The Chocolate Spectrum in Jupiter Florida

It’s almost Mother’s Day,

so I thought it would be the perfect time to introduce you all to a very hardworking, Jupiter Mom! Valerie Herskowitz is the owner of the Chocolate Spectrum in Jupiter Florida. She works very hard to help her son and others, with developmental disabilities, through chocolate. Read the interview below and get to know her and her mission.

Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Valerie Herskowitz and I am the owner and founder of The Chocolate Spectrum in Jupiter Florida, an artisan chocolate company and store. Our mission is to employ and  train adults with developmental disabilities. I’ve lived in South Florida my entire life (I will not tell you how many years that is!). I did have a brief two-year time where I lived in Massachusetts, but it was way too cold for a southern girl like myself. I have two children named Hunter and Blake. Hunter, it is a 27-year-old man who lives in Orlando, Florida. He is a behavior analyst and works in the autism field. Blake, is a chocolatier in our business. He is 26 and has severe autism. I also have two amazing step kids name Seth and Daniel. And a terrific little grandson named Samuel. And I’m also blessed with an amazing daughter-in-law name Poom. We don’t have nay pets. Blake, like many other individuals with autism, has allergies to all animals.

When did you start your business?

The Chocolate Spectrum started in 2013. Two forces in the universe came together. First one was the fact that my son Blake had absolutely nothing to do after high school. Although I looked for programs for him for two years before, I came up with nothing. Coincidentally, at the same time, I had gotten involved in pastry arts and chocolate making, as I had semi retired from my speech therapy practice. We started making pastries and chocolates for friends and family but soon the word got out and we developed an online business as well as a business selling at shows. Other young men and women with similar issues that my son had joined us in the kitchen and in the business. Eventually two of them were hired as employees. Then in the middle of 2016, we moved into our own brick and mortar shop in Jupiter Florida.

What are the major influences for your business? What made you choose chocolate?

As we are a social enterprise and the major influence of our business is our mission, which is to train individuals with autism. We do serve the rest of the community as we have training and classes for everyone as well as the opportunity for people to have parties at our shop. I picked chocolate, as I mentioned before, because it was just a coincidence and Blake seem to really enjoy working with it.

What do you find most challenging about running your own business?

This business presents many challenges, especially for an individual like myself who is older. Also I have many other responsibilities in my life such as teaching at the University, taking care of my father, and of course taking care of Blake. Therefore the biggest challenge I have is time, which I absolutely do not have enough of!

What is the most rewarding thing about running your company?

There are many rewarding factors about this business first of all, most importantly, my son, Blake, has a job six days a week. Without this business, he would be sitting at home watching TV. But it is also just as rewarding to be able to offer the same opportunities in the form of paid employment to the other individuals that work here as well as  recreational activities for many others who have autism and other related developmental disabilities.

Can you share a little bit with us about your involvement with Autism Community?

I have and continue to be extremely involved in the autism community. In 1999 My husband and I started a nonprofit called National Autism Registry. Through the years, we have offered many community activities for individuals with autism as well as for the family. My business itself is a community activity. I do not take a salary or any form of compensation and therefore it is also part of my community involvement.

What do you like to do on your days off?

I seriously do not have any days off yet, as this is a seven day a week business. If I do have a couple of hours on the weekend. I hope to share it with my family and to take care of my father who is quite elderly. I do hope as the years go on that I will get some time off, LOL.

What living person, other than family members, do you most admire?

I have two groups of individuals that I admire the first one is the D’Eri Family at Rising Tide Carwash down in Broward County. They are the individuals that started the ball rolling on employment options for adults with autism and they have been amazing mentors toward me. In addition, my dear friend Bonnie Schmidt, The founder of ScentsAbility Candles is also someone I admire greatly. She is doing a similar venture with candles also down in Broward.

 

Where can we find The Chocolate Spectrum online?

Our website at www.thechocolatespectrum.com. You can shop on our website at shop.TheChocolateSpectrum.com. We’re also on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.
Facebook.com/TheChocolateSpectrum/
twitter.com/thechocspectrum
Instagram.com/thechocspectrum

Upcoming events:

Book a private party with us.
Make chocolate every Thursday 2-5.
Contact us about summer camp.

