Creating A Hygge Holiday At Home

What’s wrong with being at home?

Hubby and I have been on holidays now for a week and a half – we talked about going away but in the end we thought about the expense and the opportunity we were giving up to get on top of the house. So we decided to stay home, hang out with friends and family, and do a few things around our house.

We’ve cleaned up the spare room, that somehow became a dumping ground again, sorted the garage ready for council clean up next month, and took a load to the tip, cleaned up the back patio, gave the house a general clean and rearranged out living room in the process of decluttering and really opened the space up. Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t spend the whole time working, hubby has been fishing, I have had shopping days planned with friends, and most of all I have enjoyed some time at home.

My Favourite Spaces of Our Home

I think creating a space for yourself in your home is a really important task we all need to think about. I have long been a home-body, but I can’t be in the house if it’s cluttered, messy or untidy. So creating a space for relaxing was high on my priority list, not just for me but a space hubby and I can both relax in. I actually have three spot in the house I like to be in, depending on the weather and what I plan to be doing, but what I like most of all is to get a sense of space and not to feel closed in.

My favourite spot in the morning is on the front balcony, it’s in the shade, there’s a nice breeze because it’s up off the ground and it has a lovely view of the nearby mountains as we are on a hill in one of the tallest houses in our little cul-de-sac. I like to sit out here with a coffee in the mornings and a book/kindle/ipad to read.

The other outdoor space I like is the back patio, last year we paid a builder to put a roof over it so we could use it in all weather, it still has a view, although not as much as we get out the front, but it’s been a great space for BBQ’s, to sit and hang out in the breeze in the afternoon when it’s too bright on the balcony, and it’s comfortable and inviting since we have an outdoor lounge, it’s just a nice spot to get outside.

My third spot is where I find I spend most of winter. Our lounge room. We live in a relatively small house so we don’t have a great big living room, it works out about 4metres x 7metres and has to be our lounge room and keyboard storage area/space, where I also do yoga etc.

What We Did to Improve Our Space

Entry way:

Our entry way is a difficult place to decorate and something we are still working on as we think about what we want it to look like, and the feel we are trying to achieve as we

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This is our photo wall and shoe rack entrance looking into the dining/kitchen

first walk in. But, the first thing you see as you enter our front door is a steep stair case, dark wood stairs and dark bricks on the walls, I would love to lighten the floors one day but we just don’t have the money to take something like that on just yet. Instead we have left that small tiled landing at the bottom of the stairs and attempted to decorate the hall/walkway at the top. Straight ahead at the top of the stairs is a hallway to the kitchen on the left and the lounge room straight ahead, however if you turn left just as you get to the top we have created a homely space with photo shelves, a shoe rack and in the window frames leading to the dining room we have a hanging fern. (Plants are something I would like to add more of, but finding the right ones when you have cats has proven to be more difficult than I would have thought.) I must say we are happy with it so far, but would like to add some more colour with plants, but we also like the practical nature of it too. Having also fixed our shoe issues.

Kitchen:

I have been doing my best to deal with our kitchen and dining space. It has always been

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We already have lovely ambient light from wall shades, but this felt like it added a little something

a hard space as the kitchen is quite small, and the cupboards are not designed well. So I decided to make the best of a bad situation for the moment and we have a plan to try and make improvements maybe later in the year – part of the financial priority list at some point. For now I have rearranged the kitchen, went from a smaller kitchen table to a larger one (that doesn’t suit our current decor or style but that I plan to paint it to make it match), this way we can still entertain, and use it to study while cooking dinner and as a family space. I have also tried to decorate it with gentle light light to make it feel cosy and homely.

Lounge Room:

We really opened up the lounge room to let more light in and to make it feel more open. We have a big modular lounge,

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We reconfigured the lounge placement which really opened the room up

and simply by re-arranging it I have managed to make the room feel bigger with more open space, instead of a “U” shape, it’s now a corner lounge to one side and a 2 seater straight lounge on the other side of the room, opening it right up. It’s amazing how much something seemingly simple has made such a difference. I also opened up the dated venetians so we can see the patio out of the big glass sliding doors, and it has also given the space a different feel again.

