Life

Summertime

  

bathroom

I haven't written for ages, have I?  I have found it really difficult getting into a routine working for myself.  I don't always make time for the things that I love; one of those things is writing.  

I am going to try really hard to discipline myself to blog more regularly.  I know we all agree that with instagram it is easy to neglect our blogs, given that IG has been described as a form of micro-blogging.  I love instagram but I can lose hours there but there is something missing that only real blog posts can offer.  I still prefer to read well-written blog posts, I find them comforting and cosy to read when I'm queuing at the shops, having a coffee or off to bed.  I don't always want the quick and easy version that instagram offers.  Posie Gets Cozy is my absolute favourite blog.  I love to read Alicia's words, I think she has an inspiring life as a fellow maker.  I share a lot of things in common with Alicia and love how she appears to make the most of every day by making the little things special... It is something that I try to do myself too.  

I had considered vlogging but I don't think that's me.  I like to make little videos of what I'm up to and where I've been every now and then but there is no way that I can just sit in front of a camera and chat.  I have tried and I just don't feel comfortable.  I feel awkward and exposed.  I talk to myself at home all the time and I've spent years pretending to run a cookery show in the comfort of my own kitchen!  (I think I used to drive my mum mad emptying all the weighed ingredients into separate little bowls for my 'shows').  For some reason when there is an actual real-life camera in front of me I just feel like a wally.  And that is that.

Summer is passing for us in a blur of salted caramel ice creams, fruit cider, long dog walks in the late evening and lots of cool showers.  Electric fans whirring, duvets relegated to storage and small posies of roses at our bedside.  Brocantes, antique fairs and car boot sales.  Fresh sourdough loaves and my favourite Portugese custard tarts.  Watering the roses, sweet peas, hanging baskets, geraniums and tomatoes with a morning coffee.  Trips to the zoo, parks and paddling pools with my nieces who cartwheel and dance on every spare inch of ground.  It is all so perfect.  We have had such wonderful weather and we are relishing every minute of it.  Since my workshop at the Cozy Club at the end of May I have been obsessed with seaside paraphernalia - I have been making tiny bunting for tiny vintage boats and digging out all of my old ticking in red, white and blue stripes to make cushions, lavender bags and hanging hearts.  It is so nice to have a bright white bathroom at last, that I can decorate with pretty handmade things.   I have a few more boats to make, a few more hearts and a little drawstring bag to keep my make up in. Mostly though I am spending my time working on a few new embroidery designs that I will be bringing with me to the brocantes at the end of August.  Sign up for our newsletter, below, to get advance notification of sales and Little Green Door news! 

Speak soon, thanks so much for popping by.

Nicki x

 

 

 

Floral Ice Cubes for Summer Drinks

ice cubes1.jpg

Ever since buying Fiona Cairns Seasonal Baking Book earlier in the year I have been obsessed with edible flowers.  Some of the prettier and more unusual types are not growing in my garden (yet!) but I do have an abundance of violas which, I think, are super cute.  

I started off with crystalising a few.  I felt squeamish about using egg white for this purpose so I found an egg white substitute in powder form to use.  It was Ok but I expect a bit thicker and stiffer than actual egg white.  I went a bit crazy with the sugar too but was really pleased with the results and the lemon drizzle cake looked very pretty.  (I thought I'd already blogged my cake so here is a quick pic.  I'll share the full post another day.)

Obviously, freezing flowers in ice cubes is even quicker and less fiddly than crystalising them but I did treat myself to a couple of new ice cube trays so that I'd get good, big, square cubes.  Find them here.  (They will be nice with little berries and things in too don't you think?)

My only tip here is to use cooled boiled water so that the ice is clear.  My flowers sat on the top of the ice cube as I filled the tray to the top and dropped the viola in.  If you want to make sure the flower is in the centre of the cube then just fill the tray half full first when putting the flowers in.  Once that part has frozen you can top up with more water and freeze the rest of it.  Easy peasy. 

I have been enjoying my decorative ice cubes with that lovely pre-mixed gin and rose lemonade but they also make my orange and mango cordial look pretty too.  Can't wait to get more flowers and perhaps try some berries too.  Ooh and mint leaves.  Excited!  (I know, I am sad.)

Here's to a sunny summer, right?!

Love

Nicki 

Fair Season has Begun - Come and say hello!

 Our stand at Fair in the Square

Our stand at Fair in the Square

 Fresh flowers were provided by the lovely Lou at The Little Red Robin 

Fresh flowers were provided by the lovely Lou at The Little Red Robin 

 One day I will make a tabletop cover but in the meantime I am using old linen sheets.

One day I will make a tabletop cover but in the meantime I am using old linen sheets.

 A stack of notebooks with beautiful handmade paper and my 'Day at the Allotment' embroidery framed with reclaimed wood.

A stack of notebooks with beautiful handmade paper and my 'Day at the Allotment' embroidery framed with reclaimed wood.

 Pink hydrangea embroidery in handmade chippy frame.

Pink hydrangea embroidery in handmade chippy frame.

 Tiny drawers, velvet flowers, linen string and handmade paper notebooks...  A few of my favourite things.

Tiny drawers, velvet flowers, linen string and handmade paper notebooks...  A few of my favourite things.

 Blue hydrangea in handmade chippy frame.

Blue hydrangea in handmade chippy frame.

 My 'The Secret Garden' embroidery based on the logo for the Little Green Door.

My 'The Secret Garden' embroidery based on the logo for the Little Green Door.

 Labels for my handmade items, artwork by Kate at  Oyster Bridge & Co .

Labels for my handmade items, artwork by Kate at Oyster Bridge & Co.

 Our conservatory and where I can be found most days, stitching and watching the birds.

Our conservatory and where I can be found most days, stitching and watching the birds.

 The conservatory.  The old wooden box houses my painting supplies.  The patchwork cushion was a gift from my mum (it is a Tilda pattern using Tilda fabric).  She made two cushions and a matching quilt for my 40th birthday and I love them!

The conservatory.  The old wooden box houses my painting supplies.  The patchwork cushion was a gift from my mum (it is a Tilda pattern using Tilda fabric).  She made two cushions and a matching quilt for my 40th birthday and I love them!

 I keep pretty sweet company when I work.  Here she is, watching watercolour YouTube videos with me on the laptop.  

I keep pretty sweet company when I work.  Here she is, watching watercolour YouTube videos with me on the laptop.  

