Life and Loves Lately – January 2018

2018! That still feels weird! How has yours started? I have to say, I find January a very hard month. I celebrate my birthday at the beginning of January and I always feel that things go rapidly downhill from there!! Still, I’ve tried to take my own advice (see last post!) and we have kept ourselves busy and made an effort to plan in a few nice things here and there to lift our moods and try to bring a bit of cheer to a miserable month!

Hubby and I had a very indulgent adults only birthday lunch at ‘The Pig’ which was so good! We found ourselves in the unusual position of both still being off work after the children had gone back to school this Christmas so we snuck off to make the most of it. I only took a single photograph so I don’t have much to share but the best thing about it was that after a gorgeous lunch, we had some time on our hands so we moved into the lounge and had coffees by the fire and just sat chatting for a good while before we had to come back and pick the children up from school. It was a rare and lovely treat.

We were soon back into the full swing of work, school and activities. I’ve been trying hard to keep a bit more structure and routine in my week to help me stay on top of everything – it’s never easy is it?

I did manage to squeeze in a cheeky day at the spa with my Mum and sisters which, I’ll be honest, couldn’t come around quick enough! We all agreed it was an excellent time to plan a day of rest and relaxation as we were so exhausted after all the pre-Christmas running around. We all had an AMAZING full body massage and the most delicious afternoon tea at Charlton House Hotel and we left feeling so relaxed and refreshed it was just what the doctor ordered for four tired Mums in January! We are definitely going to plan something like this again next year, I would heartily recommend!

We had our son’s swimming club presentation night later that week and it was definitely a proud parent moment for us. In preparation for the evening, my husband volunteered my services to polish all the silver trophies and – oh my goodness – did he drop me in it! #thanksbabe Our living room was completely filled with trophies and bless her, my Mum came over and we had a lovely evening together polishing away. It was certainly more than a one person task!

I don’t think he will be so ready to put my name forward next year since it was his job to drive backwards and forwards to the engravers with all the trophies and it took rather a lot of trips!! Don’t they all look shiny though! (Apologies for terrible quality phone pic!)

Other than that, we have spent a fair bit of time this month just not doing too much and trying to catch our breath after the craziness of Christmas and everything that December threw at us this year. However, here are some of the things I’ve been loving (sorry, there are rather a lot of them!!)

Books:

I am LOVING this book by Emily Ley. It’s exactly what I feel I need to be reading at the moment. I am the sort of person who puts far too much pressure on themselves and never quite meets her own expectations!! I really need to focus on what’s important and let the small stuff go. This book has so many insightful comments and suggestions and I really love the way she talks about her faith and its part in her journey to let go of perfection and trust that what has to be, will be. It makes me feel calmer just writing about it! Like a great big sigh of relief wrapped up in a pretty pink hardback cover!!

I’ve also read ‘Last Seen Alive’ by Claire Douglas this month which I did really enjoy. I found the first half quite tense and sometimes a little unsettling but as the twists and turns started unravelling, I really got into it. And I didn’t see them coming either!

Finally, I have just today finished reading ‘The President’s Hat’ by Antoine Laurain. It was a book club read picked by another member and I love how that often gets me reading books I would never have chosen left to my own devices – so great to broaden my reading horizons!

Films:

Oh my goodness, I just had to share with you one of my favourite films for YEARS! My daughter and I made a spur-of-the-moment decision (the best kind!) to go and watch this a few weeks ago and my sister and two nieces joined us and we were all blown away by ‘The Greatest Showman’. Now, I do love a good musical but I think this film would appeal to absolutely anyone – it’s got everything you could need, a great storyline, loveable characters, AMAZING music, drama, love, emotion and well, Zac Efron, Hugh Jackman….need I say more?! 😉 It’s still showing as I think it’s been massively popular and is definitely one to see on the big screen if you can catch it. Let me know what you think. I have been singing along to the soundtrack ever since.

Organising:

I’ve got LOADS of organising things to add to my list this month – as is befitting of January…

We’ve been trying hard these last few weeks to get a handle on our household tasks. I decided at the end of last year that there needed to be a bit more equality in the way our home is managed and given that we now (almost) have two teenagers in the house, that makes four people and four pairs of hands that are equally capable of picking up a mop/duster/cloth/vacuum cleaner! I have commented a few times recently that I’m not confident that we are teaching our children the practical life skills that they will need when they leave home because, basically, everything is done for them. Well, enter….the habit tracker….

