Winter chocolate

It’s a thing, winter chocolate is most definitely a thing. We have hot chocolate, advent calendars, Lindt Christmas decorations and teddies not to mention warm melting lava cakes (curtesy of Kaja)!

When I was in France last week I had so much hot soya chocolate (and normal milky chocolate as apparently dairy-free isn’t a well-known thing out there?) I could burst! I am so in love with hot chocolate or as the French say, chocolat chaud.

Since maturing into a fine young lady and moving away from my girly hot chocolate days of whipped cream and sprinkles, I moved over to chai latte, which in itself is a little cup of cinnamon happiness. I can’t quite explain what made me have a hot chocolate almost every day in France but I’ve got the bug now and even bought myself some chocolate powder to make it at home.

As a lactose free (which means dairy free for the most) individual due to lactose intolerance, I don’t get to eat as much chocolate, dessert or tuck into hot drinks as often as I’d like too, so I’ve come up with alternatives to help me manage which you can read about below!

This is the most adorable of hot chocolate designs I was presented with in France! Look at his little face!

So you ask, what do I do to manage my choco cravings and how do I cope? Well, for the most part I just have alternatives. I drink lactose free milk, try to have more coconut milk, soya and juices when I can, but find the transition to vegan more difficult than I anticipated.

When it comes to treats I have dark chocolate a lot and found I didn’t mind the change much as I was feeling better due in myself as well. There are so many types of vegan chocolates out there that you wouldn’t even know were vegan and taste just as yummy!

For Christmas Jon’s Mum got me some adorable dark chocolate stars covered in raspberries from Cocoa Loco! These aren’t advertised as being dairy free, which I think is good, so in a way they’re accidentally dairy free. They were so yummy and the raspberries on them just added to the yumminess! They are a fair trade company too which makes it all that tastier in my opinion.

I also had a Mini Moo vegan chocolate Santa which meant I didn’t miss out on any festive treats!

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Candles will never be dull

I would bet that every single person who reads this post has candles in their home or has owned them at some point or another.

Candles used to be used for light, warmth and in some cases as signals and have been around for over 5,000 years. They were often made of tallow (animal fat) and beeswax. Nowadays most are made from paraffin (in lip balm / body butter) due to demand.

If I could choose something that’s been around for 5,000 years and I use regularly and hasn’t evolved much, it would be a candle. They’re exciting and we live in a time where we’re lucky enough to create scented ones, col so used ones of all shapes and sizes for very little money! You can even buy electric candles – that’s just how popular they still are.

Candles for gifts

I always think, you will never go wrong giving a candle as a gift. My elder brother for example loves candles with a wooden wick. They make a beautiful crackling sound and are so cosy and wintery it’s fantastic. I even have the best picture to support this from Wood Wick themselves who have clearly noticed the trend in men enjoying scented candles as much as us ladies.

There are quit literally thousands of candles available on the market, Yankee candles are for those of us who like full and strong scents. You have IKEA and Tiger for the basic scentless candles for dinner celebrations or for those who prefer their room smelling au naturel.

You can even propose to someone in a candle as you can buy candles with jewels inside! What clever clogs thought of that! I was so excited when I heard about these candles I immediately wanted one for myself!

Candles and moods

When I’m sick or down, find myself having just one of those days… I like to light candles and play music or read a book and instantly feel much better. They are so perfect for creating a relaxing and Hygge ambiance in most places and are something a lot of hipster restaurants adopt.

Candles are great for girls nights in, dates, ceremonies, spooky movie nights and all sorts! They’re fantastic mood setters and something I expect we will continue to years for centuries to come.

Pretty as a picture

Earlier this morning I saw a video on YouTube of candle-art . It’s really quite beautiful and something you should check out if you have a spare minute. It’s a way of sculpting candle wax basically and adding a wick to set alight!

The flames of the candle themselves are also beautiful and not something to be forgotten. I recall a few years ago my Mum buying me a candle that when you lit the wick it shone the most beautiful colours. When set alight, it shine in a different selection of rainbow colours which was quite spectacular! There is also a selection of candles you can buy similar which (I got for my brothers birthday a few years ago) you pop on top of a birthday cake and they shine rainbows!

