Gifts

Heathcote & Ivory's Salsa Silks Collection

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When you find a product that you love, there’s nothing better than discovering that there is a whole collection too. One that we are loving at the moment, is Salsa Silks by Heathcote and Ivory. We’re no strangers to this brand at The Amazing Blog, having featured their Vintage & Co. Baubles & Belles Festive Bath and Body Tin in our Gifts for Her feature in December. The Salsa Silks collection is vibrant, and contains three scented gifts (for a loved one, or yourself) encased in elegantly decorated packaging, and inspired by the colourful rhythms of salsa. Intrigued? We were too.

As a brand that embraces the world of interior design and the great British outdoors, Heathcote & Ivory are known for their mix of bright colours and floral patterns, in both vintage and modern styles. The Salsa Silks Collection is no exception, containing only the finest essential oils and actives, it is a luxury collection, without a luxury price tag.

The first product that we tried, was the Hand Wash. This vitamin E infused product helps to cleanse and purify, releasing the energising scents of lime, lotus flower and cedarwood. The uplifting essential oils of lemon and sweet orange really make it feel like a spa retreat at home, and the luxurious formula left our hands feeling soft and nourished. We were also pleased to discover that it didn’t leave our hands feeling dry, something we struggle with at this time of the year.

Secondly, we tried the Heart Soap In A Tin. This lovely triple-milled soap is presented in an embossed heart-shaped tin, and is blended with shea butter and glycerine, helping to gently cleanse and soften your skin. Additionally, and thanks to the beautiful packaging, this isn’t only a pleasure for your skin, but also gives your bathroom a touch of design sparkle. Gone are the days of a boring block of soap on the sink.

Finally, we were also pleased to discover that this collection contains a Lip Gloss. Delivered in a smaller heart-shaped tin, this moisturising peach lip gloss is made of beeswax and olive extracts, helping to keep your lips perfectly soft and, most importantly, kissable. The soft peachy smell of the pink glittery gloss is also a highlight, taking away the often chemical smell of other lip glosses on the market. It is also nourishing and less sticky than competitor glosses, something we’re thankful of!

To try this collection for yourself, check out the Heathcote & Ivory website here where you can find the Hand Wash for £9 (320ml), Heart Soap In A Tin for £6 and the Lip Gloss for £5. Perfect for a February birthday or as a treat for yourself.

SNiPH's Perfume Subscription Service

With February 14th fast approaching, you might be thinking about purchasing a little something for a loved one this Valentine's Day? Whether that's the case, or you're just looking to treat yourself, we’d like to provide a little bit of inspiration for you, here at The Amazing Blog. We like to gift perfume, but knowing exactly which fragrance to choose can be a bit of a minefield. This is where SNiPH comes to the rescue with their subscription service providing a plethora of different scents to choose from. The brand shares our belief that finding new fragrances can sometimes be overwhelming, so we were excited (and grateful) to discover that they have done the work for us.

By sampling vast amounts of scents from around the world, they then cleverly curate them altogether. Founders, Tara and Lisa wanted to make the world of fragrance a less intimidating one, offering to help us to discover new scents that we would perhaps not initially choose. The system is a simple one, either pick from their online shop (here) or subscribe to their monthly box, where you will have a monthly surprise delivered directly to your doorstep. Either way, you'll find a comprehensive selection of fragrances on the SNiPH website. They offer their 'Top Lists' for Men, Women and Unisex fragrances, which is brilliant for helping us to choose from the vast number of choices. We found this very helpful!

OK so let’s tell you what we tried. Firstly, the Biehl Parfumkunstwerke - PC02 EdP, a fruity and sweet fragrance from German fragrance company, Biel Parfumkunstwerke. We were surprised by the staying-power of this scent, a sweet yet spicy aroma that gently lingers. As with all fragrances, this perfume came with a fragrance card, which is very beneficial for helping to explain this complex notes of the fragrance to others. We received this as an 8ml atomiser, in a very stylish and sleek SNiPH branded black metal case, for £18. That said, you can purchase it without the case, or in a full size bottle (100ml) for £139.