Outdoor Spaces:

We are slowly chipping away at our balcony and patio, we have added a few plants to the patio and some comfortable furniture to both spaces. The main goal was to create useful spaces for us to use, since our house is relatively small, it’s nice to have these other zones to spread out in and share with our friends and family.

Spare room:

We have 3 bedrooms and since we have no kids the first spare room is a “guest room”, with a bed, my pole for practicing pole dancing, and my sewing cabinet. It’s also the

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It’s quite a small room, but feels warm and cosy

room where we use most of the storage of the built-in wardrobe for hobby supplies. The third room is the room we had assumed we would keep for a baby, but until that happens and while I have uni this year, that will be the study. So we removed all the clutter, the Christmas trees and decorations are gone now, we tidied up the desk and culled some more books from the bookcase and we finally put the baby supplies we were given last year in a more convenient home in there and out of the garage. With the “for two” chair in there it now looks like a cosy study space, just need to file all our documents but I have at least culled them ready for the two of us to sit and create a system.

Ambiance:

I always loved candles, but we now have four cats and that can be a challenge and a risk, so instead we have opted for wax warmers (ours are from Scentsy but there are other brands and sellers out there), I like the homely scents. We go for apple and cinnamon, or berry pavlova around the main living spaces (lounge and kitchen/dining), and the citrus smells in the bathrooms.

We could also do with some more colour around the house, and less clutter, but we are chipping away at creating our “home” and have plenty of time to figure it all out.
The Benefits of Hygge
I have posted before about how hygge has really taken off, but I can see why. I have always bought furniture for our home that is comfortable and inviting, over something you would expect to see in a display home. Our lounge might be considered to bulky for the space we have, but I like how deep it is that I can lay and sit comfortably with whatever it is I am doing. I read an article last night about how you can create the holiday feel at home by decorating with furniture and homewares you would find in accomodation settings, but that doesn’t feel like home. We like our home to feel relaxing, comfortable and cosy. A place we look forward to relaxing in at the end of the day.

Simple things that make the house feel like a home:

  • Comfortable furniture – I find a lot of designer furniture look nice but not so nice to get comfortable on
  • Textures – I like having a throw rug nearby especially in winter for warmth, lots of cushions to prop ourselves into comfy positions and rugs that feel good under your bare feet
  • Photos and wall hangings – something that personalises the house
  • Smells – we like to burn melts to give the house a nice fragrance and open the house up (windows and sliding doors)
  • Light – lots of natural light

Home should be a place we want to go to, not the place we run away from. Hubby and I have recently talked about what kind of house we would like to see ourselves in for the future, but I really love our house, we both do, and if we can do all the things to it that we have been talking about I think we will really have created a “home” we can be in until we can no longer climb the stairs. At the end of the day a house is a house, I’m sure we could make any house feel like a home with the right dressing, but this was the house we fought so hard to buy when hubby just finished uni and the bank didn’t take his income into consideration ( not being permanent full-time and the difficulties in getting a loan these days), the house that we could easily pay off early, that we both loved and that was way under the budget the bank had offered to lend us. Is it ever really greener on the other side? We didn’t buy some big house as a token of our accomplishments, we wanted something that was ours, that no one could sell from under us, that had the potential to serve our needs and that we could make our own. Isn’t that all we really need?
We have really enjoyed our “holiday” from work this time around. While we didn’t go away, we have a sense of accomplishment, and had a comfortable rest in our favourite space where we didn’t have to live out of a suitcase, spend hours travelling, come home to a mountain of laundry or feel like we needed a holiday from our holiday before returning to work. It really was a lovely break from the usual hustle and bustle of work, and of what is involved in travel, we really got to spend some quality time together and relax in the space we created for ourselves.

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January: In Review – Making sustainable foundations

This post is later than I was expecting to post, but January is only just over, and we used it to set up a few foundations to build upon this year.

Since January is the first month of the year, I decided to implement some foundations, new routines and habits to build on this year.  Keeping in mind my main goal this year was to have more time, for socialising, quality time with my husband and to actually enjoying the house (keeping in mind I’m somewhat of a homebody), rather than working in it.

