October 2023

10 Top Gifts For Football Fans

Perfect Gift Ideas For Football (Soccer) Fans

In our house, we are absolutely football-mad. And, by football I mean the round ball variety – soccer to our American followers! If you also have someone who loves football in your life, there’s no better way to spread that joy than by surprising them with the perfect gift tailored to their passion. Our comprehensive gift guide will help you score big with any football fan. As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links on this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more here. 1. Official Shirts Which hardened fan would not love the latest Official Football Shirt for a gift? 2. Scarves Whatever team you support a team scarf makes a perfect gift for keeping warm whilst cheering from the stands at your favourite ground. 3. Footballs The Official Champions League Football with star design will be a gift which will be enjoyed for hours on end. 4. Board Games Keep them away from electronics by going old school with these board games 5. Wall Art Soccer-themed wall decals, posters and canvas prints are some other great options. 6. Training Accessories For athletes who are committed to improving their skills and staying in peak form, there’s a treasure trove of training accessories waiting to be unwrapped as gifts. From agility ladders that enhance footwork to precision training cones for dribbling and passing drills, these accessories are the keys to success on the pitch. Speed and agility hurdles can help them enhance their mobility, while a durable rebounder net allows solo practice sessions, perfecting shooting and ball control. In addition, resistance bands and parachute sprints can intensify their workouts, making them stronger and faster. These accessories not only amplify their training regimens but also reflect your support for their passion and dedication to the sport. 7. Football Accessories From bags, socks and drink bottles to phone covers, mugs and key rings. There is a plethora of gifts for all budgets. 8. Books If you’re on the hunt for a gift that’s not just a mere token of appreciation but a window into a world of passion and dedication, look no further than a football book. For the football lover in your life, a well-chosen book can be more than just a present; it’s an invitation to explore the rich history, profound stories, and tactical intricacies of the beautiful game. Whether they’re a lifelong fan or a budding enthusiast, a book can transport them to legendary matches, into the minds of iconic players, and even behind the scenes of their favourite clubs. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, offering hours of enjoyment and knowledge. 9. Nightwear Looking for a gift that lets your favourite football fan carry their passion into the dream world? Football-themed nightwear is the perfect way to do just that. Imagine them cosying up in pyjamas or lounging in comfy sleepwear adorned with the emblems of their cherished team or the iconic football patterns. It’s not just a gift; it’s a daily reminder of their unwavering love for the sport. 10. Crocs For football enthusiasts who relish comfort without compromising on style, Crocs are the game-changer you’ve been looking for. These versatile and lightweight footwear options not only offer the ultimate comfort but also allow football fans to proudly display their passion wherever they go. With a variety of colours and customizable designs, you can gift them a pair of Crocs that perfectly match their favourite team’s colours or bears the logo of their beloved club. In the world of sports, few passions rival the unbridled love for football. As we’ve explored these ten exceptional gift ideas, we’ve unearthed a treasure trove of ways to celebrate that devotion. From football strips and books to training equipment and personalized merchandise, there’s something for every football fan, for every occasion. Whether it’s a birthday, Christmas or just a heartfelt gesture, these gifts convey your appreciation for their unwavering support of the beautiful game. Sharing Is Caring: Related Articles You Might Enjoy:

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How To Bake The Perfect Christmas Cake

