Thursday, 2 October 2014

Mummy Misfit Entertains

Regular followers of mine will know that I've been toying with the idea of a Mummy Misfit spin-off and, thanks to your hugely positive responses, I've decided to go ahead with 'Mummy Misfit Entertains' - parties for paupers.

Remember the Pippa Middleton book 'Celebrate' that hit the shelves last year and bombed?  Well it won't be like that!  Partly because I won't be fortunate enough to be lured by a £400,000 advance (oh, just let me dream for a moment!) but also because it won't filled with useless drivel about entertaining that, for the ordinary person on the street living through a recession and counting the pennies, isn't worth the paper it's written on.

Is it any wonder the book was a flop and the deal ended when Pippa decided to educate the masses with these words of wisdom?

• 'Because of their size, turkeys are perfect for feeding larger gatherings'
As my dear friend Fenella would say, 'No sh*t, Sherlock!'
So what do you think, Pippa?  Should we maybe have one at Christmas?  Oh, where would we be without you!

• 'For parties, wrap a small gift. Sit everyone in a circle and ask them to pass the parcel ...' 
Is there a name for this hugely original game? And would it be good to play with small children maybe?

• 'Store cupboards, drawers or boxes should be packed full of useful odds and ends.'
Ah, so that's what all the c*ap is!  It's good to know that the upper classes have drawers of string, fug, cracker innards and broken combs too.

From what I know of this book, I'm surprised she didn't include a few helpful tips along the lines of:

Remember to stock up on toilet tissue.  No one likes to resort to using The Tatler in an emergency - it leaves nasty print all over your 'oh so pert' little bottom.

If you run out of champers, be prepared to accept that no one will ever set foot in your house again.

Although the recipe for ice is very simple, the time it takes to set is rather lengthy. Far quicker to 'order in' (see back of book for recipe if you prefer homemade)

For decorations, pretty balloons and party fripperies simply nip to Mummy and Daddy's shop and help yourself.

I'm so sorry if I sound like I'm bitching.  But I am!  This book deal made me (and many other writers) cross.  Penguin only took a chance on her because of who she was related to.  Thankfully, their greed backfired.  Try taking a chance on some little nobodies, us Indies who slog our guts out day in and day out.  What would be so wrong with that?

So, that brings me to my book which won't be losing anyone any money.  I've been entertaining for years - on a budget.  Sometimes the budget has been bigger than others but it's certainly never been massive and I've always received compliments from my guests.

As Fenella always tells me, 'You have a talent for giving good table, good candle and good feeling.'

So watch this space as I begin work on 'Mummy Misfit Entertains'.  Unless I get offered a juicy advance from a canny publisher who's checked out my rather stonkering Amazon rankings, it won't be filled with glossy photos - just handy, practical and fun tips, recipes, themes and games.

Oh ... and it also won't include the recipe for ice either.  You'll have to Google that one for yourselves.

Monday, 22 September 2014

A Mixed Misfit Bag

It's been a busy week in the Misfit house.  The teen turned 19 and my cousin and her hubbie came to visit from Canada so there has been much fun and jollity.  Today saw me returning to the desk to chain myself up until my self-imposed 2K words for the day were written.

Here's a quick update on my week.  Oh, and be warned - it ends with a rant!

FORMULA 1 GO-KARTING

Oh boy!  What can I say?  The teen and Mr Misfit had a blast.  Me?  Well I simply tootled around the track, at an average of 16 miles an hour, like a nervous granny on her way to church. And the heat!  Dressed from head to toe in a rather unfetching BO-infused boiler suit, a beanie and a helmet, I was sweltering.  My only escape was putting myself in the Sin Bin so that I could remove the helmet and cool off.  The teen found himself covered in bruises as he has no flesh on his gangly bones and was thrown around in the kart as he swerved around corners. As each day passes the bruises grow and change.  We tell him it's the birthday gift that keeps giving!


 The teen pulling a daft pose.
Just as well this isn't a scratch and sniff photo!  The suits were ripe!

 His final lap

FAMILY PARTY

It's been 28 years since I last saw my cousin and her husband so it's been wonderful having them here.  They are both huge fans of my books and I was delighted to learn that I, at the grand old age of seven, had been the one to help my cousin's husband 'get' AA Milne.  He said it was the British accent that suddenly made it click for him.  Their lovely daughter is named after me and we keep in touch through Facebook and Twitter.  We were amazed at how many similarities there are between the two of us and also between her and the teen.  Families, can be spooky things!
On Saturday, our family got together at our place and a good time was had by all.

Sharing family memories.
My mum, me and my cousin.
 