Diary/Organiser:

The biggest thing I have implemented is having a diary.  It makes things really easy for me, hubby would make plans at the same time we had other things on and so encouraging him to write social plans or doctors appointments in has really made a difference, especially if it’s something we want to go to together as we can make the appropriate requests at work.  I use it for our rosters as well, but we also have a roster app that we can enter our own rosters into and then share, to help coordinate appointments and plans we need to make with each other.  Additionally I have started to use the diary to plan the house tasks, meal planning, vacuuming and laundry.  It doesn’t just have to be for the budget while I really do use it for that too so I don’t miss things.

Meal Prepping and Planning:

Open Notebook and Fresh Vegetables Background. DietIn January I also bought a meal planning notepad from Kmart for $4 and using that to plan meals according to our work rosters.  The rosters are something I have no control over, so we have to prepare to manage meals without buying convenience food and spending more money while throwing out food we’ve bought at home because we weren’t here or didn’t have time to prepare and cook it.

In our house the meal planning realistically comes down to lunches and dinners.  I don’t eat breakfast, yes I know this isn’t recommended, I usually have a coffee and then a brunch anytime from 11am, whereas hubby can’t cope without a breaky.

Breakfasts:

  • Smoothies – for quick grab and go to prevent the drive through
  • Cereal – quick and easy
  • I like to keep oats in the pantry, for cooking in addition to a breakfast option – I like to put oats in the thermie though and I can prepare coffee or do a quick tidy up of the kitchen while it cooks

Lunches:

We are meant to be eating better and healthier, and lunches are the hardest parts in our house.  Hubby doesn’t like to have the same things every day so I had to have a think.

  • Salads – I had to have a think about what do put into them to make them filling as hubby worries salads aren’t filling enough
    • Additionally
  • Wraps – salad ingredients can be used on wraps and alternated to avoid boredom
  • Smoothies – these are mostly for me as I leave for work at 12 and I can drink it on the way
  • Bacon and Eggs – when we both have the day off at the same time we like to have a cook up brunch together
  • Soup – although it might seem odd during summer soup is a really healthy option and something you can freeze
  • Leftovers for work days

Dinners:

Evening meals need to be versatile for us as we spend a lot of our nights having dinner at work, I work afternoon shifts meaning I have dinner at work 9 days a fortnight, while hubby has around 5 a fortnight.  At the beginning of each week, or at the end of the week prior I look at our rosters, have a chat to hubby to see if he has any requests and make a plan accordingly.  I like to incorporate the thermomixes for convenience, hubby finds that and the pressure cooker really easy to use which means when he’s home for dinner and I’m not he can make something that leaves us with leftovers.

This week’s dinners:
While they aren’t that healthy, at least the rest of the week was and I’m planning to make a list of dinners as a go-to for variety.

  • Homemade Pizza – I made the dough and hubby did the toppings, something we consider a good dinner for when we are having dinner together
  • Creamy tomato and chorizo fettuccine – one of my favourite thermomix dinners and a sometimes food, but delicious and provides leftovers
  • Beef stew and dumplings – thermomix and again provides leftovers
  • Soup – I  like to have pumpkin soup and turkish toast at work

House Keeping Routine:

Other than food, the other main issue taking up our time and getting on top of us each get organisedweek is general day to day tasks around the house.  I feel as though because we don’t have a “routine” things get missed, and we spend the time we have trying to prepare for meals and other things like the laundry are struggling to keep up.

Because I have the regular roster, the “routine” part is going to be up to me, and I usually ask and allocate hubby days or times when he’s home to help.

House Keeping Plan/Routine:

  • Grocery shopping and meal prep Mondays – this is my regular day off and I can do a quick shop and prep at dinner time that night – usually planning and cooking two dinners at once to get a head-start
  • Laundry on mornings before work – ideally every second day to keep up and put washing away as soon as it comes off the rack (which is something we usually keep up with)
  • With 4 cats we need to vacuum regularly and since Monday is my “home-day” I usually do a really thorough vacuum then, but we whip around with the stick vac in between, something I need to do every second day also
  • General tidy each night before bed or before heading to work for an afternoon shift
  • Dishwasher – ensure it goes on after dinner (or whenever it’s full) and we usually unpack it either first thing in the morning or while dinner is cooking and prepare to repack as we go
  • Kitty litter at least second daily

While this all sounds very busy, the main thing that’s working this month is spending 30-60mins in the morning for maintenance.  A simple morning routine before work means I can get up at 9am, put on the washing, fold the old washing and put it away, unpack the dishwasher while I make my coffee, prep and start dinner, whip around with the stick vac, hang out the washing and by 10:30 I can sit on the balcony with a book and my coffee for an hr.  Leaving time for yoga in the living room, and a shower before work, or a visit to the gym on the way to work.

