I Won! Its the Christmas Lights Turn on day

Sittingbourne has a rather pathetic Christmas light display if truth is told,
about 10 years ago both Allan and I were on the Christmas lights committee but every suggestion that we made to get the lights more outstanding was ignored Every idea to raise money was pushed to one side if it wasn’t suggested by an élite few… There was also allegations that the original lights the town had that were quite impressive years ago had been stolen.. We were told they were sent off for rewiring and never returned, however there was never any proof because there was a delivery note but anyway.. this is old news and money was needed for new lights.. we borrowed lights from other towns and put them on the lamp posts..
Apparently now new by-laws say we can’t have them draped over the road in the high street… funny how most other towns can but again…  that’s another story..
Anyway fed up with having everything suggested ignored we and quite a few others left the lights group.

Fast forward 10 years and I still kept and eye on the Christmas lights activities.. 
there is new blood on the committee and they are working hard now to make the whole turn on day a good community day and hoping to find lots of ways to raise money so in years to come the light display will be back to being as splendid as it was when I was a kid.
But I Still know some old members of the committee and have met a few new ones and made friends with them funny enough not through the lights groups.
So here we are present day.. I was told by Sam  a friend who we collect cardboard off and who also has given us some other contacts for cardboard..  (she is involved with the christmas lights ) that on  lights turn on day 30th November 2013
there would be a mince-pie competition. She also knew that I baked a lot so asked if I was interested in entering the competition.  well how could I resist.

Here were the rules:

If you’re doing a bit of late night baking…..

Mince Pie Competition Rules
•You need to enter 6 mince pies; two of these will be tasted by the judges. The remaining four will be donated for sale to raise money for the lights.
•You must have baked the mince pies yourself.
•Closing time for entries is 2pm and pies must be delivered to Christmas Lights Association Stall.
•Judging will take place at 2:30 on the stage-please be available when winner is announced to receive your prize.
•The winner will have their recipe published on our website and facebook page and will receive a special prize.

Both Allan and I baked some mince pies and we entered the comp.   we took the boys and Shelby-Anne (we have babysat her since Friday night while her mum and day get some bits done)  anyway we took them all off up the town to see Santa and we had to take our mince pies in to the christmas lights stall in the high street … oh and do a bit of shopping as well.

To me it wasn’t that cold but a lot of people were complaining it was freezing… oh well I guess this is England.. we are not happy unless we are moaning about something!!!

When we dropped our mince pies off we were told to go back to the stall at 2.30pm to find out the results of the judging by two judges who have no idea who baked what as it was all done by a number on the entry form. (before anyone could accuse anyone of cheating)
we got there  just after two thirty and they had narrowed it down to 4 entries

We were surprised to see both mine and Allan’s were there on the table.
It was announced and the winner was ME !!!!!!!!!!  YAY… to be honest that is probably the only thing I ever have and ever will win lol
Quite surprising really as we had decided at home that we thought the nicest ones were Allan’s, Anyway I won a lovely prize so we both get to share anyway.

A few pics of the day

Meeting Santa I asked the boys when I was taking Shelby-Anne to see Santa if they wanted to go (as I thought they may decide they were too old for it ) but guess what they wanted to do!

Meeting Santa
I asked the boys when I was taking Shelby-Anne to see Santa if they wanted to go (as I thought they may decide they were too old for it ) but guess what they wanted to do!

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The judges picking the winners.. my Mince Pies before they went into the oven and the table with the 4 entries when we got there before we knew who won.

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My prize and I have googled and it looks like a very nice treat that I think I will save for the summer 🙂

Loving this learning Lark!

As you have gathered if you read my last post, I have started on some Adult education…

WHY????

What? Well why because I can!

Why because it’s probably the most asked question every.

Some people dread going into their 50’s, Well I am embracing it… I don’t feel over 50, I don’t think I look over 50 (yes I know the fat fills the wrinkles)

and I don’t act over like I am over 50.  I do own a first class ticket to get discount at the hornby shop and cafe in Broadstairs. which I admit is a bonus when I am buying more trains and airfix things for the boys……………… Ok back to as I was saying..

