Some might say

it matters which potato you use for the perfect roastie. Maybe but any old spud will work fine. I used a whole 20p worth of white potatoes from Aldi for this lot.

The trick is to keep the potatoes to a good size and parboil them until just slightly soft before roughing up the edges by shaking them in a lidded saucepan and freezing (as flat as possible and no touching)

Don’t try to freeze them raw, the texture changes and you will not get a crispy edge. You just won’t. I am not sure what freezing actually does to the starch in the potato (too much science) but I do know that they taste nicer and get crispier.

On the day you want to cook them

pop the frozen potatoes onto a tray and add a bulbs worth of garlic cloves. This is optional but I adore garlic and so that’s what I do. Season with lots of salt and pepper and either spray with oil for a low fat Slimming World friendly dish or if you are not watching your weight use goose fat in the pan and add the potatoes and garlic once hot!

I cook my roast potatoes for 1 hour (the beauty of parboiling) and serve while they are piping hot with lots of gravy!

I was tagged by Emma over @sophieellaandme to answer some Christmas related questions for ‘The Christmas Tag’, and here they are…

What’s your favourite Christmas movie?
I love Elf but I will always have a special place in my heart for the cheesefest that is Santa Clause: The Movie

Have you ever had a white Christmas?
Yes, the year I was born!

Where do you usually spend your holiday?
At home! In my Pjs!

What is your favourite Christmas song?
Favourite Christmas song is The Pogues Fairytale of New York and favourite carol is In The Bleak Midwinter.

Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?
No!

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Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph!

Which holiday traditions are you looking forward to this year?
We like to get all of our children (13 ish) together to exchange gifts and generally give the grown ups a headache.

Is your Christmas tree real or fake?
Fake. Its a corner space saving tree bought for a few pounds in the sales 10 years ago but I love it

What is your all time favourite holiday treat/food/sweet?
Ferrero Rocher, bucks fizz, sprouts, pigs. in. blankets.

Be honest, do you like giving or receiving gifts better?
Giving. I just really love choosing gifts for people I love.

What is the best Christmas present you ever received?
Possibly the hifi/cd player I received when I was a child. I don’t remember my age but the freedom found in access to music resonates with me.

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What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
I imagine that New York would be amazing to be at Christmas and New Years. I would love to be in Adelaide to experience an Aussie Christmas with family though.

Are you a pro present wrapper or do you fail miserably?
I am kind of a big deal when it comes to wrapping.

Most memorable Christmas moment?
My first Christmas with my own little family in our own little house. We didn’t have a lot but it was perfect.

What made you realise the truth about Santa?
I don’t really remember when I learned the truth. The magic hasn’t ever ended though – it just shifted a little bit.

What makes the holidays special for you?
My family. Without good people around the tree, it doesn’t matter what’s under it. I do really love presents though (just in case Mr G is reading this)

That’s my contribution to the Christmas Tag, hope you enjoyed it! I would like to tag Little B and MeThe Mum Diaries and Mum Times Two

…and why I could never judge those who don’t.

I read an article the other day about a lady who last year bought so many Christmas gifts for her family that when they were piled up in her lounge her tree was barely visible. Cue many nasty comments of course and the odd nod of agreement from those who could see the festive season from her perspective.

I wouldn’t presume to know what makes this lady tick. Perhaps she is trying to compensate because of something else that happened that year or 10 years ago. Maybe she just really likes treating her kids and works hard to. It’s possible that the newspaper contributed a fair percentage of the money spent on those gifts in exchange for her popping her story out there and laying herself open to all of this judgement from people who really ought to know better. Maybe. I don’t know. It’s not really my business.

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Christmas Past

It did make me think about my own version of Christmas though. Of what (if I stop and think about it) the most vivid memories are of the childhood Christmases I shared with my parents and 4 siblings.

I can’t really remember very much about Christmas before my siblings arrived. My Mum was diagnosed with my brother when I was just 4 years old. By the time I was 9 years old there were 7 of us living in our 3 bedroom house. Quiet Christmas was never an option. Noisy, full and fun. That was us.

We didn’t have a lot of money when I was a child but there were certain things that happened every year

We would always go to see Santa. We’d always have an interesting and hilarious buffet at our grandparents house. We would always (ish) be good on Christmas eve lest we were made to stay up! and we would always wake up to a full stocking at the end of our bed. There would always be a lot of gifts waiting for us in our living room. I mean a LOT.

The gifts would be sorted into a pile for each of us. We would all come into the room together and excitedly find our designated spot. Dad would grab the video camera, someone would get the Christmas music playing and Mum would have a piece of paper and a pen at the ready and then the organised chaos would begin!

As far as I recall we would take it in turns to open our gifts yelling out who they were from and what they were so that a list could be made for easy reference when “thank you card time” came.

In no time at all those presents would be opened and the living room floor would become a sea of colourful wrapping paper with all of us too enraptured by our new toys to care.

Of course we took everything for granted – as was our right as children.

