Friday, 29 January 2016

Lemoncurd Cake

Since I realised I was gluten intolerant, I have made the same cake over and over (a chocolate brownie recipe on the back of the Doves Farm flour), whereas previously I would make lots of varieties of cake.

I think I have been slightly worried if other recipes would turn out. Making a christmas cake with gluten free flour and it being a great success has made me decide, if I see a recipe I fancy trying just go for it! :-)

I don't know why but I always feel I am nurturing my family when I bake, same if I make porridge, pancakes, rice pudding or Sunday roast!! ;-)

So, at weekend I made this gorgeously moist lemoncurd cake, I used bog standard lemon curd for the main body of the recipe, but for the top I used extra special 'Limun' a gift from a friend!

3/4 jar of decent lemoncurd
6oz sugar
6oz soft butter
3 eggs
8oz self raising flour (I used Doves Farm Gluten Free)

Heat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3
Line an 8"/20cm cake tin with baking paper

Beat half the lemoncurd with the sugar and butter.
Add the eggs and mix one at a time.
Fold in the flour.
Put into your prepared tin.
Drop the remaining lemoncurd in teaspoons over the surface.

Bake for around 45 minutes, checking for browning half way through and covering if necessary with tin foil.

Cool, put the kettle on, sit yourself down and enjoy!

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Good For Body & Soul

I have done three days back at work, on reduced hours. Today has been my day off. Already I have three A4 pages of things I need to do/sort/organise. Feelings of being overwhelmed have started. I don't know why this is happening to me. It started before I finished for my hysterectomy. This is how I know things need to change and I am hopeful that 2016 is going to be the year!

So, this got me to thinking. What will help? What can I do for myself, for my body and soul? What helps my coping mechanism? What puts me in a positive frame of mind - gives me an I can attitude? A friend once said "You have to be the most positive person I have ever met!" I wonder would he say that now?

If I had to write a list of what helps me to deal with everyday stresses and work what would be on it? What would I like to fit into my precious free time?  I wrote it down, and here I share it with you, in no particular order! ;-)

Reading - I joined with Laura over at Circle of Pine Trees and her Year in Books - my reviews here. A no pressure reading group, choose a book, do a linky to her site (this sadly no longer is how it works), do a quick review and name your next book in the first few days of a new month. No pressure, but you still feel accountable, which helps to keep your reading mojo up. I read every night without fail, especially as I no longer allow screen time to interrupt my circadian rhythm.

Walking Olly - My pooch gets me out of bed each and every morning. Yes, sometimes I feel sluggish but by the time I am home after a half hour morning walk, currently in the pitch black, those endorphins have kicked in and I feel more energised.

Running - Slowly getting back into it after my hysterectomy. Running is fab in that you are out and back as quickly as you want! No 'I haven't got time' excuses. Have 10 minutes spare? That's 10 minutes of cardio more than if you were sat down!! Running also helps to rid me of any tightness in my neck and shoulders and sets up other good habits - eating clean, drinking more water. 

Exploring New Places - Especially if it involves a historic house and parkland aka National Trust Membership which is what my parents bought me for Christmas - looking forward to planning! A small tip, if you purchase National Trust Scotland membership, it is cheaper but you can get into all the English National Trust places ;-).  It's good to learn new things about how people lived, to visit somewhere you haven't been before; shown to improve our mental capacity. Also it gives you something interesting to chat about!

Meditation - I am really getting into meditating. Most people meditate in the morning, but I can't find the time with walking Olly, juicing and the need to leave for work by 7.50am. I have been using my Headspace App - free trial here but also am going to try Tara Brach Meditations  as recommended by Leo from Zen Habits. I tend to meditate when I get in from work and find that it re energises me for the evening ahead.

Blogging! Yay! - I really enjoy sitting down to write. A creative outlet - or not? I am continually amazed that people visit this little corner of my world and come back!! I don't get lots of comments but when I do I love it, the interaction is inspiring, here and on Instagram!

Juicing - I started juicing in October 2014 and swear by it for improved all round health. Bright eyes, clear skin, more energy, a kick start to the day, no aches and pains, no tummy ache as it helped me to realise I have a gluten intolerance. 

