Having finished tongue and grooving the two walls near the back door I added a panel to lengthen the under stair so they ran parallel to the other side….
The panel is the side of the armoire that the mirrored door in the kitchen came from. You’ll notice the wood block underneath; this was left in the garage by the previous owner. I’ve used others that were there in the will be kitchen.
As the side of the armoire had a detailed piece that I didn’t want to lose and it didn’t quite reach the top the block served to raise it up to fill the gap. Well, almost.
I just marked on the wood the lowest point where it needed to meet the stairs and the highest. I cut along the line I drew between the two with my jigsaw.
As there was a wood strut where the stair panel ended I glued the two together and clamped them tight.
I carried on gluing tongue and groove to the brick wall under the stairs. I have another armoire door (don’t ask 😖) and I thought I could make a cupboard under the stairs using this.
It’s incredibly heavy. As I heaved it down the stairs the weight made me think about how to support it. Although I have heavy duty hinges I thought it would be a good idea to add a few rollers to the bottom too, just to be sure.
I measured the door and it came to just below the back of one of the stair treads. There’s an additional piece of wood that runs along the stair as it descends that juts out slightly. I ran two lengths of wood horizontally beneath that in line with where the door will stand.
I finished tongue and grooving the back and side of the space.
As I finished that days work I took a length of wood and glued it so it ran parallel to the base of the door. The wheels that needed to be screwed in where too wide to attach without doing this.
The mirrored door was a little too narrow so I added a panel to the side of the cupboard.
I left this part of the project at this stage to continue with the doorway. However, having found a bargain Henry II buffet, I used a lovely detailed piece from that to finish off the door.
You can see in the above picture that I’d originally painted the surrounding area white, but not the door. I wasn’t sure at that stage if I wanted to have it all white and thought a contrast might look nice. But I decided that painting all the section would help to unify the whole area in the end. This hasn’t got its fin coat yet, but you get the idea.
There’s lots more work to do, I’ll add another update soon.
I thought I’d focus this post not so much on the how to, but the what to use in terms of recycled items. It’s not only good for the environment in terms of less landfill, but saves money, time in terms of shopping trips, packaging, and fuel going to get/having delivered the resources.
I’ve always loved this style of French cane chairs…
Gorgeous isn’t it? So when I saw this on le Bon Coin I knew I wanted it. For 35€ it was a good price too, particularly as the style above is sold in the region of $1,500…
The fabric is obviously 🤢, but the frame is solid with no woodworm and the springs are strong. I checked this when I went to buy it, but the other thing I noticed was that the seat cushion filling is a little strange. It’s sort of….crispy 🤨. Not dirty, but it has a crispy kind of sound when you press it. Weird.
So straight away I knew that this would need to be replaced. That’s ok though. As many of you who follow the blog know I like to salvage as much as I can, so I actually have some feather pads and foam from furniture that is no longer wanted for various reasons. When I first started doing up old furniture I was shocked at just how expensive these items can be, so now any furniture that may have been just taken to the tip gets a good going over to see what can be kept in the attic until I can use it.
You can see that my chair and the one I like are different in shape, which I’m ok with, but the back rest is very different. It doesn’t have wings, but I wandered if behind the padding was more cane. When I got it home I started to look under the fabric and found this…
A solid wood frame, and some strange wadding. It also reeks of cat, yuck.
So there’s no lovely rattan back to reveal, so that’s going to have to be reupholstered in a similar style, but I wanted a more modern wadding. Under the seat pad it looks like this….
The wood itself I really like and, although I had intended to give the chair the whitewashed effect of the target chair, I started to think I’d actually like to keep it as it is. The one thing that gave me pause was the idea that I already had this ottoman….
which I thought would go really well with the chair. However it’s legs were painted white, so I needed to check out if if they could be made like the chair, or if the chair would need to be made like the ottoman. Either away I wanted to bring the chair more in line with this structure on the left, so that I can put the two together like the one on the right…
I knew I’d need to have a second pad on the top of the ottoman that will match that on the chair. So let’s get to work.
After removing the fabric and wadding at the back of the chair I could see those strong springs and this interior section which is still in good shape.
Here’s the front – I’ve yet to hoover off the remainder of the wadding. As I focus on recycling it’s obvious that this is something that can be maintained.
I had to unscrew the side arms to remove the material tucked in. It was hard going as it’s a well made piece.
I disconnected the two springs holding the material that he’d the seat pad above in place and removed it, splitting the worn material open to reveal this deteriorated sponge. I shook that out and washed the remaining material; this and the internal panel was kept. It might not be pretty, but is still strong fabric. So it needed to be washed and have foam placed on top to replace the interior foam. The frame and back were hoovered really well as it was mainly in good condition.
I then used some salvaged foam from a sofa bed that we aren’t going to be using in this home. I cut a foam seat pad in half before cutting it into the shape of the backrest. The second half was going to be used on the seat.
I used fabric glue spray to attach the foam to the seat back, and added fresh wadding from an unused throw cushion that I stapled into place with its interior lining.
The remainder of that sofa bed is going to be used on other projects, so I’ll keep you updated.
The rest of the chair was covered with this knew, lavender velvet material. I also added a new seat pad from the additional back cushions of the sofa bed….
Then for the ottoman.
I made another pad from the sofa bed cushion and sewed one side of a zip along its length. Then I sanded the legs and stained them with this stain and wax, left it two hours then buffed it into a shine.
I took material sufficient to cover the original ottoman and placed it on top of it. Then I put the new pad on top and pushed into both ends of the other side of the zip, then further pinned it along its length. Undoing the zip entirely, I then sewed the second half to the still loose material.
