Never go to sleep on an argument.

Almost 2 weeks ago now it was Pete and I’s 4th wedding anniversary. When we got married, we asked everyone along with the guest book to write their ‘Advice for a happy marriage’ on little cards and envelopes that we collected in a huge apothecary jar. It was our intention to open them on our first wedding anniversary but we forgot and each time I came across them, or remembered them, it was far enough away from another anniversary that we forgot again. This year I stumbled across them more recently and kept them out purposely so we wouldn’t forget again this year.

And so it was that 4 years later we sat on the bed after dinner and took turns to open them and read the advice. Predictably, there were silly ones and funny ones amongst the lovely advice. I was surprised that we could guess who wrote what, even though most were unsigned and whilst we read them out, laughed and pondered, happy memories came flooding back. Like our polaroid photo guest book it was amazing the way you are transported back to that single day.

Just talk to each other and listen to what they have to say, simple.

Find space in your togetherness.

You are two parts of a whole, cherish each day together like it is your last.

Pick your battles!

Love, care and laugh. Don’t be too serious, but listen seriously.

Forgive one another before being asked.

The most dispensed piece of advice was a recurring theme and several of our guests wrote the same sentence…

Never go to sleep on an argument.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never really bought into that particular piece of advice and there have definitely been occasions when we haven’t followed it. Maybe I’m feeling sentimental but recently it struck me that it’s representative of everything that should be good about a marriage. Forgiveness, rising above day to day trials and trivial gripes because what’s important is that you’re together. Loving someone and making sure they know it every day; that they can go asleep secure in that knowledge every night. Putting your relationship first.  Facing problems and life together as a team.

Image Credit: Raw Photography

I know whenever we have gone to sleep on an argument, I’ve always woken feeling sheepish, the disagreement long forgotten. The reasons I had for feeling angry or exasperated always feel trivial and not worthy of the time spent back turned and without the other for comfort.

So I wondered did you do anything similar at your wedding? Have you ever been given advice for your marriage and like me, has your opinion changed as your relationship grows older? Have you got any advice to share here that you have learned from experience?


PS It’s been a while since I’ve written a personal post – but I’m hoping to write more in the coming months and hope you’ll all join in and add your thoughts in the comments.

Past personal posts…

Alphabet Dating… J – L

This afternoon we have a post I know a lot of you have been looking forward to – Martha’s alphabet dating update. Do share your thoughts if you have been to any of the places mentioned or if you’ve been taking part yourself, let us know how you’re getting on!

Hi all!

It’s me again, back with the second instalment of our Alphabet Dating adventures! I loved reading all your comments last month and hearing that so many of you were keen to try it out. My parents actually gave it a go but my mum despaired after my dad ticked off A for apple juice, B for breakfast, C for cup of tea and D for dinner in one day 🙂 So here’s what we’ve been up to…

J is for Jazz.

Most of our dates recently have been midweek so it was really nice to get all dressed up and go out for a Saturday night (oh God, reading that back it sounds so depressing!) First of all I was treated to a lovely meal at Gordon Ramsey’s The York and Albany in Camden and then we wandered down the road to The Forge where we saw Sax Attack as part of The London Jazz Festival.

I used to play the saxophone growing up and my lovely husband had managed to find a band with 9 saxophonists! We had a fantastic cocktail fuelled evening and I was even inspired to dig out my old alto and music books from our attic (although I have to admit that I haven’t done anything with them since!)

K is for Kew Gardens.

So I shamelessly stole Florence Finds reader Kate’s idea and decided to take the hubby to Kew Gardens. We have been living in London for a few years now and neither of us had ever been. So, a few Sundays ago we woke up to a beautiful sunny morning and made the trek across the city to Kew.

Stu was slightly sceptical about visiting the gardens in November, thinking that we should save our visit for a more colourful season but I am so glad that I stomped my feet and pouted like a small child convincing him otherwise. It was such a perfect cold but sunny day and we spent a few hours wandering around the grounds admiring the gorgeous autumnal colours as well as braving the amazing tree top walkway and visiting the glass house when we needed to warm up 🙂

L is for the The Lion King.

