Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Podcasts: Star Talk

I've been suffering with insomnia for about 15 years. I used to go to bed at about 12 o'clock and lie there for hours just looking at the ceiling, hoping I would get some shut-eye. The nights would drag on and on, never ending (and actually still do!). A few years ago I decided, to ease the loneliness, I would listen to the BBC World Service. I soon fell in love with it as they had everything from Science to World Music! Last year while chatting to a friend about it, he recommended I listen to a few different podcasts that might interest me. So, while searching for science-y stuff, I came across Star Talk by Neil deGrasse Tyson. I had seen Neil interviewed for many a science programme on Discovery Science Channel and found him very interesting, so I was excited to get stuck in to his podcast.

Star Talk is a 40-50 minute podcast by Neil deGrasse Tyson the director of the Hayden Planetarium, New York. The podcast, which was launched in 2009, covers subjects from dark matter to the science of sex and has a range of co-hosts from comedian Chuck Nice to chef Anthony Bourdain (Swoon) It is hilarious and very informative and they have an episode that they do every once in a while called Cosmic Queries (My favourite!). This episode allows listeners to mail in and ask questions about the universe and other things science related and Neil has to answer them as fast as he can, with help from his comedian co-hosts. I would definitely recommend this podcast to amateur astronomers and anyone with an interest in science.

Do you have any podcasts that you recommend?

Monday, 30 December 2013

Party food: Sticky sausages (and Christmas update)

I hope 2014 brings you all happiness and health in abundance!



Sticky Sausages

  • 2lb cocktail sausages
  • 4 floz Honey or Maple Syrup
  • 1 floz Sesame oil
  • 1 floz Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Sesame seeds

 Preheat the oven to 200c

In a bowl or jug mix the Sesame oil, Soy sauce and honey and whisk well.

 (Looks good enough to drink, no?)

Separate the sausages and place them in a baking tray (I use a disposable tray as the stickiness is a curse to get off my baking tray!) Pour the sticky sauce over the sausages. 

Take a spatula, turn and coat the sausages in the mixture. Pop in the oven for between 25-30 minutes. When they are done, let them cool down and the sauce gets really sticky.. YUM!

Finally, just before serving, sprinkle the Sesame seeds over the top!

And breathe....

Finally the craziness of Christmas is over for another year! This year was uber stressful/emotional as it was my first Christmas without my Mother, so that largely loomed over us for most of the month of December. We decided not to put up decorations this year as neither the Hubster or myself were in the mood to celebrate. We still bought small gifts for each other, though it was very weird not opening them under the Christmas tree like we did every year. This year it was just my Dad, Hubster, Sushi and myself for Christmas dins. I tried to wrangle the rest of the family and after the year that was in it, I thought they would make the effort..but alas. It was a real eye-opener this year, looking in from the outside. I realised that the true meaning of Christmas; rudeness, anger and craziness. The desperate shoppers looking for presents with no meaning or thought behind them, it was like a crazy free-for-all in the local shopping center. People were shopping like an Armageddon was coming! (The shops were only closed for Christmas Day) So we've decided that next year we are going to rent a dog friendly cabin and have a holiday away from it all. Sounds like bliss and I'm already marking off the days on my Simon's Cat calendar that Himself bought me as a Christmas present. :-D And finally 2013 is nearly over! I'll be glad to see the back of it too after 3 suicides and a cancer scare, I'm hoping 2014 is going to be more positive and peaceful for my family and friends. (Plus my soul mate is coming home from Australia in March!!) So while I'm gearing up to give 2013 the middle finger, here is a recipe for Sticky Sausages for our New Years Eve party. (It's just myself and the menagerie, Himself has to work)

Sunday, 8 December 2013

When the blog..

..gets neglected.

Things haven't been mad crazy over the last few months but I've found that my recovery from the operation has been slow. (Finally getting my voice back though!) The scar has healed fine but my energy levels have been so low that just to get out of bed and make a cup of tea has been an achievement for the day. After seeing the specialist in October and being prescribed with a strong dose of Eltroxin, I really thought I'd be back in full swing, but that didn't happen. So along with my usual procrastinating and low energy/mood levels I just didn't feel inspired to post or do much else.(My allotment is a disgrace at the moment!) I've decided, I am going to make the effort to post at least once every two weeks, just to get back into the swing of things. I've been reading so many blogs this week, now I'm ready to kick myself up the arse and try it again. I hope y'all bear with me as I get back into the swing of things! Roll on Spring!

