Goupie Christmas Chocolate Box Worldwide Giveaway

Firstly, I would like to say a big thank you for all the kind words you’ve sent about my upcoming book launch and to everyone that’s preordered. I’ve been blown away by your kindness and generosity ❤️ The book is being printed in London next week, so it won’t be long until you can get your hands on a copy. So exciting!!! The 20% preorder discount is running until 31st October so, if you’re interested in purchasing a copy for yourself or as a gift for a loved one, check out this post for details.

To celebrate the launch of my book, I’ve got some fantastic events lined up over the coming weeks, starting today with a giveaway that involves chocolate… boxes of handmade vegan Christmas chocolate no less! My family loves Goupie. In fact, Lil’ L proclaims it to be one of his favourite chocolates ever! This is one giveaway that you definitely won’t want to miss out on.

Goupie Christmas Box

For today’s post, I’m handing over to Grace from Goupie, who’s going to tell us more about the business and its origins, as well as details of our worldwide giveaway…

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Easy Vegan Mince Pies

When it comes to mince pies, for me, nothing beats home-made. Sure, my pies won’t be uniformly shaped and coloured like the factory-produced ones. And my stars are usually a little wonky. But hey, they taste REAL. Once you’ve tried home-made, I don’t think you’ll ever go back to shop-bought again.

If you’ve never baked your own mince pies before, you must give it a try. They’re incredibly easy to make. Even the pastry is a breeze.

Easy Vegan Mince Pies

The recipe I’m sharing today is for mini vegan mince pies. The size makes them perfect for serving with an ‘elevenses’ coffee or afternoon tea during the festive holidays. They’re small enough to not spoil your appetite, however, if you do fancy a second, you can tuck-in guilt-free as at least two minis is equivalent to one regular size pie.

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Orange Spiced Hot Chocolate (Dairy-free / Vegan)

For my last recipe of the year, I thought I’d share one of our favourite Winter drinks – Orange Spiced Hot Chocolate. It’s really easy to make and tastes amazing!

I love the chocolate and orange flavour combo, especially this time of year 
How about you? 

Orange Spiced Hot Chocolate

You can buy ready-made orange flavoured hot chocolate blends, but I find they often contain a lot of cane sugar. I don’t tolerate cane sugar well these days (especially in drinks) and just one cup of the shop-bought blends can leave me feeling queasy for a good hour or so, which is no fun at all :/ My sweeteners of choice for this drink are coconut sugar or maple syrup. Both add a delicious caramel-like sweetness to the drink.

This winter, my preferred milk for this drink has been Oatly. Just a few seconds of whisking produces the most amazing froth! I buy the long life ‘Ambient’ cartons that are fortified with calcium, riboflavin, D2 and B12 (the one in the blue carton).  The Oatly milks contain very low levels of gluten so, if you’re super sensitive to gluten, it would be best to use another milk such as soya, almond, rice or coconut drinking milk. I’ve used all of them, and they all work well in this drink. It’s just that some are thinner, and some froth better. All taste good though!

Orange Spiced Hot Chocolate

 Have a wonderful Christmas everyone
I look forward to catching up with you in 2015!

 

Light ‘Bulbles’ Christmas Crafting

One of my favourite things about Christmas is seeing all the trees lit and decorated. As we head towards the Winter solstice on the 21st, the days are getting shorter and shorter. A Christmas tree is such a wonderful way to brighten up the living room and give it a warm, cheerful glow.

Christmas Decorations

One of our favourite activities this year is Christmas Tree spotting where we get points for each tree on the walk to and from town. It sure does make the journey quicker for Lil’ L!

Christmas Decorations

This year, we decided to buy a real tree again. I absolutely love the smell of real Christmas trees! As is traditional in our house, the boys fetched the tree and decorated it to surprise me. It looks utterly beautiful! It’s covered in white lights, a couple of strings of gold tinsel, and gold and red baubles. There are a few fun decorations that we’ve collected over the years, like this cute Santa…

Christmas Decorations

But I was surprised to find that there were a couple of new additions to the tree…

Santa Lightbulb

Snowman Lightbulb

Aren’t they sweet? Every time I look at them, they make me smile so much!

