Chocolate is Sensuality


High atop the temple pyramid of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec priest meticulously brews his sacred drink. A paste is formed using roasted ground cacao, there is the strong heady waft of cinnamon, a slight sweetness of vanilla, a hot fiery sting of pepper.

He stares down at the molcajete¸ rhythmically pounding against the mortar with his pestle. Prayers are muttered under his breath, he enters deep into a trance as he slowly pours boiling water. That bitter fragrant vapor, a true connection to the gods … a breath of sacred eternity that goes straight through his lungs and into his soul. He is no longer concerned by the hundreds of young women in the crowd who have anticipated this day for the past eight years. Dressed in animal and flowered masks forming a sea of grotesque beauty, they have all come to worship Xochiquetzal, goddess of fertility, beauty and female sexual power. Today is her day. This drink is her drink. And on this feast day, the sacred beverage is to be shared so that the mortal and immortal can be as one.

We’ve been hooked since day one. There is no fight to be put up, no cure to be had against the grasp chocolate has on us. Scientists say it’s the high concentration of theobromine found in cacao that increases serotonin (happy hormone) levels in the brain; I say it’s that plus everything else. With so much importance in history and culture, how can modern-day man resist the empirical wonders chocolate has to offer?

The theobroma cacao tree has been cultivated for over 3,000 years in Central and South America. The earliest records show that the seeds of the cacao tree were already being used in the pre-Olmec era in the Honduras. Xocolatl is the ancient Aztec Nuahatl word for their beverage of the gods. Literally meaning “bitter water,” Aztec priests would make offerings and drink a rich, frothy cup of fermented cacao seeds with dried chili peppers, annatto seeds, vanilla and cinnamon. Brought back to Europe by Spanish conquistadors, this exotic beverage quickly took hold of the royal courts. So much so that it drove colonies to Mesoamerican slavery to produce more of that dark, good stuff. For hundreds of years chocolate was drunk; only at the end of the 18th century did chocolate become solid. Ground cocoa solids were mixed with pure cocoa butter and eventually milk and sugar were added to temper the bitterness. A capricious ingredient, it took years to perfect chocolate the way we know it today.

Good chocolate is sensitive to temperature and when treated with love and care will succumb to all your desires. Ganache, couverture, sauce, bars, pralines, truffles… Imagine a stick of lush vanilla ice cream, dipped into a shiny pool of luscious dark chocolate. It hardens instantly upon the icy contact, creating a precious, protective shell that will unleash pure Pandoric delight when cracked. Yes, it’s here. Those who have been to Europe know what I’m talking about. Magnum is in town.

I’m terrible at making desserts but I used to love to entertain in France, especially summers when we’d be at some friend’s country home. Long, late summer days, hot and sticky, we’d all smell like rosé wine and charcoal from the barbecue. The perfect dessert was waiting patiently in the freezer: Magnum bars. It was a small moment of quiet as we all heard the crack of the Belgian chocolate as it yielded to unctuous vanilla. Small, sinful, worth it.

Chocolate: sometimes synonymous with sex and always synonymous with indulgence and pleasure. I’m not much of a sweet tooth but I must admit that once in a while the allure of melting dark chocolate on my tongue — creating that velvety-smooth sensation mingling with cool, creamy vanilla — is just too hard to resist. What is it about a chocolate moment that just goes straight to our brains? That can make the world around us drift away, that can make heartaches mend, frustrations disappear, deadlines get pushed back into infinity? Perhaps sexy Aztec goddess Xochiquetzal still lives on, communicating to us through every possible form, sharing her sensuality and this time in a chocolate ice cream bar.

Source: http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=784793&publicationSubCategoryId=81

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Study Confirms Some Women Orgasm During Exercise

I’m passing this information around in case anyone need another incentive to hit the gym. -Sweetie

By Michelle Castillo

(CBS News) Not only can exercise improve your health, a new study suggests it can make some women a lot happier.

Researchers at Indiana University confirmed through a study that women can have orgasms while they exercise, sometimes called a “coregasm” because it often happens in conjunction with core abdominal muscle exercises. The study was published in a March 19 special issue of Sexual and Relationship Therapy.

“It may be that exercise — which is already known to have significant benefits to health and well-being — has the potential to enhance women’s sexual lives as well,” Debby Herbenick, co-director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at IU’s School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, said in a written statement.

