bread1_1921837cAlong with this healthier, alcohol-free lifestyle that I’m living, I had one of my Grand Ideas. And that Grand Idea was…



So, like the well-prepared little person I’m not (and I really am not – you only have to ask my sister) I raided Amazon and came up with some essential goodies. A mixing bowl, cake tins, storage tins, a few books on baking and one on icing (I’m doing fondant icing for D’s birthday cake next month and need some pointers).

farmers-bread-ingredientsBefore anything could happen, of course, ingredients were needed. So off I trotted to have a nervous breakdown in Sainsbury’s.

Truly, I detest supermarkets. Whose idea was it to build enormous places full of food and allow people to run riot in them? Why don’t shopping trolleys come equipped with indicators? Would your average Half Asleep Dimwit (do they invade all local supermarkets, or do they just live in mine?) even know what the flashy-blinky light thingy actually meant, if trollies posessed them? The individual who ran over my foot wouldn’t have noticed if I’d grabbed a wet trout from the fish counter and whacked him with it. But that’s a horrible way to treat a poor defenceless dead thing (I mean the fish, not the Half Brained Numpty). I don’t care if I forgot half of what I need for D’s birthday cake (and I almost certainly did) because I am never going to Sainsbury’s again! Unless there’s a shiny new tarantula in it for me as a reward, or Johnny Depp has been spotted in the whisky aisle without his horrible whiny fiancee tagging along. No. Nuh Uh. A night with The Blobbendales would be more appealing than another hour in Sainsbury’s.

Anyway. Bread. Yes. For this you need the following:

The Hairy BakerOne Hairy Baker.

The Hairy Baker's Bowl

A Hairy Baker and her mixing bowl.

There, that should do it!

Throw Stuff into mixing bowl and, um… mix together until you have sticky gloop. Wait twenty minutes, then remove the sticky gloop from your bowl and pummel the crap out of it for twenty minutes. Apologise to it, then wait an hour and a half until you have this:

First ProvingAir bubbles held together with Stuff Wot You Made From Gloop

Throw it around some more, until you have a basic bread shape. Sculpt a willy on it and see if anybody notices (they didn’t).

Ready For Second ProvingAfter allowing it to prove some more you’ll end up with this:

Almost There! 27-12-2014It’s absorbed the baking tray! Hey, what happened to my willy?!!

Shove it into the oven after maybe about an hour of letting it grow, and you end up with something like this:

Bread2And here we have it – my first ever attempt at bread! I used a very basic recipe and am excited to learn more techniques, but – given that I’ve never made a loaf of bread before in my life – I’m really very pleased with this.

I think that, next time, I’d like to sculpt it so that it’s rounder and taller, but this will be a welcome accompaniment to D’s homemade soups. Or stew. Or maybe I could just break a hunk off, smother it in lovely butter (I’m enjoying dairy produce again, now that I know I was never lactose intolerant in the first place – but that’s another story for another time) and eat it with a mug of cocoa if we run out of crumpets.

In short (too late!) I feel that this is far more productive than nursing a bottle of wine and swearing at the TV. More kitchen shenanigans shall follow!

Which reminds me; the batch of red cabbage I pickled before Christmas is the best I’ve ever done. Probably because I remembered the spices this time.

Chopped Red Cabbage

Posted in Accomplishments, Baking, Gemma's Kitchen, Homemaking, I Made This, Lovely Smells, Pickling, Sainsbury's, Supermarket Nightmares, Tales From Tribble Towers, The Hairy Housewife | 4 Comments

No, You Are Not Seeing Things!

The Real Me, Hope Orchard (Cheltenham) December 2014

The Real Me, Hope Orchard (Cheltenham) December 2014

Well I couldn’t very well remain “The Rose Wine Lover” now that I’m teetotal, could I? That would make no sense whatsoever, even to a mind as random as my own; and so The Hairy Housewife has been born (regenerated?) from the ashes of my old life instead.

So… where exactly should I begin, under this new name? I suppose I ought to begin with the past weekend, visiting my family.

This was the first time I’d been away from home since my hospitalisation and recovery, so it was extremely tiring – but, as always, worth it. After we’d settled into our room at Hope Orchard (where we always stay) my Mum opened her house to us for stonebaked pizza with garlic bread, and drinks for those who wanted. I’m perfectly happy with tonic water and cranberry juice, but have no objections to the husband-shape having the occasional beer. Why should I? Besides, it is Christmas! My sister also dropped by, as we hadn’t seen each other closer to my birthday as planned – due to my health – and we do miss each other, living on different sides of the U.K as we do. Next year I’d like to plan a few weekends that are just about my sister and I, rather than trying to squeeze everybody and everything into one weekend (these visits will also, of course, encompass my parents).

