Paul & Paula private

family breakfast

Paul & Paula private is the place where we share a little bit about our international life.

Four kids, many languages, regular moves and travels. A little peak behind the scenes…

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05.04.19

Genuine Friday: Raising a big family

Raising a big family

After Interior Tuesday I am introducing a new column: Genuine Friday!

Back when I decided to give the interiors a permanent spot it was mainly to push myself to show more of it than I used to. Because I love a good peek into a home and I know you do too. And it was one of the best decisions ever because these articles are very popular.

Another topic that I take very seriously but never enough time for is private stuff. When blogging was not as big it actually used to be a space where people shared their personal things (very much like Instagram when it started out). And I think that it is still important to share your voice and opinion. These articles usually take a lot of time to write, mostly because I need to find a good moment and start to get going. (but once that is done I am rolling… haha)
And I know that every time I ask what you would like to read more about, the answer is: About your family, your life and so on.
So you are pretty clear that you want these articles.

So, voila: Genuine Friday it is.
Starting today. And then we will see. Hopefully, I will have something for you for every Friday hereafter, except for the odd Friday List that I just love to do once a month…

Because now I have a spot for it.

Today’s topic is: Raising a big family. Because it is something I am asked about all the time. The reaction when people ask me how many children I have. Or when we are all running to catch the bus and you can see people counting in their head.

Yep, that is us. It is merry, sometimes crazy, never really quiet and always busy. But we knew that and there is one thing I can tell you: As much as my head is spinning sometimes, I love the life and chaos we have and could not imagine it any different.

Raising a big family

We are a family of six (in case you are new here) and the children are 3, 6, 9 and nearly 12 at the moment. We never specifically set out to be raising a large family, and neither of us grew up in one.

People always ask how I do it. The truth is most of the time, I just do. There is no manual and there is no one rule to stick to. (which is the exact reason why I do not run a mum blog – every family, every child, every mum is different) My level of patience definitely grew with the kids and I am quite cool with many things, but we also have ‘army-like’ situations when necessary. Things just have to flow sometimes.

So yeah… there is no cheat sheet glued on my kitchen cabinet and trust me, some days, I also wonder what am I actually doing. Because – truth bomb – I am not perfect. Look at these last weeks/ months, for example, there were definitely days where I could not hold it together anymore. Shouting, very short attention span, snapping and unable to listen to at least one demand carefully. I am not proud of it, but I did the best I could and some days saw the short end of it. (and we all do the best we can, I know that and you know it too!)

Therefore, at some point, it all comes crashing down in one giant mess. You can organise, prepare or juggle the heck out of things, sometimes reality just hits you extra hard. Not you particularly, but with a big family, the chances are high. Especially during a high season like Christmas. The concert here, breakfast there, dentist appointment, lost library book, best friend’s birthday, gift shopping and the list goes on…
Now you need to pick up that giant mess and start juggling again.

Let me give you some tips (even so really do not like the term tips) ideas or experiences or learning curves that I can share after nearly 12 years of motherhood and 3 1/2 of them as a mum of four:

Organisation is key

Luckily I am a very organised person and I cannot deal with a messy house. I will mark parties, school events, clubs, appointments and everything else in my and our family agenda the moment I know about them. Work stuff I try to coordinate as early as possible as well. The earlier I know about things, the better. This also helps to plan busy days effectively.

We also organise a lot of things the night before school days. Clothing (now uniforms) is picked out, backpacks are put together by the kids, the lunchbox for the little one is in the fridge and when I try to fall asleep I am planning my own outfit in my head. If you can avoid a crazy morning madness, you want to do that!

Everyone needs to help

It is impossible that one person is responsible for the laundry, cleanliness and general household of six people. Logic math! We do not have a chore chart (we had attempted but they all failed) but everyone needs to pitch in around the house. And trust me, it is not always voluntary. My kids are no perfect kids who love to tidy, clear the table and empty bins. And they rarely offer help too. But, yes but, when asked… they do! (just make sure that did not disappear stealthily)

And trust me, if they ask for TV time I always have something in mind that needs attention before the TV can be switched on. Tidying the playroom for example or emptying the dishwasher.

