January 2019 #littleloves

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And finally it’s time to breathe, what a month January turned out to be.  I had it planned as a month to prepare for the year in front and to also start some new projects but of course life took over from my neatly arranged plans.  It was overwhelming at times but I have at least finished the month feeling a little more in control.

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I think the best indicator of my life is my reading record.  Last year I read nearly a book a week, this month I struggled to finish one.  Reading is my me time, I don’t watch a huge amount of tv but do like to settle down with a book in the evenings.  If I’m not reading then something in my life isn’t quite in balance ( I blame Ofsted this month)

The book I did finish was Jayne Hardy’s The Self Care Project, the irony of the content isn’t lost on me in this busy month.  It was a really good read full of great advice, I appreciated that she doesn’t see self care as having a massage but for example doing life admin to help you feel in control etc..  It’s well worth a read.

This year I haven’t set myself a Good Reads challenge for a specific number of books but one in which I would like to read or reread a classic every month.  Whilst I didn’t finish my classic this month, I did start it and am really enjoying I capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.

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At the beginning of the month in the school holidays, the children and I went to the cinema to see Mary Poppins Returns.  It was such a magical film and I loved every dance, song and sparkle, a new family classic.

I also finally watched Ladybird, a film which had much critical acclaim last year.  I really liked the film, a bit Indy in style but thoughtful and from memory pretty realistic about the angst of teen life.

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It was all about the jumpers this month, layers and layers.  I love this star jumper from Next last autumn, it’s been perfect with jeans and has been keeping me warm.

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Photo from the Next website, definitely not me!

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For me cold Saturday afternoons are all about being in the kitchen and cooking.  I like a bit of a theme and as South America is one of the school topics, we made a Mexican feast.  Everything was made from scratch, salsa, guacamole, refried beans etc.. with Little Miss as my sous chef. Unfortunately I forgot to take any photos, as it was a really impressive table.  Cooking is one of my favourite ways to spend time together, the kitchen is the heart of our home.

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I love a good podcast and I’ve had a few car journeys this month to enjoy the new podcast Sentimental Garbage, a ‘cast looking at brilliant chick lit books, including Bridget Jones Diary, Watermelon etc..  It’s fabulous, witty and just makes you want to read more, a great new find.

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Despite being a crazy month, there were some real highlights in January, seeing the new Mary Poppins film, a family mountain bike ride in the forest, a trip to a local animal sanctuary etc..  I’m hoping for a quieter February and a relaxing half term.

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Im hoping to link up with @mummyheartsyou the new host of Little Loves and be inspired by all the contributors to the linky.

 

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#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.

READ

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.

WATCHED

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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.

MADE

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)

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

WORE 

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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!

HEARD

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.

AND FINALLY 

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.

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Poppies, Dragons and Winter Coats November’s #littleloves

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This November has been a lovely little month, we’ve had fireworks and camp fires, a trip to the theatre, family visits and the general whirl of life.  This is the month when I get organised for Christmas, I prep up in November so I can relax and enjoy all the Christmas fun in December, so its been evenings with lists and jobs.

img_5379-1 The month started with a fireworks night with the cubs, there is something special about being wrapped up on a clear night, with stars shining brightly and watching pretty fireworks in the sky, its a British tradition which I love.

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I took Little Man to the theatre this month, I would have taken both children but Little Miss had a diary date.  We saw the play ‘You’ve got Dragons’ based on the book of the same title.  The dragons in the title are your worries and it was exceptionally well done to help the young audience understand their fears and how they can ‘tame’ them.  I was so impressed on a number of levels, firstly the cast had two deaf actors so it was fully signed and had lots of screens to help understand the story too, it was great to see an inclusive play.  The children also got little gifts as they left to help them be more mindful, a wristband, sheet of activities and the all important sticker! Little Man did grasp the theme of the play and has since spoken about his worries with me and we’ve come up with ideas to help.

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My final watch this month was our town’s remembrance parade and short service at the war memorial.  Our town embraced the centenary of the armistice and there were poppies and flags everywhere for remembrance.  The town’s shops and businesses were asked to place a poster in their window to remember one of the ninety nine local men killed in World war 1.  The results were stunning, with many doing extra research of ‘their’ soldier and making very poignant displays.  Little Man paraded with the cubs and took it very seriously.  I felt truly moved as I watched the wreaths being laid.  There was a large gathering around the memorial, and as we stood in silence as dusk fell and the gentle waves lapped on the beach, there was a profound feeling of peace and gratitude.

