Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Reluctant Caterer

So I was planning on catering this Christmas Social thing this friday for the women's group at our church. The problem was that they wanted all this food, but barely had any budget to speak of. And while I'm all for helping, I think I should at least make a little money for my troubles. Then, their ticket sales weren't going too well. Horribly I was told. "How horribly?", I had to ask. Five. "You've only sold five tickets?" Yes, five. "Wow, so did you set a minimum amount that if you don't reach, you'll just cancel the event?" Oh, never thought of that. The centerpieces are all ready done, what would I do with them if we cancelled? Unbelievable. And this was just before Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving ticket sales were up to 30, but still, when past year's ticket sales were between 80 and 120, 30 is very dissapointing. So in my mind the whole was going to be cancelled, and I was actually relieved. This was as of yesterday around 1pm. Then a mass e-mailing went out telling people they needed to buy their tickets now. Later that day I get a call that ticket sales are now just over 50, and the party is still on. Oh, o-kay. The menu got shaved down to keep their costs down, and I was told to plan for 60 just in case. Then I was asked if she could call me Thursday with the final numbers. Thursday? You mean the day before the event? No, I'm sorry. I have lunch for 15 on Thursday, the social Friday night, then a dinner on Saturday. And since I typically require five business days notice on final head count, I didn't even feel bad saying no. So last night and today has consisted of planning, shopping, and prepping. And of course there is still more to do. Haven't even started on lunch for tomorrow. Speaking of, I'd better stop procrastinating, and hit one more store before I have to go pick up Sophia from school. I really wish the whole thing had just gotten cancelled.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Photographic Success!

Yesterday morning I got Sophia to school, then headed off to Kiddie Kandids just as planned. I was even first in line for photographs. I was feeling so smug when I saw two other moms line up behind me to get their names down for pictures. Harrison was pretty good. I did have to bribe him with gum, but hey, whatever works. Annamaria was less accomodating, but she's just a baby. And she still has a stuffy nose, so really I don't blame her.

So here are pictures of my gorgeous children. O-kay, so Sophia has a scratch on her chin and when she's older we'll definetly be waxing those eye brows, and Annamaria's ears stick out a bit, but I think they're gorgeous just the same.

Now you'll just have to wait for the group shot in your Christmas cards. And yes Jessica, I'll even send one to Okinawa if I get a mailing address from you.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

An Uneventful Thanksgiving

We've had a nice relaxing Thanksgiving, but it really didn't feel like "Thanksgiving". Dinner was at my grandma's, as usual. And my mom and grandma took care of everything. I asked if there was anything I could make/bring, and was told "no". Dinner wasn't until 5pm, but we were told to come early to visit. So I planned on arriving around 3pm. I figured that gave us a couple hours to visit and play with the kids, and have a couple drinks. A holiday must. But it was such a lazy day, and I didn't have anything to do. I fell asleep, and no one (meaning Vince) woke me up until 3pm. So by the time I got my lazy butt dressed and presentable, got the kids ready and out the door, we didn't make it to Grandma's until 4:30! I felt so bad. It just seemed like another trip to grandma's for any old dinner. Except for all the food. But come to think of it, my grandma pretty much cooks that way whenever she has people over for dinner anyway. That must be who I get it from. Dinner was yummy, though I managed to skip dessert. Pumpkin and pecan pie are not my favorites, so no hardship there. We wanted to get the kids to bed not too late, so we left by 7:30pm. It just doesn't feel like a holiday to me unless the whole day is spent with family. It was a nice three hours though. I was so groggy from my nap that my "drink" consisted of a Coke. I felt a little caffeine was necessary.

