#18for2018 : Bake a soufflé


At the end of December, I listened to a podcast by Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project.  Her subject was about creating a #18for2018 and encouraging her audience to create a list of 18 things to do in 2018 to make them happy.  Its not resolutions but simply tasks to make you happy, it could be finally ticking off something mundane but essential that you keep putting off, or trying something exciting and new.  I created my list and this month have been mainly planning as many are summer based activities.  Its not just been research as I have booked tickets to see Wicked in October for number 8, have dates for the kayaking course and have bought some new make up this month.  For me, the list is not simply about doing something but getting the buzz and satisfaction of planning and looking forward.

I decided that I wanted to complete at least one item fully in January so took one of the easier tasks and chose to bake a soufflé.  First of all it might seem quite a random task, but to me a soufflé is always one of those dishes spoken about in revered tones, something seemingly quite technical with the potential to go wrong (dramatically)  I love being in the kitchen and experimenting with new dishes, I can do pies from scratch, mix delicate flavours, cook a risotto just so but the confidence to bake a soufflé had always eluded me.

I am one of those people who likes to be prepared, so I researched a number of different recipes to see the different ways in which to make a soufflé.  I read some advice and got some handy hints to stop the disasters, I quickly learnt that the number 1 rule was not to open the oven during the cooking.   I chose to make the soufflé as a Saturday evening meal, as the afternoons are normally pretty relaxed at home, giving me the time to potter in the kitchen, to listen to the radio and be relaxed.  To me this is part of the project too, creating a happy place whilst you complete the task.  The soufflé itself was pretty easy to prepare, I am all for dividing a recipe into little stages.  The bit I was dreading most was whisking the egg whites to a perfect state and then combining with the remaining ingredients.  Fortunately, this went smoothly and there was a real sensory delight in seeing the transformation from egg white to white soft peaks.  I was exceptionally good at not opening the oven, despite the temptation and I was delighted with the result, the soufflé rose and stayed risen until served.  It was delicious, a soft, light main with green vegetables, even my most hardened food critic and picky eater enjoyed it.

My soufflé did give me a happy vibe, I enjoyed browsing my cookbooks for a recipe, being in my kitchen and baking a meal which my family enjoyed.  Some times the simplest tasks bring a simple happiness and joy.


January 2018

From the sublimely brilliant Serious Concerns by Wendy Cope. This book has been so well loved and read over the years.  Its inscribed with my name and date of purchase, 24 years ago! 

I am genuinely an upbeat, positive and hopeful person.  I’m a cheerleader, always looking for something to celebrate and am pretty content with life. However this first month of January has been long, grey and dull.  I have never known a month where it has been so grey and wet, there have been days on end when our town has been covered in a sea mist, the dreary skies and the heaviness of the clouds really can affect your mood.  I enjoy being outside, particularly walking or running, but even this has had not had the same positive effect.  I can do bright, cold days its the incessant grey and drizzle which has been so draining.

January 2018 has been a month to nest indoors and to plan; my #18in 2018 has definitely helped to shape my plans for the year and I’ve had fun researching my projects and booking activities.  Its also been a time to create comforting food in the kitchen, there have been lots of roasts and new recipes to prepare, trying to give a warmth and colour to our meals.  I’ve also been reading cuddled up in my chair with a blanket and cup of tea, I suppose this month has given us the excuse to stay in and be cosy.  But I need those glimpses of spring now, the burst of colour from a bunch of tulips, slightly lighter evenings, new clothes catalogues to browse and choose new outfits for the warmer weather, the winter sun to burn out the dreary sky.  January was a hard month but its good to know that the promise of Spring is finally on its way.

Our kitchen table


This little corner of my house, the kitchen table is my happy place.  When we had our kitchen redesigned I knew that I wanted a large kitchen table to be the centre piece of the room.  A table where we could all sit together for meals and simply take time to be together.  The table itself extends so we can easily sit 8 around it.   We have windows on both sides of the kitchen so you can look out into the garden from wherever you sit at the table.  There is a fig tree in a neighbour’s garden and its a pleasure to look at all the little birds feed in the tree as you sit at the table.   I love to decorate the small window by the table, I always keep my light box with a little message displayed on the window sill and during the year it is decorated for Christmas, Easter and Halloween.  The table is always the centrepiece for birthday mornings, with balloons, presents and birthday bunting adorning the table.

