Friday, December 12, 2003

This Old Gingerbread House...

Well.... Bob Villa is probably shaking his head somewhere and Martha Stewart would NOT be proud... but the thought was nice!

Tomorrow we are getting together with our best friends - two families with whom we have watched our children grow, shared tears, laughter and milestones.. and who are the closest things to “adopted cousins” that my children know. We are all going to a pancake breakfast with Santa to start the day, the over to Sue’s house for a morning of Christmas crafts and lunch, then over to our house for a Christmas cookie baking extravaganza and a chili supper. Since I have a WONDERFUL recipe for Gingerbread people, I gleefully announced that we should each make houses for our families.

Nick and I have poured over house plan books since we were in University and not even dating yet. He builds Lego like a champ and probably would have been an architect if the call to teaching hadn’t been stronger. Not that we were planning anything fancy like dormer windows or Victorian porches.... just a nice basic house to decorate once we baked all the pieces. So earlier this week we made cardboard templates and then last night I dug out all my ingredients and made a triple batch of dough. Oh the house smelled heavenly!!

I carefully rolled out the dough and followed all the directions in my detailed article about putting the pieces in the freezer for a few minutes to stiffen them before baking etc.... but the first pieces came out HUGE!! Nick and I had forgotten to allow for the dough to expand. We didn’t want mansions!! We carefully adjusted the pieces by scaling them down an inch on all sides and started rolling out more dough. I was counting things in my head as I glanced at my watch...2 fronts + 2 sides + 2 roof pieces per house x 3 families.... oh my!

The new side pieces cooked up much smaller, though they certainly lost their nice sharp angled edges and I began to worry that they’d take a LOT of icing to hold the joints together. Then the two roof pieces came out of the oven to cool “on the greased baking sheet on a wire rack” as instructed... but for some reason, they chose to bond completely to the cookie sheet and shattered when we tried to lift them off. Things began to unravel quickly after that, and Nick headed off to bed, but I was far too stubborn to admit being bested by a mere lump of dough!! Did you know that gingerbread stuck to cookie sheets disolves rapidly to mush when placed in hot, soapy water? At least I didn’t have to scour my cookie sheets to re-use them!

I started moving pieces around from freezer in the basement to other cookie sheets so that I was only baking on the one that seemed not to stick... 4 fronts and 2 sides were safe and sound on the wire racks when the two roof pieces burned and stuck to the cookie sheet just as the clock struck midnight.

The gingerbread had won. I saved the rest of my delicious dough in the fridge to turn into the Gingerbread people that DO work out... put the pieces in a tupperware container to save for a fun dessert idea (break off bits of former roof or house front and use to make a “sandwich” around Candy Cane ice cream!) tomorrow... then went to bed.

This morning I bought 3 kits from our local supermarket... it was the thought that counted....right??

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Bulging Biceps and Christmas Concerts

Now, I just know that with a title like that, someone out there is picturing something à la Chippendales.... but the combination was just because that is the chaos of this week!

I did manage to sneak on the computer Monday during the snow day... and when it was all over, Moncton was the hardest hit with almost 70 cm (over 2 feet!) of fluffy, heavy white stuff. Erin and Bethany had a BLAST playing outside while I shoveled and Nick used the snow blower. He offered to show me how it works, but in true “paranoid artist very afraid of stuff that can munch hands” fashion, I declined. Give me a shovel and She-Hulk biceps over whirling machine parts any day!!

Tuesday was pure chaos because the snow drifts were so high and the roads so narrow, the school buses had trouble getting down the streets to pick up the kids. Schools opened on time, but buses ran at least an hour late... and Nick’s school (along with 3 others) were even late opening because the parking lots and bus zones hadn’t been fully plowed. I walked up to my Tuesday morning meeting on the main road with no sidewalks showing, jumping up onto snow banks now and then if 2 lanes of traffic were headed my way.

Today was sunny and beautiful, but the plows have been out widening streets as the panic about tomorrow’s weather sets in. Apparently there is rain on the way... possibly lots of it. With many of the storm drains and sewer openings still buried under snow, there is a push on to clear them so that all that water has somewhere to go! I hope they are wrong!! Now that the snow is here and the kids are having so much fun playing in it, I want it to just stay cold enough for snow instead of having heavy rain sink down and make it into mountains of ice you can’t play on and driveways that never quite clear until spring. The bigger the Dragon .... the harder they fall!!

Tonight was Erin’s Christmas concert and she looked wonderful singing her heart out on the stage to such memorable songs as “All I want for Christmas is a Dinosaur” or the “Reindeer Boogie”. Bethany watched most of it on my lap, wiggling when the music notes were off or holding her ears when people clapped to loudly. When she got really bored, she discovered that she could make shadow puppets with her fingers onto my chest from the bright lights of the stage! She’s got an imagination for sure!

Both are home in bed and my biceps are still throbbing from the shoveling sessions this morning. But I got 3 orders shipped off, some e-mail answered, one job off to a client to review and only one logo design left to work on before I sleep tonight!

Monday, December 08, 2003

It’s STILL Snowing!

Well.... when we emerged from our house to snow blow and shovel last night in what must have been the “eye” of the storm, Nick and I were both sure that the worst was over. Hah! When I got up for a dragon potty break around 4 am, Nick looked out the window at the wind barreling up our street at almost 80 km an hour and far more than those last few inches of snow on the ground to predict that today would be a Snow Day. (Erin watched that movie for the first time while recuperating from Chicken Pox and laughed herself silly)

I’m hiding in the basement for a few moments of “alone time” under the pretext of checking e-mail and updating my blog. I am ready to turn everyone out in the snow soon to wear off the abundance of energy. With over 2 feet of snow having fallen already, there are some pretty impressive drifts where the winds has piled things in our backyard that is much taller than Bethany. There were shrieks of sorrow this morning when they realized that Frosty (their first blobby snowman of the season) got buried overnight... but they are now determined to form a “rescue party” to uncover him. As long as I don’t have to go out and be the Saint Bernard, I am fine with that!

Thank goodness for crafts and cable. I have enough tricks up my sleeve that I should still be able to eek out an hour or two on the computer between the “I’m bored”s. Oooopppss! I spoke to soon. I hear feet coming down the stairs to the call of “Moooooooooooooooooooooooooom!”