Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Let the Baking...End!

Well, that does it. I'm done baking. My husband isn't, but I am. Why? Because my hip decided it had had enough and 'twinged', making me hobble like someone walking on a teeter-totter. So I am listening to my body, and sitting this one out.

At last count, we had over 150 dozen cookies made. The chocolate chips were being demolished, so we need to restock. So my husband has taken the reigns and will complete the tasks. Meanwhile, I'll be making cookies platters and bags for the staff of the two schools my kids attend, as well as a snack for their classmates.

Two out of three parties were attended, and the cookies trays were a hit! People came, they saw, they devoured. Mostly the chocolate chips. I thought for sure the kids would go for the sprinkle cookies since they were so colorful, but little kids aren't as naive as I thought- they went right for the chocolate.

I also made peasant bread and two dips- one was spinach dip, the other was a warm pepperoni dip. Both were consumed in great quantities, but the pepperoni dip won out. I received a lot of requests for the recipe. There wasn't much left!

The last party is our open house, and I have no idea how I'm going to clean up for it when my hip is whining at me. I'm wondering if I can get away with playing supervisor, sitting on the couch like a queenly version of Jabba the Hutt, ordering about my family as if I were the boss. I am the boss when the hubster isn't home- but I would love to just sit there and be the queen bee whilst the house was getting cleaned up. But I know better. The moment the kids see me sitting, they figure they can sit too, then my husband has to light a fire under their keysters. So to save the drama, I'm best to be out of sight, out of mind, so I'll take my gimpy self somewhere else.

To the sewing room, Batman!

My sewing room is where the gifts are stored and wrapped. The room is off limits to family until Christmas. After that, it will become my sewing space again, and my no-cleaning sanctuary until the open house (which is between Christmas and New Years).

I just hope I survive.

Don't get me wrong- I love doing this each year! I love feeding the masses, I love all the company, and I love to see people having a great time. I would just like a little more time to do it all. Twenty-four hours in a day just isn't enough. Either that, or God gives me another body that isn't so gosh darn big to lug around! (like that's His fault and not mine for eating too many chips.) And if He doesn't want to give me a new body (yet), I'd request the metabolism of a hummingbird. For one month. Any more than that and I would slip down the drain when I took a shower.

So the baking of cookies is done for me, though I still have some bread to make. I love making bread. I love eating bread. I love giving bread away so others can enjoy it. So come over my house so I can give you some. And no, this time I'm not making eighty loaves. That's next week.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Let the Baking Begin!

We're in the home stretch of the Christmas holidays, and I'm baking as much as possible! We like to do this every year for special family and friends, and this year I plan to go all out!

What has been made so far:

30 dozen no roll sugar cookies with jimmies/sprinkles on them. Easy to make! I made these all in one day, while everyone was out with friends. My arms still hurt.

12 dozen powdered sugar shortbread cookies. I messed with the original recipe several times, and I'm getting closer to a Pepperidge Farm Milano style cookie. Not there yet, but close! I'm going to sandwich these together with dark chocolate anyway, so there's more like 6 dozen by the time I'm done- if I don't sample any.

What is planned:

Another 30 dozen sprinkle cookies. I have the dough made, I just need time to make them!

40 dozen Monster cookies. These are a no flour cookie made with oats, peanut butter, and chocolate chips (among other things), that everyone loves but I hate, so I don't touch. Oats and me just don't get along.

20 dozen chocolate chip cookies. This is a guesstimate, based on how much time I'll have to bake before I collapse- or the table collapses. Possibly even the floor too, since we'll be storing them in tins in the pantry to keep them fresh and out of little kitty paws. I've never baked around cats, and I found out that cats like to snatch butter cookies and taste raw monster cookie dough. Can't leave them alone for a second- even to answer the phone. Cats are now banned from the kitchen, and my daughter posted a sign to let them know. I hope they can read.

Basically, we're doing about a dozen dozen cookies- or is that a gross dozen? Not sure, but it's going to be between 140 and 150 dozen total. And most are going to go out as gifts for friends, family, and to gatherings like church, Christmas parties, and our open house. Most will be baked this week, if I have anything to say about it. My kids are concerned they won't have any by the time I'm done offering them to others. They like giving them out too, but nervously look back at the tins to see how full they are. I don't think they have to worry, do you?

Did I also mention I'm planning on making homemade breads too? Banana is first on the list, then some peasant bread and maybe some spinach dip and pepperoni dip. these will be the focal points of our goody baskets, as the breads are nestled into a pile of cookies like big, rectangular Easter eggs. I think we'll need a bigger car.