Brocante season has begun! It was our first fair of the year at the weekend.  We had a stand at The Country Brocante Fair in the Square in Midhurst. I had planned to launch my embroidery pieces online at the end of March but being invited to stand at the Fair in the Square changed my plans a little and I decided it would be nice to use the opportunity to display a few pieces of embroidery and see what sort of feedback I received.

In the weeks leading up to the brocante I had the most nervous tummy.  It is one thing attending an event where you have bought in items to sell but when you've made things yourself it is a whole other thing... It has become personal and I was struggling with my confidence. 

The day of the fair was bright and sunny.  The marketplace was full of gorgeous stands, all decorated with flowers and bunting.  It was beautiful.  We were in the town's Old Library which is a stunning old building and provided the perfect backdrop to our stand.  I couldn't have hoped for a better reception to my embroidery.  I had so much wonderful feedback and I feel inspired to continue.  Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by and especially those who gave me a few words of encouragement about my work, it meant such a lot to me.  I sold a few pieces and took a couple more orders but for now I am back in my workroom finishing a few stitcheries to sell at the Larmer Tree Brocante in Dorset this bank holiday Monday. 

It is my first time attending the Larmer Tree Brocante but having followed the team on instagram, I am super excited by the list of exhibitors and the prospect of a ukulele performance in the 'Singing Theatre' during the day.  It sounds wonderful! 

I am lucky to have two rooms in the house that I can use as workrooms.  I am in the conservatory today which is the room I use for painting and stitching because the natural light in here is, obviously, fantastic.  I have a sewing room at the top of the house, in the eaves, where I have a cutting table and a sewing machine.  My sewing room is a terrible mess at the moment as I have bought a few new (old) pieces of furniture and need to have a bit of a sort out in there to declutter.  I am looking forward to getting home next week and having a long overdue tidy up and organisation session but in the meantime I will enjoy watching the birds in the garden, listening to Spotify and embroidering a floral bouquet.  Hopefully see you in Dorset on Monday!

Love

Nicki xx

The Sunday Digest

  • Sorted through old, chippy paint frames for the embroideries and samplers I have made (coming to the shop soon!)
  • Spent a small fortune at Sainsbury's on their lovely stationery range. You can take the girl out of a PA role but you can't take the PA out of the girl! 
  • Wrote and sent my first newsletter (sign up here).
  • Laundered piles of antique linen and sorted them into colours - one of my favourite jobs! 
  • Took Lizzie to the vet for dental surgery.  She had a deep clean, two tiny front teeth extracted and they found a 'mass' on her gum.  I have been told to just keep an eye on it but I admit to feeling slightly panicky.
  • Took the Church Walk path at Salcey Forest on a still and sunny morning with mum and dad, followed by tea and sausage sandwiches in the cafe.
  • Started a new painting at art class using a photograph from Packwood House; inspiration for my next piece of embroidery.
  • Posted several mini lanterns, glass bud vases and powder pink candles from the shop. I think that folk are getting organised for Mothering Sunday (in three weeks' time).  I love to see which are the most popular bits and pieces, and I still do a little jig every time an order comes through.  So appreciate every single one.
  • Nursed husband through a few days off work after he got a telling off from the nurse that he hasn't elevated his leg often enough.  As a result am making several cups of tea a day and climbing the stairs approximately 44 times per hour to retrieve forgotten reading glasses [his], books [his] and gadgets [his].   He might have a withered leg come May but I will be positively buff!
  • Started my organisation and planning for the various brocantes I am attending throughout the year (kicking off with the Larmer Tree Brocante in Dorset on 1st May). I have updated our events page here - would love to meet you! 
  • Ate my bodyweight in dolly mixtures.  My snack of choice when stitching.
  • Hosted an after-school tea for my two lovely nieces.  There was paint, glitter and dancing. Tomato soup and soft white bread.  Sent them home with chocolatey faces, gluey hands and an old lipstick each.  Sister was pleased, haha.  
  • Spent a pleasant afternoon creating a collection of gift tags and greetings cards with watercolours and fabric scraps.  There's a teaser pic in the images above... All coming to the shop *very* soon.
  • The postie delivered a gorgeous swap package from the lovely Anna at Gregoria Fibers and I finished making a pretty present for her parcel.  Love swaps and love Anna's feed - check it out for knitting and lifestyle inspiration.

Happiness is.....

spring flowers and jammy dodgers

Fresh, hot, coffee.   Pink roses.  New skeins of embroidery thread.  Old, slubby, linen.  Little bowls of pastel coloured sweets.  Long chats with friends on the telephone.  Giant jammy biscuits.  Taboo on the telly.  Long walks in the winter sunshine.  A niece with glittering eyes and rosy cheeks; happy after her first day at a new school.  Catching up with family over fish, chips and mushy peas.  Thick watercolour paper and little tubes of paint.  Art class.  Bath salts and lavender oil.  Heirloom quilts.  Homemade banana bread, pots of tea and stitching with friends.  Beautiful hand-dyed yarn.  Tiny clay hearts.  Old tins filled with art supplies.  Kindle library books.  Miniature zinc buckets for collecting threads.  

*******

We are a bit out of sorts here.  Andrew has ruptured his achilles tendon which means he is in plaster and on crutches.  Minimum of 8 weeks to recover and months of physio for him.  I am responding every five minutes to requests of "could I have a glass of apple juice" and "would you mind fetching my book for me".  The poor chap can't do anything; he is thoroughly miserable and I feel so sorry for him.  Hope he heals quickly, for both our sakes! 

Love 

Nicki xOx

 

 

 

 

 

Find me on YouTube!

I am really pleased to have finally started my YouTube channel.  I would love for you to have a little look and let me know what you think.  I have been meaning to start a channel for months as I love watching podcasts when I work from home and I thought it would be a nice way to connect with my online friends.  Share what I'm up to, and chat a while.  I work from home on my own every day and have no one to talk to.  I try to involve Lizzie but there's only so much knitting natter she can cope with before she flops to the floor in a bored heap!  

My first video is just a quickie, showcasing the little zinc tags that we have in stock.  I'm going to be doing lots of little videos in future to show the goodies that I'm selling but I'll also be doing some chatty vlogs where I tell you allll about my crafty adventures as well as books I've read, films I've watched and recipes I've tried.  I am going to really bend your ear.  Haha. 

