Friday, 26 November 2010

I'm not Nigella, or Martha, or Kirstie....but.....

Meet Nigella, Martha and Kirstie. I assure you, I am none of these women.

But Christmas always turns me into baking, crafting homebody and Christmas, people, is upon us.  Like it or not.

Every year I try to make as many gifts as possible. Firstly, because I always want to spend my dough on dining out and drinking with friends; and secondly because Christmas has got to be one of the most wasteful, environment bashing, times of year.

Here’s what’s currently ‘trending’ in my house.


I have so many fucking kids in my matchbox flat I can’t even squeeze in a tree this year. This has got to be the first time since I lived with ‘Mr. Wasted Years’ that I haven’t had a tree. Of course trees don’t go up until the few days before Christmas in my house, but creating decorations can start whenever. This year poverty and space constraints mean that we will be hanging paper snowflakes. I found this webpage with super templates which I am going to try this weekend.


Every year the Sponge family and I trade chutney. Last year my offering was ‘Green Tomato Chutney’ made with the discarded fruits from a certain prison garden. I mean how many times have you received ‘Her Majesty’s Pleasure Chutney’? That was a coup. This year I’m going to try this recipe from Abel and Cole.


What to give my 3 month old daughter? Let’s face it – she doesn’t give a fuck about Christmas, no point in splashing the cash on her. I found this great shop on ebay where I can get wooden discs to make a mobile. I’m going to use some of the Christmas decorations that would have been on my tree this year. I’ll post the finished product when I’m done. Cheap as chips and useful. This shop also has loads of other products to help you craft Christmas decorations. They combine postage and post quickly. I love them.


If I confess that I’m not really into the whole baby hand imprint kit thing, I know loads of you will think I am just a miserable cow. True enough. However the grandparents love all that cutesy stuff so last night my son and I practiced with salt dough and glitter to make these stunningly tacky homemade keepsakes. A bit rough around the edges because he actually made them almost entirely by himself, but I'm sure you could do a better job.....

My two year old son has feet which are almost a size 9. This fact alone is worthy of the tackiness. Guess I will have to do baby girl’s too. If you don’t know how to make the dough see the end of this post.


A short while ago when I was incapacitated and sent Bushman out for some dessicated coconut he came back with a kilo of the stuff. Everyone’s getting Coconut Ice for Christmas – I don’t even care if you like it or not. You'll find loads of recipes on the net for chocolate truffles, peppermint creams and the like.


My parents love Pickled Onions and Sherry. They’re getting Onions pickled in Sherry Vinegar. See recipe here.


Lastly, I’m having a no wrap Christmas. Customised boxes and all those gift bags I seem to have accumulated will be the thing. I’m also going to make a few boxes from the templates on this website. I just love the shit you can get for free on the internet.

With the weather due to take a turn this weekend and whilst nearly all of us in this household have the lurgie, it will be an indoorsy few days – perfect for some Christmas preparations. Twenty-nine days to go, so get to it folks!!

Next time, I will be back with my sister’s Christmas Cocktail list. She used to work in a Soho Cocktail Bar and has just left Jamie Oliver’s ‘Fifteen’. Now the family’s official bartender; she’s also a bit of a lush - like her Sis.


Salt dough for Hand/Foot imprints

The recipe is:

1 cup salt

2 cups flour

1 cup water (add gradually, might not need it all)

1 tbsp oil (optional - makes dough easier to knead)

1 tbsp lemon juice (optional - makes finished product harder)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Tip out and knead into a dough. Leave wrapped in clingfilm in fridge for 20 mins if you have time. After using, leave to air dry or bake at 100 deg C for 2-3 hours.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Parents Anonymous

As Troutie I write anonymously and only a few people know my real identity. My family certainly don't read my blog and neither do many of my friends. My partner, Bushman, knows my blog exists but has absolutely no interest in it. He can't work a computer either which is just as well.

Lord knows what I'll do in the years to come if my children read my blog - but I'll just have to cross that bridge when I come to it. In the meantime though my anonymity is a luxury that I've come to treasure.

I'll admit that when I first started blogging I didn't really think about it very much - after all - you can always 'out' yourself if you change your mind and I've always kept in mind that if people really want to know who you are they can find out quite easily. As such, I try to maintain a balance between saying what I really think without causing too much offence. After all, who knows what the future may bring?

Anyway, the real reason for this post is to float an idea. A fellow blogger (and she's not the first) said sometimes she wished she had stayed anonymous. For some people however, its just not possible. So I thought how about guest posts where the blogger is anonymous?

