Last year three of my favourite girls got engaged, which means that this year's focus is on their WEDDINGS! I try very hard to not enforce my wedding obsession on to this blog (I save that for Pinterest) but with all this talk of venues and dresses and hen dos, this week's Monday Joy goes right to the heart of wedding excitement. Love? No. Commitment? No. Dresses, flowers and rings? Yes yes yes! I dedicate this post to my three friends, and their wonderful boys - enjoy!
Dresses like these really steal the show, but I can't possibly pass up my one chance to blog about weddings without sharing some incredible jewellery, stationary and flowers. All in the spirit of Monday Joy!
Going to the theatre was one thing I promised myself I would do more of this year. It's not cheap and it's not that easy, but I always love going and so have developed various hints and tips that turn it into a fibro-friendly experience.
In the last few months I've seen Fiddler on the Roof, Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, The Scottsoboro Boys, Cirque du Soleil, Twleve Angry Men and Phantom of the Oprah. Almost all were wonderful, and for the one that wasn't (Phantom) I still feel pleased to have seen it - if only to be able to question what all the fuss was about.
Theatres are such stunning buildings, and I always get so excited as I approach the theatre and catch sight of the large poster advertising the play I'm about to see. I get dressed up and have a glass of wine in the bar at the beginning - it's all so civilised! One day I'm going to be rich enough for the best seats in the house; unfortunately, until then, restricted view it is.
So here are my fibro-friendly tips, just in case you don't enjoy the theatre quite as much as you could.
#1 - Wear layers. It's always cold in the theatre and the colder I get, the worse my pain gets. You can also use some of those layers to sit on and make yourself more comfortable.
#2 - Wear a scarf. A stiff neck is always painful, so I make sure I always have my scarf to keep it warm.
#3 - Wear a stick on heat pad. These aren't cheap as disposable items go but ThermaCare do some great ones that last the duration of the play and long into the evening.
#4 - Drink wine. It's all part of the experience.
#5 - If possible, avoid the Grand Circle and therefore the many flights of stairs to get to it. And if possible, book a seat near the toilets so you can be front of the cue at the interval. The seating plan is an important tool when booking tickets, so use it to your best advantage.
There aren't many shows on my waiting list, so I turn to my loyal readers to ask for your hints and tips. What should I absolutely make sure I see this year? My recommendation to you is: Quidam. The Royal Albert Hall was spectacular, the acrobatics were incredible, and I felt part of an exciting secret that no one else knew about. I realise that's not the case, but that's how I felt. I urge you to see it. What do you urge me to see?
I don't like to pick favourites for I am a lover of all foods. However, tonight's dinner wins! Totally delicious so cook it, cook it now!
Ingredients (serves two)
2 x small gherkins
2 x tsp of capers
1 x flat tsp of dijon mustard
1 x large handful of parsley
1 x clove of garlic
1 x bulb of fennel
1 x small lemon
150ml of white wine or vegetable stock
0.5 tsp x mint sauce or 0.25 x handful of mint leaves
1 x large handful of flat leaf basil
4 x medium white potatoes (depending on how greedy you are)
2-4 x fillets of seabass (depending on the size of the fillet and the greed of the chef)
a sprinkle of thyme
red wine vinegar
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (in a fan oven, 180 degrees if not). Slice the potatoes into small cubes and parboil for approx five minutes until very nearly cooked, then drain and leave to stand. Whilst the potatoes are boiling add the gherkins, capers, mustard, parsley, basil, garlic olive oil, mint sauce and red wine vinegar into a food blender and blend together to a consistency where everything appears very finely chopped. You could chop the herbs, capers, garlic and gherkins very finely by hand then add the oil and vinegar if you prefer; however, if you do this it would make sense to crush your clove of garlic rather than chop. Once you have blended together, season to taste.
NB: The salsa verde will serve approx 4 people, however making less is a bit more hassle than it's worth. The dressing will keep in the fridge and can be served alongside any meat or fish.
Next remove the end the stalks from the fennel bulb and remove the bottom of the bulb. Discard these, then chop the rest of the stalks and remaining bulb into chunks approx 0.25 of an inch in thickness. Chop the left over basil stalk and add to a roasting tray along with the fennel, the sliced lemon (with skin), a good drizzle of oil and 150ml of white wine or vegetable stock. Add a grind of salt and pepper on top then place in the preheated oven. Cook for 15 minutes.
Whilst the fennel is cooking, heat approx 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan with the large sprinkle of thyme and a little salt and pepper. Add the potatoes and sautee on a medium/high heat, turning regularly until golden brown.
When the fennel has cooked for 15 minutes, place the seabass fillets on top of the fennel mix skin side up. Cook for a further 15 minutes.
