Women’s work

So, we’re back in the school holidays.

Today, the kids are out — originally planned so that I can work — but as it turns out instead I will use to the time to get some things done that I need to do without the children around. (Others can achieve some of these with their children around: people, I commend you. It is not the case chez Particulars …) Writing a quick blog is my special treat so that I don’t go completely mad.

So far today I have done laundry. I have visited my mother and gone to the supermarket for her (she fell at the weekend, and can barely walk at the moment); and then she asked me to fix her printer. The driver had vanished off her laptop — the printer and the laptop are both 1,000 years old and are VERY SLOW and every time I am asked to fix whatever the latest issue is, I tell her that if it were me I would just start over with new kit. But my mum doesn’t think she should buy new ones (even though she can afford it) because they are only eight years old. AAAARRRGH! But it’s ME that gets to spend five hours trying to fix stuff. Anyway. Sorted the computer issue out, but all that took two and a half hours out of my day (and the kids are “only” out for 7 hours today).

Then food: we have a glut of veggies in our garden so I took our glut and turned it into a meal for tonight and some meals for the freezer. I find this quite satisfying and reasonably productive and relaxing, so a good thing. Courgettes and spring onions become ta-da: courgette, chicken and tarragon pie filling. Yum — and at least we have a decent dinner done for tonight. Still, takes time.

Then I decided to tackle the craft cupboard. OMG. Paper proliferates in this house at a rate of knots, and then there are the pipe cleaners, stickers, workbooks, pens, glue sticks, bits of fabric, things I don’t even know what they are … we have had some birthdays recently and I have been busy so it’s really rather scarey in the craft area. I am, as I write, half-way through (I hope).

Spending a day like this doesn’t make me feel good, though, because I feel that I never get enough done. I forget how long all each of these things take: and if I don’t do them at all (my sister’s strategy) it drives me up the wall. So by the end of today I will have done some worthwhile things — looked after my mother, cooked some decent food, created some order in the dining room: but there will still be loads I haven’t done — and — here’s the kicker — I will feel as though I haven’t done anything worthwhile. The things I have done are all “women’s work” and are not valued (in terms of their contribution to our quality of life) or accurately represented in terms of our cultural understanding of how long they take.

I wonder how I would feel about it if I were a single parent. A healthy dose of resentment ends up being directed at Mr P when I spend time doing this stuff. I resent it. I resent it. I resent that Mr P will NEVER get it. He just does not get what I do with my time, why I get tired and arsey. And it makes me angry that we are both intelligent relatively enlightened people and STILL this is an issue in our lives. Mostly in my life.

Sigh. We are going on holiday next week (guess who has done all the work for the holiday?) and hopefully some rest and time away from our house will make me less cross about it all.

Anyway, enough for now. The pile of shite in the dining room will not tidy itself.



I love Jamie Oliver

Really, I do.

IRL, of course, I don’t know him from Adam, and I’m not the sort of person to actually approach him in any way should I see him browsing in a shop or anything.

But, this morning, I already I have a chilli on the stove (because I know I need to cook in the morning or decent food in the evening doesn’t happen). It makes me happy that it is there, bubbling away, and that I no longer need to think about food for today as it’s all in hand. (Mozarella and tomato salad for lunch, if you are wondering, with rocket.)

Making the chilli reminded me of how much I love Jamie Oliver. The recipe I used is really my own: it’s not Jamie’s recipe because I don’t eat beans these days (the low carb thing). But Ministry of Food, the book I hooked out this morning, is one of my favourite cook books of all time, and I always come back to it. Sometimes the recipes are a bit OTT for my taste (chicken with crispy posh ham: OMG how can anyone eat that? It’s so salty and overwhelming!), and I ignore plenty of them (all the pasta dishes) but I return to it on a regular basis for inspiration and reminders of how much I love so much of the food in there. I cannot, at the moment, get enough of the broccoli with Asian dressing (to die for — Mr P gets it at least once a week and I have it more often as I use the leftovers for lunch the following day). I use it every week when I make roast dinners for my wider family:  roast veg (potatoes, parsnips, carrots), gravy, Yorkshire puddings (not that I actually eat any of those at the moment, but everyone else does and I know they are tasty!); I turn to it when I am coming up with a meal plan for the week and have run out of inspiration (oh yes! I could make tuna with salsa!); oooo curries yum.

So, today is the day I am thanking my lucky stars that Jamie exists and does the evangelising about food that he does.

Cooking from scratch: some days it really isn’t hard.


Eating Real Food takes work

foodSo this morning was food sorting day. I mostly eat Whole-30 stylee (though am not doing a W30 at the moment) which brings its challenges.

Eating real food. We all know we should do it, but blimey it’s hard to deliver that, especially on top of everything else we need to do. I quite often read stuff about how to do things and then wonder “yes, but how do you REALLY do it?” (particularly when you take into account having to work for a living, look after children, keep up with your family etc.)

So, here’s a small part of how I do it at the moment. I am very lucky in that my work is flexible and I can organise my days pretty much how I like. I have noticed that if I don’t get my food stuff done early in the day then I have lost the will to live by lunchtime and it’s a real uphill battle to eat healthily at all, let alone prepare food. I have energy and drive first thing in the morning, so I try to organise what I need to do and when I need to do it around that. (My work requires sitting and thinking, and sometimes writing — which I can do until I get too tired to function.) I do try to eat well, and I need to make it as easy and as convenient as possible for myself — within the context of I don’t eat anything processed if I can help it. (Which isn’t really starting with convenience in mind, so I need to work round that!)

I dropped the kids off at school this morning and then went for my walk (so windy today I needed to put my sunglasses on to stop my eyeballs getting cold). Got back in and then set to work.

Today I decided to:

  • decant the stock I made from yesterday’s chicken carcass (I made it overnight in the slow cooker) into smaller containers so I can freeze them
  • Make carrot soup which will serve me 4 days or so for lunch (a REALLY delicious recipe involving carrots, cardamom and coconut — oh, and the stock I just made)
  • Roast some tomatoes and cauliflower (which I find palatable enough to eat for breakfast with eggs — but can’t face making them in the morning.)
  • Make a mushroom, leek and chicken hot pot, using yesterday’s leftover chicken, and a leek/mushroom mix I had in the freezer from an earlier cook-a-thon, and par- boiling some potatoes to go on the top. This will be our dinner tonight requiring no more effort than turning the oven on and putting it in for 45 minutes.
  • Cook some chicken breasts so I have some easy protein in the fridge which I can turn into salads (with the home-made mayo that is already in the fridge) or eat with the soup for lunch. I made enough for two days.
  • Make up some “smoothie packs” which I do when I have the energy and fill the freezer with them. (I can then take them out of the freezer, fill with boiling water, and blend.) I normally start with spinach and carrot, but I had used all the carrots I had making soup, so today I just bulked them out with more spinach than usual. I also normally throw in any fruit I have lying around that the children are likely to reject, but I didn’t have any of that today so I had to forage in the freezer for frozen fruit to add to the packs.


Now I am ready to start the week and eat healthily. However, it took nearly all morning (along with tidying the kitchen after myself, finding the children’s swimming stuff for this afternoon, folding a load of washing and balancing the household books).

I often wonder how other people with less flexibility in their days than I have come anywhere near eating real food. How do you manage it?