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If you have talent, now's the time to use it. If you can write, paint or cook you might be a winner. Even if you don't feel like entering one of the contests, you can still participate by reading other people's stories, judging artwork or trying a recipe. Read on...

Whenever you need cheering up you bake bread. Your first stop on vacation is the local grocery store. You once used chocolate syrup instead of maple syrup on pancakes and now it's your family tradition. You may have seen Culinary Confessions, now check out Confessions of a Foodie, a contest sponsored by Copia. Submit your story in text, audio or video and you could win one of several fabulous prizes including a stay at a Napa spa or shopping spree at Copia's shop. Deadline is July 31st. If you don't feel like confessing you can also check out the Foodie File to see what others have shared.

Sweet Riot chocolate covered cocoa nibs are a good way to get your chocolate on. Chocolate is that antioxidant-laden substance that also happens to taste great. The chocolate comes in 50, 65 or 70 flavors, corresponding to the percentage of cocoa, 70 is 70% dark chocolate, etc. Packaged in nifty tins, the package can be reused or sent back to the company to be recycled.

In addition to the addictive nature of the product, Sweet Riot acts as a platform for emerging artists. How so? Each package features original artwork for three to four months. The artist is chosen by customers. So far the art has been bold, cheery and colorful. You can vote on artwork to be featured or submit your artwork for consideration. The next deadline is September 15th. Sweet Riot is sold at the MoMA Design stores and Whole Foods . 1-ounce tins are $4.99.

It's finally Summer. You have watermelon and beer in the fridge. How about cooking with the beer instead of drinking it? If you have a great recipe that uses beer or think you can come up with one, perhaps you should consider the Cook With Beer Challenge. Beer is the only required ingredient and recipes may be submitted in any dish category. Grand prize is a trip for two to a resort in Mexico. You can enter by mail, fax, email or online, but the deadline is July 31st. The contest sponsor has offered up some recipes using beer to get you inspired.


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