Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving Prep for Slightly Anal People

I love hosting Thanksgiving dinner. Not only is everything on the standard menu on my “favorites” list, but the vast majority of dishes are really not that complicated to make. Other than carving the turkey, which my husband is in charge of, there are no fancy culinary techniques required. There is nothing that requires long, laborious standing at the stove and stirring or checking or testing. The peas, squash, gravy, and rolls are merely heated. The mashed potatoes and creamed onions have just a few ingredients tossed in and mixed up. Even the turkey is pretty much shoved into the oven and forgotten about until the timer goes off. The most labor-intensive dish is probably the dressing, and even that takes only a few minutes. Even the preparation of the ingredients – and yes, after all my years of watching competitive cooking shows, I do mentally refer to it as my mise en place – can be done quickly and easily the night before.

The only thing that makes preparing the Thanksgiving meal complicated, for me, is getting the timing right. It’s like a high school math word problem: If the turkey takes 1-1/2 hours at 475 degrees, and the dressing takes 15 minutes at 350 degrees, how many hours will the potatoes need in the crock pot on high if the guests are 15 minutes late and it takes 8-1/2 minutes to carve the bird?

But I find the scheduling to be a fun challenge. Every year, I carefully get out all my recipes and write up a timeline, starting with the time I want my guests to sit down to dinner, and calculating backwards. I always start with my template from the year before, so it’s rare that I have to do much more than tweak a few times. But this year, my husband and I decided to get wild and crazy and spatchcock our turkey. Yes, I admit that this is a recipe that requires some degree of technique, since it involves butterflying the turkey by cutting out the backbone and laying it spreadeagled (spreadturkeyed??) on a roasting pan. 

Before and after – it looks pretty ridiculous both ways, but at least the “after” version looks like it’s wearing an expensive coat.

The idea is that this allows the meat to cook more evenly and the skin to become nicely crispy all over, since it increases the surface area of the bird as well as decreasing its thickness. It makes such a difference that the roasting time for the turkey drops from my usual 6 or so hours down to a mere 1-1/2. My usual early Thanksgiving morning routine - even before my first cup of coffee!! - involved preheating the oven, slathering the turkey with oil and wrestling it into the oven, grabbing a cup of coffee (phew), then taking the turkey back out, flipping it over, stuffing it, wrapping it with foil, lowering the oven temperature, wrestling it back in, then several hours later wrestling it out again, unwrapping the foil, draining off the juices, lowering the oven temperature yet again, and finally throwing it back in for a bit longer sans foil to let the skin turn golden brown. This complicated recipe always resulted in a moist, delicious, nicely-browned turkey, but I’m ready to try something a bit less involved this year, in the hopes that the results will be equally delicious but less time-consuming. So this year’s turkey routine involves a night-before backbone-ectomy and dry brining with kosher salt, a quick rub with oil and spices right before tossing it into the oven around noon and then ignoring it until it’s time to take it out just after the guests arrive.

So the technique is easier (well, my part of it is, anyway; my poor husband is in charge of the backbone-ectomy), but the math is harder. It changes the schedule enough that I decided to toss last year’s template and start from scratch. Let’s see, the guests should arrive at 2pm, so the turkey should be carved at 2:30pm. But the turkey needs to rest for 20 minutes, so it should come out of the oven at 2:10pm, which means it should go IN the oven 1-1/2 hours earlier, at 12:40pm. But the oven has to be preheated to 450 by then, so add “12:20pm – Oven on to 450” to the schedule. And it will take a few minutes to rub the turkey with the oil, so add “12:15pm – prep turkey” to the list. I go through my entire menu, dish by dish, figuring out what prep needs to start at what time, adding in the little tasks that can be done at any time (such as “slice the cranberry sauce,” “set the table,” and “lay out crescent rolls on baking pan”) during whatever vacant windows of time appear. This also helped me realize that I have several dishes, including my appetizer, rolls, and dressing, which are supposed to be baked at the same time as the turkey but at a much lower temperature. This was never a problem in years past, as my turkey roasted at the same temperature called for by these dishes, so I always just popped them in right alongside the bird. A few quick calculations were needed to figure out whether any of them can be baked while the turkey is resting (yes for rolls and dressing, no for apps), and how long those that can’t should be baked at the higher temp.

For anyone who’s curious as to what exactly a Thanksgiving schedule written by a highly organized but rather tightly wound cook looks like, here’s what mine looks like this year:

Day/night before: Cut up dressing ingredients & sweet peppers for dip, make creamed onions, make pumpkin pie. Butterfly and dry brine turkey in fridge overnight.

