Friday, 29 January 2016

Falling out of love

When we moved in to this house, it was in a sad, unloved state. The couple who had owned it before were deeply unhappy and splitting up, so needed to sell. I don't think there had been much enthusiasm shown for the house for many a year.
It was our first house and we had a young daughter - 18 months. To us, this house was great. Lots of space, lots of potential, a great garden and wonderful neighbours. We also quickly realised that it was in easy walking distance of good schools, parks, shops, train station, doctors etc etc.
As our family grew, so did the house. We had one large extension to give us a fourth bedroom and extended living space downstairs, then a few years later, we went into the loft to give us another room (albeit not marketable as a bedroom, but useable as one nevertheless) and then finally, we added a conservatory on the back, which is a wonderful room to sit and relax in.
Every room has been redecorated, some multiple times, new kitchen, new bathrooms and there is almost nothing of the original house left now. All in all, this has been an excellent house and has served us very well for the last 22 years or roundabout.

Recently however, I seem to be falling out of love with the house. I'm not sure if this is because the dream of moving is finally becoming a possibility, or just because I spend too much time in it alone. Things have started to go wrong with the house, only small things really and all fixable, but they seem to be happening more often. Also, many of the rooms could probably do with redecorating, but I'm kind of hoping to get away with not doing it. Surely someone buying the house will want to redecorate anyway. Don't get me wrong, none of the rooms are bold colours - mostly white or soft cream, so there's nothing to put a new buyer off. I am super critical I suspect.

On my list of repair jobs:-
New door bell - done, I tried repairing it twice but it kept getting stuck on!
Replace flooring in understairs cupboard (the washing machine leaked and warped the particle boarding)
Replace mortar on the roof - done, by someone else :)
Clear out sheds
Replace shed roof (it leaks slightly)
Tidy garden (pruning and leaf clearing mostly)
Replace airing cupboard ceiling
Replace sealant in ensuite shower
Clean off grout in ensuite
Repaint ensuite
Realign the back door so it fits correctly in the frame (there's a gap at the bottom and sometimes it won't lock!)

There a lots of other even more minor jobs which need doing if we are going to put the house on the market, but these are the bigger things that might put a buyer off, so they need to get done first.

As I said, they are none of them huge jobs - I just need to get off my butt and get them done! I'm hoping that Mr D might be up for helping me with some of them at least. It's always so much better having a bit of company :)

I have just re-read this post. Oh dear, it sounds like a sorry state of affairs and makes me feel guilty that I'm not looking after our little house as it deserves, so I promise to get it all done by the end of March.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

My bionic dog

I know, not everyone is interested in dogs or indeed operations, but these X Rays are so amazing I had to share them!

They cut the ulna and then screwed it together with a titanium plate and six titanium screws (at a cost of over £400 for the crews alone!). This elongated the ulna to better distribute the weight. The gap will eventually heal with new bone growing to fill the gap. Amazing! 

He's three weeks post op today and very comfortable with his new bionic leg :) 

Unfortunately, he'll need the other elbow doing in around six months time. "We can rebuild him......" as the saying goes. 

Welcome to Effieq and Clarissa - lovely to have you join :) 

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Satisfied but exhausted

Hooray! I have finally used up all of the produce from the broken down deep freeze in the shed. Hopefully at the weekend, we can take the deepfreeze and equally old fridge to the tip.

Along with the nine bottles of ketchup, 2 large kilner jars of blackberry vodka and 5 jars of raspberry and cassis jam from the other day; I now have 6 jars of apple and blackberry jam, 9 jars of gooseberry and elderflower jam (I added 8 tbsp elderflower cordial at the end of the cooking time), 9 jars of red fruits jam (plums, loganberries and raspberries), 5 jars of appleberry jam (apple, raspberry and loganberry) and 9 jars of spiced apple and tomato chutney.

I'm not sure where I'm going to store it all, but no home produce has been wasted! 

