#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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A life in the day, snow and an arctic expedition … #littleloves

This time last week, I was planning a rather uneventful week, looking forward to World Book day and just the normal rhythm of life.  That seems so long ago now, the week proved to be very memorable as we had snow and we never get snow in our little seaside town.  Not only did we have blizzards, thick lying snow, we also get the most vicious freezing rain which meant our whole town became an ice rink leaving many of us house bound and then it was high tides too and a temporary flood barrier had to be installed to protect the town, so quite an eventful week thanks to the Beast from the East and Storm Emma!  As well as all the drama from the weather, I got sick and had to take time off work, again this never happens, a couple of days in bed did the trick and I’m feeling much better now with just an annoying cough.  Despite all the drama of this week I finish this week feeling really positive, sometimes difficult weeks bring out the best in people.

img_5375I managed to read a book this week, illness and the weather were conducive to this success.  It was a fantastic read, the autobiography of the journalist and writer Hunter Davies.  It appeared on my Kindle deal of the day with some rave reviews so I popped it in the basket and what a choice.  Davies’ career started in the 60s and continues today so there is a great mix of social history, culture and ‘celebrity’ in the book. Its so easy and entertaining to read, you just want to keep going on to the next chapter.  His love for his family and devotion to his wife, the novelist Margaret Forster shine through.  It was great to read something different and a non fiction title for a change, variety is the spice of life!

hunterimg_5379Well this week it was simply about watching the weather, the snow, the skies, the sea all were mesmerising.  Until I lived at the seaside I never realised the subtle daily changes in the sea and how it is never the same shade twice.  The surf has been incredible on the sea this week and it has been quite hypnotic looking out to the waves.  My office looks out onto the sea and there are times I just got lost in the view.

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img_5378So the year when I finally aced it for World Book day, we had a snow day at the children’s school!  Fortunately all the WBD events are being rearranged so the children will be able to parade in their costumes.  I have a bit of bug bear about WBD fancy dress, I like to go old school and do the lets raid the fancy dress box, old clothes and mum’s accessories to create a look.  I read an excellent comment that the costume shouldn’t cost more than a book and I’m pleased that we were able to do this, my only expense was £3 for the sequin fabric cut off which I have plans to reuse after WBD.

Little Miss is going as the White witch from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  It took a lot to persuade her to wear a dress, this really is not her look at present! For the costume, we made a wardrobe out from an old shoe box, when you open it up the back is a sparkly blue paper and decorated with Welcome to Narnia.  Little Miss also decided to make some pompom snow balls from some old wool for her snow, if only we had known we would have had the real thing!

 

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The lion, witch and wardrobe, my 80s Madonna gloves and pompom snowballs.

 

Little Man was quite reluctant to embrace some of my ideas, he would have been so cute as Paddington, but liked the idea of the Wimpy Kid, so we made a mask for him.

img_0991img_5384I  can honestly say that I have never worn as many clothes as I did on my walk to and from work on Thursday which was the worst day for us.  It was so cold, it was only my eyes visible hidden under hats, scarves, layers upon layers.  I mistakenly took my glove off to answer my phone and seriously thought i was going to get frost bite, it was so cold.  On the way home, I walked through crazy snow conditions, snow, wild winds etc.. it was scary and took 40 minutes rather than the normal 15.  As I wrote in my last blog post snow days aren’t an option at our school so we all try really hard to get in.  I felt like a proper explorer, ruck sack with supplies, lots of clothes etc..

img_5380When I was poorly in bed I listened to a radio 4 play, An Instinct for Kindness, a true story of a woman’s journey to Dignitas.  It was superb, sad, thought provoking and very dignified.  Its well worth a listen.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09snwmr

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Well after this week its hard to predict what next week will bring… Hopefully the ice will thaw, we’ll get out of the house and all routines will be back in place.  I am so over the snow, I like routine, order and predictability!

