Blogmas day 20 – 10 December favourites!

So, as I usually do my monthly favourites at this time of the month, I thought I’d share December’s as part of Blogmas.

1. Firstly I’d like to mention my phone. It’s a joint birthday and Christmas present from S and it means that I now have a main phone and a really old one that I can use for video calls at work. I didn’t want the newest model or anything, but I did need a faster one and one with more space for all my books and music, so I’ve really been appreciating my phone since I got it in September.

2. I don’t have an office secret Santa because I work for myself, so I bought myself a silly present today. I wasn’t actually looking for this, but when I saw it, it kind of sums me up – love owls, hate mornings and stupid behaviour so maybe I do have irritable owl syndrome as it says on this mug! I got it for myself anyway!

3. The next thing is something I got for Giving Tuesday and I was alerted to it from the lovely Kerry from Kerry Life and Loves – go check her out if you haven’t already! She said in one of her posts that Radley was doing a collaboration with the Dogs Trust and they’d brought out a range of backpacks and coin purses with the usual Radley dog, plus a range of other dogs based on real dogs at the Dogs Trust. It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I got the retriever purse! It’s out of stock at the moment, but you can sign up to be notified when new stock comes in.

4. I was happy with my Red Carpet lipstick from Elf, so I got 2 more – Wine Tour and Touch of Berry. One is moisturising and one is satin – I don’t like lipsticks that really dry out your lips, so always look for ones that moisturise. These are a good price too, even with the shipping.

5. Blogmas! It’s been fun, although I struggled most at weekends and on days off where I try to spend as little time online as possible! I’m wondering whether I joined the party too late – so many people are doing Blogmas this year that I’m way behind with all the content that I wanted to read. I wonder if other people feel the same? I wonder if Bloguary or Blogpril would be better in terms of getting more people to see the content? I don’t know, but I have enjoyed taking part, coming up with Christmassy ideas, and of course reading the content that my blogging friends have been putting out.

6. Clinique make-up. I was kindly sent some money for Christmas from someone who is probably reading this, so thanks again! I’d heard really good things about the Clinique chubby sticks, so I got the sculpting highlight and the cream contour. Anyone who has been following my blog for a while will know about my love for cream rather than powder products, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed with these. Yes, you have to blend them well, and yes, this is a pain if you can’t see what you’re doing – but it’s much less of a pain than dealing with fall-out from powder if you can’t see it’s there, so this type of product has meant that I can do a lot more with my make-up than I did before. I’ve tried Clinique skincare before, but not the make-up, and I think it’s really good quality.

7. If you get the Latest in Beauty subscription box, they usually put in a couple of little free samples. Today was truffles and I very much approve of those, but what I wanted to tell you about was a little sample of the Lavera night cream. I liked it so much that I got the full-size one. Firstly it was the smell, which I loved, but I was also pleased to have found an organic cream that also left my skin feeling wonderful and soft.

8. Hot chocolate. Just because it’s winter and you can’t go wrong with a big mug of hot chocolate when it’s cold and you’re snuggled up in the warm. We like the Whispa one or Options orange sachets.

9. I’d never heard of Shay and Blue before, but I really liked their blood orange perfume that came in the M&S calendar. I would like to try out more citrus scents from this range in the new year – once I’ve used up some of the wonderful things from the calendars!

10. Time off! I love it! I spend so long in front of my laptop that a couple of days offline this week have done me the world of good! I’d definitely recommend it!

So, what things have you been enjoying this month?

The calendars

IN L’Occitane there was a shimmering cherry lotion – something I haven’t tried before, so I’m looking forward to that. I love a cherry scent!

In M&S there was a Pixie lip gloss. The only thing I’ve tried from Pixie is their glow tonic, so it’s good to have a look at one of their lip products too.

How about you?

Christmas tree in Stockholm

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Chocolate tasting – German and Swedish chocolate

Hello to all the chocolate lovers out there!

One of the things we do when we visit new countries is a chocolate test! We look for a few different types of chocolate from that country, buy it, and chomp our way through it! All in the name of cultural research! Good idea, right?

Today’s post is about chocolate from Sweden and Germany.

