A week or so ago, I was listening to The Food Programme from radio 4 (on a podcast- you can get it here) and it was all about chocolate. It was very interesting; discussing why chocolate was getting more pricey, and looking at the growing number of artisan chocolate producers. I would recommend it, and it does make you think about where the cocoa comes from, the conditions and payment for the farmers, and so on.

I also watched a programme on BBC about supermarket foods. I could go into the pros and cons of this show (maybe later)- it was interesting but I am not sure I would trust the “science”. For example, they wanted to prove that cows milk was the best recovery drink for athletes. They used a rugby team, analysed their blood etc, but they tested milk against a sports drink, which looked to me to be lucozade (not meant as a recovery drink but as an energy boost before and during sports)- anyway containing only carbohydrates versus the protein and carbohydrates present in milk. Of course milk fared better. But anyway, I digress. One of the features was about whether chocolate was addictive or not. They found that when they scanned people’s brains, the same part of the brain was activated whether you looked at pictures, or actually tasted the chocolate. The concluded it is down to marketing that makes us think we are addictive. So anyway, next time you get a chocolate craving just look at some pictures instead.

And here are some pictures for you. I am quite a fan of Seed and Bean chocolate (I am a fan of all chocolate, to be fair)- they have some lovely  unusual flavours in my local Holland and Barrett. Anyway they kindly sent me some flavours for a review.

Fine Dark chocolate, White chocolate with Lemon and Poppy Seeds, and Dark with Espresso coffee.

This went well with the Dark chocolate with Mandarin and Ginger, and the Milk chocolate with Tangerine that I had picked up previously. I told you I loved chocolate.

All the chocolate was lovely. The dark chocolate is rich, but still quite sweet (not too bitter like some extra dark ones can be).

I quite liked the espresso one, even though I am not a fan of coffee generally. It had a hint of coffee which almost made it more chocolatey. It was sort of crunchy with the espresso in there too, which gave it a different texture. Andy loved it, as he is a coffee lover anyway.

Of course, chocolate goes perfectly well with tea!

The lemon and poppy seed one was a brilliant surprise- I was not sure how lemon would go, but it tasted like lemon cheesecake. I loved it!

I have since picked up another unusual flavour (extra dark with lavender) and some more of the milk chocolate tangerine, because I love it.

What I love, as well as the unusual range of flavours (I have seen dark chocolate with coconut and raspberry, and dark chocolate with pumpkin seeds and hemp oil on their website) and that their chocolate is made in the UK, is how ethical the company are.

On their homepage they scored 100% for the UK’s ethical comparison shopping guide in 2011 (the only chocolate producer to score that high). You can look here for the little table of results.

All their chocolates are vegetarian, and a lot are vegan too, so something for everyone. I love the range of flavours- something for everyone yet again.

Both listening to The Food Programme, and looking on the Seed and Bean website has made me think more about my choices when I buy chocolate. When I was a teenager I was in love with Cadbury’s, but now I cannot remember the last time I bought or even ate some of their chocolate. Now I tend to buy brands that I think are more ethical- Montezuma’s, Hotel Chocolat (in the sale!), Green and Blacks, but I do also buy cheaper chocolate for when I bake, because it seems a waste to use really nice chocolate in cookies or something. I did notice that Aldi have Fairtrade chocolate, so perhaps I will have to switch to that for my baking. Something to consider anyway.

Do you think about where your chocolate comes from? What is your favourite flavour combination for a chocolate bar? What bar would you invent if you could?

Lush convert

Hey all.

I just realised that this is my first post of 2012- Olympic year woohoo!

Hope you all had a good new year’s eve- I was asleep by 11 I think (but don’t worry, even if you are not awake you still end up in the next year)- I read some Runners’ World (which is a bit annoying as I won’t be running anywhere in the near future!) and watched the fireworks the next day. Happy new year anyway!

For Christmas I was given some goodies from Lush. Now normally I never go in their shops because I find the smell so overpowering (if they are in a shopping centre or something you can smell it from shops away!), but the goodies I was given were lovely and actually did not smell too strong. I was also given a voucher so Andy took me to the shops the other day and we ventured inside one.

The shop assistants were fab- I was given some shower jelly stuff (like a tub of jelly) and they showed me what to do with it, and demonstrated some lovely skin conditioner on me (which I was sold on as I get dry skin really easily). I also wanted to look into the solid shampoos as one of my friends always raves about them- lots of pro’s as they are economical (one is the equivalent of 3 bottles of shampoo), last for ages, no preservatives, help the environment by reducing packaging, and would be good to take on holiday. There were lots of options but I chose this one– it smelled amazing plus apparently is good for shine with dark hair (and also good for receding hair but I did tell the guy I was not worried about that!). Anyway, I was looking forward to trying it out.

