Footsie update

Had my appointment yesterday as a whole two weeks had flown by since I was taken off the trial drug for a while (see here for the post) Anyone would think we've had Christmas or something since then.

Well the good news is, the head honcho of the trial and my oncology consultant, doesn't believe the trial is the problem. If it was, I would also be suffering with similar symptoms in my hands. I'm pleased to say I'm not, I think I would find that quite distressing. I can ignore toes, but fingers? Nah, I don't think so.

So, what is it?

Well, regular twitter and Facebook friends and readers of the blog, do you remember the saga of #BrokenBum? You know, the one I whinged about for months to anyone who would listen (and plenty who didn't!) The one I visited my GP about several times and would told it would just get better? Well, it did actually get better, after 15 months, so they were right on that score (although it pains me to say it) However, it might also be the cause of the numbness. As it healed, resulting scar tissue may be pressing on nerves which run through the coccyx, making the tootsies feel like pin wielding fairies having a field day.

Simples! And I may not have been a hypochondriac after all! 

And even better, he's prepared to investigate why, so I'm now waiting for an MRI scan. When asked if I had any metal anywhere I replied with "no, and no homemade prison tattoos either". He laughed, so must be a House fan. Either that or he was just being polite........

Either way, I'm to start back on the drug next week, so happy days. Now all I've got to do it find a way to keep the fairies at bay........

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

Well, the time has finally come and today is my last working day for Virgin Media. It's been a roller coaster 16 years, with a few lows but lots and lots of highs, whizzy and stomach churning bits, frights, laughs and tears.

I've enjoyed every little bit, learnt a lot about myself and other people (maybe too much about some, you know who you are......!) 

In all that time I've
  • Had just 7 managers, which I think is a record (so few!)
  • Two office location moves (Exeter and Plymouth)
  • 15 desk moves (yes I counted them!)
  • 11 episodes of sick leave
  • Became an MBTi Practioner
  • And a first aider! 
  • Have three different site passes
  • Took my CTP
  • Learnt to use Excel and now love a fabulous spreadsheet
  • Made hundreds of friends (maybe one or two enemies but we'll brush over that one......)
  • Worked in four different divisions
  • Carried out too many induction courses to remember
  • Managed two teams
  • Grown into a better person
  • Had the honour of being a Divisional Voice Representative
  • Loved Tap
  • Hated Oracle
  • Have 736 saved contacts in Outlook
  • Had perms, long hairstyles, short hairstyles and lost it altogether (but its growing back now)
  • Visited 21 different sites
  • Am in heaven writing a process

So its on to pastures new and to find a new roller coaster ride. Job hunting will start in earnest in February (keep your eyes open for the LinkedIn requests!) Am taking some time out to just get plain bored before then.

I would love for you to leave me a comment below, something I can remember you by, to look back on and match up with the memories.

And on that note, I'm leaving you with a process, one I live by, which is why I've been here for as long as I have.

Desk Clearing Dilemna's

Today is all about decisions.
The type of decisions which are up there with which house or car to buy or where to go for your honeymoon.
Today I'm clearing my desk after 16 odd years and deciding what comes home with me. It's hard
It's a given Red, the Chief Values Officer comes home, but does the stuffed Fish! From Throw Your Fish make the journey?
The lovely mouse from Kim in the office makes the cut and so does lego Harrison Ford, but how about the random lego which I play with on conference calls?
Am sure a few post it notes will sneak in, the same with the cellotape, but what about the Project 2000 Bible and chillie plant I've been nurturing since February?

Anyone remember the Business Dreams initiative? Should I take this memento with me or leave it for later generations to admire and wonder?
Mind you, I've found 3 pairs of shoes, two handbags and from memory, a very expensive red leather 'executive' laptop case I bought one year from my bonus, lurking under the desk, long forgotten.
Also long forgotten was the two tins of beans, one of soup, green tea and box of Ready Brek, well past use by dates and there for emergencies. Think they'll find their way into the bin.
But it is hard, there's so many memories built up in what should be inanimate objects.
So if you were clearing out your desk, what objects would you keep, and why?

All Clear With Pin Wielding Fairies......

18 Month All Clear

Fabulous words to hear at my appointment today! Great news, I'm very happy. It even helped when I went to Slimming World weigh in and I'd put on five pounds. Just didn't care, didn't give a flying f*ck. The good news today was, I've had the all clear. Again.

It's not without some reservations.

I'm part of the Sorce Drug Trial (click link for details. In my eyes it's a wonder drug!) which means I get regular check ups and looked after really, really well. I've actually been told to stop taking the drug for a couple of weeks, due to concerns with magnesium and potassium levels (aren't they the two elements which in Chemistry lessons we'd set fire to with glee and bright flames??? No idea what they're needed for in the human body, hope I won't be going up in flames anytime soon....)

But also because of damage in my feet. My toes and balls of my feet are numb, they don't feel like they belong to me. And you'd think being numb, you'd feel no pain and be able to wear those killer heels with no problems. Wrong! Heels are killers, but not in a good way.

And although numb, they hurt as well. It's hard to explain, but imagine the start of pins and needles, combined with frozen toes. And remember how it felt to come inside from throwing snow balls and your hands start to thaw out? They smart a bit as they warm through. It's that. But add onto that  breathe taking cramps. You know the ones, which make you sound like a plumber giving you a quote "Shffffff, that's going to cost you ....'  All of that on bits of your body which don't feel like they belong to you when touched to actually check they aren't on fire, frozen in ice and/or with tiny fairies sticking pins in them.

