This week, I have decided to take a break from reflecting on memories of my late mum.

Dad was saying a few months ago about how life has changed through social networking. In the old days, you might hear of the passing of a former school peer years after the event. These days, you get to know quickly via Facebook.

This week saw the funeral of a girl from my year at primary and secondary school. I don’t remember much about her except what she looked like and a vague sense that she was kind to me once. I don’t even remember what happened or what she said but I remember kindness presumably around 35 years after the actual event. A tiny legacy but an important one as it shows how we can all impact on people for good or for ill.

Our year has lost so many people far too young. To my shame, the boys who have died I remember little about. The girls were diverse characters and I want to honour them quietly here.

There was the beautiful girl who committed suicide in her twenties or thirties. She was a wonderful girl, gentle and lovely. I remember her always seeing the best in people and trying to facilitate peace when there were girlish arguments. The last time I saw her was in a supermarket car park. I had returned from a nasty relationship breakdown doing the traditional scurrying home to my parents in a crisis. I was so raw emotionally and when she spoke to me in a friendly fashion, I remember being quite off-hand. I felt embarrassed that my dazzling life has collapsed so monumentally. The reality was she was just pleased to see me and not judgemental at all. I don’t know anything of her life once we left school and I wish I had stopped that day for a chat.

Then there was the red-haired beauty whose passing led to me finding a very old friend who I treasure. This girl and I were like chalk and cheese. I was the boring swotty one and she was the party animal or that is how I saw here. I never got to know her properly. Once, she came when I was babysitting for some boys and her brother got injured. We could have talked but we did not do so. At core, I don’t think we understood each other. Now, as a mother, I feel for her so much having heard how she chose her daughter’s prom dress knowing she would not see the actual prom. How poignant and how scary to any of us with young daughters.

There was the girl who you should all know the name of but won’t. She was a child actress who had already appeared in major tv roles and films by the time of her death and was going onto very great things I am sure. We did not get on well at all at school. I think both of us aspired to great things and we were not old or wise enough to allow each other glory without resenting it. Or perhaps it was just me with a big problem. Recently, a student has found out about this girl and set up a Facebook page and website about her. It has troubled many of my former school peers. It is a difficult one as none of us can get in the mind and heart of this person to work out their motives. How many of us have had posters of Marilyn Monroe or James Dean? Perhaps this is just a modern version of someone identifying with or moved by a talent who died too young. It is important to think of the feelings of bereaved though.

I was a university when I heard about this girl’s death. Dad walked in with a newspaper and her photograph was on the front of it. I did not investigate further as to what the story was about assuming that she must be in another tv role or that there was some acting-related story about her. I said something disparaging and within minutes had the biggest wake-up call when I realised that she had died in a car accident. I have never forgotten that moment and still regret my harsh words based on secondary school rubbish. I could run away from exposing this truth but if I do that, I am telling only half a story.

It is only this week that I worked soemthing out. I did French A-Level with this girl and due to shyness was absolutely rubbish at speaking French although I did well with written work. I turned up for the oral part of the A-Level and it was only down to the back-up and sense spoken by this girl and another that I went and did the exam. That actually means that without those girls one of whom is no longer with us, I would not have got into university. For me, that is quite a big legacy as my university experience has contributed so much to the woman I am today.

So here’s to some very special women who were lost way too soon. You all left your mark.

What can I learn from all this?

That life is fragile and to be cherished

That I have the capacity to be nasty

That it is important to stop and acknowledge people properly

That sometimes people change your lives radically and you don’t even realise till many years later

Yes, I was at college with Oscar-winning actress, Rachel Weisz. So what? I was at school with, well I won’t name her, but if you met her, you wouldn’t forget her. I hope she got that Oscar in Heaven.

Spider Cup Cakes Chocolate Cup Cakes decorate them with liquorice legs, great for Halloween!

Ingredients Makes 12 cakes C

100g plain chocolate
4tbsp golden syrup
150g unsalted butter, softened
80ml double cream
150g caster sugar
100g milk chocolate
20g cocoa, sifted
100g plain chocolate
3 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp Rachel’s Greek Style Natural Bio Live Yogurt
125g self raising flour
1 ½tsp baking powder

Decoration 2 tbsp Rachel’s Greek Style Natural Bio Live Yogurt Chocolate sugar strands Smarties or similar sweets (for the eyes) Liquorice laces or Catherine wheels

Method

1.Pre-heat the oven 180°C, gas mark 4 and line a muffin tray with paper cases.

2.Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and microwave on medium power for 1 minute until melted, alternatively place over a pan of simmering water.

3.In a mixing bowl beat the butter, caster sugar, cocoa powder and eggs, until soft and creamy. Add the flour and baking powder. Lastly add in the yogurt ensure the mixture is well combined.

4.Spoon the mixture into the cases and bake for 20 minutes until risen and firm to touch. Leave to cool.

5.Meanwhile in a small bowl gently heat the icing ingredients, except the yogurt either do this in a microwave, medium power or over a pan of simmering water until the chocolate has melted, leave to cool then add the yogurt. The frosting should be soft but not runny.

6.Spoon the frosting onto each cake and carefully spread with the back of a knife. Dip each cake into chocolate sugar strands then place the Smarties for eyes, cut the liquorice laces into 8 equal pieces and push into the icing – work quickly before the frosting sets. To make the eyes stand out and a mouth simply place some of the frosting in a piping bag with a small plain nozzle and pipe for the desired effect

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.

My Random Musings

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.