Essential “Stuff” I need

After writing this blog post about living without stuff I started to think about what are single use “things” that I feel are necessary for me. Something I wish we had bought when we arrived is a vase. I love having fresh flowers, to me having fresh flowers makes a house feel like a home. I had thought I would find some old bottle to repurpose, but in reality a good vase really needs to be purpose made so that it can fit a bunch of flowers in it. Although having said that in Australia I have a water jug I was given for my wedding that I use as a vase. But I don’t every really use it as a water jug.

Coffee plunger! My husband and I are massive coffee lovers, and luckily we didn’t have to buy a plunger because there was already one from when my husband was here last.

The following are the things we bought that I  felt we couldn’t live without:

  • Water filter
  • Spare towels and bedding. We went a couple of months without having doubles, but in the end having kids, and living in an apartment, means sometimes you just can’t get things washed and dried within a day. I miss my outdoor clothesline at home!
  • A pair of kid sized chairs from IKEA to go with a coffee table that was already here.  The girls love sitting at their own table and reading, drawing, eating, playing etc.
  • Christmas decorations for the tree. But we will take a few of these home and give the rest away to families we know.

Other things that I do miss and would buy if we were staying here longer are:

  • Magic bullet: this was a game changer for me and at home I use it at least once a day to make smoothies, dips, pasta sauce, even chopping up garlic.
  • Juicer: again I use this almost every day as well to make sure my girls get extra veggies into them. My dad bought me a juicer when I was teenager and I have owned one ever since.
  • And something that in Australia that is essential for me is a rotary clothes line. I just love how nice clothes and linen smell after being outside in the sunshine for a day. Did i mention how much I miss my clothes line?

 

Klorane Vinaigre de Rinçage à la Camomille

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I bought this after reading about it in an interview somewhere. It is a camomile and vinegar rinse for clarifying blonde/light brown hair. After washing and conditioning your hair, you rinse you hair with some of this, then rinse it out with lukewarm water. It works really well on my hair and makes it super shiny and soft. Personally I think that it is really expensive for what you get, so instead of buying more, I have just been making my own version with chamomile tea and two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. I think my homemade version is even better. Is there anything apple cider vinegar can’t do?

A Very Minimal Christmas

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Our Christmas day itself is going to be a very relaxed affair as it is only the four of us. We will just eat lots of yummy, easy to prepare food, and spend the day with the girls, probably involving building cubby houses and adventuring at the local park. It is interesting that being so far away from family and friends, you really realise how how much about Christmas is about being with people. Especially where we live there is usually a steady stream of visitors for at least a week, with days playing with the growing broods of children and evenings spent in our backyard playing music and drinking cocktails. I am excited for our Christmas day this year because it is possibly the only year it will just be the four of us.

With our time in France drawing to an end, and lots of travel on the horizon, the last thing my husband and I want is to buy our children loads of presents for Christmas for the simple purpose of consumption. It’s actually really difficult for me to not buy them “big” gifts, but they are only 4 and 1 so actually have no preconceived ideas of what Christmas presents “should” be.

Our 4 year old told me Santa will bring her a yoyo, preferably with pink on it. So she will receive a yoyo and both girls will receive a beautiful French outfit. The 1 year old will receive a backpack (to be like her sister). I’ve also got some play dough and UNO cards for them to share.

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I  have with me a couple of dust bags from the designer Yannika, I use them for organising our suitcases, these will be the stockings this year. The stocking will have their presents in them and then will be rounded out by a few chocolate coins and a pomegranate. Years ago I read an article that said French children always receive pomegranates in the toes of their stockings. So far no French people have confirmed this tradition for me, but i’m going to pretend it is one anyway.

My husband and I are not going to give each other anything, but instead use the money to go on an extra trip somewhere. We are going to wrap up lots of our non refrigerator Christmas food for under the tree so that the girls learn to appreciate how lucky we are to be able to eat such yummy food.

 

Packing For Paris In August

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When they say that Paris is deserted in August and that most of the shops are shut, it’s true! We spent a wonderful week here in August. Although I was a little disappointed that some of the shops I wanted to go to were shut, the truth is when travelling with kids generally you have to let go of any plans and go with the flow. We stayed in the 10th Arrondissement in an adorable little apartment we found on Airbnb. And the lack of people in Paris was actually really enjoyable.

My husband met us in Paris. He had had to fly back to Australia for work, so i was travelling by train with the two girls. After my Bordeaux experience I decided to take our larger suitcase and pack some more just in case things. This time I did actually packed better.  I only added one dress knowing I would be walking a lot with the baby in the Ergo. I also made sure I packed a couple of pairs of jeans, which I ended up wearing a lot of the time. It ended up being perfect and I think there was only a couple of items of clothing that I didn’t wear.

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Did I curse using the bigger suitcase, many times, especially the moment in Lyon when I got on the wrong car of the train and amongst a packed train had to change cars with toddler, baby in Ergo, stroller and giant suitcase. However many of the other passengers on the train were really nice and helped me. And my eldest daughter was so good when we were in transit, she never let go of the suitcase whilst we walked between trains and taxis.

One mistake I did make was packing two pairs of sandals. Because the streets were so dirty I only wanted to wear closed in shoes everyday, so I ended up wearing my converse everyday. The same with my eldest daughter, bringing sandals for her was completely unnecessary.

It’s difficult to pack minimally with a baby and a preschooler. They might not get anything dirty for days, and then in one afternoon go through three or four outfits. It really helped that there was a washing machine in our airbnb apartment and I ended up doing one load of washing.

French Pharmacy Products

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Although I would love to have a simple streamlined beauty routine, using only natural products, oils and water, the last 5 years have been difficult for my skin. I would describe my skin as being combination sensitive skin with a predisposition to rosacea. In the last 5 years I have moved from the mountains to the coast then back to the mountains. I’ve been pregnant twice and spent almost three years breastfeeding. I’ve also travelled overseas and within Australia a lot within those years, and now I’m living in France. My skin does not appreciate change, pregnancy hormones wreaked havoc on my skin and then breastfeeding turned it into an oily yet dry mess. When I find something that works, after a few months, my skin usually freaks out, and I need to change it up. I also enjoy trying out new products. The one thing I am trying to do is ensure that I use all the product before moving onto a new one.
I have read many blog posts where people talk about the wonders of the French Pharmacy beauty products. So I’m going to review the different ones I try whilst I’m here.
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The first is Eau Thermale Avène, Crème peaux intolérantes. This moisturiser is for sensitive and irritable skin and is perfect for my skin. It’s gentle and feels very soothing. It is moisturising without feeling too heavy. I highly recommend it. As you can see from the photo I am down to the very last drops. If I didn’t want to try other ones I would definitely buy this again. In fact I’ll probably buy some before we return to Australia.