Friday, 30 November 2018

Last day - thank goodness

Although we've had some nice food this week, I won't be sorry to come to the end of this first short term diet.  I'm so looking forward to my cappuccino and some cheese on toast tomorrow!  I think the cappuccino, cheese and dairy have been the hardest things to leave out, for me.  Husband has missed his nuts, seeds and raisins that he snacks on between meals, and thought the meals didn't really fill him up the time each meal is ready, he's starving.  Oh, and he's just said he really fancies a chip butty tomorrow (which is odd, as it's not something we have normally!).

Today's food:-

Breakfast - 2 soft boiled eggs with 1 slice dry toast

Lunch - Chicken salad

Dinner - Salmon baked in foil parcel with spinach, roasted Brussels, tinned chopped tomatoes and mushrooms.

The howling gale yesterday had more or less disappeared by 10 am - blue sky and a bit of sunshine appearing.  It was still windy and there was a further bit of rain early afternoon, but nothing near as bad as the early morning.  We got off pretty lightly - loads of stuff blown around in the garden (including the dustbin, which was half full, and the recycling bins), a fairly heavy wood companion seat  was blown over and a few tiles dislodged on the utility room roof, the polytunnel door got bent.  Other than that though, no real damage done. Today is going to be much nicer, so we're going to our favourite little town, Wells, this morning.  It's been ages since we had a browse round there.

Can't wait to see what the scales say tomorrow morning.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Day 4 - and awful weather

Thanks for comments again, and welcome to a couple of new followers (or old ones that have found me) - Julie Caisey and Susan Zarzycki.  

The headachey sort of bleurgh feelings have gone, so our systems must be coping better with what we're eating now - or rather, what we're leaving out.  We're really enjoying the meals, although we're both looking forward to the weekend and normal eating.  I'm also very keen to know how much weight we've lost - I shall be hugely disappointed if we haven't lost any, but am sure we will have.

So, today's food:-

Breakfast - Scrambled eggs and tinned tomatoes for me, dry fried fresh toms for husband.  Betty has scrambled egg too whenever we have it, she loves it.

Lunch - Chicken leg and salad again.

Dinner - Lamb leg steak roasted with roasted Brussels, green beans and Hispi  cabbage.  A plum or 2 for husband for afters.

Enough of diet food, let's talk about non diet stuff!  The weather has been pretty grim all week, with a lot of rain and wind, but through the night and this morning it's been truly awful, REALLY strong wind and rain, a proper howling gale out there.  Must have been bothering Betty too, as she got out of bed immediately I came downstairs - she doesn't usually, she's a proper teenager and likes a lie in.  A big gust of wind throwing something around in the garden had her rushing to the door and barking - I knew she wouldn't want to actually go out (she doesn't like bad weather either!), but opened the door just to show her there was nobody out there trying to break in.  The wind nearly smashed the door in my face, good job I was holding onto the handle firmly - Betty turned tail and ran away!  Some guard dog she is, it did make me laugh.

Thankfully, the forecast for tomorrow is much better, as we're going a bit stir crazy.  Definitely not going out today, other than dog walking when the wind has died down a bit, as it's meant to do soon apparently.

I'm going to make a big batch of pastry today and portion it up for the freezer, also some pizza dough.  Not sure though whether to freeze the pizza dough as is, or make up the bases then part cook and freeze them.  Will have a google and see what's best.**

Please take care if you're out and about today and have this awful weather.

**Edit - seems it's best if you let the pizza dough rise and then knock it back before freezing uncooked, just portion it up, wrap well and freeze for up to 3 months.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Diet Day 3 and some observations

Thank you for comments - Wherethejourneytakesme, thanks especially for your informative and helpful comments regarding calcium sources.

I'm sorry if anyone finds these diet food posts boring - it's a useful record for me of what we've eaten, as we intend to repeat this diet every few weeks for 5 days or so at a time.  Long term diets are just not sustainable for me, I get bored and can't be bothered to maintain them, I rebel against the restrictions.  Interestingly, though, I'm not having a problem with this one simply because I know it's very short term.  Well, I say I'm not having a problem....after some discussion, we've decided to make this 5 days instead of 7, we are both really missing some things - eg, coffee and tea with semi skimmed milk (a tiny splash of skimmed just doesn't taste the same).  I'm really craving cheese, husband misses his mixed nuts, seeds and raisins he has a handful of as a snack between meals.  We've not been tempted to stray and indulge in the forbidden, but might if it went on for 7 days, so the decision has been made to go back to normal eating on Saturday.  That doesn't mean we're going to go mad and eat tons of the forbidden stuff though.  I do love my frothy cappuccino I have 2 or sometimes 3 of a day, so it will just be nice to have one of those Saturday morning with a couple of slices of cheese on toast.

Today's food:-

Breakfast - 1 slice dry toast with 2 poached eggs

Lunch - A roasted chicken leg with salad

Dinner - Cod baked in a foil parcel with lemon and herbs, roasted Brussels and courgettes, sprouting broccoli.

One thing we've found - not having butter (well, we have Bertolli olive spread) on toast when the toast is topped with tomatoes, eggs etc, is absolutely fine, we don't miss the spread at all, so will continue that even when not on the diet.  

The fresh fruit salad we had for breakfast yesterday - husband loved it, I quite liked it except that it was far too sweet for me, since I've been diabetic and cut out all sugary things, I really don't have a sweet tooth anymore.  Just the berries would have been ok, the plums and mango were definitely too sweet and made my tongue all tingly - a diabetic reaction I get from too much sugar.  I'll know in future.  

