Sunday 26 November 2023

Another Month Almost Over!

 I certainly lose track of the days and had no idea that I've been absent from here for a three week period.  We seem to have had a run of medical appointments which always manage to affect my health because of the additional driving.  I've also had a bit of a blip with regards to my own health and so there has been a ramping up of some of my Long Covid issues including digestive issues, problematic PoTS and swollen glands/sore throat, muscle aches and pains.

The Chancellor's Autumn Budget and the usual Tory attack on chronically sick and disabled people was incredibly worrying, and since we are stuck on 'welfare' it did not bode well.  I was so fed up of the narrative that we should all be working from home that I decided to undertake my own experiment and the results are as follows:

Jeremy Hunt V A Chronically Sick Person:  Just how easy is it to get a work from home job?

After taking my pills washed down with a morning cup of tea I decided to investigate this conundrum.  For clarity which will become obvious later, I was still in my pyjamas and in bed and it was around 8:30 am.

My first task involved a Google search entitled, 'virtual assistant work from home jobs in the UK.'  I chose the first site that was recommended to me which involved Data Annotation.  After setting up a basic profile I was given a series of tasks to complete, which involved looking at social media images and declaring if they were hateful in any way and if not why not.  I also had to find an NPI number for a counsellor in New York and proof read chatbot responses. In addition there was also a short creative writing piece which necessitated a Google search concerning Sam Bankman Fried.  I was quite pleased with my initial response but in hindsight had neglected to include some form of dancing with regards to the octopus!  If I had been an English examiner I would probably have docked some points to reflect that oversight :-). The whole assessment procedure took well over an hour to complete.

I then decided to check my stats using my trusty Garmin Venu watch and the results were illuminating.  My heart rate had increased significantly (over 105 bpm sitting upright with legs elevated) and my Body Battery had begun to tank (starting battery which measures heart rate variability and blood pressure changes had gone from 47 - 22!), bearing in mind I hadn't even moved from my bed! I have conditions that are made worse by exertion of any kind - cognitive, physical or emotional and as a result my health continued to nose dive that day and my heart rate shot up to 127 bpm just moving around the home and my Body Battery eventually dropped to 6, the worst it has been in over six months.

Government ministers are not medically trained and to arbitrarily declare that all chronically sick people are capable of working is erroneous.  For some folk being able to work from home, provided appropriate disability accommodations  are put in place would work just fine.  For others, myself included, we need to be given the time and space to recover fully and then some form of consistent work might be an option in the future.  Forcing people into work when they are unwell is at best unwise and at worst downright dangerous.

I think it is safe to say that for 'now' you'll find me by the fire with my knitting and/or a good book, and the usual pacing programme to get through each day x 

Wednesday 1 November 2023

All Hallows and All Saints

 Yesterday Pip had fun carving her pumpkin and I enjoyed my time in the kitchen.  For lunch we had Tomato Soup with Cheesy dumplings , courtesy of the I Newspaper weekend recipe file and it was just the thing as it is now Ben's turn to be ill!  For tea I made Sweet potato, mushroom and leek gratin from the New York Christmas Cookbook followed with Pumpkin pie from the same resource and soul cakes courtesy of The Guardian Newspaper.

Sharing the recipe here in case anyone is interested and wants to give it a go:

Tomato Soup with Cheesy Dumplings

1 tbsp olive oil

25 grammes butter

1 large onion finely chopped

1 sweet potato peeled and diced

2 large garlic cloves minced

1 heaped teaspoon of dried basil

2 x 400 gramme cans of chopped tomatoes

500ml vegetable or chicken stock

pinch of sugar (optional)

50ml single cream

For the Dumplings:

125 grammes self raising flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

75 grammes extra strong cheddar cheese

1 egg

50 grammes cream cheese

Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan.  Add the onion and sweet potato and cook them over a gentle heat until softened.  Add the garlic and stir for another minute and then add the tomatoes, dried basil and vegetable stock.  Season with plenty of salt and black pepper.

Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat, cover the pan and simmer for twenty minutes and then blitz the soup until smooth.  Taste for seasoning and then add the sugar and cream if using.

