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6 Must-Visit Chocolatiers For The Traveling Sweet Tooth

Middlebury Chocolate with Andy Jackson” (CC BY 2.0) by Breville USA

Engaging in the cultural delights of the countries you visit on your travels defines the adventure. But everybody does the obvious ones – from visiting iconic historical buildings and grand natural landmarks to experiencing local cuisine and once-in-a-lifetime leisure activities.

But there’s one thing that binds us all and that’s a love of chocolate. And through this much-loved confectionary, the sweet-toothed traveler can bring a new dimension to their trip. Here are six must-see chocolatiers from around the world.

Jacques Torres in New York

Now boasting eight locations around New York, you’ll find it hard to miss Jacques Torres when visiting the city. It’s probably best to head to Torres’ Rockefeller Center chocolate shop. That way you can tick two things off your bucket list – eating Mr. Chocolate’s sugary delights and a visit to one of the city’s landmark locations.

Melange in London

Melange is different. Its reputation has been built on weird and wonderful flavour combinations. Now multi award-winning, Peckham-based artisan chocolatier Isabelle Alaya specialises in tantalizing the taste buds with a fascinating and surprising mix of spices, herbs and fruits in her handmade chocolate bars and truffles.


chocolates from Teuscher” (CC BY 2.0) by Alanna Risse

Teuscher in Zurich

Years of painstaking research have gone into making Teuscher one of the world’s great chocolatiers. Dolf Teuscher founded the business over 70 years ago, having travelled the world seeking the finest cocoa. Experimentation saw him develop unique flavour combinations with various ingredients, including marzipan, fruit and nuts, combining to forge a then-pioneering chocolate empire. Teuscher chocolates are now found all around the world but visiting its outlet in Zurich takes you back to where it all began.

Coro the Chocolate Café in Edinburgh

Coro the Chocolate Café doesn’t claim to be an expert chocolatier, but it does know how to make eating an exciting and unique experience. Boosted by Deliveroo  bringing its chocolatey delights direct to customers’ doors in Edinburgh, Coro’s aim is to deliver your chocolate fix in new and interesting ways. So you’ll see a menu brimming with choice that includes everything from crepes and fluffy waffles to ice cream, milkshakes and even savory items.

Debauve & Gallais in Paris

The oldest chocolate shop in Paris charts its beginnings back to 1800 when Sulpice Debauve founded what would become Napoleon’s official chocolate supplier. Debauve had been experimenting with chocolate for years, even curing Marie-Antoinette’s headaches with a remedy blended with cocoa butter. The company’s dark chocolate, some of which is 99% cocoa, is arguably the best you’ll taste anywhere in the world.

Belle Fleur in Sydney

Belle Fleur might be better known as the chocolate sculpture experts but there’s still a winning combination of aesthetic imagination and delicious flavour. With exciting combinations of ingredients, from fresh lemon meringue with white chocolate ganache and whipped cream topping to local favourite The Aussie, which sees a salted ganache smothered in dark chocolate, Belle Fleur has plenty to interest a sweet tooth.

Our whistle-stop tour of international chocolatiers showcases a few select artisans and their imaginative approach to satisfying the taste buds. Travel doesn’t have to be all museums, tall buildings and 22-hour bus journeys – it can also mean chocolatey indulgence.

What to Consider When Buying a Family Car

We’re at that stage again where we need to start thinking about buying a new car; we’ve had our current car for just over a year, but it wasn’t exactly brilliant even when we bought it, and we’re desperate for a vehicle with more space. We’ve been thinking about what sort of car we want and we’ve got some pretty specific criteria, so I thought I’d share them with you in case you’re in the same position:

New or Used?

While it’s tempting to go for a new car, the fact is that used cars probably offer better value. New cars decrease in value the second you drvie them off of the forecourt and often have teething troubles, all of which are usually resolved by the time they’re sold on. Unbeatablecar have some great used cars on offer.

