I’ve switched to Self-Hosted

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You may (hopefully) have noticed that I haven’t posted anything for a few days.

That’s because I have finally taken the plunge and gone self-hosted. It now means that I am solely in charge of my blog and there are so many more options available to me now.

The main ones, for me are that I can now install lots of really useful plugins, I can advertise on my blog and very excitingly, I can host my own linky … more on this one will be coming soon!

If you have subscribed to my blog via email and you have received this post via the usual email alert, then my migration of followers has been successful. So I guess this is a bit of a test post! Continue reading

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My Sunday Photo ~ Old Harry Rocks

This week’s Sunday Photo is the most recent photo I have.

Taken only last night, from a boat at my lovely friend’s Hen Party.

We took a boat from the Quayside and sailed around the harbour.

Watching the sun go down over the water was stunning (I’ll save my sunset shot for a future Sunday Photo!)

I captured this photo as we sailed out to Old Harry Rocks.

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Old Harry Rocks is a 3 chalk formation, located on the Isle of Purbeck. They mark the most easterly point of the Jurassic Coast.

It’s quite something, to be so close to it.

We had a wonderful evening. There was even a yummy BBQ on the boat. What a way to celebrate.

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My Sunday Photo ~ Bluebell Wood

Earlier in the week, I wrote about our gorgeous walk through a local Bluebell Wood and I shared some of the stunning captures.

A Bluebell Wood really is a beautiful sight. I get slightly giddy when I see the bluey haze. It’s such a shame that it’s not a sight we can appreciate all year round but then it wouldn’t be so special, would it?

My Sunday Photo has to be my favorite photo of Lola and her cousin, Rosalie playing amongst the bluebells.

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Childhood.

Innocence.

Nature.

Beautiful.

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Bank Holiday Bluebell Walk

Springtime tells us of it’s arrival through flowers.

If there’s one thing that represents this beautiful time of year, more than the candy floss delicacy of a pink Cherry Blossom tree, it’s the sight of Bluebells.

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A walk through a Bluebell Wood is one thing that I look forward to every year. The only problem with a visit to a Bluebell Wood, is that you have to time it just right as regretfully, this bluey haze is only here to great us for a few short weeks a year.

We made the most of the Bank Holiday dry spells and went to Pamphill, Wimborne.

The sea of blue, did not disappoint.

There is no other way to enjoy a walk through a Bluebell Wood than to take lots of pictures. So for anyone who doesn’t have a wood nearby, here are some of my snaps for you to enjoy.

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and this one is my favourite of Lola and her cousin, Rosalie passing over a bluebell.

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Isn’t nature beautiful.

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50 Things that make me Happy

The lovely Lucy over at Mrs H’s Favourite Things, tagged me in the 50 Things post.

What are the 50 things that make you happy?

Now, 50 seems quite a lot but I’ll give it a go. Are there really 50 things that make me happy?

So, in no particular order …

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1. My children, every inch of them

2. My husband, my everything

3. My family

4. My best friend

5. Friends

6. Cuddles

7. Laughing

8. Sunshine

9. Our Home

10. Bedtime stories

11. Harley’s tatty blue Teddy

12. Rainbows

13. Homemade Lasagna

14. Sun on my face

15. Washing on the line

16. Music

17. Rose wine

18. Watching TV in bed

19. Walks in a Bluebell Wood

20. Childhood memories

21. Going to the hair salon

22. Painting my nails

23. My Wedding Photos

24. My Mum’s cooking

25. A tidy house

26. The beach

27. Freshly washed bed sheets

28. ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’

29. Cadbury’s Chocolate

30. The sound of heavy rain

31. Fresh flowers

32. My Blog

33. Shoes

34. My favourite perfume (Alien by Thierry Mugler)

35. A Bubble bath

36. Dancing

37. Reality TV

38. Freshly cut grass

39. The crafts Harley makes at preschool

40. Swimming

41. Coffee shops

42. The smell of ‘Gold Lenor’

43. Social Media

44. Payday

45. Phone calls from friends

45. Fluffy carpet on bare feet

46. Handbags

47. The colour pink

48. Finding shapes in the clouds

49. Holding hands

And my favourite happy maker is …

50. ‘I Love You’s’

From my children, my husband, my mum and friends. Aren’t they the best!

Blimey, that was really easy.

I  tag any lovely blogger pals if they want to join in and if you’re one of my lovely readers, what are the top 3 things that make you happy?

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Why I’ve left Teaching

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I’ll be totally honest and say that I never thought this day would come.

