OK in a Box

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Last week I received a package in the mail from the folks at OK in a Box. What a treat! This is a new company offering a selection of made in Oklahoma items mailed to your house monthly.

Here’s what was in the first box:

  • Gourmet Apple Spread from Southern Okie in Edmond
  • Cinnamon Sugar Pecans from Valley View Pecan Company in Shawnee
  • Spunky Spuds! Seasoning Mix and Holey Guacamole! Seasoning Mix from Maria Rae’s in Enid
  • Onion and Garlic Instant Meat Marinade by Daddy Hinkle’s in Cleveland

I had never tried any of these before so it was all an adventure. So far I have tried the pecans, which are 100% delicious and addictive, and the apple spread (also wonderful). There are lots of ways you could incorporate either of those into a recipe and one thing I did was top some slow cooked steel cut oats with both the pecans and apple spread. Oh my lands, was it ever good.

Right now I have some guacamole waiting to be tried at lunch time. I would have had it before now but my avocados were taking forever to ripen, which of course only happens when I want to make guacamole immediately. I’ll be using the marinade for dinner later this week on either steaks or a roast of some kind…maybe a pork loin? Still thinking that over. Whichever one I choose, it’ll be paired with seasoned potatoes and I’ll come to tell you how those things taste.

You all know how much I love Oklahoma, so I was thrilled to get to check out one of these boxes. I think it’s a great gift idea (Christmas is 7 weeks away!), especially if you have family or friends that no longer live in the state (it can be mailed anywhere in the US!), or know someone like my New York pal, Jolene, who has come to love the place during her many visits.

This is exciting! OK in a Box has kindly offered $10 off your first order to any of my readers who subscribe using this link. Let me know what you think! You can also find them on Facebook.

OK in a Box provided me with a free box of goodies in exchange for a review. All opinions are mine.

Folk Tale

When I was a little girl, I was fascinated with an everyday item that for the most part goes unnoticed — my granny’s living room wall calendar. It hung next to Paw Paw’s chair, right above the end table. It wasn’t just any wall calendar with puppies or kittens or scenic views. This one featured 12 different folk art paintings by artist Linda Nelson Stocks. Every one of those paintings was incredibly detailed and for a child it was fun to find some of the tiny items tucked into the corners. A cat peeking around a corner, a woman hanging laundry up on a hillside, a tiny orchard off in the distance.

My favorite thing to do when the year was over was to take the calendar and sit with it, looking at the pictures and making up stories to go along with the characters in the print. There were always an abundance of them to choose from in the paintings and often I would pick something like a girl walking away from a farmhouse, pail in hand, headed up the hill to fetch water from the well. Looking back, the imagining I did in the middle of these calendars was one of the first steps down a road to writing.

When I moved into my own house and Granny asked me what kind of calendar I’d like for Christmas (she used to always get each grandchild a calendar as a part of their Christmas, but I’m not sure any of the others still get one…leave it to me to cling to tradition), I knew exactly what I wanted. That was quite a few years ago now and every year since I’ve had the Linda Nelson Stocks calendar hanging in my kitchen.

Every year, one of my favorite pages to turn to was the month of October. It always has a number of different things going on in it — children in costume, owls, an occasional bat, and typically a big, bright moon. Oh, and lots and lots of pumpkins.

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You never know what you’re going to find in there!

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I was sad to hear when Linda Nelson Stocks passed away a few years ago. I believe the calendar for 2012 was the last one she completed and this year’s calendar was a collection of paintings used in previous years. Tomorrow, I’ll turn the page to November, my birth month. I looked ahead already and saw that the date on the painting is 1984. It makes me smile.

Disclaimer! That one teeny tiny link in this post is an affiliate link. So if you click through and purchase something on Amazon while you’re there I might make a penny or two.

Something I love

What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones. That’s the book. I read it either my junior or senior year of high school, though the reading level is much lower than that because at that point in my life I was feeling as if I had missed out on lots of children’s literature altogether (also one of the reasons that I took Children’s Literature this semester – I highly recommend it for anyone at OU). When I was a child I went straight from Bill Wallace to Mary Higgins Clark and never looked back. In the 6th grade I tested on a college reading level and I wasn’t reading any of the books on the teacher’s bookshelf. None of the books in the library looked interesting to me. The day I started 7th grade and got to visit the high school library for the first time was one of those days I will never forget.

Back to the subject at hand. I was buying children’s literature so that I could get caught up. At the time I was planning to be an elementary school teacher (if you want to know my major changes at OU, they go something like this: Elementary Education, Language Arts Education, and lastly, English-Writing) and you know, I needed to be prepared. So I picked this book up at the book fair. It is really, really good. I think children around the age of 12 should have this book or one like it as required reading. It’s about all sorts of family troubles that are just on the fringes of the story, because as a young girl, Sophie (the main character) doesn’t know all the details, but the point is that she does know that something is going on.

And then there is Murphy. The one I am posting this about. Murphy is a boy in Sophie’s class. Murphy isn’t the best looking kid, and Sophie knows she would get teased for hanging out with him…there’s more I could say, but I’ll just post the poem. Whether you were a Murphy or you loved one, I think you will understand.

Watching Murphy During Art Class
from What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones

He is so homely,
so downright ugly
that none of the girls
even think about him.

He’s too lowly,
too pitiful
to even bother
making fun of.

So something must be
very wrong with me,
because I want to kiss him.
I want to kiss him real bad,

even though his nose is crooked
and his ears are huge,
even though his hair’s a mess
and his lips are tight and scared.

I want to kiss away
those circles under his eyes
that make him look like
he’s never slept a second in his life.

And those arms of his
seem like they’re just aching
to hold on to someone.
I wish I could let them hold on to me.

When no one was looking,
I’d walk up to him
and say, “Hey, Murph.
Would it be okay if I kissed you?”

And he’d look hurt
because he’d think I was joking
and he’d turn away
to hide his face,

but I’d touch his shoulder and
look at him with gentle misty movie eyes
and say, “Come on. I mean it.
I really want to.”

And he’d look dumbstruck,
and all the gray
would fade out of his eyes
and this light would come into them

and his lips would look like
they were getting ready to smile and then,
before I had a chance to change my mind,
I’d kiss him.

And he’d wrap his skinniness around me
and his arms would be shaking,
and suddenly I’d feel all this love,
all this need pouring into me

right through his lips
into me
and it would feel great,
and I’d close my eyes to feel it better.

(Whoa.
I can’t believe
I’m having this fantasy about Murphy,
when I’m so totally in love with Dylan!)