And I Wrote This Book.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween! Angelina Jolie costume

Happy Halloween from the Engel kids in 1971 (left to right): Robyn, Glenn-David, Jonathan, Dawn

And I rarely post the same things on facebook as I do here, but this one was popular. I like being liked, so here's me now - posing as Angelina Jolie (all leg). 
Be safe, enjoy sweet treats, and Happy Halloween or - if you're not celebrating - happy Thursday and week's end!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Erotica

Here's an oldie but a naughty one.
Have a good Wednesday and -as relevant- a safe, fun Halloween.
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Bite me.

You suck.

Sweep me away.

No treats, just tricks for you today.

 Fill my bag with all you've got

It's what you give that makes me hot.

You scare.

You creep.

You're ugly too.

My zombie freak,

My favorite shrew.

I love and fear you just the same. 

Your candy corns scream out my name.

Now hide your face beneath a mask.

Let's nail down this dreaded task

And score and score until the dawn

We'll lick and chew til candy's gone.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hershey's: Known for Kisses, Has no Heart or Conscience

Sorry to be so late in the game. You've probably already bought your Halloween candy. If not, or if you don't know about Hershey's dark side, please read.

Warning: This information, while distressing, is too important to ignore. Please be mindful of these facts when purchasing Halloween candy and/or when feeding a cocoa craving. The data to follow is based on my research in the fall of 2010. Hershey’s hasn’t budged since then.
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Until a few years ago, I frequently bought a blissful dose of cheap (i.e., Hershey’s) chocolate, and M & Ms were my favorite. But I was ignorant of the true cost of this pleasantry.

The harsh facts: Thousands of children are kidnapped, trafficked, and sold to cocoa plantations every year. The average price per child: $1.20-1.90. Often, these child slaves have no concept of chocolate. Rather, they are forced to endure 12-18 hour workdays, handle machetes without proper training, climb high trees – while exposed to hazardous chemicals in a treacherous climate. Should they rebel or perform “poorly,” they are beaten. Should they try to escape, they are killed. A vast majority of these known abuses occur in West Africa’s Ivory Coast.

Despite high-powered opposition, Hershey's continues business with the Ivory Coast. Certainly the world’s largest chocolate corporation, boasting over $5 billion in revenue annually, can afford to take a stance.
This monstrous entity acquired Sharffen-Berger in 2005 and Dagoba in 2006. It continues to produce many non-chocolate products, such as Twizzlers, along with countless non-food items.

Fortunately, there are good alternatives. The most assuredly exploitation-free chocolate carries a Fair Trade Label. We pay more, but dollars go directly to the development of community resources, such as schools or hospitals. Fair trade cocoa originates in Belize, Bolivia, Cameroon, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Nicaragua, and Peru. To find out a candy's source, look at the back label.

Organic chocolate is another good option (e.g., Newman’s Organics).  

There’s much guesstimating in this area. Here's my best effort to delineate some of the “good” vs the “bad.” On the good team, I included companies that have begun socially conscious efforts.
 
Good Chocolate: Cadbury Canada, Ben & Jerry's, Starbucks, Ah!laska, Endangered Species, Ithaca, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Newman's Organics, Clif Bar, Guittard, Green and Black's, Mayordomo/Mexican chocolate, European chocolate, Nirvana, Rapunzel, smaller mom & pop brands, and lots more.

Bad Chocolate: Hershey’s and any chocolate from West Africa's Ivory Coast, Mars/M&M's, Dove, Dagoba (taken over by Hershey's, though they do have one fair trade chocolate bar), Sharffen Berger (also taken over by Hershey's).


Gary, worldly, handsome servant of Penny, modest internet superstar, provided this link. It's a great site through which to order fair trade chocolate.

Regarding Candy Corn: Brach's isn't fair trade, but it's not Hershey's! So if you haven't yet bought Halloween candy and you can't afford fair-trade goodies, buy candy corns or candy pumpkins (Brach's mellowcreme). At least you won't be supporting the world's biggest and most evil chocolate corporation. Thank you.

When in doubt, avoid Hershey’s and Mars, Sharffen Berger, Dagoba (and any company acquired by Hershey's).

Here are some folks fighting the good fight, and my sources of this information:
http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/
Fair Trade Labeling Organization
Fair Trade Candy Blog
http://www.visionursd.edu/
http://www.saveafricachildren.com/
http://www.globalexchange.com/
http://www.change.org/
International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Chico Miscellany: Sundays in My City

Thanks to hostess extraordinaire, UnknownMami, we're back for another glimpse of Chico, CA. To tour the world of bloggers' hometowns, visit her site here.


