I’m ‘Of a certain age!’ Is it me…..or is it hot in here ? (Photo without make up! Just me…! )

Let’s talk about the M word – Menopause, Tropical moments, Hot flushes (hot flashes in the US!), the Change – whatever you call it !

I’m talking about women in their late 40’s to 60’s – my story! (I do know that it can happen earlier than the above age range).

I can’t actually say when it all started for me. All I can say is that everyone will be different.

I first started experiencing many of the symptoms when I was in my early 50’s – which I think was quite late really.

My symptoms were:-

Hot flushes

Night sweats

Unable to sleep

Joint pains

Cotton wool brain

Moody

Shall I go on……….

The worst part was having to work through all this (which I know we all have to do !).

Sitting in a centrally heated office, where other people kept whacking up the thermostat to 25 !!! I sat at my desk with an electric fan both on my desk and one under the desk (to keep my feet cool as I also suffer with the problem of Primary Lymphodeama – that’s another story !).

Then there were the comments !!!!! From the men coming in to the office…..yes honestly !!!!

Ohhh are we having a hot flush love ! Arrrghhh- which of course just made it worse !!!!!!

Ok……well it happens to all women. Though having said that in Japan very few women suffer the same as women in the West. This is due to a diet high in Phytoestrogens and a plant based diet.

Any way……..here we go!

Trip to see the GP

HRT here we come.

As I said above, I can’t honestly say when it all really started, though it was back in 2010 when I decided to pay my GP a visit.

I could not stand it any longer ! I was unable to function both mentally and physically. I explained all this to my GP and after reading lots of info, weighing up the ‘pro’s and ‘con’s ‘ decided to go ahead and give HRT a try !

Now I do realise it isn’t suitable for everyone. For me however it was FANTASTIC !!!! I felt human again, my hubs was happy too because I was happy. I was even sleeping too…..oh happy day !!!!!! There was also the added bonus of it helping fight off Osteoporosis (a worry I had, due to menstruation ceasing in my early 20’s through weight loss – that’s for another day!).

Everything was just so much better, my skin, hair, no aching joints, memory fine……..life was great !

I did however have to have regular check ups. Every three months when my next prescription was due. The usual things BP/ weight.

However after being on the tablets for 4 years I had to come off. This was due to the fact that it’s the recommended time period for taking HRT.

But……also I had a mammogram scare……which I must admit really did scare me. So thought the time was right to come off.

After about a week off the tablets I thought……hey ! I’m ok, I’ve come through……but boy how wrong was I !!!!! Everything returned with a vengeance!

I could have cried……well to be honest I did.

So I just lived with it…..and it did get a little better. However recently it has started to get worse…….talk about a rollercoaster ride ! So the other week visited my GP – was sent for a few blood tests and she suggested maybe I go down the herbal route. Black Cohosh and Sage were two of the herbs suggested. I need to do some research I think into this. (If anyone has tried these please let me know!)

Well…….as you can see from the above I suppose I’ve been one of the unlucky ones. I have friends who have just sailed through it. I have also read that it is possible – if your mother suffered with symptoms you are at a great risk of suffering too (which my mother did. Luck of the draw…..or rather bad luck !).

What I would say to anyone suffering or just wanting to know more about the subject is, read up and visit your GP ! Don’t suffer in silence.

As some of you know I have started eating a plant based diet and I’m going to give meditation a try too. Will let you know how I get on !

Finally!

Say no to being invisible !

At this time of life many women feel invisible. But this does not need to be the case.

Even though I struggle with my weight I do still try to be stylish (Ok ! I may not always pull it off…but I try! ).

I looked at a photo of my mother on her wedding day once and thought how old she looked even at 36 ! Even my hubs commented !

I think it’s such a shame these days when women in their 50’s and 60’s dress like their mothers! All sensible…….don’t do it ! Have fun, experiment !

We only need to look at Helen Mirren and Lulu to see that age shouldn’t be a barrier.

I think what I’m trying to say is being in your late 50’s 60’s and beyond doesn’t mean you have to hide in the shadows. Get that lippy on and hold your head up high ! Post a photo on Instagram if you want to!

I follow quite a few sassy, stylish woman of a certain age (real women) and I just get so much inspiration from them……and you can too.