THE SQUIRREL

On Friday night Mr Misfit and the teen came back from a late night walk and told me that there was an injured squirrel at the end of our cul de sac.  Being a bit of an animal nut, I headed off to see if he could be saved.  He was right in the middle of the road where he could have been squashed by any passing cars returning home or ripped apart by foxes (or our cats!) so we knew that we had to stay with him.  We managed to give him some Rescue Remedy (a herbal medicine) and for a while it looked like he might be perking up a bit. Sadly though, we suddenly realised that his leg was broken and there didn't seem to be much hopeAfter willing him to live, I found myself willing him to let go and drift off to squirrel Heaven.  We called him Faith as we told him that we had faith in him and that we would stick with him to the bitter end.  Watching him die was horrible.  He threw his little head back in a final spasm of pain and then he passed.  The teen then decided it would be cruel to just throw him in the bushes and insisted on a proper funeral (the second one we'd been to that day!)
A shoe box was duly found and Faith was laid to rest with a gladioli.
Sadly, Faith was dug up again two mornings later and then he disappeared.
This reminds me of the time we buried our goldfish in a Dove soapbox and the teen, then quite young, was concerned that when he got to Heaven God would be confused as the box said 'Dove' and not 'Goldfish'!

THE RANT

I had drinks with 'Fenella' last night and I found out that she'd had a falling out with a Putney mum who had been rather vocal about me and the way I'd dealt with the teen's school phobia.  I was livid!  This was a mother I'd known reasonably well and always got on with.  How dare she pass judgment on me and my life when she knows nothing about what we went through.  As any mother knows, if someone starts to pick holes in your child you become like a protective tigress.
When we went 'public' with the teen's problems, people fell into two camps - those who sympathised or had been through something similar and those who thought they knew everything and that the condition quite simply doesn't exist.  So there's no such thing as depression then?  Is that what I'm hearing?
So, to all you Putney mums who feel you know me oh so well, I hope your boring little lives where you have nothing better to do than discuss me at your dinner parties are never blighted by any mental health issues.  Oh the shame!  Enjoy your perfect children as they grow and head off in to the world and hope that you never have to stand by them in the way I stood by my son.  I, meanwhile, will be the one having the last laugh as I know who each and every one of you are in the Misfit books and my son has grown into a confident young man, doing a job that he loves. And, do me favour, if you do have an opinion, say it to my face so that I can educate you.  But then that would take bravery wouldn't it?

Rant over!  As you were.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

In Celebration of the Teen

The teen will turn 19 on Thursday, so last night saw us enjoying the first of many celebrations.  We got together with his best friend from primary school - before he heads back to Uni tomorrow - his parents and sister, an old family friend and another of the teen's pals from secondary school.

The theme was 'Curry & Games' and, as usual, we had a ball.

We'd just recently been given a John Lewis voucher for our anniversary so we splashed out on new china and cutlery.  I think our black and white themed table looks pretty glam.

Our dining table had to get ditched in the garden as it's not big enough for nine guests.
This is our ping pong table glammed up by a damask cloth my Dad acquired as an antique dealer.


I'm ready to party.
Still hating the new hair.

As the current obsession in the Misfit House is 'Breaking Bad'
we ordered a rice paper cake topper from eBay for his chocolate birthday cake.
The 'cooking' reference comes from the series!

He was pretty impressed.

Once the meal was over we started on the games.  The Misfits are well known for the daftness of our parties and, thankfully, our guests are always willing participants.

We started with 'A word from a Song' - this involved single words on a piece of paper, picked from a hat and then we each had to sing a line from a song containing that word.  E.g: LOVE - 'She Loves You' or 'Love, Love me Do.'  The aim of the game is to find as many as possible containing the word.

Then we moved on to 'Paper Art'  - we picked a category such as 'animals' or 'things you find in the kitchen' and we each had to tear a piece of A4 paper into the shape of our chosen object.  We were surprised at how many cats and giraffes we had.  Then we had the lazy man's effort of 'a puddle of milk' for 'found in the kitchen'!

Next was 'Alphabet Story'  - we began at a random point in the alphabet and told a story line by line with each person starting the next line with the next letter of the alphabet. E.g:  Amanda went shopping.  But the shops were closed. 'Can't think what to do,' she said.

The game we played for the longest was 'Keep it going' - the teen would find a well known song on his iPod and we would start to sing along with it.  One example was 'Bohemian Rhapsody'.  While we were singing, he would suddenly turn it down so that we were unable to hear it and we had to keep singing to see if we were at the same point on the track when he turned it back on.  Much fun and laughter was had by all, and I have to say we didn't do too badly.

This then led onto 'Joint Bongos' with the teen and his friend taking half a bongo each and bashing out tunes while we danced - quite a lot!

Action shot!
Their hands were moving so fast, they're a blur!

I can't believe that these are the two boys who used to camp on the floor.
Fine young men to be proud of and a joy to spend time with.

And from our boys, I gained a best friend.
(and also a Goddaughter - not pictured)
A sneaky ciggie in the snow, 13 years ago, and we're still going strong.
'You had me at the snow!'

