Life Sparkles ✨

The Makeover.

As you may be aware, I’m not a great woman for wearing make up. Never without my lippy but I rarely bother with anything else, I’ve always kind of gone for the more natural look. With the vitiligo increasing on my face and the video/photo shoot coming up I decided to try out some looks.

A long time friend of mine had trained as a make up artist and I love to follow her posts on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/mann_jag/ Jag predominately does the make up for Asian wedding parties and she is a super hair stylist also. The universe working it’s magic, the day before I contact her to ask about a make up trial, Jag messages me about meeting up for a coffee and a chat. So we combined both. Jag was also eager to try out some western make up looks so that she can branch out into that market. We had a fabulous few hours together, we talked and talked, we tried out looks and she made my hair and face look amazing.

As you can see, Jag did a spectacular job. The make up wasn’t heavy, it felt light to wear and wow, look at how she brought out the blue in my eyes!! Jag was a fabulous teacher too. She explained to me how to put on various make up’s, the tips of the right products, where you don’t need to spend lots of money on applicators and how to get the right angles for photographs. It was such a lovely morning together and all day when I passed a mirror, I didn’t recognise myself.

I also bought some new make-up from Sculpted by Amiee https://sculptedbyaimee.co.uk/ and I’m now a firm lover of her products. Jag was impressed too. I bought the all in one beauty base moisturiser and primer with built in SPF and it’s just amazing. So light when applied and I wear it alone or with a touch of blusher. The blusher I purchased is the Peach Blush Pop from the Cream Luxe collection. Again, easy to apply, gives a pop of gentle colour and a little goes a long way. For the lips I bought the HydraLip in Peach and it’s a beautiful, soft balm which moisturises the lips. Once again I have followed the Sculpted by Aimee account on Instagram for a long time and I really wanted to try her mascara so I added my name to the waiting list. I wasn’t disappointed when I received one. Amazing product. Again, very light, gives the lashes the look of being full and strong, no clumps in sight.

Love Hearts too…

With the vitiligo increasing especially on my face, I have extremely white skin, as in snow white where the melanin has disappeared and then a tanned area where I have been in the sun. The make up I have chosen doesn’t totally cover up the vitiligo and that’s my choice. I wanted a light, subtle make up to give me a little additional confidence because sometimes people do take a second glance when they see the extreme white patches on my face. That’s fine. It is what it is. I enjoy wearing this make up, it’s light, easy to apply and remove and it gives me the look I wanted.

For information on Vitiligo visit the NHS website https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitiligo/

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Morning Posts.

If you follow me on Instagram (and if you aren’t, why aren’t you?) you will know that most mornings I post a good morning story just to say hello to the day and to anyone who sees the story. I think it’s just lovely to say good morning to people and smile and most of the time it cheers the other person up, gives them a lift and for all we know, we might be the only person that has spoken to them that day. Now of course unless I do a video or post a photo of me smiling, you can’t see the smile but I hope that my morning snapshot of the view outside my door gives someone a different viewpoint or that the music I choose with the post gives them happy vibes.

Just recently we have had the most beautiful, hot and I mean hot, weather in the UK and my good morning photo’s have looked much better than the usual grey, possibly raining, or just very cold snaps I usually get to take. I have loved them so much I decided to share them on my blog for all to see.

I’m not a careful photographer, I point the phone and click and the two with the early morning sunshine I absolutely love. Those were taken at himself’s place when I’ve been over helping him care for his Mom. You can see from two of the photo’s that the grass has just become dry dust with the lack of rain. These true blue skies remind me of holidays either at home as a child with my cousins where we would lie on the ground, gazing up at the sky waiting for a cloud to pass or holidays abroad where the blue skies appear to be just endless.

Working in the sunshine.

I feel like I’m just chatting on now for no apparent reason, I’m just feeling so happy and at peace with life at the moment and it’s been a long time coming. The Summer sunshine, the music on the radio, the sound of the aircraft in the sky and sitting outside in my garden typing is just making me so happy.

There’s a country song which contains the lyrics ‘I’m a little drunk on you and high on summertime’. I think that today I’m a little drunk on life and high on summertime.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

How does your garden grow?

