Luxury Chocolate Workshop with Red Letter Days – Review

*****Warning – this post contains the word ‘chocolate’*****

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A couple of weeks ago I was invited along to a chocolate making and tasting workshop by Red Letter Days at My Chocolate. The event was being held at My Chocolate Shoreditch, London. Although, they do have other venues available in London, Brighton and Manchester.

The workshop was ran by two chocolate connoisseurs, one who did all of the demonstrating and one who was preparing the chocolate and utensils for us chocoholics to use on our chocolate making.

I arrived fashionably late due to travel problems, so when by the time I had arrived they were already 20 minutes into the first part of the evening, which was preparing your very own indulgent chocolate martini. I was greeted at the door and was directed to the sink where I washed my hands first and then shown to a table where a few of the other attendees had already began creating the martinis. I believe that were shown a technique called ‘wagging the tail’ where they used a spoon to drizzle melted chocolate over the martini glass to decorate it before mixing up the chocolate vodka in a shaker.

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It tastes as nice as it looked. Very much like Irish Cream. They were creamy, rich and one could definitely drink one after another. What a treat! Very much-needed after the train journey I had just encountered. The smell of indulgent chocolate wafted around the room

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Whilst we gulped sipped at our chocolate cocktails, we all stood around the demonstration desk and watched how to make our very own oil infused large chocolate button.

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We was guided on how to place the chocolate onto the paper and how to infuse it with flavoured oil.  The chocolatiers made a huge milk chocolate heart decorated with dark chocolate, using the ‘wagging the tail’ technique again and then using the other end of the spoon to create a marble effect. The expert made it look so easy!

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Back to the tables we went, ready to create our own masterpiece. I chose to make a four-leaf clover and infused it with lemongrass oil. The oil is very strong and only a couple of drops is needed to add the taste to the chocolate. It was very hard, but I resisted, not to lick the spoon, as we was going to be using them again to do the marbling

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I chose dark chocolate, as that is my favourite – the darker the better! The marbling wasn’t as easy as it looked. I think my finished button looked a bit like a toddlers drawing rather than an exquisite chocolate, it was definitely authentic and handmade.

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By now, the only evidence of our chocolate vodkas was the empty glasses on the table. They were soon replaced with a glass of prosecco.

Once we had made our chocolate slab, we was ready to move on to the next part of the workshop, Truffle making. Now I have attempted to make truffles at home before as presents for the children’s teachers and they were a nightmare to make, I had cocoa all over me. So, I was looking forward to this part of the workshop to find out where I went wrong.

We was shown how to make them first by the expert chocolatiers and a helper from the other attendees and then we was sent back to our tables. For this part of the workshop we had to get into pairs.

Firstly you mix the chocolate with double cream, stirring it quite rigorously until it starts to set and become thicker – this is your Ganache. Then you place it into a piping bag ready to pipe out little chocolate slugs or wizard hats on the parchment paper. Once all of the ganache has finished, you wait for them harden.

This part of the workshop brought lots of giggles to the table as we quickly became aware that out little chocolate ganache slugs looked more like little emoji poops. Although, It didn’t matter what they looked like at this point as they were soon to be moulded into truffles.

Once we got the hang of how to hold and pipe the bag, it was quite easy.

And once they were all done, our glasses got topped up by the very nice lady at My Chocolate with Yet more prosecco

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The evening was definitely activating our tastes buds – chocolate and booze!

The chocolatiers tutor was what really made the experience enjoyable, she was fun, humorous, interactive and full of chocolate knowledge.

Whilst we waited for the Ganache to set we was treated to a talk about the history of chocolate and how it is made. We also got to taste 90% chocolate. We was tested on our taste bud knowledge of recognising dark or milk chocolate and taught on how to feel and smell the quality of a chocolate. High quality chocolate should smell strongly of chocolate and the texture should not be gritty or waxy.

The sound that your chocolate makes when snapped is a good indication of the quality of it. Good chocolate has a clean, crisp, sharp snap when broken and milk chocolate tends to bend, because it contains more sugar and milk

After our little fun lesson in chocolate it was time to get dirty with the truffle making. On the tables was a selection of topping to decorate our truffles with; honeycomb, cocoa powder, coconut, salt, raspberry swirls, white chocolate swirls and berry dust.

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This was definitely the time to get creative, release the chocolate demon in you and dig in. First we rolled our ganache into a ball, then coated them in some cacao powder and then dipped them into more chocolate. Before they set I added some of the toppings. Some of our ganaches were a little on the small side so I added two together and at the same time pressed in some raspberry dust and salt into the middle as a surprise when bitten into.

We made quite a mess of our table

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But it was most definitely a sign of a good time. I really enjoyed the whole evening. We got to wrap up our chocolate creations in some cellophane and ribbon to take home. My chocolate goodies didn’t last long once I arrived home as they were eaten by all in the house. the chocolates were mouth-watering and tastes as good as they smelled

The whole experience lasts for about 2 1/2 hours . It’s a great gift for someone who loves chocolate or even as a hen party. I may add that we did not prepare the chocolate- temper it, as that process takes a while. We did the decorating and producing of the truffles, buttons and martini.

