Moving, baking, and other chaos

It’s been a strange sort of week.  We knew we’d be shifting offices sometime this week, and that we would have to stay away from the office on moving day so we didn’t get in the way of the movers, so we’d talked about having some sort of team field-trip, maybe involving a site visit to one of our content providers (apparently someone in HR suggested that everyone should just take annual leave that day – I suggested that the union might be interested to hear that…)  But because our move was just a small part of a much bigger and more complicated move, involving 3 buildings and about 5 departments, we didn’t get confirmation until Monday of the official move date (Wednesday), so we didn’t have time to arrange anything.  So it was decreed that Wednesday would be a work from home day for our team (“work” being a very loose term, seeing as we rely on a lot of specialist software, and can’t access some of the servers from off-campus – it was more of a “check your email from time to time” sort of working).
So Tuesday afternoon was spent in a flurry of last minute packing (one good thing about being a digital archive – there’s not a lot of physical stuff to pack), and we left for the day thinking we’d be back on Thursday morning to unpack our boxes in the new office.  Yeah, that was the plan, anyway.  Except it turned out that some of the certification for the new building hadn’t been signed off yet by the city council, so we got an email on Wednesday afternoon telling us not to come back until Thursday lunchtime.
On Thursday morning there was another email saying that the building had been signed off and was ready for occupancy, so I went in to campus, only to discover they hadn’t even started moving our office yet – the delays with the sign-off had meant that we’d slipped to the bottom of the list, and we wouldn’t be getting moved until the afternoon sometime.  So after a quick consultation with my boss we sent a message round the team saying stay home for the rest of the day.
So yay extra free day off, but it was kind of frustrating – both because I actually had a lot of work I wanted to get on with (the Christmas break is looming fast and there’s a lot of stuff I’d like to get cleared before then), and because I find I can’t settle in to enjoying a day off when it’s messily on-again off-again like that – I spent the rest of the day feeling unsettled, like I might be called back in to work or something, so I shouldn’t get too involved in anything I was doing.
Anyway, went back in to work on Friday, and everything had been moved (well, apart from a few things that got left behind – like the big whiteboard we do all our planning on, which is kind of crucial.  Oh, and they haven’t issued us keys to the new office yet…), so after spending most of the morning setting up the office and deciding where everyone wanted their desks and admiring our lovely new crack-free walls, we were finally able to settle back in to getting some work done.  So yeah, a total of two days of productive work out of an entire week – good thing it’s summer, and nearly Christmas, and nobody really expects anyone to actually achieve much this month anyway…

Although Thursday was a bit of a wipe-out, I did manage to make good use of my free day off on Wednesday, spending a chunk of it baking:

Yeah, pretty pictures, but the baking wasn’t such a success.  The plan was to make two batches of brownies, one for my “Secret Santa” gift for the Christchurch Bloggers Christmas party (which had to be under $10, and preferably hand-crafted or baked), and the other to take as a plate* to the party.  So I’d decided I’d make burnt butter brownies for the gift, because they turned out so well last time I made them, and salted caramel brownies for the plate, because I wanted to experiment with a variation on the recipe, and wasn’t sure how it would work.
(* that’s “plate” in the Kiwi sense of “bring some food to share” – it always confuses foreigners when they’re asked to bring a plate to a party ;-))
So of course, the burnt butter brownies came out terrible (ok, maybe not terrible – they were still edible, but they certainly weren’t wonderful) and my variation on the salted caramel ones worked perfectly.
Now, the sensible thing to do at this point would have been to swap the functions of the two varieties, and use the salted caramel ones for the gift.  But because I’d had in my mind that it was the burnt butter ones that should be the gift, swapping them just never occurred to me.  So instead, I got in a panic and seriously contemplated making another batch, but didn’t have enough ingredients, and I didn’t really have time to go to the supermarket (I didn’t realise at that stage that I’d have the whole next day off as well), so I was searching the recipe books for another recipe that would use the ingredients I did have, and, and, and… in the end I just got sick of the whole baking idea and decided to just parcel up the sub-standard brownies in a pretty way and call it done.
I did at least manage the pretty packaging:

(Yes, my Secret Santa recipient’s name really is Holly!  I couldn’t resist illustrating the card appropriately, though I’m sure she’s had it done a million times before)
It wasn’t until I was about half way to the party on Thursday night that the whole should-have-swapped-the-brownies thing finally occurred to me, by which time of course it was too late to do anything about it.  All it did was add to my anxiety, because now I all I could think was that if she tried the brownies I’d brought as a plate, she’d wonder why I’d given her such boring ones when I was obviously capable of much better.
So I was already feeling pretty inferior about my gift before I got to the party.  And then when we had the actual gift exchange, I felt even worse when I realised what total over-achievers all these women are – my little box of brownies looked so pathetic compared to the amazing parcels of treasures everyone had put together.
Here’s what I received from my Secret Santa (who later admitted she’d left it till the last minute, so had just “thrown some things together”(!!!)):
That’s a set of nesting storage tins (op-shopped, so within the $10 budget), the smallest of which was filled with chocolates, a hand-made card, crocheted Christmas ornaments and what are labelled as dish-cloths, but are much too nice to use for that, and a calendar!  And that’s a thrown together at the last minute gift!
But apart from making me feel totally inferior and intimidated by their all-round awesomeness, it was actually a lovely evening (and I should say, the feeling inferior thing was entirely self-inflicted – everyone was really nice, and there was definitely no looking-down-of-noses at my pathetic offering).  It was great to meet more of the bloggers, and put faces to names I knew from browsing the blogs.  They really are a great group, and lots of fun.  I even managed to squeeze in a little networking, so see, my day spent baking really was work-related 😉
It was a very late night though.  It shouldn’t have been – I actually left the party at about 9.30, because I knew it would take me about an hour to get home on the bus (Why is it everything I get invited to seems to be on completely the other side of town?  What happened to this great post-earthquake migration to the west that everyone keeps talking about?).  But I managed to just miss the bus (I saw it passing the stop when I was just too far away to be able to run for it), so had half an hour to wait for the next one, which turned up late, so it was well after 11 by the time I actually got home.  So yeah, probably a good thing half of yesterday was wasted to unpacking the office – I probably would have fallen asleep over my desk if it had been a normal work day!
Oh, and just to show I’m completely surrounded by over-achievers, even my work-mates have got in on the act.  Lucy-Jane brought us all in little brooches she’d spent the day making on Wednesday:

I should really have put something in the photo as a size reference to show how tiny and cute it is, but the size of the stitching probably gives you an idea – he’s only about 5 cm long from head to foot.

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  1. Sorry to think of you feeling inferior about your baking – pity you couldn’t have put all the photos into a wee album to show the intent behind the baking – instead of giving the biscuits you felt bad about. The photos are good especially the chocolatey ones tht look good enough to eat.

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