What the Egg Cup?


I like to think of myself as being somewhat “cultured” when it comes to culinary delights. I don’t boast the most refined palate but I know that French Fries aren’t particularly French and I can identify great food when I taste it. I love to cook and I am rarely intimidated by the kitchen, that is until recently when I was taken aback as I prepared Saturday morning breakfast.

So, as I do on a regular basis I asked “P” what he would like for breakfast and he stated that he would like 2 boiled eggs and toast. No prob! Easy meal and a far cry from what I was preparing for…eggs, pancakes, toast, fresh squeezed juice. He wanted none of that, just eggs and toast. I was secretly hoping for something simple and my wish was granted….so I thought. I headed into the kitchen and took two eggs out of the fridge and popped a few slices of toast into the toaster all the while rejoicing that I can go back to relaxing in minutes because this meal practically cooks itself! I can do this with my eyes closed.  So simple! Eggs boiled. Toast a lovely golden brown. Just as I’m preparing to dish up I hear “P” calling from the bedroom,  “The egg cups are in the bottom cupboard, dahhhhling!” My face goes puzzled and I’m thinking that he can’t be serious. EGG CUPS??? What the ____???? eggCupBig I open the drawer and sure enough there they were. Two egg cups staring at me. Really? What the heck am I supposed to do with these? I mean, I am familiar with them but I have never seen anyone actually use them. I have seen them a few times on programs such as the Antique Roadshow and apparently there are people called pocillovists that have a real affinity for egg cups so they choose to collect them.   I quickly place the boiled eggs into the cup, buttered the toast and served them. At this moment I became intrigued.  I MUST see this in action. How on earth and why on earth would anyone use this cumbersome little thing to eat something that is already delicate?

“P” sits down and it wasn’t long before he notices that I am intently staring. He truly believes that this is normal! He proceeds to cut the top off of the hard shell of the egg and all of a sudden his face goes sour. WAIT A MINUTE! There is no way to mess up a boiled egg! I even served it up in these fancy little pretentious, pointless, little cups…what could possibly be the problem???

Apparently the point of the egg cup is to serve up SOFT-boiled eggs using the cup to catch all of the runny bits.  In all of my life I have never known anyone to eat soft-boiled eggs. Not to tick off the good people at the American Egg Board (yes they exist www.aeb.org), but can you say, SALMONELLA! It’s just not considered an American classic. In the southern states we eat hard-boiled eggs and certainly not from egg cups. Additionally “P” informed me that the dish is actually called Boiled Eggs and Dipping Soldiers. The toast is to be cut into strips and used to dip into the runny yolk. My first thoughts #1 Gross and #2 WHY?

Soft Boiled Eggs and Dippy Soldiers

Soft Boiled Eggs and Dippy Soldiers


Novelty Soldier Egg Cup

Novelty Soldier Egg Cup

After expressing much hate and disdain over being defeated by an egg cup and an edible line up of soldiers,I have come to accept and appreciate the presentation element and daintiness of the cup. Coupled with some fresh fruit and a tasty Mimosa, this is an ideal meal for brunch.

Gift Giving for the Cheap, Frugal or Monetarily Challenged

I am cheap. I have a hard time purchasing items that are not on a sales rack and on top of that I never get excited about gift giving. I feel anxiety when I think of purchasing that present for a relative or friend. Is it “their color”, their style and is it something that they need or want? I cringe at the thought of my hardworking £10.99 being used to purchase a singing mounted fish that will just collect dust in a dark corner of an attic because frankly who actually likes those things? So, I have comprised a list of rather thoughtful, lovely gift ideas that won’t cost you anything other than time. As a matter of fact most of them don’t require you to leave the comfort of your home and all of them will allow you to dodge those brutal crowds and heinous mash-ups of Christmas songs blarring over loud speakers. I know it is Christmas Eve…kinda late to be thinking of gift giving you say?  Nope, this list is perfect for not just the frugal, reluctant gift giver but it is for the seasonal procrastinator as well!

1. Give the gift of literacy.  Have a really good book just sitting on your shelf? Why keep it to yourself? There is nothing like sharing a really good book with a friend. Not only is it warming but it can also be a conversation piece as they move through the chapters. Why not attach an inscription for them to pass it along to someone that they care about as well.

2. Write a loving HANDWRITTEN letter. In this age of technology,  we are often inundated by texts and e mails. Don’t get me wrong I fully appreciate the mass Christmas morning text messages that I get from friends and family wishing me a happy holiday but there is nothing that touches the soul like a good ole handwritten letter. This makes a great gift to your partner. I am certain that there are couples out there that couldn’t identify each others handwriting if they had to but could very well identify their text messages. Bring it back to basics and he or she would love you for it! If you have a little one get them involved. Have them write a letter as well. Grandparents melt at the sight of hand made gifts from the kiddos. NuNu loves to write letters!

