Lenten Thoughts

I am so happy to have given up all the things it is recommended you give up while pregnant (goodbye pate, Brie, goats cheese, liver, gin, sigh….) but at the same time it does feel like I have given up a lot of my usual little pleasures. 

Rather than think of one more thing to give up this Lent, we decided to look at it from a slightly different angle. Instead of giving up one thing consistently, we decided to look for bad habits in our household we could replace with better ones. There rarely seems to be enough time to slow down and think properly, and some things I end up doing in automatic pilot. So this Lent, I’ll be trying to be a bit more conscious in the choices I make for our little household.

The first one which spring easily to mind was milk, we get through a fair amount with three of us, and me a big tea drinker. All that milk comes in plastic bottles which we do recycle…but I’d like to try another way. I have signed us up for milk deliveries in glass bottles. The immediate thing I noticed was it is quite a but more expensive than buying from the supermarket. I had planned to switch to organic as well, but I don’t think my budget will easily stretch to it, so I’ll look to buy a mix. At the end of Lent I’ll need to decide if the extra cost is worth the convenience, and also reducing our plastic output.

Leading on from this, I was horrified to find that nearly all the teabags available to buy are sealed using a thermal plastic. The Co-Op is the first to announce they are phasing this out, and other manufacturers are apparently working on developing plastic free bags….but until then, next time I need to buy tea, I’ll be buying leaves. You can compost teabags, but the idea of all that plastic breaking down into tiny particles and getting into our ecosystem…well I’ll just say I wish I had known about this years ago.

Toilet roll is something else on my list, and this time it is a nice easy switch, to buying only that which is made with recycled paper.

Cling film is another thing I want to do away with. When I stop to think, I can’t believe how easily conditioned we are to use products like this. I want to have a go at making my own beeswax wraps, but I also saw some fabric sandwich wraps I want to buy. They are laminated in a kind of plastic, but they are not single use, and it is single use and non-recyclable plastic that I really have in my sights here.

I was thinking of buying some reusable straws until several people pointed out they are hard to clean. Instead, I’ll be popping a pack of paper straws into my bag for when we are out and about and we order a drink for Jessica. 

So much of our power as consumers comes from how and where we spend our money, so I’ll be voting for how I want the world to be with how I spend my housekeeping. Where I can I’ll be looking to buy fair trade, and we’ll be eating less meat but better quality meat and making it go further. I’ll be using as many local and/or independent shops as I can.

I’ll be thinking about other swaps and changes we can make as we journey through Lent, and I hope we will find plenty of them stay with us after Lent has ended. 

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Pancakes On A Freezing February Tuesday

It is quite a week, this week. Shrove Tuesday today, Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day tomorrow, and Chinese New Year on Friday!

I had work, Carl had work, and Jessica had preschool, so we had pancakes for pudding this evening instead of breakfast. (Every now and then, while eating her dinner, Jessica will pause and put her head slightly on one side before asking ‘and what is for my little pudding tonight Mummy?’)

A few weeks ago I tried out a new recipe for the ‘rolly up’ crepe style pancakes. It came from BBC Good Food magazine…and was horrible. Maybe it is a case of liking what you are used to, but they were very eggy, so I will be sticking with my tried, tested and trusted recipe which I first came across in Nigella Lawson’s first recipe book.

‘Rolly Up’ Pancakes

120g plain flour

1 egg

300ml milk

I put everything into my little blender, whizz up into a batter, and then fry in hot pan.

Jessica likes hers with lemon and sugar, Carl likes his with chocolate spread and banana. This year I joined Carl, but oftentimes at breakfast I’ll join Jessica.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Our celebrations are simple but heartfelt. Cards, token gifts, but most importantly, time spent together.

I have a lovely book for Jessica for tomorrow, called Under My Love Umbrella. It is so sweet, basically telling your child that wherever they go, there is an invisible umbrella of love over them. I can’t wait to read it to her tomorrow.

I feel in need of a love umbrella today. Yesterday I had a phone call from the hospital…we had to go in and see the screening nurse as our scan and blood test from last week shows that we are at a higher risk of having a baby affected by Downs Syndrome. Sadly the only tests available on the NHS carry a risk of miscarriage. Luckily there is a completely safe blood test we can pay to have done privately. It is expensive, almost a month’s rent, but I feel really strongly that I need to know, and that I can’t do anything that could put this precious little one at risk.

Frivolous February Friday

What a lovely Friday it has been so far. I took Jessica to a Bach To Baby concert this morning. We used to go often, but haven’t been for a year or so, and it was so much more relaxing now she is a little older. The programmes was a lovely piano recital, and she recognised one of the songs from watching Melody which was a nice connection for her. We took her patchwork blanket for her to sit on, and she just loved it. She sat and listened, she got up and danced, she clapped excitedly. And for one dreamy song she came and put her arms round me and just swayed from side to side. I think we will make a point of going again next month.