Friday, 13 September 2013

The woes of hospital

This is a long winded post about my recent stay in hospital, if you don't feel up to reading it, please scroll to the bottom of the post for my results.

3 weeks ago I finally got the call I had been waiting for, I was getting surgery to remove a malignant tumor from my thyroid. A few weeks previous I had received a letter instructing me to call the hospital on the 19th of August to make sure there was a bed available for me. When the day came, I was at odds with myself if I wanted to have the operation or leave it. To any normal person this sounds ridiculous right? But since I was 15 I have been suffering with agoraphobia. It has hindered my life in a lot of ways, so to stay for 3 nights in a hospital, was my vision of hell. I have the tools to help with the panic, but the unknown and not having my safety blanket (my Mom), well I really thought I couldn't go ahead with it. I had prepared myself that morning by reading about the operation and made a list of questions to ask the surgeon. Normally I would shy away from asking questions because I felt quite intimidated by doctors and surgeons in the past. This time I was determined not to be dismissed. I packed my bag with Mp3 player stuffed with Mindful Meditation tracks, Rescue Remedy, snuggly blanket, paper and pen and books. Basically anything that would make my stay feel a bit like home (sans cats & dog)

When I arrived my anxiety was through the roof and I felt that no breathing exercise and progressive muscle relaxation was going to get me through the few days. The nurse came around and took my details and got me settled into bed. I was in a room with 5 other ladies. The room was old and dirty, stained and cold. 3 of the ladies were Alzheimer's patients and one in particular was, how do I say this, from a troubled background? I wasn't looking forward to the night!

The lights went out at about 10pm, which for me, is when I get my second burst of life. I just ended up reading the whole night, 2 of the Alzheimer patients shouted the whole night, the other one went on the run, I think I got about an hours sleep before the light came on at 6am. An hour or so later the surgeon came. He informed me that the operation wasn't going to be 'keyhole' and that half my thyroid would be removed. PANIC! I hadn't prepared myself for this at all. I rang my Dad and had a chat before agreeing to sign the consent form. I was so nervous and just wanted my Mam to be there to hold my hand. I ended up upsetting myself to the point that the nurse gave me a Xanax.

At 2pm the nurse came to get me. I walked to the theater which I thought was a bit odd, normally they take you by wheelchair, but I didn't mind too much as my arse was hanging out the back of my gown and it was keeping my mind off the operation. When I got to the prep area all of the surgeons were standing in the hall looking at me. They all had such friendly faces which really put my mind at ease. They took me in and put me on 'the slab' and had a joke about tummy tucks and nose jobs. I lay down, took a deep breath and counted....

Sick & swollen after surgery
1 week after surgery

I woke up after having the best freakin' sleep ever! I felt OK, not sore and after a while in recovery I was back in the dark, dirty ward. Himself and my brother called up an hour later. I didn't feel like I had surgery (I'm sure I was up to the eyeballs om good drugs!) I felt normal, no anxiety at all. They stayed for a while, took some photos of my blood drainage thing and kissed me goodbye. I was ready for a great sleep... Unfortunately the poor Alzheimer's patients kicked off. One was drunk, trying to light cigarettes, and wrestled a nurse on the floor for a lighter. It got to the point where the security had to sit with her the whole night as she tried to pull my bed neighbour out of the bed by the leg. The other Alzheimer's patient shouted the whole night and the other one went on the run again. The nurses were so overwhelmed and understaffed. 2 nurses for 18 patients, 3 of which had Alzheimer's, it was disgraceful! The next morning I was exhausted, and begged the nurse to ask the doctor to let me go home. About an hour later the doctor arrived, he decided that if I ate something solid I could go home but I'd have to rest for a few days, no lifting heavy items etc. I threw a slice of toast into me and rang my Dad to collect me. I wasn't offered any aftercare so I rang the local chemist for advice. They were great! They contacted the hospital and asked if I needed any medication. They got everything sorted for me.