My son is as well as can be expected; he still resides in the same residential college/unit as before, but will be transferred next summer when he is nineteen. He is to have an operation soon, which I would sooner not speak about now because the time schedule for this is not as yet in place. Suffice to say that he will be seeing an end to what may very well be an entire lifetime of considerable pain.

Driving HomeAs you can see here, the weather could have been better (we were driving home at this point, but the entire weekend in Cheltenham had included temperatures of freezing or below). Thankfully I recently gutted my entire wardrobe due to my change in weight (it was truly amazing just how little there was of me hidden underneath all of that hideous, agonising ascites) and my new purchases include extremely warm and cozy jumpers, along with new jeans; I’ve not worn jeans for years because I was generally ill and uncomfortable and couldn’t stand to have anything buttoned across my stomach and it actually feels quite marvellous to be able to slip them on again.

Finally, on to the main question that I know you’ve all been wanting to ask:

What Have I Been Doing Since Being Teetotal?

Truthfully… not an awful lot. Mostly recovering, eating and regaining my strength (now sorely depleted again after the weekend, so much sleeping is currently on the agenda). I’ve been caring for my tarantulas, doing a little bit of tidying here and there, clearing my wardrobe and my section of the chest of drawers of unwanted/rendered useless clothing (and being messed about by time wasters on Freecycle as a result) and have even resumed my pickling hobby!

I am also making a return to baking, after at least eighteen years away from it. As a child I used to do a lot of baking with my grandmother, and have recently found myself missing her home made Welsh cakes, and a new-found love of cakes in general (which can be blamed on my Mother-In-Law). Hence the purchase of some books on baking (my Good Housekeeping Cook Book from 1987 doesn’t have recipes for anything my grandmother ever taught me!), an apron and a large stonewear mixing bowl; my grandmother actually gave me such a mixing bowl as a gift for my first home, but it was sadly broken in transit during one of my many house moves. Recipes for carrot cake, Welsh cakes, boiled fruit cake and a few other old favourites have been found online and printed off, and all that’s missing now is the ingredients, which I see no point in buying until I actually have all the utensils to hand – and books, of course; just because… well, because they’re cookery books and you can never have too many of those.

I have also discovered that I am not actually lactose intolerant as always believed – even that was a side effect of having a dodgy liver – and so I have taken to drinking hot chocolate before bed again. I am very much looking forward to baking my first batch of biscuits to go with it.

I have learned a lot over this past year – mostly about myself and my own body. I have literally conquered Death, come back fighting and reset my priorities. My interests have changed. I have changed.

And all of it is for the better. Contentment is in every waking moment now, and I feel blessed by my home, my husband’s heart and my wonderful family.

Wishing you all a wonderful festive season and new year,

The Hairy Housewife, AKA The Rose Wine Lover.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Posted in All Change!, Baking, Health, Life, Lifestyle, The Kitchen | Tagged | 15 Comments

Hexadecimal: The Spider Who Changed My Perspective

Yesterday I paid my first visit to my liver specialist, to see how I’ve been progressing since I left hospital in September, and things are looking so good that there may not even be a need for me to have a liver transplant. I half-jokingly asked if he still thinks I only have six months, upon which he grinned somewhat sheepishly and replied that actually no; he thinks I have a good deal longer. I intend to make that years longer, thank you very much: twenty-five more years would be nice. Perhaps even thirty.

This , however – whilst all-round good news – is not what I have come here to write about. I would like to talk about a tiny little spider named Hexadecimal, without whom I may not be here now – or would at least still be in bed, believing myself to be far sicker than I actually am. Continue reading

Posted in Health, Liver Cirrhosis | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

The Veil: Death Changes You

The ValeTo all intents and purposes, I should be dead. I’m supposed to have died that night in August, when I haemorrhaged and was taken to A&E. I should have left hospital in a box – not in the passenger seat of my husband’s car, exhausted but alive.

Sitting in your living room admiring your tarantulas, being cuddled by your husband and eating your way through delicious meals when you found yourself unable to bear the thought of food due to your medical condition at one time really does serve to ram this one simple fact home.

I should be dead.

Death-bill-image-death-bill-36776552-400-224I have touched the very Veil; even parted it like a shimmering, ghostly curtain, and seen the other side – the Afterlife. Nobody is supposed to come back from that, and yet here I am. For reasons known only to the Gods, I have been given another chance. It is a very humbling honour that seems to be bestowed on only a few.

Knowing that you should no longer be of this earthly plane changes you. For me, waking up every morning and checking the weather is a miracle. It’s one more day on this beautiful planet that mustn’t be wasted – even if currently my main contact with the outside world is through the internet. I no longer touch alcohol, and I approach food with relish and enjoyment, as opposed to simply eating because I must. It’s a pleasure again. Every week I look younger and fuller in the face; every week I achieve something that I was unable to do even six months ago.

