After the migraine

Last weekend I was felled by a migraine, I didn’t get the shawl finished as I’d hoped. I’ve spent most of the week asleep or wishing I could sleep.

Blaze of Glory was completed on Wednesday. It’s not yet blocked as I type, but I can’t do that until I’ve managed to rid the place of the smell of vinegar (yes, again!). Once I get it blocked and gorgeous I’ll post a photo.

I couldn’t believe it this week. One thing after another. If it wasn’t migraine it was stress headache. When that did finally clear thanks to total avoidance of caffeine and chocolate and much rest, I came down with a cold.

I started to feel properly human on Friday, so I boiled 30 eggs. You see, pickled eggs are remarkably easy to make and tasty to eat, and best of all; they’re a free snack on slimming world. So, 30 eggs, two large jars from IKEA, two pints of distilled vinegar and I have some fantastic snacks awaiting me, ready to eat in around three weeks. Happy days!

Finally today, after coating the cats in diatomaceous earth (good flea treatment and non toxic), I descended on a box of Bramleys I optimistically bought just before I got so ill. The vinegar pong around here is due to the fact that if you add sugar and dried fruit and salt and pickling spice to apples and boil it all up, it will blend down to a cracking five pints of brown sauce with the nicest little kick I’ve tasted in a while.

I think that’s all my cooking projects for a little while but I have knitting and crochet and sewing projects merrily awaiting me so I suspect they’ll keep me busy for the foreseeable future.

Take care one and all.

Side note, it’s the 75th anniversary of the night that Coventry was blitzed, so I’m saying a private prayer for those who remember and for those who don’t but have been affected by it since then. Only a few weeks ago a huge bomb had to be dealt with not far from where I work.

Father, Forgive.

Categories: Food, Fun Stuff, Life, Plans | Leave a comment

Tomato relish to a bass beat

I have been making tomato relish on and off for years. I picked up my recipe from a friend who is now very elderly. I’m a bit funny about textures so I usually end up blending the finished product to a smooth ketchup texture and eating it that way.

I’ve got six old fashioned bottles from IKEA. The sort that have the stopper attached with a wire contraption around the neck. According to my dad its the same design as the post war lemonade bottles. I like them a lot, they seal well and look good, so as far as I’m concerned, if it aint broke don’t fix it!

I used to complain lots about my previous upstairs neighbour playing music loudly. My friends and family would chuckle into their cups of tea about my shouting about “M and her plastic pop” on a regular basis. If anything my new neighbours play music more often, and its much more bass and rap (rap being a genre I have made no secret about really disliking) but the attitude of these people is vastly different to “M”. She was rude to everyone and didn’t care who she offended in the least. To be honest I think she had alienated so many people I don’t think she had many friends. These people just appear to live life. They like music but just live their lives, and I’m pretty sure that if I were to meet them they’d be really friendly.

So yes, Today I’m boiling up the ingredients for tomato relish/ketchup to some very bass-y music courtesy of upstairs. It’s all good fun. The flat also reeks of vinegar and the tall one has complained and shut his bedroom door!

Final note, as I’ve been blogging and boiling, I have got my six bottles of ketchup. it all looks fantastic and it’ll be ready to eat in a few weeks.

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Old fashioned home maker

There’s definitely something of my grandparents in me – all four of them!

This time of year I have a definite hankering to be busy preserving things. So I made home made pickled onions.

I found a good market stall in central Coventry that sold pickling onions, another shop sold me a 5 litre can of malt vinegar. Some years ago i picked up packets of pickling spices, so all I needed was time really.

I sat down on Friday night and spend four hours peeling them into a pan of salt water to brine overnight (rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle or what!) and then lunchtime Saturday while the Tall One was out with our parents I took them out of the brine and packed them in glass jars, shook over them one of my pickling spices packets and then topped up with vinegar and sealed them.

The jars are now in what used to be an airing cupboard and is now my extra kitchen storage cupboard, waiting to be joined by bottles of ketchup and brown sauce and mincemeat. After Christmas will come Marmalade.