Pilates - Once a week, more if I could! This says it all!! My Pilates Studio is my sanctuary. I go in and for the few minutes before the lesson starts lie on my mat with my eyes closed; heavenly. Something I definitely want to do more of this year, hopefully study and share the love ;-)

Family Time, Friends,  Loving & Laughing - Goes without saying. My family has grown by one and there is nothing better than seeing this little tink become a toddler. I am very lucky that I have a husband who makes me laugh every day - yes, really, even after 28 years. It really is the best medicine. I don't have loads of friends but those who I do have are the dogs, a positive influence, always encouraging, themselves inspirational, special indeed. Family time, especially when we are all together, a gift!

No Facebook - Came off Facebook in November. I include it here as a positive thing. I was disappearing down a rabbit hole with it. The telling thing is I haven't missed it at all!!! It's free'd up time to do all the things above haha! It was useful when I was leading my Beginner's Running Group but currently I shan't be leading as I start College next week. So, not needed!!

Other Random's - 
  • Using my Clarisonic regularly - sounds a funny one, but it's two minutes three times a week well spent which gives me beautifully smooth skin.
  • Having my eyebrows threaded and dyed every 6 weeks - adds definition helping to frame my face. The only beauty treatment I have regularly.
  • Haircuts every 3 months, only at the College, but who doesn't feel better after a haircut?
  • Painted toenails especially when I am running :-)
  • Eating clean as in lots of fruit and veg, protein, limited gluten free carbs.
  • Drinking water - I aim for 8 glasses (4 pints) daily for clarity of mind, ability to run without needing to carry water, clear skin, more energy.
  • Cycling; another challenge for 2016 coming up!
Gosh, this has to win the award for the longest blogpost I have ever written. It's been good to give me some clarity of what I would like to fit into my week, to care for and nurture myself, both body and mind, aiding sleep and coping ability at work which is a good thing right?

How do you take care of your body and soul? What would you like to fit into your week? Do you manage to fit in things that you know are good for you?

 Do share! XX

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Hey Ho, Hey Ho.......

Back to work yesterday following my three month hiatus post hysterectomy. It was strange. Strange because a number of people have gone in that brief period away. Redeployed to other areas of the NHS due to decommissioning of services. A number due to go in the next couple of weeks, people who I have loved working with for the last four years.

On my desk waiting was a small gift from a work friend, one whom I shall miss greatly ;-)
This beautiful votive with hand knitted sparkly cover.
I was touched by the words, both in the card and little tag attached.

Beautiful! I sat by candlelight watching the dancing patterns on the wall.

Wishing you a wonderful week wherever you are,

Friday, 15 January 2016

Frugal Take Off (Bagged In The Sale)

Whenever the new season Plumo catalogue drops through my door, I love to earmark a couple of things to watch for in the sale. I love the aesthetics of Plumo and have had a few really good bargains in the past, never date and really really good quality. A woollen shawl and a sarong that have travelled everywhere with me.

But this isn't a post about Plumo - it's a take off of the Plumo outfit I chose here, but from Next. Now it may not look as cool, it may not last as long, but I was pretty chuffed with my purchases. Bagged in the sale too. Total cost twenty pounds! Below Plumo, followed by moi!
Not as baggy and grungy but I like! Wearing my trusty Kurt Geiger Lizzy's. Fourth pair - love em!
 I also love, love, loved this wallet. Expensive +++. But for Christmas from my hubby received the gorgeous black lamb leather wallet from Hush (seen after this picture).
A snip compared to Plumo and I love, love, love it!! I now use it instead of a handbag as it fits my phone, keys, money and lipbalm perfectly! It's all I carry!
Still wanting these though! Keeping an eye out for them to be dropped further still! 

Have you bagged any bargains this January? I didn't go hustling to Next, I couldn't cope. This was a passing by and I'll just drop in....and there they were waiting!!

I hope you are enjoying the New Year so far. Wrap up - they say snow is on the way. Already had some here in Lancashire! XX

Friday, 8 January 2016


There's a lot being written at the moment, about slowing down, savouring the small moments, paring back, living a more simplistic lifestyle. For years we've all been told to work hard, plough all our money into property, getting the biggest mortgage we can afford. When actually, aren't experiences, spending time with family and loved ones, having the money to do so, creating memories more important? I think so. A smaller mortgage means you could work less hours, be your own boss. 

This year I want to embrace change. In lots of areas of our life. Be a little more 'frugal'. We live in such a throwaway society. I want to consider where and what my money goes on, but also what I am bringing into my home.

