Anti-consumerist baby says buy nothing

There’s nothing like having a baby to turn you into a massive consumer. This Buy Nothing Day I am reflecting on all the baby related things I didn’t need to buy, making some excuses and hopefully going forward as a less consumerist human being. The baby hates shopping anyway so we have always labelled her as anti-consumerist as she screams from her pram while I try to find a nursing bra in M&S.

Things I feel guilty about

Nappies. We use a mixture of reusable (little lamb which are fabulous) and disposable (“eco” brands such as Naty and Bio Baby)- the disposables more for when I am feeling lazy in the house and for going out so I don’t need such a big bag. Both make me feel bad- the extra washing with reusables and the waste with disposables. Before I gave birth I bought the book “Nappy free baby” about elimination communication (look it up: ) but then never quite got to grips with it. I have started trying again and hoping it will at least save a few nappies!

Amazon. Oh so easy to order something on prime for the next day. We have had “must have” teething toys, weaning equipment (should I just do baby led and not need spoons and mashers?), most of our nappies come from there. I wish I was supporting more independent retailers instead. Must try harder (and remove the baby’s Christmas wishlist!)

Fisher price Rainforest Jumperoo. It’s hideous but all the other babies had one so C had to have it. She does like it and it keeps her both entertained and contained. Also I got it second hand off a local mums selling site and will sell it on after so trying to justify it that way.

Letting others buy C presents such as clothes. It has meant that I have hardly bought her anything myself but I do feel guilty about so many new items from supermarkets as I worry about their ethical policies and don’t like the thought of supporting unethical factories indirectly by letting people get things for my daughter.

-Maternity and Nursing clothes. OK my fabulous mummy did find me a few wrap dresses in charity shops but I also ordered several items from Amazon, New Look and the Outnet. I try to avoid buying too many new clothes generally but could do better!

-My sling habit. I have a stretchy wrap, 2 ring slings, a baby bjorn and a manduca. Finding the right sling for every occasion is difficult but I do like babywearing rather than the evil travel system. All but one ring sling were second hand but now I am feeling like I really want a mei tai as I find the manduca buckles a bit difficult to adjust and when husband uses it too it makes things difficult.

-Buying the travel system new. It was just such a good deal, cheaper than the same one would have been second hand. But that’s not the point and I shouldn’t have got something new when a second hand alternative would have worked.

Things I am happy about

It’s impossible to be an ethical consumer if all you do is feel guilty, so I am giving myself a pat on the back for the following:

-My mother found a charity shop specialising in baby and children so lots of clothes have come from there.

-Other parents have passed on several items that we are using- cot and wardrobe in the nursery, several toys and books.

-Lots of items have come from ebay or local mums selling site- changing table, bumbo seat, bottles, jumperoo, slings, sleeping bags etc.

-I haven’t bought myself any clothes in about 3 months. I don’t intend to until I go back to work and then will aim to get them second hand where possible.

So avoiding the shops today and ignoring my ever expanding email inbox full of black Friday deals!!

Can you tell this was an alternative to writing my performance review for work while the in-laws take baby out? I think I’ll give myself 3/5.

Go the f*ck to sleep


I’ve been on quite the blogging hiatus. In the past 16 months since I last wrote I have become a mother- woohoo. I have also spent *a lot* of time reading mummy blogs, normally after googling something like “baby green poo” “will baby die if it doesn’t sleep?” “Is it normal for a baby to cry?” etc. etc. I thought I would add an element of parenting to my blog. Especially as we plan to bring her up as vegan.

C is now 4 and a half months and she’s great even though I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in 4 and a half months. There’s an ‘amusing’ book/poem to make parents feel better about their non sleeping offspring called ‘Go the f*ck to sleep’ – you might have heard of it. Full transcript can be found here:

I read it to C. She did *not* go to sleep but, clever little sausage, rewrote it in response. I thought I would share it here:

The cats nestle close to their kittens,

The lambs have laid down with the sheep,

Where do you think you are going?

Shouldn’t you be cuddling me?

