Champagne Wishes and Starting a Blog

If I’ve thought it once I’ve thought it a hundred times, and been told to do it on many occasions.  Start. A. Blog. I am finally doing it for myself, for my family and for my friends.  Y’all know I can cook and y’all know I can drank so you can expect a lot of this blog being dedicated to that.  You also know I’m a happily married goddess with four children, and you may or may not know that I recently became a REALTOR®, so you can expect to see some content on those things as well. Who am I kidding?!  You can expect to see a whole lot about those things!!!  I’m not sure how this is all going to lay out, but what I envision in my head is  a lot of laughs, some good eats and a few tears along the way.  As my mind was wandering last night I jotted down some future posts ideas.  Here were a few:

Champagne Wishes and Enchiladas

Champagne Wishes and Dirty Houses

Champagne Wishes and Firefighter Wives

Champagne Wishes and Gin Fizzes

Champagne Wishes and Red Shirting

Well, you get the gist of it.  If there is ever anything you would like for me to write about, please feel free to contact me and make a request!!  It could be a recipe you’ve seen me post in the past, a question about parenting (not that I’m an expert, but 4 kids has certainly provided me with a wealth of knowledge) or whatever else you can think of!  I appreciate y’all SO much and I am looking so forward to where this new journey in my life takes US!!

Champagne Wishes and Grilled Chicken and Steak Pitas

Grilled Chicken and Steak Pitas 

The first time I made this recipe was back in 2007 after watching a Paula Deen episode, and I’ve continued to make it every year since.  Paula is definitely the inspiration behind this recipe, but I’ve made quite a few modifications to it to make it my own.  If you have it in you to whip up some fresh cut french fries to go along side this meal do it!  The Feta/Tomato mixture and Tzatziki sauce go great with them as well.  The family really looks forward to this recipe and it is one of those great meals to prepare for company to really wow them!  Try to shop for your ingredients a day or two in advance as well as prep as much as possible the morning of.  I’ve found that big meals can be a lot more pleasant to make if you can split up the time in the kitchen, not to mention, the meat tastes so much better! The longer the chicken and steak have to swim in that marinade the better (but don’t go over 24hrs.)
One of my biggest pet peeves about food blog posts is how long it can take the author to get to the darn recipe.  The three pages of backstory, the million scrolls through pictures, it is exhausting and annoying in my book!   So I’m gonna try to get you in and out of here as quickly as possible.  My hope is that my food posts will accommodate all levels of chefs out there.  As always if you have any questions or comments please feel free to reach out to me in the comments section. 
Marinade (whisk all ingredients, pour into large zip lock bag with chicken or steak, do not marinate the 2 diff meats together! Place in the refrigerator for 4-24hrs)
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I swear by Smart Chicken, but beware, once you go there it is hard to go back!) or 2 KC Strip Steaks, or you can do a combo like I did over the weekend
  • 1 large Lemon squeezed (sub lime if you don’t have lemons)
  • ⅓ cp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ¼ cp Soy Sauce
  • 1t Nature’s Seasoning (I use this stuff in EVERYTHING)
  • 1t freshly ground Pepper
  • 1t Crushed Red Pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1T fresh parsley chopped (sub 1t dried)
  • 1T fresh Thyme/Oregano (sub 1t dried or you could use both!)
  • 1t Kosher Salt
  • 1T Spicy Mustard

Feta/Tomato Mixture (Make ahead of time.  Allow to sit out for 15-30 mins before serving)

  • Roma (4-6) or Cherry tomatoes (1 package)
  • 1cp Feta Cheese crumbled
  • ¼ cp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1-2t Oregano (dried)
  • ½ lemon squeezed
  • Salt and Pepper

Abby’s Tzatziki Sauce (Make ahead of time.  Whisk together all of the ingredients and refrigerate.)

