Blogmas 2018 -where did the tradition of the Yule log come from?

In the post for day 9 I was talking about the Yule Log as an alternative dessert, but then I began wondering where this tradition actually came from. We don’t have cakes that look like tree branches at any other time of the year, so why do we have them in December?

The last one I made was a long time ago – some kind of high school project. The sponge part went well enough, but the decorating with chocolate got so messy, especially the bit with a fork where you’re supposed to make it look like a branch. It tasted absolutely fine, but I don’t have a photo and that’s maybe not a bad thing! However if you would like to make one yourself, The Little Wise Owl posted a recipe on her blog yesterday.

So, where did this log tradition come from?

The cake is made to look like a log because in the old Pagan tradition, real logs were burned at the end of Winter as the days got shorter. People selected a really big log from the forest and kept it burning throughout the darkest time of the year. If the log stopped burning, they believed that there would be terrible luck, but if all went well, there would be good luck in the next year and the days would begin to get longer again. The good luck was especially promised to those who’d had a hand in dragging the log over the rough ground from the forest to the house. This is why it became a family event, with groups of family members going out together, hunting for the best log to bring home.

The word Yule is an old English word that related to the Pagan Winter festival in December and January.

There were various superstitions around the Yule log, including the idea that if the log didn’t start burning on the first attempt, there would be bad luck for everyone in the home. So it was important to get things right!

The tradition then developed to tie in with the Christmas celebrations. The log was lit on Christmas Eve and hopefully it would burn all throughout the 12 Days of Christmas.

Most of us don’t have open fires now, so the tradition with the real log has died out to the point that I didn’t even know about it before researching this article. But the chocolate variation still remains today and people can either buy or make them. Not every family has one, but growing up, we often had one as an alternative that was especially popular with the children!

It’s thought that the chocolate log we know today originated in France, where it is called a Bûche de Nöel.

Do you like this dessert? Have you ever made one?

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.

Body Shop – an old favourite today – it’s another body butter, but this time from the shea range – a nice and gentle one that isn’t strongly scented and that is rich and moisturising. It’s a travel size, but a bit goes a long way!

Glossybox – today we got a Lollipop liquid highlighter. I’ve had the kind you put on with an applicator before, but never a squeezy tube of highlighter. It was easy enough to apply, but I think the shade might be too dark for me. Hmm – always a risk you take with tone or skin-type specific products, but I’m sure I’ll find something to do with it! Maybe it’ll be ok.

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.

Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!

Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
  4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
  5. Real Techniques expert face brush
  6. MUA Cosmic Vixen palette with 15 eye shadows.
  7. Karmameju konjac sponge
  8. Luxie Beauty highlighter brush

Products 9 and 10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

     
 

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
  2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
  4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This post may contain affiliate links.

Blogmas 2018 -keeping fit this Winter with free, described work-outs

I don’t know about you, but around Christmas time there are more tasty treats on offer, maybe extra glasses of mulled wine or mince pies. So many of us plan to start a fitness regime in January, but really we don’t need to wait until then!

When I stopped my3-hour commute, which involved about 40 minutes walking each way, I knew I’d have to do something about staying fit. I wrote in my post about what I do to try and stay fit – including putting fitness training into my calendar like a meeting that I have to attend, and regularly spending time on the exercise bike and cross-trainer.

My sprained knee from the accident in August has meant that I had to limit some of my exercise activities for a while, particularly the workouts that involved putting my full weight on a leg that probably wouldn’t have taken it, but I’m getting back into it now because the joint needs exercise.

So taking some positive action around exercise doesn’t have to wait till January. You can join a gym, but there are plenty of other things that you can do at home too.

As someone who is visually impaired, one of the problems that I’ve come across is a lack of accessible home workouts. There are loads of videos on YouTube, but they often don’t describe what the person is doing very well, so if you can’t watch them, you can’t really follow along. This is frustrating.

You may remember a while ago I did an interview with Mel from Blind Alive, who developed a series of accessible work-outs which you can do without being able to watch what the trainer is doing. All of the workouts come with text descriptions of the exercises, as well as individual sound tracks to describe each exercise or position in a bit more detail.

I’ve done the cardio ones and the weights ones so far, but I’m now going to be trying some more because Mel from Eyes Free Fitness is offering a really generous gift. From 21st November to 31st December 2018, all of the work-outs on Blind Alive/Eyes Free fitness are free. The company is closing its doors at the end of 2018, and before then, Mel would like as many people as possible to benefit from the workouts.

I’ve just downloaded the stretch workout, as well as some for yoga and Pilates, which are things that I’ve always been meaning to try and never got round to. Thank you Mel!

I’ve paid for some of these workouts in the past and I can confirm that they are really accessible, and the positions and exercises are described with words, in a way that I can follow. I would have got round to buying more of them even if they hadn’t been available for free, and I’d encourage anyone who is interested in accessible, described workouts to take a look. As the workouts were only available until 31st December 2018, I’ve now had to remove the link as it doesn’t work any more.

