Teach your boys…

The news today was full of some terrible stories.  The young girl in Bristol for one, but also the horrible story of the men in India who have no remorse for the rape and death of a young girl who dared to go outside in an evening.  I won’t post the link here.  It’s found easily enough via the BBC news website, but suffice to say it upset me.  It was specifically the conversation about women not being the same as men.  That women are second class citizens.  That them and many children, are not the same worth as men. That women are nothing.

It reminded me of why feminism is needed.  That whilst there is this awful situation in India where it is still so ingrained in culture, there is still some of this ingrained in the culture here in the UK, USA and Australia.  That there are people who still believe that women are second class.  As long as this exists, there will never be equality.

Feminism isn’t just about empowering women.  It is also about empowering men.  Releasing them from the shackles of what is expected from them, culturally.  Giving them their freedom too.

We can’t just teach our girls about what THEY can do and by that I’m not talking about how they avoid being attacked, treated badly or being raped by staying inside.

We must use our most strongest weapon to chip away at the barbaric culture that treats human beings differently depending on their sexual organs or sexual orientation.  The strongest weapon we have to smash pre-conceived ideals that have become norms because nobody wanted to rock the boat.  Our sons.  Our boys.

We must teach our boys that:

  • Boys can cry
  • Boys can do ballet, teach and nurse
  • Girls can be digger drivers, doctors, train drivers.
  • Anything a girl can physically do and chooses to do, can be done.
  • Boys can be kind.
  • Being kind is not girly.  It is humany.
  • Love is far more powerful than sex and lasts a whole lot longer.
  • Women can change their mind because it’s their body involved and it’s their right to choose what to do with it every second of every day.
  • Sport is for everyone.  The game tactics sometimes change depending on who is playing.  Enjoy the difference if you see it.  Enjoy the game regardless if you don’t.
  • Girls can be strong.
  • Boys can care.
  • Men can stay at home to look after the children if it works for the family.
  • Women can work a 40 hour week if it works for the family.
  • Men can like other men.  Being gay isn’t catching and it doesn’t make you less heterosexual because you think being is gay is fine.
  • Being gay is not an insult.
  • Girls can wear whatever they want.
  • So can boys.
  • Clothes don’t tell you anything about the girl. No clothing is an invitation. They are a fashion statement.
  • Strength isn’t everything. Don’t find out the hard way.
  • Boys can dance.
  • Boys can read.
  • Boys are exactly, EXACTLY the same as girls, they just sometimes make different choices.

What would you add to my list?

My secret weapon

My secret weapon

 

The Awful Tooth

Dear Tooth,

I’m so sorry I’ve taken you for granted. Please stop hurting.

Love me X

I have had a throbbing, painful tooth for over 2 weeks now and finally plucked up the courage to book an appointment at my dentist.  Obviously I chose a dentist that was in London.  Travelling for 3 hours seemed the only logical option.  ;)

I went to see my old dentist as I hadn’t had a chance to find one in my new area, or certainly not one that anybody could recommend.

The news wasn’t great.  The large, deep filling I have is infected and it looks like there is now new decay underneath the filling.  I was given two options.  Either have a go at root canal work with a crown on top or take the tooth out.  I’ve definitely heard of root canal and all the horrible stories associated with it, but I couldn’t contemplate having my tooth out.  It’s a really obvious tooth that you can see and is key to me being able to chew my food.

However, if the root canal doesn’t work, I have to have it out.

Cue panic.

I immediately took to twitter to “talk out” what that meant.  I’m 40 for goodness sake!  40 year olds don’t have dentures.

So I’ve had a few options thrown at me.  Bridges were mentioned.  Implants as well.  All costing an absolute bomb.

I’m not ready to start losing my teeth.  Tell me I’m not some sort of early ager.  Tell me I’m not going to be putting my teeth in a glass by the bed.

Tell me this is normal……….please?

teeth in a jar

Monster High Cake

Well, here I am again with a step by step guide on how to make a birthday cake (in this case a  Monster High Cake) even if you aren’t a particularly good baker. I make 2 cakes a year (excluding trial runs) and they are for Pickle’s and TM’s birthdays.  Very very occasionally I’ll make a bunch of cupcakes. I seem to be ok making cupcakes, must be the short cooking time and I quite enjoy making coloured buttercream. However, I see each birthday as an opportunity to do some creative, learn something new sometimes and give my children a cake they’ll hopefully remember.

Getting the perfect cake made for you is very costly and whilst the ones in the supermarket seem to look good, you can never find the right kind and my children (and me) don’t really like fondant all over a cake – we just never eat it. So, this year, Pickle decided she wanted a Monster High Party and this is how I made the cake.

Her party was on the Sunday so I did the first stage on the Friday.  I had coloured fondant that was left over from my son’s cake and made a round disc shape.  I had purchased letter cutters from Amazon and used these to cut out my daughter’s name (see below for what I did). I had some edible glue to stick the letters to the disc, but you can used sugar and water.  I left it to dry on my trial cake I’d made a few days earlier. I held it onto the cake using toothpicks and left it moulded around the curve of the cake. I left it there to dry and harden for the 2 days. I made the cake below on the Saturday and once it cooled I wrapped it in clingfilm.