Reattaching the two sides of the zip to make sure the pad was placed correctly I stapled the material on the four sides of the ottoman with one staple each side. After removing the zip again I then stapled the fabric to the ottoman and covered the base in the contrasting fabric.
I’d already added grey piping to the pads, but now I finished the project with some gold, nail-head trim.
It has a very different feel to the target chair, but it goes very well with the room. My daughters love it. Its positioning in t window gives it a perfect place to read and dream 🥰.
I was been working hard on the kitchen, my youngest was off school with a cold, and then we had houseguests for a week (bliss). As a result this is a post that covers several weeks activity.
Here is what’s bought and done;
Christmas stocking presents for my girls
Just various things to paint with, notebooks, decorative hole punches, glitter, hair things….anything small really. These are bought, but not wrapped and, as we are on a two week school vacation, I won’t be able to do them until the children are back at school.
This is mainly because my girls know that mummy and daddy buy and wrap gifts for others, so if they were found whilst wrapped it wouldn’t be the end of the world. However if the wrapped Father Christmas gifts were found it would be a bit revealing. I have them wrapped in a different, more distinctive style – so it would kind of give the game away.
Make up gifts
My oldest girl is about to go to middle school, so I wanted something a bit more grown up for her. So I got her a little set of toiletries and some make up and brushes to play with, but only when she’s inside playing dress up (insert firm, Mum voice here).
For my younger daughter I got a light up unicorn that you decorate as a Little ‘un equivalent.
These have all been wrapped.
Lots of painting canvases and colouring books. These are my little presents and I’ve wrapped them.
Saint Nicholas gifts
Each year, as we’re, we celebrate the feast of Saint Nicholas on 6th December. I always give the girls a little gift from the Saint himself and this year I chose Christmas crafts, because I can keep them entertained between now and the big day.
These are wrapped too.
Along with the gifts they always get a large chocolate Father Christmas, with a large candy cane sellotaped to him as a crozier and some gold chocolate coins. These all represent the Saint himself and his works and have been bought and stored away.
Gifts for family and friends that are visiting but who live in Blighty.
These gifts have been bought, wrapped and gone home with them.
Christmas Cake made
Whilst our house guests were here we made our family Christmas cake recipe which includes chocolate and port. In fact we made two, one for them to take home. The whole house smelled of cinnamon. It was delicious.
I’m kind of feeling that the ‘early’ part of this title feels a bit redundant now. How are your festive preparations going?
We’re still at the stage of Christmas preparation were I am sure many people seeing this post are wondering why on Earth am I faffing around with this now. Yet with both my daughters birthdays in the next six weeks, along with house decorating on top of Christmas preparations I feel I need to keep adding to my list of things I’ve done.
To show how necessary it is for me, personally, to start well in advance I suddenly realised that there were a lot of names I’d missed off from the christmas cards I’d already written. I hadn’t written out either my friends or my husbands. They’re now done. I’m feeling strangely superior in spite of my constant failure to send cards over many years.
I’ve also chosen and sent a gift to my mother in law in the U.K. She’s a big Royalist and historian so the release of Earthshot as well Catherine’s Hold Still project prompted me to think that these would be good gifts for her.
My daughters and I have finished the bracelets they’re going to gift to their grandmothers and aunts. I like to get them to do something themselves to give relatives.
As there are two of them I don’t want them to make two bracelets per person, so I’ve done a little research on simple necklaces they could also make, and I’ll share these with you next week (when they’re done, hopefully).
I’ve wrapped the rare book bought my mother and added finishing touches to their parcels….
I’ve also bought and wrapped my youngest daughter’s birthday gifts. This has to be part of my Christmas prep.
The final thing I’ve done this week is decorate the bottles of sparkling wine I bought at the wine fair.
Are you starting early? What are your tips to get ready for Christmas?
For some reason I thought this was published, oops. So here’s my late 13 weeks to go post.
I’d said how part of my ‘to do’ list was decorating, and this week I’ve been laying the kitchen floor in the will be kitchen. I’m just about to finish it in preparation for the chimney to be swept next week. This has meant that some of the prettier list items haven’t been done. So here goes…
I’ve received delivery of the sparkling wine that I bought for the neighbours. I don’t gift bag them, just put pretty ribbons on and out they go.
I wrote this post in January 2020 on tips to get ready early for Christmas. I’d just had a wonderful, but stressful, Christmas and I didn’t want another one like that in December.
Now, I know you’re all side eyeing that date aren’t you.
Oh how different the world was then, huh? I remember watching this strange illness being reported in China and, as I wrote that post, reports from Italy were starting to become alarming. But who knew that a year and a half down the line we’d still be in this Covid dominated world?
I don’t know what Christmas will be like this year; will we be able to travel? For those of us who are expats that’s more concerning; nevertheless I don’t want to face what we faced last year.
My husband, who was desperate to keep some money rolling in, had gone to the U.K. to try and open a pop up shop. He was thwarted by constant changes in the restrictions and then there was uncertainty over whether he would make it home at all.
Those who follow the blog regularly know that I’m deeply involved in renovating our period, French home. I was desperately working late into December in the front hallway (exhausting, but worth it) as well as decorating the home for the holidays, buying gifts etc.
I was left, once again, on Christmas Eve wrapping last minute presents.
It’s got to the point that I dread Christmas. But this year, this year, that’s not going to happen. I’m using the thoughts from that previous post and making a plan of action to be organised this year.
For me that still involves decorating targets (definitely finish the kitchen, touches to the sitting room and hopefully the back hallway), as well as Christmas crafts along with the presents, cards etc.