Currently priced at £98 for two people on Red Letter Days Website

I was invited along for the purpose of this post, no payment has been received

 

 

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Keeping the Children Busy with Rock Painting Activity

Summer holidays are well and truly here but in Great British style the weather is not! The hot summer days seem to be over now and we are left with windy, rainy days instead. Weather like this makes it hard for us parents to keep the children entertained outdoors, especially when it comes to keeping the budget at a low cost.

Since the children have finished school for the summer we have had pretty crap weather, I don’t want to keep the children indoors (otherwise my house looks like a bomb site) I want to see them outdoors enjoying the time that they have off school, playing with friends and making new ones.

I came across a Facebook page called ‘Love on the rocks uk’. It’s a page where people paint on rocks then hide them for others to find. All they ask of you is to get creative as you want with a rock and some paints and then write on the back “love on the rocks” with the Facebook symbol then hide the rock within your community; a park, forest or a beach promenade. Take a photo of it and share it on Facebook for other rock hunters to find it. Once found, the hope is that people will look up the Facebook page and join in with the fun.

This activity is cheap and fun. Not only are you getting creative but also getting out and about in the great outdoors.

We visited Hanningfield Reservoir in Essex for the Wind in the Willows Trail and whilst we was there we found some rocks to paint on. We took some felt tip pens and sharpies with us. Found a quite spot to sit down at and got drawing

That’s what is great about this activity it keeps the children busy, it’s fun and they get to explore at the same time.

The eldest drew a sunset onto his rock, using tippex for the shadow on the sea

Our little collection of love on the rocks

We found a few spots in Hanningfield to hide them and left them feeling very happy with ourselves, that maybe we can put a smile onto someones face.

Would love to see the face of the child/adult that finds these rocks. They’re not a work of art but they are fun

A shadow of a cat sat in front of a sunset
A shadow of a cat sat in front of a sunset
Love on the rocks written on the back

Why not join in on the fun. Wouldn’t it be fun to spread the love of rocks further afield. I am thinking of hiding some abroad

 

 

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Fruit Shoot Mini Mudder Event comes to Holmbush Estate

Does a little adventure filled with obstacles and Mud sound like Fun?

Tough Mudder invites you to the season ending event at the new venue of Holmbush Estate  to tackle overgrown woodlands, gruelling trails and gritty mud with an event to test the hardiest of Mudders

Tough Mudder is a team-oriented 10-12 mile (18-20 km) obstacle course challenge designed not only to test physical strength but also mental grit. With an innovative course that has inspired more than two and a half million participants worldwide, Tough Mudder is the premier adventure challenge series in the world. In 2016, Tough Mudder events across the UK and around the world feature new and world class obstacles. More than 95% of participants are expected to register as part of a team; to encourage teamwork and camaraderie over competition, the events remain untimed.

An outdoor event for the whole family. Enjoy cheering each other on and be a part of a fabulous event. Making memories as a family.

What’s New for 2016?

  • Tough Mudder Half: Debuting in 2016 is the newest addition to the Tough Mudder family of brands, Tough Mudder Half, a five-mile event format featuring over a dozen signature obstacles – but excluding the fire, ice and electricity elements of the original Tough Mudder events. Debuting at six locations across the UK this season, this new team-oriented event requires less training, making it an accessible yet rewarding challenge for people of all athletic abilities.
  • Brand new obstacles: Participants at the Tough Mudder London South event will take on new obstacles, including “The Block Ness Monster”, where Mudders have to hoist each other over a number of rotating blocks all in waist-deep water. The event will also debut the revamped Pyramid Scheme, back by popular demand, which requires teamwork from friends and strangers, as a human pyramid is the only way up.
  • Legionnaire-Exclusive obstacles: Returning Mudders, known as Legionnaires, get exclusive access to more challenging new upgrades of selected obstacles, including “Rain Man,” a twist on classic water obstacle Cage Crawl, and “Backstabber,” a more demanding and technical version of The Liberator. In addition, Legionnaires will have the option to bypass Electroshock Therapy and instead attempt a high-octane new finish obstacle, Frequent Flyers’ Club, culminating with a leap onto a crash mat from a 15-foot height.
  • Merrell finisher shirts: As global presenting partner for Tough Mudder and Tough Mudder Half events, renowned outdoor footwear and apparel brand Merrell will provide performance finisher t-shirts for all participants.
  • Additionally, all UK events will once again host Fruit Shoot Mini Mudder, a one-mile obstacle course jointly developed by Tough Mudder and Fruit Shoot, the delicious fruit soft drinks brand owned by Britvic PLC. Designed for ages 7-12, Mini Mudder gives kids the opportunity to get muddy, work as a team and experience the thrill of adventure.

To Register:

  • Sign up Those interested in registering for London South and future events before they sell out can check out ToughMudder.co.uk to sign up. Spectator passes and Fruit Shoot Mini Mudder entries are also available for purchase.
  • Do it together 90% of people take part as a team, so get your mates signed up now. There are also corporate event packages for companies and larger organisations.
  • See it for yourself Media participant and spectator passes are available for individuals and teams who wish to experience the event first-hand. Please email mediarequests_uk@toughmudder.com.

