Before I describe our failures, let me explain that ever since Hampton Beach Summer Project 2007, we use the word "failure" not in a demeaning manor, not a beat-yourself-up-about-it-way, but just an accurate laugh-at-yourself-way of realizing something didn't go as planned. This lingo (that morphed on that summer project) is a pretty common phrase around here. Karl and his good friend Andy sometimes stack on the "failures"... "That was like 15 failures at once!", they'll laugh. And sometimes they tack on a "bee-sting" at the end..."20 failures and a bee-sting!" Now, I don't remember what a "bee-sting" is or how you measure when one has occurred, but I think it's a pretty significant blunder. So maybe a better title for my post would be "Holiday Bee-Stings." :)
First failure = our gifts to others. We decided to be creative and thrifty this year by ordering trees from the Arbor Foundation. We ordered them for everyone--both sides of the family, friends, and ourselves. With our order, we received 10 free evergreens that measured one-foot in height--a perfect little token gift for those extended family members, friends, etc. "How cute to tie up a little Christmas tree with a red bow and a candy cane!", I thought.
More than a month passed, and we had not received our shipment of trees. Even though we were a little nervous about them getting here on time, we thought it more convenient because we planned to move one car out of the garage to make room to store them until Christmas. After all, we ordered TWENTY trees, and half of them were to be 4-feet-tall.
About one-week before Christmas, a package was left on our doorstep--it was about 4 inches wide, and was a long pyramid shape. Karl asked, "Did you order something for me that is this shape?" "No", I said with a puzzled look and then joked, "Maybe it's a tree!" He looked at the return address, "It IS!", he said. As we started cutting the tape we pondered things like: "Why would they mail just one at a time?", "Why aren't the rest with it?", "They must've bundled the branches up to make it fit in this box.", "This is gonna be awful--we should've just bought normal presents." Then, we opened the box....
It was 10 trees. Not one, 10. All the leaves and branches had been stripped, and our long skinny box contained 10 4-foot sticks with a clump of roots at the bottom. Not quite what we had imagined to give to our family! We had pictured tall, bushy saplings wrapped in a little berlap/dirt bundle. So we scrambled to find/make some presents to WRAP for our family before presenting them with their sticks. And the evergreens didn't arrive until after Christmas.
For our neighbors and such, I made candy. (Oh, this is failure #2). I ran out of chocolate chips to melt, so I pulled out a bar of unsweetened baker's chocolate from the pantry. I knew that this would be no substitute, but thought I could "doctor it up" a bit. I added powdered sugar and milk because I did this for an icing that I make. No matter how much sugar I added, it never seemed to be the slightest bit sweet. The chocolate kept growing as I added more things, and now I had enough to coat 2 bags of pretzels and much more. By this time, it was dinner, everyone else was sitting at the table, and I was still needing to cover more things in the remaining pot of chocolate. So I dipped graham crackers, and some smore cups into it as well. But unfortunately, it never seemed to harden. Gooey chocolate covered pretzels = not good. HOURS after sitting on the wax paper, it seemed to turn a corner. We decided to dig in, only to discover that while the chocolate was firm, the pretzels and graham crackers had soaked it all up and were now soggy. Gross. All 4 batches of goodies went in the trash = a 4 batch failure. :)
Oh well. A few days later, we delivered the second-try treats to our neighbors, and I made hot sauce (salsa) for our extended family and friends.