Which Molds Should I Use for Hot Cocoa Bombs?

When it comes to making hot cocoa bombs, or hollow spheres of chocolate filled with hot cocoa mix, marshmallows, and all sorts of other goodies, the unique shape is more than half the fun! But creating a hollow chocolate sphere can seem daunting. Fear not! It’s actually REALLY EASY! There are 2 main kinds of molds to use: polycarbonate and silicone. The classic size is 2.5-inch diameter for both, and each kind of mold makes half-spheres that you attach to make a whole cocoa bomb!

Classic Brick Red 2.5-inch diameter silicone hot cocoa bomb molds

Polycarbonate molds are hard, unflexible molds used mainly when you’re tempering chocolate. They’re durable and create a perfect half-sphere each time, but are not for beginners.

Silicone molds are easy to use and make great-looking cocoa bomb halves for anyone! They’re my choice for beginners. I have both classic brick red molds and yellow silicone molds for sale in my store, along with mini size and heart hot cocoa bomb molds! These are great no matter what kind of chocolate you use, but here are my chocolate recommendations.

For those who love a challenge, I’ll be carrying the polycarbonate molds soon, so stay tuned!

Love and cocoa bombs,

Natalie

Which Chocolate Should I Use for Hot Cocoa Bombs?

Of course there’s a WHOLE SECTION on this in the book Hot Cocoa Bombs, but I know you’re dying to know NOW: Which chocolate should I use to make my hot cocoa bombs? The answer is two-fold.

REAL chocolate OR MELTING WAFERS.

Real chocolate, the bar kind, usually used for baking or straight eating, requires tempering to hold the shape of a cocoa bomb. This is a semi-complicated process that takes time to master. It makes a shiny, stunning cocoa bomb, but it does take patience (and a thermometer!).

Melting wafers, melting chocolate, coating chocolate (or any variation on that name) is absolutely perfect for beginners because it is designed to melt quickly and smoothly and to retain it’s hardness and shine after cooling. Read: IT DOES NOT NEED TEMPERING! However, this is due to some fancy engineering and some added ingredients, so taste can suffer.

make sure it says MELTING WAFERS!

I absolutely recommend starting with my favorite high-quality, delicious-tasting melting wafers from Ghirardelli. They’re available HERE in my shop if you’re placing an order. You can also buy them on Amazon, at Target, Walmart, or sometimes your regular grocery store. They come in milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate. You can even purchase a variety pack of milk, dark AND white, to have one of each on hand for any cocoa bomb creation!

For colored chocolate, or bright white, Wilton makes great melting chocolate too, called Candy Melts. It’s a bit more waxy/oily, but it’s easily available in a multitude of colors at Walmart and Michaels. The bright white candy melts are my favorite for coloring with oil-based food coloring.

Learn more, including how to temper chocolate for hot cocoa bombs, in my new book Hot Cocoa Bombs, out now!

Hot Cocoa Bombs Book is here!

photo by Brianna Lynn Photography

The new book is finally here! Today, October 5, is launch day, which means this beautiful hardcover book full of 75 incredible recipes for hot cocoa bombs is available to buy on my website, Amazon, everywhere books are sold AND WALMART! Though honestly I think it will be a bit before most bookstores and Walmart actually HAVE the book 🙂

I’ve also put together a collection of the basic things you’ll need to make hot cocoa bombs, plus a few extra special things, on my shop. THERE IS MORE TO COME, TOO, so keep an eye out!

Love and hot cocoa bombs,

Natalie

4th of July Poem by Natalie Wise

From Shore to Midnight Shore 

By Natalie Wise

Oh, what a privilege to watch a star-spangled parade

At the golden-sunrise daybreak with a glass of lemonade

I do believe today’s the day to take back up our cause:

To live and love with honor and to find the time to pause

The mid-day heat is blazing and our thoughts turn introspective

We dip our worries breathless and emerge with fresh perspective: 

Life has some seeds, but that, you see, is part of all the fun

To see who can spit them farthest and laugh when day is done

The sticky night all glowing and the ice cream melting fast

When suddenly it dawns on me:  the year is half gone past

How very blessed we are to receive a second New Year’s Eve

And now it’s time to go and do instead of make-believe 

Give me a Main Street morning, an apple pie afternoon

A warm July night with the moon alight and the stars joined in by more   

Summer’s here and all is well from shore to midnight shore

Red, white, blue, brave and true for a bright tomorrow.

May God bless the USA and may God bless you!

*originally written for and published on Darling Magazine

DIY S’mores Kit Pail Hostess Gift for Summer

DIY smores kit

This easy DIY s’mores kit gift can be made with items all from the dollar store, grocery store, or even a gas station if you’re super short on time! Grab a basket, kids sand pail, or bucket and fill it with all the goodies needed for s’mores! It’s perfect for a bonfire, pool party, campout, night at the cabin, use of their RV, or any other summer get-together.

