Category: Business in New Hampshire

Choffy – Delicious Brewing Chocolate

Choffy 100% Ground Cacao Beans When you open a bag of Choffy the delicious aroma of chocolate tickles your nose. It’s not a super sweet smell, but rich and decadent like the best chocolate you’ve ever tasted. Choffy is 100% premium cacao beans that are roasted and ground. It brews like coffee, but it tastes like a grown up hot chocolate. It’s not sweet (unless you add sweetener), but it sure scratches that chocolate itch.

I first read about Choffy on blog, that was doing a giveaway of Choffy. I was so intrigued, I didn’t even enter the contest, I went straight to the distributor’s site and ordered a bag. Yummmm. I’ve been drinking it both hot and cold for a few years and I decided it was a product I could really get behind, so late last year, I signed up to become an Independent Choffy Distributor (you may have seen references to Choffy on my DreamBoard and my 2014 Goals).

Choffy doesn’t have any of the negative side effects (that hard crash or the jitters), of caffeine and there are only 40 calories in a 12oz cup! You can fulfill that craving for chocolate without going over board on calories. Choffy is naturally high in anti-oxidants and can even improve your mood. Don’t take my word for it, visit the Choffy website for more information on the science behind the health benefits of cacao and Choffy.

There are several blends of choffy including Ivory Coast, IC Dark, and VoltaThere are several different brews of Choffy. My favorite is the IC Dark made from cacao beans grown on Africa’s Ivory Coast and the new Volta made from beans grown in Ghana. Choffy can be brewed in a drip coffee maker with a gold filter, but for the best experience I recommend using a French Press (you can pick one up from Amazon for around $10 or why not pick up a thermal french press?). Choffy retails for $15.00 per bag (Volta is $16.50, but oh is it worth it). If you are local to me, I keep stock on hand so shipping fees are less because I order in bulk, if not, shipping is just $5.75 for up to 3 bags. Just visit to place an order and with a few clicks of the mouse, your Choffy will show up at your door in just a few days.

Here’s my recipe for the perfect cup of Choffy.


4 Heaping tablespoons of Choffy in a Choffy Tumbler Press

16 oz. boiling water

A healthy splash of vanilla (about a teaspoon)

A pinch of salt

A 1 teaspoon of raw sugar

A splash of milk


Add the Choffy to the Tumbler Press and set the water to boil.

Add the boiling water to the Choffy and let it brew for 5 minutes.

Add the vanilla, sugar and salt to your favorite mug.

When the Choffy is ready, add it to the mug and stir.

Add the milk to taste.


Have questions? Please contact me at or visit my distributor page to place an order.


Black Friday Madness – I have a choice (and so do you)

'Turkey Dinner' photo (c) 2005, Matt Chan - license: Christmas seems to be spilling into our lives earlier and earlier each year.

It is now common place to see Christmas decorations before Halloween. The only thing that held the advertisements off this year was the contentious election. Once we elected a president all bets were off.

Now I hear that some stores will be opening ON Thanksgiving Night. My first reaction is disgust followed closely by outrage. Stores shouldn’t be ALLOWED to do that!

“Time and a half baby!”

The argument is made that some people are thrilled for the holiday pay.  I’m not sure I buy that most WANT to be working. Even if they don’t have family, the holiday season is crazy enough for retail people with out working Thanksgiving night. Retail stores starting planning for December displays and sales back in July. People work on Thanksgiving Night because they don’t have a choice.  They need the job.  If they refuse to work, they’ll lose their job, or they will be penalized in some way. What about management level employees? They don’t get overtime pay.

A theme on one side of the election this year was reducing government intervention in business management. To an extent, I favor this, but I can’t say I trust business operators to run in a safe, respectful manor. Profits ALWAYS come first.

Hmmm, let me think about this for a second. It’s like one of those crazy high school math problems.

