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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The London Chocolate Festival

A note from Joelle... 

♫ ♪ 'Chocolate' - The 1975 ♫ ♪

The London Chocolate Festival 2014

 Even though I don't necessarily have a sweet tooth, I practically jumped at the chance when I was invited down the London leg of the Chocolate Festival! Why? Well, there's something everyone finds comforting about chocolate. It's not just for girls going through heartbreak, it's different for everyone and we all have our favourite types and favourite ways to eat and drink it!
The London Chocolate Festival 2014
I rocked up to the Business Design Centre near Angel with my little sister,Kelly to join in with the chocolatey festivities.
The London Chocolate Festival 2014
 Even on the last day of the event, the place was packed from the start - with groups also buying tickets on the day.
With a brochure thrust into my hand, Kelly and I both knew where we wanted to go first - MACARONS!
Everyone in my family loves them. In fact, we are all pretty mad about macarons! We have a book with recipes and a macaron-maker, but I'm far too scared to try and make them myself after my sister's failed attempt!
The London Chocolate Festival 2014
To cut a long story short...... we bought 11 each! Pistachio, salted caramel (the best!), vanilla (the second best!), passion fruit and raspberry
The London Chocolate Festival 2014
We were very happy with our new treasures, as you can see!
The London Chocolate Festival 2014
I'm quite fussy when it comes to macarons (can I sound anymore Surrey?), but Macarons By Babette did me proud!
The London Chocolate Festival 2014
You have to take the longest, slowest bites with macarcons so that they last just that extra bit longer.
 And there were tonnes of quirky gifts to, like this chocolate turntable. Perfect for anyone's hipster friend! 
The London Chocolate Festival 2014
The most delicious vodka ever. Toffee flavoured vodka sounds really sickly and sweet, but it's really something else. As a real vodka-lover, it gets 8/10 from me!
The London Chocolate Festival 2014
The were talks every hour from Chocolate Masters who spoke more in depth about flavours, quality, locations and production - with samples too!
The London Chocolate Festival 2014
Cookie dough bar!!! Yes, yes, YES!!
The London Chocolate Festival 2014
The London Chocolate Festival 2014
The London Chocolate Festival 2014
Meringues the size of my head with crushed macarons mixed into it = heaven!
The London Chocolate Festival 2014
A £1 coin dropped into a tarte citron I was going to by (making totes un-instagrammable!), so the guy gave me 50p off!
The London Chocolate Festival 2014
It was clearly our lucky day!
 Next up was Nude Coconuts, a company dishing up chilled, fresh coconuts and natural skincare products
The London Chocolate Festival 2014
The London Chocolate Festival 2014
The London Chocolate Festival 2014
After we slurped up all the refreshing water, we went back to have our coconuts cut in half so we could taste the jelly!
The London Chocolate Festival 2014

The pink flesh means it's a younger coconut, as it will eventually turn white. There's no real difference in flavour
The London Chocolate Festival 2014

Kelly's face says it all - it was delicious! (and also packed with nutrients)
The London Chocolate Festival 2014
We roamed around for another few hours, sampling drinks, bites and getting pampered at the cocoa spa! Someone has to do it, right?;)
The London Chocolate Festival 2014
Thanks so much to my pals at LivingSocial for inviting me down! We learnt so much and are true chocoholics now!

*outake: "errrrrrmahgerd, that macaron is so good!"
Have you ever been to anything like this? 

Friday, 12 December 2014

Season's Eatings:Joelle's #JollyJelly Festive Trifle

A note from Joelle... 
Hi guys!
The folks at Hartley's sent me some of their new Black Cherry jelly and challenged me to make a festive trifle!
I had never actually made a trifle before today, but you know me, I love a challenge! So here's what I made...
#JollyJelly Festive Trifle Challenge
You will need:
 - Hartley's Black Cherry Jelly - wonderfully festive and tastes amazing in a trifle (and on it's own... I might have made some vodka jellies with it as well!)
 - Custard
 - Trifle Sponges
 - Gingersnap biscuits (optional)
 - Fresh Raspberries 
 - Hartley's Jam (strawberry or raspberry)
 - Glace Cherries
 - Grated Dark chocolate - chocolate and cherries go so well together!

 - Read the packet instructions to make the jelly
 - For the Syrup: 300g fresh raspberries (save a few for decoration!) and add half a pot of Hartley's Jam into a saucepan
- Cook on a medium heat for 5-10 mins before removing from the heat and leaving on the side to cool right down
 - For the custard: I used instant custard powder, nutmeg, semi-skimmed milk, 2 tbsp caster sugar and vanilla extract.
 - Whisk all the ingredients up in a saucepan until a smooth paste and then whack up the heat and continue to stir and add more milk when it gets thick
 - when smooth and a good thickness, leave to cool, but carry on stirring so it doesn't get that weird skin on the top`
#JollyJelly Festive Trifle Challenge
At the base: blitzed gingersnap biscuit crumbs and trifle sponges (ripped up)
Raspberry syrup
Glace cherries
Hartley's Black Cherry Jelly
Whipped Cream (I didn't use it this time around, but it's good)
Grated dark chocolate/fruit on the top
#JollyJelly Festive Trifle Challenge
Check out the Hartley's Facebook for more #JollyJelly ideas!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Christmas Wishlist

A note from Joelle... 
So many people ask me what I want for Christmas and I always give them the same vague answer and shrug my shoulders. For me, I just like receive what they think I'd like, as it's the thought that counts at the end of the day.
But whilst I've been online shopping for other people's presents, I have found some lovely things that might make it a wee bit easier for my family/friends! It's incredibly random!
Book (hardback)
Sex & The City Poster (don't judge!)

