Fifty and Fabulous

The thoughts, loves, rants, interests & inspirations for Gen X

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Goodreads Reading Challenge

Hello my lovely followers,

If you’ve meandered around Tabytha’s Universe, you will know that I like to read; that’s what this post is all about – what I’ve read this year. 😉

As some of you may also already know, I’ve been busy working through a professional qualification this year (as I type this, I’ve got my fingers crossed hoping that I have passed my final assessment and thus am a qualified level 3 teaching assistant – I won’t find out until mid-January) so I’ve haven’t had my nose stuck in my Kindle as much as usual this year, although I have read many teaching related articles and books, however, my point is, I signed up to the 2016 Reading Challenge on Goodreads back at the beginning of the year and set my reading goal to a paltry one book a month. Easy, I thought, I can read 12 books with my eyes shut (I think there’s a joke in there about audio books) but as it turned out my research and assignments keep me busier that I had expected!

faery-red-lily-bye-for-now1111Having said that, I feel that Fate has been on my side! I have been very lucky as my friend, and amazing romance author, Mandy Baggot has released two books this year – thank you Mandy for helping with my reading goal. Lol!

So, finally with just a couple of weeks to spare, I managed to complete the Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge and have read 12 books this year. I thought you might like to see which ones they were…

A note on the Goodread’s Star Rating system:

1star = I did not like it

2star = It was OK

3star = I liked it

4star = I really liked it

5star = I loved it!

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The Twelve Days of Christmas at Mottisfont | Dear Mummy Blog

Hello lovely followers,

As you can see from the side, I follow quite a few blogs here on WordPress and I was delighted to see this post about Mottisfont appear in my inbox.

My best friend lives about a half an hour away from Romsey hearing towards Eastleigh and Mottisfont is only a 30 minute drive for us coming from Salisbury, so we use this magical National Trust property to meet up as often as we can during the school holidays.

There is always a trail for the children to follow through the grounds and the house quite often has wonderful exhibitions housed in some of it’s rooms.

faery-red-lily-bye-for-now1111For one reason or another, I have been taking my daughters to Mottisfont for years – we love it!

The 12 Days of Christmas event at Mottisfont is running until Tuesday 3rd January 2017.

Check their website for further details before travelling National Trust – Christmas at Mottisfont 2016



Dear Mummy, we’re big fans of the National Trust, having been annual members now for four years. Mottisfont, near Romsey in Hampshire, is one of our favourite places to visit in the UK and every year they host wonderful Christmas events. Mottisfont is an 18th-century home with a medieval priory owned by The National Trust and we’ve had many adventures here. Two years ago we saw their beautiful installation of The Nutcracker on their estate and we love visiting when the roses are at full bloom. We’ve visited in all seasons but nothing beats walking around Mottisfont on a crisp winter day.

This year the Twelve Days of Christmas came alive at Mottisfont. We discovered decorated rooms and gardens inspired by the classic song, from the glittery dresses of ‘nine ladies dancing’ to beautiful bird decorations. Creative volunteers have crafted hundreds of hand-made decorations for the Twelve Days of Christmas at Mottisfont and the displays are wonderful.

We followed a new activity trail which guided us through all the song’s famous verses and started by picking up our own ‘songbook’ at visitor reception to commence the trail. It’s packed with activities to do as we followed all the song’s verses. We ticked off the displays as we found them and it was great exercise walking around in the fresh December air.

We spotted lots of themed decorations around the grounds, including seven swans swimming in the stream and had fun making our own ‘Lords a-leaping’ craft paper puppets in the craft zone. It was a beautifully decorated room with lots of colouring sheets and crayons for little folk like me to use.

We were amazed by how much attention to detail was put into the displays by local artists and volunteers. The estate looked wonderful, even in the winter we enjoyed walking around in the winter garden and the walled garden.

We found four calling birds in the winding winter garden along with five gold rings. Three decorated hens were made by Mandy Flynn, the artist behind the much-loved wire horse in Mottisfont’s stable block and that display looked fabulous against the bright blue frosty sky and the house in the background.

We enjoyed warming up inside the house after following the trail outside and there was lots of festive sparkle inside, as Mottisfont was getting ready for a Twelve Days of Christmas party. Mottisfont’s last owner, Maud Russell, held many lively parties at Mottisfont so we peeked inside to see the house grandly decorated and transported back in time.

The dining room was laid out for a festive feast. We found an elaborate cake decorated with the Twelve Days of Christmas in an impressively ornate room, while the grand ballroom hosted a cocktail party with a magnificent traditional Christmas tree which was as tall as our house (well, nearly). It was such a festive atmosphere with lovely flower arrangements, twinkly lights and party placements laid out.

We used the picture frames and costumes to dress up in one of the rooms and had fun striking a photo pose in this grand house. We found a dressing room laid out for a Christmas party guest, and joined in the preparations by dressing up ourselves.

My mummy was really impressed with the attention to detail on the miniature sparkling dresses of nine ladies dancing created by Vin Turnham. The tiny dresses rotated on little plinths and I was mesmerised by them.

These nine ladies dancing took centre stage in the Whistler Room. These exquisite miniature ballet dresses twinkled in warm festive light. From the Sugar Plum Fairy to the Queen of the Night, each dress represented a dance costume in miniature, made in quarter-scale. Delicate crystals and sequins sparkle as they caught the light, above perfectly formed tulle tutus.

Mottisfont is the perfect place for a family visit all year round, with plenty of space to run, jump and play and The Twelve Days of Christmas runs until 3 January 2016. Suggested donation £1 per trail. We loved the beautiful creations in the grounds and it makes a great day out to burn off energy and those mince pies!

