My friend Rachel Marek makes a brilliant tea loaf, and as she always seems like one of those mums who Knows What They’re Doing, I presumed it would be somewhat difficult to make. Hmm! So earlier this year Rachel went off skiing and I lent her my Out and About buggy for the trip, because quite frankly that thing could survive a nuclear war so baggage handlers and a couple of foot of snow would be no issue at all. Anyway I asked in return for her tea loaf recipe and it turns out its about as difficult to make as a ready meal. Personally, I’m currently making this about once a fortnight, and if I didn’t have to turn up at the office as often I’d probably make it every other day. Its perfect for those among us who like to bake, but for whom life tends to get in the way….
What do you mean you don’t want to make your own blood bag?! Nice bit of crochet anyone?? Tsk…. people today….ok, so here’s the story of why I’m supporting The Blood Bag Project and then hopefully you’ll all want to join in with a little craft project of your own.
When I was pregnant with Jacob I had one of those gloriously uneventful pregnancys. Yes, I had morning sickness, was knackered and just generally felt bleugh, but my midwife appointments were always done in super quick time and there were no issues. I was happy, and who wouldn’t be?
The issue was in actually giving birth. I joked for years that we wouldn’t have kids as there was no way a child was coming out of ‘down there’ and typically the joke backfired. Due date came and went and still I was sat on my sofa eating cheese on toast and watching Top Gear on Dave. Eventually the induction was booked and 13 days overdue husband and I braved the snow storms and toddled along to the hospital.
13 days overdue – Prostaglandin. No sign of labour but ‘Help, I’m a Celebrity’ is hotting up.
14 days overdue – morning – Get doctor to break my waters. Surely the baby will arrive now? Having had 5 weeks at home with only mumsnet and Jeremy Clarkson for company (possibly not a common mixture) I have scoured the advice and figured that if I’m not getting my lovely water hippy birth then I want industrial amounts of drugs please. Refuse Syntocinon until I get an epidural, thus pleasantly avoiding any of that rather nasty sounding contraction stuff. Erstwhile doctor still decides though that he cba with a tourniquet and uses a rubber glove, squirting my blood all over the room. Nice.
14 days overdue – lunchtime – Contractions apparently quite hard. Read interesting article in Grazia.
14 days overdue – dinnertime – Midwives crank drip right up. Not much on tele is there…
14 days overdue – evening – body refusing to comply, not dilating, fed up, nothing on tele, read all magazines, agree to c-section
15 days overdue – in for the c-section, doctors open me up, pull out baby, and then, umm, I’m not quite sure. Because at this point I start to do what I think is fall asleep due to my rather long day reading magazines, but which I’m reliably informed is more likely to be due to me blacking out due to blood loss.
I lost five pints. My husband got told that they ‘wouldn’t like to promise’ that they could save me. I (when I was occasionally with it) got told that everything ‘should’ be ok, but there was a fair chance of losing my womb. I spent three hours on the operating table, which isn’t much fun when you also consider that the poor quality design means you can actually see whats going on reflected on the ceiling.
Anyway, I lived. Which is a good thing. It was a bit dicey for the first couple of days, and it was a while before I had the strength to look after my son, but Jacob was healthy which I am always grateful for, and if its a choice between me going through that and him then I choose me every time.
I did feel a bit funny though about the whole blood thing. Not enough to really justify talking about generally, and besides ‘I might have died but I didn’t’ seemed an unreasonable moan. But enough to occasionally stare out at the sea and just think that actually, if it hadn’t been for people who I don’t know and who I’ll never meet, my husband wouldn’t have a wife and my son would never get to see his mum.
So I’m thankful, but in a way that I can’t really put in words.
So this is why I’m supporting The Blood Bag Project. Because I can’t thank the people who helped me, but I can help someone else who needs help. If you would be so kind as to look at their website, read Chloe’s story and help to raise a bit of awareness, it would be much appreciated. And if you want to crochet your own blood bag, then that would be grand too.
