That's what this recipe was supposed to be. Easy.
I tried. I really did.
I didn't think it was possible to mess up---melt chocolate, pour, spread, etc.
Yet, I did.
With the three youngest children banging around the kitchen and the clock showing--late afternoon I should have seen that train coming from a mile away.
It all started on twitter. Mentions here and there about peppermint bark. Small comments. Others trying it.
I had to have some-and-quick. I would whip up a batch or two, or four, and give them as gifts and take them to see family and, and, and....
I pulled out the necessary pans. The chocolate and peppermint. I loved the idea of this so much because we could use dark chocolate and the white chocolate without all the gross stuff. Peppermint without the dyes and artificial flavoring. These were going to be delicious.
Then dodging two of the three children I filled the double boiler with chocolate and went to work. I spread the melted chocolate on the pan and only when I had finished this did I remember that I was supposed to add the cream and peppermint extract to the dark chocolate.
"Oh well, what's the difference?" I thought.
I proceeded to pour these items into the white chocolate and melt them together. All was going well I assumed. Until the white chocolate turned yellow. I'm pretty sure it wasn't supposed to do that.
More rambunctious children and now the littlest decided she wanted extra attention and I have a boiling mess of yellow chocolate fit for a laboratory.
I pick up my girl poured the second batch of chocolate one-handed onto the cookie sheets. Hoping for the best because really I had no other choice, and spread it out evenly-ish then dropped some peppermint on and shoved the whole thing into the fridge.
I'll tell you that hot liquid chocolate may not be the best time to have the children bounding around the stove. Nope. It is not.
Most of the time I have one to four children around whenever crafting or baking. It just seems to work that way. Unless they are in bed, they sense mama is up to something and they are magnetically drawn to me and whatever I'm doing. Usually, I'm prepared for this. This day, I was not.
I tossed the dishes in the sink and sat down frustrated. That was supposed to be easy. Easy. (The very word that I will now be on the lookout for---tricky trickster that it is). No one else mentioned any difficulty. Theirs came out perfectly. And, delicious.
An hour later we took a chance and tried some after dinner. The surprise was that it tasted pretty good. Almost edible. The problem began two minutes later when it hit the air and it all turned gooey on top. GOOEY. That is no exaggeration.
In fact, if you look at the above photo again I think you will see it.
My family ate it of course. We thought the "peppermint mess", as I have delightfully re-named it, could be stirred into some ice cream and wouldn't that be good? If not a-bit-too-sweet.
Note to Self::
*One might need to read the recipe, regardless of how easy it seems, at least the first time.
*Working with Hot Liquid Chocolate may be better when the children are in school. Or the little one is napping. Or it's not late afternoon when everyone here seems inherently grumpy. Yeah, I'm talking to you mama.
* Try this recipe again, because who knows, next time it might work.
Any recipe mishaps for you this season?
My girlie had her first handmade market debut two weekends ago. The annual holiday fair at school. She's been determined to do this for over a year. Absolutely set on pursuing this dream.
It happened a few summers ago when we sat side by side in front of my mother's Elna sewing machine teaching her the basics and letting her press the pedal and send the machine whirling through the fabric she had chosen.
The smile on her face and the learning she did in that first summer were immeasurable. I, the teacher, wanted her to know the basics, the stitches, the way the machine worked. How to thread the machine and how to finish it off when done. She bore this beautifully, in fact she seemed to absorb everything I had to teach her about sewing on a machine.
Then, she was on her own. My fabric stash at her fingertips. Yet another opportunity for me to let go. To appreciate the thoughts running through my head. "Oh, I was going to use that fabric" or "That one is supposed to be a...." or "No. That I'm saving for..". To hear those thoughts and struggle to breathe and say, "Yes, you may use whatever you wish".
To recognize the girl in me that loved when my own mother had said those same words to me. To be less concerned about what all the fabric WAS going to be and more interested in what the fabric COULD BE now.
She started slow, tentative. Reluctant to push the machine very fast more comfortable to amble along stitch by stitch. Today? Well, that girl can fly is all I'm saying.
So with the Winter Faire approaching she and another friend spent days together side by side sewing for their stand. One sewing bracelets. One sewing bags. Both happy to be doing something on their own yet willing to ask questions when they were stuck.
For me it was delightful. Freeing. Beautiful. My girl sailing through the fabric stash, ever respectful and helping me breathe and let go...breathe and let go.
My child as my teacher, again.
And so she did. She made 86 bracelets to be exact. There may have been a few days at the end that required some reinforcements. A late night "ribbon stitcher" along with the big daddy as head "button guy".
There were looks across the room at one another with this daughter of ours, head down, sewing in the middle. Smiles were passed and looks of awe. Her tenacity. Her drive to create something and follow through.
Her label---completely her design and idea. Of course, this enchanted mama deemed it just the right name for her.
Then, the big weekend happened. She rose to the occasion. She smiled. She answered questions. She stood on her feet for hours at a time experiencing "retail". A challenge at best.
The weekend flew by and then she packed up her bracelets. Tired but excited about her first foray into the handmade world.
She sold quite a few. She still has some left. She wants to do it again.
I know as her mama that more than anything it was a success. She set the goal, pursued the goal and learned a few things in the process. As much as I would have loved to tell her all about "my retail experience" I tried to let her learn in her own way. Knowing it's better that way.
So I learn to let go of the very children I want to protect and hold so tight. Recognizing that every time I do they are able to fly more freely.
