Archives for the month of: August, 2012

My son is very expressive and his emotions run high even at such a young age. If he’s happy, he’s all jazz hands and hugs. Alternatively, if he’s in a mood the situation ends up looking like this.

Emo G

I’m not breaking out the Thursday or Taking Back Sunday tunes just yet, but we’ll see what happens when he hits the pre-teen and teenage years… (hah!)

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Hands up, who loves chocolate? *hand raised high up* Yep, I love chocolate. I was also lucky enough to be approached by a new chocolatier Chocolate by Genevie to review chocolates available from her new online shop.

Last week, I was welcomed home by a very pretty package. Thankfully, my husband saved the unboxing until I got home from work.

Pretty package

shiny box

unboxing chocolate

Inside were eight beautifully crafted chocolates.

Eight is enough

close up chocolate

Not only did these chocolates look beautiful, they tasted beautiful. Just rich, indulgent cocoa each teamed with pistachio, marzipan, coffee, or just more chocolate ganache. This ‘Silver Box 8 Chocolates’ is only available from the website for £8.99 and would make a perfect gift for someone who enjoys chocolate. Thanks, Genevie!

There are a few competitions from other bloggers to win Chocolates by Genevie, if I were you I’d make sure to enter!

*I was sent a box of chocolates for review, but these thoughts are my own.*

Potato harvest

In the baking world, whoopie pies have been all the rage recently. Having tried dried out and tasteless store bought versions back home in the US, I scoffed at this phenomena when it crossed the pond. I thought, “Why would people get into this ‘treat’ when it wasn’t all that tasty?”.
But then after reading about the origin of whoopies in Baked In America, I decided to see what the fuss was all about.

We’re big fans of gingery type cakes so the Shoo-Fly Whoopies recipe seemed the right place to start. Full of goodness like ginger and black treacle, I was suddenly coming around to the deliciousness that would be the whoopie pie.

Black treacle

If you’re not familiar, whoopies are like big cakey cookie sandwiches, filled with a cloud like creamy filling. They can be made into all sorts of different flavor combinations. The Shoo-Fly Whoopie is a take on the traditional ‘Shoo-Fly Pie’ hailing from Pennsylvania Amish country, also where the whoopie pie is said to come from.

Having lived in England for nearly eight years, I have become interested in the origins of regional baked treats and local traditional dishes. Finding one that celebrated a local tradition in the US was quite exciting. I’m not aware that my hometown in California has a specialty, unless you count chain restaurants… hah!

Whoopies pre oven

Big cake cookies

The recommended filling for the Shoo-Fly Whoopies was a caramel frosting. All I can say – it was YUMMY!

Sugar for frosting

Frosting filling

My whoopies turned out GIANT sized, which I suppose is only a problem if you are watching your caloric intake. I have since halved the size of scoop to make much smaller whoopies so they are still an indulgent treat, but with less guilt.

Whoopies piled up high

Finished whoopie pies

Have you tried homemade whoopies yet? They are in a different league to anything you might find in the store, now matter how much the label says you can taste the difference.

Like most of you, I have been glued to my television watching the summer sporting event that only comes around every four years, where athletes from all over the world compete for gold, silver and bronze. It definitely has ‘inspired a generation’, especially in our household. G has even signed up for swimming lessons, determined to be the next Michael Phelps in the 2024 games (see last photo).

A week prior to the global festivities starting, we went on holiday to Cornwall and stumbled across the latest phenomenon – paddle boarding. We were lucky enough to witness what looked like a ‘flash mob’ paddle board race. The participants just appeared from no where, lined up and took off into the sea! Although, not an featured sport yet in the Games, it sparked and inspired us to embrace our love of swimming and get in the pool.

Boards at the ready

Whistle blows

Hitting the waves

Paddle board entourage

Paddle balance

Artistic wave

And a final addition of the inspired swimmer…

Inspired swimmer

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Although this is a little belated, going camping the first time with my family was one of the highlights of my summer. I have fond memories of camping as a child at Folsom Lake and hoped to introduce the same joy to my son. I didn’t want anything fancy, nothing with ‘holiday park’ in the name or a place that heavily featured caravans. All I wanted was something in the woods with a water source nearby (lake, river, pond, sea) and a flushing toilet.

I hopped on the Cool Camping website and happened across Haddon Grove in Derbyshire. It ticked all of the boxes, was VERY reasonable… none of this deposit melarky or two night minimum. (I don’t really get the two night minimum thing, why is it so hard to get that we only want to camp for one night. There is only one night in the weekend, really. People work on Friday and they have to work on Monday, all we want to do is set up camp on a Saturday morning and break it down on Sunday… anyway, rant over.)

So, having chosen our destination, we borrowed the necessary gear from my in laws and tried our hands at camping. Thankfully, the weather worked in our favour!

home sweet home

Haddon Grove is two fields away from Lathkill Dale. If you’re into panoramic and dramatic views, this place is incredible.

At the top of the mountain

We decided to descend into the gorge, searching for rocks and minerals, and also to see the river that ran through.

Heading Down Into Lathkill Dale

G Hikes Lathkill Dale

After a long hike, there’s nothing better than relaxing by a river. This one happened to be closer in town. As I had never been to Derbyshire before, we took the opportunity to explore the local area. Bakewell is definitely one of my new favourite towns.

By The River Derwent

S’mores are synonymous with camping. I recently introduced G to the wonders of S’mores on Bonfire night, but it is a must for camping. Unfortunately, the top of Lathkill Dale can be a bit windy so our little disposable BBQ wasn’t going to do the job. Instead, we made do with the gas cooker to toast the marshmallows.

roasting marshmallows

G tucks into a smore

The next best thing about camping is breakfast. I love sitting out in the fresh air sipping coffee as the world wakes up and nothing beats bacon sandwiches cooked in the outdoors.

Camping bacon

Bacon and egg sarnie for breakfast

As we packed up to leave on Sunday, I snapped the view through the trees from the place we called home for the weekend.

View from our campsite

From our camping experiment, we discovered that yes, The Whiteman 3 are definitely campers. In fact the next weekend we went out and bought our own tent! Haddon Grove is the perfect place for us and we’ll definitely be back. If only the weather would co-operate!

Water Baby

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