I have to admit to being a little gobsmacked to realise that my last Little Loves post was on the 20th October.  I know I sound like something of a broken record but I honestly don’t know where this half of the year is disappearing to.  I think between house renovations, new jobs and just trying to keep trucking away until Christmas, I have blinked and lost entire weeks!

This week, as it goes, has been a pretty darn good one.  Although we’ve struggled with getting up and out in the morning after the half term break (doesn’t it suck to be getting ready in the dark?!) we’ve been really on top of things and the kids bedrooms have finally started to come together.  I am feeling very confident that this weekend we will be fully unpacked and have them in their own spaces which will just feel miraculous.

But anyway, more of what I’ve been loving this week:-

Read

I finished Dark Matter this week and picked up Peace Like A RiverDark Matter is a soft science fiction book about quantum physics which has been doing the rounds over the last year and I thought I’d give it a go as it’s meant to be a good read for people who don’t get all the ‘sciencey’ parts of normal sci-fi books.  I’ll admit, there were still entire paragraphs which had me scratching my head but overall it was a good read.


Watched

I caught up with the latest episodes of The Good Place on Netflix this week as well as the new series of Modern Family.  I don’t know what I’ll do with myself when Modern Family closes its doors as it’s just one of those staple programs which we know we will love when the each series airs.

Made

I know I mentioned it above but I’m going to tout it here too; REAL – LIFE – HOUSE – PROGRESS.  I don’t think you can understand how stressful it is to live out of boxes for months on end unless you’ve actually done it.  It’s a great lesson in living with what you actually need but it’s also a whole lot of chaos and brain-ache.  To actually be able to finish unpacking boxes is going to feel like a small miracle indeed.  It doesn’t look like much from the photo but believe me, it’s a real step forward.

I’m also really thrilled that we are giving Meg and Eli their own unique spaces.  We’ve never really been able to do that before as we were living in rented houses and there’s only so much you can do.  So it has felt like something really special to be able to design and create a space that they will love.  Now onto finishing the kitchen and starting on the play room (and ignoring the other 5 or so rooms we haven’t touched yet…)


Wore

I don’t know whether it arrived with the beginning of November but up here in the North West the weather has turned.  I’ve had to scrape ice off my windscreen for the school run more times than I’d like but it has been the perfect opportunity to bring out my favourite tartan scarves.  Scarves are my absolute favourite and I love that I’ve got the excuse to wear them out now.

Heard

I popped into school for an open morning this week and got to hear how the kids have been doing over the last half term.  It’s always nice to hear that your children are doing well; obviously there are area in which they need to work (Eli and good, quiet behaviour is just something which doesn’t go hand in hand!) but overall they got a pretty good report.

And Lastly…

I shared this week about our trip to Scotland over half term and I’d love it if you could hop over and take a read.  I’m currently wading through hours of footage but I will have a vlog up shortly too so if you’re interested to see it then do keep your eyes peeled for that.


Have a great week all.


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I absolutely love autumn; it is by far my favourite season of the year and I think perhaps the thing I love the most is when the season first starts to turn from summer; when you begin to get the gradual changing of the colour of the leaves, the weather becomes noticeably cooler (offering lots of opportunity to bring out those boots and skinny jeans!) and it feels like the perfect time for fresh starts.

 


I don’t think you get such a clear transition between seasons at any other time of year which is partly what makes it my favourite!

With the kids starting a new school year it just feels natural to make space for out with the old and in with the new and although it is usually the time of year when we have a big clear out, we’ve made bigger changes to our family life this year. Not only did we move house and the kids change school but I also started a new part-time job.  It has been a big adjustment for all of us, one that we still haven’t quite got a handle on yet if I’m honest.


Despite the changes that have taken place, it is also a really exciting time of year for us with lots of things going on.  We’ve been making the most of the slightly milder weather with trips to the park after school and time spent in the garden…it won’t be long before we can’t go out without being wrapped up to the nines so we’ll wring time outdoors for all its worth over the next few weeks.


I am hoping for some down-time in between now and Christmas but who really knows whether that will happen?!  Every time I think we are ready for a quiet period, something else happens which has us running around again.

I also have lots of ideas of blog posts I want to write which are all autumn related, vlogs I want to film and things I want to share but finding the time is proving a little trickier than I thought so I hope you will bear with me through it all! 