The buttercream was done on the morning of the Sunday as I was unable to wrap or cover the cake due to it’s height and I was paranoid about leaving butter in the elements for too long. By all accounts I don’t think a day is an issue, but as I said, I’m paranoid.

Making the Monster High Cake

Firstly I purchased a Wilton Wonder Mould. I did try to fashion the cake in a trial run with 2 sandwich tins and a pyrex bowl but it didn’t end well. I then opted to not make my own cake mixture from scratch.  I did so for TM’s cake, but due to the fact I was making something so different from what I normally do, I decided to take the pressure off the actual cake by using Betty Crocker’s Devil’s cake mixture.  For this cake mixture I used 2 packets.  I followed the instructions on the packets and mixed the two packets seperately (so as to not overflow the mixing bowl).

DSC_0053I use a very cheap mixer and it’s playing up at the moment so I could only mix on “boost”, but it worked fine. A hand mixer will work fine too.  A standalone mixer gives you hands free though, so it’s been brilliant to have one.

Whilst mixing I then buttered and floured the mould.  For the un-itiated (and I hope some who are, read this) just put a bit of butter on some greaseproof paper / baking parchment to hold it and rub the entire inside of the mould. Take out the rod in the middle and grease that too.  Then flick flour over the butter until the tin is covered in a fine layer of it.  This will prevent your mixture from sticking to the tin.

Make sure you put the rod back. DSC_0050 Once you have greased and floured the tin, pour the mixture in and it went in the over on 180 degrees fan for 1hr 15 min.  I did a trial run of this and checked the mixture after 30 minutes and then every 15 minutes after that by sticking a large knife into the mixture.  It’s ready once you’ve pulled the knife or metal prod out and no cake mixture sticks to it. I left it to cool for 10 minutes and then used a knife to just slice the top of the cake so I had a nice flat surface to put the cake down on.  I then dug out the rod (ha ha) I then turned the cake down onto a cooling rack (I use the metal shelf from the grill on the kitchen counter) and let it cool completely.

Before cooking

Before cooking

DSC_0056

After Cooking

lopping off the top

lopping off the top

Cooling

Cooling

Next I picked one of the Monster High Dolls from her growing collection.  I stripped her down and wrapped her lower half in cling film. DSC_0061 I then pushed the doll into the hole at the top of the cake and kept pushing down until her feet stopped at the bottom.  Her hips were still out of the cake, but that doesn’t matter. You can fill with the space with buttercream. Make your buttercream.

I use a recipe from a Rachel Allen baking book for vanilla buttercream and multiply the quantities.  Doing a test run will help you gauge how much to make. I then used A LOT of Black colour gel .  After my test run I ordered 4 more containers and I used the lot. I’m still sure the icing was a dark grey.  I made another lot of buttercream with violet gel. Then I was ready to start piping.

I have a couple of bags and quite a few nozzles, but I ended up making one bag of black buttercream with interchangeable nozzles and then I did two violet with 2 disposable bags and had different nozzles in each. The top half of the dress was done with a small to medium round nozzle and the dress bit at the bottom was done with a flat ribbon nozzle.  I wouldn’t get too hung up on which nozzle to use.  If you do a trial run, have a play around with them.  Ideally using the smaller nozzle for the body piping and the outline of the triangles and filling in with a bigger nozzle. I however, had a huge nozzle and had to flatten it down.

Doing the body was surprisingly easy (buttercream really does stick to it) and I just did a black boob tube with a V neck tie and then did alternative coloured piping down the bodice. DSC_0062This is the video I used as a guide for the decoration.  I chose it because it was entirely buttercream (which I think is forgiving) and no matter how messy it went, I figured it was still going to look good. I swapped the pink for violet which was the right colour for this particular doll (Clawdeen Wolf) and kind of did my own thing with it.

Before doing the bottom of the dress, I put the fondant name plate on the cake, holding it in place by putting 4 toothpicks into the cake for it to balance on.  I then used the black buttercream to partly hide the black part of the name plate so just the blue name showed prominently. This is what the finished cake looked like. I have obscured Pickle’s name here though.   cake no name 2 I bought the silver 7 from Hobbycraft along with the cake board.  In order to put the candles on I used leftover fondant and pinched them into triangles around the board and put the candles into them. I think overall it looked far more spectacular than it really was.

My daughter was over the moon and I was so pleased I’d managed to make something exactly as she wished.

Before presenting it to the birthday girl I let the doll’s hair down (I’d put it up for all the piping) and you’ve never seen a happier girl as she blew out the candles.

If you have any questions about any aspect of this, just ask below. I’ve researched everything so should be able to point you in the right direction.

Happy baking.

First kiss, First Love, First sex

I was having a chat on Twitter with Post-40Bloggers about firsts yesterday.