Whilst the soup is simmering for twenty minutes make the dumplings.  Put all the ingredients in a bowl and season well with salt and pepper.  Mix thoroughly into a dough and then form into eight balls.  Drop the balls of dough into the soup and cover the pan and cook for 15 -20 minutes until the dumplings have swelled a little and are cooked right through.  Remove the dumplings before blitzing the soup.

(I decided to put the dumplings in a heat proof bowl, top them with extra cheese and cook under the grill, until the cheese was bubbling and melted. 

Sweet potato gratin, pure comfort food in a bowl.

Pumpkin pie and a soul cake for dessert.

Today was a bit full on with some household tasks hollering at me from the whiteboard 😂  We did however start the day 'right' and having dropped Pip off at college for the day, Dave and I headed over to Booths for one of their cooked breakfasts and a latte, it certainly hit the spot! 

 Since I was my 'future friend' yesterday and had prepped the pastry dough for tonight's meal, it wasn't too much fuss putting the whole thing together.  I also made use of the leftover pumpkin pie mix and added it to my rice pudding and it was delicious ❤️

The recipe was another Smitten Kitchen winner, 'Butternut Squash and Caramelised Onion Galette' and it can be found HERE. The dough pastry was beautifully light and fluffy and complemented the vegetable filling beautifully.  I did make some slight adaptations and decided to add a sprinkling of chilli flakes, paprika, onion salt and garlic powder to the butternut squash mix.  This dish will definitely be a regular item on the meal plan 😊

Since we had stopped sneezing and coughing Dave and I both felt well enough to attend mass this evening which counted for both All Saints and All souls.  Several candles were lit in memory of deceased family members and friends.  It was really lovely to be able to attend mass, such a precious gift x 

Sunday 29 October 2023

Coughing and Spluttering 🙄

 Now it's mine and Dave's turn to be ill.  We tried holding things at bay with the Lemsip First Defence nasal spray but when a virus strikes it just needs to do its thing.  Covid tests have been done and it is just a heavy cold which has exacerbated the PoTS symptoms but all things considered we are managing quite well.  Sad to say though that we have missed church for the second week in a row but it just didn't seem right turning up to church spreading our germs, so we watched online this morning at 9:30 am and joined in with the live recording.  This weekend has included cosy fires, warming foods and lots of knitting 😊

I finished my knitted vest and I'm very pleased with the outcome.  I have just cast on for a pair of knitted slippers ❤️

We also had a diabetes incidence yesterday, we've not had one of those in a very very long time.  To provide cheer and a low carb option, I made crispy baked breakfast pizza for lunch yesterday and  it was thoroughly delicious.  

We also had to venture forth yesterday evening as we needed to pick up some medical supplies from our local pharmacy and to collect a few bits and bobs from Booths.  As a result of the late evening shopping we had spicy thai green soup on hand for today's lunch, followed by our usual pancake treat.  Tonight's tea was that ultimate comfort food meal, the butter chicken with rice only this time I served it with broccoli instead of peas.

Here's hoping this virus will soon shift x 

Wednesday 25 October 2023

Random Photos On A Wednesday


Ben sporting a new Makita T Shirt that he won in a give away on Instagram.

Cutie pie Ottilie pretending to be a bear ❤️

Poppy cat snoozing on her blanket 😊

It's been a pretty low key kind of day.  We had a visit from Dave's old RMC boss and his wife.  When Dave finished work he kept in touch with the boss' wife who was also employed as an administrator for the company.  A few years later they retired back to Oxford but still continued with the yearly Christmas card and catch up letter.  An email last week stated they would be in the area and could they visit and naturally we said yes.  It was really lovely to see them but as usual quite fatiguing for me, so I was glad of my afternoon rest after lunch.