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Day 2 and a fuzzy head

Thanks for the comments....Day 1 of the diet went surprisingly well, we enjoyed the food and didn't feel like we were missing out on anything, and certainly not starving.  The only thing I've noticed is that through the night and this morning I have brain fog, blocked sinuses and feel very headachey - possibly some withdrawal symptoms.  If so, it'll go soon.  I am prone to sinus trouble anyhow.

I'm finding it useful to involve husband in the meal preparations - he's interested and enthusiastic and thus more likely to stick to the diet.  Plus I get help with things like chopping veggies and can delegate some prep to him, win win!

With our roast chicken leg last night, I sliced and roasted half a cauliflower, sprinkled with a little paprika and sage.  It was blooming delicious, don't think I'll ever have plain boiled cauli ever again.  The 'gravy' made from the juice from the tin of tomatoes I had for breakfast, with some water, a chicken stock cube and some herbs added, then boiled and simmered until reduced and thickened a bit, was lovely.  Plenty of flavour and no carbs from added cornflour or gravy granules.

Today's food:-

Breakfast - Fresh fruit salad....homegrown strawberries and blueberries from the freezer, with chopped plums and a mango.

Lunch - Homemade chicken soup made with some frozen cooked chicken and stock, and fresh veggies - the other half of the cauli, a large leek from the garden, one carrot and some mushrooms.  As I'm not using anything to thicken the stock, I'll blitz the cauli and carrot into rice - they'll absorb liquid and give the appearance of thickening the soup.

Dinner - Some minute steak, cut into ribbons and flash fried with a spray of oil from a spray dispenser just so it doesn't stick, with a splash of red wine vinegar.  Served on a bed of spinach, tinned chopped tomatoes and mushrooms, with broccoli on the side.

My anxiety levels are a bit high at the moment, for whatever reason, I'm having to take more of the anxiety meds to control it.  I have been taking just 1 tab a day (I can take up to 3), but have increased it to 2.  Hopefully that will help.  Am still weeing for England now I'm taking the additional diabetes med, that must be helping me to lose weight!  And it means I get extra exercise running up and down stairs to the loo all the time....(well, not running, more like a faster climb than usual!).  It's a pity the previous tenant ripped out the downstairs cloakroom and turned it into a coal shed (Grrr.  I assume he must have got permission from the landlord, although I can't think why they thought it was a good idea!!).

Monday, 26 November 2018

Starting a new, short term diet

Thank you for the well wishes, we are both feeling much better now.  

I bought a new winter coat for a very good price online, however, when it arrived and I tried it on, I was disappointed to find I can't do it up.  I knew I'd put on weight over the past few weeks (and my weigh in along with the diabetes review confirmed it), but not being able to do up a coat in the size that fitted me before really brought it home to me.  With my new determined attitude though, I'm viewing it positively - I really like the coat (husband does too) so am keeping it....I'll just have to slim into it won't I?!

Since my diabetes review with the head nurse (I won't call her Nurse Huffy anymore as she really wasn't), I've been thinking about how to lose the extra weight, but without actually doing anything about it.  Well, once again Sue of A Challenging Year blog has come up trumps - she and her Lovely Hubby have just started a 7 day diet.  It's 7 days only because it's very drastic - it's a diet that was originally developed to enable people who need an operation to lose a lot of weight very quickly before the op, it's not meant to be followed indefinitely.  It's called The Chemical Diet - apparently it works by producing a chemical reaction between certain foods which enables the body to drop a lot of weight very quickly - I don't pretend to understand (or even believe!) that, but it's obvious that if you stick to the diet you WILL lose a fair bit of weight, simply because it's clearly quite low in calories and cuts out most carbs and fats.  

Husband and I (he wants to lose about another stone) are keen to give it a go - the idea of doing a diet, even a drastic one, for just one week at a time is very appealing....if we lose even as much as half a stone (the diet claims to result in a loss of a whole stone, 14 pounds) that'll be a huge incentive and boost.  We can't do the diet as given, though, mainly because it contains a lot of grapefruit which neither of us can eat - husband isn't allowed it because of the statins he's on, I have a citrus allergy.  So, using the general idea of the diet, I sat and planned a week's diet, personalised for us.  We'll still only do it for 7 days, it wouldn't be sustainable for longer - we'd get bored, we'd start craving foods we weren't allowed, and as it cuts down drastically on certain food groups (dairy for one), it wouldn't deliver all essential nutrients for good health for a sustained period of time.

(Going off on a tangent for a moment, on the subject of dairy, how do vegetarians/vegans get enough calcium in their diet if they don't eat dairy?  Having never looked into it before, I really don't know, perhaps one of you can enlighten me).

So we're starting today.  We're allowing ourselves tea and coffee, preferably black, but with just a splash of skimmed milk if we really can't face black - better that than either refusing to drink it and having no hot drink option, or giving up at the first hurdle.  Lots of water (which I drink anyhow, although husband doesn't).  Absolutely no oil or spread or sauces of any kind, food to be flavoured with herbs and spices and moistened with a little vegetable stock if necessary.  No eating between meals (not that we do much of that).  

So here's what we're having today:-

Breakfast - 1 slice dry toast topped with grilled fresh tomatoes for husband, tinned toms for me (I don't like grilled fresh ones).  I'll keep the juice to use later.

Lunch - Tinned salmon on a bed of salad - lettuce, tomato, cucumber, sliced red pepper, sliced gherkins, watercress.  Dressed with a squirt of lemon juice and/or vinegar, mixed with the juices from the salmon tin.  I can take a tiny bit of citrus juice without it affecting me too much, I couldn't eat a whole fruit though or drink a glass of juice.

