Category: home ownership

A Carbon Monoxide Detector Saved Our Lives

We never gave carbon monoxide detectors much thought until this week.

Last Saturday morning began with a minor scare.

Our carbon monoxide detector started beeping. I panicked and took the dog outside while my husband checked the device. Fortunately, it wanted to tell us it needed a new battery, so we changed it immediately. When it read 0, we relaxed.

I’m not even sure we had carbon monoxide detector in our previous homes. I think we probably left one at our old condo in Minnesota and I don’t even remember seeing one in our last apartment. In fact, I don’t remember ever owning one in any of my apartments.

I read a newspaper article this week about a couple who died from carbon monoxide poisoning in Mason City and ever since, the news media has been offering lots of advice about furnace safety.

Early this morning, I woke up and smelled gas. I second guessed myself and wondered if I was actually smelling remnants of dinner from the previous evening or if it was my husband’s new shampoo. My sense of smell is extra sensitive.

Our air filter’s light turns red and runs on high which is very unusual, thus prompting us to glance at the carbon monoxide detector in the hallway. It’s reading numbers that are climbing quickly with each second.

We scramble to open up the door and windows and with shaky hands, I try to find the energy company’s emergency phone number.

Someone quickly answers and tell me someone will be here shortly. The man advises us to get out of the house immediately and stay with a neighbor or in our car.

Like chickens with our heads cut off, we race around the house and open more windows. We try to collect our phones and the dog, throw on at least some amount of clothing, and I pop in my contacts. Then, we jump into my car and wait.

It turns out there is a gas leak. A significant one. The energy company representative arrives in ten minutes and turns everything off. He encourages us to stay out of the house for a while so I wait in the car with the dog until the furnace company arrives. We feel unsettled to learn the highest concentration of carbon monoxide was in our bedroom where we were just sleeping.

Goodbye Savings $

The bad news is that we had to break into our savings account to purchase a new furnace. The spectacular news is that we are safe.

We’re thanking God our detector reminded us to change our batteries and that we took it seriously enough to change them promptly.

Please check your detector. Make sure it is fully operational and that its batteries are charged. I’m a little scared by the fact that we just kept the detector we inherited when we bought our house and horrified that I’ve lived in places without one.

After this close call, I plan to buy a new detector this afternoon. Hell, I’ll probably even buy two.

You never expect to need one until you actually do! Take carbon monoxide detectors seriously. Ours saved our lives.

Update: I will be looking for a product that sends alerts to our phones if it ever detects smoke or carbon monoxide. We’re so glad this did not happen while we were at work with the dog stuck at home. 

A Return To Home Cooking: Our First Meals In The New House

Despite my lack of home cooking posts, we have been using our new kitchen, though not for anything fancy. Two months of hotel life means I will never take my kitchen for granted again. Losing my kitchen was the best cure for feeling burnt out with meal preparation.

Even though we were able to move into the house last month, we couldn’t utilize the kitchen. The owners left us with a stinky fridge. And, to make hte matters worse, contractors plugged and unplugged the fridge without leaving the doors open. After four rounds of washing the fridge with soap and water, vinegar wash, and bleach, it stopped stinking and so I could cook.

Comfort foods are what we crave. I’ll experiment with more exotic recipes later, but for now we want the foods that our moms used to make.

Our First Meal In Our New House
The first meal I prepared in our new house was spaghetti with meat sauce. Nothing gourmet, just a doctored up jar of marinara with ground beef served with fancy pasta our friends gave us during my last weekend in North Dakota. I typically pour the jarred sauce over slightly browned onions and some minced garlic. Then, I add a splash of red wine and let it simmer for a while. Nothing ever tasted better.

Then, I made our favorite roasted eggplant pizza with caramelized onions, red bell pepper, and goat cheese. Of course it wasn’t as good as Broders’ but it was best knockoff south of the Iowa border. I prefer this thin crust pizza dough.

I make all kinds of pizzas with whatever vegetables are in my fridge. Two of our other favorite combinations include roasted beets, beet greens, caramelized onions and bacon, and shaved radishes.

Plus, the recipe for lahmacun is fantastic. It’s like a spicy, thin crust meat pizza. I use ground beef instead of lamb.

Roasted Vegetable Pasta
Jake’s most requested meal of all time is roasted vegetable pasta. Fortunately, it’s also one of the easiest recipes. I dice whatever vegetables I have on hand and toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then, I roast them at 400 degrees F. until they are caramelized. Finally, I add them to spaghetti and season with Parmesan cheese, a sprinkle of whatever vinegar I have on hand, salt, black pepper, and hot red pepper.  If the pasta is too dry, I add more olive oil or pasta water. I’ve roasted every vegetable from green beans to kohlrabi. 

Spicy Chili Over Baked Potatoes
Last week I returned home for a birthday celebration with three bags of potatoes grown by a relative who is a potato farmer. Hopefully a batch of lefse will take care of the russets, but that still leaves the waxy Yukon gold and red potatoes.  I made my favorite spicy chili and served it over
baked potatoes (usually I serve chili over rice).

Growing up, my folks always microwaved potatoes. This method is much faster than baking, but you lose the fluffy texture and crisped skin. Baking potatoes is simple. Simply preheat your oven to 350-375 degrees F. Scrub and dry the potatoes. Rub them with olive oil, sprinkle them with course sea salt, and prick with a fork. Place them directly on the oven shelves and bake until fork tender. This will take about an hour.

Whatever you do, don’t wrap them in foil. This will steam the potato and you will not have that crispy, crinkled skin.

I used the leftover baked potatoes by chopping them into bite-sized pieces, crisping them in a pan along with diced onion, and adding them to scrambled eggs.

What are your favorite comfort foods? 

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