Saturday, 30 August 2014


We are not the first by a long shot to write about this current craze but we have both been nominated a couple of times (after being convinced we'd dodged it....) and Saturday finally provided the opportunity to complete it. Within 24 hours of 2 people nominating us……

As with anything once you are slightly behind the masses you are more likely to get other sharing opinions than those leading the way and so we decided to read up and find out as much as we could before deciding if we were following the masses and donating to ALS or if we were picking another charity.

One of the considerations was the negative press that was always going to follow a charity getting wide exposure, newspapers couldn't wait to share the fact that the ALS CEO takes home a 6 figure salary and that only 40% of funds raise are actually spent on those who the charity supports.

Then there is the fact that the act is wasting water, although in this country our recent downpours have provided enough water that the plants won’t miss it – we of course only used two small buckets worth!

After discussion, we decided to donate to the UK version of ALS, MND or Motor Neurone Disease. The decision was easy because one of our ex-colleagues lost his Mum to the awful disease earlier this year. Here is the way we donated: or you can text ICED55 followed by an amount (such as £5) to 70070.

From the charity:
In the UK we use MND – motor neurone disease – and in the USA they use ALS – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Both refer to a fatal, progressive disease that can rob people of the ability to speak, move and breathe. There is no cure.The reason there is a difference is that there are several forms of MND. ALS is the most common type.
The MND website is here:, we checked out as much as we could and like the fact that at least 78% of money raised is used to fund research or provide support to sufferers, their carers and their families. There aim is simple: Create a world without MND. Last year they raised £13.3 million so lets hope this campaign improves on that figure!

It is a shame to see that the press is now more interested in finding negatives with what started as a way of raising awareness, not only for ALS but for a lot of other charities. While we agree that charity should be something you support all year round, without the need for something as silly as throwing ice over your head, that is an idealistic view, and simply not the case for most people. Like it or not, the ridiculous act of filming yourself getting drenched and cold has introduced the disease and its victims to millions of people around the world, who didn't know what ALS/MND was until this month. For those who are currently and will be struggling with MND, a disease that has not received much financial support before this, the IceBucketChallenge is priceless. The MND charity have received over £4.5 million in donations because of this one campaign so far! 

So without further ado, thanks to Laura’s brother Jason and our long-standing, ever so kind friend Lisa (we won't forget this, you two!!) we accept our nomination!

And in turn we would like to make this a three continent nomination: from Australia: Kate Paul, from the US of A: Lyn Smith and Julia Green and (currently living in) the UK: Alison Bettis!

We'd love it if you donated to MND or any charity of your choice :) and if you have done the challenge already – good job!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

To The Bonnie, Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond (& Meeting Family in Glasgow!)

Hope you all had a lovely weekend, whether a long one in England or normal one everywhere else! :)
We went to visit the Bonnie bonnie Bank of Loch Lomond!

We went up to Glasgow for the weekend, for a post-wedding/family reunion-y celebration with Sarah's mum's side of the family. It was especially exciting as I'd not met any of them! We flew up to Glasgow after work on Friday, and were met by Sarah's parents, who had driven up that day with her sister and her boyfriend.

It was dark so I didn't get much of an impression of Scotland at that point, except that Sarah's Dad somehow took us down a one lane road that had no lampposts and went UP, DOWN, UP, DOWN, sideways, by some big windmills, it was a very intense way back to Kilmarnock!

We stayed with Sarah's papa, in her mum's childhood home - they introduced me to lorne sausage (AMAZING) and tatty scones (delicious!!), and I ate my fair share of scrumptious Scottish rolls.

We rented a 7 seater so we could fit the six of us in to travel around, and my name was put on the rental agreement - I was so chuffed because I LOVE to drive, and never get to in this country! I definitely got practice on roundabouts and roads with no white lines in the middle (neither of which we have much of in Idaho!), and impressed everyone with my ability to drive a stick shift car on the left side of the road, changing gears with my left hand, for the first time ever, around mountainous Scotland with my in-laws in tow! No pressure!

Sarah's mum's oldest sister hosted a barbeque that most of her family were able to attend - I met aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins - all very lovely, very Scottish, and so much fun. Very proud of my American self - there was only one person there whom I couldn't understand! Absolutely nothing he said. I also tried Irn Bru and vodka (lethal), and the food cooked was so good. We were there for 8 hours, chatting, showing wedding photos and an album Sarah's mum had put together of the America trip, laughing and playing games. A very successful first meeting, I'd say!

