I don’t think I know many people who’d turn down chocolate at Christmas, even more so if it were Hotel Chocolat. For me, they’re one of those brands that says luxury, in fact possibly the most luxury chocolate brand that I enjoy. As such, if you really want to treat someone at Christmas, or if you want some really posh chocs to keep on the coffee table for when people visit over the festive period, I’d really recommend checking their Christmas range out. 

If you do decide to treat someone with a Hotel Chocolat gift, this year, then it’ll only cost an extra £2.50 to get it delivered in a gift bag which, as you can see, is a lovely way to present your offering. Of course it tells them where the gift is from but I, for one, wouldn’t mind the intrigue of knowing I’ve got some delicious chocolates but not knowing exactly which ones they are (The range is so huge that you could be guessing for weeks!).

And this is just a small example of the finish that you can expect from the gift bag option – The bag, itself, is really strong and high quality feeling and, then, even the ribbon that it’s tied up with has the logo on it which, although hardly a necessity, gives such a high quality feel to the whole experience – There’ll be no doubting that you’ve gone out of your way to spoil them rotten.  

I was asked if I wanted to feature anything, this Christmas, and I picked the Milk to Caramel Sleekster box but the lovely Hotel Chocolat people also sent me some cute little stocking fillers too; if a big box is a bit more than you’d planned on getting someone then I’d definitely recommend checking that section out too. Both the ‘Ho Ho Ho – Milk’ chocolate santas and the white ‘Reindeer Lick’ would make lovely, luxury, additions to someone’s Christmas collection this year.  

As with all Hotel Chocolat selections, the Milk to Caramel Sleekster comes in a box that’s very chic, and well made, as with the gift bag it shrieks luxury at you without going over the top. This box costs £22 and is brim full of delicious flavours and textures. 

With this brand it, really is, all about the little details and the moment you open the box you can tell you’re in for a treat. The layout has had so much thought put in to it and the chocolates, themselves, are mini works of art! You’ll definitely not be left lacking in choices with this one; even though the themes are milk and caramel you’re getting such a variety you won’t know where to start.

I’ve not tried every chocolate from the box, yet, but the ones I have tried have been sublime (I have been trying not to go ott with the chocolate as don’t want to overfeed either myself or the baby but these have been perfect as they’re so special that it’s easier to just have a couple and feel like you’ve really had a treat). 
I think Carrot cake (top left) is one of my favourites from the box, it actually tastes Just like carrot cake, it has the balance of carroty, nutty and slightly spiced down to a tee, jut wow. Next (moving down the column) we have the Supermilk Caesar which is a light praline mousse in a supermilk cup, I Love praline and this was one of the ones which sold the box to me. The Brownie is the next in the box, I’ve not tried it yet but who doesn’t want a chocolate inspired by brownies?! 
The top of the column with the all similarly decorated chocolates in is The Pecan; I love nutty chocolates and pecans and caramel is the idea of heaven for me. Next up is The Pistachio, again, I couldn’t ask for anything more! Lastly is their Peanut Butter offering, as you can see the chocolate is a little darker, as it’s the a 50% milk, but in this combination the darkness is balanced so nicely by the sweet/salty peanut butter. 
Lastly, for this half of the box, we have the Coconut & Coconut slab which comprises of two colours of coconut chocolate. This is a safe option for me as I definitely don’t have to share, Azii isn’t fond of coconut, but I love it. 

The second set of slabs is the Salted Caramel slab. Salted caramel has been a very fashionable flavour for a while now, and I’m someone who’s embraced that entirely, I Love the salty and sweet together and this slab personifies that. 
The top two of the two quartets of mini chocs are Salted caramel in 40% chocolate, they’re not too salty but have just the right balance of caramel, salty and slightly richer chocolate, very very yum. The second set of these is the Butterscotch. I’ll be honest, Butterscotch isn’t my favourite ever flavour, but in this instance even this works for me, so deliciously creamy! 
And to the last three flavours! At the top we have, yet another, praline (you won’t get any complaining from me!) and the name is delightful as it suits the pattern, it’s called Dizzy Praline. The truffle-like one’s are called Mousse au Chocolat (the description is in the name, haha) and, lastly, we have Florentine Isabelle, which is a florentine on top of yet, more, tasty praline. 
It’d be safe to say I’ve given you a little more detail than you needed, with this one, even the pictures probably would’ve been tempting enough for most of you. But what can I say, when I enthuse, I enthuse, and this selection of chocolates is well worth getting excited over. 
So if you’ve got someone who has a sweet tooth and you’re not sure what to get them, this Christmas, then check out the Hotel Chocolat site (or if you’ve got really good will power, drop in to one of their stores) and check out their ranges as they have everything from the littlest stocking fillers to hampers of goodies that’ll put a sparkle in any chocolate lovers eye. 