I downloaded the workouts straight onto my laptop from where I usually transfer them to Dropbox so I can have them with me on my phone wherever I am. There is also an app, which I’m told is accessible, although I can’t review it because I haven’t downloaded it yet.

Although the workouts are available for free, you can make a donation via Paypal, and I know a lot of work went into making these training programmes, so if you are able to give something, I would encourage you to do so. It’s not mandatory though in order to download the workouts.

This post was aimed a bit more at my visually impaired readers, but even if the workouts aren’t relevant to you, there are plenty of small things that you can do for self-care during the Christmas season. These include things like going for walks, which is a great way to clear your head as well as being a chance to get fresh air. Whatever else you may be drinking, try to make sure that you get plenty of water too. You may be having some late nights, but try and get a couple of early ones too so that you can catch up on your sleep.

What else will you be doing for self care in the next few weeks? Let me know in the comments!

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.

Body Shop – I didn’t even know the Body Shop did 100ml hand creams, but there is a limited edition one in the British rose scent. The formula of these hand creams is really gentle and nourishing, and whilst rose isn’t usually my go-to fragrance, I’ll be happy to have this on my desk this Winter because my hands do get really dry.

Glossybox – today we got a highlighter brush from Luxie Beauty. I’m not actually familiar with this brand, but it says the brushes are hand-crafted using vegan and cruelty-free materials. As there is a highlighter palette in the giveaway, I’m putting this in as well.

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.

Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!

Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
  4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
  5. Real Techniques expert face brush
  6. MUA Cosmic Vixen palette with 15 eye shadows.
  7. Karmameju konjac sponge
  8. Luxie Beauty highlighter brush

Products 9 and 10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

     
 

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
  2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
  4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This post may contain affiliate links.

Blogmas 2018 – looking after your dog at Christmas

To finish off the week in which we’ve been looking at dogs, I decided to put together some tips for how you can take extra care of your dog in the colder weather, when there’s snow on the ground, and when there are more tasty treats around, not all of which are good for dogs.

Out and about

Many dogs love playing in the snow, but the salt put down on pavements can hurt their paws, especially if there are any small cuts on the pads. So be careful where you’re walking.

Your dog might recognise its favourite place for swimming, but if a lake or river is frozen over, it’s best to avoid because you don’t want there to be an accident involving your dog falling through the ice.

Some breeds’ coats are ideal for the cold weather, but if you have a young dog, an older inactive dog, or a dog with a fine coat, consider getting them a coat for wintry walks to keep them warm and dry. Cindy had one towards the end because of her arthritis and she never minded wearing it.

Snowy conditions may make your dog less visible, so you can do some work in advance to make sure they do come back when you call them. This is important anyway, but even more so when it’s harder to see them in snowy conditions. You might also consider a bell for their collar.

It’s important for dogs to get exercise, but only when it’s safe for you both to do so. A missed walk because of howling winds and a snowstorm is better than either you or your dog getting injured in dangerous weather conditions when people have been advised to stay indoors.

Try to stick to roads with pavements, but if you can’t, walk with the traffic coming towards you and the dog on the side furthest from the traffic. If you know that you’ll be out and about on roads with no pavements, consider wearing something reflective – this can also apply to your dog because you can buy reflective jackets or collars.

Frozen, hard ground is harder on a dog’s joints, so try to take things more gently when you first go outside – partly because it will take longer to warm up, and partly because landing on harder ground will impact more on a dog’s joints.

Antifreeze is used a lot more in the winter months, but it is toxic to dogs. Unfortunately it smells and tastes sweet, which makes it appealing to drink or lap up from the ground.

When you’re at home

As well as making sure there is no salt on your dog’s paws when they get back inside, it’s also good to check that there is no compact snow in there either. This can freeze and become very painful. I used to trim the long hair under Cindy the retriever’s pads so that it didn’t become uncomfortable after walking on the snow.

If you’ve been out in the rain or snow, make sure your dog has somewhere warm and dry to lie and get warm again. Towel-dry your dog to get the most of the water out of their coat. Cindy used to let me use the hairdryer on her, but not all dogs will like this!

If your dog isn’t as active in the winter, you might need to alter their diet accordingly.

If you let your dog outside, some dogs may bark or scratch to come in, but others won’t – so don’t forget about them or leave them out there for a long time or they could get too cold or develop hypothermia.

Around Christmas time

We have lots of treats around at Christmas time, but some of these are dangerous for dogs.

Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which is poisonous to dogs. If you really want to give your dog chocolate, you buy doggy treats instead.

Currants, raisins and sultanas are also bad for dogs, including foods that contain these ingredients such as mince pies and Christmas cake.

Apparently blue cheese is bad for dogs too – I didn’t know that.

Holly and mistletoe can also cause an upset stomach. Eating pine branches or chomping on the Christmas tree may cause stomach upset, but the real problem is that the sharp pine needles can damage a dog internally if they scratch its insides.

Whilst onions and garlic may initially cause an upset stomach, the main problem is that they can damage the red blood cells, which can lead to anaemia.

