Monday, 21 March 2016


I have to say sorry to those who have taken the trouble of commenting on my past few posts. I didn't realise that Blogger has activated automatic spam detection and all the comments have been going into a spam folder instead of me getting notifications. This is a general thank you for all the good wishes for DD3, and I will check the Blogger dashboard for comments from now on.

There's not much more to add today. I'm getting back to normal after last week's events, sorting laundry, shopping, meal planning and cooking etc. etc. DH is having real issues with one of his legs and is limping about, probably sciatica although he's feeling most of the pain in his knee. He has a doctor's appointment tomorrow afternoon, the last one available that I could book online, otherwise he would have had to wait until after Easter. 

I was late to bed last night and I'm feeling tired today (I have a slight sore throat and might be going down with that cold now), so I've cheated and bought some goodies for tomorrow's slimming club nibbles instead of cooking something, but I'll still be baking for DS2's birthday on Wednesday. I've cheated again and bought his card rather than making it as I usually do but it was only 99p from the Card Centre.I'm sure he'll understand given everything that's been happening lately.

And finally, I saw these lovely pink and white roses yellow-stickered in Morrisons for £1.65. 

They were in perfect condition and I decided to treat myself for Easter. They look lovely in my grandmother's jug. 

Hope you are having a good day. Love Helen xx


Sunday, 20 March 2016

Operation Update

Hello all. Popping on quickly to let you all know that DD3 came through her operation safely and is starting on the road to recovery. As far as we know she had a muscle tear repaired, the head of her hip joint ground down slightly where it was rough, and the cyst removed. She's obviously in a lot of pain, on crutches for at least 4 weeks and physio afterwards. Still a long way to go to full fitness but at least the real scary bit is over. 

I spent 3 nights at her place to help out, got back home late yesterday afternoon and have spent today catching up on laundry etc. DH did some cleaning while I was away, but he and the boys lived on junk food so for tonight's dinner I made a healthy butternut squash and carrot soup served with sliced turkey on rye bread.

I have a busy week ahead. Wednesday 23rd is DS2's birthday so I'll be making a special meal and a cake for him, and on Tuesday we're having a little pre-Easter celebration at slimming club so I'll be baking for that too. I'm back over DD3's on Thursday night to babysit the invalid while her fiance goes to a works' awards evening, and he'll drive me back on Friday morning on the way to work. If DD3 is up to it by then she might come with us, spend the day at our house and fiance will collect her on the way home. DH breaks up on Thursday for the Easter holiday. I've nothing special planned for Easter; I've bought a chocolate egg each for the kids who live close by (and for DH) and I'll probably slow cook the last ham joint left from Xmas for Easter Sunday dinner and probably make yet another cake. 

Despite still suffering some with his back, DS2 has enjoyed his training days and is looking forward to starting work proper. He has more training actually up at the castle on Tuesday and Wednesday, and may start work on Good Friday when English Heritage are having a special event at the castle.

I think that's all the news from here for now. I hope all is well with you and yours. 

Love Helen xx

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Not long now.

Quick hello. 

DD3's operation is on Thursday and I'll be staying over at her place for a few nights from tomorrow and won't have my laptop with me. I'll be able to breathe once she's safely through it, but for now I'm pretty distracted. Thankfully DH is recovering from his cold. Still keeping fingers crossed I remain cold-free until after Thursday as DD is relying on me to be at the hospital with her while her fiance is at work. I'm taking a nice thick book and some knitting to keep me occupied. I'm hoping she's quite early on the list so we're not kept waiting all day. 

Apart from that, DS2 starts his job training with English Heritage tomorrow. He hurt his back trampolining on Sunday night and is on co-codomol but fairly mobile. Thankfully most of the training is classroom-based, watching videos and taking notes, but he does have to get up to Dover Castle for 8am to pick up the minibus taking them to Maidstone. We don't have a car at the moment (and I don't drive anyway) so he'll either have to walk (hobble) up there or catch the bus from the top of our road. A taxi is out of the question; you can't get a taxi at that time of the morning because they're all pre-booked to take kids to school. 

That's all for now, I think. Hope all is okay with you, love Helen xx

Thursday, 10 March 2016


It's been a lovely bright day here today and the sheets and duvet cover I hung outside on the line actually felt warm from the sun when I brought them in. Much better than the rain we had all day yesterday. There's still been a definite chill in the air though, coats and gloves still required for a while yet. After all, we had a dusting of snow on Monday, just enough for folks to have to clear it off cars but not enough to lay on the wet ground. 

So many different types of weather all in one week, no wonder there are so many bugs doing the rounds. DS1 was ill on his week off last week, and he says that many of his colleagues and a friend of his have also been struck down. I am keeping my fingers doubly crossed that I stay well until after DD3's operation next week. I'd hate to get sick and have to steer clear of her when she needs me most. 

DD3 has booked her wedding venue for which we've paid the deposit. If she's anything like DD2 I expect I now have another 15 months or so of talking nothing but wedding preparations. Since DH and I organised our wedding in just 6 weeks, I wore an outfit from M & S, we only invited our immediate families plus a couple of close friends and had the reception at my mum's house and we've been happily married for over 30 years, I don't actually see the point in these lavish weddings that cost thousands and need either saving up for for months (years) or put people in debt for years afterwards. If I had it to do again I'd still do it as cheaply as possible with the minimum of fuss. Mind you DD3 has already bought the bridesmaids dresses using a discount code and re-negotiated the price of the drinks, plus they've saved up most of the cost of hiring the venue already, so at least some of my influence has rubbed off on her. 