Menu planning and weekly grocery shopping

I do not remember when exactly we started with meal plans and weekly shopping but I think it was when Antoine joined us and was still really small. So let’s say around 8 years ago. And it was such a game changer and time saver. First of all – no need to think about 5 pm: ‘What should I do for diner?’ and once, hopefully, figured out, check what you have in the fridge and what you need. By now I cannot even remember how we did it before.

Anyway, once a week we take two pieces of paper and start planning. Everyone can add one diner. And since we are six that makes for the week (Josephine usually gets told a few options and she chooses because coming up with an idea is a little too much for her age) because one day we always have a leftover day. (I am actually planning to write something about that too) Leftover day is usually the day before we get our groceries delivered so we eat up anything that is left. I think it is super practical and helps not to throw away food.

And yes, groceries are ordered online. We do not have a car and it is so convenient. And during our meal planning, on the 2nd piece of paper we also write down everything we need for the food we want to cook. Planning meals ahead of time allow for fewer trips to the grocery store and we have ours delivered once a week. (I remember doing weekly groceries at the supermarket when we had a car and people looking at me with my big trolley full to the brim, they probably thought I had to feed a football team!)

Being part of the membership program of your preferred supermarket is a good idea. Since a big family needs lots of groceries you will easily earn lots of points that you can use for something useful. Every little thing helps! Really!

All together, it is budget friendly, a time saver and also a much better idea than running through the supermarket with kids in tow.

Self-care

Never neglect yourself. Any time alone is your best reward. I am working from home and I know this is a luxury situation which allows me to get alone time here and there. (I do not mean working alone behind my desk) Sometimes I work like crazy for a few days and evenings so that I can meet up with a friend for lunch on a Friday and maybe do some window shopping afterward and before the kids need to be picked up. It is totally worth it!

Storage Solutions

I love a clutter-free environment and the idea that less is more really is true. And instant of trying to fight back the clutter, we try to not get the stuff into the house in the first place. And storage space is always on top of the list when looking for a place to live. With four kids and the passing down clothing model, I need somewhere to store all this. As well as space for shoes, winter jackets and, school uniforms. Bed linen, towels, and books. Well, you know. Stuff! So your home basically needs to have clever storage solutions in all possible corners. My home does because I cannot afford to live in a mansion. Ha.

Set ground rules

And stick to them. You probably have the basics down anyway. Stuff like: no food outside the kitchen, no jumping on the sofa or we only talk when the other person finished. We have those too and I know that sticking to them the more kids you have is your calling.

Let’s say Antoine sneaks out an apple and is eating whilst building some Lego. You can bet that his sisters will turn up in the kitchen by…1…2…3 to take ‘their’ apple. It is the law. Things like this never go unnoticed. So instead of one child or two jumping on that sofa or spilling water in your bed. That would make 4 and me going ‘cuckoo banana’ as Josephine calls it. It cannot happen! Stick to your rules. What I love most about those situations is, if I spot the girls coming to get an apple and out of the kitchen and call them out on it. Do you know what their reason is? You know right?! Because I allowed Antoine to have his apple at the desk. Ha…. (another one)

One by one time

That is a very tricky one, especially because I struggle with this a lot. How to find quality time with each child individually? Weekends are often more busy than other days of the week. Not long ago Romy had a parent/teacher meeting at her school and we managed to schedule it in for the morning. And I had it on my agenda and made sure that I had everything done for that in advance (go back to self-care to see how). So after the meeting, we had lunch together and went to a few shops Romy wanted to check out and so on. It was lovely.

The others are demanding ‘mummy time’ too and I then usually discuss options with the hubby. I often take one to do something I have on my list anyway and we add a little stop at the cafe or whatever they would like to do. And very often their wishes are very simple. Last time, Leonor asked me to spend time with her and all she wanted was getting a smoothie and going to the playground. (where the rest of the family joined us later)

I admit that my strength is not the holy evening ritual and story time and all. I can do it (of course) but there were times where I was reading the same book for many nights in a row and I truly thought I will go crazy. That task often falls into Eric’s hands and he really likes it.

