Wednesday, February 03, 2016


With the security system installed at the house and we have iPhone apps that it's connected to so one day at work I get an alert on my phone saying that the smoke detector is going off and Lauren is cooking or something and grab some smoke in the alarm went off so I just was going north but shortly after that I get a phone call from the security company it was I did not see went to voicemail when I Saulet listen to the voicemail and they told me that the alarm is going off and that no one was responding to the alarm so I made really called Lauren she didn't answer texted her and told her that the alarm company was calling the fire department at this point I assumed that it was no big deal will I get a call back from Lauren that she tells me that the fire department is there and everything is fine that the laptop caught on fire.

she told me that there was no need for me to come home and everything was under control she was fine the fire was out no problem obviously went home immediately anyway when I got there the fire department was already gone and Lauren was outside covered and set and red-faced.

The story is that she was downstairs and she was actually cooking but when the fire alarm went off she thought it might've been from whatever she was cooking but it wouldn't go off so she went upstairs walked right past the bedroom back through the back of the house didn't see anything walked back and then she found all the smoke in the bedroom so the laptop had been sitting on the bed plugged in and the charger the powerpack actually is what caught on fire.

She went into the bathroom several times and filled up the big glass jar full of water and put the fire out herself for the fire department actually got here when they did get here all they had to do was ask her to come outside to get out of the smoke to which she argued for a second and then they hooked up a fan to the window to suck all the smoke at the house which did a great job when I got home I couldn't smell any smoke.  But there was lots of smoke residue still on the walls and ceiling we ended up wiping down the walls multiple times and wiping down the ceiling multiple times in multiple rooms especially the bedroom and the bathroom but also in a path from their downstairs and out the window where they have the exhaust fan hooked up bright side everything is fine the only real damage done was the mattress it's still sitting in the garage right now waiting on me to take it to the dump though we order new one just like it.

Outdoor Wood Boiler/Furnace

We moved into our house in February but by the the time winter was done, we had spent nearly $3000 on propane heat in the house. The house is old and not well insulated and drafty so we were literally just pumping hot air right out the window.

I did what I could to prevent drafts - caulking windows and doors, but one big source of heat loss (a warped front door) still remains.  Also the insulation remains the same.

Lauren's dad told us about outdoor wood burner's and using them to heat our house.  The concept is a wood furnace surrounded by a water jacket, the heated water is pumped from the furnace to the heat exchanger through your existing ductwork to heat the house.

Buy furnace, Dig trench, buy pipes, buy corrugated pipe, buy PVC, bye crimps and crimp tool, buy heat exchanger,

Monsoon after trench dug, filled back in partially.  Ray and jake helped fig it back out and bury the pex.

Ray came by while hvac guy installed water to air heat exchanger into the ductwork outside the gas pack and wired up a second thermostat for the wood furnace.  We were out of town.

When we got back, I built a fire inside the furnace, with the fan off and the furnace door open.  Soon the fire took hold.  I opened up the supply and return valves and turned on the fan and the pump, shut the furnace door, and the fire started raging.  I turned on the thermostat in the house, the gas pack fan started blowing (no gas burning, of course), and warm air started blowing in.  1.5 hours later the gas pack fan ran nonstop, the temp in the house had increased by 5 degrees, the temp in the 175 gallon water tank was up to 180, but the wood was almost burnt through.

I added more wood.  2 hours later the gas pack fan was still running, and the furnace fire was on and off raging and smoldering with its fan switching on and off, and the wood was holding relatively steady so I think it will be fine overnight.

7 hours later, at 3:15:  the boiler temp was down to 112 and the fire was down to mostly coals.

4 hours later, at 7, the boiler temp was 151, the house was being heated by gas, and the boiler fire was down to about 25%.  I added a lot of wood, it smoked a lot, blowing to the south

I checked once more before I left for work at 8:15.  The temp in the boiler was 164, fan off, no flames, looked like nothing had burnt.  Was concerned it wouldn't catch back but it obviously did because the house for up to 70 while I was at work.