Don’t leave unattended alcohol where dogs can lap it up! Smaller dogs will have less tolerance to alcohol, and if drunk in excess, it can lead to low body temperature or even a coma.

So, there’s a list of things not to do, but a few minutes to make sure your dog doesn’t get the forbidden products is much better than the trauma of having an ill dog, especially over the Christmas season when it’s harder to get vet appointments.

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.

Body Shop – a full size bouncy sleeping mask from the Drops of Youth range. I’ve never tried this before, but it’s been on my list of things I want to splash out on. RRP is £25 and you get 90ml. Apparently, the soft, gel-like texture moulds itself like a second skin and its enriched with Edelweiss stem cells from Italy and sea holly from France. Very festive! I haven’t used it yet, but I’m looking forward to trying it. You put it on as the last step in your evening skincare routine and leave it overnight.

Glossybox – I personally can’t think of anything more annoying to work with than a loose powder eye shadow, but that’s just my personal preference and I’m not saying it’s a bad product. Still, I’ll be finding a home for this Pop Beauty eye shadow pigment!

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.

Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!

Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
  4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
  5. Real Techniques expert face brush
  6. MUA Cosmic Vixen palette with 15 eye shadows.
  7. Karmameju konjac sponge

Products 8-10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

     
 

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
  2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
  4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This post may contain affiliate links.

Blogmas 2018 – why do we associate robins with Christmas?

So, a question that went through my head the other day is – why do we have the Christmas robin? Not the Christmas pigeon or the Christmas crow?

I mean, they’re everywhere at Christmas time. On Christmas cards or pictures, and we have a few on our Christmas tree as well.

So I decided to try and find out.

Most of the articles I found made a link between the red breast of a robin and the red uniform worn by postmen in the UK in Victorian times. In fact, our Royal Mail postmen still wear red jackets or red shirts today. Red is considered a royal colour and also a colour that is seen on the Union Jack.

Christmas cards were just becoming popular during the Victorian period, and as the postman brought your cards, the association was made with the robin, which led to robins being depicted on the cards as well.

It also led to the postmen being called robins, although this name isn’t used nowadays.

I also learned that robins like to live in areas where there are big trees and hedgerows. As we started planting hedgerows to mark out the borders of our fields or gardens, robins and people started living closer together – or rather, the robins were encouraged to move closer to the humans. There are more species of birds around in the Summer, but in the Winter, the birds would need to find something to eat. When snow covers the ground, it makes it harder for birds to find food, which sometimes makes them bolder. They’re hungry and they need to find food. So it became more common to see robins on snowy scenes, which may have also contributed to their popularity on Christmas cards.

If you want to give the robins a helping hand in the Winter, they like berries or chopped apples, and mealworms. Especially if the ground is frozen over or there is snow, it’s important to give them access to water as well. Putting water out is good, but you also need to check that it hasn’t frozen over. If you put dried mealworms out, you can also soak them in water to help the birds get moisture in their diet.

Whether or not our affection for the robin has something to do with the Christmas association is unclear, but the robin was voted in 1960 as our national bird.

Have you seen many robins this year?

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.

Body Shop – a full size moringa shower gel. We had a shower gel a couple of days ago – I don’t mind another one, but it would have been nice to see some of the fruity products instead of another floral one. There are lovely ranges such as grapefruit, strawberry or raspberry – would have been good to see one of those instead. But never mind, this is a full-size one and I will use it.

Glossybox – this wasn’t something I’ve ever seen before – in fact I didn’t know that this brand did lip products. It’s the Inc.redible jelly lip quencher from Nails Inc. It’s a tinted lip balm in stick form with avocado, vitamin E, and rice bran oil. It doesn’t have a specific taste, but it is gentle and creamy on the lips.

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.

Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!

Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
  4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
  5. Real Techniques expert face brush
  6. MUA Cosmic Vixen palette with 15 eye shadows.
  7. Karmameju konjac sponge

Products 8-10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

     
 

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
  2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
  4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This post may contain affiliate links.

Blogmas 2018 – staying warm this Winter with the Hive smart heating system

Earlier this week I talked about what you can do to keep warm this Winter. Staying on a similar theme, I want to tell you about the new addition to our home – the Hive active heating system. We got ours in the Black Friday sale, so as well as making our heating system more efficient and accessible, it was also a bit cheaper!

Why do you want a smart heating system?

When I lived in my last house, I put some markers on the dial of the thermostat so that I knew where 20 degrees was and could then go up or down a bit from there. IT wasn’t exact, because the dial was too small, but I could keep a constant temperature. However, in the night I usually turned it off or down, and as I couldn’t set the heating timer myself, I had to make a quick run for it in the morning and either get ready in a cold house, or sit with my hands around a coffee mug till it was warm enough to type! I probably saved on heating bills, but it wasn’t fun!