Celebrations and decorations.

 There is so much family life which happens around this table.  All our meals are eaten at the table, even though we have a dining room! I’m a real stickler for all trying to eat together, there’s a no device rule at the table and for the same reason I don’t have a TV in the kitchen either.  We do talk lots and its a great way to catch up with everyone.  The table is also used for one of my favourite times of day, the after school snack, as its winter, we have hot chocolates and a little snack to warm up and to all just relax a little.  The table is also used for homework, the children are not yet at the stage for doing it independently, so I will sit down to help and perhaps write a few to do lists as I keep them company and check on their progress.  The table is also used for fun, we play board games here, our current favourite since Christmas is Monopoly, the children love it.  If adult friends pop round,we’re most likely to sit and chat around the kitchen table its just welcoming and relaxing, in the summer the back door will be open and the breeze will gently fill the room.  Its at this table that I sit and think, plan, write and create, whether it be a little sewing project or some arts and crafts with the littlies.  Its also a place to listen to the radio, the station is mood dependent normally radio 2 or 4 with the occasional local station, or to enjoy some music on my phone.  When I’m older I hope that I will continue to sit at the table and feel in the wood, the memories and warmth of a family life time of memories.


The light is perfect for a bit of sewing at the table


There’s something special to return home after a school run and to sit at my table and to plan, write etc.. 

#Ecosparkles2018 : Week 3


Its been a quiet, simple week here and I’ve not done anything big for this project.  As promised last week, I went onto the council website to discover all the materials I could recycle.  I was also able to order a replacement food bin as ours is damaged and a bag for recycling batteries. Other green activities last week include

  1. Driving fewer miles.  I’ve calculated that I drove less than 10 miles in the whole of last week after making a conscious effort to walk more.  Living and working in the same small town means that shops, school, work, beach etc.. are all in a mile radius of home, so walking becomes a realistic option.  My main need for the car is mornings when I take the children to school and need to be at work very quickly.  Very few of my car journeys are alone, I either have the children with me or share the ‘commute’ with a colleague.
  2. Recycling foil.  I didn’t know that I could recycle my kitchen foil so that is now being done.  I’ve asked the children to bring the foil home from their packed lunches so we can recycle or reuse but its been met with mixed results this week.
  3. No plastic bags purchased nor disposable cups used.  This is a target I’m trying to maintain for the year, so far so good.

The Simple Life, a new accessory and making plans #littleloves

So after the back to school last week, this week has been about getting back into the swing of things and new plans.  The return to clubs bought letters home about dance exams, a production, trips out and suddenly my year which I thought was all neatly planned looks a whole lot busier.  Thankfully with Mr S no longer working away, it will be easier to co-ordinate.  Its also been a week of coughs and cold, Little Man got it the worse, as he normally does because of his eczema and asthma and was off school for a couple of days, the rest of us are all sniffing and cosying up under extra blankets.

img_5375imageI am really serious about living a greener, simpler life this year so have read this short Penguin special by the Australian author, Rhonda Hetzel.  Its a book which asks you to focus clearly on what your values and goal are and offers solid advice.  I like that she doesn’t demand a total green dedication but allows you to work out what fits into your lifestyle, the author herself argues her life needs to include her car and computer, it makes it all a little more achieveable.

img_5379This week, I’ve not watched much television, preferring to read or plan and write in my notebooks.  On Thursday evening, I did accompany a school trip from the school where I work to our local theatre to see the pantomime, Robinson Crusoe.  Our students loved it and participated well.  Whilst the story was an interesting interpretation and some jokes very local,  it was a fun night out for all.