I take nothing for granted; every new day is a gift, as is whatever the day has to offer. I am planning an inexpensive, simple, teetotal Christmas and revelling in it. I shall be thanking my Gods, and making a toast to whoever donated their blood to save me. I wish the donors responsible could know that I’m here to enjoy another Yule because of them.

One other thing I’ve learned? Death isn’t to be feared; in fact, he’s rather a pleasant chap who obviously decided at the last moment that this isn’t my time.

Posted in Alcohol, Cirrhosis, Death, Health, Joy, Life, Liver, Second Chance, Survival, Teetotalism, The Real Second Life, The Vale | 10 Comments

Health: How The Train Stopped And The Nightmare Began

falling_angel_by_sugarock99-d48b5gn“Stay on the train”

That’s what he’s said to me every day since he had The Dream. “Stay on the train”.

The Dream:

He says we were on the train that crosses the Channel Tunnel. I became confused and alighted several stops too soon – then, as he searched for me, I disappeared from sight. I knew what the dream meant; I’d known for some time. Continue reading

Posted in Health | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Other End Of The Telescope

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen you look through a telescope you witness the entire world expanding. You can see past the horizon, or you can see planets hiding out among the stars that you are unable to see with the naked eye alone. Truly a wonderful invention.

Now take this very same wonderful invention and turn it the other way around. Suddenly, your sphere of existence narrows to a pinprick. No horizon, no stars, just… nothing. Just you, isolated and alone, unable to see what’s in front of you.

That’s very much how it is when a doctor tells you that your body is essentially disintegrating and that you are dying.

Oh don’t worry; I don’t plan on going anywhere yet. I was born with the Morris fight and the Knight fire flowing through my veins. I probably have a good 20+ years in me yet – it just might be a painful 20+ years. I’m used to pain and I’ll handle it like a trooper. I won’t let my Nan down and just give in. The genes I inherited are not healthy ones, and I’ve always known that. It was only a matter of time, really, before a doctor was going to deliver the news that my body is failing. Continue reading

Posted in Death, Illness, Life, Pondering | 3 Comments

A Visit To The Hospital

A&E“What happened to your eye?”

Excuse me? I’m here because I’ve been vomiting blood and you want to talk about my eye?

To do a quick rewind: I was put on Naproxen for the pain in my feet. Not only did it not help in the pain department, but mysterious bruises began to pop up all over my body.

Last Thursday I woke up, got out of bed and struggled down the stairs. The moment I sat down, Dom asked me what on earth I’d done to my eye. Well, I hadn’t done anything to it at all; I hadn’t fallen over, I’d not thumped myself in my sleep (which I am apparently quite prone to doing) and certainly nothing had happened to drive my glasses into my face. Continue reading

Posted in 2014, Accusations, Adapting, Attitudes, B12 Deficiency, Calcium, Disability, English Hospitals, Epilepsy, Hydroxocobalamin, Illness, Injuries, Naproxen, Pain, Vitamin D, Vitamin Deficiencies | 10 Comments

It Started With A Twitch

AtosMy doctor’s eyebrows shot up considerably when I mentioned that I was used to Restless Leg Syndrome. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember – that itching, burning, tickling, almost-pain coming from inside my limbs – and so I couldn’t quite fathom the possible significance of this. I would soon find out. Continue reading

Posted in Blood Tests, Health, Ongoing Illness, Vitamin D | 6 Comments

On Your Birthday

GrandmotherWithout you, I wouldn’t be the person I’ve become. Without you, I would have a very different view of the world. Perhaps I would not be so kind, or so fond of Nature. Perhaps I would have grown up selfish, as opposed to selfless. Financially I would definitely be richer had I never witnessed kindness and compassion such as yours, but my life would have been so much poorer for not having that warmth of heart and the kindness of soul that you taught me to own and use. Continue reading

Posted in Birthdays, Death, Family, Loved Ones, Nan, Open Letter | 5 Comments

Me And The Girls; Book Clubbing

BarooshWelcome to Baroosh, the city centre tapas bar which is perfect for friends, colleagues and groups of like-minded people to meet up, chat, have nibbles and get tipsy enjoy a drink or two. You can always tell which table the book club is occupying; it’s the largest, noisiest one in the place and there’s often a blonde wearing a hat (that would be me then). Hats are useful for when I’m under the weather and can’t really tend to my personal appearance.

Well, that’s how it used to be anyway. Continue reading

Posted in Baroosh, Book Clubs, Chelmsford, Disappointment, Food, Group Meetings, Uncategorized | 4 Comments