Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Test Kitchen - Spaghetti Dogs

If you visit Pinterest at all there's an excellent chance that you've seen this recipe.

Spaghetti Dogs

I'm a Pinterest fan and pinned this "recipe" a while back.

Last night daddy was working, so we opted for a Kid-centric dinner.

For this recipe you will need:

Hot dogs (I like all beef)
Spaghetti (I like whole wheat)
pot of boiling water

This is a fun dinner that the kids can help make.

Put on a large pot of water to boil.  Cut the hot dogs into bite size pieces and skewer them with spaghetti.

Skewer dogs with spaghetti

Once the water has reached a rolling boil, add the dogs.

Add to boiling water

After a few minutes the dogs will sink below the water level.  Cover and boil for 6 minutes.

Ready in 6 minutes

That's it!

I have one kid who's like Mikey.  He hates EVERYTHING!  This - he loved!

He hates EVERYTHING - but loves these!

Serving suggestions:

Top With:
* Pasta sauce and Parmesan cheese
* Cheese sauce
* Alfredo sauce
* Garlic and Butter

Meat Substitutes:
Instead of hot dogs try:
* Italian sausage
* Smoked sausage
* Bratwurst
* Veggie Hot Dogs

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Brownie Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches

Apparently some tax professionals make Chocolate Waffles to celebrate the end of tax season.  I've never heard of this tradition, but honestly I don't need a reason to make this yummy treat!

Brownie Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches

Brownie Ice Cream sandwiches
Mix up you favorite brownie recipe.  Instead of banking them in a pan, make the in the waffle iron!

Use an ice cream scoop
Allow the Brownie waffle to cool completely.

I used a biscuit cutter to make my finished product perfectly round.  This step is completely optional.

Next, sandwich semi soft ice cream between waffles.

That's it!!!



My kids love the waffles warm and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

I cant have lactose, so I use non-dairy whipped topping in place of ice cream.


Fixing Saggy Kitchen Drawers

In my book, there’s nothing worse than saggy drawers!  
I hate them on my teenage son and I hate them in my kitchen!   
Crooked Drawer, Broken Handle

Sagging Drawer

You know the ones!  I’m talking about those drawers where you pull it out and something is just not right.  It falls off to one side.  It leans too far forward or it leans too far back.  My kitchen is old(ish) and so I assumed that I’d have to get new cabinets to resolve the problem.  Turns out, I was wrong!

Fixing a sagging drawer is super easy and usually pretty cheap.  This repair cost only about $6!

New Slides in package

For this fix you WILL need:
Screw driver
New drawer slides
Measuring tape
Pen and paper

You MIGHT also need:
Rear mount

The problem:
When I open this drawer is tilts up, causing everything to slide to the back of the drawer.  The drawer doesn’t close smoothly and never seems to sit straight when closed.  Other problems you might notice: the drawer seems loose, won’t close entirely or won’t open entirely.

Sagging Drawer

Removing the drawer:
Pull the drawer out as far as it will go.  To remove the drawer from the cabinet you may have to press down on the metal drawer stop that is inside the cabinet.  Press both drawer stops at the same time to remove the drawer.

Press metal drawer stop to remove drawer

Inspect the old slides and mounts.  The slide is the metal piece that is mounted to the side of the drawer.  There is another slide mounted inside the cabinet.  The mount is the piece that attaches the slide to the back of the cabinet.  You might not have mounts.  Use a flash light to check the back of the cabinet for mounts. 

There should be 1 slide mounted to each side of the drawer and 1 slide mounted inside on each side of the cabinet.  You’re checking to see if screws are missing, if a slide is missing, bent or broken.   A missing or broken mount may be causing the problem.  [In my case 1 of the slides from inside the cabinet was missing entirely!]

broken slide mount

Another kind of slide mount

This is what the slides should look like!

The fix - Measure:
If you determine that a defective or missing slide or mount is the problem, measure the length of the slide attached to the drawer.  Write down your measurement.  Now measure the length of the slide that is mounted inside the cabinet.  Write it down.  Keep in mind that the 2 measurements may not be the same.  If possible, take the old slide or mount with you to the hardware store. 