  • Profits come first.
  • Businesses make money when I spend money buying the goods and services they offer.
  • What if I didn’t shop on Thanksgiving night? Then my money does not support a business who’s practices I disagree with. If enough people disagree, and don’t shop on Thanksgiving Night, then the stores won’t make money. In fact, the stores will lose money on salaries and utilities.

By staying home on Thanksgiving Night, and Black Friday, I might miss a few bargins, but I’ll gain a whole lot of peace of mind. I can’t control what other people do, but I know I’ll choose peace of mind over another gadget any day of the week.

Happy Thanksgiving.

P.S. Interesting piece on the economics of Black Friday. Hat tip Allison Worthington for the link.

Life, The Universe and The Election Process

Hey! How ya doin’?

We survived hurricane Sandy with minimal damage. The power flickered, but never went out. We are without cell service, but AT&T Wireless has been notified and life goes on.

'Vote!' photo (c) 2005, Ho John Lee - license:’m writing. I’m writing many words, just not here. I had some deadlines, for our town paper and for Albinism Insight, and I’ve been plowing away at the fiction piece I’m working on.

I ran into a reader last weekend who commented on my more informational posts of late. I have opinions (heaven only knows) but the recent focus has been the election and I don’t want to discuss my politics here. I will say I’m am disgusted by the commercials from both sides and the major news outlets really aren’t any better (ANY of them). I am taken back to my college days where as a communications major, I perfected my analytical skills for dissecting for what I hear and read. The idea was that if you could analyze commercials, or press releases you could better understand what would work for your perspective clients.

The skill set actually has broad application in everyday life.  It doesn’t matter if it is a commercial, or “news”. My mantra these days seems to be “what’s your source?” I am overwhelmed by it all, I don’t want to just follow party lines. I really want to understand the views of the people who are running for office at every level. This is very hard to do, especially, when the candidates spend their time pointing fingers at their opponents rather than talking about their own plans and beliefs.

A note to all political candidates. STOP telling me what you think I want to hear. START telling me what YOU stand for. I’m not undecided, but I like to be sure of my choices. I want to understand the other side’s position so I know what I’m voting against as well as I know what I am voting for. Not an easily attainable goal these days that’s for sure.

There is only one week left and I doubt the campaigns will change their tactics now. I’ll vote. I believe it is a privilege not to be taken lightly. But, I’m not sure I’ll be happy regardless of the outcome of any of the races that impact me.

I welcome comments on the election process, but please, keep it civil.

Weir’s Beach

“What Are We Going to do For FUN today?”

That is the question I hear most mornings during summer vacation. Some days it is pretty cut and dried. 99 Degrees? 100% humidity? We’re heading to Aunt Jane’s and swimming in the pool.

Top A Winnepesauki Railroad car, Row FunSpot Sign and Token Cards, Third row, me playing PacMan,Fish playing Pin ball and Mim riding a motorcycle video gameLast Friday was less clear. It was a beautiful summer day, a few puffy clouds, minimal humidity, highs in the low 80’s and a light breeze. I had a deadline in the morning, but the afternoon was ours. I lobbied for a bike ride on a local bike trail, but I got out voted. After consulting our list of things we wanted to do this summer, my son proposed Weir’s Beach.

I grew up with the Jersey Shore, within reasonable driving distance. So, the beach and the boardwalk are not foreign too me. Weir’s Beach is kind of like a mini Jersey Shore. There is a beach, the MS Mount Washington sails from the pier and there is a boardwalk and arcades.

Before our trip, I scouted things out and identified a specific location for treats and also found a coupon for FunSpot, a year round bowling/mini-golf/arcade located just up the road from the boardwalk.

Fish kiboshed the beach right off the bat apparently we’d been swimming too much this week. I didn’t realize that was possible. We got a late start so her brother & I agreed to this condition and we set off (A-Man had to work). We explored the boardwalk and were able to just glance at the arcades because I promised a full service arcade at FunSpot. While at the board walk, the Winnepesauki Railroad pulled in and we agreed that would be a fun trip for another day.

