southern 500 at Darlington. Y'all it was a blast!

I've had trouble finding a driver to throw my support behind in the NASCAR world - Mark Martin retired, Marcus Ambrose went back home, which left me with no driver. So, looking for someone without some form of Mark in their name, and from the USA I decided on Kyle Larson. I decided he was young enough to stick around for a while and I didn't feel like I was jumping on anyones band wagon.

This is what his car looked like at this throw back weekend.

Sorry, every picture was taken on my phone with a sun glare - so yeah, they could have been better. =)

Here's a couple of my boys



And our seats - right at the start finish line


Guys, this was blast. Definitely something I want to do again. But, as always, there are lessons to be learned.

1. They let you bring in a cooler, and you should. Water is $4 a bottle. Gag. Also snacks can go in this cooler. Fries - also $4 for a little cup.

2. Kyle Busch fans act exactly like Kyle Busch. They are pretty much a-holes and self centered. I'm making a shirt next time with Kyle Busch's face on it with a big red X through his face. These people are jerks. Great fan base you've got there 'Rowdy'.

3. People hate Jimmie Johnson. Really. Hate. Him. My husband is a Jimmie Johnson fan (ok Chad Knaus, really), and he's a good guy. I don't know JJ personally, but he seems like a pretty decent guy. So I'm not sure why all the hate. Except maybe losers hate winners.

4. Darlington is a cell phone dead spot. At least for my phone. I tried to live tweet the antics of a Kevin Harvick fan who was sitting in front me. It was going to be funny because it started with him eating hummus. I don't have anything against hummus (or Kevin Harvick) but lets face it - not exactly track food. But he was smart enough to bring his own snacks, so good on him.

5. The crowd really does lose it when the introduce Dale Earnhardt Jr. Seriously. All they said was "driving the Valvoline" and the crowd goes nuts. You better know who the heck they're talking about if you're not a Jr. fan.

6. You will leave covered in I don't know what. Grit of some sort. Tire grit?

If you're a NASCAR fan I highly recommend hitting up a race near you. Just cross your fingers that you're not sitting near any Kyle Busch fans.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Summer Round Up

Monday my baby will officially be in high school. I'll officially have no control over his lessons. He's excited. I'm losing my mind. I'll definitely keep everyone updated but for now I'm going to overload you with pictures of what we've been doing to enjoy the last of our summer.

May
Shortly after our return from the World of Disney one of my nieces and her family arrived in FL. She must really love her old auntie and uncle. This is the first time I've seen her since 2006 and the first time I've met her hubby and kids. Only a year until the next visit though - we will all be getting together for a wedding! =)







June
June found us back in Myrtle Beach for the SC firefighters conference. Of course Erik had to work Friday night so Zach and I spent some time at the aquarium and then wandered around and hung out until Erik was done. It was a long day, but incredibly fun. 







And any trip to Myrtle would not be complete without a round of putt-putt! This time Erik got to join us! My dad was looking out for me that day because I actually won! Thanks for the helping hand Daddy!





July
July is celebration month around this place. Independence Day, my birthday, Erik's birthday. We really did the fireworks up right this year!


My honey bought me a cake and finally broke down and realized I'm a princess. Yep - he hooked me up with a tiara! My girls hooked me up with some awesome presents too. Red velvet cake and coffee stuff! They know me too well.....





I got Erik tickets to Darlington - we have to wait until September to enjoy those though. I did wish him a happy birthday in his native tongue though.




August
Well August isn't quite over yet. We started with a going away party for one of my girls. The Air Force is moving them to Italy. They leave Monday. Right now they're homeless and hunkering down with us. She has a little tiny dog - who I've become very attached to in last few weeks. =) I'll probably let them take her with them. I'm glad they get to start a new adventure, but sad because I choose my friends carefully - and she's 1/4 of our little group. =( 




She really hates this picture but I don't care!
It's my blog!! 


Monday, July 6, 2015

High School is Coming

Hard to believe that this looker is starting high school in August.




Yep, no longer my little baby boy - now he's all growing up and stuff. Any ideas on how to stop that? Anyone? Well, if you think of something let me know!



Now, when he started talking about getting a high school experience I freaked. Then I thought, well, ok. Let's learn about the school he would go to. During the weeks of my sleuthing I learned 1. His high school is the worst in the district for passing those tests I don't agree with. 2. Gang violence is very common (three lockdowns in the two weeks I was investigating - one involved a gun). 3. Both the parents and students seem to be ok with these situations. All of these factors made the whole idea seem stupid. But...

Let's face it, I was already struggling with his math (and it's pre algebra), so I also knew something was going to have to change this year. So he's getting his experience without the gangs, guns, and apathy. In August Zach will be attending Connections Academy. This is an online public school option here. He's completely enrolled and is excited about being around other kids (even in the virtual world). They have a couple clubs he's very interested in joining too.

Deciding things is hard. Especially when you've been making all the education decisions. I hope we are doing the right thing. I told him he had to finish the whole year before he decides if it's not for him. We shall see.....

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

DisneyWorld




It's been a long time since we've visited the main mouse at his Florida home. About three years. Last time we went Zach was shorter than me, he wasn't a teenager, and it was much cooler! This time we made the trip in May instead of February. Big difference. While I really enjoyed the one day we spent at Blizzard Beach I don't know if it was worth roasting the rest of the days.

This time we got to stay at Bay Lake Towers. People, it's right across the street from the Magic Kingdom! We asked for theme park view and enjoyed the fireworks every single night sans crowds and screaming kids. Awesome.

The view from our balcony. 

We were also there during the Epcot flower and garden show. This year I got to see so many cool topiaries. Some of my favorite characters in bush form. Yep, you can't beat that!

Phineas & Ferb topiaries!


The new Fantasyland was open. And I made the boys ride the Ariel ride. She's so my girl, I had to! I didn't get my nails painted this Ariel color to NOT go on the ride!



We had a great time and I took way to many pictures to post here. I suppose I could, but between the photo pass and what I took on my phone, there are tons! So, I'll share some of my favorites from the Photo Pass group.

At the entrance

Haunted Mansion

7 Dwarfs Mine Cart - AWESOME!


Zach's favorite - Splash Mountain

Epcot

Epcot

Epcot


Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom






Hollywood Studios



Tower of Terror - in the back row on the left!

As usual, we had a great time. Next time, we go when it's much cooler though!