+ Holiday picture in Spain

Life Lately: My Blogging Vacay

Three girls, three days.

That’s all it took to clear my mind of some crazy ass stuff! A sun-packed, Prosecco-flowing, olive-filled trip to Spain to refresh and recharge.  When I have time to do this my head tends to end up in a different space. This is an Oh God moment for my nearest and dearest as it usually means I am on a mission.

And they aren’t wrong. I needed a break, even from my favourite hobby, my blog. I never thought I would say that, the thought of it used to freak me out. It’s my voice, it allows me to express my innermost thoughts, how could I possibly take a break from that?! I realised that life lately has been burning me out. Most bloggers try to get that balance right between their blogging and personal life, not to mention your day job and then everything else in between. It takes commitment, dedication and encouragement from loved ones to keep everything going with the same amount of passion. Being in the blogosphere with what I can only describe as ‘gusto’ along with a strong social media presence is what I love but I recognised my mind felt like it had a million google tabs open at once and it was time to take a step back.

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The risk of not doing this means you blog without passion, what’s the point? The whole reason I do this is to express my thoughts, share my experience and well, just be me. I didn’t want to blog for the sake of it.

So my Easter break away with the girls was the right time to take time out. Knowing there was no pressure or deadlines really helped me to switch off. I was snap happy capturing fond memories with a renewed and revitalised mind.

I’m not sure whether it was endless sunshine and heat or whether I felt so far removed from every day life that enabled me to put things into perspective much more easily. Time away from busy streets, meetings, odd worries and unnecessary grief really does invigorate you and taking a step back from daily life helps you reassess what’s happening around you and to you.

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So what happened when I took my blogging break?

  • I reconnected with my geeky reading nature. I actually read a whole book and disconnected completely. Those million open google tabs in my head were kept in a loading state to be dealt with later.
  • That blinking cursor moment disappeared! This seems to happen to all bloggers when they just can’t think what to blog about. My future blog post content started to spill out, I was able to think more clearly on what I wanted to schedule and when.
  • I read heaps of blogs, as a reader not a blogger…how refreshing!
  • I de-cluttered my life, I rid myself of toxic energy and started to build plans. Things to look forward to.
  • I took pictures, heaps of them. I spent time connecting with my new Olympus Pen, discovering new features. I think I may have a crush on my camera.
  • It allowed me to go back to the drawing board and think about my blogging strategy. I now know what I want to do in the next few months to expand and develop. It’s much easier to think clearly about this when you take a step back from it.
  • I realised that taking a little time out is a great thing. It really is ok to do it and not feel guilty for it.

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So here I am back and refreshed. I hope any other bloggers out there who are afraid to take a break take comfort in the fact that I felt the same but it has been an awesome experience. Have you ever taken a break from your passion whether it be blogging or any other hobby? I would love to hear your thoughts!

N x

So hey you, yes you..I want to thank you for reading my post. Whether you’ve stuck around since the beginning of my journey or whether you’re new to my blog, thank you for reading and supporting. I genuinely appreciate it.

+ Woman thinking with a question mark on her head

The Things That Happen When You Allow Your Thoughts To Consume You 

I’m a thinker, I think a lot, I might be an over thinker…see what I mean?!

In all fairness I don’t mind admitting it. I don’t even know what sets this entire process off sometimes. Is it because I have an over active imagination or maybe I watch too many crime dramas that I think I would be an essential requirement for the FBI? It’s not just that, hurtful or upsetting comments can also send my thoughts spiralling out of control…not good. I guess what I am saying here is that whatever the reason, the only outcome of over thinking is worry, upset and sometimes anger. And your thoughts actually then control your feelings. Did you know that?

Life really is too short to have that sick, gut wrenching feeling. To feel disappointed, hurt and worried. What does that actually change? Nothing. But what it does do is waste your precious time and energy. And for someone who is dead set on maximising every area of their life, this is a massive issue for me. What is key to remember is that you can control these thoughts. It isn’t easy, but you can.

