Dancing Dustbins, Cake and School Uniform #LittleLoves

Little Loves was the last thing I took part in – a hence the blog post I left there on the front page – before I went off on what began intentionally as a brief hiatus before becoming… well… a much more unintentional long, long break. So it seems fitting that three post in to a new phase that I join back in with this Linky. I like it, because I like focusing on the things that have been good about the week. It’s good for me, and all that.

Read

Sometimes very popular or critically acclaimed books completely pass me by. Usually it’s because popular books aren’t offered in sales or promotions, don’t pop up for 99p on the Kindle, haven’t yet been donated to my local Oxfam bookshop and attract seriously long waiting lists at the library. (Seriously, I once had a little look at Me Before You on the library reservations system. The waiting list was over 200 people! I didn’t join and I actually still haven’t read it!) These days there are so many great books available for little, or no, cost that it’s pretty rare for me to pay full price for a paperback. And so it was that I’d actually never read Emma Donoghue’s Room.

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But now I have.

And if you haven’t yet read it, you should.

I devoured it in two sittings, staying up well past my bedtime to finish it. A simple idea, but beautifully done.

Watched

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Thomas and I had a trip to London this week to see the Trash Test Dummies at London Wonderground. Three grown men dancing with dustbins. It was as wacky as it sounds, but absolutely great fun, physical comedy with lots of audience participation – the kids were able to storm the stage and throw balls at the performers, what more could they ask? And like all the best family shows, there were plenty of touches for the adults too! If you have a chance to see them, do it!

On the same trip we also watched a man blowing giant bubbles on the Southbank – Thomas first saw this performance when we took him to the London Aquarium on his first birthday, and he still loves it now as much as he did then!

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And finally we sat and watched the “Master Yogaliser” who put on a fantastic show contorting himself in to all kids of improbable shapes and finally cramming himself in to an impossibly tiny perspex box. Brilliant fun!

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Made

It’s been a bit of a making month in our household. We have about eight family birthdays in July, so it’s felt like I have spent the entire month making birthday cards with Thomas! Other than that though, we’ve been busy in the kitchen. Thomas and I made Thomas cupcakes. These are a packet mix, which we haven’t done for a while in favour of making cakes properly from scratch, but actually these mixes are pretty good in that Thomas can more or less do the whole thing unaided (and we got to practice counting in fives when adding teaspoons of water!)

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I also made a Lime drizzle cake, but modified the recipe to include… ahem… just a few shots of gin. It didn’t last long!

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Wore

I haven’t worn anything particularly exciting, but Thomas did wear his school uniform this week! I managed to pick up shirts, shorts and trousers when M&S had 20% off, but we bit the bullet last weekend and bought all of the branded stuff as the supplier was offering a discount on purchases made before the end of July. He looks like such a little man in his tie and blazer. I just cannot believe that we’re here already and my baby boy is soon to be a schoolboy. I do have some fab cheeky shots of him in his uniform, but if I choose to share any I’ll do it when he actually starts. For now, you can see his wardrobe stuffed with uniform bits. And wish me luck with the 25 or so individual bits which need to be nametaped!

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Heard

Hmmm…. tricky one. Does it count to say that I’ve heard Thomas’s absolute incessant chatter? Probably not, since I hear it all day every day! But as we went to get off the train on our way back from London this week, the man who had been sitting in the seat in front of us stood up to get off too and gave me a wry smile as he said “I bet you never get bored”. This was after a 40 minute journey in which we’d discussed, amongst other things, the solar system, the phases of the moon, the Tower of London, what execution is, types of trains and how they differ and the history of the Flying Scotsman! Yeah, Thomas’s voice is definitely the thing I hear more of than anything else. Wouldn’t change it for a thing though!

And lastly…

We have a busy weekend coming up as we’re off to see Finding Dory at the cinema and also have a family BBQ. Events where food is involved are finally becoming much more pleasurable now that Thomas is not quite so difficult with food as he once was. Here’s a bonus picture of him stuffing his face during our lunch date at Wagamama… and a little ice cream selfie too!

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Classical Music, Lego Animations and a Warm Winter Coat… #LittleLoves

This week has been a bit of a tough one. I’ve had some health stuff going on for a while that I don’t really want to talk about here (yet, anyway) and it all seemed to reach a peak this week. I’ve also been battling with out of control migraines, but hopefully some medication changes will help. It’s one way to lose weight, anyhow! Parenting is particularly tough when you feel really rough, and my job is not a breeze either. Coping and putting on a professional front, and a happy front, is taking its toll.

