Do you like chocolate?  Is that a really silly question?

I was lucky enough to be sent some Divine Chocolate to review.

It was a generously-sized bar of the dark chocolate with orange and ginger.  I loved the taste although it took me a few minutes to get used to the texture presumably orange or ginger strands.

I don’t actually eat chocolate often but when I do, I like it to be a really indulgent treat.

Divine Chocolate fits the bill perfectly.  Chocolate to savour or to share with a very special loved one.  A lovely addition to a romantic night at home.  Alternatively, something to hide away just for you when the children are in bed and you want to reward yourself for another day of juggling it all.

Even better, you can rest assured that the producers of the chocolate are getting rewarded appropriately for their efforts too.

Divine Chocolate products are made from the best Ghanaian cocoa supplied by the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative that owns 45% of the company, and are free from artificial flavourings, colourings and preservatives.  They are all suitable for vegetarians, and carry the FAIRTRADE MARK. 

In celebration of Divine’s Ghanaian ownership, the bars are decorated in gold with distinctive traditional West African motifs called Adinkra symbols, each of which carry their own meaning, making them a beautiful gift as well as a perfect treat.  

For more information on the full Divine range of 100g and 45g bars, gift chocolates, baking ingredients and seasonal lines visit http://www.divinechocolate.com

Last September, I was grossly overweight, fed up with my lot in life and hoping to find paid work.

My instincts told me I would only change with the back-up of other women.  I decided to set up a blog hop and was so pleased when other mums came forward and said they wanted to effect changes in their lives too.   Inspired by all things Eighties, I called us the Groovy Mums and we set off with our knapsacks on our virtual backs towards an undefined but a “It’s got to be better than this!” future.

There was a definite first set of mums who got involved and there was lots of accompanying banter and support on Twitter as well as via blog comments.  That has got less probably as we got involved in various tasks towards getting our groove back.

We found that when mums were struggling, some would not post at all and some would in great detail and end up helping others with their sadder posts as well as with their happier ones.

9 months on, I am aware that some participants found that Groovy Mums was not for them or could not find the time to join in.  I am proud to see all the changes that mums have made, both baby steps and huge ones.  I think we have worked out that when we achieve some things, a lot of us still want to move on to new ways of thinking and different activities.  Perhaps there is not a destination after all but rather a fascinating journey.

So where now for Groovy Mums and me?

My life has changed a lot since last year.  I lost a considerable amount of weight so feel better health wise.  I have stones and stones to shift still but I know I can do it now.  Nothing seems hopeless anymore and that is largely down to the impetus of the Groovy Mums.  Thank you.

I have paid work now and can see new opportunities to acquire more at a pace that suits me and my family.

I am a member of the BritMums team and am speaking at BritMums Live in less than two weeks.  There are nerves naturally but my reality is now that I will be fine and contribute well to the event.  My thinking has shifted about what I am capable of.

I am involved in supporting charities and am a proud ambassador for Give As You Live, the organisation that ensures that money goes to charity when you shop online (but you do have to sign up and can do so here http://www.give.as/savingbabieslives ).

So I have changed and I feel ready for a big adventure after BritMums Live.  I am working on the finer details but I feel the time is right for me and look forward to sharing in due course.

I have noticed that less people are linking up when I do Groovy Mums posts and challenges.  On a level, this does not matter but on another if I am going to be busy and the posts are not helpful to folks, I wonder if I should continue with them.

We have had a few Groovy Mums Twitter parties which appeal to a wider audience and seem to assist in linking up mums who can help each other in terms of support, tips and information.  Should we do some more?

I never was a great guru and never had all the answers.  I was just a fat mum stuck in a small village who wanted to feel like herself again.  Groovy Mums was as much about helping myself as reaching out to others.

So although I feel quite clear about where I should go next and what I should do, my question is where next for Groovy Mums?

Should it be allowed to die a natural death?

Should it continue in the same way?

Should it change radically?

Should I share the load more as some mums seem keen to help out in some way?

I would love to know what people think whether they join in with Groovy Mums or not.  I am also not going to make any major decisions on the future of Groovy Mums until after BritMums Live because sometimes I too need to take time out to reflect and to ease up on myself.

Over to you …

Don’t look now by Daphne Du Maurier is short story and described as macabre.

