Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Stress Induced Baking Produces Yummy Results

This morning we had delicious Pumpkin Muffins from the Vegan with a Vengeance! cookbook. These were the positive result of a stressful day yesterday and getting my first Christmas present in the mail.

First, yesterday was pretty stressful for me. One of the nursery workers who watches the kids for the main base's chapel's bible study group was sick, so a friend of mine had asked me if I wanted to come in on Tuesday to fill the lady's spot. "Sure," I said. I figured I wasn't doing anything else, and it would be nice to get out of the house for a bit. Monday night, I planned out all my other errands and wrote my grocery list so that I could get it all done in one trip.

I was put in the 2 and under room and worked until noon. It went pretty good. The kids were a little fussy and cried every now and then for their moms, but it was okay. Afterward, I had to mail a few boxes at the post office. Trying to carry two boxes (one quite heavy) from the car, through the parking lot, across the street to the post office proved to be a challenge since it was impossible to do this while holding Carlee's hand. At one point she took off through the parked cars, and believe you me, I was quite upset. After 4 times as long as it should have taken, I somehow managed to open the unusually heavy door and usher Carlee inside. "Stay next to Mommy," I told her, since the last time we were in here she managed to run behind the counter, grab the attention of a Chief in a back office, who (thankfully with a smile) came out and said, "Who's trying to mail this little girl?" I had been very embarrassed, but apparently it wasn't the first time it had happened. Of course, today, Carlee failed to listen to my demand, but the door to behind the counter was not open, thank goodness.

After mailing the boxes, we headed over to the Nex to pick up a mic for Tony (who has self admittedly fallen off the deep end in WOW as he and his friends now voice chat.) Then we made our way to the food court for lunch. Subway is pretty much our only option, other than a small pizzeria in which I can order a veggie pizza senzo formaggio, but I didn't feel like waiting for a pizza to bake. So I ordered my veggie sandwich and grabbed a bag of Frito's, which Carlee usually likes. She wouldn't eat. Not only would she not eat, she wanted to run around the food court, and not let me eat. I tried to make her sit down. She wouldn't listen. I tried to hold her in my lap, but she thrashed around making it near impossible for me to eat. But I kept pulling her back up obviously against her will, ignoring the stares I was more than likely getting. I just wanted to eat.

The next stop was the commissary in order to get a whole list of things that I can't get at our neighborhood's small commissary, things I needed for our Thanksgiving dishes. By this time I was so tired of Carlee's behavior that I just put her in the seat and buckled her up, ignoring the whines, the "pleases," and the countless "Mommy I'm stuck!s" This trip actually went faster than I expected.

After making our way to the car and turning it on, I noticed how very close to running out of gas the car was. Tony had said I would have enough to get to base and to gas up on the way home. It wasn't looking that way. I drove toward the smaller base where our mail box is, constantly watching the gas level the entire time. As I drove through the gates, the car was already driving funny, I knew I should just go get gas. So I turned around and drove toward the nearest gas station (which isn't all that near when you're almost out of gas.)

"How much?" the attendant asked. Even though he asked me in English, I answered in Italian: 35 liters, please. He nodded, and I think he was a little surprised I had even attempted the Italian number. After pumping the gas, he washed the windshield for me, and started saying something else to me, but I didn't understand. Maybe he thought I knew more, I just smiled. I handed over my gas coupons and said thanks. "Grazie," he answered, "ciao, ciao." I was so grateful I had made it to the gas station.

At this point, I had to decide whether to drive the rest of the way home (since I was half way there) or to turn around and go back to the small base to check my mail. I knew there were probably boxes in there, at least I had hoped, so I decided to check the mail. However, turning left at that particular gas station is a nightmare, you can't see the oncoming traffic coming around the curve at all, and pretty much have to hope for the best if you're going to turn left there. I decided not to chance it. I turned right and drove about 5 miles before I found somewhere safe to turn around.

I made it back to base eventually and found out that in fact I did have boxes, a lot of them. It took me two trips to get them in the car. Finally done with that, I could head home. In the end, I'm glad I decided to turn back for the mail, as on the way home, I passed a pretty bad wreck. Four or five cars were on either side of the road in awkward positions. I decided that my long delay in getting to that particular spot was a good thing after all.

I finally arrived home, got Carlee inside, unloaded all the groceries and the boxes, and I was exhausted. When Carlee acts up like that when it's just us, it's very energy draining. I put the groceries up, and opened the boxes. This is where my Christmas present comes in... I opened the biggest box from my grandparents and there sat the box for a KitchenAid Artisan mixer!!!!

I've wanted one of these for years!!! I've listened with envy as my friends talked about theirs, and how great they are. Now, I had one! I immediately tore open the box and placed it on the counter. I felt like a 16 year old kid who had just gotten her first car. I carefully wiped it down with a dishtowel, getting all my fingerprints off the shiny black body. I called my grandparents right away, to thank them of course, then I cleaned out the bowl really quick and decided to use it right then. Is baking a weird stress reliever? Not to me.

Knowing of course that a standalone mixer is just a thing (albeit a very nice and helpful thing to have,) I'm even more grateful for the love of cooking and baking that my Grandma and Mom somehow instilled in me. I can remember baking all the time with my Grandma. It was always so comforting to smell the yummy scents coming out of the kitchen. And cooking, well cooking I didn't get into until I got married, because to be honest, my Mom and Grandma always did the cooking up until the day I left. But as soon as I was in my own home (a handful of states away) I found myself wanting the exact mixture of flavors my Mom and Grandma always cooked up. So I had to learn. It took a lot of practice and many inedible dinners... especially learning to make my Mom's enchiladas...

But with that love for baking, this KitchenAid just makes it so much easier! I was so amazed at it, how fast it mixed the muffin mix, how the consistency was perfect, and how quiet it was! I was in love. And as the muffins baked, and the pumpkin aroma filled my kitchen, I was suddenly completely relaxed and in a mood 100 times better than before.

The rest of the night was nice, Carlee went through her bedtime routine perfectly (which is unusual on Tony's duty days,) and, needless to say, we ate the muffins for breakfast, and started today out on a tasty note!