Monday, 30 November 2015

Review: Christmas Tree World



I’ve been in Christmas mode for months now. I think you sort of have to be when you have small children. The weeks fly by and I didn’t want to have a last minute panic to get sorted in December. So, I’ve been slowly buying Christmas presents since earlier in the year. There is an amazing charity shop just near my house, and the women who work there are very good at discretely hiding Christmas presents so Ebony doesn’t see what I’m buying. I’ve collected a couple of dressing up outfits from there, as well as some games and other bits. I also made a couple of solo trips to London this year which meant I could stock up on little Christmas presents from Tiger.

Her Christmas outfit, Christmas Eve pyjamas and main present are neatly hidden away upstairs. We made Christmas cards last month, made a trip to Ikea for a vegan gingerbread house and have bought all the gifts for friends and family. I think this is the most organised I’ve ever been. I love decorating the house for Christmas though we won’t be doing that until closer to the day itself. We always get a real tree to go in the front room and spend the festive period pulling pine needles out of our socks.

We use our conservatory as our dining room so that’s where we’ll be eating our Christmas dinner this year. When Christmas Tree World asked if I might like an artificial tree to review, I thought that would be the perfect way to add a little bit of festive cheer to that room of the house. They have a great selection of trees, including lots of stylish fibre optic ones. I chose the Arbor Vitae Fir Tree because I wanted one that looked real. I’m definitely a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas. I chose the 6ft tree which is currently retailing at £89.99.

It arrived quickly and we set straight to work constructing it in the conservatory. It took about an hour and a half because each branch needs to be fanned out and separated. It’s not a rigid plastic branch like other trees, instead the branches are wire and can be tweaked and molded to your specifications. The instructions were easy to follow and it came in a tough box that will be great for storage during the rest of the year (though I've been informed I should really be using a tree storage bag to protect the tree whilst it's shoved in the loft).

The finished tree is pretty huge, it’s 6ft so has a big diameter at the bottom, much like a real tree. Once the tree was constructed, Ebony decorated it with some homemade decorations. All of our other decorations are in the loft at the moment, so we made some specially to go on the new tree. The tree is pretty big though so I think we’ll need to make a few more decorations to fill it before Christmas Day!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Review & Giveaway: Christmas Wall Sticker




When I was growing up, Christmas seemed to invade every corner of my parents’ house on that final weekend before Christmas. The decorations never went up early because my sister’s birthday is on the 14th and my parents always wanted the two events to be separate. But once the birthday celebrations were out of the way, it was time to get dressed up warm and head off to Bolton Abbey in search of the perfect tree.

We always chose the biggest one we could find, sometimes so tall the top branch was bent sideways by the living room ceiling. My dad would put the tree up and then me and my sister would haphazardly cover it with decorations. At the same time, my mum would be covering the hallway in fresh sprigs of holly from the tree outside, decorating the banister with garlands and cardboard reindeer and hanging up Christmas cards. My dad was always charged with fixing up fairy lights in the hallway. We had a small artificial tree for the playroom too, so no matter where you were in the house, it always felt like Christmas.

Last year, I felt that Christmas was contained to our living room. We had a real tree in there, but the Christmas cheer was mostly confined to our front room, so this year I wanted to try and spread the Christmas joy a little further. We use our conservatory as a dining room and that’s where we’ll be eating Christmas dinner this year so I have been thinking of ways to decorate that room.

When the lovely people at Icon Wall Stickers got in touch to see if I wanted to try out one of their wall stickers, I decided to choose something from their Christmas selection. I chose this one because it reminds me of the cardboard reindeer my mum hung from the banister at home all those years ago. I thought it would fit perfectly on the wall in the conservatory, making the room feel that little bit more special for Christmas dinner.

