The Real Deal Hot Cocoa

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Happy December Everyone!

I am so excited about this month. After spending the month of November minimizing and purging my home, it is time for the rewards! The uncluttered space motivates me to take things to a new creative place. Plus, I know where to find my stuff now. Mega-bonus.

One way this is manifesting is through our Advent Calendar tradition for the kiddos. In past years, we have phoned it in with a 99 cent calendar from Trader Joe’s with a little milk chocolate candy for each day.

This year I wanted to use it as a tool to connect with each other, create with each other, and give to others together. I’ve had many people ask what we are doing, so I’m sharing — please know that we are in beta-mode on all this. I’m sure by next year I will have many lessons learned.

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I bought little envelopes and holiday tape and the kids and I decorated the envelopes, you know, to build suspense. :) Then I brainstormed a million ideas and stared at our calendar for a very long time and plugged in the ideas I think we can pull off. I sealed the envelopes very loosely with the tape so I can do some last-minute switch-a-roos if I need to as the days get closer. Then I did the smartest thing of all! I typed each day’s activity into the calendar on my phone so I can be prepared for what is coming next. I know, brilliant and a bit out of character for me.

December 1st was a big success. The note said, “Dear Ones, Happy December! Tonight we will drink hot cocoa together and make paper snowflakes to decorate our front window.” Because it was the end of the kids’ Thanksgiving vacation, we took the time to make homemade marshmallows to go on top. (SO EASY AND REWARDING, NOT TO BE MISSED – Marshmallow Link!!) After dinner we got right to it, the kids were VERY eager. It was a lovely evening, and our front window looks quite festive today. The husband even pulled off a Darth Vader snowflake, receiving ample praise from the littles.

Here’s the recipe for the hot cocoa we enjoyed. It is a tweak on a recipe from The Gracious Pantry. I highly, highly recommend making your own cocoa – it is so far superior to the chemical ladened packets from the store and the questionable ingredient list in Starbucks.

Recipe: Real Deal Hot Cocoa


  • 4 cups milk (any unsweetened kind will work, I use organic whole milk)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 3 T high quality unsweetened powdered cocoa


  1. Put it all in a saucepan and heat it up over medium heat while whisking away until serving temperature.
  2. Pour into cups and serve (preferably with homemade marshmallows!!!)

Preparation time: 1 minute(s)

Cooking time: 5 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

photo 2  My marshmallow helper.

photo 1  Dusted them with cocoa powder!

photo 4  Crazy snowflake cutting action.

photo  Window is looking good! (We don’t get snow here, so this is our winter wonderland.)

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For those interested in ideas, here is what one might find in the envelopes over the next 24 days…

Hello Dear Ones. Welcome to December! Tonight we will drink hot cocoa and cut out snowflakes to decorate the front window.

Hello Dear Ones. Let’s make a paper chain to countdown to the big day!

Hello Dear Ones. Today we will make rosemary wreaths for your bedroom doors!

Hello Dear Ones. Hidden in the back room is a present for your housemates. Enjoy! [Mom Note: The housemates are our cats and the kids really want to train them, so they will get some cats treats and a dangling stick toy.]

Hello Dear Ones. Treat Time!! [Mom Note: These are strategically placed on nights the grown-ups have events and we need an Advent break!]

Hello Dear Ones. Let’s pull out the Legos and make Christmas themed stuff together!

Hello Dear Ones. It’s tree time! Let’s get one and decorate this house up!!

Hello Dear Ones. This evening we are going to eat pizza and cuddle up on the couch to watch the new Sound of Music movie together!

Hello Dear Ones. Christmas Book Time!! Boy picks the book and girl picks the spot for our reading snuggle.

Hello Dear Ones. Here is $10. It’s not for you. You’ve got to make someone else’s life better with it. Let’s talk about what we could do with it and then do it!

Hello Dear Ones. Let’s stay up late and watch Sing Off together!

Hello Dear Ones. It’s Origami night!! Let’s make Christmas craziness!!

Hello Dear Ones. Let’s make cookies together and wrap some up to give to others!

Hello Dear Ones. Today we are going on an adventure. It’s exciting and fun and awesome. Hope you are ready!!

Hello Dear Ones. Date Day with a parent. Might be a good opportunity to work on a gift for your bro/sis!!

Hello Dear Ones. Christmas Book Time!! Girl picks the book and boy picks the spot for our reading snuggle.

Hello Dear Ones. Let’s watch YouTube and make some crazy Christmas Rainbow Loom Charms together!

Hello Dear Ones. Tonight is going to be crazy rad! We are going to look at lights. And there’s a twist, but it is a surprise!!

Hello Dear Ones. Treat Time!! And we get to wrap up a gift for your teachers together.

Hello Dear Ones. It’s Christmas Movie Night! Put on your PJs and enjoy some popcorn!

Hello Dear Ones. Crazy fun family night… Love you guys so much!!


It’s not perfect, but it is a wonderful start and suits us and our style real nicely. I even have a few envelopes that are empty so we can inject some spontaneity into the whole thing which is really our style. Like everything else on the Lean.Green.Kitchen site… I recommend taking the parts that interest you and leave the rest!

May you make the most of the final month of 2013.


This post is linked to Party Wave Wednesday at!

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3 thoughts on “The Real Deal Hot Cocoa

  1. This advent adventure is BEYOND F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S — I LOVE IT!! Your snowflakes (especially the unseen Darth Vadar) remind me of Jared’s snowflake “masks” — I can’t remember when he made them, but he is 19 now — that still decorate our entryway for Halloween. Will have to try your cocoa and homemade marshmallows for our “youngest”…at 15, Aaron is still a hot chocolate FIEND! Love your blog, love YOU GUYS!!! :-)

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