While they were all down I got a jumpstart on dinner. I was making yummy homemade chili for a particularly cold night in Houston. Jay woke up and was playing alone and Charley Kate woke up and came to help me cook (she always helps- I love it!).
We got everything together and Molly woke, so we turned the chili to simmer and gathered our things to run a few errands (pick up dry cleaning, drop something at my sister's, etc).
Before we walked out the door I picked CK up, took her over to the stove with me, and said, "We have to make sure the stove is turned off before we leave- that's what all the good cooks do!" So we turned it off and headed out.
Three hours later we got home. Tex greeted us at the gate (which was a little weird because it was raining). He ran out to us and started sniffing us. I thought it was weird but didn't give too much thought to it. I opened the back door and it was a smelly, smokey, hazy mess. The washing machine was beeping so I assumed it shorted out or something. I panicked a little (the house across the street from us caught fire in that very place a few months back). I called Anthony and asked him what to do (meanwhile kids are outside in the rain and cold and Jay is freaking out).
I went in the pool door (I don't know why, but I was afraid to get near the washing machine- maybe I thought it was going to explode or something). When I opened it, more smoke poured out of our house and I could see the entire house was filled top to bottom with it. I looked in the kitchen and saw (small) flames around the pot- and realized the chili was on HIGH. I quick turned it off and immediately became furious that our alarm wasn't going off. Jay is full on panicking, I am on the phone with Anthony, and Molly is screaming because not only have I set her down (gasp!), I have also left them all out in the cold again! At this point I am frantically opening doors and windows and turning on fans- in every room both upstairs and downstairs.
Long story (and trying to cut it shorter) but our house smelled like an ash tray. Anthony came home and we packed bags and headed to my parents' house for the night. We needed to air it out and with the cold and rain we just couldn't keep the kids there.
I googled solutions that night, and after dropping the kids Friday morning at school, Molly, Patricia (our housekeeper), and I tackled the mess I made. She wiped down every wall and ceiling in the house with a special solution. I put baking soda over every cloth surface (RIFs, carpet, curtains, couches, etc) and started working on that (all while having Molly perched on my hip- my mom was subbing!). We made some excellent progress, and the smell was definitely better, but we had a long way to go. Oh, and did I mention it was 42 degrees inside our house with all the doors and windows open?!? Poor Molly- I will be shocked if she doesn't come down with pneumonia!
We stayed at my parents' again that night and were gone pretty much all day Saturday. By late Saturday afternoon, we realized the smell wasn't getting better. That's when we called in the big dogs.
A fire restoration company came out to help us. They were SO pleased with what we had done so far and told us they would have started the exact same ways. They also ran a sponge over several surfaces to test for smoke residue and couldn't find any because of the great job Patricia and I had done. I won't lie- I felt awfully proud about that and was glad our hard work had paid off.
So, as of now, we are back in our smokey home. We smell like cigarettes and I have had to apologize to everyone I see and swear to them we didn't take up smoking. The restoration company is coming out Monday to begin the steam cleaning and deodorizing of the house. Yet another day to be misplaced.
All because of some stupid chili.
A few things I have learned...
1) We got lucky. This could have been way worse.
2) High heat and off are right by each other on the stove. Apparently even though I thought I turned it off, I merely turned it to high. I guess it's a lot easier to make that mistake than I thought.
3) Smoke smell is no joke. I may never eat BBQ again
4) My kids are troopers
5) I have never appreciated heat so much in my life. After our house being an icebox for almost three days, I am so thankful to be in a home where we have heat. It is miserable to feel cold.
...and the kicker...
5) WE HAVE NOT ONE SMOKE DETECTOR IN OUR ENTIRE HOUSE!!!!!
Alarm company/electrician coming out Monday to begin installation process.!!
My sister's comment on this whole ordeal... "Man, look what you'll do to get out of cooking dinner!" Ha!
The stupid burned pot in the stupid trashcan!!
Check your stoves people! It's a whole lot worse than just a burned dinner.