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Now that the nights are drawing in, it is time to go out and buy everyone a new coat. Without a good jacket getting out and continuing to enjoy yourselves is impossible. So, I thought a quick coat fashion piece would be a good idea.

Men’s coats and jackets for 2017
First I am going to start with coats and jackets for men. This year, it looks like the parka is well and truly back in fashion. Parkas look good and are very practical coats. They always have a sturdy hood, so are ideal for wearing to sporting events and for drizzly days. This year, they are available in a big range of different colours and patterns, so there really is no need to buy a boring old green or grey one.



For those men, who are not that keen on parkas, a bomber or Harrington jacket could be a good option. It has been a while since this style of coat was last in fashion, but both these traditional cuts suit most men. This time around the colours are brighter and it is quite easy to buy padded versions that will keep you warm on an autumn day. For the colder months, it will probably be necessary to buy something longer, like an overcoat.



Gilets and fleeces are also worth buying because they are very versatile items of clothing. In the mornings, when it is really cold they can easily be worn under another coat. At lunchtime, when it is warmer, they are ideal for wearing when you slip out of the office to buy a sandwich or run a short errand.

Women´s coats for 2017
Parkas, bombers and Harringtons are also available for women, as well as plenty of more feminine cuts. Military style coats are set to be especially popular. They look just as good with jeans as they do when worn over the top of a suit or dress. Plus, they are usually made from wool, which means that they are extremely warm. 


In addition, padded jackets are still widely available. These are particularly good for wearing on the weekends, to walk the dog or go to the park with your children.

Kid´s coats for 2017
As usual, most of the kid´s coats that are available are really just scaled down versions of the ones that are available for the adults. However, there are also a few coat trends that relate almost exclusively to the kid´s coat market. For example, packable jackets are widely available in children´s sizes, but quite hard to find for adults. These versatile jackets are ideal for sticking in the boot of the car, so you have them to hand if the weather suddenly turns nasty. Most of them are waterproof, despite being extremely lightweight.


As you can see, there is plenty of choice. So, kitting everyone out with winter coats and jackets that they like should not be hard. If you want more advice about what to look for when buying a winter coat, all you need to do is to click this link.


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I know…I know…another house related post.  The thing about purchasing a renovation house is that it becomes your entire world and is pretty much all I think about during both my waking and sleeping hours.  It also puts me in a pretty good position to share about unforeseen issues because we have (unfortunately) had plenty of those!

As is standard with any house purchase we had a survey done before we put in an offer and it threw up the usual problems you would expect with a house of this age.  Gutters would need replacing, pipes were a little bit worn, windows would probably need to be updated in the next 10 years…on and on the list went but nothing seemed too large to be dealt with and so we duly put in an offer and moved forward.

As you may have noticed since if you’ve followed my Youtube updates we have run into various problems (such as having to move out again as we have the whole house re-wired) and so I thought today I’d write a post about some of the other unforeseen issues you can sometimes run into when purchasing a house and how to look out for them:-

The electrics
I’ll start with something I can 100% speak about from experience.  Our survey picked up that there was a new fuse box and that the electrics were most likely okay.  On this basis we didn’t feel it was necessary to have an additional survey done but I so wish we had.  If you are purchasing an old house and there is any likelihood that the wiring has not been recently replaced then I would suggest having additional checks made, even at your own expense.  We called in an electrician to move a light switch in Eli’s room which should have been a pretty simple job and found that new wires had simply been attached to old wires and that the actual wiring was over 50 years old and completely in pieces.  We have now had to come up with an extra couple of thousand pounds to have the entire house rewired and we’ve had to move back out to get this done as promptly as possible.  It became something of a necessity when one of the light switches gave James an electric shock!

I think this also should cover the central heating and boiler if there is no evidence that it has recently been replaced.

Asbestos
Asbestos is one of those things which, hand on heart, I thought had been over and done with, until it was flagged in our survey as possibly being in the garage roof.  I was aware that it had been in old houses and that it caused health issues but I didn’t really understand the extent that it is still present until I read this post by Your Legal Friend.  Asbestos kills around 6,000 people every year which is absolutely shocking!  We know that it is not in our home but it may possibly be in the garage which we are planning on taking down at some point in the future.  Due to this we will have to arrange for additional tests to be carried out and if the asbestos is present then we will need to have specialists remove the roof rather than doing it ourselves, disturbing things and running the risk of health complications.  If you have any question marks about whether asbestos is in your home then have it tested.

