*****Warning – this post contains the word ‘chocolate’*****
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.
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
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.
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!
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
We love a bit of Disney in our household, especially after our recent visit to EuroDisney. The boys have a newfound love for it and are enjoying it even more. They are spending more of an interest in Disney films and the characters; from the old ones to the new.
Disney isn’t just all about tiaras and marrying princes there are also many of the old classics like Lion King, Bambi and Pinocchio – also not forgetting the high-speed, blazing fast racers of Cars.
One of the latest Disney films to be released on 14th July, 2017 is Cars 3. The legendary Lightening Mcqueen strikes again and finds himself out of the game when a next gen- racer Jackson Storm hits the Piston Cup. Hoping to get back in the game, Lightening seeks the help of a young technician Cruz Ramirez.
Disney have announced an exciting new product collection that will bring the high-speed action of the highly anticipated Disney•Pixar film Cars 3 to households nationwide.
The boys already have the previous DVDs of Cars and a few of the franchises to play with. So they were all revved up when they were sent some of the latest products to review.
Jackson Storm Remote Control Car RRP £17.99 (disney store)
Lightening McQueen Speed Launcher By LEGO Juniors RRP £7.99 (disney store)
Cars 3 Drinks Bottle RRP £6.99 (disney store)
Cars 3 Book of the Film By Parragon RRP £5.99 (asda)
Lightening McQueen LEGO Launcher – The youngest couldn’t wait to get stuck in and as his older brother – who absolutely loves LEGO – was away he took the chance to start with the speed launcher. He doesn’t normally show an interest, as much as his brother, for Lego but he was really excited to build the car. The sets are ideal for children aged 5-7
It was easy to build – just as the box says with simple to follow instructions. He started with the car first and then on to the launcher.
The instructions are picture related, so he found them easy to follow and keep up with. Each page showing you what pieces were needed for that particular part.
Whats great about this set is that it is a usable toy after it is built. The wheels turn and the launcher actually works. It doesn’t launch the car very far but it is still fun to build and play with. It also gives the children a sense of achievement and pride, having built something by themselves. He would normally take sets apart once he had built them but this one has stayed by his bedside and is being used every day. He was very proud of himself for putting it together.
Jackson Storm Remote Control Car – Get the feel of what it’s like to race in the Piston Cup with this remote control car. It may be small but it is very powerful. The car is a designed in detail with some impressive artwork and comes with a steering-wheel controller. The controller is easy to use; it drives forward and backwards, steers left and right. It is the perfect size for little hands and simple to use
Any child that loves Cars would fall in love with this little beauty. It is rear wheel driven and very responsive. It is turned on by using the middle button on the centre of the wheel control. We found that If it is not used for a while it tends to turn it self off and all you have to do is press the button again to get it working.
The design is sleek and very eye-catching, It is a solid and sturdy car. We took it to the garden to see how well it would drive over the patio (excuse the weeds)
The boys have had so much fun with this car. I do believe that there are more to collect, so you could hold your own Piston Cup and see who could be the winner.
Cars 3 Drinks Bottle – These drinks bottles are ideal for little racers to keep hydrated, with detailed artwork of Lightening McQueen and Jackson Storm, they are bright to look at and perfect for pack lunches. They have a rubber tyre detail around the bottom of the bottle giving little hands that extra grip when drinking from the bottle, but also keeps them sturdy when placed on to the table.
The lid also has the tyre detail with a button to open it. Once the lid flips open it has a flexible straw hidden within.
The bottle holds 12oz and is only designed for cold drinks only. They are easy to come apart to wash and store well in the cupboard. The size of the bottle also makes them perfect to fit into lunch bags.
I found that with the fun designs the boys were asking for their bottles to be filled up more than normal, they make drinking cool!
Cars 3 Book of the Film – This 144 page paper-back book with an 8 page full colour insert is excellent for any budding reader. Once you have watched the film you can relive it again and again in this book.
‘When the legendary Lightening Mcqueen is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves by a new generation of blazing racers, he needs to get back in the game, and FAST! Can #95 prove that he isn’t out of the game yet? The next Piston Cup will test the heart of a champion on racing’s biggest stage!’
With seven Piston Cups wins under his belt and an undying passion for motor sport, can Mcqueen ride carry on riding high with the new generation of blazing racers?
There are many new characters in this new book, including Jackson Storm and Cruz Ramirez.
I have been trying to encourage my youngest away from books that have more picture than text and this book certainly meets that criteria. Apart from the 8 page full colour insert there are no more illustrations throughout the book. This means that he can concentrate on the story without being distracted by the pictures. Although the illustrations that are in the book are very colourful and good, which does help with the imagination.
