Thursday, 15 May 2014

Living Arrows 19/52

One day last week, Ebony and I headed into Manchester to do some shopping. We're going on holiday in a few weeks, so she needed some bits and pieces for that. It was such a lovely day, I really enjoyed walking round the shops with her, even if I spent most of the time asking her not to climb the clothing rails.

She was thrilled to finally own a pair of sunglasses, and wore them for most of the shopping trip. In the rain. We were looking for a summer hat too, and stumbled across this beauty in Boots. They have the cutest clothes in Boots, but it's always the last place I think to look.

Every time it's sunny now, Ebony marches round the house exclaiming that she will be wearing, "summer shoes", "summer sunglasses" and "summer legs" (bare legs). Today she even wanted to wear summer bottom, but I managed to convince her this may not be the best idea.
living arrows

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Raising a Feminist

For those of you seeking advice for raising a feminist daughter, look away now. For this post does not contain top tips, helpful hints or an unschooling feminist curriculum to guarantee your daughter a smooth transition from toddler to feminist campaigner. Far from it. In fact, this post is merely a list of my own failings as a mother desperately trying, and failing, to raise a feminist daughter.

I’m sure I did all the right things, and yet somehow, I have ended up with a misogynist daughter, instead of the empowered what-glass-ceiling daughter I was aiming for. I read her books like Paper Bag Princess, and Maisy Mouse. I change the endings of fairy tales when reading them aloud, I limit her exposure to Disney Princesses. Her wardrobe contains very little pink, and I avoid telling her to be careful too often. We went to a museum last week, and she listened to a feminist speech on a telephone. She listened for a whole five minutes while the voice on the other end explained inequality and the history of women’s rights.

And yet:

1. She calls all women wife - there was a two month period where all women were called wife, and men were called, of course, man. And it was not just the women with husbands who were described as wives, it was all women (except the ones with very short hair, she called them men). She was simply unable to see women as anything outside of their assumed role in the home.

2. She plays make up - the other day, I caught my daughter sitting with her wooden blocks. She was holding a rectangular block flat in her hand, and when I asked her what she was doing, she explained she was doing makeup. She then proceeded to apply what looked to be whiskers with her imaginary makeup brush.

3. She shaves her legs - calm down, she doesn’t actually shave her legs. I have not gone so terribly wrong far down the path of misogynist parenting that I am allowing my toddler to shave her legs. But, when in the bath, she does often pretend to shave her leg. Using her toy lobster. This saddens me deeply, both as a feminist and a vegan.

4. She hates her period - ok, she doesn’t actually have periods. But, she does have pretend times of the month which mostly consist of shouting, “OH NO! PERIOD. BLOODY PERIOD. TUMMY ACHE.” a few times a day. If she can get hold of a spare sanitary product to tuck into her trousers during this game, all the better. She especially likes to play this game when we are out and about, especially in busy, yet eerily quiet, public bathrooms.  

5. She doesn’t believe men do housework - I once said something along the lines of, “...and then Daddy will clean the kitchen,” and she laughed in my face. Really loudly. I explained that, no really, Daddy does clean the kitchen when you’re in bed. She inhaled slowly, glanced theatrically around the kitchen, absorbing the pile of dishes, and the dirty pan piled with cutlery, and then raised her eyebrows at me in a very smug way.

6. She doesn’t believe I can fix things - whenever anything breaks, and I mention it aloud, she says, “It’s ok, Daddy fix it.” This is not only sexist, but also ridiculous. My husband is the least handy person in the entire world, the fact he even owns a toolbox came as quite a shock to me. If the broken thing seems particularly complicated, she will suggest that I ring some men to do it.

As far as feminist parenting goes, I think I am failing. Though not completely, because I did once stumble across her stirring a pan on her toy kitchen stove. When asked what she was cooking, she turned to me slowly and said, “Cooking penis. Penis soup.”

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Giveaway: Win £30 to Spend at Play.com



Ebony’s love of scooters has not gone unnoticed. For the past couple of months, she has fixated on every passing scooter like an eagle watching prey. If an unsuspecting child has foolishly abandoned their scooter in search of other folly, I have had to prise it from Ebony’s talon, while calmly explaining that, sadly, the scooter does not belong to her.

So when the lovely people at Rakuten’s Play.com got in touch and offered me £30 to spend in their Toys section as part of their #ReasonsToShop campaign, I knew immediately what to go for. I used Play.com a lot when I was at university, but haven’t visited the site in years. I was surprised by the selection of products on offer. I’m sure back in the day it was mostly just DVDs and CDs, but now they seem to stock anything and everything. There were lots of scooters to choose from, and in the end I chose a Hello Kitty one knowing she would like it.