The other fragrance we tried was Histoires de Parfums – This is Not a Blue Bottle 1/.2 EdP This instantly became one of our favourites at The Amazing Blog. It is a delicious, versatile and refreshingly light fragrance. Some of us here are particular fans of vanilla, so the further additions of ylang-ylang and pink pepper only further heighten our delight with this fruity and floral scent. Sourced from the famous French perfume house: Histoires de Parfums, we think that this perfume is something quite special. We also received it in the SNiPH black metal case (once again for £18, see here). After researching this perfume on their website, we saw that it also comes in a beautifully graphic and colourfully decorated bottle, as a rather appropriate named: 'This is Not a Blue Bottle'. Making it perfect for gifting, the full 60ml bottle is available here for £85.

Now if you're thinking, this all sounds great but I still have no idea which one to gift, don’t fret. SNiPH have recognised this inevitability, providing the option of gift cards (see here). Available for three, six and twelve-month subscriptions (ranging from £40-£130). All your recipient will need to do is choose a theme, and SNiPH will do the rest. They will receive a specifically chosen scent every month (within an 8ml case as photographed above), with free shipping and the option to cancel or pause anytime. What better way to gift the gift of fragrance!

Cudié Chocolates

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Want to know one of our simple pleasures in life? Chocolate. We can’t get enough of it at The Amazing Blog! Who cares if you had a healthy breakfast, or which strict New Year diet you’re following, it would be rude not to indulge in a few sweet treats once in a while. We recently discovered Cudié, a company that have produced family made chocolate since 1946. Based in Vilafranca del Penedes, Spain, all recipes are a family secret - with a plethora of products, from pralines, to Marconi almonds, premium chocolates and catanies (a combination of nuts and chocolate, signature to Cudié). We therefore couldn’t wait to try the brand - all in the name of research of course!

Among the range of sweet treats, Cudié offer collections of assorted delicatessen chocolates. We tried their Mediterranean Tiles chocolate box, consisting of 6 delicious and gourmet chocolates - perfect as an evening treat, with a cup of tea (or glass of red wine). These chocolates come encased in a stylish black box, with a vibrant pink sleeve. Each chocolate is delicately decorated, with rose, coffee, salt, orange, cinnamon and hazelnut flavours to choose from. Our favourites were the coffee and cinnamon flavours. The coffee had a surprising depth of flavour, and we were thankful that it didn't have the stereotypically bitter flavour often prevalent in other coffee chocolates. The cinnamon flavour was also an interesting one, adding a bit of spice and warmth, and definitely one we weren’t expecting to like so much.

To buy a box of 6 Cudié chocolates for yourself, then click here. You will find the box available for 3,91€. Additionally, you can also buy boxes of 18 or 36 chocolates, we will certainly be purchasing a larger box next time! Click here to see the full range of Mediterranean Tiles.

Christmas Spirits

It’s just four days until the big day - our trees are up, the food is ordered, and both children and adults are suitably excited. However, if you’re like us at The Amazing Blog, then you may still be on the hunt for some last minute presents, or a few Christmas tipples to add to your festive drinks cabinet. For our final blog post of 2018, we bring you our top Christmas spirits, helping you to become a stellar host, whether that be for Christmas Day itself, or perhaps even for the New Year.

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Firstly, we came across Pedrino, the brand bringing Mediterranean flavours to the aperitif market. Taking inspiration from Spain, Portugal and Italy, Pedrino’s three tonics are the ideal gift for an aperitivo lover or a great addition to your dinner party drink’s cabinet. We tried all three - Sherry & Tonic, Ruby & Tonic and Vermouth & Tonic, and were pleasantly surprised by their light and refreshing nature. Thanks to their low alcohol content, at 5.5%abv, these drinks are perfect as a pre-dinner tipple; only strengthened by the use of all-natural and carefully proportioned ingredients.

