January Joy: Try some new recipes

One of the things I wanted to do for my New Years resolutions was to eat a wider variety of food. I don’t know about you guys but I feel we are in a rut of eating the same 5-10 dishes night after night, Spaghetti Bolognese, Fajitas, Stirfry, Pasta, Salmon… In winter theres the added problem of eating too much stodge so I wanted warming winter foods that wouldn’t make me look like a polar bear even if I felt like one. I’m not so sure about how I’m doing on that last point but I have found some great recipes I thought I’d share.


The Carb-free comfort dish: Cod, Cauliflower and Chorizo mornay
The healthy breakfast: Bircher Museli with Apple and Banana
The Vegetarian option: Roast Aubergine Parmigiana
The one your kids will eat: Cheesy ham and broccoli pasta

To inspire me with some new recipes I bought Good Food magazine and I really enjoyed it. All of the recipes above have been tried by us from this months magazine and I’m seriously considering a subscription – it’s £5 for 5 issues right now! Despite being carb free the cod mornay was amazingly satisfying and comforting, the bircher muesli is awesome for getting some fruit in right at the start of your day and the cheesy pasta was a massive hit with Bea – including the broccoli!

Have you tried anything new this month? – I’d thoroughly recommend all of these!

Love,
Rebecca x

Thanking you kindly…

As a child I was always brought up to write thank you letters, and I mean to everyone. People we saw regularly, people we had already thanked at the time of receiving the gifts and people far away. As an adult, I try to keep writing them but admit, time gets the better of me and sometimes it’s frankly embarrassing after so much time has passed to send a thank you letter so late!


Image Via The Glitter Guide: 7 Sweet thank you cards
Now that we have Bea, its made me think a lot more about thank you’s and the act of writing a thank you letter. Personally, when I give someone a gift, I do it without the expectation of thanks. I don’t give to receive thanks in return, but simply because I want to. I might want to celebrate someones birthday or new baby, or just cheer them up and whilst a thank you is lovely to receive, I don’t count them or look out for them. In fact there are occasions when I would rather NOT receive a thank you letter… I’d would much prefer that new mum spend an extra 5 or 10 minutes cuddling her new baby than thanking me for the gift I sent.

Now we have Bea, a whole new world of thanking people has popped up, and I feel I ought to write thank you’s for all of her gifts too. But when she’s not actually writing them herself, I’m not actually teaching her to appreciate the thought, effort or financial generosity behind a gift (which I would plan to do in future with an older child,) and it is one more burden for an ever growing mummy to-do list. So I’ve decided that we will write thank you’s for geographically distant relatives and people we won’t see to thank. Those that we do see will be thanked in person on receipt of the gift and family/friends can have electronic thank you by way of photo or email messages showing the presents in use.

I’m curious to know readers, what did you do growing up and what do you do now, (or plan to do) with your children?

Love,
Rebecca

The Small Things… LOFTi Laundry drying rack

(In the past, one of the things that held me up from blogging was that I felt my posts were going to be one-dimensional or too simple if you like, but there are so many things I find and love and want to share that I’m creating a new column for them called ‘The Small Things’. Short and sweet. ;) )

When I was growing up we lived in a house with an old fashioned airer that was fixed to the ceiling and had a pully system to raise and lower it for hanging the washing out to dry on. It helped that it was in the same room as the boiler (and I believe some people will have seen them above Aga’s?) but it was a demon at drying clothes in the winter. As a result I don’t remember having a tumble dryer when we were growing up either. Since we moved into this house and when Bea was small we now have somewhere to put a dryer (the cellar) and bought one, but I have been wholeheartedly disappointed with it – I find it shrinks Bea’s clothes so they don’t last long at all, and apart from towels which it is great for, the drying takes forever. Bedding just gets in a big warm wet ball.

