Friday, May 31, 2013

Chocolate Choices in Canterbury

I never used to have a sweet tooth, but in the past couple of years I have started to crave chocolate more and more often. Popping into the supermarket for a bar of Whittakers chocolate is always easy, but I decided to broaden my horizon and see what my city had to offer.

Theobroma Chocolate Lounge is a place I have admired from afar but never visited. This franchise has places all over NZ, Australia and Malaysia with plans to open in Saudi Arabia, the UK, Singapore and America.  The Lounge sells both gourmet chocolates and chocolate beverages, as well as doing a full menu.

I opted to try the Mint Hot Chocolate, as well as sampling a Whittakers Chocolate Macaron and a Mochachino Macaron. Lucas decided to have his standard fluffy and try the lolly cake as well, which was labelled as the Staff Pick.

The Mint Hot Chocolate came in a mug with a warmer, which was a novel idea- the mug sat on top of an extra ceramic dish with a candle inside to keep my hot chocolate hot. Not the best idea for kiddies but certainly appreciated by me! The mint wasn't too overpowering and the creaminess was amazing.

The Mocachino macaron was a lot harder than the chocolate one, which had a beautiful soft texture and melted in your mouth. However, I preferred the flavour of the Mocachino Macaron as I love coffee. At $5 for two, it was a yummy treat to have with my Hot Chocolate and a lot more indulgent than a muffin for the same price.

Lucas was kept busy eating with his Fluffy and Lolly Cake, although he only had half as it was a very generous slice. The fluffy came with two marshmallows and a drizzle of chocolate, enough to keep a three year old happy!

I also took home a selection of their most popular chocolates to sample. Lucas chose a Raspberry Chocolate Frog, and I chose (L-R clockwise from back) Raspberry Passion White Chocolate, Peppermint Dark Chocolate, Caramel Cream Milk Chocolate and Manuka Honey Milk Chocolate.

My husband and I both liked the texture of the Caramel chocolate, but ultimately the Manuka Honey won our taste test with it's smooth filling and yummy honey aftertaste. Lucas declared his chocolate frog to be "good" and you could really smell the raspberry in the chocolate, although I didn't get to taste it.

I really want to go back to the Lounge to try the Chocolate Fruit Fondue and a Chilli Chocolate Shot, as well as have another Hot Chocolate. Definitely an indulgent place to go if you need a chocolate fix!

Next up on my list is She Chocolat. This is such a beautiful destination out in Governors Bay, and a fantastic place to sample the hot chocolate menu available. They also do chocolates to take away, and I was tempted by their Autumn collection- plus the mandatory chocolate frog!

The Autumn collection consists of Marzipan, Coffee & Walnut, Liquorice & Blackcurrant, Marzipan & Rosewater and Rhubarb & Custard. The Rosewater & Marzipan was a bit too almondy for our tastes, but the Rhubarb and Custard chocolate got the thumbs up from both of us, with the Marzipan, Coffee and Walnut coming in as our second favourite.

It was a long wait for a hot chocolate on the day we arrived, so booking are recommended if you do not want to miss out. I ended up buying some of the Original Hot Chocolate Swirlers so that I could have the hot chocolate experience at home. The swirlers were a novelty, and I can see them being a great gift idea for those hard to buy for people. Simply stick the chocolate in your mug of boiling milk and swirl it around for a decadent hot chocolate.

I snuck my hot chocolate in while the boys were in the bath- oh my goodness I was in chocolate bliss. The chocolate is so smooth and creamy, and not watery like the hot chocolates I usually get. I followed the packet directions and enjoyed my indulgent moment of peace, with the leftover melted chocolate being slurped up at the end. It is a more expensive way to enjoy hot chocolate, but seriously worth a try for any chocolate lover as it is 100% more phenomenal than your run of the mill hot chocolate.

Finally- for those who want an experience further out of town, I recommend Bullrush Chocolates. Their chocolates are available in Christchurch as well as Ashburton, Geraldine, Gore, Taupo, Wanganui and Wellington. I was lucky enough to explore the Somerset Grocer in Ashburton, where you can purchase these chocolates, and it is a treasure trove of yummy local treats. I picked up a six pack of Bullrush Chocolates as well as three of the Caramel Chocolate Marshmallows, which were calling my name at the counter.

Look at how cute these are! I was impressed even before I tasted them.