I have been in a job that I have loved for 15 years.

Teaching is all I ever thought I would do. All I have ever done. All I have ever wanted to do.

I am sat here, surrounded by the 4 brightly coloured walls, full of colourful displays that I hope I’m remembered for, saddened by the deafening silence of the classroom now that all of my class have disappeared off on their Easter Holidays.

This very room has been my second home for so long.

For the hour when I am in the classroom, with the class, teaching, I love it. It’s still the most rewarding feeling to know that you have taught, supported, encouraged and guided a child throughout their learning.

But sadly, that’s not the job any more.

The powers that be, the political masterminds who believe they know how children should be taught, have changed the job, beyond measure. They have changed the dynamic in the classroom and the pedagogy behind modern day learning.

The Government’s frequent, rapid changes to both the curriculum and expectations are too dramatic to not warrant consultation.

The latest trend in teaching styles, seem to put the teacher in the background; giving pupils ownership of their learning.

Gone are the days of teacher led lessons, where the teacher utilises their expert knowledge to progress learning.

Has the pendulum swung too much towards pupil based learning therefore under utilising the teacher’s knowledge and skillset?  Is this the deliberate intention of the DfE?

The latest Government figures suggest that the number of teachers quitting the profession have hit a record high, of 4000 a month.

And that saddens me. So much.

The Government often quotes how the greatest minds and intelligent people with skillsets should be utilised in education. Why do the Government think that these people would want to put themselves into the current teaching environment, probably on far less money than they are currently earning?

BBC news have been covering this very story. The demand for teachers is growing because of the baby boom. But it’s getting harder to recruit the target number of teachers with an apparent 7% shortfall in the required number of trainee teachers.

However, surely the BBC have missed the point with regard to teaching numbers? I believe that the focus should ultimately be on retaining existing teachers and re-recruiting those with experience, that have left the profession.

This should surely be the top priority for the next Education Secretary: to ensure that teachers remain in the profession.

With the current funding issues encapsulating all schools, experienced teachers high up the pay scale are almost automatically knocked out of the running for jobs because schools can’t afford to pay them – it’s surely the only industry where experience is NOT an advantage?

In a results driven environment, full of tick boxes and paperwork, I started to wonder and question where the actual ‘teaching’ that I had trained so hard for, had sadly disappeared to.

The current expectation put on teachers is without a doubt, unrealistic and dangerously unmanageable.

Pupils have become instruments for teachers to achieve their performance management targets rather than individuals. I am still bemused by the expectation that all pupils are expected to make the same amount of progress within an academic year. This is ridiculous. If we were all the same, we would all be the same as adults. All children learn and progress at different rates and it is completely wrong for a teacher to be held accountable for that.

 This is a job and a profession that I never thought I would ever leave.

 But right now, my own children and my family need to come first.

There’s a common phrase that is branded around within schools, ‘Every Child Matters’.

And yes, that’s true. However teaching, be it full time or part time is growing increasingly impossible for teachers with their own children. The sheer demand of the job that impacts so heavily on a teacher’s own time, made me grow increasingly resentful for the time I was spending on the children in my class, as opposed to my own children. My own 2 beautiful children who needed their Mummy.

Sadly, it’s more a case of ‘Every Child Matters, apart from your own.’

And I wasn’t prepared for that to be the case, anymore.

No more using my days off to write lesson plans for the following week.

No more spending weekends alone, making resources while the rest of the family head off to the park.

No more rushing or skipping a bedtime story so that I can get on with the stacks of marking, every night.

No more hours analysing computer screens of tracking sheets and data spreadsheets.

No more proving progress in order to justify and maintain my salary.

Very sadly, teaching is not a job any more; it’s a lifestyle choice. I wanted to make the choice to change my lifestyle. I was missing out on my children.

Regretfully, the number of qualified teachers leaving the profession is only going to rise, if nothing is done to change the unrealistic conditions of service.

 Eventually there are not going to be enough teachers for the number of children in Britain and therefore, is the focus on pupil led learning and the under utilisation of a teacher’s skillset, a way of opening the door for unqualified staff?

I am genuinely concerned about who will be teaching my own children, when they get to school age. It’s not acceptable to simply just have a body at the front of the classroom.

For our education system to rival the best in the world, we need to retain experienced staff who are experts in their field, who have trained and dedicate their careers to helping our children grow.

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Springtime Surprise Project

From the minute I started MyLife MyLove, I was touched and overwhelmed by how supportive the blogging community is. Undoubtedly, the use of social media is a fantastic way to promote your blog and connect with people; share advice, offer advice, find new ideas and it is through this that I have made many amazing friendships, albeit virtual, but through whom we have shared aspects of our lives and families.