Did I mention a 'favourite' time for this is 4 in the morning? You getting the picture?

Well, that's my tootsies. Most of the time.

Regularly I walk out of my shoes without realising it. Not so bad in the middle of the hallway. Not recommended in the middle of the High Street.  And it's very annoying climbing into the shower still wearing the socks I couldn't feel! Not a great look

Also had to explain to my Danish Doctor what ' No shit Sherlock' meant when he said I may have some damage, which caused a few giggles. 

Back in two weeks, more blood tests and decisions as to wether the damage is permanent or not and if I can carry on with the drug.

However, that's ok. I got the all clear and that's what matters.

Adieu, adios, so long, even toodle-oo

People take on goodbye's, differently

It's not just the words though

Some don't know what to say or do, prefer to delay or sidestep the encounter altogether.

Others it's all about avoiding direct eye contact, a quick wave maybe, an embarrassed 'see you and good luck', not knowing what to say, eyes downcast and dark.

The next person it's a jaunty slap on the back, 'keep in touch', all smiles and show followed by a quick turn and moving onto the next conversation, brushing off the encounter.

Or the heartfelt, tender touch on the arm or back of the hand, warmth in the eyes, concerned words full of 'Are you ok's', 'We'll miss you'

And then there's the huge hug, full of meaning, arms enveloped around each other, holding, saying it all. The depth of emotion felt, experiences, soft murmurings in your ear, whispered advice, we'll always have this connection, memories, shared experiences.

People do goodbyes differently, they mean different things to different people, but whichever way they're done, they're needed. They offer closure, a small ceremony to acknowledge what has taken place, an ending to enable the move onwards.

I've had lot of goodbyes over the last week and they've all hurt in their own way but I'm ready to move on.

Thank you to everyone who allowed me the privilege of saying goodbye, no matter how it was done.

Meal Planning Monday - trying to empathise with my sister

I know, I've not been blogging much, or meal planning for that matter, but I can assure you I've got a good reason. I'll save that for another post though.

Been inspired to post this week in support of my sister. She's been advised, to help with her cancer treatment, to cut out, wheat, dairy and sugar. I know! What on earth is she eating?!? (Today it seems to be a lot of tomatoes!) 

But on a serious note, it's hoped by not feeding the cancer, it'll slow the growth down. 

She's doing really well, and I was surprised when we started to think about it, how much you could actually have. Admittedly it's all got to be cooked from scratch, and for someone who doesn't cook, she must be daunted by it.

And then I thought, it wouldn't hurt to give it a go myself. Here's this week all Slimming World friendly, planned out

Risotto, scallops and mixed vegetables
Chicken, new potato and vegetables
Baked potato and mixed bean chilli 
Moroccan rice and chickpeas
Sausage casserole with vegetable rice
Wedges and bean chilli
Grilled chicken, mushrooms and tomato

Breakfast will be porridge, made with water (which I weirdly enjoy) with blueberries and lunch is slimming world super speed vegetable soup. Apples and bananas for snacks, herbal tea and water to drink. Sorted!

Now all I need to do is not to crack and give in, it's only a week......

For more meal planning inspiration (which I'm sure will include, wheat, dairy and sugar) check out Mrs M's Meal Planning Monday (

Meal Planning Monday w/c 19th August - fridge leftovers

Meal Planning Monday
Back to Slimming World weigh in today and was pleasantly surprised with just 3lb increase. Considering I haven't managed to make it to class for four weeks, that wasn't bad at all! 

This week's menu, and linking up with Mrs M's Meal Planning Monday, was driven very much by 'what've I not used up in the fridge?'

Chickpea rice and vegetables (Syn Free)
Bolognaise sauce with pasta (Syn Free)
Egg Salad (Syn Free)
Gnocchi & spicy sauce (1.5 syns for the gnocchi)
Potato curry and rice (Syn Free)
Grilled chicken with mushroom and tomatoes (Syn Free)
Homemade burger, slimming world chips and mango salsa (6 syns for the wholemeal roll)

Had loads of potatoes, tomatoes and peppers nearly on the turn, so they helped with the curry and the bolognaise.

Wish me luck with weigh in next week and if you've any low syn goodies I can enjoy to keep me on the straight and narrow, please let me know! 

For other meal plans, click the meal planning image at the top of the post

Meal Planning Monday w/c 12th August Simple and Tasty

Meal Planning Monday

My meal plans have been written down, but not posted recently as I've been all over the shop, at sixes and seven's, and just not gotten around to publishing.

Here is this week's

Tomato burgers & vegetable rice

Cauliflower and broccoli cheesy bake

Burger and sweet potato wedges

Chickpea rice & veg

Potato salad, chicken & salad


Egg salad

All syn free, which is a good job, the weight is still creeping up. Feet are swollen too, seeing my GP next week so will see if this is usual and try not to worry until then.

In the meantime for more meal plans, take a look at At Home With Mrs M


Reasons to be Cheerful - Enjoy the Good Times #R2BC

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

It's been far to long since I last linked up with Michelle from Mummy From The Heart and her wonderfully inspiring Reasons to be Cheerful. I couldn't have gotten through the last couple of years without a positive outlook and silver lining thinking. Reflecting on the past week is a great exercise in keeping sunny and powerful.

I haven't stopped keeping topped up with positivity, just the recording of it. For some reason I felt compelled this week, and I usually go with my gut ( keep the comments about the size to yourself, those of you at the back!)

