Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Donate a Charity Gift Pack This Christmas

 

Charity donation at Christmas

There are many charity appeals and requests for donations at this time of the year, and I would like to bring your attention to a worthy cause. It would be fantastic if you consider a donation.

This Christmas Leading Gift Retailer Thumbs Up has partnered with Great Ormond Street Hospital and The Salvation Army to create The 2020 Charity Gifting Appeal.

Christmas is a time for love, care, and compassion and Thumbs Up are aiming to spread some much-needed joy to those who are not as fortunate as ourselves. Thumbs Up aim to donate 2,000 presents to those who might otherwise not receive anything for Christmas. Thumbs Up have been bringing quirky products, toys, and gadgets to retailers large and small since 2004.


Each charity package is worth £30, and Thumbs Up are asking for people to contribute just £5 for the postage and packaging. 

This small donation will allow Thumbs Up to send one amazing gift package. Each package is full of presents and will be delivered to those in need, hopefully raising some smiles during the festive season.


There are 4 packs to choose from Teen Girls 12-17, Teen Boys 12-17, Male or Female 18+. For each £5 donation Thumbs Up will send a package worth £30.  


Visit Thumbsup.com to donate a package of your choice.


My younger son and I have chosen a package for a boy aged 12-17. 


If you can spare £5, please donate kindly! Thank you! 




Just for Christmas by Emily Harvale

Christmas chick lit

If you are looking for a cosy Christmas stocking read, look no further. Make a cup of hot chocolate, and snuggle up on a long winter night with a heart-warming festive book! 

Just for Christmas 

Could this be true love? Or is it just for Christmas? 

Finding an abandoned dog beside the road isn’t the Christmas surprise interior designer, Molly Ford is hoping for. But when the local vet can’t find a space for the bedraggled dog, Molly makes a rash decision.  

The problem is, she’s spending Christmas with her brother, Terence, and his girlfriend is allergic to dogs, so the bundle of wet fur, which Molly has named Miracle, might not be the only one needing a home this Christmas. 

And Miracle causes chaos wherever he puts his paws. He pees on the Christmas tree, shreds the Christmas presents and eats the honeyed ham. That’s just the first night.  

When Terence’s best friend, Chance offers Molly and Miracle a place to stay for Christmas, Molly is ecstatic. She doesn’t mind at all when he informs her there are strings attached. She’d rather like a festive fling with gorgeous Chance. 

Now Molly’s in for another surprise. Chance is about to pop the question. Except it’s not to Molly. In fact, he needs her help to get the dilapidated cottage he’s bought, all clean and sparkly in time for his girlfriend’s impending arrival on New Year’s Eve. 

But as Molly and Chance grow closer, spending time together beneath the stars in a winter wonderland and enjoying the Christmas festivities, they realise they have feelings for each other. 

Could this be true love? Or is it just for Christmas? 

 

Purchase Links  

 

Author Bio –  

Emily writes novels, novellas and short stories about friendship, family and falling in love. She loves a happy ending but knows that life doesn't always go to plan. Her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart. 
 
Emily loves to connect with her readers and has a readers' group in which many have become good friends. To catch up with Emily, find out about the group, or connect with her on social media, go to her website at www.emilyharvale.com. 
 
Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now writes full-time. She’s a member of the SoA, an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. When not writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows. Chocolate cake is often eaten. She dislikes housework almost as much as she dislikes anchovies - and will do anything to avoid both. Emily has two mischievous rescue cats that like to sprawl across her keyboard, regardless of whether Emily is typing on it, or not. 





Twelve days of chocolate giveaway (Ends 12 December 2020)

It's that time of the year again, my lovely blog readers! The 12 days of chocolate giveaway has now become an annual event, which I run from 1 December. Don't know about you, but I'm pretty excited about it. I enjoy choosing different chocolate bars for each day of the giveaway, as well as buying little bits and bobs to go with them. This is a kind of prize I'd be happy to win myself. 

Hope you will enjoy it as much as I do. There is over 1,400kg of chocolate to win (some bars are 150-180g)!

First of all, let me wish all my blog readers a stress-free Christmas and a happy new year! (and if you don't celebrate Christmas, you're welcome too, I'm wishing you a lovely festive season!). It's been a crazy year, filled with sadness and anxiety. Sending everyone a virtual hug!

I love chocolate, and this giveaway is my celebration of all things chocolatey.

