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!



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.


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.




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.


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

Don't 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!

Don't Quit Poem


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!



 Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking: 25 minutes

Makes: 8

Suitable for freezing

Suitable for vegetarians




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


75g (3oz) dried cranberries

Finely grated juice and rind of 1 small orange

200g (7oz) medium-fat soft cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla extract



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.



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

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


Fancy roast potatoes? I always do and these are very fancy roast potatoes!

Preparation Time; 10 minutes

Cooking Time; 1 ½ hours



You’ll need:

1.5kg Potatoes, medium sized, peeled

900g parsnips, medium sized, peeled

2 tbsp plain flour

1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped, plus a few sprigs

6-8 tbsp rapeseed oil

12 shallots, peeled

200g pancetta, roughly chopped

6 whole bay leaves

Sea salt and black pepper


What to do:


Preheat oven to 200°C/Gas 6


Cut any large potatoes in half and all of the parsnips in half lengthways, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 8 minutes or until par-boiled.  Meanwhile cook the parsnips in the same way in another pan for 4 minutes.  Drain the potatoes well then return to the pan and cover, shake the pan to roughen the edges of the potatoes.


Drain the parsnips and toss them in the flour, chopped thyme and seasoning.


Pour the rapeseed oil into a large roasting tin and heat in the oven; you need around 1cm of oil in the tin.  Add the potatoes and turn them over in the oil using a slotted spoon. Roast uncovered for 15-20 minutes, remove the tin from the oven and turn the potatoes, add the parsnips and shallots and turn them in the oil too. Roast for a further 35-40 minutes then turn all of the vegetables again, add the pancetta.


Increase the heat to 220°C/Gas 7 for a further 15-20 minutes, adding the thyme sprigs and bay leaves for the final 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with a little sea salt and black pepper and serve immediately.



Recipe supplied by