For me, Christmas is all about the three F’s: food, family and friends. Gimme those three things and I’m a happy girl. But, what is it about the Christmas period that makes everything you eat and drink taste so much better? Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate all year round but there’s just something different about eating a Christmas themed chocolate, despite the fact it’s exactly the same recipe and ingredients. Perhaps it’s Christmas magic?

Virginia Hayward specialises in luxury food and drink hampers and has been doing some research on what it is that we all really do love to indulge in this time of year. Take a look at the nation’s favourite festive flavours below. I can’t say I’m surprised by the results and even as the UK’s fussiest eater, even I love 6/10 of the food/drinks: cheese, biscuits, chocolates, crackers and of course, prosecco and wine.

Virginia Hayward Favourite Flavours

Of course, this means that I’m a big fan of all of the iconic duos so if you’re reading this, feel free to send me endless supplies of these. However, I do have a confession that I’m embarrassed to admit. I’m not a true cheese fan. I’ll take all the cheddar, all the mozzarella and all the halloumi but that’s about as far as my cheese taste palette will stretch.

Anyway, that’s enough about my preferences *hint hint*, the point I’m trying to reach is that there’s no need to spend hours and hours panicking and stressing over finding the perfect gift this Christmas. Virginia Hayward offers ready made hampers as well as the option to build your own hamper so that you can truly enjoy the gift of giving this year.

*This post has been sponsored by Virginia Hayward.

Recently I was invited along by the lovely team at The Tanning Shop to go along and try one of their sunbeds. When it comes to sunbathing, I am a pro. Sunbathing is my favourite part of a holiday, heat really helps with my condition so not only do I travel home feeling like a different woman than I did travelling out but I also come home with a tan which is always a bonus.

Sunbeds aren’t something that I’ve used in the past. I think this is mainly because all that you ever hear about them is the dangers. However, when used in moderation and sensibly, they can actually be extremely beneficial, especially for those with chronic pain and conditions such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Studies have shown that UV light can help people who suffer from high levels of pain to cope better and to give them better mobility.

In addition to helping physically, UV light is reported to also help with moods and mental health. Particularly during the winter time when over here in England, we don’t have much access to sunlight throughout the winter…or any time of the year.

In addition to helping with all of the above, the sunbeds are of course good for tanning too.  The tanning process begins from your first exposure to UV light and dependant on skin type and tanning history, you can see the beginning of a base tan from your second or third session. Fairer skin types respond much more quickly and as such, the session length is much lower. People with medium and darker skin types are more resistant to the tanning process and thus need more sessions to develop a base tan at a longer session length. Of course being fair, and it being my first experience on a sunbed, I was advised to go for a shorter session of six minutes and used a UV-specific lotion that is designed to replace moisture that could be lost during the session.

To make the most of a sunbed, for tanning purposes, it’s always best to ensure that your skin is fully exfoliated and is moisturised well which is something that is also relevant for sunbathing in natural sunlight too.

Whatever reason you decide to have a sunbed for, whether this be to reduce pain, improve your mental health or to develop a tan then it’s really important to make sure that you are using the sunbeds properly and safely. The Tanning Shop team are brilliant at what they do and can recommend how best to use the sunbeds to achieve your desired results so don’t be afraid to ask.

The Tanning Shop has over 70 stores across the UK. To find your nearest one, just click here.

The Tanning Shop logo

*This post has been sponsored by The Tanning Shop.

 

 

December is finally here; my favourite time of the month. Give me Christmas films, music, food, drink and of course decorations and you have one very happy girl. I thought it was only right that I kicked off the festivities over here on Food and Fancies with a Christmas themed post…Christmas decorations!

With this year being our first year in our own home, I’ve been so excited about decorating and putting up the Christmas decorations. So excited that, I put them up last weekend. The lovely team over at Amara recently got in touch and offered me the chance to pick some decorations from the site. Of course, I quite literally jumped on the chance and headed straight over to the site to see what was on offer and make my decision on which items would suit my white and silver theme best.