Every day I will offer you a chocolate bar and a little something too, edible or decorative.

For 12 days I will be revealing a part of an overall prize, and each day there will be a new question.

As stipulated in the T&Cs below, the number of winners will depend on how many questions the first randomly selected winner will answer. If they answer all 12 questions, they get the whole lot. If they choose to answer less questions, they'll get less prizes, and the remaining part of the prize will go to the next randomly selected winner.

Day 1:
The first chocolate bar to be won is Tony's Chocolonely Almond Honey Nougat (180g) + a small sized Parks Black Magic candle (lavender, lilac, honeysuckle, hyacinth, pear & orange).

Chez Maximka, chocolate giveaway, advent giveaway


 
Question 1: Do you have a cherished family tradition from childhood (or the one you've established yourself for your kids)? If you don't celebrate Christmas, what do you usually do on the day?

In case you're curious, we didn't celebrate Christmas when I was a child. We celebrated the new year's eve in great style, partying until the early hours, visiting friends and neighbours and often going out to see the fireworks in the central square. One of my fond memories is of my Mum painting winter scenes on windows, with a snow maiden, frosty swirls and snowflakes. It was so pretty, and I loved it. I haven't done it recently, but think perhaps I should resurrect this tradition from my childhood.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

T&Cs:

The giveaway is open to the UK residents only.

Please leave your name or Twitter username in the comment if you login as Anon, or I will never know who has commented.

There will be one or more winners, who will receive all the goodies appearing during twelve days of the giveaway.
If the first randomly selected winner has replied to all twelve questions, they will receive the whole lot.
If the first winner answers less questions, they will receive the prizes only from the days they leave their reply.
The remaining prize(s) will be allocated to the next winner(s). Hope I don't have to send twelve different packages.

The more questions you answer, the bigger your prize will be.
Only one entry per person per day/question is allowed.

If you missed a day, you will have a chance to catch up on any other day until the end of the giveaway, as long as it comes in a SEPARATE comment.

Please note, if you answer 12 questions in one comment, it will count as 1 entry.

Once the winner is selected randomly, I will count their replies.
I will contact the winner, who will have 7 days to reply with their address details. Due to the nature of the prize which I hope to dispatch in good time before Christmas, the time limit to get back to me is shorter than usual.

All the prizes are provided by me, and are in no way sponsored by any brand.
This is my way of saying Thank you to my blog readers.

Previous winners are welcome to join in as well, you're not disqualified from winning again, if your name is drawn from the hat.

I will post the prize at my own cost.
If the winner's away when the parcel arrives and is not able to rearrange the redelivery, and if by some chance it is returned to me, please do not expect me to cover the cost of the postage again.
If that happens, the prize will be taken to the local food bank (foods) and charity shops (non-perishables).

I will send the parcel by Royal Mail, tracked and to be signed for.

Any personal data given (basically the winner's address details) will not be shared with any 3rd parties, and will be deleted after the prize is received by the winner.

The giveaway will end on the 12th of December at midnight.

Good luck!

Monday, 30 November 2020

Transformers, Ben 10, Paw Patrol Online Advent Calendar - Celebrate Christmas with Video Game Gifts from Outright Games

advent competitions

It's the most WON-derful time of the year! There is plenty of seasonal competitions around at this time of the year, especially the advent calendars and daily competitions, run by many brands. You might be busy with Christmas plans, but don't forget the advent competitions. 

May the comping fairy bring you joy, enthusiasm and lots of prizes!

Swipe Right PR have sent me a heads-up information about an online advent calendar organised by Outright Games, which parents with young gamers might find interesting. As a Mum of a son who enjoys gaming, I thought I will share the full details here.

 "Ho ho hello there! 

 Outright Games is taking over Santa duties this Christmas with an online advent calendar featuring festive fun for all the family, with video game gifts and surprises from some of the biggest names in entertainment including Transformers, Ben 10, Paw Patrol, Zoids and Trollhunters. 

 

Starting December 1st -24th on TwitterFacebook and Instagram, each day will unlock a new present for all the little gamers out there, whether they’re crafty or imaginative, we have activity sheets for everyone, from paper puppets to Xmas decorations.

 

Those that end up on the nice list, could be in with a chance to win a bigger prize, as part of seven competitions for digital and boxed copies of these recently released games:

 


These sound like lovely prizes, and I'm wishing everyone good luck!

