Before I get started, no, Julia is not as tall as Alex – she’s standing on a stool. Here’s a scary thing – if Alex were to stand on that same stool, he’d be eye level with me. He’s not allowed to stand on the stool any more.
There, now that I’ve got that cleared up for you, we can talk about food.
Yesterday was a Staff Development day where my kids go to school, so they were home with me. Alex had a bunch of homework to make up because he was out with strep most of last week, so after he did all of that it was time to make cookies.
It’s getting to be Frantic Cookie-Baking Time around here. Time to make dozens and dozens of cookies to send out to family and friends for the holidays. For some reason (perhaps a hard whack on the head that I don’t remember) I’m not all anxious about getting it all done this year. I haven’t deluded myself into thinking I’ll start early, either. It crossed my mind once, and I just let it keep going. Who am I kidding? I will start after Thanksgiving, and I will finish in time to ship them out. And all will be fine.
But that’s not the cookie project I’m talking about.
A few nights ago, after dinner, we were all downstairs, flopped out on the couch and the big chair, watching tv. We were probably either watching the Olympics or some nature show.
Because bedtime was approaching, both my kids were suddenly hungry. It's funny how they are starving to death ten minutes before they are due to go to sleep, despite big meals and maybe a dessert, too. What amazing metabolisms they have.
Alex REALLY REALLY wanted to make gingerbread men. Not just any - he wanted to duplicate the gingerbread man from (what else) the Shrek movies. So last night we made a batch of gingerbread dough and cut out some cookies, and the kids decorated two each before bath time. Here they are:
Complete with gumdrop buttons. Alex's, that is. Julia's...gumdrop goiters, perhaps.
Well, even though the repair guys from Sears came out on Thursday to fix the fridge, over the weekend, things have gotten WORSE - now in addition to random things freezing in the fridge, now things on the door are freezing too. And supposedly everything is fixed. HA! And also - the water line in there is frozen (I assume) because while the icemaker is working just fine, the water won't come out now. It was working Saturday. It did not work on Sunday. Bill called the repair center on Saturday to get someone out here and Wednesday was the first available appointment. I called again this morning, because of the water line, thinking that maybe I could get someone out sooner, but NO. Wednesday is apparently the first available date. Lovely.
So instead of continuing to rant and rave about that, I'm just going to put up a few pictures of the kids from when we made pizza a couple of weekends ago.
There. That's better than my annoying refrigerator stories.
Last week at this time I was in the process of making a birthday cake for the boyfriend of a friend of mine. In order to keep the kids from trying to grab bits of cake off the final product, I told them we'd make cupcakes on Saturday. So we did.
I used a regular boxed cake mix, and just for kicks I substituted a 14 oz can of pumpkin puree for the oil called for in the recipe. And I shook in some pumpkin spice mix too. We all took turns stirring the batter until it was nicely blended, and then I spooned the batter into mini muffin tins. The kids had had the task of putting all the mini paper cupcake liners in each pan. I think we made about five dozen of them. And they were pretty good too - more moist than usual, due to all the pumpkin puree in there. I think I put a bit too much of the spice mixture in, though. But no harm done.
I let the kids each eat one once they were cool enough, but then it was time for Julia to go to bed. After she was tucked in, Alex and I frosted about a dozen of them and decorated them with mini M&Ms and little sugar Harry Potter-themed decorative shapes. Alex proudly showed Daddy his work, and we all had a little chocolatey pumpkiny goodness before Alex had to go to bed.
The next morning, both kids finished frosting the cupcakes and sprinkling additional colorful sugar on them.
So I've been feeling overwhelmed and stressed and depressed and lots of other awful things lately. Mostly while I'm at work. Yesterday was particularly bad, actually. There were moments throughout the day when I just wanted to say "you know what? I just can't do this any more. See ya." but I didn't because I did the math and I don't think we could afford it, plus I really should discuss that sort of thing with Bill first.
Finally the day finished and I went and got my kids and the day began to improve.
For one thing, on the ride home, out of nowhere, Alex announced "You're a banana sandwich, Mommy!" He said it like it was some secret I'd been hiding and he'd figured it out and thought it was pretty amusing.
Later on, after we'd been home for a while, and the kids were settled down doing something relatively safe, I got the mail.
And there it was. My "House on the Hill" catalog. (I'd link to it but my computer's being weird and I could lose this post so I'll do the linking later...) House on the Hill is a company that makes and sells springerle molds, among other things. I've posted a recipe for them somewhere in my recipes category. I need to restructure that section, now that I'm thinking about it.
Anyway, it brought me a much-needed change of focus. Here it is, October, and guess what, it's time to start planning the Christmas cookie baking. YAY!!! I don't know how to explain how happy that made me, and then, the more I thought about it, mentally planning who I need to bake for, and how many batches I'll need of the different recipes...and I realized, this year will be BETTER than the previous years!!! I can do MORE!!! I can go back to doing some of the more time-consuming decorated giant cookies that I used to make YEARS ago! I can make those really cool gingerbread cookie BOWLS like I did about, oh, probably ten years ago....I HAVE TO START MAKING LISTS!!!
I couldn't sleep last night. I know I sound nuts. It's just cookies, after all. But no, it's way more than cookies. It's creativity, for one thing. It's COOKIES, for another. It's traditions. It's the holidays. It's me showing off, probably. But none of those things compare to the biggest thing of all - the thing that makes all the other elements so VERY possible this year:
My kids are toddlers.
Both of them.
I loved both of their babyhoods - I'm not dismissing that section of their lives. I sort of miss it, when I see little tiny baby clothes at the stores. But. Now. They can play by themselves. I don't have to carry either one of them everywhere all the time. They mostly sleep through the night, which means so do I. In short - I have more time and more freedom. I need a little of that right about now.
And another fun thing - Alex helped me last year, cutting out the almond stars. He will help again. And maybe Julia can help too...though I can just see her just ignoring the whole "helping" aspect and grabbing blobs of dough off the table and shoving them into her gaping maw as fast as she can....
But still. I am wound up now. If I didn't have to work today, I would have stayed up last night making my lists - of cookies, of ingredients, of people I'll send these to or bring them to, of other stuff I need (cookie tins, for one thing...)...ah, the bliss of lists.
We'll bake some cookies this weekend, me and Alex. You know, for practice.