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)

This post may contain affiliate links.

Blogmas 2018 – cheese advent calendar

So, S had to pop out and get something for the workmen that were doing a job on our house, and he came back with lunch, plus a gift for me! Yes, it was another advent calendar, but a different one this time – one filled with cheese.

I’d love to link it, but it seems both Sainsburys and Asda have sold out!

The main point of writing this wasn’t to gloat about my wonderful cheese calendar that you can’t get any more, but to point out that if you can’t have/don’t like chocolate, or beauty calendars aren’t your thing, you don’t have to miss out on the whole advent calendar thing if you want to be involved. There are some with sweets in, some with cheese, and even a chilli one. I’ve only just seen that whilst doing some research for this post – I’ll have to remember that for S next year! There are also tea and coffee ones, ones with alcohol, and even ones for animals! I don’t suppose they understand, but they wouldn’t say no to a doggy-friendly treat!

In the cheese calendar there is a small round piece of cheese each day. I’ve been doing the continental breakfast thing and having the cheese with a roll or some crackers. Usually I just skip breakfast entirely, but it’s been interesting to try out some cheeses – from standard ones like cheddar and Edam, to more unusual ones like a festive cranberry one. I’ve also discovered I like Jarlsberg…I think there’s a ginger cheese in there too, which should be interesting, but I haven’t got to it yet.

How about you. Have you seen any food or drink advent calendars this year that are a bit unusual?

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 eye shadow brush that I won’t be reviewing, because it’s the next item in the giveaway!

Glossybox – a travel size shower gel in strawberry cupcake from Patisserie de Bain. I haven’t had the shower gel before, but I’ve had the hand cream in this scent. The brand is basically cake shop for the bathroom, so all of the products smell sweet like desserts. My favourites are lemon and cherry, but I like this strawberry one as well, and I’m always happy about fruity shower gels!

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!

Products 5-10 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 – gifts that keep giving

There are sooo many gift guides being written for Blogmas – I wanted to do something a bit different! So these gifts are things that don’t just show up at Christmas time. They’re subscriptions. So you can usually choose whether it’s for 3, 6 or 12 months, but the person gets a treat throughout the year, and not just in December. It’s something to look forward to, and also a chance to try out a new product or service more than once. So here are some ideas for you – either of things that I have tried myself, or things that I would like to try.

Food

This was actually my introduction to subscription services. My boyfriend got a gift subscription to The Spicery around 4 years ago and we decided to continue with it. In fact we still get the boxes through our door now! Each month you can choose between a series of recipes. You then get the recipe card with easy-to-follow instructions, along with all the spices and dry ingredients that you need, already measured out and blended for you. All you need to do is buy the other ingredients. This is a great gift for anyone who loves cooking and maybe wants to try some new dishes, or things they wouldn’t have attempted before. It’s also good because nothing goes to waste and you don’t end up with a huge pot of something you’ll never use again. S and I do like spicy food, but you don’t have to get really spicy options if that’s not your thing.

I haven’t tried this service out yet, but when scrolling around on the internet, I came across the Pong cheese subscription – a cheese club that you can customise and receive a new box of cheese each month. Are you listening Santa? That would be fun to receive!

Books

Two years ago S got me an Audible subscription as part of my Christmas present. This is especially good if you want to give someone books for Christmas, but you don’t know exactly what they like, or which books they have already read. After the subscription finished, we kept it up and now get new books to listen to together every month. You choose them on the Audible site, and can then download them on your phone or tablet.

If you’re interested, you can use my Audible free trial link (If you are based in Germany, use my German link.

Beauty boxes

Perhaps the best known of the subscription boxes, you can give the beauty lover in your life one of these so that they can try out some new skincare or make-up treats each month. There are so many on offer, but here are a few to choose from:

Glossybox – this is a box that I have been getting throughout 2018 and I’d recommend it if the person you’re buying for likes a mixture of make-up and skincare. My code KIRSTY-RGE entitles you to 20% off your first box – this may also give you a discount on gifts, so it’s worth a try if you are thinking of gifting a Glossybox subscription.

The Pip box – I haven’t tried this, but I’ve seen videos about it on YouTube – a box for the green beauty lover who is interested in cruelty-free and natural products. I thought this looked interesting and am considering looking into it next year.

