5 years blogging and a look back on 2016

I can’t believe it was this time 5 years ago that I set up Morgan’s Milieu, back then it had a different name and a different purpose. It all started because I wanted to be a writer, I’d started writing a novel and had read that I needed a blog too so that I could get my name out there. My very first post went live on 30th December 2011 and it seems so long ago now.

The early years of blogging were okay, I blogged about once per month, if that, and it wasn’t regular at all. I had no purpose that I could think of and ended up writing rambling posts about nothing most of the time. 

  • Finding success is all about taking action. You can read all you want, but nothing will happen until you execute.

Pat Flynn

Then I stumbled onto parenting blogs and suddenly I knew where I belonged.

What's on your Christmas soundtrack?

This time of year you spend a lot of time in the car, travelling to see family, playing Santa and delivering presents, so you need a great list of music to listen to while you're on the road. Over the years I've gathered a few favourites I like to listen to during the festive period and below you'll find 10 (of the many) that are on my list. What's on your Christmas soundtrack?




  • If music be the food of love, play on

William Shakespeare



One of my favourite singers is Michael Bublé, I've got a few (okay, a lot) of his albums and I love "Christmas". You'll notice that I've picked a few from this album because to me, listening to Michael Bublé sing Christmas songs is wonderful.



Post Comment Love 16th - 18th December

It's the last Post Comment Love of the year! Stephanie and I have had a wonderful year hosting Post Comment Love and reading your brilliant posts has made us laugh, made us cry, and entertained us. We are both looking forward to a break but will be back in the New Year to read more of your great posts.

It's so busy this time of year it's easy to get behind on things, which is exactly what I've done lately. I'm catching up on my #pocolo reading and commenting but I'll get there. I'm hoping to catch up properly over the break. 

Like I said, this week is the last Post Comment Love of the year, closing on Sunday at 11pm, but we'll be back on 6th January to host the first #pocolo of 2017. 

Read stories to your children this Christmas

Reading to my sons has been one of the biggest joys of being a mum. Whether it was watching them fall asleep as I read The Sleep Book by Dr. Seuss or listening to their questions about the stories it's always been the best part of my day. As they got older their interest in hearing me read to them has almost disappeared, BP (now 12 years old) never wants me to read to him, and LP (7 years old) enjoys reading by himself but will, occasionally, want me to read to him.


  • There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island.

Walt Disney





Post Comment Love 9th - 11th December

It's time for Post Comment Love again and I'm back for another week of reading and commenting on your brilliant blog posts. We're almost at the end of the year, Christmas is just around the corner and everyone is ready for a break. I can't wait for a break myself and am looking forward to catching up on reading.

I've been slowly getting over the flu this week, I've still got a cough but am feeling better. My head is clearer and I'm able to get stuff done, or at least try anyway! 

Has Christmas crept up on you? It has me, I realised yesterday that there's just 16 days until Christmas Day and I haven't started buying any presents for my family. To say I'm in a bit of a panic is an understatement. Not only have I got to get organised for hosting Christmas Lunch but I've got to do a lot of shopping too. I have no idea when I'll get it all done, more organisation is required. I'm going to have to have a schedule. 

Inspiring our children to read with Penguin Random House Children's

Whether you're a big reader or not it's hard to argue with the fact that getting your children to read classic children's books (or you reading to them) is a good thing. Stories like Treasure Island, Oliver Twist, and Black Beauty inspire a generation of readers and (hopefully) writers. I have loved reading since I was a child and the Hubby gets through at least one book per month. The types of books don't particularly matter either, I love anything from romance to science fiction and the Hubby loves non-fiction as much as he loves fiction. As reading parents we're hoping we can inspire our children to enjoy reading as much as we do. 
diary of a young girl by anne frank, Clover Moon by Jacqueline Wilson, Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher, and The Witches Vacuum Cleaner by Terry Pratchett



Books we loved as children


Me


A couple of favourites that come to mind are Black Beauty and The Diary of a Young Girl. My nan gave a copy of Black Beauty when I was around 10 years old, it was a gorgeous deep red hardback cover with no pictures. I remember it being very small and the text was tiny. I started reading Black Beauty one Christmas when we were staying with my Nan and I fell in love with the story. Written from the perspective of the horse I found it intriguing and I truly empathised with the horse. The descriptions of having a bit shoved into its mouth and how it felt to have someone climb on its back moved me. While I lost the book (boohoo!) many years ago the story will always be one I'll remember.

