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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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!

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

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!

Addicted to Lush Take Four!

Well seeing as I got a bit excited about all the Lush Halloween and Christmas products and spent an absolute fortune, I’ve gone back to using the products I already had in my stash and I’m on a Lush purchase ban for the foreseeable future! It will be a challenge!

Anyway, heres my reviews on some of the lovely products I’ve used lately –

Cyanide Pill Bath Bomb

Seeing as cyanide is known for it’s bitter almond smell, I assumed correctly that almonds would be an ingredient in this very unusually named and even more unusually looking bath bomb!

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Pill-shaped and a bit smaller than the usual bath bomb, but don’t let this fool you, it is still a strong smelling bomb, with it’s key ingredients being lemon, cedarwood, rosewood and almond oil. The cedarwood is actually the dominant smell in this bath bomb which provides a lovely woody aroma.

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Once it is put in the water, Cyanide Pill begins dissolving really fast and quickly turns the bath water into a toxic coloured lime green/yellow.

Inside the bath bomb theres also a large amount of glitter which clumps together to form the “mercury” feature of the bath bomb, which floats across the surface of the water like a silver oil slick! Cyanide Pill also contains popping candy to add even more to your bathing experience! I sat in the bath for a while and wondered what the strange crackling sound was before I realised!

Although it feels almost uncomfortable bathing in water which is such a toxic colour, I found this bath bomb to be moisturising on the skin, plus the lovely aroma was vey relaxing after a particularly hard session at the gym!

When I tried Cyanide pill for the first time I wasn’t overly impressed and thought to myself that I wouldn’t buy anymore, however I had bought two with my original order and enjoyed it far more the second time round – it is definitely worth trying at least once, for the unusual bathing experience at least!

Metamorphosis Bath Bomb

This is a relatively new bath bomb – a steel grey coloured bomb with jagged indentations across it, it very much reminds me of one of the Dragon’s egg’s from Game of Thrones! I’m half expecting it to hatch sometime soon!

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This is a fast fizzing bath bomb, which streams out metallic grey colours until only a few seconds later, waves of pink, yellow and green begin to appear. These colours make beautiful rainbow patterns across the water – the only downside? You are left with a pretty murky looking shade of water!

Amazing ingredients in this one – black pepper, cinnamon and myrrh which produce a lovely warming, smoky smell. Although you aren’t left with a very pretty shade of bath water, I found the water was incredibly moisturising.

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I think I’ve just found myself another favourite to add to the list! The only thing which would put me off buying this bath bomb again is that it left a metallic stain around the bath tub which wasn’t very easy to shift – out came the Cillit Bang!

Comforter Bubble Bar

This is probably my favourite bubble bar! Again you should find this bubble bar provides you with up to four uses, so don’t feel that you need to use it all at once!

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Cut a bit off the bar and crumble it under running water or do as other lushies do and cut it up finely with a knife and store it in an airtight tub ready for use – it’s easier to see how much you are using this way I find.

The Comforter bubble bar turns the water a lovely pink colour and the scent is one of blackberries, raspberries and cherries. It is one of the nicest scents in the whole of the Lush range! The bar also contains bergamot oil, cypress oil and cassis absolute, so it works really well at making your skin lovely and soft – an absolute must try!

Rose Jam Bubbleroon

Named due to its “macaroon” style design, this is another one which is an absolute must try!

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This bubble bar contains lemon and rose but also has an unusual sweet smelling jammy style rose aroma. It also contains geranium oil, coconut oil and shea butter to make the skin soft and moisturised.

I used around half of my bubbleroon in one go  and found it will easily cover two baths. Again, crumble your bubble bar under running water, or (something new I learned from fellow lushies on Instagram) after cutting the bubble bar up, put however much you want to use in a sieve and then hold the sieve under the running tap to get lots of lovely fluffy bubbles!

Rose Bath Bomb

I have to admit, rose is one of my least favourite smells but this bath bomb has had rave reviews so I thought I would give it a try.

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It has a very potent flower smell, with a sweet rose fragrance coupled with geranium and a slight lemon aroma. In fact I would say it is one of the strongest smelling bath bombs I have come across.

This is a fast fizzer and immediately creates waves of bright pink foam before the turquoise centre begins to seep through, until you end up with pinky orange coloured water to bathe in.

When the bomb is almost dissolved the centre opens up and spills out a handful of yellow rose petals, which I thought was a really lovely touch. This bomb contains lots of oils which make it a very moisturising bath experience.

Some other Lushie’s have said that this bath bomb left an oil rim around the bath tub but I didn’t find this at all – the two worst bath bombs for this so far are Lava Lamp and Metamorphosis in my opinion!

Not a favourite of mine but an absolute must if you are a fan of the rose scent, I sent the pictures straight to my sister because I know she will love this bath bomb! She’s a real flower girl!

Sacred Lotus Bath Bomb

I really love the design of this one! It is designed to look just as the name suggests – like a beautiful lotus flower!

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Neroli and jasmine are the main ingredients so this bomb is sweet and slightly florally smelling. This one is quite a fast fizzer, releasing white and purple foam on the surface of the water. Then, after a few minutes, the purple petals break away and make beautiful purple swirled patterns in the white foam.

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The scent is very delicate, and not very strong when it is in the bath, however I found that the scent was still noticeable on my skin, albeit very subtly. A very relaxing and calming bath bomb which left my skin feeling really moisturised.

This is definitely one I would try again and one I would probably buy as gifts for family and friends as well as it’s a beautiful design.

Cloak of Invisibility Bath oil

The name makes reminds me of Harry Potter and the bath melt itself reminds me of a little glittery pumpkin!

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I really like this bath oil, when it was first released and I got to smell its scent I ended up buying three and passed one on to the little Sister as I’m sure she will love it too! The main scents in this bath oil are Jasmine and Rosewood, and so it has a lovely sweet floral scent.

This melt is small but mighty and full of shea and cocoa butters and essential oils to moisturise and nourish the skin. Others have said it takes a while for the oil to melt, but I do have my baths very hot so it melted away quite quickly, leaving golden glitter floating about just below the surface and the water a light orange colour. I was worried about the bright orange colour leaving stains and marks in the bath after its use but it was absolutely fine and washed away no problems.

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I loved this melt as soon as I smelt it and love it even more now I have used it – I literally didn’t want to get out of the bath! It is really moisturising and really comforting – one for the favourites list definitely, and perfect for those cold winter months when your skin needs a little bit more TLC!

So that’s my latest round of Lush products – in December I’ve got four straight days of reviews of this years Lush Christmas range as part of my Blogmas attempt – the 2017 Christmas range is MASSIVE and I can’t wait to share my thoughts on these amazing products! Watch this space!

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??

Not the most moisturising of bath bombs and I wish the cinnamon scent was stronger, as cinnamon is my favourite scent, but Pumpkin is still an incredibly enjoyable bath bomb which left my skin feeling lovely and soft – I can see why it is a firm favourite in the Halloween collection!

Magic Wand Soap

I don’t normally buy soaps from Lush as I am not a soap person (I prefer shower gels, jellies and creams!) as I find soaps quite drying on my skin, but when I saw the soap range that Lush had released for Halloween and Christmas I knew I just had to try them!

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This lovely looking soap features tangerine oil and orange oil (two of my favourite scents!) and pomegranate molasses which give this soap a lovely strong, fruity scent. The scent isn’t very strong until you actually start using the soap, but it is amazing once you start lathering it onto your skin! Both of these fruits are natural cleansers and are great on the skin for clearing out pores.