I reached a point last year when I passed my 50th birthday that It was time for me to move on from being Mum to being me and having left school with no qualifications whatsoever, I managed to get a job straight away, in fact I have never had a problem getting any job I wanted in my life……….

I had a fantastic job in the Embassy and then from there when I came back to the uk I got a great job back here as a PA to an owner director in a tool business and worked there until I fell pregnant with my first child Michael. I left that job because I moved out of the area and started work up in London for the M.O.D for a while, I took leave and had my baby . Sadly my son was born stillborn and after a few weeks I decided that I needed to move back to Kent. Again within a few weeks I started a new job, Got pregnant again, had my son Daniel and then had my twins John and Sarah a year after… when my twins were a few months old I decided that I really needed to work again.. to be honest we needed the money and my husband at the time was one of those people who had no intention of ever working in his life… He also had no intention of looking after three children under the age of one and a half.. My only option was to find a job that fitted in with the childcare I could get… My parents… so while my husband was out with friends etc… I went to work. My parents took it in turns who was coming around to babysit… My hours were from 7pm to 11pm every day.. so basically I had all three children in bed by the time they came round…

I did this for a few years until my eldest was 3 and I wanted to get him in to a playgroup, at the time there were so few spaces that It was impossible to find one so after talking to a few friends and people at work, they offered sponsorship for setting up a new playgroup. My friend was qualified for working with children and we started out local playgroup, I did the administration side and helped out while my friend “C” took the role of boss and hired two staff to work there with us.

The playgroup was full to capacity with children within two weeks, I don’t know if it was because we were the only place with spaces but word got around fast and people liked us, soon we had a longer waiting list than a lot of other local playgroups.

I worked there right up until my 4th child Andrew was born, I then took a few months off before I went back, there was no problems having him there while I worked as he was such a good baby and of course everyone loved him, I then fell pregnant again and had my 5th child Hayley.. Now my first three children had started school and I had the two little ones… both too young for the playgroup but one very active toddler and a baby, this meant that working at the playgroup was getting impossible.

So I took a step back and just did the paperwork etc from home… Not long after this I moved to another town as we needed a bigger house………. I soon made friends and found someone who would look after my two little ones while I worked in the local shop.

this I did right up until my marriage broke up and there was a big split in the family. at this point I got another job in a radio station as a presenter and also in advertising, To be honest I preferred the background work to the being “On Air” side of things, Not long after I found myself pregnant again with my new partners baby.

Baby number 6…Alex.

My partner Allan was a head chef and working long hours……. So it got to the point where we had a newborn baby, I was leaving for work at 6.00am for a 7am start while my other half looked after Alex while I was at work, I would finish work about 2pm, get home for about 2.30pm and take over the responsible parent bit, looking after our son, then he would leave for his job as head chef in a big pub about 3.30pm….. and work right through and by the time he had finished supervising the clean up at the end of the night it would be about 1am when he got back in…. and I left for work at 6am and so the circle went on and on until my son was about 3 months old. Not only did we get the keys to our first house together as a family the first week of March, I also got very sick, I had a lump in my throat which had become more and more uncomfortable, this I had ignored for quite a long time but the day after we got the keys to the house I went to work in the morning and by 10am was so ill an ambulance was called and I was rushed off to hospital. I had an infected tumour and blood poisoning.. The be all and end all of it was I was seriously ill and in hospital and my other half was looking after a 3month old baby and moving into our house and visiting me in hospital. I decided then while I was there that if I made it.

(I honestly thought I was going to die at one point)

I would spend more time with my son.

So when I was discharged a few weeks later I spoke to my boss at the radio station and he agreed I could work from home for the sales part getting advertising for the radio station and then once I had appointments booked I would go out on the road to meetings so I could arrange them to fit in with my schedule … The problem with that is trying to hold a conversation by telesales with a baby /small child in the background.. after a while and a long discussion with my partner it was decided that I would for the first time in my life become a stay at home mum full-time.

Not only was I a stay at home mum to Alex I also had another baby who was baby number 7 for me which was Ali,  plus we had my step daughters Amber and Tammy, visit every other weekend ….. so that’s us…. 9 kids between us…..