Ok, before we start, you’re thinking ‘Tea towel? Really??’ Yes, really, and here’s why:
1) Anyone who visits your house will be horribly impressed that you make your own tea towels and therefore must be a Super Efficient sort
2) You can design them to fit in with the colour scheme or theme of your kitchen
3) They are actually super easy to do
Most importantly, these are no normal tea towels. No sir, these are Keep Your Eyes on the Prize tea towels and therefore I have lovingly stencilled a picture of some wine on it. Because, ahem, I am not super keen on housework where as I am quite keen on sitting on my bottom drinking wine.
To make your own tea towel you will need:
Some fabric – half a metre should make you two. I used lightweight cotton
because it was all the fabric shop near me had and I generally leave everything to drip dry but linen or heavyweight cotton should also work well
Sewing machine – again, you could do by hand but its a faff
Fabric paints – I use speedball fabric ones so I can use them for screen printing too
A4 paper, a pen, a craft knife, a sponge and a bit of cardboard
First of all make your tea towel. You need to cut your cotton big enough to allow you to turn the hems in twice so it won’t fall apart after a couple of uses. I did 52x68cm which is a 2cm seem allowance.
Turn the hems in 1cm and then iron, do it again and then iron so its ready to sew.
Sew round the outer edge and inner edge of your seem. You could get away with just doing the one row of stitching, but quite frankly it won’t take you much longer and it will look and last much better.
Et voila! You’ve made a tea towel! Easy Huh?
Ok so the next step is to print your patten. On your piece of paper draw a nice picture, something big will be a lot easier for you to print than anything with little faffy bits. Cut the stencil out using your craft knife. Place your tea towel on your cardboard (because the paint will destroy your table) and place your stencil on your tea towel.
Either mix your own colour paint using a mixture of colours or choose the paint you want. Lightly dip your sponge in the paint and dab it onto your stencil until all the gaps are filled. Your printing will look nice and homemade. That’s fine, but if you do want cleaner edges then you need to use a silk screen. Remove the stencil and you are done!
Most paints will require you to dry and iron your lovely new design in so it doesn’t come off in the washing machine but other than that you’re ready to go, and if you must, really must do the housework, at least you can do it while admiring your gorgeous new crafting skills.
Nice doorstop right? Right! Crikey though, the rice…. So far I have poured in:
1 pack pudding rice
1 pack pearl barley
1 small pack easy cook rice
4/5’s large pack of basmati rice (leaving pretty much nothing to have with my chilli tonight)
And you know what? Ruddy thing still looks like it could do with some more. Both the fabric and pattern are by Lotta Jansdotta who normally I love, and who I suppose I still do love, but as I made this so the Small Thing would stop trying to knock himself out cold with my current one (a big rope thing, which while still heavy is a bit better than my pre-child big rock) its umm… possibly not quite the one.
So for now it stays in place, and damn it it does look pretty nice y’know? But I think I need to go away and plan a doorstop that’s child friendly and that I can post the instructions for. Will get back to you when it’s ready to go!
The small thing is not the greatest eater. I’ve tried Baby Led Weaning, I’ve tried Annabel Karmel, I’ve tried softly weeping while he won’t even look at something beautiful from the River Cottage book that took me hours to make. His favourite meal would probably be rice cakes and water. In essence it’s like living with a fourteen year old girl.
But what a shock, he likes cakes! Pfft… This contains two types of fruit and therefore must be pretty close to being nutritionally perfect, right?
Stupidly Easy Banana and Raisin Cake
(This is taken from nibblous but has a couple of changes)
4oz butter or margarine
6oz any sugar you can find
8oz self raising flour
2 or 3 very ripe bananas
A couple of handfuls of raisins
Heat the oven to gas mark 4; 180C
Grease a loaf tin.
Mash the bananas
Cream the butter and sugar together and mix in the eggs
Mix together the two yellow sludges and the raisins
Mix in the flour.
Scrape into the loaf tin and bake for 40 minutes. Check it’s cooked by popping a knife through the centre and if it doesn’t come out clean then then lower the temperature to gas mark 2; 150C and cook for a further 30 minutes.
Wait for it to cool slightly then pop out onto a wire tray and then eat. You could wait until it’s properly cool first but I’ve yet to manage this…