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Peppa Pig Live Tickets Giveaway!

Ramona is in love with Peppa Pig. In LOVE.  When she broke her leg back in February, and I was seeking ways to comfort and distract her (apart from by covering her in porridge etc) we came across it on Youtube and giggled our way through episode after episode. And now, at least once an hour, for the last ten months, she has enquired “Peppa Pig? Me? Watch?” It is incredibly hard to get her to wear anything other than the two Peppa Pig shirts she has – to the point where I am currently working out how to stitch pig faces with scraps of fabric onto exisiting items… (Cor, I am a cheapskate mum.)

I don’t really mind, she isn’t emulating the grunty snorts and there ARE worse characters to love- at least Peppa is feisty and strong and independent, eh?  And I suspect she’ll grow out of this amore by the time it comes to choosing a life partner.

Ramona enjoying the Paralympics with Peppa

When Ramona saw the poster for Peppa Pig Live at the Criterion Theatre she was enthralled. It was pinned on the notice board at Tim’s rugby club and I couldn’t budge her. She stood in front of it, mouth open, gob smacked that Peppa Pig had followed her here! Of all places!

So, you can imagine how completely delighted I am to get to take her and a chum to the show in December. I just can not wait to see her face- I get a huge grin on my own just imagining it. (Although she is a bit frightened of Daddy Pig, she hides behind me whenever he comes on, so we’ll have to see how that goes down.)

And, you know what? I have tickets for YOU too. (Well, not all of you, I’m afraid.)

To enter the giveaway for a family ticket (two adults, two children) to the 2:30pm showing on Friday 14th December simply:

  • Leave a comment below, telling me about why you fancy getting your hands on these tickets!For an EXTRA entry:
  • Like Lulastic on Facebook or share tweet this post on Twitter (mention @lulasticblog)

The winner will be picked by random selection on Friday 30th November, at 9pm. And if you don’t win you can buy tickets from www.peppapiglive.com for showings between 6 December and 6 January.

Thank you and good luck, my friends!

************* UPDATED 30th November*********************

And the winner is…. KAROLINA! I have emailed you 🙂 Congratulations!

So sorry to the non-winners, I wish you many hours of joyful Peppa Pig viewing on Youtube instead!!!

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Knock, knock, knocking on Number 10’s door

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It was a scorching morning, the sun bearing down on our squinting faces, as we posed for photo’s, fake knocking on the famous door of Number 10.

I was representing Oxfam, along with other activists from Concern, ONE, Action Aid, Unicef and Save the Children, delivering a huge box of names – over 600,0000 people calling for immediate action on hunger in the Sahel area. The Prime Minster is holding a summit with all the VIP’s in town on Sunday – we had to let him know that we were all watching.

We toyed with what expression to put on for the photographer – happy, because everyone looks nicer with a smile, and we were thrilled that such a HUGE number of people were behind this, or stern, because 18 million people are starving to death each year? We each opted for something different, to mix it up a little. Unfortunately I was the Furious Scowling One. With the unwashed hair and the stain on her tee shirt.

There were some press inside the gate, and we piqued their interest a bit. They bossed us about, moving us around to get a good shot. I hope they cover this, I hope they show telly watchers how many people are involved in this fairer-world movement.

After much dillydallying, we handed over the box. And posed, fake knocking a bit more.

I really had to Instagram the hell out of this to disguise my slovenly ways

Job done, and as we thought about heading home, someone mentioned we could stay a bit, watch the Prime Minister get in his car.

Er.

I wasn’t keen. I was anxious, I had had to get friends to look after my daughter, Ramona, and I was already running late for them. And, why would I want to watch a stranger I wasn’t a fan of get in their car? I have to admit, a tiny bit of me considered whether I might be able to shout something out, to get across to him how urgent this was and how passionate we were. Would I get the sack? Or gunned down? Could I call out but in a kind, friendly, I-don’t-have-a-bomb-or-custard-pie way? As I wondered, someone else approached.

They ushered us out from behind the barriers, and explained that the Prime Minister would like to say hello.

We gathered by the door and a second later his chummy, pleasant face appeared. Not wanting to let a moment slip, in my Very Best, Most Articulate and Confidently Loud voice announced, like some kind of Head Girl speech, “We trust you are going to do every thing you can to create a world free from hunger” He pledged to. “We are passionate about a just world and hundreds of thousands of others are too.” He understood and chatted a bit more. Mo Farah was coming! They were gonna set up a race track! But he seemed positive that his hunger summit would be worth it.