You can find my youtube channel by searching for Nicki Franklin on the YouTube site but there is also a tab here on my website that will direct you straight to it.  It's just in the navigation bar under the website header.

Thanks for being such a kind and lovely bunch, supporting me on my journey as you always do.  Couldn't do it without you.

See you soon 

Nicki 

x0x

How to love Winter

Have you heard that today is 'Blue Monday'?  I am not sure I believe there is any science behind it and I kind of agree with Innocent Drinks that it was made up by someone in Marketing.  However, it does seem plausible.

As someone who has battled with bouts of anxiety and depression (thankfully less often these days than in previous years), I have to be extra kind to myself at this time of year.  I have found lots of tips and tricks to help support my mental health; principally mindfulness and meditation but also yoga, aromatherapy, journalling, knitting and chocolate.  

I used to hate winter.  September through to 31st December was (and still is) my very favourite time of year but as soon as New Year's Day hit I would feel the familiar dread and despondency of the looming winter months.  

I know that I am not alone and many of us feel like this, to varying degrees.  So far this year, though, I am loving winter.  Loving it!  So, I thought I'd share some of the little things that are giving me joy this January.  

  • I prepared well.  My Christmas list consisted of mainly books, craft kits and art supplies.  I chose a few books with winter themes and they were gifted to me by Andrew as a cheering 'bundle of books' to snuggle up with on the dark evenings.
     
  • My new year resolutions are joyful and spoiling.  No strict diets, exercise regimes or money-saving schemes for me just now.  My number one resolution was to buy myself flowers every week.  So far, I've nailed it!  Daffodils were on sale in Aldi for 95p a bunch last week and I bought some hyacinth bulbs in Sainsbury's for the price of a coffee on Saturday.  Although the hyacinths are just shoots at the moment, it is really cheering to have some greenery around the place.
     
  • Andrew and I made up a lovely big watch list on Netflix of all the boxsets and films that we have been meaning to watch.  Every single night we light the fire, cuddle up and watch an episode of something together.  We don't watch an awful lot of television; we don't really bother with the soaps or reality shows so it is nice to make an effort to watch something great on the box every day and means we make time for a smooch too.  (We are currently watching the American version of The Killing and really enjoying it; it is just as good as the Danish original.)
     
  •  I walk every single day.  Lizzie gets dragged out, rain or shine, and at the very least we do a quick circuit of the village.  The fresh air and even the drizzle make me feel alive after a day working indoors.
     
  • Soup!  I am working my way through one of my favourite soup recipe books.  Very little food is more comforting than a hearty bowl of soup and hunk of crusty bread.  Great way to eat more healthily too, as the ones we love most are chock full of veg.
     
  • Something to look forward to helps; I am no artist but have signed up for weekly watercolour classes that start in February.  I took my first lesson in mid-December just before the teacher finished for the year and I am champing at the bit to start properly.  
     
  • Self-care is always important but feels especially good when we have slipped into a habit of being hard on ourselves.  Gabrielle Treanor launched a free seven-day e-course called The Warm Embrace this year.  I have so enjoyed receiving her gentle emails, reminding me to look after myself and be kind.  The course is based on mindfulness and positive thinking - there is still time to sign up if you are interested and Gabrielle's website is packed with uplifting articles and photography.  
     
  • Candlelight... Ah!  We all know how much I love candles and these antique black candlesticks in my shop are my absolute favourite.  I have them dotted around the house and use small pillar candles from Ikea which last ages and melt very prettily.  They make me feel Dickensian and cosy, trick me into thinking I live in simpler times.  They are rustic and old-fashioned and coordinate nicely with our black cast iron woodburners.  Treat yourself here if you fancy; I promise you will love them! 

I hope my approach to winter will help if you struggle at this time of year.  If nothing else, maybe it will be comforting to know that you are not alone.  If you have any other happy little tips it would be great if you could share them here or use my hashtag on instagram and twitter #blues_busting. I also recommend the hashtags #savouringJanuary2017 and #making_winter for some cosy, soul-warming photos. 

With my very best wishes for a joyful and healthy 2017.  Thank you for coming to visit this little webspace of mine, it is so nice to have you here for a virtual cup of tea every now and then.

Love

Nicki 

x0x

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Christmas Memories

These three photos sum up my festive mood at the moment:

1) a pair of ceramic house tea light lanterns bought at the Bath Christmas market last week,

2) a stolen afternoon for Andrew and me in front of the telly with Home Alone 2, tea and mince pies, 

and 3) my adorable little niece at the village Christingle service a couple of weeks ago.  

Things are not quite calm and bright yet but I feel as though we might be getting there. My workroom is finally straight after a thorough sort out on Monday morning - I just have a bundle of thread skeins to wind onto bobbins and then I will feel organised enough to complete the embroidered bookmark commission that I am currently working on.  

We are still eating ready meals, though, so I am planning a whole menu for next week (which I privately refer to as 'Christmas week') so that we can eat lots of seasonal vegetables and comfort food like mashed potato and risotto in the run up to Christmas Day.  We still don't have a tin of Quality Street in the house and I need to rectify that tout de suite! 

I have been out and about over the last couple of days; yesterday was Lizzie's Christmas-hairdo-day and then I went off to a watercolour class that I'll be joining weekly from February.  I have been looking for a good art class for months and finally managed to reserve a space at a Wednesday morning class.  I have got some homework to get started on throughout January and I have put some lovely sable paintbrushes and art supplies on my birthday wish list.   

This morning I went to church for my eldest niece's school advent service.  It was very sweet; there is something about children singing Silent Night or Away in a Manger that tugs hard on my heart strings and puts a lump in my throat.  This morning there was a mishap involving a small boy and his microphone - it gave my sister and I the uncontrollable giggles.  The more we tried to stop ourselves laughing, the worse it got until eventually Sarah erupted in a shout of laughter and fell behind the pew with her shoulders shaking and eyes streaming. My mum and grandma were there too and had no idea what had tickled us; in fact my grandmother looked a bit cross that we were misbehaving in church.  Makes me laugh just thinking about it now. 

After church, when Izzie had gone back to school, we all squished into Mabel (my little fiat), cranked up Feliz Navidad on repeat and navigated the winding country roads to a local garden centre for a full English breakfast.  It really was the most lovely morning; my grandma was in the front of the car with me having a little seat shimmy and sing-along.  It made me happy to see her so cheerful as she was wired up to a pacemaker on Saturday and is feeling a bit sore and sorry for herself.