Love Bella x

Want to read more about Mottisfont, National Trust? Read our other Mottisfont posts here!

Source: The Twelve Days of Christmas at Mottisfont | Dear Mummy Blog

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Tis The Party Season – Cheers!

Hello Lovely Followers,

As we approach that time where my social diary begins to look a lot less bereft, I’m starting to worry that all my hard work will be for nothing. I’m still trying to weigh less and feel fitter but I do love a good party… or meal …. or evening at the pub!

faery-red-lily-bye-for-now1111I found this interesting article about booze on the My Fitness Pal blog, I might work my way through the 11 suggestions to find my favourite. 😉

I wonder what other gems I can find…


In one of the more unfair laws of the universe, alcohol isn’t exactly a health elixir. Liberator of deep, dark secrets, yes. “You have dance moves like Beyoncé and need to share them with the world” cheerleader, sure. But whether you’re trying to lose weight or generally live a healthy life, a frequent drinking habit doesn’t usually fit in the picture.

Luckily, that doesn’t mean you’ve got to give it up for good—indulging is a necessary part of maintaining a good outlook on food (and your sanity). Here, 11 registered dietitians, aka those healthy-living paragons who know how to eat well even when getting Chinese takeout and fast food, share the alcoholic drinks they choose when it’s time to unwind.

1. A vodka seltzer with lemon or lime
“There’s a common misconception that tonic water is the same as seltzer water, but it actually contains a lot of calories and sugar. I opt for seltzer, which is just water with bubbles, instead. A squeeze of either lemon or lime gives the drink a healthy (and sugar-free) boost of flavor!” —Rebecca Ditkoff, R.D., CUNY School of Public Health and member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

2. A bloody mary, extra spicy
“I especially love when they come with pickles, olives, or other fun garnishes. I prefer bloody marys to sweet drinks because the extra sugar in most cocktails gives me a terrible hangover. Also, when a drink is super spicy, it slows down my drinking and encourages me to have a sip of water between each sip of alcohol.” —Abbey Sharp, R.D., Abbey’s Kitchen

3. A glass of pinot noir or champagne
“I rarely pick a mixed drink as the added sugar and calories are just not worth it for me. I like a glass of red wine, preferably a pinot noir as it has a high concentration of antioxidants including polyphenols, flavonoids, and resveratrol. And of course, I appreciate the occasional glass of French champagne because life’s too short not to.” —Denise Julia Garbinski, M.B.A., R.D.N. of Botanical Nutrition Therapy

4. A Johnny Walker Black and Diet Coke
“I’ll get flack for this—many whiskey-lovers make fun of me for mixing the good stuff with Diet Coke, but that’s just my taste preference. I also ask the bartender to use a jigger so I know how much alcohol is mixed in.” —Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D., author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes For Every Meal Of The Day

5. A low-calorie version of a cosmopolitan
“It’s raspberry-infused vodka, club soda, and a splash of lime and cranberry juice. Even though fruit juices contain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, they also contain a high amount of natural sugar, which can add up in a drink. Just a splash of the cranberry juice adds enough flavor, but keeps the calories in check.” —Dawn Orsaeo, R.D., L.D.N.

6. A Moscow mule with a twist
“My absolutely favorite for the summer is a Moscow mule with ginger beer, vodka, lime juice, and lots of ice, skipping the simple syrup. It’s so refreshing, and when you don’t use simple syrup, it’s only around 80 calories.” —Molly Morgan, R.D., C.D.N., C.S.S.D., owner of Creative Nutrition Solutions

7. A scotch on the rocks
“My favorite is Macallan 12-year aged scotch. I like to avoid sugary mixers like juice, and since scotch is stronger, I sip it slower and one glass can last me the whole evening.” —Rebecca Lewis, in-house R.D. at HelloFresh

8. Silver tequila on the rocks or with soda plus lime juice or an orange slice
“Silver tequila usually has less sugar in it than brown tequila or other brown liquors. I skip the sugary mixers and drink it straight up or with no-calorie club soda and a little flavor from a splash of citrus.” —Sarah Rueven, R.D., owner of Sarah Rueven Nutrition

9. An ice cold beer
“A true Wisconsin native, I’m especially a fan of a nice hoppy craft brew. Not only do I enjoy the flavor complexities a craft beer has to offer, beer gives you the most volume for about the same total of calories and alcohol as wine and spirits, meaning it takes longer to drink and therefore helps moderate total alcohol consumption.” —Emily Brown, R.D.N., L.D., wellness dietitian at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program

10. A toned-down mojito
“I love the mint and lime in a mojito, but I find many places make them too sweet, so I get a sugarless mojito with extra lime. Most of the time, the mint and extra lime are enough flavor for me. If I’m feeling like it needs a little extra sweetness, I’ll add my own sugar or stevia. I end up with a perfect drink every time.” —Dina Garcia, R.D.N., mindful eating coach and founder of Vida Nutrition

11. A glass of sauvignon blanc or a simple marg
“I don’t worry about calories or sugar. I drink my favorite wine of choice—Sauvignon Blanc—or a margarita on the rocks with salt (no mix, just straight tequila, lime, and agave). I know I can drink two beverages, enjoy the taste, and still get up for yoga the next morning!” —Laura Cipullo, R.D., C.D.N., C.D.E., C.E.D.R.D., owner of Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition

Tags:  alcohol beer bloody mary drinks wine

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Source: 11 Low-Calorie Alcoholic Drinks Registered Dietitians Love – Hello HealthyHello Healthy