Brixton Bids farewell to Bowie

Life Beyond The Kitchen Sink

Exit the tube station, politely avoid free newspapers and exhausted rat racers, navigate the Shibuyaesque traffic lights, then walk along the side of Morleys department store.

The mood changes. It’s a quieter. Quiet enough to hear Rebel playing. Dark enough for the candles to illuminate the graffiti messages adorning the Iman cosmetics posters on the department store windows. People are still…and smiling.

Locals and travellers from afar have congregated on the Bowie mural in Brixton to pay their respects.   YouTube is full of footage from the impromptu Bowie Party held shortly after Bowie’s death was announced on Monday.  The duality of the peaceful and party remembrance seems the perfect fit for both Brixton and Bowie.

As Brixton bids goodbye to the Duke, the universe reclaims back it’s star.

 

 

 

Life lessons Vs Resolutions

bedroom

It’s that time of year.

But I don’t believe in new year resolutions.

I believe in

Looking back.

It’s that time of year.

I am reliving the times of frustration, sadness, overwhelming happiness and achievement over the past 345 days.

Looking forward.

I start to plan the future and digest the life lessons that I have received.

My mind jumps back to November.

Heart pounding, I crash into the spin studio at the gym. I’m late. By this I mean I have arrived five minutes early for the class, but a minute too late to procure my trusty spin bike. Nestling quietly in the corner in the back row, my trusty companion now had a new owner. My chance of back row, dimly lit anonymity had vanished.

The 90s House and Garage starts to pumps as the situation gets worse.   The only bike left is at the front of class. The bikes reserved for the ‘Gym Fit ‘ Girls (GFGs). The type that run to the gym in Dry Fit outfits that colour co-ordinate with their Free Runners: gym hair (high messy pony) and perfect face of nude make up complete the uniform.

I am not her.

Nor do I want to be.

But the pressure and fear of sitting on that bike was real. As I mounted the pedestal bike, I could hear myself doling out the obligatory compliments, apologies and excuses for my presence and upcoming performance.  Gripped with fear, I hear the pace of the music picking up.  I approach effort level 11 worried about what I must look like compared to my GFG neighbours.

Rationally you can tell yourself “Nobody has the energy to waste looking at you!” And it’s true. But then we get to the Solo Sprints. The part of the class where everyone has to stop spinning and watch you, as your row sprint as fast as they can for 60 seconds. Even safe on old faithful, in my dimly lit corner, I’d fear this part of the class. And now, being in the front row, I had the honour of going last.

As I wait for our turn to “..show the class how it’s done!” my anxiety mounts.  The Mexican wave of sprinting spinners descends on the front row like a tsunami.   The buzzer sounded and instinctively I just closed my eyes.  And then the most liberating thing happened.

I was alone.

I stopped worrying about what I looked like to others. Stopped worrying that I didn’t belong there. All I cared about was cycling as fast as I could.

I had stopped worrying about how I was perceived by others.

I remember the anxiety I first felt when starting to write my blog.  The feeling of vulnerability and exposure and judgment.  The concern of what my family and friends would think of my writing. My parenting skills.  My questionable gym wear choices.

But the less I worry about other people’s perceptions – the happier I am.

Whether I fail or succeed, I am happier.  I am free.

And that is my life lesson for 2015.

What’s yours?

The Great Brixton Bake Off

kitchen

The Great British Bake Off is a big deal in our abode. For me it’s actually one of the few ‘reality’ competition shows where I don’t want them to all lose.

And this year it seemed like the whole nation was gripped with Bake Off fever. Sitting rooms across the land were full of soggy bottoms and feverish muttering of “I can, I will, I must!”.

Congratulations Nadia deserving GBBO champion 2015

Congratulations Nadiya deserving GBBO champion 2015

Maybe that’s how me and the OH ended up having our own mini bake off throw down on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Brixton last weekend.

Brixton housewife

Mr Vs Mrs… Who will be crowned winner?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So here is the recipe for the winning* cake.  I should probably say my mother was the (female) judge, so she may have been slightly biased in her decision.

Feel free to try the recipe and let me know what you think or share you favourite cake recipes.

*My cake won!

