social spark Aisling Beatha


Welcome to my blog. I hope you enjoy your stay, however short, and find something that interests and blesses you.

The tabs just below will take you to posts of particular topics. So if you are looking for my posts on food, fitness or creativity, you will find them there. You will also find my posts on thankfulness or other more contemplative posts, as well as a set of posts with traditional blessings from a number of different cultures.

You can find posts with labels not included in that list via the labels list over in the sidebar.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

50 Things To Do Before I Turn 50

Over the last couple of weeks I've begun to look forward to next year.  I realised that on my next birthday there will be 3 years until my 50th Birthday.  So I started writing a 50 things to do before I turn 50, list.  I know that some of the items will not make sense at first reading to my American friends, so I will be including links wherever possible.  If I've missed one that you don't understand, please ask.

These aren't ultimate bucket list items because I know our budget over those 3 years isn't going to be as expansive as I might like, so I'm not putting the big international trips and really expensive experiences on there, unless they involve staying with friends and therefore only needing to find the funds for the actual journey.

  1. Lose 10 lbs
    No explanation needed, except to say that since the start of the summer I have already lost 4 st 8 lbs, which is 64 lbs or 29kg.  Doing well so far, but this week I began taking some medication that will definitely slow that down and make it more difficult and am already seeing the effects of that.
  2. Lose 20 lbs
  3. Lose 30 lbs
  4. Lose 40 lbs
  5. Lose 50 lbs
  6. Reach Goal Weight (which is another few lbs beyond the 50lb mark)
    My eventual goal weight is to reach the top of a healthy weight range or my height, by all the usual charts. That means losing another 4 st 2 lbs, or 58l bs, 26.3kg. I might decide to stop before I get there, but we'll see.
  7. Discover how to move through the world as a woman of healthy weight.  Seriously, I’ve never done that as an adult.
  8. Hand back CPAP machine because I don’t need it anymore. (I can dream can’t I?)
    I have Sleep Apnoea, (sleep apnea for Americans) and use a CPAP machine at night in order to function as a human being during the day. 

    I had a particularly severe case in that my results in my sleep study were double what they would be in order to class someone as "severe". Every CPAP clinic appointment comes with a request for me to lose weight and the questions about what I am doing towards that goal. To be able to hand that machine back would be an incredible achievement, which may never happen, even if I lose all the weight, but like I said, I can dream, can't I?

  9. Have a professional photo session with hair and makeover
    If I reach goal weight, I will have lost over 8 1/2 stone, which is 119 lbs or 54kg, I think that will deserve a full on makeover and photo shoot.
  10. Move eldest son into a permanent home of his own
    He's currently working as a kind of intern with a Christian performing arts ministry and still has a room here at home.  It would be a big deal for him to move on from there and into a home of his own.
  11. Visit Keil Hill in Scotland

    Family will understand why.

  12. Visit Paris
    Well, duh! And for the record hubby, no, Euro Disney does NOT count, although that would be cool to do AS WELL.

  13. See Dana again (either me there, or her here)
    Dana is the friend I stayed with when I travelled to America some years ago.
  14. See the Northern Lights (or should this be a bucket list item?)
    At certain times of the year and in the right weather conditions it is possible to see the Northern Lights from Scotland or even Northern England, so it doesn't necessarily have to be a bucket list item.
  15. Watch a Meteor shower

  16. Fly Business class somewhere
    Again, cuz Duh! And because hubby got to fly business when he was upgraded while flying for work.
  17. Stay in a really unusual hotel or other holiday accommodation
    There are all sorts of incredible places to stay, even in the UK.  Check out a few of these:
  18. Visit a waterfall
    I already have a recommendation of a really awesome waterfall that would be easy to visit from home on a day trip I reckon.
    Pistyll Rhaeadr Falls - The tallest waterfall in Wales

  19. Eat fish and Chips on the sea front and don’t worry about the weight watchers points

  20. Walk the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge

  21. Visit all 15 UK National Parks

  22. Attend a grown up music festival
    Unless I do manage to hand back my CPAP machine camping is currently out of the question so it will be a day visit rather than a stay, and I'm thinking about something like Bearded Theory, or Moseley Jazz.

  23. Learn some basic BSL – at least enough to be able to say something like “I only understand a little, but can I help?”

