Monthly Archives: February 2020

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Writing Fat

(Note: My website host will be updating its server tomorrow. Don’t want to start the week without prayer, so here’s my early “OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer.”)

O Lord, You know I love writing books. Thank You I’ve been asked to write several for another cozy mystery series. But the sleuths are also gourmet bakers who create cream-filled eclairs, apple caramel pies, and Death By Chocolate cakes. OMG, these people are killing my diet!

Heroic Hot Chocolate

Image by David Mark from Pixabay.

The words, “hot chocolate,” conjure up rosy-faced children, fresh from sledding, consuming steaming beverages.

Or lady BFFs indulging in chocolaty froth during bonding sessions that have baffled men since forever. 

Speaking of men, when was the last time you saw one order hot chocolate at Starbucks? Or anywhere?

They drink mocha lattes with whipped cream. Perhaps eggnog or hot buttered rum in similar foamy dress.

But hot chocolate?

Perish the frou-frou thought.

Yet throughout centuries, warriors and adventurers have favored chocolate beverages. Made with cacao beans and water, xocolātl was considered sacred by ancient Mayans.

The real chocoholic, though, was an Aztec: Montezuma II. He drank 50 golden goblets of bitter chocolate — often spiked with chili peppers — daily to emphasize his wealth, power and virility. Did Montezuma impress the ladies with his chugging ability?

Maybe. He certainly kept the keepers of the royal chamber pots busy.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay.

Visiting Spaniards decided Montezuma shouldn’t keep this fabulous drink — or his kingdom — to himself. After the conquest, Hernán Cortés recommended Aztec chocolate to European friends. The Spanish, who preferred their chocolate heated (the Aztecs drank it cold), doctored it with cream and spices. Soon, chocolate houses appeared all over Europe.

Chocolate’s strong flavor disguised additives that caught the attention of Inquisition authorities. Associated with witchcraft and seduction, those chocolate scenarios weren’t so sweet.

Hot chocolate’s changeable reputation didn’t detract from its ability to nourish Ninja-types. American soldiers have been issued chocolate/cocoa since the Revolutionary War. Roald Amundsen, not content with freezing his bones in his native Norway, took huge quantities of cocoa to the South Pole. More recently, when American Will Steger and company made the first 4,000-mile dog-sled trip across Antarctica, they consumed 2,000 cups.

Hot-chocolate courage doesn’t always make headlines. Who can deny the heroics of three Washington kids who, with their mighty hot chocolate stand, raised $100 for the hungry?

Image by uknowgayle from Pixabay.

However, hot-chocolate fans occasionally get in trouble. Take, for example, the homeless Oregon man who soaked in someone else’s hot tub. According to The Oregonian, he yelled for towels, a hug and hot chocolate with marshmallows.

The Inquisition would have loved that one.

Fortunately, hot chocolate’s still fun for sledding kids. For women who bond over anything chocolaty and chatty. For men who dare sneak Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa at Starbucks when nobody’s looking.

Heroic for all who scrape icy windshields, shovel driveways — and those of others — then drive icy roads to work. Even for writers who ditch calorie-less black coffee and drink hot chocolate, a truly heroic effort to experience research firsthand.

In the name of bravery, adventure and double whipped cream, hot chocolate warriors, let’s raise our steaming mugs high.

Cheers!

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite hot chocolate recipe?

Fifteen Reasons Why I Feel Fine in February

When Midwestern citizens select their favorite month, February is among the first voted off the calendar. Even 2020’s relatively civilized temperatures (so far) don’t suffice to keep February in the running.

Image by Alexas Fotos from Pixabay.

We still wear long undies. Yet swimsuits go on sale. Ack!

February Visa bills bristle with charges we’d repressed.

We’ve already lost the right gloves of new pairs our in-laws gave us for Christmas.

Cars define dirty. Even if some thug attempted to steal mine before my very eyes, I wouldn’t realize it. If I did, I’d offer him the keys.

But I’m still feeling fine in February for 15 reasons:

  • God has not run away to Florida. He knew we needed Him here big-time.
  • I love baggy clothes. Fitted-waistline spring and summer outfits constrict my creativity. Not to mention, my breathing.
  • On Groundhog Day, a marginalized species is celebrated with newspaper headlines. Isn’t it nice that groundhog groupies crowd around Punxsutawney Phil as if he were Justin Bieber? Insane, but nice.
  • I don’t have to do spring-cleaning yet. Shoot, if we squeeze a little more snow out of winter, I don’t have to take down my Christmas wreath yet.
Photo by Linnell Esler from FreeImages.
  • Let’s hear it for half-price chocolate the day after Valentine’s Day!
  • If that’s not enough to make you smile, February is also Great American Pie Month.
  • Because my toes are buried deep inside fuzzy socks, I don’t have to polish my toenails.
  • Nor must I face my March birthday yet. An added bonus: because leap year comes in 2020, I receive an extra day of reprieve.
  • My youngest grandchild was born on the 10th — a reason to throw confetti all month long!
  • February’s sloppy weather creates an excellent working environment for a writer. With a recluse sun rarely showing its face, my laptop and I snuggle in my chair with zero desire to play hooky outside.
  • A steaming mug of coffee tastes 10 times better on a February morning than in May.
  • Everybody’s windows are dirty. Everybody’s yard looks lousy. Regardless of color, houses look gray. February in the Midwest is a great equalizer when it comes to property upkeep. Unless you haven’t taken down your Christmas wreath.
  • Girl Scout Cookies arrive in February.
  • Hot flashes come in handy.
  • Finally, it’s February, not November. Only a few weeks until legal spring.

The birds, chirping a little louder, feel the change. So do brave, if stupid, daffodils poking up green fingertips in my sheltered flower bed. With these tiny pre-signs of spring — along with a few hundred Girl Scout Cookies — how can I keep from feeling fine in February?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite thing about this month?