Whilst it may feel as if summer has only just come to an end this blog is about the C-word!  Yes, Christmas!  It’s only October, and we’re just beginning to adjust to the cooler weather, but when it comes to Christmas cake, it’s time to start baking now. Because, if you want to bake the perfect Christmas cake, timing is everything. For me, Christmas baking always takes place during the last weekend of October.  This Tasty Thursday, get your supplies early to prepare the perfect Christmas cake in time. As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links on this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more here. The Tradition of the Christmas Cake Christmas cake began as plum porridge, ideal for filling stomachs on Christmas Eve after religious fasting. Back then, dried fruit were generally known as plums hence the name plum cake or pudding.   In the 16th Century, wealthier families began making today’s fruit cakes with spices representing those offered to Jesus by the Wise Men. However, the Puritan government banned Christmas in the UK during the mid-17th Century. They deemed the celebrations a mere pagan festival and an excuse for dancing, singing, and drinking since the 25th of December is not a festive day in the Bible. The government banned Christmas, kept shops open, and closed churches to prevent Christmas services. This brought about violent disturbances and looting throughout the UK eventually leading to a rebellion and a second Civil War.  In fact, the ban had the opposite effect to that which the government was seeking to achieve because although people became less religious the ban did not stop them from continuing to treat the occasion as a reason to eat, drink and have fun!  It was not until the reinstatement of the monarch eighteen years later that the official celebration of Christmas returned. Abolition of the 12th Night Celebrations The UK celebrated the traditional 12th night celebrations until the late 19th century, during which people enjoyed fruit cakes. However, Queen Victoria banned this tradition as it was not considered a Christian festival.  The ban caused confectioners to lose money, giving rise to modern Christmas cakes with decorated icing for celebrations Royal Icing People traditionally used royal icing to decorate Christmas cakes. It earned its name “royal” icing because it was the icing used for decorating the wedding cakes of the British Royal family. Today, people decorate Christmas cakes with either royal icing or fondant.  I use Deliah Smith’s recipe found here and decorate my cake with marzipan and fondant icing. Feeding Your Cake So you might be thinking why do we make our Christmas cakes in October?  The answer is easy.  “Feeding” ensures a deliciously moist, boozy cake for Christmas day. “Feeding” refers to adding alcohol (typically Brandy, sometimes Whiskey) to the cake.  I do this on a weekly basis up to the week before Christmas itself.  This is when I cover my cake with marzipan.  To do this I recommend that you use apricot jam to make sure that the marzipan sticks onto the cake.  I bring 3 tablespoons of the jam to the boil together with a tiny amount of water and then strain it through a sieve to make sure that there are no lumps.  Using a  pastry brush, brush the cake board with a little of the jam to prevent the cake from sliding about.  Level the top of the cake if needed and measure out the cake so that you know how big you need to roll the marzipan.  A good tip for doing this is to use a piece of string to measure the top and sides of the cake.  Once you have done this cut out the string and this will tell you how big the marzipan needs to be.  Follow this video for a simple step-by-step guide. Icing Your Cake Once the marzipan is dry (I usually cover my cake with a clean tea towel for 2 days for the marzipan to dry) it is time to ice the cake.  I prefer buying Ready Rolled Icing as this saves a lot of time and gives you a clean, smooth finish to your cake.  Make sure you have an Icing Smoother tool to give you a perfect finish. To decorate your cake you can buy an edible icing cake topper such as this one or you can keep your cake nice and simple and add some simple icing snowflakes.  I find that this gives you a very simple but elegant looking cake.  This edible cake ribbon would also give your cake a nice finish. I have made countless cakes over the years and each year I try to give it a different look.  Here are some of my Christmas cakes (remember I am a mere hobby baker!)    Nothing Beats Homemade Whilst there are countless ready-made Christmas cakes which you could buy, nothing beats homemade.  I hope that this blog inspires you to have a go at baking your own Christmas cake this year. Sharing Is Caring: Related Articles You Might Enjoy:

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First Mammogram

First Mammogram: Top 5 Tips for First-Timers

Mammograms, a vital tool in breast cancer screening and early detection. However, the prospect of your first mammogram can be intimidating. As women ourselves and with a few mammograms under our belt, we understand that the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding this procedure can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together these top five tips to help you prepare for your first mammogram and ensure the experience is as comfortable and stress-free as possible. Remember that early detection can save lives, and this simple procedure plays a crucial role in your breast health. As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links on this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more here. 1. Understand the Basics Understanding what the procedure involves, before your first mammogram can ease some of the anxiety you are feeling.  A mammogram is essentially an X-ray of your breasts, which helps detect any abnormalities or signs of breast cancer, such as lumps or calcifications. The process is relatively quick, typically lasting around 15 minutes. You’ll be asked to stand in front of a specialised mammography machine, and a board-certified technologist (typically called a mammographer) will compress your breast between two plates to capture the X-ray images. Whilst some women may find it painful, you will find that the general consensus is that while it’s certainly an uncomfortable feeling, it isn’t considered excruciatingly painful.  2. Schedule Wisely Choose a convenient time for your mammogram when your breasts are less likely to be sensitive. Generally, it’s best to schedule the appointment a week or two after your period when your breasts are less tender. If you’ve had breast implants, inform the healthcare facility so they can provide the necessary accommodations. My first mammogram exam was carried out whilst on my period. I definitely do NOT recommend it.  3. Dress Comfortably The best advice I got from a friend was to wear a two-piece outfit on the day of your mammogram. This way you only need to remove your top.  Avoid wearing deodorant, powder, or lotions on your chest area as these substances can interfere with the X-ray.  4. Discuss Any Concerns If you have any concerns or questions about the mammogram, don’t hesitate to discuss them with your healthcare provider or the technician performing the procedure.  Understanding the process and having your questions answered can help ease any anxiety you might be feeling. 5. Relaxation Techniques Feeling anxious before your first mammogram is totally natural. However, you can employ relaxation techniques to help calm your nerves.  Deep breathing exercises, meditation, or even bringing a friend or family member along for support can be beneficial. Many facilities (not all as we have NOT experienced this) also offer amenities like soothing music or even warm blankets to help you feel more comfortable during the procedure. Conclusion Your first mammogram is definitely a milestone in your breast health journey. It’s essential to be prepared both physically and emotionally. Personally, I was a bag of nerves before my first exam, but I was lucky enough that my mammogram was carried out by a kind and empathetic technician, who instantly put me at ease. Early detection of breast cancer is the key to successful treatment and recovery, making the mammogram an invaluable tool. By understanding the process, scheduling wisely, dressing comfortably, discussing concerns with your healthcare provider, and employing relaxation techniques, you can ensure a smoother and more comfortable experience.  Please remember that your health is your top priority, and your first mammogram is a crucial step in maintaining it.  Don’t hesitate to take that step. Sharing Is Caring: Related Articles You Might Enjoy:

