Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Is this the way to Oriontar?

Have you ever heard of Oriontar? Surely you have. It’s where the three kings come from. You know, we three kings of Oriontar.

Yesterday I received a beautiful hand drawn Christmas card from a sweet young girl in my class. She is very clever and one of the best writers we’ve got. Her story about being trapped in a snow globe was a real page turner. 

The card had a funny picture and the subversive lyrics to this familiar song:

We three kings of Oriontar

Bearing gifts we travel afar…

One in a scooter

One in a car

Oh darn! I don’t know where to park!

It made me laugh out loud as that is a silly variation of the song that I had not been previously acquainted with. But I loved with all my heart the word Oriontar. Well, think about it, that’s what it sounds like. Orient are…Oriontar. This may be the best mistake ever. It also came with an apology in case the card was offencive which just shows you what a lovely polite girl she is. I assured her that I found it hilarious.

The other British version that I know was taught to me by a funny young lad who is now in year seven. We used to tell each other jokes and try to stump the other person with riddles.

I taught him to sing Ren and Stimpy’s We Wish You a Hairy Chest Wig (and a bucket of beards) for which I’m sure his parents were eternally grateful to me and in return he taught me this one:

We three kings of Orient are

One in a taxi

One in a car

One on a scooter

Beeping his hooter

Smoking a big cigar!

I just love the Britishness of it. Beeping his hooter. In the classic book Wind in the Willows, Toad beeps the hooter of his motor car and you will never guess the sound it makes. Go on. Have a think. You ready for it? When Toad beeps his hooter it says POOP! POOP! Ah, those wacky Brits.

The version I grew up singing (this song really does lend itself ever so nicely to parody) was this one:

We three kings of Orient are

Smoking on a rubber cigar.

One was loaded

It exploded….

We two kings of Orient are!

Oh how we laughed at that when I was a child.  Back in the 70‘s that was cutting edge comedy. Or so we thought.

So here’s to a lovely holiday.

May we laugh.

 May we sing.

May we go to Oriontar.


Sunday, 15 December 2013

Taking stock

Stock cubes, bouillon powder, broth….it all makes water taste better.  We are devoted to adding it to practically everything. Soup (but of course!) but also to the water used to make rice and to boil potatoes in. It just makes everything tastes that little bit richer.

The downfalls are that stock cubes can be a pain to get to dissolve and sometimes you only want a bit of one and then you have all these partial cubes laying about. So we decided to go with a powder as it was more economical and you could just use what you needed. For years I bought Marigold brand bouillon powder.

Some had whey powder in them, but there were two types labelled vegan. The regular one we felt was a bit high in salt so I used to buy a small pot of the regular and a small pot of the low salt and mix them together. Perfect!

Except for one thing. They contained palm oil. Palm oil is one of those things that has gradually moved into our consciousness and set up house. We worry about the destruction of the rainforest that occurs due to palm oil production and the fact that it is destroying the habitat of orang-utans. Therefore we try to buy it as little as possible.

For a while I was buying these Knorr stock pots which I felt gave a really rich feeling to soups (probably due to the long list of fillers and artificial flavour enhancers), but they were made by Unilever and yet again, the ugliness crept into our hearts and we knew it would have to go the way of Marigold Bouillon. Unilever doesn’t have a very good track record on animal right’s issues--they are one of the leading companies who still use animal testing for their products. They are not the worst of the lot, but they are not the best either and our consciences  would not allow us to continue.

So what do you do? Make it yourself of course. This was a huge DUH! Moment for us--we make so many other things from scratch, why not this one?

I started with a google search. I came across many types, including one that pureed fresh vegetables and herbs with a huge amount of salt and then was frozen. The salt kept it from freezing solid, but I found it just lacked the depth of taste we were looking for and was way too salty. So into the bin that went.

Then I came across this one from Super Veggie Mom at  and it seemed just right. It looked just like the Marigold broth powder we loved (but without the palm oil) and I had nearly everything on hand. Plus it was lower in salt than any other recipe like it that I found. I liked also that she specified sea salt as I think sea salt has a much richer depth of flavour than table salt and so you get more flavour with less. I use Malden Sea Salt with the big flakes of salt.

