Thursday, 31 October 2013

Samhain Blessings

Two suitably wonderful pieces from Omnia.  I'm a relative newcomer to this band - probably only in the last couple of months but I don't know how I've not come across them before.

Their  interpretation of Poe's The Raven....... (I've listened to this so many times lately my kids just roll their eyes at me when I put it on yet again!)

and Wytches Brew.........

Enjoy your day, whatever you are doing.

Blessed Be 

Sunday, 27 October 2013

There's a storm a-comin'

Seems like Mama Nature's in a moody!!

Stay safe people xxxx

A Facebook spoof - but I had to laugh!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Foliage Friday

Have a look at my lovely little Cotinus plant.  

S'nice int it?

Look what's happening to the leaves!

Strangely beautiful don't you think?

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Forays into Focaccia

Today you could say that I have been fecking about with focaccia.

When my inner Earth Mother and Domestic Goddess take over, I am duty-bound to  obey their wishes and sashay kitchen-wards in search of culinary derring-do with which to satisfy their needs.  Today they forced me into making focaccia. This is an experience from which I shall probably never recover and neither will my kitchen utensils, worktop, mixing bowl, several tea towels, and the dog.

Buoyed up by GBBO and channelling  Ma'am Mezza Bezza I searched the tinter web for a suitable recipe and who else better to take instruction from than Mr Hollywood himself.  How I wish I hadn't bothered.

The recipe calls for strong white bread flour. Well I had some of this; not enough, but some. Don't tell Paul, but I added some self raising flour to make up the difference.  This was probably my first mistake. The recipe also calls for Olive oil. Well I had some of this; not enough, but some.  Don't tell Paul, but I added some vegetable oil to make up the difference. This was probably my second mistake. 

And so the process began.  Yeast, water, salt and oil added and mixed. And, erm, mixed. Good grief.  It began like gloop of the gloopiest nature and eventually turned into sticky paper mâché. I tried using a wooden spoon. I tried using my hands. Big mistake.  HUGE!!  The bloody stuff stuck to everything. I was dreading anyone knocking on the door, or being overcome by an urgent need to wee cos quite frankly me and the mixing bowl weren't parting company at any time soon. After about ten minutes and being instructed by Le Hollywood to stretch the dough and fold it under itself ready to prove at this point the whole shocking mess nearly ended up being drop kicked over gnarly neighbour's fence. I scraped the worst of the gloop off my hands and consulted the tinterweb again to see what I had done wrong.  

Apparently I had done nothing wrong (except perhaps the heinous crime of bastardising Paul's holy grail of focaccia-ness with substitute and substandard ingredients). The dough is renowned for being sticky and gloopy and notoriously difficult to handle and all I needed to do was to coat my hands in oil.  


Here it is before proving 

And here it is after proving!  Not much difference but it did go all soft and puffy. 

Before oven, sprinkled with garlic salt and a little rosemary. 

After oven!

And on checking?  Hmm.  Not a bad effort all things considered. No soggy bottom. Not a bad 'bake'!  

Shame I couldn't have any.  My veggie bake was lovely though! (Yes I did cook it!). 

See you soon x

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Tucked up Tuesday

Hey everyone

Thanks to everyone who commented/emailed their good wishes to me recently.  They are very much appreciated.

I emailed Samaritans to see whether I could attend another time but sadly these selection days are only held a couple of times each year and they will not do individual interviews.  To say I am gutted is putting it mildly but I have requested that they keep my references and details on file so that I am able to attend the next one.

The scan has revealed gall stones.  I'm actually quite relieved in a way that this has been confirmed because I really was quite worried as to what else it could have been.  It certainly explains the pain I've been in.  The sonographer said "well you definitely have gall stones".  After heaving a sigh of relief, I asked if there were many and she replied, "Erm, yep quite a few".  Apparently the wall of my gall bladder is also thickened - whatever that means.   I am now waiting for the next stage of proceedings which is a hospital appointment to discuss my options with the Consultant, following which I can instruct BUPA if the NHS waiting list is too long as I have this through work.

Since I had the diagnosis, I have stripped fat completely from my diet and have only eaten vegetables and fruit.  I'm actually enjoying my enforced vegetarianism - I was vegetarian for a number of years in my yoof and so it is no hardship.  I stuck to plain steamed veggies on Sunday, I had a stir fry (well not fried at all really - just - erm... stirred!) with a handful of Quorn pieces yesterday, and today I made a vegetable bake with courgettes and onions in passata with oregano, a little sugar to taste, and a grind of garlic salt.  I topped this off with a thinly sliced sweet potato and baked it in the oven.  It was delicious for something thrown together and I shall certainly be trying that again.

