Chocolate-making is one of those things I have always toyed with the idea of trying, but it has always seemed so intimidating! Kind of like making a wedding cake (check!) or macarons (hmmm, stay tuned?). Luckily, I recently had the opportunity to take a chocolate making class taught by Ben Tseitlin, founder of Benchic Chocolate.
I was shocked by how easy and accessible Ben made the chocolate-making process. Using just a few ingredients, he walked us through the process of making our own chocolate. The chocolate that we created was wonderful. We were encouraged to bring our own toppings and I brought a little fresh cinnamon to dust over mine. Ben also had curry, cayenne and a variety of other toppings on hand for us as well. He was the perfect host, keeping us occupied with chocolate history and making sipping chocolate while the chocolate set.
Ben’s class would be a perfect date idea or great for a weekend event with girlfriends. He also does private parties and corporate events. For more information on Benchic chocolate making classes, check out his website here.
This post is brought to you by The Co-operative Travel. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that keep me running!
What’s the secret to last minute breaks? Flexibility.
If you want to snap up a late deal that’s truly affordable, and if cost really is one of your top priorities, you’ll find the best price-led results by keeping an open mind and by being as flexible as possible.
Last minute holiday deals are low in availability. After all, they’ve been reduced because the tour operator is trying to sell off those last few holidays before they expire. Therefore you’ll typically find some of the best deals approximately 6 weeks before the departure date, as this is when the tour operator goes for one last push to entice customers to commit to the booking.
If you’re in the market for a last minute holiday, try not to set too many specifics in your search criteria. Rather than selecting a date, local resort and a star rating, choose a top level destination (such as Spain, rather than a specific resort like Costa Brava) and a departure date, and see what comes up. Where possible remember to select the +/- option for flexibility on days too, if the option is provided.
Once you’ve got your list of results you can filter through to your heart’s content. Start by ordering the results by price and see which destinations are among the cheapest. You can then work your way down, filtering by options like star rating, duration, departure airport and so on. Try not to apply too many filters in one go – instead, add one or two, then remove them before trying something else. And where possible, keep some less important preferences such as departure airport until last.
You’ll find stacks of late deals all year round across the major tour operators. For instance, check out these last minute deals with The Co-operative Travel and see what takes your fancy. With an open mind and a dash of flexibility, you’ll find a world of holiday deals right at your feet.
Hooray for the start of the Morocco honeymoon posts! Pat and I arrived safely in Morocco, and in fact have already been here a week! I blame the (relatively) cold weather for the lack of a post sooner. It’s winter here too, and some nights it’s been down in the 30′sF! Combine that with a lack of infrastructure for the cold (what, no central heating?) and it’s been hard to get motivated. All that aside though, we’re having an absolutely lovely time in Morocco. It was a great choice for a honeymoon destination.
We started out our trip by flying into Tangier, one of Morocco’s northernmost cities and most often visited because you can easily take a ferry there from Spain. It’s basically a port town and not the best Morocco has to offer, so we made the decision to rent a car at the airport and get the heck out of dodge as fast as possible. We drove about 45 minutes south to Asilah, a lovely Moroccan costal city.
Asilah is busiest in the late summer, when it hosts the Asilah Arts Festival. Then, it is flooded with tourists and artists, coming to enjoy the scene and the beach. There are still many murals on the walls to hint at the fun we missed this year.
We found Asilah a bit sleepier, but still charming. It was fun to wander the streets and also the sea wall.
We got to take a look at the catch of the day.
We relaxed and sipped mint tea and enjoyed our first Moroccan couscous, while soaking it all in.
In Asilah, we stayed at Hotel Azayla. Although it was recommend by both of our guidebooks and has a reputation online for friendly staff, they must have had the day off when we visited. The rooms were simple and clean, but the thin glass windows let in every noise like we had them wide open. Imagine our surprise when we were woken up to loud music at around 11pm! It carried on for an hour before we decided to investigate. We got bundled up and ventured out, following the booming base. About a 10 minute walk away, we came upon a plastic tent where we could see the outline of several belly dancers and men and women sitting around and watching them. It was so loud! But you don’t have to take my word for it:
As tempting as it was to join the party, we scurried away back to our beds and popped in some earplugs. Just as we were about to fall asleep, around 1am, a rooster started to crow! This went on for the rest of the night and the earplugs weren’t enough. We just had to laugh and chalk it up to part of the adventure. Welcome to Morocco!
Our progress so far:
P.S. – See what we’re up to now on Instagram!
While I’m on my honeymoon, I’m so happy to bring you a guest post by Ashley, from Delightfully Domestic. Delightfully Domestic is her little home on the world wide web where laughter is mandatory and story swapping, inspiration gathering and recipe learning is encouraged. Thanks Ashley for sharing these His & Hers Knitted Toque Patterns, which google has informed me is Canadian for hat!
