Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Looking Briefly Back Over 2013 and Forward to Endless Possibilities

First of all, Happy New Year to you all ! I’m hoping you had a fabulous time with those you love and you’re ready for all the wonderful possibilities 2014 is sure to offer.

Photo Credit: (Created by hin255)

You may or may not know that I write 2 blogs. There’s The Mad Mummy Musings, but there’s also my very first blogging baby, Sophia’s Choice, my Green Lifestyle Blog, which I gave life to a few months prior to this one. They’re both quite different and allow me to write and share in slightly different ways. They have over the past 15 months given me an outlet, a place to call my own where I can indulge my passion to write.

This year has been an eventful one in many different ways. We have now finally settled into the second home we moved into within a 11 week period last November and slowly but surely the scars left from losing my Mum just over 2 years ago to lung cancer are finally healing. I feel her presence with me daily particularly when I write. It’s as if she is guiding me and helping me follow my passion, pointing me in the right direction.

The more I write, the more I need to. The latter 3-4 months of this year took me away from my blogging and I missed it terribly (It’s funny but once you give yourself an outlet to write, the need grows stronger rather than diminishing). My focus had to be on launching my new business venture, an online shop, which now runs alongside Sophia’s Choice blog. It’s all been very exciting if not a touch daunting. If you are interested in reading about my blogging year with Sophia’s Choice then you can pop across and have a read here.

Now that little Tink is at nursery my world is once again opening up and new possibilities are presenting themselves. My online shop is one of my new passions and I’m really looking forward to seeing how she grows and what opportunities I can create for her over the coming year.

I’m keen to develop this blog further too. I have clearer ideas of what I’d like to share with you and write about here on The Mad Mummy Musings. I love writing about important issues that affect us all, I love being outdoors and sharing our experiences as a family in that respect. Linking up to Country Kids with Fiona from Coombe Mill has been great fun over the past year, sharing our adventures in the open air. It will be good to get back to doing more of that in the coming months. We’d also like to involve ourselves more in the monthly link ups with the TOTS100 Center Parcs challenges too this year.

I love to cook and create healthy food. I’m currently studying for a Nutrition Diploma to take my passion for health, food and nutrition further, so look out for some “foodie” posts coming your way this year. I met my husband when we were doing an HND in Hotel & Catering Management so I’d love to take my passion and experience in this area further through this blog. There were a few blogging opportunities which I never had time to pursue last year which I’m hoping may still be possible in 2014.

I’d love to do more freelance writing too. This was an area I’d hoped to develop in 2013 but having Tink still so small meant that I had to prioritise what I could and couldn't do. I’m hopeful that opportunities will present themselves when the time is right and I can perhaps earn an income from my passion to write. There’s always been a book locked up inside me so who knows, maybe 2014 is my year to revisit that ambition.

And last of all, I intend to get organised ! 2013 was a year of disorganisation to some degree for me and I didn’t like it one bit. I am by nature an organised and tidy person. Clutter and mess affect my ability to think clearly. Having small children challenges that trait in me daily ! So 2014 will be the year I get that clear, tidy house I can always see in my head. I will bring my vision into reality. I will !

So my lovely readers, I’m excited about growing and taking this little blog to bigger and loftier heights. I’m hopeful you’ll join me and still enjoy my new musings over the coming year. I feel privileged to have you on board for the ride and hope 2014 is everything you want it to be.

Until next time xx

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Hotel Chocolat – The Signature Christmas Collection

If you've been reading this blog then you will know that I LOVE chocolate ! It is my Achilles heel and if it’s in our house it rarely lasts long. If I’m not surreptitiously devouring a morsel or three, it’s the rest of the household fighting over who gets the last piece. Saving your last rolo for someone you love in our house is a rare occurrence. It’s very much each for their own on the chocolate front !

We lived in France for just short of 3 years and in that time I was able to sample an eclectic mix of chocolate much of which was made for the discerning palate. Despite the fact that I love a square or two of what the European’s term as “chocolate substitute”, I do love a piece of dark cacao rich chocolate and I am pleased to say that my 2 girls have inherited a penchant for dark chocolate too. To see a 2 year old devour with joy, a piece of 90% cocoa dark chocolate is a beautiful sight and long may it continue.

So, when the opportunity arose to sample some of the Christmas Chocolate Selection from Hotel Chocolat, every sense in my body woke up and said “Me, me!”

I was kindly sent a box of Hotel Chocolat’s “The Signature Christmas Collection” and whilst I eagely awaited its arrival I popped back to their website to find out more about Hotel Chocolat and what they do.

As a company, Hotel Chocolat cares greatly about where their cocoa comes from and they care about the people who grow and harvest it too. They have taken Fair Trade a step further by setting up their “Engaged Ethics” programme to create sustainable cocoa growing communities. As they explain “It differs from most other 'trading fairly' programmes as it goes beyond simply writing out a cheque and standing back (which is still a great deal better than doing nothing!) It's a roll-up-the-sleeves, take risks, long-term approach, which has led to a remarkable set of results so far.” You can read more about their story, history and Engaged Ethics programme here.

As well as being able to shop direct with Hotel Chocolat, they also have a tasting club which intrigued me greatly. You can find out more about this on their website but for now I will share with you what we thought of the Christmas collection chocolates we were sent.

Beautifully boxed, this Signature Christmas Selection has something for everyone. I chose this box because it had a selection of white, milk and dark chocolates; some with alcohol and others without. It meant that as a family we could all indulge. And indulge we did ! I actually had to hide the box at one point as Tink who is just about to turn 3 became just a touch too keen on my precious chocolate selection. A box of maltesers this certainly is not and they were to be savoured and appreciated not wolfed down in one go.

My favourites were the Cranberry Cups, Hacienda lara Dark Salted Caramel 90% and the Mulled Ports. Hubby loved the Christmas Mess (great name) and the Rum & Raisin Truffles. The girls fought over the Cranberry Cup, Christmas Mess and the White Caramel Pralines.

I noticed that you can taste each and every flavour in every chocolate. The depth and complexity of the flavours and how they blend together yet still remain separate is clever indeed. I thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of the chocolates I sampled and have to admit that we were all rather disappointed when the box was empty.

With Christmas almost here, I have decided to get the girls the Mingles and Jingles Bag filled with 55 white, milk and dark chocolates all in a drawstring bag which looks like a Santa sack. I will also be purchasing a Festive Wreath to take to my husband’s parents for lunch on Christmas Day.
Photo courtesy of Hotel Chocolat

Photo courtesy of Hotel Chocolat

Hotel Chocolat have a fabulous range of chocolates which I intend to come back to and browse over time. I have been very impressed with what I have tried so far and look forward to sampling what we have arriving for Christmas too.

If you are keen to indulge yourself before Christmas then Hotel Chocolat are taking orders right up until Monday 23 December and guarantee a Christmas delivery. If you’re looking for something a little bit different and like me love your chocolate then Hotel Chocolat come highly recommended. They will definitely be staying on my “must try” list for a while to come.

If you wish to follow them via social media then they also have a Facebook page and they are on Twitter.

Xx Merry Christmas everyone xX
Wishing you all a fabulous, festive time with those you love


We are linking this post up with the lovely Vicky Welton's #PoCoLo this week, the last one before Christmas. Some great posts shared so why not pop across for a read x

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Disclaimer: We were sent a box of Hotel Chocolat's, The Signature Selection to try out for honest review. All opinions, thoughts and feelings are our own.

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