Friday, 27 June 2014

Love the Little Things #22

Today, for us, heralds the start of the school Summer holidays.
When I was a teacher, my friend and I used to refer to it as 'the glorious Summer'. Funny how your tune changes when you have three overactive kids to occupy for the guts of two months.
Lord, give me strength.

Of course the weather has decided to flip me the V's and has been PANTS the past two days.
If you need me, I'll be by the wine cupboard for the duration.

Anyhow, on to the week that's passed, and our #littleloves. Please do pop over to butwhymummywhy, and read the other little lovelies posts. The few I met last weekend were every bit as gorgeous in person as I'd imagined.

This week, the little things we have:


  • The Vintage Teacup Club - I started it last weekend whilst travelling and am half-way through already. Lovely, easy, Summer reading - I'm looking forward to finishing it off in the next week or so!
  • Many, many BritMums posts - it's so interesting to read how everyone experienced it differently. From the outright ecstatic, to those on whom it had the opposite effect. You can read my post on it here. Spare a moment too, to read the amazing comments at the bottom of my post. Fabulous ladies with very wise words. I'm so lucky to count them all as friends now.

  • And the Little Wood bunch are live over on Sanctuary Spa again this week.  I'd love it if you'd pop by, and please do say Hi in the comments - I read every one!
  • The Soloist - Wow. Amazing performances from Jamie Foxx (I think he was maybe Oscar nominated for this, wasn't he?) and Robert Downey Junior (who I have loved since the moment I laid eyes on him in Only You - remember that one? When the Mr and I went travelling Italy we searched for that Bocca/ mouth thing that you put your hands in for days. True story!)Anyhow, a beautifully acted film, with such a heartbreaking and heartwarming story.
  • New friends! Cheeserama, eh? But it's true. There's something about being thrown together for something in which you all have a common interest, that forges bonds more quickly than normal. It's also true that, from reading their blogs, I probably know more intimate details about some of those women that I met for the first time, than I do of even my closest friends. Such is the power of the written word. And the relative anonymity of a computer screen. Lovely women, who I sincerely hope I'll come across again very, very soon...

Yikes, I'm failing a bit at this one this week. Not in that I haven't been wearing clothes (cheeky!!), more in that it has been nothing wildly exciting.
  • For a day out with the Mr and the littles on Sunday, I went for comfy and cool...With matching shoes for Annie and I ...

  • Sunshine (though it has upped and left now!)

  • A very special Coke bottle ...

  • Eva and Noah's school held a charity water fight on Monday, and the Fire Brigade came too, to offer watery assistance in the form of their water canons. Lordy - SOAKED!!

And that was our little week!
As I mentioned on Tuesday, I'm taking a little blogging break from today, in the sense that I'll not be around just as often over the Summer holidays. I do hope to pop in to littleloves from time to time though, and you'll still find me as active as ever on Twitter and Instagram. So do follow over there if you can.
Basically lovelies, you'll probably not even notice I'm gone.
I hope that you and yours have the loveliest Summer. Stay safe, and here's hoping for a sunny one!
Much love,
E x


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Thursday, 26 June 2014

Personalised Baby Gifts from My 1st Years...

When My 1st Years contacted me with an opportunity to review one of their beautiful products, I was more than a little bit excited. You see, a while back I had read Morgana's post on them and, I'm not gonna lie, I WANTED that Ukulele.

Neither I, nor any of my children can play the Ukulele you understand, but that doesn't stop it from being a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing gift - I may just stare at it in the box for a while.

My 1st Years are a gifting website that specialise in personalisation. All their products, from beautifully made teddy bears to silver cutlery, can be made that extra bit special by the addition of your baby or child's name. This makes them the perfect choice for New Baby, Birthday or Christening gifts.

Or just because you really want a Ukulele.

Our parcel arrived with speedy-fast delivery, and was all wrapped up in the most beautiful packaging - like a Tiffany's box for little people.  The lovely box is a gift in itself, and would make the perfect memory-box storage for baby's first mementos.

To avoid arguments amongst the three littles, we opted to have 'Little Wood' engraved on the silver personalisation plate. In fact, I may have said so many times that we all have to share it, that the kiddos now refer to it as mine. Oops.