However, Antoine asks sometimes to sit with him a little bit before he goes to sleep. In his room, just the two of us. He even gives up a bit if his precious evening time (the one before bedtime) for this. And then he says: ‘Can we sit and just talk a little?’ So cute. And in case you wonder, yes… I often feel guilty about this topic. Not being able to spend more time individually.

Get Help

Get a cleaner, a nanny, a babysitter… whatever you need, what you can afford.

Be cool

When you have a big family, the children have to learn to be independent. Because it is physically impossible to be everywhere. I need to prioritise often (even so I am good at planning) and decide where it is most important for me to be, at work and at home. For that day or moment. Otherwise, I am all over the place but with no value and no real attention. And it is ok to say no and to be cool with it. It is how it is and I am the one who decides and who knows what is more important. It is not a competition.

And I truly believe that when we openly discuss these things with our children they will understand. They may not be happy with everything but if you explain and have good arguments and maybe something that involves them coming up, they do understand.

PS: Why Genuine? Because I want this to be a frank and direct conversation. Normal, without a pink filter and honest. That is why!
All images: Paul & Paula
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04.02.19

2018 is over and the moving countries aftermath

Paul & Paula blog

Hello Monday! New week, new month… and somehow a day where I feel that I am finally ready to share about the whole aftermath a move across countries entails. And why things are actually a bit very crazy over here.

We are no newbies when it comes to moving. Especially moving countries and we did it with and without kids. But for some reasons this really has been the toughest one to date.

And I am not going to sit and whine. Complaining and hear you saying: ‘but that is what you wanted, so deal with it’. No, this is more stating the fact that life is not always perfect, that we do have limits and that reality is something we should not hide.

So why today? Because today, one year ago, my mum passed. (you can read about some of that in this article) And last year was especially a difficult one because of that. Today is a good moment to go more personal.

And also because many people asked me after this post on Instagram (that was more or less vague) what is going on. Yes, that is the Social Media aftermath and since I was around quite a bit for trade shows and stuff it came up regularly. Thank you for caring!

But lets get right up to the End of October. Between the black on white, yes you move, at the very last day of August 2018, and the actual move we had roughly 2 months. Not even 2 months.

And this is nothing. It is shorter than short. Squeeze in a week of house hunting and stretch things – let it be 7 weeks. 6 people, from Sweden to the UK in 7 weeks. Boom! And it is not like one of us stopped working and could deal with the move 100%. No, no… evenings, week ends and any other spare minute was used for that.

And yes, we got help through relocation agencies but there still is a big load of stuff that falls on you and that should fall on you, like deciding where you want to live and which school feels right for your children.

Paul & Paula blog

So, we land in London at the end of October and stay in a temp apartment until our things arrive. We start to run around for bank accounts, mobile phone contracts, registering my business and other admin/ paperwork stuff. Fun!

We also learn that the children will not start school after the Autumn break because the agency did not give us the correct information and things will only get going AFTER that break. Bummer! Because things have been planned around that. We looked for a house that was available at a specific date so we could be down as tenants and get the school applications running. And we explained to the children that they would start their new schools after a school break.

Instead we had to wait.

And there are no free spots at the schools we put on Number 1 of the list. Ok, we knew this could happen. And who knows, maybe the 2nd choice turns out to be great and we just stay put.
Just that the schools turn out to be a logistical nightmare. Romy is in secondary and the school is a little far and she cannot go by herself. So somebody has to drop her off and pick her up. At the same time as the two other ones (Antoine & Leonor) start and finish school. Only possible if you either know a lot of people and can arrange/share things or you run and deal with it. Somehow. On some days only one of us could do the school run, and it was a literal run sprint. Dropping off the two monkeys at breakfast club, running for the bus and being juuuuuuust on time at the big girl school (she was actually late by two minutes one day and was so scared. We learned that a 2nd time in the same week would have led to detention). With the tiniest monkey always on tow of course. Because we were still looking for a nursery spot.
And then the afternoons. Same scenario. We could add some clubs, library excursions and such to help a bit but it was always a run. A run against the clock. So exhausting.

In between I was looking after Josephine, work, e mails, paperwork and uniform shopping. I made to do lists for every single day.