Dinner - Roast chicken leg with roasted cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli.  I'll mix the saved tomato juice with a splash of the green veg cooking water and use that as a sort of gravy, I'll add some herbs/spices and boil to thicken and concentrate it (no gravy granules or cornflour allowed to thicken it).

I'll make sure husband has plenty of veggies at lunch and dinner, he's a big eater and likes a good plateful.

I did wake up in the early hours and lie there wondering if we could do this....but it's only for 7 days and I do have the lovely new coat as motivation!  If it works out alright, we're thinking we'll do a 5 day version of it every 2 or 3 weeks.  Also, it'll be lovely to go back to the diabetes nurse for my review in 3 months time and show her I'm a stone or two lighter.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Steam rollered

Having gone back to bed this morning, I now don't feel too bad, just a bit like I've been run over by a steam roller. Husband is feeling much better so this virus, or whatever it is, is clearly a short-lived one, thank goodness.  

I did some baking this afternoon - well, I'd got pastry out of the freezer yesterday in order to make a few things for our (now postponed) dominoes night with our friends, so I needed to use it.  I'd also defrosted some sausages, intending to make sausage rolls - couldn't be arsed to do anything fiddly though, so made a large sausage tart.  I made up a small pack of sage & onion stuffing and mixed the skinned sausages in, along with a few squirts of tomato puree and some grated cheese.  Spread the base of the pastry with cranberry sauce then put the sausage mix on top.  

There was a bit of pastry left over, so I made a dozen mince pies with some of my homemade mincemeat.  

I also baked a trayful of jacket spuds whilst the oven was on, we'll have one with the tart, the others will be frozen individually wrapped.  Worn out now.

Thank you for comments on the last couple of posts.  Annabeth, I can't be bothered to ask the blog administrator to get rid of the post that had my blog link published in it - what's done is done.  But good point, I hadn't even considered the GDPR regulations - I just thought she had a cheek publishing the link without my permission (she didn't even ask).

The thermal face masks (2, so he's got one to wear whilst the other is being washed) came today, very speedy service.  He likes them, although they make him look like a mugger!  Good job we live in a tiny hamlet and everyone knows him, even with the mask on he'll be recognisable because of Betty, teehee.

The dreaded lurgy

Looks like both of us have got some kind of mild flu-like virus.  Husband went back to bed after breakfast yesterday, got up for lunch but didn't feel like eating it, then went to bed again.  We didn't eat much for dinner as neither of us felt like it, then had an early night.

I've been up since 03.30 with generalised aching and a thumping headache, the same symptoms husband had yesterday, am about to go to bed again.  We're supposed to be having friends round for our dominoes and pizza night, but will put it off till next week instead.

Oh, the new diabetes med is certainly making me wee....must have gone about a dozen times yesterday.  At this rate I'll be slim in no time!  (as if!).

Friday, 23 November 2018

Bit worrying

We both had a bit of a scare yesterday.  Husband goes out with a neighbour and his dog, Betty's 'frenemy' (they alternate between playing together happily and snarling at each other, although don't do any harm to one another) for dog walking each afternoon, they're out for about an hour.  Well, yesterday he was back within half an hour and didn't look very well at all - he was extremely breathless, noticeably so, and said he didn't feel well.  I first ascertained whether he had any chest pain (he didn't), then sat him down in an armchair, gave him a blanket, turned the heating up and made him a hot drink.  The breathlessness eventually wore off, but he still didn't feel well.  I asked for advice on the Pumping Marvellous (the heart failure charity) Facebook group, and quickly got several replies.  The general consensus of opinion was that HF patients don't do well in cold weather (it was freezing yesterday), especially if they're breathing in cold air.  The advice was to make sure they're wrapped up warmly if they go out, wearing several layers and keeping all extremities covered up.  People also suggested wearing a thermal face mask (like a ski or motorcycling mask) or a scarf wrapped round the mouth and nose, so they're not breathing the cold air in directly.  And speak to GP if worried.

I was reassured by the knowledge that it's a common reaction to the very cold weather....that charity FB page is so brilliant, I've had lots of helpful stuff from them - as they're all heart failure patients themselves, they know exactly what they're talking about.  Another friend also sent me a link to a thermal face mask, I've ordered 2 and they'll be here Monday or Tuesday.

Husband slept like a baby last night....I on the other hand had a terrible night, kept waking up every half hour or so, checking he was still alive!  This morning he says he still doesn't feel well, although the breathlessness has gone, and he's gone back to bed....from what he's described, I think he's coming down with a virus or something.  Whatever it is, it can't be too bad as he ate all his dinner last night and made himself porridge for breakfast!

When I started up this new blog, for various reasons I tried to make it 'Private, for invited readers only'.  Blogger wasn't having it though for some reason (probably my error!), I kept getting emails from invited readers saying they were denied access to the new blog.  So I reluctantly set it to public.  I was advised yesterday that someone has published a link to my blog on a forum we both belonged to.  What a blooming cheek!  Nothing I can do about it, what's done is done.  Hey ho.  I can't stop people reading my blog, unless I have another go at making it private - which frankly I just can't be bothered with again - but won't let it bother me or stop me from writing what I want.  And I will exercise my right not to publish comments if I don't want to.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Jack's 4 ingredient Christmas cake

Thank you for comments.  Have just picked up new tablets, they didn't have them in yesterday, I'm not going to start taking them until tomorrow first thing.  As they will make me wee more, it makes sense to take them early morning - I don't want to be getting up at night any more than I do already!  I'm making an effort to drink more water today, to get into the habit of doing it.