The weather has lifted everyone's mood I think. My internal temperature control is way off at the moment (its the drugs is my usual lament) Normally I'd be a sweaty Betty (not pretty) but as I'm usually cold, the heatwave is making me just right. I still can't go out in it, still too high risk for skin cancer from the drugs, however it makes me want to start walking again.

Had a fabulous couple of weeks at work, a simply brilliant work conference which has inspired and lifted me. I'm full of ideas to implement and make some changes. It's wonderful to spend time with like minded people and make connections.

I've been told I know everyone, it's not true by the way, however I was surprised by how many familiar faces were there. Plus plenty of new friends to make. All helped by the fact it was held at Alton Towers!

I indulged in my love of exciting rides with wild abandon, forgetting the fact I'm a middle aged woman, getting over cancer! There's life in the old dog yet.

I was also proud of myself on Monday, when it became evident I'd made a big mistake a work. The old me, would have beaten myself up, made myself feel terrible for the rest of the day. However, I sucked it up, and gave myself a talking to. I literally said, forget about it and move on, don't let it ruin anything else. And went on to have a productive, fruitful day and was happy and chipper once home (which certainly pleased MrC who does get the brunt in bad days. But then I think that's in the job description, you're there for your partner no matter what)

And the real reason, the heart of the cheerfullness? It's plainly obvious I'm on the placebo. My drugs trial was designed with three groups, group one which are on the placebo for three years, group two on the drug for three years and group three on the drug for a year and placebo for two.

I'm guessing I'm group three ( I won't know for definite for eight years when the study concludes, but to me it's obvious)

My hair is growing back, my feet are less sore and the feeling of fatigue is lessening. It all means I feel better. There's a part of me, a little bit sat in the corner worried that I won't have the same cover of the cancer coming back now I'm not taking it. But. And it's a big but. I CAN'T CHANGE THAT. So I can't let that dominate.

What will be, will be and the meantime enjoy the good times.

#MealPlanningMonday - w/c 15th July 'From The Freezer'

Meal Planning Monday

I'm so very late with this post and linking up with At Home With Mrs M (click the badge to see other meal plans) and was feeling guilty. Until I spotted Mrs M herself had only just posted. Guilt melted away and I was determined to get this written.

I was very Virgo last weekend and sorted through the freezer to figure out exactly what was in there. It's full, but of what? No idea. I created a old fashioned paper list a couple of months ago, thinking I'd add and cross stuff out as I used and restocked. Never happened, I lost the list.

So this time, it's saved to notes on my phone. Now if I can just work out how to sync it to my iPad and I'll be sorted!

It's a fairly long list, we're not going to starve so this week's menu is planned around the freezer contents

  • Stuffed baked potato with homemade coleslaw and salad
  • Pasta with sauce ( sauce is really just the soup below )
  • Homemade butternut squash soup and bread rolls
  • Sausage meatballs, vegetable rice with tomato sauce
  • Cauliflower and broccoli cheesy bake with salad
  • Homemade burgers with potato wedges
  • Bacon stuffed pitta

All low in syns, mostly from the freezer, which has meant my food bill was just £38. I say food bill. Had to make it upto the minimum for free delivery, so there was a lot of cleaning products, fish stocks,three types of soy sauce and a pair of tweezers (chemo is wearing off so I've eyebrows again!)

Over to you, what's on your menu this week?


Again and Again and Again Films

I posted this on Twitter earlier

" There are a lot of films I can watch more than once. Thor isn't one of them "

Some people agreed, although it was suggested 'I could mute it and watch the pretty man' ( thanks @Jooleroo :) )

I love watching films, I love TV. I love watching my favourites again and again. But there are just some things which don't really warrant a second showing. Although they were great the first time round, some are just downright disappointing.

A favourite is comforting, you know what you're going to get; excellent acting may inspire, make you chuckle, or just an enjoyable way to spend a couple of pleasant hours relaxing. And a great film just gets better the more it's watched. From anticipation of the killer one liner to quirky characterisation, spectacular scenery or just being downright entertaining, here are a list of my 'can be seen more than once' films

  • The Matrix, one and two (but not three)
  • Dirty Dancing!
  • Grease
  • 300
  • Time Traveller's Wife
  • Casino Royale and Skyfall ( not so much Quantum of Solace)
  • The Piano
  • Schindlers List
  • Inception
  • Kramer Versus Kramer
  • Any of the Transformers films
  • Any Star Trek film
  • Wizard of Oz
  • All of the Indianna Jones films
  • Forest Gump
  • War Horse
  • It's A Wonderful Life
  • Any of the X-Men series
  • The Postman

It's not a complete list, but it's a start.

So what makes a film 'a one to watch again' and what'd be on your list? Post a comment and let me know!


#MealPlanning Monday 1st of July 2013 (Carnage/Weight Loss/Gain/Get Some Control Edition)

Meal Planning Monday

Nearly forgot to join in today, first day back at work and all that! Maybe though its a subliminally thing, as I know I usually post my weight loss/gain on this weekly linky with At Home With Mrs M and I know this week is going to be dreadful. However, in my defence I've been on holiday. Ate mindfully some days, others less so (but who am I kidding, its going to be carnage at weigh in, but at least I know why)

It'd have been a shame to not post this week as I really made an effort with the old recipe books. Had a good look through and chose some old favourites, things which would be easy to cook, plus the picture looked amazing (very much plan with my eyes)

This week's planner looks like this

One tray pork & vegetables
Cheesy broccoli
Chili con carne and rice
Beef stew
Homemade burger and chips
Spicy tomato soup
Moroccan Rice and chickpeas

They are all syn free, maybe that'll help with the little big extras I seem to NEED all the time. I'm such an emotional eater (eat when I'm sad, eat when I'm angry, eat when I'm happy) but am going to keep plugging away at it.