 

Thank you for sharing your story and your images, Valerie!

As always, thanks for reading the blog, friends! Please shop locally for Mother’s Day this year!

Don’t forget,

if you or someone you know is thinking of buying or selling a home in the Northern Palm Beach County area, I’d LOVE for you to Contact Me! Let me help you have an enjoyable real estate experience! ❤️ Nicole

See The Manatees At The Manatee Lagoon

HI friends! I had to post about a really cool, local spot I just got to visit last week. I’ve been wanting to make it over there for what seems like FOREVER! I told my husband, today is the day! It’s chilly and we need to go see the Manatees at The Manatee Lagoon!

It was great!!

If you don’t know, Manatee Lagoon – An FPL Eco-Discovery Center, is a new, FREE Palm Beach County educational attraction with a dedicated area for viewing manatees up close. I was a little worried we wouldn’t see any manatees. From their website ” The most ideal manatee viewing opportunities at Manatee Lagoon occur when cooler temperatures are sustained over a period of two to three days with minimal cloud cover.”

The day we went was only our fist cold day, but…there were about 8 or 10 in the water when we got there.

I took a few videos. (PLEASE excuse my nasal voice and my lack of video taking skills).

It was a pretty chilly day and the wind was blowing like crazy!

The day we went, the lagoon was mostly shaded except for the side away from us. So, we could see the manatees, but not up-close.

Even from far away, you can see their scars from boat propellers 🙁

We are so lucky to have Manatee Lagoon in our area. Education is key in trying to protect these gentle creatures. I highly recommend you visit!

Can’t make it to Manatee Lagoon today, but still need a manatee fix?

They have a web cam! You can watch right from your computer.

Have you been to the Manatee Lagoon? Let me know how many manatees you got to see that day!

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Meet Jupiter Local R. H. Ferriell – Author

We’ve (finally) got some real fall weather headed our way, so it’s the perfect time to introduce you all to today’s talented and creative Jupiter Local, R. H. Ferriell.

Rebecca Holden is a Children’s Book author that lives right here in Jupiter, Florida. I’m so happy she agreed to share her story on the blog!

cover

 

Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Rebecca Holden and I was raised in lovely Louisville KY. I moved down to West Palm Beach after getting married in 2012 and now we live in Jupiter. While I could never have imagined living in FL, here I am and Jupiter is really charming. It’s a full house we live in… With two young girls, two dogs, one cat, three fish there is rarely a dull moment. During the summer my stepson and stepdaughter come to stay as well, and watching them all together is really sweet.

When did you start writing and who/what was the inspiration behind starting your first book?

Words have always been amazingly important to me, and writing is something my family has always suggested I try. Getting married and moving was a huge, bittersweet step for me. It was in a very joyful time, so much happiness but I left all my friends and my entire family. I thought I would try honoring them all by actually trying what they had always wanted me to do. Throughout the story are hints of friends and family and personal memories. I even tapped one of my very talented cousins for the illustrations.

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How many book have you written?

This is my very first attempt at publishing a story, but I do have a second ‘Mrs. Julie’ story mostly written, in case this goes well. This one is Halloween themed, so it has a very limited time of year for selling. This next one is much less holiday specific.

What is you latest book title who/what was the inspiration behind it’s story?

‘Mrs. Julie’s Pumpkin’ is my first story. It was inspired by my friends and family, and a deep love for the fall season and its holidays.

What do you find most challenging about writing?

Most challenging to actually writing the story, I would have to say creating a character others will want to relate to, or remember, maybe even recognize in their own lives. Setting the scene was easy, I just tapped into so many memories of my own. In addition to that, I have always been really very shy and do not like to be in the spotlight much. The success of this story, in a large part will my depend on my getting out there. Always a work in progress for me, but things like this interview are a great way for me to work on that.

What is the most rewarding thing about writing?

Like I said, I love words. In a time of ‘OMG’ and ‘LOL’ I fear actual words lose their relevance. I don’t use elaborate wording, but it’s not dumbed down either. If a child can see how wonderfully words can create something memorable and beautiful with words, perhaps they too will come to love words and language as much as I do.

carrots

What do you do on your days off?

