Monday, March 17, 2008

Kiss Me, I'm... TIRED!

Happy St. Patrick's Day and a good Monday morning!  Where to start?!?  I fully intended to do an update on my cookie baking extravaganza this weekend, but after 15 hours of baking and decorating (no joking), I'm way too tired to give the explanation I initially planned.  Have I mentioned I am no Martha Stewart?  I can't possibly go into all the detail of my already ill-conceived plan going awry, so let my just make a few key points before moving on to today's exciting entry.

  • Hosting is hard.  Cassie coordinated the first bake-off, so frankly I was CLUELESS about exactly how much work and planning went in to making it happen.
  • 99.9% of the time things do not come out the way they are pictured in the cookbook or in this case the Cookie Box recipe card.  I attempted making leprechaun hats from cupcakes, an oatmeal cookie, green icing, tootsie rolls, and yellow decorating pens.  DISASTER!   I ended up throwing the whole lot of them away.  Even if I could have "engineered" them to work, I cannot help but think they would have tasted awful.
  • Pay attention.  I got all the way through the sugar cookie recipe - which interestingly enough called for cream cheese and sour cream (in addition to a number of other things) - and realized I forgot to add the sour cream.  The dough was already in the refrigerator for its requisite two hours.  I pulled it out of the refrigerator, unwrapped it, put it back in the mixer, and added the sour cream.  It was about 7:00 a.m. when that happened.  That, in retrospect, was foreshadowing.
Is this all sounding negative?....
Here's the good news...
  • I just finished putting the final touches on 10 little packages for teachers, friends, and the postman.  I feel great.  This morning I will brighten the day of a number of unsuspecting people and that is a good feeling.  It will immediately wipe away any questions about whether it was worth the time and energy.
  • We had fun.  Cassie; Nan, my neighbor; and I had great conversation while decorating the cookies - shaped as pots of gold, horseshoes, four leaf clovers, and leprechauns (we had beer mugs too, but time and stamina ran out).
  • I learned something new.  Baking a sugar cookie, yes.  I had done that.  But outlining and "flooding" cookies....  This is a world I knew nothing about.
Do I recommend the experience?  I am not going to pretend it was easy.  I am NOT Martha Stewart, so it took a lot of energy on my part.  If you are like me, it is the kind of experience that you enter into with caution and a lot of extra time.  But, yes... I recommend it. 
Now onto something that is a Beeny Family tradition and more my speed.  Shamrock Shakes!!!
Brief history... When I was a kid, I went to St. Aloysius.  We wore green uniforms and so St. Patrick's Day always felt a little special - at least in my house.  We are not Irish, but my mother has the wonderful ability to make even the smallest things seem like an occasion. Every St. Patrick's day my mother would give me $1.50, so that after school my best friend and I could walk to our local McDonald's and buy green shakes.  This quickly became a tradition. I didn't realize that Shamrock Shakes were a regional, New York-thing.  I couldn't get them when I went away to college and so I kind of forgot about them until I met my now-husband and stepson.  Kids have a funny way of pushing us to remember all the best parts of being a kid.  At the time I was living in Dallas and I called around to 10-12 McDonald's searching for a franchise that sold green shakes.  Not one did I find.

So, we went to work creating our own family tradition.  Each year on St. Patrick's night we make our own Shamrock Shakes. It's my kind of simple... milk, ice cream (mint chip if you feel inclined), green dye, and the kicker... McDonald's straws.  McDonald's straws are a MUST!!!
On this you may not compromise.  Fact.  Shakes taste better out of a McDonald's straw.  They are bigger than any straw you buy in a store and Wendy's straws don't come close either.  Oh, and the other essential - at least in our house - the kids draw straws to see who gets to add the green dye.  They get a kick out of seeing how green they can get the shake.
That's it.  Green shakes on St. Patrick's Day and my kids think they have died and gone to heaven.  It's not too late to try.  One stop at the supermarket...  a quick drive through McDonald's... and you'll have everything you need.
Signing off until tomorrow when we celebrate the second of six GREEN ideas - in honor of St. Patrick's week. Cheers.

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