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Two birds with one stone!

One of my favourite ways to de-stress and relax is to bake. It's something I've done since I was small - my mum taught me, although she was never very enthusiastic herself, and I think she was happy to pass the family baking baton to me! When I still lived at home, many years ago, I baked quite a lot, and everything would get eaten - often by my dad! Since leaving home and living alone, I've done much less baking. Although I still enjoy it, I don't really want to sit and eat an entire batch of cookies myself!

Luckily, although we don't live together, my boyfriend spends about half the week at my house, and I've discovered that he's quite fond of home baking, and happy to eat whatever I produce, so the baking's back on!

I must've been quite stressed this afternoon, because I had the baking bug quite badly! I made quite a variety of things - cranberry and oatmeal cookies, lemon buns, and almond & cherry muffins which were made with fresh cherries!

Although they all look alright, if I'm being honest, I would have to say that they could definitely have been better. I'm still getting used to my new electric oven, which I don't like as much as my old gas one, but I'm learning that it needs to be set quite a bit higher than the recipe asks for, so hopefully my output will improve a little once I'm more familiar with it!

I'm sure as soon as Alasdair's finished yesterday's plum, apple & blackberry crumble he'll get started on the muffins buns & cookies! Perhaps I should try yoga or meditation to de-stress for a few days until he's caught up a bit!

The gift that just keeps giving!

I was surprised to see my OH return from his usual dog walk this morning with two enormous courgettes. In fact they were so large I had to ask a friend if they were actually marrows! He'd been given them by a nice allotment holder on his walk, and - not knowing George as I do (you learn your lesson after eating cauliflower for a week) - he'd accepted the offer. I'm sure he was expecting one regular greengrocer sized courgette, not two monsters!

Anyway, we had them, now to decide what to do with them! We hadn't any meals planned for the day luckily, other than using up some homemade soup for lunch. We'd planned to buy some fresh bread to go along with that, but settled I stead for mini courgette and chilli pizzas. Very nice, even if I say it myself! We have half the pitta breads left for the same again tomorrow, but even so, had barely used half of one of our courgettes!

So, on to dinner! Needing to use up rather more of our gift, we settled on pan-fried salmon, and large slices of courgette cooked in the George Formby, then covered in cheese and stuck under the grill. Also nice, but I'm not sure I can face the same again tomorrow! I have found a recipe for courgette and lemon cake though, so that may be on the cards for tomorrow!

Faking it!

Anyone who knows me, will know I'm a bit of a self tan addict. Sadly, I don't have a very even skintone - I spent far too much time frying on Greek beaches in the eighties, which means I'll never have beautifully even creamy skin like Nicola Roberts or Kelly Osborne, and as I've now learned my lesson about sunbathing, and only sit out with a high SPF, I have to fake it!

I've been lucky enough this year to be given a few new self tan products (thanks Kim!) plus I managed to win some in competitions. My two favourite brands for the last few years have been Xen Tan and St Tropez, although I'm happy to try others. I've always found that St Tropez is easy to use, and hard to get wrong as long as you prepare your skin well beforehand, although Xen Tan lasts a little longer, and smells of vanilla rather than the horrible fake tan smell we all hate!

One of the new items I've tried this year is from Xen Tan - it's their Intense Mousse, and I have to say, I think it's wonderful! It's incredibly easy to use with a tanning mitt - mine's from Superdrug although Xen Tan also sell their own. It's a coloured mousse, which means it's really easy to make sure you don't miss any areas, and with the mitt it glides on in seconds - I can do my whole body in just over a minute, and it dries almost instantly. Because it's from Xen Tan, it has a lovely fresh vanilla scent, with no giveaway fake tan smell, and the colour lasts for days. You can control the depth of colour with the amount you apply too.

The only thing that stops this being my perfect self tanner is the cost! I was lucky enough to win mine from Xen Tan on facebook, but to buy it's £21.95 and the bottle doesn't do many full body applications compared to their Deep Bronze Luxe, which is the cream I used to use, at just a few pounds more.

I'm not sure I could recommend it for weekly use all year round, as their are better value prodcuts available, but for anyone not used to self tanning, or for a special occasion, or some pre-holiday colour, this is perfect as it's so hard to go wrong!

Cheeky likes

A smile through the post

I got a gorgeous gift from a good friend this morning - Hoppy the bear! I've been quite unwell this week - I had to go to hospital with a few problems, and only avoided being kept in because I discharged myself against medical advice - it turns out they really don't like it when you do that! I had nobody to look after my dog though, so really couldn't accept their kind invitation to stay!

I'm still fairly immobile, and feverish, and to be honest, feeling a little bit sorry for myself, although I usually try hard not to, but when I saw this gorgeous bear this morning, with a bandaged leg, and a little crutch, I couldn't help but smile and feel more cheery. He even comes with a birth certificate and care sheet. I love him!

He's the only teddy I have, and so extra special. Funnily enough, we'd been talking teddies last weekend, when another friend ran a bear giveaway on her blog, and I was unable to enter as I was teddyless, and entry was through posting a picture of your teddies. I'm now all set if that situation arises, with Hoppy sat next to my bed. I'm so happy to have received such a thoughful gift, which I'll cherish forever - much nicer than flowers, which are beautiful, but don't last. Thanks again Nicky xxx

A very ironic cake!

I got a nasty surprise in the post this morning - an unexpected vet bill for my dog Buffy. She had quite a few lumps and bumps removed in April, and although it was covered by her insurance, unfortunately her policy renewal date fell during her treatment, and the excess payable increased by £75, which was what I had to pay today.

I spent the morning being a domestic goddess (no laughing at the back!!) and as well as making a slow cooker lamb and apricot curry, I also made a lemon drizzle cake - one of my favourites.

