This is our Christmas pep talk

Despite all the gorgeous Instagram and Facebook posts that show beautifully decorated homes, delicious food and every family member being kind and loving, this Christmas perfection is not real life for a lot of people.

In my house, we still have disagreements, tantrums, children not listening or being ungrateful and me stressing about getting all the food warm at the same time.

I’m guessing you can relate to a little something. Maybe there’s a family member or two missing due to death, illness or just other plans this year. We spent one Christmas in the hospital with Kendra when the twins were two.

So I’m writing this quick blog as a pep talk to you and to me:

  1. Define just one thing you want from Christmas

Is it to sing a nice song at church? Is it to have Christmas mince pies and tea for dessert? Is it to spend time with your family? Is it to see the look on a child’s face when you’ve gifted them something they truly want? Or is it to open your To Marcia, From Marcia gift? 😉

(I want to go to church, focus on Jesus and sing my favourite song, O Holy Night. If this song is not on the rotation, I’m prepared because I have about 4 different versions that I like right on my phone!)

2. Remind yourself of the part you are there to play

Glennon Doyle once wrote on Instagram that when we imagine we’re the director of the play, then there’s the pressure and we feel like it’s up to us to make everything “perfect”. When we remind ourselves that we just have a bit part in the play that is Christmas (or any major holiday), we relax knowing that we only have a small part to play and we can then laugh at the Uncle that is drunk or saying inappropriate things, instead of taking it personally that they are Messing Up the Play.

Or something like that. You get the idea.

This has been very useful to me over the last couple of years as I tell myself my job is to do only x; it’s not up to me to make sure everyone has fun (although, as an enneagram 1, I can so easily take it all upon my shoulders).

3. Remind yourself that yes, it is the day we use to commemorate Jesus’s birth but it is still just a day.

Repeat after me, “nothing about today has to be perfect”. Jess Lively said that, I wrote it down and took a picture. Who made the rule that Christmas had to be perfect? Seriously, keep asking yourself that question.

A normal day has things that go well and things that don’t. The chicken takes longer to cook and everyone’s starving but the family member you worry about is particularly pleasant and non-combative.

4. Remember your personality and honour it

If you’re an extrovert, allow yourself the time to enjoy being with the people as this will energise you. If you’re an introvert, feel free to escape for 5 minutes to “tidy the kitchen” or “check on the kids”.

May I suggest this fantastic episode of Sorta Awesome where Meg Tietz and Gretchen Rubin talk about how the Four Tendencies show up for celebrations. I loved this episode so much. Gift yourself an hour and take a listen – it’s worth it.

and last but not least…

5. Stay off social media

You’ll just get depressed about the gifts you didn’t gift or receive, the food you didn’t cook, the family you didn’t spend time with and everyone else’s perfect kids.

I jump on Instagram for five minutes to post a Merry Christmas photo, and then I’m offline for the rest of the day except for phone calls to family.

Which of these tips resonated most with you? How do you remain calm and joyful over Christmas?

Save money. Make your own baby food

My babies will be 9 months old tomorrow (gosh! where has the time gone?) and have still not had a drop of Purity (our local jarred baby food, for the non-South Africans) pass their lips.

I will admit – I nearly, nearly cracked this weekend when we had two SPECTACULAR power failures, but I didn’t.

Still, there was NO WAY I was going to be spending R6 per baby for a jar of baby food, 2 – 3 times a day.

After all, I have twins (my new excuse for being cheap :))

So I decided to try my hand at making my own.

It’s a lot easier than you think especially if you cook them in batches instead of cooking daily.

We bought a butternut squash for R12,78 (let’s not forget the 78c ;)) and it made all these portions.

6 portions for Connor and 6 for Kendra.

That’s at least 9 jars of baby food = R54

Saving = R41

You can save even more money when you use cheaper vegetables like sweet potato.

Another way I like to save money on our food is this – every month there is one week (happens to be this week) where I cook from the freezer and pantry.

I’m forced to get creative using strange combinations of whatever cans and bits of frozen food I have, all to empty it out.

Sometimes these strange combinations work really well, like a potato bake I now regularly make with a can of sweet corn stirred in.

How do you save money on food?

Easy baking

I am soooo not a fan of the baking mess although I do love to bake.

Actually, it’s the eating part of the baking I really love 😉

So to avoid the kitchen looking like this every time I feel like baking something…

I measure out 3 sets of ingredients.

I then label the outside of the containers with masking tape so I know which container has which dry ingredients.

It’s not very difficult because I usually only bake muffins and these oatmeal cookies.

Then when I feel the urge to bake, all I do is get one of these containers, add the wet ingredients and load the dough onto the baking trays.

Baking then takes about 10 minutes so saves me LOTS of time and best of all, NO MESS!

What are your best baking tips?

P.S. I was all done with Christmas baking but then on Christmas Eve I found these Cowboy cookies on Bakerella’s site. They made me absolutely DROOL so I rushed home from work and got baking. And they’re delicious.

That could explain the extra weight I’m carrying…

As with almost anything though, I can’t seem to follow a recipe exactly as is so I’ve changed it a bit to suit our household (I weed out ingredients I’m not likely to have in my pantry).

P.P.S. Why is it that when you go into a homeware store you suddenly see the CUTEST baking utensils that, until that very moment, you didn’t know you absolutely had to have? You’ll be happy to know I was very strong and bravely walked out the store.

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