Friday, December 9, 2011

Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!

While researching an assignment for a client, I stumbled upon several tastebud tempting chocolate confections. Lucky me! I decided these were too yummylicious to keep to myself so I'd thought I would share them with you. If you have a chocolate freak (I mean lover) on your Christmas list, a gift from one of these chocolate purveyors may be just what your looking for. Just so you know, I am not being paid or have received any incentives from any of these companies that I'm listing. I found them on my own and they appealed to my own chocolate demons. 

Lake Champlain Chocolates. Located in Vermont, it was established in 1983 and continues to produces chocolates made on site. If you are in the area, you can visit their shop and take a tour of their factory kitchens to see their candies being made. Lake Champlain Chocolates offers a Tower of Obsession for the fine chocolate lover. It contains three chocolate boxes stacked in a tower that include caramels, dark chocolate squares, truffles and milk chocolate covered macadamia nuts.

Fannie May. As a Chicago-girl, I grew up with Fannie May. Every Christmas there was at least a box or two or three of Mint Meltaways in our home. My parents always brought them as hostess gifts and it was a treat to have a Meltaway after mom's lasagna dinner. A Chicago favorite since the 1920’s, Fannie May Candies features multiple choices for chocolate gifts. Mint Meltaways are a chocolate and mint creations perfect for the holidays.

Mackinac Island Fudge. Mackinac Island, located in northern Michigan is home to the Mackinac Island Fudge Shop. Fortunately, their decadent fudge is available online. This shop’s fudge style is more than 100 years old and continues to be made in their kitchens, not a factory. There are several gourmet flavors to choose from including Black Forest fudge, penuche walnut fudge, mocha pecan fudge and German chocolate cake fudge.

Hershey chocolate. I was thinking a giant/oversized coffee mug or ice cream bowl filled with Hershey candy bars would be a whimsical and delicious gift for fans of this American chocolate institution. It appeals to the little kid in me. **hint, hint darling Hubs** The online Hershey’s shop has several fun items that could be used as containers to stuff with a variety of Hershey’s chocolate bars. Wrap it up in cellophane and attach a bow! Or you could just opt for the fifteen-pound tin of Hershey’s chocolates!

Vosges chocolates. Wowsers! That's all I have to say. I'll say it again. Wowsers! Voseges makes exotic truffles. The one that caught my eye was their gift box filled with sixteen dark and milk chocolate bacon truffles. Yes, I said BACON truffles! Each truffle is made with organic cream and is topped with bacon caramel toffee or hickory-smoked bacon.Really, do you want to miss out on these? I didn't think so.

I hope your mouth is watering and that you have enjoyed reading this sweet post as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Been gone, but coming back!

I was going to wait until December 1 to begin posting again, but.....I found myself not being able to wait. I've missed writing posts and am anxious to get back into a routine. I have been doing NaNoWriMo this month and it's going fine. I won't make 50K words but I am thrilled with what I've already accomplished so it's all good for me.

**insert my big cheesy grin here**

My freelance projects have kept me super busy, but again that's a very good thing going into the holiday season as the extra cash will be much appreciated. There have been lots of other things a-happening as stuff, personal stuff and again more family stuff. Have I mentioned I'm a mom? LOL

Anyhoo, I'm back and I'm looking forward to sharing some really neat posts with everyone.

I've kept up with my reading during this hectic time in my life, mainly because it's the one thing that helps me keep my sanity, along with my daily workouts. I have several books that I want to share with you and today I am sharing my short review of Robison Wells' young adult novel VARIANT.

Variant (Variant, #1)Variant by Robison Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

VARIANT held my interest from the first chapter to the last. Robison Wells winds an intriguing story that at first seems like it is moving in one direction, and then BAM, it twists and takes you somewhere unexpected. I liked that. His main character Benson Fisher is likable and believeable despite the unbelievable situation he has found himself in.

Without sharing any spoilers, VARIANT takes the reader into Maxfield Academy, a boarding school without teachers or adults of any kind. Ruled by three "gangs" and an invisible presence who communicates via TV and computer screen. Benson is the newest student at Maxfield Academy and from the moment he steps foot onto the property, his life is no longer his own. Author Wells, offers several twists and turns as we experience Maxfield with Benson.

VARIANT is a quick read and one that was difficult to put down. If you enjoy stories like the "Twilight Zone" and Michael Grant's "Gone" series, VARIANT will not disappoint. Even if you are new this type of suspenseful YA fiction, VARIANT will not disappoint. It is a recommended read!

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Trouble with Comment box

Just a very quick post here...I have been told that there has been some trouble getting comments to post in the box. I just tried to post a reply and was unable myself. I've also had the same problem at other Blogger pages. Not sure if I've done something wrong here, on my computer or if it is a glitch through Blogger. I am going to investigate this further tomorrow, so please bear with me. It will get fixed, I have faith!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

GONE is better than good!