So here goes. How to make your own homemade vegetable broth powder.


  2 cups nutritional yeast

½ cup sea salt

2 TB onion powder (I used dehydrated onion flakes because that’s what we had)

1 TB turmeric

2 tsp dried dill weed

2 tsp marjoram (I used 2 tsp mixed herbs which has sage and marjoram in it)

2 tsp dried lemon peel (I left this out as I could not find it in the shops)

1 tsp celery seed

1 tsp basil

1 tsp thyme

1 TB dried parsley

1.Place all ingredients except parsley in a food processor in the listed order and blend until powdered together. 

2. Add parsley and pulse to blend

3. Store in an air tight container


4. To use--combine 1 tsp of powder with 1 cup water.

That’s it! I had it made in less than 10 minutes and that included clean up.

It tastes delicious--just as good as the commercial ones and possibly better as you know it is not full of fillers, palm oil, animal suffering and junk.

Look at the ones you buy and if you are shocked with the unpronounceable ingredients, palm oil or MSG then give this one a try.

Friday, 13 December 2013

A Kenning

Have you ever heard of a type of poem called a kenning? No, neither had I until recently. If you want to read more about them and see some examples go here:

 Yesterday we were writing them in year 4 about Boudicca and the Romans and it seemed like great fun so I decided to write one about myself.


I am…

An avid recycler

An open drawer leaver

A theatre goer

A book reader

A train traveller

An Oz collector

An animal protector

A green bean hater

A joke teller

A Doctor Who watcher

A spider nurturer

A jewellery maker

A library user

A mind changer

A kale devourer

A badger protester

A ukulele player

A razor refuser

An art buyer

A letter writer

A tradition keeper

Why don’t you have a go at writing one about yourself?

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

What do you call a man who hangs on a wall?


Boom boom!

 It’s that time of year again, folks. Advent and the coming of Christmas is my favourite time of year. Time to light candles and read a poem or holiday quotation to warm our hearts. Time to celebrate my birthday with the traditional leek and potato soup, decorating the Christmas tree and watching (and blubbing through) The Muppet’s Christmas Carol. A time for silly puns and terrible jokes in Christmas crackers. Time for shouting “Oh no it isn’t!” and  “He’s behind you!” at the Panto.

What’s not to love?  

Spiderman and I often just club in together for our gifts--buy tickets for an experience or purchase something we both love to share. You may recall last month we purchased a fantastic drawing from the wonderful illustrator and cartoonist Tom Gauld.  He very kindly offered to hold back another drawing  for us that we had our eye on  until December. Well, it’s December folks! Our purchase of Interview With a Cultural Teddy Bear has arrived!
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 This cartoon featured on the blog last year as just one we had seen and found funny and quirky. Who knew it would someday belong to us?

Spiderman excelled himself for my birthday, getting me some more amazing artwork and supporting a good cause. Our friend Chris Priestley  is one of the best young adult writers of our age. His Tales of Terror series invoke a real sense of unease and delicious tingling down the back of your spine as you read them and his novels inspired by great works of literature such as Mister Creecher (Frankenstein) and The Dead Men Stood Together (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner)  are some of his finest. They take a refreshing look at the original source and fill in details that the authors gloss over.  Mister Creecher fills in the bits where Frankenstein and Clerval travel to England to find the parts to create a mate for the creature. This book is possibly one of the best written books I have ever read and it cleverly woven (just to make it that bit better) with Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, Mary Shelley (who actually wrote Frankenstein) and her husband Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley as well as a whole host of literary and culteral references But before Chris was a writer, he was an artist and illustrator.

Spiderman stumbled across an auction in aid the typhoon in the Philippines and Chris had kindly donated some works. Spiderman bid on it and won and so we are the proud owner of the original cover art from Mister Creecher and a personalised copy of the book.

 Here is the pen and ink drawing for the cover of Mister Creecher. Please click on the picture so you can see it in all its glory. I’m not sure you will be able to see all the details, but the skin stretched tightly over the skull and the look of anguish in the creature’s dead eyes are truly haunting.

It also came with this one--a picture of the graves.