I've planned 7 meals, however I'm away for two nights with work, which I'd forgotten when I wrote the list and subsequent shop. Not a problem though, I'll be ahead of myself next week and I rarely actually cook all that I plan. Something'll happen, I won't feel like it, so I'll adapt and change.

Now I've written it down, maybe that's my problem. What do you think? I need all the help I can get.

Meal Planning Monday 24th June

Meal Planning Monday

Meal Planning this week was delayed until I went to weigh in. Was touch and go whether I stayed in group or not, I've just not been feeling it. Got a few things on my plate at the moment and a terrible comforting eating habit which I can't see improving. However once I'd got over the bad news (a massive 5.5lbs on!! A record even for me) staying to group gave me lots of inspiration for my menu. Thank you everyone for all the ideas

Mushy pea curry with rice (syn free)
Bachelor rice quiche chips (syn free)
Vegetable stew(syn free)
Vegetable stew & cobblers (8 syns)
Baked potato beans, cheese triangles (syn free)
Smash Pizza (syn free)

Mushy pea curry and Smash pizza are new recipes for me so wish me luck!

I'm going for a roast at my parents this week, so will take my own roast potatoes and will just have to be careful out for lunch at Wagamama's. Will need plenty of willpower and no dramas this week but will give it my best shot.

There's very little chocolate in the house, plenty of yogurt fruit and sugar free jelly so fingers crossed it'll be a better week

I'm linking with Mrs M, so check out the other menus on the links.

Sorce Trial - reverse placebo effect

Been on the Sorce Trial for a year and I could now be swapped onto the placebo. Not sure how I feel about that.

The trial is a double blind study, so the hospital team don't know either until end of the three years or if I get cancer again. If I should become ill my status is checked & I'm offered the drug if I was in the placebo group.

There are three groups, placebo for three years, drug for three years or drug for one year placebo for two. I'm trying to work out my scenario.

Think it's safe to say I'm not taking sugar tablets.

The human mind is an amazing thing and can manifest itself in numerous aches & pains. I know I've developed dreadful headaches & sicknesses when I've had exams for example. I remember feeling poorly before having the contraceptive cap fitted. The thought of lots of internal exams freaked me out. I felt I was coming down with the flu, aches, pain, headace, hot and cold, shivering, but forced myself to go and dragged my aching body to the appointment. Miraculous recovery when the appointment was over and it wasn't as bad as I thought. I practically skipped out of the room. Think that was the first time I realised I was making myself ill.

I'm not sure though my body is clever enough to cause widespread hair-loss on the body with dramatic thinning, bald spots & colour change on my head!

Been bald since September and I'm rather used to rocking a scarf, plastering on the eye make-up, walking with attitude and meeting eye contact with a 'pretend' confident smile. But I've mixed feelings about changing onto the placebo. I'll know pretty soon if I am. Hair will grow back and I'm obsessively checking.

On the one hand I'll feel so much better when I've got my energy back, feet hurt less, I can find out if the nerve damage in my toes is permanent or not, no more grumbly tummies and rushes to the toilet. I can be more me without the crushing fatigue & low spots.

But can't help feeling the lifeline of Sorenfib could be being pulled away, knowing the drug helps lessen the reoccurrence rate.

Suppose though, I can't change the outcome. I'm either on it for another two years or I'm not.

But wonder if I've got the balls to have a purple skinhead if it does start to grow.

Not the time for platitudes and sugar coating

At work earlier in the week I was asked to join a couple of colleagues in a meeting room as they needed my help.

Intrigued, I walked in, we sat down and the woman opposite explained she'd been diagnosed the day before with breast cancer. She was articulate, beautiful and vunerable. My heart went out to her, it took me back to the place I'd been nearly 18 months before. I wanted to show her I cared. Wanted to let her know I knew what she was going through and only too well. I wanted to cry with her, try and share the pain and anguish.

However I knew that wasn't going to really help, she didn't need a relative stranger to cry with her or even for her. She has friends, family, loved ones to do that with. So I sucked up my emotions and listened.

And then I had a choice. I hope I made the right one.

I said what she was going through was shit, total shit. It wasn't going to get any easier for a while and it wasn't fair. She'd experience pain, physically and emotionally. She'd do a lot of crying, a lot of why me's, a lot of appointments, tests, procedures, needles, lots of needles and even more waiting. Waiting in waiting rooms, hospital rooms, her living room. It's totally and utterly shit.


She'd also get to meet new people, special people. People who'll treat her, people who'll amaze and inspire her. She'll strengthen existing relationships, make lasting and binding new ones. Learn what a truly amazing thing the human body is. That although it goes wrong, it also has a resilience and it can cope with so much. That she'll cope, with lots more than she ever thought possible. She'll learn new things, new skills, see life differently.

It's shit, it's difficult but she was strong.

Of course, I wasn't that articulate, there were lots of face crunching as I tried to describe things interspersed with 'umms' and stilted sentences as I attempted to paint a picture and describe how I felt. But you get the picture.

I don't think I was asked into that room for sugar coating and platitudes but for honesty.

I hope i made the right choice, that I made a difference and helped in a small way.

But what do you think? What would you say? What advice have you for my new friend.

One word which means a lot

I was due to get my one year all clear last week (notice the positive language there?) but the conversation didn't go as planned.

