A visit from the stroopwafel Santas

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my complicated relationship with Aldi and my very uncomplicated relationship with stroopwafels. The gist of that column was: stroopwafels rock and Aldi is growing on me.

A few days after publication, I received this very interesting email from a lady named Cindy Miller:

“I saw your recent story where you unveiled your search for stroopwafels! As luck would have it – I have Google alert set up for ‘stroopwafel,’ which is how your story came to my attention! I work with Daelman’s Stroopwafel (the original bakery from the Netherlands) and I shared with them your story and they’d like to send you some stroopwafels! Would you provide a good mailing address and perhaps the Stroopwafel Santas could send you a holiday gift!”

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Bad boy Hugo in the house

Hugo Baker trotted into the kitchen last night happy as a clam, carrying a Christmas ornament in his mouth he’d nicked off the tree.

“You are never going to believe this,” he said to Tilly. “There are wooden toys hanging all over the place in there.”

Ever since the tree (thanks, Heffelfinger Tree Farm!) went up on Sunday, Hugo has been there inspecting every new development. He’s sipped on the water. He’s chewed up bows on the gift boxes. He’s nosed the branches. And now, apparently, he had sampled an ornament, a beleaguered-looking lamb that William managed to rescue at the last minute.

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Getting to know Julia

It’s a new day in the Kaprowy/Baker kitchen, thanks to a renovation that has gifted us with a shiny new range.

I use the word “range” as if I’m fully in possession of it, though of course I’m not. I actually only learned that it refers to an oven/stove combo in the nine months we awaited its arrival. It was, alas, the final piece in our renovation project and I’ve been kind of sparring with this beautiful beast, whose name is Julia, ever since.

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Nutty for nutcrackers

Isn’t it fun how, if you live in a small town, just about anything constitutes an “errand” when you’re in the city? Like, “going to the mall” is part of your errand list even though you are headed to fun Sephora to get some new foundation (and eyeshadow and festive nail polish). “Going to The Summit” means you are either shopping or eating and maybe stopping at Whole Foods, which, I’ll grant you, is errand-like, except of course you have to treat yourself to a cookie because the cookies are so good there and maybe you’ll have a slice of pizza there too because aren’t you allowed to eat when you’re so busy running errands?

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The Western Barbie wink

Debbie was the name of my Barbie growing up. I thought it the most gorgeous name in the world, unless I had just watched an episode of “The Love Boat,” in which case I invariably considered switching Debbie’s name to Vicki.

I’ve been thinking about Debbie this week as I prepare my Christmas list for my friends’ kids. Every year, I research the hottest toys. And every year, I miss the ones I had when I was a kid.

Debbie was a Western-style Barbie, which meant she came with a cowboy hat, cowboy boots and a white satin outfit nearly buzzing with fringe. On her back, she had a button that, if pressed, made Debbie wink. And what accentuated her wink? Her violently blue eyeshadow, of course.

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I knew I had a problem last March when I was looking for something to watch on Netflix and settled into a movie with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 25 percent simply because it was about Christmas. Around June, I’d started to feel constantly fidgety, looking for a reason — any reason — to make shortbread. On Sept. 1, I hummed loudly when I turned the page on our Boston terrier calendar and hurried to T.J. Maxx to see whether they had any red and green decorations out yet.

So, that’s it. I’ve become a year-round Christmas person. I don’t know if the pandemic did it to me or what, but I basically only want it to be December all the time.

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Making the cut

After a month-long break, I’m back! For those of you who didn’t notice, I get it. For those of you who did (and missed me), I love you completely!

I’m happy to report that I did make the cut for The Ubergroup, the private online literature critique group for which I’ve been trying out. And it was intense. We had lengthy weekly homework assignments, we were assessed on the critiques we gave each other (there were seven of us in the trial group), and we were expected to participate heavily and poignantly in a discussion forum about everything from synopses to competitive titles to outlines.

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What a faker

Last week, I went back to school. Kind of.

I’ve been selected to be a part of a private fiction critique group on a trial basis, so for the next six weeks, I’ll be critiquing the work of six other members and hoping my critiques are useful enough to earn me a permanent invitation.

Bored already? Yeah, I get it. Don’t worry, I won’t be talking about critiquing fiction.

But I’ll tell ya, I had forgotten what it’s like to enter a new academic-style setting. And all of the feelings that go along with that.

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