How To Make Raw Chocolate

Friday, February 27, 2015

set your chocolate as barks 

Some of my fondest memories as a child are sitting around with cups of tea with my sisters and eating copious amounts of chocolate. We were definitely born with a sweet tooth! And it's not just our childhood we spent doing this; we still do it now! What's sisterhood without enormous amounts of chatting and chocolate?! It's for this reason I wanted to share with you this simple recipe for raw chocolate.

This recipe contains 3 of the staple ingredients I think you should own for making easy and healthier treats: coconut oil, raw cacao powder, and brown rice malt syrup. These babies are in everything so they won't go to waste if you buy them.

in moulds...

Here's the rundown. You know those healthy fats? Coconut oil is one of them! It forms the base of this raw chocolate, but it's also ideal for high temp cooking and has a wealth of uses such as body moisturiser, hair treatment and sunscreen. Cacao is where chocolate begins, and is the raw, unprocessed bean bursting with antioxidants and essential minerals. And you can think of rice malt syrup as your healthy sweetener. It is made from fermented cooked rice and is basically a substitute to cooking with sugar.

Making your own raw chocolate means you get to add your own touch with handfuls of your favourite ingredients! Don't forget to have fun and make it colourful. Pepitas, goji berries, coconut, slivered almonds, dried fruit, roughly chopped nuts - the possibilities are endless! You can also set it however you like. See the recipe below for some ideas.

This gorgeous chocolate looks great, is healthier than your average supermarket bought chocolate, and is so easy to make. You'll feel like a whole-foodie in no time.

or in cups.
Raw Chocolate 
dairy free | refined sugar free | vegan | raw

¾ cup raw cacao powder
½ cup coconut oil
3 tablespoons rice malt syrup
Pinch salt (optional)

Gently melt coconut oil over the stove on a low temperature.
Stir in rice malt syrup.
Take off heat and whisk raw cacao powder in making sure there are no lumps.
Add salt if desired. Salt gives the chocolate a little bite, a pinch is the perfect amount.

From here you can set the chocolate however you like...
Pour into a lined tin and sprinkle with lashing of your favourite ingredients. Once set crack it into pieces to create ‘bark’.
Pour into chocolate moulds of your choice and leave as is.
Pour into silicone cup moulds and sprinkle with your toppings.

Set in fridge or freezer for at least 30 minutes.
Store in fridge or freezer.

Enjoy x

Have you made raw chocolate before? What are your favourite toppings?

How To Wear A Chambray Shirt

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach - Henry Beston

I'm happiest by the water but as much as I love beach trips and laps at the pool I don't have a separate beach/pool collection of clothes. Leaving a swimsuit, of course. I don't have beach cover-ups, instead I wear white cotton dresses. Recently I swapped my dresses for a chambray shirt as a beach cover-up alternative. 

At the end of last year I decided to add a chambray shirt to my wardrobe. I haven't worn it nearly as creatively as I would have liked to. More than just wearing it in the same comfortable combination (usually with pants) I've been re-thinking how I wear my clothes. I last wore my chambray shirt with a skirt and I thought it looked pretty good. I'm all about find different ways to use and wear what I already have. It can be annoying and frustrating but when I figure it out, it's rewarding. 

What is your favourite beach outfit/cover-up? 
What's your favourite way to wear a chambray shirt? 
More chambray inspiration 

Have a logo...What next?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Having a logo you love is just the beginning. This sounds scary, but really it just means making sure your blog is consistent in design with the logo or vice versa. All of this should be discussed with your designer at the beginning of the rebranding process, but if not don’t sweat! 

Ask yourself a few questions:

1. Does my logo match my blog’s colour scheme? If not, add that to your to do list. You don’t necessarily need to copy the exact colour of the logo throughout your blog, just choose a colour scheme that contrasts nicely.

2. Do the fonts I have on my blog match the style of the font used in my logo? Similarly to the colour scheme, you don’t necessarily need to match your fonts exactly, but rather choose a font that contrasts nicely against the logo. For example: If your logo uses a nice swirling, hand scripted font like the one below choose a more structured font like the one beside it. This way it creates contrast and is legible for followers to read on screen.

3. Do I have any marketing collateral? Does this need to be updated? Any promotional tools you use (online or in print) should be updated to use your logo and updated blog design. This includes business cards, flyers, invitations, web banners, buttons and social media pictures. If your blog is represented anywhere online or in print, it should include your new logo.

My best advice to someone who wants to create a logo for their blog is team up with a designer that you really like. Mutual respect and easy communication is key to achieving a logo that you are proud of.

Do you have a logo for your blog? Besides your blog where else/ how else do you use it? 
I use mine quite a lot when I do presentations related to social media and blogging, as well as for my mentoring program tools and documents. 

