Sunday, 27 December 2015

Merry Christmas

What a lovely relaxing Christmas we've had here.  I think the children had their best year yet for great presents, Adam in particular was thrilled with his stop motion camera and ten kilos of plasticine (I am not joking) and has already made three or four videos.

I bought Mr G a table. Before I'm chastised for being a crap wife, he fell in love with it. It's solid oak, and my friend H had done it up to sell. I bought it secretly and he was thrilled. Unfortunately, my odd shaped house had nowhere to put it, even 'just until', so we had to take the tree down on Christmas Eve. Our presents were then put under the table (you can't make this up).

Although if you believed Mr G, this is what he had for Christmas...

Yes. Coal and a tangerine. He's only short of a hoop and a stick. Bless him.  I had a Up wristband which is fab!  I found out that a) I'm fat and b) that I am a really light sleeper for most of the night.  No wonder I'm always tired and cranky.  

On Christmas Eve I had three nice surprises, I woke up to find £25 in my lottery account and a free lucky dip. I was tweeted by Harvey Nicks who told me that my #giftface had won me a treat (this being a toss up between the epilator and the portrait of Mr G I received from him on our first Christmas together) and a member of their team would be in touch with me next week!  I can't wait to see what it is, I don't know if it's big or small, but either way!  Then, as they come in threes, I won £5 Amazon voucher from Tengi, a chat app that I use now that I don't have access to Messenger.  

Christmas dinner was fab, as usual, and it was nice to have Dan home with us this year...

Boxing Day is when we traditionally go to my Mum's for a buffet.  The weather was atrocious, Mr G had popped to Pringles to buy some heavily reduced Old Guys Rule t shirts with his Christmas money. Then, he popped to PC World to get Cait a nano sim for her phone. A55 closed, Caernarfon Road flooded, he lost his number plate in the flood waters.  Thankfully he got through it and home.  My parents back yard was about four inches deep with rain water.  

This morning I'm torn between relaxing (properly relaxing too!) for the first time this Christmas. I'm talking onesie, slippers, junk food, reading books to reach my 100 book Goodreads Challenge.  And cleaning.  Because my house is wrecked.  More 'stuff' added to a house without room for the stuff it already has.  I have guests staying from New Years Eve.  But I am wiped out after the last two days... Chilling it is!  

Friday, 18 December 2015

Recipe - Walnut Falafel with Tzatziki and Mr G Bakes a Cake!

Well, it's 'Mad Friday'.  My least favourite Friday of the year, promptly followed by 'Black' and 'the thirteenth'.  The only thing 'mad' around here however, is me.  And the craziest thing that I did today was make falafel  #hardcore  However, unlike me, the night is still young.  I hope my son and his friends stay safe and sensible tonight while they're out... doing what young people do nowadays.  The less I know the better.

The children finished school today, as did Dan at Uni, but he's staying at his Halls tonight, which is better for him than having to pay for a taxi home.  We'll pick him up tomorrow with all his worldly belongings.  It will be nice to have him back home for a bit, although he will be going to see his father just after Christmas too so I'll only have him for about a week. The house looks all cosy and festive.  And... tidy.  For the last time until January *sad face*

Walnut Falafel with homemade Tzatziki

For the Falafel:
2 cups of walnuts (I used chopped)
2 tins of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or equivalent amount, cooked
2 tsp of minced garlic
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
Black pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil for frying

For the Tzatziki
1 cup fat free Natural Yogurt
½ cup cucumber, peeled and shredded
¼ cup celery, shredded
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper

Whisk together all Tzatziki sauce ingredients until smooth.

Process all falafel ingredients, except for the oil, in a food processor until well mixed.

Like so...

Form 24 balls or patties out of the mixture, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.  Fry in a large frying pan for 3 - 5 minutes or until golden brown.  Alternatively, these may also be brushed with a little oil and baked in the oven, 200C, Gas Mark 6 for 20 minutes.

If frying, take care as the mixture will spit.  I fried half the mixture and baked the rest, as I didn't fancy spending Mad Friday in the hospital.

Serve on flatbreads, wraps or naan bread.  Top with the tzatziki sauce, salad and chopped walnuts (optional). 

Then Mr G made a cake.  The only thing I was allowed to do was give him was the recipe and then supervise.  So, from start to finish, it is his cake.  It looks and tastes fabulous!  Only the second cake he's ever made in his life, and he's nearly 54, so he's done really well. 