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With November almost behind us it’s time for us to accept that Christmas
is just around the corner – Ok, so I know a lot of you may have accepted that
already, you may have had your tree up since mid November or you might be
singing carols in the shower but, me, well until December arrives I’m a little
reluctant to get in to the festive spirit.
That said, there’s one part of the season that I embrace early, and
that’s the part which has me buying up bargains from October time so that the
present buying aspect isn’t sprung on me mid December, so that I can spread the
cost and so that I can feel like I’m not going to go loopy when I run out of
ideas and ‘Arg it’s nearly here!’.
This year we’ve still only got Ethan and Skye to buy for (littles wise)
but with our impending third child very much on the horizon (eek only 13 weeks
to go until due date!) I’ve really been thinking about how we’ll have to deal
with Christmas in the coming years. Oliver is going to, without a doubt,
inherit a lot of toys from his big brother, but it’ll still be nice to make
sure he has some new things, of his own, when the festive period comes
around. 
When House of Fraser asked
me to look at some gift ideas from their toys section I
took it as an opportunity to show how you really can cater for your growing
family without becoming destitute. And I think you’ll agree I managed to do
quite well for a spot over £30 (£30.20 to be precise).

And this is what I got for the money. I think, for £30.20, this is quite
the bargain toy haul and I managed to cover gifts for all three of the children
within that – Ok so it’s hardly the whole of their budget, but considering the
cost I think it’s safe to see that it Is possible to add to your family and not
go bankrupt to cover Christmas (phew!).

For Skye I picked this Ella Doll – With
baby Oliver as an imminent addition to our family she’s started showing a
bigger interest in baby dolls so I thought this was a lovely way for her to
have practice giving cuddles and pushing a doll around in the toy buggy we have
here, on her visits. The Ella doll has a soft body with plastic arms, leg and
head which makes her lovely for cuddling but also with quite a realistic baby
look. Her eyes close when you lay her down, and one of her thumbs fits in her
mouth which is rather cute. For £10 I think this is rather a good bargain, and
I think we’ll have a very happy girl when she opens her gifts on her weekend
here, following Christmas. 
For Ethan I picked up this Star Wars ‘Destroyer Droid’ figure
and two Minecraft Mystery Minis.
Both of these items are, unfortunately, out of stock at the moment but it’s
well worth checking out what other fantastic toys are available from other such
popular franchises (There’s some awesome Minecraft figure sets and Star Wars
toys are really popular at the moment due to the upcoming release) and keeping
an eye out for when these come back in to stock.
The Destroyer Droid was an absolute bargain at £5, in the sale, and the
Minecraft minis make a sweet little stocking filler at £4 each. I know, I’m a
naughty Mummy, I opened the minis without him, but rather than saving them for
stocking fillers I realised these would be great to take the place of some
chocolates in the advent calendar that Grandma has made him so they needed to
be open for that (thankfully we didn’t get any duplicates for the ones we’ve
already got).
Lastly I picked up these two, brightly coloured, toys for Oliver. I know
he doesn’t need them This Christmas but they’re a great example of affordable
toys you can get for a little one’s first Christmas. I’ve never heard of
Playgro before but they’re definitely a brand to keep an eye out for as the
toys seem really well made and I love the different moving parts, bright
colours and different sounds and textures. 
Sadly I can’t link to these as they’re no longer on the site (This
really is the time of year where you’ve got to snap up bargains asap!) but I’d
definitely recommend checking out the baby section, and if you see this brand
at all they’re well worth looking at. The shaker was £3.20 in the sale and the
ball was £4 in the sale. 
So that’s what I got for my £30.20. And that’s just a small example of
the sorts of things that you can pick up from sites/stores such as House of
Fraser; even though it’s normally a place I equate to high end, they do have
bargains too! Your first Christmas with a new addition may be daunting if
you’re shopping on a budget, but don’t give up hope, there’s always a bargain
to be found so just take your time and buy in advance and you’ll be sure to be
able to cater for your growing family without breaking the bank. 

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I’m not going to apologise for how long it’s taken be to do this post because, if I did, all the coming posts would start the same way and that’d get very boring. Needless to say, getting sent delicious sweets just as your morning sickness kicks in and you can’t eat Anything… torture is one of many words! 