One afternoon, when Ebony was at the park with Laurie, I took the scooter there to surprise her. She was on top of the slide when she saw me, and started almost hyperventilating with excitement. She raced back down the steps (not yet wise enough to realise the slide would probably have been a speedier option), and raced over to me shouting, “Scooter! Mummy buy scooter! Ooooh Kitty scooter! Love Kitty!”

It was lovely to see her so excited. We only gave her the scooter at the weekend, but she has so far used it at the park, on the front garden and around our living room. Her scooting technique needs improvement, and is far from an efficient mode of transportation, but she is definitely thrilled to finally own a scooter of her own.

To celebrate the #ReasonsToShop campaign, Rakuten’s Play.com have very kindly offered one lucky reader £30 to spend on their site. All you have to do is fill in the Rafflecopter below to be in with a chance of winning. Good luck!



Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com - See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/win-%C2%A330-spend-playcom#sthash.DmXZLWYT.dpuf

Sunday, 11 May 2014

The Grand Unveiling of Watching You Grow

When I was planning my wedding, I spoke to Laurie about last names. Obviously, I had assumed he would understand my hesitation to willingly add the syllable 'cock' to my name, but alas I was wrong.

In the end, I abandoned my former much-loved, less common maiden name of Scottish roots, and replaced it with genitalia.
Once the initial embarrassment of repeatedly saying 'cock' to strangers had evaporated, I began noticing a few positives about my new name. For example, no-one has ever asked me to spell out Peacock for them, but I must have lost a good month of my life saying G-A-L-B-R-A-I-T-H.
And so began my love of name changes. When I first created my blog, it was simply named after me (big headed much?). But alas, as doomsday (the planned end of my maternity leave) approached, I became worried about returning to my job in animal rights, faced with an army of violent, hateful enemies, with photos of my baby on a website named after me. And so, I changed the name of my site. To Pea Musings. It was a rushed decision, and one I later decided I regretted. For what exactly does it mean?!
And so, this weekend I have decided upon the new (and final) name of my blog. Consider this the official launch. Help yourself to prosecco, and enjoy the ambient music in the air.
Thank you for reading my newly named blog, "Watching You Grow". I promise I will not change it again.

Please 'Like' the new Facebook page for Watching You Grow here.

Recipe: Vegan Chocolate & Toffee Ice Cream

Being the healthy-focused vegans that we are, Laurie and I sometimes spend time discussing sugary foods we want to try recreating. After a particularly successful attempt at toffee popcorn one evening, we decided the toffee sauce would be perfect in ice cream.

Months later my parents set off on their annual migration to warmer lands, and we once again had their ice cream maker bestowed upon us. At last we were able to put our plan into action.

So, when Morrisons sent me vouchers to spend in store, I decided to buy some ingredients to make out long awaited dreams come true.

We used Wheeler Del Toro's vegan vanilla ice cream recipe because we had used it successfully before. It's a good recipe, though I think perhaps it was a little too watery, so we may try experimenting a bit with it next time.

Once the ice cream was whizzing round in the machine, Laurie set to work recreating his toffee sauce. It's never easy to remember the exact ingredients or method of drunk cooking, so I don't think the sauce was identical to the popcorn sauce, but this is roughly what we did:

Ingredients
1/2 cup vegan margarine (we used Vitalite)
1/2 cup of brown sugar
a pinch of salt

Method
Mix it all together in a pan over a low heat, and stir continuously until the it is thick, oozy and delicious. Laurie was adding extra margarine and sugar into the pan until he felt it was right, so you may want to adjust the levels slightly if you would like a thicker or thinner sauce. Once the sauce tastes amazing, remove it from the heat and let it cool for five minutes.

We then poured about half of the mixture into the ice cream maker as it continued to churn, added about 50g of grated dark chocolate, and a handful of chopped mixed nuts. We then poured the ice cream into a freezer friendly container, smoothed it out, poured the rest of the toffee sauce on top and sprinkled another handful of chopped mixed nuts.

We stuck it in the freezer, drank more wine, forgot about it, and then finally got round to trying it this morning. It was so good. Served in a brandy snap, it was a truly delicious dessert.

Disclaimer: Morrisons sent me vouchers to spend in store, but I have only myself to blame for choosing some unhealthy ingredients. 

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Living Arrows 18/52

It was my birthday last weekend, and I was lucky enough to receive a fancy new camera lens. Look at the blurry background on my photo, eeee! We spent the day at the People's History Museum in Manchester, and I was trying out my lens on the way round.

We went to an exhibition about the history of cooperatives which was really interesting. I was worried Ebony might be difficult on the way round, but it was such a family friendly museum, they had activities in every room to keep little ones distracted. I love this photo of Ebony dressing up in one of the costumes at the museum, the jacket was trailing behind her on the floor.
living arrows

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

My Birthday Weekend: Cooperatives, Camera and Cucumbers






1. Ebony playing with the toys at the museum. 2. Relaxing at the museum. 3. A beautiful old till at the museum. 4. Laurie picking out songs on the museum's jukebox.

