January 2016 – Homemaking

In 2016 I thought I would start a series of monthly posts and theme them with a word to describe each month. January has been a very long month full of wet and miserable weather and lots of days hibernating inside. It’s been a month focusing on our home and the more domestic aspects of life so my word for January is homemaking.


By virtue of the weather, spring cleaning has come early to the Sparkles home this year. Kitchen cupboards have been cleaned and refreshed, wardrobes have been blitzed and organised, book shelves have been renewed whilst I am really pleased how we redesigned the playroom with the new white storage unit which fits beautifully. To counter the darkness of the winter days, we have had fresh flowers each week, tulips are one of my favourite flowers and I love when they are in season as they are now. I have also used my lightbox to help brighten the days as the little phrases bring a smile.

In home making I have looked very carefully at the food we eat too. I did a detox for 3 weeks this month and it was remarkably simple, effective and really made me focus on fresh, wholesome food, how to nourish ourselves to give us the goodness we need not to merely survive but thrive. As a consequence I have purchased a few books, Jamie Oliver and Bee Wilson and followed a few new Instagram accounts for meal inspiration, including Deliciously Ella. I have cooked so many new recipes this month and they have been delicious. I’ve used lots of different herbs and spices, ingredients such as legumes, chia seeds and wholegrains and feel so much better in myself. I have also been using My Fitness Pal to record all my food and have used the nutrition features carefully. I did think that I had a generally healthy diet but my work this month has seen a few tweaks which are rewarding me with more energy, stamina and food appreciation. This all seems very noble and like a new year resolution, its more coincidence and that the new year has afforded me a little more thinking and planning time. It’s rare for me to have used January for new starts.


I’ve not bought much for the house this month save a few new kitchen utensils, it’s been more about cleaning, decluttering and following the advice to keep things that ‘spark joy’

I love being at home and making our home, warm, welcoming and cosy.  To me homemaking is a positive and creative focus.


Little Sparkles 4/2016

This has been a long month and one in which I have been very home focused, a month of home making, decluttering, adding a few sparkles and trying new recipes to feed and nurture us all. My sparkles this week reflect this home focus, perhaps I’m hibernating!

This week on my Lightbox


In a week of heavy rain and storms, I liked my little quote reminding us to dance in the rain. I’m a great believer in that there’s no thing as bad weather but the wrong clothes and even when it’s raining you can still have fun! The photo below is from Thursday on our walk to school, the only bright day of the week.




I love pinafores so am very excited about the new trend this year. I ordered one this week which has arrived and it’s gorgeous. Whilst I had imagined myself skipping along wearing it with a simple t-shirt, and converse pumps it’s been worn this week with a black roll neck jumper, boyfriend cardigan, leggings and boots.

Fitbit’s Shooting Star


I do like my Fitbit and even on my enforced exercise break I’m still trying to do 10k steps a day which is working pretty well. This week I got the Shooting star award for reaching 20000 floors since I began, propelling me as high as a shooting star. I like the imagery, I’m a shooting star!

Tooth Fairy 


It was very exciting in our household this week as two teeth were lost, Little Miss’ second tooth and Little Man’s first tooth. There was none of the drama from Little Man on his tooth, it just fell out unlike the wriggling we had with Little Miss. I did get a 3.50am wake up call from little Man who had woken up very excited that the tooth fairy had been and ran into my room to share the exciting news.

Eating well


This month I have looked very carefully at my diet and made a real effort towards cleaner nutrition. It needs to be workable and realistic but these two books have helped to develop my thoughts and opinions about healthy diets. I listened to Bee Wilson on Woman’s Hour, on which she was so brilliant that I was inspired to order her book. I also have been making every meal from scratch and have rediscovered the stunning flavours of herbs and spices in cooking. I don’t want this to be a fad diet but a real awakening of what healthy food means to me and how to feed and nourish my family.

Believe in yourself like I believe in you …

There are some Eureka moments in being a parent mixed in with many WTF times. Today Little Miss came to read me the story she had written about a little boy learning to ride his bike.  The line which stopped me and made my heart sing was the fairy saying “Believe in yourself like I believe in you”.  I have no idea where I got this phrase from as it does sound like something out of a Disney film, but it is a little phrase I share with the little ones to boost their self confidence and hopefully sprinkle positive thoughts about themselves.  To hear it being read back to me makes me hopeful that the positive messages are getting through (IMO this is one of the more twee lines, some are a lot more wise) and that these positive remarks are helping Little Miss and Little Man to develop into positive, confident children.


