Be Safe This Weekend: Tips from the FireFamily

If you live in an American neighborhood like ours, chances are that some Schmuck was setting off fireworks in your neighborhood this past weekend even though the 4th of July isn’t until this Friday. Perhaps they were a week ahead on their calendars? And perhaps they forgot that the only fireworks that are legal in our state are sparklers, trick noisemakers and other novelty items. (That means nothing that launches into the sky and goes boom!)

Our Sparklers from Last Year!The truth is that many people know that the fireworks they are “playing with” are not legal in their state. They know that they are dangerous. But they think its fun. Do these statistics sound fun?

Between June 18 and July 18, 2005, firecrackers (26%), sparklers (17%), and rockets (17%) accounted for most of the injuries seen in emergency departments. Sparklers were associated with over half of the estimated injuries among children under 5 years, during the same time period (Greene & Joholske 2006).


And that’s some of the legal stuff! Consumer fireworks aren’t “toys” even though they’re marketed in bright packages that are appealing to children. They shouldn’t be treated as such. A few tips that I think every family should know before going into this weekend:

  1. NEVER let very young children play with fireworks. Even sparklers can ignite clothing as they are such a high heat. (More on sparklers. Trust me. Read it.)
  2. Check to see what is legal (and not) in your state. (Also on an easy to read map.)
  3. If you’re still going to set off fireworks, make sure you’re in an open area, that your town/city isn’t under a Burn Ban due to drought (do you really want to set your own roof on fire?) and have a bucket of water nearby to douse any accidental fires.
  4. Make sure all children (and adults) are wearing shoes. Stepping on hot embers can cause serious burns.
  5. Teach your children the seriousness of burns and explosions.
  6. Have a cell phone nearby to call for emergency help if someone is seriously injured or a fire quickly gets out of control.

I don’t mean to rain on your 4th of July picnic fun. But I also don’t want to see children or adults harmed by what the assume is legal and harmless fun. Fire is fire and fire can be dangerous. Learning what is and is not legal in your state, teaching yourself and your child about proper safety precautions and acting in a responsible manner can keep your family out of the Emergency Room this weekend and back at your own home where you should be having safe fun.

Or, better yet, go to a professional display. Save the danger for the guys that kid paid the big bucks.


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Cinnamon Free Sunday: Vanilla & Nutmeg French Toast

I cannot order French Toast in any restaurant but Cracker Barrel. Believe me, I’ve asked at just about every restaurant that serves French Toast. (And if Cracker Barrel ever changes their recipe, I’m in big trouble.) I cannot eat any pre-packaged French Toast “stick” type things. They all contain cinnamon. Which stinks to high heaven because I love me some French Toast!

When I developed my cinnamon allergy, my Dad started putting nutmeg in the old family Vanilla French Toast recipe instead of cinnamon. And, quite frankly, it tastes delicious. I forgot to take a picture of our meal and so here is a shot of the recipe itself (sans-mention of nutmeg), written by my Grandmother in the recipe book that she made me for my bridal shower.

Vanilla (&Nutmeg) French Toast

Sliced white bread. (Of note: We use wheat.)
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Generous sprinkling of nutmeg (my addition)

Beat the two eggs together with the cup of milk. Add in 1 tsp vanilla, 2 tbsp brown sugar and generous sprinkling of nutmeg and mix together. Dip bread slice into mixture, cover both sides and fry both sides on griddle. Serve hot with butter and Gramps’ homemade maple syrup. (Yeah, jealous of that one? I would be, too!)

Don’t over-do the nutmeg but put enough in for some added flavor. You’ll soon find how many shakes you need to make it taste just right. BigBrother can eat the heck out of my French Toast. Well, so can I. I’m sure Gramps’ homemade maple syrup doesn’t hurt either.


Tune in next Sunday for another Cinnamon Free recipe!


OH. You just came here to see who won the Heart of the Home: Notes from a Vineyard Kitchen cookbook by Susan Branch? Well, you’re in luck! Would you believe that we had 83 comments (and, thus, entrants)? Your stories about cooking-escapades-gone-awry made me feel better about “cooking” my zucchini bread for an hour with no heat. From burnt meals to uncooked meals on Thanksgiving and everything in between, I think we can all agree that even the best of us have been known to screw up a meal or two. Thanks so much for sharing!

Winner!Now, for the winner! I hopped over to, plugged in the numbers and our winning integer was 39! That means that Alice Hansen is the winner! Her winning comment was on par with a lot of your admitted experiences:

“I’ve for sure done that not turn the oven on thing. And also many turn the oven on at the wrong temperature things too!”

Well Alice, I hope you check the temperature on the oven while you’re making stuff out of your new cookbook! (I’m dropping you an e-mail right now but in case you don’t receive it, please contact me with your snail mail address. Thank you!)