The Good Life

Tom & Barbara Good

Yes, my weekend was like a scene from The Good Life. Plotting, digging, planting, re-potting, etc. We have Grand Plans to turn the garden (right; not to scale) into something both beautiful and practical over the coming year. Fruit, veg, and flowers for the bees and butterflies.

Our back garden is north-facing, which is fairly pants for growing usually, but we know that come March-April time, the sun is high enough in the sky to flood both the front and back with light. Already most of that weird sticky-out bit of garden is toasty warm from early morning to well past lunch (when someone else’s house currently gets in the way — how inconvenient) so while everyone else in Shropshire was hiding indoors from the snow, we were hardcore gardening.

The plan is to stick a cheap plastic greenhouse at the very top end of the garden, have raised beds down the right for veg and big pots down the left for fruit/flowers. What is currently grass (and slightly waterlogged turf, but that’s a post for another day perhaps) will be bordered by kiddy-safe flowers either directly in the ground or raised slightly with borders (rock, wood? don’t know yet) and in old tyres.

Of course, this all assumes my dodgy pregnancy-bearing pelvis hasn’t completely given up by then…

The Great Car Hunt

If you’ve got me on Facepoop or twitter, you’ll have seen my recent car-hunt adventures. It’s surprisingly hard to find a car that is both small (physical size and engine) but also big enough enough to hold a rear-facing car seat.

In 2010, we made the decision to keep Isabel rear-facing for as long as possible, and bought a rear-facing “Volvo” (re-badged Britax) seat. It’s a fantastic car seat, but as with the majority of rear-facing seats, it has a bigger footprint than a forward facing seat:

As my completely unscientific diagram shows, FF seats fit with the shape of inner car seat whereas RF seats fit almost at opposites, requiring clearance in between the back seats and front passenger/driver. Also, in the event of an additional support leg (which the MultiTech we bought has), that’s another bucket load of space required too.

So anyway, faced with this quite specific requirement, I got a lot of questions on why I don’t just buy a new seat and turn Isabel around. *headdesk* I have no idea how to begin explaining why keeping my daughter 5 times safer is important to me.

Anyway, so after much trawling of second-hand cars on the ‘net, local dealerships etc we settled on a Skoda Fabia. It’s an older version but with a 4 star Euro NCAP rating for passengers satisfies my safety-conscious side. It’s in fantastic condition, full service history, low tax (compared to Karl’s), yadda yadda yadda. Most importantly? It fits all the major rear-facing car seats. Rock on!

What do you want to do?

Just saw an interesting thread on one of the forums I visit, “what do you want to do?” So I had a think about it, and here’s my list (in no particular order):

Have more children (at least one), keep chickens, become more self-sufficient, work for myself, ride the world’s biggest rollercoasters, visit Egypt, finish one of my many(!) crochet blankets, climb a mountain, cook a perfect treacle sponge pudding, ride in a hot air balloon, visit the Ice Hotel, donate breastmilk for premature babies and complete my breastfeeding peer supporter training.

I will probably think of loads more as soon as I hit publish, but what do you want to do? :)

No wonder we have a debt crisis

I applied for a credit card today, and on the form was asked my job:

It’s no wonder there’s a global problem with debt if school-aged children can apply for credit.

On “Mommy Wars”

So, I’m reading this post where one mum rants about the reaction another mum got for admitting she’s letting her kid “CIO” (cry it out).

I’ve talked about CIO and sleep training before, you know I don’t like it, so I won’t go over old ground. However, as Isabel gets older I am becoming more “live and let live” about parenting and so even if I personally wouldn’t do something, I try not to let other people’s choices bog me down. I don’t have the time or energy to be worrying about someone letting their toddler wail. I certainly don’t see the point in spewing hate-filled vitriol across someone’s facebook page about it.

All’s well that ends well, we all agree.

Except that obviously something has sparked me off ’cause you know I wouldn’t just be writing this post to agree that a) mommy wars are stupid and b) if some random blogger wants to let her 1 year old cry that’s her business.

Indeed… and here lies my problem: not the original post, but the responses. Responses like the one from the mother who let her 10 month old cry so much he hyperventilated and vomited all over himself. Again and again. Responses like the one from the parent who let all her kids cry it out from 12 weeks old because they clearly had no physical needs and were just trying to control her. Responses like the one from the mum who “let her boys cry it out” so they’d sleep through by 8 weeks old.

