lavendersparkle: (Tofu)

This was my lunch on Monday. Short grain brown rice which I cook in big batches and freeze in 1 cup portions to defrost in the microwave to put in my bento in the morning. The tofu dumplings are one of my favourite bento items and so yummy it's hard to not eat them all when I make them. The recipe is from Just Bento and I make them with wanton skins which I buy frozen from Yarden, which is why I think mine have a bit more skin to filling than Maki's. The carrot kinpira is also from Just Bento but I think I left out the chilli and soya sauce when I made this batch to just have the carrot and sesame goodness.

The box is a Bento Colors box and you can just see the head of a of the duck Animal sauce bottle poking out from under the rice.
lavendersparkle: (Tofu)
I decided to post about the bentos I make for work. Maybe it will provide inspiration to others.

This is pretty much a replication of the Vegan dry curry bento on Just Bento.

I made the dry curry with chickpeas rather than tempeh because I had a tin of chickpeas whereas tempeh is a slightly more exotic ingredient which requires a trip to Muswell Hill. As Maki says, the dry curry freezes really well. I made a batch weeks ago, bunged it in the freezer in some tuperware and just pulled it out to spread on top of rice in my bento box. I didn't need to defrost it when I packed it in my box. I've also taken to cooking big batches of short grain rice and freezing it in one cup portions, then I just defrost it in the morning in the microwave as I make breakfast.

If you're interested, the box is a 800ml Lock & Lock box which comes with the dividers. Annoyingly the dividers don't reach up to the lid so there is a little bit of movement between the sections as I carry my lunch to work, but not as much as you'd expect. Future posts may contain pcitures of my cute bento accessories.
lavendersparkle: (Tofu)
I've been doing reasonably well at making myself bentos most work days for the last three weeks. The carbohydrates are easy because the potato salad lasted ages and I've been cooking extra rice and freezing it so that I always have some to go in a bento. The thing I find trickier to think of and have on hand are veggies and to a lesser extent protein items. To help me come up with more variety here is a list of recipe I want to try out.

Sweet pepper and carrot confetti
Miso tahini and nut paste on vegetables
Carrot and sesame salad
Stir fried cabbage with garlic and cranberries

Misoyaki tofu
Two colour spicy lentil salad with cucumber and radish
Vegan iri dofu
Mochi tofu nuggets
Spicy lentil snacks
Vegan turnip cake
frozen tofu cutlets
Dry curry

This week I'm trying out the turnip cake and stir fried cabbage.
lavendersparkle: (Tofu)
In the original Bento Challenge you're supposed to take photos of your bentos at lunch time and post them on your report. I did take a picture of one of them but I can't work out how to upload photos off my phone yet, so you'll have to make do with my descriptions.

I made two bentos. The first was rice, curried kidney beans and carrot kinpira. I took two little sauce bottles of soya sauce to put on the rice. I made most of it the night before and went as far as putting it in the boxes apart from the soya sauce. One snag that I hit was that I planned to put some pickled ginger in the rice but in the morning I couldn't get the jar of pickled ginger open so had to go without. It was nice though.

The second bento was originally going to be potato salad, sausages and dipping sauce and carrot sticks and homous. However, we ate all but one of the sausages the night before so I had one sausage and had curried kidney beans left over from the previous bento. For this one I did more of the work in the morning. I had cooked potatoes but I chopped them up and made potato salad in the morning. I had some left over salad from the night before but cut up my carrot sticks and used slices of carrot to separate the sausage from the curry. It took a while to do, particularly as I had to work out how to fit it all in. I didn't use the dipping sauce in the end when I ate it but I did discover that my panda sauce holder is just the right size to hold enough homous to dip one box of carrots.*

So I think the main lessons I learnt from that week was that I should do as much prep as possible the night before and just do things like peeling and chopping carrots in the morning. I should also take photos with my camera in the morning as then I will actually be able to upload them.

The challange for week 2 is to make one more bento than the week before and look at how nutritious your previous weeks bentos were. I have to say that my bentos were pretty nutritious as my box has three compartments which are 250, 200 and 200 ml and I've been filling them with one each with carb, protein and veg components.