Tonight's tea was a very simple pasta meal - penne pasta and bolognese sauce which i cooked on a low heat on the hob in order to save energy.  The sauce reduced down beautifully and was very tasty.  Whilst tea was cooking I actually managed to tackle the ironing pile as it had been bugging me for over a week, what a relief to tick that job off my whiteboard list!  I hope your Wednesday has gone well x 

Monday 23 October 2023

Kitchen Monday

 Pip had her blood test this morning and it was also our home delivery food shop day, so once we were home from the GP surgery I made a start on 'everything but the fridge' soup 😊. We've been pretty good at not having any food waste so the soup consisted of cauliflower, carrot, celery, onion and potatoes with vegetable stock.  I also used the pizza base recipe to make a garlicky flat bread which I then topped with feta cheese and melted under the grill.

I also made another batch of muffins only this time it was an apple, blueberry and almond mix:

After lunch I went for my usual lie down and Rosary prayers but just towards the end I nodded off.  I must admit I didn't feel too great when I awoke and I reckon it was either a delayed reaction to my Covid vaccine or my body is trying to fight a low grade version of Pip's virus.  I had a real craving for some comfort food and had seen this particular dish on 'Smitten Kitchen's' Instagram earlier in the day.  The recipe wasn't quite a one pan meal as I don't own a cast iron pan that works both on the hob and in the oven, but a lidded frying pan and roasting dish for the oven worked just as well.  The dish was a hit with everyone and I will definitely be making this again 😊

Butter Chicken and the recipe can be found HERE

Happy Monday xx 

Sunday 22 October 2023

A Quiet Weekend

 Pip started with a flu type virus on Friday.  I don't think it is Covid but we tested today and the result was negative, so will test again on Tuesday as sometimes it can take a few days for the virus to show up on tests.  As a result we've pretty much been homebound, save Dave and I going for our Covid jabs on Saturday morning, followed by purchasing sick day supplies, notably Ginger Beer and Salted Crisps 😊. Pip and I camped out in the designated sick bay last night, AKA the lounge as she wasn't feeling great but we both slept quite well all things considered.

Last night's tea was our go to meal, C-Section recovery stew which I have actually made for a C-Section post partum mum, but we have now dubbed it Covid/Flu Recovery Stew!  It contains carrots, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, turmeric, ginger, chilli, lemon juice, vegetable stock, garlic, lentils and cashew nuts.  It is very nourishing and very warming.  This was followed with home made rice pudding ❤️

Recovery Stew

Rice pudding made with whole milk and butter.  I forgot to add the stevia and it was just fine without any sweetening, you can also add grated lemon rind to the mix too.

Today's lunch was home made pizza and salad followed by pancakes.  I didn't have enough eggs to make our usual batch of pancakes so the pizza was a last minute idea to bulk out the meal.  The dough was a breeze to make with the new mixer and consisted of just self raising flour and milk.  For one person the quantities are 85g of self raising flour, a pinch of salt and 50ml of milk.  I fried onions , peppers and a small amount of chorizo for the toppings. I rolled the dough onto greaseproof paper which made transferring to the oven an easy task, and I part cooked the dough for five minutes before adding the pesto sauce, toppings and a sprinkling of cheese.  The dough was then cooked for a further 8-10 minutes.

Hope you have had a blessed Sunday x 


Thursday 19 October 2023

Tiny Tasks On A Thursday

 I had a reflexology appointment this morning which necessitated a drive back to our old stomping ground in Lancaster.  Whilst I had my appointment Dave and Pip had a coffee and cake at The Courtyard Cafe in the grounds of St John's Hospice.  Before the pandemic a group of us used to meet in the hospice chapel for prayers every Monday - that used to be a five minute drive from our old home.

Once I'd collected them after my appointment we nipped to the local post office/convenience store to post a parcel for a friend and this necessitated driving past our old home.  It was a bit of a shock to be honest as the exterior was looking quite shabby and I did wonder whether the house had been sold on again or was now being rented out.  When we arrived at the Post Office an even bigger shock awaited as the old owners had also moved on and that too was looking very run down and disorganised, in fact the whole area had taken a turn for the worse 😕. It confirmed to us that moving on was the best thing for us as a family and don't get me wrong there are issues where we live, notably drug problems in the village but thankfully not in our immediate vicinity.

