Monday, 30 March 2015

Watercolour Egg Garland - Vegan Easter Craft Project

When I was pregnant, I was quite apprehensive about parenthood. I'd made a choice, and I was happy, but I didn't look forward to it, exactly. After I found out we were having a girl, I remember standing in the craft section of Paperchase (the big one on Tottenham Court Road), looking at all the glitter, and craft paint, and stamps, thinking - yes. Yes. YES! I get to play with all this stuff! And she's finally, FINALLY old enough to paint with. And although I know how to sew and make some stuff, I wouldn't describe myself as crafty in the scrapbooking/holiday card kind of way, so this is quite a new venture for both of us. I got the idea from
Fare Isle on her beautiful Instagram feed.

So, I cut egg shapes out of watercolour paper. Just freehand, I don't think anyone here minds if they are a bit wonky. I also made them biggish, like goose egg size.

Make up some paint colours. If you're a real control freak, you could limit the colour palette however you see fit. I sort-of had to get her started with globs of paint, then she caught on.

Ooooooooh, pretty. She was absolutely engrossed working on this. I should say, we were painting at the dinner table, with her in the highchair. It's another instance of the Stokke Tripp Trapp being absolutely brilliant (I scoffed at a highchair that pricey, but I am so converted), so once again glad to have a cheap table and a good highchair. The only other time we've tried painting, she kept wandering around with painty hands and feet, causing me more stress than I care to admit to.

Then they have to dry.

They curled up a little bit, but once dry I could easily flatten them with my hands.

Next I just taped them to a piece of yarn, 3 or 4 inches apart. I suppose you could poke a hole in the tops for a sturdier garland, but I wanted to keep them intact.

Voila! Easter decoration, afternoon activity, good fun.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Thoughts on Tantrums: Being There

Tantrums are becoming a normal but not-altogether-welcome part of our lives. She feels strong emotions, like anyone else, but doesn't understand how to process them. Something very normal, like a flash of anger or impatience or frustration is just overwhelming. I don't pretend to have all the answers; these are just my thoughts and current tactics:

Friday, 27 March 2015

3 Days Without Internet

That's all it took, 3 days without internet and I was desperate. I couldn't upload any photos! I couldn't do my course work! I couldn't Instagram!! Slightly ashamed to have been shown the extent of my raging addiction.

Some pictures from drought week:



Cute little thing!

Ok, I'll stop rhyming.

We haven't decorated our bedroom since rearranging to fit the new bed, and I kind-of like it this way. Wabi sabi, man.

Always reading.

Pretty quilt.
Our little reading den.
What else is new with us? Her vocabulary continues to blow my mind - too many new words to count, and she's learning everyday. Current favourites include octopus, tofu and toot. She's really into pretending right now, so feeding her toys, making them kiss things, pretending to go to bed, using anything and everything as a phone... This is a delightful age. Delightful, I tell you.

Just now, as I was writing this, she sat bolt upright and went 'Monkeys! Monkeys! Monkeys!', then went back to sleep. God, they are funny.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Uncle Will's Manly Vegan Plantain Chili

My younger brother is a scientist, vegan, and all-around good guy, and he has kindly shared this recipe with me. I was chatting to my family on Whatsapp about plantains, like normal people do, and my brother said he puts them in chili. Say what? - said I. Need. Recipe. Now. It's hearty and smoky (and hot!), with a bit of sweetness from the plantain. It has both beer AND whiskey (how's that for manly?), giving the broth serious depth. I had to make a few substitutions, which are noted at the bottom, partially because I'm a wimp and just reading it made my ears pop, partially to replace a few ingredients I couldn't find locally. But this is as written by Uncle Will, with Californian ingredients:

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Scenes of a Sunday (And Some Free Family Activities in London)

I love Sunday! The day started out right - we all slept in until 7:20 (yes, that's sleeping in these days), then snuggled in bed while her dad tried to read the paper:

Ambled downstairs for waffles and blueberries:
Then we decided to go to Mudchute Farm in the Docklands! Made some friends:

As a vegan, how do I feel about farms and zoos? The truth is that I don't know yet. I don't want to tar them all with the same brush, so for now I am keeping an open mind. Seaworld? No thanks. But Mudchute Farm is actually pretty cool, from what we saw. It's also free to the public! 
Afterward we thought we might swing past the London Docklands Museum so F could eat the lunch I packed, then have a run around in their (also totally free) soft play area. She spent most of the time pushing a wheelbarrow, or trying to get into the water:

South London, innit:

Feeling very 90's with my cool Vegetarian Shoes. Is it true that you're too old for a trend if you can remember it from the first time around? If so, I am too old for this...


Such a nice family day out! For free! And it's only naptime...

Friday, 20 March 2015

First Day of Spring

Happy First Day of Spring! This funny kid:


Getting into the sink from her play kitchen and going 'bath! bath!' - she looks so serious! We got her some new spring and summer clothes yesterday as well, and she wants to wear them all at once:

She also *might* have worms (boooooo), which by the way is where I draw the line in my respect for all living creatures. Kill 'em all. De-worming just in case. Motherhood is so glamorous sometimes, I just can't...  

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Citrus & Cinnamon Baked Vegan Spelt Doughnuts

Phew, that's a mouthful. But that's what they are, citrusy spiced, wholegrain, healthy(ish), baked doughnuts, and obviously they are vegan to boot. 

I learned how to make baked doughnuts last fall, because I was obsessed with the idea of serving them at F's first birthday (I was spending way too much time on Pinterest, ended up making 3 dozen for the party). I think I got the first recipe from the PETA website, but quickly modified it into my own creations, most of which are recorded on the back of envelopes. Just recently I was thinking about them again, and how I'd love an iced doughnut that didn't rely on white icing sugar - then I remembered that we live in the era of cashew cream! So these aren't glazed exactly, rather topped with a sweetened, lemony cashew cream. Sold? Ok, here we go:

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Refinishing an Old Table, Badly

This was going to be a triumphant DIY post, I had it all planned. I'd debut my awesome, new-old table, and show off my crazy amazing skills. Buuuuuuut, I'm really not happy with table top colour - I honestly think it must have been mislabeled. It was supposed to be Jacobean Dark Oak, which was, you know, dark brown. I wouldn't describe the sample as being warm or even chestnut-y. And it's turned out orange. SUPER orange. Thoughts?

I do like the paint - It's Dulux Proud Peacock, and it's cheerful. I changed my mind about replacing the cup handles because I couldn't get them off.

My guy actually likes it, and I'm probably too lazy to complain and redo the whole thing. (This was taken after the lentil-pocalypse that was lunch today. She loves lentil soup, but man, it's a mess.)

I sanded the top with an electric hand sander, and finished it with 3 coats of Danish oil. Supposedly it is a blend of 'natural oils', but it certainly doesn't smell like it - it's high VOC stuff. I've used boiled linseed oil in the past, which is a delight to use, provided you don't leave your oily rags lying around - apparently they can self-combust! (As an aside, what kind of devil-plant is flax anyway? It can light itself on fire, make a weird/amazing vegan egg, or become perpetually wrinkly hippie trousers. Same plant. I read once that people also used to use it to make hair gel in the 20's, for those lacquered marcel waves.) I didn't even consider it for this project though, because, ironically, I didn't want the colour to be too warm. Boooo. So, the Danish oil is easy to use, pretty inexpensive and appears to be impermeable, but it's not as 'natural' as it might sound. I also used it in a different colour to refinish our kitchen work surfaces last weekend - that one we meant to be orange-y because it more or less matches the colour on an original dumb waiter in the corner.

In other news, F. is obsessed with plantains, roasted or fried:

She ate them all. Not exaggerating.

And our house is lousy with flowers, which I love. I often buy whatever is cheap at the farmer's market, especially this time of year, and then there was Mother's Day (Happy late UK Mother's Day!), then a friend brought us some (even though she really didn't have to!) - I love it so much. If I could, I would have flowers in the house all the time.