5 Classic Caribbean Cocktail Recipes

5 caribbean cocktails

In a little celebration of the Commonwealth Games, and having cruised the Caribbean earlier this year, I thought it would be a great excuse to serve up some drinks inspired by the Caribbean teams participating in the games. I bring you 5 classic caribbean cocktail recipes.

If you want a genuine Jamaican cocktail then Planter’s Punch is a classic and often served in a pineapple. Here my daughter and I are enjoying a mocktail version for her, and a cocktail for me, on board Carnival Breeze.

Children learn about what kind of drinker they will become by watching their parents, so for me, as she enters the ‘curious’ stage, it is about me modelling responsible drinking, and seeing a cocktail as a special treat, a long drink to be savoured as part of the holiday ritual. Not as one of many.

Pina Colada was invented by a gentleman from Barcelona, in the Carribbean, because the story goes, the coconut cutters went on strike and he needed something else to put his hotel guest’s drinks in. The strained pineapple was added to his coconut cocktail and the Pina Colada was born.

I used a Funkin Cocktails cocktail mixer added to white rum, and topped with a cocktail cherry and a slice of pineapple – easy peasy!

Bahama Mama is of course, a cocktail of the Bahamas, it is thought it was made during the Prohibition era when the Bahamas was a smuggling hotspot. With coffee added to the rum, pineapple and coconut mix it will keep you a little more alert, here is the recipe.

Nutmeg is celebrated all over Greneda as a signature crop and so it is no wonder it turns up in a cocktail, why not try a Nutmeg Creeper?

Or you could always opt for the Dominican Mama Juana, which is used as everything from a flu remedy to an aphrodisiac. Rum, red wine, honey, tree bark and herbs, marinaded for a long time. Me, I am sticking to a Pina Colada!

Hope you have enjoyed my 5 classic caribbean cocktail recipes. Drink responsibly, and for more information on approaches to discussing and modelling drinking with children, please read about my day with Drinkaware.

Scents to change your life – Love Aroma

travel scented candle

Love Aroma have totally changed my perception of scented candles. They were something I bought, or occasionally was given, then forgot about. But Love Aroma’s product range is impossible to forget.

When my Love Aroma package arrived, it was beautifully wrapped and scented, with Heyland and Whittle Citrus and Lavender, because I told Lewis at Love Aroma these were my favourite scents. The empty box lay in the hall for a few days,  and hit me with amazing wafts of scent every time I cam home – it really made coming home a joy.

Next I tried a Melt candle, ‘Joy’ comes in a tin, Lewis suggested as a keen traveller that I might enjoy taking a candle in my bag, to keep my clothes smelling amazing and to add some ambience while on holiday.  Joy has floral notes on a fresh bed of sparkling citrus, if it was a perfume I would definitely wear it, it is a very sexy and sophisticated scent.

On the living room mantlepiece we then tried Stoneglow Candles’ Nature’s Friend Lemongrass and Lime, a lovely punchy, zesty scent perfect for perking us up at the end of a long summer day and for bringing the outside in.

love aroma scents

My absolute favourite was Parfum’s Linen and Lavender Snow Crystal Candle. I burnt this at my desk and it sent subtle wafts of the most exquisite fragrance through the house. The premise here is couture perfume and it really delivers a highly sophisticated scent; the whole week, even when it wasn’t burning, the candle made my office smell incredible. It is a very rejuvenating, mood enhancing scent, it made all the clutter and chaos melt away.

Parfum’s candles are candles with a conscience, handmade in the UK with biodegradable, natural wax and perfume which is carbon neutral and non toxic.

pairfum candle

I have really reconsidered scented candles and what an incredible, uplifting role they can play in my life at home, and when travelling. I thought the service from Love Aroma showed excellent attention to detail and would definitely use them to treat myself or a friend to a gift. Although, of course, now I think candles should be part of the everyday, not just occasional gifts!

 

Keeping the Kids Busy this Summer: Five Awesome Ideas

keep the kids busy this summer

Today’s guest post has some great tricks up your sleeve for putting the wow into their Summer holiday.

It’s probably fair to say that when it comes to the words, ‘I’m bored’, the chances of them being said soar during the summer holidays because of the number of weeks that the kids have to spend at home, away from their schoolmates and their classes that keep a modicum of busyness to their days.