So there I am, a stay at home mum. Don’t get me wrong I have loved each and every second of being there seeing all the milestones with my two sons that I missed with my other 5 children but when I got to 50 and Ali was settled in school I started to feel bored… I love being there for my kids and because Ali is a very special child for want of a better description He is Autistic although not what they class as very severe but can be very hard work at times, Socially Inept, and struggles to deal with any change at times, and is partially sighted being legally blind in one eye and extremely far-sighted in the other eye. This means that working full-time would be impossible for me. I need to be there for him during school holidays…. so what can I do… I needed to get the brain cells going again….. and although I have a lot of friends, I wanted something more challenging.. Allan has become a scout leader and I do a lot of help there…

We both had have red cross first aid experience in the past and when Allan did his first aid course for the scouts to get his back up to date I did mine as well, I then went on to do a course to obtain my Emergency First Aid at Work-Appointed Persons Certificate, which I did so I am a fully qualified first aider and rapid response at work first aider…

I do a lot of baking and love the sugar craft aspect of it, anyone can throw a slab of icing over a cake and cut out a few shapes and stick them on the top, but to make lovely roses etc takes real skill and I had always wanted to be able to do it , so I went on two sugarcraft courses, one basic and one advanced where you make the bouquets etc to go on top of wedding cakes as well. I loved every second but sadly this is not the sort of thing you put on your everyday cakes but I do practice and keep up most weeks.

So here we are now….. I am embarking on a course for supporting children’s learning… Why Not…….. the hours fit in with school hours and if I want It’s a skill and qualification that I can use to obtain a job.

That’s why!!

Anyway I wont go into too much detail on this blog but I am keeping another blog about the courses I am throwing myself into… and weekly work…….. homework… probably moaning and ranting and my homework,

http://50andstillyoung.wordpress.com/

The Night after the Day before, Aka Christmas Day.

We Finally had the long-awaited and craved for Chinese on Christmas Eve, One problem was, I am so full of lurge that I could hardly eat it… I swear there was enough left overs to feed another 4 people…..

The dogs Christmas presents today, were, a packet of treats each , Much appreciated from SS (Secret Santa) Then they had their squeaky toys…

No matter what toy Molly had Tealc’s sounded so much better to her… He on the other hand did what he does best when it comes to plastic squeaky toys… he demolished them in seconds flat to a pile of chewed bits in the bottom of his bed…….

And the pièce de résistance of the day for them both was of course… Chinese for Dinner… Lots of it..

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On to the Christmas dinner……. Now For every year ever since I have been preparing a family Christmas dinner I have spent Christmas eve having a clean up and then once the kids have gone to bed popped the turkey in the oven and prepared all the veg… got all the presents all nice and ready for when the kids come down in the morning. Not this year… This year I have felt like death warmed up , Allan’s answer to everything is don’t worry we will sort it later…..

Also in the past its an unwritten house rule that Christmas dinner was always for 1pm but saying that because of the old man coming over That bit was changed to 3pm…

Plan’s never erm go to plan…….. we went to bed. and the only thing that got cleaned on Christmas eve was the cooker…. Nothing was prepared nothing was cooked in advance…

We set the alarms for 6am, Got up and then had a drink while we waited for the boys to come down… yes I did say waited for them to come down… WTF… I mean what normal kid is not awake at 4am dying to know if Santa had been………. Amber is dying to wake them up but eventually about 7.30am they come down and the present frenzy begins.

Rubbish bags at the ready to put all the wrapping paper in as they rip open everything with their names on it…..

 

Christmas dinner was almost great. My turkey was moist and tender. Everyone enjoyed the meal except for my dad who of course is a connoisseur of everything. He is a very picky eater and even buying the wrong brand of potato’s to roast can ruin the meal for him.

(oh Hang on that was last year….. actually where my dad is concerned it’s every year)

This year was different the turkey, was dry and over cooked and when it was taken out of the roasting pan, fell to pieces… the pork was over cooked and the crackling was like wood.. Yep the chef cooked the meat.. not me I hasten to add……

The lovely Vickie peeled the veg and dinner was finally served at 4pm to a hungry and in my dads case half pissed table of people…. I have to say this is the worst Christmas I have had in a long time in the way of being prepared….. Only the Christmas cake has been baked… I have not even done mince pies or anything….. No Yule log made… I really haven’t felt up to all the usual preparations.. In fact I haven’t even had a drink all day…..  A tee total Christmas day….  There is a first……

 

On the plus side the boys have loved their presents and that’s the most important thing.

