Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday, Indeed

I'm not a huge fan of Black Friday. I don't like shopping on the best of days, and combine an early morning with the great unwashed masses, and I'll take a pass.

Granted, this was an informed decision. I looked through all the ads and decided that no, really, there wasn't anything I needed or that called out to me that made me want to get up at 4am. Selling an iPod for $0.30 wouldn't make me want to wake up at 4am though, so I'll admit that's a pretty high bar.

Instead, I decided to have a nice, relaxing Friday. The plan was to sleep in as long as the wee ones would let us (which generally means 7:30am) and then get up and head to the gym. From there, I was going to stop at Costco to get my annual cookbook -- because, you know, I don't have nearly enough cookbooks -- and restock the milk that I used making the pumpkin trifle on Thanksgiving (more on that to come). From there, I was heading to the blood donation center for my 12:10 appointment before getting the oil changed in my car and then making cookies until friends arrived for dinner.


What's that saying again? The best laid plans?

I did get to sleep in a bit, and we had a lovely breakfast where everyone ate the granola that I made for myself yesterday. I don't mind sharing my granola because it's really good for you and I like seeing the wee ones make good eating choices, but it's a forty five minute process that requires my attention for the majority of it. And it only makes a couple weeks' worth of servings. Since I put it into the canister yesterday, about two-thirds of it has been eaten. Of course, with Daddy and Little Miss and Mister Man all eating their fill, breakfast took a bit longer than expected, so we didn't get out the door until 9:30, which was later than I'd anticipated and gave me just enough time to grab a slice of pizza from Costco before heading to the blood donation appointment.

Shhh. I haven't been to the gym in awhile to run. I've done my belly dancing and yoga, but on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays lately, I've been otherwise occupied. I decided to not try to do a 25 minute run but instead regress to the middle of week six and do two ten minute runs. Of course my gym has replaced all the treadmills I liked with new ones. And being the day after Thanksgiving when no one is working, it was busy and I didn't get a treadmill near where I like to be, but that's ok. The first ten minute run wasn't fun, but I survived. I made it six minutes into the second run before I had to stop because I was getting seriously sick to my stomach. Bummer. I walked for a few minutes then tried to do my last four minutes. I made two minutes of torture before the risk of becoming publicly ill was too great for my sensibilities and I decided to walk for a few more minutes.

When I finished walking, I realized that I'd taken longer than I normally do by about seven minutes. That didn't get me hurrying on my way though. Instead, I dawdled a bit to read about the new offerings by the fitness trainers. I finally got into the locker room, took out my stuff from the locker to go take a shower and ... BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. Seriously? A fire alarm?

All the women sort of looked at each other for a minute or so debating whether this was a drill or whether we really needed to get out. I finally decided that even if it was a drill, the wee ones might like to see a parent as the loud noise is forcing them outside, so I headed over to the kids' area.

As I walked in, they were trying to shepherd the last of the kids out. Mister Man was still sitting at a computer playing with another little boy. When I ordered him out (from across the wall), he finally looked up and started heading out. The child care employees let me come in to go through the exit with him. That's when I saw Little Miss -- the very last child -- coming out of the maze area, so I grabbed her, too.

Right about this time, it dawns on me how lucky I am that I dawdled and took extra time on the treadmill. The alternative was being covered in soap in the shower when the alarm went off. And you thought procrastination never helped!

I didn't, however, think to grab coats or shoes for any of us, so I stood outside in the late November cold in my workout gear, and the wee ones in stocking feet. Oops. The good news is that I was hot enough from running that it took a good fifteen minutes before I started to feel chilly.

We heard the fire engines wailing towards the gym, which you'd expect. Whether it's a false alarm or not, you have to have the fire department check it out.

When we heard the second set of fire engines approaching, I started berating myself for not grabbing my purse and coat. The rest of it, I was fine with losing, but I was getting cold now and who knew how serious this was. *sigh*

The good news is that it was just a kitchen fire. Something in the oven went bad, but it was minor, and they reopened the gym after twenty-five or so minutes. And once they knew the fire was under control, the childcare workers were allowed to go inside to get everyone's coats and hats.

Of course by the time we actually got our coats and hats, everyone was allowed back inside, so we went on our merry way. Of course, this put me even further behind schedule. I wasn't missing out on my cookbook though, so I still stopped by Costco. That and Daddy had to drink black coffee this morning because we had no milk left. Costco wasn't an option.