As he left, we celebrated, we hugged and high fived. Delivering a petition turned into something that bit more. Not because we were stunned by the (very) rich and famous but because we hoped that the Prime Minister picked up our energy, that our faces, a little gang of global citizens, might be in his mind as he heads up Sunday’s meeting of leaders. Maybe he captured our hope and maybe we helped fortify him, to make the decisions he must. We can only wait and see.

And now I can say I didn’t even wash my hair for the PM. THAT is how much I don’t care for his Toryism and THAT is how much of a hippy I am.

Be a Good Un, find out more and continue to take action on Sahel here.

Breastfeeding Olympics- Toddler Heat

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Here we are in London, getting ready for one of the most highly esteemed sports here at the 2012 Games.

Taking her place in the Toddler Heat of the Breastfeeding Olympics we have Ramona of Camberwell, London, surely she will prove to be a legend in her time. At 22 months old she has been preparing for this moment in the limelight for well over a year and a half.

Ramona starts off steady, toddling towards the goal signalling her wish for milk. In a commitment to efficiency she has discarded all words (her favourite once being “BAPS”)  and has now streamlined it to something that takes much less effort- a mere greedy smacking of her lips.

Here we are able to witness the critical difference between an Olympian and a rubbish human- TOTAL DEDICATION. Nothing will steer them off course. Ramona marks out her target from the other side of the playground and makes her way over, ascending small mountains of sand, elbowing other competitors out of the way, pulling at her mother’s top with a verocity that gives her a clear advantage. With not a glance at the teenage boys huddled in the corner who may be getting ready to whip out at best a smirk, Ramona tucks in.

This is what winners are made of.

Of course, like most sports there is a team to think of here and Ramona makes sure Tiny Cat, Musical Duck, Stiff Haired Playmobil Fella, Thomas the Tank Engine all get a turn at exercising their nursing prowess.

We move on to the time-trials now as Ramona shows just how seriously she takes the Olympic motto of Faster, Higher, stronger. She hurtles in for a slurp lasting just moments before running back to the game she was previously involved in. Seconds later she is back, with yet another momentary tug and a sip and a squirt high in the air for good measure. And WHAT’S THIS?! Back for a third time in 5 minutes! This time showing true dexterity by nursing upside down whilst climbing over mummy’s shoulder.

The excitement is unbearable as we head into the all important endurance phase. Ramona steers quickly away from her triumph in the Swift Nursing round and as we head into the night time she reveals exactly how superior her talent for perseverance is. This tiny mite is but a GIANT when it comes to breastfeeding non-stop throughout the period when most mere mortals have to sleep.  It isn’t just chance that Ramona’s slogan is Sleep is for the Weak.

In the final round Ramona assures her supremacy by going all out in the multi-tasking phase. She steams ahead of the other competitors by nursing AND counting her toes AND honking mummy’s nose AND poking mummy’s tonsils AND singing Wind the Bobbin Up.

And, we get a glimpse at just how critical the apparatus are, as nipples are stretched, pulled, stamped on and knelt on in a keen display of athletic versatility and strength.

AND SHE HAS DONE IT! The Champion of the World in Toddler Breastfeeding Olympics, Ramona Lily of Camberwell. Dizzying heights for a toddler of such slight stature. If she could speak she would surely thank her team and all her fans but instead she simply stares adoringly up at her mummy and her mammory glands in a profound demonstration of team effort.

Back over to the Aquatic Centre now where our beloved Becky Adlington is stepping into the water…


It is World Breastfeeding Week! Here’s to a world free from breastfeeding  misinformation and myths, where women can nurse their children without being mocked or derided, where breastfeeding mothers can get applauded and celebrated and supported, and where walls put up between breastfeeders and bottlefeeders are pulled down because we are all mammas, all wanting the absolute best for our little legends.  Woop woop!

The world is my oyster… no, I’m the world’s oyster. I mean rice.

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I spoke at a Hunger Banquet for work the other week. You know  those events where you turn up for a meal and just eat rice? Well, this was at a restaurant and it kind of threw us all. When the waiting staff came over we asked what was on the menu. Then we marched on with a million other questions. “What does it come with?” “What kind of beans?” What sort of sauce?” Without a word of a lie it was the most questions I’ve ever experienced in a restaurant.  We ordered, she left, we were satisfied.

Then the food arrived. Mounds of plain, white rice.

WHAT THE HELL? We looked at each other in confusion. The organiser squinted at us with a “Are you serious?!” look and exclaimed ” This is a HUNGER BANQUET, people!”

We had conveniently forgotten and spent the rest of the evening shovelling rice in to our mouths with great misery.

Some of you know that I spent last week living on a £1 a day food budget. I would NOT have gone to that Hunger Banquet if I had realised quite how much Value rice I’d have to eat as part of my Live Below the Line challenge. Gah.

