Slow Cooker Chocolate Orange Fudge

So this video popped up on my Facebook feed early in December and I loved the idea of making fudge in the slow cooker.

I changed the ingredients for my fudge but the basic principle is the same.

You will need:

1 cup of milk chocolate chips

1 cup of dark chocolate chips

1/4 cup of whipping cream

1/3 cup of honey

1 bar of Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate Orange Intense Bar (100G) broken into pieces

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1. Place the chocolate chips, whipping cream and honey in the slow cooker and cook on high for 1 hour.

2. Stir in the pieces of Chocolate Orange bar and the vanilla extract until they’ve melted

3. Pour the mixture into a dish to set (I used a square pyrex dish)

4. Cut into chunks and give them away! (OR eat them alllll)

Fudge

 

1 year on…

So it’s officially a year since I started blogging and I’ve learnt so much! I’ve just tipped over the 500 views marker and can’t help but berate myself slightly for posting so intermittently for most of the year as that could have been much higher. Live and learn I guess.

I’ve been rather quiet over the last month due to a combination of my Mum being in hospital (she’s fine now though!) and being quite poorly myself. I’ve had one bout of tonsillitis after another followed by a really nasty cough that I still haven’t managed to shake. Sadly this led to me having to abandon my chocolate making plans! I did manage to hand make some presents and some fudge that I’ll post a tutorial on in the coming week.

Since it’s that time of year that always inspires reflection and introspection I’ve realised that 2015 has been a roller coaster ride for me personally and I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time soul searching. I’ve had some amazing highs (New York springs to mind!) but I’ve also had some fairly devastating lows. I’ve confronted a lot of my issues head on and worked on myself, and my mental health, particularly in the last 6 months. I hope to continue that in 2016.

2015 had some amazing highlights: 

Photo collage of 2015 highlights

Clockwise from top left: Me and Matt at MTV Malta in July, Me and some of my favourite people on King Arthur’s Carousel in Disneyland Paris, Two people I’ve had the absolute pleasure to work with this year on a business trip to Portugal, Me being excited about a free bottle of Prosecco for helping organise my staff Christmas party, Me being pleased about coming second in a pub quiz and winning £10, Me and Matt enjoying life on some chair swings and finally Me and Matt at the Statue of Liberty back in June.

I don’t normally set new year’s resolutions unless I feel I will actually keep to them because I hate setting myself up for failure. However, something feels different this year. Maybe it’s because I’m a year older and theoretically a year wiser but I feel like it’s time to seize the day. I’ve worked hard to remove a lot of the shackles I placed on myself in previous years so perhaps this is the year I can achieve my goals.

What are those goals I hear you say? I still don’t feel like I really know what I want to do with my life in the long term. The goals I’ve listed below aim to improve my quality of life, mental and physical health and hopefully the rest will follow. I also have a bucket list of things that I’d like to tick at least five things off in 2016 (more on those another day).

I resolve to:

  • Overhaul my diet and fitness levels (I’m going to start the 21 Day Fix on January 1st 2016)
  • Go to bed at a sensible time (between 10 pm and 11:30 pm) and get up at a sensible time (dependent on work hours and commuting but mostly stop sleeping in til 1 pm!)
  • Read for pleasure for at least 1 hour every day (fiction not self help books!)
  • Give up all social media for at least 21 days
  • De-clutter and organise my space so that I feel peaceful at home (I plan to use the Konmari method for this one)
  • Craft at least two things per month and blog at least once per week
  • Pay off my credit card debts

I don’t plan to implement all of these things at once because I think that would be too much. So instead I’m going to make changes in 21 day bursts. They say it takes 21 days to create a habit that will stick so let’s find out!

Several major things are happening in 2016:

  • I’m moving back to my parent’s house to help with that last pesky bullet point up there (paying off my debts)
  • Matt and I are going to Los Angeles for two whole weeks!
  • Matt and I are going to France and I get to show him the wonders of Carcassonne and surrounds!
  • There are two major weddings happening; two of my best friends are tying the knot with their soul mates which is seriously exciting!

2016 is full of promise and excitement so my final resolution is to savour every moment, find things to be grateful for, even on the worst days, and strive to recognise when I’m happiest and chase more of it.