I miss my spices, although I did read on the lovely Kath's blog over at Hillside House recently that turmeric had lots of health giving properties so I did a little read up on it.  It certainly does seem to be very beneficial for a lot of ailments - apart from for gall stone sufferers who should avoid it!  Gah!  Looks like gentle herbs are the way forward for the time being at least.

In the meantime I am making the most of my enforced rest.  I'm taking time to just sit and relax rather than hurling myself at 27 different projects at once, or feeling that I should be tackling the housework rather than just sitting and "being".  I'm enjoying being here at home, being a housewifey and cooking the evening meal for the family.  How long it will be until I go stir crazy is anyone's guess but for now I'm happy to read all of my favourite blogs, hook up with some crochet and feel smug that the rain and wind are blowing a hooley outside whilst I'm tucked up in here.

Keep dry!

Love love xx

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Colour my world

Hello lovely readers,

I've had a couple of uppy-downy days with this bloody stomach problem.   The good news is that I have my urgent scan tomorrow morning.  The bad news is that means I can't attend the Samaritans selection day.  To say that I am gutted is an understatement.  Hopefully they will understand the situation and allow me to attend another session.  I do hope so.

I've dropped 10 lbs since last Friday.  This is a good thing but the fact that I am scared to actually eat anything isn't so good.  Today I have managed to eat a mashed banana with honey on a very small slice of Rankin's wheaten bread toast.  That was ok - didn't hurt.  I ate another slice for lunch, just with a smear of honey this time.  That was ok - didn't hurt!   This evening I've just had steamed carrots and cauliflower with a couple of quorn mini eggs.  I'm waiting to see if this is going to hurt!

Last night I had a very small plain jacket potato with a piece of baked fish.  Stupid woman that I am, I didn't remove the batter and it darn near killed me not more than an hour later, and I suffered for hours and hours. Mega strength pain killers didn't touch the pain so I had to chant (yep really) through it.


ANYWAY - enough of the poor me malarkey.

On a cheerier note, have a look at some photos of things that made me smile over the last couple of days!

I had to pop in to Lye yesterday and on the way to the bus stop walked through the churchyard and out on to the Bypass - where I found these at the side of the road.  I'm sure the lorry drivers were intrigued about the Rubenesque woman who was walking like Bambi (cos I was so flippin weak!) up on to the bank at the side of the road to take pictures of toadstools!  Or perhaps not - this is Lye after all - anything goes!)

A closer look

After that I made it to Mum's for a cuppa before my legs gave out.   As usual we had a wander around her pretty little garden where these were growing - they were great until her big German Shepherd mutt big-footed his way through them!

Her little acer tree was back lit by the sun and looked stunning!

No colour enhancers required here! 

Today has been spent at home.  Its been raining heavily again and I was happy to stay indoors, pottering.  I attacked the kitchen with as much gusto as I could muster but got bored and so distracted myself by making this little Halloween tree.

I happened to look out of the kitchen window just as the skies went really dark and was transfixed for a while watching the seagulls wheel around in the sky, their stark whiteness against the dark clouds was beautiful - and then this happened:-

Of course the colours aren't as bright on photograph but this was by far the brightest rainbow I've ever seen.  It seemed to come down right into the field.

A double one at that!

How is your weekend?

See you soon 


Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Simple Woman's Daybook for October

Outside my window... It looks more like November than October.  Dull, misty, dreary, grey and rainy.  Brrr!
I am hearing... the wind whistling down the chimney, the rain absolutely lashing against the back door and Lovely Man's alarm going off playing 'Alternative Ulster' by Stiff Little Fingers.  As much as I love the song - its very intrusive as I'm sitting in relative peace and quiet!

I am thinking... that I hope it stops raining by the time I have to go out.  I don't want to get my new coat wet!

I am thankful... for very strong medication right now, and as ever, the. love and support of my family

In the kitchen...  I've prepared a bacon and butternut squash risotto type thingy for our tea.

I am wearing... a tunic type top but am currently thinking that I need to go seek out more layers cos its blimmin' cold!

I am creating... ripples on my crochet hook!
I am going... To the Doctor's later on.  Exciting huh?