Unknown Mami
I didn't know there's a plant called Chocolate Mint. Did you? It smells like chocolate mint too. I found this gem at the Little Red Hen Nursery, a non-profit nursery in the heart of Chico.
A cute 'ole time mobile in my neighborhood. It reminds me of the car ride (Autopia) at Disneyland.
I snuggled up to an ex at Dracula's Closet. He looked a bit hammered, and didn't mind or notice.











At the end of the day...a peaceful sunset.
photos taken this past week-ish.

Have a great Sunday and new week! Thanks for stopping by! 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Who's Your Hero? Blogfest: My Hero, Rachel Lloyd

JL Campbell tackles socially relevant issues that many prefer to ignore, such as the traumas endured by foster children. This week, we celebrate the release of her latest novel,Saving Sam, with a Who's Your Hero? Blogfest! Congratulations, JL!  




And now, my hero
   Rachel Lloyd

She's not famous like Snooki or Bieber. But she has scores of fans, most of whom are quietly grateful. She's a well-known expert on sex-trafficking and, specifically, the sexual exploitation of children. This disgusting multi-billion dollar industry remains the fastest growing industry in the world, reaping more dollars than Starbucks, Nike, and Google combined. Teens and young women (and a very small portion of males) are seduced into sex trafficking – through craigslist, at bus depots, shopping malls, parks…down the street from you and me. Human sex trafficking isn’t only a third-world problem. It's worldwide, and it’s striking in staggering numbers.

I was fortunate enough to attend a training by her. Halfway through the class, Rachel Lloyd said that she herself had escaped from life as a victim; she was a sex slave. Not only did Rachel survive horrifying brutalities, she founded a non-profit, GEMS (Girls' Educational and Mentoring Services) to help other victims of commercial sexual exploitation. A young woman in her early twenties then, Rachel had no money or concept of how to run a non-profit. She had the drive, though, along with personal insights and great compassion. Rachel speaks with sensitivity, eloquence, and exceptional competence. She also authored a powerful book, Girls Like Us.

GEMS has helped hundreds of female victims of sex trafficking. Rachel Lloyd was named one of the 50 Women Who Change the World and one of 100 Women Who Shape New York. She’s my hero. On a fun little side note, I sent Rachael a message through facebook to tell her this. She wrote back, thanking me for the lovely start to her morning. The fact that she wrote back attests to her heroism, as far as I’m concerned. True heroes are above the rest of us. They just don’t think they are. Thank you, Rachel, for your heroism.

To view Rachel Lloyd on TedTalks, go here


Thank you, JL, for this wonderfully unique and inspiring blogfest. 
Much success with Saving Sam!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Halloween Pumpkin Head Horse, Sundays in My City

Hello, there.

UnknownMami is at it again: hosting another glorious week of Sundays in My City. Visit her site to visit the world of bloggers' hometowns.

We're gearing up for Halloween in Chico, CA.

I'm doing that by eating things like this pumpkin 'n chocolate ("guilt free") gelato from Powell's Candy Store. Not the most natural combo of flavors, but it was refreshingly yummy and "guilt lite" (i.e., a mere 200-300 calories short of guilt free).
DuPont, our relentlessly spirited horse, is....um, a very good sport.

Night skies are gearing up for an eerie Halloween too.

This duck (mis-placed)  makes me smile because he/she appears to be smiling. Have a happy, safe, peaceful Sunday and new week.

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Campaign Platform, a Non-political Political Post

Jenny Matlock
With all the political shenanigans these days, I thought I'd re-post my political stance...

I wrote this one in October of 2010. It's thanks to Jenny Matlock, for her Saturday Centus prompts. This weekly fun activity involves creating a piece in no more than 100 words (not including the prompt). The prompt for this one -- in October, 2010 -- is bolded below. 
Enjoy, and vote for me.

Campaign Platform

In closing, my friends, I will do everything within my power to bring about peace and harmony. My plan for ridding the universe of evil requires just one simple tool: a hammer.

If I had a hammer, my friends, I’d hammer at the meanies.
I’d hammer at their kneezies, and
All over their hands.
I’d hammer at their noses,
I’d hammer at their toes-es.
I’d hammer at their groins,
I’d hammer ‘til they're knowin'
That it’s about love between my brothers and my sisters
a-a-all over this la-a-a-and.
Ooh ooh ooh ooh.

