Spellbound #3

Merry Christmas Eve!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CHRISTMAS IS TOMORROW. Good luck encountering anyone as festive-obsessive (obfestive?) as moi. If you want to listen to the most wondrous music of all time, go ahead and tune in to my Christmas 'snowflake time' playlist to your heart's content.

And now that you've got your Chrimbo tunez blasting, let's get cracking (ha) with the last #spellbound of the year.

1. dogs (specifically mine...)
Despite having had a wonderful cat from when I was four until last year (RIP Star, miss you celestial boy), I have always been more of a dog person. Mac the black lab whippet cross came into our lives as a one-year-old rescue dog when I was seven, and is the absolute loveliest and most amazing dog on the entire planet (to the point where I actually get emotional trying to express how much I adore him... argh I love him sO MUCH okay let's move on). Anyway, if you have me on any form of social media, you have probably not managed to escape the fact that Mum and I are now a TWO DOG FAMILY!!!!!! Gracie is keeping us all on our toes and I couldn't not be spellbound by her. Mac is completely unphased and doesn't really bother with her, apart from telling her to get away from his own personal armchair (and yes he is spoilt but he's old and too bony to be comfy on the floor).

2. Blacksticks Blue
I don't eat a lot of cheese, but when I do, I like it strong and mature (ay) so was muchos delighted when I unexpectedly received a package in the post from Blacksticks. They sent me a super generous hamper of their Blacksticks Blue (blue cheese is perhaps my fave, and this one is "the daddy of all blue cheeses"), an M&S British Plum & Damson Soft Set Jam which paired perfectly with it, and (drumroll) a humongous and extremely swishy swanky bottle of Sipsmith Sloe Gin. The jam and cheese were polished off in a wink, but the gin will be absolutely ideal for a ~wee tipple~ for everyone tomorrow, as we are hosting Christmas for our first time ever (!!!), and I'm not a big drinker so that's all the more for the rest of the fam. Thank you Blacksticks, you are SO KIND AND GENEROUS THANK YOU.

3. Sainsbury's vegan cheese
More cheese! I have only tried two of the new vegan cheeses from Sainsbury's but I have to say that so far, I am a Big Fan. The garlic and herb soft cheese is my preferred (I'm a pepper Boursin gal, so if I can effectively have the same thing but without dairy then I'm hip hop happy); I'd give it 8.5/10 and would definitely buy it again. The Wensleydale with cranberries was a solid 6.5/10 too, if a little coconutty, although they are made of coconut so really that's fair enough. Also I've never had regular Wensleydale with cranberries, so I have no idea how it compares... maybe I just don't like Wensleydale that much. I've heard very good things about the cheddar with caramelised onion, so that one is next on my list.

4. Christmas markets
Fitting with the theme of festive enthusiasm, I couldn't *not* include a good old Christmas market in my Christmas Eve Spellbound. Plus, having had a fab trip to Vienna a couple of weeks ago, I'm all about the authentic Weihnachtsmarkts, complete with many punsch stands and a whole lotta pastries. I had a 'jumbo' chocolate/nut krapfen the size of my entire head in true tourist style. The Edinburgh market has a lot going for it too, food-wise and stuff-wise, and that's before you even consider the Star Flyer which is actually remarkably relaxing. But only if you like heights. (I love heights.)

5. Boxsmall Family Festival
Staying with the theme of market-type things, Boxsmall was the collection of traders and food stalls on the roof of Waverley Station at the end of the summer. I was invited along to have a round of golf on their miniature golf course, but in the end I just had a browse of the craft boxes and some delish freshly-made pizza from Pizza Geeks, as it was crazy windy. I think they are planning to come back again in the summer of 2017, so keep an eye out! And I 100% recommend Pizza Geeks - they were super friendly and the pizza was AMAZING. Besides, I'm definitely not the only one who enjoys seeing my food actually being created and cooked right in front of me, right?

6. less social media
This has been a great thing ever since returning from the entirely digitally-disconnected yoga retreat I went on at the end of the summer. Being completely switched off for a week was fantastic, and I still take great joy in ignoring my phone. Obviously if somebody actually phones me, I'll answer, and I've never been one to consciously wait before replying to a text or message (seriously what is the actual point), but I don't mindlessly scroll through social media and I'm not fussed if I ~fall behind~ on what's happening in the Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat (imogenfindlay)/Youtube/etc world. Saying that, if you by any chance want to keep up with any of my goings-on, please do feel free to add/follow/whatever! I try to update my own stuff from time to time but other than that I don't particularly bother.. that's probably terrible from a ~blogger~ point of view, oops.

7. oat milk
Make your own oat milk! It's easy! And tasty! And cheap! And if you haven't tried oat milk before... try oat milk! It's tasty! My absolute fave if you're going to buy it is Oatly, and they have a special 'foamable' one too which is completely amazing for frothy coffee/hot choc/chai lattes/babyccinos etc. Although I generally make my own oat milk, I adore Oatly as a brand and cannot WAIT for more of their products to emigrate to the UK all the way from their native Sweden. I tried them all when I was there in November, and will be buying out all the supermarkets when the rest of their stuff arrives. Yoghurt/soft cheese/ice cream/chai milk/breakfast smoothies - I shall be consuming them all.

8. #cansong
Ah, a sad situation. I made a note ages ago to include the new Heinz campaign in my next Spellbound, only to then have it banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (after the campaign had already finished..) in case people were to injure themselves as a result. The idea is that you use a can of beans, then clean it and tape it up to protect your hands from the sharp edges, then learn the can song and sing along with the really lovely advert. I did exactly that, and learned the song, and my hands are intact. Other people did not embrace it in quite the same way, and the ad was withdrawn after a grand total of nine people lodged complaints. Nine. The video has been viewed on YouTube nearly two million times, but thank you, nine people. If someone as clumsy as me can do it successfully then I'm sure everyone else will be fine, but if you do then it's at your own discretion. I don't want any blood on my hands (lol pun).

9. Woodall's Charcuterie
This one conflicts me. Woodall's were kind enough to send me some of their award-winning charcuterie before I went veggie, and just recently sent me some of their new products. I feel a little strange including it here, but I do think it's nice of them as they don't know I'm veggie, and also because it will be enormously enjoyed by everyone else on canapés tomorrow. The plan is to make blinis topped with cream cheese and a piece of fancy salami/ham/prosciutto/I'm not sure, and meanwhile I shall be making my own veggie canapés but with houmous instead of feta. Although I won't be having any of the charcuterie, thank you Woodall's for so kindly sending it and I'm sure my omnivorous famalam will enjoy it a great deal!

10. Aduna
I've followed the antics of Aduna for a while, so was thrilled when I won a box of 16 baobab bars in a giveaway. Baobab has all sorts of fun health benefits and tastes citrusy and almost fizzy, so the bars are all zingy and delish. I highly recommend.

And that is that! I finished a whopping great essay yesterday so I shall never have to study pragmatics and 'meaning in context' ever again, but alas come the 27th I shall be back at the books revising for a psycholinguistics exam at the beginning of January. Oh joy of joys! Speaking of which, joy to the world, merry Christmas (Eve) to all and a very happy new year when it comes. Unless I write another post between now and new year, which is entirely possible as a means of procrastination.



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