Hey! I’m Ashley, and if you haven’t noticed yet, I’m from Canada. Winter is upon us up in Northern Alberta and today I’m sharing with you how a few simple changes to a pattern, basic knit and purl stitches using the same colours of yarn can make the difference between a His and Hers toque.
His Knit Beanie Pattern:
Her Knit Toque Pattern:
I just finished my easiest holiday shopping ever.
What makes it so easy you ask? Melina’s olive oil gift sets for all of our loved ones this year! No matter the level of culinary expertise, these little four packs of flavored olive oils are sure to please. I distinctly remember the first time I tasted real olive oil. I was in Italy in college and it was my first night, in a plaza in Milan. The complexity of the flavors and the, well goodness, of it is something I’ll never forget. I definitely have Italy flashbacks when I have Melina’s olive oil. I’m so excited to share that experience this holiday season!
I’m in love with Melina’s Pepperino chili pepper, garlic & rosemary infused olive oil. Pat and I have been using it like crazy! I finally had a weekend off after two straight weeks in the hospital and we celebrated by having a lazy morning at home, complete with breakfast. We made this spicy goat cheese and sweet potato egg skillet and elevated it a notch with a splash of Pepperino olive oil. I’ve been using it instead of my normal olive oil whenever I get a chance. It has the perfect amount of heat without that in-your-face sensation that adding hot sauce gives.
- ½ tsp Melina’s Pepperino olive oil
- ½ small onion, diced
- 1 T. smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ⅓ c. water
- 1 sweet potato, in ½” cubes
- Handful of cremini mushrooms
- 2 eggs
- 2 ounces goat cheese
- Cilantro to garnish
- In a large skillet, heat pepperino olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, 4-5 minutes.
- Stir in paprika and turmeric and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in water.
- Stir in sweet potatoes, over with lid and let cook about 4 minutes.
- Add mushrooms. Cook covered until sweet potatoes are almost tender.
- Make a small well in the center and crack eggs. Sprinkle goat cheese on top. Cover and cook until egg whites are set.
Melina’s Gourmet Giveaway
Melina’s Gourmet is giving away one olive oil gift set to a lucky Running Blonde reader!
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This post if brought to you by Melina’s Gourmet Olive Oils! Thanks for supporting the sponsors that keep me running!
Pijon box is a monthly subscription for college students. Even though I’ve been out of college for a while, I was more than happy to review a box when the folks at Pijon sent one to me. Having been in ‘college’ for 10 years (BS, MS, MD – I made a career at collecting letters behind my name!), I think the idea of getting a box every month in the mail would have been awesome. It’s so nice to get things in the mail when life seems like an endless stack of papers and midterm exams!
My Pijon box had a great assortment of goodies. It was a nice mix of snacks, beauty and etc. I’ve seen Mamma Chia snacks at the store before and more than once thought about grabbing one to try. I love chia seeds! These little snacks are delicious and perfect to keep in my coat pocket for a snack on those busy days when I’m rushing from the hospital to clinic. The box also had Tapaz2Go which are lentil crackers with shelf-stable hummus. I’m always a little leery of things like that that usually need refrigeration being able to stay out of the fridge, because it typically means lots of added preservatives. Luckily the label of Tapz2Go passed the “Can I pronounce this?” test.
I’ve been meaning to switch to a more natural deodorant, given that the kind I’ve been using since high school has lots of harsh chemicals. pHresh natural deodorant is just what the doctor ordered! I can’t believe how well it works, even after a workout.
Pat was more stoked than me about the Light My Fire sporks. He grabbed them up before I even had a chance to try them to use for an upcoming camping trip.
My favorite part of my Pijon Box was Color Club Nail Polish in a shockingly bright pink! I’ve been meaning to take the plunge to a bright colored nail polish and this was just what I had in mind! It was definitely a change from my usual unmanicured look, but I have to say, every time the bright pink catches my eye, I smile! My hands are dry and full of hangnails, so it was nice that they included Waxelene petroleum jelly alternative to moisturize before my mani.
It’s a bit like Pijon box got in my brain. There were a few things I’ve been meaning to try, something to make Pat happy, and something to push me out of my comfort zone. I loved my Pijon box so much I almost forgot that they are geared towards college kids. How cool would it be to get one every month to brighten up your day between papers and midterms?
Each box has a $35-50 value, but is as low as $25 per month with a subscription. Use the promo code ‘BlondePijon‘ to get $10 off your first box!
Pijon Box Giveaway
The folks at Pijon Box are giving a box away to a lucky Running Blonde reader!
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Thanks to Pijon Box for providing me a box to review! And thanks to you for supporting the sponsors that keep Running Blonde running!