It is through this that I came across a wonderful lady called Lucy who blogs over at Capture by Lucy. Her photography is amazing and her dreamy Instagram feed will leave you in awe of how pretty her life is.

Lucy created the Surprise Project.

And in time for first official day of Spring, the Spring Equinox, on 20th March 2015, I decided that I wanted to join in with Springtime Surprise Project.

The concept is very simple.

You are partnered up with someone who tells you a little bit about themselves, their likes and dislikes. You then put together a parcel with a guide price of £5 and send it to them. And they send a parcel to you.

Lucy’s suggestions are:

• Treats for a baker • Stationery for a writer • Craft supplies for a maker • A print for a photo taker

Something to pamper themselves • Sweet or savoury nibbles • Pop to your local charity shop and find a bargain

•Upcycle something you already have • Something to drink, something to share

Anything that shows you care.

I just loved the idea of putting something pretty and thoughtful together, for someone I had never met.

My partner was called Emma and I had a bit of information about her family and the kind of things Emma liked. I wanted to create a parcel that reflected her love of stationery and desire to be organised.

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Some of the items I put in, included a notebook and pen, a sparkly gold diary, pretty post it notes, a shabby chic wicker heart, and a fab sign that I’m tempted to go and buy one for myself! I put a little note with each item to explain why I had included it in the parcel.

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Emma said she loved it all, which made my day and in return, this was the lovely parcel that I received:

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Mine contained some gorgeous ribbon and the most delicious grape and fig lip balm; a face mask; gel nail pen; beautiful cards that I can’t wait to send to people and a lovely heart that is currently hanging up in my blogging space at home.

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It was such a small world to find out that my partner was also a teacher who had little kiddies with ages similar to mine.

I now enjoy following Emma through her Instagram and Twitter feed and seeing what she gets up to!

It was such a lovely idea for a project and you don’t need to be a blogger to join in; anyone can. Just sign up on the Surprise Project website here. I have a sneaky feeling that there is going to be a Summertime Surprise Project. I’m looking forward to taking part again and doing something lovely, for a stranger. Because that’s what lovely people do!

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The winner of the Best Baby Changing Room Awards is announced

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Back in September, you might remember me joining forces with Sudocrem Care and Protect in their mission to find the best Baby Changing Rooms that are on offer in our restaurants, shopping centres and supermarkets. Their quest to find the best facilities around, came as a more than welcome sight for me as I loathe traipsing around trying to find somewhere suitable to change my baby’s nappy or for somewhere comfortable to sit when I was breastfeeding. Unfortunately I had met more inadequate facilities than I had sufficient ones. So I was more than happy to support Sudocrem in their quest to find the best on offer.

I know lots of my lovely readers put forward nominations for their favourite baby change facilities and now the results are in…

Sainsbury’s was voted as having the best Baby Changing Rooms in Britain, with Sainsbury’s Wandsworth claiming the overall title. The branch won the award, presented by Katy Hill, for its clean and spacious facilities; offering a comfortable changing mat in a calm environment; disposable towels; spacious toilet and plenty of room to move around with a bulky pram.

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Ziggie Singh, Store Manager at Sainsbury’s Wandsworth, said: “We’re thrilled to have won baby changing room of the year voted by our customers. We have lots of parents and children visiting every day, so it’s great to hear we’ve been able to provide a comfortable and convenient shopping environment for families”.

Twinkle Toes, Soft Play Baby Cafe, in Norwich was voted best independent establishment.

A huge congratulations goes to both companies and a heartfelt thank you for valuing the importance and necessity for such a space. Let’s hope that other companies follow suit and improve what they have on offer for mums and dads and their little ones.

And a huge well done to Sudocrem for running the Sudocrem Care and Protect Baby Changing Room Awards.

A little tube of Sudocrem is always on Lola’s changing unit at home. It’s not surprising that they have been shortlisted in the Best Baby Skincare category in the Tommy Awards. If you too swear by the product, you can vote for Sudocrem by clicking here.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post and I received compensation for writing it. However all words and opinions are my own and I was not asked to mention Sudocrem in the Tommy Awards, this was simply because I love the product.

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Me & Him

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As Valentines Day is approaching, I thought it would be a good time to share with you a little bit about the main man in my life. He will hate this, he very much doesn’t like being centre of attention but he’s pretty fab and he has made me a very happy girlie so I think he deserves a bit of blog love!

