Sunday, 30 December 2012

The unexpected blesssings of babies!

 Dejunked our second car, again!

We have 2 cars. Which is definitely at odds with a minamilist family living in London!

One car is used by my husband to drive to the office when he is working in the UK as public transport links are poor and its too far to cycle.

The other car was a joint purchase made with my dad when J was born over 9 years ago. At the time it got a lot of use. We didn't live in an area with such good access to facilities etc.  Since moving to a more central location over 6 years ago its usage has declined.  We are able to cycle to most places locally. I gave it back to my dad over 6 years ago but when we moved to our current house 2 years ago it came back to us as we had more driveway space to store it. I was happy to get rid of it, but my dad was been keen to hang onto it, mainly for trips to the tip and occasional holidays.

Now that my sister is having a baby it is going to a new home on her drive! Her car is a small three door which she can sell and put the money towards baby things. It has low mileage and has been well maintained so a good lowcost option for her.

I am looking forward to having one car again, no more paying for its maintenance!

I hate punctures!

J has had 7 punctures in the last month so we got him some puncture resistant tyres!   Especially as I won't have a car to fall back on. I had resisted as quite an expensive outlay.

There is nothing quite so infuriating as rushing out the door to school to be confronted with a flat tyre! 

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Unsubscribe me please!

After reading the post titled Five Minutes for Simplicity from the blog Be More with Less I took action today!

We receive minimal mailings and don't subscribe to many catalogues as most information and products can be found on-line.  Recently we are receiving sales flyers daily from a variety of sources. We must have got on a mailing list.

So I registered at mailing preference service to stop unwanted mail on my doormat.

The same happens with emails. Lots of products being offered that we don't want, so I am unsubscribing before deleting them.


A friend bought me underwear for Christmas. She did the same last year and its a lovely thought.  This year she also included a running headband.  I couldn't return it without the receipt which wasn't included. After thanking her she offered to change it.  I generally have no problems returning or donating unwanted gifts but struggled with this as she is so kind.  Today I told her that I wouldn't use the headband and that the underwear is a generous enough gift.  She was lovely about it and I gave it back to her so she can get a refund.  She was still keen to get me something else so we negotiated that a sezchuan chicken wrap at the gym after training will suffice. They do a good deal on two wraps and we often split the bill!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Holiday Dejunking continues!

Toy Story Woody Doll to a new home! New owner asked if I had Jessie and Bullseye too!

Toy Cars mobile phone to charity shop.

Toy story Laser gun in the bin as broken! I dont want to fix it!

School uniform Polo shirt to fabric recycling when I realised how shrunken and grey it was compared to a box fresh new one!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Lazy Fish Corkscrew

Fifteen years ago a lazy fish corkscrew was a must have on my wedding gift list. Over the last ten years I have barely drunk any alcohol so he is a bit redundant! I re-homed him to the cafe/bar at our gym. The lovely staff were pleased to have him replace their basic one.  A few other bits pulled out of kitchen drawers went to the charity shop.

We are embracing photographing the boys artwork and creations etc this holiday.  I made a folder on the computer and they seem happy with the idea that we can recycle things but still remember them.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Boxing Day

Fab to have some time at home to chill out today.  We took it in turns to go for an early morning run. Enjoyed pottering round the kitchen doing school book cover homework, playing with Lego, cleaning out some kitchen drawers etc.

Found a corkscrew and a cheesecake slice which are likely to find more use in another home via the charity shop.  Also a pac a mac which is too large for R now. He tried it on to wear running in the rain yesterday. The gym is closed on Christmas day so desperate measures were called for! A damaged coaster that went in the bin and some kids paperwork for recycling.

Enjoyed bowling with my brother and his wife in the afternoon.  Although didn't enjoy cycling home in torrential rain, D lucked out cadging a lift with my brother!

Christmas Day

The boys were very pleased with their Lego creators and D has made his into all 3 dinosaur options already! We went to the holy communion service at our local church. A very different kind of service compared to what we are used to but we increasingly feel that we should be doing church in our local community.  The vicar and his wife and the congregation have made us feel very welcome during our recent visits.

We enjoyed a Wallington family style Christmas dinner of turkey, sweet potato mash, carrots, broccoli and mange tout. We had a scoop of ice cream and a freshly baked cookie for pudding.