And there was Christmas coming up. Not an event you can just ignore or cancel, especially not with kids and somehow it really stressed me out. And I am not a stressed person in general. But the thought of not having the right gifts and the need to maybe go last minute shopping was somehow frightening. Another list was prepared and every time I was out buying uniforms, at the bank or other places I also had a quick look at some shops and started gift shopping. I managed to order their wish list priorities and the list started to look ok. Phew! I even ordered our Christmas tree online to save some time. And kept it a surprise until the delivery guy rang the bell. Oh their faces…. hahaha.

Hot tip: November is a terrible month to move. We did this once before and somehow forgot about a rule we made back then: Do not move in November. Because the weather is not helping to lift your mood! In the contrary.

Christmas time in London is amazing. And one of the reasons I missed about big city life was definitely the choices you have. Especially the cultural ones. And so we did squeeze in a few things like Kew Gardens or the Gingerbread expo at the V&A. And they were great and kept us going.

Work: Once the kids were sleeping I finally could ‘really’ work. At least it was quiet and I could concentrate. But I was tired as well and really had to motivate myself. Which led to very short nights and very unsettled nights. I could not really unwind and just relax. Sometimes I was up until 3 or something because I could not sleep. So there is a moment where you turn into functioning. Like a robot really.

Which meant: No partnership time. Or very little. And this is hard, not healthy and became an issue. All in all I really felt like I was running every day and that my head was always preoccupied. Tired and with no patience at all. Not a good thing when parenting! Weekends really just slipped away and were more busy than any other days.

By the way: I checked the health app on my phone and I walked/ ran approx. 10km every day, those days. With a toddler in a stroller in front of me. All the time. Who also needed attention, be fed and kept entertained. She did a great job really and was super to come along and be cool. She did not have a big choice but she could have gone on a strike. And who could have blamed her…

Another conclusion: Those weeks/ months definitely included too much TV, phones and computers. And now we still pay for it. Things are starting to slow down a little right now. And we need to reverse those screen time sessions into occasional moments again. Not easy!

Today: All four children changed schools. Which is a good thing BUT also meant that I was out uniform shopping A G A I N because, of course, they had all different colours and even needed different shoes. Oh the joy. Some more paperwork, visiting the new schools and so on… tick tock!

But:

Romy – likes her new, art specialised, school and made friends on her very first day there. YAY! One friend lives close to us and they go to school together every day. Double yay.

Antoine & Leonor – are in the school that is a 2min walk from our house. Oh the bliss. I never imagined that this would be possible. Especially not in London. 2 min!

Josephine – she started nursery in A’s & L’s old school and changed to the nursery in the new, close by school, after the winter break. So we have the 3 youngest in one spot. I still have to get used to the nurseries and their regulations here in the UK, a chapter on its own.

We are still dealing with HMRC and child care and it really is a very long and exhausting story that has cost me a lot of time, nerves and even money. In short: Because I am so new to the country I am not eligible to deal with them online. (hello 2019!) Therefore I have to call them for everything and had to send in two rounds of identity proof. Still waiting to hear back after the latest snail mail. Wow. Just wow!
I do miss Sweden and their efficiency. There was literally an app for everything and you just did ‘tap tap’ and finger print. And done! Boom!

Yesterday we spent a whole day outside. And that felt so good. We had a nice lunch in the pub and a big long walk in Hampstead Heath. It was cold but beautiful and really cleared our heads.

What else:

Our new place is smaller than the beautiful flat we had in Sweden. We knew that before but of course, one has to get used to it too. I am actually planning on writing an article about it because it shows and teaches you a few things as well. Interested? We like the house and chose it because we felt very ‘at home’ when we visited.

At the end of 2018 I realised that I was at my very limit. Actually over limit. And I did not want to keep up with the ‘pressure to be fine’ anymore. And I couldn’t. I am selecting very carefully now what I do and when. If it is possible and if it is good for me as well.
Since we are new here as well, there are no close friends around. Nobody to call by surprise and go for a coffee or lunch and rant. Or just change your mind and talk about something completely different. Something I am working on, slowly.