The next day I drove everyone up to Loch Lomond with the help of my trusty copilot wife. We stopped at a little shop she used to go to as a child for sweets and ice cream, and headed up through the countryside - beautiful, empty roads, fluffy highland cows, blue skies (!!!) to the stunning Loch Lomond. Obviously we were very lucky with the sunshine, but it was just as beautiful as I had hoped. Sarah said it reminded her of McCall in Idaho! We took some photos (a few too many Laura-jumping-fails) and Sarah's Dad taught me (well, he was second in a string of Dads (after mine) to ATTEMPT to teach me) how to skip stones. I did a few successfully, but I think it was luck because I was no good at it!

At the top of Loch Lomond, we took a road to go back towards Glasgow along Loch Long. Because this one is so straight, the military used to test torpedoes in it. This bit I thought was even more beautiful than Loch Lomond! Spurred on by my first taste of Scottish tablet (WOAH SUGAR) I drove everyone back to Sarah's aunt's house for dinner with her and Sarah's cousin.

After dinner, I wanted to see more - so we headed to Ayr to see the sunset over the water. We got there just in time and it was beautiful.

We got to stand in front of Robert Burns's house - this was so cool as we had his poem, 'Red, Red Rose' read by my brother Jason during our wedding ceremony! Sarah's mum knew lots of information about him, so it didn't matter that the museum wasn't open - we got to learn all about him anyway.

We managed to find the 'Electric Highway' - an optical illusion on a random country road, which meant when we turned our car engine off, it looked like the car was still moving - up the hill! Finally, we checked our Burns's monument, then headed back home for a good night sleep.

Finally, on bank holiday Monday, Sarah and I took the train into the city when her family set off on the road home. We went to lunch at the Hillhead Bookclub with my lovely school friend Rachael, who is at the University of Edinburgh, though about to move home back to Boise! It was so nice to catch up because we were bummed she couldn't make it back for the wedding. She gave us the loveliest present which we can't wait to put up in our home - it describes us so perfectly!

We had these amazing coke float cocktails, and were there for hours - the only sad point was that they didn't have the popping candy cheesecake I was SO looking forward to!

Afterwards Sarah and I wandered the city, found monuments, performers, lots of shops - and we bought the cutest brother for our Idaho spuddy buddy - meet MacSpuddy!!

Our flight home was irritatingly late, as was our flight out - British Airways seem to not bother starting boarding until 10 minutes before the scheduled departure time on internal flights! Very irritating.

No sooner had we arrived back in England, I became really ill - and spent the next few hours at Heathrow being hit with it, unable to go home as I wouldn't make it before the next spell. It was so awful, not at ALL the way I wanted to end my weekend away! I was up with it all last night, and it's finally starting to feel better now. Such a random and violent illness - maybe my body just wanted to stay in bonnie Scotland??

I really enjoyed my second venture to Scotland, loved Sarah's extended family, and made lots of memories. Funny that before I next get to go home to our Birmingham house, my parents will be here, I will have been to Scotland again, as well as Lands End, with my work's Ride Across Britain!

Beautiful banks of Loch Long!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Are You In The Perfect Relationship?

Recently the UK press have picked up on a study around what makes a perfect relationship. The study was done to mark the launch of the Two Together Railcard here in the UK – it would be nice if we could use it as it saves named passengers a third off rail travel when they travel together, except in rush hour which is when we travel (d'oh!)

So I thought I would share the key parts of of the article in case you didn't see it…..

Here’s the list of what a 'perfect' relationship has:
1. Admit you're wrong after an argument
2. Say 'I love you' before you go to sleep
3. Share household chores
4. Regular date nights
5. Take turns to cook
6. Sex twice a week
7. Share the washing up
8. Same taste in films
9. Meet through mutual friends
10. Three year, six months age gap
11. Two shared hobbies
12. Share three mutual friends
13. Three date nights a month
14. Best friends
15. Kiss five times a day
16. Cuddle five times a day
17. Have one romantic meal a month
18. Two weekend breaks a year
19. Both work full-time
20. Have the same taste in food

In my opinion, every relationship is different and actually I don’t think a perfect relationship can be made from a completed check list - but it was nice to see we can check off a few of these. We didn't quite get the perfect age gap, we don’t have time for 3 date nights a month – let alone 2 hobbies! Check out suggested hobbies for couples:

Our reality:

That reminds me did you ever see this....this was our Day In the Life video back when we worked together (those were the days)

I do like the fact that the article highlights "It's clear that Brits aren't demanding lavish holidays or expensive presents for a relationship to be deemed faultless – it's more about appreciating the time you have together and telling each other you love them." We’re simple folks after all :)

‘Exemplary couples also stated 'talking' as the top activity they like doing together the most and travelling together to new places.’ – well we have both of them sussed!!!!