I’m planning to do roast beef and roast pork rather than goose for New Years Day, mainly because I don’t like goose much, Fingers crossed that meal turns out better than today’s…..

And Now I am sitting here thinking its 365 days until Christmas

 

Being me, I want to get organised and, more importantly, start thinking about the things that I can do and buy well in advance so I don’t feel like it all hits me in one lump. (Both expenditure-wise and work-wise). And the whole process starts all over again.

penguin_ani

Christmas Cake Recipe

I was asked by my sister in law……. (one of the nice ones)  A few weeks ago for a recipe for Christmas Cake as she cant buy it out in the states and I sent it to her..

Well like us she has been feeding them on a regular basis… She made two a big one and a small one, Anyway she couldn’t hang on any longer and had to try the small one yesterday and declaired it was the best ever

Christmas cake she has ever tasted……. and probably the most alcoholic….  So I thought I would share the recipe here……. for others to try.

Christmas cake

 

1/2 pint of spirits sherry, brandy whiskey mixed together in jug (optional )

8ox (200g) plain flour

1 level teaspoon mixed spice

1 level teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 level teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 level teaspoon cocoa powder

8oz (200g) softened butter

8oz (200g) soft brown sugar (dark variety)

3 standard eggs

1 teaspoon black treacle

1 1/2lb (3/4 kilo) mixed fruit (currants, sultanas and seedless raisins)

4 oz (100g) dates finely chopped.

4oz (100g) mixed chopped peel.

4oz (100g) walnuts or blanched almonds. finely chopped. (I used 2oz of each)

finely grated peel of one medium orange.

 

1. Put all fruit and chopped peel into a bowl and pour the spirits over the top mix and then cover in cling-wrap, leave overnight and then stir, leave for another 8 hours until fruit has absorbed all the alcohol. there may be a little syrup left but that can be drained.

2. Pre-heat oven to cool, 275 deg f or gas mk 1 (140 deg C)

3. Brush a 9 inch round or 8 inch square cake tin with melted butter. Line base and sides with a double thickness of greaseproof paper, brush paper with melted butter, Tie a strip of double brown paper about 2 inches higher than the tin around the outside of the tin to prevent cake mix from burning.

4. Sift flour, spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and cocoa into a bowl.

5. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

6. Gradually beat in eggs one at a time adding a teaspoon of sieved dry ingredients with each egg added.

7. Stir in treacle, dried fruit that has been soaked, peel, nuts and grated orange.

8. Fold in remaining dry ingredients with a metal spoon then transfer mixture to prepared cake tin.

9. Hollow out centre slightly then bake just below centre of oven for 6 hours or until a fine knitting needle or skewer inserted into the centre of cake, comes out clean.

10. Leave in tin until lukewarm then turn out on to a wire cooling rack.

11. when completely cold, wrap in foil and store in airtight at least two weeks before covering in marzipan. (non alcohol)

12. for Cakes with spirits in .. insert a skewer several times into the base of the cake and add tablespoon or two of a mixture of brandy and sherry into the cake every two weeks feeding the cake until a week before Christmas when you then cover in marzipan and ice..

And then Eat and Enjoy…

Of course we put as much booze as possible into ours……… HIC!

This is our one it’s still upside down and at the feeding stage………
Last year I did a round one so this year I thought I would go for the square shape you can’t see properly from this picture but it’s about 4 inches deep

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Show your spots, let’s raise lots! Children In Need 2012

Last  Friday They were supporting  Children in Need up the School, For those who don’t know what Children in need is…

It is a campaign held in the United Kingdom to raise money for the charity Children in Need. 2012 marks the 32nd anniversary of the appeal which culminates in a live broadcast on BBC One on the evening of Friday 16 November until the early hours of Saturday 17 November.

The broadcast  is hosted by Terry Wogan, with Tess Daly, Fearne Cotton and Nick Grimshaw as co-hosts.

