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Christmas time…


Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, Yuletide  carols being sung by a choir, and folks dressed up like Eskimos… this is my vision of Christmas, growing up I loved to listen to Nat King Cole sing this song on our record player… we always had Christmas with family ate a huge roast turkey dinner, with Brussels sprouts (which I hated by the way… what was I thinking), drank snowballs, a treat as it contained a little alcohol… shhh don’t tell anyone, and opened presents all day long, or at least that is what it felt like back then.

 Now I’m an adult I love the tradition of Christmas but I also love to be different, a few years ago we took our family to Florida and California for Christmas, oh how magical it was… there is nothing like Christmas Day in Disneyland, Christmas music blasting out everywhere you go, decorations like you can only imagine and children running around in pure delight… I haven’t mentioned the torrential rain, the sea of ponchos and the crowds, because I didn’t see any of that… it was pure magic in my eyes and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Boxing Day was much slower, sunshine, swimming and drinking cocktails in an adirondack chair in Downtown Disney with Silver Bells being sang away in the distance… my brother could never quite see the vision of a Christmas not spent at home, but to me Christmas is exactly what you make it whether at home or away… I’m hoping his Christmas cruise this year will let him see my vision of A magical Christmas no matter where you are.


Santa Monica Pier, CA … Christmas 2005


Disneyland, Anaheim CA… Christmas Day 2005

This year was much more traditional for us… a few years ago we decided that we would put names of all the older members of our family in a jar, this included Paul and I, my Mum and Dad too this year… each person only bought for the name that came out of the jar, and we set a budget to spend too, this didn’t include Blu, Mabel and of course Florrie and Tate, they still got presents from everyone.  It gets harder and harder each year to think of presents for everyone, we all buy everything we need all year, life is so much more different from when I was growing up, we all have phones, laptops, clothes, toys that we just buy all year, so how do we make it special for that person we are buying gifts for… well the name in the jar gives you the opportunity to really think about that person, I must admit I was not very good this year but Jordan who pulled ‘Mom’ out of the jar really thought about what I might like, we had a little Antique shopping afternoon, he walked silently with me and just observed all the things I touched and loved… I was so delighted with his gifts he really put thought into each one… Kit Kats and mini Twix bars, because he knows they are my favorite, natural face wipes and Lush complexion soap, all natural just the way I like it, then my favorite and Florries too an old typewriter, taking me straight back to my childhood… he then gave me a card with money in it, just in case I didn’t like anything… well guess what Jord, your gift was so thoughtful, I love it… thank you ❤️

I am not usually a fan of going to the shops on Christmas Day, those poor people that have to work instead of being home with their families, but I was naughty this year, I’ve been running around so much organizing the day an hour in Starbucks with just my Mum seemed the perfect way to wind down before the festivities began, so that is exactly what we did…

Of course I can’t be too traditional, so I added a spin on the food… with our Thanksgiving feast just a few weeks ago I decided to change things up for Christmas… an Aussie style BBQ for breakfast, eggs, sauasages and warm bread, of course there was some smoked salmon too, then later in the day we had a gigantic charcuterie board, baked ham and fresh cooked dill butter salmon, cheesecake, mince pies and lots of chocolate… all of my favorite things… and as it turned out everyone else’s too!


After presents were opened, food was eaten we drank the best mulled wine I have ever had, made by Jord courtesy of Jamie Oliver and everything was cleared away, we opened the game Dom had bought us all… there is nothing like a good game of Cranium to inspire the creativity in you, or not in my case… we drew, acted, thought a little and drank more alcohol, ate more chocolate but mostly we just spent time with each other… peace, love ❤️ and happiness.

Photographic diary

The making of a Christmas card…

Well the forecast is COLD COLD COLD next week as the polar artic blast is set to freeze our socks off… but the weather has been very mild up until now, so mild in fact that we even managed a Fall trip to the beach…

The beach… that is when I decided I needed a mini Christmas card photo session… I love to be non-traditional at this time of year, I love the idea of cards set in something you would not necessarily think of as Christmas, with a little twist… so I planned outfits and simplistic prop and off we went…


It was so mild my children even decided to take a quick dip, I freaked out thinking the water would be freezing, but after a little investigation I agreed with them the water was very pleasant and kind of warm.  It was a good job I had packed several outfit changes as Tate was having so much fun at the waters edge he fell over flat on his face and got soaked… Mommy to the rescue, quick change into dry clothes before he got cold, then he was up and running around again.


I love the beach when it is quiet, the waves crashing in and the sand stretching for miles shining in the sunshine… I was expecting a very empty beach when we arrived but we were surprised to find a lot of people had had the same idea, and who could blame them, it’s not often you get a lovely day at the beach this near to Christmas… oh to live in a warm climate all year round near the beach… that’s what dreams are made of.


