Living the Sweet Life

By Kim Redeker, The Sweet Granada

Greetings from my gourmet chocolate shop in small town Kansas where I have learned to enjoy the sweeter side of life. It’s a great blessing being a positive and happy part of so many people’s lives each day. And now, I’m sharing some of the moments and stories that help us all live the sweet life.

Ghouls, goblins, and ghosts - OH MY!

Haunted houses, pumpkin patches, costumes contests, and more are on the agenda! It’s October the month of all Hallow’s Eve! Everywhere you look there’s pumpkins being transformed into jack-o-lanterns, yards being converted into cemeteries or spider web covered images of nightmares, apples turning into candy, and people turning into various ghosts and goblins.

As time grows closer to Halloween, more and more carved pumpkins are emerging on doorsteps, and I swear, they get more creative every year. People have put their carving skills to the test - what used to be three triangles and a crooked smile, is now a fully carved and fully detailed landscape, cat, bat, or… Pablo Picasso’s Starry Night. Whenever the trend started doesn’t matter because they sure are fun to look at!

Looking at these fun, festive pumpkin decorations gets me to thinking about everything people have found to do with pumpkin and pumpkin spice.

1. Bake the Seeds - after carving your beautiful masterpiece, a big pile of delicious seeds sit in a pile of goop. All you have to do is fish them out, put them on a baking sheet, sprinkle some seasoning (just about any), and pop in the in the oven. Voila! Fresh, crispy pumpkin seeds await.

2. Pumpkin Spice Latte - need I say more? Many wait all year round for this special fall treat. I’ll see you in line at the favorite local coffee shop!

3. Pumpkin Pie - this specialty is complete with a nice layer of whip cream and a big family gathering saying thank you for all that we’ve been blessed to have encountered over the years. Pumpkin pie, in my mind, tends to be synonymous with family and cozy thoughts of thanks.

4. Pumpkin Pie FUDGE- yes, I have to throw in the pumpkin flavored fudge we make here at the Sweet Granada. Secret fact - it’s made with actual pumpkin, just like the pie!

And who can forget the favorite fall transformation of a plain apple to caramel apple? Apples are going from plain to caramel! Here at The Sweet Granada we use fresh granny smith apples and our own sweet, chewy caramel for the perfect tart, sweet, crisp and chewy combo.

Last, but not least, let’s bring on those super fun costumes! People are transforming from their everyday selves into the world of fantasy to be something different. It’s a great time to show creativity and have some fun! I always dust off my old witch’s hat to greet the costumed customers for one of the cutest Emporia Main Street events - Eek-town down Commercial Street. During this trick-or-treating event, we see all the local children dressed in their scariest Halloween costumes. Well, maybe not the scariest, but definitely the cutest. We get to see princesses, gladiators, ninja turtles, firemen, gnomes, mermaids and more.

Yup...we are definitely living the sweet life this Fall!


It’s Sweet to be a Hornet

We just wrapped up three fun days participating in the E-Experience program with Emporia State University where over three hundred new ESU students explored our downtown businesses as part of their sneak peek to life in Emporia. As the last group filed out of the shop, I can’t help but start counting down the days until they are back for the fall semester.

I love how quickly the entire town fills with life as Emporia becomes a college town again each August. It’s as if our sweet little town has awakened for the new school year. I’m always anxious to meet the students and never shy about sharing advice for the incoming freshmen and newcomers to ESU.

A big part of your college education comes from outside of the classroom. Grow your time management, communication and people skills by getting involved in extra-curricular activities on campus and in the community. And this is a win-win because most clubs and organizations benefit your community as well with service projects and volunteer opportunities.


You’ll likely find that many businesses have student discounts and specials when you show your student ID. The Sweet Granada does!

Nothing exemplifies the college experience like a rowdy student section at a ballgame. Paint your face and gear up to cheer on the Hornets! Trust me…these are some of the best memories you’ll have some day of your time at ESU. Get your homework done early and don’t miss the game!


My favorite advice is this: If you bring your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, family and friends to The Sweet Granada when they visit, you have like a 100% success rate of getting some free chocolate out of the deal. Wink. Wink.

ESU Class of 2020, we are thrilled you decided to be a Hornet and can’t to see your smiling faces in town soon! #StingersUp


How to Make Chocolate Soup

Tips on How to Save Your Summer Chocolate

Following a boiling Independence Day, the summer heat continues to bear down, and the heat has brought to mind an excellent recipe! Many stumble upon the final product on accident, and it’s rather simple – chocolate soup.

First, stop by your local chocolate shop for your ingredients, The Sweet Granada is an excellent choice!


1 Pecan Caramel Cluster
2 Key Lime Pie Truffles
1 Dark Pretzel Caramel Bar
1/4lb Chocolate Fudge
3 White Dipped Oreos
(Substitute any chocolate of your choice)
A team member will box it up for you, and you will pay for your ingredients.