Brixton Blackout Cake

Chocolate Frosting

300g icing sugar

100g unsalted butter

40g cocoa powder

40ml whole milk

1 measure of spiced rum

Chocolate Custard Filling

5 tbsp light muscovado sugar

5 tbsp custard powder

75g cacao power

600ml whole milk

1 measure of spiced rum

Brixton Blackout Cake

100g unsalted butter

250g castor sugar

2 eggs

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 baking powder

3/4 bicarbonate soda

110g plain flour

90g coconut flour

160ml of whole milk

2 measures of spiced rum

Chocolate Toppings

50g dark cooking chocolate

 

Method

Start by putting your butter to one side to warm to room temperature and preheating your oven to 170 degrees (gas mark 3).

Mix the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Once blended add one egg at a time.

Is it cheating if you have your little niece helping you?

Is it cheating if you have your little niece helping you?

Slowly beat in the cocoa, baking power and bicarbonate soda.

Next add the plain flour and the milk.  Once mixed add the coconut flour until the mixture in completely combined then add the rum.

Fill two cake tins with the mixture and place in the oven for approximately 45mins.

Once the cakes are in the oven start to make your custard.  Mix the custard powder, sugar and cocoa powder together in a saucepan.  Next, stir in the rum until you get a smooth paste.  Then add the milk a tablespoon at a time.  The challenge is to add all of the milk without making any lumps.  Place on a medium heat to allow to thicken.  Remove from heat and place custard into a shallow cake tin lined with cling film and place in fridge to chill for one hour.

Melt 50g of chocolate and drizzle over a rolling pin which has been covered with baking parchment and place in the fridge to cool.

Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to cool and begin to mix your icing.  Beat the icing sugar, butter and cocoa powder together.  Once combined add the milk to the butter mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time.  Finally add the rum and continue to mix for five minutes.

Remove tthe custard from fridge and layer onto the bottom half of your cake then top with the remaining cake.  Ice the cake with your chocolate icing and decoration.

 

I’ve run out of toilet paper… Goodbye Socks.

livingroom

I’ve run out of toilet paper. Goodbye socks!

bca-page-1-cropped-620-349

This is my current Facebook status. For those who have already been fooled by a status similar to this, you know it’s part of the latest Breast Cancer Awareness game. For the uninitiated, anyone who comments or likes my status then has to update their current status from one of seven random, awkward or randomly awkward status’ and so it continues. Brilliant campaign…. Although now my mind is racing as to who saw my status and thought “I’m never shaking her hand again!” but didn’t comment or like. They will never know it was a joke and privately – thats the worst part, forever question my personal hygiene standards. (…No comment necessary Husband)  The best part at least will be the money and awareness raised for Cancer Research.

On the other (clean and sanitised) hand of the February tis Charity season spectrum is the Dettol Baby Blanket drive.  Following in the footsteps of Rachel Stevens, oh yes, I was also asked to donate a blanket to the Dettol Baby Blanket Donation campaign.  Each blanket donated will find new homes with families and babies who really need them, moreover for each baby blanket donated Dettol will donate £1 to the Sparks Children’s Charity.

High Res Dettol Blanket

Just like the Breast Cancer Awareness game, of course, no modern day charity campaign would be complete without a social media “presence“.  The #sharethememories hashtag encourages parents to share special baby and blanket memories and photos on twitter et al before donating their blankets.  Yes absolutely lovely idea! Yummy Mummy Alert etc.. But after eagerly donating one of little man’s blankets, why didn’t the relentless proud parent posting and hashtagging follow suit, yet I didn’t hesitate to choose one of the most embarrassing status to share with all my friends?  Alas.. It seems that motherhood hasn’t quite straightened out my “quirky” sense of humour just yet.

This Friday is the last day to donate your old baby blankets to the Dettol Campaign.

Donate here:http://www.dettol.co.uk/csr/donate/

DBBD logo

breast-cancer-campaign-logo-2

sparks-logo1

Vote For Me and other stories

Nursery

The story is based around two children Alex and Evie. Alex’s parents support the Stripy Party and Evie’s the Spotty Party.  No spoilers however, you’ll simply have to read the book to find out who wins..  The story uses simple  language and child friendly illustrations to introduce key aspects of the election process including canvassing, voting and results night.  The Election is a great conversation starter for parents and teachers to introduce political concepts to the future rulers of the world.