We picked the perfect time for Fun Spot. Everyone else was enjoying a perfect beach day (not such a great thing for a family with albinism). Between the  WOKQ Buyers Club and an online promo code, I was able to get $50 worth of tokens for $22. We played video games, skee ball and air hockey. I got my annual Pac Man fix and we still have tokens left! The kids cashed out their tickets for the requisite junk and we headed on to the Kellerhaus for treats.

My daughter hit the sundae bar and Mim & I hit the candy shop. The Sundae bar looked amazing, but my logic was that a Pecan Turtle was fewer calories than an ice cream sundae with all the fixin’s. My caloric math, might be flawed, but the Turtle was yummy. 🙂

I like being a tourist in my own backyard. I can imagine we’ll head back to FunSpot when the weather turns cold. They offer two kinds of bowling (candlepin AND ten pin) and we still have about $25 worth of tokens burning a hole in our collective pocket.

He and I

Mim and his drawing Crazy Kids climbing structure, water break. Coooookieee!

It was just he and I. His sister was off at the American Girl Store with her grandparents. We were supposed to go to a hands-on museum with another mom and her son, but Son got sick. Boo. Fortunately, Mim took it in stride. I offered to take him to the museum, but that was AFTER I offered to take him to the indoor play space in town. Silly me.

The place space is clean and safe and teaming with noise and pre-pubescent energy. Clearly I’d need fortification to sustain myself so we went to lunch at the local dinerish place. He brought cars and proceeded to draw on his placemat. The tale that surrounds this house is quite involved, it involves a police officer, his wife the race car driver, and their free-to-them house with an arcade, a huge swimming pool and a football field. I’ll have to video tape him giving the tour.

After lunch we ventured in to Krazy Kids. I brought my kindle, but my intention was to play with him. We climbed through the oversized inflatable maze and he disappeared on me. So, I found some wall space and settled in with the Hunger Games. I heard a “Hi Mama!” several different times as he whizzed by chasing others. When he came over for a water break, he launched into a detailed discussion of the monstrous climbing structure so I asked him if he wanted to give me a guided tour. We climbed and crawled, but it soon became clear I was harshing his vibe and he was only doing this to placate me. I released him from his duty and he was off again. I knew it was time to go when the stops for water or a quick albeit sweaty, snuggle, became more frequent.

Normally I’d just head home, but this was a special day, so we ventured into town to find a snack. We ended up with HUGE cookies. We nibbled them on our way down the street to the toy store. The primary audience for this toy story is teachers, but since children are the primary audience for teachers, the store is a hit with the short and loud crowd too. Eventually, he chose a pump action soft rocket that was advertised to travel 150 feet, but he put it back in favor of two smaller rockets so he could give one to his sister. *MELT* .

We headed home with declarations of this being the best day ever.  I’d call that a win!

Online Piracy

I am against censorship.

I am also against copyright infringement and piracy.

I don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive.

As a content creator, I want credit and renumeration for the works that I create. As a content consumer, I expect to pay for creative works (music, books, performances, images, movies etc.). After I pay for them, I expect a high quality experience and ready access to what I’ve purchased.

In an effort to curb the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, two bills have been introduced in congress. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) are bills moving through the House and Senate aimed at curbing piracy by “rouge websites” (most of which are based on foreign soil).

The bills appear to be backed by large content providers such as Disney, RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), Nintendo and the Association of American Publishers. The bills are being opposed by technology companies and free speech advocates such as Google, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Reporters Without Borders, American Library Association, Wikipedia and Word Press. (Hat Tip to the Emerging Technologies Librarian for the list).

I can find numerous posts about why SOPA is bad from a variety of organizations from the Stanford Law Review  to Tucows, domain name and email service provider and Tech Dirt . I have been unable to locate any substantive information (e.g. anything other any press releases) on why SOPA/PIPA would be good for content producers, providers and distributors.

