Monday, 21 November 2016

7 alcohol free drinks for the party season

This year will be one of the first Christmas periods is a long time where I'll be able to have a few drinks. But even though I'm entering the Christmas party season without being pregnant, life with four young children, two of which are still nursing, means that while I'm excited about being able to have a couple of glasses of the strong stuff, I'm still not keen on nursing a hangover.

Not drinking at Christmas parties doesn't have to be boring though. And, having spent several years struggling with sickly sweet kids drinks, I've discovered a few adult alternatives for anyone having a dry Christmas.

This post includes affiliate links.

Here are seven of my favourite non-alcoholic party drinks for grown-ups:

  1. Apple, elderflower and mint fizz: Combine half a glass of apple juice with a splash of elderflower cordial and top up with sparkling water for a refreshing non-alcoholic spritzer.
  2. If you're a fan of Rose wine but don't fancy the alcohol-free versions, why not try Fenitmans Rose Lemonade. It's made using pure rose oil and tastes divine. 
  3. Just because you're missing out on the sparkling wine or champagne doesn't mean you can't toast the season. Schloer do a range of sparkling grape-based drinks including this Sparkling Rose
  4. Mulled apple juice: Conjure up the smell of Christmas with an alternative to the seasonal mulled wine. Simply add cinnamon sticks, orange peel and cloves to a pan of apple juice and simmer. You'll be sober enough to really appreciate the smell of Christmas wafting through the house.
  5. Cranberries aren't just for turkeys. Mix cranberry juice with sparkling water and top with a twist of lime for a seasonal and refreshing simple mocktail.
  6. Ginger and honey iced tea: If you're feeling under the weather, a ginger and honey iced tea will look classy while also easing your sore throat and boosting your immune system. Brew a black tea and stir in some grated ginger and a spoonful of honey. Remove the tea bags after about five minutes and leave to cool before putting in the fridge. Add ice and mint leaves to serve.
  7. Grapefruit and Rosemary Mocktail: This takes a bit of preparation, but the result smells so good, it's well worth the time. First, you need to make a rosemary syrup by heating up a cup of water and a cup of granulated sugar on the hob. Be careful not to let the mixture boil or the sugar might crystallise. Once you have your syrup, add a couple of sprigs of rosemary and let it cool before putting it in the fridge. When your rosemary syrup is ready, add a glug to a glass of grapefruit juice and add ice and another sprig of rosemary.
What are your favourite alcohol-free party drinks?

Sunday, 6 November 2016

My Sunday Photo - A Trip to the Optician

Wilf started school in September and needs to use his eyes a lot as he learns to identify letters and numbers and starts to read.

Although many children will have an eye test at the hospital around their fifth birthday (well, in my area they do!), it's still important to get them used to having regular eye checks so any issues can be identified and treated early on.

There are a few things to look out for that suggest there might be sight problems. These include: if your child rubs their eyes a lot; if they hold things very close to look at them; if they blink a lot or squint; or if they stand very close to the TV.

Wilf has a terrible habit of standing right in front of our TV, so I wanted to get him in to see the optician for his first eye test to double check there were no underlying issues.

He tends to be quite reserved when he faces new situations, so we watched the "I really absolutely must have glasses" Charlie and Lola episode, which explains what happens at an eye test. He really enjoyed the different activities the optician asked him to do, such as pointing at letters she was showing him in the mirror and finding shapes within coloured dots. He even co-operated when she asked if she could shine her bright torch into his eyes.

It turns out, his eyesight is great.

The only problem is that actually, he really, really wanted to have a pair of glasses!


Saturday, 5 November 2016

8 of the best Advent Calendar ideas

The countdown to Christmas really gets going on December 1st with the start of Advent.

The word Advent comes from the Latin, meaning coming. It is the season of preparation and symbolises the expectation and anticipation of the coming of the Lord, culminating in the celebration of His birth on Christmas Day.

While most Advent calendars start on December 1st, in the Church, Advent can often start at the beginning of November because it starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. That means that this year Advent starts on Sunday 27th November.

I suppose it's easier for Advent calendars to stick to the regular 1st December start date. I won't tell the children that they have potentially missed out on three chocolates this year!

And, to make it easier for you, I've compiled a list of my favourite Advent calendar ideas for this year (Disclaimer: this post features affiliate links):
  1. Ensuring my children understand the real meaning of Christmas is very important to me. We are Roman Catholics and the season of Christmas is a very important part of our faith. And while I don't want to deny them the sheer excitement that comes with opening a door of an Advent calendar and getting something, I also want to remind them of the importance of giving. This year, I'll be helping them to make an Advent kindness calendar. We'll write a list of  24 ideas of how they can be kind or helpful and place them in a fabric 'fillable' Advent calendar we bought years ago from a market in Lanzarote and then, each morning, they can pick out their Act of Kindness and try to carry it out that day. This is a similar Hanging Felt Santa Father Christmas Advent Calendar if you want something that you can re-use every year.

  2. Another idea that highlights that this is the season of goodwill is the Reverse Advent Calendar, which fellow blogger Mum In The Madhouse featured on her blog last year.

  3. For a more chocolatey take on reminding us of the true meaning of Christmas, try The Real Advent Calendar by The Meaningful Chocolate Company (85g chocolate). I buy this for my husband, who is not religious. He enjoys the chocolate and I enjoy the fact that he can share the Nativity story by sharing the 28-page Christmas story activity book with the children.

  4. If your family are football fans, you will have no doubt come across the Match Attax football trading cards. Elliot is an avid collector and has already reminded us several times that he would very much like to extend his collection with the EPL Match Attax 2016/17 Advent Calendar. Behind the doors are 120 Match Attax cards, including a limited edition Gold Jack Wilshere card.

  5. Beatrix is really into her Lego at the moment and has her heart set on this LEGO Friends 41131 Advent Calendar. We've had Lego Advent calendars for the past couple of years and the children have really enjoyed building a scene and adding the various Lego models and characters to it as the month progresses.

  6. At the moment, Wilfred says he is not fussed by toys calendar and he just wants a Darth Vader chocolate one, like this Star Wars (Episode VII The Force Awakens) Milk Chocolate Advent Calendar 2015 (Toys Inc).  

  7. Of course, if the older children are getting collectables in their Advent calendar, the younger boys are going to want something to play with too. Luckily, VTech have come up trumps with the Toot-Toot Drivers Advent Calendar. We already have the garage and the airport and they are played with constantly, so I know this will be perfect for them and provide them with hours of fun.
  8. Advent is also known as the season of light as we prepare to welcome the light of the world with the birth of Jesus. What better way to celebrate this than with an Advent candle. This Traditional Festive Christmas Advent Countdown Taper Candle is a lovely way to count down the days to Christmas. Simply light it each day and then blow it out when you reach the next marker. While the candle is lit, you can talk to your children about the meaning of Christmas, pray or meditate. We started the tradition of lighting an Advent candle last year. Read about it here.
What Advent calendars will you be using this year?    

Disclaimer: this blog post contains affiliate links.

Mr and Mrs T Plus Three