The soap also features charcoal (its black outer core) and coconut oil. The charcoal is a great exfoliator and of course coconut oil is great for moisturising and replenishing the skin. I was slightly worried that the black charcoal colour would stain my skin or the tiles in the shower but fear not – although the soaps lather was a dark grey colour as a result of the charcoal, it didn’t stain anything and just washes away with water which is great (I’m still getting over cleaning up the mess after the Dark Arts jelly bomb – I think I am scarred for life after that one!)

When you order a soap from Lush they arrive in rather large chunks, so fellow Lushie’s do tend to cut a chunk off to use, rather than taking the entire block into the bath/shower. Don’t cut the pieces of soap too small though – they are slippery and difficult to keep hold of anyway so it would make it even worse if you are trying to keep hold of a tiny piece!

I’m so pleased I took the risk and bought this one – it didn’t leave my skin feeling dry afterwards (which is what I experience with normal soaps) and the smell is really lovely, and definitely one of my top Lush scents.

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Lord of Misrule Bath Bomb

Obviously the same scent as the Lord of Misrule shower cream I’ve already covered, apparently this bath bomb is inspired by the the ruler of the Pagan Feast of Fools!

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Again containing ingredients of black pepper and patchouli oil with vanilla absolute, this bath bomb almost looked a bit Christmassy due to its bright green colour with specks of pink and white.

This bath bomb was a violent but very slow fizzer – after fifteen minutes it was still going! It is very hypnotic though! After a lot of green fluffy foam, eventually the centre cracks open and out comes this very dark red centre! It is very fascinating to watch!

The water goes from a light green colour to a dark red colour once the centre cracks open but remember to warn the husband/boyfriend of this because when mine poked his head round the bathroom door he thought there had been a horrible accident! I’m not really selling this am I?! Let me put it another way – the end result bath water is one of the most stunning colours I have seen from a bath bomb!

It definitely suits its name – calming green followed by chaotic splashes of red which completely transform the water – this is definitely one of my favourites and is very beautiful to watch!

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The scent is quite strong but not off-putting – you can definitely smell the pepper in it and  it lingers for a long time after you’ve hopped out of the bath.

I wish this bath bomb was a member of the permanent range! Love, love, love it!

Sparkly Pumpkin Bubble Bar

The Sparkly Pumpkin Bubble Bar is bright gold and orange and is COVERED in glitter! The scent isn’t one of my favourites, but it is definitely autumnal!

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The bubble bar is made using lime, juniperberry and grapefruit oils, so it has a warming, zesty and almost woody scent. It also contains lime oil for a bit of a citrus twist and cinnamon stick (the “pumpkin” stem).

It isn’t a particularly big bubble bar – I sliced mine and cut it up like I do with my other bubble bars and found it fit into a much smaller pot than my usual bubble bars. I reckon you will get maybe three baths’ worth out of each one of these little glitter balls.

If you don’t fancy cutting it all up, slice a chunk off and then just crumble it under running water – be warned though – the glitter on the outside of the bubble bar will go everywhere!

Whichever way you break up your bubble bar, once it is crumbled under running water you get a bath full of lovely fluffy bubbles. After having my bath I was expecting to be covered head to toe in glitter, but the glitter was actually subtle in the bath water and didn’t stick to my skin at all. Even better, there was no glitter left in the bath tub at all afterwards, and it all just washed away with the bath water.

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I found the scent of the bubble bar to be relaxing, but not quite as strong as I would like. It also wasn’t as moisturising as some of the other bubble bars I have used, although my skin did feel lovely and soft afterwards.

I enjoyed using the Sparkly Pumpkin bar but it wasn’t one of my favourites. I bought a couple as soon as the Lush Halloween range was released – would I buy it again? Not sure, the smell is growing on me each time I use it….

Hedgewitch Soap

As I said with the Magic Wand soap, I am not really a soap fan in general but I was completely captivated with the Halloween and Christmas range of soaps so I ordered a few to try, and I am so pleased I did!!

I can’t even begin to explain how amazing this soap smells! It is really incredible and I have used it everyday since I bought it! I will definitely have to buy myself several more before the Halloween range is no longer on sale! I’ve bought one for my Mum and Sister too!

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I cut a chunk off my soaps so I use them just a bit at a time and keep the remainder in a sealed Tupperware box for freshness.

This soap contains honeysuckle flower infusion, cocoa butter, coconut oil, organic caster oil, Sicilian mandarin oil, osmanthus absolute and gardenia extract – I think I would go so far as to say this is my absolute favourite soap EVER. It lathers up really nicely (I lather it up on a sponge) and the smell is so addictive that I find myself lathering up several more sponges full of soapy bubbles just to savour the scent for a little bit longer!

Honestly, if you are passing a Lush store, go in and ask them to smell this soap and let me know what you think!

Ectoplasm Jelly Bomb

I couldn’t wait to try this one! A bath bomb named after the green slime that ghosts vomit all over people in films like Ghostbusters!

A relatively harmless looking purple jelly bomb with yellow dots and a little ghost shape on top, Ectoplasm smells absolutely incredible! It contains tangerine, grapefruit and litsea cubeba oil which gives off a gentle zesty lemony kind of scent, which is very refreshing and uplifting.

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This jelly bomb appears to start fizzing quite quickly but overall the bomb took ages to dissolve, and after around half an hour I actually crushed it up in my hands to try and get it to dissolve a little bit quicker! Even after this there were big chunks of the bomb left floating in the bath which I found a bit disappointing!

I was also disappointed because it didn’t let off much jelly – just a bit of purple coloured whisps, and (due to the name) I assumed it would at least resemble something green and slimy which wouldn’t look out of place in a horror movie! You did get a few blobs of fluorescent slime though which was pretty cool!

The smell was incredible and I would buy it again just for the scent, but it was the most disappointing jelly bomb I have tried, jelly wise! I stocked up on a few of these to put in family and friends Halloween gift boxes which I do every year, I hope they aren’t disappointed with them!!

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Goth Fairy Shimmer Bar

I must admit I was quite surprised at how small this little buy was when he arrived because he wasn’t particularly cheap (£5.95 I think), so I was expecting something around the size of a small bubble bar!

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This cute little guy contains grapefruit and bergamot but has an almost creamy blackcurrant scent which is really lovely – definitely more a “berry” fragrance than a “citrus” fragrance. The bar also contains cupuacu, illipe and almond butters and oils for moisturizing.

The idea behind the Goth Fairy Shimmer Bar is to apply your normal moisturizer and then use the shimmer bar on top to add a beautiful scent and a layer of sparkle on your skin. You can use it as the sole moisturizer if you like but due to the size, you would probably end up getting through a bar quite quickly.

When you use the bar it melts slightly due to the warmth of your skin but it is not sticky or messy like some products of a similar nature, such as a massage bar. You can even add the product to your face as part of your makeup routine! It would make quite a nice highlighter I think!

I found the bar to be really moisturizing as well as really effective due to its shimmer, and I didn’t have to wait ages for the butters and oils to be absorbed into my skin.