So we have about 14 weeks to go and I’ve started to put my plan into action.
I thought, along with my usual diy and living in France posts, I’d start a weekly post on what I’ve done this week to prepare for the 25th. it keeps me on track and may inspire you.
So what I have done this week so far?
I went to lunch Sunday with my folks and brought my Christmas book with me. Time to go through the addresses and make sure they were all up to date, as well as adding any I may have overlooked.
I was in our local brocante and bought these beautiful oil paintings. I’d originally intended to give them to both my folks, along with some other little gifts; they don’t follow the blog so I’m free to post about them here.
I love this brocante so I’m planning on going in there during the next few weeks to get some wonderful Christmas presents.
Then during the week a little miracle happened. My mother has been searching for a childhood book for 30+ years. We found the author’s name, but the book was proving difficult to trace. You guessed it, I managed to find a copy. It’s been ordered an I’m waiting for it’s delivery. So excited.
I wrapped the paintings, obviously not the yet to be received book. I’ve also ordered some brown paper as I’m thinking of doing natural wrap from Father Christmas himself this year.
Start to outline a detailed plan
As my previous post suggests I’ve got an idea of what I’m going to do. However I still need to add to it. For me this includes my list of who I’m buying for, DIY plan, house cleaning plan etc.
Opening a list in notes that I intend to add to over the week has really helped. I’m slotting in activities that make sense for each week as targets. As I remember what I need to do I’m adding them to the list.
Bought extra decorations
I’d previously written about monitoring and thinking about what additional decorations you need, and I bought a few this week. Next time I buy something it will be exterior lights as I know these are needed from the previous year’s notes.
The gift list has not only got who I need to buy for, but I’ve grouped them into the kind of presents.
I buy for small, generic gifts for neighbours, our local store owners etc and these can be bought early on. I then have my family gifts that I’ll be spending a little more time and thought on, and my English family gifts. These will be bought on Black Friday using English sites so I can have them wrapped and delivered straight to them – unless something amazing comes up at the brocante in the meantime.
Talking about grouped together presents I always buy bottles of sparkling wine for our neighbours. Here in France the shops always have a foire de vin orwine faire. In our local market our faire is next week. As I’m already aware of Christmas buying I knew this would be a perfect opportunity, so I’ve preordered them.
I’ve started writing my Christmas cards. If I do a few a week I should be able to avoid hand cramps!
I sat with my daughter today putting wax seals on the envelopes. She loved it.
If you’re preparing early this year let me know in the comments below. We can share organising ideas ☺️.
I’m a bit of an odd mix; a former police officer, turned teacher, turned housewife. I think being at home with my children as they grow up, but also just making a home for my family, is the best gift Ive ever received. I know this isn’t for everyone and others go their own routes. However I find it really annoying when people talk down or dismiss those of us who turn to their family to fulfil themselves rather than a career.
I was inspired to think about my role as a mother and housewife recently by a story that came up on my twitter feed. You may have heard of it. In Australia a Brisbane mother was mocked because she posted this on line, in response to other mothers discussing how they get organised.
She was met with derision; but all I could think was ‘Wow, this woman is amazing.’
So why did the tv hosts see her as foolish? Brainwashed? Downtrodden?
Well I think it was partly because the idea of a malevolent patriarchy that pervades a lot of the culture resulted with the anchors failing to see that her husband was getting up at that time. In the conversation regarding the subject he was depicted as somehow enforcing this on his wife, and his efforts to provide for his family from the early hours in the morning, until late in the evening went unrecognised.
I find it bizarre that bosses and faceless corporate entities that are disparaged a good deal as being greedy and oppressive are suddenly seen as the liberator of women. Conversely husbands providing for their families are seen as the oppressor of women. It’s a bizarre inversion of what the majority of us experience as reality.
For me though, it was a challenge. Am I this giving? Do I have such dedication to my vocation? Returning to the work analogy, I haven’t given my husband the same amount of dedication and respect that I have to bosses that I wanted a promotion from. And I’ve had some awful bosses.
So I decided that for lent I’m going to offer up my vocation as a housewife as an offering to God, ask Him to bless it and bless me and my family in the process.
So I was wondering where I could go for some bullet point advise for what to model this behaviour on. Then I remembered the Good Wife Guide.
Why the Controversial Good Wife Guide?
For those of you who don’t know what this is, it’s a list of things a wife should do if she’s to exemplify the role, however the list is actually a fraud. Someone put it together to mock the stereotypical, 50s housewife. So why would I choose something that mocks what I do and use it as a basis to model my behaviour on?
When I first heard of it I was a lot younger and with a woman who identified herself as a feminist. She derided the line that recommends freshening yourself up prior to your husbands return home, particularly the line about putting a ribbon in your hair. She continued to poke fun at many other elements of the list. Two things struck me throughout this exchange.
Firstly, this was a woman who really wanted to get married. At the time my husband and I were engaged. She continued to behave with such venom and spite towards me throughout my husband and mine’s engagement and well past the wedding. The first year of marriage can be difficult, at least it was for us. She fanned the flames of every small dispute we had, to the point that it nearly burnt down our marriage. When I realised my role in this, and her role in encouraging me, and changed direction she was nasty. Demanding I annul my marriage! Really!
I knew it was based in jealousy. She had stood weeping outside of a gym class at the prospect of her next birthday and her boyfriends refusal to commit to marriage. She was scared that she was getting older and would find having children difficult. I’m British. We find public outbursts of emotion awkward. When I tried to calm her down as we were in a public setting she later chastised me for this. She chastised me for the earrings I bought her for her birthday. She belittled things that were connected to my core values.
