Friday Blog – Bread Recipe

Welcome to the end of another week.

It’s been an odd week here, a lot going on and I’ve been in a fair bit of pain. I’m taking today off to relax and play the new Stardew Valley update. But, as a few people wanted to know the recipe for the bread that I posted about a couple of weeks ago. I’m taking this opportunity to post the recipe and show you how our last attempt turned out.

Ingredients:

  • 500g strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 7g yeast
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 300ml warm water

Method:

  • STEP 1 Mix the strong bread flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl.
  • STEP 2 Make a well in the centre, then add 3 tbsp olive oil and 300ml warm water, and mix well. If the dough seems a little stiff, add another 1-2 tbsp water and mix well.
  • STEP 3 Tip onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for around 10 mins.
  • STEP 4 Once the dough is smooth, put it in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film, then put in the fridge to prove overnight. It should double in size. Alternatively, you can leave the dough in a warm spot for an hour and the dough should double in size, it all depends on how patient you are!
  • STEP 5 Knock back the dough (punch the air out and pull the dough in on itself) then gently mould the dough into a ball.
  • STEP 6 Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Place dough on the lined tray to prove for a further hour until doubled in size. This can be done by either placing in the aforementioned warm spot or by placing a casserole dish (or similar) full of boiling water on the bottom shelf of your oven and placing the tray with your bread dough on above it. Considering it’s been absolutely freezing here for the past couple of weeks we found that this worked far better than trying to find a warm spot in the house!
  • STEP 7 Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7.
  • STEP 8 Dust the loaf with some extra flour and cut a cross about 6cm long into the top of the loaf with a sharp knife.
  • STEP 9 Bake for 25-30 mins until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.
  • STEP 10 Once cooled, enjoy!

This method is slightly different to the one I originally tried. The previous recipe called for the dough to be proved in the bowl for hour in a warm area, but with it being winter we found the method using the fridge and it turned out even better, thank you Google! I think this will be the method that we will use going forward.

Let me know if you make bread off this recipe and how it turned out. Most of all, enjoy the bread.

Hip Update + Bonus Recipe

It’ll soon be the year anniversary of when my hip started to hurt – woo!
Sometimes I don’t feel like I’ve come very far with it. I’m on a high dose of
strong painkillers and still experience a lot of pain daily.

Having said this, I’m making progress to getting it fixed. Last year I had
my MRI to actually tell me what was wrong, physio to help me strengthen my leg
and a steroid injection into my joint to reduce pain, and now I’m waiting for
another appointment with hopes of getting surgery on it.

I’ve never had any kind of surgery, the only thing I’ve really had done on
the physical side is stitches in my head for when I cracked my head open when I
was younger…twice. I’ve never had an operation or broken a bone so even the
thought of having surgery – as much as I want it done to stop the pain – is
still something that I’m anxious about.

I’m hoping that I’m on the final run to getting it sorted, but it’s still a
tough time, and it’s all still taking its toll on my mental health. Some days
are better than others, but there are still times when I’m fed up of having to
take so many painkillers and just want to stop, regardless of the pain I’m in.

But for now, I’ll continue to plod and get through the best I can until my
next appointment, which will hopefully get on the list for surgery.

As my post with the flapjack recipe was a hit, we decided to make some
shortbread biscuits and post the recipe below:

 

Shortbread Recipe

Ingredients:

300g sugar
600g butter
900g plain flour (plus additional for rolling out mixture)
200g bar of dark chocolate

Method:

  • STEP 1 Preheat oven 180c or 160 fan.
  • STEP 2 Weigh out sugar, butter and then mix until completely combined.

  • STEP 3 Roughly chop chocolate and add to mixture.

  • STEP 4 Add flour and mix until combined. Start off with wooden spoon then when majority is mixed use hands.

  • STEP 5 Sprinkle some flour on worktop and roll the dough until it’s about 1cm thick.

  • STEP 6 Using a cookie cutter cut out the shapes you want for the biscuits (we used a glass mug)

  • STEP 7 Place the cut out biscuits on to tray lined with grease proof paper.

