Peppermint Hot Chocolate

I’m a huge fan of hot chocolate so naturally when all the festive menus are released I am all for trying all the different hot chocolates that the coffee shops have to offer. Speaking of which have you tried the Costa Orange Hot Chocolate this year? It tastes amazing! However all these drinks can become quite expensive so I have decided to create my own luxury hot chocolate using peppermint sticks.

I used hemp milk as suggested by Lauren from Britton Loves as it gives the hot chocolate much more of a creamier taste and three heaped teaspoons of Cadbury’s Drinking Chocolate. I microwaved it for about 3 minutes because you are wanting it to be steaming hot. I added a capful of peppermint essence before squirting some cream on top or you could even go all out and whisk up your own. Finally, I added the peppermint stick and some dark chocolate shavings. Let me tell you now, this tasted delicious! It wasn’t too overpowering with the mint flavour and it just tasted like Christmas in a mug. Edd even liked it which says a lot as he doesn’t usually like mint flavoured things.

What’s your favourite flavour of hot chocolate? Please try this and let me know what you think!

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The Christmas Shopping Survival Guide

Since when was Christmas so difficult?! Don’t get me wrong, I love the festive season; markets in every city, hot chocolates at the ready with the fire burning and everyone seems to be walking round with such a happy face on all the time. However, with all this comes the Christmas shopping. I never know what to get anyone and I always want to give my friends and family presents that they aren’t really expecting. The ones out of the ordinary. I thought I would put together a few tips and tricks when it comes to Christmas and those dreaded shopping trips for presents.

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Organisation is key. Trust me on this one. Last year I didn’t right anything down and really struggled. I was out on Christmas Eve still buying presents for people and nearly everyone ended up with Original Source Shower Gel and Poundland Chocolate Coins in their gift bags. Not like there is anything wrong with that but I didn’t feel as though I had put enough effort in. This year, I have taken a different approach. I grabbed one of those small notebooks that I have stashed away and I have been writing down ideas since the end of August so I have some ideas of what people would like. Every time I buy something, I write down what it is and how much it is. This makes such a difference when working to a budget.

Loyalty cards will be your best friend. Whether it’s collecting points whilst doing your weekly shop at Sainsbury’s or signing up to receive a rewards card, guaranteed it will help. I have the Debenhams Reward Card which comes in handy if I am needing to buy any perfumes or high-end makeup brand products for my sister or aunt. The Boots/Superdrug is always handy as they tend to have double points offers. Most recently, I have been loving the O2 priorities app on my phone. Of course this is only exclusive to O2 customers but they have some really good deals on for The Body Shop weekly and saves you money on restaurants whilst you are doing your Christmas shopping.

Gratisfaction UK is another really good website to use. You can get samples of beauty and skincare products or free tickets to events. The website is updated daily so there’s always new things to save money on. The voucher codes feature is my favourite part of the website as it saves money when your shopping. Most recently, it has had an offer to save 20% on Marks and Spencer’s including clothing and beauty. There’s no need to sign up like with most other companies too. I have followed them on Twitter so I can stay up to date with the latest offers and freebies.

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Lastly, make it enjoyable. Plan your day (including where you are going to go for something to eat). I love being able to go and explore a different city when I go Christmas shopping especially if there is a market on at the time. I am usually equipped with comfortable shoes, a camera, my notebook and a pen, and Google maps in case I get lost or can’t find a particular shop. If you leave in plenty of time then you can really take your shopping trip steady and slow.

Do you have any Christmas shopping tips? How do you save money when buying Christmas presents? Let me know your tips and tricks.

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*This post was in collaboration with Gratisfaction UK.*

Periods 101

As you can tell from the title, this is slightly different to my normal post but in the hope to make everyone feel more comfortable around here I wanted to touch upon this subject a little. I’m talking periods or that time of the month. If you’re anything like me, I find it so awkward to talk about them with anyone including my sister! I also hate when they come around – it’s like a monthly dread that I wish we didn’t have to deal with but we do and that sucks. However, I’ve learnt a few tips over the years that have helped me and hopefully they could be of use to you as well. A bit like a period survival kit to help you get through that time of the month. So I’m going to share with you everything I know. From pampering yourself to caring for you and your body.

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So obviously the first thing I wanted to talk about was the essentials: pads and tampons. You are all probably rather familiar with what is out there in the market however there’s one brand which I will always go back too. Always is my go to brand! All their pads just do the job and work best for me however I have heard that Veeda is a lot better for the environment as they are made with 100% natural cotton and are chemical, synthetics and dye-free. I haven’t got round to trying them to give you my opinion but Lauren and Amie have done a post about them. I usually pick up the Ultra Long for during the day and Always Maxi Comfort & Protection for during the night. I just find them so comfortable to wear that sometimes I even forget that I am on my period at the time. The other good thing is that they are so easy to remove but they still give you the ultimate protection.

Kick Those Cramps Away – I don’t know about anyone else but when I was younger, there would be days that I would be laying in bed in so much pain because of the cramps however there are a few essentials that I turn to for help. The first is Nurofen specifically for period pains. They work so fast and are so easy to take. If you are the one who doesn’t like taking tablets then I would go for a hot water bottle or a microwavable teddy bear (similar). The one I have is a dog from Sainsbury’s and I use him religiously. Most of the time it is as bad as when I had appendicitis, no kidding!

The Food Essentials – Of course, chocolate is the first thing that I turn to around that time of the month. I have learnt that dark chocolate, such as Cadbury’s Bournville, will satisfy your craving, help relax your muscles and increase your happiness levels without being as fattening as other types of chocolate. Another option is ordering yourself a Graze Chocolate Box if you know exactly when your period is due. They have some delicious chocolatey treats in that are much healthier than a bar of chocolate and taste delicious. Dairy is something to stay away from as that can increase bloating and just make the whole week very uncomfortable. The next food I turn to second to chocolate is bananas. I get through nearly two family size packs of bananas as I use them to make milkshakes or ice cream. I eat them on their own. I add them to smoothies or my breakfast in the morning. They are known for helping you to avoid cramps or reduce bloating.

Other foods I have heard is good for you are: hummus as it can help you sleep better and put you in a better mood, spinach or kale as it can help with cramps but is also a great source of calcium and nuts. Don’t forget to drink enough water to keep you hydrated, keep away cramps and help with bloating.

Pamper Yourself – Pampering yourself is definitely a key aspect in maintaining your happiness levels. It helps me feel a lot more relaxed and a little bit more human. Warm baths are really soothing for my cramps and of course this means using bath bombs and bubble bars. My favourite is Honey Bee or Blackberry from Lush as I find the ingredients so comforting and relaxing. Another skincare essential is Mask of Magnaminty. I don’t about any else but my skin ends up oily and breaking out before, during and after my period so I’ve found this to be the best kind of mask which is on the market. It’s so cooling due to  peppermint oil and overall it reduces the breakout of my skin. The other beauty essentials that I use are Superdrug’s Feminine Body Wash and Feminine Deodorant. Not only are they cruelty free and suitable for vegans but they leave me feeling clean, fresh and ready to start the day.

Do you have any period essentials that get you through that time of the month? Let me know whether you use any of these.

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