Saturday, 28 March 2015

Earth Hour Tonight

(Image from the Earth Hour website)

Tonight, from 8:30 to 9:30, is Earth Hour; There are events happening all over the world.  Many iconic buildings, including Big Ben and Edinburgh Castle will be switching their lights off for an hour.

Turning the lights off for an hour is a symbolic form of protest against climate change which will go much further than the one hour.  

As a family we try to tread lightly on this earth.  There are things we do well and things we don't, things we haven't thought about yet and things we need a bit of guidance about.  I don't dwell on all the things we don't do but instead take baby steps and make small changes to our life style  as and when we feel ready.  I think when you take some time out to think about the problem it can feel too enormous, too over whelming; in the past this has made me retreat back into my cave with the attitude 'my small changes won't make a difference so I won't bother!  If I ever feel like that now I am reminded by this lovely quote:

'Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.'

(Edmund Burke 1729 - 1797) 

I won't be going to any earth hour events but I have decided to use the hour to reflect on some small changes that we could make this coming year that could help climate change. On my list at the moment would be 

  • To start composting again.  Our compost bin became full of bind weed last year and we still haven't sorted this out!
  • To attach our water but to the pipe.  We have been intending to do this for over two years.
  • To start using ALL our left over food.
  • Address the drafts in our house in order for us to put the heating on slightly less.

As I said there is still so much I want to change I see it as a process that involves some trial and error.  Moral Fibres is an excellent blog which provides so many resources for people trying to make some changes in order to live a greener life.  If you need a bit of inspiration about making some small changes, and you don't already know the blog,  I urge you get acquainted. 


Friday, 27 March 2015

Left over porridge pancakes

I thought we were pretty good with food waste in our house.  I'm pretty good at cooking with leftovers, in fact I relish the challenge.  After looking at the Love Food Hate Waste website however, I realised that there was way more we could be doing; Some committed zero wasters are freezing left over gravy in ice cube trays (genius idea), whilst i'm flushing it down the toilet!  

I came across left over porridge pancakes a few years ago at a Vegetarian food festival.  I often have a little bit of porridge left over but never quite enough to go to the effort of making these pancakes.  So this week I saved any left over porridge I had over the week (yes I can feel you cringing!) and made pancakes on Saturday.  They were amazing, I chucked in a handful of chia seeds and served with frozen British berries (thrifty and easier on the planet) and this sloe syrup that I made a while back (still going strong).  They were great, even my oat shy daughter got in on  the action.

You will need: 

1 1/2 tea cup full of left over porridge
3 1/4 tea cup full of milk (I used Soya milk)
1 egg 
1/2 tea cup of plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 x table spoons of oil

How to make:

  1. Put the porridge in a mixing bowl and slowly add to milk.  Next add a beaten egg.
  2. Sift the flour into a separate and mix with the baking powder and salt, before stirring into the porridge mixture
  3. Pre heat the frying pan, I cooked these on a highish heat, cooking one side until some bubbles rise and the I flipped them over.  
Make sure the pan doesn't may need to turn the heat down after a while. 


Saturday, 21 March 2015

Ladybird by Design

Last month we visited the Ladybird by Design exhibition at the beautiful De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill.  

(Image source from flicker)

I was particularly taken with the 'shopping with mother' art work it was so striking and also so comforting.  The mother and her two children are immaculately turned out in sensible shoes and coats and their hair is perfectly styled.  The mother carries a small wicker basket in which she effortlessly carries everything she needs. The children seem content and all the shops have amazing signage.  So different to my shopping trips with Frieda in which mine and Frieda's hair is typically very messy, I have bags under my eyes and Frieda wears garish pink trainers. Frieda often has a meltdown because I won't buy her a shiny plastic piece of crap that has been placed at her level, I consider buying the shiny piece of crap, I then feel guilty that I even considered this and swear never to return to said shop, leaving me with an ever diminishing list of shops that I will actually go in.  