We enjoyed a walk in Richmond park in the afternoon, dodging the large puddles!  We came home to prepare tea for the rest of my family who all arrived at 5pm looking green around the gills after over indulging at lunch time.  We were looking forward to a smoked salmon sandwich after an early morning run and a 2 hour afternoon walk!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christingel Service

We went to our local church again to a cristingal service.  We all enjoyed making them.  We got to bring home left over marshmallows and made smores for pudding!

Carols by Candlelight part 2, 3 and 4!

Went to carol service at St Richards, the local church round the corner from our house.  It was held in the adjacent school hall as the heating had broken down!  I was surprised that we were the only family there, the congregation consisting of mainly older people.  The vicar and his wife were friendly and seemed encouraged that we offered to support them in a monthly family service.  We were treated very well as a lovely afternoon tea was served which we all enjoyed, the boys hoovered up a large amount of crisps!

Later J and I went along to join other neighbours carol singing in our street too before I then headed out to St Paul's Contemporary Carol Service with Carols around the piano.  I must admit to laughing at the following joke.
A wife asked her husband to get her something to make her look beautiful and sexy.  She was expecting some lingerie, he got her an exercise bike!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas Holidays Begin!

So lovely to get to the end of the school term everyone is looking forward to a rest and recharge! Feeling in holiday mode I went to body combat class at the gym today, something I generally don't do as slap bang in the middle of Saturday morning!

Enjoyed falafels and couscous for lunch, so yummy!

Intercepted some presents for us from family, duplicate and unwanted items.  After a chat all items are returned to the shop and other interested parties! I felt bad about the gesture and was concerned I would be regarded as being ungrateful but it was the opposite they felt bad that I had got upset! So all worked out well.  I am trying to keep on top of things at the moment with grandpa fading away.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Went to older sons school Carol Concert at All Saints Church in Kingston today.  When you listen to the lyrics of carols you realise how lovely they are. 

Walking in a winter wonderland

 (Dick Smith, Felix Bernard, 1934)

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
We're happy tonight,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

Gone away is the bluebird,
Here to stay is a new bird
He sings a love song,
As we go along,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

In the meadow we can build a snowman,
Then pretend that he is Parson Brown
He'll say: Are you married?
We'll say: No man,
But you can do the job
When you're in town.

Later on, we'll conspire,
As we dream by the fire
To face unafraid,
The plans that we've made,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

In the meadow we can build a snowman,
And pretend that he's a circus clown
We'll have lots of fun with mister snowman,
Until the other kids knock him down.

When it snows, ain't it thrilling,
Though your nose gets a chilling
We'll frolic and play, the Eskimo way,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

Walking in a winter wonderland,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

I think of my grandpa who is slipping away now as the blue bird and my friends new baby born 6 days ago as a new bird.

J sorted through some old school books and chose a few select pieces of work to put in a special folder.   We were able to recycle 3 text books.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

St Richard's School Carols by Candlelight

Went to the the cute sixties church around the corner from our house and attached to the local school I wish my children had started at.  A lovely feeling of community and intimacy at such a small school. A beautiful carol service by candleight.

Christmas Tree

We enjoy getting a real tree at Christmas time and decorating it.  Some of the tree decorations we have we bought as a newly married couple! We have some lovely tin angels, reindeer's and Santa's and some cute metal snowflakes. One year we got an artificial tree but it was promptly donated to school to use for their lucky tree stall at the following years Christmas fair!

R and J went to a local garden centre to buy a tree but returned empty handed as a little tree was £50!  We got one for £20 at a local green grocers, a bit more reasonable!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Christmas Carols by Candlelight

Went to my second carol service of the season at Saint Paul's Church on Kingston Hill.  It was absolutely beautiful and the choir sang very well.  I enjoyed a homemade mince pie afterwards too!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Christmas Unwrapped

We went to our first Christmas service today.  A friend came with her little boy too. My goal this Christmas is to go to as many different services as possible.  Today we went to Raynes Park Community Church & Stagecoach Carol Service.

RPCC and Stagecoach Merton Park, Mitcham and Tooting came together for a celebration carol concert entitled 'Christmas Unwrapped'.  There was a performance, carols, an Eastenders style nativity and the incredible RPCC brass band!
At the concert they raised money for Hope HIV,

Dejunked a favourite jigsaw to a friends little boy which we have outgrown. A beautiful wooden jigsaw made in England given to J on his first birthday depicting a busy street scene.