I worked with Luke for many years before we got together. I can honestly say that I fell in love with one of my best friends. And that’s amazing.

He knows me better than I know myself. He gave me two handsome step sons and two gorgeous babies who are my entire world.

Our wedding day was my dream. I would relive it all again in a heartbeat if I could.

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They say opposites attract and although there are some things that make us very similar, we are more different then we are alike. But that’s why we work.

It’s easy. We don’t row…. Well apart from when he lost his keys the other morning!!

Here are my Me & Him isms:

Me: I have red milk on my cereal

Him: He has blue milk, yuk!

Me: I love Diet Coke

Him: He loves full Coke, again, yuk!

Me:I’m such a light sleeper – it’s rubbish

Him: He can sleep for England, any noise, anywhere.

Me: Regretfully, I can get very worked up over things and get very anxious

Him: He is so laid back, he nearly falls over.

Me: If I want something, I have to have it now

Him: He can wait.

Me: I’m frivolous

Him: He’s much more sensible.

Me: I like the butter on my toast to melt

Him: He likes his toast to cool down before he puts butter on.

Me: I never lose my car keys

Him: He always loses his keys.

 Me: I’m rather tidy … he will probably disagree

Him: He’s not …  now he will disagree!

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He really can read me like a book. At times, that’s truly irritating but deep down, I love it.  I rely on him for far more than I should. He makes me feel safe. I’m immensely proud of him; for the person he has grown up to be; for the way he brings up our children and for being one of the best teachers I know. He is so good at his job. He is a credit to the teaching profession.

It’s ironic: I live with him, I work with him yet I don’t spend time with him enough.

I tell him everyday, but incase you’re reading this, Luke, I love you.

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7 Things You Never Knew About Me

I was tagged over on Facebook to do this by my lovely friend, Emma. At first, I thought no way! I can’t even think of 7 interesting facts about myself, that I would want to divulge! And 7 things you never knew…. well, with a blog that’s pretty tricky, as part of my decision to write a blog meant that I made a conscious decision to share elements of mine and my family’s life with you.

Anyway, you may or may not know some of these but I thought I’d give it go and share a tiny insight into little old me.

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1. My hair is really, really, dark brown and very curly. Not the gorgeous soft curl that I’m always envious of. Oh no, that would have been too much of a genetic dream. More like the frizzy curl that’s no good to anybody. Bleach highlights and GHDs have probably wrecked my hair beyond measure but I feel much better for it!

2. I don’t watch soaps or dramas. Forgive me for the gender stereotyping, but I’m much more of a man when it comes to my TV habits. Match of the Day on a Saturday night is what I look forward to and don’t even get me started about the Darts. I once saw Raymond Van Barneveld throw a 9 dart finish at the Betway Premier League Darts in Bournemouth. It was amazing.

3. I failed my first driving test because I hit a parked car’s wing mirror! Oops!

4. I used to swim for my county and had to make a decision between continuing with swimming at a competitive level or going to University. I used to swim 8 times a week, some training sessions were before school at an unearthly hour. I look back on it now and think how wonderful my parents were to support me in that, getting up at 5.30am to take me training. In the end I chose a career in teaching so I gave it all up to go to University for 4 years.

5. I was nominated for a National Teaching award in 2o1o.

6. I really don’t like animals. Cats and fish especially. Sorry to any friends or family but I’m really quite scared of cats. Their eyes, teeth and claws look so vicious and I’m terribly allergic to them so that probably influences my feelings towards the feline variety. I really think I have a phobia of fish. I find it difficult to look at them in a fish tank. It’s their scales, ewwww! My lovely friend, Sarah even has a fish in her tank at home that belongs to Harley. Harley wanted a pet fish and as much as I love my son, that was a definite No, not in this house! I’m definitely not an animal person.

7. I’ve written a children’s picture book. I did send it off to a couple of publishers recently, but to no avail. But hey, JK Rowling didn’t get signed up for ages so you never know….maybe one day?

So is there anything that people don’t know about you… that you’re happy to share?!

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Stopping at two
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Name three things

Name 3 Things ….

This week’s Name 3 Things requires me to head back a few years (only a few years, ahem) to when I was a teenager. Oh, how that time was one of total fun and of wanting to be older than I was. I got my first ever job as a lifeguard when I was 16, learnt to drive and passed my test when I was 17, went to Uni when I was 18 and of course dived into the world of clubbing and boys! Although in truth, I think my mum would say that boys came a lot earlier than that!

I blame the likes of these three lovely men… Because this week, it’s to name your 3 teenage celeb crushes.