I'm still feeling it in my arms and shoulders. I'll be sporting some major pipes after this! Good thing all that new muscle will be covered in a feminine layer of fat. I don't want to get all bulky and stuff.

I figure as long as I bake the cookies and don't actually eat them, all will be well. Except for the Milanos. Those suckers are mine. Let them eat the oat bombs.

So, what are you doing for Christmas baking? Let me know at

Have a great Christmas and God Bless!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Common Courtesy...Isn't!

Whatever happened to good old common courtesy? I see some people doing things now that I would never even dream of doing! And much of it happens right outside my front door.

You see, we rent our home and the landlord has a huge shed in the back, with a driveway leading to it. We are not supposed to park in the driveway, so the only spot we have to ourselves is the one in front of the house. We also live next door to a daycare. Many of the patrons of that daycare (NOT the employees), seem to think that my parking spot and driveway are there for their convenience.

Believe me, it's not!

Most times I don't care if my spot is taken. I can either wait for the person to come out (most times it's someone leaving or dropping off their child), or park somewhere else- but I can't park in front of the daycare. The last time I did I received a thirty dollar ticket. Most times I can find out whether the landlord is coming that day, and use the driveway on his off-days. He's a pretty nice guy, but I feel bad when he has to come to the door and ask me to move my car.

For the past ten years things haven't been too bad- most of the time people are pretty understanding when I explain the situation and they park somewhere else. But this year seems to be the Year of Idiocy. People not only park in my driveway when I'm out, they park across my driveway, blocking me in! One time I had to take my sister-in-law to the ER and I was blocked in by one of the patrons. I yelled for the woman to come back (and why) and she had the guts to tell me she would 'only be a few minutes'. My sister-in-law has type 2 diabetes, so a few minutes could cost her her life.

Some days it's really hard to be a Christian.

Yesterday was one of the worst. I had a bunch of Christmas gifts in the back seat, with about ten minutes to get the stuff in the house, hide it, and get my daughter from school. I don't normally run late, but you know how it is when you are out Christmas shopping!

I returned home to find not only someone parked across my driveway, but someone else had double parked right beside him! Even if I'd found the first person, he couldn't move his car because of the second car. I'd had enough.

I walked into the daycare, asking in a very loud voice who the manager was. With me shouting the entire time about having asked people not to park there, we found the people involved and they moved. I gave the manager a piece of my mind and walked out, getting into my driveway as fast as possible.

But the story doesn't end there- not by a long shot!

I took the stuff in the house and ran back out to see... another car had blocked me in. This time it was someone dropping something off at the thrift store across the street. Why did I think living near businesses was a good thing? I yelled for the person to move (Hey lady, can't you see I'm parked in the driveway?) and this older woman came out of the passenger side seat and yelled- 'Just a few minutes'! By this time I had totally lost it and began yelling about people making me late to get my kids from school and the rude people who think I have 'Just a few minutes' of my time to waste.

"Where's your sense of compassion?" she yelled back. "Where's your sense of courtesy?" I retorted. "I don't park over your driveway, so please stay out of mine!" She waved me off and she and her friend took their time unloading.

Sometimes it's really, really hard to be a Christian.

I prayed for patience, because if I had prayed for strength, I would have hung this woman by her coat on the nearest flagpole.

Finally, they moved.

I jumped in the car, threw it into reverse, and started backing out- at least until another car parked across the driveway!

Okay, I'm taking a deep breath right now.

The guy sees I'm trying to back out. He sees that I just yelled at someone else for parking there. Yet he still parked. Then he backed up a few feet and waved me on, like everything was hunky-dory. Are you kidding me?!?

He left me just enough room to get out of the driveway at a really tight angle, and without another word, I sped off to go get my daughter. My hands were shaking. It was below freezing outside yet I was sweating. I had not been this angry in years. African bees would have been scared of me. I had to calm down.

Did you know you can pray with your eyes open? God doesn't always require you to keep them shut- especially when you're driving at the time. Nor does He mind if your teeth are tightly clenched- just as long as your praying to Him.

When I got the the school, I parked and prayed a bit more before getting out. No sense scaring the kids.

I wasn't exactly feeling peaceful, but at least I had stopped shaking. And I'd parked a block away so I could walk off the rest of my anger. By the time I reached the schoolyard I was fairly calm and felt I could talk to people without barking like a drill sergeant.

The driveway was clear when I came home, and my parking space was available. So I parked, then waited for my son at the bus stop. After he arrived on the school bus, I told the kids to go into the house- I had to make one more visit to the day care center.

I was buzzed in and went to the main desk. And I apologized for my yelling at the manager- after all it wasn't her fault these people were idiots. In fact she agreed with me about the situation! She has also warned the patrons not to park in or around my driveway, as well as leaving a space for their own school bus. She said she was going to alert the parking authority about the situation, as well as the problem times (dropping off and pick-up), because many people would double park and block the entire street.