The chutney recipe:- 

500g chopped apple
500g chopped tomatoes
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 pint of white wine vinegar
400g brown sugar
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt

Cook all the ingredients together in a large pot over a lowish heat until the vegetables are thick, pulpy and soft and almost all of the vinegar has evaporated. Mine bubbled away happily on the stove for about 30 mins, stirred occasionally. 
Decant into sterilised jars.

I have no jars left
I have no labels left
My feet and legs ache still, but I'm feeling rather pleased with myself :) 

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Ketchup recipe and raspberry and cassis jam

Just as I thought I was understanding the follower button, I'm confused again! I thought new followers would pop up at the beginning of the pictures? So now I have more followers but I don't know who they are. I'm so sorry not to be able to greet you by name, but welcome all the same. Feel free to leave a comment and introduce yourselves :)

AlwaysHappy asked me to post the recipe I used for the ketchup I made on Sunday, so here goes. Obviously I made a huge batch because I had so many tomatoes - this made 9 jars! Feel free to scale it down.

4 kilos tomatoes
6 onions, finely chopped
4 sticks of celery, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
400g brown sugar
500ml vinegar (I used a mixture of red wine, white wine and a little balsamic because I had it!)
2 tsp cayenne
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp tomato purée

Cook the vegetables in a large pan until soft and pulpy. Boil rapidly until the mixture thickens. Mine took about 25 mins, but my tomatoes had been frozen so were 'wet'. In fact, I had ladled off some of the extra juice, fearing it might take me days to get it thick. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Take off the heat and cool slightly. Liquidise in batches, then pass through a sieve to make a smooth sauce.
Return to a clean pan and add the remaining ingredients. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has thickened to the right consistency.
Bottle the ketchup into sterile containers.

The bottles then need to be processed further to allow them to be stored safely.
In a deep roasting tin, place a folded tea towel to cover the base. Place the bottles in the tin with lids loosely on. Ensure that the bottles are not touching one another or the sides of the tin. (I did mine in two batches). Pour in hot water at least 2/3 of the height of the bottles. Put in the oven at 170c for 40 minutes. Remove, shut the lids firmly and cool on a rack before labelling (include the date made). Store in a cool dark cupboard for no more than a year. Once opened, the jars should be kept in the fridge and used quickly.

The labels don't stick well on the dumpy jars :( 
The little jar will be used up by us. 

I also made raspberry and cassis jam. Just make the jam as you would normally, but add 30ml of cassis at the end. Oh my!! What a treat!

Just another three/ four different jams and a chutney to make and I will have used everything up. Phew!!

Monday, 25 January 2016

Sweet and sour bean and vegetable hotpot

Welcome to two new readers - Alwayshappy and DHE. Lovely to have you aboard :)

This recipe is both gluten free and vegan.

450g unpeeled potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp plain GF flour or cornflour
1 can chopped tomatoes or passata
150ml Apple juice
3 tbsp each : Demerara sugar, tomato ketchup, dry sherry (or chinese cooking wine), vinegar (I used up the rice vinegar I had in the cupboard) and tamari sauce (use light soy if you are not coeliac)
1 can chick peas
1 can borlotti beans
1 can butter beans 
1 finely chopped onion
A handful of mushrooms, sliced
1 carrot finely diced
2 tsp dried herbs or 2 tbsp mixed chopped fresh herbs

Put the cornflour, tomatoes, apple juice, sugar, sherry, vinegar and tamari sauce in a medium pan and whisk over a medium heat until it thickens. Simmer for about 3 mins, whisking occasionally.

Put the beans (you can use any combination of beans you wish here of course - I used what I had) with the vegetables (again you could use sweetcorn/peas/green beans etc ) and herbs in a large shallow casserole dish. Stir in the thickened sweet and sour sauce to coat thoroughly. You can season here, but I found it wasn't needed.

Finely slice the potatoes and lay, neatly overlapping, over the bean mixture. (Mr D's idea of neat rows varied somewhat from the recipe, but who cares!) Drizzle with the olive oil. 
Cover with foil and put in the oven at 200c for about an hour. Take the foil off for the final 20 mins to brown the potatoes. 