1. Michael J Fox

"Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly in Back to the Future, 1985" by Source.

“Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly in Back to the Future, 1985” by Source.

Oh I longed for Marty McFly to take me for a ride in his black jeep. Or for a trip back in time in his DeLorean time machine. It’s funny, I now really dislike sci-fi films. The concept of things so far outside or beyond reality is far too much for my little mind to cope with. But only the other day, we were chatting to Ethan about how some of the ideas from the film which were predicted for the future, have unbelievably already come true: multi screen TVs, handheld wireless games, video conferencing, is there a Hoverboard out there?!

2. Lee Sharpe

Image courtesy of zimbio.com

Image courtesy of zimbio.com

I love football. I did then and I still do now. Luckily I didn’t know my husband when this man was on my wall. He wouldn’t have approved of the red shirt!

3. Matthew Broderick

Image courtesy of therangeplace.forummotions.com

Image courtesy of therangeplace.forummotions.com

This one makes me laugh. I used to long for a Ferris Bueller to take me out for a day of fun while I should be at school! I loved the scene where he pretends to be poorly in bed. His mum falls for the contraption he makes to convince her that he’s in bed asleep. I love a good quote (hence my Mindful Monday series) and one of the greatest quotes that I live by, is from the film:

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So who were your celeb crushes as a teenager??

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Behind the scenes of a Christmas Craft Fair

Who doesn’t love a craft fair? And a Christmas one at that?

I love craft fairs.

I love discovering a person’s talent. I’m so envious of people who have a talent that they can turn into a self employed business. Some say that my talent is teaching or perhaps writing…? but I’m definitely not crafty, not one little bit. I’m not sure if I have a creative bone in my body. I do my bit to try and be a mummy who does crafts with their children but it’s far from a picture perfect image. Footprint Christmas tree cards ended up a messy splodge in the bin and don’t even get me started on the Make Your Own Snow or Salt Dough decorations!

Fortunately, all is not lost on the creative front because my sister makes up for what I severely lack.
She taught herself to make jewellery and now has her own business making and selling handmade silver jewellery, worldwide.

A couple of weeks ago, she held a stall at the New Forest Christmas Craft Fair and I went along to help her.

It was so interesting to be on the other side of the table and to see all of the hard work and effort that goes into creating and crafting a table that screams, “No, don’t walk passed, come and have a look at my pretty table and buy something!!”

My sister was lucky enough to have a stall in one of the marquees, to say it was warm though, was an understatement. I did have lots of layers on and a sneaky blanket over my legs and a warm flask of mulled cider, was most welcome.

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The marquee looked so bare before all the stalls were set up and I wondered how on earth it was going to be transformed.

The set up begins …

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My sister used a cloth to cover her table that complemented the pale blue boxes that Tinysilver is known for. I was given my orders as to where everything should be delicately placed.

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I bought a sign for my sister as a surprise, she loved it and it looked great hanging on her stall. The handmade wooden signs are made by a very talented friend. You can have a look at Poppy’s Patch Facebook page here for all of her fabulous designs. I can thoroughly recommend.

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My sister used cleverly cut pieces of wood to display various pieces of jewellery. I loved the cute little ring display logs and the cut log to hold the earrings that my brother in law made (you can tell he’s an architect!) The twinkly lights, lit up the table beautifully.

Ta-dah…all ready to go!

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 When the doors opened, I felt strangely nervous that I didn’t want to let her down!

I kept asking how to package everything up and blimey, when she nipped off to get a drink, I was so anxious to be left on my own!!

As soon as I’d made my first solo sale, I felt more relaxed. When someone told me how talented I was to make such beautiful jewellery, it took a lot of strength to not soak up the praise but instead relay the accreditation to the person sat next to me.

The atmosphere was really lovely. Festive, warm and very friendly.

To see the little blue boxes packaged up and fly off the shelves table, made me so proud of her.

Many hours of preparation went in to getting ready for the craft fair. As all of my sister’s jewellery is made to order, she had to make a lot of stock to take along. She has a little studio at home where she designs and makes everything.

Here is a little peek at those hours of prep:

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and look how pretty everything is when it’s packaged up:

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Craft fairs are such a great way of supporting local handmade businesses. I absolutely enjoyed my day helping out. I loved being on the other side of the table, but I loved even more, seeing the hard work that my sister puts into her business every day, pay off.

You can take a look at Tinysilver here.

She truly is living proof that having a little seed of an idea can grow into something huge.

I admire her every inch of her.

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