Having recently rediscovered artist dates (I’m actually reading the Artist’s Way now, along with two friends, and it is so far both wonderful and a bit uncomfortable), and with the studio now finished enough to work in, I’ve been collecting ideas of what I can do with precious alone time.
There’s lots on there from the general list of things I want to do in 2017, but the one that caught my eye this afternoon when I returned home from spending Sunday with my parents was UNICORN BARK.
Chocolate bark is quite an American thing, I think, but chocolate is chocolate whichever side of the ocean you’re on, and when you can make it swirly, sparkly and pastel coloured, I’m definitely in.
It’s also easy and quick, which given everything I should be doing other than making chocolate, is a good thing!
Good quality white chocolate (I used Menier, and made a mini 100g bar of bark for this first run)
Food colouring in the colours of your choice (I went for purple, pink and blue. Online opinion says you should have oil based candy colouring. I couldn’t find this in a hurry, so went for Dr Oetker gel colours which worked fine!)
Greaseproof/waxed paper (I used foil/parchment which I believe was from Aldi)
Hundreds and thousands, glitter, sparkly sugar bits (all optional – mine were bronze sugar pieces from Waitrose which I had lurking in my cupboard)
Line a shallow container with your waxed paper.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a pan of water on the hob. If you’re using the microwave, do it in 15 or 20 second bursts, or you’ll do what I did with the first bar, burn the bottom and end up with inedible crispy chunks in your chocolate. And wasted chocolate is practically a crime!
When smooth and stirrable, split between three or more bowls – one for each colour.
Working fairly quickly, mix your food colouring into each bowl. I used about five drops of the gel colour to get this strength, which I’d say is strong pastel – you can adjust as you fancy.
Dollop the coloured chocolate randomly into the waxed paper tray, swirl around a bit with a fork.
Sprinkle with your choice of toppings, then leave to cool (not in the fridge as this can do weird things to the chocolate’s finish).
When it’s properly cool, break into pieces.
And voila… unicorn bark!
Pssst! Looking for gorgeous brand images of your own creative work? Come and visit me over at my business & branding photography site and let’s make gorgeous images from your creative goodness!
January 6th saw the very first of our annual craft swaps (though I’m not sure we can wait a whole year for the next one) – organised by Mimi, the idea was that all nine of us would make enough of whatever we chose for each participant to go home with one. It ended up in January by accident, but we think we’ll keep it there as it’s so lovely to have something to look forward to after Christmas!
The edible things were long gone before I had a chance to photograph them, teehee – wonderful alcohol-infused vegan chocs from Annastasia at Midorigreen, and yummy chocolate fridge cake from Helen. The button magnets (genius!!) from Mimi also escaped my photo shoot as they’re adorning my filing cabinet/noticeboard in the studio!
My contribution? Kilner jars decoupaged with pin up ladies (Elvgren paintings, as he’s my favourite pin up artist) and filled with cutters, a tiny pot of ginger, my favourite gingerbread recipe and glitter. Of course 🙂
It was a wonderful afternoon, full of tea and giggles and happiness, and we all went home sparkling with the joy of friendship and sharing things we’d made… a rare achievement for a grey day in January, I don’t usually sparkle much straight after Christmas!
I loved seeing how everyone interpreted “make something” differently – we had no duplicates, and I was amazed all over again at the talent within this group of women I’m so proud to be part of!
I can’t for the life of me find the PDF of the gingerbread recipe – will put it up if I locate it!
I’m still rushing around in a tearing hurry (but oh, such a good feeling to be hurrying for myself!) so here are some snippets of things that have made me happy over the last week or two…
Ink Drops orders – I cannot wait to see reactions from the first batch of boxes, which ship on 14 December;
Treats – I went to Waitrose and accidentally came home with two tubs of Haagen Dazs ice cream (they were on special, it would have been rude not to) and the utterly gorgeous Montezuma’s mint chocolate… it’s expensive, but worth it 🙂
Being given the go-ahead to join student dance classes from January, as both a dancer and a photographer. I’ll be dancing in ballet and hopefully working up to pointe class, which will inform a couple of burlesque routines I am plotting and choreographing. The photography is a project I’ve wanted to start for ages, but have never had access to dancers en masse before now… so I’m very excited!
The arrival of my new dishwasher… it’s been here a little less than 48 hours and has already changed my life… I have no idea how I survived without one for so long!
Adding to my homeware and finally having a theme – turquoise and purple seems to be across my kitchen and living room/dining area, while blue and vivid pink dominate my bedroom, and black and white in the bathroom. I can live with that – they all reflect different bits of me. Here is a teal tablecloth, which will definitely get embellished and altered, and some cheap but pretty purple tea towels. Currently being ignored in favour of my Christmas ones!
I’ve done more fairs, and enjoyed every moment of them – in the time i took out, I’d forgotten how much I enjoy meeting people. Also had a wonderful coincidence at the Leigh fair, bumping into three lovely ladies (a mum and her two daughters) who Lou and I had met in Spitalfields in the summer, while trying on clothes in Collectif. They popped up at the fair and it was a fabulous moment! Here’s me with my stall (and my hastily-altered dress… it’s strapless, and it was FREEZING, quite literally, on Saturday… so a lace top was added!)
Lovely, lovely evenings with my parents – particularly in this run up to Christmas, they and I have been decorating new places and new trees and sharing decorations and it’s AMAZING. I love that they live so close, and my Christmas spirit is very much present and correct this year!
Putting the world to rights with friends – in person, on the phone and over Skype, it’s all rather soul-nourishing. Inspiration is all over the place and I think 2013 may be the best year yet!