DIY smores kit

Have hostess gifts gone out of style? I sure hope not. This will make you a welcome guest wherever you go. Even if you aren’t going anywhere in particular, try making this summery, patriotic s’mores kit for yourself and your own family. These days, are, after all, memories in the making. And they’re worth a little extra effort, don’t you agree?

DIY smores kit

S’mores Kit Fixin’s:

-Graham crackers

-Marshmallows

-Chocolate bars

-Roasting sticks

-Napkins (these are from Packed Party, available at Walmart!)

Then add any extra fun, patriotic, summery items you can grab. Extra toppings/candy (Reeses? Nutella?), candy, patriotic straws, sparklers, pop rocks, pop its, miniature flags, miniature pinwheels, and tinsel galore.

The USA pom poms here are actually pens I picked up at Dollar General. The gold and silver tinsel are cupcake picks. The tinsel in the front is actually a barette! And the star in the middle fell off a party headband! But the overall look is what we’re going for, so get creative!

I stamped a custom tag to make this gift even more fun and personal. I used my favorite Heidi Swapp 4th of July stamp set to make the one here. The miniature wooden clothespin matches the wooden handles of the galvanized pail. All of the details just made me so happy.

DIY smores kit

Want TONS more ideas for easy, simple DIY gifts? Check out my book Gifts in Jars today! OR try one of my most popular crafts ever, the mason jar soap pump.

Happy summer!

Vintage Style Dress: Just Call Me Mrs. W

Just saying hello to the neighbors 1950s-like, you know! White picket fence, tomatoes on the porch, and plenty of patriotic bunting…this coral 1950s vintage style dress has me feeling like Mrs. Maisel. Just call me Mrs. W!

The dress is by one of my favorite designers, Lesley Evers. Her clothes are such high quality, handmade in California. I have this dress in THREE different patterns. It’s so flattering with the fitted bodice and a full skirt. Box pleats make the skirt full without looking overly puffy. I wore this dress to church and someone said I had “Jackie Kennedy vibes” which is like my ULTIMATE compliment to receive, except perhaps for Mrs. Maisel or Princess Kate vibes…

There are also POCKETS so that means it’s pretty much perfect. My hat is by my dear Behida Dolic. The shoes are almost-decade-old Blowfish. If you’ve been here for awhile, maybe you’ll remember this OLD post where I first got these shoes. That was when I lived in Florida! Here’s another adorable outfit with them, too. These are good’uns. Keepers. As are this hat and dress. They might be expensive at first, but they’ll last for years.

I love the vintage style. Both actual vintage and vintage-like. Yes, there were issues in the past. I look back with rose-colored glasses, to be sure, because I didn’t live it. But I can take the parts that I deem good enough to bring forward.

The keepers. Things like big sunhats, perfectly twirly dresses, saying hello to neighbors, patriotic bunting on a white picket fence, growing my own vegetables and herbs. Things like taking time to appreciate the way this dress feels on, that it was handmade, that these shoes have been on so many journeys with me, that wearing them makes me smile and it makes people who see me smile. Those are things worth bringing forward into EVERY day, don’t you think? I think so.

Outfit Deets

Dress: Lesley Evers

Sunnies: Random, not sure!

Hat: Behida Dolic

Shoes: Blowfish

Desk Fan: WFH Must-Have

Vornado pink desk fan

Do you work from home? Are you tired of sweative over your keyboard? I’ve added something to my MUST-HAVES for WFH! (see the entire updated work-from-home list here). Can you guess what it is? A desk fan. Vornado makes my favorite office space heater, so is it any surprise they would also make my new favorite fan? It is called the Vornado FIT Personal Air Circulator Fan (affiliate link). It’s also PINK! Or other colors, if you prefer.

I do have an in-window air conditioner (I live in New England, where central air is only a dream!). But that’s behind me and doesn’t offer the same air flow as a desk fan. It’s also expensive to run all day. So I try to reserve that for the hottest days. On most other days, this fan keeps me nice and cool! Plus it makes a great little hair-style glam booster for Zoom videos 😉

The slim profile of the Vornado FIT fan is actually my favorite part. The back legs fold up. This takes up very little desk-top space. Plus it slips in a desk drawer in cooler months. In addition to being slim and well-designed, this offers 2 speeds. In my opinion they are high speed and extra-high-speed. This desk fan is also very quiet. It’s a little pricey but you won’t be replacing it after a few months.

This gets my vote as a true work-from-home MUST HAVE item!

Read the full article on Work from Home Must-Haves here!

