Monday, November 29, 2010

Mini Chocolate Cheesecake Appetizers

Why? Because cheesecake deserves to be enjoyed at the beginning of the meal. Because they're bite-sized, which means they are diet-friendly (at least, that's what I tell myself — portion control!) Because they are pretty. Because who doesn't love chocolate cheesecake!? (My husband, to answer that question. Weirdo.)

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This is an ever-so-slight variation of the recipe my mom makes for Thanksgiving each year. With eight people in our household, there was a strict two-slice rule enforced regarding this pie. I still remember the pain of heading to the fridge the day after one particular Thanksgiving, searching for my carefully preserved slice of cheesecake nirvana, and finding an empty pie tin instead. I don't know who took it, but I haven't forgotten. You know who you are, stealer of my chocolate cheesecake, and one day, I will know who you are, too. And then — then I will exact my sweet day after Thanksgiving revenge! Just lettin' it be know.

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Yield - approximately 20 mini cheesecakes, or one pie.

Ingredients:

Cheesecake filling:
11 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup chilled heavy cream
1/4 cup lemon yogurt (optional; can be replaced with an additional 1/4 cup heavy cream)

Crumb crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (approximately 1 standard package)
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Cream cheese frosting:
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), softened
1/4 cup cream cheese (2 ounces), softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fresh raspberries, washed and drained as a garnish.

Heat oven to 325°. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and sugar for the cheesecake filling; beat well.

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Blend in the cocoa, scraping the bowl and beaters frequently. Add eggs and vanilla; blend well. (My mom wasn't kidding when she told me to scrape frequently. These ingredients do not play well with others.)

Blend in yogurt and heavy cream (unwhipped). Set aside while preparing the graham cracker crust.

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Pulse graham crackers in a food processor until all large pieces have been broken up. Pour in 6 tablespoons of melted butter and 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Pulse again until well blended.

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I used a mini cheesecake pan to make this recipe.

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You could also use a mini muffin pan, lined with foil liners, or just bake it in regular pie form.

Scoop a tablespoon of crumbs into each cup and press flat. This lid from a 2-liter of soda worked great to press the crumbs down along the edges.

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After pressing the crumb crust into place, if not using foil liners, spray the sides of the cheesecake pan liberally with a cooking oil spray. Place a heaping tablespoon of batter into each cup, filling the cup approximately 2/3rds full. The cheesecakes will rise quite a bit in the cooking process, and then fall back down when taken out.

Bake at 325° for 25 - 27 minutes. The center will be soft but will set upon cooling. Cool to room temperature, then cover and chill several hours or overnight. (For a pie, cook at 350° for 35 - 40 minutes.)

Prepare the cream cheese frosting by creaming together the butter and cream cheese. Add the vanilla and beat in the powdered sugar a little at a time to avoid the white dust cloud.

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Garnish each cheesecake with cream cheese frosting and raspberries. Keep refrigerated.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Today was Thanksgiving for us.

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Snitch.

Toward the end of the preparations, I sent my daughter and older son upstairs to put some clean clothes on. They didn't need clean clothes so much as I needed a few moments without them running circles around my knees. That hot oven door is right at their level and it makes it too easy for a little person to accidentally bonk it and get burned when it's open.

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My daughter decided her brother needed a little something special; something to honor the formality of a dinner with all 5 pieces of silverware at each place setting. Hence, the tie:

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Funny how much time is spent shopping and cooking for this meal, compared to how much time it takes to actually eat it. Especially for a four year old. He was done in five minutes.

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Oh, but it was good! And now I, like the rest of you, finally have leftovers in the fridge. Don't think I haven't noticed all of the turkey sandwiches you all have been enjoying!

After dinner, I put the kids in bed and my husband ran out to buy a cord of wood for our first fire of the season.

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Let the holidays begin!

(You know what the strangest thing is about celebrating a holiday on a different day? Realizing that I forgot to check the mail.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Los Angeles has it's moments.

Every once in a while, the golden L.A. sunlight will strike me and the leaves with so much force, it knocks me back. I quickly pull out my cell phone to document the battery, cursing my technology for being sub-standard and doing the amazing sunset an amazing disservice. My little cell phone can't capture the details of that orange light slicing in from under heavy gray clouds, illuminating the hills and the eucalyptus trees.

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The moment draws my eyes up as I try to drive without crashing. I know there's a rainbow somewhere.

