#18for2018 ~ My review

At the end of last year I listened to a podcast from Gretchen Rubin on #18for 2018.  The idea was to list 18 things to do during the year which would make you happy, some big, some small, I created and posted my 18 as below, and now time for a review….


  1. Learn to kayak oh this was a brilliant experience and made me so happy. ACHIEVED
  2. Bake a Souffle, one of my early accomplishments, ACHIEVED
  3. Read some amazing books. According to my Good Reads account, i read 46 books last year, 11 of which I gave 5 stars, ACHIEVED
  4. Train well and run a half marathon, mmm my foot injury put paid to this but instead of running, I have power walked many miles this year.  Once I have an operation on my foot it will be a target again. TO BE CONTINUED..
  5. Wear a pair of pretty high heeled shoes.  Linked to the above,  this was the moment when I realised I had a serious problem with my foot.  I was trying on a pair of beautiful emerald green, kitten heels and when finally I got my foot in it, I cried with pain and nearly passed out.  I now can only wear Converse pumps in comfort but have a rainbow of colours.  TO BE CONTINUED
  6. Have a cruelty free make up bag, I discovered some great new brands this year and no longer use companies who claim to be cruelty free but sell their products in China. ACHIEVED
  7. Plan a trip to London, I’m disappointed not to have achieved this, there was a lot going on this year, its on my list for 2019 ON THE LIST of #19for2019
  8. Go to the theatre, I’ve been to see 5 different shows this year, the highlight was Wicked.  ACHIEVED
  9. Meet up woth old friends, whilst we did go to a party in the summer to meet up with old friends, they were Mr S old school friends.  There’s a group of former colleagues I would love to see so its another TO BE CONTINUED
  10.  Play summer sports, well with our summer I was able to play rounders, tennis and cricket in the park for fun, all throughly enjoyable in the hot weather.  ACHIEVED
  11. Look after my feet, at the start of the year I thought this meant pedicures and painted nails.  The reality was doctors appointments, consultants and treatment, this is continuing but I’m counting this as ACHIEVED
  12. Go to a roller disco, one of my more random choices but so much fun, it was much trickier than I remembered! ACHIEVED
  13. Invest in a warm, winter coat, this has made me unbelievably happy. ACHIEVED
  14. Make something on my sewing machine FAILED MISERABLY
  15. Be more creative with the photos on my blog.  I researched photos on my blog and have played with new collages, but with my blog setup and iPhone I’m not sure I can develop this more.  ATTEMPTED
  16. Swing on High Ropes, this was a lot scarier than expected even when I was all starped in, but I did it and gave it a go.  ACHIEVED
  17. Do one scary and exhilarating thing.  This is not a wow moment but despite not being keen on needles, I signed up as a blood donor and have given blood regularly this year, an exhilarating and scary experience! ACHIEVED
  18. Have a holiday inspired manicure, we all went World cup mad and I had England inspired nails for the semi final. ACHIEVED 

So that was 10 out of my 18 fully achieved, others in progress and only one failed miserably.  I loved this little project, it definitely gave me happiness and new opportunities to embrace.  Thank you Gretchin.  


My favourite 18 from 2018 ..

Well it wouldn’t be the new year if there wasn’t a tiny review of the year, quite simply here’s my favourite 18 things from the year …

  1. Film  The Greatest Showman ( I’m allowing this as although it came out in late December 2017 I only saw it at the cinema in 2018) 
  2. Book  Fiction : the Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chboksy   Non fiction: A Life in the Day by Hunter Davies.
  3. Song Anything from the greatest Showman soundtrack, Paloma Faith’s Make your Own Kind of Music and Jess Glynne I’ll be there. 
  4. Television Strictly Come Dancing / It Takes Two 
  5. Podcast Happier by Gretchen Rubin
  6. Bake Pumpkin and Ginger Cake 
  7. Outfit Cherry red shorts, black top, flip flops and sunglasses (thanks to the heatwave of 2018, the summer rocked) 
  8. Family Day Out  Paultons Park
  9. Community Event : Centenary of the Armistice
  10. National Event : World Cup (semi finals!!!) 
  11. Gift given : A hand carved stone of a family of 5 for a special friend on the birth of her baby
  12. Gift received : A Chilly bottle, its amazing for hot and cold drinks and always in my bag. 
  13. Show : National, Wicked      Local, the ballet show’s 50th anniversary performance, stunning.  
  14. Meal out : Thai.  Two different restaurants and two delicious meals.
  15. Radio Show : Desert Island Discs. 
  16. Activity : Kayaking  
  17. Family Short break / holiday : Butlins in July, sunshine, heat, activities and a spa
  18. School event : Christmas Concert