I chose the large design which is 164 cm long, and I have to say it was probably a two person job to put it up. I did it alone and, combined with the cold of the conservatory wall, it wasn’t the easier thing I’ve ever done. Luckily I had an adorable assistant there to pass my scissors and masking tape when needed, so it wasn’t too bad. It took about twenty minutes to put up but would probably have been a lot easier if I hadn’t chosen the coldest room in the house (it’s a conservatory and we recently removed the radiator in there, so it’s not exactly toasty).

The wall sticker looks perfect and Ebony is really pleased with it. She thinks Santa is probably on his way to deliver our presents, apparently she’s asking for gifts for the entire family this year. She has requested a Santa torch and a yoghurt, she’s told him I want make up and that Laurie would love a box of tea bags.

The lovely folk over at Icon Wall Stickers sent an extra copy of the wall sticker so that I could give one away to a lucky reader. All you need to do to enter is fill in the rafflecopter below, good luck!
ThePrizeFinder

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Best News a Parent Can Get

Sometimes, as a parent, I wish I had more things to do. I’m sure other parents will agree with me here, sometimes there just don’t seem to be enough things on my to-do list. I mean, there’s work, of course, and the whole child-rearing side of it. And the nursery run, and the laundry, and the everyday tasks like making dinner or reading bedtime stories. Then there’s the other stuff, the fun stuff, the games and the adventures with my daughter. The afternoons spent snuggled up together being silly, or the messy afternoons of arts and crafts.

And then there’s this blog, and everything that goes along with that. And also I have family and friends to see and speak to. Phone calls to make, messages to reply to, birthday celebrations to attend. And there’s the Christmas concerts, the theatre shows, the trips to museums. The odd jobs around the house, the decorating, feeding the cat. And there’s the food shopping, the endless trips to buy new shoes for my daughter’s growing feet, gymnastic classes to get to. Then there’s Christmas shopping, birthday presents to buy, teeth to clean. Baths to run, cupcakes to bake and books to read.

I just feel like I don’t really have enough to do. There’s another problem too, a little hole in my happiness, something missing from my life. It’s my utility room, you see. I just don’t get to spend enough time in there. It’s quite an exciting room. There’s a litter tray in there, a cupboard full of tools and a huge pile of dirty laundry waiting to be done. And a washing machine, of course. And, the thing that I wish I spent more time with, the tumble dryer.

Luckily, my overwhelming amount of free time and secret desire to spend more time with my dryer have collided in the best way possible this week. It turns out I’ll be able to spend a lot more time in there, just watching my tumble dryer. Great, isn’t it? Apparently, my tumble dryer is one of the ‘significant number’ of tumble dryers in the recall announced earlier this week. There’s a form to fill in to find out if yours is affected, and when you do that, the website gives you the great news that you will be contacted in five weeks. In the meantime, it advises, that you shouldn’t use your tumble dryer unless you’re watching it. In case it sets on fire.

I’m thrilled, of course. Finally I have found something to fill the empty chasm of time I call ‘me time’. Finally I have found a way to develop a stronger relationship with the household appliance that may or may not be secretly planning an arson attack on my home. And what’s extra special about this, is that it’s happened during winter. As the rain beats down on the windows, I needn’t make excuses and simply dry my washing on the line. Oh no, I’ll be inside, watching my tumble dryer. That’s probably at least four hours of intense quality bonding time with my tumble dryer. So, that’s great.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week

This week was Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week. As a pregnancy and parenting writer, I’ve written before about the importance of having carbon monoxide detectors in or near to the room your baby sleeps in. The smaller you are, the quicker carbon monoxide poisoning can take effect, and the more serious it can be.