This post was written for A Life Un-Styled by Shannon Cant. See previous posts on this topic here.

Biggest 'Mothering' Life Lesson from 2014

Friday, February 20, 2015

I played an aunt-cum-mum role for about 12 months and it's continuing this year. I can't even being to total the number of hours of conversation Patrick and I have had about parenting, or the conversations we've had with Miss 10 and the books and academic articles we've read on attachment, development and behaviour. I know posts that suggest '5 secrets to', of '10 lessons from...' tend to do better but mine would have probably been a list of '100 things that kinda maybe could work...' Instead I thought I'd write about the one, true lesson and realisation I came across 2014: 

I do not need to include Miss 10 in everything that I do. 

Simple isn't it? I can't tell you the number of times I put off doing things in the day because I thought it would be nice/fun/meaningful to have Miss 10 do them with me, or wait and do them as a family. What then happened is a few of the problems we've had with Miss 10 and adjusting simply made it impossible. And that meant I missed out on creating those memories for myself. 

I'm not talking about big trips and fancy dinners. I'm talking about not going to the pool on my own because 'Miss 10 would really enjoy that...' or not spending the day at the beach on my own while she's in school because she'd enjoy that too. The more I thought about it the more cross I got with myself. We do a lot with her. She's been able to have experiences and opportunities that many adults haven't had yet and there is absolutely no reason whatsoever that I should feel like she's missing out!

I don't think this is a lesson for mothers. I think it's one that can be applied more generally. As well intentioned as it might be to wait to experience something with someone you care about, sometimes it's worth it just doing it on your own. The way you enjoy something alone is probably going to be significantly different from the enjoyment your get sharing it with a loved one. When Miss 10 is at school, it's about her and I'm going to be more assertive about making that time I have to myself truly about me. And if she, or anyone else, feels 'left out' that they didn't get to do something with me well then they can work towards making the time (or behaving appropriately in Miss 10's case) to do it together another time. 

Is there something you've been wanting to do but have put off because you think it would be nice to do with your children/partner/loved ones? Would you consider doing it on your own? 
My biggest regret is not going swimming or to the beach more while Miss 10 is at school. I'm going to change that this year.

Love The Home You're In

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

It gives me so much joy to be able to work and create from home. To welcome people into not only a physical space but an emotional space because that's what our home is. A room haphazardly curated with our lives and glimpses of our journey. It's a small home, one that I've caught myself apologising for, "oh it's only small". I've had to remind myself to stop it. I no longer make apologies for our home, or for what it has and what it doesn't. 

kitchen bench top: with flowers, home made museli & other kitchen ephemera
walls: calendar made by Miss 10 and moments captured in polaroid

kitchen shelf: hand blown bowls from the Australian National University Art School (at either end) and a decorative teapot made in Nepal (I think) 

We rent a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment in the city. It's not our home, in that we rent but we've learnt to not think of it as temporary. It's not just a space we're occupying until we build our forever home. We tread softly and respectfully because ours or not, forever or not, this space is one that is bearing witness to our lives. Memories are being made in this space, joys shared, tears comforted and lessons learned.

lounge coffee table: lots of fresh flowers every where because the in-door plants are still a work in progress. I'm fussy when it comes to candles, I only ever use candles by Lumira and Pure Fiji.

lounge: baskets with blankets. CDs are also very popular in our home, the majority of them belong to Patrick, who I think has questionable taste in music (though I guess I'm one to talk!) Miss 10 is in charge of choosing and playing the music. There are always sounds from around the world filling our home.

This is our second year in this home and there's still so much that we haven't done, haven't bought. It's so easy to try to furnish, complete and make a space perfect as soon as you move in. We've tried to be more intentional. I went weeks without a writing desk, and while that doesn't seem like much, it was because my desk is the heart of the home for me. When we found the perfect one, it cost us a small fortune but it's a piece that will no doubt move with us regardless of where we go. This candle stand, it's been candle-less for two years. I hadn't found the right candles until a few Saturdays ago. So here it sat. I've learnt not to be in a hurry to replace everything and buy newer and better things. I'm going through our home slowly and ensuring we buy the best we can. And if we can't afford the $180 for a single flat sheet right away, that's okay. We'll make do with what we have. After all, our home is always going to be a work in progress. 

kitchen: swapping plastic dish drainers for bamboo ones was of the best decisions we made. Our fridge is covered with our Instagram pictures turned into magnets with Sticky9 (use FRIEND212T to get 15% off your order)

hallway and entry to our bedroom: map of Fiji where we tick off all the places we've visited, with over 300 islands (100 of which are inhabited) we're making our way through slowly. Portrait of Patrick and I by local Fijian artist Anare Somumu

miss 10's room: if her door is open I can usually see into her room from the kitchen 

Even our forever home I'm sure is going to be a constant work-in-progress. And even though I know there's always going to be something to do, something to buy, something to fix, replace and organise I'm taking comfort in the reality that our homes will grow as we do. My cluttered 14 year old room with the bright pink feature wall, black sheets and overflowing wardrobe has given way to classic whites, minimalism and locally commissioned art. Instead of waiting for the perfect home, I'm loving the home I'm in and I'm learning to make zero apologies for it. 