We served it with crusty bread and a nice crisp green salad. Very tasty and very healthy!

This is what my daughter is facing in New Jersey, America! It'll be the most snow she's experienced!

Sunday, 24 January 2016

My hand was forced!

Last summer, I brought back all of mum's home grown fruit (gooseberries and raspberries) and tomatoes from her deepfreeze and popped them in the deepfreeze in my shed. I didn't want them to go to waste as she had gone to the effort of growing, picking and preparing them. I used some last year, alongside mine, to make jams and various other bits and bobs, but there was a lot left. Also in the deepfreeze were bags of blackberries and loganberries which I had picked and large quantities of chopped apples from the two trees in the garden - all leading to a very full deepfreeze of produce.

You might be able to tell where I'm going with this ..... Yes, damn it, the blinking deepfreeze decided to give up the ghost!! Bum is one of the words that comes to mind.

Here I was concentrating on slimming down the contents of my cupboards, knowing that I'd have to get round to the stuff in the deepfreeze eventually before we moved house. As a plan, it could have worked if it weren't for the old and ailing deepfreeze choosing to force my hand!

Preserving the jars - ready to go in the oven 

So today,  I cooked up 4 kilos of tomatoes to make ketchup. I will make blackberry vodka, and jam with the loganberries, raspberries and gooseberries. I don't much like gooseberry jam, but it can always be given as gifts! I have multiple kilos of apples, some of which I will add to the red fruit in the jams and some will be puréed or made into crumbles, chutneys and a cake.

Blackberry and vanilla vodka, just waiting for me to buy the cheap vodka. 

The forgotten treat from the deep freeze :) 

I hadn't intended on dealing with all of this now, BUT, there are positives
  • It will be done well in advance of any moving chaos
  • It's helped use up even more of my store cupboard lingerers (3 bottles of part used vinegar for starters) 
  • It's given me more room in the shed and is no longer using the electricity.
  • It spurred us on to ditch the very old fridge which was also in the shed using up electricity whilst mostly empty.
  • It's cleared the shelf of empty jars.
  • I won't need to make any jam next year at all, so can focus on different things, like jellies.
  • We found some cookies in there which we had forgotten about :)
  • Just some sad looking pieces of fish were thrown away and that would have happened whatever as they were well passed their best.
I'll post about any more preserving as it happens. I've got some ideas for added flavours .....

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Chewy flapjack bars

This can also be gluten free if you use the correct flour and oats and vegan if you use egg replacer.

I am on a mission to simplify my food cupboards. There are so many part used jars and packets floating around in the large 'larder' cupboard and I have also inherited all of mums spices, so it's just a bit chaotic! Slowly but surely, I am seeking out recipes to use them up. I've made loads of progress already, but of course, I didn't take a before photo, so it's fairly pointless taking a 'now' photo! Just imagine a much less crammed cupboard where I can start to actually see what's on the shelf without having to move the front three layers first!

Anyway, I found this recipe for healthy breakfast bars and realised it would use up the half packets of seeds I had. I guess I could have used them in breads of course, but I fancied giving this a go.

I imagine you can vary the dried goods in this - just make sure the dry and wet mixtures remain balanced. You will notice it has no added fat unlike normal flapjack.

270g Apple purée
115g chopped dried apricots
115g raisins
50g Demerara sugar
50g sunflower seeds
25g sesame seeds
25g pumpkin seeds
75g rolled oats
75g wholemeal flour
50g desiccated coconut
2 eggs beaten

Mix the apple purée, dried fruit, sugar and seeds in a large bowl. Mix in the dry ingredients until well combined. Add the beaten eggs and mix thoroughly. Line a shallow baking tin with parchment which is left to hang over the sides to aide lifting it out later. Press the mixture in to the baking tin well. Cook for about 25 minutes and then leave to cool in the tin before lifting and cutting into bars. This makes about 18 bars. The recipe book says these will last for about four days in an airtight container. Not sure that will be put to the test in this house!

