Halloween Carrot Muffins

Preparation: 20mins Cooking: 25mins Makes 12

200g/7oz soft light brown sugar

200ml/7floz sunflower oil

2 medium eggs

200g/7oz plain flour

2.5ml/1/2 tsp baking powder

2.5ml/1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

5ml/1 tsp ground cinnamon

200g/7oz carrots, peeled and grated

50g/2oz walnut pieces, chopped

5ml/1 tsp vanilla essence

For the icing:

225g/ icing sugar, sifted

25g/1oz unsalted butter

75g/3oz chilled full fat cream cheese

food colouring and writing icing

1. Preheat the oven to 170C/Fan 150C/325F/Gas Mark 3. Line a deep 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

2. Place the sugar, oil and eggs in a large bowl, then beat together with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth and thickened. Sift over the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon then fold in until well mixed. Fold in the carrots, walnuts and vanilla essence.

3. Divide the mixture between the paper cake cases. Bake in the middle of the oven for 25mins or until golden, risen and the middle bounces back when lightly pressed. Leave to cool in the tin for 5mins before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

4. For the icing: Use an electric whisk to beat the icing sugar and butter together in a large bowl until fluffy. Add the cream cheese and briefly beat together again until just combined. Don’t overbeat or it will become runny. Spread the icing over the muffins, then let the kids go mad icing the cakes with spooky characters.

Freezing instructions:

Un-iced these muffins freeze well. Once cold pack them into a freezer proof container or bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for about 1 hour, then ice as instructed.

For those who do not yet know, the Getting Your Groove Back Blog Hop is for mums who want to rediscover the woman they used to be or to reinvent themselves altogether. The aim of the blog hop is to share stories and to celebrate changes in our lives however small.

Last week, we had 14 contributions and that was so heartening to see. I also loved reading all the diverse posts from very different women with very varied methods for getting their groove back. I hope you did too. We had nudity and burlesque along with healthy eating and exercise plans, people looking into courses, people admitting they are struggling a bit and more.

I was really touched to see women also sharing their music stories and their treats for their bodies. Annie Lennox came out as number one but it was great to discover other musical choices too.

Now two things need to be said loud and clear.

1. No mum should feel excluded from this blog hop. It is for you to decide whether you want to join in and how you will do that. What is getting your groove back for one woman will be very different for another and that is absolutely fine.

2. Some women are making huge moves to change and some are making smaller ones. They are all of value and every journey begins with just one tiny step. The important thing is to keep moving forward. This blog hop is here to support you (and me!) with that. Some of you have or have had post-natal depression and some of you have physical issues so please do be gentle with yourselves.

So just write a post about how you are changing or trying to get your groove back however you define that. It might be healthy eating, doing a course, volunteering, writing a CV, applying for a job, taking exercise, saying yes, saying no or a whole host of other things.

As my questions or tasks seemed to go down well last week, you might also want to try these ideas but there is no obligation to do so. Do what works best for you.

1. Breakfast Time – Do you rush breakfast? Do you eat things because the family do even though you might prefer something else? Do you skip breakfast altogether? This week, I want you to do something different for one breakfast this week. Add some fruit to your cereal, have a croissant, indulge in smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, have some warming porridge, whatever does it for you. What is your all-time favourite breakfast? Tell us about it this week and then make sure you have it during the next 7 days.

2. Spin Doctor – Women are great at putting themselves down. This week, I want you to pretend you are your own spin doctor or public relations expert. Include in your blog post a word, a sentence, a paragraph or a whole post about what is just fabulous about you.

As for myself, I am continuing to get my groove back although have had setbacks this week too but I guess that is all part of life.

1. I have lost some more weight, not much but heading in the right direction. I say more about my healthy eating regime here http://kateonthinice.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/losing-weight-mumentum/

2. I have missed the start of the yearly course for Home-start. At first they said I could join in late bu then changed their minds. I have argued my case quoting 20 years working with vulnerable people and personal experience of being a mum to 3 very young children whilst batting post-natal depression. They will not change their minds so I will reapply next year.

3. I visited the charity shop and was told I could volunteer on Friday mornings so I hope to start there next week.

4. I am going to join the school fundraising group at their next meeting.

5. I went out every day but one last week and it felt energising to be out and about.

Things to Remember:

1. You can post anytime between now and next Monday and do remember to link up.

2. Please visit other entries and leave a supportive comment for these women who are sharing their stories. You might pick up some new ideas too.

3. Please share the stories by pressing share buttons to Twitter, Facebook and other social networks as this will encourage new readers and also offer support to others.

4. Please remember I am on this journey too and welcome comments on my journey.

5. You are very welcome to join us. Yes YOU! Your post can be as short or as long as you see fit. It can be in words or pictures, entirely up to you.

I look forward to seeing what you are all up to and let’s get the message out loud and clear about #groovingmums on social networks.

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Thought I would have a go at Listography organised by the Kate Takes 5 blog this week looking at bad jobs. Here is my list.

1. Placement in a Company Law Department of a Solicitors’ Firm.

I wanted to be a lawyer ever since watching Crown Court on the telly. I wanted to be a barrister with the fancy costume and mouth off a lot as a child. As I got older, I saw myself as a campaigning solicitor fighting to redress miscarriages of justice. Im my late teens, I did Summer work experience placements at a solicitors’ firm. I used to go in the Personal Injury Department. I loved reading all the gory details of people’s injuries and helping to come up with an amount to compensate them. One year, the partner decided I should try another department and company law bored me stupid. In fact, on reflection, I think this is when I started to get turned off the whole idea of being a lawyer. Seriously, if it was about making rich people richer and wearing tights that never laddered, somehow I thought I would probably never fit in.