In it we meet Laura and John who are on holiday in Venice. It all starts out light-hearted enough but is a very good reminder that as in real life, things are not always what they seem.

The apparently happy couple on first glance are grieving for the loss of a child with each handling this situation in their own individual ways.

The couple encounter some strange ladies one of whom is blind. The talk to Laura and appear to suggest they can deliver messages from her dead child. Can they, are they psychic or a pair or charlatans?

Despite John’s best efforts the ladies will keep turning up and tell the couple that they must get out of Venice and quickly.

A call from home results in Laura heading home to care for her son with John planning to follow on soon. He starts out on the journey but something makes him turn back. Was the reason for this real or an apparition? Suffice to say, whatever it was it causes John a great deal of stress as he struggles to make sense of it all. Is he going mad?

Will the ladies be proved right? Should both of the couple have left Venice after all and if one of them doesn’t, what will be the consequences?

I really enjoyed this short story even though it is not the usual type of thing I would choose. It was difficult to guess whether the strange ladies had good or bad intentions.

My only criticism that as so often in short stories, the ending seemed rushed and I was not surprised by it.

Overall Don’t Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier is a good story and a great read for the holidays.

Read With Me
Cuddle Fairy

This month, I am promoting charities and good causes for free on my blog.

Today, I feature a guest post from St Hilda’s East Community Centre – Working for the Tower Hamlets community and beyond since 1889.
 
 
St. Hilda’s East is a multi-purpose community centre in the Bethnal Green/Shoreditch area of Tower Hamlets. We provide valuable support to groups of all ages and backgrounds within the local community. We aim to address social issues and disadvantage found in the area, where 52% of children live in poverty (End Child Poverty campaign, 2012).
 
Our activities range from an Under 5s Project, youth services, Legal Advice, volunteering, to a Women’s Project and mental health support. Some projects, such as the Boundary Women’s Project and our much-used Advice Service, are not fully funded and we rely upon donations to maintain them. 


 
The Boundary Women’s Project aims to encourage local women to realise their own potential, especially women experiencing social exclusion or minority ethnic women facing language barriers. The varied programme of regular activities includes from English language classes, Keep Fit, IT sessions and an exciting textile training initiative is also taking place.


“I really enjoyed the health programme, never having done yoga before”
“Cooking in front of people was scary, but when I started giving out samples of my food, I was amazed that they wanted more and liked the taste so much – it did wonders for my confidence!”
 
The Advice Service provides free, confidential and impartial advice to local residents – particularly those who struggle in accessing rights and entitlements through lack of knowledge and language barriers. The Advice Service is staffed by our qualified advisor, and we also offer a legal advice service delievered on a pro-bono basis by law firm staff who volunteer weekly.


“I‘m very happy and can’t thank the advisers enough.”
( — Mr A after a successful appeal against a Criminal Injuries Compensation decision)

“The advisers are top notch and so helpful!”
Find out more by visiting www.sthildas.org.uk
You can also find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/sthildaseast) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/sthildaseast).
We are also registered with www.everyclick.com/sthildaseast
 
Registered Charity No: 212208

I am reviewing Indian cooking sauces from the Spice Tailor.

Do you like Indian food?  Would you like to create spicy dishes with the wow factor for your family?  Are you daunted and unclear on just what type of spices to use?

When I make a curry, it is usually edible enough but never reflects the true sense of  Indian delights.  That is proably because I really don’t know what flavour combinations to use or what is the “right” quantity of curry powder or spices.

I need worry no longer as TV chef and cookery writer Anjum Anand has launched her own range of cookery sauces called The Spice Tailor.

I combined the fragrant and zingy mangalore herb curry version with beef.  You can choose to use any red or white meat.

The first thing that impressed me was that you get a little packet of spices that really look the part and get you in the mood.   You heat them in oil for just 20 seconds and then add your cubed meat for 2 minutes, browning lightly.  You then take the sauce which has such a rich colour, stir it in and 7 minutes later, you have your completed dish.

Fast food but not as we know it.

When we tasted the results, we were impressed with how balanced the flavour was.  A definite kick but not too daunting and lovely with our naan breads.  It looked beautiful too.

The Spice Tailor products come with preparation guidelines but also lots of different ways to adapt the recipe to taste.

The Spice Tailor sauces are easy to use so anyone can create great tasting, authentic Indian dishes using them.

Highly recommended by me!