Exercise:

One of the big changes we wanted to make while trying to be healthier was exercise.  So we decided we should try and get to the gym, for a walk or whatever we decided to do at least every second day.  For me it means getting up by 9am, and alternating the exercise day with the house maintenance day, or even if it is a house day I can do some pole practice or yoga at home.  I have even recommenced pole dancing classes.

Social Plans:

Making plans with friends was more about having the time available and catching up with coffee, we have holidays coming up and have a family member coming to visit for the first week and a BBQ planned for the second week.

While this all looks like a lot of things to implement, when I usually say making small small changeschanges work the best and allow a routine to be more sustainable, a lot of tasks I was already doing last year. The problem was that I would either manage to keep the house really tidy and organised and meal planning failed, or I would hang out with friends and the house would completely fall apart, meaning I would go out more and rather not be in it or look at it until I had time to get it back.  Now I have created a routine, it really have been easier to juggle and coordinate not being home in the evening, and establish a healthier lifestyle that hopefully we can sustain this year.  Who knows it might even alleviate some of the stress too.

 

We have managed to create a plan to hopefully stay on top of for the year.  No big changes, just building on what we had.  Making sure we use the diary, plan, shop and prep meals according to the roster ahead, we made somewhat of a routine for the house tasks, getting in more exercise and even managed to fit plans in with family and friends.

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|Getting Organised| Laundry

I decided to start with the probably equal-most troublesome area of the house to keep organised. We really struggle with meal planning and keeping the kitchen under control, but lately we have really had trouble with the laundry.

Being shift workers makes any routine hard to follow, I try to plan meals in advance so I’m always organised a day or two in front, but when we get busy we really do fall behind on the washing. For us it’s more about getting the washing washed and hung out, we’re relatively vigilant with the packing away part. I finally decided we needed to find a way to get on top of the washing and stay on top of it, and not on top of the massive pile I felt like we had, so I utilised a post I found on facebook.

Kmart Mums Australia is a facebook group where women share “Kmart hacks” using Kmart products, and ask other women for reviews and inspiration. I was referred to it by a friend who found an awesome post about a food platter presentation for a party she was hosting, she then showed me some other things she had picked up and utilised around her house. I immediately loved some of the ideas I found on the page, and ever since I keep an eye on it and I have a todo list of things hubby and I would like to implement around the house. So I have to credit this laundry storage idea to this group.

Our laundry is really small, something that I would love to fix, but not high on the financial priority list right now. Our laundry pretty much houses a sink, our washing machine, dryer, kitty litter boxes, and had an old hand-me-down cane washing hamper. All our cleaning products were stored either on top of the dryer and swayed with the machines during a cycle, or stuffed inside the cupboard under the sink, while the hamper was like a black hole where things went to get lost and disappear.

Our washing system!

We had a basket in our room that was as tall as my hip, it ended up stuffed with washing and I was lucky to get through half of it, and often in order to sort it items were thrown into the cane one in the laundry to be forgotten. When we needed uniforms, gym gear, underwear etc or the basket was quite full we would try and get on top of it. I had never struggled with laundry before, when I lived alone I did all my washing on my first day off, or on the day before my day off so I could make the most of my weekend, but with two people I now have double the load. We needed a routine! For a household that actually doesn’t have a routine.

What I did:

I recalled seeing a post about a storage idea on facebook, I showed it to hubby and he thought it was a great idea so we went together to our local store and purchased a shelving unit, and three of the washing baskets I had read would fit on each shelf. He put it together and I sorted the washing accordingly.  I found two washing machine loads of towels had been hidden in that hamper, along with gym gear I had lost, socks, underwear and other clothes.

