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.