Monthly Archives: May 2012

My List of Shame: are organic veg boxes harming the environment?

Excuse the handwriting

Ok, ok, the headline is a bit extreme. It’s not like those weekly waxed-boxes are flying private helicopters to climate change conferences or anything. I’m just wondering how many shrivelled turnips and soggy Swiss chard are filling up food waste boxes because of people’s good-intentioned ordering. I know in our house we have been shockingly wasteful with food at times, particularly when we get a box of veg we’re not too keen on. Would the environment actually be better off if we bought our veg from the end of the road, as and when we needed it?  Our purses would certainly be fuller, but the produce would most likely have been flown in and certainly not organic. Continue reading

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It’s not pasta, but they ate it

I’ve have heard of children who will eat things other than pasta or rice, but always assumed them an urban myth. I can shove a fish finger or a slice of pizza in mine without too much protest, but vegetables usually only gain access when they are chopped up almost invisible and stuck to little tubes of penne.

So in the spirit of sharing the kind of parenting tips I’d like to receive, here are two meals that my kids have eaten recently that do not contain pasta, but do contain SPINACH and LENTILS. They are not rocket-science recipes, but they did perform miracles.

1) Spinach pancakes

This is a basic pancake mix with spinach blended in to the mix. Trust me, it is surprisingly tasty. I found it on a blog under the headline ‘Spinach pancakes your kids WILL eat‘ – and they were right.

Spinach pancakes for kids

Yum… honest

Ingredients

Two handfuls of spinach
120g plain flour
120ml milk
1 egg
1 tbsp melted butter
Pinch of salt
Bigger pinch of sugar
Small amount of grated nutmeg (1/4 tsp)

Method

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I’m more tired than you. No, I’m more tired than you

Recently me and Boyfriend seem to have got into a bit of competitive ‘tireding’. It goes a bit like this:

I say (having been given a lie in until 8am): What time did Gertie wake up?
(I mean: I hope it wasn’t so early Boyfriend thinks he can go back to bed)

He says: I’m not sure, about 5.30am. I’m shattered.
(He means: 6am. I’m so much more tired than you)

I say: Oh dear
(I mean: I bet it was more like 6.30am. Stop complaining about being tired. I look after the kids all week while you swan off to work. That makes me MORE TIRED THAN YOU)

He says: How are you feeling?
(He means: Aren’t you lucky you had a lie in. You’d better give me one tomorrow)

I say: I’m quite tired. She was up a fair bit in the night.
(I mean: Didn’t you hear me? I’m more tired than you. Don’t go thinking I owe you a lie in tomorrow.)

He says: Oh was she? I didn’t hear.
(He means: I heard you and you were up ONCE in the night)

I say: Is there coffee in the pot?
(I mean: Did I mention I’m tired? I need a coffee just to get going – that’s how tired I am)

He says: It’s probably cold
(He means: I made it hours ago, while you were enjoying a lie-in – something I haven’t enjoyed for months…)

And so our day begins.

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Five things a good mother wouldn’t do

In the midst of all this blogging and crafting and baking I realise I am at risk of coming across a bit Stepford or supermum. So, just to set the record straight – here’s five things a good mother probably wouldn’t do (but I have).

1) Skip the plate stage and put food straight on the floor.
Yes, I confess. But desperate times lead to desperate measures (why won’t the buggers just EAT??), and anyway, they seem to prefer it a la linoleum.

2) Allow play with inappropriate objects just because it keeps them quiet.
“Don’t be ridiculous of course a 15-month-old shouldn’t be allowed to play with a £500 mobile phone. Oh, it keeps her quiet for 45 seconds you say? Go right ahead.”

Then there’s the destructive play. I run a constant ticker tape, calculating energy-required-to-tidy-up-mess-being-made VS energy-saved-by-getting-a-break-while-destruction-is-wreaked. Eg toilet roll unravelling = well worth it. Emptying clothes draw on the other hand, is not.  This is Gertie’s latest ‘toy’:

See how happy and contented and QUIET she is? Definitely worth it.

3) Allow big brother to dress little sister just because it keeps him happy. This picture was taken in March and yes, we did leave the house like this.

Believe me, this is better than some of the combos Stan has chosen for her.

4) Invent role-playing games that allow you to doze while playing. Classics include doctors and nurses where you are the patient; Christmas Eve when you are the sleeping child waiting for Santa; night-time at the farm etc. But my personal favourite is ‘Builders’ – I am always on a tea break. He falls for it every time. Ha!

5) Do anything for a good photo op – even if it makes your child cry. Oh come on, everybody does that – don’t they?

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Under-fives activities in Haringey

Locator map of the , shown (in red) within . {...

The fact that I can never tell when and for how long Gertie will sleep makes planning out-of-the-house activities quite tricky. When she wakes up from her morning nap (anywhere between 9am and 11.30am) I usually have to scramble through various children’s centre and library timetables looking for something on at that precise moment. There’s no room for delay as the time between naps equals exactlythe amount of time needed to get out and get back without risking a pushchair sleep.

Anyway, I’ve been promising a listings post for some time now, organised by days so it is an easy reference for others like me. Sorry it’s taken me so long but it turns out there’s bloody loads going on in Haringey. I’ve managed Monday-Wednesday – rest of the week to follow.  Continue reading

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Filed under Local stuff, Things to do with kids in Haringey

The rise of budget gyms

Originally written for The Guardian

easyGym, Wood Green

easyGym, Wood Green. Photo: Mohammad Hoseini

Poor gyms. They’ve suffered a few knocks recently. First there was an OFT investigation into unfair membership contracts. Then there was the Twitterstorm when LA Fitness refused to cancel the contract of a couple when the woman had fallen pregnant and the man had lost his job. And this double-dipper recession certainly isn’t helping membership numbers.

But out of the ashes rises a phoenix – in the form of no-contract, budget operators. A few weeks ago, not one but two leaflets advertising new no-contract gyms in my area dropped through my door. One was from The Gym Group, which has been on the scene since 2008 and currently has 20 gyms across England, with plans to open 20 more by the end of the year. The other leaflet was bright orange and familiarly fonted – easyGym; yes, Stelios has entered the fitness market.

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