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10 Essential PMS Self-Care Tips

10 Essential PMS Self-Care Tips

We’ve all been there – those days when PMS shows up unannounced, and suddenly, life feels like a whirlwind of emotions and cravings. But fear not, because we’re about to dish out some good old-fashioned wisdom on how to handle it like a champ. Welcome to our guide on “10 Essential PMS Self-Care Tips” – a lifeline for those moments when you just need some extra TLC. No rocket science here, just practical, down-to-earth advice to help you stay on top of your game.  So grab a cup of tea, cosy up, and let’s navigate this wild ride together! As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links on this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more here. My First Period And The Unfamiliar Body Changes The memory of my first period is firmly engraved in my mind. I was just twelve years old, and my understanding of the changes happening in my body was limited at best. My mother offered me the most basic of explanations: ‘You are bleeding, this means you are now a grown woman’, and that was pretty much it. Back then, the internet and other resources weren’t available to help me grasp the intricacies of these changes happening to me. All I knew was that once a month I would bleed and that I despised these changes with an undying passion. I know, quite dramatic, right? But that’s precisely how I felt at the time. There’s a particular memory that always springs to mind whenever I chat about this with friends. It was my very first night trying to sleep wearing a menstrual pad, and I remember asking God, ‘Why me?’ As if I was the only female in the world going through this ordeal. The whole thing makes me laugh now, but let’s face it, it’s quite sad. I felt alone, confused and to some point afraid that I would never sleep well again (little did I know my daughter would destroy my sleep pattern 10 years later). As Far As Periods Go……I Have Been Blessed! As far as periods go, I’ve been quite fortunate. I’ve never had to endure excruciating period pains that can bring you to the brink of passing out. My menstrual cycles have always been regular with a moderate flow. Of course, there have been the occasional months when discomfort reared its ugly head, not to mention the notorious mood swings. That aspect of PMS has always been the reigning force in my life.  At almost forty-five, my periods have now dwindled to a mere 3-day bleed. A recent conversation with a doctor revealed that my lining is nearly non-existent. Apparently, a certain doctor may have gotten a tad carried away when performing my two D&Cs, but hey, that’s a story for another time.  Nevertheless, it goes without saying that the symptoms persist, regardless of my flow. The fatigue, achy breasts, headaches, bloating and an overall feeling of ‘Yuck’ linger. And, of course, as mentioned earlier, those uncontrollable mood swings still make their grand entrance.  Gathering Self-Care Tips During The Years After so many years of ‘enjoying’ monthly cycles, discussions with friends and experiencing my daughter’s own journey, I’ve gathered a collection of tried and tested self-care tips. These nuggets of wisdom may or may not prove to be useful to others. When it comes to health and well-being, what works wonders for one may not have the same effect for another. And that’s fine. We’re each on our own unique path, often filled with trials and errors, seeking what best aligns with our individual needs.  10 Essential Self-Care Tips To Manage PMS Like A Pro 1. Prioritise Nutrition While it might seem like an obvious choice, it’s surprising how often we don’t prioritize our nutrition. I can certainly admit that I haven’t always made it a top priority in the past. When that time of the month rolls around, all I crave is comfort food. I often find myself having to consciously remind myself to make smarter food choices, knowing that they’ll ultimately help me feel better in the long run.  A balanced diet can make a significant difference during PMS. Opting for whole grains, lean proteins and plenty of fruits and vegetables can help you maintain stable blood sugar levels and reduce cravings. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts can be a game-changer when it comes to alleviating bloating and mood swings! A few months back I read a life-changing book called – Fast Like A Girl, by Dr Mindy Peltz. Whilst this book primarily teaches you how to ‘fast like a girl’ it also includes over 50 recipes based on two food plans – the ketobiotic and hormone feasting plans, both tailored to optimize women’s hormonal balance. And if you want to read my full review of this book, check it out here! If what you are lacking is inspiration, check out these nutrition books written by women, for women. 2. Stay Hydrated Ensuring proper hydration is a critical factor in alleviating bloating and minimizing the discomfort of headaches and fatigue. Recently, I’ve been more disciplined in this regard, thanks to a little technological assistance. Setting alarms on my smartwatch to remind me to take a sip of water every 15 minutes has proven to be quite helpful.  Herbal teas like ginger or chamomile can also provide comfort and relaxation. Keep that trusty water bottle by your side throughout the day – it’s like a motivational sidekick that’ll keep you on track! 3. Regular Exercise A few years back, I was dedicated to working out daily. However, fast forward five years, and it’s become more of a struggle. Nevertheless, I’ve come to realize the importance of regular physical activity in managing symptoms like cramps and mood swings. Incorporating exercises like yoga, stretching,

