Tuesday 31 December 2019

Sunday 29 December 2019


We had our delayed Christmas dinner, nothing too grand. Gammon, roast potatoes and parsnips, carrots, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

After washing up, we sat and played several levels of Overcooked 2, a lot easier but way more confusing with 4 of us. Note to self, keep out the way of DDiL’s on screen character, she whizzes around like crazy when cooking and DS just biffs you out the way, cos it’s fun - not!

We paused to have cheesecake then opened our Christmas Eve secret Santa presents. Some great things. Each has to be useful and cost £1 or less. I got bubble bath, some soft grip pegs, nail files, foil dishes for the freezer, a mini dehumidifier and some stuff to deep clean the washing machine.

Saturday 28 December 2019

Hazelnut Cheesecake

This is a special occasion cheesecake. I usually make it only once a year. It is rich but with a slight tart edge to it which helps cut through said richness. The first picture is obviously without the decoration. The little lumps in the cheesecake mixture come from hazelnut yoghurt. So far, I have only been able to buy that in Morrison's:
A small amount of chopped and roasted hazelnuts, plus half a chopped mini flake to decorate:
Herewith the recipe:

4oz digestive biscuits - crushed (I used chocolate digestives)
1oz ground or chopped hazelnuts
2 1/2 oz butter
4oz plain cream cheese/mascapone
1 small carton hazelnut yoghurt
1/4 pint double or whipping cream
2oz castor or icing sugar


2 tablespoons nuts and half a small flake


Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the crushed biscuits and hazelnuts. Press firmly into a 7" sandwich cake tin or dish. Put into the fridge for an hour to solidify. Despite lining the tin with cling film, I find it difficult to remove without the base cracking. You might want to use a tin with a removable bottom!  

Once the base is firm, mix together the cream cheese and sugar. In another bowl, whip the double cream until quite firm. Gradually stir the yoghurt into the whipped cream.

Add this mixture gradually to the cream cheese and sugar mixture and spread evenly on top of the biscuit base. Put back in the fridge overnight to firm.

The next day, decorate with some chopped dry roasted hazelnuts and the flake.


Friday 27 December 2019

A murmuration of starlings

In the years we have lived here, we have seen occasional little murmurations in the distance. Last night DB got back late walking Ruby and asked me to check out a huge one, over the house:
It lasted for quite a long time, didn't watch them settle into a huge conifer just yards away. They must have roosted shoulder to shoulder to fit into it. The chattering was very loud and the sound of their wings beating as they swooped overhead, was just magical.

They were still chattering away when we went to bed at 10:30, by which time, it was pitch black.

When we got up the next day, they were chattering away as loud as could be, but it was too cold to watch so we missed them taking off. I am sure they will return for a while.

Thursday 26 December 2019


After DB got back from walking Ruby, we opened our presents (from us and a few friends). We gave Ruby hers to keep her occupied, it was a knuckle bone shaped Nylabone:
 Herewith my presents from this our first round of gifts:
I received:

From Ruby a packet of butter toffees, my favourite.

From DB I received a nesting die set of circles, a rubber stamp of a postcard (thought it was postcard sized - doh), liquorice novelties, 4 pairs of ski socks for wearing around the house, and a lovely, lovely set of liquors.

From E., a mirrored photo frame and mint matchsticks, From T., 3 pairs of gardening gloves plus some hand cream, from R., a lovely mini pottery vase handmade by her daughter.

Some very nice gifts, some requested, some surprises. I think my best present was the liquors from DB:
The bottles from which can be resued - my kind of gift.

Wednesday 25 December 2019

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Poor Ruby! Yesterday afternoon she came back after a long walk and shortly after, threw up! Normally it doesn’t smell but this was awful. Goodness knows what she had eaten. Anyway, she seems fine this morning.

May you all have a wonderful day and find peace!

It will be just another day to us but we look forward to visitors in a few day. Stay safe everyone.

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Nearly vegetarian 'sausage' rolls

I decided to make up a recipe - it actually turned out right, first time. Herewith in case you fancy having a go:

100g stale breadcrumbs - stale as it will help soak up the cheese during cooking!
75g cooked smoked bacon - weight after cooking- chopped finely
75g grated mature Cheddar
2 tablespoons sage & onion stuffing mix, plus 3 tablespoons cold water and left to swell.

Mix all the above together in a bowl.

Add 1 medium well beaten egg.

This will still be a lightly loose mixture, you form it when putting the rolls together.

Lay out 1 sheet puff pastry and cut in half lengthways. Carefully squeeze mixture together to form sausages and use to line each half of the sheet. Brush down one edge of each sheet with milk or water and carefully roll the pastry to form rolls. Squeeze edges together to ensure a good seal.

Double line a baking pan. Use scissors to cut the rolls to your desired length, I tend to do about 1 1/2". Brush with a little milk or egg. Sprinkle with a little salt.

Bake at either 190C for 30 minutes or 200C for about 20 minutes or until done. Leave to go cold before storing in the fridge.

Use within 2 or 3 days and warm for best results:

Monday 23 December 2019

Putting away

The quilting project is about halfway through and the sewing machine is about to be put away! This will clear the dining room table not only for us but for when our guests turn up at the end of the week.

Handy not only for eating but doing our annual jigsaw puzzle. I am making two mini trifles for us, in a glass. Bread has been made and I need to let a few slices go stale for breadcrumbs.