Savour

Festive Tea Wreath

Featured Image

So in my continued quest to DIY as many of my presents as possible I made a tea wreath!

I was originally inspired by this tea wreath but decided that I couldn’t be bothered with all the clothes pegs! I went with double sided sticky tape instead.

I used a 20 bag box of Pukka Organic Peppermint Licorice Tea Bags and a 20 bag box of Taylors of Harrogate Spiced Apple Tea Bags; I confess mainly for the colours, though the spiced Apple one is nicely festive too!

You can use any tea you like to make this, just make sure you buy tea that comes in individually wrapped packets (usually this means buying the nicer, more expensive ones).

You will need:

40 teabags in any combination of colours and flavours

Thick cardboard or foam board

Double sided sticky tape

Colour coordinated ribbon

A glue gun (optional)

Steps:

  1. Cut out your wreath from your cardboard or foam board.

I started by putting a standard dinner plate on the back of some flimsy cardboard from a pizza and drawing around it. I cut this out and then marked the inner circle with the base of a bowl. I used a wooden clothes peg at this stage to make sure there was enough cardboard for a decent layer of teabags.

I then used double sided sticky tape to attach my cardboard doughnut to some foam board I had lying around:

tea wreath1

Then carefully* cut the foam board to match the cardboard using a craft knife.

*Confession: Not that carefully because I did this really late at night and I’m an idiot so I thought I’d nick my finger:

Cutyoself

2. Lay your teabags around the wreath and work out where they look best:

Teaplacement

3. This would be a good time to attach your ribbon to the wreath (I didn’t consider this until later and had to attach it to the back.)

Start sticking your teabags down using double sided sticky tape, working from the outer layer inwards:

tapeplacement

first two rounds

4. Attach a ribbon to the back of the foam board using staples and a glue gun if you haven’t attached it at step 3!

Finished Wreath

And you’re done!

This probably took me about an hour and a half from start to finish but makes a gorgeous and thoughtful present.

 

 

Sneak peek of Chocolates for everyone!!

So I have a massive family. Like huge, my mum is the youngest of 10 and they all have kids and lots of those cousins have had kids now so our family get togethers are always big! Every year we organise a Christmas party and I try to make my presents because I’m too poor to buy everyone something… 

It’s usually food because that’s easy to do in bulk, one year it was biscuits, another it was chilli jam. This year it’s chocolates!

I’ve got myself a chocolate box silicone mould from Lakeland:

  
 
I’ve never done any proper chocolate making (just plenty of chocolate eating!) I decided to get the Thermospatula as well so I can attempt to temper the chocolate and hopefully make them look really good:

  
I’m kinda excited about using this just because I love a good gadget!

I’ve already started making some boxes using this tutorial and some Christmas scrapbook paper that I bought from eBay:

  
(Sorry about the fuzzy photo, working with an iPad is hard!)

  
This was my second attempt after I failed to follow the instructions the first time around…

I’m hoping to make the chocolates this week and post a full tutorial next weekend. Keep an eye out! 

The Innocent Big Knit 2015

I’ve finally managed to knit something!! I’ve knitted three hats for the Innocent Big Knit event which aims to raise awareness and money for the charity Age UK

IMG-20151105-WA0005

These were made using Innocent’s basic hat pattern

I’m hoping to make at least another three before the deadline in December. These hats are then put on Innocent Smoothie bottles in shops and a donation is made to Age UK for every bottle sold with a little hat on them. Follow Innocent Smoothies on Facebook to see some of the amazing and creative other hats they’ve received!

Foolproof American Pancakes in the UK

I’m mega excited because one of my friends is moving to LA next year so this weekend I booked flights to go and visit her for two whole weeks at the end of Feb!!!

One of the things I love about America is the pancakes, they’re light and fluffy, filling and have so many options for accompaniments! So I decided to make it my mission to make perfect American style pancakes here in the UK before I go to LA so that I can boss it while I’m there.

These are the pancakes I had to live up to:

NYPancakes

These are the ones I had at The Tick Tock diner in New York earlier this year and they were absolutely DIVINE.

So I headed off to Pinterest to find myself a recipe. I chose this one from Candace Davenport at Somewhat Simple.

I halved the amounts since I was only making them for two people.

