Countdown to Christmas – F*cked Up Fudge and Other Christmas Calamaties

Yeah, yeah, I know.  Christmas is over. Stop counting down to Christmas, moron.

But Christmas slipped by while I was in a semi-delirious state.  I know I cooked, I know Dad came over, I know I got everything I asked for, but I can’t for the life of me remember much of that day.  Or the day after.  Or the day after that.

I know it snowed.

I know I did dishes.  I remember eating some cookies.  I remember sewing.  Looking back on the last four days seems like looking into a murky fishbowl.  I see shapes but nothing’s clear.

I think I have the flu.

Sore throat, stuffed head, hacking cough, chest pains, chapped lips…and a partridge in a pear tree.  The MINUTE I boasted that I NEVER get sick, hubris slaps me upside the head and banishes me to bed.  I haven’t finished posting the crap I did before Christmas so bear with me.

I had this brilliant idea to MAKE Zombiegirl’s teacher’s gifts.  When there was only one or two teachers, it was easy (and probably more appreciated) to give an Amazon gift card.  With seven teachers, I couldn’t afford to give them all gift cards, so we decided to make candy- peppermint bark, fudge and peanut brittle and put them in tins.

All good intentions.  The BEST intentions.  ZERO patience and talent.

The peppermint bark was easy.  I only burned the white chocolate once and the bark separated when we cut it but it was still pretty and edible.

The peanut brittle got nixed by Z-girl because she suddenly hates peanut brittle.  It’s disgusting (news to me.)  So we substituted Oreo Cheesecake balls.  Again, easy to make, not that pretty to look at.  We dipped them in semi-sweet chocolate and milk chocolate.  They held the shape, but looked like piles of poo.  Covered in cookie crumbs, it looked like poo taken out of a cat box.  NOT pretty.

I was excited to try the fudge because it was my Mom’s recipe.  Dad had just given me a gold-mine of recipes he found on his PC.  Mom had typed them all out for him before she got too sick to do so.  Nana Francis’ fudge was one of them.

Fudge batch Number One:  We followed the directions to a T.  When it reached soft ball stage, we popped it into a pan and put it in the fridge.  The next morning, it was still in a caramel stage- it never fudged.  I kept it cold hoping it needed more time.  It didn’t.

Fudge batch Number Two: I got this recipe from the internet- 5-minute Microwave Foolproof Fudge.  Hey- they know me!  Fudge created just for me!  The first batch finished up and we popped that into the refridgerator and quickly made a second batch.  When that was done I spooned it over the first batch since that layer was so thin.  It must have melted the first layer because when I cut into it, the top layer was fudgey but the bottom was melted lava.  There was no making squares from this spreading ooze.

It’s now too late to make anything else- Z-girl has to bring the presents in the next day.  I arrange the bark and the truffles in six of the tins and am relieved that there wouldn’t be any room for fudge anyway.  I put bows and tags on everything, then realize I’m missing a tin for the seventh teacher.  I miscounted.

S’kay, me being the recycle queen, I never throw anything away.  I washed up one of those organic salad-for-one containers, slapped an old Christmas card over the label and lined it with parchment paper.  I’m convinced if you stick a bow on it, it will look pretty.  Seriously, it worked out just fine.  The teachers liked the gifts, tasting the truffles immediately and declaring them delicious.  I only hope they don’t find the mystery ingredient.

Is dog hair nutritious?

I panic when I make anything in my kitchen since the dogs lay practically at my feet while I’m cooking hoping I drop ANYTHING.  My kitchen mantra is “Go inside”, “go inside” while I’m cooking.  They of course, don’t ever listen.  I should therefore list dog hair as an ingredient just so people are prepared…

Anyway, I complained to Dad that the fudge recipe didn’t work so he tried it at home.  He brought over some on Christmas and even his didn’t fudge properly. 

This year’s cookies were a disaster, too.  I misread the frosting recipe for Royal Icing and our sugar cookies came out looking spackled.  I’ll post about those tomorrow.  Dad’s delicious lace cookies never “laced” up and his butter cookies came out all wrong (it didn’t stop MR from eating them, though). 

We made Thumbprint cookies (Mom’s recipe) but they weren’t touched.  They’re still wrapped up on the platter.  The only thing that was eaten for dessert was the chocolate pudding pie Kansas made at the last minute and the canolis I asked Dad to pick up at the Italian pastry shop in his neighborhood.  Everything else stood untouched.

I guess I planned too much dessert for seven people.  I never learn.

Then, I had planned on making a chocolate ginger cake with bourbon icing for the day after Christmas (going up to the in-laws) but the oncoming blizzard postponed those plans.  Thank goodness I didn’t bake.  I would have a cake standing untouched along with those cookies.  

Merry Frickin’ Christmas.

Countdown to Christmas – It’s in The Cards

One of my projects in my 101 in 1001 days is to make my own Christmas cards.  This insane idea usually gets started around Thanksgiving when I realize “Holy shit, I forgot I have to make the Christmas cards!”  I had an idea of what I wanted to do all year, but in my usual procrastinating way, I didn’t plan until it was too late.