Function

What are you planning to use your car for? We do a lot of milage each week, doing a long school run on country roads, so we’re planning to upgrade to an SUV-style car, but if you only do a few miles a week on mainly urban roads, you could probably go for something small like a Fita 500.

Space

How many seats do you need? Do you need a lot of boot space? Is an estate car for you or would a hatchback suffice? There are only 4 of us (plus Maureen) but we’d love to be able to fit more people in the car, so a 7-seater with decent boot space would be ideal.

Fuel

Our current car is petrol, but if we opt for an SUV, we’ll probably end up buying a diesel, however it’s worth remembering that older diesel cars will be taxed higher than newer ones, so brushing up on the new laws will be essential before we spend a lot of money.

Features

When you buy an older car, it’s often possible to get one with better features for less money. Our ideal car is a Volvo XC90 and many of them come fully kitted-out with luxury features, costing WAY less when you buy second hand.

What would be an absolute must for you when buying a new family car? Leave me a comment below.

Getting Your Family Ready for Halloween

Summer has settled, school is in swing, and fall has officially begun. Now that October is here, it’s time to start gearing up for Halloween. Planning for holidays can be fun, but it can also be cumbersome. As a busy mom, it’s easy to forget a few details. Here you’ll find an all-encompassing, step-by-step guide to prepare you and your family for Halloween.

Check the Calendar

Halloween falls on October 31st every year, but do you know what day of the week that is? For the record, this year, it’s a Tuesday. How might that change things? Mothers with young children have to consider a late night followed by an early school morning. Will that affect whether or not you let your child go trick-or-treating or attend a party? If so, check to see if there are any local community events over the preceding weekend that your child could experience instead. Great examples include trunk-or-treats in church parking lots or mall-sponsored giveaways. Also glance at the calendar to check for any events related to Halloween that take place within the weeks prior. Is the school having a Harvest Festival, and if so, do you need to set aside time to volunteer? Is there a costume contest you need to be aware of and prepare for in advance? Staying organized with your calendar will prevent last-minute panics. You don’t want to get caught on your heels or in a bind for procrastinating.

Act Early

Just like any holiday, the best practice is to act early. With a hectic schedule, this is much easier said than done. Try to do things little by little so you won’t feel so overwhelmed when you wind up decorating moments before trick-or-treaters start knocking on your door. Get those decorations down sooner than later, and slowly start putting things out as you have time. It’ll help your children get in the spirit and will lighten the burden by spacing it out. Going to the pumpkin patch is one of the best fall events to do as a family. If you wait too long, the best finds might be picked over—and the prices may be dramatically higher. Hold off on actually carving the pumpkins until the week of Halloween to avoid rot and decay, but secure your pieces early. Or, skip all the mess altogether and opt for alternative crafts instead. Be sure to avoid heading to the costume store with only a few days to spare. The selections and sizing are sure to be limited.

Pick Your Costumes

Decide whether you intend to buy new costumes this year, upcycle previous years’, or make something yourself. Setting a budget will make this decision easier. If you do plan to buy, consider using online retailers to save you time and money. Shopping online will allow you to compare prices and browse ideas. Give your child autonomy and let them exercise their own choice instead of choosing something on their behalf. As for yourself, jumpsuits make excellent choices for Halloween costumes for women. These onesies are easy, comfortable, and reusable as pajamas all year long. If you have toddlers or newborns, picking family-themed costumes are a fun way to stand out in the neighborhood. Some examples include the circus – with a ring leader, clown, and lion – or Disney cast members.

Stay Safe

One of the most important things as a mother is to ensure the safety of your family. Halloween time presents new obstacles and hurdles to look out for with increased pedestrian traffic, increasingly darker nights, and spikes in neighborhood vandalism. Take the time to sit down with your children and teach them proper safety tips, such as using sidewalks and always crossing at corners. Before trick-or-treating, consider lining their tote bags with reflective tape, purchasing glow sticks to wear around their neck, or investing in other safety products. Make sure you trust the area and that your child is always with a buddy or under supervision.

