The Real Thing: Hot Cocoa Jars

February 10, 2014 § 2 Comments

A friend of mine came over for dinner last week—let’s call her “Friend”—and brought these craftily assembled jars of hot chocolate mix. What a fantastic idea! I will make these next year for stocking stuffers. (I always have an easy time resolving to make crafts months in advance.)

      Cocoa powder; sugar; dark chocolate chips & marshmallows

      Cocoa powder; sugar; dark chocolate chips & marshmallows

After Friend left, I pilfered a marshmallow, but realized that these mixes were obviously party favors from a fete that took place quite a while back. I know this because the marshmallows are hard as bits of ivory. As you can see, the tag says, “Thank you for celebrating Patti’s 60th!” I’m sure Patti is at least 63 by now.

However, this is my fault. First, because I put off Friend’s visit for a long time, as it is hard to make social plans with Max. That said, I don’t think the marshmallows would have been much softer back in December. No, no: my culpability really lies in the fact that I served Friend a packet of diet cocoa one day last fall. The cocoa was a relic from the days when both of us were trying too hard to be too thin. I thought maybe she was still in that mindset, and wouldn’t want the real stuff, which is what I made for myself (guiltily, I didn’t tell her about the distinction). I tried a sip of hers when she left the mug unfinished and winced at that tinny flavor of aspartame. When she left, I threw away the remaining packets, realizing that they were not fit for anyone other than a hard-suffering anorexic… except, perhaps, someone without taste buds.

I’m not sure if Friend gave me these hot cocoa jars because she doesn’t want them in her house—she is still quite lithe—or because she genuinely felt I needed a hot chocolate intervention, which would be true if I were still hoarding Diet Swiss Miss. But even if I never actually constitute these Ball jars into a pot of cocoa, they’re lovely to look at. At this late date, they may be best suited just for looking. Then again, pebbly marshmallows are imminently re constitute-able. After all, isn’t that how we moved away from fresh cocoa into the packet industry to begin with? Well, I say we move out again, real sugar and all. And Happy Belated Birthday, to you, Patti, whoever you are!

succulent pumpkins

November 8, 2013 § 1 Comment


I’m not a crafty gal. I envy people who amass DIY projects and execute them with precision. I’m the improvising sort: I treat all recipes as blueprints and am practically incapable of following directions. For example, I once  assembled an IKEA table of which I was quite proud. Christopher waited a few hours to show me that the legs were screwed on backwards, exposing protruding bolts.

But, I think there may be hope, if only because I have such fond memories of elementary school art class. Guess what our teacher’s name was? Art! It really was. And we got to call her that, because it was Montessori school. But even as a grown up–perhaps especially as a grown up–it’s a wonderful experience to get lost in a project: time goes by  quickly and you almost always feel rewarded at the end. As a general rule, I think, people like the way their own art looks. You know, the way men like to smell their own farts or kids like to play musical instruments. These things may be (ob)noxious to others, but we tend to like our own productions.

Wedding cards

Back in September, around the time that I realized it was insane for me to plan a trip to Nantucket in my 9th month of pregnancy, I went to visit my dear friend Kinnon in Boston. As it began to dawn on me that I wouldn’t be able to attend her wedding on November 2nd, I told her I wished we could do something together to celebrate. To which she replied, “We can make place cards!” So, we spent a lovely afternoon penning and stamping and tying gift bags with string. It was so peaceful. It made me wish I were a craftier gal.

These little succulent pumpkins seem like a thing I can do to pass a fall afternoon. They’re also low-maintenance Thanksgiving decoration that can turn into something else for the rest of the year when the pumpkins rot and a new pot beckons (maybe gold-leafed terra-cotta pots…double craftiness!!) And I love the idea of getting dirty to make something lovely at the end.

Special thanks to Lauren at LuxHappens for letting me use her photo.

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