the domestic life

I took the opportunity this last week to be domestic. Really, mom, you’d be so proud of me!

First off, I took up knitting. I was in Target last Friday night (you know you’re married when you’re out shopping at 10 pm on a Friday night), and I saw one of those ‘Learn to Knit’ kits. I’ve seen them before, but the pictures on the packages were always of ugly pillows or scarves, and I’ve got all the ugly pillows (2) and scarves (0) that I really need. But they had one with cat toys – little knitted fish and mice – and so I had to get it. Because, well, my cats aren’t nearly spoiled enough. So after a couple of hours trying to decipher the cryptic directions, I found a website with pictures to show me what all this knitting, purling, and invisible increasing was about. So, yeah, I’m a knitter. I’m still working on my gauge (my cats are now the proud owners of one demented knitted fish that my husband keeps calling a mouse because it doesn’t really much look like a fish) but I plan to become an accomplished afghaner. Afghanist? Afghan maker. I plan to become an accomplished afghan maker.

My second domestic task involved cooking a real, live dinner – a main dish, vegetables, bread AND dessert. I had the opportunity because all my neighbors are having babies. So when new baby mama #1 stopped by to ask if I’d make dinner for new baby mama #2, I of course said yes. You can’t say no to an exhausted new baby mama. I think there’s a special level of purgatory for that. And I really have enough levels to visit already. So, anyway, I made lasagna Wednesday night, because my husband hates lasagna, and I never get to make it anymore. I had the foresight to make 2 pans of it (I threw one in the freezer) because I’m sure new baby mama #3 will soon be in need of dinner. And, if not, well then I’ll eat it myself. Because my lasagna is amazing. And I really hope baby mama #2’s family at least kinda liked it, or else I’ll likely get thrown out of the neighborhood ladies’ circle. Or maybe they’ll all get together because they feel so bad for the newlywed who makes such terrible dinners and teach me to cook things my husband will hate anyway…

So, after the lasagna and a quick dinner of nachos with my husband, I started on my third domestic task: I went to Costco with some ladies at church. Because I had been finagled into being on some committee for some church ladies’ social. Somewhere between the 48 croissants and 6 cantaloupe, we picked up 6 brownie mixes and I volunteered to make 2 pans of brownies for the following evening’s social, after mentally taking stock of my cookware and deciding with 80% confidence that I did, indeed, have two 9×13 pans. Then we saw the picture on the side of the giant brownie box: brownies topped with a cream cheese layer, drizzled with chocolate, and it was decided that we must have THOSE brownies. Regular ghirardelli triple chocolate brownies were somehow no longer enough. So then we needed 6 pounds of cream cheese, which was easily found in 3 pound blocks. Which then, after doing some quick math, prompted me to announce that I would do 3 pans of brownies, so as to avoid having to deal with the mess of cutting off 2 pounds from one of the blocks – which is what I would need to do 2 pans. I quickly recanted when I remembered the issue of my bakeware stock, but then vaguely remembered having some 8×8 square pans, and decided the third batch could just be split ino two smaller pans. So, I volunteered to make 3 pans of ghirardelli cream cheese delight. Even though it was 8:30 on Wednesday night, and these said brownies would need to be made by 5 pm the following day. And I have this thing called a job. But there’s something that happens when ladies get together and all start volunteering to do things, like making 20 chicken breasts worth of chicken salad, that makes all the other ladies start volunteering to do silly things.

So, at 9:30 Wednesday night, I made a pan of brownies. I figured that I could only fit two pans in the oven at a time, so I’d just knock one out before bed. I’m a pro at making brownies out of a box, I figured it would just take 30 or 40 minutes. I didn’t take into account that the cream cheese layer would involve some lengthy, low-powered microwave cheese softening, and then a tricky spreading of cream cheese batter ON TOP of brownie batter. The spreading of batter on top of batter is not a quick process. Especially when one layer is most decidedly brown and the other is white. After finally getting it to be ‘good enough’, I threw it in the oven. For 45 minutes. Because special cream cheese topped brownies take longer than regular brownies. And then I read on the box directions that the brownies needed to be refrigerated after baking. Some quick time calculations brought me to the realization that making the rest of the brownies after work the following day would not allow for the requisite cool down and refrigeration period.

5:15 Thursday morning, I got out of bed and made two more batches of brownies. As annoyed as I was with the cream cheese softening and batter-on-batter spreading the previous evening, everything is more annoying at before-the-sun-rises A.M. After finally getting them in the oven, I got ready for work, then waited around for the brownies to finish. (It is possible for me to get ready for work in 45 minutes because, even though I am a woman, I am also a software engineer, and there is no pressure for me to ‘get pretty’ for work. Quite a nice perk of the job.)

4 o’clock Thursday afternoon, I worked feverishly to cut 3 batches of brownies, and get them out of the pan without breaking them. Ha! As if. Something about the two layers made it nearly impossible to get them out of the pan without separating the layers, or else completely crumbling the brownie. So I did what any self respecting woman would do: I ate the crumbled brownies, and I just set the separated layers back down on top of each other, and figured that I didn’t mind if the ladies at the social thought they had been the one to ‘break’ the brownies. After getting through two pans, I realized I didn’t have any containers to carry any more cut brownies, so I gave up. I cut the last pan, but left the brownies in it. The ladies at the social could dig out their own brownies. Then, they would truly understand my pain.

5 o’clock, I headed to the church with all my brownies. The social started at 7, but there were cantaloupe to cut and croissants to stuff with chicken salad. Oh yeah, and centerpieces to arrange. Two hours of food prep, decorating, and you’ve-been-married-two-years-but-have-no-babies interrogations from well-meaning older ladies later, the social started. Everyone loved the food, the inspirational thoughts were surprisingly inspirational, and I have to admit, I rather enjoyed myself. Plus, there were totally too many brownies. I got to take a whole pan home. As much of a pain as they were, they were delicious. I will make them in the future. Maybe tomorrow, as my husband and I seem to have devoured them all.

The domestic life has been a nice change of pace from my every-day schedule, but I’ve decided that all this domesticity is exhausting! I don’t know how women do it. I guess maybe sleep is really an optional thing? I suppose I may get a chance to find out, in a few years (sorry, mom), when I have kids and suddenly have more need to make well-balanced meals (with vegetables and all), and make costumes for school plays, and all that. Till then, I think I’ll enjoy the domestic life in small doses.

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