Halloween

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I have read a number of recent blog posts and commentary arguing that Halloween was never as ‘big’ as it is now, however I differ to this thinking as I remember Halloween being an important part of my childhood, perhaps a little less commercial, for example costumes were fashioned from existing clothes but still a time of fun and treats.  This could be down to my Celtic connections, Halloween was always celebrated, bobbing for apples and 50p pieces, jumping up to the syrup pudding and getting dressed up, always followed the next day by the Holy Day of Obligation Mass.  We were often in Scotland at my grandparents for Halloween as it coincided with half term and so its a time of year I always associate with them.  Sadly, my lovely Gramps died on Halloween when I was 18 and fifteen years later I was back in Scotland for the half term week for my Grandma’s funeral.  That week has also been a busy time for family birthdays so there were often lots of cousins and family up with my grandparents too, happy childhood memories.

Halloween is also a significant date in my life, not only did I lose my Gramps on the date when I was 18, a wise, kind and loving man but on Halloween when I was 25, I met my husband.  I like the symmetry of these two men ‘sharing’ a date as they have so many shared characteristics,  love, kindness, family values and responsibility.  Sixteen years ago Halloween was a miserable, wet and cold Saturday night and I was out in town with a friend to see a band, the sort of night you wouldn’t go out in but we wanted to see the band, it was only a gig in a pub and they never made it big!  When we left the pub we ran to the nearest club for a dance and a few more drinks and there on the dance floor I met my husband, I even remember the song playing, Daydream Believer by the Monkees.  Whilst our wedding anniversary is important, Halloween always has a little more significance, its our day!

Our plan for today is a trip to a local attraction which has free entry for everyone in fancy dress.  We went a couple of years ago and it was brilliant, stunning costumes and lots of Halloween treats with a great atmosphere.  We have our Halloween picnic ready.  Before we leave we will pop over to the neighbours to show them our costumes, I’m a witch, Little Miss a gothic bride, her choice following the Phantom House at Disney and Little Man is Frankenstein.  When Daddy gets home from work tonight we’ll play some traditional Halloween games, it just isn’t Halloween without apple bobbing!

Halloween Baking

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As tomorrow I’m planning on taking the children out for the day, today was the day to prepare for Halloween.  We’ve decorated the kitchen, recycling old costumes as decorations, carved the pumpkin and done the baking for tomorrow’s themed lunch.  Above in the photo is some of our baking.  We’ve made orange flavoured pumpkin cake pops, covered in orange chocolate, bat biscuits sprayed with a silver sheen and ghost and mummy cheese biscuits.  I’m proud to say that this is our work, the children were enthusiastic bakers and are becoming much more independent in their work, they were in charge of measuring, mixing and rolling the ingredients.  The finished products may not be perfect but there is so much love,enthusiasm and work gone into making them.

I really enjoyed making the cake pops this morning, my first attempt.  The moulds are brilliant and the cakes were excellent.  I found it more difficult with the coating as it was a specialist ingredient and I need a few more trials.  However I have many ideas bubbling for Christmas baking using the pops.  I had bought an edible ink pen, however this wasn’t as effective as I had hoped and whilst probably better on icing it did not work well on the cake pop coating or the cheese biscuits where I was trying to draw on bandages and facial features.  I like to note down these reflections to remind me for the next time.

In addition to the baked goods above, our lunch tomorrow will include a few more treats, sandwiches in the shape of ghosts, wrapped sausages in bread with tomato sauce as bloodied fingers and ghost bananas and pumpkin satsumas, I love a theme!

Rushing Through Life

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I came across this quote on my guilty pleasure of Pinterest last week.  It made me pause and reflect on my own life, putting into words how I’ve been feeling recently.  I am so lucky to have a loving husband, two amazing children, a part time job which I love and materially all I need.  Yet I feel I have been missing my passion, vitality and spirit.  I looked in the mirror last week to see a grey face staring back, lines appearing and looking tired.  I am not vain but it was a shock to see myself ageing.  I also had a lot of diary entries last week and felt that at times  I was simply there in body rather than spirit.  Last week was a week I look forward to annually as by a quirk of my working life I have 4 days off work whilst the children are at school.  However my days ended full of appointments and rather than getting the opportunity to do some creative things, purchase some festive material for Christmas stockings and buntings, I was meeting education psychologists to ensure one of our littlies gets all the support they need in school, fighting the education authority’s refusal to do a special needs assessment, supporting a prospective adopter by meeting and offering advice, objecting to another planning application on a neighbour’s house which would invade our privacy etc ..  The result of all these appointments was that  I was so drained I felt ill and just wanted to curl up in bed and sleep.  Whilst I did not work, I felt I was physically and mentally recovering from such a demanding period at school.    My work life balance is not in equilibrium at present and I am not the person I want to be.  I want to be the caring and supportive wife, loving and fun Mum, home maker, fit and healthy, creative and vibrant, sparkling woman I know is the real me.  My challenge is to rediscover her so everyone benefits.