When I moved in with S, things improved a lot because he could set the timer, but he was the only one who could change it. So I had to remember to tell him if I had an early meeting and wanted the heating on early. If we didn’t want to be woken up by the heating at the weekend, we had to remember to turn it off, or I had to ask S to change the time, and then put it back again for Monday. When I was home alone, I could turn the heating on or off, but had no idea of the temperature.

Then we learned about systems that you can control using your phone, which should in theory make them more accessible to me. Interfaces on electrical devices often aren’t usable for me as someone with no vision, but if the app is accessible – and this isn’t a given – but if the app has been designed to work well with screenreading software, it can give me the access to the displays and controls.

It’s not just blind people who want smart heating systems – there are other factors such as the comfort of either of us being able to change the temperature or the week’s heating schedule from anywhere in the house, or to pop the heating on before we get home.

Why Hive?

If we were going to get a smart heating control system, I needed to make sure it was going to be something that I’d be able to use. I did some online research, and it appeared that there were two main systems in the running – Hive and Nest.

With Hive, you can download the app for free and trial it using a test house. So the house isn’t real, but you can look at the controls and the various parts of the app.

One of our friends let me join his Nest so that I could also test the accessibility of the app’s interface. It felt less intuitive than the Hive interface, and the scheduler screen was very confusing. Still, it was good to be able to try both of them so that I had something to compare.

I could have used Nest, but the Hive app felt more streamlined and worked better with VoiceOver. S preferred the look of it to, so we decided to go for Hive in the end.

What was the installation process like?

We went for the package with installation, so a British gas engineer came out to install the Hive receiver, which controls the boiler, set up the Hive hub, and the Hive thermostat, which is battery-operated and can be put wherever you want in the house .

It took about 45 minutes and the engineer gave me the product number that I needed to connect the device to our Hive account. Afterwards, as I was there on my own, he explained the functions of the buttons on the thermostat and pointed out how to override the thermostat on the main device so that we could still turn on the heating in the event of a problem with the thermostat. He was helpful and efficient.

What is it like to use Hive with VoiceOver?

We don’t use all the features of the app because we don’t have a lot of connected devices, but it’s been fine so far. We have schedules set up now and I can easily amend them if our plans change or I have an early morning meeting. I can read both the temperature in the room where the thermostat is and set the desired temperature.

The buttons on the app are labelled and I can change the time and temperature sliders by touch.

Maybe in the future we’ll add additional zones, but for now, we’re happy and it does what it needs to.

You can also control Hive using Alexa and Google Assistant, but we prefer to keep to the iPhone app.

The website says you can save money by never heating an empty house again. This isn’t something we did, because we always just turned the heating off if we were going out, so I don’t expect to see any massive savings on the heating bill. But it will benefit us in terms of me being able to control the heating independently, and as a result not being cold in the morning! And a cold Kirsty is a grumpy Kirsty, so that’s always good!

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.

Body Shop – another Spa of the World product – this time the Japanese Camellia cream, which is something I haven’t tried before. It’s probably not something I would have picked up because the scent is quite a strong floral one, but it feels like a rich, nourishing body cream, and I’m looking forward to giving it a go.

Glossybox – I don’t use most of the hair styling products I get in boxes or calendars, which is why I was happy to see a hair mask today. We have the Elgon concentrated restore mask – something I haven’t heard of before, so I look forward to trying that too. It’s a generous size, so even with my vary long hair, I’ll get a few treatments out of it.

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.

Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!

Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
  4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
  5. Real Techniques expert face brush
  6. MUA Cosmic Vixen palette with 15 eye shadows.
  7. Karmameju konjac sponge

Products 8-10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

     
 

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
  2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
  4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This post may contain affiliate links.

 

 

 

 

 

Blogmas 2018 – visit to the Dogs Trust rehoming centre

When I was planning my Blogmas content, I knew I wanted to talk about some charities, and that there would be some kind of Dogs Trust post. On Saturday we had my interview with Aimee, a volunteer who works at the Newbury Centre and told us about her experiences working with the dogs on Christmas Day. When I was organising the interview, Emily from Dogs Trust also invited me to one of the centres so that I could look around, find out more about the work that goes on there, and hopefully meet some dogs!
S and I drove to Newbury last Saturday, where we met Kaylee, who took us on a tour of the facility and answered my questions.
The first stop was the rehoming area, where you can see some of the dogs who are looking for new homes. S was particularly amused by Lulu the lurcher, who was meticulously rearranging her bowls to get every last morsel of food that had dropped underneath!
Nothing happens from the front of the kennels, so the dogs don’t expect treats or interactions from there. It’s a chance for people to see the dogs, but the dogs have their own space too, because they’re behind the glass. They have differently coloured tiles in there, so they can choose whether they want to lie on something warm or cool, and the staff find out what kind of bed they like to lie on.
When a dog first comes to the centre, the staff spend some time getting to know the dog to find out about its personality, what it likes, what it needs in terms of training, and what kind of home they think will be most suitable. Then the dog’s details are released, and people can come to find out a bit more.
Some people know exactly what kind of dog they want, but it’s good to have an open mind because there may be a better match for you that’s a breed that you hadn’t even considered before.
As well as thinking about what kind of dog you would like, if you’re looking to give a dog a home, it’s also good to think about what you can offer. For example, do you have an active or a quiet home? Do you have other animals? We have a fairly quiet home with no other animals, which would be fine for an older dog who wants to chill, but less suitable for a puppy or a dog who prefers to have doggy pals around.
I would have happily taken one or two home with me, but we’re not looking to get a dog at the moment. Still, part of me is glad that there weren’t any retrievers there at the time of our visit, or I would have really struggled!
At the moment, there are 54 dogs either at the Newbury centre or in foster care. Some of the dogs don’t do as well in the kennel environment, so they go to live in homes with foster carers until a suitable “forever home” can be found.