Be warned that I found the lustre quite difficult to remove – so take it easy if you don’t want to turn up to a business conference looking like a mermaid! Even after having a bath I still found some of the gold, green, silver and purple lustre on my skin a day or so later! Its is very difficult to catch the full shimmery effect on camera but this might give you an idea –

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Due to this I would probably only use the bar when going on a girls night out or to a party, and as I don’t do this very often (I’m usually spending my time at work, in the gym, walking the dogs or in my pyjamas watching Netflix or blogging!) so it probably isn’t a product I would use very often. Having said that, I did buy a couple for my sister and best friend to use because I think they are cute and again would be something they would use before a girls night out!

Pink Pumpkin Bubble Bar

To be honest I wasn’t really looking forward to using this bubble bar because I was a bit disappointed with the sparkly pumpkin version and in my mind I tarred these two with the same brush!

Pink Pumpkin is a lighter more floral scent as it contains geranium oil, bergamot oil and jasmine absolute alongside some cinnamon stick which acts as the pumpkin “stem” decoration. I cut the bubble bar up as I would normally and sprinkled a handful under running bath water. Pink Pumpkin produces a mass of lovely fluffy bubbles and turns the water a beautiful rose pink colour. I am not normally a fan of floral scents but I preferred this scent to that of the Sparkly Pumpkin Bubble Bar.

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The thing I was most surprised about with pink pumpkin was how moisturising it was when I got in the bath. You could feel the oils moisturising your skin straight away but without the bath water being oily so it would still be ok to wash your hair in. It was in fact probably one of the most moisturising baths I have had and a bath I really didn’t want to get out of! So pleasantly surprised with this one!

So there you have it – this years Lush Halloween range! I have already purchased the Christmas range too which is HUGE this year so by the time you read this blog I will be well underway trying out these lovely seasonal products!

Keep an eye out for my Christmas Lush blogs in December which will form part of my “Blogmas” attempt this year!

 

Halloween Eats!

Hooray! It’s finally Halloween weekend! I’ve got some great things planned for this weekend but it wouldn’t be a real Halloween celebration without my favourite Halloween recipes I make year after year!

Ghost Cakes

All you need for these is your normal cupcake recipe (vanilla, chocolate, whatever you fancy) and a set of dariole moulds (usually sold in a set of six). Dariole moulds are quite difficult to get hold of in everyday shops, so try somewhere like eBay or Lakeland.

Make sure the dariole moulds are greased and lined and fill to about two-thirds full to allow the cakes space to rise. Once the cakes are cooked, allow them to cool and then carefully remove from the moulds (you might need to cut a bit off the base so that the cakes can stand upright) then all you need to do is roll out some pre-made royal icing and fold it over the top of the cakes so that it looks ghost-like! Add two raisins or dots of black icing for the eyes and voila!

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Welsh-rarebit Ghosts

These are so easy!

Just buy yourself a ghost-shaped cookie cutter and cut ghost shapes out of any type of bread. In a saucepan add 225g of strong cheddar cheese, 1 tablespoon of butter, 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 2 teaspoons of plain flour and cook over a low heat until melted. At this point you can even add a couple of tablespoons of your favourite beer if you like! Stir the ingredients until they become paste-like.

Toast the one side of the bread, then spread the rarebit over the non-toasted side and brown off under the grill. Only down-side to these are they do need eating straight away after they have been served, but they go down brilliantly as a drunken party goers midnight snack! Delicious!

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Chocolate Frogs

Easy-peasy! Buy the mould from Ebay, choose what chocolate you want to turn into frogs (I use dark chocolate, milk chocolate and cookies and cream chocolate), melt the chocolate slowly in the microwave (do 30 seconds then stir and repeat until all the chocolate is melted) and then pour into the moulds and leave to set.

Hint: do these a couple of days in advance a few at a time, don’t rush them and don’t put them into the fridge to get them to set – changing the temperature too quickly will make the chocolate go white and although it doesn’t do you any harm to eat, it doesn’t look very appetising and your frogs will look mouldy!

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Shattered Glass Cupcakes

These are really popular at my parties, people always comment at how great they look!

Take your normal cupcake recipe, again any flavour you like, and make the cupcakes as normal. When you go to ice the cakes, use a plain vanilla buttercream or cream cheese as these look the most effective.

A couple of hours before the guests are due to arrive, begin making the shattered glass. The glass needs to be made last minute as when it is left on the cakes for long periods of time, the glass begins to melt and doesn’t look anywhere near as effective. The recipe for making the glass is basically the same as for making caramel, you just don’t leave it cooking as long so the liquid stays clear.

Put 275g of granulated sugar and 175ml of water in a small saucepan with high sides and bring to the boil whilst stirring to make sure all the sugar has dissolved (keep kids well away from this!). Reduce the heat to medium/high and leave to cook until the mixture starts to go golden brown around the edges. This can take a while – around 15 to 20 minutes but keep an eye on it at all times! As soon as this happens, remove the mixture from the heat and pour onto a rimmed baking sheet, tilting the baking sheet slightly as you pour so it spreads evenly and makes a thin layer. Be REALLY careful at this stage – this mixture is incredibly hot!!

Let the mixture cool so it hardens (around 30 minutes). Once the mixture has set, twist the baking sheet slightly and hit the mixture with a rolling pin to crack it like glass (again be careful, these shards can be as sharp as glass) and start adding the shards to the cupcakes.

To finish off, drizzle a blood like mixture over the top of the cupcakes (I make runny icing using royal icing sugar, water and red food colouring, but you can also use jam or cherry preserves etc – I even found pre-made red runny icing in the supermarket last year).

Serve up the cupcakes straight away and watch jaws drop! Oh and teeth break if they don’t go steady on the hardened sugar!

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Mummy Hotdogs

Love these! I could eat the whole lot!

Again so simple to make! Buy a tin of hotdogs, buy a pre-made pack of croissant dough, unroll the dough and cut into thin slices to use as the “bandages”, wrap the dough around the hotdogs to look like mummys and put them in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until the dough starts going golden brown and the hotdogs are cooked. For the eyes, add two dots of mustard! Really tasty!

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Rice Krispie Pumpkins

I’ve only made these once and they didn’t turn out quite as expected (I didn’t use enough orange food colouring!) but again they are very easy to make and are quite effective! Make up your normal batch of Rice Krispie cakes, add orange food colouring, shape into a ball shape and decorate the eyes, nose, mouth and stalks with black and green ready rolled icing.

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Witches Fingers

There are a couple of recipes for Witches Fingers on the internet – both sweet (Almond Witches Fingers) and savoury (Cheesy Witches Fingers). Both are really effective and very tasty!

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Almond Witches Fingers

Peanut Butter Eyeballs

These are quite easy to make but take bloody ages to decorate so be warned!!! I took a batch of them into work for my work colleagues a couple of years ago and they went down really well though! The recipe does make a lot, which is probably why they take so long to decorate! Find the recipe here.
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I hope this has given you some ideas of some easy but effective Halloween treats! I’m off to start working my way through the bowl of sweets we put aside for the trick or treaters!

Have a great Halloween weekend!

Monkey Cookies!

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Hello fellow Cookie Monsters!

I came across Monkey Cookies whilst shopping in Selfridges a few months ago and those of you who know me well will know that I do have a bit of a thing for cookies, so it would have been incredibly wrong not to try them!

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Monkey Cookies began as a home baking trial by Abdullah Al Ansari in 2012 but quickly evolved into a full blown business operation. The Monkey Cookies idea was inspired by “Mr Al Ansari’s passion for combining various ingredients to create unique and novel cookies that are all freshly baked.”

Monkey Cookies say to make their cookies even more enjoyable you can warm them up in the microwave for ten seconds – fresh warm cookies – amazing!

