Recipes

Cocktails to Ring in the New Year

It’s hard to believe that 2017 will be over in just a few days.  With 2018 on our doorstep, it’s time to think about how it will be our best year yet and making resolutions to get there.  Are you looking for a fun way to ring the New Year?  Perhaps one of these cocktails is the perfect way to bring in the New Year.  So whether you like your cocktails with a fruity kick or with hint of chocolate, this list of cocktails is perfect for you.

 The Pomegranate Wine Spritzer from Chaos Is Bliss

 

Slow Cooker Spiced Mulled Wine from Wander Spice

 

The Absolutely Essential Espresso Martini by Mamagourmand

 

Game of Thrones Inspired Frozen Hot Chocolate with Baileys Irish Creme by Merlot Mommy

 

Bourbon Pecan Pie Cocktail by Basil & Bubbly

 

The Grinch Cocktail by Mom on the Side

 

Easy Cranberry Orange Daiquiris by Small Town Woman

Strawberry Cream Mimosa by Swanky Recipes

Cranberry Mint Cocktail by Fancy Shanty

Cinnamon Coffee Martini by The Anthony Kitchen

 

Parenting/Life

An open letter to last minute holiday shoppers

It’s only days before Christmas and the stores are jammed with those getting their last minute shopping done.  Normally I am one of them, but luckily this year, aside from a Secret Santa gift, I am completely done.  I know what I need to get and where to get it and will be in and out in hopefully less than 10 minutes.

Over the years I have seen 2 different types of last minute shoppers.  They are:

1. The “I never meant to leave it this late.” Shoppers

These are the shoppers that truly did not ever want to leave their shopping this late.  They hate the crowds but life sometimes gets in the way and schedules don’t always fall into perfect place.  They have their list ready, they know what stores they want to hit and knowing that it is this last in the game, they have a back up list in case  the items they want are not available.   They go in with a mission and do not stray from that mission.  They are patient, they are courteous and they try to make the entire experience pleasant as possible for everyone involved.

2.  The “I don’t care about anyone but myself.” Shoppers

These are the shoppers that quite frankly, feel like Christmas is more of a nuisance than it is about family and giving.  They can’t be bothered to think ahead, make a game plan, they leave it all to the last minute without a care for anyone else it may involve. They don’t have a list so they wander aimlessly, completely oblivious to anyone around them.  Then when they decide they know what they want to buy and subsequently find it is not in stock, they huff and puff and are rude to the staff in the stores.  They expect everyone to stop and serve them regardless of the inconvenience it causes others around them.

These are the shoppers that I have a real issue with.  The holidays are a busy time for EVERYONE.  Being rude and obnoxious because you left everything to the last minute just makes it bad for everyone.  Yes, not finding what you want can be frustrating.  I started looking for a few certain items in the beginning of November and found they were already out of stock then.  So leaving it until the week before and complaining to store staff because everything isn’t readily available is uncalled for.

And fighting with people in the parking lot over spots, come on people!  The holidays seem to bring out the worst in some people, when it should be bringing out the best.

I don’t work in retail and it is times like this that I am thankful for that.  I really have to give credit to those that do.  Having to put up with people that don’t care about anyone but themselves and don’t care if they are rude and upset others has to be stressful.  They work longer hours and have very little time off for the holidays so that people can get their shopping done, so give them a break and remember that a little kindness goes a long way.

So there is my rant for the holiday season.  I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and kindness and love reign over you.

Note:  This post was originally published in December 2016 but has been updated.

Parenting/Life

Surviving the holidays when sharing custody

holidays

Sharing custody of your child(ren) can always be stressful.  Add on the hussle and bussle of the holiday season and the stress levels can skyrocket.  This can be especially true if you and the other parent do not have a positive co-parenting relationship.  Even if there is a great relationship between the 2 parents, sharing custody will always mean that there are times that the child(ren) are not with you and this can make for upset, stress and confusion for the children as well.  Surviving this stress without excessive upset to anyone needs a lot of patience.

I definitely don’t claim to be anything close to an expert in this subject, but having been doing this for 9 years now, I feel I can share a few things that work for me and what doesn’t work for me.

Santa/Gifts

I think typically if you share custody, then you alternate years for who has Christmas eve/Christmas morning.   In my home, regardless of where my son wakes up on Christmas morning, Santa will always have visited our home.  On years that my son arrives to my home in the afternoon on Christmas day, his stocking and gifts from Santa are waiting there for him.  I explain to my son, that Santa knows that he celebrates Christmas in 2 homes so he drops gifts off at both homes.    In the years that I have my son on Christmas Eve/morning, we open our family presents on Christmas Eve day so that he can have time to enjoy playing with them and then Santa gifts on Christmas morning.