DB has worked down the drive, removing my vegetable bed. It looks better for it. If I eventually decide to grow down there again, I shall do so in raised containers.

Saturday 21 December 2019

That was better

Up at 07:00, left at 08:00, home by 09:15. Hardly any traffic, Lidl relatively empty. We finished there, added a few things from another supermarket and left. Hooray!

DS and family got safely down south just before 23:00 hours. They are spending Christmas down there and will come to us for New year. That will be our Christmas.

After the dreadful rain yesterday, we have got blue sky and sunshine, only for a while but it cheers you up doesn’t it?

Friday 20 December 2019

Gave up, its mad out there

Whatever day we choose to do our food shopping, we get up at 07:00. Breakfast, dog walk and washing up done, we leave around 08:00.

Unfortunately we slept in and didn’t get up until 07:45. It will be okay we said and we left around 08:30.

Normally Lidl is first followed by whichever supermarket we need. Today we did it the other way around. It was busy to say the least.

By the time we got out traffic was almost at a standstill so we came home. We shall set the alarm another day and get everything finished. Bah humbug!

Thursday 19 December 2019

The other day - Updated

When my first batch of pastry went wrong, I did get around to making a second batch to turn into mince pies. I didn't have quite enough pastry for 12, so 5 had pastry tops, the rest bakewell tart tops:

We enjoy both versions. Herewith recipe for the alternative topping:

2oz white sugar
3oz of ground almonds or ground rice ( gives a crunchy topping)
1 large beaten egg
Few drops almond extract or 1/2 tsp maximum of almond essence

Mix together to a dropping consistency adding a little milk if necessary. Bake for same time as the pastry topped version.

Wednesday 18 December 2019

Even though...

I don't as yet feel at all in the Christmas mood, we have at least got our tree up. Here are day and night versions:

We have put just a few other things up and around the house but not as much as usual. I think I am catching DB's bah humbug mode!

Monday 16 December 2019


Ruby was laying at the dining room door watching things outside, just like her Auntie S:
Further progress on my craft room storage area:
I just need a few more of the little clip on containers. The area on the left is predominently sewing things, the other three are cardmaking items.

Sunday 15 December 2019

A pop of colour

We have been on the lookout for something to liven up the front room after it was decorated, it just needed a little something and a few days ago, we found what we were looking for.

We had previously bought a washable rug from a garden centre and went back to get this one in a slightly muted lime, for in front of the wood burner - as you can see, Ruby likes it although it 'walks' a huge amount every day!

On the way back home, we detoured into a nearby town and bought two of these cushions, both in the sale:
We think they have really helped jazz up the room.

Saturday 14 December 2019

Chimera baking

A posh word for "where was my brain when I started baking"?

I pulled out a bag of flour, rubbed in margarine and lard, to make pastry. I was just about to add water when I realised I had picked up self raising flour or instead of plain flour - doh!

Whilst I do like to add a smidge of self raising flour to my pastry, (it makes it more forgiving to work with), all self raising flour was completely wrong. I couldn't think what to do with it then I realised. It is almost the foundation for a sponge (except for the lard of course). War time bakers had to use lard for their sponges and they worked out fine.

Another lot of margarine was added to it, along with the zest of an orange, some sugar, some mixed spice and the remainder of a bakewell tart topping used elsewhere. Although the first lot of ingredients and the new margarine were rubbed in, once everything else and 4 eggs were added, it was beaten like an all in one cake:
I decided to bake it in two Victoria sandwich tins, herewith fresh from the oven and turned out:
Once cold, I used a 3" scone cutter to form little (if uneven) puddings:
They are now in the freezer ready for visitors, who won't mind them being wonky! There are enough scraps for us to have a pudding each this weekend, plus a few more for tea time treats.

All in all, a nice rescue.

Friday 13 December 2019

More wrapping paper - third time lucky!

Who thought such a simple idea would prove so difficult!

This next sheet was mistakenly done on the shiny side of the wrapping paper. As well as that little problem, the white pigment ink has gone very watery and sat in little blobs on top of the stamp. It has been used though:
I was happier with this next sheet of printing - pink and purple snowflakes:

Maybe one more sheet then all the wrapping will be done.

Thursday 12 December 2019

White glass crockery

A few years ago, we changed over to white glass crockery from Ikea. At the time we bought dinner and side plates and small/cereal/soup/dessert bowls.

When we went back the other weekend whilst away, we found some larger bowls in two sizes. One size was too big for our needs so we bought some of the smaller ones.

We wanted something to put our pasta in that would help contain any sauce from running off the edges of a plate.

Herewith a trial with Quorn madras curry and rice. The spoon underneath is a tablespoon to give you some idea of size:
There was plenty in it to fill us up.

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Rubbish and more rubbish

The applique item I was making has gone in the bin. I feel so much better for doing so and better still, it didn't involve a hissy fit!!!

It went wrong right from the start with too thin a background material. A very light stiffener was added to compensate, making it too stiff. Once the squares were joined, after making yet another mistake, they didn't align properly. The decorative top stitching I wanted to do just highlighted these problems even more.

So back to the beginning and I am leaving applique behind for now and doing a simple quilt which I know how to do reasonably well.

Watch this space!

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Wrapping paper

This year I decided I would make our own wrapping paper, then promptly forgot or couldn't be bothered at the time.

We needed some paper but the first few parcels I wrapped and stamped afterwards, didn't work properly on some of the less flat soft parcels - doh!

