Category Archives: Cooking

Smokey the Bear Would Be Disappointed In Me

I remember Smokey the Bear from grade school. “Only YOU can prevent forest fires!” I have never played with matches, I am cautious with campfires, I make sure that the BBQ is turned off and the fire is extinguished. I’m a pretty fire safe lady. But as I write this my house reeks of smoke, to the point I’m afraid that it is going to set of the smoke alarms, again. So apparently Smokey the Bear was limited in his scope. Yes, I can prevent forest fires, but house fires are clearly a whole other story. I suppose that Smokey only cares if a fire takes out his home, not mine. Selfish bear.


Let’s rewind back to the Christmas Eve service at our church this year. We were having a small family style service in our church’s living room, cozy and complete with cookies, cocoa, and pretty little tea-lite candles on the table. All was well until the middle of the service when Liam had crawled over and was attempting to eat my husband’s sheet music. He was defenseless against the attack, as he was using both of his hands to play the guitar. I moved the stack of sheet music further toward the center of the table. Problem solved. Until about 30 seconds later when the song took an interesting turn. “O come, o come Emman-Uh! Nicole, FIRE!” Yep I had set the stack of music directly on top of the candle which shockingly resulted in a fire. I grabbed the stack of paper and blew on it. When that didn’t prove effective, I ran the papers to the bathroom and extinguished them in the sink. Christmas service continued with a sense of excitement in the air. The only drawback was my husband trying to play the songs with a large chunk burned away. Everyone was quite understanding. I chalked it up to a fluke. It had been a long day, and I was exhausted. Tired people set the occasional accidental fire. Whatever.

Moving forward, we had friends over for dinner this weekend. I made mini pizzas and some of them had olive oil for a sauce. I opened the oven to check on the pizzas, and moments later the smoke detectors were going off. Some of the olive oil had gotten on the burner of the stove and created a nice smoke cloud. The smoke detectors in our house are really quite awesome. 1st of all, our 750 square foot house that would be totally covered with one smoke detector, has 3. They followed code, and placed one in each bedroom and in the living room. The bedrooms are right off of the living room, meaning that we have 3 smoke detectors all within about 6 square feet. When one goes off, they all go off. On top of that, the smoke detectors are hardwired, and I don’t really know what that entails except for the fact that they don’t need batteries, and you can’t turn them off in the case of a false alarm. You just have to stand there and fan them repeatedly until they decide that the threat has passed and calm down. So we fanned them, they calmed down, and we all had some laughs about my cooking.

Fast forward to this afternoon. I was on the couch dinking around on Facebookdoing homework, and suddenly with no warning, the smoke detectors were at it again. I glanced into the kitchen to make sure that I had indeed turned the oven off after lunch. I had, so I assumed that perhaps it was the cool mist humidifier that I was running for the baby in the playroom while he napped. I went into the playroom, and other than the smoke detector making the baby scream, all was well. Just as I was silently cursing the stupid crazy smoke detectors, I walked into the boys’ room. It was pungent with smoke. I went straight to the electric baseboard heater to examine it while Logan pointed at the smoke detector and informed me, “Mama, I think it be makin noises.” Really buddy, ya think? The curtains were still hanging clear of it, so I crouched down to see if anything had fallen behind the dresser. I found three sippy cups of water neatly lined up against the heater, but they were barely even warm, so I peeked inside the actual vent part and saw an obstruction. I fished around in the vent and found this:

Mmmm... warm and toasty

Yep, that is a singed sock and a very burned part of what used to be a Target receipt. Being the genius that I am, I pulled these out of the very hot heater with my bare hands. Please note, that my finger is now blistered. I then aired out the room the best I could opening all of the doors and windows, even though it was freezing out. Once the room was sufficiently aired out, I put the kiddos back down to nap, but not before I had a little talk with the three year-old about not putting stuff in the heater. He listened very carefully and nodded yes, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he is not the actual culprit. I happen to know someone who has just learned the skill of putting things into other thing (like blocks into a cup, or perhaps socks into a heater vent), and has a particular disdain for socks. I cannot actually prove my theory, but I’m pretty certain that the perp is 2 foot 7, blue eyes, blond hair (but mostly bald), and looks a little something like this:

I thought his crimes would stop at texting and driving; who knew arson would be next

I am actually so grateful for my annoying smoke detectors because I was seriously sitting 5 feet away from his room and I didn’t smell anything until I opened the door. Yikes! Just to be on the safe side, I piled blankets on him and turned the heater off for the rest of his nap (either that or I turned it all the way up- half of our heater knobs are installed upside down, so it’s hard to remember in which room to do what).

