2012 | Mum In The Madhouse


What does christmas mean to me?

Christmas, it is a bit of a bittersweet time for me. It is filled with the joy and excitement of two innocent boys, but also the memory of my mum’s unexpected and sudden death two years ago. Christmas Day will forever be associated with seeing my Mum dead in her kitchen on Christmas morning, but I can not let the past shape the future.

So my Memories are split in two. There is the memory of Christmas past, of tissue thin sheets of wrapping paper, eye shut tight of christmas eve listening for the sleigh bells, pillowcases instead of stockings, coming down on Christmas Eve to find my Dad standing at the door with a longed for Petite Typewriter. It is Christmas days long ago of a Sindy House rapped in a candy coloured stripped sheet. It is delicious family filled Christmas dinners after Dad and Granddad returned from a swift one at the Pub. Boxing days spent with cousins, parkin and corned beef pie. Board games and cocktails. Sisters living and loving each other.

Of carefree and joyfilled Christmas spent with family. Once the boys graced us with our presence we experienced the excitement though their eyes and Christmas became about crafting, cooking, making and creating memories. We made advent a time of activities. We cemented memories with our traditions. We went to my Mum’s to help wrap her presents. She helped me to cook Christmas dinner.

And then she was no more………………

So now I try to make Christmas a time of making, creating, cooking and crafting. I think of my Mum and the time we spend doing the same as I was growing up and in my actions I honor her memory. I allow the pain and grief to be there, but do not make it mark my days and nights. More than ever Christmas is about making memories, so that when my children grow they look back at this time with both wonder and joy and they come to realise that Christmas is all about family.

What does christmas mean to me? Read More »

Christmas Eve Traditions

Christmas is not about how much money you spend, but how much time you spend with the people you love. I love Christmas and I love spending time with my family. I like Christmas Eve to be a day of joy. Since the boys were small we introduced Christmas Eve Elves. Basically they delivered each year a bag for each of the boys with things to keep them busy and entertained on this exciting day.

This year the bags include:

New Pyjamas (so they look their best on Christmas Morning in pictures)
A How to draw book each
New Gel Pens
A new family Movie – Brave
A family Game for the XBox
Reindeer food
Snowman Soup
A new book for bedtime
On Christmas Eve I will visit Mum’s grave and take a basket of flowers. We then spend the rest of the day at home. MadDad prepared all the veg etc for the next day, then we settle down to family time. We make cranberry and popcorn chains for our tree outside for the birds whilst we watch a movie. We make our snowman soup, play board games and generally have quality family time together. We try to keep the day as relaxed as possible.

As the daylight fades we wrap up warm and go for a walk round the neigbourhood to take a peek at everyone’s christmas decorations and lights and to try and tire the boys out so they sleep.

We end the evening with a bath to carols, then we sprinkle our reindeer food and leave a special key outside so Father Christmas can open our door. The last thing the boys do before bed is to leave Father Christmas a mince pie and a drink on the plate that I made them

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With this chocolate (and wine) you are really spoiling me!

Matched with Martini Asti NV from the Piedmont region of Italy.I had never had Raffaello before, but they are now my favorite Ferraro chocolate. They are like little christmas snow morsels wrapped in a coconut waver and are very moreish. In fact me and Cass struggled to put these away and loved this combination. Martini Asti is my MIL’s favorite tipple and is perfectly matched to these delicate and delicious chocolates.

Ferrero Rond Noir
Matched with Dows Finest Reserve Port. I really wanted to love this combination, but couldn’t. Normally I am a dark chocolate person, but for some reason I wasn’t as keen. Now this may have been due to the fact that I really loved the Raffaello and nothing would match that perfect combination. However, MadDad loved the richness of both the chocolate and port and said if was the perfect indulgence for an evening in front of the fire (If we had a fire)!
Classic Gold Ferrero Rocher
Matched with Croix Milhas Rivesaltes Ambre‘ (Languedoc-Roussillon, France). Christmas isn’t Christmas without these delicious balls of heavenly crisp and soft chocolates. No one in my tasting team liked the wine on it’s own, but when paired with the chocolates it made a real difference. They really brought out the best in each other. This combination really testing me and I found that once I had a couple it really was appealing. MadDad did not like the wine at all.

