Taking Stock

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Hey, it’s been a while, I’m sorry you’ve been neglected but it’s been super busy here; each time I’ve tried to write, something else seems to need my instant attention!  Frustrating but true.  So, to get back into the swing of things, I’ve done you a “Taking Stock” post to catch up…

Making: the Everest of ironing bigger!
Cooking: Apricot flapjacks for after school treats
Drinking: Camomile tea
Reading: “A Game For All The Family” by Sophie Hannah
Wanting: The sunshine to hang around
Looking: In need of a haircut
Playing: Old albums on shuffle
Deciding: If I can face the joys of a food shop today
Wishing: The fridge was already full!
Enjoying: New towels – fluffy!
Waiting: For the washing machine to finish
Liking: A line full of clean sheets
Wondering: If I’m turning into a Grandma (see laundry fixation!)
Loving: My snoring pooch keeping my toes warm
Pondering: Where to start!  List done, just need to action…
Considering: A run – preferable to food shop
Buying: Endless food!  Anyone else’s kids always hungry?!
Watching: The Durrells, Marcella, sport if the chaps in my life have the remote!
Hoping: For something nice in the post
Marvelling: At how much mess a boy can create in his bedroom!
Needing: A magic wand (see above)
Questioning: My sanity (always!)
Smelling: Clean
Wearing: Stripes and Cons…old habits die hard
Following: A host of interesting people on Twitter
Noticing: Birdsong is back, hooray!
Knowing: I’m happy
Thinking: Too much, often late at night
Admiring: People with the courage of their convictions
Sorting: Laundry
Bookmarking: Pages I hope to read soon
Coveting: Homes by the sea
Disliking: Mess
Opening: Kitchen cupboards while making a shopping list
Giggling: Often, it’s good for the soul
Feeling: In control (thanks to a restorative break by the sea)
Snacking: On fruit
Helping: My kids with seemingly endless homework
Hearing: Laughter from the garden…they’re probably up to mischief, but happy so…

How about you?  What are you up to?  Let me know x

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What’s your manifesto for 2015?

 

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image via Pinterest

 

Happy New Year lovely people, we trust this finds you all feeling upbeat and rested?  Here in the UK, unless you’ve had your eyes and ears closed for the last week or so, you cannot fail to have been bombarded on all fronts by all sorts of detoxes/ diets/ cleanses/ fasts/ body blasting/ gym bunny/ ab revealing shenanigans which seem to have been devised to make you feel rubbish about yourself and a total failure.  Often this advice doesn’t even come from nutritionists or qualified PT instructors but the fact that some vague celeb loosely ‘endorses’ it means it must be ace…err, sorry but no.  This time last year, we wrote about our feelings on this very topic and infact re-posted our thoughts earlier this month. (http://t.co/SfaNiGtu5j) So, we are going to buck the trend and publish a little manifesto for 2015.  Here we go, in no particular order…

  • Everyday is a fresh start, so start it with a purpose, even if that purpose is simply to not hit ‘snooze’ or drink an entire mug of tea whilst it’s hot!
  • All bodies are good bodies, look after yours, treat it with kindness, nourish it well and it will look after you: you’re pretty amazing, don’t forget that.
  • Move your body daily, doesn’t have to be a workout, just get out and fill your lungs with fresh air with the added bonus that it will clear your head too.  Choose an exercise format you actually enjoy so that you look forward to it rather than dreading it.
  • Focus on the good, positivity shines out and rubs off on others: ditch the draining negative vibes.
  • Look for the good in others, chuck those compliments around like confetti, everyone needs a lift sometimes.
  • Laugh and smile more – it’s the cheapest medicine (cheesy but true, try it).
  • Ask for, and offer, help.  You may be wonder woman, but even she needs a hand some days.  It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s the polar opposite.
  • Learn to say no.  Don’t be swayed, if you can’t or don’t want to do something, say so: you do not have to justify yourself, you’re a grown up.
  • Cherish your family and friends, an unexpected ‘hello’ text will always bring a smile here, try it, it’s lovely to know someone is thinking of you.
  • Always make time for those who make you feel happy to be alive and are always there when you need picking up off the floor and cheering up.
  • Enjoy the small things like cuddles, good coffee, sunshine, good books, a leisurely soak, an awesome workout…
  • While we love a list here, planning can only take you so far (or waste so much time if you are in full on procrastination mode – coloured pens anyone?!): planning is only effective if it is combined with actually doing!
  • Make time for yourself: it’s not selfish, it is essential.  Choose your ‘recharge’ and action it: reading, yoga, a long bath, a run, crafty pursuits, music….
  • Don’t compare yourself to others, especially online – it’s all curated!  Everyone has foibles and down days, we are unique, embrace your individuality.
  • Go on adventures – not necessarily to far flung places, take yourself back to being a child by exploring your local countryside, reengage with nature, use your imagination.
  • Be grateful for what you have: we all have moments of green eyed envy, but flick on the news and be thankful for the troubles you don’t have.