I celebrated (commiserated?) my birthday over the weekend, I am now the grand old age of 28. Ok, not old perhaps, but I’m not feeling at my most youthful. Over the past week I’ve been having a slight life crisis, and feeling pretty bloody aged. Not aged by my 28 years, more rather aged for them.

As I look across my spectrum of friends, and see people planning weddings, seeing the world and casually discussing the possibility of future babies, I cannot help but feel old. Here I am, haggard and exhausted after two long years of relentless sleep deprivation, and it is hard to summon up the pretence of youth.

Last week I was genuinely excited to see the washing machine repair man, and it is very hard to write that sentence, because this is not what I imagined would excite me at 28. I was hoping we would have moved house by my birthday, and that I would be able to invite some friends over to celebrate. But alas, we have not moved, and our tiny house is piled high with boxes, so there isn’t really much room for celebration. Instead, we decided to make the most of Ebony’s now early bedtime, and have a nice meal together once she was asleep.

Morrisons kindly offered me £80 worth of vouchers to celebrate the launch of their new lower prices, so we headed there in search of ingredients on Saturday morning. Our nearest store is in Bredbury, and though we pop in every so often, it’s not our go-to shop. As we entered the store, we went straight to the fresh produce, and filled our trolley. The new prices are much lower than I expected - a full cucumber cost just 50p, which is much lower than where we normally shop. There were plenty of bargains to be had, so we stocked up on fruit and salad.

My one issue with Morrisons is that they don’t label any of their products as vegan, which is one of the reasons why we don’t usually shop there. I hadn’t really considered how annoying it would be to have to keep stopping to google things in store. They don’t produce a vegan list, so it’s actually pretty difficult to find out whether some things are even suitable for vegans. They did have quite a few vegan products, from millionaire shortbread to prosecco, sage and onion slices to yoghurts, which I thought was good, but I wish the own brand products had been labelled as vegan.

We made the most of the drinks offers, of course, and managed to find a vegan friendly prosecco on the shelves. And I bought a bottle of amaretto, obviously, to be honest it was a struggle to not spend all of the vouchers on amaretto. But we bought ingredients for our fancy meal, and Laurie also picked up some bits and pieces for my birthday cake. I think we got a lot for our money, and our trolley was overflowing by the end (with beer, ahem). Lots of products had the ‘I’m cheaper’ stickers on, meaning the prices have been permanently reduced, and there were lots of bargains to be had.

For my birthday, Laurie and Ebony gave me a new camera lens that I’ve been eyeing up for months. I love the photos it can take, it’s completely different to my usual lens. When asked what I wanted to do for my birthday, I said I wanted to go to see the 150 Years of the Cooperative exhibition at the People’s History Museum, saying this aloud did not help my life crisis. But we went, and it was really good. It was really interesting to walk round the museum, and they had lots of things to keep little ones entertained.

Once Ebony was tucked up in bed, Laurie started on dinner. We decided to have battered tofu, homemade chips and mushy peas, and it was so good. We used part of a recipe from the Terre a Terre cookbook, but added in a tofu marinade found online (because the Terre a Terre recipe uses halloumi instead of tofu). While Laurie was cooking, I made us some prosecco cocktails with the ingredients bought in Morrisons, again using recipes from the Terre a Terre cookbook.

For our slap-up meal, we bought a block of firm tofu, a bag of frozen peas, some lose potatoes, some fresh parsley, some fresh mint and some soya milk. In total, we spent about £1.75 per portion, and it was delicious (and easy to make, so I’m told). We also used a few ingredients we already had including plain flour, salt and oil.

For the prosecco cocktails, we bought a bottle of prosecco, some strawberries and some Fairtrade sugar. I estimate this set us back about £1.60 per glass. We also used some creme de cassis from home.

Disclaimer: I was offered some Morrisons vouchers in exchange for writing about their service, but all words and thoughts are my own.


Thursday, 1 May 2014

Living Arrows 17/52

After a full day at the park on Tuesday, and an early morning to look round a nursery, we decided to spend the day at home yesterday. I'm feeling exhausted at the moment, and am a bit run down, so I was ready for a spot of hibernation, especially since the rain clouds were back.

We played fetch in the garden (does anyone else do this, or am I a terrible parent?), made necklaces with her newly arrived lacing beads, read stories and did some jigsaws. Laurie was working from home which meant I spent a lot of the day saying, "Daddy is working now, so we can't go and see him." while trying to tempt Ebony away from the door of his office (our bedroom).

In a desperate attempt to convince Ebony that life was much better without Laurie, I whipped out the painting supplies. After playing with some sponge letters and paint, we moved on to finger painting. Ebony ended up coated in paint, and had to be taken straight to the bath once we'd finished.
living arrows

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