9:00am: Peel and chop potatoes, put squash in pot to thaw
9:15am: Start crock pot potatoes
12:15pm: Preheat oven to 450, sprinkle turkey with pepper and rub with oil & paprika
12:40pm: Turkey in oven
1:00pm: Make stuffing, slice cranberry sauce
1:15pm: Check potatoes, mash and finish, leave on warm, make dip
1:40pm: Make gravy, prep crescent rolls, dip in oven
2:00pm: GUESTS ARRIVE, dip out of oven and serve
2:10pm: Turkey out and rest under foil, temp down to 375, boil peas, heat onions and squash
2:20pm: Crescent rolls & dressing in
2:30pm: Crescent rolls & dressing out, carve turkey
2:40pm: Sit down to dinner

I bet that right now, some of you who are reading this are nodding and thinking about your own similar schedules. And I bet that others of you are thinking, “I need to do this!” But I bet that the majority of you are laughing at how crazy I am. And that’s okay. I embrace my crazy; it gets dinner to the table on time.

But if you REALLY want to see crazy, you should check out the way I organize my serving dishes and utensils…

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Monday, November 23, 2015

2015 AMA Red Carpet Review

The American Music Awards are always an interesting fashion event. The country contingent leans toward the casual; the mainline pop stars often aim for sexy and edgy; the metal and punk artists range from couture tuxedos to blinged-out grunge. It’s just a wide and fascinating range of fashion. And, as is true of every red carpet event, some looks are a ringing success and some are just a mess. Here are a few of the hits and misses from this year’s AMA red carpet.

Paula Abdul defies her age in this sleek sequined minidress. The gold detail at the neck adds both flash and modesty to the wide-open plunging neckline, and the dress is snug without being tight. The hem hits at exactly the right spot to make her legs look a mile long without coming off as trashy. I’d love to see a scarlet or metallic gold clutch as an accessory, but otherwise, this look is terrific.

Art deco patterns have been popular at red carpet events for the past couple of years, and there were a number in evidence at the AMAs this year (including a metallic gold number worn by host Jennifer Lopez), but Ciara’s see-through black gown was the best example of the style. Revealing without crossing the line into bad taste, the mix of triangles and curves, of covered up and open, of clinging and train results in a gorgeous, flattering, unique look. 

Nina Dobrev’s look was, hands down, my favorite look of the night. The stark white column and off-the-shoulder jacket with sequined floral accents, deep slit, fabulous strappy black-and-white pumps has only long drop earrings, shampoo commercial waves, and a bright pink manicure as accessories - simple, smooth, and sexy. Coco Chanel once said, “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” Dobrev was definitely listening. 

Selena Gomez also rocked a simple – and simply fabulous – column dress. Her scarlet, mid-calf sequined column has a high halter neck and a short slit. I didn’t love the heavy corded details along the sides of the halter, but the sleek straight hair, restrained makeup, and strappiest of black sandals more than made up for that minor detail. Simple but spectacular.

I think I would have loved Gigi Hadid’s look if the front opening had been just a bit narrower – it simply draws too much focus with that huge expanse of skin. But I love the lines of the halter, with the double straps on each side and the criss-cross lacing, and the broad curved slit falling into a soft, graceful puddle at the hem. The white isn’t perfectly flattering with her skin and hair, and a tiny pop of soft color or even metallic gold or silver in lips, bag, or shoes would have amped it up a bit. Not a bad look, but it could have used a few minor modifications. 

Julianne Hough wore another example of art deco styling. I love the carwash paneling in the skirt, but the muted colors and the demure t-shirt cut of the bodice are a bit bland. And again, the colors are not the most flattering with Hough’s skin and hair. Close, but not quite. 

Demi Lovato is barely recognizable (but not in a bad way!) in a marcelled bob, dark lips, and a simple, skin-tight, wide-necked, brown-on-brown, vaguely camo-patterned gown. By all rights, this look should be boring, but Lovato absolutely sells it, with the smoldering expression and the powerful hand-on-hip stance. I’m not even going to quibble about the weird black tape on her left hand. She gets a 10 from me for sheer confidence alone. 

Jenny McCarthy often goes off the rails with style, but this isn’t a bad look. The thigh-high coral red suede boots (with matching Santa belt) are beyond fabulous, and the simple halter dress with side pleated skirt moves beautifully and shows off her figure without flashing cleavage or thighs. The overprocessed blonde hair with ratty extensions and faded roots isn’t the best accessory, but seriously, with those boots on, nobody is looking at her hair. 