Photo diary: week 48, project 366

 Melancholy seems to be a predominant mood of the last week. The weather is turning definitely wintery bleak, of course, not to the same extent, as for example, in Russia. I was talking to my Mum on the phone yesterday, and she said the local temperature was minus 16C. I forgot just how cold it can be in the parts where I grew up and spent half of my life. Soon it will get colder and colder, down to - 40Cs and even below.

There is a ray of sunshine in my life, who loves cracking jokes and who makes me smile. Of course, I share smiles and laughs with my elder boy too, but with his special needs, I'm often walking on the eggshells, not knowing which mood he is going to be in. He can smile happily one minute, the next get upset for some reason, known only to him. I love him to bits, but life could be very challenging.

Eddie and I were catching Pokemons on Sunday, giggling like conspirators on the way.

Chez Maximka, Harry Potter hat and scarf

Frosty morning on Monday - the grass in the fields was silver white. It was beautiful, but cold.

Chez Maximka, winter in Oxfordshire

Tuesday was the day of the finals at GBBO. Do we think the right person has won? I'm not sure. Perfect Peter is a decent baker, but I won't be rushing to buy his book when it comes out. I think the format of the show is getting tired and dated. The comic duo is highly annoying. And what was that super nonsense with the spoon that Noel insisted everyone should kiss? Total cringe, as my son says. 

Chez Maximka

Another frosty morning, and how beautiful the frozen grasses are in the fields. Such a pity my camera cannot give credit to the ethereal wonder of the zillions of ice sparkles. It was like walking in a fairy tale.

Chez Maximka, winter in Oxfordshire

I don't have any photos for Wednesday, so here are two snaps taken in Friday. More of the nature and my child, my constant sources of inspiration. And those who tolerate me taking photos of them, as Sash refuses to stand still, or would even turn away if I try to take his photo.

It was a non-uniform day at school, hence the jeans and red sneakers.

Chez Maximka, winter in Oxfordshire

We were running to school and admiring frozen spider webs on the way. The webs always fascinate me, so intricate, such craftsmanship and patience.

Chez Maximka, winter in Oxfordshire

On Saturday Eddie and I were at the playground again, when I had a very short message from my friend. It said that her Mum died. I immediately burst into tears. I knew my friend's Mum was in the hospital with double pneumonia, and was praying she would get better. My friend is also Russian, who lives here. Like me, she hasn't seen her Mum for over a year. I'm heartbroken for her, she cannot even go to the funeral. It's so tragic. Bloody covid, when will we get rid of it?! Will we ever?!

Christmas lights, Chez Maximka


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Sunday, 29 November 2020

Pukka Night Time

 

herbal tea, Chez Maximka

"Sleep is the best meditation", this quote is attributed to Dalai Lama. If he truly said that, then I bow to his wisdom. Insomnia and lack of sleep, whether stress-induced or due to family circumstances (looking after a baby or caring after a family member with disabilities and health conditions) could be a kind of torture. Even when everything seems to be quiet around you, you are so wired up, you keep turning and tossing in bed, expecting to be disturbed soon. There's nothing worse than looking at the clock, and counting how many hours are left until you have to get up.

Reducing a daily amount of caffeine (mea culpa) is one of the tips for better sleep.

Pukka Night Time tea is naturally caffeine-free and ethically sourced. It's a dreamy blend of oatflower, lavender and limeflower. Other ingredients include licorice root, chamomile flower, valerian root and tulsi leaf.

The blurb on the box says, "Nights can be long when you most need peace. Here is nature's perfect path to restful nights and vibrant mornings. A gentle crush of oatflower, soothing lavender and silky-sweet limeflower. Let rest begin and sweet dreams follow". 

Health benefits of this particular blend of herbs - reduction of stress and anxiety, and help with sleep - are a tempting call. Valerian acts as a natural sedative to ease tension and anxiety. Lavender flower, oatstraw flowering tops, chamomile flower and limeflower soothe, calm and ground your body and mind.

caffeine-free tea, Chez Maximka


This blend has a delicate sweet aroma, a mix of floral and woody, and a sweet mellow flavour. The colour is light, straw yellow.

Recently Pukka Tea has asked me to test Pukka Night Time and keep a sleep diary.

Apart from the sleep diary, they sent a plan of actions to improve the quality of sleep.

Day 1. Create the perfect sleep environment. One that's cool, dark and free from clutter.