Tonight Andrew and I are watching the football with a takeout pizza and I am going to give myself the night off with my knitting.  Back to the needle and thread first thing tomorrow morning so I can get my work done before Christmas.

Hope everyone is having a lovely week - thanks for stopping by again :)

Love, Nicki 

xOx

Christmas Preparation

I had hoped to blog much more often than this but time is whizzing by.  I could do with a few slo-mo days to be honest.

There were lots of lovely photographs shared on Instagram and Facebook for my little 30 Days of Hygge challenge and I'll share some of those later in the month.  They will make you feel super cosy; check out the hashtag if you get a chance in the meantime.   I am planning another little challenge for January, to get through the winter months.  Emma at Silver Pebble always has a lovely 'making winter' hashtag on Instagram which I get lots of inspiration from and I can definitely recommend that you take a peek at that too.  

Anyway, we're all busy so I'll keep my news brief and to the point:

  • I had my eyelids flipped inside-out today at the opticians.  Super-glamorous optician was apparently checking the underside of my lids for allergies and irritants.  I was quietly appalled.  It was gross.  Who even knew you could tuck your eyelids inside-out and they'd stay put? Bleurgh.
     
  • I haven't cooked a proper meal since mid-November.  We are living on ready-meals which we never have.  It feels kind of treat-y.  And those packets of ready prepared vegetables; how luxurious!   Marks & Spencer Gastro-pub Shepherd's Pie is my absolute favourite. 
     
  • I have developed a penchant for Whittard's Christmas Tea, a box of which was gifted to me by my lovely friend Laalaa.  It is so refreshing and festive; delicious with a small slice of Christmas cake.
     
  • Speaking of festive bakes, Nigella's gingerbread and Cherry Menlove's buttercream mince pies are at the top of my To Do list next week.
     
  • I always have my eldest niece Izzie in the Christmas holidays and I am enjoying preparing for our day together.  We are going to paint Christmas cards, decorate gingerbread houses and watch a Christmas film. I am so excited! Mum is going to join in too, so we will have a lovely day. 
     
  • I am currently reading The Girl in the Photograph and absolutely loving it.  
     
  • On Tuesday I will be attending my first ever watercolour class.  I am excited and nervous in equal measure.
     
  • My grandmother is preparing to have a pacemaker fitted.  My sister and I had an interesting conversation tonight about what a pacemaker looks like.  I envisioned a kitchen timer, she thought perhaps more like a SIM card.  I was closer to the reality, which surprised me.

My biggest news is that The Little Green Door celebrated its first year of trading this week.  I am so proud that I have made it this far and built a good foundation for a second year of trading.  I haven't taken a salary at all this year so money has been tight but it has been so worth it.  

We are off to Bath this weekend for some quality time together and then I am attending a small local fair on Sunday afternoon before we pack away our stall for the year.  We will be processing website orders and posting them all over the Christmas break but if you are shopping for bits and pieces in time for Christmas then I would recommend ordering by Friday 16th December for guaranteed delivery.

Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for stopping by.

Nicki X 

 

30 Days of Hygge in November

Being prone to bouts of depression, my friend Lynda and I have embarked on a bit of a personal development journey together this year to maintain our wellness, mindfulness and positivity, and look after each other.  We regularly send each other little gifts in the post, meet up for coffee, and share book and film recommendations.  We both love books about Hygge and in one of the books, 'The Cozy Life' the author recommends a 30 day hygge challenge.  We both loved the idea and as November has just 30 days we thought it would be the perfect month.  Forget the 30 day squat challenge, or the 30 day ab challenge - 30 days of hygge sounds much more nurturing and enjoyable!

We have created a list, taking into account some of the activities suggested by Edberg and made it our own.  If you feel like joining in we'd love to see your hygge photos on instagram, twitter and facebook.  Please use the hashtag #30daysofhygge 

  • Make a proper hot chocolate, with all the trimmings.
  • Read a favourite book from your childhood (mine were The Hundred and One Dalmatians and White Boots.  Lynda's favourites were The Secret Garden and Little Women).
  • Bake bread (make two loaves and deliver one to your neighbour as a random act of kindness).
  • Hang a new string of fairy lights somewhere in the house.
  • Buy and enjoy a new bubble bath.  We like Philosophy Fresh Cream, Origins Ginger Float , Philosophy Cinnamon Buns L'Occitane Lavender Harvest and Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir.
  • Make a breakfast picnic, pack a cosy blanket and watch the sunrise.
  • Go for a walk to gather pretty leaves, twigs, feathers, berries, flowers and nuts then make a nature mandala with them when you get home  - photograph or sketch it then destroy it, making a wish as you do so (taken from How to be a Wildflower by Katie Daisy).
  • Enjoy an outdoor fire; either attend a bonfire party or have drinks and snacks around a fire pit at home.
  • Wear a gifted item of jewellery that you have not worn for a long time.
  • Cosy up with a favourite film from your childhood.  (Lynda loved Swallows & Amazons, I liked The Sound of Music and we both loved Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory).
  • Go for a walk in the woods and kick some golden leaves.
  • Wear some woolly loveliness. 
  • Choose a new novel, grab a blanket, hot drink and a scented candle and spend the afternoon reading.  We have read and enjoyed Florence Grace,  The Lake House and The Girl in the Photograph recently.  On our to read list we have Yellow Crocus , I Remember You , At The Edge of the Orchard and A Memory of Violets.
  • Dress your bed with fresh, clean, brushed cotton linen.
  • Make a homemade gift for a loved one.  
  • Take your book/knitting/sewing/journal/sketch pad to a cosy cafe and spend an hour on your chosen craft with a favourite drink.
  • Bake something new.
  • Give yourself a facial and get an early night.  I am loving this mask at the moment for brighter skin and tighter pores.
  • Get comfy by the window and quietly watch the birds outside.  I love to feed the birds and find they like suet blocks, sunflower hearts and nyger seed best of all.
  • Go and visit a friend or family member you've been meaning to see for a while.  Take some flowers and give them a big hug to let them know how much they mean to you.
  • Blow the dust off your board games and spend an evening away from the TV.  Wine, snacks and a favourite music playlist make for a lovely night in.  We always enjoy a game of Harry Potter Cluedo
  • Have a candlelit bath.
  • Try out a new farm shop cafe for breakfast, cake or lunch.
  • Visit a National Trust property and wander around the gardens.
  • Spend an entire day watching a new boxset.
  • Style your hair differently or accessorise with cute clips, flowers or combs. 
  • Wear a warm sweater with comfy leggings and spend 20 minutes on some candlelight meditation.
  • Treat yourself to a restorative yoga session somewhere beautiful.
  • Sort through your digital photos and print off your favourites for your own hygge journal.
  • Invite family over for Sunday lunch.
  • Light a scented candle.  1803 Candles are our very favourites; we love Weathered Crow, Banana Walnut Cake and Yummy Pumpkin Seeds.  
  • Do some colouring in.  We love the Johanna Basford ones and there is a lovely Christmas version out now too.