Maintain your immune system with Redoxon multivitamins

I'm just recovering from the flu and although I still have an awful cough I am feeling a lot better. For about a week I was sneezing, coughing, couldn't breathe, and my whole body ached. But of course I'm a mum and I have to continue regardless of how terrible I'm feeling. Thanks to Redoxon multivitamins I've been able to help my immune system and this time the illness hasn't lasted as long as it usually would.


When I was a little girl I remember hating autumn and winter because I knew I'd be ill most of the time. If there was a bug going around in school I would get it and suffer for more than a week. I don't ever remember having a 24 hour bug, they always lasted longer. My body could never cope with the colder weather and went into shutdown mode. 

My immune system is not the best, I'm the kind of person that catches everything. The winter months are the worst with colds and flu around and I tend to get prepared beforehand by stocking up on lots of lemsip and cold capsules.

Post Comment Love 2nd - 4th December

Welcome to Post Comment Love, the linky Steph and I have been running for almost a year now. Link up a post written this week and we'll show it the love it deserves. We love seeing newbies link up and are so pleased that you decide to come back every week, our little community has grown over the year and it's so nice to see familiar names and new ones too. 

This week I'm feeling sorry for myself, I've been hit with a flu bug or a cold of some sort. I've got a foggy head, the sniffles, I'm sneezing constantly and feel like my arms weigh a ton! I'm doing my best to fight it, filling up with Lemsip and pills and carrying on like all good mums do. It's so tough to keep thoughts in your head when you feel this way, one minute you're concentrating on what you're doing and the next you're overcome with sneezes and forget what you were doing. 

Planning Christmas lunch for a large party

Last year I invited family to our house for Christmas Lunch and on Christmas day 15 people arrived expecting to be fed and watered throughout the day. Right now our family is going through something (I'm not ready to write about it just yet) and it's important to get the entire family together to enjoy these special times. Again, I have invited our family for Christmas Lunch and this year I'm expecting 18 people which means it's going to take some planning. If, like me, you're expecting a large party for Christmas Lunch I've got a few tips for you.



Time for food

Once everyone has been invited you need to settle on a time for serving the food and for Christmas Lunch it tends to be later than usual. We'll be serving (as long as everything goes to plan) at around 3pm, and will expect everyone to have arrived before then. When you know what time you want to be serving your meal you can let your family and friends know when to arrive.



Have a seat

Tables and chairs are an important part of hosting Christmas lunch (duh!) and if you're inviting lots of people you'll need to make sure you have enough space for everyone to sit and eat. Plan where everyone will sit, how you will arrange your seating area, and count how many seats you'll need.



Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.
Washington Irving.



We have a large lounge with a dining table we can extend but even with that I'll need an extra table and lots of extra chairs. I'm lucky we still have an old table in the garage that I can pull out. 



Decor


It's Christmas and you've invited people over for lunch. They will expect the table, and your house, to be decorated.


Table


Decide on a theme, it could be colours, or style, but make sure anything you select fits into your theme. These days there are so many places you can find beautiful decorations for your table, I saw some lovely table runners in Tesco that I'm going to buy, as well as the place settings. I want to go all-out this year and am even planning some candles for the table, if I can find the right sort.


gold Christmas table decorations


I've loved this table runner ever since I spied it in Tesco.

And this candle holder from John Lewis would look perfect in the middle of the table.

Plates and cutlery is another thing to think about, do you have enough? Will you need to purchase more plates or a whole set? Will you need extra wine glasses? Consider every aspect of your table.


House


I would've thought that by the time Christmas Day comes around your house will already be decorated but on the off chance it isn't you might want to consider adding a touch of Christmas to your home. Putting a Christmas Wreath on your front door is a lovely welcome to guests, and some jolly wall hangings will make them smile. I recently went to The Range in Derby and picked up a few extra pieces for our house, I can't wait to get them up!



