A Tale of Two Boxes

Treats packaged, presents wrapped, boxes filled with the tastes of Christmas and gifts for under the tree. One box was reused from an Amazon order, the other was a paper box from my office. Covered in paper, tape at every seam, addressed and ready to go. Both boxes delivered to the grocery store that has a postal service counter. The young man behind the counter tells me it will be about a week before my boxes arrive on the west coast. There’s plenty of time, I think. Little did I know where my boxes would go, but I would follow their path with my tracking numbers.

Thursday, I wondered where the boxes were. I used my handy tracking numbers to check on their progress. Box 1 was already in California. I was shocked! It left Springfield, MO and didn’t stop until it got to Bell Gardens, CA. Then it went to Santa Ana, CA for a quick stop before getting to Irvine, CA. I needed to let my daughter-in-law to be on the lookout Friday for this box. Of course, I did not know if it was the big box or the small box.

That was surprisingly fast, but then I checked my second number and I couldn’t quite believe what the tracking number told me. This box went to Des Moines, IA. What? Why did two boxes with the same destination take two completely different routes? This box hung around Des Moines twenty-four hours before moving on down the road. Finally, it arrived in Bell Gardens. Good, I thought, it’s back on track. That track did not last long. The next check revealed it was in Richmond, CA, which is up by San Francisco. What? Now I started to wonder if the clerk gave me the right tracking number. Something is terribly wrong here! I’m starting to panic, but what can I do?

One week after beginning the journey, the box has been returned to Bell Gardens. This morning the tracker reported it checked in at Santa Ana and is on the way to its next stop. Hopefully, that will be Irvine and soon my family in California will be munching on some Christmas treats.







Lost and Found

As I get out of my car, my hand instinctively brushes my pocket to assure me my phone is there. This time, the pocket is flat, there is no bump of a phone. My hands begin to explore other possibilities, my fleece jacket, my purse. Each search comes up empty. Panic begins to set in. Where could it be?

Could it be at Hobby Lobby? I had just used my phone to show the cashier a coupon. Did I set it down on the counter as I paid for my purchase? With my heart pounding, I raced back to Hobby Lobby. Before running inside, I looked under my seat and on the floor. All I found was an umbrella.

“Did I leave my phone on the counter?” I asked the cashier. Willing her to say, “Why yes, here it is.” But she didn’t. Where could it be?

A manager came by and offered to call my number from his phone. We listened, no ringing was heard. “Go back to your car and I’ll keep calling.” I rushed back to my car, but first I checked the parking lot where I’d parked earlier.

I opened the door and looked down. This time when I looked, relief flooded through my veins. It was wedged between the door post and the driver’s seat. It must have slipped out of the pocket of my jacket. I snatched it up and headed back into the store when it rang. It was the manager still trying to help me locate the phone. I answered and thanked him for helping.

My heart rate returned to normal, I was finally able to get back to my shopping. This time, when my hand brushed the pocket, I was reassured. My phone was where it should be.

Christmas Cookie

Yesterday was the perfect day to begin my holiday baking. The temperatures were frigid. The streets were glazed with ice.  There was no good reason to be out and about. The scent of cookies baking would be perfect.

Every year, I take five simple ingredients, sugar, flour, butter, eggs, and vanilla, and blend them together. The result is a Sandbakkel, a Norwegian sugar cookie. This cookie is part of my heritage. All generations of my family have made this cookie.  It is time consuming, but it is not Christmas until they are made.

Once the ingredients are measured and stirred together, you have to chill the dough to make it easier to press into the fluted tins.

These tins are waiting for the dough to be pressed in.

These tins are waiting for the dough to be pressed in.

Scoop out dough, use your thumbs to press it into the tin. You must be careful to press it evenly and not too thick.

The dough is pressed into the tins, ready to bake.

The dough is pressed into the tins, ready to bake.

Bake for fifteen minutes, then let them cool.

Golden cookies are cooling on the counter.

Golden cookies are cooling on the counter.

Once they are cooled you can lightly squeeze the tin and they should pop out. Sometimes the dough was too thin and the cookie shatters as if falls out.

Oh no! It broke, guess I'd better eat the evidence.

Oh no! It broke, guess I’d better eat the evidence.

Now the Christmas season can begin, the Sandbakkels are made.

Perfectly golden, buttery, and crisp, now all I need is a cup of coffee.

Perfectly golden, buttery, and crisp, now all I need is a cup of coffee.

The Best Surprise

The last few months, I get this panicked feeling every Monday evening. I sift through the events of my week looking for a nugget that might be of interest to someone. Thinking, how can I expand a moment into a blog worthy post? I don’t know what has happened, but my life seems to have slowed down. I work at my desk. I fix dinner. I watch TV while reading on-line and interacting via games on the internet in the evening. I go to bed. Repeat, day after day.

Where will my slice come from, I worry. Maybe I will skip this week, I think. But then I read slices and I find myself at the computer tapping out my thoughts. So once again, no thought of a slice until I read an email from Oprah titled 11 Things Every Woman Should Write Down Before the Year Ends. I clicked on the link, curious as to what every woman should write down and found my nugget for today. It was #8 The Best Surprise You’ve Ever Had. The caption under the title said, “There’s no better way to celebrate the rich, full life you’ve lived so far—and the big, bright future ahead—than telling your story.”

An example was given, a 40th birthday party. That brought back memories. I did have a fabulous 40th birthday party. It was a party that included a pina colada in a pineapple with a paper umbrella and hula dancing men wearing coconut bras. But that was not the best surprise ever.

Here is the best surprise, ever:

Mike, my husband, and I were on our way to a Ben Folds concert in June. We had purchased these tickets months before. We only knew Ben Folds from his role on the TV show The Sing-Off. Since we enjoyed his humor and comments, we decided to see what he would do in a live performance.