But aside from a few exceptions, we really don’t remember what was beneath the wrapping paper. It’s not that we were entitled brats. Not at all. We just remember other things. When I asked my siblings what they could remember they listed

  1. Big piles of presents
  2. The dolls house my Dad upcycled for my sisters.
  3. The year we woke our parents (and possibly the street) up at 3am
  4. The following year when we slept in – but were woken up by our Aunt and Uncle who arrived at 7am expecting us all to have been up for hours. We found it hilarious. Our parents, not so much
  5. The dining table looking beautifully dressed because Mum did it before they went to bed on Christmas eve.
  6. Christmas dinner. Always tasty. Always massive.
  7. Excitement and happiness

My memories of Christmas are fond ones. I know my parents made that happen and I cannot imagine how difficult that must have been some years. I’m very grateful to them both for those memories – they laid the foundations for the type of Christmas I wanted for my children.

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Christmas Present(s)

Now that all 5 of us have families of our own, when we come together to exchange Christmas gifts it can be crazy. I love it. Between us we have 14 children now. When our lives allow we rarely are able to be in the same room but I know that even if not all of us are physically there, we are all thinking some of the same thoughts and remembering the same moments.

We enjoy some wonderful moments. We visit our Grandfather and if we can we take some food to try and recreate some of those buffet recollections of our youth – we will never come close. A vital ingredient is missing and she can never be replaced. Nonetheless, we all have a lovely time.

The house that we visited adorned with lights as children is long gone but we have found a new place now and our children love standing in awe.. together.

There is just one thing I am beginning to have second thoughts about

. The big piles of presents. Or more pointedly the pressure to provide the excitement that I felt as a child of walking into a room full of gifts.

I know that the guilt I feel at the same time every year a couple of weeks before Christmas is not logical. We don’t have the money or the space for hundreds of toys, our children are in no way expecting to received a huge number of gifts. So why should I feel like I need them? I do. I want to indulge them and every year I panic that I haven’t done enough, that they won’t love their gifts. That they will feel disappointed. Disappointed with Christmas or disappointed with me. I am not sure which. Maybe it’s both? Or maybe it’s bollocks.

This year I am doing things differently. Sorry kids, I am swallowing that guilt down with a large snowball and I am refusing to play the game.

A thought occurred to me while Christmas shopping with my Mum. I was talking to her about how worried I was about my daughter liking her gifts and I had this vision of Christmas future

What Comes Next?

I had a picture in mind of myself and my daughter in years to come, having the exact same conversation. Of her worrying about the number of gifts under the tree. Not feeling as though she was good enough. Or hadn’t tried enough for her children. Knowing that it was ridiculous but feeling that pressure anyway.  I don’t want that for my children. Or for hers.

There is only one way as I see it that can change. There are amazing things that I take from my childhood christmases and feel like I should make a point of saying that my Mum and Dad did not raise us to be materialistic at all. This is not about them. I need to stop. I have to offload that guilt and replace it with something else and I need to remember that we already have everything we will ever need to make those memories our children will hold onto for many Christmases to come.

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Hands up who else knows nothing about perfume..

One of my favourite parts of Christmas is looking for that perfect gift. Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to my first event as a blogger along with my sister blogger, Jaymee from The Mum Diaries.

It was at The Perfume Shop in the Queensgate shopping centre in our fair city of Peterborough with a handful of other local bloggers and we were to learn of the delights of Christmas gifting.. Scent style!

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The Perfume Shop mission statement is ‘To share our genuine passion for perfume & people and offer the most knowledgeable fragrance expertise on the high street.’ and they certainly did!

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It’s All About The App

The Perfume Shop was founded in 1992 and is now the UK’s largest specialist fragrance retailer with over 260 stores nationwide. They are in fact the only fragrance store which uses the Michael Edwards app. I hadn’t heard of this app before but it is fantastic if (like me) you are clueless when it comes to buying fragrance. You can search by ingredient, fragrance family or (and this is my personal favourite) you can find out your gift recipients current perfume of choice and the app can tell you what else they are likely to love!

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Finding A Gift

The best value way to buy fragrance is most definitely as a gift set and The Perfume Shop has one for every budget and every age group.

Their gift sets for children are very sweet and some are hypoallergenic making them a great choice for sensitive skin and most are under £10.

There is something for everyone from the celebrity and sporty perfumes aimed at the young ones to Gucci bamboo (which, if my Husband is reading this is the one he should buy) as well as all of the other big names you would expect.

The Perfume Shop are supporters of Alzheimer’s Research UK and as well as 50p from each gift box purchase they also donate the 5p carrier bag charge to them. Look out instore for the promotional Look Good Feel Better products which help raise money for their work providing practical solutions to ladies dealing with the visible effects of Cancer. On top of this they also offer a military discount. The season of giving indeed!

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As well as fragrance gift sets The Perfume Shop also offers a W7 advent calendar stuffed with goodies which at the time of typing this is on offer at £12.99 – that makes the cosmetics 50p each! Also on offer are several make up palettes and some Ghost baubles priced at £8 each which contain a mini bottle of perfume as well as a little treat (this varies) and would be very welcome in my stocking!
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Click It, Collect It, Tick It Off Your List

There are hundreds of possibilities at The Perfume Shop and all eligible for free gift wrapping and a free click and collect service! If the gift you want to buy is not in stock they can order it in at no extra cost and have it wrapped and waiting for you…. Seriously, how easy is Christmas shopping these days?! Embrace it!

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