When the potatoes are brown and the fennel and seabass has reached its cooking time, serve! Trust me, this is so so good.
Tonight was another night when we needed to eat the left-overs, and it is my belief that this is when a good cook really shines. I will stare at a collection of loose food items, moan that I have nothing to eat and then order a pizza. However, that is clearly why I am not the cook in this house. Here's the tasty treat I had instead.
Ingredients (serves two)
2 x medium potatoes
4 x medium eggs
3 inches of chorizo sausages (approx)
16 green beans
16 mange tout
2 x handful of mixed salad leaves
1 tbsp of olive oil
Sprinkle of dried rosemary
NB - The amount of these ingredients can vary depending on personal preference.
Peel the potatoes and cut into bitesize chunks, boil and leave to cool.
Boil the eggs to medium/soft and leave to cool, then peel.
Chop then fry the chroizo in a little olive oil with the sprinkle of dry rosemary and a twist of black pepper.
As soon as the chorizo begins to colour, add the potatoes and toss to coat in the oil. They will go a nice orange colour from the chorizo oil. Fry until the potatoes just begin to crisp, tossing regularly, then remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Whilst the potatoes are cooking, cook your beans and mange tout in a pan of boiling water until just cooked. As soon as they are tender, remove from the heat and shock with cold water to prevent them cooking further.
Place the salad leaves in the bowl (we went for watercress, baby leaf spinach and rocket but this is entirely up to you) and add the beans and mange tout, followed by the potatoes and chorizo. Place the eggs on top and add a few shavings of parmesan cheese and voila! A super easy, super tasty, healthier than pizza, dinner.
These Monday's seem to come around far too quickly for my liking. Here's some joy to get rid of those Monday blues.
As always, all images are available via my Pinterest page with links to the original source.
Happy Monday folks; have a good week. x
One thing that I would advise all fibromyalgia sufferers to do, is to get to know your own body and your own limits. I've spent a lot of time over the last couple of years trying to work out what I can and can't do, and about a year ago I realised that on a good day I can walk for about an hour. After an hour, the dreaded limp sets in and things deteriorate quite quickly. So with that in mind, I tend to plan a 'day out' knowing I've got one good hour in me and my only challenge is then to decide what to do with it.
I woke up this morning to sunshine! Sunshine, for crying out loud! It was too good to miss, so I planned a trip to Greenwich Market for lunch and shopping. Knowing I had about an hour to work with, I got the bus then the train to the market and spent about half an hour browsing the stalls.
Shortly after the market, I headed over to the National Maritime Museum. Museums are really tough on fibro - or at least they are for me. The slow wandering around is actually harder on my body than a march down the street, so I knew I didn't have long.
After about an hour, my time had run out and the limp had set in so I found my bus stop and headed for home. I'm now on the sofa, under three blankets with a heat back on my back and legs, and I'm wondering how long it would take me to train the cats to make me a cup of tea as the kitchen seems just too far right now.
I'm a bit sad that on a beautiful day like today I couldn't spend longer out and about, but then I remind myself that there will be lots of people who won't have even made it out of bed today, so I guess I feel pretty lucky today. Oh, and to top it all off, I got to wear my new boots!
A friend recently sent me this piece of writing by someone with fibromyalgia, and I'm sure it not only rings true with me but with many other Fibro/CFS sufferers too.
As a Fibromyalgia sufferer I do not want your sympathy;
I just want you to understand who I am because I may forget.
Yesterday I may have been limping, today I may be skipping, and tomorrow I may be having a sofa day.
Yesterday I may have been on top of the world, today I may want to stay indoors; tomorrow I may not be able to get out of bed.
Although my pain is all over, yesterday my leg may have been hurting more than my arm, today it’s my head; tomorrow it may be my back.
Yesterday I was able to make a three course meal; today it’s a frozen meal, tomorrow its Jam and bread.
Yesterday I climbed a mountain, today I may manage a mile, and tomorrow I may manage a smile.
Yesterday I may have been engaging in great conversation, today I may forget my words, tomorrow I may have forgotten we spoke.
All I can say today is that I hope it is sunny where you are, and I hope that you are having a good day. x
Ingredients for fondant potatoes (serves two)
2 x medium sized white potatoes (Maris Piper or King Edward potatoes work well)
Sprig of fresh thyme
2 x cloves of garlic
4oz of butter
75ml of vegetable stock
Peel the potatoes, then slice each end to create a flat edge so they will stand upright.
Place 4oz of butter in a small pan and melt. The pan must be large enough to allow your fondant potatoes to stand upright, but the smaller the pan the better as you want your potatoes to be deep in butter. Place the pan on a medium heat; when the butter starts foaming, place the potatoes on one flat end and cook for 5 or 6 minutes until the buttered end is golden brown. Then turn over and repeat, until the other end is golden brown.