Even if we don’t tick everything on the list right now, I am happy in the knowledge that Laura and I are happy. I know what the wrong relationship feels like, the forced feelings, going through the motions, feeling like you should behave a certain way, I guess forcing a few of the actions on this list! Thankfully with Laura I have never been happier, more fulfilled and more certain of knowing I made the right decision – good job, since I married her, right! :)

S <3 L xoxoxox

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

For The Love Of Robin

Robin Williams' tragic death has hit me, and indeed countless others, like a ton of bricks.

Like what looks like all of my Facebook friends, and indeed probably many of yours, I grew up on Robin Williams movies. He was so much more than a comedian - he made us laugh, oh yes he did, but he also made us cry, and think, and appreciate the world around us. The lessons I learned from Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Will Hunting, Jumanji, and above all for me, The Dead Poet's Society, have stayed with me throughout my life.

I can't say I'm surprised to hear that he has taken his own life - his struggles with depression and drugs/alcohol have been long-standing and well documented - but I still have not been able to shake the profound sadness I feel for him. He once said the below quote - I can't help but think how horrible it is that he was so very loved by so many, but still felt so alone.

So what can we do, having lost what feels like an old friend or quirky uncle? All we can do is pay tribute to his genius. Watch his movies, listen to his stand-up, laugh, and remember those lessons you learned.

“Like so many things, it is not what is outside, but what is inside that counts.” - Aladdin

"Like so many things, it is not what is outside, but what is inside that counts."

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” - Dead Poets Society

"No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world."

“You have to break in half to love somebody.” - What Dreams May Come

"You have to break in half to love somebody."

“All you have to do is think one happy thought, and you’ll fly like me.” - Hook

"All you have to do is think one happy thought, and you'll fly like me."

“Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting.” - Jack

"Please, don't worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting."

“But if there’s love, dear… those are the ties that bind, and you’ll have a family in your heart, forever.” - Mrs. Doubtfire

"But if there’s love, dear… those are the ties that bind, and you’ll have a family in your heart, forever."

Check out Buzzfeed for the complete original list and photos.

O Captain, my Captain... rest in peace.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

The Obama's Sent Us A Letter!


How are you? Good we hope!

This post will be short and sweet for 2 reasons;
1) It is so amazing there is very little to be said
2) We are mid building flat pack furniture

So here's what's so amazing.......remember way back in 2011 Laura wrote to President Obama about repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and he sent a very nice reply? Well if not check it out here:

Our love of the Obama's has continued through various posts over the years, there was the one about how much we loved Michelle when we did our 'What We Love Wednesdays', it's here:

Oh and we did a 'What we Love Wednesday' on Obama's support of Gay Marriage:

And then a week before the wedding we sent the Obama's a wedding invite and thank you letter for all they have done in support of Equal Marriage. We thought nothing of it and then yesterday, while on Skype to Laura's parents they mentioned that we had a letter from the White House......sorry the WHITE HOUSE!!!!!!

This is a screenshot of the letter:

Laura's Mum thinks it might actually have been signed by them as the ink has gone through the paper! Either way it is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! We were so excited last night we were on cloud 9! How amazing that they took the time to reply and that it was so sweet! Love the Obama's!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014


Possibly our most random post to date but we were contacted by the Southbank centre about a unique opportunity!



Southbank Centre makes its final call-out to all couples who would like to take part in the Big Wedding Weekend, a week before the deadline. The last day couples can sign up is Tuesday 12 August to allow for the legal formalities to be processed. To date more than 75 couples are confirmed to get married or renew their vows on the stage of the iconic Royal Festival Hall.