I get checked every three months because I'm on a drugs trial called Sorce, and the doctor usually says, 'scans have gone to be checked, but looked OK to me.' This time I got just a 'they've gone to be checked'. I asked questions as she had viewed them, but the same answer and nothing else forthcoming. Add to that I've low phosphorous levels, which need rechecking and alarm bells were ringing in my head.

The plan's for me to take supplements, then another blood test, to rule out (or confirm) the problem lay with my diet. Now, I may not be one of the slimmest of specimens, and eat more chocolate than I should (it is a bean, so one of my five a day surely?) but I do have a varied and mainly healthy diet, thanks to Slimming World. I don't feel my diet is lacking in any nutrients (it's found in chicken AND bacon for goodness sake!) so I suspect something a little harder to fix.

Plus a little bit of googling later, my suspicions are confirmed. I'm not alcoholic (last drink was probably Christmas) and my seemingly life long membership to Slimming World was testament to not being anorexic (although MrC did say I could be a not very good at it anorexic. That was his attempt at humour, because let's face it, we both had something more serious in mind)

So no scan results + suspect blood results = worried me and MrC

And that feeling drags you down. You can't do anything about it but wait and see, be positive, think on the bright side and all the other cliches. For me each day was me trying to be Piglet when inside I was Eeyore.

You hope for the best, but are really planning for the worse. Would it be more surgery, recuperation, time off work, stress, financial constraints, you name it, it ran through my head. And there was nothing I could do other than take the supplements and carry on.

However, a week later than planned, I've gotten the call I wanted. The all clear. Didn't hear much else of the conversation. The low phosphorous is still an issue, one to be resolved, but taking the scan out of the equation, means its a nothing, a blip, something I can deal with.

I'm all clear and have been now for a year. That's the important bit, the rest is inconsequential and will be dealt with as and when.

I'm all clear



A brilliant word, one to cherish, savour and enjoy.


And to celebrate I'm republishing my celebratory picture from last year, my happy picture.




I'm linking up with Michelle at Mummy from the Heart, check out other Reasons to be Cheerful


Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart



(Verb) the feeling of trepidation or anxiety preceding either attending a scan appointment and/or follow up result consultation

Sometimes it's also accompanied by 'a feeling of vagueness', 'mind wandering' into 'what if's and maybe's', 'sweaty palms' , 'sleeplessness' and 'jelly belly visiting toilet multiple times itus'

Sound familiar? I've got it, well and truly.

If you've ever had to go for tests and then waited for the results, you'll know exactly what what I'm talking about. And if you've battled cancer, it's all too familiar. Every consultation, every blood test, every x-ray or scan, you're hoping for the best news, but secretly preparing for bad.

I get my results on Wednesday, one year down on the drug trial, (2 more to go) one year all clear, I'm sure (I hope)

But until then, if you should see me walking briskly in the direction of the lavatory, please excuse my rudeness.......and get out of the way!

Meal Planning Monday 10th June

Meal planning today and linking up with At Home with Mrs M. I've loved drawing up my plan this week, tried to think of the yummiest food, something to tempt me, but would still be simple to cook

Chicken breast, bacon, broccoli and barbecue sauce (2 syns)
Jamie Oliver pasta (2 syns)
Chickpea rice and chicken (syn free)
Wedges, quorn sausages, beans (syn free)
Slow cooked beef, roast potato and vegetables (syn free)
Something quick and easy, maybe a fridge frittata

I've become a bit obsessed with using dried beans, but they go with nearly everything! I've discovered so far, if you'd use minced beef, you can substitute a mix of beans and it still tastes fab! It means I'm eating less red meat, less fat and increasing my fibre. The only thing it doesn't work with is a homemade beef burger, but then the clue is in the name.

I've felt reasonable well this week, plus I made sure to have yogurt after my main meal, which seemed to stop sugar cravings in the evenings, which will have helped with a 4lb loss.

Cue .........** little happy dance **

I'd like to say, long may it continue, however if it doesn't, can you guys remind me to not beat myself up? It's more important to be happy and eat well most of the time, than unhappy and upset with myself when I don't.
Don't forget, I'd still like to know what you've been getting upto, and have planned.

Happy eating!

(Check out the other plans over at Mrs M's!!)

Meal Planning Monday - another week, the same meals

It's Meal Planning Monday with At Home with Mrs M, and it comes around so fast! I've really not put too much thought into this weeks meal plan, I've been a bit lazy to be honest and fallen back onto firm favourites and things I've got already prepared in the freezer.

I've also been to Slimming World weigh in, but asked not to be told the damage! Not sure why I've done that, I know I've put on because I haven't been following the plan, but eaten what I fancied, full fat stuff and all. But I'm not quite prepared mentally to accept the numbers. I'm going to think on this and maybe write about it later.

Onto the menu for this week

Pork chop, veg and turnip mash
Mixed bean chilli and rice
Soup and bread (think its butternut squash from the freezer)
Minced beef hash ( made it last week and froze it )
Cottage pie ( again made last week and frozen )
Slimming world chips and egg

I've only planned 6 days, ran out of inspiration, but my freezer is packed, so I won't starve!

Talking of the freezer, I must get better at labelling when I batch cook. It can sometimes be a bit of a lucky dip when I go investigating. Not a bad thing, but would make life easier when I send other people in to get stuff for me!

And before I forget, thank you to everyone in group who witnessed my mini meltdown last week. I'm fine, better than I was, but still wobbly. But like I read somewhere, wobbly can be a fun place to be too, it changes your perspective, literally and figuratively.