The two pictures were married together on the computer to form the cover which looks like this when you buy it in shops:

 And here is the front of the book, personalised to me with a happy birthday message and a pile of skulls. Every girl wants a pile of skulls for her birthday.

I know I do.

 I realise that not everyone would find it romantic to receive a drawing of a pile of skulls and a creature reanimated from the bodies of the dead, but Spiderman knows me well. He knows how I love art and the books Frankenstein and Mister Creecher. He knows that I am drawn to the haunted, the downtrodden and the wounded.

He knows me well.

So happy advent, happy birthday, happy Christmas and happy life.

Friday, 6 December 2013

I am the song

My class of year 4s (think third grade to my American peeps) read this poem by Charles Causley

I am the Song

I am the song that sings the bird.
I am the leaf that grows the land.
I am the tide that moves the moon.
I am the stream that halts the sand.
I am the cloud that drives the storm.
I am the earth that lights the sun.
I am the fire that strikes the stone.
I am the clay that shapes the hand.
I am the word that speaks the man

and we were inspired to write our own version. It really makes you think in a different way. I was so proud of them because they also performed it at the school carol concert on Wednesday.  It was beautifully and simply recited and a refreshing change from the many soppy poems recited in unison in a sing-song voice.

Well done Spain class.

I am the Song

I am the song that caries the angel

I am the angel that caries the song

I am the wood that lights the fire

I am the fire that lights the wood

I am the excitement that holds the night

I am the night that holds the excitement

I am the tree that protects the man

I am the man that protects the tree

I am the joy that comes with a child

I am the child that comes with joy

I am the king that follows the star

I am the star that follows the king

I am the cradle that warms the baby

I am the baby that warms the cradle

I am the choir that sings in the church

I am the church that sings in the choir

I am the child that lights the candle

I am the candle that lights the child

I am the song that gives us light

I am the light that gives us song

I am the peace that comes with the baby

I am the baby that comes with peace

I am the boy who believes in Christmas

I am the Christmas who believes in the boy

Isn’t that beautiful? We also sang a rousing, but slightly out of tune version of Band Aid’s charity single in aid of the Africa Famine from the 80’s Do they know it’s Christmas? You recall it--with that extremely catchy bit at the end where everyone sings

Feed the world

Let them know

it’s Christmas time
As a teenager in the 1980's I had it on 45 record. I told my class this was the way it was originally produced (not the CD backing track we were using)  and all but one said, “What’s a record, Miss? Is it like a CD?“ which made me feel really old. The only one who knew what a record was said, “My granddad has a turntable and records at his house but he’s ancient.” Then I felt even older. Ha ha

 All in all it was a magical, but exhausting night getting 200+ children to the church on time (literally and metaphorically) but it was worth it.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Dragon Breath

There was a cartoon we saw --probably 20 years ago--that we still use as a joke. It had a dragon talking to another dragon saying, “Your breath…it’s so minty fresh…I can’t stand it.”  Spiderman has a love of all things peppermint and so often has quite minty breath. I always think of dragons when I think of minty fresh. 

 I love the idea of mouthwash, but have you seen what goes into commercial mouthwashes these days? Artificial colours anyone? Plus a whole host of ingredients from artificial sweeteners to fluoride.

I fall into the anti-fluoride camp because I know it is a by-product of the fertilizer industry. It is illegal to dump it in rivers as it kills fish and so the fertilizer industry did a deal with the dental industry and the rest is history. Personally, I don’t think I want to put something in my mouth that tells you to call poison control  if you ingest too much. Actually brushing  and flossing (not toothpaste) is what cleans teeth. I use a natural fluoride free toothpaste and I’ve got lovely teeth.

I started looking for  a mouthwash free of artificial muck and poison, but they cost a packet for a teeny bottle and I thought…hang on a minute…I could make that at home. For practically free.

You’ll need to find a small glass bottle with a lid (I used a mini wine bottle) and a shot glass. I bought my shot glass for 30p at a charity shop.

Dragon’s Breath Minty Mouthwash

 1 cup warm water

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

Peppermint essential oil

1. Dissolve the bicarb into the warm water. Bicarbonate of soda is excellent for killing bacteria.

2. Add  drops of peppermint to taste. I like 12 drops.

3. Funnel it into your bottle. That’s it! It’s ready!

 No weird stuff. No nasties. No artificial sweetener. Just pure minty freshness.

