Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas morning

The ingredients for the Christmas Feast have been sourced and the presents lay waiting under the tree.  Champagne is chilling for Bucks Fizz, and I'm up early, enjoying Christmas morning peace and dulcet tunes broadcast from a carol service in Buckingham Palace, brought to me by the magic of internet.  Soon, via that same magic, I'll be joining the relatives across the sea for a video chat.

D and I celebrate Christmas on our own with a feast of epicurean scale.  Due to an unfortunate back strain on the part of the husband, I've been called up from the minor leagues to undertake feast production duties... properly supervised, of course, because my lack of ability in the kitchen is legendary.  Fingers crossed our cooperative effort is up to the standards of his usual production.

I'm two days in to a long, long Christmas break in which I intend doing little more than watching ridiculous amounts of Christmas movies and TV, drinking ludicrous amounts of champagne and Absolut Vanilla vodka, and eating absurd amounts of chocolate.

To you and yours, I wish a Happy Christma-hanna-kwanzi-kah (or Festivus for the rest of us) and all the best for the New Year.  Thanks so much for stopping by my little corner of the net.

Happy Holidays All!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Amongst my Favorite Things: Sonic Scrubber

D and I have been sporadically, and yet constantly, remodeling the little shack on the prairie for over 4 years now.  We work on it as funds and enthusiasm allow and frequently find ourselves lacking either or both.  But one of the things we (and by "we" I totally mean "he") accomplished some time ago, to my great delight, is the remodeling of our home's single bathroom.

And it is beauteous.  D single-handedly demolished the dire toilet, vanity, vinyl tiles and painted-over tin-tile wainscoting and wallpaper and rebuilt the bathroom around the only thing left - the old cast iron tub, which is in decent shape and too dang heavy to consider removing.  He replaced the ugly vanity with a pedestal sink, installed a new toilet, laid ceramic floor tiles, and most impressively of all, affixed over 1,200 subway tiles to the walls to replace the tin-tile wainscoting and create a tub/shower surround.

Here are before and after shots:

Quite a transformation, no?  When the bath renovation was finished, it was the most "done" room in the entire house and I was thrilled with it.  I was so excited that if I could have filled the tub with cushions and installed satellite television in there, I would have moved into the bathroom full time.  

Since we chose - some might say foolishly - white grout for both the floor and the wall tiles, we invested a little extra money and a LOT of extra pain-in-the-ass effort (on D's part anyway) for epoxy grout, which is supposed to resist staining.  One of the things I promised D, after all his hard work, is that I would keep the bathroom sparkling clean.  And I did... for a while.

Then life and my old bad habits got in the way and suddenly I found that I hadn't scrubbed the shower walls for a good couple of months and we were a getting pinkish scum build-up in there.  So I scrubbed, and scrubbed and scrubbed some more.  And while I could get the bathroom sparkling clean, the grout lines stubbornly hung on to their new pink hue.  Fecking epoxy grout - stain resistant, my ass.

I had seen an infomercial for the Sonic Scrubber and then noticed that they were sold at Bed, Bath & Beyond with the Dow Scrubbing Bubbles brand name added.  Perhaps this isn't the normal "as seen on TV" useless tat?  After checking out some good reviews on the interweb, I decided to try one out.

Combined with Soft Scrub with bleach, this thing works a treat.  No scrubbing or sweating, just slowly pass the spinning brush across the grout and presto, it's sparkling clean!  It's like a power toothbrush for tile - awesome!

And as a little follow up tip for anybody else that hates cleaning the shower as much as I do, I have only one thing to say: daily shower spray.  I never really believed in this stuff.  In fact, at nearly three dollars a bottle, which you can easily go through in a week or two, I considered it a bit of a waste.  But after diligently detailing my shower tiles with the Sonic Scrubber (which, while easy, was still time consuming) I decided to try it out - but found a recipe for a homemade version which is easy to mix up in a spray bottle and very inexpensive as well.

1/2 cup (4oz) Hydrogen Peroxide
1/2 cup (4oz) Rubbing Alcohol
2 tsp Jet Dry dishwasher rinse agent
A couple of drops of dish soap
4 cups (24oz) of water

I've been spraying this on my shower daily for about 2 months now.  The shower wall tiles still look sparkling clean and I haven't had to scrub them once. 

So there you are, friends.  If you've got a bunch of tile grout to clean, get thyself a Sonic Scrubber!

Note: I haven't been compensated for this review/recommendation in any way.  I just loved this thing so much I want to share it with the world.  Or at least the little troupe of you reading my blog.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Revelations in the dental chair

I went to the dentist this week for my 6 month cleaning and check up.  There was a time in my late 20s when I was traveling constantly for work that I got fairly, shall we say, neglectful about taking care of my teeth.  The HMO dentist I was seeing made you schedule appointments a minimum of three months in advance.  I generally couldn't tell you where I was going to be in three weeks, let alone three months.  After canceling and rescheduling, canceling and rescheduling, I gave up going to the dentist at all.  For like three years.

Then I went back.  They scheduled two separate deep-cleaning sessions because they weren't sure I was "going to be able to take it" in one session.  The hygenist practically climbed up onto the chair with me, bracing herself with her sturdy legs while going into my mouth with a pickax and a miner's lantern hat.  Or at least that's what it felt like.

And I vowed to change my ways.  I took up flossing with a vengeance.  I make my next dental appointment for bang-on six months away before I leave my current appointment.  And when I go back, they scrape at my teeth for about 15 minutes and do a quick polish.  And I'm all, "That's it?"  They warn me that I should be swishing with Act to address a couple of weak spots that could become cavities and send me on my way.  They've been warning about those weak spots for 5 years now.

So this week during the cleaning, I'm laying in the chair trying to relax my hands which have balled up into little fists, and release my back muscles that are trying to levitate me off the chair.  And the hygenist is scraping and scraping.  I'm wondering when this is going to end.  She does the whirry-polishing thing and THEN gets out her scraper for another go at my molars.  I'm wondering... is there something wrong here or is she just being more... diligent than my previous hygenists?

Then the cleaning is over and the dentist comes in and starts poking around my mouth and casually orders a filling on two teeth.  Two cavities - including one that wasn't citied as a previously-noted weak spot?  WTF?

Then I remembered.  My husband recently discovered these divine toffees in the bulk candy bins at our local grocer's.  And after I had a few, I made him buy about three pounds of it and we (and by "we", I mean mostly "me") ate it all in less than a month.  These things are chewy, sticky, buttery-caramely bites of perfection and they became my go-to sweet of choice.  I'd have a couple as "dessert" after lunch, and a couple more as "dessert" after dinner and, hell, sometimes I would have one if I was walking through the kitchen and feeling a bit bored.  Then, as quickly and mysteriously as this decadent treat had appeared, the shop stopped selling them so I had to quit cold-turkey.  It hasn't been easy, mind.

But it turns out, layering chewy, sticky, buttery-caramely sugar onto my teeth on a fairly regular basis without increasing the frequency of brushing?  Not so good for the old chompers.  So, NEWSFLASH: sugar rots your teeth!

Damn it.  I hate it when my mother is right.