With our wonderful British weather, the weeds have enjoyed many growth spurts. It sometimes seems that as you pull one up another appears in it’s place. I do find pulling weeds immensely satisfying and adds to the healing therapy I have discovered in gardening. Your mind wanders free and yet is still on the task in hand. You can see the fruits of your labour, in some cases, almost immediately which is very satisfying. I find that when I have cut the lawn and done the edging or weeded an area visible from the window, I keep looking out at my handiwork, priding myself on a job well done. I sometimes need a soak in the bath to ease the tired out muscles but so worth it.

Some of my parents plants have come into their own again this year. I’ve been looking after these plants for the past two years and some plants I put in myself have blossomed this year which made me so happy. Half the time I wonder if I have planted something upside down so for it to actually grow through the soil and then bloom is quite the achievement for me.

As you can see I even managed a small potato harvest. I have planted some more for the September harvest and I’m planning to sow some spinach and maybe try some beetroot. My Uncle has given me two varieties of green bean plants which are coming along nicely so fingers crossed. Himself prepared the potatoes following a Canarian Potato recipe as we had the various Canarian sauces from a previous trip to Lanzarote. Although I say it myself, those potatoes tasted fabulous.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Everything Changed

This made so much sense to me.

I seen this quote recently and it spoke volumes to me. Everything in my life changed, absolutely everything and yet here I am feeling more me than I ever did before. How does that even make any kind of sense? Yet it makes perfect sense. I’m still the woman I was before and yet I have emerged into a new me. I’m still emerging into a new me. I know we change as we grow, as we experience life, as life happens to us. Perhaps our values and our truth do not change, the core that is us as a person, that may bend and shape as we live through experiences and learn life lessons. But there is something about this emergence which has a feeling of this is the me I was always meant to be. That in turn makes me wonder if this new me was always hidden within, never daring to come out and in latter years when I was in my caring role, there was no time or space to come out.

Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

I have a sense of freedom, a real sense of freedom that I’ve not experienced before. Sometimes this sense of freedom is scary; that protective wall of having someone to ask about decisions you are making, someone to check that you are not totally off the wall in your thinking or in what you are about to do. My parents were fabulous soundboards. Even if I still went off and did what I was going to do, it was very useful to bounce my ideas off them first and I would take their responses on board before I made the final decision. When I was making my decision about giving up work to care for them, I had a meeting with their Doctor and told him what I was thinking of doing and why. I’ll always remember him saying that he could see both Mom and Dad within me. Dad in weighing things up, deliberating and making decisions and Mom as this amazing, wild, spirited woman. I think that is the most wonderful thing anyone has ever said to me and I love that I have their traits. Without me knowing or realising, they instilled strength and independence into me and that undoubtedly has helped me through the past couple of years.

I do of course have himself to bounce my ideas off and he is very like Dad in his thinking. He is a very logical and analytical thinker where as I go with the inner voice and ‘it just is’ so as you can imagine we have some amusing conversations when I’m discussing plans with him. However, he will point things out to me that I may not have thought of and he would never try to prevent me carrying out what I want to do, he just wants to be sure I have thought it through. He can see the pre-carer me coming through and also this new free spirited, I want to try loads of things me that is emerging.

Stay Wild Moonchild.

From school days there were always people saying I shouldn’t be singing and dancing around the place, I was too bubbly, I was wild, I wasn’t ladylike and I suppose the more you hear this the more you believe it. The negative words which affected my confidence for most of my life. Until you realise the issue isn’t with you, it’s with them. There’s a huge sense of freedom in this realisation and I have seen many a quote state that someone’s opinion of you has nothing to do with you but all to do with them. Sometimes I regret not having this new found confidence years ago but then again, perhaps now is my time to shine. Stay wild moonchild.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Still Running…

Truth.