Next week I'm planning to make three bentos. I've got a rough plan of what I'm going to do, but I may change that depending on what happens. The first one I'm planning to use up the potato salad and make some kind of bean salad to go with it and have it with carrot sticks, homous and a bit more salad. The second one I was thinking of making kinpira out of the slightly less than fresh carrots and broccoli stalks in the fridge and have it with rice and fried tofu, maybe with some pickled ginger. The third I'm not sure of yet. I'm planning to make tempeh chilli on Thursday evening so I might keep some of the tempeh and beans to go in my bento and have it with rice and some kinpira if I have any left.

*All of these references to pandas etc. will make more sense when I add pictures.
lavendersparkle: (Ood)
Having moved from a three bedroom house with a loft to a two bedroom flat without much storage, we are having a serious declutter. One of the things I'd like to unclutter are old photos from before I got a digital camera. They're not particularly precious but I'd prefer not to only have photos from 2005 onward so I thought a good idea was to send them off to a photo scanning service, and throw away the originals.

Could any of you recommend a service to do this?
lavendersparkle: (Tofu)
My work has a nice reasonably good value canteen, but it's still cheaper to bring a packed lunch and that way you can have a bit more control over what you're eating. I've decided to kick start my making of lunches by doing the Just Bento Bento Challenge. In fact that was one of the things listed in my 101 things in 1001 days. To motivate myself I've bought a really cute bento box which fits upright in my work bag and some accessories.

This week I plan to make two bentos, for Tuesday and Thursday. The first will be brown rice, curried kidney beans, carrot kinpira and broccoli. The second will be potato salad, veggie sausage and mixed salad. That's the plan anyway.
lavendersparkle: Jewish rat (Default)
I haven't posted in over a month. This is because in the last month I have: moved house, started a new job, and spent two weeks back and forth with our phone company to get our phone line (and by extension our internet) fixed.

I am now going to start posting a bit more.
lavendersparkle: (Good little housewife)
We have a wardrobe which is too narrow to fit full sized hangers in. Consequently it is pretty empty, with only trousers hung in it on trouser hangers, and our other wardrobe is overstuffed. I'd like to hang more stuff in the narrow wardrobe and, as it's not full length, the obvious things to hang in there would be skirts. Most of my skirts have ribbon loops on the waist to hang them by and I hang them on wooden shirt hangers with notches. I prefer doing that than using hangers with clips, as it makes it quicker and easier to get the skirts on the hangers. I came up with a cunning plan recently, when it occurred to me that children's hangers would be small enough to fit in the narrow wardrobe and I could buy wooden ones with notches and hang my skirts from those in the narrow wardrobe, leaving the other one free for shirts, jackets and dresses.

So, can you see a glaring flaw in my cunning plan or suggest an alternative way of hanging skirts in wardrobe too narrow to fit standard hangers?
lavendersparkle: (Good little housewife)
I still haven't finished my 101 things in 1001 days list. I've got to come up with 17 more things, but as I have over two years to do it all in, I'm sure that I can come up with some more stuff as needed.

Anyway, without further ado, my first two completed items:

Pictures under the cut )


Jun. 17th, 2011 05:53 am
lavendersparkle: (Good little housewife)
Do any of you know of a good pattern for a knee length 1950s style petticoat?
lavendersparkle: (Ood)
I first got into this whole blogging melarky because my friends were doing it so I followed suit. Now several of my friends are doing 101 things in 1001 days and after seeing a friends list I found that overnight I'd come up with about 50 things to put on a list and now, after about 24 hours I have 77. I wasn't convinced about doing this initially because usually I see lists like 50 things to do before your 30 and don't want to do any of them being neither a sociopath nor someone who feels the need to replace their life with a string of cliches. However, the beauty of this is that I can make my own list of things I actually want to do, hence for most of my tasks I'm the only person who lists them. You can see my list here. It's made up of my to-do list for the next few months, plus things I was planning to do in the next couple of years already, some things which have been on my mental 'I should really get around to list' and some 'that would be a cool thing to do; let's do it in the next 2.74 years' things. As you can see if you follow the link, some of the tasks are secret. I do have a list of what each secret task is and I might write about some of them in friends locked posts. I will probably bore you with my progress with the other tasks too, particularly as some of them are blogging related.
lavendersparkle: (Good little housewife)
Dear internet,

Our printer has pretty much given up the ghost and sooner or later its failure to perform its sole function in life may result it being thrown out of a window. Alec likes the idea of getting a printer with a scanner so that we can scan things. We tend to favour laser printers. We only need to print black and white.