Last weekend, I did some research into my #18for 2018 and started to make plans.  Many of my activities are summer based so there’s not much I can do at present.  However I did make a booking to see Wicked in October so that’s one nearly ticked off.  I am very excited and may have already been thinking of an outfit to wear, I’ve always fancied a  green velvet skirt.



Last weekend, I listened to Charlie Brooker’s Desert Island Discs, in which as well as playing some rather surreal music choices, he spoke about lying in bed listening to music wearing a headband.  I always listen to the radio in bed and often end up twisted and half strangling myself with my headphones. His comment inspired me to do an Amazon search and I purchased this, Bluetooth (so no wires) head band, you can wear it a variety of ways, over the eyes, as a hair band etc.. but it is fabulous and very comfortable for listening to music.  I also use the timer function on my phone so it doesn’t play all night.


After booking the tickets to Wicked, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack and having some musical inspired playlists for my walks and runs.  (At this time of year when its so dark and our pavements are in such disrepair, I run in daylight and walk in the dark as I’ve never properly recovered my confidence from a fall when running in the dark) The music has only added to my excitement for our theatre trip.


This is a post inspired by Morgan’s excellent linkie, however I’m not linking it up formally as I’m not able to read and comment on the other posts as I would love to.  My blog always has and always will be a hobby.  Recently especially on Twitter, I’ve been reading a lot what bloggers should and shouldn’t do, like a post if its an ad, comment, retweet and the expectations all seem a bit scary and overwhelming for a hobby.  I will continue to read my favourite blogs of which there are many and comment when I can and write my own little thoughts.  Good luck to all the bloggers who are trying to grow their blogs and develop a career in blogging, you go ladies, we need your voices and there are some amazing writers and blogs out there.  Good luck x

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#ecosparkles : Week 2


Whilst I wrote earlier this week of my attempt at a green shopping trip, I have had some little green successes this week.

  1.  No disposable cups! Not only did I take a cup on my shopping trip, I also took it on my weekly lunch treat. Once a week, my colleague and I head to the gorgeous little café in town for a takeaway homemade soup and bread.  Today we both took our reusable mugs and the owner was more than happy to fill them up with the tastiest lentil, coconut and sweet potato soup!
  2. Decluttering. Yep its that time of the year when I am working my way, room by room through the house to tidy and sort each area. I did the children’s bedrooms this week and sent some clothes, clean and in good condition to the charity shop.  There were some stained and damaged clothes and rather than throw these away I cut the t shirts up to make some rag cloths.  The jeans which were worn through at the knees have become a pair of denim shorts to wear whilst mucking around in the garden.  As well as the clothes, I sent some games and books to the charity shop and recycled paper. There was very little thrown away, apart from used pens for which I need some ideas.
  3. No plastic bags.  Whilst I haven’t bought a plastic bag Mr S insisted on buying one despite my alternative offers when he bought some trousers in Next.  I was really annoyed with him, it felt like he was ruining my little project, something he is a bit bemused about at present.  I just hope that my positive action will rub off on him soon.

    I have a few little ideas for next week’s ecosparkles I’m going to see exactly what I can recycle at my local tip and see if I can reduce our landfill.

Trying to be green


My resolution this year is to try and be more environmentally friendly and I have created a little hashtag #ecosparkles2018 to illustrate my efforts over the year. I want to see how easy it is to be more ecologically aware by adopting very simple habits, for example I’m hoping not to buy any plastic bags this year or use any disposable cups.  Today was my first big test with a trip to big town.  I was prepared, I had several bags for my shopping, a reusable coffee cup and I even cheekily took some spare coat hangers I had from my decluttering yesterday to see if I could recycle them in a shop.  There were some successes today, I used all the bags and didn’t need any additional and the Sainsbury’s cashier happily agreed to recycle my hangers.