These are just suggestions of course - if you have any more you can add then please pop into the comments!  We'd also love to hear the books and films you've loved.  

If you'd like to read more about Hygge and cosy living, we really loved the The Little Book of Hygge, The Art of Hygge and, of course, The Cozy Life.  For mindfulness and positivity reading we love Flow magazine and Breathe

Day one of #30daysofhygge for me was a walk in a local country park with my folks this morning, kicking golden leaves and searching (unsuccessfully) for fairy toadstools.  

Thanks for reading - wishing you a hyggeligt November :)

xOx

The Spooky Month!

pumpkin hollow final.jpg

I am so excited to welcome October and release the final Autumnal scented candles that we have in stock from 1803 Candles.  Hocus Pocus, Yummy Pumpkin Seeds and Pumpkin Hollow are all really gorgeous autumnal fragrances and their jar labels are very festive! Perfect whether you go all out for Halloween decorations or like to give just a subtle nod to the season.  Shop now here

I have lots of plans for October, both from a work perspective and personally.  I had fun updating my Bullet Journal this afternoon with my plans for the month and I have written a blog schedule so that I can blog every day without having writer's block.  

I was given the all-clear to wear contact lenses again on Thursday as my eye has healed.  Hooray! I am taking it steady and only wearing them for short amounts of time at the moment but my mood has improved vastly!  It is so nice to see properly without a thick and heavy pair of glasses on my face that steam up every time I pull something out of the oven or slide down my nose with sweat. It is also brilliant to be wearing make-up again and remember that I do actually have a pair of eyes rather than two tiny raisins squished into my face (which is how I felt in my specs).  

Oh! And I can drive Mabel, my new little car!  My lovely friend Lynda (Laalaa) came to visit me again yesterday - we have managed to get together loads this summer, it has been great - and we had a proper tour of Northamptonshire in my minty pride and joy.  We had such a lovely day fabric shopping, stationery shopping, lunching and drinking coffee.  Although it has to be said, Lynda still gripped the door handle a little too tightly when I was driving, I think I still scare her even though Mabel is much slower than my Mini.   To top off a lovely day I went to an aromatherapy class at a divine yoga studio yesterday evening with Debs.  There's really nothing better than spending time with treasured friends is there.  

We are going to settle in front of the TV now to start Season 3 of The Bridge.  We have boozy drinks, blankets and a bowl of Hula Hoops.  Perfect Saturday night in doncha think.

Love love

Nicki 

xOx

 

An Autumn Evening Walk

It has been all over social media today; the first day of Autumn, officially!  The Autumn Equinox. 

It has been a beautiful day.  The sun has shone but it has been pleasantly cool.  I started the day slowly with my knitting and a cup of coffee, watching the birds feeding in the garden.  It's nice now that the hedges are losing their leaves as the birds are more visible.  The longer I sit, the braver they become; I could spend the whole morning there given half a chance.  

I like to start my mornings slowly and mindfully where possible as I find it a really positive way to begin the day.  I try to get up when Andrew leaves the house at 6:30am so I have a good hour to dedicate to breakfasting, knitting and quiet reflection.  I also use that time to review my bullet journal and the things that need to be done that day.  

These last two weeks have not been ordinary for me at all.  Having damaged my cornea last week I have had to take time out to rest and recover.  With my eye particularly sensitive to light, it has been difficult to watch the television or use my computer screen for any period of time and so I have been mostly listening to audio books, stitching, knitting and snoozing.  I have had lots of (mainly edible) presents delivered from my lovely friends and Debs came to fetch me yesterday to take me to knit club at a cosy cafe.  It was only for a couple of hours but so nice to see the knitting ladies again over tea and crumpets.

Fingers crossed, I am over the worst of it now and feel much better. The sun was shining when Andrew got home from work and so after a hasty snack for dinner we laced up our walking boots and headed for the nature reserve with the dog.  The sun was just setting and the hedgerows were laden with rosehips, berries and crab apples.  The meadows were alive with rabbits and the sky was full of flying, honking geese.  It was, as always, utterly peaceful and I feel content having ended my day in much the same way as it began.  

Earlier today I updated the website with some new arrivals of Autumn candles and soy melters. White Pumpkins, a Little Green Door bestseller (and my personal favourite) is back in stock and I can totally recommend Apple Butter House if you fancy treating your home to a fruity, autumnal feel as the nights draw in.  If you haven't tried 1803 Candles before and you're not sure you will like them, it's worth picking up a couple of packets of melters.  The scent throw is fantastic and they are great value for money as each block breaks into six squares; you use one or two depending on the size of your warming device.  Grandma's Kitchen and Cookie Kitchen are lovely nostalgic baking scents, perfect for the heart of the home.  I have a Lavender Buds melter in the bedroom, Cider Mill for the living room and Nutty Pumpkin Waffles in the kitchen. (It's worth me mentioning that I only have one lit at a time because the scent throw is so good that it lingers around the house and any more would be overkill.)

I am off now to finish writing my Autumn bucket list; I have a cosy blanket, hot tea and fluffy pink slippers waiting for me. Then - excitingly for me - I have new beauty products to try including a pumpkin enzyme face scrub and avocado night cream.  A cheer-up gift from my lovely man.

Love love,

Nicki 

xOx

Right Now...

The time right now, as I start this blog post, is 7.55pm and it is very dark outside.  I have got my woodland lantern burning alongside a new 1803 candle (trialling a Halloween scent - love it) and a big pot of soup bubbling in the Aga.  Andrew is playing football tonight and he'll be home soon.  It is cool outside but not cold (today was a pretty warm day) so as soon as he has showered I will fill two bowls with the soup, top them with shaved parmesan and we will sit outside to eat.  These are late summer days at their best... the glorious slow transition to Autumn.  I am savouring every moment. 