And then, after turning a few quick corners, the moment is over. It's back down to earth, down to the real Los Angeles that swallows up the other 99 moments. Back down to those crowded, narrow, broken streets that I have had no regrets leaving behind.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

No shirt, no shoes, no service.

I've been away this past week. What was I doing? Why, playing restaurant while visiting family and friends in Pasadena, of course. I was the short order cook.

"What would you wike?"

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"No, you're doing it wrong. You have to say 'welcome' first."

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"Wewcome. What would you wike? I got wots of stuff."

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"Ummm... I want pink milk, fifty pieces of toast, and... a bowl of ice cream."

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"Here you go! Fwee hands full of chocowate cookies, an engwish muffin, and owange juice."

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"Hey! That's not what I ordered!" (Sorry kiddo, I know a replacement chef if you're unhappy with this one. He's just in the other room...)

And how does one pay for such a lovely breakfast?

"Dat will be fwee dowars."

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With cars, of course!

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Happy Thanksgiving, all! I hope you have a wonderful time with your friends and family. We will be celebrating our Thanksgiving in a day or two. :) Save some turkey for me! You can have all of the green bean casserole, though. Not a fan. But there better be some squash left over!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

There are some things I never want to do again.

After much introspection, I have come to the conclusion that I'm not a crafty person. I told my husband the grave news and he folded his arms, leaned against the wall, and gave me that "B.S., you are so a crafty person!" look. But the inner me knows better. Even though I've been known to produce craftish items in the past, it's not in my blood.

My husband and I debated the point for a good twenty minutes. After a heated discussion of what defines "crafty" and a few tense moments, we came up with a graph using the banister to represent the progression from completely inept to craft obsessed.

What? You don't spend the afternoon delineating craftiness with your spouse? (We need help, people.)

Anyway, here's what we came up with:

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This chart applies to any sort of creative assemblage, from the making of birthday cards, to the making of couches. We'll go with couches for discussion purposes.

Level 1 - design oblivious. Completely unaware of the way things look, this guy just wants to sit down on the couch. Any couch. He doesn't care about how it works in the space, as long as it's not pink and is comfortable.

Level 2 - design appreciative. Knows when she walks into a living room that she likes it, but wouldn't be able to define what, specifically, about the room she likes. She would be somewhat discouraged and confused if placed on the showroom floor at the furniture store and asked to pick the best couch for her living room, lamenting that she just wants something that will look nice.

Level 3 - design connoisseur. This girl knows what couch she likes, and which ones would work in her space. She would be able to find a sofa she wants within 10 minutes at the furniture store. She would prefer to just buy something that fits perfectly. But if no such couch were available, for financial or other reasons, out of desperation she might try to do it herself for the sake of the end result.

Level 4 - design crafty. This guy not only knows what he likes, but he also has the expertise to make it. He enjoys the process of building. He creates couches because he likes to make furniture; he needs no further reason to immerse himself in the creative process. His wife wishes he had a different hobby so that he will stop making so much stuff that has nowhere to go.

I don't think someone is truly crafty until they enjoy the art of crafting; the process of assembling.

I'm a level 3 on the crafty scale. Almost there, but not quite. I know what I like, but if it were available and I had the money, I'd prefer to just buy the thing I want. Truly crafty people seem to enjoy the process of creating the object as much as they like the finished product. I just want to skip to the end result and be done with it.

Usually, with the few exceptions I've documented here on my blog, I don't get the same sense of fulfillment and enjoyment during the process of creating that the true brilliantly crafty people get. I make things out of a strong desire to have the end product. I'm compelled to make it because either I can't afford the real deal, or I can't find it. I persevere through the constructive process until I achieve something similar to what I am visualizing. Then I say close enough, flomp on the couch, eat a bowl of ice cream, and never do such a project again.

This couch is a perfect example.

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We received this couch, as is the norm for us, as a hand-me-down from a grandma. I sort of liked the clean lines, but the color wasn't what I wanted. I had re-covered a small couch before — a skill I learned from my very talented fairy mother — and felt up to the task.

First, I drew out the dimensions of each surface, to calculate how much material I would need. Then I went down to the fabric district and haggled for 40 yards of microfiber cloth. The 40 yards should have been a big neon sign shouting at me that this might be one of those projects that I look back on with a healthy dose of horror for a decade.

Then, I laid out the material in 3 yard sections across my living room floor, and meticulously crawled all over it as I measured and drew the lines from my schematic. That's a lot of crawling and hunching, drawing out perfectly square shapes on 40 yards of fabric. It took a few days to recover.