Their Rhubarb and Kumara chocolate was surprisingly smooth and sweet, and the Chilli Chocolate jandals had just the right amount of kick for this chilli loving girl. The Raspberry and White chocolate was my favourite though, with the Salted Caramel coming in second place. The marshmallows were so decadent with silky caramel, the yummy soft centre and the outside chocolate crunch. For such a huge chocolate, they were a very reasonable price and a yummy treat with a hot chocolate on a gloomy day.

Overall, Canterbury has some amazing chocolates on offer, and I do hope you give one of them a try next time you need a gift idea or a chocolate treat for yourself.

Please note: These shops did not know I was featuring them on my blog. I paid for the chocolates and the opinions written here are 100% my own.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

DIY Chocolate and Green Tea Face Mask

Who says chocolate is just for eating? It has many antioxidant properties, and so it can actually be good for your skin! Green tea is also a great antioxidant, and here it is combined with dark chocolate to make a simple chocolate mask that can be enjoyed without the calories.

You will need:

100g of dark chocolate
2/3 cup whole milk
1 green tea teabag (I used green tea with Berry)
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler until melted. Chop off the top of the teabag and pour in the leaves, then mix in all the other ingredients and stir.

Let cool for a few minutes and then spread on to your face.

Leave the mask on for three minutes or until it starts to go hard, and then wipe off with a warm towel.

The tea leaves and brown sugar help to exfoliate your skin, leaving it feeling lovely and smooth.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway!

Linking up with Real Family Fun.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Coconut Rough Slice

Welcome back to Chocolate Week!

I use sweetened condensed milk in a lot of things, and seem to always have some left over. This recipe is a family favourite and uses up the last bit of condensed milk from the tin. It has a rich coconut and chocolate topping, making it the perfect slice with your mid-afternoon cup of tea or coffee.

You will need:
1 1 /2 cups plain flour
3 tablespoons cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup coconut
175g butter, melted

1 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup coconut
4 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a slice tin. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder into a bowl and stir in the sugar and coconut. Add the butter and mix to moist crumbs. Press this crumb base mixture into the prepared tin. Bake for twenty minutes then allow to cool.

To prepare the topping, sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl and stir in the melted butter, coconut, condensed milk and vanilla essence. Mix well. Spread over the base and refrigerate for two hours until firm then cut into pieces.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Spiced Chocolate Ripple Loaf and a giveaway

Baking is one of those things that relaxes me and makes me feel like I have something worthwhile to show for my efforts! When I saw the new Simply Heaven Chocolate book in my supermarket, I just had to have it. A few recipes in particular caught my eye, although all of the recipes seemed easy enough to create. One of them was this Spiced Chocolate Ripple Loaf.

I had fun making this recipe, and it looks so impressive for a minimal amount of effort! It was one of those recipes that looks good in the book, and is true to the photo. Mine was a near perfect match to the recipe book photo, which I was very happy about.

The loaf tasted very chocolatey, with a hint of the allspice shining through and a very pleasant texture. The chocolate pieces on top gave it an extra touch that was very indulgent and special. I can see me making this loaf again and again; my coffee group enjoyed it and so did my family.

Would you like to get your hands on a copy of this book?

I was lucky enough to get the very last copy of this book from my local supermarket, and I would love to give it to one of you as I already have a copy due to my love of chocolate :) Enter the below giveaway, which will finish at the end of Chocolate Week. This giveaway is open to anyone, and will be posted on Tuesday 4th June.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 27, 2013

B.M.W.B- Chocolate Foam

Welcome to the first post of Chocolate Week!

My son loves to pretend to cook, take part in science experiments and make a mess, so combining these three things together were his idea of ultimate fun. We have made Gooey Geysers before, but this one was slightly different as it is a chocolate foam that you can play with.

You need:

2 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 squirt dishwashing liquid
1 cup vinegar
a bowl to mix the ingredients in, and a shallow bowl underneath to catch the mess.

Mix the baking soda and cocoa powder together.

Add the dishwashing liquid- this creates supper bubbly foam but you can leave it out if you think your child may be tempted to eat the chocolate foam. I found that the smell put Lucas off trying any of the foam.

Then, add the vinegar and watch the chocolate foam bubble up!

The foam created a lovely chocolate lather, and Lucas had great fun exploring the texture with his hands and a spoon.

