A little treat.

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As I said the other day, we are changing the way we eat thanks to my refound zest in the kitchen. It is helping us all, as we are getting much healthier options. I have invested in several new cookbooks – it doesn’t take much to persuade me to buy a cookbook! I have bought some of the Weight Watchers books, as I am following their eating plan, I thought it was a good idea! I suppose I am quite a fussy eater, in that I know what I like and I know what I don’t like, and it takes a lot for me to try something out of my comfort zone. Since having the kids though I have been far less open about my likes and dislikes. I think it is important that they develop pallets of their own, and not have their minds set against things because we have told them we don’t like them – Hubby is a great example of someone brainwashed as a child into not liking certain foods, he honestly believed he didn’t like a lot of things he had never tried, simply because he was told they weren’t nice, or simply wasn’t exposed to them. I suppose everything we do as parents does influence our children, either positively or negatively, as we try to teach them right from wrong, but I think it is important that they learn many things from giving it a go.    I have often served food I don’t particularly like, just so they can try it, and they very much have their own likes as a result.

As we adapt our eating habits, I have made a real effort to make sure there are snacks and nibbles available for the children, and the adults too! Crisps and sweeties are no longer found in our house, but instead, there are rice cakes, and fruit snacks. I have also been making cakes, and biscuits. All three of the lunch bags I make daily, like something sweet, a pudding, in them, so I have been looking for ideas, that aren’t loaded with fat and sugar.

One such recipe I found in the Weight Watchers Cook Smart Baking book. It is for Golden Raspberry Cakes. To be honest the picture in the book doesn’t look too appetising, but the recipe sounded good, and so I thought I would try it. They looked much better in reality than I had expected them to!

2 eggs – separated
200g low fat natural yoghurt
150g apple sauce
100g dried polenta or cornmeal
3 tabs artificial sweetner
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
150 g raspberries

Mix the egg yolks, yoghurt, apple sauce.
Stir in the polenta and sweetener.
in a separate bowl whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar to a soft peak.
Fold the batter into the egg whites.
Spoon into 8 cake cases.
Gently push the raspberries into the buns.
Bake for 20 mins at 180c.

When they came out, they were light and fluffy, and the fruit had cooked enough to be almost jam like. In the original recipe, half of the fruit was stirred through the batter, but I found it much easier to get it evenly distributed to do by adding it once it was in the cake cases. I have also made these with strawberries, just slicing then before adding, and blackberries make a lovely autumn treat!    I think any soft fruit would be great.

Fresh from the oven, they are totally delicious, but also they are great in lunch boxes. All three of my men devoured them without questioning their contents!

There are plenty of other great recipes in the book – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cook-Smart-Baking-Weight-Watchers/dp/0857204513/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1411470121&sr=8-1&keywords=cook+smart+baking   I have to be honest and say I didn’t pay that for it, as I bought it for just £3.99 in my local garden centre! It is a fab book though, and I think well worth the full price for it.

Suddenly her age.

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My relationship with my Mum has been quite up and down over the years. I love her to bits, and I am sure I always will, after all, she is my Mum. Like most close relationships though we have clashed quite regularly over the years. When I was at college, I suppose I was going through a time of self discovery, and we didn’t get on at all, so much so that when I left home, I moved to a ting village in the middle of nowhere in North Wales to work in a hotel. It was a lovely job, and I met some great people. I think however, going to far away, made me realise how much I actually needed my family, and I therefore moved closer to home a couple of years later, finally moving back home when I was offered a job a stones throw from there.

When my Dad died, it made us close. My brother lived away, and so we didn’t see much of him. We therefore started doing things together, and I suppose for the first time in my life, we became chums. When Hubby and I decided to get together, one thing I stated without hesitation was I couldn’t move to the other end of the country without her – and by then I had actually bought the family home so needed to sell it if I moved!!    She agreed to the move, saying it was my time now.

She has become more frail over the past few years, but as much as she sometimes annoys the hell out of me, she has been mentally competent, even if her body hasn’t always kept up with her.

She is presently waiting for a hip realignment, having had the original one put in about 20 years ago. The consultant was quite blunt with her, telling her that because of her age the operation might kill her. Not really the thing you want to hear when you are awaiting surgery, but I suppose they have to give you worst case scenario. I do though think these comments about her age have had an impact on her, and she started to realise she was in the final chapter. Her whole mental attitude seemed to change. We have had a lot of flippant comments about how she’s not going to be about for much longer and things like that.     I think it has made her consider her own existence.