@Bristol – Science at its Best

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This weekend we spent the weekend with our parents.  Firstly there is the diplomacy to manage to ensure that each family sees the children for the same amount of time, we counter this by staying at both families with the children swapping houses on each night.  Saturday morning was spent with Grandad and Saturday afternoon with Grandma and Granfer and then all together on Sunday morning, its a logistical challenge with lots of driving between the houses, but hopefully a solution which pleases all.

On this visit we were able to visit the interactive Science museum in the centre of Bristol @Bristol.  Its somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a long time and the children now seem to be at an age when they can make the most of the facilities the museum offers.  The children are at a great age and I am really looking forward to doing more activities with them, each age just makes the children more entertaining, interesting and fantastic company.

The museum was brilliant, everything was interactive and I learnt so much.  The museum has different themes, the body, the solar system, an exhibition on food, simple physics as well as demonstrations, little shows etc.. I had so many favourite activities, freeze your shadow was amazing, looking at my veins pumping blood fascinating, checking my vital statistics and learning that my resting heart beat is good was reassuring and a go at making a short animation which was emailed back to me made me feel quite creative.  My parents and the children loved the museum too and it was lovely to see them explaining all to the children like they used to with me.  I think they too have been patiently waiting to visit the museum to explore and learn.  It is the type of museum you just don’t want to leave and when you do, you are already planning the next trip.

Christmas Presents

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Today was the deadline for the Rotary Christmas boxes.  Its a very simple idea to fill a wrapped shoe box with little gifts for children living in poverty around the world.  Over the years I have collected boxes as my year group’s charity project and made contributions.  Its an appeal which is close to my heart, we live such a blessed life and I get upset that there are children in the world who live in such poverty and hardship.  If my box can bring joy to a child, I feel privileged to be able to do this.   I spend lots of time choosing presents for the boxes, games which can be played easily that’s Jenga and dominoes this year, nice stationery, little toys and a Christmas card. This year I have done two boxes for children the same age as our children, this has made it all more emotional for me.  Amid all the excitement of Christmas Day, I always think of the little people receiving this year’s boxes and hope they are enjoying their Christmas presents.   The presents show that someone is thinking of them and sending Christmas sparkles, to me this is the true meaning of Christmas.

Baking

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This afternoon, I had one of my special baking sessions with Little Miss.  I love baking and whilst my Mum was never a home baker, my Grandma instilled in me a love of baking. ‘Our’ recipe was cherry scones, but at her funeral I discovered that she had taught each of her grand daughters different recipes.   I love that she did this so that her skills and special recipes live on in all of us. The other key baker in my childhood was my Godmother, Auntie Helen, Grandma’s youngest daughter, her marble cake was amazing and never bettered. Growing up, I was always the keen baker at home and my Dad an appreciative consumer, my favourite recipe was a fruit cake from an old black and white recipe book, the magic ingredient being a little melted chocolate.  Being a mum has only developed my passion, I now have more keen tasters and exciting projects, I love a cake for all occasions and have a brilliant Pinterest cakes board for inspiration.  I spend months planning for birthdays, this year we had a Spiderman cake and a Frozen themed cake.  it did feel quite bizarre, making snowflakes on one of the hottest days of the year.

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Today our recipe was for simple butterfly cakes.  I want to keep baking easy and fun so Little Miss can learn the basics and enjoy the process.  I am very careful that it is her work and relax with the presentation.  Little Miss had a lovely time baking this afternoon, perfect Mummy and daughter time and she was so proud of her cakes.  She went up to bed tonight with one of my recipe books looking for our next project.