I unrolled my brown paper at the table and set to stamping it whilst flat. A quick rough and ready first time but I hope to improve:

Monday 9 December 2019

Biscuits for Ruby

Yesterday I made some biscuits for Ruby. At lunch she either has one of these and a very thin strand of dried tripe, or one fat piece of dried strip, or a vegetable based chew.

I adapt Rhonda Hetzel's recipe for these a lot of the time, see here. I have used others. If I use stock stead of water, I don’t add the cheese, sometimes as stock I use a teaspoon of peanut butter in hot water, left to go cold.

Herewith the 1/2 size recipe I used yesterday:

1 cup water.
1 cup oat flour made by whizzing up oats
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup rolled jumbo or normal oats
1/4 cup powdered milk
1 Tablespoon whole Linseeds
1 Tablespoon whole Chia seeds
1" piece of cheddar grated
1/2 clove finely chopped fresh garlic - optional depending on how you feel about it!

Don't add all the water to begin with as oat flour gets very sticky. Add more flour if needed.

Roll out to the thickness of a coin, stamp or cut out shapes and bake at 160 -170C for 1 hour.

Leave to dry in the cooling oven with the door slightly ajar or finish off in a dehydrator to thoroughly crisp up.

If I have used the leftover dough from the biscuits, to make small training treats, I break them up into individual ones (from the long strip seen below). This helps them thoroughly dry.

Saturday 7 December 2019

Non Christmas Baking

Yesterday evening I made some new to us granola. The link is here.

It does link to a site that has way too many adverts crop up. As I adapted the recipe slightly, I shall let you know what I did below and you can visit Natalies site for the original recipe.

In a bowl mix together:

3 cups of rolled oats (jumbo or otherwise)
1/2 cup pecan nuts or nuts of your choice
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon whole Chia seeds
1/4 cup dried dates or dried apricots
2 teaspoons normal ground cinnamon. (I have also used 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 of either ground ginger or mixed spice).
1/4 teaspoon salt
Fine zest of 1 orange

Melt 1/4 cup coconut oil and let cool. To this add 1/3 cup maple syrup or honey or slightly less date syrup. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract NOT essence.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until all the dry ingredients are coated.
Line a baking sheet and roughly flatten.

Bake at 170C for 20 minutes, gently shake the paper inwards to redistribute the granola without breaking any lumps up. Bake for another 10 minutes, remove from the oven and let it go cold on the baking sheet. Put into an airtight container and use within 2 weeks.

We found this recipe just right for us but you can of course, adapt it to your tastes. Herewith a picture:

Thursday 5 December 2019

Lagging behind...

Cards need to be posted, certain meals and snacks need to be cooked and frozen, some presents still have to be bought. I can’t seem to get going this year but have made a start.

Some presents have been ordered and will start arriving in the next few days.

Money that has matured in one account has been in our current account for a few days. Finally, we have found somewhere to put it to earn fixed interest for another year. Got to keep on top of it.

Onwards and upwards!

Tuesday 3 December 2019

The one thing we notice

About driving up north, is the vast difference in petrol prices. Here, it is currently around £1.20 in the supermarket and around £1.27 in other national ones.

We found supermarket petrol ranged between £1.26 and £1.29. The national ones as high as £1.39!
Disgusting really.

Even where we chose to eat never stays the same. Whenever we find a place that suits us, after a few visits it has disappeared. Yesterday was a case in point and we ended up have a hot pastrami and mozzarella bagel from a garage. It actually wasn’t too bad and filled us up but we had hoped for a breakfast of some kind.

Sunday 1 December 2019

Eh by gum!

It’s cold up North!

We are spending the weekend with DS and DDiL. Nights have been around -3C, very frosty for most of the mornings. DB in particular, along with a little help from me, has been helping DS lay a foundation for a shed which is is due to be erected in a few days. I think we are due, back home, for slightly milder nights before getting more cold ones. Time to get the wood burner on during the day by then.

Early January, their garage is due to be converted into a work room and mini storage area. 6 weeks of noise and mess.

I have loads to do when I return so shall make a list so as not to forget something. They should keep me busy for quite a while.

Tuesday 26 November 2019

Which way to vote?

If you voted to leave the EU, it seems you need to vote Tory. If you voted to remain in the EU, you need to vote for Labour or the Lib Dems.

Problem is, we are being asked to vote blind, again, just as we were in the Brexit Referendum. We have not been told the nitty gritty details of the Brexit deal so how do we know what the outcome will be, whichever way we vote.

I have voted Labour in the past but can’t stand Corbyn. I have also voted Conservative but don’t particularly like Boris. I have also voted Lib Dem’s in the past but also don’t like their new leader.

Basically I dislike the lot of them but I will vote.

Whatever you do, no matter how cheesed off with the whole lot you feel, please vote!

2/3rds of the squares done

I don’t think the interfacing making my sheet squares stiff will matter due to what I am making. Another element to this gift will need to be softer.

1/3rd of appliqué to do before I start to join things together. DB went up in the attic to bring down my three boxes of materials to see if anything would be useful as an edging, I think some is. It needs washing to freshen it up before cutting into long lengths.

A very dull day here, does nothing to lift the spirits does it?

Monday 25 November 2019

Slowly slowly catchy monkey!

After using lightweight interfacing behind my squares of cotton, the appliqué is working better. It is a little stiffer than I would like but time will tell. 7 more to sew on then I need to count to see how many more I need before I start sewing them together.

Hopefully onwards and upwards.