And now she is at preschool, what an afternoon I have had to myself. I walked into town and got a new mascara (as advised by the lovely Janine from In Love With Colour in this post) and as there was an offer on, got a new red lipstick too…even better I was in Boots somI paid with my Advantage card points, so they didn’t cost me anything. Then I walked to the covered market and bought a potted snowdrop for our seasonal table. On impulse I dropped into the library and found an Elizabeth Jane Howard that I haven’t read yet, and also a Rosamunde Pilcher. I also caught up with several old friends who still work there. On the way home I dropped into a couple more shops, and then when I got home I set up the coffee table with a tray and pot of steaming hot tea, a beeswax candle, and a vase of daffodils. Now I am sitting and drinking my tea and watching Nigel Slater and thinking it has been a very indulgent Friday…and I feel very good for it.

Triple Rainbow

After two and a half years, three lost angel babies, and many, many days when I lost hope, I feel blessed to share that if all continues to go well, in August we should be joined by our rainbow baby.

If you are reading this and struggling to conceive, missing your own angel babies, or have an aching heart…you are in my heart and thoughts, and I hope that one day you will be as lucky as us.

Snowdrops, Daffodils, And A Surprise

This weekend it was cold but bright, that perfect combination that we are so often blessed with as the end of winter slowly turns into the start of spring. We really don’t have enough names for the seasons. Their blurring as two seasons dance together, as one fades and another blooms is more perfect to me than one season in full glory.

In the park, the green shoots of the daffodils are starting to appear. I have had vases of them in the house and on Jessica’s bedside table since January, but it is lovely to see the first harbingers of them growing outside.

The bank on the far side of the river which winds through the park is covered with tiny pinpricks which the coming days will see become crocuses.

On the way home from work, I walk through and underpass which goes under and through a roundabout. At one point, just above your head there is a patch of grass. When I glanced up last week, the snowdrops were out. How I love the snowdrops. They seem to me to herald so many lovely things.

Chilly cold walks, steaming pots of tea, air that smells of snow, those first stirrings that spring will be along soon.

On Sunday, Carl went out for a walk. Then came the phone call…to say he had done something impulsive…

Here is the impulsive thing he did!

This is Amy (Jessica named her), a little blue budgie who is singing away as I write. Jessica was delighted to see her! And once over the surprise of having Amy come to live with us, I have grown rather fond of her too.

Ten Years On

Mondays are our lovely day, we have no obligations or appointments, just a day to fill with happy memories together. We often start our morning at story hour at our branch of Foyles (and today was no different). It is lovely to have stretches of time to say ‘yes’ in rather than ‘not this morning, we have to be at preschool in half an hour’ or similar. So when Jessica asked to paint and bake today, it was a pleasure to say yes. I had just the recipe in mind for baking…an apple scone ring which I learnt to make at secondary school. (Scarily that means I have been making it for over twenty years!). I was sure I must have posted the recipe before on here, and a quick search revealed I had…almost ten years ago to the very day. Here is the post if you would like to have a go at baking it. It makes me smile to think of me baking it then as a newlywed for my husband, and now standing with my blue eyed golden haired girl at my side, baking as a mummy with her little girl. Where does time go, I wonder…and what does the future hold? Will I have the urge to make it again and look up the recipe and find I posted this ten years ago?

Slow, Simple Saturday

Yesterday was blissful. I had been dreading the weekend a little, as Carl has to work the entire thing, and entertaining a three year old without a break in bad weather when you cn’t drive to go anywhere indoors and interesting. However, Jessica was invited for a sleepover with her Nanny and Grandad from lunchtime Saturday to this morning.

She was very excited to go, and I have to say that the thought of some time for myself. After I waved her goodbye, I made a pot of tea, lit some candles and sat down in the quiet.

It was a proper Januaryish Saturday, chilly and overcast, which quickly turned to drizzle. The perfect weather for not going out if you don’t have to.

The perfect weather for hunkering down and snuggling under a blanket, reading Country Living Magazine and watching A Vicar’s Life. Then for turning out a cupboard or two, and settling to knit and watch Little Women which I had recoreded over Christmas.

I am knitting a little dress for Jessica in soft grey. I started it a long time ago but abandoned it, so I ripped it all out and started again in the next size up. I know how easily I get distracted, and I have a few exciting projects for this year which will give me less crafting time than usual, so I am working it up in age 4-5 with the idea of it being worn from Autumn onwards.

I put a beef stew into the slow cooker which we ate in the evening with jacket potatoes. It was a new recipe and I was pleased with how it came out, so I will be making it again.

Carl had to work from home on the evening, but luckily it is the kind of task where I could sit with him and watch a film. We watched Miss Sloane which is a political thriller and I really enjoyed it. It was an interesting story with some good twists and turns, but it was also really refreshing to have a strong female lead without a romantic subplot.

And so to bed with a hot water bottle and book. Although I always miss Jessica when one of us is away from home, I also really enjoyed the solitude in the day.

This morning we have had sleety snow and Carl is working (although from home today) so we are going to bake soon, do some painting later, and for now she is playing in a quickly constructed den.