As  it doesn’t have any emulsifiers, you’ll need to give it a good shake to distribute the oils right before you want to use it.

If you find you need a bit of sweetness then add 1tsp vegetable glycerine--available at the pharmacy. It’s used here for sore throats. If you need a more medicinal mouthwash then add a few drops thyme oil (thymol is the key ingredient in Listerine) or essence of myrrh (myrrh is quite astringent and good for tightening loose teeth)  or use a few drops of clove oil if you have a toothache. Incidentally, a few drops clove oil put right at the gums of a sore tooth does wonders. It is sold here on the dental aisle.

Now isn’t that better than all that lime green Listerine?

Monday, 2 December 2013

The Elvis Sandwich

When we got our first microwave back in the early 80s, my dad I loved to make microwave bacon. In order to cook it you had to line a paper plate with a dozen paper towels to soak up all the grease.

Now that I am more health conscious the thought of all that grease makes me feel a bit queasy, but I still recall fondly our favourite sandwich which we dubbed the Elvis.

Peanut butter and bacon. I think my mum was horrified by our tastes, but the combination of sweet Jif  peanut butter (choosy mothers choose Jif) and salty, smoky bacon really hit the spot. If you really wanted to be like Elvis you could add some sliced banana as we read somewhere that had been his favourite sandwich combination.

This is where Spiderman interjects and reminds me how Elvis died--fat, alone, on the toilet with a sandwich in his hand.

But no matter. This is the healthy version of the Elvis.

These days I would never choose Jif peanut butter--it is full of additives like huge amounts of hydrogenated oil and loads of sugar. I prefer just plain peanut butter make from peanuts. Just peanuts. Sometimes I make my own flavoured ones (like chocolate peanut butter or chai nut butter) but I always have a container of just good old plain peanut butter on hand for making peanut sauce.


Elvis would have used toasted white bread but I used a rye crisp instead as it is lower in gluten and healthier.  I spread it with a layer of peanut butter and added some sliced banana and the topped it with some coconut bacon.

Heaven. Just heaven.

It reminds me so much of my dear old dad. This would be a way we could still eat the same thing side by side. If he were alive, I’m sure we would.

So here’s to you, GLT. I’ll eat my Elvis sandwich and think of you. Maybe you are somewhere in Heaven, eating yours and thinking of me.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Smoky, salty, crispy…yum!

Who here doesn’t like bacon? Well pigs, for a start. But we all crave that smoky, salty, crispy  taste. I admit that bacon was the hardest animal product to give up, for precisely those reasons. But I also know that compassion taste better than anything so I am always looking for ways to include that smoky, salty umami flavour in my food. Because Spiderman and I realised pretty early on, it’s not the meat we were craving, but the sauce or the way of cooking it that we loved the taste of. You could cook anything that way, with that sauce and it would be a satisfying meal.

 Cue coconut bacon. This is all the rage in vegan land. As Isa Chandra Moskowitz once said, “Given the chance, vegans will make bacon out of anything.” It ticks all the boxes of smoky, salty, (with a hint of sweet) and crispy and is made from the whole food of coconut chips. Sure, you can buy Bacos which are accidentally vegan or make your own using TVP (which is little dry soya nuggets that need to be re-hydrated) but both of those are highly processed and we prefer to eat more natural, plant based food.

But as coconut bacon proves--you can still have delicious kick ass food that is healthy.  

An internet search revealed dozens of recipes. I ended up adapting several to match what ingredients I had. The one thing you will need for sure is those wide slices of unsweetened coconut meat not the shreds. I found mine in a bag at our local health food shop.


Coconut Bacon

Preheat the oven to 300F/150C

125g bag coconut chips (a little more than 2.5 cups)

1 TB liquid smoke

2 TB tamari or soy sauce

1 TB maple syrup

1 TB toasted sesame oil

1 tsp smoked paprika.


1. Mix all ingredients in a little bowl and then pour over the coconut in a bigger bowl and really mix it in with your hands to get all the pieces coated.


