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

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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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#Littleloves – June 2018

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June 2018 has been a very special month, the sun has shined daily, there have been lots of celebrations and special events and even our national cricket and football teams have been winning with record scores.  June is definitely our family’s busiest month of the year and whilst its been packed, this has been a fantastic month in which we seem to have fitted so much in.  There’s no way I’ll be able to fit it in all into this post but this month we’ve enjoyed playing in lots of cricket matches, a visit to a water park, a roller disco, a residential trip for each child, school day trips, a weekend away in Bristol which included open air swimming, pedalos and a friend’s party, school sports day, a primary schools concert, learning to kayak and of course visits to the beach.  June you really rocked!

READ 

brillAs I started this post, I didn’t think that I would have much to write in this section, however when I looked at my Good Reads record, I’ve finished four books this month.  I was on holiday for a few days at the start of the month so I think I must have done most of my reading then. I have read The Holiday Cottage by the Sea by Holly Martin, perfect escapism, Its not what you think by Chris Evans, an autobiography which had me reminiscing about the 90s, Dear Mrs Bird, a period drama and My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante.  My Brilliant Friend has been on my to read list for ages and it really didn’t disappoint.  It wasn’t what I was expecting but is the story of two friends as they grow up in their small Italian quarter and their neighbours. The story is so engaging and beautifully written, a 5 star read, full of complex characters and relationships.  My Brilliant Friend is the first of a quartet and I’m hoping to download number 2 for my summer holiday.  With this heat, the sun and the chirping birds I’ve been waking up early around 5ish and have taken to reading in bed, its a little luxury which is really rather nice!

WATCHED

So for the first time in a few years, I got to watch Sports day on the planned day, last year it took 3 attempts due to poor weather.  I do love Sports day, its so simple and fun.  My favourite race is the whole school relay when the four school houses compete against each other, its a feat of incredible logistics to get everyone in the correct position from Reception to Year 6 but the cooperation and comradery of the race gets me every year!

I also watched another school event where all the local primaries work together to put on a concert. Little Miss was in the choir, her school sang Can’t Stop the Feeling and then they joined in with the big choir for a few songs too.  To my surprise, as she hadn’t mentioned it, Little Miss also played the calypso drums in a song which just sounded and felt like summer.  It was a lovely little evening.

I do love my football and have been following the World Cup. Little Man is really into the World cup with all his stickers, wearing his England top with pride.  He was beside himself watching England win 6-1, children just don’t know the despair we’ve felt over the years, he is so confident that England will win the world cup and I really hope he’s right.

MADE

img_2357We have enjoyed lots of days out this month and I have made a lot of picnics.   For Christmas we were gifted this picnic rucksack and it has been one of the best presents ever, our picnics have gone from sandwiches to cheese and biscuits, salads, fruits, quiches etc..

WORE

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It was shorts as much as possible this month, I can’t wear them for work where its been simple sundresses and summer skirts but shorts, a top and flip flops has been my go to outfit this month.  I did go to a lovely party, so wore a simple cream crochet dress and jewellery for the special occasion.  I also wore some different items, roller skates for the roller disco (scary!) and a life jacket for my kayak lesson (fab)

HEARD

I am enjoying listening to Gary Davies’ Sounds of the 80s on Radio 2.  I often listen to it on my Sunday morning run and love his knowledge and choices of songs.  We used to listen to Gary Davies at our 6th form and even went to a Radio 1 road show to see him so its nice to hear him back on the radio, ooh Gary Davies.

I am also hearing a lot of Little Man singing 3 Lions which is so cute, I think its the best football song ever and brings back very happy memories of Euro 96 and a brilliant summer.

AND FINALLY

Fortunately, July is looking a lot more relaxed apart from the big school and ballet productions.  Little Miss has been working on the ballet show since Christmas and its on for 5 nights some of which I am matroning. I am looking forward to seeing it, the glimpses I’ve seen at rehearsal pick ups have been amazing.  Her and Little Man are both in the school play at the local theatre too, its a fun story and they’ve both been singing the songs at home to practice.  Next month also sees the final Beavers and Brownies for my two as they move to the next sections. both have given the children brilliant opportunities and it will be sad to say thank you and good bye.