He is really enjoying reading the book and it is keeping him engaged.
The book is ideal for young readers who are developing their reading skills.
These Cars 3 products have helped the children carry on with their newfound love of Disney. We are carrying on the magic at home.
We was sent these products for the purpose of this review
In a world where babies run everything, little rockers rebel against nap time and teacher’s pets become class presidents. In this world, all work is play and it’s all a bit outrageous!
Welcome to L.O.L Surprise
After taking the US by storm, L.O.L Surprise!™ is set to be the next collectable craze in the UK, as the ultimate unboxing toy is combined with the anticipation of surprise. Much like unwrapping a gift, watch the excitement build as each of the 7 layers reveal a different surprise, including emoji sticker, accessory, and finally their hero – a L.O.L Surprise!™ Doll. Never a dull outfit day for these fierce dolls, mix and match accessories with each character to work out who wears it best.
Not your average dolls, these fashion-forward characters are packed with personality. From Rockers to Merbabies, each L.O.L Surprise!™ comes complete with bathtub, doll stand and hangout, all doubling up as a purse.
Now here comes the surprise. Once the final layer has been unwrapped, feed the doll water with its baby bottle accessory and reveal its feature – with special dolls changing colour when placed in cold water! With over 45 to collect, there has never been a more exciting time start collecting the ultimate unboxing experience that offers a different surprise with each layer!
We was sent an L.O.L doll to review, having boys I didn’t think they would be too interested – unlike myself. I wanted to see how special these little adorable tots really are.
My youngest got very excited when he saw the little ball and when I told him that there was a surprise doll inside it didn’t seem to phase him one bit. He was even more eager to unwrap the ball to find out what was inside. He absolutely loves unboxing little collectible characters and the surprise factor involved in doing it.
As promised there are 7 layers to unwrap and reveal different surprises
- 1st Layer: Secret message
- 2nd Layer: Emoji stickers
- 3rd Layer: Baby bottle
- 4th Layer: Pair of shoes
- 5th Layer: Awesome outfit
- 6th Layer: Fashionable accessory
- And Finally the 7th Layer: L.O.L. Surprise!™ 3-inch doll— the ultimate surprise!
As you can see from the video; He was very excited to keep peeling away and it kept him engaged the whole time, eager to get to the next surprise.
The character and accessories are of good quality, not what I was expecting at all. It’s a fun little gift that will keep the children entertained for quite a while. And, even better that they get to carry it around in the ball that transforms into a purse.
The dolls are priced from £7.99 a little pricey but you do get a lot with that money. I can see it becoming a little disappointing if you unwrap the same doll more than once but they can always be swapped with a friend.
L.O.L. Surprise!™ Series 1 is for children aged 3+ and available from all good toy retailers including Argos, Asda, The Entertainer, Smyths, Tesco and ToyrsRUs.
We was sent a L.O.L surprise doll for the purpose of this review
World Book Day is closely upon us and it’s time to start thinking about what costume your children will be wearing on the day. My boys normally like to make up a costume from clothes that they find from in their wardrobe but this year my middle boy has requested a rather different costume. Which was perfect as we have been challenged by Egmont publishing to create a Star Wars themed Costume for World Book Day.
Last year we made a last-minute costume by raiding the wardrobes, particularly looking for clothes that were in neutral colours and created Luke Skywalker. This costume has been used many times over the past year and didn’t cost us a penny.
This year, the boy has requested Yoda. This year I am prepared. I ordered some fleece material from Ebay and once it arrived I got out my sewing machine and stitched away.
You will need:
- Beige Fleece Material- mtr depending on how tall your child is. and the width of the material. We ordered a metre at 150cm wide
- Emerald Green Fleece Material – 1/2 mtr 150cm wide
- Brown long sleeve t-shirt
- Dark coloured trousers
- Sewing machine or needle and cotton to hand sew
- Green Facepaint
- White chalk or material pen
I found a pattern online from www.fleecefun.com that I adapted to fit my son. I used his dressing gown as a guide for the measurements and just adjusted the pattern where it needed it. The pattern can be printed out and stuck together to make one big one.
- Place the material down on the fold and put the pattern on the top. The back needs to be cut on the fold to create one piece and you need two pieces of the front. Use pins to keep it in place and draw around with your chalk. This is where I adjusted the pattern and moved it about to the length and width I wanted. Cut out the pieces. You will only have one back and two fronts
2. Place the two fronts down on to the back. Tack into place.
3. Stitch along the under arm and side seam and the sleeve to secure the front and back together. Turn inside out. You can finish off the edges with a hem but I just left ours as the material will not fray.
