When Valentine’s Day rolls around I want to look romantic. I like to style my hair in romantic waves and curls and wear makeup. Not least, I’ll choose to dress romantically, even if it’s a dinner I cook at home. Sam and I have been together for four years so we’ve notched up a few Valentine’s day dinners. He’s not super romantic, but goes along with it all to please me. There romance in that.
But not everyone is in a relationship, so to those of you who are single, I was single for a while too. Celebrating Valentine's Day was still fun for me. One year a friend invited her women besties over to her house for dinner. She’d decorated the room with hearts, and we were all dressed up and drinking champagne and toasting each other a happy Valentine’s day. Love comes in all shapes, and types so you can still enjoy the spirit of romance and the day devoted to love with an outfit that makes you feel romantic.
So what do I mean when I say dress romantically? For everyone, that’s going to be a bit different so I wouldn’t like you to think that my style of romantic is for everyone. However the color red and pink preferably together say Valentine’s day. For me flowers are also synonymous with romance. This year I’ll be wearing a dress (pictured above) that I wore to a wedding last year (you might have seen it on my Instagram feed). It has a black background and has a stunning border of pink and red full-blown blooms. They also feature on one shoulder.
In years gone by a red and black dress in chiffon was my favorite. This photo of me and Sam was taken at another wedding. Sam has a matching red tie, how cute is that? I framed this photo of us and gave it to Sam for Valentine’s day the following year. For me silky, slinky and soft fabrics are the sort I love for a romantic mood. Brides choose these sorts of fabrics for their wedding dresses because they’re romantic. Lace is also used for romance, and I’ve seen gorgeous red lace dresses in the shops this year.
A word on red, you need to find a red that will suit your complexion. For me blue-based reds make my skin look healthy and cheeks pink. A yellow based red and my complexion goes grey. Don’t do it to yourself. No matter how much of a discount you’re getting it’s not worth it. Yellow based reds look great on people who can wear orange next to their face. If you gravitate to cool blues, go for a more bluish undertone.
Lastly, be comfortable. Your dress doesn’t need to push up your boobs or cinch your waist. Romance can be sexy, but it’s about love. Love your outfit and yourself in it. If you’re not comfortable, it will show on your face. You want to be able to feel the love of friends family or your partner, not how your shape wear is digging into your ribs. Indulging yourself with a day or evening of feeling lovely and romantic is the goal. Your fashion choices can enhance your experience.
I really and truly hope that you all have a very, lovely, Valentine's Day.
Sadness over losing Mum last year is still very present. Sometimes it’s worse than others. But I know what she’d advise me to do, to carry on. When I’m feeling down it can be so hard to be enthusiastic and cheerful. I find if I spend time doing the things I enjoy I can bring some cheerfulness back to remind me there’s still good in my world.
If, like me, you groan at that idea, read on. I have ways to get myself walking by doing things I like that involve taking a stroll. It’s worth trying because; it has been proven that walking is good for enhancing the mood. My Dad thinks it might have something to do with getting more oxygen to the brain, I think he’s got something there. But I also think, getting out of the house for a while works wonders too. But my daughter and I were joking that just walking for the sake of it is a non starter for us. We just won’t. However we know we’ll walk if there’s something to look at or a reason to go somewhere on foot.
I will drive to a small local lake to look at the pretty views and birds. It’s so beautiful it entices me out of the car and walking to the pier. Then I think I’ll go for a walk to see all the plants and birds on the other side. Sometimes I meet my sister and we walk around it together.
Another less obvious walk is to go to a garden centre and walk around looking at the plants. I love this because plant nurseries stock flowering plants so it’s very pretty. I might treat myself and bring home a punnet of seedlings to pot up.
The last way I manage to get a walk in my day is inside but it’s better than not moving. I park my car at one end of my local shopping mall and walk all the way down one side looking in the shops as I go and then all the way back the other side. This is great for really hot or cold/wet weather because it’s air conditioned or heated and dry.
Art and Craft
The act of making something is soothing to my creative soul. I have lots of unfinished projects to choose from so I might tinker with an ongoing hand stitched quilt or do some colouring in. Anyone else love the smell of Derwent pencils?
Christmas was a bit tough this year so I made myself think of some things I could make to lift my Christmas spirit. I saw a YouTube video of wooden clothes peg snowflakes; to me they looked like stars so that’s what I call them. Hot glue gun in hand I made a milky way of wooden stars and it worked like a charm.
YouTube creators have a lively energy. When I’ve absolutely had it with living and am blobbing on the couch but nothing interests me on the TV and I’m just over it all, I go to YouTube. When really sad, I choose an Andre Rieu video and in no time my spirit rises. He actually says a doctor told him that when he plays one of Andre’s DVD’s to patients they all feel well again. It has that effect on me too. I am feeling brighter and enjoying living after listening to a few songs.
I have some other favourite YouTube channels that always give me a lift. Women who do craft and decorate their houses inspire me to make things. Garden Answer is a lovely channel for getting me motivated outside, planting things or potting up cute little succulents.
Of course I sometimes need a good cry. But when it’s time to dry my eyes these things help me to look forward and be as happy as I can. I know Mum would want me to try and make the best of things even though it’s not how I would like it to be.
