Tag Archives: chocolate

Where is Your Happy Place?

When life is throwing shards of ice at you, your head is ready to explode,
or you are just in a dark, bottomless pit (figuratively – otherwise you’re not going anywhere…), where do you go? Where’s your happy place?

Where is your Happy Place - Lisa Shambrook - The Last Krystallos
Last week I blogged about water – it’s my happy place. Where’s yours?

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Feet in the water © Lisa Shambrook

I am happiest when I have my feet in water, down at the beach, letting waves ebb and flow as I splash through the ocean. This is where I am in my element. It revitalises me, lifts me, and energises me. It calms me, relaxes me, and soothes my spirit. Sometimes, if I can’t get to the sea, I can sit by or dabble my feet in a river, and the rush of water will still my senses. The sound, the movement, the texture of water all affect me, and without doubt it’s where I am happiest.

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© Lisa Shambrook

Woodlands and forests have a similar effect. The magic of trees, bluebells, wild anemones, winding tracks and pathways offer me another place of happiness and retreat. Listening to the wind whisper, fae glancing through flowers, and even trickling streams take me away from the troubles outside and stresses decrease.

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High on a Mountain Top © Lisa Shambrook

My oldest daughter loves mountain tops, the rugged landscape and the freedom of the wind and the air. I, too, feel alive when I stand upon mountains and hillsides!

Where are my other happy places? How do I cope when I can’t get out and throw myself headlong into nature?

My dog and my cats are another safe zone. They have the added bonus of interacting with you too. I’d never known complete unconditional love, until I owned a dog. Her dependence on me is total and she gives me everything. Deep chocolate brown eyes and loyalty that’s unheard of in most creatures, including humans. If things are bad, she knows and she’ll sit beside me with her head on my knees.  She also gets me out, dog walking, and into nature every day! She is my happy place.

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Misty, Raven and Roxy © Lisa Shambrook

My cats, though more conditional with their love, are also there for me. Run your fingers through soft fur and listen to a cat’s purr, and you can’t fail to feel better. One reason why it’s proven that the older generation live longer and happier when they own a pet, is that they give you love and a reason to go on.

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Writing and Art © Lisa Shambrook

My other releases are writingnothing takes me away from stress and trouble than losing myself in another world, in words and places that don’t exist outside my head – and creativity. Making things, stories, or art, or craft, take me to happy places.

All these things, all these happy places can be solitary, or with my family. My family are always welcome in all my happy places – they make my happy places even better!

Where are you happy places?

Where do you go when it’s all too much?

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Chocolate © Lisa Shambrook

PS. We probably shouldn’t forget chocolate…that’s always a happy place!

Tell me about your Happy Place…

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Chocolate Heaven – What’s your favourite?

Chocolate Heaven – What’s your favourite treat?

Chocolate Heaven - What's your favourite - The Last Krystallos

Velvet luxury, happiness and pure delight – that is chocolate.

This seems to be the right time of year to write about chocolate. A couple of months past that chocolate fest which was Christmas, Valentine last Sunday, and the next chocolate fest of the year, Easter, right around the corner! Yes, rather tongue in cheek – because for me, every day is a chocolate day…or at least every day has chocolate potential!

Chocolate Heaven - What's your favourite? The Last Krystallos

Clockwise: Galaxy, Lindt Strawberry Cheesecake, Nestle Dairy Box, M&S Mint Whips © Lisa Shambrook

I’ve written before about Hot Chocolate, and I’ve literally traipsed around my town seeking out the best Hot Chocolate, but this is pure chocolate…and I want to know which is your favourite?

Hot Chocolate - Chocolate Heaven - The Last Krystallos

Clockwise: Hot Chocolate: Calon – Carmarthen, Calon Takeaway, Chocolate Utopia – Nottingham, and Calon © Lisa Shambrook

Chocolate contains chemicals which lift moods. It contains phenylethylamine and tryptophan, which both work as antidepressants by combining with dopamine which is naturally present in your brain, and produce serotonin, the neurotransmitter that creates feelings of happiness.