A lot of people I know and follow on social media use candles to as previously mentioned, set the mood. They also do this for pictures and take some wonderful photos of candles and use them to give feeling and meaning. I would 100% recommend you having a look and also seeing what you could do with your candles this time of year!

New Year – top 10

Every year we end one to start another. All things come to a natural end and all things are born fresh and new from somewhere.

For most people, New Year is a time to start fresh and change attitudes, jobs, houses, start families, get pets or travel around the world even. For me it’s an amazing opportunity to tick another year off my list living a happy and fulfilling life surrounded by blankets and cups of tea, the little things we all take for granted.

Instead of looking back on areas in my life I should (and most probably won’t) improve on, I tend to look back on things I’m proud of and achieved. Life isn’t easy for any of us, even those of us with arguably better opportunities financially or physically, because everyone battles something and not one of us can truthfully claim to be perfect.

This year I’m proud to say I went another year being me, I’m true to myself, listen to my heart and most importantly have gained more experience and understanding about life and the world.

My top ten experiences from 2017

  1. 2017 was the first year I lived with a boyfriend and happily snuggled under blankets sipping tea in our own home.
  2. It was the first year I understood how important the body is and the impact foods and medicines can really have and that looking after our shells is vital.
  3. In 2017 I defended myself properly and didn’t take any foolishness from anyone! Something that yes is new to me.
  4. It was the first time I visited Eastern Europe, I adored parts of it and found the nature and scenery breathtaking, it also opened my eyes in some ways and made me realise how fortunate I am and my life has been.
  5. I tried my first deep fat fried mars bar. They’re actually incredible, don’t judge. It’s like a chunky chocolate crepe.
  6. My best friend from school had a baby and got married and asked me to be maid of honour – Also, I adore her her little boy George!
  7. I quit my city job because it was making me ill and started a career in Museums (weird huh?) also the best decision of the year as Jon got an incredible job at a museum also!
  8. Carina came to stay with me in England for the first time. Aurora and Kaja did also but it’s a traditional thing with them which makes it super special! The girls are all Norwegian and some of my best friends from University. It’s so wonderful when your friends come to stay and make the effort to do so, but when they fly across the globe to do so it makes a huge difference.
  9. I got used to sharing everything, a bed, sofa, bathroom and blankets. Jon even bought me a heated fleece blanket for Christmas, true love!
  10. My family are with me and I spent a great year visiting them all at home, theirs or having them visit me. One of the highlights was ice skating at Christmas!

As you can see, not all of my top ten are incredible and exciting, but to me they show growth and change in me as well as happiness and fun. I might not have included every detail (that’s what Instagram is for), but I certainly included a few key moments that mattered to me.

I’m really excited for 2018 and the year ahead to see what it might bring! What would your top ten of 2017 be and why?

Pets at Christmas

I am pretty sure our dogs, cats and small little pets don’t have the faintest idea what we are doing come December. We cover our house in lights, tinsel and all sorts of decorations not to mention adding a beautiful green (or pink perhaps) tree for our cats to jump on and burry themselves in.

Dogs Basil decorates himself

If you haven’t noticed from my previous blog posts already, I am completely festive crazy and I love any excuse for wrapping up presents, a good party or cooking a fancy dinner (also, give me a blanket and a cosy cup of hot chocolate, a movie and my best girlfriends and I’m good to go)!

Most years my dogs have to put up with my festive frivolities, I love to cover them in tinsel or LED lights and make them sparkle for however long it takes them to rip off the decorations and chew them up. My childhood German Shepherd Basil however, put up with my love of all things sparkly. As you can see in the picture above he would quite happily sit there and let me decorate him Capturewhereas Henry, our German Shepherd Puppy (the newest addition to the family) would prefer to take baubles off the tree and eat them (as caught in the photo to the left). 

