Love your Ladygarden (with a Mooncup)

I’m sure some of you may have strong feelings of admiration for your iPod or mobile phone, well I’ve got the same kind of awe-struck, ‘don’t ever leave me, I can’t live without you’ respect for my Mooncup . I heard about the product a few years ago and, intrigued by the ecological, financial and health benefits, I picked one up from Boots. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best things I’ve ever bought.

Contrary to knee-jerk opinion, Mooncups are not just something exclusive for crazy hippy types who live in tents, eat only bark and have a tendency to call their children Badger or Acorn. They are a workable, environmentally preferable and (perhaps most importantly) physically safer option.

A lot of my friends have grimaced and muttered ‘Gross!’ when I’ve mentioned my Mooncup use. A bit of your own blood (yeah, blood, there, I said it!) in a cup is gross? Really? OK, then take a moment to consider the facts. In her lifetime the average woman will use 11000 pads or tampons which will end up in either in landfill or the sea, whereas 1 Mooncup will last for years. Tampons are bleached, can cause dryness (possibly leading to the dreaded ‘T’ word) and leave fibres – the Mooncup is made from medical-grade silicone and is latex free, containing no dyes or toxins. Now, you tell me which is gross(er) – pouring away a few millimeters of blood down the toilet or putting potentially harmful chemicals into your body then clogging up the world with the waste? If you don’t care about the environment, that’s your call but if you give a damn about your own body, Mooncup is a must-have.

And if you don’t care about the planet or your own body, you’ve got to care about money, right? Costing around £20, my Mooncup paid for itself within a year. Using a quick bit of maths (NOT my strong point), if I were to spend £2 a month on sanitary products for the next 25 years, I’d be spending £600. As it stands I’ll probably need to buy another one, maybe two, Mooncups before I finally say goodbye to ‘the red plague’ forever. Hmmm, a £60 expenditure compared to £600, let me think. Additionally, I never have to worry about running out of tampons (or have them embarrassingly fall out of my handbag in the middle of the pub) ever again.

Being totally honest, it took me a couple of cycles to truly ‘bond’ with my Mooncup, just the same as with learning any new skill, but it’s totally worth it. There’s definitely a knack to using the cup but a bit of practise is all that’s needed (tampons weren’t exactly easy to get to grips with either if memory serves). I realise and acknowledge that some women really don’t like the idea of getting up close and personal with their monthly issue but if someone like me (who has a track record for fainting at the sight of her own blood) can do it, I’m sure you can too. It’s not gross, it’s totally normal. I mean, it’s not exactly pleasant (most of the stuff you do involving a toilet isn’t exactly something you relish or would be prepared to do at the dinner table) but it’s not horrific or gross or dirty or messy or any of the things I’ve heard people say about the idea. In fact, it’s a great deal more hygienic and there’s certainly no risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome.

Of course, I’d rather not have to go through the stupid process once a month but as Alice Cooper said, only women bleed and it’s something we have to do, like it or not. The Mooncup is simply a cheaper, safer and more environmentally responsible way of dealing with it and, far from making the whole palava more complex or tiresome, it simplifies it. It’s actually very liberating. When I was at school I remember the ‘Tampax Lady’ coming to visit, if only it was the ‘Mooncup Lady’ who visited schools, perhaps the idea wouldn’t seem so alien and unpalatable to some.

If you’re even slightly tempted to try this product, do it! And if this blog hasn’t convinced you, perhaps this video, part of the Mooncup team’s ‘Love Your Vagina’ campaign, will.

‘Sup Cakes?

Who fancies a game? It’s easy, just a little game of ‘What’s Wrong With This Picture’. Below is a photo of some cupcakes that were delivered to my house.

Did you get it? I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s a definite air of ‘not quite right’ to this offering. Perhaps it’s the mangled butterflies (the one with just a single wing is particularly graceful) or the skillful way the cakes have not just been squashed from above, but also from the sides – now that’s craftmanship!