A few style ideas I came to in my 50’s !

Converse All Stars !!! Love them.

Cropped trousers with ballet flats.

Statement earrings.

Red lippy.

Layering.

Always carry some shades!

Baggy lived in jumper.

Accessories always lift a look.

A spritz of perfume!

A few things to keep in your bag!

A mini fan (a must ).

Evian mist spray ( or which ever brand you prefer).

Bottle of chilled water.

A hair clip – if you have long hair.

Face/make up blotters (when things get a bit shiny).

In the hight of summer…….a lovely straw hat (on your head not in your bag! ).

That’s it !

Hope this post hasn’t been too long. Really hope it helps. Any questions please get in touch.

Thank you for popping along and having a read !

Bye !

Annie xx

(Just to say…….this is just my story. If you are having any problems with the Menopause etc see your General Practitioner. Any brands mentioned I buy. Nothing has been an ad or promotion !)

Quick simple food from my little kitchen (Part 2 – Simple Lunches)

Sometines my lunch is a quick affair, a fridge forage of sorts. When I just want sustenance but at the same time something tasty and hopefully healthy (though sometimes I’m afraid it isn’t – I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination!). So to follow are just a few ideas.

Really hope you try them and no doubt adapt them to your taste. Enjoy !

Lunch Ideas

Butter bean houmous

Ok, I know…..this is ridiculously easy and not really a recipe, rather a mixing together of ingredients, but none the less delicious. Also, more a store cupboard lunch rather than a fridge forage. Though if you have a dish of butter beans left over which I often do, then perfect !

Ingredients required :

Serves 1

200g can Butter beans

1/2 tsp Minced garlic

2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

1-2 tsp Tahini paste

1/2 lemon

Salt and pepper to season

Just basically drain the can of beans and add to a bowl. Mash with a fork, this will take a few minutes, then add the garlic, tahini, olive oil, a good squeeze of lemon juice, pinch of sea salt and good grind of black pepper, along with a pinch of cumin.

Give everything a good mix and then have a taste……if you need to add more of anything you will know by tasting !

That’s it !

I love this on toasted sourdough with a sprinkle of Dukkha (a spicy seed mix that you can buy ready mixed or you can make yourself. Afraid I buy ! Like I say……I’m not perfect!).

Egg free noodles with walnut coriander pesto and broccoli

This is a lovely lunch to use leftover veggies. Here I use broccoli but sugar snap peas, or a few strands of courgette fried with oil and a squeeze of lemon would work too.

Ingredients required :-

Serves 1

Egg free noodles or pasta (bucatini would work well)

Leftover green veggies (whatever you wish)

Handful of pine nuts

Handful of walnuts

1 Lemon

Large bunch of coriander

Extra Virgin olive oil

Clove of minced garlic

Salt and pepper to season

Cook the noodles or pasta as instructed on the packet.

While they are cooking, place the pine nuts, walnuts, coriander, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and seasoning in a blender. Give it a good whizz and don’t forget to taste half way through for seasoning purposes! Once you have blended it to the consistency you prefer (I like mine a little course), then check how your noodles are.

In a bowl place your veggies of choice, add however much of the pesto you wish, give a very light mix with a spoon to coat the veggies. Then add the cooked drained noodles/pasta to the veggie mixture.

I always love to give another light squeeze of lemon plus a tiny drizzle of oil…..but that is up to you !

If you wish a few shards of Parmesan would be lovely, or not if like me you are eating plant based. However I have recently started using nutritional yeast which is really good! (It has a cheesy/Marmite flavour…..I love Marmite!)

Lunch is served….enjoy!

Marinated smoked tofu on sourdough

Must admit this is quick (as in cooking time), but it needs preparing ahead due to the fact the flavours need to soak into the tofu.

It’s a favourite of ours and always serve it with salad and dressing, either on the toast or as a side.

Ingredients required:-

Serves 2

Block of smoked Tofu

(I use and love ‘The Tofoo Co’ – not an advert ! I just love it !)