Vote for me. I'm headed for Home Depot to buy a hammer.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Courage


Extending the dance, 
When you’ve long lost your groove
Swimming to shore too frail to move.

Stepping towards light, when darkness abounds
Permitting a laugh amid no other sounds.

Confronting a beast no one should endure
It strikes with no warning, no reprieve and no cure.
 
Snuggling with hope, when the pain you can’t bare
Unveiling your heart in the face of despair.

Conveying a smile, when you’d much rather cry
Speaking the truth though it’s safer to lie.

Taking a stance, when integrity’s lost
Forcing what’s right in spite of the cost.
 

Holding to faith in your value and worth
Maintaining a grace that softens the earth.
 

Passing with ease
As you air your last breath

A hero whose soul
Transcends life
and death.

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Thank you to those who shared stories of courage. Please send healing thoughts and, if you're so inclined, prayers to:

 -Our dear blog friend, Mike Swift's twin sister, Michele/Shelly, who is beginning a very grueling, lengthy battle against breast cancer. Mike and Shelly lost their precious mother only three months ago. We're here for you both.

 -Elaine, Debra's good friend, who is going through radiation.

 -Lara, whose cancer spread from her breasts to her brain. Lara is a friend of Carol. Carol is a twice-survivor of breast cancer and a close friend of mine. Carol and Lara met through their efforts for the American Cancer Society. 

   Our love, faith, and support to all of you!
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On a more cheery note, the Giveaway winner is...Cindy, nominated by Ruth! "A former classmate of my husband (Cindy) had it twice. She is a teacher and had to drive up to Des Moines every day for chemo for 7 weeks. She is one of the sweetest people I know." She's doing great now!

Debra, JoJo, and Susan, I'll be sending copies of my poetry book to your heroic friends too. We'll chat (i.e., email) off-line. Smiles.

Congratulations, Cindy and Ruth!
A safe, peaceful week to all! 
Keep faith, a smile, and a stash of chocolate.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

DuPont does Pink! Breast Cancer Awareness


Thank you for visiting Chico, CA, and the horse we've grown to love. Draped in pink, Du Pont helps raise awareness about breast cancer. He's a winner, always doing the town proud.

I'm displaying these photos for Sundays in My City, hosted by a warm-hearted wonder, UnknownMami. And they tie-in with my Breast Cancer Awareness Giveaway. I'll announce the winner Monday. For now, here are some stories of courage, strength, tragic loss, love, faith, and perseverance. Thank you to everyone who commented. There's still time to share a story if you'd like. I appreciate it, and I'm sure many others do too.

I'd like to ask a favor: Please lend support (and prayer, if you're so inclined) to our dear blog friend, Mike Swift, as his twin sister, Michele/Shelly, is gearing up for a lengthy, grueling battle with breast cancer. We're here for you, Mike and Shelly! 
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Debra She Who Seeks said...I'd like to nominate my friend Elaine who is currently battling breast cancer. She is having her radiation treatments now. The chemo made her quite sick and landed her in hospital a couple of times. But Elaine has been a real trooper throughout. We all hope for a successful resolution and a long life ahead for her!
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Daisy said...An aunt of mine struggled with fighting breast cancer. So far she is winning the battle as it seems that it was diagnosed early enough that it could be taken care of.
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Julie Luek said...Four years ago three of my college pals and I started getting together. Now in our mid-40s, our kids almost grown, we drew together, reunited, laughing like the school girls we once were. Our reunion after all these years, was motivated by the breast cancer diagnosis of one of us, Joan. Every year after, once a year, we got together, as Joan bravely fought. We shed tears over her fears-- not seeing her children graduate college, get married or meet her grandchildren.
Last August (2012) was our last reunion. Joan slipped from our world that October. To all the kids she touched in her life of teaching, to her family and to us, her lifelong friends, it is a loss we still mourn. Here's to the awareness and hope for the future.  

