welcoming masters-hood with grace potter and her chocolate

I’ve got some great news. Perhaps due to all the well-wishes I received that effectually bolstered my confidence, or perhaps due to the focused nature of my steel-trap mind, I am now a Master. The good cheer that fills my body and soul today leads me to pump out some applicable Metallica lyrics. I’ve been waiting to listen to this song for weeks.

Master, master / Where’s the dreams that I’ve been after? 
Master, master / Promised only lies 
Laughter, laughter / All I hear or see is laughter 
Laughter, laughter /Laughing at my cries 

In retrospect, this doesn’t sound very celebratory, does it? My thoughts wander to Dire Straits’ Lady Writer, given the intense thesis revisions I’ve been undergoing over the past few weeks. A closer look at the mumbled lyrics reveals that nothing seems terribly celebratory in that song either. No matter.

I’d like to raise a glass to this great week in my life (*chink*) in two ways – through a photographic homage to my research, and through a chocolate bar review. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?


My research utilized hemispherical photography to estimate the openness of canopies in white pine forests. What I may not have mentioned here was that I was privileged enough to obtain a Canon 5D Mark II for my work. I was blown away by it, and somewhat blown away by its heavy weight as well – what a camera. The problem here was that the only working lens I had for the Canon was the Sigma 8mm fisheye lens for my research. Thus my plans to take the camera on every adventure and excursion I ever took (ever!) were squashed.

Until last weekend. Sad at the thought that I’ll soon have to part with this wonderful piece of technology, we took it with us around town and on a drive to the nearby Ellsworth. In the surrounding images, you’ll see 180 degree snapshots of what my mind’s eye has captured lately – including a photo I snapped during the middle of my defense, whilst demonstrating the capabilities of a wireless remote shutter.


Last weekend I was pleased to find a chocolate bar that I’ve previously mentioned, but hadn’t seen in person until now.

The Grace Under Fire All Natural Pistachio & Red Pepper Dark Chocolate Bar from Lake Champlain Chocolates. A bar designed by famed Vermonter Grace Potter, of Grace Potter & the Nocturnals fame.

Ooh la la.

A 54% cocoa base, which is Lake Champlain Chocolates‘ signature ‘dark’ chocolate, is paired here with pistachios, red pepper, and hints of cinnamon and vanilla. The pistachios have been roasted, and are presented throughout the bar in unashamedly-large chunks. Red pepper at first seems absent, only to come through in the finish, with a slow and quiet burn building as the smoky pistachio flavor disintegrates. Perhaps the cinnamon is present during the finish as well, but I didn’t notice much of it, or the vanilla, at any point during my tasting.


I thought it would be fun to write a paragraph on my experiences with this bar through the words of Grace Potter & the Nocturnals songs. Here goes.

You know it soothes my soul, finding time to lose with you (it’s way too late for dignity). Sweet like sugarcane, slow like a midnight train, so come sit down beside me. I see it and I believe it: just a taste would be sweeter, sweeter, sweeter… it’s only love. All the treasures of my life are right here in my hand – one part sugar, two parts feeling, three cups full of bottled lightening. Heart races, closer and closer, ’til it whispers in my ear “Don’t let it go to waste.” You are the voice inside my head, you see through my trouble and my temper. You may see me when I’m all undone, and like so many [chocolates] done before you always leave me wanting more.

Not terribly cohesive eh? But rather, a well-spent hour researching song lyrics. And perhaps the most lyrical ode to chocolate I have produced yet.

A footnote about this bar: mine had bloomed (you can see a wee smudge of it, above). Shame on The Grasshopper in Ellsworth, for selling bloomed chocolate. That said, I’m not sure if this bar is a regularly-produced item from LCC, or a one-time product that just happens to be gathering dust on a shelf in small-town Maine, or a bar that suffers from bloom due to the presence of such chunky pistachios (which would work how, exactly?). My guess is it’s not a regular item, and this store is just trying to sell up its share of old product – after all, the bars were made to commemorate the release of the band’s most recent album… over a year ago. But perhaps I’m off-base here. Either way, the bloom has no effect on the spicy and bold flavor of this tasty chocolate. It goes down easily, and it’s great for snacking on if you need a pick-me-up midday.

Lake Champlain Chocolates

750 Pine Street
Burlington, VT 05401


Grace Under Fire bar available here.

See more about LCC, which I visited last winter.

Pssst: Bangor, Maine. Home to a large statue of my man Paul Bunyan.


29 thoughts on “welcoming masters-hood with grace potter and her chocolate

  1. Woooooooooot!!!!!!!!!!!! And SQUEEE! And congratulations! And I knew it! (Because I’m very clever.) Can I call you Master Emma from now on? Master Emma, Psychic Cat, and Friendly Man? (Wait, is that what you nicknamed the fella? I can’t remember exactly.)

    Celebratory trip to Australia, yes? Yes?

    (Emma’s mum, if you’re reading this… please help me convince Emma to come visit me in Australia. You can come too! What fun we’ll have, hurrah!)

    1. Hannah, you may simply call me Master. Psychic Cat approves, although she is napping in the sun and unable to respond to your query at this time. I don’t believe I’ve ever referred to my fella as Friendly Man, but that’s so incredibly silly that I might have to take it up. Maybe not though? strubshank would also do;)

      How I would love to take a celebratory trip to Australia! It sounds perfect, except for the part about how it’s the most expensive plane ticket I could find anywhere on the globe. Hmm. If I were to ever visit, would you travel about with me and trek into the bush, and traverse the many miles, and show me the many sights that abound in your great land?


        1. Holy crap that place looks amazing!! To the bungle bungles, I say! I will wear my bangles to the bungle bungles. Will you eat bagels at the bungle bungles?