I was at work suffering with a horrible cold when I got an email through from my hubby with the subject “L is for….” with a huge advert for the Lion King musical pasted below. I literally squealed with excitement (getting several strange looks from others in our open plan office)! I love a good musical but we hadn’t been for over a year ago. The show was incredible (I would definitely recommend it!) and we happily ignored everyone else and sang along to all of the songs rather loudly! We made a bit of a day of it and had a lovely walk along South Bank beforehand and then finished off the day at Laduree in Covent Garden so all in all it was pretty perfect. 🙂

So that’s were we’re up to and I am quite impressed with us for managing 3 dates in a month – not sure how we’ll do this month with all the Christmas parties etc but I will be back in the New Year to fill you in!

Merry Christmas Findettes!

Love Martha xoxo

Not being ‘the Mrs’

Losing my Dad at 13 had a profound influence on me, but not just in the way it affected me at the time, but the way I looked at the future. It made me make a lot of decisions about the future – obvious ones like living for the moment and not dwelling on the retirement fund (who knows if you’ll get to enjoy it,) but also a pledge of independence.

I watched with pride the way my mum picked up the running of our household. I dont mean the day to day – obviously she already did the shopping, the cooking and the traditional roles any Mum would do in the home, (actually she was working by then too,) but also the more traditionally male roles. My Mum became our financial decision maker, book keeper, accountant and gardener. Looking around, many women in their fifties might have fallen apart, not even knowing where to start with household admin they didn’t normally even see. She was able to do it because she and my Dad had unusually always done things like that together and of course it would be obvious to say she also had to. I made me realise I never wanted to become the kind of woman or wife that ‘left things to him’.

A few years on, after only 3 years of marriage I can already feel us slipping into separate roles. I convinced myself it was delegation with things like holiday planning when I was too busy or looking for a new insurance quote, but I felt a bit guilty every time I asked Pete to take out the bin! It’s like that old leadership adage, don’t ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t be prepared or able to do yourself.

More recently, its been all about DIY. For over months the cold tap in our bathroom had a washer problem and although the tap turned, no water came out. It wasn’t sudden, both of us watched it get worse for months and neither of us did anything until one day it stopped. I nagged (no, not my favourite word but I’m prepared to admit that’s what it was,) Pete for months, first to fix it and then to get someone who could. He actually didn’t know how to fix it but I wanted him to look it up or something, there’s always Google right? Of course the answer was that I could just as easily have done something about it myself instead of letting it become the butt of every argument. Eventually the tap got fixed (Pete’s solution was to replace the taps, but that’s another story) and before long there was another minor DIY job… the hook the blind cord wrapped around in our bedroom worked its way loose from the wall along with the surrounding plaster and we couldn’t raise the blind. We both carried on, the hook could be left in place and if you crossed your fingers, it might not fall out during the day, but obviously it wasn’t ideal. The nagging started again.

A couple of weeks ago one Saturday morning I realised, I was becoming that woman. The truth was that although I was busy, really I was also out of practice. I had gone from someone who used to put her own shelves up, to being scared to try to fix this minor problem because I didn’t know how to tackle it any more. So I went and found the tool box, customised some rawl plugs to fill the gap and used a shed load of no-nails to secure the hook. Not all that technical I know, but I felt empowered to start doing these things again. Next on my list is the broken bathroom window lock. I’m told you can buy new double glazing locks and fit them yourself…

I guess some women look at men taking the traditional male roles of DIY etc as being ‘looked after’ but I don’t need Pete to do this stuff to show he loves me, I need me to do them, to make me feel strong. So if the worst ever happens, I know I can manage by myself.

I’d love to hear your take on this readers, it’s high time we had a bit more life-discussion around here and I hope to be bringing you more posts like this, but they don’t work without your input and conversation. Do you DIY and how do you feel about apportioning roles in your relationship? Have I made you think about retaining your independence?


