Finding Freedom Through Friendship Thank You & Update!

Hello there! While we’ve been silent on the Stella Leona Blog for awhile, things couldn’t be more exciting in the shop! We’ve finally found a moment to catch our breath and we’ve got some serious catching up to do!

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First, we want to start with a very big THANK YOU! We are so very humbled to report that with your generous support we have been able to make two donations totaling $1.013.90 to Finding Freedom through Friendship (FFF)! Please see our original post here to learn more about Nancy, our founder and chocolatier, and why this organization is important to her!

Because you purchased our 2014 Mother’s Day Pansy Box we were able to make our first donation of $662.00 to Finding Freedom Through Friendship! This donation was used specifically to help a mother in Santa Barbara who was bedridden for 9 years with incapacitating pain from degenerative arthritis.

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FFF purchased medical care, meds, new crutches and a refurbished house for this family! This passed December this mother was able to be outside picking up firewood for her family thanks to the assistance provided to her from FFF! 

We were able to make a second donation of $351.90 to FFF because you purchased our 2014 Christmas Box!  This donation was used to help FFF purchase land for another mother, Sylvia, and her children. FFF had been looking for land for three years for this family. The photo below is a picture of the very plot that is flat and in a safe area where the children will no longer be in danger of falling into a ravine that was just a few feet from their former front door. This land provides the opportunity for this family to raise chickens and maybe even a goat!



THANK YOU for your continued generous support! We always say we have THE BEST CUSTOMERS and it’s so true…we do!

We would love to continue partnering with you to support FFF! Profits from our 2015 Mother’s Day Pansy Box will be donated to FFF. This is the gift that gives back! Honor a woman you appreciate and provide life-giving support to another mom in need with your purchase! You can place orders here!

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To learn more about Finding Freedom through Friendship visit their website here.



Posted on April 15, 2015 .

Mother’s Day, Finding Freedom through Friendship, My Story and MORE!

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If you receive our newsletter you already know that this Mother’s Day we are donating all of our profits from our Hand Painted Pansy Box to Finding Freedom Through Friendship, Inc. This blog is where I will begin to share more details about FFF, my own personal connection to Guatemala and my life as a single mom.

I have chosen to partner with Finding Freedom through Friendship, Inc. because I have a personal connection to the people of Guatemala and an empathy for the struggles of being a single mom. I’ve chosen to begin to share that story publicly because it shapes who I am and how I do business.  Most of all I’ve chosen to share it because I believe it can be used to illuminate the struggles of single Guatemalan mothers and their children.  The picture of this suffering isn’t comfortable.  It isn’t pleasant, and there is no easy “fix”.  But one gift, one woman, one family at a time, we can help each other. 

Stella Leona customers are some of the kindest, most generous people alive.  I know because I’ve met you… that’s the beauty of small business.  The needs of my family have been provided because you all have surrounded me with your love and generosity during recent years when I became a single mom to five children after the sudden death of my husband.  My children are healthy and educated and have nutritious food on the table in abundant supply.  I live and work with people I love and  love the work that I do.

 
(Jordan, Cale (Lauren’s Fiance), Lauren, Me, Carly, Ashlyn and Aaron)

I first learned to love the people of Guatemala through two little ambassadors—my sons.  They were born in Guatemala to women without the resources to care for them.  No one should have to make the kinds of choices their birthmothers had to make.  I hope that you will consider helping prevent someone else from being in that very difficult position. 

get-attachment aspxThrough purchasing the Mother’s Day Pansy Box, you will partner with me to provide for the critical needs of Guatemalan mothers so that they can provide food, shelter and education for their children.  If you would like to read more about Finding Freedom through Friendship or make a donation directly, click these links to their website and blog

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Posted on April 24, 2014 .

Customer Connection: Meet John, All the Way from Russia!

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Meet John! He is one of our very loyal customers who values his Stella Leona Mug! How do you measure the value of a Stella Leona mug? Well, when Jon returned to his missionary assignment in Russia this fall, teaching and working at an international school for kids of Wycliff missionaries, he had a 50lb baggage limit. He left many things behind, but made sure that his Stella Leona mug took up part of that limit! What an honor! Thanks, John! We look forward to seeing you when you return to the states!