 2. Line a large roasting tin with parchment paper and lay the coconut as flat as you can, trying not to have too much overlapped.

3. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. The bacon will get darker and dryer as it goes on.


4. Take it out of the oven  Remove the parchment from the hot pan and set on the counter to cool and crisp up. When the coconut is cool, it is very crispy…and salty…and smoky…and sweet…and yum.

Super yum. It reminds me of that crispy bacon you used to get at IHOP with your pancakes.

Several recipes called for  1TB water instead of toasted sesame oil, but I like the smoky quality the oil adds. I might even cut back the maple syrup a wee bit (by ¼ a teaspoon) next time and add ¼ tsp extra liquid smoky.

Because there will definitely be a next time. It will store on the counter in an airtight container for a week, but I doubt it will last that long.

We’re having it on pizza tonight and colcannon jacket potatoes on Wednesday (twice baked potatoes filled with tangy cashew cheese and kale) and I’ve been sprinkling it on everything.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s recipe--the Elvis Sandwich.

Friday, 29 November 2013

This is an ex-parrot

You may have heard that the old Monty Python crew—the still living ones—are having a reunion tour in July of 2014. They are doing their first live performance since Live at the Hollywood Bowl thirty years ago. It was originally meant to be a one-off gig but as the tickets sold out in 43.5 seconds (I should mention that the O2 Arena seats up to 20,000 people) they have extended it to a few other dates.

And we’ll be there.

Spiderman has asked me not to enquire as to the cost of our tickets. I shan’t.

We have never been in such a large venue before. It is a good thing they project the stage onto a screen as we’d have no chance in hell of seeing them. They’d be like ants, I have no doubt.

But it doesn’t matter.

We’ll be seeing them.

Monty Python.

Our comedy heroes.

Live. On stage.

Really, really old men that used to be funny.

I hope they still are.

But we will be able to say we were there—we saw them—and that will be worth it.

Let the silliness begin.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Like Dr Seuss on Acid

This is my new favourite song. It is weird and wonderful, like Dr Seuss on acid. It is definitely an earworm and I’ve been humming it constantly which annoys Spiderman to no end. He hasn’t actually heard it (he refuses to) but I think this is because he knows he’ll be consumed by it and be forced to start making animal noises in public or talking to friendly horses in morse code.  

I came across it last week in our school talent show. Apparently I was the *only* person in the school who had never heard it. It featured in no less than 5 acts and I never got tired of it. After the talent show, I ambled over to Spiderman’s school and told him all about it. A friendly sixth form boy (think 12th grade) overheard me and filled me on the details such as who the artist is (none of the wee children mentioned it) and the fact that they have a video.


The band is called Ylvis--they are possibly the most successful band from Norway since A-ha. The song is called What does the fox say? and is like a children’s primer mixed with a load of nonsense all set to a very danceable beat.

Here’s a link to the video which is helpfully subtitled. What does the fox say? 

 If for some reason you can't access youtube (I myself have to go to the public library to watch it) then here are the lyrics just to give you an idea of the delicious weirdness. 

It is already so popular that it has acquired a parody. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? The parody by Annoying Orange (which is equally funny) is like an episode of Veggie Tales on drugs.

I think it gets funnier every time I hear it. I did have to explain to some kids about the line “And the seal goes ow ow ow!” because none of them knew about baby seals being clubbed for their fur.

I read somewhere online that it was being turned into a children’s book and I will be standing in line to buy it when it does.

 I’d better start practicing my morse code.


Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Iron Man

The Iron man came to the top of the cliff. How far had he walked? Nobody knows. Where had he come from? Nobody knows.

 Taller than a house, the Iron Man stood at the top of the cliff, on the very brink, in the darkness.

I mentioned in my last post about the amazingly talented artist Tom Gauld and the cartoon we bought from him. This is a giant blow up of his illustrated version of Ted Hughes’ The Iron Man. There is a cracking exhibit at the British Library at the moment sponsored by the Folio Society where they’ve taken famous children’s books and shown you different illustrations for each. You can see:

 The Iron Man

The Borrowers

The Secret Garden


Peter Pan

The Wind in the Willows

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Just So Stories

 I was so excited to see Tom Gauld’s Iron Man that I made Spiderman go back with me another time armed with the camera so I could have my photo made. Because I’m bossy like that. He talked me out of pretending to drive Toad’s Motor Car, though. Shame.