My strong desire to have a gray couch pushed me on, and I then hunched and crawled over those 40 yards again, to cut the fabric. After that tremendous undertaking was over, I never wanted to see that fabric again; let alone sit on it, on a daily basis. But I was in too deep. It would have been a painful misuse of time to stop at that point.

So, I meticulously pinned the edges of each piece and sewed them together. I sighed in relief. The monstrous project was over.

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It was in that moment of glee, as I sat on the first cushion to be covered, that I realized the fabric was too silky and prone to separating at the seams. I closed my eyes, frowned, and shook my head as I accepted that I would need to sew down both sides of each and every seam to secure the loose edges and prevent it from separating. Off the cover came, and out came the sewing machine. Again.

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The project took me weeks to complete. Finally, one day, I declared it to be done. I put the cover on, stapled it to the bottom of the couch, and rejoiced that the project was over for real this time. Until I realized that I wanted the couch to be raised a little taller. And came up with a way to make wood legs for the couch. And stained the wood legs.

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THEN I declared the couch done, laid down, and cried.

That was over 7 years ago, the making of that couch cover. I still haven't healed from the wounds. Yes, my back and knees forgave me (until I had children — sorry back and knees, I hope you'll forgive me again someday), but the emotional scars are still there.

It is with great sadness that I look at that old gray couch, used and abused by the little ones in the family,

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and realize that it needs to go. Either I have to re-do the cover, or I have to buy a new one.

Thankfully, I think I have reached the point in my life where I can stand on a showroom floor and pick a shiny new model to bring home to my family room. My first brand new couch. I made a vow after that project, to never re-cover another couch. And I take my vows seriously.

See, there you go — proof that I am not a truly, enjoy the journey, craft for the sake of crafting, person.

At least, not when it comes to couch covers!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Down Time

Just some pictures I like, of a girl

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and a boy

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that I like.

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Wishing you all some down time on this crazy pre-holiday Monday! May your head meet your couch at least once today. That's why you bought that stylish comfy couch, right? :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Winner!

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And the lucky number is...

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#4!

Congratulations, Rach! Please contact me at firewifekatie@gmail.com and I'll get your necklace/key chain to you.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Has it really come to this?

Some people in our house have been abusing their chair privileges. And I'm not talking about the cat.

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I'm not talking about my husband, either. Although he has been known to lean back on this Ikea Poang chair to the point of no return. Sometimes the coffee table is close enough for him to make a last-second spastic movement and hook his toe under the edge; sometimes not. Poor chair. It's been through a lot.

No, I'm talking about the abusers of these chairs.

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This is our used and abused kitchen table. It used to be that these bulky former office side chairs were big enough to deter the children from moving them.

Last year my older two discovered that the chairs could become mobile in our new place; gliding, with a little effort, across the vinyl kitchen floor. Within a few weeks, my daughter was mysteriously getting cups of milk (and filling/spilling them) on her own. Soon, the misuses escalated and the counter became a stepping stool to reach for Dad's chips that were "out of reach" on top of the fridge.

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The older two can be told "no" fairly effectively. The baby, however, still has that short-term memory loss that compels him to commit the same offense that he was just reprimanded for, not five minutes prior. When he learned to throw his body at the chairs to get them to slide inch by inch all the way over to the counters, drastic measures had to be taken.

My firefighter came up with a plan...

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Sigh.

Pretty? No. But at least it works!!


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For those of you following along, chapter four has been posted. :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Want one?

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Thank you, for all of you who have shown support and interest in my various endeavors, including my little Etsy shop!

I am excited to be able to share with you a pink version of my maltese cross necklaces, sold exclusively through Firefighters' Wives. (See the link on my sidebar with all the cute pink fire wife stuff??)

I would like to thank FireWives.com, the forum where loved ones of firefighters turn for support, for linking me up as well. And I'd really like to thank you, my readers and fellow bloggers, including Val at Fire Fighter Wife, and Jenn at a prairie girl's thoughts and so many others for the mentions! You guys are awesome! I truly appreciate it.

To celebrate, I'm giving away your choice of one of the necklaces in my shop, past, present or future designs.

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New styles are on their way this week, including different cord styles and symbols for other agencies, so check back! Here's a sneak peek of some of what's going up this week, in various stages of done-ness:

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To enter to win one of the necklaces, simply let me know which one you want, and what you want it to say.

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I can fit up to 14 characters (including spaces). The available characters are the uppercase alphabet, numbers, the star symbol, heart symbol, asterisk, and "&" sign.