The windows are dark in the town,

I know you would like some rest,

I swear I will drift off soon,

If you promise I will never be left.

The eagles who soar through the sky are at rest,

And the doves who no longer coo,

If I say I am thirsty will you give me a drink?

Then I can be closer to you.

The wind whispers soft through the grass, mum,

It’s ages until it gets light,

Thirty more minutes is all that I ask,

Please make me feel everything’s alright.

The room is drifting away now,

As I know in your arms I will stay,

Cuddled up for the rest of the night,

Waking together for a new day.

Bleary and dazed I awaken,

To find you here no more,

Tomorrow I’ll have one eye open,

You’d best not go out that f*cking door.


There’s just one place in San Francisco that we enjoyed and I left out of the last post…
Tacolicious, 1548 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133 (other locations exist)

Official Website:

We were starving after our cycle over the Golden Gate bridge and back so at about 3pm we stumbled into Tacolicious and hoped they would be able to feed me something vegan. They were very accommodating and advised me of the items on the menu that were vegan and those that could be adapted. Lots of choice. The décor of the place was a little fast-food-joint but there was table service and we really appreciated them bringing us chips and salsa as soon as we arrived!

R had something non-vegan that I didn’t bother photographing and I went for a couple of the veggie tacos that didn’t need any adapting to make them vegan) which I believe were the fingerling potatoes, oyster mushrooms, asparagus, green garlic ancho chile recado ones. They were pretty yummy- I love lots of filling and it all went well together with a touch of chilli/garlic spice.


We shared a side of asparagus- look how big it is!!!


We also had black beans which were really tasty too.


Also you can see all the sauces we were given on the side to add to our tacos. All in all a fun, tasty, filling, fast, extremely good value meal! I wish we had places like this in the UK!

Talking of Asparagus, we did actually pop to the Stockton, California annual asparagus festival on our way to Yosemite. Here is me with some growing asparagus and tasting the deep fried asparagus (not that nice)

IMG_0953 - Copy

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I had a pleasant enough vegan burrito for lunch there and a tasty smoothie from a vegan smoothie van.

Now, Las Vegas is amazing for vegans. It’s not cheap but it’s easy to find really nice vegan food there. We only spent 3 nights in Vegas and one day we were out for the whole day at the Grand Canyon. On that day we took snacks from Whole Foods which were amazing! We made ourselves bagels with fake cheese and meat slices and had great popcorn, chips and oreos😉

On our first night, we headed to the Wynn, having heard that Steve Wynn, the owner, as a vegan insists that most (or all?) of the restaurants in his hotels offer a separate vegan menu!

SW Steakhouse, Wynn hotel, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South Las Vegas, NV 89109

Official Website:

We ended up at SW Steakhouse, where R was able to have octopus and steak and where I got a huge vegan menu to choose from. It definitely wasn’t cheap but it was a fine dining restaurant. We had a lovely table from which we had a view of the Wynn waterfall and the light show on it. R had some wine and our water glasses were regularly topped up. We were brought some bread to start and the vegan bread options were pointed out to me. I chose the Kale and Apple salad with pecans to start. It was huge!! But tasty and hopefully healthy (a pile of that much green stuff has to be!)

For main I had roasted ‘maitake’ (?) mushrooms with white bean puree. The mushrooms were quite meaty and strongly seasoned, probably a good alternative to steak!

We still hadn’t managed to learn by this point that sides in the US are like main meals in themselves, so ordered creamed spinach (more green!) and french fries and didn’t manage to eat it all or order pudding. An expensive meal but a lovely experience!

US Trip Part 1: San Francisco


Hello. It’s been a while. I have plenty of photos and notes but haven’t translated them into a blog post yet! However, I’m going to start with the big one: My trip to San Francisco and Vegas. We also stopped along the way in Yosemite and Death Valley but we were mostly self-catering so made our own stir-fries, enchiladas etc.

We landed, a little bit sleepy, one Wednesday afternoon in San Francisco. Found our hotel which was The Hotel Carlton ( chosen partly for location, partly for its good TripAdvisor rating and partly because of the vegan-friendly Arabic fusion restaurant it housed.