Before visiting Bexhill for this exhibition I googled to find out if the charity shops were open on Sunday, they were not so we decided to go on Saturday as both me and my partner really like the charity shops in Bexhill.  And as I was doing my research I came across this article in the Daily Mail Is Bexhill the charity shop capital of Britain?.  The article claims that many independent retailers have gone out of business because charities have an unfair advantage.  Because obviously if the charity shops disappeared it would be a level playing field for independent shops who would be able to thrive amongst the large high-street companies , some of whom don't pay their taxes. (I jest)  It being an article from the Daily Mail I didn't take too much notice of it but it did get me thinking again about the way we shop. I really don't think charity shops are the answer to ethical fashion.  I actually think they can contribute to our hunger for cheap fast fashion.  I know that I have used them to pick up slightly off trend items cheaply, wear them a few times, send them back to charity only to repeat the process. I myself am getting increasing frustrated by the sea of Primark in the charity shops.  I am trying to change my consumption habits, whereby I buy less and save up to buy good quality items that will last me a long time.  There will always be a place in my heart for charity shops, they do a great job, they are good for the community and provide valuable work experience and I will continue to use them.  Second hand shopping has always been part of our buying, selling and trading culture and I hope that long may it thrive.  We desperately need to change our consumption habits though. If we consumed less poor quality fast fashion items there simply wouldn't be as many charity shops and we wouldn't have to wade through the sea of Primark to get to the goodies!    

Gosh what a tangent I went off on!  Back to the subject of Ladybird by Design.  It's a fabulous nostalgic exhibition.  It's free! (but obviously we want to support the amazing work of the De La Warr Pavilion so you can leave a donation but it's always nice to be able to give what you can afford rather than have prices dictated) Bexhill is a lovely quiet seaside town to visit. Oh and did I mention that there are a lot of charity shops to visit? 


Saturday, 14 March 2015

WOW festival 2015

Last weekend I was lucky enough to have a little time off from the everyday and visit a great friend and attend the Women of the World festival at London's South Bank.  After two weeks of sleepless nights, due to those pesky molars, I was exhausted and if someone had asked me what would help me I would have replied sleep.  As it so happened sleep wasn't the answer; what I really needed was to have my senses aroused by some almighty amazing and thought provoking talks, workshops, visuals and comedy.  A late night catching up with a friend and a stimulating, emotional thought provoking next day at the WOW left me feeling alive.....sleep is not always the answer!

I started to call myself a feminist when I was 19.  Feminism has stayed with me ever since. It's burnt bright at some points in my life and at other points it's been there somewhere bubbling under the surface.  Being a mother it seems strong and bright again.  I can't lie I was over the moon to have a daughter, I couldn't wait to share with her the absolute joy of being a female. I do however sometimes look at her and am touched with a little sadness.  I see the joy she inhabits in her body, the proud nature in which she gleefully shows off her protruding belly and I feel sad to think that inevitably one day she won't feel the same joy about her body; she will feel too fat, or too skinny, too flat chested or too tall.   And I know men are not immune from these simplified rigid image ideals either; I overheard a very depressing conversation at work amongst some male colleagues feeling the need to bulk up using growth hormones and protein powders.  It's the age old conventional image we are sold of men being big and therefore the protectors and providers and women are small and need to be protected.  

I was too overwhelmed to take many photos on the day.  This week I have been taking a few moments to reflect on the weekend, I have watched few documentaries over on the iplayer under the category of  Extraordinary Women  and have been pondering about where I see my feminism taking me in the future.  One things for sure I very much hope to attend WOW 2016. 

I thought I would leave you with 10 books by female authors that have totally inspired me. These are not feminist books per se but books written by women that had a huge impact on me.  There were so many others I could have chose and so many books I want to read.  

Possessing the Secret of Joy - I read this book aged 20.  I had never come across FGM before.  This book shocked me I mean really shocked me.  I couldn't believe something as brutal as FGM existed in my life time.  I actually feel quite naive that I had no knowledge of FGM up until the age of 20  

Spiritual Midwifery - I read this when I was pregnant.  It empowered me and made me feel very positive about giving birth.  It celebrates the beauty and power of women's bodies. Be warned the pictures are very much of their time (1970's) I thought this added to it's charm!

The Awakening -  First published in 1899 this is seen as a landmark in early feminism.  The novel focuses on the central characters struggle to conform to the prevailing social attitudes of femininity and motherhood.  .