Saturday 23 November 2019

Appliqué - !

Is not something I am enjoying or want to repeat. My shapes were cut out and heat bonded to the squares. Then I tested the satin stitch I wanted to use to edge the shapes just to be safe. Turns out the sheet I bought to cut the squares from is a bit thin, it almost went like lace, not good.

Been out to get some lightweight iron-on re-enforcing material. That now needs cutting into squares and ironing on the back of appliqué squares. I shall do one as a trial, stitch it then decide if that is working. I may also need to re-enforce the non appliqué squares so everything matches. Time will tell.

Onwards and upwards!

Thursday 21 November 2019


Just been for a quick visit to my sister, in the next county. She gave us some wonderful soup for lunch. We then popped into a local garden centre to have a coffee so I could say a quick hi to my niece who works there.

Got back, taken Ruby out for a walk and are all settling down for the night. Jacket potato and cheese for tea followed by suet roll and custard. Too many carbs but can’t be bothered to do anything else.

Tuesday 19 November 2019


Our coldest night though not as cold as some of you. It was -2.9C when we got up at 07:30, so was probably colder than that. We have a blue sky, the sun is out and melting the frost where it strikes. A good frost often helps the last of the leaves fall.

I have a massage later today so the frost will have gone by then and I need it.

Saturday 16 November 2019

Boxes of Life

My very essence is made up of multi dimentional and multicoloured boxes. A weird statement you have to admit but only recently, have I realised this. Its makes things so much easier to understand and deal with. It simply is who I am, what nature and nurture has made me. It doesn't mean I can't or won't change. After all, they are my boxes and I am in charge of what to do with them.

I figured this out during nurse training, it was reinforced during my Fine Art course. It hit me out of the blue, was slightly overwhelming to begin with, but has continued to make more sense as I age.

Think of it like this.

Life experiences, good and bad, are filed away into a series of boxes. They metaphorically live under the bed or rather in the darker reaches of the brain where a large torch is needed and holding the hand of James Bond or Indiana Jones wouldn't go amiss!

A lot of people ignore them once filed and just get on with things, seemingly unaffacted. Others ignore them for different reasons, that is up to them. Some people take them out, shudder at what they contain, allow them to fester some more before putting them back.

I examine all mine, almost routinely, when I feel I am not coping. I find my torch to see if I can find the box that is causing the problem. Boxes are opened, their contents dragged out and scattered all around me. Elements are filed away for when I am stronger or have the knowledge on how to deal with them. Others are dealt with, with newly gained knowledge and some thrown away. Anything else left in there is filed back under the bed. It can be very daunting but also very cathartic.

There are occasions when I simply can't find what I am looking for, what is causing the problem. Other occasions when I know what is causing the problem but simply don't know how to deal with it for the best. This is when my depression surfaces.

I don't find depression scary, it is what it is, it is part of me. It too is multi dimentional and multi coloured. For some, depression is caused by life events. For others a chemical imbalance in the brain is the cause. It can either be intermittent or permanently there.

I can live with and deal with my underlying depression quite easily most of the time because I don't let it define me. It simply simmers below the surface waiting for a chance to surface and cause havoc. It has surfaced, it will be dealt with and kicked back into touch. I might be able to sort it out, I might not and will need help.

Depression is a strange bedfellow but it is my bedfellow.

Friday 15 November 2019

Sunday 10 November 2019

Layered Cashew Nut and Mushroom Loaf

The recipe for this can be found here.

I must admit, her version photographed much better than mine. We enjoyed it but I didn't enjoy it as much as usual. There is enough here for 6 - 8 people. We had two slices each and used between 1/3rd and 1/2 of it.

Here it is after resting for 10 minutes from the oven:
Served with a few vegetables. We had stewed apple and cream later in the evening. A bit brown looking but everything from this era of recipe books, seems to look dark.

Saturday 9 November 2019

Busier than usual....

Saturday chores are usually to change bed and wash the bedding. Both those done. I have also belated harvested my last few beetroot. A few carrots remain so their tops have been covered to help protect again frost.

A loaf of bread is on the go and later today, DB mainly, with a little help from me is making a mushroom, parsnip and cashew nut loaf. I fancied something savoury for a change.

We also nipped into town to get more pants and jim jam bottoms for me and a few other things. We were home by 10 am, just as it was getting busy.

Thursday 7 November 2019

It’s a good job

I have 4 grand-dogs, I can call on their owners for advice.

Ruby started shivering about an hour after her walk, despite having a coat on after being towelled down. She kept running from room to room, kicking out one back leg as soon as she settled down. After conversing with DS, several times, he concluded it was either cramp or muscle spasm.  An hour later, she is asleep, almost shiver free and seems better, phew!


Wednesday 6 November 2019

Two little needlepoints

These were 2 for £3 yesterday at Hobbycraft, there were a few to chose from:
Whilst designed to be put into a card, we hope to make them into tree decorations. They won't get done in time for this Christmas but hey ho! Aren't they cute?

Tuesday 5 November 2019

The wallet is a few pounds lighter....

Frozen meat for Ruby, a bigger washable rug for the back door, 4 Christmas decorations. Thick evening socks for me, a calendar, flat cap for DB, a few things from Hobbycraft, more DB than me, and a not so nice lunch. Finally, two little cross stitch decorations to be stitched.

Pays not to go to the metropolis very often!

