It's November so I know I can safely start talking about (i.e. fervently planning) Christmas.
Each year it looks a little different. I don't just mean last year, which, let's be honest, it's too soon to talk about. Between finding time to see friends and family (especially if it's been a while); baking, making, and taking presents where we can; choosing and prepping all the food; putting up the decorations; arguing over the music (Brook has only one strong opinion about Christmas music: have it on all the time)... it can all get quickly out of hand, especially if you have big expectations.
I grew up in a small town in the north-east, where space was not the luxury it is here in London. So for me, most Christmas traditions used to be a little more traditional than they are now. For example, the milk and cookie for Santa that would have been left by the fireplace is now placed by the balcony door. Driving home for Christmas used to mean the A1(M) and the A19; now it's the 242 bus route. I know for friends and family who live in London too, that small - or better yet, experiential - gifts are often appreciated over big toys, etc. Putting up the decorations is a much more concise affair.
But as the temperature outside drops and we get cozy inside, thinking about Christmas is an opportunity for me to look at home with new eyes.
This week: an epic doll house that everyone can pitch in on building; my current favourite way to use up all the odd veg left in the fridge; stress awareness
I have binned my idea to get a Sylvanian Families anything this year after seeing this work of ART, made from old boxes. A DIY dream, fully-customisable, no planning permission required. Raid your recycling for cardboard, get out the crafts gear, then wallpaper, upholster, paint and gloss to your heart's content. Find out if your kids are minimalists or maximalists when it comes to interior design (answer: neither, they're babies).
One-pan rainbow roast
After you're done painting the skirting boards of your man-shoe-in (mansion, right?), your family will probably be hungry. Skip the builders' breakfast and go for this very wholesome, vegetarian tray bank that combines hearty root veg with zingy apple and greens. I first had this at a friend's house, where the concept of fresh pesto was an absolute revelation, and now cook it at home as often as possible.
A hand walks into a bar (of soap)
And orders some liquid. Read Brook's investigation into the case for bar vs. liquid soap. Ease of use and environment considered, do you agree there's only one winner?
Stress, I must impress
It's National Stress Awareness Day. I think most parents, or anyone who has spent more than 20 minutes with a child, knows stress - of just caring for their wellbeing, even when nothing is going wrong - but it's still worth re-familiarising yourself with the symptoms and how you can address it early on.
And finally... sir duke
Something to make you smile. Not just because this girl's smile is so infectious, but because there's just a universal feeling of goodwill when you see a kid accomplish something so beautifully. Oh, and that base line's not bad ;)