Bright and early the next morning I got the kids dressed in their outfits we bought them for Christmas to go get their pictures taken. Now being the time of year it is, I planned on getting to the store when it opened. I was very excited about this because for some reason it never occured to me to do this until I had three kids. So Annamaria has a little red dress with black ribbon. Sophia has a matching skirt and black sweater, and Harrison has black trousers and a red button down shirt. They look so cute I can barely stand it. They could almost be a music group from the seventies, their outfits are the same but different. So we get the kids loaded into the car. Now up to this point, this is all a repeat of Wednesday, but we only made it as far as the driveway on Wednesday because Harrison broke the car door getting into the minivan. Now when I say "broke", I mean he stuck his finger in the door where it latches and pushed the lever down. For some reason it jammed and the door wouldn't close because it just kept hitting the latch and the door would re-open. And since I couldn't very well drive down 78 with the minivan door open, I had to call it quits, get everyone back in the house, back into regular clothes and give up my idea of the perfect holiday picture. I was so mad I could barely stand it. Vince came home early and fixed the door, but by the time I was ready to give it all another shot, I called the store and the wait was 2 1/2 hours. And no, they don't take reservations over the phone, you have to sign up in person. Well, I didn't want the kids running around in their Christmas clothes for 2 1/2 hours, they wouldn't be wearable by Christmas if they did. So everything got postposed until Friday. We get to Kiddie Kandids before the doors are even unlocked, and we're still the third in line for photos. So after a 45 minute wait, it's finally our turn. Now I don't expect great smiles from Annamaria being only six months old, but Sophia and Harrison have been through the photographer routine before. I'm telling you, getting a half-way decent photo of the three of them was stress inducing. I was breaking out in a sweat. But we got one where both Sophia and Harrison look good, and Annamaria doesn't look too bad, so I was satisfied. Next we got a killer picture of just Sophia, and that took about 30 seconds. Next was Harrison. Well, forget about it. He was done. Not even a bribe with candy was going to get that boy to cooperate. So we thought we'd skip him for the time being, and go for a photo of the baby. Forget about that too. It was so past her nap time, she wasn't going to smile even for mommy. So we thought we'd take a break, let the next people go, and get worked back in. After waiting for another 45 minutes to get worked back in, and the kids getting crabbier and crabbier, I just decided I'd bring just Harrison and Annamaria back Monday morning after taking Sophia to school. I'm telling you, I'm not looking forward to Monday morning.

So after our photo drama, Vince decided I needed a break and thought he'd take me to the movies to see the new Harry Potter movie. My mom and grandma left for Vegas that morning, so we tried our regular baby sitter. She was celebrating her birthday, so we tried our friend's daughter, Kristin, who just started baby sitting. She's only in the sixth grade, but she's really good with the kids. We weren't sure if we should just bring Annamaria along with us, but she said she could handle all three, so we left her our cell number and jetted out the door. Now the movie was great. I'd like to see it again actually, can't wait for it to come out on DVD. It's been so long since I read the book, I actually forgot some of the story line and ended up being suprised by parts of the movie. Can't wait for the next one, I think I'm a Harry Potter junkie. When we pulled back into the driveway, we noticed a familiar car parked in front of our house, and we walked in the front door to find the baby sitter's dad sitting with Annamaria in the glider. Poor Kristin. Annamaria decided to give her a hard time, and she ended up calling her parents for help. Annamaria is just starting to go through that separation phase and I think she just wanted her mommy and daddy. We paid her well though, so hopefully that helped make up for any trauma our children inflicted on her.

So here is a picture of Annamaria looking just as innocent as can be. Can you believe this sweet child can push a babysitter to her end?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

And The Mother of the Year Award Goes To . . .

Well, basically anyone but me.