Ground nut oil

1 clove of minced garlic

Thumb size piece of minced ginger

A good pinch of dried chill flakes

A couple of good dashes of Rice wine vinegar

Three good shakes of Soy sauce

2 Tsp of sesame seeds

Couple of drops of Sesame oil

(Just a bit of advice – when you remove the tofu from its pack you will find that it is similar to feta cheese in that it is stored in some water – so drain the water, remove the tofu and place in a bowl that has a few layers of kitchen towel on the bottom. Then with a couple more pieces of towel placed on top of the tofu gently press down. You will be amazed at how much water drains away. You will need to refresh the kitchen towel a couple of times till the tofu is dry. The reason I go through this process is that it helps the tofu crisp up when under the gril.)

Ok now we are ready !

Place in a wide flat dish enough oil to cover the bottom (about 4cm of oil in depth).

Add to this all the above ingredients except the tofu.

Give the ingredients a mix to combine together.

Then slice the tofu thinly (I usually get approx 12-14 slices from 1 block). Gently put all the slices in the dish making sure that all the tofu gets coated. Cover the dish with foil and leave to marinate for as long as possible. This is why I always prep ahead of cooking this. If possible (not always I know !) I try and prep it the night before.

Once the tofu has been marinated transfer the slices to a sheet of foil or baking sheet and pop into the high heat grill. Keep your eyes on it as it will soon cook and crisp up (Just how we like it !)

I usually turn the slices over to crisp them on both sides…..it’s up to you!

When ready……serve on toasted Sourdough or bun of your choice, along with any salad ingredients you wish.

Sometimes if I have a large Portobello mushroom I slice it and add to the marinade and pop in the grill with the tofu too – very yum !

That’s it !

Enjoy

Well……hope you find the above lunch ideas a bit of help and inspiration. If you have any questions you was to ask me……please drop be a line.

Happy cooking……

Will pop by here again soon!

Annie xx

I’m hungry !

Quick simple food from my little kitchen (Part 1 – Breakfasts)

First, I think a little background information is required before I get down to the ‘Nitty Gritty’ of the food I love to eat.

It all started back in October 2015 when I went along to a book signing in Manchester for Nigella Lawsons new book at the time ‘Simply Nigella’ – I waited, along with probably a hundred or more fans, with her book held tightly in my hands, feeling just a little nervous at the prospect of meeting one of my food writing idols. Though I really shouldn’t have been nervous as she was just so friendly and I felt that she was the kind of person you could pass a few hours with over coffee chatting about food and cooking. Though I know this will never happen.

So why mention this?

Well it’s due to going along to Nigella’s book signing that led me to starting on Instagram. She was the first person I followed. My very first post was Avocado on toast for which Nigella liked and commented on…….so that was it the seed had been planted – I was hooked!

Now, three years down the line and still enjoying the community of Instagram I’ve progressed to this blog.

Over the past few years on Instagram quite a few of my followers have asked me for the details (they aren’t really recipes as such !) of a number of the dishes and snacks I post.

So I thought it was about time I sorted a blog post out for them. Just a few favourites that I use on a regular basis.

I think I also need to say that since April 2018 I have been eating plant based or Vegan whichever term you prefer. So the recipes I’m posting are therefore plant based, though to be honest I had been eating a few of them long before I decided to go down the vegan route. (Please don’t judge! Plant based eaters seem to be the but of jokes at the monent !)I am not a Clean Eater…..hate that term.) This was due to the fact that my husband was already a vegetarian so I already used lots of veggies in my meals. Plus I wanted to feel more energised.

My husband is not vegan as he loves cheese and eggs too much !

Hope you find the following ideas helpful. I am just someone who loves to cook in my little kitchen and who loves food far too much !

The following ideas are breakfasts (though…..can be eaten anytime you wish !)

Breakfast ideas

Must admit my favourite meal of the day is breakfast. Which is really quite amusing, as when young it took me all the energy to eat a bowl of Weetabix before heading off to school.

Nowadays I’m woken by my stomach rumbling !

So here are just a few ideas. Some I enjoy during the week, while others are lazy weekend breakfast with hubs !

Berry/Raw Cacao porridge

This is basically porridge made from rolled oats and Oat milk (my go to alternative dairy of choice – but if you use dairy no probs at all) then during cooking I add a handful of berries. In fact anything you love – when in season I use fresh berries. However out of season (I’m not a food snob)….frozen berries are more than acceptable! To be quite honest I prefer them, as when defrosted they are lovely and soft and soon mix into the porridge ! As a result of adding the berries during cooking the porridge takes on a lovely pinky hew (never a bad thing!).

