If there’s one thing that these last two years have taught me, it’s that life is to be lived as though every day is special.

Towards the end of 2021, we spent a full month redecorating and reorganising every inch of our Culloden home. We painted our open-plan living/dining/kitchen area – one large room which leads out onto our patio and garden. From the patio doors we can see the trees of Culloden Woods behind our home, and beyond that lies the Battlefield.

After the painting and decorating was done, the reorganisation began and it was a mammoth task. We reorganised every cupboard, every drawer, every single space. It seemed to go on forever. It took several trips to local charity shops and the tip, we also gave some items to others who needed them more.

Every day I reorganised, I couldn’t wait to get started on the next space the following day. The house began to feel better and better, one step at a time, day after day. Now, I don’t even know how to put into words how wonderful the whole space feels around us.

Everything feels new, clean, decluttered, organised. We’re surrounded now only with greatly loved items which hold meaning for us. Our historic collection now holds pride of place. The energy in our home has a wonderful new vibrancy which is palpable and has passed on to our everyday activities too. We’re finding that we appreciate everything so much more.

As the decluttering began, we came face to face with so many things that we’d put aside ‘for best’. One of these items was a rather beautiful set of cutlery that we’d purchased from a local hardware store in the January sales back in 2014. Such a gorgeous design – sleek, sexy, beautiful to hold. We kept this cutlery boxed up ‘for best’ with the intention of using it only when guests came for dinner. Then when guests did come for dinner, we’d use our normal cutlery, because it seemed too much hassle to get the new set out of its box.

So, this beautiful set of cutlery remained hidden away for 7 years.

Not any more!

Our new cutlery took its rightful place in our cutlery drawer and now joins us for every meal. We began treating every element of our daily life as a ‘for best’ occasion and it feels absolutely wonderful.

The same happened with two beautiful wine glasses which were gifted to us by a friend some years ago – they have the words ‘Mr Nicholson’ engraved on one and ‘Mrs Nicholson’ on the other. Beneath our names is the word ‘love’, with kisses on either side. They too had remained boxed up to protect them, this time for 8 years! Not any more…

I wonder why it is that we wait ‘for best’ when every single day is the best day we have.

Some of the most precious and heart-warming items which found their way out of their protective boxes were gifts that Andy had bought for me in 2007 when he took me on holiday to Austria for a week. He drove me to all his favourite places, around the lakes and through the mountains. He cooked me breakfast outdoors, we walked in the Austrian woods and we finished our holiday with a very romantic weekend in Salzburg…

On the night we arrived in Austria, we had dinner at a cozy candlelit restaurant beside the Danube, then he drove me to his home in Laimbach am Ostrong in the Waldviertel – a sleepy, picture-box Austrian town, surrounded with snowy mountains. He carried my case inside and took it up to his bedroom. On his bed was a beautiful box, covered in cherubs. He said it was a gift for me and invited me to open it.  

Inside the cherub box there was an Austrian supermarket egg box for 10 eggs. Also inside was a square gold box. My first thought was “I wonder why he’s giving me a box of supermarket eggs”. Oh, little did I know…

Inside the egg box were ten magnificent hand-painted eggs. Each egg had two different butterflies on it, one either side. Holes were drilled into both ends of each egg and a ribbon threaded through with a bow on one end so they may be hung as ornaments. They are real eggs. That is unmistakeable.

Inside the gold box were five hand-crafted glass butterflies, each a different colour with various shades running through it.

The Austrian Glass Butterflies

Every one of these 15 items were hand-crafted, unique, delicate and so beautiful. He knew I loved butterflies and he couldn’t have chosen anything better for me.

Towards the end of our week’s adventure in Austria, he drove us to Salzburg for what was to be one of the most romantic weekends of my life.

Yes, I had butterflies. In both senses of the word.

We enjoyed a romantic dinner in a gorgeous little restaurant, evidently a building that was centuries old. The wall fittings and lights were black cast iron, the walls stone, all lit with candles. The wine was beautiful, the food outrageously good, but the company and his smile was quite extraordinary.

After dinner, he took my hand and we walked around Salzburg beneath the starry skies. There was a magical quality to the city at night. We stood on one of the city’s bridges, listening to the music of the Salzach River beneath us. Fortress Hohensalzburg sat high above the rooftops of the Baroque historical district, commanding 360 degree views over Mozart’s beautiful city. As we walked around Salzburg, he took me to a shop front called ‘Christmas in Salzburg’ where I caught my breath.

In front of me lay a sea of luxuriously painted eggs… hundreds and hundreds of them. This sea of eggs went back into the distance of the dark and closed shop as far as I could see. This is where Andy had chosen my 10 unique and beautiful eggs. There was no mistaking that! I had never seen anything like this before. You can see that shop here.

When we moved in together just a few weeks later, I felt the eggs and glass butterflies were so precious that I kept them in that Austrian egg box, inside the box painted with cherubs, for 14 whole years, peeking in just a couple of times a year to appreciate them.

Not any more!

A week ago, along with all the other items in our home which we had saved ‘for best’, I took the eggs and the glass butterflies out of their boxes and brought them out on permanent display. I had even purchased the vintage wire egg holder from an antique shop back in 2008 for the sole purpose of doing this, but for some reason I never got round to it. In fact, I used the egg holder for normal everyday eggs instead!

Nope… I don’t know why either…

After wrapping 20 string lights around the wire egg tree, I carefully placed the eggs into their new home. I left their ribbons hanging down into the base. I ran twine around the lowest section, then hung the glass butterflies from the twine so as not to damage the delicate glass hooks. It looks absolutely stunning lit up at night. In the daytime the colours shine brightly. I can’t stop looking at it, and every time I do, it I can feel my heart filling with joy and appreciation.

I’m never protecting items I love ‘for best’ any more. Instead, I am going to savour every morsel of them. The time to live and enjoy everything and everyone you love is right now. I never wish to hold regrets.

This will be a permanent butterfly tree in our home from here on in. It will serve as a daily reminder to feel appreciation (which it’s impossible not too when I look at it)… to be around nature and trees, to always remain creative, to know that I love and am loved…

And that every single day is a gift.
That’s why it’s called the present.  

Every moment in your life is ‘for best’. Make it so…  

2 Responses

  • Kat McDonald

    Love this story. You are totally right as you both are the best and your love is the best and an absolute inspiration to so many. Wishing you many blessings this Christmas and a very happy Hogmanay!

    • Aww, thank you for your lovely words Kat. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and Hogmanay too xxx


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