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!

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Seasonal change – reasons to embrace Autumn 1, 2, 3…

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  1. It’s pie season – at last! Indulge in some pie loving, savoury or sweet, we’re not fussy!
  2. Warm nights wrapped up in blankets with steaming mugs of tea/ hot chocolate/ mulled cider whatever you fancy and a box set or a magazine.
  3. The return (hopefully!) of decent television after a fair few weeks of meh tv.  Homeland and Downton anyone?
  4. Bountiful hedgerows, get out and forage.  We had a lovely crumble with pears from the garden and blackberries collected on the school run: custard or cream, that’s the question!
  5. Winter duvet time, be gone chilly toes, beds look inviting with thick fluffy duvets and blankets on: perfect excuse to go to bed early with a good book.
  6. Autumn is very much muddy knee season chez Nicholas, however, this opens up a new opportunity for sneaking in a bath or two: Mrs N gets dibs on the first dip in peace, with a cup of tea and lovely bath products whilst the kids watch a bit of TV.  They get round two, posh bath products and clean knees into the bargain – everyone wins!
  7. Unwrapping and airing the winter woolies in anticipation of cooler weather, digging out favourite boots and chasing away the spiders from the welly collection!
  8. It’s still mild out, so get outdoors and see the changes in our landscape.  Revisit childhood by crunching through falling leaves, collecting conkers and berries.  It’s good for the soul.
  9. Spoil yourself by slowing down a bit, you need the rest in the run up to Christmas and all that it entails, be that school carol services, nativity plays, shopping, cooking, cleaning like a mad woman – whatever it means to you and yours, please, slow down and enjoy spending time together…before you know it it will be 2015!!

Spring

I love the change in the seasons and Winter to Spring is my favourite.  I got married in spring, mostly because of the seasonal flowers for my bouquet!  I love how you can see the buds blossoming into leaves and flowers and the change is noticeable day by day.

It’s raining here today as I write this but as I look out of one window there is a blanket of three or four different shades of green leaves and out of the other I can see my garden with an abundant colour palette of greens, creams, pinks,  yellows, purples and a deep reddy maroon of the acer in the corner which is perfectly complimented by the sage green of my shed. There is a wonderful scent to the air too, there is lots of lilac on our walk up to school and it’s so lovely to see the wisteria blooming too.

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Nature is so grounding isn’t it?  Without wanting to sound like a tree-hugging hippy (which is ALL kinds of cool by the way if that’s your thing!) we need to take time to connect with Mother Nature as often as we can.  Get outside, breathe some air – hopefully you’re not suffering with hay-fever.  Walk barefooted on dewy grass – I often hang the washing out in my bare feet when it’s not sub-zero.  Even a bunch of fresh flowers in a vase near your desk lifts the spirits.

Which season do you like best?  Are you yearning for summer to arrive or do you miss winter?

Mrs W xx

 

Wild Weather Stops Play?

In typically British fashion, let’s mention this crazy weather we have been having.  Wild winds and lashing rains have caused mayhem here in the UK over the last week or so with flights, ferries, and trains being cancelled or delayed.  Mrs N’s brother was a victim of both the baggage chaos at Gatwick and of the weather Gods delaying his onward flight to the Paternal family home, which having flown in from LA with a pregnant wife and toddler in tow earlier in the day wasn’t exactly ideal!  Serious flooding has left roads impassable and some towns and villages under several inches of water: the Environment Agency still have 157 flood warnings in place as of this morning.  Electrical supplies have been patchy in places with some areas being left without power for substantial periods of time.

So Mother Nature is causing mayhem and continues to do so this morning with high winds and more rain forecast for later, however, here at Nicholas & White, we’ve taken our usual approach to grotty weather: no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.  Yesterday Mr N got the three junior Ns geared up for the elements and took them all for a 10k bike ride to check out the localised flooding and see if the farmers had moved their livestock from their usual, now sodden patches.  Meanwhile, Mrs N (being super rock n roll) set ‘The Staff’ *read electrical appliances* to work and blitzed the house: cue clean sheets, vacuumed floors, fresh smelling bathrooms and a sense of order restored.  Ruddy cheeked, slightly mucky, happy children returned and emptied Lego everywhere: order was pretty nice whilst it lasted!  Over at the Whites, a similar ‘gear them up and turf them out’ situation was going down.

