Mama OWL Blog: December 2011

#R2BC - Reasons to be cheerful... 1, 2, 3

Friday, 30 December 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I know I did, it couldn't have been better!


It was wonderful! First thing in the morning on Christmas Eve after our pancakes & waffles breakfast we paid a visit to my husband's Grandmother with the children to give her her gifts, and then spent the afternoon decorating Gingerbread houses.
In the evening we had Fajitas for dinner, and then the kids had their baths and had a visit from the Elves who left them a Disney mug each (Tinkerbell for the girls, and Stitch, Jack Skellington and Lightning McQueen for the boys) to have their hot chocolate in, as well as a pair of new pyjamas and a DVD for us to watch together before bed, which was Mr Popper's Penguins.

The movie was fantastic, Jim Carrey was his usual brilliant self and the children were glued to the screen all the way through, screeching with laughter and enjoying every minute. A definite must-see, a charming family film to watch with your loved ones.

At bedtime we left out milk & a mince pie and some reindeer food, then read "The Night Before Christmas" and tucked them in for the night.

The next morning we woke up at a decent hour and the children raided their stockings with gusto and discovered all sorts of goodies that father Christmas had left for them (which also kept them busy for an extra half an hour...) including books, puzzles, notepads, DVDs, small toys, chocolate coins & wishes, a new toothbrush, bubble bath, underwear and the like. Then we headed downstairs and were thrilled to discover we had had a visit from Father Christmas  ;)

We all took it in turns to open our gifts, and then had breakfast together (croissants, pain au chocolat and crepes) and spent the entire day in our pyjamas playing & doing a whole lot of nothing in particular. It was fantastic! My husband cooked a delicious Christmas lunch for all of us, he really excelled himself this year. The one thing missing was my Grampy, but he wasn't far from my thoughts all day. I know he was with us in spirit. I can safely say that Christmas 2011 was a success.


We have just one day left of 2011. It has been a rollercoaster year, we have said goodbye to some special people who may be gone but will be not be forgotten, and we have also recently welcomed someone new in the form of my beautiful baby nephew Theo who arrived on December 12th. There have been plenty of ups and downs, good times and bad, triumphs and failures. This year I walked up a mountain to raise money and awareness for The National Autistic Society, and completed a seven mile midnight walk to raise money for Children's Hospice South-west. There is a lot to look back on and remember, but lots to look forward to and new challenges to undertake in 2012 and I am very much looking forward to what the new year will bring.



As the last R2BC this year, I feel I need to share how happy my family makes me, they are my true reasons to be cheerful. I have five beautiful, healthy, amazing children, a husband who dotes on us and works so hard to provide for us. I have six brothers and sisters who are happy and healthy plus a gaggle of nieces and nephews, and two fantastic parents that I love dearly and am so grateful to for raising me well and for being great role models.
I of course must also give a nod to the parents-in-law, and express how grateful I am to them for everything they have done for us and their Grandchildren in the last almost-decade that I have been married to their son (although I feel I should get a special mention myself for taking him off their hands haha) and how honoured I am to be a part of their family. And definitely not forgetting my joy at being asked to be the maid of honour for my soon-to-be sister-in-law in October, very exciting and I am thrilled to have been asked, and delighted to be able to accept.
There have been some very special friends this year too, and one in particular who I love the bones of and am so glad that she is in my life. You know who you are, chump.

"remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends."

Every day I count my blessings, and as we approach the last day of this year, I will count them all again and know what a very, very lucky woman I am.

Happy New Year everyone, 'see' you in 2012!

Meal Plan Thursday (again)

Thursday, 29 December 2011

I say Thursday as it is past midnight (just)... Well, the week following Christmas is always a bit of a free for all, living off of leftovers and not really planning for much besides using up what is cluttering up my fridge, freezers & cupboards, so there is no "plan" as such this week. We have just been opening the doors up and saying "Hmm..." before pulling a bunch of stuff out and throwing it together.

Yesterday we had a mini roast with some cold cuts of meat, today we had brinner with bubble & squeak using all the leftover mash & vegetables, tomorrow will probably be Lasagne, Friday... Fajitas? Most likely... Saturday is NYE and we are taking the children to see a pantomime in the afternoon so we will probably grab a deli pizza on our way home as the quickest & cheapest option for a night in. Sunday will be a Ploughmans, and Monday we have plans and will be out all day so who knows... We'll wing it. Tuesday it will be back to reality with the kids back at school, so my meal plan starts January 3rd 2012.

Tuesday 3rd January - Baked Cannelloni

Wednesday 4th January - Cottage Pie

Thursday 5th January - Rigatoni alla amatriciana

Friday 6th January - Chicken Fajitas with nachos & savoury rice

Saturday 7th January - Home-made chips and eggs with baked beans

Sunday 8th January - Roast Chicken, with mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, mixed vegetables, yorkshire puddings, stuffing and gravy

#R2BC - Reasons to be cheerful... 1, 2, 3

Friday, 23 December 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

I think my reasons to be cheerful this week will be obvious ones but here goes!