For the first time, I really feel like: No more moving!

Oh well, I hope that you could follow all that I write down. It is a bit of a wirr warr. But so is my head. Thank you for listening :)

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15.10.18

A very happy 6th rainbow birthday party

Paul&Paul: rainbow birthday party

My dear Leonor turned 6 at the end of September and we made sure to host a glorious party for her.

As per request, it was all about rainbows!
She says that she loves rainbows and that they make her happy. She thinks that they are pretty (I agree) and that there should be more rainbows in the world. So we brought a lot of them to our home for at least one day…

She was very specific about the cake situation as well: On her actual birthday, she wanted a rainbow cake. A beautiful layered cake that was baked and decorated with love by her big sister (who looooves baking).

And for the party, she asked for rainbow cupcakes. So the big sister was in the kitchen again and produced beautiful cupcakes in all the colours of the rainbow. (trust me, she wanted a break from baking after all of that!)

And because it is Monday and it is good to talk about parties and rainbows to start a new week, I am sharing a few pictures from her lovely party.

 

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Paul&Paul: rainbow birthday party

Paul&Paul: rainbow birthday party

Paul&Paul: rainbow birthday party

Paul&Paul: rainbow birthday party

Party Program:

We started with some playtime until all the invited children arrived.
Then we had lunch: Pasta! I made 3 different pasta shapes and 3 different sauces. Nothing super fancy and really just to make it more fun. We had butterfly pasta as well as fussili and penne. And then I had made a bolognese sauce, a tomato – no meat- sauce, and pesto. To top, we had Parmesan and normal cheese.
The kids really enjoyed choosing their personal dish and were happily munching around the table.

Then we served the cupcakes!

Paul&Paul: rainbow birthday party

Paul&Paul: rainbow birthday party

Paul&Paul: rainbow birthday party

After the food:

First, we did a few rounds of dance-stop. We played a song, the kids danced and once you stop the music everyone has to stand still. Good thing after sitting down!

Then we pinned some clouds on the rainbow. We printed a rainbow and two clouds. We put the rainbow on a cupboard and put some glue tag on the clouds. Every child got their eyes blindfolded and had to try to put the clouds as good as possible on the end of the rainbow. The other children could help and give directions.

Next up was ‘spin the bottle’, for opening the birthday gifts!

Paul&Paul: rainbow birthday party

Paul&Paul: rainbow birthday party

Paul&Paul: rainbow birthday party

Finale:

The pinata! No birthday in our house without a pinata :)

The filling is part of the goodie bags children receive when going home. I put some little pencils and tiny bottles filled with pearls and glitter in the bags beforehand too.

My girl had a lot of fun and so did her friends. Personally, I love this kind of easy and relaxed parties best. Because in the end, it is all about having your friends around you to celebrate your special day!

Paul&Paul: rainbow birthday party

Rainbow Party Set: Meri Meri (gifted)
Beautiful corduroy dress: As we grow (gifted)
Adorable leather shoes: Yaya Lala

 

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14.09.18

How to live more sustainable as a family – top tips!

Paul&Paula: How to live more sustainable as a family - tips
The word ‘sustainable’ seems to be everywhere at the moment. Everything, everyone and everywhere is sustainable. And as I absolutely agree that we should think about our impact on the environment and our future, I wonder if we all know what it actually means?

What does being sustainable mean?  Sustainable family living? And how much do we or should we do to provoke change? Because sustainable, in an environmental field, actually means ‘using methods that do not harm the environment so that natural resources are still available in the future’.

The whole going vegan thing actually became a topic out of this. Because livestock and dairy production are the second highest contributors to atmosphere – altering gases. Livestock/ dairy products cause huge air and water pollution. And just as an example: It takes more than 9500 liters of water to produce just 500 gr of meat. You can save more water by not eating that meat than you can by not showering for six months!
And since vegetarians still consume a lot of animal products (eggs, cheese, butter, milk…) we did decide to go for vegan directly.

Joseph Poore said:
‘A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use, and water use.’

