Yesterday there was a snow day because ridiculousness (the snow was so beautiful - when I woke up [after going back to bed and sleeping in!!] giant flakes were still falling - but then it got too warm in the afternoon and it all MELTED. Also, the roads were not really impeded. The city is ludicrous). I had mentally set myself a to-do list for the day Just In Case. It included:
(1) Add another coat of paint to the cabinet I just hung in the laundry room. (I'm redoing my laundry room. But I'm not showing you pictures. Thbbbppt.)
(2) Hang the doors on the cabinet after the new paint dries.
(3) Put the hardware on the cabinet doors.
(4) Put away the laundry I folded the day before.
(5) Make a big batch of pasta using the pork I roasted the night before.
(6) Wash all the "big dishes" and load the "small dishes" into the washer.
(7) Fill the steam cleaner I borrowed up again and go over my car upholstery one more time.
(8) Print the sheet music for the Christmas carols for which our friends (host of the upcoming huge awesome Advent party) don't have sheet music yet. (I also made the carol books. They're fantabulous.)
(9) Get the Christmas wreaths and candles up in the front windows, and the wreath on the porch. (Note: the peacock feathers appear to be shipping at ground speed from Shanghai. I guess I'll have them on next year's door wreath. It looks fine with just the pine cones.)
(10) Decorate the banister, hang icicle lights on the sun porch, and put mini trees in the bedrooms. And start putting out little spots of Christmas stuff in other rooms.
(11) Do something relaxing.
(12) Eat only a moderate amount of the homemade dark chocolate ice cream I just finished.
I did everything on my list. I know, right? I don't think that's ever happened to me before. Of course, I later realized that there were other things that should have been on my list and weren't, but I can't count that because then it would not be humanly possible to finish any list of any kind ever. ("And I should have prayed ten Rosaries...and...")
It turns out that the secret to continuing productivity is to get the big jobs done as early in the day as possible so that the end of the day is saved for the relaxing; and, when the momentum starts to fade, have some chocolate ice cream and immediately throw yourself into the next task. That last part is very important. It's why a diet and a happy life are incompatible. (I'm still working the bugs out of that theory.)
Of course, there's still some more Christmas decorating I need to do. (I shoved a small stack of colored lights and a pile of pine-colored tinsel and two giant strands of silver tinsel into a pile while I meditated on what to do with them. I have, indeed, now come up with something. MORE SPARKLES.)
For my "do something relaxing," I waited until my husband was working elsewhere than the living room, took over the TV, and started on a marathon of Martha Stewart's Christmas series on hulu. That woman is out of her mind, you know? Her empire-building is amazing to me. And her incredible business focus. And her ability to take total, crippling OCD and market the daylights out of it. Also, her total and absolute incompatibility with any guest she invites on. Whatever the opposite of making people feel at their ease is - she has that. It's hilarious to watch. Also - obviously - her cooking and decorating skills are legendary. Her house is stunning. Her Christmas celebration is over-the-top.
It's actually a great antidote to looking at a lot of decorated homes on the internet, for me, because whatever I see Martha do, I automatically think to myself: "You don't need to do that." I was feeling a smidge guilty about buying fake-pine wreaths and embellishing them so I wouldn't have to pay for pine garland, or make it into a wreath (which is a pain - I have done it, though definitely not to Martha's standard), or redo the work every year. Then I saw Martha make wreaths out of arbor vitae, and ribbon poinsettias. She openly admitted it would take hours. (For her, and she's got some DIY chops.) And I felt fine. I don't need to make fresh wreaths. I'll have a live tree; that's fine.
Then today I got an email from Home Depot (I keep thinking that I'll win one of these amazing giveaways on teh internets and signing up for newsletters because they'll have some mysteriously great idea, and they never do) and it included a spinach dip recipe from Martha herself (allegedly). Which is semi-amusing coming from HD, but, hey, they sell ovens and stuff. Anyway - I felt bad for Martha. She has multiple ludicrously gorgeous homes, each four times the size of my humble cottage, and a staff to keep them looking smashing, and her own line of paint colors (tell me that would not be fun), but I can tell that my spinach dip is much better than hers. And I came up with it all by myself (with obvious inspirations; I'm not that original) and it's easier to make. Ready? You will need:
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach
8 oz. cream cheese (Neufchatel is fine)
4-6 oz. shredded cheese (Monterey Jack, Swiss, sharp cheddar - something you like that melts well)
1 medium-large white onion
4 oz. imitation crab or salad shrimp (cooked, de-veined, and shelled)
Thaw and warm up your spinach. Oh, and thaw your imitation crab or salad shrimp, too, if it's frozen. While your microwave is doing all the hard work, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then chop your onion into small dice. Cut up your shrimp or crab into small pieces, too, if it's not already. Mash the shrimp, onion, cream cheese, and spinach together with a fork in an oven-safe dish (I use a pie plate). You can add some Old Bay or another favorite seasoning, too, if you like. Smooth out the top when everything is combined, and sprinkle a good layer of cheese on top. Pop in the oven for about half an hour, or until the cheese is golden. Serve with bread rounds or sturdy crackers.
Hope you're all having a wonderful Advent!!