Got home around 5, boiler temp was at 111, and 95% burnt up, but there were coals.  I added a few pieces of oak in a north/south direction with a fee twigs and they went up in a couple min.  Then I refilled it.  Heavy smoke blowing to the north. Inside the house the temp is 68.

Day 2:  house warm all night despite outside temps in 20s.  At 7:45 am, boiler temp 91, 95% burnt, raking revealed red coals.  Laid down 8 pieces of wood n/s, caught fire right away.  Low smoke blowing west.

I ordered a delivery of green logs from Chris L, and a dump truck load of dry split wood from Maythew Underwood, which lasted just over a month.  I ordered a load of cut but not split wood from MU on jam 2nd.  That wood burned very quickly and the fire went out a lot.

I think the best is a bottom layer of split wood with large log on top.

Playa del Carmen

Sat travel, check in at CondoHotel Fabiola, dinner at Los Aguas Chiles.  

Sunday mega mart, beach near playacar, lunch at horrible tourist trap but Lauren had some awesome molcajete thing with slow cooked pork, beans, cactus, and tortillas.  Found that Jacob had people over at our house when he wasn't supposed to.  He got busted by the heat exchanger installation guy.  Dinner at como como, dessert gelato at Aldo's.  

Monday huevos rancheros for bfast, collectivo to actamul(sp?) for beach lounging and average snorkeling.  Awesome lunch on the beach at La Buena Vida, with Tamarind Margaritas and awesome ribs.  More beach (half moon bay) then back to town, dinner at shark burger, gross.  

Tuesday beach and snorkeling at playacar, lunch at Los Aguas Chiles, nappy time. For dinner I ate Lauren's left over molcajete pork and they had quekas quesadillas.

Wednesday street empanadas on the way to tulum ruins, then playa paraiso and playa maya hammocks and drinks on the beach.

Thursday playa xcacel (sp?), nudists, but gorgeous mostly undeveloped beach and great snorkeling.  Xcacelito (cenote), dinner at Argentinian steakhouse.

Friday acumal bay tourist trap with tons of construction, moved to half moon bay, good snorkeling, dinner in the dark at la Buena Vida, I got the whole fried fish which was amazing.  Late night found that Jacob had a bunch of people at our house drinking and going all over our house.  Fun dealing with that, Lauren officially sick and couldn't go back to sleep after.

Saturday Lauren feeling sick, laying in bed all day.  Quekas quesadillas for lunch.

Birth Notes

We took a trip to the Grove Park Inn in Asheville the week before due date.  I was nervous that Lauren would go into labor while we were there, and spent time thinking about what we would do (drive back or go to the hospital in Asheville).  Lauren was adamant that we'd drive back and told me that if she were to go into labor it would be hours before anything really happened.  Not much comfort.). Things went smoothly though, and we enjoyed the warm pool, brunch, and Lauren had a spa treatment.

When we got back home, Lauren had an OB appointment and when they listened they heard something funny in the baby's heartbeat, so they wanted to do an ultrasound to take a closer look.  During the ultrasound it was discovered that the baby was breech!  They told us that we should go to the hospital pretty much right then and have a scheduled c-section.  We made an appointment for a couple days later, but first they tried a procedure called a version, in which they try to turn the baby by pushing it around in the womb.  This was so scary (to me) but Lauren handled it like it wasn't a problem.  They monitored the baby's heartrate and pushed Laurens stomach pretty much completely around, pushing on the baby's head and knees.  They tried three times but no luck.  They wheeled Lauren to the delivery room, and called me in about 10-15 minutes later.

I sat next to Lauren's head with a little divider between our heads and Lauren's belly.  They asked if I wanted to look over the divider, and when I did they were just pulling Corinne out!  The nurse said "did you see the size of those feet?"!  They took Corinne to a little side station and cleaned her up and checked her out.  She was on that little side station for about 5 minutes and Lauren couldn't see and was a little upset and clearly wanted to hold her baby!  I told Lauren she was beautiful and Lauren said that I'd say that no matter what!  They took the baby and set her on Lauren's chest.  Corinne raised her head up to look at Lauren immediately.  They wheeled Lauren to a side room and then eventually a normal room where we stayed two nights. Visitors were Grandma and Papa Briggs, Ida Montgomery and David, Jake, Gran Robinson, and Taylor.