1. It's CHRISTMAS. I love Christmas, and not because of the presents or the food, not to overindulge or be wasteful or spend silly money on "things"... but because it means I get to spend an entire three days dedicated to being with my husband and children. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day mean I get to shut the door on the world and know that nobody will call, nobody will bother us, and we can spend it together just the seven of us. The children will open their gifts, we will eat together, we will play together, we will watch movies together. Just us, just our family. Me, my husband and our five beautiful children.

2. It's CHRISTMAS. Which means that I get to make memories with my kids that will last a lifetime. They will remember the things we did, the time we spent, the jokes we laughed at. They will enjoy their presents, they will be happy that they have new toys and things to play with, but in 10, 15, 20 years time, what they will remember is that we sat together and watched The Grinch three times in a row 'just because', and we decorated our gingerbread houses, and that they helped me bake cinnamon whirls and made peppermint creams and rocky road. They won't still have those toys when they are grown up, but they will  still have those memories and that is the best gift we could ever give them.

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?" ~ Theodor Suess Geisel

3. It's CHRISTMAS. It is a time to remember those who can't be here with us, and to be thankful for those who still can. This year we have said goodbye to people who we will hold dear in our hearts even though they can no longer be with us in body. We will light candles, we will release balloons, and we will think of, remember and love them.

In Loving Memory of Grampy Charlie, Connor, Avril and Vince.

Merry Christmas everyone xx

'Twas the week before Christmas... Meal Plan Monday

Monday, 19 December 2011

Monday 19th December - Brinner

Tuesday 20th December - Baked potatoes, baked beans with cheesy coleslaw & cottage cheese

Wednesday 21st December - Chicken New York, home-made chips & salad

Thursday 22nd December - Lasagne & garlic bread

Friday 23rd December - Cheese feast, Pepperoni & BBQ Chicken pizzas

Saturday 24th/Sunday 25th/Monday 26th December - See our Christmas Menu for our Festive meal plan

Thank you for the Gift of Teaching

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

I never ever know what to get for the children's schoolteachers at Christmastime, so this year I have opted to make them something instead. Also, because buying wine/chocolates for 6+ people is an expense I simply cannot afford this year.

I decided I would make them a 'hamper' of sorts, containing lots of yummy Christmas goodies for them to share in the staff room in this final week before the break. My husband suggested adding pots of hot chocolate, tea and coffee too. I thought it would be nice to have something that everyone can share, including all of the teaching assistants, cleaners and admin staff, and I am sure there is only so much wine a teacher can drink... (or maybe not, knowing kids... haha)

I have made Nigella's trusty Christmas Rocky Road recipe, swapping the amaretti biscuits for regular shortbread. I will also be making some Gingerbread men, and some Christmas spiced star biscuits but for now here is a picture of my creation plus the recipe. All hail Nigella! (I sneaked a little off-cut, it tastes fabulous)

This recipe appears in Nigella Lawson's book Feast, published by Chatto & Windus.


250g/9oz dark chocolate, chopped
150g/5oz milk chocolate, chopped
175g/6oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
4 tbsp golden syrup
200g/7oz amaretti biscuits
150g/5oz shelled Brazil nuts
150g/5oz red glacé cherries
125g/4oz mini marshmallows
1 tbsp icing sugar
edible glitter, to decorate (optional)

Preparation method

Place the dark and milk chocolate pieces into a heavy-based pan. Add the butter and golden syrup and cook over a low heat to melt and combine.
Place the amaretti biscuits into a freezer bag and bash with a rolling pin to make crumbs of various sizes.
Place the Brazil nuts into another freezer bag and bash in the same way.
Take the pan of melted chocolate mixture off the heat and add the crushed biscuits and nuts.
Add the glacé cherries and mini marshmallows. Fold the mixture carefully to coat all of the solid ingredients with the syrupy chocolate mixture.
Pour the mixture into a 25cm/10in x 30cm/12in greased and lined baking tray and smooth the surface as much as possible (although it will look bumpy).
Refrigerate for two hours, or until firm enough to cut. Dust with icing sugar, then sprinkle with edible glitter if you wish.
Remove the block of rocky road from the tray and cut into 24 rectangles.


