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Love thyself.
Love thyself.

Ring it in, hug it out


In everyday life and especially when faced with the abundance of social activity the holidays and New Year’s brings, I sometimes premeditate conversations. Meaning, if I know I am going to be face-to-face in a social situation with a certain person, I sometimes script what I am going to chat about with them.

I consider it a sort of premonition, but whatever you want to call it, it sometimes goes so far as me drafting soliloquies and hearing my dialog partner’s response.

The last exchange I fantasized had to do with my new passion for painting. I was asking an experienced oil painter their opinion and advice on the medium. The imaginary exchange culminated with me asking her if she thought it mattered if one was "good" at painting in order to pursue it.

Which brings me to this page and this discussion with you.

Is being "good" at something what makes it worth doing? Do you have to be "good" at something to enjoy it, to pursue it either as a hobby or professionally or to declare you "do" it?

I run into this issue a lot. I discover that if I am not almost instantaneously "good" at something I undertake, whether in my leisure life or work world, I tend to let it go and move on to the next thing. Putting these words on paper makes me see the tragedy in this on a multitude of levels.

I seem have this programmed, pre-conceived notion – a personal, self-rule of sorts – that dictates that in order for me to "do" something (and I suppose to enjoy it) I have to have an immediate proficiency with it.

The ludicrous nature of this is not lost on me as I watch the characters form the words in black type on white page in Microsoft Word.

It disappoints me that no matter how many strides I move forward in self-acceptance, there is still a trail of hypercritical thoughts in my wake. I realize I need to let go of this unhealthy habit and refocus on the process, not on the outcome or my personally perceived skill level.

Which brings us around to good old New…

Dig in!
Dig in!

Mayana Chocolate brings a sweet spot to Spooner

Chocolate is intoxicating. Even before the first taste melted in my mouth, I can vividly remember wafting waves of warm chocolate being exhaled from The Ambrosia Chocolate Factory. I became immersed in that scent, like being bathed in a pool of warm liquid cocoa. 

Chocolate is sentimental. It’s a favorite flavor for traditional birthday/holiday goodies like ice cream, cake and countless branded cookies/candies that meld with emotions from the events they are consumed at. The dreamy delight is also a symbol of love and affection when given as a gift to that someone special. 

Chocolate is versatile. It can be enjoyed hot, cold, frozen, solid or liquid. Heck, molecular gastronomy has probably found a way to use chocolate as a gas. 

Chocolate can be consumed or enjoyed topically in body lotions. Its scent is used in candles, perfumes and colognes. Its hue is utilized for shades of paint, makeup and fabric. Chocolate even describes a breed of beloved dog – the Chocolate Lab. And it’s antioxidants and flavonoids are utilized for their health benefits in supplements, powders and vitamins.

Chocolate is necessary. For indulgers and dieters alike, just a tiny square broken off a bar or individually unwrapped will often satiate the sweetest of teeth. 

Life without chocolate? Not sure that is a scenario I’m willing to negotiate.

And now, chocolate is local to Spooner. Situated in the upper northwest corner of Wisconsin, almost five hours from Milwaukee, a road trip may be in order to discover Wisconsin’s newest culinary treasure – Mayana Chocolate.

"Mayana" means "the future" in Spanish, and if these morsels of layered delicate flavor are an indication, the future of Mayana Chocolate is very sweet indeed. 

Conceived and run by husband and wife team, Daniel and Tamara Herskovic, who moved to Spooner following Tamara’s parents relocation there.

Award-winning Mayana Chocolate utilizes artisan ingredients tempered into artistic and scrumptiously deliciou…

Ravaged by retail.
Ravaged by retail.

There are no shopping "quickies" this time of year

I woke up last Saturday morning disheveled. Exhausted. Abused.

Black Friday was over – and what did I really have to show for it?

I ruminated in the rumpled sheets. As if it weren’t enough that retailers went into Christmas mode while most of us were still trick or treating, I was also still really reeling from the notion that Thanksgiving Eve has now been christened "Brown Thursday."  

It seems the hours following Thanksgiving dinner are no longer the lazy, family-filled, "I feel fat" fest they used to be. No more are we are left to revel in the stoned state of food coma. Now, we are urged to pry ourselves from the grip of relatives and haul our full bellies out that very evening, to spend what should be kin time - in line. 

I lay beneath my sheets questioning my personal purchasing actions, the reckless abandon with which I wielded my plastic, wooed into the fervent passion of a spree by tantalizing commercials and seductive email blasts. There were even mobile texts that pulled me through the doors of alluring establishments to take advantage of their tawdry and totally enticing deals.

The post-Black Friday walk of shame weighed heavily on me. I slunk out of bed and poured my morning coffee, getting a chill from the memory of the momentary thrill I had gleefully partaken in when suddenly, my phone started to scream at me. It continuously shouted alerts in the following hours, signaling more discount codes and special offers.  

"Black Friday Extended!" 

What? No! I thought there would be some reprieve until Cyber Monday! (Which in actuality has slithered into Cyber Week.) The assault continued. I gathered my willpower and refused the overt gestures, as I had already booked a date with "Small Business Saturday." I tend to prefer my ‘tail local.  

The weekend continued, filled with invitations to slut out my credit card to earnest economic sirens, to participate in the pillage of door buster deals. I gave myself over once again on Cyber Monday, ha…