First and foremost, I am a mother. When the girls are at school, I spend quite a bit of time at a local barn where I board my horse (another new adventure for me) and trying to learn there. It’s amazing to connect with an animal that is so large (just under a solid ton), she trusts me and I trust her. The barns can be very physical too, it helps keep me active.

How do you juggle writing & family?

Not a difficult task for me. After the girls go to sleep, I have hours to think about characters and lessons I want to express through the pages.

iceland us

Where can we find your books online?

This book is currently available on Amazon.com and through the publisher at Dorrancebookstore.com. In addition, I have an authors page through Facebook, R. H. Ferriell. Hopefully it will reach some of the local bookstores soon.

Thank you for sharing your story, Rebecca!

As always, thanks for reading the blog, friends!

Don’t forget,

if you or someone you know thinking of buying or selling a home in the Jupiter area? I’d LOVE for you to Contact Me! Let me help you have an enjoyable real estate experience! ❤️ Nicole

 

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Meet Susie Bettenhausen – Local Artist

Today’s blog interview is with Susie Bettenhausen, a local artist in our area. I met Susie several years ago when I worked at a local Fine Art Printer. She paints gorgeous pieces with delightful colors! She was always one of our sweetest clients and so easy to work with. Luckily, I ran into her again and she agreed to do a blog interview! So, meet Susie!

susie beach
Photography Credit Shelley Megathlin

Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in Alabama and headed out to Texas for college.  After college, we moved around the South a number of times and spent a few years in the UK as well.  In 2006, we settled in Jupiter full-time.

In the Face of Ambiguity 36x36 C
In the Face of Ambiguity

When did you first have an interest in art?  How did you get started in the “Art for a living” field? How long have you been in the biz?
I’ve had an interest in art ever since childhood but I never really thought I could make a career out of it.  I was the kid with the little art station in the corner of my bedroom all neatly organized.  I drew houses, fashions, etc.  My creativity is always finding an outlet and I love to experiment with new mediums all the time.  After college, I pursued art on the side initially.  I began by illustrating sketches, invitations, notecards and other stationery products.  I later branched out into giftware related items.  I love the aspect of “handmade” and the uniqueness that comes with each product.  I made the transition to fine art and have never looked back.  Each piece takes more time and had more meaning behind it.

susie
Tickled Pink

What do you find most challenging about running your own business?
Balancing everything – especially the aspects of the business that are not my strength areas.  As a wife and mom I have to keep everything in check and make sure my priorities stay in the right order.  Even a God given gift or talent can become and idol when it takes over your life.

Pool on Peruvian
Pool On Peruvian

What is the most rewarding thing about running your company?
Hands down, the ability to work for myself under my own guidelines and timelines.

working

What do you do on your days off?
Because my work schedule is so flexible, I may take time off at any given moment on a whim.  When I am feeling extra creative I work – a lot! If I’m not feeling it, I don’t stress over it! I adore spending time with my husband and kids and we usually make our way to the water somewhere.  We love to get up on Saturday mornings before the weekend crowds are out and go snorkeling in the Inlet or bike around Palm Beach Island.

Diadeloso
Diadeloso

How do you juggle work & family?
With a lot of help from my husband for sure!  I make an effort to start the day with a prayer and devotional time which I absolutely need in order to keep myself on track with my eyes in the right direction.  If you don’t constantly remind yourself where you’re going, it’s too easy to get lost!

Right of Center Nat
Right of Center

Where can we find You and your artwork online?
I have a website, www.susiebettenhausen.com which I try hard to keep relevant and up to date but the best way to keep up with what I’m working on is through my Instagram @susiebettenhausen.

Is there anything else you would like us to know? 
My art has been taking me all over the South recently but I do have some local events on the horizon this spring.  In February, I’m looking forward to participating in an artists event at Social House Lake Worth and in March, I will be taking part in an art event on Jupiter Island.  I am currently working on a Palm Beach series of works that will be available in the spring as well.

Thank you Susie, for sharing your story! Your work is so lovely!!

Thanks for reading the blog, friends! Please support our local business owners & entrepreneurs. They are a very important part of our little slice of South Florida. Northern Palm Beach County has many small businesses that make living here great! Know a business owner you would like to see featured. Contact me and they just may end up on the blog! – ❤️ Nicole

Are you thinking of buying, selling or moving in the Northern Palm Beach County area? Interested in how much your current home is worth? Just let me know, I’m happy to help, just contact me! Myself and the rest of the Sean Underwood Real Estate Team would LOVE to help you!

