Being Green · Education · Family

Is Saving The Planet Reserved for the Middle Classes?

green-planet

The other day, I was driving out of the supermarket behind a Toyota Prius and I thought to myself “If I had more money, I’d buy a hybrid car”. It was just one lone thought that swept through my brain picking up the debris of other ideas that had been languishing in my grey matter and it all balled up into one big thought:

“Is it only well-off people who are able to do their bit for the planet?”

I know that everyone is able to recycle, that doesn’t cost anything, and there are plenty of other things that the cash-poor can do, such as upcycling furniture and homewares to prevent them from ending up in landfill, but when it comes to the bigger measures, people in a lower earnings bracket are stuffed.

1. They cannot afford to invest in new cars which offer less reliance on fossil fuels. In fact, many families will be relying on older cars with much higher emissions, just to be able to afford a car at all.

2. They cannot afford to kit their houses out with tech such as solar panels, which again reduce the dependence on energy which is derived from burning of fossil fuels.

3. They can’t afford to buy premium foods, therefore contributing towards meat and other ingredients which are not so ethically sourced, grown or cared for.

4. Many live in cheap housing, which means the actual energy efficiency of their homes is low, and energy is wasted because of the lack of insulation and energy-saving measures in place.

I’m aware that there are grants in place for certain things with many councils, such as loft insulation and such, but many families don’t fall within the bracket to receive such grants, earning slightly too much to be considered, whilst not technically having any disposable income at the end of the month.

It goes further than this too – because of the divide between what it’s possible to earn and what it’s realistic to live on, many people in this bracket will only be able to afford to buy things cheaply, furniture for instance, which is made as cheaply as possible and therefore in a not very eco-conscious way, which will wear out a lot quicker, causing a kind of disposable lifestyle that is directly responsible for the alarming rate at which landfills are filling up.

Sites like Freecycle are a great idea in principle; one mans trash is another mans treasure and all that, but is it really enough? Shouldn’t we, shouldn’t the Government, be thinking of ways in which people of lower means can contribute towards conscious living?

For one thing, I don’t think we’re doing enough in schools. More teaching should be done and from a younger age, to make it second nature to recycle and think about the life cycle of the products we’re using, as well as where food comes from and how we move it around the planet. I hate the fact that our education system starts so early here in the UK, but there are ways that we can use that to our advantage, as kids are much easier to teach habits from a younger age.

Do people think about their carbon output when they take a plane to go on holiday and is there a way that we could offset that so that foreign travel becomes carbon neutral? It’s all very well visiting beautiful Maldivian islands, but if global warming continues at it’s current rate, all of those incredible islands could be underwater within my lifetime. 

All I know is, the thought of the planet dying because we can’t do anything scares the poop out of me, but by the same token I don’t know what else I can do. If you’ve got any suggestions you can make that might help us to reduce our carbon footprint, which don’t cost £21,845 (that’s the STARTING price for a new Prius, just FYI) please let me know. In the meantime, I’d love to know what you think about the role of the ‘average’ family in saving the planet and whether you feel you’re able to ‘afford’ a more eco-friendly way of living.

Parenting · Personal

Scraped Knees and Pony Stalking – Confessions of a Helicopter Parent

Helicopter Parenting

 

I’ve always been quite happy to admit that I’m a helicopter parent. Husband and I both are in fact (me more so than him), and our ethos has always been “We’d rather be safe than sorry”, but a couple of things have happened recently which have made us reconsider our positions.

The first thing was Sausage’s first pony lesson last week. As I mention before, she’s started a course of pony lessons throughout the Summer Holidays, a half-hour lesson a week and once she’s five we’ll see if she wants to carry on with regular horse riding tuition. So, we took her to the stables, watched her get kitted out, set off with her trainer…and then stalked the through the woods as she took her lesson.

Okay, stalking may be a *bit* strong, but most of the other parents waited back at the stables for their kids to get back, while Husband and I walked (at a respectful distance, which was more his choice than mine…I’d have been hanging off of her stirrups if I’d had my way) the whole way and didn’t let her out of our sights for a second. As we were walking back, we started chatting and Husband suggested that if we were going to let her do these things then we really needed to let her do them, without us eyeballing her all the time. It must be off-putting, having your own cheer-squad trotting through the bushes next to you, but I find it very difficult to take a step back.

Another prime example of this is an accident that Sausage had last week. We were getting out of the car and walking up our drive when she tripped on the remnants of the old metal gate post that our landlord never properly removed. She scuffed her knee up pretty badly (it bled quite a lot) but she really lost her cool and screamed all the way into the house. I can’t help but wonder if she’d have been better equipped to deal with this if she’d had a few more scraped knees in her life? She’s never really fallen like this because Husband and I are always there to catch her, which means now, at almost 5, scraped knees are a massive deal.

I’m not sure that my reactions always help either. When she fell over, my instinct was to scrape her up and kiss her tears away, which doesn’t necessarily help when she’s looking to us to gauge how to deal with pain and trauma. Husband is a lot better at these things, he’s able to suck up his own need to comfort her, in favour of a ‘come on, walk it off’ type reaction, which is far more healthy for Sausage to learn.

I’m not saying that I think our parenting tactics have been wrong all these years – Sausage is a very bright child, who knows how loved she is and is confident in many areas, which I can’t help but feel is because of parental involvement. However, there are areas in which she could do with a boost, becuase she’s unsure of how to proceed when she doesn’t have me or her Dad behind her.

It’s a diffuclt balancing act – at this age, a change of direction could seriously pull the rug out from under her and I don’t want to shatter the confidence that she does have. However, I know we need to step back at times. This week, we’ve said that we’ll stay behind with the other parents at the stables, or maybe even go to the cafe next door for a cup of tea. It’s a small step, but it’s a step nonetheless. I just have to ignore the nagging, nauseating feeling that I’m taking the first step of many out of my daughters’ life.