I really hate the idea of people getting tickets over this- I know people are hurting financially, and I've been warning people wrongfully parking for a long time. They should know better. There are signs posted by the day care itself, warning of parking violations. The drivers just don't care, and to be honest, I'm tired of telling everyone.

It's hard being a Christian. Sometimes being nice isn't always the answer- On occasion, tough love is required to get the point across. And these people are in serious need of a wake-up call.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Bustle needs to Hustle!

Ever have one of those years? Ever have one of those decades?

We are the people everyone usually envies this time of year. We have the tree up right after Thanksgiving, the house is decorated nicely, but not overly so, and by now we have at least three types of cookies resting in huge tins to keep them fresh for gift-giving. Ninety percent of the gifts are bought, and the only things I usually have left to buy are the stocking stuffers and maybe some new ornaments for the tree that were on sale.

But that was over ten years ago.

Year by year we've done things a day later, then two days, then a week, and now I'm not so happy to say that we just got our Christmas tree. Not that that's a bad thing- many people get their trees as late as Christmas Eve, but for us, this is way too late- two weeks, to be exact. We'd planned on getting the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving!

So far we have the lights on it, but that's all. the house still bears a lot of clutter to clear before we even decorate, and the boxes of decorations are stacked about the floor waiting eagerly for someone to open them up. But not yet. They'll have to wait a little longer.

There are no cookies made yet, but I have most of the ingredients bought. There is a list, and I don't mean Santa's. I love lists. Lists are the best things in the world for someone like me who forgets things a lot. Now if I can only find them, I'd be in good shape.

I have a list for cookies I want to make, a list of the chores that need to be done, and a list for the goody baskets I want to make. But the oven is still a cold hole in the wall, because I have yet to make a single batch. Why? Because my kitchen also needs some straightening up before I start!

I should hire a cleaning service, but they can't do what I really need them to do- which is get rid of my clutter. They have no clue as to what papers are important (like my daughter's drawing of a dragon sniffing flowers), and I'd be afraid these treasures would be thrown out. Of course any bill would be happily tossed, if just for the liberating effect; my husband pays them online anyway, so the paper parts are only needed for filing. I consider the recycle bin the biggest of my filing cabinets. At least that thing gets emptied once a week! So hiring someone is out. I just have to get it done myself, or get the kids to help me. I'm not sure which would be more detrimental to my health at this point.

Sorry about the rambling....Back to Christmas.

Most of the presents are bought, thank goodness! I still have a bit more to buy than I usually do, and there's even some Christmas sewing to finish up. The shopping should only take a single afternoon (I'm a fast shopper), and the sewing projects are fairly simple- I just need to dedicate the time (about three hours total), and I'll be done. But then there's the gift baskets to make for family and friends once the baking is done, and the house to decorate before the baking. And I have two weeks. Maybe a little more than that, but still, I'm almost panicking here! And I hate running late for anything!

Parties are another thing. I have two to attend that are family affairs (and family parties are usually mandatory), and one we're having ourselves- but ours is after Christmas but before the New Year. We've made it a tradition to have an open house a few days after Christmas, just to relax and chat with friends and family- and it isn't mandatory. That week is usually my busiest, because I go all out in making party food; Handmade pie crusts tucked into mini cupcake tins for mini quiches, pigs in a blanket, those ham wraps with the pickle and cream cheese filling- you name it, if it's down home snacks that don't require capers, I usually make it. But then I'm too tired to enjoy my company!

This year will be different. I hope.

This year I plan on making (ahead of time of course!), homemade breads, savory dips, cookies, pigs in a blanket (they can be made ahead and frozen for convenience), dessert breads, and homemade chicken bites that are good hot or at room temp, so I won't be cooking all day. Everything will be prepped beforehand, so when I see something running low I can just pop whatever it is in the oven when needed. No forks, no fancy china- just pretty plates and napkins and a large trash can for easy clean-up.


I just hope to have the house decluttered by then! If not, then a lot of my stuff will be draped in lovely Christmas fabric from my quilting stash. Either way I'll have it covered (forgive the pun!)

I hope your Christmas isn't as hectic as mine! Take time out for a nice hot cup of cocoa (or anything chocolate!), and take a deep sniff of that yummy rich goodness God made especially for women, smile, and relax. Even if it's for five minutes. Think of me and be glad you aren't me (if you have less to do), or be comforted in the fact that you aren't the only Christmas nutball on the planet (if you have as much or more to do!) Then drink (or eat) that chocolaty yum-yum and get back to work! :)