After lunch I had my usual afternoon rest and prayer time followed by some sitting down sorting in the kitchen.  The new kitchen appliance comes with various accoutrements and I needed to find homes for them all 😂. Thankfully with a bit of judicious pruning of unwanted items I succeeded and even the cutlery drawer had a good clean.

Thanks to meal planning tea was a very simple affair, baked salmon, baked potatoes and petite pois.  No more kitchen duty for me today, it's time for knitting and reading 😁

Wednesday 18 October 2023

A New Kitchen Helper

 Our Vitamix blender finally went kaput over the weekend, but I cannot grumble as we bought it when Pip was just two and she'll be fifteen in December!  Over the years kitchen aid technology has advanced quite a bit and this time we opted for a multifunctional system.  I spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking meals from scratch but especially now with the Long Covid and PoTS issues, things can be quite tricky despite using a perching stool and trying to factor in rest breaks.

This Bosch MUM creation mixes, whisks, grates and even blends - the liquidiser attachment connects on to the top of the machine.  As a result of this machine, carrots were grated to add to our lunch time salad and I managed to batch cook some raspberry, oat and polenta muffins, savoury chilli and onion muffins and a regular cornbread.  Whilst we were out (Dave had a neuro physio appointment 30 minutes away) the beef and vegetable chilli was cooking in the instant pot, and it was just a case of cooking the rice once we returned home 😊

Raspberry muffins at the back and savoury at the front.


Raspberry muffins.

Dinner is served 😋

Monday 16 October 2023

Monday Moments

 Ben was at the decking job in Great Ecclestone this morning and since it was a short visit it made sense for me to stop in the car, so I brought a mending job that was on my list:

The zip was no longer functioning in my grey Lands End coat so step one was to remove the existing one before replacing with the newer version.

After he had finished with his site inspection and organised phase two of the project it was time to head home, but as a thank you we stopped at Myerscough Plant World Cafe, and Ben bought me a latte.  Interestingly we sat in the exact same spot many moons ago (2011)when Sara was a student.  You can take a trip down memory lane if you like and see the blog post here

This afternoon has involved sewing said zipper into the coat.  It would have taken me a fraction of the time to use my machine but I wasn't feeling too great today (my body has not liked being upright 🤪) so I put my feet up on the sofa and have slowly hand stitched my way along the coat 😊

For tea we had another meal from last week's cookbook but gah is was difficult with the pastry!  Greek yogurt is used in a lot of their pastry style dishes as a cheaper alternative to butter and to speed up the whole process, but it did make the dough more difficult to roll out.  However it was worth it as the pasties were really tasty and there are enough for lunch tomorrow, so that's a win!

The filling is one medium sweet potato, one small courgette and one leek finely chopped, 80g of extra mature cheddar cheese, 70g cottage cheese, a dessertspoon of left over clotted cream and a drizzle of water to help combine.

The dough mix was 300g self raising flour, 2 teaspoons of onion salt and 180g greek yogurt.  Mix all the ingredients to form a dough, adding a little cold water if necessary to combine.

I rolled the dough into a rough circular shape, added the filling and then formed a pasty shape with each round of dough.  The pasty's were cooked in the oven at 200C for 15 minutes and then 180C for a further 15 minutes.  Since the vegetables are finely sliced the cooking action within the pasty mimics a steaming effect and so there is no need to sauté the veg before cooking.

Sunday 15 October 2023

Saturday Chores and Sunday Knitting

 Yesterday was quite a productive day 😊. I managed to sort the laundry and do a 'swish and swipe' of both bathrooms and since this task is done on a daily basis it did not take long at all.  Ben cleaned his bedroom and then vacuumed the top floor, landing and stairs.  Pip hung out the washing and mopped the upstairs bathroom floor.

Whilst the kids were busy with their chores I prepped the veg for the evening meal and set it to cook on a low heat and also made larger dough balls to see if they would work as a 'bun' alternative.  Once the buns were cooked we served them with sausages.  They were declared a winner by everyone else but I don't do well with a heavy carb meal, it makes the PoTS symptoms worse, so I gave half of mine for Dave and Pip to share. 