What've you got planned this week? Something I can pinch???Do tell!

Meal Planning Monday w/c 27th May

Meal Planning Monday

Bit late writing and linking up with Mrs M, but was having a bit of a melt down today following weigh-in. After a guilt free Chinese taking away, I'm back up and running and ready to go.

This weeks menu

Slimming world beef hash

Baked potato beans and cheese

Cottage pie

Mixed bean casserole

Mushroom risotto

Roast chicken and the trimmings

So lets see if I can reverse the trend and post a loss next week!


'If you want to see a rainbow, you have to learn to feel the rain' Paulo Coelho

Today I weighed in and cried in group (sorry everyone who witnessed my mini meltdown) I don't know what came over me, I can normally see the brighter side of life, the bigger picture and all those other cliches. But I was tipped over putting on 1.5 pounds.

But I wasn't really upset about that. It wasn't a shock, I've been teetering on the edge for a while now. I'd weighed myself when I got up, so knew it wasn't going to be pretty. Plus the carton of magnum ice cream I'd eaten Friday night, or the jam sandwiches I craved and then caved into on Saturday ( you getting the picture?) won't have helped.  

The simple fact is, I comfort eat. When things go wrong, when I want to cheer myself up, when I want to give myself a little food cuddle, chocolate (or cakes or biscuits) are always there as a pick me up. But I'm also usually disciplined enough to plan these little treats. The yumminess as the chocolate melts in my mouth and covers my tongue in velvety sweetness. The comforting repetitive action (always a whole packet!) of dunking biscuits into a piping hot cup of tea, which never fails to take me back to visits with my Nan who owned a bottomless biscuit barrel 

But at the moment my grasp on that discipline is slipping. 

I can cope with the sore feet, the crushing fatigue. I ignore the hair loss, (I understand from my daughter people pay a lot of money at beauty salons waxing to lose hair there, which i get for free!) I push to the back of mind that cancer might come back and remind myself I'm on the drug trial to give myself the best chance of that, and help others in the future at the same time. It's hard, but I put on the scarf, plaster on the eye make-up and walk with a positive attitude every morning.

Sometimes though its not enough.

And something breaks

This week it was my resolve. My self discipline. And my positivity. 

However in group today, they made me see that all of it, is ok. So what if I want a cake, everyone feels like that sometimes. So what if I've put on this week, I still weighed-in. So what? It's no big deal in the grand scheme of things. I'm still here, not just in group, planning my meals, going to work, doing things.

I'm here, full stop.

The title of this post was on Tracey's t-shirt today. It's so true. Sometimes even rain can look beautiful.

Ps. I've just ordered takeaway!

#MealPlanningMonday - w/c 20th May

Meal Planning Monday

Fingers crossed with this weeks weigh-in. I've been ok....ish. I was tempted with jam butties late at night (In my defense I had them without butter!) and could have decided to carry on with the naughty eating, but stopped with just that. Phew. 

Did a shop at Lidl this week and then Tesco for the stuff I couldn't get there. Was hoping it'd work out cheaper, wasn't the case this time. However will persevere. Budget shopping I think is something I need to practice!

Onto this week's menu

Roasted chicken thighs with butter bean and tomato and garlic roasted potato (Syn Free)
Slow cooker gammon, potato wedges and salad (Syn Free)
Stuffed red peppers with beans, rice and sweetcorn (Syn Free)
Mustard glazed sausages with carrot and swede mash (2 Syns a quorn sausage)
Salmon with lemon cousous and salad (Syn Free)
Butternut squash soup with potato skins (Syn Free) 
Baked potato, cauliflower cheese and beans (Syn Free)

Loving having beans or spaghetti on toast for breakfast, keeps me going! Lunches are leftovers and plenty of fruit for snacks. Fallen back in love sugar free jelly which I've been making up with fat free yogurt for a blancmange. Picked up a huge carton of fat free greek yogurt at Lidl for £1.58 so think that will be accompanying this week's jelly!

So, what do you think? A good Extra Easy Slimming World menu plan? What's caught your eye? What are you having? Do share

Email From My Brother - Doldrums, Spring, Autumn and Girl Guides

(First sent to me back in the beginning of April)

Hi Fay,

How's it going? So you are in the doldrums. It's probably a little bit weather related what with the UK appearing to still be in winter and all. You'll be hankering for some nice Spring weather with lighter evenings and warmer days. I reckon that might buck you up a bit, a least in part. Have you tried staring into 100 watt light bulb while humming the theme tune to Happy Days? No? Then I am all out of ideas. No wait, here's another one. Have you tried going to your nearest play ground,selecting a suitable swing and having a go? Just one swing for the swing averse adult creates nausea but if you stick with it at the very least when you put your feet down to stop swinging you can pretend you are Superman coming in for landing. Sam forces me to go on the swings all the time and I often make excuses like I'm an adult or I'm five times his weight and I'll break it but eventually or there's half a pint of dew on the equipment but I always wipe it clean and have a go and enjoy it. Once the nausea has stopped. Do it! Do it and blog about it! "My time on a swing" I double dare you.

Strangely enough I'm kind of wanting Autumn to get started properly here. After waiting for ages for last winter to finish (when we had no hot water for six weeks too) we had a glorious Summer of dust sucking drought but it's got to the point where it's time to move on. Maybe that's human nature. I've got the wood pile finished, I've got the blankets all stacked away for the beds. I'm prepared to be stripped to the waist shoveling wood into the fire like a stoker on the Titanic, sweating bullets, as it steams it's way to it's own inevitable watery grave. So I'm a little bit looking forward to roaring winter fires and hearing the rain lashing on the windows again. Six months time I'll be all like "Where's Spring?" but right now, I'll take a bit of cold weather.