Image showing a cup of coffee and a quote saying "Life is like a cup of coffee, it's all about how you make it"

Photo Cred: Shutterstock

If you allow your thoughts to consume you, the following things can happen:

  • You suffer from emotional distress, this leads to anxiety and depression which then in turn impacts your nearest and dearest.
  • Negativity is constantly surrounding you, you become sad and can’t see the silver lining.
  • I have heard so many stories of people undertaking silly things to numb the pain which whilst may help for a short while, leaves you feeling disappointed and even potentially disgusted in yourself. It just isn’t worth it.
  • Your sleep pattern can be affected, this means unproductive days and potential grumpiness.
  • It holds you back from the life you truly want to live, this is when regrets take shape.
  • The more you think about things the bigger and scarier they seem!

They are just 6 things I can think of right now. I am sure I could add heaps more to the list but I stopped because it was giving me a heavy heart. But just looking at those 6, I know that’s not a great life, it’s not one that you want to live right? Life should be phenomenal and it will be if you allow it.

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It’s important to smile, be happy. This photo reminds me of a really happy moment. Can you think of a moment when you were super happy? One that makes you smile when you think of it? Like most people I have been through many ups and downs and most recently felt like mega crap, it’s not the way I want to feel. I want to help inspire anyone else who might be in that horrible place, to help stop your thoughts from consuming you and making you feel worse. There are things you can do to reject negativity and help pick yourself up when you are feeling down.

My Top 10 Tips:

  1. Write down 5 minor goals for the week and tick them off each time you achieve them.
  2. At the end of each day note down something you feel proud of that very day.
  3. Do something for yourself, be kind to you.
  4. Dress smartly, it gives you confidence.
  5. Don’t be afraid to accept help from other people. I would have been lost the last couple of days if it hadn’t been for some awesome friends listening and helping.
  6. Accept there are some things you just can’t control.
  7. Practice mindfulness – breathe and be in the present moment, sometimes you just need a real quick fix to help calm you. Trust me it works.
  8. Remember that when you focus on things you don’t want, you will get more of those things. The same applies to the things you do want! It’s called the Law of Attraction.
  9. Help other people, it’s a real mood booster.
  10. One thing I do, when that nasty negativity tries seeping in to my head…I tell it to f*** off and I do so out loud!

    How we live is what makes us real quote

    Photo Cred: Annie Spratt

What you think, you become

What you feel, you attract

What you imagine, you create

~Buddha

Sometimes we all just need a little help and I hope you find this useful if you are feeling a little bit pants.

Big hugs, N x

So hey you, yes you..I want to thank you for reading my post. Whether you’ve stuck around since the beginning of my journey or whether you’re new to my blog, thank you for reading and supporting. I genuinely appreciate it.

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Blogging…One Year Later

Happy Birthday to me!

12 whole months ago today, I launched niccimcshane.com and we celebrated in style at Coppa Club, Tower Bridge.

Coppa Club igloo dining

What began as a channel to express my thoughts, have a voice and help add a little sparkle to people’s lives, quickly evolved into an expat lifestyle blog and more recently an ‘Expat At Home’ lifestyle blog. From a young age I have had one main belief…

“You only have one life, it is no dress rehearsal and you don’t get another go at this!”

This is what motivates me. I spend each day creating and enjoying new experiences and memories. And for some reason, people seem to be pretty interested in what I am up to and my opinions on certain things…that’s pretty cool.

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I have probably experienced so much more than I may have done without the help of my blog. It is my passion, an extension of me and most of all it helps me to become a better version of myself.

Last year in my post 6 Reasons Why I Love Blogging I explained how blogging makes me feel, but 12 months later it is much more than that. My six reasons at the time included confidence, appreciation, discipline, helping others, having a documented life journal and finally how it makes me happy.

Lady laughing with a glass of champagne

Now, 74 posts later I realise I am actually part of peoples’ lives. My opinion counts. For example, what do you do when you want to know if something is worth buying? Do you go to the brand website? You see here they are going to tell you the product is awesome and basically how you can’t be without it. But don’t you want a real honest opinion? Is it actually good value for money and does it have the desired effect you are looking for? For example, if you are going through a life change and wonder what is it like to move to the other side of the world, for a new job? You have to consider your support network isn’t there. Is it worth it? How difficult is it? What should you do? No website is going to give you that advice, but a personal experience honestly documented in a blog does. Gartner have an interesting fact to share, that only 15% of people trust recommendations from brands versus 84% who trust recommendations from people they know. So here is my case in point for why blogging is important to both the writer and the reader.