The first thing I found quite surprising about Monkey Cookies was that they don’t do a lot of different flavours when compared to other cookie producers – so far they produce six flavours in total:

Original

An original flavoured cookie with milk chocolate chips. Sounds boring? They aren’t! They’ve got an almost cinnamon like taste which makes them the ultimate comfort food cookie! Stick them in the microwave for ten seconds and you will be in cookie heaven!

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Monkey Mallow

An original cookie with a dollop of marshmallow on with a square of milk chocolate Hershey’s plonked on top.

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After it has been in the microwave for ten seconds the marshmallow begins to warm and go fluffy and the chocolate begins to melt so you have a s’more like combination – delicious!

Monkey Hershey’s

An original cookie with a square of white chocolate and milk chocolate Hershey’s on top. Pop it in the microwave so the chocolate just starts to melt…

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Monkey Cookies produce three types of these little “bites”, which are small round cookies with delicious fillings:

Monkey K-Bites

The Monkey K Bites are my favourite of the three – the K in Monkey K Bites stands for Kinder (as in Kinder Chocolate), so when these bites are put in the microwave, the middle is melted and warm and absolutely yummy!

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Monkey N-Bites

The N Bites both have Nutella centres – the Monkey N Bites are original cookies with a Nutella centre. I’m afraid I am not a fan of Nutella but I gave both of the flavours a try – the taste is not overwhelmingly hazelnut so I still really enjoyed them!

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Monkey N-Brown

The Monkey N Brown also has Nutella in the centre, except the cookie is a double chocolate cookie instead of an original cookie. Again, not my favourite as I am not a fan of Nutella but for all you Nutella fans out there, stick these in the microwave for ten seconds to warm them and you will be in heaven!

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Cookies are around £1.29 each for the larger cookies or you can buy them in the tin sets as shown in the picture for £15.99. The tin set gets you two each of the original, Monkey Mallow and Monkey Hershey and three each of the Monkey K Bites, Monkey N Bites and Monkey N Brown Bites – and of course you get to keep the rather fetching tin as well – the brother in law uses his to take his sandwiches to work – bless!

The cookies are available to order online in other countries but not yet in the UK, fingers crossed they will let you order them online very soon! They are definitely on the shopping list next time I can get into a Selfridges!

Check out Monkey Cookies at their website here.

Kylie Lip Kits and Glosses

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Hello makeup lovers! It’s about time I wrote a blog about some of my favourite makeup products!

I wasn’t sure about writing a blog about Kylie Lip kits, as although I love makeup and cosmetics, I’m not very outgoing with the colours I choose and I tend to stick with “safe” colours such as varying shades of nudes!

However I do love the Kylie Lip Kits and glosses and have already ordered several, so I think they are definitely worth a mention!

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One thing I do find frustrating about the Kylie Cosmetics range is that items are currently only available to order directly through the Kylie Cosmetics website and, living in the UK, this means high delivery charges and then, even more annoyingly, customs charges are then charged on top! This means reasonably priced cosmetics end up costing you a pretty penny in the end! My advice? Make a note which items you want to order and keep an open for buy one get one free offers on the lip kits! These buy one get one free offers do come up quite regularly and will of course save you money on products and money on postage if you buy a few items at a time! Keep your eyes peeled on the Kylie Cosmetics Instagram page where these special offers are usually announced! Make sure you get in early though as products sell out very, very fast!

The Kylie Lip Kits consist of one liquid lipstick and one pencil liner. I’ve only bought the matte variety of kits so far but they are also available in the velvet variety. The lip liner is an ultra long wearing lip liner with a creamy texture which glides on very easily. The lip liner can be sharpened in most standard sized sharpeners. The matte liquid lipstick contains a “high intensity pigment” which is extremely long wearing but also very moisturising, so the long wearing of the lipstick does not dry out your lips.

Anyway, the Kylie Kip Kit and glosses I have tried so far are:

Maliboo Lip Kit

Maliboo is recommended for use on fair to light and light to medium skin tones and is a light cool-tone nude colour.

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Maliboo

It is my favourite lip kit colour so far and I’ve already stocked up in case it is discontinued!

Moon Lip Kit

Moon is recommended for use on light to medium skin tones and is a taupe nude colour.

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Top to bottom Maliboo and Moon

Exposed Lip Kit

Exposed is a warm mid-tone beige colour.

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Top to bottom Maliboo, Moon and Exposed

Dolce K Lip Kit

Dolce K is a deep beige nude colour.

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Top to bottom Maliboo, Moon, Exposed and Dolce K

and the glosses I have tried so far are:

King K Metal Matte Lipstick

King K is a soft metallic gold colour. The Metal Lipstick gives you bold metallic lips with a creamy feel and smooth texture.

While this is a long wearing formula, again it does not dry out your lips. Throughout the day your lips remain moisturised with a shimmering metallic finish.

Many people layer the King K lipstick over the top of their favourite matte lipstick for an ultra-dramatic look.

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Top to bottom Maliboo, Moon, Exposed, Dolce K and King K

Literally Gloss

Literally is a neutral mid-tone nude. I especially love this gloss because Kylie Cosmetics sent it to me for free when I placed an order during their last buy one get one free offer, as an apology for making me wait for my order because some items were out of stock! Bonus!

The glosses are again ultra-pigmented and glide on the lips smoothly and evenly. A blend of vitamin E and highly moisturising ingredients provide hydration and moisturise the lips, while natural lip enhancers provide volume.

Again you can wear the Literally Gloss alone or layer on top of your favorite Matte Liquid Lipstick.

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Top to bottom Maliboo, Moon, Exposed, Dolce K, King K and Literally

I hope this has given you an idea of the product – as I tend to go for the same nude/neutral colours, here is an idea of some of the other shades which are currently available:

Pumpkin (a dirty mid orange tone)

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Wicked (a deep violet)

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Mink (a rich taupe brown)

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Kristen (a warm brown berry)

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Vixen (a “blackened vampy plum)

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Mary Jo K (a deep red)

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22 (a vibrant burnt orange)

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As these products are only currently available directly through the Kylie Cosmetics website, please please be wary of all the fakes that are doing the rounds on places like eBay. Even the fakes are very difficult to spot so cost wise, if they look too good to be true, they probably are – don’t waste your money or risk buying cosmetics filled with god knows what ingredients!!

A really highly recommended product – I just hope they will soon be more easily available in UK stores!

UncommonGoods.Com – an unusual gift givers delight!

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My favourite item on the site so far – this set of four Agate Coasters – beautiful!

For those organised people who are already thinking about this year’s Christmas gifts – if you are stuck for ideas or fancy something really different this year then I have got a brilliant website for you!

I start my Christmas shopping really early, not just because I have so many people to buy for, but because I am not one of those people who leaves it until the last minute and then hits the stores with a massive list and basically grabs whatever is left on the shelves! I like to give each present I buy some significant thought to ensure I am buying something the person will love and either use regularly or treasure forever!

As the years go on it is becoming harder and harder to find such unusual gifts for people. Trends change really quickly and as soon as someone has introduces a great idea, it is not long afterwards that the market becomes flooded with copycat ideas and everyone ends up with one of these latest gifts or gadgets under the tree.

This is where Uncommon Goods comes in!