I made a rod for my back with marmalade. I like my own best. If it’s not tangy it’s not proper. It is possible to buy good marmalade – at four times what it costs to make and without the pleasure of making and seeing the bounty of jars in the cupboard. Then my mother tasted it, and I ended up making a batch for her. As I enjoy the process I didn’t mind, but then someone else asked me for a batch and supplied me with four times the ingredients. Oh my Lord, was that a busy day! Fortunately it was right at the end of marmalade season and I’ve had almost a year to recover. I doubt I’ll be asked to make that quantity again.

Anyway. The onions are pickling and the smell has finally left my hands, so I’ll return to my knitting.

Take care!

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The waiting is over

Many moons ago, I started blogging on another site and the title was “Raecheybaby’s Allotment” and it was to be about the things I did, the things I grew, the things I cooked yada, yada all to do with this allotment I wanted. Well, I waited four years in Bedford and never heard a word back about getting a plot to dig.

Then I moved to Rugby and when the turmoil of losing Dan and losing my job and losing my grandparents died down a bit, I looked into it again, and some time in May last year I put myself on the waiting list for a plot somewhere near me.

Finally, almost 18 months after putting myself on that list and writing lists of everything I might possibly want to grow and trying to think of the equipment I’ll need and who might help me, I have a letter in my hand announcing that I can call a lady and arrange to see some plots! So sometime next week I will be committing myself to growing veggies – the positives of this are getting outside more often, losing weight due to eating more veggies and losing weight through the sheer effort required to dig and tend my plot

I can’t wait!

Categories: Allotment, Beginning, Dan, Food, Hope, Plans | Leave a comment

Now I get it

 I love weather and watching the seasons and the varying weather events that happen. As you can imagine, I’ve watched the arrival of the remnants of hurricane Katia with some interest.

It’s been pretty blustery all day today and I’ve gone from wanting to be outside non stop experiencing it to slightly worried about damage to trees and property. Mostly wanting to stand outside and enjoy it, which is a little difficult when you are trying to stir melting ingredients for flapjack!

It was all change on the work front again today. A few weeks age I was sent to help with sickness cover in one place and then a bit suddenly they decided everything was ok (after I’d been there a few weeks) and that someone else might need me more. It was a little unsettling but it’s turned out ok. The people I worked with on tuesday now get the pleasure of me on monday and the people I work with on thursday now also get me on tuesday. Get your head round that!

I am still very much loving the work and the people I work with and for. I still wish I could have done this years ago and missed out some of the pain of the last few years, but I know that I can’t see the bigger picture and I have to deal with what comes be it good or bad.

Categories: Food, General, observations | Leave a comment

Learning to be thrifty

I’m learning the hard way how to be thrifty these days. My pay is about two-thirds of what it was, and I’m having to learn how to live more thriftily than I ever have. Initially it’s not been fun, I can’t be generous in the way I used to be. Brands that I used to buy routinely are now being replaced for cheaper ones or not bought at all, depending on how important something is to me.

Living thrifty affects everything, but I’m determined to live well with it, so imagination is going to play a large part in this. How to live well and spend as little as possible, how to make cost savings in as many places as possible while still living well and maintaining my hobbies as far as I can.

Walking costs nothing and it’s something I still enjoy doing. I’ll still go on holiday to the campsite I’ve been to before, although I’ll be there a day or two less than usual. I still enjoy knitting and actually I want to resurrect the crochet that I used to do as a little girl. I’ve heard of recycling charity shop knitwear, so as my wool stash goes down I shall be hunting for prizes that are a nice colour and fibre but aren’t necessarily a nice item to wear that I can unravel and reknit or recrochet into something better.

I do fully intend to continue with my real coffee habit; but it’s likely to be the only one I pursue,  most other luxury foods and drinks I have no objection to replacing. I’m already seeing pain ahead with not allowing myself to buy clothing that I don’t need and keeping book shopping as the stuff of treats and celebration. I suspect that this blog is going to become a place where I post what I learn about how to live well for less.

Take care.

Categories: Food, Hope, Life, observations, Plans, Shopping | Leave a comment

Catching up

Its been a long time since I posted last. There has been a mix of reasons for that, starting with seasonal depression and going on through long shifts and just trying to have a social life of any kind.

The improving weather has helped a lot, I’m coping well and needing less sleep at night now. Sheer bull-headedness has helped me push through more of it. I’m discovering that by keeping on going I have developed stamina generally, and from needing to spend my days off in bed I now feel capable of getting up and doing something about the housework. Today I managed to get the vast majority of my housework done and my washing is hanging outside in the sun.

