Posts Tagged With: hot chocolate

 
 

Mugging It for the Camera

Friday Letter to my Kids – March 20, 2015 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

A solid, deep blue basic. My go to mug.

A solid, deep blue basic. My go to mug.

I went through a kitchen cupboard this week in my continuing efforts to downsize, declutter and dejunk. I also sorted and organized one of the messier drawers since Dad couldn’t find a twist tie and I knew we owned at least a thousand of them. What a tidy drawer the plastic bags and foil and waxed paper have to live in now.

In my defense, most of what resides behind those closed doors and drawers exists for those mythical and rare times when the entire family gets together. Your Dad and I only need a few of everything, even on our wildest cooking days. But when it’s time to fondue, or holiday dinner or family barbecue then we need more than a dozen plates, a zillion drinking glasses, multiple forks and knives, myriad amounts of pans and bowls. But for the other 361 days of the year we have far too many things in our cupboards.

Might be a collector?

Might be a collector?

This particular cupboard received a comment probably half a year ago. Something having to do with owning more glasses and mugs than a small nation needs. It’s true. Between the glass cups I prefer and the blue plastic ones Dad likes, the sippy cups for the littles, and all the other odd mismatched ones it’s an overabundance of drinking paraphernalia. That doesn’t even include the mugs and teacups.

I pulled all the mugs out of the cupboard first. Ah, such fun memories. I have a bit of a collection, one that could be on display except that it’s not classy like china. Granted it isn’t a shot glass collection, or salt and pepper shakers from around the world. It’s just a small taste of my past life. I admit I’m a bit of a hot chocolate fiend. Having the perfect mug that fits my mood when I mix the elixir simply adds to the pleasure of the experience.

I though if I paraded my mugs perhaps it’d help me decide which ones to let go. Maybe you want to claim one or two for yourselves. I think a couple actually belong to you guys. Let me know. I’m happy to pass them on to a new life.

I have a few more around the house that became pencil holders when the handle broke or the lip chipped. A purple Venus, a silver snowflake, a blue speckled tin. I can’t seem to let things go. isn’t that weird? I think so.

There’s some history in these mugs. Lots of cold mornings with a steaming cup of cider. Some snowy afternoons with hot chocolate to thaw your toes from the inside. Plenty of sick days with Russian Tea warming the mug and soothing your throat. It’s been fun looking at them with you.

You know, it’s not the mugs I’m hanging onto so much as it is the memories. Seems like that’s what it all really comes down to in most decisions. People, not things.