As soon as the summer holidays hit, you need to keep on your toes. If you don’t have anything planned, it won’t be long before the squabbling starts, as your bored kids vie for your attention and beg you for something to do. However, if you have a few ideas up your sleeve ready to go, the monotony of the 6 weeks holiday will disappear. Here are five fabulous ideas that may help to keep the kids busy away from home.

City Break 

City breaks aren’t just for couples and friends, you know. What’s stopping you from taking the kids to a different city for a couple of days? Choose one that has plenty of family-friendly attractions available, so that kids (and adults) of all ages can enjoy their time away from home. Book into some reasonably priced accommodation, such as a Travelodge hotel in Edinburgh, London or Manchester, and plan your time in your chosen city wisely so that your time is utilised in the best way possible.

Museum

Kids who say that museums are boring have obviously not been to the good ones. Take a trip to one of the fun-filled, hands-on museums across the country, such as the Science Museum in London, or Thinktank in Birmingham, and your kids will be able to appreciate the various exhibitions without even a hint of boredom setting in.

Seaside

What kids don’t love the seaside? While we can’t guarantee the good weather, we can guarantee that a day at the seaside can be as fun in the rain as it is in the sunshine. Well, maybe not quite as fun, but still worthwhile. Spend a day on the beach, go crabbing in the rock pools, eat fish and chips, enjoy donkey rides, watch a Punch & Judy show… the options are endless. And that’s without even mentioning the penny arcades…

Theme Park

With so many awesome theme parks across the country, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Opt for one that suits your child’s needs perfectly, though. For example, Paulton’s Park in the south would be perfect for tots who love Peppa Pig, Alton Towers has something for everyone, and Thorpe Park is geared towards adrenaline junkies, for sure! Make use of any coupons, online discounts and other offers, to save you money wherever possible.

Castles 

Take the kids to one of the gorgeous castles that our country is home to. While somewhere like Warwick Castle is very much visitor-orientated, with plenty of events and activities in store, other castles, such as Portchester Castle, are more secluded and perfect for a picnic and a relaxing afternoon. It’s your call, really!

Make a list of ideas in advance so that you can provide your children with plenty of options. Whether it’s the summer break, or any other time away from school, if you have an arsenal of ideas ready to go, boredom won’t stand a chance.

Collaborative post

Razor A5 Lux Scooter: less pushing, more riding

picking the right scooter

My daughter likes to dawdle on the school run, she reminds me of my mum, head in a weed growing out the side of a wall, rescuing snails and watching wood lice. It’s lovely when you aren’t in a rush, but, because my son gets similarly absorbed in play, but inside the house, we rarely have much time on the way to school. On the way home she can dawdle all she likes, but the way there we zoom,  that’s the deal. Just when the school run was starting to really lag, Asda sent Miss L a Razor A5 Lux Scooter to test. With it’s big wheels and larger frame she was suddenly making a lot more headway.

This scooter is very good because it is very fast. It makes me feel on top of the world, like when I climbed Mount Etna!
Miss L aged 7 3/4

Mr G had his eye on her old scooter, so that was both of them suddenly sorted. I also can’t quite believe L has finished Infants and is off to Juniors, the sites are 10 minutes away from each other, so we will really need the scooters come September.

I’m impressed with the Razor A5 Lux Scooter, at first the big wheels seemed strange and a couple of kids commented on them on the school run. But when you see it in action, it makes perfect sense, you cover more ground with less effort. Spend less time pushing and more time riding. Suddenly Miss L can make up the time spent dawdling really easily.

The only downside is it is a little bigger and bulkier than other scooters, and we have both banged our ankles on it a few times getting used to it, which can be painful, but again, all new things take time. Miss L is not quite 8, so at the bottom end of the age bracket, so it is going to seem especially big to her. It does fold down easily to fit in the car.

Features:

  • Smooth rolling 200mm urethane wheels with RZR Pro bearings
  • Aircraft grade aluminium deck
  • Steel handlebars
  • Kick stand
  • Pro-style T-bar handlebar
  • Prostyle non-folding rigid down tube
  • Double head tube clamp
  • Patented rear fender brake
  • Freestyle rubber grips
  • Max rider weight: 100 kg
  • Age 8 plus

The scooter is £79.97 which seems a very fair price to me for this kind of kit. If you have a child who is using it to get from A to B with less effort, then this could be the perfect scooter.

How to stop siblings fighting – with six words.

how to stop siblings fighting

We all want to know how to stop siblings fighting, I think I’ve found a brilliantly simple trick. Disclaimer – I should say conflict is normal and healthy and part of life, you won’t stop it completely, but recently we changed one thing about the way we handle fighting and it made a massive difference.