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To continue with this example, I have a go-to list of bloggers for various things and I trust their opinions more than any website:

FOOD

Silverspoon

ladyironchef

BEAUTY & FASHION

Cocochic

The London Thing

LIFESTYLE

Poppy Loves

Zoe London

Tracy’s New York Life

These wonderful people along with people like me, are what you call influencers. We share experiences, help answer your questions, discuss what’s trending…the list is not exhaustive. In February I wrote a post called Why You Shouldn’t Be Embarrassed About Your Blog which really does capture how I feel about this journey.

“To Blog =

To share

To connect

To create

To inspire”

My journey has been and continues to be inspiring and exciting (yes I even inspire myself!) and I thank each and every one of you for reading my blog. Whether you have stuck around since the beginning of my journey 12 whole months ago or whether you are an awesome newbie, thankyou for reading and supporting. I genuinely appreciate it.

It would be a blogger crime if I didn’t say a massive thank you to my mentor and now dear friend Andrea, who introduced me to the blogosphere and the power of social media. She encouraged me to just well, be me! To believe that I am awesome, be god dam happy with who I am, know what I stand for and not to be afraid to have an opinion. I love you lady. And in addition I have to say a huge thank you to my family and friends who provide endless inspiration, support and encourage me to achieve my dreams.

A big cheers to you all, big love.

N x

 

 

 

+ Cleanse and Polish Nicci McShane photo

Currently Obsessed With Liz Earle

“Skin is a beautiful thing, wear it well”

I have never been one for toning, cleansing and moisturising…you know that full on facial skincare works thing? I have always been quite lucky with using fairly simple products without my face turning into a saggy mess but now I am older I am more focused on ensuring my skin has the right nourishment and protection. Which therefore means, I can’t believe I am saying it, I am happy to invest in the right skincare.

Researching new products to the market has become a hobby of mine but having sensitive skin makes me wary about trying them. I can have a breakout from using a product just once! It is so frustrating. I do all the due diligence prior to purchasing a product, I read the reviews and if they are awesome I happily invest the cash but can then feel myself getting fedup as the breakout appears once again and the money has gone to waste.

My Liz Earle Goodie Box

As always, there was a light at the end of the skincare tunnel. I was introduced to the award winning Liz Earle by one of my friends who works for the firm and has been recommending their skincare for a while. She knew my concerns around humongous breakouts and reassured me that although it doesn’t suit everyone, the products contained natural ingredients and the reviews are positive. So the due diligence began again, what ingredients? They include Beeswax, Eucalyptus essential oil, Cocoa Butter, Cucumber extract, Aloe Vera and Vitamin E to name a few!

So what can give me a breakout from those ingredients? Surely nothing right? Time to try. I arrived home from work and received an amazing box of goodies to sample, such a nice surprise but there was no better time to kick start me in to my new routine.

STEP 1: Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser £26.00 (200ml tube)*

Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish with muslim cloth

This kicks off the skincare process and it’s super simple to use. You massage Cleanse & Polish on to dry skin over your face and neck, finishing over your eye area. Then you rinse and wring out the cotton cloth in hot water, then gently swipe across your face to polish off the cream. Finally, gently splash your face with cool water.

*If you need extra cotton cloths they are £4.50 for two.

STEP 2: Instant Boost Skin Tonic £14.50

Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic with a selection of Chanel makeup brushes

After finishing the above step, pour a generous amount on to a cotton pad and gently wipe across your face and neck. This makes your skin feel extremely fresh and the scent of cucumber extract gives a soothing feeling.

STEP 3: Superskin Moisturiser, unfragranced for sensitive skin £39.00

Liz Earle Superskin Moisturising Cream with YSL foundation and Chanel lipstick

After finishing steps 1 & 2 above, apply a pea-sized amount (you really don’t need much more than that as it is a beautifully rich cream which really does go far) and again sweep gently across your face and neck. It contains cranberry, borage and reshape seed oils which I absolutely love! This is a real favourite moisturiser for me of all time.

STEP 4: Superskin Eye Cream £35.00

Liz Earle Superskin Eye Cream placed on a Louis Vuitton scarf

Finally I apply the eye cream gently across all areas of my eyes. Again, just a pea-sized amount is enough to cover the whole eye area. Be sure to be gentle on application. I swear this has reduced the slight dark circles I had previously!