The lunch


Planning on feeding 18 people all at the same time is challenging but it is possible. I have catered for large parties at Christmas more than a handful of times now and I'm fairly confident I've got it down (famous last words!) but I always stick to a plan. 

I use Google spreadsheets to plan out my meal and I start with the turkey. Before the big day I work out what time everything needs to go in the oven or on the hob. I write the times in my spreadsheet and organise them so I know when my potatoes go in the oven in relation to when the turkey is cooked. It sounds complicated but having a timetable makes the whole cooking process much easier.

cooked christmas turkey on a bed of sprouts


I've only done one Christmas lunch where I didn't have a timetable, and that's when my turkey (it was totally the turkey's fault) decided to not cook in time!

Timetables are a huge help, I cannot stress enough how easier your life will be if you have a timetable.



Drinks

This is really more of a personal choice, you could serve wine or soft drinks and that is up to you. We serve a sweet wine, it's one we've had many times before and know everyone likes. For those that don't like wine, or don't want to (or can't) drink alcohol we serve soft drinks and that can be anything from Coca-Cola to J2O.



Dessert

Having spent the majority of the morning in the kitchen I don't want to have to spend more hours in there preparing a fancy dessert. At the same time though I want to prepare a dessert that will wow everyone. Finding a great dessert that is easy to prepare and looks amazing is a difficult task but you can do it.


Frozen soufflé with raspberries and blueberries and a berry coulis.


Individual desserts that can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the fridge until you're ready are perfect. Last year I made frozen soufflé with raspberry and blueberry coulis (picture above) and it went down a treat. It looked great and tasted good too, everyone loved them. This year I'm going to attempt something a little different; cheesecake. They'll still be individual ones and I haven't quite decided on what type but I have a fair idea of what I want it to look like, so it's a start.



Fun Times

Once the meal is over and everyone moves away from the table you'll need to have some entertainment ready. It could be a board game, a Christmas movie, or even a quiz game you could play on the TV like Best Guess. Team up and guess at the answers, it's bound to be an entertaining afternoon.

For those who don't want to play Best Guess there's always Top Trumps, or Monopoly!



Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won't make it 'white'.
Bing Crosby



The best tip I can offer is to enjoy it. Yes, it's going to be stressful and you'll be run off your feet but once it's all done and you can sit down you'll realise just how much you enjoyed it.



I have teamed up with a group of fellow bloggers who also wanted to share their tips and memories for the Christmas season.





Stephanie at Life at 139a has some some Christmas crafts, find out how (and why) to bleach pine cones, how to make a Christmas wreath and inspiration for some gorgeous gift tags.







Catherine at Growing Family is sharing her tips for bringing the outside indoors this Christmas. Find out how to make easy pine cone tree decorations, how to use Spring flowering bulbs to create lovely homemade gifts, and how to choose the perfect real Christmas tree.







Jingle Bells, Christmas smells - it really does. Nicky at Not Just The 3 of Us is talking about the memories that Christmas decorations evoke.







Jane at Maflingo has great ideas for festive treats to make with the kids this Christmas. Find out how to make Santa Fruit Skewers and Festive Chocolate Pretzels.







Jocelyn at The Reading Residence is sharing some fun and easy Christmas crafts for children. Find out how to create a Christmas centrepiece, a festive arty keepsake and make kids placemats.







Kirsty from Hijacked By Twins is planning every meal including how to use up those precious leftovers. Find out how to make a delicious toppings for the perfect leftover Christmas dinner soup. This recipe will make you want to cook extra just for the leftovers.






Caro from The Twinkle Diaries shares a simple idea for creating edible Christmas tree decorations







If you're anywhere near the UK capital this Winter, Nell from the Pigeon Pair and Me tells you how to enjoy the festive fun of London - for free. She also gives her top picks of Winter family shows, and explains why Christmas with kids is a magical time of the year.



Are you planning Christmas Lunch for a large party?
What are your top tips?