Things You Can Do With Raw Chocolate

Friday, April 24, 2015

In the first post of the A Plate of Beautiful series Melissa shared her favourite raw chocolate recipe with three simple ingredients (coconut oil, rice malt syrup and raw cacao powder). Before moving onto some of Melissa's other recipes I thought I'd do a quick recap on some nifty little things you can use raw chocolate to do with other ingredients in your kitchen.

Raw chocolate and fruit This is a great way to include some seasonal fruit or fruit that has been sitting in the fruit bowl for a day or two longer than you would have liked.

1.Chop the strawberries. (Melissa's notes half a big strawberry per cup or one small strawberry) I eye-balled it.
2. Place in a cupcake could. (Melissa's notes silicon moulds work best when it comes to popping them out) For your benefit I tried in normal cupcake/muffins pans with and without paper, I prefer without paper - give them a good knock and they come out.
3. Whip up a batch of this three ingredient raw chocolate
4. Pour the raw chocolate mixture.
5. Set in the freezer (mine took about 35 minutes).

Melissa's strawberry chocolate cups

Everyone has been talking about chocolate coated bananas, I'm sure there's a name for them now. I've made them before with store bought chocolate and they were a real hit with my family. I took the one lonely banana left in our fruit bowl, covered it with raw chocolate, rolled it in almonds and popped it into the freezer for the chocolate to set. This doesn't take long (I timed mine at about 35-40 minutes). I prefer to use room temperature bananas and only pop them into the freezer to let the chocolate set. I find using frozen bananas becomes harder to eat.

Raw chocolate and nuts Another quick and easy treat is to dip your almonds or other suitable nuts of choice into the liquid raw chocolate, place them on a tray with paper and set them in the freezer.

Raw chocolate I now always have raw chocolate bark in my freezer. Apart from it being consumed on it's own I like serving it with coffee. Patrick is off sugar so it's a nice little treat. And surprisingly it's a wonderful addition to my cheeseboard and goes beautifully with wine. You might also like to break pieces of it up and add it to your oats as a little treat.

Vanisha's strawberry chocolate cups

If you're new to the whole 'raw food' thing you might find the A Plate of Beautiful series helpful as we've tried to build on three core ingredients used in the raw chocolate for the recipes that follow. Melissa and I believe that trying out raw recipes need not always end up being very expensive (which is one of the reasons I've heard many people say they haven't bothered with it). If you were to pick up some coconut oil, rice malt syrup and raw cacao powder I'm sure we can help you experiment with it and use it alongside other everyday ingredients. Perhaps you'd like to pick them up today and work through these posts and recipes with us!

What's your favourite raw chocolate topping? 
What do you like doing with your raw chocolate? 

How To Wear A Maxi All Year

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I never thought of maxi dresses as being particularly versatile or flattering. I bought a few but they didn't work out until I realised that I wasn't paying attention to the more important factors like cut and fabric when purchasing maxi dresses. Not too long ago I wrote this post on finding the perfect maxi dress. Once I had found said dress I started working on ways that would allow me to wear it throughout the year and help me maintain a minimalist wardrobe. For me really meant using what I already had opposed to rushing out and buying things that would work with the dress. I managed to pull these looks together with everyday pieces I already had in my wardrobe. What's more, I feel the looks build on each other and range from day time to evening, beach to cocktail party and summer to winter.

The core of all these looks is the Leina Broughton sidewalk maxi dress. It's now the only maxi dress I own. You can find the sidewalk dress on sale ($50 from $199) on the Leina Broughton website. If you're not sure about maxi dresses, the way I was - for years, you might find this post on finding the perfect maxi dress useful.

An evening out: maxi dress worn cinched at the waist with a simple belt, high-heeled sandals and clutch. 

Cafe dates and beach strolls: a straw hat, oxfords and oversized clutch 

Autumn walks: scarf, cardigan and sneakers. The sneakers bring a lovely laid back touch to the outfit and when worn without the scarf beautifully accentuates the leatherette detail of  the dress. 

Warm in Winter: It's not winter but it certainly has been very cold. Here I've worn the dress with a turtle neck jumper, a pop of colour with my scarf and a jacket that is cut to the waist (keeping proportion in mind) with ankle boots. 

Do you wear your maxi dresses beyond summer?
What's your favourite way to style maxi dresses? 
I think my favourite styling tip is to cinch it and play with proportions when layering it. More how to style a maxi dress tips here

Creating Beach Hair After Summer: Lush Sea Spray

Monday, April 20, 2015

I have a number of hair memories from when I was younger. Many involved running ahead of my mother as a child to the lovely lady who did my hair for about 20 years and begging her "not too much" (as in please don't cut too much of my awfully fine hair off) and then the confidence that appeared out of no where one day when I strolled in and said "just cut it off!" which then started my love of pixie cuts (I was about 11 years old). One school holiday however I became fascinated with how my hair looked after weeks at the beach. I had read in Dolly magazine (don't judge!) about how sea water, lemon and the sun can help your recreate those beach waves and the sun kissed colour. Each trip to the beach resulted in me discretely collecting a little bit of sea water to bring home. 

