Cake books, work-style and deers #littleloves

Yay its Friday and its been a quiet and happy week at the Sparkles house.  I like weeks like these simply pottering around and going about our daily routines contentedly.  In between Storm Doris there have been some lovely sunny days and the promise of spring, this has inspired me to do more exercise, I’ve enjoyed the first trial runs of the year and swimming in our local pool where the sun streams through the glass roof and windows and coupled with the sea views makes you believe you could be somewhere more exotic.


As well as continuing to enjoy Helen Pearson’s The Life Project,  as detailed in last week’s #littleloves, I have also been reading some cookbooks for a new baking project.  I have been looking for inspiration in the M&S cake catalogue and this bargain book on children’s cakes which I found in WHSmith reduced to £3, its fantastic.


We finally watched Moorside this week.  Sheridan Smith is a wonderful actor and I was blown away again by her performance.  Its a harrowing story but I didn’t hate the mother as I thought I would, I saw a very vulnerable woman with a complex history probably including learning difficulties.  I hope that her daughter and other children are safe and secure in loving homes now with all the support they need for happy adult lives.


I am on a bit of a healthy regime this week so have made lots of delicious salads, wholesome soups and nourishing mains.


I was inspired by a lovely article by Not A Frumpy Mum on her working wardrobe

This week I have made an effort to be more stylish at work and been a little more creative with my choices.  I’ve tried to avoid my normal staples and have experimented with different combinations, digging out some items I don’t normally wear and matching them up with recent purchases.   Its surprising how a slight change of look can make you feel more sparkly.


On the way home from school tonight, Little Miss told me an amusing but slightly unbelievable story about a family of deer who ran onto the school field whilst they were having their PE lesson. We laughed at the story and tried to fit in all the deer jokes and word play we could, making for a funny walk home. When I got home, I received a phone call from the teacher to reassure parents about what had taken place and his account did roughly match Little Miss’ tale.  I think its one of those stories which may go down in folklore, the day the deer joined in PE.


We have a quiet weekend planned.  I’ve done lots of jobs this week so I don’t have a long to do list, just time to potter and hopefully be outside as much as possible.

I’m linking up with Morgana at and her delightful #littleloves contributors who provide so much inspiration and ideas in their posts.


Family news, memories and Batman #littleloves

Oops a little late with this week’s Little Loves as we tried to eek every last second out of half term.  We had a really nice week, I like how this half term is a more laid back holiday with none of the big celebrations of other holidays.  As Mr S was working away for the first part of the week we went to stay with my parents and then did some family things with Mr S in the second part of the week.  Mr S was really quite poorly so our planned trip to Portsmouth was postponed and replaced with local trips, a visit to the new indoor skate park which the children loved and a train journey, which is treat in itself, to another town to wander around and catch the new Lego Batman film.




I have been reading The Life Project by Helen Pearson, its a non fiction book about cohort studies of children born in a certain week and the impact the results of the simple questionnaires have consequently had on health and education in the UK.   This may sound a bit dry but its an interesting and fascinating read about what factors determine success in life.  Some of it is sadly depressing, the vicious cycle of poverty but it also highlights the positives of good parenting, good education and good health services. A thoughtful and powerful read.


Call the Midwife was a heart breaking watch for me this week, as someone who has lost a baby in pregnancy and adopted, the two themes of the episode I was in bits by the end and sobbing my heart out.  As is always done in the programme the issues were handled sensitively.

We went to see the new Lego film Batman this week.  I know the reviews are good but I did find it a bit dull, there were some witty parts but its an action film, albeit in animation and its not my favourite genre.  However, Mr S and Little Man loved the film.


I know its bit of a cliché but this week was about making memories especially with my family.  With my parents, we had walks along the beach, trips to the café, swimming and a fantastic morning in Bristol at the Clifton Observatory.  Despite growing up in Bristol we had never visited it before.  It is a tower to climb to use the camera obscura, you twist the handle and a reflection of the outside is projected onto a screen inside, it doesn’t look real simply a picture until you look closely and see the cars driving across the suspension bridge. In the same building you descend over 130 steps and end up in a cave in the Avon gorge, there are two different explanations for it.  It is a Roman chapel or the home of two Bristolian giants.  The tower is a great visit and after we walked along the Suspension bridge to go to the new visitor centre, it was a great venue for the children where they got to learn all about bridges and to build them too!