You wet your hair, rub the bar around your scalp a few times, then lather up. I did wonder whether it would be as easy to get to the underneath of my hair, as it is very thick (I can normally put a little shampoo on my fingertips and get it in that way) but the shampoo lathered up really well. Plus it did smell amazing- the cloves lingered especially.  They said to leave the bar to dry between washes, so I have left the tin open (I bought the tin separately but that can be re-used). I am very impressed though- I will be interested to see how long it actually lasts. A day later my hair still looks clean- sometimes products that “enhance shine” actually make it a little greasy- but this is passing in my book. I then spent ages on their website (hence all the links!) and noticed they do a solid conditioner too. Something I might try in the future.  Anyone else used these types of products at all?

I went to the GP this morning and have been signed off for another 2 weeks. Although I think that is the best for my health (I feel OK, then the paracetamol wears off and I feel really bad- still can’t walk very far or move normally, plus the worry of children bumping into me and things) it might not be the best thing for my sanity! Anyway, after I went to the GP I popped to Waitrose for some salad (feeling very guilty as I feel I should be at home- I have never been signed off before this and am not really sure what is allowed- I know that popping to the shops is not the same as a full day at work but I do feel guilty- even though I need to sit down for about half an hour to recover when I get home!) and found a few bargains.

This cute owl box (which I saw before but was £10- today it was £5 although it contained sweets (which I will take to work as they look like marshmallows) when I was hoping it would contain an owl mug)- I have already used it to put my cake decorating bits in. And some Montezuma’s truffles (peppermint white chocolate, and orange and geranium ones) for £1.25 each! Bargain! So get yourselves down to Waitrose for some post Christmas bargains. The lady in front of me was loading up on the bags of chocolate coins/ santa’s as they were something like 25p!

What do you feel you are “allowed” to do when off work? What do you do to pass the time? Have you ever used solid shampoo’s or other products similar? 

How to make a frothy chai latte

Hello! I have been making the most of some of my lovely Christmas presents by attempting to make home-made chai lattes. I think I have the right technique now, just need to play around with the best teabags/ loose tea to use.

First up, boil the kettle and put your chosen teabag (as I am off caffeine at the moment I chose rooibos with vanilla, but of course to make it perfect choose a black tea chai teabag) in the cup you will end up using. Only put a little water in the cup- the teabags need boiling water to properly release the flavour.

Then heat up some milk (I used soya milk) in a smaller cup- this is probably about 250ml and it took about 1min 40 in my microwave. When the teabag has steeped enough (a couple of minutes- basically the time it takes for the milk to heat) remove it and add some flavour syrup (optional but I was excited to try it- the gingerbread syrup smells amazing). Then pour on the warm milk.

Then get out your milk frother (mine is an Aerolatte ) and froth away.

Look how frothy it goes! 🙂

Then I used on of my cookie shape things to try to make a cinnamon star on top- I think I needed to use my sugar shaker for this! Next time.

Then sit down and enjoy- mmmmmm. Not quite as sweet as a Starbucks one…

But very tasty and warming all the same.

Also, my Whittards order arrived- I had asked for a filter teapot as a Christmas present, and in the end ordered it myself as I had some codes for free delivery and 10% off.

A cool spotty teapot, some chocolate chai (Andy got this for me years ago and I love it but our local one never stocks it any more), Christmas tea and also cinnamon syrup, which I totally forgot I ordered! Hope I like it! 🙂

What are you after in the sales right now?

Also, don’t forget to enter my giveaway. If your comment does not pop up right away don’t worry- some of them were going to be approved by me first, I think just because they have links in them.

Zalando review and giveaway

Hello everyone. I trust you are all busy getting some bargains in the sales.

A while ago (back in November) I was contacted by Amy from a website called Zalando, and Amy wondered if I wanted to try out the website and then write a review for it. I agreed and decided that in the spirit of the season I would share the voucher with my readers. So I had £15 to spend, and if you keep on reading you can find out how you can win a £15 Zalando voucher too.

I had never heard of the website before (although since then I have seen them on several blogs) so I had a look around. I was really impressed- I thought it was just a sportswear retailer but it also sells clothes and beauty brands. It took me ages to decide what to buy. I was very tempted by some lovely handcream, or a scented candle (how nice does fig and grapefruit sound?).

In the end I decided to get some running gloves (which are now out of stock so I can’t link to them!). These have been on my wishlist for a while.

I was really impressed with the speed of delivery- I ordered them on the 26th in the afternoon, and got a dispatch email early on the 27th. They arrived on the 29th (today).

I was a bit worried about the size- the only size they had in stock was XS, and I think I have quite big hands for a girl. I would say that I would like to see size guides on the website, as I could see no guidance for what size I would need. I even went to the Nike website but still could not find any information (so I appreciate it would be hard for Zalando to have the size guides if the actual companies do not make them easy to find), so just went for it.

Well, they fit! Hooray! They are tight around the wrist, but they are meant to be keeping my hands super toasty so being extra snug means they will keep the cold out.