My work tray holds an embroidery commission that is very nearly finished and I am joining a friend tomorrow afternoon to work on it whilst we have a catch-up.  I am spending tomorrow morning with my parents; we are taking a breakfast picnic to watch the sunrise and, hopefully, a few water birds down at the scrape.  I love our mornings at the nature reserve; such a gentle yet energising way to start the day.  

I hope everyone is having a lovely week and not feeling too thrown with the children back at school.  I am sure it takes a while to get back into the flow of a regular day. 

Sending love,

Nicki 

xOx

Yay Autumn! 1803 Candles new scents online

September is my favourite month, without a shadow of a doubt.  Firstly because of the weather.  Although the summer sunshine tends to linger for much of September, the light becomes more golden and the mornings and evenings are considerably cooler.  My favourite weather.  It also, of course, heralds the return to school and reminds me of those exciting first days of newness.  New teachers, new timetables, crisp new exercise books, new pencil cases and shiny new school shoes. Gleaming freshly waxed parquet flooring in the school hall.  

September is a bit of a romantic month in our family; we all chose this month in which to be married.  It is actually my folks' wedding anniversary today(I think 43 years).  Congratulations Mum and Dad!  

I have been birdwatching with my Dad again and Mum joined us yesterday; I think she enjoyed it although Dad has threatened to bring duct tape next time to stop her chatting!  I was just happy to see her happily walk the 2.5 mile route without any pain after operations on her feet last year and a knee replacement this year.  I happen to quite enjoy her chit-chat too! :)

I am looking forward to watching the changing of seasons at the reserve.  In the last few weeks we have already seen the blackberries start to ripen.  Apparently, as the blackberries go over the bull finches enjoy feasting on their seeds.  The starlings in our garden must have moved on because the tray of mealworms on my conservatory window is still full.  Usually the starlings show up like a gang of over-excited teenagers, scrapping and bickering as they eat.  I kind of miss them although I do not miss the mess they make.

I am making plans for Autumn and I'll share them with you next time.  Plans include the embroideries I am going to stitch, films I am going to watch, wristwarmers that I am going to knit and the cakes I am going to bake.  We have taken delivery of some gorgeous 1803 Candles in cosy autumn scents and I've listed some on the website this afternoon.  They launched at lunchtime today and there was an exciting flurry of activity as people stocked up.  Perfect Pumpkin and Apples & Acorns have been the favourite so far; stock of those is almost depleted.  Pop over and have a look - if you haven't tried 1803 before you won't be disappointed.  They are by far the best scented candle I have ever come across.  The scent fills a room without being overpowering; very mellow and gentle.  The fragrance lingers too - we had the bathroom refurbished earlier in the year and one of the workmen told me how lovely and cosy the house always smells.  He took a big breath in and said: "ooh your house always smells lovely; like baking.  Very homely."  He made my day!  

Have a happy September and enjoy the slow transition to Autumn, dear cyber friends!  

Love

Nicki 

xOx

PS The mouse situation has been dealt with.  We have two humane traps in the yard and have caught four mice so far.  I haven't seen any around lately either.  We are used to having mice in the garden at harvest time so it doesn't worry me.  The traps were down for a couple of days and we had failed to catch any of the pesky rodents; I was starting to feel concerned that humane traps were not aggressive enough.  Eventually, as I popped out to grab a coffee last Friday I announced, in the general direction of the garden, that all mice had better surrender themselves immediately or I was bringing the 'snappy traps' out.  Lo and behold upon my return two field mice were ensconced in said plastic boxes, quietly snacking on giant chocolate buttons.  I like to think they recognised my non-nonsense tone!  Of course I had to summon Andrew from his office (thankfully he is based just down the road and was local that day).  He released them in a layby near his office and has felt compelled to release all subsequent mice there "in case they are family and miss each other."  Ha! I totally get that.

An Uplifting Morning

sunrise

I've said before that the small things make me happy and after a successful recce of the local nature reserve last week, dad and I were out early this morning for some proper bird watching.  At 4:45am I was dressed and in the kitchen making bacon sandwiches and a flask of milky coffee. 

I knew it was going to be a hot day but packed a sweatshirt anyway and I am glad I did - it was a bit chilly sitting in that bird hide at 5:30 this morning watching the sunrise!  We set up with our binoculars, tin mugs of hot coffee and my reference book, first watching Moorhens and Coots.  I saw my first ever Little Egret, swiftly followed by two rather majestic Herons.   The walk around the nature reserve is just 2.5 miles so after a good half an hour watching the scrape we made our way leisurely along the footpath.  We saw so many different birds including a Bullfinch, a pair of Green Woodpeckers and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.  I was very excited to spot a Blackcap for the first time!  I have started a record of the birds I've seen and am researching the best places and times of year in the UK to see those birds.  

There was something so special about being out and about early in the morning, before everyone else.  When I worked at the bank, I was not a morning person at all.  Now I work to my own agenda I have developed a love of slow, early, mornings where I can take my time over a cup of coffee and watch the morning unfold.  When my depression was really bad it took all of my willpower just to get out of bed and I remember days when I'd be still in my nightdress as Andrew was coming home from work.  One of the positives that I have taken from depression is that it *really* makes you appreciate the good days! 

Such an uplifting start to the day and I was home by 10am after a cheeky coffee at Costa.  Just perfect!  I have had lots of admin to do today, so I set up a den in my bedroom with the windows wide open and a fan on full blast.  I think I am going to pack up now and spend the early evening in the garden with my book and a drink. It's been a hot one here!  

Hope you are all having a great week; not long til the bank holiday weekend.  Yay! 

Nicki 

x0x

PS No update on the capture of our fat little mouse, I'm afraid.  It seems that humane traps are difficult to come by so we've been waiting for the postman to deliver some from Amazon.  It is becoming a teensy bit stressful now and if I could send Lizzie to some kind of canine boot-camp (to improve her non-existent hunting skills) I absolutely would.

Birds, Hedgehogs and Fat Little Mice

embroidered lavender sachet_.jpg
embroidered lavender sachet final v.jpg

"We are both like Snow White, but in different ways." pondered my niece, Izzie, last week when she came to stay.  With her glossy dark hair, fair skin and rosy red lips I could guess at her own resemblance but me?  "Well, I look like Snow White and you act like her"  she offered.  Cute.  That girl knows how to charm me.  Snow White is my favourite of the Disney princesses and although I'm not keen on the idea of cleaning and cooking for a small army of dwarves, I love how she keeps that cosy cottage so pretty and cosy, with the help of bluebirds of course! 