Monday 4 November 2019


We have just found 15 tubes of thawed tubes of meat for Ruby that we bought on Friday:(

We always put them into our freezer box and bring it into the kitchen once home. For some reason we completely forgot and DB found them this morning. He lifted said box out to empty the car for a servicing and by the weight realised they were still in there.

If we had found them on Saturday, probably could have saved them or at least have cooked them. Ah well, just one of those things. We shall have to get some more this week. Gives us an excuse to travel to the city and visit hobbycraft as he wants some more of the frames he was using.

Congrats to Andy and Kim Murray on the birth of their baby boy last week.

Thursday 31 October 2019

Another lovely day

Sun is shining, sky is blue, but a chilly wind is blowing.

So far today I have cut DB’s hair, hung out washing, prepared the shopping list and got the bread machine on.

As all my Christmas cards are done, I hope to get two birthday cards made and that will be it for now. Next task is to try my hand at some appliqué for a gift. Wish me luck, it is not my forte but is something I have always wanted to tackle.

Have a lovely weekend.

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Pumpkin Tart

Pudding Mixture

13oz cooked, drained and mashed pumpkin
or 1 tin from world food aisles without spice in it.
6oz*/ 8oz white sugar
4oz sultanas - optional
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1oz ground almonds
2 eggs
1 tablespoon sweet sherry - optional
Juice and zest of two lemons (the 8oz sugar)
or juice and zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange (6oz sugar*).

Mix everything together in a bowl.


8oz Plain or All purpose flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt - mix together. Rub in 5oz margerine, add 1 tsp lemon juice - optional plus an egg yolk.

Roll out and line a flan tin/or one victoria sandwich tin. 

If using without pastry, lightly butter a pudding dish, pour in.

Either way, bake between 35 and 45 minutes at 190C until pudding is just set.

Before it went in the oven:
When it came out:
It should have been slightly more coloured than this but I misread my own instructions and tried to cook it at 160C, it took an hour!

This is like a suped up egg custard type pudding, lightly fragrant and full of autumnal flavours. There is a recipe on the can of pumpkin but for us, its way too sweet. This is just right.

Monday 28 October 2019

Stretching my chicken...

On saturday I pressure cooked a whole chicken for 20 minutes and allowed it to depressure naturally. It only had water in with it as I wanted to use some of the stock for Ruby. Once cold, all the meat was removed from the bones and the carcass discarded. I didn't want to use them for soup as it was disintegrating and anyway, all the goodness from the bones was now in the stock. The stock was sieved to remove fragments of bones.

We had some of the meat as a normal roast dinner and some was put aside for soup. The rest was cut up and divided into 5 containers, 100g each plus a few frozen peas and sweetcorn:
I put two saucepans on the cooker top and added a chopped onion to each one. It was fried until softened. A can of tomatoes was then added to each along with a can of water. One saucepan then had a tablespoon of curry paste added:
The other pan was had a stock cube and herbs added:
After 20 minutes of simmering to finish cooking the onion, tomato puree and oatbran was added to both to help thicken them and seasoning adjusted. Both pans were left to go cold before being spooned over the meat, peas and sweetcorn:
We ended up with three chicken madras curries and two chicken pasta sauces:
Note my new labelling method of masking tape. Its easy to write on and removes when needed without leaving a sticky residue.

So then, 5 frozen meals, 1 roast dinner and soup, not too bad at all for £3.99.

Sunday 27 October 2019

More presents made

I have been busy in the kitchen this morning making marmalade. I managed to get 3 jars of orange with King's Ginger liquor added:
And three jars with Brandy:
Three or four of these are designated as hand over gifts rather than postal. The rest will be for us during the next few months.

They just need some nice labels and material topping then they will be good to go!

Saturday 26 October 2019

It was so windy last night....

That it blew my mini greenhouse over despite it having bricks in the bottom. It is also against the house wall so shouldn't have fallen over really:
Too wet to see if it is damaged. In the front garden this morning, was this lonely and rather small oriental poppy, bet it wished it hadn't bothered:
We support Sue Ryder with our household donations and this morning received a letter to say they had sold them and raised just about £100. Good to know.

Friday 25 October 2019

Finally, some Christmas preparation...

There is no getting away from it, if you want to experience home made Christmas food, you have to get on with it. I have been busy making, for presents as well as ourselves, some piccalilli, Indian Chutney, jam and today, DB and I have done the preparation stage of mincemeat. It smells heavenly:
It now has to soak overnight before being put in a low oven tomorrow to melt the suet. Then after stirring the melted fat in until it has all been absorbed, brandy is added and it is put into jars to mature for 6 weeks before use. Phew, just done it in time:)

I can't stand the bought stuff, way too sweet for us both. I used to make a cake and pudding but now there are only the two of us half the time, don't bother. DB will buy himself a small pudding and I will usually make a semi fruit cake of some sort plus sponge puddings.

Monday 21 October 2019


I forgot to take a picture but we had a lovely home cooked meal yesterday. I did us an oven baked peppered pork fillet. We had Swedish meatball sauce with it, chips, peas for DB and cauliflower for me.

DB then had his first attempt at a pear (home grown) tarte tatin, see below:
Very nice it is too! He had a little trouble with making the caramel sauce but got there in the end. This is a Jamie Oliver recipe, with ginger and cinnamon which gave a lovely hint of flavour and warmth to it.