DS2 starts his training with English Heritage in Maidstone next week and we were wondering about the cost of trains etc. but it turns out that EH are laying on transport from Dover Castle to Maidstone and lunch will also be provided. As he's  been unemployed since he graduated last July and has only done a few weeks volunteering and a short government-funded course during that time, it will be strange for him to be out of the house on a regular basis. I hope he enjoys it though, and gets kept on once the 6 month probationary period is over.

I think that's all I have for today. Hope the weather's been kind where you are. Love, Helen xx

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Better Late Than Never

I'm a bit late writing about it, but I had a lovely Mother's Day. I received a gorgeous long-line cardigan, a beautiful Mantaray dress, a pretty scarf and a £20 Amazon voucher plus 2 cards. I didn't have to make dinner as DS2 cooked a delicious pasta bake containing 3 different cheeses that we had with salad, and he also made a Victoria Sandwich cake. I have a pressie still to come from DD1 who asked for hers to be delivered directly to me but it ended up going to her so she's had to send it on to me. It's a shame we can't all get together now that 2 of my daughters live across the country, but I spoke to all the kids on Sunday and I'm just so grateful they all made the effort and still want their mum in their lives.

DD3 and BF have chosen a venue for their wedding and are planning on 29th July 2017. They have definitely decided against France; although it would have been idyllic the cost and planning involved on a tight budget would have been extremely difficult, especially finding accomodation for around 150 guests in a small village with only other small villages nearby. I told her she and BF shouldn't have so many friends, and BF has loads of extended family he wants to invite. She's learned a lot about budgeting from her old mum though, and has already negotiated down the price of corkage for the wine, and used a voucher code for the bridesmaids' dresses.

Not much more news except, despite the cheesy pasta and the cake on Mother's Day, I managed to lose 1/2 lb this week which means I'm slowly reducing again and I'm now just 1 lb above my target weight. I'd like to be a couple of lbs under target by the summer but I'm mostly pretty happy with my weight so I'm not going to bust a gut to get lower.  

Sorry I haven't responded to all the comments. I was busy over the weekend and had a bad mood day yesterday, feeling really tired, lethargic and out of sorts so didn't get around to doing much of anything. I do apprecite them all, though, and it's nice to hear from people who've bothered to read my ramblings. So thank you everyone.

Have a great evening, love Helen xx

Friday, 4 March 2016

Slow Cooker 'Steamed' Suet Pudding

I had leeks and some chopped bacon in the fridge that needed using up so I decided to do a steamed leek pudding based on a recipe from the Wartime Kitchen and Garden book. Being a wartime recipe the original uses a couple of ounces of grated potato as part substitute for some of the suet, but I used all vegetable suet. I also pre-cooked the leeks and bacon. 

I'd researched online about 'steaming' in the slow cooker and it looked really easy; just prepare the pudding as usual and set in the cooker with enough water to come at least half way up the bowl. The difficulty was knowing at what temperature and for how long to cook it as each recipe seemed to say something different...anything from High for from 4-8 hours, to Low for up to 10 hours. I decided to plump for somewhere in the middle and did it on high for 6 hours. Next time I'd reduce it down to 4 hours on High or 6 hours on Low as the result was a bit dry. 

It tasted good, though, and made plenty enough for 4 decent servings. DH and DS1 had theirs with mash and either beans or peas left over from yesterday; I just had peas as it was really filling. 

 Not very photogenic; 
DH had already started tucking into his before I could take a picture.

For the pudding I used:-

2 large leeks (Aldi at 49p for 3, so approx 32p), sliced and washed and then cooked until soft in a little oil (5p)

6oz diced bacon, fried until browned (1/3 Morrisons 89p Savers offcuts pack...approx 30p)

12 oz self raising flour (Aldi 45p for 3lb...approx 12p)

1 tsp Baking Powder (5p)

6 oz Atora Vegetable Suet (approx 3/4 pkt at £1.10...approx 80p)

A little butter/marg to grease the bowl (5p)

Mix flour, baking powder and suet together, add enough water to bind into a pastry. Save 1/3 and roll the rest to fit a 2 pint pudding basin. Grease the basin and line with the pastry, fill with the bacon and leek mix and a little ground black pepper. Roll out the remaining pastry. Wet edges, put on top of the bowl and pinch to seal all around. Make a middle pleat in a square of baking parchment or greaseproof paper and the same in a square of foil (to allow for expansion of the pastry). Put the parchment over the top of the bowl and then the foil, securely tie in place around the bowl with string/wool, and then loop the string across the top to make a handle to lift the bowl out. Place in the slow cooker and carefully pour enough boiling water around it to come about halfway up the sides of the bowl. May need to top up the water a couple of times during the cooking process. Cook on high for about 4-5 hours or Low for 5-7 hours. 

Cost of pudding £1.69 or 42p a serving. 
The frozen mash and peas/beans added about 30p a serving.

I saw some lovely wicker cat baskets in Pound Stretcher but wasn't prepared to spend £12.99. I remembered I had a lovely old-fashioned wicker basket in the bedroom that DD2 had given me some years ago for Xmas filled with Farmers' Market goodies. With a fleecy blanket in the bottom Shadow loves it and has hardly left it since I set it down on the living room floor yesterday afternoon. 

Kitty in a basket

That's all for tonight. Hope we can get out and about this weekend as I've not managed much walking this week. Have a good evening everyone. Love Helen xx