What’s it like living at the centre?

As well as the kennels, there is some other accommodation for dogs who need things to be a bit quieter. They may still be great additions to a family, but they feel stressed out by all the coming and going in the main kennel block, or the presence of other dogs might be unsettling for them. So they get to live in a house where things are a bit quieter.
There is plenty of space outside for exercise. The dogs are taken for their walks, either individually or with their kennel mate. They can go in the garden, where we also went to meet some of the dogs, or there is a field that has agility and other training equipment that can be used by the trainers – either to teach something specific, or just to keep their brains and bodies active while they’re at the centre.
A vet nurse is based at the centre, and any minor treatments can be carried out at the centre in the vet room. This includes things such as drops for ear problems, or routine flea and worm treatments. All dogs are checked for any health problems when they arrive at the centre, and their health is monitored throughout their stay. If there is anything more serious, the dog is taken to the local vet. There is a special agreement for some dogs with manageable long-term health conditions, which means that the vet bills are covered by Dogs’ Trust in some cases where the cost of continuing the treatment might make it more difficult for the dog to find a home.
We also visited the grooming room, which was equipped with a height-adjustable grooming bench and a shower. I would love to spend time in there grooming some dogs! The dogs look so much better once all the tangles are gone and the loose hair is combed out. It can also be therapeutic for the dog, and a good way to get them used to being handled.

Meeting some furry friends

A trip to the dog centre wouldn’t be complete without me having some canine contact and we finished the visit by going out into the garden, where several dogs were brought out to meet us.
First came Digger the collie terrier cross and his spaniel friend. Digger was originally a dogs Trust dog, but he now lives with one of the staff and occasionally comes to work with her. Digger got his name because of his love for digging, although he is apparently good at jumping over walls too!
Then came Jimmy – whose full name is Jimmy Jim Jams. He’s an ex-racing greyhound. Once greyhounds can no longer make money in racing, their owners often have no use for them and they end up at rescue centres. Jimmy was a friendly boy and he has since been rehomed.

Who’s looking for a home?

Here are some of the other dogs who are looking for homes in the Newbury centre:
Bubba the Boxer cross is looking for a quieter home, preferably with another dog. He is affectionate once you get to know him, but he will need a bit of help from calm and understanding owners who will help him to grow in confidence.
Mickey the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is five years old and loves people once he has had the chance to get to know them. He too would like a quiet, preferably adult-only home, with owners who will continue with his training and give him some reassurance as he settles in and gets to know his new surroundings.
Rakki the Saluki is a slightly younger dog at 15 months old. He loves playtime and has a cheeky personality. He’s still quite young, so he has more to learn and is looking for a home with owners who are willing to continue his training and socialising.
Mojo the crossbreed (rehomed) is for me the most tempting of them all. She is 10 years old and enjoys gentle games of fetch or pottering outside, but her favourite thing is cuddles. Often the older dogs get overlooked because people want to have a puppy or young dog, but the older dogs have a lot of love to give, and they’re just waiting for someone to give them a chance. They also often don’t need as much in the way of exercise or training as some of the younger, more boisterous dogs.
This isn’t an exhaustive list though. Clicking on any of these pages will take you to the Dogs Trust site. If you click on the rehoming link, there is a form with filters that you can use to bring up a list of dogs and filter them by location, breed, age etc. Unless you’re willing to travel, it is good to look for dogs locally so that you can go and visit them. Some dogs will require multiple visits first so that you can get to know them. Also, some are living in foster homes, so if you want to meet a specific dog, it’s good to get in touch with the centre first so that the dog can be brought in if they are living off-site.
Could you give one of these lovely dogs a home? If you have any questions, let me know in the comments and I’ll try and get answers for you.

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.
Body Shop – a mini of the gentle eye make-up remover. I already use this and have a full-size one, but it’s good to have the mini so you don’t need to take a massive one on short trips away.
Glossybox – a Karmameju konjac sponge that will be product 7 in the giveaway.

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.
Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!
Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.
The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.
The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
5. Real Techniques expert face brush
6. MUA Cosmic Vixen palette with 15 eye shadows.
7. Karmameju konjac sponge
Products 8-10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

Terms and conditions

1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This post may contain affiliate links.