Oh, Alanis Morissette. If you have a stylist, you need to fire her or him NOW. The tight leather bodice might have been okay, but joining it to a high-waisted A-line skirt with sequined pocket outlines was just mean. At least wrap a crushed sash around your waist to give it some definition. Honey, you oughta know by now: you deserve to look so much better than this. 

Giuliana Rancic’s gown was a more subtle nod to art deco style. I love the barely see-through delicate starburst pattern radiating down from mid-thigh in the skirt, echoed by the lines of the bodice and sleeves. This gown is nicely proportioned to Rancic’s slight frame, and the black and silver tones work well with her coloring, A lovely look for her. 

Gwen Stefani’s look was kind of…fanciful Goth, maybe? I actually love the flared chiffon sleeves that form a kind of capelet and the corset with peplum, and the lines of the trumpet skirt and train are fabulous. The thick black choker and “bump-it” hairstyle pull the retro look together nicely. The only part I really don't like is the exposed thighs and visible leotard bottom. I wish the skirt had been peekaboo instead of purely see-through, or even had an opaque black miniskirt underneath, either of which would have smoothed the line of the skirt. But Stefani still looks like a million bucks. 

I’m not a big fan of rompers, but Hailee Steinfeld pulls off this black-and-white striped outfit quite nicely. The retro brass buttons and cobalt platforms and clutch add a bit of color and flash, and the long dark wavy hair fills in the plunging neckline and draws the eye up rather nicely. All in all, a cute vintage-inspired look.

I probably wouldn’t have chosen silver for Rebel Wilson, but this dress looks wonderful on her. From the retro 60s hair to the gracefully gathered in to the waist silver lame, to the adorable bright pink candy bag, Rebel owns this look. I’d have loved to have seen bright pink pumps to match the bag, but otherwise this was a terrific look. 

Speaking of bright pink pumps, Zendaya pairs hers with a sweet, buttoned-down pink lace minidress. I love the “schoolgirlishness” of the long-sleeved, collared, ruffled bodice when paired with the ridiculously short skirt and killer heels. She hits a great balance of sexy yet age-appropriate.

Honestly, I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t see any fashion trainwrecks at the AMAs! Wait, I take that back. I forgot I saw this.

Ummmm…nice shoes?

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Awesome Christmas Projects I'll Never Do

I am dedicating today’s blog entry to all the people who, like me, love to look up beautiful and creative Christmas crafts that – let’s be honest, here – they will never, EVER, actually make. I am always finding great ideas in craft stores, on Pinterest, even in other people’s houses, that I would love to do, that I am perfectly capable of doing, but that I am quite certain I never actually will do. I can’t claim that it’s because I don’t have the time, because some of these projects could easily be done in an afternoon, many of them with the help (well, “help”) of my children. I can’t claim it’s because I don’t have the supplies, because many of them use common household materials. I suppose I should just come right out and admit that it’s probably because I’m lazy. Or at least because I would feel guilty about spending time making these projects when I have a sink full of dirty dishes and a laundry hamper full of dirty clothes and a husband who’d like to have some adult conversation with me sometime this month. But whatever the reason, I still enjoy looking at the pictures and pretending that someday I might possibly create these items to decorate my home for the holidays. So if you enjoy looking and dreaming, too, please enjoy these creative holiday projects which will never, ever grace your home unless someone more motivated than you makes them for you as a gift.

Progressive Nativity Scenes

The wife of my former pastor collects nativity scenes. She must have a hundred of them. At Christmastime, her husband’s church is filled with her nativities, tucked into every nook and cranny imaginable. She has painted wooden ones, carved stone ones, gilt-trimmed ceramic ones, crystal ones, straw ones, rustic ones, artistic ones, simple ones, detailed ones. Her collection would be perfect for making this progressive nativity. Instead of a single scene, as most of us have, this corner cabinet has carefully printed verses and corresponding scenes that begin with Mary being visited by the angel, then giving birth in the manger, then the Christ Child being worshipped by the shepherd, and finally the arrival of the Magi. It’s lovely, it’s meaningful, and even if I had four different (or four identical, which is what the original creator seems to have had) nativity sets, I would never manage to set this up. It’s about all I can do to hang my tinfoil-covered cardboard star over my manger scene. The fact that my husband and I have spent 8 Christmases together and only got an angel for our nativity scene last February should be proof enough that this will never happen in my house. But it’s a nice thought.