Did I also mention this exhibition is free? If you live in the UK, check it out if you can get to London. Mum, when you come at Christmas make sure you go! All my peeps in the US, I’m afraid you’ll have to settle for just me and the Iron Man.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Great Expectations--the video game

We recently saw a limited edition print at GOSH! Comics by one of our favourite illustrators Tom Gauld. We got really excited and wondered, "Why have we never thought about buying some of his artwork?"

We considered buying the limited edition print (we have a few of those) but Spiderman suggested contacting him directly and see if he had any for sale from his collection of cartoons You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack.

He did! So on Tuesday night when we were in London for Distraction Club we leafed through the book during the intervals  noting down our favourites so we could ask to see if he had any of those available.

Sadly, our first choice the Owl and the Seasick Pussy Cat had already been sold, but this gem of Great Expectations--the Video Game was available! But then we hit a dilemma. Spiderman had mentioned in his email another of his cartoons that we really like that had appeared in the Guardian. An Interview With a Cultural Teddy Bear was also available! Oh no! What to do?

We debated, back and forth and could not seem to decide between them and so we did what any greedy art loving people would do--we asked if he would be willing to hold the Cultural Teddy for us for a month or two when we had more money and we would buy it then.

He said yes! What a lovely man. So Great Expectations has arrived and will be framed shortly and a Cultural Teddy will join it in a few months.


If you like quirky illustrations--his cartoons often have a very literary bent--then please check out his website He's done a cracking graphic novel called Goliath (yes that Goliath) and has done my favourite illustrations for Ted Hughes' The Iron Man.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

There is no excuse for cruelty

Why the Tin Man has a heart (and you should too)

The Tin Woodman (as he is always referred to in the books) has always practiced ahimsa (the Sanskrit word for non violence) long before he had his heart. In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz there is a scene where they are all walking down the yellow brick road on their quest to ask the great and powerful Oz for the gift they believe they lack--The Scarecrow for brains (despite that he shows great ingenuity in the book), the Tin Woodman for a heart (despite the fact that he is so gentle and loving), the Cowardly Lion for courage (despite being quite brave) and Dorothy who shows all the qualities mentioned above (cleverness, kindness, bravery) despite only being seven years old who only wants to get back home to Kansas.

Once, indeed, the Tin Woodman stepped upon a beetle that was crawling along the road and killed the poor little thing. This made the Tin Woodman very unhappy, for he was always careful not to hurt any living creature; and as he walked along he wept several tears of sorrow and regret. These tears ran slowly down his face and over the hinges of his jaw and there they rusted.

When Dorothy asks him a question, he cannot speak and must mime for them to get to get the oil can. 


“This will serve me a lesson,” said he, “to look where I step. For if I should kill another bug or beetle I should surely cry again and crying rusts my jaw so that I cannot speak.” Therefore he walked very carefully, with his eyes on the road and when he saw a tiny ant toiling by he would stopover, so as not to harm it. The Tin Woodman knew very well he had no heart, and therefore he took great care never to be cruel or unkind to anything.

The band of travellers who have now added Dorothy--yes that Dorothy--to their numbers, travel west towards the Winkie country.  So best beloved, can you recall what items were on the list that Ojo need to procure for the antidote to petrifaction?

Whilst talking to the Tin Woodman (who was now Emperor of the Winkies)  Ojo spies a drop of oil at his knee and quickly catches it in a small bottle.  They discuss the fact that he has found the three hairs from the Woozy’s tail (still in the Woozy as no one could pull them out), a six leaved clover (which he spent time in prison for), a gill of water from a dark well and the seemingly impossible ingredient found only moments before--a drop of oil from a live man’s body.  But one item remains.

The left wing of a yellow butterfly,” said Ojo. “In this yellow country and with your kind assistance, that aught to be very easy to find.”

 The Tin Woodman stared at him in amazement.

"Surely you are joking!” he cried.

 “No,” replied Ojo, much surprised; I am in earnest.”