Our home is too big now the children are gone and we are becoming more and more aware of how little space we actually need to live. So, it is up for sale (again). It is a home that needs a family like ours to come along and love it, caretaking it for the next century as we have done, nursing it's old bones, doing everything in keeping with it's 1650 beginnings. With it a large garden - why did we ever want a big garden? So many weekends spent 'tidying the garden' something that in reality we don't enjoy. What we do enjoy is sitting in it, having BBQ's with friends. Moving to a smaller home will free up time and money. I want to see more of the world, have weekends away, go to the theatre, feel that should job difficulties arise we are secure (I work in the NHS and currently have lots of friends in the NHS facing redundancy).
I am going to go through this house, every drawer, every cupboard, the loft, the garage over the next few weeks and having a massive clearout! How do we accumulate so much 'stuff?' I have done this twice before, following reading The Joy Of Less. Only this time I thought I would share here with you! Less stuff, less time spent cleaning and moving things around. Only things I truly love and find useful will make the cut. When anything new is brought in, something goes out. Currently wrangling over a new frying pan with Mr.L, why hang on to the old one 'just in case'? Haha!

Books! If I have not read them in ten years will I ever?! I think not, there are so many good reads, those that have been sitting harbouring dust are never going to make the top of the pile - even if they are a 'classic'.
Clothes wise, I am quite good, I consider carefully before any purchase and tend to buy in the sale, but I will be having a sort out there too! I intend to adopt the one in one out method, get rid of any clothes unworn in the last year, organise my wardrobe, sort out all my running, pilates and cycling gear, currently one huge tangled mess in a wicker trunk.

No longer are takeaways a treat in this house. They are a regular occurrence. I worked out that on average we spend sixty to eighty pounds a month on takeaway. I want to change this - both my husband and I are not bad cooks and can quickly and easily throw a curry together (our takeaway of choice). I would rather spend this money on an experience, a day out, something needed.

Over the Christmas period there were lots of plans made to eat out with friends. I started saying 'no' - Christmas is such an extravagant time as it is without meals out, cocktail nights, christmas parties for various clubs, work, groups of friends etc. So, I offered to host, everyone brought food, drinks and good cheer, and secretly I think a number gave a sigh of relief and voiced it was better than going out! The nights were full of laughter and carried on into the small hours, often with friends staying over. Don't get me wrong, I love going out with friends, just not every week!!

I love a nice coffee shop, but again, whilst I have been off sick, I dread to think how much I have spent in them, often disappointed by the cake. Tomorrow I had agreed to meet a friend in a tearoom, literally five minutes walk away. What the hell?! So, I gave her a call and now I am making soup, she a cake, and we shall have gorgeous coffee ground and brewed by my lovely Mr. and chat forever without worrying about freeing up the table. I love a tearoom/coffee shop as part of a day out or bike ride though :-)
I am relishing that I have weekends free coming up. Last year I started to address that I was running around like a blue assed fly, saying yes to all and everything asked of me. Wanting to be all things to all people, yet being that person who relishes solitude, time to replenish, time to gather thoughts. I learnt that people don't take offence, that it is ok to say no, maybe suggest another option, another time.

I know that when I have time for myself, a tidy, uncluttered environment, a place for things to go not just dumped it has a positive effect on my mind. I feel more in control. This article is worth a read. This is going to be doubly important as I return to work but also start college at the end of this month.

So, what do you think? Do you crave a simpler life, less belongings, more experience & free time? The opportunity to work less hours, be your own boss? 


Thursday, 7 January 2016

I Can't Get No Sleep

& it really is no joke. Since I had my hysterectomy in October, and if I'm honest before that, my sleep has been far from great. Here is the face of me. Insomniac. Frightening!!!

Leading up to finishing work I was working late every night and worrying about having every little thing tied up (yes, just to be able to go off sick!!!). I wasn't sleeping and if I did I had incessant chatter in my head about everything I needed to do. Literally I was in a state of living to work.

After my operation, I was sleeping all hours of the day and night, whenever I wanted. And that was okay, because I could. I needed to sleep, to rest, to replenish, to heal.

Next came the horrendous hot sweats, particularly extreme at night. My sleep became so disturbed, I was having hardly any sleep at all. When I did sleep, it was fitful, disturbed by the throwing on and off of covers.