I agree that something should be done to halt online piracy, but I will come down on the side of free speech every time. My understanding of the bills as they are currently written is that they give too much power to the government (i.e. sites can be shut down on suspicion of piracy) and hold sites such as Google, Facebook and Twitter responsible for the content their users post.

My favorite post on the situation thus far is a statement on Google+ from Tim O’Reily head of O’Reily  Media a larger publisher of books, web sites, and conferences focused on technology. This man loses money to pirates everyday and still he opposes SOPA/PIPA. I agree they are addressing the wrong problem. It has been shown time and time again that if you give consumers a convenient, reasonably priced way to purchase content, they’ll do it. iTunes, or Netflix anyone?

A number of big web sites are going on strike  or “going dark” as a form of protest against SOPA/PIPA today. The the most well known of which is Wikipedia (The English Version of Wikipedia will be unavailable for 24 hours). I’ve never been a huge fan of strikes. Plus, my site is so small, if I “went dark”, you’d probably think I was just slacking :). Instead, I hope I’ve brought this important issue to your attention. Maybe even motivated you to contact your senator or congressmen and share your views on the subject (whichever side you are on).

Oh the guilt!

ETA I no sooner finished this post when I hear about Amazon’s Price Check app and their latest promotion. I’m really disappointed in Amazon. I’ll have more to say in a future post.

Three different views of the Kindle 3GRecently my friend Cammy and I made our annual trip to the local Main Street Holiday Celebration. My friend and I strolled the street, shopped and enjoyed the discounts, the atmosphere and a fantastic cup of hot chocolate! Our last stop was a quick trek into our local, independently owned, bookstore. As we passed through the door I averted my eyes and generally tried to make myself as inconspicuous as possible. I felt like a lapsed Catholic walking into a church. Please don’t let lightening strike me down.

My name is Lee and I am an e-book reader, exclusively and I feel REALLY guilty. I believe in the power of the small business I’ve owned several small businesses myself I understand the need, the drive, the desire to make your own way through this world. Books are so wonderful, I truly can’t imagine a better product to bring to the marketplace.

As a kid I remember Paperback Booksmith, the bookstore at our local mall or as I knew it Nirvana. I could get lost in the young adult section in the back left corner for hours. The walls were lined floor-to-ceiling with dark wood shelving and the wood floors creaked when you walked on them. The cashier looked down upon customers from on high and was The Oracle of Knowledge with regards to what was available and what was out-of-print.

College and graduate school took a major toll on my pleasure reading. After grad school when I was working and had the time to read, the mega-bookstore had emerged. I was lured by the giant selection never mind that I had no interest in a 400 page retrospective of the hub cap (does anyone really?). There were books lots of books oh my! Then came marriage and motherhood and that huge time suck that is parenting. By the time I came out of the haze of diaper changes and sleep deprivation had firmly entrenched itself in the public psyche and the psyche of one very tired overwhelmed mother who relished the idea of good books inexpensively delivered right to her door.

Before I knew it, I’d fallen in with the herd mentality and independent books stores were paying the price with their balance sheets. Still, I wasn’t reading as much as I wanted to. It was too much work and much of what I wanted to read was not available in large print. Then came the Kindle. That was probably the final nail in the coffin of the independent bookseller for me. The Kindle rocks my world. I’m visually impaired and small print has always been a problem. The Kindle changed all that. Within the 1st year of receiving my first Kindle read more books than the previous 5 years combined. I could read. I could read a lot without eye strain, and it was good.

Oh, but the guilt! As traditional publishing has floundered and Amazon has assimilated itself in almost every nook and cranny of our collective retail consciousness, the independent bookseller has struggled. I buy local when and where I can but I can’t extend that thinking to my bookshelves. With very few exceptions if it’s not available on the Kindle I don’t read it. This is especially true now that I’m in my mid-forties and short arm syndrome has set in (a rant for another post). I need the flexibility of being able to enlarge the font and the reduce eye strain.

