Tuesday, 23 October 2018


My GP appointment is tomorrow, I'm half dreading it, half looking forward to it - well, as much as you can look forward to a doctor's appointment.  The anxiety and palpitations have been in full force recently, although I'm managing to keep a lid on it, just about.  My sleeping hasn't improved much - the herbal sleeping tablets I bought and have been taking for a fortnight do nothing other than make me a bit drowsy, they certainly don't help me to sleep.  However, for the last 3 nights I've managed to break the habit of getting up in the middle of the night - well, other than going to the loo.  I still keep waking up, but do get back to sleep eventually, until about 5 am when I'm wide awake, albeit still really tired, and know there's no point in lying there any longer.

I was trying to work out just what is making me anxious right now - husband is more or less 'fixed' at the moment, although we don't know how he's going to be in the future, of course.  There's no denying the car breaking down and costing nearly £600 to repair really hit me hard, it wiped out our savings in one fell swoop.  It did make me realise that when major things like that happen, we don't have a lot to fall back on, and having a car here is really essential.  It's going to take a long time, and a lot of cutting back, to build the savings back up again, and we really need a bigger amount than we had before - after all, if something else breaks down at the same time, we've had it.  A good friend did very kindly offer to lend us some money for the car repairs, but I declined.  To be blunt, we couldn't pay him back for - well, goodness knows when, and although he did say pay back as and when, it would have just preyed on my mind the whole time and caused me even more stress.  I just didn't want to feel obligated to him, I'd have been crippled with anxiety every time we saw him, I don't think he really understood that.

Although we love living here and love our life, there's no doubt that we shot ourselves in the foot when we sold our last house back in 2001 and didn't buy another.  We sold it very quickly - within 2 days of putting it on the market - and just didn't find another house to buy in the short time available before we had to move out.  We rented initially, which was supposed to be short term whilst we looked for another house to buy, but for various reasons we never did get round to buying another property.  Had we done so, we'd probably be mortgage-free now, whereas we're stuck paying rent for the rest of our lives now, which means that, apart from the financial aspect (rent obviously is a huge chunk out of our income), we're always at somebody else's (the landlord's) mercy.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing. 

I've had a couple of comments recently saying they really like my blog as it's real and about normal life.  Thank you for that.  I don't write anything to try and impress people, or gain sympathy, or to say 'look what i've done', I just write how I feel, what I've been doing, what's happening in our lives at the moment.  

Saturday, 20 October 2018

More on the Boston beans - and wishes for Marlene

Thanks for the comments - to answer some questions re the beans:-

Wow Pam, I hope you and SO like them, I'd love to hear what your version's like and if you add anything different.

Sheila, I'm sure I've frozen them in the past when I made them years ago - they make loads, so I reckon I would have.  We've had them for the past 2 days and there's still loads left, so I've frozen the rest.  I don't see any reason why they wouldn't freeze ok.

Pat, I used dried haricot beans, which I think are the beans in the normal cans of baked beans.  But I guess most types of beans would work well.

Yes you're right Catriona, high fibre slow release carbs, such as pulses, do help to regulate our blood sugar levels, so much better for us than 'white' carbs which turn to glucose straight away and don't do us any good whatsoever.

Marlene of Poppy Patchwork blog, the lovely lady who sent me the gorgeous homemade bag and other gifts recently, has posted to say her husband had a heart attack this week and underwent heart surgery yesterday.  Sending you a big cyber hug Marlene, he's in the best place and fingers crossed he recovers well.  Heart trouble nowadays is not the death sentence it used to be, there have been so many advances in heart treatment and it is possible not only to survive it, but also to live a very normal life afterwards.  There's lots of help out there Marlene, we've had so much medical help and support and all of it has been fantastic.  ❤

Friday, 19 October 2018

Recipe - Boston Baked Beans

Brenda asked how I make the Boston Baked Beans, so here's what I did.

I have made them before, a long time ago, so first googled to remind myself what to do.....having found loads of recipes, most of which use salt pork, I just winged it really and did my own thing.

I soaked the beans overnight - didn't weigh them, but slightly more than half the 500g packet, so probably about 300g.  Then yesterday morning I boiled them for 10 mins - some recipes said to boil them first, others just bunged them straight in the slow cooker.  I don't know whether it's actually necessary to boil them first (like it is for kidney beans), but thought it would help to tenderise them and cut down the cooking time, so it wouldn't hurt.  I drained them, throwing the cooking water away (to cut down on the 'trumpiness' of the finished beans) and put them in the slow cooker, along with a can of chopped tomatoes, a full can of water, a big squirt of tomato puree, some chopped dried sage and parsley, heaped tsp smoked paprika and a diced large onion, which I softened first in oil.  I had the cooker on high for the first couple of hours, turning it to low after that.

I'd read that adding anything sugary too early on in the cooking process stops the beans from softening - hadn't heard that before, I did know not to add salt initially.  After about 3 hours, by which time the beans had absorbed a lot of the liquid, I then added about 200g of diced bacon (briefly sautéed in oil first), half a punnet of chopped mushrooms, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp. black treacle (some recipes said pomegranate molasses, which I didn't have - never have had, actually) and a tbsp. of brown sugar.  There was a bit of tomato ketchup left in the bottle, so I swirled it around with water and added that too.  A teaspoon of Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, good stir around and that was that.  Carried on cooking on low for another 3 or 4 hours, so I guess around 6 or 7, maybe 8 hours in total, I didn't time it exactly.  I did add another splash of water mid afternoon, as the liquid was disappearing.