If you don’t want a pinky hew to your porridge and would rather have a chocolatey flavour, I sometimes add half a tablespoon of raw Cocao (can be brought on line !) while cooking. However you will need to add just a hint of sweetness as it has a very bitter dark chocolate taste. I therefore usually add just a little Maple syrup (and really only a trickle as I don’t have a very sweet tooth). Also because I’m trying to cut down on the amount of sugar in our diet.

So once the porridge (be it berry or Cacao) is cooked to the consistency your prefer, then comes the best bit….Toppings !

You can choose whatever you wish.

Some of my favourites are :-

  • Coconut yogurt and a handful of nuts.
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon and chopped apple
  • A dollop of all fruit jam(low or no sugar)
  • Coconut yogurt and peanut butter (or any nut butter of your choice)
  • Chopped banana and handful of seeds

Basically the list is endles.

Enjoy !!!

Acai Bowl

Acai bowls are just so delicious and healthy.

I had never heard of them till I saw them appear on Instagram !

I tell you they are like eating ice cream for breakfast which is no bad thing.

Acai bowls are made up of basically three ingredients (really simple !)

Mine are (Serves 2) : –

  • 3 Frozen bananas
  • 3 Tbsp Coconut yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp Acai powder

Put the ingredients in a blender and give it a good old blitz till lovely and smooth. I then like to add a squeeze of lime and a good dollop approx 1 Tbsp of nut butter if your choice, blitz again……that’s it !

Done!

Place in your favourite bowl and top with whatever takes your fancy.

Some of my favourite toppings include (when in season), fresh strawberries, a few mint leaves and dessicated coconut.

Chopped nuts and banana.

Scoop of passion fruit and kiwi for a Tropical kick ! The combinations are endless.

Enjoy !

Buckwheat/ Spelt pancakes

Who doesn’t love pancakes ?

We usually enjoy these on Saturday mornings accompanied with the weekend papers and copious amounts of coffee !

(Serves 2 greedy people)

1 cup of Spelt or Buckwheat flour

1 cup of oat milk (or any other milk you wish)

2tbsp Rapeseed oil

2 small mashed bananas

1 heaped Tbsp nut butter

1 tsp cinnamon

Put all ingredients into a blender and blitz or as I do just into a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon (A bit of an early morning work out !)

Once it’s all well mixed (depending on how you prefer your batter to be – if you prefer working with a loose batter add a little more milk, if like me I prefer a thicker batter the mix will be fine). Heat up your frying pan adding a little rapeseed oil (I then wipe most of the oil off the base of tge non stick pan once heated !) – then with a spoon add small quantities to the pan. We like thickish pancakes, so once little pin holes appear in the cooking cakes they are then ready to flip over and leave till fully cooked on the flipped side- this takes just a few minutes. After each cake is cooked I transfer to a plate with a piece of kitchen towel on to just soak up any oil that may be on the cakes. Once all your cakes are cooked……… they are ready to serve ! We usually have them with coconut yogurt and a home made berry compote. To make the compote just heat in a pan some frozen berries (or fresh when in season), a splash of orange juice, squeeze of lemon and cook till the berries and orange juice have reduced down a little. Can be served hot with the pancakes – or made ahead and served cold. Enjoy !

Well…….hope you enjoy these really simple breakfast ideas!

My next blog post will be light lunches !

Grab a coffee or cuppa and have a read!

Take care

Annie xx

New Year !

First of all……Happy New Year for 2019!

Well here it is again – January

Don’t know about you but –

I cannot tell a lie – January and I don’t usually ‘get on’ with each other.

The glow, excitement and anticipation of Christmas has well and truly passed and all that is left is a cold, grey, damp January. Not good!

But this year……Ohhh no !!!!

It’s positive vibes only !!!!

I’ve decided to see it as a time for planning. In the form of a –

‘To do’ List.

I mean…..something to look forward too is always a good thing……right !?

Now it’s not going to be a wonderful Tropical holiday (how I wish it was…….though always open to offers !)but it may be in the form of a long weekend away or even just a day out somewhere different. It could even be a little treat to yourself in the form of a pamper day. Or if time is restrictive a massage or pedicure I find works wonders for feeling tip top!

