Sunday
Apr092017

Pro Tips - Easter Egg Hunt 

 

An Easter Egg Hunt needs great eggs to find - and it helps if they are chocolate, children adore chocolate.

Marks and Spencer have a wonderful selection of bright metalic foil covered, chocolate eggs which are about the size of a large regular egg.  

The Marks and Spencer's eggs come in bags of 15 or in the fun packaging of egg trays with 30 eggs.  Inside the foil are smooth milky chocolate hollow eggs.  These eggs are absolutely perfect for an outside or inside Easter Egg Hunt, as the shiny foil keeps the chocolate clean, as well as protecting the surfaces inside your home.

How to have an Easter Egg Hunt

  1. Decide on the who, when and where - invite children and adults - make sure to define times on the invitation
  2. Remember Easter Egg hunts aren't just for children, involve, parents, friends, family or even have a hunt just for adults - it is hilarious how competitive everyone gets
  3. Decide whether you are having a theme - ie do you want everyone to come in an Easter Bonnet, or Bunny Ears, or simply a fancy dress costume
  4. Decide whether your Easter Egg Hunt will happen indoors or outdoors (if outdoors, always have a rainy day plan, as to where you will hold your Hunt inside)
  5. Decide whether you are using real eggs, chocolate eggs, or plastic eggs

As well as using actual egg sized chocolate eggs, it is great to use these soild tiny Milk Chocolate eggs from Marks and Spencer in order to mix things up a bit with the search, and provide extra eggs to find.  The 1/2 eggs are filled with a delightful smooth sweet caramel.  I recommend hiding them and scattering them across the grass.

I am loving these little chickadee bags to collect chocolate easter eggs in during the egg hunt!

 

How to have an Easter Egg Hunt

  1. Decide on the who, when and where - invite children and adults - make sure to define times on the invitation
  2. Remember Easter Egg hunts aren't just for children, involve, parents, friends, family or even have a hunt just for adults - it is hilarious how competitive everyone gets
  3. Decide whether you are having a theme - ie do you want everyone to come in an Easter Bonnet, or Bunny Ears, or simply a fancy dress costume
  4. Decide whether your Easter Egg Hunt will happen indoors or outdoors (if outdoors, always have a rainy day plan, as to where you will hold your Hunt inside)
  5. Decide whether you are using real eggs, chocolate eggs, or plastic eggs
  6. Decide you going to have winners and losers, are you having other prizes besides the chocolate eggs  - colouring books with pencils, or crayons - Note real eggs should be hard-boiled no more than three days in advance and kept in the fridge in a tightly sealed container until ready to use.  Make a note of where you hide real eggs, espcially indoors as you don't want to have to do a smelly-egg hunt of your own later.
  7. We used these pretty foil covered chocolate eggs from Marks & Spencer, in large and small sizes, which are made of the most delicious milk chocolate
  8. Define your hunts boundaries, to stop your house or garden being ransacked by little feet, or sticky hands - inside keep children away from stairs, sockets, bathrooms and kitchens.  Outside keep children away from prized flower bushes, water, slippery rocks, hidden drops, steps thorns and neighbours gardens
  9. Choose the drinks and snacks to accompany your Easter Egg Hunt for children and adults - we recommend sticky sausages, and chocolate popcorn. And of course lots and lot of Marks and Spencer Easter Eggs.
  10. When the Easter Egg Hunt is over, what will you do with the children, its good to have some games on hand, like egg & spoon or three legged races, cricket, volleyball or rounders planned
  11. Have some children's films /  Disney DVDs on hand to allow children to watch after all their activity
  12. Make sure you buy lots of these delicious eggs from Marks and Spencer - buy more eggs than you think you will need, allow for up to ten eggs per child
  13. Have tissues and wet wipes on hand, as you never know with children around when you will need them
  14. Make or Buy some Easter Egg Hunt signs


On the Day of the Easter Egg Hunt

  1. Hide the eggs in a designated part of your garden or in choosen rooms indoors
  2. Give the children pretty wicket baskets, or felt baskets for the eggs to be collected i
  3. Tell the children how long they have to collect the eggs
  4. Let them hunt for the eggs with their friends and parents
  5. Allow them to count their Egg treasures and eat one or two
  6. Play Games and serve nibbles

 

Happy Easter everybody!

 

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

 

Sunday
Apr092017

Easter Fun from Marks and Spencer

 

Marks and Spencer hollow milk chocolate eggs in a traditional egg carton are fun and sparkly for Easter.  They come in sets of 30 eggs and are brilliant for Easter Egg hunts. 

