Friends. My giddy-o-meter has been nearly off the charts just thinking about putting this post together. No matter what I tell you here, let it be know that I have never given anyone food poisoning, my children are thriving on what I feed them, and the boy never complains/often makes requests from my "greatest hits" collection. In other words, I can work my way around a kitchen comfortably and confidently so that all are fed, all are satisfied and all are welcome.
However. Some days the stars are aligned just so, and that 3/4 moon casts down some serious voodoo on me. In those moments, THINGS HAPPEN. This is one of those times. Before you read further, I suggest you step away for a moment, find some of your own cooking successes in your own normal kitchen, pillage the heck out of that container of your choice, and settle in for a good read.
Foreshadowing: The boy whispered sweet nothings in my ear afterwards along the lines of "Maybe you need some Culver's tonight..." This was quickly followed by "The flavor of the day is caramel fudge cookie dough." He knows how to make my knees weak.
It's all because of our ugly, outdated fluorescent light in the kitchen that has long over-stayed its welcome...
Our story begins on Black Friday when we made an impromptu swing through Lowe's for I-don't-even-remember-what and walked out 30 minutes later with rumbling bellies and 2 antsy girls $200 lighter in the pocket but lugging a new kitchen light. Of course we did our due diligence and polled the random Lowe's employee in a blue vest to ensure that we would be able to quickly and easily swap the ugly fixture for the new, somewhat better looking fixture. Is the new one scads better in the looks department than the old one? No. But, we're working with limited stock on the shelves (par for the course in this town), lunchtime (I was getting peckish), and 2 children in a store that interests them not at all at lunchtime (they were peckish as well), and really, it's nothing more than a bit of nail polish for what is our house, 'Ol Bessy (she is what she is). Bless his do-gooder soul, the boy has a highly aggravating tendency to want to read the box before purchasing something like a new light fixture. And then he wants to ask questions of people who might be able to help him. And then he wants to double check things on the box. I don't even understand. I walk into that store, see a pretty picture on the box, check the price, and hightail it toward food. Installation issues can be hashed out in the comfort of my own home with the comfort of a full belly. The boy has undoubtedly saved me from myself a few times over the course of the years.
Nine years of doing home improvement projects with the boy has finally sunk into my grey matter. We put the girls down for their respective napping/resting times in their respective corners of the house, and (I kid you not) I looked the boy square in the eyes and said "I'm going shopping for new boots. I do not want to be around you while you put up the new light." That's love. No, no...that's marriage. You learn your partner's strengths and glory in those side-by-side. You also learn your partner's weaknesses and hightail it for the hills in order to avoid divorce court. The boy is definitely capable of swapping out one light fixture for another, and since he things things like electrical circuits, I've no fears of him electrocuting himself and twitching on the kitchen floor in a pile of his own drool. In actuality, the boy is a perfectionist and doesn't take kindly to those unexpected bits that pop up in every project. I'm more of a realist in these situations and admittedly have no patience for temper flares.
One of us was successful in our endeavors, not to leave you all hanging about the state of my boots shopping. It was me. The unexpected happened with the light fixture to the extent that the boy wasn't 100% confident in his electrical skills, and I was 100% sure that I wasn't either. This put the project hold until the electrician could come in 4 days (holiday, shmoliday). But the boy had turned the power off on that circuit, which shockingly affects a vast quantity of our lighting needs. So we've been without a kitchen light for a week now. And we're also down two other lamps in the living room and the lights over the fireplace. In other words, we have a light over the sink, under the microwave, and a ceiling fan light to illuminate what is at least 50% of our house's square footage. It's been dim, friends. It adds a festive glow to mealtimes that's really more reminiscent of camping seeing as how the sun now goes down before our mealtime. But nary a complaint has crossed these lips as promised to the boy when this project began to unravel.
The proper electrical work has been installed, but now the ceiling has to be painted before the new fixture can be installed. Not that I'm keeping track of the days that are racking up (7, actually), but this further delay is what you might call an inconvenience. This has been a long story to get you to last night.
FIRST. This week has been one of those weeks where I've been scheduling down to the second, not just the minute, and that wears on a body (especially in the dark). Yesterday, I was supposed to get some electrical work done on my car (anyone else notice the theme here?) about 7 minutes after I get home from picking up #1 from Kindergarten. The mechanic is about 7 minutes away from our house. The boy was getting home around the same time I did to exchange kids. But walking-out-the-door shenanigans happened, and I switched to taking his car for some minor work. And when I say "shenanigans," I really mean yelling half-baked instructions at him about dinner that was still frozen and which I fully planned on fixing myself because I'm just better at it but I had to cede some of the prep work. Like any good spouse I shut the door on these words "I'll call you with specific instructions!" 1.) This isn't the best bit of advice on how to talk to your partner--you don't always have to be in control (yes, I do...it's my kitchen). 2.) Take your dang phone if you're going to be making such promises.
Suffice it to say that I never called him.
You know how as soon as you start frantically working in the kitchen in order to put together the steak & potatoes (literally, I was jonesing for some roasted potatoes big time and we have quite a bit-o-cow in the freezer right now) vision of a supper that you have in mind, suddenly the kitchen fills up with a boy leaning on the counter trying to help and two children flopping around on the floor because "we're cats--meow, meow"? Come to my house at dinner time. It looks like this a lot.
When working in the dark, it's best to work alone. It also means that you have to be the one responsible for everything. Including the knife set in the pre-heating oven. Yes, friend. Knives in the oven. If you ever come look at my house when it's on the market, you're likely to find all manner of weirdness in the empty appliances to clear off the counters. Yesterday, I pulled that old trick out of my back pocket when I began painting part of the ceiling. HOWEVER. The success of this plan is that you later remove said items out of said appliances once the coast is clear and the paint can has been put away. I did not.
Fear not! I caught my mistake on the random chance that I needed to adjust my oven rack, so those items (more than just knives, sadly) were only roasty toasty from a few minutes of pre-heating rather than the full on broiling that I was preparing for. But this led to fun moment #2--chopping potatoes with a hot knife. Picture this visual: I'm still wearing my old, stained sweatshirt from painting, hair a disaster, mood lighting, my knife block & knives (and griddle pan and spatula and spoon rest...) spread across my counters on cooling racks, and like a genius, I realize that my inherited Christmas-themed oven mitt shall help me overcome. Those potatoes quite literally started to roast before they even hit the pan what with a hot blade coming their way.
But then there was a fire in the oven, just to make dinner extra special. I just about lost it in giggling convulsions at that point. Come the heck on. I've broiled a slab-o-beast before and never have the fat drippings caught on fire. The boy starts in on the handy "Don't throw water on it!" (which I knew, thankyouverymuch)...science teachers, psshhh. Mercifully, no steak was harmed in this fiery debacle. And the oven came threw like a champ again. Two for two, yesterday.
You know what's better than eating in the dark with children? Eating in the dark and smoke with children and windows open...in winter-esque conditions. Come on kids, we're roughing it tonight.
There are days and then there are some days. "Maybe you need some Culver's tonight...it's caramel fudge cookie dough." Sold.