Halloween is a lot more involved than it used to be. It’s not just a day, it’s a season. If you take the time at the beginning of the month to plan properly, you and your family will thank you for it later.

A Look at the Many Benefits of Steel Buildings

steel buildingSteel buildings are some of the most durable and secure structures that one can invest in and their utility in real estate is expanding beyond just commercial constructions. This leads us to the question, what is it about steel buildings that contractors, builders, and business owners like so much? The answer to this question isn’t complicated really, as the benefits are quite apparent.

Durability

There’s a reason why steel is synonymous with strength and durability, so it’s no real surprise that a structure made almost entirely out of steel is going to be a very strong one.

Be it an earthquake, a hurricane, or a particularly heavy week of snow, steel buildings are hardly affected by natural calamities or the weather. Also, problems like termite infestations, rotting, splintering, cracking, etc., are non-existent issues in steel buildings.

Cost-Effective

A point to be noted here is that while there are manufacturing companies which offer steel buildings at incredibly low rates, it is best to avoid such products. The “too good to be true” price tag usually is a sign that the quality of the steel and the finishing will be of inferior quality. Choose a steel building manufacturer that charges you appropriately and has a market reputation because it will ultimately help you save money and effort.

Cheap steel structures need to be repaired far too often and the amount of maintenance necessary can be a long-term headache. A building constructed with high-quality Grade-A steel, on the other hand, hardly requires attention or upkeep. In general, though, all steel buildings are less expensive than their traditional alternatives.

Speed

A pre-engineered steel building is ready for shipment and delivery at the construction site as soon as the order goes through. Once the product is delivered at the site, all that is left to complete is the assembly process, which is very easy and hardly takes any time at all. In other words, erecting a steel building is the fastest way to have your structure ready for construction.

Versatility and Adaptability

The panels used in steel buildings are usually adjustable and customizable according to the customer’s specific instructions. This allows for flexibility and the option to easily expand the structure as required in the future. This is particularly useful for commercial structures such as warehouses where expansions and changes might be necessary down the line.

The model of your building should depend on its purpose and your future plans for expansion. Take your time in making the decision after going over all the options, but even if you do make a mistake, it’s much easier to remodel a steel building than one made out of wood or concrete.

Green Construction

Any general construction process is inherently very harmful to the environment and when the material used is primarily wood, the impact on our forests is quite obvious.

A steel structure, on the other hand, is completely recyclable and the erection process doesn’t leave any harmful residues that can contribute to environmental pollution. Even when you are planning to expand or remodel the building, no deforestation is necessary!

Keep The Kids Happy This Winter With An Exciting Austrian Retreat

If you’re looking for the ideal family holiday destination this winter, look no further than a Kristall Spaces property for sale within Austria. Boasting a gigantic range of illustrious apartments available to rent or buy, they host several luxury Alpine ski resorts across Austria, in some of the most scenic locations the country has to offer. You can enjoy the peace and quiet, go skiing with your family, and take part in a huge selection of activities and attractions – all you need to decide is what to do first!

Situated in some of the most beautiful regions of the Austrian Alps, each resort and its accompanying apartments boast every conceivable amenity for you and your family to enjoy, with winter activities such as skiing and snowboarding, indoor and outdoor heated pools, cinemas, restaurants, gyms, and underground parking. For the more summer-related ventures, abseiling, trekking and hiking are all popular choices. Each resort also has a ‘nursery slope’ intended for helping children learn how to ski, and there are many professional trainers and tutors available to help you get that head start and stay safe in the snow.

According to City A.M., there is a marked increase in the number of Brits looking to purchase property in Austria, citing the security of their property rental returns throughout the year. This makes Kristall Spaces properties incredibly versatile, since you can choose whether you simply want a short stay on rental, or an investment purchase that generates income while you’re away and increases in value at an average growth rate of 4.6%. That alone could pay for your child’s university fees!