Annie got to grips with it quickly though, and I'm really surprised how much she enjoyed it, and even managed to produce a tune.

Musical stimulation for children of a young age is something to be encouraged, and this definitely makes a prettier (and more tuneful!) alternative to the manky old Peppa Pig recorder that lurks at the bottom of our toy box!

All-in-all we have been very impressed with the service and quality of product from My 1st Years.
We love our Ukulele, we really do.
Now, just to find a very high shelf to display it on...

E x

**We were gifted this item for the purposes of review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely our own though!**

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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Me and...BritMums!

So. It happened. I got there and back in one piece. And the experience itself was a bit of an epiphany for me. Epiphany, for want of a better word.
It is just blogging after all.
The thing about BritMums, you see, is it's BUSY. Like crazy busy. Between the seminars and Keynotes, the chatting to friends, the food, wine and copious amounts of tea, it all becomes somewhat of a blur. Added to this I had two 5.30am starts and one very late night. I may have been slightly delirious on the journey home. My actual eyeballs ached.
I met some wonderful people. Girls that I felt like I've known for years, and wish I'd had longer to chat to.  During the BiBs I sat at a table full of women that I am totally in awe of - some finalists this year, and the rest who I am absolutely certain will be next year. Truly talented, inspiring, lovely new friends.

And the obvious thing to say would be that I felt energised, ready to seize the day, ready to come back and take my blog to new levels. And yet it was, and is, quite the opposite.
It's funny, isn't it, how sometimes your best intentions lead you off in a very different direction.

On Saturday morning, at the crack of dawn, we listened to Benjamin Brooks-Dutton deliver his Keynote speech. Benjamin is a blog writer, an author, and at 34, a widower with a tiny son. His story was emotional and inspiring and he finished by encouraging us to enjoy our families and to really think about the best moment in each day. To take account of the small things, acknowledge the little details, appreciate what we can't get back.
For many bloggers this is exactly what blogging is for - recording those special moments. For me it was too I think. Well, that was the intention anyway. But six months in, I can see it becoming all-consuming. I can sense my perfectionism taking hold, can feel the balance slipping away from quality moments with my children, towards more and more time spent on iPads and laptops, cameras and phones. Negotiating SEO, and trying to understand Google+. Trying to get to grips with increasing influence, and too caught up in rankings and statistics.

And that, I fear, will be something I regret in years to come. 

So. Here's the thing.
I'm going to take a little break.
I always wondered how I'd keep up with it all through the school holidays, particularly when I have other writing commitments that take time too. My kids are at that age where I'm fortunate to have mornings free while they are at school, but for seven weeks now I am taking on the role of full time, solo entertainer - I have three, they like to be busy, there are no nap times.
It's one big roller coaster of exhaustion, let me tell you.

I'm quite emotional writing this - I guess it is difficult to take a breather from something that you have poured everything into, and something that you love dearly. Part of me wants to stay in 'the loop', not lose what I've worked for already, not lose friends. But the bigger part of me says that I started this for my family, and that if I lose the heart of it, then it's really worth nothing anyway.

I don't want to be too morbid though, it's not really my style. And it's not as if I'm going to 'find myself' in the Peruvian mountains, I'll still slip a post in here and there to keep you on your toes. Albeit a little less often.

So thankyou for reading this, thankyou for following. I hope you'll still pop in from time to time, check by if I feel motivated to document a little holiday moment or two.
And I hope you'll still follow us over on Sanctuary Spa too. We'll still be there each month, large as life.

The blogging community is amazing. I'm so proud to be a part of that, however small that part is.
I do consider myself a writer now, in the least pretentious way I can make that seem.
But first and foremost I'm a mummy.

And just for a bit, I'm going to enjoy, uninterrupted, every good and wonderful and challenging little moment that brings.

And then I'll be back.

E x

Just before you strike me off your Bloglovin' feed, and unfollow me on Twitter - I still have a few more posts scheduled for this week, so please do stick around for those!

And check out some more of my pictures from BritMums below, and the blogs of the beautiful ladies in them - I feel so privileged to have met them...