Fridge (or Door) Snowman
I love this idea. I think it is incredibly cute. And really, all you need is a few circles cut out of black construction paper, a few rectangles made of green and red construction paper, and a carrot cut from orange construction paper. The hat isn’t even necessary!! But here’s the problem: I have a stainless steel fridge with French doors and a bright green front door. I cannot be bothered to cover either one with huge pieces of white paper. I guess my kids will have to be content with making real snowmen or taping tiny black paper circles to an ordinary-sized sheet of white paper. It’s another cute idea that will just never happen in my house.

Advent Calendars

Oh my goodness, there must be 100 times the number of homemade advent calendar options as there are days in the advent calendar. Back when I was single and childless and many of my family and friends had young children, I found directions for an adorable DIY felt advent calendar and made sets for several families. Now that I have my own children, I admit that I am grateful to the friend who gives me two chocolate-filled, store-bought advent calendars every year. As much as I would love for my children to read a pithy Bible verse each day in December and add a character to the manger scene, I am relieved that they can eat a Hershey’s kiss and see a picture of Santa and his reindeer every day instead. I want them to know the Bible story, but I have no problem with Santa presenting them with chocolate if it means I didn’t have to cut a thousand tiny shapes out of felt and attack them with my glue gun. I love my glue gun and all, but I have other things to do between Thanksgiving and December 1st. If Hershey’s gives me a shortcut, hooray for Hershey’s.

Christmas Cards
The first year I was married, my husband and I debated whether or not we would start a tradition of sending Christmas cards. My parents always had; I had sent a few, although mainly I sent “virtual cards,” preferably the Jacqui Lawson interactive cards. Sending a physical greeting card, with a family photo or a Bible verse or a lovely winter scene, was just not our thing. We ended up not bothering and just sending friends Facebook greetings or emails or posting a cute family photo on Google Plus for all to enjoy. Christmas cards have become rather passé, and we have let them fall by the wayside, for better or for worse. I often have wonderful ideas of how we could dress everyone up and take a lovely photo to use for a Christmas card, but even when that has actually happened (grand total of times: 1), it ends up just being posted on Facebook with love for all. I can live with that.

Sock Snowmen
I have a very large bag of unmatched socks on top of my clothes dryer; I certainly have enough orphaned socks to make an army of sock snowmen. But as adorable and as easy as they are, this will never happen. Hope springs eternal that every sock in my “orphan sock bag” will find its mate. I simply can’t bring myself to admit defeat and use any of these poor lost socks as a project. I just know that the instant I do, their mate will magically appear in the next load of laundry. So as cute as these snowmen are, I can never bring myself to make them, for fear that their mates will then appear, and the sweet smiles on their faces will turn into accusing stares of betrayal.

Fingerprint/Handprint Ornaments

Ornaments with children’s fingerprints and handprints are a lovely keepsake that parents love to pass on to the children who made them, many years later. However, the number of attempts required to result in a single, usable, non-disastrous ornament is at least in the double digits, if not the triple. Convincing a small child to dip just a fingertip in paint or to stand still long enough to coat his or her entire hand evenly with paint is next to impossible. And, of course, once the child’s part is finally done, the parent needs to have a steady enough hand to add the required details: reindeer antlers, eyes, a red nose; snowmen’s buttons, coal smiles, carrot noses, and stick arms. Any parent who has not started drinking heavily by the time a successful part A is achieved is a better human being than I. I’ll leave this type of ornament to brave preschool teachers.

Anything Involving Glitter

I blame Martha Stewart for this “cover everything in glitter” trend. Ornaments, bottles, mugs, branches, popsicle sticks, the family dog…you name it, someone on Pinterest has directions on how to cover it in glitter. But here’s the problem with glitter: IT NEVER GOES AWAY. If you use glitter in your house once, you will find bits of glitter hanging around for the next century. You’ll find some, days later, stuck in your belly button and in your hair. Weeks later, you’ll still be sweeping it from the kitchen floor. Months later, it’ll still be appearing in the carpet. Years later, you’ll pull up a rug or bring a box down from the attic or empty out the tank of the hot water heater, and BOOM! More glitter. IT NEVER GOES AWAY. Nope, no glitter for this mama if I can avoid it.


