I hope everyone is staying well and staying sane these days. It seems everyone is finding new ways to stay busy. Personally, I have found myself spending many hours in a comfortable chair in our den, ostensibly writing, but often looking out the patio door at the birds and squirrels in our back yard.
I must have mentioned this to my son and his wife a time or three, because they not only surprised me for Mother’s Day last Sunday, but they also managed to give me something to help with my new hobby.
The surprise came into play when they called me Sunday afternoon and asked me to come into our den. (My husband was in on the surprise, and made sure I was nowhere near that room until they were ready.) When I walked into the room, I saw a large card/sign taped to the outside of our patio door, facing me so I could read it. My son and his family were standing on the patio, grinning at me. I opened the door, and was able to talk with them while I opened my gift.
The gift bag included, among other things, some handmade bird food, shaped and put on a string so I can hang them on tree branches. I suspect our granddaughters had a lot of fun patting the bird seed mixture into cookie cutters to make the shapes. I will hang them where I can sit in my chair and watch the birds enjoying the food. Once we are able to do things together again, they have promised to help me identify locations for additional feeders, bird baths, etc. and then help me pick them out in a store.
I suppose that is one positive which has developed while we are all stuck in our homes. We are not just finding creative ways to fill our time. We are also finding clever ways to stay connected with the ones we love. While I cannot wait to have the quarantine end, I hope we all remember to stay in touch once it is lifted.
Some days, we just need a little chocolate. These days, people are hunkering down and are rediscovering how to survive. Instead of eating out every night and going to gyms, they are baking their own bread and planting gardens. I think it is wonderful people are learning how to become more self-reliant. However, I also recognize (because I also feel it at times) people are under a great deal of stress these days. Sometimes, only a good dose of chocolate will get us through.
Therefore, I decided to share one of my favorite chocolate dessert recipes this week. Brownie Pudding is easy to make, and produces an ooey, gooey, chocolatey dessert which will have you scraping the bowl. If you have any ice cream or whipped cream to plop on top when you serve it, even better. Enjoy!
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup milk
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
another 1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 ¾ cups boiling water
Preheat oven to 350o. Combine the first five ingredients in a bowl. Stir in the milk, melted butter and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Spread mixture in an ungreased shallow 1 ½ quart casserole dish. Sprinkle the brown sugar and remaining ¼ cup baking cocoa on top. Pour the boiling water over everything.
Place dish in oven and bake 35 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.
Yield: 6 servings.
In these days of social distancing, we are all getting a bit more creative about how we stay in touch with the people we love. For me, it feels especially important to find ways to keep close contact with our granddaughters. After all, we moved halfway across the country to be close to them, and they got used to seeing us frequently. Lately, I know it is difficult for the girls to understand why Grandma and Grandpa don’t visit them anymore. We periodically drop off games or books for them on their porch, but it isn’t the same thing. And when we try to video chat with them, it only confuses and frustrates the younger one.
Luckily, my son and his wife have found clever ways to help us stay in touch with our granddaughters. Last week, we had a “social distancing dinner” outside. My son’s back yard is fenced, with the garage and driveway outside the fence. So they set up two tables, one inside the fence for the four of them, and one on the driveway for my husband and I. We each had our own food, so weren’t sharing anything, but we were still able to eat together and talk together, with the fence keeping the girls from getting too close to us. We hadn’t seen each other for weeks, so it was wonderful to see all of them in person, even at a slight distance. (And luckily, the weather cooperated by being sunny and warm enough. Unlike this week.)
This week, we are trying something new. My husband and I received an invitation from them for a “virtual tea party.” We are going to dress up on Sunday and have a tea party with them via video conferencing. We’ll each make something suitable to snack on with tea ahead of time, and we’ll have “tea” together. I’m a little worried that that younger girl will still be confused and upset, but hopefully the novelty of the tea party will get her past that. I know they like having pretend tea parties when they are at our house, so I’m sure they (and we) will enjoy the real thing.
Hopefully, we won’t all have to find creative solutions like this for much longer. While I am constantly amazed by the ingenuity and innovation the pandemic has brought out in people, I am looking forward to the day we can all return to normal. In the meantime, if anyone has any additional suggestions for how we can stay in touch with our granddaughters, I would love to hear them.
I write historical fiction, and I invite you to share the journey to published author with me.