It does not have to be an all singing, all dancing weekend away at Soho House (we’ve all seen the gorgeous posts on Instagram and Website of the Soho Farmhouse haven’t we !? – all very swoon worthy ! Again…..open to offers !) but if you don’t live in that gorgeous part of the country something a little closer to home is just as good.

So that is definitely on my January ‘To do list’

Also next on the list is

Instagram……..to continue gaining more confidence on Social media.

My love of Instagram just grows and grows and I’m truly in awe of the amazing people that I get to chat with on a daily basis. Hopefully may even get chance to meet even more of them this year !

Plant based food-

Some of you may or may not know…… that, last year from about late April I decided to try Plant based eating. This wasn’t because of any ethical reasons (though recently it has been highlighted as being so much better for our planet !) but was to hopefully help me feel more energised in myself.

Well…..I’m still eating plant based….yes there were a few early “wobbly moments” but you just get back on !

I’m actually finding it so inspiring looking at alternative eating and my favourite ‘go to’ books being the Deliciously Ella collection.

So…..definitely will be trying more recipes this year. Also my husband eats Vegetarian so this really does help make it a lot easier!

Well……thats just a few thoughts that have been added to my list!

If you can think of any other ideas to help us get through January…..please drop a line! All help gratefully received.

Right……time for a cuppa I think !

In fact my ‘go to’ cuppa at the moment is a Hot chocolate made with Oat Milk, raw cacao, cinnamon and maple syrup……very yum indeed and the oat milk makes it super frothy too !

Take care…….

Will catch up with you again very soon !

Annie xx

Ideas for a more natural, mindful Christmas

Boris inspecting the tree {we have two kitties called Boris and Bella !}

Keeping it simple and understated

You know how it is, the 1st day of December and it’s time to start sorting Christmas out. It’s a mixure of stress and anticipation. Afraid I’m still a big kid at heart and love the anticipation and preparation stage of the season.

Over the years I dread to think how much has been spent, not only on gifts and food but decorations too. It is difficult not to be drawn in by the gorgeous catalogues that land on the doormat…..I mean, you know the kind!? Beautiful faux wreaths with white bows, ‘Winter’ scented candles, cashmere throws (who wouldn’t want to create a gorgeous Snowy Mountain retreat kind of cosiness), the list is endless for these beautiful catalogues.

So we have decided to just Stop ! Think ! What do we want from Christmas this year. So a more calm, thoughtful time is what we are aiming for. It’s bad enough that January is long, dark, cold and dreary but to be faced with large bills that then drop on the door mat isn’t great either. {Ohhh !!! Meant to say…..if anyone needs a house sitter on a tropical island during January, I’m free !}

Therefore, just thought I’d sort out a post with some natural, inexpensive ways for decorating the home.

The best bit…..the tree !

Ohhh who doesn’t love choosing the tree!? No help needed with choosing a tree !

But just wanted to tell you this. We have three trees and before you start thinking ohhhh that’s extravagant….stop ! It isn’t. Our trees are teeny tiny trees. Basically it’s because when I was a child I always wanted a real tree – but it was the 60’s and 70’s so it was Tinsel trees and nothing else. Who doesn’t remember listening to Wizzard singing “I wish it could be Christmas everyday” dressed in flared jeans, multi coloured tank top and Jackie Annual in hand, while gazing at a tinsel tree ! So teeny tiny trees it is.

Around the House

Just a few simple ideas !

Fresh foliage /candles/fruit

Eucalyptus, holly, twigs, apples, pomegranates, tangerines and bowls of nuts are all great as seasonal decorations.

Foliage along with pomegranates, nuts and twinkly lights placed on a windowsill or mantelpiece is just a quick and easy way of introducing natural decorations to your home. As well as the odd heirloom decoration from happy Christmases past ! It is after all the season of traditions.

Popcorn and Cranberry garlands.

Just simply thread popcorn and cranberries onto thread. These look so pretty hung on the tree (The garlands should last around seven days !). It does take a while to do but (coffee or hot chocolate and some Christmas music will definitely help you along!) very satisfying when completed. These are just perfect for use outside too, though I would use cranberries and chunks of apple- rather than popcorn – perfect Christmas treat for our feathered friends !