Ooh La La: Americana or French Style?

Americana or French Style?

Do you think this style is retro-Americana or vintage French style? The background says America, but the outfit says France! Don’t you love the word Francophile, which means a person who loves or admires French culture. It’s just fun to say, too…Francophile. So call me a committed Francophile, despite my porch decorations.

Ooh La La!

This outfit is so fun for June…it just shouts SUMMER at the top of its lungs. The striped, French-inspired red striped t-shirt with navy blue embroidered “Ooh La La” is so fun. I love the half-sleeves too…you don’t see those too often and I think they are super flattering. It was thrifted, of course, for 25 cents on quarter day!

I look ready for summer camp!

I paired this cute tee with vintage washed-silk pleated, paper-bag-waist shorts. Also thrifted on half-off day for $2.99 they are vintage Express. Of course, POCKETS add to the appeal of these shorts and they are flowy enough to feel like a skirt. They are keeping me ultra-cool, perfect for this 90-degree heat-wave we’ve been having. I haven’t decided if they’re flattering or not (I’m leaning towards not…leave your vote in the comments!), but they are comfy indeed!

What do you think of the vintage silk shorts? Let me know in the comments if they’re keepers or not!

I wore my rose-gold FitFlop sandals and my new bespoke straw hat. The FitFlop sandals were purchased during their Black Friday sale, of course (always shop a sale!).

THE HAT

I purchased my handmade hat full-price as an “I finished writing my new book!” splurge from my friend Behida Dolic’s atelier in Hudson, NY. She’s a true artisan, creative, beauty-maker, love-giver, and all-around fantastic human being, so it was worth every. penny (AND IT WAS A LOT OF PENNIES). But it makes me feel like a million bucks, truly!

Then I added my favorite red lipstick to complete the French Riviera-inspired look. It’s Jane Iredale’s lipstick called “Natalie,” which is obviously perfect. Don’t you just want to hop on a boat and eat gelato when you look at this outfit? It has a bit of an Audrey Hepburn vibe, don’t you think?

XO
Natalie

Outfit Deets

Sunglasses: Tiffany & Co.

Hat: Behida Dolic Millinery

Lipstick: Natalie by Jane Iredale

Earrings: J. Crew

Tee: LOFT

Shorts: vintage Express

Sandals: FitFlops

Nails: RedAspen Nail Dashes in Megan’s Mint Julep

The Blog is Back!

pink peony on vintage wooden crate
Happy Pretty Messy

Oh goodness, this has been a PROJECT, y’all. I transferred all of my old blog, Good Girl Style, here, so it now has a HOME! I know so many of you liked and missed my old posts. Here they are! However, they don’t look as pretty. YET! I’m still working on designing the new blog but I wanted you to have your Happy Pretty Messy, Good Girl Style inspiration now. So excuse the messy look for awhile. In the meantime, the happy is ALL still here!

XO Natalie

What is Half Sleeve Length in Clothing?

Half Sleeves, Yes Please!

Fashion Dictionary

In women’s clothing fashions, a half sleeve is a type of sleeve length and style. The sleeve ends *AT the elbow* or *3/4 of the way TO the elbow on the upper arm*. This type of sleeve length is between a short sleeve and a 3/4 sleeve length. As such, they may also be called elbow-length sleeves, but often end just above the elbow. This type of sleeve is regularly found on tee shirts, camp shirts and dresses. The sleeve can be tight to the arm, balloon-style, or loose.

Kate Middleton, or Duchess Kate, is fond of the half-sleeve and is often seen wearing it. She has worn this sleeve length in everything from a simple, casual white tee-shirt to a formal, full-length evening gown.

Who Should Wear a Half Sleeve?

A half sleeve length is flattering on most body types because the sleeve length tends to hit at the narrowest part of the waist. If you have a short-torso and the sleeve lands where your pants do, opt for a shorter sleeve, such as a cap sleeve or standard short sleeve.

This sleeve length is also good for either showing off toned arms (in tight sleeves), or covering less-toned arms in looser sleeves that cover more arm.

Pin Me for Future Reference!

See more photos of this outfit post for an example of a half sleeve tee shirt, this time worn with pleated shorts.

How Should I Wear a Half Sleeve Length?


Shop Dress Here! (aff. link)

This sleeve length is flattering with wide-leg pants and bell bottoms for a 1970s-style, because the longer sleeve length will help balance the visual weight of the wider bottoms. Again, make sure the sleeve is still hitting above the waist and they are not in alignment. It’s all about proportions! The half sleeve top is also flattering with a midi-length skirt or on a midi-length dress. Kate Middleton often opts for this sleeve-length which balances out cropped trousers or midi skirts/dresses as well.