When Christmas comes about at the house, my dogs take to helping themselves to all sorts. We currently have three beautiful dogs who have very stubborn and individual personalities.  Since getting Milly, who is my younger brothers dog almost three years ago now, we have moved the Christmas tree into the dining room at the front of our house opposed to the Living-Room, where the dogs are allowed freely! This prevents them all destroying the decorations and gives some breathing space to the room we use the most. It also means that the log burner in the Living-Room doesn’t droop the tree so its a win-win for us, not so much the dogs who think Christmas has quite literally come early and they have a big green bush to destroy!

Cats

I don’t own a cat myself, but I did grow up with a big fluffy black cat called Gladice! I’ve read lots of stories online and in papers about cats climbing Christmas trees, knocking them over and all sorts of funny things.My older brother and his wife have a cat, she’s the most I spend with a cat until I get my own and when it comes to Christmas trees she’s particularly dull. I know in the future Jon would quite like a cat (hoping we can get a dog first to be honest, so I can walk with purpose more). If we ever did get one, I’d probably be that person who takes a photo of my cat with an antler headband on or try to wrap it up if it sat on my paper!

Pet gifts

My parents have almost always given gifts to our pets for birthdays and Christmas, and why not! Our pets are part of the family and make us happy 365 days (unless they poop on the rug…) of the year, so why not treat them (and us) to extra toys, treats or a special day out walking somewhere!

I’ve noticed in upmarket food stores such as Whole Foods, they’re selling pet advent calendars, Christmas dinners and the cutest stockings for our pets. Little things like this are adorable and something I’m all for, but I’d much rather make my own Christmas foods for my pets as they’re cheaper and often much healthier!

Small pets

Last but not least….

There are so many types of pets people keep nowadays, more so than ever before and also different to ever before! I have a pet hamster called Walter, my best friend has a hamster also (who is almost the same age as Walter). I have other friends with guinea pigs, lizards, snakes, hedgehogs and even tortoises!

For us, Walter gets spoilt every day of the year (usually by Jon)! At Christmas he gets a little hamster cake which is homemade and always a hamster version of a roast dinner (raw vegetables and a slither of fruit)! I swear if I ate as well as my hamster ad ran in a wheel for half the night, I’d be my dream body shape.

Don’t forget, if you get a pet for Christmas it’s for life! Love and care for it constantly for the remainder of its life and if you can’t, I’m always here to help.

Have a woofing good Christmas,

love Lucy x

The Gift of Christmas Magic

It’s a well known fact amongst all who know me that I simply adore the festivities that Christmas brings! It’s the little things I love. The fun in finding gifts for loved ones, seeing the decorations go up all over the world, enjoying endless Christmas parties, dinners and snuggling up under great big blankets sipping hot chocolate watching Love Actually and other festive favourites.

It isn’t always easy for everyone this time of year, things can start to get pricy and there is always the worry that the gift you buy someone won’t be appreciated. I’ve come up with a sure-fire way to avoid those festive disappointments and make sure everyone finishes the holidays happy and fulfilled!

Everyone has different views and opinions on gifts but I think they are a brilliant way to show that we care and appreciate people and have spent time and energy thinking of something to give them to make them happy. I am not a huge fan of the ‘last minute’ gifts as it seems slap dash and can often lead to forgotten friends or stressed individuals as you can’t find what you had in mind for someone a month prior.

The best advice I can give you this time of year is to plan early and think about why you get someone a gift and what they me an to you. I am quite a sharp individual and would never send a card to someone or give a gift unless I genuinely like the person or am taking part in something fun and festive. It isn’t about how much you spend or how much someone else is spending on you but about thought and feeling. It doesn’t even matter if someone else doesn’t get you a gift because the gift to you is knowing you’ve made that person feel special and happy, even if only for a moment of receiving something.

Christmas gift ideas

My ultimate gift ideas are listed below! I like to really think about them and get something unique and memorable for that individual!