Day 2. Protect your sleep space. Remove technology from your sleep space and avoid exposure to blue light from screens.

Day 3. Set a sleep pattern. Set a bedtime and waking time you can stick to every day, even at the weekends.

Day 4. Practise a relaxing sleep routine you love. Your relaxing routine can be as simple as reading a book, listening to a podcast, meditation or adding essential oils to your bath or bed.

Day 5. Cut down on caffeine. Caffeine can help kick-start our day but try to avoid it after 12pm to make it easier to unwind in the evening.

Day 6. Unwind with sleepy ingredients. Include foods that contain tryptophan, such as oats, dates, almonds and herbs such as chamomile, lavender and spices such as nutmeg.

Day 7. Introduce light and movement to your day. Aim to get outside in natural daylight for at least 30 minutes every day, ideally doing some gentle movement.

These tips, designed by Pukka Herbs, are a cumulative challenge, so each tip builds on the day before.

Very sensible suggestions. I am happy to follow most of them, except the advice of not having any caffeine after 12pm. For me that would be unrealistic. If I don't have a cup of strong tea or coffee after lunch, I would be falling asleep around the school run time. I need more energy than the caffeine-free drinks can offer. Ideally, I should not have any caffeine in the late afternoon, but often I have my last cup of black tea around 4pm.

I enjoy a cup or two of herbal tea most evenings, mint and chamomile being my favourites. Mint is a great palate cleanser and is great after dinner, and a cup of chamomile with a teaspoon of honey is what I crave before bedtime.

To help people ease into good sleep habits, in-house herbal experts from Pukka Herbs have designed a free 7-day sleep support programme. The aim of programme is to clean up bad sleep habits and establish a good routine.

I was curious to see how tracking my daily habits, as well as how well I'm sleeping will give me personal insights to help improve sleep.

This is what the diary looks like (you can download it from Pukka - see Sleep Diary Digital):

sleep diary

I enjoyed having a cup of Pukka Night Time at bedtime for a week, but I haven't noticed any drastic changes in my sleep patterns. To be fair, the sleep programme sounds good, and the messages are positive, but one should also take into account personal circumstances and levels of anxiety. There are just too many worries at the moment, what with the Covid, my son's mental health, Mum's health problems, not being able to see her for over a year, and you can see why I find it difficult to sleep.

I will keep having herbal tea at bedtime because I enjoy the taste, and aroma, and hope that natural herbs will give me that elusive peace of mind and restfulness.

Chez Maximka

In case you are wondering which Pukka Night Time I am talking about (there are two different versions), it is a blue grey box with teal leaves and pale lilac flowers.

Chez Maximka, herbal teas


Disclosure: I received a selection of herbal teas from Pukka for the purposes of testing and reviewing. All opinions are my own.

Winter skincare #BlogOnEpaderm

Chez Maximka, winter in Oxfordshire

 

Last week's weather definitely feels wintery - in the mornings when we open up the curtains and peek at the world outside, the tiles on the kitchen roof below our windows look silvery and sparkly. The plants in the garden are covered with a thin layer of ice crystals, as if dipped in sugar icing. All very pretty to look at, but it also means the heating is on most time of the day to keep the damp away.

Frosty, cold weather with blustery winds + heating and dry air indoors = a recipe for dry skin. My boys have always had delicate skin, which is affected by the cold in late autumn and winter. On top of that, with all the extra washing of hands and chemicals from hand sanitisers during the current pandemic, the hands appear dry, chapped and red.

Many people believe in the power of humidifiers. In the past I had a digital humidifier, but haven't noticed any difference after using it for a while. Perhaps we needed one in each room to see any effects?!

Drinking plenty of water to keep skin more supple is a good idea, and thankfully, my guys drink water without any issues. Some people need to be persuaded to drink more water (looking at you, Mum!). If you find it hard to drink plain water, adding a lemon slice or grated ginger and a few berries might entice you to increase your water intake.

Most crucial though is to use a good moisturiser on a regular basis. Keep a good hand cream or moisturiser by the front door, so that you won't forget to apply it before you go out. Every morning, just before the school run, I offer a cream to my sons. A quick rub over the hands, and we're ready to brave the elements.

Chez Maximka, winter in Oxfordshire

And when a simple moisturiser doesn't quite do the job, then send in the cavalry.