Little Sparkles 3/2016

This hasn’t been a very sparkly week as I was house bound for the start of the week with a sick Little Man and then was really poorly myself with a severe migraine and accompanying vomiting for most of the remainder of the week. This really wasn’t a good mummy week, far too much TV and Wii U after school and I’m not even sure how I managed the school run on a few days this week. However the children were amazing and were far more helpful and sympathetic than I could have hoped for. Treats are definitely in order this weekend. Consequently the little sparkles are quite limited this week but even amongst all the sickness there have been a few glimmers.

  1. My lightbox.


After careful consideration, I chose part of a Winnie the Pooh quote this week. It was Winnie the Pooh day on Monday to coincide with the anniversary of the birth of A.A. Milne and at work we did some lovely sensory themed activities. I chose this quote as I am always in awe of my children who are so brave and strong for the life that they have lived at such a young age. They were separated from their birth mother, lived in foster care and finally came to us as their forever family through adoption, they have dealt with the trauma so resiliently. The quote is also to remind them to be strong and confident as they grow older.

Call the Midwife.

I really enjoy this series as I’ve always been keen on social history. The new series started last Sunday with a standout episode focusing on a baby born with deformities caused by thalidomide, it was a stunning hour of drama which has been much discussed and admired this week.

Get Well note.

I was so touched by this note from Little Miss and Little Man   accompanied by a play doh flower (which soon became another model!) They have been amazing this week and I am very lucky to have such kind and loving children.

Saturday Night Games

We always try to have a family time on Saturday evening and after an early tea we like to play board games, it’s always a fun time. This evening our choices were What a Performance and Frustration and it was a special, relaxed time just being us.

New Books

I want to try and read more this year and last weekend picked up a couple of books. Last night I started the first, Moving by Jenny Éclair. I love the premise of a house holding the memories of a family and have enjoyed the first few chapters. I am a real homebody and love our home, it felt like home the moment we stepped in. As we left our first viewing we turned around, negotiated a price and moved in six weeks later. Our home is full of very happy memories although I’m not sure of the plot line in the book will be so happy.

Next week, we should all be back to normal so hopefully there will be more sparkles to illuminate the week.

Always ….

I was shocked to hear of the death of one of my favourite actors today, Alan Rickman, a truly fantastic actor and in reading today’s obituaries an all round nice guy.  He appears in two of my favourite films Truly, Madly, Deeply and Love Actually and was the perfect choice for Snape in Harry Potter.  I don’t normally comment on the deaths of famous people and am slightly taken aback by the reactions on social media but I do think this week we have lost two huge talents whom I grew up with and loved their work and wanted to use my blog to record my thanks for their talents.

Little Sparkles 2/2016

So it’s the second week in January and although quiet, I’m enjoying the relaxed start to the new year. Its giving me time to focus on the things I want to do this year and rather than buzzing around, on a couple of evenings I’ve sat down and simply read or listened to music and during my days off I’ve been home making. It’s been a peaceful and comforting week.

Sparkle 1

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This is one picture which has a variety of meanings this week. After last week’s flower quote I thought it would be nice to see if I could find an appropriate comment each week to display in my light box. As there is a character limit of only 9 letters per line that’s few words to play with. I am missing There’s on this week’s quote but I think the abbreviated quote sums the theme up. Whilst it is a little homage to David Bowie, it also reflects the space theme which is strong in my life. I am teaching a space module at work this half term, it’s one of my favourite topics to teach and this week there is a CBeebies Stargazing special on each evening which Little Man has been fascinated with and we have watched avidly together. I am also really enjoying following Tim Peak the British astronaut in space and look forward to watching his space walk tomorrow. Consequently I think this lyric sums up this week nicely.

Sparkle 2

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I was so proud of Little Miss this week as the ballet exam results from November have been published and she did exceptionally well. I was relieved for her as she had worked very hard and I wanted her to get a result which reflected her work and effort. She was so happy and excited when she came out of the exam room so I was hopeful that she had done well and it’s wonderful to have such an excellent outcome. The card is from my parents and I’ve promised her a little gift to celebrate, I need to look on Etsy today for a new ballet bag or possibly a ballerina necklace.

Sparkle 3

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I have done week 1 of the 3 week detox and it is going very well, I think I am even enjoying it! I like healthy food and do cook a lot from scratch so its not too different from my normal eating but I’ve been recording the foods on My Fitness Pal app and the nutritional background has been very informative and surprising. I suppose the biggest change has been not eating fruit or dairy and this is ok in the short term but I couldn’t do it for much longer than the three weeks, I like a balanced diet. I am feeling well and probably have more energy than normal for January so all is going well.