4. Cut out a long piece of the fleece for the belt.
Et Voila! You now have a jacket fit for a Yoda
Yoda Head and Ears:
I used an old wooly hat to draw around and to get the size of Yodas head.
- Lay the green fleece material down on the fold and place your ear pattern on top. Secure in place with pins. Draw around with chalk and cut out the pieces. You should have 4 ear pieces and two head pieces.
2. Stitch around the edge of the ears
3. Turn them inside out so that the seams are on the inside
4. Now you need to give the ears a shape by pinching in the straight edges and stitching in place
5. Place the ears on top of one of the hat pieces, facing inwards.
6. Place the other hat piece on top to form a sandwich. Secure all in place with pins
7. Stitch around the edge. Turn the right way round.
8. I stitched a band of fabric along the bottom of the hat as it didn’t quite fit my son’s head and we wanted it to be bigger
We found that the ears go a little lopsided like a dogs but this can be corrected with a little bit of starch or adding in some wadding when stitching the ears together.
The last thing we needed to do to finish off the costume was to paint his face green.
I painted his face green and then added on some lines to make him look a little older.
We was asked by Egmont Publishing to choose a Star Wars Character to dress up as on World Book day to celebrate the release of the new book The Cold. The book is due out in March and is the latest to be published in the series of Star Wars: Adventures in Wild Space books. Read about the first two that were released last year here
‘The Adventures in Wild Space takes place in the period betweenStar Wars: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: A New Hope. Star Wars fans can meet a whole host of new characters, including a new droid, CR-8R, and a new villain, Captain Korda. It follows the Graf family Mum, Dad, Daughter and Son whilst they tour wild space as galactic mappers.
It is a time of darkness. With the end of the Clone Wars and the destruction of the Jedi Order, the evil Emperor Palpatine rules the galaxy unopposed. After their parents were kidnapped by the ruthless Imperial Captain Korda, young explorers Lino and Milo Graf set out to find them’
The Cold is the fifth in the series of the exciting junior novels written by Cavan Scott. Siblings Milo and Lina have picked up the trail of their kidnapped parents – but an ambush in the depths of Wild Space leaves them stranded on a desolate planet. With an old enemy out for revenge can they survive THE COLD?
The series is ideal for any young Star Wars fan out there. My boys are aged 9 and 5, both have really enjoyed reading the books. They are full of adventure, action packed and fun to read.
I find these Star Wars books are always good for those reluctant readers as they are so gripping and adult like but simple enough for children to understand and read. The illustrations are in black and white and simple but just right for the books.
The books in the series are ideal for children from the age of 8. Although, my son is 5 and he enjoyed reading them, just occasionally asking for help on a few words and for explanations on what some of the words meant. The characters are fun and make the stories exciting. The books are quite short which helps keep the child’s attention and with few illustrations they are ideal for those readers that are moving away from stories that are highly illustrated. They help children make predictions about the future content without looking at the pictures to help them.
Egmont are offering one of my readers the chance to win a full set of Star Wars: Adventures in Wild Space books
The Cold http://amzn.to/2jUCPFv
The Dark http://amzn.to/2kjmKMW
The Steal http://amzn.to/2kjmKMW
The Nest http://amzn.to/2kjtnyK
The Snare http://amzn.to/2jUQewX
All book available to buy from Amazon on the links above
To be in with a chance enter via the rafflecopter below. Competition ends 19/03/2017
Looking for more Star Wars Fancy Dress inspiration for World Book Day Take a look at Princess Leia by We Made This, R2D2 by ET Speaks From Home, Hans Solo by A Strong Coffee and a Storm Trooper by Ickles Pickles.
Phantom Boy is a highly anticipated new film from the Academy Award-nominated writers and directors of A Cat In Paris is a stylish noir caper, set in the shadowy streets and alleyways of New York.
A touching story of an 11 year old boy, Leo who discovers he has a special power that he uses to help lieutenant Tanner fight a very dangerous villain,The Face.
Leo has a secret. A mysterious illness has transformed into a phantom boy, able to leave his body and explore the city as a ghostly apparition. While Leo is in hospital, he befriends Alex Tanner, a New York cop who got injured whilst attempting to capture a nefarious gangster who has taken control of the city’s power supply, throwing the metropolis into chaos. The pair unite and form an extraordinary duo, using Leo’s phantom powers and Alex’s detective work to foil the plot and save New York from destruction.