However there were some little things I hadn’t prepared for, the trip took longer than anticipated and Little Miss and I needed a quick bite to eat.  The green and more comfortable option would have been to pop into a café but I was on a tight timescale so we ended up with a takeaway, my daughter’s lunch was served simply in a paper bag, a pretty good packaging option and I had a takeaway salad in a plastic box with a plastic fork, not great eco packaging.  However to try and make the best of the situation,  I took our used packaging to the recycling area of a supermarket as there were no recycling bins in the shopping precinct.  Unfortunately the area was only for recycling clothes, paper, books and silver foil.  I couldn’t take the used tub home as it had dressing in it which might spill onto my other shopping, so despite my best intentions and search for a green option I ended up throwing it away and feeling guilty.  That was frustrating as I had looked hard for a recycling option and it wasn’t there.  This was in a busy town centre and I would have expected some recycling bins around the shops, takeaways etc.. to help people make little green gestures.

My other observation from today was around cruelty free make up.  I went to Superdrug today which has a good reputation for cruelty free products.  I found some of the brands I was looking for and bought a new foundation and mascara which I needed.  What surprised me was the air miles involved in these products as some were made in China.  To me this also raises the ethical argument of China being the country which is insisting on testing on animals, producing cruelty free make up which I presume cannot be sold in the state.  It just doesn’t sit right with me on a number of levels so as well as cruelty free, I’m now looking for make up not made in China and with as few air miles as possible.

Today’s trip has shown the need to be prepared, that you can ask shops to help you be more eco friendly, eg the recycled coat hangers but that there is much more to be done by councils to encourage recycling in busy town centres.

Cheer up Love, 18 for 2018 and the Skyline Gang #littleloves

As I sit here to plan this #littleloves post, I’m thinking back on my week and it seems such a long time so much more than 7 days. Last Friday we were enjoying our Butlins break, then we were back at home for New Year and now I’ve already done 3 days back at work!



Since being back at work, I’ve settled each evening with Susan Calman’s Cheer Up Love. It’s an autobiography with a strong narrative on depression. I’m enjoying it, in parts it reminds me of Matt Haig’s Reasons to be Alive but there is more on Susan’s life too and stories we can all relate to.



Our children love Butlins, especially the Skyline Gang and Rainbow the dog. This week I’ve watched lots of shows at Butlins not simply watching what’s on the stage but my children’s reactions too. Its lovely to see how happy and involved they are, Butlins will always be our happy place.

img_5378This week I’ve seen lot of references to Gretchen Rubin’s 18 in 2018 and I’ve made my list here https://seasidesparkles.net/2017/12/30/a-new-little-project-18for2018/ I’m excited by this little project and am looking forward to my new adventures.


Despite this being mid-winter I seem to have been outside a lot this week, my Fitbit steps show this too. Its been a week of woolly hats and scarves and wearing my new bag from White Stuff. I love the bright colour which brings a pop of colour to my dark clothes.


img_5380After reading about Gretchen Rubin, I found her Happier podcasts online and have been listening to them non stop since. It’s a great podcast and one I would readily recommend.


January is a fresh start and I like focusing on our home this month. The decorations are down and I am looking for new ways to make the house sparkle. It’s my day off today and unusually I’m looking forward to sorting out the children’s bedrooms and just making the house tidy and organised.

Happy new year to Morgana and all the #littleloves posse.

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#ecosparkles2018 : Week 1




Whilst my focus in #ecosparkles2018 is to try to do more little things to help our environment, I hope that I have always tried to be considerate of our planet.  I recycle as much as I can, rubbish, clothes and household goods and try to think of the environment in my actions. However there is always more that we can do, so this project is of new, little extra things that I’m doing this year to improve our environment.

  1. Whilst I normally recycle our Christmas cards, this week I responded to a Twitter request to send the picture half of the card to a women’s prison so they can do Christmas crafts next year.  The cards will be used for a new purpose and the discarded part has been recycled.  image
  2. I ordered eco cleaning materials to replace the usual products.  I will develop my collection as the remaining products are used up.image
  3. At work, I have avoided using the disposable plastic cups at the side of our water cooler and brought a glass to the machine each time.  Sometimes it has meant a walk back to my office to collect a glass but I reckon I have saved 2 or 3 plastic cups every work day so far.cup