Read a new ebook by Leo Babauta and Courtney Carver titled Clutter Free, cost £1.93 from amazon.
A bit of a consolidation of material from their websites that I have read before but still a good refresher and a good read or a recommendation as an introduction to decluttering.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Nativity

We don't have many Christmas decorations but this little Nativity scene card cross stiched by my mum has survived a few Christmases!

Tis the season to be busy....

Being an advocate of simple living and minimalism makes life more straight forward most of the time. But at this time of year I still feel swept along with seasonal events.

We have minimal relatives in our family and even fewer who give gifts to our children.  However, yesterday a parcel arrived I took a peek and after discussion with my husband the items were offered to our church for redistribution. Church were thrilled with them. I tend to live by the rule that the quicker such items are removed from the house the better!  It is a lovely thought from said relatives but they see the children rarely, perhaps once every several years.  Best to move on with no guilty feelings as it serves no purpose.  I will also kindly ask them for no gifts next year.

I dejunked our Wii Fit balance board to school as they have a Wii.  We play on our Wii sometimes which we purchased second hand two years ago as the boys main Christmas present.  When D had his Dyspraxia diagnosis I was very upset and purchased the Wii fit element to go with the Wii.  I thought we would use it together to do balance exercises.  Well we haven't and he does balance exercises with his brilliant OT Eileen at Sensational Kids.

I find a good way to decide if something is unnecessary is to ask yourself if you would purchase it if it was broken or stolen etc.  Would it bother you if you never saw it again or indeed would it be a blessed relief!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

There is nothing that I need

I read Joshua's birthday post on his becoming minimalist website and this piece he wrote really jumped out at me.
"There is nothing that I need. Since becoming minimalist four years ago, my definition of need has changed dramatically. In fact, I rarely use the word… and cringe just a little bit when I hear others say it. Looking around my home this morning, I am reminded again that any use of that word in relation to my life is complete foolishness. With food in my kitchen, clean water in my cup, a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and a family who supports me, I am not in need. My wife claims I need some new black sandals because mine are starting to stink… but if that’s on the top of the list, I’m well-provided for. There is truly nothing that I need for my birthday."
Joshua Becker at

Its easy to get caught up in consumption because you "need" something which probably you could manage without.  Our definition of need has become warped as peoples access to finance has changed.  Made even worse at this time of year!

I am as guilty of this as anyone.  With the recent cold weather I reasoned that I needed a new pair of boots as my old ones were worn and holey.  I bought a new pair identical to my old ones (see previous post). They had increased in price significantly and I felt uncomfortable with the cost.  I hate to feel ripped off by big brands.  I have worn them a couple of times and realised that they don't fit despite being the same size and style as my old pair.  I have a blister on one heel and a crushed big toe on the other!  Hence, they are being returned and I will wear trainers which provide an altogether more comfortable and practical solution.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Food Waste

Food waste drives me bonkers. My boys clear their plates and don't leave food either.

We are aware of the glutenous and obese west while others in the world are going hungry.

We have minimal food waste in our house, mainly vegetable peelings which are composted.  As we live near to various supermarkets and independent food shops we are able to shop daily for fresh food and only buy what we need.

I even toast the boys crusts and butter the outsides then sandwiching them together as illustrated.  R then eats the cut out exteriors!

At this time of year its easy to go over the top with food, purchasing and consuming too much. Visit for some seasonal pointers.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Teacher Presents

We are big fans of making the people who teach our kids feel valued, loved and cared for.  This is one of the reasons why I am a Vice Chair on the school PSA, fundraisng so school can buy equipment outside of their budget.  Through social activities for the children including fireworks, cinema night, Christmas and summer fairs etc we have raised money for IT equipment, playground shade and apparatus recently.  We are a large school in an affluent area so are lucky that many parents can contribute.

In the summer each class collects money and teachers are presented with gift vouchers.  In the winter nothing is done so we give any member of staff who comes into contact with our boys a little something.  A chocolate Santa fits the bill and always goes down very well.  I will give at least 15.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Seasonal Sadness

The thing with sending Christmas cards is that you get to catch up on people's news.  My friend Barbara rang me on the weekend as she had received our Christmas card.

Barbara was the first midwife I worked with when I started my midwifery training.  She was my community midwife mentor and played a huge part in getting me through the three year course.  She looked after me when I had my first son J several years later and enabled me to have the home birth experience I wanted.  She was an inspiration with her running too, completing many races.

She has been talking about retirement for years now as work has become increasingly stressful.  I haven't seen her for two years because of her busy life with work and family etc.  In last year's Christmas card she promised to visit us in our new house when she retired!