I decided to call in at the vets and pay the invoice while the cake was cooling. I left Buffy at home as I was only going to be twenty minutes. My boyfriend and I were joking that she'd better be extra cute today to make up for the vet's bill!

Unfortunately, Buffy can't have been listening - or perhaps she misunderstood the word cute, because when we got back, the loaf tin - with the cake inside - was face down on the floor, and when I turned it over, I saw that she'd eaten half of it! It's over ten years since she last stole food or climbed up on one of the worktops, not since she was a puppy, so I'd trusted her completely with my cooling cake. Never again!

Buffy was banished to her basket, and ignored completely for an hour, which she hates, and I set to baking another cake - I refuse to let her beat me!

When is a weekend not a weekend?

My answer would be when you're retired!

I realise that nine to five, Monday to Friday jobs are probably in the minority now, with flexible working hours, and varying shift patterns - not to mention the fact that we all want shops, and services to be available 24-7, but I miss my weekends!

I was forced into early retirement due to ill health - very reluctantly, I loved my job and wanted to keep working. I have to say that one of the things I miss most about working (apart from a higher income and a social life) is that Friday feeling!

My days are often dictated by my pain levels, so I can't even give myself a faux weekend by getting chores done midweek and relaxing on Saturday and Sunday - often I'm forced to rest and let housework and chores build up through the week, and then do them when I feel able - whatever day that might be.

I know early retirement probably sounds wonderful to a lot of people - especially those who are unfortunate enough to be doing a job they aren't passionate about, but believe me, there are plenty of downsides. The next time you're struggling through your Wednesday hump day, take a moment to be thankful for your weekend - it will come eventually, I promise!

He's a very nice man - but he can't fix it!

Ok, so a nice man called Kevin came to check my scooter out this afternoon. He scooted up and down the street in it for a while - which was fairly embarrassing as I don't use it at home, so i doubt any of the neighbours knew I even had a mobility scooter! He then got a few gizmos and gadgets out of his van to check various bits and pieces - thankfully working fairly quickly as he was charging g £10 per fifteen minutes on top of the £50 call out fee!

His verdict after just over half an hour was that the gearbox was kaput, and would cost over £200 to replace, with no guarantee that it hadn't affected the motor, which could also need replacing! So, what a fabby afternoon, it cost me £70 to find out that the scooter's not worth repairing! I'm very reliant on it, so will have to get a replacement from somewhere, although I'm not sure where at the moment!

Anyone got one going spare??

Help!! My Scooter's broken!

I'm both fortunate and unfortunate in that I have a mobility scooter.

Unfortunate, because I wish I didn't need to use one - especially at the age of 39. Even though I have one, I still think of it as something an old person would use!

Fortunate, because it does allow me to get out and about much more than I ever could without it. This year alone, my boyfriend and I have had days out to Chatsworth House, Castle Howard, Blackpool, Whitby, and many other places. I scoot along, and he walks, and we can really cover some ground on a day out!

The problem at the moment is that my scooter seems to be developing a fault. It's one I bought myself - I don't get any financial help despite being so reliant on it, but the motor gets very hot, and the battery drains much more quickly than it used to, which makes it quite a nervous experience to go out for the day in case I can't make it back to the car!

Of course, neither of us knows anything about the workings of it, so it needs to be serviced. The trouble is the cost! We've been quoted a £50 call out fee, plus £10 per 15 minutes, and then parts on top. Definitely not cheap - and it's not like having a car problem where there are numerous garages to choose from, and you can often get a personal recommendation. As I don't know anyone else with a scooter, this is pretty much a shot in the dark.

We're going on holiday to Cumbria for a week in September, so I'll have to bite the bullet and have it looked at before then, or we're in danger of spending the whole week inside the cottage!

Physio Done!

I wrote a couple of days ago that I was worried about a physio appointment I was going to - especially as I've had some bad experiences in the past of being seen by a student, or someone who knew very little about my condition!

I'm pleased to say that my first appointment is over and done with, and was a great success! I saw a lovely woman called Nicky, who knew all about hyper-mobility syndrome and the types of pains and problems it can cause. She immediately knew what the problem was, and how best to treat it.

I have a list of exercises to do several times a day, and I go back for my next appointment in two weeks. The exercises are quite gently at the moment, as my shoulder's so loose and unstable that it's in danger of dislocating until it's a bit more stable, but Nicky seems very confident that I should be able to use my wheelchair again without pain within a few weeks, which will be wonderful!


I have a physiotherapy appointment tomorrow, which I'm a bit worried about. I have HMS - hyper-mobility syndrome - which means most of my joints are unstable, painful and prone to dislocation. This means I've had physio lots of games before, but it's always been for hips and knees in the past. This time it's for my shoulder which has been giving me a lot of trouble lately. I'm struggling to use my wheelchair, which is a real nuisance!

My experience of physio in the past hasn't been great. I've often seen students, or people who've known very little about my condition, and have asked me to do things which have been painful, and remained painful for a few days. This is bad enough when it's a knee, but if the same thing happens on my shoulder, and it gets worse than it is now, then I'll be in a bit of a mess!

I really hope I'm proved wrong, and I get someone knowledgeable, who is able to help stabilize the joint without causing too much pain! I'll find out at 3pm tomorrow!


I set up a blog - or at least a blog site, over 2 years ago but never used it! I can't even remember why I set it up! I would imagine it was either for a competition, or as a means of entering a competition, since that's what I spend a lot of my time doing.

Anyhoo, the plan at the moment is to start using it for random musings. That's the plan on a rainy wednesday afternoon when I'm fairly bored though - whether that will also be the plan on a sunny Saturday afternoon when I have far better things to do remains to be seen!