There seems to be a right of passage for the Booth children of this household. And I'm sorry to report that it's not a pleasant one. And I'm even more sorry to report that last Sunday Annamaria experienced this right of passage. What is it you may ask, that all my children must endure? Besides an inept mother that is. Rolling off the bed. Yes, just before leaving for Mass last Sunday, Annamaria rolled off our bed. I was in the bathroom getting ready to leave, I heard a whack, then a thump, then the crying followed. I dashed in the room to find Little Baby Big Head on the floor. She was o-kay, just really upset, understandably. She isn't crawling yet, though she does get around by rolling, but she was smack in the middle of our bed and up against the headboard, so I'm still not sure how she managed it. I remember the first time Sophia rolled off our bed. Yes, the first time. She was only two weeks old. But she didn't land on the floor, she landed in an upper drawer. We have a captain's bed with two rows of drawers on either side. Not to say a drawer was any less pleasant to fall in. Of course the second time she rolled off our bed she landed on the floor. Then there was the time she flipped off her changing table. Anyone out there calling Child Protective Services yet? At least our bedroom floors are carpeted. And when Harrison rolled off our bed I was lying right there beside him. Even tried to grab him, but he was too fast. So after three children and multiple incidents, you'd think I'd learn.

And now she has a cold. Poor baby, stuffy nose and slight fever. She's become a mouth breather, so sleeping through the night has taken a hiatus. Hopefully full nights of sleep will resume shortly. For Vince that is, I've been sleeping through most of all the mid-night fussiness. She's still happy though, we're still getting lots of smiles. And while baking foccacia yesterday I discovered she likes to chew on rosemary stems. Don't worry, I watched her closely. There was no choking, only smiles.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Birthday Update

Harrison's 3rd birthday celebration was a success. We gave him a train set, Granny M gave him a Spiderman watch, and Grandma DeeDee came through with a hot red motorcycle tricycle. A whole lotta fun! As you can see our kitchen is still under contruction.

Poor Sophia could barely contain herself. All she wanted to do was get down on the floor and play with Harrison and his trains, but we were trying to let him have a little time to himself. Next month is her turn though, so her time is coming.

Dinner was yummy, and as usual I ate way too much. I think we all did. We started off with Crab Imperial and fresh baked ciabatta. We had a romaine salad with hearts of palm and homemade blue cheese dressing. Then we had pasta with clam sauce. Harrison loves pasta, and ate very well. By the time is was cake time I was so full I could barely stand it. I must say I was dissapointed in the cake though. It looked alright, but something was off. The recipe came from my Cook's Illustrated Baking Illustrated book, so I'm really suprised that it dissapointed. Their recipes are usually so good. Maybe it was something I did wrong, but I can't think what. But it couldn't have been too bad because Grandma DeeDee had two pieces, something she never does.

And in all the birthday excitment I forgot to mention that Annamaria had her six month check-up on Thursday. The stats are in. Little baby big head weighs in at 11 lb., 12 oz. Her length is 24", and I didn't get her head circumference. I've been a little concerned about her being so tiny, so this morning I looked up Sophia's stats when she was Annamaria's age, and she was even smaller! I really have a hard time believing that, but there it was. I guess I can stop worrying now.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Happy Birthday "Onny the Boy"!

Why "Onny the Boy"? Because if you ask Harrison what his name is, that's his reply. "Onny the Boy". The letter "S" has yet to make it into his speech process. So "Sonny", his nickname which is better than Harry, becomes "Onny". And he insists that he's a "boy". Not my love, not my Boo, but a boy. Glad he's got that figured out.

So today I am the mother of a seven year old, a three year old, and a six month old. Harrison turns three today. Happy birthday Boo! And while not much is going on here, I hope he has a very happy birthday. Sophia is at school, Annamaria is taking a nap, and the birthday boy is watching Little Einsteins and playing JayJay the Jet Plane on the other computer. His cake is cooling and awaiting frosting. He has requested a Spider Man Cake, so I'm going to have to get creative with the decorations. I'm feeling very unprepared, not quite sure how I'm going to pull this off, I'm not very artistic. This may require a trip to Toys R Us for some Spiderman figures I can just stick on the top of his cake. And no, I don't consider that a cop out. I baked from scratch this morning a three layer Devil's Food cake, and will be making a homemade coconut buttercream to frost it with. And besides, if I stick a couple action figures on the top, that just gives him the bonus of new toys when we're done with them.