I believe that in the end I will have learned more from my children than I ever could have taught them myself.
For now I will smile at my own bracelet, that was made "just for me", from my girlie and love her even more than I did yesterday.
Over the mountain and through the woods we went to find our Christmas Tree.
It's become an annual adventure. This year I was unsure if we would make it due to the "back situation" with the big daddy. Mostly because he's the one who hikes, cuts and carries the tree down.
With a bit of re-figuring and the help of the older children we found, cut and put the tree on a sled all the way down the mountain. New tradition perhaps?
We arrived at the site and found that we were the only ones there. It's extremely quiet in the forest when there isn't a soul around. So we hiked, hauled the sled, and wound our way up the mountain.
The big daddy right away found what he thought would be our tree. Think Dr. Seuss....Long trunk big bunch of pine needles on top. It really did look like something Dr. Seuss would have drawn.
Uuh-hum, it didn't come home with us though.
After hiking for about an hour we found two trees that we liked. We all sat down in the snow to admire one and see if this was the one to come home with us.
Now, I'll tell you our littlest one loves to shake her head "NO". The Big Daddy decided to ask her if this was our tree. She looked from him to the tree and back to him and shook her head emphatically "YES".
So we knew this was the tree for us.
The big daddy commenced with the cutting and then the older children had a chance with the saw, cringe, which made them both very happy.
Soon she was set on the sled and we headed down the hill. Traversing tree stumps and rocks the whole way. We made quite a merry party of six tromping down the hill through the snow with the tree happily bouncing on the sled, the four year old in the lead and the two older children guiding from behind. Our littlest girl even had a small ride on the sled at the very bottom of the hill with this mama running along beside. Fun. Fun.
This site happened on the way back down the mountain and I just had to share. A motor home painted like a log cabin? Have you ever seen such a brilliant thing? It did require that the big daddy double back and go all the way around so I could get a picture but it was worth it don't you think?
Then, home to set the tree up and get the lights put on.
This I can say I have "Tom Sawyered" my honey into doing. I've done it for years but last year he "volunteered" and I loved that I didn't have to do it. So, this year there was a lot of "oh my you did such a nice job on the lights last year" and "wow you make that look so easy it must be because you are so talented" and a few "You are a professional!" thrown in and he did it again! yes.
I hope to have officially passed on that tradition. After all he's now done it for two years why not three?!?? Right?
On to the decorations after bath time. I've shown you in past years our trees and ornaments. I love that eighty percent of them were made by the children. It makes me smile to see over the years how we can now fill a tree with them.
One of the highlights this year was our littlest girl and her fascination with the tree.
She LOVED it.
In fact, she was very interested in putting the ornaments on and pulling them off. She would put one on and pull three off. It made the decorating last just that much longer.
Since last night the bottom of the tree is quite bare and I'm thinking that the ornaments may have to move up the tree a bit. Though to tell you the truth I'm enjoying her excitement when she toddles over and brings me a handful of ornaments. At least handmade ornaments means they are more durable.
So there she is. Our lovely, skinny, charlie brown tree. One that has it's own pine cones growing on the branches and as of this morning has begun to drink water like a fish.
It feels officially like the holidays now with the house spruced up with decorations. This morning I'm off to knit and sew with all due haste as this week marks the final week before vacation. And, this mama has a few things to do...
How are your projects going? OR are you already done?
Yesterday morning as I rushed out the door to get the children to school on time, slipping through the ice, carrying the cello, gym shoes and someones lunch box, I wished for the hundredth time that we had left earlier.
Why, when leaving for school at the same time each morning, does it always seem to be a scramble in the last five minutes?!!?? Backpacks flying. Someone isn't finished with breakfast. Someone else hasn't even thought to brush their teeth, put on their shoes or find their gloves. Every morning.
Our big daddy's been down and out since Saturday because of a "long-underwear-back-wrenching-situation". Though, if you ask him, he's attempting to come up with a better story...like a guy and a thing and some sort of scuffle, you know. So we were on our own in terms of an extra pair of hands.
I slip into the front seat of the car and throw my purse down beside me. One look in the rear view mirror shows all the children, phew, in their seats so I start up the engine. Instinctively I reach up to hit the defrost and wipers at the same time when I see the ice crystals clinging to the windshield.
Just sitting there looking amazing.
So there we are--late, rushing, wishing for more time. I paused. Thought briefly and then pulled out a camera to capture the light. I breathe. Inhale beauty. Mother Nature leaving her own type of message.
It's been cold. Rosy cheeks. Toe numbing. Snow, Melting, Freezing, Snowing again, kind of weather. Ridiculously cold and quite dreary. Yet, when the sun finally decided to peek through there it was, A Winter Wonderland.
That was the moment. Ice crystals on my windshield back-lit by the sun. That was when I slowed down. December can be about remembering to wait and watch. To see what is literally right in front of us.
And, that's what I did. With all the children in the back staring at this mama, I took a breath and recognized the magnificence around me. Then just as quickly, I focused on the road, the clock and delivering my girl to school while still driving in a sane manner.
Note to self...She was there on time.
In fact, we all got to the places we needed to be and I remembered that moment all day. Happier. Probably even more productive. So there. Proof for myself that pausing can make a BIG difference. Even if my daughter had been late.
I'm attempting to hold onto that beauty as I traverse another day in this holiday season. Wishing for more time. Wondering why I didn't start sooner. Knowing that it comes the same time each year. Oh my...
How is December treating you?
I hope she's being kind....