Swedish chocolate

We tested three types of Swedish chocolate. My favourite is the Marabou apelsin krokant milk chocolate bar, which is a delicious chocolate orange bar with crispy bits! If you like Terry’s chocolate oranges, you will like this bar too! It’s got a distinct orange flavour and the crunchy bits just add to the texture! Yum! We buy one every time we go to Sweden now!

The other Marabou product is the Marabou mint krokant milk chocolate bar which is basically a crunchy mint bar! The crunchy pieces in this bar are not as soft as the orange ones – they’re more like tiny bits of butterscotch or something like that, so they don’t melt in your mouth straight away. I do like this one too, but it also has tiny bits of nut in it, and I think the mint would be better without them.

I couldn’t find the third one online, but it’s the Plopp bar! Ok, I admit it, I bought it because of the name, which is at first a bit amusing for English speakers, but I wasn’t disappointed with the milk chocolate and soft caramel centre! These are slightly smaller than the other two, and also very moreish!

German chocolate

In terms of German chocolate, it wasn’t as much about trying out new things, but sending my partner off with a list of things to bring back when he went on a business trip there! I haven’t been to Germany for a while, but I used to go regularly, and I always left a bit of room in my suitcase for chocolate – specifically coffee and strawberry chocolate!

I don’t know what it is about the English chocolate market, but we are not very adventurous when it comes to chocolate with coffee or fruity fillings.

If you go to Germany, or a German shop here in the UK, you don’t have this problem, because Ritter produces both coffee and strawberry chocolate.

My favourite is the Ritter Sport Espresso (5 bars). It’s quite strong, and ideal for coffee lovers. I find in the UK, there are only really weak, creamy alternatives with a hint of coffee flavour, but this is not like that, which is why I like it.

There is also a strawberry one – the Ritter Sport strawberry yoghurt chocolate bar (5 bars). This has a creamy yoghurt centre with strawberry in the centre of each square and is a treat for anyone who likes to mix chocolate and fruit as I do!

My other strawberry favourites are the Ferrero Yogurette bars, which are individually wrapped, thin, finger bars of chocolate with a smooth strawberry yoghurt filling inside. This is different to the Ritter one, because that has tiny strawberry bits in it. I remember several years ago that there was also a special mango edition of these, but I haven’t seen them since.

When I went on my school exchange to Germany, I collected a selection of the Yogurette bars and bottles of sparkling mineral water. My host family was concerned that I was hungry and thirsty, but the real problem was that some of the English students didn’t like these things, so I rescued them before they got thrown away! Because you can’t throw Yogurette away!!! That’s just wrong!

What do you think?

Have you tried any of these bars? What do you think of them?

If you’re Swedish or German, are there other things that you think I should try?

Or maybe you’re from another country – I’m always looking for chocolate recommendations, so let me know your suggestions in the comments!

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January empties

The products that I used up in January, what I thought of them, and whether I would buy them again.

Today I’m going to talk about the products that I used up in January. There seem to be a lot of skincare and bath products – this is partly because I’m making an effort to use up things that have been opened, and partly because I have quite a lot of minis from the advent calendar.

Skincare

First of all, I’ve used up a number of hand creams. I get dry hands and I like to have a hand cream on my desk, in my bag etc, so I usually have a number of them on the go.

I’m not a big fan of strawberry products because they’re often quite sweet, but I liked this Baylis and Harding strawberry and pomegranate hand cream 75 ml because it moisturised well, wasn’t oily and had a nice scent. It was a decent size to put in the little piggy basket on my desk.

I had to think about the next one – would I actually recommend it? It’s the Patisserie de Bain lemon hand cream 50 ml. This company produces products with wonderful scents, and anyone who likes citrus will probably like this. I love the way my hands feel after using this product – they stay soft for a long time, longer than when I use some more expensive products. However, when you’re applying the hand cream, the hands do feel a bit sticky and I don’t like this very much. If you can put up with it for a couple of minutes, you’ll be ok. Once the product has been absorbed, your hands don’t stay sticky. But if the initial stickiness would put you off, this is probably not the right product for you!

The next thing is the spiced apple hand cream from the Body Shop. This was part of the Christmas 2016 range, so you can’t get it any more, but if it comes back next year, I’ll be buying some more! I only wish the Body Shop would do hand creams that are bigger than 30 ml. 30 ml is fine for your handbag, but for your desk or bedroom, it’s good to have a bit more. I also used up the spiced apple body butter that was part of a Christmas set in the apple tin pictured on this post. They both smelled amazing and I don’t think you can go wrong with the Body Shop body butters!