Mixture prior to cooking 

Wednesday, 20 January 2016


Welcome to Fast SOS, a new follower :)

It was so frosty this morning that I couldn't open the chicken coop to let the ladies out. I finally manage to knock the lid open with a hammer and then had to lift them all out and over into the run - cue a lot of squawking and flapping. Every morning normally, Maggie hops up on to the side of the coop, trots along the edge and flaps down into the run all by herself (normally with Jets nose following her feathery bottom!) this morning however, she resolutely refused to hop up and stood firm inside the coop until I scooped her up and deposited her in the run myself - contrary madam!
I had to go back out there about 90 minutes later and bash the door open with a hammer. I can only assume the door had swollen with all the rain we'd had. I'm wary of planing it down too much in case there's then a gap when the wood shrinks back in the lovely Summer weather we're going to have!

I had to turn the heating on during the day on Sunday for the first time this since November at Mr D's bequest. Normally it has a brief blast early in the morning and another late afternoon but other than that I have managed with extra jumpers and hot water bottles. I'm aiming to have a few hundred pounds to reclaim on the next heating bill. It becomes like a battle against the cold for me, which is fine as I'm normally on my own here anyway.

It's been so lovely to see the sunshine though! I had a lovely walk along one of my favourite roads yesterday to go for a coffee with an old friend. There are lots of different styles of houses - terraced, semi-detached and detached and they all have interesting front gardens to look at. The coffee shop I was headed to is a really nice independent coffee shop - not cheap, but to be frank if I'm going to go to the effort of treating myself to a coffee/tea out and about, then I'd prefer to have a nice drink in stylish surroundings. I resisted their yummy toasted bagels and cakes at least! It was good to catch up and we always chat about our life goals and plans which is great :)

I had my final physio today. Not a pleasant experience over the six sessions, but certainly effective. I presently feel as if I've been trampled by a herd of stampeding wilderbeast (the same ones that fail to wake my teenage son as they pass through his bedroom!!), but tomorrow, or the day after, it will feel much looser.

Youngest daughter enters her teenage years today - does seem that long ago that we welcomed her into the world! Just another reminder how fast time passes and makes me even more determined to move forwards with our plans :)

Monday, 18 January 2016

Winnie the Pooh day

I am informed by Mr D that today is Winnie the Pooh Day..... :)

Sometimes our weekends are one long list of jobs to do, errands to run, places to be etc.. and whilst that gets things achieved, you can sometimes get to Monday morning feeling exhausted and a tad disappointed!

This weekend was much better however. As I mentioned in my last post, Mr D and I had a rare evening alone on Friday, so we're able to share a nice dinner for two. I even had some candles, although I kept thinking about the Trust me I'm a Doctor programme and the formaldehyde being released from scented candles!!

Saturday got drains cleared, the dreaded tax return completed and sent off, errands done, two loads of washing done and a favour for our elderly neighbours. I made a loaf of bread and Mr D and I had homemade bread, a selection of my jams and marmelades and a pot of tea whilst watching some good TV in the afternoon. It felt very cosy and a bit 'decadent'. In the evening, Mr D went out for a while, so I cooked my son one of his favourite dinners - calamari with garlicky mayonnaise with a glass of chilled white. It's great when your children become adults!

On Sunday, Mr D and I had a bit of a lie in - also a rarity! We awoke to a dusting of snow. Jet was nearly tipped over into complete mad skit with the excitment of the white stuff - good job he was on a lead!
One of us is always up early - Mr D during the week as he leaves for work at 7 and I rise first on the weekends and school holidays to deal with the animals. We chatted about the day ahead, with a cup of tea in the snugness of our bed - bliss!
Once up, daily tasks were completed, then Mr D corrected school reports and I wrote a first draft response to the investigation report into the lead up to my mother's death. Not a pleasant job for either of us, but it felt good to get things done. It's amazing how just ticking off some jobs off my list, lifts my mood!
For lunch we had a very basic ploughmans with the remainder of the bread, some home made chutney, apple, cheese and tomato. It would have been perfect if the tomato and apple had been homegrown!
Mr D cooked a slow roasted beef casserole for tea and we finished off the day with another couple of episodes on Netflix.

