Because nothin’ says The Holidays
like serial procrastination

December 17, 2009 · 14 comments

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I need to see a therapist, if for no other reason (and really, what other reason could there be?) than to find out why I am a classic procrastinator. I know — I’ve heard schpeels on NPR about how it’s all based on how self-centered a person you are. The more you procrastinate, the more you gaze at your navel. It’s all about me, right?

Right?

Did I just hear the collective deafening silence of The Internets?

So, yeah, I procrastinate. To make it a double-whammy come December, at the same time — I believe I’ve mentioned before — I’m on the thrifty side. These two personality traits combine a few times a year, and when they do, it’s not unlike baking soda and vinegar. An explosion of anxiety occurs, and I bring down into my miry pit four (or more) innocent victims, making them wonder whatever happened to all the good cheer that’s supposed to be happening right now. It always starts with good intentions, and a crystal-clear moment when I think, “Hey – I can make that!”  And I get excited, and commence with the daydreaming about me and my two older children making holiday memories by working together, peacefully, laughingly, as tiny little hands help Mommy with The Project. So then, my kindergartener will go into school and hand her teachers their gifts, and will say, “Yes, I helped my Mommy make it.” And the teachers will ooh and aah, and lift me onto their shoulders, carry me down the hallway of the school, and before a ceremony of lavish proportions, crown me School Mom of the Year.

Wait — did I just write that?

I mean, yes, of course. We all want people to like the gifts we give. But this whole homemade thing — it’s really about an obsession with not spending money on things I can make (by the way — if I EVER on this website type the phrase, “I’m thinking about recovering a piece of furniture,” then please, for the love of sanity, call the IPD and warn them of a potential incident that could effect the public good. Tell them to put out an APB for a crazed woman running down the streets of Broad Ripple waving a staple gun and flinging upholstery tacks at innocent bystanders). See, when I saw this post from another food blogger, I immediately commented, with glee, “I’m doing this!!” (and yes, I did include multiple exclamation points). And I thought ahead: I thought, if I’m making custom tea blends for my kids’ teachers and some family members, then I should order the ingredients. And I ordered, pondering the prices and volumes for only 5 or 6 days while my online shopping cart stayed full (gotta love cookies).

But there’s always a rub: the containers. The tea containers had to be cute. Not a cute-yet-un-reusable sort of way, but the cute where the person actually uses the container again. I had these simple round silver tins in mind, but when I went to order them from this site, the shipping was going to cost as much as the 15 containers. This is exactly the type of thing that will keep me from ordering, on principle alone. Nevermind that I’ll spend the next week of my life, needing to pop extra melatonin to sleep at night, trying to find a local source for the tins so I CAN SAVE FIFTEEN BUCKS.

Let me ask you: is a week of your life worth a ten and a five?

Well, I’m happy to say that I decided mine is. Problem is, I decided it after the week was gone. So I found myself carting a 1-year old and 3-year old out in sub-freezing weather to hit thrift stores to see what else I could find. Normally, I love going to thrift stores — I am a person who experiences inexplicable joy while digging through junk that someone else deemed it necessary to give away. Again, more fodder for the therapist (I wonder, are the procrastination and junk-store-diving related?). But all of that joy fades fast when you’re trying to keep four hands from picking up every breakable piece of refuse in the store.

It was actually a successful trip. I found six silver tumblers. All of them tarnished — there’s something I love about tarnished silver — and I could immediately see that they would work for the tea, and that they would make lovely cut flower vases on someone’s breakfast table or guest bath vanity. At a dollar each, they fit the bill.

That was Tuesday. Wednesday was a wash — a Christmas party at the preschool seemed to consume the whole day. So today, I was out again, with two children under age 4, trying to get all the last odds and ends to make it work (the gifts go to school tomorrow, and with us to see family on Saturday). I was grumpy, and angry at myself for once again doing all things of this nature at the 11 o’clock hour. I was impatient with my preschooler, and pushed the nap limits of the baby. Today, I would most definitely not be lifted on anyone’s shoulders and be proclaimed School Mom of the Year. Lifted on a gurney and carried off to a place where your tea comes by way of a Lipton bag in an insulated plastic cup? Perhaps.

And this is the real problem: here I am. Blogging at 10pm, and they’re done. In the bag, ready to go to school tomorrow. I finally found the little round tins for the rest of the gifts, and my daughter did joyfully help me pick out ribbons and write all the cards. But this wrinkle on my forehead — a vertical line right between my eyebrows — it got deeper this week. It’s my procrastination flux capacitor. If I were a Botox-type of woman, that’s where they’d be sticking the needle. And it just leaves me wondering: how do I change this? I’m in my late 30′s, and I’m still wondering when will this change.

But then I look at that photo up there, and think, “Hey, I made those.” That’s the thought I’m left with, and it’s the one that will once again start the whole process, and land me here. In this strange and mysterious place of exhaustion and satisfaction and — dare I say it — joy.

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{ 12 comments }

Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS December 17, 2009 at 11:06 pm

Oh, my goodness. They are beautiful. Beautiful!