Three years and counting…

Today, as you read, it’s Pete and my third wedding anniversary, an occasion for leather gifts (if you happen to be following the traditional system of gifts) and reflection. I love that so many of my readers are going through the same life events as me, settling down, getting engaged, married and starting a home or family, so I wanted to mark the occasion in some way and hear your thoughts.

I naturally started thinking, how are things different now, compared to when we were first married? Although some people say they felt no difference after getting married, perhaps considering their relationship no less solid before that little bit of paper, I felt a huge change. A sense of solidarity, like we were truly a team, for better for worse. I was pretty pleased I bagged my man, he’s a keeper. 😉

Fast forward 2 years, at the start of our third year of marriage and we were already in testing times. I wasn’t all that happy in my work and blogging had taken over. I’m not proud of that. Pete in contrast was happier than ever with a new job and the only mar on the landscape of his life was the fact that he saw very little of his wife. He kept the house clean, cooked my dinner and kept me emotionally sane, greeting me at the door with a glass of wine most evenings. And when life as I knew it fell apart, he quite literally had my back.

When I think now about what marriage means, more than ever I see it as taking care of one another, Pete is a wonderful husband to me and back then, I was not a good wife. I knew it, I felt guilty, but I was too busy to really see it. Pete taught me by his actions back then more than anything else could about what it is to be a good husband or wife.

Thank goodness, fate intervened and life at the beginning of year four is a completely different picture. The feminist in me takes pride in being an equal partner once again, sharing the load of daily life. Little things I do for him are not acts of servitude, but kindness, probably because they are returned in equal measure. I am still so lucky that Pete accepts and encourages Florence Finds as an achievement, supporting me when I need a little extra help to get by.

So, although there have been monumental changes in the last year, to my life and our lives together, the result has been a change in our marriage, for the better.

Now it’s your turn readers. I’d love to hear if what I’ve shared today resonates – if a big life event has come along and tested your marriage or relationship already or maybe I’ve just reminded you to take care of each other a little more. On a more light hearted note, I’d love to hear of any ingenious gifts you have bought each other for anniversaries that signify the early years… perhaps some ideas for number four?! 😉


PS – The images throughout this post are a sneaky peek into our holiday so far.. not the glossy blog shots edited for your enjoyment, but the cheesy end of your outstretched arm shots and the ones you ask other people to take. The ones that make memories, so please forgive the blur/bad lighting etc.

PPS – Think the tandem is funny? Seriously you should try it… it’s a one-way ticket to marriage counselling on 2 wheels 😉

Introducing: Any Other Woman

This morning I have great pleasure in announcing some fabulous news! Many of you will already know Any Other Wedding, or in fact have found me over there, but for those of you who don’t, here’s the skinny.

Despite the name, AOW was always more than just a wedding blog, and to reflect this they have rebranded with a brand spanking shiny new name – Any Other Woman ( I like to think of Any Other Woman as the sanest place on the interweb for debate, discussion and chat about issues that matter, with wedding planning thrown into the mix. Run by Claire, Anna and Aisling (meet the AOW team here), the magnificent three focus on the real stuff about life, marriage and love, the feelings, the emotions, the hard stuff and the true joy that comes with every single relationship and every single challenge. The wide range of issues they tackle comes thanks to their diverse readership and the support they extend – the community is magnificent over there with a huge following of loyal readers, always ready to help a fellow reader out. That’s exactly what they do, support women who are navigating their way through life and its challenges, be that health, money, love, feminist issues or just asking advice. Let’s put it this way, You got a problem? They’ll solve it! 😉

What they do best is talking about relationships. Every aspect of relationships are covered with aplomb, wit and proper common sense. I love them all and I think I’m not alone in saying it.

My favourite bits?
Ask Anna and Ant – Real life, sensible agony Aunt (or should that be Ant?) advice served straight up from the genius that is Anna and her equally amazing mate.

The famous Any Other Photo – Just one photo and some of the most touching words you’ll read, served every week on a Friday. Focusing on the emotion it’s the anti-pretty but even more beautiful side of weddings. And I’m sure there will be many new favourite bits to discover today.

