Wednesday, November 27, 2013

sweet and simple

When the Santa Clause Parade comes to town, it's a sign to begin gearing up for Christmas.  Storing away the autumn decor to set up the tree, stringing up the lights outside the window, starting on the holiday baking...all the magic of the holidays.

After attending the big city parade last year, we decided to tone it down this year, and meet up with friends and go to the local one in town.  Although the weather was much colder than previous years (it was around -15 degrees!), and the parade wasn't as professionally coordinated as the one we saw last year, I really enjoyed the simple pace this time around.

As much as I would love to go to the legendary Macy's parade in New York, there is something quite sweet about watching small floats proudly displayed by local schools or associations...the ones that don't have the most lights and fancy costumes, but has all the twinkle of effort and anticipation for this beautiful season.

Hand written signs, parent-sewn costumes, and horse drawn carriages show a sense of pride, and it's easy to forget how meaningful it is to contribute to the local community.  These floats showed heart and community spirit...not a national brand campaign from a large corporation.

I think this year's local parade was a nice transition for our family, into the busyness of the upcoming holiday season.  We didn't have to fight for a spot to sit down, everyone was courteous and polite, and afterwards we enjoyed our friends company for hot cocoa and simple but warm comfort food in our home.

I'm not sure how many more years we'll have, until the novelty of attending the Santa parade starts to wear off, especially for our oldest child.  Maybe we'll have to go see bigger, flashier productions in the future but for now, I hope this year's parade has set a precedent for the kind of Christmas season we'll have ahead of us...

...sweet and simple.

Easy Marshmallow Pops
(makes about 30 pops)
I didn't have candy canes (I like to crush them to put on the bottom), so I used whatever I had on hand (I had toffee bits).  This recipe is very can use practically any kind of chocolate.  This is a quick recipe to do and simple enough for the kids to help with this.

  • Large Marshmallows (about 30)
  • ½ cup Peppermint Chocolate Chips (I used the President's Choice ones)
  • ½ a bar of dark organic chocolate bar (approx. 50g), chopped
  • Toffee bits (I used Chipit's Skor toffee bits, found in the chocolate chip can use sprinkles, coconut or any other crushed candy or cookie you desire).
  • Toothpicks (I liked using the frilled ones in various colours, so you can distinguish the different flavours...small candy canes work too).
  • In a small glass bowl, microwave the chocolate chips on medium for 2 minutes.  Stir vigorously until smooth (heat again on medium for another 30 second increments, if needed, stirring inbetween).
  • In another small glass bowl, microwave the chopped chocolate bar on medium for 2 minutes.  Stir vigorously until smooth (heat again on medium for another 30 second increments, if needed, stirring inbetween).
  • Let the chocolate cool a minute.  Stir the chocolate to ensure it's still smooth.
  • Place wax paper on large plates.
  • Place toffee bits onto a plate.
  • Insert toothpick in marshmallow then dip and swirl into the chocolate.  Then dip into the toffee bits.
  • Place on the wax paper.  
  • Cool at room temperature for 4-6 hours or place in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

Best served with hot chocolate.

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