Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pizza and Ziti!

Dear Husband (DH) and I were in a cooking mood the other weekend.
First things first: homemade pizza!

Neither of us had ever made pizza dough from scratch. DH had found this pizza dough recipe online. It called for "bread flour" which includes some extra gluten-something-or-other. We just used regular flour, but ended up adding nearly another cup to make it the right consistency.

We stretched it out pretty thin, because we wanted a thin-crust pizza. This gave us some extra dough left over, so DH had the great idea to make them into breadsticks.

We each added our preferred toppings to our side of the pizza. He put on pepperoni, olives, mozzarella, and a touch of feta. I had some pepperoni, olives, feta, mozzarella,and artichoke hearts (diced up from a can I had in the pantry). Nom nom nom.

It actually turned out fantastic! I would take it any day over frozen pizza and even some of the cheaper delivery pizzas. The only tough part is that the dough has to sit and rise for at least an hour and a half, so you need to plan in advance.
(P.S. that wine is also AWESOME! It was on super sale when we bought it, but it was a "limited release" so when I went back to buy bunches more, they only had one bottle left.)

The other thing we made was baked ziti. (But we use rigatoni noodles... shhh!)
Here is my go-to recipe... Just make sure to bake it covered.
The other thing? It makes a boatload! It's great if you are hosing a dinner or event because you can prep it early.
But with just DH and I, that is a-lot of food, so we split it into thirds. One for that day, and the other two to freeze! (Also a great dish to freeze and gift.)

Here is DH spreading the layers of sauce. It's not a complicated recipe, just a little time-intensive with all the layering.
Oh, we once made it with gluten-free noodles for a friend. She said it tasted great, but didn't re-heat very well.

Hope this gives you some good ideas for dinners!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Shockingly Dry House

Dear Husband wandered over to his desk, reached out to grab the Doritos, and got shocked. Literally!
Our house was so dry, that he got a static shock from a potato chip bag.

Our house came with a humidifier attached to the furnace, but I don't know the last time it was used or if it even worked. (It's that black and almond colored box at the top center of the picture.)
I didn't even want to think about the mold that could be growing in there, much less spreading through the house if we turned it on.

This past December we replaced the furnace on short notice (out of necessity) so we didn't have time for them to replace the humidifier as well.
We had it on our list to get replaced when our DIYer friend, HandyE, mentioned he had installed his own humidifier. While it was too much for us alone, he was willing to help us out and came over to take the lead.

The first step was to remove the old humidifier. Taking it apart, we found... whatever this is. 
I don't know how/what filter you would need to replace, but that is assuming they still sell those filters 20 years later.

Below is Dear Husband (DH) safely removing the wires from the old unit. Don't worry we turned off the power. 

And here he is again removing the humidifier base that was attached to the duct. 

What did we find? Huh, that's weird... the air conditioner comes down right into that part of the duct work, effectively cutting off any air flow from the humidifier. That just won't do. Looks like we will have to mount the new humidifier lower.

To the left is HandyE cutting out the new spot. I also got in there to help... yes, I often make funny faces while trying to do something tricky. (I'm just glad I wasn't caught with my tongue sticking out!)

HandyE also replaced the old water line and valve. (Whew, because I don't think I would have known how!)

Don't worry, Eva was supervising as usual to make sure we were on track!

Such a good supervisor!

 Ta-dah! All installed! The shiny rectangle at the top is a sheet of metal sealing up the old hole. The brand new humidifier can be seen below that attached above the new furnace. The small white rectangle to the right (with the circle knob) is the humidifier control.

Let me tell you, having a properly humidified house makes all the difference! No more sore throats in the morning, not as much dry skin, an no more getting zapped from the Doritos bag!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Seeping Sinks

If I turn them off "just right" they don't drip... so that's ok, right?

That has been my mantra since we moved in. Two of our sinks have a tendency to drip or leak.

Here is the first offender: the master bathroom sink.
It is your standard single-knob Delta faucet. If you push it down (off), it will drip out of the spout unless you twist it all the way to the left ("hot") side. I explained this to the guy at the hardware store and he handed me something and said I needed to replace the "seats and springs."

Oookie dokie... I bought what he said, and headed home to Google it.
Turns out there are a couple of tiny springs and rubber bits that help keep everything aligned and sealed. If the rubber wears or the springs "stick," it won't seal and water will sneak through and drip out the faucet.
So a few YouTube instructional videos later (ok, LOTS): I had the sink taken apart, greased up, new parts put in, and everything reassembled.

Now there is no more dripping, but there was also a pleasant side effect: the plumbing grease made all the difference; the handle turns so much easier now!

With some plumbing confidence behind me, I assisted HandyE (our super handy friend) fix the kitchen sink.
It wasn't leaking out of the faucet, but out of the joint where the handle attaches to the fixture. It was a similar problem where the O-rings (sealing rubber bits) were worn and needed to be replaced.
It was a little trickier since the kitchen sink is a bit more complicated, but thanks to HandyE and all his tools he got it fixed.

Ok, since I was fixing all these faucets, I might as well tackle the guest-bath as well. While it doesn't leak or drip, the handle in the tub is VERY tough to turn. I was worried I would eventually break it off when giving Eva a bath! (You can see her helping in the picture, inspecting the parts.)

A few more new rubber sealing parts and some faucet grease, and it was as good as new. Amazing how less than $8 worth of bits and parts can prevent a broken handle, water spraying uncontrollably everywhere, and a very expensive plumber!

All it took was (a lot of) research online. Ok, and a pinch of bravery to take the leap into plumbing.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Loud Little Toaster

A couple years ago, with our wedding wedding money, we splurged and bought a fancy toaster.
It is awesome! It has an LCD screen, lots of settings that toast/defrost perfectly, and even a motor to lower and raise the toast instead of a springy-lever thing.

The only problem? Since there is no *sproing* sound to let you know when your toast is done, a buzzer sounds instead. And it is LOUD. Everyone in the house knows when your toast is done.

Since Dear Husband (DH) is an electrical engineer, he of course wanted to take it apart to take the speaker out. The first time he inspected it, he turned it upside-down and all the crumbs fell out on the floor. Bless his heart, he swept up every last one of them.

What he found out was that they used special screws so that you need a special "prong" shaped screwdriver to disassemble it. Well it just so happened that our friend, who is very handy with house repairs, came to visit us this past weekend. We will call him HandyE. (Hopefully he doesn't mind!) He took one of our crummy screwdrivers and ground it down with a dremmel tool to create just the tool we needed.

After that, there was just the "simple" task of unscrewing the housing and removing the circuit boards to find the Piezoelectric buzzer (talk about a fancy schmancy technical term!) Eva always likes to help, and was very good at cleaning the toast crumbs that fell on the floor.

It took a little bit of searching, but he found it and pried it out.
All that noise from such a little thing!

He easily put the toaster back together, and then tested it out. Yes, I grabbed the fire extinguisher from underneath the kitchen sink just in case.
We didn't need it and the bread was toasted perfectly, all without a sound! Success!
We can now have quiet toast in the mornings.