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img_5380-1This month I really enjoyed a 5 part serialisation of Michelle Obama’s book Becoming.  Its available on the BBC Sounds app.  Michelle’s warmth, wit and intelligence shine through the series and although this was just highlights, I am looking forward to reading the book soon.

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img_5375-1Despite reading 42 books so far this year, I have not finished a book this month.  I’m currently reading Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult and am finding it uncomfortable but compulsive reading. Many evenings I’ve been planning Christmas where I have read a few recipe books and magazines for foodie inspiration.

img_5384-1Although the majority of the month has been unseasonably warm, we got a few stormy days and I have loved wearing my new winter coat.  To buy a warm, winter coat was one of my #18for2018, I always intend to buy a winter coat but can never find one, put if off because of price, or think that my current one will last one more season.  In the Beast from the East earlier this year, I realised my coat was not warm enough and in a rash move, recycled it, it was one way to ensure I bought a new one.  My coat is a technical design for temperatures upto – 20, it is so cosy with the biggest hood and I am so happy with it.

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img_5378-1Its been a month of homemade casseroles, soups and meals to warm body and soul.  I’ve also made lots of lists, orders, plans all checked and ticked in my Christmas book.  It keeps me sane and ready to enjoy December.

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So November was a memorable month full of lovely local events.  I’m ready and excited for December, my diary is bursting with special events and I can’t wait for the sparkle, lights and songs to begin.

#littleloves : October 2018

img_5382October turned out to be a wonderful month.  The weather was unseasonably mild, full of bright sunshine and blue skies which made a beautiful contrast to the rich red, yellows and browns of the falling leaves.  We spent a lot of our time this month outside, participating in a ‘beat the street’ initiative and then at half term enjoying lots of nature walks, trails and even crate stacking.  Crate stacking is something I wasn’t familiar with before but turned out to be a lot of fun, if not a little scary at great height, balanced on a crate (you wear a harness for safety)

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Halloween decorations 2018

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There’s a theme to my non fiction reading this month, joy!  A book which really had me reflecting was Ingrid Fetell Lee’s Joyful : The surprising power of ordinary things to create extraordinary happiness.  It is so interesting and if you have an interest in interior design its a must read, with so much about shape, colour, texture.  I made lots of notes on this book and its made me think how to develop our home.  I also read Susan Calman’s book Sunny Side Up : A story of kindness and joy, it is so uplifting and positive, just what’s needed on dark nights.

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This month I finally got to use my Christmas present from 2017, tickets for Wicked.  It was amazing and so different to my expectations.  I loved the way it developed the story, I was expecting a good vs evil story, but the stunning plot has left me thinking about it for many hours since.   I appreciated the links to the Wizard of Oz which complemented the story too.  The music, costumes, lighting etc.. were stunning and it made for the perfect day out with Little Miss.  We really made an occasion of the day, new outfits, dinner out together, I loved it and am planning our next trip to the theatre.

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So it was half term and the project homework was to make a Victorian invention.  Little Man chose the London underground.   In our model, we created London on top of a shoe box and when you opened the box, you discovered the underground.  I’m proud of our creativity!  Little Man made an underground train for the tunnel and there is a hole on the side so you can peer into the tunnel too.

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Halloween is a bit of a tricky time for us as Little Man gets really scared.  Rather than trick or treat, I made a treasure hunt, inspired by Little Man’s request for an Easter egg hunt for Halloween.  It included the traditional swinging sticky pudding, apple bobbing and lots of treats hidden around the house to find.  It was a lot of fun and enjoyed by all of us.

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I also made one of my favourite bakes ever, a pumpkin and ginger cake.  The flavours were perfect together and a brilliant way to use up pumpkin from the carvings.

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Halloween lunch box, including the pumpkin and ginger cake.

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I do like to theme an outfit for an event, I had hoped to wear emerald green shoes to Wicked but my poorly foot meant it was back to Converse pumps.  However, I did manage to coordinate for a trip to Slimbridge Wetlands, where I wore my swan jumper!

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Well after our theatre trip, my big listen has been to the Wicked soundtrack, we know the words well enough to sing along now.  A you can see I love everything Wicked this month.

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Just to leave a few photos here of some beautiful days we’ve enjoyed this half term.

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Thanks to Morgana for the inspiration behind this linky.

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September #littleloves

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September for me as a mum and teacher is a month of new beginnings, new routines and an intense time at work.  Work has been tough this month, there have been evenings when I’ve been in bed at the same time as the children but home and work life are now both settling down into a new routine.  Mr S also has a new job,  he’s enjoying his new role and with both of us working part time, it does make home life easier.