Meet Katie Choy, Author of Family Secrets Cookbook

Katie and I have known each other for several years now. Her three children and my daughter swim on the same swim team. Over the last couple of years or so, I’ve learned more about her. Let me tell you something… Katie is amazing! Read on!!

KatieAndMom

Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised north of Pittsburgh in rural Western Pennsylvania. I moved to South Florida in 1994 to work as a travel nurse at the Jupiter Medical Center, where I met my husband Rogelio. In the short time I was here, he convinced me to marry him and make my home in Jupiter! We married in 1995, and in the next three years, had three beautiful babies. We have raised our children on the Loxahatchee River and have one cat, KitKat. Our oldest son has left the nest and made his home in the San Fransisco Bay Area as a computer programmer.

Why did you first decide to make a cookbook?
The idea to make the cookbook came about years ago. I loved my Mother-in-law’s food, and it was so different from what I had ever had. I used to watch her cook and write down the recipes. When the kids came along, I had no time, and it was put on hold. Once they were older, I started learning to cook from her again. I was collecting them purely for my own use, and one day my husband said, “You should publish this.” I sort of chuckled, but kept the idea in the back of my head.

IMG_0355
Presenting Christine Najac, director of South Florida Food and Wine, with her copy. She also gave an amazing review quote for back cover.

How did you get started on the book? How long did it take from start to finish?
I can’t tell you the exact date I started the book, since I had been collecting recipes for a long time. I hit a lot of roadblocks along the way, and I am very busy with my family, so it was a long process. I would safely say that from when I took it seriously, until the book was actually published, has been at least 5-6 years.

What do you find most challenging about making the book?
The most challenging part of the book for me was actually submitting the work. I tend to feel things aren’t “good enough” and have high expectations. Letting go, and realizing it will never be perfect was my obstacle to overcome.

Presenting Mike Moir, owner of Food Shack and Leftovers, his copy. He gave an awesome review quote for back cover.
Presenting Mike Moir, owner of Food Shack and Leftovers, his copy. He gave an awesome review quote for back cover.

 

What is the most rewarding thing about the final project?
The most rewarding part of the final project is knowing I am helping to contribute to the medical care for the underserved people of Peru. A portion of the proceeds goes directly to the Peruvian American Medical Society providing clinics and medical mission trips in the remote regions. Peru educated my husband, and I want to give back.

Do you have a favorite recipe from the book?
My favorite recipe…that is so hard, because most every recipe is my favorite. Well…..except the beef tongue (that is my husband’s favorite)!

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Do you plan on doing a book tour?
I have no tour scheduled yet, but I would love to do a book tour!

What does your family think about the book?
My family loves the book. They better, because they were all a part of it. My husband and daughter did the photography, my oldest son created the iBook version, my younger son helped with the writing and editing, and my cousin did the professional editing. It was truly a family affair.

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Where can we find out more about Family Secrets Peruvian-Chinese Cuisine?
You can learn more about Family Secrets at katiechoy.com. I am doing my own marketing and distribution and will ship anywhere in the U.S., or locals can contact me directly at katichoy@outlook.com. to get their signed copy.

Is there anything else you would like is to know?
I am fortunate enough to have wonderful friends who have hosted some book-signing parties in their home to help spread the word. I am planning on attending local events such as The Benjamin School’s Kid’s Corner holiday shopping and Harbourside’s Farmers market. After the holidays, I would like to start offering personalized cooking classes. I have an exciting event scheduled for April at the Oakland Park Culinary Art Showcase. I have a lot of ideas in the works. I have been asked to arrange culinary trips to Peru, and am in the process of working with a local travel agency to make this happen. We are scrambling to put the first one together for late February.

Thank you Katie, for sharing your story! Congratulations on this wonderful project!!

Thanks for reading the blog, friends! Please support our local business owners & entrepreneurs. They are a very important part of our little slice of South Florida.  Northern Palm Beach County has many small businesses that make living here great! I’m totally ordering a few (signed) copies of this gorgeous cookbook for the chefs in my life. What great holiday gifts!! – ❤️ Nicole