Mr G's Festive Victoria Sponge

Doesn't that look gorgeous?  I think so anyway.  This is something I could definitely get used to.  So, now that we're all cooked out (for today anyway!) I've made myself a White Russian cocktail and I've settled down for the night.  See if there's anything funny on telly, and have a think about what I'm going to cook tomorrow :-)  Possibly some nice Scotch Eggs, a Carrot Cake for Ryan and I might do some mini cheesecakes in a muffin tin, so I can just pop them in the freezer and take them out when we want one.  The children aren't huge cheesecake lovers, so this way it doesn't mean that Mr G and I end up eating the whole thing to ourselves!  Definitely feeling a bit more relaxed and festive now that almost everything is sorted for Christmas :-)

Monday, 14 December 2015


The tree is up.  The little knick knacks are interspersed around the house, the windows are lit up.  All the presents are wrapped.  The cards are hanging.  The freezer is full.  And I feel very, very meh about the whole thing.  Anyone else?

I always maintain that I love Christmas, but year on year now, I find that I am trying desperately to recapture a feeling of days gone by.  And with each passing year, it seems to elude me further.  Everyone says 'There's no Christmas spirit' or 'It doesn't feel like Christmas, does it?'.  No, it doesn't.  I'm now beginning to wonder that if it's something that you don't feel as a parent and an adult?  When we were children, the most we had to worry about was writing our Christmas cards and not being able to sleep on Christmas Eve.  We woke up, we were gifted presents, had a meal cooked for us, and were able to play all day with our new things.  Now, the stress starts early.  Children expect so much these days, and my children aren't anywhere near as bad as a lot of children I know.  One mother of four told me that her daughter wanted an iPhone and an iPod.  She's nine, by the way.  What the actual hell?  It's not so bad now that three of mine are in the loop and know there's a budget, but when a certain child thinks that the cost of gifts is funded by a fat man in a red suit, well, why shouldn't the sky be the limit?  Do you shatter their dreams early, or get into debt to keep the magic going for them a little while longer?

We've just had a £610 all in car repair bill to pay out too, so that hasn't helped my mood.  If it's got tyres or testicles, as they say.

Adam performed in his Christmas Concert last week, this year the Junior Department did Oliver, and it was fantastic as usual.  Adam narrated a part of the play, and he really surprised me.  For a child who is constantly worried and stressing over the smallest, insignificant things, he was so confident up on stage.  He blew me away.  Bless him.  Next year will be his last Christmas Concert.  My last Christmas Concert.  After seeing four children through sixteen years worth concerts thus far.  It's quite frightening how time flies.

Mr G and I are off Christmas Window Shopping on Wednesday.  We're not sure if we're going to Llandudno or Wrexham yet.  He likes Llandudno at Christmastime, I think the shops are better in Wrexham.  Not that we have any money to spend wherever we go, but still.  There's a shop in Wrexham that sells a wonderful variety of wool colours.  I've found a chart for a jumper I want to knit, The Amazing World of Gumball.  I need a specific blue and orange.  It's our last moment of peace together before the schools close, I just want to get out of the house for a few hours, grab a bite of lunch, hopefully somewhere new so I can add it to my 40 before 40 list.   I have a bit of cooking and baking to do, some sausage rolls, scotch eggs, cheesecake, but I haven't got the heart to do it.  I really need cheering up, and fast.  *stamps feet* SOMEONE CHEER ME UP!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

My Eyes...

My eyes.  Yesterday I went to have more tests on my eyes for the suspected Glaucoma.  I was already dreading it, because the last time I had eye drops (thinking about it, this was about 19 years ago), I was violently sick.  I projectile vomited.  I had warned Helen about this, but I don't think she took me seriously until she saw what happened yesterday.

I had a detailed field of vision test done.  The one where you click the button when you see a shimmer in the picture?  When she told me that if I got tired I could pause the test by long holding the button, I wondered how long were they planning on having me there, that I would feel the need to pause it??  I soon found out.  Then it was in to have the eye drops that would enlarge my pupils.  That's where the fun began.  She put the drops in my right eye, and they bloody stung.  I closed my eyes and rested my head back.  I could feel my head swimming.  I must have looked dreadful because she asked me if I wanted some water.  I shook my head and grabbed her bin off the floor.  I was sat there clutching a waste paper bin with the intention of spewing into it.  I asked her to do the other eye quickly.  I knew she was doing this in between her normal appointments, but I couldn't move.  Her door was open and I could see down the room to the High Street and I just wanted to be outside.  How I made it to Mr G in the waiting area is beyond me, and he had to take me outside, where I hyperventilated, and had a panic attack.  He told me to breathe in through my nose, and out through my mouth, and even those simple commands I couldn't follow, I was gulping air in.  I felt sick and I thought I was going to pass out.  He took me back in to sit down, and he told me I had gone yellow, green and grey in colour.  It took about fifteen minutes for this to pass.  Thank God I'd skipped breakfast.