Image via Howies

Image via Howies

In an effort to get everyone away from the selection boxes and biscuits and outside, we thought we’d put some (cost free!) suggestions out there for all to peruse and hopefully get you moving for the wellies and anoraks rather than another slice of Christmas cake!  We find *whispers* bribery works a treat on sluggish family members – promise of a steaming hot chocolate or a bracing walk to the pub gets most out of the chair – do try to leave the ‘oh but we’ll all get mucky and add yet more to the laundry pile’ thoughts from your head, after all, what parent doesn’t own shares in laundry liquid and the sheer abandon with which the kids will play when they know they can go puddle jumping without reprimand is lovely!

  • Get out for a walk – the dog (if you have one) will thank you too!
  • Go for a bike ride or a run
  • Take the kids to the park – pack a flask (and bin bags to sit on in the car on the way back)
  • Play footy/ tag rugby/ rounders/ tag/ basketball/ any games they’ve learnt in PE
  • Check out any local wildlife walks/ parks/ footpaths near you (your council webpage should have this info on it)
  • Play nature detectives, the Woodland Trust have a great printouts in the kids section of their website
  • Get together with friends – we’re sure their kids could do with blowing off steam outside too!
  • Build an outdoor den together
  • Do a scavenger hunt, looking for specific twigs/ leaves/ shaped pebbles/ animals
  • Visit your local woods and get the kids collecting sticks, building dens, kicking through leaves
  • Get the kids to help on your allotment if you are lucky enough to have one or in your garden clearing up whatever the wind has blown in.
  • Check out Project Wild Thing for inspiration and the Wild Network, both backed by Play England, and whose aim is to get kids back outside and connected with nature

To quote Chris Packham, naturalist and wildlife TV presenter:

Children have a natural fascination to touch and to feel things – it’s part of existing in the world.   It’s not the kids that have said they don’t want to put their hands in the mud or jump in the pond, it’s the adults that have said no.

So, gear up, get out there and have fun together!

December – the month of bleak gardens and gluttony?

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So, it’s here, we’re into the second week of December and bodies up and down the country are bracing themselves for the onslaught of ‘naughty’ canapés and too much booze; but, it really doesn’t have to be like that with some planning…and not a cardboard rice cake in sight (unless you’re into that kind of thing). Outside, there are many plants that can still be put into gardens now to give you something pretty and cheerful to look out on (winter pansies, cyclamen being just two that spring to mind), visit your local garden centre and ask for advice.  Colder weather is actually the gardeners’ friend: it kills off pesky fungi and pests that may have damaged your plants earlier in the year, and cold snaps are what create tender textures and sweetness in what can otherwise be sometimes stringy, chewy, bitter veggies (think spouts and other brassicas).  If you embrace winter as season of stews, slow cooked meals, thick soups and roasts, great, if you yearn for something lighter, more salady, it’s still relatively easy with a bit of clever thinking.

Winter leaves can be a bit on the bitter side (think chicory, radicchio) but if you pair these with some crispy bacon (or field mushrooms), blue cheese and a creamy, garlicky dressing or thick balsamic one, you have a lovely balanced flavour. How about roast squash and lentils with some crumbled feta and a spiced lemon dressing (big fan of pre prepared pulses), thinly sliced radish with smoked salmon and pickles is another delicious example: let your imagination wander – or search recipes online for inspiration – you don’t have to stick rigidly to a recipe, just take what you like from it (unless it’s baking, that’s a bit more science-y!).  Good Food, Delicious, Olive and Good Housekeeping are great resources for recipes either online or in magazine format.

Prolific (read budget friendly) foods available this month include: cabbages, kale, sprouts, swede, turnips, parsnips, celeriac, beetroot, winter radish, Jerusalem artichokes, spuds, leeks, celery, cavolo nero, chicory and blood oranges.  Root veg often gets a poor reputation as being ‘dull’ or ‘old fashioned’, but with a bit of forethought, you can create some really delicious dishes (more on that in a later post this week).

As for the alcohol side of this month, there’s no need to take booze (or food for that matter) to the extreme: take it steady, find a softie that you like – there is only so much diet cola a girl can take before her teeth itch (lemongrass and ginger cordial is a big hit with Mrs N, Mrs W is an elderflower cordial fan) – you don’t need to pickle yourself, drink plenty of water alongside your tipple of choice (you’ll be thankful in the morning!) and remember to enjoy yourself and the company you are with…for it is Christmas but once a year.

Happy December!

Happy December!