Peel the 2 cloves of garlic and crush slightly with a knife. Add the garlic to the potatoes and the sprig of thyme, then pour in approx 100ml of your vegetable or chicken stock. Warning! Be careful when adding the stock as the boiling butter may spit when the stock is added. Cover the pan and reduce the heat so the potatoes are simmering in the stock. Leave to cook for 30 - 40 minutes, boiling and steaming as the stock reduces and the potatoes are tender.
Whilst the potatoes are cooking, it's time to make the minted pea puree.
Ingredients for minted pea puree (serves two)
0.5 x small onion, or 2 x shallots
25g of butter
150g of frozen peas
3-4 fresh mint leaves
50ml of vegetable stock
Thinly slice the onion and soften for 10 minutes in 25g of butter in a pan. Once the onion has softened, add the peas to the pan along with 50ml of vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the peas are hot.
Next add the mint leaves, take the pan off the heat and blend until you reach your desired texture. Again, we have gone for relatively smooth with some texture.
Serve hot; however, the puree can be reheated and once cooled can be stored for a couple of hours in the fridge. To reheat, pour back into the pan to heat through. You may need to add a little water if it has dried out.
Next, it's time to cook the lamb steaks.
Ingredients for lamb steaks with port reduction (serves two)
4 x small lamb steaks
25ml of red wine vinegar
75ml of ruby port
sprinkle of dried thyme
glug of olive oil
Put a large frying pan on medium heat and leave it to heat up. Put the olive oil, thyme, plus salt and pepper on to the lamb steaks and rub in to ensure they are coated.
Fry the lamb steaks as required depending on thickness and preference. 4-6 minutes on each side cooked these steaks to medium. Rest the steaks whilst making the port reduction. To do this, deglaze the pan with the port and vinegar, and reduce until you have a slightly syrupy consistency. (If you drag a wooden spoon through the liquid it should leave a line for a second or two.)
Today I thought I'd give you a starter or snack to salivate over. This was truly delicious! Why not combine with one of the larger mains as the perfect valentine's day treat?!
Ingredients (serves two)
2 x smoked mackerel fillets
Juice of half a small lemon
50g of unsalted butter
0.5 teaspoon of wholegrain mustard
0.5 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
2 x sprig of dill
30ml of creme fraiche
Tear the smoked mackerel fillets into small pieces and add to a blender. Add all the other ingredients and blend until you have your preferred pate consistency. We went for a nearly-smooth consistency but with a little texture remaining. Add a twist of pepper to taste and a quick burst to mix.
Spoon the mixture into a ramekin/small glass and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
The pate can be served with anything you like! I went for sourdough bread and a small watercress salad. Yum!
It's been a while since I wrote about fibromyalgia, and I don't really have a reason for that. It's partly because I was starting to feel a bit self-indulgent, and partly because I felt I'd said all there was to say. Today though, I realised that I've been quite proactive recently and made some changes to my day-to-day life which are practically unnoticeable to the outside world but have made a huge difference to my life.
The first thing I did was cleaned out my top drawer in my desk at work. I removed all the business cards, pens, leaflets, and other work-related nonsense and created a health drawer. My health drawer contains a hot water bottle, a herbal heat pack, a body moisturiser and painkillers. I've always felt self-conscious about drawing attention to my health at work, but new job - new attitude! My heat pack rotates around my body as necessary, my hot water bottle stays on my back and I keep moisturising my skin to try and avoid the intense dryness and itching.
On top of the new health drawer, I recently invested in some arthritis gloves. They were slightly more expensive than I thought they would be, but they've made such a difference to my life. They're in my bag for use at home and at work; they're incredibly tight to increase circulation which is ideal in these cold months when my joints are sore and my hands stop working. I got these IMAK gloves, but there are plenty of others available, and I can highly recommend them. Life changing! Again, the gloves draw attention at work and I'm getting a bit sick of the numerous "it's not THAT cold!" comments but, here's another change... my response is always: the truth.
I finally gave in and bought myself a backpack! The work trips were starting to get ridiculous and I need a sensible way to carry my stuff around. One of my friends bought this ASOS bag and it's just gorgeous, so I've excitedly gone and bought myself one as well. I can't wait for it to arrive!
These are only little changes, I know, but they're making a big difference to the way I can cope with day to day life. Let me know what small changes you're making, as you're bound to be doing something I haven't even thought of!
Ugh, what a crappy Monday. This week's joy is needed alongside a glass of wine. Enjoy!
As always, all images are available via my Pinterest page with links to the original source.
This week has been a wonderful week with friends, and I'm feeling the ultimate Monday joy.