We normally wait until December, but it’s near enough.
I let the kids decorate the tree and then I tidy it up afterwards, I can’t be doing with two baubles on one branch!

When do you put your Christmas tree up and do you let the children decorate or do it while they are not around?


As predicted last week, this weeks word is old, however, I don’t feel as bad about it as I was expecting too. I’ve been expecting it for a while you see, it nibbles away at you sometimes. When you are young birthdays are mostly a time of fun and celebration with lots of looking forward. Then you find yourself speeding towards old age and suddenly you wish the birthdays would just stop already. This wasn’t a big birthday, that’s next year, but it’s one step towards it. I remember going to a 50th birthday party many moons ago and thinking why would anyone want to celebrate being THAT OLD! Ah the ignorance of youth. You have no choice, it’s going to happen anyway, so why not make the most of it.

So, my birthday is over now and I’m a year older this Friday than I was last week. I don’t really feel any different though. My main gift was to go and see Kasabian live at the LG arena. I’ve seen them several times before and I love them. I know they are not everyone’s cup of tea and as a regular listener to Il Divo and Michael Buble, it does surprise people sometimes. Now, when I’ve seen them before it’s been in smaller places like the NIA. So I was a little worried about the LG arena and it’s hugeness, particularly as I’m not good in crowds. But on the night I really let my hair down and I was in the ‘mosh pit’ albeit not right in the middle, there were thousands there and most of them were behind me…eeek! The woman not far from me looked a fair bit older than me, and there were two guys in the seats to my right who had to be at least 20 years older than me!! Wow! If they can do it so can I. I had the time of my life.

The next day I was aching from being on my feet all night dancing but my head was clear and I was good.

This year, for a change, most of my family remembered my birthday without prompting. (not that I would prompt anyway, which is probably where I’ve always gone wrong.) I had some lovely gifts and cards. We had lunch out and a take out for dinner and I didn’t have to do the washing up. It was a good day, and so what if I’m a year older, it happens to everyone.

So, my word is old but I still feel young, so it’s not a bad word. And everytime I tell someone my age and they look shocked and reply “I didn’t realise you were that old” I will take it as a compliment (whether they mean it or not!)

By the way, on my birthday the Little Man decided that I was 35, so if you don’t mind, that’s how old I will be for now.

The Reading Residence

Last week we went to visit the new Smiggle Shop which has opened in the Bullring Birmingham.

I’m a big lover of stationary and I think Boo is too, she often goes to bed scribbling away in a notebook.

Smiggle is a children’s stationary shop which originated in Australia. They have just started opening shops in the UK and plan to have 200 stores by next year. Smiggle is all about inspiring their customers creativity with fun, colourful and original stationary. Their shops are full of sensory excitement and the staff passionate and friendly.

The first thing that struck me was the lovely arrangement inside the stall. I will admit that I am more than a tad obsessive compulsive and I was delighted with the order of the shop, it was very pleasing.

Now that’s what I call colour co-ordination.

The products are bright and fun and there is something to suit all tastes, including grown-ups. I loved that they had some fabulous boys products too. I was told that the stock is changed regularly so their is always something new to see.

Not only are you taken in by the beautiful colours there are also many textures to enjoy and even smells.

When I mentioned that I’d visited the shop on my social media a couple of my friends said they had thought the shop was nice, but over priced. As a fan of stationary I know that you can buy cheaper stationary on the high street, but there is not as much to choose from and it’s not as nice. There are also a couple of shops I like to browse where I don’t buy anything because I cannot justify paying so much..those are the expensive shops. I believe that  Smiggle lies in between. In fact I found them pretty good value. I bought gifts for four of my children that worked out less than £10 each and they were all really happy. I’m sure they would make great Christmas stocking fillers.
One daughter had a konnichiwa pencil case and some scented macaroon erasers which she loved, another had a light up snap band and my son loved his stencil book and spy pen.
Boo, my stationary loving little girl had asked me to get her a new notebook. Well, as she loves to take a notebook to bed I was thrilled to find a furry notebook. I chose a blue bunny one (blue is her favourite colour) and also bought her a new multi-coloured pen. Now she can fall asleep cuddling her furry bunny once she’s finished her writing. She absolutely loves it.

I’m sure we will be popping in to Smiggle every time we visit the Bullring. There are so many things I saw that I’d like to buy. I’m also looking forward to opening my Smiggle Advent Calender with a little piece of stationary behind every door.