Blues Legacies and Black Feminism - I adore the work of Angela Y Davis, I could have chosen any of her writing.  This book challenges traditional narratives of the art form that is traditionally associated with men and celebrates these pioneering sisters contribution to feminism through their openness to taboo subjects and undermining male control of the body.   

Good Morning Midnight - Again it was hard to decide which Jean Rhys novel, I love them all.  Set in the 1930's Paris this story looks at a single women's struggle to emancipate herself.  The sense of loneliness and dejection hang around this novel all the way through.

The Yellow Wall -Paper - Short and powerful this short story deals with mental illness and the lack of life women had outside the home

Ain't I a Woman Black Women and Feminism - This book examines the effect of racism and sexism on black women in America from slavery to civil rights and is a really good introduction to this topic.  It looks at how the Women's movement often forgot their poor or non white sisters.

Disappearing Daughters - I read this when I was in India, a place where I was constantly surrounded by a sea of men.  I found myself often asking where are all the women? Obviously many would have been in the house but this book gave some other reasons and made for a chilling read.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - An uplifting, despite it's difficult themes, autobiography. It charts Angelou's journey to empowerment and self determination. 

How to be a Woman - A laugh out loud book covering all the important topics.  Now that I have so little time for reading I like a book that is thought provoking and makes me laugh, a book that fulfils a few needs in one shot.

Their Eyes were Watching God - This is my favourite book of all time.  Zadie Smith articulates it's beauty far better than I ever could. 'For me , Their eyes were watching God is one of the greatest American novels of the 20th century.  It is so lyrical it should be sentimental; it is so passionate it should be overwrought, but it is instead a rigorous, convincing and dazzling piece of prose, as emotionally satisfying as it is impressive. There is no novel I love more.'

(All book cover images taken from Good Reads )

Did anyone else celebrate International Women's Day?


Tuesday, 3 March 2015

And that was February

After a very slow January, I was quickly brought out of my slumber in February.  Ideally I would have liked to slowly come to life this month but with an anniversary, Frieda's birthday, a trip to see my parents and some serious house painting going on it was not to be; And so I was woken with a jolt. February has been short and busy and I have barley a moment for any sort of reflection and sometimes in life that's just what you need.

There has been snow drops, and sunshine, mountain views, hedgehogs and hearts, a good month indeed.

I must clarify, in case you were a little perplexed, these are obviously not mountains and are actually the beautiful hills of the South Downs.  We took Frieda up here and she thought we were in the mountains.  My partner, used to 'real' Scottish hills, looked bemused by the statement 'we're in the mountains' but myself used to the flat plains of the fens quite agreed. 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

The Hedgehog Crayon

I have a whole host of craft ideas to make pinned on my pinterest board, pins I never get round to making, pins really intended for a different life....a life where I have more time.  Last week however I found myself  with a couple of spare hours and I finally made something I have been meaning to make for yonks now.  Drum roll please....And here we have the hedgehog crayon.

You will need:
  • A stash of broken crayons (I had a load and then put a shout out on freegle and ended up with a million!)
  • An old pan (I used one that the bottom panel had come away meaning it took a bit longer for the crayons to heat.
  • A silicone ice cube tray.
  • An old jug 

Melt the crayons in batches of colours moving from light to dark (this means you won't have to clear the pan out between colour changes)  My crayons took about 1 minute to melt.  I melted the crayons on a medium heat.

Leave the crayons to set for about 20 to 30 minutes before popping out and hey presto you will have a brand new crayon from a bunch of old.

You can clean the pan using white spirit but I actually just managed to peel off the wax using a knife.

A word of note- I planned to make a whole set of woodland animal friends.  As hard as I tried i could not make squirrels or rabbits, those pesky animals with their thin fiddly ears and tails.  From looking on pinterest I think this only really works with more block like shapes the hedgehog worked great and it seems hearts and fatter stars do too.  I said I had a couple of hours for this I actually became obsessed and worked well in to the night trying to get a rabbit and a squirrel but they defeated me.

I'm now obsessed and have set up a full blow crayon factory in my house. Friends of mine with children - It is likely your children will receive a jar of recycled crayons at some celebration in their lives!

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