This week I handed over all the money we made from selling Girl Guide biscuits. As Eva is in the Pippins we're now required to help raise funds via the annual Girl Guide biscuit selling business. You're allowed to choose how many boxes you want to sell (they're stacked up in Guide Hall like the warehouse scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, I am amazed the forklift trucks fitted through the door) and luckily I plumped for just about the right amount to make it look liked we'd made an effort but not so much that we thought we wanted to found a biscuit empire to rival McVities. We had one box of chocolate biscuits, one box of mini-chocolate biscuits and one box of plain biscuits to sell. That may not sound much but there's anything from about fourteen to eighteen packs per box and the total cost to buy all of them was a hundred and seventy two dollars and fifty cents. That's a lot of money and just a bit too much for us to just purchase all of them in one go and do zero work (which was obviously the first choice because who wants to sell biscuits to strangers). In the end we sold most of them to Juliette's family and only had to buy about half our stock ourselves. I need to convince who ever runs this funding run that they need to change stock to perhaps selling stuff that people need and not just think as a luxury item. MIlk perhaps. Everyone buys milk. I'd buy Girl Guide milk if it meant raising some cash. Or beer. Can you imagine that. Yes, I bought seventeen Girl Guide crates of beers. It's for a good cause and party on! I don't know if the Pippins give badges for number of biscuits sold but I reckon I should get one for packets of biscuits eaten. I should be biscuit arkala or something with the number of Guide Biscuits I've put away this last month. I bought some petrol last week and a mum and her girl had set up stall next to the pay in desk. They were like "Would you like to buy some Girl Guide biscuits?" and I was like laughing in their faces like Arkle the Racehorse.

This week an e-mail has come in to the SCA asking if we'd like to take part in an opening ceremony type thing for a National Archery Competition. Apparently they have Kyoto archery and Mongolian Horse Archery booked so if we stumped up to do a show we'd have to up our game by oooooh, about a thousand percent. Last public show I did was in 2008 under the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest. It was a Robin Hood themed show because apparently that goes down best with the tourists in the area for some puzzling reason. There was one bit where the bloke playing Robin Hood dropped the chest full of "tax money" and it fell open to reveal all the coins rattling around in there were modern 1p and 2p pieces. As they'd spilled our Robin ad libed and grabbed two handful of coins and threw them into the crowd while shouting "Here's some money poor people!". I wouldn't see that many Japanese people clutching their heads again until the earthquake/tsunami of 2011.

So, waiting for the cold weather I'm basically living the tag line of Game of Thrones. Brilliant.

Take care,
Love Mark xxx

Meal Planning Monday - lots of the same #MealPlanningMonday

Meal Planning Monday

This week I'm sticking with what I know, lots of my favourite meals. I'm still cooking for winter though, as I'm so cold, ALL THE TIME. The only time I seem to heat up is after a hot bath or a filling meal! Not that I'm complaining, I love a good casserole. The menu this week, looks like this:-

Spanish chicken with rice - Syn free
Bolognaise and pasta from the freezer and Syn free
Cottage pie from the freezer with lots of vegetables and Syn free
Beef stew and dumplings - six syns for the dumpling
Butternut squash soup - Syn free
Fridge frittata with all the leftover veg in the fridge! 

It's all quick and easy to cook (even MrC can do a beef stew) which will help me in the evenings, as I'm suffering a fair bit with fatigue at the moment.

I've posted the spicy bean stew recipe, this week, I'll spice it up with chili flakes. Am sure the beans and spice will help with the weight loss.

Spaghetti or beans on toast is setting me up for the day brilliantly, so I'll continue with that for breakfasts. Lunch will be leftovers from the night before, maybe with a salad. I keep a bowl of apples and satsuma's on my desk for snacks and I've stocked up on Muller light yogurt for puddings.

I also need to keep well hydrated (having only the one kidney now its important to keep it working) so a pot of my favourite herbal tea gets at least 1.5 litres down my neck by lunch time (just have to make sure I time my frequent loo breaks in between conference calls!) I've also found a cup of fruity tea helps me curb my sweet stuff craving. Generally after a cup, I'm back in control and don't 'need' that chocolate bar!

Oh and I lost 1.5lbs this week, which I'm very pleased with. I'm still in the zone! 

What have you got planned?

Slimming World Friendly Bean Stew

I've been reading A Girl Called Jack blog, which is primarily about eating on a (strict) budget and have been inspired to give dried beans a go. I've always been a bit scared before and used tinned, it's the thought of maybe poisoning myself which has put me off in the past. But they are easier than you think, cheap and flavoursome  You just need to be a bit organised, as most need soaking for 8-12 hours, then cooking from 1 to 2 hours, but its worth it!

This started as a Barbecue style bean stew, using diet coke, but didn't work out for me; ended up as a tasty bean stew instead! Sorry if you don't do 'a bit of this' or a 'handful of that' type of cooking, but I didn't weigh of measure anything.


A selection of beans, already soaked, and cooked as per the packet instructions
I used a couple of good handfuls of the following
Cannellini beans
Butter beans
Kidney beans
Pinto beans
Chick peas
Large roughly chopped onion
Couple of peppers - I had green and yellow
Stock, about 400ml or a can of diet coke
Half carton of passata
Couple cloves of chopped garlic
Balsamic vinegar - couple of good glugs
Mixed herbs
Salt and pepper


  • Gently soften the onion for a couple of minutes, using either fry light or water
  • Add the roughly chopped peppers and stir for another couple of minutes.
  • Add in all the other ingredients, stir, bring to a simmer and cook for 1-2 hours to reduce down to a thick sauce. Stir every 20 minutes or so to stop sticking
  • Check the seasoning and serve! 