But today I do not want to talk about diets (again), I want to talk about things we as a family do, to live more sustainable. Because there are a lot of little things that altogether can make a difference. And if we all contribute something, we can achieve something too. (And also because some people asked me about…)

We have four children in our home and of course, we want them to grow up in a green world. And we want them to understand that little things do help and their decisions can make a difference. Which goes the other way around as well. Not paying attention to small things that do harm our world, do make a difference as well. Unfortunately not a good one. Something to keep in mind and to remind people who still believe that their -sole- impact would not help to make our world a better place!

Things like turning off the lights when leaving the room are no ‘shocking news’ anymore and we probably heard that phrase since we were teens. But there is more and talking with your children and asking them for ideas and input is a great way to implicate some more ways in a more sustainable family living.

Here is a list of things we do in our family. I am sure that you already do some/ most of them but maybe there are one or two that inspire you to adapt:

Home cooked food!

I love to cook and currently I am super excited to try out quite a few new recipes from the vegan blogs and books of this world. Cooking your own food instead of packaged meals is better because processed food is resource-intensive to produce and unhealthy to boot as well. It includes that we do shop local ingredients – last time I saw herbs coming from someplace in Africa, totally unnecessary – as much as possible and we also go with the seasons. (no strawberry tart in December!)

Waterbottles to water plants!

When the kids come home from school and empty their backpacks, the water bottles are often not 100% empty. Instead of emptying the water down the drain we use it to water our plants. With four kids this really adds up over a week and then think about a term…

Laundry check!

Instead of just putting everything into the laundry basket, we ask the children to double check their clothes. Not talking about underwear and socks, but jeans and cardigans are often fine for another round.

More about laundry!

Laundry uses a lot of water and a lot of products. First: Ditch fabric softener.
Next: 90% of the energy used to wash your clothes goes to heating water. Most washing powders clean just well in cold water as they do in hot.
Only wash with full loads because the use of water and energy is nearly the same for a machine that is only filled half.

Buying eco/ organic!

Next, to buying seasonal and local, we do buy organic. A few points why organic is better:
Organic farmers build soil with natural fertilizers in order to grow crops. They rely on the natural enemies of pests
and use crop rotation to conserve soil. Which means that more animals and plants can live in the same place in a natural way. Organic farming makes without the use of synthetic inputs, including synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, plant growth regulators, nanomaterials and genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).

Recycle envelopes!

Snail mail is less these days but we still get some official letters and other stuff. The envelopes are great for writing down to-do lists, shopping lists or just as general note papers.

Fabric napkins!

No more paper towels or paper napkins. Fabric it is and it looks so much nice on the table too.

Reusable shopping bags!

I always have a reusable bag in my handbag. You just never know when you may need it…
We have a drawer full of cotton bags that everyone uses for shopping, bringing things to school and so on.

No straws!

Long-lasting clothes.

You know that I believe very much in the whole ‘quality over quantity’ thing when it comes to clothes. For the whole family. Invest a little more in timeless, long lasting clothes – better for the environment as well as your bank account in the long run!
I recommend this article to you.

Separate waste!

Separation of waste allows for efficient reuse and recycling. An example: When waste is not separated properly it leads to less recycling and many resources may be wasted. And you can help by starting segregating the waste in your own house.

Reduce waste!

Seeing the points above already helps to reduce waste. Even separating helps because it shows you so clearly how much there really is. Other examples of how to reduce waste: Ditch plastic bags, make meal plans and shop accordingly, buy in bulk for less packaging or choose products that can be refilled. Just a few and actually a topic well worth a post on its own.

Soap bars instead of plastic bottles!

Buy soap instead of shower gels in plastic bottles. Even shampoo comes in form of bars now…

Cycle!

We do not own a car and we are not planning to get one either. If we really need one we can always rent one and I believe that carpools and car sharing are getting more and more popular.

Tap water!

Yes, here in Sweden the tap water is excellent. And so it is in many other countries. And you can always go for a filter too… just do avoid buying water in plastic bottles.

Reusable containers!

For snacks, lunch etc…

Purchase energy efficient appliances!

If you need a new machine, make sure it is energy efficient. Same goes for light bulbs.

Plant seeds!

Or even more, if you have space. Like I said – every little thing helps.