The first thing I knew I definitely needed was this assortment of baubles. These baubles are part of Amara’s own range and only cost £15 for 30 baubles which is a bargain. I have to admit, because they were so affordable I didn’t expect them to be very high quality but I was proven wrong, they’re lovely and taking pride of place on the tree.

Alongside the baubles, I was after something to add some special Christmas touches to the rest of the house and seriously fell in love with this garland. We’ve added some tiny little lights to the garland so that it lights up and it looks so beautiful and festive.

Finally, you can’t have Christmas without some Christmas lights. I wanted something a little different from the traditional lights this year and this star lights garland was the perfect item to fill my window and complete my Christmas decorations.

Are your Christmas decorations up yet? What’s your favourite tradition of the festive season?

Christmas decorations on a tree

*These items were gifted to me by Amara however all opinions are my own.

 

After buying a house and moving out from my parent’s home back in June, I’ve developed a love for baking and cooking. One thing that I’ve realised I love cooking is a roast dinner. But, when I do a roast, I do it properly and I go big, even it’s just me and Liam that I’m cooking for. I’m talking crispy roast potatoes, loads of stuffing, yorkshire puddings, honey roasted vegetables, normal vegetables and meat. Oh, and a dessert of course. Now, I don’t think that a roast is a difficult meal to cook. Once you’ve mastered the timings, you’re good to go. However, one thing that I do find hard is fitting it all in. With our kitchen being on the smaller side we can only fit in a double oven which is what has inspired me to look at the combination microwave oven by Panasonic.

Although we’re not hosting Christmas day here, we do have family over to celebrate the start of the festive activities on Christmas Eve and how I’ll fit everything in the oven at once has been stressing me out a little bit as I’m planning on doing a roast/Christmas dinner. Because, can you ever really have too many Christmas dinners? Nope. I’d heard of a combination microwave oven before but hadn’t ever really given them much thought. Mainly because I’ve never needed to before now and overnight I’ve turned into an adult who actually enjoys looking at things like this. Anyway, back to the point, the combination microwave oven can cook pretty much anything from roast pork to roast potatoes which takes the stress out of living with a single oven and cooking for a whole bunch of people.

Not only can the combination microwave oven by Panasonic cook a Christmas dinner but it also retains vitamins in the food whilst doing so and therefore keeping meals healthier. That’s definitely an excuse to pig out on loads of desserts…right? Oh, and if you’re looking to make a dessert with in the combination microwave oven too, you can and there’s a whole selection of recipes for this here. Not that I’m trying to encourage you to eat your body weight in food this Christmas or anything like that (I totally am).

Panasonic Roast Potatoes

*This post has been sponsored by Panasonic. All images have been taken from The Ideas Kitchen.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been trying to get myself into the habit of a daily skincare routine. My skin is a funny old thing. Some days it’s horribly dry, some days I wake up with a face full of spots and unfortunately, there’s no happy medium. In an attempt to solve this and have the beautifully clear skin that my 13 year old self had, I’ve invested in some skincare items from Clinique including the Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief Cream.

Cleanser always tends to dry my skin out and I’ve really struggled to find a moisturiser that doesn’t leave my skin feeling greasy. That is until I discovered Moisture Surge.

This cream is a gel which means that unlike most moisturisers, the greasy feeling is non-existent. It feels amazing on your skin from application and leaves an almost matte feeling on the skin and trust me, it feels great. I have to admit, the £34 price tag left me feeling a little apprehensive, especially with Christmas shopping underway and my bank account feeling sorry for itself. However, this product is genuinely such a game changer that I will happily pay £34 again, and again, and again.

After application, my skin feels so soft all day. Like, legit until I wash my face again in the evening. I know, I know, it does sound unbelievable but I’m telling the truth. I’ve been raving about this product to everybody I know since I started using it and it takes a lot for me to love a product that much.

Moisture Surge 1 Moisture Surge 2 Moisture Surge 3