Carbon Monoxide is a gas many of us have in our homes. It’s what heats our boilers and fuels our gas fires. It’s also colourless and odorless, meaning it’s not easy to spot when a leak has occurred. Around 200 people are hospitalised with carbon monoxide poisoning each year, and for some of these people it can be fatal. For others, the poisoning can cause serious long term health problems. Children and the elderly are the most at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

My housemates at university once returned home to find the entire house filled with gas. The gas cooker had been unknowingly left on overnight. When I returned home the next day, the windows were still wide open to keep fresh air circulating. Leaving windows open in the student area of Liverpool is not a decision one takes lightly. It is thought that as many as one in 10 adults have experienced some form of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Reducing The Risk
You can reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning by installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home. These detectors let off a beeping sound much like fire alarms, notifying of you of a carbon monoxide leak immediately. Every home should have a carbon monoxide alarm to prevent the risk of poisoning, but currently only half of UK homes a carbon monoxide detector.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is often caused by badly fitted or badly maintained appliances. You should ensure you have your boiler serviced regularly to reduce the risk of a carbon monoxide leak. Bad ventilation is another cause for alarm. If a registered gas engineer fits a new appliance, they should advise you of any necessary additional ventilation. We fitted a new fireplace in our old home and were told to install an air brick to ensure there was enough ventilation.

CORGI Home Plan are raising awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning. Their mission? To make sure each and every home in the UK has a carbon monoxide detector installed. You can find out more about what CORGI Home Plan are doing on their website.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

On Reaching an Age of Acceptance



I feel a little older and wiser these days. I think becoming a mother was a big turning point for me. It helped me to realise which things in life were really important. It taught me not to worry about the little things. And, most importantly, it forced me to appreciate myself for who I was.

Overnight I had become a role model for my daughter. It’s an important job and I’m very aware that how I see myself now will affect how she sees herself in the future. The flaws I show her in my body, she will look for in hers. The things I criticise about myself, she too will view in a negative light. It’s important that I like my body so my daughter can grow up and like hers. It’s my job to be proud, honest and myself so that my daughter can grow up and love herself for who she is, something I want for her more than almost anything else. I don’t want the media’s portrayal of women, girls at school or boys at the pub to make her feel bad herself. I want her to love herself unconditionally, just the way I love her.

I’m not saying I’m perfect, I could be improved pretty easily. I could lose some weight, worry less and maybe even pluck my eyebrows once a week. But those are little issues, things that rarely cross my mind. It’s quite liberating to be free from the self-consciousness of youth. To know that this is who I am and to not want for anything differently. I don’t yearn for plastic surgery, I don’t want have any need for laser tattoo removal and I don’t spend hours staring sadly in the mirror and wondering why I don’t look as good as I want to.  Instead, I have reached an age of acceptance.

How can you not like the body which housed, birthed and nourished your children? It’s pretty hard to criticise your body with any sincerity when you are still in total awe of its achievements. Every time I look at my daughter, I remember when she was a part of me. When the only hint of her existence was the sensation of bubbles shooting across my tummy that sunny morning in July all those years ago. As I stood by and watched my body change and grow to accommodate for the stranger growing inside me, it was hard not to be impressed at how nature works. Pregnancy changes your body and while I can’t say I wouldn’t swap bodies with my 18 year old self (in a heartbeat), it’s hard to hate the body that gave you someone so wonderful.

I know that my face will grow wrinkly, that my hair will grey and my body will age, and I guess I’ll deal with those hurdles as I reach them. Perhaps I’ll start dying my hair again, start spending a fortune on skin creams or decide that I’m a little too old to have a tattoo of a daisy on my hip and have my tattoo removed. Who knows? All I know is that right now, I’m happy with myself and trying my best to show my daughter that.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Falling into a Nursery Routine



Ebony started nursery in September and the weeks have flown by ever since. It’s strange how those few short hours of routine can zap the week away. We no longer have long days stretching ahead of us just waiting to be filled with adventure. Instead, we just have our afternoons together. Once lunch has been eaten, clothes have been changed and nursery tales have been shared, there doesn’t really seem to be much time left at all.

Our mornings, once relaxed and slow, have become rushed as we try (and often fail) to get out of the front door on time. Organisation has never really been my strong point so I can’t say I’m surprised to spend my mornings desperately washing, drying and ironing the uniform that most parents probably have waiting neatly on a hangover the night before.