A restful, but productive weekend. I now need to clean the house and get some washing done!

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Naughty Jet!

As you will have seen from a couple of posts ago, Jet had a full leg bandage on after his op. The vet had organised that we would go in for a check up on Friday - just over a week after his op - to have the bandage removed. Jet, however had different ideas and removed it himself overnight on Wednesday! I manage to unravel it all and cut off enough clean bandage to redress his wound, but he removed that one too overnight on Thursday. Fortunately the wound is well healed so I've just left it be now.
He certainly seems to think he is fully healed so is in the most 'dangerous' stage of his recovery now. We will have to keep a very close eye on him so he doesn't do anything to jeopardise. He has a substantial scar where they put a metal plate into his elbow and another smaller one on the other side where the surgeon removed a chunk of bone which had snapped off. We are keeping our fingers crossed that it has been successful and that our pet insurance will help out with the costs!
We took him to the vets and she was very pleased with his progress, saying that he looks more like 4 weeks post op than just the one, but we will still have to protect him from his own natural bounciness!

It's a glorious day here today, if rather chilly, so I have been out doing one of my favourite (heavy sarcasm) jobs - drains! The main drain leading from the bathroom is a stupid design and gets easily clogged with hair and leaves. We have a lot of hair in this house - even my son has long hair! Anyway, all done now with the minimum of fuss .... Until the next time, although maybe it will be someone else's problem???

Mr D is doing one if his favourite jobs - completing his tax return form! He HATES them!

Mr D and I had a rare evening alone yesterday, so I cooked him his favourite - breaded garlicky mushrooms, followed by steak and home made oven chips. It was really nice to have a quiet meal together.

Have a lovely weekend everyone :)

Friday, 15 January 2016


Firstly, welcome to Lilly's Mum :)
I'm glad so many of you liked the sound of the cake. It really was very tasty, but I do like any citrus flavours.
I resurrected my bread machine this week. It had been stuck in a cupboard after I had discovered an easy handmade bread recipe. I don't like to cook the bread in there because you end up with a hole where the dough hook has been, so I just used it in the dough programme, then shaped it in my bread proving basket before baking. It was a much softer crumb and crust than the Pain Montmatre I usually make, but it sliced well. Needless to say, it didn't last long!

And now to the title of this post - As I may have mentioned, patience is not one of my strong points. When I decide to do something, I like to get on with it immediately. If, for some reason, I am prevented from immediate action, I lose all interest and the initial thought or plan, languishes in my brain causing me to feel guilty that I'm not getting things done!

When I first stopped working, after a period of healing, I felt invigorated and purposeful. I took on lots of new challenges and tackled loads of outstanding jobs. I felt as if I had taken back control of my life. Sadly that initial momentum seems to have ebbed away, leaving me rooted by a heavy sense of inertia.  

I know I cannot control everything that happens to me, but I can control how I react to it, so I have decided that enough is enough, I need to crawl back up to the surface and start working towards my dreams. I've come a long way in the last 16 months and I need to keep moving forwards. To that end, I have written a segregated list of all the 'issues' in my life, divided into separate headings. Next to these headings, I have written the actions which I believe I can take to help move forwards. Some of them can't be influenced by me, but I can start to plan for any eventuality.

This week, I have taken definitive action on just two of the 8 listed 'issues', but I already feel better for it. I know what I want to happen this year, but I also know that I cannot rush it and nor can I force outside influences to bend to my will, but if I identify the areas where I can exert my control then I will feel that I am at least partially in the driving seat again. Everyone prefers to feel in control don't they?

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

A little baking

Welcome to Jan and Delia. I've been useless at welcoming new followers - I couldn't make the followers gadget thing tell me what I needed to know, but now they've updated it, it seems to work how I thought it should have done in the first place! I apologise to then otyer 61 people whom I didn't welcome personally!!

The weather has been so bleak outside that my thoughts turn to baking. I so don't need to be eating pies or cake, but ......