Forbes also commented on the changes observed over the last few years, stating that many tourists now see Austria as a fantastic holiday destination in both the summer and winter months.

A similar sentiment was echoed by the Telegraph, in an article that encourages parents to take their children on a skiing holiday, and that such resorts are a lot more family-friendly than most people would believe.

There is already a diverse selection of resorts available on Kristall Spaces, with constant developments adding new apartments and resorts year after year. Destinations that already have their own resorts include Fieberbrunn, Ischgl, Karwendel, St Anton, Kühtai, Ötztal and Sölden.

This article was written by David Newman, owner of Ad Lab: an e-commerce magento website developer based in Hertfordshire. David has a keen interest in writing articles for lifestyle blogs and family matters, having recently become a family man himself.

The Basics of Floor Mopping

moppingFloor mopping is a simple, sustaining, and satisfying process when done with the most effective cleaning tools. The industrial mop system is often perceived as a rigorous, tedious process. However, it provides immense satisfaction if the right methods are used. The following industrial mopping procedure overviews the important components of the process, and best practices for maintaining hygienic floorcare.

The Basics: Investing in a Mop Kit

Mop kits offer an efficient means of cleaning floors–as they include the complete system needed for good fast and effective. Most kits comprise of a mop tool, a dust mop, and damp mop pads. Floorcare systems such as microfiber cleaning kits are known to offer thorough coverage, as each component of the kit yields elimination of bacteria, don’t require chemicals, and require less water. Since mop kits include a comprehensive set of products for the floor mopping process, it is no doubt that investing in a kit for industrial mopping is worth it.

Mopping Methods

Before beginning the mopping process, one key action that should be taken is vacuuming the floor. By doing so, significant debris and surface dirt will be removed.

There are two primary methods for using an industrial mop: wet mopping, and dry dust mopping. It is best to choose a mop based on the floor surface; for example, a sponge mop will complement a smooth surfaced floor, and a rag mop will suffice for a floor with high level of texture.

Wet mopping follows a fairly direct process, as it starts with soaking the mop under a faucet to soak in hot water, or using a mop solution such as a non-bleach cleaner. After soaking the mop, it is important to remove excess water to avoid over-wetting the floor surface. After draining excess water in a bucket, the mop should be damp and ready to clean. After mopping floors, it is critical to rinse the mop pads or put them in the washing machine for a thorough clean.

Although wet mopping seems to be a messy activity, it is extremely beneficial in that it can remove sticky liquids, stains, and everyday kitchen messes.

Dry dust mopping is the optimal method for removing microparticles, crumbs, pet hair, and dust balls–to name a few. It is the perfect way to attain clean hardwood floors! Dry map pads automatically attract dust and small particles. It is important to remember to utilize the power of the swivel heads of a mop, which are able to clean areas that are harder to access.

Similar to the process of wet mopping, once finished, simply pull the dry pad from the head of the map, and rinse the pad or place in the washing machine. For dry and wet mopping, microfiber products serve as very effective cleaning systems. Microfiber mops require a little bit of water, and they are set to clean. To see the effectiveness, it is recommended to start with dry mops.

After using the mop, it is vital to allow the mop to dry thoroughly before storing. This eliminates any risk of bacterial growth. It is best to store the mop in a cool, dry location. The mop should be replaced once there are visible signs of wearing.

Wrapping Up

As seen in the two methods, industrial mopping utilizing the right tools and methods can yield a clean and thriving floor in the home. The main idea is that proper care for the mop, and using strong materials such as microfiber products are what ensure a safe and impactful cleaning system in the long run.

How to Create an Elegant Loft Room

Extending into the loft is a really great way to make the most of the space you have available to you. There is, however, a tendency for loft roofs to feel ‘tacked on’ or unlike a proper room, especially if they’re still used for storage to some extent. There are lots of ways to make loft rooms feel more cohesive, so I thought I’d share a few of them with you now.