We were re-filling my bird feeders at the time.  I am a nature nut and although we have a small garden, living in quite a rural area means that I can entice various species if I get the right food.  Unfortunately, birds do not have the best table manners (finches are the worst!) and the seeds they drop seem to be providing a continual feast for a fat little field mouse.  (I like to think there is only one; the same missy every day.  I realise the reality is not so cute...).  I need to get out there more often with my dustpan and brush.  Said fat little field mouse was in the garden yesterday afternoon.  She was driving Lizzie crazy. as she nipped between bushes, the shed and the log store.  I am torn between letting her nest in the garden and encouraging Lizzie to catch her (yep, not so Disney).  She is very fat and I absolutely do not relish the idea of a gazillion small rodents in my living quarters.  I am going to send Andrew out for a humane trap this evening.  

We've had hedgehogs every night, too.  They also drive my dog insane but hedgehogs are my favourite wild animal.  But then, as I type that, I remember bats and badgers which I also love.  Ahhhh summer.  I love it.

I have been crazy busy finishing up orders from the Summer Brocante at the end of June and the very last Cabbages & Roses overdresses will be sent out this week.  I also took a few orders for bespoke embroideries at the brocante, which I finished last week.  I will be attending the Cotswolds brocante at the end of September and the Winter brocante in Sussex at the end of November.  I'll put details on here in the events section when I get a minute but I'd love to see you there. 

I am off bird-watching with my dad this evening and really looking forward to it.  He retired earlier in the year and I've been wanting him to come with me for ages; it was him after all who I take after with my love of nature.  I have packed a pair of binoculars, a field guide and a notebook and made a quiche for us to eat when we get back.  What a lovely way to spend a summer evening, hey?

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week and that your weather is appropriately seasonal.  It is hot hot hot here and I love it.  A proper summer.

Love

Nicki 

x

PS The kitchen and dining summer sale is still going strong over in our little shop.  It will continue until the end of August so snap up a bargain quick! 

 

Yay Summer!

Today is the hottest day of the year, so far, apparently.  I am loving it.... l o v i n g  i t !   I don't even care that I am simultaneously battling a summer cold and hayfever (an ugly combination).  I have put my swimming costume on under my dress and I'm playing musical chairs in the garden, chasing the sun.  

For now, I've moved into the living room - the coolest room in the house - to keep Lizzie company.  She keeps following me into the garden and lays in the hottest part until she pants as though she is about to expire.  It worries me a bit.  I've got the windows open, a bunch of roses in my new (to me) enamel coffee pot and a Lavender Lemongrass candle on the go.  I've got washing on the line and the house is getting properly aired with windows flung wide open.  Dinner is going to be homemade burgers with sweet potato wedges and salad, followed by homemade honeycomb ice cream.  Life is good!  

This is my first summer working for myself and being my own boss is still a massive novelty.  At the bank I could've been sitting in a meeting in London, Leeds or Edinburgh right now, not wearing a swimsuit in the garden and floating around with my glass of pop chinking ice.  One word:  wahoo.  Of course, I need to exercise a little discipline too.  If the good weather continues I am still going to have to set aside some time to photograph our new products and of course daytime is essential for nice, bright shots; I can't wait until the sun has gone down. 

We sat outside last night with all of the outdoor lanterns lit and the garden looked magical.  I think people tend to mainly buy lanterns in the winter but they are so perfect outdoors on a dry evening. We have been working on the garden a little this weekend.  I am trying to focus on perennials but couldn't resist some lavender bacopa and pale pink diascia at the weekend (the diascia I planted in apple crates last year has survived the winter and is blooming even larger than before.  I'm really pleased, it looks so pretty).

The weekend was a lovely mix of housework and relaxing.  We went to see Ghostbusters on Sunday evening and both of us loved it.  We thought it was hilarious but I think we were the only ones who did!  We were the only ones laughing for most of the film, ha!  

It is weird now that we have all weekends to ourselves; Andrew's son has recently turned 18 and has better things to do than hang out with us at the weekend.  It is great to see him all grown up and doing his own thing but I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the nights of Mario Kart and Parks & Rec binge-watching!  (I don't miss the early Sunday mornings of dinosaur top trumps and leaving the house at stupid-o-clock to get to a theme park before the crowds.)  

I'd better crack on and get my work finished for the day so that I can get back out into the sun.  I am starting a monthly newsletter for the Little Green Door and if you sign up you'll get free stuff, discounts and special offers.  I just need to work out how to add the 'sign-up' button to my website*. 

Have a great week, friends.

Nicki 

x0x

*edited to add:  I blinking did it!  At the foot of the website or on our contact page you can now sign up to receive our newsletters.  You will not receive spam, I will not pass on your details to ANYONE and I will not email you more than once a month, pinky promise. You'll get a 10% discount code for your trouble.  Thank you!

(PS if you have received an email regarding the loyalty scheme you will still need to sign up for newsletters please; I need your permission to contact you.  Thanks everyone.) X 

"When you cuddle, you feel safe."*

*said Izzie, aged 7. 

For new readers, Izzie is my eldest niece.  She came out with this little gem, conversationally, as we snuggled under the covers last time she stayed over.  I think she was a bit scared, spending the night in a creeky old cottage, and these words of wisdom were casually imparted as she lined up a small army of cuddly toys, on the pillow next to her.

My husband had, kindly, moved into the spare room for the night so that Izzie and I could share a bed.  All I can say, after sharing a bed with Izzie for the night, is that I can understand why sleep deprivation is considered a form of torture. Several times, just as I was about to drop off, I had a sharp jab in the ribs or a stage-whispered "Auntie Nicki, are you asleep?".  Eventually, I was asked to make up a story.  I told her I would if she just closed her eyes.  

