Tag Archives: chocolate

Christmas Countdown Sundries

Vanessa with advent calendar

Photo Credit: Vanessa-Jane Chapman 2014

Let me start by asking you the question on everyone’s lips at this time of year – where do you stand on Brussels sprouts? And I don’t mean literally, like when you accidentally stand on a cooked one on the kitchen floor and it squishes on to the bottom of your foot creating a dangerously slippery surface on your slipper-sole. No, I am of course enquiring as to whether you love ’em or hate ’em? There is a genetic reason why some people hate them (Google it), and the Brussels sprouts hating gene is apparently present in about 50% of people, so that explains why this festive veg divides opinions as it does. Let’s see if the 50% split applies here (I’m in the love ’em half myself) –

Now that you’ve done that, you might like to read a funny post about Brussels sprouts from the ever-entertaining Mike Allegra.

Now that we’ve covered sprouts, let’s cover this poor man with a hot warm towel!

Polar bear plunge

Polar bear plunge Calgary 2013. Photo credit: Sue Slaght

Fancy doing this icy plunge yourself? Beautiful as it looks, I think I’ll leave it to my amazing blogging friend Sue Slaght from Travel Tales of Life. On New Year’s Day, she and her husband Dave are doing a polar plunge into the icy water pictured above. They are taking part in the 6th annual Calgary Ice Breaker Polar Dip  to help raise money for the SA (Servants Anonymous) Foundation  who work to stop human trafficking. Sue explains more here  and her fundraising page is here.  Good luck Sue and Dave!

Right, so I’ve given a shout-out to Mike, and to Sue, now who was the other person I wanted to give a shout-out to? It’s on the tip of my tongue…think, think, think….oh yes! It’s me! Those of you who don’t follow my Sugarness recipe blog, won’t have seen the recipe for these Baileys chocolates I posted a few days ago –

Baileys chocolates

Photo credit: Vanessa-Jane Chapman 2014

I was rather pleased with how they came out, and with the gift boxes I found to pack them up in. There’s still time for you to make them as last-minute gifts, oh yes there is! Click here for recipe. No, no, absolutely no need to thank me, just send cash.

And finally another question – how come you never hear anything about the tenth reindeer ‘Olive’? You know, “Olive the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names.”

(I know, groan!).

Well, festive wishes to those who want them, and see you in 2015!


The time I secretly shared a box of chocolates with a mouse

Elephant and mouse sharing

I feel the need for a little true confession today. It all started with a box of chocolates that I had brought in to work. It was one of those tall pass-it-around-and-share-it boxes of individually wrapped assorted chocolates. I passed it around. We shared. After four or five chocolates had been taken, someone reached in and pulled out an empty wrapper. Strange. I peered into the box, and there was another empty wrapper. Not nice flat wrappers, but crumpled up ones, still twisted at one end. I delved in further, then horror of horrors, I found a half unwrapped chocolate with what looked like little tiny nibble marks in it. And then another partly nibbled one…and another!

“A mouse must have got into the box!” Someone cried.

“Impossible!” I shouted. “I’ve only just opened the box now from new and there are no holes in it or anything!”

“Well a mouse must have got to them in the factory then,” somebody else suggested.

“You must complain Vanessa, you must write to the company and complain!” They told me. I knew they were right, but first I asked the question that was on everyone’s lips, or so I thought, but it turned out it was only on my lips…

“Should we eat the other chocolates anyway first? You know, the perfectly good ones that still have the wrapping intact?”

Everyone was aghast. “Noooo!!!!” They cried. “Noooo!!!”

“But they are perfectly good!” I protested.

“They’re not perfectly good Vanessa, they are contaminated! The whole box is contaminated!”