When we brought back all of my Mums useable food, there were two jars of bought marmelade so I decided that a Spiced Marmelade Cake might do the trick to use it up.

175g butter, softened
8 level tbsp golden syrup
2 eggs beaten
10 level tbsp  Orange marmelade
350 g self raising flour
1 level tbsp baking powder
1 level tbsp grated nutmeg
1 level tsp cinnamon
I level tsp mixed spice
About 1/4 pint milk
50g crushed cornflakes

Grease and line an 8 inch square tin. Heat the oven to 180c.
Beat the butter with 6 level tbsp golden syrup, then gradually beat in the eggs.
Add half the marmelade to the cake mixture
Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Add milk a little at a time until you have a fairly stiff mixture.
Pour into the prepared tin and level the surface
Mix the remaining marmelade with the remaining golden syrup and the cornflakes and carefully spread on the top of the cake.
Pop in the oven for about 60 mins, checking the top and covering with foil if necessary.

I also made a pie for Sunday lunch with the rest of the Christmas turkey and ham (which had been frozen of course!) mixed with mushrooms, chopped onion, herbs, grainy mustard and soured cream.
In the background, you can just see Mr D's delicious roast potatoes and cauliflower cheese. We also had sprouts (I LOVE them) and peas.

Not helping my waistline, but warming and comforting nevertheless!

Monday, 11 January 2016

Update on Jet

Thank you so much to everyone who commented on my last post about my aunt's house. Isn't it funny what piques people's interest? My aunt would no doubt find it very odd that we are all so enthusiastic about her home as to her it's just the way she has always lived. I was thinking about it the other day and remembered that my mother thought my aunt's house was awful - cold, cluttered and dingey with no modern amenities. Mum was always trying to persuade me that my aunt lived a fairly miserable existence, but my argument was that she was actually very contented with her simple life. I guess, Mum's life was never very simple so she failed to understand how anyone could be happy living that way - we are all different than goodness!

Jet had his operation on Thursday and we collected him from the vet on Friday evening. It all seems to have gone very well and he is being an excellent patient. We did borrow a cage in the end and he's been great about going in there. It means I don't have to worry if someone comes to the door (not that I ever have any visitors to speak of!).

Taking him to the toilet is a right palava though. He has to have a plastic bag over his bandage, then be supported with a sling under his chest to help take the weight off his bad leg. He also needs to be on a lead to prevent any sudden movements. My garden is an absolute bog and incredibly muddy and slippery so we have had some close shaves. I wouldn't be surprised if I didn't end up in a caste as well at this rate! Hopefully he'll be able to have the bandaging removed after two weeks which will be one less thing. He's such a patient fellow though :) In the evenings when we are settled, we carry him into the lounge to have cuddles - that makes him very happy :)

Being a black dog, it's hard to make him out, but you can see the extent of his 'club foot'! 

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

A blast from the past

Those of you who read regularly (thank you :)) may remember this post about my aunt.

We went over to see my aunt before Christmas as we always do, to exchange presents. We had tea and cake - home made of course! I took a few photos to try and demonstrate how simply and frugally she lives. They're aren't great quality as they were snapped hastily on my phone and the light is always so dim, but in some ways they are even more evocative because of it. We were chatting about her mother, my grandmother, who was cared for by my aunt at home until she passed away peacefully at the age of 103. Her last brief visit to hospital was remarkable in that despite being over 100 and much the oldest on the ward, my grandmother took no medication other than something to 'keep her regular'! Right up to the end she had all of her faculties and despute being very frail (she was a tiny little thing anyway), was quite well really. My aunt is 92 at the end of January, so they must have strong genes. Amazing women!

Anyway here are the photos .....

No heat whatsoever in the bathroom

High flush original toilet

Landing - trip hazards everywhere! Under the cover is a very old dolls house, which I used to adore playing with as a child. 

Back parlour. No central heating, no fitted carpets, no modern double glazing, picture rail and heavy dark wood furniture. 

