Crunch

It was raining. My hood was up on my coat as I dashed to the car dodging the chilly raindrops. As quickly as possible I got into the car. Tools for my work today, clipboard and book, tossed into the passenger seat. Grab the phone, hit the button to call my husband. Bluetooth is dialing as I settled into my seat putting on my seat belt. He answered ready to chat with me as I drive to the school I am working in today. This is the morning routine we have followed when I work out of town for the past four years.

However, the routine changed as I am backing out of the parking place. CRUNCH! My heart stopped as I looked through the rear window. Red tail lights met my eyes. Oh, what has happened? I gasped, my husband said, “What’s the matter?”

“I’ll call you back, I think I backed into a truck.” I grabbed an umbrella and jumped out of the car. Oh no, my bumper is dented and a little bit on the trunk lid. The truck had no sign of my attack on it. The driver got out and said, “I saw you backing and hoped you saw me.”

“No, I didn’t see you.  I am so sorry.” (He was not in a parking place. He was perpendicular to parked cars.) He shrugged and said it’s okay. Then he got back into his truck and drove away. With a sick stomach I had to call my husband to tell him what has happened. I am so mad at myself, 110,000 miles with no incidents, now this. :(

A moment can change the course of a day, or even a life. No one was hurt and the damage was not catastrophic, but it does make me look a bit more carefully every time I start to back up.

Taste of Tradition

Holidays have their own taste requirements. What would Thanksgiving be without some form of pumpkin on the menu? Cookies are the dessert of choice when it comes to Christmas. Years ago (when I was younger) I would come home from school every day in December and prepare a batch of cookies each evening. Some days it would be two different kinds. I don’t mean your everyday kind of cookie either. No chocolate chip, peanut butter, or oatmeal for this season. These cookies were usually labor intensive and pretty. I didn’t mind because it was fun and I always had cookies available for friends dropping by. These days, I don’t make so many.

However, there is one cookie that is a requirement. It is a Norwegian cookie, sandbakkel (pronounced like sun buckle). This is a cookie that has been made for generations in our family. It is a simple butter cookie, but the dough is pressed into small tins, then baked. This is one of those cookies that takes extra work, but it is so worth it! I divide my tins into thirds so I can have one set in the oven baking, one set cooling on the counter, and the final set getting dough put into the tins. The tricky part is getting them out of the tins (oh shucks, it broke, guess I have to eat it). Once these have been baked, I know the season is here.

Party mix is another must have for December. Usually it is made the first weekend of December, but not this year. However, it did get made, just later.

It takes three boxes of Chex cereal, only rice and corn (wheat gets too tough), a bag of pretzels (prefer sticks), a box of Cheez-its, a container of mixed nuts without peanuts, and a container of cashews (both nuts from Costco). Of course it can only be made with butter (no Parkay here).

I find the largest container in the pantry to hold all the dry ingredients. Mix and toss, now the process begins. Melt the butter, stir in the seasoned salt, and worcestershire sauce. Pour it over a bowlful of mix, pop it in the microwave for two minutes. Stir, the tang of the worcestershire sauce tickles my nose and makes my eyes water. Back to the microwave for another two minutes. Stir again, more watering eyes. Two minutes to go. Lay out a layer of newspaper covered by paper towels. Ding goes the microwave. Spread the mix onto the paper towels to cool. This process is repeated over and over until the last batch has been prepared. Eager hands are ready to scoop up the mix. Crunch, crunch, now I know Christmas is near.

"Can I have some now?"

My Homework Assignment

A long white envelope arrived address to Grandma and Grampa. It was thicker than previous envelopes received, so I was curious as I slit it open. This was several weeks after Halloween, so I thought perhaps it was a thank you for the box of goodies that had been sent for the holiday. But no, it was not a thank you. It was an assignment, for me, due by January.

Flat Stanley came tumbling out of the envelope full of questions about where he landed. He informed me that he wanted to go and see all the sites of our town and learn about the historical, geographical, and climate features of this part of the world. Plus, he insisted that I include a recipe to be included in a class cookbook. Sigh . . . you will just have to wait Stanley. I don’t have time right now to take you on a whirlwind journey of our town. But I promise we will do this before Christmas. So he sat patiently on the desk waiting for his turn.

Last week it was his turn to see some sites. We went to Bass Pro Shops where he was nearly mauled by a grizzly bear. Next, we headed over to a chocolate factory. MMMM that smelled really good! He got a close look at how they  make chocolate hazelnut spread. It was hard to get him out of there. Then we took a ride down Route 66 and stopped at a civil war battlefield. Finally, he got a look at the ball field where a farm team for the St. Louis Cardinals play.