Lookfantastic – this is also something I’d like to try next year – it’s similar to Glossybox, but does tend to focus more on skincare than make-up, which is more my thing, so I’d be interested to give it a go. I haven’t tried it before, but it does tend to get good reviews.

Flowers

If you’d like a longer-lasting floral gift for someone to brighten up their home, Bunches do a monthly gift subscription service. There are three categories to choose from, ranging in price, and you choose how many months the gift will last.

Coffee

Surprisingly I haven’t tried this yet, even though the first thing I do in the morning is to make my first cup of coffee! There is a Coffee club subscription where someone gets to try two new coffee brands from around the world each month. You choose whether they want ground coffee or coffee beans, and then the packets of coffee are sent to them. The link takes you to a 3-month subscription, but there are others. I’d love to try this as well!

How about you?

Have you been given, or have you given a subscription as a Christmas present? If so, let us know what it was 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 – a full-size black eye liner pencil. I can’t tell you what I think of this, because it’s going to be product 3 in the giveaway box! Use the form below if you would like to enter.

Glossybox – a lip primer from 3ina I’ve had a couple of cream eye products from this brand, pronounced Mena, but I haven’t tried anything from their lip range yet. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever used a lip primer! It was thinner than I had expected – the idea is that you use it like an eye primer, but for lips. So apply a thin coat before your lipstick. This isn’t something I would have gone out and bought, so it’s nice to have the chance to try 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

Products 4-10 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.

Cheese tasting in Amsterdam

Find out what we thought of the cheese tasting event in Amsterdam.

Last year, my boyfriend and I spent a weekend in Amsterdam.

The way it usually works is that I’m in charge of researching and planning things that we would both like to do, and he is in charge of navigating – finding where the places are on the map and working out how we will get there. I usually put together a list of ideas and we pick our favourites, which we then try to fit into our stay.

I looove cheese, and my boyfriend is quite fond of it too. So I was really pleased when I came across a cheese tasting session in Amsterdam. The Reypenaer family-run company has been producing cheese for over 100 years and where possible, it uses milk from cows fed on fresh grass, because apparently this gives milder and better milk. There was also some goats’ cheese on offer.

The cheese tasting took place in a room below the Reypenaer shop and as there was a mixed group of Dutch and English speakers, the presentation was in Dutch and English. I always find it fascinating when I go to Amsterdam because I can pick up odd words and phrases, as some words are similar to German. Still, this wasn’t enough to understand the presentation, so I was glad it was in English too!

We tried six different types of cheeses that had been ripened for different amounts of time, and later took the opportunity to buy some cheese in the shop.

My boyfriend kept the score sheet, and I took charge of the cheese guillotine, which is used for chopping slices off the cheese block for tasting. We could have done it the other way round, and I would have taken notes on my phone, but I thought the cheese chopper would be a good addition to our kitchen, so I wanted to try it out. In fact, we later bought a cheese guillotine too, because if you can’t see, it’s a handy way to line up the cheese and make sure you get a nice, straight, thin slice.

I didn’t know much about the production of cheese before and, as well as enjoying tasting different kinds of cheese, I enjoyed learning about the history and production of these tasty cheeses. It was also good to learn that these are natural products, with no artificial ingredients being used to speed up the ripening process.

The presenter was friendly and happy to answer questions. He walked around the various groups to answer any questions, and I am sure if a blind visitor had been on their own, it would have been no problem for him to also point out which cheese was next.

We chose a kind of fruit juice and then water, but various wines were available for those who wanted them to accompany the cheeses.

After the tour, we walked around the town for a bit, before making our way to the boats for our canal tour. Headsets were available so that you could listen to the presentation in a number of different languages. You just needed to select the appropriate language, then the audio tour ran along with the boat tour and you didn’t need to interact with it any more as you do with some tours, where numbers need to be selected etc.

If you are a cheese-lover too, this is definitely something worth adding to your list of things to do in Amsterdam! Also, I’d recommend that you try cumin and pesto cheese too because they are sooo good!

What do you think?

If we go back to Amsterdam again, are there any things that you would recommend for us to see or do?

What are your favourite cheeses?

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