Homemade Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

1/2 half a cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons of sugar

Pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup half-and-half

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:  In a 2-quart saucepan, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar and salt.  Whisk in 1/2 cup of water and place pan over very low heat. Cook, stirring, until the mixture is smooth and starts to bubble, about 3 minutes.  Whisk in milk and half-and-half and cook stirring frequently, until the mixture just comes to a simmer but is not boiling.  Add the vanilla, stir again, them remove from heat.  (Recipe from Hot Drinks for Cold Nights)

Five Heartwarming Books to Enjoy!

A Man Called Ove

Frederick Backman

Swedish curmudgeon Ove is called “the bitter neighbor from hell,” but there is much more to him than meets the eye in this bittersweet, humorous story.

A Dog’s Purpose

W. Bruce Cameron

From the pooch’s perspective, a soulful story of a devoted dog who finds the meaning of his own existence through the lives of the humans he teaches to laugh and love.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Gail Honeyman

Eleanor’s orderly life changes when she meets Raymond, the big-hearted, unhygienic IT guy at work; can they rescue each other from their isolation?

Two from the Heart

James Patterson

The power of storytelling is the basis for characters finding their own happy endings in each of these two short love stories.

The Garden of Small Beginnings

Abbi Waxman

Expect lots of laughter and a few tears while reading the witty, profound story of Lilian, a single mom not quite over the death of her husband four years ago.

Movies to Warm Your Heart!

Babe

Talking animals are almost always pleasing. They're particularly charming in this adaptation of Dick King-Smith's The Sheep Pig, in which a plucky little piglet avoids becoming a farmer's dinner by learning to herd sheep. It's a very sweet story made with enormous enthusiasm and a ton of visual wit.

Blind Side

The story of Michael Oher, a homeless and traumatized boy who became an All-American football player and first-round NFL draft pick with the help of a caring woman and her family.

Forrest Gump

The presidencies of Kennedy and Johnson, the events of Vietnam, Watergate and other historical events unfold through the perspective of an Alabama man with an IQ of 75, whose only desire is to be reunited with his childhood sweetheart.

Princess Bride

The film starts with a little boy being read a story by his adoring grandpa. That framing automatically makes it comforting, sending you back to times when someone would tell you stories of magical things faraway. Then, of course, the story it tells is an enormously funny, deeply weird spin on traditional fairytales.

Up

It starts with emotional devastation, as in just a few minutes we follow Carl and Ellie Fredricksen from childhood, through marriage, struggles to conceive, and then Ellie's death. Once it's wrung you out, however, the rest of this Pixar masterwork lifts you with a story of a lonely child and a broken-hearted old man becoming friends on a mad adventure.

Music to Set the Mood!

Chill with Handel

Feels Like Home by Norah Jones

Gordon Lightfoot: Complete Greatest Hits

The Magic Hour by the Wynton Marsalis Quartet

The Definitive Collection by the Righteous Brothers

Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits

Songs of Comfort and Hope by Yo-Yo Ma

Sweet Baby James by James Taylor

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