  24. Plan and enact 25th Wedding anniversary celebration (it falls within the 3 years)

  25. Get a small tattoo  
    I'm thinking about getting some custom temporary tattoos in slightly different sizes of the design I'm thinking of to try it out and figure out what size works.

  26. Go Horse Riding  
    I've avoided this up until now because to ride at the weight I was, would have meant riding a huge carthorse or shire horse.  Even losing as much weight as I have would make the ride much more feasible and less scary, but at goal it will be awesome.

  27. Walk/Run a 5k 
    Maybe I'll start with parkrun and doing the race for life.

  28. Walk/Run a 10k
    I'll be honest that while the 5k seems do-able to me the 10k seems much more difficult.

  29. Move House  

  30. Get a Dog (rescue)We always had dogs growing up and since I left home I've not had one, it's something we definitely want to get back into. 

  31. Complete every lesson in a year long online art class. (By “complete” I mean at least engage with the lesson in some way and make an attempt to do something with it)
    I'm going to be doing Lifebook again in 2018, so maybe this year will be the year, although to do every single activity offered means 84 activities or something like that.  No falling behind with this one or I'll never catch back up.
    I was lucky enough to win one of the spots in class on the launch giveaways.

  32. Sell a piece of art work  

  33. Create and Maintain a weekly letter writing practise
    I'm thinking about treating myself to The Letter Writers Complete Resource from The Postman's Knock to get myself started.

  34. Read 50 books (see separate list eventually)I've started thinking about this.  Should I just keep track and get the number up to 50, or should I start out with a list and if so should there be categories and so on? Any suggestions dear readers? 

  35. Take an IRL cooking class  
    To do this close to home would mean doing the classes that Mukasse Afro Caribbean foods sometimes put on or going to one of the classes at Brompton cookery school.  Although my dream would be to do one of the bread courses at River Cottage.

  36. Bake a rainbow unicorn cake  

  37. Eat something you think you won’t like  
    I might surprise myself.

  38. Celebrate one of my birthdays with a day of RAK events (Random Acts of Kindness)  

  39. Spend a whole weekend technology free – (still need to remain contactable in emergencies, BUT, no phone, no computer, no internet, no TV, etc)  

  40. Wild Swim? I'm not sure I'm as brave as my friends Kate Hatton or Sue Austin but Sue has promised to meet me at a local lake this summer when the weather is right to take me for a wild swim.

  41. Picnic under the stars

  42. Walk a Labyrinth 

  43. Learn to identify some of the trees we see on our walks, other than the very basics that most people know.
    There might be a course or walk that I can do with The Shropshire Wildlife Trust.

  44. Watch a sunrise from the top of a hill. 

  45. Join (or start up) a Stitch & Bitch or a Knit & Natter group.

  46. Make more crafty gifts. 
    A conversation from last year and something that happened this week made me realise that you never know the impact those gits have, especially when they are made and chosen with care and intention.

  47. Go whale/dolphin watching (preferably off the coast of Wales).

  48. Attend a live sporting event.

  49. Attend a ball or other formal event in a kick ass gown even if I have to sew it myself.  

    Although there is no way my sewing skills are up to a dress like that!

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Raspberry White Chocolate Baked Oatmeal - 5SP

A couple of people on Weight watcher connect have asked for this recipe after I shared a photo the other day.  Here you go  - Raspberry and White Chocolate Baked Oatmeal at 5 points per portion.
(That larger piece in the bowl is 1 portion, I had an extra spoonful as well in this photo).

4 portions at 5 SP each by my calculations (I recommend you enter recipes into the recipe calculator in case the particular ingredients you are using are different to mine)

80g Jumbo Oats
80g Raspberries
14g White Chocolate (I use chocolate chips, but you can use chopped up bar if you need to)
1 tsp, level Vanilla Extract
1 tsp, level Baking powder
200g Fat Free Natural Yogurt
1 1⁄2 tbsp Artificial sweetener (an extra 1/2 tbsp would probably be better)
2 medium, Egg
Frylight Spray Oil

Preheat oven to 190c/375f . (Lower temp a bit if using fan oven)
Grease a oven proof dish with spray oil.

Add to a bowl - the oats, sweetener, baking powder, yoghurt, vanilla and egg and whisk to combine Pour in the oven proof dish greased with spray oil.