Last year, I did the Iris Folding cards  but this year I wanted to utilize a book on pop-up cards I had bought (and NEVER OPENED) a few years ago.  I found a fairly easy design (insert sarcastic “snort” here…) and decided I’d make the thirty I need.

I. Never. Learn.

Sequestered behind my little walls at work, I furiously cut, glued and wrote out the cards.  When I finished up after a few weeks, I figured I had to be close to thirty.

I had ten.

I FORGOT I had to cut out TWO of each tree in order for the damn card to “pop”.  I had to go back and cut out all the other sides.  Shiiit.  I sliced and diced (oftentimes my finger- can I utilize my blood as an ornament on the tree?)  I went through six Exacto blades and practically a whole ream of paper (I had to hit Rob up for more).  As the time for mailing drew near, I had to start putting these suckers together.  I cut scrapbook paper for the shadow and glued the trees together.  They were written out and folded and…

How the hell do these things go together?

The book is written by a Japanese author and I think it was translated from Japanese into (very bad) English.  I had to figure the whole card out myself because the instructions were so vague.

So I forgot a step…

The whole inside of the card has to go into a folded outer piece, making the outside of the card. 

Back to the cutting board.

More glueing and decorating and I’m finally ready to pack the up and address the…envelopes.

Crap.  I don’t have any envelopes.  Whatever I do have is too big.

Online searching found me an easy template (I’ll post the link- it’s a good one to have- when I find it) and I was able to adapt the pdf to a size I need.  The green construction paper we DIDN’T use at the Cookie Exchange was perfect for the envelopes.  A little glue, a sticker and…

I’m still 10 short.

There isn’t any more time.  I apologize if you didn’t get a tree card from me this year.  You’ll have to settle for a Hallmark star card (I picked these out two years ago and never used them) but they’re really pretty, too.  Next year, I promise.  I’m starting the 2011 card next week.

Mmmm.  Yeah, we’ll see about that.

Countdown to Christmas – The Sounds of Silence

If it’s Tuesday or Thursday I’m in my own office at work, behind my little wall and I’m able to blast music courtesy of  (It helps to drown out the “ambient” noise of our very friendly help-desk lady.)  Starting December 1, my stations on Pandora changed from Zydeco and New Orleans Jazz to Swingin’ Christmas, Classical Christmas, Christmas Radio and Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  Whenever I’m in the car, I change the radio station to 106.7 Lite FM, where they play 24-7 Christmas music until December 26th.

I also listen to the radio in my head.

There is a continuous soundtrack rolling through my brain.  It’s very suggestive- if you hum a song, the soundtrack will immediately pick it up and loop it for hours.  I’ll often find myself whistling or humming and sometimes even singing out loud to something I’ve heard hours ago.  The most inappropriate songs pop-up at the weirdest times.

Ring My Bell by Anita Ward ringing through my head at church.

Soul Man by the Blues Brothers in my weekly CAFM Meeting.

Pass The Dutchy by Musical Youth getting all snuggly with MR.

It’s like I have WKRP transmitting in my skull.  I hear this music while people are talking, when reading or on the train.  It gets distracting sometimes when I’m really trying to concentrate on work.  Other than that, I’m pretty used to it.  I can tell you at any time what’s playing on my head-jukebox.  Sometimes it’s snippets of song interwoven with other lines from other songs.

But it’s NEVER original.  I would be able to make a fortune if I was MAKING UP songs in my head. 

Christmas time is the worst.  I’m listening (happily) to songs I don’t hear during the year.  For a few weeks in the beginning of December, all that was continuously playing was You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.

Yes, sometimes the songs reflect my mood.  I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas makes frequent appearances.

I should utilize my iPod more.  Plug into real music.  That’s the only time I don’t hear any overlapping music in the old cerebellum.

Except for this morning.

I was between Snooze Alerts (that blissful 9 minutes of twilight sleep where most of my vivid dreams occur) and I had just laid back down from smacking the Snooze Button.  I snuggled further under the comforter and tried not to think about anything.

I then realized nothing was playing in my head.  No talking.  Nothing.  Pure silence.  About 30 seconds worth.

I shook my head, waking myself up further, and at that moment jump starting the radio-brain- kind of like smacking the side of an old Zenith to get between the numbers to pick up a stronger signal.  Bohemian Rhapsody started in on “Bismillah, no, we will not let you go…” verse.

Sigh.  I guess it could be worse.

There could be voices in my head telling me to kill…kill everyone.  Kiiiill.

“All the single ladies, all the single ladies, all the single ladies….”

Countdown to Crhistmas – Traditions

We’ver been doing so much Christmas-y stuff these past two weeks and I haven’t been posting about them because I lost the cord from my camera.  I knew it was in my office somewhere, which means it’s either under the two-foot high pile of proposed sewing or under the mess of my worktable- the catchall for everything in the house that doesn’t have a place.  Or maybe under the piles of craft boxes on my floor that you have to step over to get to the sewing machine or computer.

I need a professional organizer.  One with a strong stomach.

I eventually found the cord- in my camera case (go figure) so I can now upload pictures.