The website is an American website but they make it incredibly easy to shop online from the UK. All prices are quoted in Pounds sterling and all the duties and taxes are calculated at the checkout – so you know exactly how much something is going to cost and aren’t left with any outstanding fees surprises when the item is delivered! Uncommon Goods also keep the international shipping rates as low as possible so you aren’t stung on delivery costs which, on some websites I’ve used, end up costing more than the item itself!

I’ve spent lots of time searching through this brilliant website – there are hundreds and hundreds of amazing gifts to choose from, it was really hard to whittle it down to just a few but here are some of my favourites from the following Uncommon Goods collections:

Perfect Christmas gifts for her

I love this necklace which reads “do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and make a trail” because I first came across this quote on a plaque in Las Vegas at the New York New York hotel in 2009 – I loved it then and I’m so pleased I came across this!

Travel Stub Diary – ideal for storing tickets, maps, postcodes and any other memorabilia you’ve collected from those special places you’ve visited.

I LOVE snow globes – how beautiful is this cherry blossom snow globe?! My sister adores cherry blossom so she might find one of these hiding under the Christmas tree this year!

Bath salts are always a firm favourite – I love these Chakra bath salts in these bright cheerful colours!

How elegant is this wine tasting flight? Ideal for a girls night in to give guests the opportunity to sample different wines!

I’m not normally a fan of mugs but how cute are these little owl mugs?? I hosted a Harry Potter themed party recently – these would have been ideal for it!

Check out this amazing Elwood unicorn mug! There’s also a matching bowl! You can’t go too far wrong with anything unicorn themed as a present at the moment!

This woven wine tote with glasses is a great idea for picnics or even when just sitting in the garden – no more knocked or kicked over wine glasses when they are put safely back in this woven tote!

These cocoa butter truffles bathtub soaks look good enough to eat but you will have to settle with using them in a nice hot bath instead! Ideal for relaxing with during those cold winter months!

I love this set of three loofah scrubbers! The embedded loofah is made of dried gourd which is a natural skin polisher.

Perfect Christmas gifts for him

Check out this whiskey wedge! Simply make the “ice slope” from the mould to keep drinks cold but with minimal dilution.

This bottle loft is brilliant and definitely something hubby will be adding to the Christmas list! It looks really impressive and saves space too!

My father in law loves guitars and has built up quite a collection over the years so these coin guitar picks and guitar themed socks will probably end up in his stocking this Christmas!

Carrying on with the music theme – these two are great for music lovers! Check out the record clock and record bowls! There’s also a matching doormat if you’d prefer…

If you want to avoid having ice in your drinks altogether then these nautical whiskey stones are brilliant! Simply freeze them and add them to your drinks to keep them cool and prevent watered down drinks.

How unusual is this stone drinks dispenser?? I’ve never seen anything like it before! Probably why it appears on the UncommonGoods website though!

If food is more of a perfect gift for the man in your life, how about this brilliant beer jelly? It comes in a set of four preserves which are infused with craft beers!

Or these boozy Jonboy caramels? A set of three in absinthe, whiskey and fleur de sel flavours!

Perfect Christmas gifts for Mum

I was really looking forward to rifling through this section of the website because I love choosing special presents for my Mum!

I really love these birthstone wishing balls – each one comes with 52 slips of paper for you to write down your wishes, memories or accomplishments every week of the year! Coil them up and put them in the tiny hole near the base and they become a permanent part of the display! Stunning!

Continuing with the birthstone theme (this features a lot in my choices I’ve noticed!) is the birthstone jewellery dish – ideal for Mum’s dressing table!

I also love this Nordic tea light trough – really cosy looking and relaxing!

I love this molten sculptural bowl – probably more for myself than for someone else! The base is the root of a gamal tree and it can be used as anything from a vase to an unusual wine decanter. Absolutely beautiful and utterly striking.

I thought these wine cork candles were a brilliant idea! Really effective, they come in a pack of 12 to keep you going for a while.

How unusual is this real sugar maple leaf night light?? It is preserved in 24 karat antique gold so it retains its delicate shape and veins, and is stunning as an ornament in the day and a night light in the evening.

Sorry… birthstone related gifts again! But believe it or not these are SOAPS! Aren’t they great? They are all handmade and look just like gemstones, I would like one of each in my stocking please Santa!

My Mum loves her herb garden, and so these brass herb plant markers are a perfect present for her!

Or how about this slow brew iced tea maker?! A great idea if your Mum enjoys her iced teas whilst working in the garden!

 

If this hasn’t been enough to convince you, UncommonGoods also have a really admirable mission statement, and are working hard to make sustainability a key part of their business. They are constantly working to make UncommonGoods more environmentally friendly and more socially responsible.

Here are just some things UncommonGoods focus on as part of the everyday running of the business:

Handmade, Recycled and Organic Products –

“We’re committed to offering you a creative and exciting merchandise assortment and are working with our suppliers – from artists to small manufacturers – to make their products in a more socially and environmentally responsible manner. Since our founding, we’ve featured products that contain recycled components and have not sold products containing leather, feathers or fur – we’re committed to selling products that do no harm to people or animals.”

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

“We understand that by producing a catalog we use the earth’s resources. We try our best to minimize that impact by shifting more business online, limiting how many catalogs we mail, and printing our catalogs on either recycled paper (virtually all of which is from 30% post-consumer waste) or paper sourced from FSC certified forests (which are harvested in a sustainable manner).”

Better To Give

“Giving back is important to us and we want to share this passion with our customers. That’s why we created the Better to Give Program in 2001, which allows you to select a non-profit organization to receive a $1 donation from us at checkout. UncommonGoods has donated over $1,000,000 since we created this program.” Learn more about this here

B Corporation

“UncommonGoods is proud to be a founding member of B Corporation, an organization created to help customers understand the social and environmental impact of their purchases. The B seal means that a company has met the standards outlined in a comprehensive screening questionnaire, which evaluates a company on issues ranging from providing a living wage, to lessening their impact on the environment, to giving back to the community.”

So as  you can see, they are a wonderful company to purchase from!

Happy shopping – I’m sure you will find some truly amazing gifts for your loved ones from UncommonGoods! I would love to hear from you about your fantastic finds! Don’t forget to sign up to their website – secret sales are available to their email subscribers only!

Lush Cosmetics – the jelly edition!

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Hello fellow Lushies!

I couldn’t wait to try the new jelly range from Lush and ordered all of the items as soon as they were released! The jelly masks are long-lasting and easy to store and transport because they don’t leak everywhere, and I couldn’t wait to try out this new found phenomenon known as the “jelly” bomb!

I actually used all the products a couple of months ago but had so many scheduled blogs, I’ve only just got round to publishing this one! Here’s what I thought of all the products in the new range –

Fomo Jelly Face Mask

Fomo was the first of the five new Lush jelly face masks I tried – no particular reason why I tried this one first, it was just the first one I grabbed out of my stash!

The main thing I love about these masks is that they are far more longer lasting than the other Lush face masks currently available – you soon find that the use by date on the fresh face masks comes around very quickly!

Fomo has been designed for all skin types and is ideal for those fans of the floral scented masks. The mask features calamine powder and rose absolute and a tiny bit of neroli to give it a little bit of sweetness. The calamine powder ingredient makes this mask ideal for people who have sensitive skin, as it acts as a calming ingredient. It is also ideal if your skin is suffering from a little bit too much time in the sun. The mask also contains kaolin clay, which is designed to absorb any excess oil.