Well, five weeks in and I’m still motivated and in the mindset to get fitter, eat healthier and tone up. I’m impressed with myself, I wasn’t sure when I started this journey that I wouldn’t have slipped up by now. But I’m still going strong. That Summer trip to Ibiza is still the carrot dangling in front of me and wanting to fit back into my Summer clothes, back into my jeans and also get some confidence back to push myself out of the comfort zone I have settled back into and get myself out there singing. 2022 is the year of making it happen, that’s what I said at the start of the year and I’m still aiming to do this.

My energy has increased so much already it’s untrue. I alternate my workouts from a walk around the block, Couch 25K (C25K) and if the weather is really bad outside, I do a home workout with Lucy Wyndham Read https://www.youtube.com/user/LWRFitnessChannel/featured Sometimes it is a real chore to push myself outside, especially in this very cold wintery weather but I always feel so much better once I return home. I have also kept to my dry February, no Prosecco and strangely I haven’t missed my Friday night tipple at all.

Wednesday afternoon has become batch cooking afternoon whilst I listen to podcasts. It has taken some weeks but I have really got into this routine of cooking from scratch using fresh vegetables, herbs and spices. I don’t really make a plan of what I’m going to cook, I just go with whatever I have in and as I love pasta, I usually make some kind of pasta bake. A recipe I found on Instagram and has become a weekly staple for me is for banana, oat and peanut butter bakes. I find with these that I can have one with a cuppa mid afternoon and I’m not looking for snacks and treats to fill me up.

Banana, Oats and Peanut Butter Bakes.

Very easy to make; 3 bananas mashed up, add 40g of peanut butter and mix well, then add 100g of porridge oats and again mix well. Place in a baking tin and bake for 30 minutes on Gas mark 4, Electric 180 c. I find cutting into squares when just out of the oven is easiest. Leave to cool and then place in an airtight container. They stay fresh for about four days. I have adapted the recipe a little over the weeks, I have added cinnamon and also some chocolate sprinkles to the top. Himself doesn’t like them as they aren’t sweet enough but for a semi healthy bite they serve their purpose.

Post Run Selfie

As I write this post, I’m midway through week four of C25K and at times puffing my way around. When there is a lot of traffic or people around I just remind myself of the quote about lapping everyone on the couch or I visualise myself running on the promenade by the ocean in the warm sunshine. That gives me a real boost to keep going. I have my daily cappuccino and have managed to stay away from chocolate, cakes and biscuits. The season of Lent starts this week on March 2nd and I would have given those particular items up anyway so I’ll just continue without them for now. It would be totally unrealistic for me to say that I will never eat cake or chocolate again, of course I will, I love chocolate. And as for never drinking Prosecco again? Never going to happen! For now my focus is on getting fitter and healthier, powering my body to do what I want to do.

Good Health Mantra

I feel this health and fitness boost is another part of me emerging from loss, emerging into the new me and embracing that I need to have a certain level of fitness to carry out and enjoy the career in music that I have chosen to follow. I’m also mindful that I am getting older and that we don’t know how long we have here on earth. I want to do what I can to keep myself healthy, fit and able to live life to the fullest for as long as I can. Starting new careers, new fitness regimes and discovering who you are isn’t just for younger people, it’s for all people and it’s never too late to start. If I can do it then so can you. I truly believe if you really want to do something, you’ll do it. Just start, baby steps if you want to, that first step is sometimes the hardest but so worth it. Don’t give up.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Here I go again…

As usual I’m on my get healthier for the new year, I’m as regular as clockwork on this one. This year however is the first time I have weighed in at two stone over what was my usual weight, TWO STONE!!! 28 LBS!!! I’ve gone way beyond my clothes being a little tight, they just don’t fit at all. Something else I have noticed is that I feel sluggish in myself and running upstairs gets me out of breath. Dancing in the kitchen also puffs me out. Now I’m well aware that as we get older we are not going to be as fit as we were in our twenties, thirties or even forties but there is no reason that we cannot be as fit and healthy as we can be as we are right now, irrespective of age.

Guilty as charged.