It turns out that the boys made them from old lightbulbs that they found in the garage! A few weeks ago, we were invited to take part in a competition by LightBulbs Direct to turn old dud lightbulbs into Christmas decorations. The boys love crafts, so they were definitely up for the challenge (I love admiring other people’s creations as sadly I can’t draw or craft for toffee :/)

Here’s my hubbie to explain how he & Lil’ L made them…

Lightbulbs. I don’t know why it never occurred to me before that they’d make great Christmas baubles. And there are so many different ways to decorate them; paint, glitter, marker pens…

But what about the design? A nice pattern of holly, reindeers and Christmas trees? Something sparkly? No. For me, there are two things that a classic lightbulb naturally lends itself to being. Two things that share the same bulbous, curvaceous profile and shout Christmas. It’s obvious, isn’t it? OK, maybe not. I’m thinking of snowmen and the rotund figure of Father Christmas…

A little bit of white spray paint and a lightbulb is already practically a snowman. Paint a bayonet fixing black and you’re halfway to a classic snowman top hat, it just needs a brim. A couple of googly eyes, buttons and a scarf and you’re there. Unmistakably a snowman, straight out of a Christmas card.

Add some red paint and you’re headed in another direction. Choose a bulb with a screw fitting and this time you’re well on your way to a bobble hat. White beard, cheeky grin, a nice big black belt and there he is. Santa!

I enjoyed doing these with littl’un. Nice bit of Christmas crafty fun. And now the Christmas tree has got a few more decorations hiding in the branches. Next year we’ll bring them down from the loft with the other decorations and we’ll remember making them. A fun reminder from Christmas 2014.

Happy Christmas everyone and Best Wishes for the New Year, M&L, Bath, UK

The competition ends at midnight tonight! Good luck boys xx

Lil’ L’s Super Sleigh Bed

While I’m far from ready for Christmas, there is someone in my house that’s all geared up and getting very excited indeed. This weekend, Lil’ L’s been busy rehearsing for his part in the school pantomime (he’s playing one of the seven dwarfs), and he also got to work transforming his bed into a ‘Super Sleigh’!

He was recently invited to take part in a competition by Mattress Online and, after initially concerned that he might be getting too old for this kind of thing, he had a complete change of heart when he woke one morning brimming with ideas of how he could turn his bed into a sleigh. He couldn’t wait to start sketching his plans. Breakfast could wait.

Sleigh Bed Plans

This weekend, he got to turn his plans into reality. There was lots of cardboard cutting, followed by spray painting of the sleigh and stars.

Sleigh Bed - Paint Spraying

As he was spraying the stars, he realised he could used them as a template for spraying on the sleigh itself.

Sleigh Bed - Paint Spraying 3

It was a pretty cool effect!

Sleigh Bed - Paint Spraying 4

Next he got to work making cardboard reindeer, which he based on his sketches.

Sleigh Bed - Drawing 2

Once his sleigh was dry, it was a case of tying it to the side of his bed…

Sleigh Bed - Assembling 1

… and tying on the reindeer and tinsel.

Sleigh Bed - Assembling 2

I love the shadows they create on his wall. If you tap the tinsel, it looks like they’re flying and dancing.

Sleigh Bed - Assembling 3

All assembled, it was time to fly!

Sleigh Bed - finished

Here’s Lil’ L to explain how his ‘Super Sleigh’ works…

“My super sleigh has massive rocket boosters on it that can make it travel at the speed of light. The boosters and the steering are controlled by a small remote control which fits into a pocket on the side of the sleigh so I don’t lose it. At the back is a sack full of presents, blankets to keep warm on a cold night and plenty of food. The sleigh has a button that makes santa and the sleigh invisible so that no one can see it. The reindeers also disappear.

The sleigh has a clock which tells the time of day or night wherever the sleigh is so it always arrives on time. It also tells the temperature so Santa knows when to get the blankets out. The sleigh can land on any size roof, even really small ones and doesn’t need snow. The sack is magic and can hold thousands of presents. There is room for a few elves to help out. When all the presents have been delivered I can go to sleep because it’s also a bed”.

and on building the sleigh….