As I’ve got older I’ve learnt to appreciate the simple things in life… I’m in the process of decluttering my life and so with that in mind I wanted my card to be simple, no fancy Christmas colors, just shades of white to match the sand, sea and sky, a very simplistic prop was all I needed to highlight the time of year and it was done. (Gorgeous dress by Mini Boden and the cutest boys clothes by ZARA)

Now I consider myself to be very lucky to have two of the very best models around, they love the beach so I just let them do their thing and snapped away, I think it came out pretty well considering my amateur photographer status.  

Some of you may ask ‘why are only two of your children on the card?’ Well the answer is simple, most of my children hate having their photos taken, Mabel said if she was around she would have loved to have been in the photo, but she is a social butterfly these days and so she was out with her friends on this day out at the beach… you have to take what you have been given and in this case I think I was very lucky to have these two beautiful babies let me take photographs of their day at the beach.


Happy Holidays xxx xx xxx

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‘Joy to the World…’

I always feel that this time of year is chaotic, the shops are full of crazy people filling their carts with anything and everything they can find, they spend as much money as they can on their loved ones… well my friends that used to be me, but not this year, I’m simplifying my life, I have set a limit for each child, all year they get things they need, I do not need to break my bank account to prove I love them with gifts and possessions, there are more important things in life like experiences, family time and love.


I want to teach my children about giving, not just about receiving, I want them to learn that this season is not just about what they want or need.  I don’t think anyone of my children actually need anything, they are loved, we live in a nice house that has running water, heat and a new kitchen (wink, wink), each one of them has a closet filled with clothes and we eat good healthy meals, most of the time, anyway.  In addition to all of the basics of life we have phones, iPads, computers and a lot of the luxuries in life many people just dream of… so I ask myself what can I really buy each of them that they don’t already have in one form or another…


What we do need from time to time is a vacation, not just a trip away but a vacation from just our day to day life, a day trip to the zoo, an hour in a coffee shop sipping a hot drink and just talking to each other, or even a longer stay in a new place, somewhere to rewind, relax and recharge… and all these things are really what Christmas should be about, not who spent the most money.


My plan this year is not to get stressed, my two younger children have been told Santa can only give five presents to each child, big or small, so Florrie wants a Baby Alive doll, Baby Alive diapers, a kitten… and then she struggles to think of anything else, Tate wants a Tonka cement truck, that is all… so really five gifts each is more than enough.  My teenage daughter’s list is the most difficult and the longest, trying to make her understand has proved the hardest, her list of four makeup products is $200 in itself, that’s without the rest of the list, usually I would stress myself out getting every item on her list but this year she has had to prioritize the things she wants most, and Blu is easy, computer games, a couple of items of clothes, even an IOU for future games that are coming out next year and he’s done.


As for my older children, well a few years ago we all decided to put names in a hat and just buy one larger gift for the name you pulled out, at first I was opposed to this but as time has gone on it has simplified my Christmas a little so I just have to think about Lewis this year, of course he is the most difficult to buy for, I just need a few hints… now if I can ignore everyone else asking me for ideas for their person it will be truly easier for me to concentrate on my one present I have to buy.

We will also be donating a gift this year at our local library, I feel we are truly blessed and there are so many people out there who are not as fortunate as our family… whatever your plans this Christmas, just remember the most important part of this festive time of year is spending time with your loved ones, not money, and if you can’t get that most wanted gift it really doesn’t matter, it will all be forgotten this time next year and they will want something else… just have FUN 🎄🎄🎄

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Thanksgiving begins…

Planning our Thanksgiving… as a person who moved over to the US nearly 10 years ago, which believe me seems unbelievable, we were happy to adopt Thanksgiving as our own family tradition too, and now with our own two little Americans we celebrate it for them as well as for us.


I love my slow cooker, it is a must have appliance in my kitchen, for soups, casseroles and just cooking a joint of meat, I use it all the time and it is a Thanksgiving must have for all sorts of dishes.  This year I am going to make a warm soup to start of our meal, I want to use cozy Fall flavors, so I’m thinking a light Jamie Oliver cauliflower and coconut soup, cauliflower is a super food in our house at the moment, we are having cauliflower rice as a replacement for carb laden additions to meals and I just love anything with coconut added, so it seemed a perfect choice to add warmth and is sure to give me leftovers for the next few days.

My family are all huge ham lovers, so ham it is, with a little turkey on the side… I do not like handling meat so I will buy a pre-prepared turkey breast.  My plan this year is to cook the meats on the grill outside, it doesn’t matter the weather, snow, hail, rain I plan to fire up that grill, I had enough practice over the summer months cooking everything on the grill, without a kitchen, so it should be fun, and of course less mess in my new oven 😃

I’m a huge cheat when it comes to the potatoes for dinner, Costco do a fantastic tray of the lightest most buttery mashed potato, they even have a tray of sweet potatoes too, and they are both organic always a plus, 8 minutes in the microwave, stir, another 8 minutes in the microwave then stir again… serve, easy peasy. As for the other veggies, they have yet to be decided, it could even be a nice big warm Fall salad, one of my favorite meals when the weather turns chilly.