I have a few incentives for getting healthier, fitter and a tad trimmer. Healthier so that I have more energy to do the things I want to do, to not feel sluggish and to hopefully live a longer and healthier life. I’m hopefully going to Ibiza in June this year. I say hopefully as this holiday was booked for 2020, postponed to 2021 and postponed again to 2022 so fingers crossed it’s third time lucky. I want to be fitting into my summer clothes for the holiday so June is a huge incentive for me to trim down. I am happy to embrace the curves and be body positive. I also acknowledge that carrying this additional weight is not good for my health and it has affected my confidence. Purely because I am not 100% happy with myself and I know this will prevent me from having the confidence to push the comfort zone and get up on a stage a sing. For me to step on a stage to sing will take a lot of self belief and bravery and I just won’t have that if I don’t feel happy in myself or my clothes.

Body Positivity.

Lockdown’s, restrictions, celebrations and really any excuse for eating the goodies and drinking prosecco was what I did over the past two years so no wonder I gained the weight. Experiencing burnout last summer meant that I stopped exercising because I just didn’t have the energy to do it, another reason for the weight gain. I got lazy about cooking for myself and relied on pre packed meals and no matter how healthy they appear to be, it’s just not the same as home cooked food. I was out for meals, cocktails, pizza nights, fish and chips and of course Christmas and New Year goodies as we really didn’t have Christmas celebrations in 2020. I’m not making excuses here, I’m holding myself accountable. I enjoyed it all, every single mouthful and I have no regrets. Now is the time though to take control. I have plans, things I want to do and I want to be the best I can be to do them.

My Mantra for 2022.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

January

Magical January.

Some people find January and the start of the year very flat and depressing. After all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas and New Year season, the glitz and the glamour, the excitement and the sparkle, I suppose January can feel quite uninspiring. Winter weather, darker nights and mornings, a long time to wait for payday, January can be a long, dark month.

I don’t know why and taking the above into consideration, I have always loved January. The evenings are starting to get brighter with the promise of Spring on the way. I love it especially if we get those cold, clear, frosty days, it’s almost like a cleansing of the new year ready for the activities ahead to take place.

Live in the magic.

I suppose I am ever the optimist. Always trying to see the positives, look for the bright side of situations, seeing the sparkle however dim it may be in some situations. I must be a pain in the ass to those who see January as a dark place. I hope though that by reaching out to those who are struggling, listening to their story and giving a loving word, we can let a little of the brightness of the new year through and help them to see a path forwards.

365 reasons to celebrate.

January you are awesome, the gateway to a new year, fresh and brighter days ahead.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

New Year 2022

Heather Stillufsen Quotes

Here we are another new year beckons. Has 2021 gone by in a flash for you? Did you set resolutions last year and did you keep to them? Did you set goals or make plans and did you carry them out or was it a case that as the year progressed you had ideas and acted on them? Sometimes we put a lot of pressure on ourselves, especially at new year, to make plans, set goals and follow dreams whether they be diet and fitness (which yes, I’ll be on that one yet again) or career changes, life changes…the list goes on.

I was watching a video recently about not setting resolutions but choosing a word to live by for the year ahead. The man in the video had chosen the word ‘Growth’ as his word for 2021 and tried to ensure that the actions he took throughout the year led to growth within his life in someway. I thought this was a good idea, rather than setting resolutions that I wouldn’t keep to, I would choose a word for 2022. However, I can settle on one word for the year ahead, I have too many in my mind and cannot decide on just one.

Guilty as charged.

I am proud of myself for pushing ahead and recording the four songs I have written. I feel this year has been a year of preparation and hard work ready for next year and launching the music career properly. I know I have a lot of hard work ahead in order to make things happen, I’m ready. I feel there is good energy around for 2022, I think that it is really going to sparkle for everyone. As you get older you appreciate each day and take less for granted. In 2022 I want to celebrate each day, whether I’m working, relaxing, planning or singing. Each day is a new day to live and focus on our health, wellbeing, inner peace and happiness. We really do need to share our inner sparkle.

Celebrate each day and sparkle.

Wishing you all the most wonderfully Happy New Year, I hope 2022 brings you all you could wish for.

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

Christmas Season

I hope you have all enjoyed a wonderful Christmas season. I love the sparkle of the season, honestly it is my time with all the lights, glitter and sheer magic of this season. Thankfully it has been a little better for us this year than last although it would appear we still have a way to go in our battle with the pandemic.