To use the jelly masks, tear off a grape sized piece of the jelly (to be fair, I do use more than this as I like a nice thick mask) and work into a paste in the palm of your hands (with a tiny bit of water you wish) and then apply to your skin, leave on for 15 to 20 minutes and then wash away! Simple!

I found my skin was lovely and clean and smooth after using Fomo, and I am surprised at how many uses you can get out of a single 65g pot, I am estimating around 15! So very good value for money and of course, as they are long lasting masks, you don’t have to rush to use them up!

Dark Arts Jelly Bath Bomb

I couldn’t wait to try this! A new jelly style bath bomb named after Harry Potter! Brilliant! (Although after writing this blog, the name of this jelly bomb has now been renamed “Secret Arts” not “Dark Arts” – I assume there were issues copying the Dark Arts name!?)

These new jelly bath bombs feature an ingredient called sodium alginate, which is what causes the jelly like substance in your bath water. This ingredient is really rich in minerals and is known for its moisturising properties, so is an ideal ingredient to use in a bath bomb.

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Dark Arts has some of my favourite scents in it – cinnamon, orange oil and almond oil which create a really lovely warming scent. It’s a definite autumnal/Halloween style scent, and not a scent I would go for in the hot summer months!

As soon as it hits the water, Dark Arts begins to fizz away and thick black gloopy mounds begin to fill the bath. It didn’t take long to fully fizz away and before long the bath rather resembled an oil slick! Not joking!

As soon as you climb into the bath, the jelly like substance almost clings to your skin, but after you have been settled in the bath for a while, the jelly begins to dissolve. After around 15 minutes, all the jelly should be completely gone.

A word of warning – be careful when first stepping into the bath when using a jelly bomb as the base of the bath is VERY slippery!!

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Once I got out of the bath I was impressed at how soft and moisturised my skin was without it being greasy or oily! I have to admit I didn’t stay in the bath as long as I would have normally because I was worried about the black gloop staining our bath tub (we are moving out in a few weeks so I don’t think the new owners would have been best pleased!) I also didn’t feel comfortable washing my hair in the bath with a jelly bath bomb – I’m sure you understand why!

Due to its extremely dark colour, it did make a mess and leave marks in the bath tub which needed a good scrub, and you have to make sure it is all washed off your skin before wiping your skin with a towel – especially if you have white towels!

A very novel experience – it’s almost like a mud-bath style of relaxing – your skin feels really moisturised and hydrated afterwards but you don’t feel as clean and refreshed as you would do after a normal bath bomb experience in my opinion!!

Birth of Venus Jelly Face Mask

The Birth of Venus jelly mask sounds very exotic and contains fresh sea water, lavender, chamomile, frankincense and myrrh!

I found the lavender scent to be the most prominent in this mask, and the scent is one of my favourites so far. The mask left my skin soft and smooth and with a really lovely glow about it which I didn’t get with the other jelly masks. Some fellow Lushies have found this mask to make their skin quite oily, but as I have quite dry skin it seems to match my skin type perfectly. A couple of friends have used this mask and really loved it as well!

I came across a tip from a fellow Lushie which gave me some thought – she said to use a spoon to get the amount of face mask you need out of the pot (both jelly masks and normal masks) as this stops you adding bacteria to the pot and contaminating it! She said since she changed to using a spoon to get the product out of the pot she has found her Lush fresh face masks last a lot longer after their sell by date too – I’m definitely going to do this from now on!

The Big Sleep Jelly Bath Bomb

This was the second jelly bomb I tried and to be honest, after using the Dark Arts jelly bomb, I wasn’t too sure what to expect! The bath did take a lot of scrubbing after using that little rascal!

Anyway, although I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I am an insomniac, I do really struggle with sleepless nights and spending hours on end trying to wind down and relax and go off to sleep, so anything which helps me with this is a welcome addition!

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The Big Sleep jelly bath bomb is lovely smelling and contains scents of lavender, neroli, tonka and chamomile – its making me feel more relaxed just writing about those ingredients!

As you can see this jelly bomb is another fast fizzer, but didn’t seem to be as aggressive or “gloopy” as the Dark Arts jelly bomb had been – maybe it was because the colours are far more subtle? I did find, even after around 15 minutes, that not all of the bomb and the jelly had dissolved in the bath and they needed to be crumbled up to finish them off.

I did find that the jelly didn’t stick to me and need to be scrubbed off as much as it had with the Dark Arts jelly bomb, in fact it seemed there was less jelly in The Big Sleep. Again, maybe this is just due to the fact that the colours aren’t so obvious?

This jelly bomb is very moisturising and I did find the lovely scent of lavender and chamomile to be very relaxing. Did I have a better nights sleep that evening? Yes. Was it due to The Big Sleep jelly bomb? Not sure, but I would definitely buy it again regardless! I’ve already added a couple more to my Lush stash!

Bunny Moon Jelly Face Mask

Bunny Moon was the mask I was looking forward to using most, basically because it looks so pretty! An added dash of sparkle on top made it all the more appealing!

Bunny Moon contains honey which is antiseptic and moisturising at the same time. It also contains rose oil to help soothe and balance the skin and chamomile and marigold to calm. Throw in a dash of vanilla and I think I may have found my favourite smelling mask!!

I found Bunny Moon was easier to apply than a couple of the other masks (I found Just To Clarify quite grainy and difficult to work into a paste for example) and found it to be just the right amount of cleansing and moisturising. My skin felt amazing straight after removing the mask but this seemed to wear off after a couple of hours. Definitely one I would use again though – probably on a daily basis I think.

Green Coconut Jelly Bath Bomb

I’m not actually a big fan of coconut scented things but I was pleasantly surprised when the Green Coconut jelly bomb when it arrived. Coconut is the overall smell but it is much more subtle and is not over powering and gives off an almost musty smell. The bomb also contains cinnamon leaf oil and lemongrass, however it does not have any kind of a citrusy aroma about it.

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This jelly bomb fizzes immediately but in my opinion slightly more slowly than the Dark Arts jelly bomb. It is not long until thick green blobs of jelly are floating across the surface of the water. I found that Green Coconut didn’t give off as much jelly as the other two, and I also found that Green Coconut and The Big Sleep take a lot longer to dissolve, and the last remaining chunk needs to be crushed up to dissolve it all.

I cannot state this enough – please be careful stepping into the bath – the bottom of the bath is SO slippery! I guarantee it won’t be long until someone has a bad slip on this stuff, and it catches me off guard every single time, even after using the third jelly bomb!

As with the other jelly bombs, when you step into the bath the jelly sticks to your skin and you can feel how moisturising it is. After around 15 to 20 minutes, all of the jelly has completely dissolved and you are left with a lovely green “slimer” coloured water which feels incredibly moisturising and is not at all oily! Plus this jelly bomb didn’t leave any mess in the bath, unlike the Dark Arts bomb. This one is a very close second favourite after The Big Sleep jelly bomb!

1000 Millihelens Jelly Face Mask

Another lovely jelly face mask but I am not a fan of the smell of this one as it contains witch hazel which I am not keen on! Each to their own though – my sister loved the smell of this mask!

I was looking forward to trying this one as although I am not keen on the witch hazel smell, it is well known for soothing irritated skin. As an added bonus it also contains kaolin clay to remove grease and green tea to detox the skin. To top it all off it contains lemon oil to brighten the skin – a brilliant all rounder really!

After using it I found my skin to be smooth and soft and a little dry to start off with, but after around an hour my skin felt even better than it had when I had first washed the mask off. This is definitely a mask I would use again but probably not on a regular basis purely because I dislike the smell! I wouldn’t find it relaxing wearing a facemark which I don’t like the smell of!