Last week she started complaining about feeling unwell. Now, I am not good with poorly people, and so I said, either go to the doctors or stop moaning – not quite in those words but that was my inference. To my surprise, she made an appointment to see the doctor for that day. The doctor said she had an abscess on her bum – now if it wasn’t so serious there would be numerous joke I could make at this point, but I will choose not to. She has been given antibiotics, and told it’ll take about a week before she feels any better. She started the course of medication on Friday, and on Saturday, she got up as normal, but looked terrible, so I suggested she went back to bed, which she did without complaint. She has now been in bed for 2 days, going into the third. Today I moved her to our bed, so I could change her sheets, and give her a wash. She is still complaining about feeling terrible, and she looks it. She suddenly looks her age. She is a frail old lady who need help to wah and change her PJ’s.    It is a shock to see her looking so ill.    When the child becomes the parent, it changes so many thing.

I suppose seeing her like this makes me think about her mortality, and that is really scary. This year her brother, my Uncle died, and just this past week, her cousin has died. This can’t be doing her mental state much good to see people of a similar age to her no longer with us. The thought of being without her, fills me with dread and fear. I know the day will come but I had never really imagined it before, now, seeing her poorly and helpless, makes me scared.

For now though we will concentrate on getting her better. I will continue running up and down the stairs with cups of tea, and her medication at the appropriate times, and hope that once she gets over this, then she will be back to her usual moaning status!

A Cheesey Obsession.

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During the summer I had a birthday. I am told I am very difficult to buy for, predominately because I never actually want anything! I therefore usually end up with vouchers, so I can get something for myself. More often than not, these vouchers tend to be from Lakeland – http://www.lakeland.co.uk/Homepage.action, because then I buy stuff that I would like and use, and not end up buying things for the kids – but even from them I can find something they want so I treat them. This time I bought ice lolly makers for them – http://www.lakeland.co.uk/16585/Zoku-Orange-Single-Quick-Pop-Maker, and they are brilliant, as they totally do what they say on the box, and you can make an ice-lolly in 10 minutes with the likes of orange juice. I would definitely recommend them.

I am however not wanting to talk about that today, and as usual I digress.

I spent ages trolling through the website, putting everything that took my fancy into the basket before going back and editing it completely to get it to a figure closer to the value I had to spend! I decided to go with things I wouldn’t necessarily spend my own money on, so in other words just something I really fancied – hence the lolly makers, which even though they were in the sale at the time, are quite expensive. The one thing that really caught my eye was a kit to make cheese. Something I had never really considered making before. Cheese comes from the supermarket, and its eaten, end of story! I thought it sounded fun, and so decided to go for it. The kit I chose was from Mad Millie – http://www.lakeland.co.uk/18086/Mad-Millie-Hard-Cheese-Kit It contained everything you needed, from chemicals, to thermometer and press, and the measuring spoons included have fabulous terms on them from dash to smidgen! The only thing you need to add is the milk and a pan to cook it in.

D was really excited by this, as he if a total cheese addict, and was desperate to help, so I put off trying it until a time he could help. It was extremely simple, as long as the instructions are followed. D did all the sciency bits, adding the chemicals, while I got the arm aching job of stirring! We were both really excited when we first saw the curds had set, and then separated nicely from the whey. The press has a pressure gauge on it, so we carefully timed each setting, and were very excited the next morning when we had a rubbery lump, that actually looked a little like cheese! It then had to air dry for a week before coating in wax – that was also included in the kit. We now have a perfect lump of cheddar, maturing in the kitchen cupboard.

We have also tried the recipes for Cheshire, Red Leicester, Havatti, and Colby. Some are waxed, while others air dry to form a natural crust. The havatti, has to be brined every couple of days, and D has been doing it without having to be asked. The cheese kit may have been my toy, but the maturing product has definitely become his baby! Each type of cheese has a different recommended maturing time, and D has marked the calendar with which one is ready on which date!

Yesterday was Red Leicester day. It was the first of our cheeses to be ready, as it was the one that needed the least time to mature. D was very excited – as was I, and we were trying it before breakfast! It looked like cheese, and it smelled like cheese, but I was honestly a little nervous about trying it. We cut a slice and removed the rind, and what we had was more of an edam texture than that of red Leicester, but the flavour was amazing! We had produced cheese! I think we were both proud of our achievements! D has told me he will be having a cheese sandwich in his lunch bag tomorrow!

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I am amazed how simple it actually was to make. You do have to follow the instructions and make sure temperatures and timings are right, but it isn’t overly complicated. The one thing I did do which wasn’t according to the instructions was, I used 1% milk rather than the full fat it stated, but it seems to have still worked perfectly. I might just have to experiment with other types of milk!

Now, when I said it was the first of our cheese we tried, that isn’t quite the truth. We were so taken by the whole cheese making thing, that I was researching recipes for other types of cheese. I came across a recipe for mozzarella, and thought I would give it a go. To say it was beyond simple is an understatement! This is the recipe I used, but there are loads out there http://www.forgreenies.com/make-mozzarella-cheese-in-30-mins-no-microwave-needed. D loved helping with the stretching of the curds, but has asked me to get him some smaller rubber gloves for next time!! He has even invited some of his friends over to have pizza with us next time we make it!!      Even M who isn’t the greatest cheese lover in the world enjoyed seeing how far he could stretch the strand of cheese when he was eating it!