I will be making another Jamie Oliver recipe Gluten free cornbread, American style, I have become a huge fan of cornbread since moving over here, it’s easy and quick to make, you can add in anything you like for flavor and it all cooks in my cast iron skillets, making it perfect with soups, casseroles and my Thanksgiving  feast.

As for the stuffing and gravy it’s a must, I am a fan of making my own fresh stuffing but my children like the boxed kind, oh well it’s easy, so who am I to argue too much, but the gravy is always homemade, I will be using my own bone broth, and gluten free thickener this year so it should be interesting. 


I have been asked to make a salted caramel apple pie again this year for desert, so who am I to refuse, I’ll cheat a little again with buying a store bought crust and jarred caramel sauce, although both are easy to make, it’s just easier but the apples and crisp/crumble topping will be organic and homemade… perfection!


Finally Black Friday sandwiches have become a tradition in our house, many, many years ago we visited Portsmouth in England for a little shopping trip, right in the center of the Mall was a little stand that had roast meats perfected, they served them in warm bread topped with stuffing and homemade gravy, it was on that day many years before we moved to the US that the Black Friday leftover sandwich was invented, we just didn’t know it back then.  We have been having this sandwich on Black Friday ever since our first Thanksgiving over here, it is more important in our house than the dinner that precedes it, so I always have to make sure there will be enough leftovers which in our house can be difficult. These days this leftover sandwich is all over Food Network at this time of year, but I like to think I invented it way back when many years ago in the little sea town of Portsmouth in England… well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The Black Friday Sandwich my way…

Take all the leftovers, stuffing, meats and mashed potatoes, minus the veggies, drizzle with the gravy and place in a foil baking pan, for ease and no washing up, heat in a 400f oven for 20 to 25 minutes.  In the meantime cut your French baguette in half, ciabatta is also good for this too, once the leftovers are heated place it piled high into the bread, wrap each loaf with foil and put it back into the oven for another 10 minutes… take it out unwrap it, cut into wedges, wrap each wedge of sandwich in kitchen roll, good for handling and cleaning your hands after you’ve eaten, again no clearing up and serve with bowls of the warm gravy (sorry this will be your only washing up)… ENJOY 😋

Have a fantastic Thanksgiving and crazy Black Friday (remember Black Friday is Friday not Thursday, give those poor people who work in retail a break and let them have time at home with their loved ones) ✨

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Anything your heart desires 💟

I cannot believe it has taken me so long to get my self organized, I’m not fully there yet, but I’m getting there.  Yesterday was the first time in a very long time that I got to sit down in a reasonably clean and tidy house and watch tv, I caught up on the show Welcome back Potter, Tate slept on my lap, Florrie was playing at her friends house across the garden from us, Paul was working and everyone else was out… peace and quiet time just for me… that is exactly what getting myself organized is all about.


I have realized I am just not happy and contented in disorganized chaos, I have no time as I’m always feeling there is something to do, which there normally is, but right now I’m content to look at toys sitting there as I know it’s a five minute job to clear it up, I’m happy to do my laundry as I’m so organized there is only a tiny pile, washed, dried and put away each day.  I have a lot to still do, but I can feel my house slowly returning to my true self.


My biggest problem is training my older children, shoes and clothes left anywhere and everywhere, food remnants scraped from their plates left in the sink… am I being too picky here? they are putting their plates in the dishwasher after all, but the clothes and shoes drive me crazy.  Florrie has discovered she likes things tidy and is my biggest helper, she loves emptying the dishwasher and knows exactly where everything goes, she loves cleaning, sweeping and mopping the floors, she could teach my older children a thing or two.


Anyway, the point of my story, enough of this rambling… I’m so organized this year I’ve actually organized my Christmas cards, they were ordered, printed and have arrived and it’s not even the middle of November yet, now this may seem pretty normal to all my organized friends out there, but to me it’s just so impressive, I am giving myself a huge pat on the back for this one… now all I’ve got to do is address the envelopes and mail them in good time for Christmas… fingers crossed I can get this done on my new organized schedule 🎅 

I think when all is said and done we can all change who we are, who we have been our whole lives it just takes a little work and belief in yourself that you can do it… I’ve even managed to fit in yoga and meditation into my busy schedule, I love it and hope I can continue the way things are right now.

Have faith, peace and love in your life and you can achieve anything your heart desires 💟

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Schedules, organization and new found happiness.