As someone with fine, straight hair the grass is of course greener on the thicker, more curly side. I love creating that messy look. A few months ago my sister and I were going out and she said "your hair is kinda messy" and I was chuffed "I know right, it took me all morning" I've spent years trying to figure out the easiest and least harmful/damaging way to create the beach hair look. If I could I'd spend every morning at the beach (when I can, I do) but it's not the most practical option. Two weeks ago I started using the Lush Sea Spray Hair Mist and I've used it almost every other day. 

The Lush Sea Spray hair mist is my answer to collecting sea water, with the added benefit of longer lasting body, volume and hold. The Sea Spray can be used in many ways. You can apply it before blow-drying for hold and style or you can apply it to dry hair and work it through for beach waves. The smell of things is a huge deal breaker for me. This hair mist has a pleasant grapefruit scent and the rosewood oil (along with the other ingredients) provide a lovely shine. 

I don't normally do posts like these but I thought I'd quickly show you how I create my home version of beach hair long after the summer holidays. 

I start with wet hair. I blow dry my fringe first (side to side if you want it to fall straight) and then the rest of my hair. 

Next I take the straightener and smooth out my fringe a little more. After that I make some waves - messy and haphazard. I don't do this perfectly and I don't get all the hair/strands and I don't worry because what I miss the sea salt spray will take care of. If I don't have a long day ahead I skip this and just apply the sea salt hair mist to my blow-dried hair. 

I loosen up the waves/curls/mess by running my fingers through them

I flip my hair over and spray the sea salt hair mist all over - I use it quite liberally (I'm at the madly in love stage) but you don't need that much. I give my hair a good shake, scrunch it up a bit...

And instantly I have more volume, it smells great and it looks messy but chic (in my humble opinion) - finally a method that doesn't take all morning! 

Do you like the beach hair look? Don't worry I won't be offended if you don't. 
Have you tried the Lush Sea Spray Hair Mist? I've been swearing by it, especially on those bad hair days in-between washes!

Five Things Lush Taught My Ten Year Old

Monday, April 13, 2015

I've been a fan of Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics since I was about Miss 10's age. I always thought of Lush as this store that smells really good and has lots of cute little products. It wasn't until I introduced Miss 10 to Lush and saw the impact the brand had on her that I realised what Lush really is and what it can do for the minds of children, as well as the positive impact it has on the environment and local economies. This post is a little different from how most people talk about Lush products, but I thought I'd share a few things Lush has taught this little one.

There Are Natural Alternatives. Miss 10's at an age when conversations about growth, development and hygiene occur a lot more. She recently started using deodorant, just the store bought ones, because I couldn't really find ones that smelt nice enough and she's so fussy (let me tell you!). Each visit to our local Lush store opened her eyes to just how easy it is to find natural, safe, ethical alternatives to the products we use everyday. She now uses the Lush Greeench deodorant powder which is perfect because she dislikes aerosol cans anyway. She's becoming more aware of when we can swap products we use that aren't natural, safe or ethical to ones that are. Things like soap, moisturiser, and bath gels seem to be the easiest to swap, but Lush has helped extend the conversation to deodorant, tooth paste/tabs and cosmetics. 

Activism. More than anything noticing the "fighting animal testing" images and slogans have raised a lot of questions. Why are products are tested on animals? What actually happens to the animals? How do you know if companies are testing on animals? I didn't have all the answers, but we worked through them together. Now she carefully considers what else might be tested on animals and asks if we can find alternatives. Beyond consuming knowledge, Lush in store petitions, tips for a greener life, and campaign exclusive products help us assist Miss 10 in acting on the information she's acquired. This has been so important for me as in my work I've realised that many young people mistake activism and advocacy as simply speaking out on an issue. There's so much more to it, and Miss 10 is learning that actions are just as important as words.

Miss 10 signing the KASM/Lush petition against Seabed Mining 

Natural Can Smell Good! As I mentioned one of the biggest problems I had is that Miss 10 is fussy when it comes to how things smell. Unfortunately, many of the artificial, chemical laden products smell so darn good! This is something that concerns me as she grows older and becomes a teenager (when there is more emphasis on looking and smelling nice). She's experienced lots of natural products and turned her nose up at the way many smell (to be honest, so have I), Lush was perfect because everything smells so yummy!