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Enter to win one for yourself, or to give away as a gift this holiday season. I will include the gift box.

Or, in lieu of a necklace, I would be happy to send you the smaller white wreath for all seasons!

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Then you, too, can stalk the ribbon aisle at the craft store. What can I say? Stalking is fun!

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Just leave a comment here telling me whether you would like a necklace or the wreath, and I'll draw a winner on Saturday and track you down. :)

Thanks again, I truly appreciate all of you!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

In the interest of space,

I've moved my fiction fun off of the main page here and have given it it's own blog space. You can find the latest chapter by clicking on the link on my sidebar over there on the left.

Chapter three...

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

A good bad day.

Do you ever have those days where you forget to send the monthly lunch money check with your daughter and she ends up eating a pity apple and cheese since she has a zero balance, then you go to use your bank card, only to realize that what you have in your hand is NOT your bank card, but your similar colored credit card, that doesn't have enough on it to cover the charges you just put on it, but you realize it about 10 seconds too late, after which you go to pick up your daughter from school, only to remember AFTER you fought the mega line to find a parking space that she's got her after school program that day and doesn't need to be picked up for an hour?

You know, one of those days where nothing goes terribly wrong, but your beloved keyboard dies, you get a new one that doesn't feel right, and it just happens to coincide with the first day of a diet? (Starting the annual post-Halloween pre-Thanksgiving slim down.)

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I was worried that my daughter would be embarrassed and sad about the lunch money snafu. However, when I picked her up (the second time — at the correct time), my fears were put to rest. She was hungry, but happy. I was worried that the inadequate lunch compounded by a longer than usual day would create results similar to what happens at home in those circumstances — meltdown. Instead, she told me over the fast food we got to make up for lunch that not only was she student of the day, but she made it to the coveted "outstanding" level on the good kid chart in class.

Apparently, the hungry + over-tired combination has the reverse effect outside of the home. Kind of like how the baby will be perfect for Grandma while I run errands, but the second I show up, he bursts into tears. That way, no one will believe Mom when she says that her children are putting stickers and yanking them off of her last nerve.

I am grateful for my children and their happy outlook on life, even when forced to eat a sub-standard lunch because of Mom's forgetfulness. I don't mind that they save their bad day meltdowns for me. I like to be there for them. And really, when all is said and done, they are good kids. Odd at times, yes, but good. :)

I found another song that my odd, loveable daughter wrote. It's a gem:

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Now, I have to be brave and take a look at that credit card account that I accidentally charged too much to. Darn you, Bank, for changing the color of my new bank card!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Story Time - Chapter 2

Okay, here's the next chapter. For those of you just joining me on my little fiction venture in celebration of national novel writing month, you can find chapter 1 here. Please read and re-read the disclaimers; it will help me sleep better at night!!

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Chapter 2

Overhauling the building was a chore. A lot of surfaces had to be torn out to make sure the fire had not burned along the insides of the walls. The charred nondescript chunks of house, occasionally intermixed with an identifiable object like a trash can that had melted half way into a now rigid puddle, flowed out of the structure and piled up on the small lawn outside. The house and its contents had the singular, complex smell of a structure fire. This was no campfire. The scent was a reminder of just how many things in the house were varnished, synthetic, painted, or processed.

A group of onlookers stood on the sidewalk across the small street, carefully staying outside the perimeter of activity and strobe lights. A girl with a slight figure and tan hair pulled into a sleek pony tail watched the younger firefighter. She saw him smile widely, shifting his weight from one foot to the other and occasionally nodding as he talked to his heavily-dressed cohorts on the deep porch. Her gaze seemed to draw his attention. He hadn't noticed the group up to this point, his tunnel vision focused solely on the task at hand, even though they had been there from the beginning. Several of them wore sweaters with a bear paw print silkscreened in green on the back; students at the college just down the street. The group was strangely giddy, considering what had just happened. They were talking as if they were out to dinner. The lone anxious face was that of the slender girl. She looked down and hyper-extending her fingers as she explained that it was the first time she had ever called 911. Her ponytail was just long enough to graze her shoulders as she turned her head to talk.

The girl wondered if the firefighter knew that she was the cause of this mess and instinctively shrunk back into the crowd. She envied him for his role in this disaster. She longed to be on the end of the firefighters, solving the problem rather than creating it. She hated that she had caused a crisis that was beyond her power to fix. She felt her dignity and authority funneling away from her, toward him. A strange resentment welled.