At the store do your best to match the new parts you buy with the old parts.  Keep in mind that styles and colors change.  If you can't  find an exact match don’t panic.  Just do your best and save receipts in case you need to make a return or exchange.

Measure the slide mounted inside the cabinet
Measure the slide that is mounted to the drawer

Installing new parts:
Generally speaking, this is a simple screw driver job.  Using a cordless driver makes it even faster.  Unscrew old parts and install the new.  Make sure that the part you took off matches the part you put back on. 

screw on new slide

Use your camera phone to photograph the old part before you take if off.  Use the picture as a reference guide for how to install the new part.


Because our drawer was loose for so long, the drawer handle was used to lift/reposition the drawer a lot.  The extra pressure on the handle caused it to fall off.  Inspect your drawer handle to see if it’s showing extra wear.  It may need to replace the handle or install a new screw.  Take the old handle and screw to the store so that the replacement matches perfectly!


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fixing a leaky shower!

Update:  This past weekend I noticed that my kids shower was leaking.  This original post took me 2 hours over a couple of days to resolve.  Luckily I was able to refer back to my own blog and to fix the kids shower.

This time around I was able to fix the leak with only 1 trip to Lowes.  The entire repair took about 30 minutes (including shooing kids and dogs out of the bathroom so that I could work).

In honor of my latest triumph over another leaky faucet, here's a repost!
First it was the kitchen sink, then it was the shower!  That tap, tap, tap from the master bath just about drove me batty!  It was time, once again for a quicky DIY fix!

Fixing a leaky shower is simple in theory.  If you're working with newer parts the job is a breeze.  Unfortunately I had a bit of trouble, but everything worked out ok in the end.

I know from experience that a dripping shower head usually means that you need a new shower cartridge.  Calling a plumber to fix this problem costs about $250 in my area.  Buying a new cartridge from the hardware store costs about $40.  I enjoy saving money as much as I enjoy home repair so I chose to fix my own! 

We have a Delta Single Handle Shower (I don't know how old it is - it came with the house)

Here's what I did:

FIRST, TURN OFF THE WATER SUPPLY TO THE WHOLE HOUSE!  This step is an annoyance to people in the house, but it's necessary when fixing a shower leak.

Water Supply to House

Remove the decorative cover on the shower handle.

Remove decorative plate

Handle with plate removed

Now you'll need to find the screw that holds the shower handle in place.  This is the Delta 1300 series and the handle is held on by a tiny screw on the bottom of the handle.

Tiny screw hold on the back of shower handle

I need a hex key to remove this handle.  I happen to have a bunch.

Hex key (also called an Allen Key)

It took a few minutes to figure out which size I needed, but I finally found the right fit.

I needed this one

I should pause and say that this is where this project went off the rails for me.  Try as I might I COULD NOT get that tiny screw loose. 

I tried WD40, Liquid Wrench, vinegar, cussing and slamming things around and then I took a break from this project.

It was torture to feel like this tiny screw had gotten the best of me.  All the while tap, tap, tap the water was still leaking in the shower.

Cut to 1 week later, i'm back at it again.  I consulted the internet, Home Depot, Lowes and every Fix-It site I could find.  By now the screw was stripped.  The tool guy at Lowes sold me a screw extractor which seemed pretty promising!

Great tool for stripped screw heads

I'm sure i'll use this tool on another project, but sadly it was too big.

In the end I did was I was told not to do.  I broke the handle off!  Apparently breaking the handle off is a risky proposition.  You could just break off the handle or you could break something inside the wall.  I rolled the dice and got lucky.  The handle came off.

I finally just broke it off!

Now the job gets easy again.

Remove the ring that holds the shower cartridge in place.

Remove the metal ring that holds the cartridge in place

Pull out the old cartridge and insert the new one.  Make sure you follow the manufacturer directions on the cartridge.  Youll want to make sure that hot and cold are on the correct side.

New replacement cartridge

Slip in the new cartridge, reinstall the metal ring

Reinstall metal ring 

Reinstall the decorative wall plate and shower handle.