Who can remember their first kiss, first love, first sex?

If there is one thing I will tell my daughter and son as they grow up is that you think firsts won’t matter that much but you will be asked the question a zillion times in your lifetime so make sure it’s a story you want to talk about.  One that doesn’t make you look like a complete plonker.

I hate firsts.  To be honest, I hate seconds and thirds.  I’m at my happiest on about 10ths. I’m more secure, less paranoid, know the lay of the land (so to speak).  I guess it won’t surprise you I’m not a big fan of the unknown and unfortunately “firsts” fall into that category.  Serial shaggers or people who hop from one relationship to the next for the buzz of “firsts” are like aliens to me.  I’m waaaay on the other side of the fence.

First kiss?  Sadly it was with a complete stranger and coincided with my first bit of alcohol at the age of 17.  (yes…..I was a late bloomer).  I’d drunk one can (!)of vodka and passiona and I was OFF MY HEAD.  I remember it being quite nice.  To be honest, it would never have happened for years had alcohol not been involved.  Far too shy.

First sex and first love coincided.  Although not in the lovely sweet way you could imagine.  My parents were away in the UK and I was in Oz in the family home with my sister.  I was 18 and a half and I “picked up” a guy in a nightclub.  My friend and I knew his mate from school so all four of us drove back to mine.  It was the weirdest thing in the world that at that precise moment, after waiting over 18 years (and being the last of my mates to lose my virginity) it was absolutely the right thing to do.  Even though it was with some bloke I’d only just met.  I’m not embarrassed by this story.  I think my age sort of cancels out the casual element of it (well I think it does).  Anyway, it was naturally awkward.  I wasn’t drunk although I’d had a couple and I think I just wanted to get it over with.

He ended up shagging another of my mates whilst I was dallying with an old flame the following week (and yes, I slept with the old flame —– “Don’t stop me now, I’m having such a good time”……….) and then somehow we hooked up and started seeing each other. I was engaged by 19.  Was with him for about 3 years in all.

I got engaged because I was in love.  Truth be told I was in love with the idea of being in love.  I felt so grown up.  Like that was what being a grown up was all about. Playing at grown up.  Absolutely ridiculous.  The guy was abusive and for about 2 years a raving alcoholic.  I have no idea what I was thinking.  I didn’t do too well on number 2 either. Thank goodness Mr40 showed up as Number 3.

With Mr40 I did like the first kiss in a park in London, but I preferred the 10th.  The same with all my firsts with him.

If I ever find myself unfortunately in the position of finding love and doing all those firsts again………can I just skip to the 10th please?

1st

New Age Parenting Can Do One

I consider myself very open-minded, I do understand that something I don’t “get” isn’t necessarily wrong, it’s just not for me.

In that vein I’ve tried to be very open about different parenting methods too.  The bottom line is that if your child is happy and you are happy then you must be doing something right.  I read any new article on a new parenting method, considering the pros and cons.  Unfortunately quite a few find a way to boost themselves up by putting other methods down which is a shame.  Like those of us who went with what we thought was right at the time, are now very bad parents.  *Sigh*.  One more thing to add to the guilt list huh?

Anyway….that’s bye the bye.

What really really really pisses me off about the new wave of parenting is that YOUR parenting methods now affect MY enjoyment when I’m out in public.  THIS IS NOT ON!

I love that you have embraced the whole “no step”, “no smacking”, “no punishment” level of parenting.  Woo hoo.  Mother and Father of the year winging its way to you.  I bet you pat yourself on the back every night at your kinder, more loving approach.  What you haven’t considered is how the whole “positive reinforcement only” approach causes a problem in the many many years of application whilst your child is sat in a cinema, theatre, restaurant or any manner of places that I am also sat in.  Ignoring bad behaviour, antisocial behaviour or being very half-hearted about trying to get your children to behave does nothing for me.  In the meantime they have ruined a meal out with friends and family, ruined an expensive cinema trip and most importantly for me, marred an evening out to watch my daughter on stage.

2 hours of kicking the back of my chair. <insert half hearted mother saying “stop doing that”> with a nice overlap of them leaning right into my ear and talking loudly over the top of the music for over an hour.

I’m so cross.

I don’t mind a bit of naughtiness, but I expect a parent or guardian to step in within a few minutes and consider the people around that child.

I tried. I tried so very hard to ignore it.  I did lots of internal chat about children being children and to focus on the stage.  I thankfully didn’t turn around and have a right go, but I was so cross about it.  Unforgivable that your precious child should have the right to ruin a special trip out.   Bearing in mind your delightful daughters were of school age and my 4-year-old son was sat in front doing none of that.  He was a bit wiggly and he had a dance and played with his toy. I may have been drip feeding him sweets……but he is 4.

It wasn’t just tonight. I’m seeing it more and more where you’re reaping the benefits of your parenting methods at MY cost.

Keep with your positive parenting methods but if your child is incapable of being in public without ruining other people’s experiences then don’t take them there. It isn’t fair.

It’s just not fair.