The Big Wedding Weekend, on Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 August, is the finale to Southbank Centre’s summer-long Festival of Love, which explores seven of the most powerful variations of love identified by the Ancient Greeks. This weekend is inspired by Agape, the love of humanity, and up to 20 couples at a time will marry or renew their vows in up to six ceremonies over two days.

Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, said: “We decided to hold the Big Wedding Weekend, the finale to our Festival of Love, to celebrate the historic change in the law that all couples now have the right to marry. Couples who would like to take part have just one week left to sign up to the event, which is set to be a truly memorable occasion.”

Southbank Centre is working closely with Lambeth Council, who are providing all their registrars in the borough for this special occasion. Cllr Jane Edbrooke, Lambeth Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “The Big Wedding Weekend is going to be a really fun and celebratory occasion and I’m proud that Lambeth is a part of it. I hope as many couples as possible take this opportunity to be part of such a unique event. The Festival of Love is all about accepting love in every form and is a great way to celebrate the fact that everyone in our society can now marry their partner of choice.”

Everyone can enjoy music and singing in the Royal Festival Hall and outside terraces over the weekend to mark this communal celebration with choirs including Southbank Centre’s Voicelab, led by Lea Cornthwaite; The Fourth ChoirLondon Gay Men's ChorusDiversity ChoirPink Singers and Chantage. During the ceremonies, the choirs will sing, Total Brass will perform, the recently refurbished organ will be played, and all guests will be invited to sing-along to the congregational song It Must Be Love by Labi Siffre, and covered by Madness. Southbank Centre’s Voicelab, a choir of 30 performing together for the first time, will sing Going To The Chapel by The Dixie Cups during the Wedding Breakfasts.

Couples will also be able to ‘marry’ in an inflatable church over the weekend and will receive a specially-designed ‘wedding’ certificate. Outside celebrations include ballroom dancing with Nicky Miles, a mass singing moment at 3pm on both days when everyone will join together to perform It Must Be Love in a mass singing moment; and the Wedding Olympics, hosted by Lost & Found – wedding-themed games including Champagne Dash, and Bridesmaids’ and Ushers’ Kiss Chase. Evening entertainment includes live music by The London Gay Big Band and DJing by Anna Greenwood in The Clore Ballroom plus love-themed party rooms in the Royal Festival Hall spaces.

Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love marks the historic change in legislation in March this year enabling everyone to marry their partner of choice. It also commemorates Nelson Mandela, who along with other political activists including Martin Luther King Jr, Aung San Suu Kyi and Mahatma Gandhi declared that love was the most fundamental way to bring about change.


For more information and images please contact Patricia O’Connor, Head of Press, at / 020 7921 0632 or Hannah Freeman, Social Media Assistant, / 020 7921 0722.

Notes to editors
Tuesday 12 August deadline In order for a ceremony to go ahead, the legal formalities must be completed at least 15 clear days prior to the date of the ceremony. 

The Big Wedding Weekend, 30 and 31 August Up to 20 couples at a time are able to get married or renew their vows in up to six ceremonies (four on Saturday, two on Sunday) on the iconic Royal Festival Hall stage, accompanied by music and performances including the historic organ, in front of an auditorium packed with their wedding guests. The package, which costs £1,000, includes the registrar, ceremony, photography, entertainment throughout the day including a disco on The Clore Ballroom and other events around the building. The wedding parties can also join in a communal feast (an additional £1,000 for up to 40 guests).

The site has been transformed for the Festival of Love with love-themed exhibitions and installations including Sliding Gate, play slides by Sean Griffiths of Modern Architect, which symbolise the ups and downs of family life; Love Flags by Turner Prize nominee Mark Titchner using the seven colours of the rainbow, signifying the peace and gay pride movements, which fly from the Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall roofs, and the Jubilee Gardens flagpole; the Tunnel of Love by disability arts organisation Heart n Soul, a multi-media, sensory installation with vibrating floors, mirrors, love-songs soundtrack; and The Temple of Agape, by Morag Myerscough and Luke Morgan, made up of bright, hand-painted signs about love.

Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, occupying a 21-acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Southbank Centre is home to the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and the Hayward Gallery as well as The Saison Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection.

We'll be there, milling around and congratulating all the couples! Yay weddings!!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The Name Change! Life after saying 'I Do'!

Weddings are funny. You spend all this time, effort, thought and money on this one event and then it’s over but your life is changed in ways you never considered. It is the bit after the wedding that I am just now realising really changes things.

