Thursday, January 2, 2014

In Lieu of Birthday Candles

The desire to live an intentional life led me, as many desires do, to a Google search. I don't read much non-fiction, despite my mother's best intentions to prod me in that direction with greatly heralded birthday gifts of informational books, but I have been a sucker for self-help books since my days working at the local bookstore during college. Just ask the hubs, who resisted the urge to criticize my recent purchase of a $40 yoga journal (in my defense, I was supporting an independent bookstore and also did not look at the price at a helpful time, mainly before purchasing said expensive journal and loving it all the way home).

Imagine my delight when Google showed me this book. 
Notice how it is now in my lap and not locked away on a Google search results page. That's because after reading the free preview online, I realized this was one of those books you just have to hold and fold the pages of and write in. And share with friends and family. 

That's right, I ordered three copies. 

No doubt many of the experiences I share here on Bedtime Stories will be inspired by my travels through those chapters. I am not yet very far, mostly because I have been savoring each section and trying to fully absorb the content along the way. 

I was dismayed today, though. One of the activities in the early chapters of this (wonderful) book is a challenge to buy, and carry around for 37 days, packs of birthday candles. By now you know I love to make a party where previously there wasn't one, so I was on my way to grab the car keys and head to the closest store certain to stock the required colorful sticks of waxen bliss, already planning what to celebrate and where that first candle would be so joyfully planted. Should we celebrate the snow? I mused. 

Then the practical mother voice inside kicked in:

Snow, she said. You're gonna take Bella out in the snow, in the winter weather advisory that will later cancel the Professional Development day scheduled for tomorrow, allowing you to stay up late and create that new blog you've been wanting, to buy birthday candles? Put the book down, Darlin'. Step away from the self-help book. Do it. Slowly. It is also notable that this voice is very much capital S Southern...not sure why.

What to do in lieu of birthday candles? And then:

Three very important things happened when I was making dinner. (No, I didn't notice my penchant for numbering things. I was already very aware of that idiosyncrasy, thank you.) First, I found that pack of pastry shells that I have been meaning to use for mini quiche (also noted, penchant for baked eggs). Second, I remembered, serendipitously, that my mother used to make me cook homemade chocolate pudding, a task that I hated because it was boring to stand still and stir, the very reason the task fell to me in the first place. Third, I put the first two together as I recalled that the hubs' favorite dessert is chocolate pie. Only kind of math I'm good at. 


If snow and common sense prohibit you from birthday candle shopping sprees, make chocolate pie. Or whatever other dessert brings bliss in your household. 

Make your own In Lieu of Candles Chocolate Tartlets, as pictured above when only five tasty examples remained and I thought: hey, take a pic for the blog, silly! Adapted slightly from the original recipe found here:

In a large pot over medium heat, mix 1 cup of white sugar, 1/2 cup of cocoa, 1/4 cup of cornstarch, and a dash of salt. Slowly pour in 4 cups of almond milk. Using a whisk, stir constantly (and think, this is a lot less boring than I remember it being when I was an angst-prone teenager) until it boils, then stir some more while it boils for two minutes. Remove from heat and stir in a splash of vanilla and 2 tablespoons of coconut spread. 

Ladle into pre-baked according to package directions tartlet shells. Plan to top with homemade whipped cream, until the hubs says it's not necessary (probably because of the caloric intake of Fiesta Day). Then, divide the leftovers among three bowls and eat plain pudding until the tartlets set. 

Also, if your daughter leaves her bowl on the ottoman while you wash dishes and the dog licks it clean, he probably won't get sick. But if you're also a doggie mama, you might wanna watch out for that one. 

So, there you have it. Not quite a "when life gives you lemons" situation, but definitely a "when Mother Nature gives you snow so you can't fulfill self-help-book-fueled whims" one. 

How does your family celebrate the little things, like snowy days, childhood memories, and favorite sweets? More importantly, how can you do it more often and with great fanfare?

Live on. 


  1. I enjoyed reading this very fun post! I happen to have this book also! And I'm also working at being intentional this year. Hmmmm. Seems like we have some things in common! Happy New Year!

    1. Thanks, Sandy!! And thanks for taking the time to be my very first commenter! Isn't the book great? I would really like to meet the author...she's so inspiring! Best wishes and good luck on your path to intention! Keep me posted.

  2. Hey Maggie! I'm not sure if you got my email because you are set as a noreply blogger. I am loving your blog and am now following via email. Email me when you can

    1. Hi, Ashley! I'm glad we found each other! Per your advice, I have taken the steps to fix the noreply issue. Thanks for the support! I look forward to learning more about how to get the most out of life right along with you!