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Recipe: Chinese chicken noodle soup

Now I'm not usually the chef in the house, Jim does the cooking of meals on the whole and I mostly whip up pretty sweet batches of brownies and cakes. Which works out really well until Jim heads off to India for work and I am left to fend for myself. Mostly when he's gone I'll eat simple things, lots of toasted items, I'm not a big fan of cooking elaborate meals for one when something simple will do. 

But recently, with my screwed up taste buds I've been craving things with more of a kick to them, but that can still be classed as good for me, and one of the meals that Jim made me before he went away was super fresh, bright and sharp chicken noodle soup packed with veggies and ginger - because there sometimes isn't much I can taste but ginger and I was really craving it whilst he was away so I had to go about recreating it myself!
And luckily for me, a few weeks ago the kind folk at Debenhams sent me a bunch of gear to help create a meal celebrate Chinese New Year. The care package sent me was pretty much the most perfect collection of implements for a none chef like me. It included a new Wok, which is something we have needed to get hold of for the longest time, and then a whole selection of OXO gear to make my kitchen creation easier. My all time favourite bit of the set is the vegetable cuber, which lets me chop loads of veg, uniform, with one thud of my hand, and there is also a little hand held mandolin which is so less terrifying than the one that Jim has - it's meant for garlic but it's perfect for ginger and doesn't look like it'll take my fingers off if I look at it wrong, which is exactly what I need!  

So, with Jim in India, a new collection of kitchen implements and my taste buds failing I set out to recreate the soup he'd made me - something that I could taste! And you know what I did it, and it was so tasty I wanted to share it with you too! 
What you'll need; 
  • Chicken Stock - I used the homemade stock that Jim had left in the fridge but you can use cubes
  • A cooked and shredded chicken breast 
  • Vermichelli fresh noodles 
  • A thumb of fresh sliced ginger - save some for serving
  • 1 clove of garlic 
  • 1/2 a red pepper - chopped 
  • 1 carrot - spiralised 
  • 1 courgette - spiralised
  • A handful of mushrooms - sliced
  • 1/2 a tin of sweetcorn
  • 1 spring onion - sliced - save some for serving
  • Chopped chilli's if that's your sort of thing 
  • Soy sauce to taste
What you'll need to do; 
  • Add the chicken stock to a saucepan and add the ginger and the garlic and bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. 
  • Add the sliced and spiralised vegetables to the stock and simmer for another 5 minutes 
  • Next add the shredded, cooked chicken to the stock along with the noodles and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  • Jim adds a few handfuls of chilli to his soup at this stage, but I don't do 'hot' so I leave those out
  • Add in some soy sauce to taste. 
  • Spoon out into your bowls and decorate with the left over ginger and spring onions.
  • Serve with your favourite beer, or in my case ginger beer!

I know this might not be the most complicated of recipes but it's so refreshing and tastes great, plus it's so simple to make, even I can do it, so I'll be whipping up another batch for the weekend! What will you be eating this Chinese new year?  

How are you feeling?

The number one thing I get asked these days is how I'm feeling. I know that people are just concerned and it's nice that they are concerned! I thought it might get annoying but it's nice to know people care! But sometimes I don't want to tell people how I'm actually doing because it's just a little intense!

Mostly, now, I just say 'fine, a little tired but fine' because there aren't many people who want to hear about my painful scalp or crazy heartburn, or the pain that means I can't straighten my arm from the drugs in my veins, or the fact that my skin hurts or that the drugs I am on mean I can't poop and I need to nap more than I ever thought possible - I am not a napper - I never have been. 

But at over half way through my chemo journey I can honestly say I'm doing better than expected, well, better than the movies would have you think you'd be doing when they show chemo patients all emaciated and in hospital beds. And this week, on a cocktail of steroids and anti sickness tablets I'm pretty much OK. I mean there are days I can take a 2 hour walk in the countryside with the dogs, and then there are days I have to sit down when I take a flight of stairs. But you know, I'm still here and I still have hair so it can't be too bad can it!