So Smokey the Bear was right. I can prevent forest fires. However, my fire prevention skills apparently stop there, as I clearly cannot prevent indoor fires. I’m not sure what his advice to me would be, but I feel like even though a have yet to set a forest fire, he’d probably be disappointed in me.

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Posted by on January 20, 2012 in Cooking, kids, Parenting


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Yummy Christmas Treats in 15 (mostly) Easy (almost) Stress-Free Steps

So Logan and I had our very 1st mama-son baking extravaganza this weekend. I was a little stressed out to start because I like structure, and order, and to not have to screech “Logan, NO!” every 30 seconds or so. However, I braved the store to buy supplies, and last night we settled in to baking our treats. Logan actually loved it. He was very well-behaved, and made a point to remind me every few minutes that he was my “big-boy helper.” So without further ado, a picture tutorial on how to make some yummy Christmas treats (the 3 year-old edition):

Step 1: Realize that you plan on taking pictures for your blog, and take Captain Underpants into his room to put on some clothes. When he protests, remind him that we get to eat cookies when we are done. Emerge with pants on to commence baking.

Step 2: Lock the baby behind the baby gate so that you only have one kid underfoot in the kitchen at a time. Listen to him shriek about the indignity of it all.

Let me in! I want cookies too!

Step 3: Get ingredients out while 3 year-old salivates over his favorite treat in the world, “nener-nems.” Explain that the “nener-nems” are for later when we make the cookies so we can’ open them yet.

Forget the baking, Mama. Let's just eat these!

Step 4: Pre-measure ingredients, and allow 3 year-old to empty the measuring cups in the bowl. Try not to have a nervous breakdown that your toddler is the only thing standing between 2/3 of a cup of vegetable oil and your floor.


Step 5: Allow child to help you stir, and wonder why you’re surprised when he takes the spoon away from you and doesn’t allow you to help at all. What’s that about children being like their parents?

I dooo it!

Step 6: Unwrap the candies to place inside the brownies. Explain repeatedly that the candies are to go into the bowl, not into mouths.


 Step 7: Show 3 year-old how to line the mini-muffin tin with mini-muffin cups. When you notice what a good job he does, allow your mind to wander, while you try to think of all the other menial chores that you can now convince him are fun.

Look at my cute face instead of mom's messy counter!

 Step 8: Pour brownie mix into muffin cups, and have 3 year-old push a peanut-butter cup into the center of each one. Admire his skillful work.


 Step 9: Put brownie bites in the oven. While they are cooking, get all of the ingredients ready for the cookies. Watch as toddler becomes even more of a dictator, and demands to do ALL cookie batter assembly (of course with a big smile, saying, “I a GOOOOD helper, right Mama?”).


 Step 10 (OPTIONAL): Put the butter in the microwave for 10 seconds to soften (unwrapped of course- that’s not moronic), and accidentally cook it for an entire 30 seconds because the kitchen chaos is stressing you out. Scrape as much butter out of the microwave as you can, while hissing under your breath at your husband (who is acting as your kitchen photographer) when he asks if you’d like him to take pictures of this particular mishap.What? No accompanying photo? Are you shocked!?

Step 11: Compliment your husband’s creative kitchen photography skills when he takes this beauty. Forget that the butter ugliness ever happened.

This is what Logan baking looks like to a bird flying through our kitchen.


 Step 12: Mix it. Mix it good.

Please note the chunks of sad, lumpy microwaved butter

Step 12: Take the brownie bites out of the oven while screeching “HOT! HOT! NO TOUCH!” and realize that you have nowhere to cool them. Then improvise.

Yep, those cooling racks are on top of my beautiful LG front-loader. I love it even more now that I've found out it can multi-task.

Step 13: Realize that making these treats takes more steps than overcoming alcohol addiction. After all this they’d better be good. Finally, let 3 year-old add his beloved nener-nems to the cookie mix. As you drop cookies on to the sheet, encourage his to add extra nener-nems to the top of each cookie.

One for the for my for the cookie...

Step 14: Bake cookies, and a short while later, enjoy!
Step 15: The most important step. Wait until your kids are in bed and frost the brownie bites with peanut butter frosting. Eat a couple, and relax. You deserve it.


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Posted by on December 6, 2011 in Cooking, Holidays, kids, Parenting


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