While the study is new, reports of orgasms during exercise have circulated for years, Herbenick said.

For the study, surveys were administered online to 124 women between the ages of 18 to 63 who reported having exercise-induced orgasms (EIO) and 246 women who said they had exercise-induced sexual pleasure (EISP). Most were in a relationship or married, and about 69 percent were heterosexual.

“The most common exercises associated with exercise-induced orgasm were abdominal exercises, climbing poles or ropes, biking/spinning and weight lifting,” Herbenick said. “These data are interesting because they suggest that orgasm is not necessarily a sexual event, and they may also teach us more about the bodily processes underlying women’s experiences of orgasm.”

About 40 percent of the women who had EIO or EISP episodes had done so on more than 10 occasions. One-fifth of the women could not control their experiences, and most of the EIO subjects said they felt self-consciousness when exercising in public places. Most of them said they were not fantasizing sexually or thinking about anyone they were attracted to when the orgasms happened.

While abdominal exercises most frequently triggered EIO at the rate of 51.4 percent, others reported having an orgasm when weight lifting (26.5 percent), doing yoga (20 percent), bicycling (15.8 percent), running (13.2 percent) and walking/hiking (9.6 percent).

While the study did not explain why these “coregasms” occurred or how many people in the population experience them, the authors said it only took five weeks to recruit 370 women who said they experience the phenomenon. This suggests that orgasms while exercising may be more common than you think.

There are some theories that may provide an explanation. Dr. Victoria Zdrok, a sex therapist and author of “The Anatomy of Pleasure,” told Men’s Health in 2007 that a lot of women build tension in their legs before they orgasm. “So, when a woman exercises, the release of endorphins and dopamine, which are necessary for orgasm, combined with the tension in the lower extremities, can cause the” stimulation, she explained.

But another expert, author of “Fearless Sex” Dr. Joy Davidson, told the magazine it had to do with strong pelvic muscles. “When they’re doing certain exercises that are tapping into the deep core or into the quads and inner thighs, what they wind up doing is almost automatically squeezing pelvic muscles in addition,” she said.

Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57400777-10391704/study-confirms-some-women-orgasm-during-exercise/

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Can We Be Happy With Our Emotional Opposites?

Show Me the Love… Or Not

*Originally posted in The Wall Street Journal.

Chuck Ford tells his wife often how much he loves her. He likes to hold hands when they walk, cuddle when they watch TV and hug—a lot.

His wife has learned to like it. “I don’t like to sit on the couch and cuddle for two hours,” says Judy Ford, a 66-year-old retired high-school counselor from Carmel, Ind.

Of all the ways that opposites attract, the thorniest may be when emotionally giving types pair up with types who are emotionally reserved.

Givers love to show affection: Hugs, kisses, flowers, skywriting—there’s no such thing as too much. They crave receiving displays of love, as well.

Reserved types certainly may love deeply, but they are uncomfortable showing it. Often, they rely on their partner to initiate a display of affection. Sometimes, they don’t even enjoy receiving expressions of love.

Initially, emotionally giving types are attracted to emotionally reserved types, and vice versa, because they are so different, experts say. Giving people often find reserved people intriguing; they like to elicit affection from someone who doesn’t express it easily. And deep down, reserved types often like to be drawn out.

Over time, though, the two types can bring out the worst in each other. The giver starts to seem needy. The reserved partner reacts by pulling away. This makes the giver give even more in order to elicit attention; the reserved one backs away even further.

Early in their 20-year marriage, Mr. Ford, a 61-year-old retired social-studies teacher, began to feel his wife didn’t fully reciprocate his affection. She rarely initiated hugs and kisses. And while she let him hold her hand sometimes, Mr. Ford says he could tell she didn’t really enjoy it. He began to pull away. “I didn’t want to waste my time,” he recalls. “If the marriage isn’t working so well, I can go fish or hunt or work on my studies or business relationships.” He worried the relationship wouldn’t last.

In the psychology field, these different ways of relating are called “attachment style,” and they are partly learned and partly genetic. Attachment is believed to be a basic human need with an evolutionary basis. Many children, such as orphans, who aren’t held or given physical affection fail to grow at normal rates.

Amir Levine, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at Columbia University in New York, identifies three types of attachment styles: Secure, Anxious and Avoidant. Secure people make up more than half the population and are typically warm, caring and comfortable with intimacy, he says….