Saha, 1075 Sutter Street, San Francisco , CA, 94109-5817

Official Website:

We ate dinner here on our first and last nights in SF and had brunch on Saturday and Sunday! The menu has so many vegan options! They do ‘small plates’ as well as normal starters and entrees so we usually shared a couple of these and had one to ourselves J I didn’t get photos of all the dinner plates we had but dishes we liked were:

A lovely broccoli and celery soup with a bit of a kick that they split into 2 small bowls so we could share.

Wild mushroom pate

Stuffed Artichoke heart (with tofu and seasonal vegetables)

Shiitake mushroom ravioli in mango and coconut sauce.

Za’atar Cauliflower

Za'atar Cauliflower

Za’atar Cauliflower

Quinoa and Kale salad.

Half-eaten quinoa and kale

Half-eaten quinoa and kale

The bread was also lovely and came with oil full of herbs and spices to dip it in.

We did try a dessert while we were there (I feel like I have to if there are vegan options) but we weren’t huge fans.

‘Slap ya Mama’ consisted of banana, dried fruit, nuts and melted chocolate in filo pastry. As I’m not big on bananas it really wasn’t my cup of tea and there was too much going on. Some of the other sweets may be nicer.

Brunch at Saha was also an interesting affair. There were lots of very interesting sounding vegan options. On Saturday I went for Spinach Shakshuka as I was craving spinach and tofu. This consisted of spinach, potatoes and fried tofu in a spicy tomato sauce and was really tasty.


On Sunday I had ‘Fava Benedict’ which was a soft fried cake made from fava beans with avocado and tofu on top, covered in curry sauce. This was also a really lovely breakfast!


The waiting staff were very friendly and crucially understood veganism! The food was quite unusual and felt very much as if they were planned as they were, rather than there being any efforts to substitute meat or dairy with vegan ingredients. Prices were reasonable too.

You should definitely visit Saha if you’re ever in San Francisco and it got quite busy so you might want to make a reservation.

Loving Hut Chinatown,1365 Stockton Street, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA

Official website:

We had lunch on our second day at Loving hut in Chinatown. We clocked it in the morning on our way to Fisherman’s wharf and then returned at about 2pm. I hadn’t actually been to a Loving hut before, although I have been to similar places like Yummy V and Veggie World. I did really fancy some kind of dirty fast food, though, so it was ideal!

I went for the ‘fish’ and chips style dish which was really nice. A few breadcrumbed tofu/seaweed patties and loads of chips and dips! Not too fishy but pleasantly seaweedy. Big portion!


R went for the sweet and sour dish with some lovely wild rice on the side. It was quite nice- lots of veggies and fake chicken but so much food!


We didn’t manage pudding but did see a few noodle dishes we would try if we went back and would also like to try the burger. Service was pleasant and fast and prices were reasonable (slightly expensive for a quick lunch once you’ve added tax and tip)

Millenium, 580 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Official website:

This was the restaurant I was most looking forward to trying after reading recommendations by Chloe Coscarelli. I made sure to get a reservation in plenty of time and eventually remembered what name I’d reserved in (my passport is still in maiden name so hotels etc. were booked in that, but Millenium was booked in my married name which I wasn’t used to saying by then…) so got our table. It was definitely full and we sat at the bar while our table was being prepared. There were some nice cocktails on the menu but I went for an organic root beer which was really nice!

As we were shown to our table, we were offered a complimentary lentil dip with bread. This was really tasty and the homemade crusty bread was yummy too.


Chloe recommends the Crusted king Trumpet Mushrooms so we had to share these for a starter, and we also got some pickled vegetables to go with them (a whole starter each might have meant not enough room for pudding!)

The pickled vegetables were lotus root with ginger, fennel with something else nice and parsnip with chilli. The chilli was too much for me so I didn’t have much of the parsnip but the others were tasty.