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This is a picture of John in Russia in front of The Church of the Savior of Spilt Blood. It is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg, Russia. It is also variously called the Church of Spilt Blood and the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, its official name. 

You can get your very own Stella Leona Mug here or stop in the shop and pick them up on Friday or Saturday. They make perfect last minute additions to your Easter Baskets!



Posted on April 18, 2014 .

How to Register and Vote in the Martha Stewart American Made Contest

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We are currently in 8th place out of 317 businesses in the food category of the Martha Stewart American Made contest! You read that right! Our loyal friends and customers have gotten us to 8th place out of THREE HUNDRED and SEVENTEEN businesses! We are overwhelmed with your support!  We need to claim at least 6th place to make it to the final round and we know you can get us there. You can vote 6x/day until September 22!

We’ve had many questions about how you register and vote for us in the Martha Stewart American Made contest. We’ve created two info sheets that will walk you through the registration and voting process. We hope these answer your questions so you can start voting!

How to Register to Vote 

1. Visit our page at http://www.marthastewart.com/americanmade/nominee/82415

2. Click on Register in the top right corner.

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3. Click on Register again at the top of the page.clip_image004

4. Type your email address. Type any password you want. Unlick the box if you don’t want email from Martha. Press play to reveal a security code. Type the code in the box. Click Join!

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How to Vote

1. Once you are registered, visit our page at http://www.marthastewart.com/americanmade/nominee/82415 and click “Sign In” at the top of the page.

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2. Enter your email address and the password you chose during registration. Click Sign in.

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3. To vote just click the green “VOTE” button 6 times every day and watch the number beside the vote button go up! You can vote exactly every 24hrs. If you try to vote sooner than 24hrs you will be prompted to come back later.

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We can’t thank you enough for your endless support!



Posted on September 10, 2013 .

Stella Leona Needs Your Votes!

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We are a food category nominee in the 2013 Martha Stewart American Made Contest and voting starts today!

American Made spotlights the maker, supports the local, and celebrates the handmade. It’s a movement made up of people and communities who have turned their passion for quality craftsmanship and well-designed goods into a way of life.

 
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Click on the Martha Stewart badge above or any of the pictures in this post to be taken to our profile page to place your vote!

You will be prompted to login via Facebook or register to vote. It’s very easy! You can vote 6 times/day!

Public Voting for Category Winners begins TODAY, August 26, 2013 and ends at 11:59:59 PM on September 13, 2013.

Things are moving a little slow due to the overwhelming response to the start of the contest, but Martha Stewart’s people are working on it so don’t give up if you are trying to vote!
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We appreciate your votes and would love it if you would also share our blog, newsletter, and/or facebook posts with everyone you know! We always say we have THE best customers! Thank You for supporting Stella Leona!

Posted on August 26, 2013 .

This is how Stella Leona Customers Roll!

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Where there’s a will, Jim Rufenacht will find his way to Stella Leona! Jim is a long time Stella Leona regular customer! He always has a smile and often brings friends with him to the shop.

Last week Jim came by the shop on his tractor with his Stella Leona mug in hand! Whether by truck, car, on foot or in a tractor, we’re just glad he finds his way here and we’re always happy to see him!



Posted on July 29, 2013 .

Lesson {2} The Health Benefits of Chocolate!

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There is a lot of new information about the health benefits of chocolate! Yes, health BENEFITS! We’ve read multiple articles on this topic and are highlighting some of the common findings among our sources!

1. Studies have shown that dark chocolate helps lower blood pressure, control blood sugar and act as an appetite suppressant.

2. The cacoa bean is rich with flavonoids which are compounds that act like antioxidants. Flavonoids protect cells from harmful molecules knows as free radicals. Free radicals can cause cell damage that leads to heart disease, aging and cancers.