Then Ms. Ford asked her husband what was wrong. He told her, “I need more physical closeness, and not necessarily sex.” She reminded him that she had been raised in a German-American household that wasn’t “huggy-kissy.” She told him she prefers to show love through actions—making a nice home, planning vacations, setting up get-togethers with his family. “I was raised in a very bonded family that showed their love by spending time together,” she says.

Those with an Anxious attachment style, about 20% of the population, often worry about their relationship and whether their partner loves them, says Dr. Levine, co-author of the book “Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love.” They typically are emotionally giving. Those with an Avoidant attachment style, about 25% of the population, tend to think intimacy leads to loss of autonomy and try to minimize closeness, he says.

In the mid-1960s, a Johns Hopkins University psychologist, Mary Ainsworth, developed an experiment known as “the Strange Situation”: A young child plays with her mother in a room. Her mother leaves, and a stranger remains. Then the mother returns. Most children were distressed when their mothers left the room, says Robert S. Marvin, director of the Mary D. Ainsworth Child-Parent Attachment Clinic, in Charlottesville, Va.

Dr. Ainsworth examined what took place during the mother-child reunion. Some children rushed to their mothers and were easily consoled; Dr. Ainsworth concluded they secure. Other children were unable to be consoled by their mothers; these she called “anxious-resistant.” Some didn’t rush to their mothers, or they started to approach but then turned away; these she called “anxious-avoidant.”

Another experiment, “the Still Face,” conducted by Edward Tronick, now a developmental psychologist at the University of Massachusetts Boston, demonstrates that a child can experience a mother’s emotional withdrawal at an early age. Dr. Tronick videotaped a mother engaging lovingly with her approximately 1-year-old baby. Then the mother makes her face immobile. The baby notices and tries to re-engage with her by smiling, then by pointing, then shrieking and finally crying.

The good news, Dr. Levine says, is that attachment style can change. Experts say couples need to tell each other what they need and be specific. For example, they can say, “I know it’s difficult for you to be affectionate in front of my friends, but at home I really need a hug every day.”

Article Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203358704577235271160881402.html

(Buy Print) Photo Source: http://davved.deviantart.com/gallery/?offset=24#/d2qvl24

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Caramelized Mango Upside Down Cake

I got this recipe in my inbox today and I think it would be a sin not to share. I LOVE MANGO!

Ingredients

175g castor sugar
2 mangoes, peeled and diced
150g cake flour
10ml baking powder
175g butter, softened
175g castor sugar
60ml ground almonds
4 eggs, beaten
5ml vanilla essence

For serving

1 mango and 1 passion fruit

Grease and flour a 22cm ring cake pan.
To make the caramel, put the sugar in a heavy-based saucepan and cook very gently over medium heat – do not stir – until deep golden brown. Pour immediately into the prepared pan.
Arrange the diced mango over the caramel. The fruit must almost cover the base of the pan.
Sift the flour and baking powder and place in a food processor.
Add the butter, sugar, almonds, eggs and vanilla.
Process briefly until smooth and evenly blended – 1-2 minutes.
Spread the cake mixture over the fruit. Bake at 160ºC until the top is golden and the sides of the cake have pulled away from the pan – about |30-40 minutes.
Transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool for a few minutes, before unmolding.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:

Decorate top of cake with diced mango and passion fruit. Or you can dust the cake with icing sugar and serve, with crème fraiche, warm or at room temperature.

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Robert Indiana’s “Love”

I wanted to share with you one of the symbols that I adore and some of the facts I have learned about this Iconic sculpture.

According to Wikipedia, Indiana’s iconic work LOVE was first created for a Christmas card for the Museum of Modern Art in 1964.  Later, in  1973  this image was included on an eight-cent United States Postal Service postage stamp; the first of a regular series of “LOVE  STAMPS.”

There are currently 34 “larger than life” Love sculptures in art centers and outdoor parks around the world with 15 outside of the US, and two of them in languages other than English.

The following is a small biography of the Artist

“Robert Indiana is an American artist. He was born the 13th September 1928 in New Castle, Indiana. He joined the Pop-Art movement in New York after his graduation from Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis. He used some distinctive imagery drawing on commercial art approaches blended with existentialism. He calls that art “sculptural poems.” Read More

Indiana’s official website is: rogallery.com

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Candied Almonds: Caramel and Chocolate Dipped Almonds with a Hint of Cocoa

The LA times published this recipe today and I thought it would be a sin not to share. This sounds delicious.