10 very unDisney newborn baby moments

Nursery

I should probably state very clearly at the beginning of this blog I love being a mummy and how it has changed my life and of course my little one means EVERYTHING to me.  Now that I have made that perfectly clear, lets cut to the chase..

Common to most Mums To Be, I savagely devoured every book, magasine, and website about pregnancy and parenting that I could lay my chubby little hand on.  Even so, for the first few weeks I often found myself fretting whether something was “normal” and would end up spending hours trawling the internet for reassurance and relief.  Was it just me or had those books censored out the “Not So Disney moments”?

So I’m defying the censors! Here are my top ten “Not So Disney” moment experiences, those random things that have kept me amused, confused and bemused over the past couple of weeks as a new mum.

Please feel free to add yours in the comments and reassure me I’m not alone 😉

1)  The Circle of Life

simbaNewly born babies do not look like they do on the TV.  Oxytocin had blinded me to the white slime and blood splattered across Our Little One’s body BUT his head shape startled me.  The distaughted conical shape of his head was concerning simply because no one else seemed to acknowledge it.  Were they just being polite?  No, they were just aware that this Not So Disney moment would pass and was part and parcel of birth.  Unaware of how his fleeting looks would change, my main thought  was that he was healthy, a mothers love is boundless.  My son was this beautiful grey baby; covered in blood, white slime and slicked back hair covering his conical head and I loved him to pieces.

2) Shadow Land

luminaireOur Little One was born with a full head of black curly hair, fuzzy arms and legs and we watched (practically) his eye lashes grow within the first 24 hours…. But not one lash on his brow.  This seems pretty insignificant but a 5 0’clock shadow over your first son’s eyes for the first couple of months is a slightly distracting sight.

 

3) Can you paint with all the colours of the wind?

pocohuntus Ante natal classes were brilliant for showing me how to wind my little one correctly, but never did they mention that- ahem- the  wind would blow from Northern and Southern directions.   Previously, it was inconceivable that such a loud noise could originate from something so cute and little.  Although rather amusing (accept in public when suspicion naturally falls on me – and is almost 50% of the time misplaced), OLO’s gas became so excessive that I had to change my diet completly.  Bizarrely it was all the healthy options that were the worse culperits.. greens, brocoli, onions, chick peas..  Yep Pizza O’clock.

4) The Bare Necessities 

timonIn the first couple of days of life bowel movements are one of the few obvious ways of telling whether a newborn is ‘thriving”  or not and so naturally we were on instant nappy watch.  Now the consistency, colour and range of baby poop is well documented but the regularity not so!  Our Little One went for  three days without passing,  and I kept worrying until I hit the parenting forums and discovered that even up to four days is perfectly normal!    Never had I imagined I’d become a nappy stalker, willing him to soil his nappy just so I was reassured that everything was working fine.

5) Friend Like Me

snake jungle book We spent a fair amount on time and molah decorating the nursery, buying all those eye catching educational toys and wall stickers.  But OLO loves nothing more than staring at a blank wall, ceiling, window, shadow, the metal bracket that holds up the expensive educational toy etc.   It must be pretty cool when EVERYTHING is a brand new hypnotising experience for you to explore, ok that’s a Disney moment, I can feel a song sequence brewing as I type.

6) By the Light of the Silvery Moon

images-4Sleeping through the night is a myth.  The Not So Disney truth is that “sleeping through the night” actually means sleeping for a period of 5-6 hours.   Pre baby that would have been a sign of a good night out, now that’s considered a good night’s sleep. That said OLO has recently managed to “sleep through the night” and it did feel marvelous.  How things have changed.

7) Let It Go

dumbo

Planes fly low over head, pneumatic drills pound the pavement outside, Guy Falkes Night firework displays light up the night sky and still OLO will stay fast asleep.  That is until I sneeze.  OLO’s selective hearing is incredible, his timing comedic,  although most of the time he is the only one who seems to be laughing 😉

8) Under the sea

images-13
 The first night we laid OLO in his crib all I wanted to do was watch him sleep and listen to him breathe.  If I had known that babies breathing patterns can include ten second pauses this experience may not have been so traumatic.  Turns out after swimming about in a sac of water for nine months, baby lungs don’t have much on the job experience.  For the first couple of weeks breathing regularity was more novelty than function.

