dear beautiful

This month we have loved:

* Being reunited with much loved friends.
* A whole weekend with just Daddy when Mummy went to BritMums Live.
* Mummy and Daddy have discovered Castle and have spent many evenings staying up far too late watching ‘just one more episode’.
* Lazy days at the beach realising exactly why we moved to Southport.

This month sees the return of the ‘kids can’t smile’ disaster.  Why is it, when you capture a child engrossed in a task, you can achieve the most delightful pictures but when you ask a child to smile they give you a forced grin which just looks awful?  I was relieved at BritMums Live to see a photo of a well known photographer’s daughter doing exactly that and thought that at least it proved it is the subject and not the photographer!

We went to a wedding this month which provided us with the perfect opportunity to take a photo of the family all together and dressed up in our glad rags.  Except…except the kids just weren’t playing ball.  My dad, bless him, dutifully took a handful but this was the only one in which none of the children were a blur and you can at least see their faces.  Meg appears to be having a bit of a wild and curly time with her hair at the moment and in many photos her face was completely obliterated by the springy curls which make up her fringe!

The following day we discovered this lovely park close by to us with some beautiful gardens so we tried again…but they still weren’t playing ball.

So, despite a number of attempts, this month we just didn’t manage to capture us all smiling.  Never mind, eh!

This project is hosted over on Dear Beautiful.  Head over there to see more gorgeous family photos.


This week was National Insect Week and when we were asked if we’d like to help celebrate it by racing our very own HexBug ants I knew we couldn’t say no.

With the assistance of my Other Half, Meg and Eli set to work creating their track.  Meg designed the start and finishing posts and they worked together using coloured bricks to lay out the track.

With the spectators ready and the HexBug ants raring to go, it was time for the race.

Who will win?  Pink or Green?

Not sure the green one actually wanted to join in with that race!

Excitingly, we are also able to offer the chance to win your very own HexBug Nano V2 Habitat/Hurricane set. We had lots of fun playing with our HexBugs and now you can too! Just complete the rafflecopter below to be in with a chance of winning.

UK entrants only please.  The giveaway will end on Friday 25 July.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer: We were provided with HexBug ants for the purpose of this post.  All thoughts and opinions are our own.

Win competitions at



Sparkles by Louise Bagshawe
Diamonds are forever.  Secrets aren’t…

I was sent this book by my lovely friend who instructed me to find a quiet place and get lost in the pages.  Ever one to oblige I waited until I knew I would have a fairly quiet week before cracking the spine and diving in.

I haven’t read Louise Bagshawe before so didn’t really know what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised.

Sparkles is the story of the Massot family, incredibly wealthy owners of a large jewellery firm in Paris.  It is written in the present tense but begins seven years previously with the disappearance of Pierre Massot, head of the Massot family.  We follow the stories of his widow, Sophie and his son, Tom as well as the head of the rival jewellery firm, Hugh Montfort.

The setting of this book was what sold it to me.  I loved that it was in Paris, I loved that it was based around beautiful pieces of jewellery.  Bagshawe went into just the right amount of detail in my opinion and I could really imagine myself wandering the streets of Paris or standing and admiring the Massot’s chateau.

We see Sophie trying to make her way, to step out of the shadows of being Pierre Massot’s widow and become her own woman as she tries to get a handle on her late husband’s company.  We see Tom trying to make his way in the world and earn what he believes is his due.  I can’t go into much more without giving away some of the more interesting plot lines.

The mystery and intrigue were good; I only realised right before it was revealed exactly what was going on and I thought that it was very cleverly done.  You become so wrapped up in the existing story that wondering about Pierre only comes second, so when the bomb is dropped, it makes a fair impression.

I struggled with some elements of the characters.  The character of Judy Dean in particular was vapid and arrogant and I couldn’t connect to her in the slightest.  Bagshawe has set this up deliberately as you are not supposed to like her but at the end, when Bagshawe tries to make amends with her…I just didn’t feel like it was realistic.  She should have got more of a comeuppance in my opinion!  I also struggled to grasp Tom’s character.  He is frustratingly stupid and it was really hard to empathise with his situation.  I wish that Bagshawe would have softened him just a little bit to allow readers to properly understand him.