Epaderm range is suitable for kids of all ages. It is fragrance, colouring and SLS free and provides moisturisation for eczema, psorias and dry skin. It comes in different sizes - 50g, 150g and 500g pump bottles. I prefer to buy smaller bottles, and keep two in the house, one by the front door and one in the bathroom, for the evening application. 

Our bedtime routine - brush teeth, wash and dry hands, apply the moisturiser and then read in bed before switching off the lights.

Epaderm is recommended by doctors, and is the no.1 prescribed ointment in the UK (not in our clinic, we have never had it on prescription, but it is available in Boots, where we buy it).

Epaderm Cream could be applied in the morning and used throughout the day, as it is a lighter cream. Use it as a skin moisturiser and even skin cleanser. It is light and quickly absorbed, leaving the skin softer and smoother. 

For the night you might use the heavier ointment. If your child tolerates gloves, apply the ointment liberally and leave the gloves on overnight. You can also add it to a bath instead of soap and bath bubbles. The ointment is ideally suited for more affected areas of skin, prone to eczema. 

A few years ago, when my son's eczema has flared up after the school swimming lessons, and the skin on his body, especially legs and arms, was looking inflamed red, we used the ointment rather than the cream. We have been to the GP a few times, but the prescription medication didn't quite do the job. 

This year, the eczema is thankfully kept at bay. But as mentioned earlier on in the post the winter cold and frequent washing of hands at home and in school have stripped the delicate skin of the protective layers, and they began to look pretty sore. After a couple of weeks of applying the cream twice daily, we can notice the difference, the skin on my son's hands looks much better. This emollient is effective. You only need a small amount of cream each time. 

Chez Maximka


Have you tried Epaderm range? Did you see the difference it makes on your child's skin?

Disclosure:

This post is written as part of the Epaderm Blogger Ambassador Competition. 


Chez Maximka


Saturday, 28 November 2020

A Taste of His Own Medicine by Linda Fawke

fiction about university reunions



This is stupid, she told herself. Then you were a timid eighteen-year-old with little knowledge of the world. Now you are married, a successful business woman in your fifties - she winced at the thought of her age - who has faced far bigger challenges than this. Relax! You don't know what this reunion will bring. Who knows, you might enjoy it! And if not exactly that, you could have a significant achievement by the end of this weekend.

A Taste of His Own Medicine by Linda Fawke is a dark, gripping novel of lust and revenge.

Kate Shaw is a successful pharmacist, competitive and career-driven from her early days at the University. When an invitation arrives to a thirty-year reunion at her old alma mater, her first impulse is to delete the message and forget all about it. Her husband Neil thinks she should attend the departmental reunion on the campus. Kate argues that those were not the happiest years of her life.

"Thoughts of the reunion crept back like a bad cold she couldn't shake off. She discovered she was curious to know what had happened to the people with whom she shared three years of her life. And bitter thoughts crossed her mind. Perhaps she could make use of the weekend. Maybe she could get more of it than being pleasant to folk she never liked".

She would like to settle old scores with several people, but her main target is Jonathan, her ex.

"Would Jonathan be there? She didn't want to ask herself but her brain had a mind of its own. It's years since I've been aware of his existence, she thought. I did a thorough job of building a wall between us".

She needs a plan on how exactly to handle him. "Jonathan Carson, her beautiful man. To say he was handsome was like saying Shakespeare wrote plays, He was the epitome of good looks". He was handsome, and he knew it. In his student days, he has been modelling. This defined him and made him stand apart from the others. Thirty years ago, Kate and Jonathan's relationship ended on bitter terms. Joy turned to vengeance, "desire for him became the desire to hurt him; to scar him as much as she could".

Kate is set on revenge, and the reunion offers an excellent opportunity to wreak vengeance. Her friend and confidante Becky is enrolled in her plans, but only in vague terms. At first she goes along with the crazy plan, finding it amusing, but as the revenge plans become more elaborate, Becky tries to reason with Kate, saying the best approach is to put it behind her, "I don't approve of this. You're going too far this time".

And Kate's ambitions to settle scores grow out of proportion. Her desire to scar her ex for life works to her advantage. What she doesn't expect is that her grim measures of vengeance would bring a strange reaction, "You've come back into my life like an explosion", says Jonathan. 

A Taste of His Own Medicine is a study of corrosive effects of the wish for revenge and the damage it does to ourselves first of all. It is a disconcerting read, twisted and gripping.