I saw the GP as planned to discuss starting my HRT (you have to have a break between hysterectomy and starting HRT). Unlike many women, I wasn't having the 'other' associated symptoms of menopause, which was good because what I was experiencing was bloody awful!!

After discussing and considering with the GP I decided that HRT, at this moment in time is not for me. I am a runner - weight bearing exercise strengthens bones as does HRT protecting against osteoporosis, I'm 47 this month - if I was early 40's this would NOT be a good choice, I'm not having mood swings, I'm not moody or over emotional (never have been), I'm still keen to you know what (first time in a couple of years pain free - yay!!) and am not having problems with dryness........sorry..........

So, I started medication that tackles the hot sweats only. It's worked - amazingly. I was having 30 - 40 hot sweats a day and am down to 6 - 10 after 3 weeks. Amazeballs. Sadly sleep continues to evade me. This week I reached desperation point, I could not cope any more. I could feel, as bedtime was approaching' anxiety kicking in, just awful. Here are some/all of the things I have tried;

  • Not resting/sleeping in the day - in the morning I have felt that 'oooohhhhh, I feel like I could have the nicest sleep NOW' but have resisted
  • Going to bed and getting up at the same time
  • Temperature control in the bedroom
  • Bedtime routine - you know the one; warm bath, not too hot, nice warm drink - chamomile tea or Pukka Night Time Tea (don't do milk), gradual wind down....
  • Eating a banana
  • No screens from an hour before bed - the screens emit blue light which can affect circadian rhythm (your body clock)
  • No charging items up in the bedroom, turning all electrical items off (apart from hubby's phone) as the tiny flashes of light were disturbing me
  • Increased exercise
  • Headspace Meditation
  • Deep Breathing
  • Bach Rescue Remedy to calm me down. Yes! It's that bad! 
  • Pukka Night Time natural remedy capsules
  • I then went and bought a Lumie Body Clock which helps your circadian rhythm by simulating a dusk (time to go to sleep) and dawnbreak
As you can see. I've really tackled it, I need to, I am due back to work next week.

So, yesterday I went to see my GP again, who's brilliant. She listened and advised a very short term measure of half a sleeping tablet a night, to help my routine and take away some of the anxiety. I have also been given another weeks sick note. I have a job where I need to be on the ball, with no room for mistakes.

I could not wait to go to bed last night and pop that pill I tell ya! I did my 'routine' popped half a tablet, read my book and could feel myself slowly thing it was 4am and even then I went straight back to sleep until 6.30am. 

Today I feel so rested. It's unbelievable. Well, it's not, cos, you know 'drug induced sleep' but, I need it. If it is going to help in my return to a normal routine, meaning I go back to work rested then it has to be. I will be taking them for 4 nights then seeing what happens without them. Cross your fingers for me - please!

Here is the face of me. One nights sleep. Seven and a half hours. Yay! Admittedly I have mascara on!

So hopefully, this will work. Have you suffered from sleep deprivation/insomnia? What worked for you? What helped? Sharing is caring! XX

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Five Days In......

Hello lovely people! Two days in to the first week of the New Year. If life is 'back to normal' for you I wish you a slow start and little stress.

I have a week or two remaining of recovery from my hysterectomy before my return to work. The time left will be concentrated on returning to the work routine, walking the dog at the pre-hysterectomy time, but also trying to get a good night's sleep - something that has been evading me big time, I am now a fully fledged insomniac (blog post coming up) and am now struggling to cope. JUST GIVE ME THE DRUGS!!!

Yesterday though Mr.L dragged me out for a run!! Yay I thought, it may help me sleep - not!! Anyway, trainers were laced and with some apprehension we drove to the local reservoir, nice and flat. My aim was to run round the 2.5 miles at a slow pace without stopping and yay I did! My breathing was great, my legs okish. Happy Happy!

This is the second run since my hysterectomy. The first was around the same reservoir, I had to stop about four times going round but the actual running felt good, but by the time I got home I felt terrible and just crawled into bed in my running gear and slept for two hours - lesson to be learnt, too much too soon!!

So here is me, post run, tired but elated. The toenails are dirty so needed painting; for a change, green! A small gift from a work colleague of Loreal Feline Sauvage. Not a colour I would usually go for, but I like :-) Expertly painted as you can see....

 Thanks so much for dropping by,
See you soon!