Angie @ Just Like The Number December 18, 2009 at 6:36 am

Wrinkles or no wrinkles, they are gorgeous! Everyone’s going to love them. I’m a bit relieved to find I’m not the only one who spends a good portion of November and December trying to come up with the perfect homemade gift, the one that will keep ‘em talking. This year I had to let go of that notion when I realized I needed 8 weeks, not the 3 I had, to make homemade vanilla. Thanks to your post I know have a source for the amber bottles I never got around to looking for, though!

Where do you find cardamom pods in Indy?

katy December 18, 2009 at 7:07 am

Thanks, Wardeh ; )
Unfortunately, this is probably not the encouragement I need. My husband might gently ask you to please not tell me they are beautiful. That, really, a Starbucks card is more beautiful (my friend Liz did these as teacher gifts, and I thought it was a great way to preserve sanity).

Angie, vanilla is next year’s gift for me, too ; ) I got cardamom pods online (mountainroseherbs.com), but you can get them at Good Earth (they were out, and of course I couldn’t wait for their order to come in).

Stephanie December 18, 2009 at 12:12 pm

OH, those are SO AWESOME. Tell Tim I said so. I, too, was up late last night – making biscotti for coworkers (both J’s and mine – he asked me to, so it’s partly his fault). I think I may have to make Chai for the relatives. It might actually be easier than the caramels I was going to attempt. Do you know if Earth Fare sells cardamon pods?

katy December 18, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Steph, I don’t think they do — but it’s worth a call there, and to Daily Co-op. Seriously, if you have containers already, the actual tea-mixing doesn’t take that long. It took some thought, though, converting the brewing instructions to single-cup servings. These days, simple math is not my strong point.

Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS December 18, 2009 at 4:37 pm

Just so I can make a note, what ARE the brewing instructions for single-cup servings???? ;) Consider the encouragement revoked. Starbucks card are much more beautiful.

katy December 18, 2009 at 8:03 pm

I added an image of the instructions at bottom of post. Basically, use 1 1/2 tsp of tea to brew a cup (using just hot water). Then add honey/milk to taste.

Tim thanks you for revoking encouragement!

Rebecca Martin December 19, 2009 at 9:55 am

Hear, hear! Why is it always that way?

I, in fact, made this chai, too, from the same web site (which you put me on to), and sent it off less prettily – in small, round 1/4 c. plastic containers as stocking stuffers for family members. But of course I had to pre-taste it myself – and Kenton says it tastes authentically like chai he was served in India. So of course it’s our current favorite winter drink now, and I’m drinking a mug as I look out on the snow this morning. Great stuff!

Here’s my question, though: If you mix together a larger batch with the idea people will make single-cup servings, what with all the large spice pieces, can you be certain each individual serving will get the right amount and combination of spice to it? (e.g. what if the 1 1/2 teaspoons doesn’t pick up one of the cinnamon sticks, or too many cloves?) Maybe that doesn’t matter and I’m just too type-A. I’d love to make some of this to keep on-hand when my family comes next week, but wasn’t sure how that would work.

katy December 19, 2009 at 5:08 pm

Good question, Rebecca. I thought about the same thing — so I guess we’re both too type-A. Here’s the thought that helps me sleep at night, without worrying that my gift-receivers will be drinking a cup of clove tea:

First, I used cinnamon bark pieces — so, not ground, but not full sticks. Tiny little broken-up pieces of sticks. So the cinnamon is good to go.

Second, the cardamom pods. Since there are only about 20 or so in each container, I was hoping that a tea-maker might see it as a wise decision to try and include one in their tea bag.

Third, the cloves: these are the trickiest, since they can be hard to spot. But since I’ve been making tea this way (I, too, made a batch for myself) for a few days, I’ve noticed that it’s physically hard to scoop the tea if you have too many cloves. In this way, I’m hoping they’ll disperse themselves.

I will say that the main problem with doing the tea this way is the vanilla. I didn’t know how to add vanilla — seemed like if I cut up vanilla beans, the tiny seeds would escape and end up in someone’s cup of tea if they were using a strainer. So I left out the vanilla, and I think it’s to the tea’s detriment. (It’s still really good, though.)

FYI, I made a separate batch using Rooibos tea instead of black tea, to make a naturally caffeine-free variety. It, too, is delicious. I think this is the one I’ll end up stocking for myself, since I like to use up my caffeine budget on my morning home-roasted coffee, and then do naturally caffeine-free for the rest of the day.

Let me know if you find a solution for the vanilla problem!

katy December 22, 2009 at 2:52 pm

Ok, I found my own solution to the vanilla problem, at least for the Red Chai: get vanilla rooibos tea from mountainroseherbs.com; it is a naturally-flavored, organic red tea, and I just made a chai mix from it. It is wonderful.

erin from swonderland November 5, 2010 at 8:43 pm

i know this is an old post, but your blog is turning into one of my favorite blogs. i wish i had been out at the wii dancey party thing to meet you tonight.

katy November 6, 2010 at 8:50 am

Erin — thanks, that is a very encouraging thing to hear on a sleepy Saturday morning! I also wish you had been there last night, as I’ve been wanting to meet you too, ever since the Unfortunate Target Incident, which I related to immensely.

But at the same time, I was a complete zombie last night, going on only 2 hours of sleep from the night before — so perhaps it’s best, and hopefully when we do meet I will be in a better state of mind.

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