Pop into the top of the mixture the fresh raspberries and white chocolate chips Bake in the oven for 40 mins till set and lightly golden. Serve and enjoy!!

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Friday, September 15, 2017

I Bet You Didn't Know That I ...

TODAY’S NUDGE: Share something that isn’t widely known about you.

Looking back to some of the things that happened when I was growing up it's fairly amazing that I am still here in some respects.

I am not going to attempt to get these into the right order, my memories aren't that good.

  • When I was very little one of my great uncle's had a canal boat.  I don't know how often we went there, but I do know about one particular visit.  Apparently there was a little rowing boat that was sometimes used while the canal boat stayed moored.  From what I understand, there were 3 of us on the boat.  One of my great uncles, my dad and me, oh and one of the dogs. I FELL IN THE CANAL. One of the two adults on the boat yelled "She's fallen in" and in that first split second the other one thought they meant the dog.

    I don't remember any of it but I think I remember afterwards being wrapped up in someone's jumper because I had no dry clothes there, my mom had no idea I would need them.

  • At some point in my childhood I discovered that childproof medication bottles were not childproof.  I have no idea what the medication was or how many I swallowed but it resulted in me ending up in hospital having my stomach pumped.  Again, I was very young and remember little about it.  I do know that someone bought me a gift of a nurses outfit after it was all over.
  • A few years later we went on a visit to Blackpool Pleasure Beach (A big permanent fun fair). One of the rides was a roundabout with cars and motorbikes and so on.  I was sitting on one of them, waiting for the ride to start and decided I wanted to be on a different one.  I got off and started to move to the other one but it was too late, the ride had started.  The ride operator stopped it immediately but not before I had got a huge nasty graze across my back as I had fallen over and one of the bikes had hit my back in some way.
  • When we went on holiday (vacation) to Romania, we had an emergency landing on the flight home, on the wrong side of the iron curtain so the airport was complete with soldiers with guns saying "you will go here, you will sit there, you will eat cake".  To us kids it was all a bit more adventure, but I remember one of the women there being in tears because "I don't like cake".  I think it was just the last straw in what was already a very stressful day.

There were other incidents too but I'll leave you with those.
If you are someone I know, how many of those were you aware of?
If not, what stories do you have that you pull out when you need to say "I better you never knew this about me"?

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Your Story in 50 Words - or - Who I Am

Have you ever seen this before? God's story in 50 words.

God made.
Adam bit.
Noah arked.
Abraham split.
Joseph ruled.
Jacob fooled.
Bush talked.
Moses balked.
Pharaoh plagued.
People walked.
Sea divided.
Tablets guided.
Promise landed.
Saul freaked.
David peeked.
Prophets warned.
Jesus born.
God walked.
Love talked.
Anger crucified.
Hope died.
Love rose.
Spirit flamed.
Word spread.
God remained.

I've seen this around for years and cannot find a record of the original author, so if anyone knows for sure where it originated, please let me know.

I was reminded of it recently and got to thinking what my 50 words would be. Or yours? My 50 words could be

I am :
the baby who survived after multiple miscarriages.
the toddler who nearly drowned in the canal.
the child who discovered what happens when childproof bottles aren't.
the awkward kid who never who never really found herself.
the ' good girl ' who found a guy, had a baby, THEN got married.

And that could be the end of my story, only it isn't.
And there begins another 50 words

I am:
blessed, chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed and forgiven.
loved with an everlasting love.
I am:
one who struggles to live in that grace.
one who dances.
one who writes.
one who STILL stands.
one who hangs on by her fingertips when everything around her yells "let go".
I am.

If you had to fit your story into 50 words or less, what would it say?

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Mixed Media Art Video

I'm still taking part in the Blog Along with Effy Wild. TODAY’S NUDGE: Give something away. A printable, a mini class, a tutorial you did on YouTube, or sound advice about something your readership might benefit from.

I did think about doing a giveaway of something physical but since most of the people who read my blog are based on the other side of the Atlantic, postage could get expensive.  So, instead I decided to share a video of a mixed media art page I did a few years ago, pulling together inspiration from a couple of different pages I had seen online.

Please excuse the quality of the video, it was my older camera, and not brilliant.

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You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.
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