Santa's Elves and Pizza
On reading John's weather station, the night time low was around -8F (-22C) and it was still -2 when we were getting ready to go out. Gah. He wore his Fezzik sweater, the sweater I'd made from Fezzik's puppy shedding. John was pleasantly surprised to find that with the sweater on he could go outside, get the Baby Buggy all prepped and warming up and de-iced and he was still warm. It's a very, very warm sweater and gave me far more reason to really see why Fezzik had no problems and even prefered to be outside when the nights had gotten down into the teens. The sweater is actually just one third Fezzik and two thirds brown wool, and I blended it so that John could actually wear it sometimes, otherwise it would be an even better insulator.
As it was, I was in double layers of everything and fairly comfortable for that.
We went directly to work, so that we could drop some things off, first, including John's machine and a plateful of the chocolate enrobed cake for Bob to take home. He said he'd likely eat his for lunch as it smelled so good. I was glad of that. Then at a bit before 9, John and I went to Target to meet up with Debbie and the rest of the volunteers.
So after gathering all that money, we had to spend it on toys to give to Toys For Tots. If we'd just given them the money, they wouldn't have time to spend it this year and would have to wait until next to do anything with it. We also found out that Xilinx, Boulder had raised more money than Toys for Tots had raised in the *rest* of Boulder. They'd had some problems with their collection boxes, people had actually stolen them! That is a pretty sucky thing to be doing, stealing kids' toys that wouldn't otherwise get them. Anyway, given how much we'd raised Toys for Tots asked that we give them notice when we were going to deliver the toys so that they could have the news folks there.
Anyway. We had a boatload of money to spend and between 9:10 and 10:15, the eight of us spread out with the intent to spend about $500 per person and then we'd go to Toys R Us to spend the rest. It turned out that Target gave us not only the sales tax off, but also another 10% discount, so we ended up spending everything there. The first run came back with nine loaded shopping carts and nearly $4000 left to spend, so we got a boatload of bicycles. When there was still a shortfall of $1500, we got a bunch of helmets and safety gear, a few more bikes, and a pile of books and toys. We filled three pickups and three big SUVs with giant bags of toys. It was pretty astonishing.
It was really fun running around with John and pretty much buying everything we thought was really cool. We tried to stay under a certain amount per gift so that we'd have a lot of them; but there are some really astonishingly cool things to be had for $10, like a *huge* Tonka truck that a little kid could actually ride in, most of the board games that I remember as a child, and lots of classic Lego collections. Blocks and Lincoln logs and wooden toys of all kinds were also not that expensive. We also were tasked with getting boom boxes and inexpensive Walkmans that weren't just CD based, otherwise they'd have to try and afford CD's. So we got a bunch of those as well.
One lady blinked when she saw our carts and said, "You have got to be some of Santa's elves." I had to grin at that. We all met up in the toys area to go to the checkout together and the whole train of us illicited a lot of comment from the folks in the store.
While we checked out we maxed out the item counter at the register. That was pretty impressive. We also went in relays of carts, going out with them to whatever truck was parked on the corner and filling them up with bags and bags and bags of toys. That was very hard work, too. Just bale after bale after bale of toys kept coming out and it was interesting to know that the folks would be unloading them all at work, too. That's when I had a good idea of just how much work those poor elves had to do in loading up Santa's sleigh. Oof. What was really funny was having several people scold me for lifting things because I was pregnant.
Afterwards I was exhausted and John was pretty tired, too. So the two of us just went to the mall next door and ate cheesesteak sandwiches before heading back to work. The downstairs cafeteria/lunch room was almost completely covered with toys in bags. It was a pretty awesome sight.
Work work work.
I actually got a vital thing done for my next piece and was glad of it.
We didn't go home until 6, because of John's 5 o' clock meeting and the aftermath of dealing with it all; but I really had to get to Safeway to get my yogurt fix. We got yogurt and a whole lot of other things as I had brought the envelope of coupons along with some desires. One of the things I bought was some mozarella. I'd actually taken about ten minutes, last night, to use the food processor to make a batch of pizza dough as outlined in Cook's Illustrated's article about making ultra-thin crust pizza. It was really fast and it needed to proof overnight in the refrigerator to get full flavor. So when we got home, I put the pizza stone into the oven and turned the oven on to 500 degrees, or as high as it would go, and we did a few things before tackling dinner.
The dough normally makes two 14-inch cracker-thin pizzas, but I only had 12 inch wide plastic wrap and since the dough had to be rolled out under the wrap, I split the dough into three pieces since the area relationship for such a difference in diameter would make it easy to make three 12-inch pizzas. It turned out to be the case. I rolled out three really, really thin pizza disks, lightly coated them with sauce and then lightly topped them. John cooked sausage for two of them, and I made the first one with just cheese, both mozarella and Parmesan. We used a canned Contendina pizza sauce and it was pretty good, but a little salty. The recipe had actually come with a quick pizza sauce that was just blended, canned tomatoes cooked with garlic in olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. I'll have to try that next time. The trick really was to roll the disk out on parchment paper, that the gooey dough stuck to really well, under plastic, which could be peeled off easily. After topping the disks I trimmed off the extra paper and then slid it all onto the pizza stone, using one of our rimless cookie sheets as a pizza peel.
It all worked beautifully. The crusts were super thin, the cheese melted and caramelized perfectly, and the whole thing was sizzling hot out of the oven in about seven minutes. Very impressive. So we had very hot, very good, completely under our control pizza in about an hour, which is a bit longer than delivery takes; but it was my first time making it. I think I could do it faster now that I actually know how it's supposed to roll out. I missed having Fezzik to feed some of the scraps to. I'm finding that I seem to really have a long-standing habit of taking as much food as I can eat plus the three or four bites I would normally slip to Fezzik. Oops. So I ate a little too much as the media cheerfully hyped the Supreme Court decision of the day. Ugh.
I had a small spinach salad to just balance myself a little after all the pizza and then John served small slices of the cake. It's still really good.
It was also the prefect addition to make for a good case of pregnancy heartburn. I really have to watch that better. Eating a little too much a little too late and I get miserable for a good deal of the night. Add to that sub-zero temperatures outside that caused the heater to go on and the air was so dry I started snoring voraciously. There were moments when I was snoring so hard I woke myself up fairly continuously. Given that I've been getting up three or four times a night anyway for my bladder, and I guess I'm getting something of a taste for what it'll be like when the baby's born. I guess the small bladder on a pregnant woman is nature's way of getting her used to the idea of waking up a lot at night.