The mushrooms were interesting. They did have a really chewy, slightly disconcerting texture but were fun to eat, a bit different but not too far removed from tempura and had a sweet dip and we both enjoyed them and agreed we had picked well (or Chloe had)!!


As a main, I went for a tamale. I hadn’t actually had a tamale before and my only real knowledge of them was Nicole Scherzinger on X factor calling the contestants ‘a hot tamale’ as if it was a good thing, so I assumed it would be good! It was. I wasn’t entirely sure how to eat it but I just peeled back the husk and ate from it. I think corn gives a really nice flavour and the filling and sauce were really lovely and aromatic too.


R got the Dosa which was quite nice, probably nothing special if you’ve had a chickpea masala Dosa in a south indian restaurant before. The crispy fried onions on top were really good though!


Luckily we had room for pudding! Mine was AMAZING!!!! It was an orange blossom and poppy seed cake with rhubarb jam and vanilla creme served with apricot ice cream. The sponge was moist and rich, the rhubarb jam was amazing, the vanilla crème was creamy and vanillaey and lovely and the apricot ice-cream was awesome too.


R chose Chocolate almond midnight which was quite nice but paled into insignificance alongside mine. The mocha mousse part of it was slightly kind of gritty with the coffee and I think would have been nicer if it was smooth, but the white chocolate mousse was good and the almond bark was really nice with a caramelised taste to it.


The restaurant itself was very classy with a good atmosphere for couples or friends. The serving staff were attentive and we did feel like we were in a really nice place. You can see from the presentation and the menu what a lovely restaurant it was. An excellent choice for a special occasion.

[Edited to add further photos I found on R’s phone]

February 2014 trip to Brighton


I love Brighton. Although it’s under an hour and a half’s drive or train ride away, I don’t visit enough! Last month, however, we were able to go for the night as my parents had got a free night in a hotel with their home insurance that they didn’t want and we were able to book a Friday night at The Old Ship hotel with it. I tried to book Terre a Terre for the Friday evening but couldn’t get a reservation so instead booked Food for Friends which was a stone’s throw from the hotel.

Food for Friends, 17 Prince Albert St, The Lanes, Brighton

Official Website:

No photos as we were too busy enjoying our meal.

I started with the soup which was some kind of root vegetable medley with a hint of ginger and was very tasty. R went for the cracked black peppered fried tofu with spring onions and saffron dashi, served with kombu seaweed, pickled cucumber and Chinese cabbage. I think this was a stand out dish- so many flavours on the plate, quite peppery tofu, awesome pickles and definitely something that would be hard to recreate but I’d order next time!

For main R had something that wasn’t vegan- a potato cake with a poached egg on top. I think he enjoyed it, especially the sesame onion rings!! They do a vegan version without the egg.

I had another dish that was a vegan-option. It was the Halloumi salad with mango, avocado, wasabi nuts and a mango dressing. I got crispy tofu instead of halloumi which was lovely, as were the leaves, nuts, avocado and slices of mango. However, the mango dressing was far too sweet and overpowering so this one wasn’t a winner!!

For pudding I had to try the coconut arancini with a trio of mango (which works much better in a sweet dish!) The sorbet was lovely, as were the sweet coconut rice balls so I really enjoyed this. We also shared the espresso and truffles for 2 to finish off the meal and had a nice bottle of vegan red wine with our meal too. Service was good and it was reasonably priced (I think mine fell into the 3 courses for £20 category!) so we will be back!

On the Saturday morning, I was a bit annoyed that R had organised for a meeting with our plumbers at 2pm so we didn’t have time to stick around for lunch/afternoon tea. We had a light breakfast in the hotel (I just had fruit and coffee, although there was toast, bread, baked beans etc.) and wandered up the pier,


bought some treats in Vbites, bought more treats in Infinity Foods and at about 11 settled in Rock’ola café bar for brunch.

Rock Ola, 29 Tidy Street, Brighton, BN1 4EL

Official website:

I loved this place! It’s like a cool 50s American diner and they have a separate vegan menu but also serve meat and lacto-ovo dishes.