I sorted the washing onto 3 different baskets:

  • 1st = Priority items
  • 2nd = Non-priority items
  • 3rd = Special care items requiring to be washed in cold or on a gentle cycle or hand-washed (husband-proof)

I have been washing 1-2 loads a day to catch up and I’m almost there, the best part is that the laundry looks so much more organised, we have a shelf to store litter deodorisers and laundry detergent. Above all it actually looks bigger and tidier than it did before (even if a bit dated and daggy in the tiles), and, we can see the washing, I can see it growing and I can see when we’re catching up, so no more hidden items lost for months at a time. I’ve even found a spot for delicates bags too. Yes, I am a sad housewife who gets excited about the little things like an organised laundry and pantry. Sad, but true!

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Implementing the 2019 Revolution: January – The Month of Foundations

This post is a little late, I have been chipping away at it since late December, but life kept getting in the way.  So here it is!

My new years’ resolution this year was to have more balance.  Seemingly simple enough, but in a household with 4 cats, and 2 shift workers, although we don’t have any children, we have enough trouble with the basics.

Hubby is moving to a new area at work, which requires him to study, and I am planning to go back to university part-time to finish my masters’ degree while I continue to work full-time.  Therefore, being organised in our house is high on our priority list.  I had plans to catch up with friends and family more often this year, and make time for ourselves as we seem to either do one or the other.

I ordered a new diary for this year after having searched nearby shops unable to find new yrsomething I liked at the end of 2018.  I came across a website called Bullet Planner (I am in no way affiliated with them, I just really like this product), I found I could customise the cover and choose the style of the diary I had.  It includes an array of lists from Christmas presents, birthday presents and birth dates, to goals for the year.  It got me thinking about our goals and resolutions, and made me wonder if our idea of what we want the year to be like really looks the same at the end?  Does it look the same meaning nothing has changed or does it look the same as what we had envisioned?  This diary has made me think about my personal goals, the goals my husband and I have as a couple, the things we would like to change and the experiences we want to share.  It has given me ideas I never usually think about so early, seemingly a great start to being organised this year.

As I listed birthdays, health and fitness goals, and things we want to do around the house I realised I’m already making new years’ resolutions.  The trick to goals and achievement isn’t about the goal itself, but about the process you implement, the dedication and determination you have in making it a reality, and all the little things you do to chip away at it.  Don’t make them too big, unachievable, or expect that because you want to lose weight a diet will be sufficient.  Some goals are a daily challenge, but as I have just done with regards to my achievements last year, look back at your progress.  Do this goalsbefore you make new goals for this year, don’t focus on what you haven’t done, but rather on what you have done.  If you’re saving for something, what do you have?  It doesn’t matter if you haven’t saved the deposit for a house yet, that is a big commitment and takes longer for some than it does for others, but what progress have you made already?  Not only can you do this to see your path to progress but you can also look at this and ask “why didn’t that work”?  Use the past year to guide the new things you will attempt to create change with next year.  I like making a big laundry list of all the things I want to achieve, then look at it and plan them, prioritise the things you want to pay off, make a list of what you want to get done this year, next year and the year after.  This gives you a sense of control, hope, accomplishment, achievement and gratification.  It helps me to write about these things in a diary so I don’t have to bug my husband with it, and I still manage to get it off my chest.

My personal goals for this year are about taking time out for me, creating new habits which is something I talk about a lot but find it really hard to put into practice.

  • I want to make time to read for pleasure (something I have been really good at this year)
  • Have a regular yoga practice
  • Get back to a pole class
  • Spend some time journalling when I need to clear my head
  • Take the time out to organise my week – meal planning, cooking, grocery shopping (something I have been failing at for quite a while)
  • Set clear study boundaries (I am planning to finish my post graduate studies)
  • Save for something big – make a regular savings deposit each fortnight
  • Allocate tasks to share the load

 

I think it’s funny how as you get older and hit certain milestones your priorities change.  Life for us is about enjoyment, not collecting material possessions, but instead having financial freedom, enjoyable experiences and a sense of security.  All things we associate with a stress-free existence.  They become more realistic, and no more wishing we were retired millionaires!  Although, I may have bought a lottery ticket for the week, just incase.

I would like to lose weight like the rest of us, save money and be in less debt.  It seems to be the downfall of this generation, less exercise, more convenience food and spending money we don’t have yet.  The only way to rectify this is the make sustainable changes.  It’s easy to keep up the act while we see progress but how do you sustain it, that’s the real challenge.  I lost 42kgs about 6years ago, but the real challenge has been maintaining it, it’s a lifestyle change, the same as any other sustainable goal.  I hate to be that person that tries to sound upbeat, motivated and hopeful for the new year, but after looking at our achievements and progress last year, I can see some other things we could have accomplished and would like to attempt to make them a reality for the end of this year.