I made Jack Monroe's cake, exactly to her recipe and instructions....I did add the extra 5th ingredient of 2 tbsp. marmalade.  Dead simple to make, one of the easiest cakes I've ever made.  It cooked well, taking slightly longer than the 50 mins she specified - my oven isn't overly hot though, so that's probably why.  It also didn't burn on the top at all, even though I forgot to put foil on it.  Here's the finished cake, and a slice cut:-

As you can see, the fruit sank to the bottom and the cake above the fruit has a slightly unusual's quite springy and a bit kind of rubbery, not crumbly or cake like at all.  However, both husband and I agree it tastes fine, very nice in fact, with quite a strong citrus hit from the marmalade.  I will make it again, with perhaps some added dried cranberries, maybe some nuts.  Not a fail at all, a perfectly nice cake, but probably more of an everyday cake than a special event one.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

No sign of Nurse Huffy!

Thank you for comments - Hazel, I hope you and your sister got good news.

My appointment with the diabetes nurse went very well actually, no ticking off and we had a very good discussion.  The subject of statins was raised again, obviously, and again I declined which she accepted without question.  By a useful coincidence, just a few days ago I read in the paper (The Daily Fail, which isn't usually right about most things) about a fairly new diabetes medication, dapagliflozin, which not only reduces blood glucose (by diverting it to the kidneys so you pee it out in quite large quantities), but also helps to reduce weight - when peeing out sugar you're also getting rid of calories.  And, as an added bonus, it has cardiovascular supporting properties.  So it seems to be a good thing - I didn't just take the Daily Fail's word for it, I looked it up on a couple of reputable websites.  One downside is a possible side effect - because of all that sugar you accumulate in your wee, it can give you thrush or a UTI.  Not everybody gets the side effects, of course.

Anyhow, I discussed it with the nurse and we are both in agreement that I will start taking this new med, alongside my standard Metformin, I'll take it for a 3 month trial initially and then have more blood tests and another review with her, to see how I've been getting on with it.  The only thing is I can't have that particular med, but she'll prescribe another one very similar - it's more or less the same thing, same drug group, just a different manufacturer.  She said they can't prescribe dapagliflozin, for 'various reasons' - I said 'cost I expect'!  She laughed and said 'well yes, can't pull the wool over your eyes can I?!'.  Although why one company can manufacture a drug cheaper than another company making the same drug, I don't know, but what do I know?  Nor do I care, as long as it's basically the same drug and works the same.  The nurse has advised me to drink more water whilst taking the new med, to reduce the risk of thrush or a UTI.  She also told me not to use soap when washing my lady bits down below, just plain water, as soap can wash away all the good and helpful bacteria!  Told you we have good discussions....haha.

Right, changing the subject - a few days ago, Jack Munroe of Cooking on a Bootstrap posted a recipe for a very quick and easy sort-of Christmas cake, which is only 4 ingredients (or 5, if you want to add a citrussy kick, which I will).  I'm giving it a try today - it's 200ml ginger ale or beer (I'm using Crabbies ginger beer, as I just happened to have a bottle in the larder), a whole jar of mincemeat, 2 eggs and 200g SR flour, plus 2 tbsp. marmalade for the citrus kick.  Mix, put in round baking tin, cover the top with foil to stop it burning, bake for 50 mins or so at 170 deg c.  Sounds pretty perfect to me - the mincemeat contains the fruit, sugar, spice and fat so that's 4 things you don't need to add, what could be simpler?  I'll do it as Jack says this time, husband can taste test it and give his verdict, then I might make it again with a couple of additions....bit more spice and some nuts or cranberries, maybe.

Cold and foggy this morning, fog gone now but very grey and dull as well as very cold.  Definitely an indoors day.

Monday, 19 November 2018

My one bit of Xmas prep

Thank you for comments - Gemma's Person, I had to laugh at the thought of facing Nurse Huffy (good name, by the way) whilst imagining all my blog readers standing behind me poking their tongues out at her!

I've kept busy today, to take my mind off the coming appointment (Wednesday first thing).  Made a big pot of tomato, lentil and bean soup for lunches for the next few days - husband will be busy outside this week, helping an elderly neighbour with his garden and doing a few DIY jobs, so he'll need a hot lunch.  I've done a fish pie for dinner, double portion so one for the freezer.  I also made mincemeat, so the house smells lovely.  As I've said before, we don't really do Christmas, there's only the 2 of us so we don't make a big thing of it.  I only decorate the hall window, we don't buy each other presents, I don't make a Christmas cake as it's only husband who eats it (and he doesn't like marzipan or icing), nor a Christmas pud - too rich for both of us.  We don't have turkey as neither of us really likes it, but we do have a nice roast - beef or gammon usually.  And we do like mince pies, so I always make those.  I've been making my own mincemeat for a few years now, it's so easy and tastes so much nicer than shop bought.

As it was a sunny day yesterday, we took Betty to the beach - she loves running around and digging in the sand.

Don't be deceived by the bright blue sky and sunshine - it was absolutely freezing with a strong, bitterly cold wind.  We didn't stay long because of that, but it was good to blow a few cobwebs away.  

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Ticking off coming up

For me, that is.  We get our blood test results back very quickly here, within hours in fact, so I've had a sneaky look at mine online on the Patient Access thingy this morning - I like to be forewarned before I go next week for my annual diabetes review with the head honcho nurse.  It's not good - not a surprise as I knew it wouldn't be, my blood glucose, cholesterol and weight are all up, so I'll be getting my wrist slapped by the nurse and will once again no doubt be 'encouraged' to have statins (to no avail, I'm not taking statins and that's that, they do at least respect my choice, even though they keep suggesting it).  She'll also probably try to prescribe me an additional diabetes tablet, which I will also probably turn down.  

