Birthday Traditions

Birthday Traditions

While (slowly) making my way through the 30 Day Writing Challenge set by @MyTalesFromTheCrib (on Instagram) I came across this writing theme and it really stuck out for me. Birthday traditions are my favourite traditions. As early as I can remember, I have always cherished birthdays. My mum used to go out of her way to make birthdays an extraordinary event for us. This in itself is a tradition that has carried on with my own children.

I have always tried my hardest to make birthdays in our house unique celebrations. Like everything else in our orbit, they are often done on a budget. This is, however, in no way a suggestion that they are anything less than magical. My superpower is, of course, to make a lot from a little.

Next week, I have not one but two birthdays. The Little Fairy is set to turn 9 on the 13th of April and The Master of Mischief turns 5 on the 14th of April. A timetable even I never saw coming. Some call it bad planning; others call it convenient. I know that I had serious doubts about my time management in April 2016. I spent the day before birthing a 9lb baby waddling through a children’s indoor ball pool and activity centre. It wasn’t the most fun I’d ever had. Managing two birthdays in two days has never been easy. Over the years however, I have mastered it to a fine art.

In this post, I share a few of the birthday traditions practised in our family home.

Birthday Pancakes

Birthday pancakes have been a tradition in our house since my eldest child’s first birthday after weaning.

The birthday person wakes up to balloons, presents, and PANCAKES!

We pile them high with fruit, chocolate chips, whipped cream, and sprinkles. We top them off with a candle and gather around the breakfast table to belt out an uneven pitchy chorus of Happy Birthday. This is the ceremonious and somewhat sickly start to birthday shenanigans.

Funny Cards

This is one of my favourite traditions. It started after I met my husband. Most couples share sentimental and meaningful cards with one another on special occasions. Not us. My husband (in all his childishness and immaturity) goes out of his way to find the funniest and often most inappropriate card he can. The results are never disappointing. It provides a good laugh and has become a competition between us to see who can find the daftest card. Even the kids have joined in with this. Their card choices are getting funnier each year. Birthday cards with poo, boobs, funny animals or inappropriate jokes are the best kinds.

A Homemade Cake

This is a tradition that started when I had children. This was because as a young single mother, I struggled to afford fancy shop-bought cakes. Instead, I would make them myself.

As the kids got older, my skills improved, and I found that I was actually quite good. Ten years in, and I am still making birthday cakes every year. What started as something for my children has spread to friends and family too. The kids will always pick a theme, and we design the cake together. It’s a fun activity as well as something unique for them to remember.  

Whether you make something elaborate or a basic sponge, a homemade cake is so much nicer because it’s made with a little extra love.

These are just a few traditions that we practice for birthdays. Do you do anything differently? Have you changed any of your customs due to the lockdowns?

I have seen some lovely ideas from families who have had to spend birthdays apart, from letter writing to pre-recorded video messages.

I hope everyone is staying safe and enjoying their birthdays regardless of lockdown. While it has been hard celebrating with limited visitors both last year and now. We have all undoubtedly had at least one birthday in lockdown. I think it is lovely how people have adapted and overcome these difficult times.

Hopefully, we can all be back to celebrating with friends and family again soon.

Until next time…

Hannah XO

Christmas Cinnamon Biscuits

Christmas Cinnamon Biscuits

These biscuits are great for baking at Christmastime. They are cheap to make, extremely easy to do and make your house smell wonderful.

You Will Need

200g Margarine

150g Caster sugar

400g Plain flour

2 egg yolks

2 tsp cinnamon

For decorating:

Green fondant icing

Red fondant icing

1 tbsp icing sugar

Water

Writing icing (optional)

Method

Mix together the margarine and the caster sugar until light and fluffy. Rub in the flour until you have ‘breadcrumb’ texture.

Lightly whisk the eggs with the cinnamon and add to the dry mixture. Mix together until you have a dough (the dough with be slightly sticky at first – mine always is).

Tip the dough onto a floured surface and lightly knead. Roll the dough out to 5mm thickness.

Cut out whatever shapes you wish to use. We chose gingerbread men, Christmas trees and hearts. Place them onto a baking tray lined with parchment or baking paper.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at gas mark 4/180c/160 fan for 10-15 minutes or until pale golden brown.

Allow to cool.

Once ready for decorating, roll the fondant out and cut out the same shapes as the biscuits. Mix 1 tbsp icing sugar and water together to make a paste. Brush onto the biscuit and place fondant gently on top.

If you wish you can decorate them further with writing icing.

Enjoy!

Other Ideas

For other festive flavours you could replace the cinnamon with ginger, vanilla or nutmeg.  

To jazz up your decorating you could cut strips of different coloured fondant and line them up to make a festive stripe effect, or let the kids loose with writing icing and see what kind of crazy decorations you end up with.