Gift boxesTwinings Decoration 5

This year my best friend and I decided to create gift boxes for each other from our countries, this is a great way to show you care and appreciate someone because you have to put in time and thought whilst also thinking about who they are as a person and what they might find funny or cute. I added the cutest gift to Carina’s box which was a tea bauble for her to remember England and hang on her tree. Now every year she can have a little something to decor-1005488_w1020h450c1cx320cy270ate her tree and remind her of the country she used to call home, and when I go to visit her over Christmas I plan to fill it up again with surprise gifts and get her to open them after I leave! Little things like this won’t set you back and often turn out to be a real crowd pleaser! You can pick these up for just under £10 in lots of retailers (check out Amazon for a huge selection)! You can also make your own hot chocolate ones like these cute little ones I found on Pinterest!

I am also making these for a few other people, but because Carina is the only one who has opened hers I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but my advice is think about the individual, hobbies and what would make their day!

Gifts from your place of work

This probably sounds like a boring idea for someone working at a bank or law firm but you can often find something for sale at this time of year to give to your family. For me, working in a Museum is a godsend this time of year as we are often gifted by our companies with extra discount in the shops, and as my Museum is the V&A – well! Expect something cultured and fun if you’re part of my Christmas list circle! For the rest of the world who don’t work in a Museum, you are still not at a loss as I have worked in corporate companies and always been able to find something fun even if its a freebie or entry to something they’d otherwise be unable to attend, you will find its very much appreciated.

Gifts online

This is a really easy way to buy personal gifts for everyone! A few sites I love to use are: EBay, Etsy and Amazon! This year I’ve used all three for gifts which are unique and fun. I hadn’t used Etsy before, but I have to say it’s so incredibly fun and full of handmade items and unique fancy things you’d never get anywhere else. They’re also full of varied prices too!

Home made

You can make some incredible home cooking gifts for people! Cookies, coconut ice, brownies and all sorts!

You can also pain glass, draw pictures and make felt animals if you’re good at those things. My partner and I have taken to the crafts and created some wonderful little things this year, one being a felted hamster we’ve put on our tree!

Secrets to a country Christmas

I have always loved the idea of Christmas, the decorating, cooking wonderful foods with my Mum and younger brother, covering my dogs in tinsel and getting glitter all over the house. For today’s blog you can find cosy recipes below for Christmas treats and a few ideas of crafting and things you can do over the holidays!

I10428414_740455142709438_5120091410953324010_n (1) am really excited about Christmas this year as it is my first ‘adult’ Christmas in my own house with Jon and Walter and we have already started making our own decorations, sorting out presents and just getting everything ready.

This year I have found myself even more in the spirit of things, most likely from having Scandinavian friends visit a few weeks ago as we talked about snow, cosy jumpers and snuggled under blankets and watched movies. It’s probably fair to say that all families have their own Christmas traditions and ideas of what makes the perfect holiday.

Because life can be stressful and full of hustle and bustle on a daily basis, it’s really nice that we all find a few days a year where we can have lots of fun and relax together, Christmas being one of them. I usually tend to plan Christmas gifts throughout the year and get things when I see them, but this year I’ve been so preoccupied with other things I haven’t managed to do this.

For Christmas this year I will be going back to the country and spending it with my family and Jon’s family which is always a real delight.

Christmas foods

Christmas CakeMini-Christmas-cakes

This is something I personally don’t like the taste of, but always try to make. When I lived back in the countryside I made mini ones and decorated them with icing flowers, wrapped them in cellophane and gave them away as gifts.

Coconut ice

coconut-ice-round-2-024Making this is so much fun and I’ve grown to really enjoy the taste of it over the years! It’s also super easy and a great way to add a treat to the Christmas nibbles throughout the day! It is also quite a festive thing for me, as my mum taught me to make this at Christmas as a child and it’s become an unwritten tradition for us.

Peppermint creams 0048d1a20d1df4e02dc5e09a0e0c6eec

I could sit eating these little sugary things all day, but they are made with icing sugar and peppermint oil (and not much else!) They’re simply divine, and perfect to give out with coffee after a large Christmas roast dinner.