#littleloves ~ December 2018

This is a brief little loves for December as I’ve written a post on Christmas so may repeat myself in my magical moments from this time of year,  No matter how I plan, December is always a busy, busy month and there have been so many special moments this month.

I like to add the sparkles to Christmas, I don’t do big and extravagant but thoughtful little things which I hope my loved ones will appreciate.  One of my special things this month was that our son got a Lego train for Christmas (AMAZING)  We knew he would be very impatient to play with it on Christmas day, so Mr S made it in advance and before packing it I took a photo of Tommy our elf with the completed train.  I added the photo and an elf message that Tommy had made it with Santa into the parcel.  Just a little thing to keep the magic.


I finally finished Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things this month.  I’m not sure how to describe my feelings about the book, I liked it and was willing for a fair ending which I wasn’t sure was possible.  Its a book which leaves more questions than answers about our multicultural society.

To counter the seriousness and angst of Picoult’s book, I also read Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights by Carole Matthews. It was a sentimental, predictable and Christmassy story and just what I needed this month.  Another seasonal title but a much, much better book was One Day in December, a fantastic read in which I just couldn’t work out the happy ending for the four main characters.  There’s real depth and quality in this book, well worth a read but have your tissues ready.



This month was full of Christmas concerts and there is nothing more magical than a Christmas concert with children singing traditional and contemporary carols. I enjoyed every minute.

I also took the children to see the Snowman accompanied by an orchestra playing the soundtrack live.  It was stunning and awe inspiring.  I love the film but the live music was just extraordinary, it really had  all the festive feels.


I love cooking and Christmas dinner is my favourite meal to cook.  I prepare lots in advance so I can enjoy the day more.  However being in the kitchen with Classic Radio playing with all the festive songs, cooking for my family is one of my happy times.  Our main this year was a vegetarian butternut squash, beetroot and goat cheese wreath, it was delicious and I loved the colours (its a WW recipe)


We also made our traditional ginger bread decorations just before Christmas, the sensory delights are perfect in the run up to Christmas.



With all the festive events I was often in a Christmas jumper this month.  I’m building up my collection over the years, and this year’s new addition was pretty cute.  I still can’t persuade Mr S to wear one though!


A lot of Christmas songs ….

The best thing I heard on Christmas day was Little Man asking us ‘Is this a dream?’ because he was so happy.  The cause of his happiness was the present of his Lego train which he has been obsessed with for the past two years ( we thought he was too young last Christmas)  It was a moment of pure joy.


I believe that this is Morgana’s @coffeeworksleep last Little Loves linky so a huge thank you to her for being the driving force and inspiration behind the linky and introducing us all to so many new bloggers and recommendations.  I understand that @mummyheartsyou is our new host, so thank you and here’s to many more interesting and fun posts.


Christmas 2018


As I was looking back on this blog, I noticed how little I have posted this year about Christmas.  So here is my Christmas post for 2018 to be a little record of our Christmas celebrations.  Reflecting now, I realise the big emotional impact on what happened to my Father in law late last Christmas eve when he was taken very poorly at our house and was rushed to hospital, it was an incredibly scary 24 hours.  I now understand that I needed this Christmas to be a happy, peaceful time to stop the feeling of dread, worry and panic from last year.  Fortunately, we achieved this and I also got a new happy memory for late Christmas eve, the news of my friend’s new baby boy.  We are off to visit Grandad tomorrow for a few days as although recovered he is frailer and its easier for us to go to him than vice versa.

