Hasslacher's Hot Chocolate Bar Review

Hot Chocolate is one of my favourite winter drinks but not the fancy kind you get from the well-known coffee chains. No, I'm definitely more of a Plain (Megan) Jane when it comes to hot chocolate, so the product itself has got to taste good!

Recently Hasslacher's got in touch to see if I wanted to try their 'Solid Bar' Colombian drinking chocolate* - an opportunity I definitely wasn't going to pass up on! What makes this gourmet hot chocolate bar unique is the fact it's 100% pure cacao, made in Colombia, where the finest beans are grown. The brand makes the entire product in the same country as the beans (a rarity these days) and buys the cacao beans directly from the farmers, helping to sustain the fair trade system in Colombia. Hasslacher's 'Solid Bar' hot chocolate is also the only food product in the UK that is hand wrapped in 100% sugarcane fibre, an unbleached by-product of the sugarcane industry.

Is it easy to make?

The process of making a Hasslacher's Hot Chocolate could not be simpler! All you need to do is heat your milk up in a pan, add two squares of the Cacao, let them melt in and then whisk until you get a light, creamy drinking chocolate. Because the drinking chocolate bar is made from pure cacao, which does not contain any sugar, you do need to sweeten it. For this, it's recommended that you use Hasslacher’s Single Estate Organic Panela,* (available from Sainsbury's) a sugar substitute that is 100% natural and unrefined and 100% ecologically produced. Simply sweeten to taste!

Does Hasslacher's Hot Chocolate taste good?

100% yes! I was really impressed with the taste of Hasslacher's hot chocolate. It was light, yet luxurious - just how i like it and I found it really easy to get the right amount of sweetness with the Panela. If hot chocolate is your winter drink of choice, I definitely recommend giving it a try! I made mine with semi-skimmed milk but if you wanted it a little more creamy, you could try whole milk or go all out and add a splash of double cream instead...(I'm definitely trying that later!)

Dairy-free & Gluten-free

Hasslacher's 'Solid Bar' Colombian Drinking Chocolate is 100% cacao, contains zero sugar, zero cholesterol and is both dairy-free and gluten-free. It is also suitable for both vegetarians and vegans. Everyone's happy!

Use in home baking

Seeing as you get a generous 32 squares per 250g bar of Hasslacher's drinking chocolate (and only need to use two per cup), I'm thinking of saving some to use in a home baking recipe this Christmas. Perhaps brownies, as they're my other half's favourite! I'll also be using the Panela as a sugar substitute. All being well, I'll share this on the blog at a later date. It'll be my first time baking brownies in the Rayburn at the new house though, so wish me luck!

An ideal stocking filler

If you know someone who loves their hot chocolate, why not treat them to a Hasslacher's drinking chocolate bar this Christmas? Priced around £5, it'd make a lovely stocking filler, along with a festive-themed mug.

Hasslacher's 'Solid Bar' Colombian Drinking Chocolate is available to buy from most large M&S stores, as well as many independent stores across the UK. Both the hot chocolate bar and Panela can also be purchased directly from the Hasslacher's website.

Is Hasslacher's Solid Bar Drinking Chocolate something you'd like to try?

Meg x
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5 Tips for choosing the Perfect Winter Wedding Guest Outfit

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Winter is a magical time of year, perfect for a wedding but with a drop in temperatures, the chance of rain and let's face it, even snow; planning the perfect winter wedding guest outfit can be a tricky task. Luckily for you, I've got a few tips to help you plan a practical winter wedding guest outfit that doesn't compromise on style.

1. Choose warm tones and deeper shades

In the spring and summer, pastel shades are an obvious choice but they don't work as well for winter wedding guest outfits. Instead, opt for warm tones and deeper shades like berry, emerald and plum. If it's a Christmas wedding, you can definitely choose an outfit with a little sparkle - just don't upstage the bride!