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Pumpkin Carving & Soup

As Halloween is rapidly approaching shop entrances are full of pumpkins.  Whilst pumpkin carving is a tradition which is widely celebrated in the US it has also grown in popularity elsewhere.  It is an activity which my family really enjoys and, over the years we have had quite a variety of designs for our Halloween pumpkins.  But, have you ever wondered why people carve pumpkins in the first place?  And, once you have carved your pumpkin, what do you do with the pumpkin flesh itself?  In this blog post we will look at both the history of pumpkin carving and provide you with a delicious pumpkin soup recipe. As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links on this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more here. History The tradition of pumpkin carving originates from an 18th-century Irish myth.   The story goes that a blacksmith known as Stingy Jack was banned from both heaven and hell after tricking the devil twice.  In the first instance, Stingy Jack, invited the devil to a drink but refused to pay.  He convinced the devil to turn himself into a coin so that he could use that to pay for the drinks.  The devil obliged but, instead of paying for the drinks, Jack kept the money in his pocket next to a silver cross.  This prevented the devil from changing back to his original form. Eventually Jack freed the devil subject to the devil agreeing not to bother Jack for a year and promising that should Jack die he would not claim his soul.  A year later, Jack again tricked the devil.  This time asking the devil to climb up a tree to pick some fruit.  While he was there, Jack carved a sign of the cross on the tree bark so that the devil could not get down and made the devil promise not to bother Jack for ten more years. It is said that upon Jack’s death the devil took pity on Stingy Jack and gave him an ember of coal to use in his turnip lantern as he wandered the earth throughout eternity.  From here Stingy Jack gained the nickname of Jack-of-the-Lantern, or jack-o-lantern and people began carving demonic faces out of turnips to frighten away Jack’s soul. Pumpkins Upon moving to the US, Irish immigrants continued this tradition but upon finding that pumpkins, which are native to North America, are a much better canvas for creative designs the today’s pumpkin carving tradition was born.   Carving Your Pumpkin When it is time to carve your pumpkin be sure to have all the supplies you need to ensure a suitably ghoulish result. Firstly, choose a pumpkin that is smooth and has a flat base.  This will ensure that it is stable whilst carving and when it is on display. Secondly, consider investing in some specialised tools such as these to make cutting easier and safer.  I also like to use stencils such as these for my designs.  Alternatively, you can also print out a picture and use it to trace the image onto the pumpkin before cutting.  This will allow you to create detailed designs. Once you have cut out your design,  scoop out the flesh from the pumpkin and add a candle or an LED light to illuminate your lantern.   You should aim to scoop out as much of the flesh as possible, keeping the walls of the pumpkin around 1cm thick. Pumpkin Soup So once you’ve finished carving your pumpkin what should you do with the flesh?  Well, waste not want not, like my gran always says.  Use the delicious pumpkin flesh to create a scrumptious soup – perfect for the cooler weather.  If you are using a pumpkin weighing around  2-3kg you should end up with between 700 and 1000g of pumpkin flesh. We love using this to make this creamy pumpkin soup Ingredients Directions Happy Carving and Happy Halloween We love hearing from you.  Why not engage with us on our social media platforms and share pictures of your pumpkin creations? If you love soup during this time of year, check out some of our other delicious soup recipes here. Sharing Is Caring: Related Articles You Might Enjoy:

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Visiting NYC in the fall

Whilst looking for photographs for the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party blog I came across tons of photographs from other holidays.  I was specifically drawn to those of New York City, a place which holds very special memories for me.  New York is where Dani and I got engaged.  We also spent part of our Honeymoon there. And, six months after our wedding, it is also where we found out I was expecting Evan.  More recently I have very happy memories of having visited New York with the kids during the autumn midterm break.  Given that midterm is once again around the corner, the photos inspired me to write this blog. Here we will provide hightlight what the city has to offer families visiting NYC in the fall. The City That Never Sleeps It is true that New York is the city that never sleeps and, if you are after a fun nightlife then this is certainly the place for you.  However, as you would expect from a city like New York, there are activities for all ages. It is a really fun place to visit as a family.   Whilst it can be unbearably hot during the summer, October is an ideal time to visit New York. The city comes alive with vibrant autumn colours and the cooler weather makes it the perfect time for sightseeing. If you are spending a few days in New York these are some of the kid friendly activities we recommend you try out. Parks and Outdoor Activities Central Park Central Park is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of Manhattan and enjoy the breathtaking fall foliage.  We like checking out some local delis and buying some delicious goodies to enjoy in the park.  A pocket waterproof blanket like this is lightweight – perfect for packing your bag for an impromptu picnic in the park. If you want to explore Central Park fully, be sure to allow at least 4-6 hours.  Download a map of the park here.  Walk around the park enjoying the natural scenery and sites such as Bethseda Fountain or Bow Bridge (from which you can see the famous Ghostbuster towers) or take a ride on the carousel.  Prices are just $3.25 per person so it is an affordable and fun activity.   Central Park Zoo Central Park zoo is definitely a must-do when visiting NYC with children. Here you will find sea lions, penguins, lemurs, snow leopards, red pandas, Grizzly bears and more.  Opening times during October until November 4th are from 10.00am-5.00pm on weekdays and until 5.30pm on weekends.  After this date, the park will close at the earlier time of 4.30pm until March 29th. Admission fee is $19.95 for adults and children over 13. Children aged 3-12 pay $14.95 and those over 65 $16.95.  Children under 2 years old visit for free. You can also rent a rowboat from Loeb Boathhouse or take a tour on a gondola.  We rented a rowboat the last time we were in New York and had fun out on the lake. It was a little too much excitement for Jamie (then aged almost 3) who fell asleep in the boat shortly after this photo was taken! Other fun activities around the park include catching a puppet show at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre.  You can check out upcoming performances and buy tickets here. If you don’t have much time or struggle long distances, why not take a horse and carriage ride?  We actually did this before starting our walk around the park and really enjoyed the experience (despite the look on Jamie’s face in this photo!). A 20-25 minute ride costs around $90 but you can get more information here.  The High Line You will find this elevated park on a former rail track.  During the mid-1800s deliveries of coal, dairy and beef products were made via the railroad tracks along 10th and 11th Avenue.  However, this was a dangerous process despite warnings the lines still saw some 548 deaths and over 1,500 injuries.  The solution to this problem was to elevate the tracks. This resulted in the high line being used from around 1933 to 1978. The line was then disconnected from the national railway system due to its limited use.  Thereafter it fell into disrepair until 2006 following calls from residents along the High Line to preserve and re-purpose the old train line.   Today, following extensive works, the High Line provides 1.45 miles of beautifully landscaped gardens and offers a unique perspective of the city.  Another bonus point is that it is completely free.  Hudson River Park, Pier 25 Pier 25 is the longest pier at Hudson River Park. Here you can find an 18-hole mini golf course (paid activity), sand volleyball courts and a children’s play area.  The play area includes swings, climbing frames and water features. Beyond the playground, you will also find a grass field where your little ones can burn off even more energy.   Byrant Park When visiting NYC in the fall you will be able to enjoy ice skating at Bryant Park as from the end of October.  Admission is free although skate rentals range from $18-55.  Check out their website for opening times, rental prices and information on bag storage. Museums and Educational Fun Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) If you’re an art enthusiast, MoMA offers free admission on Fridays from 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM. Explore iconic works of art from Picasso to Warhol.    American Museum of Natural History We have visited the Natural History Museum in London and also in San Diego but have not yet had the chance to visit the one in New York.   That said I have read many good things about the museum in New York and it is definitely on my “must visit” list for next time. Before your visit, download a free Explorer App for turn-by-turn directions to exhibits.   Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum We had a really enjoyable afternoon discovering historic aircraft,