And since chocolate creates happiness, here’s a pic of what chocolate produces – endorphins! “What you see is a myosin protein dragging an endorphin along a filament to the inner part of the brain’s parietal cortex which creates happiness. Happiness. You’re looking at happiness.” (Shanna Germain FB)

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So, chocolate is a gateway to happiness, can you feel my whimsical adoration of this substance? Why don’t you tell me which chocolate you like best, so if we ever meet, I’ll know what to greet you with!


*Note: I appreciate the chocolates here are probably all British, let me know your favourite bars from wherever you are in the comments! Educate me…

favourite chocolate - the last krystallos

Chocolate © Lisa Shambrook

 

Autumn Bliss and my Favourite Hot Chocolate

It was actually September last year that I discovered
my most favourite ever hot chocolate…

I called it chocolate heaven!

autumn-bliss-and-my-favourite-hot-chocolate-the-last-krystallosBekah and I spent a couple of years wandering the streets of Carmarthen trying out all the hot chocolates in town and had fun compiling a ‘Best of’ list, which you can find in the aptly named ‘Hot Chocolate’ in the menu above. We thought we had a winner…then Calon Café and Interiors opened its doors and stole the show. There have possibly been new coffee shops in Carmarthen since, but we haven’t strayed!

Calon Hot Chocolate © Lisa Shambrook

Calon Hot Chocolate © Lisa Shambrook

As many know I suffer clinical depression and severe anxiety and, you know, chocolate helps.

Chocolate contains chemicals which lift moods. It contains phenylethylamine and tryptophan, which both work as antidepressants by combining with dopamine which is naturally present in your brain, and produce serotonin, the neurotransmitter that creates feelings of happiness.

It also contains anandamide, a chemical found in marijuana, but in tiny amounts, nowhere near enough to get you high! Anandamide was discovered by a scientist in 1992. He named it after the Sanskrit word ananda, which means bliss.

Sometimes you need chocolate, and don’t worry you can’t get addicted, no matter how much you crave it!

So, sometimes you can and should indulge, and one of my chosen ways is with a thick Spanish hot chocolate, topped with whipped cream…otherwise, I stock up on Lindt Lindor, Galaxy, Green & Blacks Organic Blood Orange Milk Chocolate, or Riesen…and I love Dairy Box if you’re offering!

This is why I love Calon’s Spanish Hot Chocolate…

Just walking into this coffee shop is a delight. Beautifully rustic, yet modern and comfortable, with earthy colours, wooden and metal tables, an eclectic mix of seating, including wooden chairs and leather sofas. A fire roars beneath the menu boards, and you can even buy the decorative wares that decorate the shop! It also offers conservatory seating in the quiet backstreet where it resides.

The hot chocolate is thick and full of flavour. Generously topped with cream, chocolate dusting and marshmallows if you so choose. Great temperature and great value! The chocolate is like velvet, and creamy, and tastes heavenly. Advertised as Spanish and certainly made me a convert to European hot chocolate…

For the taste alone, it comes out top, and is one of the best hot chocolates I’ve had. Absolute heaven!

Calon Cafe and Interiors, Carmarthen © Lisa Shambrook

Calon Cafe and Interiors, Carmarthen © Lisa Shambrook

Go on, you know you want to…and isn’t autumn the perfect time to wrap up warm
and pop out for the perfect hot chocolate?

What are your favourite chocolates?

Anyone for Cake?

Daughter has a bit of a cupcake fetish…don’t we all? After a few mishaps (some recipes just don’t work, do they?) Success!

Raspberry Chocolate Cupcakes:
Makes 12:
125g plain chocolate
125ml milk
30g cocoa powder, sifted
125g butter
110g castor sugar
2 eggs
125g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
Glaze:
400g plain chocolate
125ml double cream
raspberries 
Oven 325° (160°)
Place chocolate, milk and cocoa powder in pan, stir over low heat until chocolate melted and smooth, remove from heat and allow to cool.
Beat butter and sugar with electric whisk until fluffy, add eggs one at a time, still beating to combine. Sift flour and baking powder into small bowl then add flour and chocolate mixtures to butter mixture, combine.
Spoon into cake cases, bake for about 35 minutes or until skewer comes out clean, leave to cool on rack.
Glaze: Melt chocolate and cream over pan of simmering water. Spread over cupcakes and decorate with raspberries. Serve with whipped cream.

Go on, you know you want to…they’re gorgeous!