Sunday, 29 December 2013

A post-Christmas clear-out

After the long exciting build up to Christmas, it takes a mere couple of hours before the living room is a sea of opened presents and with young children, there are often lots of new toys needing a home. I'm honestly not neurotic about tidiness or anything but I do like some sense of order and like to try to avoid as much clutter as possible.

This year, on Boxing Day, I set to and launched into a significant reorganisation of the children's toys. I packed away some toys they haven't been playing with recently / have grown out of, I emptied the deep toy box which had become an unknown abyss of small toys and instead packed it with games and bags of blocks. I sorted through the toy box in their bedroom and when nobody was looking threw away all the plastic rubbish they've kept from party bags or magazine freebies that are half-broken anyway.

At the end of it, I had plenty of space for the new toys, everything was better ordered and easier to find and I felt much better for it! I showed both children what I'd done and where I had moved things so they could find what they needed and we had two boxes of toys to put up in the loft.  In the past, I was always good about rotating the toys so we didn't have everything out all the time. Of late, I have got lazy about it though and it was something I was meaning to address.

Following on from the clear-out and reorganisation of the children's toys, came the clear-out for my husband and I. We sorted through our amassing paperwork and recycled, filed or otherwise dealt with all those papers we had been ignoring over recent weeks. Another good job done!

I'm not done yet but doing a bit at a time is my method. One small project a day is a big achievement! I've got children's clothes that they have grown out of to pack away to make more space in their wardrobes and my husband and I probably have some clothing we could take to the charity shop that we won't or don't wear any more.

It feels good to finish the year off with a sort-out ready to embark on the new year with a sense of tidiness and space, without feeling overcrowded by clutter or daunted by impending organisational tasks to tackle.

Do you also tend to have a post-Christmas clear-out? Is it a natural response to dealing with all the new 'stuff' you have, to want to sort through the old and see if there is anything you can get rid of, pack away or pass on? If you haven't done it yet, do you have some clearing out projects in mind that you are planning on doing in the new year?
Related reading:
Get Kids' Clutter Under Control
Breathe some new life into old toys
photo credit

Monday, 23 December 2013

Merry Christmas from Mummy Zen!

Wishing my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Enjoy the magic of Christmas along with your children. Laugh, play and share time together as a family. Take some time to relax, if and when the opportunity arises, and make the most of the holidays and time off from the daily routine. Take pleasure in the little things, reflect on the year that has almost passed and look forward to the opportunities that may lie ahead in the year to come!
photo credit

Saturday, 21 December 2013

A vegetarian Christmas dinner

As a vegetarian I often get asked what I eat for Christmas dinner, in place of the turkey that is traditional here in the UK. Most people assume I'll be eating nut roast, isn't that what every vegetarian eats?! Maybe for that very reason, I never have nut roast for Christmas dinner. My mother always made an effort creating something a bit different yet seasonal for our vegetarian Christmas main and it was always an attractive centrepiece on the table too. I don't remember ever having just a plain old nut roast for Christmas growing up.

The years we do spend Christmas at home, as we are this year, I like to take the opportunity to try something new. I enjoy looking through recipes finding something that sounds tasty and a bit more special than what we might eat any other day of the year. With all the great foodie websites, recipe blogs and such like that are available online, it's even easier to find culinary inspiration. The difficulty is choosing just one dish to go for!

In the past few days I have been looking around for ideas for Christmas dinner this year and narrowed it down to these three recipes, which my husband and I thought all sounded rather yummy:

A nut-free roast!
Lentil and cashew nut roast - a nice alternative to the traditional nut roast
Christmas veggie wellington - like the sound of the unusual choice of filling ingredients

What do you have for your Christmas main, if it's not turkey? Do you cater for any special diets that means you have to get creative in the kitchen? Do you like the same dish each Christmas or like me, do you like to vary the main dish from year to year?
photo credit

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Christmas is coming!

December has been a busy month for me so far, with my eldest's birthday party, preparations for his school nativity (sorting out his costume, practising his lines) and trying to get Christmas cards and presents organised for our extended family abroad.

I had all these intentions of making a Christmas wreath for our front door, sharing a recipe with you for some Italian Christmas cookies I like to make and gift and there have been other posts that I started but I never found time to finish. Finally I had to give in and write this one instead, focusing on the excitement of the festive season and the preparations I have managed so far!

We got our Christmas tree at the weekend and it's the biggest one we have ever had, about seven feet tall! As we are often away staying with family at Christmas we tend to get a smallish one as we are not here to enjoy it for long. This year however, we are staying at home and are excited to be doing so. It's our first Christmas in a house (we previously lived in flats/apartments) and there's something fun about coming down the stairs on Christmas morning and having nice fireplaces over which to hang our stockings and imagine Father Christmas making his entrance!

Whilst I did not get around to making a wreath, I did make some simple garlands to tie to our stair bainsters. I got some small Christmas tree branches, cut some Holly with berries from our garden and added in some dried orange slices and cinnamon sticks. I used bright red ribbon to tie them to the banisters and they make a nice decoration in our hallway.

Our eldest child has been able to write in some Christmas cards this year and write a letter to Santa for the first time so that has been sweet to see him do. Our youngest was very helpful distributing the tree ornaments for us all to hang. Once school is finished at the end of the week, we'll do some simple Christmas crafts and baking together. I think we are about done with our Christmas shopping so can enjoy the lead up by making the most of the festive spirit and having some nice family time together too.

How are your Christmas preparations going? Are there any new traditions or fun activities you have started this year that you haven't done previously? What are you most looking forward to about Christmas time?
photo credit

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Considering core values

My son's school distributed a list of core values to parents recently, asking us to circle the five that mean the most to us. The whole school will be focusing on core values for living in the coming months and they wanted our input in choosing which might be the most important. It sounded like an easy task but as we read through the list, my husband and I found choosing just five was harder than we expected.

We all have an idea of values that are important to us, and as parents, in raising a family in the best way possible but I thought I would share the list we were given as something you may wish to briefly contemplate. It can be a useful exercise to select your top five values and a good starting point for further discussion with your partner.

Which five from the list do you think you would choose? Are there any other values you think are missing that are important to you?

Hard work
Sustainable living