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Gift Ideas For Book Lovers

Gift Ideas For Book Lovers

Are you searching for the perfect gift for the bookworm in your life? Do you know someone who always has their nose in a book? Just because bookworms love reading, it doesn’t mean books are the only gifts they’ll enjoy. Plenty of options are available to bring joy to a book lover, and they don’t always involve a book! If you’re in need of unique gift ideas, you’ve come to the right place. We are both book lovers, so compiling this list of gift ideas for book lovers has been a fun ride, to say the least. 1. Kindle E-Reader Amazon’s own e-reader is a great gift for book lovers, allowing them to carry an entire library in a single device. There are a few options available, depending on your budget.  2. Gift Cards A gift card to a local or online bookstore allows the recipient to choose their own books.  3. Bookmarks A beautiful bookmark is a simple yet heartfelt gesture that adds a touch of elegance to the reading experience.  4. Bookish T-Shirts and Merchandise Amazon offers a wide range of clothing and merchandise featuring book-related quotes and designs. Here are a few of my favourites: 5. Personalized Bookplates These can be used to mark a book as the recipient’s own. 6. Customized Library Stamp Same as with bookplates. Can be personalized with the recipient’s name 7. Bookshelves and Bookends Unique bookshelves or decorative bookends can enhance a book lover’s home library. 8. Book Cart Trolley This one comes in super handy, and it’s also easy to personalize with bookish stickers. 9. Literary Coffee Mugs  Mugs featuring famous quotes from literature or the names of beloved authors are a hit among book enthusiasts. 10. Reading Lamps  Adjustable and well-designed reading lamps can make reading more enjoyable. 11. Special Edition Books Gifting a set of classic books or a special edition of a favourite book is always appreciated. 12. Bookish Jewellery Items like necklaces, bracelets, or earrings featuring literary themes make for stylish gifts. 13. Bookstore-Scented Candles Candles inspired by the scent of old books or libraries are a unique gift idea. 14. Noise-Cancelling Headphones A quiet environment is essential for reading, so good-quality headphones can be a valuable gift. 15. Book Tote Bags Stylish and durable totes that allow book lovers to carry their books with them. 16. Amazon Kindle Unlimited Subscription For avid e-readers, a subscription to Kindle Unlimited gives access to a vast library of e-books. 17. Book Journal 18. Book Sleeve A practical and stylish gift, offering protection and personalization for their beloved books. 19. Bookish Keyring A charming way to help someone carry their love of literature wherever they go, adding a touch of bookish flair to their everyday life. 20. Book Lovers Plaque  A delightful way to celebrate their passion for reading, adding a touch of literary charm to their home decor and affirming their love for books. 21. Book-themed Cushions A cosy and imaginative way to provide both comfort and inspiration, allowing the recipient to curl up with a good book while surrounded by the warmth of literary decor. 22. Bookish Stickers A fun and creative way to let someone express their passion for books and literature by adorning their belongings with literary-themed designs. Conclusion: I hope you’ve found this list of gift ideas for book lovers to be helpful and inspiring. Now, it’s your turn to share with us – which item from the list is your favourite, and who do you plan to gift it to? Personally, I have my eye on those bookish stickers; there’s something uniquely charming about adding a touch of literature to everyday items. Whether you’re treating yourself or surprising a fellow book enthusiast, these gifts are sure to bring joy to the hearts of those who cherish the magic of reading!! Sharing Is Caring: Related Articles You Might Enjoy:

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Halloween Party Drinks

Welcome to the third instalment of our Halloween party planning series. In this spooky edition we are diving in to the world of Halloween drinks. Whether you are hosting a family friendly gathering or an adults only party we’ve got you covered. Vampire Blood Punch Children love the idea of disgustingly named food and drinks at a party and with this punch, they will not be disappointed. That said, neither will the adults if you choose to make the alcoholic version! For the kiddie version combine 1/2 a cup each of cranberry juice, pomegranate juice and sparkling water in a punch bowl. Add a splash of grenadine for extra sweetness and garnish with gummy vampire fangs or plastic vampire teeth. The alcohol version has apple cider, rum, orange juice and grenade – I love the sound of this already! Combine 2 cups of apple cider, 1 cup of orange juice and 1 cup of spiced rum in a punch bowl. Slowly pour grenadine syrup over the back of a spoon to create a layered effect and garnish with gummy worms. Witches’ Brew Mocktail Mix 1/2 cup apple juice, 1/2 cup each of orange juice and cranberry juice and a squeeze of lime juice. Serve in a glass with a gummy worm or an edible eyeball as a spooky garnish. Spider Cider Heat 1 cup of apple cider with a cinnamon stick and 3-4 whole cloves. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly. Serve in a glass with a plastic spider ring hanging on the rim. Pumpkin Spice Milkshake Blend 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream with ¼  cup of pumpkin puree, ½ cup of milk, ½ teaspoon of pumpkin spice, and a drizzle of caramel sauce until smooth. Top with whipped cream, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a cinnamon stick for stirring. Monster Bash Smoothie Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth and serve in a tall glass with a fun Halloween straw. Orange Scream Soda Place the sherbet in a tall glass then pour in the orange soda. Top with whipped cream and garnish with candy corn Poisoned Apple Martini In a cocktail shaker , combine 1.5 oz apple vodka, 1 oz sour apple liqueur, ½ oz lemon juice, and a splash of grenadine. Shake well and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a slice of apple or a black licorice stick. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add 2oz of apple-flavoured vodka, 1oz sour apple liqueur and 1/2oz of cranberry juice. Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass. Cheers Witches! These bewitching drinks are sure to add a spooky flair to your Halloween party. Whether you are raising a glass with a toxic martini or sipping a monster mash smoothie, these recipes will delight guests of all ages. Here’s to a night filled with enchantment, where the spooky becomes spectacular and the eerie turns extraordinary. Cheers, witches! Sharing Is Caring: Related Articles You Might Enjoy:

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Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