Fabrics

Using specific fabrics is a great way to give a room a more homely feel, and can also help you to tie the décor in with the rest of the house. Opting for blinds in an elegant fabric, which you can buy from VELUX Roof Windows shop, as well as rugs and maybe a beautifully-upholstered armchair, will add a stylish look to any room, even if it’s up in the rafters.

Flooring

If you’ve ever lived in a flat with an upstairs neighbour who has laminate flooring, you’ll be all too aware of how NOISY it can be to live beneath it. The same will be true in a loft room, especially if you’re trying to sleep underneath a room which is used as some sort of office or workshop. Thick carpet will make a room warmer, will absorb sound and will also give a more plush feel to the space – as well as saving the sanity of whomever is below you!

Fitted Cupboards

Often, a room the the loft will have limited ceiling space or sloping areas which can be really hard to furnish. Opting for fitted cupboards within the eaves will give the room a really sleek finish, will address the issues of not being able to fit conventional furniture into unconventional spaces and will also maximise the space that you have available to you for storage, etc.

Multi-functional Furniture

In the past, the options for multi-functional furniture were really limited, but there’s been a real boom in that area recently thanks to the ‘tiny house’ movement. If you want to use a loft room as a bedroom cum study cum workroom or some other functional space, otping for furniture which is both bed and desk could save you space and also allow you to make more of a definite statement about what the room is for while you’re using it – nothing worse than seeing pending work scattered everywhere while you’re trying to sleep, nor the enticing sight of a cosy be while you’re trying to be productive!

Get Arty!

Investing in some wall art can really break up a space and make it feel more like a proper living area, rather than just a room in the loft. You don’t have to spend a fortune, or you could even ask your kids to paint a big canvas for you – colour is a mood lifter and will overhaul the area like nothing else.

Eleventh Anniversary Gifts from F Hinds

This year, Husband and I will be celebrating our eleventh anniversary. We got married back in 2006, which seems like only yesterday but also a lifetime ago, all at the same time. We were engaged within six weeks of meeting and married within six months and had a LOT of doubters, expecting us not to last, so to be eleven years on and going strong I feel well within my rights to stick a big two-fingers up at the people who said we’d never last! We’re not perfect – no-one is – but he’s still my best friend, the person I turn to for advice and support and the person on the planet who can make me laugh harder than anyone else!

The traditional gift for 11 years is steel, which may sound like the least romantic thing ever, but F Hinds actually has a lot of things made from steel which would make a great anniversary gift – here are five of my faves for both men and women:

Husband is a huge fan of watches and loves both new ones and vintage, restored watches alike. This steel divers watch from Seiko is powered by kinetic energy and will never need a battery replacement, and can be adjusted in store for free to make it the perfect fit.

I really love the modern, contemporary design of this bangle, as well as the fact that there’s something a bit like the ‘eternity’ symbol about it, which makes it perfect for a romantic anniversary gift. I’m not a huge jewellery wearer, apart from my wedding ring and some earrings but I’d definitely wear this as it’s sleek, simple and unfussy.

Necklaces always make a beautiful anniversary gift and this statement piece from Fossil definitely fits the bill. It’s eye-catching and classic and also had a pair of coordinating earrings on the F Hinds site if you really wanted to treat your loved-one.

These days, many men wear bracelets and other forms of jewellery which may have previously only been worn by women and there are plenty of masculine styles on the market to choose from. This chain-link inspired bracelet would be perfect for the man in your life and has a heavy-duty clasp to ensure that even those with a more physical job or lifestyle won’t lose it.

Cufflinks are a great gift for any occasion and obviously, you’ll need to have a Husband with seriously good taste to appreciate these Liverpool FC ones 😉 (other teams are available if you’re unlucky enough to be married to someone with terrible taste in football teams…) You’ll be able to combine two of their loves at once with a reminder of their favourite team and a reminder of you!