But I started these posts to find the positives, and there have still been a couple this week.

Read

I finished the Third Wife by Lisa Jewell. I’ve read all of her books since a friend recommended Ralph’s Party back when I was… I don’t know, probably about twenty! I have to say that this one wasn’t my favourite, but it was still good. Guess it wasn’t quite the page turner that I Let You Go was!

I’ve not read a lot else this week as my head state has not really been conducive to it.

Watched

Strictly Come Dancing, of course. There is something about this show that it seems to become progressively not quite as good as it used to be as the series go by. Not sure what it is, but I still find it perfect Saturday night viewing.

I’ve also found some good stuff on You Tube this week. Thomas watches a lot of You tube videos, but I have some fairly stringent criteria in what I let him watch. Ideally I prefer stuff that has some sort of storyline and is well made rather than just mindless videos of unboxing of trains, or trains at various stations around the country (which Thomas would watch for hours if he could). I also prefer to avoid anything that is overtly advertising, so videos that centre around product reviews are out. There are some fantastic stop-motion animations using Lego out there though, and our favourite this week has been the Lego London Bank Robbery. Definitely worth a watch!

 

Heard

I’ve been indulging my love of classical music this week, partly off the back of our Vienna trip and also in efforts to help me chill out and relax. I’ve been particularly enjoying Dvorak’s New World Symphony.

Worn

I haven’t actually worn it yet, but I did take advantage of Boden’s 25% off weekend last weekend and indulged in a new duffle coat. It’s absolutely gorgeous, lined with really soft fluffy lining and with a good substantial weight to it. I went for the grey on the basis that it goes with everything, (especially black trousers – I have a thing about black and navy not going together, so the navy was out for that reason) but I do wonder if I should have been bold and gone for the red! I’m just waiting for some cold weather to wear it for real now.

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I also treated myself to this top with the pink birds at the same time. It’s a wee bit creased in the picture as I’ll have to admit to rescuing it from the laundry pile for the photo! The stripy top in the same picture is one of my White Stuff sale purchases. I do love White Stuff!

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Made

This week’s bake was another batch of Peanut Butter cookies as it was all I was up to. These aremy “legendary” cookies as whenever I bake them for people they always ask for more (or the recipe!) it’s based on the Hummingbird Bakery recipe but I’ve made modification including some of the fat being oil. They are really scrumptious and never last long.

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And lastly…

We’re enjoying a quiet family weekend this weekend which is exactly what I need. Sometimes you cannot beat shutting out the world and snuggling up together. I’m planning on watching the rugby with a nice hot drink made with our fancy new kettle (the old one blew up, sparks and all). here’s hoping I start to feel better soon.

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Peaky Blinders, German and Lots of Laughs… #LittleLoves

I’m late with this post, largely because yesterday’s return from our trip to Vienna turned in to, if not quite the travel day from hell, then at least a very trying experience and we didn’t make it home until the early hours of this morning. So definitely no time for writing about all the things that I’ve been loving this week, especially as there have been so many.

Read

With incredibly poor timing, my Kindle went wrong in the departures area at Gatwick. Faced with the prospect of nothing to read all week, I rushed in to the nearest bookshop to pick up some “real” books. I didn’t have long to choose, but since I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh had been on my Kindle purchase shortlist anyway, it immediately caught my eye. It absolutely did not disappoint. Pretty much everything, I’d seen about it was comments along the lines of “OMG twist!” and now I know why. Employing a clever device indeed, it was compelling enough that I could even forgive a few of the slightly implausible threads. I couldn’t put it down but was sad once I’d finished it and had no more – an irrefutable sign of a good read.

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Since the paperbacks were on “Buy One Get One Half Price” I also picked up Lucie Brownlee’s Life After You, the true story of what happened after her husband’s unexpected death. I seem to have an attraction to death and grief memoirs and for the life of me I have no idea why. Despite the subject matter, however, this contained several laugh out loud moments. The humour is dark, naturally, but the entire book is incredibly sincere and down to earth and ultimately reaffirms the truth that the will to not simply exist, but to live, is strong and the human capacity to heal after trauma can be tremendous.

I’m now half way through The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell, which makes for the third book in a row that opens with, and centres around, death. Much as I’m also enjoying this one, I think I ought to opt for cheerier subject matter next!