Those who know me well know how much I absolutely love Disney.  Since we had children we have visited DisneyLand and Disneyland Paris (twice) and been to Disney World three times.  A lot has changed over the years (some things not for the better!) But, one thing Disney always guarantees is…FUN!!  Whilst I have yet to sit down and plan out my ultimate Disney guide I have managed to put together a spooktacular guide to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.  So, if you are planning a magical adventure to Disney during the October half term you’re in for a real treat – or maybe a trick!  Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party(or MNSSHP for short) is a bewitching event that should be at the top of your must-do list if you’re visiting the Disney parks during the Halloween season. This special event offers a unique and spooky experience that’s perfect for families and Disney enthusiasts alike. In this guide, we’ll give you all the details you need to make the most of your visit to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. What is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party? Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is an extra-ticketed event that takes place on select nights throughout the Halloween season at the Magic Kingdom Park in Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, Florida. It’s a fantastic opportunity for guests of all ages to experience the magic of Disney while enjoying a Halloween twist. Here’s what you can expect: Trick-or-Treating One of the highlights of the party is trick-or-treating throughout the park. Kids (and kids at heart) can collect candies and goodies at various treat stations.  Each guest will be provided with a reusable trick or treating bag but these are on the small side.  So, if you want to take a big candy haul home, be sure to bring your own treat bags.  Alternatively purchase a cool light up Mickey’ cauldron like we did.  We guarantee you will absolutely be needing a container of some description to carry your loot! Disney being Disney they have thought of everything.  You will easily find the treat stations marked by large glowing inflatables.  There are also allergy-friendly stations so no one needs to miss out on the trick or treating fun. Themed Decorations Halloween decorations throughout the park create a hauntingly delightful atmosphere. Themed Merchandise You will find plenty of Halloween themed merch throughout Disney during the MNSSHP.  Some items are exclusive to MNSSHP so I recommend that you check them out (and buy them) early on.  They are very popular and likely to sell out quickly.  I also recommend that you take an empty suitcase -there is just too much cool stuff to buy! Exclusive Entertainment Enjoy special Halloween-themed parades and shows throughout the evening such as: Mickey’s “Boo-To-You”  Halloween Parade.   The parade starts off with a headless horseman and you can expect to see your favouite character.  From Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto to Clarabelle Cow, grave diggers, ghosts and villains. Two top tips with regards to this parade: (i) the headless horseman appears 15 minutes before the start of the parade so be sure to grab your viewing spot nice and early; and (ii) the parade takes place at 9.15pm and at 11.15pm.  I recommend trying to catch the first parade if possible as this is for me the main highlight of the evening.  Parades are often delayed or cancelled due to inclement weather. Catching the first parade therefore gives you an extra chance not to miss out if the early one is cancelled. Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular Head over to the Castle Forecourt Stage to catch the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus.  Check the daily timetable for show times. Cadaver Dans Barbershop Quartet A spooky change to the Dapper Dans usual quartet performance.  There are various performances throughout the evening. Rusty Cutlass A new show for 2023 features a pirate band at Adventureland playing classic pirate shanties. Disney Junior Jam A dance party for little ones featuring Vamperina, Fancy Nancy, Doc McStuffins and Timon! Zom-Beatz Bash Another dance party featuring a zombie, werewolf and alien, and, if you are really lucky, you might also dance alongside Max Goof! Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular A special fireworks and projection show hosted by Jack Skellington.  An absolute do not miss! Character Meet-and-Greets Meet some rare Disney characters such as Jack Skellington and Sally and other characters in special Halloween attire.  Be sure to also snap some memorable photos along the many special 3D photo backdrops throughout the park. Unique Attractions Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party can be the perfect time to ride some of the rides which typically have really long wait times.  The limited number of partygoers means that rides will likely have shorter lines during the party. Whilst Genie+:is not available during the party, Disney is introducing a new virtual queue known as TRON Lightcycle Run for 2023.  Using the My Disney Experience app you will be able to join a virtual queue as from 6pm.  Once your group time is called you then have one hour to tap into the ride. Special Snacks Indulge in seasonal treats and beverages available exclusively during the event.  This Minnie Mouse toffee apple was almost too good to eat! There will be plenty of other exclusive and delicious treats around the park.  Be sure to check them out.   Costume Fun Dressing up is encouraged! Many guests come in costume, so get creative and join the Halloween fun. Be sure to check Disney’s costume guidelines for the event.  The photo below is from quite a few years back.  Rules are much more stringent now and costumes like my husband wore below are no longer permitted. At the time of writing this blog the rules on costumes were as follows: Guests aged 13 and under Children under the age of 13 may wear costumes and masks which do not obstruct peripheral vision (and where the eyes can be fully seen) can be worn. Guests

