My #19for19 reviewed


1. Bake a meringue.  Done on a variety of occasions. Meringues, Baked Alaska etc..  The recipes were much easier than expected.

2. Have some nail art for the holidays.  Completed.  I have discovered a nail bar in town and now am having my nails down regularly, currently I have navy sparkles on my nails.

3. Prepare a cub camp blanket.  I did this in time for Little Man’s first camp of 2019 sewing on his old Beaver badges to his cub blanket.  He used it on all three camps this year.

4. Be competitive in a sport.  Oh wow, this was definitely my biggest accomplishment this year.  I got serious about my running and joined the park run community.  Initially I was planning one run a month to monitor time, but having started in May, I find my total is already standing at 17 and I’m planning new park run adventures.  Best of all, Little Miss has joined my running hobby and managed 12 park runs too.  I also did the 100 miles of summer challenge and am currently working on the 100 miles of winter.

5. Use more essential oils.  Yes to this one too.  I have a lovely new diffuser and have researched and used a variety of oils.

6. Oh this was difficult and not achieved.  I’ve read plenty this year, but I think at the start I chose the wrong classic books which took too much focus and commitment.  I decided I really wanted to read for fun.  It’s been a serious year and I need a little light relief in my reading.

7. I’m a tea drinker and this has been a great item to tick off.

8. This was great fun, I did so many playlists and discovered some new music and old favourites in my creations.

9. Another item ticked off, and I’m still wearing my Charlotte Tilbury make up.

10. Done.

11. So very proud of this achievement, I’m still two days away and will write a separate post but my annual average of today is 13100, well over my 12k target.

12. Sadly for the second year in a row I didn’t manage this, 3rd time lucky?  I did try to do this but dates got complicated.

13. I tried a few new perfumes but nothing was perfectly me, I’ll continue on my quest.

14. Completed.

15. I was thwarted by a migraine on my first planned visit and then by a refurbishment on my second try, definitely on my list for next year.

16. Completed.

17. This year our local Santa run became a Frosty 5k and Little Miss and I signed up for it in December.  Due to v bad weather it’s been postponed to January, so the intention is there and we’re looking forward to it next weekend.

18. I have loved this challenge.  I’ve bought more flowers and learnt bout more varieties. One to continue.

19. Completed.


So given that I will finish my year steps challenge and do the run next weekend, I think that this year I have achieved 15 of my #19.  I’m proud of this and love the distraction of the project.  Of course, I have drafted my 20 for 2020, I love challenge or two.  



Christmas 🎄 Day Sparkles ✨

This week rather than do a week of Little Sparkles I’m focusing on the big day itself, Christmas Day. I’m hoping these are the memories which will warm my heart when I’m a little, old lady in my cosy retirement home. Christmas Day is busy and intense although you never really feel it until the late evening when you finally sit down to relax. We spent Christmas Eve night listening out for little sounds thus making a poor night’s sleep and then it’s finally a 6am wake up call.


Mr S and I work hard together to get the presents right. It really is a shared job and he has done numerous shopping trips to big town to buy the bigger items. I’ve had the fun job of the stockings, sometimes it’s the little things which bring great joy. A multi purpose pen, consisting of a ruler, spirit level. screw driver and pen was a surprise hit and my old iPhone with a SIM card and a data allowance was the tops! Little Miss is very style conscious now so she has clothes, footwear and make up whilst Little Man loves his new army game mat and scooter. After lunch we scooted down to the skate park to try new tricks and flicks. It was a beautiful, bright day and a walk was a much needed break for us all.

For the first time this year we received presents from Little Miss bought with her pocket money savings. They were lovely and she was so thoughtful in her choices. She bought her brother crayons in the shape of Lego bricks. Mr S a little jar of sand and I received some wooden tree decorations. All gifts were very appreciated.

Christmas Dinner

I know it may be an unfashionable comment but I love preparing the Christmas dinner. I read Good Food Vegetarian magazine and plan my menu carefully in advance. On the the day I enjoy being in a kitchen full of Christmas flavours and warmth with the Christmas morning show playing on Classic FM. This years menu is as follows

As well as the food, I like to make an effort with our table decorations, the table should be as inviting as the meal. This year our table looked like this …

The little Christmas pud has a chocolate hidden inside and is a hand knitted decoration bought at the Christmas market. As well as the Santa cutlery holders I also had a similar design of reindeers. Setting off the table was a flower arrangement made by our neighbour and Little Miss on Christmas Eve.