I think you might like to know about this technique too, because it doesn’t involve massive changes to your routine, sticker charts, bribes, money or exhausting days where you don’t see your other half/have a moment’s peace/manage to talk to another adult, because you are hell bent trying to keep the kids apart.

The biggest thing I was doing wrong was jumping in and taking sides. I didn’t even really think I was taking sides, just trying to solve the issue quickly and fairly with my adult wisdom hat on, but what I was actually doing was playing judge. And it was back firing hugely. For example…

We picked up my 5yo from a party, he wouldn’t give my 7yo anything from his party bag. So I asked him to, immediately and without realising almost, I had taken sides. So he dug his heels in more and things got nastier. He ate all the cake and the sweets in one gulp (alright well not quite, but it was fast) and he threw the wrapper at my 7yo. She grabbed him by the collar, and they were fighting.

After a bit of googling ‘how to stop siblings fighting’ I saw the error of my ways. All it takes is six words, ‘How can you make this better?’.

Sounds too simple, but what you are doing is giving kids the chance to sort the problem out for themselves. This is amazingly effective in that it means they learn to problem solve and deal with conflict, you don’t get stuck playing judge and things don’t escalate so fast.

It puts the ball in their court. So when my daughter refused to let my son have a go on her new roller-skates, he started shouting. They were about to start physically fighting, but all I said was, how can you make this better? They both suggested deals, they were both a bit unfair to start, I mediated a bit, but didn’t judge.

Then, as if by magic, they struck a deal they both loved. He got to go up and down, to the lamppost 10 times, but she would give him lessons. It was amazing to watch her help him.

Then a massive storm came, so we ran for shelter together, my 5yo on rollerskates in the middle of me and my 7yo. We laughed so much. When the storm passed he kept skating, on his own this time, through puddles, and my 7yo didn’t ask for them back, instead we just giggled and smiled at the rollerskating ninja.

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What works and doesn’t work for you? Have you got any wisdoms on how to stop siblings fighting?

Moshi Monsters at the Sea Life Centre, Birmingham

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Looking back at the photos, I am not sure, even for my Moshi Monster Mad kids, that having Moshi Monsters at the Sea Life centre, was the main attraction. Beforehand my husband and I debated, over a cup of tea, about how to ‘pitch’ the day to them. Was it about Moshis or was it about sea life?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Moshi Monsters, I videoed some children recently talking about their favourite toys and I was really amazed by the way they suddenly came alive on camera when talking about their Moshi Monsters.  They were so verbal and full of their own stories about the characters, so full of play ideas. I think they are a great toy for encouraging imagination to develop.

There’s a Moshi swap shop where your kids can swop figures, there’s a Moshi trail where you can hunt the Moshis in the tanks and there are Moshi characters available for photo opportunities. You can also have a photo taken against a Moshi green screen. If you’ve been before its a new way of looking at the exhibitions and a great chance to swap a Moshi figure too.

My 7yo had a good crack at finding Moshi Monsters at the Sea life Centre, there are six hidden in tanks around the centre and diligently filled in her quiz questions too. She learnt a few things from answering the questions, we now know what mermaid’s purse is and what it contains for example and how many seahorses babies are born each time.

moshi monsters sea life centre

My 7yo completed this quiz, but lost interest when she realised the prize was a Moshi token for the online game, as did I, as we have been trying to avoid paying out for it, maybe I should, what do you think, is it worth it?

My 5yo was happy to forgo the Moshi hunt on paper and just steam round looking at the tanks. My daughter had eagle eyes and spotted all six.

I think they were more interested in the sea life at the end of the day, and whenever museums have quizzes I sometimes think they encourage kids to rush rather than just take things in. Although, it is lovely to see my 7yo take charge and own a new space like a museum full of confidence and ready to tackle the clues, it slowed her down too, so we could take in more.

penguins

Last time we went there weren’t any Gentoo penguins. I was in two minds about this. It was an utterly incredible privilege to watch, Gentoos are the fastest swimmers of all penguins – Mr A was awestruck by the way they leap out of the water a spilt second from the edge,  I loved watching the way the penguins interacted with the keepers and the children, watching them is fascinating, they are clearly very cheeky and curious. They are from Antarctica and it is easy to replicate their climate in a tank. But I just kept seeing that scene in Happy Feet…

penguins swimming

Then the 3D film was a ten minute version of Happy Feet, with its message about working together to make the world better for sea life. Sea Life centres are involved in conservation and in education, they definitely got us thinking about important messages like dwindling penguin colonies, conservation, recycling, picking up rubbish at the sea side.  Ultimately the penguins looked happy and healthy and protected from harm of predators, rubbish and losing their land to humans. I would love to see them have more room though.