Another cheese we tried making is cottage cheese. I love cottage cheese, probably because of a life time of dieting, it is just a staple food for me. This though was something else. The texture, the look and the smell were just as I would have expected, but the taste is something I can only describe as being clean. It was so fresh in my mouth. D just sat there and ate it from the tub I had put it in, and it didn’t last long!    I will definitely be making this again very soon!

I think I have totally been bitten by the cheese making bug, and will keep trying and experimenting. Over the next few weeks we will be having our first tastes of the different varieties we presently have maturing, and I am positively excited by the prospect. I think I will be making cheese hampers for family and friends for Christmas, so will be busy over the next few weeks!

Now, someone pass me the crackers!

Onward and upward.

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This year has been a constant flow of health issues for me. I have usually been a healthy person. I’ve suffered with my throat, but other than that, colds seem to pass me by. This year though, I seem to have had problems after problems. Nothing major, and in fact I feel bad to be moaning when so many people in the world are seriously ill, but it seems to have been a catalogue of everything at once.

This all might have been the reason why I took a long hard look at myself and went to the doctors armed with a list of all the things that were wrong. My severe anemia has been the doctors main concern, and I have now been taking high doses of iron tablets for 6 months. They are no closer to discovering why it is such a problem, and are just marking it down to the terrible time I had when my tonsils were removed at the beginning of the year. I’m not so sure that’s the reason as its something I have had problems with for as long as I can remember, and just think I’m one of these people who doesn’t absorb enough iron. I have had so much blood taken over the last few months, I think that might actually be part of the problem!!!! I have now stopped taking the tablets, so we will see how long it is before the fatigue kicks in again. The doctor has been really good and when I said previously that when my blood count goes up, its ticked off as sorted, but she has said that she will review it in another 6 months, just to see whats happening. It’s good to have someone who is proactive.

Anyone who may have read my ramblings about my symptoms before the summer, may remember that the doctor was putting most things down to my age, as my Mother had gone through the change in her mid-forties, there was a strong possibility that was what was going on with me. She therefore prescribed me some tablets to help with the mood swings and the irritability. Now these chill pills are amazing. They are actually a medication for mild depression, and they have totally lifted me. The difference is amazing. I actually commented to her at my last appointment that I wish I had been given these when I hit rock bottom a few years back so I wouldn’t have been living with the darkness over me. Of course she couldn’t comment on the course of action taken by another doctor. I am therefore not sure if it is the on set of menopause or if it is depression that is being treated, but either way, I feel great.

I think the easiest way to describe how I feel, if that I feel like me again. I have regained my zing for life, and I think that is helping the whole household. Even Old person isn’t irritating the hell out of me all the time!!!!   I am much calmer with the way I deal with every day life, rather than fretting about everything.

Getting my love of life back has mostly manifested itself in the kitchen. I love to cook, always have, despite working in the catering industry since I left college! Recent year though, my can’t be bothered attitude has really been visible with the meals I have placed in front of the family. I have now rediscovered my love of cooking, and am loving baking bread, and cakes every day as well as cooking from scratch. It has inspired me to think about what we are eating, and I have now signed up to WeightWatchers online – I just don’t think I could face a room full of ladies and attend the classes. I have managed to lose half a stone in the past month, and it was lovely when somebody commented they thought I’d lost weight! Hubby cycles 15 miles a day, so the weight is naturally dropping off him. D though is the one who is most noticeable. He is loving having homemade treats every day, not realising they are low-fat and sugar-free most of the time. It is good to see the boys wanting to have homemade healthy things rather than asking from crisps and sweeties.    Passive learning is more likely to stay with anyone than being lectured about how to make the right choices.

I am enjoying life at the moment. I am not saying these tablets have been a miracle cure, but right now they are holding my demons at bay and making life a positive experience again.

Long may that continue!

Its been a while.

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I have really neglected and missed  my ramblings here. It seems that life has got in the way of sitting down and thinking about it. I suppose that’s a good thing really, to live life is so much more rewarding than just pondering it.

The school summer holidays came and went. They were pretty uneventful. Now, many people would find that a little bit of a let down, but in a family where ASD is the master of the house, uneventful is a major plus.

We went away to the Lake District for a week with the boys. The weather was marvellous, which always makes everything better, but it is such a beautiful part of the country, that even in the rain it is magical. Hubby and I have been there several times before, so it was nice to share it with the children. We did stay at Haven. We thought this was the best option for the boys as it was a style of environment they know and enjoy, with characters they trust. Having this style of familiar surroundings, made going to a new place much easier for them. It was a lovely family break which we all came back totally chilled from.