What makes this delivery even more ridiculous is that they were sent (along with a bottle of wine, which arrived intact but that I’m still a bit scared to drink lest it actually be old Ribena) as compensation for a previous cock-up where my OH’s mum had received the wrong design (and amount) of cakes. To confuse matters (and the MIL) further, the accompanying greeting card which should have conveyed birthday felicitations, love and best wishes from my OH, myself and the cat (yes, the cat!) was actually signed from ‘Barry and Paula’. As you can see, the Glasgow based bakers (who are a top result when searching Google for ‘Cupcake delivery’) really pulled out all the stops to rectify their mistake and renew their good name. I do recognise and appreciate the generous gesture of apology (the cakes and delivery should have cost £30+), but I have to speculate if it would have been more constructive if the goods hadn’t arrived looking like they’d been made by a work experience boy with the artistic flair of a plant pot and delivered by a nervous Parkinson’s sufferer on a space hopper.

While I’ve not complained a second time (in all honesty, having tasted the cakes, I really don’t want any more), I’ll be looking elsewhere if I require similar in the future. Or maybe I’ll just bake and deliver them myself.

Return of the Snack

I’m the kind of person that can eat nothing but clear soup and fresh fruit for a week and lose just a pound, but if I have a Chinese take-away I put on half a stone. The problem is, I love my food so chances of cutting out all the tasty stuff is pretty much non-existent. If someone told me I could never eat bread (lovely, lovely bread!) ever again, I’d probably cry, or push them over, run away and barricade myself in the nearest bakery until they changed their mind. I’m not a huge snacker (either in size or appetite) but I’m not averse to tucking into a big bowl of something crunchy (NOT cucumber sticks!) while watching a movie so I like to keep a look out for reasonably healthy nibbles. I say reasonably because, despite what some manufacturers would like you to believe, unless you snack exclusively on fruit or veg, anything you eat between meals is going to be surplus to requirements and, the nicer it tastes, the less healthy it will be for you, that’s just the way it works.

Recently Penn State Snacks were kind enough to send me a selection of their pretzels, including the newly re-launched (it was discontinued in 2009) ‘Worcester Sauce’ flavour. I’m going to hold my hands up here, I’d never tried these snacks before, I guess pretzels just weren’t on my radar – crisps, popcorn, nuts, yes, but not pretzels. Having sampled them, I’ve no idea why because they certainly tick all the boxes. Crunchy? TICK. Moreish? TICK. Tasty? TICK. As for healthy(ish), well yes, actually – go on, have another tick. The RRP for a 30g bag is 60p (£1.29 for 175g) and contains 131kcal (the Sour Cream and Chive is two calories more). The average bag of crisps (unless you count Quavers, which I don’t because they’re mostly air with a sprinkling of cheese dust) is usually around this mark. In addition to this Penn State pretzels are baked, not fried. Not exactly ‘guilt-free’ but certainly ‘less guilt-laden than most’, which is, frankly, good enough for me.

I also like the fact that the packs clearly state they are produced in a ‘nut free factory’. Luckily I don’t suffer any allergies but having lived with a girl who did have ‘nutty issues’ (alas, she never required me to stab her in the heart with her ‘magic pen’ despite my interest in recreating the scene from Pulp Fiction) I have an insight into how difficult and restricting the condition can be. SO many foods say ‘May contain nuts’ or ‘Produced in a factory that also handles nuts’ or ‘Our manager might have had a Snickers this morning, so best give these a miss’ in an effort to cover their backs for their own sloppy provisions so it’s nice to see a snack so well labelled.

These are being stocked in ASDA, Boots and Superdrug (among others) so I’ll definitely be picking up more when the mood takes. The 30g bag is perfect for snacking on the run or adding to a lunch box, while the larger bag is great for sharing, either during a quiet night in or as something for guests to munch with drinks before a dinner party.

So, while I haven’t yet found my perfect snack (that would be a deep fried shredded crispy beef flavour pizza at 1 calorie a slice!), these little guys will certainly do nicely for now.