Figuring out what ails me…

Friends and relations (and, let’s be honest, most people who want to connect with me in any way, shape or form… which, these days, is just Linkedin) will know that I kicked Type 2 Diabetes to the kerb last year through three months on a strict clean keto diet. I had my blood test done and had normal results for everything including liver function so I didn’t need to go on any medication.

Since that time, I have got a bit slapdash with the keto – I got sick of avocados, the cold weather made me crave potatoes and bread, and I had a desperate urge to eat chocolate on certain days of the month. I have noticed an immediate trackback in my health and now I suspect I may have a thyroid problem (going to check with doc tomorrow). There is swelling to my neck, I have a weird rash on my hands and wrists, and I have intense fatigue/sadness. Uncle Google tells me this isn’t just the perimenopause and is probably a thyroid/hormonal thing. It is times like this that I wish I were a trained doctor. Google is not the place to get your health diagnosis.

I have also been made nervous by the first of my annual diabetes tests – eyes at the end of the month and assessment/blood test when I organise it. So it is back to Keto for me. Wish me luck. At least ‘dry rest-of-my-life’ is going well.

Maximalist Christmas

Well, it’s been a bit of a rotter of a year, hasn’t it? So this year I’ve decided that the only way to round off this bin-fire of a year has to be with a maximalist, super-luxe, mucho fun Christmas and New Year.

This year I am stealing my sister’s idea of a homemade hamper of goodies specially created for each household, which can be dropped off at the door. Over the years I have accumulated many, many wicker hampers. Not sure why… I guess I just have a hamper kind of face so I get sent a lot of them. So this year I am repurposing them with delights for each person.

One of my favourite brands at this time of year is Opies. I mean I am a maraschino cherry kind of girl at any time of the year, but the brand comes into its own at Christmas. From those tiny pickled onions that can be popped onto cocktail sticks with a decent cheddar to mini gherkins that can be sliced finely to enliven a Boxing Day sammich.

However, the jewel in the crown of this producer is the boozy fruits. In previous years I have enjoyed peaches in Courvoisier and this year there are apricots in Famous Grouse. There’s a hamper or two that will benefit from the inclusion of these bad boys.

In fact, the only thing I find hard to use from the range is the stem ginger since Gary is anti-ginger in all its forms. I have decided to really look after myself this year though and make things that only I will eat as if I were an honoured guest in my own home. So I got this recipe from the Opies chaps, which I will make at some point during the festive season. Gary can have a sammich that night…

Salmon, Ginger and Tarragon Parcels

serves 4

4 pieces Opies Stem Ginger in Syrup, drained and chopped
4 spring onions, finely sliced
2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
1 lemon, zest and juice
270g pack of filo pastry
50g unsalted butter, melted
4 salmon fillets, skinned
salt and pepper to season

Pre-heat oven to 180 ℃.
Mix together the Opies Stem Ginger, spring onions, tarragon and lemon in a small bowl.
Cut the filo sheets in half and divide into 4 piles. Allow 2/3 layers for each parcel.
Build each parcel individually brushing with butter between layers: place a salmon fillet in the centre of each square. Top each fillet with the ginger mixture, dividing it equally between each one. Season.
Wrap remaining pastry loosely around the salmon, brush with butter.
Place on a lined baking tray and bake for approximately 20 minutes until golden.
Serve with seasonal greens and new potatoes.

Note: I was sent a hamper of Opies products to try… I told you I have the sort of face that makes people send me hampers. It’s an affliction. It was a press sample of this year’s products so not sure what it was worth, but it’d take more than a hamper of goodies to buy my good opinion so you can rest assured that I recommend the company’s products not because I’ve been bought by a few jars of boozy fruits, but because they are truly ace. YUM.


Sleep in a time of Perimenopause

So this year has been odd. No, not that pandemic nonsense, my body deciding to kick off against me. At least that’s what the perimenopause feels like. Things that I knew to be true about myself no longer are so. For example, my incredibly good memory is shot to hell and I am now finding it hard to remember how I wanted to finish a sentence, much less what I walked into a room to get. My skin used to be so good that I barely needed to remember to moisturise, but now it is like kindling dry and needs vast amounts of cream slathered on it for daily comfort. Worst of all, I – the girl who once fell asleep on top of speakers at a nightclub – often can’t get to sleep.

Anyone who has suffered from insomnia knows how awful it is. You’re exhausted, but sleep won’t come. You don’t know whether to get up and do something to make yourself even more tired or if you should stay put and at least rest your physical body if not your racing mind. So it was with some relief that I received a sleep bundle from Health & Her. This is a company specialising in supplements and aids for women going through ‘The Change’. By the way I feel like we should bring back this old-fashioned way of referring to the menopause as it brings to mind a sort of terrifying idea of a women turning into a winged serpent, eating her mate for sustenance, and then flying up through the night sky to cackle at the moon (which is definitely on my to do list for the menopause proper).

However, I have tried sleep supplements before and didn’t hold out much hope. I felt like they were psychological placebos mostly and thought only scary pharmaceuticals worked. I find pills to sleep, wake or not feel bad, scary; not because I am anti-medicine by any means, but because I prefer prevention to cure. So I am always looking for more natural interventions on health stuff.

Anyhoo, this bundle was the bomb. (Can you tell I’m middle-aged by my use of awesome slang? Can you?) It comprises a sleep supplement in capsule form, some self-heating eye masks and a sleep balm. It’s also currently on special offer of £26.99 and even cheaper if you sign up to a monthly subscription. The best thing in the bundle was the self-heating sleep masks. You unwrap it and put it over your eyes and it releases this lovely lavender-y smell (though not heavily lavender, more gentle spa smell). It then through some sort of science/magick combo heats up and feels lovely on your eyes. It’s very relaxing, especially so for someone who strains their eyes all day long on a computer screen. I put it on, let it relax my eyes for a few minutes and then removed it for a restful sleep.

That spa scent is also there on the sleep balm, which you rub on your pressure points to get you off to sleep. I tried it on both myself and the winged serpent food aka my husband and we both nodded off almost immediately. Full disclosure, the masks and the balm worked so well that I have not yet had call to use the supplement extensively. I did once just to try it out and I slept fine, but I haven’t used it regularly enough to say whether it was the supplement or just my own body giving me a break that got me to sleep.

So, the tl;dr review is that the self-heating sleep masks are great and will get you off to sleep if you’re struggling. The balm is very pleasant too. No idea if the supplement works. Done. I’m off to practise cackling at the moon…

Note: I was sent a sleep bundle by Health & Her to review. This is valued at £31.99. I received no other payment and my review is a fair and independent opinion on the efficacy of the products.