We would really love your feedback on this – it’s always good to share – will you be taking stock and trying some of these suggestions out? Do you have some you think we should add?  Let us know!

The FEAR.

Irrational fears.  They’re so…irrational right?!  I’m going to confess that I have a fear of spiders.  A real fear.  The kind where I can’t even see one on the TV or cinema screen.  Silly eh?  I don’t live in a country where there are spiders that might harm me and lets face it, the one’s we get here in Blighty aren’t that big comparitively are they?  (I can hear the Australians chuckling).  Still, I have the FEAR.

The Etsy shop this came from is no longer open but the reality is dull tumblr is pretty cool

The Etsy shop this came from is no longer open but the reality is dull tumblr is pretty cool

I also can’t swim in water where I can’t see the bottom.  There might be all kinds of creatures/monsters lurking in the depths (can spiders swim?).  This may be the reason that given the choice, I’d choose mountains over the sea.  Unless it’s Fiji, then I’d choose there.

Birds spook the heck out of me too.  I think it’s the beady little eyes, I can feel them boring into my soul.  I have had to call upon friends a couple of times now for them to hero up and rescue me and my house from a bird that the cat has brought in – ALIVE.  I was also picked on (literally) whilst in Australia when a crow decided to swoop down and PECK MY HEAD.  REPEATEDLY.  My then boyfriend, now husband, had to literally punch the bird off me.  Taumatising for me but probably quite hilarious for a passer-by!

So there you have it, my top 3 of fears that are fears for no reason.  Are you scared of anything?  Do share, as then I won’t feel so alone…(which I’m fine with by the way)

Mrs W x

Calm can be Content…

Recently whilst mooching around on Pinterest, Mrs N came across the below graphic which got her thinking…and talking…

Image via Melody Ross

Image via Melody Ross

Whilst having an active, busy household can be noisy, frenetic and mean being governed by the clock, it ultimately makes Mrs N happy. Obviously she would be thrilled if the middle child didn’t file her washing (clean and dirty) on her bedroom floor or under her bed (she does have adequate storage, just no inclination to use it it seems) or if the dog chose to wipe her paws on coming in from the garden before running through the house or if the chores magically did themselves, but, on the whole life is good and it is also happy. Mrs N may not be performing brain surgery two days a week or going to exotic locations and eating out each evening however she can multitask and juggle a busy family diary with the best of them, and she’s okay with that.
Here at Nicholas and White we’ve noticed a trend of late that is beginning to irk us somewhat. The need to bemoan or belittle every aspect of daily life be it messy kids, the lack of laundry fairies, too many commitments and not enough time to fulfil them, unhelpful partners/ friends, the weather…the list is seemingly endless! Granted we, as a nation, love nothing better than a chat about the weather, and let’s face it, who isn’t over all this wet stuff (webbed feet yet anyone?), but the other gripes, really? These are first world problems, not major issues. Kids are generally messy creatures, and yes, the house could be tidier/ cleaner/ better organised but, you know what? If we logged off social media/ email/ internet/ stopped texting for say half an hour, some of these ‘annoyances’ could actually be dealt with and we could be left feeling a wee bit better about our lot in life.
If you are feeling like life is a bit too chaotic and moan worthy right now, do something about it; take steps to sort it out. Plan your time more efficiently, get a calendar, use it, make use of some of the many apps designed specifically for this very purpose, ask for help (nicely) and be appreciative of it when it’s offered. No time to nip out and do a food shop? Rather than scrolling through Twitter/ Facebook/ Pinterest/ Spotify/ Instagram do an online order and cross it off your list. Feel like you are missing out socially (darn you Facebook and your carefully curated newsfeed!) then organise a night out or a night in if you’d prefer and have a gathering to plan and look forward to. So your little darlings/ partner are messy beasts, ask them to help tidy up, there’s no point being a martyr and they may surprise you (failing that, bribery works a treat!).
We seem to be veering ever closer to becoming an impatient, instant gratification seeking, selfish bunch – oh woe is me! – not exactly a good vibe to be giving off either to our nearest and dearest or our kids, after all who really wants to hang out with a whinger? So, ranty bit over, grab a drink and a pad, it’s time to reassess what *really* matters; this shouldn’t take you long. Make a list of what’s going on in your head/ life right now, using three columns with the headers: important, desirable and ditch. Apportion it all out into the relevant columns and then deal with the most pressing first. Actively take control of the hubris in your head and feel instantly calmer (really!), life is generally good for us all, let’s enhance it by being a bit kinder to each other and ourselves…smile, Spring is just around the corner.