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Theresa said...My paternal grandmother lost the fight against breast cancer. I really wish I would have had the chance to have met her. I hear she was a great lady, one with a really big heart.
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JoJo said...I'd like to nominate my friend Jaime, who discovered a hot mass under her breast in 2008, at the age of 29. It was breast cancer and she went through hell with all of the treatments, radiation, chemo, etc. She lost her beautiful red hair, but she soldiered on. She named the lump Tumora and decided to adopt a warrior attitude toward defeating it. All that time, she refused to give up and refused to be 'poor me'. She's now cancer free.
*************************************************************
Cheryl said…My walking partner is a breast cancer survivor. Sally was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was just 28 years old and had to have a bilateral mastectomy. She has been cancer free for many years.
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Tammy said...Well, breast cancer has touched those close to me quite a few times. It killed my maternal grandmother as a young woman and my paternal grandmother was a survivor. A Coworker died young leaving a two-year old son behind. But my hero award goes to my great friend Carol who has twice fought and beaten breast cancer with a positive attitude and incredible resoluteness. She is someone who appreciates life’s many adventures and gives so much.
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Susan Flett Swiderski said...Yes, men can definitely get breast cancer. My brother did, and he was only in his thirties at the time. Unfortunately, I know way too many people who've fought and lost a battle with breast cancer. I'd like to nominate my life-long friend Caryl, who won her fight, in spite of being told by her doctor that she was a goner at one point.
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Empty Nest Insider said...I know that you lost your mom at a young age to cancer. We lost our cousin several years ago to breast cancer. She left behind two small boys who were only two and four years old.
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Ruth said...Sadly, I know too many people that have had it. Cancer rates are fairly high in my area. A former classmate of my husband, Cindy, had it twice. She is a teacher and had to drive up to Des Moines every day for chemo for 7 weeks. She is one of the sweetest people I know.
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M.L. Swift said...It comes at a difficult period in the lives of this household.
A month ago, my twin sister (Michele/Shelly) went in for her yearly mammo and found out she had BC. They noticed this spot last year, but "weren't concerned," and didn't biopsy, although they did biopsy another area that proved to be calcification. We figured the other (you know, the one they weren't worried about!) was the same
In this year's mammo, it had changed. A biopsy proved it to be what's known as Triple Negative BC, and is pretty serious. These past few weeks have seen many doctor's appointments: surgeon, oncologist, MRI's, an upcoming PET scan, and the like.
So sis will need a double mastectomy. The cancer is close to the chest wall and has affected the nodes...scary shit. Almost six months of chemo will precede the surgery so they can shrink it first and get it more away from the chest wall. Nodes will be coming out.
Both of us are scared, but putting it in God's hands (it just dawned on me—that sounds like God is copping a feel from my sis).
This came to light a mere three months after Mom passed, so the reality of sis's mortality is staring us both in the face. Please keep her in your prayers.
My aunt, a survivor, is doing well and has been lifting her up with hope and prayer.

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Momma Fargo said...My mother survived breast cancer and I am very proud of her.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Breast Cancer Awareness Giveaway!

Some Facts: 
  • Breast Cancer is by far the most common cancer in women worldwide.
  • Men get breast cancer too, though at a much lower rate than women (under 1%).
  • There are 1.38 million new cases of breast cancer worldwide each year.
  • 458,000 of these people lose the fight.
  • It appears that incidences of breast cancer are about the same (at least, not vastly different) for developed vs developing countries.
  • 1 in 8 women in the US will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • 40,000 of these women will lose the fight.
  • Over 2.8 million women in the US have survived breast cancer!
  • Early detection is key. So ladies, get a mammogram. Gentlemen, monitor those breasts of yours too. They may be smaller than ours, but they aren't immune to cancer cells. Don't hesitate to feel yourselves up. I recommend doing so in private, though.
A friend of mine who's a survivor warns that there are lots of scams out there. If you're going to donate to fight breast cancer, make sure the organization is legitimate.   

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October), and in the hopes of lifting spirits, I'm hosting a giveaway. 

Please nominate either someone in your life who survived breast cancer, or the loved one of someone who fought breast cancer (whether that person won or lost the fight). Or nominate yourself, if you're a survivor or lost someone to breast cancer. 

Share a bit of their story in the comments section. (You need not disclose names, if you want to keep that confidential.) I'll draw a name at random from my Cassa mug (pictured in last post). The winner will get a copy of my poetry book, Just the Right Time, along with some very sweet fair-trade chocolate treats.

I'll announce the winner on Monday. Polls will be open through the weekend.

All I ask is that those who make nominations are followers of Life by Chocolate.

Thank you!