Servings: Makes about 1 cup

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup whole toasted almonds
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (minimum 66% cacao), roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, more as needed

Total time: 50 minutes
1. Line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper.

2. In a medium heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Heat the mixture over high heat until the sugar melts and the mixture turns a rich caramel color, 10 to 12 minutes. Brush the sides of the pan using a pastry brush dipped in water to keep the sugar from crystallizing.

3. Remove the caramelized sugar and dip the pan very briefly in a large bowl of cool water to cool and thicken the sugar slightly. With the pan held at an angle (be careful that the sugar does not spill, as it is hot and can easily burn you), dip the almonds, several at a time, into the sugar using a fork to coat them. Remove the almonds using a fork or two (grease the forks with nonstick cooking spray to keep the sugar from sticking), gently shaking off the excess caramel, and place them on the prepared baking sheet to dry. If you find that the sugar hardens too much for dipping, gently reheat it on the stove until thinned.

4. Melt the chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring often to prevent the chocolate from burning.

5. Dip the almonds, using a fork or two, into the chocolate to coat. Shake off the excess chocolate and place the almonds on the baking sheet, making sure they do not touch. Place the sheet in the freezer for about 5 minutes to harden the chocolate.

6. Place the cocoa powder in a small bowl and add the almonds, a few at a time, to toss and coat them with cocoa. Repeat with all of the almonds. Store the almonds in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Each of 16 servings: 182 calories; 3 grams protein; 24 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 10 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 18 grams sugar; 1 mg sodium.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/features/food/la-fo-masterclassrec5-20111201,0,261104.story

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A Big Thank You to All Who Have Served This Country

The following videos show dogs welcoming their owners after they return from service, depicting one of the many sacrifices military men make leaving their loved ones to serve our country.

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Five Worst Holiday Gifts. I’d rather get Nothing™

We’re back in giving season and I wanted to share the list of products I’ve come across during my online shopping. Yes, some made it to the cart checkout and will be in the stockings of the friends I want to make laugh and those that I dislike. Do you have any products to share with? Leave us a comment in our Facebook Page.

1. Surgery-less Nose Job :

The best way to tell that special someone: “You’re fugly and it’s time to do something about it.”  This Nose up Lifting Shaping & Bridge Straightening Beauty Clip set is available in Amazon for only $5.29.

2. Acne Clarifying Chocolate bars

It’s usual to receive chocolate in the holidays, but this particular brand has a unique statement: “It’s time to visit the aesthetician girlfriend.” This product supposedly prevents breakouts and reduces irritation and redness. It can be purchased at Nordstrom.com

3. Flatulence deodorizer

In every family there’s that person who can’t (or refuses to) hold and walk out of the room when nature calls. If that’s not embarrassing enough for him/her, how about making them them unwrap a present that holds one of the the patented Flat D. products.


4. Bear Scratch

Remember that looser who pretended his son was on a home-made balloon to get publicity? this is another one of his “genius”  ideas. For $19.99 you can buy  this branch replica that can be installed in your home to scratch your back like bears do.

5. Crazy Cat Lady Soap

With this cat food scented soap it will be impossible to keep them rough-tongued felines away from your friend/victim. It’s available at Amazon.com for $5.92.

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They’d Rather Wear Nothing. Let Them.

(Photo By Paul Stephens / For The Times)

I came across the following article in the Associated Press about the growing movement in Yemen that will liberate women and allow them, among other things, to decide how they will present themselves to the world.

In my opinion, every woman should celebrate her physical beauty without being judged by others.

Yemen uprising binds women from many walks of life.
By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press – 54 minutes ago

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Early in Yemen’s uprising, about 20 women with banners demanding equal rights marched into the heart of the capital, joining the thousands who were calling for the ouster of the president. They were greeted with cheers. Read More…


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Halloween Make-up Tutorial Videos

The amount of good videos out there where you can learn how to pull off the best Halloween make up is unbelievable.

I wanted to share these because I know that with  a well planned costume you can get the most looks this year. Be this year’s contest winner and party like a rockstar -after all, fun is what this season is all about.

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