Marmalade Jelly Bath Bomb

I had to wait a long time to get my hands on this one as it wasn’t released at the same time as the other jelly bombs – I had heard this was due to Lush having problems obtaining one of the ingredients they required to make the bombs but how true this is and what ingredient it was they couldn’t get hold of I really don’t know.

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This was the one I was most looking forward to trying because it has grapefruit and orange oils in it and I really love citrusy smells, but I can’t explain how disappointed I was when it arrived and this was before I had even got it out of the box!

The smell is really hard to explain and, in all honesty, is not very nice. I could smell it before I even opened my Lush delivery! It isn’t citrusy at all although you can detect the scent of orange flower, however it is very bitter and far too potent for my liking. So much so in fact that I wasn’t looking forward to bathing in it at all!

It was a shame I didn’t like the smell because I think it was actually the best performing bath bomb of all of them – it was a fast fizzer which left lots and lots of lovely moisturising jelly. It did however leave quite a few hard chunks which I couldn’t even crumble up and had to be thrown away which did seem a bit of a waste.

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Despite the weird smell, Marmalade was very moisturising and left my skin feeling lovely and soft. Would this be enough to persuade me to buy another one and to try and ignore the smell? No, I am afraid not. Always the way – the one you look forward to the most ends up being the most disappointing!! The worst smelling Lush product I have come across I am afraid!!

Just to Clarify Jelly Face Mask

Forget the smell of all the others – this scent is my absolute favourite! This one is a lovely citrusy mask containing Enzymic papaya juice to brighten, Bamboo stem to exfoliate, Grapefruit and bergamot oils to lift your mood and finally Fresh orange juice to perk you up!

When rubbing this one into a paste I did find this one to be far more gritty than the others I had tried – I didn’t find anything wrong with this, it was merely an observation, and to be honest the texture being slightly grainy only made me think what a great exfoliant it would be.

Absolute favourite mask out of the five new jelly masks – my skin felt cleansed and refreshed and revitalised after using it – I love citrusy scents, this would be an ideal mask for first thing in the morning to perk you up and get you ready for the day!

So to sum up my jelly products experience, out of the jelly bombs my favourite is the Big Sleep (which I have already bought several times), followed by Green Coconut, Dark Arts and Marmalade. I would probably buy all of them again at some point, apart from Marmalade!!

Out of the jelly masks, my favourite is Just to Clarify, followed closely by Birth of Venus, Bunny Moon, Fomo and 1000 Millhelens.

I really enjoyed using all the jelly products despite my concerns that they would just be a gimmick and not as good quality as the existing Lush range, but although there aren’t any jelly products which are my absolute favourites over the existing Lush products, there are several from this range which I would definitely buy again! Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Desserts Delivered Bakery

For all you cake lovers out there – this is the blog for you! Let me introduce you to one of the best online finds I have come across so far!

Desserts Delivered Bakery is a fantastic online bakery which delivers a variety of amazing cakes all over the UK. They even guarantee to deliver your selected cakes within 24 hours and offer next day delivery as standard!

Here’s a selection of some of the great cakes they have on offer:

The Rainbow Cake

The first cake I ordered from Desserts Delivered Bakery was the amazing Rainbow Cake. I was slightly disappointed when it first arrived as it turns out they have recently changed the design, and I actually preferred the original one, but as soon as I tried the first slice I was so pleased I had ordered it – especially after a particularly rubbish week!

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The colourful Rainbow Cake is a plain vanilla sponge with multicoloured vanilla flavoured buttercream and decorated with white chocolate jazzies, coloured fizzy sweets and a stick of multicoloured rock!

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This cake is one of the best sponge cakes I have ever eaten! It is incredibly light and very, very tasty! As soon as I ate my first slice I knew I would be ordering more cakes for Birthdays and special events from this company!

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The Bubblegum Cake

The next cake I ordered was the bubblegum cake for hubby’s Birthday!

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This is a really unusual one – I think people will either love it or hate it but I absolutely loved it and it was a real hit with family and friends – even with those who you wouldn’t have thought would like it!

A delicious light fluffy bubblegum flavoured sponge with bubblegum flavoured icing and pink and blue bonbons on top!

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This is another top seller at the Desserts Delivered Bakery and it’s easy to see why! I’ve never tasted another cake like it!

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The Cookie Cake

If you like cookies then this cake is for you! And as I am basically a cookie monster myself, I couldn’t wait to try this cake!

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A vanilla sponge cake with a butter cream centre which is topped off with milk chocolate and broken cookies on top! Perfect for those who have a sweet tooth but who find chocolate cake too heavy and sickly! Will definitely be ordering this one again!

The only thing I would say is it would have been a nice touch if the buttercream was cookie flavoured or had cookies in the mix – just to separate it a little bit from a plain vanilla cake with vanilla sponge. Again, the sponge was incredibly light and very delicious, a definite second favourite after the Rainbow cake!

The Cookies and Cream Cake

If you like milk and cookies then the cookie and cream cake is definitely for you!

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The cookies and cream cake is a lovely light chocolate sponge cake with a buttercream centre, which is then topped off with cookie and cream biscuits. Amazing. I thought it would be really heavy and sickly but the sponge is so light, it’s one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve had!

The Peanut Butter Cake

Here is the perfect cake for you Peanut Butter lovers! I love peanut butter but have never tried a peanut butter cake before!

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This cake is a rich smooth peanut butter flavour chocolate sponge cake topped with a variety of Peanut butter chocolates such as mini Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and Reeses Pieces!

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I thought this would be the least popular out of all the cakes I ordered but our guests loved it and it was the flavour which went the most quickly when we ordered a few of the cakes for a family celebration! I only got one slice out of it in the end!

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There are also other cakes available from the Desserts Delivered Bakery if none of these other cakes tickle your fancy! These include the chocolate hazelnut truffle cake (perfect for those Ferrero Rocher fans like my brother in law!), the chocolate junkyard cake, and the jammy biscuit cake!

They have also recently released a red velvet cake which looks incredible! I can’t wait to try that one!

Order your cakes from Desserts Delivered Bakery here. Prices are £20.00 per cake and each cake serves ten people, delivery starts at £4.95, and extras such as candles and balloons are also available to add to your order.

Every cake is delivered in a strong corrugated cardboard box to ensure your cake isn’t damaged when you receive it. The parcel includes dry ice as the cakes are sent frozen to retain the freshness and quality of the cake. Fear not though – you only need to defrost the cake for four to five hours and the cake is then ready to eat! You do not need to refrigerate the cake either, it can be left in its box for up to a week and it will still be perfect to eat!

On one occasion I ordered three cakes together and was really pleased to find out that the next day delivery cost was still only £4.95! The cakes arrive well packaged and secure and with dry ice in the boxes to keep them cool – fantastic service!! Some online bakeries charge a fortune for their items to be delivered so the cost of delivery was brilliant in my opinion!

Get stuck in!

Addicted to Lush Take Three!

Hello fellow Lush cosmetic fans!

The Lush cosmetics experiments and reviews continue! Here’s the latest batch of products I’ve been sampling over the last few weeks –

Sex Bomb Bath Bomb

This was the first bath bomb I ever tried from Lush – my friend bought me one for my birthday a few years back and I have been a fan of the Sex Bomb bath bomb ever since!