I have been using these products for about a month. I felt it was a decent amount of time to give my skin chance to adjust and assess the results. Here is what I have found:

  • My skin looks and feels fresh, much cleaner and almost unblemished.

  • My dark circles have diminished.

  • My skin feels nourished, no dryness or oily patches in my t-zone.

  • NO BREAKOUTS WHAT SO EVER!

A lot of skincare products can be expensive, what I like about Liz Earle is they are much more affordable. Not only that, they actually last a while if you are sensible about the amount you use.

This skincare routine is now fully embedded into my everyday life and I would never return to using cheaper and less nutritious products for my skin, I have been converted so thank you Liz Earle!

Have you tried these products, how do they work for you? If you haven’t tried them and are looking for a new skincare range I hope this post gives you an insight into a different brand.

N x

So hey you, yes you..I want to thank you for reading my post. Whether you’ve stuck around since the beginning of my journey or whether you’re new to my blog, thank you for reading and supporting. I genuinely appreciate it.

+ Kung Po Chicken dish at the Duck and Rice, Soho

The Duck and Rice, Soho

A few minutes walk from London’s busy Oxford Street is multi-cultural, hip Soho. In the midst of boutique stores and contemporary coffee shops is the nirvana of Chinese cuisine, Duck and Rice by Alan Yau.

copper tanks housing various beers in the pub section of The Duck and Rice, Soho

On stepping in you enter the pub downstairs with huge shiny copper tanks proudly housing various beers and up a luxurious gorgeous gold and black spiral staircase is the dining room.

Luxurious gold and black spiral staircase

Upstairs dining room at The Duck and Rice, SohoChinese is my go to cuisine, the one which just makes everything better, which makes you go into a completely acceptable food coma so this was a perfect ending to an awesome weekend.

The main menu has just the right amount of choice, it happily includes all the favourites whilst haughtily introducing new and interesting options.

Dining table at The Duck and Rice, Soho

Jasmine tea on a dining table at The Duck and Rice, SohoJasmine tea reminds me of my favourite Singapore restaurant Din Tai Fung. Tasting this tea immediately transported me back there, to a very happy place so massive tick, a great start. This was closely followed by placing an order of seven dishes which ended up being more than sufficient for three of us.

Seriously fresh wasabi prawns with a light and creamy drizzle are mouth watering items of delight. Colourful plates of glee just kept on arriving…

I wanted to try King soya beef ho fun as I loved the name of the dish (I know I am a marketers dream) but I was not disappointed with these flavoursome tender slices of beef tossed amongst beansprouts, onions and glistening wide rice noodles.

King soya beef ho fun

You can never go wrong with chicken and cashew nuts, now of course this is much more than just that. It’s accompanied with sticky glazed onions, peppers and garlic. Definitely one of the dishes of the day for me.

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Kung Po chicken

The marketers dream continues with my love of jasmine tea and baos so to be presented with a combination including smoked ribs?! Hell yes that’s a must! It was delightfully sticky clout in a wonderfully perfect steamed roll.

I’m always wary of salt and pepper squid, I worry that the batter will sadden me incase it’s too soft or greasy but on picking them up with chopsticks you could see they were just golden bites of excellence. They were perfectly cooked, fresh squid with just the right amount of seasoning. Coupled with fresh crunchy spring onions, this dish couldn’t have been lighter and more crisp.

I actually secretly wanted crispy duck, one of my Chinese staples but these little beauties take the rolling pancakes process away. They are ready made, jam-packed rolls of lip-smacking heaven. Perfect as an accompaniment to your main meals but which give you that longing taste of crispy duck so I didn’t feel like I had missed out.

All in all, one excellent choice for lunch and a special shout out to my friend for picking it (she always selects awesome places to try).

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Duck and Rice: 90 Berwick Street, Soho London

Rating: 9/10.

Perfect for: Brunch, lunch & dinner with friends, family and those special romantic dates.

Price: Mid range prices with main meals ranging from £9-£16. In my opinion, definitely great value for money.

I am really looking forward to a second visit here. The food is enormously tasty and having a go-to chinese favourite in one of the hippest locations in London, you can’t go wrong. If you have visited here already I would love to hear your thoughts!

N x

So hey you, yes you..I want to thank you for reading my post. Whether you’ve stuck around since the beginning of my journey or whether you’re new to my blog, thank you for reading and supporting. I genuinely appreciate it.

 

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