I have a problem with "No"

My name is Nicky and I have a problem with no.  Well, not strictly true, with my children (in certain circumstances that aren't them crying in the supermarket) I’m excellent at it.  I can say it loud and clear and with clout.  Why is it so hard when another adult asks me for something?  Why can’t I say no?

Woman in Progress: Laura Lea from Laura Lea Design

Our latest Woman in Progress is Laura Lea from Laura Lea Design.  Laura founded her Leytonstone boutique three years ago, and in that time her business has gone from strength to strength.  Laura's shop stocks fantastic artists and designers whose work can't be found on the high street (it's a must-go place for great gifts) and Laura also organises pop-up exhibitions around London to expose the artists and designers she represents to new audiences.   We're delighted she's taken the time to answer our questions.

A love of food rituals and creating a new one

There are many reasons I love cooking. 

I love eating, first and foremost.   I’d rather invest time in cooking something tasty than eat something indifferent.  I also get a huge amount out of the process of cooking itself: a sense of detachment.  My mind can wander as I just focus on the process - it’s meditative almost (that sounds wanky written down).  But it’s also, massively, about the rituals food creates.  The moments and memories that food can conjure.  Eating and laughing together is one of the most joyful of family activities.  And if you cook and eat similar things at similar events, those times, for me, seem to become even more precious.  To separate the food from the occasion becomes impossible.  

Woman in Progress: Tabitha Mackness, creator of Lil' Cubs

Our latest Woman in Progress is Tabitha Mackness, owner of Lil' Cubs, wife and mother to two boisterous boys.  Tabitha started Lil’ Cubs in 2015 creating gender neutral fabrics for must have childrenswear (bibs, muslins, zipper baby grows, leggings etc).  Her designs are modelled across the country and by lil' cubs belonging to trendy celebrity types too.  Branching out into illustrated prints and badge pins for grown ups, Lil 'Cubs Tabitha continues to grow her brand .  She's taken time from her hectic schedule to answer our questions - thank you. 

Pandering a.k.a Picking my battles

When you have a small person who has particular (often irrational) requirements do you stand your ground and watch the situation unravel or pander: go with it whist silently rolling eyes, and save your energy for another time aka pick your battles?  Who cares what you call it, if the end result is the same, they are the same.

Seeking solace in coffee and cake

The children are back at school and I'm looking for solace in coffee shops.  I'm not distressed summer is over but am in need of a little distraction - somewhere to write and eat that isn't home.  Laura and I are avid supporters of local and independent businesses and seek them out where we can, these are faithful favourites.

The best moments of my writing 'career'

This is it.  Golden time.  The magic window.  The period of infinite possibilities.  

The gap of time between entering a writing competition and finding out the results of said competition are the best moments in my writing career.

Back in the press: Hyperemesis Gravidarum, a personal perspective

When “The Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant” and “morning sickness” headlines hit this week I stopped in my tracks.  When will the media stop being shy of the medical terminology and point out that morning sickness, severe or not is one thing, and Hyperemesis Gravidarum is another.  The coverage is better and more informative but the real HG doesn't make for a good story.  I don’t know how Kate is feeling but this was my experience. 

WIP Cocktail Club: #5 Sloshed Puppie aka Strawberry Frosé Blitz

I like to think of this as a 'Congratulations, you've made it to the end of the school holidays' type of cocktail.  The end is in sight and, miss them as you will, you definitely deserve a drink.  Perhaps it's spending too much time recently in soft play and cinemas which means I'm inspired, yet again, by the idea of a grown-up Slush Puppie.  I've been wanting to try frosé (frozen rosé) for some time now, and finally got organised enough to make it happen.  

Me and my slogan T's

"Why don't you wear dresses more mummy?" Erm, because my uniform is jeans and a T-shirt.  The slogan T party may have started years ago but it's still going strong and wearing a slogan T shirt is my way of maintaining the status quo whilst revealing just a little of my personality.

Help - I'm at the wrong airport!

I woke from my nap up with the nauseating realisation that I was on the wrong bus to the wrong airport and helpless to do anything about it.  Still sleepy I heard in Danish "something-or-other to Billund?"  No.  Not Billund, Aarhus - I'm going to Aarhus!  Except I wasn't.  Idiot (*points finger at forehead with utter disdain).  Inside head swearing began - use your imagination. 

Why everyone blogs about blogging - but should we?

Nicky and I are new to blogging.  We didn’t even (whisper it) really read blogs before we started our own.  One of the things I’ve noticed though, in various Facebook groups that we’re now part of, and internet searches that I’ve done when I really should have been sorting out the washing, is how many bloggers blog about blogging.    But why, and should you?  Isn't it all a bit dull?

What I did (vs. what I should have done)

This week, like many others, started with order, lists and beautifully written calendar entries.  Sadly, by about Wednesday, it didn't resemble anything but slight disappointment and scribble.  The rest of the week, forget it! I try hard but invariably end up with two lists – “to do” and “what I actually did”.

Books to read when you're short on time

Ah time.  I remember it well.  Once you feel like you never have any of it, you bitterly resent your younger-self for wasting so much of it.  Time to yourself is something which, during the school holidays, is very difficult to get hold of.   And occasionally I feel guilty that I no longer read as much as I used to.  I used to read at every opportunity - now - well, I read social media far too much.  I thought it might be nice though to get myself back in the reading habit - but to do so requires books that you can read even if you are short on time.  Here are my top 5 recommendations.