Ebony seems to spend her days at nursery covering her entire uniform in paint, felt tip and glue. If there is a muddy puddle in her path, she will charge through it, sending mud flying onto her clothes. I am starting to realise I should have bought a complete uniform set for each day of the week. Month, perhaps, with my erratic laundry system in mind.

There have been a couple of days where we have made it to the front gate only for me to turn around and discover Ebony’s unbrushed hair sticking up in all directions. Or we’ve forgotten her book bag. Or her soya milk. And we’ve had to run back inside to deal with the forgotten tasks before running most of the way to nursery together.

I miss the slow, stress-free mornings of days gone by when we controlled our own destiny. The days where we could whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. The days when it was fine for Ebony to spend an hour carefully choosing and putting on her clothes. These days, I urge and coax her into her clothes quickly whilst I try to force myself to embrace the idea of being awake.

Her friendship group has swelled, and now she has a group of friends I’ve never met. Little girls and boys we see on the way into nursery, who wave and say hello at Ebony as she proudly points them out to me. She has a best friend at nursery now, a sweet little boy who she chases down the street the whole way to nursery. They spend their mornings playing firefighters together in the nursery’s outdoor area.

The teachers make an effort to involve her in everything, even making a special batch of vegan biscuits for her when it was Children in Need. To celebrate a teacher’s birthday, the children were given sweets and Ebony was given a bag of vegan gummy bears that had been purchased specially for her. She came out clutching them, excited to have her own vegan sweets.

She’s always excited to go to nursery, and always seems to enjoy her time there. She tells me about the games she plays, the things she learns and the conversations she has with other children. I have gotten used to working each morning, rushing home to write as much as I can before it’s time to collect her. It’s satisfying to be able to tick things off my to-do list each day instead of cramming it all into a weekend day like I used to.

As Christmas approaches, I’m aware of just how quickly the weeks pass now. Of how quickly she is growing up. My parents saw Ebony for the first time in three months recently, they hadn’t seen her since before she started nursery, and they couldn’t believe how much she had changed. These changes slip by unnoticed by me as the days merge together, but I notice little things sometimes. How she can reach higher up in the kitchen cupboards, my little girl growing taller. How she learns new phrases and words as her vocabulary matures. How she can hold a proper conversation now as she chats to me on the way home from nursery. How old and wise she is now, and how quickly she has become the amazing little girl she is today.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Review: Activity Cards by Cardooo





I seem to spend most weekends at parties these days. Kids’ birthday parties to be precise so don’t be too jealous. It’s well and truly birthday season over here, which means our freezer is fully stocked with vegan cupcakes, Ebony is in need of some new dresses and I am finding hangovers worse than usual. Truly, there is nothing worse for a hangover than 20 excitable small children arguing over balloons.

It is also means I should have a constant supply of birthday cards, wrapping paper and child-friendly gifts in the house. I don’t, of course, I’ve not quite reached that stage of being a grown up yet. When Ebony was a baby, we spent an afternoon having fun with some paint and ended up with a year’s supply of ready decorated personalised card. Maternity leave is great, isn’t it? These days, I’m much more likely to chuck a felt tip and blank card towards Ebony as we’re getting in the car in the hope she’ll create something beautiful. Organisation really isn’t my strong point.

So when I was offered some children’s birthday cards to review, well, I couldn’t really turn it down, could I? Now, first, let me say, these particular birthday cards are so much more than cards. The range of activity cards by Cardooo have the magical ability to entertain children. The cards double-up as activity booklets filled with stories, games and activities to enjoy with your child.

