The Best Things in Life…

Having three small children means I don’t always have as much time as I would like to do art for myself. Just because I want to. But I managed to grab time recently, and it was so wonderful! There is nothing more wonderful than getting your fingers smudged and the side of your hands black from charcoal and graphite. “The best things in life are generally messy”; that’s what I like to tell Sackett Man.

I had so much fun that I made a new pact with myself: that I would make time to do art for art’s sake much, much more often. I pinterest way too much, anyway!

The day I made this decision was the day that in the morning, after a two cups of good hot coffee, I did an hour-and-a-half portrait of my baby girl. I sat down on my living room floor, hauled out my sketch-pad and my box of pencils, and got to work. I don’t know why I like to sit on the floor when I draw; but more often then not, that’s where I find myself, cross-legged and bent over. Maybe it’s leftover from my ballet days and doing all those floor-stretches. Either way, that’s where I was for the next hour-and-a-half, drawing my little Rose’s portrait.

She refused to sit for me, the little 8-monther! She preferred to roll around and sit up and chew on things. Imagine that!

Rosemary, Portrait

Rosemary, Portrait

Mushrooms ala Cocoa

Is it wrong to think that the mixed scent of warm chocolate and cooking mushrooms is fantastic?

This is the conundrum I found myself in one night last week. It had been a very long day of housework and taking down, packing, and storing all of the Christmas decorations. I had the remains of the Beef Roast and its gravy (which I had frozen to be used later, on a day like this day), sour cream, and some fantastic portobello mushrooms, so I decided to make a Throw-Together Beef Stroganoff for supper. I got some noodles boiling, and started sautéing the mushrooms in my cast iron pot, and immediately the kitchen began to smell delicious. As I stood there, my aching feet decided to make their presence known, as well as other various body parts that had been used and abused carting large and heavy bins around, and I felt in a desperate need for a pick-me-up. Thankfully I have a small bag of Chocolate Mint Cappucino mix in my cupboard, which made for the perfect cup of decadence.

I stood there at my stove, stirring the sautéing mushrooms and sipping on my cup of chocolaty goodness, taking deep breaths and thinking to myself how wonderful mushrooms and chocolate smell.

(The stroganoff was fantastic. I poured the left-over roast and gravy into the pot with the mushrooms and let it all heat through, then I put in about a cup of sour cream, and mixed in the noodles. There wasn’t much left for leftovers once my family got to it.)

Family Roast

Who doesn’t love a good beef roast? That’s what I made yesterday, throwing it into the crock-pot at eight-thirty in the morning in preparation for the fifteen family members that were going to descend upon our home that afternoon. My mom brought a fantastic potato salad and a fruit salad with crunchy, candied pretzel pieces in it. My two sister-in-laws brought hot, creamy spinach dip and delicious cranberry-white chocolate bars. There was also salad and homemade biscuits-n-butter. Yum!

Sackett Man camped out in his recliner, resting and icing his knee (which is doing well), though he did rise up and, crutch in hand, venture outside to try out his new turbo flashlight. No animal is safe from detection in our woods anymore.

We opened presents; we shared good company and good food.

That’s why I like the roast. I had a TON on my plate (pun intended) that only grew larger when it snowed and I had to spend two hours yesterday morning plowing our driveway. Yet I was able to do so without stress, because I knew that in the house it was starting to smell wonderful as the feast cooked and grew delicious all on its own.

I don’t really have an exact recipe, because I tend to eyeball it. But it’s a very forgiving recipe; you can adjust all of it to your taste.

1 Beef Roast (any kind)

Crockpot Roast with: onion, mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, red wine, mushroom soup

Crockpot Roast with: onion, mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, red wine, mushroom soup

2 onions, quartered

2 packages of sliced mushrooms

1 T minced garlic

1 T rosemary, dried (I would do less if you’re using fresh)

1/2 – 1 Cup red wine

1 can cream of mushroom soup

s/p to taste

Set your crock-pot on High for 6 hours.

Now, I usually like to start cooking my roast around nine or ten o’clock and let it cook (first on High, then on Low for the remaining time) all day for a five or six pm supper. The meat is literally spoon-tender at that point and moist and succulent. Yesterday we ate at two-thirty, so the meat wasn’t quite as falling-apart as I prefer, but it was still tender and moist and fantastic!

This makes for, honestly, one of the easiest decadent meals I’ve ever made. All you need to do that night is steam a veggie and put out some delicious bread. Mashed potatoes are good with this, too.

Enjoy!

 

Chocolate Therapy

It’s eight in the morning, and I’m here at my table, having watched the sky grow from dark to blushing pink to blue (thank you, baby daughter, who got me up so early). I am finishing up the comic for my nephews today, and wrapping the last gifts for the last extended family gathering, which will be had at my house. I am also going to indulge in some fantastic cups of indulgent, velvety, rich homemade hot chocolate. Why? Because I’m nervous, and nervous = chocolate therapy.

“Why are you nervous?” One might ask. “So far it sounds like you’re just doing art, which you do all the time anyway, and having some family over. What’s the big deal?”

Well, tomorrow, early in the morning, my husband is having knee surgery. I know that isn’t the biggest thing in the world; not the most dangerous, or most fearful. But he’s never had surgery before. He’ll be out for it, and intubated (“Just in case”, the doctor’s say. That’s not very reassuring.), and then out of commission for two weeks. I’ll need to make sure our two boys (5 and 2) don’t leap on him or bump his legs during that time.

And I’m his wife. It’s my job to worry about him.

He’ll be fine; probably the hardest part, for him, will be the two weeks of inaction. Sackett Man is a man of movement. He’s always doing. So not doing is probably going to give him a worse case of Cabin Fever than our -45˚ weather ever could.

It’s only -10˚ today, by the way. We’re having a hot streak.

My mom is graciously watching our boys tomorrow (I’m keeping the baby girl), so that I can be with Sackett Man. Thank you, Mom!

And today: today I am mixing up my homemade hot chocolate mix. And having some of it. It’s really the EASIEST thing in the world to make, and it’s so, so good!

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

A Cup of My Homemade Hot Chocolate

A Cup of My Homemade Hot Chocolate

3 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar

2 1/4 cups Cocoa Powder (I use Dutch Cocoa)

1 1/2 tsp Salt

Combine all ingredients in an airtight container, and mix.

Add 2 Tablespoons to a cup of hot water, and then added a splash of milk at the end (like one does for coffee). YUM!!! Garnish as you wish: with nothing, or marshmallows, or whipped cream… you get the idea.

NOTE:

If you want to have just a little bit to try (who wants a tub of something they don’t like?) then do these amounts:

1/4 cup Powdered Sugar

2 1/2 T Cocoa Powder

1/8 tsp Salt

This will give you a good amount for sampling purposes.

Then if you like it, you can make the tub!