I learnt lots of thrifty food things:

Free fruit and veg at the end of market day is not too rotten- and free, did I mention that?
We are going to cut down our organic box order and raid the bins on a regular basis. That kind of waste can’t be justified.
A squeeze of lemon or orange juice can make a nice sauce – with a spoon of vegemite thrown in.
Value food is a lot, ALOT, cheaper than what we usually buy.
Organic really is a massive luxury and just not affordable on a budget.
Garlic should be chopped and thrown in last minute instead of cooked right at the beginning. Same with Soy Sauce.
Your body really does adjust to not eaten snacks all day.
We waste a lot of food. Well, Ramona does. We need to put her half eaten biccies in tupperware so we can re-use them easily.

Other things I learnt (the things I suspect I was meant to learn)

£1 a day is a tiny, tiny, TINY amount of money.
The insecurity of being unsure of having enough food is really frightening – particularly when you have children to feed.
I feel very removed from really poor people in my day to day life.
This exercise made me feel connected, by the end of the week my sense of “global citizenship” was hugely enhanced.
I do genuinely believe  with all my being that a future where everyone has enough to eat is possible.
I want to be a part of a movement that makes this happen.

Ramona needs this! teacollection.com

That is a LOT of learning for 5 days of having Hungry Eyes. (I literally sang that song to myself all week as I stared at people’s tea and cake.)

At the end of the Hunger Banquet I mentioned earlier, the chef who did the cooking came up. She dumped the leftover rice on our table and said something along the lines of “Ridiculous middle class  English people trying to empathise with the poor but actually just mocking them”. We were shocked, particularly as we were all feeling very worthy right at that moment.

There is potential for Live Below the Line to appear that way- a sort of posturing that raises some money (£350,000 to be exact) but fails to actually address the root causes of poverty and primarily serves our “saviour complex”.

However it is forgiven this by being such a powerful exercise in solidarity. There is no way of imagining life as the poorest without trying to embody it in some miniscule way. Of course, it doesn’t compare in the least- we still for the most part had warm homes, gas to cook with, water to drink, jobs to go to, social networks that build in resilience.

 But it bought me back to the reality of millions of people with a stonking big thud. I am convinced that if we all felt a little bit more connected to our global brothers and sisters things would INSTANTLY improve. I am sure that a sense of global citizenship for everyone is the essential first step towards a more just and equal future. Live Below the Line definitely achieves this.

Celine Elliot’s Global Citizen illustration – thinkactvote.org

I do have a worry that I sound like I’m trying to be Gandhi, writing this post. And I guess it’s a worry people often feel when they try to make a difference. That people will just think them self righteous do-gooders but I think this is a fear we need to get over.

Perhaps one way of getting over it is using the thing you LOVE to do to join the movement of change makers. Combining a passion for justice and equality with your appreciation of knitting (someone, somehow is doing this, trust me) blows stereotypes of interfering do-gooders out of the window. It re-sets people’s tired old brains – jogging their minds to remember that another world IS possible. It is like, totally, the bomb. Oof, this craft-changey-knit-movement subject is SO a whole freaking post. Watch this space, peeps, watch this space.

Love,

Girl Gandhi*

PS – I am ten measely quid short of my target – go on, be a global citizen and give some to the Salvation Army’s poverty fighting work.

*This is an in-joke about the time I wanted to be called Eric. You can read about it if you want.

Food, inglorious food – Live Below the Line Week’s Menu

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No wonder they call it the Live Below the Line Bleeding Challenge – this is SO TOUGH!!!!!

We have been hugely reliant on the rotten fruit and veg I scavenged, I simply don’t know how we would have managed without it.   As Fiona said in her awesome comment on my Vlog post (have a look- such a good wee story)  – it is just about survival!

The harvest festival haul from bins at Walworth Road

It is true but it did make me laugh as it reminded me of a story from when Tim and his brothers and pa went camping in the wilds and things got a little hairy and someone (remaining anonymous) burst out with “IT’S ABOUT BLOODY SURVIVAL!” and now it has kind of become a bit of a catchphrase. Whenever anything ever so slightly weird/random/desperate/non-desperate happens we put on a very stern voice and shout “IT’S ABOUT BLOODY SURVIVAL!” It is normally in an Australian accent too, although no Australians were involved in the making of the catchphrase.

So, with no further nonsense ado, here is what we have been eating:

Monday

Tea

Espresso

Fried egg on toast with butter (home made bread)

Yeah, we totally peak by 9:30am, it’s all downhill from here!