Events

Only having my son 1/2 the time, inevitably there are events that we will be invited to that fall on times he is with his father, that he won’t be able to attend.  We are used to this and although neither of us like it, we deal with it.  Of course, depending of the significance of the event, one can always try to negotiate with the other parent  to switch times/days.  Sometimes this can work out or ultimately cause further stress and upset.  Over the years, I have learned what battles to fight and which ones to let go.  I just hate my son missing out on things due to his parental situation.

Advent Calendar

We are not a religious family, but my son still likes to partake in the count down to Christmas with an Advent Calendar.  This one is kind of tough as he isn’t always able to open each window on the correct day.  Sometimes after being at his dad’s for a few days, he has a bunch of little windows to open and subsequently several little chocolates to eat.  It’s definitely not the best scenario and almost feels like it defeats the purpose when he isn’t able to open the windows on the correct days, but I am not going to take away a little tradition that a lot of his other friends partake in.  This year I actually created my own advent calendar and only made it for the actual days that my son is with me.

Traditions in general

This one is the one I have the hardest “surviving”. I would love to be able to have a Christmas Eve tradition and a Christmas morning tradition that we can do every year, but when he spends those days at his dad’s every other year, it’s a little bit difficult. Luckily, there are things like putting up the tree and seeing one of the local Santa parades, and pictures with Santa that we can work our schedule around and make traditions out of those.  We make the best of what we have and enjoy the season the best we can with the time we have.  It’s all about the quality of time we have together not the quantity.

Since we have a set schedule for the holidays, family always knows in advance when we can celebrate together and when we can’t.  It can sometimes make things tricky when we have to worry about the weather for travelling but we keep that in mind too and have contingency plans in place in case the weather decides not to cooperate.

This “sharing” the holidays is definitely not what I signed up for when I became a Mom, but I want my son to grow up enjoying all the love and excitement that the holiday season has to offer and  not having to do without.

Wishing you and yours the happiest and stress-free holiday season!

 

Parenting/Life

Creating Holiday Memories at Christmas

As we were putting up the Christmas tree this past weekend, I couldn’t help but sit and think about all the great memories of Christmas’ past when looking at all the homemade ornaments I have collected over the years that my son had made.  I love that every year something has come home from his school or daycare that he had made himself that we could put on the tree.

Anyone who knows me, knows that my Christmas tree is never one of those perfectly curated ones that adorn people’s Instagram profiles.  Mine is always a hodgepodge of memories collected year after year from my son.  And truth be told, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

memories on the tree

I am a total sucker when it comes to the daily Facebook memories.  I love looking back on things that had happened on that day remembering the good times (and sometime the bad) and sometimes seeing things that I had totally forgotten about and glad to have had my memory jogged.

So each year, I like to do something new with my son to remember that year.  This year, we made a wooden Christmas tree to match one we had won at an event as his school the previous year.  I always make sure I put a year on it, if it doesn’t already have it, so I can look back and remember how old my son was when we did that.

Memories tree

This year my son didn’t seem to want to put some of his homemade decorations on the tree (especially ones from when he was really young).  I think he’s at that age where he wants to be “older” than he really is and baby things aren’t “cool” right now.  As hard as it is for me, I let him take charge of decorating the tree as he wished.  Again, making some memories.  I just made sure the decorations were probably and safely packed away to be taken out and hopefully used next year.  At least I will have them for future use.

One of the things I wish I had done was make imprint ornaments of my son’s hands and/or feet each year to see how much he’d grown.  I know I would get to a point that he would be too big (like now) but it’s something I wish I had done.  I saw the imprint packages by Pearhead at BuyBuy Baby the other day and it kind of made me kick myself for not having these for my son.  These particular ones are no mixing or baking and simple to use.  There is no reason not to have them for your little ones. These make the cutest ornaments and the perfect memories year after year.

sparkle memories

babyprint memories

Do you have things that you do year after year to make special holiday memories?  Are their things that you wish you had started earlier or done at all with your children that you haven’t?

Here is your chance to make more holiday memories.  Head over to the A Boy and His Mom Facebook page and you can enter to win a $100 gift card to BuyBuy Baby, thanks to BuyBuy Baby Whitby location.  All you need to do  is upload a photo of your Pearhead baby ornament (available at BuyBuy Baby) that you have made for your child and like the post and you are entered.  Contest open to residents of Canada only and ends on Sunday, December 17, 2017 at  11:59 PM EST.  Winner will be chosen by random draw.  This draw is not affiliated with Facebook or Instagram.

 

DIY

Creating and Gifting with Black & Decker

Disclosure:  Although items in this post were provided to me, all comments, opinions and photos are strictly mine.

With the holidays upon us, not only is time to think about gifts for loved ones, it’s also a great time to get some holiday crafting done.  For me, Black & Decker is helping me out with both of these.