I had it the first day in a big bowl with lots of black pepper. Leftovers went a bit further when I added the rest of the passata, reheated and served with brown rice (and more pepper, chemo has dampened my taste buds a fair bit!)

I think for Extra Easy the ingredients make it Syn Free. You can spice it up and make a chilli or curry and imagine it would be nice with some lemon running through it too. How about stuffing it in beef tomato's or peppers? Lovely!

Let me know if you give it a go, I'd be interested in knowing what you think.

#MealPlanningMonday w/c 6th May - Beans, beans and beans

Meal Planning Monday

Just looked at my blog and seems all I'm posting are my meal planners! Not a bad thing I'm sure, but something I need to rectify soon.

Today I made the effort to actually walk around Tesco's to get some meal time inspiration. I usually shop online for delivery and after today I've realised why; my chemo feet are killing me. However it's worth it, because I've a few more cupboard staples I wouldn't normally have bought, which'll give me a few more things to try.

And because it's a Bank Holiday and no work, I've managed to weigh-in before I wrote this post. I'm pleased to say I've lost the 2.5 lbs I put on last week. I'm a happy bunny! My aim for this week is to lose a pound, which I think is doable.

The least meal plan saw me trying and loving Jack's chilli and kidney bean, carrot and cumin burger. Great success all round although next time I'm going to play around with the burger seasonings, as it was a bit flat for my addled taste buds.

This weeks menu looks like this

Quorn Sausages with mustard glaze and carrot mash (inspired by Nigel Slater's recipe but will adapt to Slimming World) about 4 Syns
Chilli bean and rice Syn Free
Homemade burger with SW chips and salad Syn Free
BBQ Bean stew Syn Free
Cottage Pie (from freezer) Syn Free
Bolognaise (from freezer) Syn Free
Egg and SW chips Syn Free

I'm discovering the gorgeousness (and budget friendliness) of dried beans and pulses, I'm really enjoying them. They're tasty and good for you. The BBQ Bean Stew I saw on Sunday Brunch but I'm going to adapt it, taking out the treacle and sugar and using diet coke and cooking it down. A bit like Diet Coke Chicken but with beans. Will let you know how it works out! 

I've been pretty terrible with comfort eating this week though, so I've planned in some treats. I've some muller light greek style yogurt in the fridge with my name on them, which are 0.5 syns each and I'm going to make a sugar free jelly with natural yogurt too. Lunches as usual will be leftovers from the night before, but I've also planned a Slimming World Quiche, like this one but with extra vegetables to fill me up! 

Wish my luck

Don't forget to check out Mrs M for other meal planning inspirations

#MealPlanningMonday w/c 29th April

Meal Planning Monday
It's Monday again, which means not only is it Meal Planning, but it's also weigh-in. Not unexpectedly, I put on 2.5 lbs, however I had a brilliant time putting that weight on! I had a meze one night, loads of slices of takeaway pizza (someone on Twitter said the trick to having a pizza is to eat it fast, before your body realises its actually full up. Wise words!) bacon sandwiches until they were coming out of my ears and loads and loads of white bread, with lashings of butter. I also managed a cream tea and a pasty, but I was on holiday in North Cornwall, its against the law to not have one of those......isn't it??

However on Sunday, I was back on track, kept to a Syn free day with grilled bacon sandwich, brown bread (no butter) and a lovely roast chicken dinner. I'm using the leftovers for a chicken stew and a chicken and noodle soup.

And leftover's leads me onto a beautiful blog I've discovered called A Girl Called Jack. I saw Jack on BBC breakfast over the weekend, talking about the campaign to eat for a £1 a day for five days called 'Live Below The Line'. Jack's blog is all about living frugally and her recipes piqued my interest. I try to keep my food bill down, it averages about £80 a week (for everything including washing powders, toilet rolls, that sort of thing), but know I could do better. When I first married, I had 3 months of feeding my little family of three with the child benefit which was about £10, twenty years ago and although a struggle it gave me a sense of achievement. Jack however has been doing it through necessity for 2 or 3 years now and she's got it down to an art form.

So, I'm going to be trying one of her recipes each week and being more mindful of the food which gets wasted in my house.

Onto my menu planning this week.

Chicken Noodle Soup (Syn free)
Chicken Stew (Syn free, although MrC and James will have dumplings with theirs)
Cottage pie and vegetables (I made three portions a few weeks ago and froze it)
Liver and onions, mash and vegetables. (Syn free)
Carrot, Kidney Bean and Cumin burger from Jack's blog (I think about 2 Syns for the 4 burgers)
Bolognaise (Syn free, made with lots of vegetables and lentils)
Kidney Bean Chilli and rice from A Girl Called Jack (I won't use the wine or the chocolate so Syn Free)

Lunches will be leftovers from the night before with salad with plenty of fruit to keep me going throughout the day.

(The cottage pie, liver and bolognaise were all made and frozen a few weeks ago, love it when that happens!)

So I am planning for success, I will lose that 2.5 pounds very soon, I'm determined! 

What have you got planned? Let me know by leaving a comment or why not join in yourself with At Home With Mrs M who hosts this linky. Click the image at the top of the page for more meal planning inspiration.