December 28, 2023

Dishwashing Habits

Living without a dishwasher has opened my eyes to the most trivial bits of our dishwashing habits.

In the normal course of life with a functioning dishwasher - a drying mat (this is new to us as we used to use a tea towel; but this works better) was placed to the right of the sink on a tiny slice of counterspace  about sixteen inches - and it worked fine.  Which was great because I usually hand wash dishes from the left (washing) to right (rinsing/drying).

In the normal course of life without a dishwasher, that tiny slice of counterspace wasn't cutting it.  So I had to switch up and go from right to left so the dishes ended up on the larger bit of counterspace to the left of the sink - do you know just how hard it is to make a switch like that after a lifetime of doing it one way?!

At first, I thought maybe I washed dishes from left to right because I am left handed.  But then, the more I thought about it (see what happens when I'm left to my own devices?  I overthink the most trivial things); I remember growing up we always washed from left to right...and my parents were right handed.  Although, recalling that kitchen set up, perhaps that's why we did it that way.

And that got me to wondering; does EVERYONE generally wash from left to right?  

And since Elisabeth and I are both on the same left/right page today, I'll also ask - are you right or left handed and do you think that has anything to do with the way you hand wash dishes?

December 26, 2023

Post Christmas 2023

Well, we did it.  We crossed the finish line.  Oh sure, some of us are a bit bedraggled and still have that crazy glint in our eyes - but we made it.  Now, it's time to rest and prepare to take on a new year. 

The run up to the holiday was a hectic one with much to be done - baking; cleaning; wrapping.  You all know the drill; as I assume most of you were doing the same.

But starting on Thursday, a couple of wrenches were thrown into the mix.

Despite the fact that I am on VACATION, there is a project going on at work that I must attend to weekly.  And up until last week, this has been fairly manageable on my end.  This project involves a government entity and tight deadlines.  So, when I get the news that I need to act on my part of the project, I need to act right then.  On Thursday, I got notice that I needed to send out over 100 emails.  Now, this can't be an email blast; it needed to be over 100 INDIVIDUAL emails that needed to go out with multiple, various people copied on each email.  Honestly, I thought my head was going to explode.  But, by some miracle, I got it done.

And on Friday, the Appliance Gods decided that the dishwasher needed to stop working.  Because, apparently in this house, it is illegal to have ALL the appliances working during any given holiday.  But, as I repeatedly reminded The Husband, at least we still had hot water (honestly three years later and I still have not recovered from THAT nightmare!) and I announced it would be All Hands on Deck for kitchen clean up for the holiday. 

From there everything else went wonderfully.  The Happy Couple came over early afternoon on Christmas Eve; we played Catch Phrase (I had forgotten just how much fun that game is), and had a lovely dinner.  They stayed the night and we opened our gifts on Christmas morning.  After a leisurely breakfast, they headed out for her parent's house.

We spent Christmas day putting the house back together (ish) and in the evening headed two doors down to have Christmas dinner and our gift exchange with our friends.

And Gerard ended up coming home with us...

Reading by the tree light

Back in May, I gifted my friend a gnome doing yoga for Mothers Day; which she loved so very much.  So much, according to her husband that she immediately fell down a gnome rabbit hole on the Internet.  Her husband opined that he figured he'd eventually have a whole army of gnomes in his front yard.  He's probably not wrong on that count as I feel that a gift giving tradition between the two of us has been sparked.  One that I will happily accept.

I hope that you all had a very Merry Christmas (if you celebrate) and look forward to stepping into 2024 with you all!


December 21, 2023

A Christmas (Cookie) Miracle...

On Tuesday, I took five batches of defrosted dough and made cookies.  But that is not the miracle.

No, yesterday I was determined to wrestle with the cookie press and make spritz cookies.  Why, you may ask, do I continue with that damned cookie press every year?  Because S (aka Man-Child) loves those cookies beyond reason.  In fact, he once wrote a story (a very well written, dark, and grim Christmas story - which is also a very un-Christmassy story) around those very cookies.