Saving Money at the End of the Holidays

cheap holiday activitesI don’t know about you but we’ve got to that point in the holidays where activities which are free or cheap are extremely appealing! Sausage is pretty much the least demanding kid on the planet but we’ve done our best to make sure she’s done at least a couple of activities each week in the holidays and it’s all adding up. I’ve been thinking about ways to save some money in the last few weeks of summer and thought I’d share ideas with you here:

Check Your Points

If you use loyalty cards for supermarkets and other shops, you’ll often find that these points can be used to “buy” vouchers which gain you free entry tickets to various attractions. If you haven’t recently checked your points balance, now would be a good time as you could be sitting on a goldmine!

Save Money on Other Purchases

If you can’t directly save money on the days out, you can save money in other areas. Sites like Every Day is Black Friday basically scour the net for the item you’re planning to buy and comes back with the cheapest price possible, telling you if it’s been reduced anywhere in the recent past. It’s a great way to ensure you’re getting the best deal possible on whatever you want to buy.

Do Something Free

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but there are SO many free activities that you can do which the kids will probably love just as much as they love the expensive trips. Picnics, foraging for blackberries, beach combing, nature photography walks, discovering new playgrounds, Pokemon hunting are all free to do and will give you hours of fun in the outdoors.

Take Your Own Food

If you are visiting somewhere which will cost you a bit to get into, DO take a picnic with you, even if it means borrowing a cool box from a generous friend or relative. Food once you get inside an attraction is usually RIDICULOUSLY expensive, almost always of very little nutritional value and we’ve felt like many a day trip has been marred by being forced to spend £7.50 on what amounts to a large cup of sugar syrup and a floppy hotdog which probably cost 20p to make.

Check for Cheaper Fuel

If you’re driving somewhere for a day out and need to stick fuel in your car beforehand, check a website called petrolprices.com – it will allow you to enter your postcode and will tell you where the cheapest fuel is in your vicinity. There’s even an app for your phone which will help you to keep fuel costs down on the go.

Do you have any good tips? I’d love to hear them, leave me a comment below.

How to Make Your Wedding Day Different


For a while, in my mid-twenties, it seemed like my social media timelines were showing a different wedding every week. Husband and I went abroad and got married by ourselves and I wouldn’t change that for the world, but if I did organise a wedding here in the UK, there are definitely a few things that I’d love to have on the Big Day to make it a little different. Here’s a few ideas:

Vintage Rings

Husband and I planned our wedding in the space of about two weeks, so some of the details were a case of what we could get in the time we had. One thing I really like the idea of is vintage wedding and engagement rings. They often have so much more character and I love the thought of my ring having a story before it found it was to me.

Non-wedding wedding dress

Whilst planning our wedding, I realised that the whole “long white gown” thing was just SO not me, and I ended up buying a dress from a high street shop, which just so happened to be perfect for getting married on a tropical beach. Looking around at dresses which aren’t specifically wedding dresses could really inspire you in terms of styles and colours and would probably save you an absolute fortune, too.

Venue

There are so many amazing places to get married, both here in the UK and abroad and it’s really worth taking a look around to find one you love. If you aren’t the traditional type, you could find somewhere super fun for your reception – I know someone who hired a vintage bowling alley for their reception and they served beer and hotdogs! Literally THE most fun and memorable wedding reception ever!

Shoes

If you’re wearing a long dress, I really LOVE it when brides wear shoes that you absolutely wouldn’t expect to see underneath. Giving a flash of some bejewelled Converse All-Stars will give a glimpse of your personality and will also allow you to be really comfortable all day, too.

Photography

Wedding photography is BIG business and can take up one of the largest chunks of your budget. Choosing a photographer is about more than their photos, it’s about finding someone who really GETS you so that they can capture you in the exact light that you’re hoping for. Getting to know your photographer before the day can make all the difference and thinking outside the box, in terms of the actual shots, is what will set your photos apart.