Funny stories... tales from the road... life with us.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Cookie Time

So in between ODing on basketball last weekend I made a massive batch of cookies. Triple chocolate cookies to be exact - from a recipe in the America's Test Kitchen Cookbook. I'd made these cookies once before and they turned out fantastically, so this time I decided to go for a double batch. The triple chocolate is not a misnomer, they take a good bit of cocoa powder (Dutch processed a must according to the recipe), a pound of melted semi-sweet chocolate, and just under a pound of non-melted chips mixed in at the end (a la chocolate chip cookies.) So since I was doubling the recipe, that meant I needed nearly 4 pounds of chocolate! Good thing we had picked up a massive bag of chips at Costco a few weeks ago.

As expected the batch of dough was nearly too much for our mixer, but I did manage to make it barely fit. True, the bottom of the batch didn't have many chips when we were scooping out the cookies, but I think they'll still taste great.

One thing I love about the ATK book is that they include specific directions for freezing the dough to bake later. So K and I portioned about 5-6 dozen balls of the cookie dough, baked up a tray of 8 and froze off the rest.

I think they turned out really nicely once again. We've made a few other cookie recipes from the book including
Peanut butter - I loved them, K didn't like real chopped up peanuts in the cookies
Chocolate chip - Good, but we both prefer the classic tollhouse recipe. The ATK version's are larger and rise up a bit in the middle.

Ready to eat!

In fact, I think I'll bake up a small tray this evening to have while I watch some more basketball!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Lots of Home Improvements...

Wow.... the title of Rob's last post was a little graphic, so I thought I'd update with a more wholesome and comprehensive wrap-up of what's been happening around the Hamilton household lately.

To clarify, the toilet at no time exploded! What a crazy choice in word. It simply wouldn't flush right, so Rob took it apart, replaced the mechanism and now it works like a charm. Or, however it is a toilet is supposed to work. Now he's taken on the challenge of replacing the one in our master bath, too, so we should be all set.

On another note, we ordered our new living room furniture this weekend! I'm so excited... I've been lobbying for new couches for about a year. We ended up with a sofa with deep cushions, a chair and ottoman and a leather recliner for Rob. I can't wait to have it all in place.

We are pretty lucky to have a nice home and the means to keep it up. I love doing home improvements with Rob, and I am fortunate that he is so handy!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Toilet blew up on us

Well, I guess it didn't actually explode, but the toilet on our main level has been leaking more and more rapidly from the top tank into the basin. I tried adjusting the mechanism (it has some sort of fancy job that shuts off when the tank is full and doesn't turn the water back on until the handle is pressed again) and a few simple fixes I found on the internet, but nothing cleared it up. So we broke down and picked up a complete tank repair kit from Home Depot over the weekend. The guy at Home Depot said we probably wouldn't need the complete kit as he didn't think the problem would require actually taking the top tank off since the water wasn't leaking onto the floor. But I didn't want to make more than one trip and it was only $10 more for the full shebang.

Based on the stuff I had already tried and inspecting a few of the pieces I really didn't think it was a problem with the flapper or overflow tube. I thought it was possibly the rubber gasket that sits between the tank and the valve the flapper closes over. Turns out to look at that you do have to remove the top tank! Once the top tank came off the problem was pretty clear. The rubber gasket that sits between the top tank and basin was pretty well rotted (different from the one I initially suspected.) Even though the problem seemed clear, I still swapped out everything for the new parts. Based on about a dozen warnings throughout the instructions to not over tighten any bolts or the porcelain may crack, I tightened everything up sort of tight and gave it a go.

Of course, now the thing leaks all over the floor! So I disassembled the thing once again and took my chances with cracked porcelain by torquing everything down nice and tight. This time the toilet held it's water and it's been working fine since.

Decided to check the other toilets in the house, which all have normal guts so they would just constantly top themselves off if there were a leak. Turns out the toilet in the master bath has the same (although much slower leak) problem, but the other two are fine. Tried cleaning out any gunk between the flapper and the valve it covers (wasn't much) but that didn't fix it. My bet is the exact same gasket is rotted. Guess I'll be tearing it down this weekend!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

More Rubik's Cube

Solved my cube without referencing a sheet of algorithms for the first time today! I'm not all that fast just yet - takes me 4-5 minutes to solve - but it's fun to be able to just grab the cube and solve it without needing to also cart around a couple sheets of paper.

I didn't think I'd memorize all of the patterns needed to solve the full cube, but I mashed some of the algs from the booklet that came with my cube with the algs from this page and came up with a solution that works for me. My approach is to solve the cube layer by layer (or horizontal slice by horizontal slice if you rather.) The first layer (or FL) is fairly trivial after you solve a cube a couple times. The ML (middle layer) is a little trickier, but there is basically only one alg to learn and it's pretty repetitious. The LL (last layer) is the trickiest and requires quite a few patterns compared to the other two, but I guess I just felt so close to putting it all together that I had to get it done.

In other news, we Redboxed Superman Returns. Not terrible, but really not all that great IMO. Batman Begins was much better as far as a superhero reboot movie.