The rest of the holidays seemed to fly past. We did a bit of out and about, but once the weather turned, the boys were happy to stay in. They have discovered Stampy. For those of you that don’t have children, Stampy is a guy that plays video games, and posts his endeavours to YouTube. We had monitored very closely this type of thing before, as the language of some people doing this can be totally unsuitable for children, but with Stampy, he pitches it perfectly to his audience, with only an occasional “bloody”, but I’ve heard nothing worse. Both boys can watch him for hours, and they are creasing themselves up at it. It is lovely to hear, especially from M who has the most infectious laugh, which sadly isn’t heard often enough.

The summer was over too quickly. I think the boys enjoyed their break, but if it had been any longer they would probably have been getting quite restless. I would actually go as far as to say that it was the best time off school either of them have spent.

School is now back in full swing, and I will catch you up on that another day.

Keep Training Those Dragons

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Originally posted on The World of Neil:

Yesterday was end of term for Matthew and Daniel, and we had a timely treat in store for the boys. How To Train Your Dragon 2 hit the big screen this week. Matthew has been waiting for this to come out as soon as he’d seen the first instalment.

How to Train Your Dragon introduced us to Hiccup, son of Chief of Berk, Stoic. Hiccup isn’t an ordinary Viking, and can’t bring himself to kill dragons. In fact, he goes the other way and befriends a nightfury dragon, Toothless. Together, they change the course of Berk and make peace between the Vikings and the dragons.

The sequel picks up the story 5 years later and introduces a threat to Berk and the freedoms of the dragons. I’ll not give out any spoilers. But any fear of the sequel to a great introduction being a disappointment was soon dispelled. The story…

View original 200 more words

Back to Health Square One.

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I have now completed all the tests that were to discover what was wrong with me – now now, I don’t need that level of cheek!

My heart scan came back to say I had a happy healthy heart.    That’s very reassuring to know!

My colonoscopy came back to say there was nothing wrong with my lower tubes, other than the usual wear and tear that everyone gets as they get older.

My blood tests said my cholesterol was within accepted parameters. My blood sugar level was fine. I think these are the ones that annoy the doctor most as a fat person should have high cholesterol and be border line diabetic so they can preach to them about not following a healthy lifestyle, but I’m happy to report they are all fine.

The one problem seems to be that despite tasking the highest dose of iron tablets they are allowed to prescribe for the past three months, my iron levels are still ridiculously low. The GP has been wonderful and been honest that she is running out of ideas. She tested me for coeliac having read a paper saying they was a tentative link between unexplained anemia and gluten intolerance, but that came back negative. With the tests showing I had nothing bleeding in my internal tubes we were totally back to square one. There I sat having spent the past 30 year being anemic, but the one difference this time was I had a doctor who was trying to find out why and that was quite reassuring. Her conclusion is two-fold. She believes because I don’t eat much meat and rarely red meat, my diet just doesn’t contain enough iron to sustain healthy blood. She also thinks that I may just have a body that doesn’t absorb iron effectively, and therefore the little I am getting just is not being processed effectively. She went through the types of food that would be good to add to my diet, and every single one of them I was rejecting as things I didn’t like! I wasn’t being awkward just food I genuinely do not like. She said she was going to speak to somebody at the hospital about it, as it may mean I could get iron injections which would get into my system better. We will see if anything comes of that!

We then went through the list she had asked me to think about of all my unexplained symptoms to see if they could maybe throw light on what was going on with my blood.

The first one was something I had done some research on as it is something that makes people laugh when I mention it, and I wanted to see if she agreed with my findings. When I take caffeine, I don’t get a buzz, but it makes me really tired to the point of two cups of coffee have me wanting to curl up and go to sleep. I therefore try to take decaffeinated whenever possible – I have become addicted to redbush tea as it tastes so much better than traditional black tea! My research had said that this could have been connected to my anemia, and the doctor agreed. It seems that caffeine is a vasoconstictor (it shrinks your blood vessels) thereby, it increases your heart rate and blood pressure. Because my blood is lacking to start with, making it move faster, just makes me tired!
I suppose that makes sense!!!

My inability to drink still water was one that she said is far more common than people would imagine! Because I have excessive stomach acid it is affected by the water, just like throwing water on a fire, it makes the acid flare up! Now I know!!!

All the other symptoms I was describing, she agreed with me are probable age related. My Mum went through the change mid-40’s so it’s possible I’m starting that. She gave me some tablets to calm my moods, and help with my headaches. We will see if they do anything. When you just feel odd for feeling under the weather all the time, but never really ill, it is good to know you aren’t going mad!!!    I know I am already mad, you don’t need to tell me that, I should have said madder.

For now, I will have to continue taking that iron pills and wait to see if there is anything else that the GP comes up with that might explain why I am so strange! I just like being an anomalie, after all, who wants to be just like everyone else?