If you were alive during the 1970s, you know the words “Mod Podge.” You may even have watched a craft show on television called “Mod Podge Lodge.” In this show, chirpy, cheerful hosts used industrial quality paper mache (brand name Mod Podge) to adhere bits of wallpaper, old greeting cards, Epsom salts, glitter, or old photographs to every smooth surface imaginable. This technique, officially called “decoupage,” has fallen somewhat by the wayside, yet it still reappears during the Christmas season every year. You can decoupage old tiles to create drink coasters, you can decoupage Styrofoam balls to create tree ornaments, you can decoupage old plates to make serving platters, you can decoupage wine bottles to create “elegant” vases. Unfortunately, as lovely as really good decoupage can be, most of the world’s population is capable only of mediocre, at best, decoupage. And mediocre decoupage is…well, not so lovely. Not to mention that it is very, VERY messy. I think I’ll leave decoupaging back in the 70s, where it belongs.

But there is one cute, creative, and festive Christmas craft that I can manage: a snowman kit. Three marshmallows, a handful of chocolate chips, a few pretzel sticks, a candy corn left over from Halloween, and a spoonful of white frosting.
 You don’t even have to put it together – you just dump all the pieces into a Ziploc baggie, give it to someone as a gift, and let them do the work. That’s about what I can handle for crafts in December.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me!

So, it’s my birthday today. It’s not a particularly special one this year. It doesn’t end with a 0 or a 5. It doesn’t even end with a 9. It is a prime number, though, which is kind of cool. I’m 47 today. I guess you could say that it’s not a special birthday. But to me, every birthday is a special birthday.

Some people don’t like to celebrate birthdays, because they remind them that time is passing. But I like birthdays, because they remind me of how many wonderful things can happen within a single year!! I like to look back on all the wonderful things that happened to me in the past year. And I like to look forward to the wonderful things that are yet to be in the 365 days ahead of me.

Birthdays are special to me because they remind me of my childhood. My mom threw my sister and me amazing birthday parties. I remember being in my garage with a line of lit candles at one end and a line of kids with squirt guns at the other, racing to see who could put their candle out first. I remember a living room filled with multicolored spider webs of string, one color for each guest, and we had to follow our own, untangling as we went, to find a goody bag at the end. I remember birthday cakes shaped like trains, and ladybugs, and numbers. I remember laughter and joy and feeling loved.

As an adult, though, I find birthdays special because of the gifts. No, not the kind that come wrapped in pretty paper and topped with a shiny bow. I love the gift of seeing literally dozens of birthday wishes from family and friends all over the world waiting for me when I get up in the morning. I love the gift of having my children bounce happily onto my bed in the morning, squealing, “Happy birthday, Mama!” I love the gift of the look of intense concentration on my son’s face as he solemnly delivers me my morning coffee in bed. I love his whispered confidences of what he and Daddy picked out for my birthday present (“But don’t tell Daddy you know, because it’s a surprise!”). I love that my husband loves to pamper me on my birthday, that he knows all the things I love but would never splurge on for myself. I love that in his eyes I will always look as young as I did on my first birthday that we celebrated together.

I am a year older today. Another year of my life is past; I am another year closer to the end of my life. But that’s not a bad thing. I have used the last year well. I have laughed and loved and lived. I have spent time with my children and my husband and my family and my friends. I have tried to help others, and I have tried to make the world a better place. I have learned to be more loving and more patient than I was a year ago. I have given to those in need and loved the loveless. I have become closer to God. I have said “no” when I needed to and “yes” when I wanted to. I have seen a bit more of the world than I had a year ago. I have lost loved ones and learned to remember their lives with joy instead of remembering their deaths with sorrow. I am, as they say, sadder but wiser.

Last year was, as most years are, a year that saw both joy and sorrow. Through the pain I have become both stronger and more compassionate; through the joy I have received peace and wisdom. I am not who I was a year ago, and I am not yet who I will be a year from now.

I am simply me, looking back at the past and ahead to the future. And I am happy with them both. And if that doesn’t make a birthday special, I don’t know what does.

Happy birthday to me!

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Monday, November 16, 2015

It's the Plumber. I've Come to Fix the Sink.

Those of you of a certain generation will remember, as I do, the funny little animated sketches that were part of every episode of The Electric Company, a wonderful educational television show that ran on PBS in the 1970s. One of my favorites was the one that I always referred to as simply, "It's the plumber."

