Taking Stock

crocus

 

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

Whoosh! What was that?

image via Pinterest

image via Pinterest

Most of August apparently!  “Where on earth has this month gone?” I pondered over a cuppa last night?  So, no surprise, I started to make a little list in my head and this is what I came up with:

Fabulous family holiday in Portugal (shan’t make you all hideously jealous but, suffice to say it was brilliant!  If you’re feeling blue, avoid my IG feed) – so good to see my folks, my brother and his little family (all the way from LA).  Mrs W and Co escaped to France and by all accounts had a super time too.

Rugby camp for Miss F & Master W at our local club, run by the lovely Northampton Saints.  Miss F hugely chuffed to be Saintsman of the week for her age group.

Miss L started her own blog (blind leading the blind, but we’re getting there!  Just the endless nagging now for a Pinterest and Instagram account!).

Catching up with the other side of the family for the dunking of the youngest nephew (though courtesy of the chaos that is the M25, we missed the crucial Church part where Mr N was supposed to do the reading!), still, the ‘after party’ was great.

Afternoons spent with lovely friends, eating well, chatting, letting the kids play ’til past their bedtimes.

We’ve spent so much time outside this holidays, in parks, fields and gardens, it has been just perfect: thank you British summer, you’ve been pretty good to us this year!

I’ve read at least three brilliant books (special mention to Gillian Anderson – she of The Fall, Great Expectations and of course X Files – who has a fab thriller out, ‘A Vision of Fire’ which I demolished at speed!) and have filled my reading list courtesy of friends recommendations.

This week has been (reluctantly) focussing on the return to school of the Nicholas clan, with the sewing box coming out, school shoes and new pencil cases being bought, labelling everything that might ever grace a school corridor and realising that, wow, they have grown again and I might need to hit M&S…again!

image via Pinterest

image via Pinterest

All in all, our August has been a time of recharging and reconnecting (slightly hippyish I’ll grant you, but so needed for us as a family), and a little bit of work.

Tell us, what have you lovely lot been up to, we’d love to know!

Love as ever,

Mrs N x

Peekaboo! We’re back!

Oh, hey there, remember us?  Some time bloggers who’ve been a little *ahem* quiet of late?  Well, we’re back!  A touch apprehensive (and with a new look), we’re getting back in the swing of it, so with that in mind, here’s an old favourite, The Book List Post…

waterstones

image via Waterstones

Whilst the kids are climbing on a Saturday morning, aside from watching them dangle off high walls, I’ve decided to take that 90 minutes and spend them on myself, not nip over the road to do a food shop, but to order a coffee and (standard) make a few lists before cracking on with a book.  Mr N chuckles at me most evenings as I have form for smashing myself in the face with a paperback or kindle as I drift off half way through a page (paperback edition of The Goldfinch did me serious snoz damage!!) so I have decided to pick my book up on a Saturday morning instead.  This has some serious non nose related benefits: I am not only reading more than ever – without re reading the same page on umpteen consecutives nights – I have rekindled my love affair with reading after a mini drought, I have had some great recommendations from friends, and I’ve read some things I would not usually have looked at twice in a bookshop but have been passed a copy of and thoroughly enjoyed.  Win win!

Here’s what I’ve recently demolished, with a bit of blurb about each…

bookshelves

image via Pinterest

The Humans by Matt Haig –  After an ‘incident’ one wet Friday night where Professor Andrew Martin is found walking naked through the streets of Cambridge, he is not feeling quite himself.  Even his loving wife and teenage son are repulsive to him. He feels lost amongst a crazy alien species and hates everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except Newton, and he’s a dog…

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel – One snowy night in Toronto famous actor Arthur Leander dies on stage whilst performing the role of a lifetime. That same evening a deadly virus touches down in North America.  The world will never be the same again.

Us by David Nicholls – Douglas Petersen understands his wife’s need to ‘rediscover herself’ now that their son is leaving home. He just thought they’d be doing their rediscovering together.  When Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again.

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey – Maud is forgetful. She makes a cup of tea and doesn’t remember to drink it. She goes to the shops and forgets why she went. Sometimes her home is unrecognizable – or her daughter Helen seems a total stranger.  But there’s one thing Maud is sure of: her friend Elizabeth is missing. The note in her pocket tells her so. And no matter who tells her to stop going on about it, to leave it alone, to shut up, Maud will get to the bottom of it.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Bruton – Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?

And my current read…

The Lie by CL Taylor – I know your name’s not really Jane Hughes . . .Jane Hughes has a loving partner, a job in an animal sanctuary and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. Jane Hughes does not really exist. Five years earlier Jane and her then best friends went on holiday but what should have been the trip of a lifetime rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of the women. Jane has tried to put the past behind her but someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed Jane and everything she loves . . .