Baking Instructions:
Place box of delicious chocolaty goodness on your passenger seat, and take off – maybe even do some shopping down Emporia Main Street. Drive or shop for 5 minutes to 3 hours. Retrieve your bag from your 121 degree car, open up the box, and there you have it! A box of chocolate soup! Melted just for your satisfaction. Wait, you don’t want your chocolate all melted together in a soup of chocolaty goodness? We can give you some tips on how to buy and transport chocolate when the weather is so hot you can hardly buckle your seatbelt or warm enough that your car is slightly warmer than outside.

Chocolate To-Go Bag
If your chocolate fix is just for you, make sure to eat it right away. At the Sweet Granada, we use gourmet chocolate which is a fancy way to say that it super temperature sensitive. This sensitivity means that it melts quicker than some candies, so be prepared to dive into your goody bag as soon as you can or you might have some chocolate to lick off your hands!

Keep Yours Cool with a Cooler
If the chocolate is for a friend, make sure to keep it cool, but don’t put it in the refrigerator. Our chocolatey goodness stays in tact at room temperature (between 68 and 70 degrees) without a problem, so after purchasing your gift, make sure you transport your gourmet chocolate in an air conditioned car out of direct sunlight. Some ways to transfer without air condition include: wrapping an ice pack in a thin towel or paper and placing it near the chocolate for short trips; for longer trips, consider using a cooler or thermal bag and the same ice pack trick – it’ll lock in that cool air and provide better results.

Fit to Ship
The process is a little more involved than when the weather is cooler. Here are some chocolate summer shipping tips:

1. Wait until October. Just kidding...sort of. Unless it’s for a special occasion or a dire craving, we do recommend waiting to ship your package in cooler weather.

2. Make it snug. Use extra deli wrap or paper in the box and/or wrap the chocolate package(s) individually in bubble wrap or tissue paper. You want as little movement of the candies as possible to avoid tumbling and damaging them in transit.

3. Keep it Cool. Wrap an ice pack in newspaper and then again in plastic wrap or plastic bag. This cools the chocolate in shipping and the extra layers help keep the condensation from the ice pack away from the gift box.

4. Layered Love. The best way to make the ice pack last through the shipment is to layer it a couple of times. We wrap the gift and ice pack in thermal material which is then surrounded by a thick layer of shipping peanuts on all four sides. If you don’t have any thermal materials you can pack your ice pack and gift in a small box, then ship it in a larger box with the surrounding peanuts.

5. Ship it Fast. Most ice packs only last 24 to 48 hours, so make sure that you ship your package within that timeframe. If possible, send the package to their work address so that it doesn’t have to sit in a hot mailbox until they get home that day.

Sound like a lot of shipping stress? Don’t let the process get you down, though. Most confectioners, including The Sweet Granada, are more than happy to ship chocolatey treats in the summer months for you. So with a little planning, ice and A/C, summer doesn’t need to slow down your chocolate fun. Here’s to a delicious summer without chocolate soup and keep living the sweet life my friends...all summer long!


Summer is in Full Swing

Summer is in full swing and the warmer temperatures remind me that Father’s Day is just a few weeks away. It’s time to celebrate all those great dads out there and, of course, my mind first goes to chocolate. I decided to figure out what Sweet Granada chocolate reminds me most of dads. Hmmm, thinking, thinking…Got it!

Good dads are like a pecan caramel pretzel.

Dads are soft like the gooey caramel.
A caring father is there for his children. He puts them first and helps out in any way he can. Whether it’s a hug when a boy has hurt their daughter’s feelings or an ice cream after a lost football game, dads wait on the sidelines and are ready to pick up the pieces whenever necessary. A good father puts his children first which gives them the softest of hearts.

That soft spot makes fathers sweet.
Sometimes, fathers try to hide this part, but they are so very proud of their children. Any big milestone his child reaches, he reaches with them. From his kid’s first words, to the first day of kindergarten, to high school graduation, to getting married, a dad stands by your side and cheers you on as if those accomplishments are his own.

Dads are kind of nutty.
Everybody has dealt with the debatedly miserable “dad joke.” For example: “Our wedding was so beautiful... even our cake was in tiers!” Child: I’m cold. Dad: Nice to meet you, Cold! I’m Dad. I’d hate to forget… “Hey, pull my finger.” Or last but not least: You: What’s up? Dad: The ceiling, sky, airplanes, clouds… Dad’s have their own sense of humor and share it often, but that’s what makes them entertaining; especially when they try to unleash their dance moves at any wedding, party, or in the kitchen. Then again, it’s pretty fun to break out into the running man alongside your dad on the dance floor.

Dads have to be strong like the pretzel..
Despite their nutty ways, dads have a way to be strong and sturdy like the pretzel all the caramel softness and pecan nuttiness surrounds. Great dads hold everything together and are the strong center to great families. We appreciate those sweet fathers among us, and hope you do, too. Take a moment and tell him thank you for everything he does for you and your family – even if he is like a pecan caramel pretzel – soft, sweet, sturdy, and a little nutty!