Christmas Sparkles

I put my Christmas tree up this year towards the end of November, during the first weekend of Advent. I felt nothing, no joy, no sadness, nothing, just numb. The previous two years I have put the tree up and it made me feel very sad, tears were shed, I missed my parents and the memories of our Christmas traditions with the putting up of the tree. It was always Mom and I who decorated the tree after Dad had assembled it. Once it was done, there would be tea, or sherry and the obligatory mince pies. We would wait for darkness to fall so that we could turn on the Christmas Tree lights and just stare in wonder at the beauty. But this year, I felt nothing. Perhaps this is a further sign of moving forwards with life? Perhaps I have lost the magic of Christmas within my heart this year? Perhaps a number of things, I don’t have the answer, it’s just how I felt on the day. I have shed tears since and no doubt I will in the future especially at such an emotional time as Christmas. Grief I am learning just hits as and when it wants, without warning and you just have to roll with it.

I do know that those that have gone before us don’t want us to be sad and unhappy. I’m sure that my parents and my sister would want new traditions to be formed, happy times shared with the friends and family we love and that we raise a glass, or a cup of tea to them in memory of Christmases past. We are here now, we are given the gift of life with each other each day and we mustn’t waste it. We need to celebrate each day with each other, support each other and share the joys and sadness that life brings to us all. Isn’t that what the message of Christmas is all about? Love.

Merry Christmas

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

It’s been a while!

It must be 2014 since I last visited the Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market. With no longer working in the city centre and being a full time carer for my parents, going out and about just didn’t happen. The market was cancelled last year due to Covid 19 and the various lockdown restrictions. Earlier in the month himself was able to take a break from his role as carer for his Mom and we went out and about. It felt like normal life and that in itself felt strange.

City Centre Vibes

I haven’t been to the city centre since June 2019 and it has changed a lot since then. There is a lot of construction taking place, some of which is in preparation of the Commonwealth Games taking place next year. The Christmas market is smaller than usual this year because of construction and also in order to limit numbers to try to prevent spread of Covid infection.

The garlic bread with cheese was huge, double the size that I remember from past years. Delicious! The Gulwein with amaretto shot tasted so good. Himself had his hot chocolate. The city was quiet, very quiet for a lunch time. Perhaps a lot of people are working remotely and also with our infection rates currently so high, people may be hesitant to venture into the city. We both felt a lack of atmosphere. Unusually warm for November it didn’t have that cold Winter feel. It was lunchtime so we didn’t experience the magic of the sparkling lights at night. However, we both felt that the reason for our lack of atmosphere wasn’t the market or the weather, it was because life has changed so drastically for us both since the last time we were there together. We enjoyed our trip out, it was lovely to spend some quality time together, to be out and about in our city but the magic of yesteryear was missing.

It was a lovely day out into the city. We talked about how the city was evolving and how our parents used to talk to us about what the city was like when they first moved here and the changes they had seen. It’s amazing the changes that have taken place in our lifetime and how something’s have actually reverted back to what was in place when our parents were younger. In Birmingham there are now trams and more tramlines being fitted in order to connect various city centre main areas. I remember my Dad laughing when I told him a few years ago about trams coming to the city and he told me that there were trams running through the city when he first arrived here and he seen the lines being taken up and main roads being laid in their place. So our cities evolve, change and yet history repeats itself in a modern form.

Nativity Scene

I was delighted to see the Nativity scene in a more prominent place. There were a few years, back when I worked in the city, that the nativity appeared to be pushed to the outside of the market area where not many people would pass by. That made me sad, after all it is Christ that is the reason for Christmas and whatever our beliefs, and for a multicultural, vibrant in differences city such as Birmingham, I don’t believe such an important aspect of Christmas should be pushed to the back of a bustling Christmas festival area. We should not be ashamed of our nativity scenes. Embracing each others cultures, backgrounds and festivals will only make us more connected and accepting of each other. And really that’s what it’s all about.

With love and sparkles xxx