Brocoli (whole stalk) and  Onion Soup – boiled then zhugged/whizzed with the zhuzzer/whizzer thing and a slice of toast. Lots of salt needed in this!

Value pasta twirls with fried aubergines/tomatoes/grated carrots/ a spoonful of vegemite for taste

This was all delish but just not nearly enough!

Tuesday

Tea

Espresso

Pancakes with one-egg batter and a squeeze of lemon (we got three crispy ones each. If they were done too thick they turned to glue in mouth and were totally RANK)

Tomato on toast (my favourite lunch ever, ever, ever)

Value rice and curry made with onion, brocoli, tomatoes, carrots and spoon of onion powder and garlic thrown in last minute

Equally delish but we normally would have thrown in lots of extra biscuits, tea, cereal and toast! = hungry.

Alresco Rice and Veg

Wednesday

Tea

Espresso

Toast with half banana mashed (YUM!)

Rice cake fritters made with the rice from the other night, a spoonful of the curry mixture,  left over pancake patter and extra flour, and another spoon of curry powder and lots of salt. These were mindblowingly good! Frying in butter was the ticket!

Chow Mein for tea- value spaghetti with fried veg. Splash of soy sauce and minced garlic right at the end, half teaspoon of Chanese Fhaaaave Spaiiice (Chinese 5 spice said in the Michael Macintyre way! *chuckles to oneself remembering it*)

This was a GOOD DAY!!! Felt pretty normal, only a little bit hungry. Those fritters were the BOMBDIGGIDY.

Thursday (here are the plans)

Tea

Espresso

Banana on Toast

Plain spaghetti with butter and salt

Rice and beans with can tomoto, few veg and curry powder

Friday

Tea

Espresso

Egg on Toast

Nettle soup with toast

Value Pasta with veg and garlic and butter

VOILA.

Thrifty Food Lessons

In terms of thrifty eating, the bulb of garlic for 26p was the best thing we bought. Rather than cooking it through I am chucking in one little segment, finely crushed, right at the end of the cooking, just enough to spread the goodness/ take the zap out of it. This means we get full garlic flavour but with only a tiny amount of garlic.

Also, frying the spices in butter means we can use a very small amount, and using the odd half spoon of vegemite (pennies) instead of stock has added lots of flavour. A splash of soy sauce, instead of cooking with half a bottle like I usually do it, for the chow mein was a winner.

I am in two minds about the butter. It has added a tastiness to everything that has been wonderful. But there have been the odd hungry pang moments where I desperately wished we had spent that £1.50 on something bulky.

Well over half way. Lots and lots of enlightening moments and reflective moments onhunger, food, injustice, poverty. I need some space to sort my thoughts out and will post once it is all over I think.

Thanks ever so much for your incredible support. If you haven’t sponsored and would like to, you can do that here.

I’ve already been through the bins – Live Below the Line Eve

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Oh my goodness. I haven’t even begun Live Below the Line and already it is messing with my head and I have already cried once. (I never cry. I can’t even remember the last time I cried. Apart from at that book last week and the film the week before that and – okay, I can’t remember the last time I cried at Real Life. What does that say about me?)

I have spent about 3 hours scribbling and re-scribbling out a shopping list and a menu plan- I have never done a menu plan before, how is it possible to spend this long decided what to buy and eat???!! I guess having a budget of £1 each makes even the most minute purchase a bit of a big deal.

I am feeling the pressure. Tim is in this really reluctantly, so I don’t want my rubbish shopping decisions to mean he is wilting; draping his usually-hulking-but-now-gaunt frame all over the furniture because all we are eating is rice and digestives. Also, I thought it would be okay to bring Ramona along for the Hungry Ride- this may have been an error in judgement because I really don’t her to be hungry! (Honestly though, she is on one of her frequent breastfeeding benders and isn’t eating that much anyway.)

Then I went and had this genuis idea of going up to East Street Market at the end of the day and scavenging amongst the bins for old fruit and veg. It was an intense experience, most Dickensian- Ramona sat up on her bike seat watching Mummy shoo the pigeons away, scrabbling around for the rotten oranges and carrots. I don’t think it happens much because people were Really Gawping.

Still, I could not BELIEVE the pile of produce I got. I was SO blinking pleased, even after spending the evening cutting out the decay and freezing it all in portions – this had freed up £2 of our week’s budget! WOOHOO! This was really where it went wrong as I may have got my gloat on a little and posted a picture to Twitter along the lines of “CHECK OUT MY HARVEST FESTIVAL!”

At which point people began suggesting that this wasn’t exactly living below the line.

Sigh.