Making up a story sounded like a doddle to me.  I write short stories and make up little children's tales in my head all of the time.  But at 10pm after a day of intense activity with aforementioned 7 year old, my tired mind was blank.  I gingerly started the story of Princess Clara who lived with her mummy and daddy in a beautiful, crooked, stone castle... "What colour was Princess Clara's hair, Auntie Nicki?" My response - long dark hair - satisfied the brunette little girl next to me for a few seconds.  Until I mentioned Princess Clara's long pink gown and sparkly pink shoes.  "They sound lovely Auntie Nicki.... I have a pair of blue sparkly shoes you know.  They're my party shoes..." And on it went.  The story became a conversation with Izzie constantly interrupting to question a detail ("I thought you said his coat was blue?") change the name of a servant or the words of a spell.  Telling her to close her eyes as I recited the story only led to the pair of us trying to secretly peer at each other with one eye squinted open, quickly closing it as we spotted the other spying.  Iz fell into an exhausted slumber at 10:30pm and I slept fitfully for the rest of the night waking on the hour to check that she was still breathing.  This, I remind myself, is precisely why I would make a rubbish (and exhausted) mother.

Those words about cuddling have been playing on my mind ever since, though.  You really do feel safe when you cuddle.  Giving someone a long, tight, hug during their panic attack can be a real help (it is for me).  When I was ill with anxiety and depression last year, my counsellor recommended I bought a teddy bear, for cuddles when there was no one around to administer them.  On the basis that I have a very placid and tolerant dog at home, I didn't buy a bear but if I had, I'd have chosen one of the ones I now stock in the shop. 

Pop over and have a look - perfect for big or small children and uber-snuggly.  I have more Maileg toys coming soon, complete with pyjamas and other, fancier, outfits.  My nieces give me the best excuse to stock them.  Last weekend, when the Maileg order had just come in, Izzie (7) chose the large fluffy bunny and Ellie (20 months) chose the tiny mouse in knickers.  Truffle the pig is my favourite! 

Have a lovely weekend and thanks for popping by.

Nicki 

xOx

Cosy Plans

Hello hello and happy Friday!  The weather is awful here today.  There is a thick blanket of greyish cloud and a fine drizzle just hanging in the air.  Most unpleasant.  It is the perfect day to get cosy indoors.  I have been really busy this week and haven't spent much time with Andrew.  I am looking forward to him getting home from work tonight so that we can cuddle up together and have a relaxing night at home.  

I think my mum has taught me well when it comes to having a cosy home and making the small things special.  One of my favourite memories of my childhood is coming home from school on a cold and murky afternoon to a snug house and cup of tea.   We never had the overhead lights on at home, our rooms were always lit by cosy little lamps on tables and dressers any time it was a little bit grey outside.  We had a lovely gas fire which would be switched on ready for us getting home and there was a little marble surround where I'd rest my tea and a couple of Golden Crunch Cream biscuits.  How I loved sitting in front of that fire with my sister, dunking biscuits and watching Jackanory whilst mum cooked tea.  I know it's just a really small thing but it had a big impact on me and I never took it for granted.  I love to try to give Andrew that same sense of wellbeing when he gets home after a grotty day at work.  

So, tonight I am going to light the candles and lanterns, get a fire going and make something comforting for dinner.  We have lots of episodes of Broadchurch to catch up on and I quite fancy a boozy drink in front of the TV. 

We are off out for the day tomorrow so I'm hoping the weather improves.  It was lovely here last weekend and we made the most of it by heading out to the pub in the village next to us.  We are quite lucky to be surrounded by lots of nice country pubs, many of them bistro-style with good food and the modern country decor which I love.  I'd spent the morning baking (with Lizzie following me around the kitchen like a shadow) plain vanilla fairy cakes with pastel icing and sugar flowers.  It felt like spring was on its way then.  What happened?!

Have a lovely weekend and keep cosy. 

Nicki

xOx  

Catching Up Over a Jam Sandwich

Hello hello! It is 5am and I am writing this post from my kitchen with a mouthful of strawberry jam sandwich.  I woke up half an hour ago thinking of strong coffee, bacon sandwiches and white chocolate shortbread.  Unfortunately for me, our food cupboards are a bit skinny at the moment and so I had to resort to my usual bare-cupboard-snack.  It's actually quite delicious. 

I am a bit excited, too.  I am making lots of Easter pretties at the moment and have already had lots of orders for my Easter bunny wreaths. I love making them and can't wait to send them off to their new homes.  My newly-retired dad has been teaching me woodwork and the fruits of my labour will be listed here as soon as the paint's dry.  

We had torrential rain here yesterday.  The road outside our house was almost entirely underwater and the neighbour was out in his wellies, paddling around in his garden.   We live on a bit of a hill and it is unusual for us to have such a lot of water outside.  It was gushing down the road and passing cars were creating waves as tall as me.   My friend and sister who both live in Market Harborough were sending me photos yesterday of various areas in the town badly affected (note to residents:  do NOT use that overflow car park for the Market Harborough train station.  Apparently it often floods in bad weather and you'll lose your car.)  My niece's school closed urgently as the lane was knee-high with water - she cried as her dad collected her.  She told my sister that she is desperate for school to be open today because she "likes to learn".  Oh, the cuteness of a 7 year old. 

It occurred to me yesterday that I have done it - I have made it through the worst of the winter without feeling depressed.  Yee-ha!!  The days are getting longer, the dawn chorus is in full throttle from 4am and tiny muscari and tete-a-tete are bobbing their heads around the house.  The relief!  I think it is a combination of finally finding the right job for me but I have also allowed myself time for indulgences.  Naps almost every Sunday afternoon, cake whenever I fancy (no dieting allowed until the clocks go forward) and lots of lovely binge-TV by the fire. 

A few new goodies have arrived here for the shop recently and I put them all up on the website yesterday.  They are all gorgeous; my current favourite is the large wicker tray which is a good sturdy number large enough to carry two dinner plates and a couple of drinks into the garden.   I also love the little rusty crown tray and can't wait to load mine up with Easter treats.  Have a butcher's, and don't forget that orders of £50 or more qualify for free scented candles.

Finally, I have listed the Walther & Co zinc houses.  Walther & Co has the biggest and best selection of house lanterns and each one is of impeccable quality and, of course, stunning Danish design.  I will be ordering more later in the year and it's never too early to start your collection.  I have managed to get my hands on quite a few over the years and they looked so pretty at Christmas, creating a winter village.  For the rest of the year I just dot them around the house in pairs where they twinkle prettily.

Have a fabulous Thursday, my lovely friends.  I am feeling peckish again so I'm going to make another teeny sandwich and find a cosy corner to curl up with a book for an hour or so.  

Nicki 

xOx