February 14, 2017
Oh, the good advice we forget and forget and forget again. The things that cajole us out of a funk, that dust us off and yank us to our feet, that make life sweet again. Mum’s wisdom, your best friend’s sage counsel, the oldest of chestnuts. Sleep on it, take a walk, you need a rest, have a cup of tea, sit, breathe, just do your best and for goodness’ sake stop beating yourself up. You know the ones, don’t you? And yet, we forget.
I have a decent handful of these chestnuts, these tricks, for applying when the going gets murky and mucky. The remedial cup of tea is usually the first to be administered. But, like most of us, I’m really great at forgetting the things that are good for me when I am neck-deep in self-doubt and loathing. Of all the great tips I forget – taking a short break is a favourite.
February 8, 2017
We’ve been waking up to snow all week. This island on the west coast doesn’t get a lot of snowy days, and even though this winter has been colder and snowier than most, it’s still enough of a novelty that snowy wake-ups are awe-filled moments. Norman Rockwell moments, as DH put it this morning, watching Little e and The Tiger leaning on the back of the couch, heads together as they gazed out the window.
Last week also marked something I’ve been waiting for for over two years. Back then I started work on an old novel idea, reworking it for an older age group, and it morphed into a huge project, much bigger than my other two novels. It also took much longer to complete (something to do with now having two kids and house, I imagine). But finally, FINALLY, it went out to find a publishing home last week. Pushing art out of your life and into others’ can be terrifying, but this time, maybe because it seems to have taken so long (though I’m aware two years is not that long for a novel), I’m just relieved and excited.
Maybe nothing will happen. Maybe it will all be no, thank you. It’s not like I haven’t dealt with that before. But another voice says: who cares? It’s done. It’s out there. I did it. The feeling of achievement, the elation at having taken one sentence and grown it into a collection of thousands that make up a story that matters, is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. On par with childbirth (maybe because it’s just another kind of birth). It’s floating and warm and grounding all at the same time. It’s yes.
So in celebration and affirmation, I naturally looked up yummy things to be made with our abundance of snow, and I came across one for frozen hot chocolate.
Snow Hot Chocolate
Adapted from this recipe
(makes about six full cups of snow hot chocolate)
10 oz good quality chocolate, chopped (or choc chips)
6 tsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
Melt the chocolate slowly over low heat (or in the microwave if you’re good at that), then add a little of the milk and the cocoa powder and whisk into a smooth, runny sauce. Add the rest of the milk and whisk until combined. Chill in the fridge until cold. Whip the cream either by hand with a whisk or with a machine, adding a little sugar if you like a bit sweet. Collect a large bowlful of fresh (and clean) snow–I’d estimate my bowl held ten cups or so–once the chocolate mixture is chilled. Scoop a cup of snow into as many mugs or teacups as you’re using and then pour the chocolate mixture over, just enough to wet the snow. It will shrink down and look like the snow is absorbing the liquid; stir until you have a chocolate slushie. You can add a bit more chocolate sauce if you like it less solid. Dollop with whipped cream–and chocolate shavings if you feel so inclined. Eat with spoons or drink from straws. Expect that you’ll want a second serving.
So here’s to sweetness, now and in the future, both creative and culinary.
January 31, 2017
Someone around here is about to turn one. ONE! *sob* While I will try to restrain the feels from spilling out all over the place I cannot make any promises. Our last and tiniest poppet is no longer so tiny. Last weekend, in advance, we celebrated the big day with balloons, a weight of party food and plenty of cake.
Despite my deep and unwavering love of cake, cake making has not always been a forte. For B1’s first birthday a neighbour made her an incredible multi-layer cake covered in fondant flowers and ladybugs. For B2’s first birthday I ordered a sprinkles / 100’s + 1000’s covered number from Pasticceria Papa. Both delicious and beautiful, but neither homemade. So, with a bit of trepidation, I decided to make B3’s first birthday cake myself. Give it a whirl, as they say. Besides, I’m not a complete novice (see here and here) and I’m much older and wiser these days. Errr….yes. You know where this story is going – the night before the party I completely botched the cake. Disaster.
January 26, 2017
It’s that time of year again…yes, the time when the year’s new books start to be released into the world and I wonder how much more space I can find on my already double-stacked book shelves. I have way more books than I can read in a year. Probably in decade. Let’s face it, in a lifetime, if I include the rate of new books coming in, making the official to-read list pretty ridiculous.
Nevertheless, I’m offering a short list of books I’m most looking forward to this year, though this roundup will be out of date as soon as the nest wave of releases arrives and I’m oohing and ahhing over those. It just never ends—and thank goodness for that.
First, of course, a novel for children—you know my inclination—about bring curious, and also dinosaurs. I’ve loved the story of Mary Anning discovering fossils near her home in England since I first heard it when I was a kid, and now it’s going to be a novel. Yippee! I’ll be buying a copy for Little e. And myself, of course.
January 18, 2017
And just like that…Christmas was gone.
I don’t know about you but I’m still getting used to dating things ‘2017’. As keen as I was to see the back of 2016 it does seem a bit discombobulating that we are suddenly in a new year. On top of that, our baby has transformed into an almost-one -year-old. Crawling, giggling, standing, toothed. I’m no longer able to turn my back – she’s fast, determined and adventurous; hell-bent on climbing any stair, stool or incline, getting through any gate or small gap. This darling girl is our last baby. And she’s not really a baby anymore. The thought makes me feel like someone used my chest as a gong.