  • 8oz plain yogurt
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic minced
  • ¼ cp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ large Cucumber finely grated (squeeze out most of the juice)
  • ½ Lemon squeezed
  • ½ T fresh Oregano or 1t dried
  • 1T fresh Dill or 1t dried
  • 1T fresh Parsley or 1t dried
  • 1t Nature’s Seasoning
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Other Ingredients

  • 1-2 large Red Onions sliced
  • 6-8 pitas
  • ½ Green Leaf Lettuce finely chopped
  • Black or Kalmata Olive sliced

Final Instructions

Preheat grill to medium heat.  Add chicken to a grill basket and grill for 8-10 minutes per side.  Using the grill basket really makes the chicken turn out moist and tender!  I do not use the basket on the steak.  Grill steak to desired temperature.  I go for medium so 6-8 minutes per side.  Pull the chicken, and allow to rest.  In the meantime, add the sliced onions to the grill basket and grill for a few minutes per side.  During this time you can also warm up your pitas on the grill.  I brush both sides with Olive Oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt and grill for 1-3 minutes per side. Lastly, finely slice your meats and arrange all of the ingredients in the this order:   Pitas, Tzatziki Sauce, Meat, Tomato Mixture, Onions, Olives and Lettuce.

  

 

 

Champagne Wishes and Firefighter Wives (part I)

I am sure you all have seen footage and followed the story of the tragic Grenfell Tower fire in West London over the past week.   That story, along with others, have a way of breaking down the walls we as wives and husbands of firefighters develop over time.   Those walls really protect us from thinking about what our loved ones are doing while they are at “work.”  For me I can physically feel the moment they come crashing down.  It is like a hard hiccup.  One that shoots a sharp pain through the deepest part of your chest, takes your breath away and makes you stop in your tracks. It is incredibly important for the families of first responders to have a place to go in those moments of doubt and fear for reassurance that others are going through the same things they are.  The nights of no sleep, like the one I had the other night, where my mind after 15 years of training said “Oh no girl, we are goin to think on this TONIGHT!”  

I can remember reading an article my husband shared with me over 8 years ago.  The first sentence went like this…”The divorce rate for firefighters is three times that of the general population, which is the highest rate in the nation, second only to that of the military. A functioning, long-term marriage in this profession is uncommon; a happy, thriving, intimate one is rare.”¹  Joe and I are blessed to have all of the above, but that is not to say it has been easy. I am so thankful that whatever it was we were going through at that time, we were able to read something that we could relate to.    

One thing I have learned with lots of time and practice is that there’s a way to triage my man when he walks in the door after a 24 hour shift. Like asking, “How was your night, babe?” it’s always a good place to start.  Knowing when to push for details is a big one.  My spouse, like many others I’m sure, can be fiercely private and quiet.  As a wife it can be hard to discern when to push for information.  In the beginning of our relationship I had a hard time knowing when to push and when not to.  At that time I was only trying to understand what his shift had been like and so I felt that I needed to dig deep to get it out of him.  Not the most sensitive way to go about things.  Unfortunately that worked against me as it reminded him of randos that liked to ask him for the dirty details of his job.  For example, when my husband gave a presentation to our daughter’s fourth grade class on seat belt safety, as soon as the discussion was opened up for questions a young boy with eyes that were huge with fascination asked bluntly “Have you ever seen a dead person before?” That is an understandable question from a 10 year old’s perspective, but when adults ask questions similar to that it feels as though they are trying to satisfy some weird fascination they have with gory details.  Listen, sometimes it is crucial to know what your spouse experienced on their shift.  You need to know what they just saw with their eyes that you pray you’ll  never ever see with yours.  Not only to be able to be there for them in whatever way they need, but to prepare yourself and everyone else in the house for the possible mood swings, the short temper or the long ass nap they might require.  You learn to not nag about the trash on some days.  And you learn the language of the eyes.  

I can tell you that there can be hard years (yes I said years) that are a result of the job.  Perhaps you’ve heard the “It comes in three’s” wive’s tail, or that there are cycles and waves in life and (my favorite)  “hospital beds will be full from the full moon tonight” theory.  Y’all may not believe in any of that, but here’s the thing-it’s true.  I’ve seen it with my own eyes.  There can be relative peace for a few months, even years, then BAM!   Back to back  shifts of war like trauma calls.  Those are the times when you need to (first and foremost) have a system in place.  You see,  the truth of the matter is, we are the emotional nurses of the house. First part of my system is to know to be patient, to give some space and to simply be present.  Second is to let the kids know to be a little more quiet, and be a bit more respectful.  This is in the hopes of preventing normal day to day arguments siblings have that can make a household loud and aggressive be more quiet and serene.  We have to try to anticipate the triggers and remove them.  I hate to say that, but it is the reality.  How can one go through what they’ve gone through at work and not bring it home in some negative way?  I don’t think they can.  And I don’t blame them.  This isn’t a free pass to be a jerk, but it is an awareness of the tidal wave of emotions that they could be experiencing.  Sometimes there’s nothing you can do but wrap a good meal with a cold beer band-aide on that thing for the next few days, but that’s just what you do.   