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This lovely bath bomb is a swirly combination of pink and purple, with a lovely pink rice paper rose in the top. It contains jasmine which helps ease stress and ylang ylang and clary sage. It also contains soya milk which has soothing and conditioning properties for the skin.

Not a very strong bath bomb, Sex Bomb is a slow and gentle dissolver which creates beautiful pink swirls and releases the rice paper flower which floats around the water. I love the smell of this bath bomb and would buy it again for the scent alone, although I don’t find it very moisturising when compared to some of the other bath bombs.

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A lovely relaxing and calming bath bomb – ideal for a cosy night in and one I would definitely buy again!

Avobath Bath Bomb

This lovely bomb has a very strong lemongrass-bergamot citrusy scent. It also contains rosewood oil, gardenia extract, real mashed up avocado and olive oil, meaning it’s fantastic for dry skin. If, like me, you hate covering yourself with oils and creams to moisturise, then this is the perfect bath bomb for you!

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The scent is lovely and uplifting and perfect for the summer months. The bath water changes to a pretty shade of green with tiny gold glitter flecks which shimmer on the surface. 
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This lovely little bomb leaves your skin feeling very refreshed and hydrated and I really loved the strong citrusy smell. Even better – it’s one of the best bath bombs you can get for moisturising!

Rub Rub Rub Shower Scrub

The price of the Rub Rub Rub shower scrub (£8.95) did put me off buying it for a while, as it is only sold in 330 gram pots which I thought I would end up getting through in 2 showers!

It is a product which contains sea-salt (for exfoliating) and lemon juice (for cleansing). The fragrance is a combination of mimosa and orange flower absolute.

It leaves your skin feeling silky smooth and incredibly soft and has a surprising cooling effect on the skin. You can use it gently whilst in the shower or use it on dead or dry skin before you have a shower and then hop in the shower to wash it off.

Some people aren’t fans of the smell of Rub Rub Rub shower scrub and I do have to admit the smell is rather reminiscent of toilet cleaner, but isn’t off putting or horrible in any way! The smell certainly grows on you, and even if you aren’t a big fan, it is worth putting up with the unusual smell as it is a fantastic exfoliator! You can actually feel the lemon juice tingling on your skin (and sometimes stinging slightly if you leave it on for too long!) as you rub it in!

I was pleased to discover that the 330 gram pot lasts a surprisingly long time and I have so far slathered myself in the stuff for four or five uses and reckon I’ve still got another use left in the pot. I will definitely be buying more – one thing I will say is that I have found I have used it more when I’m in the bath rather than the shower – I like to apply it and leave it for a couple of minutes to work its magic before washing it off and it is far harder to do this whilst under running water in the shower as most of the product gets washed down the plughole!

French Kiss Bubble Bar

I really love lavender scented products so was really looking forward to using this!

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Ok so I have been trawling through Instagram far too much but what all the other “Lushie’s” do with bubble bars is cut them up and crumble them, store them in a small airtight container and then use them a little bit at a time. The bubble bars don’t look much when they are all crumbled up but you can easily get three or four bubble filled baths out of one bar! If you are feeling particularly indulgent, of course you can crumble the entire bubble bar under the running bath water!

The bath is very soon filled with mounds of lavender scented bubbles and the water becomes a lovely shade of purple.

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The bubble bar is made with lavender oil, a hint of rosemary, thyme, and coconut oil, however the smell is predominately lavender  – ideal for helping you to relax and get off to sleep after a long stressful day. A lovely bubble bar which I will be adding to my regular purchase list! Anything which helps me nod off after a hard day at work is very welcome at the moment!

Golden Egg Bath Bomb

This was part of Lush’s Easter range and I loved the look of it so I ordered a few online. Unfortunately when they arrived I unpacked the box of goodies and the glitter from these golden egg bath bombs was EVERYWHERE. I got them out of the box to put them away safely and again got glitter EVERYWHERE. After that I must admit I was put off using them as I had an image of the bath tub being absolutely covered in glitter and needing a good clean afterwards which I couldn’t be bothered to do!

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This bomb is unique in a way because it is part bath bomb, part bath melt. Underneath the top shell of thick golden glitter is another shell of cocoa butter with orange oil which melts away into a lovely yellow foam when it’s submerged in the bath water. Once the middle is exposed, a thick white foam is revealed which mixes with the yellow, resulting in golden yellow shimmery bath water.

Although not at all a fan of the over the top glitter this bath bomb contains – it does give off a lovely warming syrupy scent which is very long lasting. Lush do warn that because this is part bath melt, you may find your bath bomb sink to the bottom of the bath due to it’s weight, so don’t think you have a dud if yours does this!

I’m a big fan of the scent and how moisturising it is but not the design – the glitter really is just crazy! I was pleased however that the majority of the glitter did just disappear along with the bath water, with only a small amount of glitter left at the bottom of the bath tub which was easily washed away with just water – no hours of scrubbing the bath as I had expected after all!!

Experimenter Bath Bomb

The bomb I used for these pictures was actually an Easter special version of Experimenter, known as Eggsperimenter, and it is MASSIVE! Yay!

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It’s a lovely looking bath bomb – a bomb consisting of vivid blue, pink, purple, white and gold colours! One of its key ingredients is vetivert oil. Vetivert is a tall grass with long and thin leaves which is found growing in places such as India, Java and Tahiti. Vetivert oil is obtained from the dried, chopped roots and rootlets of the Vetiveria zizanoides plant and therefore provides a smoky earthy kind of scent in this bath bomb. To even out this strong scent, vanilla absolute and tonka also feature.

The Experimenter is a loud fizzer and provides an amazing visual display of colour – vivid blue, yellows, pinks and greens all swirl to form a beautiful blanket of colour in the bath water. There’s also popping candy thrown in for added effect!

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Once the bomb has dissolved, the bath water is left a slightly disappointing grey colour but, in hindsight, with such a variety of colours contained in the bomb – I can’t see what other colour the water could possibly end up! If you are after a fantastic firework display of a bath bomb then this is the one for you!!

Blue Fun Bar

Fun bars are a squidgy versatile product (like play-dough) which can be used as a bubble bar, shampoo, shower gel, soap and you can even shave with it!

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Fun Bars consists of several different colours and flavours – Blue (lavender scent), Pink (Vanilla and Sweets flavour), Purple (Blackcurrant/Blackberry smell), Green (Lemon and Lime flavour), Red (Mandarin and Orange flavour), Orange (Orange Flavour) and Yellow (Vanilla flavour).

It is recommended that you break a bit off the fun bar to use a bit at a time, and keep the remainder somewhere cool so it doesn’t “melt”. I must admit, I use mine just like a bubble bar – pull off a chunk and crumble it under running water and soon your bath is full of lovely bubbles, an amazing scent and beautifully coloured bath water.

The third Fun Bar I tried was the Blue one – I was very disappointed with the pink fun bar but really liked the scent of the purple one. This one, I am afraid to say, is akin to the pink one in that the scent of it is incredibly weak. It is supposed to smell of lavender but I really couldn’t detect this at all! Still, it filled the bath with lots of lovely fluffy bubbles so all was not completely lost! I’m afraid this is another fun bar I will be scrapping from the regular list….in fact, I am not overly fussed on any of the Fun Bars so far so don’t think I will be investing in any more. A good idea but just not my bag baby!

My next blog on Lush products will be at the end of the month where I will be reviewing the newly released “jelly” range! Looking forward to trying these out!