Next up is something I wouldn’t buy again – the Nivea essential light moisturising cream for normal to combination skin. I’m not even sure how I came to have this product and I wouldn’t get the best out of it because I don’t have normal to combination skin. That’s probably why it  didn’t do a great job at giving me the moisture I needed. But even if I got one for dry skin, I think there are better moisturisers on the market than this one.

Now to something I did enjoy, and at the same time, a big shout out to the lovely lady at the Clarins counter! This was a tester, so I didn’t use it on my face over a long period of time, but I really liked the Clarins multi active night cream. I got the one for dry skin and it applied well, leaving my skin feeling smooth and moisturised the next day. This is expensive, and I know cheaper products that I believe would do just as well, so I would see this as more of a special treat or something to tell Santa about than something I would get for every day use. Though if you’re looking for a high-end moisturiser, I’d definitely say “give it a go!”

Next is something I thought was really grim! I’m the kind of girl who uses something up, even if it isn’t my favourite, or I pass it along if it doesn’t suit me. But I couldn’t pass on something which I thought tasted awful, so I just had to bin it.At first I was really happy to have found a chocolate and cherry lip balm, but I can’t have this stuff on my lips. It tastes strange and it’s not smooth. So the Palmers chocolate and cherry tinted lip balm had to go!

Bath and shower products

Firstly something that was so good that I had to repurchase – Avon chocolate orange bubble bath! This made my whole house smell wonderful. Ok, if you don’t like strong scents, this isn’t for you, but if you love the mixture of chocolate and orange as much as I do and want to smell like you’ve been bathing in a tub of Terry’s chocolate oranges, this is the bubble bath for you! There was a decent amount of bubbles too.

On a similar note, I also tried out the Faith in Nature chocolate bubble bath and shower gel – after all, who doesn’t want to soak away the stress of the day in chocolate? However I was a bit disappointed with it – mainly because it smelled delicious when you poured in the bubbles, but the smell didn’t last. So if you want lots of bubbles, it’s ok, but I wanted the chocolatey goodness all the way through bathtime, and that just didn’t happen in the same way as with the chocolate orange. I’m also a little bit suspicious of two-in-ones such as cleanser + toner, shampoo + conditioner or body wash + bubble bath. Maybe that’s just me, but I’d rather have something that does one thing well, than something that does several things to an ok standard.

The next thing I got through was an enormous satsuma shower gel (750 ml) from the Body Shop. I already have another one of these, so that tells you what I think about them!

One of the Body Shop advent calendar surprises was the Polynesian Island Tiare shower gel, which I wouldn’t repurchase because I’m more of a fruity than a floral girl when it comes to bath products and skin care. It did the job well enough though, I just wasn’t that keen on the scent.

We also used up some products from the Baylis and Harding sweet mandarin and grapefruit range. Firstly there was the bubble bath – I got it as part of a gift set and you don’t seem to be able to buy it separately. Secondly we used up the hand wash in the same range, something that I will definitely buy again.

I was sad to see the end of my Victoria’s Secret mango temptation body wash, which I got for Christmas. A must-have for anyone who likes mangos!

Hair products

I’ve been using the same shampoo and conditioner for years now and, although I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the product, I am going to try out some different ones. So I won’t be repurchasing the John Frieda sheer blonde go blonder conditioner, but it served me well!

Food and drink

I munched my way through some delicious milk, dark and white chocolate espresso beans which my boyfriend picked up as a surprise for me on a visit to Whittards. Chocolate and coffee are two of my favourite things, and I think they are flavours that go well together.

What do you think?

So, have you tried any of these products? If so, what did you think of them?

If you’re interested in any of the body shop products, I’ve included the links to the shop online, but at the end of the month I’m going to have a virtual Body Shop party for UK readers. More information will be coming soon, so remember to sign up if you want to know how to take part. Also, in March I’m going to be looking at skincare and products for the hands. Do you have any recommendations of things that I should try?

Remember that you can see lists of all the products that I’ve reviewed on the featured products pages.

This post does contain affiliate links, but I only link to things that I own or have tried.

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