Thursday Thoughts: Why Boobs Aren't News

A note from Joelle... 

♫ ♪ 'Step On' - Happy Mondays ♫ ♪

Breasts/boobs/tits/jugs, we've all seen and heard of their existence. We know that they come in all shapes, colours and sizes and we all know that their natural, biological use is for newborn babies, providing them with essential nutrients. They are human udders, basically.

So why, in a 'family magazine' like The Sun are topless young women spread across Page 3 with their boobs hanging out.... in 2014? And WHY is it stocked at eye-level for under 18s? I, like many men and women have huge problems with this.

Here are a few reasons why Page 3 has to go:

1. We are not in the 1970s anymore - sleaziness of all sorts ran free in this decade and we know that all too well this decade as people are finally being held accountable, some 40 years later. During this decade of greed and sleaze, Page 3 became a 'thing'. Putting large images of topless teenagers (that's right, 16s and 17-year-olds were used until 2003), in a newspaper that prided itself as being 'for all the family', young and old is pretty scary. 
Rupert Murdoch and other publishing magnates need to realise what decade and century we are currently in. Gone are the days where clearly sexist content can just be brushed under the carpet.

2. Body image - Page 3 models really do influence both young boys and girls, even though no one will admit it due to embarrassment. That's normal. But here's what isn't normal: Some boys think that fake breasts, airbrushed skin and a tiny waist are what make a girl desirable and lust after that idea of 'perfect'. They assume breasts are nothing more than sexual parts for them to ogle at and then as a result, find it uncomfortable when seeing mothers feeding their babies in public (cough, cough, Farage).
And young girls? Over 70% develop body insecurities early on in life (even before puberty). Young girls don't even get a chance to develop a healthy body image, a positive attitude towards their bodies and their equal worth as a human being with soft porn in newspapers being so easily accessible for them to come across (even if it is by accident).
It may not be totally obvious, but when children come across Page 3, it turns the naked body from something of beauty and nature into a simple, sexual thing. Then begins the cycle of body comparison, jealousy and low self-esteem. 
I am not saying that Page 3 is the sole cause of this, but it's a cause that could easily be removed to break this cycle.
It's an issue that a lot of males find hard to believe exists because if did not happen (as much) to them growing up.

3. 'Consumer Choice' - Everyone's favourite geezer, David Cameron chose not to support the ban on Page 3, stating that it is a 'consumer choice'. But it wasn't a choice, was it, Dave? Where was the market research in 1970, asking if the people of Britain wanted topless teenagers posing suggestively in their family newspaper? No one asked for it. But, back in 1069, Rupert Murdoch and his team at The Sun  needed to up circulation (it was very unpopular back then), so added some bare breasts to get people "talking" again.
And seeing as Cameron is backing more regulations for online pornography, so that children are protected, why is he ignoring the more blatant form of soft porn?
Something very shady is going on...

I know there are a lot of people who say "it's not sexist. The Page 3 models choose to get their boobs out and they are in control."
I was one of those people who thought this a while ago. I guess a part of feminism is owning and being in control of ones body, right?
 But that isn't what's happened here. It's a cycle where some women have been told to look/act a certain way in order to either get employment or get noticed. But is it other women telling them to embrace their figures and reach for their dreams? No. It's people who cash into low self-esteems and they are the real people in control, not the woman buying into all of this stuff.
It's a very sneaky psychological trap that a lot of women in this model industry find themselves in without realising. They are not in control of anything.
And of course it's sexist! If it wasn't where are the topless men? It seems that having women without clothes on is perfectly fine, because it pleases men, but The Sun wouldn't dream of using male topless models. Because then the page would be sleazy or even 'so gay' as one man I was talking to about this subject put it.
You may also think; "There are more important things to worry about than a little page in a newspaper", but again, think of the bigger picture. Women in the UK have a serious body image issue - yes every single one of us females. 
It's a pandemic that very few people want to admit to and it spreads from one generation to the next. 
And if we can eliminate one of the causes, perhaps the future generation won't have to go through what we've been through. Maybe they can have peace of mind that when they grow up, their achievements and talents will speak louder than the size of their breasts or the shape of their arse.

With nearly a quarter of a million signatures on their petition, it's time to stand up and make a change. As women in 2014, it's time to stop letting The Sun and other publications getting away with exploiting women and treating them like sex objects.
The No More Page 3 campaign does not oppose glamour modelling at all. However, the sight of bare breasts in a magazine that prides itself on being 'for all the family' is pretty horrific. 

You can sign the petition HERE.

The Sun is has been putting out the same message for almost 50 years: it doesn't matter what a woman achieves in life, her main a role is to get her top off and sexually please men. Where's the evidence of this? Look back to 2012, men and women from Team GB achieved so many medals, but the largest images of women in The Sun were those of topless women.
We are making steps in the right direction though, as Paul Clarkson, editor of The Irish Sun stopped using topless models and they are now all clothed as of August 2013. However, just a few months before this, The new British Sun Editor, David Dinsmore was reported to have said that he wouldn't be replacing topless models with clothed ones because "it's a good way of selling newspapers" *tries not to vomit on my keyboard*.
If you like to look at soft porn, that's fine, each to their own. No More Page 3 does not object to that at all.
But the place for that is not in The Sun or any other tabloid that can be purchased by impressionable children. 

Soft porn should be in a soft porn magazine on the top of a shelf for only adults to buy and read.
We, as a generation and society have moved on from The Sleazy Seventies. And it's time The Sun did the same.