“Easy Bake Oven” is a misnomer

Sunshine is six.  Topping her Christmas list this year was an “Easy Bake Oven”.

The results

The results

Here is some background:  prior to this illness keeping me tethered to my apartment, I didn’t know how to cook.  My entire cooking skills consisted of pressing buttons on the microwave.  Yes, I’m smart, yes, I’m 30.  But growing up, my feminist mother insisted that I be educated and focus on “learning how to feed my face, so that if you marry an asshole, you can leave him and still take care of your kids”.  And that is exactly what happened.  And I was able to do so.

As a child, I had no interest in baking, cooking, etc.  I never wanted an Easy Bake Oven.  I didn’t even like Barbies too much, come to think of it.  I liked science and books.

Ok, back to Sunshine.  Since I have been sick and bored and needing to keep my brain occupied, I have been baking.  And cooking.  And Sunshine has been helping.  Prompting this “Easy Bake” fiasco.

So Santa saw to it that she received it, despite the fact that it is clearly labeled for those ages “8 and up”.  And despite a lengthy conversation that I had with Santa discussing the pros and cons of spending the money on such a device, when it would be better spend on REAL baking items that she can make REAL food with (i.e. more cookie cutters, bowels, cooling rack).

At 6:30 this morning, I heard a tiny voice “Mama, can we make cookies in my Easy Bake Oven?”

Let the fun begin.  The oven comes with cookie mix, cupcake mix, frosting mix and rainbow sprinkles.  It needs to preheat for 20 minutes.  To make the “dough” it is just a teaspoon of water with the mix.  And it turns into this thick, pasty goo that mostly ends up on your hands instead of shaped into perfect little balls as pictured in the directions.  Sunshine managed to spill the first tray of cookies on the floor, so we were left with the cupcakes.

The cupcake batter was stickier than the cookie batter, but less granular, and it had the little cupcake shaped tin with it that you could smear the batter into.  After shoving the pan into the oven with the little device, it was another 10 minutes to bake, and another 5 to cool.  There is no timer on the actual oven, and Sunshine kept on leaving the procedure to play with her Barbies.

Then the frosting.  And the sprinkles.

Oh, and use copious amounts of cooking spray.  I had to chisel the cupcakes out of the tin with a butter knife.

Oh and red velvet batter now covers the inside and outside of the oven.

But they were edible, Sunshine was pleased, and even though it was mainly me doing all the “baking”, she had a ball.

Now to shell out more money to make more cookies and cupcakes…

Christmas at 30.

I guess, technically it’s my 31st Christmas.  But who’s counting?

It is amazing how, through the years, your perspective on this time of the year changes.

As a child, if you are Christian and in America, it’s about magic elves and toys and candy and having off from school.  If you are Catholic, you have the real “reason for the season” drilled in to your head along with a healthy dose of guilt that you got presents for Baby Jesus’ birthday and all he got 33 years later was crucified.

As a teenager, its about having nearly two weeks off from school, being dragged around to see your relatives who ask you nosy questions like “why don’t you have a boyfriend yet?” and hopefully spending your free time with your friends.

As a nurse, you are usually working.

I always thought at this age I would have the house, the dog, the 2.5 kids, two full time incomes.  I thought that my husband and I (and at 22 I thought my husband would be Sunshine’s dad) would be providing all the presents and maybe one day hosting my extended family for the holiday.  And all of this would be taking place in Pittsburgh.

Wrong.  Texas.  Cat.  One full time child, one 3 months out of the year.  Apartment that wouldn’t fit my family.  And he’s not Sunshine’s dad (but he is a much much better alternative).

My mom always says “you want to make God laugh?  Tell him your plans.”  And she is so right.

Given that I have been on medical leave for half of the year, Christmas was very lean around here.  My parents were incredible and took care of Sunshine.  She received everything she wanted, mostly (Santa drew the line at a cotton candy maker).  My husband and I found out two days before Christmas that we would have it in the budget to buy small gifts for each other.  But it wasn’t the usual spend-a-thon that it had been in the past.

This year I had two requests, keeping in mind that my parents had helped us stay afloat most of the year, and that my husband could not afford either of my requests.  If possible, I wanted a new Kindle (with all the bells and whistles), and my wedding pictures freed from photographer purgatory.

As I got sick right before my wedding, the money budgeted to paying for the pictures the photographer took at the ceremony evaporated rather quickly.  And we haven’t had the means to get back on our feet to get them.

My parents came through on both accounts.

I will be making the arrangements soon to meet with the photographer to pick the shots we want printed.  Looking at those pictures is sort of bittersweet.  I was diagnosed the week of my wedding with this autoimmune disorder.  I was 40lbs lighter.  I was practically glowing in a custom purple ombre wedding dress.  I felt like a goddess.  And I walked with my daughter to a stone chapel on a hill and married my best friend.

I hope to return to how I looked on that day.  As much as I know that he loves me for me, it still nags at me.  I know I didn’t do this on purpose, I didn’t wake up one morning and decide to eat everything in sight.  Being on massive amounts of steroids for months at a time contributed greatly.  But I want to be so beautiful for him.  I want to be the me that is in those pictures.

One of my unexpected gifts will go a long way to at least making me feel beautiful.  We do a secret Santa in our family.  And my cousin’s wife picked the exact gift I need right now.  A luxurious bath set in “warm vanilla sugar” scent.

Now, I still try to take great care of my skin.  But with methotrexate and steroids and erratic diet, my skin is dried out, it easily scratches and just looks awful.  I don’t remember the last time I actually splurged on good bath stuff that I couldn’t get at the local grocery store.

So getting a box full of bubble bath, sugar scrub and body butter was so welcomed.

I spend 3-4 days a week either in bed or on the couch.  Sometimes my husband has to help me in and out of the shower.  My appearance has gone downhill a bit.  I was one who never had “naked toes”, meaning, I always painted my toenails.  But I have even let that go.

Today, I spent an hour taking care of myself.  I relaxed in the tub, sugared, painted my toenails, and slathered on lotion.  I feel good, my skin feels like velvet and I smell good.  And I know that it shows.

Christmas at 30 was not what I expected.  I never expected to get a handheld device that can do everything.  Or to get pictures of me marrying someone I had a crush on since I was 15.  And I never expected that one of my most cherished gifts of the year would be something as simple as bubble bath.

It’s the little things…