Monthly Archives: February 2014

I Heart Chocolate

Oh boy, it’s almost Valentine’s Day, and I met a woman yesterday whose family is partly responsible for bringing me some of my fondest memories of Valentine’s Day as a child. Her name is Karen Flavelle, and she is the owner of Purdy’s Chocolates in Vancouver, a company that currently ranks in the top 50 in Canada to work for. Karen spoke at my mom’s group, mCentred, and she lit up our boardroom full of moms telling us about growing up as the daughter of Purdy’s owner since 1963, Charles Flavelle. Now, as a mother of 3 grown kids, she explained how she and her husband managed to raise them while also lighting their own work worlds in business and finance on fire (lots of planning, teamwork and strategizing).

Apparently, chocolate didn’t play much into her own childhood unless they had parties and dinner guests, but if she and her siblings helped out at the factory on Saturdays, they were allowed to eat the chocolate at the end of the day -tummy aches usually followed. After university, Karen didn’t start out her business life working for her father, but she did work her way up the corporate ladders at General Mills and Cara Operations in Toronto before purchasing Purdy’s from her dad in 1997. She’s been hands on since then while also embodying one of the most dynamic and business savvy women in Canada. It was such a pleasure to meet her yesterday and hear her honest account of both the difficulties and triumphs of being a woman in a predominantly-male field. One member of our group asked her about the proverbial “glass ceiling” in the workplace for women.

Karen replied that the idea of a glass ceiling is directly related to how you look at problems and that a ceiling describes something you cannot control. She prefers to look at difficulties as hurdles. Hurdles are just obstacles to get past: you figure out the best way to do that -over, under, around, whatever -and keep making your way.

Now that’s what I call great advice!

Karen brought us 2 of Purdy’s new artisan Single Origin dark chocolate bars from Peru (slightly fruity, intense chocolate flavour) and Ecuador (roasty, more fudgy flavour) to taste test, and also some Himalayan Pink Salt Caramels to sample. I was swooning!
So yes, I got my chocolate fill yesterday in that boardroom with Karen Flavelle, and also some amazing nuggets of wisdom from a fellow mom and business woman. But I’m still putting together some little bundles of love for my kids for Valentine’s day -I like to give them a small jar to fill with some candies & those beautiful foil-wrapped Purdy’s heart chocolates, as well as a new book. After school, we’ll come home and eat some chocolate and read by the fire before (a super-healthy) dinner. I can’t wait!


Here’s Karen and I signing the ASL sign for CHOCOLATE:

Thanks, Karen! (And I think I owe some credit to my mom for passing on her love for Purdy’s chocolate at Valentine’s Day, too!)

Happy Valentine’s Day to you, and your lovies!

Year of the Horse (and Noodles!)

My husband is half-Chinese, and our daughter was the first grandchild born into his side of the family so we were all very excited to celebrate Ella’s first Lunar New Year when she was not quite one year old. I didn’t know much about Chinese culture, but during my pregnancy I had looked at the characteristics of being born under the sign of the HORSE (which is also the Chinese zodiac sign we just came into this week for 2014). By New Year’s, Ella was eating solids, and her proud Grandma made an incredible feast of traditional Chinese dishes meant to bring us good luck and fortune in the new year. One of the dishes Grandma made that Ella could eat was NOODLES.

Long noodles [mee-yan]

Traditionally, long NOODLES symbolize longevity and are served uncut. If the NOODLES are cut, it symbolizes cutting your longevity short. Only I didn’t know that -all I knew was that mealtime usually meant me sitting next to the high chair helping Ella keep bite-sized foods on her tray and hopefully into her mouth. Uh-oh.

Ella was hungry by the time we arrived for our New Year’s dinner that night, and I had plunked her right into the high chair as Grandma brought her a dish of NOODLES to get started on. I reached across to start cutting Ella’s NOODLES and I heard a gutteral, “Nooooooooooo…. don’t cut the NOODLES!” as she spied me while heading back into the kitchen for more food. My husband chuckled at the puzzled look on my face, and I was informed about the symbolic nature of long NOODLES.


Oh dear. I had cut some of the NOODLES before she managed to eat any. I quickly scooped up the short NOODLES and replaced them with fresh, long ones. And against my better judgement and experience as a mother, I let Ella eat the rest of the long NOODLES, and she was in heaven! Anytime Mom lets food be fun is great, of course.


I sat nice and close to supervise the eating, and we giggled a lot together as she manoeuvered the long, slippery NOODLES. My husband took these photos to remind me of the time I almost blew Ella’s first Chinese New Years (there are some short noodles on her bib, but we picked up the rest and replaced them with ones that would ensure a long, healthy life)!

Somehow along the way, her nickname became NOODLE, and we still affectionately call her that today.

Oh, mealtime is always an adventure!

Here’s Ella today doing the ASL sign for NOODLES:

And the ASL sign for HORSE:

Happy Lunar New Year to your family from ours!