Friday 13th – my original birthday and my birthday today.

Says it all you might think.

Original birthday – an unwanted baby already destined for children’s homes and “farming out” as a school peer once described my adoption.

Then lots of lovely birthdays with my adoptive Mum and Dad.  I was with them just in time for my 1st birthday and I imagine they went totally over the top because they saw me as very special.

An amazing 18th – a tape mixed by the DJ brother of a good friend.  Wish I could find her on social networks.  I would like to know that life treated her well.  A big pink teddy bear, a pub crawl and an Ode to Kate written by another friend’s sister.  Happy times.

A brilliant 21st in that wonderful place that is Trinity Hall, Cambridge University.  A place that wanted me and accepted me in all senses of the word.  Posh drinks party followed by a sweaty bop.  A sign on my door saying “Cambridge students head to the best party ever” from my lovely friend Chris.  I miss him.  Back to my room in the early hours.  Waking up the next day to find my dress dropped on the floor where I must have crashed at some point.  Midnight blue and encrusted with jewels and a bustle on the back.  Those were the days. My school friend H came along for it.  We don’t see each other any more.   A wok from the boy I adored which I kept for years and years.  Gold and silver balloons put up by my friend.  Pink champagne crate delivered to college from my brother.

The real 21st back home with my friend Rachel going round charity jobs and giggling in that way that you do when you are young and daft and life seems full of hope.

A joint birthday with my landlord in my early twenties drinking Castlemaine 4x and listening to Queen into the early hours of the morning.  Happy Birthday Ian wherever you are.

Waking up in my mid-twenties with my then boyfriend and him delivering one present after another from the drawer under the bed.  Seeing me as a woman – jewels and the like.  It turned out he was a cheat but he did romance well.

Birthdays in recent years with my Dad coming in and singing.  A present that would be just right because he would have actively found out what I would like best of all.  Miss you Dad – you knew how to love.

Today –  a wife and mother.  No cards or presents from my husband or children.  No singing, no cake, no nothing.  A tearful birthday.

I hope you can see from some of the former birthdays that I once did matter.

I wish I still did.

And yes, I know I should be a big brave girl and accept things more but right now I feel undervalued and mildly miffed (understatement)

Happy Birthday to Me!  It’s a dirty job but someone has to give me a nice day and it looks like that is down to me.

 

 

As a mum to a 9 year old daughter, I am so pleased she in hanging on to childhood and not wanting to grow up too quickly.  I like to think this means that we have got the balance right between encouraging her to be more independent but also to enjoy the magic of childhood.

It is a funny age to buy for at Christmas.  She is more choosy about what toys she would like to have.  She is more interested in her appearance and her want her to enjoy that whilst not becoming stressed or obsessive about it.

I was delighted to be sent some Minnie Mouse Must Haves to inform this post.

I really like the Minnie Mouse Must Haves Collection.  It is stocked exclusively in Boots so easy enough to obtain for most of us.  I love the products and the styling in particular with that vintage feel and the iconic Minnie Mouse ears.

Minnie’s Must Haves Polka Dot Pamper Bag

Available at Boots, RRP £14.00 (suitable for 10-12 years)
Time to get perfectly pampered with these polka dot print pressie ideas. This stylish, on trend toiletry bag, complete with a trio of shower gel, shower crème and body butter, will add a little fun into any tween’s pamper routine!

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Minnie’s Must Haves Minnie’s Minis

Available at Boots, RRP £10.00 (suitable for 10-12 years)

It’s Minnie Minis! A selection of must have mini bath and body treats, with a cute Minnie Mouse twist. The set includes bubble bath, shower gel, body butter, body polisher, and body spritz, all in a keepsake box complete with Minnie ears. It’s ideal for storing everything that a young girl needs, long after the toiletries have disappeared.

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Minnie’s Must Haves Fashion Nail Art
Available at Boots, RRP £10.00 (suitable for 10-12 years)

 This gorgeous selection of on-trend nail treats will leave nails looking colourful and perfectly polished. The set includes three nail polishes, a nail art pen, nail sticker sheet, emery board and toe separators, perfect for bedroom pampering.

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Minnie’s Must Haves Lip Balm Trio
Available at Boots, RRP £6.00
(suitable for 10-12 years)

This set of three chic lip balms in iconic Minnie Mouse designs are the perfect stocking filler for young fashionistas. Keep your lips super soft wherever you go with strawberry, cherry and vanilla fragrances, packaged in this cute gift pack.

minnie4

The Don’t Quit poem has a powerful message for anyone who is struggling a bit.

Don't Quit Poem

 

Dont-Quit-Poem

 

 

I first came across the “Don’t Quit” poem when I was at college.  I put a poster of it over my fireplace in my room.

What traumas I was facing at the time I do not recall.  Probably something as minor as fancying someone who did not fancy me.  I am an expert in shallow sometimes.

The poem came back to my mind this week.   Since my husband was made redundant, I have worked on blind faith.  As that has not worked so far, I think we probably need a new strategy.  I am not sure what that plan will be and hope Christmas will give us time to work it out.

Funds are certainly low and debts are just starting to show up.  Perhaps applying hundreds and hundreds of pounds to attending interviews was the wrong way to go but it seemed sensible at the time.  It is interesting to note how the don’t quit poem acknowledges rest as something that may well be worth doing.  Like a jigsaw puzzle where you struggle to fit the right piece and then return with fresh eyes and place it immediately, after Christmas we might return to this battle refreshed.