I'm not being obstinate for the sake of it - I have tried other diabetes meds in the past and haven't reacted well, I don't like the side effects.  I know full well that if I take my diet in hand and stick to a low carb, lower fat regime with less meat and more veg, and do more (well, any!) exercise, then my weight, blood glucose and cholesterol levels will all fall naturally without any drug intervention.  So that's what I must do.  This year my own health has taken a back seat, I've not been at all careful about what I eat, haven't really done much in the way of exercise, and the results speak for themselves.  I've even let the dog walking slide, husband walks Betty every day and I've more or less stopped going with them - no real reason, I just haven't felt like it.  Think that's probably down to depression and not wanting to stop and have conversations with neighbours, who we always see when out walking.  Nothing wrong with the neighbours, they're all lovely, it's just me!

The only good thing about my tests yesterday was my blood pressure, which was completely normal instead of being slightly raised, which surprised me a lot, I'd thought it would be very high.  But then I realised it's probably because of the anti-anxiety med I've now been on for a month or so, which is actually an old-fashioned beta blocker but nowadays is used for its anxiety-lowering properties instead of the BP lowering effect.

So it's time now to take myself in hand - I've got to.

Mum, put that laptop down and play with me!

Friday, 16 November 2018

Gremlins and hash

Laptop switched on this morning and seems fine, no idea what was wrong with it yesterday, it must have decided I didn't have enough to piss me off!

Got my flu jab and annual diabetes checks this morning - bloods, wee test, foot check, BP and weight.  I'm expecting the worst, as it's not been a good year - comfort eating so weight on and BP through the roof, I expect.  I will be very surprised if my blood glucose level hasn't gone up.  Hey ho.

More comfort food for dinner tonight - corned beef hash.  Not had that for years.  Got half a tin of corned beef to use up, plus several bags of leftover cooked veggies in the freezer.  Brown sauce at the ready.

Thursday, 15 November 2018


Look away now if you don't want to read another whingeing rant.

The garage have just rung - the car's done, just under £450 to pay and - surprise surprise - the RAC warranty won't cover the cost.  That's 2 costly repairs totalling around £1,000 they've refused to pay out for in the space of two months - so what's the bloody point in having (and paying for) a damn warranty that has so many exclusions it's not worth having???

I'm just so sick and tired of bloody insurance companies that do nothing but take our money and take advantage of us and refuse to do what we pay them to do - i.e. pay up when we need it!!

No car but lots of food

Well, the car's still not back....hopefully today.  The garage had to send it to another garage as they didn't have a necessary bit of diagnostic kit or the specialist knowledge to fix the problem.  We know the 2nd garage is expensive.  We're dreading the bill.  Been lying awake worrying again.

On a positive note, I did the food inventories yesterday and it's all good.  There's enough homemade ready meals (cottage pie, bolognaise, various stews, chicken pie, toad in the hole, etc), meat and fish in the freezers for about a month's worth of dinners.  Quite a lot of frozen veg and fruit.  Then there are all the tins, packets of dried beans, rice, pasta, couscous, plus fresh homegrown veggies - about 10 butternut squashes in the utility room, loads of leeks, carrots and parsnips still in the garden.  Lots of (bought) onions and shallots and most of the small sack (7.5kg) of spuds we bought last week.

Breakfasts and lunches are easy - we have either porridge or cereal (value range wheat biscuits or bran flakes, both of which taste absolutely fine) with homegrown berries which I take out of the freezer the night before.  Sometimes we - well, mainly husband - have toast with peanut butter or Vegemite.  Lunches are usually homemade soup with homemade bread, or something on toast - cheese, eggs, beans or tinned tomatoes.  We have enough flour and yeast to make around a dozen more loaves, we generally get through 2 loaves a week.

All I will need to buy for the rest of this month is a bit of dairy (we'll run out of milk, and get very low on cheese and baking marg/olive spread very soon), a bag of plain flour and bottle of washing up liquid.  I'm actually pleasantly surprised at just how much food we have in, we've accumulated a lot by buying a few extras when they were on special offer the past few weeks.

We will have literally no spare money for the next few weeks (good job we don't really 'do' Christmas), and won't be going to the village Christmas dinner early next month....we went last year and it was a good evening, but at £20 per head we certainly can't afford it this year.  But we have plenty of food, a warm house with lovely views and walks are free.  Fingers crossed that nothing else goes wrong, or I'll just have to sell my body!  (that wouldn't be much of a money spinner, nobody would want it lol.  I am joking, by the way - couldn't be bothered with mustering up the effort!).

*EDIT And now my laptop's dead!!!

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Feeling quietly desperate

Our low spend November is even more important now, what with the car troubles.  There's enough money in the bank to pay the bills, and logically I know we have enough food to last us quite a while, Betty included.  But I kept waking up during the night and panicking.

So today I'm going to do a full freezer and larder inventory.  Seeing it all written down should help calm my nerves, which feel shredded right now.  It'll give me back a bit of control, hopefully.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

*Puts fingers in ears and goes 'lalalalala'*

The garage have just phoned and said they've found several other electrical faults with the car....apparently our car make/model is notorious for them.  Not sure when we'll get it back.  Sounds like it's going to be another very expensive job - we've not recovered from the last one yet.   I just hope the warranty will be enough to cover the bill, not sure what we'll do if it isn't.

I am struggling to stay positive - at least it's sunny today, I had a nice coffee morning with a friend, and we have enough food in the cupboards/freezer - for us and for Betty - to keep us going for quite a while.