It's been 3 weeks now and I've finally removed my stitches and the scar is looking so tidy, compared to my appendix scar, you can barely see it!
I had my follow up appointment with the surgeon yesterday and got the best news; they got the tumor and cyst on the right hand-side of the thyroid and they were happy enough it hasn't spread and doesn't require any chemo or radiation therapy. It was such a relief but I will have to go for check ups every 3-6 months. I now have to go on medication to regulate my thyroid and a calcium supplement. I'm so glad it's over and done with, as this last year has been the hardest of my life, so it was great to finally get some good news.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Mini Quicky Quiches


As you know (or may not know) I love to bake, now I'm not saying I'm a master baker (*snigger*) but I love to dabble and the easier the recipe the better! This week I decided to make some mini "quicky quiches". Let me just say, I'm not a huge fan of quiches, I think it's the texture that makes me a little queezy but these little things have just enough egg not to make me want to barf. (Please forgive my shaky photos!)

What you will need:

  • Pre-rolled shortcrust pastry (No messing with me, always a short cut!)
  • 100g grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 60ml milk
  • 60ml of double cream (or heavy cream for the Yanks)
  • Ballymaloe relish (or any other relish you have)
  • salt and pepper
  • Fairy cake baking tray
  • Circular cookie cutter

And GO!

Preheat the oven to 180c.

Grease the baking tray lightly.
Mix together the milk, double cream, large egg and egg yoke in a bowl then add a shake of salt and pepper.

Roll out the pastry and using the cookie cutter, cut out the desired cases.

Place them on the baking tray, pushing the middle of the pastry down gently.

Add 1 teaspoon of relish to each of the cases and use the back of the teaspoon to spread the relish around the bottom of the case.

 Add a pinch of cheese on top of the relish in each case.

Carefully pour the liquid ingredients into each case making sure just to cover the relish (don't fill over the cases as the ingredients will rise slightly anyway)

Pop them on the middle shelf of the pre-heated oven. These should only take about 18-20 minutes to bake (depending on your oven), but keep a wee eye on them, when the tops turn brown they are ready to be taken out.

They are scrumptious eaten straight from the oven, but be careful as the relish is uber hot!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Friday, 2 August 2013

Wishlist - Modcloth

I don't know why I subject myself to the torture of browsing the internet! Last week while clicking random links, I came across this yummy website..that had drool worthy homeware, gifts and clothing! (Hide the credit card please Hubby!) At the moment our budget is super tight so I have to resign myself to drooling on the keyboard hoping my lotto numbers come up soon. Here are a few bits I just had to put on my wishlist;

1. \\ 2. \\ 3.\\ 4. \\ 5. \\ 6. \\ 7.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Daddy & Daughter lunch @ Foley's

The good weather is such a shock to the system this week! As I've never been away anywhere foreign, I am really not used to feeling like I'm walking through extremely warm quicksand. How and ever, as much as I would love to sit in the shade with one of these (minus the fun, straight edge for me!) all day, the housework had to be done and appointments had to be kept.

Last week I went to get my results of the aspiration I received a month or so ago. Although I didn't get good news, I've decided to just keep the chin(s) up and get on with things because life throws these things at you and well, you can lie down and cry or just get on with it, the later is what I am doing. I was a little upset and shocked that day, but on the way home the Father thought it would be nice to go get some lunch at his local hangout (this is where he hides out when he's supposed to be working *cough cough*) This is a wee quaint thatch cottage called Foley's in the village of Castlebellingham. They make hearty Irish dinners, full Irish breakfasts and yummy desserts and if that didn't get you going, they have the most amazing antique shop at the back of the tea room! In fact, I spent most of our lunch drooling over antlers for our antler wall in the front room. Here are some photos from Foley's!

So quaint, so beautiful

Itty bitty tea set

Love this, but Himself says NO!

These Apple Sauce heads totally freak me out, can't understand why though..

I NEED these for my front room!!

Want this for my kitch-en!

Bye bye little tea room!