And then my mind kicks into gear and throws me a curve ball. Not to be *too* overly dramatic but there's something sobering about facing what is essentially your own mortality. I worry that this won't be the only time I have to fight this. I worry that future coughs and pains will mean it's returned, or metastasised somewhere else. 

Between these thoughts like this, the days I just want to sleep the moments of staring blankly into space in this post chemo funk, and forgetting simple words like 'Milk' and 'Door', I'm wondering what the hell I should be doing with my life. It's starting to feel like I should be doing something with meaning. Something with purpose. Something that makes me heart sing. Something I am passionate about. I'm just not sure what that is yet.

I'm a cliché I know. Girl faces cancer. Girl gets spiritual about her life. But you try it and carry on without reevaluating your life. I dare you! Go on! 

Our house plans for 2017

I feel like I've writing these house plans posts FOREVER and nothing much changes, but the plans we had for last year were de-railed when we had to pay for the whole house to be rewired - stealing our kitchen revamp funds. But this week the sale of Jim's old house (the one we used to live in before here) went through which means that we can now be go go go on some of the plans we've been putting off since we moved in! And we have some big plans of what we want to change now we can think about it. So here are some of the changes we're talking about making about the house over the next year!

  • First off, to finish up the hallway. We've been working on it in bits and pieces for the longest time and it is so close to being finished (I'll blog this soon because we've made some BIG changes) we just really need to get some flooring down. The  stair carpets are ordered and the parquet for downstairs is underway too! What I really need to do is find some beautiful light fixtures to replace the paper ones we have up at the moment. Tell me everyone resorts to those paper student ones as place holders. 
  • Next we need to get the windows sorted. We have beautiful original sash windows across half the house and they really are nice but over the years they have been painted shut and don't open anywhere but the spare bedroom, and they're super old and draughty. Also at some point the old house owner replaced the bedroom windows with some crazy metal framed monstrosity. We've had a couple of quotes so now is the time to get them sorted! Winter seems the best time to get windows replaced, right?
  • Once the windows are in we'll be looking at replacing the kitchen. This has basically been Jim's must do around the house since we moved in. The current kitchen has no cupboard space, missing cupboards after the boiler replacement, and we hardly have any counter top space and what it does have is tiled. Tiled. Who tiles their counter tops? I've handed over the control of the kitchen reno to Jim mostly, but I'm hoping I can have a little bit of an input into it. At the moment Jim's just at the point of figuring out how the kitchen should be laid out, what it should contain and whether we should move the door. 
  • There is one room in our house that is permanently locked for ours and our guests safety, and it's the shower room. When we first moved in we had the boiler replaced and it meant ripping out the shower cubicle in there as there were lead pipes involved. Then we had a bit of a leak and the roof above that room fell in a bit and made a huge mess. Ever since I keep the door locked from the outside as it's an abomination. Jim wants to wet room it - just turn it into one big shower, but I think we might need to make sure it's got other bathroom qualities to it, like a toilet and a sink! It's a discussion we've been having for, well, months! 
  • We made some big changes to the garden last year - we ripped out loads of plants, made a big change by replacing the fence, and grew some grass, but in the next few months my dad and I are going to build a raised planter for veggies, and then as soon as it gets a little bit warmer, we need to rotovate the space where the dug up plants were, and throw down some grass seeds, then it'll be a case of keeping our fingers crossed to see if it grows. That's how this gardening stuff works right? (If it doesn't we'll be buying turf I think)
  • And last on the list of things to accomplish around the house is doing something with our bedroom. The bedroom is a room we're totally living with but both hate. It's got 1970's style built in wardrobes that are actually too small to fit our bed between, and there is matching window seat and dressing table to content with too. The walls are a yellow stripe and the carpet is green. It needs ripping out and everything needs starting again. EVERYTHING. But I think it'll be the last on the list as the shower room, kitchen and windows are far more important and needed. 

So, there you have it - our list of house changes for 2017. There's not much to do, right? Are you planning any house changes this year? Got any tips for anything we're planning?


Recipe - A winter warming amaretto and apple cocktail

Happy Dryanuary suckers! Stop reading now if you're giving up the booze for the month, because this will make you want to quit that crazy idea and have a tipple!