Sian and Morgana cosy up - pretty in pink!
Katrina and I do our best station selfie.
And the ever-so-lovely Emma and Elfa give their best dramatic action pose.

The lady it took me hours to find, but so worth it - gorgeous Suzanne!
My personalised Coke bottle!
The very beautiful surroundings of The Brewery.
If we were a girl band...

Some of the #littleloves crew, Sian, Jenny, Katrina and Morgana

 And the ones I didn't get a picture of...

Beautiful Jude at Make me an Earth Mother
Alison at Complicated Gorgeousness - one of the nicest people I've ever met. Truly.
Katie at Hurrah for Gin. Loved her!
Wallymummy at Just a Normal Mummy - totally hilarious in person too, and she won an award!
The very glamorous Jess at Wry Mummy
Lovely Katie at MummyDaddyMe and Becky at Spirited Puddle Jumper
Gorgeous Sara at Mum Turned Mom - a fleeting chat, but so very glad to have met her!

There were so many more besides, but my head is still a little fuzzy, truth be told!
BritMums, you were a beaut!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Love the Little Things #21

Hello! As you read this I'll most likely be winging my way to London Town, perhaps even chatting with the lovely butwhymummywhy her very self, or some of the other #littleloves brigade.
That's providing that I make it to the boarding gate.

I have a lovely friend who was once flying solo to New York. She tells the story of how she asked so many times was she in the right place, and told everyone that would listen that this was her first time flying alone, that when she got to the boarding gate they had upgraded her to first class.
This will be me. Minus the First Class.
It's EasyJet peeps. 

Anyhow, my travelling hijinks will make interesting chat for next week, but on to this weeks little loves:
This week we have:


I haven't read an actual book in far too long. Honestly, for someone who has a degree in Literature, and actually taught it too, it is ridiculous. This happens every year, and then I book binge on holidays.
I'm a reading bulimic.
So in preparation for the holidays that are coming, I have kitted out the old iPad with a few new reads. I'm going to start 'The Vintage Teacup Club' (Vanessa Greene) this weekend. I have my lovely friend Jo to thank for this recommendation!


Parker - Now I normally love a J-LO film (guilty secret!) but, oh my, this was a whole new level of crapola. Terrible acting, awful directing - it reminded me of a bad 80's American police drama.  You know - lots of pregnant pauses and pensive face shots to camera. We turned off after ten minutes. Avoid at all costs. And stick to the Rom-Coms J!

This lot have water fights! Hilarious, and so lovely to have a chance to be out in the garden again. This week has been ROASTING!


Hmm, a start on my tan??
Oh, that's rubbish, isn't it?! But we have been taking full advantage of the good weather (it doesn't hang about for too long usually!) and spending lots of time outdoors.  With our holiday in a few weeks, it's really getting us in the mood for sunshine, and the healthy glow that comes with it!


New PJ's for my BritMums stay over...

Sundresses (accessorised with a little interloper!)...

Not worn yet, but I got this amazing swimsuit. I'm as in love, as one can be with a one-piece...


Blue sky...

Balmy nights looking at the garden...

Prosecco with berries...

Leafy green in the little wood...

And that was our little week!
I hope you all have a lovely, sun-filled weekend m'dears. If I make it back in one piece I'll see you next week for a BritMums low-down. Wish me luck!

E x


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Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Little Wood Garden...

So, just when we thought that the sunshine had shunned us for good this year, out it appeared on Sunday, catching us unawares and unprepared. Let's just say we had a suncream shortage, and a few red shoulders on Sunday evening. Ouchie!

But decked in our Factor 50, the rest of the week has been just delightful. So it's only right that my little word this week should be:

And here are some pictures from this week in our back garden, set to the beautiful back drop of blue sky.  Feel free to hum a summery tune in your head as you browse...
'Summer, Summer, Summer time...'

Our little patio area is coming along well!  We now have some pretty gravel. a new step, and a planter bed for our herbs.  Just some painting to do, and some furniture to be delivered and it will be perfect!

The Little Wood is green and lovely.  Definitely at it's very best in June!

Gravel, Round Two.  Anyone fancy a spot of raking??

A perfect sky.

This lot had great fun with the new Water Guns.  No prizes for guessing who enjoyed it the most!