Truth be told, in the past when it came to anything needing to be cut or drilled or anything that involved power tools, I relied on my Dad to come to the rescue.  My Dad is always willing to help me out but now that I am in to my 40’s, a Mom and live 2 hours away from my Dad, I need to be a little more self sufficient to do things like this for myself and take my crafting and home decor to a new level.

Last Christmas, I won a little wooden tree that my son’s class had decorated in a raffle at his school.  Having a need to have things symmetrical around my mantle, I decided I wanted to make another one so I could have one on each side.

Black & Decker before
Before – and our inspiration.

It is a pretty simple design and knew I could probably copy it without a lot of difficulty.  I took the measurements of the wood and headed off to get the appropriate lumber and screws.

The tools I would require would be a drill, circular saw and a sander.  So I got out my Black & Decker tools and got started. What I like about these tools as they are an amazing quality and not too heavy for me to use.  I have tried other drills/etc in the past that were really heavy and it kind of deterred me from using them.

I came home and measured the wood for the appropriate length for each piece and was ready to cut.  Remember the age old rule – measure twice, cut once.

I am not going to lie, using a saw of any sort can be a bit intimidating at first, but as long as you follow the instructions completely and ensure you understand all the safety rules, it can really open up a whole new world and level to your home crafting projects.

After cutting the wood, I used my sander to take all the rough spots off and prevent any snagging on fabrics or slivers when being used.

Once all the pieces were ready to use, I lined them up and was ready to assemble the product.

Once the wood pieces were all screwed together, I passed the project along to my son add his artistic flare to it.  As the original was done by him and his classmates, I wanted to have this one to have his personal tough as well.  We really enjoy doing projects like this together.  Although the end product may not look like it came out of a store, it is something that we can look back and remember doing it together.

Now we have a set of 2 trees decorating our mantle with our own personal touches and will be a part of our holiday decor for years to come.

Completed – it may not be perfect, but it is ours!

Having the right tools though, makes a huge difference and can definitely boost your confidence to conquer more projects and makes a great gift for those wannabe crafters, young adults just starting out on their own or really, pretty much anyone. Having even the basics to do simple repairs around the house can make things so much easier and make home renovations a breeze.  The Blacker& Decker Project Kit with Drill/Driver is the perfect starter kit as it has all the basics you can need and even comes with a carrying case so that you have everything in one place.  I know a few people on my list that would love this and the other tools that used for this project to be under their tree this Christmas this year.

Now that my son is getting a bit older, he is quite intrigued in using the tools himself to make his own little projects.  I am hoping to find more of these types of projects that we can do together throughout the year.  Not sure what we will do next but I am sure we will have fun doing it and thanks to Black & Decker the sky is the limit as we have the proper tools to do it.

Parenting/Life

Fall to Sleep with a MediFlow Waterbase Pillow

Disclosure:  Although items in the post were provided to me, all comments, opinions and photos are strictly mine.

I am the worst sleeper ever.  It takes me forever to fall asleep, I toss and turn constantly, I am always having to adjust my pillow and am either too hot or too cold.  And if there is a bit of noise, I am instantly awake.

Over the years, I have tried everything to help me sleep better, even medications.  Sadly, I find that most of those make me more wired than anything else.  So when I was asked to try the MediFlow Floating Comfort Waterbase Pillow, I have to say I was pretty skeptical but was definitely curious about the concept of having a water based pillow.

Pillow in Package

Now this is going to age me, but I remember as a kid, sleeping over a friends in their waterbed (yup, remember those?) and finding those some of the best sleeps I would have.  So knowing this, I was anxious to see how the pillow worked for me.

The pillow has 3 layers to it, on top, there is a layer of soft CombedLoft™ Fiber, than a thermal insulator that surrounds the water layer and then of course, the water layer.  The pillow arrives with the water layer empty and you fill it up to your desired firmness.   I like a fairly firm pillow so I had to try it out each night and added water accordingly.

Pillow water valve

I normally use 2 pillows (and even 3 if I have a cold and my sinuses are blocked up) but I decided to try the pillow on it’s own.  Having the support of the water layer for my neck, I didn’t feel like I need an extra pillow at all.  I can say that I have seen an improvement in my sleep with this pillow and more than anything else, I have found that my neck isn’t as still in the morning as it has been in the past.  Also, I find it keep my head at a comfortable temperature.  I often will flip my pillows in the night because me head gets too hot.

Pillow Sleeping

If there is anything that I can say about this pillow that is a bit off, is that I haven’t mastered getting the air out of the water pocket as it is described in the instructions and the water does slosh around a bit when I move it.  It’s nothing that is very disruptive, just something that I notice and definitely doesn’t prevent me from using the pillow.

And of course, my son had to give it a try as well.  He tends to be a bit of a snorer when he has a stuffy nose and I found when he tried it (and just so happened to have a cold), he didn’t make that nasally snoring noise when he slept.  Something tells me, I am going to need to get another one of these pillows as someone is trying to take claim over it.