3. The cacoa bean contains another antioxidant known as polyhphenols. Polyphenols are known to help combat heart disease.

4. The darker the chocolate (60-80% cocoa) the more of the cocoa bean benefits it will contain. Dark chocolate is always best over milk chocolate or white chocolate when considering health benefits.

5. Like all good things, eating EVEN chocolate in moderation is best!

Posted on June 24, 2013 .

Welcome to Stella Leona Chocolate 101

Welcome to class! This is the first lesson in our new Chocolate 101 series where we will teach you all about chocolate! Lessons will be short, but informative and fun! Let’s get started with 5 facts about how chocolate grows!

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Lesson 1 – The Cacao Tree

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1. Cacao Tree – Chocolate grows on the cacao tree formally known as Theobroma Cacao. Theobroma is the Latin word for chocolate that means “food of the gods”.

2. Cocoa Pod – The leathery oval pod is the fruit of the tree that contains cocoa beans. It ranges from 8-14 inches long and varies in colors of green, yellow, orange, red purple or maroon, depending on the level of ripeness.

3. Cocoa Bean – The 50-60 seeds nestled in each pods sweet juicy pulp. The seed of the pod is called a cocoa bean once it is removed.

4. Location – Cocoa trees grow primarily in the remote areas of West Africa, Southeast Asia, Central America and South America.

5. Fun Facts – Cacao trees can produce good cocoa pods for 25 years. Seeds are so bitter that only humans will eat them.

Posted on June 18, 2013 .

13abc Action News All Stars VS Pettisville

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Photos Courtesy of Phil King Images

This spring the 13abc Action News team traveled to Pettisville for a basketball game where all proceeds raised benefited the school. We proudly sponsored the Pettisville team. It was an entertaining game that ended with a Pettisville Victory after Mike made two free throw shots! Stella Leona T-Shirts are available for purchase in the shop!

Posted on June 6, 2013 .

Spangler Peanut Cluster Winners!

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Thank you all for your comments and stories on our Spangler Peanut Cluster Giveaway post! They were fantastic and we had fun reading them! If your comment is listed below you are the winner of a box of clusters!!  You must claim your box of clusters by Saturday, May 4th. 

If you are a local customer you can pick up your box in the shop on Thursday or Friday 9-5 or Saturday from 9-12. 

If you do not live nearby, please email us with your address and your choice of maple or vanilla clusters to the following email address: info@stellaleona.com.

 

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Posted on April 25, 2013 .

Spangler Peanut Cluster Giveaway!

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If you haven’t heard yet, we have collaborated with the Spangler Candy Company to once again create their historic and iconic Spangler Candy maple and vanilla peanut clusters in the Stella Leona Shop! Yes, those clusters! The clusters that were originally produced by Spangler in 1912! 

We have recreated the original recipe that was first produced just over a century ago. It has been a wonderful collaboration and the clusters are proving to be wildly popular again! You can read more about our partnership and the clusters here.clusterstorycard
While we suspected they would be a big hit, what we hadn’t anticipated were the memories and stories these clusters would reveal! We have loved hearing all about when you had your first original cluster, where you purchased them and how your parents and grandparents were big fans of the original clusters.  It has been equally as fun to see new generations try the Spangler Clusters for the very first time!

We’ve enjoyed the stories so much that we want to hear more and capture them in writing on our blog! We are giving away 10 boxes of clusters.  All you have to do is tell us about an old peanut cluster memory or leave a comment about trying these clusters for the very first time!clusterboxes
To enter, leave your comment on this blog post! Check back here on April 25th to see if you are one of the 10 random winners!

Thanks for sharing your stories with us!

Easiest Way to Comment: Choose Name/Url, enter your name, leave the URL blank if you do not have your own URL.

Posted on April 18, 2013 .

It’s National Hot Chocolate Day!

Today is National Hot Chocolate Day! To celebrate, we are demonstrating how easy it is to make our signature hot chocolate in your own home! Don’t get us wrong, we love to make this for you when you stop in the shop, but we sell our chocolate shavings so you can enjoy this luxurious and smooth hot chocolate even when we are closed!

