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Ever wished that chocolate grew on trees? The next best thing would be to grow it in
your garden, among your culinary herbs. That is possible, thanks to the seemingly
endless diversity of the mint family.

As its name suggests, chocolate mint is a herb that tastes like an after dinner mint. It
shouldn’t exist, but maybe it does because Mother Nature thought – “Hey! Let’s try that!”
She’s female, after all. But the fact is that it tastes wonderful and is so easy to grow that
you use it any time you want (or just chew on the leaves while you are gardening).

It does have a look of chocolate with brown-tinged leaves, but not everyone agrees that
it deserves the name. There is a controversy about the chocolate taste – is it real or not?
The general consensus among lovers of this herb is that it is definitely different from
other mints, with an underlying richness that works with a variety of recipes. According
to the Canadian nursery Richters, the herb has a striking ‘peppermint patty’ scent that
convinced them to stock it.

Try your local nursery, which can probably order it for you, or you can get it online.
When you do get your hands on one, you can stick it virtually anywhere in the garden,
because it is so hardy. It prefers cooler zones and afternoon shade but potting this plant
is best because it is also enthusiastically rampant, like most mints, and virtually
impossible to kill. Even a mint that tastes like chocolate can become a nuisance when it
invades every part of your garden.

The temptation to plunder the leaves will be strong from the fragrance alone, but let it
get some growth on before you start ripping them off. As soon as there is some decent
growth, start by trying chocolate mint tea. Just strip a few leaves, bruise them gently to
release the vital oils and drop them in a tea pot. Pour over hot water and steep for five
minutes – done! To make it even more delicious, add it to coffee for a mocha treat or
strain and add hot milk and marshmallows. You can dry the leaves like any other herb
and crumble them for flavoring cookies, cake or ice cream.

If you love chocolate liqueur, you can make your own by cramming chocolate mint
leaves into a large bottle and pour over enough vodka to fill it up. Leave in a cool dry
place for a month or two (the longer you leave it the more delicious it gets) then strain
and enjoy a sip on February 19 – that’s National Chocolate Mint Day and a great excuse
to celebrate!

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Your Best Bra Forward

Finding the right pieces to complete your wardrobe can be challenging, but bras seem to defy even the most skilled shopper. Bras that should technically fit have straps that dig in or cups that never seem to sit right. There are the lovely lacy bras, there are the comfortable supportive bras, and the two never seem to have much in common. And if you’re a bargain hunter, best of luck with sizing, as to whether you’re a 34B or a 44E, your size is likely to be sold out. But bra shopping need not be a constant misery. A look at the most common factors in poor bra selection should help you spot the cause of your bra shopping woes.

Made to Measure

When was the last time you were measured for a bra? If you have lost or gained weight, or recently begun an exercise program, you may be due for a fitting. Get measured at a lingerie shop, or if there’s not one near you, have a friend measure you. If you’re having a friend measure you, have them measure under your breasts and at the fullest point of your breasts when standing upright, bare-chested. For the best possible fit, your friend should measure the fullest point of your breasts when you are bent over at the waist and while you are laying flat on your back. Calculate the average of the three fullest point measurements to get a cup size that will fit you through a full range of motion.

In Your Cups

Your bra cups should contain all of your breast tissue. There should be nothing spilling over the sides. The straps should never dig in, and the band should never gape. The center gore between your breasts should always sit flat against your sternum. If all of these things are not present, try different sizes until you find a size that fits best. Many people find that they are a smaller band size and larger cup size than they imagined. For instance, some people go from 42C to 40DD.

Get In Where You Fit In

Buy bras in shops where the selection in your size is plentiful. It might seem cheap and convenient to try the bargain basement shops. But what you gain in a 25 percent off sale, you lose in hours trying to find a suitable size and decent selection. The smaller selection in larger sizes are quickly snapped up. Bra shops that cater to those with fuller bra sizes will have bras suitable for all occasions. When you shop at stores that cater to your needs, you can buy that halter top with the confidence that you’ll find a suitable bra to go under it.

There’s Hope

The average American bra size recently jumped from 34B to 34E, and the average American dress size is now 16. This may prompt retailers to offer a broader selection of bras in fuller sizes, making bra shopping less of a pain. But the most powerful weapon against the misery of bra shopping is you. Insist on the quality you deserve, and shop at retailers who respect that right. Get the support you need.

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