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Spring Cleaning – Why?!

I meant to make a spring cleaning post earlier, but somehow it got lost in all the Christmas preparations.

This spring I did my best to make my way through the house, but there are still a few areas in need to assistance, but I’ve decided I might have to leave them until I’m off for Christmas.

Why do we spring clean?  In our house, we use it to declutter, clean up and hopefully start the next year without the excess baggage.  Having said this, although spring is almost over I still have time to get through our garage, books and hopefully cull the kitchen pantry again (it’s the hardest part of our house to stay on top of).

Psychologists say we struggle with clutter, it makes us anxious, distracted and uneasy in our own environments, and I can concur.  Whenever I have been studying I couldn’t spirng clenaingfocus if the room was untidy, I kept looking around the house thinking if I clear that up, or I would clean up little bits instead of actually getting the work done, I even have trouble being in the house when it’s a mess – I find I have two options; clean it or get out until I can.  There’s a reason there’s such a minimalist movement going on these days, we feel comfortable in spaces where we have a trending concept called hygge – a Danish word used to describe a mood of comfiness, cosiness and wellbeing.  We buy homewares to make the house feel cosy and homely, and some of us are even going for a more minimalist look with basic furniture and decorative items to avoid clutter.

hyggeIn our house, we have managed to acquire the feeling of cosiness for the most part, but we still have more clutter than I would like.  I would love to rehome some items in our living room, some speakers we no longer want, and we have a pile of DVD’s we never watch that we have some kind of attachment to.  I also have a box of CD’s in one of our wardrobes that I haven’t used for several years now, as we have Spotify we no longer have the need to get them out, but I guess there is always that worry that one day we might not have those sorts of services anymore, then what will we do about the music we spent our money on?  I have similar issues in my wardrobe too.  I recently went through all of my clothes, threw aside things I no longer want for donation, and made a pile of things to go in the bin, and packed the rest away in some sort of order.  However, I found there were a few things I kept that I no longer wear, that I only wore once or twice that I spent a lot of money on that I would probably not wear again.  Why do we do this?  It’s only taking up space, like the CD’s, but why do we feel so attached to these possessions?

I have an aspiration to have each room without clutter, without things we don’t need or use, to look comfy and cosy, and without distractions.  It’s such a hard thing to do when we have so many decorative items requiring a space to be displayed on, but is there any point in storing dust collectors?  So far I have culled the two spare room wardrobes, I have culled my wardrobe (which could be culled further but I need someone to help me make a few decisions – sometimes a third party is necessary), I have culled our kitchen, sorted the linen cupboard, tidied the bathrooms and we bought new furniture to lighten the house a little, and make it look less dated.

spring cleaning sweep

On the to-do list:

  • Organise the files – this may be one of the easiest jobs I can do, and I will post on this later, there are so many things we have to keep, I feel as though our “expand-a-file” is not big enough as I have over a box full of things (which does include our resume/portfolios for work)
  • Cull clutter in the lounge room
  • Sort/cull/prioritise books
  • Sort the garage – we are holding onto a couch for family members in there, we have items from our wedding in there that I have been holding now for two years, it’s time to get rid of everything we no longer need in there
  • Prepare a space for the Christmas decorations to be stored – including suitable tubs to keep them in
  • Clean up the yard – this doesn’t entail much as we have such a small yard, but our patio could do with a clean, and the weeds need cutting on the strip of grass out the back

There’s nothing like going on holidays from work and starting the new year with a tidy surrounding, in time to start all our new years’ resolutions.  That’s right it’s almost time to start rehashing those again.

Although I would never have considered that we have a “spring cleaning routine” I guess just decluttering is it for us.  I think with all the hype around spring cleaning it’s a prompt or reminder to get it underway, and it gives us a good time period in which to do so.  If you can’t sort through the trouble areas in your house in 3 months, when can you?