While they are delicious when consumed on a hot summer’s afternoon, we found these tonics particularly apt for the Christmas period too. Given that sherry and port are often consumed in the colder and darker months, we were pleased to find a lighter alternative. All three are handmade with citrus botanicals, giving freshness and depth. Equally, only the best and award-winning fortified wines are used, alongside good quality tonic to ensure that your guests (and yourself) will not merely be given a watered down spirit. Our favourite? As port lovers, we loved the Ruby & Tonic, especially when drunk over ice and served with a garnish of lime. That said, it was hard to choose, and the other two closely follow. The bonus though, is that they need only to be served over ice (with a garnish if you’re feeling fancy). If this sounds just the tipple, then you can purchase these aperitifs from Waitrose at just £1.95 per bottle. Click here to see for yourself.

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If you’re more of a rum lover, then let us introduce The Duppy Share. Founded by George Frost, the brand brings the essence of the Caribbean back to London, with a focus not just on the Jerk seasoned food and reggae music, but on the nation’s love for rum. Made from a unique blend of fiery Jamaican rum and smooth Barbadian rum, this spirit is both bold and tropical. For those less inclined to go for rum, rest assured that this was a hit across the office, so much so that we were flipping coins for who could take the remainder of the bottle home! We’re also not the only lovers of this brand, as The Duppy Share was the official sponsor of the infamous Notting Hill Carnival in the summer, testament to the brand’s ethos and high-quality product.

The use of a traditional copper pot still gives the Jamaican rum its poignancy, aged in old white oak bourbon barrels and utilising the perfect weather conditions to increase the rate of ageing. On the other hand, the Barbadian method of continuous and pot still distillation gives notes of caramel - which when combined, gives this dark rum a deep, yet refreshing flavour. We like to drink this 3-year-old rum with the classic lime and soda, allowing the rich flavours to take over. However, for a more fiery approach, we also enjoyed it with a high-quality ginger beer and wedge of fresh lime. To bring the Caribbean to your Christmas, then visit The Duppy Share website here where you will find a 70cl bottle for £27.50. Alternatively, you will find this product in many good supermarkets, well worth the crowded rush!

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For many of us, the festive season means it's time for bubbles, so we were thrilled to discover Sparkle Drops. This brand brings a vast range of fruity flavourings to your alcoholic beverages - particularly effective when added to something bubbly. Adding a lovely shimmer to your drinks, these drops are equally effective when mixed with gin and vodka, also giving cocktails a little extra pizzaz.

We were fortunate to try two of their sets, the Unicorn Collection and the Gin Collection. The Unicorn Collection contains three 10ml bottles, with Golden Passionfruit, Blue Raspberry and Pink Cherry flavourings. Our favourite was the Golden Passionfruit, which is pleasantly fruity, and thanks to the gorgeous shimmer, will not look out of place on your festive dining table. That said, the other flavours were close contenders, the Blue Raspberry is particularly striking, and the Pink Cherry adds a pop of sweetness to drier proseccos.

Equally, as gin lovers, we were thrilled to try the Gin Collection. This consists of a further three flavours: Silver Elderflower, Green Lime and Rose Gold Rhubarb. It's difficult to choose a favourite here, but as the Rose Gold Rhubarb transported us back to our rhubarb and custard days at the local sweet shop, this perhaps edges above the others. That said, the Silver Elderflower adds a classic flavour to our standard G&T and the Green Lime brings a much needed citrusy zing to combat rich Christmas foods. To use either collection, add a couple of pipette-fulls to your glass, and top with something bubbly. Each bottle will make 6-8 125ml glasses sparkle, and they need not only be mixed with alcohol, as we found the Silver Elderflower worked particularly well with sparkling water. To add a bit of shimmer to your festivities, then visit the Sparkle Drops website here, where each collection is available for £10.