Watched

Given that we’ve been away, I’ve actually managed to watch a reasonable amount this week. Browsing through new additions to Netflix last weekend, I spied Peaky Blinders, which is a series friends of ours have recommended several times. To be honest, it’s probably not the sort of thing I’d usually watch if it weren’t for the recommendation, and the first episode seemed a bit slow going in places, but I’ve got quite in to it now, so I’m passing on the recommendation to you.

We also caught up with An Inspector Calls on iPlayer. I was reminded it had been on by Jess’s Little Loves post last week and can’t believe that I’d forgotten to watch it. Thank goodness for the wonders of modern technology and catch-up TV! It is one of my favourite plays and whilst a television adaptation will never to compare to a really good staged version, I wasn’t disappointed, and thought the casting was spot on.

Finally, we’ve also been watching Frozen on Netflix. I’ll hold my hands up and admit to being a closet Frozen fan. Thomas loves it too, and its appeal definitely isn’t just to girls. Ian, however, rolls his eyes every time I belt out the soundtrack in the car and has so far resisted the purchase of the DVD. So imagine my delight when we found it on Netflix. There is no way my husband can resist that, I thought. My excitement has been short lived, however, as it turns out that it was available only whilst we were in Austria. English audiences are not so lucky. (We watched it twice this week though!)

Wore

Sadly my White Stuff delivery didn’t arrive before we left, so no new clothes were worn on our trip. In fact. It’s been another jeans and converse week, with a reappearance of the raincoat towards the end. I really must do better next time…

Heard

Since we spent the week in Austria, I heard plenty of German. As a language, I’ll never love it as much as Italian or French, but I did love hearing Thomas’s attempt to speak a few words. He was very hesitant at first to try out saying “Thank you” but he quickly became a pro to the point that he was thanking people for anything and everything. He raised a lot of laughs from the guy in the local corner shop where we bought travel tickets by saying “Danke schon” about twenty times in the space of five minutes.

I’ve also loved hearing Thomas make people laugh for other reasons, especially in a week where he has exhibited some challenging behaviour and made me wonder how many onlookers were silently judging my apparent lack of parenting ability. His earnest little running commentaries have been very amusing though. Every train or tram journey was accompanied by detailed explanation of what was happening and where we were going. He lectured a man waiting at a tram stop in the intricacies of the changing points on the rails, to much laughing all round, despite the language difference. On arriving at the airport he rushed up to a man in a lift in order to tell him “we’re just going up to the top floor with our suitcase so we can go to the desk to check in. Then we will get on another aeroplane, which will fly in the sky and take us home….” And on and on!

Waiting on board the bus to board our plane home (as we were being held there as passengers hadn’t yet finished disembarking) he prattled on similarly. Ian asked him if he was ever quiet and without a pause he shook his head and said “Noooo. I can’t be quiet because I’ve still got plenty of voice in here (pointing to his neck ) in my voice box. There is so much voice in here” at which point the woman behind us dissolved in to snorts of laughter saying it was one of the funniest things she’s listened to in a long time. He then treated her to all of his terrible jokes such as “How do elephants fly?” Delivered every time as if it were the best, most original joke in the world. I absolutely love it when people just can’t help but smile and laugh and my lovely boy is the reason!

Made

Since we’ve been away, my resolution to make rather than buy treats has obviously been put aside for the week, and my on going craft projects have also languished at home. Cheesy as it sounds, however, we have been busy making memories. A proper post about our Vienna adventures will hopefully be coming up, but here is a sneak peak at a couple of pictures.

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And lastly…

If the above sounded cheesy, then this will sound even worse, but we had a minor incident with a missing wedding ring this week. Fortunately it was located again, but in the time it was missing I was reminded how the little things like a ring, or even the marriage it represents, mean nothing in comparison to our relationship. Without the ring we’d still have been married and still loved each other to the ends of the earth. That fact was somehow brought in to sharp focus by the momentary sadness of the missing ring. No matter what else happens in life, I’m so lucky to have my little family.

And now, onwards. We only had one week of full new preschool and activities routines before we were away firstly at Alton Towers and then in Vienna. So I’m looking forward to settling back in to the routine properly and cosying down as autumn begins. A bottle of wine is already chilling in the fridge, and the logs are waiting to get a roaring fire going tonight.