  • STEP 8 Put tray in oven for 30 minutes or until light brown.

  • STEP 9 Leave to cool on rack.

  • STEP 10 Enjoy!

As with the flapjack recipe, if you give them a go please let us know how they turn out.

The End of a Holiday

Last week I posted about taking a break from writing over Christmas. I was only supposed to be coming back to it tomorrow (Tuesday), but I’ve missed writing more than I ever thought I would, so I’m starting again today.

When I worked my 9-5 – even though it wasn’t really 9-5 – in IT, and had time off, I dreaded going back into the office. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy my job – in the most part – but I hated going into an office, or more recently, logging on while working from home. Now I’m writing full-time, I feel more relaxed with what I’m doing, which is doing wonders for my mental health.

Doing my own thing helps so much. Having the option of not doing anything if my brain is having an off day reduces the stress I feel on a daily basis, and I can just relax until I feel better. There was nothing worse on a day when my brain was rebelling than having to put my “happy face” on and pretend I was okay when inside I was screaming. Being able to take a break whenever I like also helps. I can have a wander, or get a drink/snack, without anyone monitoring the length of time I take away from my desk. It’s so freeing.

Anyway, today I’m back at it, and I’ll mostly be working on some blog entries for Wednesday and Friday. I’ve got a few ideas that I’ve been working on for the games blog on Wednesday, and I’ll no doubt have something to say on mental health on Friday, because, well, I still have my brain.

I’m surprised that I actually managed to stick to the no writing for the last week. I didn’t think I would make it this far, to be honest. I thought I’d be on day 2 and then get back into it. That’s not to say I didn’t want to. It was almost painful at times being away from writing, the urge to “just do a little bit” was always there (it would never be “just a bit”), but I also knew that I needed to take a break, to recharge and not get burnt out.

Having some time off from actually writing words, didn’t stop my brain from coming up with new ideas for stories or where to take my current WIPs. So now, when I come back to them, I have a stack of things that I can work on and try to fit into them.

The other thing I discovered having time off, is that not having writing to focus on allowed the pain I’m still feeling in my hip to bubble to the surface and feel worse. I’m hoping that getting back to writing will not only help my mental health but also stop me focusing on any physical pain I’m experiencing.

So…back to it.

Physical Pain and Mental Health

As I’ve said previously, I have bipolar disorder. It’s something that I’ve relatively come to terms with as something that I will have for the rest of my life. I’m, I wouldn’t say used to it, but it’s there every day, and it’s just something I live with.

When it comes to physical pain; however, I’m not as well versed in how to get through. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve done things in my life that have hurt, I’ve struggled through toothache more times than I can count, but I’ve never broken a bone, – apart from when I split my head open (twice) when I was a young child – and never really been in that much pain.

Over the past few months, however, I’ve been in increasing amounts of pain with my hip.

In May/June, I started to experience a lot of pain in my hip. After several doctors appointment and a few months of low dose painkillers, it had gotten worse, so I went to A&E. Another few months of appointments and painkillers followed before I finally managed to go for an MRI.

Waiting for results for scans or blood tests is never fun for anyone, but with my already anxious and overthinking brain, I had started to fear there was some malignancy lurking in my joint. This took its toll on my mental health, the longer I waited, the worse it got. The relief I felt at finally getting my results was unbelievable, although then I started to find other things to worry about with it.

I’ve said it before, but for those that haven’t read previous posts, the results were that I have a torn labrum. Now, I had no idea what this meant and had to look it up. But basically, the labrum is a ring of cartilage that follows the outside rim of your joint socket, this cartilage had ripped somehow, and it’s the irritation of its movement that is causing me pain.

When they told what was wrong, they asked if I wanted to have a steroid injection into the joint to reduce pain and make it easier for me to mobilise to get strength back in. Me, being the dumbass that I am, opted not to have it and stick with the physio. As you may have guessed, this was a bad idea.

Over the months since getting the diagnosis, the pain has gotten worse and worse, so now I’m on even more potent painkillers.