Let me get to the point. I am no longer who I was. That makes sense right?

Part of this relates to the fact that I changed my name, I took Laura’s surname. There are a number of reasons for this but the outcome was a joint decision. We didn’t want to hyphen, no real reason we just didn’t think out names worked together. We didn’t want to make up a name because we both hold stock in our family names and we didn’t want to combine because Smutley or Nith just don’t work.

In fact, my name is still my name - I just added on a new surname, making my original surname a middle name. As one of two sisters I didn't want my family name lost, and having it as part of my name means it won’t be. It also saves any future offspring from terrible nicknames!

Anyway I digress, so while my name of 30 years still exists in some format, to the outside world I am someone new. I am Sarah Smith, wife of Laura Smith. If you met you 6 weeks ago you would know me as Sarah Nutley - if you met me today, I am Sarah Smith – how weird is that? I am the same yet different.

The reason I am bringing this up is because at lunch today I went to the bank, marriage certificate in hand, and changed my name. It was a lengthy process with a lot of photocopying and signing, thankfully I had a pre-practise session with my new signature, but it’s done. As I walked out the assistant said ‘Have a good day Mrs Smith’ I had to look around to see who he was talking to. I walked in Miss Nutley and out Mrs Smith – just weird!

Then there is work. I hand out business cards with Sarah Smith, new customers ask for Sarah Smith and my email address says Sarah Smith but when I walk into receptions I sound like a fool as I go between ‘they know me as Sarah Nutley, but I am now Sarah Smith’ I'm sure they are just like - pick a name, it doesn't matter– I look weird!

Facebook, Linked In and all other things that feature my maiden name all needed updating, I felt like I was replacing myself. It is just a strange feeling. Not bad, don’t get me wrong - this is not a negative thing, I'm really excited to be Laura's wife, it’s just an adjustment I didn’t think about. The banks cards, the mortgages, the student loan – everything legal, everywhere Sarah Nutley put her name I need to track it down and replace it.

Essentially, if you google Sarah Nutley I will end as a 30 year old, there will be no further photos past 30. Sarah Nutley went out in her prime and Sarah Smith is now starting a new, married journey! This Sarah Smith will never have been single (hopefully never will be) she will have a life happily entwined with the ever wonderful Laura Smith!

The moment we get a bill to Mrs & Mrs Smith I know we will be bouncing around excited, I can’t wait for our new joint bank account cards and I love making bookings as Mrs and Mrs Smith. I just never thought about how changing your name really is changing who you are to the outside world.

For me it is a true declaration of love, of unity and of our marriage. A way of saying to the rest of the world that we are a married couple and that’s exactly how we want to be seen.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Delicious Pull Apart Bread

This delicious recipe for pull apart bread has been tried and tested by us twice now and it worked perfectly each time! (And it's always gone within 1 day!) There are plenty of similar recipes and depending on your herb collection you can add whatever you would like.

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 + 1/3 cups warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
3 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:Using a stand mixer add yeast and water and mix using a dough hook.

Mix until the yeast mixture becomes foamy then let it stand for 5 minutes. Add the olive oil, salt, and flour, and mix on low speed until everything is combined.

Increase the mixing speed to medium and knead dough for 5-6 minutes, or until it is elastic or slightly sticky. 

If you’re not using a stand mixer- poor you J, we got lucky with the wedding presents, you can mix the ingredients in a large bowl, then knead the dough by hand. You will want to lightly flour the surface you are using until the mixture is elastic to touch it should take no longer than 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough, however you made it, into a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl with or a kitchen towel or a tea towel, then let it rise in a warm place for 1 1/2-2 hours, until doubled in size. 

In a small bowl, combine melted butter, rosemary, and garlic.

Lightly oil your hands and make small balls out of the dough. Dip the balls in the butter mixture, and place on them in a circle round the edge of the bottom of the cake tin (we put a small ceramic dish in the middle to make it a bundt tin). 

Once you have placed one layer of dough balls in the cake tin sprinkle on 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese. Continue layering the dough balls and cheese until you have used the mixture. Cover the cake tin and allow the dough to rise again until doubled in size; this will take around 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 175 degrees C then bake the bread for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. 

We added marinara sauce for this, but at different times have also dipped in the leftover butter/garlic mixture, olive oil with vinaigrette, and a nice chutney.