Toasty warm drinks!

I don’t know about you all, but I’ve been so put off any type of dairy (even lactose free, as I am lactose intolerant)! I read an article a few weeks ago about dairy and someone wrote that pus is in dairy and quite honestly, true or not it just makes me feel sick every time I think about milk now. I have been veggie my entire life and don’t often opt for dairy as it makes me quite unwell, but over the years lactose-free substitutes have become readily available and made life a little easier. Alongside this there is (at the moment anyway) a huge interest in being vegan, which for me is fantastic! I walk into a supermarket and am met with about ten different types of milks (or mylk) made from all sorts of weird and wonderful items, (I mean cow boob milk is gross the more I think about it).

Anyway, this blog isn’t about my dilemma with dairy, it’s about warm drinks and the fact I have been drinking as many as possible these last few wintry weeks. One of my favourite since Christmas has been mulled (hot) apple juice. As much as I love a warm tipple now and again, I do prefer my drinks alcohol free for the most and this is just heavenly after a long day at work.

Think Cinnamon, cloves, oranges and mixed spice

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Warm Mulling Syrup

My wonderful friend Emma made me a few different yummy treats as a gift. Mulling Syrup being one of them. I like to drink mine with apple juice from Innocent

I found a wonderful recipe on BBC good foods which you can find below:

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  • 250g caster or granulated sugar
  • 2 oranges halved
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 6 whole allspice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ¼ nutmeg freshly grated
  • small piece ginger sliced

Mix all in a pan with 1 litre of water and voila! I love to then use it with apple juice instead of wine, but I am told wine is equally as good!

Bubbly chocolate in a cosy little mug 

There is nothing I love more than hot chocolate. Everyone thinks you need to have it with warm milk, but I think its much tastier with coconut milk, soya or even just plain hot water.

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Deliciously Ella 

Another thing you need to watch out for if you want a vegan hot chocolate is the powder (if you use instant). Make sure it doesn’t have lactose / dairy or whey in it and you’ll be good to go. One of the best ones I use is goody coco from Lidl. If you want something a bit more up market that doesn’t contain refined sugars and rubbish is to use raw cacao date syrup and cinnamon.

However, for me I most recently discovered sweet free from choc shot which is full of goodness and yummy, but it does taste a little different from normal hot chocolate which I think is a good thing in many ways. It takes the edge off the sugar cravings so if you’re going refined sugar-free then even better! I also think it’s a fab thing for weight loss as its very low in calories coming in at under 15 calories a tsp!choc

I do love my warm drinks if you hadn’t guessed already and I think they are one of the best ways to beat any situation good or bad. If I am feeling down to sad a hot up of tea, mulled apple juice or hot coco. I remember when I was younger and used to get upset or sad the one thing that I could always make myself feel with was probably tea. So next on the list is the magical and famous tea!

There are so many types of tea, some people argue that there is really only one true type which is English Breakfast / Assam or the type you have with milk. For me there are quite literally hundreds of types. Enough for me to start an entire blog on (or Tea-sta-gram page?)! When I worked for Danone Waters I made friends with a great guy who ended up going to work for Tetley. Thanks to him I have lots of types of tea in my cupboard that I got to try before they went out on sale in shops! It really does pay to be a tea lover and know someone in the tea business.

Tea cures everything, good bad or happy

For this very reason, I have decided to end my blog with a selection of mearlgreyy favourite teas starting with earl grey!

Earl grey is a normal black tea with bergamot orange and citrus fruits mixed in together with a little lemon and grapefruit thrown in. It is floral and delicate which makes it a perfect tea for people who don’t like the strong darkness of a builders tea.  It’s a mixture to me of both herbal tea and normal tea. You can drink it with milk, lemon, straight or if you’re a bit odd cold.

Next on my list is the standard chamomile tea. My mum had an enormous bag of this chamomileteain the tea cupboard at my parents house and she gave me a pot full. I love it. All you need to do is sprinkle a few buds into a cup add hot water and drink. It’s a relaxing tea that is full of goodness. It is an anti-inflammatory for the skin, soften lady pains and induce sleep. A few things I am sure you can relate too!

 

Another favourite of mine is Blackcurrant and Vanilla. You can get these from Lidl. 5201350_31They are super posh, so don’t be fooled by the whole ‘Lidl’ thing. They are so yummy and taste great.

Another type of tea you can try is mixed fruits, Tetley do a huge range of teas which are fantastic. Some are full of vitamin C and for colds and flu, others are fruity and just for flavour so I would recommend going over to their website and checking them out!