I've never been to a school or University reunion in my life. While I'm quite content to see the photos of my former class mates and University pals on social media, I am not interested in attending any reunions. Reading the novel, I thought that all this meeting up to reminisce about the past, exchange life stories and eat/drink oneself into a state of stupor does not appeal to me whatsoever. I would be that one person from Kate's class who decided not to attend, and who people were bitching about later.

Overall, you feel sad for a person who keeps grudges and dreams of revenge for 30 years. 

They all seem pretty infantile and quite unpleasant. It's like Mean Girls, 30 Years Later. Aren't people supposed to grow up?! Yet they make fun of each other's fading looks, unflattering details, and ridicule less successful careers. Kate finds it cruel but amusing. The pharmacists at the reunion are either boastful of their current status, or  wallow in self-pity. And Kate is utterly deranged.

Yes, Kate had a hard blow, being dumped by her fickle lover when she felt at her most vulnerable, but letting herself stew in hatred and anger has turned her positively unhinged. She remembers every single detail from her Uni days as if it were yesterday. "And now, thirty years later, it could be time to rebalance the scales. The memory of their last conversation was as vivid as the denouement of a novel read yesterday". 

I didn't like any of the characters, but at the same time I was rather fascinated by the whole venomous narrative, and will be interested in reading the sequel.

fiction about University reunions, fiction about pharmacists


This book review is part of the Book Birthday Blitz.

Many thanks to Linda Fawke and Rachel's Random Resources for my copy of the book!

Purchase Links  

UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Taste-his-own-Medicine-ebook/dp/B01N2NYZVN/  

US - https://www.amazon.com/Taste-his-own-Medicine-ebook/dp/B01N2NYZVN/  

Author Bio –

Linda Fawke is an arts person who studied science but always wanted to write. Now retired, she indulges this passion, writing fiction and non-fiction, even occasional poetry, preferably late at night. She has now written two novels, 'A Taste of his own Medicine' and its sequel, 'A Prescription for Madness' using her background in pharmacy as the setting of both. These are easy books to read, suitable for Book Club discussions. ' A Prescription for Madness' is more serious than the first book, dealing with such issues as pregnancy in later life and Down's Syndrome.

She has been a winner of the Daily Telegraph 'Just Back' travel-writing competition and has published in various magazines including 'Mslexia', 'Litro' online, 'Scribble', 'The Oldie', 'Berkshire Life' and 'Living France'. She was a finalist in the 'Hysteria' short story competition.

Linda blogs at www.linimeant.wordpress.com where her 'Random Writings' include a range of topics from travel to 'Things that pop into my head'.
  

fiction about pharmacists


Social Media Links –  

Twitter: @LindaFawke  

Facebook: Linda Fawke  


books about pharmacists, books about college reunions


Thursday, 26 November 2020

Festive & Gourmet Degustabox (November)

 It's been an unusual year, full of anxiety and sadness, but with the festive season approaching, it might be a good idea to find the joy in little pleasures of life. You might not be able to see your close or extended family and friends for Christmas (except the close bubbles, or whatever new regulations will be enforced by then), but you can still make the celebrations special. 

Rev up good cheer with the Festive & Gourmet Degustabox! The latest food and drink box is crammed with tasty festive treats.

What did we get, let's have a good look!

Chez Maximka, food box

I'm a fan of Clipper tea, and was happy to find a box of Clipper Tea Organic Advent Calendar (£4.99) among the contents of the food box. It is a festive edition, which includes 12 varieties of organic tea and infusions (2 each). Many food and drink advent boxes are huge, with the unnecessary, excessive packaging. I like this neat box, it's colourful and cheerful to look at, and won't take much space on the kitchen shelf.

You will have a choice of Happy Mondays, Wild Berry, Detox, Orange and Lemon, Calmer Cameleon, Love Me Truly, Snore & Peace and other delicious flavours.

advent calendars for foodies, Chez Maximka

The previous Degustabox had quite a few chocolate treats, and this month hasn't disappointed chocoholics either.

Lindt Lindor Treatbar Orange and Mint (£0.85 each)

Lindor treatbars have silky smooth creamy milk chocolate filling flavoured with orange and mint. They are truly melt-in-the-mouth, so deliciously creamy and perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.

Available in all major supermarket chains.