Sunday 20 October 2019

Well done Andy

Who has just won his first singles ATP title in Antwerp, Belgium, since his hip operation. Plus the doubles title he won this year, not too shabby for his comeback. He now stands at a world ranking of 122. He does hold his protected world ranking of 2 for a while longer though. He fought hard against Stan Wawrinka, the third set in particular was break after break.

Well one young man.

Saturday 19 October 2019

Boring bloody Brexit

It’s become clear now the only real reason labour is voting against everything, is because they want a general election which they believe they can win. Almost the same reason for the Lib Dem’s.

All these marchers demanding a final say. We had a say, we voted out and still the bloody MP’s can’t or won’t get on with it.

So if we have another vote and that is to stay in, what then, another vote for best of 3! What if your party doesn’t win a general election, demand another? What is the point of a democratic process if we keep arguing about the result? That is how military dictatorships are born for heavens sake.

How many MP’s are actually voting as a result of what their boroughs said in the Brexit vote, hardly any by the sound of things. Just doing their own thing and being bloody minded into the bargain.

I am sick of the whole thing, sick of our shambles of a parliament, sick of the delay, and will be sick of the years to come, when everyone plays the blame game.

Friday 18 October 2019

Flu Jab

I still have to pay for mine but it is worth it. Didn’t feel a thing. No side effects apart from a slightly stiff arm this morning.

Whilst at the chemist, I also picked up a bottle of Sylk to try. For me, a little uncomfortable when initially applied but after that, so far so good.

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Post menopause

Thanks for the shoutout re joint pain. My bones ache occasionally and I do have OA in my hands which flare up occasionally. My shoulders ache but kill me in bed, now I know why!

I haven't covered everything mentioned on my first post as there is plenty of help online. I hope though that you might have learned something new. If you have any other information or helpful tips, please chime in.

The post menopause stage of life is different again. Okay, your periods have ceased - hooray - you can't get pregant, sod it/hooray depending on your point of view. Hot flushes have stopped - yay!

Your breasts may changes shape, shrink, hang lower - doesn't everything! Time to get fitted for new bras.

Fat distribution around the body changes. It often moves away from the hips and thighs and onto the waist. Probably where the term 'middle aged spread' came from. Adjust your diet, exercise more and generally look after yourself to keep your weight down.

Going to the toilet for a wee can change. You may feel as though you are weeing round a bend, or have trouble starting and stopping. You may feel you need to go more often and now. You may wake in the night to go thereby further reducing your sleep.

Coughing, sneezing or laughing can lead to leaking. If you have examined yourself throughout your life, you will notice things have slipped a bit lower. Another thing the gynaecologist told me about fat redistribution and loss of collagen was this.  Everything used to be plump, now its not. The underlying support structure of everything has reduced leading to several postmenopausal problems. When you used to wee, it just came straight out, now it comes from ever so slighly inside you and at a different angle. - see here for most things.

Bone density will change. Again, HRT can help with this but a good exercise routine, including yoga and walking, plus possibly increasing your intake of calcium rich foods would also help if you want to help yourself without HRT. Its up to you.

Your blood pressure may rise, mine certainly has. My blood pressure has always been low, around the 100/70 mark. Now it often rests at 125/80 or 130/90.

Your skin will probably become more dry. Reducing the use of soap and bath products will help, as will increasing the use of moisturisers.

Apart from everything slowly heading south, the biggest thing for a lot of women is hair loss and hair growth where you don't want it. I have spent two years getting rid of thick, dark hairs on my top lip and around my chin. Some of the little blighters come back, weaker than before. I get them zapped again and for the most part, seem to have won this battle.

Hair thinning and hair loss is a royal pain. I have tried various hair products, all to no avail. I have tried eating better, massaging, vitamins, all to no avail. I stopped dyeing my hair and allowed myself to go grey. Yes, I do look older but my hair, though thinner, is in a lot better condition. This is an ongoing battle. I may not win it and if it all becomes too much, might just think about shaving my head and going bald!

So there you go. Taboo broken or at least I hope broken into. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Menopausal vaginal dryness

I had heard from a friend about vaginal dryness and assumed it only affected having sex. KY jelly is often recommended,  but doesn’t offer real long term relief. A discussion about this stage of things needs to be had with your partner and some form of compromise reached. If in the end, it all gets too much, stop having sex. Your partner will just have to accept it, if not, hey ho! Another problem to address.

Vaginal dryness though can cause other problems. It is quite common to feel as though you are walking around wearing a sandpaper panty pad! There is no other way to describe this particular form of being uncomfortable. If you don't believe me, put some in your pants. There, now you understand!

There are two ways that I know of, and have used to alleviate this. One is non-hormonal treatment, the other hormonal. One of many now available non-hormonal treatments is Vagisan. You will need to wear a panty pad for the next day or two after use. Of course, until it takes effect, wearing a panty pad can cause further irritation.

Topical hormonal treatment often takes the form of a tiny tablet inside a thin tube, to deposit it near the neck of the womb. It used to be cream and that was really messy! Again, you need to read and decide if you want to go down this route. I have tried both non-hormonal and hormonal treatments and both work.

Non-hormonal is a little more messy but offers good relief. Hormonal less messy (still need a pad for the next day) but seems to work for longer inbetween use. Initially hormonal treatment is very frequent to alleviate the dryness. Treatment reduces after that to offer a maintenance level. Being hormonal, I do of course worry about the cancer side of things, so please keep up with your cancer smears.