Decorating with a Difference

Decorating with a Difference

It is officially the most magical time of the year if you’re financially secure and don’t have kids.

If, like me, you are not financially secure, have a few kids and more cousins than you can count, then the most wonderful time of the year quickly becomes the most stressful time of year. Throw in a global pandemic, multiple lockdowns, constantly changing tier systems and 3-degree assignment deadlines and you’ll be well on your way to a festive meltdown.

Now, usually, Christmas promptly arrives in our house on December 1st. The tree goes up, along with garlands, wreaths, ornaments, and heirloom style trinkets that are scattered throughout the house. Generally, we have no fewer than three trees, one in the living room, a second in the girl’s room and a third tree is erected outside to show to the world that we love Christmas.

Each one is decorated with love, care, matching colours themes and is organised to be flawlessly symmetrical. The magic of Christmas really comes alive. Meanwhile, I slowly die inside from stress, anxiety, and glitter inhalation.

Not this year!

2020 has been troublesome, to say the least. We’ve had heartbreak, loss, uncertainty and a whole load of other negative happenings and emotions. So, this year, we are doing December a bit differently.

Towards the end of November, I started to make lists for all the things that we would need to do in the Christmas run-up. What there was to buy, the lights that would require checking, the baubles and trinkets that would need pulling out of storage and dusting. While making these lists and becoming more anxious with each new to do, I had a moment.

A fleeting thought that changed my entire outlook.

 Four magical words.

A question really.

‘What’s the fucking point?’

Now, this sounds negative but stay with me.

What is the point? Why does every Christmas have to be like a military operation? Who is it for? The kids don’t care if the tree is symmetrical. My husband hates all the fancy fuss that comes with my stress quest to have the perfect Christmas. Together they don’t care if the family heirloom decorations are out on show or if the colour scheme of the tree matches the living room décor.

So why does this matter? 

Answer. It doesn’t!

And at that moment, as if by some Hallmark Christmas movie-style miracle, I discovered the true meaning of Christmas. That is to spend time with your family; smile, cuddle, spread love, laughter & joy and most importantly, have fun while you’re doing it.

Now obviously, every Christmas we’ve had as a family has been filled with laughter and joy. Please don’t think that I’m discovering the meaning of Christmas for the first time. We are lucky to be part of a large loving family but if I’m honest, at this time of year, I usually feel more stress than joy.

I constantly worry about how perfect everything should be so that everyone has a good time and, in the process, I end up…not having a good time.

After talking all of this out with my husband I decided that this year we were throwing out the ‘rule book’. If 2020 has taught me anything, it is that you should live your life to be happy.

So, I have made some major changes and have had so much fun in the process.

We decided not to bother with an outside tree this year. Why pay to fit and light something that only your neighbours really enjoy. Unless you are going to sit at your front door and look at your outdoor tree every evening, what is the point? Really?

Our living room tree from last year was in much need of replacing. It was a 6ft one that I had purchased in a B&M sale for £12.99 three years prior. It served us well, but our new Christmas spirit warranted a sparkly new Christmas tree. Luckily, we grabbed a bargain at a local Tesco. I managed to get a 7ft artificial tree for £40. While it was a splurge compared it’s £12.99 predecessor, it was well worth it. The quality of the tree is even better than I was expecting, and I know that this will last us for years to come.

With no rule book for decorating, we decided to put onto the tree only things that will make us smile. After the year we have had, it is the least we deserve. I spent as much as I could spare on ‘tack’, and I mean ‘tack’ in the most beautiful sense. I bought only things that I knew would bring a smile and a giggle to the faces of my children.

These included glitter pizza baubles, an alpaca carrying presents, multi-coloured tinsel, Santa, brightly coloured headphones, glittery cupcakes and the initial of each member of our family, to name but a few.

A traditional angel has been replaced by a Dragonball Z Super Saiyan Goku because WHY NOT?
So. Much. Colour. I love it!
Crash Bandicoot villain Neo Cortex has bagged a cheeky place on the tree.

When it came to decorating the tree, the usual stress fest and echos of “don’t put that bauble there, just wait for me to get it straight, just let me do it!” was replaced with nothing but smiles and giggling. It was, without a doubt, the most relaxed and fun ‘tree putting up’ session we’ve ever had. Ever. 

For many people, the strive for perfection at Christmastime brings with it an immense pressure. I hope that this year, people can relax and find some comfort in the changes that we are facing in what has been a truly horrific year. Not all change has to be negative. We can absolutely find joy and pleasure in little moments, adapt and make new traditions.

Now that the kids are finishing school, we are well into the countdown to Christmas. Keep your eye out for fun Christmas recipes and activity ideas coming over the next week.