Lucas' imagination is so fun, he decided that he was baking a chocolate cake and spent at least half an hour pretending to mix the ingredients, put it in the oven, and then cut it into slices. It also became a birthday cake and I had to blow out the candles, and I even got some pretend wrapped up presents!


This is a great science experiment, and such fun for kids to create their own chocolate foam. Plus, this allows me to spend some time with Lucas and foster his creative and inquisitive sides.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Kicking off Chocolate Week!

I am super excited to be launching my Chocolate Week feature tomorrow. During the week I will be sharing some chocolate recipes, ways to use chocolate in toddler and pre-schooler play, reviews of boutique chocolates and restaurants, and a few other chocolatey goodies. Plus, there is a giveaway and some of my favourite food bloggers will also be sharing their favourite chocolate recipes.

See you tomorrow for my first Chocolate Week feature!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Prince Charming

Time has been getting away from me this week, and so I thought I would combine two challenges this week. The first challenge I have been meaning to enter is the Frosted Designs Black, White and one other colour challenge. And as usual, I love entering the CASology challenges!

The CASology cue word this week is:

I immediately thought of some crown embellishments I had, but when I went to find them, all I could find was the cut offs and chipboard negatives. Always thrifty, I decided to use the negative part of the crown chipboard. I inked it up in Not Quite Navy ink, and then cut around it to form my own chipboard embellishment.
I was sure I had a Prince Charming sticker somewhere as I am making this card for my husband, but ended up finding some other quotes. I am currently reading A Clash Of Kings (part of the Game of Thrones series) and this quote jumped out at me and reminded me of all the royal battles I have been reading about lately. So my card started going in a slightly different direction but I am still happy with the result!
The final piece of my card was adding the sentiment onto a banner, as banners are always a very Royal touch.

There you have it, a card for my very own Prince Charming.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mother's Day Q&A

I saw a list of questions over at Storybook Reality of things to ask your children about their Mum. I knew some of the answers would be great, so I decided to document Lucas' answers about me on a digital scrapbook page. Here is a three year old's perspective of me!

Q&A with Lucas about his Mum.

What is my name? Mum Moore.  

How old is Mum? 7, or maybe 11. 

What does Mum like to do? Do lots of things with me.   

What does Mum like to eat? Chocolate, nuts and raisins. And muesli bars. I suppose that's it.  

What does Mum like to drink?  Water. 

What is Mum's favourite colour? Pink.

 What is Mum's favourite toy? Bowling skittles. 

What does Mum like to wear? Dresses. 

What do we like to do together?  Lots.  

Mum's house is... (he said our address here so I have blanked it out!)

What makes Mum smile? Me.  

What makes Mum sad?  Me going "pppfff" (blowing a raspberry). 

I love Mum because... Just because I do. 

Mommy loves me because... Just because you do!

Monday, May 20, 2013

B.M.W.B- Love Languages

A lot of you may have heard about the Five Love Languages book written by Gary Chapman. The five love languages can be broken down in to:
  • Quality Time
  • Words Of Affirmation
  • Acts Of Service
  • Physical Touch
  • Gifts

I have never really thought about applying these to my children until I came across an article on how to love your child using the five Love Languages. I thought about this one for a while, and I am very sure that my three year old's language is Words of Affirmation. He always tells me he loves me and says the cutest things, and responds well to praise.

I really enjoyed reading the suggestions on how to use Words of Affirmation to show Lucas how much I love and appreciate him. Too often, my tone of voice can sound very exasperated and he picks up on this and gets frustrated. The tips I put into use were:
  • Telling him how proud I was of him for doing things well such as playing nicely with his brother, eating all of his dinner and sharing his toys.
  • Saying "I Love You" with eye contact.
  • Apologising when I do something wrong.
  • Taking more notice of my tone of voice when speaking.
I have found these four things have greatly impacted on how I speak to Lucas. I tell my boys I love them every day, but changing my tone of voice when I am angry or asking Lucas to do something has really helped him to understand how I feel.

Adam was a bit harder to figure out since he was so young, but he loves to be cuddled and held so I decided to use the tips on loving him through Physical Touch. The ways I did this were:
  • Cuddling him when reading a book
  • Lots of hugs
  • Pats on the back
This was a lot easier, as who doesn't want to hug a a baby! Also, my Love Language is touch, so hugging and cuddling are how I express love anyway. Lucas also responded well to lots of cuddles during storytime, and hugs always make everyone feel better.