Talking about cancer smear tests, another pain, literally is the insertion of the speculum. Wow, childbirth was almost easier. Up until the menopause, these tests were mildly uncomfortable, but they became unbearable. I felt like I was being ripped in two. It was recommended I up my topical hormone treatment to help, nope, did sod all.

Eventually I was referred to a gynaecologist for another problem. He informed me that there were different sized speculums and a full size one should never be used on a menopausal or post menopausal women, it is too big. You need to ask for one designed for a young teenager. They are more narrow and can be inserted without too much pain. Bet you didn't know that, no, neither did I. So bloody annoying. See here:Speculum sizes

He also recommended to stop wearing tight fitting jeans, go without pants when at home and wear a skirt or loose pyjama type bottoms and most importantly  STOP washing down below with any form of soap! This was the first thing I tried and it made an almost instant reduction in irritation. I now use an aqueous cream or you can use an emulsifying ointment.

Final bit tomorrow, fat redistribution, blood pressure changes, hair thinning/loss, dry skin etc. Gee, aren’t we lucky!

Monday 14 October 2019

Menopausal problems

Everyone's experience of the menopause is different. It rarely gets talked about, heaven knows why. So many women suffer in silence, either being too embarrassed to discuss it, put up with it, or just try to ignore it as a 'normal' part of growing old!

Whether you are in the peri-menopause, menopause or post menopausal stages, some problems may be happening to your body that you don't know what to do about. Some common symptoms are these:
  • Mood swings
  • Lower sex drive
  • Hot flushes
  • Sweating
  • Racing heart
  • Headaches
  • Vaginal dryness and soreness
  • Painful sex
  • Painful internal examinations
  • Trouble sleeping
If you have low estrogen levels anyhow, irregular periods can be a normal occurence. That makes it difficult to realise they are happening less frequently. I  had this problem and because of this, didn't suffer too many hot flushes. In that respect, I was one of the lucky ones.

However, even when I felt I had missed a period, I still got the usual period symptoms of irritability, clumsiness etc. I think I probably didn't realise or even notice I going through the perimenopausal stage.

You can of course ease some symptoms if they are really bad, such as hot flushes and night sweats by the use of HRT. I did try that but it made me worry even more about cancer.

Sleeplessness became a major problem for me and still is. Doctors generally don't like to prescribe pills to help you sleep. Eventually Nytol (in the blue NOT green box) came on the market and that helped enormously. I only take a 1/4 of the dose (easier to do this with the two a night version as it equates to just half a tablet). I never realised why they don't recommend it for long term use. A recent medical research paper pointed out, in a small scale study, that it can cause weird deposits in the brain. When they talk about long term use in this paper, they refer to people who have been taking it for years. A liquid form is just about to come on the market, caramel flavoured!

Sometimes, I sit up and read with a drink. My choice is Baileys with a little brandy added. I have half an eggcupful only. Just enough to take effect. Alcohol for some people doesn't help as it keeps them awake, it works for me.

More discussions tomorrow on vaginal dryness!

Friday 11 October 2019

Homemade dog biscuits

I have made these before and wanted to store them in a jar for a month. Once baked, they were dehydrated to harden them off. Unfortunately, I decided to adapt the recipe this time and in doing so, forgot to add yeast, to help them rise.

Hopefully Ruby will be able to crunch her way through them. She has a slightly reduced breakfast and tea so she can have a daytime snack. I am hoping one of these will take the edge off her hunger, providing they come out alright. If not, they will be chopped down a little and used as occasional treats.

Herewith before baking:
And afterwards:
I used half of Rhonda Hetzel's dog biscuit recipe, substituting a cup of stock this time for a dessertspoon of natural peanut butter dissolved in hot water and left to go cold. I think they are fine without the yeast as she has enough of that anyway as her tick treatment.

Needless to say, she had one plus a thin piece of dried tripe for her midday snack and woofed both down.

Next week, I am writing posts on the menopause stages, from my perspective and also what I have learned through the years. Hopefully you can offer further advice for what has worked for you.

Craft shopping

On Monday we visited Hobbycraft. I perused the shelves for extra things I needed then went off to find DB who was window shopping. I looked down into my basket and saw a book in it. "Have you bought a book", I asked him, "No" he replied. Further investigation revealed it wasn't my basket, it was full of quilting and sewing stuff.

We both walked around the store and only came across two other ladies with baskets, no, neither of them had my basket or had indeed lost theirs.

We walked to the tills to check if anyone had brought the wrong basket to the till. I checked with a shop assistant on the shop floor, no, she hadn't been asked about a basket either. How weird.

Anyhow, the annoying thing was, I couldn't remember fully what I had put in it. Thoroughly cheesed off by now, we started again. It was obvious my basket had been found and its contents put back on the shelves. How do I know?

Well, I bought a tub of 30 mini ink pads, leaving only two tubs behind, there were now three!

Herewith the mini ink pads:
They cost £13 for the 30 and are quick drying pigment inks. I have tested them out and the colours are lovely. Quite a few on the purple side of things but they will all serve me well for such cheap little pads. The red in particular is a lovely deep shade and I may well in future, if required, buy a full size one.

I also bought some 12" x 12" white cardstock, a rounded corner hole puncher and a small tub of copper embossing powder.

Thursday 10 October 2019

Nectarine Powder

I read somewhere on the internet, that if you dry fruit skins then process them to a fine powder, it tastes lovely and is a beautiful addition to sponges and puddings etc. We shall see.

