The holidays have come and gone and I’m glad to get back to my same old routine. At work, the holidays bring short work weeks and extra work. Everything runs at full tilt until the first of the year and then it’s a total standstill. 

At home, the holidays are a lot of work, too. Dave and I cooked for three days straight and that was after Christmas. Part of the problem was the stuffed mushrooms. It’s a good thing they’re so awesome because they’re a total pain in the neck to make. 

We spread the job out over a week or so. We made the stuffing the weekend before, then Dave popped the stems off and washed the mushrooms and we stuffed and baked them the day after that. 

We ended up with leftover stuffing which doesn’t work out well. We had leftover last year, too, that I froze, thinking I’d make them some time other than the holidays. That didn’t happen (they really are a pain to make) and then I thought I could just use that to stuff this year’s mushrooms. 

And then I thought about how much work this is and if it doesn’t work out, well, we just can’t have that. So we made new stuffing and again had leftovers. 

We had just bought a little bag of fresh jalapeño peppers that weekend. I had no real plans for them but they were only $1 because they weren’t quite so fresh. But who cares if they’re a little wrinkly and soft if you’re going to bake them? 

I wore gloves through the whole process — slicing, cleaning, stuffing and baking. All I needed was one guinea pig to eat one and see how hot they were. I had no takers on that so I had to put on my big girl pants and do it myself. 

And it wasn’t hot at all. Barely even what you’d call tangy. So Dave ate one. And I ate another one. We tried to talk our No. 1 son into giving them a try. That took a while. He finally broke down and had a couple. 

See, they’re not hot at all, are they? He said I lied. They lit him up like a Christmas tree. 

Well that can’t be. He has a lot more tolerance for this stuff than I do. He’s the one who used to play refrigerator roulette with his friends when he was younger. Put together any combo of stuff from the door and make the other guy drink a "shot" of it. First one to throw up loses. 

He could handle that but not a baked jalapeño pepper? I didn’t find out why until I had my eighth one. The first seven were just fine. The eighth one set my face on fire. 

No surprise then that we had stuffed jalapeños left over. I took a couple in my lunch for work — and brought them right back home again. Eating stuffed jalapeños on New Year’s Eve when there might be a couple of beers involved is a whole lot different than having them for lunch at work. 

We did a bit of visiting over the holidays after we had our time with the kids. They have other places they need to go, so we make ourselves available whenever they can come. After that, it’s a free-for-all. 

We gave Dave’s Dad his traditional Christmas bottle and stopped by Sonny and Kelly’s for a little visit. When we were about talked out and down to just watching an old John Wayne movie, Dave went out to start the Jeep. 

Fifteen minutes later, we were standing outside the locked Jeep trying to figure out what to do next. 

Well, we have to get a ride home and get the spare key. Good thing nobody offered us a ride right away because that was a bad plan. I thought the key was in the bill box at home. Even if it was, we couldn’t get in. Our house keys were locked in the Jeep. 

When I called our No. 1 son, he reminded me that he had the spare key and it was on his ring in his truck in the garage at our house. Which we couldn’t get into either, because the garage key was locked in the Jeep. Sensing a theme here? 

I hated to drag him away from his in-laws on the holidays but we had to do something. The Jeep wasn’t going to run forever. It took him about 45 minutes to get to us. Good thing we had just put gas in the Jeep. 

I didn’t want to burn it all out just sitting there, but it was better than the alternative. If it ran out of gas it might do bad things to the Jeep’s innards. And I didn’t want to have to send our son back out with a gas can. 

To prevent this kind of a fiasco in the future, we separated the keys from the fob. I put both in my purse and forgot all about it until I was leaving work a couple days later. I grabbed the keys out of my purse and didn’t have the fob. 

OK, I’ve got the keys, so I’m good. I stuck the key in the lock and opened the door and the Jeep lost its mind — honking and flashing and carrying on. I dug deeper in my purse and found the fob. I pushed the panic button and we kept honking and flashing. 

I pushed it again, I pushed it twice, I pushed all the buttons and finally, there was silence. I don’t know what the right procedure is to stop the panic attack. That’s just my usual fix for nearly everything from computers to TV remotes to kitchen appliances. Just keep poking buttons until it does something I like. And so far, it works like a charm. 

Copyright 2018 Laura Nethken