 I'm hoping I can tweak the recipe by adding either some ground almond or even polenta to make the dough less heavy.  I miss being able to eat regular gluten free bread because of the additives and yeast content and a lot of the non yeast bread mixes contain heaps of egg white which also contains histamine, so a big no at this end.

I had my usual planned rest and rosary prayers after lunch followed by a spot of knitting.  Soon it was time to head out the door for church and Ben was left in charge of overseeing the casserole and adding last minute fixings in time for our arrival home around 7pm.

Roasted veg and mozzarella topping served with corn on the cob, yummy!

Since Dave's birthday a few weeks ago we have begun a Sunday tradition of pancakes for lunch and since I prepared the batter last night before bed, they were pretty quick to make.  Considering I had done more than I usually would yesterday, I made sure to factor in minimal activity today.  This morning I read some of my book and this afternoon knitting was the order of the day:

No shawl this time, it is a sleeveless jumper in a soft grey.  Most of the pattern is in simple stocking stitch with an easy pattern detail across the upper part of the garment.

Hope your weekend has been all that you needed it to be ❤️

Friday 13 October 2023

Home Grown Harvest

 I was given some free seeds from a permaculture friend and the winter squash was very successful.  I harvested this one a few days ago and decided to add it to our evening meal.  We had broccoli, squash and pasta carbonara with home made gluten free dough balls.  The meal was really lovely and the dough balls were a real hit but blimey there was a lot of 'plate spinning' when it came to the timings, and being upright for that length of time, even though I was sat on the perching stool was not great 🙄. So although I would not make that particular meal in its entirety again, the dough balls will definitely be in future meal combination ❤️

Wednesday 11 October 2023

Thirty Five Years and A Book Surprise

 Dave and I celebrated 35 years of married life today but dang it neither of us could remember the exact time we said, 'I will' 😂. I've got a feeling it was late morning or over the lunch time period 😁. To celebrate we visited our favourite place which is a five minute drive down the road.  I had my usual 'safe foods' which was chicken goujons and fries and Dave had chicken caesar salad.  We both shared a plate of nachos and some gluten free onion rings.  He also enjoyed a mahoosive dessert of which I had some of the cream but my treat was an almond milk latte and very nice it was too.

Feet up cos yeah Pots doesn't stop 🤪

An anniversary silly selfie.

Pip had fun choosing the card and the lovely cyclamen plant in her lunch break at college.  That lovely lass has really blossomed since starting Myerscough.  She's had to deal with all sorts of issues but in turn has developed a shed load of resilience and resourcefulness.  We are really proud of her ❤️

The wonders of book loving blogging friends 😊. My lovely blogging friend Kezzie sent these brilliant reads and they arrived first thing this morning.  I love the Kate Shackleton mysteries but they are often hard to find at our local library.  Once Kezzie knew that I was a fellow fan, she offered me her collection ❤️. I think it's safe to say that these will be my next round of Long Covid recovery reading over the next few months - once I've finished my current war time trilogy 😂

Tuesday 10 October 2023

Ten Month Post Covid Update

 I've noticed some glimmers this past month:

I'm now able to clean my teeth whilst standing.

The whiteboard is back in use. At the start of each week I brainstorm little tasks that I would like to accomplish over the course of the week, and in the main most of them get done.

Knitting and reading are still part of my covid recovery and self care.

To help improve my cognitive function I pick out one recipe book to work from and plan the week's menus from that source.

I'm working with an OT therapy practitioner from the Long Covid Clinic and together we have worked out tasks that are spread throughout the week.  I've also been really focused on implementing targeted rest times throughout the day: 10:30-11:00, 2:30-3:00 and 6:30-7:00.

I regularly take a targeted range of supplements (guided by a qualified nutritionist) but this past month I also added a daily supplement of 200mg Co-Enzyme Q10 and I do believe this has helped my energy levels.

I'm still dealing with MCAS, PoTS, and Long Covid issues which impact me on a daily basis but with pacing, resting and really listening to my own 'ecosystem,' I am making small, slow and sustainable increments which is encouraging to see 😊

Butterbean, roasted onion and lemon hummous served with vegetable sticks and tortilla chips.

Chilli and onion cornbread.