Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thank you, Haagen-Dazs!

I guess if you wish for something hard enough, it really does happen:

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Why is lemon ice cream not widely available? I love this! It is the perfect balance of sweet and sour and simple and refreshing. As for my daughter, she likes it, but I think she liked it more when it was an unreachable ideal. I know how she feels; that look on her face the first time she tasted it embodied my sentiments about most of the do-it-yourself projects I've ever done. The reality is never as glamorous as the preconceived idea. But, just like her, it's good enough to happily eat it every night for dessert!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Rosemary Garlic Bread

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On a recent walk, I discovered that there are rosemary bushes lining a nearby street.

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I think this other bush is sage, based on the color and scent. Can anyone tell me whether it is or not?

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I enlisted my daughter's help to pilfer prune one of the rosemary bushes. I decided that this find must be celebrated with some rosemary garlic bread.

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Our stash:

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My sister's visit this last weekend provided the perfect opportunity to pluck some more fresh rosemary and make the loaf. This is a variation of a James Beard recipe, Pizza Caccia Nanza. This recipe isn't quick, but it is very simple.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (between 110° and 115°)
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons rosemary
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Yield: approximately 6 servings

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Place the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, and warm water in a large bowl. Either knead manually or use the dough hook on a stand mixer for about 15 minutes.

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Remove the dough to a clean surface and lightly grease the mixing bowl. Form the dough into a ball and return it to the bowl. Flip it over once or twice to lightly coat the dough with the grease.

Cover the mixing bowl with a towel and let the dough rise for an hour or two in a warm, draft-free place, until about double in size.

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Once the dough has risen, knead it again for another 10 minutes or so.

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Form it into a ball again, and return it to the mixing bowl to double in size a second time.

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After the second rising, preheat the oven to 400°. Knead the dough for a minute or two and place it onto a lightly floured cookie sheet. Roll the dough out to about 3/4ths of an inch thickness.

Using a knife, poke indentations all over the surface of the dough and insert a couple of rosemary leaves and a sliver of garlic into each dimple.

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Drizzle the olive oil over the loaf and gently pat it to work the oil over the whole surface of the dough. Sprinkle with freshly ground salt and pepper to taste and bake for approximately 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove the slivers of garlic before serving.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Or, in my case, slightly less wordy Wednesday. :)

The tail end of the sunset last night; the days only get shorter from here on out.


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The kids had finally gone to bed and the house was still. Most of the binds and curtains were closed, but I happened to see a sliver of pink slipping past. I crept upstairs and opened a window in the unusually quiet toy room. Normally, I don't see the sunset because it happens right at the time I'm reading bedtime stories. This time, I pulled a chair up to the opening, sat in the thin purple evening light, and enjoyed the fact that the gentle ambient noise outside of my house was louder than the noise inside of it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summertime Truce

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She's been out of school for a month now. I'm not going to lie — that first week she was home, none of us handled the transition well. We all yelled. A lot. My two oldest had gotten used to spending a large part of the day apart so when I tried to recombine the elements, there was quite a bit of clashing. The school year was enough to make them forget how to be around each other, even though they spent the previous three years joined at the hip.

It didn't take long for my daughter to pick up the annoying habit of loud fake crying each time her little brother wouldn't play to her liking. She asked every day how many days until school started again, longing for her friends and space.

I let them work a lot of it out between themselves and over the past month they've hammered out a cease fire, for the most part.

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But sharing is still a problem.

How should I solve the sharing issue? Should I make them share, regardless of ownership or who had it first? Should I teach them that if a child is already playing with a toy, that child gets to play with it until he's done? What happens when my son starts playing with a toy that technically belongs to my daughter? What happens if it's a toy that she hasn't played with for months — who has the right to hold it?

Here's what I've been contemplating, sort of a sharing bill of rights:

1 - You have the right to keep special toys for yourself. If it's an object that you don't want your siblings to play with, keep it in your room because it will make them feel bad if you play with it in front of them. If something is outside of your room, it's fair game (unless it's an outside toy.)

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2 - You don't have to share something that you had first, but it's really nice to share and highly encouraged. Mom or Dad gets to decide who had it first, if there's a dispute about that. If you want something that your sibling has, you can play with it when he or she is finished.

3 - No yelling at each other. If there is a problem, talk nicely, or come tell mom or dad. I'm trying to not yell, too. My actions rub off on them.

4 - There is no ownership of certain chairs or spots on the couch. Whoever got there first gets to sit there. If you get up to go do something else, you lose your spot. (It's surprising how often this is an issue at our house!)

5 - (This last one is for mom and dad) - A hungry and/or overtired and/or overstimulated child WILL have sharing issues, which can be solved with food/calm/bedtime.