I look forward (even more so) to when I am back and healthy enough to run again, especially if I have super cool and super toasty running gloves to wear too 🙂

I was really impressed with Zalando- the website was easy to use- either by following the menus or by typing into the search boxes. You could also filter things by most popular, price, sale items and so on. The fact that delivery is free is also a massive plus. I like ordering things online, but I do get annoyed by some places who charge quite a lot for delivery. I was expecting them to be in a jiffy bag and posted through my door (which would have been fine) but they were sent via a parcel company, in a box, and had to be signed for, which is even better value considering it is free. Also they only show items in stock, which I like because it is annoying when you find something online and then find out it is out of stock. They do have size guides for the tops and things, so adding them for the gloves would really help too.

Now, I mentioned at the start that I am also hosting a giveaway! One lucky reader can win a £15 voucher for Zalando (UK entries only). Here is how you can enter (each one counts as a separate entry):

  • Comment on this post to say what you would spend your voucher on.
  • Link back to this post in a post of your own (leave a seperate comment saying you have done so).
  • Like me on facebook (again leave a seperate comment to say this).

Entries will close in one week (next Thursday) when I will be super high-tech and put all the names into a container to randomly choose the winner.

Good luck! 🙂

Lovely Christmas and a WINNER!


We had a very cosy Christmas Eve. We had a nice walk in the afternoon and then put up some decorations. Last minute much? The moose candle holder is my favourite- a few years ago we went to Copenhagen for the weekend as our Christmas present, and that was the one thing we brought home with us. The Christmas tree is a tealight holder but it was not lit when I took the picture.

After a nice tea of bread, cheese (I had some Wensleydale and cranberry cheese), salad, grapes and clementines we had a slice of Christmas cake too. Well I did want to try it before we gave the other ones away, for quality control purposes, of course.

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and Boxing day too. I did, and I will ramble on about that later. But first, last week I posted about a giveaway where one lucky person could win a Bondi Band.

Well, I put all the names into a pot, gave them a big shake, and then chose one (yes, I am super old skool!), and the winner is:

Marijke who wanted the “One more Mile” one. So, email me your address and I will post it off to you! How exciting! Plus it made the decision for me as I loved them both, so once I am out running again I will get to review the Run one. 🙂

And now onto Christmas. I was getting excited about giving out the hampers:

The cake boxes were so huge they took up most of the hampers! There was also coffee, apple and mango jam, spiced nuts, Christmas pudding fudge and chocolate coated gingerbread cookies.

Plus I was so excited to give me Dad his tile for the garden.

He loved it so much! He actually said it was far too nice to put in the garden and is going to see if he can fix it to the front of their house.  🙂

We spent most of the day at Andy’s parents’ house (my parents were back from holiday late on Christmas eve and are heading away tomorrow so we did not want to impose), and it was lovely.

We were totally spoilt- the present opening took all afternoon (although it was nice and slow- one at a time in reverse age order, with a little break in the middle for some pudding), and by the time we had finished it was dark. We had a little walk to see some of the lights and interesting decorations. 6 ft inflatable tree, snowman and santa anyone?

Some of my gifts- a cute owl hot water bottle, some lovely recycled socks (from recycled plastic bottles) that came all the way from Yellowstone when Andy’s parents went there in the summer, nice handcream and a lovely baking book.

And some latte making equipment! A little hand-held whizzer thing, and a cocoa powder/ icing sugar shaker, a marmalade making kit and the sweetest present ever. (I did warn you I would ramble on). Andy has 2 brothers and they both have girlfriends/ fiancées. The 6 of us decided this year that instead of exchanging gifts we would choose a show in London to see in the new year and go together. We had to bring a “fun” gift (with a small price limit) that everyone could enjoy, so we went for this game (which was fun as we played it about 4 times I think). Anyway, his youngest brother and girlfriend gave me the Stitch mug and toy (Lilo and Stitch is my favourite Disney movie) with a little card in it saying that they were sorry that we had to cancel our holiday and would not be going to Disney at Christmas, so here was a little bit of Disney for me to have at home. It was so sweet and so kind and so unexpected. And the mug is the perfect size for a latte I think 🙂

For me and Andy our presents were going to be going to see The Book of Mormon ( from the South Park guys) and also The Rockettes, both in NYC. But I found out that as a surprise he had booked for our last night on holiday to stay at the Disney Animal Kingdom lodge, but obviously yet again we had to cancel it all. So instead he got me a Kindle, which I am very excited about! I got him one last year and he loves it, and I do read a lot (and he kept saying when I was in hospital that I could do with one too as he kept having to bring me more books and magazines). It came pre-loaded with Run by Dean Karnazes which I started already. 🙂 I feel very lucky indeed 🙂

I spent today chilling with my parents for most of it, before they are off tomorrow, and it has been lovely 🙂

I did start off with mincemeat topped pancakes 🙂 Yum! They were made of spelt flour, baking powder, almond milk, apple sauce, cinnamon, ginger and a few raisins, topped with the mincemeat from Meridian. Yummy. My best ones yet. I just realised this picture is almost identical to the one with cake and tea- I am loving my tablecloth, placemats and little table decorations right now! 🙂

Any lovely surprises that you had over Christmas? What was your favourite thing that you gave/ received?