And do I then want to spam someone’s facebook page or start a ‘mommy war’? No, I want to shed a tear. I want to hug those poor little buggers tight and apologise to them because SOCIETY has such fucked up views on parenting and NORMAL baby behaviour that some parents feel the need to leave tiny, tiny babies to cry themselves to sleep and then brag about it — what a fucking awesome decision it was — on some random blog. On a blog that other mum’s are going to see, that other mum’s will then use to compare to their infants who are (quite normally and naturally) waking every couple of hours or more, and maybe even use as a starting point for a decision that they will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

Does that make me judgemental? Immature? Am I contributing to the “mommy wars”? Probably. But there has to be a line. A line drawn in the sand where we say to people: beyond this, it’s just not fucking acceptable. And if you’re still counting your kids age in weeks or mopping up their vomit because they’re so distraught? That to me crosses the god damn line.

My cheaty leftover-lamb curry

I will start this post by warning you that I make my curries by throwing lots of stuff into a pan until it tastes vaguely like a curry. You could quite easily add/take away from this without it having a massive effect (e.g. I add mushrooms to my curry where most people wouldn’t) but this is what worked for me.

Also, I’ve called this a ‘cheaty’ curry because I’ve not properly prepared any spices or anything; I couldn’t even be bothered to chop up garlic. This is because after a crap day at work, the last thing I want/need to be doing is arsing about in the kitchen for hours. Anyway, on with it…

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion
  • big handful of mushrooms
  • 2 big handfuls leftover lamb roughly chopped into chunks
  • 2 tsps curry powder (I use mild because I’m a wimp.. adjust to suit)
  • glug of Linghams Garlic Chilli sauce
  • 1/3 of a tube of garlic pureĆ©
  • small tin of Heinz curry ‘beanz’
  • 1/2 cup lamb gravy (t’was a bit of experiment adding leftover ‘proper’ gravy, but it boosted the flavour wonderfully; if you don’t have any you might want to use a stock cube + extra water?)
  • cup of water
  • big glug of olive oil for frying + optional butter

Instructions
Put a big saucepan over a medium heat on the hob and and add your big glug of olive oil (I also add a small knob of butter when I’m using mushrooms as they fry better, but this is optional). Chop your onion and mushroom and add it to the pan, frying gently til lightly golden then add the meat chunks.

After a minute or so of gentle frying, turn the heat down low and add the curry powder, Garlic Chilli sauces and garlic pureƩ and mix well. Leave to fry for a little longer, stirring regularly so nothing sticks.

When everything looks all curry coloured and all the flavours are intermingled etc, add the leftover gravy and water (or just water if you’re minus gravy… in fact, a nice alternative to both would be a tin of chopped tomatoes, which would add another veg portion I reckon). Add the tin of ‘beanz’ (another portion of veg plus fills it out a bit) and then leave to simmer for as long as you can be bothered to wait. I left mine for 20 mins on a medium heat which got rid of some of the excess fluid, but I’d generally leave a curry for at least 30 mins.

Serve on a clean plate with some microwave rice (ha!). Should serve 3-4 but it depends how much of a fat piggy you are.

A little bit more meat

(Because the alternative is telling you all about the fact that Isabel specifically requested my presence in the bathroom yesterday to show off her “BIIIIIIIIG poo!” … oh.)

As per previous post, I had my Well Hung Meat meatbox on Friday, complete with a shoulder of lamb thingy. Lamb being my favourite meat of all time, t’was an event to celebrate. I slow roasted this with big roasties and a load of veg yesterday, most of which ended up burnt… but the lamb was FANTASTIC.

I am telling you this in the hope that, despite not remembering to take any pictures of the resulting lamb (or the failed burnt veg) you will consider me an aspiring domestic goddess. Or at least someone who knows how to whap the oven on to 170 degrees for 3 hours, whatever.

Going Back to Well Hung Meat

Some of you may remember that at the end of November I wrote an entry expressing disappointment with the organic meat box delivery company Well Hung Meat.

Within a couple of days of writing the post, Adam from The Well Hung Meat Company got in touch via the comments and passed on his apologies for the experience that I’d had and as a goodwill gesture, credited my account with points equivalent to the ‘missing’ roasting joint and the steaks that I’d not been happy with. He came across as both polite and genuine in his responses; a credit to the company. :)

Happy to give them a second chance, I placed a regular order with WHM and I received my second meat box in December. I must admit that my memory fails me in the exact contents (what can I say, December is a busy month) but the roasting joint, roughly 0.8kg of beef topside, was fab. It was the first time I’d done a roast beef (normally stick to chicken) and I spent a lot of time on all the trimmings (roast potatoes, proper gravy, yorkshire puds – from scratch! etc) but it was definitely worth it.

I wish I could say the same about the steaks, but again they were cut so uneven I found it hard to get them cooked ‘just right’. I can’t help but think I’m being COMPLETELY anal about this but as a steak (cooking) newbie I need a helping hand with these things.

My next Well Hung Meat box is due tomorrow, so you can probably extract from that I’m happy to continue with a regular order for now … I am planning on trying the Riverford boxes at some point (if nothing else but out of customer loyalty; I do love my Riverford veg) but I’m glad this little meaty experiment has proved positive after all :)