Love you all,

Mom

~~~~~

“Hot chocolate is like a hug from the inside.”

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Categories: Family, Friday Letter to My Kids, Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chocolate Love

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful for Chocolate! What food group better addresses my emotional needs? None.

If decadence had a flavor it’d be chocolate. Don’t you agree?

You know, it is American Chocolate Week here in the United States, March 16-22. Not that I find American chocolate all that amazing, it’s not really one of our strong points. I think of it more as a holiday wherein Americans celebrate chocolate’s wonders, magic and joys.

Nothing else warms me quite like a cup of Hot Chocolate with hazelnut.

Hot Chocolate with hazelnut. Ahhh.

Chocolate can gentle me awake on especially groggy mornings. Hot, in a mug, with a dash of hazelnut and cream, its soothing heat penetrates and slowly shakes the Sandman’s dust from my brain. Once a daily ritual, it’s now become seldom, more special in its rarity.

I’ve experienced chocolate in a main dish, which is surprisingly not as weird as you’d think. A Mexican wonder of rich spice and complex flavors, Mole adds an interesting twist to an often overtired food genre.

Has anything escaped being dipped in chocolate? I think not.

What a messy treat!

What a messy treat!

From my earliest memories of a chocolate dipped soft serve ice-cream cone, to my more recent love affair with chocolate covered cinnamon bears, I can only conclude that everything’s better dipped in chocolate. Cookies, cake, apples, pretzels, strawberries, pineapple, caramel, nuts, cherries, marshmallows all reach their natural order of perfection when joined by chocolate. Did I mention coconut? I should have mentioned coconut. Now I have.

I suppose carrots and celery might not mix well with the creamy succulence of chocolate, but pretty much anything else ramps up a notch by pairing off with a bit of the creamy perfection of melted chocolate.

Give me a box of chocolates and I’m your friend for life. Seriously. Keep in mind that I prefer milk chocolate to dark, unless mint gets involved. A box with a map included for navigating the hidden treasures beneath the twists and twirls and peaks of chocolate gift wrapping will make my heart go all a flutter.

Mmmm, Manna.

Mmmm, Manna.

A chocolate factory in Phoenix creates what our family refers to as “manna,” also known as “the food of the Gods.” Cerreta’s turns the standard chocolate mint on its head by encasing a delightfully rich truffle in a blanket of green-mint-melt-in-your-hand-before-it-gets-to-your-mouth white chocolate. Oh my Hannah! You have to try one. Worth every penny you invest in them. I can make one last a good ten minutes by taking teeny bites and letting them simply sit on my tongue, becoming one with my taste buds, serenading my mouth. Another thin sliver of a bite slips over my lips, one after another, until ten minutes later, I’m finally, blissfully, practically in heaven. Mmm. One is enough for a while.

The only thing close to Cerreta’s perfection is a Lindor truffle. The centers of those playful round orbs of Swiss chocolate seem nearly liquid.  Just thinking about it makes me salivate. I figure Switzerland must be one of the happiest places on earth if it can produce such wonders and others like them.

I may need to make a chocolate run here any minute now.

Up close and personal with Texas sheet cake.

Up close and personal with Texas sheet cake.

Other favorites include the infamous Texas Sheet cake, which is mostly butter with some chocolate and sugar added for good measure. I can make myself content with any chocolate enhanced slice of cheesecake. Pour some ganache on a dessert and resistance is futile.

MSH will occasionally arrive home from some errand and quietly slip a Cadbury fruit and nut bar onto my nightstand. I won’t see it until I’m tucking in for the night. Like an unexpected kiss, I feel cherished and known and cared for by such a gesture.

Sometimes the small things bring a smile, turning the corners of my mouth northward.  Sometimes it’s the sticky, lick your fingers kind of things that make me grin. Today it’s both.

Categories: Food, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Small Things That Get Us Through

The last four months of last year I was working two part-time jobs.  Added up to about fifty or sixty hours a week.  They were physically demanding, on my feet for much of it.  A lot of lifting and carrying involved.  The exhaustion was formidable.  After all, I’m not a spring chicken, as my dad used to say.  There were days when simply getting out of bed seemed like a major accomplishment.

One of the jobs, in particular, was the sort of position that  can make a person feel invisible and maybe even small.  There are a few jobs out there like that.  I’ve had a few of them over the years.

There are advantages to that invisibility.  Being disappeared allowed me to observe with unabashed curiosity and clarity.  I watched all sorts of interactions between people that I filed away for future inclusion in a short story or a scene in a novel.

Most of the time I didn’t mind not being noticed.  I was doing my job, which, if I didn’t would be noticed and create some big problems.  Maybe that’s the way most jobs are.

Occasionally, a tough day would rear its ugly head and getting through the first job of the day was discouraging and weightier than normal.  Moods can do that to me.  On just such a day, nearing the holidays, I was the recipient of a gift.

I’m sure that the gift giver didn’t realize how significant her gift was.  I’m sure she didn’t even consider it a gift.  She’d be shocked if she knew I thought of that gift a year later, that I still have the package the gift came in.

Here’s what it looked like:

Yes, she offered me a cup of hot chocolate in this very cup, which I’ve kept.

Suddenly I wasn’t a disappeared person.  I was me, a fellow human being, like her, just trying to get through the day.  The invisibility cloak slipped off my head and fell to the floor around me.  I felt cared about.

Somewhere in the universe, some cog clicked into place that settled some ache in my heart that day.  I felt lighter.  I felt lifted.  I felt love.

Her gift to me was more than hot chocolate.  It was acknowledgment, personhood, a hand of kindness, recognition, friendliness, caring.

Reminds me of this quote:

I can do no great things, only small things with great love.“
– Mother Teresa

Here’s wishing  you a month filled with small things, received and given.

Have you had anything like this happen to you?  What was the gift?  How did it help you? I’d love to hear about it.

Categories: Gratitude, Love | Tags: , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

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