On a more profound note, two people have, without any prompting at all, told me I’m brave this week, and a dear friend said I appreciated and savoured life more than anyone else she knew, and that I “do the things everyone else just talks about”. If you’ve been reading this blog for longer than a month, you’ll know that’s in no way always been the case, and that comment has stayed with me all week – alternately making me want to shriek in triumph, and cry with happiness. Glorious.
I’ve also noticed, and I don’t think this is particularly worthy of its own post, that lots of bloggers I follow have been wondering whether to continue, fretting about their readers or lack thereof, and worrying about what they post if it’s less than their best writing (because this is apparently what ‘real’ or ‘big’ bloggers recommend). Here seems as good a place as any for me to gently but unwaveringly reaffirm that Ducking Fabulous is my little home on the web. I am beyond delighted to have you, lovely readers, along for the ride, but as you have probably gathered, there is no particular focus, and there is more waffle than well-thought-out, profound writing. I make no apologies for this, as I believe blogging should be something you do because you enjoy it, and you do for you… if you stop writing what you truly want to write, your blog loses its soul. Readers usually follow because they liked what you were already writing, or at least that’s why I follow the blogs that I do.
I’m not offended when people unfollow me, whether it’s here, on Twitter or anywhere else – I assume it’s because whoever it is is no longer interested in what I’m saying. And that’s fine. Conversely, I am RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED whenever WordPress, Twitter or Pinterest tells me I have a new follower, because the chances are their blog, feed or boards will be something I also want to read or follow. And that, for me, is by far the beauty and biggest strength of the social web – finding likeminded people you’d never have known before the internet existed.
All photographs are my own – the one of me was taken by the fabulous Val, who was a brilliant Ducking Fabulous ambassador on Saturday! Don’t forget to have a quick nose at the shop, or pop into Tea & Sympathy (Colchester) or Make Do & Mend (Chelmsford), both of whom are currently stocking DF jewellery. I’ll be at the Vintage and Makers Market on Saturday 8th December in Chelmsford
town city centre, and last order dates for Christmas are 8 December for the EU and 16 December for the UK – my official rest-of-world last order date has passed, though I will still do my best to get things to you in time for Christmas 🙂
My final day in London was 26th October. I was rather tearful and overwhelmed, having been entirely unexpectedly presented with a lovely card, a vintage mannequin (they know me well) and THE BIGGEST KIT KAT IN THE WORLD (you think I’m joking… look at it!! Was very touched that my director had bid on it in a charity auction for me.)
You can see the mannequin, now named Delilah, in the background of an Ink Drops promo pic here…
and the KitKat here, all three kilos of it, and better photos coming soon. My plan is to photograph it properly and then take it home for Christmas so the kids can help me eat it. With a hammer. It would be a shame not to eat it!
Caroline helped me carry all my stuff to St Paul’s station, and then I hopped on a tube, hopped on a train for the final time and headed home to shower, collect Poppy and drive up to Nottingham. Rob had promised to have celebratory cocktails at the ready, though the fact that I didn’t get there till twenty to one in the morning scuppered my plans to drink lots, lol!
On Saturday we popped to town and accidentally helped break a Guiness World Record (for the most people doing a science experiment at the same time – slime and rockets, what’s not to love?!), experimented with Shakeaway and tried not to buy the whole of Lakeland, and then went home to celebrate some more by cooking ridiculous amounts of food…
Recipes and the beginnings of chicken & tarragon pie…
We might have cheated a tiny bit with the pastry but doing a good job of pretending to be proud, no?!
Finished pie!! It was AMAZING.
(yes, extra big pic, I was proud of the pie)
And I wanted to test my new spoons mould from Lakeland… with chocolate orange…
Never miss an opportunity to pose like an idiot, me…
And just in case you’re interested, this is what four chocolate spoons look like when I’ve accidentally eaten the one I was posing with. (I’m actually quite excited about the concept of doing these in marbled chocolate to go with dessert for dinner parties…) The chocolate orange stays softer once it’s been melted and mixed, so they were very
dangerously moreish pleasant when set.
It was gloriously relaxing and a lovely way to mark the end of my London adventures and start my new life… and I finished it by meeting Anna in Loughborough for dinner, and Dad unexpectedly joined us for a drink too, to break his journey.
All round lovely 😀
I’m finding it increasingly hard to believe we’re still in a drought and still have a hosepipe ban – it has done nothing but rain for days!
My weekend has been rather lovely though – went to see Mum & Dad’s new flat, including their thoroughly gorgeous blue sofas and Dad’s reading lamp – wish I could sneak that out without anyone noticing, hehe (the flat is not ready to move into yet, but it’s getting there!):
I ran around town buying last minute stuff for the next three weekends (uni reunion in Loughborough over the bank holiday, Julia’s hen do in Paris and canal boat trip with Rob and friends) including surprises for Jules and a proper waterproof jacket – lol!
(hmm – no photo, waterproofs are not flattering. But hopefully will keep me dry!)
Then saw lovely Sharon and had icecream to celebrate having tried on the bridesmaids dress and found it now does up. Yup, my weight loss worked – but after this weekend I’m now fairly convinced it doesn’t fit again, lol! Back to le diet tomorrow… sigh. Loooong phone catch up with Lou, designed my business cards which I’ll order this week and was generally very productive. Although did nearly get flattened in the car park by wind and rain (which seems a tad unfair, if you’re going to be flattened in a car park you’d expect it to be by some large and impressive vehicle, surely?!)
Today I hibernated and worked on Ducking Fabulous until the rain stopped, and then I went for coffee with Wendy with the roof down – squeee! We went to Thorntons, it was lush:
And as we left, I left the water-themed keyring I’d made for the Out of the Blue Curiosity Project (which I talked about in this post) on the table – I hope someone picks it up!
I’ve had worse tasks than testing these to see if they’re ok to send to clients!