9) A Whole New World

images-10The first couple of weeks in OLO’s social calendar was fully booked.  What with midwife, doctor, health visitor, and immunisation appointments; and friend and relative visits, OLO was very much the baby about town.  However, the unDisney truth is newborn babies have their own plans and from the moment they are born they then become your plans.  You cannot rush a newborn you will miss that 9 am doctors appointment and you will breastfeed your baby in a public place.

10) Hakuna Matata 

images-6 For all his strange smells, sounds and eccentricities OLO makes my heart explode with joy, pride and love.  The amount of love and happiness he has brought into my life is overwhelming!  Never could I have known how amazing being a mother would feel.  Ok – that is also a very Disney moment, but you knew this blog post had to have a happy ending 😉

#BringBackOurGirls 100 days later

livingroom

Over the past 100 days I have:

pottered in my garden.

tweeted.

helped my husband lay new flooring.

written school reports.

protested for Palestine.

bitched with friends.

received flowers.

been overdrawn.

attended a street festival.

laid in the sunshine.

argued with loved ones.

bought new artwork.

laughed.

witnessed the dashed hopes and dreams of a nation.

taught Zumba to my class.

cried.

received callaloo and cabbage seeds from a stranger.

hoovered (ok I’m not fooling anyone) hoovered.

listened to my unborn baby’s heartbeat.

felt fat.

stalked on Facebook.

watched a human chess match.

daydreamed.

found it impossible to sleep.

eaten Nandos.

watched TV.

participated in a treasure hunt.

joined the TEDx Brixton event team.

had a pedicure.

rushed to hospital.

attended a beautiful wedding.

Over the past 100 days the Chibok girls have:

?

How quickly the world forgets. ©Sarah Peace

How quickly the world forgets. Photograph S Peace ©

Yesterday marked 100 days since the girls were kidnapped from Chibok Girls Secondary School in Nigeria by the group Boko Haram.  In the 100 days since the kidnapping the people of Chibok have continued to face daily assaults from the terrorist group; 11 parents of the kidnapped girls have since died in the fighting.  

 

 

We have no idea if their daughters know of their death.

We have no idea if their daughters are still alive.  

We have no idea.

#BringBackOurGirls

We must keep the pressure up and continue to ask questions and demand that they #BringBackOurGirls.

To find out about how you can show your support visit: https://www.facebook.com/bringbackourgirls?

Inspirational Blog Award

livingroom
Feeling inspired?

Feeling inspired?

As a new blogger I am often overwhelmed by the support and kindness that I have received from the blogging community.  I have been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger award by the beautiful and talented Maria; please take the time to visit her fantastic blog  http://mariabrinkley.com/ and explore Australia from the comfort of her backyard to yours 😉    I love these awards because they give me the opportunity to discover new blogs and corners of cyberspace previously unexplored.    

Here are my 10 blogs that I nominate:

http://thelondonplaneblog.wordpress.com/ 

 http://seemeblackfeministhought.wordpress.com/

http://thedadcreche.wordpress.com/

http://riverwriterblog.wordpress.com/

http://dailyqoutesde27.wordpress.com/

http://theeverydaychronicles.com/ 

 http://rahelapetrescu.wordpress.com/

http://yahgoziemedia.com/

http://squooze.wordpress.com/

http://thesleepsong.wordpress.com/

Enjoy!

BH xx

 

If you have been nominated please read below x

Here are the guidelines for the award:

  1. Thank and link the person who nominated you.
  2. List the rules and display the award.
  3. Share seven facts about yourself.  (To see mine please see my Liebster Award post)
  4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
  5. Optional: Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

 

Happy Exploring!
BH xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diaries of a Gardening Novice May

garden

Diaries of a gardening novice

May

My raking handy work had paid off…I had created perfectly flat platforms ready to go forth and prosper.  Then my brain received a phone call..

“Hello….It’s the Brixton Housewife here and I think spontaneity is fun!”

In comes a change of plan and a quick google search for garden ponds…

 

BH xx

Wait... I know what I can do now I've flattened the ground..