We came home on Easter Sunday.  That first night none of us got any sleep, Corinne was constantly crying, finally we thought she must be gassy so at about 4:40 in the morning I went to Walmart to get some baby gas medicine and after that everything was fine!  Visitors at home were Haley, Devan (with Kendall and Abi), Gran Robinson, Grandma and Papa Briggs, Great Grandma Briggs, Aunt Caryn and Caleigh.  We visited Great Pa Briggs a little later.

A note from mom to be

Written Nov 2015:

To my sweet, sweet baby-
I have been thinking about all the things I want to say to you and it has taken me what seems like a really long time to get up the courage. You are a blessing from God. You are wanted and already so loved. We knew we would eventually get you, but we didn't know how easy or hard it might be. For a while, we were afraid that it was going to take a lot of money and work to get you. And then on July 30, 2014, I found out I was pregnant with you. I was really shocked! Your daddy was also really shocked! But since that day, we have both been so excited to meet you and have you in our lives.

We will find out on November 20whether you are a boy or girl. Since the day I found out I was pregnant, I have been calling you "he" whenever I talk about you.  So if you're girl, sorry about that! Either way we will be thrilled.

I have been thinking about all the things I want for you and your life. I hope you get your daddy's kindness and his pretty smile. I hope you get his thick hair. I hope you get my drive and determination, but I'm really feisty, so that kind of scares me. Your daddy and I both are tall, with blue/green eyes, and we're both pretty smart. So I think you will get those qualities from the both of us.
Most of all, I can't wait to see what kind of personality you will have and all the unique things that make you YOU!

I hope that we will be good parents. I know that we will make mistakes, but I hope you know that everything we ever do will be because we love you and want the best for you.

I am 18 weeks pregnant now, so I am halfway there to meeting you. Right now you are still tiny, but very active! I love to see you on the ultrasounds I do at work. I can see your little heart beating away and how you kick your arms and legs. You are always moving! You don't like it when I push on you with the ultrasound probe. You kick and flail and move to try to get away from it. See, you are already feisty! I can't feel you moving yet, but I know soon I will. Your daddy loves to see the recordings I do of you. I think he is a little jealous because he can't see it live when I actually do it ;)

Your grandparents are also very excited to meet you. We are all excited to find out if you are a boy or a girl. We have a boy name picked out, but we are clueless as to what we will name you if you are a girl.

I am always praying for you, praying that you're healthy and perfect. I'm not too worried though, because I know that God wants you here and that he will keep you safe.

There are a million things I want to say to you. There are so many thoughts but I have about you, but it would take all day to list them all and I would never be finished. Kind of like how I will never be finished loving you. I never knew I could love someone I had never met so much. You have already taught me something and you're only 5 1/2 inches long. ;) stay safe in my belly and I will see you in April.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Chicken Coop

Here are the basic design goals s that I had for the chicken coop:

- South facing window
- Whole side door for easy cleaning - actually I meant to do this but didn't!
- Venting at top
- Sloped roof for drainage
- Offset nest box for easy access
- Portable - no wheels.  Theoretically I could probably drag it with the tractor, but I didn't really meet this goal.
- Modular - remove north side siding and build on.  Maybe.
- Melamine floor for nonporousness.  I actually went with a rubberized wet patch instead.

The coop looks ok.  Not great, but ok.  The chickens seem to like it.  I need to
paint it.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Flourless Banana Nut Muffins

Lauren found a recipe on Pinterest for some healthy banana muffins.  We made a few changes to it and what resulted were spectacular, moist, low fat muffins that disappeared quickly!