As we talked I noticed her speech was slurred.  She told me she had a stroke 8 weeks earlier while out running with a friend.  The Air Ambulance picked her up from a field and she had spent 8 weeks in a stroke unit and had just come home.  She has limited use of her right arm so is unable to write.  She said the stroke was due to stress from work and her blood pressure had been very high.

R and I are on a mission to pay off our current mortgage within 10 years.  This will hopefully enable us to have the finances to be able to offer the boys the chance to go to university without accruing massive tuition fee debt.  There will still be living expenses to consider though. Despite this I am not tempted to work more hours.  I try to spend wisely and avoid unnecessary expenditure, excluding cups of tea at the gym with my mates, those conversations are life's essentials! 

I hope Barbara recovers and is able to enjoy her retirement and gets to do the cycling she and her husband had planned.  I hope her stroke doesn't hold her back - but I am afraid it might.  I am looking forward to visiting her soon when she feels well enough.

James with Barbara the morning he was born at home in a pool with Barbara's assistance!

James on his first birthday with Barbara

Its Snowing!

It has snowed a few flakes but melting by the time I went to take a picture!


A Maisy the mouse  crockery set featuring Maisy blowing out the candles on a birthday cake to my friends daughter.  It is her third birthday today so we added a tube of smarties.  She was thrilled!


Grilled Fish Tacos A Recipe from Womens Health Magazine, Summer 2012

Mango and Avocado Salsa

1 Avocado
1 Mango
1 small Red onion
Fresh Corriander
Lime Juice

Chop all the salsa ingredients finely and stir in the lime juice.
Serve in a wholeseed wrap with crunchy salad leaves
Add a pan fried tuna steak seasoned with piri piri seasoning broken into pieces.
Yum yum and very healthy.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Christmas Decorations

We decorated the stair Bannister with four felt festive figures that we bought as a kit from ELC for £5 and made, they include a:

Christmas Tree
Father Christmas

Monday, 3 December 2012


I bought this Playmobil Nativity set when J was newborn.  It comes out every year and has had the Three Kings and Camel and Father Christmas added over more recent years.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Christmas Cards

I do enjoy sending Christmas cards to close family and friends.  Being a christian I enjoy choosing ones with a certain theme! I saw these ones and thought they were very sweet.

My boys got the one box of christnas stuff out of the loft.  It contains a Playmobil Nativity that we take to school, a few christmas decorations we have collected over the years and christmas books that they enjoy reading at this time of year.  We went to the library today and got The Nativity Play a storybook by Nick Butterworth and Mick Inkpen.

Dejunked to church a cardboard Nativity book my boys have outgrown.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

The start of Advent

Pleased children!

Pleased mummy although distressed at the cost!

New Boots to replace 3 year old holey and worn boots!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

A full moon

Took a picture of a beautiful full moon on the way back from my run at 7am.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

A stitch in time...

Had a lovely lunch and catch up after the gym with a friend and work colleague.


2 mugs to school for the staffroom, cute design from the Queens Jubilee Tea Party in June but not used.

Rubber ducks dan wanted for his birthday but they are never played with at bath time.


Fixed: R's favourite gym shorts he ripped on the opposite pocket from last time!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Wardrobe dejunking continues!


A pair of indigo flare jeans
A denim mini skirt

Both barely worn and too big for me now

The girl I gave them too is a lovely Pilate's teacher with 3 girls! She was thrilled and said that she needed more jeans which is great. They have been sitting in a bag waiting to be re homed for a few weeks now, didn't fit my sister or my gym buddy so very pleased they have gone to a new home!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Dejunking with friends

A good friend texted me for dejunking help.  I was happy to oblige.

We focused mainly on her girls bedroom.  We sorted 4 bags of toys for charity and another 4 for landfill as items unsuitable for recycling or charity.

Hubby was a brilliant help doing jigsaws to check the pieces etc and looking after the children.  The kids all enjoyed playing together too.

This spurred us on to dejunk from our own house!

We found:

An immaculate blazer of my husbands, too big
A large white T shirt bought to be a roman tunic for a school history day
An Elmer story no one likes to read, was a gift
A mans tie 

All for the charity shop

I also gave my friend pink, purple and flesh coloured felt tip pens as not colours my boys like to use!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Christmas Presents

I am not anti Christmas just anti turning it into a retail festival.