Japanese Knotweed
Japanese Knotweed is an invasive plant which can cause serious structural damage if it gets into your property and is left unchecked.  If you have a survey done you should receive information about what to look out for but it is important that you check for yourself.  Your local council should also have information about whether your property is in an area which is affected by this aggressively growing nuisance.  In fact, its growth is so rapid that if you spot it and fail to treat it then you can be issued with an Antisocial Behaviour Order and fined up to £2,500.  Definitely worth having a quick check.

Damp
Damp is one of those tricky blighters which it can be impossible to spot until you start peeling back the layers of your home.  It can be papered or painted over, or covered with new flooring and unless it is a persistent problem you are very unlikely to realise it is in your home until it’s too late.  That said, there are some things you can look out for: discolouration of walls and ceilings, condensation in windows or a musty odour in the property.  If you’ve already moved into a property and discovered damp then it is going to cost you, but it is certainly a problem worth fixing sooner rather than later and one well worth calling in the professionals for.


Future developments
There has been a huge upsurge in property development all across the UK and if you are looking to buy a house which is surrounded by open land then it is worth doing a little research to see whether that land is likely to be bought and built on in the near future.  This was something which actually affected our decision to pull out of the first house we put an offer in for; it backed onto some stunning open farmland with views for miles but shortly after we put in an offer we discovered that the farmland had been sold and hundreds of new houses were about to be built, and would end up overlooking our garden!  Future developments could affect the value of your property as well as simply spoiling the views you may have fallen in love with.  A quick check with your local council can usually help you find out whether the land is earmarked for any development.

I know this sounds a little ‘doom and gloom’ when buying a house should be an exciting prospect but I speak from the heart when I say that the last thing you want is to move in and discover a whole host of problems which will end up costing you more money in the long run.  We should have unpacked, redecorated and settled into our new home now but instead we are living out of suitcases in a friend’s house whilst our unforeseen issues get fixed!  And that is definitely not what we would have chosen.

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Although I’m always an autumn girl at heart, I do love the summer for the fact that we get to enjoy six weeks out of school.  It isn’t always easy but it’s a whole lot of fun and we generally manage to find the time to have some brilliant days out.

One thing I have learned over the last few years is that the best experiences aren’t always the ones which cost the most money; there are some brilliant ways to keep everyone entertained from the comfort of your own home.  So whether you live far from any major attractions or you simply want to keep costs down, here are six idea of how to keep the kids entertained (at home) this summer:-

1. Build a fort
Grab some spare bed-sheets (or ones in used if you don’t have many extras…) and as many blankets as you can find and build yourself a fort.  You could use your dining table if you want the straightforward option or have a go at creating your very own structure.  This is the perfect rainy day option and you can hang out in your fort, eating cheeky snacks or snuggling and reading books.

2. Get creative
I have to admit that this particualrly option isn’t my favourite as both Meg and Eli are so messy and it generally ends in chaos but they absolutely adore being crafty.  This covers just about everything from painting and playdoh to sticking and colouring.  I think one of the main points is that you don’t need to do this for long and it can be a complex or as easy as you like.


3. Have an outdoor cinema
Okay so this one might take a little bit more planning but how cool would it be to make your very own home outdoor cinema?  You could go and choose a movie earlier in the day (HMV usually have some good deals) and buy some snacks and then grab some blankets and a comfy chair and head outside once the sun begins to set.  I know both Meg and Eli would adore this, and I think I’d like it as well!

4. Play make believe
Although Meg and Eli are a little older now they still love a little make believe.  The best thing is that you can just grab ordinary objects from around the house but use them to turn your adventures truly magical and they can become whatever you want.  You can play this however you like, the kids will just love that you are getting involved.

5. Set up an indoor disco
Draw the curtains, dim the lights, get dressed up and find some fun songs you can dance along to.  Not only is an indoor disco heaps of fun but it’s also a great way to burn off any excess energy if you haven’t been able to get outside.

6. Dig out the board games
I’m not talking about the modern offerings which pass for board games here but the classics (which thankfully don’t involve sticking small fingers up any appendages or talking about poo…) which we played when were younger.  Is it time to introduce your children to the delights of cluedo or monopoly, trivial pursuit or bop it?  You could dedicate an entire afternoon to just playing board games from your childhood.  

Have you got any other ideas to add in here?  I’d love to know.


*This is a collaborative post


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