Blogmas 2018 – Christmas A to Z

I don’t usually do tag posts, but I thought this one from Hidden Little Gem might be fun. So here are my answers to the Christmas A to Z! I’m not going to tag any other bloggers, but if you have festive associations for letters of the alphabet, why not add them in the comments?

Advent calendars

They’ve become a bit of a theme on my blog! This year I have 2 beauty ones, a cheese one, and a Braille one with chocolate!

Blogmas

This is my second year doing Blogmas. It does take time and effort, but I enjoy writing the posts, trying to come up with creative ideas, researching the articles, and finding out what everyone else is writing about too.

Christmas tree

When I was a child, we had a real one, and I love the smell of pine trees. Now we have a plastic one, but we’ve started a tradition where we put some Christmas music on and S and I decorate the tree together.

Decorating the house

We don’t have loads of decorations like some people do, but we have another tree in the kitchen, a little one in my office, various wreaths and things around the house, and it always makes me feel in the mood for Christmas when we’ve finished!

Elves

I haven’t got into the elf on the shelf thing, but they’re getting more and more popular now.

Freshly baked Christmas biscuits

I work with a lot of people in Germany, and they keep talking about the delicious biscuits that they baked. So last year I’d had enough of just hearing about them and made some too! I think I’ll be doing it again this year!

Going shopping for Christmas presents

Whether it’s physically going to the shops and wandering round whilst listening to Christmas music, or doing my shopping online, I like making a list and then trying to find things that I think people will like. Any excuse for shopping eh?!

Holly

Well, my favourite Holly is the yellow Labrador who has featured on the blog before, but we used to get some holly branches to decorate the house when I was younger, so for me, this belongs to Christmas as well.

Ice

It didn’t say they have to be good associations! I love snow, but try to avoid the ice. I’ll have to dig out the ice chains that I bought for my shoes if we have any problems with ice – they worked quite well.

Jewellery

It gives me an excuse to get out my snowmen, Christmas trees and reindeer necklaces and earrings. I don’t go in for the Christmas jumper thing, but I accessorise with jewellery instead.

Keeping warm

As I said yesterday, I don’t enjoy being cold, but there’s something satisfying about creating a cosy space where you can enjoy a night in front of a film or snuggling down with a good book and steaming cup of hot chocolate!

Lebkuchen

They come from Germany and are a kind of soft, spicy biscuit, sometimes with chocolate, sometimes with icing, and sometimes with a sweet and fruity filling.

Markets

We’ve been to three so far and may go to one more before December is over. Walking round Christmas markets is fun!

New ornaments for the tree

I started this last year and am trying to get one or two ornaments each year that are somehow relevant to us or what we have been doing. This year it was a reindeer to remind me of the real reindeer that I met at the Christmas fair.

Office party

I used to enjoy these. I don’t have one now because I’m self-employed and don’t have colleagues. But when I worked for the government in London, we used to have a lot of fun, and there was usually more than one – team party, department party, party for the building, party for another team that decided to invite me, party for any colleague in London who wanted to go… You get the idea!

Postman

Or the postlady or the parcel man/woman – all the wonderful people who bring my online shopping in December!

Quiet evenings in

The time before Christmas can involve a lot of events, rushing around, and being busy. Sometimes it’s good to take some time out, have a long bath, and unwind before the next thing happens!

Reindeer

Because they are adorable and I met my first one this year. He was so soft and he loved munching on his carrot!

Snow

It wouldn’t really be Christmas without it! Crunching through it where nobody else has walked. Building a snowman. Throwing snowballs. Playing in the snow with dogs who go chasing after snowballs and then roll around on their back! I’d love to try building an igloo one day, but haven’t tried it yet.

Tinsel

Putting it on the tree, around the house, or even on my white cane. There’s something about the smell of tinsel when it’s been in a box all year and then finally comes out again for Christmas!

Using more glitter

I don’t usually tend to go for sparkly make-up, but I will make an exception for Christmas and get the glittery things out!

Visiting or catching up with friends

I know this is a thing you can and should do all year round, but it seems at Christmas time we sometimes make that bit more effort to get back in touch with people we haven’t seen or spoken to for a while. If you’re just doing it out of a sense of duty, that’s not so good, but if it’s genuinely to catch up, then that’s great!

Wrapping presents

I used to always do this on my own, but now S and I do most of them together – teamwork – and it gets the job done faster.

Xmas music

I imagine if you work in retail, you’re probably done with Christmas music by the first week in December, but I have had the Christmas music on and it puts me in a good mood!

Yule log

Because chocolate cake is better than Christmas cake or Christmas pudding!

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I couldn’t think of anything else – but you do need a rest once it’s all over!

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.

Body Shop – a mini of the Spa of the World Adriatic Peony body wash. I haven’t tried this before – it’s quite floral, a bit like the jasmin one. It’s probably not one that I’d pick up, but I like these little shower gels and am always happy to try out a new line.

Glossybox – the MUA Cosmic Vixen palette with 15 eye shadows. I won’t be reviewing this as it’s the next product to go in the giveaway box – use the form below if you want to enter the Blogmas giveaway.