Christmas is a lovely time to relax, reflect and enjoy either on your own or with friends and family if you wish.  It should not be about stress, to do lists and getting into debt.

We haven't bought gifts for family members for years now as everyone has all they need.  My two boys aged 9 and 6 will receive a few items but we will combine them so that they are received from the majority of family members.  Typically they will receive a new LEGO set they have chosen but not a Star Wars Death Star! A book and some chocolate etc.  Maybe a replacement of items wearing out which is currently their pack lunch boxes.

We typically have a relaxed day, with an early morning run, building a new lego set, going to church, enjoying a meal at home (with or without others), an afternoon walk, a christmas tea (with or without others) and a christmas TV special.  We enjoy lovely food but don't overindulge with alcohol or lots of high fat foods.

I enjoyed reading this article from financial Journalist Martin Lewis this week.

I also read a short book this week called retail therapy by Andy Hickford exploring consumerism.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Lost Property

Being a simple living and minimalist family we don't do duplicates of things except maybe pants and socks! We tend to have one of everything we need or wear.

When I collected D from school last week he was still wearing his PE tracksuit bottoms.  Despite D getting changed for PE in the classroom and leaving his school trousers on the back of his chair the school trousers were nowhere to be seen.  With frustration I left school as D has an OT appointment to get to.  I returned to school later to collect J from science club and went to the now deserted classroom to search for the trousers, but without success. His class teacher agreed to look and says that she has had everyone check their kit bags.  I have also sent an email to the year 2 parents with no replies.  I was feeling very cross that trousers can go missing from the back of a chair during changing.

The lost property situation at school is out of control.  There are always items of school uniform lying around indoors and outdoors.  School say that any labelled items are returned but this is yet to happen to me. Every item of my kids stuff has a sewn in or stuck on name tape.  We live in an affluent area where people have plenty of disposable income and children have multiples of clothing so parents don't realise, or care, when items go missing.

Following an email to school and conversations with staff, school have taken my thoughts on board and are going to implement a better approach to Lost Property which is brilliant.  I said that I was concerned that if items of clothing are left lying around it shows everyone, children, parents, staff and members of the public that we don't care for our belongings and it sets a terrible example.  It is very important to me that my children appreciate the need to care for things and the resources neeeded to make and buy them etc.

So despite the weather D is back in his school summer shorts until the trousers are found!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Working from home

Hubby worked from home yesterday so we had a quick lunch together in between his phone calls.

I cooked salmon fillets with stir fried peppers and quinoa

I made a marinade with a dash of soy sauce, ginger paste and olive oil for the salmon. I spread it on the top of the fillets and poached on a medium heat in the microwave for 5 minutes.

I stir fried a supermarket pack of mixed peppers, carrots, shredded green cabbage and beansprout.

I used a merchant gourmet pack of quinoa which cooks in 40 seconds.

A brilliant quick and balanced meal.

Once again half eaten before I remembered to photograph it!

Bin day today so last night hubby took the kitchen drawers out that we have in plinth space under the units and I hoovered the debris! I found Lego, marbles and bits of a card  game and a bit of dust!

These drawers are a brilliant use of space. Unfortunately they cant be fitted without disassembling the units as they fit on the unit legs before they are fitted but are worth keeping in mind if you are getting a new fitted kitchen soon.  I have them under most of the kitchen units and store skinny flat stuff like table mats, chopping boards, recipe books, food bags, cling film, foil, rolling pin, keys etc!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Grandpas Birthday Weekend

Took my boys to the Odeon cheap seats on Saturday to see the 2009 film The Nativity with Martin Freeman and Ashley Jensen.  J enjoyed it but D was a bit bored as it was a bit long for him.

Was my grandfathers 83rd birthday so we went to visit him in his care home.  J baked a cake, my gran was thrilled and grandpa did seem to enjoy eating a piece.  My gran thought that he recognised my hubby R which was sweet.

Was collection for shoebox Sunday at church so my boys both contributed a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child, there was quite a stack of them!

Cooked a new curry, aubergine and sweet potato tikka, R said it was very good.  Great to add a couple of portions to the freezer for the Christmas holiday period.

I also cooked a pear and ginger cobbler for pudding but forgot to take a photograph until we had all tucked in!

Went to Raynes Park Community Church evening service which is held once a month for prayer, worship and communion. I haven't been able to go for a while and it was great.  Had a great chat with a friend too and am looking forward to meeting up with her for coffee/munch and more chats and catch up soon.