I’ve already blogged about one of our Christmas traditions- the decorating of a gingerbread house.  This year I bought one Zombiegirl wasn’t really happy about.  (I don’t really like the Wilton houses either…)  We finally made time to sit one Saturday morning and do it.  It turned out that Beena and Kansas were home so we all were able to decorate it.  A few spats ensued (seems no one likes my icicles or my dancing bears) but in the end it was really nice that we were all able to work on it.  The minute we finished, Zombiegirl was ready to eat it.

I convinced her to save a piece for Santa.

Countdown to Christmas – Winners and Losers

Argh- I apologize for that last post.  I thought it would be hilarious to “drunk” post.  I’ve never drunk texted or drunk dialed someone because I can count on one hand the number of times I got blitzed.  And seriously, the day after I drink I swear I’m never going to drink again.

Or eat fried sushi.  It tastes worse the second time around.  I’m such a loser.

Looooser.  Yup.  That’s me.  I went to the post office today to mail out one of my sweet dinos.  I was pleasantly surprised last weekend when someone placed an order for a blue T-Rex on my Etsy shop.  I finished him up this morning (since I was up at 2:00 am with a hangover headache), packed him up and brought him to the Post Office when it opened.  I THOUGHT the clerk said $3.05, which if I was in a right state of mind (and if she was speaking proper English) would have suspected that was WAY too cheap to send this big-ass box to Michigan.  The screen on the debit card swiper wasn’t working, so when I got back into the car I looked at the receipt and it said $35.00! 

I burst into tears.  My Dad, who was driving us around to the cemetaries was a little scared.  All that time making the dinosaur and I lost money on the deal.  Should I have gone back?  Now, I think I should.  Either way I look like an asshole.

So I’m a loser.   I was going to use that found money for a great giveaway next week.  Don’t think that’s going to happen…it might have to be a much smaller giveaway. I want to crawl back to bed…

On a happier, less muddled note, we have a winner for the tutu and the wand!  I random generated the numbers and the number picked was 52!  I counted all the most recent comments (excluding mine) and the winner was the very sweet Djaj, who said “This is a great giveaway, but I got struck by the post dedicated to your brother, so I send a special thought for him, for you, for your parents, for you kids, and for all the people who miss him.”  Thanks, Djaj! 

Thanks to you all for your kind words about the giveaway and other stuff.  Have a wonderful holiday and stop on back every so often, okay?  I might make hot chocolate.

Countdown to Christmas- Christmas parties


Natasha.   No i mean hahaha. That’s what happens when you’re a little toilet (tipsy…typed four times, btw…) and your swype doesn’t work and you don’t work…you end up with hysterical posts that don’t make sense.  We had a holiday party that lasted all day and you (i) drank all day long because its the only party one gored to because the people are real and really nice. Standing in Penn station watching people go by and laughing out loud at the ridiculous bess if it all.

I really am a lightweight drinker.

Oof. Don’t go to k mart when you’re slightly drink.  Drunk. Spent too much money on sticking suffers stufd ers.  Studd we s. Stuffers.  Ah.  Third times the charm!

Ok. Well,will pick a winner tomorrow!  this us not all me drink and stuff…swype is funny on its own!

Oh, I want to go to barbados…

Countdown to Christmas – Wintuk!

Oooh- one more day until I pick a winner!  It’ll be sometime tomorrow morning, and I’ll email the winner immediately!  I was going to throw everyone’s name in a hat, but there are too many!  Random generator it is.  I’ll just call him “Santa”.

If you’re looking for something to do with your kids for Christmas, consider getting tickets to see Cirque du Soleil’s Wintuk at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.  It’s the last season they’ll be performing and there are still plenty of seats left- at least the night we went.

I was a little skeptical about seeing the show since the reviews weren’t that favorable.  But then I rarely listen to reviews since the Highbrows and myself usually don’t like the same things.  Z-girl really wanted to go and since I’ve taken the older girls all those years to the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City courtesy of my workplace, I figured since it was the last year, she should see it.

Wow.  Really.  Wow.

It’s Cirque du Soleil so right there you have acrobats, crazy costumes, ethereal music and stage settings.  Add in skateboarders, rollerbladers, 20′ hills, huge storks, rock monsters, trampolines, hoola hoopers, cops, robbers and bicycles and you don’t know where to look first.  And the sheepdogs?  A little weird but very cute.

Then it snows.  On the audience.  A couple of times.  Tons and tons of paper snowflakes (that don’t taste good.  Don’t ask…)  I looked to my friend Ronnie (who brought two of her four kids) and I literally couldn’t see her through the blizzard.  I felt like the little kid on the commercial looking up and grinning like a maniac and laughing with glee.  I guess everyone in the audience felt like that…when the snow cleared I saw a lot of happy faces.

I tried (simultaneously) not to get upset at the amount of paper waste  and figure out what I could make with the millions of pieces of tissue paper that floated down on us.  The kids were gathering it up by the handfuls and I finally had to ask an usher how they cleaned it up after every performance.

They “leaf” blow it and then vacuum it up.

I’m sorry I didn’t get any pictures of this very visual show and the snow that followed. 

It was pretty spectacular.