Valentine's Day

Earth-Friendly Chocolate

Dear EarthTalk: I heard a reference to “Earth-friendly chocolate” and was wondering about what goes into chocolate that would raise environmental concerns.
--Ben Moran, Providence, RI

Like coffee beans, the cacao seeds from which we derive chocolate can only be grown successfully in equatorial regions--right where the world's few remaining tropical rainforests thrive. As worldwide demand for chocolate grows, so does the temptation among growers to clear more and more rainforest to accommodate high-yield monocultural (single-crop) cacao tree plantations. What are left are open, sunny fields with dramatically lower levels of plant and animal diversity. Adding environmental insult to injury, most cacao plantations use copious amounts of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides that further degrade the land that once teemed with a wide variety of rare birds, mammals and plants.

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How to Write a Love Letter

Putting pen to paper to say "I love you" is both a lot harder (do you have to sound poetic?) and a lot easier (no, you don't have to sound poetic) than it seems. It's also a surprisingly powerful way to express feelings that makes both the reader and the writer understand what those three little words really mean. Don't know where to begin? First, close your eyes, meditate, and listen to all the ways and reasons you love the people you love.

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Easy Chocolate Gifts

Most people think diamonds are a girl's best friend, but they're wrong." My husband had been talking to our teenage son about girls, and how important good manners were if you wanted to impress a girl, then he suddenly threw this bit of advice in. "What women really want," he continued, "is chocolate!"

I laughed, but then I realized that he's not too far from the truth. Though most women wouldn't turn down a diamond in favor of a piece of chocolate, few would turn down a gift of chocolates, either. Come to think of it, few men would turn down such a gift. Chocolate rules.

These simple chocolate recipes should bring a smile to your Sweetheart this Valentine's Day. They're almost as much fun to make as they are to eat!

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The Case for Chocolate

It may be hard to believe but I went without chocolate once for nine months. I was pregnant and determined to eat only "healthy" foods. My diet consisted of organic fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, with nary a chocolate bar in sight. The morning sickness (which, by the way, is all-day sickness) made quitting cold turkey seem fairly easy until it wore off four months into the pregnancy and the cravings began. I soon learned that while my house was a chocolate-free zone, out in the real world temptation was everywhere.

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Ten Ways to Keep Love Alive in a Busy Schedule

If life is what happens when you're not looking, maybe you need to get your eyesight checked. Here are some tips to keep romance in your sights and keep your love alive even while coping with the busiest of schedules. Pick up a few good habits, and make the most of the time you have together. These ten tips are a good start!

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Tissue Paper Flowers

The basic flower patterns are easy enough for my three year old to help make. She loves playing with them afterward, they hold up surprisingly well unless your kid is pretty rough.

We made pink flowers from this book with twig stems instead of pipe cleaners for daughter's preschool teachers on Valentine's Day. We used three different colors of pink, light, med, dark, and they turned out gorgeous.

Spread a Love Feast for the Birds

Songs of love abound around Valentine's Day, but it's not the only time that you can hear soulful tunes. Thanks to some melodic birds, the air is filled year-round with sweet, light songs.

Valentine's Day is the perfect opportunity to show these feathered friends that their colorful presence is appreciated. So, set aside the bread for French toast and spoil them with other tasty delights - sure to make them return again and again.

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Massage: The Right Touch

Whether you're the type of person who likes to learn a little about a subject or someone who goes whole hog, try massage. Now seen by some as a true holistic alternative medicine, the types and purposes of massage are varied enough to appeal to most anyone. An upstate New York teacher says her husband goes every week for an hour and a half. "He feels this is one of the only times he is actually able to 'empty his mind' of the week and finds that very beneficial to his health and to his productivity at work (as an ad director)."

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