I gave the gift that’s impossible to return: I brought my violin to the family gatherings and played. Of course, some of my family would have rather had anything else, but it’s the thought… right?
Jigsaws. Icy. Alexa.
Ten days of no work starting on the 22 with four days of Christmas, then three days of vegging out, and finally three days of New Years.
It was pointed out to me recently that in the sunlight of the #metoo campaign that has been sweeping the world in recent months (whether intended or just accidentally misinterpreted) the lyrics of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” come across as more than a little old fashioned and a bit casual about implied assault.
…a bit of snow. It’s so brown and ugly out right now.
This is actually quite delightful.
Last year while out running, avoiding the ice-covered sidewalks of our usual routes, we took a turn through a side pathway, into a neighbourhood not far from where we would have otherwise travelled, and… there was a Griswold house.
You’ve seen the movie, right? Chevy Chase, as the bumbling Clarke Griswold hosts his slapstick family holiday gathering, terrorizes his yuppie neighbours, tolerates his red neck cousin-in-law, avoids throttling his mother-in-law, and of course, decorates his home in a visible-from-orbit display of holiday lighting that has become the yardstick by which all future lighting displays will ever be measured.
We found someone who is competing for the local title.
He’s put up his display again this year, and on our way home from some holiday shopping we drove the you-just-gotta-know-it route to find this house.
“You need to see this house.” I told Karin.
“No… you just can’t understand how many lights this guy has up until you see it.”
“No… it’s brilliant, awesome and insane all in one.”
Afterwards in the car: “Okay, you were right.” She says. “That was pretty awesome.”
One house. Sixty-five thousand lights. Music. Characters. And a power bill that no one will envy in January. Many props to this guy, whoever you are: you’re making this crazy world a little bit more magical.
When I read the agenda for our work holiday party. It was not exactly family-friendly.
The Kid herself got it into her skull that we NEEDED to go to the Festival of Trees this year.
Every year, the University Hospital here in the city puts on a fundraiser wherein hundreds of holiday trees are decorated, displayed, and auctioned. We went four of five years ago to take in the heady kick off to the month-long xmas season, to walk around and ponder the effort and the splendour, but while it’s a feast for the eyes and camera lens, the Kid has never had much patience for it.
But apparently kids talk.
“Dad. They have a ‘Kids Only’ store there.” She says. “Only kids can go in and buy presents for their parents.”
“So you want to go?”
Of course, and she reminded us every other day for two weeks about it.
So Friday evening we coordinated a hot pair of precious free hours and we wandered the twinkling hall, taking in the festive gush that slapped us full in the face before it had honestly kicked in that, oh… right, it’s December again already.
I had plenty of time to nab a few minutes of colourful footage while the Kid disappeared into the ‘Kids Only’ store, where she lingered for a solid half hour and (of course) didn’t buy a single thing (“you wouldn’t have wanted anything in there, dad”).
Nothing quite screams “HOLY CRAP IT’S CHRISTMAS AGAIN!” quite like wandering among a couple hundred decorated trees, with five hundred strangers. Either way, it beats the mall.
I picked up a sheet music collection of Level 2/3 holiday favorites… 175 of them. It literally takes me an hour and a half to play through the every piece in the collection that, which now that I say that isn’t really that long for 175 songs, is it?
What do you think? 14 months into this little experiment…
Music, Magic & Cats
a.k.a. When do I get off work today. When the boss says go home. Uh, so like … five minutes ago!
Ah, holiday baking. Two of the fourteen pillars of a successful holiday season. Karin has been lamenting the fact that our kitchen, still mid-renovation, is going to miss it’s prime usability test in time for making any real progress baking cookies for Christmas this year.
Insert sad face here.
Simply: store-bought cookie dough, a waffle maker, and a few minutes of time. It’s not freshly-baked ginger snaps or colourfully decorated sugar cookies, but it was some quality time in the kitchen with Claire.
So I bought the ingredient: a tube of chocolate chip cookie dough from the refrigerated aisle of the local grocery store. Three bucks.
I summoned Claire to the kitchen, explained the plan, and we plugged in the trusty belgian waffle iron, setting it atop the stove (because the countertops are still in a workshop somewhere waiting to be delievers and installed.)
Claire helped me slice the tube into finger-width chunks, and we waited for the iron to heat up with giddy anticipation.
A few minutes later we were dropping a couple of the raw cookie dough slabs onto the hot iron and getting ready to divvy up the spoils of our efforts.
In short, the results were not quite as awesome as promised by the internet.
I have some theories about this, mostly around the idea that the store-bought dough is a little too oily to work in this scenario and result in… well.. a giant waffle iron shaped mess.
The cookies liquified.
The dough gooped into a puddle shaped blob on the bottom of the iron and then cooked into a form more resembling a burnt, crumbled granola-like substance.
Verdict: Fail… and Claire bailed on me to go back to watching TV.
Ultimately, I gooped the remaining dough into one giant attempt at a hail mary of waffle cookieness… and it almost… almost barely, but not really, kinda worked. I cooked the dough until it seemed cooked, but then unplugged the iron and proceeded on my (monumental) cleanup efforts, letting the iron cool before I extracted the final-final result from the settled iron.
A single pair of waffle cookies, slightly burnt on the bottom and — after twenty minutes of further rest and cooling — as hard and delicious as the scraps of drywall I still have laying around in my garage.
In short: I think we’ll be waiting for the countertops before we attempt any more — uh — baking. And when it comes to my waffle irons, I’ll be sticking to waffle batter for a while.