NuNu's letters often involve food requests!

NuNu’s letters often involve food requests!

3. I will give you the world! Ok, maybe not but having the opportunity to explore the land makes for a wonderful gift. Are you a modern day Daniel Boone/Davy Crockett? Love the outdoors? Familiar with all of the hiking trails from the East to West Coast? Put together a day hiking trip for interested friends and family. Your gift? You will be the trail guide for the day. Nothing like bundling up for a bit of scenery and fitness. Make this gift even more of a hit by choosing a spot that runs by a river/stream for aesthetics and supply a light lunch.


4. Give the gift of light…candlelight that is. Why wait for Valentine’s Day to invite your sweetie over for a romantic candlelight dinner? Taking the time to prepare a christmas dinner screams LOVE and partnered with candles says I MADE AN EFFORT. You will indeed have a Merry night!

5. Forgiveness. There is no better time than around the holidays to mend a strained relationship. Forgive a person that has apologized for a wrong doing or if you are in need of apologizing to someone and it is weighing on you, give him or her a call. It may be a gift for them but it will also give you a renewed spirit as we head into the New Year.

6. A garden. Have a green thumb? Save some of your seeds and put them in a cute little pouch with ribbon or even monogrammed brown paper bags. Type up instructions for planting and caring for those beautiful flowers or edible plants and the recipient will be grateful.

7. Food! If your famous homemade lasagna is always a hit at every potluck and you are willing to part with the recipe (to those that can keep a secret of course) then why not type it up and give it to your closest confidant. If you are into baking sweet treats such as cookies, cakes or breads, place the dry ingredients in a mason jar with the recipe tied to the lid with twine or ribbon. Christmas-Cookies-in-a-Jar8. Regift! This is an old tried and true answer to gift giving. Some see it as tacky but really it is resourceful. Personally I would much rather for someone to regift an item to a person that will make use of it. With that being said, if any of my readers have any “unwanted” accessories (jewelry, scarves, vintage purses) I will be more than happy to take them off of your hands!

9. Coupons. There are two ways you can go with this. If you know a couponing king or queen you can clip coupons from the Sunday paper, arrange them nicely with a note wishing them a joyful holiday. For penny pinchers this will be a much welcomed gift. If you are up to offering your own set of services you can make out coupons for those you love. Coupons for date night babysitting for the busy couple in your life or lawn mowing for your neighbor will be an instant hit!

10. Hugs and Love. I don’t like getting into a person’s personal space but everyone could use a good cuddle every now and then.  Pick up the phone and call someone that you care about and tell them just how much they mean to you. Hearing “I LOVE YOU” is the most valuable gift you can give and it doesn’t cost a thing!

It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving” ~Mother Teresa

Mama Biashara: Business Mother, Advocate, Author, Comedic Critic and Sex Maven…Kate Copstick


Since being in London I have stumbled across some AMAZING places. I have had some truly jaw dropping experiences,  and it just gets better and better. Typically these encounters happen when I am simply just minding my business and getting on with my normal day to day.

I do my groceries in Shepherds Bush, West London. I like the feel that I get just walking down the street. The people and vibe make you feel as if you are in the midst of something great and interesting even when you are just going out to do the weeks shopping . For the past few months I’ve gone to W12 Shopping Centre. I go in. I leave out. That is until recently when I felt a pull to explore what was on the other end of the building.  My eyes instantly lit up. I’m in love. A shop! A charity “museum” of sorts, filled with fabulous, bright colors and loads of unique, handmade merchandise. A sign, “MAMA BIASHARA” adorned the store front window.

I walk in and I am greeted by smiling faces. I hear a voice coming from the rear of the shop near the register and I see a woman. She’s wearing glasses and she looks like she’s conducting business. Even though there is laughter I can tell there is a passion behind her words. This was Mama Biashara (Business Mother) Kate Copstick herself!

To be honest, when I began this post I thought that it would be comprised of bits of information and photos of all of the great items on display but as I started my research I uncovered and discovered so much more. Not only does Mama Biashara have lovely goods but it also encompasses a few other things that I have a passion for. Community, charity, sexual health and the empowerment of women all based on the vision of one Kate Copstick.

In order to touch on the greatness that is in the shop I had to explore the drive behind the force that created it.

Kate Copstick is a controversial comedic critic, an author, actress and long time contributor/owner of the Exotic Review (a publication that focuses on sexuality an eroticism). She is also what some refer to as a hard core feminist, opinionated and strong. On first glance you would wonder how does one find time to be a champion for Children With Aids Charity here in the UK, conquer many professions and manage to help others abroad. Well, that’s exactly what Kate does.

Kate Copstick travels often to some of the most impoverished areas of Kenya. Through her travels she quickly realized that there was a great need and instead of just simply making a one off donation she decided to put the power back into the hands of the people by assisting them with entrepreneurial endeavors. She meets with women and conducts business workshops. She gives business grants to women that have a desire to start or restart their small businesses. Sounds angelic but Kate is no pushover. She’s tough skinned and has no problem turning away those that are likely to misuse the funds. Her tough stance reflects the motto of Mama Biashara, “A Hand Up, Not a Hand Out.”

Beautiful images on fabric found in the shop

Beautiful images on fabric found in the shop

With these business grants, Mama Biashara is able to put the power back into the hands of the women that she helps.  Just 25 will help start up a business selling vegetables or second hand clothing. That is less than what many of us spend on a night out. Through her travels Kate often keeps a detailed diary of her experiences and uses it as a way to keep family and friends of Mama Biashara up to date.

I was particularly thrilled to know that Mama Biashara works with commercial sex workers in Nairobi to give them other options to support themselves and their families financially. Additionally, many of the women that seek assistance from Mama Biashara are HIV positive but equally as  heavy, they are impoverished and looking for other means of survival. Mama Biashara will set them up with other businesses which will bring them one step closer to being free from their vulnerable circumstances. Anyone that knows Cocoa, knows that Sexual Health/HIV Prevention/Education and Advocacy are subjects that are extremely close to my heart having worked in the field for a number of years. Kate also provides information regarding safe sex practices/HIV/STI Prevention.

On her travels to Kenya, Kate takes with her  some much needed supplies such as vitamins, supplements, condoms, and medicines to help does that are in need. She brings back merchandise, fabrics, jewelry, shoes, handbags etc. These materials are sold in Mama Biashara’s shop and the money that is made is put back into the community to help fund the grants and many important programs in Kenya.

On my visit to the Mama Biashara shop, I had the fortunate experience of meeting Prudence Maseko, a designer and small business owner that displays her items within the shop. She raved about the philanthropic efforts of Mama Biashara in regards to women in Kenya but she also expressed how thankful she was that Mama Biashara helped her, a woman living right in London. Prudence hand knits her designs (purses, scarves, etc) and displays them in the shop to be sold. In turn she volunteers her time with the charity.

Myself, I couldn’t help but walk away with a renewed drive and inspiration to help others as well as some fabulous one of a kind earrings!

Mama Biashara needs your money! If you would like information about Mama Biashara and how to donate to the cause,  please visit http://www.mamabiashara.com/.

Visit the shop at

Address: West 12 Shopping Centre
Shepherds Bush Green, Shepherd’s Bush
London, W12 8PP

Here are some lovely shots of just some of the merchandise on display for sale: Scarves, Jewelry, Handbags, Clothing, Fabric, Home Decor…and so much more!

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Cocoa’s Sweet Reads: Books for London…Book Swaps


I dislike long commutes. This is especially true if I happen to leave behind my faithful sources of entertainment: my tablet, headphones or whatever book I am currently reading. There is nothing worse than a 2 hour commute with nothing to listen to aside from the rumbling of the train, commotion of people entering and exiting and the bustle of the Evening Standard being read by others.

Imagine the excitement that I felt when taking a long trip on the Northern Line to Morden Station when I realized that they have a book swap…right in the station! Score one for Transport for London and score one for this self proclaimed geek! I almost found myself breaking out in dance Carlton Banks style!

Books For London is an initiative that aims to provide a London wide book sharing scheme to London’s tubes and stations. This is perfect for those of us that still like the feel of an actual book in our hand as opposed to the many e-readers that are available. It is also ultra handy for those with busy lifestyles that doesn’t allow for much time to peruse the local library. On your way to work you can pick up a sweet read and not have the pressure of returning it. This is not only a convenience but it supports literacy, and it is a very “green” scheme.  According to Books For London a whopping 13 million books are sent to UK’s landfills each year. Instead of tossing your old books you can donate them to your local book swap for your fellow commuters to enjoy, a literature up-cycle of sorts!

Books For London is such a grand campaign that it was the winner of the 2011 Ideas4Mayor competition receiving accolades from the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

If you are interested in picking up a book or donating to the cause you can find a current list of participating locations by clicking here:


Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right…. Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.” ~Kofi Annan