Reinstall decorative plate

I installed a new (easier to remove) handle but I forgot to take a picture.  This is what it looks like:

New shower handle

That's it's!  No more tap, tap, tap dripping shower faucet!  Hooray!!!!


This job turned out the be a matter of time vs. money.  Because the handle was stuck this job actually took a week to complete.  About 2 hours the first Ssaturday and about 50 minutes the second Saturday.  If everything had gone smoothly this job should have taken about 20 minutes. 

A good hardware store is worth it's weight in gold!  In my area Home Depot is close and convenient if you know what you're looking for.  Lowes is best if you have questions or need guidance.  KNOW YOUR HARDWARE STORES!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Super Moist Red Velvet Cake

As red velvet cake is so bright and festive, i'm posting is again for the holiday season! I frost it with a light airy, cream cheese frosting. DELISH!!!!

Whatever you're celebrating this time of year, May Your Days Be Merry And Bright!

Super Moist Red Velvet Cake

2 1/2 c. flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. buttermilk
1 teaspoon apple cidar vinegar
1 3/4 c. vegtable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (1oz) bottle of red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350. Mix everything thoroughly in a bowl. Pour into 2 or 3 round cake pans. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


Cream cheese frosting

1 8oz pkg cream cheese
1 Tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 c. powdered sugar

If you're celebrating a special occasion and want to make a different color cake it's easy!  Simply use an entire bottle of your favorite food coloring.  This could be a blue velvet or ANY color cake!   Or just leave it white!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Chore Charts Revisited!

We have 3 beautiful sons who are excellent at making messes!  My search for a chore chart began when I realized that they needed to do their chores DAILY without me having to remind them.  With this chart I can assign chores in the morning before they're up.  This way we never have to speak about it.  They already know the rule:  All chores must be complete before 5pm!

I made this simple chore chart (and blogged about it) about a year ago.  Recently I made a few for friends.  When the first chart was made I didn't think to take pictures.  This time I did.  Here we go: Chore Chart 101 - AGAIN!

Chore Chart
makes 1
Cost - about $10

For the project you will need:

1- non stick cookie sheet
tacky glue or mod podge
mini wood sticks
4 - large strong square magnets
12- small magnets
fabric scraps or scrap book paper  or construction paper
sponge paint brush
hot glue gun (optional)

Magnets, cookie sheet, glue, paper
Little Sticks for Chores
This project is so easy that I could probably just post the pictures and you'll figure it out.

Remove and label or stickers from the cookie sheet
Cut Fabric or paper to fit the cookie sheet
Trace around the pan
Cut the paper (or fabric) to size
Trim where necessary
If you're using 2 colors, use your first color as a guide
Dry fit the paper (or fabric)
Make sure everything fits well
Adjust as necessary
You can add names now or later when its dry
Generously glue the cookie sheet
Press the paper (or fabric) in place
Add a layer of glue on top of the paper
Glue the entire front - Dry overnight!
Assemble your chore sticks
Glue 1 small magnet to each stick
Attach large magnets to the back of the pan
Just like this!
Label chores, and you're all done!
I have made this project A LOT!  Which means I have messed up A LOT!  Here are a few of my favorite tips:

* Try decorative tape for a creative flair!

This tape is available in all colors and designs

* I prefer fabric to paper.  It lays flatter and puckers less.

* If you find that your paper has puckered or you've made other mistakes, don't panic!

Wrinkles/Puckers in the green paper
Wait for the project to dry completely.  Use a sharp knife and cut around the edges of the paper.  The entire sheet will lift out smoothly and cleanly.

Use a sharp knife to cut around the edge of the paper

Peels right off!

Old sheet comes off easily

Now you're ready to start over


Easier Chore Chart

If you love the idea of a chore chart, but you're just not great with the creative bit, don't panic.  Here's a quick and easy chore chart alternative.

Paint a magnetic surface with chalk board paint.  In my house the door that leads to the basement/garage is metal.  I painted the door with chalk board paint and made a quickie chore chart. 

Chalkboard paint is easy to find at any hardware or craft store.

Make the chore magnets as described above.

Kitchen Door Chore Chart