For us, we can usually work through these times together as a team.  However, during those extended periods of (insert your label or term here) it might be necessary to seek outside help such as, friends, family, a Minister, Priest or a Therapist.  Do it.  Don’t let shame or embarrassment prevent you from asking for the help you, your spouse or your relationship may need.  Don’t be afraid to demand it as well.  I know that the word “demand” is strong, but you are dealing with the strongest of the strong when it comes to personalities in having a firefighter for a spouse.  Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. 

 

PS~ Please bare with me as I get in to the groove of writing again.  For the time being, my 5th grader is really a great little Editor.  The freshman daughter tried, but truth is, she’s kinda mean about it.

¹“What Every Firefighter’s Spouse Should Know – Fire Engineering.” 1 Dec. 2009, http://www.fireengineering.com/articles/print/volume-162/issue-12/departments/fire-commentary/what-every-firefighter.html. Accessed 22 Jun. 2017.

 

Champagne Wishes and Redshirting

The sound of a stop watch, what does that do for you? I can tell you what it does for me. It teleports me back through time to various points in my life watching 60 Minutes. My first memory of the program is of me laying on the carpet in my parents family room on my stomach, head resting in my hands kicking my feet back and forth from the floor, looking up at the television and just soaking it in.  I’d say I was 4 or so. We watched it every Sunday. I didn’t complain.
The first time I heard the term redshirting was from a segment that aired by Morley Safer back in 2012. RIP, Morley.  I was pregnant with my son, George Boone, at the time and have a vague memory of sort of looking down on the whole thing. We would never in a million years have thought of holding our daughters back a year. In fact Lilly,  our first born, is one of the youngest kids in her class with a birthday in July. I should probably write a post about parent regrets with that being one of them. I digress.
Redshirting has taken over the term that was used when I was a kid and when my parents were kids for simply holding a child back a year.
Now there were some references to this being a way for children (especially boys) to gain some social and academic strides due to Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers. I guess you could say that was a Tipping Point….see what I did there?   Malcolm argues that a hockey team in Canada consisting of 11yr old boys is predominantly made up by the boys having birthdays in the first four months of the year.  He uses his findings and tracks those with early birthdays throughout life and finds that a large number of successful people in fact, share early birthdays.  To achieve this leg up in the world, parents started holding their children back a year with the hopes they’d benefit.  Anyway, I sort of feel that that term gets in the way when discussing this. I prefer the more honest and simple way of looking at it. They just aren’t ready. Plain and simple.
Fast forward to early early 2017 and you’d find my husband and I talking about it. A lot. I was beating myself up, feeling guilty that maybe I hadn’t done enough for George.  Mother’s guilt can be a killer.  So I started talking with other parents, teachers, neighbors and my family all looking for validation, I’d say, in our decision to keep George back a year. The more I spoke with folks, the more I heard of parents doing the same thing.  Not one person identified with the “We want him to be the older, bigger boy on the football team” or “We want him to be the first of his friends to drive a car.”  Instead what I heard was exactly what we were considering in our decision.  He would probably get clobbered in his first year of school with trying to keep up.  Why do that to him when we don’t have to?  He does have a later birthday and at his age a child born at the beginning of the year versus one born later on show some pretty big differences in maturity, attention span and ability to reason.  At the end of the day, I needed to not look any further then our oldest, Lilly.  She struggled so much for the first few years of school.  Not academically as much, but certainly socially.  She will be 17 when she graduates from high school.  Some of her classmates will be 19 by the time they graduate with both having started school at the same time.  That may not seem like much of a big deal, but from our experience, it is.
So George went to his preschool’s graduation in May, but he won’t be starting kindergarten with the majority of his classmates.  What he will be doing is starting a program at our local high schools Child Development and Learning Laboratory.  I can’t tell you how excited we are for him to be able to be a part of such a cool progressive learning environment.  I would suggest anyone reading this post to look in to what programs your community offers for Pre K students.  I feel like we won the lottery with ours.  I am confident that this is exactly what my son needs.  An extra year to be a little boy that isn’t feeling the pressure that our school systems and social systems inevitably place upon their precious little heads.
Please, if you have any questions or comments for me, leave them in my comments section.  I’d love to hear from you! Until next time…