Over the years I’ve come to realize that it is not only the food we eat that is poisoned with chemicals, the the products we clean our house with is even worse… cleaning and tidying our house is a hazard breathing in the fumes from the cleaning products we have to use, in recent years I have switched over to more natural cleaners, laundry detergent and dishwashing products, Target is my favorite place to buy these products they have a great selection and I definitely feel better not breathing in all those chemicals found in conventional cleaners.

It has taken me a lot of years to find a cleaning schedule that works for me, I’ve always been a huge do all your housework in one day person, but I end up grumpy, exhausted and dislike everyone around me as I’ve scrubbed everything all in one day and it’s their fault. I’ve  never been very good at organizing and decluttering my life, but right now I seem to have hit on a system that works for me… decluttering is part of the schedule, the less cluttered a space is the easier and quicker it is to clean, freeing my time up for other things… always the best side of life.

I have read several articles about decluttering your life in 30 days, 365 days, but my system just requires decluttering in the normal course of my cleaning routine, so far I have cleaned up both bathrooms, Florries bedroom, our bedroom, the kitchen, our entryway and our front living room, next stop the closets… do I love it? do I really need it? Keep it or toss?

I do not proclaim to be perfect, of course there will always be things I can’t live without, but changing the way I think is changing our lives, I’ve struggled for the past couple of years in our house, I felt I just couldn’t get on top of our mess, I would go out rather than stay in and face the mess, but finally I’m sorting my life out, I’m meditating, fitting yoga into my schedule, organizing  with my household schedules and getting the hang of teaching my little ones myself.


So here is a glimpse at my week, before the fun starts…

Everyday tasks…

Wipe down the countertops

Wipe down the kitchen sink

Sweep the floors

Take out the trash

Do the laundry… being a large family means clothes need washing every day
Once a week tasks…

Wipe down the appliances MONDAY

Scrub the toilets showers and sinks TUESDAY

Clean the mirrors WEDNESDAY

Dust the furniture and shelving WEDNESDAY

Change the bed linens THURSDAY … two beds every week, this may seem like I only wash my bedding every 10 weeks, but I only wash 3 1/2 beds at the moment.

Vacuum carpets rugs and upholstery THURSDAY… IROBOT ON EVERY DAY

Mop the floors FRIDAY

Clean and check fridge for expired items FRIDAY

Grocery  shopping  FRIDAY
I have always been a huge menu planner, you have to be with a large family… now I am taking this approach to running my house, plan, plan, plan, this may not work for everyone but right now it really is working for me and I feel so much happier, of course I always have my little or slightly bigger saboteurs, but now I feel armed with the knowledge how to combat this And it seems to be working so far.

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Change…

I struggle with change, I know change is inevitable but it’s hard to put in the work change brings with it.  I look back at my older children, life was so much easier when they were little, their problems were easier to deal with, when they were hungry, when they  were arguing with their siblings over a toy, when they were tired, now as adults themselves I sometimes find myself wishing they were younger again.

I always struggle with change of seasons, it’s hard to know what to wear, I’m always struggling at the beginning of every season to know what I wore the last time the weather changed to hot or cold.  I LOVE my boots in fact my closet is full of boots, short ones, tall ones, brown ones, not so brown ones, but I always try to hang on to the last of summer at this time of the year, clinging desperately to my Birkenstock sandals one last day before it really gets too cold for my toes to take the chilly weather.  This year is no different, when is it too cold to wear my beloved BIRKS?


Sometimes we become complacent in our lives, it’s so easy for me to get back into bed after B and M leave the house at 6.30am, I lay in with my babies, but this usually leads to me not getting things done, I’m always chasing the minutes of the day to get things done… and because of this I have not managed to do any yoga for months, there is never enough time in each day, so this is where my new changes will come into play… it’s time to get my life in order and organized!

I have saved an article on Pinterest, that got me thinking, How to clean a home, I needed a plan of action, so lists are my new organized self best friend, I have devised lists for everything that needs doing in my life.  I have a schedule for each day including homeschooling, yoga and meditation, all very important things in my life.  I have used this article to devise a plan for the house, now the kitchen is almost finished it’s time to clean this place up and shake up these children who have an easy life living here.  I will keep you updated on my progress with keeping to a schedule weekly, monthly and seasonally… I am really hoping this will give me more free time, my crochet hooks are missing me.


I am already a big menu planner, it’s the only way to survive with a large family, I plan, make lists and shop weekly,  this works for me and my family really well, I use an organic produce delivery company every week, adjusting my order to my menu plan  and then shop one day a week for everything else, with my new organized pantry space, putting everything away is a breeze these days, I also have a list in my iPad for things I run out of, so I can look at these if I am shopping easily on my phone.  I also do my laundry daily, I alternate with darks and lights daily, I add in a whites wash and towels and bedding when needed, it keeps the laundry pile down and makes folding much easier when it’s done daily.


I am hoping organization will give me some time back into my life… fingers crossed ✨