          1. Somehow I doubt bagels are in keeping with the history of the Bungle Bungles, but we could always bring our own. I’ve wanted to go every since I made a poster about them in year 3 :) There are so many insanely gorgeous and incredible places in Australia; so diverse too. The Daintree, Cradle Mountain, Uluru, etc… COME COME!

            1. I would love to. All of those places look so amazing. I’d only hear of Uluru before, which is neat enough, but all those places together would make for one long and lovely trip. And lots of mileage covered.

              Alas, I cannae travel right now. …It’s tough enough deciding where to move next… so it’s up to you for now;)

              1. Not entirely sure why, but all of my American friends seem to always leave it up to me to visit them… harrumph! :P I even pulled out the Bungle Bungles for you! ;)

    1. Thank you El! And now, what a huge weight that has been lifted from my shoulders:)

      Ohhh how I wish I could keep the camera too. I told my advisor I should hypnotize him, to convince him of my camera-keeping merits!

  2. Congratulations! :)

    And, where are you going to hang your diploma? (That’s what I was asked when I received my Master’s…)

    1. Silvia, good question! Hmm. Well, where is yours?

      Maybe the kitchen would be a good place, it’s after all my favorite room to spend time in:)

      1. It’s still in the box it came in… I still can’t decide whether I want to put it on the wall at all….

  3. Yeah, girl! Nice defense photo. That camera is super sweet! I miss the Grasshopper Shop in Bangor like crazy. I always found their candy selection to be quite charming.

    Enjoy your Christmas, and make some extra lefse for me!

    1. Brianne, I was pleased with how that image turned out. I have a before image that’s nearly identical, but without any people – it’s fun to flip between the two.

      I never went into the Grasshopper in Bangor, not sure why. But yeah, they have a pretty excellent sweets selection!

      Enjoy Wisconsin! I will be making lefse without my momma for the first time next Saturday, eep! Have fun making marshmallows:)

  4. Poppa pop says: (paraphrasing)”I want to give you big, big congratulations, you are amazing, you are wonderful!!!”
    And me, you know how I feel, WOWEEEEEEEEE!!!!!
    Love the use of the fish-eye camera, what fun to see the world this way. The opening shot is terrific…love the Beata. The photo of the defense room is interesting and cool…did you not have lights on on purpose so that we can see the red light in your hand? Marvelous outfit, dahling!
    Thank you, Hannah, for the offer. A trip to Australia would be fantastic! I think that we should all go:-) Hurrah for sure!!!

    1. Thanks, Poppa Pop, you internet scoundrel, you. And thanks, Mum, Woweeeeeeeee:)

      I love my little rat-faced Beata, the fisheye sure changed her appearance, didn’t it? Also, I was quite pleased with how nicely my outfit came together, plus how I towered above the short Mainers in my heels.

      Yes, to Australia we all shall go!

  5. Congratulations!
    I love the pictures. That is one fun fisheye lens! I have a cheap lomo fish eye that does not produce images that good AT ALL!
    How awesome is Grace Potter in chocolate form? I love the lyrical review. My husband adores her and we spent an hour watching a Hulu show. Well, he watched and I was so nervous that her skirt or the super skinny bass guitars skirt was just going to inch up a wee too far at any moment and complete nude embracement would ensue- I couldn’t look. He told me to chill out, and if you are willing to wear such a short a skirt perhaps you just don’t give a damn if it inches up too far.

    1. sarah, we are so on the same wavelength. Every time I’ve seen her live, my mind has filled with worry that her wee skirt will ride up half an inch, and thus too far. She must have some special fabric though, unlike the commoners. My skirts always ride up, and I’ll think you’ll agree with me about tights riding down… I don’t know how she does it.

      Fun music though – extra fun to try and sing along with (my voice doesn’t go that high, but that doesn’t stop me:)

  6. Congratulations, good lady! Everything looks so wonderful through the fisheye lens that I’m looking rather jealously at my own goldfish swimming round in her tank. What circular beauty doth she perceive (am also tired, scuse poetic flouncing.)

    Intrigued by red pepper in chocolate, but can see how its smoky, smooth flavour would go well.

    1. Laura, I bet your lucky clucky cute lil goldfish has a great fisheye view, 24 hours a day. She could film an episode of the Hungry and Frozen Show for you, offering a new take on cinematography: the whole thing would be like a badass Beastie Boys music video, I think.

      The red pepper was actually too much for me on two different occasions, but in a good way – especially since at first I was all “there’s no peppa in here, where’s the peppa??” Speaking, as I do, like a middle-aged broad from Boston.

  7. Well done, well done, well done! What a feat. My husband is doing a thesis right now so know you’ve accomplished an amazing thing. I love how you’ve marked the event on your blog with a chocolate review. So perfect! :) Interesting combination of flavours? Spicy nuts? Hmmmmm, I guess I can see it. ;)

    1. Julia, thank you:) Good luck to your husband, I can’t imagine working on a thesis with a young child underfoot as well! He must have terrific perseverance.

      It was a strange combination of flavors. The pistachios were roasted to the point of being a bit meaty, so combining them with the red pepper actually worked really well.

  8. Master Emma, congrats. You are now in the real world. Kiss essays and research papers goodbye. Hopefully forever. And know that I am super jealous. ;-)

    By the way, love the photography adventures.

    1. sophia, aww thank you:) Except I’m still revising my thesis, and then I have to prepare two manuscripts for publication. But once that’s done, I’ll kiss essays and papers goodbye… until I consider doing a Ph.D!

      You’ll be done soon enough, and then you’ll probably miss it;)

  9. Congrats, Master Emma!! Looking forward to see what is next in store for you. Love the fisheye photos! Annnd pistachio + spice is a winning combo.

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