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Mandatory Fun

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Today we had the Holiday Potluck and Ugly Sweater Contest, also known as the Mandatory Fun.

I must admit that, even though I make fun, I had a nice time. I made Chocolate Peppermint Bark for my contribution.

You should never ever pay astromical Williams-Sonoma prices for this delightful holiday treat, because it is ridiculously easy to make. I mean, really! You just go to the store, buy two 8-ounce Ghiradelli semisweet chocolate bars, two 8-ounce Ghiradelli white chocolate bars, and a box of candy canes. Line an 8-inch square pan with wax or parchment paper. Melt the dark chocolate and 1 teaspoon of oil (not olive) in a double boiler. Spread it in the pan and put the pan in the fridge. Wash the chocolate pan part of the double boiler. Smash a bunch of candy canes. Melt the white chocolate and 1 teaspoon of oil (not olive) in the double boiler. Pour the white chocolate over the dark chocolate and spread it evenly or so, then distribute the smashed-up candy canes over the white chocolate. Put the pan in the fridge. Wash the chocolate pan part of the double boiler. Have a snack (maybe a candy cane?); wrap some presents. Check the bark; if it's nice and set, take it out of the pan and break it up any way you like. Perform a thorough quality control check before putting it in a tin and taking it to your mandatory fun potluck.

There was a ton of food, everything from spicy pumpkin-white bean bisque to pulled pork and chicken and beef barbeque to salad, a nice big shrimp plate, cheese and crackers and chips and salsa. Desserts included a couple of pies, gingerbread cookies, two kinds of cupcakes, and of course my peppermint bark. Everybody ate a lot, which is what you want at a potluck.

The ugly sweater contest was entertaining. I did not enter, because I do not own an ugly Christmas sweater. I did dig out an old white sweater that has fake pearls scattered all over it (and shoulder pads!), but it evidently shrank over the years and was a tad too snug. The winner had a custom-made ugly Christmas sweater. This sweater began life as a plain navy-blue sweatshirt, but was transformed (like Cinderella!) into a deserving contestant, complete with epaulets made of gold bows and sparkly red garland simulating a v-neck. It was quite hideous and deserving of the award.