Sparkle 4

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My resolution for this year has to embrace my wellbeing, whilst it sounds a bit pretentious, recent health scares have made me realise I have to look after myself. One of the simple things I have done this week has been to burn some aromatherapy oils and book an aromatherapy massage to end the detox.

Sparkle 5

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I have a new office at work this term as I have quite a unique role and spend a lot of my time supporting within the school. Its right in the middle of the classrooms (as it should be, that’s where I’m needed) and whilst it doesn’t have the magnificent sea views the main building offices do, I do appear to have a little companion. This little squirrel has kept me amused this week, he is so tame and confident and gets up to lots of little tricks, climbing the trees, walking along the fence and climbing over and into the bird box. He’s a lovely little distraction.

Sparkle 6

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Not much explanation needed here, there is an advertising campaign by Weetabix where the cereal is made into a little face so Little Man wanted to do the same with his breakfast. It was a fun start to the day. Little Miss is a porridge girl so we did similar with honey and bananas too. It’s the little things which make us smile.

David Bowie R.I.P. 

My formative years for music were the 80s, so of all Bowie’s hits the ‘pop’ songs were those of my era and it was not until later in my teens I discovered his back catalogue via the CD pictured above, Changes.   Don’t judge me on the compilation greatest hits album I was a sixth form student so money was tight but I loved this CD.  It came with me to Uni, my year in France and in all my adult years. It’s one of those rare CDs I still play in the car, though I have now added a few of his albums to my iTunes account.  The soundtrack to my year in France is David Bowie and Lenny Kravitz on a CD Walkman. It was also in France where I met a lovely friend who was a huge Bowie fan and with whom much time was spent listening to his music and swooning over DB. She was the first person I  thought of  yesterday as the news was announced, she adored him.  I do believe Bowie was one of the cultural icons of the 20th century and listening to his music last night was moving, his talent was immeasurable.  Thank you David Bowie for the music, style, Labybrinth and all your wit, wisdom and fun.

Little Sparkles 1/2016

Last week I pondered how to continue Little Sparkles this year as I did find some of the categories a little constricting. For example, wore… I am so predictable, leggings and a tunic / short skirt / dress and boots in cooler weather with a few layers as necessary and top and shorts / cropped trousers / floral or patterned skirt and flip flops in warmer weather. It’s not going to make for inspiring reading week in and out. I had a little think and jotted a few ideas down and then came up with the blindingly obvious solution, don’t put my sparkles into categories and just write! So here is my first post in this new format, I hope it works.


Sparkles 1 and 2.


Surprisingly for me, I am starting this new year on a health kick. It’s been a bit of a worrying time health wise and I am awaiting a hospital appointment for further investigation into the number of unexplained falls I’ve had recently. In the meantime I am doing a detox, my first ever! After its finished I am considering clean eating as much as possible without being a martyr to try and make my body as strong as possible. The detox is fine, I do eat healthily generally but it’s the cups of tea I’m missing the most and my odd cappuccino. Herbal tea doesn’t quite hit the spot. My father In law bought me a fantastic Christmas present of a soup maker. He was buying one for his daughter and thought I might like one too. It’s so easy and convenient and has helped me to enjoy the detox more with lots of flavoursome soups.

Sparkle 3


Whilst all the house looks bare without our Christmas decorations, I really miss the LED lit Christmas tree in my kitchen. I loved its sparkle and twinkling lights. This week, I have treated myself to a bunch of my favourite flowers, tulips to put in my Ken Eardley vase and then used my lovely Lightbox to write a little inspirational message to help brighten up my kitchen. It’s definitely helped to add a little sparkle in the kitchen this week.

Sparkle 4


Still in the kitchen, Little Miss commented this week that she feels sad when we sit down for tea and Daddy’s seat is empty as he’s back working away. So this week we’ve had guests for dinner, Colin the Minion joined us for his banana (that’s what Minions eat isn’t it?), Teddy had honey sandwiches and Miss Mouse had some cheese. I’m still trying to work out what Kylo Ren and Finn from Star Wars might eat for tea.

Sparkle 5


It’s a return to routines this week and we have been reading together every evening before going up to bed. This week our book is Charlotte’s Web, I don’t think I have ever read it before although am familiar with the story and am thoroughly enjoying it, Fern is a pretty cool girl. I have been reading ‘The Version of Us’ a ‘what if’ story about choices and consequences, it is brilliant and I have been in bed early every evening to read more.

Sparkle 6


I am not one for the sales and have kept well away from them this Christmas. It is my idea of hell to be walking around the shops on Boxing day. However there was one item I had been following and was waiting to be reduced, a new pair of boots in Fat Face. I sussed that the online sale was likely to start on Christmas Eve as everyone shuts up for Christmas, so late afternoon I refreshed the bookmark I had saved (really I am that organised) and I got the boots reduced to half price. I was delighted and have been wearing them this week, they are so comfy and gorgeous. That’s the best way to shop the sales.