Over the last 2 years as we have renovated different rooms in the house, lots of the rooms have been out of action as dumping grounds or just out of the way, so we have always had a ‘drying room’. Read: Mountains of clothes hanging to dry, (slowly and sometimes with that damp smell that I hate!) and piles more that have been dumped off the dryer but not put away. I was so fed up of it I decided we needed one of these drying racks and set about finding one. I opted for the Lakeland Lofti aluminium drying rack as it was light and completely smooth so no chance of snagging tights and the like. We have positioned it on the landing of our top floor. It’s not that warm up there, as the roof insulation is virtually non-existent, but its above a radiator and so far I couldn’t be happier about how quickly things dry. The added (intentional) bonus is that once new washing needs to go on it, it has to be cleared and the clean laundry can’t just be dumped on the landing so it is getting put away in a timely fashion. #winwin!

If you have somewhere you could put one, I’d highly recommend it!

Rebecca x

Disclaimer! Edited to add, this is not a paid review, nor was the LOFTi provided for review. It was bought by me and I liked it enough to share.

January Joy: Make some Resolutions!

Hi again! Its so lovely to hear from you all again – thank you so much for the comments, I’m glad to be back. It would appear I’m not more timely than I was tho ;)

So as promised… my resolutions. I know some people dont like resolutions but I’m a goal setter and I just can’t resist January as a fresh start for getting some plans, aspirations and must-try harder goals on paper. I thought about not bothering but realised how negative it felt and although it’s seen as cliche, I can be found making resolutions most weeks of the year so the first is no exception ;)

Here they are. Resolutions, the 2016 edition.
1. Clear out and declutter corners
2. Finish the house
3. Eat better
4. Learn to Knit

I actually started my first one before Christmas with our Cellar. I was brought up purging (my mum is pretty good at it with clothes and as a child we were always made to go through the toy cupboard and get rid of some things before Christmas, which were taken to the local Childrens home.) Unfortunately I’m now busy, lazy and married to a man who hoards. The dangers of having a big house are that you fill it and our lives have exploded from a 3 bed terrace to 3 sprawling floors of space that is rapidly getting filled. The thought of having to pack it up if we moved terrifies me and I’m a BIG believer that if you are putting something into a room to keep it out of the way where it doesnt get looked at year to year, it shouldn’t be in your life. So I’m trying to use my resolutions to action that thought. Clearing out the cellar (4 car loads to the tip later and we are half way there I think!) was an amazing feeling and I want to keep going. To keep it achievable I’m tackling little corners and spots of clutter at a time, rather than unachieveable whole rooms and after reading this A year of tidying I’m thinking I’ll buy the KonMari book – Has anyone read it?

The second resolution is stolen from Pete. We still have several rooms to tackle and others that have been 80% completed but lack finishing touches. We also have an exciting project under investigation which I’ll share if it is actually going to happen. Either way there are lots more home posts to come from FF in 2016!

New Year, new house project…. Fireplace shopping today! #renovation #interiors #periodhouse #fireplace

A photo posted by Rebecca Norris (@rebecca_norris) on

The last two are certainly the stuff of yearly resolutions. Delving a bit deeper though I want to expand my weekly standard recipe repertoire and find some less stodgy but satisfying and delicious winter options. We eat a lot with Bea and I obviously want her to eat well and try lots of things so that needs to be woven into he plan too. I’ve already branch out and bought Good Food magazine which Pete tried a Cod, Cauliflower and Chorizo dish from last night that was amazing, so I’m inspired to keep going.

And it wouldn’t be New Year without a new skill right? I suppose I could say I already know how to knit but I haven’t done any for at least 15 years and even then didn’t know how to cast on or off, so there’s plenty to learn and re-learn. I’d just love to whip up a new hat for Bea when I want to or little jumpers and cardigans, and to know she was wearing something I made with love would be, well… pretty special. Watch this space!