 “But do you think for a moment I would permit you, or anyone else, to pull the left wing from a yellow butterfly?” demanded the Tin Woodman sternly.

 “Why not sir?”

 Why not? You ask me why not? It would be cruel--one of the most cruel and heartless deed I ever heard of,” asserted the Tin Woodman. “The butterflies are among the prettiest of all created things, and they are sensitive to pain. To tear a wing from one would cause it exquisite torture and it would soon doe in great agony. I would not permit such a wicked deed under any circumstances.”

Ojo was astounded to hear this. Dorothy, too, looked grave and disconcerted, but she knew that the Tin Woodman was right. The Scarecrow nodded his head in approval of his friend’s speech, so it was evident that he agreed with the Emperor’s decision.

Scraps is the only one on Ojo’s side stating “I want to help Ojo, who is my friend, to rescue his uncle whom he loves and I‘d kill a dozen useless butterflies to enable him to do that,” but as the Tin Woodman points out she cannot help her heartless remark because she was created without a heart.

“The yellow country of the Winkies,” said Ojo sadly, “is the only place in Oz where a yellow butterfly can be found.”

 “I’m glad of that said the Tin Woodman. “As I rule the Winkie Country I can protect my butterflies.”

 “Unless I get the wing--just one left wing--” said Ojo miserably, “I can’t save Unc Nunkie.”

“Then he must remain a marble statue forever,” declared the Tin Emperor firmly.

They decide to go back to the Emerald City and seek the advice of Ozma. She was informed of the situation whereby the Tin Woodman had positively refused to sacrifice the yellow butterfly to the magic potion.

He is quite right,” said Ozma, who didn’t  seem a bit surprised. “Had Ojo told me that one of the things he sought was the wing of a yellow butterfly I would have informed him, before he started out, that could never secure it. Then you would have been saved the troubles and annoyances of your long journey.”

Ozma informs the group that Glinda the Good has known all along what Dr Pipt was up to and what happened to Unc Nunkie and Margolotte and about Ojo’s quest. She also knew that Ojo would fail so she sent the Wizard and told him what to do. Dr Pipt’s four kettles and spell book have been destroyed. His body was straightened out so that he would no longer be crooked in any sense of the word.  Unc Nunkie and Margolotte are brought back to life and Ojo the Unlucky is re-christened Ojo the Lucky.

Aww…gee that’s swell.

This was a huge and powerful lesson for me growing up and I’m sure is one of the reasons I try to practice ahimsa today. I always say that if you love animals the best way to help them is to not eat them. But there are other ways that animals are exploited for our gain. 

Many people are shocked at the experimentation still being done (considerably worse in the U.S. as the EU has tighter laws) on animals for cosmetics and household products. Proctor and Gamble are one of the worst offenders for this and it is well worth considering boycotting them for this reason. If you do decide to boycott, make sure you tell them why.

If you are interested in cruelty free cosmetics and household products then in the U.K. look for the Leaping Bunny logo. This means it was certified cruelty free by the BUAV (British Union Against Vivisection) but if you are in the U.S. check out this list of cruelty free companies. 

But what about medical testing? Surely we *still* need to test on animals here? Well organisations like the Dr Hadwen Trust (based right in our town!) think differently. They point out that animal experiments  predict  correctly how a medicine will react on humans between 5-25% of the time. That’s far worse than tossing a coin!

What about birth defects? Don’t we need to test drugs on animals to see if they cause birth defects? How many of these do you recognise?






Nitrous oxide




These are just a sampling of medications that are safe for humans but cause birth defects in animals.

If we don’t use animals, what will we use?

The Dr Hadwen Trust says, “This statement falsely assumes that animal experiments have been responsible for medical advances in the past. However, the real benchmarks of medical progress have relied on non-animal methodologies as will future developments.” Such as:

In vitro (test tube) research

Epidemiology (population research)

Post mortem studies

Genetic research

Clinical studies

Human tissue

Computer modelling

Advances in technology (MRI and PET scanners)

Human stem cells--which have already successfully been used to treat children with leukaemia.

Just to name a few.

So we don’t need to needlessly torture animals to save humans. There are alternatives. For more information visit 

So be like the Tin Woodman.

Use your heart.