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Disney Music, Jam and Birthday Invites… #LittleLoves

It’s no secret – or at least I think it’s pretty obvious – that’s I’ve been in another bit of a slump lately. Not least because there are some health issues going on, but also the change of seasons and yet another round of everyone and their aunt announcing pregnancies or popping out babies. Yeah, that still isn’t any easier to deal with. And as far as blogging goes, I’m still feeling a lot out of sorts. A lot like I don’t fit in and can’t find the community I really crave.

The only thing I know for sure is that I’m the only person who can do anything much about most of these things, including relocating – if I ever had it in the first place – some kind of blogging mojo. And in efforts to address both that, and to bring a little positivity and happiness, I’ve decided to join in with the Little Loves linky for the first time.

I know what you are thinking – I’ve joined a lot of linkys before and have the staying power of… Well, something not at all sticky. I can’t promise this will be any different, but since it involves very little forethought or organisation in my part (my massive downfall when it comes to photo linkys!) and because it is one that several people I follow participate in and so keeps popping up in my feed reader, I will give it a try. And hey, even if I only join in once, it’s a happy post. That’s got to be good, right?

So here we go:

Read

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Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty utterly engrossed me. Moriarty seems to be an “author of the moment” but I have to admit to not having really got in to either of the two books of hers I’d tried before, including the highly acclaimed The Husband’s Secret. Maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind before though, and will have to try again after loving this so much. I don’t want to give too much away, but the book centres around a crime but keeps you guessing about the identities of both the victim and the perpetrator for a long time. There is an additional twist too that I’ll freely admit to not working out until right at the last moment. A great page turner for sure!

Heard

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Disney music! We spent over eight hours in the car with Thomas this week, going to and from Alton Towers. I must admit I’m pleased the Julia Donaldson audio CD obsession has waned in favour of the Now That’s What I Call Disney album and Frozen soundtrack. (Nothing against Julia Donaldson, but there are only som many times I can listen to The Snail and the Whale without going a little loopy.) I was belting out the tunes (to much eye rolling from my husband!) as we sped up the M1. I’m glad Thomas is such a fan, and it bodes well for our trip next year!

Watched

Not particularly original, but we watched the Great British Bake Off. We were driving back from Alton Towers with every intention to make it in time for the start, but roadworks, hold ups, horrendous weather and a child wriggling free of his car seat straps (naughty boy) all delayed us and we didn’t make it through the door until five minutes before the end. Fortunately it was up on iPlayer straight away and so I insisted we watch it before going to bed! I do love GBBO since becoming hooked during (I think) the second series which was on whilst I was pregnant with Thomas.

Made

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I think we’ve reached the end of the blackberry season and we made our final batch of blackberry jam, some of which I then used to make jam tarts. It’s delicious enough to eat straight out of the jar with a spoon. Not that I’d do that of course. Ahem.

I’ve actually made a bit of a resolution recently to make some sort of treat each week rather than buying stuff like cakes or biscuits. I find if I make things I enjoy and appreciate them more, and I’m more likely to want to make them last rather than eating them mindlessly. Shop bought biscuits are so much less satisfying that I often find I’ll mindlessly much through several ip without really thinking about it, which isn’t particularly healthy! I’d much rather enjoy a proper treat, that I’ve made myself, each week. Along with the jam tarts I also made banana bread this week and previous recipes have included my G&T cake, peanut butter cookies and Millionaire’s Shortbread.

We also made Thomas’s birthday party invites this week, which is a bit early considering his birthday is not until November. I knew I would be seeing a couple of the mums from Thomas’s old preschool that I now won’t see much now though, so I wanted to take the opportunity to hand them an invite as Thomas is quite insistent about certain people he wants to come to his party! (Let’s just hope they can make it, otherwise I might need to be creative to avert disaster!) I’m pretty pleased with how they look.

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Wore

This week I have been mostly wearing black skinny jeans – which has been a change after a summer of cropped jeans. I’ve also been wearing a raincoat – although we were lucky with the weather at Alton Towers we did have a few showers. And I’ve also been in my hoodys, as I refuse to put the heating on until at least October (although we have cheated and had the log burner going!) I have treated myself to few new things online this week though, so hopefully they will arrive soon and I’ll do better in this category next time!

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And Lastly…

We had a great time at Alton Towers this week using free tickets from our previous trip in June immediately after the Smiler accident. And now it’s Friday night, the log burner is going, I have a glass of wine and…. a whole week off work! We’re off for a quick break to Vienna. There is lots to love about life.

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