This is the trolley she uses to wheel items from the kitchen to the dining room. Proper China cups  and saucers, cake forks, proper loose leaf tea in a china pot, handmade tea cosy ;) 

About as 'fitted' as it gets in the kitchen - 1940s unit probably very 'in' right now! 

The kitchen sink looking out over the back garden. She still grows her own tomato and runner beans and harvests apples from the ancient trees to make chutney. 

It's like walking back in time, but to a simpler, less hectic life. Everything is mended or re used, very little money is spent and there are no luxuries. She doesn't want more than the basics, although she has accepted a small TV, a DVD player (although I suspect she has never used it!) and cordless phones to be able to take them in the  garden in case of a fall. 
The one thing the house isn't? Clutter free!! Oh my, when the time comes, this house may take me a while to clear, but I'm sure to find some treasures in there too :) 

Monday, 4 January 2016

Calm down Mrs D!

I think I need to take a moment and breathe!

I would appear to have got myself worked up into a bit of a lather which, somewhat perversely, is preventing me from getting anything done, thereby increasing my sense of anxiety! I know it's ridiculous, so I'm going to take my time, write lists and prioritise what I need to do.
I don't tend to do much housework over the two weeks surrounding Christmas and the New Year, so the house needs a VERY a good clean and I have a huge pile of ironing to get done too. I'm nearly there on taking all the Christmas decorations down and packed away for next year now at least.
My priority for this week is to get my surroundings back to a manageable state before deciding on order of attack for the bigger items.
Tomorrow is Mr D's Birthday and in a couple of weeks, it is our youngests Birthday, then we can pull back in the celebrating for a while. Don't know about you, but I find it quite exhausting!

I also need to lose the extra poundage I have gained - yikes! Less said there, the better :(

In the background is a sense of uncertainty at what 2016 might bring....

Jet is going in for his first elbow operation this Thursday so he will then need to be kept immobile for six weeks - should be interesting! The Vet did suggest using a mild sedative for the first few weeks at least to keep him from his usual bounding about. I'm going to rearrange the room, removing the settee which is his bed and replacing it with the 'duvet' bed I made for him. I'm trying to avoid having to use a cage for him, but we can borrow one if we need to. I think we'll just have to wait and see. Six months after this op, he'll have to have the next operation on the other elbow and we'll have to go through the whole rigmarole once again. I do hope this is all successful.

When my mother died, there were mistakes made in the lead up to her second stroke and so there was a multi agency investigation initiated (by us). We received the report last week. It made distressing reading of course and brought back lots of bad memories. Part of me wants to just leave it at that. She's at peace now and I'm not sure I've got the energy for the fight, but it doesn't sit well with me to leave it. You see, it wasn't just one or two agencies where mistakes were made - it was both hospitals, both homes, the pharmacist and the GP who all failed to follow procedures and guidelines leading to a failure to provide Mum with the care she should have had. Reading the report is quite horrifying. So my brother and I are having to decide what we will do next. I am particularly concerned that the report doesn't not fill me with confidence of any positive changes to be implemented. An apology would have been nice too and an acknowledgment that these agencies had not followed their own protocols - too much blaming one another going on for my liking.  I had hoped that all of that would be left behind in 2015, but her house isn't sold yet either and now there is all of this wrangling. Hey ho!

There is the potential for a massive a shift in how and where we live in 2016. Whilst this is what I have wanted for years, it still makes me nervous. In so many ways, it's so much safer to just keep the status quo and carry on as we are, but I do know that, psychologically, that wouldn't be good for me. Keep your fingers crossed that I'm not about to push us headlong into a disastrous mistake! I am approaching it sensibly of course and we do have a financial cushion, but it is still a huge step into the unknown after 20+ years of living a steady suburban lifestyle. It's exciting yet terrifying - I just need to keep the terror under control :)

Physio and claims are still ongoing after the car accident so that too will be rumbling along in the background. All very tedious!

I think my best bet is to compartmentalise, focus on one area at a time and take baby steps...oh and stop watching box sets on Netflix!!
I'm off to get something done for a change :)