I don’t remember how I stumbled onto Michael Grant’s book Gone I was probably cruising the YA aisles in Borders looking for something new and the cover caught with the large white letters caught my attention. I am so glad I selected the book. From the first page, the reader is plunged into a world where everything has gone topsy-turvy.

On an ordinary November morning an extraordinary event occurs. Everyone over the age of 14 disappeared from Perdido Beach, California. Poofed. Gone. No more parents, teachers, cops or authority figures. Left alone, the children must survive without phones, internet or any way to communicate to the outside world.

It’s a new, dangerous world. Nicknamed the FAYZ for the Fall-Out Youth Zone, the kids must learn to work together for survival. Bullies, mutating animals and a power-hungry sociopathic teen are only the start of the troubles that will plague the already scared kids. In addition, the "littles" need round-the-clock care and there is a small problem with kids beginning to develop strange powers. A war between good and evil is unavoidable.

Although Gone features multiple characters, keeping track of each is not difficult. The shifts in action are fluid. Author Grant easily maintains the balance between action and exposition. He builds the tension in the book effortlessly.

The reader becomes acquainted with Sam Temple, Astrid Ellison, her autistic brother Little Pete and Perdido Beach newcomer Edilio Escobar. We can’t overlook Sam’s best friend and surfing buddy Quinn Gaither either. Is he friend or foe?  Other older children step up in the FAYZ to help keep things organized but when school bully Orc and his sidekick Howard get out of hand, keeping order will fall to Sam.

Sam can handle bullies, bossy Astrid and even manage his own developing powers, but can he handle the arrival of the Coates Academy newcomers? Do the boarding school students want to join forces with the town kids or is there something more sinister afoot? Caine, Diana, Drake and Computer Jack seem sincere but Astrid suspects a hidden agenda.

Gone's dialogue is believable teen dialogue. The conversations could have been plucked easily from any middle school. The banter between characters in enjoyable and Grant develops their relationships quickly, building on each throughout the book.

Gone by Michael Grant was originally released in 2008. There are currently three additional books available in this series:  Hunger, Lies and Plague. Book number 5 is to be released in 2012 and is titled Fear. The concluding book will be titled Light. You can check out author Michael Grant on GoodReads or at Harper Teen

Gone is a recommended read. This is now one of my favorite YA series and I am really looking forward to the release of Fear next year.  



Saturday, September 3, 2011

It's a Fit Frappe Friday

I signed up for Klout and have been enjoying the experience. It is mildly amusing to watch my "influence" numbers dip and climb. I have found several interesting people to follow on Twitter through Klout that I otherwise might have missed, so that is a perk. The other perk of Klout is, well the Perks.

It all started when someone in my stream tweeted they had just received free (yes, FREE) Secret deodorant and was sharing with Twitter friends. A couple of clicks later, I was the happy recipient of free deodorant as well. I began checking in the Perks section of Klout and a couple of weeks ago found myself eligible for a Fit Frappe giveaway from Big Train. I wasn't sure what the Fit Frappe was or how it would taste, but I'm always up to try a new product. Click, click and click and I was registered to receive the Perk.

My Fit Frappe arrived this week and Woo-Double-Hoo!!!!!!!!!! First of all, I love getting packages and second, upon opening not only were there 5 sample servings of different flavors. These included mocha, espresso, vanilla, vanilla latte and chocolate. I would have posted a picture but we've already enjoyed 3 of the 5! The generous folks at Big Train also sent a 36.3-ounce, that's 2.26 llbs or 1,026 grams of protein drink mix. Wowsers!

So what exactly is Fit Frappe? Fit Frappe is a meal replacement drink that contains 21 grams of protein, 3.5 grams of fat and 130 calories per 16 fluid ounce serving. It does not contain cholesterol or trans fat and has only 300 mgs of sodium per 16 fluid ounce serving. These are the nutritional stats for the mocha flavor as it was the flavor I requested.

The powered mix can be blended with ice in a blender (or Magic Bullet), mixed in a shaker and served over ice or served hot. The canister has an easy-to-hold handle indentation and twist off lid. It came with a measuring scoop. The mixing directions are clearly presented on the side and very easy to follow. Today I made myself a blended mocha for lunch along with a banana. And it was goooooood!!!

The chocolate-y aroma from the powder was very enticing as I measured two scoopfuls into the blender where I had already added about a cup and a half of ice. Six ounces of cold water went in next and then it was blending time. In about two minutes I had a frothy, icy mocha creation! The mocha flavor was lush, sweet but not cloying. The coffee flavor was present and balanced nicely with the chocolate. In one word, it was...


I frequent a local coffee shop which offers some pretty darn good coffee and their frappes are delicious. My standard order is their sugar free mocha blended, made with skim milk. It is refreshing and consistently good. However, after experiencing the Fit Frappe, made at home in my own blender, well....I have to honestly say that I like the Fit Frappe better. It had more body and better flavor. I also didn't have to get in my car and drive six miles to get it!