Home made paper chains.

For a bit of a retro feel why not go for paper chains. Very cheap and easy. Maybe just use plain white paper and decorate the paper piece how you wish. Kids will just love helping with this.

Simple table decorations

Fruit with tea lights in them.

Just cut out a hole in the top of an apple, large enough to insert a tea light in……that’s it very simple!

Instead of a tree !

Why not just fill a low sided basket with mixed foliage, berries, twigs, fruit, nuts, a few glass baubles – placed on a table makes a perfect Christmas display.

The good thing about using fresh decorations is that they can either be recycled, used for compost or in the case of fruits and nuts eaten (never a bad thing !). This all means that at the end of Christmas there aren’t too many decorations to take down. I don’t know about any of you out there, but I hate taking the decorations down ! So we have started taking them down during the day on New Years eve – just so that in the evening everywhere is clean and tidy with just some candles and a few bowls of flowering Hyacinths. Then on New Years Eve we can settle down in the knowledge that if we feel a little headache on New Years day…..we can relax and have a sofa and films day ! I know some people leave the decorations till Twelfth Night and that is fine too. Each to their own ! You do what you want to do….simple !

Whatever you decide to do at Christmas

Just remember though that without wanting to sound too much of a cliché, at this time of year it’s the company of loved ones that is important. Be it a cosy day like ours with my hubs and our two kitties, a huge gathering of the clan, or a hotch potch of friends. However during this season there can be mixed emotions and sadness for loved ones no longer here – So be mindful that it isn’t always ‘the most wonderful time of the year.’

People can feel very lonely and isolated at this time of year. So be kind, be happy and be mindful.

Best wishes……

Annie xxx

Hello from Annie !

Hi !

Welcone to ‘Tulips & Treacle’

If you don’t know me already I’m Annie, a Northern lass (but without the northern accent !) – so welcome to my Blog ! Hope you have a cup of something warm(it’s chilly in the UK at the moment!) and are curled up all comfy and cosy!

Going to let you into a secret….I never imagined for a nanosecond that I would start writing a blog. In fact up to a few years back I didn’t even know what a blog was !

It was only when the addiction to Instagram started approximately three years a go that I came across such amazing people and their blogs.

Now I’m not a ‘writer’ but I do love putting pen to paper (afraid I’m addicted to lovely stationery- will talk about that another day !) and jotting down thoughts while out and about. So I thought why not ! Have a go Annie, you know you want to…….so after a couple of years of just thinking and dreaming- here I am !

What’s it going to be about ?

I’m ‘of a certain age’ BUT I love to have fun, enjoy life, food, style, both in the home and fashion. Just because a person reaches a certain “number” in their life doesn’t mean style goes out of the window and sensible shoes and nylon shoppers come in through the front door! No way…..though if it’s snowing then snow style is allowed….in the form of Hunters and duvet coats !!!

Now, I can’t promise that I won’t talk about “that topic” – you know the one!? It’s freezing but you are glowing! Those “tropical moments”, “flashes”, “flushes”, whatever you wish to call them. It happens to all women.

The Menopause!

There,I’ve said it!

Tulips & Treacle?

If you are still reading…….a big THANK YOU !

Why the name ?

Tulips

Easy……I just love Tulips! Though to be honest all flowers are gratefully received ! (Just in case hubs happens to sees this !)

They just herald the coming of Spring. As for their colour – this year I loved Pink, next year it may be a rainbow of colours.

I mean…..who doesn’t love a vase full of droopy tulips !?

Now for Treacle !

Treacle just takes me back to my childhood. Especially at this time of year. Baking sticky ginger cake and Parkin with my granny (what do you mean you’ve never tried it !?). Plus treacle toffee and fudge for Bonfire night (No wonder I was always visiting the dentist as a child).

Well……that’s it for my very first blog post.

Hope you enjoyed your cuppa while reading this !?

I can tell you my finger hovered over the ‘Publish’ key for quite a few seconds ! Should I shouldn’t I !?

Will be back soon……so please pop along again!

Oh !!! Just in case you don’t know, my Instagram accounts are :-

@annierudsky (my main account)

@annieslittleartroom (my card designs and art work account)

Bye !!!

Annie