Signing On and Tidy Desks

Today I am job hunting. And tidying my desk. I thought I would just put that out there. It's not to say I haven't been looking for the last 2 months, it's just today I'm having to be more formal about it.

I signed on last week for (I think) contribution based job seekers allowance which now means all of my job hunting efforts will be scrutinised. I say, I think because I was totally lost about what I actually applied for because it seemed to have changed between me making the initial claim online and the interview.

I'm just going with the flow.

To be honest the whole thing is a bit scary. Walking into the job centre was scary. Figuring out all the forms, was scary. I've never needed to do this before, so it was all totally new. And scary. And the thought of proving to someone what I have done, how I have done, what I'm planning on doing and so on, does seem intrusive.

However, when I thought about it, this is no different to actually working. I try and schedule time every day to dedicate time to looking for and applying, so I'm treating it like a part-time job. Reporting in at the job centre, is just like having a meeting with my manager to look at my progress and see what I can do to improve. Well, that's how I'm handling it. Their job is to get me back into work, I'll accept all the help I can! 

So today, I'm dedicating some time to sort the untidy desk out, just like I would do if I was at work. Hopefully when I have my next 'performance review' I'll have all the paperwork to hand.

I'm aiming for three applications today, with fully bespoke CV's and covering letters. May not seem like a lot, but if you're going to get it right first time, it takes time to perfect.

And you've got to have targets, this is my new part-time job after all

Slimming World Friendly Sweet Sticky Onion Relish

This is sooo good, it doesn't last long in my house because I keep eating it! Easier than you think and should keep for three or four days in the fridge, plus its Syn free on Slimming World

500g of thinly sliced red onions
100ml balsamic vinegar
150ml apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of sweetner
2 cloves of crushed garlic
2 tablespoons of chopped thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients into a large, heavy bottomed pan. Bring it up to the boil and then simmer, covered for an hour. Give it an occasional stir to make sure it doesn't burn. Remove the lid for the last 10 minutes or so, to thicken up the lovely sticky sweet syrup. Once cooled, season to taste.

I've had this with burgers, lovely and tangy in a salad, goes well with chicken and beef on the side of your plate, or stirred through plain rice or couscous to liven it up.

Go on give it a go! 

Slow Cooker Beef Tomato and Red Pepper Casserole

This is a delicious, melt in the mouth and incredibly easy to make recipe to boot. Was inspired by the Coleman's Slow Cooker sachet, but objected to the Syns. So created my own version.

You literally chuck all the ingredients into the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or low for eight hours. Creates its own sauce or gravy from the juices, serves 4 and is Syn free on extra easy

400g of casserole beef with all visible fat removed and cut into cubes
2 large red onions, cut into wedges
3 red peppers, cut into slices
Tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
2 cloves of garlic
2 beef Oxo cubes (or equivalent)
2 tablespoons of mixed herbs
Salt and pepper to season

As I said, chuck it all in, stir and leave for as long as you. I had this with steamed greens and new potatoes, but it's very versatile. Try it with spicy couscous. Or baked or mashed potato with plenty of superfree veggies. 

A Letter From Heaven

Hello Ann

I found this while tidying up last week, a photocopy of a poem written by a man called Fred Nolan for his family for when he died. I can't remember how I came across it originally, but thought immediately of you.

To my dearest family
Some things I'd like to say
But first of all to let you know that I arrived okay
I'm writing this from heaven: Here I dwell with God above
Here there's no more tears of sadness; here is just eternal love
Please don't be unhappy just because I'm out of sight
Remember that I am with your every morning, noon and night.
That day when I had to leave you: when my life on earth was through
God picked me up and hugged me and He said: 'I welcome you
It's good to have you back again. You were missed while you were gone
As for your dearest family, they'll be here later on' 
God gave me a list of things that He wished for me to do
And foremost on that list was to watch and care for you
And when you lie in bed at night the day's chores put to flight
God and I are closest to you in the middle of the night
When you think of my life on earth and those loving years
Because you are only human they are bound to bring your tears
But do not be afraid to cry. It does relieve the pain
Remember: there would be no flowers unless there was some rain
I with that I could tell you all that God has planned
But if I were to tell you, you wouldn't understand
But one thing is for certain though my life on earth is o'er
I'm closer to you now than I ever was before
There are many rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb
But together we can do it by taking one day at a time.
It was always my philosophy and I'd like for you to do to:
That as you give unto the world, the world will give to you
If you can help somebody who is in sorrow and pain
Then you can say to God at night: 'my day was not in vain'.
And now I am contended that my life was worthwhile
And as I passed along the way, I made somebody smile
So if you meet somebody who is sad and feeling low
Just lend a hand and pick them up as on your way you go.

When you're walking down the street and you've got me on your mind
I'm walking in your footsteps only half a step behind
And when it's time for you to go; from that body to be free
Remember you're not going; you're coming home to me

The Owl of Inspiration ...... help wanted

I need some help readers to fill this with inspiration, love and determination.

It's an Owl card holder, which sits over my little sister's mantlepiece. She's got one card in it at the moment. It reads

'New Beginnings Are Often Disguised As Painful Endings'

All through my cancer journey, my inspiration has always been my sister, Joy. She was just 19 years old when first diagnosed with cervical cancer. It took nearly ten long years of trying this treatment and then something else and so on, before the cancer was finally eradicated with two cycles of chemo. Traditional laser treatments didn't work. But she did beat it.

And through it all, she was a rock. She had poise, purpose and a wicked sense of humour. She was rarely downbeat, even through the throwing up and baldiness and just got on with things. I wanted to be like her, my little sister who had the strength to get through it and win. And win she did. She was clear for over ten years, where she carried on living life and having two beautiful children.

But now it's back, and in my eyes, not playing fair. She has already had a five week course of radiotherapy, however it's gotten worse, and is now stage 3b. Sounds so innocent doesn't it. For many of us stage 3b won't mean very much. But for Joy it's an intensive and gruelling treatment regime of chemo every two weeks and radiotherapy three times a week for at least four months. And then see what happens.

And this is where you guys come in. I know Joy gets a lots of pleasure and inner strength from quotes like the one already sitting in her owl. I'm on the look out for more. Whenever I pass a card or nicknack shop, I'm in there, having a rummage. But you can help.

Have you got a picture which inspires and takes you to a calm place? A postcard with a quote which resonates and gets you through a difficult time? Or an ironic comic strip to make you laugh? If you have and can part with it, please help me give it a new home and fill Joy's

Wasn't sure how to do this, and I don't want to give her lots to do, but thought if you contacted me, I can give you my postal address and I will get them sent on to her. I've put some contact details below. And please feel free to pass this on to others. The more the merrier! 

She's a strong and independent woman, who will get through this, and an owl full of inspiration, an instant visual reminder has gotta help.......

Contact Details
Twitter: @FayC
Facebook: Fay