Any Other Wedding started small and Blogger served it well, but as the team grew, they wanted to make their home on the inter-web a little bit prettier and a whole lot easier to use. Today they have completed their migration to WordPress (welcome ladies!) to accompany their new name and a seriously stylish new look. If you didn’t know, or you haven’t seen yet, head on over to Any Other Woman and check it out. Now these three dynamos have a home as fabulous as they are and I couldn’t be happier for them.

Congratulations girls!

Now what are you waiting for? Get on over there and say hi!


PS It’s a three post day readers! Come back later for stylish finds to brighten up your Monday 🙂

The Great Christmas Debate…

So, you’ve hung the decorations, are slowly ticking presents off your list, the cards are written and you’re planning the food. But come Christmas Eve where will you be this year?

When I first met Pete I was so lucky and after only a year or two he joined my family for a couple of Christmases, interrupted by a stint in Australia. Eventually he wanted to go home but I wasn’t ready to try a Christmas away and I missed him so much. I think there’s something about Christmas… for me it’s all about being with the people and that someone that you love. But what do you do when they have people they love too and it’s crunch time?

Image Credit: Green Wedding Shoes

My problem was as much not wanting to be anywhere else at Christmas other than home, as my Mum not wanting me anywhere else. We’re not a big family and apart from my Mum being possibly Christmas’s number one fan, that left just the three of them, including my sister which makes for a pretty sorry Christmas celebration. So I felt guilty.

But I couldn’t feel guilty forever because every Christmas I made Pete spend with me I know he missed his family too. It wasn’t fair and it was selfish. Eventually my Mum nobly conceded that we would have to take it in turns and I had my first Norris Christmas.

Image Credit: Kirtsy

Part of the thing about Christmas I think, is that you build traditions as you grow up. Whether it’s midnight mass or the pub before Christmas lunch, a Boxing day party or carols on the village green, the perfect Christmas is often what you’re used to. In my case that involved a lot of socialising, parties, dressing up. The Norris Christmas was so different with carols in the freezing cold around the village Christmas tree and games in front of the fire. It took a bit of adjusting but it’s now right up there for me on an equal footing with a Christmas at home.

This year, it’s my turn. Christmas in Southport with my family and I will miss the Norris Christmas. But it’s made me think what the perfect Christmas would be. I long for the year we will hold a family Christmas in our house. I’d love to meld together the festive celebrations at my house with the yuletide cheer of Pete’s. Masses of people, pets, children and food. Chaos and music and laughter and joy, everyone we love together.

So share with me your Christmas dilemmas – Where are you having Christmas this year? Has it caused arguments between you and your beloved or family, and what are your solutions to making it fun but fair for everyone?


Naked Ambition

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting quite a few friends for various catch ups and chatter; Naturally the conversation turned to Florence Finds and I told them how happy I was with the way the blog was growing already even though it’s such early days. On Thursday, I met Michelle from Pocketful of Dreams and once again the conversation turned to the future, hopes, dreams and plans.  As we’re both at a similar crossroads in life we shared concerns and ideas, and after talking to her I came away thinking, how acceptable is it to be ambitious?

It seems to me that ambition isn’t a terribly ‘British’ pursuit. Being ambitious requires a certain degree of tenacity, the ability to constantly push yourself forward, seizing opportunities and indeed making them. As people ask me how Florence Finds is going, my thoughts naturally leap forward to not how, but where it’s going. The answer is, I’m not quite sure.

It seems uncouth to look to be financially sucessful, and certainly to talk about it. I hear people everyday talk about how they ‘love their job’ almost as an excuse for it bringing them financial reward and declarations of ‘I don’t do it for the money!’  It’s all very well to do things because you love them, but when they’re a sideline and detracting from the main source of your income, the thing that is taking your life where you want it to go, then what?