If you wished you had kept your anonymity and want to get something off your chest drop me a line under the title 'Parents Anonymous'. As regular readers will be aware swearing, controversy and smut are all welcome here. I can't imagine there is much I wouldn't be prepared to post unless its trying to convince readers to join the BNP or something......

Equally if you aren't already a blogger and would like to dip your toe in the water then 'Parents Anonymous' could be for you.

I have no idea if this is already being done somewhere else but here are my rules.
  • Send me an e-mail with the title 'Parents Anonymous'
  • Give yourself a nickname/ghost name
  • You should really be a parent or a parent-to-be although the post does not have to be child-related.
And for my part:

I promise faithfully to keep your anonymity and any secrets you may impart (you could always use someone elses e-mail or set up a separate hotmail account if you want to be 100% anonymous). I promise to e-mail you a copy of the post before I publish it. It may be necessary for me to edit the post, or to only use part of it but I promise not to add anything or change the meaning.

I may have to add some rules as we go along but for now I think that's about it.......

So what are you waiting for?

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Its All Worth It......Yeah like fuck it is

Last week, a lady called Potty Mummy posted this and suddenly I found myself in a rage. It’s not that I didn’t agree with what Potty Mummy said, on the contrary, I made all the right noises of agreement whilst reading her post. What sent me on the feminist rampage is that I don’t think men feel like this.

I've been mulling over two theories which are entirely subjective. So let's cut the bullshit and get down to it.

Theory 1: You can love your children whilst hating motherhood. (Maybe 'hate' is a little extreme but you get my gist). I love seeing my children laugh and saying funny stuff but I fucking hate being a captive house-slave whose uniform consists of leggings and baby puke, who gets out of bed to be greeted by the same fucking chores, day in, day out. I need more than a fucking walk in the park people.

Theory 2: The 'swap' question is unanswerable, unfair and pointless. 

Potty Mummy sparked my thoughts when she said this:

"I walk upstairs and look in at two perfectly-formed heads asleep on their pillows. I look at the life that my Husband and I have made together. And whilst it would be trite - and untrue - to say that the sight of them makes everything alright all the time, I know that if I had the chance to swap - them or him - for what once was, I wouldn't consider it even for a heartbeat."

 I like the fact that Potty Mummy acknowledged that it is a little simplistic and sentimental to suggest that one look at your family is a 'cure all'. I can imagine that many share her opinion. The more I thought about this, however; the more I felt "Would I swap my life?" was a really unfair question.

As I put it (quite eloquently - I thought) in Potty Mummy's comments section:
"It's like asking whether you prefer champagne or perfume. They are entirely different; incomparable - except for the fact that they are both liquids."
I loved my BC (Before Children) life, although there were moments (usually when my head was down the loo) when I asked myself if it really was as much fun as I thought. I also love aspects of my new life but, let's get a couple of things straight.
Firstly, very few people, if given the chance, would genuinely swap their lives. Secondly, its never going to happen so it's a ridiculous question anyway and essentially I'm wasting my time on it.
But lastly, I ask myself "Do men think like this?" I'm willing to accept the fact that relationships come in all shapes and sizes and yes, there are single fathers out there and stay at home dads, and gay couples and polygamous families and all kinds of shit going on but..... really?
Do men really feel that BC/AC (Before Children/ After Children) gap? Do they really look longingly at skinny jeans and trendy jumpers with shawl necks and wonder if its appropriate for a 'father' to stay out late and french kiss on the underground? Do they really get up to the same chores that greeted them yesterday and feel the weight of the drudgery around their necks and worry how on earth they are going to lose that baby weight when all that gets them through those morning hours is the lure of a chocolate biscuit? Do they really spend time thinking about how much their lives have changed and whether they would swap it?
Not really, is my guess.
Everything (in this country anyway) is set up for women to be the child rearers. This makes the change in women's lives before and after they have children, very marked. In a lot of ways men carry on as normal.
Know what I want? I want 'Parental Leave' not Maternity Leave. I want more changing facilities in men's toilets. I want more men at 'Parent and Toddler Groups'. I want the role of 'stay at home' parents to be valued and respected. I want social policies in this country to encourage equal parenting because I don't want to sit around thinking about whether I would swap my before and after lives. I want both of those lives at the same time!