To independent bookstore owners everywhere, I’m sorry, really, I am.


Snow on the ski trails at the top of the mountain.

Mother Nature is having a rough time.  Two weeks ago it was Snowtober. This week it has been sunny and sixty degrees.  Still, ski season isn’t far off.

SEE!?  There’s snow on them thar hills ;). Ok so maybe we aren’t ready to hit the slopes quite yet, but one sure sign that ski season approachith is the annual Ski Gear Sale at Gunstock.  My neighbor Becky turned me on to this little gem of an event.  Perhaps little isn’t quite the right word.  It is HUGE and there as skis of all makes and models from down hill racing to cross country.

Skis, Skis and More Skis, Welcome to Gunstock, and Boots, Boots and Boots

We didn’t make it with the kids until lunchtime and still we found bargins. I found gently used boots for each kid for $30 a piece.  Skis for my kids (1 Intermediate skier and 1 beginner) were between $75 and $90 including bindings.  Ideally we’ll get at least two years on the skis for each child. That might be optimistic for Fish, but at least I can hand her gear down to Mim.  Even if we get one year, the total cost is less than what I usually pay to rent gear for the season.  Now, the difference is that the rentals are brand new, but experts confirmed that the equipment we bought was all in great shape and could probably be resold when the kids outgrow them.

Now if mother nature could get her act together! DO NOT PANIC my snow hating friends.  I’m not asking for a blizzard (yet), just temperatures cold enough to sustain snow making.  That will tide me over for now 🙂

Special thanks to Becky! I definitely needed skis this year and we weren’t sure we were going to make it to the sale because Mim had a Karate tournament.  She agreed to be my personal shopper and snagged me a great pair with bindings for just $99! Let’s hear it for awesome neighbors!!


Skate Escape

Pictures of the kids skating at Skate Escape in Laconia, NHIt was winter break, first there was Christmas and then the blizzard and oh my after four days in the house, Mama needed an escape! I’d had enough of shopping, and while the kids got gift cards for Christmas, I wanted to hold those in reserve for when the newness of the bounty they’d just received had worn off. Ice skating started to early (my kids had no interested in being dressed, fed and out the door by 11am over Christmas break). It was too windy to sled or snowshoe, and we couldn’t agree on a movie. Hmmm, what to do?

How about a Skate Escape? Skate Escape is a indoor rollerskating venue on Court Street in Laconia. Once we found the door, we had a blast!

Skate Escape is a converted store front, a quick Google search shows it used to be an Aubuchon’s Hardware. There’s plenty of parking, but we walked back and fourth several times before finally finding the main entrance (the old service entrance), located on the side of the building (away from Little Caesar’s).

Depending on when you skate, the cost is between $5-$8 per person and that includes admission, skate rental and protective equipment (available only on a first come, first served basis). Non-skating supervising adults pay $2. If you have your own skates (quad or inline), you can bring them, but wheels are checked at the door. They should be clean and smooth and Skate Escape reserves the right to prohibit the use of skates they deem unsafe or a damaging to the skate floor. I have a pair of inline skates. I washed the wheels with warm water and a paper towel before we left and I had no trouble.

I was really stoked for the opportunity to go rollerskating. When I was a kid, the nearest skating rink was Rollerama. The PTA sponsored a skating party in the fall and in the spring. On Saturday’s we’d go for free skate. I have some great memories tooling around the smooth wood floor. I can remember the rush to get in, get your skates and get on the floor. It seemed more often than not that I’d no sooner finish tying the last lace and head for floor when the song would change and the DJ would announce couples skate or Adult skate. My luck didn’t change this time, we got laced up and headed for the floor only to be turned back by a boys only skate. “I can go.” my son announced, but when I asked him if he really wanted to skate for the first time without me, he thought maybe he’d wait for an all skate.