Fortunately, I made it to Costco with no mishaps, and the ten minute line at the food court was really only a minor inconvenience considering how late I was for my blood appointment. Lucky for me, they still let me donate. AND still gave me a $15 Starbucks gift card. I did realize on my way home that I didn't get my Four Seasons gift, but I can live without it.

When I got home, I started baking.

I started volunteering at the Evanston Animal Shelter back when I was in college. I continued volunteering there even after I graduated and moved into the city. I volunteered when I moved out of the city and west, when it was an hour and fifteen minutes for me to get there and back. When I had Mister Man, I finally gave up the weekly commitment, but I still help out at their annual C.A.R.E. Faire.

The C.A.R.E. Faire is an annual holiday bazaar they run on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. They have pet pictures with Santa, a huge raffle, all sorts of pet goodies and vendors, and -- the biggest draw -- the cookie walk. We sell cookies by the pound where people start at one end with a box and a glove and choose what cookies they want. Seventy feet later, I stand with the scales and do the weighing and collecting of money. And hey, if anyone in Chicagoland needs something to do tomorrow, the Unitarian Church in Ev is hosting the C.A.R.E. Faire from 11am to 5pm.

Every year, I have to be the cashier. This used to be because the cookies were $6 per pound or $7 per pound and no one could do the math when it was 2 1/4 pound, and no one was comfortable giving change when the total was $14.25. I was drafted. I'm still drafted, and it's something I really enjoy doing -- with the one exception of the rude gentleman last year who wanted to know how I accounted for the weight of the box when weighing out his cookies.

In order to have seventy feet of cookies for six hours, that requires a lot of volunteer baking. I used to bring boxes of cookies. With the wee ones, I can't quite get that many made, but I do my fair share. These are the cookies we made this year:

Zebra Bars, Delectable Cream Cheese Cookies, Jelly Cookies, and Karen's Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies.

It's the last one that were the bane of my existence. I should really know better than to double a recipe I've never made before. In fact, I should have known it due to the issues I had when making the Zebra Bars. You can't teach an old dog new tricks, however.

The cookies themselves are really easy to make. It's a basic dough that you press into mini-muffin molds before adding a cherry and pouring a topping over it -- and therein lies the problem. I only have a single dozen mini-muffin pan. I doubled the recipe, which means somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 dozen cookies. That's a lot of waiting around for cookies to cool to remove from the pan before being able to start the process with the next batch.

As the first batch was cooking, I decided to get creative. I have little molds that I bought for Mister Man's fourth birthday party that we made chocolates in (yes, I'm insane for letting four year old children work with melted chocolate but that's a different post). They were about the right size and made of silicone. Perfect!

Umm, not so perfect. The silicone they were made out of wasn't exactly oven safe silicone. When the timer went off, I saw the molds melting all over the oven. And when I tried to use my oven mitt to pull them out, the silicone (which I've since decided isn't actually silicone) started pulling apart in my hands. Whee!

I finally got smart and stuck a jellyroll pan right near the edge of the oven rack and managed to push them onto the jellyroll pan. After that I did single batch by single batch in my metal nonstick solitary mini-muffin tin. I think I only just now took the last batch out of the oven.

Next year? I'm hitting the Black Friday sales. It has to be easier than this, right?


AutoSysGene November 29, 2008 at 12:15 PM  

Ack! Sounds like today will have to be a better day...I hope your sales are through the roof.

We did a cookie walk at my church one year and I baked over 1000 cookies...I must have been completely insane...not anymore!!

Cookie November 30, 2008 at 12:40 AM  

I remember making cupcakes for a cake walk and then realizing that those ingredients are expensive! I'm not sure I could afford to bake that many cookies.
And OMG about those silicone pans :(
And a fire alarm too?! What a day!

Michelle November 30, 2008 at 3:17 PM  

Melissa - Wow, 1,000 cookies is a LOT! That's pretty impressive. I haven't gotten the total on sales $ yet, but we ran out of receipts twice which is good. Fingers crossed!

Cookie - You make a good point. At the very end of the cookie walk, we do cookies at half price to ensure we don't have leftovers. A couple people commented to me that you can't make cookies at home for as little as what we were selling them for. So true, so true....

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