What should we get?
lavendersparkle: (Sh!)
Every so often, usually in a discussion of sex education or sexual health services for teenagers, I hear someone come out with something like "Abstinence isn't always feasible" or "we need to be realistic: not everyone can control their underwear". Obviously, the fact that some teenagers will be involved in sexual acts which they have no control over is trivially true because some teenagers get raped, but I don't think that that is what people are referring to when they say these things. Usually these kinds of views are expressed by Good American Liberals as part of an explanation of why abstinence only education doesn't work. I wonder where this idea comes from. I've never felt that I didn't have control over my sexual behaviour. Maybe in retrospect I'll think "Knowing what I know now that wasn't the best thing to do", but I think I've always done what I felt was the best thing to do in the situation at the time. I guess it comes from a hideous compromise. We know that most teenagers have sex, even if you hand out tacky jewellery in return for them promising not to. However, in the popular consciousness teenage sex is still viewed as a Problem. So people say "Obviously I don't approve of teenagers having sex but it's going to happen no matter what we do we better give them condoms." These conversations seem to treat teenage sex like a unpreventable natural disaster.

I think that there are three things which people don't want to acknowledge when they claim that teenagers can't control their sexual behaviour.

1) Some teenagers engage in sexual acts because they enjoy them and the benefits of them outweigh the risks of them in their judgement. Sometimes it's easier all around to frame teenagers as helpless victims of their libidos than people who just don't want to do what you want them to do. I think people also like avoiding this idea because if teenagers are in some way rational rather than automatons driven entirely by lust, then you'd have to admit that, yes, providing access to contraceptives may tip the balance for some teenagers from not having sex into having sex or from engaging only in less risky sexual acts into coitus. That behavioural switch is going to be hugely outweighed by the decrease in sexual infections and unplanned pregnancies, but if you care more about whether teens have sex than the consequences, it does make sense to keep them away from condoms.

2) Some teenagers are engaging in unfulfilling and/or unwise sexual behaviour because they live in a culture which tells them that to be happy/successful/of any value as a human being you have to be rubbing your genitals against someone else's. However, I'm not holding my breath for the day that people realise that if you don't want teens to fuck each other, maybe not raising them diet of films in which the female characters' happy ending is to be sexy and submissive enough to get a man's attention would be more effective than not letting them buy the morning after pill.

3) Some teenagers are raped. Often by other teens. In fact, several studies have found that abuse, including sexual abuse, is more common in teenage relationships than in older age groups.

Point 3 brings me around to why I really hate people claiming that teenagers have no control of their sexual behaviour: it contributes to rape culture. If you spread the idea that people can't control their sexual behaviour, it promotes the idea that maybe it wasn't the perpetrator's fault that he raped someone. And if it wasn't his fault maybe it was his victim's because she excited his uncontrollable lusts. Our society is already more than willing to find any excuse to excuse poor ickle rapists and blame their victims. Let's not add to it. Teenagers have sex because they want to or because they are coerced or forced by someone else who wants to. They don't trip and end up with their genitals inside each other.
lavendersparkle: (Good little housewife)
When I was a child I used to get muslin mixed up with Muslim. I wasn't quite sure what a type of cotton fabric could have to do with Islam; I thought maybe it must be made somewhere like Morocco, where lots of Muslims lived.
lavendersparkle: (Good little housewife)
I've been thinking a bit more about things I might get when I have a big grown up job. The bag I liked before is a bit impractical because it's divided into two sections, so you can't get anything wide into it (like a lunch box or a thick book). It also doesn't have any useful pockets as they are all flat (I really don't understand why bag designers think people carry enough small flat items to warrant that many flat pockets).