One of my main coping strategies is to knit. Anything from scarves to sweaters and beyond. for some reason that I don’t quite understand it seems to calm me as well as boost my mood. I’m quite a social knitter, so the projects I take on tend to be simple enough that it’s harder to make mistakes. I do have more than one project on the go, so if one starts to get complex I can put it away until I’m alone to work out the pattern without distractions and pick up a simpler one in the meantime.

One thing I miss these days is cooking. I often work 12 hour shifts and believe me when I say that at the end of one when I’ve cycled nearly an hour to get home I don’t want to do any fancy cooking! if it takes more than ten minutes I don’t do it. Fancy stuff has to wait until my day off.

I need to get my camera out more really. I want to start doing a regular picture-only post, which I suppose means that I need to post a big more often! We will see what happens. I want to try and be more versatile and do more than read, knit, eat and sleep if I’m not working.

Right, the sun is out, there’s coffee in the pot and I’m going to combine the two. Take care.

Categories: Food, Fun Stuff, Life, observations | Leave a comment

I have to tell someone

I lost weight during the Christmas week, classic time for eating and drinking til you can’t hold any more, but I lost weight. Then over this last week I have been simply trying to be sensible with food but not Scrooge like and my scales appear to say I have lost weight again!

Me and food have a love/hate relationship. It comforts me, it’s fuel, but I hate the weight gain that so often comes with it. Learning to master food and still enjoy it has been a long process but early signs are that I have managed to get the basic points down, I seem to be loosing weight steadily if not quickly.

It’s a very short post I know but I wanted to say something and this is the thing uppermost in my mind at the moment.

Take care, and the secret is here!

Categories: Food | Leave a comment


I have a few traditions, on of them is writing up here what I’d like to do next year. I remember the plans I had this time last year, all the things I thought I was going to do, the happiness. It’s hard to believe that the plans I had made were changed completely within weeks of posting them up.

What I’d like from this year just happens to be a little simpler than before. I want to make a habit of looking after myself properly. I tend to skim on things a bit, “why bother, no one will notice”. So, I’m going to take care of myself, boost my self esteem and self respect.

My big plans for the year include going away alone for a few days several times. I used to take camping holidays lasting from four to ten days and just use the time to relax and collect my thoughts. I’m going to do that again. At least two breaks, and hopefully to different places each time, although obviously I do have a favourite place to go.

I shall certainly be continuing my weight loss, I consider it to be part of my self respect mission, respecting myself enough to reduce my weight to a healthy range.

I could sit here and wish for a quiet year but I doubt I’ll get one, not as part of the Jesus army anyway (and I plan to be as active with the Church as I can, shifts at work permitting).

It seems I’ve run out of things to say for now. Among other things I seem to be craving sleep, so I shall indulge that whim for tonight at any rate.

Categories: Food, Life, observations, Plans, Travel | Leave a comment

A different kind of Christmas

Today has been a first. I’ve never done paid work on Christmas day before, but today not only did I work, I worked 12 hours.

I wasn’t sure how it would be, maybe painted on smiles, a bit tense, fretting about all sorts of ifs and buts. Nothing like it. We had a fantastic day and even had time to mess about in the snow after lunch (there is photographic evidence but not on my camera!)

So many families arrived bearing gifts and children and smiles. The home was busy and it was so good. It felt to me like as the day went on the place became more alive. Father Christmas arrived with a gift for each resident. They seemed to think he was someone on staff, but no one could remember his name if he was 😉

Anyway. Far from Christmas day being awful because I was working, I had a carol dedicated to me on national radio, I had a great time with the rest of my team and I had a gut-busting good lunch with it. Straight after lunch a group of nurses and carers ran outside and larked about in the snow and just relaxed and were silly together.

It’s not a massively long post tonight but I wanted to share how good the day has been. I didn’t have the time to stop and call friends and family but in a way it didn’t seem to matter. I’ll see a load of them tomorrow anyway and have another great day, but one that doesn’t start at 6am for a change.

Stay safe in the snow guys and have a great week this week.

Categories: Food, Fun Stuff | Leave a comment

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