Thanks to Morgana for hosting #littleloves and i hope all the contributors have had safe, snow weeks.

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Books, books, books, the Winter Olympics and Pete Tong #littleloves

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Its been a while since I participated in Little Loves.  I think I paused as it became the only blog post I was writing and I wanted to try and develop the content of my other posts.  However I’ve missed writing it so even if it’s not weekly I’m back on the linkie with a little cultural record of my likes.  As it’s been a while I’m going to attempt a bit of a round up of the past few weeks.

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Well, I’m really pleased with how much I’ve read recently.  I’m not following many series on tv and am using that hour or so when I sit down at 9pm to read.  I’ve been reading roughly a book a week and have been rating and reviewing  them on my Good Reads account.  My favourite has been John Green’s young adult novel Turtles All the Way Down.  It’s such a carefully written book about mental health with no neat happy end and a hint of some of the challenges the main character will go on to  experience in adulthood. I’ve also read Adele Parks The Stranger in my House, it was a disappointing read only saved (just) by a twist at the end.  I thought the characters were a little cliched and some of the storylines weren’t developed well. I’ve become a big fan of read Liane Moriarty book and have enjoyed Three Wishes.  She is one of my favourite go to authors at present and whilst her  books are common in themes and style, she writes so well and it’s easy to get lost in her books and relish every word.  I’m now reading Oprah’s What I Know for Sure , it’s a book of what I imagine were essays in her magazines, they’re easy to read, full of wise advice and are pure Oprah.  In addition to my personal reading, Little Miss and I are loving Little Women.  It’s dated and a little evangelical in a few parts but oh gosh it still has the effect on me and the female characters are brilliant with some of the scenarios so relatable in today’s society.

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After such a full reading section, it’s unsurprising that I haven’t watched much.  I’m loving the new series of Call the Midwife, brilliant characters and superb story lines, perfect Sunday evening television.  I’m enjoying watching snippets of the Winter Olympics, especially the snow boarding and skiing, the speed and skill are incredible.  Unusually I haven’t been to the cinema recently, I really want to see the Greatest Showman but with sport clubs and show rehearsals at the weekend it’s difficult to find the time.  Whilst I haven’t visited the cinema, Mr S did take the children to see Early Man on an Inset day which was enjoyed by all.

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Its still warming, comfort food this month, homemade casseroles, shepherd pies, savoury tarts.  However we have celebrated Shrove Tuesday and we love our little pancake day traditions, making the mix, trying to toss a pancake and choosing our fillings.   Each year on Shrove Tuesday we agree we should make pancakes more often and then it’s another year before they’re on the menu again!

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This month we’ve made changes to our bedroom as we redecorated it and have finally made it into a little haven for us both to relax and sleep.  I love the new colour scheme, blush pink, teal and grey, it all works beautifully together.

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An uninspiring category as it’s been so cold, that it’s been layers and layers of winter clothes with no new recent buys.  I’m desperate to unpack some of my spring clothes to add that splash of colour and hint of warmer days ahead.  As we decorated our room, I did take the opportunity to do a huge purge of my clothes and recycled lots of clothes that have been hidden away in drawers for years.  It has felt very therapeutic and now I have a little extra space for some new purchases too! I have organised my clothes as recommended by Marie Kondo in colours, it does make choosing outfits easier and has shown just how many black tops I have, note to self let’s try to buy a different colour!

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I’ve been listening to Pete Tong and the Heritage Orchestra’s Ibiza classics nice and loud.  This album needs    volume to appreciate it and it’s been a great running playlist this month.

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Well thats this month of February caught up, I’m so looking forward to spring I want to feel the sun on my face and to lose a few of the layers of clothes.  March looks fairly quiet at present, a ballet exam, a couple of school trips and World Book day seem to be the only notable calendar entries.  However I am sure that will change as the month progresses.

Thanks to Morgan’s for hosting #littleloves

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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