 

However, don’t feel like spending lots of money of these teas, as they can get pricey. If you have time and want to know exactly what you’re drinking then you can make your own teas with dried flowers, fruits and all sorts! It’s very easy, you can air dry them over time or on a low heat in the oven if you don’t have a dehydration machine!

Continue reading “Toasty warm drinks!”

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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!

Home comforts

Cosy home comforts for most of us are more or less the same.

  • Hot drinks in pretty mugs
  • Blankets and pillows
  • Warm fires
  • Cookies
  • Warm muffins
  • Wine
  • Pet snuggles
  • Friends and family …

The list goes on and on! So for this cold weekend in November, be you in England at home, Norway sledding or Canada reading a book here’s my favourite blueberry muffin recipe for everyone to try!

You will need need the following ingredients and utensils…

Utensils:

  1. Mixer OR strong arm and wooden spoon
  2. 1 mixing bowl
  3. 2 other spare bowls (can’t have enough)
  4. 1 sieve
  5. Muffin cases
  6. Muffin baking tray
  7. Scales
  8. Wire rack
  9. Spoon or three (I like soup spoons for this)
  10. Apron
  11. Oven / dragon

Ingredients:

  1. 110g butter / vegan butter
  2. 250g plain flour
  3. 250g golden caster sugar
  4. 2 eggs / vegan ‘no-egg’
  5. Splash of milk / vegan alternative
  6. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  7. Half a vanilla pod
  8. A pinch of teaspoon salt
  9. 200g + fresh blueberries (more the yummier)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180ish degrees / gas mark 4. Set out the muffin cases in the muffin tray and put on the side.

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the golden caster sugar, a dash of salt and mix it all together.

Eat a blueberry (vital)

Then mix together the butter / milk and vanilla pod extract until smooth.

Eat another blueberry

Pour both bowls into one and add in the remaining blueberries!

Mix all up together gently so as not to mush the blueberries.

Get yourself two spoons and scoop up a big dollop of mixture and then use the other to push it into the muffin case. I’d suggest filling them around half full and make sure there are an even number of blueberries distributed throughout.

After you’ve done this and licked any remaining ingredients off the spoon, give the bowl to a child or dog to lick of you feel generous, or like Jon and I, sit down and lick the bowl whilst the muffins cook.

Bake them for around 15/20 minutes or so. Set a timer to check them after 15 minutes as some ovens vary. My mums for example is a big range and can take minutes, it’s literally a dragon!

When they’re done you’ll know as they’ll start to crack on the tops and go a beautiful golden brown.

Leave them to cool on a wire rack, or like me an upside down pizza tray, as I left my wire rack at my friends house!

It’s vital you leave them to cool, you may end up with blueberry burns if not and trust me, that’s not something you want to be explaining to your friends at lunch the next day…

So whilst waiting for them to cool, tidy up, pop on the kettle and get ready to cosy up under a blanket and eat some scrumptious muffins!

Feeling all ‘koselige and hygge’

It’s become a huge thing in England to reach out to our Scandinavian friends and steal a little of their lifestyle and make our homes that little bit more cosy and who can blame us! Hygge isn’t a word that translates into English well, but I think it’s a great word relatable to England, a healthy good for the soul word and one we should embrace this Christmas!

Hygge: The art of creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.

The last two weeks I’ve had my Scandinavian friends visiting and it’s just reminded me how much I love those cosy evenings at home, hot chocolate and blankets, hot water bottles and lots of fresh muffins readily available! Our snowy cinnamon scented friends across the water really have it sussed and make the most of their dark winters by bringing the sunshine indoors and creating a cosy little space for friends and family to soak up!

A few weeks ago I bought myself a book on ‘Hygge’ which is ironic as I had been a bit uppity about them before. How can a book really help you make your house more cosy? I’ve been to Scandinavia countless times and each time I have come away with new ideas, a warm heart, (candles) and recipes to try at home. I love visiting my friends in their home countries, so much I decided to create a koselige and hygge atmosphere in my own home.

To get us into the spirt of autumn and more importantly, Christmas, I have decided to share with you all over the next week some of my own hygge tips and tricks inspired by my extended Scandinavian family. This will include: the most wonderful blueberry muffin recipe, the best candles and where to find them, crafts you can do at home, and how to hygge your house on a budget. I am also very happy to take any suggestions, so if you want to know more about ‘dressing hygge’ or other recipes to try (such as my apple bread), just leave me a comment and I will see what I can do.

To keep up-to-date with me, follow me on Instagram where you will find lots of photos and advice on leading a happy and fulfilling life.

have a wonderful day and I look forward to welcoming you back here soon.

Love Lucy X