 

They also work really well as gifts from teachers to children or if you have any little people visiting your home this Easter, they will love to pick an egg for themselves.

 

 

These Marks and Spencer cloth chick bags are filled with milk chocolate jewel foil covered easter eggs.  The bags are firm favourites with children who can use them during an Easter Egg hunt and fill them up too the brim with chocolate.

The little Marks and Spencer jewelled eggs because they are covered can be hidden all around the garden for children and adults to find.

These little jewel eggs are filled with beautiful smooth milk chocolate, and the half eggs are filled with rich runny caramel. They are addictive - I challenge you to eat only one!  Opened out of their net bags and filling coloured glasses they make beautiful hostess gifts, or Easter presents.  I like to fill glasses with them and leave them all around the house on Easter Sunday for people to nibble throughout the day.

These Marks and Spencer wobble tins are filled with chocolate chip shortbread.  The tins are bright and cheery; great fun for little children who can push the tin and watch it wobble.

My favourite themed egg from Marks and Spencer for children is this dinosaur who sits proudly atop of speckled eggs.  Lots of little boys and girls will love this on Easter Sunday.

These little praline eggs are for adults and some older children wrapped in sparkling gold, they are easy to eat.

These little half egg chicks are filled with gooey caramel.

Easter is a time to celebrate, new life, the triumph of life over death, light and the joys of Spring - I hope you have a joyful day full of celebration.

Happy Easter,

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Thursday
Apr062017

Blue skies, green fields and stone walls

Wednesday
Mar222017

Mother's Day 2017 - some gift ideas

 

Isn't Mother's Day really rather wonderful?  A whole day dedicated to celebrating our Mums.  Whether that's with a homemade card or breaksfast in bed.  A walk on the beach or dinner out.  There are lots of things you can do the most important is spending time with your Mum.  

Marks and Spencer have some really delightful gifts for Mother's Day.  I adore their handtied bouquet of 100 stems of tulips and daffodils.

Daffodils like sunflowers are flowers that smile at you from the ground.  Looking at them makes me happy, their bright vibrant yellow reminding us of the joy of spring.

Marks and Spencer handmade nougat is a real treat soft chewy nougat with fresh crisp hazelnuts and pistachios, are blended with English spring honey and dried sour cherries.  You could enjoy it on a car trip with Mum for something to nibble or after dinner with coffee.  I would even say you could have a bit at elevense.

 This hummingbird tin filled with Scottish shortbread it vibrant and full of energy, Marks and Spencer have really chosen a winner with this colourful motif.  I love that the tin can be used after the shortbread is long eaten, filled with buttons or bobins.  

Bubbles are an essential part of any celebration - but don't whatever you do buy cheap and nasty one's - enjoy the light freshness of this Monticella DOCG Prosecco Jeroboam prosecco from Marks and Spencer.  It is a fresh lemony and light aromatic wine with pear and gooseberry, apple and violet hints, the finish is dry.  It is also available in a magnum bottle which is great fun, a party in a bottle, or so they say.

Craft 3 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from Marks and Spencer is refreshing and light.  Its a good Sauvignon Blanc - with a pink grapefruit and fruity palate that is not overly bitter on the palate.  There are hints of the usual gooseberry and passionfruit, but its herby aroma makes this an interesting wine with a good texture.

I hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day.

 

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Saturday
Mar182017

Northern Irish Gal Cup

When people arrive at my parties I offer them a drink and its always a very simple choice.  Would you like a cocktail or some sparkling water.  I am a firm believer in keeping things really simple. Not offering too much choice.  Simply lovely ingredients well cooked.  Lastnight we toasted St Patrick with this cocktail, then feasted on several kinds of sausages, champ and carmelised onions.  For pudding with had a St Patrick's Minty Pavlova.  Delicious. Simple. Straightforward.  I am a cook who loves feeding people, bringing them round my table to enjoy laughter and conversation, good food and sparkling lights.

I love Writer's Tears from Marks and Spencer.  This Irish whiskey is 100% barley and distilled in 60% malt and 40% pot still.  Writerṣ Tears” is a old style Irish Pot still Whiskey which makes it a perfect base for a cocktail.  It has a lovely honey flavour with a burst of ginger and butterscotch, there are hints of toasted oat.  It is smooth.  A result of being tripled distilled and matured in charred bourbon barrels.  

