Friday, December 30, 2011

Wisdom from the Great Masters (cont.)

One of my all time favorite thinkers is Joseph Campbell who said “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.” One of the bravest things you can do is let go of something you thought was important to create room for something better. This is hard because at first you can’t clearly see the trade-off. You might have to give up the security of a job for the chance to start your own business. “You can’t steal second if you won’t take your foot off first” - attributed to so many people I don’t know who originally said it. You can’t know for certain what the outcome will be, but if you don’t take the chance, you may “lead a life of quiet desperation.” (Thank you for your eloquence, Thoreau.)

It may not just be job related, but relationship related. You may hang on to certain people (family, friends, customers, etc.) because they are there, not because they bring you anything of value. Letting go of the mediocre (or even the bad!) creates room for the extraordinary. Are you thinking, “Better the Devil you know, than the Devil you don’t know?” I say, “Quit hanging out with Devils, you blockhead!” I bet you already know what or who to let go of, you’re just afraid to do it. Joseph Campbell also said, “Follow your bliss.” Not your guilt. You have a year, you gonna spent it on first base with a bunch of Devils?

The most commonly made New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. If this was your last year, would you spend it worrying about your weight? Or would you get so absorbed in living that your weight didn’t matter? Many of the reasons for overeating - boredom, loneliness, stress - wouldn’t be problems if you were living an exciting, engaging, Devil-free life. The best way to lose weight is to get a life that’s more exciting than food. (Yeah, you can attribute that one to me too.) So instead of trying to find that new diet plan or that amazing new workout routine, know thyself and turn your attention to something that might actually work - alleviate your boredom, loneliness, and/or stress.

Ah - here’s a great one: “Success is more a function of consistent common sense than it is of genius.” - An Wang. Think how successful we’d all be if we just used our common sense. Don’t spend money you don’t have. Treat other people the way you would like to be treated. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t text, drink, or go seatbeltless when you drive. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Someone who lied to you yesterday will probably lie to you today. But no, we cast common sense to the wind - spending money we don’t have, texting while we drive, and believing those who have repeatedly lied to us. Fire up your good old common sense - you might be amazed where it will take you.

All the years that have come before are over. There is a bright new year awaiting you. Are you going to live it or just get through it? Your year will be as exciting, as successful and as fun as you choose to make it. And if it’s the last one, let’s go out in a blaze of glory - running to second for all we’re worth, leaving the Devils behind!

Have a happy, happy 2012 everyone!!!! And thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wisdom from the Great Masters for 2012

Another year ending - the older I get, I swear the faster they go by. According to interpretations of the Mayan calendar, 2012 could be it. We have until December 21st, but that might be the end. Let’s go for it and pretend this is our last year. I’ve brought in some of the best and brightest to advise you and have created a worksheet for you to put their advice into practice.

“We are always getting ready to live and never living.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson is a God in my country and he’s spot on with this one. We all say things like, “We’ll do it when the kids are older; when we lose 10 lbs.; after the Recession”… we’ll do it someday. Do it now. There will never be a perfect time. Decide now what you really want to do in 2012- assume it’s now or never. (You good with never?)

“Know thyself” - said by Socrates, Plato, or some other wise Greek guy. If you are waiting for someone else to bring your life to you, you are in for a long wait. You have to get out there and live and figure out what works best for you. How can you know you love the mountains without having seen the vastness of the sea? How can you make the most of your talents if you don’t know what they are? Try one new thing a month for the next 12. I promise you will learn many things about yourself. Just because you’ve always done (or not done) something doesn’t mean that’s right for you. As another master, George Eliot, said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” 2013 might be too late - bring it now!

While I’m a little wary of calling William S. Burroughs a great master, I do like his advice, “When you stop growing you start dying.” It’s easy to get so consumed by routine and our busy lives that we don’t keep learning. I get lazy and read too much nonfiction; I work instead of taking time to attend conferences and get better at what I do. Try things outside your field, you’ll be surprised how exciting life is and how vibrant you become when you’re growing.

“Silence is not the enemy!” - Denise Ryan. Okay, so I’m no great master, but I know you need some silence to know who you are, to figure out what you want, to learn. And we have become terrified of silence. We get in our cars and immediately have to call someone or turn on music rather than be alone with our thoughts. We have to post things on Facebook rather than just sit and experience them. Silence lends itself to thinking, thinking makes you a person of depth - a person who knows who they are and what they want rather than someone who just does what everyone else is doing. (Only a complete loss of thinking can explain the popularity of the Kardashians.) Silence really is golden. Pay attention to how seldom you, and especially your children, experience it. Change that - turn off the TV or the computer or the music, silence the cell phone - have some quiet time.

More tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I hope this will help explain where the heck I've been!!

Hope you all are having a grand summer!

I see article after article about life balance.  I’ve seen pie charts with segments for each part of your life—a slice for everything from finances to romance.  Are you kidding me?  A pie chart for the messy, sloppy wonderful thing called life? 

I found life balance much easier when I had no life.  I worked and worked out and that was about it.  I was living with only two slices and it was pretty cool.  I didn’t know why people had trouble balancing their lives.  Now that I’m in a long distance relationship with a man with two teenagers, my slices are all jacked up.  I still have a slice for working, but have added slices for romance, driving, and dealing with teenage drama.  Working out has turned into a burnt crust.     

I think the whole concept of “life balance” just makes us all feel guilty.  (And creates jobs for life coaches.) If you look at the life balance pie chart (hereafter referred to as WOD—Wheel of Death), you’ll feel guilty about something.  Maybe you aren’t having enough of the fun slice or the community slice or the spiritual slice.  I think life balance is a bunch of crap. 

First, I don’t think anyone can choose the right slices for you.  You may be perfectly happy without having a community slice for example.  Who’s to say that a life dedicated to work isn’t a great life?  Or to spirituality?  You gonna tell the Dali Lama he needs to focus more on romance?  Balance scmallance—life HAPPINESS is what matters.  Balance makes it sound like there’s some ideal arrangement of the slices and if you could just find it, everything would be perfect and cherubs would fly down from heaven and land on your shoulders.  Bah!  I’m going to tell you the truth.

1.) Forget about stupid life balance and focus on what makes you happy.  Does it make you happy to be in debt up to your eyeballs?  No?  Then you better spend some time on your finances.  How much?  Enough to make you happy and keep the rest of your life running smoothly.  You can spend all day stock trading or you can just spend less than you bring in.  You get to decide.

2.) Make choices.  What slices are you going to just let go of?  You can’t have everything.  I’ve spent a lot less time working (I gave up some evenings and weekends) and working out (people at my gym are probably looking for my obituary) to have more time for romance and driving.  (I’m still trying to reconcile myself with teenage drama).

3.) Determine your priorities—in order.    No time for exercise?  That’s okay if your health is at the bottom of your priority list. Do you really know what your priorities are?  I loved my life before, but the truth is, I was lonely.  So having someone great in my life is a higher priority for me than working, but not higher than my health.  So for me, health is number one, romance is number two and work is number three.  As a result, I have made cardio non-negotiable.  I compromised a bit on weight lifting.  Those three are about all the slices I can handle and handle well.  What about you?  Be honest with yourself.  What are your REAL priorities?  There are no wrong answers, there’s just wasted time (which means wasted life).  Deciding what you can let go of is one of the most important things you can do.

4.) Give yourself permission to let go.  I’m still feeling pretty guilty about not lifting weights as much as I used to.  And I haven’t had time to do a blog post in months!  But my life has three new important people in it and that takes up a lot of time.  I can’t do it all and you can’t either—and you know what?  It’s okay.  So I’m not selling as many tickets to the gun show—do 46 year old women really have to have killer biceps?

5.) Realize your priorities are interrelated.  Don’t think I could just say, “Wheeeeee!  I’m in love!” and quit working.  I don’t think my guy would want to date an unemployed loser who apparently thinks his is the only life worth living.  I need to bring my own cool, exciting life to the relationship.  Think of your own life—maybe you put your spouse first, children second, and yourself last.  Now you’ve gained weight (no time for you to exercise) and the kids have moved out, and you feel terrible about yourself.  That’s going to impact your marriage big time.  On the WOD no slice is an island. 

6.) Say no.  You don’t have to be all things to all people.  You don’t have to take the volunteer post at the Rotary, drive little Johnny to 85 events, run a marathon, dye your hair, bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never let him forget he’s a man (or she’s a woman).  Get off the WOD—do what brings you joy.  And sometimes that might be absolutely nothing.  Saying no is a great thing—it helps people know who you really are and it frees you up to say yes to what you really, really want.

7.) Do you want “life balance” or do you want control over your life?  I think you want control.  You’ll never have absolute control, but deciding what YOUR priorities are and planning your time around them will go a long way in getting it for you.  If you don’t plan your time, it will get planned (read wasted) for you.