Until then….Hannah XO

Father’s Day: A Sprinkle of Last Minute Magic

Father’s Day: A Sprinkle of Last Minute Magic

Father’s Day is a day dedicated to celebrating and honouring fatherhood and the paternal bond. Not all people celebrate it. Then there are those who go all out celebrating. Some will go above and beyond, showering their fathers with personalised gifts, fancy breakfast foods, family meals, balloons, you name it. Our family falls somewhere in the middle. I don’t plan an elaborate event. My husband isn’t one for fuss, he’s a pretty chilled out dude who dislikes being the centre of attention. However, he does a lot for our family. He loves, protects, supports, and encourages all of our children. He should be celebrated. That said, I am not the most organised when it comes to planning ahead. I also get so frustrated with the fact that one any other day of the week a pair of socks will cost you £1.50 yet bang ‘World’s Best Dad’ on it and you can instantly charge £5 a pair, it’s ludicrous! So, if like me, you are unorganised and reluctant to spend ridiculous money, fear not, I have you covered. Here I share a list of ideas to work some of that last minute magic and celebrate dad in a budget friendly way!

Baking

There are a range of budget friendly recipes to be found. One that goes down particularly well in our house is Rocky Road! It requires few ingredients and is easy enough that you can get the kids involved. You could serve these as an afternoon treat for Dad or box them up and give them as a gift. Check out the recipe on the link below.

https://budget-mum.com/2020/06/19/rocky-road/

Framed Photo

This is a cheats gift in the sense it costs very little but almost always brings a big smile to the face of the receiver. If you have managed to capture a special moment between father and child(ren) on film, then print it and pop it in a frame. Many supermarkets now have photo printing equipment and a single picture is pretty cheap to print. You can pick up frames in a range of sizes from places like Poundland, Home Bargains or B&M. If you don’t have a photo of your children with their dad, simply frame a photo of the child(ren). This is also a good gift for the Grandads (if you like to celebrate those guys too!)

Gift Vouchers (Homemade)

These are an awesome gift for dads. Great for if you have older children. You can create vouchers for all kinds of things. Here are some examples:

  • Washing up: Get dad out of chores for a night and get the kids to wash up the dinner pots.
  • Weeding: One job my husband hates but always gets tricked into doing is weeding our garden. If your kids are old enough, get them pulling up the weeds and give dad a free pass.
  • Dad’s choice on the TV: Rightly or wrongly our children predominantly rule the TV at points of the day. Give dad a voucher that gives him total control over what is on the box for the day. (I’m sure it’ll come in handy if there are sports to watch)
  • Kids go to bed early: This is a good one for both parents, it’s a voucher promising that the kids will go to bed earlier, giving you some extra adult time.
  • Uninterrupted gaming time: If dad is a gamer then this will go down a storm. My husband is an avid Playstation player, although he is usually interrupted by our children either asking for a go or just generally disrupting what he is doing. I know that uninterrupted gaming time means the world to him and costs me nothing!
  • Extra sleep time: What parent doesn’t want an extra hour or two in bed! This one is always a winner!
  • Family game night: This is a great voucher for families who are usually so busy they can’t find time to spend all together. This voucher means you make the time. Bring out a board game or sit and do some quiz questions. Time together as a family is always well spent!

Breakfast in Bed

This is always a hit. The is nothing nicer than an extra hour in bed and waking up to a tray of coffee (or tea) and a plate of food. Whatever breakfast you make your dad, serving it to him in bed makes it 100 times better! One of the best twists on a traditional bacon sandwich is a bacon naan. My husband loves them. It was something we discovered on a weekend away for our first wedding anniversary. I recreated it at home for his birthday and it worked really well. It’s now my go to breakfast treat for him. Check it out here.

https://budget-mum.com/2020/06/19/bacon-naan/

Homemade Cards

Nothing says Father’s Day better than a home made card. It’s usually something that children will make in school. Just because it’s lockdown, doesn’t mean the tradition can’t continue. Grab some pens, crayons and some paper and let your little ones creativity come alive. For the older ones, you could even have them write a poem or a special note to stick inside.

Homemade Keyrings and Magnets

I recently found excellent offers on Amazon for ‘make your own’ keyring and magnet craft packs. The keyring pack included 8 keyring frames and 16 pieces of pre-cut paper that inserts into the frames. I had my children design and create their own

Dad Bag

If you want to splash out a bit, try filling a gift bag full of dad’s favourite food and drinks. You could buy him his favourite crisps, sweets, pop, and chocolate. If you have a few extra pounds to spend, you could even buy him a DVD or a book to enjoy with all of his treats. Just make sure it’s for dad only.

All About My Daddy

This is a great activity to do with younger children. You can write out a series of questions about Daddy and write down their answers exactly as they say them. The results are often hilarious. This is also something that you could do every year. Make sure you keep your answers and add them into a folder for Dad to read over as the years go by and see how much the answers change.