Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

Recently, on a mild midweek evening, my guy and I ate dinner at his house and then went for a walk through the neighborhood. We have savored these midweek dinners in this season; they began as taco nights, but have evolved to include lasagna or hot dogs or whatever is in the fridge or pantry on any given week. They also, sometimes, include episodes of Black-ish or The Mandalorian, but on this particular evening, we wanted to wander.

He lives in a mostly residential area, leafy and quiet and hard to get to by public transit; I like it, except that it’s not all that accessible. The houses are a mix of single-family, classic Boston triple-deckers, brick mid-century apartment blocks. There were, on that evening, so many climbing vines and blooming roses and blowsy, beautiful peonies.

We ended up at Kiki’s, a nearby market whose name always makes me smile, because it’s what my nephews call me. I’d never been inside, so we decided to go in for a browse. And to our surprise and my utter delight, we found the aisle you see above: lined with every conceivable kind of digestive biscuit, Cadbury chocolate bar, and various other British treats.

Suddenly I was 20 years old again, standing in the smallish Sainsbury’s on the Woodstock Road in Oxford, or in the tiny post office around the corner on North Parade. I was gazing at the unfamiliar chocolates in their purple wrappers, trying to decide which one to take home for my study session that night. I was in the House 10 kitchen with Jamie, late at night, munching on an orange-wrapped roll of Hobnobs biscuit, talking about dreams and travel and love.

There was more: custard creams and bourbon creams, jammy tea cakes wrapped in marshmallow and chocolate, the orange-scented Jaffa cakes that are my friend Cole’s favorite. I was taken back, too, to the tiny newsstand across from St Anne’s College, Oxford, where you could once buy a bag of broken biscuits (exactly what it sounds like) for a pound or two.

We brought home an assortment of biscuits, plus a Cadbury Mint Crisp bar (still my favorite), and some spicy beef jerky (G couldn’t resist). I was – am – completely surprised to find all these treats in such variety and volume, three blocks from G’s house in Brighton. It kicked my ever-present wanderlust back into gear, of course, but more than that it simply made me happy: so glad to find these goodies that are part of a place I love, and happy to share them with my favorite man.

What local adventures are you having, these days?


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flavia de luce series books mysteries
It’s no secret around here that these are two of my favorite things.

A couple of months ago, I noted that the Daisy Dalrymple mystery series are “my Cadbury milk chocolate: smooth, sweet and delightfully English.” I still like that metaphor, and it got me thinking about how to classify my other favorite mystery series as different types of chocolate.

So, for your culinary/reading/book-nerd pleasure, a list:

  • Dorothy Sayers’ mysteries featuring Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane are rich dark chocolate: smooth, layered and delightfully complex. (She weaves in history, politics, feminism, culture, mental health – so many subjects.)
  • Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie series (narrated by Chet the dog) is a handful of M&Ms: colorful, addictive and so much fun.
  • The Maisie Dobbs novels by Jacqueline Winspear remind me of a good chocolate caramel: rich, bittersweet and just slightly salty.
  • Tommy & Tuppence, Agatha Christie’s youthful detectives, are those Ghirardelli chocolate squares with mint inside – surprising and fun, and not too complex.
  • Miss Marple, that sweet elderly sleuth, and her cases are a truffle assortment – because there are always surprises inside.
  • Sherlock Holmes (in all his many iterations) is like an assortment from Burdicks, the gourmet chocolate shop in Harvard Square. These boxes always contain treats I’ve never heard of, made with exotic liqueurs – reminiscent of Holmes’ penchant for unusual cases with highly irregular details.
  • Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness mysteries are Hershey’s kisses: light, sweet and uncomplicated.
  • The Flavia de Luce series (pictured above) is a bar of wicked dark chocolate – since Flavia’s twin passions are for sleuthing and poison.

Any mysteries-as-chocolate you’d add to the list?