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Top 10 Witch Books

Top 10 Witch Books For Your Halloween TBR

As Halloween approaches, why not immerse yourself in some of the best witch books out there? Ever since I was a child, reading about witches and their magic has been my favourite form of escape from the mundane. As an adult, not much has changed. To this day, if given the choice between contemporary fiction and a witch book, I will always opt for the latter. So, with that in mind, let us delve into my top 10 witch books. 1. The Once And Future Witches – Alix E. Harrow In the year 1893, witches are but a distant memory, their once-powerful ways reduced to mere superstitions. Women now seek influence at the ballot box, leaving behind the old arts of witchcraft. However, when the Eastwood sisters, join the suffragists in New Salem, they embark on a path that rekindles the forgotten magic within them. As shadows close in and ominous forces threaten their very existence, the sisters must delve into ancient magics, form new alliances, and mend the bonds between them to survive.  Witches may have faded from memory, but in their quest for equality, these sisters may bring their magic back to life. There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be. Discover a captivating tale of feminism and witchcraft in this compelling historical novel. 2. The Black Witch – Laurie Forest A new Black Witch will rise…her powers vast beyond imagining. Elloren Gardner stands as the granddaughter and mirror image of the late Black Witch, revered as the most potent mage among her people, the Gardnerians. Yet, in a society that elevates magical prowess above all else, Elloren possesses no magical abilities of her own. Amidst the weight of expectations to carry on Carnissa Gardner’s formidable legacy, Elloren seizes a chance to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary. She enrols at the esteemed Verpax University alongside her brothers, aiming to carve her destiny free from her grandmother’s looming shadow. However, the university, admitting a diverse array of individuals, including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals—the sworn enemies of Gardnerians—proves to be perilous ground for the Black Witch’s granddaughter. As darkness gathers on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage intensifies, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away.  Her best chance of survival might lie within an unlikely group of outsiders, but only if she can summon the courage to trust those she has been raised to despise and fear 3. Kingdom Of The Wicked – Kerri Maniscalco In a chilling tale of two sisters, a gruesome murder, and an unrelenting quest for revenge, Hell itself will be unleashed… Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe, witches concealed within the human world, always cautious to evade notice and persecution. However, one fateful evening, Vittoria fails to appear for the family’s celebrated Sicilian restaurant’s dinner service. Emilia’s world shatters when she discovers her beloved twin’s mutilated body, an unimaginable desecration. Consumed by grief, Emilia embarks on a relentless mission to track down her sister’s murderer and exact vengeance, even if it means delving into the forbidden realms of dark magic. It’s during this journey that Emilia crosses paths with Wrath, one of the Wicked princes of Hell, the very beings she’s been cautioned about since childhood. Wrath professes allegiance to Emilia’s cause, assigned by his master to solve the series of gruesome women’s murders plaguing the island. But when it involves the enigmatic Wicked, appearances can be deceiving, and nothing is as it seems… 4. Serpent & Dove – Shelby Mahurin Bound as one, to love, honour, or burn.  Two years ago, Louise le Blanc escaped her coven’s clutches, finding refuge in the bustling city of Cesarine. In her pursuit of freedom, she abandoned her magical heritage, relying on her wits and cunning to survive through pilfering. However, in a place where witches like Lou are relentlessly pursued, they live in constant fear of persecution and burning at the stake. Reid Diggory, a devout huntsman of the Church, has devoted his life to one sacred principle: ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.’ Yet, when Lou orchestrates a daring escapade, their fates collide in an utterly improbable manner—forcing them into a marriage neither desires. As their hearts betray them, and their emotions intensify, Lou faces an agonizing decision. Love, they say, has the power to render even the wisest of us foolish. 5. Spellbreaker – Charlie N. Holmberg As a girl, orphaned Elsie Camden learned that there were two kinds of wizards in the world: buyers of magic and gifted rule-breakers like her. Her unlicensed gift is a crime. The Cowls, an underground group, enlist her to defy aristocrats, channelling her love for Robin Hood. Elite magic user Bacchus Kelsey, close to mastership, catches Elsie breaking an enchantment. To safeguard her secret, she strikes a deal—fix his unruly spells, and he won’t betray her. Trust and affection bloom as they work together. Yet, as murders of wizards surge, Elsie’s unease about stolen spellbooks grows. For a rogue spellbreaker like Elsie, much remains to be learned about her powers, her family, Bacchus, and the lurking dangers on her destined journey. Can she unveil the mystery before losing all she cherishes? 6. The Bear And The Nightingale – Katherine Arden Nestled in a remote village on the fringes of the untamed northern Russian wilderness, where the icy winds howl relentlessly and snow blankets the land for the majority of the year, an elderly servant weaves enchanting narratives for the family’s children. Tales of sorcery, folklore, and the enigmatic Winter King. An ancient magic that the church frowns upon. Yet, for the spirited and untamed Vasya, these stories are not mere fables. She possesses a unique ability to perceive the protective house spirits that watch over her home and to discern the rapid increase of malevolent magic forces lurking within the forest. 7. The Nature Of Witches – Rachel Griffin In a world where witches wield control over the climate, facing

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