I'm now thinking about the Nica Martha Portfolio bag.

Although it's smaller, it's thicker, so I could fit a lunch box in, and can still fit an A4 pad in it.

On the topic of lunch boxes, I'd like a Bento Colors.

And from the same shop I like these cute little bottles.

On my feet a quite fancy some brogues.
lavendersparkle: Jewish rat (Default)
The UK borders agency is holding a consultation on students. It's open until 31st January and you can participate in it through this link:


Jan. 20th, 2011 08:20 pm
lavendersparkle: (Good little housewife)
Last night I sewed some buttons back onto a jacket. It was much easier than I thought it would be so I think I'll get back into sewing. So that I don't end up with lots of things half done I'm going to try to finish things off before I start something new.

Sew a spare button onto my coat.
Dye my coat to cover up the faded bits. (I'm not going to do this until it gets warmer so that I don't have to go without my coat.)
Sewing up the seam which has gone on one of my jumpers.
Sew up Alec's trousers. (Alec normally repairs his own clothes, this pair would probably be better done on the sewing machine, which I Alec doesn't know how to use.)
Patch up tear in sheet.
Replace bottom button on cardigan.
Replace button on velvet jacket.
Replace button on blue top.
Take in the waist of my corduroy skirt.

Finish the seams of the skirt I made for my brothers wedding.
Sew together the pieces of the black dress.
lavendersparkle: (Good little housewife)
I am hoping to enter the workforce this year and my thoughts are turning to accessories. I've spent the last four and a half years in academia where no one cares what you wear and consequently scruffy is the predominant look. Students are no help because, although some of them put effort into their outfits, they tend not to look professional. I've noticed one trend of their not wearing a skirt or trousers, despite tights being underwear and Cambridge still being a bit chilly.

Anyway, I'm thinking about bags. I'd like a bag for interviews and eventually work. I want a big bag which with a shoulder strap. It needs to be professional but vegan and able to hold: lunch, purse, keys, oyster, book, a slim A4 folder, notebook, tissues, pens, phone.

One bag I'm considering is the Nica Alicia Portfolio.

It's big enough to fit an A4 notebook in with still some room for some other things. Does it look nice and professional?

Lunch is tricky. When I get a job I'd like to take lunch in because it's cheaper and I can have a more varied vegan diet. Initially I thought I might get an Aladdin Bento Box because it's a good size, watertight and insulated to keep food hot/cold.

However, it's pretty big (15x22), so I think it would be hard to find a nice bag it would fit in. I could see if it fit in the Nica Alicia Portfolio bag, as John Lewis sells both.

On the other hand, I could go for a lunchbox like the Nagabako bento with is only 22x6.5x9.6. It's not insulated, so I'd have to have cold food and I'm not so keen on the idea of eating out of something so narrow.

Whilst I've brought your attention to Bento&Co and pack lunch gear, how cute are these portable cutlery sets?
lavendersparkle: (Good little housewife)
Warning: I may engage in fail in this blog because I am pondering issues which I haven't directly experienced. However, I've read some material on this sort of thing and got to the point where I want to think out loud. Please tell me if I've got something terribly wrong.

Is being disabled like being gay? I used that comparison to explain to a friend of mine why I'm opposed to the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia.* Some people express a very strong wish to commit suicide because they have impairments. Gay teenagers have a higher than average suicide rate. Why do good liberals think that an appropriate response to the gay teen is to promise them that it gets better and even actively prevent them from committing suicide, but the appropriate response to the disabled person is to tell them you'd do the same in their position and help them to kill themself? How would he feel if we set up suicide clinics (with strict safeguards) for gay people? Why is there no 'it gets better campaign' for disabled people contemplating suicide, even though I've read a lot of pieces by disabled people saying that it took them years to adjust to being disabled and get to a place where they felt OK about it? For most people, attempted suicide is automatically seen as a sign that someone is not in their right mind. What effect does it have to be told through the law that people like you are the exception and you probably are better off dead?

