Monthly Archives: January 2012

Begin 2012 with Smoke Alarm Safety!

Recently several fires have destroyed the homes of residents in my community and in the past I’ve had friends affected by smoldering fires caused by faulty, defective appliances. It’s pretty scary to think of going to bed and waking up to your fire alarm going off or worse, not at all, as in the case of deadly house fire that killed 5 on Christmas Eve when the fire began outside from burning embers in the trash.

Growing up I learned: stop, drop, and roll, plan an escape, and making sure we had working smoke alarms. Technology has really changed so I researched on Consumer Reports, Consumer Search and other review sources online to find the best smoke alarm and explosive gas/CO monitor. After meeting with my local Fire Inspector Dave Harley at my work late last year I learned that I need one alarm in each sleeping area (even if it’s not a “bedroom”) and one near the sleeping area (e.g. the hallway) and the type of alarm I want may be different in each area. Online I found a talking alarm that alerted “fire” to young children or the blind, an alarm with flashing strobe lights for the deaf or hard sleeper, an alarm I could mute with the tv remote for high vaulted ceilings, even CO monitors for warnings about leaks from my natural gas appliances. Before buying any of these I highly recommend calling your fire inspector and asking for advice and maybe a meeting on where to place, what type is best for your home (and abilities to change the battery!), and many localities have free alarms for those who can’t afford one.

The last time I bought a smoke alarm I went to my closest hardware store Sutherland’s and bought a smoke alarm off the shelf based on comparing the others next to it. I was disappointed that Home Depot nor Menard’s had the model in stock or online. I know, not the smartest, but it turns out I have great taste – the First Alert SA302CNand I can honestly brag about it…dual sensors (photoelectric and ionization sensors) to quickly detect flaming and smoldering fires, a very loud 85-decibel alarm, and a 10-year warranty. The special feature is that you can use your remote control to mute false alarms (like frying bacon) & to conduct your weekly test. I have high vaulted ceilings and being able to shut it up by using the remote control “MUTE” button is a lifesaver in the middle of the night, during a blizzard, when the battery is dying. Hmmm…there are lots of applications you’re thinking this technology would come in handy for too? Me too. haha. I have this model installed at the entry of the hallway and one in each bedroom. Be mindful of where you locate this model – holding the volume or the channel buttons will set off the smoke alarm each time!

I considered several other types like wireless technology (hardwired is required for all homes built after 1993) for my living room and front entry area as it works off the medical radio frequency but finally settled on the Kidde Pi9000 and the Kidde HD135 Heat Alarm for the kitchen (installed farthest area from the stove) that you can interconnect with other alarms in the house.

None of the alarms were difficult to install, but to reach the ceiling generally you must have a ladder, drill (for convenience), and screwdriver. Even with my two small children trying to climb the ladder after me, I was able to install each in a few minutes.

My first "hop" over at The Prairie Homestead!


Turn the Mundane into Exotic: Foodie #1

I love food. I like to cook. I really love to eat. 🙂

Lately I’ve been making food history to me, at least, and have been documenting it in photos on my Facebook page. Don’t ask to be friends on it, I use it to keep in contact with family and childhood friends. I plan to have a professional Facebook page someday and then I’ll share.

Moving on..this is my take on the General Tso’s recipe made from Elk. I cook a hybrid of scratch & prepared, but excited to try everything from scratch in 2012! The seasoning packet from Sun-Bird also has a coupon you can download. I wait for a $0.99 sale and buy, buy, buy. My DH also loves egg drop soup, just add an egg to their soup packet and voila, soup ready to eat in 15 minutes.

General Tso’s (Inspired) Elk

Browning the Meat

1 lb. elk, cut into bit size chunks

1/4 cup flour

2 Tbsp oil (any kind will do, just remember Olive Oil will smoke at a faster than vegetable oil -like canola)


1 package of Sun-Bird Seasoning, General Tso’s Chicken flavor

1/4 cup sugar

3 Tbsp soy sauce

3/4 cup water

To prepare:

Put the oil in a skillet and turn the heat on medium. Get the pan good and hot because you’ll be browning the elk.

Begin by coating the chunks of meat into a baggie sealed with flour. Put the chunks side by side but not touching in the skillet. The flour will give the elk a good brown sear, only taking a few minutes each side. Remember, you aren’t cooking the elk because the simmering stage with the other ingredients will cook it to perfection!

While your elk is browning, follow directions on the back of the seasoning packet to make the simmering sauce by stirring together the seasoning packet, sugar, soy sauce, and water. Set aside.

When you’ve browned your elk, pour the simmering sauce in the skillet. The next step is easy, reduce heat, and simmer until it reaches the consistency. About 10 minutes in, add your vegetables. Fresh or frozen, I like red, yellow and green bell peppers, chopped onions, peas, carrots, and anything else you’d like: baby corn, broccoli, mushrooms, etc.!

The piece of elk I had was large so I cut off what I wanted for the recipe above and put the other cut into the oven with just salt and cracked black pepper. 40 minutes at 375 in my oven and it was ready for slicing for my DH’s lunch the next day. Take a look, doesn’t this look good?

This is how I do it, let me know how you take the mundane to the exotic with a comment!

I linked this at

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