The leg work of the assignment was completed, now for the report. Sigh .  .  .  pictures to download, copy, paste, crop, with a narrative explaining each. (Personally I am thankful for Wikipedia for a quick check of facts.) Check, another portion of the assignment is complete.

Last of all, a recipe, hmmmmm . . . wonder what kind of recipe they want? No details were given, so I guess it’s my choice. Do I have one already on the computer, so all I have to do is print? Yup, sure do. Check that off the assignment list.

At long last my assignment is complete! The final task will be to deliver this to the granddaughter during Christmas break (I may even include a jar of that chocolate hazelnut spread). I am putting it into the suitcase as soon as I finish this. Do you think the teacher will accept, “My grandma forget my homework?” Somehow I doubt it.

Fun Times with the Girls

Four weeks ago, the date, time, and location was set for the girlfriends’ Christmas outing/party. Something to look forward to because it is an evening filled with good food, laughter, friendship, and best of all presents! The early weather forecast for our evening of fun was predicting snow/sleet, but fortunately that did not come through. It was cold (dare I say frigid?) but no precipitation interfered with our merriment.

I am the first to arrive to the restaurant. (side note: we are trying out a place none of us have ever been to, it’s a pizza place. What’s not to love about trying a new pizza place?) There is not a customer in this place. The sign says wait to be seated. I ask (being a smart aleck), “Are you sure you can find a spot for me?”

The waiter laughs, “We’ll do our best to squeeze you in.” Followed by, “Choose your seat, sit where ever you want.” I choose the table for six (so there is room for the presents, as I am carrying a big bag with three gifts and I know the others will have similar bags) as far away from the doors as possible.

The others are running late, so I have time to chat with the waiter (Nate) about the various aspects of their style of pizza and beverages that are available. I study the menu and know what my choices will be when we have all gathered.

Time passes, still I sit waiting and talking to Nate. Finally, I call Janay, “How far away are you?” I ask.

“Just pulling into the lot, I thought you were going to be late. We’ve just been driving around killing time,” she replies.

“Well, I was able to make it on time, and I’ve been sitting here waiting. I hope you will be able to find me.”

“Just jump up and down and wave.” (Remember this restaurant is EMPTY!) She walks in with Sister (no she is not a nun, but that would be another story). I am jumping up and down, waving my arms high above my head calling “Over here!” Of course she pretends she can’t find me, but finally makes her way to the table. They sit down and begin to peruse the menu, but first the beverage must be ordered. A pitcher is ordered, so all is right in the world.

We are waiting for the final member of our party when my phone rings and she says, “We are meeting in Quincy Magoos, right? Because that’s where I am.”

“Wrong, we are next door in Minsky’s.”

“Oh, be there in a minute,” she replies. As she walks in all three of us jump up, waving our arms so she can find us. (Restaurant is still empty, so we are not disturbing other diners.)

“It’s sure a lot busier next door,” she informs us.

Nate comes over, answers questions regarding menu and drink options. The order is placed without incident. (BTW someone else did come in for dinner.)

Salads are great! Fresh lettuce (no bag stuff) and veggies with dressing made at the restaurant. Pizza arrives shortly after the salads have been consumed. It’s a  just  right dinner for this night. Table is cleared and we are ready to get to the good stuff, presents!

The last one to arrive is first to hand out presents. We all have some of the same items from her, so we are to work our way through the gift bag together. The item on top is a fascinator (do you remember the head wear the cousin princesses wore to Kate and William’s wedding?). Janay and I have an incredibly sparkly martini glass affixed feathers and netting. Sister has a crushed beer can instead (beer is important). These are immediately donned and  there is even an extra one for the gift giver.

Stylish, don't you think?

The rest of the gifts from all were just what we needed. I now have an amaryllis plant (never had one before, but always wanted to try it), a handmade necklace, cool vase, homemade body lotion, hand-knitted fingerless gloves (love them! They keep my hands warm but yet allow me to type), several pairs of socks (all have a martini glass on them in some fashion, do you see a theme here?),  a bottle of champagne (it’s being chilled), and a pocket posh word power book (you may note my vocabulary may increase in future posts).

Nate has been summoned to take a group picture. Gifts are gathered, hugs all around, as we prepare to head for home.

As we leave the restaurant, the manager thanks us for entertaining them this evening. Good times, with good friends, what else is there to say?