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No matter how busy I am, I always to try and fit in 5 minutes of reading anywhere, whether it be waiting for a child to finish a club, at swimming lessons, relaxing after tea (I call it role modelling!) I write this as despite a busy month, I have managed to read 4 books and have nearly finished a fifth.    Two were brilliant, Mike Gayle’s The man I Think I Know a story of two old school friends who meet up unexpectedly in circumstances neither would ever have envisaged.  It’s a brilliant story of male friendship, and is emotional and life affirming.  I also really enjoyed Alain de Botton’s The Course of Love.  Its a really different style of book, a love story with a commentary, as the author says, we all focus so much on the beginning but what about the course of a love story, the nitty gritty of daily life.  The book analyses a relationship from meeting to middle age and there are many bits familiar to anyone in a long term relationship where you agree, laugh and get angry with the characters. 

This month I’ve had cinema dates with both my children, I saw the Incredibles 2 with Little Miss and Hotel Transylvania 3 with Little Man.  I loved the Incredibles, another genius Pixar film on so many levels. 

The autumn tv schedule has also begun and two of my favourite programmes, Strictly Come Dancing and The Great British Bake Off have returned to make me very happy. For me television needs to light and relaxing, I may be one of the few not to have watched any episodes of Bodyguard this month, its too dark and demanding for my Sunday nights, which as a teacher is invariably spent on prep for the week.  

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This month began with a lovely family trip out picking blackberries, it was an abundant harvest and I have made crumbles, cakes and even jam with the fruit.  It was my first attempt at jam and it was a lot easier than I expected. 

Little Miss and I both made bakes for a MacMillan event, as her class organised a coffee morning which raised more than £350 for the charity.  I made Blondies and they were one of the best bakes I have ever made, it was a BBC Good Food recipe, simple but so moreish.  Little Miss made red velvet cupcakes with a very generous icing!

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Finally, I created a fancy dress costume for my son’s school trip to a Victorian house where they took part in role plays in a school house, a kitchen etc..  I managed to find an old tweed cap in our dressing up box at work, so I borrowed it for the day, we had grey shorts and a white shirt and then I sourced a waistcoat in a charity shop.  I have got some great fancy dress finds in charity shops.  The costume looked great and only cost me £2.

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September has generally been a sunny, warm month with the odd very cold and wet day randomly thrown into the mix.  Its been a month for layers as you’re not sure how the weather will develop through the day.  I did a little shopping trip and bought a stripy midi skirt from H&M, its not my normal style but I loved it when I tried it on and feel great wearing it.  Clothes should always make you happy.

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Most nights I listen to a podcast in bed and this month, I have discovered a new podcast, Books of Your Life with Elizabeth in which she invites a guest to recommend three books which they discuss.  The recommendations have been really interesting and a few have been added to my to read list. 

I’m looking forward to October as I finally get to enjoy my 2017 Christmas present from my parents, tickets to see Wicked.  Its also half term and it will be good to relax and catch up with family and friends, my social life was put on hold in September as I was just too tired to go out, I’m feeling better now and have some dates pencilled in the diary, there’s lots to catch up on. 

Thank you to Morgana for Little Loves

August #littleloves

So August was the month we needed to relax and just ‘be’ after a hectic few months. It was a quiet August but it suited us perfectly, at the start of the month we had a long weekend at Butlins and then later a holiday in Cornwall. The rest of the time was spent simply pottering around at home.

Little Miss and I finally got to go the cinema to see Mamma Mia Here we Go Again. I loved it for what it was, a cheesy, feel good film with a cracking soundtrack. Yes the plot was a bit flimsy but it was escapism and sometimes you just need 2 hours to smile, laugh and lose yourself in a film. The audience all cheered and clapped at the end and everyone including us left a little more summer sparkly.

I enjoyed watching the children trying new activities this month, Junior Segways, a High Rope course, Aqua jets, an aqua assault course. Summer is for new adventures.

I don’t have a credit for this image but it’s an excellent reminder of being the change you want to see.

It’s not a surprise that during my month off I read so many more books than normal. I read in the evenings as I normally do but also read in bed in the morning as I still wake up early and then take a reading break at lunchtime for 20 minutes. I only wish I could keep these habits up during term time. This month I’ve read 8 books and there have been some cracking reads. I gave the books on the top line of the photo 5* reviews on Good Books, they are all brilliant in very different ways. The Perks of Being a Wallflower has such strong characters and storyline, Notes on a Nervous Planet discussed the worries of our society whilst This is Going to Hurt is such a powerful snapshot of our wonderful nhs.