Of course there could be more… date night, trying to get fit again… but now it’s your turn readers. Have you made any resolutions? Got any goals? even if they are not for the year and just on your current to-do list, I’d love to hear them ;)

Rebecca x

PS Look how big Bea grew! I couldn’t resist including a few pictures as it’s been a while… ;)

Happy New Year!

Hello readers! I’m happy to say, I’m back!

I knew almost as soon as I said goodbye that I wanted to continue blogging in some capacity, I value the community here too much to quit completely, but I needed to find a way forward. I think with the benefit of hindsight, because Florence Finds has changed so much since the beginning, it felt wrong to be continually winding down and I needed a clean break to start again. With that in mind, I will be here on a complete ad-hoc basis. If I have something to say, and the time to say it, I will!

I think part of the problem, aside from work, becoming a mother and that little thing called ‘life’ getting in the way, the way I blog has changed massively in the 3+ years since I started Florence Finds. Initially it was very much magazine style with snippets I found everywhere, but over time it has evolved to become a completely personal blog, a place where I share my inspiration and choices. Instead of pinching a couple of stock images of a moisturiser and babbling my thoughts on it, now a typical post documents something I did or am planning and a room update for example requires me to tidy,(!) photograph it, edit the photos, write the post and put all sorts of links in. They are much more time consuming than they were. I used to wrestle with my lack of appetite for trawling the online sites for a new ‘party dress review’ but I have come to terms with just sharing my life now, as I have always just wanted others to have the benefit of my experiences (good or bad,) and to gain the wisdom of so many others doing the same things and going through the same life stages. :) So here I am again.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year… I won’t be doing a traditional January Joy series, in that it won’t be pre-planned, but I think my blog posts throughout the month will reflect the general theme of ‘January Joy’ so I hope you enjoy reading them. I’ll be back with my resolutions tomorrow (as I felt they deserved a fresh post!)

If you are reading this… thanks for sticking around ;)

Rebecca x

Goodbye for now…

I imagine the title here says it all, but I am writing this to say goodbye and close Florence Finds for business, for a while at least.

For a long time, writing here has been something I have felt I ought to do, rather than wanted to do. Life has slowed down, so I don’t have as much to share, yet become richer and fuller. As a mum and working too, time is precious, free time even more so. In terms of priorities, FF is slipping down the list. Despite my turn of phrase above, this is not my business, my GP practice is and in the current climate that demands more and more of my time too.

I’ve always felt that blogs should be predictable and regular, so readers know when to check in. I’ve failed at that miserably lately and even though I have considered posting on an as-and-when basis, I know I would even then still feel obliged to post. For that reason I have decided to take a break until the end of the year and re-evaluate how I feel then. If I carry on here, it needs to be because I have found a way to do it for me again.

I know it will feel surreal, and I will miss the relationships I have here but if you would like to continue following me or keep in touch, you can find me on Instagram. Thank you for reading for the last 4 years, and take care readers.

xxx

Dream Destination: One World Observatory

When we visited New York recently we planned to visit the World Trade Centre site and museum but I hadn’t realised that there was a new viewing deck at One World Trade Centre and after seeing the promotional video we decided it was worth the trip. It remains the highlight of our visit now and I would unreservedly recommend going out of your way to stop by, it’s just breath taking.


Tickets are $32 (£20) for adults and can be bought in advance with a timed entry slot. We decided we wanted to go with the best weather so walked down one morning thinking if it was full we would book for later in the day, or another day. In fact when we went to buy some tickets we were told we could go now and so headed straight in.

I was a little nervous of going up there. Totally ridiculous I know, but I couldn’t help but think of the past. Stepping inside the tower is incredible though, its completely white as you descend (the photos here are of the PATH station below the tower,) and feels monolithic and permanent, making me finally understand why those poor souls in the towers on 9/11 didn’t flee instantly when the planes hit – the though of anything taking this down was unimaginable.

