Sunday, December 17, 2006

Done, done, and done!

On Monday, I had a migraine. I was feeling quite stressed about my holiday to-do list plus the things that needed to be done for everyday life. I couldn’t concentrate on my work, which needed to be done, as I was going to be out of the house for the day on Tuesday. I was desperate to finish on Wednesday, so I would have Thursday to myself, but it just didn’t look like it was going to happen. On top of the migraine, I was sleep deprived and feeling like I was coming down with something. All I could think about was seeing myself up all night the night before we were to leave for Christmas trying to pack and wrap presents and spending our entire week away desperately trying to catch up on sleep instead of enjoying the time off. I found myself having thoughts of “I hate Christmas,” which is so not me, as I absolutely love Christmas, and it really made me truly sad to be having those thoughts.

I had been so proud of myself for being nearly finished with my shopping by Thanksgiving. When I finally place my last Amazon order and was finished, I was so busy patting myself on the back that I neglected to think about all the wrapping that needed to be done. I kept thinking about the packages that needed to be shipped, but I never made any move to get those done either.

And then there were the Christmas cards. I picked out the stamps way ahead of time; we bought them before Halloween. We always go with a “Season’s Greetings” card instead of a strictly Christmas card, and we usually get something with a snowman or snowflakes. So the snowflake stamps this year were perfect for us. I spent November planning for our family picture, picking out clothes that would be complementary without being too matchy-matchy. We took the picture Thanksgiving weekend, and we picked up the cards last Friday. The only thing missing was the letter. I already had the paper and matching address labels (snowflakes, natch), but I just did not feel like writing the letter. We had only done a letter once before, 2 years ago, and the main reason for that one was to let everyone know that we were expecting. I wanted to write a letter this year, especially since I had everything coordinated, but I just didn’t feel like it.

Well, I got my act together. All I have to do to ease my migraines is to dispel the stress. It’s like magic. In the past, I’ve had migraines at work or school so severe that I could hardly stand up straight. As soon as I got the okay to leave early and left the building, the migraine was gone. I almost felt bad for going home, but I knew that if I went back inside, the migraine would return.

Not feeling well…skip yoga and make chicken soup for dinner. The trip to the store is added stress…call Pete to pick up the necessary ingredients. Worried about getting work finished…sit down and do it, get to point x tonight, do y on Tuesday, finish up with z on Wednesday. Christmas letter…feeling better after dinner, stay up and just write it. Presents need to be wrapped, laundry needs to be done, dishes need to be washed…get work done Wednesday night and have Thursday for everything else.

And it all worked out. My work took a little longer to get done that I had hoped, and I thought I was going to be working on it into Thursday, but I sat down Wednesday night and got it all together. I folded the remains of 3 weeks’ worth of laundry on Thursday and wrapped nearly all of the presents. Right now only 1 present needs to be wrapped, and that’s because I still need to knit half of it. Pete and I edited the letter throughout the week, and it was ready to be printed Friday night. I stayed up Friday night folding and stuffing and sticking and licking, and Pete dropped them all off at the Post Office Saturday morning. I also got the presents to be shipped wrapped and packaged on Friday night, and Pete mailed those on Saturday, too.

Shopping, wrapping, and shipping…done, done, and done!

Now, let the baking begin!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

When will I ever learn?

So, yesterday I was supposed to make a half batch of pretentious cookies* as a holiday gift for Gogo’s ballet instructor. At 4pm, the studio manager called to inform me that today’s class was being canceled. My butter was already at room temperature, so I went ahead and made the dough. The directions said to chill it for 30 min. I was tired and thought I was going to go to bed early (I ended up assembling holiday cards and stayed up much too late), so I left the dough in the fridge overnight, not thinking it would be a problem.

I pulled the dough out of the fridge to make the cookies tonight, and it was nearly rock hard. Well, duh! A dough basically made of butter, sugar, and flour will harden like butter when refrigerated for an extended period of time.

Since I was planning to make sugar cookie dough tonight as well, I thought I ought to check the recipe to make sure I wasn’t going to mess it up by refrigerating the dough overnight instead of just for an hour or so. Lo and behold, the recipe expressly says to refrigerate the dough overnight. It’s a good thing I had decided to get ahead of myself and make the dough tonight. That would have been a fine surprise tomorrow morning.

(For the record, I broke the dough into pieces and let it sit for a few minutes, and all was well. The cookies are fine. I have also learned to bake these on the middle rack; on the top rack, you get burnt coconut instead of toasted coconut.)

*The cookies themselves are really good, and the recipe is quite easy. I just call them pretentious because it’s an Ina Garten recipe from “A Barefoot Contessa Holiday” on the Food Network (I’ve linked to the regular recipe on the site; if you go to the recipe through the show link, it has all this “limited time only for legal reasons [copyright]” business). When she makes the cookies, she’s doing so as holiday gifts for her friends instead of trying to shop for them. She wraps them up, 5 or 6 to a bag, and then goes around delivering them in person (2 bags each). They all live in huge houses or quaint cottages (these are The Hamptons, after all), and they all see her coming and invite her in. She begs off in every instance…she has more deliveries to make. It’s just all too much. But the cookies are divine!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Deck the halls

When Gogo was Zuzu’s age, we only put lights on the tree. It was tricky enough to keep her from trying to eat the lights. For the last three years, we’ve made salt dough ornaments. They are not faring well this year. For starters, I am the only one in the house who hasn’t tried to eat them. Yes, I even caught Pete trying to sneak a bite. I had to remind him that the new dental insurance doesn’t go into effect until January 1.

When we put the ornaments on the tree, they all ended up on the bottom half, as is expected with little helpers. We didn’t even have all of them on the tree before it became clear that they all needed to be on the top half. Zuzu couldn’t keep her hands off them. She is still tempted by them and has managed to pull the tree down twice. The first time, I caught it before it hit the floor. The second time, I wasn’t in the room. I heard a crash, and then I heard crying. She wasn’t hurt, just scared. She picked up the star and chewed on it while I righted the tree and collected the pieces of the half dozen ornaments that didn’t make it.

She has also managed to pull the stockings down, too. So now we have empty stocking holders on the mantel. I feel bad for not having more decorations up, but I don’t think anything else would survive.

Until last year, all we ever had was a tree (skirtless). There wasn’t really enough room for anything else. Now we have a mantle, so we have a cheap garland bunched up on top of it (and the stocking holders), but we could do better. I’ve gotten loads of inspiration from several others, but I just don’t have time to make things happen for this year. I think next year will be the year of Christmas d├ęcor crafting. If I start in January, I figure I should be able to get things done in time for Christmas. Maybe.