I was firstly amazed at just how big the Ferrero range was and secondly just how delicious chocolate can be when paired with the right wine. It takes the whole chocolate experience up a notch and also makes it a really enjoyable experience.

With this chocolate (and wine) you are really spoiling me! Read More »

A Frugal Christmas and a Debt Free New Year

Are you cutting back this Christmas? Research by the Co-Operative Bank shows that a third of us are spending less this year than last year and nearly two thirds of us keeping our budget the same.

I am a great believer that in order to have a good christmas, you need to take a step back and realise that it isn’t about what you get it is about spending time with the ones you love and really enjoying spending time together. We have had a fantastic advent, making, baking and just generally having fun together and I am so looking forward to spending some time with all my family over the next couple of weeks.

Looking at the infographic below as was shocked to find that I live in the region spending the most and just how much less we have spent. This just goes to reinforce with me that you do not have to spend to find happiness.

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Some last minute christmas Gift ideas

If you are still wondering about what gifts to give people, then why not take a look at my last minute gift guide.

ATK All Terrain Kart – £175

Now I do not have a review for you on this as the weather has not been kind to us and we haven’t had time to really put it though it’s paces, so will be coming back to you in Spring with a full review What I will say is it is a great size for older children when they outgrow their other ride ons. It is aimed at 7 to 12 year olds and it is a perfect pitch. My boys are beside themselves to go on it for more than 5 minutes!

Sound Asleep Pillow – From £12

My boys love listening to music in bed and often go to sleep with either music on or listening to a story and with these fab pillows they can listen to MP3 players without having to use speakers or headphones. Mini’s has come in very handy to play his Relax Kids MP3’s which I swear by. You can see Miss Frugal using hers. The boys are younger, so I make sure that I put the music on for them.

LEGO Creationary – £20

We love LEGO. In a BIG way. We bought he boys this for last christmas and it has been one of our most played family games. We ALL love to play this together, even I can win at this. You choose a card and have to build what is on it and your team member has to guess what it is. The wonder of LEGO games is that you can change the rules to suit you, so we have timed races, who can built the best, build offs and lots of other games all from the one box. It is brill and I do not say that lightly.

Brabantia Tea41
I am a tea monster and I love this set from Brabantia as it is perfect for me during the day when I want a cup of tea, but do not want to make a pot as I am a tea leave user. It is also perfect for herbal teas and infusions such as mint tea. It contains everything you need to enjoy the perfect cup of tea. The tea buddy is so handy it attaches to the side of the cup and can be used to carry your biscuit, cake, chocolate or even put your used tea bag in (Yes I know not everyone uses leaves).

Some last minute christmas Gift ideas Read More »

Join me on Wednesday for a #StorkBaking chat!

Are you like me and get in to a baking frenzy at this time of year. I have already made mince pies and peppermint bark and a gingerbread house along with spiced cookies instead of cards for the boys to take to school Or are you lacking in inspiration?

Whichever is you, please come and join me over on twitter at 1pm tomorrow (Wednesday 19th Dec) as I will be co-hosting a twitter chat with @amylane in conjunction with along with Tots100 and Stork.

We are really looking forward to hearing all your favorite baking recipes, handy hints and top tips for baking with children. I am excited to be chatting alongside the team from Stork, who have more than 90 years of baking expertise and fill me with lots of memories of Christmas pasts.

And as if sharing your knowledge and learning new recipes wasn’t enough to tempt you to join in, there’s even going to be prizes You could win vouchers for Lakeland!

All you need to do is pop over to twitter Wednesday 19 December from 1pm to 2pm and use the hashtag #StorkBaking to join in. Make sure you are also following me @mum_themadhouse @Tots100, @bakewithstork and @amylane.

You can find out more details on the Tots100.

Join me on Wednesday for a #StorkBaking chat! Read More »

Three Layer Peppermint Bark

Meanwhile, combine the dark chocolate, cream, and peppermint extract in a saucepan. Warm over -low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is just melted and smooth.
Cool to barely lukewarm, about 5 minutes and pour the dark chocolate mixture over the white chocolate rectangle.
Using a spatula chocolate in an even layer.
Chill until very cold , which is about 25 minutes.
Rewarm the remaining white chocolate over barely simmering water and then pour the white chocolate over the firm dark chocolate layer, using your spatula to spread it to cover.
Sprinkle with remaining crushed candy canes.

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