Fitness

A few weeks ago I decided to really get back into my fitness. My eldest daughter was about to turn 4 and I realised that in reality I only have about 8 more years to really set a good example to her on how to live her life. In this world of eating disorders, plastic sugary, and bad body image, I want my girls to see their bodies as beautiful and strong.

So I started Kayla Itsines  Bikini Body Guide BBG, again. The BBG is 12 weeks worth of 28 minutes of exercises.  You do it three times a week and each day consists of two sets of exercises which you do twice for a maximum of 7 minutes.  It seems easy enough but it is actually a killer work out. I got this guide over a year ago and started and stopped quite a few times, each time because i’d hurt my back, but this time I’m determined. I am now at week 6. I did hurt my back in week 3 or 4 and then took a week off for Christmas. But instead of giving up I have been taking it slow and easy if I feel I need it. I’m only a few months off turning 35 and this really is the time to get the body I have always wanted. Whilst I would love to say I am only interested in being strong and setting a good example for my girls, but I also want to be fit and look good.

I got immediate results with being a good example for my girls straight away. As I started day 1 both my girls started copying me. As I started doing squats with my temporary weights in hands, my eldest daughter ran around looking for something she could use as weights. She grabbed a couple of her My Little Pony’s and started squatting. She then looked at me and said “we are so strong aren’t we Mama?”, I hadn’t even said anything! Now when I exercise they both usually join in for a bit.

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Because I didn’t want to buy any equipment the above photo shows my current workout equipment. A couch, side table, and for weights old milk bottles filled with water and a couple of (surprisingly heavy)  doorstops. Sometimes I have to adapt the exercises a little bit, but I’m really determined to keep going no matter what.

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?

 

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.

Living Without “Stuff”

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I recently read this post by the blogger londonminimalists and it got me thinking about our present situation living without “stuff”. We are currently living in our friend’s apartment. Monsieur P isn’t living there at the moment and, luckily for us, had a fully furnished apartment in the city in France we wanted to live in. Monsieur P is a minimalist without even knowing it’s a thing. His apartment is sparsely furnished, but has all the necessities such as fridge, washing machine, couch, beds etc.

Being the (hopefully reformed) maximalists that we are, naturally when we were faced with this situation, our automatic response was to go shopping and get all the extras we “needed”. However, because we want to save our money, and try to be minimalists, we did not do that. One of the few things we did buy was a couple of baskets for the kids toys to make cleaning up easier. After a couple of weeks I was getting annoyed that there was no washing basket to carry my clothes from the bathroom onto the balcony. So I emptied one of the toy baskets, which were probably already emptied by the kids, and I used it. Now a few months on I genuinely cannot think why you would want a specific basket just for washing. It makes sense that if you have to have “stuff” then make sure they have more than one use. For example we don’t have wine glasses, but now I love drinking out of the basic IKEA glasses we have, and it also makes me feel very French. We don’t have a kettle and just use a saucepan on the stove.

A couple of years ago I read this article by Sarah Wilson. It is all about what things she doesn’t own in her home. I loved the idea, but at that time I was living in a fully stocked house, so naturally it made no sense to get rid of perfectly functioning things, because at the end of the day, it’s not only about having less, its about not consuming more. I didn’t think I would ever be in the situation I am now, and I still have a whole bunch of “stuff” in storage in Australia, but for now it is so nice to have less. And whilst I love that for Sarah Wilson her house is easier to tidy, my house only ever stays tidy for about a minute because I have two daughters who wreak havoc wherever they go. For more on double use items I highly recommend reading the blog paris-to-go, she is so inspiring. I have read some of her posts numerous times.

 

 

Bordeaux And The Hilarious Failure Of Minimalist Packing

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How did I end up, in Bordeaux, impulse buying a new pair of jeans, that were too big for me you ask? After all my proclamations of minimalism…

We headed to Bordeaux for a week in a friend’s car. I was excited because I thought it would be the perfect rehearsal for going to Paris in a couple of weeks, where I will be dealing with a stroller, suitcase and Ergo baby carrier on my own. (Side note my husband had to fly back to Australia for a conference and we were meeting him in Paris). I ended up taking a larger suitcase than I want for Paris because I packed towels for the lake. But the most important thing is is that it was not full! I packed less for me and the girls than I ever have before. I checked the forecast and it was predicted to be hot, this was confirmed by our friend Monsieur P who said that it is always hot in Bordeaux. If I had any reservations they were put to rest but the 5.5 hr drive in 35 degree heat with out air conditioning. So I was feeling confident in my week of clothing choices ahead, plus there would be a washing machine.

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Well I could not have been more wrong. Oh black skinny jeans and cardigan that I put back in my cupboard at the last minute, how I missed you. Who would have predicted that our very first day, and the following few days, it would be pouring with rain and not go over 17 degrees? Not me. I had travelled in my new beloved Isabel Marant pants and planned that they would fulfill any need I would have for pants. However after said 5.5 hours in 35 degrees the last thing I wanted to do was wear them again, without washing. Lessons learned:

  • Always pack a just in case outfit that isn’t your travel outfit
  • Don’t buy jeans with out trying them on.
  • Bring a belt with you.
  • Don’t pack only one pair of shoes for kids, because it’s likely to rain and they will jump in puddles.

I ended up running around Bordeaux, in the pouring rain, trying to find a pair of pants to wear. I had the baby strapped to me in the Ergo, and my eldest feeling unwell, patiently waiting in a cafe. All I wanted was a pair of high waisted black skinny jeans because i’ve been wanting a pair for awhile and I knew I would probably get a bit of wear out of them. But there were none in Zara and the three other stores I ran though. I could find nothing that wasn’t ripped, or required trying on. I ended up getting a pair of cigarette style jeans which are mean to be not super tight. I figured that way it wouldn’t matter. But again I was wrong. They are slightly too big in the waist. Not terrible, but enough that I resorted to tying them up at the back with a piece  of rope. Because naturally I hadn’t packed the unnecessary belt.

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footnotes:
-This was actually written 3 months ago in August
-Sadly I have never worn these jeans again, I really don’t like them and hopefully I can give them away to someone who will appreciate them

Packing for 8 Months

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What does a maximalist pack, into half a suitcase, when moving overseas for 8 months? This was the question i asked myself when my husband and i decided to pack up, with our two daughters, aged 3 and 0, and move to France. I am someone who enjoys having a large and varied wardrobe, so the thought was a bit daunting. However I was also a bit excited about being  forced to live with a minimalist  wardrobe. I love reading blogs of women who live with a minimalist wardrobe, or a capsule wardrobe. It’s something that I’m almost certain, in my everyday life, I would never do this. I enjoy options. To decide what to pack I turned to trusty Google and found this post by apairandaspare on the ideal number of items to pack for carry on luggage, she calls it the 5,4,3,2,1 guide: 5 tops 4 bottoms 3 dresses 3 shoes 2 swimsuits 2 bags 1 hat watch sunnies I decided to double it as we will be there during winter and summer. I did the same for both my girls. I did some tweaking, there is no way I will need 4 swimsuits. Everything fitted into our two suitcases. Although we are allowed to take 3 suitcases I wanted to have enough space to bring home some purchases. My husband and I spent our final evening at home packing, and drinking the last of our wedding champagne.