I hope you've enjoyed this little 'home tour', you can see how the space looked last year here.
Have you shared a home tour on your blog? I'd love to see your space!

Stripes, Espadrilles and Alleyways

Monday, February 16, 2015

In January I wrote about wardrobe essentials a fair bit and how espadrilles have become an unexpected basic. Over the summer I've realised one shoe essential that my wardrobe is missing - a flat open-toed slip-on, but that's for another post. For the moment, can we talk about the combination that is stripes and espadrilles (all nicely complemented in an alleyway with awesome street art).

art by Be Free 
I've been playing around with new combinations more this year simply as a way to wear and maximise what's already in my wardrobe. Espadrilles were something I wore to the beach or for a picnic in the park. Since re-thinking how I use and wear certain items I've been able to re-evaluate their functionality. These shoes have now become a pair I'll wear anywhere and they're getting a lot more use, which is great because I think they are fabulous! 

I've committed to not buy too many new things this year. And so far so good, I've only bought a hat and that was out of necessity. The only purchasing I've left myself open to is for Popbasic collections. I'm not sure if that's cheating but I have found that I wear their clothes a lot and that they form great foundations for outfits in the winter and are perfect on their own in summer. They've got their next collection launching in a few days and they sell out extra fast (I've missed out on many by waiting a day or two to purchase). You can sign-up for their monthly newsletter that lets you know about release dates here (and if you use that link they gift you $15 credit, no strings attached)! 

details: stripe dress by Popbasic with $15 towards any purchase + free shipping if you use this |
espadrilles by sportsgirl similar here | 

This month I'm creating, curating and documenting a capsule collection featuring some of my favourite pieces, including numerous Popbasic pieces. While I'm sticking to this collection for February I'll begin sharing all the details and photos in March which allows me enough time to photograph, edit and reflect on the clothes and if it's worked or not. Wish me luck!

Have you ever done any of those 30 for 30 challenges or curated a capsule collection for yourself for a month? Do let me know! Or, have you started wearing something from your wardrobe differently like I have with the espadrilles? 

Developing Meaningful Bedtime Routines

Friday, February 13, 2015

What does bedtime look like in your home? It took us a while to develop a bedtime routine that worked for everyone, especially since Miss 10 came to stay. We finally found a rhythm, a routine that sort of just developed but has worked for us. Evenings are now full of laughter, peace and joy. 

Patrick's reading The Biggest Estate on Earth, Miss 10's reading Myths and Legends of Fiji and Rotuma and I'm reading The Narrow Road to the Deep North 

After dinner and maybe a spot of television, you'll probably find the three of us buried in books. Sometimes Miss 10 will get into bed and read with us or she'll read in her room. This is a beautiful winding down activity following preparing, cooking and having dinner together earlier in the evening. Miss 10 goes to her room at around 8pm, and has an hour to herself before bedtime at 9pm. 

Patrick and I usually talk about work, parenting, things we've learnt and then spend time reflecting on our relationship. We'll write our 'day' - we each write a sentence that's reflective of our marriage/relationship that day (something we've been doing since the day we got married). One of us will pick up the hand cream to share, this one by Aesop is our current favourite. I take it a little further and use that cream on my feet too, and add a little more to my night time skincare regime. I always use the butter London cuticle oil and rotate between the Napoleon Perdis radiance boosting mask and the Rosehip Night Creme. Once I'm done and the lights are out, there a few things we always say to each other in lieu of goodnight. I don't think we realised it was a routine or that these things formed the basis of an otherwise fluid routine in our home. 

The perfect bedtime routine for us is one that naturally allows our bodies to wind down and to leave each other on a light and happy note. Miss 10 hates going to bed while we stay up because she feels like she's missing out. Developing a routine that included her and left her with some security and comfort was essential in a routine that was going to work. A meaningful bedtime routine, in my opinion, also sets aside some time for you to take care and pamper yourself (even if only in a small way). I try not to create lists before bed because then I get excited about getting things done, I try to get my tasks for the next day sorted out before Patrick gets home from work and before we settle in to spending the evening as a family. I definitely think the most meaningful bedtime routines are ones where everyone gets a little bit of a say and one that considers the needs of everyone in the family. 

How have you managed to develop meaningful bedtime routines in your home? 
What are some of your favourite bedtime routines?

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