The show was broadcast from BBC Television Centre in London but also includes regular regional opt-outs presented from various locations around the UK.

The money contributed to Children in Need is distributed to organisations supporting children in the UK aged 18 and under who have mental, physical or sensory disorders; behavioural or psychological disorders; are living in poverty or situations of deprivation; or suffering through distress, sexual abuse or neglect.

This year, The BBC’s Children in Need appeal raised more than £26 million during this year’s live television show, beating the 2011 total.

 

And I as always have done my bit in a way.. (A very little bit I do confess)

 

I always make cakes for the boys classes at school, Using the proper children in need cases so I donate in two ways there, Once for the cases and again for the ingredients and time etc… *righteous feeling* but I do bake about 200 usually and they school sell them at about 25p a cake… And I was told they sold out in about 10 mins so that made £50 🙂

 

As usually we have the rejects at home.. the ones that didn’t rise enough or were just not good enough to take to the school,

 

And of course the boys have their dress up day which we make a donation to children in need… this year they had to have spots..

Now this was one of the easiest dress up days because they both already had a Yellow T-shirt for some other event they had to dress up as, (cant remember what it was now) and I just got some felt tip markers and spottified their T-shirts.

 

A very good friend Vickie… (Hellooooooooooo and waves,  as I know you are reading ) Was doing the car washing with a group of people at £3 each

And boy did they earn the money as it was freezing out there. .. We took both our car’s, Admittedly we made their earn their money as they were both really dirty ..*insert guilty feeling* But even if they had been clean we would have taken them along.

They raised an incredible £238.47

So well done to all of them.. 🙂 It really was an incredible achievement and they should be so proud of themselves,

So I feel that I have done by bit one way or another..

and lets face it every little helps 🙂

Not enough hours in the day at the moment

Just popping in to say a quick hello I am still alive before I get on with all the stuff I have to do today,

Got cakes to bake for the Bowls Club do tomorrow, If I get time another cake for Ali’s Birthday as I feel bad about buying him one, Clothes to get sorted for tomorrows day out at the trains we are taking Ali here for his treat we go every year on his birthday he loves the place, Oh and got the summer Fayre at the school to do today as I’m helping out on the smash a plate stall with the beavers and cubs. bit worried about that one with all the flying glass and stuff having the kids so close but hey it must be safe… anyway off I go, it’s going to be a long day

not sure if I will be updating this weekend I will try if I can,

 

anyway what has taken place which I feel a bad mummy about was the school sponsored walk , I got at the school yesterday about 2.35 our usual time to go find somewhere to park and it was packed.. I then remembered that as well as none uniform day it was the school sponsored walk oops. oh well I arrived in time to see them and most importantly to them. to take them home early 😆

Oh and one last thing… As I already said in the last Blog, The declutter has started… The main bedroom is slowly looking less like a hoarders paradise  I will blog about this more when I have time as the de-clutter is still ongoing… I want to reclaim all the rooms.
I need to get at least the rooms sorted before August… The Attic I may save for when they go back to school in September to give me something to do with my time when Jo Moves away…. Oh more to come about that as well.
See I have an excuse really for not being on the internet 24/7  🙂

Adam

Ali

Alex

Got some Major catching up to do!

 

Well, what an end to the Easter Holidays!
It’s been quite A rollercoaster of events and no time for blogging.
So get yourself a cup of tea –
I have a feeling this blog may be a long one as we catch up on events from the past few weeks.

 

 Are you sitting comfortably?
Then I shall begin …

We had some fantastic weather the last week the kids were at school, it wasn’t bad the first five days they were off school but since then we have had nothing but cold and overcast, its seems the clouds had rolled in and we’ve been treated to week of over cast, cold weather, sometimes the clouds were so black I thought we were going to have some torrential rain… but no… we had five min’s of rain and that’s it…. the clouds moved on by…. And the hose pipe ban has come into force…. This will of course affect the garden this summer and what is going to be grown in it, Veg wise  But I will blog about that another day.