The pace to success seems incredibly slow.  It is disheartening and yet one letter or phone call could change all that.  I recognise the faint and faltering man as my husband gets more down-hearted and tired.  We have to stick it out.  We have children – they need to be looked after.  So we carry on.

I think of how lonely I was and how I felt so useless not that many years ago.  Along came blogging and magical experiences.  I now have imaginary friends who actually exist.  I did not see what a lovely journey this would be – lovely competition wins, exciting things to review, trips at home and overseas and a sense of belonging and acceptance.

2014 may mean I have to take on new challenges and make more use of the skills I have but with the help of the don’t quit poem, I will keep on keeping on.

We may both be nearer than we think to being OK.

One thing is for sure with your amazing support I will not quit!

 



Festive Spiced Cranberry Muffins

 

These lovely light muffins have a deliciously festive flavour. They even smell of Christmas as you take them from the oven!

 

cranberrymuffins

 Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking: 25 minutes

Makes: 8

Suitable for freezing

Suitable for vegetarians

 

Ingredients

 

100g (4oz) Jordans Super 3 Seeds Granola

125g (5oz) butter, melted and cooled slightly

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs, beaten

100g (4oz) self-raising flour

1 teaspoon ground mixed spice

75g (3oz) light muscovado sugar

75g (3oz) dried cranberries

1 banana, mashed

Topping:

75g (3oz) dried cranberries

Finely grated juice and rind of 1 small orange

200g (7oz) medium-fat soft cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C, fan oven 160°C, Gas Mark 4. Line 8 holes of a muffin tin with squares of baking paper or paper muffin cases

2 Mix together the cooled melted butter, milk, vanilla extract and eggs

3 In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, mixed spice, sugar, cranberries and Jordans Super 3 Seeds Granola, breaking up any large clusters

4 Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with the mashed banana, taking care that you don’t over-mix. Don’t beat the mixture! Spoon into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 25-30 minutes, until firm and golden brown. Cool on a wire rack

5 Meanwhile, make the topping. Put the cranberries into a saucepan with the orange juice and simmer gently until the liquid has evaporated. Cool completely, then stir them into the soft cheese with the vanilla extract. Use to top the cranberry Christmas muffins, then decorate with the orange zest

 

Cook’s tips:

·      The secret of successful Christmas muffins is to make sure that you don’t over-mix the wet and dry ingredients

·      You could serve the Christmas muffins without the topping, if you prefer

·      Another time, use dried cherries instead of cranberries, though you’ll need to chop them in half

 

3 Little Buttons

Roast turkey is delicious and the addition of shallot stuffing with fresh sage makes it sensational especially at Christmas.

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You’ll need:

5kg free-range Totally Traditional Turkey

4 tbsp rapeseed oil

Sea salt and black pepper

 

For the stuffing:

75g butter

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

8 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

250g dried figs, chopped into small cubes

2 small eating apples

250g fresh breadcrumbs

3 tbsp fresh sage leaves, chopped

750g sausage meat

3tbsp of parsley, chopped

1 large egg beaten

Sea salt and black pepper

 

What to do:

 

Preheat oven to 230°C/Gas Mark 8

 

Remove turkey giblets and reserve. Rinse the turkey inside and out and dry well.

Place the turkey in a large roasting pan, brush the turkey generously with rapeseed oil and season with sea salt and black pepper and cover with foil.

 

Place the prepared turkey in the pre-heated oven and cook at this temperature for the first 30 minutes. Then, lower the oven temperature to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and cook for approximately 30 minutes per kilo, basting every hour.

 

To prepare the stuffing, heat the butter and rapeseed oil until the butter has melted. Add the shallot and fry gently until well softened but not browned. Stir in the garlic and season well with sea salt and black pepper. Remove from the heat and place in a bowl, leave to cool.

 

Peel the apples, cut into quarters, remove the core and cut into small cubes. Mix the figs, apples, breadcrumbs, sage, sausage meat and parsley with the shallots, season well with sea salt and black pepper using clean hands and then mix in the beaten egg. The mixture should be quite firm, with wet hands, mould the stuffing into balls the size of a golf ball.

 

Place on a greased baking sheet and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Alternatively you can use the mixture to stuff an onion, per person, and place the rest of the mixture into an ovenproof dish to cook.

 

Take one small onion per person and peel, leaving the top of the onion intact and the base root in place. Peel and boil, whole, in salted boiling water for 8-10 minutes, until just soft, drain and cool in cold water. Drain and cut the top off the onion, about three quarters of the way up, so as to make a lid. Using a sharp knife, hollow out the onion and stuff with the stuffing mixture, replace the lid and brush all over with rape seed oil. Bake for 30-35 minutes in the oven alongside the turkey until cooked through and slightly caramelised.

 

When the turkey is approximately 35 minutes before the end of cooking, remove the foil, drain off any of the excess fat and cook for a further 35 minutes or until golden brown.

 

Transfer the turkey to a platter and cover loosely with foil and leave to rest for 20-30 minutes.

 

 

Serve the turkey carved with stuffing balls or stuffed onions and gravy.

 

Recipe supplied by www.totallytraditionalturkeys.com

How do you prepare your roast turkey? What are your favourite treats for the Christmas period?

Mummascribbles
Winnettes