Black wedding guest dresses have long been considered a bit of a faux pas but this way of thinking is a little outdated. I personally don't think there's anything wrong with wearing black to a wedding, especially in the winter. Black is a classy, flattering colour that is also very versatile. Choose a black dress with a pattern if you're worried you'll look like you're going to a funeral or style it up with a few coloured accessories instead.
Debenhams Purple Velvet Dress £49.00 // New Look Floral Velvet Dress £25.00 // Ted Baker Pleated Velvet Dress £229.00

2. Select wedding guest dresses in heavier fabrics

Some wedding venues, like large churches, can often be cold, so be sure to select a dress made from a heavy fabric. Velvet is a lovely choice for a winter wedding guest dress. Not only is it a luxurious fabric but also one that will keep you warm. Velvet is on trend for A/W 2018 so you shouldn't have any trouble finding a wedding guest dress in this material, whether you're shopping high street or high end.

3. Consider a trouser wedding guest outfit

When choosing a winter wedding guest outfit, it's important to consider the venue and what will be deemed suitable attire. For example, somewhere like the Shrigley Hall Wedding venue in Cheshire, will require formal dress, whereas a more casual wedding guest outfit would be fine for a wedding venue like a country pub or restaurant.
River Island Velvet Jumpsuit £46.00 // Reiss Jumpsuit £225.00 // Lipsy Wide Leg Jumpsuit £65.00
Trouser suits are a great alternative to dresses in the winter and tick all the boxes, in terms of being smart, classy and formal. Alternatively, you could opt for a jumpsuit - dressing it up with your favourite pair of heels. Jumpsuits are very fashionable right now and come in all sorts of styles so you shouldn't find it hard to source one that is wedding guest appropriate.

4. Don't forget a coat or jacket

Part of planning the perfect winter wedding guest outfit involves picking out a dressy coat or jacket. After all, you don't want to get to the big deal, only to realise you don't have anything warm to wear over your new dress! Try on coats, capes and wraps to see what works best with your dress and what will keep you suitably warm - again think about the venue and how long you'll spend outside (for photographs or moving from the wedding to the reception.)
Miss Selfridge Court Shoes £32.00 // New Look Stiletto Heel Ankle Boots £20.99 // Zalando Heels £25.99

5. Pick winter-wedding-friendly footwear

Although open-toe, strappy sandals look lovely with occasion dresses, they're not the most suitable choice for a winter wedding. At the very least, opt for a close-toe heel to keep your feet warm or if comfort is key, a pair of stylish heeled boots. Heeled ankle boots look stylish with longer wedding guest dresses and jumpsuits, whereas knee-high boots work well with a shorter wedding guest dress. Again, just be sure to research the venue and the amount of walking you will be doing!

I hope you've found my winter wedding guest outfit tips useful. Feel free to comment below if you have any more suggestions.

Meg x
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My Experience of Postpartum Hair Loss

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Today's post is a bit of a throwback to 2016 because I want to talk about my experience of postpartum hair loss. It was a post I meant to write ages ago (I mean, Arthur's now three so the postpartum days are LONG gone) but I never really got round to it. Everyone always talks about body confidence after having a baby (learning to embrace the stretch marks and changes) and more and more people are now raising awareness of serious issues like postnatal depression, which is so important but something I don't hear a lot of mums talk about is postpartum hair loss, despite it being pretty common.

Now, by no means was my hair loss severe. When you think about people who have conditions like alopecia or have to go through intense chemotherapy treatment, my own hair loss was nothing to complain about. But it was noticeable and even though I didn't make a big deal about it, I remember it contributed to me not feeling so great about the way I looked and felt after having my son.

Hair changes in pregnancy

I think part of the reason postpartum hair loss can be a bit of a shock for new mums is that pregnancy hair is amazing for some. I don't think my hair had ever looked so good! I've always had quite fine hair (but a lot of it) and noticed that during pregnancy it felt a lot thicker. This is apparently due to the increased levels of oestrogen and androgen in the body when you're pregnant. They promote healthier-looking hair and prolong the growing stage, so there's less time for the hair to rest and shed.

Hair loss after you've given birth

Of course, after you've given birth and your hormones start to settle down in the months following, the oestrogen levels drop and the hair goes into its resting and shedding stages. I remember noticing that I was losing a fair bit of hair, more than I ever had before and it was particularly noticeable around my hairline, as you can see in the pictures. I think the fact I have quite fine hair anyway made it even more noticeable and although I can't say it made me feel overly self-conscious (after all, as a new mum all your focus is on your baby anyway), I think it was something that just added to the negative feelings I had about the way I looked. I think it's fair to say that as a new single mum, I had written myself off. Which is quite sad really and maybe a little bit dramatic, looking back but the good news is, everything got better!