A Christmas Outfit

I like to plan a special outfit for Christmas Day and this year wore a pleated ombré skirt and simple navy top. The snowflake slippers were a sale bargain which I unexpectedly found when I did the Christmas food shop on Monday. When we went out for our walk I swapped the slippers for a pale pair of Converse pumps which matched well. For much of the morning I was also wearing my Snowman apron.

Christmas Day activities

Christmas Day is so much more than presents and after an early start we enjoyed a relaxed morning. Mr S went to collect Grandad from a local hotel. Initially I felt a bit sad that he was staying at a hotel but we really saw his frailty this holiday. I do understand that we are noisy and lively and he needed quiet and a space to relax. When he arrived mid morning, our neighbours also popped over with presents and another friend passed by too. I love this little buzz of friendship and sharing the love at Christmas. We FaceTimed my parents so they could join in our celebration too.

With some tech presents there was some time needed to be spent on setting up a Fitbit account and a Google Mini but this wasn’t too long, technology is simple these days. With Little Man having a new scooter and skateboard, it was inevitable that we would spend some time at the Skate park. With Grandad too frail to go out, I took the children out for a walk and scoot whilst Mr S finished tidying the kitchen and his Dad could relax.

We didn’t switch on the television until the children had gone to bed and Mr S and I could settle down to Gavin and Stacey. We used to love this series and bought the box set years ago, probably the only one we ever had. I was genuinely excited by the 10 year reunion and it didn’t disappoint. I love that the show’s humour is built on its ordinariness, creating funny moments from the things families and friends do. As with the best of comedies there were poignant moments too and very identifiable situations. The cliffhanger was so unexpected, we need more Gavin and Stacey please.

There were only two programmes I wanted to watch over the holiday, The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Gavin and Stacey and they were both wonderful Christmas viewing

I loved our Christmas Day it had special moments but was just a day when I felt surrounded by love.

Christmas rules in the Sparkles household

Having written this blog for 5 years and written many Christmas posts I thought I would share some rules and quirkinesses of our Christmas. Every family has their own way to create their holiday and here are our special customs.

1. Tree wars. Me S and the children want the tree to go up on the first of December, I argue for a later date. This year it went up on December 7th, the first full weekend of the month which was a good compromise for us all.

2. My tableaux. Whilst the children and Mr S like to decorate the tree, I love creating different themed displays throughout the house. In the kitchen we have the gingerbread window with the driftwood tree. We also have a polar window, the nativity mantle piece and our bay window tree display. Lights and bunting feature prominently in all displays.

My gingerbread window, recent Christmas photos are normally on display too.

3. Decorations. I’m a lot keener on decorations than Mr S and am always looking for something special. Sometimes I may pop them straight into the decorations box so at Christmas time, I can sweetly reply oh this old thing! I also do try to purchase a decoration on holiday every year as a memory of family times. I also think you can never have too many twinkling lights.

4. I love my Christmas themed homeware. I feel that in December you should only be eating a mince pie from a Christmas plate! Likewise you should only dry your hands on a Christmas towel. Unusually I haven’t Christmas bedding (yet)

5. Sparkling house. This is one from my childhood, on Christmas Eve the house must be clean and tidy, fresh linen on every bed and empty washing and ironing baskets.

6. Tommy the elf. Tommy is the best Christmas tradition and the nightly notes are a wonderful diary of our month.

7. Christmas food is for Christmas, at the earliest Christmas Eve, don’t ask for it before!

8. Whilst my family think they’re humouring me, I know that secretly they love their Christmas jumpers!

9. For at least the past 25 years, I’ve always had lychees at Christmas. It’s a bit random. but I’m as happy tucking into my lychees as a posh box of chocolates!

10. I love cooking and I start planning my menu as soon as the Good Food Vegetarian is published. On Christmas Day cooking in the kitchen listening to the carols on Classic FM is my time. The Christmas Eve menu is always simple pie, mash and pies so I can create a special dessert. This year it was Baked Alaska which definitely has the wow factor.

11 My simple pleasure is to sit down and watch a 30 minute animated story with the children. This year it’s The Tiger who Came to Tea. The cuddles, laughter and warmth make it one of those special moments.

I love reading about others’ traditions, the simplest actions can make the fondest memories.