Why do I bring all this up here? Her boyfriend was unwilling to commit to marriage because her moods were so erratic that it was making their homelife intolerable. She told me that he had been upset by her aggressive outbursts and when she said she was depressed (self diagnosis) he would try and encourage her to see a doctor. Her reason for telling me this was that she wanted me to agree with her assessment of him being in some way callously insensitive because he suggested this, that all he wanted to do was ‘fix her’. She spat these words out in a tone that condemned him for his insensitivity. All I could do is look on in silent horror as I simultaneously agreed with him whilst bracing myself for the inevitable onslaught as a result of my not favouring her. The friendship didn’t last much longer. What is the point of being a friend with someone who seems to genuinely dislike you and wants you marriage to fail, coupling all this with aggressive outbursts?
Before I continue I’d like to add that I’m no angel and my former friend was obviously very distressed. Her erratic behaviour was counterproductive to all the things she wanted, but I believe that she just couldn’t see that because she was so emerged in an ideology that coloured all the relationships around her, at the same time of poisoning them.
The other point I wanted to make was that as I read the list she showed me my immediate response wasn’t to mock it, but to think to myself that it sounded like good advice. This is the ironic thing about the Good Wife fraud. Some of the points are evidently there to vilify the traditional housewife; never question our husband, even if he stays out all night! It’s inclusions is evidence of the writers deeming women in the home as a subjugated and brainwashed. Men are, inevitably, cheaters and users. Why else would the hint of infidelity and the necessity to turn a blind eye to it? It is the facile argument of “don’t be a housewife, what if something happens and you’re left with nothing?”
Like those who would not just critique their home nation, but actively revile it, I believe that the writers of the parody couldn’t understand how to many women the Good Wife Guide is actually not offensive. So, with a certain amount of pleasure, I’m using the parody to identify what behaviour I can adopt in my own challenge.
Our marriage might be different to yours
Our marriage isn’t traditional in every sense; and I don’t think it has to be. My husband loves to cook. He will search recipes, perfect them, wonderfully present the food, watch tv shows to learn more – for him cooking is his way to unwind and express himself.
I love to decorate. I pin constantly on my account. My husband has joked our home is like my third child and that’s not entirely untrue. As he travels so much I don’t just sew and paint anymore, I’ve taken up using a power drill and even the circular saw. You see, my husband doesn’t like to decorate and it was either a choice of nagging him all the time to get lots done, or learning myself and then when I truly need his strength asking for it. That way he is still involved, but it’s not a chore and the work progresses at a speed to make me happy.
As a result my wifely vocation list reflects our marriage.
In addition my husband works from home, so evidently many of these points have to be adapted to our lifestyle.
What is the Good Wife’s Guide?
The text of the faux article is as follows:
Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.
Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.
Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.
Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dustcloth over the tables.
During the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.
Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.
Be happy to see him.
Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.
Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first – remember his topics of conversation are more important than yours.
Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.
Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.
Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie him down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.
Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.
Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.
A good wife always knows her place.
As I said previously, many of these aren’t shocking, their fairly normal. In any other work place, which if you’re a SAHM or a house wife the home is, this would be considered the norm!
My #tradwife version?
Warm welcomes; showing you’ve been thinking about someone and are concerned for their needs.
I’ve said this, but it bears repeating, just because I’m an advocate of the traditional housewife doesn’t mean to say that I think you have to rigorously conform to the 1950s ideal if there are good reasons to not do so. One of the reasons I want to do this is I want to give of myself and have a more harmonious domestic life.
My husband cooks. He loves to cook. He will happily fill his spare time searching for new recipes, perfecting them, presenting them beautifully. He says it destresses him. There have been occasions when he’s been driving us somewhere and he’s muttered “I should have added a little more water, that’s why it didn’t work” out of the blue. When I asked him what he was talking about it turns out he was thinking about why his stuffing hadn’t turned out perfectly the day before and it had slipped out. That’s how much he loves to cook.
Cooking is not my passion. I’ll do it, but I don’t love it. I love to decorate. For every time he’s scrolling on Pinterest for a recipe, I’m doing it for decor. When he’s reviewing his latest cooking extravagance on a journey, I’m thinking about how are house’s remodel is best going to work. You get the drift.
So why would we mould ourselves into behaviour that neither of us are satisfied with? If it was ironing, which we both hate, I’d be including it in this in a heartbeat. But if him doing the cooking and my doing the DIY gives us both joy then there’s little point in changing that.
So how do I honour my role as loving wife? As he travels a lot and works from home, when he’s here he does the cooking. I know for my husband that food means him expressing love for his family. So how can I express my love for him? I show him I appreciate it of course. When people come and he cooks I lay a nice table. But we don’t do this everyday. So I’m thinking that my version of this is to lay a beautiful table for each evening meal. It will also make evening meals more special, which is good because it’s also the time we share family news.
The other thing I can do is do the clearing up and tidying away afterwards without complaining. Particularly as my hubby is terrible at that. The cupboards are a minefield when he’s unloaded the dishwasher! I mona about his haphazard, dangerous stacking. So time for less moaning and more appreciating what he does.
I’m pretty sure the ‘put a ribbon in your hair’ was a deliberate way of communicating housewives were infantilised. When you watch old 30s, 40s and 50s movies they didn’t put ribbons in their hair. In fact girls became women at a lot younger age. They dressed as women and accepted responsibilities in their home life at a younger age too. We now live in an age where doing ‘grown up things’ isn’t a given to the extent young people jokinginly call it ‘adulting’.