The Sweetness of Spring

Life in a chocolate shop sometimes revolves around holiday seasons more than the traditional ones of Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. We plan and prep from one holiday to the next and things like Pumpkin Pie Fudge, Chocolate Santas, Valentine Chocolate-Dipped Stawberries and Chocolate Bunnies become the seasonal markers of our year. Each time we transition the shop and welcome a new “season,” we spend the first several days exclaiming how much we love the new colors, products, décor and there is always someone exclaiming that this one is their favorite of all.

It’s true that I love the colors of fall, the family gatherings of the holidays and the romance of Valentine’s Day. But for me, there’s something special about spring. Some of us can feel the difference as the axis of the Earth tilts bringing warmth and more sunshine into our lives. Things just feel new and fresh in the spring. I find that it energizes my days and inspires me, so I wanted to share a couple of ways that you, too, can love the sweetness of spring.

Cold hands mean a Warm Heart
If true, I’ve one of the warmest hearts around. I am one of those cold-natured creatures that are cold from the first frost to the spring thaw. I caught myself using the phrase “cold and cranky” more often this year and sometimes I felt OLD, cold and cranky. Ah, but not in the spring. So as the thermometer goes up outside, so does my mood. The world feels warm and wonderful with endless possibilities. So, shake off the cabin fever and get out and revel in the warmer weather. Join the crowds that are strolling downtown and playing in the parks. Businesses, friends and family are sweeping the sidewalks and dusting off the outside furniture. Porches, patios and parks are calling your name, so don’t miss out on the perfect, not-too-cold-not-too-hot weather of springtime. It goes by too fast!

I Can See Clearly Now the Rain is Gone
Springtime makes me think of this favorite tune by Johnny Nash. I have finally thrown off the hectic stretch of our two busiest holidays of the year and can now look forward with a rested and clear head. Every day I’m thinking of a new chocolate treat to try in the production kitchen or a fresh way to display a product in our retail shop. So, take advantage of the fresh energy that comes from one of the simpler seasons of the year. We don’t have the demands of the holidays or the busy schedules of summer to weigh us down. Try something new, hop in the car and explore, start a bullet journal or simply spend some time on your porch reading a paperback novel. Spring is a great time to check a few things off your bucket list and do it in spring-style.

And, of course,
one of my favorite pieces of advice about spring…don’t forget the chocolate bunny. I mean, really. No matter how old we are, it’s not spring without biting the ear off of one, right?


Valentine’s Day…for ALL the Loves of your Life

The most “romantic” day of the year is just around the corner. A day that may just be anticipated and dreaded in equal measure. For some it’s seen simply as an opportunity to remind a spouse or partner how much they are loved. But as the owner of a gourmet chocolate shop and the boss of half a dozen college students, it just came to my attention that it may also be one of the most anxiety-causing days of the year.

Just recently,
as she was packaging a seemingly innocuous “I Love You” chocolate bar, a young staffer asked with a sly grin, “Kim, have you ever considered doing a bar that says “I REALLY like you, but you may not be the one.” We all got a good laugh, but it reminded me that not everyone has the same positive perspective on Valentine’s Day and, well, that’s a shame. I’ve seen firsthand that Valentine’s is no longer that traditional, romantic day that started with lovey-dovey, high pressure Victorian greeting cards. Instead, it’s a day to celebrate all the different kinds of love in your life. Here are just a few examples:

Perhaps your favorite love is PUPPY LOVE.
Why not celebrate the day with a trip to the dog park and a special treat for your four-legged friend? Our house is always filled with doggie kisses all year-round, but it’s a fun opportunity to spoil them a little more on Valentine’s Day.

LOVE your job?
This year, treat your co-workers to something that tells them they are a positive part of your life. They say that we spend 30% of our total life span working, so how blessed we are when we love what we do and who we work beside. Tell them how much you appreciate it.

Is your BFF the best?
Make plans for a box of truffles, The Notebook and pajamas. It’s scientifically-proven that good, lasting friendships help us live longer. This Valentine’s Day, celebrate the LOVE of friendship.

And really…we all know who many of you consider the LOVE of your life – your grandkids!
Start a Valentine tradition with your children or grandchildren. When our kids were younger, our Valentine tradition was a romantic family dinner with the good china and sparkling grape juice. The kids picked the menu every year and we enjoyed everything from chicken nuggets to blue box mac and cheese by romantic candlelight. Things have changed as they’re now adults, but I will find a special way to tell them I love them on Valentine’s Day.

Trust me,
this lovers holiday isn’t what it used to be. It’s better. I hope you find a way to look at Valentine’s Day in its sweetest light. Celebrate all the things and all the ways that you love this year and you’ll be “Living the Sweet Life.”