Then I had to have photographs taken of my eyes.  I've had this done before... but I had eight pictures taken, four on each eye.  Wah.  I saw Helen for my results and the detailed tests gave a better indicator of where things stood, that I do have thick corneas, and this allowed for a certain 'score' on each eye to be subtracted from the 'normal' score.  The result was better than it had been the previous two times.  But she still wasn't happy with one of the figures, so I was back in to the testing room for another two photographs of my eyes.  The outcome?  If she referred me now, the issue wasn't so serious that they would see me immediately and I would probably still be waiting for an appointment in 6 months time.  Or she could not refer me, and instead she could see me again in 6 months time, repeat the tests and monitor me that way.  If things had deteriorated by then, she could refer me as an emergency and I would be seen quickly.  We decided to go for that option.

I just wanted to go home but we didn't have a bus for an hour (still no car!).  We did a bit of shopping, and while in the bus stop, one of our friends passed and gave us a lift home, I was so grateful.  The rest of the afternoon I was useless.  I felt so sick.  My head was banging after having that light flashed in my eyes ten times.  I felt sick, like I'd been on a fairground ride repeatedly.  My eyes just felt strained, and sore, and tender.  And naturally, after going to bed, Mr G fell into a deep sleep and started snoring.  So I came down and crashed on the sofa.  Four hours of 'sofa sleep' and here I am, like a wet blanket.  Today should be fun. 

One thing is for definite, I do need to get some help for this medical phobia.  People genuinely don't understand how debilitating it is.  I also think it's been preying on my mind because - I am getting older.  And with aging (in most cases, not all) comes some form of illness, degeneration, and as I've seen in my parents case, even my husband who is 14 years older than me, the likelihood of having to have a blood test, injection and operation is increased.

It really is hard to explain to someone who doesn't have the same fear as you.  People really don't understand.  Instead they try to empathise, and it's not something that you can empathise with?  You could be a 6 foot 5, butch, alpha male who is terrified of spiders, and I'll empathise with you, as I cup that spider in my bare hands and carry it outside to freedom, shall I?  I don't particularly like spiders, nor relish touching them... but I can touch them, and I don't see why you/he/she can't or why you're terrified of something that's so small, and can't hurt you... do I need to go on?   Not all phobias are rational and empathy doesn't work where phobias are concerned.  I appreciate that there are very few people who like having needles, but 'not liking' needles is completely and utterly different to being phobic.  It's the difference between someone who doesn't like nuts and someone who is allergic to them eating a peanut butter sandwich.  One might gag, or pull a face.  The other might die.  Here are some real life comments and conversations.

Friend - I had to go for a blood test today.
Me - Oh, I couldn't.  I'm needle phobic, I'm absolutely terrified of needles.
Friend - Me too.
Me - But you had the blood test?
Friend - Yes.
Me - ...

Friend - You just have to get over it.  Look away.  Think about something else.  It doesn't hurt (my personal favourite!  I know it doesn't bloody hurt!  That's not the issue!  If pain was the issue, I wouldn't have given birth four times, would I?  I'm in pain daily with my back, and I function!)
Me - ...

Friend - What happens if you get ill?  What happens if you get cancer and need chemo?  If you need dialysis three times a week?  If you become diabetic and need to inject yourself daily?  Are you really telling me that you wouldn't seek treatment, just because you're scared of having a tiny needle, that you can't even feel?  When stubbing your toe probably hurts more?  You would really rather die than do that?
Me - ...

And believe you me, when I see it written out like that, I can appreciate how ridiculous it might look and sound to someone who doesn't have this phobia.  I do actually see it rationally, in black and white.  But getting my mind on board?  Impossible. 

True story, when my oldest son was a month away from his third birthday, he contracted Meningitis and Septicaemia.  He was very, very ill in hospital.  Public Health phoned me up and wanted a list, names and addresses of everyone he had been in contact with over x days.  We all needed vaccinating.  My son was in a private room.  At this point the medical staff were all confident of a full recovery, but he was still hooked up to drips and monitors.  The Doctor came in and told me I would need the vaccination.  I had managed somehow to evade him for a few days.  I asked him to give me a moment, I needed to use the bathroom opposite.  I went in, I locked myself in.   It must have taken them the best part of half an hour to coax me out.  I sat on my son's bed, sobbing, while he was consoling me—"Don't cry Mummy, it won't hurt."  I felt like such a fool, such a failure, after everything my poor toddler's body had been through that past week, and I was hysterical over a mere vaccination, one that could save my life one day, and he was comforting me

So I think we can ascertain that my phobia is psychological.  I think the trigger being when I passed out after having an injection in school when I was twelve.  It might have been something completely unconnected.  It may have been a hot day.  I may have skipped breakfast.  It could have been a multitude of things.  But my mind has connected needles with fainting.  I also find the idea of both a) taking something out of my body (blood) and b) putting something into my body, abhorrent.  The former is taking something that I perceive my body needs to function, and the latter is putting a 'foreign body' into mine.  Where to go from here though, I don't know.  I don't know if my Doctor would take me seriously, to be honest?   I suppose there's only one way to find out.