Wait… I know what I can do now I’ve flattened the ground..

April

Encouraged by Sunshine, (imaginary) butterflies and the support of my fellow bloggers (Roses delightPam and Maria Mahreeaaah amongst others. 😉 I pushed the murky Stephen Kingesque past behind me and battled on.

And it is an ongoing battle.  When I think of my ideal garden space, I dream of a flat, sunny, spacious affair… Alas just like me, my little patch is far less than perfect.  Yet albeit, shady, sloped and wide, MLP seems to embrace it’s “challenging” label, and so,  inspired by it’s non-conformist beauty I labour on. With memories of my time in Portugal, a terraced wonderland springs to mind, and the words “shovel”, “mallet” and “bad back” (amongst other less flowery words) spring to my lips.

It was however worth it, as this was my chance to put all of my “research” (pronounced “cyberspace procrastination”) into good use and start buying and planting :-). As you can see from the pictures, I didn’t go “craaayzey” (pronounced “like Solange in the lift“) with the purchases.  With a baby and new mortgage on the way, I had to get “creative” with the budget.  Fortunately, with my friends and family and freecycle.org, that wasn’t so difficult and actually quite fun!

One step at a time

One step at a time

April

Let the planting begin

 

March

Ok…so gardening is not sexy. The previous thoughts of toned arms are long lost in the cold realities of British Winter time and dirty finger nails, but the progress is steady… Until it all turns a bit Stephen Kingish and everything comes to a sudden halt. As my mother is a history and archaeology fanatic, I have grown up with the delusion the Earth beneath our feet is just waiting to reveal its treasure. So what was history’s gift to me, well it seemed to have fur, a disregarded Victorian teddy bear perhaps? Alas no, on closer inspection I see a cat paw, as memories of Pet Cemetary flash before me I throw down my spade and seek sanctuary and sympathy in the arms of the Mr. This month’s personal note is to call the council’s special disposal unit. Gardening is definitely not sexy.

What lies beneath

What lies beneath

February

The vision is growing… I have seen the promised land, its just buried under all of this clay and brick. As I begin to dig, I ponder starting a Gardenise exercise class, surely everyone is over Zumba, and who doesn’t want toned arms? I make a personal note to email Gymbox the next day.

I have seen the promised land.

I have seen the promised land.

 

January

My father was an amazing gardener, from Callaloo to Corn he grew all types of local and tropical treats in our garden in the deepest darkest depths of Peckham, London.   So you could say that gardening is in my blood.. I wouldn’t, just like his cooking skills, it seems this talent may have skipped my generation.

But I do have the passion.

This is the continuing journey of how our back garden will become a secret escape..

BH xx

And so the journey begins.

And so the journey begins.

 

Money Makes The World Go Round (The penny drops)

Life Beyond The Kitchen Sink
“The best books are those that tell you what you know already”

George Orwell 1984

I can’t shake it.  That niggling feeling I get every time I use the “Contactless” paypoints.  Contact. less.  We are becoming further removed from our money.  It all feels very Orwellian.  The quote plays again in my head.

Is it just me?

Is it just me?

“Do you know about this?”
A random conversation strikes up with a fellow commuter as she hands me a leaflet stating that cash will no longer be accepted on buses.  My fellow commuter is called Amanda, she is a debt councillor and is concerned about the effect a “cashless” society will have on her clients.    Cash. Less. society.  A society without any money.

“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

George Orwell 1984

Is the answer to why I feel so uneasy about a cashless society hidden in plain sight?  Contactless, Cashless, it feels like we are definitely losing something.  Did it start in 1971 with the loss of the Gold Standard? Is the move to a cashless society a bid to prolong the life of our Fiat currency?  After all, if we get rid of the promissory notes, will the government have to keep it promises?  Or am I just being pessimistic… In our digital age do we need a “currency” to match?  A digital currency, where billions can be created at the mere touch of a button.  But who’s finger will be on the trigger?

I promise to pay the bearer the sum of 10 pounds.

I promise to pay the bearer the sum of 10 pounds.

