Little Loves: December 2023

December felt like a bit of a slog and I seemed to have misplaced my sparkle for most of it.  We had unseasonably mild weather and therefore a LOT of rain for the time of year (apart from a random snow day right at the start of the month), which probably didn’t help.  In between the busy-ness of work and college and what felt like the longest term of school in the world we’ve been doing all the festive things, trying to instil a bit of magic and make some memories.

Here are all the little things I’ve been loving lately throughout December…



The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: by Suzanne Collins. This is pitched as a prequel to The Hunger Games trilogy – it’s the story of how President Snow became who he was.  I read most of it last month, and just had the final third to go.  December was busy work-wise, so I only managed to finish it in the week leading up to Christmas.  I really enjoyed it, and liked that it was divided into three distinct sections – it made it interesting and different.  So much happened in the final half of Part Three!  I have to admit that I wasn’t too keen on the ending… I like closure rather than ambiguity at the end of a story, though that’s personal preference of course.  Let’s just say the ending is open to interpretation.  I’m definitely going to have to go and see the film in the cinema now to see how they translated it from the page to the screen.

You Be Mother:  by Meg Mason.  I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Sorrow & Bliss’ by the same author, which I read last year – it was poignant, truthful, gut-wrenching and heart-breaking/heart-warming in equal measure.  I very much hoped that ‘You Be Mother’ (which is actually her debut novel) would be just as wonderful.  I wasn’t expecting to get very far with reading it before the end of the month/year, although I intended to try and read a little bit each day now that it’s the Christmas holidays.  It turns out that I genuinely couldn’t put it down and finished it in just four days – it intrigued me so much that I had to keep reading, and it most definitely lived up to my expectations.

The characters were so well written and detailed that I felt like I knew them personally.  The story is set partly in London and partly in Sydney in Australia – having been there in real life I could feel the warmth of the summer air even though it’s winter here, and I could smell the frangipani and visualise the suburbs she described so well.  I loved it.  It tackles some hard topics (such as grief, poverty, mental health challenges and parenting – both newborns and adult children), but it does so with thoughtfullness and compassion.  It’s one of those books where it takes you a few hours to come back to reality once you finish it, and the story stays with you for a very long time. Whatever Meg Mason writes next, I’ll be reading it immediately.

‘You Be Mother’ by Meg Mason

Christmas Book Haul:  I don’t ever want anything much for Christmas – a few books and some perfume are usually the only things I ask for.  I feel very grateful to have received a rather excellent (and diverse) book haul this year and I’m very much looking forward to reading every single one of them.  Which one to choose first..?

My Christmas book haul – I’m so excited to read all of these!



Pantomime:  Every year in December we go and watch the Christmas pantomime at our local theatre.  It’s been a family tradition for about a decade now.  This year it was ‘Beauty And The Beast’, and it was excellent!  It followed the standard panto format of course: there was the obligatory audience participation; it was very funny, full of overt innuendo and slapstick comedy, surprises and slip-ups; and there was lots and lots of laughter.  I’m already looking forward to next year’s show, which is apparently going to be ‘Jack & The Beanstalk’

We watched the Christmas pantomime – Beauty And The Beast – at our local theatre and it was as brilliant as always

Strictly final: Strictly Come Dancing brings me a ridiculous amount of pleasure every year and the competition final is always SO GOOD!  This year was no exception – I really felt that any of the three dancers and their partners could have been the ones to hold up the glitterball trophy thanks to the quality of their performances, and that all of them deserved to be victorious.  They were all incredible.  I was very pleased that Ellie won overall though.  I predicted it would be her right from the start so I’m allowing myself to feel a little bit smug about that.  I loved all of them – their stories, their dances, their journeys through the competition – the whole show just brings me so much joy.  I’m honestly quite sad that it’s over and I’m already looking forward to next September when the next series starts.

Present opening:  Christmas Day is spent just as the five of us, and I love watching the girls open their Santa sacks and gifts from under the tree in the morning.  Seeing the expressions of surprise and delight on their faces (and hearing their squeals of excitement) is the best reward for the hard work I put into finding things that I know they’ll love, and sourcing particular items from their wishlists.  They’re always very grateful for the things they receive.



Carols:  The big church in the town centre hosts a Christmas Tree Festival every December, to raise money for charity.  I’m not religious at all but I really love old churches – there’s something very special about the atmosphere in them.  I try and go to the Christmas Tree Festival every year and this year my Mum happened to be up visiting us during the short time it was running, so she was able to come with me too.  We spent a happy half hour wandering up and down the aisles and pews admiring all the decorated trees, and as a bonus there was an orchestra and choir there too, so we got to hear some traditional Christmas carols whilst we were enjoying the displays.



A snowman:  The first snowfall of the season arrived early on in the month (on a weekend!) much to the delight of the girls.  They were up and out of the house bright and early (ish – they are teenagers after all!) having snowball fights in the back garden and making a snowman – called ‘Bobette’ – on our driveway.

Lola, Mimi and Bobette

Travel Vlogs:  I’m on a bit of a roll with these now!  This one is from my time in Chicago in July 2022.  I travelled there to attend Click Community’s annual ClickAway photography conference and had an absolutely brilliant time exploring as much of the city as I could in between my classes and all the social events.  These vlogs may take me forever to make (although I am getting faster at it!) but they’re 100% worth the time and effort involved – I do so love looking back at everything I did.

This one is from our annual Easter holiday to Bude in Cornwall in April this year to stay at The Beach Haven:

And this one documents my birthday trip to Paris with my (very pregnant) best friend in May this year:


Sparkles:  I finally retired the Christmas jumper I’ve worn every year for about 8 years and bought myself a new, more subtle one for Christmas Day. It’s still black (of course!) but with a bit of added sparkle to it.  It’s comfy and warm and soft and I’m very happy with it.



Ella’s 17th birthday:  I can’t believe that my baby, the one who made me a mama at the tender age of 23, is now seventeen years old!  I’m so very proud of who she has grown into and and who she is still becoming – she’s a self aware, wise, funny, smart, creative, kind, thoughtful, generous girl (and so much more besides).  She didn’t want to do anything special to celebrate so we did presents and balloons and birthday cake and pizza at home and it was exactly what it needed to be.

Our beautiful Ella – now seventeen years old!

Opening her cards and presents

Neil’s birthday:  The other birthday we celebrate in December is my husband’s.  His request was for us all to go out for dinner – his parents joined us and Sophie was there too.  We went to Zizzi’s and it was a really lovely evening.

Mini-Christmases:  As well as the main event, we also have a couple of mini-Christmases too – one with Sophie and Jack before Christmas, and one with my Mum and stepdad in between Christmas and New Year.  Presents and food and time spent together.  It’s busy and chaotic, but wonderful.

Mini Christmas with Sophie and Jack

Mini-Christmas with my Mum and Stepdad. There are always grumbles about taking these posed photos but I love capturing them all together like this.


And that’s a wrap!  The final chapter of 2023 is now closed and we’re about to start a brand new year full of possibilities and adventures.

I hope that you found plenty of little things to love throughout December and that 2024 is everything you want it to be and more.

With love,

Chloe x



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