Lists, mum life

Top 6 Food & Drink Christmas Gifts

There are far too many great food and drink Christmas gifts out there to choose from, with many long-standing brands bringing out various specials just for the season. However, I’ve come across a few that are sure to hit the right spot with almost anyone this Christmas. Well, almost anyone in my family at least!

Ellis Gin

I discovered this gem at Helensburgh Winter Festival earlier in the month. Ellis gin is handmade in Glasgow and in small batches, with only a couple of flavours currently available. I opted to buy the bramble gin in a bauble for a Christmas gift, though they had plenty of choice in terms of bottle size and gift packs, with the option of a small bottle and glass, or gin and mixer combos. I love trying new things and supporting local makers so this is a no brainer if you like to give unique gifts that are made with love.

Johnnie Walker White Walker Limited Edition

If you’ve any Game of Thrones fan friends or family (over 18) then this will be sure to warm up their winter. The show has partnered with Scottish whisky Johnnie Walker for this limited edition collectors bottle named White Walker. A homage to the White Walkers on the show, this brand new whisky is best served straight from the freezer.

Dean’s Glitter Shortbread

Dean’s Shortbread is a fabulous, melt-in-the-mouth shortbread brand from Huntly in Scotland. Their traditional shortbread rounds can be found in many supermarkets, and they offer a great festive flavour range. However, their glitter shortbread adds some much needed sparkle to Christmas, without steering away from the traditional flavour. This one is sure to go down well with nans and for those ever expanding gifts for teachers, coaches, lollipop men/women, and anyone else society has told us we should be gifting at this time of year! With a £2.99 price tag it’s a perfect add-on for a bigger gift too.

Peaky Blinders Rum/Whisky/Gin

 Well Sadler’s Ales have gone all in with a range of Peaky Blinders spirits. Fans of Sadler’s and of the TV show will appreciate that there are several different gift options on offer, with variations of their spiced gin, spiced rum and whisky available to purchase. If you want to pay homage to the show and Thomas Shelby himself, then the Peaky Blinders gin is the ideal choice.

Saltire CandySaltire-candy-christmas-gift-food

Another great discovery from Helensburgh Winter Festival was Saltire Candy. They make all of your old fashioned boiled sweet favourites, all beautifully packaged forany occasion. They also had some flavoured fudge which we tried (the Hebridean sea salted caramel fudge was my favourite) and a few varieties of the traditional tablet and macaroon which looked like the perfect stocking filler. They were only a couple of pounds for each little bag. Plus you’re able to personalise many of their gifts too, for that extra special touch.

Fry’s selection box

A great gift for any chocolate lover in your house. It’s a collection of the three Fry’s favourites – chocolate cream, peppermint cream and turkish delight. Obviously the latter isn’t to everyone’s taste but I think Fry’s creams are fondly remembered by some of the older generation in our family for sure. I first found this gift in B&M but have since seen it pop up in a few stores and supermarkets, and it’s pretty inexpensive as far as Christmas gifts go – around the £2-3 mark you’d expect to pay for a selection box.

mum life, Mum's finds

Birchbox advent calendar: week one

First week of Advent calendar goodies!

Now the first week of Advent calendar madness is over, we have a toddler that I think has gained about a stone (he has FOUR advent calendars. Much to my dismay!). But we also have a collection of great new beauty products, thanks to my Birchbox advent calendar.

I always have good things to say about Birchbox, and their advent calendar is no exception. I previously missed out on these as they always sell out so quickly, but I was well prepared this year! I can’t comment on previous years but this year’s has definitely impressed me so far. Here are the first week’s treats:

Benefit roller lash
One of the many reasons I love Birchbox is that they regularly send out Benefit products. I’m a big fan of their mascaras so was delighted to find roller lash behind drawer number 1. Not only this, birchbox also tucked a little discount card inside the drawer offering 10% off any full sized products found in the calendar.

Pure papayacare papaya lips
Who doesn’t need a good lip balm at this time of year? Birchbox have got it spot on with their product choice, as it’s something I’ll use all month, thanks to the change in weather. It’s a really good lip balm, totally nourishing, and of course comes with the added bonus of smelling like papaya. Good job papayacare!

Rituals – the ritual of ayurveda hand balm
Again, I couldn’t think of a better choice of product for the current climate. The skin on my hands had actually started to break and bleed in November with the minus temperatures (I have since located my gloves thank goodness!) so it’s fair to say I was in desperate need of a good hand cream. The fragrance is Indian rose and almond oil which means the scent into too in your face, and the ingredients are also actually really soothing.

Birchbox-advent-calendar-2018

LOC – creamy eyeshadow stick
Now we’re getting onto some of the more fun items (not that the others aren’t fun, they are just more practical!) The eyeshadow stick is great for a daytime look and is easy to top up throughout the day. The shadeitwelf is also pretty neutral so I can see it working with a lot of different skin tones.

Caudalie – SOS thirst quenching serum
I personally always rely on the same moisturiser all year round, but am always keen to know of any other products which can work for my skin, especially in winter. I’m not normally one for seems but this is just the treat my face needs in this weather.

Chella – ivory lace highlighter
Everybody loves a good highlighter, no more so than at Christmas when everything is shimmering and sparkling. This handy highlighter stick is perfect for popping in your bag and taking along on that Christmas party night out.