I also want to focus on Quality Time with both of my boys, as I feel that this Love Language is the secondary language for them. So far I have:
  • taken Lucas on a hot chocolate date
  • let Lucas help me cook
  • Played games with Lucas
  • Taken Lucas with me when running errands
Too often, my time is spent multitasking, and focusing all of my attention on Lucas when Adam is asleep has been a great way for both of us to connect again. I also spend a lot of time just with Adam due to his age and the fact that I am usually the one settling him! Reading books to him or just talking to him without looking at my phone or watching TV at the same time have made me realise how special it is to be a mother and how lucky I am.

I really urge you to read this article, it has made me realise that how I express my love isn't necessarily how my sons want to be loved. Using these tips, I can have some ways of showing them how much I love them without just saying it.

Linking up with Becoming the Mama I Want to Be.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Jam Sandwich biscuits

My son and I really love to bake together, and finding recipes that are easy enough for his little fingers can be challenging but fun at the same time. He is such a fan of jam on toast, so these biscuits got the big thumbs up from him!

Jam Sandwich Biscuits

You will need:

200g butter, softened
3/4 cup icing sugar
1 cup plain flour
1 cup cornflour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Your favourite jam

Cream butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy.

Sift flour, cornflour and baking powder together and mix into creamed mixture. Roll dough the size of small balls and place on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Flatten slightly with a fork.

Bake at 180 degrees C for 20 minutes or until cooked.

Lucas was pretty happy to get to lick the beater!

Cool the biscuits and then sandwich them together with jam.

These are yummy served with whipped cream as a dessert, or simply eaten on their own.

Linking up with Real Family Fun!

Woodgrain Birthday Card

It was my brother in law's birthday yesterday and so I made him this masculine card to go with his present. It corresponded nicely with this week's challenge at Just Add Ink with the challenge to Just Add...Woodgrain.

This background stamp has been in my stash for a while and never used, so I decided to finally ink it up as it reminded me of an old wooden shed. I also embossed the Crumb Cake sentiment accent using the Woodgrain Folder to add some texture to the card. I experimented with a few different colour combinations and finally decided on the red and brown combo.

I am really pleased with the rustic effect of the background, and plan on using this stamp a lot more in the future!

Supplies used:
Stampin' Up: Tool Shed background stamp, Teeny Tiny Sentiments stamp set, Woodgrain embossing folder, Riding Hood Red, Soft Suede and Crumb Cake cardstock, Early Espresso ink, Curly Label, Petite Curly Label and Modern Label punches.
Creative Memories: Tape Runner, Foam Squares.
Provocraft: Cuttlebug.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Seize The Birthday #16

It is my sister in law's birthday today (Happy Birthday!) and so I made her a card just in time for the Seize The Birthday sketch challenge this week.

I haven't had a chance to use my cupcake punch yet, so this was a perfect reason to break it out of the packaging! A few stamped embellishments and some paper ribbon and vellum made this card easy to work in with the sketch, and I found the fun balloon vellum paper in my stash, which worked perfectly.


I hope my sister in law likes it, cupcakes are fun for any birthday!

Supplies used:
Creative Memories: Pink cardstock, Carrot cardstock, Purple cardstock, Tape Runner, Vellum Paper, Simply Beautiful Paper Ribbon, Green Apple cardstock, Foam Squares, Chalking Inks, Shape Maker system with 2" Circle punch.
Stampin Up: Cupcakes wheel, Lucky Limeade, Elegant Eggplant and Tangerine Tango inks, Create a Cupcake punch and stamp set.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Merry Monday Card

I haven't played with Merry Monday for a while, but this week their sketch was too nice not to create with! I wanted a nice big stamped image, and my Star Tree stamp hasn't been used for a while, so I was pleased to be able to ink it up and create this card.

Very quick and easy to put together, with a nice touch of bling! On the left hand side of the white piece you can see the slight touch of blue polka dot design within the paper, which I thought gave it a wintery, Christmasy touch as well.

Supplies used:
Kaisercraft: Blae and Ivy paper
Stampin' Up: Star Tree stamp, Red Glitter paper, Garden Green cardstock, Gumball Green, Red Riding Hood, Soft Suede and Summer Starfruit inks, Many Merry Messages stamp set.