Finally, we discovered the perfect after-dinner tipple from La Mere Wine Estate. Based in Jersey, and established in 1972, La Mere provides heritage products with the use of local ingredients. The company is also established as a Green Tourism Gold standard attraction, in line with adhering to 20 specific actions, designed to promote sustainable tourism. These include controlling energy consumption and water usage, so we were intrigued to try their Jersey Apple Brandy Cream Liqueur.

Blended with the use of Jersey dairy cream from local island herds, the Jersey Apple Brandy Cream Liqueur also consists of locally distilled Jersey Apple Brandy - creating a deliciously creamy and rich combination. Thanks to the use of aged brandy, the flavour is warm and uplifting, ideal for the festive period. Equally, with the use of dairy cream, the texture is smooth and velvety, adding depth and thickness to this tipple. We found this is best enjoyed over ice, however, we’ve become quite partial to this liqueur when drizzled over a vanilla ice cream - perhaps it may even work well with Christmas pudding! To try the 17% ABV Jersey Apple Brandy Cream Liqueur for yourself, then click here, where you’ll find this tipple for £17.50.

So there you have it, four new brands to try this Christmas or New Year. Whether you’re looking for a pre-dinner aperitif, a warming rum, or an after dinner night cap, we’re sure you’ll find something to encourage a little extra festive spirit. As our last blog post of 2018, there is nothing left to do but put our out of office on, wish you all a Merry Christmas and grab a glass (or two) of something nice!

Christmas Food

We love the festive period at The Amazing Blog - the time for twinkling lights, mulled wine and time spent with loved ones. As if that’s not enough, Christmas is also the time for gourmet food choices, from the classic roast, to the after dinner cheese board. Tis’ the season for overindulging and treating ourselves, and with the New Year diet looming, it seems only right to make the most of the festive treats on offer. There are also few things we love more than to receive a selection of foodie treats on Christmas morning, so we thought, why not compile some of our favourites, so you too can give the gift of food!

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Firstly, we came across Cottage Delight, a brand based in the Staffordshire moorlands, bringing hand-crafted and innovative flavours to the condiments market. Established in 1974, the vast amount of experience helps the brand to lead the way in providing delicious additions to our meal (which more often that not, are even more delicious than the foods they are paired with). We were therefore excited to try their Gin & Fizz Set, compromising of two jams, a curd and marmalade - perfect to spice up any scone, crumpet or piece of toast.

Firstly, we tried the Raspberry & Prosecco Jam - a delectable treat to jazz up any morning. Made with 43g of fruit per 100g, this jam is characteristically tangy, but with a depth of flavour thanks to the addition of prosecco. Similarly the Lemon Curd with Gin has a zesty kick, yet an almost buttery texture that is not only indulgent, but also delicious. The addition of gin cuts through the tartness - ideal for any gin lovers in your life. For those who gear towards orange, the Marmalade with Gin has a fruity and juicy flavour - we love it spread across freshly made bread. Finally, for those who like a traditional strawberry jam, the Strawberry Jam with Marc de Champagne is a great option. Made with whole strawberries, this reminded us of our Grandma’s homemade jam. The champagne adds a luxurious aftertaste, solidifying this set as the ideal Christmas present. If that’s not enough, then the box itself is ready made for present giving, so there’s less hassle with wrapping, and more time to indulge in a glass of mulled wine (or two). Purchase a Gin & Fizz Gift Set here for £9.95.

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Secondly, for any chocolate lovers, we recommend Elements for Life. We tried their Yummy Scrummy Brownies not so long ago (see here), and more recently, their Raw Chocolate Making Starter Kit. Founded by Dan and Paula Knowlson, experts in raw chocolate, this brand continues to ensure products are suitable for vegans, diabetics and coeliacs, as well as those with lactose intolerances. This is something particularly difficult to find at Christmas, so we’re sure this set would be popular with anyone who suffers from a dietary requirement. That said, we all equally enjoyed this set, whether intolerant to common allergens or not.