Now, I know 90% of you are going to think I’ve completely lost it now…is it too much? Could this be a spreadsheet too far?!! Wait till you find out it has two pages!! (One for tasks that are done multiple times per day through to weekly and another for tasks that need to be done fortnightly through to yearly – yes, I know…) Anyway, I’m definitely going to bore you with this in another post but for now, suffice to say, our kids are learning some life skills 😉 (And I’m appreciating not having to feel responsible for the state of the entire house…win, win!)

I’ve also had another big new year purging session and have delivered a car full of stuff to the charity shop and, in an effort to not be surrounded by things we don’t love or need but haven’t got time to deal with at present, have basically filled our garage with a whole load more ‘stuff’ that needs to be gone through. That’s on my list for February. My plan is that we will tackle it half an hour at a time here and there. Hubby is overjoyed…..

And on another organising related note – I am LOVING my Mum’s Office planner again this year. I feel like I’m making even better use of it than I did last year. I’ve gone for the navy cover for 2018 and every time I look at it, it makes me feel happy! How do people live their lives without a planner? I’ve tried and failed a hundred times to make my phone work for me in the same way this little beauty does…you can’t beat the physical act of writing something down to commit it to memory in my book.

Another organising tool that’s got me all giddy this month is my new laundry system. I actually went to IKEA and spent my Christmas money on these babies and I don’t regret a single penny of it. Again, I feel like they warrant a post all of their own (they have literally changed my life!) so I will write in more detail another day but can I just say, laundry is one of the biggest (what’s a polite way to say this?) pains in my neck (!) of all and I feel like any tiny way to make this hideous task easier has got to be worth it, so I am pretty much in love with my new ‘sorting system’. More on that another day…

What else have I been loving this month?

Beauty:

Well, I discovered ‘Kiko’ makeup which I had avoided up to now because I just assumed it was high end and expensive. How surprised was I when I found that their make up is no more expensive that most of the make up I normally buy in Boots but also comes in the cutest packaging and are really great products that are not tested on animals? I am particularly loving this lipstick – I love a bit of a glossy finish which feels moisturising and this one ticks all my boxes.

Cooking:

I had a new, bigger slow cooker for Christmas. I really wanted to try and get more organised with my meal planning and cooking this year and I’m off to a flying start. I am really working hard to try new recipes each week in an attempt to find new meals that the whole family enjoys. My children have always been such picky eaters and it’s been SO hard to find things everyone will eat. I’ve had more failures than successes so far but I shall not be deterred! The real beauty of the bigger capacity of this slow cooker (it’s this one by Morphy Richards) is that I can make twice as much every time I use it and it will do two complete meals for the whole family – so we eat one and freeze one. Then, I’m only actually having to do the meal prep once for two evenings – boom! Any time I can cut down on meal prep is a winner in my book.

Drinking:

Now, call me a crazy cat, but my latest drink obsession is to have a nice mug of hot lemon water in the morning! I’ve been doing this for about five months now and, whilst I struggled to like it initially, I have come to love it and I have read many times that it’s supposed to be really good for you so I thought, why not give it a go? The only thing I don’t like about it was the mess I used to get into every morning squeezing my lemon. So, here’s what I do to solve that issue and I think it’s a great tip you may want to try…(even if I do say so myself!) I buy a bag of lemons and squeeze them all in one go. Then, I separate the juice into several little containers and I keep one in the fridge and put the rest in the freezer. Each time I get to the end of the one in the fridge, I pull the next one from the freezer and it defrosts before I need to use it. I’ve been doing this for a couple of months and as far as I have been able to tell, it tastes exactly the same and makes no difference whatsoever. You’re welcome. (I’m sure I’m the first person who has ever thought of doing this ;-))

I feel I should probably leave it there for this month (my posts seem to get longer and longer but I am the sort of person who loves to read a nice long blog post so apologies to those that don’t!) I hope you have all had a healthy, happy start to the new year and are hanging on in there through these winter months.

If you have anything you’ve been loving lately, please share it with me in the comments, I’m always on the look out for my next obsession!!

As always, you can sign up to my email feed (see sign-up box top right on a computer or below on a tablet or smart phone), and follow me on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram for updates between posts. Thanks so much for reading. Until next time…xoxo!

All text and images are copyright Home Heart Harmony unless stated and opinions are my own. Single images may be reproduced only if they remain in their original state and must be credited back to Home Heart Harmony with a link to the site. Failure to do so constitutes a copyright violation. *Affiliate links have been used in this post.