My 15 year-old son has now had both the vanilla latte and the vanilla flavors and he loved them both! Not a blended drink fan, I made his in a shaker and then served it over ice. He drained the vanilla latte flavor quicker than he does a glass of chocolate milk. The plain vanilla was also equally enjoyed. I did taste both flavors and had to agree that they were very tasty, the vanilla strong but not overpowering and the drink's sweetness nicely balanced.

The final verdict in our house is that Big Train's Fit Frappe drink mixes are a WINNER!

If you'd like to find out more about this new drink mix, check them out on Facebook at or at Twitter at @bigtrain.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

FiberOne 90 Calorie Brownies! Found 'em & Ate 'em

FiberOne 90 calorie brownies are a new offering from the FiberOne family. Less than $3 a box at Walmart, the new treat comes in two flavors, fudge and chocolate peanut butter. I purchased chocolate peanut butter and enjoyed my first taste today.

I was already a fan of the FiberOne bars, both the original and the 90 Calorie varieties. I reviewed the original FiberOne bars for  Here’s a bit of that review.

The FiberOne bar proves to be a tasty snack choice for those that are health aware. If you are looking to increase the fiber in your diet, this product should be considered. A single Fiber One bar has approximately six more grams of fiber than one medium banana or apple.

Link to read rest of review.

I decided to enjoy my FiberOne 90 calorie brownie with a cup of coffee as a mid-morning sweet treat. Packaged individually, the .89-ounce brownie is easy to toss into a purse or bag. Each wrapper contains the brownie’s nutritional information and ingredient list. The front of the package matches the front of the product’s box, sporting an enticing picture of a brownie.

The brownie’s package is easy and quick to open, revealing a square morsel about 2 inches by 2 inches. The aroma is sweet and chocolate-y but not overpowering. The top of the brownie has a peanut butter drizzle. It is attractive and appealing, but really, I’m more about the tasting! I broke the brownie into four pieces. It was not crumbling, so eating it at my desk was not messy which is always a plus.

The first bite was not too sweet while still being distinctively chocolate. The texture was not as dense as a Little Debbie fudge brownie but it was pleasant. Unfortunately, there was a lack of peanut butter flavor from the drizzle. The picture on the product box and package wrapping shows peanut butter chips dotting the inside of the brownie. When I broke mine into four pieces, I could only see two peanut butter chips. However, upon tasting the second piece, I could taste at least three peanut butter chips. I still would have liked to have a bit more peanut butter taste blending with the chocolate.

Sometimes with low calorie desserts, especially baked items, there is a funky aftertaste. There was not any funny aftertaste with the FiberOne 90 calorie brownie. It went well with a cup of coffee and I plan to try another one with a glass of milk very soon. The brownie does contain three grams of fat, 17 carbs and 110 mgs of sodium. It also contains one gram of protein and no cholesterol. According to the box, each brownie has 20% of the “Daily Value of fiber.”

Overall opinion?

The FiberOne 90 calorie brownie is good. Tasty. It’s a mildly sweet treat that pairs well with coffee and makes a nice mid-morning snack. With only 90 calories and three grams of fat, I feel I can indulge in a brownie without the guilt.

Would I ditch the donut for a FiberOne 90 calorie brownie? Absolutely!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Start of school = a mystery?

Summer has concluded for many of us, our children back in school and our houses disturbingly silent. Well, maybe not so disturbingly. The silence may be a very welcomed time to collect thoughts and have a bit of "mom" time while the wee and not so wee ones are off a-learning.

I love to treat myself during the first week of school to a little extra reading time. I also believe that any time of the year is a good time for reading a mystery, especially a classic Agatha Christie. My favorite Christie book is Death on the Nile. I love the characters, all of them, even the evil ones and I adore how she winds the clues throughout. You can solve the mystery as you read if you pay close enough attention. I've never written a full review of the book because I love it so much and I'm certain what would start out as a 500 word review would turn into a 2500 word essay. This is what I have written on GoodReads.

Death on the NileDeath on the Nile by Agatha Christie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Death on the Nile has it all, diverse characters, exotic locale and Agatha Christie's famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Christie combines intrigue, romance and mystery during a luxurious cruise through Egypt in a classic whodunit? tale that does not disappoint.

Not very much, right? Nonetheless, if you are a lover of mysteries and have not read Death on the Nile, I strongly recommend the book. It is wonderful. I even enjoyed the movie. The 1978 film featured an all-star cast including Peter Ustinov as Christie's dectective Hercule Poroit. Other notable performers include Maggie Smith, Bette Davis, David Niven, George Kennedy, Mia Farrow and Angela Lansbury.

Check out this 2-minute YouTube montage from the movie. It's a great introduction to the cast.

Have you read any good mysteries lately?