Monday, 26 December 2011

Lacking in Life Skills? Not Anymore...

You might recall a previous pair of posts highlighting my rather woeful lack of anything resembling a common life skill.  Sewing presented the most arduous challenge.  Finding that thing that turns off the water was achievable only after a frantic call to someone who would know such things.  And cooking?  Forget about it.

Until now.

Yes, I have at last mastered a skill I thought would forever be just beyond my reach.  I can now make soup.

I can sense the rolling eyes now.  True, it may seem like a rather simple task not involving anything that might previously have been considered skill, and for many well it may be.  However many people don’t also require a diagram depicting a leek and a turnip to assist with the identification process.  (I maintain my position that there was previously no reason whatsoever that I should know what a turnip looks like having had no occasion to encounter one in its original form.)

I quickly discovered that the worst thing you can do is ask an experienced cook how to cook something.  They immediately burst forth with all sorts of technical terms expecting me – as they would any ‘proper grown-up’ – to know what they mean.  So the first task is to idiot-proof the conversation.  “Mum, tell me as if you’re talking to someone who doesn’t know what a stock cube is for.”

Eventually, armed with my step-by-step instructions and a list of necessary ingredients it was off to the supermarket, where I felt very grown up and sensible as I perused the items in aisles I had not previously frequented.  Needless to say my trolley was much more nutritionally balanced than ever before. 

Preparation, it seems, is the key to these things, and I had it all covered – the ingredients were all laid out in the order in which I would need them, the lentils had been soaking overnight, and I had finally discovered the purpose of the food processor that had never been out of its box and it was all set up and ready to go.  (In my opinion the instructions for these sorts of things aren’t nearly detailed enough – it’s like the manufacturers assume if you’re buying one you actually know what it does.)  By Christmas Eve morning I was ready to begin.

I can’t describe the deep sense of pride and satisfaction I felt as I prepared carrots for something other than a snack for the rabbits.  I felt there was a real possibility that a domestic goddess lay dormant inside me and that I would turn out to be a rather good cook after all.  Until, that is, I tried to turn the processor on.  (Is it really too much to ask for a ‘troubleshooting’ section in the instruction manual?)

I will insist on giving myself credit on this point, however.  I only almost burst into tears, and I only hit the food processor twice before further investigation found that I had the bowl on the wrong way around.  After that small hiccup it was full steam ahead, and several hours later I had created that most elusive of all things – soup that was ‘just like Mum’s.’

So, with one life skill mastered, who’s to say I can master others?  I could be a proper grown up yet.

Now wouldn’t that be scary?

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Mission: Christmas

Mission: Christmas.  That was the title of the to-do list I wrote down today.  It’s my list of everything that needs done not just before Christmas itself but before I can even think about putting up my Christmas tree, and the list is long.  Whoever said it’s the most wonderful time of the year had clearly never been Christmas shopping.

Worryingly, the list looks rather like the list I had before going to Florida.  Clean out the cupboards.  Organise the DVD collection.  Check all rooms for signs of impending crisis.  How is it that after spending weeks reorganising the house in September I need to do it all over again in December?  Then there’s the rest of the Christmas shopping, the wrapping, the visits to various family members to drop off presents, the card writing, the food shopping…am I really the only person tempted to hide under a duvet until it all goes away?

What’s really scary is that I am considered by some to be a fairly organised person, though this tends to be based more on my having a to-do list than my ability to actually complete it.  I would love to live up to the image – I have some very grand ideas of sitting at home in front of the fire, sipping a glass of wine and enjoying the festive atmosphere in a perfectly decorated house.  Instead I am side stepping pockets of chaos all over the house, surrounded by shopping bags full of unwrapped presents and scraps of paper with half-written reminders about who knows what, ducking my head guiltily every time I see another neighbour putting up their Christmas lights.

I am not, however, one of those Bah Humbug types.  The madness of the festive shopping experience and cynical commercialism aside, I actually like Christmas.  I have the Santa hat to prove it.  So like Santa I’ve made a list and checked it twice (ha, see what I did there?) and I’m going into these next two weeks with a can-do attitude.  Or at least a hope-to attitude.  Or at the very least a must-do attitude. 

I think I’ll have a lie down first.