We had some each for dinner with some broccoli and a slice of husband's homemade wholemeal seeded bread, the beans were soft and delicious, so much more flavour than a tin of baked beans.  There's loads left, we'll be having more tonight with a cauliflower cheese quiche I've made, and still more to freeze.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

And another kindness

Another parcel in the post this morning, this time from my sister.  She's sent a gorgeous card and the BlueRay DVD of The Greatest Showman, to show her appreciation of us taking her on holiday with us.  I'd mentioned last week that I really wanted to see it (it's a musical, my favourite kind of film, and it stars Hugh Jackman - what's not to like?!)….coincidentally, I'd looked at it in the supermarket a couple of days ago and briefly considered buying it, but decided that food was more important.  What a lovely sis she is.  People have been so kind.

I had another almost sleepless night last night, had 2 or 3 hours sleep then woke up about 01.30 and was completely unable to get back to sleep, so got up and went downstairs.  Betty came and nudged my leg, then went back to bed, bless her.  I did go back to bed after a cup of warm milk but still couldn't sleep, so downstairs again.  Fit for nothing today.  I hope the GP gives me something next week, this is really getting to me.

I'm doing Boston Baked Beans in the slow cooker, there's a couple of brown bananas I should really use up in a cake of some sort, if I can gather the energy.  Should have made it earlier when the oven was on for the 2 loaves husband made.  Never mind. 

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Medical and shopping

Thank you all for the lovely comments regarding Marlene's (Poppy Patchwork) wonderful gift.  Oh, and I'd also like to thank SusanM for her information regarding the free online health courses run through Future Learn - I've had a look and there are some really useful free courses, not just the one by the BHF about the heart, but also ones about diabetes and food nutrition/losing weight, I'll be looking to do a few of those, thanks.

I've got both a GP and a dental appointment next week, the GP one is for my palpitations, tight chest and anxiety, which aren't getting any better - worse if anything.  The dental one is just a check up, though I am still having trouble with my bottom left wisdom tooth, the gum is very sore and I can't eat on that side.  I've this morning cancelled the dental one though, right now I just can't cope with my dentist prodding and poking about in my mouth, or her inevitable recommendation (as she mentioned last time) that I have the tooth out under general anaesthetic in hospital.  It's all too much going on at once, I can only deal with one thing at a time.  

We did a big shop yesterday, I had some of my saved holiday money left over, amazingly, so used that to stock up on some larder things like dried split peas and haricot beans, packets of stuffing mix, tinned tomatoes and tuna, long life soya milk, bran flakes and porridge oats.  I also got 2 packs of the Heck Italian chicken sausages that Joy mentioned the other day, they were reduced to half price as they were on date, along with a couple of packs of falafels, also half price, they've all been frozen.  A big 1kg pack of cooking bacon was bought too, I'm going to go through it today and split it into smaller amounts.  So for our November challenge, I should only need dairy and green veg.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Such kindness

I've had a parcel delivered this morning, out of the blue - a parcel of lovely things from a long-time blog reader:-

(sorry, tried uploading a photo but it won't work for some reason).

It's a handy shopper bag, which folds up neatly inside a small zipped bag, in lovely thick material with woodland creatures all over it.  Alongside that were some gorgeous quality postcards of flowers, a selection of fruit and flavoured teabags and some packets of flower seeds, all in a lovely organza bag, and a beautiful hand written card.  Gifts from a lovely lady whom I've never met - I won't name her (unless she wants me to) to save her any embarrassment.  

Thank you so much, it was such a lovely surprise it brought tears to my eyes, and was just the boost I needed today, as it's not a good day for one reason or other.  

Bloggers are wonderfully kind, especially considering most of us have never actually met in person.

Incidentally, I'm going to use the bag as a project bag - it's just the right size to hold a couple of 100g balls of yarn when I'm crocheting the baby blankets that are my favourite thing to do.  And the little zipped bag will be perfect for holding my hooks, scissors and bodkin.

Monday, 15 October 2018

When is a bargain not a bargain?

I've just cooked the 750g smoked gammon joint I bought from Aldi the other day, they're currently on offer at £2.15, I boiled/simmered it on the hob.  When it was cool enough, I flaked it all up ready to freeze in portions, then, out of curiosity, thought I'd weigh it first.  750g packed weight before cooking.....405g after cooking - wow, that's a lot of water they add to it when packing!  So it's not such a bargain as I thought it was, works out to about 54 pence per 100g.  Still, I get the cooking water as stock as well (it's currently being used to make leek and potato soup).  I don't think I'll be in any hurry to buy one again, though....to be honest, it doesn't even taste that good - ok, but nothing special.  Hmmm.  I'm going to cross it off my list for the November challenge.  Luckily, husband has just defrosted the freezer and found a pack of 4 salmon steaks I'd forgotten were in there, so that's a good replacement for the gammon.