The probationary firefighter stood by the heavy open door, punctuated by intricately etched panes of glass at eye level, ready to receive the next object to be tossed into the rubbish pile. A large piece of ceiling landed with a thud at his feet. He picked it up, placed in the apocalyptic heap, and returned to his post. The stream of debris temporarily stopped, giving him a moment to sit on the porch railing and breathe. His back and arms were beginning to feel spent. He knew they would be sore the next day, but for the moment, he didn't care. He took his gloves off and noticed that the heat of the fire had forced a burnt plastic smell, mixed with other indescribable toxic fumes, deep into the pores of his skin. He would notice the smell for days. He grinned to himself — here he was, mopping up after his first ever structure fire, one in which he got to be first-in, and best of all — he was getting paid to do this. Life was good.

Scott knew that the bystanders couldn't help but be drawn in by the spectacle of a responding fire department, complete with three engines, a ladder truck, and the Battalion Chief's SUV. Eventually, two of the engines rolled away. Unfortunately, the show would be costly; their belongings, even the ones that didn't get burnt in the fire, didn't stand much of a chance against the smoke. A dark cloak of soot coated every item the airborne particles touched, but even more permeating was that acrid scent, the same smell he had in his skin. It would weave it's way into everything — soaking into their couches and into the clothes hanging in their closets.

Scott was exhausted and satisfied. He felt strangely invincible; energized by the force of nature he had just faced. It was the culmination of a lot of time and effort to be the one standing in that turnout gear, throwing a burnt mixer and coffee maker onto the lawn. He liked that the group standing on the sidewalk was staring at him in awe. It was empowering. He noticed two attractive girls in the middle of the group right away. He thought they must be sisters. One was shorter and had her hair pulled back. Next to her stood her sibling — stately, thin, brunette. She carried her figure well, standing with confidence and holding her shoulders back. Scott watched her as she gestured wildly while trying to decipher what each item used to be as it was carried out of the house. The tan skin of her long neck and equally long fingers looked beautiful against the backdrop of her dark glossy hair. The lighter-skinned sister was only slightly less attractive. Her straighter, nearly blond hair was similar in color to his own. She was shorter, but no less graceful. Her manners showed her to be the more reserved of the two. She was following the conversation more than leading it, but when she did say something, everyone listened. He thought that she must be the older sibling. She sent him a sharp, penetrating glare and disappeared into the crowd.

He was about to analyze the two sisters further, but unfortunately, one of the guys from his dual station noticed the probie daydreaming on the porch.

"Hey Liam! Check it out — Scott's got a crush!"

Liam, a tall firefighter who had been on the department for several years, dropped the small blackened table he was carrying into the rubbish pile. Brian, the heavy-set engineer, was his partner in crime. They had worked together since Liam was himself a probie and they were a force to be reckoned with when together. Liam jumped at a chance to rib the new guy.

"Well why don't you go introduce yourself, Morton? It's rude to stare, you know."

He spoke it loudly; the entire group of college students shifted their stance to see what the probie would do. Scott closed his eyes, sighed deeply, and cursed under his breath. Liam and Brian were not going to let this go. He had broken a cardinal rule — a probationary firefighter should always, always look busy, even when he's not. Especially when he's in public. And, there were girls involved.

This was going to end badly.

Scott stood up, grabbed his tan gloves, and walked toward the two steps leading off of the front porch. His figure had been whipped into shape, thanks to the recent fire academy. He was grateful for the rigorous tune-up since everyone's eyes were on him. However, as soon as he cleared the stairs, it dawned on him that he was being more self-conscious than he needed to be; his bulky black turnouts obscured any features, good or bad. He took slow, measured strides in an attempt to give himself time to think of something to say. The lights glinted off of the white and yellow reflective strips circling his torso, wrists, and ankles. His mind was blank, save for the thought that he must look like a massive, glorified bumble bee. The narrow street of separation did not give him enough time.

"Hello."

"Well hi." replied the brunette. He was transfixed by her smile and open countenance. His brain scrambled. "Words. Must say words." he thought. "Don't look stupid."

"My name is Scott, and I'm here to answer any questions you might have." He looked down, smiled awkwardly, and fumbled with his gloves in an attempt to avoid eye contact. He could hear Brian and Liam snickering behind him.

"Actually, I do have a question." This time, it was the shorter sister who spoke. She stepped out from among the crowd. "My name is Sydney, by the way."

"Hi, Sydney."