I even consulted Facebook and yeah, snot allowed.Apparently everything you eat has to come with an allocated cost. I PAID WITH MY PRIDE, MAN!!!

*weeps*

Are the organisers missing a trick here? I reckon. A little bit. Hunger isn’t only about not having access to food, but about the things people have to do to obtain it. The time spent sourcing it, priorities shifting. The insecurity of not knowing whether they’ll be any scraps left at the end of the day.

However I guess they have to be a bit black and white so you don’t just turn up at a different friend’s house for dinner every day. “Helloooo! I’m doing Live Below the Line this week, pop over to your place for tea, yeah?”

In the interests of totally transparent blogging here is the finished list of shopping:

For £12.50 (£5 each for Tim and I and £2.50 for Ramona)

Tomatoes, Onions, Brocoli, Aubergine, Half of 5 oranges =£2 (I halved my haul and factored in the cost of what rotten veg might have been sold for)

2 Tins Tomato – 60p

1 Tin chickpeas- 30p

Dried Spaghetti – 30p

Dried Pasta – 30p

Bag white rice – 40p

Organic Milk – £1.40

Organic Butter – £1.50

Flour -70p

Other ingredients (milk powder etc) to make 2 loaves of bread – 50p

Free range organic eggs £1.50

Garlic 28p

Popcorn £1

5 Fair Trade Bananas £1

Coffee- 50p (Tim bought green beans and is roasting them himself especially for this week. Yep, desperate times, desperate measures and all that)

Tea bags -10p

Spices etc- 10p

=  £12.48

Some of this might seem a bit odd. (Yeah you- I see you eyeing up that lump of butter below your raised eyebrows. We loooove butter! I figure it is gonna be instead of spread for the toast, instead of sauce for the pasta, for frying things – it could well save the week. It could also be a major misjudgement.)

It has been a suprisingly hard decision chosing what to keep ethical with. We normally go for organic, fair trade etc whenever possible but there had to be some compromise this week. We have decided that where lives are concerned- human, chicken or cow- we had to keep some principles. For us, if we can’t afford to eat dairy from happy cows than we can’t afford to eat it.

Despite having been to the local supermarket 3 times in the last 3 days, scouting out prices, scanning the bargain rails I haven’t purchased any of this stuff – tonight’s final mission to buy it saw me knocking on the windows of Morrisson’s while the staff inside pointed at the opening hours. Bah, Sunday trading.

So that’s that. In my next post I’ll share the menu plan  (edge of the seat blogging right here, folks) and will probably whinge about how hard it all is (stay tuned!)

PS Living Below the Line involves having £1 a day to eat with for 5 days, in order to raise awareness of extreme hunger and to raise funds. The funds we raise are going to the Salvation Army’s work with vulnerable farmers in developing nations. If you have a spare penny, please do sponsor!

PPS Normal parenting/craft/thrifty finds/nonsense blogging will resume in one week.  In the meantime you get me going “I’m HUNGRY 😦 😦 :(” Again, stay tuned!!

Living below the line – a thrifty challenge

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We are taking cheapskate to a new level next week, with a food budget of £1 each day. Our flatmate has just moved out – leaving us with a substantially less amount of money each week- however this isn’t the reason we are doing it. It also isn’t primarily because I want to raise money and awareness of the Salvation Army’s International Development work – although we will be doing that.

The reason is mostly, I have to confess, because I like a challenge. I do tend to always do things the difficult way, the path of most resistance, you must know that by now. It is totes in my nature. I especially love a challenge if it is a thrifty one.

Live Below the Line happens every year, involving loads of charities. For us it means sticking to a budget of £3 for three people for 5 days next week. It is a movement of people who want to do something about extreme hunger.

Lots of my chums did this last year and, honestly, I felt I was missing out. Am I truly bonkers or what? Because I was exclusively breastfeeding I couldn’t lower my calorific intake without it having an impact on my milk. I watched as they spent all their budget on digestive biscuits, or plain white rice. And I despaired.

Some people hear £1 and think “digestives and white rice”.” I think “I’m such a cheapskate that is probably only a little bit less then what we eat at the moment.” I think “lentils, pop corn, chickpeas; no worries.” (Oh how last year’s participants must be wetting themselves at my naiveity!)

So, that is my confession. My horrible motivation for doing Live Below the Line 2012 . Although I hope that by doing it I will be prompted to reflect on a vision where every person has enough to eat, where families can thrive, where hunger is the last thing on anyone’s lips.

Want to sponsor us? (Yeah, Ramona will be doing it too- she’s hardcore!) (Gwan, do it for the baby.)

Are you doing Live Below the Line? Do you have any extreme thrifty meal tips?

There will be none of this

Or this.