The rest of the characters I thought were great.  Sophie Massot is brilliantly written and I loved discovering her story and watching her development throughout the book.  Her love interest, Hugh Montfort is rather stereotypical but I think that just added to the enjoyment of the story.

Whilst this is perhaps lengthier than your typical summer read romance novel, I think it is certainly one worth picking up.  You can find the paperback and kindle version on Amazon here.  I would give it 4 out of 5 stars, purely because I thought Bagshawe could have done more with the characters.  The plot itself is utterly intriguing and should be read for the twist alone.

Have you read anything interesting lately?  Why not come and link up with my June Book Love linky?  If you aren’t a blogger just leave a comment underneath the post.  I’d love to have you join in!


Last summer, Claire from Clarina’s Contemplations invited bloggers to join her in making goals to really make the most of the ten weeks of summer.  I heartily joined in, always game for a bit of list making, and felt really positive about how it was all going to turn out.

How did I get on?  Well, I succeeded with 2 out of the 5 goals I set myself…yes, I will hang my head in shame!  To be fair, right smack bang in the middle of the summer, Meg had a significant and traumatic accident which threw us all off course and we lost our childcare so, again, it all went a bit belly up.

However that has not deterred me from enthusiastically creating my list this summer, hoping to join in and succeed this time.  Fingers crossed everyone!

I have been thinking long, hard, and fairly realistically about my goals this summer, and here they are:

p.s. you might think they look incredibly similar to last year but don’t let that deceive you. Or…maybe I’m just not all that imaginative!

1. Have at least 3 family days out
This was by far our most successful goal last summer and I hope to repeat it again this year.  We aren’t having a family holiday due to a family wedding commitment but I’d really like to make the most of the time we can get together.

2. Read 10 books

I am currently putting together a list of light-hearted, romance type novels (so send me your recommendations) to read over the summer.  I have been reading quite a few heavy duty ones of late which is fine in of itself but I really fancy just taking some time to read something much lighter which leaves me feeling all warm and squishy inside.  I think the summer is perfect for that and plan to take full advantage.

3. Get out at least twice a week

This is one I know I will struggle with.  The temptation when it gets to the summer holidays, and we haven’t got to rush around making packed lunches and getting dressed and out on time, is going to be just kicking back in our PJ’s and not doing anything.  I think this is fine, and necessary, some of the time, but I don’t want to waste an entire six weeks and have the kids bouncing off the walls.  I am trying to be organised and have started to create a list of cheap or free places we can go to which will wear the kids out but not be too much trouble to get to.

4. Plant something and keep it alive!
Another challenge for me as I seem to have the gardening abilities of a blind toad.  I kill everything I come into contact with.  Recently, Meg grew the tallest sunflower at school and as such is really keen to start planting things in the garden.  I have promised we will try and cultivate something.  I just need to find out which plants/vegetables are the hardest to kill!

My latest attempt

5. Have one interesting date night a week

We work hard to have date nights when we talk about things other than the kids but, one thing that we are very guilty of, is doing the same thing each week.  Nice dinner, bit of wine, movie.  When we were first dating we planned out dates which started with each letter of the alphabet and it was fun and exciting and interesting.  Although that won’t be easy to do within the confines of our home, I’m sure that we can try something a little different and just try to capture the fun again!  She says…hopefully…

Have you got any exciting summer plans?  I’d love to hear them!


dear beautiful

I was all lined up with my photo for this month’s Me & You and then it got lost in the mix with it being BritMums Live and now…now it suddenly seems a little tragic.

Of course, it’s entirely reflective of what we have spent almost every single evening together doing…although I’ve often got my head down looking at my phone or am absorbed reading a book, every now and then looking up to pass comment on why rugby really is a man’s sport and football could learn so much like, erm, video refereeing or, you know, not sinking your teeth into another player…

But there you have it.  Our month.

I have great plans for our date nights in the next couple of weeks seeing as much of our talking and spending quality time together has been suspended in favour of making sure my Other Half doesn’t miss a single second of the World Cup.  I don’t mind being a widow for now.  I know my time will come.

For now, I will allow him to lament the failure once again of his team.  Poor, poor England.