In a food processor, process the oatmeal for 20 seconds and then add in the rest of the following ingredients:

  • 2.5 cups oatmeal (process this for 20s before adding the rest)
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 2 ripe peeled bananas, baked in peel until blackened at 350.
  • 1 dash kosher salt (use less if you're using table salt)
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup plain low fat greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
When that comes together, add:
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans (optional)
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped bittersweet chocolate (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dates (raisins, prunes, or other dried fruit is fine)
Pour this batter into a greased muffin tin and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Slutty Brownies

Slutty Brownie
Slutty Brownie...Oh so delicious!
What could be better than chocolate chip cookies, you ask?  What about chocolate chip cookies with double stuff oreo on top?

And what could be better than chocolate  chip cookie with double stuff oreo on top?  How about chocolate chip cookie with double stuff oreo on top, with gooey brownie on top?!

Ok it sounds like we've gone a little overboard - until you take a bite!

Thanks to The Londoner for this sweet recipe.

Prepare a batch of cookie dough - you can use any recipe for this, even the box kind - but to to help them keep their moisture with the extra baking time try adding an extra teaspoon of water and oil.  Coconut oil can add an extra unique flavor.  Line a brownie pan with parchment paper and smush the cookie down along the bottom of the pan as if you were making one big cookie.

Next, top the cookie dough with double stuff oreos (I hear that now they have some sort of "super stuff" oreos!), as many as you can fit in one layer.

Finally, prepare a batch of brownie dough and pour it over the top of the cookie and oreo greatness.  Bake for 30 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.

These are so great - enjoy!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pizza Pizza

Pizza pizza!
After the bake!
Pizza is my all time favorite food.  The crust and sauce recipes that follow are based on the "America's Test Kitchen" crust and sauce recipes.  I've tried a lot of crust recipes, and a lot of bought crusts, and this is the best one I've had.  Admittedly, this crust is a bit of a job.  The sauce is brain dead easy, but don't let that fool you - the sauce alone can make a wonderful pizza out of just about any crust!

Crust Dry Ingredients

  • 16.5 oz bread flour
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1/2 t yeast

Crust Wet Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups ice cold water
  • 1 1/2 t table salt
  • 1 T vegetable oil
Pulse the three dry ingredients together until mixed.  Add the 1 1/3 cups of ice cold water while processing until the dough comes together in the food processor.  Let that sit in the processor for 10 minutes.  Then add the 1 1/2 t salt and 1 T vegetable oil and proess again for 30-60 seconds.

Remove the dough only an oiled counter and knead for 60 seconds.  Let rest in the refrigerator in a greased bowl, covered tight for 1-3 days.  This "relaxes" the dough without allowing the yeast to work and produce CO2.

Pizza before baking
Before the bake!
When ready to use, remove the dough and divide into two shaped balls.  Rest covered on the counter for 1 hour.  On a well floured counter top, shape the dough.  Stretch it to about a 12 inch diameter.  Move the dough to a well floured (or corn mealed) pizza peel and stretch a little bit more to about 13 inches in diameter.  Sauce, top with a mixture of about 1/2 cup parmesan and 1 cup mozzarella, top with whatever toppings you'd like (pepperoni, jalapenos,  mushrooms, onions, sliced tomatoes, etc) and bake in a preheated oven at 500 degrees on a pizza stone on the top rack for 10-12 minutes.
Pizza slice
This slice will soon disappear.


  • 1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, drained
  • 1 T evoo
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 t table salt
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • 1 t red wine vinegar
Add all ingredients to a food processor, and refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cowboy Caviar

Cowboy Caviar is a super healthy, super nutritious, and surprisingly tasty dip for chips (I like it with tortilla chips).  There are a hundred recipes for this around the internet, but I like this one.

  • 1 can black eyed peas, mostly drained
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can black beans, mostly drained
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 1.5 t olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced jalepenos
  • 2 t lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t ground cumin
  • 1/8 t pepper (or to taste)
Combine all ingredients and serve.  You can play around with adding or removing any of the ingredients or the amount of juices that you drain from the cans - those juices are tasty.