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|Preparing for Christmas|

In accordance with one of my resolutions this year we have started working towards our Christmas shopping.  I am chipping away at our gifts this week since we’re buying most things online I decided it would be best to do that sooner rather than later.  I realise this isn’t possible for everyone, our plan had been to save a little each fortnight toward it and reduce stress when December came, but I’ve decided to sacrifice our disposable income this fortnight and just rip off the band-aid…  Something I’m aware not everyone can do, but if you set up a direct debit of $100 per month you would be surprised by the time you get to the silly season with $1200 to go towards presents, and food for the big day or days depending on your celebration style.  The gifts we’re buying for each other will have to wait until next fortnight but we pretty much already know what they be and still have the time for ordering online if need be.

Ideas for Presents

  • Catch of the day – they have great ideas for cheap stocking fillers, they have gimmicky presents, and they have cheap/discounted items to look at too.  So far I bought my husband a stocking filler, his birthday present (which is close to Christmas) and bought our nieces a trampoline that they have already received approximately 3-4 days after I ordered it.
  • Gift vouchers – while I always thought this idea was a tacky option because it shows little thought, it is good for experiences for people who have everything, they can xmas gift ideasbook the experience when it’s convenient for them and gives them something to do that they might not normally have the money to do but would love to do.  I am thinking for this year I might get my brother a voucher for dinner and a movie and a handmade voucher for child care for the night of their choice while I’m off work over the Christmas break
  • Ozsales – similar to catch of the day have some great sales and gift ideas
  • This is why I’m broke – is a website that has a lot of gimmicky items, great for finding secret Santa ideas, or for that quirky uncle or cousin
  • I find the traditional clothes and toys are easy to find at the department stores if that’s what you’re looking for, and if you have the time I would get in now and get it done, I am doing my best this year to avoid that Christmas madness of December and so far I’m on track
  • Don’t be afraid to buy joint presents for individual families’ kids.  As long as it’s appropriate I don’t see a problem with this.  We went halves with parents and bought a trampoline, and I’m thinking about the same for water play for my nephew and his step-siblings.  I think it’s something they will all enjoy this summer, it’s cost effective for me, and they will enjoy it. Of course, this will depend on the kids and how they get along I guess, but they will have so many other presents it might be a nice contrast.

 

Ideas to Prepare for the Big Day

  • Plan meals beforehand – my family has already made plans for the food part.  We are spending Christmas Eve with hubbies family and I have strict instructions for gingerbread, I think even a gingerbread house, but I think I will throw in some rumballs and find some other nice little finger food goodies recipes, I might even offer to make a dessert and take the Thermie with me.  With my family I have been asked to bring salads, so since I will be coming home Christmas Eve night (2.5hr drive), I will make sure I have the ingredients in the fridge before we go to hubbies family and get up early Christmas morning to prep it all and take it over.
  • Decorations – these are a big expense.  We have spent close to $900 this year.  Insane!!! I have 4 cats so that’s the biggest problem, we bought a tree and decorations then the cats killed it so when hubby was disappointed and angry at xmas prepthem, I decided to try a different plan and bought a “stick” tree with branches that sit a bit higher, they have already killed one of my decorations but we’ll see if the novelty wears off, all they can do to this one is knock it over.  We bought a few lawn ornaments this year, some extra lights and a projector.  But, my advice is chip away at it, it’s so easy to go overboard, and I love Christmas.  We are trying to decorate our house inside and outside (including a patio out the back, balcony out the front and the small grass strip we have next to our driveway.  We have made a plan that we will buy a few more things each year, and next year we won’t need new decorations for the tree because we now have a white and green option, but we usually go to Myer and get 1 or 2 tree ornaments, so that years in the future we will have a collection of quality options.  The same goes for our yard, we bought some lights last year, the projector and one set of lights this year, and 2 lit up solar reindeer.
    • Make sure you take advantage of the sales after Christmas (if you still have any money left after being through the experience of gift buying, meal prepping and decorating), I think this is the best way to get them but last year this wasn’t an option for us on one income.
  • If Christmas isn’t your thing and makes you stressed out and anxious about the rushing and expense, maybe downsize your plan.  We have downsized the gift buying as we prefer the atmosphere of Christmas rather than the materialistic side of it.  Maybe make a plan just to buy for the kids in your family, and the rest of you are happy just to get together and have a chilled relaxing day, after all, is that not what the holidays are all about.

