Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas Interlude

I wouldn't say this has been exactly a relaxing Christmas, but I do feel I got around to quite a few things that I really wanted to get done.

I took care of the stockings fairly early on Christmas Eve, but then fell asleep and had to finish wrapping from about 3 am onwards.  Fortunately, the kids no longer run downstairs at the crack of dawn.  I heard my son walking around and 7 or 7:30, but he didn't actually come down, and my daughter slept in (I guess that is a side-benefit of her no longer believing in Santa).  Still, I was quite surprised that they didn't really make it down until just before 9 am.

It was definitely a smaller number of presents this year, though partly because they are getting other things, like the skates and skating lessons and so on.  I had to replace a laptop for my wife, and I would have been perfectly happy leaving it under the tree, but she wanted it as soon as it arrived...

My daughter started to get quite upset, since the one thing she had wanted was a thesaurus.  (Kids these days...)  There was one present left, and she didn't even want to open it.  Of course, that was a dictionary and a thesaurus from the grandparents, so she was happy after all.

I tried to relax for a bit and called relatively a bit later in the day.  Then I went downstairs to deal with my present (to myself).  I had bought one more bookcase to try to make the chaos downstairs a bit more manageable.   It took a while to put it together, in part because it is so space constrained that I had to move a bunch of boxes just to get the room to put the pieces down.  Then I reversed a piece (just like I did with the desk).  I was going to try to just live with it, but it actually would have made attaching the back difficult if not impossible.  So I undid a few parts and managed to put it right.  I had to be extra careful so that I didn't tear out any of the screws or dowels.  Then it took another few hours to go through the boxes and pull out the books I wanted.  I still am missing a few, but I have so many to read that I am not going to worry about them.  I'll try to clear out a shelf or so each year, and in a few years I'll be ready to go exploring for the lost books.

That took much of the day, so I spent a bit more time with the kids.  (I had meant to teach them how to play backgammon, but perhaps tomorrow...)  Then I decided to try to move the sewing machine downstairs to see if I can get done with the first set of curtains and maybe a stuffed toy for some visitors we are hosting tomorrow.  If this goes well, I will say I more or less have my touch back, and I can attempt the curtains and then the skirt and pajamas that I want to make.

And I decided I wanted to do some holiday baking.  I bought the ingredients for cream cheese cookies, molasses cookies (and/or ginger snaps) and something special I have in mind (pumpkin bars on a graham cracker crust).  Maybe next year I will be up for the sugar cookies that you roll out and cut into shapes.  I did that with the kids one year in Vancouver but just didn't feel up to it this time around.  In fact, given the late hour -- and the fact that I don't want to burn down the kitchen just to make holiday cookies, I stuck with the cream cheese cookies.  They came out pretty well.  I should have time to attempt one of the other two recipes tomorrow morning before our guests arrive, but for now it is definitely time for a cat nap.  It has been a long day for Santa's helper...


We haven't entertained a lot of guests in a long time, and it was maybe a bit overwhelming.  After about 2 hours, they said another friend was dropping by, and I gently suggested we meet her at a nearby coffee shop, and we talked there for another 90 minutes before the kids looked totally exhausted.

Anyway, the cream cheese cookies were a minor hit.

I simply did not have time to get to the other cookies while the guest were here.  Or rather I had started them, but between the shortening not being soft enough and the brown sugar being rock hard, I wasn't making much progress with the dough.

Curiously, letting it set out while we all got caught up softened it to the point I was able to finish all the mixing fairly easily after the guests left.  I wouldn't say the dough looked that appetizing, but the rolled up cookies looked pretty good (I was making ginger snaps with my daughter).

However, I think the recipe had the wrong mix of flour to shortening, since the cookies spread out into a kind of Jabba the Hutt cookie that completely covered the baking sheet.*

Broken back up into smaller pieces, it tastes ok, but not as good as I would have hoped.

I've gotten some advice from the cookie doctor (my dad) to see if the remaining dough can be salvaged, but I suspect this is just going to go into the bin as a failed experiment.

* I'm taking my son to the new Star Wars movie on Monday, so it is sort of on my mind at the moment.

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