The Raw Chocolate Starter Kit contains 100g raw cacao powder, 100g raw cacao butter, 100ml Sweet Freedom syrup and a reusable silicone chocolate mould. You can also choose your mould design, picking from the spiral swirls (which we went for), or the Valentine’s hearts. Using Peruvian Criollo raw cacao powder and butter, the ingredients are the best of the best, providing a rich and smooth chocolate that has a low GI. This makes it suitable for diabetics, furthermore displaying the inclusive nature of this brand. In terms of making the chocolate itself, we found the process incredibly easily. Simply melt the cacao butter, add the cacao powder and Sweet Freedom syrup and you’re done - pour into the moulds, pop them in the fridge and return to professional looking chocolates. To purchase a Raw Chocolate Making Starter Kit for £17.99, click here.

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Although we’re big sweet lovers at The Amazing Blog, we’re equally enticed by flavoursome and spicy dishes. For the spice lovers in your life, we present SteenbergsMediterranean Mini 8 Spice Box, a set packed with numerous spice blends, heavily influenced by the Arabic side of the Mediterranean. Having tried their Botanicals for Cocktails in October (see here), we were keen to try this set for ourselves - and can confirm that it will indeed be well received by any foodies in your family.

Founded by Axel and Sophie Steenberg in 2003, Steenbergs is passionate about providing top quality and organic spices, with over fifteen years of experience to draw from. You can therefore be safe in the knowledge that by gifting their Mediterranean spices set, you’ll be helping your foodie recipient to create delicious meals, with ingredients they can trust. This set compromises of organic tagine, ras al hanut, za’atar, organic harissa with rose, organic Italian herbs, organic Lebanese 7 spice blend, organic paella spice blend and organic chermoula spice blend - a vast array of flavours to create a multitude of dishes. Our personal favourites are the organic paella spice blend, which helps us to create an authentic taste of Spain, and the chermoula spice blend, which we were admittedly less familiar with - but now cannot be without. To purchase your own Mediterranean Mini 8 Spice Box for £15.99, click here.

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Finally, for something a little more luxury, we came across Haupt Lakrits, a Swedish liquorice brand aiming to bring gourmet products to the market. Having tried a variety of their products, we can confirm that these are far from the packet of slightly squashed liquorice wheels in your cupboard, but instead, provide a new take on a traditional classic. Even those less enthusiastic about liquorice were found sneaking these on our lunchbreak - testament to their scrumptious flavours.

Firstly, for those of us with a penchant for liquorice, SÖT (€9.00) proved to be popular. Thanks to being cooked for 8 hours and stored for 10 weeks, this liquorice is soft and sweet, and has a pleasantly chewy texture. Secondly we tried the Hallon (€9.00) flavour, liquorice dipped in 60% Belgian milk and dark chocolate and coated with raspberry and vanilla. These proved very popular amongst those will less of a liking for traditional liquorice, and we found they work well with rose wine. Thirdly, we tried the limited edition God Juhl: Merry Christmas (€11.00) jar. Coated in Belgian white chocolate and flavoured with a Swedish Christmas spice mix, this liquorice is undoubtedly festive, even covered in a glittery outer layer. Finally, we tried the slightly lighter God Helg: Happy Holidays (€11.00) liquorice. Dipped in Belgian white chocolate, the additions of lingonberry and saffron add sweetness, yet the fruity nature helps to cut the sickliness often associated with white chocolate. Like God Juhl, this Christmas edition liquorice is best paired with a glass of mulled wine. Visit the Haupt Lakrits website here to purchase your own liquorice delights - some flavours are also available as gift sets, smaller jars and refill packs.

So there we have it - four foodie treats guaranteed to put a smile on your receiver’s face. And if you’re thinking ‘I’ve already finished my Christmas shopping’, then why not treat yourself instead? After all, we think the festive period is the perfect excuse to indulge!