Alex and Leo are both in hospital both different reasons. Leo is in for treatment for hos illness and Alex is in a wheelchair with a broken leg, hurt from attempting to capture The Face. Leo is able to become invisible and fly through walls, his body stays still whilst he has an outer body experience. Leo is a big fan of the Police and couldn’t wait to introduce himself to Alex and help him save Mary, a journalist, who falls prey to The Face when she goes in search of him. With Leo in the air and Alex on the ground they become quite the fighting pair. They have 24 hours to save the City from a deadly computer virus.
The film is very touching, portraying Leo as a brave young man. It is an action packed, simply animated and a heart warming film.
It has its humourous moments from the villains trusty side kicks and vicious tiny dog, Rufus. The film shows us about the power of teamwork, friendship, family, and courageous acts of kindness. Leo’s illness pulls at the heart-strings yet The Face and his gang bring humour to the film.
My children aged 14, 9 and 5 all enjoyed watching this simple animated fantasy film and found it to be entertaining. They were engaged the whole way through. Leo spends a lot of time in his hospital bed due to his illness and gets the freedom that he yearns by becoming phantom boy. He feels free from the disease by soaring up high in the sky over buildings and flying through walls.
Phantom boy is a beautiful story but also a brilliant superhero film and will leave you feeling warm inside.
Released on DVD 13th February 2017
The film features the voices of Fred Armisen, Vincent D’onofrio and Jared Padelecki.
I have 3 copies of the film to give away. Just enter via Rafflecopter below.
Competition ends 21/02/17 12am
Uk entries only please due to postage
Winners will be picked via rafflecopter
Prizes will be sent out directly by the PR company
My boys love their clothes and they don’t need an excuse to dress up in their best clothes. They are forever rummaging through their wardrobes searching for outfits to wear. Putting together new styles and always asking me if they look smart. They have their own styles which they have, over the past few years, put together by themselves. The middle boy will always be found wearing a Dickie Bow or a Trilby hat and the youngest likes to dress smart. Their bedroom floor has always got the odd item of clothing scattered across it from where they have got changed throughout the day.
I love that they have a passion for clothes, as I studied fashion when I was younger, It’s a nice feeling to know that even though I don’t have a girl to follow my passion for fashion the boys enjoy it too.
Just before Christmas the boys were sent a few items of clothing from House Of Fraser.
I chose a particular t shirt for my 9 year old. It is a Bike print crew neck top by Howick. He loves to wear unusual clothing, something that makes him look different from his friends.
The print is large and fun with bicycles, helmets and water bottles scattered around the T-Shirt. My son is an outdoors person and likes nothing more than to go out around the block on his bike. This T-shirt suits his personality to tee (excuse the pun)
The material is 100% cotton leaving it feeling soft against the skin. It looks lovely teamed with a pair of jeans and a blazer over the top. It’s the ideal smart casual staple for any boys wardrobe. The T-shirt is a size 7-8 and it fitted my son perfectly. His height is 125cm.
What does the boy say “I like the bike T-shirt as it is very comfortable to wear and soft on my skin. I also like the print on it”
T-Shirt £12/ Current sale price £6 (Jan 2016)
From smart casual to special occasion smart. We was also sent a three piece classic suit in grey by Howick.
Now this has got to be the most adorable little outfit I have seen my youngest wear. He had me in tears when he wore it. I am hoping that we have an invite to a special occasion so that he gets to wear it again before he outgrows it
He was so proud of himself wearing it, he was beaming from ear to ear. And you have to admit, he looks pretty dapper in the tailored suit.
The quality of this suit is of high standard. The stitching is neatly done and the material is soft and comfy. The last thing you want is a child in a suit that is uncomfortable all day long,
If your child has a slim waist then the trousers are ideal, as they have an adjustable waist line that can be tightened by pulling the elastic on to the button
There are two usable pockets on the back of the trousers and are finished off with a pressed central crease down the front of the leg giving the overall look of the suit a polished look.
The silk lining follows throughout all three items. You will find this suit has all the design features you would want from a smart suit for any age.
- Inside pockets on the jacket
- Button hole on lapel
- Box vent on the back of the jacket
- Lined and stitched to a high standard
- Buttons on the jacket cuffs
- Metal clasp trousers, easy to use for young children
- Adjustable elastic waist
- Detailed belt on the back of the waistcoat
- Buttons of reasonable size for little hands to grasp
The suit is not sold as a three-piece, each item is sold separately.
Both items are of good quality as you would expect from a high end department store. In my opinion they are lovely staple items for any stylish boys wardrobe.
Jacket £46 Trousers £26 Waistcoat £24 Current prices as of Jan 2016 Take a look at some of the boys clothes that House of Fraser have to offer here
We was sent these items for the purpose of this review, photos and opinions are of our own.