So lovely people, whilst I already have ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ by Anthony Doerr and ‘The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins queuing up on the bedside table, if you have any hot recommendations for us, please do leave them in the comments below or tweet them to us @MrsN_MrsW – we would love some fresh ones to add to the everlong list of reads!

Mrs N x

What’s your manifesto for 2015?

 

positive

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!

5 Good Things – scented candles

We love a scented candle here at Nicholas and White and although I tend to burn them pretty much all year round, they come into their own once the air starts feeling that little bit Autumnal.  I never save them for ‘best’ anymore either, yes they’re relatively expensive and considered a treat but if you keep them unlit for years they gather dust and the scent goes so you’ve wasted money.  Light them often and enjoy the scent to lift your mood, relax you or energise you.

Here’s a list of our favourites…(in no particular order!) Plus, they are all British companies too – yay!

Sugden and Daughters – £19.50.  Burn time approx 30 hours

Sugden Candle

It’s hard to choose a fragrance from these beauties but if pushed, I’d say French Chateau – you can buy them here and they have just introduced reed diffusers too.

Neal’s Yard – £29.00.  Burn time approx 45 hours

NYR candle

With three fragrances to choose from depending on your mood.  I love the Balancing candle and they also come in a room spray or reed diffuser.  Available here or from your local NYR consultant

True Grace – £25.00.  Burn time approx 40 hours

True Grace Candle

Another British brand, there again, are lots to choose from but a firm favourite with both myself and Mrs N is the Green Tea & Citrus.  They have a shiny new website too, have a look here

Urban Apothecary – £35.00.  Burn time approx 30 hours

Urban candle

Anything that is inspired by tea is great in my book and how lovely are these tea-cup candles?  The website is all lovely too.

Cowshed – £30.00.  Burn time approx 60 hours

Cowshed Candle

These delicious fragrances are split up into moods so whether you’re feeling lazy, knackered, grumpy or gorgeous, there is something for you!  Made from natural wax with no nasties they last for aaaages too..

So, there’s a few to get you started.  Are you a fan of a scented candle?  Which is your favourite?  Let us know in the comments!

Mrs W xx

‘New To Us’ App Roundup!

  • Bloom.fm – is the online equivalent of your local library, however, you aren’t borrowing books, but you can borrow something for your ears instead. A 22 million-strong library of songs and hundreds of radio stations that stream for free if you don’t fancy getting yourself subbed up. Prices (per month) start from £1.49 for 20 tracks, £5 will get you 200, while £10 provides you with as many as you can handle. Available on Android and iOS
  • Circa – Smartphone users have traditionally visited the website of their favourite newspaper or lifestyle publication for their daily news fix. Many of these websites have produced their own apps for an experience better suited to mobile. Circa, is a little bit different… It’s available purely in app-form and been designed to make it easier to keep tabs on breaking news stories. Circa editors distil news into the essential latent points so the user doesn’t feel as though they’re being bogged down with details or having to trawl through huge amounts of text to get to the bare bones of a story. With Reuters’ social media editor on board too, it should be a grower. Available for both iOS and Android.
  • Sportlobster – Sportlobster is a social network designed around your favourite sports and promotes itself as a “one-stop shop for sports fans”. The app lets users track their favourite teams and sports, view live standings, fixtures and results, as well as make predictions on the outcome of the match, race or game. It actively encourages armchair pundits to pen their own articles for the rest of the community to discuss and share. Worth a follow on Twitter too – if you are sports minded. Available on iOS
  • Younity – pumped up cloud storage … provides the user with access to all of their files, across multiple devices, at the same time, eliminating the need for syncing completely. It also allows you to share your files with other younity users. Available free on iOS devices
  • Songkick – Allows fans to track their favourite artists/bands, keep tabs on upcoming ticket details and tour dates. SongKick collates its information from all over the web, even if your tastes are slightly obscure you won’t feel left out. Available on Android and iOS
  • Cameo – Do you find that Vine videos frustrate you? Thank heavens for Cameo then, an app that aims to challenge the world of mobile video. The app (together with the cloud) lets users edit clips and transform them into two-minute-long short films. Available on iOS
  • Link Bubble – The smartphone internet browser that you have been waiting for! It aims to bypass slow loading times by always opening your links in the background, thus allowing you to continue what you’re doing until your link is ready. The app will also integrate with your existing apps, for example, it will always load videos using your YouTube app. It will even smugly remind you how much time it’s saved you. Available for free for Android devices.
  • PayPal app – looks set to make it easier to pay for your meal at a restaurant, or order a takeaway. The online payment company has teamed up with over 2,000 high street shops and restaurants, making it possible to pay through PayPal using just your smartphone. Available free for iOS and Android devices.
  • AlarmPad – who enjoys the sound of their morning alarm going off? Sadly, an app is unlikely to change that, however AlarmPad is looking to make it a little easier on your fuggled brain… the app (hopefully) will wake you up, and can also greet you with weather reports and a reminder of your calendar activities for the day. Even better, it can be deactivated using your voice, which might make going back to sleep a little bit too easy…Available free for iOS and Android devices.
  • DocuSign Mobile – The ability to fill in forms online and on mobile devices is great, but when it comes to signing them, scanning in a signature can be ridiculously frustrating (just us?!). No matter what the format, DocuSign will allow you to scrawl your signature on screen and add it, wherever you need it to be. Available free for iOS and Android devices.
  • Booktrack – A lovely app for the bookworms among you, booktrack aims to give your reading a new soundtrack. An e-reader featuring thousands of different books, both classic and contemporary, but what sets it apart from the many other e-readers on the market is that it gives each book its own specifically designed soundtrack. Available free for Android devices.
  • Pocket – An app that lets you save for later – put articles, videos, text, pictures or pretty much anything into Pocket. Save directly from your browser or from apps like Twitter, Flipboard, Facebook… If it’s in Pocket, it’s on your phone, tablet, Kindle, Kobo, computer etc. You don’t even need an Internet connection to view later when you have time. Available on Android and iOS free.