Ugh!
The worst part of a dinner party - the clearing up.
 
Mr Misfit and other menfolk were at the party but we seem to be short on photos - which, when it came to the dancing, is probably just as well!
 
We had a fabulous time and were all feeling a little exhausted this morning.  Now ... on to his actual birthday on Thursday.  But first, sleep.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Getting the Chop

I made a pact with the Goddaughter and I stuck to it.  A glass of champagne too many on the Eve of 2013 saw me agreeing to grow my hair.

Now, over a year and a half later, I’m ready to stick a paper bag over my head.  In my dreams I saw myself with shoulder length locks, framing my face in bouncy curls.  In reality, I look like an unkempt mad woman in desperate need of help - from both a hairdresser and possibly a psychiatric nurse.

My hair doesn’t like to grow beyond a certain length.  It just doesn’t get it.  It panics and has no idea what it should be doing.  So during the transitional period, I’ve tried various taming techniques - a few long layers, a tidy up on the length, some very strong words in the mirror.  Nothing has worked.

Mr Misfit hasn’t been much help.  When I told him I was growing it, he frowned.  ‘I love the bob.  The bob is you.’  Now it’s longer he doesn’t want me to go back to the bob!  Men, huh?! But I think the main reason is that he wants to support my hair-brained aspirations and doesn't want to be responsible for a decision I might regret.

After a particularly Wayward Hair Day last week, I booked my hairdresser for this Saturday to do the deed. Now of course, I’m looking in the mirror and my hair’s decided to behave.  It’s the Dental Appointment Syndrome, isn’t it?  The minute the appointment’s made, the toothache magically disappears.

Why are we never happy with what we’ve got?  My hair is poker straight and I long for curls.  Other women with those bouncy locks I long for spend hours straightening the life out of them.  I just wish I could be like the Sindy (or possibly Tressy?) doll I used to play with, and with one press of my belly button, my hair could be either long or short depending on my mood.  Why can’t life be that simple?

I can almost guarantee that when I have my hair cut on Saturday, I’ll hate it.  Hubbie will probably like it because deep down I'm sure he’s always preferred the bob.  My mum will say it’s taken years off me because she hates my hair longer, and ‘Fenella’ will give me a good telling off because she thinks the longer look is ‘more youthful’!

But at the end of the day, I’ve made the decision now and I’m sure, once I get used to the ‘new, old me’ again, I’ll be fine.

If anyone should manage to invent the Belly-Button-Hair-Growing App before then please let me know as I’d happily be a willing tester.


Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Day after the Night before

I'm a little bit 'floopy' today.  After weeks of preparation we finally enjoyed our 20th wedding anniversary party last night and what a night it was!  My poor feet and legs are in complete shock as our resident DJ (read: The Teen) barely gave anyone time to grab a drink, his tracks were so varied and infectious.  In fact we danced SO much, the photos are a little thin on the ground as we were all too busy getting our groove on.  The teen got lots of video evidence but there's only so much I'm prepared to share!

Our theme was FUNKY FLORAL SUMMER and thankfully the weather delivered beautifully.  After heavy winds and cloud, the evening suddenly became almost tropical and we were able to enjoy using the marquee in the back garden to chill out and then (at 2 in the morning) our little patio area at the front.


Our marquee, complete with FUNKY FLORAL bunting - made from oilskin - and some pretty flower lights
 
We decided to take it easy on ourselves with the food as we knew how much we threw away after my 50th.  Some pre-cooking and freezing saw us come up with this selection of delicacies.


Salmon roulade, savoury muffins, mini quiches, Thai fishcakes.
What this photo doesn't reveal is that there's a heap of food on the other side of the kitchen!
We gave each of our 30 guests a nice little glow with some Bloody Mary Gazpacho shots too.

We decided to be brave and inventive with our 3 tiered cake.  I ordered the large base cake from Waitrose and then we iced and decorated 2 more tiers. We incorporated the FUNKY FLORAL theme and this is what we came up with. 


Great British Bake-Off eat your heart out!

As our guests arrived we had cocktail music playing in the background and a copy of our wedding video playing on mute.  Many of them found themselves lost in watching and laughing at how we've changed over the years.  We also put together a selection of photos for people to giggle at.


The teen was invaluable and helped with food, technical issues and being an all round good guy.  Here he is having a pre-party shuffle with his Nanny!


And looking pretty pleased with his DJing skills!



The marquee got quite packed at times after all that dancing.



And here's the happy couple with their baby boy!



We were delighted to welcome my Twitter buddy to our home again.  The beautiful @Nurseyjo boogied her little socks off and was the perfect party guest.


We look like we have rather extravagant head-dresses on - me with the peach and her with the pink.
We HAD just been shimmying to 'Copacabana' but no headgear was required.  Or maracas!