A Bit of a Con?

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A collection of cons from the Nicholas household

Mrs N alerted me to an article in the Evening Standard the other week which, I admit, I read and then promptly forgot about and then it came knocking at the door of my little brain again the other day.

It was basically about how the ‘lived-in’ look is in high demand, especially it seems for shoes.  Converse typically sell for around £40 a pair but they are being sold as “intentionally vintaged” for £75-£199!

Dear reader, are you agog at this?  I know we are!  What a shame for those deprived people who clearly don’t have enough of a fun life that they can’t scuff up their own shoes…

Looking at my own Cons, it’s like looking at a journal of the past fun I’ve had.  Festivals, gigs, beach holidays, trips to the park with the kids, getting caught in the rain on the way home from a impromptu pub visit…the list goes on.

I’m not sure that I’d want someone else wearing in my shoes – I mean, lets be honest, after a few wears, trainers and the like don’t smell that sweet and that’s your own!

What’s you’re take on this?  Would you pay for the instant ‘lived-in’ look or is it more fun to do the wearing in your-self?  Let us know – we’d love to hear from you…

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This was the result of Mrs W wearing fairly new cons to a Kasabian gig – happy days!

Resolutions, Diets & Detoxes? Not Likely!

Here at Nicholas and White we’ve been discussing the obsession with resolutions, diets and detoxes that are prevalent at this time of year. Well reader, it will probably come as no surprise to you that Mrs N and Mrs W don’t do either resolutions, diets or detoxes!
If you say the word ‘resolution’ out loud, it is a forceful sounding word, in fact if you look up ‘resolution’ in a thesaurus, the associated words are those such as firmness, purpose, strength of will, doggedness, tenacity, willpower, fortitude, emphatic: not exactly ‘friendly’ sounding are they?
Most people start each new year with a list of resolutions; common ones are often involving diets, ceasing smoking, getting fit, giving up a so called ‘bad habit’. Tim Weeks, former Olympic athlete and now Olympic coach and women’s specific trainer often says “you don’t break a bad habit, you untangle it”. Sounds kinder from the off doesn’t it? What Weeks wants you to do is look at why you do what you do, not just try to stop it but find the cause for the effect. Pretty sensible no?
Most of us who make a resolution will often fail to keep to it for longer than 6 weeks. A resolution is often phrased in a very nagging or abrupt way, e.g. “I must stop/ give up/ lose…” If you speak to yourself this harshly, when you fail to achieve your goal, your inner critic will be really brutal and the sense of failure will weigh on your mind. Far healthier, in our view, to make a list of achievable aspirations: how you use language will affect your mindset e.g. “I would like to be more toned/ stronger/positive…”
And now we hit two of the most bandied about words at this time of year: detox and diet. Brace yourselves reader, bit of a rant coming! The diet and detox industries are out to empty our purse. Fact. They are selling ideals and dreams that we and the media think we should be adhering to. Miracles are promised, insecurities fed upon, pretty pennies made. But here’s the thing: your actual body that you own right now is a miraculous machine, your organs work in tandem, all day every day – it’s the only one you’ll get too so you need to care for it.
The big secret that these industries don’t want you to realise is that your body doesn’t actually need any weirdly named supplements, juice cleanses, fast days etc: it is crafted in such an amazing way that it is in a permanent state of balancing and detoxifying itself: why would you mess with nature? What your body does need from you is actually quite straight forward: fuel (by which we mean good quality produce, good quality meat/ fish/ eggs), plenty of water, a good nights sleep and some exercise every day (not necessarily a full ‘workout’ but something physical each day e.g. stairs not lifts, walking rather than driving etc). Be mindful of what you put into your body. Don’t deprive your machine, build it stronger and better than it was yesterday.
So, do make yourself a list of positive aspirations for the coming year, be kinder to yourself (nobody likes a bully), don’t be tempted to try for a mega life overhaul in one fell swoop, think small but incremental changes that you can achieve then you won’t get despondent, but, above all else, life is for living so make sure you enjoy it too!