It was a Sunday, late afternoon, a time when my son might place his weekly call to me. Just as we were parallel parking, my phone rang with the unique ringtone indicating it was David. Since we were in the car, the phone went right to bluetooth, so we could both chat with David.

After a few minutes of chatting, catching up on everyday happenings David said, “I have something to tell you.” My heart dropped, those words often indicated that something was not right in his world. But the next two words were the best surprise ever. Words I didn’t ever think I would hear. “Allie’s pregnant.”

The feeling of worry and dread exploded into joy that cannot be described. We had a baby coming into our life! I cannot wait for this baby girl to arrive! (due date: Jan. 1) So here’s to the big, bright future ahead as our family grows. :-)


Pausing This Morning

I cracked one eye open, the window was still dark. I gratefully closed that eye, did an internal sigh of contentment, and settled back into the bed, pulling the blanket just a bit closer. Today I don’t have to get up. Today I can enjoy the softness and warmth of the bed a few minutes longer. Tomorrow I can’t.

Outside was brittle cold. Record lows were noted for the record books. I knew I had a busy day ahead, but I had the luxury of setting my own time schedule. I was in no hurry to begin. Twenty minutes later, the sun was just making its presence known. It was time to get the day started, but I smiled as I thought of the extra few minutes I could take today.

Those moments used to be a rare happening. Busy family life always kept everyone on a frantic pace. Now, there is less family in the house. The pace has slowed. There are more quiet moments now. I enjoy the quiet, but yet I miss the earlier life too.

The Difference in a Day

How much difference can there be in just one day? Here’s my answer to that . . .

Yesterday: I began the day with long sleeves and long pants, but by noon I changed into short sleeves, capris, and barefoot.

Today: Layers are needed, warm fleece, soft knits that hug, and cozy socks.

Yesterday: Bright blue skies, winds that played with the leaves still clutching their branches.

Today: Gray skies, dampness that chills, winds that howl.

Yesterday: Lounging on the patio, savoring the warming rays of sunshine while enjoying the final pages of a book, iced tea at hand.

Today: Barricaded in my office, a small space heater to take the chill off, steaming coffee at hand.

Yesterday: During the night, a sheet for a cover, occasionally tossed aside.

Tonight: A fleece blanket will be tucked close to my chin trapping the warmth.

It seems that winter has announced he is back and plans to stay for quite a while. Sigh . . . one day makes a difference.


Creation of a List

A few weeks back I received notice from Twitter that I was mentioned in a tweet. Of course, I immediately was curious because I am a wish-I-could understand-Twitter-and-use-it-more-but-I-don’t kind of Twitterer. Terje (Just for a Month) had tossed a challenge my way. Create a list of 100 things I am grateful for. Whew, that’s a lot, but I let the idea simmer in my mind. Then last week Jaana (Jaana’s Writing Blog) created and delivered her list. I knew I had to get started. So here is my list of 100 things I am grateful for:


  1. my husband
  2. my son
  3. a daughter-in-law
  4. a granddaughter
  5. a granddaughter waiting to be born
  6. family near and far
  7. friends near
  8. friends from long ago
  9. a comfortable home
  10. a teaching career
  11. connections through blogging
  12. opportunities for learning
  13. Friends of the Library sale
  14. good health
  15. time to savor life
  16. ocean cruises
  17. wandering
  18. pizza
  19. scarves
  20. picture books
  21. a comfortable car to travel in
  22. sunshine
  23. awesome neighbors
  24. road trips
  25. having an office for my “stuff”
  26. professional books
  27. a son who usually calls weekly
  28. grilled cheese
  29. camera in my phone
  30. nieces and nephews
  31. blue cheese
  32. work colleagues
  33. toasty fires
  34. Italian cream cake
  35. visiting family
  36. new recipes to try
  37. Draw Something friends
  38. iPad with photos
  39. key lime pie concretes at Andy’s Frozen Custard in July
  40. biking
  41. Thanksgiving with family
  42. cousins who cook fabulous dinners (yes, that is you Phillip)
  43. eating out
  44. pumpkin food in the fall
  45. mail
  46. bright colors
  47. husband who keeps everything clean
  48. coffee with friends
  49. some time alone (not a lot)
  50. meeting slicers (17 so far)
  51. anything with coconut
  52. a great teacher retirement system
  53. fuzzy lined moccasin slippers
  54. granite counter tops
  55. comfortable patio furniture where I can read and enjoy sunshine
  56. heated seats in cars
  57. internet connection
  58. surprises
  59. discovering nature’s wonder
  60. bead stores
  61. bead stores with a sale
  62. blog comments
  63. Pandora
  64. Christmas celebrations
  65. diet cherry Dr. Pepper
  66. just picked peaches
  67. pedicures
  68. river cruises
  69. hamburgers
  70. freedoms of our country
  71. down pillows
  72. watermelon in summer
  73. computer techs
  74. teachers who want to learn
  75. pasta meals
  76. juicy berries
  77. cups that don’t sweat
  78. taking my mom out for a meal
  79. on-line shopping
  80. ice cream
  81. hot running water
  82. bookstores
  83. cozy comforters
  84. NCIS reruns (love Gibbs)
  85. Instagram
  86. changing seasons
  87. finding bargains
  88. garden tomatoes
  89. crispy bacon
  90. getting into a sun-warmed car on a cold day
  91. dark chocolate
  92. fleece vests
  93. appliances that make life easier
  94. snow days
  95. snow blower
  96. ice makers
  97. fingerless gloves to keep my hands warm when I type
  98. friendly smiles
  99. All Write Conference
  100. a husband who helped me get to 100 items when my brain shut down


If you made it all the way to the end, I congratulate you. Now I challenge you to develop your own list. :-)