I have been looking up more facts about where all the sea life in the centre comes from, I know The Gentoos were bred bred together at Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Centre in Auckland. Over 150 turtles and seals were rescued by Sea Life in the last month. I found an article explaining one of the turtles in a centre was rescued from a meat factory with horrible conditions, to go from this to having your own tank must be incredible. I discovered the penguins are part of the Breed, Rescue, Protect programme, they are also studied by PhD students. The centres also breed enough seahorses not to take them out of the wild and discourage visitors from doing so.

My kids were really enthused by what they saw, getting so close to nature and wildlife is a real privilege and an inspiration.

Moshi Monsters at the Sea Life Centre, Birmingham until 31st August 2014.

How The Sun grooms children

the sun exploits children

I saw this on Facebook recently via the charity Child’s Eye and No More Page Three. For me it epitomises everything that has gone wrong with this newspaper. How on earth can we have a model showing her bum, a ‘sex killer’ and Frozen freebies all on one page? I know the world is a mixed up juxtaposition of influences, but this cover of The Sun is just irresponsible journalism and editing.

Firstly, as Child’s Eye, the charity preventing children from sexualisation, point out, we need to be talking about child abuse, not sex. We need to be using language that isn’t sensational to discuss child abuse. This article next to an image of a woman’s bum presents a very different view of sex, it shouldn’t be placed next to this article.

Throw Frozen into the mix and you’re actively encouraging children to pick this pornography up, whilst actively training boys and girls to accept that girls are sex objects.

This newspaper is on sale where kids can see it, it gets left in public places, in homes, and kids can see that? It’s all wrong.

It sends out completely warped messages about our society.

People are buying into this paper on the basis of the freebie culture, holiday discounts, Frozen sticker albums, which further legitimises its shabby view of women. I understand freebies are great and holidays are expensive, it puts a lot of readers in a difficult place, but really, the Sun need to sort this out. We need to make them.

How to make a difference

Support No More Page Three

Child’s Eye suggest the following simple actions:

Write to or email your mp http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/

Ask your local shop to ensure it is on the top shelf. Contact retailers, it takes seconds on the internet:

Sainsburys http://www.sainsburys.co.uk/sol/contact_us/contact_us.jsp

Tesco
http://www.tesco.com/help/contact/

Asda
http://groceries.asda.com/asda-webstore/landing/home.shtml#/ContactUs

Morrisons
https://your.morrisons.com/Help-and-information/Contact-Us/

Spar
http://www.spar.co.uk/aboutspar/contactus/

Nisa
http://corporate.nisaretail.com/contacts

McColls, the Frozen sticker book is redeemable here.

http://www.martinmccoll.co.uk/contact-us.aspx

Co-op (they do in many stores now but worth checking)
http://www.co-operativefood.co.uk/contact-us/

Its porn, The Sun grooms children and its not okay to put this where children can see, and I don’t want to see it either.

Easy to grow plants to brighten up your home

Easy to grow plants to brighten up your home

If like me, plants are a wonderful but daunting prospect on top of the other living things you already care for,  but you would love more in your home, then today’s guest post on easy to grow plants is perfect for you.

Houseplants can brighten up any room in your home, but unless you have green fingers then you should select specimens that are easy to grow and don’t require too much looking after. Some plants grow better in certain locations, so we at More Th>n have selected some easy to grow plants, for different rooms, that shouldn’t let you down.

Bathroom

Some of the best plants to grow in your bathroom are orchids. You can buy really beautiful exotic orchids for not very much money, but often they bloom for a little while then when their blooms die after a few weeks they are over. However it you grow them in your bathroom they will go on and on; once the blooms are over just leave them for a few weeks and a new shoot will appear followed by a new crop of blooms.  Bathrooms provide just the right amount of humidity to keep the orchid happy, and the secret is to avoid over-watering it; the roots should be kept just very slightly damp and never drenched with water.

Kitchen

The conditions in most kitchens tend to be quite variable being quite hot and humid when things are being cooked.