Be healthy and keep a smile.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Swag and Sundays in My City

Unknown Mami  

Welcome to Chico, CA, for Sundays in My City. Unknown Mami hosts this fascinating tour of bloggers' hometowns. Visit her here to hop around the world.
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It's nice of the retail stores to consider writers' needs. I'm curious as to why this "Magic Word Recharging Acid" is empty, though. (?)
 Imagine Agnus' surprise when she tried shoving these M&M Chocolate Bars into her electronic "friend".
 I WON!! Captain Ninja Alex J. Cavanaugh made my day last Monday, when he told me that I won all this great CassaStorm swag! The mousepad has me typing at record rates. The mug sits in front of my computer screen. It's so nice; I don't want to use it, and...well, I'm a happy winner.
 I took this pic (with me in it) per Alex's request. Look closely and you'll see a smidgen of my book, Just the Right Time. How'd that get in there? (Answer: pathetic subtle self-promotional tactic.)

Be safe and have a peaceful new week.
Don't recharge your batteries with Hershey's. Support fair-trade.
Cheers!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

American Idol Judges Visit Life by Chocolate: IWSG


Welcome back to Alex J Cavanaugh's fast-growing baby, the IWSG.  Hundreds of us dedicate the first Wednesday of the month to revealing our writer-ly insecurities and offering support to our writer-ly friends (all of you). Join us, if you haven't already. All that's required is an insecurity or 200. Alex is making a big announcement today, too, so check out his site here.
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Robyn: Hi, folks! We're triply lucky today to greet the dynamite trio that launched many an unknown singer into fame. For eight years, they contributed to the wild success of one of TV's most popular shows: American Idol! Welcome, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and - she lowers her voice to a murmur - Simon Cowell. Randy walks out first, in loose fitting camouflage garb. He nods repeatedly in an "I'm so cool" fashion. Yo dawg! Whatz up! A giggly Paula removes Simon's hands from her boobs, and the two walk out together. Simon dons his typical white t-shirt and blue jeans. We don't notice what Paula's wearing, but we notice her boobs. (We can't help it. ) The panel is seated at a narrow table for three, each with a microphone, similar to the set of American Idol.

Robyn: Wow! I'm so excited that two of you are here! Thank you, Paula and Randy. Simon raises his eyebrows, a bit surprised but determined to retaliate.

Simon: Have you gained some weight, Robyn?  Because you have absolutely no future in this business looking like that. 

Robyn looks down at her belly. Well, yeah, I mean, it's colder out, so I'm eating more. But I don't sing anyway.

Simon: It's a good thing, really.

Paula to Simon: Leave the poor girl alone. She turns to Robyn. Look sweetie, you will - she stops to pop a pill - you, you look, well you have no fash-fash-shin sense and th-that hair is, is - she pops another pill. She freezes and stares at the camera for 6 minutes, pupils dilated. 

Robyn: We'll get back to you, Paula. What do you think about the government shut-down, guys?

Simon: I firmly believe that Britain's got talent! You were fools to break ties in the 15th* century. That was an atrocious move, really. *Oh, excuse me, I'm not American. Ryan Seacrest just texted me. Apparently, you broke ties in the 18th century. Either way, you're fools.

Randy: Yo, dawg! It was pitchy. Dawg. Pitchy. Just didn't work for me, dawg. A little too pitchy.

Paula: S-s- sin - simp - simply beautiful!

Robyn: What advice do you have for all the insecure writers out there?

Randy: Check this out, dude. You got what it takes. What I'm sayin is this. Just keep workin at it. You know dawg. If it ain't happening this year, try again next year. You're a little pitchy, bro.

Simon: To be perfectly honest, you're not going to make it.

The audience boos.

Simon: No really, hear me out! If you don't think you're going to make it, you're not going to make it. It's as simple as that. You've got to believe in yourself. Look how far I've gone in the music industry. Did you ever stop to ask if I can sing? It has no relevance, because I'm pompous.

Paula nods and wipes a tear from her eyes. It's all about having a dream and you, you all are so beautiful and your hearts are so, so pure. Listen, you've gotta grab the bull by the rhino and just keep perusing your cream, or perverting your dream. Just believe in your wonder bull elf, your wonderful self. She smiles, proud to have properly articulated those last two words.

Robyn: I think we understand what you meant. In combination, you've relayed valuable messages. Thank you, Paula and Randy. And thank you, audience! The curtain falls and we cut to a commercial for Thomas' English Muffins.