Stained glass cookiesdaeaa02ddfc930f697b06e4a077286e9

These are really fun for kids to make and really yummy too! I’ve got a crown, butterfly and Christmas tree I like to decorate with these every year. They’re incredibly elegant and are something you can also create to hang on the Christmas tree. If you make a little hole in the dough before popping it in the oven you can tie a ribbon through it and watch it glisten on the tree as the colours dance about the room. Beware though, dogs and Lucys are fond of these and they wont last long!

Christmas Crafts

Felting 

oYou don’t have to be an expert to felt. A few years ago my Mum and a family friend and her daughter decided that we wanted to have a go at it! I had bought my Mum some felting kits from a trip I took away, she bought the special needles and the others provided refreshments and glittery things to add-on to our creations. We made some Christmas angels and I think they looked quite spectacular.

Decorations 

Newpinecone-b19-c5You can make Christmas decorations out of almost anything really. You can make them out of leaves, holly, pinecones and branches. A great way to glitz them up is to sprinkle them with glitter and spray them with silver or gold spray. I also like to make dough or clay decorations to hang on the tree or give away as gifts. These are very cheap and easy to make and I find make Christmas that little bit more unique.

 

Knitting 

basket-of-yarn-wilma-birdwellI have to confess, this isn’t something I am very patient with. I always give it a go at Christmas and almost always give up. My Mum and friend Kaja however are very good at this and often knit me beautiful things! I have the cutest head warmer from Kaja and some wonderful jumpers from my Mum. If it is something you are good at, I would suggest knitting some socks for friends and wrapping them with a ribbon. You can knit pretty much anything. Just don’t knit underwear or a swimsuit for someone they won’t appreciate that.

If you would like any recipes please just ask, I am always happy to share! Keep an eye out for some more cosy blogs from me and have a lovely weekend X

 

Homely hygge

Home is a very important word. It can mean a variation of things to different people at different times. It can be used to describe objects, places and people alike.

For me home is where I feel myself, relaxed and happy. Often somewhere I kick back in my pyjamas and drink tea!

I use it to describe where I grew up, where I had my bedroom, my parents and where my family live. But I also use it to describe my own flat with Jon our little home together.

With that in mind, I have found I bake a lot at home. I enjoy those little home comforts especially around winter, as I’m sure you do too!

The last few weeks I’ve baked: blueberry muffins, cookies, biscuits, cinnamon bread, bread and butter pudding along with roast dinners and soup!

I wanted to share my most recent bake with you to try at home. It’s very easy and a great way to use up the sandwich bread after a week of work.

Cinnamon bread and butter pudding

Ingredients and utensils you will need to make this along with the method:

Utensils:

  1. Deep stoneware (rectangular dish)
  2. Bowl
  3. Fork
  4. Knife
  5. Measuring jug
  6. Tbsp / tsp measures
  7. Oven / dragon

Ingredients:

  1. Butter / vegan spread (for the bread)
  2. 10 slices of bread preferably white
  3. 2 free range eggs or ‘no egg’
  4. 1tsp Cinnamon
  5. Half a tsp of Nutmeg
  6. 1 and a half cups of Milk / soy milk
  7. 3 tbsp of Golden caster sugar

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 6 / 180degrees.

The first thing I always do is butter up the bread. I like to make sure it’s buttered up to the sides and thinly spread as this is a very calorific dish, so I do my best not to add to it!

When that is done, cut the bread into triangles or leave it how it is and start to layer up the stoneware dish however you like!

After the first layer has been placed, (butter-side up) sprinkle a tsp of caster sugar and 1/4 cinnamon on it. Repeat this until complete (You can always add a sprinkle of raisins or fruit in here, but I like it plain)!

Next you need to mix the eggs and milk together. I tend to do this with a fork in a bowl. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg to the mix! When that is done pour it evenly across the bread making sure it is all soaked in. Don’t worry if you have some left over. You’ll notice once the bread absorbs it. You’ll have space to pour the rest on.

Finally sprinkle the remaining sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg on the top making it look all pretty and sparkle! Leave it to rest for 10 minutes.

Bake for 15/20 minutes or until golden. It will probably puff up. Don’t worry this is normal.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool before serving.