Ebony wanted to try out the dinosaur card, so one afternoon last week we cosied up in the conservatory (thanks to the heating, not any sun) and took a closer look at the cards. It looks like a normal birthday card, but opens up to reveal plenty of things to do. There’s a short story in the form of a comic and a dinosaur puzzle to be solved. There’s also a maze puzzle, but Ebony really hasn’t got the hang of those yet so she just scribbled across the page. The cards are aimed at 4-7 year olds, and Ebony is just on the cusp of entering that age bracket (sob). Some of the activities were a little old for her, but the ones she could do still provided plenty of entertainment.

Ebony is a fan of stickers (understatement of the year), so I knew she’d be thrilled to discover a sheet of dinosaur stickers hiding inside the card. The centrefold is your typical dinosaur environment complete with volcanoes and you can arrange the stickers however you want. If you’re Ebony that means piling them one on top of another in an endless heap of dinosaurs (I’m hoping she’ll grow out of that soon).

There’s a colour by numbers page which I thought was going to be too old for Ebony but she actually enjoyed searching for the numbers and colouring in the right bits. She didn’t quite get round to completing it so at the moment it is excessively yellow, but that’s because the board game caught her eye. The book comes complete with pull out board game and this has genuinely provided hours of entertainment since we opened the card last week. I have played this game more times than I can remember and, weirdly, Ebony seems ok about losing this one (the same cannot be said for Snakes and Ladders, Snap or Dinosaur Race).

I think these cards would be perfect for giving children something to do during a birthday lunch. It’s not always easy keeping young children happy in restaurants, but I think this card provides a pretty perfect answer. The cardooo activity cards are being sold exclusively at ASDA, so you should be able to pick one up at your local store. The cards are £3 each which I don’t think is bad considering how much entertainment they provide. You can also order Cardooo activity cards online here.



Friday, 13 November 2015

Half a Million Elderly People Alone at Christmas

When I was heavily pregnant with Ebony, the John Lewis Christmas advert came out. If you’ve ever sat through a John Lewis Christmas ad (who hasn’t?), you’ll know that they make you shed a few tears. If you’ve ever sat through a John Lewis Christmas ad while pregnant, you’ll know that they cause actual floods of tears responsible for demolishing whole villages. I was pregnant over Christmas in 2011 (note: Christmas is not the same without all the amaretto and prosecco), that year the John Lewis Christmas advert focused on a little boy longing for Christmas. Not because he wanted presents, but because he couldn’t wait to give presents. I can’t even watch it now without crying. I was convinced that Ebony would be a boy and that she would actually be the boy from the advert.

Obviously, that didn’t quite work out. What I thought was genitalia at the birth turned out to be an umbilical cord, and so I had a little girl. And that little baby girl grew into a three year old who absolutely can’t wait to get presents at Christmas. To be honest, I don’t even think she’s been to John Lewis to choose me a gift.

This year, the advert focuses on the story of a lonely old man and a little girl who reaches out to him. It’s really heartbreaking, and I think it carries an important message about our society. People do feel lonely, especially at Christmas. While you’re surrounded by family, enjoying a glass of champagne, there could be somebody perhaps just a few doors away upset and alone. There was an advert a few years ago (I can’t remember who it was by), that featured an elderly woman answering the telephone to her son who was cancelling his visit at Christmas. I can’t think about that advert without crying either. Maybe I am an emotional woman.

There has been some criticism of John Lewis for spending so much money on an advert. I think I read £7 million somewhere, which is a truly crazy amount when you think of it. Especially when you consider that students from The Brixton School of Communications Art were able to replicate the advert for just £700. Their take on the original advert is nothing short of adorable, I especially love the old guy’s eyebrows.

I do think, however, that since John Lewis were destined to spend an outrageous amount of money on their advert, I think it’s pretty nice that they used the opportunity to raise awareness of an important societal issue. And, you know, forcing pregnant women to expel some of that retained fluid. It is estimated that half a million elderly people will be spending Christmas Day alone in the UK this year. Of course, some of them might choose to do that, and you can’t really force community Christmas fun on those who don’t want it. But for those who would prefer to be surrounded by people this Christmas, I think the advert may help to raise awareness of this issue and, hopefully, spur some individuals into action.