I'm not going to say this year couldn't get any worse, because that would be tempting fate!!  But I'll be bloody glad when it's over, and will hope that next year is a damn sight better.

Meanwhile, I've a doctor's appointment early Friday morning, for my flu jab and annual diabetes checks.  If the car's not back by then, I'll have to cancel it.  Bugger.

Another recipe - Tomato and bean soup

Recently I've been using various cheap tinned beans in my homemade soups - increases the quantity, adds more fibre and protein and, if you blend the soup, makes them beautifully thick and creamy.

Yesterday I made tomato and baked bean....I've made it before and usually do blend it with my stick blender, but this time left it chunky as I'd mistakenly used the wrong pan.  I usually do soups in my old and somewhat battered deep aluminium pan, but due to neuralgia and blocked sinuses making my brain foggy yesterday, I accidentally used my best non-stick saucepan instead.  Not wanting to risk scratching the pan with my stick blender, I left the soup chunky and husband said he preferred it that way.

I fried a large chopped shallot and 4 diced bendy carrots (found in the fridge drawer, I'd forgotten they were there) in some oil until softened (nobody likes hard half raw onion in a soup).  Then I added a can of chopped tomatoes and one of value range baked beans, a crumbled stock cube and rinsed out both cans with water (full can each), pouring that in as well.  I also threw in a handful of red lentils (more bulk and protein), a big squirt of tomato puree and big shake of Italian seasoning.  Bit of pepper but no salt as there's enough in the canned beans and stock cube.  Brought to the boil, then lowered the heat and simmered for about 20 mins....I had to add more water (boiled from the kettle) as the lentils absorbed a lot.

Just before serving, I stirred in a couple of dessertspoons of Greek yogurt to add some extra creaminess.  We had a bowlful each with a sprinkle of grated cheese on top.  Made enough for 2 days...although husband would happily have eaten a 2nd bowl yesterday, but I'm trying to cut down on our portion sizes - he did have a hunk of bread with his.

So the rest of the soup for lunch today, I'm doing a sausage, potato and peppers traybake for dinner.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Blah, blah, meh Monday

For about a week I've had ongoing blocked sinus issues, with an almost permanent headache, and I've also woken up this morning with very painful neuralgia in the left side of my face and head.  Betty is going through a very whingey phase at the moment (perhaps she gets it from me!) and she'll be whingeing even more soon when husband is out for a couple of hours (she misses him when he's out).  It's one of those days when I just feel like staying in bed.

Enough of that though, I have plenty to do today.  First lot of washing is in the tumbler (it's raining so can't put it out), then will be making soup for lunch - tomato and bean.  I have some baking to do - lemon drizzle cake for coffee morning with neighbour friends tomorrow, and a sponge pud for husband to use up a bit of leftover stewed apple and blackcurrant....he's been bemoaning the lack of puddings recently, not that we eat pudding often, and if we do, it's likely to be yogurt.  I also need to make dog food - canned tuna with eggs, mashed sweet potato, broccoli and rice flour to bind it all together.  Sometimes I do chicken for her, sometimes liver, or a mixture of tuna or sardines with white fish, all with sweet potato and some other veg added, she loves it all.

I need to do some banking and a menu plan this afternoon, then will get on with my latest crochet baby blanket.  Dinner is mainly leftovers from yesterday - bubble and squeak using yesterday's veg plus some extra leftovers from the freezer, and the last bits of the roast lamb breast we had.  With brown sauce, of course - well, for me, husband hates it!  He can have the fruit sponge pud with custard after.  I'm having a week of cutting down on carbs so won't be having any pud.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Recipes - Veg fritters and winter roots coleslaw

Some good ideas for frozen veg, thank you.

The frozen mixed veg & cheese fritters were delicious, I'll be making them again for sure.

Bit of a loose recipe, I didn't really measure or weigh anything.  I made a batter with half SR flour, half gram flour (purely because I like the taste), 1 egg, enough milk to make a thick batter.  I mixed in some spices and herbs (a good shake of SeasonAll, and bigger shake of dried chives and parsley), you could use whatever you like best.  Then I stirred in about a mugful of the mixed veg, which I'd defrosted and cooked a bit in the microwave first, plus a big handful of grated Cheddar.  Dropped heaped dessertspoonfuls into some shallow hot oil in a large heavy frying pan, flattening them down a bit.  Left them cooking on a medium heat until the underside was brown, then flipped them over to do the other side.  Drained on kitchen paper, then served warm with a bit of salad and blob of mayo.  Husband really liked them too and asked if we could have them again.

For the winter veg coleslaw, I grated about a 1/4 of a small swede, 2 carrots, 1 large parsnip and mixed together, along with a finely chopped shallot.  I suddenly had a brainwave and added a grated apple too, skin included.  For the dressing, I stirred together a tablespoon of mayo, the same of Greek yogurt and, instead of the mustard I was originally going to use, a teaspoon of creamed horseradish.  Salt and pepper and a splash of lemon juice added too.  Delicious, much nicer than shop bought ordinary coleslaw.  On the subject of which, has anyone noticed that shop coleslaws nowadays seem to be all cabbage with just a few strands of carrot?  Why, when carrots are so cheap?!

We've a new Lidl opened up in town last week, it's huge, as big as any of the major supermarkets.  Went there this morning as husband had seen a particular type of electric saw for sale in there (I'm positive he has at least 3 or 4 electric saws already, why he needs another I don't know - he assures me they're all for different purposes and having this particular one will 'really help him out' *rolls eyes*).  It was heaving so we didn't look all the way round.  I wanted some ham, but also bought some sliced Maasdam cheese which they sell in big packs, a bottle of rapeseed oil at half the price of the major supermarkets, and pack of pork slices which were also cheap.  I am not going shopping again until at least next week!

