Thursday, September 9, 2010

the vacation diary: day seven

Day 7 stats:

Wake-up time:  9:00/9:19 a.m. Method:  slightly ineffective alarm and jolting awake nineteen minutes later terrified that I had slept much longer.  General mood:  Relieved that I had only wasted nineteen minutes of my jam-packed ultra-productive day.

Agenda:  I had various plans for the day that included taking loads of groceries to Shane's to make some cake magic happen, but I ended up getting started at home because I also needed to do a load of laundry before I packed for my weekend.  I started the clothes, got my recipes in order, cranked up some music, and approached love and cooking with reckless abandon. At one point I went into the living room where I knew Jess was awake and found her watching Lost season 1 on her laptop wearing headphones.  That's when I realized just how cranked my music was, so I forced her to unplug.  She then tried to convince me that her laptop sound was so bad, she needed the headphones.  So I gestured to the fairly large tv sitting nearby and suggested that she could use it.  I scrounged for my mp3 player (which still has some Christmas music on it--but other stuff too), and went back to work.

Every year my moma requests a strawberry cake for her birthday, but since Aunt Donna made one the last time she was down here three weeks ago, she chose something different this year:  a chocolate sheet cake.  I was happy to oblige her since there's much less pressure associated with it, but the more I considered it, the more I realized that family expectation demanded a strawberry cake as well, so I decided to make both--additionally I hadn't made a birthday cake for Shane, and I usually do at some point, so I could consider the strawberry cake his.  It has to be completely cooled before you ice it, so  I started with strawberry.  Once it was baking, I chopped all the pecans I was going to need for the day, which was considerable.  I also made a pineapple cream cheese dip for us to snack on at some point in the weekend.  I would have done some snacking on it right then, but it really doesn't taste good until it's hung out in the fridge all mixed up for a while.

Next up was the chocolate sheet cake.  My moma has made these for years, but I've only ever made a couple in my life.  Recently I compared my moma's recipe with Pioneer Woman's, which she claims is the best chocolate sheet cake ever.  They're almost identical, but P-Dub uses a bit more cocoa and a bit more butter--anyone familiar with her cooking style will not be shocked by this.  I decided to use PW's recipe since more cocoa can only mean good things.

By this point, I had dirtied quite a few dishes in addition to the dishes I'd been avoiding from all week, so I set in to scrubbing.  When we moved into this dishwasher-less house, I was going to have the personality change where I didn't let dishes pile up in the sink, but since I'm keeping it real this week, I'll go ahead and tell you that I'm terrible at it, and Jess is only marginally better.  But there was a brief, shiny moment on Friday when all the dishes not currently in use were clean.  It was a nice, if short-lived, feeling.

I still had one more cake to make, but since it was a dump cake and the world's easiest recipe to construct and since it's better--I think--when it's warm, I decided to wait and do it at an aunt's house closer to supper time.  I also had to gather up a ton of groceries to go to Shane's house for the breakfast I was planning for Saturday morning.  By this point, I was running behind schedule, so I hopped in the shower, threw together an outfit that wouldn't disappoint my mother, packed all my belongings for the weekend, realized I hadn't made the strawberry cake icing and that I'd rather do it at my house at this point, whipped it up, missed a call from my moma giving their ETA, iced the cake and got it travel-ready, and started packing and gathering and loading all my cooking stuff, birthday gifts, clothing, toiletries, and entertainment devices for the weekend.

I headed to Shane's to drop stuff off and pick him up so we could head to the Beeb to reunite with the clan.  On the way, I realized that it was now nearly 3 p.m., and I hadn't eaten breakfast or lunch, so even though we were going to be having supper in a few short hours, I needed food now.  Since I'd been thinking fondly of the punch at Mexico Chiquito for a couple of days, I stopped there for the Friday drive-through special.  I got to Shane's and unloaded what I could and shoved him in the car to hold my chips and salsa, one of the worst-ever driving foods.

We got to the Beeb just after the Kentucky caravan consisting of my moma, the Popster, lovely siblings and one of the lovely siblings-in-law, and the Handful of fun.  We originally met up with them at Aunt Donna's, where they had gone to see Grams since everyone else was still at work/school, but the party moved to MacMac's for grilled hot dogs, dump cake, and a loud, good time.

MacMac rented this giant, blow-up water slide for the weekend, but it didn't get delivered until nearly dark, so the kiddos played on the various bikes and scooters and vehicles in the driveway, and I was on duty ensuring that no one drove the little electric jeep thing into one of the parked vehicles.  I was quite impressed with Pinkie's backing up ability, demonstrating an innate understanding of which way to cut the wheels to go in the desired direction that I can remember finding baffling when I first started to drive.  I also took a ride or two on Pointer's Razor scooter, which was faster and more disturbing than I was strictly prepared for.  When the slide arrived and they started blowing it up, loads of folks came out to the patio to watch, but my dedicated drivers and I kept our posts in the driveway.  Shortly after the slide was positioned and fully functional, we had to head back to North Little Rock for bedtime.

I got to upgrade passengers on the way back to Shane's, trading Shane for Michelle, which handily split up the house-keys into different vehicles, double-handy since I had to stop for gas, and Shane could be there to let them in and do the big reveal on his newly-painted bathroom.  We got the Handful settled into their pallets, and I started prepping for breakfast, browning the sausage and putting together most of the breakfast casseroles.  The adult crew stayed in the more uncomfortable dining room chairs rather than the living room so that I could be part of the conversation, and I assume, so they could complain about the smell of cooking sausage.  I also wrapped presents at some point in there.  The cooking was finished and the presents wrapped long before we tired of each other, and in our first-night-reunion giddiness, we lacked the willpower to go to bed at a sensible hour.  But eventually we did that too.

Food consumed:  I licked a few spoons in the cake-making process, but as previously reported, I didn't eat enough of anything to count until the chicken chimi, chips and salsa, and the famous Mexico Chiquito punch on the way to Shane's.  We had grilled hot dogs (mine covered in mustard and grilled onions), chips and cheese dip, and other such delights.  I really can't remember more specifically than that because I was playing waitress to seven or eight kiddos during most of the meal.  I skipped the dump cake in favor of the dishpan cookies that my moma brought, which were much more portable for the Handful chasing.  After we got back to Shane's, I had some of the pineapple cheese dip and a brownie. 

Bright spot:  Too hard to choose a single, specific moment, but being in the bosom of my family covers it.

Bedtime:  I remember seeing 1:44 on the clock, and I think we were really on our way to bed by then, so let's call it that.


  1. Ellen, I think you really should consider putting your journal/blog entries into a book form.

    Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey had two huge best selling novels in the 1970's and 1980's that were written as diaries.

    Personally, I feel it would be a very good read. t

  2. I know that you've been waiting for me to catch up on my reading to continue posting because you love me enough to be concerned about my fear of extreme failure, but I am now caught up. Let the blogging commence!


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