Begonias tend to do very well in kitchens, and there are many different varieties of these plants with their bright and colourful blooms to choose from. In nature they grow in tropical forests, so they prefer warm shady conditions and do not do well in full sun; perfect for a kitchen location. African Violets and Busy Lizzie are also excellent choices.

Bedroom

Bedrooms tend to be cooler rooms and even on hot summer days we generally try to keep them cool by closing the blinds and opening the window. The types of plants that tend to thrive in these conditions are those that generally flower in the winter. Cyclamen is an excellent choice and is definitely one of the easy to grow plants. There is a wide range of colours; a dwarf Cyclamen can make an attractive addition to your dressing table.  Azalea is another excellent choice, and if you want to want to create an oriental feel and wonderful scent you could grow winter-flowering Jasmine over a trellis.

Living room

We have deliberately left the living room to last as it is the place that most people think of putting their houseplants, but as living rooms tend to be warm and dry they tend to also be the least plant-friendly room in the house. Cacti are a good choice for living rooms, and there is a huge range to choose from. Christmas cacti are a popular choice and grow very well; Bunny Ears and Peruvian Apple are also excellent choices. All of them are very easy to grow plants and need virtually no attention as long as you don’t let they dry out entirely; water them once a week in the hot weather.

Collaborative post. Photo credit Bill Gracey.

Camping with Kids: What to Pack?

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Today’s guest post couldn’t be more well timed, as we look to the summer holidays and start to think about what to pack. Here are some useful camping with kids packing ideas.

Is there anything more fun than a camping with kids? Some people may not agree, but the prospect of nipping off to a campsite (or pitching up in the middle of nowhere) for a few days fills many families with glee. Camping gives families a chance to spend some real quality time together, with no television or mod-cons to distract them – just conversation, games and all-out family fun!

Packing for a camping trip is very different to packing for a holiday abroad, though. You have to think about the cold nights wrapped up in a sleeping bag with only a little canvas for shelter, rather than sweltering bedrooms with air-conditioning. If you’re planning a trip away this summer, give the tent a clean, roll up the sleeping bags and take a look at this list of things you should pack, for both you, and the kids.

Warm clothing – make sure that you pack plenty of things that can be layered. Roll clothes up so that they stay wrinkle-free, while also taking up less space in the rucksacks.

Underwear – You can buy great value adult, boys and girl’s underwear from George at ASDA if you’d prefer not to take your finest undies. Make sure you take a couple of extra pairs, just in case it rains and you get soaked right through. They don’t take up much space anyway.

Waterproof jackets for when, inevitably, the clouds open! If you’re driving to a campsite where your car will be nearby, a pair of wellies in the boot would be handy too, just in case!

Some waterproof, comfortable shoes that will stand the tests of the weather, and also be supportive, warm and breathable for any activities that you choose during your stay.

Try to avoid jeans, because they are heavy and take ages to dry if they get wet. Opt, instead, for leggings or cotton trousers and shorts, which will not only be comfy but will be more suitable in any downpours.

Something warm to sleep in – some pj or tracksuit bottoms, thick socks and a hoodie, just in case it’s really cold! The beauty of having plenty of layering options means that, whatever the weather, you’re sorted, day and night.

A basic first aid kit, including plasters and Paracetamol. Take some antihistamines, Imodium and mosquito repellent, too.

Entertainment, just in case you have a rainy day. A book, some family-friendly games or a pack of playing cards would be perfect.

If you’re camping in a random spot, where there aren’t many facilities, a bin bag for your rubbish, and toilet rolls, are essential.

A torch, for those late night toilet calls.

A penknife can often be invaluable; as can gaffa tape (an instant fix for a punctured tent!)

Try and ensure that whatever you take will fit into your backpack, and take some carrier bags for dirty washing. Remember that you have got to carry it all, so don’t overpack – stick to the basics, and enjoy!

Heading to a festival? If you want more specific ideas on festival packing check out my Camp Bestival Packing list. Or if you have a car and fancy more home comforts at your camp, get some family glamping inspiration.

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My top ten budget travel tips

Top 10 Family Travel Budget Tips

 

See my travels!

I also blog at A Residence, you can see all of my travel posts, which inspired my top ten budget travel tips here:

We’ve worked with:
UK Youth Hostel Association
Visit Wales and the Welsh tourist board:
With the tourist board in Bologna, Italy via Twitter and Instagram:
And as Carnival Cruise Lines funnest family

My budget travel tips entry for CaxtonFX #holidayplannerMums