2. Advice Agency With Troublesome Boss

I had a job in an advice agency once. I loved the work and was good at it. It is such a good feeling to see someone coming in despairing and then to enable them to turn the situation around. Showing them their rights and their responsibilities. Giving them a voice and kicking ass when necessary with various authorities including creditors, landlords, employers and the Government itself. Great to be able to campaign for policy changes too. In this particular agency, I had one of those bosses who was just against me from the start. Despite the fact that I was saving people’s houses and sorting their problems out, she focussed on whether my desk had too many papers on it or whether I had remembered to wash my coffee cup. I let her get to me and used to dread going in. One day, I decided I had enough and never went back.

3. Charity Project With Unrealistic Targets

In the not too distant past, I had a job which involved getting prisoners into volunteering placements. Now not to put too fine a point on it, it is up to the prisons whether they want to let people out or not. I did my utmost but they were cynical especially after incidents before my time where prisoners had dealt drugs from their volunteer placement or gone off and got a tattoo whilst out for the day on placement. This project was one of those charity projects where no proper research had gone on before funding was applied for. I was not confirmed in post after my first six months for not meeting targets which, to be fair, were unachieveable from the start.

4. Charity Project With Bullying Boss

There was another job that I really loved and did well at. I exceeeded all targets but it seems in the charity world that can be as annoying an issue to bosses as not meeting targets. My boss bullied me. He used to have meetings with the other staff and exclude me completely from them. He did not apply for funding to renew my post purely as a way to get rid of me. I made too much noise. I have a habit of doing that. Fortunately, in the blogging world, this is allowed so it suits me down to the ground.

5. Unpaid Housekeeper

This is a bugbear of mine. I really don’t understand why several people can live in a house and yet only the wife and mother is held responsible for the housework. People tell me I am blessed because I have a husband who does housework. I don’t agree with that. He lives here so he should pitch in when it comes to housework as should all members of the family. It is not that my family don’t help but they say things like “I have done the washing up for you” which just says that they think it is my purpose in life to just skivvy. If someone came to the house, they would judge me by the state of the house but not the male members of the household. How is that fair exactly? The thing with this last one is that I never remember applying for this job in the first place!

Wow, that was cathartic.

Yes, I have a huge problem with authority. It distinguishes me from being a mere doormat so get over it.

PUMPKIN SOUP WITH LOSELEY SUMMER MEADOW BUTTER

Pumpkin soup is ideal for warming cold hands for Halloween particularly when served in mugs.

INGREDIENTS

Loseley Summer Meadow Butter 25g (1oz)

Onion 1, peeled and chopped

Carrot 1, peeled and chopped

Peeled Pumpkin 350g (12oz), roughly chopped

Milk 750ml (1 ¼ pints)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Natural Yoghourt 150g (5oz)

Dried Pumpkin Seeds to garnish (optional)

METHOD

Melt the Loseley butter in a large, lidded saucepan and add the onion and carrot. Cook gently to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft but not brown.
Add the pumpkin, milk and seasoning and bring gently to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft.
Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth, in batches if necessary. Return to the saucepan, reheat gently and serve swirled with yoghourt and garnished with pumpkin seeds. Accompany with hunks of warmed bread.

10 minutes preparation time

40 minutes cooking time

183 Kcal per portion

8.8g fat per portion of which

5.4g is saturated

4 servings

Suitable for freezing

Suitable for vegetarians

I have had a good week on the healthy eating front.

The things I have found helpful are as follows …

1. Peer support from blogger and twitter folks especially the #mumentum women

2. My love for smoked salmon as you can have lots for very few calories

3. Weightwatchers products including their bread which is about half the calories of normal bread and also the odd ready meal

4. 1 per cent fat milk acquired at the Co-operative supermarket

5. Low fat and very tasty soups again from the Co-operative supermarket. Both the carrot and coriander and the leek and potato come highly recommeded by myself.

6. Diet coke with a citrus twist which makes it feel more like having a alcoholic drink without the alcohol.

My only sin of the week was a chicken burger and chips when I dined out with my Dad on Friday. This is a tough one as he likes to go to a fish and chip restaurant every Friday and there are no low-calorie options on the menu. I think Dad would feel uncomfy if I just sat there drinking without eating so Friday is a bit troublesome on the healthy eating front.

Now due to my various experiments with weighing scales last week, I am not sure how much I have lost this week. There is a lesson in this. Weigh yourself on one pair of scales at the same time each week and stick to that.

So I think I have lost 0.7 pounds this week. A little disappointing after such a good week but perhaps this is an indication that I need to get more active. I keep saying I will go walking or do the Wii Fit and then not doing so. This is not good enough and I resolve to report back on doing some real exercise next week.

Still, a loss is a loss and I am heading in the right direction.

Current Weight = 223.7 pounds

I am writing it down here however embarrassing that figure is and then I can’t pretend it is not true.

Wishing all fellow #mumentum ladies a wonderful week and anyone else who is trying to shift the pounds.