You can shop at Smiggle online, but I’d thoroughly recommend a trip to one of their shops as it really is a lovely experience. Check the website for a shop near you. I’m lucky as I currently live in the middle of two of them.

The Reading Residence

Disclaimer: I was invited to the Smiggle shop opening and received a goody bag. I was not asked specifically to write anything about them and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Christmas is exactly a month away today. I can’t help feeling excited this year. I still have all my family at home and my littlies are still small enough to believe in the magic of Father Christmas. It’s been six years now since my mum passed away on Christmas Day, I will still be sad about that and I will still remember her as I do every year with flowers and candles, but this is the first time I feel calm about the whole period. So let the festivities begin.

So what are we going to be doing around Birmingham this Christmas? First up it will be some ice skating at the rink on Centenary Square. It opened on November 15th and will be there until January 4th. We plan to go this weekend. Unfortunately Star won’t be able to skate but there will be fun things for her to do around the German Christmas Markets.

We go to the German Christmas Market every year, often several times and they never fail to get us into the Christmas Spirit. If you search you can even find stalls making hand crafted goods rather than the commercialised ones found on most stalls.
I never leave without my Schokokuss or chocolate kisses…yum yum

We’ve not yet taken the littlies to a pantomine yet but we do like to visit the theatre at Christmas time and this year we are going to see The Tiger Who Came to Tea at Birmingham Town Hall. Based on the book by Judith Kerr, the stageshow runs from 23rd December until 14th January with a relaxed performance on 11th January for those with learning difficulties or sensory disorders.

I’ll be writing up my review after we’ve been.

Also at the Town Hall, if you are around with your little ones on Wednesday 17th December there is a free Musical Picnic hosted by jazz singer Sarah Colman. It sounds great and I’ll definitely be looking to visit more musical picnics in the new year.

I’m taking the girls for their first concert at Birmingham Symphony Hall on December 20th when we go to see Christmas Classics. I’m sure they will enjoy it, they will be taken away by the music. I’m also looking forward to seeing the marvellous Brian Blessed. Symphony Hall has lots on to celebrate Christmas for all tastes and ages. You can find complete listings on their website and there are many shows with half price tickets for children here.

If you do fancy a Pantomine then Jack and the Beanstalk is on at the Birmingham Hippodrome from
19th December to 1st February, with celebrities Jane McDonald and Duncan James taking lead roles.

Have a Merry Christmas Everyone x

Welcome to this weeks Kids in the Kitchen.
This week we made Strawberry Shortcake Biscuits, with a traditional cream and strawberry filling for the grown ups and a strawberry icing for the littlies.

Last week we were joined by the talented Miss T who made the most delicious looking Southern Mud Pie with Eric Lanlard’s recipe. Thank you for joining in Miss T and I’m glad you are feeling better.
 You can find a collection of all posts shared with Kids in the Kitchen on our Pinterest Board, it’s great for inspiration.

Strawberry Shortcake Biscuits.

There are many recipes for strawberry shortcake to be found, I made something similar before but it was more cake like. This recipe is more biscuit like, but the biscuits are very soft and buttery. Sometimes it’s a fine line between biscuit and cake. I really wanted to do the strawberry shortcake with a thick whipped cream and strawberry filling….but the kids had other ideas and wanted strawberry flavoured icing on theirs. So we made both.


185g of caster sugar
185g unsalted butter
1 happy egg
275g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
for toppings: whipped cream and strawberries
and strawberry flavoured icing made with icing sugar, strawberry flavouring and a little water.
sprinkles optional.


Today’s helper was Boo although all the littlies had a go at decorating their own biscuits with icing and sprinkles.
First Boo mixed the sugar and butter until smooth. We always use a wooden spoon, although we have a mixer, we just enjoy it more.
Then Boo added the egg. She’s getting really good at cracking eggs and getting the whole lot in the mixture minus it’s shell.
Then she sifted the flour and baking powder and folded them into the wet mixture.
We then rolled the dough into cling film and put it in the fridge.
We left it for about an hour and then took it out and rolled it gently.
We cut out round biscuit shapes with a cutter. They were quite large and we only made 12 biscuits from the mixture.
We left big spaces in between the biscuits on the greased baking trays and cooked them for 10 minutes at 180C or gas mark 4.
The littlies then decorated their biscuits while I filled the grown ups biscuits.

So now it’s over to you, get in the kitchen with your kids and come and share what you’ve cooked,

I’d also be mighty grateful if you included my badge in your post so others can see it and come along and join in. (although adding the badge is not compulsory to joining in)