The lovely people at Jealous Sweets were incredibly generous when they sent me 6 different boxes of their jelly sweets to try out. I can’t say I had anticipated much from them, I mean jelly sweets are jelly sweets, right? Actually, no! 

The moment you see the boxes of these sweets you can tell they’re a bit special; from the quality of the card, to the beautiful fonts and the really well thought out branding, these instantly tell you they’re something special. The Magpie logo is in keeping with that ‘jealous’, ‘mine’ theme that the name conjures up, but it also has a really good look about it, with the monochrome contrasting to the coloured panels on the boxes.

As you can see, with the little diamond shapes, each flavour of sweet has its own pattern and this is continued on to the ends of the boxes which makes them easier to tell apart but also just adds that other dimension to the packaging.

And here are the six different varieties I was sent – As you can see the company has, also, attributed a personality to each of their sweets which is rather fun and sets them out against other brands, yet again. 
It took me ages to be able to eat these, some I was able to eat sooner than others, but I’ve finally finished them all (such a hardship of course!) so I can, be totally honest and tell you what I think. 
After finishing the first two boxes I went straight on to their website to see how I could get some more, no word of a lie. I expected these to be a little different from other brands, but couldn’t understand how they’d be That different – Well now I do. The flavours are just so much more natural than other brands, they’re not sticky and chewy/almost plasticy like other brands they have a much nicer bite, and texture to them and the range of sweets is fantastic.

My, absolute, favourite was the Wild Cherries. They had a really interesting jelly-like texture to them, without getting stuck in your teeth, when you bite in to them you don’t hurt your jaw chewing over and over again, they are very unique. And the flavour, so so good, they Actually taste like cherries!

In absolute honesty, though, there wasn’t a single one of them that I didn’t like. I haven’t been able to enjoy sour/fizzy sweets as much during this pregnancy (no idea why) but even those I enjoyed, and the more jelly-like ones were even better.

And when I thought they couldn’t get any better I discovered that they’re vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, contain natural fruit juices and are free from artificial colour and flavours. Now I’m not hugely strict on myself with these things, I eat meat, I eat meat based products and when I eat sweets I’m naughty and don’t check if they’re more natural than others. But knowing that these Are all of those things definitely gives them yet another edge on other big brands. 
And that’s one of many reasons that I think these lend themselves, really well, to Christmas gifts and stocking fillers. Firstly, they’re sweets and who doesn’t want to get sweets for Christmas? But more than that, these are special, they’re not just something you pick up at the corner shop, you can tell how special they are just from the packaging. And, then, on top of that, if you have a vegan or vegetarian friend, and you’re not always sure what to get them, these can definitely fill that gap! 
They are not the cheapest of sweets, at £2.50 for a 50g treat box, and £8.99 for a 200g gift box they’re definitely worth getting as a special treat/gift but my goodness are they good! They can be bought from the Jealous Sweets shop or from various stockists which can be found on the site. If you’re lucky enough to get these over Christmas then I think you’ll be very grateful to that generous gift giver, and they will undoubtedly be rather jealous (see what I did there?) 

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I had really high hopes of keeping you really updated throughout this pregnancy but I had no idea quite how much harder work this pregnancy was going to be (things weren’t easy with Ethan’s, but compared to this, eesh). As such I’ve already reached, and left behind, the half way stage and am only a few days away from reaching that all important 24 week mark which is amazing to believe (though plenty more time to stay inside and keep cooking little one, no hurry).

I don’t have a bump pic, because I still am not a fan of the whole having my photo taken thing, but I will get one done soon. I spent most of the pregnancy desperate to get a bump, and now that one has blossomed in just a few, short weeks, OW! Turns out that having a bump is a lot more uncomfortable this time around, but it’s also so lovely to actually see real proof that the baby is in there. Same goes with kicking, at my 20 week scan we found out that I had an anterior placenta, again, and that meant that it’d take longer until I got movements, which was definitely the case. But now that I’m feeling movement, it’s come on so fast, no butterflies here, no little flutters, we’ve gone from the odd kick and prod to being able to see my bump move, all in the time span of a few weeks.