This Christmas has been my daughter’s last at primary school.  I’ve been warned that the secondary school does not have as many parent events so I’ve been enjoying every opportunity to share Christmas with her.  She sings (beautifully) in the school choir so I managed through a few favours at work to see every public performance.  There was a private performance at the old people’s home and I got a special message on how kind she had been to the residents, I was very proud.  There is one song which really stands out this year, a new carol, Love Shone Down, its got an encore every time and within the song, Little Miss and a friend sang a verse together that made everyone tingle.

As well as lots of carol services, I’ve also done a couple of Christingle services, one was where the school choir performed, the second for the cubs.   One of my special memories is everyone making a circle around one of the churches and in darkness, holding our lit candles, it was a moment of reflection and peace.   The cubs service was also a candlelit service, there were around 200 real candles burning and it looked so beautiful in the church. I do believe that the religious and spiritual message should always be part of our celebrations.  The childrens school carol service was another joyful celebration, it started with the story of the nativity and then developed into some of our Christmas customs. Little Miss’ class sang ‘Starry Night’ and Little Man’s ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’

We did two new events this year.  The first, we went to a big town for their winter wonderland where in the central park they had one hundred trees all lit and decorated.  It was stunning and awe inspiring, I have so many amazing photos and really they still don’t reflect the beauty and atmosphere from the evening.  I really hope that the town does it again next year as it was definitely the most Christmassy and fun thing we did this year (and free!!)  I also got tickets to see the Snowman with a live orchestra.  The first half wasn’t so suitable for my two as it was a musical version of Little Red Riding Hood and a bit young for them.  However the Snowman was brilliant, we were all transfixed by it, the live orchestra make it something special and the soloist was perfect for Walking on the Air, I had all the festive feels when we left.  I would definitely try to see it again with the live orchestra (although I might skip act 1)

We have also done our old favourite activities this December.  The Christmas tree festival is the perfect way to start Christmas and as usual the church was full with other 40 trees.  Whilst I am proud of our school’s tree, my favourite was so simple and beautiful, a tree dressed in red with handmade poppies and the name of the 99 local soldiers who died in World War 1.  After the solemnness of the commemoration of November, it just felt really right that they were at the centre of this joyful celebration.  The children enjoyed spending their pocket money at the town’s Christmas market which is so festive and a real community event, although incredibly windy this year.  The school where I work had a stall this year and we sold some delightfully crafted wooden plaques the students had made.  As from previous posts, Tommy the elf returned and showed once again that he is one of our favourite new traditions.  We made our gingerbread decorations and again, this is something which started off as just a fun activity to do on our first Christmas but on the children’s insistence has become an integral part of our Christmas. Its also one of those Christmas photos I have from every year to chart the passing years.  On Christmas eve we tracked Santa on Norad, this is so emotional and magical for me, the children in new pyjamas, showered and cuddly, talking about their hopes and wishes, its one of those emotions you want to bottle for those tough days.  Whilst Little Miss is beginning to question Santa she still believes and I think that this was our final Christmas of such magic as she’ll be at secondary school next Christmas.  I am grateful that it lasted this long and we got 9 Santa Christmases.  Personally, I still believe.


At home, I decorated the house throughout.  I concluded that I prefer making the little tableaux around the house than the main tree.  I’m not sure what it was about our tree this year, new position, fake rather than real, the childrens’ paper chains but I didn’t get the wow factor from it as I like.  I think its time to sort out the decorations for next year and perhaps a new fresh tree.  I loved the wreath, again another make from my students at school.

This has been a Christmas to create new memories to counter the scary ones from last year.  Christmas day was just the four of us, with our neighbours popping over to see the children and exchanging gifts, a delicious meal, family games and then when everyone had gone to bed Call the Midwife which I sobbed through!  On Boxing day, we walked down to the prom to watch the Boxing day swim and then welcomed my cousin in the afternoon whilst Mr S followed the boxing day football.  It was just perfect for us.


Tommy Weeks 2 and 3

A quick update on the adventures of Tommy who has been busy this year. My favourite set this year so far is the skittles rainbow 🌈. It worked brilliantly. Some of the scenarios also relate to special events of the day, thus Tommy bringing Christmas jumpers for a trip out to The Winter Wonderland, hidden in the school bags with hats for the school Christmas lunch etc.. I still write a letter from Tommy everyday so have a lovely little memory bank of each Christmas.