Grandma Dee Dee and Granny M are coming over for dinner to celebrate his turning three. So it will be a small gathering of just family, but I did promise I'd take him to the park today, so I'm sure he'll have fun.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I'm a Survivor

Yes, I did survive my hectic week. Thank you for asking. And all went very well. The only mishap occured toward the end of my last job. For some reason I thought I had extra brownies. Now considering that I had baked a batch of pumpkin shortbread, a batch of turtle bars, a batch of mini pecan pies, a batch of key lime tartlets, a batch of lemon bars, and three batches of cheesecake-brownies, one would think that maybe, just maybe there would be extra for the cook to nibble on. Or so I thought. So I took a bite of brownie and then offered Vince a bite to get his opinion. And while the taste of chocolate was still lingering in my mouth, I started adding up my total count of desserts. It was then I realized I had made a terrible mistake. There were no extra brownies. I had just shorted myself one brownie to complete my order. Suddenly it didn't taste so good anymore. And there it sat, a piece of brownie with two bites taken out of it. And no way to make it whole again. Now I know one brownie doesn't sound like a big deal, but this was a drop off order for the client to serve the next day, so I wasn't bringing separated trays. I was wrapping everything tight and as solid as I could so nothing would dry out. So she received two solid squares of 16 pieces of brownies, and one square minus one piece of what should have been 16 pieces. It was so obvious. I had to confess, and I was so embarrassed. Luckily she laughed about it. Whew! Out of the hundred and something pieces of dessert I brought her, she didn't think anyone would miss one piece. I'm glad she was so understanding. I really felt stupid. And I was going to bake another whole batch just to get one more brownie, but I was out of eggs. I went through at least five dozen eggs in the past four days, and I wasn't about to go out and buy more just to replace one brownie. Lesson learned. Always do the math before you nibble.

Sunday we had our Small Church group meeting at our house. It was our turn in the rotation, so just when I thought I was going to be done, I found myself making dinner for eight adults and nine kids. And get the house cleaned up enough for company. Luckily Vince helped out in that department. I just got a new cookbook so I tried out a new recipe on them. Country Captain Chicken. Strange name for a chicken curry dish. But it was really good, so good I made it for 20 people for my lunch job today. But back to Small Church, I was going to make them dessert too, but I forgot I was out of eggs, and didn't buy more while at the store. And once again, I wasn't going to run out to buy more. It can wait. They went without, and no one complained. I'd dare them to anyway.

So this week just two catering jobs, each for 20. And considering one is already done, I'm feeling pretty good. Oh, did I mention I got sick last week too? Severe body aches for a couple days. I didn't know I was coming down with something. I really was starting to think there was something medically wrong with me. Like bone cancer or something. Then Friday I was up with a sore throat and tonsils so big they were about to meet in the middle of my throat. After delivering dinner on Friday I came home and crashed on the couch with a fever. Luckily the fever only lasted the one night, the sore throat hung around till yesterday. But I'm feeling much better now. I think it was the stress that ran me down. So tomorrow just bible study in the morning, then prepping for Thursday's lunch. And I must be going through baking withdrawls because I think I'll make some scones to bring along with me tomorrow morning.

So it occured to me that maybe it would be nice to get some pictures of the kids posted. Enough crabbing about my life. So here's Annamaria from Halloween. She finally woke up after all the festivities ended and her siblings were fast asleep. Here she is in her chicken outfit, complete with webbed feet.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

When It Rains, It Pours

I have five catering jobs this week. Five! And while I'm working through it all pretty well considering, last week just thinking about it all was really stressing me out.

Monday was a day of shopping. Three stores, and Sophia got out of school at 12:30 pm for parent-teacher conferences. I actually managed to get dinner on the table too. Would have been nice if Harrison woke up from his nap, and Vince got home from work in time to eat with me and Sophia. Oh well.