The whole thing, of not being able to move around as much as I like and what little I do move, having to remember to use my crutch, being unable to do things around the house, even not being to drive, along with having to take painkillers regularly, has, at times, done my tree in. I’m not an overly active person, but not even being able to get upstairs or take my pants off without assistance gets to me. I’m 35; I shouldn’t need this kind of help.

This year has been challenging anyway, but it’s been even harder with not being able to do my job anymore and being in constant, and sometimes, unbearable pain. My brain has had enough of it and wants everything to get back to normal.

I don’t know how I would have dealt with the pain, had I a “normal” brain. But throwing bipolar into the mix too is sometimes too much. Sometimes I feel like crying, A; because of the pain, and B; because my brain has been stretched to the limit and I can’t take anymore.

Anyway, I’m hoping that the pain will be coming to an end soon as I’ve got my steroid injection this afternoon. But this too has left my anxious. I overthink about what might happen, and all the things that could go wrong. Like the other week with my orthopaedic appointment, I’ll probably be fine when I get there, but the wait is God awful. I also worry about what might happen after. Will it get rid of the pain? Will it make it worse? What will happen if it does, will I need a surgical procedure? What if something goes wrong with that?

It’s a rabbit hole that I can’t help but go down because of the way my brain is wired. It’s so tiring having a brain that moves at a million times a minute at times, filled with worries about what might happen.

In a way, this blog helps. I get to throw my worries out into text form. It doesn’t get rid of them, but it does make me look at them from a different perspective and see how truly unfounded they are. Perhaps the way I do it on this blog will also mean that other people who think the same way might look at their thought process a little differently too.

That’s it for today. Hopefully, I’ll have some good news after this afternoon, and maybe I can do some more writing, which I’ve failed to do for a few days.

Have a good week!

Good News Monday

Yet another Monday hits us in the face like a brick.

I woke up feeling sick and in pain, but as the pain meds kick in and the sickness fades away, I’m left with at least some good to come out of a Monday.

The Next Stage and Creatures are now available on Google Books in 66 countries.

With this new outlet, it means that my books are now available through Amazon, Lulu, Payhip, Apple Books and Google Books. I’m hoping that these distribution channels will mean that more people will be able to read and enjoy them.

I’ll add the new Google links to the Books page of this blog with the others.

Last week I also started a giveaway with the Apple version, I’m going to extend this giveaway until Friday of this week and add in the Google version, so when you enter you can let me know which version you’d prefer to receive a code for.

In other news, I’ve several more reviews in for The Next Stage, and I’m happy to say that the full 5-star rating on Goodreads hasn’t been changed. Everyone seems to really enjoy this book and every time I receive a new review – and it’s another 5 – it makes all the work I put into the book worthwhile and spurs me on to want to get it out to as many people as I can.

As far as the writing goes, I’ve not done a great deal over the past week, that’s to say I’ve done none…

I’m hoping that now I’ve been on these new pain meds for a week that the side effects start to settle down and I can concentrate on things again. The only thing I’ve really been able to do this past week is play Skyrim. That’s not a bad thing, and I got another platinum trophy out of it, but I miss writing, and I want to get back into it as soon as I can. But I also don’t want to write for the sake of it and end up churning out crap.

Once I’ve posted this and update the links and whatnot, I’m going to attempt to do some; I guess time will tell.

It’s Been Another (Long) Week

As far as writing goes, this week has been a write off. From pointless hospital appointments taking up a day to new pain meds, making me spaced out, I’ve not been able to do a great deal.

One plus has come out of this week though, and that’s that both Creatures and The Next Stage are now available to those of you with Apple devices as they are now on Apple Books – links are available on the Books page of this blog.

I’ve been working on making them available on both Apple and Google Books, the Google stuff I started last week, and I’m still waiting for my account to be approved, the Apple I started on Wednesday and got them up in a few hours. Google really need to pull their fingers out. But, at least I’ve got them out there so hopefully more people can read them.

