Happy New Year????

24th Jan 2024

2024 dawned exquisitely bright over the coastal range of southern Oregon this year. The pastel pinks and oranges as the dawn approached were stunning and electric. Like a squirrel hair fan brushed by the gods.It was  beautiful

Unless you have spent some time in the chocolate industry you really cant imagine what holidays are like. They come at you slowly. You start to see some serious wholesale orders from stores who haven't ordered in many months. Much larger than normal PO's for your holiday themed items. Production starts to ramp in October. The ordering process for everything you use is on fire. Ribbon, labels, boxes, and ingredients need to be supplied in larger and larger quantities.Last but not least you gotta have hands to do the work.

Now the pandemic and subsequent economic downturn had certainly been challenging. Supply chain disruptions? Duh! Things that used to take 2 days to get now take a week. Things that would take 4 months from overseas now take 6.  Things that you relied on for holiday orders are back ordered until the container gets here.Even when the container arrives there is no guarantee it will leave the dock to the warehouse on time or even at all. It could sit for a month or more before a trucking company picks it up.Its maddening. Just picture waiting for your Valentines boxes that should have arrived in December not being delivered until after February 5th. Which means you cancel thousands of dollars of wholesale orders because its too late to set a grocery store for valentines day....they want their orders in mid January or NOTHING. Thats what was happening all of 2022 and part of 2023.

So here we are. January 2024 and we are scrambling like hell to get these orders out. There just are not enough hands or hours in the day to meet deadlines, or it seemed. This years PO's are bigger than ever.There are only 6 of us here between kitchen and packaging. Not every person CAN work full time. Its complicated. But have made it. Through ice storms shutting down the I5 corridor north of us and then UPS subsequently losing a  crucial order for a week, we somehow got it all out, more or less, on time.

This is all good news. 

As I get closer to my 22nd Valentines Day making chocolate I am humbled by the support and continued good fortune. I am also exhausted. Which is why last year belle and I went to the Cook islands for a few weeks in July. Way there? Well 30 years ago, when we got married in Hawaii I wanted to honeymoon in the Cook Islands. But there was no internet. Travel there was weird and not very well documented. I just knew though that those coral fringed atolls called to me. We went to Bali instead. It was great.

But as our 30th wedding anniversary approached I thought why not? Lets get there. Its all available online now and Hawaiian air just opened up direct flights from Oahu. So I bought us tickets. We spent 7 days on Rarotonga and 16 days in Aitutaki.  It was life changing. The climate, the people, the stunningly blue warm waters were exactly what we needed. Leaving there after 3 weeks was like torture. We did NOT want to come home. It was so good for our souls its hard to describe. It lit a creative fire under me and I began painting immediately after our return. All summer I depicted what we saw in large bright canvases. It felt so good.

Suffice it to say the place is gorgeous and to get back there has been our goal. So that's what we are doing. Going back to the island of Aitutaki, this time for a full 3 weeks on just that atoll. The pace suits us. The water is perfect. The fishing fantastic, The food great. The people warm and welcoming. We made friends there who are excited we are returning so soon. It has become the light at the end of the tunnel. Our personal pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I want to stay there forever. We shall see.

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