The problem with this weather is what to do with the kids..   Alex had decided that he wanted to take a break from his Karate so we agreed he could have the Easter Break off…  As it goes the Wednesday before they broke up from school he was really under the weather anyway so he has had three weeks off which to be honest has done him good I think he was getting over tired from it and its given his knee’s and legs a rest as well.  (one day I will go into what’s actually wrong with him in more detail )

The first week they were off we took them to the Chatham dockyard which they loved going back to, and of course their old favourite the spitfire and RAF Manston museum.
The other trip I had planned for them was on the Sittingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway
http://www.sklr.net/
for a trip but sadly that was cancelled because asbestos was found in a pipe running adjacent to the railway.

 

Chatham Dockyard in the roof of the big space

 

Chatham Dockyard

 

RAF Manston Museum

 

As it goes that day it was cold anyway so the boys were happy having a chill day.

We did go out to the park a couple of times so it wasn’t a bad week.

On the way up the park

 

A quick kick around

Oh and we went on an Easter egg hunt as well to Riverside Country Park, we also took our neighbours son Adam with us.. With the exception of him running off (but was found) the boys really enjoyed the trail although I have to say while the 20 odd questions were actually very hard for youngsters the prize was not very good at all, A little Mini Egg… I think next year I will find somewhere else to take them to.

 

Finding the Clues and Answering the Questions..

Collecting their naff prize either a silly plastic toy or a mini egg... wow and the trail took two hours for that?!?

 

 

 

Sunday of course was Easter Sunday now I am not religious at all but I do know what its like for kids when all their friends at school go on about how they got this and that on religious holidays so I have never deprived my boys of Christmas and Easter… except for the fact that its more an end of year present giving and pig out… and Easter is chocolate egg weekend lol

And with that in mind I decided that this year I would make them a basket each instead of just buying a chocolate egg, I was actually quite impressed with them.

Their eggs and baskets I made


I think this will become a new tradition in the house…… Maybe next year I wont do all chocolate though… I may add a little treat in instead.

 

Having been ill Again 😦 I am now back on the sofa although I am recovering much better this time.. thankfully it’s not gone onto my chest completely just more of a cold and cough. I have been told I have a very weak immune system since I got bronchitis last year and need to build myself up so I am now on a course of some major Vitamin  and iron and omega 3 capsules and it all seems to be helping as I am now fighting this bug off on my own without needing huge amounts of antibiotics and I am just about managing to cope in the day.

 

Alex has been asking to go to an amusement park for a while now and the idea of Alton towers really filled me with dread as I knew it would cost fortunes and the boys wouldn’t be able to go on much, however there is one place I had forgotten about until someone reminded me the other day when they were posting some pictures… Southend Adventure Island…  It’s Ideal Not that far from home… its wrist band entry so not silly money… So I looked on-line and they were doing a deal on wrist bands which can be used any time in the year so I have bought a couple of the red bands for them and I am tempted while they are on offer to get a couple of the green ones,  If the boys are too tall for the red ones then I can always upgrade them and if they are too small for the greens ones then Allan can go on the rides with them…. (Did you notice I said Allan there… well he knows nothing about it yet lol ). The good thing is they don’t run out until the end of 2012 so will save them for special treats when the weather does eventually get better…

 http://www.adventureisland.co.uk/

Today is the last day off before the boys go back to school on Monday. I have to say on one hand I’m looking forward to it so I can start getting the house in some order but on the other hand not only is it back to the dreaded school run (which I may have mentioned I hate 🙄 ) but I will miss the boys… Although Ali has certainly had his challenging moments over the last two weeks.

 

Yesterday I had a trial run of a cake to make for this Cake Meeting… the theme is fruit and veg. so I thought the cake should contain both so had made an eggplant cake with strawberries… different and not that bad… We will also be making a carrot and ginger cake with lemon frosting.. Again Fruit and Veg…

 

I have noticed that the host is making an apple cake…. where is the veg in that… When I go if that is wall she has done I will ask what is the point in having a theme such as fruit and veg if it can be either after all anyone can make a normal carrot cake or a fruit cake..

 

Eggplant and Strawberry Cake

 

Oh and I will remember to put them right about who did most of the baking of the last cake…

I have a feeling I wont be invited again afterwards lol Anyway Hopefully I am caught up now and can try and get some sleep seeing as its now 3.08am   Yawn!!!

Night Folks!!!