Although it was hard for me to forget at first, the OWO experience is very much geared towards the positive with no mention of the twin towers, just the pride this new building has become to New York. It starts a floor below, moving through a multimedia space with those involved in the planning and build taking about their experience then takes you in a ‘sky pod’ lift with video projected on all 4 walls. As the lift ascends it is as though you are moving through time, starting looking out over the swamps that NYC was first settled on then the early city and to more recent times with skyscrapers growing all around you as you arrive on the 102nd floor in less than 60 seconds.

Stepping out felt like being at the cinema, dark with an air of suspense. We were ushered into a gallery type area with the ‘See Forever’ theatre screen of New York scenes then without warning the screen lifted and the view out across manhattan was revealed. It was truly breathtaking.

The tour then moves through a small cafe and down to the main 360 viewing deck. There is a ‘Sky Portal’ which shows real time video footage of the street below, under a large glass area of floor, just as if you are suspended above the street. I also loved the 2 large ‘City Pulse’ view points with guides who stood and gave snapshot presentations on New Yorks history and neighbourhoods with local insight – it was a really nice touch that you didn’t have to participate in but I loved.

Of course the star of the show is the view and I was totally wowed. We had great weather which helped but it was amazing looking out there in so many directions, with helicopters buzzing around you and so many iconic buildings and for me, memories of trips past. As you can see, Bea loved it!

If you happen to be planning a trip to New York this was my absolute favourite (tourist) experience there – definitely do it! Find out more here: One World Observatory

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS Theres a fancy cocktail bar and restaurant up there too – if you go childless or just don’t mind taking yours in, that would have been the icing on the cake ;)

Review: Spectre

It wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t getting excited her about Bond, and the latest release Spectre is no exception – Pete and I went last night for a long awaited date night to Pizza Express and then onto the film which was lovely in itself, but Spectre… Wow.

The reviews have been mostly great and it is (as always) an amazingly entertaining watch, but I will say, it’s not perhaps as good as some of the others. I think Craig is the best bond ever and I hope he will do more, but there was a strong sense throughout that it was his last.

In some ways it felt like quite a departure from the usual format – there were references to Bonds past throughout the film and a few nods to classic bond with the odd cheesy moment, but it was the theme of bringing together all of Craigs recent Bonds (and their villains) that gave it an almost sequel like quality.

That said, Craig still plays a deliciously flawed Bond. There is a true sense of his fear in this one and also a little more weakness over women, more like we saw in Casino Royale and his love affair with Vesper Lynd. There are also truly cringe worthy moments of violence and cruelty where he appears at once unstoppable, but also on the brink of human defeat.

As always the cars are spectacular, the big set piece scenes are awesome, (although I enjoyed the car chase around the Vatican much more than the much discussed opening Day of the Dead opening scene,) and the women of Bond just get better and better. Monica Bellucci’s part really isn’t anything to write home about and perhaps a bit too classic (helpless female womanised by Bond) for my taste but Madelaine Swan’s character is much more interesting and kick-ass. ;)

So readers, have you seen it? Are you going? I’m giving it 5 stars, even though its not quite as epic as Craigs other Bonds, it was still amazing and I’d watch it again any day of the week! Go go go!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Number 2.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a chatty post around here… I’m very curious about this one. It’s a tad specific so apologies to the non-mama readers I have, but if you are a mama, when did you start craving number 2?

Just last week I met with friends and talk turned to babies and planning future children. She said that around this time (Bea is 15 months) she suddenly became totally obsessed with having another and now she is mum to 2 beautiful girls :) I asked her if she thought it was biological or just her desired timeframe between children and she said it was more biological.

It registered with me because I feel the same! I don’t think I was ever truly ‘broody’ before Bea, but recently I’ve had this uncontrollably (well almost,) ;) urge to get pregnant again, even though it’s not what I really want life or space between children-wise. I know lots of women have said the same to me regarding trying for their first. Its unimaginable before it happens and it still find it hard to believe that biology can be so powerful. (- why I find this hard to believe I don’t know, being a scientist and all!) I wonder if it happens to everyone at a certain time, is it nature? Is it related to breast feeding less, so the timing might vary mum to mum…?

