Taking a breather…



As you probably know, my life is in a state of flux at the moment. It seems the universe has picked up the snow globe containing my life and has given it a good shake. DM, Munchkin and I are bunkered down, watching our world fly around us, waiting for things to settle, occasionally nudging things and hoping they land where we’d like.

We’re also working our way through an ever-growing To Do list. DM is trying to finish his thesis, his Masters course, to wind up his old job and to start a new one (where the first 90 days are always important). Munchkin is walking, dropped her 2nd nap during the day this weekend *sobs*, and seems determined to investigate and to help with everything we’re doing. So it is now impossible to make or work on the computer whilst she’s awake. Then we’ve the move to America to deal with.

And I’m feeling a bit erm… fragile. I’m tired and frustrated. I’m not unhappy; quite the opposite! But I am tired of feeling like I’m continually trying to shut the gate after the horse has bolted.

So, just this morning whilst I was watching Munchkin play in the park, I realised that I’d spent a good part of her play time in self flagellation and trying to work out how I could keep her entertained and out of my way so I could work. I became frustrated because she interrupted me as I attempted to reply to an email. I realised I’d missed a fair amount of joy; the sun is out, the park full of dogs, flowers peeking through the grass and the sunshine has Switzerland’s residents smiling at one another on the street.  I’d missed part of it trying to reply to emails and to check social media. In the process I’d almost missed something even more important; this face as my daughter investigated the play equipment.

With this in mind I’ve made a decision. I need to take some of the pressure off. I create best when I’m not working to self set deadlines or merely trying to post a set number of times a week. And I’m happiest when I can work to make something as I’d like;  not a half-hearted, quick solution.

I need to Spring clean the blog. But I can’t magic up the time to do it and keep publishing posts every week without sacrificing family time and sleep. Neither of which will make me happy or healthy. So I’ve decided to take a break from the blogs for about a month. I won’t stop working, but I am planning to take the time needed to make and fix all the things on the blogs that have been frustrating me no end, and to get ahead on my posts. This will also mean that I can continue to blog during our move, when we’ll be living in temporary accommodation.

Please bear with me, I’ll still pop up on Facebook and Instagram during the next few weeks. But I won’t be posting on Next to nicx or Munchkin et moi.

See you, with some great posts, and a refreshed blog, in a few weeks!

P.S- Here’s a sneak peek of one of the projects I’m hoping to spend a decent amount of time working on. Writing up the pattern and tutorial to Ikea hack this tent, into this:



Big Moves – Leaving Lausanne

I’ve alluded to big changes here and there the last few months. I can finally share the largest one with you. This one has been in the works since before Christmas, and having it settled last week had us drinking pink champagne on a school night.

Champagne on a school night

We’re moving. Farewelling Lausanne and Europe, for a few years at least, and heading to California.

DM has accepted a job he was offered in Silicon Valley, so we’re looking to live in the Oakland/ Berkeley area. It seems we might fit there (I’ve already found two stitch ‘n’ bitch groups!).

We’ve a few months in Europe yet, we move in June/July, so I’m cramming in many visits to Paris, Berlin and London before then.

I’m 50% insanely excited and 50% heartbroken. I adore Europe and living here for almost 6 years has resulted in fabulous friendships and Lausanne feeling a lot like home. Munchkin was born here and I can see the clinic she was born in from my lounge. Switzerland is central to so much and has resulted in us having so many exciting European adventures. Read more

Munchkin et moi- a sister blog

Munchkin et moi - Paris weekend trip


I’ve spent the last few weeks and months thinking about where I’d like to take Next to Nicx, both as a blog and as a store. I’ve hinted at some exciting projects in the past, some that will involve the creation of kits, and physical products.

But some big life changes have appeared on the horizon and I’ve had to put the creation of some product on hold until these things are settled. Thankfully none of this will stop me from being able to blog.

Hopefully I’ll be able to tell you more very shortly but we are waiting for things to fall into place. And these things involve other people, which takes time, and so for the moment there is nothing we can do but wait!

In the meantime, I have been busy! I took myself off to Playtime Paris last weekend and that visit confirmed something I’d been thinking for a while. I’ve felt a little hampered over the past few months as I’ve really wanted to share loads of the amazing kids things I’ve found, bought or made for Munchkin, but Next to Nicx hasn’t felt like the right medium.

I’ve decided I need a kids blog.

I’m not leaving Next to Nicx, it will just revert to more of what it used to be; crafting and making and baking. And my new blog will be purely Munchkin based. Including craft, recipes, fashion… anything Munchkin.

So with a grand TA… DA…! I introduce you to a sister blog to Next to Nicx:


Munchkin et moi.


Have a look and let me know what you think? It’s still in very early stages and will grow and evolve just like Next to Nicx has. For the moment, it only has it’s own Facebook page. Next to Nicx is still where to find me on Instagram, Pinterest, Ello and Bloglovin etc


Munchkin’s year on Instagram – in a box



I very rarely do product posts. But I just received our first Polabox in the mail and I love it!

There’s something just so satisfying about holding physical copies of my Instagram photographs. We ordered a test box of thirty, containing photos of Munchkin’s first year to send to her Great-Grandmother in Australia. We’re so happy with the result, we’re in the process of ordering a whole heap more for her Nana, other Great-Grandmother, Aunt who struggles with things technical, Nono and a copy for us.

You can either download the app to your phone or select your photos etc online. You’re not limited to Instagram, any photo you can access on your device can be used.