I am going to link up with Morgana this month as I hope I will have the time to read and comment on the other writers’ posts this week. I only try to link up when I can do this although I do write a post monthly.  Thanks to Morgana for an inspiring and interesting linky.

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#Littleloves the May edition …

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It was a joy to welcome May this year, after the long, hard winter May delighted us all with long, hot, sunny days and the promise of a beautiful summer.  A seaside town starts to come alive in the summer and this month saw a big boost to the town’s economy with two amazing bank holidays and the town bursting with visitors.  We’ve had some stunning days on the beach this month and the best of all, our first trip of the year to the beach after school, there is something special about running down to the beach and splashing away the school day.  Summer sports have started in earnest this month and we’ve spent many an hour at the cricket club.  May also saw me dancing around a May pole, playing the first rounders’ game of the summer, exploring local history and finishing with a few family days in Devon at half term, its been a busy month.  There have been so many lovely moments in May and here are just some of my little loves from this month …

img_5375 I’ve noticed my reading time has reduced this month, no more cosy nights snuggled on the sofa.  However I have read two books and am working my way quickly through my third.  One book was a work related title so whilst fascinating took a little more time and effort, especially as I was highlighting and scribbling so many notes at the side.  The book is Dana Boyd’s Its Complicated which explores teenagers’ use of social media, there is so much to say about this book and to anyone with teenagers I would strongly recommend reading it.  Its hard to summarise such enlightening content but after reading it I feel reassured and trusting of our young people online and perhaps there are a few questions we need to ask ourselves!

The second book was The New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchan, which starts in the 1970s and the discovery of a body buried for 30 years ago. The book focuses on who the body could be and why through a brilliant plot.  I didn’t guess the identity of the victim and thought it was a very clever and stylish story.

img_5379So its cricket season and I have watched a lot of practices and matches.  Little Man’s team is undefeated so far and his happy place in life is at the crease waiting to bat.  I tend to watch the matches quite intently as I do score some matches and every ball needs to be recorded accurately.

Due to the clash with a cricket match, I wasn’t able to see the Royal wedding live but I did catch up so I could see the dresses, flowers etc.. I like the detail of a wedding, royal or not.  I loved the style of the royal wedding, the flowers were so simple and beautiful and Meghan was stunning.  There also seemed to be lots of little details from the couple which helped make it their own celebration rather than a traditional royal wedding.

Its been a while since I made an effort to follow a series but I am loving A Very English Scandal with Hugh Grant as Jeremy Thorpe.  Its an unbelievable true story and is highly entertaining, its definitely not a dry, political drama.

And finally, I also got to watch my children enjoy time with their cousin.  At 20, she is revered by my daughter for her style, coolness and general niceness, so to have her accompany us on a day out at Crealy and go on all the rides with the children was a treat for all of us.  I didn’t let her have all the fun and enjoyed the water rides too.

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May’s seasonal foods from a poster in my kitchen by Liz Cook. 

I don’t know if its the sun but the fresh seasonal food at the moment is delicious.  I’ve enjoyed cooking recipes with the ingredients such as asparagus risotto, broad bean and mint soup, rhubarb crumble (straight from my father-in-law’s garden) There’s also the simple but perfect taste of fresh Jersey royals with butter and seasoning, sometimes simplicity is perfection.

 

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This is a frustrating category this month, as after being in a lot of pain, I finally went to see my doctor and after having an x-ray on my foot, it appears that I may have arthritis. I have worn Converse pumps and flip flops all month as it is all I can wear without pain.  I do love my Converse but I think if its all I can wear I’m going to have to invest in a few new colours.