Re-growth after Postpartum hair loss

As the months went on, I found that new hair was appearing around my hairline but it was different to the rest of the hair on my head. It was very wispy and would stick out at funny angles, which was annoying but at least it was growing back! I think by the time Arthur was 14-15 months it was hardly noticeable and the wispy bits were a little longer and therefore easier to manage!

Three years on and I think my hair looks pretty great. I don't think it grows as fast as it used to (and don't know if that has anything to do with the changes your body goes through after having a child) but there's no sign I ever experienced postpartum hair loss.

So if you're experiencing postpartum hair loss too or you're pregnant and worried about it happening, please know that it doesn't last forever and that it is perfectly normal. And although it feels rubbish at the time, you probably won't even think about it a few years on - unless like me, you look back at some old photos and think hey, I could write a blog post about that!

Postpartum Hair Loss Tips

There are some great tips for coping with hair loss here. I've also listed a few things below you can do (or in some cases not do) to help postpartum hair loss...

Scalp massage and exfoliation: Not something I tried but apparently daily scalp massages using just your fingers can help to boost blood circulation and stimulate the scalp. Exfoliation also removes dead skin cells and any build-up from the hair products you use, to encourage better hair growth.

Eat a balanced diet: What you eat can have an impact on hair health and growth. Protein-rich and iron-rich foods are good for nourishing the hair.

Wear your hair in soft styles: I did probably the worst thing I could do and scraped my hair back into a ponytail all the time. I just wanted it off my face and out the way but this could have done more harm than good and actually made the postpartum hair loss more obvious. Wearing your hair in softer styles (i.e. just wearing it down) means less tension on the strands. You can always use clips to get it off your face if you need to!

Don't avoid haircuts: Although cutting your hair may be the last thing you want to do when it's already falling it out, trimming it regularly can help to keep it healthy and promote growth. I had quite a lot chopped off and I think it was probably the best thing, as even though the wispy bits were obvious, it made the rest of my hair appear thicker.

Use less heat on the hair: We all know heat isn't good for the hair so if you are looking for ways to keep it healthy and promote better growth, it's best to avoid it altogether where possible. I hardly use heat on my hair these days (apart from blowdrying) and have definitely noticed improvements to it's overall condition.

Did you experience postpartum hair loss? Do you have any tips for other mums worried about it?
Feel free to share them in the comments below!

Meg x
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Christmas Letterbox Gift Cakes from bakerdays

Cake through your letterbox? Now that's definitely something I can get onboard with! So when the lovely team at bakerdays offered to send me one of their personalised Christmas letterbox gift cakes* to try, I could hardly say no could I? I mean, it'd be rude not to!
A good cake should not only look pretty but taste delicious too and I'm pleased to say the bakerdays cake ticked all of the boxes. It arrived packaged up in a lovely cake tin and padded cardboard box and was absolutely perfect to look at. There was so many lovely Christmas designs to choose from on the bakerdays website and even the option to upload your own photo but I went for the Snowflake Bauble cake - simply personalising it for my family with the words 'Love Meg x.' I think it was a lovely choice - the bold colours look really pretty printed on the tasty icing, which reminds me of classic birthday cake. Yum!
I opted for the traditional sponge cake - an all-round crowd pleaser but there were plenty of other delicious-sounding recipes to choose from including rich chocolate chip, lovely lemon drizzle, fabulous fruit, gluten wheat free sponge and dairy free sponge. The sponge was lovely and moist (a word I despise but the most fitting in this case) and the icing was super sweet - just how it should be. Orders come with a full ingredients list.
The 5 inch Christmas Letterbox Gift Cake (£14.99) is a great size, with plenty for the family. If you are looking to send a Christmas gift that's a little different, letterbox cakes definitely have the novelty factor and are sure to put a smile on the recipient's face. There are so many beautiful designs to choose from and the option to personalise the cakes makes them all the more special. Orders placed 5 days in advance come with free delivery and there are also options for next day delivery if you're after a last minute gift (£5.99).
I'm really impressed with my personalised Letterbox Gift Cake and highly recommend both the product and service from bakerdays.

Meg x
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