There is an organisation called Community Christmas which organises community Christmas events across the country. With lottery funding and donations, the organisation creates events where elderly people can celebrate Christmas together. Last year, volunteers organised 152 community Christmas events across the country and helped hundreds of old people to spend Christmas with company. You can find out more about the organisation, how you can get involved and make a donation here.


Tuesday, 10 November 2015

The Annual Pilgrimage to Blackpool










We go to Blackpool Illuminations every year, it’s a tradition. I’m pretty sure it’s a tradition for every family north of the imaginary border we place between ourselves and ‘the south’. I’ve always loved the illuminations, going fills me with the nostalgia of my own rainy childhood days spent traipsing about the seafront.

It always rains. And the illuminations rarely change. And the chips never taste as good as I remember from my youth. And the shops are littered with candy phalluses. And, if you go on a weekend, the streets are filled with drunks. And yet, it’s still the perfect place for an autumn family day out. Just make sure you have explanations ready as to why the lollipops have testicles.

We went during half term this year. I think we usually go a couple of weeks later, because the weather is always terrible. It wasn’t so bad this year, it rained but was warm and nobody’s hat got blown off (these are the sort of achievements you can really celebrate in Blackpool).

We arrived at about 5pm. It only took a couple of minutes for Ebony to go native sporting a blood stained mouth thanks to a fall on the way to the tram. After a particularly stressful game of where’s all this blood coming from and a trip into a pharmacy to buy tissues, Ebony looked like your average slightly bloodied three year old once again.

We got a tram straight to central pier so we could go on a couple of rides before seeing the illuminations. We were toying with the idea of going to Blackpool Pleasure Beach but it wasn’t really possible to find the time. Ebony spent most of the tram journey planning to go on the big wheel (and the rest of the tram journey silently trumping, sorry to our fellow passengers) and was more than a little disappointed to discover that it was closed.

A man who had clearly had his fill of Blackpool (happens to the best of us), gave us his leftovers tickets for the rides so we managed to entertain Ebony for a while without parting with a penny. That is as big a conquest as I get these days. All the pennies. Ebony went on a selection of brightly coloured, repetitive rides manned by terrifying people who definitely didn’t have the personalities for customer facing roles.

Then we went to the arcade, of course. I celebrated keeping my pennies but putting them all into an arcade game filled with pennies in the hope that I might win some pennies. Ebony, on the other hand, found a Frozen grabbing machine and set her heart upon having an Elsa doll. Laurie, being the dutiful dad, quickly put his pound in the slot and prepared to take his mere four attempts to secure the Elsa of his daughter’s dreams.

Ebony, in the meantime, grabbed the joystick and went crazy trying (and failing) to grab an Elsa. She used all four goes without ever really leaving the grabber’s holding bay. Laurie wasn’t happy, his chance to impress his daughter was well and truly gone. By this time, he didn’t have another pound because I had exchanged it for pennies to feed my penny arcade game habit Ebony really wasn’t happy. At three, she is not yet old enough to understand that this emotional and heartbreaking disappointment is really what makes Blackpool fun.

After she had punched the machine, we convinced her to step back outside where she stumbled across the waltzers. I was eventually able to convince her that, perhaps, the waltzers were not for her (three year olds are fun, aren’t they?) and then we went to get chips from a quintessentially Blackpool chip shop. We then set off towards the big illuminations. It turns out these are very far away from the chip shop. We walked part of the way along the promenade which was truly terrifying in the dark, but at least there were no genital-themed kitchen aprons along the way. Swings and roundabouts.

The illuminations themselves were pretty, as always. Ebony remembered the Open Sesame one from last year and asked for it most of the way along. She enjoyed being out in the dark, seeing the bright lights and trying to guess what was happening in each of the illuminations. We eventually set off home at about 9:30pm and Ebony slept the whole way home.