Both the bump and the movement, definitely, make things feel more real and make it easier to relax in to the pregnancy a little more, but the things that have given us the biggest peace of mind is the scans we’ve had. We had a 16wk private scan, where we found out we were having a little boy! And then our 20wk scan confirmed his boy-hood as well as giving a good indicator that he’s healthy.
Despite the good 20 week scan our midwife was quite anxious to make sure that we had some extra reassurance (due to both Ethan and Skye’s health) so a few days ago we were given a fetal echocardiogram which was just the most amazing reassurance. Most of the checks were similar to those at the 20 week scan, but in more detail, and the lady who did the scan was really knowledgeable about both posterior urethral valves (Ethan’s condition in utero), and Williams Syndrome (which is what Skye has) so it meant that she was specifically able to look at indicators for these two conditions, and able to reassure us that, as far as could be seen in a scan, our baby didn’t show any signs of having the associated kidney, bladder, heart, stomach or other various symptoms related to the conditions that E and S have. Such a relief, neither Azii or I were totally aware of how nervous we were until she reassured us, and once she did it was like a weight had been lifted.

As long as the scans were correct, and nothing happens between now and when he’s born, our little Oliver should be the much anticipated healthy baby that we were hoping for. Of course everyone hopes for a health baby but after each having had a poorly baby, it just feels like a dream.

So far Oliver has a high chair (Very good special offer on one that should be a lot more mobility friendly for me) and a number of bits of clothing. I don’t have pictures of everything we’ve got but I’ve got a few, lovely, bits from George at Asda which have been bought between my Mum and I. I’m not going to link, or even do prices, because most were bought at a baby event, and most are out of stock because I’ve been out of sorts for so long, but I thought this would, still, be a nice indicator of the sorts of things that they do, I really do like the clothing from Asda.

My Mum picked up these two packs of dribble bibs as well as two hats and two pairs of scratch mitts. When Ethan was born dribble bibs were something you tended to have to get from eBay sellers but in the following years they’v become really mainstream and you can pick them up in all sorts of stores. These things are a real saviour when baby is a dribbler, or if they have reflux or just for general day to day ways to keep clothing clean.

 

My Mum also picked up these sleep suits and vests in a 0-3 month size, I love the star design and the cream and grey colours, it’s really subtle but still really nice. Ethan has had loads of vests and sleep suits from Asda so I’m really confident of how well they wash and how nicely they keep too – A lot of what Oliver has will end up being hand me downs from Ethan, but we want him to have a few new bits too.

 

This cute little outfit is something I picked up in a sale for only a few pounds. They only had it in age 0-3 months otherwise I’d have got it in a bigger size so that it would’ve been more weather appropriate, but we can pair this up with some warmer clothes to make it work in the cooler months – Layers layers layers!
My Mum wanted to get him some 3-6 month bits, as well as the smaller ones, so she picked up these blue and white sleep suits and vests, yay for more stars!

 

I took full advantage of not needing to get lots of basics, so when I did my order I went, entirely, for the cute and quirky things which caught my eye. Which is why he has both this Sulley onesie, which may be one of my favourite baby things Ever, along side this rather awesome Ninja turtles vest – I think it’s really nice that both of these also come with hats.

 

As well as basics my Mum wanted to get him some cute little outfits in 3-6 months so she picked up this adorable Loony Tunes baby Taz set. I don’t intend to use too many proper clothes on him until he’s bigger but it’s always nice to have a few outfits, especially when they’re as cute as this. If Oliver’s colouring is anything like Ethan’s was then he’ll really suit this deep, burnt orange sort of colour.
And here’s the design on the tee, which is just adorable. I love that there’s a Baby Taz range at the moment, it’s just adorable.

 

The last thing from my Mum, which she just couldn’t not get, was this lovely ‘Little Brother’ t-shirt. Again it’s in that lovely shade which Ethan always rocked so hopefully Oliver will too.
Lastly, from me, is this totally impractical purchase. These pyjamas are in the 18-24month size so it’s going to be an Awfully long time until Oliver can wear them, but it was the only size they had and I just fell in love with the baby Loony Tunes design.

 

Just, how cute can you get?! And it’s not like he won’t use them, it just won’t be for a while!
So that’s Oliver’s first big haul. As I say, he’s got a couple of other bits and bobs but this is the main bulk. Until we’ve been through the attic and seen what state Ethan’s old stuff is in we won’t know which gaps we have left to fill so we may not get much more clothing wise, or we may decide to bulk order white vests because all of E’s got pretty grotty. We shall see.
I’ve not bought any of the other big items yet – The main one being a buggy. We have Ethan’s old buggy but even when I was more able bodied I struggled with it, so I’m considering a new one, a lighter one which is more manoeuvrable, but getting one that’s suitable from newborn, does parent facing and is in our price range… it’s proving to be quite the task. Thankfully we still have time!
I will Try to update sooner next time – Hopefully the pregnancy will be nice and uneventful so there won’t be lots to say, I’d really like an average, calm pregnancy.

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