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Frozen veg?

Thank you for the comments again, it's so nice to see friends here on the new blog.

I think we're getting better at spending less on groceries - well, I know we are.  Having thought more about it, I think part of the problem is when we have to go out for more fresh veggies....when we're actually in the supermarket, it's always a temptation to buy other things.  I no longer just see things and think 'oh that looks nice, we'll have that', but I do still buy things which I will use and are on a good offer or reduction, but don't actually need at the moment.  So the answer is to go less!  To facilitate that, we've decided to buy and use more frozen veg, so we don't have to go to the shops just for veg and end up buying other things.  I've not really been a fan of frozen veg much up till now - well, other than peas and sweetcorn, which I always buy anyhow.  Everything else seems to go mushy and tasteless, but I guess it depends how you cook them.  I don't like plain boiled frozen cauli or broccoli, but they're alright with cheese sauce on.  Brussels are ok, just about I find, if cooked in minimal water with a knob of butter, same with baby carrots.  Frozen roasties aren't like proper home cooked ones, but will do if I'm short of time.  I did buy a bag of frozen cut cabbage once, but the pack had so many hard pieces of stem and stalk and rough bits in, it put me right off.  Sliced frozen mushrooms I thought were slimy and disgusting, fit for stew only.

Has anyone ever tried roasting frozen veg?  How do you usually cook them, if you use them regularly?  I bought a bag of frozen mixed veg (diced carrots and green beans, peas and sweetcorn) which I'm intending to try making veg & cheese fritters with today.  I also got a bag of frozen sliced peppers, but have no idea as yet what to do with them, suggestions would be welcome.  

The fritters are for lunch, I'll let you know how they come out.  For dinner tonight to eat whilst Strictly's on, I'm going to do cheeseburgers in rolls with homemade coleslaw.  Got no fresh cabbage, so I'm thinking outside the box and am going to do a winter root veg version - grated swede, carrot and parsnip, with finely chopped shallot, with a dressing of half mayo, half Greek yogurt and a spoonful of Dijon mustard.  The carrot, parsnip and shallot are our own home grown, the swede not.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Trying not to spend!

Thanks for the comments regarding hair loss, I'm glad I'm not the only one.  I guess there's no miracle cure, possibly using a hair thickener shampoo and having regular haircuts is the best thing to do.  I'm just self conscious about my very thin fine hair I suppose, I doubt that people are pointing and laughing at me in the street though (well, maybe they do, I wouldn't be able to see them without my glasses on anyway!  So perhaps the answer is just not to wear my glasses....).

The car's definitely got another problem, the warning lights came on again yesterday so husband called the breakdown service.  Seems it's a problem with the ABS/parking brake/ESP sensor (no I don't know either!!), some kind of fault.  The breakdown guy said it should be covered by the parts & labour warranty husband has, and told him to take the car to the approved garage in town, which he's out doing now.  The last major problem we had that cost nearly £600 wasn't covered by the warranty, they don't pay out for problems caused by wear and tear apparently (of course they don't!!), whereas they do for faults.  At least we don't have to pay this time - just as well, as I don't suppose they accept IOU's!

He's just come back and said the car's booked in for next Tuesday, they said it's safe to drive until then.  He also said they recommended he have some other test done, some diagnostic thingy.....they said it's not essential, but on his own head be it if he doesn't have it done and another problem arises!  And that'll cost £45 + VAT and of course it's not covered by the warranty.  *Rolls eyes*  He's said no to that.  Cars are just money pits.  Although perhaps it might be prudent to have it done, will have a discussion with him about that.

I was going to do a food shopping challenge this month, £1 each per day so £60 for the month.  Changed my mind though, it'll put pressure on me which I don't feel like doing right now.  I'm just going to try and spend as little as possible, that should be easy enough, as we have plenty of food in the freezers and store cupboards.  We've been shopping this week for things we'd used a lot of last week when we had visitors - fresh milk, olive spread, cheese, eggs, fresh veg - and the king prawns and mixed grains for my birthday dinner.  Spent a total of £28.90, which included a 7.5kg sack of potatoes and some frozen veg as well.  I'm happy with that, it's a lot less than we would normally spend on a week's shopping, and I'm confident we won't need to go shopping at all next week.  Although husband's just said we've run out of baking paper (he's lining the tins for the 2 seeded loaves he's just making), and I've now remembered I used the last of the mixed spice in the date & walnut cake the other day.  Oh, and there's no smoked paprika left either.  Oh well.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

For Annabeth

Annabeth, please accept my apologies, I published your comment and then deleted it because I realised it contained your email address - so sorry about that.  I'm really not very good at this techie stuff, am I?!  Of course I don't mind if you follow me again, I'm pleased to have you back!

Oh, and have just realised that as I deleted the comment, I no longer have your email address, so can't reply by email.  Duh!!  I will just have to hope you read this....

Hair - lack of!

Thank you for all the birthday wishes, I really enjoyed the day.

I've noticed recently that I'm losing more hair - now we're not talking handfuls here (thank goodness!!), but there's definitely many more loose hairs on my pillow in the mornings, and on my jumpers - even husband (and men are notoriously unobservant) has noticed and commented on it.  I'm not sure whether it's a result of all the stress and anxiety recently, or a side effect of the medication I'm taking for the stress - bit of both, probably.  How ironic if the anti-stress meds are causing my hair to fall out and induce even more stress.  Losing my hair has always been a fear of mine, although it's probably in my genes as my Mum has lost loads of hair, hers is very thin now, poor old thing.  