To make a Northern Irish Gal Cup - 

Add two cups of whiskey to large jug then a bottle of sparkling ginger and rhubharb presse, top with pure pear juice.  The sweetness of the pear mixed withthe sharp rhubarb, spliced with a hint of gingers fresh spice brings a fresh, mellow note to the honey Writers Tears Whiskey. Serve with ice in beautiful glasses.

 

Give this a listen while you sip - 

 

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Friday
Mar172017

How to make an Irish Hot Whiskey

Happy St Patrick's Day my lovelies.  May you have a day filled with blessings and laughter.

The rain is battering my window and the green is glimpsed through the mists of grey.  I've come in from walking the dogs and feeling a bit like a drowned rat.

To warm my chilled bones a hot whiskey is the ticket.  

This is a drink of few ingredients and one that doesn't need fussing.

Most important is the whiskey I love Writer's Tears from Marks and Spencer.  This Irish whiskey is 100% barley and made in a copper pot still.

It has a lovely honey flavour with a burst of ginger and butterscotch, there are hints of toasted oat.  It is smooth.  A result of being tripled distilled and matured in charred bourbon barrels.  Writerṣ Tears” is a old style Irish Pot still Whiskey, with its vatting of Single Malt and Single Pot Still whiskeys, it is distilled from 60% malt and 40% pot still.

Years of making hot whiskey's for customers means I know every trick in the book.  The secret is to warm the glass before adding the whiskey.  Put a teaspoon into a glass and fill with water that is just off the boil.  Meanwhile stud a lemon with cloves. Being careful not to burn fingers, disgard the water from the glass, add the whiskey, clove studded lemon and add a good three fingers of Whiskey to the glass, fill with hot water, stirring  to it swirls add a teaspoon of honey - or brown sugar.  Stir until the sugar is disolved.  Wrap a napkin around the glass so as not to burn your fingers and drink with your toes up in front of a roaring fire.

 

Happy St Patrick's Day!

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

 

Saturday
Jan212017

q&a with graphic designer and musician Nick Koch

 

What a joy to welcome the incredibly talented and creative Mr Nick Koch to the Salt and Sparkle Q&A!  I've had the pleasure of knowing Nick and his family for a number of years.  He sings with a mystical rich voice that evokes memory and hope.  Nick is a guy who walks joy and hope into a room.  He's fun, full of mischief and has a huge and very exciting future a head of him.  You can connect with Nick on Insta or Facebook, or hire him to do some work for you by shooting him an email.

Who are you, what’s it like being you …

That’s a big question. Where to start? Well… my name is Nick Koch. I am a creative designer currently based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I currently work for a local design agency called Mammoth as a Digital Designer. Before that I spent 4 years at Flint Studios, whom I joined as a graduate.

I primarily work in UX/UI design for websites and digital products, however, I have a love for anything digital, & non-digital. Basically I just love being creative. From App design and Film, to branding,print, music and the occasional bit of woodwork if it’s a collaboration of beauty and function I’m into it.

Outside of my day job I am usually looking for a new challenge, a new adventure or satisfying my wanderlust. 

In the past couple of years I have run my first marathon, done my first solo skydive, walked the Camino de Santiago, hiked the Rockie Mountains in Colorado and nearly broken my pelvis skiing (it’s a long story, let’s just say the ego can be a cruel master at times).

That’s a little bit about who I am, what’s it like…well at the minute it’s pretty awesome but the adventure is only getting started.


 Where are you from, where are you based …

I was born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I have spent nearly all my life in this small part of the apart from a brief spell in Scotland. 

During the week you’ll find me in the Mammoth Digital Department. At the weekend…who knows

 Talk about your work ...

So, I am a creative designer primarily working in the digital sector. My daily work is usually User experience design(UX), User Interface design (UI) and website design however I also work in video and animation. Website design is great because the industry is so young it feels like it is changing and progressing every day. The web was only invented in 1994, that’s only 22 years ago! It is in it’s infancy and it’ super exciting to see where it will go in the next 5-10 years.

 What are your future plans ... 

Hopefully to keep progressing in what digital technology and design has to offer. I wouldn’t want to limit myself to one particular area as there is so much to discovered. However, Augmented Reality is something that I am finding increasingly fascinating at the moment. The recent Pokemon Go trend that exploded this year has shown that the general public are willing to adopt the technology. It may have been a very crude adaptation of it but it showed that there is a market for it. I think that it will be really exciting to see what developments there are in the next 5-10 years and I would love to be at the coalface of that.