Natural cleaning products!

Use the most natural cleaning products you can. Vinegar, for example, is a great cleaner.

Do you have tips to share? We want to hear them in the comments…

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05.09.18

Becoming a vegan family and a weekly meal plan

Paul & Paula: vegan-family story and weekly meal plan

After the very late travel guides, our relocation news as well as my opinion on the current kids fashion business, I am here to share something very new going on in our family: Vegan!

Just one word but so much behind it. I shared a little bit on my Instagram and received lots of great feedback as well as questions. And the demand for meal ideas and such was quite big. And since I am already busy to share more private stuff again, I will give you some insight into our Vegan life.

Disclaimer: I am not on a mission to convert you to become a vegan! :)

How did it start?

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Now, I have been really very interested and also concerned when it comes to food and nutrition for the last 8 years. Reading books (started with the Wheat Belly back then) and watching lots of documentaries. I mean, we can be so happy to have easy access to all the literature, researches and shows. It really makes everything so much easier and quicker. I did periods with no sugar and now wheat. Sometimes both at the same time. We eat a lot of veggies and had meat twice a week – max. Then we watched Cowspiracy, strange enough I thought we did watch it and hubby reminded me that we did in fact not. And something pulled the trigger and I said: OK, let’s do one week vegan when we come back from our holidays. Just to see! And that is how it started…
I would like to add that it is definitely a little overwhelming in the beginning. There is a lot of info out there, good as well as false. But once you get interested and invested you will find your path. Trust me!

Movies and documentaries that I can recommend:

What the Health, Cowspiracy, Food Inc., Fat, Live and let live, Forks over knives, Food Choices

What did the kids say?

Our children are really very open and cool about this kind of things. Travelers and explorers since birth and always with the rule: Try before you don’t like it.
So when I told them about our ‘project’ and also why, they were really pretty cool about it.
Since we started we discussed quite a few things about animals, meat and the impact on our environment as well as the treatment of those animals.
For starters we did not change their diets during school hours! For three of them this means that vegan is happening only at home. Antoine on the other side decided to also skip meats and dairy at school.

We asked them for feedback on meals, what they think is hard, how we can be more sustainable in general (I will write another post about this soon!) and what they miss. So that they felt involved and heard.

Then what?

I started to google meal plans but quickly realised that there was no ‘perfect plan’ that fitted our family. So I had to prepare our own. And googled for recipes. Had a look at the ingredients, how quick they are to make and then decided if it could work for us on a week day. That is why I am sharing our first weekly meal plan with you here today as well. Maybe you will find it helpful – let me know!

Important to note:

Vegan does not equal healthy. Meaning that buying everything with the vegan label at your local supermarket might not be the best of ideas. Because those can also be will be mostly processed, full of sugar and strange ingredients.
That is something I wanted and want to avoid. Vegan for me, us, means fresh and plant based.

 

Paul & Paula: Vegan family story and weekly meal plan

Tips from our start into the Vegan lifestyle:

Plan ahead, make a list for your grocery shopping and search for recipes that you feel confident to cook. And that will most likely please your crowd.

Cook more. You need leftovers for easy lunch meals!

Experiment, enjoy raw cakes (Oh I love them so much!) and discover that cooking vegan does not have to be tricky. Oh and the colours in your fridge will make you glow before you even start cooking…

What happened after one week:

Yes, we said we will try for one week. Well, after that was up I just decided to add another week. Because one week feels like you did not really experience it. Things just start to kick in… so two weeks is better to see the effects.
So we added another week and the kids were fine with that.
And after two weeks we all sat together after breakfast and discussed what to do next. Antoine came up with the idea to keep the vegan until we go to London and look for houses, which adds two additional weeks.
Personally: I cannot imagine going back to eat meat. Even dairy products. It feels strange to say no to it, eliminate it for a couple of weeks and then roast a chicken again. And I really enjoy the recipes and do not feel like I am missing out on anything. On the contrary…

So, here is my very first meal plan on Paul & Paula. Vegan, printable (just click on it and print) and really full of excellent meals for a family. And below I will share the links to the recipes and also write something for each day. Some feedback, because we did make and eat all of those meals (promise!) and little add-ons and tips:

Paul & Paula: weekly vegan family meal plan

Monday:

Smoothie Bowl – in case you are new to the concept: Put the yoghurt, a box of frozen fruit (we love raspberries) and a cup of plant milk in a food processor and mix until smooth. Scoop into bowls and sprinkle with fresh banana slices and a vegan muesli.