I think hair, for a woman, is such an integral part of our feminine selves, isn't it?  I know lots of men hate losing their hair and do all sorts of ridiculous things to make it seem like they're not - painful implants, bald on top but growing the back hair into a long ponytail, a la Francis Rossi of Status Quo.  Or the utterly stupid long combover, like Trump's pile of fluffy Weetabix.  How any man can look in the mirror and think that a combover, particularly such an obvious one as Trump's, looks good, I really don't know.  Men - it doesn't, it's just RIDICULOUS!!  I actually like bald men - just as well as husband has been losing his hair for donkeys years - and I know lots of women do.  But for a woman, losing our hair is quite traumatic - it makes me feel vulnerable and lacking in confidence.  I don't know how I'd cope if I had cancer and all my hair fell out due to the treatment....bit of a shallow thing to say really, actually staying alive is far more important.

If anyone knows of any supplements to take, or miracle (but cheap!) hair treatments to try, that actually help to make the hair look thicker, or even promote new growth, I'd be interested.  I did read about one a few months ago - can't remember what it was, but it wasn't cheap and you apparently need to continue with it forevermore, or it'll just stop working.

And talking of hair and how we women feel about it, Sheila of Life is too short to iron teatowels blog is having her head shaved for charity today - what an incredibly courageous thing to do!  She's amazing.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

A few thoughts on the blog, and birthday

Thank you for the lovely comments, I really appreciate them.  

The header photo is the view from our front bedroom window, we have a similar one from the rear bedroom, although not quite as far-reaching.  We love living here, we're so lucky, having lived in, or on the outskirts of, towns mostly before we moved to Somerset.  I feel like I was born to be a country girl, I just couldn't imagine living in a town again.

Somebody said to me that by trying to make my blog for invited readers only, I was clearly only wanting readers who agreed with me all the time!  Erm, not at all, we all have different opinions, I don't expect everyone to have the same opinions as me, or even like what I say.  However, if I don't agree with a post someone has written on their blog, I either keep quiet or say something non-committal.  I wouldn't make a nasty comment to them, and won't be publishing any I might get on here.  

It's my birthday today.  Husband asked if I wanted to go out for a meal, I said no - having had an indifferent meal out last week when we had visitors, I'm not particularly eager to eat out again anytime soon.  I feel more and more that meals out are overpriced, cooked carelessly and I could probably make something much nicer myself.  I sound like an old skinflint, but I begrudge paying for a meal that I could cook cheaper and better.

Had some really nice birthday cards - and one not so nice....why someone would send a rude card when they know you don't like them is beyond me.  So let's gloss over that and just be thankful for the nice ones.

I chose what I wanted to eat today and husband is cooking it....creamed mushrooms on spelt & rye toast with a fried egg for breakfast (it was yum), then it'll be king prawns in a sweet chilli sauce on a bed of mixed grains and edamame beans for dinner.  For lunch, we took a flask of hot chocolate and a slice of date & walnut cake (which I made yesterday) to Dunster beach, Betty was with us of course and we all had a breezy walk, with Betty charging around chasing anything the wind blew around.  Sat back in the car to have our drink and cake, Betty had her own snacks and water.  Lovely day.....well, other than 2 or 3 warning lights and bleepers coming on in the car on the way home from the beach.  Something to do with the ABS and parking brake, apparently.  I'm not even going to think about it...not today.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Thank you and welcome back

Thank you for all the lovely supportive comments, they helped me such a lot.  And to everyone who indicated they'd still like to read - wow, thanks so much, I am truly surprised and very grateful.  I had so many problems this morning trying to set the original blog to Invited Readers Only, it just didn't work for some reason, so gave up and started this new one.  It's not ideal, it won't stop people who I'd rather didn't read, I dare say they'll find me eventually.  But I'm going to write whatever I want to, and if people object, well, they don't have to read!

I didn't have any 'troll' comments on the post I deleted.  A couple of friends whom I've known for years have taken umbrage with me lately, think they're fed up with me 'moaning', another has more or less disowned me, and yet another seems to think they're counsellor, critic and saviour combined and is continually telling me what I should be doing and feeling and thinking, which annoys me.  As I said, if they don't like it don't read it.  

Anyway, I did have a complete break from social media and the internet in general (other than a few emails) for a few days and it did me good, I think.  I've now gone through my list of 'favourite' websites, forums, blogs etc, and friends on Facebook, and have pared them all down considerably.  My FB friends are now limited to people I actually consider good friends, and family we like and have the most contact with.  I've deleted blogs that haven't been updated for months and months, plus one or two that weren't really my cup of tea.  I've slimmed down my 'favourites' list of websites, now only the ones I read regularly, i.e. daily or a few times a week, are left.  It's all helped to make me feel a bit lighter, somehow.

I think I'll take the opportunity to change the focus on the blog a bit.  It'll probably mainly be about food - cooking and saving money on shopping and using up leftovers as much as possible, growing fruit and veg, crocheting, days out.  Health, of course.  And, now that I don't have to be so careful about what I write (on MY blog!!), for fear of being taken to task about something or other, I'll probably talk about Betty more too, after all, she is one of the highlights of my life.  If I can figure out what I was doing wrong with photos, I'll try to put more on here....the last few times I tried to post any, Blogger wasn't having it, for some reason.

Anyway, it's nice to be back posting, and thank you all again, I'm so grateful for all the support.

Testing, testing

First post on new blog.....hope it works!  More to follow if it does....