I also made some Christmas Spice Biscuits, the recipe originally came from Parentdish but I found it on the Frugal Family blog. I cut mine in to little star shapes. Here is the recipe:

Christmas Spice Biscuits

250g plain flour
125g  butter
125g brown sugar
1 small beaten egg
3 teaspoons mixed spice
pinch of salt

Pre heat your oven to 190′C / 375 F / Gas mark 5
Beat the butter and sugar and then add the beaten egg to the mixture bit by bit.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix them all together until you can get your hands in and make it into a ball of dough.
Roll out the dough until it is about 1/2 cm thick, then cut out your biscuits.
Place each biscuit onto a greased baking tray and cook for about 15 minutes.  You can tell they’re done as they’ll go a lovely golden brown.
You can use a straw to make a  hole at the top of each biscuit before cooking them so that you can hang them from the Christmas tree if you want to


And last but not least, I made some Gingerbread men. I have wrapped it all up ready for the morning now and completely forgot to take a picture of the gingies and the stars before I did so, but you can find my easy peasy Gingerbread recipe in a previous entry on my blog if you want to give it a go yourself.

Meal Plan Monday

Monday, 12 December 2011

Monday 12th December - Toad in the hole with mashed potato and vegetables

Tuesday 13th December - Beef Casserole & dumplings

Wednesday 14th December - Cottage Pie

Thursday 15th December - Rigatoni alla amatriciana

Friday  16th December - Chicken Fajitas

Saturday 17th December - Brinner

Sunday 18th December - Roast Chicken with steamed vegetables, mashed potato, yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, onion rings, stuffing balls and gravy

Creating a Home-made Christmas

Saturday, 10 December 2011

As I mentioned in my R2BC post yesterday, the children and I have been creating our own decorations this year and after spotting a lovely blog badge I could link up with I decided to make a new post to share pictures and inspiration for anyone who is interested.


As I said, Alicia and I made beautiful hanging paper stars which look very complicated but in reality are very simple and quick to make and look great. I searched the internet for some good, clear instructions on how to make hanging paper stars and came across this blog, which included some handy pictures too. The ones pictured below are our efforts!

Logan and Harrison have been going to Christmas Craft club at school on a Wednesday while Joshua was at football club, and have been coming home with beautiful decorations which are now adorning my tree, ceiling, and window in the living room. The tree ornaments are salt dough decorated with a hefty dose of glitter and look lovely and very effective when the tree lights are on.

I also have two fab little snowmen hanging from the ceiling with Merry Christmas messages on the back


And these two fantastic pots that they decorated for me, Logan's is the one with the bow stuck inside as sometimes he can take a while to warm up to taking part in activities and the pots were the first things they made at club a few weeks ago!


And finally, paper chains (which I don't have a picture of but I am sure you have all seen paper chains!) and paper angels, this is the site I used for instructions on how to make paper angels. Excuse the filler mark on the wall behind the angels, hopefully some time before Christmas my husband will finish sanding and painting that wall  ;)

I have also designed our table place mats which I will print off A4 size and laminate ready for the dinner table. Along with their names and their chosen digital bauble from my collection they chose some lyrics from a Christmas song to go with it.



#R2BC - Reasons to be cheerful... 1, 2, 3

Friday, 9 December 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

#R2BC is back home at Mummy From The Heart this week, be sure to go have a read and maybe say hello.

My reasons to be cheerful this week -

1. Harrison & Logan made me beautiful tree ornaments and hanging decorations at Christmas Craft club at school this week. They are absolutely gorgeous, and make the living room look really cosy. We've made a lot of our Christmas decorations ourselves this year, we've got some basic brown paper chains, paper angels and some hanging stars made out of wrapping paper but they look really effective and most importantly we had fun making them together.

2. Joshua's school pantomime "Aladdin" was great. He played one of the emperor's guards and had some lines, he did wonderfully and we really enjoyed the performance. The school always put on a fab show at Christmastime and this year was no exception. All of the songs were Beatles songs with lyrics changed, it was really funny and the kids did such a good job. Joshua was extra pleased as Little Nanny & Grampy made it to see Wednesday's performance, and his Dad & I watched it last night. Very proud of our biggest boy, and a little sad as this is his last Primary school show before he moves up to Secondary school in September! Bittersweet.

3. Tonight "him indoors" and I will be going out for his work Christmas meal, which means no cooking for me! A well deserved night off for us both. The Grandparents are coming to watch the children and they will be having some pizza and popcorn, and Adam and I will be enjoying a Christmas meal at the pub with his workmates. I can't wait! It's been ages since we have been out together, I'm really looking forward to getting dressed up and having a night out! And the best thing is, it's all paid for by someone else, it will be the best tasting meal ever haha.

Meal Plan Monday

Monday, 5 December 2011

Monday 5th December - Brinner

Tuesday 6th December - Spaghetti Bolognese

Wednesday 7th December - Toad in the hole, mashed potatoes and vegetables

Thursday 8th December - Egg, chip & pepper bake

Friday 9th December - The children will be enjoying a Cheese Feast Deli Pizza as a treat, because the old man and I are off out for dinner for his Work Christmas Meal!

Saturday 10th December - We've moved Fajita Friday, and we're having chicken Fajitas with nachos & rice

Sunday 11th December - Roast Lamb with steamed mixed vegetables, yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, sage & onion stuffing, breaded onion rings and gravy
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