Summer - we love you lots.  Wanna' hang around a bit longer??

E x

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Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Marriage is ... the Vinegar

There's a definite food theme developing in this series, isn't there?

I love vinegar. Bloody love it. There is no food that does not benefit from a sprinkle of the Malt stuff, in my humble opinion. Onions taste so much better when they are pickled, chips are dead to me without it, salad is bland without the balsamic or cider variety.
When I was little my Granda used to buy me tiny pots of pickled Cockles and Mussels. I adored them. My children would have a canary were I to set anything so slimy and odd looking on their plates but, even as a child, the vinegar won me over.
Love it.

'Where are you going with this Emma?' I hear you ask.

Well, you see, the problem is that the Mr hates it.
Not just a mere mild dislike, may I add, but a full-on hatred. The very smell has him running to open windows, pulling *DB (dry-boke) faces. We have had plentiful arguments about it, and can never share a family sized bag of crisps.
Which, I'm sure you'll agree, is bordering on a deal-breaker.

And in my little (potentially loopy) head it occurred that that's a perfect metaphor for marriage, isn't it?
The attraction of opposites, the merging of differences, the celebration of uniqueness.
For all our years together, and the millions of things we do share, he will never like vinegar, and I will forever love it.  Much in the same way that I'll never 'get' football, and he'll never truly appreciate Sex and the City, or the joy of a designer handbag.

In the years to come there will be more rows, more disagreements - it's the joy of co-habitating isn't it? The little niggles that get under your skin.
The way I don't stack the dishwasher just right...
and the way I get told frequently that I don't stack the dishwasher just right.
The way there will ALWAYS be crumbs on the worktop...
and the moans and grunts as I wipe them up AGAIN.
The way I stress, and panic and worry when there's really no need,
and the the way a laid-back, eternal optimist deals with it.

The Vinegar.

And I guess the challenge in marriage is in overcoming those differences. Bridging the gap. Learning to, if not love them, just to live with them instead. In being civil to the everyday niggles.
I'm not too sure that we're there yet. I'd appreciate any advice.
But I reckon if it's right enough - if the sum of it's parts is so much more than that of all those many, many, MANY little annoyances?
Then that's a bond that's pretty secure. A deal that can't be broken.

Even down Sainsbury's crisp aisle.

E x

*when one gives the impression of silently retching, as if to be sick. It's very attractive.

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Tuesday, 17 June 2014

A Little Ode to the Class Birthday Party...

So we're going to a party,
It's on the twelfth of June.
The invite came a month ago
But Mummy didn't find it so soon.

It was lurking in my school bag,
Under my library book,
Between the notes and the sharpenings,
If she'd only taken a look!

And now she's just a little bit stressed,
Says she hasn't got time to buy,
The present and the birthday card,
So disorganised Mother! Why?

Sure Toys 'R Us is down the road,
We'll pick up something there,
Some Lego or a Loom Band set,
A doll with nylon hair.

No need to spend a fortune,
Why do you overcompensate?
I'm sure it won't make up for,
Your RSVP being late.

We'll pick a card with Batman,
Or Barbie on the front,
Stick a tenner in it,
Cash means more now Mum.

And off we'll trot in our finest,
Hair braided and faces washed,
To Jumping Clay, and 'cool' soft play,
To have our noggins squashed.

It'll happen that, as you'll start to go,
Breathing a sigh of relief,
We'll suddenly get shy, start to cry,
And beg you not to leave.

So, sit you will through two hours,
Of excited squeals and moans,
When all you really wanted,
Was a coffee on your own.

You'll lurk like some starved scavenger,
By the sausages and chips,
Dream of gobbling Top Hats,
As you chat about Homework and Nits.

And then when the cake's been eaten,
And the candles all blown out,
I'll let you down a bucketload,
'Where's the party bag?' I'll shout.

There'll more than likely be some tears,
Probably from you,
As you drag me away, when I want to stay,
And hide sobbing in the loo.

Dearest darling Mummy,
You'd better get used to it,
For you've seven more years of Primary School,
And all this party sh*t.

And then you'll wash your hands of it,
The bouncy castles and green face paint,
But watch it Mama, don't smile yet,
For the teenage years await!

E x

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