Not All Ingredients Are The Same. We found this 10 nasties to avoid sheet useful and I've taught Miss 10 the "if you can't pronounce it, it can't be good for you" rule when it comes to going through the contents of products. Another little insight was, if you won't eat it, think again before putting it on your skin. We did a little game where she compared the ingredients of her Lush deodorant and the previous one she used. I feel that the lesson here is really just consciousness and awareness of what goes into the products that we use everyday.

Conscious And Intentional Gift Giving. All the knowledge from the above four points I've noticed have culminated into a greater awareness in what Miss 10 now presents people as gifts. She's demonstrating better judgement not only in terms of what she thinks a person would like, but the cost of the gift, how it has been made and if the packaging can be reused or recycled. She's become a more thoughtful consumer and it's largely in part to the questions that Lush products have encouraged her to ask. I don't think I could ask for more. 

If buying her a bubble bar, or squishy soap every now and then is what it takes to encourage and nurture this curiosity and awareness it's a price I'm willing to pay. And she's only too quick to point out how supporting Lush means we're supporting all their campaigns and initiatives and being nicer to our planet. Stores and brands like Lush offer parents, guardians and educators such a unique and wonderful opportunity to expose our children to philosophy of ethical and mindful consumerism. I certainly hope we can continue to make the best of this learning opportunity.

Do you or children you know use Lush?
Do you feel that certain skin care or cosmetic brands help extend conversations the way Lush has for us? 

*Miss 10 and I would like to thank Kanya, the wonderful people at LushAUSNZ and Rebecca and her friendly team at the Lush Dunedin store for letting us come by and have a play. 

The Best Instagram Communities

Thursday, April 9, 2015

One month of how to grow your Instagram has been my favourite series to write so far. I've talked about editing photos for Instagram, authenticity on Instagram and taking good photos for Instagram. I started the series by talking about the importance of knowing your Instagram community and it's only fitting that I end the series by sharing with you the best, and my favourite Instagram communities. Instagram has been amazing in helping find and develop friendships with like-minded people and has also been instrumental in helping transition online relationships offline. Just today I had the most amazing coffee date with three young, inspired and creative business women. All thanks to Instagram. 

Some of my favourite communities:

Blog Society #blogtribe 
Jaclyn from Blog Society has created such a supportive space with #blogtribe It started off with people sharing bloggers that inspire them every Tuesday. These days I'm finding people are sharing regardless of the day of the week. 

The Evergirl #teg30daychallenge 
I stalk this hashtag constantly and thanks to this lovely feature I've come to know a few more women better and continue to be inspired, learn and grow. The Everygirl 30 day challenge is a fun challenge they do every month. This month's challenge is disconnecting from technology after dark.  

The Free Woman #solovelysofree 
The Free Woman celebrates the feminine and explores the joy of being a woman through creativity, beauty, relationships, career and social justice. The #solovelysofree community is packed with women who are asking the difficult questions, sharing their stories and navigating womanhood together.

I struggle in the mornings. I'm very slow to warm up in the mornings. I'm happy to give up technology after dark but Instagram and this particular hashtag get me inspired to get out of bed and have a morning worth celebrating. It's full of beautiful images of people enjoying their mornings all over the world. It's a wonderful way to meet Instagrammers from different countries. 

This is a new community established by my friend Kate (who also has a beautiful blog) and Lime Tree Bower. It's not nearly as large as the other communities I've mentioned but I've included it because sometimes it's best to get in early and become part of the foundation of these communities. You can find information on this community here or on Instagram just look up #floralmasquerade 

* Location specific communities can also be really helpful, it's worth having a look at what exists for your location. 

Do you have a favourite community on Instagram? I'd love to know

Also I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who took part in the giveaway. The winner has been notified and I look forward to bringing you more giveaways in the future. Thank you for your continued support. 

The Danger Of Over Consumption

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

These monthly intentions have resulted in a lot more productivity and in the cultivation of better habits for me. I'm also finding that I carry many aspects of the previous intentions through to the current month. I started the year off with the intention of being organised and fostering meaningful relationships, in February I focused on doing the work and March was all about getting started on those little things that I said I would do but was waiting for the 'right' time. April is going to be about slowing down on all the information I'm consuming

In January I cleared my desktop and my bookmarks. It's been a slow but steady process of un-subscribing from newsletters, RSS feeds and the like. I don't listen to every single pod-cast that promises to tell you how to grow your brand, or market yourself. I've become very strategic about what I listen to, what I read and what I 'mark' for 'one day'. 

