Saturday, December 19, 2009

The weather forecast, brought by acorns...

snow covered evergreenWhile I'm pleasantly shocked about today's premature (for December) snowstorm, you could say it was predicted by an elderly lady who was passing along some country wisdom. Of course, her forecast for this winter's weather (which, technically, begins the day after tomorrow) included the usual musings about the high number of woolly bear caterpillars sightings this year, to which I gently nodded in agreement.

However, the gray eminence added another aspect to her prediction--she mentioned that the huge number of acorns seen this year meant that winter would be extremely cold. Huh? I'm sure I had a dumbfounded look, 'cause that's the first time I've ever heard the haul of acorns involved in the weather forecast. (Of course, after her speculation, I noticed that many squirrels appeared to take steps to hide those acorns in holes, which I'd never paid attention to before.)

* * *

Just as the acorn lady predicted the extremely cold, snowy weather, I predict that much hot cocoa will be consumed during and after the storm, the only question being how often this delicious, healthful, drink will be quaffed.

Hot cocoa--cheaters' edition

If you don't have hot cocoa mix at home (haven't been able to find the Ghiradelli hazelnut hot cocoa mix), your favorite chocolate milk heated up via microwave makes an acceptable substitute. Also, as chocolate milk may be more helpful in helping people recover from athletic endeavors than Gatorade, it's perfect to drink after shoveling snow. Or while watching the snow. Or after hearing predictions of snow.

Smooth hot cocoa--DIY edition

If you're lacking chocolate milk or cocoa mix, but have a box of Hershey's cocoa at home for cooking, and some milk, you're in luck. The ingredients as listed in the instructions are fine (2 Tbsps. cocoa, 2 Tbsps. sugar, pinch salt, 1 cup milk, 1/4 tsp. vanilla), but fail to mention that your cocoa will turn out lumpy unless you take an extra step.

Whisking the dry ingredients together does no good, even using the tiny whisks I have. Instead, I put the cocoa into a trusty party favor sachet. (Guys can use the more macho mini burlap sack, which can be bought at health food stores.) Then, dunk the sack into milk that's been microwaved for a minute and a half, add the other ingredients, and stir. Let sack sit in milk for a minute or two, then remove. The smooth, tasty result (after transferring milk from a microwave-safe cup):

cup of hot cocoaMmm, mmm, good. Oh, and the snow's still coming down, so it may be time to make yet another cup!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mezza Luna--cool blue venue...

martinis at Mezza Luna restaurant Drinks, like the red sangriatini, on the bar at Mezza Luna. Drinks are larger than this photo, from the Mezza Luna site, would suggest.

This being the holiday party season and all was a nice time to hold a little blogger get-together, in a new place, the very cool, casual Mezza Luna Restaurant and Lounge. Laid-back mod-looking decor, happy hour with delish drinks (including Absolut cocktails for $6), tasty tapas like the Tortilla Espanola (homey tasting with a sophisticated presentation) and the hummus, served with grilled pita triangles at angles resembling flying fish on a plate, along with new people and conversation, made for a good time had by all.

As usual, there were people from a variety of backgrounds--corporate, nonprofit, gub'mint, startup--and I was one of the few non-techies there. But because there were some new folks, some just starting sites, others with more experience and multiple blogs, there were good tips and information passed around. Such as that Word (boot) camp for Wordpress users is only $40!

Of course, our very own Kier is giving a presentation in the new year, on January 9 (at the Cleveland Park Library), "Blogging 101," for anyone interested in starting their very own electronic megaphone.

Some of the new people have interesting blogs, too:

Spleeness--a very funny stream-of-consciousness site.
KissMyCountry--an eco-optimistic site, featuring travel insights.

And last, but certainly not least, the cool dance music we were bopping along to, which may be the nascence of a District Bloggers Meetup and 80s Dance Party in the not-too-distant future.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Favorite Christmas song--by far...

'Tis the season for lots of great holiday recordings, such as renditions of This Christmas by Donny Hathaway, The Temptations' Silent Night, even The Whispers Happy Holidays to You (The Whispers NOT being one of my favorite groups, btw).

However, my favorite Christmas recording is Vanessa Williams' jazzed version of What Child is This, which only improves upon re-hearing!