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Well, the decorations are up, the store windows are lighted, the sales are on, the church is decked with evergreens and an Advent wreath. The Christmas season is in full swing, in case you hadn’t noticed. But aside from the big decorations/ads/songs/celebrations, here are a few signs of the season I notice and love each year:

1. Red Starbucks cups. I’m an indie-coffeehouse girl, but there is something about those red cups – so cheerful and comforting.
2. Twinkle lights – draped around a tree, a window or a balcony, here and there, before everyone starts putting up their lights and trees and inflatable snowmen.
3. Christmas/holiday stamps at the post office.
4. Red Macy’s bags.
5. Bath & Body Works holiday window displays (they have the BEST ones).
6. The readings in Watch for the Light, which start on Nov. 24 and so start before Advent nearly every year.
7. My hankering for spiced black tea, which grows ever stronger as Christmas approaches.
8. Mint M&Ms in the green bags.
9. Switching from leafy/pumpkin-y candle scents to cinnamon and peppermint ones.
10. My few holiday tees and snowflake pj pants. (Thank you, Old Navy.)

What little things signal Christmas to you?

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As you know, I had a fabulous time “integrating” with nine fabulous women in Brooklyn, a few weeks ago. I’ve been holding that experience close to my heart, and unpacking it bit by bit.

For a Love Thursday and a list post, I wanted to introduce you to the lovelies I met, and point you to some of their blog homes:

1. Jen is the reason we all came together – all of us knew her either via blogland or in real life, though as I read on Emily’s site recently, those distinctions are starting to blur. Anyway, it was so lovely to hug her at last, and her words were pure magic all weekend.

2. Phyllis has been Jen’s friend for years, and runs Voca Femina, an online magazine for women’s voices. She’s a therapist, a life coach and just completely amazing.

3. Amelia was on my flight from DFW to NYC, so we connected in the airport, then roomed together all weekend, and wound up by waiting together at LaGuardia for our return flights. She is so many things…a teacher, a writer, a photographer, a mother of five, a runner, a creative soul and an inspiration. She blogs at Notes From the Edge.

4. Julie is trying to get us all back to Cincinnati, where she lives, for a reunion in October. She made us all beaded bookmarks (or “magic wands” as Crystal calls them) to take home, and she shares my love for chocolate and snail-mail.

5. Crystal went to The Chocolate Room three times in one day – and had a bit of a chocolate hangover the next day. She’s a hoot.

6. Beth also lives in Cincy, and shares my love for Rachel Austin’s paintings, photos of flowers and Wicked. (Here’s a photo from our “cake time” on Monday night – from left, Julie, Crystal, Beth, Jenna and Amelia. What great faces!!)

7. Jenna blogs at The Word Cellar; we’d been Twitter friends for some time before the retreat. She’s even more delightful in person, and a fabulous writer.

8. Sandra was our lone Canadian, a joyful spirit, a sweet heart and a lovely accent.

9. Annette hails from Maryland, and is just full of joy and hope and honesty. I’ll never forget jamming out with her to the Dixie Chicks’ “Not Ready to Make Nice” in the kitchen on our last night. (Here she is with Jenna, Phyllis and Jen.)

Happy Love Thursday…go read some of these ladies’ blogs, and have a wonderful day.

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I met these lovelies at the Integrate Retreat last weekend in NYC. Jen (in the front, with the curls) hosted us at the Sofia Inn in Brooklyn, and oh my, the whole weekend was magical. We talked, wrote, laughed, sang, drank tea, ate chocolate, saw Wicked together, did yoga, explored Brooklyn, cried and laughed some more. And that’s just the beginning.

This week I am missing Beth, Sandra, Crystal, Phyllis, Jenna, Annette, Julie, Jen and Amelia. What lovely souls, and what a fabulous time we had together. Until we “reintegrate,” I’ll be thinking of them.

More photos and stories to come…

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Friday links

Yet another list of books you must read before you die. This one’s quite hefty. For the moment, I think I’ll stick to the half-dozen on my desk that are begging for my attention.

Buy a smoothie, plant a tree: Innocent’s latest do-good project. (And their smoothies are scrumptious to boot.)