What gives you pleasure and lifts your mood? Do you know what your top three things are?
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The last of my Christmas chocolates have gone. The days of wine and turkey-stuffing are behind me. It’s time to pack up the Christmas trees.
I’ve let them linger this year, because I have been enjoying the baubles and the red and blue color scheme so much. The winter themed room, in the middle of an Australian summer, lifted me out of the everyday and into a wonderland of fairies nutcrackers and Father Christmases but I want I sense of space and that corner of the room, where the tree sits, back. There is a need to clear the cosy and create some fresh energy in the room.
The task is a wee bit daunting. A seven foot tree, and a three foot one are being tackled today. There’s another five foot tree in the dining room but if I try and do that as well I may not start. So I’m breaking it down into manageable steps. The three foot one was a breeze but the seven foot one is a bit more involved. Every branch is slotted individually into the stem to set up the tree so the reverse has to happen to pack it up. I have the different levels of branches stacked around the room in green furry piles. They’re ready to be stacked back into the box it came home in.
I’m enjoying looking at all the pretty things as I place them in piles on the floor ready to go back into their hobby box homes in the garage. The sweet little baubles from the tree are so charming. I love looking at the intricate designs on the few expensive ones I have. The fairy sitting high on the tree can be looked at up close and all her finer details fully appreciated.
I’m putting all the wreaths together in a big garbage bag. The decor is bubble wrapped and then put into a hobby box. Heaviest things go in first so that they’re on the bottom, lighter things go in last and sit on the top. The care I take putting things away will ensure I have all these lovely things to enjoy same time next year.
So while I’m wrestling with wired branches I’ll keep calm and remember that Christmas comes every year and without fail I’ll be looking forward to it. I might even start Christmas decorating earlier this year. Normally I wait until December 1st but early November t seems to be a time when a lot of bloggers are starting to put it together and publish posts so there’s a thought.
For now I will enjoy a putting my summer decor back out on display. It’s not long until Valentine’s Day and I’ll start thinking about what I can do to make it special for Sam and me once I’m finished with the putting away the Christmas things. By the end of next week I think it will all be done. Wish me luck with getting the trees back into their boxes.
I have gone from throwing my energy into the wrong projects which resulted in and a dozen half started or non started goals to completed projects I’m proud of. The mistakes of the past have taught me to strive for less and to condense my efforts into the projects that have real meaning to me. I’m an author so my example goals are around writing but I have applied these principles to other areas of my life. For example I had a goal of owning a home with Sam. Last year I renovated a fixer upper while we lived with family. Getting that done was an important goal.
Choose my goals after I make a wish list.
Often, I would get to this time of year and put together a list of all the things I’d like to achieve. Then I’d feel so proud of having achieved a list of goals for the year. I was full of optimism and high energy but even though this felt good, It lacked practicality. My list wasn't a workable tool that would move me forward to short and long-term goals. A wish list is fine but it’s not goal setting. Goal setting required deeper level consideration.
Pair down my wish list.
Too many things on my list resulted in my energy being defrayed by the sheer number of differing projects. A few realistic goals worked much better than the sheet filled with what I thought I wanted. I published a book each year for the last two years. Instead of aiming for three a year and not doing any I realistically looked at my schedule and my actual writing routine to see what could be expected. This has resulted in my having two books published and another on the schedule for next year. Looking back, I realized my wish list also contained goals I thought I should achieve. Not things I really wanted to physically do. I had to get real with myself.
Choose goals that feed me.
When I put myself in the driver seat and imagined how I would achieved the goal, I checked back with myself. Did it seem to give me energy or make me feel drained? For me, enjoying or finding the process of achieving the goal satisfying is key to it being a real goal. If I can’t imagine myself performing the task then it's a 'should do goal'. I really should make a YouTube trailer, nope I can’t see it, no ideas come to me. It’s not going to happen. I don’t yet have sufficient motivation to do that. It might be there in the future but it’s not a priority now. Another goal for last year was enrolling in a synopsis workshop. I really want to be able to pitch to agents and editors more effectively. This goal was a real one. It happened because I knew it would make me feel empowered, so it feeds me but I was also motivated because it was actionable.
Make goals that have a clear action.
Having a best seller isn’t a goal. That’s a wish. Producing a well written story is within my power. An overall goal for me but I still need to document the planned steps I’ll take. Professional development is a great motivator to me. So I choose an aspect of writing to hone, an area I’d like to see improve and then look for a course or at the very least a book on the subject.
My goals for 2018.
If you're wondering, this year’s goals haven’t been set completely. I use January's new energy to help me with that. As I've said there's a book planned for this year It just needs some rewrites before a March release. I've enrolled in a branding workshop but there might be time for more PD and finishing a half written new work, now that I'm not renovating. There is the garden though (she grins). My goals will need to be reassessed as events take place during the year but mostly a clear achievable goal, will have steps I can take. It helps me to check back with my goal as I complete each step and see how far I've come. This helps renew the initial spark that got me going in the first place.
Best wishes for your goal setting and a happy, healthy and successful 2018.
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Romance author and lifestyle blogger
My whole life is inspired by romance. I write romance novels of course but also love creating DIY's and decorating in a romantic style. I'm rejuvenating an old garden, recusing roses and planting new ones.