I reluctantly conceded that they were right, I must eat no more, I must instead complain. I shoved the box into my bottom desk drawer, fully intending to write a complaint letter later. But instead I forgot all about them. Until a few weeks later when I was searching for something, and opened the bottom drawer. My eyes lit up, for a second…

Chocolates!…Oh wait..no…they’re the mouse chocolates…I was supposed to complain about them. I expect it’s too late now. I should probably just throw them away…only…there’s some perfectly good chocolates still in there, and none of us got ill from the ones we ate before…plus, there’s no actual evidence that it’s mice, it could just be mechanical damage…yes, that’s it, mechanical damage, so…

I looked up and glanced around. Everyone was busy, nobody was looking my way. I reached into the box, and pulled one out, I held it under my desk and looked at it. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s perfectly good. I slowly and quietly unwrapped it and popped it into my mouth. And so it went on. Over the next two or three weeks, when nobody was looking, whenever I got a hankering for chocolate, I would slowly and quietly reach into my box of mouse chocolates, pull one of the fully wrapped ones out and eat it. Until they were all gone. And nobody knew.

And not once when I had run out of the fully wrapped ones, and had a desperate craving for chocolate, did I take out one of the half nibbled ones, and have my own little nibble from the other, perfectly good, end. Not once, because that would be a step too far…right?

photo credit: HikingArtist.com via photopin cc

Three tips to stop the kids from eating your chocolate

Chocolate bar

After all the scary spider and alien talk in my last post I thought I’d talk about something a little more pleasant today, chocolate. If you don’t have kids, then you probably don’t realise how tricky it can be for parents to indulge in their favourite naughty snacks when they don’t want the kids to have any. If you’re a parent, you know what I’m talking about. The frantic shoveling of goodies into your mouth while the kids are distracted by something, the secret stash you keep in the car. We have to get sneaky right? Here are my three tips for stopping the kids from eating your chocolate:

1. Find a really good hiding place for it

I’m going to save you the trouble of trying to find your own really good hiding place. After years of failed experimentation, you can take it from me that I have found THE best hiding place for your chocolate. Are you ready for it? It’s inside an empty cereal box, of a variety of cereal that the kids don’t like. You can then safely leave the box in the cupboard next to the rest of the cereal, and they won’t touch it. The added advantage with this is that if you’re bored you can amuse yourself by waving the box at the kids and saying “Are you sure you don’t want any of this?”. It’s such fun, try it.

All Bran

2. Lie to them about what you’re eating

Of course you can only get away with this while they are still young enough to believe every word you say, and you should take advantage of that whenever you can. Try one of these phrases, or come up with one of your own:

“This? No, this isn’t chocolate, this is a brown vegetable bar”.

“Oh no, you wouldn’t like this type of chocolate, it’s very spicy”.

“This is a special chocolate bar that only adults are allowed to eat, you can have some if you want, but if the police find out you could be in trouble”.

3. Teach them about alternatives

Teach your kids that healthy snacks such as nuts, seeds, and apples can be every bit as delicious as chocolate…oh who am I kidding? I don’t even believe that myself. Ok, so it turns out I only had two tips then, but they’re pretty good ones right?

Mars BarGreen and Blacks chocolateCurly Wurly

I know this all might seem very cruel, but remember it is for their own good – you don’t want them eating all that fat and sugar, not when you want it all for yourself anyway.

Happy chocolate eating!

Chocolate and beautiful gardens

Here are the latest two ‘Day in the life’ articles I wrote for the Canterbury Index magazine. The first was published in the February edition and the second in March. You should be able to view a larger (readable!) version of the articles by clicking on them, but If not, I’ve posted a link to the online version of the magazines below the pictures. One of the best things about writing these articles is getting to interview such varied and interesting people. Then the challenge is trying to capture the essence of what they do in only 250 words.

Canterbury Index magazine cover Feb 12Magazine article about Sandrine May

Canterbury Index magazine March 23 coverMagazine article about Lesley Dawes

Direct links:

Canterbury Index February 2012 – Article is on page 17

Canterbury Index March 2012 – Article is on page 48