I am wondering... why I always feel so guilty about being off work when I'm genuinely ill.  I've only had one day off this year apart from these last four days and I'm stressing like a stressy thing about it.

I am reading... Country Living Magazine for November and some gardening mags we picked up as a cheapy deal at the Malvern Show. (Twas very good actually - we got Landscape mag, Garden Answers and another gardening one I can't remember PLUS 15 packets of seeds for the princely sum of £3)

I am hoping... that my ultrasound scan appointment will come through very soon so that I can be given a prognosis of what is going on inside.

I am looking forward to... feeling well again
Around the house... lots of mess.  I've decided that despite our redecorating just before c-word last year,  I hate the colours we chose.  I'm so used to warm reds and russets that the hyper chic pale linen colours do nothing for me at all and in my opinion make the room feel uninviting and cold.  I'm hoping that the new red cushions I found in a chazza shop yesterday and finding out my beloved old red curtains will at least break up the monotonous paleness.  Its just not me!

One of my favorite things...  Being inside, listening to the wind howl and the rain lash our little fortress!

A few plans for the rest of the week:  A 'soft' week hopefully.  I'm sincerely hoping that my GP will sign me off for a few days recovery time so that I'm not stressing about work thinking I'm faking my illness.  I'm taking back my living room if my pain levels will let me, and if I can find my other red curtain.  Honestly - how can you lose one curtain?  On Sunday its selection day for Samaritans and again, I'm hoping that I can get to this as I shall be very upset if I can't attend. 

A peek into my day...

Nuff Said?  

Monday, 14 October 2013

Duvet Day

TThank you so much to everyone who commented on my last blog post and for your get well wishes. 

I'm feeling a little bit better now and the medication has brought my pain under control.  

I've had a really lazy day today. Not getting up until 1 o'clock I managed to catch up on some television programs I have missed over the weekend including the brilliant the Great British Year. If you haven't yet seen this amazing programme please check it out on iPlayer.  Catch it before it finishes.  There are four programmes in total covering each of the seasons.  The wildlife photography is second to none and they use timelapse photography to cover the changing of the seasons in incredible detail.

Another of my favourite programs is Country File and in particular this last episode covered a splendid array of beautiful and natural autumnal things.

It has been persistently persisting down today.   It has been wonderful to just simply be here in my cosy home.  I felt the need to bake.  I always seem to do this when I'm ill and some apple spice muffins found their way into the oven and even better than that out on to a plate when freshly baked!  They turned out really nicely. Pleasantly moist and full of good things like pumpkin  pie spice and chopped apple which had gently steamed to a melting softness.  The house smelled yummy. 

In other news:-

Magazines were drooled over. 

Candles were lit.  

Stews were stewed. 

And unfinished crochet projects were rescued from the depths of the under stairs cupboard.  This is probably the third autumn of restarting!!  
Aw. Makes me happy tho. Smiley-happy ziggy-zaggy, colourific completely out of shape blanket. Might be finished one day!

Saturday, 12 October 2013

I'm ill you know..

Hello all. I'm afraid I'm ill. Insert sad smiley face here. I had to go to hospital yesterday with severe stomach pains and chest pains.  As you can imagine it was a very scary time. After an interminable time in accident and emergency department where I had an ECG and lots of blood tests I was transferred to surgical assessment unit whereafter another interminable wait the doctor finally informed me that he thought I had gallstones and an inflamed gallbladder.

I was discharged home in a huge amount of pain with just paracetamol for pain relief.  This morning I woke up in as much pain as I was in yesterday and my partner called paramedics to come to assess me. The paramedics who attended was very surprised that I'd only been discharged with paracetamol and after doing all of her checks  and writing out her report on me which took her just as long as it did to assess me she suggested that I go to my local walk in centre for some stronger pain relief.  As is usually the case with any assessment unit my wait this time lasted two hours during which time I was sick and once finally seen now have antibiotics anti-sickness medication mega strength painkillers and anti spasmodic drugs. 

Thank goodness the drugs are beginning to work and since around 2 o'clock this afternoon I have felt a little more comfortable. Its amazing what the correct medication will do. 

I now have another wait whilst I am referred for an urgent ultrasound scan.  Hopefully this will allow the doctors to further investigate my pain and make a correct diagnosis. 