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I haven’t really been making a conscious decision what to listen to this month on Spotify and I’ve been relying on playlists and old favourites when I’m doing my gym work.  However I have heard lots of good news, an all clear from cancer, the birth of a healthy baby boy and an upcoming family wedding, hooray for happy news.

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So, if I thought May was busy it has nothing on the next two months. I am being very organised at present with lots of lists to tick off as I want to enjoy every little thing in the coming months, summer we’re coming for you ….

I am writing this post with Morgana’s inspiration

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April 2018 : Shine, Peter Rabbit and meringues #littleloves

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Its surprising to remember that the month began with Easter on April 1st. It seems a long time ago!

So April continued to be a grey, cold, dismal month apart from 4 blissful days when we fast forwarded a season and enjoyed hot, sunny days.  It was a little break in which we all slipped into shorts and t-shirts and spent as much time as possible with the warm sun on our faces, at the beach, in the garden or riding through the forest.

April saw our two week Easter holiday and as well as the Easter traditions, we climbed walls (literally not figuratively!) met Dippy the dinosaur, hit a few tennis balls, relaxed in jacuzzis and steam rooms, laughed at Peter Rabbit, revisited the old ships at Portsmouth Historic dockyard, spent time with grandparents and played with friends.  The weather was dreary but we made the holidays sparkle! 

img_5375I have read an eclectic mix of books this month, one thriller, Before we Met about a husband’s mysterious past, one book, My Name is Leon in which main character is in foster care, another on a transgender child This Is How It Always Is and a non fiction title Shine.  All were good books and the two about the children were heart breaking and thought provoking.  The characters stay with you and as a consequence of the books, you hope for a little more kindness, acceptance and understanding in our world.

Shine by Andy Cope asks very pertinent questions about modern life and why are we all so busy?  I found myself agreeing with so much and resolving to make little changes, as Cope describes it ‘ Shining.  That’s having focus, clarity, imagination, creativity, energy and resilience’ 

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Surprisingly as it was a holiday month, we only went to the cinema once and that was to see Peter Rabbit. It was a modern interpretation featuring the Beatrix Potter characters, but it did amuse me and the children and the images of the Lake District were stunning.  Television wise I’ve not watched a great deal, but as a family we’ve all been enjoying Revolution on Sky, a competition among skaters, BMXers and skateboarders with courses, tricks and races.  Needless to say as a consequence, Little Man has become even more adventurous at the skate park! 

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Little Miss and my kitchen adventures continued this month, she’s such a talented sous chef. Our April challenge was to make a special dessert for Easter Sunday lunch and we chose meringues.  The BBC Good Food recipe was perfect and we all enjoyed making and eating our berry meringues.

img_5384After such a cold winter, it was wonderful to pop on my favourite red shorts, flip flops and sunglasses for our mini heatwave.  I think when you live at the seaside you dress more casually and apart from work, I’m in my shorts as much as possible in the summer months. I’ve had my red pair for years and there is just something so comfortable and relaxing about pulling them on and heading outside.  I love the hoodie and shorts look for the cooler evenings too. 

 

 

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These are similar to my much loved and worn red shorts, whilst my favourite flip flops are slowing falling apart, I need them!

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img_5380I’ve noticed with all the driving in the car this month that my children are changing my radio stations to something a little more hip or playing a Spotify playlist.  I’m enjoying a lot of their music but without a doubt my favourite song this month has been Paloma Faith’s Make your Own Kind of Music, this is such a fabulous, feel good song to be played loud and proud. 

April was a family focused and busy month despite the weather ( have I mentioned that?!)  May appears to be shaping up as a month of working towards summer events, Little Miss is busy with rehearsals for two summer shows and Little Man is training for the cricket season.  I’m happy for it to be a quieter month before my diary explodes in June, July and August.  Summer at the seaside is always busy and fun.  

Thank you to Morgana for the inspiration for #littleloves 

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March #littleloves

So a new strategy with #littleloves as I love the concept but have struggled to find the time to write weekly, I’m now going to try and write it monthly so I still get to record what I’ve enjoyed most during the month.