The children have also been reading lots, they did the summer reading challenge and gave just got their medals.

Another month of shorts and t-shirts, flip flops and sunglasses.

Little Miss wore earrings for the first time as she had her ears pierced after years of persuasive arguments and also enjoyed lilac highlights in her hair as a summer holiday treat.

A lot of our garden vegetables have been harvested this month and I’ve been trying to use our fresh food in recipes. Sometimes it’s simple recipes which are the tastiest, frittata with home grown peas and spring onions was delicious and it was accompanied by a salad containing our beetroot.

I like to plan ahead in August so have been making lists and priorities for the rest of the year. I’ve lots to look forward to.

After Mamma Mia, we’ve been playing the soundtrack and other Abba classics in the car, I like a good sing a long as I drive. Happier by Gretchen Ruben is one of my favourite podcasts and she’s done two great episodes this month on your signature scent and a Labor Day special themed on work, these are always interesting and inspiring.

So now it’s time for back to school. I am a summer girl so feel a bit sad as the season ends but it’s been the best summer with lots of happy memories and I’m ready to embrace the autumn and all its delights.

Thanks to Morgana for creating the Linky

Sunshine, shows and beach days – July’s #littleloves

Hello and welcome to July’s Little loves, it’s all about the sunshine and shows this month.

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This month, I have tried to give myself a few minutes every day to sit and relax and for me the simplest way to do this is to open my Kindle and read.  On these hot, sunny days its been a little treat to sit in the garden with a cooler breeze in the evenings.

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One of my favourite reading spots, the grown ups hideaway.

I don’t know where I found the time ( although I don’t watch Love Island) but I managed to read four books this month with my favourites being The Party by Elizabeth Day and Sheila O’Flanagan’s What happened that night.  It’s funny how a theme develops in the books you read, this month 3 books had a similar plot line related to a significant night in the characters lives.

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It seems so long ago but I really enjoyed watching the World Cup this month with Little Man who loves his football.  It felt like it was the dawning of a new era with England, a new team ethos, support for each other and a careful and thoughtful manager, it was great to be an England supporter and Little Man and I are looking forward to Euro 2020.

The children have been treading the boards at our local theatre this month.  Both appeared in their school’s play and were practicing their songs in the preceding weeks.  Little Miss had an acting role and has such stage prescence and confidence, Little Man as a younger pupil was in the chorus which suited him just fine and he loved his costume and painted face.

However the big event of the month has been the dance studio’s anniversary show.  The cast have been practicing since Christmas and July was an intense period for all, Little Miss as a dancer and myself as a matron.  I had guidelines to follow and cues to learn too! The show was stunning, it was hard to believe that it was an amateur performance with the quality of the dancing, set design, lighting etc… It was on at our local theatre for 5 performances and was sold out each evening.  Given the population of our town is 10k and around 2k people came to see it over the run, it gives you some idea of the well deserved excellent reputation the dance studio has in the community.  I saw the show on the opening night and it really was one of the most beautiful ballets I have seen.

img_5378Cooking has been limited due to the heat and number of show rehearsals this month.  However I have been making an effort every weekend to make something special and following a meal out at an amazing Thai restaurant with friends I experimented making curries with some new flavours and ingredients at home, all was received very well and I enjoy that little bit of creativity with food.

img_5384Sun hats, sun glasses, swimsuits, sundresses, shorts and t-shirts; Summer of 2018 thank you very much for this wonderful heatwave and the opportunity to wear my summer wardrobe in full.

Oh and I also gave myself a little England manicure in preparation for the semi final.

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img_5380One of the highlights this month was a night out at a festival.  Last year my friend held a mini festival in her garden and her son and his band played for us. This year, it was moved to a larger outdoor venue and gave the opportunity for more local, youth bands to play.  It was brilliant with some original songs but mixed in with Bowie, U2, Rolling Stones, Kinks covers etc..  The talent was unbelievable, the teenagers are so gifted and enthusiastic and just showed that nothing beats live music. The festival theme was fully embraced with wristbands as we entered and merchandise for sale which all produced a healthy donation to a local charity.

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The view from the festival, no neighbours to disturb here! As night fell the venue was decorated with fairy lights and it all looked magical. 

  img_5386I loved July but it was busy, in addition to the above we’ve been to Paultons Park, had visits from family and tried to squeeze in as much time as possible on the beach.  This year August is all about the R’s, rest, relax, recharge.

Thank you to Morgana for her monthly linkie and all those who join in

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