Or is the drive towards a cashless society driven by a much simpler motive?  The sights of South London speed past our window as Amanda shares her fears.  In hushed tones, we discuss the desire for retailers to further remove consumers away from the reality of their purchases. Studies as far back as the 1970s show that cards are not seen as “real money” and that consumers have a tendency to spend more when using plastic rather than cash.  The popularity of our “flexible friend” has probably had a significant part to play in helping nearly nine million people across the UK into serious debt problems.

Swipe all your troubles away with your flexible friend.

Swipe all your troubles away with your flexible friend.

The bus slows and abruptly stops outside of a betting shop and a Cash Converters, Amanda bids me farewell and disappears under her umbrella.  As the bus pulls away, our conversation replays in my mind; debt, cash, currency, money, profit, greed, retail, shops, shoes..  I press the buzzer. The weather outside is dismal, but I look up and feel a warm glow from a beautiful window display.

“Have you seen these? They’re on special offer £131”

A tap on the machine and they’re mine.

 

Diaries of a Gardening Novice April

garden

Diaries of a gardening novice

April

Encouraged by Sunshine, (imaginary) butterflies and the support of my fellow bloggers (Roses delightPam and Maria Mahreeaaah amongst others. 😉 I pushed the murky Stephen Kingesque past behind me and battled on.

And it is an ongoing battle.  When I think of my ideal garden space, I dream of a flat, sunny, spacious affair… Alas just like me, my little patch is far less than perfect.  Yet albeit, shady, sloped and wide, MLP seems to embrace it’s “challenging” label, and so,  inspired by it’s non-conformist beauty I labour on. With memories of my time in Portugal, a terraced wonderland springs to mind, and the words “shovel”, “mallet” and “bad back” (amongst other less flowery words) spring to my lips.

It was however worth it, as this was my chance to put all of my “research” (pronounced “cyberspace procrastination”) into good use and start buying and planting :-). As you can see from the pictures, I didn’t go “craaayzey” (pronounced “like Solange in the lift“) with the purchases.  With a baby and new mortgage on the way, I had to get “creative” with the budget.  Fortunately, with my friends and family and freecycle.org, that wasn’t so difficult and actually quite fun!

One step at a time

One step at a time

April

Let the planting begin

 

March

Ok…so gardening is not sexy. The previous thoughts of toned arms are long lost in the cold realities of British Winter time and dirty finger nails, but the progress is steady… Until it all turns a bit Stephen Kingish and everything comes to a sudden halt. As my mother is a history and archaeology fanatic, I have grown up with the delusion the Earth beneath our feet is just waiting to reveal its treasure. So what was history’s gift to me, well it seemed to have fur, a disregarded Victorian teddy bear perhaps? Alas no, on closer inspection I see a cat paw, as memories of Pet Cemetary flash before me I throw down my spade and seek sanctuary and sympathy in the arms of the Mr. This month’s personal note is to call the council’s special disposal unit. Gardening is definitely not sexy.

What lies beneath

What lies beneath

February

The vision is growing… I have seen the promised land, its just buried under all of this clay and brick. As I begin to dig, I ponder starting a Gardenise exercise class, surely everyone is over Zumba, and who doesn’t want toned arms? I make a personal note to email Gymbox the next day.

I have seen the promised land.

I have seen the promised land.

 

January

My father was an amazing gardener, from Callaloo to Corn he grew all types of local and tropical treats in our garden in the deepest darkest depths of Peckham, London.   So you could say that gardening is in my blood.. I wouldn’t, just like his cooking skills, it seems this talent may have skipped my generation.

But I do have the passion.

This is the continuing journey of how our back garden will become a secret escape..

BH xx

And so the journey begins.

And so the journey begins.

 

First steps

livingroom

Today is my blog’s birthday, it is officially one month old.

One month ago today the Brixton Housewife was born, and I’ll admit it, I’ve been slightly obsessed with her ever since.

Initially, worried about her ability to make new friends in the playground, I was hesitant to click the “post” button and send her out into the world… But I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the clicks, kind words, followers, amazing comments and advice received and I now know she’s in good company and will be fine 🙂

So thank you to the blogging community, and congratulations to all of the other newbie blogs whose authors have dared to share their personal thoughts and ideas with the world.

Right, now let’s go and eat some birthday cake…#anyexcuse

BH xx