My good friend 'Fenella' started the entertaining with a couple of songs and then ended with audience participation in a singalong to 'Honey, Honey'.  From then on there was no stopping us!

Once again, everyone left saying what a fab time they'd had and I've had some pretty weary texts and calls today.

Who says you have to spend a fortune to have an absolute ball?  Cinderella and her Prince Charming of twenty years did it with style on a shoestring.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Smug!

Twenty years ago today, I married my best friend and today I'm shouting it from the rooftops.  There was never any doubt that we'd make it this far - we're in it for the long haul, through thick and thin, richer and poorer (!)

My life without Mr Misfit would merely be an existence - I realised this when he went back to Oz to see his family in June and I went on the 'MY HUSBAND HAS GONE TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD DIET'!  Hello Size 10 jeans and people saying, 'What's your secret?'

But I'd rather have a few extra pounds on me and have my soul-mate by my side.  Simple.

So, fetch your sick buckets because here's my tribute to the other half of my whole.

TWENTY THANK YOUS for:

All the laughs.  Never a day goes by ...
The endless songs from the minute you open your eyes.
Supporting me and spurring me on.
Your patience.
Our gorgeous son - we did good.
Putting up with me.
Your calm logic.
Being the voice of reason in tricky times.
Making me a part of your lovely, accepting family.
Cherishing me and always making me feel special.
All the toasted sandwiches.
Never looking at me as if I'm mad - when deep down we both know I *may* have lost the plot.
Telling me if my bum looks big or if something doesn't suit me.
All the times you've told me, 'Well you didn't die last time so I don't think it's likely this time'.
And all the times you've told me, 'No the cat is definitely not dead - I'd say he's probably asleep under a bush'.
Loving my mum and all her foibles.
Making me feel complete.
Running with my stupid ideas - but having the courage to tell me when they're really stupid.
Wanting to spend as much time with me as I do with you and not getting bored with me.
But most of all for being the nicest, kindest most caring man I know.

20th August 1994 and married for 20 years.
I raise my glass to Mr and Mrs Misfit.
 A team to the bitter end.


Friday, 8 August 2014

Misfit's Macho Males

I've wanted a parrot for years and had great fun writing the character of Timothy in my romcom 'Tabby & Kat'.  We'll often go to pet shops and I could spend hours talking to the birds and looking into their beady eyes as I wonder what they're thinking.

So I guess the teen has got his love of them from me and he's always fascinated to hear the stories of the talking budgie that hubbie and I owned before we were married.  With the teen's new job coming up he's considering buying a parrot.  Now this will come with its problems as we have two cats, so it will need much thought/research and maybe we'll decide not to go ahead, but watch this space ...

The current animal discussions in the Misfit Household have led hubbie and me to laughing about the male creatures we've owned in our life together.  Our 'lady' beasts have been elegant and demure - one budgie and one cat - impeccable manners, no unsavoury habits and a little bit snobby.

But our males have been ... how shall I say? ... testosterone-led and a little bit randy!

Let's start with the talking budgie.  Jack had a rather fruity vocabulary - not taught by us, I hasten to add.  We replied to an advert from a young couple who were starting a family and needed to find a home for him as they didn't want their new baby to pick up his bad language!  He was a funny little thing and would keep us entertained for hours.  His long suffering 'wife' Mimi was constantly jumped on and when she eventually got to the point where she'd had enough, she'd throw him off with a weary wing and leave him to  ... 'finish himself' on the back bars of the cage.  We soon realised that it wasn't just his filthy little beak that had let his first family to re-home him.

Moving on to our rescue dog, Ralf.  We took him on when he was eleven and his owners decided that he was ready for the knacker's yard so that they could have a new puppy.  I know, nice huh?  Ralf was a cross-collie and we loved him with all our hearts for five happy years  What we didn't like was the fact that he hadn't been castrated and on hot days, when an old man's fancy turns to romance, his ENORMOUS donkey-sized appendage would pop out making it virtually impossible for him to walk.  He would literally shuffle around on his back legs dragging his goods around with him.  Needless to say, we did the responsible thing and had him 'seen to' - he was a much happier dog for it and we no longer had to hang our heads in shame as small children pointed at him in the park.

That then brings us to our current ginger tom.  His ginger nuts were removed as soon as possible after he developed a penchant for a fluffy toy belonging to our son and he'd spend many hours making Happy Time with Mrs Snaky. The Christmas morning we spent watching him in action with his Lady-Love on a black sack will stick in my memory forever.  A few months ago, Mrs Snaky was rediscovered in a cupboard. The cat showed instant recognition for her, became a little amorous and then clearly realised that he no longer had the tools for the job.  After a brief flash of embarrassment, he dropped her and moved on.

So ... what is it with male animals in our household and if we do go ahead and get a parrot, should we be opting for a female?  Just to be on the safe side!