March has been a funny old month, after a grey, cold and wet winter I had hoped that we would see the first signs of spring this month, but March turned out to be the most extreme month of the winter.  We had two big snowfalls in three weeks and arctic weather which left us all so cold and miserable.  I’ve lots of books on my post this month as it really was a month for keeping warm and cosy indoors.

Away from the weather which dominated many conversations, March was a busy month in our household, there was lots of dance this month as Little Miss had exam classes, a ballet exam, show rehearsals and normal classes, our boys had a weekend at Grandad’s and we had a surprise tea out with my parents who were on a day out nearby and made a detour to see us.  I also finally joined the gym after threatening to do it all winter, I’m loving it and am feeling so much better for it.

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As I mentioned earlier, its been a good month for reading, lots of cosy nights in to escape the arctic weather outside.  I’ve completed A Life in the Day by Hunter Davies, I feel Bad about my Neck by Nora Ephron, Some Kind of Wonderful by Giovanna Fletcher, Happy by Fearne Cotton and Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift.  Hunter Davies’ autobiography was my favourite book of the month, but I also want to mention Giovanni Fletcher, it was the first book of hers that I’ve read and I really enjoyed it.  At bedtime, Little Miss and I are reading Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2, it is as brilliant as the first and so inspiring and powerful, such an original and simple idea. I have also been reading the daily essays in Simple Abundance, each day is a piece on how to live an authentic life. I read this book 20 years ago and it had a big impact on me then. However I then lent it to a friend and lost my original, so it’s been a delight to revisit it.

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I finally got to watch The Greatest Showman at the cinema this month, even though it came out in December.  The film didn’t disappoint, I love a film that is visually stunning and packed full of music and the Greatest Showman had it all.  I’ve been playing the soundtrack a lot and This is Me has become a bit of an anthem in our house.  I did a little research on Barnum after and he wasn’t quite as nice as the character in the film but the poetic licence made for a fantastic film.

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I made the children’s costumes for World Book day this month and then it got rearranged due to a couple of snow days (the children have had a few days off this month thanks to snow and broken boilers) When it finally took place, Little Miss was the White Witch from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Little Man The Wimpy Kid.  Little Miss loves to dress up and we spent lots of time, crimping her hair, spraying it blue and then adding glitter spray too, she also had lots of glitter and blue lipstick on her face to complete her look.  Little Man went for the simplest option as he doesn’t quite share his sister’s enthusiasm for dressing up.

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This month, I also got to make snowballs and a snowman on the second snow fall.  We were house bound on the first snow fall because of black ice, it wasn’t much fun and a bit disappointing however on the second occasion, we just had snow and spent a brilliant morning in the garden, happy days.

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This month, it was all about the layers and hats and scarves.  It was so cold.  Next winter, I am going to buy the warmest coat I can find with the biggest pockets and cosiest hood.

This was the month, when I finally replaced all my old make up and have been wearing cruelty free brands after discovering that many companies test on animals as consequence of selling their products in China.  I have replaced my favourite Estee Lauder foundation with the Body Shop version and it is really impressive.  I’ve bought a couple of lipsticks this month and just that little pop of colour has lifted my mood on some mornings.

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As I’m back in the gym I’ve been making some cheesy playlists on my Spotify account, its what helps to keep me happy as I exercise. I just hope that my headphones never fall out for everyone to hear my choices!  Wham have been a guilty pleasure this month.

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06tk8hw

I also listened by accident to this drama on Madness’ Sugg’s life , I was looking for Women’s Hour on the radio 4 schedule and chanced upon this instead. It’s brilliant and has a strong message about family, as well as some atmospheric acoustic songs.

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So March is over and now its Easter and the holidays.  I have a few ideas for the holidays but until I have a few dates confirmed I can’t make definitive plans, not great for the planner and organiser in me but I’m trying hard to simply go with the flow…

#littleloves is the linkie created by Morgana at coffee work sleep repeat

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