Did I mention this chocolate has been on my addiction list this year? Dark, delicious, and Fairtrade. (Comes in milk and white, too.)

Happy Friday.

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I’m going to take a cue from Scott’s Rink-a-Link last week and post about the things I’ve loved this week. Because there have been a LOT. So, starting a week ago today…

Thursday I loved me:
-Some JamisonPriest, as I drove down the road to Austin.
-Big bear hugs from Charity and Jeremiah as we all met up at the church later.
-Yummy fresh taco salad, provided by Charity’s parents at the church.
-Waaay cute pink T-shirts that we sponge-painted with our names and titles…one for each of the bridesmaids, Charity, and her mom. (And Charity’s friend Miranda…hers said, appropriately, “Wedding Singer.”)

Friday I loved me:
-A pedicure at a cute place in south Austin, complete with massage chair and lovely dark red polish. The little Asian ladies called, “Happy wedding!” as we exited. So cute. 🙂
-Rascal (Charity’s sweet dog), who chilled out with us as we ate pizza at her house.
-Girlie time with my fellow bridesmaids, and some serious primping before the rehearsal dinner. (And a summer dress with a deliciously fun flowery skirt.)
-Fun talk with the boys about movies (a welcome break from wedding talk) at the rehearsal dinner…which was delicious.
-A few dozen bear hugs from my Jeremiah, and a comment from Charity’s dad, to wit: “It’s good to see y’all together.” I agree.

Saturday I loved me:
-The chance to sleep in just a bit!
-Stealing a half-hour with Jeremiah after I got lost driving to Cedar Park.
-Lunch at the church with the bridesmaids, plus Val, Kara, Mandy and Jesse, who arrived just in time for the food!
-Wearing flowers in my hair and taking TONS of pictures.
-Watching two of my best friends commit their lives to each other…it was beautiful. So beautiful.
-Eating cake and mints and taking MORE pictures at the reception.
-Gabbing with Val and Kara until nearly 2:30 AM!

Sunday I loved me:
-Beautiful singing at Westover Hills…I was late, but I made it for some of the singing.
-Some excellent Mexican food, courtesy of Happy, and a good long chat with him about life, the universe and everything. 🙂
-Serious bear hugs at the Donagheys’, and a fun Lifeteam with my second family, minus a few. I love them so much!
-A loooong catch-up gab with my roommates…boy drama, pirate medallion earrings and all sorts of fun!

Monday I loved me:
-Some blog posts I’d missed over the weekend.
-Jacque! She came in Monday evening to stay for two days, and we hugged and laughed and immediately started chattering away. I’d missed her so much!
-A huge pasta dinner with Jacque and the roommates…yummmm…

Tuesday I loved me:
-Rosa’s! We took Jacque for her first meal there, and she loved it. 🙂
-Shopping – for a lovely new turquoise dress, two new necklaces, and two fluffy books to read this weekend on vacation. All for under $50!
-A long, unexpected talk with my old friend Mike from high school, who sounds better and more at peace than he has in a long while.
-A delightful gab with Jacque and Leigh Anne about clothes and boys and future plans and lots of things. Very girlie. Very fun.

Wednesday I loved me:
-The chance to actually write a bit at work – and I think another online mag may use one of my articles! We’ll see…
-Jacque and Cole dropping by the office to say hello and goodbye…a little sad, but fun nonetheless.
-Being back at Highland, to hug lots of friends and hear Jerry Taylor preach and harmonize to my heart’s content.
-Trading stories with Leigh Anne for HOURS last night…she should have been doing homework, but neither of us cared.

Today I love me:
-The fam coming into town in two hours…weekend vacation here we come!
-Amber, one of our resident artists…she’s just precious.
-Lunch at the NEW home of Mr. and Mrs. Seth Shaver, who graciously offered me a sandwich and wedding cake when I dropped by to deliver their stuff. I was their first official guest!
-Dove dark chocolate…always.
-My little blog-family, some of whom I know will actually read this (bless you all). 🙂

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