But as with many mocked points in this faux guide, this is actually quite good advice. In my recent posts on the Kind Diet I talked about how my lack of contentment in the way I look and how making the decision to put make up on and do my hair nicely every day was making a change to the way I eat and think of myself. We get in ruts. Marriage and children can result in your losing a sense of yourself as a woman. And being a woman is essential to the role of wife.
As I said I’m the DIYer. I ask my husband for help on the heavy things that take more strength, but I’m the one who does these little jobs. I finish my cleaning in the morning and, if there are no errands to run, I do DIY in the afternoon. So for me it means showering (which I do anyway) and doing my make up and hair, putting on something nice and turning my mind to my family. Can you imagine doing this, preparing a beautiful table and then enjoying the home I’ve created and the food my husband’s cooked? Isn’t this a case of taking the time to smell the roses? To allow your husband to appreciate you and you him?
Being gay and interesting
Yet not just interesting, but interested.
I’ve had a terrible habit that started when my husband worked out of the house, and continues now when he’s working away. Even if it’s not the first thing we talk about, it’s at least the second – it’s problems. I’ve had a bad day with the kids. This bad thing has happened, that bad thing.
Obviously when something bad has just happened it’s good to turn to your husband for help and comfort; but are you seeking that or complaining? Ask him how his day went and then let him ask you how yours went. If you’ve had a stressful day with the kids how are you wording it? Is it all doom and gloom? Do you need to get some perspective on it? Can you tell him about it and laugh at the situation together – expressing your frustration, but not making it a crisis?
I also have a bad habit of talking about money. As I said I love to decorate, but my husband earns the money and pays the bills and I need to be more sensitive of that. When I talk about what I want to do I’m pretty sure he might just be hearing the money I want to spend!
You have to talk about money, but I’m choosing to give a night over a week to those conversations and keep the rest of our week free as much as i can from money worries. I’m intending to keep my time with my husband and family’s to enjoying them, there’s nothing my husband loves as much as engaging with his family. He’s a good man.
Clearing away the clutter
This was one point without the covert smarminess of the rest, but it makes sense right? Not only does it make for a better home environment, it enables the development of romance in an adult only space.
As hubby works form home this isn’t a ta da moment, but it’s important nevertheless. Especially as I’m a DIYer.
In terms of the children I keep a ‘quiet basket’ in the front room with colouring in and reading books. As they get in from school at 4.45 and we have dinner about 5, then bathtime at 6, with bed for my youngest at 6.30 then there is limited time for them to drag lots of toys out.
Here in France they have Wednesday, Saturday and Sundays off, this means getting them to tidy up before each mealtime, and a house walk through at 3.30. Just in time for my refresh at 4.00.
Creating a haven of rest and order
We don’t have a fire, but there are alternatives to creating a welcoming, relaxed space for you both to spend some adult time together. In winter months lighting lamps instead of overhead lights, and candles can create an inviting space. Although we don’t have a real fire we do have an Art Nouveau woodburner that’s just decorative now. I’ve filled it with fairy lights and it creates a wonderful atmosphere.
The point is to create an environment where the pressures of the day can feel a million miles away, so he can go back there refreshed the next day.
Again, irrelevant of how the writer of this faux piece intended this point, like so many of the others it’s a good point. This isn’t children being seen and not heard, it’s about creating a peaceful environment where all your family can relax before bed.
Your children need to know when it’s time to calm down so that they can prepare themselves for sleep. If they’re over excited that’s not going to happen any time soon; noisy, dramatic tv programmes, screen time, exciting games – this won’t help the bed time routine and won’t make for a peaceful evening for anyone,
We don’t have tv on school nights; their quiet basket, books, or calm activities like knitting or puzzles allow for a smooth transition between play and bedtime. Soft music playing in the background, or an audio book helps them and the household.
My husband, and myself, love our children. Nobody wants shouting matches before bed, so creating an environment for this helps everyone in the family.
Being happy to see him
As my husband works from home at first glance this can be a bit of a challenge. However when he works away there’s a wonderful opportunity to make him feel special. I must confess I’m in the habit of mainly handing the phone over straight to the children for facetime; it’s all connected with my lack of confidence of how I look. Why would he want to look at and talk to me? Genuinely, that’s how I feel sometimes. My poor husband really hasn’t done anything to encourage that thinking though.
So what if I took time to look nice for these phone calls? To text throughout the day as if we were still courting? We’re married nearly fifteen years now. How many bad habits have slipped in that undermine romance?
Warm smiles and being sincerely pleasing
I can be so snappy. Not just to my husband, but to my children as well. Soemtimes I here my daughter talking to her little sister and, to my shame, it’s an unintentional caricature of my voice. It doesn’t sound pleasant.
I can also begrudge the work I do in the home and get grumpy there’s not praise or people don’t appreciate it. It’s not wrong to say that people should be considerate of the work others do, nor is it wrong to think that people should notice the work of others and be thankful. However I don’t know if I always demonstrate the behaviour I want to receive. Again, this may be a faux list, but it’s not wrong.
Don’t greet him with complaints and problems
I’ve touched on this earlier, this is in response to the repetition of the Good Wife’s Guide. However it can bear repeating. I want to spend evenings with my husband in calm, peace and companionship. There are enough stresses. So setting an evening aside a week for joint problem solving unless there’s an urgent need for it. In the meantime we can enjoy our time together.
Understand work commitments
I’m going to re-quote the Good Wife Guide here;
Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.
The Good Wife Guide
Can you see how the author has subtlety stoked resentment. It’s the same technique the snake uses in the garden. It starts with a lie, God says you’re not allowed to eat any fruit in the garden. When Eve corrects him he lies, God says it because if you eat of this fruit you will know the difference between good and evil and you will become like gods.