The milder weather meant it was skinny jeans with fewer layers, a nice feeling that Spring may be on its way!

My parents also bought me these slippers from their recent trip to Marrakesh, the children find them hilarious, Mummy’s pink elf shoes!  They are remarkably comfortable though.


Staying with mum and dad I got all the news on family and old friends.  Its funny how life turns out, real life is so much better than any soap opera!


Half term is over now and its back to work this week.  I’ve enjoyed the break and its a nice time of year to be looking forward to, Springtime is coming.

Many thanks to Morgana for creating this linkie


My Valentine Sadness

When I was younger, Valentine’s Day filled me with dread.  I was a very shy, angst ridden teenager and the only card I ever got was from my Dad. As I got older and found myself in a relationship it was a day to celebrate but generally I felt a bit awkward  about the whole cheesiness of the day.  Mr S and I do occasionally get romantic and celebrate our special anniversaries but not so much Valentine’s Day until 2009, when the significance of the day changed.  Valentines is no longer a romantic festival for us but a day to cherish our family.

Valentine’s Day 2009 was supposed to be the best day of my life.  After years of fertility treatments I was pregnant and the due date was February 14th, as we shared our news, we were all so excited by the date, a Valentines baby, I had it all planned the little heart coming home outfit, announcement cards adorned with hearts.  At last Valentine’s Day was going to be one of my favourite days of the year.  And then tragedy struck during the pregnancy and our darling baby boy died in the womb, it was discovered that he had a condition ‘incompatible with life’  For me now, Valentine’s Day is a very sad reminder of the hope and excitement we once held for the date.

The first Valentine’s Day was horrendous coming so soon after our tragic loss.  I walked up to the beautiful place where we had scattered our baby’s ashes and it did give me some peace.  Mr S had decided that distraction was the best idea and he had booked a Valentine’s dinner in one of the most exclusive restaurants in our county, it should have been amazing but of course we were both grieving too much to appreciate the fine food and stunning venue.  I remember sitting at my dressing table and putting on my make up, it simply felt like a mask and no make up could disguise my sadness.  We both agreeed after that first Valentine’s Day that a quiet Valentine’s Day was the way forward.

Over the years, I am more at peace with Valentine’s Day, I still get a sick feeling in my stomach when I see my first Valentine’s card of the year and it is always a time of the year when I think more of our son.  However Mr S has started a new family tradition since adopting our children.  We now mark Valentine’s day as a family and often go out for lunch to a nice restaurant, it is no longer a day simply to mourn, but to celebrate the family we have because of the loss of a very special little boy.

An adopted daughter

Last night, I was curled up on the sofa reading the latest edition of Woman and Home magazine.  The front page had enticed me to buy it, Have a Balanced Life, de stress, feel calmer, the headline promised and yet after reading what has always been a nice, inoffensive read I was angry and disappointed.  The reason for my fury was the introduction of an interview with Lisa Faulkner.  Now Lisa Faulkner always comes across as lovely person and is not the object of my frustration, rather the writers description of her ” Lisa Faulkner 44 …..has an adopted daughter ”  Its the sort of comment that makes you feel sick in the pit of your stomach.  Why is her daughter being introduced as an adopted daughter, surely Lisa Faulkner should have the respect of the writer to be seen as the mother of a daughter.  I have never introduced my children as  my adopted daughter and my adopted son, they are my son and daughter, our children, no labels.  What does the ‘adopted’ signify, abandoned, abused, neglected, traumatised, what parent would want their child to have that label?  Why should a child be described with such negative associations, they are innocent children, yet are being defined by their early lives and or the history of their birth families.