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We sell milk and dark chocolate shavings as well as our Xocolatl which is a Mayan inspired hot chocolate. The hot chocolates are popular gifts to give and it’s been a challenge to keep them stocked this time of year! We also have gifts sets available complete with a small hot chocolate and Stella Leona mug!

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To make your own hot chocolate follow these three easy steps. Heat 8 oz. of milk,

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Don’t forget to save just a little bit of the shavings to sprinkle on top of the whip cream for a gourmet presentation. We like to top the Xocolatl with cinnamon!

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If you want to add a little something extra to your hot chocolate we suggest you try a Caramel Sea Salt Milk Hot Chocolate or a Peppermint Dark Hot Chocolate!

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To make a Caramel Sea Salt Milk hot chocolate just add a little caramel sauce to your heated hot chocolate! Top with whip cream and add a little more caramel sauce for good measure. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings and sea salt for the perfect sweet and salty treat!

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To make a Peppermint Dark Hot Chocolate simply swirl a Spangler Peppermint Candy Cane in your heated hot chocolate! Break a candy cane in small pieces to garnish the whip cream for an extra festive look! Top it off with a whole Spangler Candy Cane!

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What’s hot chocolate without some chocolates to nibble too? We recommend you pair these hot chocolates with Stella Leona Vanilla with Sea Salt Caramels or Dark Chocolate Truffles!  Happy National Hot Chocolate Day! 

Posted on December 13, 2012 .

Customer Spotlight: Perry Runs in Hot Chocolate 15K!

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We were very excited when Perry came in the shop to purchase a t-shirt because it was for a very specific reason! He completed the Columbus Hot Chocolate 15k on November 18th and wore his Stella Leona T-Shirt for the race! Micah, Ariel and Erin joined him for the 5k portion of the Hot Chocolate Race. Proceeds benefited the Ronald McDonald House!

Congratulations to you and your team for participating in this event! Thanks for wearing our t-shirt and promoting Stella Leona! We appreciate your support!

Posted on December 3, 2012 .

Pinning All About the Chicago Fine Chocolate Show

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We’ve joined Pinterest and are having fun pinning away. We couldn’t wait to see who would be at the Chicago Fine Chocolate Show this weekend so we did some research and pinned many of the show exhibitors to our “CFC Exhibitor” board.  Check out this board to get a glimpse of what you could see and taste at the show! You can follow us by clicking the Pinterest button at the bottom of our home page right here!

Posted on November 13, 2012 .

Sneak Peeks Revealed!

Thank You for making our Open House such a success! We always say we have THE BEST customers! It was fun to see so many of you! If you weren’t able to make it to open house we wanted to be sure that we revealed our sneak peeks for you!

T-shirts are available in the Stella Leona Shop for purchase!

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We’ve been told our new mugs are the best travel mugs ever! They keep drinks hot for several hours and our customers are loving the spill proof lids!  Buy a mug and save .20 cents each time you get it refilled in the shop!

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We offered samples of our new 2012 Limited Edition Starry Night Artisan Ornament and they were a hit! This ornament starts with a hand painted dark chocolate shell filled with a Stella Leona Signature sweet cream layer, luscious honey cinnamon ganache and dark chocolate crunch!

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It was fun to see and hear your reactions to this new creation! We are currently taking orders for these ornaments and will not be making extras so be sure to get your orders placed! They make a perfect gift for that special teacher, neighbor or friend!

Posted on November 9, 2012 .

Starry Night Artisan Ornament Debut

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Open House begins tomorrow and we have one last sneak peek for you! The Limited Edition 2012 Starry Night Artisan Ornament will makes its debut in less than 24hrs! 

We’ve revealed the gorgeous exterior which makes this artisan chocolate ornament a visually stunning gift to give! It even comes wrapped in a clear gift box with a Stella Leona TO and FROM tag making gift giving for that special someone in your life all too simple! 

Want to know what new flavors make up this ornament’s interior? You’ll have to come by the Holiday Open House for a nibble of the delectable combination of our finest ingredients that make this the perfect holiday dessert to share! 