They're doing much better, a month into summer. So am I. Now they are back to being partners in crime instead of mortal enemies.

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(My favorite part about this photo is that they both have that ubiquitous childhood tattoo — the smudge of frosting on the forearm. I think that "childhood" ends when that mark no longer appears.)

There's still a lot to be desired as far as sharing goes, but don't worry; we'll have it all figured out, just in time for my daughter to go back to school in August.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bugs — it's that time of year.

Here are some of my favorite insect pictures that my husband and I have taken over the years. I'd tell you who of the two of us took which picture, but I honestly have no clue, except for this first shot — it was taken by my firefighter in his parents' back yard (if I remember correctly. And we all know how small the odds are that I've remembered correctly.) I've been having fun manipulating the pictures with our soon to expire Lightroom beta. If you want to see some really cool bug photographs, go check The Pioneer Woman's site.


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My homage to bugs, before I obliterate the ones lurking in my garage this weekend. :)

Giveaway winner!

I love it when an unlikely number wins! Well, at least, mentally it seems like the first and the last are the least likely to be chosen. Apparently, not so much!

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Last, but not least. :)

Congratulations, Laura! I'll be contacting you. Happy shopping!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"And the award goes to..."

"...the most scatterbrained mom on the web! Congratulations, Katie!"

I want to thank Debbi at This Lovely Life, Jessica Anne at Adventures with Three Girls, M at Betty Crapper, and Cheri at CheGo2 the Kitchen for thinking of me this month!

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There's rules attached to accepting these awards, usually involving a post of random tidbits about me. For the seven things that you may not know, I'll list the top indicators that I have, indeed, lost my ability to string two coherent thoughts together over the past 5 years.

1. I recently gave someone my home phone number. I gave her the wrong number. I've had this number for over a year, people. A year!

2. I beg my firefighter to call my cell phone for me so that I can locate it. Probably five times a week. I'd call on the land line, but we decided to just have the long distance on our cell phones. Thank goodness I can send him a text through the computer on the days he's gone!

3. I drew a blank on a friend's name, one whom I have been seeing for the past SIX MONTHS. Someone asked who I was talking about, and I had nothin'. "Ummm... you know, my friend!"

4. I have been carrying around a ten dollar bill in my wallet to give to another friend that I need to repay for lunch, for over a month. I see her at least two times a week.

(My poor friends! They seem to get the brunt of my absentmindedness.)

5. Don't even get me started on calling my children by the wrong names!

6. Unfortunately, the plants on my back patio that need regular watering are a sad personification (plantification?) of my inability to remember things. The ones that are on my sink, right in front of me, get watered more often. By my daughter. (Remind me to put them on plates; the dirt river that flows down to the sink after she waters them is making my counter really dingy.)

7. During my morning afternoon routine, I often forget if I've already used the shampoo, the conditioner, put my lotion on, or applied deodorant. I'm always sniffing, to see if the appropriate areas smell like they're supposta.

Here's hoping that the recent sleeping through the night will help me find where I put my brain. I miss it.

Okay, the next rule involves passing the award on to seven other bloggers.

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Here's a list of some of the most beautiful, versatile, and trendy blogs I follow:







A Volunteer Firefighter's Wife 

Really, though, you can click on any of the blogs on my left sidebar there and find something lovely. Thanks for all the good reads!

On another note, you may have noticed that I changed the name of my blog. I decided it would make more sense if the title matched my URL, so "Fire Wife Katie" it is. I'm hoping that this change doesn't trip up anyone's reader!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A matter of life and death, in the eyes of a child.

Yesterday was pretty much a failure as far as being a mom is concerned. I just wasn't on the ball enough to prevent the little tragedies that occurred. The itinerary looked good on paper — run errands, go to the park to teach my 5 year old to ride her bike and get some pictures, then introduce the children to Slurpees.

Sometimes it just doesn't turn out as idyllic and happy as imagined.

The bike riding went well.

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My daughter was so excited when Dad said he would take off her training wheels. It was the topic of discussion for days as she chatted with the older neighbor girl across the joint backyard fence. We prepared her for the disappointment of not getting it right on the first day she tried. She knew it was going to be difficult and was up for the challenge.

While she and her dad pulled the bike out of the back of the car, I unbuckled the youngest. There was no one at the park — it was perfect. Well, aside from being a pretty hot day. I put the toddler down so that he could explore and I walked up to the play structure. The metal bars were warm to the touch, but tolerable. I touched the swings, the brown steps, the panels along the deck — all were acceptable.

My three year old declared it to be too sunny to play and clung to my leg as I pulled the camera out of my bag. The baby walked up and down the small grass embankment.