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups sifted plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup of sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup of milk
2 tbs. olive oil

This made 8 pancakes – 4 per person which was more than enough.

Ingrediants

Utensils:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Smaller bowl
  • Whisk
  • Frying pan
  • Large flat spatula (this is a good one)

Directions:

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder and sugar into a large bowl and use a whisk to mix together
  2. dryingrediants

  3. In another bowl, crack the eggs and beat together with a fork, add the milk and mix
  4. wetingrediants

    Around this time, someone set off a firework nearby so Apple came to make sure I was ok:
    AppleSpooked

  5. Add the olive oil to the egg & milk mixture and mix well
  6. oil

  7. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined (don’t overdo it, lumps are ok!)
  8. mixwetanddry

  9. Get your frying pan on to warm up on a medium heat on the smallest ring of the hob
  10. Hobandpan

  11. Add a 1/3 cup of batter to the hot pan
  12. batter

  13. Check your pan position, you want to ensure that wherever you’ve dropped the batter, the heat from the burner is centred directly below the pancake.
  14. Panposition
    Please be SENSIBLE with this! Don’t put your pan in an unbalanced or dangerous position, make sure handles are away from the edge at all times.
  15. Now it’s time to look for BUBBLES
  16. bubbles-fish-o
    Couldn’t resist!

    Serious talk though, bubbles are very important at this stage. You want the whole pancake to have popped bubbles all over before you flip it over. That’s how you’ll know it’s the perfect amount done on the other side.

    Check out the picture below, the top one is not quite done, there’s a patch in the bottom left that’s still quite wet with bubbles still below the surface of the batter.

    The bottom picture shows the perfect amount of bubbles evenly distributed across the pancake
    Lookingforbubbles

  17. Once you see perfect bubbles all over, flip it over with your big spatula, it should look like below:
  18. perfect

  19. Give it at least thirty seconds on the other side before you check it. Keep checking until it’s lightly done on the other side.
  20. Repeat steps 6-10 until you run out of batter. You should be able to make at least 8 large pancakes
  21. Add your topping of choice, we went for plain ole Maple Syrup but experiment with different kinds of fruit and definitely try bacon and maple syrup if you haven’t had it before!

final

Serve with a big icy Coca Cola and pretend you’re on Venice Beach already!

coke

Let me know how you get on with these foolproof instructions! I’m super proud of myself because I can usually barely make any food from scratch!

Best DIY gifts for Teenagers

Teenagers… they can be a nightmare to buy for let alone make things for! My advice is to not DIY gifts for teens you don’t know that well!

  1. DIY Gold Leaf Jewellery Tray
Jewelry Tray Display

Credit: Homey Oh My

I mean, I would love this now just as much as I would if I were 16!

2. DIY Galaxy Print T-Shirt

Galaxyshirts

Credit: byhandlondon

Fun and cute. Their friends will ask where they got it, you will be cool forever.

3. A Starbucks Cup gift

Credit: somuchtodew

Obviously include a Starbucks gift card but you can tailor this to your teen. Add little Lego toys for boys, think small beauty items like nail varnish for girls.

4. Chalkboard Coasters

Credit: westermanfam

These are a great present for slightly older teens (think 17+) who are about to head off into the wilderness of real life. Everyone needs coasters!

5. DIY Passport Holder

Credit: AlwaysRooney

Feed their wanderlust with a custom passport holder!

6. Soda pop candy bottles

Credit: kmckaydesigns

Technically a father’s day gift but I know a lot of teenage boys who would love this!

7. Lip Balm Locket

Credit: beautylish

Just love everything about this, I am forever without lip balm, anyone want to make this for me?

8. Lounge Pants

Picture of How to Sew Your Own Pajama Pants

Credit: compwalla

Make these in an appropriate fabric, the more aligned with their interests the better! Think Comic Books, Superheroes, Video games, Disney etc. Find out what they like!

9. Heat-resistant Hair Straightener Cozy

Credit: gatheringtwigs

This is a brilliant DIY and parents will thank you for not allowing their house to burn down!

10. DIY giant chevron floor pillows

pin

Credit: OverLovin’

Teenagers will LOVE these floor pillows, brilliant for lounging about with their friends. Try and match the fabrics to their room decor if possible!

Pin this for the future:

TeenOval