Are you ready to get muddy?


 

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Three things to do in Autumn

We love Autumn! The crispness of the leaves under our feet, the Autumn sun beaming down on through the undraped trees. Nothing is better than a walk in a country park or a forest on a cool crisp afternoon.

We have teamed up with 9 other bloggers and Forest Holidays to bring you our top three things to do in Autumn, 30 Days of Autumn project. There are lots of fun things to do in Autumn, take a read of our 30 days of Autumn checklist  you may find something new and exciting to do yourselves.

Here are three of our top ideas on what to do in Autumn:

1. Leaf fun

Why not take a walk in a country park and search for the biggest pile of leaves for some leaf crunching fun.

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My boys love to jump in the leaves and listen to the crunching sound that they make, even better is to have an Autumn leaf fight

Just watching the boys run around, breathing in the fresh air and enjoying some outside fun is priceless, although be careful as to where you are picking up the leaves as some animals like to mark their territory!

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leaf fight

Why not collect some of the leaves and take them home to recreate an Autumn picture.

2. Leaf rubbing

This activity is ideal if the weather is slightly wet outside, my boys love to do leaf rubbing/etching.

All you will need is some leaves that you have collected, try and select a different range of sizes and shapes and some crayons/colouring pencils and of coarse some paper.

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Leaves with texture and features are best.
We like to pick a similar colour to the leaf to use for the rubbing. Place the leaf under the paper (veins upwards) and holing the crayon at an angle (close to the paper) using a little pressure rub the crayon over the paper. You will see the leaf print start to appear, just like a drawing.

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rubbingTry not to use a leaf that is crunchy/old as it will make it more difficult to do the leaf rubbing as you will need the leaf to lay flat under the paper.
Why not do a leaf rubbing with autumn colours, red orange and yellow.

3. Autumn Art – Pine Cone Frame

Children love to hunt and what better way to do it is to visit the park and search for some Autumn items.

After a lovely day playing in the park the boys went off in search of some sticks and some pine cones to take home with them so we could make some Autumn art. We had seen a picture somewhere on the internet of a frame made out of sticks. The boys thought that this would be a great Autumn craft to make.

You will need:

  • Some sticks of similar sizes
  • string
  • pine cones of different sizes
  • Strong glue
  • nylon clear invisible sewing thread
  • scissors

Instructions:

Gather the sticks together, cut down any to make similar sizes

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Tie the corners together with the string and reinforce  with some glue. Trim down any string that is hanging loose.

Tie corners with string
Tie corners with string
corner close up
corner close up

Leave to dry for about an hour.

Carefully tie some of the invisible string around the top of the pine cones, once secure measure how long you want the pine cone to hang and then tie the other end of the thread on to the top sticks

attaching the pine cones
attaching the pine cones

Once finished hang up on the wall for everyone to see

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finished frame

Why not try and do a frame with different artefacts found from your autumn walk, like leaves or helicopters from Maple trees. You could also spray your frame or paint it a different colour but we like it the natural way.

Take a look at Forest Holidays 30 Days of Autumn project web page, where you will find all of the fun ideas and suggestions that other bloggers have shared about what you can get up to in Autumn.

Thank you for reading. This post is our entry into the 30 days of autumn competition

N.B please excuse our photos of the leaf rubbing we have done this activity whilst abroad on holiday

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Outdoor fun: outdoor gyms and hunting for eggs

Family time is precious and it’s even better when we are visiting Nanny

For the past couple of days the boys and I have been staying at nanny’s house, nanny doesn’t live too close to us so when it’s half term we like to spend our time visiting her.

Our first day we went for a lovely walk in a local nature reserve

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The boys loved running around and making the most of the space by having races against each other

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After a long walk around the marshes we found an outdoor gym just next to the play area

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We all had a go on all of the equipment making sure that we read all the instructions first. Oliver loved the cross trainer, his little legs just about reached and he found it easier to go backwards than forwards but it didn’t stop him from trying it

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Even Nanny had a go on one

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This machine was quite good and you could really feel it working around your hips.

Outdoor gyms are a fabulous way of all the family keeping fit together whilst out in the open air.

Today we went to another local park but didn’t manage to stay long as the eldest didn’t feel very well but I still managed to grab a couple of photos of the boys playing pirates on the wooden ship

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Oliver like the spinning wheel, he has a thing for numbers and loves to point out ones that he recognises, he was spinning the wheel and telling me what number the triangle was landing on each time

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Joseph is a bit of a climber and will try and climb anything, he loves to show me too

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Once we returned back to Nanny’s house it was time for the boys to go out into the garden and search for the eggs that Nanny and I had hidden for them to find.

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They had a lovely time searching high and low for the eggs and web managed to find some that we hidden within the trees and shrubbery.

I loved watching them running around laughing and shouting out to each other that they had found one, big brother even helped the little one with pointing out some for him to pick up.

We have had a lovely couple of days outside in the fresh air, I’m linking this post up with Coombemill Countrykids

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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