In this they put the lie first, to really stoke that anger. Don’t complain if he stays out all night. Of course any reader of this is going to assume that the husband in this article is cheating, as the article is generalised it infers all men are cheaters. Those poor saps, those SAHMs, the housewives. This is another version of the “Dont be at home, what if he leaves you and your left with nothing?” lines.
The second way they stoke resentment is the author themselves infers that you’re work is viewed as lesser than a man’s. The majority of men who support their wives at home don’t think this. There are an awful lot of women and men who espouse equality who do – that tv show mocking that Brisbane mum was an example of that.
Let’s rewrite that line wihout the lie at the begining.
It’s difficult when your husband is late home for dinner and it may interrupt your plans. However notice how tired he is when he gets in from work. He’s doing this to provide for your family.
My husband has to travel all the time for work. There is always a side of me that feels like he has freedom when he’s away and I’m “left with the kids”. Apart from the fact that sounds so ungrateful in terms of being blessed with our children, it ignores the fact that he misses us all so much when he’s away. He may have some more freedom, it’s true. However he works hard for us, and I can often see the stress of a breadwinner on his face. He talks about it at times too, but not so much as he wants to protect me.
So for me the target is to let him know how I’ll miss him, to make sure he has plenty of opportunities for FaceTime with the kids, that I don’t nag how tough it’s been without him, but I let him know that I appreciate all he does.
FYI for those who agree with how hilarious the Good Wife Guide is, how men are the enemy; well he does this for me most of the time too.
Taking care of his comfort
Again, the enmity betwen a husband and wife is being stoked in the next part;
Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.
The Good Wife Guide
This conjures up images of a loving wife as some kind of harem maid doesn’t it? Whereas look at this 1950s film footage proposing how families, husbands and wives, should behave. Notice how everyone considers the needs of others.
So this links back to my first point, making mealtimes and extending into the evening a relaxed an contented environment.
Being his helpmate
Again, look how this is worded to undermine the housewife;
Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.
The Good Wife Guide
It’s almost a repeat of that tv programme mocking the Brisbane mum isn’t it, but presented as if it was the advice of the time. It’s a faux reality they’ve liberated us from – which means the liberation is fake too.
In reality if you’ve chosen wisely in your husband it’s because you respect him, not because you are compelled to. This doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions – and asking questions doesn’t mean you are judging him or his integrity. As women we see things differently to men, and sometimes us offering a helpful ear to our husbands to enable them to make good decisions.
Imagine the same writer offering advice on how to deal with a bosses decisions; would they recommend never offering opinions? Or would they recommend you offer opinions and then work as a team trying to create a positive outcome? Would they encourage you to ignore your bosses wishes? Suggest that he does so due to a lack of integrity, or your following his lead means you’re a lesser person?
Let’s face it, when you know this is a fake, you know that the design of the writer is to make you distrust men in general, and husbands in particular. You know they would never give sarcastic advice, designed to encourage you to undermine your boss and create an atmosphere of bitterness and hostility. They would encourage you to seek to work productively to showcase your talents and ensure a good outcome for the business as a whole.
So the advice here should be to listen, offer suggestions when asked for them, to work productively, politely point out areas where you can see that there may be trouble ahead that your husband may not have, to continue in your role so as to benefit the whole organisation (in this case the marriage and family). To do all of this is a pleasant manner. It’s not shocking in a workplace and it’s not shocking in a homelife. We all submit to someone.
Knowing your place
I know my place. It’s here, in my home. Raising my children. Making a warm and pleasant home. Loving my husband. Contributing to society by encouraging my children to be developed, well rounded people.
This is my outline of how I’m going to improve in this.
If you’ve felt tired throughout the season and as if it just passed you by please read on (and Pin this) – I’m going to share some ideas to help you have a wonderful Christmas next year. That is, one without the intensity of activity in the depths of winter. We could all do without that couldn’t we?
We had a wonderful Christmas and I hope you did too.
I’ve spoken about how weary I was in the build up to it this year. In fact since the arrival of our second child Christmas seems to be increasingly stressful. Of course our girls are worth it, they are so precious. But being an older mum my husband and I are the squeezed generation, with concerns for the young and older family members influencing our lives. Lord knows, we wouldn’t have it any other way, but in this scenario something has to give.
You know how I love to decorate, recycling and making as I go and, even though this gives us a wonderful, unique and ethical home. Nevertheless in stressful times I wonder if I spend too much time on it rather than the relationships between those withinit.
Despite my 12 posts of Christmas and the long term decorating plans they convey I’m determined this year to hang up my tool box in mid October and use my time more wisely. That is, spending time making pre Christmas memories with the family, rather than chasing them out of my way.
With that in mind I’ve also thought of ways to organise things throughout the year to make the Christmas period less stressful, allowing a joyful time with the family.
When you put away decorations make an Advent box
I started to do this because we have a wooden advent calendar,so it’s necessary to be able to reach it quickly at the start of December without having to break into boxes to find it. Now any advent decorations I put out, for example the nativity scene, I put it in the same box.
You can also keep last years Christmas cards, Christmas movies and music – anything you’ll need before you put the tree up. Lable the box so you can find it too and if you can stretch to it try and swap any cardboard boxes for large, stackable ones for ease and safety.
Box up decorations per room
I have my Christmas crockery, lights, advent box, evergreen boughs etc all in seperate, labelled plastic boxes. I do this because Christmas Decorations can be time consuming to put up, depending on how extensively you decorate the house.