Social media has made it so easy to over consume information. I feel like we've stopped filtering what's really important and what information we need at this point in time to help us achieve whatever goal we have. I find that we're saving things for 'one day' and we're being 'inspired' by so many things that we spend our time just being inspired rather than being inspired and moved into action. That's been one of the main dangers of over consuming information on-line for me - the constant stream of words and images that inspire without the careful allocation of time to act on that burst of inspiration for our own good. 

I also feel that over consumption muddles with things. Who I want to be, the story I want to tell, the way I want to run my blog and develop my brand. I need to block many things out not only to get the work done but to also remain true to who and how I want to be. Being inspired has become a full-time job. We have so many plans, so many ideas, so many tabs open, so many bookmarks but less and less time to commit to learning and doing things that we actually want to become better at. It can confuse what we want to become better at as well, which was the question I asked on Instagram a few days ago...

This month I'm trying to make an effort to only read, listen to or explore things that fit the goals I have or the activities that I need to get done (or what I want to become better at). I'm stepping away from consuming information for the sake of inspiration. I think I'm inspired enough - I have notebooks filled with notes and ideas. I don't need to subscribe for yet another 'free' e-book on becoming a better person or growing my mailing list (besides I don't have a mailing list and I don't want one, but that's another post). What I need to be doing is creating instead of consuming. 

Two tips that I'm using to help me along with this intention are: 

i) Picking your teachers. Pick a few people who inspire you, whose work you respect and from whom you want to learn. And for the month block out the other voices. 

ii) Identifying what purpose that piece of information would serve. I find myself filing things away for another day or 'just in case' situations. I now look at things in relation to my goals and what I need to get done now. I only engage if it's relevant to what I'm doing at this particular point in time.

This month I'm hoping to create more and consume less. 

How do you stop yourself from over-consuming? 
Do you have a go-to tip to encourage you to create instead of consume? 

How To Make Bliss Balls

Friday, March 27, 2015

raw cacao bliss balls

Bliss balls can be the easiest on-the-go snack to make...and eat(!). I like to consider myself quite a bliss ball expert since I've tried so many different recipes out so I have a few tips to share with you, along with my go-to recipe. I'm sharing with you the recipe for cacao bliss balls because these are my favourite and as I mentioned last month anything chocolate is heaven to me.

leave your bliss balls uncovered

As far as bliss balls go you can mix and match your preferred ingredients once you have the know-how, and you can roll your bliss balls in whatever you please. Truth be told you can usually find bits of shredded coconut all over my house and on my carpet. Rolling bliss balls in shredded coconut is my all time favourite, and somehow I usually manage to spread it all over my house. And the list does not stop with shredded coconut: you can use raw cacao powder, chia seeds, ground gojis, crushed nuts, just to name a few... or even leave them uncovered! So experiment with your coatings and use whichever ingredients you like.

or cover in cacao, powdered coconut, gojis or pumpkin seeds

Bliss balls are super easy to make, but there can be little issues here and there given the nature of the ingredients, the different blenders you may use or even the recipe. Here are some magic tricks if you get a little bit sticky. Or dry. Or sloppy.

+ You know when you're rolling your bliss balls and they get stuck to the palms of your hands? Simply wet your hands and they will stick no longer.
+ When your mixture is too dry simply add a little more coconut oil.
+ When your mixture is too 'sloppy' or wet, it can help to put it in the fridge for 10 minutes for everything to harden up a little.
+ Soaking your dates in hot water for 10 mins softens them and makes them easier to blend.
+ Sometimes to get the ball shape it is easier to mould the mixture, shaping it with your hands, instead of rolling the mixture. Some mixtures can fall apart when trying to roll into balls.
+ Bliss balls can be stored either in the fridge or freezer. The freezer creates a harder, chewier ball, whereas the fridge makes them softer and more melt-in-your-mouth.

roughly chop coconut and gojis, coat in chia seeds and sesame seeds, or dip in raw chocolate
Serves 16.

1 cup walnuts
1 cup soaked, pitted dates (soak for 10mins)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon rice malt syrup *optional (for those of you new to cacao you may prefer to add the rice malt syrup to sweeten the mixture a little more, however I find that the dates make it sweet enough).

1. Process walnuts, shredded coconut, and raw cacao powder and place in a large bowl.
2. Process dates and coconut oil together, and the rice malt syrup if you are using it.
3. Combine date mixture in with the dry ingredients in the large bowl and mix to combine completely.
4. Using a heaped tablespoon of mixture, roll into balls and then roll in shredded coconut. Place on lined tray.
5. Set in freezer for 1 hour.
6. Store in fridge or freezer depending on your preference.

Enjoy x

What is your favourite bliss ball recipe? How do you coat your fave bliss balls?
You can see past A Plate of Beautiful posts here


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