8.) Don’t let assumptions and fear make your choices for you.  My Mom had a strong work ethic—always taking work home and coming in on the weekends.  When she passed away, we asked her boss to say a few words at her funeral.  He said, “I was always trying to get Mary to go home.”   She put that pressure on herself as many of you do.  Do you assume you have to work late?  Are you afraid to say no and set appropriate boundaries?  If you are asked to do something and say yes, people think you are willing to do it.  If you really don’t want to do it, that must mean you are afraid to say no, afraid the person won’t like you or the boss will fire you.  Examine those assumptions.

Forget some ideally balanced life.  Instead determine who you are and what you really want.  Then be brave enough to let go of the rest.  You don’t need no stinkin’ wheel to tell you how to roll!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Corporate Promotional Chocolate

I love the idea of promotional chocolate!  And there are many different ways to do it.  this company, Tasty Image ( contacted me and asked me to send them a jpeg of my logo.

I was thrilled to get a box of very well packed samples:

This is a really great rendition of my logo in a sugar coating over a block of delicious creamy milk chocolate.

Here's a business card in dark chocolate - this one was still good, but I preferred the thicker milk chocolate.  But how cool is a chocolate business card?

This is a chocolate coin - very cute.  They also do pictures - you could use this for a wedding or a graduation or a cute baby pic.

Not very big, but so fun!!!!  And yes, I know there's a fine line between cool and cheesy - you have to figure how how not to cross it on your own.

See how the sugar layer works?  The image is printed on and then attached to the chocolate - probably when it's nice and melty.  Yumm......melty......

Now here's another option - logo on the wrapper:

This is Thea Kincaid of Thea's Ideas - she came up with this terrific idea to promote our businesses at the upcoming New Bern Professional Development Conference - where I'll be giving my Motivation by Chocolate session. Isn't she great?  And how do you like our funky cool fire background?  Woohoo!

The chocolate in Thea's bars is rich Belgian chocolate - super creamy and great.

Here's another version of the promotional wrapper.  This one contains AMAZING chocolate by Jack Fisher confections http://www.jfconfections/ based in San Diego.  It was created for the Lodge at Torrey Pines - a very swanky place.

The ingredients are to die for - English toffee with dark chocolate and cacao nibs.  This was delicious gourmet chocolate that the Lodge has to be thrilled to have its logo on.

The Lodge was my kind of place - not just one, but TWO corporate chocolate bars!!  This one is another version of the chocolate business card and was made by

I love that Arts and Crafts logo - rendered beautifully here.  And it's packed in a lovely Arts and Crafts style tissue paper.  The entire thing is a work of art.  This is the back of the bar - isn't it gorgeous too?

The ingredients here?  62% dark chocolate and Hawaiian sea salt - a sweet, delicious dark chocolate and the perfect amount of sea salt.  A fantastic bar!

And yet another version - here's it's all about the wrapper.  The Gamble House is a famous Arts and Crafts home - when I saw this in the gift shop, I had to grab it.

Not amazing chocolate, but good enough.  Certainly no mockolate!

The bottom line?  Chocolate is good business!  Companies have come up with easy ways to replicate your logo or pictures or website - and who doesn't love chocolate? 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

For those of you who subscribe to my e-mail updates, the last one didn't have the video link - so if you'd like to see it, please visit the blog at

For the rest of you - how funny are these Peep Kabobs?

They are so cute peeking out of their little box!

And this is a Peep Easter parade!!  Love those cuties! 

Since they come on a stick, they are perfect for roasting over a fire.  Yum!

Just Born is going crazy with the chocolate!  Last year they introduced chocolate covered Peeps, this year they've taken it to a whole new level with Peepsters.

Peepsters come in both dark and milk chocolate and Just Born is testing two packaging designs.  One is clearly trying to pattern itself after Dove and their Promises - chocolate as a luxury.  Rich, silky chocolate for grownups:

And then there's this packaging for the Peeps lover - see how big the trademark word Peeps is here?  Much smaller on the other package.

I love the Peep shaped window:

The bags are filled with these individually wrapped dark chocolate marshmallow filled treats:

What took me by surprise was how much more chocolate than marshmallow there was.  These taste way more like chocolate than marshmallow.  And they are really good!

They also come in milk chocolate:

These taste really good - nice chocolate and a slightly sweeter filling.  I couldn't even decide which one I liked the best = both the dark chocolate and the milk chocolate were delish.  Perfect little size - try them!!

