Check yourselves in for festive fun at Hotel Chocolat

Hotel Chocolat chocolate Christmas tree

We’ve been busy doing lots of Christmas-themed posts in the past couple of weeks. So much so that we need to give our own Christmas plans a little more attention maybe – especially on the Yuletide gift front.

Hotel Chocolat packaging | H is for Home

We’ve just been sent a beautiful chocolate parcel by Hotel Chocolat and it got us thinking… chocolate has to be the best foolproof Christmas present ever. We’re don’t know the exact percentages involved, but surely there aren’t many people who don’t like a bit of chocolate! In fact, in all my years, I’ve only ever met one person that doesn’t like chocolates… and I think they were just in denial! You can be pretty confident that a present involving chocolate will be a big hit with most people.

Christmas Hotel Chocolat

The standard newsagent bar of chocolate is fine for everyday consumption however, at Christmas you want something just a little bit special – whether it be superior quality, creative flavours or festive themes & packaging. Fortunately, Hotel Chocolat has built it’s reputation on fulfilling all three.

Hotel Chocolat Christmas stocking | H is for Home

Chocolate is the perfect gift idea for grown ups and for children. Kids especially like the fun shapes, novelty packaging, exciting flavours and quirky twists on a Christmas theme. The chocolate parcel stocking we received contains some lovely little treats including creamed caramel puddles, a sleigh team and Santa on a stick!

Children's chocolate from Hotel Chocolat | H is for Home

The kids’ section on the Hotel Chocolat website contains a myriad of chocolate-themed Santas, snowmen, robins, penguins, snowflakes, puddings and the like. We’re looking forward to trying our novelty reindeer/ we enjoyed sampling our novelty reindeer, but perhaps most grown ups will be looking towards more sophisticated options.

Hotel Chocolat & Prosecco gift box

The classic champagne & chocolate springs to mind. A variety of choices are available on this front. There are other boozy options too including gin, Prosecco or even beer & chocolate collections. Or how about incorporating the chocolate into the drink itself with delicious salted caramel cocoa vodka?

Hotel Chocolat wreath box

There are things for the whole family to share – such as Christmas crackers, advent calendars and tree decorations. There are hampers too with something for everyone to enjoy. Some of the hampers and boxed collections are so attractive that they’d make a wonderful centrepiece display for those festive get together meals and parties.

Hotel Chocolat subscription box

The Hotel Chocolat website is a joy to browse – full of tempting choices for all occasions. Chocolate is wonderful gift for Christmas, however – Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day and anniversaries provide plenty of other chocolatey opportunities too!

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Caprissimo Coffee is full of beans!

1 kilo bags of Caprissimo coffee beans | H is for Home

What’s the first thing that you do when you wake up in the morning? Check your phone? Turn on the TV? Ours is make two cups of coffee. No, I tell a lie – the dog wouldn’t leave us in peace if we didn’t feed him first!

1 kilo bags of Caprissimo coffee beans: Fragrante and Belgique | H is for Home

So, it was a no-brainer saying yes to The Coffee Mate when they offered us the opportunity to review their Caprissimo Fragrante and Caprissimo Belgique coffee beans.

1 kilo bags of Caprissimo coffee beans: Fragrante and Belgique | H is for Home

Caprissimo ‘Fragrante’ is a medium-dark roasted blend of two kinds of Brazilian beans. “warm aroma with nutty, buttery and chocolate sweetness”. The Coffee Mate website suggests it has an “aftertaste of slightly bitter walnuts” – we’d agree. When we tried it, it was reminiscent of the hint of oak you can get at the end of a sip of red wine. That will simply be a matter of preference for fellow coffee drinkers out there.

Our agreed favourite of the two Caprissimo Coffee types, ‘Belgique’ is a combination of 80% Arabica & 20% Robusta coffee beans. Also medium-dark roasted, it’s described as  having a “syrupy consistency… if made correctly, a hard body & strong aroma – with dark chocolate and sweet caramel finish”. Again, we picked up on these characteristics. In fact we’ve just had a lovely cup served alongside our pancakes with maple syrup!

Cup of freshly brewed coffee, coffee beans and coffee grinder | H is for Home

We prefer to grind our own beans because it makes for a better cup. We use an electric grinder that Justin bought me a few years ago. However, if you like the look of the manual one pictured here, we have vintage examples available in our shop.

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A Grand Hamper from Clearwater Hampers

The Grand Hamper from Clearwater Hampers | H is for Home

We’re well into thinking about Christmas now. Festive decorations have started to go up, we’re pencilling in dates to meet up with friends & family, cards and presents have been bought (well, some of them at least)…and we’ve just started picking up all those special food & drink treats. We buy them gradually in various markets and shops – whatever catches our eye – and display them in baskets on a table next to the tree. It’s a lovely sight – and a tempting one too! We’ve just been given an early boost to our haul with this Grand Hamper sent by the lovely folks at Hampers.com. The attractive wicker basket contains a very nice selection of classic Christmas goodies.

Champagne and chocolates in the Grand Hamper from Clearwater Hampers | H is for Home

For starters, many people’s idea of the ultimate treat – champagne & chocolates. Specifically, Autreau Roualet Brut NV Champagne and Hamlet Gold Box assorted chocolates. Will we have the bubbles at breakfast or for a pre-dinner aperitif… decisions, decisions!

Smoked salmon and Serrano ham in the Grand Hamper from Clearwater Hampers | H is for Home

Or perhaps the champagne will be sipped alongside smoked salmon or cured meat canapés – another delicious option. The hamper contains both traditional Scottish smoked salmon and Spanish Serrano ham.

