Five Things in September AND Five Things in October

Welcome to the omnibus edition of Five Things! I didn’t mean not to publish September back when it was actually relevant. I got some terrible news at the beginning of October and have found myself all but incapable of writing since, especially about silly little things such as movies and podcasts and skincare products.

Sometimes things happen in your life that have a snow globe effect. Everything is violently shaken up and nothing is clear for a while. Eventually it settles and you can see what remains fixed and constant. I’ve spent October in an emotional blizzard. I am not ready or able – or willing even – to talk about it in any detail yet. When it comes to bad things, I write from scars, not wounds (I read that helpful language recently and it resonated with me – I can’t find who said it first online but I can’t take credit for it). Eventually I’ll get there. For now, I can say only that on a day-to-day basis I am okay.

Onto Five Things! This is still a hard list to collate this month. As I insinuated before, in a blinding blizzard not much matters. And yet and yet and yet – the drive behind this blog from day one, when I lived in London in a little south-west corner and it was called Condiments on a City Life (remember that?) has been about noticing and celebrating all those tiny little things. “All the little extras” as my old tagline went (condiments – get it?) that add interest and flavour to a life. They don’t matter, not at all, but creating a good life does, because we only get one. May as well make the most of it. Can you have a good life if you don’t buy skincare or good food or fun jewellery, if you don’t watch movies or television, if you don’t delight in the changing seasons or the satisfaction of a good run or the joy in an art gallery? I’m sure one can (God forbid I ever find out though). I feel like a one person debate team here. Nothing in the list following really matters, but your life does, and if anything on this list brings joy to your life, or might do, why not go for it? And if it doesn’t, it could not be less of a problem. It doesn’t matter.

Let’s try again. The most circuitous route ever to…

Five Things in September

1. Spring

I will never be a winter person. It’s just not possible. So you can imagine how happy I was to see the back of winter, even though spring – early spring certainly – is kind of a rubbish season here in Northland! Lots of rain (lots of rain) and everything gets so muddy. But then you get the occasional teaser day where it’s sunny and the air is soft, and everything smells of freesias, and that is more than worth it in itself. Plus, spring means summer is next up and my word I love summer.

2. Cleaning products on subscription

Yes, I am wild and crazy and always ready to party, why do you ask? But seriously, the more I can avoid the near-constant trips to the supermarket that life apparently demands when you’re nearly forty and with a family, the better. The second (I am exaggerating but hardly at all) I read about Raad products in a home magazine I dropped my reading and signed up to receive the dishwashing liquid, laundry liquid and kitchen spray every six weeks, delivered to my letterbox. As a huge bonus, they smell incredible. We’ve been using them for about two months now and I still notice the fragrance – it’s so delightful. Finally, I have the world’s most ridiculously sensitive skin and I was slightly nervous about whether the laundry liquid would affect it, but it hasn’t at all – I’ve been known to come out in a rash after one night sleeping on sheets washed with your average washing powder, so that’s a big and awesome deal for me. Legitimately good products and on subscription! This feels like magic. Signed, someone who got really used to the convenience of everything in NYC and still struggles with how much work daily life in NZ demands.

3. New home fragrance for summer

Speaking of things that smell good…! I’ve been loyal to Glasshouse’s The Hamptons scented candles and diffusers for a while now (I’ve talked about this scent here), but I was keen to change it up for summer. During September we tested four different mini candles around the house – Marseille Memoir, Diving into Cyprus, Lost in Amalfi, and Midnight in Milan. Hayden preferred Diving into Cyprus and I preferred Lost in Amalfi, so now our diffusers are the former and our candles are the latter (the scents go really nicely together). I love them both but I also really enjoyed our testing!

4. Hustle

My favourite new releases this year have been sports movies, which is so weird. I loved King Richard and I loved Hustle. Am I an Adam Sandler fan? No. Do I have any connection to Philadelphia? No. Do I care about basketball? Not at all. But Hustle, starring Adam Sandler, set in Philly, and centred completely around the world of professional basketball, was such a good watch! Until rom-coms become popular again, there’s always sports movies at least (apparently!).

5. Hangs with my daughter

Amelie and I spent an incredibly fun weekend in Auckland together while Hayden did a bike race in Cambridge and went to the rugby! We stayed in the Cordis (which has to be the best, most thoughtful city hotel for kids I’ve ever experienced) and had an absolutely delightful time going to the Auckland Art Gallery, looking for a present for her cousin in Smith and Caughey’s, lunching at the counter at Fed Deli, and getting our nails done! This last one was a big surprise for her and she loved it. It felt like we both needed this time together and by the end of the weekend we were both tired but so happy. She’s such a cool kid. I look forward to doing this with her every year now she’s older!

Five Things in October

1. Our pool area

Putting the pool in a couple of years ago might be the best decision we’ve ever made. Ever since we’ve been consistently working at the landscaping to soften the effect of all that hard concrete and fencing, etc., and this spring, looking out at the pool, I think we’re really seeing it come into its own. We found a lovely classic blue and white striped outdoor rug to go under the loungers, and now it really feels like our own little part of the Amalfi Coast with the stripes and the lemons and the terracotta planters and, of course, that sparkling, inviting water! We spend so much time in and around the pool in summer. I’m so looking forward to another summer of the same family fun!

2. Our first overseas trip in forever!

We have not been abroad since July 2019 – which is very unusual for us! No need to remind anyone of why. When things started to seem like they might be looking up we booked a trip to Fiji, fully prepared that we might have to cancel it. Great news – we didn’t and the holiday was everything we needed and more. Fiji felt like a good ‘safe’ place to travel to, given its proximity to NZ, the short flight, and the smallness and uncrowded nature of the island we stayed on (Malolo Island Resort – aka my new Fiji fave). We remembered our passports! We (just about) remembered how to move through an airport! Nobody got sick! It was the perfect re-introduction to the world of travel.

3. Rediscovering my camera

I have a really excellent little camera (a Sony mirrorless one) that is compact, capable of taking a great picture, and that I genuinely adore – but I hadn’t used it once in 2022. Last year I got an iPhone 13, which has a really good camera (you know, for a phone) and I just forgot about my actual camera? Or got lazy? Not sure why, but it happened. In Fiji, I didn’t want my phone anywhere near me if I could help it, so I made sure to pack and use my Sony – and left my phone back in the bure all day long. I loved being able to take photos while being phone free, and I love how the photos came out – the camera is still so much better than a phone camera! As an added bonus we could give Amelie the camera to take pictures and she didn’t instantly want to look at them straightaway, as she does with the phone. I can see (and am going to make the effort for) a very phone-light summer ahead of me!

4. Sports sports sports

Hayden is training for a bike race, I’m training for a half-marathon, and Amelie is loving after-school gymnastics and sports classes. We renewed our membership at the tennis club, paddleboarded and kayaked our way around Fiji, and have a surf lesson we need to book (we won it at a silent auction for Amelie’s school earlier this year! Whoops.) We’re so busy with sports and activities, and so happy with it. I grew up in a family that was very active and it had such a positive impact on me, and I’m so happy that Hayden and I are showing Amelie the same sort of life. None of us is the best – we’re not winning races, not these days anyway – but we get so much joy out of it. Plus, families that do sports get to travel to great places – we have two weekend trips coming up that are going to be delightful! I have a lot of gratitude for having had such positive role models in our own families, and for being able to pass that on to Amelie in turn.

5. This tremendous sight

I nearly died with the adorableness of it all when I walked into Amelie’s room the day before we left for Fiji and saw how she had arranged some of her toys that were staying behind. Keep safe indeed, toys. 🥰

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