Three Musketeers has a marshmallow Easter entry:

Would you believe the Three Musketeers is MORE marshmallowey than the Peepster?  It's a crazy chocolate world - where chocolate bars cross over to marshmallow and Peeps (of all things) go chocolate.

Just goes to show you - your past doesn't have to define your future.  This Easter (and the rest of your life) and be anything you make it. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Peeps New Easter Treats - Yay!!!

In honor of the new Peeps store online ( - here's a preview of all the great goodies Just Born has for us this year!  Autopsy photos, closeups and reviews next!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Chocolate Contest Winner!!!

Thanks to everyone for their great entries!  You all did a super job of celebrating Chocolate Week!  I celebrated by consuming WAY more than my share of Reese's eggs and chocolate dipped Easter shortbread cookies from Target (I reviewed them last year and they are back again!). 

I choose the winner the way the National Confectioners Association suggested - a random drawing.  I couldn't think of a better way - the stories were great - but the recipes were great too and how can you compare the two?  And Cheryl is a chocolate hero - spreading the word to her students.  Check out all the comments to see the terrific stories posted.  And there were a few of you who have been long time readers - argh!!!  How to choose?  So the random drawing it had to be.  I put all the entrant's names in a bowl and had my sweetheart draw one out.  And the winner is.........


Woohoo!  I'll be sending her address to the NCA and they'll send her chocolate package out to her.  Thanks to all of you for taking the time to enter and for helping us celebrate Chocolate Week!  And thanks so much for sharing!!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Chocolate Contest Continues!!!

Okay Gang - post those stories or recipes or whatevah!  The big Chocolate Week contest ends on Sunday at midnight!!!  I got my bag from the National Confectioners Association today and it is cool!!!

It has a great tag from the mysterious and all powerful Chocolate Council:

Looks like a bag of cacao beans:

And here are all the goodies - you could win!!!!  Come on - your odds are really, really good!

I've never seen these adorable mini Green & Black's bars:

This one was toffee and was so so delicious:

Now, remember, the actual contents may vary - but what the heck - it's free and it's chocolate!  Life is good!  Post an entry and you could be opening a great goodie bag like this one!

And don't forget to check out  Here's a tidbit from the site:

There is no scientific evidence, however, that chocolate is addictive. Instead, people who desire chocolate likely do because of its sensory properties, its melting sensations and intense taste. Its aroma and flavors are highly complex. More than 500 compounds responsible for aromas have been found in roasted cocoa beans, and chocolate has more 1,500 flavor compounds—three times the number found in wine.

So see?  We are not addicted to chocolate, we simply love the way it tastes.  And clearly, it is more complex than wine, which makes us even cooler than those snobby wine people.  Chocolate lovers of the world - arise!!!!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Colonial Chocolate

Since it's American Chocolate Week - let's talk about the history of American Chocolate!

Did you know MARS has a Historic Division?  It was established in 2006 with the goal of becoming the undisputed leader in chocolate history.  (You go, MARS!).  Their marketing company sent me a really cool box of their new American Heritage Chocolate.  It's made with only ingredients available during the 17th century.  Hmmmmm.........let's investigate.

Isn't this packaging fabulous?  A VERY cool wooden box:

A beautifully printed book and DVD were in the box.  MARS researched the ingredients and used them to re-create colonial chocolate.  The colonial chocolate making process is recreated in the video.

There were some samples - these are chocolate sticks:

This bag contained more chocolate sticks, but there's also hot chocolate mix in the line.

This contained a big chocolate block designed to grate, shave or melt and use on desserts:

I'm thinking maybe this would be terrific for Colonial Williamsburg or other museums.  Might be really cool for teachers to use with their students.  Definitely a niche product.  (You can check all this out for yourself at - a very well done website.) 

But for the rest of's just not that great.  I don't want to eat more of this - too dry.  It does have a strong chocolate taste, but I'd rather have just a regular old chocolate bar.  Or a handful of        M & Ms.  We've come a long way, baby!

But I love MARS for innovation and cool marketing!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Woohoo! Great Chocolate Giveaway!!

I swear, motivational speaker, Denise Ryan, based in good ol' Raleigh, NC is still alive!  Easter is the last big candy holiday and I just can't stand to miss it!  So I'm going to try to get some posts going.

