Saturday, December 23, 2017

Eve Decorates Christmas Cookies: Second Annual Edition

Well it was more of an addendum to my last post of last year, but I still found it enjoyable.

She started out pretty traditional. She was frustrated trying to find her technique with the icing again. She didn't feel like this was an adequate representation of her abilities.

A little more uniform here. 

"Wow, I mean, I really am quite incredibly talented. I'm surprised I didn't see it before. I should try something hard."

"Like a horse. I'm going to do a horse".

"Oh my God, I amaze myself. I am amazing. What do you mean a horse isn't Christmassy? It's a talent thing. You just don't get it."

"It needs a hair tie."

(At this point, she giggled so much Matt asked if she was drunk.)

"Well obviously this is heartbreakingly beautiful. How could anyone bring themselves to eat it?" (Angus says he'll eat it, Eve is offended).

(She searched through the sprinkles, found an orange star and broke off an arm for the carrot nose. I was kind of impressed by that.)

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Then. This happened. 

It was supposed to be a T-Rex, then things went horribly wrong. She asked Angus what he thought it was and he guessed the Intact Insurance lizard. She broke a gingerbread man in half to make it look like it was being eaten, but then said it looked more like a binky. 

Finally: "Okay, now - how do you make a pentagram. And I need five different kinds of sprinkles. For the five signs for summoning Santa."

(A gingerbread man in a pool of blood is apparently a seasonal motif here now.)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

O Little Town of Rush and Mayhem

I think a lot, at this time of year, not just about everything that has to get done, but the whole issue of expectations, and where they come from, and what to do with them (as opposed to what I sometimes feel like telling people what to do with their expectations, which is another matter entirely). It's such an odd thing, this season of alleged comfort and joy, merry brightness, decked halls and midnights clear, that counter-intuitively often causes huge stress and strain and great antipathy toward one's fellow human.

Last year Matt was away for work the second week of December. It was terrible - I felt like it put us so behind in Christmas prep that we never caught up. I didn't send out Christmas cards at all for the first time in years. This year there was no travel on the horizon but I didn't really trust it to stay that way, so we started decorating early, as opposed to my usual "oh, we'll start December first, oh wait, was today December first? We'll do it on the week-end, oh wow that's a lot of sports happening this week-end" and whoops, late again. 

So we started early, and I'm not working yet, and I've judiciously employed my mantra of "do what you have to, then do what you can, then let the rest go". I've baked four pans of salted chocolate toffee pretzel bark, two batches of toffee shortbread, two pans of skor brownies (yeah, we like our skor bit-employing recipes in this house), three batches of white chocolate-dipped lemon shortbread, two batches of sugar and spice cookies, and three batches of gingerbread scones. Most of my Christmas shopping was done last week.

And you know what? IT'S STILL STRESSFUL. I am NOT calm and Zen and beatific. I have given away or fed people most of the baking and I feel like I should bake more. I keep thinking of presents that would be perfect that it's now too late to buy. My parents are coming over for Christmas Eve and I have no idea what to serve. 

So here I am, privilege up the wazoo, with way more time and money to throw at this problem than most people have. How do we do this? Why do we do this? 

There have been really great moments. The day of Christmas book club I realized it was short story night and I hadn't read the short stories yet. Then I realized I didn't really feel like reading the stories, so I baked more cookies instead, and showed up and happily confessed my delinquency and had a lovely night hanging out with book club friends. Today the oven died while I was baking more lemon shortbread - I mean, the element started sputtering and sparking in spectacular fashion, and once I figured out that it wasn't going to explode and kill me, I turned it off. I swore for a bit, then wrapped up the rest of the dough, shoved it in the fridge, texted my husband to please figure out how to fix it and went to sit by the tree with my dog. When Matt got home, we opened the oven to find that the cookies I figured were a write-off had actually baked perfectly in the cooling oven.

This isn't a metaphor, though - most cookies don't bake themselves, and crowded stores suck, and there's never enough time to do everything, and we're always being encouraged to spend more money than we should. So I don't know. What's the mid-point between Grinch and Crazed Gingerbread Stepford Wife? I don't want my family to be disappointed, and I also don't want the secret ingredient to be resentment. 

If you have any wisdom on this subject, feel free to share. If not, I'm happy to tell you to do what you have to, do what you can, then let the rest go as many times as you need. Also, here is a picture of my lovely daughter wearing a Peace sweatshirt.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Girl Gang

So, the Gingerbread Yahoos?

I got them gingerbread pajamas. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Extreme Home Makeover, Gingerbread Style

So on the week-end, these four yahoos decide to go buy gingerbread houses and decorate them.

They bought two kits, and the original idea was for everybody to work on both, but when they got them back home Eve said she suddenly realized she didn't want Marianna or Alison anywhere near her gingerbread house. This is because Eve and Davis (partners in cooking class) are neat, deliberate, detail-oriented people in nearly every respect, while Marianna and Alison are, let's say, a little more into freestyling.

So Matt and I picked up the three girls that had to be driven home, after some drinks around a Christmas tree with friends, so all of this was doubly hilarious.

Alison: "You know what, I'm not even embarrassed about our house, because your house is, like, the kind of house that nobody ever buys because it's too intimidating, because it has, like, nine bathrooms and you can't just relax in it."

Davis: "The houses are literally the exact same size."

Alison: "I know, but yours is too perfect. Ours is just nice and relaxed and cozy."

Davis: "It's cozy because you ICINGED OVER THE WINDOWS. Nobody could sell yours because it's ILLEGAL TO SELL A HOUSE WITHOUT WINDOWS."


Before this, at the aforementioned Christmas tree music-listening session, everyone was calling out their favourite Christmas songs and then songs in general, while the man of the house used the ipad and tv to play the songs in question and everyone either enjoyed them or, more likely, mocked them and went into detail about why they were the worst examples of so-called music ever to litter the cultural landscape. (I know. I'm not sure how we all stay friends, we're basically horrible people who often bring out the worst in each other). So there was some back-and-forthing on Roger Whittaker, several versions of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, a near-violent stand-off involving Take On Me, and then Collette said her favourite love song was Beth by Kiss, because she'd heard that one of the band members wrote it for his wife while stuck in a long songwriting session, and it was the most realistic kind of love song. So then naturally someone said "and now should we look up the history of that song and ruin it for you forever?" and I TOLD her not to do it, but she did. And Song Facts said the wife of the guitarist was always interruping their practices asking when he was coming home, and the song was written (imagine this read by Collette in a deflated tone:) "as a joke directed at him." 

Giving your friends a hard time about the things they love: it's what Christmas is all about, right?

Friday, December 1, 2017

Still Working on the Geography Thing

Eve, a few days ago, storming into the room: "My next cooking project is so weird! It's called 'pasta est ceci'. What the hell is that? 'Pasta is here?' It's not even pasta! It's chickpeas!"

Me, Googling: "It's not 'pasta est ceci', you dork. It's 'pasta e ceci'. Italian, not French. Pasta with chickpeas."

Eve, the next day. "Okay, you're right. It's tiny pasta. With chickpeas."

Eve, yesterday: "Where is Rome?" Me: "Italy." Eve: "Huh. So they speak... Italian?" Me: "Yep."
Eve: "And that's... different from Spanish, right?" Me: "Um, yeah." Eve: *sighs* "Okay."

Eve, today: "I apologized to my cooking partner, the Spanish exchange student, for trying to make her read Italian."