If you're unable to watch the clip, here's what happens: A woman pats her pet parrot and leaves her house. A man carrying a toolbox walks up to her door and knocks. The parrot responds, "Who is it?" The man (who cannot see the parrot) answers, "It's the plumber. I've come to fix the sink." There is silence for a moment, then the man knocks again, and once again the parrot asks, "Who is it?" and the man responds (a bit more loudly), "It's the plumber! I've come to fix the sink!" followed by another silence. This happens several times, until finally the plumber goes apoplectic and passes out on the doorstep. Just then, the lady of the house comes home and cries out, "Who is it?" The parrot, of course, responds, "It's the plumber. He's come to fix the sink."

Today, I am in complete sympathy with that plumber. It's not a parrot that's making me apoplectic, but rather a faucet needing replacing in a sink with a very small vanity. I came pretty close to apoplexy myself as I was trying to fix it.

The thing that's so frustrating about this repair is that it should be very easy. You take off a couple of bolts, you put a couple of connectors together, you put back a couple of bolts. Easy peasy, right? Ha. That's like saying that disarming a nuclear warhead is as simple as snipping a wire or two. The difficulty lies in getting at the important parts without accidentally creating a disaster by touching any of the other parts which happen to be located within 2 millimeters of what you need to adjust with a 5 centimeter tool.

For me, the first problem actually happened long before I got near the faucet itself. In order to replace the faucet, I first had to take the old faucet off, which meant that I had to get underneath the sink to disconnect the water supply and remove the bolts holding the faucet in place. That sounds like an easy step, right? But here's the problem: I am significantly wider than the door of the vanity.

It doesn't look too bad, right?

However, notice the width of the opening, then notice the width of my shoulders. Houston, we have a problem. Fortunately, I'm pretty flexible, so after a few tries, I figured out exactly how to angle my shoulders and brace my feet against the door so I could wriggle under the sink. 

Once I was under there, I wasn't sure how I was ever going to get out. I had to be sure all my tools were within reach because getting out was a major commitment. 

Another problem I discovered right away was that there was no good way to hold a flashlight in those close quarters. I tried propping it in the U-bend, I tried holding it in my mouth, I tried tucking it under my chin, no luck. I finally ended up wedging it in the neck of my sweater and propping it with whichever wrench I wasn't using at the moment. 

Suddenly I realized that I really had been useful when I was 6 and my dad let me hold the TroubLight while he fixed stuff, and I regretted waiting until my kids were in bed to start this project. But by that time I was committed, so I kept plugging along. 

Removing the old faucet required a few under-sink contortions as I attempted to grab the plastic washers that hold it in place with each of my three wrenches in turn, none of which fit. I resorted to whacking the flanges (OK, they're probably not flanges but I don't know what they are really and "flange" is a great word, so I'm running with it) with the largest wrench to loosen them, which, in addition to being extremely satisfying, was also surprisingly successful. 

Bye-bye, old faucet!

Putting in the new faucet also seemed like it ought to be quite easy. You drop it through the hole, bolt a couple of Pac-Man-looking things into place, and hook up the water lines. And the first couple of steps were just as easy as expected. 

But then I got to the step that said, "Connect the water line of the sink to the water line of the faucet." If you look at the photograph above, you will note that the end of the copper pipe at the top of the photo is several inches away from the pipe coming out of the corresponding Pac-Man's mouth. You will also note that the end of the other copper pipe is even farther away from the other faucet's connector. Copper pipes are flexible, but they're not that flexible. And I'm not that strong. 

So I proceeded to reverse steps 27 through 4 and undo all the work I had so carefully done thus far. Every "righty-tighty" turn of the wrench had to be "lefty-loosy"ed. And considering the tight quarters, there had been a loooooot of very tiny righty-tighties. My hands had started to go numb by the time I finished, but I got everything off. 

I brazenly ignored the instructions this time and connected the copper piping before tightening the Pac-Man bolts. It was much easier to bend the pipes a tiny fraction of an inch at a time by tightening the bolts than it was to try and force them into position once the faucet was bolted in place. Unfortunately, doing it this way required periodically checking the faucet from the top to be sure it was seated properly on on the gasket (or possibly the flange), which meant I had to climb out from under the sink and then back under again numerous times. I think I may have accidentally invented Plumber's Yoga during the process. 

Anyway, finally everything was connected, the new faucet was in place, and I boldly turned the water back on, then held my breath as I opened the tap for the first time. 

Would you look at that? Water! Coming out from where it's supposed to! And not coming out from where it's not supposed to!! I did it!

So the next time I come to visit, when I knock on your door and you ask who it is, don't be too surprised to hear, "It's the plumber! I've come to fix the sink!"

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