This is all a bit of a digression. Is being gay better or worse than being straight? I don't know. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. I was happy to view myself as a lesbian and I'm happy to be married to a member of the opposite sex now. Some people view having a particular impairment as no better or worse than not having it. In fact some people find certain impairments positively desirable, for example deaf parents who hope for a deaf child. I have a certain amount of sympathy for this as I think I'd prefer for my children to be short sighted enough to wear glasses. Almost everyone in my family wears glasses. Most of my friends wear glasses. I'd find it a bit odd if my offspring didn't.

I've been pondering these issues for a while but I was inspired to put them into words by a post on Dave Hingsburger's blog about how he was upset that a woman seeing him walk because the pavement was too snowy for his wheelchair, congratulated him on managing to walk. It made me think of one of my brothers, who used a wheelchair for a few months due to injuries from a car crash. For him, the first teetering steps were an achievement and a cause for celebration. They were a stage in his recovery from intensive care to reasonably good health. So I suspect that the woman made a common category error because she didn't know that most wheelchair users can walk to some extent. She saw a permanent wheelchair user walking because he temporarily couldn't use his wheelchair and interpreted it as temporary wheelchair user walking as the first stage of recovery from injury.

However, that raises the issue of why recovery from temporary wheelchair use is a good thing. If rolling and walking are equally good, is it bigoted to send someone recovering from a leg injury a get well soon card. For that matter, if rolling is just as good as walking, why should the NHS have sent money on physiotherapists and surgery to get my brother walking again, rather than on a wheelchair and some leaflets about the social model? One answer is that any change in unpleasant. I've certainly heard of deaf people or blind people who develop the ability to hear or see not liking it, at least at first. Suddenly losing your sex drive can be unpleasant even if asexuality is a perfectly fine way to be.

I have two problems with the 'impairments are just equally good ways of being and the undesirability of certain impairments is due to society being built for people who don't have those impairments' approach. The first is that certain types of impairments seem to be just objectively worse than not having them. Not so bad that it's worth killing yourself over, but definitely undesirable, other things being equal. Chronic pain is bad. Reduced life expectancy is bad. Increased risk of various diseases is bad.

The second is that it's quite difficult to tease out the difference between disability and illness. My husband is disabled (enough to feel justified in using a disabled toilet anyway) due to a chronic illness. There's no cure for it the moment. If the symptoms of his illness are just an equally good way of being, how do we justify state funding of research into a cure or at least better treatments. If the symptoms are just an equally good way of being, how do we justify the state spending thousands of pounds a year on treatments do reduce those symptoms. Even more complicated, it's often difficult to tell whether a symptom is due to the permanent illness or a temporary illness or, for that matter, a temporary illness caused by the permanent illness. Is he feeling a bit run down because of the chronic illness, or the medication for the chronic illness, or because he had a cold recently? Even if it was due to the cold, did he catch the cold due to his illness or the treatment for it or just because it's going around? All of these are possibilities, for which of them is it OK to hope he'll get better? If you go too far with this all medical treatment is just a lifestyle choice rather than a justified need.

I don't think many people, if anyone, would go as far as to say that all medical treatment is oppressive, but I'm not sure where the line is between rolling is as good as walking or wearing glasses is as good as being a dirty two-eyes and flu is as good as not flu. You probably can't draw lines for these sorts of things, which is why it is so discombobulating.

*There are other reasons but this was a fundamental issue I wanted to get across.
lavendersparkle: (bride and groom)
I want to use the wisdom of my geeky friends list.

Alec is considering getting a netbook. He has a laptop from his university, which he does most of his work on. However, he has to go on a lot of research trips as part of his PhD and his laptop isn't the most lightweight portable piece of computing equipment, so he'd like a little netbook to take with him so that he doesn't need to lug a great big laptop case with a big sign saying 'mug me' on it.

I think the only things he needs to use on it would be MS Word and t'internet. It would be good if we could Skype each other with it, but that's not essential.

What would you recommend?