Sparkle 7


My final sparkle is my new Filofax, its not as ostentatious as it may first look. I am quite modest and don’t do a lot of bling but feel quite comfortable with its design. In September I decided to try one of those Mummy academic year diaries with spaces for everyone as the kitchen calendar in a similar design works well. However I hated it, the pages weren’t in the order I like and I could never find what I wanted. I never had the option to add anything. After really trying hard with it for 3 months, I admitted defeat and thanks to a little Christmas gift I chose a new Filofax. I feel so much better organised and prepared with a Filofax, I won’t be seduced by anything different again!

Isn’t it funny that even in what is supposed to be one of the duller weeks of the year there are still plenty of opportunities to illustrate the sparkles of everyday life. There are more I haven’t written of too, discovering an acquaintance’s wonderful achievements through her New Year’s honours citation, she is so modest of her amazing work.  I also received two compliments of how kind little Miss has been with some of the younger children at school.   Life’s little sparkles should always be appreciated.

Christmas memories 2015


Our Christmas tree is now down and the decorations are all neatly boxed up and ready for next year. Being me they have all been put away tidily and labelled so when we do the tree next year its exciting and fun and not stressful unravelling lights and looking for the right decorations for the trees. Being organised is me, I like being organised it makes life simpler and easier.  In reading my latest version of the Simple Life Magazine I came across this word. meraki in an article about translations, I love it and it describes so much of what I do and how I am in everything but especially Christmas


My last job of Christmas is to complete my Christmas book, a way of putting all my notes and plans together. I note down our decorations, menus, gifts and special activities and add copies of recipes, our Christmas card etc.. It’s a nice memory activity and it’s interesting to compare Chrstmases over the past 6 years, it also saves duplicating present!  In the book I also jot down my favourite memories of the Christmas and I thought I would share these here today. When I wrote this year’s down it struck me that it’s not a list of expensive presents and activities but the simple things which made Christmas 2015 special.

In no particular order here are our special memories from Christmas 2015.

  1. Tommy the Elf. I have become more creative in the scenes this year as I love doing Tommy and the fun he brings every morning. His daily letters are fun to write and sum up all the excitement and sparkle of Christmas.
  2. Advent calendars. Chocolate calendars can be quite stressful with Little Man as he tries to sneak his chocolate out and the calendar ends up being placed up high. This year, Little Miss surprisingly chose a picture calendar which was beautiful and so much nicer than the chocolate version, definitely one to encourage again next year.
  3. The Christmas Tree festival. This was a new activity for us this year and we loved it, Christmas trees, Christmas crafts, a dress up nativity scene and a café. It was a really special and beautiful event.
  4. The Nutcracker ballet. Whilst this is still on my bucket list to see at London, I would love to try and see it annually after the success of this year’s theatre trip.
  5. Homemade Decorations. After inspiration from Pinterest we had a go at the button decorations and it was really rather nice to have our decorations on our tree. I like that our tree reflects us. I do fancy learning crochet so that I can have a go at crochet decorations next year!
  6. Christmas Jumpers and Hats. I was really pleased with our selection this year, Little Man’s reindeer jumper was gorgeous and he got great wear from it. It was lovely on the last day of school to go into his class and see all of the pupils in their Christmas jumpers, so cute. Little Miss’ class didn’t embrace the idea so enthusiastically, perhaps it’s an age thing!
  7. Santa Letters.  My Mum did an amazing job writing and sending the letters from Santa this year.  They were so personal and thoughtful, she is a very special Grandma.
  8. Christmas cookies. This is always a quiet (ish) activity for December 23rd and the cookies are put on the tree to give a gorgeous smell. It’s one of my favourite things to do and I have photos from the last 6 Christmases showing the children baking and decorating.
  9. Christmas Eve Cinema. We all went to watch Star Wars on Christmas eve and it was brilliant. The film was epic, but the atmosphere and excitement made it much more than a trip to the cinema.
  10. Tracking Santa. We have tracked Santa for the past few years on the NORAD website but felt inspired to send an email this year. It was really sweet typing out what the children wanted me to write; that they had left a mince pie for Santa and a carrot for the reindeers, that they loved him very much and to fly safely. It was magical to receive a personalised reply within a few minutes.
  11. Reindeer Ramble. I have come across some of the reindeers in our local country park on my recent runs but on Boxing day we decided to do the trail. It was a lot of fun and the atrocious muddy conditions just seemed to make it even more exhilarating and memorable.