Over new year Jim's sister, Jane, introduced me to my new all time favourite hot tipple - it's hot apple juice with Amaretto and cream. It's just the tastiest and most simple cocktail there is (and yes - i'm classing it as a cocktail because the cream is the 3rd ingredient!) but it looks awesome too.  
What you'll need;
  • 200 ml of hot apple juice
  • 150 ml amaretto
  • 200 ml of double cream, whipped
  • Cinnamon sticks and cinnamon to decorate
What you need to do;
  1. Heat the apple juice in a pan, but don't bring to the boil. 
  2. Whilst the apple juice is heating up whip up the cream (add a little dash of amaretto to the cream for an added kick!). 
  3. Once the apple juice has heated up, add the amaretto and mix them together. 
  4. Pour the hot apple and amaretto mix into a glass and top with the whipped cream. 
  5. Dust with cinnamon and a cinnamon stick before serving. 
  6. Serve hot and mix together whilst drinking. 


A Lust List for January

It might seem an odd time to pull together a lust list, right after Christmas but haven't you been spying all the beautiful things people got as a gift and posted on Instagram, and found yourself thinking, ooooh, I really need that? 
No? Just me? Maybe? But anyway, here are just a few of the things I've added to me 'if I had some spare money' list. 

  1. I love having my SLR to hand but sometimes when I'm carrying a small bag, it's a bit big to fit in it, and so I have been researching point and shoot cameras that have lots of features and control and so far the Canon G9X is winning. 
  2. Spending all this time at home at the moment I'm big into wearing my pyjamas at the mo and I just adore these sparkly bad boys from the beautiful Hush PJ's range. 
  3. I've been addicted to using my Swell bottle for the last year and a bit, but now, as I'm finding that I'm having to stay a bit more hydrated than usual I've discovered it's just a bit too big, and when full, heavy, to carry about with me every day. Then I spotted these Corkcicle canteens, which are slightly smaller, to fit with the aforementioned small bag, and I love the shape of them too! 
  4. I've got a couple of pairs of these styles of half hoop earrings and I adore them, but the pop of colour on these Turquoise half hoop earrings makes me smile. I'm hoping I can learn to make something similar on the silversmithing course I'll be doing. 
  5. I honestly can't decide if I love or hate these Nike Mid Thea - I think I like them but I'm still on the fence. I'm just not sure if they look a bit, well, odd. I'm thinking with skinny jeans and jumpers? What do you think? 
What did you spot over Christmas that's made it to your lust list these days?

A Frosty walk round Lyme Park

We've been over to Manchester quite a few times recently and it's always a discussion about how we work a long walk for the dogs into the day when we're coming home as it gets dark so early, so we've started stopping en-route and finding new places to take them for a run about and it's been a lot of fun!
We were in Manchester over the new year and on our way home we decided to stop at Lyme Park for a walk. We'd tried to go to Lyme Park previously, but we took the main route in and as it's a National Trust property is was £8 for the car, which, at 3pm in the winter, with an hrs light left seemed kind of steep for a dog walk, so we found another location near by. 

This time however we decide to park the car on a country lane and walk in from the back of the park. And it didn't disappoint.
We started with a long walk over some very frosty hills. The pups haven't quite figured out how to work styles yet so Jim and I had to carry them over fences and walls, but they loved running through the frosty grass, up the hills and through the boggy muddy areas.
We had to take a detour from the route to avoid a field of sheep (Melle would be a nightmare with sheep if we gave him the chance!) and after a walk through some wood that were unseasonable green, we stumbled across this cute little building, The Lantern.

From the lantern we walked through more woods to a windy hill top and views that blew us away. From here we could see The Cage and all the way back in to Manchester.
We headed back to the car after about an hour and a half as we figured it'd take a good half our to get back to it and after 2 hours of running the dogs HAD to be tired.
I was amazed at how even after a day of bright sunshine there was so much frost on the ground on our route back, but I'll be honest, the frost just made everything seem that little bit more magical.

I feel like I've turned into such a nerd lately as my favourite thing to do is get out into the countryside with the dogs and watch them have fun. But just look at how majestic Melle looks at the top of this hill. So proud of himself!