You know what this is don't you? Cookie Boxes! A car full of yummmmm! Monday morning, bright and early, off those boxes and I went to the UPS store. I checked on line and found that the shop opens at 7:30am. Good! I was determined to be there right when it opened because for whatever reason, the process always takes forever.
I forgot to factor in things like school buses, drawbridges, tourists on Venice Ave and how dang long it takes to try my hair, but I did arrive early-ish. Okay, it was before 8. So it wasn't first thing, but it was at least second. It counts. There were already two people in line ahead of me. No worries. It takes multiple trips to bring everything in from the car anyway. Surely, by the time that is done, at least one of the people ahead of me will have completed a transaction. Nope.
And we waited. Not exactly certain why we were waiting f, but we absolutely waited. With smiles on our faces and expectation in our hearts. Several people came in behind me and they also began to wait. We started having conversations amongst ourselves. "How was your Thanksgiving?" and "Where are you from?" And "are you a full-timer or a part-timer?" were some of the common queries. Those last two, by the way, "where are you from" and your time-status are probably the two most common questions asked by anyone here in any situation. As it turns out there are remarkably few people who live here who are originally from here.
It took a full half hour for the entire process, which may have kick-started a few friendships and the fellow behind the counter was very nice and extremely interested in the contents of the boxes. When he found out it was cookies his eyebrow zoomed up. "Oh you shouldn't have told me that" he said with a smile. "These boxes may never reach their destination" . I smiled politely and with steely eyes responded to him that I was sure he would not deny my children the cookies that their mother made for them. Perhaps my returning smile was not quite as pleasant as I thought it was because he immediately assured me that those boxes would absolutely end up where intended, contents intact. I nodded.
The lady behind me said, "I thought I smelled cookies and I couldn't figure out why!" I don't actually think it was the cookies in the boxes she was smelling I think it was me. I think after two days of doing nothing but baking, the sugar and spices have permeated my skin, my hair my pores, my very essence!
I believe I ended up making 14 different kinds of cookies this year. I was shooting for 15 but the last batch I made, I threw out. They were terrible. An experiment gone bad. They looked so pretty too. It was a dreadful disappointment.
Overall, it was probably my least successful cookie baking marathon ever. Which is a little perplexing. I've been baking (and cooking) with tremendous success for more than forty years. Before that I couldn't boil water with any guarantee that it would work out. But once I got the hang of baking in particular, I ran with it.
When my kids were babies, I made their babyfood. Yup no store bought chemical laden artificial anything for my tots! Nosiree! I made the breads we ate, be it loaves or buns or biscuits or muffins or donuts. I grew most of the vegetables we ate. And since we lived, at that time on a working farm, we "grew" the meat we ate too. I made jams and jellies, I canned dozens upon dozens upon dozens of jars of everything. And nearly every day I made a dessert of some sort. In short, I figured out how to cook and how to bake. It was on the job training in a big sort of way.
And nine hundred ninety-nine times out of a thousand, it turned out beautifully. My Christmas cookies this time, not so pretty. And I am not quite sure why. But it's a little embarassing. Hey, I have a reputation to uphold!
Actually I do know what part of the problem was. My oven was feeling moody. It's important to have a cooperative oven since different cookies bake at different temperatures and I was constantly adjusting that up or down for each batch. If the temperature needed to lower, I would open the oven door when I turned the dial down to hurry it along. If I was turning it up, I left the door closed. But during a batch I didn't expect to have to touch the dial at all. Then when things weren't browning quite as I expected at one point, I mentioned it to Tim. He tested the temperature in the oven and at first it was under what the dial said. Ok that would explain why some batches weren't browning right. The next time it checked it was over what the dial said. And that would explain the cookies that were a bit more done than they should have been. So the remainder of bakathon I was constantly checking the oven's internal temperature and adjusting. adjusting, adjusting. Slows me down, people. And when I am mid baking marathon, I do not appreciate anything slowing me down! ARGH!
Regardless, they seem to taste fine or so says my quality control guy (Tim) they just aren't the prettiest cookies I ever shipped. But I suppose as one of the boys once told me when their cookie shipment arrived with a few damaged gingerbread men, " the cookies taste the same whole or in pieces". I hope that is true once again.
The first of the shipment should arrive at their destination today. Another tomorrow and sadly, I think one won't be at the proper door until Monday!! Everyone knows the cookies are on their way, they know the expected date of arrival and hopefully the anticipation will improve the perceived perfection. This time around anyway.
Moving on today to putting up the tree. Hopefully that goes a bit more smoothly :)
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.