Neither of my kids had roller skated before, so the first few trips around were a learning experience for sure. They have pint-sized chairs with tennis balls at the end of the legs that helped to keep Mim upright. Fish took a doozey of a spill the first time around and was a combination of hurt and embarrassed. She’s ice skated before, she rides a bike and skateboards so I think she was surprised roller skating was more of a challenge. It took a few more laps, but they got in the groove. and I even got a lap or two on my own. There was a skate guard on the floor at all times making sure everyone played safe. She was very kind and a great help to me trying to keep my eye on two kids. The DJ even gave a shout out to my mad skatin’ skillz when my son crashed to the floor in front of me and I was forced to quickly change position so I could pass over him rather than running into him.

When all was said and done the kids had fun and we all burned off some energy. We will definitely go back. When we do, I think we’ll bring our own safety gear (Fish said she wished she’d had a helmet). The walls and lolly columns are padded, but the concrete floor is unforgiving. Not that wood is a cushy, but there is some give, that just isn’t present in concrete. It is worth noting, that this isn’t an “official sized” rink, it really is a converted store. While support columns are not common place in a skating rink, they work especially with a crowd of in experienced skaters.

Public skate times are typically in the evenings and on weekends, they recommend checking their Facebook page for updates.  You can also visit their website They also host birthday parties and the rink is available for private rentals.

If you are looking for a different activity to stave off cabin fever, I highly recommend Skate Escape.

I received no compensation for this post, these are my words and opinions.

The Polar Express Event




Last Friday, we took a trip on The Polar Express and it was all of those things and so much more.

Surely you’ve heard of the The Polar Express, the award wining Children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg? It is the story of a little boy’s Christmas Eve adventure where he gets to pick the first gift of Christmas. Well, the Hobo Railroad and the Believe in Books Literacy Foundation have brought the book to life in a most delightful manner.

The trip was Grammy’s idea, she even bough the kids new pajamas for the occasion. We stopped for dinner at the Tilt ‘N Diner on our way to Lincoln for our 7:30 departure. There was snow on the ground in Lincoln which only added to the excitement of the trip. On our journey to the North pole chefs brought us delicious hot chocolate (it tasted like melted chocolate bars) and then they treated us to chocolate candies with nougat centers “as white as snow”. We sang Christmas carols and generally reveled in the experience.

Our lengthy trip to the North Pole zipped by in what felt like fifteen minutes. We arrived to a sea of elves with lanterns all making their way to a tent in the center of town. There the boy from the story, now a man, told us about his adventures that fateful Christmas Eve. When he was done, we were treated to a visit by the Jolly Old Elf, Santa himself. Santa visited with the audience and encouraged the kids to be good, but not perfect. “You should enjoy your childhood” he said.

Walking with an elf, the man reading the story, the boy and Santa share the first gift of Christmas

Santa picked a boy from the audience to pick the first gift of Christmas. The boy looked remarkably like the boy in the story. Amazingly enough, his wish was for a bell from the reindeer’s harness. Santa was so pleased he offered the boy a second wish and the boy wished that all the boys and girls could have bells like his. Santa asked the elves to make it so on our ride home.

Santa had to get back to work and wished us all a Merry Christmas. The elves guided us back to the train wishing us Merry Christmas all the way. Our trip home flew by as we sang Christmas carols the whole way.

My children are in the “I’ll humor my parents” and the “logical questioning” stages of believing in Santa and they both enjoyed themselves immensely. This is a wonderful experience put on by volunteers to benefit a good cause. I would strongly recommend it to kids of any age.

Perhaps the most magical part of the night for me was watching the pure unadulterated awe on the face of a four year old little girl sitting in front of me. Dressed in Green Bay Packers feety pajamas and bright pink snow boots, she sat almost stock still as the man told his story and when Santa came out I thought she just might erupt out of her skin.

That my friends is the magic of Christmas.

I will be taking the next two weeks off to enjoy the Christmas with my family and New Year’s with our close friends. I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas (if you celebrate) and a joyous and prosperous New Year.

Thanks for reading! See you in 2011!