Tuesday, today, was drop-off lunch for 15. And I'd say it went pretty well, except I left my two "to go" orders on the counter, and didn't realize it until I was at the job site. Well, at least I had something to offer Sophia for lunch that she got excited about. And again, Sophia got out of school at 12:30 pm. Damn those parent-teacher conferences.

Wednesday will be another day of shopping and prepping. After my Wednesday morning bible study ends. And for the last time, Sophia gets out of school at 12:30 pm. But I have to be back at St. Mary's for my parent-teacher conference by 5:30. Another full day.

Thursday is drop-off lunch for 20, and on-site dinner for 11. The lunch is no problem. As long as I don't forget anything again. The dinner I have to be at the clients home around 6pm with everything prepped for their four-course dinner. Once there I have to finish cooking, plate, serve then clean-up. Hope it's not too late of an evening. And the client wants the first course served in the living room. Pan seared scallops with beurre blanc. While it doesn't require a knife to eat, a fork is a definite must. I just don't see it as "sitting on the couch while eating" kind of food. But hey, I'm just the hired help.

Friday is drop-off dinner. But there is no school at all that day, being Veteran's Day. So not only will I have Harrison and Annamaria, but Sophia and my friend's kids, Kristen and Joseph. My friend is back in Pennsylvania for two weeks, helping take care of her mother who just had cancer surgery. So to help her out I agreed to let her kids hang out at my house for the day since they didn't have to go to school. No big deal, but then things got kind of tricky when she asked if I could help her kids make a birthday cake for their dad that day too since his birthday is Saturday. Of course, but then I remembered I had dinner to prepare and drop-off too. I didn't have the heart to tell her or her kids no about the cake. I'm sure we'll get it all done.

Saturday I have drop-off desserts for 50 people. So I'm looking at about 200 pieces of various cookies, bars, and tartlets. Looks like I know what I'll be doing all day Saturday.

So needless to say, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. Guess I'd better get off my butt and start working on my scheduling for the next couple of days. And I just noticed it's gotten rather dark outside, and it's just past 3pm. Looks like rain.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way Home From Mass The Other Day

I went to mass all by myself last Monday night. Being All Saint's Day, a Holy day of obligation, Vince attended mass with Sophia at her school that morning. So as I'm leaving the pew, an older man we know calls me over. He is standing next to a woman, probably in her forties, and he is very excited to introduce us. She looked a little embarrassed, but I greeting her with a smile on my face and shook her hand, did the whole "nice to meet you" thing. Turns out she is his daughter, visiting from out of town. He wanted us to meet because, as he informs me, "When I die I want you to cater my funeral". O-kay. I'm actually flattered by this strange opportunity. So he goes on, "She's only here for a few days and she's going to have to arrange it all, so I wanted to be sure you two met, so that when I go, she'll know who to contact". So I ask him if he's planning on passing away in the next few days. She says with a smile on her face that he just wants to be sure he's got everything planned out. Then he asks me with a sense of urgency, "You don't have a business card on you do you?". No. "Then how will she know how to get in touch with you?" I appologize for not thinking to bring any business cards to mass with me, but assure him that all she needs to do when the time comes is contact the church office. They have my contact information and have me listed as a caterer on their reference sheet. He seemed relieved by this, and both his daughter and I found the whole thing rather amusing. It's interesting what issues become important as we age. Funny old man.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

All Souls Day

Today is All Souls Day, the day when the Church commemorates and prays for the holy souls in Purgatory undergoing purification of their sins before entering heaven. And while there are many prayers specifically for All Souls Day, I especially like the prayer of St. Gertrude the Great Though not actually an All Souls Day prayer, I think it's appropriate for the day. The Lord told St. Gertrude that a recitation of this prayer in a heartfelt manner will release 1,000 souls from Purgatory every time it is said. Pretty powerful! This prayer can be said daily, it needn't be kept for special occasions. Something nice to do for our dearly departed.

The Prayer of St. Gertrude the Great
Eternal Father, I offer you the most Precious Blood of Your Divine Son Jesus, in union with all the Masses being said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Amen.