 

In an effort to fight materialism and consumerism (as much as I feel like we sold out on xmas is comingthe decoration part) we are trying to downsize Christmas.  We are trying to make it more about spending some quality time with family and friends, and less about the present aspect.  Buying mainly for the kids and my husband and I for each other, we are trying to capture what Christmas really is, excitement for the kids and a chance to get together with loved ones.

“We don’t need boxes wrapped in strings, designer love and empty things”
Goo Goo Dolls – Better Days

We’re trying to remove the anxiety, stress and anarchy that comes with Christmas, between the shopping, the cooking and meeting the expectations of others we want to go back to a simpler time.  Christmas is getting bigger and bigger, dearer and dearer, and everyone complains about the sales starting earlier and earlier every year.  OF course, making Christmas simplistic isn’t only for those going to someone else’s house, you can ask everyone to bring something to chip in, work smarter at Christmas not harder.  Shop online if you can, decorate a little earlier, wrap presents as they arrive and organise everyone to have a job early.  And then ENJOY!

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Too Early for Christmas? Or Just In Time

I promise to do this every year, but this year I decided to get organised for Christmas early.  I know we all cringe about how early the decorations, gifts and food come out, but if they didn’t do this how would we prepare early?  How many of us say we will save throughout the year to make the financial side of it easier, but I have never managed to achieve this.  I decided this year, starting at the end of October I was going to start picking up a few decorative items for our house, and I have started purchasing items online.

keep calm xmasThis year, as with most years our Christmas celebrations aren’t going to be at our house.  We don’t even know what we’re going to be doing yet on Christmas Day as we’re still waiting on my husbands’ roster to come out, and I have requested the day off so hope that works out ok.  But, as we work through Christmas usually it’s nice to feel the festive season at home, I like to use lots of fairy lights, and little Christmassy nick knacks.  I LOVE Christmas and seem to have converted hubby, so this year he has requested a white Christmas theme, we both love the idea of a white tree as we never had one as kids so we have plans to do a white, winter Christmas theme.

So I wanted to make this post to point out that while I do not encourage the idea of Christmas consumerism all year round, I think we should stop complaining every year about how early it is, and use it as an opportunity to stop waiting until the last minute, and chip away at the purchases.  I know a lot of people go over the top with gifts, food and decorations, we enter the silly season the closer we get to the day, as we all know deadlines are the greatest motivators, and we end up with mad traffic and crowds at the shops that we all hate to participate in but that we feel is a necessary evil.  This year, or maybe even next year lets make a change that will hopefully improve our holidays.

  1. Have a discussion with your family about what your Christmas will be this year (ie xmas is comingours is a white Christmas, we buy for the kids in hubbies family, and for couples and kids in mine since I have a small family)
  2. Make a list of the people you need to buy for, add stocking fillers, and think about food – can you delegate food if you’re hosting, or can you take a plate to share if you’re going to someone’s house
  3. Start researching online shopping now!  I have realised there are a lot of “cheap” (under $15 and under $50) items on catch of the day that would make great stocking fillers or things for people who you don’t really know what to buy for.  You could do the same with groupon, ebay…  Whatever you can think of.  Buy a few things each fortnight, decorations and even start planning menus and trialling things if you need to, you can take things to work to get feedback.

There are a heap of apps and checklists out there, but if you make a gift list, a to-do list and decoration list you can start chipping away at things now.  Online shopping will get busier as time goes on, so try and make those purchases sooner rather than later.  Most importantly try not to make Christmas bigger and better each year.  Keep it simple and it will feel better anyway.  Take advantage of the Christmas displays as they are released, it will really help.  I feel like a whole new theme this year will be expensive, but shop around, there are lots of bargains to be had, you can get lights online, from discount shops, lots of decorations from kmart, it’s such a disposable world these days, but we keep our decorations in “themed” boxes and rotate them each year.  The biggest challenge for us is going to be how to keep the cats out of the tree.

We can all leave the consumerism behind, repurpose, reuse, and simplify.  Make this Christmas one you can enjoy, take a moment to slow down and enjoy the process, instead of entering the rat race in December.  Besides, I like to decorate our house on the first of December and enjoy the atmosphere.

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