Apps We Use The Most

We think we’re relatively tech savvy but are by no means experts!  Mrs W loves her iPhone whereas Mrs N prefers her Android

These are our favourite apps that we use on a day to day basis – let us know what your essentials are…

In no particular order

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Evernote
  • Instagram
  • Spotify
  • Met Office
  • WordPress
  • Viber
  • Feedly
  • Flipboard
  • Vine
  • Angry Birds
  • Shazam
  • Runkeeper
  • Strava
  • Linkedin
  • Ebay
  • Google maps
  • Play Newsstand
  • Hootsuite
  • YouTube

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Achievements and Aspirations

You may have noticed that we love a list here at Nicholas and White.  If you’ve not noticed, where have you been?!

We thought we’d sum up the year with a little list of a few things that we’ve achieved this year and a few things for 2014 too…

Mrs N has

  • Made a good start at fixing her body by finding an excellent physio
  • Started this blog
  • Survived a new kitchen fitting
  • Had a family holiday
  • Been to see the Cirque du Soleil
  • Had a weekend away a deux with Mr N
  • Supervised homework x 3 all year
  • Not gone grey
  • Made time to see friends
  • Kept fit despite pain (not exercise related!)
  • Only bought 1 pair of cons (excluding kids!)
  • Kept the no of stripy tops purchased in single figures

Mrs W has

  • Developed and fixed tennis elbow
  • Baked bread for the first time
  • Closed one business and started another one with NYR Organic
  • Started this blog alongside her other one
  • Been to Reading Festival and  6 other gigs
  • Learnt to spin in tennis
  • Got a paid part-time job
  • Spent more time with Mr W
  • Had a family holiday with friends
  • Found a great pair of jeans
  • Wore a pair of heels all night (just the once!)
  • Gave up coffee and sugar in tea

Aspirations

Mrs N is hoping to…

  • Maintain her fitness
  • Go to the cinema more
  • Be kinder to herself
  • Sharpen her kitchen knives
  • Organise Mrs W (wish her luck!)
  • Manage her eldest daughters SAT’s anxiety
  • Read more

Mrs W is hoping to…

  • Get her camper van, Marigold, trip ready
  • Learn to crochet or knit
  • Write more and take more pictures
  • Get fitter and stronger again
  • Get new glasses
  • Get organised
  • Not to sweat the small stuff

What have been your achievements this year and what are your hopes for 2014?  Please share, we’d love to hear from you!

Christmas Songs

We’ve put together a little list of some of our favourite Christmas songs – let us know what your favourites are.  So, get your mulled wine at the ready and sing along as loud as you can!

In no particular order…

The Pogues – Fairytale of New York 

The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping 

St Etienne – Born On Christmas Day 

Coldplay – Christmas Lights 

Tom Jones & Cerys Matthews – Baby It’s Cold Outside 

Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas Is You 

Andy Williams – It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year 

Paul McCartney – Wonderful Christmastime 

Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas?

The Darkness – Christmas Time