Chez Maximka, best milk chocolate bars

Another classic and family favourite - Jaffa Cakes - has undergone a festive makeover and appears in a new festive flavour of Orange & Cranberry (£1.20). The original blend of dark crackly chocolate, light sponge and tasty orange centre has been enhanced with an added cranberry flavour. 

Nutritional information: 46kcal and 6.1g of sugar per cake.

Available at Co-Op, Morrisons, Tesco, ASDA and Discounters.

Chez Maximka

KitKat Santa Chocolate Bar & Mini Pouch Bag (£0.65 for a single bar and £1 for a mini pouch) are a festive version of the family favourite. KitKat milk chocolate Santas with a rich chocolatey centre and crunchy wafer pieces are a lovely combination of flavours and textures. Treat yourself or share with your family.

Available in all major supermarket chains.

Chez Maximka, festive chocolate


Zero Trace Full Taste Hot Chocolate promises that it doesb't have a trace of any of the 14 major allergens. Pip uses unrefined sugar and cocoa which is certified organic and Fairtrade. This delicious hot chocolate is a bit darker than most, so it's best made with your favourite milk (dairy or plant-based).

Available on Amazon and pipschocolate.com.

Chez Maximka, hot chocolate pouch

La Boulangère Plain Brioche Baguettes (£1.50 for a 4pk, 340g) are soft and delicately sweet brioche baguettes, reminiscent of the traditional taste of Vienna. Perfect for breakfast with a cup of coffee. They also make lovely vessels for all kinds of sandwich fillings. Try creamy brie and grapes, or crumbly Cheddar with chilli jam.
Available in Tesco, Ocado and Milk & More.

Chez Maximka, brioche bread


Daelmans Stroopwafels - Mini Caramel Stroopwafels (£1.30 for 200g) are the world-famous Dutch classic. A pack of minis is for sharing, and are best served with a hot drink, like tea, coffee or hot chocolate. These delicious caramel-filled waffles have a hint of Bourbon vanilla. A perfect indulgent treat for a festive season, or throughout the year.

Available at Sainsbury's and Ocado.

Dutch waffles, Chez Maximka

KIND (£1.30-1.99) bars are big on flavour. You will receive two items in the box. KIND Protein Double Dark Chocolate Nut includes 12g protein and comes at 249kcal. It is gluten free and high in fibre. Ingredients are peanuts, almonds with dark chocolate and sea salt among the others.
KIND Caramel Almond & Sea Salt is another combination of mixed nuts with a sweet and salty flavours. No artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.

Available on kindsnacks.co.uk

Chez Maximka


Strings and Things Wintershapes (£1.50) are rich in calcium for healthy bones. You will receive a voucher to the value of £1.50 cheeshapes winter edition, valid until 31/01/2021. The shapes are made of 100% real cheese, pressed into festive winter shapes - penguins, gingerbread men, reindeer. Each pack comes with winter facts and a playful spot the difference game.

Chez Maximka

Maille Dijon Original Mustard (£1.99) is made with finely crushed Barssica Juncea seeds. It's a perfect accompaniment to any cold meats. If you're making a French salad dressing, this mustard is a key ingredient. I like to add it to a cheese sandwich. 

Available in all major supermarket chains. 

Chez Maximka

Zest Vegan Coriander & Basil Pesto (£2.20) is a plant-based pesto, made with coriander and basil as well as creamy cashew nuts. It is gluten free and dairy free. Swirl it through pasta, add to savoury pastries, or make a dressing for a salad.

Available at Ocado, Morrisons, Amazon and independent shops.

And finally, there are two small sized bottle of Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon (£2.25). The heartland of Wolf Blass winemaking, Yellow Label has delivered exceptional quality for over 50 years. These Australian wines are bright, fruit-driven and full of flavour, to be paired with food for any occasion.
I'm planning to make festive apple and red wine jelly with Cabernet.

Available in all major supermarket chains.

Chez Maximka


Degustabox is a monthly food and drink subscription box. It's an excellent way of discovering new products which have only just appeared in the shops, or those which have been around for a while, but you haven't had a chance to try them yet.
Thanks to Degustabox, I have found new favourites to add to our shopping list, including some products which I probably wouldn't have tried otherwise.
Each time the monthly box arrives, its contents are a total surprise. You get a good selection of foods and drinks.

If you haven't tried Degustabox subscription box yet, and would like to have a go, I have a £3 off discount from your first box (and you can unsubscribe any time), just use code DKRLN when you place an order.