Salad – easy and nutritious.

Curryfrom Jamie.  Easy, quick to prepare and perfect for Autumn. My kids love curries and this was a hit!

Tuesday:

Oatmeal – cooked with oat milk and topped with fruits of your choice. Or a home made apple sauce, which my kids love and I try to make often.

Lunch – you can exchange the hard bread with your favourite. Just top it with hummus, some veggies and herbs. Salt and pepper and enjoy.

Zoodles – Zoodles are courgettes made into noodles. In our house only Romy likes them so I make normal, egg free, pasta for the others. A classic tomato sauce (passatta & veggies basically) and topped with vegan parmesan. Sounds strange I know, but this stuff really is yummy!

Wednesday:

Toast – easy. Kids love it and it keeps you full for a long time. I always opt for a wheat free version but you do what you prefer.

Lunch – leftover from yesterday. Yay! Easy.

Vegan chili – basically a chili sin carne. Served with vegan creme fraiche, cilantro and a good dose of Tabasco for me. (not the kids!) This is a great dish to cook a huge pot and freeze for busy days! The kids love it!

Prepare: You need to prepare your Chia pudding for breakfast tomorrow tonight!

Thursday:

Chia – how I make it: 1/3 cup of chia seeds, a box of extra smooth coconut milk (not the cans where the cream sticks at the top) with a dash of organic vanilla extract. Put all ingredients in a jug, mix very well and let sit in the fridge overnight. In the morning you serve it in bowls (it is very filling!) with fresh fruit on top – I love it with berries.

Lunch – leftover from yesterday. Yay! Easy.

Falafel – my kids love falafel! Falafel recipe and garden salad. I love to have a yoghurt sauce with my falafels and I make it like this: Soy yoghurt, fresh lemon juice, fresh herbs (whatever I have in the kitchen – cilantro, mint, parsley…) and maybe a few tiny cubes of cucumber. Salt and pepper, mix and done.

Prepare: Get your Banana puddings ready for tomorrow’s breakfast.

Friday:

Breakfast – just needs to get out of the fridge and on the table today!

Lunch – leftover from yesterday. Yay! Easy.

Burrito – I made these Vegan Burritos and again a sauce that goes like this: Oat yoghurt, ½ avocado, garlic, cilantro, salt & fresh lemon juice. In a mixer and mixed until smooth. Another dish the children enjoyed.

Saturday:

Pancakes – it is Saturday and we serve delicious pancakes. And these are the bomb. Healthy, fluffy and so easy to make. I admit that I did not make the apple/pecan thingy but we had some maple syrup, cinnamon and fresh fruits to top.

Avocado – on toast. My kids love it and it is one of the dishes we had regularly before too. So easy and great after the pancakes this morning…

Diner – Chips is potato wedges baked in the oven and the vegan balls. The balls were not a huge hit (trying a different recipe this week!) but they were not that bad either. I liked them and so did hubby. On Saturdays we like to have a sweet dessert so we made these Chocolate Pots. Just make sure to get very smooth tofu for this one.

SnackStrawberry Oat Bars.

Prepare: Banana bread for tomorrow’s breakfast. I am lucky because Romy, 11, loves to bake and she prepares lots of our desserts and stuff like banana breads etc.

Sunday:

Banana bread – this recipe is really good and topping it with some nut butter is truly delicious. Especially on a Sunday morning…

Soup – super easy and great to cook extra for lunch tonorrow. Tomato soup is a favourite in our house anyway.

Stuffed Peppers – not everyone liked the stuffed peppers but they all loved the rice in them.

SnackVegan cookies.

 

So, I hope you liked this. Soon I will report about ‘Phase Two’ and another meal plan if you like!

 

All images & meal plan: Paul & Paula

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