So I wondered… have you felt like this before? Before your first? And if you already have a baby, when did wanting another kick in for you?

Looking forward to reading your thoughts with a coffee later ;)

Love,
Rebecca xo

The Garden: After [The Planting]

I hope you enjoyed yesterdays post – there was just far too much to share for one post so I’m continuing today with a bit more detail. :)

The design of the hard landscape of the garden is quite geometric which stemmed from the large square deck we had already built. All the angles and lines reflect that but the planting contrasts with the angles in that is is very soft and fluid with swaying grasses and cloud like groupings of wild looking flowers. The downside to this kind of planting is that is relies heavily on perennials – that is plants that die back every winter and grow again in summer  - so we needed some structure to provide a backbone. The box balls form part of that, are contemporary and also break up the expanse of grass which was my concession to Pete’s plans for the garden – he would have been very happy grassing the whole thing with a goal post at either end. ;)

The planting was inspired by Piet Oudolf who I have talked about here before. A Dutch plantsman who is one of the most influential designers of our time, he champions a natural style of garden based on wildflowers and prairie fields. He also wants us to see the beauty in all stages of a plants life from the first shoots in spring through the flowers in summer to the frost on seedpods and frozen strands of dead grass in winter. His popular public works include the High Line in New York which I was thrilled to visit in person on our trip earlier this month and he is famous for his use of grasses. I’m so happy with how our planting turned out.

I browsed a few of his books before choosing our plants and made sure I choose amongst my own favourites some key plants of his to ‘get the look’. Some of the key species included Stipa tenuissima (the golden grass you see here,) Echinacea (the tall daisy like flowers,) Sanguisorba (the burgundy ball-like flowers in the picture above,) and Verbena bonariensis, (tiny purple flowers that form a cloud above lower plants or grasses they are planted through.) You can find more suitable plant combinations here. The other important thing to do is to plant in swaths – to get this look you need groups of 7 or 11 plants rather than 3 or 5.

The patio area is where our garden gets the majority of the sun, and is quite exposed in that way so the pergola was designed to be a focal point but also to add shade. We planted 3 climbing plants at the corners to cover it and add dappled shade – a white Wisteria, a Passion flower and a scented jasmine closest to twhere our table is.

The borders extend to surround the patio and the idea is that as the flowers mature the dining area will be partially obscured, and feel slightly enclosed and more cosy for dinners outside. We eat outside a lot in summer so I can’t wait for this are to become even more magical than it feels already…

Back towards the house, we built raised beds to break up the drop from the deck down  to the garden and also to bring the garden to the deck, so to speak. They were built last summer when the deck was, but only filled when the garden was done.

The one above is west facing and gets the sun all day so it’s got some drought resistant plants in there along with some prarie style additions and some of my favourite cottage garden plants too. I aimed for height here so they were taller than the deck 50cm above the planting box and could be seen through the glass balustrade. On the other side, the other box is north facing and gets very little sun, only at the very end of the day as it drops so it looks very different with ferns (including a tiny tree fern!) Japanese anemones, Heuchera and Hostas for sculptural foliage and variety of colour in the leaves.

Of course, it’s still not finished. We didn’t completely clear some shrubs in one of the borders so there was some backdrop for the immature planting but we will be changing that this autumn and winter. There is also a flower bed I had planned to be quite cotremporary not he left side and not pictured really here, but I’m now undecided if thats what I really want, or if the plants I had picked were the right ones. I may give it a year or two to develop and think about it.

That’s what I love about gardening. Its never over, it’s never done and it can always be worked on, built and changed. Its probably the only area of my life that I take the long view on and as a result it’s so relaxing.

I hope you enjoyed the insight again and once again, the design was down to brilliant Iain from Outer Space Lansdcapes, with the planting by me. :)

Love,
Rebecca
xo