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: http://www.nappyfreebaby.co.uk/ ) 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.

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Go the f*ck to sleep

Hello,

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:

http://genius.com/Adam-mansbach-go-the-fuck-to-sleep-annotated

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.

Wedding cake!!

Finally, I’m going to share my wedding cake recipes with you. I only actually got a photo of the fruit cake uniced but the sponge looked amazing (and really tall!!!) and they all tasted great!

I had them decorated by a professional with vegan regal ice, which she also made some flower and petal decorations from.

Here we are about to cut the cake!

Image

Bottom layer: 11” Parkin

12oz margarine (vitalite)
12oz black treacle
12oz golden syrup
24oz self-raising flour
24oz medium oatmeal
2 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons ground ginger
2 tablespoon mixed spice
360ml soya milk

1. Grease 11” round cake tin and preheat the oven to 160’C

2. Put margarine, treacle and syrup in a saucepan and melt over a low heat

3. Combine all the dry ingredients

4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, adding soya milk/water if necessary for a fairly wet cake batter. Mix well.

5. Pour into prepared tin and bake at 160’C for an hour to an hour and a half until firm and brown and a skewer comes out clean when inserted.

Middle layer: 9” fruitcake

10oz currants
10oz sultanas
10oz raisins

sherry or brandy (optional)
3oz glace cherries (chopped)1oz mixed peel (chopped finely)

24oz  self-raising flour
12oz soft brown sugar
1 pint soya milk
5 oz / 70g vegan margarine
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
2 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp mixed spice

  1. Soak currants, sultanas and raisins in brandy or sherry for a few hours (optional step)
  2. Sift flour, salt and spices into a large mixing bowl and rub in the margarine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Mix in the sugar, soaked dried fruit and lemon zest
  4. Mix in all but 3 tbsp of soya milk and mix well
  5. Warm the 3 tbsp soya milk until about 60’C (not boiling but fairly hot) and mix in the bicarbonate of soda. It will fizz up. Quickly mix into the batter.
  6. Pour into prepared 9” round tin and bake in the oven at 180’C for an hour, then turn down to 155’C for another hour. Once cooked the cake should be brown and firm and a skewer should come out clean when inserted.

I decided to go with a different sponge recipe as mine is often a bit crumbly. This one is denser and moister and I think it carved well.

7″ sponge cake

9oz vegan margarine
9oz caster sugar
1lb 2oz self-raising flour
6 tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
1 x 500ml tub plain or vanilla vegan yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a saucepan, melt the margarine and sugar until melted. Allow to cool slightly.

2. Sieve flour and baking powder and salt into a bowl. Pour in the margarine/sugar mixture, yoghurt and vanilla extract and mix well.

3. Spoon cake mix into 2 prepared 7” round tins and bake at 180’C for about 40 minutes or until risen and golden. A skewer should come out clean when inserted.

4. Allow to cool and sandwich together with raspberry jam and vegan buttercream (I creamed vitalite with icing sugar for this)

Date night

I’ve just dropped an email to an omnivorous friend with some advice for cooking for a vegetarian he recently got to know, so thought I’d share my ideas for good date food to impress with:

  • Use menus from nice veggie restaurants as inspiration. One of my favourite gourmet vegetarian restaurants in London is The Gate in Hammersmith, currently closed in Hammersmith but opened up in Islington!

http://thegaterestaurants.com/menu.php

Mildreds in Soho has a great menu but is less gourmet although a lovely place to go still.

http://www.mildreds.co.uk/food.html

Amico Bio near Barbican also good:

http://www.amicobio.co.uk/

There are some really nice places in Brighton too- Food for Friends (http://www.foodforfriends.com/) and Terre a Terre (http://www.terreaterre.co.uk/) will have menus worth recreating.

  • Risotto cakes seem to be super trendy at the moment. I love mushroom risotto then just shape into a cake and bake for 10 minutes in the oven- just looks better for presentation. It’s also quite exciting to have a selection of wild mushrooms.
  • Edible flowers go well in a salad. We used to have a hanging basket of nasturtiums which were nice. Also pea shoots, lambs lettuce, raw courgette in strips using a vegetable peeler.
  • This is one of my favourite burger recipes: http://chefchloe.com/entrees/mexicali-sliders.html
  • Avocado pasta is a bit different too (and very tasty) http://chefchloe.com/entrees/avocado-pesto-pasta.html
  • Homemade pan fried potato gnocchi is nice with a good sauce!
  • I make a lot of stews and casseroles- just lots of vegetables and beans cooked together in stock with some nice herbs/onion/garlic. Then I make dumplings to sit on top by mixing self raising flour with lots of herbs and paprika and then mixing with soy milk until just a bit thicker than cake batter but no quite thick enough to be a dough, then dropping spoonfuls of this on top of the stew and either putting a lid on and letting it steam on the hob or sticking the pan in the oven.
  • I love dim sum and so sometimes get spring roll wrappers from a Chinese supermarket and make my own vegetable spring rolls and also make some steamed dumplings with a really un-authentic bready dough! Rice pots are also good and I love all the veggie options at ping pong. http://www.pingpongdimsum.com/
  • I had a particularly nice meal in Berlin that was cannelloni- just 3 rolls on the plate, very neatly presented stuffed with roasted vegetables and a walnut puree with a layer of tomato sauce and then béchamel sauce on top of each piece.
  • This is a recipe I’m keen to try and haven’t yet: http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2012/02/beetballs-a-vegan-gluten-free-soy-free-sausage-recipe.html 
  • I also love simple veggie curries like dal and saag aloo, and Mexican fajitas and burritos.

I’m pretty easily pleased really. I just love food!