Having separate boxes means you can do your advent decorations easily by breaking it down to manageable and enjoyable portions. Do just the tree, then the staircase, the dining room, guest rooms….you get the drift. If everything is in all together you have to get everything out and sort it, so the foreward planning is a sanity saver.
Make a decorations needed list in your Christmas book
Perhaps, like me, you have a nasty habit of scanning pinterest for Christmas decor inspiration and have thought to yourself “I’d have liked to have done that”; well now’s the time to make a note. For us it’s an exterior light in the shape of a deer. If you see one in the sale great, tick it off your list. However if you tend to pick a couple of things up each year prior to decorating your home you can become aware of any areas you want to highlight instead of grabbing the same type of tree decoration each year. This leads me to my next point…
Start shopping early, as early as the January sales
Christmas is expensive, even when you make a conscious effort to not make it too commercial. However if you have a little cash left over you can start to grab bargains specifically with next Christmas in mind. Wrapping paper and cards are often reduced, as are toiletry gift sets and other Christmas gifts packaged specifically for the season.
In terms of clothes you can tuck away next year’s size Christmas jumpers or pajamas for little ones.
If you’re careful the summer sales can also be a good hunting ground. As Christmas is in winter if you’re going to buy clothes for others it’s best that it’s something that can be worn all year round; a sumptuous shrug for evening wear (the majority of us ladies don’t want to show our upper arms), a pashmina scarf, a handbag. If you have loved ones that oscillate in the weight department (that would be me) accessories are great as long as their timeless.
One thing I’d be very cautious about buying is children’s presents; what they love one minute can be a bore in a year’s time.
Keep a Christmas book to record presents
If you’re shopping throughout the year keep a running list of what you’ve bought whom. I’ve no doubt you’ll be hiding things away and you don’t want to waste your budget by getting too many presents.
Wrap throughout the year
Although the idea of a glass of wine and presents to wrap with Christmas music in the background is a wonderful, romantic image, since my children it’s more a stressful mishmash of just getting the paper on. I think it’s because everything in life fits around them and our house refurbishment, so presents are bought late, inevitably my husband is working away the month before and you have to wait until they go to sleep until you can start. In the run up to Christmas they never want to go to sleep, so late nights for me.
So this year as I buy I’m going to wrap and put them somewhere safe. Hence the need for the Christmas book.
Think of making adults presents
Have you got to the stage yet where your family members are hinting that they just don’t want anything. Gift giving can become a round of just buying anything can’t it?
So maybe this year give gifts you’ve made. They don’t have to be baked goods, and therefore last minute added stress, but they can be something you make throughout the year too. A good example are my coasters that I made this year. My friends loved them and one of them I’ve promised to give a set to next year, but with the added personalisation of the 12 days of Christmas. She was married in the season and the song was her theme.
Make the Christmas pudding and cakes on a special day, but early in the year.
My girls birthdays are October and November respectively. For the last few years we’ve been too busy to make these, but this year I’m determined to do one or the other on their birthdays. Some wait until stir up Sunday, but Christmas cakes can be made way earlier than that due to their alcohol content.
Perhaps you want to make the first day of Autumn, or make them the last day of the half term holidays – pick an earlier date and put them away, ticking them of your to do list as you go. Think of making any extra ones as gifts too.
Flu jabs for older family members (encourage them to go) and cod liver oil capsules for everyone- keep colds and flu at bay.
Remember Black Friday
As November approaches make a point to note in your calendar when Black Friday is and get ready to shop at some discount prices. I must admit that for my family who live overseas I buy through Amazon on Black Friday and check the gift wrap box, having them sent early to them.
Write cards and stamp early November to send December 1st
When I was younger the decorations on early display in the shops always made me excited. I used to have all my gift buying finished by October and had my tree up early December. I’m more restrained (read busy) now, so I’ve stopped doing this as much.
However writing two or three cards from November onwards is a good way to stop yourself getting writers cramp. Write the addressee on the envelope, but not the address as there may be some last minute changes. You can stamp them early too and have them ready to go on the 1st December.
Send Christmas guests info for their stay
I’ve spoken about preparing for your guests to stay so they have minimal things to bring. I think it’s so important as this is a stressful time not only for those hosting, but those travelling long distances. Sending information ahead of time can help them – less stressed guests means less stressed hosts. I’m going to make a detailed post on this later in the year.
Clean and prepare Christmas guest rooms a week in advance
We have locks on our guest rooms specifically so we can do this without our little one getting in and destroying everything she sees. I might have to run a duster over the room later, but cleaning and preparing it early means that you’re confident you can welcome guests as you’d like.
Allocate decorating jobs to family members
Whether it’s the external light display, or boughs of greenery over mantles giving decorating tasks to family members allows you to share the pleasure as well as alleviate stress. If you follow the earlier advice of separating your boxes of decorations out, they can decorate a room each themselves.
Have Christmas task for kids to focus them for the nice list
If you talk about the naughty and nice list having tasks helps your children to focus positively on what to do to make sure they make the grade. Inevitably and more importantly this will ensure they’re contributing to the giving of Christmas by their fulfilling tasks that contribute to the whole.
Christmas doesn’t just happen. It takes a lot of time to think about the organisation of it, the needs of individuals and their desires too. Everyone has their part to play in that even though some people play a greater role.
Additionally by taking part in the work of the preparation they have an understanding of what others have done for them. If it all happens by magic don’t be surprised when they become demanding and take it for granted. That doesn’t mean to say that the special magical elements can’t remain; it’s just that- as every Hallmark movie will tell you – that isn’t really what Christmas is about. Love starts with thinking of the other not the glitter.