In other good news, the reviews for The Next Stage started to come in and so far has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve had 8 ratings so far, and they’ve all be 5 stars, which I think is just incredible. I never thought that something I wrote would be received so well. That’s just another reason why I want to get this book out to as many people as I can. In this challenging year, I hope it brings a little bit of respite from the chaos outside.

In addition to all the purchase options I’m working on, I’m also considering doing a competition for readers to get a signed paperback copy of The Next Stage. I’ve got a few author copies that I want to give away, I just need to iron out what I’m going to do and when, so keep an eye on my Twitter and Instagram for further details.

As for today, once I’ve uploaded this blog, I’m going to try to do some actual writing. I’m torn at the minute of whether I carry on with It’s All in the Eyes, or I do some more work on my ghost-like story which as the moment is temporarily called The Man (I’m hoping a better title will come to me as I write.)

That’s it for blogs again for another week, I’ll hopefully be back next week and able to do a little more, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the side effects from these new painkillers settle down and I can concentrate more on writing and less on shiny things.

Have a good weekend all.

Dopey Words

First off I would just like to apologise if this doesn’t make sense or I start to ramble. I’ve just been put on some stronger painkillers for my hip, and well I’m kinda spaced out.

I’ve spent the majority of the day looking into more ways that I can deliver my books to you, the readers. I’ve posted previously that they’re now available not only on Amazon but Lulu and Payhip too. I’m also working on both Google and Apple books, I’m just waiting for approval.

I’ve been trying to price up different options for the best way to distribute. So far, due to my available funds, my options are somewhat limited. But one option I’m looking at is getting a bulk order of the paperbacks and then selling them on through this site; I don’t know if people will want that, but it’s worth a shot.

Basically, a lot of this has come about because The Next Stage as been receiving amazing reviews and so far hasn’t got anything below 5 stars, and I want to get it to as many people as I can.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve reread some of the reviews because it still staggers me that something I created and spent so much time on, people are actually enjoying, and enough to write about why. It’s an odd feeling, but it’s a nice feeling as @HorrorPaperBack said earlier on Twitter, it’s bewilderfying.

I’ve not really done much writing this week due to being in pain, but I’m hoping I can remedy that over the next couple of days as long as this new medication helps…it’s undoubtedly doing something right now.

As more selling options come up, I’ll continue to update and let you know where they will be available. But for now, check the “Books” page of this site to get your copy from where they’re available now.

Oh yeah, and I’ve also updated the links on the home page below my photo.

Ups and Downs

I decided the other day that I was going to aim to do a new blog every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I didn’t manage to do it this week, so I’m posting today instead.

A few months ago, I found out that I have a torn labrum in my left hip, this has meant for the majority of this year I have been in a lot of pain – even with pain management.

Yesterday was a particularly bad day as the pain seemed to overwhelm everything. As a knock-on effect of this, I also went downhill mood-wise. Most days, I can deal with the pain, but when it gets really bad, it even starts to affect my mental health.

With everything going on in the world, it’s easy to let it all get on top you. But it’s more important than ever to look after your mental health. Even those without diagnosed mental health issues can struggle in the current climate.

I have a hard time talking about the way I feel sometimes, but even I realise the importance of having people that are there for you and will help you through anything.

If you need to, make sure you talk to someone, a friend, relative, co-worker or even a stranger. Just being able to talk about how you feel will remove some of the burdens that you may be feeling.

It’s a tired saying, but it’s okay to not be okay.

In book news, I’m now over 14000 words on It’s All in the Eyes. It’s going pretty well so far. I think it’s going to end up being a mixture of sci-fi and horror, but that could change the more I write. At the moment, writing is helping me get through the bad times. Escaping to a world of my own creation and building it from within really makes a difference.

Today I also received my author copies of The Next Stage. With these arriving I feel like I can finally put this book to rest and concentrate on something new. It’s a strange feeling, but physically having the book in my hands makes it much more real, and something that I extremely proud of.

Hopefully I’ll be able to do another update tomorrow and actually stick to my own schedule.

Be safe out there.