Cheeses in the Grand Hamper from Clearwater Hampers | H is for Home

Next we have some fabulous extra mature cheddar – Black Bomber from Snowdonia in Wales – great name and a great cheese. And what better to accompany it with than the Tracklements damson cheese? This tangy chutney works well with all manner of cheeses. Perfect with pies or the Christmas ham too.

Crackers and shortbread biscuits in the Grand Hamper from Clearwater Hampers | H is for Home

And of course, your cheeseboard will be needing cheese biscuits too. This luxury selection has a variety of textures, flavours and bakes contained within – they’ll work well with those party dips. And sweet biscuits get a look in also with these luxury chocolate and toffee shortbreads. A cup of tea and a shortbread for those little quiet moments in amongst all the Christmas madness perhaps.

It’s a fabulous selection of items – a perfect present to yourself or a loved one. We’re certainly looking forward to ours!

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Sponsored: Guest bedroom essentials

Guest room basket | H is for Home
In less than a month, you may be amongst the millions around the world who’ll be hosting friends and family members for Christmas festivities.

Guest bedroom welcome basket | H is for Home

How do you go about preparing for the imminent arrivals? Giving the house a top-to-toe deep clean, changing all the bedding and stocking up on extra food & drink will be the first things on our ‘to do’ list.

Guest room basket | H is for Home

Luckily, we have a couple of spare bedrooms where people are accommodated and we like to make our guests’ stay as comfortable as possible.

Guest room basket | H is for Home

A welcome basket filled with guest bedroom essentials is a thoughtful gesture that visitors will always appreciate and remember. Here are a few items you could include:

  • fluffy towels
  • bathrobe / dressing gown
  • bedroom slippers
  • toothbrush & toothpaste
  • soap
  • moisturiser
  • eye mask
  • ear plugs
  • pain killers

This Zeller bamboo basket from Wayfair is the perfect way to attractively hold and display the various items that you’ve chosen for your welcome pack.

You could also consider books, magazines and reading material relating to the house or local area. Place a vase of pretty, fragrant flowers on the windowsill. Leave a glass & carafe of water, box of tissues and a note with your wifi network password on the bedside table.

Wifi password on a notepad

What would you include in your basket of guest bedroom essentials?

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Tasty treats from Webbox

Collection of treats from Webbox from their natural and Christmas ranges | H is for Home

When it comes to most things H is for Home, Fudge shows little or no interest in proceedings. However, the arrival of a box of tasty treats from Webbox, meant that he suddenly wanted to get involved!

Fudge enjoying some of his treats from Webbox | H is for Home

We started by asking for his feedback on their premium fresh chicken with garden vegetables. He was too busy eating to talk, but we got the distinct impression that he approved. It’s made from 100% natural ingredients  – easily digestible protein, vegetables, beneficial herbs, mineral rich seaweed and slow-release carbohydrate energy in the form of brown rice – a complete food that provides just about everything required for a well-balanced diet.

Fudge enjoying some of his treats from Webbox | H is for Home

A sample of the little snacks followed. The flavour combinations are very exciting – for example, the healthy treat bars – chicken with pea & blueberries and chicken with duck & cranberry. Something a bit out of the ordinary for our canine cousins. Delicious was the verdict again!

Collection of treats from Webbox from their Christmas range | H is for Home

We’ve held some of Fudge’s hamper back so he has something to enjoy on Christmas Day. He’s got a three bird roast turkey kibble, pork chipolatas and ‘pigs in blanket’ treats too. A glass of wine and he’ll be sorted!

It never ceases to amaze us the speed at which Fudge can demolish a bowl of food. You’d think we starve him, but we can guarantee that’s far from the case. We always get the, “is there any more please?” look. Thanks to Webbox there’ll indeed be more to follow in the coming days!

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Make your own soap

Win a Soap Kitchen Christmas melt & pour soap making kit with H is for Home

I was never very good at science subjects at school; I couldn’t get my head around physics and chemistry especially. I enjoyed doing the practical experiments – adding one substance to another to make a solution – it’s very much like baking. However, reading in a text book that combining H2O with NaOH causes a reaction that results in Na+ and OH- ions and lots of heat, was Greek to me.

Vanilla soap making kit from The Soap Kitchen | H is for Home

Fast-forward 30-something years and I’ll now always remember that particular little nugget of chemistry. H2O (water) and NaOH (caustic soda) are essential ingredients in soap making.

Tools needed for DIY soap making | H is for Home

Add them to vegetable oil with a dash of essential oil, whisk it all up… and magic happens!

Caustic soda and water solution Liquid soap | H is for Home

Pour the resulting custard-like liquid into your mould or moulds, allow it to cool slowly for 24 hours and you get your lovely bars or block of soap.

Soap hardening in a cardboard mould | H is for Home

The Christmas melt & pour soap making kit that we’re giving away contains moulds in the shapes of a Christmas tree, gingerbread person, reindeer, Santa Claus and an angel. As this kit doesn’t include caustic soda, it’s suitable for use by children with adult supervision.

Slab of home-made vanilla soap | H is for Home Sliced slab of home-made vanilla soap | H is for Home

I really enjoyed making my own soap for the very first time. Having the kit with all the ingredients pre-portioned meant that it was really easy and I was confident embarking upon the strange chemistry & alchemy! I now have the courage to buy all the ingredients in larger quantities and try out other oils and fragrances.

Wrapping hand-made vanilla soap | H is for Home

Some of the bars of vanilla soap I’ve made have now been wrapped up in tissue paper and tied with string ready to be stocking fillers for friends & family.

The Soap Kitchen melt & pour soap-making kit

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