“I built the sleigh out of bits of cardboard that i taped together to make a really big piece. Then i drew a sleigh shape and cut it out with some help from my Dad. I then sprayed the sleigh red and did some swirly patterns on it to make it more interesting. I cut out some stars and used them as stencils for spraying. I like the way they came out. They look like magic dust and stars under the sleigh. I attached the sleigh to my bed with some zip ties.

I looked up some pictures of reindeer on the internet and then i drew an outline on cardboard and cut them out. There are three that pull the sleigh along on a bit of red tinsel. The reindeer at the front has a red nose. That one is Rudolf.

I really enjoyed making my sleigh and I’m going to keep it for the whole of Christmas so that I can sleep in it every night. I’ve never had Christmas decorations in my bedroom before and i think they look really good!”

Sleigh Bed - finished 2

The competition closes on Wednesday 17th December.

Good luck Lil’ L!

Dairy Free / Vegan Advent Calendars – Top Picks for 2014

Once again, Christmas has sneaked up on me. I thought I’d misheard someone this morning when they said it was 5½ weeks until the big day. Seriously, how did that happen? I really need to get myself organised, make some lists, start thinking about gifts and festive foods. However, first things first… we need to get some advent calendars. Preferably one each, and definitely chocolate calendars. What a wonderful excuse to have to eat chocolate every day for a whole month 😉

There seems to be more choice than ever this year of dairy-free / vegan calendars and especially calendars designed for children, which is really lovely to see. These calendars use rice milk instead of dairy, and are suitable for any milk chocolate lovers.

Whether you’re a milk or dark chocolate lover though, I have a wonderful selection for calendars for you. Here are my top picks for 2014…

For the Milk Chocolate Lovers

Moo Free Organic Dairy Free Advent Calendar
This award winning calendar is made in the Moo Free dairy free UK factory, and is filled with organic, fair-trade, dairy free rice milk chocolate. A full list of UK and worldwide high street and online stockists can be found here. It’s great to see that Moo Free has made it all the way across the globe to Australia and New Zealand!

120g / RRP £4.75

Moo Free Advent Calendar 2014

Holland & Barrett Dairy Free Alternative to Milk Chocolate Advent Calendar
These calendars are filled with organic, fair-trade, dairy free rice milk chocolate and come in two different cute designs, one blue and one pink.

125g / £3.99 (currently buy one get one half price)

Holland & Barrett Dairy Free Advent Calendar blue

Plamil Organic Fairtrade Milky Dairy Free Advent Calendar
This fun, brightly coloured dairy free milk chocolate advent calendar is made in the Plamil factory which never uses dairy, gluten or nuts. It’s available to buy directly from Plamil. You can get 10% off your first order by entering the code FIR14 at checkout.

125g Price: £4.95

Plamil Dairy Free Advent Calendar

Tesco & Sainsbury’s ‘Free From’ Calendars
It is really encouraging to see that UK supermarkets have started selling ‘Free From’ calendars made with rice milk. Hopefully more will follow suit in the future. So far I’ve spotted dairy free calendars in Sainsbury’s (72g / £2.69) and Tesco (72g / £3.25. Currently on a ‘3 for 2’ offer until 23/11/14)

Tesco Free from advent calendar

For the Dark Chocolate Lovers

And for the dark chocolate lovers, I have two beautiful high quality advent calendars.

Montezuma’s Organic and Vegan Dark Chocolate Advent Calendar
This calendar is filled with 240g of Montezuma’s organic house blended chocolate. New for 2014, each window has a picture behind it! It’s available from the Montezuma’s high street shops  and online.

240g / £9.99

Montezumas-Christmas-Advent-Calender

Hotel Chocolat Dark Chocolate Advent Calendar
This high quality, super stylish calendar is filled with 24 Christmas sculptures, including reindeer, snowmen, penguins and enchanted Christmas trees, cast in smooth 70% dark chocolate. It’s available from Hotel Chocolat shops or you can order online. If you’d like to send the calendar as a gift, a personalised message card can be included for free when ordered online. Use the code VNOV10 at the checkout to receive 10% off (expires 23/11/14)

125g / £12.50

Hotel Chocolat Dark Chocolate Advent Calendar Collage

 

Have you bought your advent calendar yet? If so, do you tend to go for a chocolate calendar or do you prefer the more traditional wooden or cardboard ones?