Herewith the peeled skins of my 4 nectarines from jam making, on 1 1/2 trays of my dehydrator:
And after they are dry:

Once processed into a fine powder, they yielded about 2 tablespoons. Too much work for such a small amount. However, it does have a great taste of nectarines. I will make some individual steamed pudding with the powder, soon rather than later, just to make sure the powder doesn't stick together.

Wednesday 9 October 2019

Nectarine and raspberry jam

I had hoped to make 'flat' peach and raspberry jam but couldn't find any of those strange flat peaches. Anyhow, 4 nectarines were substituted. They were a bit on the firm side so I peeled them and chavelled them to a pulp in my food processor. The raspberries were also chavelled up and put through a sieve to remove their pips.

I ended up with 465g of fruit, to which I added 405g sugar and 50g water. I use a rough ratio of weight of fruit, 85% of that weight as sugar and roughly10% of the fruit weight as water. It sets well for most jams but cuts down on the sweetness a little. Extra lemon juice is added to any jam if it doesn't seem to be quite setting correctly.

The flecks you can see in the finished jam are teeny pieces of nectarine:

Tuesday 8 October 2019

Chilli non carne

I know a lot of people like the taste of mushrooms but not the 'slimy' texture of them. This chilli was made using mushrooms and a few 'steak' Quorn strips. We could hardly tell the difference between this and a meat based chilli.

The mushrooms were chavelled up in my food processor and dry fried until all the juice has disappeared. After that it was a normal chilli recipe:
I didn't have any kidney beans so used chickpeas instead. It tasted lovely on the first night but even better on the second.

Sunday 6 October 2019

Shaped cards

Over the past week or so, I have been using orange card and paper scraps to have a go at shaped cards. Whilst most have gone into my 'technique' book, I took these two to completion, even though I didn't have everything I needed to make them suitable for sending out.

The first is a Star Effect card:
I didn't quite make the front bit wide enough as it should stick out from the side slots more.

This second card is a pyramid card. In a smaller version, it would make lovely place cards for a special meal:
I didn't have anything suitable to help keep it shut. The wooden snowflake allows for a little too much sliding to occur.

Both these cards can be posted flat by taking the front off the star card and unfolding the pyramid card.

Saturday 5 October 2019

Phew and almost yum!

We have just shifted of a cubic metre of logs. About 1/3rd are too thick and heavy, so they were moved into the garage ready to be halved by the log splitter. The rest I loaded, bit by bit into a wheelie bin, before trundling them around to DB for him to put in our log stores.

We had a break for tea before splitting and stacking the last lot:(

A couple of days ago, I used a fruit loaf recipe from the cooking book for the bread maker. This is how it turned out:
I added the dried fruit by mistake at the beginning but it was light and fluffy. Being 100% wholemeal, it was a lovely consistency but next time, we will try half that and half white. Also, the dried fruit was leftover from last Christmas so fresh would be nicer still. You could taste the fruit was old.

Overall though, a success we shall adjust and repeat.

Friday 4 October 2019

On average....

The amount of pension I should have received would have, on average, been £35,880 over the 6 years I am not receiving it. Some are having to wait 7 years, other less. However if you just take my figure as an average, times the estimated 4.5 million women it affects, the government has stolen about £154,440,000,000 from us. It’s no wonder they didn’t want to lose the court case.

To find out, in law, and the judicial review, that they didn’t need to inform us of the changes, but claim to have done so, just makes it worse.

MP’s galore say they are with us, but are they really. Boris said he would sort it out but now he is PM, bet he won’t.

In this country, men have traditionally received their pension at 65 and women at 60. The changes began in 2014 to bring women up to 65. They should have been spread over 6 years but were accelerated in 2016 to finish two years early in 2018. I should have received my pension just as the changes began , as well as a free bus pass.

I still need to pay 5 more years of EXTRA contributions on top of the full amount I had already paid, just to give me my full pension when I eventually get it. We can afford to do that by being careful with spending, others can’t. The extra payments by doing so, will give me £80 extra a month, that is a lot. I need to receive 5 years of pension for my savings payments to pay myself back if you see what I mean.

It is all a gamble as no one knows how long they will live.

Thursday 3 October 2019

How utterly disappointing....

The High Court has ruled against the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) action. It is bad enough having to wait an extra 6 years to receive my state pension (and associated free bus travel) but I also have to contribute an extra 5 years worth of stamp payments (about £800 per year) in order to receive the full pension when I do get it.

I previously had the full 30 years of stamps paid, it has since been raised to 35 years. DB didn't have to pay any stamp contributions from 60 to 65!!!

That means not only have I missed out on state pension for 6 years (averaging £135 per week), I also have to give up £4,500 of my savings to get myself the full pension!

An absolute disgrace.

I bet all the fat cat lawyers and judges making that decision have squirreled away a huge amount towards their pensions already due to their enormous salaries. They should be ashamed of themselves.

I have worked all my life apart for 4 years when DS was little. Those contributions were paid for on my behalf by the government as that is what happens here in the UK. I worked happily paying my stamp and other taxes, in the firm belief I would be paid my pension at 60.

Tuesday 1 October 2019

A working book

I feel like I have stepped back into my Fine Art university course!

I decided to keep a work book to store my pratice pieces and 'how to make' instructions:

Before I stuck these cards into it, thought I would take a picture for you. On the left is a double Z card, on the right a single Z card:

I have checked our Christmas card list and have just about enough homemade cards to fulfil the general list. Now I shall make some more detailed ones for family and close friends.