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Image via Pinterest

Patience is a Virtue

Patience is a virtue….but mine is wearing thin!

Wow; December is marching on a pace – how did that happen?  All those plans (read *lists*) for super organisation suddenly start to seem a bit inadequate.  Is it just us or has Christmas gone into stealth mode this year?  Is it because our local shop only got the mince pies on the shelves at the same time as Halloween  goodies this year rather than as the kids went back to school in September?  Or because it seems to have been less prevalent in the media?  Mrs N for one is quite happy that the bombardment seems to have come a bit later this year, the household is organised (lists, again!) in terms of ‘The Big Day’ – the menu has been decided, presents have been purchased (not 100% so, but enough not to give heart palpitations at the mere mention of Santa!), the tree is up, the kids have made paper chains – even the hound got glittered (tree bombing) and ‘Elf’ has been watched at least once.  What is less pleasing are the grumpy, tired children: yes, it’s been a long term, and there have been plays and carol rehearsals but why are they so crotchety?

Mrs N has a theory: whilst her children have still been eating her out of house and home (standard behaviour), observing their normal bedtimes and out of school activities, what they have been missing out on is PE at school – one Junior N has moaned more than once ‘why can’t we miss RE or maths, why PE?’ she has a point.  Why are they missing this crucial subject?  That would be down to play rehearsals.  Last year was the same, however we also had the ‘excuse’ of bad weather (read Health and Safety mania at school) which meant that many break times were also missed, compounding the inactivity of the day.  When will the schools catch on that yes, we love to see our children performing in these festive productions, but that we also like our children physically tired out at the end of a day, not just grumpy and inactive.  We live in leafy Buckinghamshire: parents send their kids to school with decent coats, turf them out at break and lunchtimes regardless of drizzle/ wind/ temperature.  We have come to the conclusion that children are like dogs (especially boys) and *need* to be thrown out of hot, stuffy classrooms to run about and blow out the cobwebs at least once a day, otherwise they fidget, bicker, whine, play up – all things we’d hate in our homes, let alone a gang of 30 in a classroom all at it!!  So please, a festive plea: gear up, get outside, get active…we’re all much nicer people for it, and surely that’s important too?

Grab a pair of these and get out!

Grab a pair of these and get out!

Love Letters

Is there anything nicer than receiving a handwritten, thought filled letter in the post?  Not the usual brown envelope sort or the begging kind, but one that somebody has taken the time and effort to think through, write out, put in an envelope and then post off to you?  Yes, we’ve had email since 1971 and it now rules our daily lives, but the effort required to actually hand write a note remains special.  With email you can draft, re draft and then click send and get an instantaneous response, but ‘snail mail’ delivers a more personal and physical touch.
The art of letter writing dates back centuries, we know from history that the Romans were avid writers, so why today are we losing this skill?  Are we too rushed in our day to day lives that we just don’t have time to write, or are we becoming too lazy preferring the instant gratification of text, Twitter and email?  Have we simply fallen out of love with letters?  Letters can bring such great joy and escapism (think troops serving away from home, long distance lovers, pen pals of childhood that carry through to adulthood friendships), the writer has the pleasure of selecting stationery, taking the time and effort to organise their thoughts into a flowing passage of prose, the excitement of posting their thoughts off to the recipient and awaiting return news.  What’s not to love about that? One of Mrs N’s oldest friends now lives in the US, and, as lovely as it is to Skype and email and exchange snaps online of their kids, nothing compares to the happiness a letter or card from her brings.

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Both Mrs N and Mrs W follow @lettersofnote on Twitter, which is a fascinating, curated, constantly changing archive of insight into (yep, you guessed it) letter writing.  The letters and memos are varied in theme, decade, style, author (famous and mere mortals) and often tug at the imagination long after reading.  Shaun Usher, the curator of the website and Twitter feed has just published a collection of these letters in a book (yes please Santa!), next time you’re passing the book shop, have a peek and remind yourself why pen to paper can be a real an art form.
Do you still write and send letters and cards to friends and loved ones by snail mail or are the only letters you now send ones to big corporations and the like?  Are you firmly in the electronic camp? Let us know!