One of my main goals is to expand my horizons beyond Belfast. As great a city as it is and it has really progressed in the past 10-15 years I think a person needs to immerse themselves in different cultures in order to grow as a person and learn more about the people and the world around them.

I would love to return to Colorado and live and work in that culture. It has a thriving creative and tech community and has one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. Seriously, if you haven’t been I highly recommend it.

However, I am willing to go wherever the wind may take me and opportunity arises.


 How do you find inspiration, who you are inspired by ...

I take inspiration from everything, mostly through the people around me. I love working with other people and collaborating. I love coming up with an idea and discussing it with someone, getting their view of it and creating something even better together.  

Describe your space ... 

A calculated mess. Covered in sitemaps, website questionnaires, at least 3 cups/glasses at a time (1 for coffee, 1 for tea, 1 for water). I have always been suspicious of someone who has a perfectly tidy desk. I currently work on a 27” 2011 iMac during the day and a macbook pro at weekends, evenings or when inspiration strikes.  I recently moved back to a laptop as I felt I needed to get out of the office more and this let me do that. I think this is really important. I don’t think 9-5 at a desk is conducive to being creative.

 How are you feeling today ... 

Pretty good. Enjoying answering these questions! Need to go for a run though.

A non-negotiable in your life is …

Be true to your self.

I have learnt a lot about following my instincts in the past couple of years.  There will always be people who will tell you not to do something and we tend to listen to them as it’s a safe option. I don’t know if this is a nonnegotiable or something I’m trying to learn, but, I want to try experience as much in life as possible and do what feels right for me. 

Most encouraging words you have ever heard ...

I think I find actions more encouraging than words. The most encouraged I ever felt was when i was offered my first design job. When you are a student you are full of self doubt about your skill. To have someone to say they were willing to pay me for my skills was massively encouraging. 


Your work life philosophy is ...

I never want to hear the words, “That will do…” In everything I do it needs to be with intent, purpose and to the best of my ability. I’m trying to learn to improve everyday.

What is your favourite smell ...

hmmm, good question, Christmas day is a hard smell to beat.

Who do you like to listen to, what’s playing just now ...

I love music! all kinds. I know that sounds like a cliche but i’ll listen to anything if I am in the write mood. My go to artists tend to be more folk/singer songwriters. I was raised on Paul Simon. On a side note, Graceland is the greatest album ever created and I’ll hear no-one say otherwise. 

I am currently obsessed with the soundtrack to the musical Hamilton, much to the bemusement and frustration of my housemates and friends. I find American history fascinating and the melodies and lyrics that Lin Manuel Miranda created are incredible. He changed the game. 

Best meal and your favourite three ingredients ...

Hmmm tough question. The first one that comes to mind would have to be eating Buffalo steak in Zimbabwe overlooking a waterhole with countless elephant, zebra, and giraffe.

Ingredients…easy.

Water, Hops & Barley…& yeast… that’s four…

eh… beer, beer is the best ingredient.

Three things or products that have changed your life...

My first iMac. I borrowed it for 6 months from a design company I was doing a design internship at. It gave me the opportunity to explore design and set me on my way to pursuing design as a career. 

My iPhone. not much to explain. This device has changed everyone’s life.
My Passport.

 

How do you relax ... 

I feel most relaxed when I am outdoors. There are few better feelings than being on top of a mountain. I wish I got the time to do it more.
But i love music, playing guitar, singing, movies and drinking beer and whiskey with my friends.


What makes you happy, where’s your happy place ...

Being creative with other people makes me really happy! I love collaboration!

Playing with my niece and nephew.

In a local bar having great conversation.

What is your favourite journey, where in the world would you like to visit ...

My favourite travel journey was walking the Camino de Santiago. It is a wonderful journey in learning about yourself and people.

There are so many places i want to visit but my top 3 are 1. Machu Pichu, Peru   2. Cuba (Before it gets commercialised)  3. Petra, Jordan

What do you most value in your friends ...

Trust & Dependability  

What are your favourite words, what are you reading, just now ... 

Oooo… there are so many great quotes. Two of my favourites are from my favourite book, East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

The first is “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

The second I have tattooed on my arm, “Timshel”, which means Free Will in Hebrew. I won’t try to explain it as it’s so much better coming from Steinbeck, but people should look out for this passage.

I am currently reading “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac and the 3rd book from Neale Donald Walsh’s trilogy “Conversations with God” 

Share some words of wisdom ...

Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something. Get out there and experience as much as possible.

And, it’s good to fail.

 

-----------------------------

Thank you for joining us Nick.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable