A Lush Christmas – Part Two

Welcome to part two of my reviews on this years Lush Christmas range – I hope you enjoyed the last blog and have managed to get your hands on some of their fantastic products! Here is the second batch of lovely products I’ve tried out from Lush’s Christmas range –

Thundersnow Bath Bomb

Thundersnow Bath Bomb is described as a “peppermint and cocoa absolute weather bomb” and some fellow Lushie’s have described it as smelling of mint chocolate chip icecream!

I’m not overly fussed on mint flavours so I was pleased that this smelt more of cocoa than peppermint, in fact the peppermint is surprisingly subtle.

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Thundersnow is quite a violent fizzer and really does look like a snow storm is going off in your bath water! The bath bomb contains popping candy which crackles like an icy hailstorm, and it takes a good ten to fifteen minutes to fully dissolve!

After the bath bomb has dissolved you are left with lovely turquoise water with pockets of fluffy white cloud like foam, which looks just like the sky would after a nasty storm has passed.

The scent is really refreshing and the cocoa butter contained in Thundersnow leaves your skin feeling really moisturised and soft. Although part of the Christmas range, it would be ideal in the hot summer months to cool and refresh the skin. I really enjoyed using Thundersnow, especially for the bath art and the crackling of the popping candy – one I would definitely use again!

Butterbear Bath Bomb

Butterbear is basically the Butterball Bath Bomb by another name over the Christmas season. It is only a small little bath bomb but certainly packs a moisture punch!

I hadn’t realised this until recently but apparently it is a small bath bomb because it is designed to be used alongside another bath bomb to add some additional oils and butters to moisturise the skin – I think I will have to try this next time!

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The scent is rather a straightforward one – you can mainly detect vanilla and cocoa butter but it also contains ylang ylang oils and a sprinkling of cocoa powder on top.

Butterbear is a fast fizzer which releases lots of tiny little beads of oil into the water, some of which stick to the side of the bath tub which is slightly annoying so don’t forget to scoop them up and use them before you get out!

A lovely version of a Lush classic, and one which is brilliant for the cold winter months to moisturise and replenish dry and damaged skin. Not as effective as the original Butterball bath bomb, but I think this is only because Butterbear is slightly smaller than the usual Butterball bath bomb, an excellent winter warmer!

The Snowman Bubbleroon

Named “bubbleroon” due to the design being similar to that of a mararon, I fell in love with this little guy when I first saw him as part of Lush’s Christmas collection!

I usually cut up and crumble all my bubble bars and put them in pots so they are ready to sprinkle under running bath water, but it was so hard cutting this little guy up! Look at his little face! It was very hard to chop up such a cute little creation!

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This little guy is made up from some great ingredients – cocoa butter, sicilian lemon oil, lemon myrtle oil, shea butter, soya milk powder and dried juniper berries for his little eyes and buttons!

He isn’t a particularly big bubble bar – you could probably get three uses out of it in total but to be honest I would recommend chopping him up and using half in one go to get a worthwhile bath out of it!

It is really hard to explain but once this bubble bar has been sprinkled under running water, under the mounds of fluffy snowy bubbles, the water almost looks like a snow storm! A white misty fog like water, it was really effective! The water was also incredibly soft and moisturising – I really didn’t want to get out the bath! I’m glad I bought a few of these to stock up – it won’t get any easier chopping up his little face before I crumble him into the bath though!

Christmas Cracker Bubble Bar

I loved the look and design of this one and when it arrived in my order I knew I was going to love it because the scent is amazing – it reminds me of those chewy lemon sherbet Refresher bar sweets!

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Apparently Christmas Cracker is not a new product but was redesigned to look far more attractive, and it seems to have worked, as Lushie’s are regularly reporting that they much prefer this new design.

This cracking design (ha ha do you see what I did there?!) is made up of cocoa butter, lemon myrtle oil, lime oil, and neroli oil and is even jam-packed with popping candy for extra effect.

Once it is crumbled under running water the lovely zesty refreshing fragrance fills the bathroom and makes it smell just like a lemon sherbet. It would be perfect for an early morning bath to awaken your senses and perk you up for a long busy day ahead!

The fragrance stays with you long after you leave the bath and I could still detect some of the fragrance on my skin several hours later. The lemon oil is great for cleansing the skin and clearing out your pores and the neroli oil has natural anti-inflammatory properties which makes it perfect for oily and blemished skin.

The bubble bar is a really good size and I think you would easily get four baths out of this one if you wanted to, I did use a third of the bubble bar in one go and found that this was perfect and produced lots of fluffy bubbles in a lovely orange shade of water. The sounds of popping candy were great as I was unwinding in the bath as well!

I did find the bubble bar to be moisturising but not as much as I had anticipated – I wasn’t sure why why this was as it does have cocoa butter in? Still, this wouldn’t put me off from buying several more of these beauties – I really enjoyed using it and have bought a couple of them for family and friends too so I hope they enjoy it as much as I did!

My Two Front Teeth Bubble Bar

I was unsure about this one – I get the idea, that it is based on the song “all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth” but still, it is a bit of a strange one!

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I did love the sound of the ingredients though – lavender oil, tonka absolute, vanilla absolute and neroil oil! Lovely. I could only really detect the scent of vanilla and tonka absolute and the scent of lavender was barely detectable at all, however the bath was so relaxing, I knew one of the main ingredients must have been lavender!

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The bubble bar made a bath full of lovely soft, relaxing bubbles and turned the bath water into a beautiful shade of light purple. The water was really moisturising and this was another bath that I spent as long as I could in!

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I’m not particularly keen on the design, and it isn’t a massive bubble bar (you could stretch it to three baths but I think it would be far more worthwhile splitting the bubble bar into two uses), but the smell is lovely enough to make me buy some more to last me over the next few months. At least I won’t feel as bad cutting and chopping this one up as I do with the Snowman Bubbleroon!

Berry Berry Shower gel

I couldn’t wait to try this – it is a bright green shower gel full of glitter which smells of berries – perfect! It isn’t particularly Christmassy I would say, but was still one of the products on the top of my list to try from the Lush festive range.

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Berry Berry is made up of cranberry infusion, sweet wild orange oil, fresh blueberry juice, bergamot oil and olive leaf absolute. Cranberry is known for its cleansing anti-oxidants.

The gel itself is quite thick and produces a really lovely fluffy lather so I think this bottle will last me ages! It left my skin feeling lovely and soft and moisturised, however Berry Berry shower gel is also now available in the “naked” version, and fellow Lushie’s have reported that the naked version of the product is more moisturising than the shower gel in a bottle version – I think I will have to invest in one of these to test out the theory!

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I hope they will bring this scent out in a bubble bar or bath bomb version!

Santa’s Belly Shower Jelly

I have to admit I am not a massive fan of shower jellies. I’ve got a few stocked up and I’ve already made a promise to myself that I won’t buy anymore as they tend to be the last product I reach for to be honest….

One Lushie recommended putting the jellies into a food mixer to make them into a mushy-liquid type consistency to make them easier to use but I haven’t attempted to try this yet, I’m worried how they will turn out!

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Anyway, I ordered one of these to try because I wanted to know what the scent was like and when it arrived I was pleased to find that it is shaped into a half-sphere shape rather than the normal “tub” shape. This made it easier to get in and out of the pot, and a million times easier to use in the shower as it was a perfect shape to hold in the palm of your hand whilst running it over your skin.

With the other shaped jellies I find they slip out of your hand and are incredibly difficult to hold onto, or break off or are really difficult to get to lather up.

The added glitter to the top of the jelly was a bonus too, it made it feel all the more Christmassy!

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Santa’s Belly contains lots of lovely ingredients including star anise infusion, carrageenan (seaweed) extract, fresh apple juice, red grape juice, bergamot oil, rose absolute, neroil oil and orange flower absolute! Wow!

I think the most prominent smell in this jelly is the apple scent – quite strong but fresh and crisp smelling. You can almost detect the rose smell as well, but don’t let this put you off if you aren’t a fan of flowery scents – I’ve already bought a couple more of these for stocking fillers for the guys as it is an almost musky rather than flowery aroma.

This shower jelly is easier than normal jellies to lather up, and leaves your skin feeling very silky smooth. It is still quite tricky to keep hold of but gets easier with practice! If you are struggling then you can always lather them up in a shower pouf or sponge, which is just as effective. The scent is long-lasting and I was still able to smell it several hours after using it in the shower.

Not necessarily one of my favourite scents, but I would say it was my favourite shower jelly, I’m pleased I bought a few as stocking fillers as they have a lovely all round scent and are a bit of a novelty item as well!

Santa Baby Lip Scrub – Pot

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this lip scrub – I meant to get one last year and didn’t get round to it! The only lip scrub I use on a regular basis is the bubblegum flavoured one so I was looking forward trying a new flavour.

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The Lush lip scrubs are incredible – simply scoop some out of the pot on your fingertip and slather all over your lips and then give it a good rub to exfoliate and leave your lips feeling soft and smooth. Don’t rub too hard though – it really does the trick and can leave your lips feeling a bit sore if you aren’t careful!

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The lip scrubs are made of caster sugar which is what gives them their exfoliation qualities, and Santa Baby contains extract of cherries and dates in jojoba oil which give it its delicate but lovely smell. Santa Baby is also full of lovely scented oils to moisturise your lips and create the overall “cola” flavoured scent, including extra virgin coconut oil, lime oil, aniseed oil, and black pepper oil!

As an added bonus it also contains little red hearts for effect! I love the scent and I love the lip scrub products so this one is a win-win! A couple of lucky people will find a pot of this in their Christmas Eve boxes this year too!

Santa Baby Lip Scrub – Naked Version

This year Lush have really gone all out to try and reduce the amount of packaging their products come in, so one of these fantastic creations are their lip scrubs in a “naked” packaging free version!

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They are almost like little bars of soap and if you read my Halloween Lush blog which included a review of the Black Rose Naked lip scrub you’ll know I wasn’t too keen on the thought of these to start with! I was concerned with the germ factor seeing as you would be holding the scrub on one end and then applying it to your lips with the other, but as soon as I used the Black Rose naked lip scrub I was a complete convert!

The naked lip scrubs are far easier to use and far less messy and you also have far more control over how abrasive you are with the scrub when applying it to your lips. I find the texture much nicer as it is gritty but not crumbly and messy and also find it to be far more moisturising than its potted lip scrub equivalent! I urge you to give these a try!

Tree-D Bath Melt

I love the design of this one! It comes in two halves which you slot together and it looks really effective! Be careful when storing bath melts, particularly this time of year with warm houses and the heating on as they do start to melt much easier than other Lush products!

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Tree-D melts really slowly when you put it in the bath water and it’s really quite mesmerising! It smells amazing, and contains some fantastic ingredients including Cocoa butter, almond oil, tangerine oil, and grapefruit oil!

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The tangerine and grapefruit oil are uplifting and great for refreshing and toning, and the almond oil is brilliant hydration for the skin and hair.

Once Tree-D has completely dissolved you are left with a lovely green coloured bath water which is full of lovely moisturising and scented oils! Tree-O is probably my favourite bath melt so far! If you don’t want to use it all at once then just use one half at a time, that makes this £4.50 purchase even better value for money!

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Highly recommended! A lovely Christmas themed product ideal for those cold winter months – I’m definitely going to stock up on a few of these on my next Lush visit!

Candy Cane Roulade Shower Smoothie

I’m not a massive fan of really strong mint flavoured products – I like softer spearmint scents rather than peppermint flavours but I was looking forward to trying this product as it sounded like a perfect combination! A shower scrub, soap and moisturiser all rolled into one!

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I was a bit disappointed when it arrived, it isn’t as solid as the soaps and so where it had got slightly warm and was wrapped in a cellophane wrapper, it had started to “sweat” and leaked a bit over the other products which was a bit frustrating.

The shower smoothie contains fresh mint and cypress oil. The scent is definitely minty but is by no means overpowering, more a sweet and refreshing minty smell, which is where I suppose the Candy Cane name came from!

The roulade itself is just like a candy cane – red and white striped – with the red layer being made from honeydew melon pulp. This holds the softer, creamy layer together and also makes it easier to keep a grasp on while in the shower. Candy Cane roulade also contains cocoa butter and cedar wood oil to moisturise your skin, and when you use it, it gives off a lovely invigorating minty sweet smell which lasts throughout your shower and on your skin for some time after.

I was a bit disappointed at the amount of lather it produces (I do like a lot of lather!) but I wonder if this is because I didn’t use the whole bar and only cut a chunk off instead (as I do with all my soap products). A fellow Lushie recommended breaking a piece off and then lathering it between your hands before putting it on your skin which is more effective than trying to lather it on your skin – I will give this a go next time and see how I get on.

I found after using it that my skin was lovely and soft and moisturised but overall I was a bit non-plussed about this product, perhaps because minty products are not my favourite. Plus the £6.95 price tag for a relatively small product was a bit off-putting, especially because the chunk I cut off to use was nearly all gone after just one shower!

Would I buy this product again? Probably not I’m afraid!

Saucy Snowcake Soap

This is going to sound rather strange but I am still a bit undecided about this soap! It looks absolutely amazing and I love the design and most of its ingredients, but there’s one of the ingredients that makes the scent a little bit strange…. I haven’t quite figured it out yet!

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Apparently this soap is a re-invention of the Snowcake soap, which was very popular with Lushie’s, so this new design has been met with a mixture of both positive and negative reviews.

Saucy Snowcake’s ingredients are a mixture of regular, popular ones such as cranberries, rose absolute, organic clove infusion and cassie absolute, and then some more unusual ingredients like white breadcrumbs and cashews! It also contains cocoa butter and coconut oil for moisturising purposes.

The soaps middle layer is the ground cashew nuts which are designed to exfoliate, which they do very well, but which are also a little bit scratchy so be careful! The soap itself does not produce much lather at all which is a real downside for me, but the cranberry top layer is very fruity and uplifting which is a nice touch. The soap also did leave my skin feeling really soft and moisturised, so as I say, I am a bit torn about this product…..

I am going to use it a few more times and see how I get on – if you guys invest in one I would be really interested to hear what you think of it!!

Anyway, that wraps up the second edition of my Lush Christmas range blogs! I will hopefully see you tomorrow for the third instalment for even more lovely, festive Lush treats!

A Lush Christmas – Part One

I knew I would have to start working my way through the Lush Christmas range early on in order to get the reviews ready for Blogmas but I had no idea that they would have such a huge range to work through this Christmas! I started using the Christmas products in early September and almost had to use a product a day to get through them in time to publish these blogs!

Here’s my first batch from this years exciting Lush Cosmetics range –

Snow Fairy Jelly Bomb

This came out earlier in the year as part of the Lush kitchen range and I missed out on it! I was stupid enough to think I could wait a couple of days after they were released to put in an order and of course they were all sold out! I looked for some on eBay and even considered buying two for £20! I’m glad I waited in the end as I managed to get my hands on loads at the beginning of September when Lush released its Halloween and Christmas range!

I’m pretty late to the party because the Snow Fairy scent has been around for a long time and major Lushie fans loved the scent and have since moved on to newer fragrances – however I may be “soooo last season” but I don’t care! I am ADDICTED to this scent and have bought multiples of each item this scent comes in!

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The Snow Fairy jelly bomb has a lovely strong scent – it is really sweet, almost like candy floss but also has almost a “cupcake”essence to it – you really must find your nearest Lush shop and go in and sniff the nearest Snow Fairy product!

The scent from the Snow Fairy jelly bomb stays with you throughout your bath and on your skin for ages afterwards – and I could even still smell this amazing scent hours later!

Just the same as most of Lush’s jelly bombs, this one is a fast fizzer and as soon as it hits the water, large pink blobs of amazing smelling jelly start floating across the water. Although a fast fizzer, it does take a while to completely dissolve, and a further 15 to 20 minutes until all of the jelly has dissolved.

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Although it feels really strange sitting in a bath of goo, give it time as in the end you are left with lovely smelling pink moisturising water!

The Snow Fairy jelly bomb left my skin feeling really smooth and soft, and the scent is so relaxing – this is definitely my favourite jelly bomb. I ordered a couple to try them out when the Christmas range was first released and as soon as I tried the first one, I ordered six more to stock up over the next few months!

Christmas Sweater Bath Bomb

I really liked the look and name of this bath bomb which is new for 2017 – I couldn’t wait to try it! As soon as Christmas Sweater went into the water, I knew I was going to love this bath bomb! It creates some of the best bath bomb art I’ve seen so far!

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Christmas Sweater bath bomb has a red-pink outer shell and yellow core which makes the bath water a lovely red colour. It is a slow and foamy fizzer which fizzes bright red until the core cracks open and yellow foam starts spilling out.

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The red coloured bath water goes really well with the scents in this winter warmer bath bomb which include cinnamon, ginger, clove bud oil and lemon oil. It also contains mustard powder and coriander seed oil to add that little bit of a kick!

The cinnamon smell is sweet but spicy and the lemon oil gives this bath bomb a sweet and fruity tinge. It really does smell (and look!) like all things Christmassy!

This bath bomb is amazingly relaxing, and one I can’t wait to have once I get home from a long day’s work in the cold, wet and dark winter months.

I will definitely be buying several of these in the run up to Christmas to stock up!

Plum Snow Bubble Bar

I love, love, love the look of this bubble bar! It is beautiful and really good value for money as it is HUGE! By far the biggest bubble bar out of Lush’s Christmas 2017 range!

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Plum Rain has a lovely berry scent but is more of a “perfume” scent than a natural scent. Plum Rain contains Osmanthus Absolute for soothing and calming purposes, Petitgrain Oil which is refreshing and uplifting and Sicilian Mandarin oil which is one of my favourite scents.

As Plum Rain is a huge bubble bar I did use around a third of it in my bath. It creates mounds of lovely fluffy bubbles and makes the water a lovely silky violet colour.

Not only is the water incredibly moisturising but the scent was also really relaxing! I really didn’t want to get out of this bath and stayed in it as long as I could until the water started going cold!

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This one is an absolute favourite – another product I’m going to stock up on before they stop producing them when the festive season ends!

Christmas Eve Bubble Bar

I have to admit I was a bit disappointed when this bubble bar showed up. I ordered three and they were all slightly damaged (nothing to do with the packaging as everything else in the box was fine so they must just be delicate) and the bubble bar itself (when compared to the likes of Plum Snow) was incredibly small.

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It is slightly cheaper than some of the other bubble bars on offer (£3.95 compared to £5.95 for Plum Snow), but still, I expected something a bit bigger.

I’m not entirely sure why they call it Christmas Eve…. yes it smells lovely but I don’t think it smells at all Christmassy! Christmas Eve however does contain some lovely ingredients such as Jasmine Absolute, Ylang Ylang oil and Gardenia Extract.

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After chopping up my bubble bar and worrying about the size of it, I sprinkled half a bar of it under my running bath water. It does smell beautiful and the scent is really relaxing, and after a few minutes you have a bath full of lovely fluffy bubbles!

I did like the scent, which is quite a potent flowery scent, but what I found really surprising about this bubble bar was how moisturising it was! It is probably one of the most moisturising bubble bars I have ever used. I wondered afterwards whether I should have actually split the crumbled contents into three rather than two, but it was lovely to have such a luxurious bath filled with blue silky bath water. The Jasmine scent stays with you throughout the entire bath and did stay on my skin for a couple of hours afterwards too.

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Not an absolute favourite, and I think the design needs a bit of work so it isn’t so easily damaged, but I am glad I bought three and would consider buying a couple more before they stop producing them.

Santa’s Christmas Shower Cream

I was really looking forward to trying this bright red thick shower cream! It’s got coffee and cinnamon in – two of my favourite scents ever!

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Santa’s Christmas also contains lime, black pepper and aniseed oils, although I did struggle to detect these individual scents when I opened the bottle.

With all these ingredients you would expect the scent to be quite overwhelming and complex but in fact I found the scent to be incredibly mild which, when it contains a lot of my favourite scents, was rather disappointing.

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If I had to describe the smell to someone I would describe it as a cola flavour but with a hint of vanilla scent, which is surprising as it doesn’t contain vanilla! I’m thinking it may be the cocoa butter I can detect. You can also just detect the cinnamon in the scent, but it isn’t as strong as I would have liked it to be.

I enjoyed using the shower cream and I am pleased that I stocked up on a couple – it contains cocoa butter and so left my skin feeling lovely and soft after use – I just didn’t find the smell strong enough for my liking. I couldn’t detect the coffee or aniseed scent at all when I used the shower cream which was pretty disappointing.

Be warned, as it is a cream rather than a shower gel, it doesn’t lather up as much as a shower gel or soap would, so you do find yourself using more than you would normally!

As I said, I’m pleased I bought a couple of bottles to last me, and I really do like the smell, I just hope that the recipe is altered slightly in the future to make the scent a bit stronger!

Snow Fairy Shower Gel

I couldn’t wait to try this after I fell in love with the Snow Fairy scent after using the Snow Fairy Jelly bomb! Without even trying it I stocked up on three of these to keep me going for the next few months!

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This lovely bright pink gel contains little glittery sparkles (which I didn’t realise had all sunk to the bottom so make sure you give your bottle a good shake before you use it!)

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Again it has a lovely candy-floss cross cupcake scent which is quite sickly sweet but absolutely addictive. Although it says shower gel on the bottle, Snow Fairy shower gel can be used as a shampoo as well!

This lovely gel lathers up really well and the scent gets even better once you are using it. I love the fact that the scent lasts a long time after you use it too! It leaves your skin feeling lovely and soft and the scent is really uplifting – I challenge you to use it and not feel in a relaxed and uplifted mood afterwards!

As expected, I highly, highly recommend it – go out and buy some to see for yourself!

Twilight Sparkle Bar

I wasn’t too sure what to make of these new “sparkle jars” Lush released as part of their Christmas range – I wasn’t sure what you were supposed to do with them really!

The website says to “massage this dreamily scented cocoa butter bar over warm skin for heavenly hydration. Press something pointy into the dimples and shake out the glimmering powder to help you get sleepy”.

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The Twilight Sparkle Bar contains cocoa butter, chamomile powder, lavender powder, lavender oil, tonka absolute and ylang ylang oil – all the ingredients you need to help you have a good nights sleep!

I love the smell of the Twilight bath bomb so I thought I would give it a try and did exactly what the instructions said! I massaged the bar over my skin and then poked through one of the holes in the top and sprinkled the lovely scented powder onto my skin.

The bar itself was lovely and moisturising, the cocoa butter works really well. The only downside I’ve found with it (and other Lushie’s have noticed this too) is that it does tend to leave the purple colour of the bar on your skin, so probably not best to use it before you are about to go out – unless that’s the look you are going for of course!

I only poked through one of the holes to start with as I wasn’t sure how much of the powder would come out, and I found this to be enough. The powder has a lovely calming, relaxing lavender scent and is perfect to put on just before you go to bed to help you get a good nights sleep.

A really unusual product, but a great idea! I bought a couple of these and a couple of the Snow Fairy versions (of course!), and I’m looking forward to using them over the next few months!

Christmas Rocker Soap

I bought this soap purely for the way it looked without even checking the ingredients! God I’m so easily sold on gimmicks!

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When it arrived I gave it a good sniff and to be honest I was pretty disappointed. The scent is hard to explain but isn’t citrusy at all… This really surprised me as Christmas Rocker contains dried apricots, tangerine oil, mandarin oil, bergamot oil, gardenia extract and both extra virgin coconut oil and organic cocoa butter… what an amazing sounding combination you would think? The scent almost smells chemically/like bleach which sounds bizarre, but if you pass by a Lush store, have a smell and see what you think!

In fairness it was a quite nice soap to use, the scent improved once it was used under the hot shower and my skin felt lovely and soft afterwards, but I just can’t get past the initial strange smell.

Maybe it will grow on me but until then, I don’t think I will be investing in another one…. such a shame.

Frozen Bath Bomb

Inspired by the Disney film of the same name – obviously!

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A lovely pale blue/green bath bomb, this bomb contains grapefruit oil and neroil oil which gives off a lovely floral and fruity scent.

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Frozen is a fast fizzer which spews out lovely thick white foam whilst the middle cracks open and releases a beautiful trail of blue foam with glitter, resulting in the bath water becoming a lovely shade of glistening blue, giving that frozen, “icy” effect. Despite not having much oil in this bath bomb, it leaves your skin silky smooth!

Frozen is one of my absolute favourite bath bombs, so I was gutted to find out earlier on this year that they have now discontinued it!! I have stocked up on as many as I can but they discontinued several other bath bombs which were my favourites at the same time so I had to get a big expensive order in quickly! What are you doing to me Lush???

Bye bye Frozen! Hopefully they will bring back limited edition versions in the Lush kitchen soon!

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Christingle Body Conditioner

This lovely minty smelling body lotion contains jojoba oil and murumuru butter which makes it really moisturising – so moisturising that you only need to use a tiny bit each time, so don’t be out off by the price tag of this (and other body conditioners) which are currently available.

The body conditioner contains menthol crystals and peppermint which is really stimulating on the skin, leaving a tingling sensation after you use it! The peppermint and spearmint smell is quite strong, but incredibly refreshing.

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To use the body conditioner, simply turn off the running shower water (so as to not wash it all down the plughole!) apply it and massage it into your skin and after a few minutes, wash the lotion off and gently pat your skin dry as you would normally.

You will find the body conditioner leaves your skin feeling slightly greasy for a while afterwards, so pat dry gently and then leave the conditioner to work it’s magic for about ten to fifteen minutes before you get dressed. After this time you will find your skin feeling really soft and smelling amazing!!

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I really enjoyed using this product and have already invested in some other body conditioners in different scents, but a word of warning – it is really easy to use too much product at a time, so go steady, as you really don’t need much product to get the results you want! Can’t wait to try the amazing smelling Bucks Fizz body conditioner!

Snowshowers Shower Jelly

There are several ways that you can use shower jelly –

Firstly, you can rub the whole block, or a broken-off piece, directly onto your skin. This isn’t my preference as it is very difficult to keep hold of the slippery sucker, plus I don’t fancy rubbing it onto my skin and then popping it back into the pot (bacteria etc!).

Secondly, you break off a piece around the size of a ten pence piece and then rub it into your sponge to lather up before rubbing it into your skin. I tried it with one of those shower scrub things and it didn’t work too well so a sponge may be better!

Some Lushies get the block out of its pot and cut it into bite sized chunks and then store it back in the pot so it is ready to go when they next need it! The other thing I love about shower jelly is that you can keep it in the fridge or freezer, ideal for using in the showers on those hot sticky summer days!

Snow Showers shower jelly is a milky white jelly scented with oranges and cognac! Ideal for those Christmas months! It has a really lovely citrusy zesty scent and its ingredients are orange oil, cognac oil and lime oil, along with elderflower and seaweed gel!

The smell reminds me of Calpol medicine, but don’t let this put you off – it smells AMAZING!

It lathers up quite well and the jelly version of Lush’s shower gels seem to go a lot further than their liquids. The downside to shower jellies? They are difficult to keep hold of, whatever size you use which unfortunately can result in a lot of the product being washed down the plughole! Not good!

Ice Hotel Bubble bar

Ice Hotel is inspired by the famous ice sculpted hotel in Sweden and was re-released earlier this year as part of the Game of Thrones themed product week.

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Ice Hotel contains lavender and mint, although I have to admit, I couldn’t detect the lavender when I was using it. Still, the scent of this bubble bar is incredibly uplifting and refreshing, due to the dominant minty scent.


The bar is a lovely white shimmery bar which is easy to cut up and crumble so you can use as much or as little as you like, I used a handful for my bath and would estimate that there’s probably two baths’ worth remaining. The handful I used created a huge amount of beautiful white fluffy bubbles which lasted for the duration of the bath, but don’t expect a colourful explosion – white bubbles is all you are going to get!

The water is really softening and I found that the effects were long lasting after I had got out of the bathtub and my skin felt really refreshed and cooled, in a similar way to the Christingle scent. Hubby loves this one!

So there you have it, my first of four blogs about Lush’s Christmas 2017 range! If you have enjoyed it – Part Two is out tomorrow!

Icebar London

I’ve actually been to two Ice bars in London and had a really great time in both! The first one I went to was in Heddon Street, Mayfair and the second one was in Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park – they are most definitely an experience which gets you into the winter spirit!

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The Icebar temperature is -5 degrees celsius and everything inside is made out of crystal clear ice harvested from the frozen Torne River in Jukkasjärvi, Northern Sweden!

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You spend time in the Icebar in 40 minute time slots (believe me, people struggle to stay in here this long!) and you are given a thermal cape with a hood and gloves to wear to keep you toasty!

Once a year the bar is transformed with a new design and layout by a team of ice designers and sculptors!

During your visit you also get a cocktail as part of the entrance fee and it is even served in an ice glass for you! Click here for the latest cocktail list but be warned – they are strong! Helps keep you warm in the cold I suppose!

It’s cheaper if you pre-book online (£13.50 with your first cocktail for an off peak time) and cocktail refills start at £6.50 after that. Family days and times are also available which is a great idea.

The boys gave up after around 30 minutes but my sister and I managed the whole 40 minutes and were the last ones standing! Girl power!

Hyde Park Bar Ice

This one, believe it or not, is even colder at -10 degrees celsius! A complimentary drink is also included in the ticket price for Bar Ice, and as Bar Ice is part of Hyde Parks Winter Wonderland, the drinks are usually very festive flavoured!, and again come in a lovely ice glass.

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FFFFFFFFFreezing!!!!

Again you are provided with a winter cloak and gloves on arrival, however you are allocated a 20 minute session here and not 40 like at the Heddon Street Icebar. We didn’t even manage the whole 20 minutes in this one – it was VERY cold! Also found it was much darker in Bar Ice than Icebar, which made it difficult to take decent photos which was a shame.

Ticket prices here are similar – £14 off peak to £16 peak time (but of course you are only getting half the time – Christmas inflated prices eh??) and I would definitely pre-book before you go – it gets very busy!!

A very novel experience but definitely worth giving a go – the sculptures, tables, chairs and bar are all made of ice and are very fascinating to look it – if this doesn’t get you into the winter spirit then nothing will!!

CocoChlo’s Christmas Coffees!

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As a coffee and hot chocolate lover, Christmas time is made even more special by some of the amazing limited edition flavours that the coffee shops create every year! I have to admit I spend a fortune on coffee’s and hot chocolates this time of year and I would think that as much as 75% of my Christmas weight gain can be attributed to the ridiculous amounts of these drinks that I have over the holiday season!

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After sampling several different flavours over the years, here are my top nine (so far!)

9. Costa’s Salted Caramel Cappuccino

A frothy cappuccino with a dash of salted caramel syrup, topped with shimmery salted caramel fudge crumb, yum!

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8. Costa’s Gingerbread Latte

A lovely  latte with a dash of gingerbread syrup topped with freshly whipped cream, gold stars and a little Gingerbread Man.

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7. Costa’s Chocolate Orange Hot Chocolate

This is an old photo – I learned the bad news at the beginning of November that Costa wouldn’t be bringing the Orange Hot Chocolate back this year!!! Shame on you Costa! They also stopped doing the Amaretti Latte this year! Double shame on you Costa!

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6. Costa’s Black Forest Hot Chocolate

Costa Hot Chocolate with a dash of Black Forest syrup, topped with freshly whipped cream, cherry sauce and a chocolate sprinkles!

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5. Starbuck’s Fudge Hot Chocolate

Creamy milk hot chocolate with fudge flavouring! The usual style is served with a fudge flavour whipped cream and sprinkled with golden curls but I do prefer plain whipped cream with mine or I find the fudge flavour just a bit overwhelming! I’ve also had it with a waffle sprinkling which I think normally goes on the top of the Toffee Nut latte.

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4. Costa’s Billionaire’s Latte

This one is new for 2017 and although I was disappointed that Costa had stopped making the Orange Hot Chocolate and Amaretti Latte, this one quickly became one of my favourites! Chocolate sauce followed by caramel sauce with a latte on top with whipped cream and a shortbread crumb sprinkled on top! Delicious! They only seem to make them in medium sizes though……

3. Costa’s Honeycomb Latte

A smooth and creamy latte with a dash of honeycomb syrup topped with freshly whipped cream and pieces of chocolate coated honeycomb.

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2. Costa’s Toasted Marshmallow Hot Chocolate

They also don’t appear to have my favourite hot chocolate on the festive menu at Costa this year!!! Argh!! This one was hot Chocolate with a dash of toasted marshmallow syrup topped with freshly whipped cream and glittery mini marshmallows. Please bring it back Costa!!!

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1. Starbucks Eggnog Latte!

My absolute favourite!!! I adore this drink!! Real eggnog, mixed with a bit of milk, espresso, and topped with nutmeg on top. AMAZING!

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Longleat at Christmas

If you are looking for somewhere to go during the festive season which includes animals, a beautiful country house and all the Christmas trimmings, then Longleat Safari is a must visit!

We took my sister along as a surprise for her Birthday and we weren’t disappointed!

The animals

Luckily we visited on a beautiful Winters day – even the sun came out – so all the animals were out and about for all to see!

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You can bypass the Monkey section if you want to avoid any damage to your car! We decided we would take the risk on this occasion and are really glad we did – check out these cute little guys-

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Isn’t he adorable!?

Look how close this gorgeous lion came to the car! Absolutely beautiful!

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Activities

After visiting the huge array of animals at Longleat, there’s plenty of other activities to keep you busy! Ice skating is available and costs £7.50 for an adult ticket – it’s probably best to pre-book these tickets online to avoid disappointment.

If you aren’t an ice skater then try visiting some of the lovely little winter huts surrounding the ice skating rink – they sell lovely winter beverages including mulled cider, mulled wine, hot chocolate and soup!

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The sister and brother in law enjoyed their ice skating session!

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The House

Once you’ve explored everywhere outside it’s time to take a look inside the beautiful house, which has been decorated in a wonderful festive theme throughout each and every room! Christmas trees, lights and decorations everywhere – a Christmas lovers dream!

Throughout the house you will also find live actors dressed as your favourite pantomime characters! I won’t spoil the surprise by posting pictures but they definitely ensure you have a great time whilst exploring!

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The Christmas Tree

Whilst you are visiting you must pay a visit to the famous Longleat Enchanted Christmas tree!

The unique, giant 50ft Singing Christmas Tree, which has over 300,000 individual lights and is the only one of its kind in the Europe, forms the centrepiece of Christmas celebrations in the Stable Yard.

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Once it gets dark the multi coloured light combinations are amazing!

There’s also the Santa Train which is ready and waiting to whisk you and the little ones off to meet Father Christmas and his elves in their wintry woodland home!

New at Longleat Safari Park over the past couple of years is the Festival of Lights, where stunning Chinese Lanterns light up the safari park.

A highly recommended day out for all the family, and just the thing to get you in the Christmas spirit!

You can pre-book your tickets for Longleat online here.

Christmas Pudding BonBons

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Hello Christmas Elves! If you are after a really easy recipe or a great activity to do with the kids then I’ve got just the thing for you! In fact it isn’t really a recipe at all – it’s just a case of cobbling a few bits together – but they do look really effective!

Here’s the ingredients you will need:

-Pre-made chocolate cake (preferably with buttercream centre and topping)

-Red ready rolled icing

-Green ready rolled icing

-100g white chocolate (I use  white chocolate chips)

You will also need one of these little leaf shape icing plungers. I think mine was from Lakeland but you should also be able to find one in places like Amazon or eBay – I saw some in Wilkinson’s the other day too.

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Ok, so to get started, put your cake into a bowl and break it up into crumbs and then re-shape them into twelve little pudding sized balls. I use a cake which has buttercream on top and in the middle because when you are re-shaping it into little pudding balls, the mixture holds its shape a lot better. When you’ve made twelve round little balls, pop them in the fridge to reset whilst you get on with the rest.

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Roll out your green ready made icing and then use your leaf plunger to make holly leaves (you need two per pudding so twenty-four in total).

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Then cut off some tiny little chunks of red ready rolled icing and roll them into tiny little berries. You will need three of these per pudding so thirty-six in total.

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Pop your icing leaves and berries in the fridge for a few minutes (so they don’t melt too much whilst you are placing them on top of the melted white chocolate).

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Add your chocolate drops to a bowl and melt in the microwave (melt them in thirty second bursts and stir before melting even more – it’s very easy to over melt and burn chocolate if you aren’t careful!)

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Stir the white chocolate so there are no lumps and then leave to cool for about ten minutes so the chocolate is just starting to re-thicken slightly.

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Once it is cooler but still runny and thick, start adding your white chocolate to one pudding. Once the white chocolate is on the pudding, add your holly leaves followed by your red berries, then move on to the next pudding. Don’t do all the white chocolate in one go as it will have set by the time you add your holly leaves and berries to the first one, and they won’t stick to the pudding properly.

Let your puddings set for around ten minutes and then they are ready to eat! If you want to store them they should be fine in an airtight container for around five days (if you can resist them for that long! I ate FOUR in one sitting – they are only small after all!).

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Happy pudding bonbon making!

My favourite Christmas Movies!

I love watching Christmas films during the festive season! There’s nothing better than sitting in front of the TV in a warm house whilst it’s cold outside, snuggled up with a hot chocolate and some nibbles, wrapping some Christmas presents with your favourite Christmas movie playing! Here are my favourite Christmas films of all time!

The Polar Express

This one is a lovely family Christmas film! On Christmas Eve, a young boy encounters a train known as the Polar Express, that is on it’s way to the North Pole. There are other children on the train and the film follows them developing their friendship with one another. A Christmas Eve must watch film, especially for those non-believers!

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Fred Claus

Santa has an older brother! His name is Fred Claus!

He is actually nothing like Santa, and has a few brushes with the law which results in him having to stay at the North Pole and help Santa and his elves prepare for Christmas in exchange for money to pay off his debts – not much fun when you hate Christmas because it centres around your brother every year!

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Bad Santa

Two miserable, professional thieves pose as Santa and his Little Helper to rob high end shopping malls on Christmas Eve. But they run into problems when one of the conmen befriends a troubled kid who thinks he is the real Santa (“Your name is Thurman Merman??”) and the security boss uncovers their plot…..

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There’s also Bad Santa 2 but I haven’t got round to watching it yet!

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

On the outskirts of Whoville, there lives a green, revenge-seeking Grinch who plans on ruining the Christmas holiday for all of the citizens of the town……

The Grinch is a bitter, grouchy, cave-dwelling creature with a heart “two sizes too small” who lives on snowy Mount Crumpit a steep high mountain just north of the town of Whoville, home of the merry and warm-hearted Whos.

From his cave, the Grinch can hear the noisy Christmas festivities that take place in Whoville. Annoyed, he decides to stop Christmas from coming by stealing their presents, trees, and food for their Christmas feast……

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Love Actually

This is my Sisters favourite Christmas film! It follows the lives of eight very different couples dealing with their love lives and is all set in the run up to Christmas in London.

If you’ve watched the film, the scene where Karen (Emma Thompson) realises that the necklace Harry (Alan Rickman) bought isn’t actually for her still breaks my heart every single time I watch it!

I also love the scene with Juliet (Keira Knightley) and Mark (Andrew Lincoln) where he plays Christmas songs and shows her large cue cards which tell her he loves her! Sorry, spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen it yet! (Where have you been??!)

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Jingle All the Way

A father vows to get his son a Turbo Man action figure for Christmas, however, every store is sold out of them, and he must travel all over town and compete with everybody else in order to find one.

Every parent has probably been through this nightmare, I know my Mum did several times when we were younger!

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Deck the Halls 

Two neighbours have a big fall out after one of them decorates his house for the holidays so brightly that it can be seen from space. This one is a particularly cheesy one but I do love it! Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito star – hilarious!

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A Christmas Carol

You surely know the story of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dicken’s?!

It has been done and re-done many times over the years (including a Muppet’s version!), but my favourite is this animated version with the voice of Jim Carrey. Bring on the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come!

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Remember to treat everyone with kindness, generosity and compassion, or you may end up like Ebeneezer Scrooge!

Home Alone

This story is probably just as famous as A Christmas Carol!

For those of you who haven’t seen it (not many of you I would imagine!) Kevin, an eight-year-old troublemaker, is forced to protect his home from a pair of burglars (by using some innovative booby traps!) when he is accidentally left home alone by his family over the Christmas holidays.

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An absolute must-watch over the Christmas period! This one will always be a classic!

Home Alone 2: Lost In New York

It isn’t often that a sequel to a fantastic movie is as good as the first!

One year after Kevin was left home alone, he accidentally finds himself in New York after he gets on the wrong flight.

Unfortunately for Kevin, the same criminals, Harry and Marv, are also in New York after escaping from prison….

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And my absolute favourite Christmas film of all time……

Elf

A man called Buddy who has been raised as an Elf at the North Pole goes off on an adventure to New York in search of his true identity.

This film stars Will Ferrell and is an absolutely brilliant Christmas film! Even if Will Ferrell films are not your usual cup of tea, I urge you to give this film a try. It is silly and funny and extremely Christmassy and is guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

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Happy watching! I’m off to make a Christmas hot chocolate and to wrap some more presents!

My Christmas Wish List

I am still a big kid when it comes to dreaming about what I am going to get for Christmas! I still remember how excited I felt every time Mum used to say to me and my two sisters “start writing your Christmas lists” so she could start planning and getting what she could as early as possible before the most popular toys sold out!

I admit my Sisters and I were absolutely spoilt at Christmas, and I don’t doubt this is why I still love the festive season today, but we knew how lucky we were and never took any of it for granted. My Mum was a teacher and although this was fantastic because she could be at home with us in the holidays, this meant she couldn’t have time off during term time and of course holiday prices are incredibly expensive during school holidays, so we never went away anywhere – our big annual celebration to look forward to was always Christmas!

Anyway, this year has been a particularly tough one. We sold our house before we had even put it on the market in May but still hadn’t moved at the beginning of November due to ongoing complications with the chain. We spent several months searching for our forever home, whilst also breaking our backs to get ourselves into the best financial position so we looked to be attractive borrowers to our prospective mortgage lenders.

I won’t bore you with the details here as this is supposed to be a happy blog, but basically getting into the position we needed to be in after jumping through so many hoops to make our lender happy, resulted in hubby and I working all the overtime we could, including very early mornings, very late nights and entire weekends, working our socks off to get all the bonuses we could and basically selling the majority of our valuable belongings on eBay, and the remainder at car boot sales! It has been incredibly hard work for the past 6 or 7 months, but we knew it would all be worth it once our mortgage was in place and we were in our dream home.

Doing what we have done over the past few months may have broken many couples, but we worked together and pulled it off in the end, which is why we are going to treat ourselves this Christmas! We are also hoping to start a family very soon so once baby Evans’ comes along we won’t have any money for the rest of our lives! So this may be the last Christmas we do get to treat ourselves!

Hubby has asked me for a list of things I would like so he can choose a few from the list and I will do the same for him – this way we both get things we actually want but are still unsure up until the last minute what we are having. I do usually add a few stocking filler surprises as well!

Here are some of the bits I have put on my list which I hope will appear under the tree:

Gold Beats Headphones

I did actually have a pair of in-ear Beats headphones but I gave them to Mum for when we visit the gym as she was getting incredibly bored on the treadmill – needless to say they have never been seen again! In fairness it is quite sweet watching her walk her 3km humming along to Bob Dylan, so I shall have to hope Santa brings me a new pair!

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Pyjamas, Pyjamas, Pyjamas!

I love pyjamas, especially the amazing ones you can get around the Christmas period! You can never have too many, especially when you spend two weeks of December slouching about in them watching Christmas films! The elasticated waistband of pyjamas always comes in really handy this time of year too!

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Game of Thrones season 6 DVD

I know season 6 has been out on DVD for a while now but I didn’t bother buying it because I had all the episodes recorded on our Sky box – unfortunately when we moved we cancelled our Sky subscription so we lost all the recordings! When hubby and I watched season 7 in July/August of this year, we also both said it would have been useful to have re-watched the other seasons again beforehand, as waiting a year (at least!) for the next season takes its toll on your memory of characters and events, so we have said we will spend a lot of time over the Christmas period re-watching the boxsets!

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Lush products

Whilst slouching in my pyjamas (or loungewear as I like to refer to it!) I often spend time using my favourite Lush products like lip scrubs and face masks. In between wearing said loungewear I also am rather partial to a lovely hot bath with a bath bomb or bubble bar, or at the very least a hot shower with a shower scrub or shower jelly! So hopefully Santa will help replenish my Lush stash so I can spend my Christmas holidays feeling really relaxed and smelling delicious!

Sophia Webster shoes

I absolutely adore Sophia Webster’s “angel wings” shoe designs but am yet to be lucky enough to own a pair. I added a pair to my online Selfridges basket once as they offered me 20% off but I stupidly didn’t check out and the offer later expired! I would love a pair of these – I’m not even particularly bothered what colour either – the design is so iconic, as a shoe fanatic I should be destined to own a pair of these incredible shoes!

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Mulberry Bayswater Handbag

A very optimistic present to add to the list but I would love a Mulberry Bayswater handbag! I’ve never really been too keen on some of the colours but I came across a beautiful nude coloured one in my local House of Fraser, a colour that Mulberry refer to as Rosewater! It also had lovely gold hardware which seems to be rarer than the usual silver hardware – it was absolutely stunning! Fingers and toes crossed!!!!!

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Kurt Geiger Notty Wedges

I fell in love with these wedges over the summer and they aren’t exactly the type of shoes you wear in the winter so with any luck the hubby might be able to pick these up in the end of summer sale with a good amount of money knocked off! I’ve never seen any others like this I think they are really unusual – and obviously cost far less than the Sophia Webster alternative!

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Nike Air Max trainers

I started getting a pair of trainers for Christmas years and years ago because once the post-Christmas sales started I would buy some new bits of gym kit ready to start shifting those pounds when the new year arrived! I used to wait to buy my trainers in the sale too but would always miss out on the ones I wanted because they would have sold out of my size. Either that or the ones I had my eye on weren’t in the sale anyway, so I may as well get the ones I wanted early on!

Nike Air Max are my absolute favourite make of trainers – I’ve been wearing them since I was at school! I absolutely love their latest styles – they  are more fashion than fitness really! I’m lucky because I can still fit into child’s sizes so I can get the great colours on offer for almost half the price! I came across these beautiful colours in my local Office store earlier on in the year – fingers crossed a pair of these will be appearing under the tree this year!

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Yes this is a very huge and greedy list but we can all fantasise can’t we??

And of course at the very top of my Christmas wish list is for all my family and friends to have the best Christmas so far – full of fun, games, laughter, good food and drink and family time!! I can’t wait!

Christmas Nutcrackers!

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I did change my mind multiple times about whether or not to write this blog because my obsession with these little guys is probably going to come across as very strange to most people! Please will you still follow my blog after I’ve admitted my weird obsession!

Nutcracker Dolls, also known as Christmas Nutcrackers, are decorative nutcracker figurines which are most commonly made to resemble Toy Soldiers. In German tradition, Nutcracker Dolls are said to bring good luck and to scare away bad spirits. Nowadays the majority of Nutcracker Dolls are decorative and are not able to crack nuts out of their shells.

Nutcracker dolls originate from late 17th century Germany. They were often given as gifts, and at some point they became associated with the Christmas season. Wilhelm Friedrich Füchtner (1844-1923), commonly known in Germany as “father of the nutcracker”, began the first mass production of the Nutcracker design from his workshop in Seiffen in Saxony during 1872. 

Decorative nutcracker dolls became popular outside of Europe after the Second World War, when American soldiers stationed in Germany came home to the US with German nutcrackers as souvenirs. Further popularisation came from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, a ballet adaptation of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which featured a toy soldier nutcracker. The ballet, introduced to America during the mid-20th century, became a favorite holiday tradition across the US and helped to make nutcracker dolls a Christmas decoration and a seasonal icon across Western culture.

I started collecting Nutcracker Dolls a few years back and so now I have a pretty impressive collection! I’m not really sure what draws me to them to be honest, I think it’s simply because I love the festive season so much and they remind me of all things Christmassy!

Varying from small tree ornaments to large decorations, here is my Nutcracker selection so far:

The Countdown Soldier

This is the biggest Nutcracker Doll I own and is from this years Matalan collection! As soon as I saw his fluffy hat, boots and cape I knew I had to have him for my collection!

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The Bearskin Soldiers

A bearskin is a tall fur cap, usually worn as part of a ceremonial military uniform. Traditionally, the bearskin was the headgear of grenadiers and it is still worn by grenadier and guards regiments in various armies.

These guys are again from this years Matalan collection and are completely different from the rest of my collection! They will certainly guard the presents around the tree very well!

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The Sequin Sword Soldiers

Named as such because of their tall sequin hats and silver swords, these are the only Nutcrackers in my collection who carry a weapon I’ve noticed! These were part of Matalan’s Christmas 2016 collection. They go very well with my Countdown Soldier!

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The M&S Soldiers

These guys were, un-surprisingly, from Marks and Spencer’s and were more expensive than the Matalan ones. They were on the three for two offer but who wants three? My OCD dictates only to buy them in pairs! Still, despite their price I am pleased I bought them, they have lovely crystal detailing on their outfits.

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The White and Gold Nutcrackers

These guys were from Asda and so were pretty cheap! They are similar to some I already have but I loved their hats (which are made from tiny beads) and their fluffy boot and sleeve detail!

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The Santa Nutcrackers

Another set from Marks and Spencer’s which were on the three for two offer, these guys are one of my favourite designs and are different from all the others as they are designed to look like Santa! The little bell they are holding really rings too!

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The White and Gold Very Nutcrackers

As the name suggests, these guys were from Very and came in a set of two – one white one and one gold one from the two photos below – I bought two sets so I had two of each (OCD kicked in again!)

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Plus this lovely Countdown Nutcracker my friend bought for me from her local garden centre!

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The Nordic Nutcracker

He is one of my favourite designs as he looks really traditional, he’s from this years Matalan collection as well! I love his little bag of toys!

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The Morrisons Tree Nutcrackers

I happened upon these in Morrison’s last year and bought a couple of packs! They came in packs of six and were really cheap! They are still packed away at the moment but as soon as I have unpacked them I will add photos of them!

The M&S Tree Nutcrackers

These guys are from this years Marks and Spencer’s collection and again, they were more expensive than the similar ones from Morrisons but they were on the three for two offer and I will say that they do have a working handle and moveable mouth as traditional Nutcracker Dolls have, which the set of Morrison’s ones don’t have!

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Partylite Tealight Holder Nutcrackers

These guys are very different from all my other Nutcrackers but I really love them – they hold a tealight candle in their hats!

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I get the feeling this collection will only continue to grow over the years! Last year at the Gloucester Quays Christmas Market they even had a giant Nutcracker trail! There were ten HUGE Nutcrackers you had to find along the trail, all with different names and colours and designs – it was really good and great fun for the kids!  

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If only I can find out who makes these giant Nutcrackers so I can have two standing guard outside our house…..

And if you love Nutcrackers but the dolls aren’t really your thing, check out these amazing Nutcracker themed items I’ve come across this year –

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My Nutcracker dress from Want That Trend!
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Nutcracker crackers!
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A Nutcracker tin full of chocolate chip cookies from Boots (and on the “3 for 2” offer!)

And if this isn’t enough for you, check out Paperchase’s Nutcracker collection!!! AMAZING!

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Nutcracker bottle bag from Paperchase

Rocky Road Christmas Bars

 

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My sister absolutely adores these and they are incredibly simple to make! This recipe will make you around 24 delicious squares.

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Ingredients

-125g soft butter

-300g dark chocolate (preferably 70% cocoa solids)

-3 tablespoons golden syrup

-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

-200g biscuits (rich tea, digestive, amaretti, whatever you fancy!)

-100g mini marshmallows

-2 teaspoons icing sugar for dusting

-Edible glitter for dusting

-Snowflake (or other!) sprinkles

Instructions

-Firstly, melt the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a heavy based saucepan. When the mixture is melted, add your cinnamon and stir then scoop out about 125ml of this melted mixture and put to one side.

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-Put the biscuits into a large sandwich bag and then bash them with a rolling pin.

-Fold the biscuit pieces and crumbs into the melted chocolate mixture in the saucepan and then pour in your marshmallows.

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-Tip the mixture into a tin which had been lined with greaseproof paper. Flatten the mixture as much as you can and then pour the remaining 125g of mixture over the mixture in the tray and smooth over the top.

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-Put the mixture in the fridge for at least two hours.

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-When the mixture is completely set, take it out of the tray and cut the mixture into around 24 squares.

-Sprinkle the icing sugar, edible glitter and snowflake sprinkles over the cake bars and viola! They are ready to be devoured!

They are brilliant to put into Christmas themed cellophane bags to give away as presents, or for stocking and Christmas Eve box gifts!

Happy scoffing peeps! xx

Elf On The Shelf

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Buddy the Elf

Meet Buddy! The Evans’ Elf!

I assume you all know the story of the Elf on the Shelf?? If not, let me enlighten you…. Elf on the Shelf is an American tradition which stemmed from the publication of a 2005 book by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell, which was illustrated by Coë Steinwart.

The book tells a Christmas-themed story, written in rhyme, that explains how Santa Claus knows who is naughty and who is nice due to his “scout” elves watching the childrens’ behaviour in the run up to Christmas. Once everyone goes to bed, the scout elf flies back to the North Pole to report to Santa the activities, good and bad, that have taken place throughout the day. Before the family wakes up each morning, the scout elf flies back from the North Pole and hides. By hiding in a new spot each morning around the house, the scout elf plays an on-going game of hide and seek with the family.

The idea of course, is to try and encourage children to be well behaved in the run up to Christmas, and to give frazzled stressed parents the opportunity to shout “the elf is watching! he will tell Santa” six thousand times a day! In order to make it more convincing that the Elves are alive and are watching the little rascals every move, the parents will have to move the Elf and rearrange him in a new location and position, perhaps doing a new activity.

The elves begin watching over the children between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, after which they toddle off back to the North Pole until the next holiday season.

The Elf on the Shelf comes in a keepsake box that features the picture book and your very own scout elf.

Now is the rather strange part…. hubby and I don’t have any kids as of yet! We came about adopting our Elf Buddy basically because there were some brilliant articles and blogs going around about adult themed Elf on the Shelf ideas and I thought it would be a real laugh to do something similar!

Once Buddy arrived I got the usual disapproving “what the hell is she up to now?” look from hubby which only spurred me on to make Buddy’s behaviour even more annoying in the run up to Christmas!

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Happy 1st December
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Snow Angels
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Minion bananas
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Gone fishing
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Only 20 days to go!
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Marshmallow snowball fight!
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Scaling the kitchen!
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Microwaving popcorn
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Helping with the wrapping
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15 days to go! FYI – Don’t use toothpaste on walls – it stains/bleaches the colour!! 
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Sliding down the bannister
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Peek-a-boo!
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Running low on supplies – can you pop to the store??
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It’s ok, I found more supplies!
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Taking a day off, this scout work is stressful!
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Better get ready for tonight! Lads night out!
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Elves annual Christmas party! Hi Dobby!

Then things took a more sinister turn as I arrived home one day and Buddy was nowhere to be seen….it appears that hubby had just about had enough of his shenanigans!

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The next day, poor Buddy was found in the spare bedroom wardrobe! All alone and tied up in Christmas ribbon!!

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Buddy is not one for revenge, but he was not at all happy about this traumatic experience! He felt hubby need to be shown who was in charge!

From having an Elf accident on hubby’s best football shirt…

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Caught short…..

To using hubby’s toothbrush to clean the toilet….

To replacing the toilet roll with brown packing tape…

To trying to poison the hubby with dog biscuits…

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Then eventually things calmed down and Buddy and hubby became friends again just in time for Buddy to wish us a Merry Christmas!

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Yes it is all very corny, but is just a little bit of fun in the run up to Christmas! The hardest part is thinking of all of the new ideas, especially when we are so limited because we don’t have any children’s toys we can use as additional props!

This year was a particularly exciting year for Buddy, as on the 1st December he left an envelope for hubby saying he would get an extra special present that evening as a reward for working and saving so hard this year for our new house. My amazing Mum later gave us each an envelope which said we were off to New York for three days in the few days to celebrate Christmas in style!

We absolutely can’t wait! What an AMAZING Mum I have!

CocoChlo’s Christmas Countdown!

Ok so it’s official! Silly season has begun! You officially won’t get any sense out of me for at least the next 25 days!

In case you haven’t already guessed – Christmas is my most favourite time of year! I look forward to it months in advance and am severely down and depressed once it is over and we move into the long dark cold month of January. I know my love for Christmas annoys people but, in my view, you need to have something to look forward to, and holidays and Christmas are the two things which give me something to look forward to throughout the year!

Christmas for me mainly centres around the fantastic traditions that myself and my family have developed over the years – after all, knowing what you have to look forward to makes you look forward to it even more!

Here are some of the Christmas traditions my family and I partake in year after year and all the other little Christmassy/wintery things which I love about this time of the year!

Advent Calendars:

Hopefully you will have seen my two blogs on how to make the two different types of Advent Calendars we have in the family. If not, you can read about these here and here.

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They take a LOT of time and effort to make but come out again and again year after year and make everyone very happy – all my family members look forward to opening their daily treats out of their Christmas Advent Calendars.

The calendars are filled during November with everyone’s favourite treats and then dropped off a few days before the beginning of December. In the past few years I have had to wrap up some of the treats (not fun! Twenty five presents times six people!), due to prying eyes and pokey fingers! And yes, all Advent Calendar recipients are adults!

Most of the days are filled with the likes of Cadbury’s chocolate mousse snowmen, Malteaser reindeers and tiny Lindt bears, and then an extra special gift awaits everyone for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (past years include baubles for the tree and personalised snow globes).

The perfect start to December!

Elf on the Shelf

Love him or hate him (hubby hates him!) Buddy will always make his annual appearance on the 1st December (apart from those days he is kidnapped and held hostage by hubby! Not joking!)

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Buddy plays a big part in helping to build the anticipation of the festive season, and often has some really good jokes and treats in store. This year Buddy has a particularly amazing surprise for the Evans’ which you can read about in Buddy’s very own blog which is being published in the next couple of days! #sorrynotsorry to all you Elf haters!

Buying our Christmas tree

We always had a real tree when we were growing up – my Mum, my two Sisters, the dog and I would walk miles to go and get one from the garden centre up the road (Mum can’t drive) and we would carry it all the way home, alternating between carrying the tree and walking the dog! When hubby and I first moved out and into our new home, I was over the top obsessed with keeping it clean and tidy and so, for fear of getting pine needles everywhere, I insisted on having a plastic tree for the first couple of years.

After a couple of years with this awful cheap plastic tree I decided enough was enough and we agreed we would buy a real tree the following Christmas. I was pleased to learn at this stage that there were a lot more trees around which didn’t drop their needles, so I was a double happy bunny!

We always get our tree the first weekend of December, which is usually around my Sisters Birthday. We usually buy it the Saturday morning and then get it home and set it up, and let the branches drop and the tree take shape for the next 24 hours.

Then on the Sunday we spend the day decorating it, listening to Christmas tunes and having hot chocolate and other Christmas themed treats! The trees usually get named at some point too….

Christmas shopping

My work organise an annual coach trip to London on the first Wednesday of December which is absolutely brilliant. The coach drops off at two places – Harrods (also ideal for visiting the Museums) and the corner of Hyde Park.

I usually go with my Sister and Mum and we’ve done all sorts during these trips – we took Mum to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland one year, and visited the Ice Bar and Ice Sculpture display, the following year we spent a couple of hours in Harrods food hall and then popped over the road and spent the rest of the day in the Natural History Museum (which we concluded you would need to spend a week in in order to see everything!) followed by a couple of years of good old retail therapy down good old Oxford Street! I always pop into Primark as well to see if I can find any last minute stocking fillers or bits to go in my Christmas Eve boxes!

The beautiful London department store windows are another one of the highlights! My two favourites are Harrods and Selfridges – the designers must spend months in advance coming up with these amazingly creative ideas! Good luck getting a photo of some of them though – they obviously attract an awful lot of people so get in there quick to catch a glimpse!

Festive Days Out

Sudeley Castle Spectacle of Light, Longleat Safari Park, Prinknash Abbey, and a ride on The Polar Express – you name it we have probably been there and partaken in their Christmas-themed festivities!

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Christmas Markets

I really love Christmas markets and the family and I have been to several over the years! I don’t go to them to do my main Christmas shopping but to try the amazing food and drink and check out the brilliant arts and crafts people make – some people are so creative!

At Gloucester Quays Christmas Markets last year they opened an ice skating rink and lots of little wooden huts around the outside which served mulled wine, hot apple cider, hot chocolate and roasted chestnuts! Just what you need to get into the Christmas spirit, although I do get there very early so I can get around quickly before the crowds arrive! Some places become unbearable at peak times!

Festive Drinks – Coffees, Hot Chocolate and Eggnog!

Most days in December usually feature a trip to Starbucks, Costa or Café Nero to sample this year’s Festive coffee and hot chocolate flavours! Yes, a blog on these is to follow too! Sorry!

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Obviously hot chocolates can be consumed throughout the year but there’s something different about a Christmas hot chocolate! Perhaps it is the lack of guilt you feel when you spray on mounds of whipped cream and tip half a box of marshmallows on top!

A favourite of mine is to add a tiny bit of cinnamon and nutmeg to really make it taste like Christmas in a mug! I buy all my hot chocolates from Whittards – they are the best by far in my opinion! This years flavours I invested in are Dark Hot Chocolate, Praline White Hot Chocolate, Rocky Road Hot Chocolate and Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate! Delicious!

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I am also absolutely obsessed with eggnog! Is there a more Christmassy drink than eggnog!? If Starbucks ever stopped producing their eggnog lattes I don’t know what I would do!

Monin Syrups

If you want to make your own flavoured coffees or hot chocolates, I recommend you take a look at the collection of flavours Monin Syrups have to offer – there aren’t many flavours you can’t get hold of, and every year I struggle to choose which to buy next! I finally decided on Donut, Maple Spice, Amaretto and Macaron flavours!

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Christmas Adverts

Am I the only one who cries at these flipping adverts??? Lost Snowman looking for their partner….in tears, Buster the Boxer jumping on a trampoline…..in tears, Monty the penguin – so cute (in tears), the Sainsburys WW1 truce between British and German soldiers for Christmas Day….hysterical. I really do need to stop watching them to be fair! Anyway, every year they get more and more amazing and more and more heartfelt, it wouldn’t be Christmas without them!

Choosing the Christmas menu!

By the end of October I will have picked up several copies of each supermarkets festive food catalogues! I usually pick them up from Marks and Spencers, Asda, Tescos and Morrisons so we can all look at the full range everyone has to offer!

The family all meet in late October/early November to decide what food we are going to have on the days we are all going to be together (usually Christmas Day and Boxing Day or both). Everyone in my family has different tastes so it is quite difficult to choose things which most people will like!

You can read more about what is on the Christmas menu this year in my “what’s on the menu this Christmas” blog which is published on the 23rd December, but these will give you an idea…

Christmas Jumpers

Since Christmas jumpers came back into fashion a couple of years ago (the cheesier the better it seems!) I somehow now have an array of seasonal knitwear! It would seem I am a bit addicted, as every year they bring out better and sillier designs! Hubby had a jumper last year with actual flashing lights on! Amazing!

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Visits to the Cinema

What better way to get into the seasonal spirit than by visiting the cinema to watch a Christmassy film!!! Past cinema visits have included to watch Frozen, Bad Santa, Black Christmas and Krampus (ok so a couple of them are horror films, but still Christmassy!) This year I already have my sights set on two films – Bad Mom’s Christmas and Pitch Perfect 3! Can’t wait!

If I don’t have time to get to the cinema as I am spending my free weekends wrapping up the mounds of presents, I’ll always have some classic Christmas films on in the background whilst drinking my Christmassy hot chocolate! A blog on my favourite Christmas films will follow in a few days time!

Gingerbread Making

Gingerbread Houses – I love gingerbread but only the home made stuff which is lovely and fluffy and soft – not the hard shop bought stuff that you nearly break your teeth on!

For the first few years I was buying the shop bought sets (basically it was easier because all the pieces were pre-made so I could spend more time decorating them!) but I realised after making them that they didn’t get eaten because the gingerbread was rock hard! So my mother in law bought me a cookie cutter set which meant I could make proper gingerbread and cut out the pieces I needed to make my gingerbread house!

This year I spent the afternoon making gingerbread houses with my Sister and it was absolutely brilliant! We really enjoyed ourselves and it really got us into the Christmas spirit! I hope we make it an annual event from now on!

Christmas Yankee Candles

My family and I always buy Christmas themed Yankee Candles to burn throughout the festive season and I also put one in everyone’s Christmas Eve boxes for them to burn the night before the big day. Check out some of this years scents –

Nutcracker Dolls

An obsession of mine! If you are intrigued, a separate blog on these little guys is coming out in the next couple of days….

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Christmas Eve boxes

Unfortunately I am one of those annoying people who has usually bought all of the main Christmas presents and got them wrapped up before December even starts as this frees me up the time to do all of these other amazing things throughout December! I do tend to leave buying little things like stocking fillers until December though.

In December I will also start buying bits and pieces to go in everyone’s Christmas Eve boxes! Hopefully you will have read my blogs I released last year on how to make them and what you can put in them – if not you can read about them here and here.

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Last year was the first time I unveiled the Christmas Eve boxes but they were so popular and loved by everyone that I promised I would make them a regular thing. The only thing is, I went a bit mental last year with it being the first year and so everyone got a lot in their boxes in addition to their normal pressies, so this year I asked everyone what their favourite bits were and I have limited it to four or five items, and a few sweets and treats.

Now December is here I will start looking for some good surprises to sneak into people’s Christmas Eve boxes to make Christmas Eve that little bit more special! This year’s box contents will be revealed in my Christmas Eve blog so watch this space!

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Post-Christmas themed parties

The family and I are all very lucky in that we all tend to get at least a week off over the Christmas period. As we are all avid Christmas fans, once Boxing Day has come and gone and we are in the few days between Christmas and New Year, the post-Christmas blues start to set in.

To cheer us up after the main event has come and gone, and to give us something else to look forward to (and OCD organiser Chloe to organise!), I usually throw a small family themed party for my Mum, my Sisters and myself. Past themes have included Harry Potter, Frozen and The Polar Express! This year’s theme is Beauty and the Beast, so I have been scouring eBay and Primark for months and months looking for ideas and treats to go in everyone’s goody bags!

Yes it’s cheesy/corny/childish but it cheers us all up and gives us the chance to spend some time together over Christmas without the added pressure of running around to check the turkey, prepare the veg and grab someone another drink. Plus my older sister Lindsey, who has autism, really looks forward to the parties (and the opportunity to get some more presents, even after Christmas is over!) I’ll do a separate blog about this year’s party so you can see what a great time we had this year!!!

Time off

What could be better than some time off work to celebrate and then rest and re-cooperate?? By the time my Christmas leave comes around I’ve usually got huge lists of bits and pieces I want to get done during my time off! The first few days off are usually Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day but after clearing up after these celebrations I always feel really down that Christmas has come and gone for another year, so I like to keep myself busy!

One of the regular tasks which appears this time of year includes sorting through mine and hubby’s wardrobes – throwing out/giving to charity the old stuff, putting aside stuff which needs repairing or dry cleaning, eBay-ing any unwanted valuable stuff and making space for the new stuff we got for Christmas or during the sales! The rest of the time hubby and I spend watching DVD’s or Netflix whilst eating the left over Christmas goodies! I’m afraid the majority of this time off is spent in my pyjamas!

Anyway, this just about wraps up my plans for December! No wonder it flies by so quickly!! And no wonder they call it the most wonderful time of the year!

Enjoy everyone!

CocoChlo’s Christmas Advent Calendars – Take Two!

Ok so hopefully you have read my last blog about how to make Advent Calendars and thought it was a really good idea (hopefully!) but something which is quite complicated, time consuming and perhaps a bit on the expensive side.

The first year I made the advent calendars I made three – one for each of my two Sisters and one for myself – I had hoped to make more but the time and money involved in making them meant I had left it too late for that year.

The following year I decided to make a further three – one for hubby, one for my brother in law and one for my Mum, so all six of us had our own calendars.

I wanted the second batch of calendars to be different from the first (and hopefully more simple to make!) so I set about creating a new design.

Just something to note – some of the pictures in this blog show the original base size, which we decided to cut down after a few days because the calendars were too difficult to move and wouldn’t fit through our loft hatch when they needed to be put away!!! Of course you can have the bases bigger if you want.

The base sizes eventually measured 60cm long by 35cm wide and were again cut out of 2cm thick MDF which I bought from B&Q. I bought a sample size of black paint to paint each of the bases, but of course you can use any colour you want.

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I ordered several small sized Christmas trees from eBay (I think the trees were three foot high). The trees arrived and had a tripod style base which you put the metal rod in to stand them up. The original plan was to fix the tripod stand to the wooden base and then to cover the tripod bit with some Christmassy material (known elsewhere as a “tree skirt”, not joking!)

IMG_7462I tried to glue the tripod plastic base to the rectangle wooden base but this didn’t work very well as not much of the material was flat to the base to be able to glue it. To make matters worse, when I thought I had finished making the trees and filled the advent boxes and started hanging them on the tree, the metal pole acting as the trunk of the tree started to bow under the weight! I hadn’t even put all the advent boxes on so I knew I needed a plan B!

My Mum had recently had a log burner installed in her home so had a huge pile of pre-cut logs which were ready to go onto the fire. I stole a few of these logs and hubby drilled a hole in the centre of the log and we forced the metal rod “trunk” of the tree as far down as possible and then sealed it with very strong glue (we used Gorilla glue but for gods sake be careful with this stuff, especially if you have kids around!) The log we used was around 23cm in height, just to give you some idea.

This seemed to do the trick and held the weight of the Christmas tree just fine so I nailed and glued the log to the black base and let it dry for at least 24 hours.

After that comes the fun bit! The decorating!

To decorate the calendars I got most of my bits and pieces on eBay – these are the items I ordered but of course you can decorate yours however you want –

  • Glitter star toppers in red, gold and silver (£5.99 each)
  • Wooden names for the bases (the prices of these depend on how many letters each name has, for example, £3.00 for five letters and £4.20 for seven letters)
  • Red, gold and silver glitter paints (£5.69 each pot)
  • Red, gold and silver glitter LED candles (£5.99 for a pack of 12 in one colour)
  • Velcro dots to attach the LED candles to the felt (£3.65 a pack)
  • Pack of 25 Advent Boxes (£10 from Next)
  • A set of two glitter reindeers in gold, silver and red (£4.00 for the pair)

I painted the wooden names with the glitter paint first of all – a word of warning, you may want to put an undercoat of a matching or contrasting colour underneath your glitter paint as it took many many layers before it started to build up the glitter colour. To be honest, even after several coats, I still wasn’t particularly happy with the colour and amount of glitter, particularly as this paint is quite expensive.

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Once you have painted the name plaque, glue it onto the base alongside your other decorations like your reindeer and LED candles.

I also bought a pack of battery operated fairy lights for £1 from the Poundshop and wrapped them round the tree to make it look a bit more authentic!

Then fill your advent boxes with whatever you fancy (see below for some ideas!) and then hang on your tree ready to be found!!!

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CocoChlo’s Christmas Advent Calendars – Take One!

My love for Christmas goes as far back as I can remember!

I have amazing memories of Christmas from when I was younger, we always made such an effort in our house to enjoy and celebrate the festive season. One of my favourite memories were the giant Christmas advent calendars that my Dad made for me and my two Sisters.

We had a calendar each and they consisted of sections of round plastic tubes which had been cut to size and glued on top of one another into the shape of a Christmas tree. Once the sections were filled with treats my Dad would cut out circles on different coloured paper and number them one to twenty-five and then stick the circles onto the pieces of pipe so we would have to break through the paper to get our presents. We had these calendars for years until eventually they fell to bits and my Sisters and I started going through the awkward teenage years where basically we thought everything like this was childish and stupid, so Mum gave up on the idea for a while.

A few years ago my Sisters, my Mum and I were talking about the Advent Calendars and I thought it would be great to make some new ones for the three of us, just like we had when we were younger. Although I wanted the idea to be similar, I wanted a new design which was better than the last ones!

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My quest for materials began at B&Q which is usually my go-to place for materials for projects like this! To start off making your Advent Calendars you need the following materials –

  • Three lengths of square brown guttering 6.5cm wide (these were £6.28 each)
  • A sheet of MDF wood for the bases and the sides 2cm/20mm thick (£15.43 for the sheet)
  • Black paint to paint the calendar bases (I didn’t need a lot of this paint so I bought three sample sized pots which were £3.10 in total).
  • Green “tree” coloured paint – you need quite a bit of this so I bought a 1 litre tub as I wanted to do a couple of coats.
  • Felt numbers 1 to 25 (£3.75 per pack)
  • Felt and fabric glue (I bought two as I knew I would need a lot)
  • Brown felt

To make up the Advent Calendars you need to –

  • Cut your base – we cut ours 60cm long and 35cm wide. I’m lucky enough to have a husband as a carpenter so the cutting stages were relatively straight forward because we had the right tools. If you don’t have the right tools it is best to make a note of all the sizes of cuts you need and when you buy the MDF, request that the store cuts it into the sizes you require – I know that B&Q definitely offer this service and this will save you a great deal of time later on.
  • Paint your base black (or whatever colour you have chosen)

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  • Cut your sides – one will need to be slightly longer than the other so that they join at the top (think ceiling coving joints!). The sides are 80cm long and 7cm wide.
  • Cut the back triangle – this is one of the trickiest parts as if this doesn’t measure correctly, the sides won’t fit properly. The triangle is 54cm along the base and is 80cm high where the two angles reach the point.
  • Glue or nail the sides to the back panel – if you are choosing glue you will need very strong glue for this purpose – again I was lucky enough to have a husband with a nail gun for this part!
  • Once the sides and back are securely together (or the glue is dried), paint the sides and back panel green. They may need a couple of coats, but this all depends on the type of paint you have bought (matt or silk etc) and of course the shade you are painting it.

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  • Once the bases, backs and sides have all been painted and are completely dry (I would probably leave for 24 hours to be sure), you need to attach the base to the side and back panels. I’m afraid you will have to use nails for this part of the process, as any glue would probably not be strong enough to hold the weight.
  • The next stage is to make up the little advent boxes to fit inside the “tree”. Cut up the brown drainpipe into twenty-five 6.5cm by 6.5cm squares – you may have some casualties during this stage as unfortunately the plastic does have a tendency to crack! Try and go as carefully as you can – you should have some drainpipe left over in case of any mishaps! The edges may be sharp so you might need to rub them down with sandpaper before you go any further – annoying and time consuming I know but you don’t want sharp edges where little hands will be poking about!

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  • Once you have twenty-five perfectly cut squares – arrange the squares together in the following formations (bottom to top)
  • A row of five
  • A row of five
  • A row of four
  • A row of four
  • A row of three
  • A row of two
  • A row of two
  • A single cube
  • A single cube
  • Once you have arranged them they should stack in your advent calendar like this:

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  • Once you have arranged them, glue them into rows side by side (do not glue them on top of one another just yet!)
  • Once the squares are in this order, cut the brown felt to size and glue the felt across the tops of the rows of squares and allow “flaps” of felt to fall over the front of the cubes (to cover up whatever little surprises will be placed inside!)
  • Once all the rows or single squares have been covered in felt, glue the rows of cubes on top of one another to form your pyramid shape.
  • Once the pyramid of boxes has had the felt added and is completely dry, you can add the felt numbers to the calendar flaps using fabric glue. We did ours in order starting at the bottom left and working our way up to the top in a snake like fashion, but of course you can dot your numbers anywhere you like. At the end they should look something like this –

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Once the numbers are dry, glue your pyramid into your advent calendar frame.

The hardest bits are now over, now for the fun bit which is decorating your calendars!

To decorate the calendars I got all my bits and pieces on eBay – these are the items I ordered but of course you can decorate yours however you want –

  • Glitter star tree toppers in red, gold and silver (£5.99 each)
  • Wooden names for the bases (the prices of these depend on how many letters each name has, for example, £3.00 for five letters and £4.20 for seven letters)
  • Red, gold and silver glitter paints (£5.69 each pot)
  • Red, gold and silver glitter LED candles (£5.99 for a pack of 12 in one colour)
  • A pack of plain wooden snowflakes in various sizes for the sides of the calendars (£7.65 for a pack of 60).
  • Velcro dots to attach the LED candles to the felt (£3.65 a pack)
  • A set of two glitter reindeers in gold, silver and red (£4.00 for the pair)

I painted the wooden names and wooden snowflakes with the glitter paint first of all – a word of warning, you may want to put an undercoat of a matching or contrasting colour underneath your glitter paint as it took many, many layers before it started to build up the glitter colour. To be honest, even after several coats, I still wasn’t particularly happy with the colour and amount of glitter which ended up on the wood, particularly as this paint is quite expensive.

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I then glued the wooden names to the bases and the snowflakes down the side of each tree.

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I got these packs of LED candles and attached a candle to each space on top of the rows of the pyramid, like so:

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You can glue the LED candles on if it is easier – I bought a set of little velcro dots and attached one onto the bottom of the candle and one onto the felt so they are attached securely but you can still take them off and on. If you do glue the candles on, remember you won’t be able to switch them on and off as the on/off button is on the bottom!

I glued my two reindeers on the base of the calendar and cut a V shape into the base of the star tree topper so it slotted onto the point of the calendar and could be glued in place.

Then after all this I began buying all the bits and pieces to go in them! Chocolates, Sweets, Mini Games, Bubbles, Christmas Tree Decorations, Snowglobes and Treasure Hunt clues – you name it, we have probably had it as one of our Advent Calendar presents! Here’s a few ideas – you can get treats like these from all major supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s, Asda, Marks and Spencer’s and Tescos:

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my blog about my Advent Calendars, this was the first design I did – keep an eye out for the second design I created which is far easier to put together if you don’t have a lot of the appropriate tools to hand!

Happy Advent Calendar planning!!!

 

 

The Naked Marshmallow Company

If you are looking for a lovely Winter treat then check out this amazing idea!

I love all the American programmes which show everyone sitting round the camp fire toasting marshmallows and making S’mores, but unfortunately, living in the UK with such unpredictable weather all year round, its a risk trying to partake in marshmallow toasting even in the Summer!

Anyway, now you can toast marshmallows all year round with this amazing Marshmallow Toasting Kit from The Naked Marshmallow Company!

The kit costs £19 and includes any two packs of their gourmet marshmallows, with each pack containing eight marshmallows.

You can choose from five different flavours – Vanilla Bean, Candy Floss, Strawberry Cream, Chocolate Orange and Salted Caramel (if you want to order additional flavours you can add more boxes at £4.25 each). They have even got a Christmas range of flavours out at the moment too, such as Gingerbread and Candy Cane!

The marshmallows are made in the UK and are made from fair-trade sugar and have no artificial colours or flavours in them.

We tried four out of the five regular flavours (no-one likes chocolate orange in our family unfortunately!) and all of them were AMAZING! I have honestly never tasted more delicious marshmallows, even those I’ve bought from food festivals and markets!

Each kit comes with eight bamboo sticks and a non-toxic, odourless, smokeless gel burner which will burn constantly for two hours. If you don’t burn it all at once you can simply pop the lid back on to extinguish the flame and then use again whenever you fancy!

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The kit also comes in a gift box with a little printed guide on “how to toast the perfect marshmallow”, so is ideal to give as a present – if you are giving as gifts you can pay an additional £2 to have the burner label personalised as well!

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My favourite flavour was the candy floss one (closely followed by the salted caramel!) but the vanilla bean and strawberry cream were favoured by other guests so the flavours obviously cater for all different tastes too!

Even better, when I placed my order, standard delivery was free! I’ve gone to checkout on several online bakeries and food websites to find that the delivery costs are extortionate, so this was a real added bonus!

The family and I really enjoyed using the kit and I would definitely buy it again, and buy it for family and friends as presents – it’s certainly something a little bit different!

Just don’t forget to put your burner on a heat-proof surface! The last thing you want is to leave burn marks on your furniture!

If you want to take the toasting marshmallows kit one stage further, you can also order their marshmallow S’more’s kit! The kit contains eight marshmallows, eight Graham Crackers, three Hershey chocolate bars and of course your gel burner, eight bamboo sticks and a guide on how to make the perfect S’more!

I’ll definitely have to try this kit next time I put an order in!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone! I assume you all did most of your celebrating over the weekend seeing as Halloween awkwardly falls on a Tuesday this year!

We didn’t celebrate this year as much as we normally do – we are all packed up and ready to move house! We were hoping to be moved out well in advance of Halloween but unfortunately everything (including all my Halloween decor!) is still packed away in boxes eagerly awaiting our moving date….

I found it really depressing that we couldn’t decorate or throw a big party like we normally do every year, but I still had a great time having a small Halloween celebration with my Mum and Sister’s over the weekend!

We carved pumpkins and made apple tea light candles which was really messy but good fun! I made a puking pumpkin which Mum wasn’t very happy with!! Sorry Mum!

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We then watched Hocus Pocus! What a brilliant family Halloween film!

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Whilst we were watching Hocus Locus we toasted marshmallows! Yes, indoors! I bought us this amazing toasting marshmallow kit from the Naked Marshmallow Company! I’m not going to talk too much about it or post too many photos because I think a separate blog is in order for this brilliant kit! Watch this space….

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I also did my yearly goody bags for family and friends and treated myself to some fantastic Halloween treats!

The Pumpkin and Frankenstein goody bags were from good old Marks and Spencer’s! They were also in the three for two offer! Bonus!

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Our family love Yankee Candles so it would have been wrong not to include some lovely autumnal scents in this years goody bags! The scents I used this year were Crackling Wood Fire, Autumn Night and Fireside Treats! Perfect to light on a cold, wet autumnal evening! The Autumn Night one is burning away on the hall shelf as I write this.

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I used good old Marks and Spencer’s again for the Goody Bag sweets – check out these Percy Pumpkins, Freaky Frogs, Zombie Owls and Scary Spiders!

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For the adult recipients I thought these Crystal Skull Vodkas were brilliant! You can get them in several places but the cheapest place I found them were from the Drink Shop as they were in the sale!

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The vodka is made by Dan Ackroyd and contains no additives, sugar, or citrus oils – the emphasis on this product is its purity. Was I sold by this? Not really – I literally bought them because they are in an amazing skull bottle which is perfect for Halloween!

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These little guys have been in our Halloween gift bags for as long as I can remember!

Plus I also found these great chocolate lollipops from Marks and Spencer’s (again on the three for two offer).

I got these amazing cake pops and other treats from Popadoodledo! They were so well made and so tasty I think I will do a separate blog on this brilliant company too! I can’t wait for her Christmas range to come out!

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Check out these white chocolate fingers with white chocolate “blood dip”! Brilliant!

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and these little guys, believe it or not, are mini Oreos covered in white chocolate!

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I also treated myself to these extra special treats from The Whimsical Cake Company through Not On The High Street, aren’t they stunning? Almost too good too eat…. almost.

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Some lucky people had some extra special chocolate from Hotel Chocolat because they will only eat dark chocolate (you know who you are!)

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I especially loved this Hotel Chocolat Yumpkin! Tasty dark chocolate and vegan friendly!

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How cute are these tiddly little dark chocolate vampires??

Plus some lucky recipients also got some Halloween themed Lush Cosmetics products! You can read more about these in my “A Lush Halloween” blog which was published on Sunday!

So as you can see we were all a little bit spoilt over the Halloween weekend! Sort of makes up for not being able to decorate the house properly and have a big party, but not quite!

We should be in our new house for next Halloween so I’ll have to push the boat out on next years party instead! I’m thinking something along the lines of this amazing house I found on Pinterest

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Not sure we would get many lovely Trick or Treaters though!

 

A Lush Halloween!

Woohoo! I’ve been looking forward to getting hold of this years Lush Halloween collection for absolutely ages! They do have some products which come back year after year but also release several new exciting products! Here are the lovely Lush autumn warmers I recommend for this time of year;

Ghost Shower Gel

This was released as part of a Game of Thrones themed Lush kitchen week and I couldn’t wait to try it because all the reviews I have seen have been really positive!

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Ghost has the scent of lillies, jasmine, ylang ylang and neroli and is made with rose water and dove orchid infusion, so I was obviously expecting a bouquet of floral scents. The rose water scent is lovely and isn’t  overpowering, and you can also smell the sweetness of the jasmine and the almost grassy aroma of the neroli.

The shower gel also contains jojoba oil to moisturise and soften the skin, and you can notice this straight after using it. Due to the oils in the gel, it doesn’t lather up incredibly well, creating more of a foam than a lather, but this really doesn’t matter when you see the moisturising effect it has on your skin.

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The gel also contains snowflake lustre which gives it its shimmering texture, but it doesn’t leave you absolutely covered in glitter after using it, in fact it is a very very subtle shimmer.

I really liked this shower gel but not sure I would buy it again, which surprised me after the rave reviews it received from other Lushie’s – flowery scent’s just really aren’t my bag and I didn’t really think the scent went very well with the name? Maybe it is just me…

Monsters Ball Bath Bomb

I couldn’t wait to get hold of a few of these little guys as they have had such good reviews online! Aren’t they great!?

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Monster’s Ball contains lime and neroli oil and this bath bomb gives off a bright, zesty lime smell. It also includes olibanum oil so overall the bath bomb is great for cleansing as well as softening, healing and hydrating purposes! Just what is needed on those cold October nights!

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As if that isn’t enough, this lovely bomb also contains Himalayan rock salt and cocoa butter! The rock salt is great as a natural healer to hydrate the skin and the Cocoa butter of course moisturises for some time after you step out of the bath.

The cocoa butter forms the centre of the bath bomb, which dissolves slowly once the rest of the bomb has disappeared and adds just enough oil to the bath so the water doesn’t become greasy.

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The bath art you get as a result of the lovely pink and blue colours which come streaming out also make this bath bomb a worth while choice! The combination of the pink and blue colours leave you with a lovely deep purple coloured water – in my opinion, the best bath water colour from a bath bomb so far!!

Just to think I only bought this bath bomb because I thought it looked like a great novel design but it has actually turned out to be one of my most favourite! Better stock up on a few whilst the Halloween range is available!

The only downside was that I didn’t find the scent to be strong enough for me, and it didn’t last as long long on my skin after the bath as I had hoped it would. But still, a highly recommended bath bomb!

Lord of Misrule Shower Cream

This was another scent I had heard lots about and couldn’t wait to try! It is bright green in colour and as this is the first of Lush’s shower creams I have tried, I was surprised at how much thicker it is compared to normal shower gel.

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Lord of Misrule shower cream contains patchouli and black pepper which gives it it’s very distinctive and unusual fragrance! To add a layer of sweetness it also contains vanilla absolute which also reduces the kick of the black pepper. It also contains wheatgerm oil which is full of nutrients including vitamin A, B and D to condition the skin, and vitamin E which is known for reducing skin damage.

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Use your shower cream in exactly the same way you do your shower gel – I found it  funny because the label on the shower cream says under the how to use section “if you really don’t know how then we suggest you find someone you really like and invite them into the shower with you to demonstrate”. Brilliant!

Anyway, I lather it up in a sponge which turns it into a nice thick foam. Immediately it feels really lovely and moisturising on the skin, and for several hours after you step out of the shower too. The scent also lasts a long time afterwards, and the smell is really gorgeous! I am really looking forward to using the Lord of Misrule bath bombs now too! Another favourite scent to add to the list! Why are most of my favourite scents seasonal??? I will have to bulk buy some more before they stop making them until next autumn!

Bewitched Bubble Bar

The Bewitched bubble bar is new for Halloween 2017 and I’ve seen some really good reviews of it so far! Doesn’t it look great!?

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As with all my other bubble bars I cut this one up and crumbled it (it was quite difficult to cut with a knife so go carefully!) and then sprinkled about a third of it under running bath water. This bubble bar isn’t very big but don’t let that fool you into using too much – some people have halved it and found this to be a bit too overindulgent! You should easily get three baths out of one of these bubble bars.

It created mounds of lovely bubbles and made the bath water a dark grey colour which I am pleased to say didn’t leave any marks on the bath afterwards!

This bubble bar contains blackberry and bergamot and frankincense oils and is one of the nicest smells I’ve had in a bubble bar! The oils made the water incredibly moisturizing and I didn’t want to get out of the bath once I was in because of its amazing scent and moisturizing effect!!!

I bought three of these in the end so I am well stocked up and a couple of these will be appearing in my famous Halloween goody bags I give to friends and family too!

Black Rose Naked Lip Scrub

I’ve not tried a naked lip scrub before (no little glass pot so it saves on packaging) so I wasn’t really too sure what to expect. I have to admit I don’t find it ideal – if you are using it on your lips one end then it means that you are handling it the other end which only makes me think of germs building up each time you are using it! Still, I can see why they have introduced them.

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The naked lip scrub is like a little bar of soap! I was really pleasantly surprised when I used it – go steady as you swipe it across your lips to buff and smooth as it really does give your lips a harsh scrub if you do it too hard!

The scrub contains illipe butter, extra virgin coconut oil, mood lifting ylang ylang and Sicilian mandarin oils. The caster sugar content exfoliates and keeps your lips soft and smooth whilst the organic jojoba oil moisturises.

I was really impressed with the design and found it easier and far less messy to use than the normal pots of lip scrubs – I am definitely going to buy some more of the available scrubs in this design!

Pumpkin Bath Bomb

A perfect little Halloween bath bomb and one which returns year after year!

Pumpkin bath bomb contains vanilla absolute and pimento berry and is designed to give off an aroma reminiscent of pumpkin pie! The funny thing is, although I love the smell of this bath bomb – I don’t even like pumpkin! I just get excited when it is the time of year that pumpkin flavoured items are released as it means Autumn is finally on the way! This includes Pumpkin Spiced Lattes at Starbucks!

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This bath bomb has a lovely strong flavour which is apparent as soon as you open your Lush parcel! On some occasions the scent almost smelt fruity, which was something I wasn’t expecting! The bath bomb also contains cinnamon and vanilla which gives it its lovely autumnal warming scent which is definitely something I would describe as a “home baking” scent.

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This one is a fast fizzer (seriously – gone in seconds!) which let off streams of orange coloured fizz which was followed by a lovely yellow coloured core. The smell remained strong during my bath and stayed on my skin for a long time afterwards too! It doesn’t put on much of a show as it is gone so quickly but you can’t have everything can you??