A Christmas Day out ..

Last year we went to the illuminated Christmas tree festival with my parents and enjoyed it so much we returned this year and decided to make it a festive day out. We started by meeting for a Mexican lunch complete with Santa hats , then pottering around the Christmas markets before dusk fell and finally exploring the Winter Wonderland. The trees are beautiful and really give you the festive feels.

This year we added something different to our trip and after exploring the trees we went on the Ferris wheel to see the display from up high. I love a Ferris wheel as does my dad and it added a little something special to our day, the lights twinkling below us.

Christmas Sparkles December 21st 2019

This is my favourite time of Christmas. With the exception of fresh food my shopping is done, cards have been posted, presents wrapped and delivered and we have finished for the Christmas break. Its been a week of Christmas concerts and parties in schools, a much needed night of adult company in a cosy pub and a week of long days and late nights.

Little Man had his Christmas concert on Wednesday morning and his class sang Sparkle and Shine from Nativity with lots of actions and all wearing sunglasses. It was a delight! The concert was at a local church and it was an exceptionally good concert, setting the right tone with a nice variety of carols and songs, mixing modern and traditional, some for the children to perform and others for all to sing. I felt that lovely Christmas magic as I left. Fortunately this continued as I returned to my school (all teachers get time off for Christmas concerts) and we had our Christmas dinner. I was also out with my friends in the evening so it was a lovely day, if not a little tiring.

I do love the special Christmas moments at my school at this time of year. It means a lot of variety and extra work in my role, Co director of our concert, party planner, waitress, lighting rigger, it’s a mad, crazy week and of course one of my favourite weeks. The photos above show our Christmas card design for this year and the wreath made by one of our enterprise groups now sitting proudly on our front gate.

This week I would like to mention our Christmas book for 2019, The Christmas Journey. It was a recommendation on Twitter and has been our perfect read in December. It’s a very clever book, blending the Christmas story of a pilgrimage with a tale backwards through time and a magical advent calendar linking to modern times. It’s much simpler to read than to describe and we are hooked and can’t wait to read how it ends. I love to have a Christmas book and read a chapter aloud to the children each evening in December, it’s a moment of peace and togetherness.

Now all the jobs are done, I like to spend the last few evenings before Christmas by watching some seasonal shows or films. Inspired by Little Man’s class song I watched Nativity for the first time, what a gem of a Christmas movie. Although The Muppet Christmas Carol still is my number 1 Christmas movie. I feel Nativity is a contender for my top 5!

My week of Sparkles ✨

After all the lovely Christmas feels last weekend, this was quite a different week with a General election. Whatever your politics, an election isn’t a festive addition to December. However despite the week we had a special day today which really was full of sparkles.

Whilst we love to do things as a family, we also take time to take the children out individually on a trip of their choice for some special 1:1 time. Today was a SAM (Son and mummy) day and Little Man had chosen to visit the aviation museum by the regional airport. This was a hidden gem of a museum, entry of £3 manned by the most gorgeous and friendly volunteers and a brilliant experience. It’s mainly outdoor and you can explore and sit in the cockpits of a huge variety of aircraft. It was just the most amazing playground for Little Man. We waved as the planes in the airport landed and took off on the runway next to us, listened in to the air traffic communications, tried to land a plane via a simulator, dressed up as pilots and just had the best time. We’ll definitely be returning in the summer with a picnic for more fun.

After the museum, we drove into the nearby town for lunch and to potter around.

One of the features of the town is it’s beautiful priory church and I wanted to pop in to light a candle and take a few minutes to think of someone very special and loved. By a beautiful coincidence a choir was practicing for their concert this evening and the church was filled with the sound of Handel’s Messiah. It was a special moment and gave me an unexpected feeing of peace whilst reflecting.

After our visit to the church we picked up a few Christmas presents and came home to a family curry night. With the Strictly final our viewing tonight, it’s been a really sparkly day.

Christmas windows

Early on Sunday morning I did my Christmas shop window run (it’s a thing for me!) I run through town and appreciate every Christmas window. It’s a slow but a special run. Our high street is full of independent traders and their windows help create the festive atmosphere in town. There is a little bit of magic as you look into every window.

Sometimes it’s the little things which make the memories. I remember when the children were little, waiting for the dark, wrapping up warm and walking into town with a push chair and a toddler, peering into windows and delighting in the lights and decorations.