Well, what a great way to celebrate with friends and family. And end the month with a bang. Karen James, formerly on the share, sent me this article along with a lovely gift and card. The text for the article is below the ecard links.
Last Sunday, the 26th, I went with my sister and her kids to visit friend of ours, Lisa and Mark, in a nearby town. Their daughter, Ciara, was celebrating her 10th birthday and I gave her a blue-striped hat I knitted (to go with the scarf I knitted for her last year). Right now I'm knitting a sage-colored suede poncho for Lisa, whose birthday was Thursday, the 30th. Afterwards I'll knit a black one for my sister, whose birthday is Monday, April 3. Exactly a week after mine I have no excuse for forgetting her birthday. heh heh.
Here are a few cards and gifts my friends and family sent:
These are from my parents. They sent me a gift package full of chocolates and sweets and the perfect movie to play for a tea & chocolate celebration, Chocolat. I was quite ill the year this movie came out, so I was very eager to see this movie. Oh, it is a terrific movie! Which includes some of my favorite actors, Johnny Depp (naturally), Judi Dench, and Alfred Molina .
The card reads:
It is such a joy to have you celebrating your 40th birthday!! We wish we could be there celebrating with you... celebrating with "hats and costumes and beards and masks...with beacons and banners, flags and fountains, with lots of color and pictures on the walls...with games to play, poems to read, surprises, toys and musical instruments to bang and blow...it should last a month."! *
We're sending you here a few things to start with... enjoy!!
Dad & Gregoria
* a quote from Dad's 40th birthday invitation
This one's from an old roommate, Joanne, aka JoJo Dancer, or 'Jo'. Jo is originally from south Boston, Ben Affleck's and Matt Damon's hometown.
Her card reads:
"We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give." Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
"He enjoys true leisure who has time to improve his soul's estate." Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
"Put duties aside at least an hour before bed and perform soothing, quiet activities that will help you relax." Dianne Hales
"The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist fears this is true." James Branch Cabell (1879-1958)
"The difference between perserverance and obstinacy is that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won't." Henry Ward Beecher
"I'm getting into swing dancing. Not on purpose. Some parts of my body are just prone to swinging." Unknown
"Don't think of it as getting hot flashes. Think of it as your inner child playing with matches." Unknown
"Memories of our lives, of our work and our deeds will continue in others." Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
Can we help it if we're two exotic beauties?
Lots of love,
Jo & Suki
And wonderful gifts from Karen:
The card reads:
May the year ahead
be filled with happiness
and all that means the most to you.
The Story of Capiz is the Spanish first used capiz shells, which are translucent, to make windows during the 16th century. Capiz shells are harvested from the tropical waters of the South China Seas surrounding the Philippine Islands. Each piece has been individually handcrafted by Filipino craftsmen, which makes each one unique. You can enjoy the splendor of the artisans detailed work which makes a perfect gift for yourself or someone special.
Plus a couple of ecards from Judy Oliver, Austin Ndego, and my friend and former coworker Ellen Uhlemeyer:
Amid the truffle butters, the 24-month aged hunks of Parma ham and the foie gras pates at Scheffler's Deli in the St. Lawrence Market is a display of high-end dark chocolate bars selling for as much as $10 each.
The brand with the best shelf space - top row, eye level - is Poulain from France. It's a coveted spot in what is the fastest-growing segment of the chocolate business.
Poulain is owned by global confectionary giant Cadbury Schweppes PLC, a firm with few products that would qualify as premium. Yet the maker of the Mr. Big chocolate bar and Bubblicious chewing gum has been forced up market by the current trend in candy bars.
Canada's big food companies and candy bar makers are increasingly turning to dark chocolate for growth at a time when sales of many milk chocolate bars are slowing. Consumer tastes, they say, have become more complex and shoppers are looking for dark chocolate.
Sales of premium dark chocolate up 42 percent
Dark chocolate is high in cocoa content and has recently been linked to health benefits, including improved blood flow.
"The consumer is looking for better-quality offerings and they're willing to pay," said Lesya Lysyj, senior vice-president marketing at Cadbury Adams Canada Inc.
Parent company Cadbury Schweppes PLC bought Poulain back in 1988. The 150-year old company was founded in the Loire Valley and is one of France's best known chocolate brands. Poulain chocolate has been available in Quebec for several years, but Cadbury has now decided to take it national in hopes of increasing its share of Canada's $38 million premium chocolate market.
"The whole market is becoming more sophisticated," Ms. Lysyj said. "It's similar to what you might have seen in the coffe market five or seven years ago."
According to market research firm ACNielsen, sales of premium dark chocolate are up 42 percent over the past year to about $23 million. The field is crowded with brand names you're unlikely to see in the checkout line at the grocery store, including Cote d'Or, Valrhona and Guylian.
Yet you're sure to know many of their parent companies. Kraft Foods Inc. owns the Cote d'Or brand from Belgium. A high cocoa content dark chocolate bar is sold under the Godiva brand name, which is a subsidiary of Campbell Soup Co. Even Hershey Co. sells a "Special Dark Limited Edition Bar."
The premium market is still a fraction of overall chocolate sales in Canada, which topped $1.3 billion last year. Yet dark chocolate is playing an increasingly large role in the mainstream chocolate bar business. Companies have created dark chocolate versions of established brands. Mars Inc. now sells a dark chocolate Mrs bar and Nestle Canada Inc. has the premium Cailler brand as well as a dark chocolate version of its popular Aero bar.
Dark chocolate sales at Cadbury Adams are up 70 percent over the past year and the move to more bitter-tasting chocolate bars has revived some brands. For example, sales of the Burnt Almond brand were relatively flat for about a decade until consumer interest in dark chocolate began to pick up a couple of years ago. Last year, Burnt Almond sales climbed 35 percent. "This trend started out as very premium and exclusive [for] a sophisticated palate. What's happenning is the trend is starting to become very mainstream," Ms. Lysyj said.
Several medical studies have suggested dark chocolate may be good for you and a daily dose of the stuff can help lower cholesterol. In Canada, chocolate companies are prohibited from advertising the possible health benefits of dark chocolate, which are linked to flavonoids, naturally occurring compounds that are found in foods such as blueberries, tea and red wine.
'It's similar to what you might have seen in the coffee market five or seven years ago.'
Ms. Lysyj said such studies have given consumers a "permissibility" attitude toward dark chocolate. However, Cadbury is focusing on the premium taste aspect of Poulain. The company gives "tasting notes" for each of the Poulain bars, which are available in three levels of cocoa content - 86 percent, 76 percent and 64 percent.
The Ultime Noir, at 86 percent cocoa, is described as "strong, deep, and full bodied. Earthy tartness develops quickly, with light fruity undertones." The Poulain Noir, 76 percent cocoa, is "rich and velvety with a hint of spice."
Cadbury is also suggesting food and drink pairings for the chocolate bars. To complement the Poulain Ultime, for example, malty craft-brewed stout beers and dried fruit would go best, the company said. The company does not offer tasting notes or suggested pairings for its Caramilk, Crispy Crunch or Wonderbar. However, it does expect some consumers to "graduate" from its milk chocolate offerings to more upscale dark brands.