Monday, 9 November 2015

When My Friends Have Babies



When Ebony was born, I was one of the first of my friends to have a baby. At 25, most of my friends weren’t even thinking about babies yet. They were busy building careers, seeing the world and having fun. Now that I’m nearing the grand old age of 30 (sob), the baby epidemic is becoming more widespread amongst my friends.

Some of them have already welcomed babies and are now pros at this whole mothering things. Others are just starting to think about babies, excitedly wondering when they will welcome a baby of their own. There are few things I love more in life than pregnancy announcements. Knowing that one of my friends is beginning that beautiful journey towards motherhood fills me with excitement. It takes me right back to my own pregnancy, terrified and overjoyed, when I was 25.

I can remember how all consuming pregnancy it is. How it zaps all of your energy and leaves you with little brainpower for anything else. How you lose days just wondering what your baby will look like. That chronic fear in the pit of my stomach that I wouldn’t know how to look after a baby. The nervousness I felt about the birth, and the struggle to imagine what life would be like with a baby.

One of my oldest friends just gave birth to a beautiful little baby boy, and as soon as I heard I got butterflies. I remembered what those first few hours of motherhood were like. That rush of love so strong it was unlike anything I’d ever felt before. That amazement and pride to have been responsible for creating something so perfect. That exhaustion after birth, and the inability to even walk up the stairs of my home. That eye aching exhaustion kept at bay only be the obsessive need to keep staring at my new baby, unable to believe that she was really here. That she was a she. That she was mine.

The fear when the midwives left our home, and the realisation that we didn’t really have a clue how to look after a baby. Remembering the advice my friend, Felicity, gave me that babies love you unconditionally and have no idea whether you’re doing a good job or not. That weird feeling of wanting to stay snuggled up, undisturbed, as a family forever whilst also wanting to show my daughter off to the world, especially to my parents who I wanted to meet her as soon as possible.

Knowing that life would never be the same again. The understanding that the feeling of love burning in the pit of my stomach would never leave me. The realisation that I would never want to be away from this tiny, defenceless little girl who was completely and utterly dependent on me. The feeling of invincibility that I could do or cope with anything now that I was a mother. When my friends have babies, it brings it all back. All of those feelings rise to the surface and remind me how lucky I am to be Ebony’s mama.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Giveaway: Hotel Chocolat Advent Calendar





I'm a big fan of Hotel Chocolat because they have a great vegan selection. In particular, the Hazelnut Buche is actually the greatest food in existence, I really can't have them in the house because I eat the whole thing (it's probably designed to share) in a matter of moments. So good, and so worth facing the fury of Laurie when he gets home from work to discover the entire thing has gone. Again. 

When the lovely people at Hotel Chocolat got in touch to see if I'd like to review something from their range, I considered it long and hard before drooling on my keyboard and saying yes. I chose the dark chocolate advent calendar because, well, it's basically Christmas. It arrived a few days later, beautifully packaged and very tempting. 

The packaging is just what you'd expect from Hotel Chocolat, a little bit fancy and elegant. It's a big advent calendar, especially when you compare it to some of the other vegan options out there. It opens up and so will stand neatly on the mantelpiece. The doors are big (always a good sign), and the chocolates hidden behind them do not disappoint. I've only opened one door (it's November, guys) and discovered a dark chocolate Santa hiding behind it. The chocolate itself was delicious. It doesn't have that cheap chocolate taste that many advent calendars do, instead it's just a genuinely delicious chocolate to enjoy before breakfast (I love December). The chocolate is suitable for vegans, and is especially nice because it doesn't have that bitter taste that some dark chocolates have. 

Hotel Chocolat have very kindly offered two more advent calendars to be given away as prizes. To be in with a chance of winning, all you need to do is fill in the Rafflecopter below. Good luck! 

ThePrizeFinder

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