Thirty photo’s in a cute and very sturdy box are 16.95 euro. They’re created in Paris and shipped toute de suite. Ours took just 5 days to arrive (over a weekend).

The box they arrive in is sturdy and wrapped in a bubble wrap package. But you could easily tape the box shut, add a shipping label and a stamp and send it on. The contents would be perfectly safe. And as the box is just 2cm high, this is a great option for those of us who live in Switzerland and are trying to cut down on shipping charges, 2cm is classified as a letter, not a parcel.

For those of you who want to try the service – here’s a promocode that will give you 5 euros off – NICPRN 

I’m now looking at printing photobooks. I really love the look of My Little Photobook, have you tried them? If so what do you think of the results?

In the interest of full disclosure, when you use this code, I also receive a credit on my next order. Otherwise this post is unsponsored.

My greatest project

Nicola Pravato by Hayley Hay Photography

Many of you who have followed ‘next to nicx’ over the years have probably noticed that it’s not plastered with my photograph. In fact, I’ve actively avoided putting my face on the blog as I’ve rather liked hiding behind my creations. I’ve loved letting them do the talking and showing off, particularly as I’m not comfortable in front of a camera and have tended to prefer being behind it. I am something of an introvert.

Nicola Pravato by Hayley Hay Photography

I thought that if my ‘face’ didn’t match what you thought it would look like, you’d be disappointed. A little like when someone creates a movie adaption of a book you love and they put what you feel is entirely the wrong actor in the part. The book is forever tainted by the awful actor and the mental image you had created is slightly overwritten.

I didn’t feel like the face of this blog. I was pregnant and fat and I’m still not back to my ideal shape. I’m sleep deprived, tired and have struggled with an iron deficiency. I’ve used all these as my excuses for leaving my face off the blog and to keep hiding in relative obscurity.

Nicola Pravato by Hayley Hay Photography

But all that comfortable anonymity has recently been stripped away. I was asked to complete a project (rather a splediferous one I can share with you in August) and they wanted to put my photo on it. After the subsequent panic attack, I realised that I can no longer hide. And whilst I’ve no plans of plastering my face over every post, I probably do need to share a little more than I have been.

Thankfully I’ve recently become friends with lovely and insanely talented Hayley Hay. She’s amazing! Hayley came to my rescue and took some really great photos of the Munchkin and I. Many more than was needed for my project. And so I’ve decided to share some of them with you and to say;

“Hello, this is me. Nice to meet you”.

As well as; “Check out my greatest project of all time! Isn’t she adorable?!”

Nicola Pravato by Hayley Hay Photography

Because Munchkin is by far and away, my greatest creation/ project/ job.

She is a handful. Just like her father and I, she knows her own mind and makes sure we know it too. She is also gentle, generous and kind. I’m adoring the personality that is emerging every day and seeing just how excited she gets as she learns something new. Just last week she learned how to clap her hands and so clapped proudly whilst saying “Yaaaaay” for about a day and a half. She clapped even whilst crying!

Nicola Pravato by Hayley Hay Photography

I’m a firm believer in “Do it once. Do it well”. And I’m doing my utmost to do it well with Munchkin. We have our good and bad days, and I’m learning to go with the flow a lot more. My perfectionist self has had to learn to be happy with ‘Almost perfect’ and more often with ‘Good enough’. It has been a challenge.

Nicola Pravato by Hayley Hay Photography

Just minutes before we were to start this shoot, my daughter decorated her outfit so badly it had to be changed entirely. And it was washing day. So she end up wearing a t-shirt, baby Converse and spotty tights in this shoot instead of the pretty dress I’d planned. I was a little disappointed. But after seeing the end result, I’m so glad! They show every gorgeous little squishy baby roll and her beautifully chubby belly. She’s thinning out a little now as she’s starting to move around a bit more.

Nicola Pravato by Hayley Hay Photography

This beautiful little one has taken all of my days and a fair number of my nights. Any any spare time I’ve had, I’ve been making but haven’t had time to blog.

It was starting to get to me. I hated seeing the blog stagnant. Even though I told myself it was only ‘maternity leave’, I seriously considered giving up next to nicx. Being an expat and not having easy access to family had meant that I’d not had time alone to work etc. I couldn’t see a way to make it work.

But a couple of my friends and my husband gave me a serious taking to, I’ve decided to keep it going. And I saw a need for a little me time as I’d started to feel like I was losing myself. Consequently, we’ve made some lifestyle adjustments. My husband comes home early a couple of nights so I can get in a swim/ workout and we now have a sitter come to look after Munchkin a couple of half days a week so I can get back to ‘work’. Munchkin has made a new friend, and I’ve finally got time to bake/ blog/ make and create!

It has the added benefit of making me feel a whole heap better and therefore, I’m a much better mother.

Nicola Pravato by Hayley Hay Photography

Good news! This means that the blog is going to get busier than it has been. All those half finished projects are starting to be completed and photographed. And I’ve a whole heap of new ones. So you should start to see a craft/ GF baking blog post every week or so. And I’ve a list of splendiferous things I’ve found whilst wandering around this new world inhabited by little Munchkins, I’ll share a few of those with you too.

Nicola Pravato by Hayley Hay Photography

Thanks for following next to nicx and for being patient all these months!
So see you next week; right now I’ve a tiny skirt and post to finish!



All images in this post are Copyright to Hayley Hay Photography