I got the most awesome chocolate milkshake:


And a vegan breakfast-in-a-bun: Mushrooms, vegan bacon, sausage and a hash brown type patty- which was lovely.


Simple but hit the spot and I must find out how to make that milkshake. It was gloopy and ice-creamy and exactly how a milkshake should be.

Rock Ola was right near the station so we could just hop on a train back to London and our Brighton trip was over until next time!!!!

The Jumping Bean Cafe in Durham

I went up to Durham on Saturday for lunch with a friend. I really haven’t visited the city enough since I graduated in 2009 and do love to have a wander round to see what has changed. The day started beautifully with clear skies and sunshine and a wander around the cathedral. Both the cathedral and the castle on the other side of Palace Green looked lovely in the sunshine.



For lunch, we went to find the jumping bean cafe. I had seen their stall at the North East Vegan Festival, where the nice young northern man had plied my mother with lemon cake that she declared the ‘best cake of the festival’. It was slightly off my normal beaten track in Durham but was easy to find especially with a blackboard sign directing you towards their soup and sandwich offers and vegan and gluten free options.

The Jumping Bean cafe, 5 Neville Street, Durham, DH1 4EY

Official Website:

The cafe has been open about a year and was quite busy when we dropped in. It was a bit bigger than I expected but still only around 7 tables inside and 3-4 outside (although a bit cold for that at the moment!) The drinks menu is up on a blackboard and the paper menu included a few lunch and some breakfast items- all vegetarian and most vegan, including options of vegan cheese. I was tempted by the Spanish stew but instead chose to try the pine nut and spinach falafel and tomato chutney sandwich on brown bread, with the soup of the day which was carrot and parsnip. I also had a soya cappuccino.


The bread was lovely and fresh and soft and the soup was clearly home-made. I could detect plenty of ginger and pepper (maybe even some cayenne) in the soup and the tomato chutney in my sandwich was quite spicy too. It was all very tasty but maybe a bit strongly seasoned/spicy for some people (I’m thinking of my mother here, and would have to order wisely if i brought her)

My cappuccino was lovely and hot (which my mother would be very happy about!) and Cathy went for a pot of tea which you can see in the picture was nice and big!

The guy I’d met at the festival was icing the lemon cake just as we were about to leave so I got a slice to take away- with still-sticky icing expertly packaged so the icing stayed on the cake !!!

cakeThis was really excellent lemon cake!!! It’s lucky I no longer live in Durham or I would definitely have too much lemon cake!

I really hope this vegan venture continues its success and I look forward to visiting again next time I’m in Durham!

Blueberry Swirl tray bake guinea pigging…


Wow it’s been ages since I last blogged. We bought a flat and have been manically packing/moving/redecorating/attempting to stay married. 2013’s been a big year! But after a month and a bit we’ve finally got a usable living room.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll have a few things to mention in a round-up soon (lots of photos on my phone) but for now just a quick one to mention Blueberry Swirl:

I discovered their stall at the North East Vegan Festival on 17th November at the Stadium of Light. I took my parents along to their first Vegan Festival and they loved it! Vegusto did some awesome hot dogs and there was so much cake about! My dad was a particular fan of the Blueberry Swirl savoury muffins and I went away with a coffee cupcake and an earl grey cupcake which were both delicious.

So when I saw that Blueberry Swirl were looking for people to test out postage methods on for a potential mail order service I volunteered immediately!

A snickers tray bake was put in the post with royal mail on Wednesday and R picked it up from the post office on Friday night. It was packaged up very securely:


And had travelled very well, with just a few peanuts stuck to the lid (which I imagine would have happened anyway):



Both R and I enjoyed the bake. It was definitely more of  cake than a brownie and was nice and moist, and the chocolate and peanut topping was tasty too.

Watch out for Blueberry Swirl’s postal service in 2014! And if you’re in the north-east find their cakes at various places including the Farplace Animal Rescue charity shop in Wallsend, the Good Apple café in Sunderland and the Olde Young tea house in Middlesbrough.