I hope you all will love this one -  I got a great e-mail from Monica at the National Confectioners Association writing on behalf of the Chocolate Council.  (How cool would it be to get to hang out with the Chocolate Council?  OMG!  Think of the great conversations!  The whole chocolate world is in their hands!  Oooh - the power!)  But I digress.

The big story is that next week is American Chocolate Week (not to be confused with Russian Chocolate Week or Swiss Chocolate Week).  And to commemorate the week - the council is launching a new website

The Savor section was my favorite part of the site.  It talks about how to taste chocolate and why it's just so dang irresistible.  There's no peanut butter tab, but hey, I'm sure the Peanut Council is on it.

So let's get to the giveaway!!!!  Monica is offering YOU, dear readers, a chance at a Chocolate Gift Pack from the Council!!!!  See below:

I don't know if you all can really tell from the pic - but this is a lot of stuff!  Now, Monica said that what you get may not be exactly this assortment, but who cares, right?  It's FREE chocolate!!!!!  And a lot of it!  Are you with me?

So what do you have to do?

Monica suggested you all share your own "Story of Chocolate" - could be a memory, a favorite recipe, something about how you enjoy chocolate now - be creative!  I'm going to put all the names of everyone who submits something that took a little effort and pull out one at random. 

If you just post something like "I ate chocolate for breakfast today" - that is too lame.  Give me something good - I know you all have talent!

I'm thinking anyone who takes the time to do something has a pretty good chance at this!  I'm going to give you all Chocolate Week - that means through midnight the 26th.  You can enter multiple times with different stuff if you want.

If I pick you, you'll give me your address and NCA will mail you the packet - how awesome is that????

Good luck, my beauties!!!

And you can always check out my cool website at

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Confession is Good for the Soul

I have a confession to make.

I went by Walmart this weekend to check out the Easter candy.  Didn't see much new - with the exception of Marshmallow Three Musketeers which I'll review as soon as I get back to my camera (I'm on the road).  So to comfort myself I bought a bag of Reese's Pieces Eggs.  Have you tied these?  I've reviewed them before:

These are like regular Reese's Pieces on steroids - they have two or three times the peanut butter.  They are simply fabulous.

What is my confession?  I ate the entire bag.  Once you start, you are powerless to stop.  They own you.

I'm not even going to tell you what happened with the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bugles I also bought.

So take this post as a recommendation - both of these products are soooooo good!  And a warning - they are the work of the Devil.  You will be powerless to resist them.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Ghirardelli All Natural Chocolate

My beloved readers know that, in my book, politics and chocolate don't mix.  I don't care if chocolate is made by underpaid farmers or if it is produced by highly paid factory workers.  I only care if it is good.

Ghirardelli has this new all natural line, but they don't beat you over the head with it.  They aren't screaming about the evils of chemicals.  Their other stuff has the chemicals, so I guess that wouldn't be very wise of them.

Ghirardelli's PR people sent me some coupons for free samples and I managed to find all the first three flavors (milk, almond and hazelnut), but couldn't find the crisp to save my life.  I finally resorted to buying a combo bag that was on massive sale at Kohl's. (On sale because it was in a Christmas package - lucky me!)

I swear sale chocolate somehow tastes better.  And if it's a really great deal, I feel I must buy it.  Look to see me on an upcoming Hoarders episode.  I'll be the crazy candy lady.  They'll try to take my candy away and I'll claw their eyes out.

The first flavor is milk chocolate:

Love the Ghirardelli logo.

A nice, creamy and delish milk chocolate.  If you've been looking for an all natural chocolate - here you go!

This is my favorite of the bunch - hazelnut:

Look at all those nuts!

I like the mix of the hazelnut with the milk chocolate - a great combo.  The slightly bitter hazelnut sets off the sweet milk chocolate very well.  Love this one!

Here's almond:

It looks like a lot of nuts, but the almonds got lost in the chocolate - I would have liked more of them.

Here's my crazy assorted Christmas sale bag:

Seems to be a lot of rice crisps.

I gotta tell you, I've never been a big fan of the rice crisp.  Nestle Crunch is lame to me.  Why take up space that could be filled with about 1,000,000 better things?  Nuts, caramel, fruit, peanut butter, even just chocolate.  Yeah, yeah - they have an interesting texture.  Whatever!  They have zero taste.

Here's the bottom line - if you want a natural chocolate line - you've got it!  Delicious, creamy Ghirardelli milk chcocolate in four flavors.  It.s good - and with the hazelnut - possibly great.