Blogging has opened up such a world of opportunities to me and exposed me to some truly admirable business people, many of them women. Business was never on my radar as featuring in my future but I think the fact that I am naturally quite driven (or so people tell me) means that having gotten involved in it in the past, I’m wondering if it’s somewhere I want to go again. But how much risk is involved in being ambitious? It seems to me the biggest risk is failure, and not just failing, but doing it publicly. If you’re afraid to fail, how can you ever truly commit to putting your heart and soul into a project, honestly and publicly?

Fortunately I’m not much of a one for listening to nay-sayers or doubting myself. In someways my headlong rush towards new opportunities has lead to some sticky situations, but everyone of them can be chalked up to experience and has taught me so many lessons for the future.

Right now I’m treading water, waiting, watching. The passtime that I call my ‘day job’ is actually a profession, a career, a vocation. Yet after years of training I’m letting it tick along on the back burners while I see this chapter of my life close and wait for the first lines of the next one to be written.

Under it all is the naked ambition to want more for my life. I didn’t train this hard to tread water. I didn’t take a leap of faith to break my career’s progression for nothing. I want to move house, have space to invite my friends and family more often, have a Christmas in our home. I want to be tangibly sucessful, not base my worth on twitter followers, percieved influence and false praise.

All this left me thinking, do you consider yourself ambitious? Have you considered your life’s path recently and wondered how to take it in the direction you want? Maybe you’ve already taken a leap. What is it that drives you forward in life?


PS. In case you’re wondering, one of my slightly ahem, smaller, ambitions right now is to sort out the mess that I call my office. The images above come from my Pinterest collection of inspiring office spaces 😉 One step at a time, ‘tidy desk, tidy mind’ and all that!

Making Friends when you’re a grown-up

One of the best bits of my experience blogging, prior to starting Florence Finds, was the networking, the meeting people, the making new friends. By nature, I’m a sociable person, I really look forward to meeting new people when there are events and parties booked into my diary, whether it’s with people I’ve conversed with on twitter, in real life fleetingly at events or people who are totally new to me.

Image Credit: Erin Ever After

Many a time however, it has occurred to me that if it wasn’t for me having this new avenue to explore or experience in life, how else would I have continued making new friends?

I hadn’t ever given it any thought until a couple of years ago when my friendship circle started to dwindle as we all entered a new chapter in our lives post-university. Couples moved away for new jobs at first, then in recent years, they started having babies. Girls nights out have become less frequent and trickier to arrange! It all seems unimaginably grown up. And in the latest chapter my friend Laura is heading off to Canada for a year or two for a married adventure with her husband. Sometimes it feels like everyone is leaving one by one.

*Image Credit: Sartorialist

Along with that, I’ve also reached that point in my career where I am no longer moving around and could soon settle into a permanent job, where I could stay with the same colleagues and staff for the rest of my working life, with little change in those around me to encourage new friendships.

I know that a natural time to make new friends is when having children – pre-natal groups, baby groups, at the school gate, but that’s still some way off for me I think, so I often wonder, How do adults make new friends?

Image Credit

We’re not all so dynamic as to be able to take up a new hobby regularly or lucky enough to have the time. I’m also aware that whilst my friends have moved on, I’ve been the lucky one, staying in the same place without any of the stress or uncertainty of starting afresh elsewhere. Perhaps you’re one of those people, who had to start again somewhere new, or maybe you were uprooted because of your partner having to move which must be even harder. I can imagine that if you’re not outgoing it might be really hard to reach out to new people and result in feeling lonely and isolated – life is really hard when your best friend isn’t around for some reason.

Image Credit

I’m hoping that Florence Finds will become a place where you can have a little mobile piece of home, like a virtual comfort blanket of supportive ladies who can start helping each other today. I’d like you all to share your stories if you have any experience of moving jobs and areas, away from those you love, your friends or family. Maybe you’ve got that situation looming or are going through it now, or maybe you’re the one staying put but losing a friend… I’d love to hear how you dealt with it and made a new life and friends somewhere new and hopefully leave those with the situation yet to face feeling a little less daunted or apprehensive.

Lots of here’s-to-making-new-friends-in-new-places love,

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