So, once again, I gritted my teeth and pulled out the cranky cookie press and re-visited the recipe.

Those that have been around here for any length of time know that I am not a very free spirited cook.  Hell, I don't cook at all.  But I like to bake.  But to me, baking usually means if I follow the "rules" (the recipe), I will be happy with the results.  Until it comes to this recipe.

But yesterday, when I looked at the recipe, I said to myself, "Oh hell no.  That is far too much flour and not enough butter!"  And I became a rebel for the first time in my baking life.  I cut down on the amount of flour (to be honest, I could have probably cut another half cup - but the "rule" follower in me pushed back a little) and added some melted butter to the finished product before inserting the dough into the press.

And finally!  The cookie press worked as it was intended (for the most part).  There were no tears.  No cursing.  And we ended up with more than one shape of cookie!  Were they perfect?  By no means.  But prior years we've ended up with one shape.  Anything else was a blob.

And even better?  These cookies are SO much better than the original.

Was it still a hot mess?  Yes.  Yes, it was.  You are still going to be covered in dough and greasy from head to toe; but the results are worth it for the pleasure these cookies bring S.  I think the only way around it (marginally) is to have three or four different presses loaded with different disks so you don't have to keep changing them out (if you want different shapes); but that seems extra ridiculous (not to mention, more to clean and store).  So I will press on (if you will) and continue to use the modified recipe that works so much better than the original.

December 12, 2023

Christmas Progress

I don't know how it is in your house; but in this house the wheels of time regarding Christmas seems to move at warp speed!*

The tree went up on the weekend of the second.  Well, I should say, the new tree.  The old tree went up on the first - only to discover that NONE of the lights were working.  I debated whether or not I should just throw some lights on it; but decided NOPE.  I bought a pre-lit tree and this tree was no longer pre-lit so away it went and a new pre-lit came in (I sincerely hope this tree lasts longer than the last one; we spent a bit more money on it so fingers crossed).

After decorating the tree, I turned my attention to ornament boxes.  We currently have four and most of the ornaments are never used.  I was (hopefully, we'll see after I undecorate the tree) able to get it down to two...fingers crossed.  But, even if we just get it down to three this year...that's better than nothing.

Despite me putting a reminder on my calendar to start shopping for Christmas back in October; I neglected to make any real progress.  Oh sure, I bought that one gift.  Luckily, I did have the foresight to take the week off AFTER Thanksgiving and the wedding (and let me tell you, this is THE best week to take off to make a serious dent in Christmas decorating/shopping; I will be doing this from now on).  It was then that I was able to make headway on my list.

My mother-in-law's gifts have all been purchased, wrapped and packaged.  Tomorrow it will land at the post office to be shipped off.  I think I have most of The Happy Couple's list done (administrative note: going forward they will most likely be known as S and A; at least when mentioned separately).

I want to give you a sneak peek at one of the gifts for S this year...

This was almost two years in the making, people.  I was a quarter of the way through The Shining when S casually mentioned that maybe The Shining wasn't his favorite Stephen King book after all; that maybe Doctor Sleep was (are you kidding me, son?!).  Then I *think* he accidently saw the work in progress a few months later; so despite finishing it in time for last Christmas, I just put it away thinking maybe he'd get it this Christmas.  And then toyed with the idea of making another one.  Quite honestly, knowing how much work went into the first one, I put it off.  But eventually caved.  These aren't quite finished as I still need to cut them out; baste (or Stitch Witchery it - most likely I will go this route) the edges and frame them.  

As of Wednesday I'm technically off for the rest of the year (oh sure, I'll still be checking email for my own sanity and making myself available "as necessary" - what can I say, business still needs to be dealt with even in my absence) and am prepared to Shop Like I Mean It to wrap up the rest of the list; much to The Husband's (and my bank account's) dismay.

* I started this post on Sunday; it's now Tuesday night.  The only thing that held up this post was taking the picture but, of course, in the run up to vacation work was so bonkers I only just now got around to taking the picture.