Jiinju- exfoliating face pad
And last but not least, week 1 was rounded off with this beauty. What is the one essential we all need, no matter the makeup we use? That’s right, cleanser and makeup remover! I’m all for reusable cleansers, exfoliators etc, so this exfoliating pad is right up my street. Grab this little Korean beauty miracle and take it in the shower if you’re short on time.

mum life, Unlikely mum makes

Unlikely mum makes: gift boxes

I love Christmas so much, so there’s really any excuse to make something festive in this house. All the more so if I make it, and can recycle/upcycle at the same time.

A couple of years ago, I decided to try and make use of my Birchboxes, which were just lying around gathering dust after I’d removed all the fab products. I didn’t want to throw them away as lots of them had lovely cute patterns on, and I felt they could be used for something else, I just wasn’t sure what… until Christmas came around!

My bright idea was to turn them into festive gift boxes which would hopefully look better than the badly wrapped parcels I give out, which tend to look more like fish suppers than gifts!

What I use them for:

  • Gift boxes for smaller items like makeup and cosmetics
  • Alternative selection boxes
  • Christmas eve boxes

How I do it:

There’s literally 2 steps in this! Though there’s probably a fancier way of doing it that would look super professional but I’m a – not super professional and b – a novice craftsperson, so this is my max talent at the moment!

All you need is:

  1. Wrapping paper
  2. Sellotape
  3. Scissors
  4. Label/nametag or similar

Part 1 – Wrap the gift box

All you have to do is wrap the outside of each part of the box, taking care on the edges and the inside to ensure the paper doesn’t bunch, preventing you from closing the box!

Handmade-christmas-gift-boxes

Part 2 – decide how to label and decorate the gift box

The first year I did this, I opted to use regular gift tags for my boxes. Last year, I used a sheer paper and simply wrote on it with a silver pen. This year, I’m opting to paint some wooden letters and stick them on to some boxes, and use bows and string to decorate others.

The beauty of this is that you can decorate the boxes however you like. In fact, you don’t even need to go for a festive theme, meaning they are the gift box that keeps on giving!

Baby M's firsts

November firsts

Now we’ve past a year old, so there’s no new days he hasn’t seen before. This means there are quite a bit less firsts than most other months. That being said, there are still a lot of things the wee man hasn’t experienced yet, some of which he tried out for the first time in November…

First bonfire night
Since Travis was one in October, he’s clearly already been around for one bonfire night. However he was so young and we were still getting used to the lack of sleep thing so we didn’t bother going to watch any fireworks or anything. This year we went to the local display in Dumbarton on the 5th itself. It was a relatively mild night (though had been raining earlier in the day so everywhere was a swamp!) So we were quite fortunate. Travis loved the light show it got a little confused as the bangs echoed behind us after the fireworks went off, looking behind us to see what else was going on!

First hot chocolate
It’s pretty much tradition at bonfire night to have hot chocolate right? I thought “why should Travis miss out on that?” and decided to share a much milkier version of my hot chocolate with him. It went down an absolute storm, and in place of his usual night time bottle, meaning we didn’t have to do a bottle when we got home either- result!

First trip to fruin farm
Fruin Farm is a farm/restaurant close by us on the way to Helensburgh. We had heard great things about the place so when friends had suggested brunch there we jumped at the chance. It was great for the adults, no doubt, but Travis had a ball playing with the toys in the dining area (launching them across the floor mostly!) And also pointing out all the (ornamental) parrots that were dotted around the room.

Though as the name suggests, it’s a farm so there are animals outside too! We got to go down and see the goats and llamas, and even some big black piggies on the way out. I’d definitely recommend Fruin Farm if you’re meeting up with friends with younger kids, as the food was fab and there’s lots to keep the wee ones entertained.

First toddler sense
I’d heard a lot about baby sensory classes and how great they were when Travis was only a couple of months old. I ended up not taking him along as he was already doing so much, like baby massage, baby yoga, bookbug, hartbeeps and swimming! I didn’t think we could fit it in or that he’d get the benefit if it at that time. Fast forward to over a year old and he’s now classed as a toddler, which I thought would rule him out of sensory classes. Not so – there are just different classes with different activities for the toddlers!
We went along to try it out on 12th November and it was great fun. But we joined in during the middle of a block so I think we will wait til the new year and see if we can join a block on a date and time that’s right for us!

First children in need
Children in Need always runs on the third Friday in November, and it’s something I’ve always traditionally watched, got involved in or fundraised for when I was growing up. So imagine my delight when nursery announced they were having a whole week of activities for children in need. They all involves dressing up and the like, and if you want to find out more you can read my post about it here.

First fat lip
Not a first I thought I’d have to share but one that was going to happen eventually with a boisterous little toddler. On the last day of November, I got a phonecall from the nursery telling me not to worry (well love, I am worried because you’re phoning me and you don’t normally do that!) That Travis was fine… but that he’d also just burst his lip. Ran towards another kid, tripped and headered one of the cots apparently. We were told to expect a fat lip but that they would keep an ice pack on it for us. Cue picking up a baby Mick Jagger, who wasn’t bothered in the slightest by the way, which resulted in mum guilt and upset for leaving him where he could get hurt.