Food

The Best Sandwich You’ll Ever Eat

It may not be pretty, but it sure tastes good!
It may not be pretty, but it sure tastes good!

Last week, I posted a picture of a sandwich on Instagram, and promised to post the recipe. There’s a bit of a backstory to this sandwich, which I thought I’d share with you first. As you may already know, Husband and I were lucky enough to get married and spend our honeymoon in the Maldives, on a beautiful, tiny island called Vakarufalhi. I can honestly say that this place was probably the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to paradise.

The sea was like bathwater and was so clear, the boats looked like they were floating in thin air. There was exotic wildlife everywhere you looked and the reef around our island was a haven for tropical fish, reef sharks and amazing birds.

Whilst there, we stayed in a bungalow of our own, and there was almost 24-hour room service that we could summon, although there were no sub sandwich shops near me! During the two weeks, Husband developed a bit of an addiction to the club sandwich that was on the menu, so much so that he even took a photo of the sandwich so that he could remember what was in it and make one once we got home.

Well, it took almost 7 years, but last Thursday I made Husband what we now call the ‘Vakarufalhi Club’ as a pre-dinner supper…and it was gooood! It’s one of those recipes that’s really personal, but too nice not to share, so I hope you appreciate it! It’s a heck of a sandwich; I dread to think of the calorie content, but if you’re a small eater this could probably feed two people!

Vakarufalhi Club Sandwich
Recipe Type: Main Meal
Author: Jayne Crammond
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1-2 depending on how hungry you are
This is the best sandwich you’ll ever eat!
Ingredients
  • 4 slices of white bread
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 2 rashers of bacon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tomato
  • A handful of lettuce
  • A slice of good cheese (we used Leerdammer)
  • Heinz Ketchup
  • Heinz Hot Sauce
Instructions
  1. Slice the chicken breast in half, width ways (butterfly) and grill until cooked through. We cooked ours on a George Foreman, which cooked it through perfectly and reduced the fat.
  2. Whilst the chicken is cooking, slice your tomato, onion and lettuce
  3. Grill your bacon
  4. Toast all four slices of bread
  5. Fry your egg in a little oil and butter the toast
  6. Once all of the elements are ready, you’ll need to start building your sandwich, layering it in the correct order, starting at the bottom:
  7. Toast – Fried Egg – Toast – Chicken – Bacon – Toast – Onion – Tomato – Cheese – Lettuce – Toast
  8. Add ketchup and a few splashes of hot sauce to the layer with the chicken and bacon in it
  9. You may want to stick a wooden skewer through to make sure it all stays together, but don’t forget to remove it before eating!

 This sandwich is best enjoyed sitting on the veranda of a bungalow on a tropical island, but if all else fails, your living room will do! This is a seriously indulgent, Man vs. Food type sandwich and I’ll be impressed if you can eat the lot, but it’s  holds a lot of sentimental value for Husband and I and was the perfect birthday treat.

Let me know if you try it, I’d love to know what you think.

Giveaway · Review

Paper Shaker: Review and Giveaway

Recently, the people from PaperShaker got in touch and asked if we’d like to try out their bespoke stationery service and with Sausage’s birthday coming up, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make some Thank You cards for her to give to people who buy her gifts.

The site currently only offers baby announcement and thank you cards, adult and kids party invitations and various wedding stationery, but the cool thing about the site is that all of the cards are customisable, so I managed to make some beautiful thank you cards suitable for a 5-year-old to give out from the wedding thank you templates on the site. I added a gorgeous picture of Sausage that I took a few months ago and adjusted the graphics around the edge – here’s the result:

click on image for link to Paper Shaker site

Aren’t they gorgeous? The photo is printed in really high quality too, so people could probably frame it afterwards, if they chose to.

We were even able to customise the text on the back of the cards, adding our own personalised message.

And now for the best bit – you could win your own set of PaperShaker cards too! I have three sets of cards with free p&p to give away, which you can design and customise yourself. All you need to do to enter is fill in the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Education · Family

Holiday Learning – Code Breaking

codebreaking

I know it’s only the first week of the holidays, but Husband and I are really keen to continue some form of learning with Sausage over the next six weeks. She worked so hard in her first year at school and we’d hate for all of that learning to ebb away over the course of the holidays, so I’ve made it my mission to come up with some fun ways for her to keep up the good work without her really knowing that she’s learning while we do it!

Yesterday, Sausage was playing a game and I heard her mention something about a secret code, which gave me an idea. When you were a kid, did you do that thing where you wrote the alphabet out and then assigned a different letter of the alphabet to each one? My friends and I would make up some really elaborate codes when we were kids, but I figured this would be the easiest way to do things with Sausage as she’s still only young.

CODE

We started by writing our names in the code and Sausage picked up the idea of code breaking really quickly, writing her name, Mummy, Daddy and Chuck with ease. Using the code means she has to think about how words are spelled whilst working out the corresponding letter, which really gets the grey matter working.

The next challenge was writing words in the code and asking her to decode them into the correct words. She loved working backwards and even started to remember which letters were which in the code, so she could decode things without even looking at the key.

This is a pretty simple task, but it encouraged Sausage to use lateral thinking to solve puzzles, whilst remaining fun (never underestimate the James Bond/spy angle!) and you can increase the difficulty level by adjusting the code. Shuffle the alphabet around rather than using forwards and backwards, or you could even assign a simple shape to each letter.

The picture of code above should be printable, if you right click on it and ‘save image as’, which should save you the effort of writing it out by hand.

OVG FH PMLD SLD BLF TVG LM!