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.

Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!

Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
  4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
  5. Real Techniques expert face brush
  6. MUA Cosmic Vixen palette with 15 eye shadows.

Products 7-10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

     
 

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
  2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
  4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This post may contain affiliate links.

Blogmas 2018 – my first Braille chocolate advent calendar

Regular readers of this blog will know that I care about accessibility and accessible products.

In terms of advent calendars, when I was a child, my Nan always helped to prepare them. We typed the number in Braille onto clear sticky-back plastic, cut them out, and my Nan stuck them on the right doors.

Now Sean helps with the beauty calendars – I type out the labels and he sticks them on the appropriate box so that I can locate and open it myself.

However, for the first time this year, I got a chocolate advent calendar that was ready to go! No adaptations needed. I just wait for the right day, locate the number in Braille that is already printed on the door, and open it to get the day’s chocolate.

Just a simple thing that kids (and adults) all over the country take for granted, but up until now, this hasn’t been possible.

Braille chocolate advent calendars are nothing new in Germany – I know they’ve been around for a few years – but so far I haven’t seen one in the UK.

That’s why I was happy when one of my friends offered to send me one.

I know it’s a bit late to share this now – tomorrow we are opening day 12, but I firstly wanted to give a shout out to the company that is making them, and secondly wanted to let other people know for next year – whether that’s parents of blind children, or Braille-reading adults who want an accessible chocolate calendar.

The doors are arranged in 8 rows with 3 doors in each row. There are differences between German and English Braille, but the numbers are the same and there is no other writing on the calendar, so there would be no problems with confusing younger or new Braille readers.

This page about the advent calendar is in German, but there is also an email address where you can order it, and the company accepts Paypal. I’m not sure how much it would cost to get one sent from Germany to the UK if you order it directly, but it’s not a heavy calendar, so it shouldn’t be much.

It’s a simple thing really, but it made me happy to get a chocolate calendar that I can just enjoy and read without having to do any extra work that sighted friends wouldn’t have to do!

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.

Body Shop – a shine liquid lip gloss. I haven’t tried any of these before, and although I don’t often wear lip gloss, it’s always good to have a change sometimes!

Glossybox – I can’t actually find the link for this, but it’s the Bellapierre kissproof lip finish – a clear lip topper to give a glossy finish to liquid lipsticks. The only lipstick I tried from this brand nearly clamped my lips shut because it was so sticky, so I can see why they came out with a product like this. I don’t have the other lipstick any more, but would use this topper on other liquid lips if I think they feel as though they would dry out my lips.

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.

Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!

Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
  4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
  5. Real Techniques expert face brush

Products 6-10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

     
 

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
  2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
  4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This post may contain affiliate links.

Blogmas 2018 – 7 ways to keep warm this Winter

When I get cold, I get grumpy! Not the same level of grumpy as when I haven’t had enough coffee – because that’s really bad – but I don’t do well when I’m cold!

One solution is to turn the heating up, but that doesn’t always work when you’re going out in the cold, and in any event it’s nice to snuggle up under something warm on an evening in.

So what else can you do to stay warm? Here are seven low-cost ideas:

1. Baths

I love baths. They make me slow down, stop doing things, and take some time out to relax and de-stress. I know some people get bored in the bath, but this is never a problem that I’ve had. It’s time for me to have only positive sensory input – no noise –just a warm place to spend some time and unwind.

There are so many amazing products to help with this – from bath soaks to bubble bars and oils or shower gels that nourish your skin while you soak.

Baths are also good for getting warm too – as long as you don’t set the temperature too hot, or your skin won’t thank you for it!

2. Wrapping up warm

I can’t have wool next to my skin, which means a lot of woolly jumpers, hats, and things like that are out for me. All I’d be able to think of is the how annoying it is to feel the wool against me and I’d never get anything else done! But there are loads of other options such as fleecy things, or synthetic materials that don’t feel the same as wool.

I found some gloves at a Christmas market a couple of weeks ago that are very warm, but have two holes – one for the thumb, and one for all the fingers. They’re then cut off where the fingers start – which is good for anyone who still wants to use their hands.

Even cotton scarves can be warm – sometimes just having something round your neck is enough. I have thicker woolly ones, velvet ones, one with Labrador puppies, and one that came as a gift a couple of years ago with an owl hanging from it. Most people think it’s a necklace, but it keeps me warm as well.

3. Snuggling under a blanket

Blankets don’t have to be wool either – you can get some really soft ones either to suit your colour scheme, or with a picture of something that you like. S bought us some warm blankets with wolves on last year – one for our bed and a smaller one for the sofa in my office.

4. Wear a coat when it’s cold

I don’t want to judge, but on Saturday there were people at the Christmas market in the cold and pouring rain with no coats on. People going out to Christmas parties, not wanting to put a coat on because it would ruin the outfit. You don’t have to keep it on all night, but at least give yourself the option of wearing one!