In our family adoption is not a secret, we discuss it freely and it falls naturally into conversations. Our children know of their early life, in the most appropriate way for their ages and know that we will always love and support them throughout everyday of our lives, our little family saying is love you forever and ever and ever.   I want my children to grow up bathed in unconditional love, support and a sense of belonging, a secure attachment which makes them confident and happy as adults.  Sadly it appears that our national media is quick to judge and label.  Fortunately for our family and friends they are not an adopted son and daughter, an adopted granddaughter and grandson, an adopted niece and nephew,an adopted cousin or an adopted friend they are simply two much loved children.


Spring Wish Lists, Dawn O’Porter and Sing #littleloves

A lovely little bonus this week was to finish for half term on Thursday courtesy of my part time hours and the children having an Inset day.  I’ve sneaked today, Friday into this week’s post as we used our bonus day to have a trip to the cinema.  It was a momentous weekend last weekend as Little Man went on his first night away from us on a Beaver camp. he loved it and came home tired and very muddy, the remainder of the week  has quietly progressed to the start of half term.


The latest Boden and Cath Kidston catalogues fell onto my door mat this week and I have been busy browsing and circling a few items in both.  I’m hoping to pop into a Cath Kidston shop next week whilst we’re away on our travels. I really liked some of their new prints so may try a few things on and may make a purchase or two.  The book print skirt I bought last autumn has been such a good buy, so easy and fun to wear.


Today I had to drive Mr S’ car to the garage in our county town for a recall so took the opportunity to take the children to the cinema whilst the repair was made.  We went to a stunning Art Deco independent cinema to see Sing.  I love the old fashioned cinemas, having been an usherette in one many years ago, its the fittings, history and original features which make the cinemas so special.  It was a full house today, I think it must be a county wide Inset day but it made for a great atmosphere.  I really liked the film, uplifting, full of fantastic songs and joyful.  The perfect antidote to the grey, cold day.


I’ve made very little this week, I suppose my only meal of note this week was my pick’n’mix play date tea.  I wanted to try something a bit different and thinking how mine loved the pancakes on holiday when they could create different fillings, I did baked potatoes with lots of filling options so they could be chefs and create their own special recipes.  It went better than I has expected and they all ate a healthy tea too!


Layers and layers, its freezing at the moment, when is Spring coming?



I’ve expanded my podcast list from Desert Island Discs and have subscribed to the Dawn O’Porter podcast.  Its a really easy listen and I would recommend it, the episodes are thoughtful, funny and honest.  I tend to listen to podcasts on the school run (the bit where I don’t have the children!) in the gym or in bed.  When I listen to music I tend to think a lot but the podcasts make me concentrate on the subject and in a busy, hectic world help me not to get too lost with my own thoughts.


We have lots of plans for half term.  First, its a trip to my parents and then with the couple of days Mr S has off work, we’re going to Portsmouth to visit the Mary Rose, Victory and other attractions at the docks.  I remember watching the Mary Rose being lifted from the sea in the early 80s and I’m interested to learn how it has been restored.

I’m linking up with Morgana and her lovely contributors at

Thank you Morgana for hosting.



Letting Go


For me and Mr S this has been a tough weekend, whilst it has ended happily, we have both spent the weekend worried about Little Man.  The reason for our anxiety was that we agreed for him to attend Beavers camp, his first over night stay.  It was a difficult decision to make, he is 7, but because of a tough start in life, he is still trying to meet all the developmental targets of his age and he has 1:1 support at school for his learning needs.  We decided not to send Little Man last year as he didn’t seem confident enough in the setting, but this year he wanted to go.  He plays a full part in his troop and has gone climbing, hiking, kayaking etc.. so camp did seem the next step.

Mr S and I spent lots of time discussing the pros and cons, a local camp, very skilled leaders all of whom we have known for years, 24 hours only, he was familiar with the base camp after his sister did her Brownie camp there and most importantly he wanted to go.  We worried about his ability to get himself properly dressed for the weather, if he woke up and got frightened in an unfamiliar place or if his anxieties manifested in tantrums, crying etc..  We talked to Little Man and the leaders and after a lot of soul searching, decided that we would try the camp.