Have a separate holiday activity box for kids
This can be Christmas related craft bought in the shops or focused on your to do list; but the thing is for you to get on without sitting them in front of the tv it’s best to be organised in terms of what they’re going to be doing whilst you’re busy.
Paper chains for their bedroom, popcorn garlands whilst Christmas music plays, cutting up last year’s Christmas cards for gift tags, colouring in a series of pictures of the nativity story and making their own book……anything that you don’t have to hover near for them to stay entertained (obviously thinking about ages with scissors here).
You could even tie your to do list to the fun activity list – complete a certain number of tasks to earn a Christmas colouring book for example.
When you’re Christmas shopping you may want to think about buying extra presents that you can wrap and put aside in a just in case pile. A neighbour may gift you something and it’s embarrassing not to give something back. They don’t have to be big and you can always put them aside for next year.
Do an online shop
My husband loves food shopping and I had to persuade him in the midst of our tense Christmas this year to do one online. Wow did it make a difference!
It also helps when you’ve made a menu plan and shopping list early and you’ve already bought things you can in the weeks proceeding. Just go through with a highlighter and mark off anything that a dry, long date product and start putting them away in November and December.
Work out a child minding routine
Obviously book child minders way in advance for joint outings for you and your spouse, but between the two of you too.
This year we had an agreement that one could drink and be merry one night and the other would do the bedtime routine and getting up early the next day. The roles would then be reversed, with one remaining alcohol free and do the routine, rising early the next day.
We had guests staying throughout the Yuletide so being clear on this helped.
Think of seperating the meal from the day itself
By the meal I mean the main feast. However your nation divides up your Christmas period there’s normally a big, tradional Christmas meal. In the U.K. we have Christmas Day and Boxing Day as our main holidays – the 25th and 26th respectively.
France tends to focus on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day- there’s no Boxing Day equivalent. I know that the US is different again.
The U.K. tradition has church, gift giving and a big roast dinner all in one day. The table is always laid beautifully on that day too. However as we’ve grown richer as a nation the piles of gifts and piles of food have got bigger and more complicated.
Since my eldest daughter’s second Christmas we haven’t done the fully laid table on Christmas Day; opting for Christmas crockery and plastic table cloths. We found that we were all too tired after the build up to Christmas and our daughter’s difficulty in containing her excitement (read tantrums as it was all too much).
That was the first time we decided to do the table the next day. Grown up clothes, china and crystal were all brought out after she’d gone to bed and we had a lovely meal. It became our tradition after that to separate the adult meal from the Christmas Day.
This year we swapped our Boxing Day meal of beef Wellington for the roast and we had the latter on the Boxing Day. We just thought that the still special beef was less time intensive and as a result for the first time my husband, who does the cooking, was able to sit throughout the gift giving and relax with us on the day. Then the Boxing Day we had the traditional meal.
Traditions are wonderful, but let’s not be afraid to make them work for us.
Have you got any time and sanity saving Christmas tips? How did your Christmas go?
Last year was meant to be the year the new kitchen was finished. Oh dear….
For those of you who are new to the blog our house has two, connected sides. It was owned by the village doctor and his surgery was in the side that has the spare bedrooms as well as a room that was his former surgery.
The plan is to use the wood bookshelves that are already there as well as solid, wood items like buffets etc to make a vintage looking, free standing kitchen.
We got as far as getting the plumbing finished and the electrics put in – including having the floor dug up to have a kitchen island- and new light fittings installed. However we came unstuck when we started to do the floor and we ultimately decided to continue with the project in the new year.
The area has an entry way with a small, separate toilet that I had electrical outlets put in with the idea of turning it into a stand alone laundry. There is a downstairs already which currently has the machines in there. On laundry days the kids throw down the dirty washing and I gather it up at the bottom of the stairs sort it and stick it through the machine. But with the new layout the machine would be in a separate area and it would mean dragging it through the lower ground floor.
So I started to think maybe I’d just make a walk in pantry? I could have the fridge freezer in there, or even just a stand alone freezer, having only the fridge in the kitchen.
But looking online I came across something interesting – butlers pantries.
These are basically part bar, part serving areas that make it easier to entertain guests. Any destruction caused to the kitchen during cooking can be hidden from view and service can take place from there.
It can also act as a bar, allowing one person to serve drinks/apparatifs to guests without disturbing the cook.
I’ve been Pinterest scrolling for inspiration – let me know what you think of these…
I blogged about creating a truly welcoming guest room in this post; but I thought I’d do a more in-depth post on a Christmas snack station here today. So how do you give your hospitality area a Christmas vibe?
Cups and crockery
One of the easiest ways to give this area some holiday spirit is to add festive mugs or cups as well as other crockery.
This isn’t holiday specific, but a small kettle is great to ensure your guests can have a warm drink when they want without feeling the need to disturb the whole house.
Add some chocolate along with other beverages
Along with teas and coffees include some hot chocolate sachets for your visitors. It’s synonymous with Christmas after all. I also include cappuccino sachets, regular instant coffee and a selection box of teas too.
As a norm I have a bottle of water, a small one of sterilised milk, some sugar and sweet and low along with them.
If you’ve been doing lots of baking why not present some of your Christmas cookies to your guests?
I include little snacks throughout the year; breakfast bars and savory snacks. Sometimes people can be peckish, or want to indulge themselves on holiday.
I mentioned crockery, but coasters can be updated for ones that reflect the season.
Like this Christmas bauble.
Adding a chocolate Santa can be a decoration itself.
Pop some in your mugs to make them a little more merry.