Prepared

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Just a quick post this evening as I have doing some preparations since arriving home from work.  Yet again, there is a tropical cyclone (hurricane) heading south-west towards the central Queensland coast.  It is not particularly severe as cyclones go and is expected to cross the coast well north of where we are, however, we are already experiencing steady rain and gusty wind.

Storm surgeStorm surges are just one of the risks that we are being warned about.

I have cleared things off the verandah, boiled lots of water, charged the phones, know that the car has a full tank of fuel and know where the wind-up torches and radio are.  I have 9 ice-cream containers of boiled water which will be frozen in the camp fridge once it has cooled.  We have plenty of food and a gas cooktop which can be used for cooking.

We are not at risk of being flooded.  The most likely problem is the loss of power.  We could also suffer damage from falling branches or other debris, although this is not as likely.

Are you in central or southern Queensland?  Are you prepared?  Do you have any tips or advice?

Stay safe and if there are a lack of posts in the coming days it may mean that I am offline.

A Christmas List

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I have started to get my Christmas list which was in my head, down on paper.  It is not a list of what I want but a list of Christmas related activities and tasks.  I need to check that nothing gets forgotten.

Over the last few years it has become an unwritten rule that nothing overtly Christmassy happens until after 3rd December.  The significance of this is that it is Miss O’s birthday and I think that it is important to be able to focus on her special day and not let it become overwhelmed in the lead-up to Christmas.  Our darling turned 5 yesterday so has the adventure of starting Prep and the whole new world of school next year.

But back to the list…………

Plan menu for Christmas lunch
Put up Christmas tree
Finish Christmas letter
Write Christmas cards and post
Finish hand-made gifts
Check gifts complete for immediate family
Take granddaughters to see Christmas lights
Check for carol service appropriate for granddaughters

I am sure there will be other things to add to the list but that is the main focus for us.

Christmas lunch will be for 4 adults and 4 children (aged 6, 5, 5 and 3).  It will be gluten-free/ grain-free (in line with my eating plan).  I will write more about this in another post.

The Christmas tree will go up on Saturday afternoon when Miss O and Izz are here.

I need to get serious about finishing the Christmas letter which is half-written.  Many of our Christmas greeting are sent via email but I would like to get the cards in the mail by the middle of next week.

The gifts are an ongoing project which is coming along nicely.  I think I have planned gifts for everyone – just need to check the box in the spare room again.  Nothing is wrapped yet.  In fact, I will not be wrapping gifts this year as I have made re-useable gift bags in assorted sizes from Christmas fabric.  I won’t miss the piles of ripped wrapping paper all over the floor on Christmas morning.

We will be going the see the Christmas lights on Saturday evening when our granddaughters come to stay.  Once I find the time and date of the carol service I will organise to go with Miss O and Izz.

Writing everything down helps to clarify exactly what I need to do and when.  We have a fairly simple, low-key Christmas which is naturally focused on enjoying it with the children.

Over the next week or so I will post about each of the things on my list in more detail.

When do you start your Christmas preparations?  How are you going?  Please share your plans.

Christmas Countdown

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It is exactly 7 weeks until Christmas Day.  We are planning a relatively simple Christmas .  Belle and her family will be arriving in time for lunch and staying for a night or 2.  We will have 4 children under 7 with us so I am looking forward to sharing the true spirit with them.  We will also spend some time with my mother, sister and brother on either Christmas Day or Boxing Day.

Gifts – I have a couple of small items for the children and will be adding some handmade gifts as well.  None of us need more ‘stuff’.

Meals will be special but definitely not excessive.  It will also be a gluten-free menu and as much as possible,grain-free as well.

We generally do not get involved in the many Christmas parties as our focus is a small, family celebration.  The one exception is Christmas drinks with the neighbours.  We live on a long rural road and this is the only time during the year that we see some of the neighbours.  This year we are hosting the event which simply means that I will sweep the verandah and set out some extra chairs and glasses.  Everyone contributes a plate of finger food and brings their own drinks.

In the meantime, life goes on as usual.  Miss O has a birthday coming up, I have a conference to attend interstate, Missy is relocating to another city and I have deadlines to meet at work.  This is all aside from the day to day routines.

Do you have any special plans for the coming weeks?  Do you celebrate Christmas?

A Christmas Plan

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No, I have not forgotten that it is January.

We have all heard the phrase about learning from past mistakes.  While they are not strictly mistakes, past events can be reviewed to see if it is possible to change things with a view to making life simpler and less stressful for ourselves.

Since it is a new year, what better to review than Christmas and the festive season?

My Christmas celebrations are very low-key compared to some.  However, comparison is not the issue here – streamlining the process and having time to enjoy the seasonal festivities is my aim.

Last year we went on holidays in October/November so I didn’t really focus seriously on any Christmas planning until mid-November.  There are also family birthdays at this time – one in November and one in early December.

Lazy Brownie Day is a concept I may have mentioned last year but it never quite got off the ground.  I believe the name comes from a book character, but regardless of the name, the concept is that the 25th of every month is dedicated to Christmas preparations.   While I may not always be able to do Christmas prep exactly on the 25th of the month due to work commitments, I will have a plan and review it each month.  This year I want to make sure that I do a little bit at a time and that there is no mad rush (physical or mental) at the end of the year.

Based on what I did in 2011 I have mapped out a basic idea of what I need to do each month to ensure that I am organised when it gets to December.  I have taken into consideration what worked, what didn’t and what I wanted to do that didn’t happen.

This is what it looks like:

January

  • Sort and file Christmas cards and letters
  • Make sure any contact details are updated in address book
  • Update Christmas card list
  • Set up complete contact list for 2012 e-cards

2012-01-04 01February

  • Make gift bags
  • Plan home-made gifts
  • Make list of gift recipients

2012-01-04 02March

  • Write Q1 review for 2012 Christmas letter
  • Work on home-made gifts

April

  • Work on home-made gifts

May

  • Work on home-made gifts

June

  • Write Q2 review for 2012 Christmas letter
  • Work on home-made gifts

July

  • Work on home-made gifts
  • Make Advent calendar

2012-01-04 03August

  • Complete home-made gifts
  • Check what other gifts to buy

September

  • Write Q3 review for 2012 Christmas letter
  • Buy any extra dried fruit/ingredients for cake
  • Make Christmas cake

October

  • Write Christmas cards
  • Select suitable photos for Christmas letter
  • Discuss plans for Christmas festivities/venues with extended family

November

  • Buy Christmas stamps
  • Make sure Advent calendar is complete and ready
  • Check times and location of carol service and displays of lights

December

Week 1

  • Put up and decorate the tree
  • Finalise menu for meals I am hosting over Christmas
  • Do major grocery shopping to last until after New Year

Week 2

  • Post cards
  • Take Miss O and Izz to carols and light displays

Week 3

  • Send Christmas e-cards/letters
  • Take Miss O and Izz to work Christmas party
  • Buy fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Relax and enjoy

Since Christmas 2011 is still reasonably fresh in mind, I hope I have covered most things.  There will be other small things I do throughout the year.

I am going to print this post and put it in a folder for reference and with the assistance of Lazy Brownie days I plan to have a smooth, non-stressful lead-up to Christmas 2012.

Do you have any particular timelines for Christmas preparations?

Finishing Touches

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I still have 2 full days to go before Christmas Day and I feel more organised than ever.  I am already planning how I can spread the preparations throughout the year to make it even easier in 2012.  More about that another day.

Today I finished a few things.  The last of the gifts are bought and now wrapped as well.

2011-12-22 01It is a modest collection of mostly practical gifts.  There is no use espousing minimalism and decluttering all year, only to go overboard when Christmas comes around.  The hamper gifts are yet to be labelled and packaged so they are not in the photo.

I had my hair cut, the cards are posted and email correspondence sent.

After a short day at work tomorrow, I will buy some fruit and vegetables as well as mayonnaise, yoghurt and salami.  Then we will be all ready for the festive break.

Missy will arrive tomorrow, then Belle and the family on Saturday.

We will be enjoying a few days with the family from tomorrow.

Don’t forget to drop in tomorrow for another Friday favourite – this time it is another salad for Christmas (or any other time of the year).

Making a List & Checking It Twice

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6 days until Christmas and I am beginning to feel like it is all coming together.  I have crossed a few more things off the list today and this is what the list looks like now.

Tonight:

Finish making food gifts for home-made hampers
Email Christmas letter to most of my friends/relatives
Finish writing the last few cards – I don’t send many (see above)
Write down menu plan (it is in my head) for the rest of the week and weekend
Make carry bag to go with gift for child at Royal Children’s Hospital

Tuesday:

Work
Print letter to go with cards and post
Look for last part of present for Belle
Volunteer morning at Royal Children’s Hospital – take gift (unwrapped)

Wednesday:

Work

Thursday:

Work

Friday:

Children’s Christmas party at work (Miss O and Izz attending)

Saturday:

Buy fruit and veg (fruit stall open from 6am)
Buy mayonnaise and yoghurt
Assemble hampers
Enjoy Christmas Eve with family

Aside from the list there is the usual washing and ironing.  The floors will get swept and washed at the end of the week but other than that I am happy that I am prepared.

I think all of my decluttering and streamlining this year has helped.  All is well.

How are your Christmas preparations going?

Christmas Preparations – A Shopping List

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I have a deep-seated aversion to grocery shopping so I do it as rarely as possible.  I particularly dislike the madness that reigns in the lead-up to Christmas and other holiday periods.

I need to restock some of my bulk stores plus buy a few special things for Christmas so I will be going to Simply Good and Aldi on my way home from work on Friday.  I always shop with a list as it helps me to buy only what I actually need and also ensures that nothing gets overlooked.  This is particularly important as it is an 80km round trip to Simply Good from home.

I have checked the stocks, including the bulk buckets that are in the cupboard downstairs.

My shopping list will look something like this:

SIMPLY GOOD

Rolled oats
Wholemeal plain flour
Puffed rice
Sultanas
Raisins
Glace cherries **
Psyllium husk
Pepitas
Sunflower seeds
Coconut
Prunes
Bran flakes
Icing sugar
Cornflour
Cashew nuts

ALDI

Cheese
Corn chips
Butter
Turkish bread rolls
Milk
Ice-cream
Juice
Cat food
Toothpaste
Canned tomatoes
Chocolate **
Fancy savoury biscuits **

The items marked ** are special for Christmas but everything else is part of our normal shopping.

I aim to not have to go to Simply Good until early March if my calculations of quantities are correct.  I only go every few months now but my aim next year is to actually quantify it and go once per quarter – March, June, September and December.

I will probably go to Aldi once more before Christmas for more cheese, milk and juice.

There should be enough meat to last until early in the New Year and fruit and vegetables are usually bought every 7 – 10 days to supplement whatever is growing in the garden.

What are your Christmas shopping plans?