Monday, May 6, 2013

B.M.W.B- Screen Free week

Too often, the TV is my go to activity when I need my three year old to be quiet or out of the way for half an hour. I know a lot of parents struggle with this and I feel guilty on an almost daily basis for allowing my son to watch TV.

That is why I have decided that this week will be Screen Free Week. This was planned last week on a whole lot of blogs, but as usual, I am late to the party! On the plus side, there are so many valuable hints and resources now available at my fingertips.

You can download your own screen-free printable pack here!

So here is my plan for the week to make Screen Free Week fun and family orientated for my children.

Make Something Monday: Monday's weather doesn't look great so keeping the boys entertained inside could be fun. I plan on making this Car Garage with Lucas' help so that we have somewhere to park all of his toy cars. It will help me use up some of the toilet rolls I have been hoarding too! Then we might include Adam in making some music if we need some more distraction, although I am hoping that the garage will keep Lucas entertained for a while.

Time To Learn Tuesday: I plan to take the boys to the Discovery Centre at the Canterbury Museum. We also have Musical Tots to go to, so this should full up the day nicely.

What's Cooking Wednesday: I have promised my sister I would bake for her today for a fundraiser. Lucas and I will make my Coconut, Apricot and White Chocolate Slice and my Coffee Balls. Then for dinner, Lucas will help me make Octopus Hot Dogs and we will serve them with corn on the cob and tomato salsa. Adam likes to play with the measuring cups and bowls while we are cooking.

That's Easy Thursday: (anything fun and easy since Lucas has preschool in the morning) Based on this idea, I will give Lucas some PlayDoh and alphabet cookie cutters and let him explore the alphabet. He is pretty good with the letters, only stumbling on J and I, but Play Doh is always a hit. We might even make our own if I am feeling adventurous, as I have heard it is easy to make but I have never tried it. Adam is a bit too young for Play Doh but he can have fun with the cookie cutters by exploring the different shapes.

Family Friday: I love the idea of a Carpet Picnic. We have done this activity before but only for lunch and never with Dad. Lucas usually has preschool on a Friday afternoon so I can make up some fun picnic finger food and then we can sit in the living room on our picnic rug, which may end up as a fort.

Father and Son Saturday: I am out at a scrapbooking workshop so I asked Lucas and Malcolm to think of things they could do together. They haven't decided on what to do yet but Malcolm knows that screen time is not an option.

Steam Train Sunday- The Halswell Miniature Trains run each Sunday from 1-4pm. They have an amazing track, and what little boy doesn't like riding a train? There is also a great playground and you can feed the ducks. I also think that Lucas and Malcolm will be making me breakfast in bed for Mother's Day, or they may have something else special planned!

I have also printed out the screen free activity cards so that if Lucas complains of being bored, he can choose from activities such as blow bubbles, play with toys or paint a picture.

I will try to include Adam, the nine month old, in these too although he doesn't watch TV anyway. But it always nice to have activities that everyone can do together. And I have also planned some activities for him as above and will do some fun things with him when Lucas is at preschool.

I am really keen to try do a schedule like this on a regular basis. It would benefit my husband to make time to play with our children, and we could have different Sunday themes such as Slime Sunday, Science Sunday, Soccer Sunday, Spick and Span Sunday (great excuse to let the kids help clean the car or windows!)- can you think of any other Sunday options? Maybe have a theme each week too such as dinosaurs, transportation or winter.'

I am also limiting my screen time- after this post I will not be online again until the kids are in bed each night. I need to make more of an effort to actively engage with them, as that is the type of Mum I want to be.

Create Hope Inspire

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Making a Gooey Geyser

Trying to find fun ways to fill in the week are always tough when you have an inquisitive toddler, and even more so when it is raining!

One of Lucas' Dora The Explorer books talks about a Gooey Geyser, so I thought we could make our own from household items and ingredients.

We put a spoonful of sugar and 1/4 cup baking soda in a clean jar, added some red food colouring and mixed it around a bit. Put the jar in a larger shallow bowl to contain any spills.

Add 1/4 cup vinegar and watch the geyser erupt!

Watching Lucas' face was such a special moment, and of course he insisted on making the geyser erupt multiple times. If your children are anything like mine, you may want to have extra vinegar on hand to recreate the eruption over and over again.

Linking up with Real Family Fun!

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