Wonder of wonders I have dictated this blog post from my new iPhone and am seriously impressed as with only a few minor errors it has typed up everything I've dictated! Wow! The wonders of modern technology. I never thought I would be utilising something so exciting.  The fact that I am lying on my side speaking into my phone which is typing as I talk is blowing my mind!  I am easily pleased but there again I'm ill you know!  Have a wonderful weekend bloglies and I'll speak to you very soon. Love love.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Three Good Things on Thursday

1.  My references checked out okay and I'm on to the next stage of the selection process for The Samaritans.  

2.  I have just got back from THE most sublime meal I've had in a while.  There's a little independent French bistro in town which I've always loved but man doesn't like French cuisine.  (Or anything French for that matter but that's another story).  A friend and I dined from their "Rouge" menu tonight which was three courses from a selection for a very reasonable £16.95.  I chose pate on a bed of apple and celeriac which came with French bread and butter, Beef Wellington and fries and then an Oreo cookie cheesecake.  A cheeky Rose accompanied and a Calypso (Tia Maria) coffee rounded off a superb meal.   Swoon.

3.  This:  All lottie grown by my green-fingered mad bro!  I love this photo - it really made me smile today.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Park Life

Firstly, a very warm 'HELLOOOOO' to my new follower Fran **waves**.  Thank you for visiting my whitterings!

Hello all. 

Today has been a spectacular autumnal day, and as lovely as it was snuggling up to him indoors this morning and sipping coffee in bed, I had a bit of a realisation that we couldn't really guarantee many more sunny weekends this year and that we really should drag our lazy arses out of bed and 'do' something with the day. 

We decided to take a walk to our local park.  Man has never visited our local one since he's been living in this neck of the woods, and its been a good while since I've visited too, put off by a combination of rickety knees, an arthritic back and steep inclines - all of which combine to make a simple pleasure a rather painful one which rather puts one off. 

Stevens Park in Wollescote is a beautiful place.  It dates back to 1282 and has housed many families over the years.  In 1930, a hugely wealthy local business man and great benefactor of the local community, Ernest Stevens, 'gave' the people of Lye and Wollescote the gift of the land along with the house, which was "to benefit the community with the provision that there would be no discussions of politics, drinking of alcohol and ball games on Sundays."   

The changing of the season is becoming more apparent now.  Although the day was unseasonably warm, the colours of the leaves are changing.  The dew veiled the long grass in silver and beech masts, sweet chestnuts and horse chestnut casings covered the ground beneath their parent trees providing a banquet for the ubiquitous local squirrel population.  We saw lots of them this morning foraging and racing up tree trunks to sit chattering at us as we passed underneath.

The big horse chestnut at the bottom of the hill had dropped loads of its spiky encased bounty on to the floor.  I remember this tree from my childhood.  It was one of the best conker providers in the area.  I couldn't resist picking some up and putting them in my pocket.  That wouldn't have happened back in my day.  Every single conker would already have been removed by us local kids and borne home as soon as they started hitting the ground.  Sometimes we gave them a bit of help to fall with a carefully aimed stick.  They would be polished, perhaps pickled or painted with clear varnish to strengthen them followed by the scary bit of trying to make a hole with a bodger or a bradawl without also putting a hole in your own hand. Kitchen drawers were raided to find suitable string to attach and you were then ready to do playground battle on Monday morning.  Tips would be handed down from Grandfathers and Dads on how to preserve a potential prize winner; how best to aim, how to angle your string just right to smash your opponent's  coveted conker to smithereens.    Isn't it sad that this traditional childhood game has been chased out of the playground because of irrational fears about health and safety?   Death by conkering.  I've not heard any reports have you?  I wonder how many kids actually know what a conker is?  I know - perhaps they've invented a conker smashing game for the Xbox or Playstation so the kiddies don't need to go out in all that nasty fresh air type stuff.  Cyber-conkering.  

I digress.

But that's usual here at Peapods isn't it?

Anyways.... here's some photos to look at whilst I go and polish me soapbox. And me conkers of course.  You never know when you'll need a polished conker.  
No its not your eyes - its just a rubbish photo!

There were loads of fungi - I've been looking at Google to identify them - so far I think this one is Fly Agaric

Massive fail on the others though.  Anyone?! 

Ooh I say!   Is that a toadstool in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?


Not sure what these berries are but judging the colour they are more poisonous than a very poisonous poison!
Harvey's still traumatised by that toadstool.

That's better!

Terahh a bit! xx

Working from home

I've taken a precious day of annual leave today.  I've really struggled this week with feeling so yuk and I needed the restorative ...