Open House is Thursday and Friday from 9-5 and Saturday from 9-12! Hope to see you all there!

Posted on October 31, 2012 .

New Stella Leona T-Shirts and Travel Coffee Mugs

We have another sneak peek for you today! Stop by our Open House (Thurs, Fri and Sat) to see the brand new Stella Leona T-Shirts and Travel Coffee Mugs! The shirts come in two colors and have a new gorgeous design on the front and back.

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The 16 oz. travel coffee mugs are dishwasher safe and keep hot drinks warm for hours! Buy a mug and save 20 cents each time you get it refilled at Stella Leona!

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Come by Stella Leona for the Holiday Open House to see the full t-shirt designs and spill proof mug tops! Don’t miss your opportunity to enter the giveaway and you just might win one of these mugs or t-shirts! 

Open house is just 2 days away! Stay tuned for one more sneak peak tomorrow!

Posted on October 30, 2012 .

Sneak Peek Behind the Scenes!

We just realized that we called this our “Behind the Scenes” blog, but we haven’t shown you any pictures of what is going on “behind the scenes”! It’s a busy time of year in the Stella Leona Kitchen! We have recently expanded, rearranged and added a new tempering machine!

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Did you know that we give our customers a real sneak peek in to the Stella Leona kitchen at our Open House? Stop by Stella Leona this week on November 1st and 2nd from 9-5 or Saturday Nov. 3rd from 9-12 and you just might get to see our tempering machine in action!

Stay tuned for more Holiday Open House sneak peeks on the blog this week!

Posted on October 29, 2012 .

2012 Holiday Open House

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It’s almost hard to believe, but our Holiday Open House is less than two weeks away! We would love for you to join us! Stop in for a taste of the Limited Edition 2012 Starry Night Artisan Ornament and order yours for a holiday dessert or a stunning gift.

Sign up for the drawing, and you might be the winner of a chocolate gift or one of our new Stella Leona travel mugs or t-shirts.

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While you're here, place an order
for our hand painted Dessert Pumpkin available by special order only during
the month of November, or try one of
our new truffles.



Open House is the perfect time to plan ahead for the gift giving season.

We look forward to seeing you and your friends and sharing what's new from the Stella Leona kitchen!

Open House Hours:
Thursday and Friday, November 1 & 2 9am-5pm
Saturday, November 3 9am-12pm

New Holiday Hours:
November 6 –December 22, Tues. - Fri. 9-5, Sat. 9-12

Closed December 24 - January 2

www.stellaleona.com

Posted on October 23, 2012 .

Chicago Fine Chocolate Festival

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It is officially fall!  At Stella Leona that means that we are scurrying around finalizing preparations for new holiday chocolates and gifts for you.  We have some big events coming up in the next six weeks that we are quite excited about and that you should know about.

There will be more to come about each event, but in this post I’d like to highlight just one of them—the Chicago Fine Chocolate Festival.  Stella Leona Artisan Chocolates will be exhibiting at the 3-day show November 16, 17 & 18 at Navy Pier, Chicago.  We are sooooooo excited!!!

Some highlights of the show:

Educational sessions will be offered by the Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA), ranging from small batch chocolate making from bean to bar, sustainability in chocolate, the lifecycle of chocolate from the farm to table and more.

The Fine Chocolate area will feature products from FCIA members and other top artisan chocolatiers from the US and around the world (including Stella Leona!!!).

Pairings Pavilion:  Guest will learn how to pair and taste the nuances of fine chocolate with not only wine, but with beer, coffee, tea and more.

The Story of Chocolate will be presented by the National Confectioners Association’s Chocolate Council.  The French Pastry School will be putting their art on display with exquisite sculptures made exclusively of chocolate for all to enjoy.

These are only a few of the opportunities you can find at the show.  To learn more about the Chicago Fine Chocolate Show click here.  You can also find it on Facebook or Twitter.  We hope to see you there!!!

Posted on October 3, 2012 .