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My daughter zoomed back and forth and I followed along through the lens, while trying to convince my blond-haired boy that the sand wasn't hot. I stepped into the middle of the sand pit, hoping he would follow me. He took a tentative step off of the cement sidewalk. My daughter made some good progress on her bike, but she still has a long way to go. She doesn't have the whole steering thing down. Not to mention, the issue of stopping gracefully.

That's when I heard my youngest, who I had just taken a picture of moments earlier, scream.

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I couldn't figure out what was wrong; he was in the same spot he was just at a second ago, happily playing. My firefighter was close to him and ran over and picked him up to see what was wrong.

Apparently, I missed the one piece of playground equipment that had become fiercely hot in the afternoon sun — the blue slide. After a minute or two of tears, he was fine. He had been playing near it for less than ten seconds and had no lasting red marks, but I hate hearing that heart-breaking cry for help when something is seriously wrong. Especially when it's because of me that he's hurting.

We packed up and went home; the Slurpee education deferred till another day.

Once in the house, my daughter did what she always does — she asked if she could go outside and play. I told her she could, but she would have to be careful about leaving the door mostly closed so that the baby wouldn't go out. She happily ran outside, hoping that one of her neighbor friends would be available to discuss the events at the park. If not, she had a mud hole to tend to.

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Half an hour later, I heard a faint cry. My sensors all went on high alert as I darted around to locate the source. The boys were still playing in the next room. It was my daughter. Usually, she's very vocal when something goes wrong outside.

"MOOOOOOM! There's a SNAIL on the ROCKS!!" She's also notorious for making sure that I (and all of the neighbors within a mile radius) know when my 3 year old makes it outside without his pants on.

But this time, she was quietly sobbing. There was no drama — just earnest tears. I opened the sliding glass door the rest of the way and walked around to the side of the house. There she was, her face red from crying while standing in the hot sun, frantically trying to tell me something about a mosquito.

"Honey! What's wrong? Are you hurt?" I got down on her level and reached out to give her a big hug.

"No."

"Then what's wrong? What happened?"

She brushed aside the lock of hair that was plastered to her cheek by sweat and tears. She had clearly been crying for a while. "I was playing, and I wanted to come back inside, but there was a mosquito! It was right on the door!"

"The mosquito was scary?"

"Yeah. It was going to suck my blood and KILL me!"

Just talking about it made her start crying again. "Honey, mosquitoes won't kill you. They just make you itch."

"...But Kylie (the neighbor girl) told me that if I get bit by a mosquito it will drink all my blood, and I'll DIE!" I could tell that she honestly felt like her life was in jeopardy. And we would need to have a discussion about the definition of exaggeration, and believing everything her friends say.

"So you saw the mosquito and you were scared, but why didn't you call for me?"

"Kylie told me that if I scream for mom or dad, mosquitoes will find me and get me!" Her eyes were big. She was skeptical of the conflicting information she was getting from me and her good friend.

"They won't get you. You can always, always scream for mom and dad, no matter what ANYONE else ever tells you. Okay?"

"Okay."

"Mom?" she asked as we turned to walk back inside. "What, honey?"

"I had a thought that I should pray for the mosquito to go away, but it didn't work." She looked disappointed.

I smiled back at her. "I think it did work. I heard you crying when I was inside, even though you were outside and really quiet. And when I opened the door, the mosquito went away, didn't it?"

"Oh yeah!" She was feeling better about things. That was, until we got to the door and she saw her foe had returned to his spot at the base of the glass. It apparently was a favorite spot, because he returned later that day and I was able to get a picture. "The mosquito!"

I calmly shooed the beast away, opened the door to let her in, and then launched into a discussion about the difference between a mosquito and a mosquito hawk.

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Later that day, after she and I had our discussion about friends and hyperbole and trusting mom and dad more than friends, she showed me this.

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"You can make a wish on this, and then it blows on the wind. But the wish doesn't REALLY come true." She was showing me that she does know some of the boundaries between real and pretend.

She opened the door and let the wind take the weed fragment out of her hands.

She made a grand sweeping gesture with her hands and said "be FREE, my fuzz! Be free!"

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Monday Giveaway!

Just because it's Monday, and in celebration of my 1 year old finally sleeping through the night, I'm happy to be able to offer one reader a $40 gift card courtesy of CSN Stores. It can be used on any one of their many sites. I did some window shopping for you, in case you're drawing a blank about what you might like to get with the card. First up, I found some cool lights from their lighting store, for children and adults.

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Some more ideas, from some of their other sites:

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By the way, that measuring cup is also a scale. How cool is that? Okay, maybe not all that necessary, but still cool!

To enter this contest, all you have to do is leave a comment here on this post, before 12:00 a.m. on Friday morning. The winner will be chosen and announced on Friday. It helps if there's a website or an email address associated with your name; it makes tracking you down if you win a lot easier. ;) Good luck!!
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