5. Keep the cold out

See if you have any places at home where the cold is getting in. Windows, keyholes, external doors. If you can illuminate the draughts, the house will feel warmer.

In a previous job, my desk was directly under the air con unit and the cold air always came straight down to where I was sitting. It was so uncomfortable until I persuaded someone to come and deal with it!

6. Keep moving

I have a job that involves sitting at a desk all day, but I try and build in some exercise too, because apart from the obvious health benefits, working out also gets your blood circulation going and helps you to feel warmer.

7. Hot chocolate

If it’s cold outside, it’s good to indulge now and again in a steaming mug of hot chocolate. I’ve been buying chocolate orange or chocolate mint recently, but there are so many varieties available now. And those little chocolate sets with a mug and chocolate also make a nice little gift.

Do you have any more tips to add?

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.

Body Shop – two products today, both from the Fuji green tea range. We have the purifying shampoo and the hydrating conditioner. I don’t think I’ve tried these, because I usually go for the banana or strawberry haircare products, so I look forward to trying these out.

Glossybox – a deluxe sample of the BareMinerals skinlongevity vital power infusion serum. I didn’t know this brand also did skincare – I thought it was just mineral make-up. We won’t dwell on the fact that the first time I heard of this brand I was looking for Bear Minerals! I used this serum in my skincare routine this morning and liked it. It promises to empower, renew, replenish and fortify, so let’s see!

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.

Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!

Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.

The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
  4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
  5. Real Techniques expert face brush

Products 6-10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

     
 

Terms and conditions

  1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
  2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
  3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
  4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
  5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This post may contain affiliate links.

Blogmas 2018 – non-traditional Christmas desserts

I work with a lot of customers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. As Christmas time gets closer, they sometimes ask me about our English Christmas desserts, and then it’s quite hard for me to be objective because I don’t like most of them!
I’ve had a couple of mince pies this year, but when it comes to Christmas pudding and Christmas cake, I usually pass. I don’t like them.
If you’ve got people around your table who do like them, I think it’s only fair to accommodate them, but what do you do for everyone else?
Sometimes I just fill up on savoury things and don’t bother with dessert. I’ve had icecream or sorbet for Christmas dinner dessert before. Sometimes I skip that course and wait for cheese and biscuits later.
I’m not sure yet what we’re going to do this year, but last year I bought a chocolate orange log from Abel and Cole, an online service that delivers organic and often locally-produced fruit, vegetables, meat, baked goods, and other groceries straight to your door.
I knew chocolate orange cake would go down well with most of the people there, and I wanted to try it. My family used to buy chocolate logs in the past, and I loved the idea of getting chocolate cake instead of something fruity that I wasn’t going to enjoy!
This chocolate log is 750G, and it’s organic chocolate covering a rich chocolate sponge with a smooth ganache and orange curd inside.
The cake came packed in a cooler bag that was insulated with lambs’ wool to keep the contents cold. The bags can then be collected the next time the driver comes to you so there is no waste.
I actually bought a cheese wheel from the Christmas market last year, but Abel and Cole also sells a cheese board gift set containing 3 cheeses, biscuits, chutney, and a cheese board.
When it comes to Christmas dessert, I’m more of a fan of breaking with tradition and serving/eating something I actually want to eat. What do you think about this? What will be on your Christmas dinner table for dessert? Let me know in the comments!

Advent calendar unboxing

Throughout Blogmas I’ll be unboxing my two advent calendars from Glossybox and the Body Shop and giving a brief product review.
Body Shop – this has to be the biggest box in the calendar! A 200ml tube of the almond milk and honey body lotion! I didn’t actually know this was available as a body lotion. I’ve tried the body butter and the body yoghurt in this range, but not the lotion. I love this when I want something really gentle, usually when I’ve had an allergic reaction and my skin feels a bit sensitive. This is a lovely, gentle product and it’s described as a soothing, restoring body lotion. Good size too, with almond milk from Spain and honey from Ethiopia!
Glossybox – a deluxe sample of the Charles Worthington body booster mousse. I can’t review this product as it’s not something that I use, but I know someone who will! It’s intended to give body, bounce and control to lifeless hair.

Unseen Beauty Blogmas Giveaway

Today you have another chance to enter my Unseen Beauty Blogmas giveaway. There will be a box with 10 prizes from the Glossybox and Body Shop advent calendars, and the prizes will be revealed throughout December. You can enter once on each Blogmas 2018 page, which means you have up to 24 chances of winning. You can enter at any time from when the page goes live to the end of December 2018.
Multiple entries on the same page will not be counted – I have a spreadsheet to log them!
Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know my readers and where they are based. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use inaccessible widgets on my site.
The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.
The form only goes to me.

What’s in the box?

1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
5. Real Techniques expert face brush
Products 6-10 coming soon!

Giveaway entry form

Terms and conditions

1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on 31st December 2018, and I’ll draw the winner on 2nd January 2019.
2. I will give each entry a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away.
4. I will email the winner on 2nd January to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.
5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

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