"Hi," she replied. "Anyway. I'm curious — I used a fire extinguisher, but it just made the fire worse. A lot worse. Why was that?"

"Uhhh..."

Scott's overexerted mind had been rendered incapable of forming coherent sentences. All he could think about were the attractive girls looking at him, and the tag on his tan gloves. Captain Enright, who had approached to witness the fun, stepped in for him.

"It depends on what sort of fire you had, and what kind of fire extinguisher you used. Was it a grease fire?"

"Yeah — we were browning some beef, but got too distracted, obviously." Sydney replied.

"Well, if I had to guess, I'd say that your extinguisher wasn't meant to be used on a grease fire. It could have been a water extinguisher, in which case it would cause a grease fire to explode."

Sydney nodded. "That sounds about right." She lowered her eyes and nodded in guilty acknowledgment.

"What you need is an extinguisher that's rated for use in the kitchen."

"What do you mean by rated?" asked Sydney's sister. "I always thought that an extinguisher was an extinguisher."

Captain Enright paused for a moment.

"Tell you what. How about you and your friends stop by the station tomorrow and we'll go over the different kinds of extinguishers and what you should do the next time you have a kitchen fire."

"Wow, thanks, that would be really helpful!" exclaimed the dark-haired girl.

"No problem. I don't want to have to come to the college for another fire if at all possible, so spread the word to all of your friends." After giving the girls directions, Captain Enright tapped Scott on the shoulder and led him back toward the engine. Scott could feel the eyes on his back, especially those of the two sisters — the statuesque model, and her slightly hostile sister.

"If you're so bored with this job that you sit around daydreaming, maybe you're in the wrong career. I hear the police department is hiring."

"Sorry, Sir. I love this job."

"I know you do. Now go do it. Back to work."

Scott quickly slipped his gloves back on and trotted toward the building to finish mopping up. He tried to change gears and get back into work mode. In his peripheral vision he saw the room-mates huddle together for a picture. They all said "cheese" in unison and a flash cut through the darkness. He thought about how much less thrilled they were bound to be when the initial excitement of the night dissipated. Eventually, they would have to go back to reality, he thought, and that picture of them grinning in front of the pile of rubble that was once their belongings would seem sad and awkward. He felt another flash and knew that the next picture was of him.

"Hey Morton! What's your girlfriend's name?" called Brian.

Scott stood still for a moment. Only then did he realized that the brunette had never mentioned her name. "...I have no idea!"

Monday, November 1, 2010

The candy is gone. Already.

This year, we did Halloween a little differently.

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We did our candy run on Saturday, at the trunk or treat put on by the church. I like the condensed format. It was nice to walk from car to car, instead of trekking from house to house. And at their young ages, the kids allowed this to be a suitable substitute to real trick-or-treating. They thought it was great to walk around with all of their friends.

That night, the kids came home and attacked their stash.

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I let them have at it. They got creative, using the Laffy Taffy's as glue to stick together candy creations. I believe the one pictured there in the upper right corner of the collage is supposed to be a car. A really gross, sticky car.

Then, on Halloween night, we had our own little party.

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We used these little decorated brooms from the dollar store (of course) as place markers around the dinner table.

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We carved pumpkins, ate the best pork roast and glazed carrots, the kids dressed up again (dad too, who was home because of a dry cleaning snafu — yay for dry cleaning snafu's!), and we let them do the door answering.

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"Hey... you're in my CLASS! Now you know where I live!" (Insert giggling here.) "Mom! Sydney knows where I live now!"

It was cute, relaxing, and perfect.

Well, almost perfect.

About half an hour before the trick-or-treaters stopped showing up at our door, we ran out of candy. Came to find out that our 4 year old was being very giving.

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"You wike dose? I wike dose ones, too. Here you go!"

Meanwhile, my daughter was announcing to the children that they could take whatever they wanted. And they did.

Since the candy was running out but the kids were having so much fun answering the door, they decided to raid their personal stash from the night before. By the time we turned out the lights, it was gone.

All of it.

(Except the unwrapped, half-eaten lollipops stuck to my kitchen table. Oh, and the "car.")

The kids — they don't seem to mind that there's no sugar in the house. As for me, I am having severe withdrawals. I have to constantly remind myself that it's for the better, and I can do without. I can do this. I can handle the lack of sugar. I can master my cravings.

I can also stop by the store and pick up some clearance bags of candy. It would be wrong to pass up such great deals, don't you think?

Just trying to be money conscious here.
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