December 17, 2016

Fa, la, la, la, la . . . *@#!*#%@!!!

If only I could decide what part of yesterday's chaos irritated me the most, perhaps I could launch into this holiday-hiccups post with a committed focus . . . I suppose I should back up the story to include what took place prior to Friday.

Part one:  baking cookies on Thursday

Knowing my Kitchen-aid mixer wasn't up to the task of blending the ingredients necessary to create  dozens of my infamous-in-my-part-of-the-world chocolate chip cookies didn't deter me from taking on the challenge.  On Thursday, a day before Friday's craziness almost unglued me, I lined up three large mixing bowls.  While I babysat for my three young charges, and continuing long after they had been collected, I begged my mixer to chug along to no avail.

For about a year, this appliance I rely on heavily has smoked whenever I whip up a batch of cookies.  Typically after allowing a short rest, this precious device kicks back in at full steam . . . until last week.  When I needed cookies for a party, the beater suddenly stalled while uttering a disturbing grinding noise.  Thru trial and error (and  a few select words under my breath, because I was babysitting that day as well) I figured out that if I manually dragged the beater thru one half of it's rotation, it would happily spin thru the remaining half of the bowl.  Eventually I abandoned the failing machine and chose to mix the rest of the thick dough by hand.

With Christmas break approaching and my baked goods in high demand, I decided that night to order the next size up in the Kitchen-aid mixer.  A delightful woman with a southern accent located somewhere near Chattanooga, Tennessee, assisted me Wednesday evening.  Her pleasant tone made it that much easier to drop some serious coin on my order.  When she informed me that my new mixer wouldn't arrive for 5 to 7 business days, I knew I would need to tackle my looming baking project with the limited help of my burned out machine.

Once the first three batches were complete, I lined up the bowls all over again.  With a grimace on my face, pain radiating from my low back, and throbbing limbs, I repeated the process.  After distributing the ingredients, I hitched the bowl up to the semi-lame appliance, and eventually dove in with my own two hands until the cookie batter was ready to be slapped onto the baking sheets.

I kept three ovens heated and dashed up and down the basement stairs at 12 minute intervals to switch out the basement batch pausing long enough to rotate sheets in and out of the two kitchen ovens.  Between removing cookies from the hot sheets, I changed diapers, read books, and in the evening cooked a 'real' dinner.

During nap time, I decided that the cookie production was under control and I thought I could manage one phone call.  I got caught up with my good friend while I removed the most recent batch from the oven.  When I warmed up the ovens again a few hours later, I wondered what the source of the unexpected burning smell was.  Imagine my surprise when I opened the oven to shove more dough in and discovered a sheet of very dark cookies that I had forgotten to remove when I was chatting on the phone.  Multitasking flunkie.

Laddie had arrived home from college for Christmas break, and I couldn't justify tossing chicken patties in the oven to welcome him home . . . oh, how I wish I had known how the next 24 hours with Laddie's nonsense would unfold.  (see:  Fa, la, la, la . . . Laddie!!! and Fa, la, la, la, la . . . #%@!&*%#! Laddie for more details).   Had I been privy to a crystal ball, I would have gladly brought on those trusty and effortless frozen hockey pucks.

While our incredibly late dinner was in the oven I made a quick dash to the post office to mail a few packages, and buy Christmas stamps.  It never felt so good to sit down in a car, but I hopped right out again on my way home to purchase gift bags and tissue paper. 

Just before the kids went to bed, I introduced them to the assembly line on the kitchen table.  They labeled bags for the teachers they wished to give gifts to, and dropped a dozen cookies in each bag.  Laddie's delivery of a plate of warm cookies to his ride home from college in addition to the kids' teacher gifts added up to the disappearance of about 21 dozen cookies from my holiday stash of 33 dozen.
cookie assembly line
Coach consumed his dinner, retrieved one baking sheet from the basement oven, and studied how to set up his newly purchased mouse traps.  After his traps were in place, he reclined in the family room, watched part of a movie, and called good night to me as he tipped toed up the stairs to our room.

Meanwhile back on the mouse-infested-kitchen ranch, I glanced around -dizzy with exhaustion - and grasped the lengthy clean up job that stared back at me.  I would not be responsible for a single crumb inviting a mouse to scurry onto my counter-top.  After blindly counting out the remaining cookies into large freezer bags, I wiped down counters, and carefully calculated my dishwasher loading operation in order to optimize space in my other cherished-but-often-unreliable appliance.

My knees creaked audibly and my muscles rejoiced with the momentary stretch when I squatted in front of my horribly designed, spatially challenged freezer.  After a few minutes of rearranging, I created enough space to gently shove the bags of cookies that would soon be allocated for Curly's birthday treat, Mini's basketball party, and Christmas gifts to our close friends.

I collapsed next to my physical therapist husband, who needed to wake up around 4:30 the next morning for work.  Unfortunately I didn't have the energy required to wake him up and beg him for a deep tissue massage.  Oh, how I wished I had the nerve.  

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