And on that heavy note we will finish off this post with something incredibly shallow - a modelling competition. See here.
Hopefully I'll be back soon with the story of how I almost smothered my newborn (accidentally) and set fire to the flat with my microwave - all in one week! Did I say that the life of a "stay at home mother' was dull or do you think these events might actually be a cry for help?

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Confessions: I did a bad thing.....

“I did a bad thing” I say to Bushman

“Yuh give her rum?” he asks

“No!” I said

“Yuh smoke weed with her?”

“No!” I said and cleared my throat

“I gave her a dummy”

Bushman sounded disappointed in me but I didn’t care, almost instantly I had revolutionised my life.

Here’s the thing I’ve realised. Try as we may, not to be judgemental, I’m sure its a human instinct. Whether in my childless days or even more recently, I will admit that I have looked at others parental practices and thought “God! I would never do that!” At the time I also felt that my way of doing things would be superior.

I feel shame and pride in equal measure when I tell you that many of the things I thought I would never do I have found myself doing and that many of my aspirations and ideals proved to be utterly ridiculous. Here are a few of them.

I swore BC (Before Child) that I would never sniff a bottom in order to discover the contents of a nappy. Tick – done that.

I was utterly convinced with my second child that she would sleep in my bed. Cross – never happened.

I seriously thought that I might be able to use washable nappies and thus have my son potty trained by one. What the fuck was I thinking? Cross - didn’t happen still in nappies at two years old.

I watched a child screw up a family photograph once and thought “I would never let my child do that.”. Wanna know the truth? If either of my kids give me five minutes peace in the day so I can mix a cocktail they can set fire to the whole fucking album for all I care. Tick – done that.

And don't even get me started on the hours of TV my child watches or processed food or how I thought I could continue being a glamourous socialiser and have kids.

I’m sure that mothers everywhere have similar confessions. Please feel free to share them with me if you so wish. I know I’m not alone.

As my friend Cupcake (Champion Breastfeeder) said to me the other day. “I’ve chilled out about the whole breastfeeding thing. I know so many amazing, strong women who I respect that don’t do it or couldn’t do it. What does it matter?”

Being judgemental about other people’s parenting choices is so instinctive. Of course you think your way is the best way. But the interesting thing about having a second child is that what worked for your first doesn’t necessarily work with your second, and those parenting techniques that you perfected and prized before are worth all but nothing now.

So now I got that off my chest we move on to my chest. I’m approaching dieting. I need to shake off some pounds before I embark upon all those Christmas indulgences. So here are my vital statistics.

Chest: a matronly 40”. Forty fucking inches. Both the tape and I were mortified. There not even big in a sexy way, more like in a Hattie Jacques way.

Waist: 35”. There no use pining over that 27 incher I used to have (albeit some years ago). Just no point.

Hips: 44” at their widest point. Making me, like most British women ‘pear-shaped’. I am worryingly wide.

Tops of legs: 24”. A wobbling wave of cellulite working its way down to my knees. I try not to think about the fact that 24” is near enough what my waist use to be.

I need to weigh myself but the last time I did I was 11st 9. I worry that I may weigh more than that as I stopped the breastfeeding and continued eating cake weeks ago.

Let’s see how I do.

Lastly, I want to share something useful with you. My laptop was near death a few days ago groaning under the weight of information I had loaded on to it. Then someone gave me a hot tip. Here’s the link to LBC’s gadget guru page where you can download a free program to help clean up your computer if it is running slowly. Read the instructions carefully, is my only advice. Now go clean up your act!!!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Turning Leaf

Yesterday, at 5am, after exactly two and a half hours sleep I was scrubbing sick out of the carpet. Sadly, it was not my own. Throughout the day every time I tried to get some rest, one of my two offspring thwarted my attempts. By the end of the day when the trick or treaters came out I was sat behind my door with a gun, wide-eyed and wired from lack of sleep. I ignored the first five attempts to get me to answer the door. Couldn't they hear the screaming baby? Didn't they realise I had already been well and truly 'tricked'? I opened the door on the sixth ring as I was introducing the bullet to the chamber. There she stood with an oversized witches hat at a jaunty angle and blonde ponytails poking out from underneath. Face paint adorned her cheeks and she smiled nervously to reveal a gap toothed grin. She couldn't have been much more than 7.

But I was really pissed off so I shot her anyway, perhaps it was the crack that tipped me over the edge?

However; just to show it's not all guns and drugs in Hackney......... here's the proof that we're also home to some rather lovely autumnal foliage.