On Saturday morning, Little Man didn’t glance back at us as he ran into the hall and we left, mobiles clasped in our hands, where they stayed all day.  I am a pretty relaxed person but for 24 hours yesterday I was on high alert, I checked my mobile frequently and against my cardinal rule of no screens at meal times, I even allowed my phone on the table of the Indian restaurant we went out to for dinner, as Little Man hates curry it seemed the ideal opportunity for the 3 of us to enjoy an Indian meal.  I did find it difficult to sleep last night wondering if Little Man was ok in his bed, had he settled, what if he needed the toilet, would the sounds outside scare him? I slept lightly making sure I would hear the phone if it rang. This morning wasn’t too bad, as I knew it was only a short time until we picked him up at 11am and I was so excited to see him, we were at the hall early!

On picking him up, Little Man was of course very relaxed about the whole event, he had a big bag of muddy washing, was missing his socks and vest and I would have preferred an extra top for someone so prone to chest infections but he was happy (until I mentioned going home for a shower!) and was asking to go on the next camp.  It was a tough weekend but one which has shown that we can’t hold on to and protect our children forever, there are times when they need to go off with their friends and we have to let them fly sometimes, it was scary for us all but we had prepared Little Man and ourselves and he has been able to show how more confident and independent he is becoming.  It was a success but I am looking forward to a more relaxed night’s sleep tonight in the knowledge my Little Man is tucked cosily up in his bed and close to us.

Clothes Show memories, bathroom renovation and holiday plans.

A topsy turvy week in the Sparkles household as the work on the bathroom continued, thus lots of trades people popping in at different times and a slightly different working week for me as I attended a conference for 2 days.  With these 2 events, I tried to keep things simple elsewhere to maintain my own sanity.  My head was spinning with the logistics of school runs and clubs on the conference days, everyone had notes to follow!



One article which caught my attention this week was in Simple Things magazine, an interview with Caryn Franklin.  If like me you’re of a certain age, you will remember her as the host of the Clothes Show tv programme, essential viewing late Sunday afternoons looking at all aspects of fashion.  This article was about fashion and her personal projects.  It really made me think that whilst there are many magazines to sell clothes, there is little written or discussed about fashion, history, materials, designs etc..  Its time to bring the Clothes Show back!


On Saturday, Little Miss and I made a delicious celeriac soup. I make fresh soup weekly with whatever ingredients are in my fridge or cupboards but I had read a few recipes for celeriac soup and decided to have a go.  It was so good and definitely a flavour to try again.


On Sunday, we also made some reservations for holidays and weekends away.  We have really enjoyed going abroad in the last few years but wanted to show some of our beautiful country to the children and this year we have booked a week in Cornwall for August.  We’re staying at St Ives, home to a Poppy Treffy shop (yeah!) and a perfect base for some beach days and trips to St Michael’s Mount and the Eden project.  I’m really looking forward to the Eden project, Mr S and I visited it just after it opened so it will be great to see how it has evolved.  We also booked in a few visits to visit friends throughout the year, there are those whom you always intend to visit but time runs out but this year is different with firm dates for visits confirmed.


With my work conference, I was able to adopt a more stylish, less practical look and wear jewellery.  With the work I do, all we are allowed to wear for safety reasons is a wedding ring and watch so it was nice to wear a necklace, bracelet and pretty drop earrings.



I know that I often choose it as my listen of the week, but Desert Island Discs with David Beckham was very sweet with some really surprising choices, Ella Fitzgerald, The Stone Roses, Stevie Wonder and some Spanish and French songs.  Each week when I listen to it, I try to choose my 8 songs but it is an impossible task.


This weekend we’ll be staying local as Little Man goes to a neighbouring village for a beaver camp, his first night away from us.  We don’t want to be too far away from him, so it’ll give us time to catch up on jobs at home.

I’m linking up with Morgana at for her Little Loves.